He was certainly acting in a manner to astonish the world. He was not yet of sufficient age or standing to succeed to his father’s chair as the President of one of the Chambers of the Parliament, but his promotion as one of the gens du roi (crown lawyers) had been secured by annual fees almost ever since he was born, and the robe of the Consellor who was promoted to the Presidency in the elder Darpent’s room was awaiting him, when he declared his intention of accepting nothing that had been bought for him, but of continuing a simple advocate, and only obtaining what he could earn by his merits, not what was purchased. To this no doubt the feelings imbibed from my brother and sister had brought him. The younger men, and all the party who were still secret frondeurs, applauded him loudly, and he was quietly approved by the Chief President Mole who had still hopes that the domineering of the Prince of Conde and the unpopularity of Cardinal Mazarin would lead to changes in which ardent and self-devoted souls, like Clement’s, could come to front and bring about improvements. The Coadjutor de Gondi, who was bent on making himself the head of a party, likewise displayed much admiration for one so disinterested, but I am afraid it was full of satire; and most people spoke of young Darpent as a fool, or else as a dangerous character.
And it might very possibly be that if he fell under suspicion, his solitude might not be that of Port Royal but of the Bastille. Yet I am not sure that his mother did not dread the patronage of the Coadjutor most of all.
ST. MARGARET AND THE DRAGON
I was day after day worried and harassed by my suitor, so that I was very glad when, in the autumn, Madame de Rambouillet invited my sister and me to come and pass a few days with her, and see her vintage. We left my son under the care of the Abbe and of Sir Francis and Lady Ommaney, and set forth together in our coach with my women, and, as usual, mounted servants enough to guard us from any of the thieves or straggling soldiers who infested the roads.
For about a league all went well and quietly, but just at the cross-road leading to Chevreuse, a troop of horsemen sprang out upon us. There was a clashing of swords, a pistol-shot or two; I found myself torn from the arms in which my sister was trying to hold me fast, dragged out in spite of all our resistance, and carried into another carriage, at the door of which I was received by two strong arms; a handkerchief was thrown over my mouth to stop my screams, and though the inside of the coach was already darkened, my hands were tied and my eyes blinded as I was placed on the seat far in the corner; the door banged fast, and we drove swiftly away.
At first I was exhausted with my struggles, and in an agony of suffocation with the gag, which hindered me from getting my breath. I fancy I must have made some sound which showed my captors that unless they relieved me, I should perish in their hands. So the handkerchief was removed, and while I was panting, a voice said: