THE MEMOIRS OF THE Countess of BERCI.

Taken from the French By the Author of the Female Quixote.

In TWO VOLUMES.

VOL. I.

LONDON: Printed for A. MILLAR, in the Strand, M DCC LVI.

THE HISTORY OF THE Chevalier DES ESSARS AND THE Countess of BERCI.

PART I.

IN the Reign of one of the greatest Princes the French Monarchy ever had, lived a young Noble­man equally illustrious for his Vir­tues, and the Grandeur of his Descent. The Count of Berci is the Name I shall give him here. His Person was genteel and elegant, his Manners soft and insinuating. He was in high Esteem for his Valour; and his Fidelity to his Master during those Troubles which disturbed the first Years of the Reign of Henry IV, acquired him the Esteem of that great King, who knew how to distinguish, and loved to reward Merit.

[Page 2]With such Advantages of Nature and For­tune, it will be easily imagined, the Count of Berci could not be unsuccessful in a well-placed Passion: nor indeed was he suffered to sigh long for the Daughter of the Marquis de Saint-Sauveur, whom he demanded in Marriage. The Marquis approved of his Ad­dresses, and the young Lady gave him her Hand without Reluctance.

The Count and Countess of Berci passed the first Years of their Marriage in the chaste Pleasures of a tender Union. The Count neglected no Opportunity to procure for his Wife all those Amusements which it is natu­ral for Persons of her Sex and Years to be fond of: and the Countess, on her Side, made it her chief Care to merit his Esteem by an exact and prudent Conduct, and preserve his Love by her Softness and Attention to please. Hymen lavished on this amiable Pair his choicest Favours: their Love, always tender and sincere, was always uniform and constant, neither embittered with Jealousy, nor palled by any of those Disgusts which too often fol­low the Possession of what we have most ar­dently desired.

But this Happiness was not to last for ever. The Chevalier des Essars happened to see the Countess of Berci one Evening at the Play: to see her, and to love her with the most ar­dent Passion, was the same Thing. The Che­valier's Birth was noble; his Face, tho' beau­tiful to Excess, was without Effeminacy; [Page 3] his Person, tho' eminently genteel, was bold and manly; to the frank and easy Manners of a Soldier, he joined the polished Elegance of a Court. His early Valour had made him remarkable in Europe, and the following Pages of this History will furnish such amazing Proofs of his Courage as would transcend Be­lief, if the Histories of past Ages, had not given Credibility to the Exploits of those He­roes who filled the World with their Glory and their Virtues.

The Chevalier des Essars was then in his thirtieth Year, and the Countess of Berci just turned of eighteen. Her Stature was tall, her Shape easy and delicate, her Complexion fine and animated, her Eyes were large, black, and full of Fire; all the Features of her Face were regular and charming; a thousand name­less Graces were diffused over her whole Form, and captivated the Heart of every Be­holder. Yet this Person, lovely as it was, was her least Perfection. She had a fine Understanding, cultivated by Reading and Reflexion; a Wit lively and pleasing; a noble and generous Mind, and a Sweetness in her Manners that secured all those Hearts which the Charms of her Person had first sur­prised. But truly admirable as all these Qua­lities were, it was that unclouded Reason, that solid Virtue, that noble Fortitude, and that blameless Conduct, which she constantly maintained even in her greatest Misfortunes and the most dangerous Circumstances of her Life, that crowned and gave a Lustre to them all. [Page 4] She was early taught, that Beauty, when not accompanied by Virtue and the brighter Graces of the Mind, could never hope for the Esteem of wise and good Men, whose Eyes it only pleased, but could not extend its Influence to the Heart: and that the greatest personal Ad­vantages, if not strengthened by Virtue, were the most fatal Gifts, that Nature could dispense.

The Countess of Berci felt all the Force of these Maxims; she received and lodged them in her Heart, and regulated by them the whole Conduct of her Life; and if she, at length, felt some Sensibility for the Passion of the Chevalier des Essars, she re­strained it within such strict Bounds that it never endangered her Virtue; and by her prudent Conduct she changed the most im­petuous Man in the World, into the most re­spectful and submissive Lover that ever was.

But it is now Time to return to the Che­valier des Essars. At the first Sight of the Countess of Berci her Charms made a deep Impression upon his Heart, he was so wholly engrossed by them, that he was indifferent to all Things else, nor could he give a Mo­ment's Attention to any other Object. When the Play was ended, he eagerly enquired the Name of that enchanting fair One, and was overjoyed to find he might love her without blushing. He returned home full of pleasing Anxiety: a new and sweet Disorder possest him. How altered in a few Hours! He was no more: that fiery Warrior, whose Soul till [Page 5] then, had been accessible to no other Passion but Glory. The Image of the Countess of Berci took full Possession of his Breast, and the Conquest of her Heart was the only Am­bition he was now sensible of. Oh powerful Love! how in a Moment dost thou fix thy Empire in our Souls, and suspend or destroy every other Passion.

The Chevalier des Essars would have re­joiced to find that the Object of his Passion had been single, and at Liberty to receive his Vows. Her being married was a Circum­stance which gave him great Grief and Per­plexity; he even made some Efforts to van­quish his new-born Love: Company, Dissi­pation, and the Remonstrances of his Friends might perhaps, have rendered those Efforts effectual; but he, on the contrary, delivered himself up to Solitude, and conversing only with his own Thoughts, his Reason became subjected to his Love: he flattered himself that he might love without a Crime; his dis­ordered Imagination suggested a thousand vain Chimera's, and leaving it to Time and For­tune to make him happy, he abandoned him­self entirely to the Violence of his Passion. Although he had never seen the Countess of Berci till that fatal Evening at the Play, yet he had some slight Acquaintance with the Count; and he conceived that the best Way to get an Introduction to the Wife, was to commence a strict Friendship with the Hus­band. And here his Success was answerable to his Wishes. The Count of Berci thought [Page 6] it an Honour to be ranked among the parti­cular Friends of the Chevalier des Essars, and met his Advances with such Eagerness, that in a short Time they became inseparable.

The Count of Berci was continually talking to his Wife of the great Merit of the Che­valier: he made one in all their Parties of Pleasure. The Countess, to please her Lord, took all Opportunities of shewing the Respect and Esteem she had for him; and the Cheva­lier at first only discovered a profound Venera­tion for the Countess: but his Passion gaining daily new Force by the frequent Opportuni­ties he had of seeing the lovely Object of it, it was with the utmost Difficulty he con­cealed the Secret of his Heart; and, weary of the intolerable Restraint, he resolved to seize the first favourable Moment to reveal his Love without giving the Count any Suspicion: and this Design employed all his Thoughts.

In effect, it was very difficult to execute: but what will not a Lover attempt, who lives in the most terrible Uncertainty of his Fate? The Chevalier, to prevent giving the Count any Suspicions, had at first regulated all his Actions, his Words, and even his Looks, with so much Prudence that nothing escaped him in his Presence which could dis­cover his real Sentiments: he was neither too free, nor too reserved, and kept so just a Mean; that his Behaviour had not the least Appearance of Artifice, or Affectation. The Count and Chevalier were always together, [Page 7] and every Day was distinguished with some new Amusement. Assemblies, Tournaments, Running at the Ring, each had a Place in this Circle of Pleasures. The two Friends were always the Challengers in every Tour­nament, and never failed to give the most shining Proofs of their Valour and Dexterity.

In former Times the French Nobility were passionately fond of all those Diversions which at first were instituted in Honour of the Ladies. The Prizes, which the Victors always received from their Hands, was a Spur to their Emula­tion: and early incited them to form themselves for all those Exercises which it became every Nobleman to be skilful in. But Tourna­ments, which are natural Representations of Battles, however proper they might be to in­struct the young Nobility in the military Art, were notwithstanding abolished in France, as being thought too dangerous. No one can be ignorant of the fatal Accident that hap­pened to Henry the Second, one of our Kings, who died of a Wound he received in a Tour­nament, in the forty first Year of his Age, and the thirteenth of his Reign. Tourna­ments and Running at the Ring were still in Use in the Times I am speaking of, and they were the most splendid and most noble Amuse­ments in the Court of our Kings. I hope the Reader will pardon this short Digression, the succeeding Part of this History will shew the Necessity of it. But let us now return to our noble Friends.

[Page 8]The Count of Berci had a Taste for Magnificence and Pleasure. The Chevalier was always with him either at his House, or at some public Diversion, after which, till the Hour of Supper arrived, they amused them­selves with walking in some of those en­chanting Gardens which constitute one of the chief Pleasures of Paris. The charming Countess made one in all their Parties. The Chevalier would have thought them insipid without her Presence: but still no Opportu­nity offered to speak to her in private. In vain he endeavoured to conceal his Torments; the soft Languor that appeared in his Eyes when he met those of the Countess, gave her some Suspicion of his Passion; but the unfor­tunate Lover gained no Advantage from those Suspicions. At length the fatal Flame that preyed upon his Heart began to affect his Health, he grew pale and wan, a fixed Me­lancholy appeared in his Countenance and Behaviour.

The Count of Berci was greatly affect­ed with the Situation in which he saw his Friend. ‘What ails you, my dear Cheva­lier,’ said he to him one Day when they were walking together; ‘some secret Grief lies heavy upon your Heart. Is your Fa­vour at Court declining, or does some one of the Beauties that adorn it hold you in her Chains, and by her Rigour occasion this strange Alteration in you? Speak, my dear Chevalier, open your Heart freely to me, and be assured, that my Fidelity in keeping [Page 9] your Secret, will not be less than my Con­cern for your Misfortunes.’

The Chevalier was a little disconcerted by this Discourse of his Friend. 'My dear Count, said he, endeavouring to suppress a Sigh which nevertheless would force its Way; ‘how oblig­ing is this tender Anxiety of yours. Believe me, there are few Evils in Life that would give me much Affliction with such a Friend to alleviate them. But indeed I have no Rea­son to complain of my bad Fortune: the King is still pleased to continue his Favour towards me; and my Heart, hitherto insen­sible to the Charms of Love, has escaped the Chains of any of our Beauties, whom I have beheld with an Indifference that pre­served my Freedom. Ambition is the sole Passion of my Soul, and the Desire of ac­quiring Glory takes up all my Thoughts: Ever since our invincible Monarch has been in peaceable Possession of the Throne of his Ancestors, the French Nobility have lan­guished in a shameful Inactivity. I can no longer bear to lead this inglorious Life, and am determined to seek for Laurels in other Countries, which I will water with the Blood of our Enemies. The Desire of Glo­ry, my Friend, is the Passion that consumes me, hence proceeds that Discontent you have observed in me; and that Languor your Tenderness has likewise taken Notice of, is caused by a slight Indisposition with which I have been troubled for some Days past.’

[Page 10]'I am willing to believe you, Chevalier,' replied the Count: ‘but if there is any Foun­dation for the Report that now prevails of a Rupture between the King and the Empe­ror, you will not need to go far to seek Occasions of acquiring Glory, and of signa­lising your Valour. As for the Indisposi­tion you complain of, I am persuaded the Air of the Country will contribute greatly to remove it. It is now the most agreeable Season of the Year. The Countess and my­self intend to set out in a few Days for my Estate of Beauplan; it is but a few Leagues distant from Fontainebleau, where the King is at present. We will go from Time to Time to pay our Respects to his Majesty; and we will endeavour to make your Stay at Beauplan so agreeable, that you shall be quite freed from your Melancholy. Come, you must go with us, I desire it as a Fa­vour; and be assured you cannot give the Countess a more sensible Pleasure: she esteems you greatly; and the Alteration she has observed in your Health gives her no less Uneasiness than it has done me.’

The Chevalier eagerly accepted a Proposal so conformable to his Wishes. The Count's last Words gave him a sweet Emotion, that might have been easily discovered in his Countenance, had not the Arrival of the rest of the Company, who joined them that Instant, concealed it from his Observation. The Conversation now became general, and during the rest of the Time that they continued walking, they spoke [Page 11] of nothing but the Pleasures and Amusements the Country would afford them.

In the mean Time, the Chevalier, who never, since the Commencement of his fatal Passion, had had Room to entertain the least Sentiment of Joy, resigned himself up to the pleasing Hopes with which the new Proposal of his Friend inspired him. He flattered him­self that, while he continued in the House of his beloved Countess, he could not sail of meeting with frequent Opportunities of en­tertaining her alone, in one of which he might assume Courage enough to declare his Passion; at least he hoped that the calm Plea­sures of the Retirement he was going to, would alleviate his Cares. Full of these soothing Ideas he set out for Beauplan; but he soon found that Groves and Meads, thick Woods and winding Alleys, with the soft Musick of Birds, and murmuring Streams, were powerful Aids to Love, and while they soothed, increased his Flame. He had likewise vainly hoped that in the [...] should find his Mistress less engaged [...] to form their Ar­rival at the Castle of Beauplan, all the neigh­bouring Gentry came to pay their Respects to the Count and his Lady, and for fifteen Days there was such a constant Succession of Visitors at the Castle, that the Chevalier ne­ver found the Countess alone one Moment, during that whole Time.

The unfortunate Chevalier was now in a worse Situation than he had ever been. The [Page 12] Amusements of the Country had no Charms for him, all Company was irksome, he sought Solitude and Silence, and there without Re­straint abandoned himself to the gloomy Re­flexions which filled his Soul. These frequent Absences giving the Count great Uneasiness, he used to go in Search of him, and always found him either in the wildest Part of the Forest, or in some romantic Cave, swallowed up in deep Reflexion, with his Eyes fixed on one particular Object, which nevertheless he seemed not to regard; his Mind being whol­ly employed upon what passed within it. The Count was now convinced that his Friend had disguised the true Situation of his Heart, and that the Noise and Tumult of Paris were more likely to cure his Disorder, than the Privacy of the Country.

The Count, who neglected nothing which he thought could dissipate his Melancholy, obliged him one Day to make one in a Party for the Chace: they were to hunt the Stag. The Countes [...] [...] at home with a Bro­ther of [...], a Youth about twenty Years o [...] [...] ▪ Madam de Berci, as soon as she had dined, desired her Brother to walk out with her, to meet the Hunters in their Return. They had already entered a Wood whose dark embowering Shades for ever ex­cluded the Sun, and made it look like the eter­nal Abode of Solitude and Silence. She sat down at the Root of a Tree to rest herself a Moment, when her Attention was imme­diately engaged by the Voice of a Person [Page 13] whom, although she did not see, she knew to be but at a small Distance from her. She rose up instantly, and with her Brother-in-law walked softly towards the Place from whence this Voice seemed to come, and being now very near she heard distinctly these Words:

‘Unhappy Wretch, what is it thou hopest for? Why dost thou waste the miserable Re­mains of thy Life in this wild Solitude? Art thou resolved to die thus obscurely, and not have the melancholy Pleasure of letting her, for whom thou diest, know the Sacri­fice thou makest her? Ah! too lovely Countess, added he after a Moment's Pause, is it possible that my Eyes have not disco­vered to you the Flame you have kind­led in my Heart? Sure, if you knew the Torments I suffer, your Compassion at least would meet the Wretch you have un­done. No, no, I deceive myself; your haughty Virtue would suggest to you that I ought to die unpitied and unlamented. Wretch that I am, dare I avow such Sen­timents? Is it for me to form such auda­cious Hopes! Is it for me to make such unjust Complaints? Ought I not rather to blush at my own Baseness, I who seek to violate the sacred Rights of Hospitality, and break through all the tender Ties of Friend­ship? Yet, alas! mine is an involuntary Crime, I love, and who can resist the Force of that imperious Passion?’

[Page 14]He rested for some Moments on this Thought, which seemed to calm his Sorrow as it palliated his Crime, and lessened his own Remorse. But again with new Sighs he continued his mourn­ful Soliloquy in this Manner: ‘It is true, O adorable Countess, that, when I first be­held you, I was no longer Master of my Heart; you triumphed over it in Spite of myself, and I am sensible your Power will not cease but with my Life. But oh! how long will this miserable Life endure, unless I assume Courage enough to reveal my Pas­sion. Ah! you will doubtless punish me for my Temerity: yet I am resolved to disclose my fatal Secret, and, before your Eyes will pierce this unhappy Breast, if I am not able to move some Pity in yours.’

The Countess of Berci, unwilling to hear more, left the Forest with Precipitation. It was not difficult for her to discover that she herself was the Subject of those Complaints she had just heard, and that it was the Che­valier des Essars who had uttered them. That unhappy Lover, who had with much Diffi­culty been persuaded to hunt that Day, took the first Opportunity that offered to with­draw, and was returning to the Castle with a Resolution to discover his Passion to the Coun­tess. But the natural Timidity of a Lover restraining him, instead of entering, he took a Path that carried him from the Castle, and following it, found himself insensibly at the Entrance of this Wood; its Gloominess pleased [Page 15] him, he alighted from his Horse, and tying it to a Tree, wandered about on Foot a long Time, till being tired, he threw himself down under the Shade of a large Tree, and there gave free Course to his Complaints, not imagining that he should be overheard, in a Place which seemed to him, to be only a sit Recess for Wretches like himself.

It is not easy to determine which was most surprised, the Countess or her Brother-in-law. This young Lord had till then been absolute­ly ignorant of the Chevalier's Passion for his Sister, and if some slight Suspicions of it had forced their Way into the Mind of the Coun­tess, her Virtue never suffered her Thoughts to rest a Moment upon them. Although her Innocence was fully proved by the Com­plaints her Lover had uttered, yet she was under great Uneasiness at what had happened. Young, innocent, and unexperienced, she knew not what Conduct to observe on so cri­tical an Occasion. She could not determine, whether it was most eligible to recommend Secresy to her Brother-in-law, or to desire him to reveal to her Husband what he had heard; whether she ought to conceal an Af­fair of such Consequence from the Count, or tell him herself what he might possibly learn one Day from his Brother. After some Mo­ments Reflexion, she believed the Danger equally great, whether she was silent, or dis­closed the Secret, and therefore took a Re­solution upon the Spot, not only to say no­thing to her Husband, but also to dissemble [Page 16] her Knowledge of it even to her Brother-in-law: accordingly she pursued her Way to the Castle in a profound Silence, and seemed to have understood nothing of what she had heard.

But she could not impose upon the young Berci he easily penetrated into her Thoughts, and knew how to account for her Perplexity. He did not love the Chevalier des Essars; the great Friendship his Brother exprest for him excited his Jealousy, and he secretly congratu­lated himself at first, that Fortune had fur­nished him with a favourable Opportunity to ruin him for ever with his Brother. But these were the first Motions of his Mind: his na­tural Generosity prevailed over his Passions, and he rejected with Shame the base Thoughts which had involuntarily obtruded themselves upon him.

He was apprehensive likewise, that if his Brother should be made acquainted with the Sentiments which the Chevalier des Es­sars had avowed, it might raise Suspicions injurious to the Honour of his Wife, and change that tender Love he had hitherto felt for her, and that Confidence he had reposed in her Fidelity, into Indifference and Distrust. The young Chevalier de Berci had a great Esteem for his Sister-in-law; he trembled at the Thoughts of kindling the Flame of Discord between her and her Husband; and he loved his Brother too tenderly to inspire him with a Passion so cruel and tormenting as Jealou­sy. [Page 17] All these Considerations determined him to be silent with respect to what had hap­pened: but observing that the Countess con­tinued silent and pensive, he spoke to her thus: ‘I am no longer surprised, Madam, at the terrible Melancholy in which the Chevalier des Essars is plunged: he is in Love, and you are the Object of his Passion. And I must needs confess that the extreme Indifference you discover for this unhappy Man astonishes me.’

'Methinks,' replied the Countess with some Emotion, ‘you are not less indiscreet than the Person you speak of. If it be true, that I am the Object of his Pas­sion, as you tell me, it is no less true that the Conquest, far from flattering my Vanity, gives me on the contrary great Uneasiness. But that we may no longer have Occasion to talk of the Chevalier des Essars and his presumptuous Designs, for which I am truly afflicted, I conjure you by our mutual Friendship to assist me in finding out the Means of procuring his De­parture from Beauplan; there is nothing I wish with more Ardour than to be freed from his Presence, that I may receive no farther Proof of that Extravagance you at­tribute to him. My Virtue is alarmed by the bare Possibility that I may be suspec­ted of giving the least Encouragement to his unhappy Passion; and my Honour is sensibly wounded by being the involuntaly Object of it.’

[Page 18] ‘I am very much concerned, Madam, replied the young Berci, that I cannot do you the Service you require of me. If I undertake to remove the Chevalier des Essars from Beauplan, he may possi­bly complain of my Proceedings to my Brother, who will doubtless insist upon knowing my Reasons for thus treating a Man who is so dear to him; how then shall I avoid disclosing a Secret which for many Reasons it is not fit he should be acquainted with? However, if you shall judge it pro­per to write a Letter to the Chevalier such as your own Prudence shall dictate to you, I will very willingly take upon myself the Care of getting it safely delivered to him; and I am persuaded that honouring you so much as he does, and seeing that his Pas­sion is both discovered and contemned, he will take a Resolution to banish himself voluntarily from your Presence, rather than interrupt your Quiet, and the Happiness of your Family.’

This Expedient was approved by the Countess, and she resolved to put it in Execu­tion that very Night. They arrived at the Castle without meeting any one; but the Hun­ters were not long after them. They entered with joyful Acclamations, having taken in that Day's Sport a monstrous Stag. The Che­valier des Essars was the last that returned home; they did not fail to railly him upon his leaving them; he got off by saying that he had lost his Way, and had not been able to re­join [Page 19] the Company. Little did he then imagine that the Complaints he had uttered in the Fo­rest at Beauplan had reached the Ears of his Mistress, and that she was forming such cruel Resolutions against him.

The Countess of Berci, whose Mind was in great Agitation retired to her Apartment sooner than usual, and giving Orders to her Attendants that no one should interrupt her, she shut herself up in her Closet, and aban­doned herself to her Reflexions. The Ad­venture of the Forest, so dangerous to her Re­putation, so injurious to her Virtue, filled her with Inquietude. She dreaded the fatal Conse­quences that might result from it; she reproa­ched her own innocent Self for being the Ob­ject of so criminal a Pursuit, and detested those Charms which had been capable of inspiring Wishes, and of suggesting Hopes destructive to her Fame: a Torrent of Tears ran from her fine Eyes, and wet that beautiful Breast which was afflicting itself for the Crimes of others, not her own.

At length, she became a little more composed, and began to write: after many times altering, effacing, and writing anew, she at length finish­ed a Letter, and sending for her Brother-in-law, she delivered it to him, intreating him to dis­pose it in such a Manner that the Chevalier des Essars might find it that Night in his Chamber, without his being able to guess how it came there. She recommended it to him in a par­ticular Manner that in copying this anonimous [Page 20] Letter he should carefully disguise his Hand, for she apprehended some dangerous Conse­quences might ensue, if the Chevalier disco­vered that it was the young Berci, who had written the Letter.

Every Thing was done with as much Expedi­tion and Secresy as she could have wished. Sup­per being served, the Countess left her Chamber and seated herself at Table: the whole Compa­ny, except the Chevalier and the Countess, was chearful and supped with a good Appetite. How­ever they assumed as much Gaiety as possible, and both carefully dissembled the uneasy Thoughts which agitated their Souls. The Countess tasted by Anticipation the good Effects her Letter was likely to produce, and the Cheva­lier, ignorant of the new Torments that For­tune was preparing for him, regretted his not having made Use of the favourable Oppor­tunity which the Count's Absence had afforded him to declare his Passion; and was resolved not to defer opening his whole Heart to the Countess any longer than the next Day, if he should be so happy to find her alone.

As soon as the Company broke up, the Count as usual attended the Chevalier to his Apartment, where after discoursing with him some Time upon indifferent Matters, he retired and left him with his Servants, whom the Chevalier dismissing when he was undrest, approached his Bed and then found the fatal Letter, which was conceived in these Words: ‘Fly from this hospitable House, which thou hast vio­lated [Page 21] with thy impure Designs? Fly, rash and presumptuous Man! Heaven has per­mitted thy impious Thoughts to be dis­closed, which thou hadst vainly imagined were hid in the inmost Recesses of thy Heart; and out of the Depth of a vast Fo­rest, amidst the Shades of an eternal Night, has brought thy Crime into open Day. Unworthy as thou art of the Name of a Gentleman, thou hast plotted the Disho­nour of the Count of Berci thy Friend: and not satisfied with having formed De­signs against the Innocence of his Wife, thou hast the Audacity to resolve upon con­fessing thy Passion to her, a Passion as odious as it is criminal. Thy Death had been al­ready the Punishment for thy Crime, if thy injured Friend and his Wife, both equally outraged, had been made acquainted with thy Purpose: But if Heaven has permitted that they should be still ignorant of it, it is because thou shouldst have Time to reflect upon the Horror of thy Enterprise. Fly then instantly from a Place where, if thou shouldst happen to be discovered, nothing could preserve thee from the Fury of their just Revenge.’

What a cruel Stroke was this to a tender Lover, to have all his Hopes blasted in a Moment, and deprived for ever of the Sight of her who was dearer to him than Life. Pale, trembling, and overwhelmed with the deepest Despair, he remained for a long Time motionless, with his Eyes fixed on the fatal [Page 22] Letter which he still held in his Hand. He could not comprehend by whom it had been written with such an Appearance of Mystery, but he knew that he was discovered, and that the Complaints he had made that Day in the Forest had been overheard. Opprest with Grief, he threw himself upon his Bed, but Sleep was a stranger to his Eyes. In vain he endeavoured to guess the Author of this cruel Letter, the Count of Berci he knew, had not quitted the Chase, and it was not pro­bable that that Nobleman would, on an Oc­casion wherein his Honour was so deeply concerned, have contented himself with writing in such a Manner. Neither was it likely that the Countess was the Author of it: He was entirely ignorant of her having been in the Forest, and, besides, the Letter declared that she as well as her Husband had no Sus­picion of his Love and his Schemes. It was probable, therefore, that this anonymous Let­ter had been written by the Count of Berci's Brother, who had not been of the Party for Hunting. The Chevalier had on many Oc­casions perceived that this young Lord was not his Friend; but he could not persuade him­self that a Youth like him, stimulated by Hatred, would have been capable of acting with so much Prudence and Moderation in an Affair which furnished him with an Opportunity of ruining him with the Count his Brother.

The more he reflected upon this Letter, the greater Uncertainty he found himself in, and the more his Trouble increased. [Page 23] But miserable as he knew he should be, when deprived of the Sight of his dear Countess, yet he resolved to quit the Castle of Beauplan immediately: he was convinced, that since his Passion was discovered by some one in the Family, he could not stay longer without ex­posing the Honour of Madam de Berci to Suspicion, and that the perpetual Restraint he should be obliged to lay upon himself, would subject him to new Torments. His Thoughts now were wholly employed upon the Means of departing without giving Umbrage to the Count; and how to procure a Mo­ment's Conversation with the Countess, the Hope of which was the only Consolation he had in the miserable Condition to which he was reduced.

As soon as Day appeared, he went himself and wakened one of his Footmen, ordering him to prepare to set out for Fontainebleau with the utmost Expedition; he then wrote a Letter to one of his most intimate Friends at Court, intreating him to send him an An­swer after the Model he prescribed to him. He then directed his Footman to give this Letter into his Friend's own Hands, and to bring him his Answer with the utmost Dis­patch. The Servant returned early the next Morning from Fontainbleau with the requested Letter, in which the Chevalier's Friend in­formed him that it was necessary he should come to Court as soon as possible, for Rea­sons of great Importance, which he could not confide to any one but himself.

[Page 24]In the mean Time the Chevalier wasted all his Moments in contriving Expedients to pro­cure an Interview with the Countess, but none of them succeeded: she avoided him so carefully, and with such apparent Design, that he was convinced she not only had dis­covered his Passion, but was likewise the Author of that Letter, which had so greatly alarmed him. Finding all his Endeavours to speak to the Countess ineffectual, he went to the Count's Apartment, where, as his good Fortune would have it, he also found the Countess his Wife. He shewed Monsieur de Berci the Letter he had received from his Friend, and intreated him not to be offended, that for some Time he should be obliged to deprive himself of the Pleasure of his Society. The Count, who tenderly loved the Chevalier des Essars, was greatly afflicted at this News. ‘You cannot, sure, said he, be so much hur­ried as to hinder you from giving us at least the Remainder of this Day, to prepare for the Grief we shall suffer by losing you; be­sides, I have myself received some News from Court, which I want to communicate to you, and to have your Advice upon.’ Saying this, the Count quitted the Room immediately, without waiting for the Cheva­lier's Answer; for the Express that had brought him Letters from Paris attended his Orders; and by thus leaving him alone with his Wife, he himself contributed to satisfy the Wishes of this too tender and unfortunate Lover.

[Page 25]The Countess, seeing her Husband leave the Room, was preparing to follow him, excu­sing herself to the Chevalier on Account of some necessary Orders she had to give; but the Chevalier, well knowing the Value of an Opportunity which he might probably never meet with again, stopt her with a respectful Air, and beholding her with Eyes in which the Disorder of his Soul was but too visible, ‘Ah do not fly, Madam, said he with a trem­bling Voice, grant me one Moment's Audi­ence. I have just acquainted the Count with the News that has been brought me from Court, but I have received others also from a Person who is extremely dear to me. I conjure you, Madam, do not refuse me the Favour of reading this Letter, it will not de­tain you long.’ Saying these Words he pre­sented her with the Billet, which he suspected she had wrote to him, and fixing his Eyes at the same Time attentively upon her Face, the Countess, who in an Instant perceived the Snare he had laid for her, could not constrain herself so far as to conceal her just Indignation from the Chevalier. ‘What Advantage do you expect from your Artifice, Monsieur, said she, what have you dared to hope from this Temerity? Can you imagine that I will suffer you to remain at Beauplan after the Offence you have been guilty of? Be satis­fied with my Moderation in not revealing your injurious Designs to my Lord. And take Care that by another Attempt, which may possibly come to his Knowledge, my Honour may not be wounded by the Sacri­fice [Page 26] of your Life to his Resentment.’ ‘Ah! Madam, replied the Chevalier, throwing himself at her Feet, how unjust, how rigorous are you! I love the Count of Berci, your Husband, with the sincerest Affection, and I adore you with such Purity of Sentiments, such inviolable Respect, that I cannot think either of you ought to be offended at my Passion. It is indeed true, Madam, that what I concealed from you, through Fear of your Resentment, I freely uttered to the Trees amidst the Gloominess of a Forest that seemed sacred to Solitude and Grief. There it was that I indulged my Sorrow by Complaints, which I had not the Temerity to wish, might come to your Ear: But since, contrary to my In­tentions, you have heard them, suffer me to confess, Madam, that if it is a Crime to love an amiable Object with the most respectful Passion, I am the most guilty Man in the World. Nay, more, while I confess so freely this Crime, if it be one, I likewise protest that I can never repent of it. Ah! Madam, how useless are your Threats against my Life? I would only preserve it for your Service, and I cannot sacrifice it more nobly than to my Love for you. But your Honour requires that I should deprive myself of the only Consola­tion my unhappy Destiny affords me, I must live without seeing you, that your Quiet may not be disturbed, nor your Re­putation injured. Ah! what would not such Motives prevail upon me to do? Yes, [Page 27] Madam, I will leave you, I will reduce my­self to the most horrible Despair, rather than give you the sl [...]ghtest Uneasiness; b [...]t do not imagine that I will renounce my Love. Alas! it is no longer in my Power to do so: All I can do is to avoid your Presence, that I may adore you without of­fending you. I go then, Madam, from your Sight; yes, you shall have this fatal Proof of my Obedience. But, ah! permit me to intreat, that softened by such an im­plicit Submission to your inhuman Com­mands, you may be one Day prevailed upon to recall a miserable Wretch, who to please you, banished himself from the most de­lightful Abode he can ever be in, in this World.’

This Speech, uttered with those insinuat­ing Charms which always accompany the Discourse of a Lover, tender, submissive, and unhappy, made some Impression on the Breast of the Countess; but the more she felt her­self moved by Words so well calculated to seduce her, the more she guarded herself against their dangerous Softness, by reflecting upon what she owed to her own Honour, and her Husband's Tenderness for her. She turned away her Eyes, that she might not meet those of the Chevalier, whose passionate Glances died her Cheeks with Blushes, and gave her a Confusion she wished him not to be sensible of. Assuming, therefore, a calm and serene Air, she answered him thus:

[Page 28] ‘You ought to know my Character well, Monsieur, and to believe that my Know­ledge of your Merit would make me think the Passion you avow for me an Honour, were I at Liberty to accept of it. As I am, it is injurious to my Virtue and my Fame, both which ought to be dear to you if you have really any Tenderness for me. You ought to be satisfied with the Esteem your Merit has inspired me with, since it is all my Virtue will allow of, and never hope that I shall be capable of entertaining any other Sentiments. Pursue then, Monsieur, the Resolution you have taken to leave Beauplan, which will appear the more ne­cessary, when you shall know that young Berci was with me in the Forest when you indulged those imprudent Complaints; he will doubtless watch your Conduct strictly; every thing will appear of Con­sequence to an interested Observer. He is jealous of the Friendship his Brother bears you, he may do you bad Offices with him; at least he may disclose your Secret: young Men, though generous, are not always dis­crete.’

The Countess had but just ended these Words, when the Count entered the Chamber with his Brother. The Chevalier was griev­ed that their Conversation was interrupted, and both he and the Countess were apprehen­sive that the young Lord had discovered their Secret. However their Suspicions were soon removed. The Count taking the Chevalier [Page 29] aside, discovered his own Affairs to him, with such unlimited Confidence, that he was persuaded he was intirely ignorant of his. Whilst they were engaged in this private Conference, the Countess acquainted her Brother-in-law with the Success of her Billet. She told him that the Chevalier had resolved to quit Beauplan immediately; but she took no Notice of his having mentioned his Love to her, or that he knew the Billet he had found came from her.

The Chevalier felt some Alleviation of his Sorrows by the Confession he had made to the Countess. She had indeed given him no Hopes, but she had listened to him without Anger. He appeared less melancholly than usual the rest of that Day, and passed the Night, if not in Tranquility, yet free from the dreadful Inquietude which his Doubts about that fatal Letter had occasioned. The next Day, after taking a tender Leave of the Count and Countess, he set out for the Court. His Mind being wholly employed upon the Gentleness and Moderation with which Ma­dam de Berci had listened to the Confession he made her of his Passion, he rode with great Swiftness, contrary to the general Practice of Lovers, who move slowly and with Regret from the Place where they have left the Object of their Tenderness; and fortu­nately as it proved for him, he arrived before Night at the Entrance of the Forest of Fontainebleau.

[Page 30]Scarce had he rode a few Paces in it, when, by the Report of some Pistols that were fired, and the Cries that reached his Ears, he judged that some Persons were attacked by Robbers in that Wood, and that they were not at any great Distance. All the Attendants he had with him, were a Valet de Chambre, and two Footmen; but had he been alone, he had too much Courage to have gone back. He rode on then with an Intrepidity natural to him, and directing his Course to the Place from whence the Noise proceeded, he saw a single Man environed by ten Robbers, who were upon the Point of assassinating him. These Wretches had already killed two of his Attendants, and dispersed three others who sought their Safety in Flight. The Man that was left, defended himself desperately, and knowing that he could not escape Death, he resolved to sell his Life dear. He had al­ready got rid of two of the Robbers with his Pistols, and supporting himself against the Trunk of a large Tree, he parried with his Sword, as well as he could, the Strokes that these Villains aimed at him.

The Chevalier des Essars, transported with Rage at this Sight, fired his Pistols at the Robbers and did some Execution; he afterwards rushed in among them, being mounted upon a vigor­ous Horse, and pierced with his Sword all who opposed his Passage. His Pistols laid two of these Assassins upon the Earth; his Horse threw down another, who fell at his Feet, and his Sword delivered him from a fourth. [Page 31] The rest of these wicked Wretches, seeing the Ground covered with their dead and wounded Comrades, were seized with Terror, and believing the whole Marecha [...]ss [...]e was at their Heels, they disappeared in an Instant, and took Shelter in the deepest Recesses of the Forest, leaving the Field of Battle free to the intrepid Chevalier des Essars.

After this bloody Combat, he approached the Gentleman whom he had relieved, and was charmed to see in a Person, whose white Hairs shewed that he was full of Years, all the Fire and Activity of Youth. He was struck with a reverential Awe at the Majesty which appeared in his Counte­nance, and saluting him in a most respect­ful Manner, enquired if he was wounded, and offered him his best Services. ‘Generous Unknown, replied the old Gentleman, my Wounds, I believe, are but inconsiderable: to your Valour and the speedy Relief you brought me, I owe the Preservation of my Life; but I am very much concerned for the Loss of my Servants, who are all either dead, or dispersed.’ ‘As for the former, replied the Chevalier, they have died like Men of Honour; the others, who so base­ly abandoned you, are not worthy of your Cares; nevertheless they are so near the Court, whither I suppose your Journey was to terminate, that they cannot be in any Danger.’ ‘I was indeed going to Court, answered the old Gentleman; but I did not design to continue there any considera­ble [Page 32] Time. It is long since my Age and the Charms of a Country Life have forced me from that honourable Captivity. But, Monsieur, let us, I conjure you, see whe­ther these two faithful Servants, whom with Grief I saw fall in my Defence, have any Occasion for our Assistance.’ The Che­valier's Servants had already alighted, and were busy about the two Men who they found still breathed, although they were dangerously wounded in many Places. With great Dif­ficulty they restored them to their Senses; and then hollowing to the rest of the old Gentle­man's Servants who had fled, their Voices, favoured by the Silence of the Night, re­sounded through the Forest, and reached the Ears of those terrified Men, who hearing themselves called by their Names, began to lose Part of their Fears, and they returned to their Master, whom they could not behold without Confusion. After having bound up his Wounds, they applied themselves to re­lieve their Comrades, who were in much greater Danger, and seating them upon Horses they mounted behind and supported them; and in this Manner pursued the Road to Fon­tainebleau.

During this Journey, the Chevalier des Essars addressed himself to the old Gentleman, and apologising for his Curiosity, intreated him to let him know who it was he had had the good Fortune to assist. ‘I am too much obliged to your Valour, Monsieur, replied the old Gentleman, not to seize eagerly [Page 33] this Occasion of gratifying your Wishes. I will not only tell you my Name and Qua­lity, but I will give you an Account of my Adventures. The Life which you have so lately preserved, is a Benefit I hold from your Generosity and all the Moments, which for the future I shall enjoy, ought to be devoted to you. Happy, if the grate­ful Sense I have of what you have done for me, will not be unacceptable; but happier still, if Fortune will be favourable to my most ardent Wishes, and afford me the Means of serving you, and of giving you some striking Proof of my Gratitude.’ The Chevalier returned Answers full of Re­spect to these obliging Expressions, and in­treated the old Gentleman to begin his Reci­tal, and give him a more perfect Knowledge of a Person for whom he already felt so much Esteem. Accordingly the old Gentleman be­gan thus:

‘I was born in the Province of Burgundy, I am called the Marquis de Saint-Sauveur, great Part of my Life has been spent in the Field, in the Service of my Country and Religion, and there have been few memo­rable Actions that have past in my Time, which I have not been a Witness of. I was wounded in that fatal Battle, in which Don John of Austria and the Venetians died the Sea of the Levant with Ottoman Blood. After having served a long Time in foreign Countries, I returned to France, I made my last Campaigns in those fatal Civil Wars, [Page 34] where Citizens, blinded by a false Zeal, dipped their impious Hands in the Blood of their Fellow-Citizens, and thought it for the Glory of Religion to attack the Lives of their Countrymen with a savage Fury. Deplorable Times, when the Subject thought he was doing an acceptable Service inso­lently to take up Arms against his lawful King.’

‘I am speaking, Monsieur, of the last Re­bellions in France against that generous Monarch, so dear at present to the very People, who once so eagerly opposed him: A Prince whose Goodness, Courage and Glory, will live eternally in the Annals of our History. I had the Honour to fight near him in the celebrated Battle of Ivry, the Event of which, was to seat him upon the Throne, or to exclude him from it for ever. His Forces were greatly inferiour to those of his Enemies; but Henry, whose Person alone was worth a whole Army, formed himself the Plan of the Battle, was present in every Part, animated all, and exposed himself like a common Soldier to every Danger. Before he ordered the Sig­nal to be given for sounding the Charge, he spoke these few Words to his Soldiers, with that majestick Sweetness, which gain­ed him every Heart. Friends, said he, you are French Men, I am your King, and there is the Enemy. This noble and Iaconick Speech inspired us with Courage and ex­cited a general Emulation. We gained a [Page 35] complete Victory, which was followed by many other great Advantages. The Re­duction of Mante and Vernon, which were brought under the Obedience of their law­ful Sovereign, put him in Possession of all the Bridges of the Seine that lay between Paris and Rouen.

‘We afterwards made ourselves Masters of all the Towns in the Neighbourhood of Paris. The Siege of that great Capital, which was reduced to the last Extremity, having been raised by the King in Com­passion to the unhappy Parisians, and fail­ing in our Attempt to get Possession of it by Stratagem, we invested and took Chartres in a most rigorous Season. At length this great Prince, who had caused himself to be instructed in the Principles of the Catho­lick Religion, became sensible of the Errors of his own, and performed his Abjuration at the Abbey of Saint Dennis with all the Formalities in use in such Ceremonies. From that happy Day, the Party of the League sunk insensibly, and our great Mo­narch, by this wise and prudent Step, which was neither influenced by Interest nor Fear, saw himself in the peaceable Possession of a Throne, which was his lawful Inheritance, and which he held but from God alone.’

‘These were the last Campaigns in which I served. The whole Kingdom, submitting to Henry the Great, I resolved to make a a Visit to my paternal Estate. Love was [Page 36] the Cause of my settling there. I was weary of the tumultuous Life of a Soldier; the calm Pleasures I tasted in the Country made me desirous of Privacy and Retire­ment, and my Passion for Madam de Saint-Sauveur, whom I happened to see at the House of a neighbouring Gentleman, whom I went to visit, confirmed me in my Reso­lution to quit the Court, and to pass the Remainder of my Life in Burgundy, my native Province. I married her: in the Course of two Years she brought me a Son and a Daughter. My Son is at present at Court, and my Daughter was married about three Years ago to a Nobleman called the Count of Berci, who is now at a Castle of his, half a Day's Journey from hence. I quitted my Retreat to come and visit my Children, whom I passionately longed to see, and was wholly intent upon the Plea­sure of embracing my dear Son, whom I proposed to visit first, when at the Entrance of this Forest I was set upon by a Band of Robbers, and should have doubtless lost my Life by their Hands, but for the seasonable Succour you brought me.’

‘Such, Monsieur, is the History of my Life and Fortunes, which I have given you in a few Words; but, brave Unknown, added the old Marquis de Saint-Sauveur, I expect that you will gratify my Impatience to know who has so lately exposed his Life, yet fresh and blooming, to save the poor Remains of mine.’

[Page 37]The Chevalier des Essars was equally sur­prized and pleased at what he had heard, a secret Joy took Possession of his Soul, and a hundred Times he blest his good Fortune, that the Forest of Fontainebleau had afforded him an Opportunity of saving the Life of his Mistress's Father. He might have made him­self known to the Marquis of Saint-Sauveur, not only without Danger of any disagreeable Consequence, but also with an Increase of Satisfaction to the old Man, who would have been charmed to hear that this Preserver was the intimate Friend of the Count of Berci, his Son-in-law: yet through an Excess of Delicacy, which few would have been capable of, he chose rather to conceal his Name. He flattered himself, that when the Countess should know that the Life of her Father had been preserved by him, and that by conceal­ing his Name he gave a convincing Proof that he sought not any Acknowledgement from her for such a Service, she would be as much pleased with his Discretion and Modesty, as with his Courage.

Having taken his Resolution, therefore, he answered the old Marquis in this Manner: ‘I am but a private Man, Monsieur, and so little known in the World, that if I should tell you my Name, you would know it no better than you do my Person. I have only the Honour to inform you, that this Day I passed by the Castle of Beauplan, where the Count of Berci is at present. I heard that he was in good Health, as is [Page 38] likewise the Countess your Daughter; and the high Reputation they have among all the neighbouring Gentry, for their many great and amiable Virtues, makes me think myself happy to have served them in the Person of a Gentleman of your Rank, and so deservedly dear to them.’

