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A Perilous Amour
by [?]


Such in brief were the reasons which would have led me, had I followed the promptings of my own sagacity, to oppose the return of the Jesuits. It remains for me only to add that these arguments lost all their weight when set in the balance against the safety of my beloved master. To this plea the king himself for once condescended, and found those who were most strenuous to dissuade him the least able to refute it; since the more a man abhorred the Jesuits, the more ready he was to allow that the king’s life could not be safe from their practices while the edict against them remained in force. The support which I gave to the king on this occasion exposed me to the utmost odium of my co-religionists, and was in later times ill-requited by the order. But a remarkable incident that occurred while the matter was still under debate, and which I now for the first time make public, proved beyond question the wisdom of my conduct.

Fontainebleau being at this time in the hands of the builders, the king had gone to spend his Easter at Chantilly, whither Mademoiselle d’Entragues had also repaired. During his absence from Paris I was seated one morning in my library at the Arsenal, when I was informed that Father Cotton, the same who at Metz had presented a petition from the Jesuits, and who was now in Paris pursuing that business under a safe-conduct, craved leave to pay his respects to me. I was not surprised, for I had been a little before this of some service to him. The pages of the court, while loitering outside the Louvre, had raised a tumult in the streets, and grievously insulted the father by shouting after him, “Old Wool! Old Cotton!” in imitation of the Paris street cry. For this the king, at my instigation, had caused them to be soundly whipped, and I supposed that the Jesuit now desired to thank me for advice–given, in truth, rather out of regard to discipline than to him. So I bade them admit him.

His first words, uttered before my secretaries could retire, indicated that this was indeed his errand; and for a few moments I listened to such statements from him and made such answers myself as became our several positions. Then, as he did not go, I began to conceive the notion that he had come with a further purpose; and his manner, which seemed on this occasion to lack ease, though he was well gifted with skill and address, confirmed the notion. I waited, therefore, with patience, and presently he named his Majesty with many expressions of devotion to his person. “I trust,” said he, “that the air of Fontainebleau agrees with him, M. de Rosny?”

“You mean, good father, of Chantilly?” I answered.

“Ah, to be sure!” he rejoined, hastily. “He is, of course, at Chantilly.”

After that he rose to depart, but was delayed by the raptures into which he fell at sight of the fire, which, the weather being cold for the time of year, I had caused to be lit. “It burns so brightly,” said he, “that it must be of boxwood, M. de Rosny.”

“Of boxwood?” I exclaimed, in surprise.

“Ay, is it not of boxwood?” quoth he, looking at me with much simplicity.

“Certainly not!” I made answer, rather peevishly. “Who ever heard of people burning boxwood in Paris, father?”

He apologised for his ignorance–which was indeed matter of wonder–on the ground of his southern birth, and took his departure, leaving me in much doubt as to the real purport of his visit. I was indeed more troubled by the uncertainty I felt than another less conversant with the methods of the Jesuits might have been, for I knew that it was their habit to let drop a word where they dared not speak plainly, and I felt myself put on my mettle to interpret the father’s hint. My perplexities were increased by the belief that he would not have intervened in any matter of small moment, and by the conviction, which grew upon me apace, that while I stood idle before the hearth my dearest interests and those of France were at stake.