Tag Archive: Paris


The Marquise de Ganges

The Marquise de Ganges

It is 1656, in the ancient quarter of Saint-Germain-des-Pres, whose narrow alley ways and high houses, the tops of which touch each other above the street, have always favourized the most equivocal fermentings of the mind.  In this sombre XVIIth Century, throughout which flames regularly devour witches, the little Rue d’Hautefeuille, bordered on one side by a disused Jewish cemetery and on the other by student lodgings, is no exception.  It could even be said that inside the few houses with little towers in this street, magi and fortune-tellers, adept in all types of mancies, are in charge of Paris.

One October afternoon, a young woman who is barely twenty years old, wearing deep mourning, has her carriage stop at the entrance to this little street.  If she wasn’t completely veiled, it could be seen that she is very beautiful.   So beautiful that the whole of the Court of the young Sun-King [Louis XIV] is ecstatic about it.  So beautiful that the Queen of Sweden, visiting Versailles, cannot refrain from saying:

“In all of the kingdoms that I have crossed, I have never met a woman who can compare to this beautiful Provencale!”

This beauty had been married at thirteen to an amiable officer fifteen years her senior.  She had very much loved him.  But he had recently died at sea after seven years of a happy union.  Now, his young widow is about to remarry, in obedience to her parents’ wishes.  This time her husband will be a gentleman of her own age, the Marquis de Ganges, Governor of Saint-Andre-de-Majencoules, an advanced post in the Cevennes.  The Marquis is also very beautiful, and so joyful!  Always dressed in the latest fashion, frequenting the best Parisian tailors, he is to be seen at Versailles at both the Petit and the Grand Risings.  He is always hunting, often in the King’s company.  He is exactly the same age as Louis XIV.  To resume, he is a perfect cavalier, who will go magnificently with this young, rich heiress…

Catherine Deshayes, wife of Monvoisin

Catherine Deshayes, wife of Monvoisin

A high oak door, flanked by torches, a flight of marble steps, and the young woman is at the lodgings of Catherine Deshayes, the wife of Monvoisin, whose profession is fortune-teller.  Upon entering the vestibule of the one whom the Greats, her clients, call La Voisin, the future Marquise has a moment’s hesitation.  She is shown a sinister hallway all hung in black and constellated with cabalistic signs.  But the maid leads her smilingly towards the magician’s lair.  The place has obviously been decorated by a succubus with refined taste and everything is intended to put the visitor in the right mood.  Between the standing statue of Belzebuth and a set of mirrors which allow people from the Past and from the Future to be seen, La Voisin lolls in an Egyptian armchair.  Fascinated, the young woman contemplates behind her a very crude allegory representing lust…

Draped in dark taffeta studded with little green dragons, her face hidden under a sort of nun’s cornette, La Voisin appears wary at first, and wants to know why the young woman has come to her.

“In a few days, I will have to make a capital decision.  I would like your spirits to advise me.”

The magician relaxes and tells her that she will ask them to answer her.  She asks her not to say anything but to write down, on the piece of paper that she hands to her, the questions that she wants to ask the spirits.  The young woman does not want to write anything down, fearing that the paper could be used against her.  La Voisin assures her that she will burn the paper before her eyes.

The young woman takes the pen which is being held out to her, backs away and writes two lines on the paper, which she then gives to the clairvoyant, who rolls it into a ball and drops it immediately into the mouth of a furnace where aromatic herbs are burning.  Using an elementary sleight-of-hand, La Voisin has of course hidden the paper on which is written:

“Am I young?  Am I beautiful?  Am I a girl, a woman, or a widow?  Should I marry or remarry?  Will I live a long life, will I soon die?”

She leaves, having made an appointment to return in three days.  The time needed by the spirits to come up with the answers.  The time needed by La Voisin to gather information from one of her many spies who investigate for her around Paris…

When the future Marquise returns, she hears this:

“You are young, you are beautiful, you are a widow.  Soon you will remarry…”

Then, touching the head of a stuffed salamander with big orange spots, she concentrates for a moment then says this, which is true clairvoyance:

“I have to tell you…  yes… I have to tell you, that you are going to die young!”

The young woman wants to know whether the cards ever make a mistake.  La Voisin replies that they rarely do.  The young woman begs her to try again.  The fortune-teller slowly rises and goes towards her oven.  In a recipient she takes a pinch of resin which she rolls in what appears to be incense, then throws the little ball into the fire.

