The Queen’s Necklace - Alexandre Dumas - ebook

The Queen’s Necklace ebook

Alexandre Dumas

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French author of famous swashbuckler novels Alexandre Dumas again chooses 18th century France for his milieu. No musketeers in this one, for it is the Queen, Marie Antoinette, who needs defending. Set a few years before the deluge of the French Revolution this plot is convoluted beyond belief; schemes, counter-measures, vicious personal agendas, love-struck young people, royal revenge and ecclesiastical machinations – all are present. Fans of historical fiction will love „The Queen’s Necklace” Dumas’ gripping retelling of the Affair of the Necklace a suspicious incident of theft in the court of Louis XVI. This episode further spoiled the already-tarnished reputation of the Queen. Although seeming to present an idealized picture of Marie Antoinette, it also illustrates the decay and impending decline of the contemporary nobility. Some experts say set into motion a chain of events that resulted in the eventual downfall of the monarchy.

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Liczba stron: 639

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Contents

PROLOGUE. THE PREDICTIONS

CHAPTER I. TWO UNKNOWN LADIES

CHAPTER II. AN INTERIOR

CHAPTER III. JEANNE DE LA MOTTE VALOIS

CHAPTER IV. BELUS

CHAPTER V. THE ROAD TO VERSAILLES

CHAPTER VI. LAURENT

CHAPTER VII. THE QUEEN'S BED-CHAMBER

CHAPTER VIII. THE QUEEN'S PETITE LEVEE

CHAPTER IX. THE SWISS LAKE

CHAPTER X. THE TEMPTER

CHAPTER XI. M. DE SUFFREN

CHAPTER XII. M. DE CHARNY

CHAPTER XIII. THE ONE HUNDRED LOUIS OF THE QUEEN

CHAPTER XIV. M. FINGRET

CHAPTER XV. THE CARDINAL DE ROHAN

CHAPTER XVI. MESMER AND ST. MARTIN

CHAPTER XVII. THE BUCKET

CHAPTER XVIII. MADEMOISELLE OLIVA

CHAPTER XIX. MONSIEUR BEAUSIRE

CHAPTER XX. GOLD

CHAPTER XXI. LA PETITE MAISON

CHAPTER XXII. SOME WORDS ABOUT THE OPERA

CHAPTER XXIII. THE BALL AT THE OPERA

CHAPTER XXIV. THE EXAMINATION

CHAPTER XXV. THE ACADEMY OF M. BEAUSIRE

CHAPTER XXVI. THE AMBASSADOR

CHAPTER XXVII. MESSRS. BŒHMER AND BOSSANGE

CHAPTER XXVIII. THE AMBASSADOR'S HOTEL

CHAPTER XXIX. THE BARGAIN

CHAPTER XXX. THE JOURNALIST'S HOUSE

CHAPTER XXXI. HOW TWO FRIENDS BECAME ENEMIES

CHAPTER XXXII. THE HOUSE IN THE RUE ST. GILLES

CHAPTER XXXIII. THE HEAD OF THE TAVERNEY FAMILY

CHAPTER XXXIV. THE STANZAS OF M. DE PROVENCE

CHAPTER XXXV. THE PRINCESS DE LAMBALLE

CHAPTER XXXVI. THE QUEEN

CHAPTER XXXVII. AN ALIBI

CHAPTER XXXVIII. M. DE CROSNE

CHAPTER XXXIX. THE TEMPTRESS

CHAPTER XL. TWO AMBITIONS THAT WISH TO PASS FOR TWO LOVES

CHAPTER XLI. FACES UNDER THEIR MASKS

CHAPTER XLII. IN WHICH M. DUCORNEAU UNDERSTANDS NOTHING OF WHAT IS PASSING

CHAPTER XLIII. ILLUSIONS AND REALITIES

CHAPTER XLIV. OLIVA BEGINS TO ASK WHAT THEY WANT OF HER

CHAPTER XLV. THE DESERTED HOUSE

CHAPTER XLVI. JEANNE THE PROTECTRESS

CHAPTER XLVII. JEANNE PROTECTED

CHAPTER XLVIII. THE QUEEN'S PORTFOLIO

CHAPTER XLIX. IN WHICH WE FIND DR. LOUIS

CHAPTER L. ÆGRI SOMNIA

CHAPTER LI. ANDRÉE

CHAPTER LII. DELIRIUM

CHAPTER LIII. CONVALESCENCE

CHAPTER LIV. TWO BLEEDING HEARTS

CHAPTER LV. THE MINISTER OF FINANCE

CHAPTER LVI. THE CARDINAL DE ROHAN

CHAPTER LVII. DEBTOR AND CREDITOR

CHAPTER LVIII. FAMILY ACCOUNTS

CHAPTER LIX. MARIE ANTOINETTE AS QUEEN, AND MADAME DE LA MOTTE AS WOMAN

CHAPTER LX. THE RECEIPT OF MM. BŒHMER AND BOSSANGE, AND THE GRATITUDE OF THE QUEEN

