We have it on record that before the
Comte de la Rochefoucauld left the Louvre that night
he received the strongest hints of the peril which
threatened him; and at least one written warning was
handed to him by a stranger in black, and by him in
turn was communicated to the King of Navarre.
We are told further that when he took his final leave,
about the hour of eleven, he found the courtyard brilliantly
lighted, and the three companies of guards
Scotch, and French
drawn up in ranked array
from the door of the great hall to the gate which opened
on the street.
But, the chronicler adds, neither
this precaution, sinister as it appeared to some of
his suite, nor the grave farewell which Rambouillet,
from his post at the gate, took of one of his gentlemen,
shook that chivalrous soul or sapped its generous confidence.
M. de Tignonville was young and less
versed in danger than the Governor of Rochelle; with
him, had he seen so much, it might have been different.
But he left the Louvre an hour earlier
a time when the precincts of the palace, gloomy-seeming
to us in the light cast by coming events, wore their
His thoughts, moreover, as he
crossed the courtyard, were otherwise employed.
So much so, indeed, that though he signed to his
two servants to follow him, he seemed barely conscious
what he was doing; nor did he shake off his reverie
until he reached the corner of the Rue Baillet.
Here the voices of the Swiss who stood on guard opposite
Coligny’s lodgings, at the end of the Rue Bethizy,
could be plainly heard.
They had kindled a fire
in an iron basket set in the middle of the road, and
knots of them were visible in the distance, moving
to and fro about their piled arms.
Tignonville paused before he came
within the radius of the firelight, and, turning,
bade his servants take their way home.
shall follow, but I have business first,” he
The elder of the two demurred.
“The streets are not too safe,” he said.
“In two hours or less, my lord, it will be midnight.
“Go, booby; do you think I am
a child?” his master retorted angrily.
“I’ve my sword and can use it.
shall not be long.
And do you hear, men, keep
a still tongue, will you?”
The men, country fellows, obeyed reluctantly,
and with a full intention of sneaking after him the
moment he had turned his back.
But he suspected
them of this, and stood where he was until they had
passed the fire, and could no longer detect his movements.
Then he plunged quickly into the Rue Baillet, gained
through it the Rue du Roule, and traversing that also,
turned to the right into the Rue Ferronerie, the main
thoroughfare, east and west, of Paris.
halted in front of the long, dark outer wall of the
Cemetery of the Innocents, in which, across the tombstones
and among the sepulchres of dead Paris, the living
Paris of that day, bought and sold, walked, gossiped,
and made love.
About him things were to be seen that
would have seemed stranger to him had he been less
strange to the city.
From the quarter of the
markets north of him, a quarter which fenced in the
cemetery on two sides, the same dull murmur proceeded,
which Mademoiselle de Vrillac had remarked an hour
The sky above the cemetery glowed with
reflected light, the cause of which was not far to
seek, for every window of the tall houses that overlooked
it, and the huddle of booths about it, contributed
a share of the illumination.
At an hour late
even for Paris, an hour when honest men should have
been sunk in slumber, this strange brilliance did
for a moment perplex him; but the past week had been
so full of fêtes, of masques and frolics, often devised
on the moment and dependent on the King’s whim,
that he set this also down to such a cause, and wondered
The lights in the houses did not serve
the purpose he had in his mind, but beside the closed
gate of the cemetery, and between two stalls, was a
votive lamp burning before an image of the Mother and
He crossed to this, and assuring himself
by a glance to right and left that he stood in no
danger from prowlers, he drew a note from his breast.
It had been slipped into his hand in the gallery
before he saw Mademoiselle to her lodging; it had
been in his possession barely an hour.
as its contents were, and easily committed to memory,
he had perused it thrice already.
“At the house next the Golden
, an hour before
midnight, you may find the door open should you desire
to talk farther with C. St. L.”
As he read it for the fourth time
the light of the lamp fell athwart his face; and even
as his fine clothes had never seemed to fit him worse
than when he faintly denied the imputations of gallantry
launched at him by Nancay, so his features had never
looked less handsome than they did now.
of vanity which warmed his cheek as he read the message,
the smile of conceit which wreathed his lips, bespoke
a nature not of the most noble; or the lamp did him
less than justice.
Presently he kissed the note,
and hid it.
He waited until the clock of St.
Jacques struck the hour before midnight; and then
moving forward, he turned to the right by way of the
narrow neck leading to the Rue Lombard.
in the kennel here, his sword in his hand and his
eyes looking to right and left; for the place was
notorious for robberies.
But though he saw more
than one figure lurking in a doorway or under the arch
that led to a passage, it vanished on his nearer approach.
In less than a minute he reached the southern end
of the street that bore the odd title of the Five
Situate in the crowded quarter of
the butchers, and almost in the shadow of their famous
church, this street
which farther north
was continued in the Rue Quimcampoix
in those days a not uncommon mingling of poverty and
On one side of the street a row of lofty
gabled houses, built under Francis the First, sheltered
persons of good condition; on the other, divided from
these by the width of the road and a reeking kennel,
a row of peat-houses, the hovels of cobblers and sausage-makers,
leaned against shapeless timber houses which tottered
upwards in a medley of sagging roofs and bulging gutters.
