Cases of Circumstantial Evidence

Cases of Circumstantial Evidence

JANET LEWIS
Introduction by Kevin Haworth
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Ohio University Press,
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt46n3h1
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  • Book Info
    Cases of Circumstantial Evidence
    Book Description:

    This is the first digital version ofCases of Circumstantial Evidence,a collection of three historical novels by noted American writer Janet Lewis. For the first time, these works have been brought together in a single edition, each with a new introduction by Kevin Haworth:The Wife of Martin GuerreBased on a notorious trial in sixteenth-century France, The Wife of Martin Guerre follows Bertrande de Rois and her lost-and-returned husband through a tale of impersonation, conspiracy, and small-town intrigue. Their fascinating story has also inspired a bestselling historical study and two films, including The Return of Martin Guerre.The Trial of Sören QvistAlthough set in seventeenth-century Denmark, The Trial of Sören Qvist has a contemporary feel and has been praised for its intriguing plot and for Lewis's powerful writing. In this second novel in the Cases of Circumstantial Evidence, Lewis recounts the story of a murder, an investigation, and a pious town pastor who confesses to the crime, driven perhaps more by a recognition of his own moral flaws than by guilt for the acts of which he stood accused.The Ghost of Monsieur ScarronThe court of Louis XIV and a modest Paris street provide the incongruous settings for this tale of a humble bookbinder, his wife, and the young craftsman who seduces her and blackmails her husband into covering up a terrible crime. This third and last case of circumstantial evidence bristles with character, the smell of blood, and considerable suspense against a backdrop of national political unrest in the cruel and dingy Paris of the seventeenth century.

    eISBN: 978-0-8040-4056-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-v)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vi-vi)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. vii-xvi)
    Kevin Haworth

    The three Janet Lewis novels that together make up Cases of Circumstantial Evidence, gathered here in one edition for the first time, were originally published over the course of almost two decades. But together and separately, they explore themes consistent with their author’s long and notable career. From the French countryside ofThe Wife of Martin Guerre, the most famous of Lewis’s novels, toThe Trial of Sören Qvist, drawn from the tragic story of a parson well known in its native Denmark, toThe Ghost of Monsieur Scarron, set in Louis XIV’s Paris, the three novels range widely in...

  4. The Wife of Martin Guerre
    • I. Artigues
      (pp. 3-64)

      One morning in January, 1539, a wedding was celebrated in the village of Artigues. That night the two children who had been espoused to one another lay in bed in the house of the groom’s father. They were Bertrande de Rols, aged eleven years, and Martin Guerre, who was no older, both offspring of rich peasant families as ancient, as feudal and as proud as any of the great seignorial houses of Gascony. The room was cold. Outside the snow lay thinly over the stony ground, or, gathered into long shallow drifts at the corners of houses, left the earth...

    • II. Rieux
      (pp. 65-72)

      The accusation had been made at Rieux, since Artigues was too small a place to boast a court, and thither Bertrande went with her uncle, Pierre, and the servants who were to be called as witnesses. She stayed in the house of her mother’s sister, occupying the same room which she had been given on her earlier visit, and in which the sun had always seemed to shine through western windows in the morning. But this time the sun shone from the east, as it should do, and Bertrande marveled that she had ever felt confused about the direction. In...

    • III. Toulouse
      (pp. 73-98)

      It is difficult to relate all that Bertrande de Rols suffered in the days which followed directly upon this decision. She returned to Artigues, to a house in which all peace and contentment had been destroyed. Nor was there anyone in Artigues, except Martin’s uncle, who did not by word or gesture blame her for this destruction. Sanxi regarded her with frightened, incredulous eyes, or slipped from a room as she entered, like a small animal who has been beaten continuously and without having offended. Nor was the matter ended. If the sentence had been carried through without delay, Bertrande...