The Chevalier's Precaution was of no Use to him; his Valet de Chambre, who knew not that his Master had any Reasons for con­cealing his Name, had discovered it before to one of the Marquis's Attendants: but when he found by his Master's Discourse, that he had a Design to keep himself unknown, he was concerned at what he had done, and in­treated the Servant to whom he had been so communicative, not to repeat what he had said. In the mean Time the Marquis and the Chevalier continued their Journey to Fontaine­bleau, during which the Marquis had often, but in vain, urged his Preserver to disclose his Name and Condition.

The Court was so full, that no Lodgings could be procured, except one Apartment, which the Chevalier obliged the Marquis to accommodate himself with, and he went to the House of Monsieur de Morigny his Friend. This young Lord gave him a most obliging Reception, and the Chevalier as soon as they sat down to Supper, relating the Adventures which had happened to the Marquis de Saint-Sauveur in the Forest of Fontainebleau, Mon­sieur de Morigny asked him, if he knew the [Page 39] Son of that Marquis who was now at Court. ‘I have never seen him, replied the Chevalier, but I have heard great Praises of his Cou­rage.’ ‘He is one of the bravest young Men in France, resumed Monsieur de Mo­rigny; we performed our Exercises together at Paris, we were hardly ever asunder du­ring our Travels through Italy, and till within these few Days we have lived in the strictest Intimacy and Friendship; but there is a great Coldness between us at present, and I believe it will not be long before we shall break altogether with each other.’

‘I am sorry for it, answered the Chevalier, but is it impossible to effect a Reconcilia­tion between you?’ ‘It will be a very difficult Thing, returned Monsieur de Mo­rigny, since it is Love that has disunited us. We are both enamoured of one Lady, and neither of us are disposed to yield up our Pretentions. However if he had first ad­dressed the Lady, my Friendship for him would have induced me to make an Effort to subdue my Passion; but since I saw, and loved her first, I expect he should make a Sacrifice, such as I would do in his Situa­tion. I spoke to him to this Purpose this Evening, as we both came away toge­ther from Mademoiselle de Montmartin, for that is the Name of the young Lady we love. I know not how he received what I said, but I explained myself in a Manner sufficiently intelligible, and it is not my Fault if he did not understand my Meaning.’

[Page 40]The Chevalier was extremely afflicted at this Discourse; he foresaw that if these Friends should have a Duel, during his Stay at Fon­tainebleau, he should be obliged, according to the Rules of that false Notion of Honour which then prevailed in France, to offer him­self as a Second to Monsieur de Morigny. He was not deceived in his Conjecture, Monsieur de Morigny was scarce awake the next Mor­ning, when a Gentleman desired Admittance to him, he ordered him to be shewn imme­diately into his Apartment; after the first Civilities the Gentleman told him that the young Marquis de Saint-Sauveur desired to see him immediately with his Sword in his Hand, to give him Satisfaction for the injuri­ous Treatment he had received from him the Evening before: the Gentleman added, that the Marquis had done him the Honour to chuse him for his Second, and therefore he intreated him to fix upon one of his Friends for the same Service. ‘Monsieur, replied Morigny, with great Composure, I am ready to give your Friend the Satisfaction he de­mands, but I will have no Second, and I know you are a Man of so much Honour, that upon the Security of your Word, I will go alone to meet my Adversary.’

‘I expected such an Answer from one of your Courage and Generosity, replied the Gentleman, and in the same Circumstances, I would make such a one myself, but you doubtless know better than I, that Custom in this Place gives the Law to Reason. The [Page 41] Business of Seconds is to be Witnesses of the Conduct of their Friends, not to fight themselves; but the contrary has obtained by long Use, and you and I are too young to establish new Laws. I entreat you then, Monsieur, to employ some one of your Friends upon this Occasion, or permit me to tell the Marquis de Saint-Sauveur, that you refuse to give him the ordinary Means of Satisfaction.’

Monsieur de Morigny was going to make the Gentleman some Answer when the Che­valier des Essars suddenly entered the Room; he had heard that some Person had enquired for Monsieur de Morigny, and judging by the Discourse he had with him the Evening before, that the Marquis de Saint-Sauveur would in­fallibly send a Challenge the next Morning, he rose hastily, and wrapping his Nightgown about him, slipped into a Place from whence he could overhear their Conversation. He rushed into the Room upon hearing the Gen­tleman say these last Words: ‘What is the Matter, Gentlemen, said he? you seem to be disputing some Point, is there no way to bring you to an Accommodation. I have thought, added he without giving them Time to reply, of an Expedient to put an End to your Contest, for I suspect the De­sign, Monsieur, that brought you here. I declare then that if Monsieur de Morigny will not accept the Challenge with the Con­ditions you bring him, I offer to take it up­on myself, and will attend your Call when­ever [Page 42] you please.’ ‘You are too generous, my dear Chevalier, said Monsieur de Mo­rigny, embracing him; and since you will have it so, let us dress ourselves instantly, and meet the Marquis de Saint-Sauveur at the Place appointed.’

It was with infinite Pain and Regret, that the Chevalier took this Step: no Quarrel of his own had ever given him so much Uneasi­ness. He was under terrible Apprehensions that by it he should ruin himself with the old Marquis de Saint-Sauveur, and the Count of Berci his Friend. He was preparing to assist Monsieur de Morigny against the young Marquis de Saint-Sauveur, at the Hazard of all the fatal Consequences that might result from this Combat. But these Considerations were weak, compared to that of incurring the Displeasure of his dear Countess. He had Reason to expect that she would be highly in­censed against him; yet terrible as this Thought was, that Notion of false Honour, to which the bravest Men were Slaves at that Time, made him resolve, at the Expence of all that was dear to him, to comply with it. Unjust and cruel Law, which reasonable Men im­posed upon themselves! Those destructive Maxims cannot be rejected with too much Horror, nor can their Influence during that miserable Period be too highly lamented. Every Day teemed with the Fates of some brave Youths, who wantonly sacrificed each other's Lives in support of a Quarrel wherein they had no Part, and which they had heard [Page 43] of but a few Moments before. This Mad­ness they carried still farther: a Man would have thought himself injured, and have pub­lickly complained of the Injustice that was done him, if on such an Occasion his Friend had not made choice of him for his Second; and if it happened that he was informed of the Dispute, he would with the utmost Eagerness run to offer his Arm to revenge the often imaginary Wrong. It very frequently hap­pened, that the Adversary to whom he was to be opposed, was one of his in [...]mate Friends, yet it would have been dishonourable if he had scrupled on these glorious Occasions to have deprived him of Life. We cannot give too many Praises to that Prince, truly worthy of the Name of Great, who by wise Edicts, supported by illustrious Examples of a salutary Rigour, at length suppressed this savage Gal­lantry, which every Day carried off some of the Flower of his Nobility, and the bravest Men in his Kingdom. But let us resume the Thread of our History, and see what passed at the House of Monsieur de Morigny.

As soon as it was determined there, that they should fight two against two, the Che­valier des Essars, and Monsieur de Morigny, drest themselves in haste, and were conducted by the Gentleman into one of the most private Parts of the Forest of Fontainebleau, where they found the young Marquis de Saint-Sau­veur waiting for them on Horseback. They all dismounted in an Instant, and stripping themselves to their Shirts, the Chevalier des [Page 44] Essars and the Gentleman left the young Mar­quis de Saint Sauveur, and Monsieur de Mo­rigny to terminate their real Dispute, while they went to put an End to their imaginary one. However they assaulted each other with no less Fury than the two others, and after both had made several Passes without Success, they closed and each received a Wound from his Adversary. The Chevalier passed his Sword through the Gentleman's right Thigh, and was himself wounded at the same Time in the left Arm. The Gentleman no longer able to stand fell upon the Ground, and the Chevalier des Essars, too generous to take Advantage of his good Fortune, and having not the least Design to terminate by the Death of his Adversary the Combat which was now become unequal, spoke to him in these Terms:

‘Let us put an End, Monsieur, to a Dis­pute which began on our Friend's Account, we have no Reason to hate each other. Take my Advice, let us content ourselves with the Blood we have mutually shed, and do you permit me to go and endeavour to separate two Men, whom a Trifle has made Enemies.’

He quitted the Gentleman that Instant, without waiting for his Answer, and ran eagerly to the two Rivals, who had both given and received several Wounds. But in the Moment as he was advancing towards them, the Sword of the young Marquis by [Page 45] a Stroke of his Enemy's broke in the Middle. The unfortunate Youth seeing the Chevalier des Essars approach alone with his Sword drawn and bloody, did not doubt but that he had killed his Friend and was come to the Assistance of Monsieur de Morigny. But not suffering these Apprehensions to appear, he redoubled his Efforts, although he had now nothing but a broken Sword to defend him­self with, and resolved to sell his Life dearly. But the Chevalier des Essars, throwing him­self between the Combatants, intreated them to stop a Moment and listen to him.

‘You are both brave, said he, neither has had any Advantage over the other, but what Chance, not superiour Skill or Strength, has given. I therefore conjure you, Gentlemen, to remember your former Friendship, once so tender and sincere, and do not rashly sacrifice it to so slight a Difference as yours is. Can you refuse to grant this Favour to two Friends who have so lately exposed their Lives and shed their Blood for you?’

‘Well, Marquis, said Monsieur de Mo­rigny, will you not now confess yourself vanquished, when with only a broken Sword you have the Chevalier des Essars and me also to oppose?’

‘No, answered the brave Marquis de Saint-Sauveur, with a generous Indignation, I am not vanquished, do not flatter yourselves that you have this Advantage over me, you [Page 46] are indeed Masters of my Life, Fortune has delivered it into your Hands, but you can­not take my Courage from me, although I am deprived of the Means of defending myself.’ ‘Live then, replied Monsieur de Morigny, charmed with the young Mar­quis's Courage and noble Contempt of Death; live unconquered and invincible: the poor Advantage I have gained, I owe only to Fortune, I claim no Triumph from it; and all I contest for is, that I may not be overcome in Virtue and Generosity.’

‘Ah, my dear Morigny, replied the young Marquis, I now acknowledge you have truly vanquished me, when with such Great­ness of Soul you give me a Life which you might have deprived me of without Shame, and Injustice, but which my Courage would never have suffered me to ask for. Yes, dear Morigny, my Eyes are opened, in thee I no longer behold a Rival, and an Enemy; but see with Joy a virtuous and magnanimous Friend. My Heart, softened by thy Generosity, resigns for ever its Ha­tred and Desire of Revenge. Suffer me then with this tender and sincere Embrace to assure you, that I have the highest Esteem for your Virtues, and the utmost Gratitude for the Kindness you have shewn me.’ Saying this he threw away his broken Sword, and ran into the Arms of Monsieur de Morigny. They continued a long Time in a strict Em­brace, and reciprocally conjured each other to forget they had ever had any Difference, [Page 47] vowing a perpetual Friendship for the future, which no Consideration whatever should have Power to break.

The Marquis de Saint-Sauveur then en­quiring of Monsieur de Morigny the Name of his generous Friend, he turned to the Che­valier des Essars, and politely thanked him for the Generosity he had shewn him, and which he had not merited, intreating him in the most obliging Terms, to grant him the Honour of his Friendship. The Chevalier met these Advances of the young Marquis de Saint-Sauveur with a Politeness full of Mo­desty and Respect; he embraced him tenderly, and they both vowed an eternal Friendshp.

Mean Time the Chevalier des Essars lost a great deal of Blood; but the Friend of the Marquis de Saint-Sauveur lost much more: that Gentleman was so weakened by his Wound, and the great Effusion of Blood from it, that he had not been able to rise. They all ran to the Place where the Che­valier des Essars had left him, and found him more sensible of his Misfortune in not having been able to follow the Che­valier, than of the Pain of his Wound. But when he was informed of the happy Event of the Combat between his Friend and Mon­sieur de Morigny, he congratulated them both with a sincere Joy.

The whole Court was already informed of this Duel. The Challenge had not been sent [Page 48] with such Secresy, but Mademoiselle de Mont­martin, who was the Occasion of it, had Notice of it a few Moments afterwards. Several of the young Lords of the Court, to whom she had communicated the Affair, mounted im­mediately to go in Search of the Rivals, and to separate them: but not knowing the Spot they had chosen to decide their Quarrel, they wandered about a long Time in the Forest, and did not find them till the Combat was over. The first that discovered them were the Friends of the Gentleman who had been wounded in the Thigh: they caused a Hand­litter to be made immediately with some Branches they broke off the Trees, and car­ried him to Fontainebleau. The Marquis de Saint-Sauveur earnestly recommended him to the Care of his Attendants, and took Leave of him with great Tenderness, expressing the utmost Concern for his Wound; and then mounting his Horse, he joined the Chevalier des Essar, and Monsieur de Morigny, and they rode all together, after renewing their Pro­testations of an inviolable Friendship for the Future. Monsieur de Morigny and the Che­valier des Essars took the Road to Paris, and the Marquis de Saint-Sauveur that which led to the Castle of his Brother-in-law the Count of Berci; for their Combat had made it dan­gerous for them to return to Fontainebleau.

The old Marquis de Saint-Sauveur, who had risen very early that Morning to visit his wounded Servants, was informed by one of his Footman of the Duel fought by his Son, [Page 49] which already made a great Noise at Fontaine­bleau. He sent immediately to his Son's Lodgings to be more particularly informed, and his Messenger was told that the young Lord went out very early in the Morning with three other Gentlemen on Horseback, with an Intention, as it was supposed, to fight, and that several of the Courtiers had mounted their Horses and were gone to separate them. This News filled the old Man with the most dreadful Alarms, he mounted a Horse that Instant, and galloped after them, and soon met the Men who carried the wounded Gen­tleman; from whom he was informed of the Event of the Combat. The good old Man then returned to Fontainebleau, and after re­commending his Servants to the Care of the Surgeons, he took the Road to the Castle of Beauplan, whither he did not doubt his Son had retired. His Eagerness to see him and be assured that he was not dangerously hurt, made him use such Speed, that the young Lord was still in the Embraces of the Count and Countess of Berci when he ar­rived.

The Countess and her Brother felt very different Sentiments at the Sight of their Fa­ther, hers was all Joy and Tenderness, his Surprize and Confusion. After the old Mar­quis had embraced his Son-in-law and his Daughter, the young Marquis approached to pay his Duty to him, and was received with equal Tenderness as the others, the good old [Page 50] Gentleman seeming not to perceive that he had his Arm in a Scarf; but as soon as they were all seated at Table, the Countess of Berci observed it for the first Time: ‘Certainly, said she, you have some Reasons which you are unwilling to own for wearing this Scarf. I cannot believe you carry it in Triumph, as a Favour from a Mistress, but rather that you are obliged through Necessity to wear it. I beg you will explain this Mystery to me, it has an Appearance that gives me great Inquietude.’

‘I own to you, Sister, replied the young Marquis, that I am obliged to wear this Scarf on Account of a violent Pain I feel in my Arm, but it is not dangerous, there­fore do not be uneasy about it.’ ‘I know Son, said the old Marquis, that your Arm gives you some Pain, but pray tell the true Cause of it to your Sister. I shall raise another Quarrel between you and a Gen­tleman I met in the Forest of Fontainebleau to Day, if you relate the Affair differently from what he told it.’ The young Mar­quis blushed at these Words, and not doubt­ing but that his Father was fully informed of the whole Affair, he related it to his Brother-in-law and his Sister very succinctly, praising particularly the Generosity of Monsieur de Morigny's Second, who, he said, had saved his Life in the very Moment that his Sword was broken in his Hand; and he owned that he could not have avoided Death, if that brave [Page 51] Man had not eagerly thrown himself between him and his Adversary.

The young Marquis was about to tell the Name of his Deliverer, when he stopt through Respect, perceiving his Father was going to speak. ‘Son, said the old Gentleman, you have to Day had a very narrow Escape, let me advise you never to tempt an unnecessary Danger, there are Accidents enough which happen in the World, by which the Life of a brave Man may be shortened, there is no Occasion to seek Death, he comes too often unexpected and undesired. Your Rashness was the Cause of your Danger this Day, but that which I escaped Yesterday was the meer Effect of ill Fortune. I was attacked in the Forest of Fontainebleau by a Band of Robbers, who wounded two of my most faithful Servants, and put the rest to Flight. I could not have avoided sinking under their Strokes, but for an Assistance, more than human I think, which was brought me when my Strength had almost wholly for­saken me; a Gentleman on Horseback came to my Relief, when I despaired of Safety, he appeared like the avenging Thunder of Heaven, he either overthrew or dispersed all my Enemies in a few Moments. I could not view him plainly because it was almost dark, but he had the Air and Port of a Hero, as well as the Valour and Courage of one, but his Modesty exceeded every thing I ever met with; I could not help be­ing [Page 52] grieved at it, because it robbed me of the pleasing Satisfaction of knowing to whom I was obliged for my Life, however he an­swered my Enquiries with Excuses so polite, and with such a graceful Sweetness, that I durst not take the Liberty to press him any farther. I thought I should have failed in Respect and Gratitude, if I had urged him to reveal a Secret which he doubtless had Reasons for concealing from me.’

At these Words one of the old Marquis's Servants who waited at his Chair, stepping a little forward, said, ‘Monsieur, the Gentle­man who came to your Assistance in the Wood, is called the Chevalier des Essars, his Valet de Chambre told it me Yesterday, as we pursued our Journey after the Com­bat: and he added, that he had left this Castle the same Day, but hearing his Master make you Excuses for not telling his Name, he earnestly intreated me not to mention to you what he had told me. I likewise be­lieve that he is the same Person who fought this Morning with the Gentleman we met in the Forest, for I heard it said that his Adversary came to Fontainebleau but last Night.’

The young Marquis de Saint-Sauveur was the only Person present who could clear up a Mystery which perplexed every one else. He accordingly declared that the valiant Man to whom both his Father and himself owed the [Page 53] Preservation of their Lives, was the Cheva­lier des Essars. A general Astonishment seiz­ed the Company: all were eager to give the Chevalier's Valour and Modesty the Praises so justly due. The Satisfaction and Joy which the Countess of Berci felt at this News was silent, but not less sincere. She was afraid of indulging herself in any Expressions of it, lest she should give Cause of Suspicion to her Bro­ther-in law. This young Man kept a pro­found Silence, and seemed unwilling to give the Chevalier's Virtues that Tribute of just Praise which every other Person allowed him. The Company observed his Uneasiness, the Effect of a mean and malicious Envy. It is the Quality of that unjust Passion, when it cannot blacken a superiour and generally-ac­knowledged Merit, to give Pain and Grief to its Owner at the Applauses with which it is honoured. The Countess in her Heart set a just Value upon the Services her Family had received from the Chevalier des Essars, she praised him cautiously, but inwardly acknow­ledged that a Lover so brave and generous deserved her most tender Esteem.

The old Marquis de Saint-Sauveur remain­ed fifteen Days at Beauplan, after which he returned with his Son to Fontainebleau. He found his two Servants dead of their Wounds, which gave him a very sensible Grief. The Chevalier des Essars and Monsieur de Morigny being but slightly wounded, soon recovered their Health, as also the young Marquis de [Page 54] Saint-Sauveur, and his Second. But Love, which raged with a cruel Violence in the Heart of the wretched Chevalier, poisoned all his Joys, and made Glory itself tasteless to him.

Absence, that Remedy so often successful in Love, rendered the Chevalier's Passion more ardent. He was not able to taste any Pleasure while he remained banished from Beauplan, the Idea of the Countess of Berci pursued him every where. A Lover less re­spectful than himself, after having been so happy as to render two such signal Services to the Father and Brother of his Mistress, would not have hesitated to have presented himself before her: But awed by her Commands to the contrary, he rather chose to pine in Ab­sence, and fall a Victim to the Torments that consumed him, than offend her. He was likewise apprehensive that the two Mar­quises de Saint-Sauveur were still at Beauplan, but it was the Presence of young Berci which he dreaded more than that of any other. He knew he was acquainted with his Passion for the Countess his Sister-in-law, he trembled at the Thoughts of such an interested Obser­ver, as he would prove, he could not hope for an Opportunity of entertaining the Countess, amidst such a crowd of Relations and Friends. So many Obstacles were not capable of damp­ing one Moment the Ardour of his Passion. His Impatience to see the charming Countess increased with the Difficulties of gratifying it; [Page 55] yet he determined to stay at Paris till he had by a Letter demanded her Permission to wait on her at Beauplan, and he fixed upon one of his Servants, whose Fidelity he had often ex­perienced, to be the Bearer of it.

During the Time that the Chevalier had resided with the Count, he became acquainted with a Woman who lived in a Village at a small Distance from the Castle. He foresaw that he might one Day have Occasion for her Assistance in his Passion, and by rich Pre­sents he had entirely secured her in his In­terest. He was too prudent, and had too much Respect for the Countess of Berci, to make her the Confidant of his Love for that Lady; therefore he told her that he was fond of one of her Women, whose Name was Marianne. This Girl was greatly beloved by the Coun­tess, and entirely possessed her Confidence. The Chevalier had gained her by the same Methods as the Country-Woman, and she had promised him to deliver his Letters to her Lady. The Chevalier wrote to the Countess with a trembling Hand, and a Heart agitated by a thousand Fears. He gave the Letter to his Servant with full Instructions how to act, ordering him above all Things not to go to Beauplan till it was Night, and to set out again from thence at the first Dawn of Day.

This faithful Domestick executed his Mas­ter's Orders with the utmost Exactness. He delivered the Letter to the Woman, it was [Page 56] inclosed in a Cover directed to Marianne; he likewise gave her two Chains of Gold from his Master, one for Marianne, and the other for herself, in reward of her Fidelity. The next Day the Country-Woman after locking up the Chevalier's Servant in her House, went to the Castle of Beauplan, and easily acquitted herself of her Commission, no Person in the House having the least Suspicion of the Cause of her coming. Marianne took an Opportu­nity to give the Letter to the Countess, when she retired in the Evening to her Closet. Madam de Berci was at first surprized and angry at the Boldness of her Woman, she reproved her severely, and for a long Time refused to receive the Letter from her Hands. But this Girl, who had some Power over the Mind of her Mistress, and who wanted nei­ther Wit nor Cunning, used so many Argu­ments to prove that she might without Re­proach receive a Letter from a Man to whom she owed such extraordinary Obligations, that the Countess, overcame at length by her Rea­sons, and secretly persuaded by the Motions of her own Heart, took the Chevalier's Letter from her, and opening it with extreme Agi­tation, read these Words:

‘How shall a Lover, Madam, whom you have condemned to Silence, whom you have banished from your Sight, make known the Violence of his Passion? Yet to be allowed to make you sensible that he loves you, is the only Consolation he requires. Is it too [Page 57] much Presumption to wish to be pitied by you, when Pity is all he dares hope for or request? But how can you pity unless you are a Witness of the Torments I endure: And how can you be a Witness of them while I remain banished from your Sight? Consider, Madam, I beseech you, that this Exile which I have suffered is your own Work. At length relent, and permit me to approach you, again afford me the Blessing of beholding you, 'tis all I ask, and it is the only Means of preserving a Life which I would lose with Pleasure to do you Ser­vice. Your Answer will determine my Fate.’

The Countess of Berci was greatly affected with this Letter, some Sighs escaped her unknown to herself, the Chevalier's respect­ful Passion lulled all her Suspicions asleep, and the unhappy State of his Mind excited her Pity. Nevertheless she was in Doubt whether she ought to write him an Answer, Reason and Honour dictated to her that a virtuous Woman ought not to indulge herself in a Cor­respondence, however innocent, with a Man who is her profest Lover. But Gratitude and Compassion pleaded the Chevalier's Cause with such inresistable Force, that she flattered herself she might write to him and even see him, without wounding the Duty she owed her Husband. The Count of Berci designed the next Day to accompany his Father and Brother to Fontainebleau, she therefore re­solved [Page 58] not only to write an Answer to the Chevalier, but also to take Advantage of her Husband's Absence, to give him an Interview in private, and taking up the Pen she wrote to him in these Words:

‘I answer your Letter, Monsieur, con­trary to the Rules my Duty imposes upon me, to put you in Mind of yours, which is to cease a Pursuit that will infallibly be fruitless, and may be fatal. Hope for nothing from me beyond Esteem and Gratitude, the one I cannot refuse your Merit, and I owe the other to the Services you have lately render­ed me, in the Persons of my Father and Brother. I am willing to believe that you love me with Honour, and this Thought alone prevails with me to grant you Per­mission to see me. I shall be alone on Fri­day in the Afternoon, if this Letter reaches you soon enough, you may come to Beau­plan, and at eleven o'Clock at Night you will find the Garden Door open, and Marianne attending to conduct you to me. See, Mon­sieur, what Hazards I run to express my Acknowledgement for the Obligations you have conferred upon me. But again I warn you not to expect that you can ever inspire me with any other Sentiments, than what the most rigid Virtue will permit a reasona­ble Woman to entertain.’

The Countess, who was too innocent and unexperienced to reflect on the Consequences [Page 59] of such a suspicious Interview, was very well satisfied with the Terms in which she had conceived her Letter. But this false Step, however guiltless she was in Intention, was soon followed by the most dreadful Alarms, it exposed her to the greatest Danger she had ever been in during her whole Life, and was the Source of all those Misfortunes she after­wards proved. The Country-Woman re­turned the next Morning to the Castle, and received the Answer which the Countess had written from the Hands of Marianne: that Girl pretended it was a Letter from her to the Chevalier des Essars. The Chevalier's Servant set out for Paris, as soon as it was dark, and mindful of his Master's Orders made such haste that he arrived there early the next Day. Although there was nothing in the Countess's Letter, which could flatter the Che­valier with a Hope, of being more happy than Compassion, restrained by Duty could make him; yet it filled him with inconceivable Transport, and he mounted on Horseback that Instant, in order to be at Beauplan at the appointed Time.

The Count of Berci took Horse to attend his Father and Brother-in-law to Fontainebleau, that very Day on which the Chevalier arrived at Beauplan. As he went only in complai­sance to the Marquis and his Son, they would not suffer him to go farther than half way, and then obliged him to return back. The Countess who had not expected to see her [Page 60] Husband that Night, was greatly perplexed at his Return; she now repented of the Assignation she had made the Chevalier des Essars, and was in dreadful Uneasiness lest it should be discovered: Yet she concealed her Agitations from her Husband as well as she possibly could, but she was too much dis­ordered to be able to eat any Supper. The Count was uneasy, supposing she was indis­posed. Madam de Berci eagerly catched at that Expedient, and made it her Excuse for retiring immediately after Supper to her Chamber. The Count attributing his Wife's Indispo­sition to her Grief at parting with her Father and Brother, obligingly endeavoured to con­sole her, and conducting her to her Apart­ment, withdrew to his own.

The Night was dark and cloudy, and sa­voured the Desires of the Chevalier des Essars, who was very solicitious to prevent being seen near the Castle of Beauplan, lest it should re­flect any Dishonour upon the Character of his Mistress. The whole Family was already enjoying the Sweets of a profound Repose, when Marianne going softly out of her Lady's Apartment, went to the Gate; she there found the passionate Chevalier, who lover-like had through Impatience come an Hour sooner than he was directed, and had waited for her with great Anxiety. Marianne did not fail to ex­aggerate the Danger to which she exposed herself to do him Service, and protested her Zeal for his Interest so strongly, that the Che­valier, [Page 61] who thought the Moments too preci­ous to waste in Thanks, took a fine Ring off his Finger, and gave it to the faithful Con­fidant in acknowledgement of her Kindness: she then desired him to follow her with the utmost Precaution, and brought him without being discovered, into the Apartment of the Countess. Madam de Berci looked so charm­ing in the elegant Undress she was in, that the Chevalier, lost in Admiration and Desire, al­most forgot the Condition upon which he was permitted to see her. But the lovely Countess, who was capable of inspiring at once Respect and Love, represt this first Transport by a modest Regard, full of mingled Sweet­ness and Severity; then desiring the Cheva­lier to be seated, she spoke thus to him:

‘If you knew, Monsieur, the Danger to which I expose my Reputation, and per­haps my Life, by seeing you here, these slight Charms would take up less of your Attention. My Lord is not at Fontaine­bleau with my Father as I expected he would have been this Night, he is retired to his own Chamber in complaisance to me: his unexpected Return to Beauplan perplex­ed me greatly, and in order to keep my Word with you, I have been obliged to feign myself indisposed; do not then, Mon­sieur, abuse a Favour which I could not re­fuse to your earnest Intreaties, and to the In­terest I take in the Preservation of your Life, which you have so lately ventured in [Page 62] the Service of my Family. In your Fa­vour I have in some Degree transgressed the Laws of Decorum: the Consideration I have had for you, ought to secure your Gra­titude, and to prevent your Forming any Hopes from a Condescension I cannot help condemning in myself: know this is the last Time you must ever expect to see me alone.’

The Countess had scarce uttered these last Words, when some body knocked hastily at the Door of the Antichamber: the Cheva­lier did not doubt but it was the Count, and began to suspect that Madam de Berci had laid this Snare to ruin him: when he was first told that a Man whom he had supposed to be at Fontainebleau, was in his own Chamber in that very House, he entertained some Sus­picions against the Countess, but had already rejected them as too injurious to that amiable Lady, when the Noise at the Door of her Antichamber awaked them again in his Mind; and now not doubting any longer that he was betrayed, ‘Madam, said he to the Countess, you had many other Ways of freeing your­self from a Passion which you doubtless thought too importunate, without sacrifi­sing me to your Husband's Revenge. But be assured, Madam, I will not lose my Life without putting that of your Lord's into Danger, into whose Hands you have deli­vered me.’

[Page 63] ‘Ah, how you injure me by these Suspi­cions, replied the Countess, half dead with fear! it is not now a Time to endeavour by Oaths to assure you of my Sincerity, but the Testimony you will soon have of it will make you know the Injustice you do me; but retire, I conjure you, behind the Tapistry, you will be absolutely safe from a Discovery there, and if you are not con­vinced of my Innocence, sacrifice my Life to your Revenge.’ She spoke these Words with a low Voice, and then called Marianne, who had heard the Knocking at the Door but like one that understood her Business well, made no Offers to stir, till she had Di­rections from her Lady. The Chevalier a little reassured by his Mistress Words, placed himself behind the Tapistry, holding it close with his left Hand, but through a little Opening which he left that he might see who came into the Room, he held a Pocket-Pistol which he resolved in Case of Necessity, to use in his own Defence.

Marianne as if hardly awake, came into her Lady's Room with a loose Gown on, and went to open the Door of the Antichamber to her Lord, for it was he that demanded Entrance. The Count, as he approached his Wife, passed so near the Place where the Chevalier was concealed, that he touched the End of the Pistol: the Chevalier ac­knowledged afterwards that he was never so much alarmed in his Life; but the Count [Page 64] went on without observing any Thing, and seeing that his Wife was not yet in Bed, he sat down upon the Sopha which the Cheva­lier had quitted but a few Moments before, and with a Look of tender Anxiety, which relieved the Countess from some Part of her Fears, enquired how she did.

Madam de Berci answered in a low Voice, that she had been worse since Supper, that she was feverish and just going to Bed, to try if she could get a little Rest, which she hoped would relieve her. The Count taking her Hand felt her Pulse, which from the Terrors with which she was agitated, beating a little unequally. ‘You are indeed disordered, said the tender Count, but I hope your Illness will not be dangerous, I could not be easy till I saw you, I have been but a few Mo­ments in Bed yet was terrified by a hor­rid Dream from which I awaked in Agonies. I dreamt a monstrous Dragon was going to devour you: your Indisposition which I had imagined was but slight, rose to my thoughts, I began to be apprehensive that this was the Dragon, and that you were grown much worse since I saw you, I came eagerly to know the State of your Health, and thank Heaven I find it better than I expected; but why are you not in bed? Let me have the Satisfaction to see you en­joying a quiet Sleep before I return to my own Apartment.’

[Page 65]The Chevalier's Suspicions returned when he heard the Count relate his Dream, he was absolutely persuaded that he was discovered, and the Countess dreadfully alarmed knew not what to expect. The Count's Interpre­tation of his Dream, reassured them a little, but when they found he intended to stay some Time longer, and that he pressed Madam de Berci to go to Bed, all again seemed lost. The Chevalier was apprehensive that he should not be able to continue long in the Situation he was in, for it was extreamly uneasy. Nevertheless as he had a great deal of Courage, and was very much in love, the Hope of the Count's retiring in an Hour, supported him under so disagreeable a Restraint; but he indulged his ill Humour with secretly execrating this too tender Hus­band, who after three Years Marriage came so unseasonably to give his Wife a Proof of his Fondness.

The Countess of Berci was obliged to go to Bed, and under pretence that the Taper which the Count had brought in with him glared too full in her Eyes, she ordered Ma­rianne to draw the Curtain on that Side where the Chevalier stood concealed. Marianne obeying her Lady's Orders with too much Precipitation, disingaged herself from a little Dog which had followed the Count into his Wife's Apartment: the Animal being free ran to the Place where the trembling Lover was concealed, and discovering instinctively [Page 66] that a Stranger was in the Room, he began to bark so loud, that the Count was rising from his Seat to endeavour to pacify him him­self. But the Countess in great agitation held back her Husband. And Marianne coaxing the little Creature into good Humour, at last catched him in her Arms, and carried him into her own Chamber, where she did not fail to beat him severely, for his unseasonable Fidelity to his Master.

The Countess of Ber [...]i finding her Husband resolved to stay still she was quite composed, was obliged to counterfeit herself asleep, and the Count when he was assured she was so, rising softly, went out of her Apartment and retired to his own. His Absence relieved the Countess and the Chevalier from terrible Inquietude: the ardent Lover as soon as he was withdrawn, left the Place of his Con­cealment and went to the Countess's Bed-side, where he threw himself on his Knees, and im­plored her pardon, for the ungenerous Suspi­cion he had entertained. The Countess sweetly blushing at the Situation she was in before her Lover, told him she had already pardoned him, and hoped that for the future he would judge more candidly of her Sincerity and Honour. The Chevalier scarce listened to what she said, he had not only forgot his past Danger, but also the Conditions to which he had bound himself when he requested an in­terview with the Countess.

[Page 67] ‘Insolent Man, cried the Countess, darting a disdainful Look at him, and pushing him away with all her Force, is it thus that you abuse the Credulity of an unhappy Woman, who has so lately exposed, both her Honour, and her Life for you? Base and ungrate­ful as you are, was it to cover your impious Designs that these Appearances of Respect and Submission were assumed? But go avoid my Sight, and thank my Clemency that I content myself with Depriving you for ever of my Esteem, without making you feel the just Effects of my Indignation.’

‘Ah! Madam, replied the impetuous Che­valier, how can you imagine I should be Master of myself, exposed to the Assault of so many Charms? My Passion is stronger than my Reason, its Violence is my Ex­cuse, and I ought less to excite your An­ger for my Presumption, than your Com­passion for the Miseries I have suffered.’ These Words were not calculated to remove the Countess's Anger, any more than the Behaviour by which they were followed. That unfortunate Lady, now first perceiving the Danger to which she had exposed her Virtue, assumed more Courage and Resolu­tion, she called Marianne with loud Cries, the Terror she was in not giving her Time to reflect that her Husband might be alar­med: her Woman appearing, the Chevalier full of Repentance for his Attempt, retired from the Bed-side, the Countess no longer [Page 68] observing any Terms with him, commanded him with a Look and Voice which made him tremble, to leave her Chamber, and fiercely threatened to send for her Lord, and shew him the real Dragon which he had seen only in his Dream, unless he obeyed her that Instant.

It was in vain that the unhappy Chevalier endeavoured by Tears and Prayers to soften the Anger of his incensed Mistress, she was inexorable, and he was obliged to quit her, with the Grief of knowing that he had lost her Esteem by giving way to the Impe­tuosity of his Desires. Fatal Love, blind and ungovernable Passion, thy highest Fa­vours are too deerly purchased by the Dan­gers, the Inquietude, and the Remorse thou causest.

The unfortunate Chevalier, full of Shame and Grief, was a hundred Times ready to run his Sword through his Heart, before the Eyes of Madam de Berci. ‘Adieu, Madam, said he to her, my unfeigned Repentance and the miserable Life I am going to drag on at a Distance from you, will I hope one Day procure me Pardon for an Attempt as fruitless as it was involuntary.’

The Countess did not deign to say a single Word to him in Answer, and the Chevalier not daring to importune her any farther, made her a low Bow and followed Marianne, who [Page 69] conducted him to the Door of the Anti-cham­ber without any Light for fear of being per­ceived. The Chevalier was in such agitation of Mind, that he hardly knew what he was doing, and as he descended the Stairs, his Foot slipping he tumbled down, and the Pistol which he held in his Hand for Fear of some Accident, went off, and alarmed the whole House.

The Count, his Brother, and several of the Men Servants got up immediately, and made the Castle resound with their Cries of Thieves, Assassins. The Countess at the Report of the Pistol, was almost distracted with her Apprehensions: she heard her Lord's Voice, and knew not whether the Chevalier had fi [...]ed at him, or the Count at the Chevalier. Ma­rianne, who had quitted the Chevalier at the Door of the Anti-chamber, and who knew not any more than her Lady the true Cause of what had happened, trembled at the Punish­ment which she expected, and bemoaned her­self piteously; the whole Castle was full of Tumult and Disorder.

In the mean Time the Chevalier who found himself at the Bottom of the Staircase by his Fall, missing his Hat and his Pistol, resolved not to leave them behind him, tho' by stay­ing to look for them, he run the Danger of being seized; but he was sensible if those Things were found, it would be known that it was he who had been there, and that was [Page 70] equal to a Discovery of his Person. The Moon gave Light enough through the Win­dows to direct his Search, and he was so for­tunate as to find both his Hat and Pistol, and to reach the Garden Gate without being dis­covered; some of the Count's Servants ran thither a few Moments after, and finding the Gate open, they supposed the Thieves had escaped that way; they had a Glimpse of the Chevalier as he ran, but it was not light enough for them to distinguish his Person; however supposing him to be one of the Rogues, they pursued him, but the Cheva­lier made such Speed that he joined his Ser­vant, who was waiting for him, before the Fellows could come up with him, and mount­ing his Horse which his Man held ready, he gallopped across the Country without keep­ing any direct Road, and at last got to a Vil­lage where he concealed himself for a few Hours, and then returned to Paris.

The END of the First PART.

THE HISTORY OF THE Chevalier DES ESSARS AND THE Countess OF BERCI. PART II.

THE Count of Berci and his Brother, who had been among the first that were alarmed by the Report of the Pistol, having, as has been already said, risen in haste, they armed themselves with their Swords and Pis­tols, and followed by some of the Servants who carried Flambeaux in their Hands, they went to the Apartment of the Countess, whose Terror at seeing her Lord and his Bro­ther enter with such a formidable Equipage was so great, that she fainted away. The [Page 72] The Count full of Grief at this Accident, ran eagerly to her, Remedies were applied, but her Husband's tender Solicitude, and the af­fectionate Things he said to her, had more Efficacy in recovering her Spirits, than all the other Endeavours which were used for that purpose.

It was her Fear that the Chevalier had been discovered, which reduced her to that Condi­tion, but her Lord's excessive Concern for it convinced her that the Chevalier had had the good Fortune to escape without being known. This Thought restored her Spirits, and the Count entirely dissipated all her Suspicions by telling her, that the Tumult and Noise there had been in the House, was occasioned by some Rogues who had attempted to rob it.

‘I beg, Madam, said he embracing her tenderly, that you will not suffer yourself to be alarmed thus to the Prejudice of your Health: my Brother and myself will go and search every Part of the Castle, that we may be assured none of these Villains are concealed in it. Banish your Fears then, and depend upon it, added he smiling, that if we find some of these Rogues lurking here still, we will give you a good Account of them.’ He then ordered the Countess's Woman to be called, to stay in the Cham­ber, and leaving two of the Footmen to guard the Door of her Apartment, he went with his Brother and the others to search the Castle.

[Page 73]The Count after traversing over the whole House, went down into the Court Yard, where he met two of his Servants who had just returned from pursuing the Chevalier. They had run after him a long Time in the Fields, but, the Chevalier being well moun­ted, as were his Servants likewise, he was soon out of Sight; and the Count's Footmen thinking it was needless to follow them [...]ny farther at such a Disadvantage, came home no wiser than they went.

As soon as they saw the Count, they related to him what they had done, and as in their terrified Imaginations, the Chevalier and his Servant, appeared to be five or six Men; so they did not fail to double the Number and confidently affirm that there were no less than a dozen Rogues whom their Presence, un­armed as they were, put to Flight. Another who had a mind to have it said that he also had a Share in this terrible Adventure, de­clared with great firmness of Countenance, that it was at him the Rogue who had got Entrance into the House, fired the Pistol, and that he heard the Whizzing of the Ball as it happily past by his Ear without hurting him.

The Count of Berci fully persuaded that the Castle had been beset by Robbers, went up to his Wife's Apartment. ‘I told you, Madam, said he as he entred, that there was nothing to apprehend: my Servants have just now informed me, that the [Page 74] Thieves, alarmed at the Noise we made, and by the Lights supposing the whole Fa­mily was up, are fled with the utmost Pre­cipitation; one of them had, it seems, got over the Garden Walls, in order to open the Gate to the others, but as soon as it is Day, I shall take Care to prevent such At­tempts for the future, by making it im­possible for any one to climb over those Walls again. Think no more then, I con­jure you, Madam, of what is past, all now is safe, try to calm your Mind, and get an Hour or two's Repose. I am extremely apprehensive that the Alarms you have suf­fered this Night will disorder you greatly.’

The Countess full of inward Remorse, which her Lord's excessive Tenderness re­doubled, begged him to retire to his own Chamber, and she would try to compose her­self. She could scarce retrain her Tears as she spoke, her Voice faltered, the Count saw her greatly disordered, but far from guessing the Cause, he concluded all was owing to the Terrors she had been in on Account of the Attempt he supposed had been made on the Castle: he desired her Women to watch by their Lady, and then taking Leave of her with a tender Embrace and an ardent Ejaculation for her Health, he returned to his own Apart­ment.

The Countess, as soon as her Lord was withdrawn, commanded her Women to quit [Page 75] her Chamber: she longed to be alone to give free Vent to her Tears. A Woman who has just Notions of Honour, needs no other Tormentors, when she has transgressed the strict Laws of it, than the Stings of her own Conscience. Madam de Berci had through Ignorance of the World, and by her too great Sensibility of the Services the Chevalier had done her Family, been betrayed to make a false Step, which she too late acknowledged to be so. Her Eyes were opened by the Chevalier's Behaviour, she was enabled to judge of the Irregularity of her Conduct, by the Advantage her unworthy Lover had en­deavoured to take of it. She trembled at the Remembrance of the Danger to which she had exposed her Virtue, she accused herself, she exclaimed against the Baseness of the Che­valier. ‘Unhappy Wretch, cried she burst­ing into Tears, what hast thou done? and what would have been thy Fate, if Heaven, respecting the Innocence of thy Intentions, had not had Compassion upon thee. Justly detested by a Husband who now adores thee, thy least Punishment, if he had spared thy Life, would have been to be confounded with Women of infamous Reputation, up­on whose Forehead is engraved in Charac­ters never to be effaced, the shameful Story of their Crimes. And, oh fatal Aggravation of my Folly, such a Husband—blush, blush, ungrateful Wretch, at the Remembrance of his Tenderness. What Return hast thou [Page 76] made for this unexampled Affection? Thou hast not scrupled to endanger the Quiet of his whole Life, by submitting to a private Interview with a Man, whose wild Passion thou wast but too well acquainted with: thou hast introduced into his House at the dead of Night the premeditated Assassin of his Honour. Thou mayst judge, unhappy Woman, by the Grief with which thou sawest him overwhelmed for thy feigned Sickness, what would have been his Ago­nies if thy fatal Secret had been discovered. Oh mayst thou be ever ignorant of it, my dear and injured Lord, and may my Re­pentance and my Tears blot out of my Heart the Image of that most insolent and most base of Men.’

