Men’s tongues were very busy that day; every one foreboding calamity and nobody knowing how to meet it.
My mother sent me, after breakfast, to visit my uncle Chambrun, who had fallen sick; and as the distance was about seven leagues, I went to him on a small but active horse. On my arrival, I found him in bed, with a royal commissioner seated beside him, who was talking to him with great show of courtesy, while my uncle looked much wearied. The bishop of Valence was on the other side of his bed. Finding myself in such high company, I fell back, and awaited a better opportunity of presenting myself.
The commissioner was inquiring very sedulously after my uncle’s health, and assuring him he respected him greatly, and wished to show him favor.
“We have been constrained,” said he, “to subject several of your colleagues to temporary confinement, but I have great hope that nothing of the kind will be necessary in your case, if you are a man of wisdom who know how to comply with exigencies as they arise, and thereby set an example to those around you. To this end the bishop has come to put a few easy interrogations. It is a mere form, and I am sure you will make no difficulty.”
My uncle thanked him for his kind expressions, but said he had a Master in heaven to whom he owed his first duty.
“So have we all,” interposed the bishop. And that he should make answer with that end in view and nothing else.
The bishop then took up the word, and very little can I remember of what he said, so hampered was I by his presence; but it was plain that he sought to entangle my uncle in his talk. That was no easy thing to do, my uncle was so temperate and logical, and so much more conversant with the Holy Scriptures than the bishop was.
The commissioner, perceiving that the bishop was getting the worst of it, broke in with—
“All this is beside the mark. The king is determined that you, Monsieur Chambrun, should be a good Catholic; so it is no good begging off. You had much better accept the good offer made you, which I trust you will do on thinking it over.”
“The only offer I desire,” replied my uncle, “is of a passport, to enable me, as soon as I am well enough, to follow my brother ministers to Holland. My reason tells me—”
“A truce with your reason,” interrupted the bishop, rising to go away. “You have too much rhetoric by half. I advise you to reflect and to obey.”
“Monseigneur, I am sure you think you are giving me the best advice,” said my uncle, feebly. “Nephew, see the noble and reverend gentlemen out.”
My uncle Chambrun.
Having done so, I returned to my uncle, and said to him,—“Uncle, the bishop has gone away in great wrath, vowing that you shall repent of your conduct.”
“And when I would have made way for him,” said my aunt, indignantly, “he called me a bad name, and looked as if I were the very scum of the earth.”