ABBAS BEATI MARTINI
[THE ABBOT OF SAINT-MARTIN]
DOM CLAUDE'S fame had spread far and wide. At about the same time that he refused to see Madame de Beaujeu it earned him a visit which he long remembered.
It was evening. He had just retired after the office to his canonical cell in the cloister of Notre-Dame. There was nothing strange or mysterious about this cell, apart perhaps from a few glass phials abandoned in a corner, filled with a somewhat dubious powder closely resembling the powder of projection.⋆ Here and there, to be sure, were some inscriptions on the walls, but they were simply scientific or pious maxims taken from reliable authors. The archdeacon had just sat down by the light from a triple brass candleholder in front of a huge chest laden with manuscripts. His elbow rested on an open volume of the book of Honorius of Autun De praedestinatione et libero arbitrio [On Predestination and Free Will], and he was sunk in reflection as he turned the pages of a printed folio volume he had just brought in, the only product of the printing-press that his cell contained. In the midst of his reverie there was a knock at the door. 'Who is it?' cried the scholar in a tone as gracious as that of a hungry mastiff disturbed at its bone. A voice answered from outside: 'Your friend, Jacques Coictier.' He went to open the door.
It was indeed the King's doctor, a man of about 50, whose hard features were tempered only by his crafty look. Another man accompanied him. Both wore long, slate-grey gowns, trimmed with grey squirrel fur, belted and fastened, with caps of the same material and colour. Their hands