With such Complaints, and in such bitter Reflexions, did the unhappy Countess waste the remaining Part of the Night. Quiet was banished from her Mind, and Sleep from her Eyes: the Morning found her bathed in Tears, and seized with the first Symptoms of a Fever, which in a few Days increased to such a Degree, that her Life was despaired of. Her Lord almost distracted at the Danger she was in, never quitted her a Moment during eight Days, that the Physicians thought her Recovery doubtful. Her Youth at length, and her good Constitution, overcame the Violence of her Disease, she began to recover tho' by slow Degrees, and in this State we shall leave [Page 77] her, and see what passed at Fontainebleau, where we left the old Marquis de Saint-Sauveur.

As soon as he arrived he went immediately to pay his Respects to his Majesty, his gracious Master, under whom he had made his last Campaigns. His Design was to solicit a Pardon for his Son, as likewise for the Che­valier des Essars, to whom he was so greatly obliged. That great Monarch, who never forgot the Services of his faithful Subjects, gave the Marquis a most gracious Reception, and with that Affability, which was so natural to him, welcomed him to Court, and enquir­ed into the Motive which had induced him to quit his Retreat.

‘Sire, replied the old Man, the Desire of seeing once more the greatest and best of Kings, and of embracing my Children, has brought me again and probably for the last Time to Court. I find myself hasting for­ward to my Decay, and all that for the future I shall be able to do, will be to pray for your Majesty's Glory, and Happiness; but I would beg Leave to present a young Man to you in my Stead, who eagerly pants to follow you in your glorious Expe­ditions, and wishes for Life only to efface by his Courage and Loyalty shewn in your Service, the Shame and Disgrace he has incurred by disobeying your wise Laws. It is for my Son, most gracious Sovereign, [Page 78] that I plead, and most humbly implore that your Majesty will pardon him a Fault he has committed lately, and impute it to the wild Sallies of inconsiderate. Youth, and not to stubborn Will, and premeditated Disobedience.’

‘Monsieur de Saint-Sauveur, said that ge­nerous Prince, if your Son has failed in the Respect and Obedience he owes me by his last Combat, I have not forgot those in which you have formerly shed your Blood for my Service; I therefore not only grant you his Pardon, which I cannot refuse to your Services, but also that of the Chevalier des Essars, which probably you was afraid to ask for. I have been informed of your Adventure in the Forest of Fontainebleau: the Assistance he so generously gave you, and his Valour in saving your Life, engages me to grant this, and to pardon him out of Consideration to you.’

‘Sire, replied the old Man in a Rapture, throwing himself at the King's Feet, I have not Words to express my grateful Sense of your Majesty's Goodness in thus granting me the Life of my Son: your Majesty, who like a God has read those Wishes in my Heart, which I did not dare to give Utterance to, best knows how much I am affected with your unmerited Indulgence. Yes, my gracious Lord, you have prevented my most ardent Desires, and by granting [Page 79] me the Life of the Chevalier des Essars, you have given me an Opportunity of returning in some Degree the Obligations I have to that valiant Man, to whose Generosity I owe the Happiness I now enjoy of embrace­ing the Knees of my indulgent Master.’

The old Marquis then stepping to his Son, who was standing behind a Crowd of Cour­tiers: ‘Approach, my Son, said he, and bless the Clemency of your Prince, who has been pleased, at my Intercession, to pardon you, and resolve to prove to him one Day, that the Life you have received from me, and which his Goodness has preserved, belongs wholly to him; and remember that you never more must hazard it, but in his Service.’

The young Marquis approaching with a graceful Modesty, threw himself at the King's Feet, who raised him up instantly, and assured his Father, that he would take the Care of his Son's Fortune entirely upon himself.

In this Manner it was, that the great Henry tempered Majesty with Sweetness, and accompanied those Pardons he granted to his offending Subjects, with the most striking Instances of Generosity and Goodness. Great and magnanimous Prince! thy Memory will live forever in the Hearts of all true French­men, and thy gentle Virtues be as much their [Page 80] Love and Veneration, as thy immortal Fame their Glory.

The Marquis de Saint-Sauveur, as soon as he had quitted the King, retired to his Apart­ment, eager to enjoy the delicate Pleasure of acquainting the Chevalier des Essars with what his Prince had just done for him. He told him in his Letter, that the Pardon he had solicited, was granted less to his weak Intercession, than to his own Merit, and the Fame of his great Actions, and particularly to the Valour and Generosity he had shewn in exposing his own Life in the Forest of Fontainebleau to save his. He added, that his modest Endeavours to conceal from him the Name of his Benefactor had all been fruitless, and that he had at length had the good Fortune to know a Man, from whom his Family were every Day receiving new Benefits; that the last Favour he had received from him in preserving the Life of his Son, so greatly endeared the former to him, that he despaired of ever finding Opportunities suf­ficient to make known the Extent of his Gratitude.

The good old Man after having thus given Vent to the Overflowings of his grateful Heart, employed the few remaining Hours he staid st Fontainebleau, in giving some Les­sons of Wisdom and Prudence to his Son, re­commending to him in the most earnest Man­ner [Page 81] to persevere in his Loyalty to his Sove­reign, and never more to offend him by disobeying his Commands.

He then set out for his Estate in Burgundy, where he arrived without meeting with any ill Accident. The Marchioness de Saint-Sau­veur his Wife had heard some Reports con­cerning his Adventure in the Forest, as like­wise of her Son's Duel with Monsieur de Morigny. She had suffered great Uneasiness, but the Recital her Lord made her of the happy Event of all, turned her Fears and Sorrows into transports of Joy. She admired the Valour of the Chevalier des Essars, whose Person she was not acquainted with, but whose Name and Quality she knew, and was extremely impatient to see and thank a Man to whom she was obliged for the Lives of her Husband and her Son.

But of what Use was it to this brave Man, that his Merit was acknowledged by his Prince, and applauded by the public Voice, since all was not able to comfort him for the Loss of his Mistress's Esteem. We have al­ready related how he fortunately escaped be­ing known by the Servants of the Count of Berci. After having wandered several Days about the Country, he at last took the Road to Paris, and arrived there full of the deepest Despair. As he durst not venture abroad on Account of his last Combat, he confined him­self to his House all Day, and went out some­times [Page 82] at Night to visit Monsieur de Morigny. It was not in his Power to conceal his Sadness from him, but all the Endeavours of this tender Friend to prevail upon him to disclose the Cause were ineffectual: the Chevalier had too much Delicacy to make him the Confi­dent of his Passion for the Countess of Berci, and he rather chose to shut up all his Sorrow in his Heart, and want the Consolation of a faithful and sympathising Friend, than fail in his Respect for her who was now dearer to him than ever.

He was in this cruel Situation, when he received the Letter from the Marquis de Saint-Sauveur; it gave him at first a tran­sient Relief, and he tasted some Pleasure in the Assurances it brought him of the Friend­ship and Esteem of a Man who was become so dear to him. But a Letter which a few Days after he received from the Count of Berci, gave him far more Satisfaction. That tender Friend wrote, that he had too long deprived him of the Pleasure of embracing a Man to whom the Countess and himself had such great Obligations, that he could not bear his Absence, and conjured him to set out imme­diately for the Castle of Beauplan, where he soon expected the young Marquis de Saint-Sauveur; and he likewise earnestly intreated him to bring Monsieur de Morigny with him, who, he said, must be their Friend, since he was his.

[Page 83]The Chevalier, firmly persuaded that he had lost for ever the Esteem of his Mistress, did not figure to himself any Happiness at Beauplan, farther than that he should enjoy the Sight of that inhuman Beauty. He could not flatter himself that he should be able to obtain her Pardon for the Offence he had committed, but he hoped that his Repentance and his Grief would excite her Pity. He therefore resolved to gratify the Count of Berci's obliging Impatience to see him, by an immediate Departure from Paris: he shew­ed the Count's Letter to Monsieur de Morigny, who, wearied with the Length of his Con­finement, accepted with Joy Monsieur de Berci's obliging Invitation. Beauplan being likewise but half a Day's Journey from Court, it gave him a better Opportunity of soliciting his Pardon there, than he could do at Paris. As he had several powerful Protectors about the King's Person, was not the first Aggres­sor, and as his Majesty had pardoned the Marquis de Saint-Sauveur and the Chevalier des Essars, there was Room to hope he would not be the only one that was punished. And accordingly his Friends exerted their Interest for him with such Success, that they obtained his Pardon, which was sent to him eight Days after his Arrival at Beauplan with the Chevalier des Essars.

The Countess of Berci was in extreme Per­plexity, when her Lord sent to inform her that the Chevalier was come: the Count had [Page 84] not mentioned to her his Intention of writing to him at Paris, he did not doubt but she would be rejoiced to see again a Man who had preserved her Father and Brother. He took Pleasure in giving her, what he thought, an agreable Surprize. He surprized her indeed more than he imagined, but she was far from being pleased. The Chevalier entered her Apartment before she had Time to answer her Lord, he advanced with a respectful Awe to salute her. A Blush caused at once by In­dignation and Shame, overspread her Face, and gave her new Charms; but the Mortification she felt at being obliged to conceal her just Rage from the Chevalier, gave her great Pain. However the Force she put upon herself to behave with Complaisance was not perceived, and she acted her Part so artfully, that the Chevalier began to conceive Hopes she might in Time be prevailed upon to forgive him. [...]he answered the Compliments he made her, with Freedom and Politeness, she praised his Valour and Generosity, she returned him Thanks for the Services her Father and Bro­ther had received from him, but she resolved in her own Heart to make him pay dear for the Constraint she had been obliged to lay up­on herself.

The young Marquis de Saint-Sauveur, and Monsieur de Morigny, continued a long Time embraced, and fully persuaded of each other's Merit and reciprocal Tenderness, they drew more strait than ever the Knot of their an­cient [Page 85] Friendship, which nothing after was able to loose. Monsieur de Morigny was received with great Kindness by the Count of Berci, and his Brother, as likewise by the charming Countess, whom he greatly admired.

After the first Compliments were over, the Count of Berci related to the Chevalier des Essars, the Story of the Robbers, painting with great Vivacity the Alarms which the whole Family had been in, and gave a long Account of an Affair that the Chevalier knew better than himself. The Chevalier had oc­casion for all his Prudence and Art to conceal from the Company the Embarrassment this Recital threw him into: the Countess who was less able to repress or conceal her Emo­tions, shewed a Concern while the Count was speaking, sufficient to have betrayed her, if it had not been ascribed by him to the Re­membrance of the Terror she had suffered.

The Chevalier, who knew the Danger she had been in, and saw by her Looks that her Health had suffered greatly, was sensibly afflicted at the Inconveniences he had brought upon her: he reproached himself a thousand Times with his Rashness and Presumption, he cursed the fatal Effects of his impetuous Passion, and endeavoured to give her some Idea of his Grief and Repentance by his Looks, since he could not speak to her: he was resolved to try the first Opportunity that offered, and let her know how much he had suffered from his own [Page 86] Remorse for having offended her, but be sought in vain for such an Opportunity. Far from giving him one, she avoided his Looks as much as possible, and if by Chance her Eyes incountered his, she would hastily withdraw them again, as if she had seen a Basilisk.

The Chevalier again applied for Assistance to Marianne; he intreated this Woman to en­deavour to make his Peace for him: he gave her several Letters for the Countess, but she would not receive them, and severely re­proving her Woman for accepting of such Commissions, forbad her ever to do the like again upon Pain of being dismissed from her Service; and Marianne, tho' it would have been her Interest to have effected this Recon­ciliation, was so terrified at this Threat, that she would not afterwards concern herself in the Chevalier's Affairs.

The unfortunate Chevalier had been al­ready fifteen Days at Beauplan, and had used every Artifice that Love and Wit could sug­gest, to procure an Interview with the Coun­tess, but in vain; when one Day observing the Count to be employed in his Gardens, giving Directions to his Workmen for some new Embellishment, the Plan of which he had drawn himself, he quitted some Company that were walking with him, and ran to Madam de Berci's Apartment, resolving to attempt every thing to gain her Pardon. But she being always upon her Guard against such [Page 87] Surprizes; rose up as soon as she saw her Chamber Door open, and perceiving the Che­valier she flew into her Closet, and fastened the Door. Her Lover in Despair at this new Instance of: her Rigour, said all that a Heart torn with Remorse could dictate to move her, but his Complaints, his Protestations, and his Grief, were fruitless, she carried her Severity so far, that she would not deign even to answer him, and he was obliged to withdraw for fear of irritating her still more.

Her obstinate Resentment could not break his Chains, he had merited it all, and his own Heart acknowledged that he did so: incapable of vanquishing his Passion for the Countess, and despairing of ever being able to gain her Pardon, he resolved to retire from a House where he was every day exposed to new Torments, and seek a glorious Death in the Field.

Holland was then the Theatre of War, as it was likewise the School for the bravest Men that ever distinguished themselves in Arms. The Arch-Duke threatned to attack Rhimberg, and the States were preparing to defend it. The Commanders on one side were the Mar­quis de Spinola, General of the Arch-duke's Army, and the valiant Count de Buguoy, the first of whom had already acquired immortal Glory before Ostend with the Spaniards and Walloons. On the other was Prince Maurice of Orange, whose Name alone is an Eulogium, [Page 88] he had with him a younger Brother who emu­lous of his Glory tread already in his Steps: he was indeed at the head of an Army less numerous than Spinola's, but it was chiefly composed of the two most gallant Nations in the World, I mean the French and the English; in the Troops of the former were many of the Nobility, commanded by the great Bethune, and the brave Chatillon, who were preparing to join the Forces of Prince Maurice.

Although the Chevalier des Essars had been treated less cruelly than he was by his Mis­tress, yet he loved Glory too much to remain an idle Spectator in France, of the Laurels his Countrymen were gaining: he mentioned his Design of making a Campaign in Holland, to the Count of Berci, who not only approved of it, but assured him he would go thither like­wise, and both of them declaring their Reso­lution next Morning to Monsieur de Morigny, and the young Marquis de Saint-Sauveur, they would not be left behind.

The Count intreated his Brother to stay with Madam de Berci, during his Absence, but this young Man full of a noble Ardour that could not be repressed, was sensible how shameful it would appear, to stay in the Castle of Beauplan, and be the Guardian of his Sister-in-law, while his eldest Brother was exposing his Life to the uncertain Chance of War, he resolved therefore to partake his La­bours and his Dangers, and all being con­cluded [Page 89] on, they gave Orders for their several Equipages to be prepared with the utmost Expedition.

The Countess was greatly afflicted when she heard her Lord's Design, and that it was the Chevalier des Essars who had persuaded him to it. It was not difficult for her to discover that it was her rigorous Treatment of this un­fortunate Lover, which had induced him to take such a Resolution. She now began to repent of the extreme Rigour she had shewn, which was going to deprive her of a Husband so dear to her, attributing all her Uneasiness to the Thoughts of being separated from him, but it was in vain that she endeavoured to con­ceal her Sentiments from herself. She could not without great Concern reflect on the Dangers to which her Lover was going to expose him­self, and although he had offended her, yet she was apprehensive of the Effects of his Des­pair; and that Death, which he was going to seek, would doubtless deprive her of a Lover for whom in spite of all her Virtue and her Pride she felt in her Heart something more tender than Esteem. But this was a Confes­sion she durst not make to herself, and studi­ously avoiding any Examination of her own Thoughts, she endeavoured to persuade her­self that all her Fears were upon her Lord's Account, he whom it was her Duty to love, and by whom she was loved with so much Tenderness. She resolved therefore to prevail upon the Chevalier to lay aside their Design, [Page 90] she thought she could not have a better Motive for breaking through her Resolution, never to have any private Discourse with him, and did not in the least Doubt, that by the Power she had over him, she could make him aban­don a Design which he had formed in Despair, and she persuaded herself that if she succeeded on this side, the Count her Husband would no longer think of leaving her.

Full of this Project, the Success of which she was sure of in her own Imagination, she fought for an Opportunity to speak to the Chevalier, which however was not the least difficult Part of her Undertaking, for he who despaired of ever gaining her Pardon, and fearful of offending her farther, took Care never to throw himself in her Way as usual, so that the Countess finding herself disapoint­ed in her Endeavours to meet him alone, was beginning to doubt whether she should ever succeed without making it her Request to speak to him, a Humiliation she would fain have avoided, when Chance brought her one Day into a Room fronting the Garden where she saw the Chevalier alone, standing at a Window in an Attitude that shewed he was wholly absorbed in Thought.

The Countess excessively pleased at this ac­cidental Meeting, approached the Window where he stood, with an Intention to speak to him, that very Moment, when the Che­valier supposing she had no other Design than [Page 91] to amuse herself with looking out of it, left it free to her with a respectful Bow, and went to the other End of the Room, where he stood looking at the Count of Berci and the Mar­quis de Saint Sauveur, and Monsieur de Mo­rigny, who were playing at Tennis.

It would not be easy to determine whether this Behaviour gave the Countess more Shame or Vexation, but it is certain that she was ex­tremely disappointed. She understood this Instance of Respect in the Chevalier to be a plain Avowal of Contempt. ‘How insolent he is, said she to herself, but I will not give him Room to imagine, that I am weak enough to run after him; no, I will rather suffer the Loss of all that is dear to me in the World.’ She now leaned upon the Window pensive in her Turn, full of Re­flections very mortifying to her Pride; and fain would she have forced herself to believe that her Pride only was concerned; she felt Emotions more painful than those which arise from Confusion and Anger, and the supposed Neglect of the Chevalier advanced his Affairs with the Countess more than all the Proofs he had hitherto given her of his Passion.

But he in the mean Time observing the Countess to be in a deep Revery, knew not what to think of her Behaviour. He soon began to repent he had left the Window; and after he had continued looking at the Players a few Moments, though his Attention [Page 92] was wholly employed another Way, he stept forwards, with a Design to return to the Place he had quitted so unseasonably, but the Countess, who was extremely piqued by what he had done, seeing him approach, left the Window in her Turn, and went hastily out of the Room, darting a Look at him as she past, that upon any other Occasion would have given him inexpressible Pain, but as he now interpreted it, filled him with a Joy he had never experienced before.

He comprehended in an Instant all that had passed in the Heart of his Mistress. He was in Raptures at this new Mark of her Rigour, and thoroughly acquainted as he was with all the Motions of a Heart in Love, he saw with inconceivable Transport, that the Disdain and Rage which the Countess had darted from her Eyes, were the Effects of affronted Ten­derness and neglected Advances. He blessed his good Fortune, and flattered himself with the sweet Idea of being more loved than he had believed, he resigned himself up entirely to the intoxicating Charms of Hope. But this Alteration in his Affairs with the Countess, far from inducing him to lay aside his former Design, confirmed him in his Resolution of pursuing it, the War in Holland, he did not doubt, would afford him Opportunities of shewing himself worthy of her Esteem, and this Thought alone was sufficient, had he been less brave than he was, to make him eagerly embrace them.

[Page 93]The Count and his Guests having given over Play, went to Madam de Berci's Apart­ment. Her Vexation, which was visible enough in her Eyes, made her Lord conclude, that she was afflicting herself for his approach­ing Departure, which the had often endea­voured to prevent. He therefore applied him­self to make her approve of it as a Thing ab­solutely necessary. He represented to her the Disgrace he should incur if he neglected so fa­vourable an Opportunity of acquiring Honour, and advancing his Fortune; assuring her, that although his Love for her would not permit him to wear out his Days in a shameful Indo­lence, yet it should hasten his Return; be urged to her so many strong Reasons, and so well calculated to make an Impression upon the Mind of a Woman born with just Notions of Honour, that she could not help yielding to them, whatever Grief it might cost her. It was then agreed upon by them both, that she should go into the Province of Burgundy, and stay with her Father and Mother, during his Absence, they earnestly pressing for such a Visit, and that in two Days he should take Leave of her to go to Paris, and finish the Preparations for his Journey.

The Countess, though greatly displeased with the Chevalier for his last Behaviour, was somewhat softened after her Discourse with her Lord. She thought no longer of his sup­posed Neglect, she only considered the Dan­gers he was going to expose himself to. And [Page 94] whenever she met his Eyes, which now hap­pened more frequently than before, she saw so much Grief and Tenderness painted in them, that she conceived it would be inhu­man to deny him the Satisfaction of taking a particular Leave of her. She therefore no longer avoided him, as usual: And these two Lovers having now agreed to speak to each other, it was not difficult for them to find an Opportunity. The Chevalier, who watched her Steps, seeing her, the Evening before they were to set out for Paris, walking alone in a covered Alley, he joined her with a respect­ful Air, and a Timidity which the late Disco­very he had made, could not repress.

‘I know not, Madam, (said he to her trem­bling) whether you will condescend to hear for a few Moments the most unfortunate of Men; but I dare flatter myself, that if you knew the Sincerity of my Repentance for having displeased you, and all the Torments I have suffered from that Time, your Heart, insensible as it is, would be moved to pity me; but if you are severe enough to think my Crime not sufficiently punished by your Rigour and my own Grief, Death, I hope, will soon revenge you fully on a Wretch who has had the Audacity to offend you. I shall suffer it without repining, I shall meet it with Indifference; nay, to satisfy you, I will do more, and seek it eagerly; that I may at once deliver you from a Lover you detest, and myself from Torments I can [Page 95] no longer support. Happy still, if the Sa­crifice I shall make you of my Life, will at length appease your Rage, which I acknow­ledge to be just, and procure me that Com­passion I vainly hoped for while I lived.’ ‘Chevalier, (replied the Countess, looking on him with Eyes in which Anger and Disdain were wholly extinguished) let us speak no more of what is past, I am willing to for­get your Crime, and remember only your Repentance, and the Services my Father and my Brother have received from you: Live then, since I am so far from wishing your Death, that I earnestly conjure you to be careful of yourself, do not expose your Life to inevitable Dangers.— I recommend my Husband and my Brother to your Care, be watchful over their Safety, and do not neglect your own. Yes, (continued she in a Voice more tender) your Life is dear to me, I will not blush to own it.— I esteem your Person, but do not imagine, that this Confession can authorize you to entertain any Hopes to the Prejudice of my Honour; it is innocent, though it is frank and with­out Disguise; do you then take care to re­gulate your Conduct by it, as the Sentiments I have for you are not inconsistent with my Duty, and will be always guided by the strict Rules of Virtue; let me hope, that your Behaviour will be such as shall not give me Cause to retract them.’

[Page 96]The Countess of Berci stopped at these Words, expecting her Lover's Reply, but the Chevalier was not composed enough to make any for some Moments; he doubted whether what he had heard, was not an Illusion of his Senses. A Man who from extreme Misery passes rapidly to an Excess of good Fortune, could not be more transported out of himself than the happy Chevalier in that sweet Mo­ment.

'Ah! Madam, (said he, with a Look, and Voice expressive of the highest Agi­tation) ‘your unmerited Goodness is almost as fatal to me as your Rigour, my Heart, so long tormented by Remorse for having offended you, and Grief for having lost your Esteem, can with Difficulty bear the Transports with which you have filled it by this Assurance of your Pardon, and Pro­mise of your returning Favour; this over­pays me for all the Torments I have suffer­ed, Torments that will ever be dear to me, since they have produced such happy Effects. Yes, Madam, I will endeavour to preserve my Life since you desire I should do so, I will submissively obey your Commands, but will live only to love you with the most pure disinterested Affection, and to serve you with the most faithful Respect.’

‘Well, Monsieur, returned the charming Countess, begin then by giving me convin­cing Proofs of the Disinterestedness of your [Page 97] Affection. I love my Husband, and my Brother with the utmost Tenderness, again I tell you that I confide them to your ge­nerous Care, do not abandon them in the Danger to which their rash Courage may lead them, moderate their ardor and hinder them from exposing their Persons unneces­sarily, bring them back to me again in Safety, pursued she, letting fall some Tears from her fine Eyes, and be assured that my constant Esteem, will be the Price of such a Service.’

The Chevalier was preparing to assure the Countess that he would pay the most exact Obedience to her Commands, when young Berci her Brother-in-law, appeared in the Walk, and interrupted the most pleasing Conversation he had ever known. How difficult is it for a Lover who has lately ex­perienced any unlooked for good Fortune, to conceal his Joy. The Chevalier at that Moment was hardly to be known, he was no more the same Man, plunged in Grief and wholly absorbed in Melancholy. The Satisfaction he felt, shone in his Eyes, and enlivened his whole Countenance. His Con­versation, freed from that Restraint he had formerly laboured under, was now easy and chearful, and as they continued their Walk all three together, some lively Sallies escaped him, which gave the Countess as good an Opinion of his Wit, as she had of his Valour and Generosity.

[Page 98]It was not difficult for the Count's Brother to guess the Cause of so extraordinary a Change. He supposed his Sister-in-law had relaxed in her Severity to the Chevalier, and if he did not form Suspicions injurious to her Virtue, he concluded at least that their Farewel had been very tender, and that they were well assured of each other's Affection: how­ever he prudently dissembled his Thoughts, and contented himself with observing them carefully all the rest of the Evening; the Lovers perceived it, and were more circum­spect, but their Eyes often met, and to an interested Observer, could not fail, of betraying their secret Sentiments. The next Day was appointed for their Journey to Paris. The Parting between the Count and Countess, was extremely moving, they both shed Tears, and probably the Chevalier had some Part in those of Madam de Berci. He was not permitted to indulge his Grief with any outward Ex­pressions of it, but his Eyes looked a thousand tender Farewels, which the Countess could not but understand.

They arrived at Paris the same Night, and stayed there some Days, to provide themselves with Armour and all Things that were neces­sary for their Expedition; and after they had furnished themselves with Letters of Exchange for Holland, they took Post for that Place; leaving Orders that their Equipages should follow them by easy Journies. They had the good Fortune to arrive eight Days before [Page 99] Rhineburg was invested, which gave them Time to throw themselves into the Town, that they might have Part in the glorious De­fence it made, during the three Months which the Siege of that important Place continued.

It does not enter into my Design, to describe here, the Particulars of a Siege, which may be read at length, in the Histories of Holland. I shall only relate, what properly belongs to the Subject I am treating. The Besieged made several Sallies with great Advantage, in all which, our Voluntiers signalised themselves, and were very much taken Notice of; but the Chevalier des Essars, gave so many Proofs of his Courage, that he was looked upon as a Prodigy of Strength and Valour. Notwith­standing the Promises he made to his adored Countess, he was far from acting with Caution, he rushed into the thickest Dangers, and ex­posed his Person in every Place, where most Glory was to be acquired. No Man under­stood the Art of War better than he did, he was particularly skillful in the Art of For­tification, and his Advice contributed great­ly to prolong the Defence of the Place. He might be seen upon the Ramparts like one of the Heroes of old, overturning all that made any Attempts to scale them, and fearlessly receiving upon his Buckler, the innumerable Stokes that were aimed at him. He was only attentive to the Preservation of his two Friends, the Count of Berci, and the Marquis de Saint-Sauveur, whose Lives were more [Page 100] precious to him, than his own; he kept them always in his Sight, and never failed to bring them off in Safety, when their too great Ar­dour had carried them, in spite of his Re­monstrances, into Places where their Lives were most exposed.

The Siege of Rhineburg had already lasted two Months, by the uncommon Efforts of the Warriors who defended the Place, when it was resolved that a new Sally should be made, from which they hoped for great Ad­vantages; a dreadful Mine being ordered to be sprung at the same Time to favour the Sally. Although our noble Frenchmen had been greatly fatigued with their past Labours, yet they were determined not to miss this Op­portunity of gathering new Laurels. The Enemies, who did not expect this sudden Sal­ly, were at first put into Disorder, and fled, but soon rallying again, the Fight was re­newed with equal Fury, on both Sides: The Count of Berci's Brother rashly engaging himself too far from his own Party, was taken by the Enemies, the Chevalier not being near enough to prevent his Misfortune; but being informed of it, he resolved, cost what it would, to recover him; he overthrew all that opposed his Passage; and the Enemy's Troops, amazed at a Courage and Strength, which appeared to them more than human, dreaded him more than half the Garrison. He had already slain a great many with his own Hand, when he perceived that his dear Count was just thrown [Page 101] on the Ground by a Grenadier with a Stroke of his Sword, which however had only stun­ned him. The Marquis de Saint-Sauveur, his Brother-in-law, was near him, but had enough to do to defend himself against the Blows that were aimed at him on all Sides. The Grenadier was just going to take away the Life of the Count de Berci, if the Cheva­lier, who never one Moment forgot the Commands of Madam de Berci, had not flown to his Relief; he struck down with one Blow the Grenadier, who was going to murder the Count, and after he had helped him up, they both joined to disengage the Marquis de Saint-Sauveur, who was defend­ing himself alone against three fierce Enemies. They soon got rid of them, and made a hor­rible Slaughter of several others, who met their Fury. The Signal for re-entering the Town being given, they obeyed with Regret, still fighting as they retreated, and they were the last that entered, having brought off the Troops with great Glory and Success. The Chevalier was more pleased with his good Fortune in having preserved his dear Friends, than with all the Praises that were given him by those who had been Witnesses of his Ac­tions. To have had it in his Power to do some Service to his beloved Countess, in the Persons of a Husband and Brother so dear to her, gave him more Joy, than the Laurels he had gained with so many Dangers, and with such loud Applause. However, they were all three greatly afflicted at the Misfortune [Page 102] that had happened to young Berci. A Trum­pet was sent next Day to the General to de­sire he might be treated with the Respect due to his Quality. His Captivity lasted but a short Time; for he was soon after exchanged for a Kinsman of the Marquis de Spinola's, who had been taken Prisoner by the Be­sieged.

Rhineburg, had now heldout three Months, more through the Valour of the Besieged, than the Strength of the Place. The Go­vernour despairing of Succours, and growing destitute of Provision and Ammunition, de­manded a Capitulation. The vigourous D [...] ­fence he had made, was alike glorious to him, and advantageous for his Party; for it effectually hindered the Enemies from un­dertaking any thing considerable during the Remainder of the Campaign. The Enemies, doing Justice to his Valour and good Con­duct, allowed him very honourable Condi­tions. Our Voluntiers finding that the Sea­son was far advanced, and that they were not likely to have any more Opportunities of signalising themselves, took the Road back to Paris, making short Journies. But it is now Time to see how the Countess of Berci employed herself during the Absence of her Lord.

A few Days after his Departure from Beau­plan, she set out for Burgundy, with two of her Women, and a Gentleman whom the [Page 103] Count had left to attend her. She stopped at an Inn at Auxerre, and as she entered the House, saw a young Lady, who seemed to be just alighted also, standing at the Window. Madam de Berci thought her extremely hand­some, and was desirous of having the Pleasure of her Company during the Time they staid there, she sent to beg the Favour they might dine together. The young Lady gladly ac­cepted the Invitation, and entering the Coun­tess's Apartment, both were pleasingly sur­prised to see each other: for in effect, this young Lady, whom the Countess did not know at a Distance, was Mademoiselle de Montmartin,— with whom the young Mar­quis de Saint-Sauveur was in Love.

They embraced with mutual Satisfaction; and, after the first Compliments, each asked the other, where she was travelling? and were infinitely pleased to find that great Part of their Journey they might be together. After Dinner they were informed, that their Coaches were ready, but the Countess insisted upon Mademoiselle de Montmartin's coming into her's, their Women being all accommodated in the young Lady's Coach, Madam de Berci and she had the Pleasure of conversing toge­ther without Restraint.

As soon as they had left Auxerre, the Coun­tess informed Mademoiselle de Montmartin of the Occasion of this Journey, she told her, that in the Company of her Father and Mo­ther, [Page 104] she was going to seek some Consolation, for the Grief which her Lord's and her Bro­ther's Absence had given her, who, she ad­ded, were gone to make a Campaign in Hol­land. Mademoiselle de Montmartin knew this as well as the Countess; for the Marquis de Saint-Sauveur, and Monsieur de Morigny, had both wrote to her before their Departure from Beauplan, to inform her of their intended Ex­pedition, and to take their Leaves of her. She was almost as much afflicted as the Countess, and was going into the Country to bewail her Lover's Absence, and to conceal the In­terest she took in it. However, she affected to be surprised at the News, expressing a great Esteem for the young Marquis de Saint-Sau­veur, had she said Love, she would but have done Justice to those Sentiments she felt for him; but on such Occasions young Ladies generally shew, they can be very secret. And, indeed, she had dissembled her Thoughts with so much Art, that neither the Marquis, or Monsieur de Morigny, had ever Reason to flat­ter himself with being prefered. To this Conduct of her's was owing the Dispute which terminated in their Duel at Fontainebleau; for each supposing the other more happy than himself, both were enraged, and thought themselves injured.

However, Mademoiselle de Montmartin was not quite so reserved with the Sister of her favourite Lover: for though she would not confess, that she loved the Marquis de [Page 105] Saint-Sauveur, yet she acknowledged, with a graceful Modesty, that, notwithstanding Mon­sieur de Morigny had great Merit, yet he would never be her Choice. This was enough to assure the Countess, who did not want Pe­netration, that one Lover was rejected, in Fa­vour of the other: She knew her Sex too well, to expect a farther Explanation, from one so modest as Mademoiselle de Montmar­tin; and sensible how obliging such an Decla­mation was for her Brother, she only answer­ed it by tender Caresses, to shew that she un­derstood it so.

Mademoiselle de Montmartin was absolute­ly ignorant of the Chevalier des Essar's Passion for the Countess, as well as the great Esteem she had for him. They discoursed about the Duel between the Rivals; Mademoiselle de Montmantin praised the Valour and Generosity of the Chevalier, in very high Terms; and the Countess was not sorry, that she had an Op­portunity of talking of him, both of them had great Obligations to him. No Conversa­tion is so delightful as that on a beloved Ob­ject. These Ladies sufficiently proved the Truth of that Observation; for the Count, the Chevalier and the Marquis afforded them a Subject so copious, that, although they talked of nothing else during that Day's Journey, yet when they came to part at Night, they seemed to have a great deal more to say. The Countess and Mademoiselle de Montmartin embraced each other tenderly, and vowed an [Page 106] inviolable Friendship. Madam de Berci pro­mised to be in Paris at the Expiration of two Months, from whence she did not intend to remove till her Lord's Arrival: Mademoiselle de Montmartin on her Side assured her, that she would join her there about that Time, and intreated her to write to her frequently, promising to be as punctual as possible in her Answers.

The Countess of Berci continuing her Jour­ney, arrived three Days afterwards at her Father's Estate, where she was received with the highest Testimonies of Joy. Her Mother, who had not seen her since her Marriage, held her a long Time embraced in her Arms, bedewing her fair Face, with Tears of Tender­ness and Delight. Madame de Berci, as soon as these first Transports of their Meeting were subsided, acquainted her Parents with her Lord's and her Brother's Departure to Hol­land, and that it was the Chevalier des Essars who had persuaded them to this Expedition, to which she had been obliged to consent.

‘God grant, said the old Marquis de Saint-Sauveur, with lifted Eyes, that their safe Return may put an End to your Fears and ours. My Daughter, added the good old Man, you recal to my Remembrance a Man who will ever be dear to me, his Wel­fare, next to that of my Wife and Children, is what I take most Interest in. I dread lest his immoderate Courage should expose [Page 107] him to Dangers no human Force can sur­mount; for all that Man can do, he can, he saved my Life once by his Valour, and he saved it a second time, by preserving your Brother, it will never be in my Power to make him a sufficient Return for Bene­fits of this Nature.’

The Countess durst not trust herself so far as to answer this Discourse of her Father's, she dreaded lest she should say too much on so pleasing a Subject, she therefore artfully turned the Conversation upon her meeting with Mademoiselle de Montmartin at Au­xerre. She extolled the Merit and Beauty of that young Lady, and expressed an ardent Wish, that she might be so happy as to have her for a Sister-in-law. The old Marquis, who knew her Family, as also that she had a very large Fortune, a Quality which in those Times, as well as our own, was of higher Estimation than all the Advantages of Wit, Birth, and Beauty, was extremely well satis­fied with his Son's Taste, and approved of his Daughter's Proposal, declaring that her Estate was a very good one, and she was a very ami­able Lady.

In the mean time the Count of Berci, who took every Opportunity of writing to his Wife, and sending her News of every Thing that concerned him, informed her of his Bro­ther's being taken Prisoner by the Enemies, and the Extremity to which he himself and [Page 108] his Brother-in-law would have been reduced, but for the immediate Assistance they received from the Chevalier des Essars. He acknow­ledged, that he owed his Life to the Courage of that brave Man, and that he had also pre­served the Marquis de Saint-Sauveur a second time. The Count gave a very circumstan­tial Account of the Danger they had been in, and of the Valour and Conduct of his Friend, who by a thousand brave Exploits, had gained a never dying Reputation. He intreated his Wife to be at Paris in a few Days, where he hoped he should soon meet her.

‘No, my dear Daughter, said her Mother transported with Admiration and Gratitude, the Count must come and fetch you; write to him to bring with him this wonderful Man. This is the only Way we have to see him; he is so great a Friend of your Lord's, that he will not refuse to accompany him to Burgundy. We will shew him by our Re­ception of him, that although it is not in our Power to repay the inestimable Benefits he has conferred upon us, yet that we can acknowledge them with the utmost Grati­tude.’ The Countess could not but be ve­ry much affected with this new Proof of the Chevalier's Passion for her, her Delicacy was not shocked at the grateful Tenderness she felt for a Man who had preserved her Husband. His Generosity, and the Disinterestedness of his Love, seemed to authorise those favourable Sentiments she had for him. The Praises her [Page 109] Father and Mother bestowed upon him, strengthened those Sentiments; and it was with Difficulty that she forbore joining in their Eulogiums on this brave Man, with an Ardour that might have betrayed her Secret. She reflected with Astonishment on the strange Effects of Fortune, which continually furnish­ed him with new Arms, to take, as it were, her Heart by Force. She became sensible, at length, that she loved the Chevalier.— A Crime, which, though involuntary, she would not have pardoned in herself, had she not re­solved to die, rather than do any thing that could wound her Duty, or throw a Blemish upon her Fame.

After she had continued some Weeks at her Father's, she had Affairs to solicit at Court, which required that she should be there, as soon as possible. The Marquis and his La­dy used a thousand Efforts to detain her, with a Hope of having soon the Company of their Son-in-law, and the Chevalier des Es­sars; but the Countess could not be prevail­ed upon. — Although the Care of her Affairs had indeed less Part in her Eagerness to be gone, than her Impatience to meet her Lord, and perhaps a secret Wish to see the Cheva­lier; besides, she had promised Mademoiselle de Montmartin to be at Paris within two Months, and the Time drew very near, that young Lady was already there, and had wrote to the Countess to remind her of her Pro­mise.

[Page 110]Madam de Berci took a tender Farewel of her Parents, who believing they saw her for the last time, were dissolved in Tears and Grief; the Countess was not less afflicted, and with Dif­ficulty disengaging herself from their Arms, she threw herself into her Coach in a silent Agony of Grief.

Having met with no Accidents or Delays in her Journey, she arrived at Paris on the tenth of September.

She employed all the remaining Part of the Time her Lord continued at the Siege of Rhineburg, in soliciting the Affair she had at Court. Mademoiselle de Montmartin hardly ever left her, nothing could be more tender and sincere, than the Friendship between these two Ladies. Mademoiselle de Montmartin felt the Absence of the young Marquis de Saint-Sauveur less severe, when she was in the Company of his charming Sister, and Ma­dam de Berci could indulge her Tenderness by talking of the Chevalier des Essars to Made­moiselle de Montmartin, who considering him as the Preserver of her Lover's Life, was ne­ver tired of hearing his Praises.

The Ladies had Lodgings near the Arsenal, where the young Nobility diverted themselves every Day with Tilting, and other martial Sports, and these bloodless Wars were often a pleasing Amusement to them. One Day they were informed, that some Foreigners, who [Page 111] were just arrived at Paris, had challenged some of the Courtiers to break a Lance with them, as was the Custom in the gallant Reign of Henry IV. The King, who supposed these Foreigners to be Englishmen, a Nation he had a high Esteem for, resolved to honour this Combat with his Presence, the whole Court came to the Arsenal, and our two Friends did not fail likewise to be there. The Foreigners made good their Challenge a long Time against several Lords of the Court, but one amongst them soon drew all the Attention of the Spectators. He gave so many Proofs of an uncommon Courage, and Address, that one of the bravest Men of the Court, and a great Favourite of the King's, flattering himself, that he could revenge the Defeat of the other Lords, by overcoming his Vanquisher, ad­vanced fiercely against him, however, he had soon Cause to repent of his Presumption, for after several vigourous Efforts to overthrow his Adversary, the Stranger, weary of a Re­sistance to which he had not been accustomed, collecting all his Strength, gave him so fu­rious a Blow that he fell groveling on the Ground.

The Courtier was slightly wounded by the Lance; and although the King was soon in­formed that his Hurt was not dangerous, yet he was so much concerned at an Accident so mortifying for his Favourite, that he com­manded the Sports should cease; and sending for the Challengers, desired they would make [Page 112] themselves known. They obeyed, with a profound Reverence to the King, and taking off their casques, discovered to him that they were his own Subjects.

The King and the whole Court soon knew them to be the same brave Men who three Months before had left Paris, to go and shut themselves up in Rhineburg, and indeed they were no other, than the Chevalier des Essars, and his two noble Friends; they had arrived that very Day from Holland, and had agreed to signalize their Entry into Paris, by some gallant Adventure.

The King was extremely pleased to see them again, and was better satisfied that his Favourite and his Courtiers should be over­come by their own Countrymen, than Foreigners. He said a great many obliging Things upon their Valour and Success; and after conferring with them upon some Parti­culars relating to the Siege of Rhineburg, and declaring that he was highly pleased with their Conduct, he returned to the Louvre, and left them in the midst of the Ladies.

In the mean time, the Praises that were given to the Chevalier des Essars, resounded from every Part, and had Glory been the predominant Passion in his Soul, he might have been extremely happy; but he was wholly taken up with the Thoughts of his lovely Countess, whom he was every where [Page 113] seeking with his Eyes. The Impatience that was visible in his Countenance, and that Ab­sence of Mind, which made him insensible to every thing that passed, had there been Lei­sure for Observation, might have betrayed his Secret. At length he discovered the Place where Madam de Berci was, he pointed her out with a joyful Emotion to the Count, and they immediately advanced to salute her, while the Marquis de Saint-Sauveur, and Mon­sieur de Morigny flew eagerly to kiss the Hands of Mademoiselle de Montmartin, who was with her; that young Lady was in great Per­plexity how to behave in such a manner to these Rivals, as might not excite the Jealousy of either, by a Preference too remarkable. And though her Heart declared for the Mar­quis de Saint-Sauveur, yet she received Mon­sieur de Morigny with equal Appearance of Satisfaction.

The Count of Berci having embraced the Countess his Wife, presented the Chevalier des Essars to her, and casting a tender Regard upon him, said, ‘Madam, it is to this brave Man, this truly generous Friend, that you owe the safe Return of your Husband, and your Brother; to him we are obliged for the Happiness of seeing you again. Pay your Acknowledgments here, and by your grateful Reception of our Preserver, shew your Estimation of the Benefits he has con­ferred upon you.’

[Page 114] ‘It is not the only time, replied the Coun­tess, sweetly blushing, that the Chevalier, by the Greatness of his Services to us, has made all Thanks poor, and infinitely below the Obligations we have to him; and if it is not in our Power to repay such noble Acts, with any thing farther than such Sen­timents as the highest Gratitude inspires, he will, like Heaven, be contented with Thanks and Praise, since Virtue is always its own greatest Reward.’

The Chevalier understood the full Force of this Answer, which probably the Count might think a little extravagant. ‘Madam, an­swered he, the Services I have been so hap­py as to render you, are only considerable with respect to their Motive, and their Ob­jects and to which Fortune has contributed more than any thing else: but were they much greater than they are, I should think them too well rewarded, by the Honour you do me, of appearing sensible of them.’