CHAPTER LXI. THE PRISONER

CHAPTER LXII. THE LOOK OUT

CHAPTER LXIII. THE TWO NEIGHBORS

CHAPTER LXIV. THE RENDEZVOUS

CHAPTER LXV. THE QUEEN'S HAND

CHAPTER LXVI. WOMAN AND QUEEN

CHAPTER LXVII. WOMAN AND DEMON

CHAPTER LXVIII. THE NIGHT

CHAPTER LXIX. THE CONGE

CHAPTER LXX. THE JEALOUSY OF THE CARDINAL

CHAPTER LXXI. THE FLIGHT

CHAPTER LXXII. THE LETTER AND THE RECEIPT

CHAPTER LXXIII. "Roi ne puis, prince ne daigne, Rohan je suis."[B]

CHAPTER LXXIV. LOVE AND DIPLOMACY

CHAPTER LXXV. CHARNY, CARDINAL, AND QUEEN

CHAPTER LXXVI. EXPLANATIONS

CHAPTER LXXVII. THE ARREST

CHAPTER LXXVIII. THE PROCÈS-VERBAL

CHAPTER LXXIX. THE LAST ACCUSATION

CHAPTER LXXX. THE PROPOSAL OF MARRIAGE

CHAPTER LXXXI. ST. DENIS

CHAPTER LXXXII. A DEAD HEART

CHAPTER LXXXIII. IN WHICH IT IS EXPLAINED WHY THE BARON DE TAVERNEY GREW FAT

CHAPTER LXXXIV. THE FATHER AND THE FIANCÉE

CHAPTER LXXXV. AFTER THE DRAGON, THE VIPER

CHAPTER LXXXVI. HOW IT CAME TO PASS THAT M. BEAUSIRE WAS TRACKED BY THE AGENTS OF M. DE CROSNE

CHAPTER LXXXVII. THE TURTLES ARE CAGED

CHAPTER LXXXVIII. THE LAST HOPE LOST

CHAPTER LXXXIX. THE BAPTISM OF THE LITTLE BEAUSIRE

CHAPTER XC. THE TRIAL

CHAPTER XCI. THE EXECUTION

CHAPTER XCII. THE MARRIAGE

PROLOGUE.–THE PREDICTIONS

AN OLD NOBLEMAN AND AN OLD MAÎTRE-D’HÔTEL.

It was the beginning of April, 1784, between twelve and one o’clock. Our old acquaintance, the Marshal de Richelieu, having with his own hands colored his eyebrows with a perfumed dye, pushed away the mirror which was held to him by his valet, the successor of his faithful Raffè and shaking his head in the manner peculiar to himself, “Ah!” said he, “now I look myself;” and rising from his seat with juvenile vivacity, he commenced shaking off the powder which had fallen from his wig over his blue velvet coat, then, after taking a turn or two up and down his room, called for his maître-d’hôtel.

In five minutes this personage made his appearance, elaborately dressed.

The marshal turned towards him, and with a gravity befitting the occasion, said, “Sir, I suppose you have prepared me a good dinner?”

“Certainly, your grace.”

“You have the list of my guests?”

“I remember them perfectly, your grace; I have prepared a dinner for nine.”

“There are two sorts of dinners, sir,” said the marshal.

“True, your grace, but–”

The marshal interrupted him with a slightly impatient movement, although still dignified.

“Do you know, sir, that whenever I have heard the word ‘but,’ and I have heard it many times in the course of eighty-eight years, it has been each time, I am sorry to say, the harbinger of some folly.”

“Your grace–”

“In the first place, at what time do we dine?”

“Your grace, the citizens dine at two, the bar at three, the nobility at four–”

“And I, sir?”

“Your grace will dine to-day at five.”

“Oh, at five!”

“Yes, your grace, like the king–”

“And why like the king?”

“Because, on the list of your guests, is the name of a king.”

“Not so, sir, you mistake; all my guests to-day are simply noblemen.”

“Your grace is surely jesting; the Count Haga,who is among the guests–”

“Well, sir!”

“The Count Haga is a king.”

“I know no king so called.”

“Your grace must pardon me then,” said the maître-d’hôtel, bowing, “but, I believed, supposed–”

“Your business, sir, is neither to believe nor suppose; your business is to read, without comment, the orders I give you. When I wish a thing to be known, I tell it; when I do not tell it, I wish it unknown.”

