Chicot the Jester HTML version

Chapter 17
The sun, which shone four or five hours after the events which we have just recorded
had taken place, saw, by his pale light, Henri III. set off for Fontainebleau, where a
grand chase was projected. A crowd of gentlemen, mounted on good horses and
wrapped in their fur cloaks, then a number of pages, after them lackey, and then Swiss,
followed the royal litter. This litter, drawn by eight mules richly caparisoned, was a large
machine, about fifteen feet long and eight wide, on four wheels, furnished inside with
cushions and curtains of silk brocade. In difficult places they substituted for the mules
an indefinite number of oxen.
This machine contained Henri III., his doctor, and his chaplain, Chicot, four of the king's
favorites, a pair of large dogs, and a basket of little ones, which the king held on his
knees, and which was suspended from his neck by a golden chain. From the roof hung
a gilded cage containing turtle doves, quite white, with a black ring round their necks.
Sometimes the collection was completed by the presence of two or three apes. Thus
this litter was commonly termed the Noah's Ark.
Quelus and Maugiron employed themselves with plaiting ribbons, a favorite diversion of
that time; and Chicot amused himself by making anagrams on the names of all the
courtiers. Just as they passed the Place Maubert, Chicot rushed out of the litter, and
went to kneel down before a house of good appearance.
"Oh!" cried the king, "if you kneel, let it be before the crucifix in the middle of the street,
and not before the house. What do you mean by it?"
But Chicot, without attending, cried out in a loud voice:
"Mon Dieu! I recognize it, I shall always recognize it--the house where I suffered! I have
never prayed for vengeance on M. de Mayenne, author of my martyrdom, nor on
Nicholas David, his instrument. No; Chicot is patient, Chicot can wait, although it is now
six years that this debt has been running on, and in seven years the interest is doubled.
May, then, my patience last another year, so that instead of fifty blows of a stirrup-
leather which I received in this house by the orders of this assassin of a Lorraine prince,
and which drew a pint of blood, I may owe a hundred blows and two pints of blood!
Amen, so be it!"
"Amen!" said the king.
Chicot then returned to the litter, amidst the wondering looks of the spectators.