The Count, during this Speech, had been making his Compliments to Mademoiselle de Montmartin; and the Marquis de Saint-Sau­veur then found Time to salute his Sister, and to present Monsieur de Morigny to her; after which the Count giving his Hand to the young Lady, while the Chevalier had the Happiness of leading the charming Countess, they went altogether to Madam de Berci's Lodgings, [Page 115] which were but a small Distance from thence.

The Countess detained Mademoiselle de Montmartin to Supper, as likewise some other Ladies, her Friends, who being informed of the Count's Return, came to take Part in her Joy. After Supper, several of the Count's Friends coming in, the Chevalier des Essars left him amongst them, and joined the Ladies, who had formed a little Cabal by themselves. The Discourse now turned wholly upon Gal­lantry: One of the Ladies, who had a great deal of Vivacity, asked the Chevalier, if In­sensibility was the necessary Consequence of uncommon Courage; and whether Love and Glory were incompatible? ‘To tell you the Truth, added she, we are all very unhappy, to find that our Charms have yet made no Impression upon your Heart. And since, as we find by your Example, that Hero's are sensible to no other Passion but Ambi­tion, we are in Danger of having either no Adorers at all, or such as will do us no Honour.’

The Countess and the Chevalier could not help smiling, at this Speech. Mademoiselle de Montmartin finding the Chevalier silent, turned to the Lady, who had made the At­tack upon him. ‘We find, Madam, said she, that the Hero's of old were proud of surrendering their Arms to Love, and those Laurels they had gained with such Danger [Page 116] in the Field, were generally offered to some Fair ones, at their Return; why then should you imagine that the Chevalier would think Love a Blemish to his Glory, when they imagined it added Glory to theirs. As for me, I declare, I believe him to be as much in Love as any of those great Men, but infinitely more discreet; and his great Care, to conceal his Flame, from all Eyes but those which have kindled it, is a Proof with me, that it is so much the more vio­lent and lasting.’

Mademoiselle de Montmartin would not have railled the Chevalier in this manner, had she had the least Suspicion of his Pas­sion for the Countess; she had no other Design in it, but to keep up the Mirth of the Conversation. The Countess knew not what to think, when the Chevalier recover­ing a little from the Perplexity into which this Discourse had thrown him, said, ‘If there is no Heart, Madam, but what some Time or other is sensible of the Force of Love, mine, if it had kept its Freedom hitherto, would certainly lose it now, amidst so many Charms; but grant I am in Love, what would it avail me to confess a Flame for which I cannot hope for any Re­medy?’

‘Perhaps, Monsieur, said Mademoiselle de Montmartin, the Beauty for whom you languish in secret, wants only such a Con­fession, [Page 117] to make her pity, and reward your Love.’

The Countess was now more alarmed than before, and apprehensive that her Silence might make it suspected that she was too much interested in this Discourse, addressed herself to the Chevalier, with an Air so un­reserved and easy, as might have blinded the most penetrating View.'

‘If I was acquainted with this haughty Beauty, Monsieur, said she, and was as­sured that I had any Influence over her, I would never cease to importune her, till she had rendered Justice to your Valour and Merit. I am persuaded, the rest of these Ladies are as much inclined to fa­vour you, and would readily join their Endeavours with mine to serve you. If then you would make use of our Assist­ance, you must tell us the Name of this powerful Beauty, who has had the Glo­ry to triumph over such a Heart, that we may all plead your Cause, myself parti­cularly, in Acknowledgment for the Ser­vices I have received from you.’

It was plain, the Countess relied greatly on the Chevalier's Wit and Discretion, or she could not have gone so far; he answer­ed her Expectations, and taking the Word, with a Grace that suffered not any Embar­rassment to be perceived, ‘Madam, said [Page 118] he, there is so great a Disproportion be­tween the Merit of the Lady I love, and my own, that I dare not hope for any Re­turn to my Passion. However, I am so highly obliged by the Offer you have gene­rously made me, and I owe you so much Respect and Obedience, that, although I had determined not to disclose her Name, yet if you command me, I will reveal it to you, upon Condition, that you will pro­mise me, Madam, never to discover the Secret.’

‘It is impossible to accept of your Condi­tion, interrupted the Countess smiling, how little do you understand our Sex, if you think we would not rather lose the Pleasure of hearing a Secret, than be under the hor­rible Restraint of keeping it; but I believe, continued she, that we have really carried our Curiosity too far. — It would be inhu­man to rally you any more, and we will content ourselves, with knowing that you are in Love, without desiring you to name the Object.’

The Chevalier made no Reply, but taking up a Lute that lay upon a Table, he touched the Strings with such Art, as shewed he was a perfect Master of that Instrument, and joining to it his Voice, he sung a melting Air, which expressed all the Fervour of his Passion. The Company, drawn by the Sweet­ness of his Voice, began to gather round [Page 119] him. — The Ladies, who remarked the Pur­port of the Song, which lamented a hopeless Love, and saw his Eyes swimming in tender Languishment, sighing at every Pause with sympathetic Sorrow, were persuaded that he was indeed a Lover, and that he was unfor­tunate.

The Countess was so affected with this musical Complaint, which she understood perfectly well, that it was with Difficulty she restrained her Tears, and not daring to meet her Lover's Eyes with so much Softness in her own, she turned them on her Lord, cal­ling up all her Virtue and her Fortitude to resist the soft Emotions, that filled her Breast. The Chevalier had scarce ended his Song, when a Page entered the Room, and desired to speak with him. He rose up, and Madam de Berci, who followed him with her Eyes, saw that the Page delivered a Message to him in a Whisper, after which the Chevalier, making an Excuse to the Company for leaving them, followed the little Emissary down Stairs.

The Countess found something in this mysterious Message, sufficient to alarm her, she suspected it was some Lady who had sent for the Chevalier. That Love, which had lain hid even from herself at the Bottom of her Heart, flamed out in Jealousy at this In­cident; she felt Emotions which hitherto she had been a Stranger to, a deadly Palenass [Page 120] overspread her Face, she trembled, sighed, and e'er she was aware the Tears started [...]om her Eyes. Such extraordinary Agita­sions must necessarily have awakened the Company's Suspicions, had not the Accident that happened at that very Instant, given a Colour to it, by the general Terror and Grief with which all were seized.

The Chevalier having, as we have already said, followed the Page down Stairs, he rush­ed suddenly out of the Door that led to the Street, and three Men advancing immediate­ly to the Chevalier, seized him, and plunged their Poignards into his Body. The Cheva­lier disengaging himself from their hold, drew his Sword to defend himself, but e'er he could execute his Intentions, he received another Wound, which depriving him at once of Sense and Motion, he fell to the Ground. The Assassins supposing him dead, endeavour­ed to escape by the Door through which the Page had run out, and which, as they ex­pected, he had left open for them; but the Boy in his Hurry and Confusion flung the Door after him, so that the Murderers found themselves enclosed on every Side. The Noise the Chevalier had made by strugling with them, reached the Ears of some Servants, who waited in the Antichamber, near that the Company were in, they ran hastily down Stairs, and came just Time enough to see the Chevalier fall all bloody upon the Ground. One of them running up Stairs again, entered [Page 121] the Room where the Company was, and told them that the Chevalier des Essars had just been assassinated.

Instantly the Count of Berci, followed by his Brother, and Messieurs de Saint-Sauveur, and Morigny, ran with their Swords drawn to the Hall: they found their Friend bathed in his own Blood, and lying senseless upon the Ground, and the three Murderers, who en­deavoured to conceal themselves, standing in a Corner of the Hall. These Wretches, see­ing the imminent Danger they were in, and that they could hope for no Mercy, sought like Madmen; the Count of Berci called to them to yield, but finding them obstinate, he and his two Friends soon dispatched them. Two of them died upon the Spot, and the third lived a few Moments after he fell, but could not be prevailed upon to declare who he was, and upon what Account he had joined in so villainous an Action.

The House was full of Tumult and Disor­der; the Count's Servants, having taken up the Chevalier, carried him without Reflexion into the Room where the Ladies were; they laid him on a Sopha, and ran to fetch Sur­geons. — What a sad Spectacle was this for the Countess of Berci, her Lover pale, bloody, and disfigured with Wounds! She stood gazing for a Moment upon him, her Eyes seemed fixed, her Feet rooted to the Ground; then with a deep Groan she fell senseless into [Page 122] the Arms of Mademoiselle de Montmartin, who was near her, and was carried into an­other Room, where all the Remedies they applied to recover her, were for some Time ineffectual.

The Surgeons in the mean time examined the Chevalier's Wounds, they pronounced them very dangerous; they conferred toge­ther a few Moments in a Language unintel­ligible to any but themselves, and then pro­ceeded to apply their Dressings, declaring, that if the Chevalier recovered, it would be little less than a Prodigy. His Friends listen­ed to this as to the Sentence of his Death, and abandoned themselves to excessive Grief. The Chevalier was put to Bed, and continued all the rest of the Night in a Swoon. To­wards the Morning he began to recover his Senses, but his Voice was so low that he could scarce be heard when he attempted to speak. He had lost a great Quantity of Blood, and with it all Remembrance of what had happened to him. The Surgeons, who visited him as soon as it was light, ordered that he should not be allowed to see any Per­son, or to speak, but be kept as quiet as pos­sible. His Friends, amidst their Anxiety for his Recovery, used their utmost Endeavours to find out the Authors of so horrid a Villany. After a strict Enquiry, they discovered the Page, who had brought the Message to the Chevalier, and delivered him up to his But­chers. He confessed, that he and those Men [Page 123] had been employed by a Kinsman of the King's Favourite, who had been unhorsed in the Lists by the Chevalier the same Day he came to Paris.

The Friends of Monsieur des Essars, full of Indignation, and breathing Revenge, went to the Louvre, to complain of this Assassina­tion to the King, and to demand Justice on the Author of it. It was but too probable, that the Favourite himself, who was likewise vanquished by the Chevalier, was concerned in this black Affair; however, he disavowed it publicly, and shewed great Concern for the Condition to which the Chevalier was re­duced. His Grief, whether real or affected, had such Marks of Sincerity in it, as persuaded the King he was absolutely ignorant of the horrid Deed, and being charmed at such a Conviction of his Innocence, he obliged him, and the Friends of the Chevalier, to embrace in his Presence, commanding them positively to take no other Measures to revenge him than those the Law allows.

In the mean time the Favourite's Kinsman sought to secure his own Safety by Flight: He went into another Country, and never more durst venture to return to France. But although the Favourite was justified in the King's Opi­nion, yet the Public had not the same Indul­gence for him, nor equal Facility in believing his Professions. The Chevalier had never had any declared Enemy, and it was the general [Page 124] Discourse, that the false Shame of being van­quished, had induced him to commit an Ac­tion so infamous and so unworthy of a brave Man.

But let us now return to the unfortunate Countess of Berci: When she had recovered her Senses, and began to reflect on what had passed, she found she had given very remark­able Testimonies of her Grief and Tenderness before several Witnesses, all of whom she could not flatter herself were so taken up with their own Terror and Concern, as not to ob­serve them. She trembled at the Interpreta­tion her Lord might put upon her Behaviour; but the Count of Berci, who tenderly loved his Wife, and who had not the least Suspicion of her Virtue, attributed her sudden Fainting to the Terrors with which she was seized at the Sight of the Chevalier in that dreadful Condition; and it was natural for her to be extremely afflicted for the Danger of one from whom she had received so many Ser­vices.

He was the first to tell her that the Sur­geons had some Hopes of his Recovery; she was overjoyed at this News, but the Appre­hensions she still continued to be under, that her Regard for the Chevalier was discovered, embittered that Joy, and filled her with An­xiety. She dreaded lest her Brother-in-law should form Suspicions injurious to her Vir­tue. He, indeed, was but too well acquainted [Page 125] with the Chevalier's Passion for the Countess' and did not fail to observe the Conduct of them both. His Sister-in-law's Fainting did not escape his Notice; but whatever were his Thoughts about it, he kept them shut up in his Heart, and never took any Step that might give her Uneasiness, or prejudice her in the Opinion of her Husband, and notwithstand­ing his secret Envy of the Chevalier, he al­ways governed himself by those Principles of Generosity which were natural to him.

As soon as the Chevalier was able to re­flect upon the Adventure which had happen­ed to him, he employed his Mind incessant­ly in considering who could be the Author of it: And as Lovers are ever torturing them­selves with imaginary Evils, he sometimes fancied, that this secret Enemy, who sought to take his Life, by such shameful Methods, was a Rival, who flattered himself that it was he only who stood in his Way to Hap­piness. This Thought gave him inexpres­sible Agonies; he burnt with Desire to be revenged, and Impatience and the Inquietude of his Mind greatly retarded his Recovery.

The Count of Berci, who came into his Chamber, one Day, when he was most dis­turbed with these Chimera's, finding his Fe­ver much higher, and hearing him sigh, and discover great Agitation of Mind: ‘What is it that troubles you, my dear Chevalier? (said this tender and faithful Friend) Why [Page 126] do you give way to any anxious Thoughts in the Condition you are in? The Melan­choly that oppresses you, will be of dan­gerous Consequence to your Health, and the Hopes the Surgeons have given us of your Life, will be all blasted, if you do not, by calming your Mind, contribute to your Cure. Banish these Cares that disturb your own Quiet, and afflict your Friends, and be assured that you are already re­venged of your Enemies, if that Thought can give you any Relief.’

The Count then informed him of the Fate of his three Assassins, but took Care not to own his Suspicions concerning the King's Favourite, whom he had vanquished in the Lists the Day he arrived at Paris. He was afraid, that he would too soon be led, by common Discourse, and his own Reflexions, to suspect him himself, and knowing the Courage of his Friend, he did not doubt but as soon as he had recovered his Strength, he would take Vengeance on him for the base Attempt he had made upon his Life.

The Chevalier would have answered the Count, and expressed his Acknowledgment of the Friendship he discovered for him, but Monsieur de Berci, laying his Hand up­on his Mouth, conjured him to obey the Surgeons Directions, who had earnestly re­commended to him not to speak; and ten­derly urged him to contribute all in his [Page 127] Power towards his Cure, which was earnest­ly prayed for by his Friends. The Cheva­lier then contented himself with pressing in an affectionate manner the Count's Hand, which he held between his, endeavouring, by this Action, to shew him how greatly he was affected with all those Instances he gave him of his Friendship. He ardently wished to see the Countess; — her Presence would have been an effectual Relief to him, but she was of a contrary Opinion: She was afraid that the Sight of her might produce some dangerous Alteration, she therefore con­tented herself with sending frequent Messages to know the State of his Health, and to as­sure him of the great Interest she took in it.

At the Expiration of fifteen Days, the Surgeons declared that he was out of Danger, and that they would answer for his Life. The Count, eager to communi­cate this good News to his Wife, went in­stantly to her Apartment, and congratulated his Brother and her, upon the hoped-for Recovery of a Friend so dear to them all. Madam de Berci could resist no longer the earnest Desire she had to see him, but still fearful of surprising him, she sent to let him know that she would visit him the next Day. This Interval appeared an Age to the transported Chevalier, he counted the Hours with Impatience, and blessed every fleeting [Page 128] Moment as it past, which brought him nearer to his Happiness.

The Marquis de Saint-Sauveur, and Ma­demoiselle de Montmartin, accompanied the Countess in this Visit; but they, glad of an Opportunity to discourse together apart, re­tired to one End of the Room, as soon as they had paid their Compliments to the Che­valier, and left the Countess alone at his Bed­side. The Chevalier, at the Sight of her, whom he loved with such Ardency, forgot his Wounds and his Pain; he attempted to raise himself in his Bed, that he might, in a less unbecoming Posture, thank her for the Honour she did him. Madam de Berci perceiving his Intention, made a Motion with her Hand to hinder him. The happy Chevalier immediately seized that charming Hand, and the Countess not having Resolu­tion enough to withdraw it at first, he printed an ardent Kiss upon it, but again offering to press it to his Lips, she drew it back with Precipitation, though with no Marks of Anger; and this mute Conversation gave place to Acknowledgements on the Part of the Chevalier, and Protestations of eternal Gratitude and Respect for her unmerited Goodness; but all uttered with such appa­rent Disorder, and in Language so uncon­nected, as persuaded the Countess of the Fervour of his Love, better than the most eloquent Discourse could have done. She assured him, on her Side, that she had been [Page 129] really afflicted at the Misfortune which had happened to him; she intreated him to take Care of himself, and not retard his Cure by any Impatience, or Anxiety; she said a thou­sand obliging Things to him, and although she was a little offended at the Freedom he had used in taking her Hand so unexpectedly, yet she would not, in the weak Condition he was in, discover any Resentment towards him, but secretly resolved to avoid, as much as possible, all Opportunities of being alone with him, lest a less pardonable Liberty should escape him: And fearing he would endanger his Health, by speaking too much, if she protracted her Visit any longer, she [...]o [...]e from her Chair, and Mademoiselle de Mont­martin, and her Lover, approaching, she took Leave of him, promising to see him soon again. She kept her Word, and visited him frequently, but took Care to be as seldom as possible left alone at his Bedside; her Presence advanced his Cure more than all the Surgeons Endeavours, he felt no Pain when he saw her, and even the Torments of his Mind were suspended while she was with him; he [...]ound so much Sweetness in that soft and obliging Solicitude she expressed for his Re­covery, that he began to dread lest his Wound [...] should be cured too soon.

‘Would to Heaven, Madam, said he to her, one Day, when she asked him how he was, that I might continue still for Years in this Condition, the highest Health has [Page 130] not half so many Charms for me as these Wounds, since they procure me the Blessing of seeing you, and of being assured that you take some Interest in my Health.’

Although he spoke these Words very low, so that they could only be heard by the Coun­tess, the rest of the Company, who came with her to visit, standing at some Distance in Discourse, yet she blushed, and was in great Confusion. ‘You make an ill Use of my Condescension, said she softly in Answer, and you will force me to forbear my Visits, unless you treat me with more Respect.’ These Words were severe enough to have given the Chevalier great Pain, for nothing is so timid as a true Lover; but a Smile, which immediately after beamed over the fair Face of Madam de Berci, and a parting Look she gave him, which expressed more Compas­sion than Anger, calmed his Fears, and not­withstanding his Wishes to the contrary, his Cure was soon perfected, and he obliged, through Decency, to quit the Count of Berci's House, and remove to his own.

He now thought himself in a frightful So­litude, Absence increased his Despair, with­out diminishing his Love; he had been so used to the Sight of the charming Countess, every Day, that he could not live without it. When the Hour approached, in which she and her Friends used to visit him, he felt more sensibly, the Want of that charming [Page 131] Presence, which while enjoyed, annihilated his Torments. He sought for Relief in Com­pany and Amusements, but in Crouds he was alone, and in the midst of Pleasures absorb­ed in Melancholy.— Love pursued him every where, but a Love without Hope; and Rea­son, which he sometimes called to his Aid, when it represented to him that his Pursuit was fruitless, increased his Despair, but left his Passion more violent than before.

Nor was the Countess without her Inquie­tudes: Her Tenderness for the Chevalier, though innocent, was a perpetual Reproach to her in her own Mind; Reason and Du­ty dictated to her, that she ought to combat such Thoughts, as seemed to incroach upon the Love she owed her Husband; while, on the other hand, the Services she had re­ceived from the Chevalier demanded her Gratitude. His unhappy Love excited her Compassion, and his Merit forced her Esteem; fain would she have persuaded herself, that the Sentiments she had for him were au­thorised by the Obligations he had conferred on her whole Family: but her Heart was pure, and the Voice of Reason, though not heard amidst the Tumult of unrestrained and lawless Passions, yet is readily listened to by doubting Virtue. Hence it followed, that the Countess escaped all those Snares which the deluding Sophistry of Love laid for her. And although she could not vanquish her Ten­derness for the Chevalier, yet looking upon [Page 132] it as a Crime, she lived in continual War with herself, and kept her Will in Subjec­tion, if she could not her Thoughts. The Conversation of Mademoiselle de Montmar­tin, as it was tender and sensible, and her Heart sincere, was all the Comfort Madam de Berci had; but this Lady was likewise far from being happy.

The Marquis de Saint-Sauveur, and Mon­sieur de Morigny, still continued their Ad­dresses to her; their Jealousy, notwithstand­ing their Endeavours to conceal it, as well from her as from each other, broke out in all their Looks and Actions. She dreaded the Effects of it; she loved the Marquis, and she felt nothing but Indifference for Monsieur de Morigny, nevertheless she was obliged to conceal her real Sentiments, and treat them with equal Reserve.

It is extremely difficult to act always in Opposition to our Inclinations: and to a Mind naturally sincere and artless, all Dissimulation is painful. Mademoiselle de Montmartin suf­fered great Uneasiness from the continual Restraint she laid upon herself, but she trem­bled, lest she should be the Cause of a second Rupture between these friendly Rivals. They haunted her perpetually, they visited her to­gether, they followed her to all public Places; and if, to get rid of the Importunity of Mon­sieur de Morigny, she sometimes refused to see him, it was necessary likewise, that she [Page 133] should deprive herself of the Pleasure of see­ing her beloved Marquis, whose Destiny, by the peculiar Unhappiness of her Situation, was not more fortunate than that of his Rival. It is true, she might have freed herself from so cruel a Tyranny, by declaring at once her Choice; but terrified at what had lately hap­pened, she trembled lest the Rivals should again dispute the Possession of her, with their Swords, and the Loss of her beloved Marquis would then be unavoidable; for if he did not perish by his Rival's Hand, he could not a second time hope for a Pardon: She resolved, therefore, to see neither of them, till Time had produced some Alteration in their Minds; and Absence from the Marquis seem­ed less painful to endure, than the cruel Alter­native of treating both with equal Indifference, where one was so greatly preferred.

Having taken her Resolution, she told them, when they came as usual to visit her, that, for very important Reasons, which she could not, at that Time, explain to them, she must desire they would forbear their Visits.

The Lovers, thunder-struck at so severe a Decree, gazed on her some Moments in Si­lence. The Marquis, at length, recovering from his first Consternation, began to expos­tulate with her upon the Cruelty of her Pro­ceeding. Mademoiselle de Montmartin was greatly affected, scarce could she restrain her [Page 134] Tears, and some Sighs in spite of her made their Way as she spoke to her Lover, to whom she confirmed, tho' with a faltering Voice, his Sentence. Her Emotion did not escape his Observation, it gave Rise to vari­ous Reflexions in his Mind, he turned from her and went to a Window, where he stood ruminating upon what had passed.

In the mean Time Monsieur de Morigny, who had been so shocked with her cruel Pro­hibition, that he had not been able to attend to what she said to his Rival, began to urge her with the most vehement Intreaties to change her Resolution. Mademoiselle de Mont­martin found no Reluctance in herself to deny him, she assured him with great Steadiness, that she had taken it upon mature Delibera­tion, and that nothing he could say, would have Power to alter it. The Marquis ap­proaching her as she pronounced these Words, told her that he would give her a convincing Proof of his Passion, by paying an implicit Obedience to her Commands. He bowed low as he finished these Words, which Mon­sieur de Morigny looking upon as the Signal for going away, only conjured her not to make the Time of their Banishment too long, since it would be difficult for them to obey her and live, and then taking a respectful Leave, he followed the Marquis de Saint-Sauveur, and they both went out of the House together.

[Page 135]The Chevalier des Essars saw them, and perceiving an unusual Discomposure on their Countenances, asked them the Reason of it. They acquainted him with what had happen­ed, and intreated him to advise them how to act in such a perplexing Situation.

The Chevalier very frankly told them, it was their Part to obey: he represented to them, that the Extremities to which their Jealousy had formerly carried them, was without Doubt the Cause which had induced Mademoiselle de Montmartin to banish them from her Presence; and that it was that very Jealousy, the Effects of which she dreaded now, which had made them commit a Fault, that to repeat, would render them wholly in­excusable; and at the same Time that it de­prived them of the Esteem of their Mistress, would infallibly draw upon them the Anger of their Prince, who would not be again prevailed upon to pardon them. He added, that if they truly loved Mademoiselle de Mont­martin, they would leave her to the Freedom of making her Choice, and not expose her to the Hatred of the Public, by making her the Subject of new Quarrels and more Blood­shed: and lastly he conjured them to remem­ber their old Friendship, which they had so lately renewed with mutual Oaths, and not to resign themselves to the wild Rage of Jea­lousy, which had already produced such dread­ful Effects.

[Page 136]They both assured him, that although they could not renounce their Love for Mademoi­selle de Montmartin, yet they would obey her Orders whatever it cost them. The Cheva­lier then obliging them to promise that neither of them would take any Measures to produce an Alteration in the Mind of Mademoiselle de Montmartin, without acquainting each other, they parted with a full Resolution to keep their Word.

Accordingly for some Days, they religiously observed the Promise by which they had bound themselves. They were equally afraid of of­fending their Mistress, and of giving each other any Occasion of Disgust. They flat­tered themselves that in the variety of Amuse­ments which are to be found in Paris, they should meet with some Aleviation of their Grief. But the Dissipation in which they lived, could not banish the Idea of Mademoi­selle de Montmartin from their Thoughts; all Objects became disagreeable, but that which they were forbidden to behold, and which was nevertheless always present to their Imaginations.

Monsieur de Morigny, less politic or more impatient than the Marquis de Saint-Sauveur, was the first who resolved to get rid of this tormenting Restraint. He hired an Apart­ment opposite to the House where Mademoi­selle de Montmartin lived, believing it would be some Relief to him, to be in a Place where [Page 137] he might sometimes behold her at a Window, or see her get in and out of her Coach. He did not reflect upon the Consequences of this rash Step, and falsely imagined that there was nothing in it contrary to the Obedience he had vowed to pay to the Orders of his Mis­tress, nor to the Promise he had made to his Rival.

The Marquis de Saint-Sauveur, who had placed Spies upon Monsieur de Morigny which gave him an exact Information of his Con­duct, soon learned by one of them, that his Rival was never to be found in his own House, nor seen in any Place of public Diversion, but spent all his Hours in an Apartment opposite to the House of the Lady they both loved, which he had hired for the Conveniency of seeing her. The Marquis easily saw that Monsieur de Morigny had no Intention to for­get her, and thinking himself dispensed with, from keeping his Word with a Man who had first broke through his Engagements, he re­solved to derive some Advantages from this Breach of Faith in his Rival, and endeavour to prevail upon Mademoiselle de Montmartin to repeal his Banishment. Being informed the next Day, that Mademoiselle de Mont­martin was gone to the Thuilleries with ano­ther Lady, he ordered his Coach in an In­stant and drove thither, determined to com­plain to her of Monsieur de Morigny's ungene­rous Behaviour, and intreat her to do him Justice. He found it was the Countess of [Page 138] Berci his Sister who was with her: which gave him more Courage to approach her, after having paid his Compliments to her with great Respect, he intreated her not to con­demn him till she had heard him. He told her it was true that by coming into her Pre­sence, contrary to her express Prohibition, he appeared a Rebel to her Orders, but he had such Reasons to urge in his Excuse, as would, he hoped, justify him in her Opinion. He then informed her of what Monsieur de Morigny had done, he represented to her, that it was not just his Rival should every Hour enjoy the Pleasure of seeing her, while he languished in a cruel Banishment. He hinted, that if she did not admit the Justice of his Plea, he should have Room to suspect that Monsieur de Morigny was more favoured than himself; and perceiving that this Insinua­tion gave her some Emotion, he pursued it with such Art, and painted the Torments he endured, during the Absence she had con­demned him to, in Colours so lively, that Mademoiselle de Montmartin was moved, she looked upon Monsieur de Morigny's Behavi­our as an Instance of Disrespect to her, and as a Breach of Honour to his Friend. She thought herself affronted by his taking an Apartment so near her, and as one is easily persuaded of the Guilt of those whom one dis­likes, Monsieur de Morigny's Conduct, how­ever innocent in itself, to her prejudiced Mind appeared a Crime worthy of her ut­most Rigor. Nothing could have happened [Page 139] more agreable to her Inclinations, she loved the Marquis de Saint-Sauveur, and wanted a specious Pretence for recalling him. She had now found such an Occasion as she had wish­ed for, the absent Lover was treated as a presumptuous Man who had disobeyed her Or­ders, and was therefore condemned to per­petual Banishment, while the happy Marquis was listened to favourably, his Complaints acknowledged to be just, and the Means he pursued to procure Satisfaction lawful. It is not difficult to find Favour with a partial Judge. The Marquis de Saint-Sauveur soon gained his Cause before this Tribunal, at the Expence of the unfortunate de Morigny.

The Countess of Berci joined in her Bro­ther's Request, that he might be permitted to see her. Mademoiselle de Montmartin at last consented to receive his Visits, but with great Caution; she flattered herself that their Meet­ings might be carried on so privately, that Monsieur de Morigny, notwithstanding he was so near a Neighbour, might not be in­formed of them. It was agreed that the Marquis should never come to her House till it was Night, she was assured that his Passion was honourable, and having the Sanction of his Sister's Concurrence to these private In­terviews, they thought there was nothing to apprehend on the Score of Scandal.

Mademoiselle de Montmartin used to re­tire early to her Apartment, and when her [Page 140] Servants were in Bed, her Woman, who was well paid by the Marquis for her Secresy, al­ways introduced him into the House, where he generally staid an Hour or two with his Mistress. For some Time these happy Lovers continued undisturbed in the Possession of that Liberty, they had so long wished for, of seeing and declaring to each other their mutual Tenderness. But it is a difficult thing to deceive a jealous Man long: he is the Argos of the Fable, his hundred Eyes are continually open, and no Charms are able to close one of them for a Moment.

It happened that the Marquis, coming one Morning at three o'Clock out of the House of Mademoiselle de Montmartin, that young Lady, that she might have the Pleasure of seeing him a Moment longer, looked out of the Window after her Lover, who was then in the Street. The Moon shone bright, and the unhappy de Morigny, who was too much in Love to sleep soundly, hearing some little Noise in the Street, ran to his Window, and softly opening it, he had the Mortification to see his Rival taking Leave of his Mistress with Expressions which shewed he was in a Situa­tion very different from his, and to hear Ma­demoiselle de Montmartin answer him with great Tenderness. But as if this was not enough to torment the unfortunate Morigny, and that nothing should be wanting to com­pleat his Despair, the Marquis took it into his Head to intreat Mademoiselle de Mont­martin, [Page 141] to throw him some Trifle out of the Window, that he might have the Pleasure to have something in his Possession that Night which belonged to her.

Mademoiselle de Montmartin refused to grant this Request at first, and turned it into Ridicule, but the Marquis prest her so ear­nestly, that at last she tossed him a white Handkerchief she had in her Hand; however it was less in compliance with what she thought a silly Request, than her Desire to get him away, least by staying longer in the Street, some unlucky Chance might discover him to his Rival. The Marquis catched the Handkerchief she threw him, and kissing it, made a profound Bow to his Mistress, wish­ing her as happy as he should be that Night with such a Favour in his Possession, and then departed.

Monsieur de Morigny heard and saw all that past. Rage and Despair had almost deprived him of his Senses, he was several Times upon the Point to rush out upon his happy Rival, and sacrifice him to his just Revenge, before the Eyes of his Mistress, and by one last Combat decide the Fate of his Life and Love. But he was withheld, almost in Spite of himself, by his eager Desire to see and hear all; but when he saw the Marquis go away, he cursed his Imprudence and his Folly, for suffering him to escape without taking a severe Revenge upon him, for the Injury he [Page 142] had done him. He then comforted himself with the Thought of demanding Satisfaction of his false Friend the next Day, and threw himself upon his Bed, full of the hoped for Vengeance. But when this first Fury gave way to calmer Reflexions, he found that he was miserable, that he had nothing to hope for from Mademoiselle de Montmartin, and that the Marquis de Saint-Sauveur was be­loved. Grief now took the Place of Fury, and a Thirst of Vengeance. He could not think of losing Mademoiselle de Montmartin for ever, without Agonies not to be described: he gave way a while to these first Transports of Despair, and Death seemed to be his only Resource. But the Mind, amidst the most violent Pangs of Sorrow, naturally turns it­self towards any possibility of Relief: he began to reflect upon the extreme Indiffe­rence Mademoiselle de Montmartin had al­ways shewn him, he blamed himself for en­tertaining Hopes unjustly founded, and con­cluded that if he had not blinded himself by those intoxicating Expectations, his Passion would not have gained such Strength. He considered whether an Attempt to subdue it, might not still be successful, and if the De­spair to which he was reduced, might not, by a proper Exertion of his Reason, be pro­ductive of his Cure. The first Fruit of these Thoughts was a salutary Shame for his own Weakness, he blushed for having given way to Transports unworthy of a Man of Sense and Courage. The Marquis's Behaviour [Page 143] seemed now not quite so unjustifiable as he had at first conceived it to be, since he was capable of acknowledging to himself, that he had deserved such an Advantage should be taken of him, by breaking his Word to him solemnly given in Presence of the Chevalier des Essars, not to take any Measures to see Mademoiselle de Montmartin. Her Behaviour to the Marquis shewed that she had always loved him, and convinced him that his own Addresses had been always disagreeable to her, and that any farther Pursuit would not only be fruitless, but add to his Rival's Triumph, and his own Disgrace.

‘What signifies my Sighs, said he to him­self, they are despised, while my Rival's are heard with a tender Sympathy; and while I pass my Nights in Misery and Complaints, he is happy in the Sight and Conversation of his Mistress, who uses no Precaution in those Testimonies she gives him of her Love. Is it not more consistent with my Ho­nour, and my Quiet, to sacrifice a Passion so odious and despised, to Reason and to Friendship, than prosecute an unjust Re­venge, and solicit a hopeless Love? Can I expect to snatch her Heart by Violence? The Marquis and she are united by the most tender Ties; will my Rage, and my Complaints break them? Were it in my Power to render them miserable, should I be more happy? or rather, should I not be [Page 144] far more wretched, by the Consciousness of the Injury I did them?’

Monsieur de Morigny found Tranquility steal upon his Soul, as he pursued these Re­flexions; his Passion lost its Force, in Pro­portion as he exercised his Reason, and he resolved at length to renounce those Hopes, which had hitherto made up all his Happiness, and conquer that Passion which was always his Misfortune, and would now under such Convictions be his Crime.

A Change so sudden, although not frequent, is nevertheless not impossible, and would be oftener effected, if the still Voice of Reason be listened to: the base Subjection we live in to our own Desires, is the Effect of our Pusillanimity. We need only to fight to be acquainted with our Strength; if Love so often engages us with Success, it is because we find him Arms against ourselves, and he is strong only in our Weakness. Love is an Enemy whom it is no Disgrace to shun; against him Flight is Victory: his first Ap­proaches are always dangerous, Distance only can secure our Safety, and make our Triumph glorious.

Monsieur de Morigny was convinced of this Truth, he took Care not to expose himself again to the Danger of seeing Mademoiselle de Montmartin, he knew his own Weakness and her Power. He was persuaded that all [Page 145] the wise Resolutions he had taken would vanish in her Presence. He therefore returned to his own House, and avoided Company and public Places as much as possible, that he might have no Opportunity of seeing or bearing of that fatal Beauty, whom it was now his Business to forget. Monsieur de Morigny had always a pious Turn: Disappointments in worldly Affairs have often contributed greatly to­wards making a devout Christian; he applied himself to religious Books for Consolation in his Misfortunes. In this Study he found not only what he sought, Resignation and Peace, but they also inspired him with a Zeal suitable to his Years and Condition, an active Zeal which laid the Foundation of a Design, to which the brightest Actions of his Life were owing. He resolved to consecrate his future Days to the Service of Religion, by fighting against its most redoutable Enemy, who by his own Strength and the vast Extent of Do­minion which he had usurped, was still less dreadful to Christendom, than by the Dis­union and different Interests of Christian Princes. The barbarous Othoman infested at that Time the Seas by his Pirates, the most inhuman Outrages were every Day commit­ted by them with impunity, the Cities of Algiers and Tunis were filled with the un­happy Victims of their Cruelty and Rapine, who groaned in Chains and languished out their Lives in the utmost Misery.

[Page 146]Monsieur de Morigny felt a generous Com­passion for these unhappy Sufferers, he was desirous of associating himself with those brave and pious Knights, who bound themselves by solemn Vows to consecrate their Labours to the Service of Religion, and who swore upon the Altar an eternal Hatred to the Infidels, and to maintain a continual War against them. The Order of the Religious of Saint John of Jerusalem was then a Nursery fruit­ful in great Men, and valiant Warriors. An End so noble, and a Vocation so eminent, were conformable to the martial Inclinations of Monsieur de Morigny, his Zeal increased every Day, and he resolved not to defer any longer his Entrance into that Order, which was both a military and religious one. He prepared therefore for a speedy Departure for Malta, in order to take the Cross; and hav­ing settled his Affairs, he reserved only a small Pension for himself, destining all the rest of his Estate, which was very large, to the Re­demption of Christian Slaves, as the noblest Use he could make of his Riches.

When all was finished, he sent Invitations to his Friends, to require they would meet at his House: he then, in few Words, acquain­ted them with his Design, which he was ready to put into Execution immediately, and ad­dressing himself particularly to the Marquis de Saint-Sauveur,

[Page 147] ‘I render Thanks to Heaven, said he, for having conducted me safely to a happy Port, from whence I may contemplate se­curely the Shipwrecks of Love. May you, my dear Marquis, be happy with Made­moiselle de Montmartin, I no longer envy your good Fortune, you are more worthy of her than I am, I have now ceased to be your Rival, but shall always be your Friend.’

This Speech greatly moved the Marquis de Saint-Sauveur and the Chevalier des Essars, they made some Efforts to retain him in Paris, and to prevail upon him to quit a Resolution which they attributed to Despair, but he steadi­ly resisted all their Intreaties, and having ten­derly embraced them, he took Leave of them, and after a prosperous Voyage, arrived safely af Malta. He performed his Caravanes, for so they call the first Sea Expeditions of the new Knights of Malta, in which he gave to the new Order he had embraced, and to all Christendom, several glorious Testimonies of his Zeal and of his Valour against the com­mon Enemy.

Mademoiselle de Montmartin could not hear of his Departure without being moved, and gave some Tears to the Memory of a Man, who by her Rigour had been forced to em­brace a Life so dangerous and austere. No­thing now seemed to oppose the good Fortune of the Marquis de Saint-Sauveur, he had [Page 148] wholly resigned himself to the most flattering Hopes, when that young Lady, by a Conduct as capricious as it was cruel, forbid him all on a sudden to visit her.

The Marquis in the utmost Uneasiness and Surprise at such an unexpected Stroke, used every Argument that Love could suggest, to prevail upon her to revoke so unjust and cruel a Command, but all was in vain, he was forced to submit. And such was his Sub­mission to her Will, that although in his Heart he could not but condemn the fair Tyrant for her unreasonable Conduct, yet he did not complain nor make any Attempts to break a Chain which she was resolved to render so heavy.

Mean Time the Chevalier des Essars being perfectly recovered of his Wounds, made fre­quent Visits to the Count of Berci, still fancy­ing that the Sight of his lovely Mistress would alleviate his Pains, while in reality that Sight only strengthened his Disease: when Chance afforded him an Opportunity of speaking to her in private, the Violence of his Passion would sometimes force him to make Com­plaints of her Rigor, and his own Unhappi­ness; but these Complaints always drew up­on him severe Reproaches from the Countess, whose only Consolation it was, amidst the Uneasiness in which she was plunged, that she religiously adhered to the Duty she owed her Lord.

[Page 149] ‘Are you not, she would say, the most unjust Man in the World, when you ac­cuse me of Ingratitude and Cruelty? How can I listen to you without being cruel to myself, and without being ungrateful and base to a Husband who loves me with the tenderest Affection? Ah, Monsieur, you lose all the Glory of the great Benefits I have received from you, by expecting a Reward, which my Duty forbids me to give. If you have saved the Lives of my Father, my Husband, and my Brother, is it just that I should load them with Infamy, and dishonour myself, in Return for those Obligations? Do not imag [...]ne that all your Services can make me think myself autho­rised to grant you Favours, inconsistent with the Fidelity I owe my Lord. Alas! my own Conscience condemns me, for having heard the Declarations you have made me, but much more for being too sensible of your Misfortune in loving me. Hope not in Spite of this Confession of my Weakness to triumph over me: my Virtue and my Duty will always furnish me with Arms against you. Make then a generous Effort yourself, and restrain your Passion within such Bounds, that you may not for the fu­ture indulge a Wish, which may alarm my Virtue, and make me blush for my own Weakness, if not for my Guilt.’

The Chevalier could not help acknowledg­ing the Reasonableness of her Arguments, and [Page 150] these Conversations always ended by Repen­tance on his Side, and new Assurances of never offending her with such presumptuous Complaints for the future.

But he did not long enjoy the Happiness of seeing his Mistress, and declaring to her the Excess of his Passion: new Misfortunes tore him soon after from the Presence of her who was so dear to him, and then it was that a fatal Experience shewed him that a hopeless Absence was a Torment greater than any he had yet felt.

In effect whatever Precautions his Friends used to prevent his entertaining any Suspici­ons of the Person who had attempted to get him assassinated, he was at length brought to his Knowledge, and at a Time when he had lost all Remembrance of the Injury as well as the Desire of Revenge.

One of those busy Sycophants, who swarm in Courts, meeting the Chevalier one Day, told him with great Appearance of Friend­ship, and Regard for his Honour, that the Public were astonished at the Patience with which he bore the Injury offered him by the Count of Polan, for so I shall call the King's Favorite, who was indeed the real Author of that detestable Attempt to assassinate the Che­valier des Essars. He added, that although he was convinced it was owing to his Gene­rosity and Greatness of Soul, that he did not [Page 151] take a Revenge suitable to the Wrong that had been done him, yet that the Court judged otherwise, and attributed the extreme Indif­ference he shewed in an Affair which so near­ly concerned his Honour, to his Fear of of­fending the King, whose Fondness for the Count was well known: but that no Consi­deration whatever ought to oblige him to pass over quietly such a glaring Injury, and that it was necessary he should take some Resolution immediately to silence Reports so injurious to his Reputation.

The Chevalier des Essars, who at first could not comprehend what the Man meant by talking to him of the Count of Polan, and the Revenge it was expected he should take of him, made him repeat what he had said. The busy Courtier then gave him a long Account of all what had passed: He exaggerated many Circumstances, and added many more; and finally assured him, that it was the Count of Polan who had em­ployed Assassins to murder him, in Revenge for having defeated him in the Tourna­ment.

The Chevalier had Wisdom and Discre­tion, he was not willing to be precipitated into an Affair of such Consequence, and was resolved, before he proceeded any far­ther, to examine into it more carefully. He went immediately to the House of Monsieur de Berci, and, taking him aside, reproached [Page 152] him for his Secresy and Reserve, which had had Consequences that could not but be prejudicial to his Character; he then recount­ed to him all that he had just heard, and conjured him earnestly to tell him all he knew, without Disguise, or Palliation.

The Count of Berci was thrown into great Perplexity by this Demand, he endeavoured to remove his Suspicions of the Count of Po­lan, but he could not deny that the Public had the same. The Chevalier, persuaded that they were but too well founded, both by the Flight of the Count of Polan's Kinsman, with whom he never had any Quarrel, and like­wise by the Favourite's cool Behaviour to­wards him, which argued a secret Disgust, resolved to be revenged; but in the mean Time he carefully concealed his Intentions, and seeming to be quite convinced that the Informations he had received, were false, the Count of Berci thought the Affair entirely over, and did not apprehend any fatal Conse­quence from his Resentment. But he was mistaken; the Chevalier, under the Appear­ance of great Composure, breathed nothing but Fury and Revenge. Nevertheless, the Resolution he had taken to challenge the Count of Polan, occasioned some disagree­able Reflexions. Whatever Way it was ter­minated, he was sure to lose the Sight of his beloved Countess, and draw upon himself the Anger of his King, who would consider him as doubly criminal, by transgressing the Law [Page 153] against Duelling, for which he had once been pardoned, and by outraging him in the Per­son of a Man whom he greatly esteemed; but the Chevalier, eager for Revenge, could nei­ther be influenced by the Voice of Love or Ambition. As soon as he returned home, he wrote the following Billet to the Count of Polan, charging his Gentleman, whom he sent with it, to deliver it into the Count's own Hand.

'The Chevalier DES ESSARS to the Count 'of POLAN.