A green and blue flame rises, which she carefully inspects.  She turns back toward the young woman.

“There is little hope…  You will die young from a violent death!”

***

To be continued.

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Roland de Jouvenel

Roland de Jouvenel photographed some time before his death.

On the evening of 2 May 1946, in the heart of a big apartment whose windows open onto the flowering sweet chestnut trees of the Tuileries, a young boy dies from typhoid.  He was going on fifteen and was called Roland de Jouvenel.

For a few days, his mother, Madame Marcelle de Jouvenel, crushed with grief, no longer opens the shutters, forgets to eat, doesn’t answer the telephone, receives no-one.  She is haunted by the idea of suicide.

One evening, like an automaton, she rises, opens the French window which leads to the balcony, looks at the street, leans over and is about to leap from the fourth floor when she suddenly feels a hand on her shoulder.  She turns around.  There is no-one there;  but the invisible hand is still holding her with authority.  So, she goes back inside the bedroom, closes the window and collapses into an armchair, crying.

A few days later, she speaks of this incident to a female friend who immediately says to her:

“Your son is near you, you should try to enter into communication with him.”

Mme de Jouvenel shrugs her shoulders.  She doesn’t believe in spiritism and finds ridiculous those people who try to make Victor Hugo or Napoleon speak to them via a side-table.  Her friend tells her:

“It’s got nothing to do with spinning tables.  You just have to take a pencil and let your hand do what it wants.”

Mme de Jouvenel refuses.  All that touches the supernatural, by near or by far, frightens her.

Madame Marcelle de Jouvenel when, under the name Marcelle Prat, she was a journalist and published little novels.

So, each morning, her friend telephones her, insisting that she at least consent to try.  Finally, annoyed, Mme de Jouvenel makes up her mind.  She thinks that at least she will be able to tell her friend that nothing has happened and she will at last leave her alone.

She takes a writing pad and a pencil.

And after a few minutes, the incredible happens:  her hand, as if traversed by an electrical current, begins to write in a relaxed, regular fashion, without crossing out or hesitating, in a big, sloping handwriting which is not her own, nor that of Roland.

When her hand stops, she can read this:

“Since you ask me to come, here I am.  Don’t be sad.  I’m here, right beside you.  I love you.  You will be happy.  Maman, your son is alive…  Believe these words:  death is life…”

She is overcome;  she can’t believe it, but the words are there…  So, she places the pencil on the writing pad once more and, again, the sentences line up without her will intervening.

The following day and the one after that, she does it again.  And from then on, each evening, Mme de Jouvenel writes under her son’s dictation.  The first messages contain a sort of religious teaching, as if Roland, from the other world, is taking control of his mother’s conversion and spiritual evolution.  For example, she receives:

“Each one, on Earth, must already forge his future life, for eternal life is only a prolongation.  Tell yourself that your human life is only a root in the ground, a seed in clay, and that your eclosion will be in Heaven…”

Then, the messages take a scientific turn.  It seems that Roland is annoyed to see that scholars are so little interested in researches on the essential.  And Mme de Jouvenel, who has no scientific culture, nor philosophical culture, writes “under dictation”:

“Pure science in its highest prolongations can sometimes explain the invisible world.  Scholars have already proven the disintegration of matter;  magicians without knowing it, they have surmounted incredible difficulties, split the atom, conceived the reality of an intermediary substance between the body and the ether.  But they do not extend their research to the soul and do not carry their investigations onto this…  The analysis of human radiations interests them a thousand times less than that of luminous radiations.  The attraction of particles of matter captivates them more than that of Man’s fluidic irradiation.  Who will direct curiosity to these unexplored horizons?”

“Science will be the vehicle used to give back to the world the idea that the unthinkable is a reality.  It is only by the perfect scientific path that Man will be converted to the mysterious…”

Then the messages proclaim that everything is alive, even matter.  And Mme de Jouvenel’s hand writes:

“Matter lives, dust lives, water lives, iron, copper, crystal, everything is alive;  and this collection of atoms is moved by the same principle as that which rules Man…  In each stone there are centuries of accumulated fluid;  layers of vibrations sleep in it like alguae at the bottom of the sea…”

Later, new message on this subject:

“This is very important:  Know that thought can influence matter, this will finally be discovered by Science.  But within this phenomenon, there is another:  connected thoughts, that is to say connected to us…  The important thing is that thought in itself becomes a fairly strong instrument, a fairly strong lever to dig matter out of its opacity, its immobility.  Through the relay of our brains, which emit waves, matter can become an associate.  Each intelligence has its wave length…  I keep telling you:  purify yourself and work to increase your wave-length…”

