IN the course of his oration, however, the satisfaction and admiration unanimously aroused by his costume diminished as he spoke, and when he reached the unfortunate conclusion: 'As soon as the most eminent cardinal arrives we shall begin', his voice was drowned by thunderous booing.
'Start right away! The mystery! The mystery right away!' cried the people. And above all the other voices that of Joannes de Molendino could be heard, cutting through the hubbub like the fife in a charivari⋆ at Nîmes: 'Start right away!' the student was yelping.
'Down with Jupiter and the Cardinal de Bourbon!' bawled Robin Poussepain and the other clerks perched on the window.
'The morality now!' repeated the crowd. 'At once! Right now! String up the players and the cardinal!'
Poor Jupiter, gaunt, aghast, pale under his rouge, dropped his thunderbolt, took his helmet in his hand; then bowing and trembling he stammered: 'His Eminence . . . the ambassadors . . . Madame Marguerite of Flanders . . .'. He did not know what to say. Truth to tell, he was afraid of being hanged. Hanged by the crowd for waiting, hanged by the cardinal for not waiting, all he could see on either side of him was an abyss that is a gallows.
Fortunately someone came to rescue him and assume responsibility.
An individual, who stood within the balustrade in the space left clear round the marble table, had so far gone unnoticed, so completely was his long, slender person protected from every line of sight by the diameter of the pillar on which he was leaning. This individual, we repeat, tall, lean, pallid, fair-haired, still young, though already showing wrinkles on his forehead and cheeks, with bright eyes and a smile on his lips, dressed in black serge, worn shiny with