The maître-d’hôtel bowed again, more respectfully, perhaps, than he would have done to a reigning monarch.

“Therefore, sir,” continued the old marshal, “you will, as I have none but noblemen to dinner, let us dine at my usual hour, four o’clock.”

At this order, the countenance of the maître-d’hôtel became clouded as if he had heard his sentence of death; he grew deadly pale; then, recovering himself, with the courage of despair he said, “In any event, your grace cannot dine before five o’clock.”

“Why so, sir?” cried the marshal.

“Because it is utterly impossible.”

“Sir,” said the marshal, with a haughty air, “it is now, I believe, twenty years since you entered my service?”

“Twenty-one years, a month, and two weeks.”

“Well, sir, to these twenty-one years, a month, and two weeks, you will not add a day, nor an hour. You understand me, sir,” he continued, biting his thin lips and depressing his eyebrows; “this evening you seek a new master. I do not choose that the word impossible shall be pronounced in my house; I am too old now to begin to learn its meaning.”

The maître-d’hôtel bowed a third time.

“This evening,” said he, “I shall have taken leave of your grace, but, at least, up to the last moment, my duty shall have been performed as it should be;” and he made two steps towards the door.

“What do you call as it should be?” cried the marshal. “Learn, sir, that to do it as it suits me is to do it as it should be. Now, I wish to dine at four, and it does not suit me, when I wish to dine at four, to be obliged to wait till five.”

“Your grace,” replied the maître-d’hôtel, gravely, “I have served as butler to his highness the Prince de Soubise, and as steward to his eminence the Cardinal de Rohan. With the first, his majesty, the late King of France, dined once a year; with the second, the Emperor of Austria dined once a month. I know, therefore, how a sovereign should be treated. When he visited the Prince de Soubise, Louis XV. called himself in vain the Baron de Gonesse; at the house of M. de Rohan, the Emperor Joseph was announced as the Count de Packenstein; but he was none the less emperor. To-day, your grace also receives a guest, who vainly calls himself Count Haga–Count Haga is still King of Sweden. I shall leave your service this evening, but Count Haga will have been treated like a king.”

“But that,” said the marshal, “is the very thing that I am tiring myself to death in forbidding; Count Haga wishes to preserve his incognito as strictly as possible. Well do I see through your absurd vanity; it is not the crown that you honor, but yourself that you wish to glorify; I repeat again, that I do not wish it imagined that I have a king here.”

“What, then, does your grace take me for? It is not that I wish it known that there is a king here.”

“Then in heaven’s name do not be obstinate, but let us have dinner at four.”

“But at four o’clock, your grace, what I am expecting will not have arrived.”

“What are you expecting? a fish, like M. Vatel?”

“Does your grace wish that I should tell you?”

“On my faith, I am curious.”

“Then, your grace, I wait for a bottle of wine.”

“A bottle of wine! Explain yourself, sir, the thing begins to interest me.”

“Listen then, your grace; his majesty the King of Sweden–I beg pardon, the Count Haga I should have said–drinks nothing but tokay.”

“Well, am I so poor as to have no tokay in my cellar? If so, I must dismiss my butler.”

“Not so, your grace; on the contrary, you have about sixty bottles.”

“Well, do you think Count Haga will drink sixty bottles with his dinner?”

“No, your grace; but when Count Haga first visited France, when he was only prince royal, he dined with the late king, who had received twelve bottles of tokay from the Emperor of Austria. You are aware that the tokay of the finest vintages is reserved exclusively for the cellar of the emperor, and that kings themselves can only drink it when he pleases to send it to them.”

“I know it.”

“Then, your grace, of these twelve bottles of which the prince royal drank, only two remain. One is in the cellar of his majesty Louis XVI.–”

“And the other?”

“Ah, your grace!” said the maître-d’hôtel, with a triumphant smile, for he felt that, after the long battle he had been fighting, the moment of victory was at hand, “the other one was stolen.”

“By whom, then?”

“By one of my friends, the late king’s butler, who was under great obligations to me.”

“Oh! and so he gave it to you.”

“Certainly, your grace,” said the maître-d’hôtel with pride.

“And what did you do with it?”

“I placed it carefully in my master’s cellar.”

“Your master! And who was your master at that time?”

“His eminence the Cardinal de Rohan.”

“Ah, mon Dieu! at Strasbourg?”

“At Saverne.”

“And you have sent to seek this bottle for me!” cried the old marshal.

“For you, your grace,” replied the maître-d’hôtel, in a tone which plainly said, “ungrateful as you are.”

The Duke de Richelieu seized the hand of the old servant and cried, “I beg pardon; you are the king of maîtres d’hôtel.”

“And you would have dismissed me,” he replied, with an indescribable shrug of his shoulders.

“Oh, I will pay you one hundred pistoles for this bottle of wine.”

“And the expenses of its coming here will be another hundred; but you will grant that it is worth it.”

“I will grant anything you please, and, to begin, from to-day I double your salary.”

“I seek no reward, your grace; I have but done my duty.”

“And when will your courier arrive?”

“Your grace may judge if I have lost time: on what day did I have my orders for the dinner?”

“Why, three days ago, I believe.”

“It takes a courier, at his utmost speed, twenty-four hours to go, and the same to return.”

“There still remain twenty-four hours,” said the marshal; “how have they been employed?”

“Alas, your grace, they were lost. The idea only came to me the day after I received the list of your guests. Now calculate the time necessary for the negotiation, and you will perceive that in asking you to wait till five I am only doing what I am absolutely obliged to do.”

“The bottle is not yet arrived, then?”

“No, your grace.”

“Ah, sir, if your colleague at Saverne be as devoted to the Prince de Rohan as you are to me, and should refuse the bottle, as you would do in his place–”

“I? your grace–”

“Yes; you would not, I suppose, have given away such a bottle, had it belonged to me?”

“I beg your pardon, humbly, your grace; but had a friend, having a king to provide for, asked me for your best bottle of wine, he should have had it immediately.”

“Oh!” said the marshal, with a grimace.

“It is only by helping others that we can expect help in our own need, your grace.”

“Well, then, I suppose we may calculate that it will be given, but there is still another risk–if the bottle should be broken?”

“Oh! your grace, who would break a bottle of wine of that value?”

“Well, I trust not; what time, then, do you expect your courier?”

“At four o’clock precisely.”

“Then why not dine at four?” replied the marshal.

“Your grace, the wine must rest for an hour; and had it not been for an invention of my own, it would have required three days to recover itself.”

Beaten at all points, the marshal gave way.

“Besides,” continued the old servant, “be sure, your grace, that your guests will not arrive before half-past four.”

“And why not?”

“Consider, your grace: to begin with M. de Launay; he comes from the Bastile, and with the ice at present covering the streets of Paris–”

“No; but he will leave after the prisoners’ dinner, at twelve o’clock.”

“Pardon me, your grace, but the dinner hour at the Bastile has been changed since your grace was there; it is now one.”

“Sir, you are learned on all points; pray go on.”

“Madame Dubarry comes from the Luciennes, one continued descent, and in this frost.”

“That would not prevent her being punctual, since she is no longer a duke’s favorite; she plays the queen only among barons; but let me tell you, sir, that I desire to have dinner early on account of M. de la Pérouse, who sets off to-night, and would not wish to be late.”

“But, your grace, M. de la Pérouse is with the king, discussing geography and cosmography; he will not get away too early.”

“It is possible.”

“It is certain, your grace, and it will be the same with M. de Favras, who is with the Count de Provence, talking, no doubt, of the new play by the Canon de Beaumarchais.”

“You mean the ‘Marriage of Figaro’?”

“Yes, your grace.”

“Why, you are quite literary also, it seems.”

“In my leisure moments I read, your grace.”

“We have, however, M. de Condorcet, who, being a geometrician, should at least be punctual.”

“Yes; but he will be deep in some calculation, from which, when he rouses himself, it will probably be at least half an hour too late. As for the Count Cagliostro, as he is a stranger, and not well acquainted with the customs of Versailles, he will, in all probability, make us wait for him.”

“Well,” said the marshal, “you have disposed of all my guests, except M. de Taverney, in a manner worthy of Homer, or of my poor Raffè.”

The maître-d’hôtel bowed. “I have not,” said he, “named M. de Taverney, because, being an old friend, he will probably be punctual.”

“Good; and where do we dine?”

“In the great dining-room, your grace.”

“But we shall freeze there.”

“It has been warmed for three days, your grace; and I believe you will find it perfectly comfortable.”

“Very well; but there is a clock striking! Why, it is half-past four!” cried the marshal.

“Yes, your grace; and there is the courier entering the courtyard with my bottle of tokay.”

“May I continue for another twenty years to be served in this manner!” said the marshal, turning again to his looking-glass, while the maître-d’hôtel ran down-stairs.

“Twenty years!” said a laughing voice, interrupting the marshal in his survey of himself; “twenty years, my dear duke! I wish them you; but then I shall be sixty–I shall be very old.”

“You, countess!” cried the marshal, “you are my first arrival, and, mon Dieu! you look as young and charming as ever.”

“Duke, I am frozen.”

“Come into the boudoir, then.”

“Oh! tête-à-tête, marshal?”

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