Tignonville was strange to the place, and nine nights
out of ten he would have been at a disadvantage.
But, thanks to the tapers that to-night shone in many
windows, he made out enough to see that he need search
only the one side; and with a beating heart he passed
along the row of newer houses, looking eagerly for
the sign of the Golden Maid.
He found it at last; and then for
a moment he stood puzzled.
The note said, next
door to the Golden Maid, but it did not say on which
He scrutinised the nearer house, but he
saw nothing to determine him; and he was proceeding
to the farther, when he caught sight of two men, who,
ambushed behind a horse-block on the opposite side
of the roadway, seemed to be watching his movements.
Their presence flurried him; but much to his relief
his next glance at the houses showed him that the door
of the farther one was unlatched.
It stood slightly
ajar, permitting a beam of light to escape into the
He stepped quickly to it
sooner he was within the house the better
the door open and entered.
As soon as he was
inside he tried to close the entrance behind him,
but he found he could not; the door would not shut.
After a brief trial he abandoned the attempt and
passed quickly on, through a bare lighted passage which
led to the foot of a staircase, equally bare.
He stood at this point an instant and listened, in
the hope that Madame’s maid would come to him.
At first he heard nothing save his own breathing;
then a gruff voice from above startled him.
“This way, Monsieur,”
“You are early, but not too soon!”
So Madame trusted her footman!
M. de Tignonville shrugged his shoulders; but after
all, it was no affair of his, and he went up.
Halfway to the top, however, he stood, an oath on
Two men had entered by the open door
even as he had entered!
The imprudence of it!
of leaving the door so that it could not be closed!
He turned, and descended to meet them, his teeth
set, his hand on his sword, one conjecture after another
whirling in his brain.
Was he beset?
it a trap?
Was it a rival?
Was it chance?
Two steps he descended; and then the voice he had heard
before cried again, but more imperatively
“No, Monsieur, this way!
Did you not hear me?
This way, and be quick,
if you please.
By-and-by there will be a crowd,
and then the more we have dealt with the better!”
He knew now that he had made a mistake,
that he had entered the wrong house; and naturally
his impulse was to continue his descent and secure
But the pause had brought the two
men who had entered face to face with him, and they
showed no signs of giving way.
On the contrary.
“The room is above, Monsieur,”
the foremost said, in a matter-of-fact tone, and with
a slight salutation.
“After you, if you
please,” and he signed to him to return.
He was a burly man, grim and truculent
in appearance, and his follower was like him.
Tignonville hesitated, then turned and ascended.
But as soon as he had reached the landing where they
could pass him, he turned again.
“I have made a mistake, I think,”
“I have entered the wrong house.”
“Are you for the house next the Golden Maid,
“No mistake, then,” the
stout man replied firmly.
“You are early,
that is all.
You have arms, I see.
the person whose voice Tignonville had heard at the
head of the stairs
“A white sleeve,
and a cross for Monsieur’s hat, and his name
on the register.
Come, make a beginning!
Make a beginning, man.”
“To be sure, Monsieur.
All is ready.”
“Then lose no time, I say.
Here are others, also early in the good cause.
Welcome all who are for
the true faith!
Death to the heretics!
‘Kill, and no quarter!’ is the word to-night!”
“Death to the heretics!”
the last comers cried in chorus.
and no quarter!
At what hour, M.
“At daybreak,” the Provost
“But have no fear,
the tocsin will sound.
The King and our good
man M. de Guise have all in hand.
A white sleeve,
a white cross, and a sharp knife shall rid Paris of
Gentlemen of the quarter, the word
of the night is ’Kill, and no quarter!
Death to the Huguenots!’”
Death to the Huguenots!
Kill, and no quarter!” A dozen
room was beginning to fill
waved their weapons
and echoed the cry.
Tignonville had been fortunate enough
to apprehend the position
and the peril
in which he stood
before Maillard advanced
to him bearing a white linen sleeve.
instant of discovery his heart had stood a moment,
the blood had left his cheeks; but with some faults,
he was no coward, and he managed to hide his emotion.
He held out his left arm, and suffered the beadle
to pass the sleeve over it and to secure the white
linen above the elbow.
Then at a gesture he gave
up his velvet cap, and saw it decorated with a white
cross of the same material.
“Now the register, Monsieur,”
Maillard continued briskly; and waving him in the
direction of a clerk, who sat at the end of the long
table, having a book and a ink-horn before him, he
turned to the next comer.
Tignonville would fain have avoided
the ordeal of the register, but the clerk’s
eye was on him.
He had been fortunate so far,
but he knew that the least breath of suspicion would
destroy him, and summoning his wits together he gave
his name in a steady voice.
It was his mother’s maiden name, and the first
that came into his mind.
“Recently; by birth, of the Limousin.”
“Good, Monsieur,” the
clerk answered, writing in the name.
And he turned
to the next.
“And you, my friend?”