‘If the King, influenced by his great Af­fection for you, and his own Generosity, has been prevailed upon to acquit you in his own Thoughts of the base Attempt which was lately made upon my Life; yet my just Suspicions, and those of the Public, are not yet effaced. The Flight of your Kinsman is a sufficient Proof that he acted by your Orders, and leaves me no other Part to take but to address myself to you to demand Satisfaction for the Injury I have received from your Emissaries. The Per­son who brings you this, will tell you the Place where you are expected alone by’

'the Chevalier DES ESSARS.'

The Count of Polan was still in Bed when the Chevalier's Gentleman desired Admit­tance to him: he was told that the Count was not up, but he intreated that he might [Page 154] be waked immediately, because he had an Affair to communicate to him of the utmost Consequence. The Count's Servant, being thus pressed, informed his Master immediate­ly, who ordered the Gentleman to be admit­ted, and receiving the Billet he brought, read it in his Bed, without betraying the least Emo­tion; then desiring the Chevalier's Gentle­man to wait a Moment, he took a Pen, and wrote this Answer:

'The Count of POLAN to the Chevalier 'DES ESSARS.

‘You prevent me in the Demand you have made; and, without entering here in­to any Explanation concerning the Injury you complain of, know that I only waited for the Re-establishment of your Health, to prove if you are as fortunate with the Sword, as you have been with the Lance. Be in the appointed Place at the Hour you mention, and depend upon seeing imme­diately, with an Ardor equal to your own,’

'the Count of POLAN.'

The Chevalier's Gentleman having deli­vered this Answer to his Master, who felt a new Accession to his Fury, he mounted his Horse, and, attended only by his Gentle­man, rode instantly to the Back of le Bois de Boulogne, where he had soon the Satisfaction to see his Adversary arrive, followed only by [Page 155] his Gentleman likewise. They both dismount­ed immediately, the two Gentlemen received their Horses, and were Spectators of a long and obstinate Combat. The Count and the Chevalier stript themselves to their Shirts, as was the Custom at that Time, and with a gloomy Silence, and Eyes sparkling with Fury, rushed upon each other; for above a Quarter of an Hour they fought with equal Ardor, and equal Success. The Chevalier des Essars, by so long a Resistance, found that he had to do with one of the most valiant Men in the World; he had never before met with an Enemy worthy of his Courage and Strength. Fortune, always favourable to him, would not abandon him on an Occasion so pressing, the Count stumbling over a Stone that lay in his Way, was put into some Disorder, the Chevalier closing with him, instantly gave him a mortal Wound, he fell to the Earth, and a few Moments afterwards, expired in the Arms of his Gentleman.

The Chevalier des Essars mounted his Horse the Moment he saw his Antagonist fall, and rode to Paris with the utmost Haste, that he might get there before the Count's Death could be known. He alighted at his own House, and after he had taken what Money he thought he should have Occasion for, he went immediately to that of the Count of Berci; he related to him in brief what had happened, and his Design of retiring imme­diately into Flanders. The Count of Berci [Page 156] opposed this Scheme, and advised him to go immediately to an Estate which he had in the Heart of Anjou, where it was not probable he would be searched for, he assured him he might remain there in Security, till the King, informed of the Justice of his Cause, and the Reasonableness of his Resentment, might be prevailed on to grant him a Pardon. The Chevalier approving of this Expedient, the Count wrote a Letter to the Steward of his Castle, in which he commanded him to ac­commodate the Chevalier in the best manner he could, and charged him, upon Pain of losing his Place, not to discover to any one that he was concealed there.

The Chevalier embraced his dear Count with the utmost Tenderness, and thanked him for his friendly Solicitude for his Safety; he left in his Hands a Copy of his Letter to the Count of Polan, with that unhappy No­bleman's Answer to it, that they might, if necessary, be shewn to the King. He then re­commended to him the Care of his private Affairs in Paris, and took Leave of him with another ardent Embrace. The Countess ad­vancing to bid him Farewel, he could only by his Eyes, and a heart breaking Sigh, as he kissed her Hand, express the Grief he felt at being thus torn from her. Madam de Berci saw his Emotion, and after she had, with a faltering Voice, wished him Health and Safe­ty, she retired to her Chamber, to give free vent to her Tears.

[Page 157]Mean time the Count of Polan's Gentle­man, having dispatched a Man, who acci­dentally passed by, to Paris for a Coach, he placed the Body of his Lord in it, and carried him thither. The whole Court was soon in­formed of the Count's Death, but very few Persons were concerned for it, as it was not doubted but he was the Contriver of the Chevalier des Essar's designed Assassination; on the contrary, the brave Revenge which the Chevalier had taken, was highly approved, and the more, as he was entitled by the Count's Baseness towards him, to have at­tempted his Life, without endangering his own. But the King, who had loved the Count with great Tenderness, and who had never entertained the slightest Suspicion of his Guilt, was excessively enraged against the Chevalier des Essars; he ordered the most di­ligent Search to be made for him, and protest­ed his Life should pay the Forfeit due to his violated Laws.

The Countess of Berci was greatly afflicted at this Inflexibility of the King's, she fore­saw that the unhappy Chevalier would be obliged to undergo a long and perhaps perpe­tual Banishment from his native Country, her Compassion for the sad Fate of a Man who so well deserved to be happy, augmented her Tenderness, and her Mind, as if it had a Foreboding of her approaching Misfortunes, fell insensibly into a Melancholy that made all Company and Diversions irksome to her. [Page 158] Mademoiselle de Montmartin was the only Person she saw with Pleasure, their Friend­ship continued always tender and sincere, notwithstanding the Countess would some­times reproach her with her Rigour to the Marquis de Saint-Sauveur, her Brother, at a Time when nothing seemed to oppose his Happiness.

Mademoiselle de Montmartin, in Excuse for herself, alledged, that the Noise Mon­sieur Morigny's Resolution had made, gave Occasion for very free Discourses upon her Conduct, and had determined her to act in the manner she had done by the Marquis; she added, that if her Brother truly loved her, he would not be discouraged by a Reserve which was but in Appearance cruel, and which, in her Situation, was absolutely necessary; that the Marquis could not but be sensible of her Regard for him, and that his Perseverance would convince her of the Sincerity and Ar­dor of his Passion.

The Countess was forced to yield to these specious Reasons; she repeated to her Brother what Mademoiselle de Montmartin had said, and consoled him under the Prohibition she had laid upon him, by Assurances that it would not be long before she made him hap­py. These two lovely Friends lived from that Time in the most perfect Union. Al­though the Countess and she did not mix with the great World, their manner of [Page 159] Life had not fewer Charms for them. Read­ing, Walking, and sometimes the Theatre, agreeably varied their Amusements, and in these they found more true Pleasure, than in brilliant and numerous Circles, of which they were formed to be very distinguishing Orna­ments. The Count of Berci always made one in their Parties, the Tenderness which the Countess his Wife felt for the Chevalier des Essars, having nothing criminal in it, it did not lessen the Affection she had for the Count; the Presence of a Husband deserved­ly beloved, always gave her Delight, because she had no Cause to blush for her own Con­duct with respect to him: but this Calm in the Countess's Fortunes did not last long, she was destined to prove still greater Mise­ries than that of hopeless Love.

Her Unhappiness was first begun by the irregular Conduct of Marianne, her favourite Woman, who shared all the Secrets of her Heart, and who, as has been related before, introduced the Chevalier des Essars into her Apartment at Beauplan. This Girl was far from imitating the virtuous Examples set her by her Lady: she conceived a violent Passion for a young Gentleman, named Verague, who was intimately acquainted with Monsieur de Berci, the Count's Brother. The Countess, although not naturally suspicious, yet soon discovered this misplaced Love, which could not but be productive of Dishonour to her Woman, if not timely suppressed: but she [Page 160] saw with Pain, that Marianne was so far from endeavouring to conquer her Inclina­tions in Favour of Monsieur Verague, that she gave full Scope to them, and was not even at the Pains to conceal them from her.

The Advances this indiscrete Girl made to Verague, soon attracted his Notice. She was young and handsome: he pursued his Con­quest, and a regular Intrigue commenced be­tween them; the Countess often surprised them together at very undue Hours. She expostulated with her Woman upon the Danger to which she exposed her Virtue, by permitting the Addresses of one too much her superior, to give her Hopes of being his Wife. Marianne was so far from profiting by the prudent Remonstrances of her Lady, that her Passion seemed to gather Strength from the Obstacles which opposed it. She was no longer solicitous to conceal her Commerce with Verague, from her Lady; she threw aside all Caution, and admitted him into her Cham­ber, at all Hours, without the least Re­serve.

The Countess was in great Affliction at this scandalous Behaviour: she contented her­self at first with reproving her for it in her usual gentle manner, but she did not dare to exert the Authority of a Mistress, that has nothing to apprehend from a Servant's Re­sentment; she had unfortunately confided to [Page 161] this Girl her Affection for the Chevalier des Essars, and however irreproachable her Con­duct with respect to him might be, yet she was apprehensive that if she drove her to Ex­tremity, she might prejudice her Brother-in-law against her, whose Suspicions would soon infect her Lord likewise. The Countess's Case was not absolutely singular, and it ought to warn the gentle Sex to be cautious how they make Confidents of their Domestics; and to make those who are unhappy enough to have Intrigues, tremble at the Danger to which they expose themselves by accepting of their Assistance.

Marianne, insolent upon her being the De­pository of her Lady's Secret, and fancying herself in full Security, soon threw off the Masque entirely. Reserve and Constraint suited not with that Taste of Libertinism which she had imbibed, and she carried her Immodesty to such Excess, that Ve­rague was almost every Night brought in­to her Chamber, when her Lady was re­tired into her Apartment, and they seldom parted till the next Morning. The Coun­tess lost all Patience at such infamous Be­haviour, her whole Soul was filled with a just Indignation, and left no room for pru­dential Considerations; she became all on a sudden intrepid to the last Degree, and was resolved, at the Hazard of whatever might happen, to turn the vile Marianne [Page 162] out of her Family, and gave her but three Days to procure another Establishment.

But this Girl, full of Grief for being dis­missed on an Occasion so shameful for her, for she did not doubt but her Lady would disclose her Reasons for acting in the man­ner she did, by her; and still more afflicted that she should be deprived of the Oppor­tunities she had hitherto enjoyed of seeing her Lover, used her utmost Endeavours to prevent her being obliged to leave her Ser­vice; but finding her Lady firmly resolved to dismiss her, she instantly conceived the blackest and most detestable Project that a wicked Woman could be capable of. This was, to prevent the Effects of the Coun­tess's Indignation, and accuse her of Un­chastity and Disloyalty to her Lord.

When her Imagination had presented her with this diabolical Scheme, she endeavour­ed to strengthen herself in her Resolution to ruin her Lady, and to stifle all Remorse. And having settled her Plan, she threw herself in young Berci's Way, and earnest­ly entreated him to give her a few Mo­ments Audience in his own Apartment.

Monsieur de Berci, surprised at her Re­quest, but more at the seeming Emotion with which it was made, desired her to at­tend him immediately. As soon as they had entered his Chamber, Marianne burst into [Page 163] Tears: he eagerly asked her the Cause of her Affliction. She first answered only by Sighs, and a feigned Confusion, which sti­mulated his Curiosity, and made him re­peatedly urge his Request. — At length, with interrupting Sobs, she told him, that her Lady had, with the utmost Cruelty and Injustice, dismissed her from her Ser­vice.

Monsieur de Berci finding this was all, replied calmly that his Sister-in-law would not have acted thus without some Cause, that if she would confess her Fault inge­nuously, he would engage to make her Peace with her Lady. Marianne smiled scornfully at that Promise, and, shaking her Head, gave him to understand that the Thing was impossible. Monsieur de Berci, a little alarmed, and anxious to know more, gave her his Word, that if she would dis­close the Reasons which had induced her Lady to dismiss her, he would not only keep her Secret faithfully, but use his ut­most Endeavours to serve her.

The perfidious and wicked Marianne, having already settled in her Thoughts what she should say, began in this Manner:

‘I am extremely concerned, Monsieur, at the Necessity I am under to unfold a Mys­tery to you, which will equally surprize and grieve you; but I am still more afflict­ed [Page 164] at the Part I have unwillingly acted in it. I conjure you to believe, that if I break the Silence I have so long held, it is only to prove my Penitence and my Submission, and in full Reliance upon the Promise you have given me, that the Secret shall never escape you. I have been long tortured with the Stings of my own Conscience for the Treachery I have been forced to be guilty of to my Lord, by serving his Lady in a criminal Passion, which you are not wholly unacquainted with yourself: but it is Time that I should re­store Peace and Tranquility to my Mind, so long distracted with Remorse, and which my Lady, by her imprudent Rage against me, has made it necessary I should discover to clear, my own Innocence.’

‘Know then, Monsieur, pursued this Monster, that the same Day which made my Lady acquainted with the Passion of the Chevalier des Essars for her, whose Complaints in the Forest of Beauplan you heard as well as she, gave Rise to a flame in her heart for him; the Alarm some Nights afterwards in the Castle supposed to be oc­casioned by an attempt of some Thieves to ro [...] it, was wholly owing to my Lady's Imprudence, in admitting the Chevalier pri­vately into her Apartment: unhappy that I am in the Recollection, it was I who in­troduced him, but I durst not withstand her peremptory Orders . . . I did all that a Ser­vant [Page 165] could do in such a Case, I represent­ed to her respectfully the Dangers to which she exposed herself, and she had soon Reason to be convinced that I had not exaggerated them. The Count your Bro­ther coming unexpectedly into my Lady's Chamber, the Chevalier was obliged to con­ceal himself behind the Tapistry, and it was wonderful that he was not seen for he had scarce a Moment to effect his Escape: but a still greater danger followed, for when he left my Lady, she ordered me to conduct him down Stairs without any other Light than that of the Moon, which shone in through the Windows, lest a Taper might alarm some of the Servants: the Che­valier as he descended the Stairs made a false Step, he fell down and his Pistol went off, the Report of which put the whole House into Confusion and Dismay. From that Time the Countess and the Chevalier have carried on a strict Cor­respondence. You may now, Monsieur, added she, account for that violent Grief my Lady discovered some Time ago, when the Sight of her Lover, pale, bloody and in Appearance dead, took from her the Power of dissembling. You may now know the Cause of that Melancholy in which she is continually plunged, since the Cheva­lier's Duel with the Count of Polan, which has forced him to absent himself from her, and you know likewise the Cause of my Dismission from her service. I am be­come [Page 166] a troublesome and importunate In­mate, whose Presence she can no longer support, because, taking Advantage of the Chevalier's Absence, I endeavour to bring her back to her Duty, and because I am tor­tured with Remorse for the Part I have had in her Infidelity to my Lord.’

The Wretch ended her Speech with ano­ther Shower of Tears, and with dreadful Inprecations on herself, if what she had related was not strictly true.

Monsieur de Berci, although he had a high Opinion of his Sister-in-law's Virtue, yet could not help being staggered at this Re­lation: he knew for a Certainty, that the Chevalier des Essars was in Love with her, his own Ears had heard him declare it in the Forest of Beauplan, and more than once his Eyes, in observing those of the Cheva­lier and Madame de Berci, discovered that his Sister-in-law was not insensible; yet he could not imagine her capable of a Crime so hor­rid, as to dishonour his Brother in the Man­ner the vile Marianne accused her of; after giving a few Moments to his reflexions on what he had heard, he took a resolution full of Prudence and Generosity. As he would not condemn his Sister-in-law upon the Re­ports of her Servant, so neither could he hold her absolutely innocent in his own Opinion, since there were some Circumstances in her Conduct that bore a doubtful Appearance. [Page 167] He thought it just to wait till he had more Certainty of her Guilt, before he made her Infamy publick, and supposing that if the Lovers were realy guilty, it would not be impossible for him by the Assistance of Mari­anne to surprize them together, as soon as the Chevalier was again permitted to return to Paris, he determined to engage this Girl in his Interest. But if it happened that the Chevalier should be unable to procure his Pardon, and remain in perpetual Banishment, he judged it best to bury all he had heard in Oblivion, since the honour of his Brother would be preserved by the Chevalier's Ab­sence, and having then nothing to fear from his Sister-in-law's indiscreet Passion, there would be no Necessity to wound the Peace of the Count, and introduce Disorder and In­famy into his Family.

He therefore strictly charged Marianne not to impart to any other Person in the World what she had said to him: he pro­mised to restore her to her Lady's Favour upon Condition that she would give him a faithful Account of her whole Conduct, par­ticularly in every Thing that related to the Chevalier des Essars. Marianne joyfully swore to obey him, and he instantly went to the Apartment of the Countess to perform his promise: he praised the affection and fide­lity of that wicked Girl, he exaggerated her Grief for being obliged to quit her Service, and begged the Countess to take compassion [Page 168] on her, and if her fault was not very great to admit her to her usual attendance upon her Person.

Madam de Berci was softened at this Ac­count of her Woman's Contrition. She was not sorry that she had a lawful Excuse for taking her again; for she had been under dreadful Apprehensions of her Malice: she sent for her into her Apartment, and be­fore her Brother, told her, that through his Interposition, she had consented to receive her again but as soon as Monsieur de Berci; withdrew, she told her, with a very severe Air, that she expected to see a thorough Reformation in her Conduct, and that it was upon that Condition alone she restored her to her former Place. The dissembling Marianne, with tears in her eyes, thanked her Lady for her Goodness, and promised Amendment, but in her Heart she deeply vowed to make her pay dear for the Mortifications she had suffered.

The Countess of Berci was scarce relieved from the Anxiety this Affair had given her, when she was assaulted by new Disquiets. The Count her Husband had a Kinsman, who having formerly given some Disgust to the Court, had been banished from France: af­ter he had spent some Years in travelling over all Europe, he resolved to settle in Venice for the Remainder of his Life. This City, which is one of the most celebrated in all Italy, had peculiar Charms for him on Ac­count [Page 169] of the Freedom that reigned there. His Quality and Merit soon procured him the Res­pect and Esteem of the Nobility of that powerful Republic, who, tho' naturally haughty and not easy of access to Foreigners, yet were solici­tous to make his Residence amongst them pleasing to him. He lived there thirty Years, and dying suddenly in a very advanced Age, the Count of Berci, who was his nearest Relation, succeeded to all his vast Riches, and as soon as he was informed of his Death, prepared for a Journey to Venice to take Pos­session of them.

The young Marquis de Saint-Sauveur hav­ing a Desire to visit Italy again, where he had formerly spent some Months with his Friend Monsieur de Morigny, intreated the Count's Leave to accompany him in this Voyage. Mademoiselle de Montmartin had not yet taken off her Interdiction, and he was willing to try if a greater Distance from what he loved, would not weaken his continual Regret, at being deprived of her Presence. Besides he was not without Hope, that an Absence which no longer depended upon her Will to revoke, would give his capricious Mistress herself some little Anxiety.

The Count readily agreed to the Marquis's Proposal, and thanked him for offering so frankly what he would have solicited, had he not thought it too great a Favour. They set out immediately for their Voyage to Venice, [Page 170] where they arrived happily the Beginning of Spring. They staid there a Month, during which Time the Count settled all his Affairs; and having a fine Season before them, they determined to visit Rome, and some other of the celebrated Cities in Italy. In their Return they passed by Leghorn, where they found a Felucca, which was only waiting for a fa­vourable Wind to set Sail for Marseilles. The Count and the Marquis eager to see again the dear Objects of their Affection, resolved to embark in this Felucca, as being the most expeditious Way of returning; besides the great Heat of the Weather made travelling by Land very disagreeable; but they had no sooner reached the Coast of Genoa, when they had Reason to repent of their Design: they were encountered by a Corsair of Algiers, whom they found it impossible to escape from.

The two French Lords, although as brave as Men could be, yet plainly saw that any Resistance they could make, would not pre­serve their Liberty, but would inevitably ex­pose them to Death, and perhaps to the most cruel Tortures; the Algerine was manned with a great Number of valiant and desperate Turks, who presented themselves to the At­tack, while they had very few Sailors and only some Passengers aboard, who were de­stitute of all manner of Defence; with such Inequality it would have been Madness to fight: it was resolved therefore that they [Page 171] should use their utmost Endeavours to escape, and if they proved unsuccessful, to surrender peaceably, that they might not, to no Pur­pose, irritate those who were likely to be their Masters.

The Turks, however, having grappled their small Vessel, boarded it with their Cymetars in their Hands; they stript the Passengers and the Crew to their Shirts, and tying them all to the Oar, set Sail for Africa. As they were pursuing their Voyage, full of an insolent and barbarous Joy for the Prize they had taken, their Vessel was driven by a Storm into the Gulf of Barcelona, where it was attacked by a Maltese Galley, commanded by a Spanish Knight of the Order. The miserable Captives on board the Algerine, beholding this unhoped-for Assistance, offered up the most ardent Prayers to Heaven for the Success of their Friends. Their Joy and their Hopes were but short-lived; the Wind, which at first was fa­vourable for the Maltese Galley, changed sud­denly, as it was attempting to grapple that of Algiers; and the Corsair doubting his Strength, endeavoured to escape by the Force of row­ing, which he effected.

What a dreadful Reverse of Fortune was this for the two French Lords, and the rest of the unhappy Captives? But the Surprise, the Grief, which seized one of those brave Knights in the Maltese Galley, when he be­held the two noble Slaves, are not to be de­scribed. [Page 172] The Chevalier de Morigny, for it was he himself, could scarce believe the Evi­dence of his own Eyes, when they distin­guished the Count of Berci, and the Marquis de Saint Sauveur, chained, like a great Num­ber of other Wretches, to the Oar. But these illustrious Captives, stretching out their Arms loaden with Fetters, and calling him by his Name, convinced him he was not mistaken. They had not Time to conjure him to save them from the Cruelties of their Enemies: for at that Instant, the Wind seconding the Efforts of the Rowers to escape, the Algerine Vessel was at once carried away from his Eyes, and his Vengeance.

Monsieur de Morigny was inconsolable at this sad Sight. Notwithstanding all his Virtue, and his Resignation to Providence, he suf­fered, with some Kind of Impatience and Re­pining, the Effects of an Event so favourable to those Barbarians, which deprived him of an Opportunity of succouring two Friends whom he loved with the tenderest Affec­tion. The more he reflected on this strange Adventure, the less he was able to compre­hend how the Count of Berci and his Brother-in-law should happen to be on Seas so distant from their native Country, and chained to an Oar in an Algerine Vessel. The more he re­flected upon this amazing Accident, the more his Mind was perplexed. The only Thing that now remained for him to do, was to send Notice to France of the Captivity of his noble [Page 173] Friends: he wrote to the Countess of Berci, and gave her an affecting Relation of the sad Spectacle his Eyes had seen and wept, her noble Husband and her Brother mingled with Slaves, and labouring at an Oar; he assured her, that he would himself have made a Voyage to Africa, to procure their Deliver­ance, but that his Duty obliged him to cruize the Remainder of the Summer upon the Seas: he recommended it to her to send instantly some Person, whose Prudence and Fidelity she could rely upon, to Africa, to treat with the Infidels for the Ransom of her Lord and her Brother.

The Countess was seized with Horror and Dismay at the Contents of this Letter: she fell fainting into the Arms of her Woman, upon reading the first Lines, which acquaint­ed her with the miserable Condition of two Persons so dear to her; and when she reco­vered, it was only to a painful Sense of ago­nising Sorrow: but her Grief, violent as it was, did not prevent her from contriving instant Means for their Rescue. Her Lord's Brother was the Person on whom she cast her Eyes to manage their Redemption. Monsieur de Berci met her Request with a Zeal that shewed the Greatness of his Af­fection for his Brother; no Dangers could hinder him from undertaking the Voyage to serve him; he pressed for a speedy Depar­ture, and the Countess, without waiting for an Application to her Father, gave her Brother-in-law [Page 174] all the ready Money she had, and her richest Jewels, to make up the Sum for the Ransom of her Husband and her Brother. Monsieur de Berci being thus furnished with every thing that was necessary, took Leave of the afflicted Countess, and set out for Marseilles, in order to embark there for Africa.

The Captivity of these two illustrious Frenchmen made a great Noise at the Court of France. A Friend of the Chevalier des Essars, to whom he had confided the Place of his Retreat, sent him this News into An­jou, almost as soon as it was known at Court. The Chevalier, after giving some Tears to the Misfortunes of his Friends, felt a secret Satisfaction in his Mind, at the Thoughts of being able to give the Countess of Berci a new Instance of the Purity and Disinterested­ness of his Passion: he determined to make a Voyage instantly to Africa, and to expose his Life, his Fortunes, and perhaps his Liber­ty, to free the Count of Berci and the Mar­quis de Saint-Sauveur from the Slavery they groaned under.

A Lover of equal Delicacy can only feel the Force of this Action, and nothing less than a Hero can be capable of approving a Design which so many almost invincible Ob­stacles seemed to oppose; but true Love thinks every thing easy to be done, when the Interest of the beloved Object is in Question. [Page 175] The Chevalier des Essars listened to nothing but the Dictates of his Passion, and his Cou­rage; already he tasted the transporting De­light of doing his Mistress a considerable Ser­vice, and of giving her a new Proof of his Tenderness. He set out immediately for Pa­ris in a Disguise, and securely reached the House of an intimate Friend, where he staid a few Days, to provide himself with Money necessary for his Voyage, and the Redemption of the two noble Captives. As soon as every thing was prepared for his Departure, he wrote a Letter to the Countess, informing her of the Occasion of his Arrival at Paris, and the Resolution he had taken to set out imme­diately for Marseilles: he intreated his Friend not to send this Letter to the Countess, till two Hours after his Departure from Paris. He thought it necessary to use this Precau­tion, lest she should imagine, that he wanted to pay his purposed Service by the Pleasure of seeing her, or to draw from her some Marks of Acknowledgment; and full of the pleasing Hope of soon restoring to her two Persons who were so deservedly dear to her, he left Paris, and took the Road to Provence, at­tended by the same Gentleman whom he had taken with him to Anjou.

The Countess of Berci, although she had been accustomed to receive very extraordina­ry Proofs of Love from the Chevalier, yet was extremely surprised at this last: she ad­mired the Generosity and unbounded Courage [Page 176] of this faithful Lover, who seemed born to render her new Services. Her Gratitude so strongly engaged her Heart for the first time, that it delivered itself up to a Tenderness she had hitherto suppressed. A Service of such Importance to be so eagerly undertaken, without being requested, to make a Voyage to a barbarous Region, from whence he might possibly never return, with a Cou­rage so heroic; such perfect Disinterested­ness, to expect no other Reward than what he found in the Pleasure of serving her; and the great Delicacy he had shewn in renouncing even the Satisfaction of seeing her before his Departure; in a Word, such striking Instances of the most pure and con­stant Passion that ever Man was capable of, excited, during some Moments, Sentiments more soft than Friendship, and Acknow­ledgments more tender than Gratitude; a while she indulged the sweetly painful Emo­tions; but her Duty and her Honour, those lawful Tyrants of her Soul, soon united their Forces to deliver her from the Assaults of Love.

‘Oh, Prudence too rigid! Oh Virtue too severe, cried she, bursting into Tears, suffer me to have some Respite: you have no­thing till this Day to reproach me with, I will inviolably observe your Dictates to the last Moment of my Life. But alas, how cruel is my Destiny! what Torments must a tender and grateful Heart expe­rience, [Page 177] who can no other ways requite such Benefits, but by new Severities.’

The Countess was resigning herself to these melancholly Reflexions, when Mademoiselle de Montmartin came into her Chamber: their Friendship and Intimacy had long ago ba­nished all Reserve; and entering without send­ing Notice of her Arrival, she found Madam de Berci bathed in Tears, and so lost in Grief, that she did not perceive her. Mademoiselle de Montmartin ran to her afflicted Friend, and with a tender Anxiety begged to know if any new Misfortune had happened to her: the Countess raising her Head and looking on her with Eyes which, tho' swimming in Tears, expressed a kind Compassion for her who was but too much concerned in the News she had to tell her. At the Mention of her Lover's Captivity, Mademoiselle de Montmartin threw herself upon a Sopha, with a Sigh that seemed to rend her Heart in Pieces: a deadly Pale­ness overspread her face, she lifted up her fine Eyes in speechless Agony to Heaven; a while she abandoned herself to the Bitterness of her Reflexions, then turning to the Countess who was sat weeping by her,

‘Ah! Madam, said she, it is for me to weep, who by the foolish extravagance of my Conduct, have lost, perhaps for ever, the most faithful Lover in the World; you have only Fortune to complain of, I have Fortune and Myself: if your Lord groans [Page 178] in Fetters, you have the Consolation of knowing that you are not the Author of his Miseries: but it is my Injustice that has thrown my Lover into a horrid Dungeon, my Cruelty has reduced him to Slavery, but for my Caprice and Folly this dear Brother had now been with you, comforting you under your Misfortunes and endea­vouring to redress them, without feeling any other himself but what arose from his sympathising Tenderness. Alas, my dear Countess, added she embracing her ten­derly, ought I to hope that you will pardon my Injustice to your Brother; and then my dear and injured Lover, pursued she bursting again into Tears, canst thou forget my injurious Treatment of thee; ah, if Fate ever restores thee to me, will my Tenderness and Fidelity repay thee for all the Torments thou hast suffered through me?’

The Countess of Berci was greatly moved at the Affliction of Mademoiselle de Mont­martin, her Heart softened by her own Woes, made her more sensible of those of another. These tender and afflicted Friends past all their Time together, the compassion they mutually afforded each other soothed their Griefs, but the Countess had some which she was obliged to smother in her own breast. Mademoiselle de Montmartin was far less to be pitied, she might, without Guilt or Res­traint, resign herself up to the Tenderness of [Page 179] a lawful Passion, and had no Vows to make, but for the Deliverance of her Lover, but the Countess besides her Grief for the Captivity of a Husband and a Brother, whom she loved, trembled for the Life of a Hero who was dear to her, yet whom her Duty forbid her to love.

The Ladies in their calmer Moments often talked of the Generosity of the Chevalier des Essars, and when their Minds were not weakened by dreadful Apprehensions con­cerning the Destiny of Friends so deservedly dear to them, they hoped for every Thing favourable from his Zeal, his Courage, and his good Fortune.

Mean Time Monsieur de Berci arrived at Marseilles, and embarked immediately in a Vessel that was ready to sail for Africa, but they suffered a great deal by Storms, and wandered for more than a Month upon the Spanish Coasts. The Chevalier des Essars was more fortunate; he found at Marseilles two Religious of the Order for the Re­demption of Captives, who were waiting only for a favourable Wind to set sail for Oran, a fortified Town, situated in the Kingdom of Algiers they were to land first at this Capital, and afterwards to proceed to Tunis, to free a great Number of Slaves, ac­cording to the Engagements of their pious Institution. The Chevalier was rejoiced at an opportunity of joining Persons, who by [Page 180] the frequent Voyages they had made, with a Zeal so holy, into those barbarous Countries, were received and treated with Respect by the Infidels themselves; he flattered himself that with the assistance of their charitable Diligence, they would easily discover the Place where his two Friends were confined, and might more successfully treat for their Ransom.

He was not deceived in these agreeable Expectations, the two Religious promised him their utmost Assistance, and the Wind be­coming fair, they embarked and set sail for Africa. They had a favourable Voyage, and after some slight Storms, that were fol­lowed by no dangerous Accidents, they landed safe at Oran, where they proposed to rest a few Days before, they executed their Com­mission, but the Chevalier des Essars, whose Impatience to see his Friends at Liberty would not suffer him to consult his own Health, set out instantly for Algiers, tra­velling the Rest of the Way by Land. As he spoke the Spanish Tongue perfectly well, he easily past for a Merchant of that Nation who traded in Jewels. He avoided with great Care every thing that might give the In­fidels the least Suspicion of his Quality, or the Occasion of his Voyage. But let us now re­turn to those illustrious Victims of their Bar­barity.

[Page 181]When the Count of Berci and the Mar­quis de Saint-Sauveur, saw that the Maltese Galley was prevented by the Wind which be­came directly contrary to them, from getting up to the Corsair, and that there was no Pro­bability of their being delivered from their Slavery, they abandoned themselves to the most frightful Despair. Their Grief was en­creased even by the sight of Monsieur de Mo­rigny, that Friend so dear to them both, upon whose Valour they depended more than upon that of all the other brave Knights that accompanied him. This cruel event filled them with the most melancholy Reflections, all the Horrors of that destiny which waited for them at Algiers, rose to their Imaginations; their Minds being weakened by the terrible apprehensions they laboured under, they soon became incapable of performing the la­borious exercise to which they were des­tined, and this incapacity drew upon them an encrease of Severity from their cruel Masters. At length they resigned themselves with sub­mission to the decrees of that Providence which orders all human Events, they relied with a pious Confidence upon it, and indulged a hope that the Chevalier Morigny would not forget them in their Misfortunes. This last Thought gave them great Consolation, and flattering themselves that the Corsair would not separate them in their Prison, they determined to wait with patience for the happy Moment of their Deliverance.

[Page 182]But this Barbarian had no Intention to grant them such a Favour; the noble Air, and the rich Dress they were in when he took them, made him conclude that they were Men of high Quality; he determined therefore not to sell them, but to make their Slavery so insupportable by his hash Treatment, as to make them glad to purchase their Liberty at any Price he should demand for it.

As soon as they landed at Algiers, he order­ed them to be thrown into separate Dungeons, where they had not the least Glimmering of Light, he would not allow them to take Leave of each other, they begged only for a parting Embrace, and the Request was punished with Stripes, which they suffered with such a noble Patience, and such Dignity of silent Grief, as would have moved any other Heart, but that of a Corsair, accustom­ed to treat Christians with the most savage Cruelty.

On the fourth Day of their miserable Con­finement, the Doors of their Dungeons were opened, but it was only to expose the Count of Berci to a Treatment still more humbling and rigorous, than what he had yet endured. As he was of a Constitution more strong and robust than the Marquis de Saint-Sauveur, the inhuman Corsair destined him to labour in his Lands in the Country; he caused him to be conducted thither with five other Slaves, tied two and two together like the vilest Ani­mals. [Page 183] He placed a Wretch as cruel as him­self over them, who gave them no Intermission from their Labour, and who punished every Symptom of Weariness with Stripes and abu­sive Language. They were allowed no other Nourishment than Bread and Water, and at Night when their Labour was ended, they were thrown covered with Sweat and Dust into a dark damp Dungeon where a little Straw was all that composed their Bed.

What a dreadful Situation for a Man of the first Quality, brought up in Luxury, and surrounded with pleasures. The Marquis de Saint Sauveur was treated with less Barbarity, but he owed his indulgence to the Avarice of the Corsair; the great delicacy of his Make made the Wretch apprehensive that he should lose him, if he put him to Labours beyond his Strength. He was therefore em­ployed in his Gardens, but his Grief at being separated from the Count, joined to his other disquiets, of which Love was the most poignant, made his misfortunes not less unsupportable.

The Count of Berci could not long sup­port the Weight of so many miseries, he sunk under them at length, and fell dan­gerously ill. His Master beginning to fear that he should lose him, ordered proper Nourishment to be given him, and allowed him some intermission from his labour, but as soon as he had recovered Strength, [Page 184] he was again obliged to resume his first Employment.

The Chevalier des Essars had been four Days in Algiers without being able to do any thing for his Friends; the Pirate had been absent three Weeks, but at his Return the Chevalier immediately sent the two Religious to him who had been the Companions of his Voyage; they offered him a very conside­rable Sum for the Ransom of several Cap­tives among whom they comprehended the two French Lords; they discovered no par­ticular Solicitude concerning them lest the Terms of their Redemption should be made more difficult; this Artifice did not succeed. The Corsair made a great Difference between them and his other Slaves, and demanded such an extravagant Sum for their Freedom, that the two Religious thought proper to speak to him no more on the Subject for some Days that they might not confirm him in the notion he had conceived of their Qua­lity.

The Chevalier, whose Impatience to see his Friends at Liberty could not bear any Delay, thought every Moment an Age till he had purchased their release, and ordered the two Friars to give the Pirate whatever he demanded; but they prudently represented to him that if they proceeded in that manner with the avaricious Corsair, he would insist upon still harder Conditions, and would ad­vance [Page 185] his Price, in Proportion as he saw them eager for their Deliverance. The Chevalier was at length prevailed upon to trust their Experience and Zeal, with the Conclusion of a Bargain, which he desired so ardently. Ac­cordingly these holy Men went three Days afterwards to the Pirate's House, and without taking any Notice of the two noble Slaves, offered to ransom twelve others, for which they immediately agreed upon the Price. The Pirate seeing them preparing to go without mentioning the Prisoners he had taken in his last Prize, was the first to pro­pose a Sum for their Ransom; the Religious affecting great Indifference, agreed at last to give ten thousand Livres, which the Corsair accepted, and they promised him, to bring the Money the next Morning.

That Moment so earnestly desired by the Chevalier, at last came: the Religious paid the Sum agreed on, and flew to open those dreadful Prisons, the eternal Abode of Horror and of Grief. After telling the unhappy Suf­ferers, with proper Caution, that they were now at Liberty, their Fetters were struck off, and they were led into the open Air. The unexpected News of his Freedom had such an Effect upon the Count of Berci, whose Mind and Body were greatly weakened, that he fainted away in the Arms of the Marquis de Saint-Sauveur, who had been first taken out of his miserable Confinement, and had eager­ly advanced to embrace him. The Religious, [Page 186] finding all Endeavours to recover the Count from his Swoon ineffectual, they carried him in that Condition to the Lodgings of the Che­valier des Essars.

That faithful Friend was expecting them with an anxious Impatience: he ran to strain them in his Arms, and welcome them to Freedom and Happiness, when seeing the Count brought in motionless, he stopt short, Grief and Amazement usurped the Place of Joy; he thought he was dead, for a livid Paleness overspread his Face, and he was so emaciated, that he was hardly to be known. He was beginning to give Vent to his Grief and his Complaints for this new Misfortune, when the Marquis de Saint-Sauveur, who know not of the Chevalier's Arrival at Algiers, threw himself suddenly into his Arms, with Exclamations of Sur­prise and Joy. For some Moments, they held each other in a strict Embrace, with­out the Power of expressing their Senti­ments, any otherwise than by Tears; their Solicitude for their Friend, at length, drew them out of this Rapture, they both sprung in one Instant to him, and by proper Ap­plications he was, at length, brought out of his Swoon, he opened his Eyes, but it was only to turn them wildly about on the Ob­jects around him; in a few Moments his Speech and Understanding returned, and the Marquis and the Chevalier meeting his Eyes, [Page 187] his Surprise at this View had like to have brought on a Relapse.

‘All-powerful Heaven! cried he, with a Voice seeble and languishing, but expressive of the Emotions his Heart laboured with, what do I see? Is it a Dream, or am I really awake? — What Wonders have I beheld this Day! Oh gracious and all wise Providence! I adore thy infinite Goodness, in bringing to me again these Friends so dear to my Soul. — Finish, Oh! finish thy Work, almighty Power, pursued he with Eyes and Hands raised towards Heaven, and restore me likewise to the Sight of her, with­out whom I cannot live.’

Then holding out his Hand to the Cheva­lier des Essars, who stood regarding his Ac­tion with Eyes swimming in Tears of Tender­ness and Joy, ‘Dear and faithful Friend, pursued he, cease to load us thus with Be­nefits, or teach us how to acknowledge them, in a manner worthy of thee; but is it possible to make suitable Returns to this last Proof of your generous Friendship? Oh! Brother, added he, turning to the Marquis, our Lives have long since been his Gift under God, can either of us refuse to sacrifice them for his Service?’

The Chevalier, unable to bear these Transports of his Gratitude, ran into his [Page 188] Arms, and embracing him tenderly, congra­tulated him on his Liberty. He then quitted him to the Marquis, who claimed a Share in the Endearments of the beloved Husband of his Sister.

When these mutual Raptures were a little subsided, they gave each other an Account of what had happened to them during their Se­paration. The Chevalier was greatly affected at the Recital of what his Friends had suffer­ed; the Count in particular, whom the Cor­sairs had treated so cruelly that not even the Joy of his recovered Liberty, nor the tender Cares of his Friends could hinder him from feeling the Effects of it. He was seized with a violent Fever, which held him fourteen Days: during the whole Time that his Reco­very was doubtful, the Chevalier and the Marquis were in the utmost Affliction; but the natural Strength of his Constitution, at length, overcame the Disease, and his Health restored Tranquility and Joy to his sympa­thising Friends, who now thought of nothing but hastening their Departure.

Mean time young Berci, who had been tossed about by contrary Winds, and in great Danger from several Storms, arrived, at length, safe at Algiers; the Chevalier des Es­sars and the Marquis de Saint-Sauveur were walking upon the Port of that City, whither they were drawn by the Beauty of the [Page 189] Place, and the Necessity they had for some fresh Air, when the Vessel, that brought Monsieur de Berci, entered the Harbour with full Sails: the Chevalier and the Marquis were upon the Point of returning Home, to the Count, who, on account of some Remainder of Weakness, could not accom­pany them in their Walk, when their Cu­riosity to see the Passengers, who were pre­paring to land, detained them a few Mo­ments longer: but their Surprize was ex­treme to see the Count's Brother among them; they ran eagerly to embrace him, nor was he less astonished at the Sight of the Marquis and the Chevalier, one of whom he believed in Fetters, and the other in the Heart of Anjou. He immediately concluded, that the Chevalier had prevented him in his Design, nor could he guard his Mind from a little Emotion of Jealousy; he regretted that his Brother and the Marquis should owe their Deliverance from Slavery to any other than himself, after the Fatigue and Dangers he had endured to have the Satis­faction of doing them that Service. But these Thoughts soon gave way to his An­xiety for his Brother; he enquired with a tender Impatience for him; they soon re­leased him from his Apprehensions at not seeing him with them, and carried him im­mediately to their Lodgings.

The Count of Berci was not less asto­nished than they had been, at the Sight of [Page 190] his Brother; he embraced him tenderly, and expressed the highest Acknowledgment for this Proof of his Affection; with a trembling Eagerness he enquired after the Health of his Wife, and when Monsieur de Berci shewed him her Jewels which she had given him to purchase his Freedom, he burst into Tears of Joy, Gratitude, and Love. His Impatience to see again that dear Object of his fondest Wishes, gave him new Strength, and he declared that he was able to embark immediately for France.

His Friends, however impatient them­selves to return to their native Country, which was still more endeared to them by the Remembrance of those beloved Persons they had left in it, insisted upon the Count's staying till his Health was perfectly re­established. The Count of Berci had a Mo­tive more strong for his Delay: he could not think of leaving his Servants, that had been taken with him in the Felucca, Vic­tims to the Cruelty of the Algerines; he judged of their Sufferings by his own, and his Compassion for them being heightened by that painful Remembrance, he was re­solved not to leave Algiers, till he had ef­fected their Deliverance. It was not with­out great Difficulty that they were found; they had been all sold by the Corsairs, and had more than once changed their Masters, during the Continuance of their Slavery. [Page 191] The Count of Berci thought himself under an indispensible Obligation to ransom them: those unhappy Men had been so barbarous­ly treated, that they were the more sen­sible of the generous Kindness of their Lord, in giving them Freedom.

Nothing now opposed their speedy De­parture: the Count and the Marquis expres­sed their Gratitude to the two Religious, who had treated so prudently for their Ransom, by making them several noble Presents; but they did not stop there, they left very considerable Sums in their Hands, to open the Dungeons of a great Number of Christians, who had long suffered all the Rigors of Slavery. They thought they could not better express their Gratitude to their Maker, for their own De­liverance, than by freeing their Fellow-Crea­tures, and their Brethren in the same Com­munion, out of the Hands of Infidels, who blasphemed his holy Name, by this pious Use of Part of their great Riches, they hoped to draw a Blessing upon the Remainder; and this Act of Charity performed, they all em­barked on board a Vessel that was preparing to sail for Provence, and le [...]t for ever that bar­barous Region where they had suffered such cruel Torments. At length, that God, whom they had invoked in their Affliction, and whom they had rendered propitious by their Alms, who commands the Winds and the Waves, who bids Tempests be still, and [Page 192] smooths the Face of the Deep, that God protected them throughout their Voyage, and gave them to land safely at Marseilles, three Months and some odd Days after the Departure of the Chevalier des Essars for Africa.

