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The Murder Of A King
by [?]

History is full of stories of presentiments, of “visions of sudden death,” made notable by their realization, of strange disasters predicted in advance. Doubtless there have been very many presentiments that failed to come true, enough, possibly, to make those that have been realized mere coincidences. However that be, these agreements of prediction and event are, to say the least, curious. The case of Caesar is well known. We have now to relate that of Henry IV.

Sully has told the story. Henry had married, as a second wife, Mary de’ Medici, daughter of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, and a woman whose headstrong temper and cantankerous disposition were by no means calculated to make his life with her an agreeable one. In the end she strongly insisted on being crowned queen, a desire on her part which was very unpleasant to her royal husband, who seemed to feel that some disaster impended over the event.

“Hey! my friend,” he said to Sully, his intimate, “I know not what is the meaning of it, but my heart tells me that some misfortune will happen to me.”

He was seated on a low chair, his face disturbed by uneasy thought, his fingers drumming on his spectacle-case. Of a sudden he sprang up, and struck his hand sharply on his thigh.

“By God!” he said; “I shall die in this city, and shall never go out of it. They will kill me. I see quite well that they have no other remedy in their dangers but my death. Ah! accursed coronation; thou wilt be the cause of my death!”

“What fancy is this of yours?” asked Sully. “If it continue, I am of opinion that you should break off this anointment and coronation. If you please to give me orders, it shall be done.”

“Yes, break off the coronation,” said the king. “Let me hear no more about it. I shall have my mind at rest from divers fancies which certain warnings have put into it. To hide nothing from you, I have been told that I was to be killed at the first grand ceremony I should undertake, and that I should die in a carriage.”

“You never told me that, sir,” answered Sully. “I have often been astounded to hear you cry out when in a carriage, as if you had dreaded this petty peril, after having so many times seen you amidst cannon-balls, musketry, lance-thrusts, pike-thrusts, and sword-thrusts, without being a bit afraid. Since your mind is so exercised thereby, if I were you, I would go away to-morrow, let the coronation take place without you, or put it off to another time, and not enter Paris for a long time, or in a carriage. If you please, I will send word to Notre Dame and St. Denys to stop everything and to withdraw the workmen.”

“I am very much inclined,” said the king; “but what will my wife say? She has gotten this coronation marvellously into her head.”

“She may say what she likes,” rejoined Sully. “But I cannot think that, when she knows your opinion about it, she will persist any longer.”

He did not know Mary de’ Medici. She did persist strongly and offensively. For three days the matter was disputed, with high words on both sides. In the end, Henry, weary of the contention, and finding it impossible to convince or silence his obstinate wife, gave way, and the laborers were again set to work to prepare for the coronation.

Despite his presentiments Henry remained in Paris, and gave orders for the immediate performance of the ceremony, as if he were anxious to have done with it, and to pass the crisis in his life which he feared. The coronation was proclaimed on the 12th of May, 1610. It took place on the 13th, at St. Denys. The tragical event which he had dreaded did not take place. He breathed easier.