    • Afterword: The Return of Janet Lewis
      (pp. 99-116)
      Larry McMurtry

      In 1922 the printer-typographer Monroe Wheeler, who would go on to have a long and distinguished career with MoMA, set off to be a young-man-about-Europe. He was determined to publish poetry and publish it elegantly, to which end he established (first in Germany) an imprint called Manikin, under which he issued three booklets of verse. The first,The Indians in the Woods, was by a young Midwestern poet named Janet Lewis; William Carlos Williams’s Go Go was the second; the third and last wasMarriage, by Marianne Moore.

      Not long before he left Illinois, Wheeler had got his feet wet...

  5. The Trial of Sören Qvist
    • One
      (pp. 119-126)

      The inn lay in a hollow, the low hill, wooded with leafless beech trees, rising behind it in a gentle round just high enough to break the good draft from the inn chimneys, so that on this chill day the smoke rose a little and then fell downward. The air was clouded with dampness. It was late November, late in the afternoon, but no sunlight came from the west, and to the east the sky was walled with cloud where the cold fog thickened above the shores of Jutland. There was a smell of sea in the air even these...

    • Two
      (pp. 127-144)

      The one-armed beggar went on toward the village of Aalsö. After the nearness of warmth and nourishment withheld, the evening seemed increasingly lonely and the cold more penetrating. The twilight faded so slowly that the lessening of the light seemed rather a thickening of the air, as those night vapors considered full of harm and contagion gathered in the hollows of the road, in the low bushes, and in the shadows of the beechwoods. The fawn and umber tones of the dried weeds, the sandy road, in the gentle landscape were gradually obscured, and the faint pale gold of the...

    • Three
      (pp. 145-149)

      Judge Tryg Thorwaldsen was entertaining guests, but he left his place at the table to greet the pastor from Aalsö. From the door at the head of the stairs, for the dining room was on the first floor, the pastor surveyed the company seated about the long oak table. The room was narrow, paneled with oak. On the one side a row of narrow casement windows overlooked the street. This night their leaded panes shone like black water, or, where the glass was set unevenly, caught the candlelight like small mirrors. The center of the table was a blaze of...

    • Four
      (pp. 150-163)

      After Vibeke had seen the pastor cloaked and mounted and upon his way to Vejlby, she brought fresh wood to the fire and then, latching the door against a slight wind that seemed to be rising from the west, returned to her seat behind the fire. The beggar had not stirred from his place on the other side of the hearth.

      Vibeke was learning afresh that doubt is a dreadful torment. And twenty-one years is a long time over which to recall a face of which you never took especial note. The excitement which had possessed the beggar a short...

    • Five
      (pp. 164-178)

      The man who painted the sign of the Red Horse Inn at Vejlby was a realist rather than a theorist. He painted what he saw, like an artist, rather than what he knew, like a child or a farmer. Therefore the red horse of the sign stood with his forelegs close together, one obscuring the other, and his hind legs properly apart, as had stood the model for the sign. It was something of a joke in the surrounding country, but the painter had long since gone his wandering way, and even had he been at hand when the criticism...

    • Six
      (pp. 179-192)

      On a morning shortly before Whitsun, Parson Sören Jensen Qvist was seated in his study. This room, like that in which the bride bed stood, was ceiled. It had one small window, unglazed, to be closed with a wooden shutter, and one door which opened on the passage to the kitchen and the garden. The door was closed this morning, for the parson wished to be uninterrupted. The window was open, and through it came the rustle of leaves, for in the week or more elapsing since May Eve, when the boughs stood veiled in the faintest green, the leaves...

    • Seven
      (pp. 193-198)

      On Whitsunday of the year 1625, Parson Sören Qvist baptized the child of Hans and Ida Möller with water and salt into the community of Christ. Majestic in the authority which he assumed on Sundays, robed in the long black ornat with the white gauffered collar which Anna kept fresh and crisp for him with much patient care, he took the heavily swaddled little infant into the hands which had helped deliver the Star, daughter of Golden Rose, which had handled the plow and the udders of his kine, which was stained with earth as well as with the herbs...