The END of the Second PART.

THE HISTORY OF THE Chevalier DES ESSARS AND THE Countess OF BERCI. PART III.

THE Count of Berci and his noble Friends, as soon as they landed at Mar­seilles, offered up a solemn Thanksgiving to God for the Mercies they had received. They stayed some Days there, not so much to take a View of all the Beauties of that celebrated City, which, for its Strength, its Extent, and the Security of its Commerce, was in such high Esteem, and drew to it continually Mer­chants from every Nation in the Universe, but to rest themselves, after the Fatigues of a long Voyage. Their Impatience to see the Countess of Berci and Mademoiselle de Mont­martin, [Page 194] prompted the Count and the Marquis to a speedy Departure. The Chevalier, though he was not at Liberty to own his Motive, was no less eager to get to Paris: Accordingly they pursued their Journey with all possible Haste, and reached that great Ca­pital towards Aut [...].

They alighted all together at the Count of Berci's Hotel: he would not suffer the Che­valier to seek any other Asylum than one which he, by his friendly Solicitude, could render most secure to him. He told him, that he would not part with him till the King had signed his Pardon, which he hoped he would not refuse to his Solicitations, and that of his Friends, all of whom would interest themselves in his Behalf. The Chevalier ex­pressed the highest Gratitude to the Count for his friendly Offers, which too agreably flat­tered his secret Wishes, not to be accepted with Joy.

It is not easy to give an Idea of that Mix­ture of Surprise, Joy, Tenderness, and grate­ful Rapture, which filled the Souls of the Countess of Berci and Mademoiselle de Mont­martin at the Sight of Persons so dear to them. The Marquis de Saint-Sauveur threw himself at the Feet of his charming Mistress, whose Eyes welcomed him with streaming Tenderness, while the Count ran into the Arms of his Wife, and in the most endearing Lan­guage expressed his Joy, at seeing her again. [Page 195] It was with Difficulty he tore himself from her soft Embrace, to present the Chevalier des Essars to her.

‘See, Madam, said he to her, that tender and generous Friend, who makes it the Business of his Life to serve us; who, not satisfied with having more than once deli­vered us from impending Death, has now freed us from the Horrors of a Slavery far more to be dreaded.’ The Countess ad­vanced immediately to salute him, pleased that her Duty and her Inclinations this once co-incided, she gave free Vent to the grate­ful Sentiments that filled her Soul; she praised his generous Friendship, she acknow­ledged the great Obligations she owed him, and assured him, she should ever preserve the most grateful Remembrance of them.

‘I have done nothing, Madam, said the Chevalier, interrupting the Countess, than what any other, in the same Circumstances, and with the same Incitements, would have done; but were the Services I have been so happy to render your Lord and your Bro­ther, far more considerable, they would be overpaid by the Sensibility you are pleased to express for them; and am I not doubly rewarded, pursued he smiling, and direct­ing the Eyes of the Count and Countess to the young Marquis, who was pouring out his Soul in grateful Transports at the Feet of his Mistress, by the Pleasure I feel my­self, [Page 196] at restoring a faithful Lover to the Ob­ject of his Wishes?’

The Marquis and Mademoiselle de Mont­martin finding they were observed, joined the rest of the Company, and the Conver­sation became more general: that lovely Girl thought it would be no Violation of the Laws of Modesty and Decorum, to join her Thanks for the Delivery of the noble Captives, to those of the Countess of Berci; she could no longer disguise her real Senti­ments, her Joy to see again the Marquis, after a cruel Captivity, which had appeared so tedious to her, broke out in every Look and Action; — the happy Lover, on his Side, assured her, that his Absence from her was a Torment far greater than all the Hardships he had suffered from his barbarous Masters in Africa. A calm and settled Joy succeeded their first Transports at this happy Meeting, and in the present Satisfaction all Remem­brance of past Evils was forgot.

Some Days afterwards, the Count of Berci and the Marquis de Saint-Sauveur went to the Louvre, to pay their Duty to his Majesty, and both resolved to use their utmost Endea­vours to obtain a Pardon for the Chevalier des Essars. That Prince, who had been in­formed of their Captivity, had the Goodness to assure them of his Concern for the Mi­series they had suffered in Algiers; he com­manded the Count to give him a particular [Page 197] Relation of their Slavery, and the Treatment which they had received from the Infidels: the Count obeyed; and the great Heart of Henry was sensibly affected with the me­lancholy Detail. The Count of Berci seeing his Majesty so much moved, thought this a favourable Moment for the Chevalier; and continuing his Relation, he informed the King in what manner they were delivered from their Chains, and how greatly they had been obliged to the Chevalier des Es­sars, who had generously undertaken a Voyage to Africa for their Service, and by his wise and prudent Conduct obtained their Liberty. Observing the King struck with such a noble Instance of Friendship and Generosity, the Count of Berci entered in­to a Justification of his Friend's Conduct with respect to his last Combat with the Count of Polan; he explained to his Ma­jesty the Necessity the Chevalier was under to take Notice of the Injury he received, which was publicly charged to the Count of Polan; he produced the Count's Answer to the Challenge sent him by the Chevalier, as a Proof of what he advanced. Then the Marquis and he throwing themselves at the King's Feet, besought him to pardon the Che­valier des Essars, in Consideration of his great Valour, his inviolable Fidelity to his So­vereign, — his aimable Character, and the Wrong he had suffered, by which he was provoked to take Revenge.

[Page 198]The King was a little shook by their Intreaties, and the Arguments urged in Fa­vour of the Chevalier; but when he reflect­ed, that a Man whom all the Kingdom knew to be particularly dear to him, was killed by the Chevalier, in Defiance of his Edicts, and at the Hazard of mortally of­fending him, all the Solicitations of the Count and the Marquis could not prevail with him to pardon their Friend; they re­turned Home full of Grief for their bad Success, and this Cloud that hung over the Chevalier's Fortune, embittered their Joys for their happy Return to France.

The Countess of Berci and Mademoiselle de Montmartin were greatly afflicted at this Rigor of his Majesty, as they thought un­justly exerted in the Case of the Chevalier; but although their Affliction arose from Mo­tives very different in each, yet it was pretty near equal; for in a generous Heart Grati­tude produces Sentiments as tender as those of Love. Mean time the Marquis de Saint-Sauveur pursued his good Fortune with Ma­demoiselle de Montmartin: his Sufferings on her account, had augmented her Tenderness. She had made too full a Discovery of her Sen­timents to the Countess, and even to her Lover himself, to indulge any farther female Parade, without incurring the Censure of Af­fectation and Caprice. The Marquis, with a Lover's Ardor, pressed for an early Day,— Mademoiselle de Montmartin but faintly de­nied. [Page 199] As she was entirely Mistress of herself and Fortune, she could form no Excuse for a longer Delay, she therefore yielded to give the Marquis her Hand, as soon as the ne­cessary Preparations for their Marriage were made. The Countess was charmed with her ready Compliance; and Mademoiselle de Montmartin, obligingly assured her, that the Happiness she proposed to herself in acquiring such a Sister, was not one of her least Motives for so sudden a Consent, though she allowed to her Brother's faithful Passion, and her own Inclinations in his Fa­vour, their full Force.

Letters were immediately dispatched to Burgundy, to the old Marquis de Saint-Sau­veur and his Lady, acquainting them with Mademoiselle de Montmartin's Consent to give her Hand to their Son, which was an Event they had both earnestly wished for. In the expected Happiness of such a Union, they buried all Remembrance of their past Sor­rows for the Captivity of their only Son, and, although weakened with Age and Infirmities, they resolved to take a Journey to Paris, and honour with their Presence the Solemnity of his Nuptials.

The old Nobleman and his Lady were in­finitely delighted to find the Chevalier des Es­sars at their Son-in-law's Hotel. The Count of Berci presented him to them with his usual Tenderness: the old Marquis embraced him [Page 200] with Transport, calling him the Preserver of himself and his Family; the Marchioness re­ceived his Compliments with the Tenderness of a Mother to a worthy Son. The Chevalier politely begged, that he might be allowed to offer them his Hotel for their Residence, during their Stay in Paris. ‘Since, added he, smiling, the Count of Berci's Hospita­lity has obliged me to become an Inmate here.’ The old Marquis and his Lady grate­fully accepted his Offer: they were conduct­ed thither in the Evening, by their Son, and the Count and Countess of Berci; and the next Morning Mademoiselle de Montmartin went to pay her Respects to them.

The old Marquis and his Lady were charmed with the Beauty, good Sense, and Politeness of their designed Daughter-in-law; they applauded their Son for his Choice, and not the less for having consulted, as they sup­posed, Fortune as well as external Qualities in that Choice. The young Marquis suffered his Parents to attribute as much Prudence to him as they pleased, though his Heart told him, that Mademoiselle de Montmartin's For­tune, great as it was, was nevertheless one of his least Inducements for making his Addresses to her.

The Nuptials of the young Marquis de Saint-Sauveur and Mademoiselle de Montmar­tin were celebrated with a Magnificence suit­able to their Quality and Riches; but, alas, [Page 201] how was the Pomp of that Day's Ceremony darkened! What bitter Grief succeeded to their Joys! That Day was at once to the new married Couple and their Friends the happiest and most miserable of their Lives.

The Ceremony of the Marriage performed, the Bride and Bridegroom, with their Rela­tions and Friends, went to the Hotel of the Chevalier des Essars, where Monsieur and Madam de Saint-Sauveur had caused a splen­did Entertainment to be prepared. At One o'Clock in the Morning the new married Pair retired; the rest of the Company conti­nued dancing: but the Count and Countess of Berci, after they had attended the Bride and Bridegroom to their Apartment, returned Home without taking Leave of the Com­pany, that they might not oblige them to break up.

The Chevalier des Essars, on account of the Disgrace he was in with the King, was not able to assist at this Day's Ceremony: he went early to Bed, but an unusual Inquietude, for which he could assign no Cause, hindered him from Sleeping; he rose, and walked about his Chamber, and when he thought he had fatigued himself with that Exercise, he went again to Bed, but Sleep still sled his Eyes, his Imagination was tortured with sad and dismal Images that would not leave him a Moment's Repose; he started at every little Noise, without knowing why; his Heart beat [Page 202] in an unusual measure; and he was preparing again to rise, when he heard the Count's Coach at the Gate.

The Arrival of the Count and Countess seemed to suspend his Uneasiness; he heard them pass by his Antichamber, and he again endeavoured to take some Rest. Monsieur and Madam de Berci, after enquiring of the Che­valier's Health, retired to their own Chamber. Marianne, whose Conduct had been strictly observed by her Lady ever since the Discovery she had made of her Amour, took Advantage of that Day's Solemnity, which she concluded would keep the Count and Countess very late from Home, to admit her Lover once more into her Chamber; she could not imagine they would return so soon as they did, but hearing the Coach, she caused Verague to dress himself hastily, and having concealed him in her Closet, she presented herself before her Lady with an assured Countenance, and assisted in undressing her as usual.

As soon as she was dismissed, she returned immediately to Verague, but would not suffer him to attempt to go away till she thought the Count and her Lady were asleep. The Door of this Woman's Room opened into the Countess's Antichamber: Verague must necessarily pass through it to get to the back Stairs. When Marianne thought he might venture safely, she conducted him with as little Noise as possible to the Door; however, [Page 203] the Count, who was not asleep, heard his Steps; a fatal Curiosity to know who it was passing so late through his Lady's Apartment, made him rise, and, throwing his Night-gown over him, he went into the Antichamber. Verague had stopt there a Moment, to listen whether none of the Domestics were still up: hearing the Count's Chamber-door open, he attempted to gain the Stair-case, but with so much Precipitation and Fear, that he made a false Step upon the first Stair, which gave the Count of Berci an Opportunity to lay hold on him. Verague, made desperate by his Fears for his own Life, and the Dishonour of his Mistress, took a Poignard he wore in his Bo­som when he went upon such Adventures, and endeavoured to disengage himself from the Count by wounding him in the Arm, but the Count, by a sudden Motion, received the Stroke full in his Side. Verague now easily breaking from his Hold, ran down Stairs, and climbing over the Walls of the Court-yard, which were very low, he got in­to a little Garden, of the Door of which Ma­rianne had given him a Key, and escaped without Discovery.

The unhappy Count of Berci fell to the Ground with the Stroke he had received, and feeling his Blood flowing fast from his Wound, he called for Help with a loud Voice, His Gentleman, whose Chamber was very near, and who happened to be up and read­ing, took up a Candle, and ran to the Place [Page 204] where his Lord's Voice had directed him. At the Sight of the Count extended upon the Ground, and covered with Blood, he made the House resound with his Cries: the Coun­tess awaking in great Terrors, and not find­ing her Lord beside her, hastily arose, threw on a loose Robe, and calling Marianne, flew out of her Apartment, the Chevalier met her at the Head of the Stair-case. What a Spectacle for the Wife and the Friend! the Count wel­tering in his Blood, supported against the Wall, while his Gentleman was endeavour­ing to bind up his Wound with his Cravat.

Madam de Berci uttered a piercing Groan, and sunk down by her almost expiring Lord; the Chevalier, for some Moments, stood mo­tionless with Grief and Amazement; the Ser­vants running from every Part of the House, were preparing to take up their bleeding Master, when the Chevalier, roused from his silent Agony, eagerly lent his trembling Arm, and, with the Assistance of his Gentleman, carried the Count into his Chamber, and laid him upon his Bed. Surgeons were immediate­ly sent for, but he, feeling his Strength almost exhausted, turned his dying Eyes towards the Countess, who, supported by her Women, stood at his Bedside in Anguish unutterable.

‘Cease, Madam, said he to her, cease, to resign yourself to a fruitless Grief, your Tears and your Despair cannot restore me to your Love, but will embitter my last [Page 205] Moments. 'Tis done, I have finished my Course, parting with you is all the Grief I feel in Death, but I return Thanks to Heaven for calling me away first, and spare­ing me the Affliction of surviving you; we have lived happy in each other's Affection, I die contented, and I conjure you with my last Breath, not to revenge my Death.— I pardon the Authors of it, continued he, looking at Marianne, who was in visible Agitations, nor must you, my dear Coun­tess, refuse me another Request, it is, said he taking the Chevalier's Hand, who stood by him in an Agony of Grief, that after my Death, you will transfer the Affection you have borne me, to this dear, this faith­ful Friend, let him possess my Place in your Heart, bless him with your Hand, and both of you cherish my Remembrance.—May the God of all Mercies, pursued the dying Count, with Eyes fervently raised to Heaven, pour down his choicest Blessings upon you, and grant me an Asylum in the Bosom of my—’ He was not able to utter more, his Hand lost its Hold of the Chevalier, his Eyes for ever shut out the Light, and faintly groaning he expired.

The Chevalier ordered the Countess's At­tendants to convey her instantly into another Chamber, that she might not behold a Spec­tacle capable of shocking her Reason. The Effects of her Grief were so much the more to be apprehended, as it neither vented it­self [Page 206] in Tears or Complaint: her Eyes remain­ed always fixed on one Object, like a Per­son in the last Agonies of Death; a mortal Paleness overspread her Face; for a while she seemed to have neither Sense or Motion; at length she was seized with Convulsions, which held her so long, that her Life was de­spaired of. It would have been happy for her had Fate then put a Period to her miserable Days; but she was reserved to suffer greater Woes. By the Force of Medicines, she re­covered to a Sense of Grief. Painful Return to Life! She now felt and deplored her Loss. The Chevalier staid by her till the Convul­sions had left her, and her Reason was a little restored; he neither could nor would attempt to console her, that, he judged, must be the Work of Time, and his Heart was too much oppressed by his own Sorrows, to make him capable of administring Comfort to another.

Mean time the News of this tragical Acci­dent was carried to the Hotel of the Chevalier des Essars, and changed the Mirth and Plea­sures of the Ball into Tears and Lamentations: every one ran with distracted Haste to the Count's Hotel; an Assassination committed upon his Person in his own House, at the dead of Night, and by an unknown Hand, filled all who heard it with Horror and Amazement; a strict Search was ordered to be made, but the Murderer could not be discovered, all the Doors of the House were found fastened, nor was it possible by any Circumstance that ap­peared, [Page 207] to form any certain Judgment. All that could admit of no Doubt, was, that the Murder had been committed by one who had been all Night concealed in the House.

During all this Time, a thousand gloomy Reflexions rolled in the Mind of Monsieur de Berci, the deceased Count's Brother. He was resolved to spend all the rich Possessions he was left Heir to, in discovering the Authors of the Assassination and revenging it, he caused all the Men Servants to be carried to Prison, and upon the Recital that was made him of his Brother's last words (for he was not present having staid behind the Count and Countess at the Chevalier des Essars) of the meaning look he had cast upon Marianne, and the trouble and confusion it occasioned in her, he made her be taken up likewise and con­ducted to Prison, the Counts Servants went through the interrogatory, and the inno­cence was no less apparent by the sincere Grief they shewed for the Loss of their Master, than their clear and unvarying an­swers to the questions that were put to them.

When Marianne was examined, she abso­lutely disavowed having any Concern in the Murder, and to remove any Suspicions that might be entertained against herself or her Lover, she declared to the Lieutenant cri­minel with an amazing Confidence that it was from the Countess of Berci herself that they ought to seek an Explanation of that [Page 208] dark affair; she asserted that her Lady's passion for the Chevalier des Essars who had lain for some Time concealed in the House, was doubtless the true Cause of the Count's Assassination, to support this Charge she re­lated all that had passed in the Castle of Beau­plan, the secret Interview between the Che­valier and Madam de Berci by Night; her free Remonstrances to her Lady upon so shameful a Conduct, which were so ill re­ceived, that she dismissed her from her Ser­vice; but at the Intercession of the Count's Brother, to whom she had disclosed the Amour between the Chevalier and her Lady, she had been pardoned by her, and continued in her Place. Hereupon the Lieutenant Cri­minal thought proper to have Monsieur de Berci examined: his Answers agreed with Marianne's Deposition, as far as it related to the Account she had given him of his Sister-in-law's Amour, with the Chevalier; but he observed to that Magistrate that he had made Marianne's Peace with her Lady, upon Condition that she should give him Notice of all her steps with Regard to the Chevalier, that since that, the Countess of Berci, might have had many Opportunities of seeing the Chevalier in private, if ever she had admitted of such a Freedom, and Ma­rianne could not have been unacquainted with it, and would consequently have given him Notice of those stolen Interviews, in Per­formance of her Promise, but she had never done it, therefore he concluded it was not in [Page 209] her Power to give any such Proof of her Lady's Dishonour, for it was not to be imagined that she who new accused Madam de Berci of being concerned in the Murder of her Lord, would have neglected to discover a slighter Fault, if she had been able. The Lieutenant Criminel, although he found some Reason in what Monsieur de Berci had urged in Favour of the Countess, and that in the Deposition of Marianne, only very light Presumptions could he formed against Madam de Berci and the Chevalier des Essars, yet thought it necessary ta issue out an order for taking the Countess into custody. Mosieur de Berci foresaw this, he was fully persuaded of his Sister-in-law's Innocence, the Observations he had made to the Lieutenant Civil was, the result of deep Reflexion on her Conduct, her Grief for her Lord's Captivity, the generous Sacrifice she had of her Jewels to procure his Release, fearing that a much larger Sum would be demanded for his Ran­som than they could immediat [...]ly Raise, her unfeigned affliction for his Death, which had brought her to the last Extremity, the uncommon Friendship shewn by the Che­valier in making a Voyage to Africk to de­liver the Count, was all this consistent with a criminal Amour between them, and such complicated Wickedness as the Assassination of the Count, apparently the beloved Hus­band and the valued Friend of them who were accused to be the Authors of it? Mon­sieur de Berci rejected the Thought with [Page 210] Horror, his Esteem and Affection for his Sister-in-law increased in Proportion as he thought she suffered unjustly in her character, he flew to inform her of the Order issued for seizing her and exhorted her with Tears to seek some Asylum where she might be secured against so cruel an Affront. The Countess trembled with Horror at the news of her being suspected to be an Accomplice in so dreadful a Crime; a generous Indig­nation took Place of those first Emotions and overspread her fair Face which, ever since the Death of her Lord had lost all its Freshness, with a transient Blush.

‘Oh, Woman (cried she, when her Brother-in-law repeated to her the Depo­sition of Marianne) Oh, Woman unworthy of the Light, detested Monster, sent from Hell to be my destruction! What reward dost thou promise thyself for thy infamous falshood? Is it my Life thy wicked Ma­lice aims at? Alas, it is now grown in­different to me, Grief would probably have done thy Work, but that does not content thee? I must dye upon a Scaffold, and my Fame must be murdered as well as my Per­son? Prosecute, Wretch, thy cruel Scheme, the silent Testimony of a clear Conscience shall be my Comfort, and the Review of a Life free from Reproach my Defence.’

Monsieur de Berci could not hear this af­fecting Apostrophe to that infamous Slan­derer, [Page 211] without Tears, and Execrations. The Countess expressed a grateful Acknowledg­ment for the Interest he took in her Mis­fortunes. She then desired him to send the Chevalier des Essars to her, and as soon as he entered her Apartment, she related to him all that her Brother-in-law had told her, concerning the wicked Marianne and her own impending Danger.

The Chevalier was in Agonies at the Re­cital of so horrid a Calumny. His Rage at the Aspersions cast upon the Countess, and his Terrors at what might be the Consequence of them, made him appear like one distracted, he traversed the Chamber with a furious Pace, forgetting that she was present, and casting up his Eyes to Heaven, seemed to upbraid it for permitting such Virtue to suffer. But recollecting himself at length, he approached the Countess with a calmer air, and asked her what in the present Exigence she resolved to do, begging her to command him freely whose Life was wholly devoted to her Service.

The Countess who had taken her Reso­lution, replied with great composure, that her Innocence was her Security, and that she would stand her Trial.

The Chevalier who had not expected such Firmness, was at first lost in Astonishment and Admiration; but anxious for her Safety, [Page 212] and judging that there was no Time to lose, he represented to her, that she ought not to abandon, a Life so precious, to the precarious Judgments of Men often unjust, and cruel. Madam de Berci alledged that her Flight would give her the Appearance of Guilt, that she would rely entirely upon her Innocence, and the Interposition of Providence, and wait patiently for the Event of such an un­deserved Accusation.

The Chevalier finding her determined to expose herself to all the Dangers that threat­ened her, was almost distracted, he threw himself at her Feet and with Tears conjured her to take Measures for preserving herself; but she, unmoved with all he could say, ob­stinately persisted in her Resolution to suffer the horrors of Confinement in a dreadful Prison, the infamy of a publick Trial, and the Agony of a shameful Death, if such was her Lot, and with absolute Resignation to the will of Heaven drink the bitter Cup that was prepared for her.

But at the same Time that the Countess thus fearlesly braved her own Fate, she trembled at the Danger of a Man so deser­vedly dear to her, she conjured him to fly and leave her to the Protection of Heaven, the Chevalier declared that he would share her Fate, whatever that might be; Madam de Berci intreated, wept, all was in vain. She then assumed an Appearance of Rage, and [Page 213] threatened never to pardon him, if he refused to give her this last Proof of his obedience to her Will: even this was ineffectual. At last she told him that her Interest required he should be safe and at liberty, that he might be able to assist her, if her Enemies should bring Things to Extremity.

This last Thought made some Impression upon the Chevalier, he considered that if he should suffer himself to be taken, the Count of Polan's friends would not fail to urge the King to have the Sentence he had pro­nounced executed upon him, so that the Countess would be effectually deprived of all the Assistance he was able to give her, he had many great and powerful Friends, all of whom he could engage in the Interests of Madam de Berci, while he continued free, but when he was once in custody would have enough to do to procure his Pardon for the Death of the King's Favourite. He there­fore agreed to the Countess's Proposal, de­termining within himself to die with her if he failed in his endeavours to save her.

‘I go, Madam, said he, with Tears in his Eyes, in Obedience to your Commands: as long as I can be useful to you my Life will be worth my Care, and when it ceases to be so, I know how to die;’ he kised her Hand as he pronounced these words, and hur­rying out of her Apartment, met the two Marquisses de Saint-Sauveur, who were come [Page 214] hastily to see the Countess; the Chevalier em­braced them affectionately, and recommend­ing Madam de Berci to their tender Cares, retired to the House of a faithful Friend, where he determined to wait the Effect of her Reso­lution.

He had scarce been gone two Hours, when he was informed that the Countess had been arrested, and, notwithstanding the vigorous Efforts of her Relations to save her from such an Ignominy, was conducted to the little Cha­telet; she had been torn out of the Arms of her Father and the young Marchioness de Saint-Sauveur, who hung upon her, while her unhappy Mother sunk upon the Ground in a fainting Fit, at the Sight of the dreadful Officers of Justice, who came to convey her to Prison.

Oh! blind and cruel Fortune, shall Virtue ever be persecuted by thee, and thy severest Malice be exercised upon those who most de­serve thy Smiles?

When the Countess entered the fatal Place which was henceforward to be her Habitation, the melancholy Gloom, the wretched Furni­ture, the grated Windows, the frightful So­litude, filled her Mind with Horrors, till then unfelt; all that Fortitude, the Pride of suffer­ing Virtue, the secret Calm of conscious In­nocence, upon which she had depended, were too little to support her under such dreadful [Page 215] Circumstances. She had now none of that boasted Courage left, which had lessened every Trial she could be called to, and made her imagine herself more than equal to them all. Filled with Horror and Despair, she threw her streaming Eyes around the miserable Room, surveying it with distracted Eagerness, then sinking upon a Chair, and giving a loose to the Anguish that oppressed her, she wrung her Hands, and struck her groaning Breast. ‘Where art thou now, unhappy Wretch? cried she; is thy once splendid Fortune re­duced to this; an Inmate of a horrid Prison, confounded with the vilest Criminals, branded with horrid Crimes, and threaten­ed with a shameful Death? Ah, my dearest Lord, pursued she, was not the Remem­brance of thy unhappy Fate sufficient to afflict me, but I must be charged with being the Author of it? Just Heaven, let me not find Fault with thy Decrees, suffer not my rebellious Heart to murmur at my undeserved Woes, let me submit with Pa­tience to my Destiny; and since I have lived with Innocence, let me die with Resignation.’

The Woman who had been appointed to attend the Countess, rather indeed to be a Spy upon her Behaviour, than to do her Ser­vice, could not hear this affecting Language without Tears. The Youth and Beauty of Madam de Berci had the Moment she be­held her, excited her Compassion, and insen­sibly [Page 216] removed that Prejudice which she had conceived against a Woman charged with so black a Crime; she could not look on her, and imagine her capable of Cruelty, she could not hear her, and believe her a Hypo­crite. After two or three Days Attendance upon her, she discovered so much unaffected Piety in her Behaviour, such Gentleness of Manners, such perfect Resignation, and such a calm, yet steady Courage, as persuaded her she was wholly innocent.

Madam de Berci soon perceived, this Woman had entertained favourable Thoughts of her: her extreme Assiduity to oblige her, the ten­der Concern she expressed for her Misfortunes, drew from the grateful Countess Acknow­ledgments that entirely won her Heart. The Unfortunate are ever ready to over-rate the Benefits they receive, because they are unex­pected: Madam de Berci, although she shewed herself grateful in the highest Degree, yet had a Dignity in her Manner which enhanced the Value of her Condescensions. The Exi­gencies of her Situation required that she should court the Friendship of this Woman, and she succeeded without Difficulty, and without Humiliation: the Horrors of her Confinement were in some Degree moderated by this Incident; but the Shame and Dis­grace she suffered, and the Uncertainty of what might be her Fate, innocent as she was, was sufficient to overwhelm her with Sorrow. Death was not what she dreaded, her Mise­ries [Page 217] had made Life hateful to her; but to die loaded with Infamy, to suffer the Stroke of an Executioner, upon a public Scaffold, brand­ed with the Crimes of Adultery and Murder, shocked her almost to Madness.

After a Week's Imprisonment, the Lieute­nant Criminal entered suddenly into her Cham­ber, in order to interrogate her: she trembled at first at the Sight of this austere Magistrate; the Thoughts of being obliged to answer like a Criminal, in a Posture so unworthy of her Quality and Innocence, threw her into some Confusion: but here her Piety came to her Aid; she humbled herself under the chastising Hand of the Almighty, and, with a perfect Submission to his Will, suffered the igno­minious Examination; she confessed the Ad­venture of the Forest, and the Interview she had had with the Chevalier des Essars in the Castle of Beauplan, but she took God to Wit­ness for the Innocence of her Intentions, and her Conduct. The Judge, after taking her Confession in writing, which he read to her, and she signed, withdrew.

Neither the Countess of Berci nor Marianne had made any mention of Verague, in their Examinations: that Assassin was carefully con­cealed in Paris, in the House of one of his near Relations. He staid there for some Days, to see what Turn the Affair would take; but though he found himself in Safety, he was tortured with the Stings of his own Guilt. [Page 218] This Man was a Gentleman by Birth: he had not hitherto committed any flagrant Crimes; the Terror he was in, lest the Re­putation of his Mistress should be blasted, made him desperate, he found he could not disengage himself from the Count, who held him fast, and called aloud for Lights; his Si­tuation gave him not Time for Reflexion, it was necessary he should speedily escape for the Preservation of his own Life and his Mistress's Honour, and he could no other ways effect it than by ridding himself of the Count; guided by a sudden Impulse, he stabbed him with his Poignard, but aimed the Stroke at the Arm which held him, the unfortunate Count received it in his Breast; and Verague fled full of Horror at the Action he had committed, and Fear of the Consequences. When he found, that the Countess of Berci and the Chevalier des Essars were accused of the Mur­der of the Count, his Heart was touched with Remorse, but he had neither Fortitude nor Generosity enough to clear their Innocence, by confessing himself the Assassin of that un­happy Nobleman. He could not, however, endure to be in a Place which every Moment recalled to him the Remembrance of his Crime, for which two innocent Persons were persecuted; he was apprehensive likewise, that Marianne, terrified at the fatal Conse­quences of her Guilt, would endeavour to re­pair the Mischiefs she had been the Cause of, and would deliver him up to Justice: but he judged too favourably of that hardened [Page 219] Wretch, the Persecution she saw the Countess suffer, gratified her Malice, while it secured her Safety. She could never forgive her for the severe Reproaches she made her on ac­count of her Amour with Verague, and for the Resolution she had taken to dismiss her from her Service.

It is one of the greatest Triumphs of Vice to behold Virtue in Distress. Marianne exult­ed in her own Mind over her suffering Lady, and hardened herself in her Crime by re­flecting on the Advantages she had now over that scrupulous Virtue, which, rather than wink at her Failings, had exposed its Owner, though innocent, to all the Consequences of detected Guilt. But Verague, who had not even trusted her with the Place of his Con­cealment, did not know the full Extent of his Wickedness, and was ignorant of his own Security: he therefore resolved to leave Pa­ris, and shelter himself in England; but Change of Place could bring no Relief to the Tortures of his Mind, the Blood he had shed haunted his Imagination with Horrors, which made that Life he feared to lose, in­supportable to him, and the Dangers the in­nocent Countess was exposed to through his Crime, gave new Stings to a Conscience suf­ficiently wounded before.

The Lieutenant Criminal was extremely concerned to find that the Chevalier des Es­sars had escaped his Vigilance: the strictest [Page 220] Search imaginable was made for him, but to no Purpose; he was perfectly safe in the Asy­lum he had chose, but devoured with Melan­choly, and a Prey to the most bitter Reflec­tions, the Murder of his Friend, the Suffer­ings of his beloved Countess, were never out of his Thoughts, and almost overturned his Reason.

Madam de Berci, who possessed more real Delicacy and Greatness of Mind than half her Sex, had never, when pressed by her Brother-in-law to receive Marianne again in­to her Service, taken the least Notice to him of the Cause for which she had dismissed her: he therefore was wholly ignorant of her In­trigue with Verague. She was silent like­wise upon that Head when she was interro­gated by the Lieutenant Criminal: her Ago­nies, when she beheld her Lord wounded to Death, and weltering in his Blood, were too great to suffer her Attention to be free enough to observe the conscious Look he gave Ma­rianne, and the Confusion it caused in that wicked Girl. At times indeed she had some Suspicions of the Truth, but as they were only Suspicions, she did not think herself au­thorized to accuse any one. Her Pride sug­gested to her likewise, that she should level herself with her infamous Servant, to retort Scandal for Scandal, since she had no Means of proving her Assertions, and Marianne had the Advantage of having first accused her, which she thought would render every thing [Page 221] she afterwards said, suspected; this false Rea­soning was the Source of all her Miseries: had she discovered her vile Woman's Amour with Verague; his Flight, with several other con­curring Circumstances, would have made him known to have been the Author of her Lord's Assissination; but she herself was ignorant of his having left France, and as none of her Fa­mily knew of his Connexion with Marianne, it was a Circumstance not attended to by them, and if not by them, no other Person had any Concern in it. Madam de Berci trusting her Justification to Providence, con­soled herself with the Consciousness of her In­nocence; and in her Piety and Resignation to the Will of Heaven, found a Support that enabled her to undergo her Afflictions.

Mean time the Chevalier never one Mo­ment forgot the lovely Prisoner: as he could not solicit her Cause openly, he engaged all his Friends in her Interest; the Ardor and Zeal with which they undertook her Defence, were so much the greater, as they were con­vinced of her Innocence, and that of their Friend; even the Public, though often very unjust in its Censures, could not be persuaded that this brave Man was capable of commit­ting a Crime, so unworthy of his Courage, his Generosity, and his Birth, those only who were Strangers to his Fame and his great Qualities, and the Friends of the Count of Polan, whom he had killed in his last Duel, [Page 222] were capable of saying that he was the Author of so detestable an Action.

The two Marquesses de Saint-Sauveur were inconceivably afflicted for the Misfortunes of the Countess; but her Mother and her new Sister-in-law were in a Condition truly pitiable: the Sorrow of that tender Friend for the undeserved Sufferings of Madam de Berci was equal to that of her who had given her Birth. Under what fatal Auspices had Hymen lighted his Torch for her? Her Nup­tials resembled a Funeral rather than a Bridal Solemnity: Tears, Groans, and agonizing Aprehensions left no room for Love or Joy. None of the Relations of Madam de Berci en­tertained the slightest Suspicion of her Virtue; they were alike convinced of the Honour and Probity of the Chevalier; they knew where he lay concealed, and often visited him, to lament the hard Fate of the innocent Countess, and to concert Measures for her Relief.

That unfortunate Lady was not allowed the Consolation of seeing her Friends; her Father and Mother were denied Permission to visit her. Yet amidst this complicated Misery, her Mind was composed, her Behaviour expressed a calm and decent Sorrow, and in that the Death of her Lord had greater Part than her own Dis­grace and Danger.

The old Marquis de Saint-Sauveur, although he had a great Opinion of his Daughter's Vir­tue, [Page 223] and the highest Veneration for the Che­valier des Essars; yet was greatly surprised, when he was informed of the Circumstances of Marianne's Deposition, concerning the Chevalier's Passion for his Daughter. He re­solved to get some Explanation of this Mat­ter from him: for which Purpose he went alone to visit him one Day; and entering immediately upon the Point, he told him, that the only Circumstance which made his Daughter's Innocence doubtful, were the vio­lent Presumptions formed against her by the Judges on account of the Passion he was said to have entertained for her, and which was proved by the Depositions of the Count's Brother and her Woman.

The Chevalier was in some little Confu­sion at this Discourse; he blushed, and cast down his Eyes, for a few Moments he was silent, and in terrible Uneasiness. The old Marquis, in great Agitations, pressed him to speak: the Chevalier disdained a Lie, re-as­suring himself therefore in a Moment, he re­plied with that Confidence which is always the Companion of Innocence, and Rectitude of Mind:

‘It is true, my Lord, I do love the Coun­tess of Berci, your Daughter; I loved her before I knew her unfortunate Lord, whose Death you cannot more sincerely lament than I do. Her Beauty charmed me while I was yet ignorant of her being married, [Page 224] and when I knew it, her Wisdom and Vir­tue rivetted my Chains. She might possibly have been ignorant of this Passion till now, had I not discovered it by my Complaints in the Forest of Beauplan. I did not imagine I could be overheard amidst the Solitude of that vast Forest: I freely disburthened my Heart; and Chance brought the Countess and her Brother-in-law within Hearing. That young Lord for his Sister's Justifica­tion, ought to have remembered that I ex­pressed the sincerest Friendship for the Count, which my Actions have since proved; that I trembled lest my involun­tary Passion should offend the Virtue I adored; and that I hoped for no other Re­ward than her Compassion. I acknowledge farther, that I once had a private Interview with the Countess in the Castle of Beauplan: she granted me this Favour, in Considera­tion of the Service I had the good For­tune to do you. I had no Intention of making a Merit with her by that Service, as you, my Lord, well know, by my Soli­citude to conceal my Name. Madam de Berci saw me indeed, but it was to reprove me for my misplaced Love; she convinced me I could never hope to obtain any Favour of her inconsistent with the strictest Duty and tenderest Affection to her Lord; and what is more, she brought me myself to de­sire no other, to be contented with her Friendship, and to aim at no higher Satis­faction than the Glory of serving her Lord, [Page 225] and giving her such Proofs of my Passion, as the severest Virtue must not only not condemn, but approve. Is it possible, that the Judges should reflect upon the whole Tenor of my Conduct with regard to the Count of Berci, yet impute his Murder to me? Was it probable, that I would take a Voyage to Africa, in which I run the Risque of being delivered up to the Laws of my Country, which I had offended by kil­ling the Count of Polan, or of being made a Slave myself, to deliver the Count from his Fetters, only to become his Assassin? Did I expose my Life, to save his, at the Siege of Ostend, only to deprive him of it by a Midnight Murder when I returned into France? Ah! my Lord, do me the Justice to believe that I mention not these Things with any other View but to clear the Innocence of the Countess, and to de­fend my own Honour from the unjust Cen­sures that have been cast upon it. Yon Star that gilds the Firmament, is not clearer than your Daughter's Virtue, nor more spotless than her Mind. He who reads Hearts, who knows our Thoughts as they rise sponta­neous in the Mind, can witness how pure mine have been with regard to the Countess your Daughter. Ah! my Lord, if my Pas­sion for that virtuous Lady had been crimi­nal, if it had suggested base Desires, I should have rejoiced at the Captivity of her Lord, and not have exposed myself to Slavery to redeem him; to save him from Death, I [Page 226] should not have run between him and his Enemies, and received the Strokes aimed at his, upon my own Breast.’

‘Dear Chevalier, interrupted the old Mar­quis, convinced by the Force of these Rea­sons, forgive me for the Necessity I have laid you under of defending that Honour and Ge­nerosity of which my whole Family has had such striking Proofs; I am ashamed that I have for one Moment suffered a Doubt to rise in my Mind concerning your Love for my Daughter: that Love must have been honourable and pure; for mean and base Passions could never have a Place in such a noble Mind.— Once more forgive me, and allow me to hope that I have not forfeited your Friendship by this Trial of your Good­ness.’

The Chevalier made no other Answer than a strict Embrace to which the old Marquis had invited him, as he uttered these last Words, by opening his Arms, and going towards him. Tears of Joy and Tenderness fell from the Chevalier's Eyes at the reco­vered good Opinion of the Father of her, whom he so religiously adored; but these pleas­ing Emotions soon gave Way to others, cau­sed by the Remembrance of the Countess's Sufferings. They conferred together upon what Measures were proper to be taken to remove the Prejudices of the Judges: but all their Efforts were to no Purpose, the sup­posed [Page 227] Amour between the Chevalier and the Countess, gave every Thing so black an Ap­pearance on the Side of the Lovers, that those Magistrates issued an Order for Madam de Berci's being put to the Question to force her to reveal what she knew of the Assassina­tion of her Lord.

When this News was brought to the Family de Saint-Sauveur, the Grief they had hitherto suffered on account of her Imprison­ment was so light to that they now felt that they thought they had never been miserable till now, the whole House was filled with Cries and Lamentations, the unhappy Mother beat her groaning Breast, and prostrate on the Ground in agonising Sorrow, beseeched Heaven to have Mercy upon her Child. But the unfinished Prayer scarce passed her Lips when the Image of her Daughter's threatned Pains rising to her tortured Imagination, her Grief rose up to frensy, wildly she rent her reverend Hairs, and wrung her Hands, casting by Intervals her streaming Eyes to Heaven, from whence she only hoped Relief: the young Marchioness in the Arms of her Woman, fell into successive Faintings that made them tremble for her Life, the two Marquisses de Saint-Sauveur, endeavoured to console the Ladies, but wanted themselves the Support they would have given.

But no Words can describe the mingled Rage, Despair, and Anguish which took [Page 228] Possession of the Chevalier's Soul at the dreadful News, the very Idea of torturing that lovely Frame, drove him almost to Distraction, he could not bear to think her Ears had been wounded with the ignominious Sentence; regardless of his Safety he quitted his Retreat and flew to his own Hotel, where the Marquis de Saint-Sauveur, and his Fa­mily still resided. The Sight of his afflicted Friends gave him up for a few Moments to Tears:.. they could not speak to each other, no one could bear to mention the horrid Sentence. The Chevalier at length recollect­ing himself, and starting as if newly awaked from a frightful Dream, approached the wretched Mother and taking her Hand with a Countenance and Tone of Voice, that darted a Ray of Comfort into her Soul, thus spoke to her.

‘Heaven, Madam, has inspired me with a Design which may relieve the Countess, and restore you tranquility, suspend your Grief for a few Days and depend upon it, I will save her or perish in the Attempt.’ The old Marchioness could only press his Hand, and by an ardent Ejaculation, implore the Assistance of Heaven upon his Enter­prize, the Chevalier then taking the two Marquisses aside, told them that it being now near the End of Advent it was pro­bable the ignominious Sentence might be put in Execution before Christmas, he there­fore desired he would solicit the King, to put [Page 229] off by his Authority, the Decision of the Process, till after Twelfth-night. In great Afflictions it is natural for the Mind to fasten upon any thing that affords the least Probability of Relief: the well known Courage of the Che­valier, his enterprizing Temper, and the Prudence and Fortitude which he possessed in a very high Degree, gave such Force to his Assurances, that he would deliver the Countess from her Confinement, though with the Loss of his Life, if that short Interval could be obtained, that they readily, and not without some Degree of Hope, and Comfort, undertook, to procure, by the Mediation of their Friends, the required Delay. In Effect, the King, whose Indulgence for the charm­ing Sex, made up a great Part of his Charac­ter, was prevailed upon to interpose his Au­thority, to procure the unhappy Countess this short Relief. The Chevalier was over­ioyed, and immediately began to execute the Project he had formed.

