A story of France when Protestants and Catholics were engaged in their most desperate struggle for supremacy--but the clashing of the creeds is merely an incident in the telling of a tale of love and adventure. The hero, the Comte de Mar, is a young nobleman whose father, the Due de St. Quentin, sides with the Huguenot Henry of Navarre, who at the time holds Paris in siege; the heroine, Mile. de Montluc, "The Rose of Lorraine," is of the house of Mayenne, the head of the Catholic League; and the tale is told in the first person by Felix Broux, a page in attendance on the lover. The action of the play is confined to four days of the week preceding the Sunday on which Henry III declares his adhesion to Catholicism.
"But he is not lost. There has been no battle."
"Lost to them," said Maître Jacques, "when he turns Catholic."
"Oh!" I cried.
"Oh!" he mocked. "You come from the country; you don't know these things."
"But the King of Navarre is too stiff-necked a heretic!"
"Bah! Time bends the stiffest neck. Tell me this: for what do the learned doctors sit in council at Mantes?"
"Oh," said I, bewildered, "you tell me news, Maître Jacques."
"If Henry of Navarre be not a Catholic before the month is out, spit me on my own jack," he answered, eying me rather keenly as he added:
"It should be welcome news to you."
Welcome was it; it made plain the reason Monsieur's change of base. Yet it was my duty to be discreet.
"I am glad to hear of any heretic coming to the faith," I said.
"Pshaw!" he cried. "To the devil with pretences! 'Tis an open secret that your patron has gone over to Navarre."
"I know naught of it."
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