    • Eight
      (pp. 199-208)

      The linden crowns grew thick about the steep roofs of the parsonage, and in the corners of walls and by the edge of the pond the burdock grew tall. The geese took shelter under the coarse rough leaves, and the children made baskets of the green burrs. Cinquefoil, with small yellow blossom, and ranunculus, with glossy yellow cup, edged the sunny roads, and the weather was warm so that the cattle remained in the fields all night. It was early June when the betrothal of Judge Tryg Thorwaldsen and Anna Sörensdaughter was celebrated. At Tryg’s wish, the betrothal dinner was...

    • Nine
      (pp. 209-219)

      Anna did not know when the dancing stopped and the last guests departed. She woke once and noticed that everything was still, but the pallor which showed through the crack between the shutters was not that of morning. Then she slept again, and woke late. There were voices in the kitchen. She heard the chain clink as someone ran a bucket down the well, and she heard the jingling of harness as a team was led out to the fields.

      She lay still for a few minutes longer, stretching herself under the light warm covering of the feather quilt. Then...

    • Ten
      (pp. 220-231)

      In less than a week Niels returned to the parsonage. He came to the field where Hans and the pastor were cultivating. Hans saw him advance through the young rye and approach the parson with his hat in his hand and his head bent. He expected to see him depart again promptly, but the parson spoke to him at length, and, it seemed, very kindly.

      “Parson Sören,” said Niels, his eyes on his old black felt hat, “my brother Morten will have nothing to do with me. Since I came to you, he says I’m no brother of his. He...

    • Eleven
      (pp. 232-240)

      So Niels stayed on. He had become, in a way beyond his comprehension, possessed of an immunity as far as his master was concerned. He noticed, even he, that Sören Qvist, when speaking to him, had developed the habit of standing with his hands behind his back. He was aware that all rebukes for his laziness or his incompetence were tempered by a great patience. He received also many preachments, as he called them. The parson praised him, encouraged him, reasoned with him, and all of this which might have touched a man with some faint essence of nobility became...

    • Twelve
      (pp. 241-253)

      On the second night following the parson’s great anger, Kirsten did not sleep very well. She thought that the parson did not rest well either. Lying awake beside Vibeke, she thought she heard him moving about. The weather seemed to be changing. The down quilt felt too warm, and the girl was thirsty. She got up for a drink of water and heard the wind rising, noticed how relaxed and soft was the night air. As she returned to bed she caught a glimpse in the passageway of the green dressing gown and white nightcap of the parson, and her...

    • Thirteen
      (pp. 254-260)

      They took Sören Qvist to the jail at Grenaa, Anna riding with them because she would not leave him. The parsonage was left in a turmoil. Nevertheless, in spite of the excitement and confusion, before nightfall certain things were accomplished. Hans and Lars Sondergaard had made a wooden coffin and had placed therein the rotting body. The pit in the garden had been filled and the garden beds made orderly. Since Vibeke would not permit the coffin to remain at the parsonage through the night, the two men placed it on a barrow and carried it to Vejlby churchyard. Kirsten...

    • Fourteen
      (pp. 261-269)

      Late in the afternoon of that same day when the first hearing of the parson’s case was held, the body disinterred in his garden was committed to holy ground in Vejlby churchyard, under the ministration of Peder Korf of Aalsö. Morten Bruus was there as witness and mourner, and Judge Thorwaldsen as the King’s representative. In order to avoid the pile of unheaved earth, these two stood unwillingly side by side. Peder Korf took his position at the head of the grave, the sexton stood at the foot. Under the clouded sky the freshly turned earth, glazed where the spade...

    • Fifteen
      (pp. 270-284)

      Tryg’s conversation with Pastor Korf in the churchyard at Vejlby left him no heart for a visit with Anna Sörensdaughter that evening. All through the grim afternoon he had cherished the thought of speaking with her; the tenderness of his thought for her was a charm against the malice and hatred which he felt drawing ever closer about them all. Yet when the moment came, when he had said good night to the pastor from Aalsö and he was free to turn to his love, the sense of his own predicament, which the pastor’s words had made so plain, checked...