Between the little Chatelet and the Bridge there is a Street inhabited only by Butchers, whither no one comes but such as have Oc­casion to purchase Meat, because it is not a Thoroughfare. The Chevalier, having long before been informed that the Chamber in which the unfortunate Countess was confined, looked into this Street, had, upon that Cir­cumstance, laid the Foundation of his Design. Having put on a plain Dress, and turned up his own fine Hair under a Wig, which served [Page 230] for a tolerable Disguise, he went very early in the Morning to this little Street, as at that Hour there was no Probability that any one would come to buy Provisions: he walked leisurely down it to take a View of the Situa­tion of the Countess's Prison, and observed that a Grate of the Chatelet looked upon a Window of a House which was so near it, that there was only the Breadth of that Street between them; the Grate was in­deed a little higher than the Window. The Chevalier was approaching this House, when he observed that the Mistress of it was em­ployed in opening her Shop; the Woman, struck with his Air and Mien, notwithstand­ing the Plainness of his Dress, was surprised to see a Person whom she concluded to be of some Rank, at that early Hour, in an unfre­quented Street. But the Chevalier did not give her Time to make many reflections; he accosted her with great Civility, and told her it was in her Power to do him a very considerable Service, which he would not fail to reward generously, and, as an Earnest of what he would farther do for her, in Case she was so good as to assist him, he begged she would accept that Trifle, saying which he put a Purse that contained fifty Crowns, in her Hand. The Woman was astonished at the Value of such a Present, which conciliated her good Will, even more than the insinuating Person and Address of the Chevalier, though Beauty never fails to have its due Weight [Page 231] with that Sex. She desired him to come in, and was prudent enough not to let him stand in the Shop, for fear of Observation; for she found her Interest engaged in this strange Gentleman's Business, whatever it might be, and that made her extremely wary. The Chevalier joyfully accepted of her Invitation; he followed her into the little Room she led to, and after prefacing his Story with some Praises of her Benevolence, which he accom­panied with a Salute and a gentle Pressure of her Hand, that extremely prepossessed her in his Favour; for Women in her low Class think themselves highly honoured by such Sort of Notice, from Men of the Rank the Cheva­lier appeared to be; he told her, that in the Chatelet there was Prisoner a Lady who was a near Relation of his; that he had the Ma­nagement of her Affairs, but that she had been so closely confined for some Time past, that he had not been able to give her any In­formations concerning her Process, nor to re­ceive any Instructions from her, all which was extremely prejudicial to her Cause. He assured her, that the Favour he required of her, could be productive of no Inconvenience either to her or her Husband, it being only to lend him for two or three Days a Room in her House that was opposite to the Grate; the Use, he intended to make of it, he said, was to convey a Letter to his distressed Rela­tion, to give her Notice of something which was of the utmost Consequence to her Safety. He concluded, with assuring her, that if God, [Page 232] through her Assistance, should enable him, as he hoped, to justify the Innocence of the La­dy, he would give her a much more consider­able Proof of his Gratitude than that she had already received.

The Populace of Paris are naturally com­passionate, they are always ready to assist any one in the Circumstances the Chevalier de­scribed this Lady to be in, when it is to cost them nothing, but when for that Assistance Gratuities so considerable as the Chevalier's Present, are offered, there is nothing but what may be expected from their obliging Of­ficiousness. The Woman, won by the Sum she had in Hand, and the flattering Hopes of a much greater, offered the Chevalier not on­ly that Room, but her whole House, if it could be of any Service to him, assuring him she would keep his Secret faithfully, which the Chevalier, having engaged her so far in his Interests, had no Reason to doubt. She began immediately to make good her Pro­mises, and conducted the Chevalier into the Room he desired to be shewn to. The Hus­band, upon hearing them there, ran to see who was with his Wife. She was young, and tolerably handsome: his Jealousy was awaken­ed at the Sight of a fine Gentleman in Con­ference with her, and he did not fail to give some Marks of his Dissatisfaction, but this lasted no longer than till he was informed of the Occasion of such a suspected Visit; the Sight of fifty Crowns instantly dispelled the [Page 233] Cloud on his Brow, and he surpassed his Wife in Civility, intreating the Gentleman to be assured that himself and all he had was at his Service. At any other Time the Chevalier would have smiled at such a sudden Transition from Disgust to a Profusion of Kindnesses; but the Importance of his Design filled all his Thought. The Butcher told him, that the Chamber which had that Grate in it, was the best in the Chatelet, where only Per­sons of Quality were used to be confined; and that he believed there was at present in it a Lady of Distinction, who was accused of being concerned with a Gallant in the Assas­sination of her Husband. The Chevalier could not help sighing at these Words, but recol­lecting himself, he desired the Man with great Composure, to bring him the necessary Materials for writing, his only View being to convey a Letter to the Hands of his Kins­woman. The Butcher flew to get him what he wanted, and the Chevalier having finished his Letter, fastened it to a small Cord, toge­ther with a little Inkhorn, some Paper, and a Pen. The Grate was double-barred, and very close, he saw it would be very difficult to throw in this little Packet, however he flung it several times, directing it as near as possible to the Mark, at last it had the good Fortune to enter; he let go the Packthread, that the Countess might draw it all in through this Grate. That unhappy Lady was upon her Knees just opposite to it; she saw something fall on the Ground, and her Imagination be­ing [Page 234] heated with the Fervency of her Devo­tion, she concluded that Heaven had heard her Prayer, and had sent her Comfort. She took up the Packet immediately, and drew in the rest of the Packthread, which was hang­ing on the Outside of her Chamber. The Paper, the Inkhorn, and the Pen, which she saw tied up all together, surprised her at first; for the Confusion of her Thoughts were so great that she could not guess for what Rea­son those Things were sent her: but when she opened the Chevalier's Letter, her Appre­hension was a little quickened. It contained these Words:

'MADAM,

‘Although I would sacrifice my Life, to free you from the smallest Uneasiness, yet at present I rather chuse to increase your Grief, by informing you of the Dangers with which you are threatened, than lose, by my Silence, the Means of delivering you from them. But, ah! Madam, how can I write the Words? You are to be sentenced immediately after Twelfth-night. Your Cou­rage, your Fortitude, your glorious Resig­nation, what will they all avail you against the cruel Fate that is preparing for you. But I cannot, will not, blot a Paper, which I hope will reach your lovely Hands, with the ab­horred Sentence. Let me conjure you, Ma­dam, by the heart-breaking Sorrows of your wretched Mother, by your Father's An­guish, the Tears of your new Sister, the [Page 235] Distress of your noble Brother, by the Af­fliction of all your Friends, who take such tender Interest in your Sufferings, do not oppose my Endeavours to set you free. I am authorised by your unhappy Parents to make some Attempt to save you; oh! be not blinded by false Honour to throw away a Life so precious. Let me have your Consent to deliver you, and hope every Thing from Heaven's Assistance, and my Zeal to serve you. I am now waiting for your Answer; as soon as you have wrote it, throw it out of your Grate, without troubling yourself about its Fate, only give me Permission, Madam, to save a Life upon which my own so absolutely depends.’

The Countess read this Letter with a Va­riety of strong Emotions: her Heart felt an involuntary Transport at this new Proof of the Chevalier's Tenderness and Constancy. She well knew his natural Intrepidity, and did not doubt but he was capable of under­taking any Enterprise to preserve her. That good Fortune which had hitherto always at­tended him in any hazardous Attempt, seem­ed to promise him Success in this: she could not think of being delivered from that Place of Horror, without indulging a momentary Joy, heigthened with the Reflexion that the Man to whom she was most willing to be obliged, would be her Deliverer. But this last Thought gave Rise to another, which filled her with Confusion and Uneasiness: [Page 336] she recollected, that this Deliverer, so dear to her, was, in the Opinion of the World, the Assassin of her Husband; if she accepted his offered Services, would it not confirm that horrid Suspicion, and be productive of Dangers to both? She could not bear the Thought of giving such a Sanction to the vile Reports that were spread of a guilty Commerce between her and the Chevalier, as the flying from her Prison would do. No, cried she weeping, let me die with the Satisfaction of having done nothing to de­serve the cruel Censures that have been past upon me. In vain she endeavoured to fortify herself against the Fears of Death, by a Con­sideration of what she owed her Honour: the very Idea of the cruel and ignominious Tor­ture she was to suffer, overthrew all her Constancy; and now wholly engrossed by those Terrors, she resolved to suffer no more Scruples to rise in her Mind, but rather hazard the Loss of her Reputation for a little Time, than lose it effectually, together with her Life. She had not sufficiently attended to the Force of the Chevalier's former Argu­ments against her trusting to the Judgments of Men, which cannot but be fallible. She had not Time to reflect on the Consequences of the Step she had determined to take. In that Enthusiasm, inspired by Innocence and Grief, she braved her Fate, and only sensible to Dishonour, feared neither the Horrors of a Prison, nor the threatened Death. Doubt­less, her Mind had been supported with the [Page 337] Hope that her Innocence would be manifest­ed in spite of the Malice of her Accusers, and that a short Disgrace would be recompensed by a noble Testimony to her Honour. But her Situation was now greatly altered, her Fame was wounded deeply, her Punishment was certain, and not far off.

One reasons very differently when a Dan­ger is near and unavoidable, from what one does while it is yet doubtful, and only threatens at a Distance. The Love of Life, so natural to a young and beautiful Woman, whose Heart was filled with the softest of all Passions, repelled every other Thought but what tended to her own Preservation: she no longer deferred taking her Resolution, it was to live, whatever Construction the World might put upon her Conduct. She made use of the Materials the Chevalier had sent her for writing, and answered his Letter in the following Manner:

‘I will abandon myself entirely to your generous Cares and ardent Desire to serve me, provided, that after you have delivered me from this Place of Horror, you will im­mediately resign me to my Father's Protec­tion; the Enterprize you have engaged in, is generous and noble, but, alas, Chevalier, it is very difficult to execute, but remem­ber, that I expect you will act with so much Prudence, that while you are endea­vouring to preserve my Life, you may not [Page 238] endanger your own. Restrain the Impetuo­sity of your Courage: in Affairs of this Na­ture the Arts of Contrivance are most wanted. Adieu, Chevalier. I shall be full of Anxiety, till I hear from you again.’

Although the Countess had entirely gained the Heart of the Woman who had been put about her, yet she did not think proper to impart her Secret to her so soon, she only told her, that a Friend, who was greatly in­terested in her Misfortunes, had found Means to convey a Letter to her, to comfort her under her severe Trials. The Pleasure the Woman expressed at hearing this small Piece of good Fortune for the Countess, made her, with good Reason, judge, that when Matters were riper she might safely engage her Assist­ance. The Chevalier mean time suffered great Uneasiness and Perplexity, while the Countess was employed in deliberating what Part she should take; and afterwards, in writing her Answer, the poor Chevalier, tor­tured with Anxiety, planted himself at the Chamber-window: his Eyes were continually turned towards the fatal Grate; he trembled lest he had mistaken the Room where the Countess was confined, and that the Letter had fallen into other Hands. But at length, after being long racked between Expectation and Fear, he saw a Bit of Paper fall into the Street, his Heart bounded to his Mouth, with trembling Impatience he ran down the Stairs to take it up, but could not come Time [Page 239] enough to prevent a Bailiff who had un­fortunately entered that Shop to buy some Meat, from seizing the Paper, which he was opening, when the Chevalier approached him, and desired him very civily to give it to him, saying, it was a Paper he himself had let fall. The Bailiff's Curiosity to see the Con­tents of that Paper, was greatly heightened by the apparent Agitation of the Chevalier: he was a little slow in returning it; the Che­valier almost distracted with his Fears of what might happen from such an unlucky Circum­stance, staid no longer to intreat, but snatcht the Paper out of his Hands, and run away as fast as his Legs could carry him, behind the Chatelet, on that Side near the Church of Notre Dame, with all the other Bailiffs who were then at the Barriere, and a confused Rabble at his Heels, who cried aloud, Stop, stop him, he has killed a Man. This Cry made several Persons throw themselves in his Way, and endeavour to seize him; but these Ene­mies were not near so formidable as those be­hind, he conceived he might easily terrify them by holding his drawn Sword in his Hand; and, in Effect, the Sight of it, and the Chevalier's threatening Looks, so intimi­dated them, that not one would venture to lay hold on him, but, on the contrary, opened him a Passage, through the Coaches and Chariots, with which the little Bridge is al­ways crouded. He escaped thus from the Croud, and going through By-streets, he ar­rived safe at the House of his Friend, where [Page 240] he read Madam de Berci's Billet with in­finite Satisfaction.

The Chevalier had not acquainted his Friend with his Design of delivering the Countess: but he now told it him, together with the Danger he had lately escaped. Monsieur la Ronvere, for that was the Name of this faithful Friend of the Chevalier's, blamed him greatly for his Rashness, and told him, that he, with less Danger and equal Success, might have transacted the Bu­siness with the Butcher and his Wife, and have conveyed the Letter to and from the Lady safe. The Chevalier embraced him tenderly, and thanking him for his Zeal, represented to him, that on this Occasion, if he attempted to serve the Countess, and was discovered, it might create a Suspicion that he lay concealed in his House, and if that happened, he should either be appre­hended, or obliged to leave Paris to avoid it; either of which, in the melancholy Si­tuation the Countess was in, would be worse than Death to him, as it would leave him no Possibility of assisting her.

‘But, interrupted Monsieur la Rouvere, in what manner do you propose to con­vey Letters to her now, for it would be Madness to prosecute your former Scheme. If you return again to the Butchers, you will infallibly have all the Bailiffs to con­tend with, and probably the Mob of Paris [Page 241] likewise, in which Case a Discovery of your Person would be the certain Consequence.’

‘I have thought of an admirable Expe­dient, replied the Chevalier after a little Pause, I will, as soon as it is Night, dress myself like a Beggar, and be so well disguised, that you shall hardly know me. I will creep along the Street asking Alms, till I get near the Chatelet, where I will attempt two Things, the one is, to send another Line to the Countess, by the same Conveyance as before; and the other, to procure, if possible, an Interview with the Turnkey of the Prison, and try, if, with the Hopes of a considerable Reward, I can prevail with him to let the Countess escape. Although I should spend all my Estate, pur­sued the Chevalier with great Emotion, in this Design, I shall yet be too happy and too rich if I procure her Liberty, for which I would readily sacrifice my Life.’

Monsieur la Ronvere approved of his Friend's Scheme: ‘But, in order to render the Success of it less uncertain, said he, I think it will be necessary that I should fol­low you at a Distance, with four or five Servants well armed, to prevent any Acci­dent happening to you, if you should be known; and I would advise you, continued he, to take Money with you to give imme­diately to the Turnkey, for you deceive yourself, if you imagine he will listen to [Page 242] your Proposals, unless he is softened by the Sight of that persuasive Metal. And it is possible, that, without such a powerful Ad­vocate, he may seize your Person for tempt­ing him to betray his Trust. I think in the Letter you write to the Countess, you should desire her to sound this Man; and if she finds him disposed to serve her, to tell him, that one of her Friends designed to have a Conference with him this Night, concern­ing her Affairs; she may likewise promise him a considerable Sum, which you shall fix in your Letter, and have it ready with you to give him, in case he complies. The Countess will certainly have a better Op­portunity to enter upon this Negotiation, than you can have, and when she has once begun, you may conclude it happily together.’

The Chevalier approved of his Friend's Advice, and waited with an ardent Impa­tience for the Hour in which he was to put his Project in Execution. After a short Din­ner, he wrote to the Countess, depending upon conveying it to her in the same manner as he had done in the Morning: he then put on some ragged Cloaths, torne Stockings, and an old Pair of Shoes, one of which wanted a Heel, and helped to give him a hobbling Gate; his Hair was all tied up under the miserable Remains of a Wig that had once been fair, but now looked like a darkish red; a large black Patch covered [Page 243] half one Side of his Face; and, upon the whole, he was so well disguised, that had he been met by his most intimate Friends, he would not have been known.

In this Equipage he set out in the Evening, followed at a distance by his Friend, and two stout Footmen. The Chevalier was not with­out Apprehensions of meeting with some un­lucky Accident, like that in the Morning, and was grieved that he had not been able to take his Sword along with him; for he was armed only with a little Poignard, which he concealed in his Breast. When he [...] [...]as [...]ed the Chatelet, he left the Barriere where the B [...] ­liffs sit, and on his left Hand, entered the [...] Street of the Butcher's, leaving his Friend and his Servants to walk leisurely between the little Bridge and the Entrance to the Street St. Jac­ques. He went immediately to his friendly But­cher, whom he found in great Concern about him; they did not know him again till he sp [...]ke to them, and overjoyed that he had so happily escaped from the Bailiffs and the Mob that had pursued him in the Morning, they con­ducted him instantly to the Chamber, from whence he had thrown his former Letter in­to the Grate, as he did this likewise, with equal Success. He desired the Countess in it to prepare the Turnkey for an Interview with him at Nine o'Clock that Night, and to let him know that he should receive five hun­dred Crowns in Hand, and a thousand [Page 244] more as soon as he had delivered up his Pri­soner.

The Countess, whose Thoughts had been busied in contriving Means to facilitate her Escape, ever since she had received the Che­valier's first Letter, had actually hit on the same Expedient, and had sounded the Turn­key that very Day: he had listened to her with great Attention and Complacency, but had promised nothing in particular, he only ex­pressed great Compassion for her Misfortunes, and an Inclination to do her all the Service that was in his Power. Madam de Berci was overjoyed to see a second Billet from the Chevalier fall into her Chamber; she was still more pleased with the Contents of it, and thought it a favourable Circumstance that the Chevalier and herself had made Choice of the same Scheme to effect her Liberty. She wrote an Answer immediately, in which she told the Chevalier, that she would give the Turnkey a Present when he came with her Supper, as usual, and make him the Offers mentioned in his Letter. She desired him not to come to the Chatelet till Ten o'clock at Night, at which Hour she hoped to prevail upon the Turnkey to meet him. The Chevalier went down into the Street, that he might be ready to take up the Countess's Billet as soon as he saw it fall: he had the good Fortune to secure it in his Pocket without being perceived. But he fell into another Scrape, which was much [Page 245] more dangerous than the Adventure that hap­pened to him in the Morning.

It was formerly a Custom in Paris, on Christmas Eve, for a Commissary, attended with a certain Number of Archers, to walk through the Streets, and take up all the Poor they met, who, during that solemn Festival, were carried by Force, if they would not go voluntarily, to a Place prepared for their Re­ception, where they were cloathed and sup­ported with the Money that was found in the Poor's Boxes in Churches, and with the Alms given by charitable Persons. The Chevalier, as he was returning to meet his Friends, was met by the Commissary and his Guard: the Archers concluding the Chevalier was a Beg­gar, invited him to follow them, he refused, and two or three of the Archers laid hold on him, in order to force him along with them, wondering at the Folly of the miserable Wretch, who refused to go to a Place where he would be cloathed and fed for a certain Number of Days; the Chevalier finding they were resolved to compel him to accept of this Charity, resisted them with so much Strength and Obstinacy, that they grew weary of con­tending with him, and left him at Liberty to go where he pleased. His Friend, who at a Distance saw what passed, advanced with his two Servants, under Pretence of asking what was the Matter, and favoured the Chevalier's Retreat. In Effect, he happily escaped this Danger, and arrived safe at his Friend's House, [Page 246] where he was soon followed by Monsieur le Ronvere, and they read Madam de Berci's Billet with great Joy. They entertained them­selves at Supper with the pleasing Hopes of soon freeing that persecuted innocent Lady from her Confinement: and as soon as they had supped, they went to present themselves at the Chatelet, at the appointed Hour. They were attended by several Servants well armed, so that if the Turnkey should prove perfidious, they were in a Condition to take Revenge on him, and to defend themselves against any that should offer to seize them.

In the mean time Madam de Berci took an Opportunity to speak to the Turnkey, when he brought her Supper into her Chamber. She had about four hundred Crowns in her Purse, which she divided between the Turnkey and the Woman that attended her: she told them, that she made them that Present in return for their obliging Behaviour to her, ever since she had been a Prisoner; and that, if God was pleased to make her Innocence manifest, and she was restored to her Liberty, she would give them further Proofs of her Gratitude. She mentioned the approaching Trial she was to undergo, and bursting into Tears, assured them that no Tortures should extort from her the Confession of a Crime she had never com­mitted, and if she died under them, she hoped Justice would be done to her Memory.

[Page 247]The Woman wept bitterly at this Dis­course; the Turnkey was greatly affected. A Lady so young, so lovely, of such high Birth, and in all Appearance so innocent, to be put to the Torture, was a Thought he could not endure: ‘how meritorious would it be, whispered he to the Woman, if we could preserve this Lady from the cruel Fate with which she is threatened!’ The Wo­man, although she durst not be the first to make such a Proposal, was overjoyed that he had mentioned it; she eagerly assured him, that she would run any Hazard to save her. The Countess observed their Whispers, her Heart divided between Fear and Hope, beat with unusual Violence. At length they ap­proached her, she waited trembling for the Result of their Conference, judging that her Destiny depended upon the Resolution they had taken. The Turnkey, addressing her with Tears in his Eyes, urged her to make her Escape; and both he and the Woman assured her that they would venture their Lives to assist her. He told her, that it should be his Part to deliver her out of Prison, provided she had any Person in whom she could con­side that would receive her from him at the Gate of the Chatelet, and conduct her out of Paris. The Countess was transported to see them enter so readily into her Measures: such unhoped-for good Fortune made her doubtful whether she was not in a Dream; but recollecting herself, she heedfully ob­served the Countenances of her two Friends, [Page 248] and saw so many Marks of real Sorrow and Tenderness imprinted on them, that she was persuaded they were sincere in their Profes­sions. She then opened herself more freely to them, and assured them that they should have no Reason to repent of what they did for her Service; that they might hope every thing from her Generosity and Gratitude, and that they should be largely recompensed for the Advantages they quitted in the Chatelet to set her at Liberty; that if he was in Ear­nest in his Offers, she had a Friend who would that very Night give him five hun­dred Crowns, and when he delivered her in to his Hands, a thousand more; she assured him, that he might depend upon this Pro­mise, but that he must be also exact in the Performance of his; for that if he should fail, no Place on Earth would be able to shelter him from the Vengeance of her Friend. She added, that he might make his Fortune in one Day if he pleased, and he enabled to quit a Profession, which could not but be very disagreeable to one who had any Humanity or Generosity.

The Turnkey unalterably fixed in his Re­solution of delivering her by such great Of­fers, assured her with the most sacred Oaths, that he would perform his Promise in the Countess then shewed him the Letter she had received from the Chevaller, and it was resolved that the Turnkey should give him a Meeting that Night, in order to receive the [Page 249] five hundred Crowns, and to six the Day for her Escape.

The Turnkey did not fail to go out of the Chatelet at the appointed Hour, and seeing two Men at a little Distance from the Gat [...], he concluded they must be the Lady's Friends, who were waiting for him. One of them, who was the Chevalier des Essars, advanced immediately; and asked him, if it was he that carried Provisions into the Chamber of a Lady who was Prisoner in the Chatelet? The Turnkey replied, he was, and that the Lady had sent him to confer with him concerning the Means to set her at Liberty. The Che­valier was overjoyed at these Words: he found by them that Madam de Berci had been successful, and taking out of his Pocket a Purse in which were five hundred Crowns in Gold, ‘Friend, said he to the Turnkey, putting it into his Hand, receive this small Earnest of my Gratitude, and depend upon being rewarded with a Sum much larger, provided you will To-morrow deliver your Prisoner into my Hands. But do not de­ceive me, added he, for if you do, I will take away your Life, though I sacrifice my own.’ ‘I will not deceive you, replied the Turnkey, receiving the Purse, but I cannot promise you to free the Lady before Saint John's Day: my Master always keeps that Festival, and makes a great En­tertainment in the Chatelet, to which all his Friends and Relations are invited; they [Page 250] will not fail to drink deep, and I hope I shall find some Opportunity that Evening to acquit myself of the Promise I have made you to deliver the Lady; that Pro­mise I here repeat to you, Monsieur, and engage at the Hazard of my Life to bring the Lady at Twelve o'Clock that Night to the New-market, where you must be ready to receive her, but till then you must have Patience; and do not attempt to convey any more Letters to her, for fear any thing should happen that may discover the Correspondence we hold together. Again, Monsieur, I beg you to rely upon my Sincerity, and doubt not but I will faithfully perform my Promise.’

The Turnkey then urged him to depart, lest they should by some prying Eye be ob­served in Discourse together. The Chevalier repeating his Promise of a further Reward, and recommending Caution and Zeal in the Lady's Service, rejoined his Friend, to whom he related all that had passed between him and the Turnkey. This fortunate Beginning seemed such an Earnest of happy Success, that the Chevalier resigned himself up to a Joy he had long been unacquainted with. He would not Delay a Moment relieving the Anxiety of the sorrowing Parents: before he went to his Friend's Hotel, he called upon the Marquis de Saint-Sauveur, and gave him Hopes that he should behold his Daughter at Liberty. The Chevalier did not think it [Page 251] proper to toll them what Measures he was pursuing to bring about this happy Event; but those few Words transported them with Joy. They endeavoured to interest all Heaven in his Favour, by the most ardent Supplica­tions, and he retired loaded with their Bles­sings and Praises.

The next Day, the Turnkey informed Madam de Berci of his having settled every thing with her Friend, and that on the Festi­val of Saint John he hoped to be able to deliver her into his Hands. How sweet were the Hopes of Liberty to that unhappy Lady, who had so long languished amidst the Hor­rors of a Prison. She now for the first time since her Entrance into that fatal Place, felt some Remission of her Grief. Her Mind admitted a Hope of once more being happy. She dwelt with Pleasure on the Remembrance of all the Services she had received from the Chevalier, and having no longer tyrannic Duty to combat with, indulged a Tenderness authorized by her Husband's dying Command, and his own exalted Merit. In such agreeable Reflexions, she lessened that Interval of Time which otherwise would have appeared so te­dious. Yet she was often alarmed with Fears that their Enterprize would be discovered, and that Anxiety, so natural to Persons in Suspence, sometimes damped her Joy for the near Prospect of her Liberty, and gave her up to Terror and Despondence.

[Page 252]At length, the Day so impatiently wished-for appeared. The Jailor celebrated the Festi­val with a great Entertainment as usual. They prolonged the Debauch to a later Hour than ever they had done before, which was a very unfavourable Circumstance. The Turn­key had given Notice to the Countess and the Chevalier to hold themselves in Readiness at Eleven o'Clock, the one in her Chamber, the other at the New-market. They both were persuaded, that if they lost this Opportunity, it would be very difficult to find another; and that it would not be possible to procure a further Delay of the Sentence against the Countess. The Chevalier posted himself with his Friend, and four other Gentlemen well armed, at the appointed Place. With such an Escort they had nothing to fear from the Archers, if they should be betrayed; and they were determined, if they once got the Coun­tess out of the Chatelet, to kill all that op­posed them, rather than suffer her to be taken from them. When the Clock struck Eleven, an universal Trembling seized the poor Coun­tess, her Heart beat, as if it would leave her Breast, anxiously she listened to every little Noise, and longed, with eager Impatience, to hear the softly treading Foot of her Deliverer nor was the Chevalier under less Agitations, when he heard the important Hour strike; Fear and Hope, for some Moments, equally divided his Soul; but when he found the Turnkey did not appear, he was almost dis­tracted, he thought his beloved Countess [Page 253] wholly lost, and in the Agony of his Grief and Despair, he was for going forward to the Chatelet, and making some desperate Attempt to relieve her.

The Turnkey at length appeared, but with­out the Countess: the Chevalier des Essars transported with Rage, was for sacrificing him instantly to his Revenge, supposing he had betrayed him. The Turnkey seeing the Che­valier advance in a threatening Posture, beg­ged him to listen patiently to him for one Moment: he then assured him, that nothing had hindered him from performing his Pro­mise, but the unexpected Stay of the Guests to a later Hour than usual; that they were now all gone, and that his Master was pre­paring to go to Bed, where he did not doubt but he would be soon fast asleep; for he had drank deep, and was greatly intoxicated. He intreated him to wait patiently a little Time longer, when he would infallibly bring out the Prisoner.

This Assurance calmed the Rage of the Chevalier, and dissipated his Uneasiness; but the poor Countess was in dreadful Agonies. She had counted the Hour by several dif­ferent Clocks, which she heard, strike, but not seeing her Deliverer, she flattered her­self that her Impatience had made her mis­take. The Turnkey, terrified by the former Menaces of the Chevalier, was only soli­citous about satisfying him, without giving [Page 254] himself any Trouble to calm the Fears of the Countess. As the Minutes rolled away, her Apprehensions increased; yet still she fain would have persuaded herself, that she had miscounted the Hour, and this Thought left her some faint Remains of Hope which supported her fluttering Spirits, till the Clock struck, and she reckoned Twelve. At this sad Confirmation of her Fears, a mortal Pale­ness overspread her Face; her trembling Knees could no longer support her Weight, she sunk down upon a Chair, and losing all Hopes of Liberty and of Life, she abandoned herself-to an Excess of Despair.

Amidst these Agonies, more cruel than the Tortures she dreaded, the Turnkey sud­denly opened the Door of her Chamber, and desired her to follow him: his unexpected Sight had such an Effect upon the Countess, that she fell fainting into the Arms of the Woman who attended her; her Mind tor­tured at first by Suspense, and afterwards sunk in the most deep Despair, could not bear the overwhelming Joy which the sud­den Transition from certain Death, to Li­berty and Safety gave her. She continued a long Time deprived of Speech and Sense, and in all Appearance dead.

The Turnkey, surprized at this Accident, and dreading the fatal Consequences of it, knew not what to do. The Woman, who was likewise a Witness of so sad a Spectacle, [Page 255] was so much terrified, that she was for seve­ral Moments incapable of giving her any Assistance. But after they had thrown some Water on her Face, she gave Signs of return­ing Life; the Turnkey repeatedly cried to her that her Friends were waiting for her. That welcome Sound, at length, recalled her scattered Spirits, she opened her Eyes, and the Turnkey urging her to depart im­mediately, lest they should be prevented, Fear gave her Strength in an Instant; the Woman lent her her supporting Arm, while the Turnkey softly walked before with a Light; with eager, though trembling Stept, she quitted that horrible Place. When she had got without the Gate, she thought her­self secure, and now light as the Wind, her willing Feet carried her along; she hardly touched the Ground, and flew rather than walked to the Place where the Chevalier and his Friends were waiting for her with great Anxiety. The Chevalier received her with a thousand Transports of Joy: his Friend congratulated her on her recovered Liberty, in Terms that shewed the highest Satisfaction; they put her and the Woman who had attended her in the Prison, and who never after quitted her, into a Coach they had brought-with them, and giving the Turn­key the promised Reward, they left him to provide for his own Safety, and went after the Coach, together with the four Gentle­men who had followed them in this dan­gerous Enterprise. The Coach brought the [Page 256] Countess safe to the House of the Chevalier's Friend, where he had lain so long concealed, and where Messieurs de Saint-Sauveur, with their Ladies, were expecting her and her ge­nerous Rescuers, with Agitations that can bet­ter be imagined than described.

The Countess eagerly entered the Room where her Relations were: her Sight drew a joyful Exclamation from her Brother and Sister-in-law, who sprung to meet her; her Eyes with speaking Tenderness returned their raptured Welcomes; but her Feet sponta­neous carried her to her Mother's Chair, whose strong Emotions had rendered unable either to rise or speak; Madam de Berci threw herself on her Knees before her, and taking a Hand of each dear Parent, as they sat close together, she put them to her Lips in a pa­thetic Silence, for her Heart was too full to speak. The overjoyed Mother hung over her with Tears of Tenderness and Transport; the no less transported Father embraced her as she kneeled, and with lifted Eyes adored the gra­cious Providence that had restored to him his Child. The young Marquis and his Lady, impatient to fold their beloved Sister in their Arms, stood close beside her, each with Arms extended for the wished Embrace; while the Chevalier and his Friend, extremely affected with this tender Scene, stood at some Distance contemplating it. What sweet Emotions then filled the Breast of the Chevalier, at see­ing the Object he had so long adored, so long [Page 257] lamented, restored by him to Liberty, to Life, and to the tender Gratulations of her Friends. No Wonder, that his Heart entertained a Hope of being one Day rewarded with the Possession of her whom he had so faithfully served.

When the first Transports for this happy Meeting were a little abated, and their Joy [...]ound vent in Words: a thousand rapturous Welcomes were given the Countess, a thou­sand Blessings pronounced on the Chevalier, who had so generously exposed his Life, to deliver her; nor was Monsieur la Ronvere's Kindness unacknowledged by the whole late sorrowing, now rejoicing Family. The Morn­ing appeared e'er they could be persuaded to separate; but the Chevalier representing to them that it might raise some Suspicions if they were not seen, as usual, at their own Hotel, the two Marquisses and their Ladies, with extreme Reluctance, returned Home, and left the Countess to recruit her wasted Spirits, in Slumbers more tranquil than any she had for a long Time tasted.

The Countess's Escape from the Chatelet was not [...]o soon discovered, as they had Reason to apprehend; for the Jailor, from the Effects of the Night's Debauch, lay late in Bed, and when he got up, was so much disordered, that for several Hours he could not, as usual, visit his Prisoners, to see if all were safe. At length, however, he took his [Page 258] accustomed Rounds: when he came to the Chamber where the Countess had been con­fined, and found the Door open, and no one within, he grew pale with Fear and Amaze­ment, and dreaded to make any Enquiries, lest his Apprehensions should be turned into Certainties. His Wife having just then been informed, that the Turnkey had not been seen in the Chatelet that Day, came to ac­quaint her Husband with the News, and was astonished to see him gazing wildly round the Lady's Chamber, with all the Marks of Terror and Dismay imprinted on his Coun­tenance.

‘Do you know, cried she, pulling him by the Sleeve, that the Turnkey is fled?’ The Jailor, at these Words, starting as from a Dream, sent forth a Volly of Execrations, and tearing his Hair, roared out that he was ruined, the Lady had made her escape, and the wicked Turnkey, it was plain, had assisted her, and was fled with her. The Wife taking in instantly all the fatal Consequences of this Flight, intreated her Husband to compose himself, and to endeavour privately to discover what Way the Fugitives had taken, and get them again into his Hands. ‘It will be Time enough, said she, to declare their Flight, when you have lost all Hopes of recovering them. You will unavoidably be turned out of your Employment, as soon as it is known that this Accident happened through your Intemperance, therefore, by keeping it [Page 259] secret, you will only defer your Fate a little longer, if you do not succeed in your Attempts to get back your Prisoner, and if you do, you will have nothing to fear.’

The Jailor relished this Reasoning, al­though it was very absurd; for he ought im­mediately to have given Notice to the Of­ficers of Justice, that the Countess had escaped, that she might have been immediate­ly pursued; his Wife, however, was willing to put off the evil Moment as long as she could. This Procrastination saved the Coun­tess, as it gave her Friends Time to settle the Method of her Flight.

Messieurs and the Ladies de Saint-Sau­veur returned to the House of Monsieur la Ronvere the next Day, as secretly as possible, in order to consult with the Countess and her Friends upon the Measures they were to take to keep her concealed. They did not doubt but her Flight from the Chatelet was already publicly known, and that she would be sought for with the utmost Diligence. This Thought gave them great Uneasiness; such is the Vicissitude of human Passions, and of Affairs below: Hope and Fear, Joy and Sorrow, succeed each other naturally, as Darkness to the Light.

The Transport which the Relations of the Countess had felt for her Deliverance, now gave way to their Sorrow for her Departure, [Page 260] which for many obvious Reasons, it was ab­solutely necessary should be sudden. While they were deliberating in great Confusion and Anxiety upon the Measures she should pur­sue. Monsieur la Ronvere, who had very prudently been in Search of News that Morn­ing, supposing the Town would be full of the Countess's Escape, returned pleasingly sur­prized, to tell the perplexed Family, that Madam de Berci was either not yet missed, or the Jailor, for Considerations in which him­self was concerned, had certainly concealed her Flight, that therefore they need not pre­cipitate their Resolutions, but take Time to deliberate upon the Course which was now most proper to pursue.

The Countess proposed retiring to Burgun­dy, where she might remain in Safety, in a Castle belonging to the Marquis de Saint-Sau­veur, her Father; the natural Strength of the Place, and the great Affection all the Gentle­men in that Province bore her Family, made that appear to her the securest as well as the most decent Retreat, as it was not likely they would suffer any Violence to be offered to her there. The old Marquis was of Opinion, that to attempt to secure his Daughter by Force, was an Insult to the Authority of Justice, and the highest Disrespect to the So­vereign, who would undoubtedly, if thus braved by his Subjects, make himself be obeyed in his own Kingdom, in spite of all Obstacles. It was then proposed by the young [Page 261] Marquis, that his Sister should leave France, and till this Storm that threatened her Life and Honour, was laid, reside in some foreign Country. Flanders was unanimously allowed to be the fittest Retreat for her, the City of Brussels in particular, where she had a Kins­woman, with whom she could stay with Ho­nour. This Lady was Wife to the Ambassa­dor from France to the Archduke, and had always had a great Friendship for Madam de Berci. It was therefore concluded, that she should set out early the next Morning, with an Escort able to defend her against any At­tempts that might be made upon her Liberty. Monsieur la Ronvere engaged the four Gentle­men, who had assisted in carrying the Coun­tess from the Chatelet, to accompany him in guarding her to the Frontiers: they were likewise to be attended by a good Number of their Servants, well armed; and they de­clared, that they would not quit the Lady, till they delivered her safe to the Ambassa­dress.

The Chevalier, with eager Joy, seized this new Opportunity of shewing his Zeal and Ardor in the Service of his beloved Coun­tess: no Intreaties could dissuade him from attending her in this Journey; and he re­solved not to quit her any more till her In­nocence was made manifest in the Eyes of all France.

[Page 262]When it was fully determined, that the Countess should retire to Brussels, and all the necessary Preparations for her Journey were made, they next consulted upon the Measures to be taken in order to discover the Author of the Count's Assassination, by which alone she could be cleared, as well as the Chevalier, upon whom the Weight of this Accusation fell. The Count's Hint relating to Marianne, the conscious Look he gave her, her extreme Confusion in Consequence of it, and her diabolical Malice in accusing the Countess, were the Points now discussed. Madam de Berci listened attentively to the different Opinions that were formed upon this Wretch's Behaviour: some Suspicions suddenly darted into her Mind; Marianne's scandalous Intrigue with Verague rushed up­on her Remembrance; she thought she ought not to conceal a Circumstance of such Im­portance from her Family, however unwilling she was to discover the infamous Secret, and which her Delicacy considered as a kind of Recrimination. Her Friends greatly blamed her for so long suppressing a Circumstance of such a Nature, and, with good Reason, form­ed violent Suspicions against Verague. The young Marquis de Saint-Sauveur was commis­sioned immediately to make some Inquiries after that Gentleman: he went to his House, and was told that he was not at home; the Marquis asked so many Questions concern­ing him, and so artfully examined the Ser­vant who answered him, that at last he [Page 263] learned that Verague had left Paris fifteen Days before, and was gone to pass some time in travelling. When he returned to his Friends with this Account, no one doubted but that Verague was the real Assassin. But as they could, as yet, prove nothing, it was judged proper to keep their Suspicions secret from all but Monsieur de Berci, who was as well as them, greatly interested in revenging his Bro­ther's Murder. As he truly esteemed and loved his Sister-in-law, he was rejoiced to hear of her Escape from Prison; and resolved, together with the young Marquis de Saint-Sauveur, to go in Search of the Murderer, and, if possible, bring him to Justice.

At length the cruel Moment came that was to separate the Countess of Berci from her afflicted Friends: they had no Leisure to in­dulge Tears and Embraces; sudden and sad their Parting was. The old Marquis, his Lady, and Daughter-in-law, not being al­lowed to follow her to the Coach, for fear of giving Suspicion, pressed her each in their Arms, and withdrew, in silent Anguish, at Eight o'Clock at Night. She entered, drown­ed in Tears, a Coach drawn by six Horses, which waited for her at a private Gate of Monsieur la Ronvere's House. All her female Attendants were the Woman who had fled with her from the Chatelet, and a young Maid that belonged to the Marchioness, her Mother. The Chevalier des Essars, attended [Page 264] by his Gentleman, a Valet de Chambre, and a Biscayan, of whose Fidelity he was well as­sured, mounted their Horses, as did likewise Monsieur la Ronvere, and the four Gentle­men before mentioned, and followed the Coach at a small Distance; they went all out of Paris by the Gate of St. Denis, and took the Rout through Picardy to Flanders. They soon reached Cambray, having travelled with great Speed, and resting there one Day, pursued their Journey, but with less Haste and Fatigue, as they were now out of Dan­ger. The Chevalier finding there was no­thing farther to apprehend, intreated Mon­sieur la Ronvere and his Friends to return to Paris with all possible Diligence, lest if their Absence should be known, they might pro­bably be supposed to have been of their Par­ty. He as well as the Countess expressed the highest Acknowledgments for the Services they had received from him and his gene­rous Friends. It was with Difficulty that the Chevalier could prevail upon them to re­turn, till they had seen the Countess safe at Brussels; but the Reasons he urged for their Departure being unanswerable, they at length separated, not without some Tears, and ma­ny affectionate Wishes on both Sides.

From Cambray to Brussels the Chevalier gave his Horse to his Valet to lead, and seat­ed himself by the Countess in the Coach. The continual View of an Object, whom he so ardently loved, soon banished all Re­membrance [Page 265] of his past Misfortunes, and left him no leisure to reflect on any of those with which he was still threatned. A thousand soft Emotions filled his Breast, but his Respect for the Countess whom he saw buried in a pro­found Sadness, and the Regard he owed to the Memory of his late Friend, represt the Violence of his Passion, and obliged him to such a reserved and distant Behaviour, as left the Countess no cause to complain of him; and indeed during the whole Journey, his tender Assiduity, and his solicitude and Ea­gerness to serve her, were the only indica­tions he gave of a Flame, the most pure and constant that ever warmed a Heart. The Countess was too generous not to give this Moderation, all the Weight it ought to have, her Gratitude so much engaged already, every Hour added to the Debt, the tender Awe, so apparent in the Chevalier's Behaviour, the conscious Love that sparkled in his Eyes, yet when they met hers reluctently withdrawn, lest they should too plainly discover all that passed in his Heart, were such Indications of uncommon Delicacy and Respect, as could not fail of making a very great Impression on a Heart so generous as hers. With such a mutual Reserve did these two Lovers pass the happiest Moments of their Lives, the only Opportunities they ever had to declare their Sentiments to each other, were Sacrificed to Delicacy and to Grief.

[Page 266]As soon as they arrived at Brussels, Madam de Berci dispatched a Messenger with a Letter to the Ambassador's Lady, acquainting her with the Situation of her Affairs, and the De­sign she had of throwing herself into her Pro­tection: that Lady no sooner received it than she ordered her Coach to be made ready, and went herself to fetch her Kinswoman from the Inn she had put up at; such an Instance of Respect joined to the affectionate Reception she gave the Countess, made the Chevalier en­tertain a high Opinion of the Merit of that Lady. Few Persons know how to confer Favours on the Unfortunate, the highest De­licacy must accompany Acts of Benevolence to true Merit and Dignity in Affliction, if we would not oppress that Heart, we intend to relieve, The Chevalier went that Day to pay his Respects to the Arch-Duke, that Prince received him in the most gracious Manner imaginable, the great Actions he had performed in France, and even in Holland, tho' against himself, inspired him with Ad­miration and Esteem for such extraordinary Valour. He loaded him with Favours, in Hopes to bring him over to his Service, and offered him a very considerable Pension to engage him to fix himself in his Court, but the Chevalier had too much Greatness of Mind to secure his Safety by Concessions in­consistent with the strictest Honour. He in­treated his Highness not to be offended with him for refusing the Offers he was pleased to make him, he assured him that although he [Page 267] had incurred the Displeasure of his King, rather indeed by his Misfortune than his Fault, yet that he was resolved to continue faithful to him till his Death; but at the same Time he expressed the highest Acknowledge­ments to the Arch-Duke, for his offered Bounty, and declared that he would be always ready to shed his Blood in Support of his Interests, uninfluenced by any Reward, when he could do so without violating the Duty he owed his lawful Sovereign.

The Arch-Duke was generous enough to applaud a Conduct which opposed his Desires, he was charmed with his disinterested Loyalty, and gave him publick Testimonies of his Esteem. As the Chevalier conceived he had only performed his Duty by rejecting the Arch-Duke's Offers, he did not repent of what he had done, although he found himself still persecuted by his Prince, for Henry was no sooner informed that the Countess and he had retired to Brussels; but he sent Orders to his Ambassador there to arrest them both and send them under a strong Guard to Paris. The Ambassador's Lady greatly concerned that she could no longer protect her unfor­tunate Kinswoman, acquainted her immedia­tiately with the Orders her Husband had re­ceived. It was resolved she should leave Brussels with as much Expediton and Se­cresy as possible, and retire to Friesland. The Chevalier insensible to his own Mis­fortunes, only lamented those of the Countses. [Page 268] She again set out under his Convoy, and they arrived safely in Friesland, where they hoped to remain for some Time in Tranquility, but Fortune was not yet weary of persecuting the Countess of Berci, her Charms had not suffered any Dimunition from the Distresses she had been in, her Countenance shewed indeed that her Mind was not at ease, but that soft Lan­guor, with which it was overspread, carried a secret Influence that no Heart could resist. No one could behold her without feeling pity for her Sorrows whatever they were, and Pity for so lovely an Object, soon ripened into a more tender Passion: it was thus that a No­bleman of Friesland found himself captivated with the melancholly Fair One, before he was aware, but presuming upon his Rank and Fortune, he was at no Pains to desguise his Passion, the Chevalier des Essars had per­ceived it before he himself could give a Name to his Sentiments. Nothing is so quick sighted as the Eyes of a Lover, all his Con­fidence in the Justice and Generosity of Ma­dam de Berci could not hinder him from feel­ing the most cruel Torments at the Thoughts of this new Conquest, but dreading to offend her, by a Jealousy so injurious to that perfect Esteem she exprest for him, he imposed Si­lence upon his Tongue, and had it been possible would have regulated his Looks in such a Manner, that they should not have given the least Indication of the torturing Anguish that preyed upon his Soul.

