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Bardelys the Magnificent

21. Louis The Just
"For me," said the King, "these depositions were not necessary. Your word, my
dear Marcel, would have sufficed. For the courts, however, perhaps it is well that
you have had them taken; moreover, they form a valuable corroboration of the
treason which you lay to the charge of Monsieur de Saint-Eustache."
We were standing - at least, La Fosse and I were standing, Louis XIII sat - in a
room, of the Palace of Toulouse, where I had had the honour of being brought
before His Majesty. La Fosse was there, because it would seem that the King
had grown fond of him, and could not be without him since his coming to
Toulouse.
His Majesty was, as usual, so dull and weary - not even roused by the
approaching trial of Montmorency, which was the main business that had brought
him South that even the company of this vapid, shallow, but irrepressibly good-
humoured La Fosse, with his everlasting mythology, proved a thing desirable.
"I will see," said Louis, "that your friend the Chevalier is placed under arrest at
once, and as much for his attempt upon your life as for the unstable quality of his
political opinions, the law shall deal with him - conclusively." He sighed. "It
always pains me to proceed to extremes against a man of his stamp. To deprive
a fool of his head seems a work of supererogation."
I inclined my head, and smiled at his pleasantry. Louis the just rarely permitted
himself to jest, and when he did his humour was as like unto humour as water is
like unto wine. Still, when a monarch jests, if you are wise, if you have a favour to
sue, or a position at Court to seek or to maintain, you smile, for all that the
ineptitude of his witless wit be rather provocative of sorrow.
"Nature needs meddling with at times," hazarded La Fosse, from behind His
Majesty's chair. "This Saint-Eustache is a sort of Pandora's box, which it is well to
close ere--"
"Go to the devil," said the King shortly. "We are not jesting. We have to do
justice."
"Ah! Justice," murmured La Fosse; "I have seen pictures of the lady. She covers
her eyes with a bandage, but is less discreet where the other beauties of her
figure are in question."
His Majesty blushed. He was above all things a chaste-minded man, modest as a
nun. To the immodesty rampant about him he was in the habit of closing his eyes
and his ears, until the flagrancy or the noise of it grew to proportions to which he
might remain neither blind nor deaf.
 
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