    • Sixteen
      (pp. 285-288)

      There had come a fisher’s boat to Varberg in Skaane with a catch of herring. The young overseer of a manor some miles inland, being in the harbor town on business, came down to the docks to visit with the fishermen. He had made a habit of doing so for many years. He had talked to men from both sides of the Kattegat, from Norway, from the islands of Zealand and Fünen. Those who returned often to Varberg remembered him, and brought him news of their home ports. He was most interested in the news from Jutland. On this day...

    • Seventeen
      (pp. 289-297)

      Mist lay on the fields that November morning as the party from Vejlby parsonage took the road to Rosmos. With them rode Peder Sörensen, a solid, fair-haired figure, firm in the saddle, and lending to them all, in his quiet young strength, a new security and hope. His father had been right: the very walls of the parsonage had been glad to see him, and Vibeke had laughed and cried until she hardly knew whether she were joyous or sad. She had been much distressed at the parson’s refusal of her advice; that he refused to have the new grave...

    • Eighteen
      (pp. 298-306)

      The pastor regained consciousness very slowly. Those who were watching him saw him move his hand a little, then, after an interval, he opened his eyes, but he did not look at any of them. The eyes, focused as if upon some very remote object, might, in their rapt and steady concentration, have been observing an apocalyptic vision. His lips were still colorless, and his breathing light and irregular. Then the color began to return to the lips, a faint brushing in of pink upon a gray base, and the concentration of the eyes broke. The gaze wavered and looked...

    • Nineteen
      (pp. 307-314)

      That afternoon the wind began to blow a little, shifting the mist that had overhung the countryside. As Anna and her companions left Rosmos, riding on slowly past wooded knolls and gently rolling farmland, lights and shadows began to change above the trees; the oaks shone suddenly coppery bright as a patch of sunlight moved across them. The field beyond was a sudden emerald, with sprouting aftermath; and there were distances of deep, aqueous blue. But the sunlight was intermittent, and when the sun was clouded again, the oaks shone dull like copper pans through the peat smoke of a...

    • Twenty
      (pp. 315-319)

      The jail wife was seated near the fire with her child in her arms. She looked up briefly as Anna entered the room, but did not greet her. The jailkeeper came from a shadowy corner and went directly to the door to the inner room, which he unlocked and held open. Nor did he speak to Anna, and the girl, remembering his friendliness of the morning found it strange. The basket cumbersome in one hand, the weight of her small parcel of belongings tugging at the arm beneath the cape, she made her way awkwardly past the jailkeeper to the...

    • Twenty-One
      (pp. 320-325)

      The motion of the boat was acquiescent to the motion of the wave that sank behind the stern with a prolonged liquid gurgle, both boat and wave running before the light, steady wind. The prow made a soft crushing noise that swelled and faded in a long, slow rhythm. The sail held steady. Seated in the stern, with her cloak drawn close about her against the chill air from the water, Anna Sörensdaughter swayed to the easy motion of the boat. The world was darkness, lighted below from the pallor of the water reflected from the pallor of the sky....

    • Twenty-Two
      (pp. 326-332)

      The girl slept long, the youthfulness of her body taking mastery over the sorrow of her mind. She slept deeply, below any dreaming remembrance of her grief, and when she woke she was refreshed and strengthened. Before she had opened her eyes she thought that she was in her own room at Vejlby. Then the lids fluttered open, and she saw, close above her head, the gray, waterworn timbers of the roof. She turned her head and saw the iron brazier standing three-legged on the sandy floor, and beyond it, against the wall, a stool, a chest, a twig broom...

  6. The Ghost of Monsieur Scarron
    • One
      (pp. 335-353)

      Jean Larcher, bookbinder, was at supper with his wife and son. The day was Easter Sunday, which in that year of Grace, 1694, the fifty-first year of the reign of Louis XIV, fell upon the eleventh of April. They sat about a table spread with white linen in one of the four rooms which he rented in an old building in the rue des Lions, in Paris, a building which was old even then. The room served as kitchen, living room, and salesroom, and it was very small. It had a certain elegance, however, in spite of the stone floor...

