At that moment the pigeons which had till then never ceased to circle round the stake, flew away, and were lost in the clouds.
Urbain Grandier had given up the ghost.
This time it was not the man who was executed who was guilty, but the executioners; consequently we feel sure that our readers will be anxious to learn something of their fate.
Pere Lactance died in the most terrible agony on September 18th, 1634, exactly a month from the date of Grandier’s death. His brother-monks considered that this was due to the vengeance of Satan; but others were not wanting who said, remembering the summons uttered by Grandier, that it was rather due to the justice of God. Several attendant circumstances seemed to favour the latter opinion. The author of the History of the Devils of Loudzin gives an account of one of these circumstances, for the authenticity of which he vouches, and from which we extract the following:
“Some days after the execution of Grandier, Pere Lactance fell ill of the disease of which he died. Feeling that it was of supernatural origin, he determined to take a pilgrimage to Notre Dame des Andilliers de Saumur, where many miracles were wrought, and which was held in high estimation in the neighbourhood. A place in the carriage of the Sieur de Canaye was offered him for the journey; for this gentleman, accompanied by a large party on pleasure bent, was just then setting out for his estate of Grand Fonds, which lay in the same direction. The reason for the offer was that Canaye and his friends, having heard that the last words of Grandier had affected Pere Lactance’s mind, expected to find a great deal of amusement in exciting the terrors of their travelling-companion. And in truth, for a day or two, the boon companions sharpened their wits at the expense of the worthy monk, when all at once, on a good road and without apparent cause, the carriage overturned. Though no one was hurt, the accident appeared so strange to the pleasure-seekers that it put an end to the jokes of even the boldest among them. Pere Lactance himself appeared melancholy and preoccupied, and that evening at supper refused to eat, repeating over and over again—
“’It was wrong of me to deny Grandier the confessor he asked for; God is punishing me, God is punishing me!’
“On the following morning the journey was resumed, but the evident distress of mind under which Pere Lactance laboured had so damped the spirits of the party that all their gaiety had disappeared. Suddenly, just outside Fenet, where the road was in excellent condition and no obstacle to their progress apparent, the carriage upset for the second time. Although again no one was hurt, the travellers felt that there was among them someone against whom God’s anger was turned, and their suspicions pointing to Pere Lactance, they went on their way, leaving him behind, and feeling very uncomfortable at the thought that they had spent two or three days in his society.