The terrible old miser advanced, like the hour of death to a criminal. In this extremity Philippe, instigated by love, recovered his presence of mind; he slipped into a doorway, pressing himself back into the angle of it, and awaited the old man. When Cornelius, holding his lamp in advance of him, came into line with the current of air which the young man could send from his lungs, the lamp was blown out. Cornelius muttered vague words and swore a Dutch oath; but he turned and retraced his steps. The young man then rushed to his room, caught up his dagger and returned to the blessed window, opened it softly and jumped upon the roof.
Once at liberty under the open sky, he felt weak, so happy was he. Perhaps the extreme agitation of his danger of the boldness of the enterprise caused his emotion; victory is often as perilous as battle. He leaned against the balustrade, quivering with joy and saying to himself:—
“By which chimney can I get to her?”
He looked at them all. With the instinct given by love, he went to all and felt them to discover in which there had been a fire. Having made up his mind on that point, the daring young fellow stuck his dagger securely in a joint between two stones, fastened a silken ladder to it, threw the ladder down the chimney and risked himself upon it, trusting to his good blade, and to the chance of not having mistaken his mistress’s room. He knew not whether Saint-Vallier was asleep or awake, but one thing he was resolved upon, he would hold the countess in his arms if it cost the life of two men.
Presently his feet gently touched the warm embers; he bent more gently still and saw the countess seated in an armchair; and she saw him. Pale with joy and palpitating, the timid creature showed him, by the light of the lamp, Saint-Vallier lying in a bed about ten feet from her. We may well believe their burning silent kisses echoed only in their hearts.
The robbery of the jewels of the Duke of Bavaria
The next day, about nine in the morning, as Louis XI. was leaving his chapel after hearing mass, he found Maitre Cornelius on his path.
“Good luck to you, crony,” he said, shoving up his cap in his hasty way.
“Sire, I would willingly pay a thousand gold crowns if I could have a moment’s talk with you; I have found the thief who stole the rubies and all the jewels of the Duke of—”
“Let us hear about that,” said Louis XI., going out into the courtyard of Plessis, followed by his silversmith, Coyctier his physician, Olivier de Daim, and the captain of his Scottish guard. “Tell me about it. Another man to hang for you! Hola, Tristan!”
The grand provost, who was walking up and down the courtyard, came with slow steps, like a dog who exhibits his fidelity. The group paused under a tree. The king sat down on a bench and the courtiers made a circle about him.