    • Two
      (pp. 354-377)

      That same evening a little before sundown Paul Damas came upon the great Place des Victoires. He had not been searching for it; he had, in fact, been lost. But, working his way through a tangle of narrow and evil-smelling little streets, he emerged suddenly upon the clarity and spacious symmetry of the Place, and knew at once where he was. He had heard of the Place des Victoires even in Auxerre, from which he had lately come, and for the first time, to Paris.

      There stood the great hôtels, the mansions of the rich or of the noble, encircling...

    • Three
      (pp. 378-397)

      “Our Father who art at Marly,” went the paternoster of the Ballad Singer. But the King was not at Marly on that Easter night, nor at any of the other châteaux where he sometimes went for relaxation. He was at Versailles. He had returned there at the beginning of Holy Week to perform his part in the ceremonies of the church. He had passed an exhausting week. He had prayed, he had repented, he had washed the feet of the poor and given alms, he had touched for the King’s evil, and he had also suffered extreme anxiety because of...

    • Four
      (pp. 398-418)

      Paul Damas, the morning after Easter, woke to a timeless moment and did not know where he was. The voice which wakened him was familiar, yet he could not place it. He lay so far beneath the surface of consciousness that, although he heard the voice, he could not reply.

      The voice evoked another which said, also from a great distance, “Call back the wandering soul,” and this voice he recognized as that of the priest who had taught him to read, had taught him his catechism, and had taught him a smattering of the ancients, an old man in...

    • Five
      (pp. 419-427)

      Monsieur found his wife writing letters. At her feet was a basket of honey-colored Spaniel puppies. About her shoulders, over her dressing gown, was an old fur pelerine which she had brought with her years ago, at the time of their marriage, from the Palatinate. Her hair, uncovered, had not yet been arranged for the day. She wore no paint or powder on her face—but she never did. Every freckle and pockmark and wrinkle showed as plainly as God intended it to. A short, thick-set old woman, more stocky than fat, for she exercised daily, she greeted Monsieur without...

    • Six
      (pp. 428-437)

      That Monday night in Paris, Paul Damas and Nicolas Larcher walked for a long time on the Mail between the river and the Arsenal. The stars came out in pale clusters above the clotted new leaves of the elms; the smell of the river dominated and then obliterated the various scents and odors of the day. The coldness of the water seemed to rise and flow about their ankles. The Quai was deserted, the Port below so quiet that the young men could hear the water lapping at the sides of the boats. Nicolas decided that he must go home....

    • Seven
      (pp. 438-450)

      The title of the pamphlet as the King had given it to Monsieur de Pontchartrain had already been sent to the rue St.-Jacques to be added to the list of proscribed publications which Denis Thierry printed for the King. La Reynie, having examined the pamphlet, sent further identifying information, such as the name of the publisher and the date, and a description of the format—in duodecimo, 136 pages,y compris la gravure—and requested that the revised list be distributed as soon as possible. It did not occur to him to correct the title. In due time the list...

    • Eight
      (pp. 451-456)

      It was almost noon of the following Monday, April the nineteenth, before La Reynie’s men brought their search to the rue des Lions. Paul and Nicolas were alone in the bindery; it was the first time since Paul’s hiring that such a situation had occurred. They both worked steadily, but a little while after Jean’s departure Paul, unthinking, began to whistle softly.

      He was rounding the back of a book. His hammer fell with light, even blows, accurate, identical, monotonous. Over its unaccented, unvarying beat, the tune floated, stopped, began again, in no relation to the tapping but blending with...

    • Nine
      (pp. 457-473)

      It had been agreed that Nicolas would pay his own way on his adventure. Therefore, on the morning when at last the boy was to take the coach to Rouen, while he was still packing his portmanteau, it came almost as a shock to have his father place in his hand first a roll of coins sewed tightly in a bit of blue silk, and then an old money belt of chamois, stained and stretched about the buckle. He had braced himself to keep his bargain, to be entirely responsible for himself. He had braced himself also against his father’s...

