Chicot the Jester HTML version

Chapter 2
The Porte St. Antoine was a kind of vault in stone, similar to our present Porte St.
Denis, only it was attached by its left side to buildings adjacent to the Bastile. The space
at the right, between the gate and the Hôtel des Tournelles, was large and dark, little
frequented by day, and quite solitary at night, for all passers-by took the side next to the
fortress, so as to be in some degree under the protection of the sentinel. Of course,
winter nights were still more feared than summer ones.
That on which the events which we have recounted, and are about to recount took
place, was cold and black. Before the gate on the side of the city, was no house, but
only high walls, those of the church of St. Paul, and of the Hôtel des Tournelles. At the
end of this wall was the niche of which St. Luc had spoken to Bussy. No lamps lighted
this part of Paris at that epoch. In the nights when the moon charged herself with the
lighting of the earth, the Bastile rose somber and majestic against the starry blue of the
skies, but on dark nights, there seemed only a thickening of the shadows where it stood.
On the night in question, a practised eye might have detected in the angle of the wall of
the Tournelles several black shades, which moved enough to show that they belonged
to poor devils of human bodies, who seemed to find it difficult to preserve their natural
warmth as they. stood there. The sentinel from the Bastile; who could not see them on
account of the darkness, could not hear them either, for they talked almost in whispers.
However, the conversation did not want interest.
"This Bussy was right," said one; "it is a night such as we had at Warsaw, when Henri
was King of Poland, and if this continues we shall freeze."
"Come, Maugiron, you complain like a woman," replied another: "it is not warm, I
confess; but draw your mantle over your eyes, and put your hands in your pockets, and
you will not feel it."
"Really, Schomberg," said a third, "it is easy to see you are German. As for me, my lips
bleed, and my mustachios are stiff with ice."
"It is my hands," said a fourth; "on my honor, I would not swear I had any."
"You should have taken your mamma's muff, poor Quelus," said Schomberg.
"Eh! mon Dieu, have patience," said a fifth voice; "you will soon be complaining you are
"I see some one coming through the Rue St. Paul," said Quelus.