[Page 269]The Countess was not long before she dis­covered the painful Situation of her Lover. The Restraint he laid upon himself in not dis­closing the Cause of it to her, was a new Proof of his Respect which claimed some Re­turn. She was resolved not to let him lan­guish any longer under such cruel Enquietude, and was therefore the first to propose leaving Friesland, she alledged that the Air of that Province did not agree with her consti­tution, and she desired he would conduct her as soon as possible to some Place where her Health might be less endangered. The Che­valier who did not penetrate into the Coun­tess's secret Reasons for being desirous to leave Friesland was excessively rejoyced that a Proposal so agreeable to his Wishes had first come from herself, he would have been wretched had he imagined she had perceived his Jealousy, for although in Lovers it may be considered as a Proof of the Violence of their Passion; yet in a favoured one it argues some injurious Distrust of his Mistress, which a Woman of any Delicacy cannot easily prevail upon herself to pardon. The Chevalier therefore wisely concealing the particular Interest he had in the Countess's leaving Friesland, replied calmly that he would attend her when ever she pleased, and advised her to make Gascony the Place of her Retreat, he assured her that in that Province there were several strong Castles, at so great a Distance from the Court that they need not be under any Apprehensions of being surprized, although it [Page 270] should be discovered that they were there, he added that by being nearer their Friends and Estates they might avoid many Inconve­niencies to which they were now subjected in that Country.

The Countess approved of his Advice, but being resolved to take no Step of that Kind without first consulting her Father, she told the Chevalier that they must defer their Departure till she had wrote to the Marquis de Saint-Sauveur and received his Answer. It was not long before the Answer they waited for arrived, it filled the Countess of Berci with Joy, but it was not favourable to the Wishes of the poor Chevalier, as he found he should for a long Time be deprived of the Presence of her who was dearer to him than any other Person in the World.

The old Marquis de Saint-Sauveur, in­formed his Daughter that the Count of Berci, for so we must now call her Brother-in-law, had left Paris, together with the Marquis his Son, to go in search of Verague, that he him­self was preparing to go to Court to solicit a Pardon for the Chevalier des Essars on Ac­count of his Duel with the Count of Polan, that he would engage so many Persons of Dis­tinction in his [...]se, and use such Methods as he hoped would entirely undeceive the grand Monarque, who had suffered himself to be influenced by his Regard for the Favourite to the Prejudice of the Chevalier. ‘When his [Page 271] Pardon, for the Death of the Count of Polan, is obtained, added the old Marquis; he will then be at Liberty to come and defend his Innocence with Regard to the Accusation he suffers under, as well as you; but till this is effected, I desire you will set out immediately to attend the Mar­chioness your Mother, who will not be able in the Grief she is in for your Absence, to support the additional Weight of mine.’ He then advised his Daughter to take her Rout through Germany and Franche Comte, from whence she might travel to Burgundy with less Danger of a Discovery, and con­cluded with the most affectionate Prayers for her Health and Safety.

The Chevalier was greatly afflicted at this unexpected Order, he had been used for some Time past to the Sight of his dear Countess, almost every Day: the Idea of a long Absence plunged him into the most cruel Despair, yet he resolved to make a generous Effort upon himself, and give Madam de Berci a new Proof of his Love, by obeying without mur­muring the Commands of her Father. The Agonies it cost him to make this Resolution, were but too visible in his Countenance and Behaviour, the tender Sorrow that languished in his Eyes, his painfully suppressed Sighs, the Solitude he now courted to indulge a Melancholly, which even in her presence seemed wholly to engross him, could not escape the Notice of Madam de Berci, and [Page 272] filled her with sympathising Grief. So per­fect a Resignation to her Father's Will, such a boundless Respect for hers, even to the Loss of all his Happiness, touched the Heart of the Countess more than the most pathetick Complaints could have done, she resolved to neglect nothing which depended meerly upon herself, to calm his Griefs, and to enable him to support her Absence. After enumerating to him all the Obligations he had conferred upon her Family and herself, she assured him that her Gratitude being so much engaged by his Services, her Heart had readily received the tender Impression, a Passion so pure and disinterested had inspired. — Here she stoped abruptly, when the Chevalier in a Transport of Joy threw himself upon his Knees, and besought her to have Compassion upon the miserable Condition to which he should be reduced if she suffered him to leave her without giving him her Hand. ‘Let me have the unspeakable Happiness Madam, cried he, to call you mine, before this cruel Parting. How shall I support your Absence if any Possibility remains of losing you? if the Torments I have so long en­dured while I languished with a hopeless Passion, have any Claim to your Pity, if my Fidelity has any Title to reward; Oh! soften the Pangs of Separation, by consent­ing to be mine.’ Madam de Berci was greatly affected with this passionate Sup­plication, but she would not leave her Lover a Moment in Suspence upon a Point [Page 373] whereon she herself was so absolutely de­termined; her Tenderness for a Man so worthy of her utmost Esteem had at all Times yielded to her Duty, nor would she suffer it now to triumph over the care of her Reputation: after obliging him to rise, she re­presented to him with her usual Sweetness, that a Marriage solemnised in a foreign Country, while they were accused of the Assassination of her deceased Lord, would cover them both with Infamy; that the Duty and Respect she owed her Parents required that her Choice should have the Sanction of their Consent, and her Reputation was too dear to her to suffer her to think of Mariage till her Innocence was as well known to the World, as it was to her own Heart: she assured him that when they had triumphed over the Malice of their Accusers, and that they were fully justified in the sight of all France, she would follow the Impulse of her Gratitude and Tenderness, that Absence should never weaken her Regard for him, or blot him for one Moment out of her Re­membrance, and that if the Malice of their Fate should make it impossible for her to be his, she never would be anothers.

The Chevalier yieled to the Force of her Reasons, and with the most tender Transports received the Assurances she was pleased to give him of being only his. Again at her feet he vowed eternal Constancy. Madam de Berci could not hide her Emotion when with a res­pectful [Page 274] Awe he took her Hand, and sealed his Vows upon it with his Lips, while a struggling Sigh seemed to rend that manly Heart which was the Seat of every Virtue, and Tears of mingled Grief and Tenderness gushed from his Eyes; she hastily withdrew her Hand, but not till by an almost imperceptible Pres­sure of his, she shewed she was not offended at the Favour he had snatched, and retiring to her own Apartment, indulged the sweetly painful Emotions of her Soul, in Tears that she had hitherto with Difficulty restrained.

The Preparations for their Journey being made with the utmost Privacy, and Expedition, the Countess and the Chevalier set out very early in the Morning, in a Coach escorted by their Servants well mounted and armed, one of whom led a Horse for the Chevalier to make use of upon Occasion. They con­tinued their Rout two Days without Interrup­tion, but on the Third the Chevalier's Gen­tleman came up to the Coach and told him that they were pursued by six Horse­men who would infallibly be up with them in a few Minutes. The Chevalier instantly leaped out of the Coach, and mounted his Horse, leaving Madam de Berci almost fainting with her Fears; it was in vain that he pro­tested to her he would lose his Life rather than suffer her to fall under the Power of her Enemies, so sad an Alternative only increased her Grief, with Eyes and Hands lifted up, she earnestly implored the Assistance of Hea­ven, [Page 275] and collecting all her Fortitude to her Aid, silently waited the Issue of this Adventure. The Chevalier had ordered the Coach to go on, while he with his Gen­tlemen, his faithful Biscayan, and two Gentle­men of Friesland, waited undauntedly for the Enemy. As soon as they came near, the Chevalier knew the foremost to be the Ger­man Nobleman, who was in Love with the Countess: the Sight of his Rival added to his natural Courage all the Fury that Hate and Jealousy could inspire. The German was for pursuing the Coach, but the Che­valier rushing in his Way, bid him pro­ceed upon his Peril, and asked him, with what Intention he followed that Coach. The German, with horrid Oaths, replied, that he would have the Lady. The Che­valier made no other Answer than by firing his Pistol at his Rival; but missing his Aim, the German and his Men fired upon the Chevalier and his Attendants, and at this first Discharge, his Gentleman and the two Frieslanders fell to the Ground. The Chevalier transported with Rage at this Sight, clapping Spurs to his Horse, rushed through the midst of his Enemies, and coming up close to the German, shot him through the Head. He then drew his Sword, and being seconded by his faithful Biscayan, he overturned all that opposed him; the Germans, dismayed at the Death of their Master, and the Impetuosity of the Che­valier, [Page 276] who had made two of their Compa­nions bite the Ground, turned their Horses Heads, and fled with the utmost Precipi­tation, while the Chevalier and his Servant galloped after the Coach, and never stop­ped till they had passed the Frontiers of Friesland. The Chevalier had received some slight Wounds, but those of his faithful Biscayan were much more dangerous. The Ian they alighted at, being at a great Distance from any Town, there was no Surgeon to be had, and the Chevalier was obliged to dress his own Wounds and his Servant's as well as he could. Madam de Berci was greatly alarmed for her Lover, but he assured her, that he felt so little Inconveniency from his Hurts, that he was able to attend her as soon as the Horses had baited. The Biscayan indeed was obliged to be put to Bed; he was dangerously wound­ed in the Shoulder. The Chevalier desired a Surgeon might be sent for with the ut­most Expedition, and leaving him Money to defray all his Expences, ordered him as soon as he was cured, to join him in Gas­cony.

Madam de Berci and the Chevalier, after taking a little Refreshment, again entered the Coach, the Countess gave some Tears to the Memory of the Chevalier's Gentleman, for whose Loss his Master expressed great Con­cern. They met with no Accident the re­maining [Page 277] Part of their Journey, and arrived happily in Franche Comte. The Countess, at her Lover's earnest Intreaty, resided eight Days at Besançon, and then resumed their Rout to Burgundy. The Marquis de Saint-Sauveur's Castle was but two Days Journey from Auxerre: the Chevalier's Heart was di­vided between Grief and Joy, when he sur­rendered the Countess to the Arms of her in­dulgent Mother, who received her with in­expressible Transports. That she was now in Security, was a Circumstance which could not but give him the highest Satisfaction; but when he considered that he must soon leave her, that it might be long e'er he beheld her again, he suffered Torments which can only be imagined by those who have loved like him, and like him been torn from the Object of their Affections. The old Mar­chioness releasing her Daughter from her Embraces, turned towards the Chevalier, and in Terms that expressed the highest Gratitude, thanked him for her Safety: she told him, that the Marquis had eight Days ago set out for Paris, on the Busi­ness he had mentioned to the Countess in the Letter he had wrote to her, and that he would send him Notice in Gascony what Success he had at Court. It was necessary, for this Reason, as well as for his own Secu­rity, that the Chevalier should go into that Province immediately. He had an Uncle there, who was very much advanced in Years, and to whose vast Possessions he was Heir, [Page 278] who earnestly desired to see him: as he found he must leave the Countess, he resolved to rush at once into his Misery; and after rest­ing one Night at the Castle de Saint-Sau­veur, he took Leave of the Marchioness and Madam de Berci, and pursued his Way to Gascony.

The Marchioness, who saw her Daughter swallowed up in Affliction, omitted nothing which maternal Fondness could suggest, to comfort her; but as her Consolations were wholly applied to the Misfortunes she had lately suffered, on account of the vile Accusa­tion she had laboured under, she did not reach the Bottom of the Countess's Grief, who was pierced to the Heart by the Despair that was visible in her Lover's Eyes, notwithstanding his assumed Composure at parting.

The Chevalier, full of uneasy Thoughts, that made him wholly regardless of his Safety, took Paris in his Way to Gascony: he was very desirous of seeing his Friends there, and arriving at Charenton at Five o'Clock in the Evening of the third Day after his Departure from the Castle de Saint-Sauveur, he rode slowly on, not being willing to enter Paris till it was dark. A Noise of some Horses be­hind him made him apprehensive that he was discovered and pursued, he turned hastily to see who they were that were riding after him, and perceived four Archers of the Provost, conducting a Prisoner whose Legs were fasten­ed [Page 279] under his Horse's Belly. Although the Chevalier had but a slight View of this Pri­soner, yet he imagined he knew the Face; he rode up to the Archers, and desired to know who their Prisoner was, and whither they were conducting him. ‘We are carry­ing him, replied one of them, to the little Chatelet, where he was formerly Turnkey; but we should have enough to do, added he in a surly Tone, if we answered all the im­pertinent Questions that are asked us.’

The Chevalier, without heeding the Fel­lows Rudeness, was reflecting upon the Mis­fortune of the poor Turnkey, and upon the Means he should use to deliver him. Grati­tude as well as Compassion suggested to him that he ought not to let this poor Wretch suf­fer for an Action which he had drawn him in to commit, and of which the Countess and himself had all the Benefit; he therefore again accosted the Archers, and with great Mild­ness represented to them, that the unhappy Man would certainly be hanged if they car­ried him to Prison; ‘and you, said he, will then be concerned at the Part you have had in precipitating his Death; if you will de­liver him to me, I will give you twenty Pistoles to drink, and you will bind the poor Wretch to pray for you as long as he lives.’

‘We neither care for his Prayers, nor your Pistoles, said one of them, who had [Page 280] not yet spoke, and possibly it would be bet­ter for you if you were less charitable than you are.’ ‘How, replied the Chevalier a little alarmed, do you intend to make me Prisoner for being too charitable?’ ‘I do not say so, replied the Archer; but if those by whom we are commissioned to bring this Man Prisoner to Paris, were to know your Offers, they would force you to declare what Interest you have in his Escape from Justice.’ Leave that Care ‘to Justice, returned the Chevalier, who began to be enraged, and at present think of nothing but delivering this Man to me, for I will absolutely have him. I desire you will unbind him this Instant, and resign him into my Hands for nothing, since you have refused my Money, and if you do not comply willingly, know that I will have him from you by Force.’

The Archers stared upon one another in Astonishment, at this arrogant Speech: they thought the Chevalier was a Madman, and were more inclined to laugh at his Extrava­gance, than dispute with him for their Priso­ner; but when they saw him fall upon them Sword in Hand, assisted by his Valet de Chambre and a Lackey he had brought from Burgundy, they prepared in good earnest for a vigorous Defence. The Chevalier dealt his Strokes with such Rapidity and Success among the Archers, that two fell immediately to the Ground, his Servants dispatched another, and [Page 281] the fourth fled towards Vincennes, leaving the poor trembling Prisoner in the Hands of his Deliverer, for whom, during the Combat, he had offered up the most ardent Prayers. The Chevalier ordered his Valet to take off his Irons, and then making himself known, he congratulated him upon his Freedom; the Turnkey, ravished with Joy and Gratitude, fell at his Feet, and vowed the Life he had preserved should from thenceforwards be whol­ly at his Disposal.

They now rode with all Speed towards Pa­ris: the Chevalier altered his Intention of stopping there, on account of his Adventure with the Archers, and continued his Journey to Estampes, whither he arrived at the Break of Day; he rested about two Hours, and then taking Post with the Turnkey, who never afterwards quitted him, he arrived safe at his Uncles Estate, which was a few Days Jour­ney from Bordeaux. The old Man, who had not seen him during ten Years be­fore, received him with Transports that had like to have been fatal to his Health. He wept at the Recital of the several Dangers and Mis­fortunes which had happened to him in the Course of so many Years, and earnestly con­jured him to expose himself no more to the Caprice of Fortune, but to live with him in Security and Happiness.

The News of the Chevalier's Arrival being spread over the Province, all the neighbouring [Page 282] Gentry came in Crouds to visit him, and to shew their Joy for his Return: he had the Sa­tisfaction, a few Days afterwards, to see again his faithful Biscayer, who was perfectly reco­vered of his Wounds. The Tenderness his Uncle expressed for him, and the obliging So­licitude of his Friends to divert and please him, suspended for some Time the Agonies of a Passion which had hitherto been traversed by so many cruel Accidents. But we shall now leave him to enjoy a short-lived Repose, and see what Success the old Marquis de Saint-Sauveur had at Court.

His Impatience to serve the Chevalier des Essars, would not permit him to delay go­ing to the Louvre the Day after his Arrival, to solicit the King in his favour; he extol­led in Terms worthy of the Fervor of his Friendship, the Valour and Generosity of the Chevalier, of which on many different Oc­casions he had given the most shining Proofs. He dwelt upon his unshaken Fidelity when distressed and a Fugitive in the Court of the Archduke, persecuted by the Laws, and under the Displeasure of his Sovereign; he had re­fused a very considerable Pension, and dis­claimed his Protection, if he must purchase it by the smallest Violation of his Duty. The Marquis then throwing himself at the King's Feet, modestly reminded him of his past Ser­vices, and with Tears conjured him to have Compassion on his old faithful Soldier, sink­ing under the Weight of Years and Infirmi­ties, [Page 283] and made miserable by the Assassination of a worthy Son-in-law, and the undeserved Sufferings of his Daughter.

‘To soften these Calamities, said the good old Man, grant me, I conjure your Ma­jesty, the Pardon of the Chevalier des Essars, for unfortunately killing the Count of Polan, in a Duel which he could not in Honour or Justice avoid, after the Attempt that was made upon his Person by a Kinsman of the Count, and by his Orders.’ He then re­presented to the King, that the Count, in his Answer to the Chevalier's Challenge, had in a manner confessed the Charge, and therefore justly deserved the Fate he had met with.

The Circumstances of the Chevalier's Combat with the Count of Polan, had by his Friends been represented to the King, in a manner very different from the Truth; pre­judiced by those Reports, and the Tender­ness he had borne to the Deceased, he an­swered the Marquis with some little Indig­nation, ‘That he had been prevailed upon to pardon Duellists, when their Quarrel had been fairly decided by the Sword; but that he had never skreened Assassins from Justice;’ and expressed a great Asto­nishment that the Marquis should so earnest­ly implore Pardon for a Man who had been accused of murdering his Son-in-law.

[Page 384] ‘I do not, Sire, replied the Marquis, im­plore your Pardon for an Assassin, but for a Man who has bravely killed his Enemy in a fair Fight; no, if it can be proved that the Chevalier des Essars has murdered my Son-in-law, I would be the first to intreat that he might suffer the Punishment due to such a Crime, but being fully persuaded of his Innocence with regard to my Son's Assassination, I am come to solicit his Par­don for a lesser Offence, in order that he may be at Liberty to clear himself of a greater.’

‘Marquis, answered the King, the Rela­tions of the Count of Polan are convinced that the Chevalier killed that Nobleman basely, although they possibly do not be­lieve him guilty of your Son-in-law's Mur­der. Thus every one listens to the Dic­tates of his own private Resentment for supposed Wrongs; but I, who am not a Party, but a Judge, in this Cause, will ren­der to each the Justice that is due to him.’

‘Permit me, Sire, returned the old Man, to represent to your Majesty, that no one is condemned till he has been heard in his own Defence. I am solicitous to procure the Chevalier's Pardon for the Count of Polan's Death, that he may clear himself of my Son's Murder. My Daughter's Character labours under the same odious Calumny; her Justification is included in [Page 285] that of the Chevalier. In this Case the Ac­cused and the Accusers are in a like Un­certainty. Surmises only can be opposed to Surmises; but if your Majesty will, on this Occasion, follow the Example of some of your glorious Predecessors, when in Ca­pital Crimes there was neither sufficient Evidence to condemn or to acquit, and allow the Parties to decide their Cause by the Sword, Providence and a just Cause will, I doubt not, enable the Chevalier, to make good his Challenge, let who will be the Opposer.’

The King was at Dinner, while the Mar­quis, with friendly Zeal and honest Elo­quence, was pleading the Chevalier's Cause. Among other Noblemen, who attended at his Majesty's Chair, was the young Count of Polan, Brother to him whom the Chevalier had killed. This young Lord had already acquired a great Reputation for personal Va­lour: the Marquis de Saint-Sauveur had scarce finished his Speech, when he threw himself at the King's Feet, and conjured him not to let the Death of a Brother so dear to him, and who had been killed by the Cheva­lier contrary to the known Rules of Duelling, go unrevenged for want of sufficient Proofs, but permit him to challenge the Chevalier to single Combat.

‘Count, interrupted the old Marquis, were it not that we are in the Presence of the [Page 286] greatest King in the World, to whom I owe an inviolable Respect, I would not tamely suffer you to charge the Cheva­lier des Essars with having basely killed your Brother; he is too noble and too generous to commit any dishonourable Action, and too brave to have Recourse to Assassination, to rid him of an Enemy, or unjustifiable Methods to overcome him. Loaden as I am with Years and Afflictions, this Arm wants not Strength, nor this Heart Courage to defend the Chevalier against so base an Accusation: and if his Majesty will permit it, I am ready whenever you please to prove with my Sword, that what you have asserted against my Friend, is false. I would rather, replied the young Count of Polan with a scornful Smile, meet your Son than you upon this Occasion; but when I have done with you, I will support the Truth of what I have said against your Son, and against the Chevalier des Essars like­wise, if he dares accept my Challenge.’

The good old Marquis, enraged at this Insolence, was going to reply with some Warmth, when the King imposed Silence upon them both, and forbid them, upon Pain of his highest Indignation, to proceed any further in this Affair. Afterwards that Prince, feeling the Force of those Arguments the old Marquis urged in favour of the Chevalier, as well as the Duty and Fidelity he had shewn in refusing a Pension from the Archduke at a [Page 287] Time when his Protection was so necessary for his Safety, he granted him a Pardon for the Death of the Count of Polan, upon Condi­tion that he returned to Paris within a Month, to clear himself of the Assassination of the Count of Berci.

The old Marquis de Saint-Sauveur trans­ported with Joy that he had thus happily car­ried his Point, returned to Burgundy with great Expedition, where he had the Satisfac­tion to find his Daughter already arrived: be­ing informed by her of the particular Place where the Chevalier resided, he sent a Gen­tleman post that very Day with his Pardon, which he accompanied with the following Letter:

‘I have, at length, Monsieur, had the good Fortune to touch the Heart of the most just and benevolent of King's, by the Represen­tations I have made in your favour. The Bearer of this will deliver your Pardon for your last Duel, in Form. There is now no­thing to hinder you from appearing to clear your Innocence with respect to the lamented Murder of my dear Son-in-law, and to cover with Confusion and Disgrace those who have blackened your Fame, and that of my Daughter. I am not, through pa­ternal Tenderness, more solicitous for her Justification, than, through Gratitude and Friendship, for yours. I would have sent my Son to you with this News, if I had [Page 288] found him, after my Return from Court, at my Castle, but he is still abroad, in Search of Verague: I make it my constant Prayer to Heaven, that he may be so fortunate as to bring back that Wretch with him to France. Do not fail to be at Paris within the Time prescribed to you by the King; and may our meeting be happy to us all.’

The Marquis having communicated this Letter to his Lady, she told him, that, her Daughter being so much concerned in this Affair, it was proper that she also should write to the Chevalier: the Marquis approved of the Proposal, and desired Madam de Berci to write to their common Friend, which she did with great Willingness, in these Terms:

‘I write to you, Monsieur, by the Com­mand of my Parents, but at the same time I must assure you, that no Command of theirs was ever more chearfully complied with. You will understand by my Father's Letter which accompanies this, what he has done for you at Court, and what is now expected from you for your own Justifica­tion as well as mine. I do not think it necessary to press your speedy Return to Paris: wherever your Honour and my In­terest is concerned, I cannot doubt of your utmost Solicitude. Be assured, that my De­sire to see you again, is not one of my least Motives for being anxious for your Return. The many and great Obli­gations [Page 289] I owe you, merit all my Gratitude and my tenderest Esteem; may my Justifi­cation be also your Work, that my Heart may openly avow the Sentiments with which you have inspired it. Adieu.’

The Messenger having received these Dis­patches, and proper Instructions where to find the Chevalier des Essars in Gascony, set out for that Province immediately. His Return was expected with extreme Impatience by the Countess of Berci; but an unfortunate Acci­dent happened, which produced great Disorders in the Chevalier's Affairs: the Messenger was sent in a Season of the Year when the Waters had rose very high, and travelling was both dan­gerous and tedious; as he was riding along the Side of a little River which had overflowed great Part of the Road, he perceived that the Po­stillion was got beyond his Depth, and was in Danger of being lost, together with his Horse; eager to save the Youth, he advanced hastily, to lay hold of him by the Neck, but the Bank upon which he supported himself, suddenly gave way, and his Horse stumbling, he fell into the Water and both he and his Postilion were drowned. By this fatal Accident the Chevalier was prevented from appearing at Court within the Time prescribed, which brought on the Countess of Berci and himself many cruel Misfortunes: but let us now see how the Chevalier employed himself in his Retirement where he was perfectly ignorant of all that had passed at Court.

[Page 290]The old Marquis des Essars, his Uncle; who was extremely rich, and had no other Heir but the Chevalier, was laying Schemes in his own Mind to fix him in Gascony for the rest of his Life; he dreaded his Return to Court, lest some new Misfortune should deprive him for ever of a Nephew he so tenderly loved, and whose Presence was so necessary to his Happiness. He resolved therefore to make his Connexions in Gascony so strong, that it should not be in his Power to break them, and this was only to be done by marrying him ad­vantagiously. Mademoiselle de Genvincourt was the Lady he pitched upon for a Wife for the Chevalier, she was young, beautiful, and had the greatest Fortune in the Province, she had been left an Orphan in her earliest Years under the Guardianship of a Kinsman of her Father, who for some Time very faith­fully discharged his Trust, he carefully applied himself to improve the great Qualities she had received from Nature by an excellent Educa­tion; the surprizing Progress she made in every Kind of Learning, and the consum­mate Loveliness of her Person, excited an Ad­miration of her in the Heart of her Guardian, which when she grew older, terminated in a most violent Passion; his advanced Age, his Proximity of Blood, his low Fortunes (low when compared to hers) were Considerations too weak to hinder him from declaring his Sentiments to his ward and to solicit ear­nestly for her Hand. Mademoiselle de Ge­vincourt with a Mind as haughty as ever Wo­man's [Page 291] was, had all the Courage, Fortitude and Resolution of the most intrepid Man. Her Inclinations from her earliest Youth had led her to Masculine Exercises, and the Make of her Person, beautiful and finely propor­tioned as it was, fitted her for exelling in them. She was so enraged at her Guardians presumptuous Declaration, that she would have wished to chastise his Insolence with her own Arm, for her Resentments were no more fe­minine than her Spirit. With a Look of inconceivable Disdain, she desired him to be silent for ever upon such a Subject, if he did not wish to feel the Effects of her just Indig­nation.

The poor Guardian was thunderstruck at a Repulse, couched in Terms so very extraor­dinary for a Lady, yet he did not cease to persecute her with his Addresses, which so pro­voked the haughty Girl, that she resolved to set him at Defiance. Some little Time after­wards, he was obliged to go into another part of the Province upon Affairs which would necessarily detain him several Weeks. Ma­demoiselle de Gevincourt took this Oppor­tunity to fortify the Castle in which she had hitherto lived with her Kinsman, and shut herself up in it with some of her Friends, when her Guardian returned, she refused him Admittance, and ordered him to be gone, otherwise she would Fire upon him and his Attendants from the Windows; the old Lover retired in Despair, and soon after died with [Page 292] meer Shame and Grief for the Treatment he had received from his Charge; this Affair made a great Noise over all the Province, every one was pleased with the Spirit and Re­solution of Mademoiselle de Gevincourt, her fine Accomplishments, the Charms of her Person, her noble Birth, and her great Riches brought an innumerable Croud of Lovers to her Feet, but there was not one amongst them, who in her Opinion was worthy of her Heart.

It was this incomparable young Lady whom the old Marquis des Essars designed should give Fetters to his Nephew. He was not ignorant of her extreme Haughtiness, and her declared Aversion to Marriage, founded upon her own Fondness for Liberty, and desire of Rule; but he hoped every thing from the extraordinary Merit of his Nephew, whose Fame too vast for his Country had ex­tended itself over all Europe, and made him the Object of Universal Admiration and Esteem; he flattered himself that Mademoiselle de Ge­vincourt would be charmed with a Character that so nearly resembled her own, but he did not think it proper to mention his Design to his Nephew, the Sight of Mademoiselle de Gevincourt, he justly thought would have more Influence upon his Heart, than all his Arguments or even his Authority, if he was inclined to make use of it, not but he was acquainted with the Chevalier's Passion for the Countess of Berci, and looked on it as an Obstacle to the Success of his Scheme; he [Page 293] was too prudent to think of reasoning him out of his Love for that Lady, but he expected a great deal from the Beauty of Mademoiselle de Gevincourt, and therefore earnestly wished that Chance might throw her in his Way, not doubting but the Sight of so many Charms informed by a Mind great and noble, as his own, would have sui­table Effects upon a Heart whose Sensibility was but too certain.

The old Marquis having been taken up several Days in contriving Schemes to bring his Nephew and Mademoiselle de Gevincourt together, at last bethought himself of making a Party for the Chace which could not fail of answering his Purpose. When this Thought had once entered his Head, he wondered how he could be so long before he hit upon it, he went himself to invite the fair Amazon, for so she was called all over Gascony, to honour this Hunting Match with her Presence. Ma­demoiselle de Gevincourt instantly complied with his Invitation, she had a great Desire to see the Chevalier des Essars, of whom she had heard the most extravagant Encomiums, she took a more then ordinary Care that Day in setting off her lovely Person to the greatest Advantage, her Pride would not suffer her to acknowledge to herself that she had any Design upon the Chevalier's Heart, yet she could not help thinking such a glorious Con­quest would add greatly to the Reputation of her Charms, and she neglected no Ornament [Page 294] her hunting Dress would admit of, to make herself appear lovely in his Eyes. Her Habit was green Velvet, richly embroidered with Silver, a Dagger the Handle of which was adorned with a great number of Diamonds, hung in a rich Scarf by her Side, her fair Hair played in careless Ringlets down her Shoulders, she wore a little Hat with a black Feather that waved over part of a Forehead whiter than Ivory, it was adorned with Bril­liants, which bright as they were, yielded in Lustre, to her large blue Eyes, in which Viva­city and Sweetness were so happily blended, that the coldest Heart must have been in­flamed by their piercing Rays, her Horse was a Spanish Genet, white as the falling Snow, which she managed with a Grace wholly in­chanting; in this Equipage so well suited to the lovely Fierceness of her Air and Mein, she rode to meet the Marquis des Essars, and his Company. The Chevalier although plainly drest, had a natural Dignity in his Person, which Negligence of Apparel could neither hide or diminish; he was mounted upon a very fine Horse which he managed with equal Skill and Gracefulness: the manly Sweetness of his Countenance, the Fire that sparkled in his Eyes, his martial Air, soon discovered him to Mademoiselle de Gevincourt, who had been at the place appointed for meeting, a few Moments before the Marquis des Essars, and his Company.

[Page 295]The Chevalier gazed with Astonishment and Delight upon an Object so new and char­ming; Mademoiselle de Gevincourt, was not less struck with the noble Aspect of our Hero. The Company in whispers declared that they were the lovliest Pair in the World, and seemed wholly formed for each other; the old Marquis enjoyed the mutual Admiration with which his Nephew and the charming Amazon beheld each other, but the Effects of this In­terview were vastly different in each. Ma­demoiselle de Gevincourt lost in a Moment that Insensibility of which she had hitherto boasted, and became passionately enamoured of the Chevalier, while her Beauty, Inchant­ing as it realy was, found his Heart so filled with the Idea of the Countess of Berci, that it excited no other Sentiments for her than those of Admiration and Respect. The Che­valier eagerly leaping off his Horse, was pre­sented by the Marquis his Uncle, to the lo­vely Maid, who lightly dismounting advanced to meet him. The Chevalier made her a gallant Compliment which sent new Arrows to her Heart. Mademoiselle de Gevincourt found a secret Charm in every Thing he said and did; she scarce ever removed her Eyes from his Face; superior to the little Affecta­tions and Reserve of her Sex, she was not so­licitous to conceal the favourable Sentiments she entertained for him; they never separated during the Chace. The old Marquis des Es­sars could hardly contain his Joy at a Success so much beyond his Hopes: he did not doubt [Page 296] but the Wit and Learning of Mademoiselle de Gevincourt would finish what her Beauty had begun, and entirely erase all Remembrance of the Countess of Berci. The Chevalier indeed found Graces in the Conversation of Mademoi­selle de Gevincourt, which greatly increased his Admiration and Esteem of her. A Man of his Galantry and Vivacity could hardly avoid talk­ing of Love to so charming a Creature, whom he had an Opportunity of entertaining alone: he fell naturally into very passionate Expres­sions, by which however he meant nothing more than to pay that Homage he thought due to a Beauty so attracting, and a Wit so lively and poignant. Mademoiselle de Gevincourt had been too much used to make such sudden Con­quests, to doubt that her Charms had produced their ordinary Effects: she listened with Plea­sure to the rapturous Language that fell from the Lips of the Chevalier, and although her Heart was sensible of Emotions it had till then been a Stranger to, yet she answered him with such easy Raillery, and a Gaiety so unaffected, that whatever were her Thoughts, they re­mained perfectly hid from the Chevalier.

The Chace finished with the taking of a large Stag, and the Company being now ve­ry much fatigued, they were preparing to re­turn home, when a furious Boar rushed out of a Wood that was near them, and dispersed both the Hunters and the Dogs in an Instant; the intrepid Chevalier alone disdained not to fly, he threw himself off his Horse, and ad­vancing [Page 297] towards the Boar, with his drawn Sword in his Hand, he thrust it up to the Hilt in the Body of the terrible Beast: the Wound was mortal, but the furious Animal, in his dying Agonies, sprung forwards, and overthrowing the Chevalier, fell down dead a few Paces distant from him. The Marquis supposing his Nephew mortally hurt, sent forth loud Cries of Grief and Consternation; he was hastening to his Assistance, when the fair fierce Mademoiselle de Gevincourt, leaping off her Horse, flew to raise him from the Ground, trembling between Hope and Fear, and all the Marks of Terror and Grief printed upon her lovely Face. The Chevalier was already upon his Feet, when the charming Amazon offered her assisting Hand. The Marquis was by this Time come up to them, as well as the rest of the Hunters; their Fears were now turned to Joy and Exultation; they congratulated the Chevalier upon the Victory he had gained. Mademoiselle de Gevincourt's Emotions had been so visible, that there was not one in the Company who doubted of her Love to the Chevalier; she complimented him, as well as the rest, on his Valour, but the Changes in her fair Face while she was speaking, made it evident, that the Danger he had so lately escaped, was still most in her Thoughts. The Chevalier, in Imitation of Melcager, cut off the Head of the Boar, and laid it at the Feet of this fairer Atalanta, as a Trophy con­secrated to her Beauty. She accepted it smile­ing, together with the Chevalier's Offer to [Page 298] attend her to her Castle, where at parting he begged Permission to visit her, which he obtained without Difficulty: but he returned to his Uncle more pleased than captivated with the Perfections of the lovely Amazon.

Mean time the Marquis de Saint-Sauveur was full of uneasy Apprehensions, on hear­ing no News of the Chevalier: the Term prescribed by the King for his Appearance, for which he had engaged, was almost ex­pired; he was amazed that the Messenger whom he had sent to the Chevalier, did not return; he knew not what to think of a De­lay so unaccountable. The Countess of Berci was in Despair, nothing but the most fatal Accident could in her Opinion be the Cause of his not appearing. Anxiety and Suspense might have suggested Doubts of his Love, but his Honour was too well known to ad­mit of the slightest Suspicion against it. But fearful of her Parents Observations, she smo­thered her Griefs in her own Breast, and only silently deplored the various Misfortunes to which her Life was exposed.

Two Days before the Expiration of the Month prescribed to the Chevalier, the young Marquis de Saint-Sauveur arrived at Paris: he had spent several Months in Search of Ve­rague, but to no Purpose; and eager to see again his beloved Wife, he came back some Weeks sooner than the Time on which he had agreed to meet the Count of Berci at [Page 299] Paris, who had been employed in the same fruitless Search. On his Arrival he was im­mediately informed of the Challenge given by the young Count of Polan to his Father and to himself, in the King's Presence, which, at the Command of his Majesty, was not ac­cepted. The Fire of Youth, and eager De­sire of supporting his Father's Honour upon this Occasion, as well as his own, would not suffer him to reflect upon the Consequences of disobeying the King, he sent a Challenge to the Count of Polan, who accepted it with Joy: they met accordingly, and a vigorous Combat ensued; both gave Proofs of great Courage and Skill, and both were so much wounded, that their Attendants were obliged to get Litters to carry them from the Place of Battle to Paris. The Friends of the young Marquis de Saint-Sauveur did not think him in Safety in that City, therefore, wounded as he was, carried him in the Night to Cham­piegny, to a House that belonged to one of them. The young Marchioness, his Wife, almost dying with her Fears, hastened thither to attend him: the Marquis, who was now capable of serious Reflexions, asked her Par­don for exposing unnecessarily a Life that was dear to her, while she, mingling Tears with her soft Reproaches, assured him that her Fate was involed in his. The old Mar­quis, his Father, losing all Expectations of see­ing the Chevalier, resolved to be at Paris on the appointed Day, to fight with the Count of Polan in behalf of his Friend, unaccountable [Page 300] as the Conduct of that Friend now seemed to him. On his Arrival he was informed, that his Son had been beforehand with him, and that he was dangerously wounded, as well as his Antagonist. The brave old Man was pi­qued at his Son's Forwardness in snatching this Combat out of his Hands: it looked as if he thought him unequal to the Task, and he was apprehensive that it might be ima­gined his Son had, by his Command, met the Count of Polan in his stead. These Conside­rations, although they excited some Resent­ment in the brave old Soldier, yet could not obliterate the Tenderness of the Father: he sent Notice of his Son's Condition to the Marchioness, his Wife, and set out immediate­ly himself for Champiegny, to visit him. No­thing passed at this Interview, but kind En­dearments on one Side, and submissive Plead­ings for Pardon on the other. The young Marquis grew better every Day; and when Madam de Saint-Sauveur his Mother, and the Countess of Berci his Sister, arrived, they had the Satisfaction to find him out of Danger. Their Apprehensions and Grief were now changed to Joy: the young Marquis's Reco­very left them nothing to wish for but the Sight of the Chevalier des Essars, and the Dis­covery of Verague, to make them entirely happy. The Friends of the Count of Polan, seeing that both he and his brave Antagonist were quite out of Danger, resolved to recon­cile them to each other: they flattered them­selves with being able to effect this the more [Page 301] easily, as neither of them had any Advantage over the other, and their Quarrel was occa­sioned rather by a Point of Honour, than any Injury given or received. The Count of Po­lan and the young Marquis de Saint-Sauveur had a mutual Admiration of each other's Va­lour: there is a secret Sympathy in brave and generous Minds, which insensibly produces Esteem and Kindness. The Count of Polan readily embraced an Opportunity of visiting the Marquis, with a common Friend of them both: and met with a most polite Reception from the Father and the Son. The two Mar­chionesses and the Countess of Berci were pre­sent at this Interview, which proved fatal to the Liberty of the Count of Polan, for the Charms of Madam de Berci made so absolute a Conquest of his Heart, that from a mortal Enemy of her Family, he now became one of the most zealous Friends to it.

The Count was young, handsome, and ex­tremely gallant: he had indeed more Vivacity than Wit; but he possessed the happy Art of saying the most common Things in a manner so agreeable, that his Conversation, by the Ladies especially, was always thought pleasing. Madam de Berci's Heart was too little at Ease, to take any Delight in the agreeable Liveli­nesses of this young Nobleman, who know­ing his own Talent, took every Opportunity to display those happy Spirits which inspired good Humour and Chearfulness wherever he came. The fixed Melancholy that appeared [Page 302] in the Countenance and Behaviour of Madam de Berci, repressed his Gaiety; which, how­ever, was no Advantage to him; a true Lover insensibly adopts the prevailing Humour of his Mistress, be it what it will. The Count of Polan made no Figure in a serious Conversa­tion, nor were his Features adapted to Gra­vity; yet his Eyes seemed to take Lessons from the lovely ones of Madam de Berci, he sighed when she did, sympathetically; and Sor­row in her sweet Face had such powerful In­fluence upon his Heart, that losing all that Fire and Vivacity, which so particularly distin­guished him, he became pensive and reserved without knowing that he was so. He easily found a Pretence for staying at Champiegny a few Days, during which he lost no Oppor­tunity of seeing the Countess of Berci; but these frequent Interviews increased his Flame, without affording him any Hope of his ever being more happy. He saw her so wholly engrossed by Grief, that he durst not make any Declaration of his Sentiments; he only intreated her to accept of his Services on every Occasion that offered, to defend her Inno­cence: but he made this Request with a Zeal so animated, with such apparent Tenderness in his Voice and Eyes, that the Countess, who knew too much of the Passion of Love herself, to mistake the Cause of such extraordinary Emo­tions, easily perceived the Impression she had made in his Heart, which, considering him as an Enemy to the Chevalier des Essars, rather increased than lessened her Disgust.

[Page 303]The Count of Polan returned to Paris in a State very different from that in which he had left it. He had hitherto been too suc­cessful with the Ladies, to leave him any Doubt of making an Impression upon a Heart wholly disengaged: the Coldness with which the Countess received his Offers, he attri­buted to her Regard for the Chevalier, whose ardent Passion for her, no one was ignorant of; the Count of Polan being fully persuaded that when his Rival was removed, he should find no other Obstacle to his Wishes in the Heart of Madam de Berci, resolved to prose­cute him for his Brother's Death with the ut­most Rigor, and sacrifice him at once to his Vengeance and his Love.

The Month granted by the King for the Chevalier des Essars to make his Appearance in, being now fully expired, his Pardon was cancelled, and the Count of Polan was deter­mined, if possible, to hinder it from being ever renewed. He remonstrated to the King, that the Chevalier's Guilt could no longer be doubted, since he had neglected to lay hold of his Majesty's Mercy, which had given him so fair an Opportunity of clearing himself; he alledged, that his Flight, was, as well a Proof of his Crime, as the Terrors of his Conscience; for brave as he was allowed to be, he would not have shunned the offered Combat, had he not known he had a bad Cause to support. The Count then humbly intreated his Majesty to revoke the Pardon he had granted to the [Page 304] Chevalier des Essars, and to suffer Justice to be executed upon the Murderer of his Brother; or at least, if in his Absence any one was pre­sumptuous enough to maintain his Cause, to permit him to challenge him to the Field, and trust his Vengeance to the Decision of Arms.

The King did not think fit to grant all that the Count of Polan demanded, but contented himself with declaring, that if in the Space of three Weeks the Chevalier des Essars did not appear to answer the Count's Challenge, or some one for him, his Pardon should be can­celled, and his Person wherever he could be seized, delivered into the Hands of Justice. He then commanded, that the Combat should be fought on Horseback, and in his Presence; that the Combatants should be in compleat Ar­mour, according to the ancient Custom of the Kingdom of France. The old Marquis de Saint-Sauveur hearing of this Decree, dispatched his Son immediately to Gascony in Search of the Chevalier, although he was hardly yet reco­vered of his Wound; and having prevailed with the King to order that all Proceedings against the Countess his Daughter should be stopt, till farther Informations could be had with regard to her Husband's Murder, he fixed his Residence at Champiegny, expect­ing with great Anxiety and Impatience the Event of the young Marquis's Journey, in which they were all so much concerned.

The END of the Third PART, VOL. I.

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