    • Ten
      (pp. 474-483)

      On the day that Nicolas left for Rouen, Monsieur Robert, Procureur du Roi au Châtelet, paid his usual Monday visit to Monsieur de La Reynie. He passed La Reynie’s barber in the antechamber and found La Reynie himself freshly shaven but still in his dressing gown, writing a letter.

      “To Monsieur le Commissaire de La Marre,” the letter began, “the 26th of April, 1694.

      “Send me today, early, a note upon what you have found concerning the last booklet, and what proof we may hope to obtain against those who printed it; because the King desires this offense to be...

    • Eleven
      (pp. 484-496)

      Jean Larcher and his wife made their pilgrimage on Tuesday morning with the parish of St.-Paul. They marched under a cloudless sky, leaving the rue St.-Paul at eleven and returning to the rue des Lions late in the afternoon, exhausted. Paul Damas accompanied Jean, considering himself more a parishioner of the quarter where he worked than of that where he lodged. He had not been to confession at any church since he had come to Paris.

      On Wednesday, long after sundown, Marianne lay awake. The heat was not excessive; it was not that which kept her from sleeping. Jean slept,...

    • Twelve
      (pp. 497-506)

      The rain continued all that night, and all the next day, and all the day after that. The city was purified as it had not been in months. Pentecost dawned fair on a refreshed world, and on Pentecost it was announced in the churches that on the very day and hour of the descent of the shrine to the cathedral a great victory had been awarded the King’s army in Catalonia.

      In profound gratitude to God, the King requested the Archbishop of Paris to have aTe Deumsung on June the ninth in the cathedral. On that day the...

    • Thirteen
      (pp. 507-520)

      In the weeks that followed, Marianne learned many deceptions. Most of them were simple. She learned to look at Paul in Jean’s presence so that her feeling was not visible in her face. She learned to accept with pride, knowing the reason, Paul’s disregard of her when they were not alone together; and she learned to multiply occasions when they might be alone.

      Life was no longer monotonous. Any moment might yield an encounter which would make her tingle with pleasure to her heels. And since any moment might betray her through some chance gesture or sudden change of color,...

    • Fourteen
      (pp. 521-526)

      In mid-August came a letter from Rouen, signed by Mademoiselle Marianne Cailloué.

      “Since my mother is very infirm because of her advancing age, in order to spare her fatigue, I permit myself the honor of answering your inquiry regarding your son. Unfortunately we were unable to give him employment since our business is small and Monsieur Jean Dumesnil, who is my mother’s partner, is able to handle most of our work alone. He has also the assistance of his brother Jacques. We were happy to receive your son. He passed several evenings in conversation with Monsieur Jean Dumesnil before he...

    • Fifteen
      (pp. 527-536)

      The calm pleasure which he had experienced in the walled garden with the beehives deceived Paul. Tasting the sweetness of the honey, looking at Marianne, he had felt in control of himself and of his passion. He had substituted one sensuous delight for another, and he had flattered his self-love by behaving for an afternoon like a man of honor. It seemed to him that he could lay by this love or take it up as he pleased, and although on the morrow he felt the return of his desire, refreshed, and sharper than ever, he believed in his continued...

    • Sixteen
      (pp. 537-547)

      On Monday morning, however, Paul showed up for work at his usual hour. He appeared a little grey and tired, as if he had not slept well the night before. At noon, when he sat down to eat with Marianne and Jean, he was as courteous as ever to his master’s wife, and more than ever interested in what his master had to say. There were no stolen glances for Marianne, no smiles, and she felt, as she had felt on the road to the Porte St.-Antoine, that a void existed between them across which no sound could travel.

      She...

    • Seventeen
      (pp. 548-556)

      “So you had it out,” said Jean when she returned home. “It was time. Your eyes look like two holes burnt in a blanket.”

      By the next morning she was recovered physically. The swelling was imperceptible. The hole in her jaw no longer bled. No one would have suspected, to look at her, the ordeal of the day before. The sense of desolation remained, however. She was as firm as ever in her resolution to have nothing more to do with Paul, but the thought that he had so quickly replaced her was a torment.

