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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 384 pages of information about Stray Pearls.

Reports began to circulate that the Prince’s insolence had gone too far, and that the Cardinal had been holding secret conferences with the Coadjutor, to see whether his help and that of Paris could be relied on for the overthrow of the Prince.  I remember that Annora was in high spirits, and declared that now was the time for honest men if they only knew how to profit by it.

CHAPTER XXIII

THE LION AND THE MOUSE

We were greatly amazed when late one January evening Cecile rushed into my room like one distracted, crying: 

‘The monsters, they have arrested him!’

We knew there was only on of the nobler sex in the eyes of my poor Cecile, and my first question was: 

‘What has he done?’ expecting to hear that he had been fighting a duel, or committing some folly.  My surprise was greater when I heard her answer: 

‘He was going to carry off the Cardinal’s nieces.’

‘He seems to have a turn for such exploits,’ Annora said.  ’Who wanted to marry them?’

‘It was for no such thing!’ Cecile said, with as much heat as she could show; ‘it was to take them as hostages.’

‘As hostages!’

‘Oh, yes!  Do not you know?  For the Prince.’

Our astonishment was redoubled.

’Eh, quoi!  Messieus les Prince de Conde and Conty, and the Duke of Longueville, are all arrested, coming from the council, by the treason of the Cardinal.  They are sent off no one knows where, but my husband, you understand, was with M. de Boutteville and a hundred other brave officers in the garden of the Hotel de Conte when the news came.  M. de Boutteville immediately proposed to gallop to Val de Grace and then seize on the Demoiselles Mazarin and Mancini as the best means of bringing the Cardinal to reason, and instantly it is done; but the cunning Cardinal had foreseen everything; the young ladies had been seized and carried off, I know not where,’ and she burst into a flood of tears.

With some difficulty we elicited from her that she had learned the tidings from a sergeant who had been in attendance on the Count, and had fled when he was taken.  At the same time horrible noises and shouts were heard all over the city.

’Treason!  Treason!  Down with the Cardinal!  Beaufort is taken!  The Coadjutor!  Vengeance!  Vengeance!’

Sir Francis hurried out to learn the truth, and then my mother in her fright cried out: 

‘Will no one come and protect us?  Oh! where is M. Darpent?’ while Annora called to me to take our cloaks and come up to the roof of the house to see what was going on.  She was in high spirits, no doubt laughing within herself to see how every danger made my mother invoke M. Darpent, and finding in a tumult a sure means of meeting him, for she could trust to him to come and offer his protection.

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