      She went to market early,...

    • Eighteen
      (pp. 557-571)

      Paul made his preparations. They were simple. He bought a chisel on Wednesday on his way home from work. On Thursday evening he sauntered toward Les Halles, and outside the charnelhouses of the Innocents he found what he wanted, a scribe, to whom he dictated a letter. He mailed the letter that evening, and went to bed feeling confident that all was in order.

      He avoided Marianne during those two days with greater caution than ever. On Friday morning he began, at his own request, a project which would occupy him uniquely for nearly a week to come. It was...

    • Nineteen
      (pp. 572-588)

      The wind which had driven the rain ended by clearing the sky. The gutters ran with water for a while, and water dripped from the eaves. At dusk the streets filled with the usual evening mist. After supper in the rue des Lions, Marianne said to Jean:

      “What are you looking for?”

      “My pipe and my tobacco.”

      He ran his hand along the mantel as if he might find by touch what he failed to see. The tinderbox, the iron candlesticks, the copper tube for blowing the coals to life were all there. The pipe and tobacco should have been...

    • Twenty
      (pp. 589-602)

      The book trade of Lyon and that of Rouen were perpetually under suspicion. Both cities had chalked up against them, since the beginning of the reign, a long list of offenses. Lyon in especial, being so near the frontier, and Rouen, a harbor city and once the home of many Huguenots, were also suspect at all times on general principles. In August, following the arrest in Rouen of a small bookseller by the name of Lebrun, Monsieur de Pontchartrain ordered sent to Rouen an investigator from the Paris police, who was to report to the Président de la Berchère, the...

    • Twenty-One
      (pp. 603-609)

      Marianne stood outside the doors of the Grand Châtelet, dazed, and tried to think which way to turn to regain the Place de Grève. It was broad daylight. She judged the hour to be sometime after noon, but the long wait, the penumbra of the candlelighted room, the twisting passages through which she had been led back to the daylight and the open air left her without a proper sense of time or of direction. She followed the first people who passed her, and presently found herself approaching the Great Slaughterhouse. She turned about, passed once more under the archway...

    • Twenty-Two
      (pp. 610-621)

      Jacques Têtu suffered a severe migraine on the afternoon of September twenty-fifth. He had wished to attend complines at the cathedral; instead he attended vespers at St.-Paul, which was so near his dwelling. Returning from the service, he declined the supper which his housekeeper had prepared for him; he took a dose of laudanum and seated himself before his fire to wait for the effect of the drops. When the wife of the bookbinder in the rue des Lions was announced he could not immediately remember her, as much because of the pain as because of the opium. He had...

    • Twenty-Three
      (pp. 622-628)

      At the end of a week the abbé had not yet written his letter. Neither had he abandoned altogether the thought of writing it. He had given a promise, and although for sufficient reasons he could have absolved himself of the promise, the reasons he mustered were not, to his scrupulous mind, sufficient.

      October had come with weather that was golden and serene, the air sweetened by showers which passed and left the yellow leaves upon the ground to dry in the sunlight. Madame de Maintenon had requested of Racine a canticle for her girls at St.-Cyr. On Friday evening,...

    • Twenty-Four
      (pp. 629-631)

      The mild October weather which piled the sunny leaves in the forest of Fontainebleau, did not prevent an increase of illness in the city. Even before the first of October the fear of contagion had become so great that certain ladies requested to be excused from attending Mass in the churches. The Archbishop granted them permission to be served in their private chapels. The harvest had been good, but the price of bread had gone up. As in the spring, the streets were full of beggars, but these were not country people come to the city, but city people who...

    • Twenty-Five
      (pp. 632-640)

      On the eighteenth of October, late in the afternoon, a carriage from Rouen drove east upon the rue St.-Antoine and stopped at the narrow entry to the Bastille. The driver showed his papers, the gate was opened for him and his vehicle, and closed behind them. At the end of the passage he made a sharp turn to the left, crossed the first drawbridge and the Governor’s courtyard. The second drawbridge, at right angles to the first, led directly between the two great round towers of the southern aspect of the fortress. The hooves of the horses, the iron rims...

    • Twenty-Six
      (pp. 641-651)

      Allhallows came and went. The churches were hung with black, the candles burned for the dead, and in the white frost of early morning the footsteps of those who approached the churches were printed in black, at first singly, then overlapping each other repeatedly until all individual prints were merged.

      Marianne Larcher lighted her candles in the old church of Saint Paul, as she had lighted them year after year, for her parents, for her dead children, and tried to pray. She prayed for the dead in the words which she had been taught. When she tried to pray for...

    • Twenty-Seven
      (pp. 652-657)

      At six o’clock the wind descended upon the Place de Grève in gusts that shook the torches at the foot of the gibbet. The mass of the cathedral, seen broadside from the Place, rising above the crowded roofs on the Ile de la Cité, cut a straight dark line against the sky beneath the darkness of the clouds. A crowd had gathered about the gibbet. The archers of the guard cleared a way through it for the hangman’s cart. A few drops of rain hissed in the torches, but the storm was not yet ready to break. When the cart...

    • Twenty-Eight
      (pp. 658-668)

      The Tour de la Chapelle received the morning sunlight, whenever the day began with sunlight. It stood above the city fosse and the garden of Monsieur de Baismaux on the apron of the fortifications. The roofs and spires of the faubourg St.-Antoine would have been visible for those within the tower if the windows of the apartments, one room on each floor of the tower, had not been so high and narrow. The Widow Cailloué and her daughter could see only a sliver of the eastern sky.

      On the Friday when Jean Larcher and Pierre Rambault met their death there...

    • Twenty-Nine
      (pp. 669-672)

      On the twentieth of December there was to be another hanging. A little before six a crowd gathered before the Grand Châtelet. The gallows was set up in the Place de Grève. It was assumed that two men were to die, and both for having been involved in the publication and distribution of libels. No one in the crowd knew much about the nature of the libels. Snow was falling through the early darkness. It clung to the rough edges of the stone, to the shoulders of men and women, and in the corners of the street where no one...

    • Thirty
      (pp. 673-684)

      The January day had been dark and overcast. At noon a few flakes of snow had straggled downward from the heavy clouds and been trodden into the muddy slush which filled the streets of London. On the day of Queen Mary’s funeral other such desultory and random flakes had fallen upon the gold and purple of her bier, as it made its journey to Westminster, and her people had stood with their feet in the freezing slush to watch it pass. Nicolas Larcher had stood with them. He had observed that many of them wept, and since it had not...

    • Thirty-One
      (pp. 685-693)

      It was two long years, almost three years, before Louis and William reached an accord. In May of 1697 the plenipotentiaries of the Allies and of France met in the château of Ryswick, and began their discussions.

      There were endless details to be ruled upon before the talks for peace could begin. Charles the Eleventh of Sweden was dead in April of that year, and all the world knew it, but it was the middle of June before the Swedish moderator, having put his retinue, his carriages, his horses and all into black trappings, felt able to announce formally to...

    • Thirty-Two
      (pp. 694-709)

      The French coast appeared toward evening as the clouds lifted. It appeared with the colors of a pearl, pinkish, white, faintly green and flecked with pale gold, as if all the colors might be the effect of the late sunlight. It was the Norman coast above Le Havre, and the pink, Nicolas knew, was the cliffs. The sight moved him beyond his expectations.

      “You can go back to France,” said the old clockmaker, “but you won’t like it.” That was on the night when London celebrated the news of the peace with bonfires and uproarious gatherings in the alehouses and...

    • Thirty-Three
      (pp. 710-720)

      All that Nicolas was certain of, as he stood once more in the street, was that the head had not denied that Damas lodged there, behind that closed door. A succession of closed doors, a succession of postponements, of disappointments, of being sent from one person to another, acquiring from each person a new hope and a new reason for grief, for uncertainty—the day which had begun with such high anticipation had become a waking nightmare.

      What should he do now? Must he wait until morning to find Paul, to speak to his mother, to free himself of this...