And as Mme de Jouvenel is asking herself about the concrete form that a thought must have to act on matter, her hand suddenly writes:

“A spinning propeller becomes invisible at a certain acceleration.  You don’t see thoughts because of the speed of their vibrations…”

Over months, then years, Mme de Jouvenel receives messages like this on all subjects:  the fourth dimension, telluric currents, stellar space, microphysics…  One day in 1961, antimatter is even the subject, a word that Mme de Jouvenel had never heard spoken:

“The principle of antimatter is perhaps the biggest discovery of the epoch…  Inside this absolute zero, a superstructure spreads…”

It is only very much later that Mme de Jouvenel learns that two Nobel Prizewinners, Doctors Cowan and Libby, admit the possibility of stars and galaxies composed of antimatter…

From time to time, the messages contain views of the future.  One day, Mme de Jouvenel receives this:

“I am able to affirm, without fixing a date nor giving more ample explanations, that you will traverse new anguish.  Some currents will again shake men, banks of chaotic waves shaking up brains.  There will not be war now;  the electricities of combat are going to suspend their effects, but guerillas will ceaselessly scrape your planet;  there has to be an open wound for the blood not to stop flowing.  Foyers of expiation will ceaselessly fly above the world and will land from place to place.  The guilty and the innocent will die together…”

In 1962, the messages clearly announce a time that we know well:

“The world, by desanctifying itself, has engendered its suicide.  You are entering into the era of autodestruction.  Terrorist attacks, suicides, accidents, conflicts which attack in great number are the proof of this.  Killing each other, demolishing, destroying, are incorporating themselves into the social automatisms…”

And, for twenty-five years, from 1946 to 1971, the year of her death, Mme de Jouvenel will receive thousands and thousands of messages on subjects of which she knew nothing, written in a style which corresponds in no way to her own, but which open vertiginous perspectives on physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, as if someone, “somewhere else”, someone who already knows, was trying to help us and open our eyes a little…

***

To be continued.

Among the most famous ghosts that haunt Paris, those of the victims of the Saint-Barthelemy massacre have been seen by many people and inspired this aquarelle which can be seen at Carnavalet.

The husband – or rather the ex-husband – of the lady that Guy Breton calls Elisabeth is a famous French actor of foreign birth.  The couturiere had died several years before he wrote this.  Mr Breton is absolutely sure of the authenticity of these stories.  They had been recounted to him by trustworthy witnesses, and confirmed by others.

***

In the present state of our knowledge, we can only state the facts without seeking to construct theories which would only repose on suppositions…  However, for numerous researchers, and even for numerous scientists, these phenomena are considered as the proof that beings are not annihilated by death and that they continue to live…  Apart from that, there are naturally a thousand questions to be asked:  Of what does their substance consist?  Where do they reside?  Are they happy?  Do they remain in contact with us?  etc.

***

For some specialists there is, in the apparition of a ghost, only a cerebral impression which is transformed into an image.  This has no more reality than a rainbow, which we see, analyze and photograph…  However, your neighbour sees a different rainbow than the one that you see, and your left eye doesn’t see the same one that your right eye sees…  All this has no reality.  The rainbow is an optical illusion, and the ghost is perhaps – let us be prudent – an illusion created by a spirit which “suggests” a form to us…  It is this mental impression which transforms itself into an image…  Guy Breton cites another case:  it is another personality from the theatre and film worlds.  This actor – it is Michel Simon – is driving very fast one night.  Suddenly, he sees in his headlights, at the side of the road, a man who is waving his arms at him.  At the moment when he passes by him, he is astounded, for he recognizes his father…  his father who died a long time ago…  He stops, reverses:  no-one!  He is so emotional that he starts to tremble.  He prefers not to continue his route.  He turns around and goes to an inn that he had noticed on his way past.  He sleeps there.  And the next day, he learns that, about two hundred metres after the place where he had had his vision, a tree had fallen in the wind and was blocking the road…  He would most certainly have been killed if he had continued.  However, it cannot be said that the ghost of the actor’s father prevented an accident;  but he played a role in his son’s destiny.

***

If we admit as a working hypothesis that ghosts exist, where do they “live”?  Metaphysicists would say;

“In another world very close to us, which is nothing more than a parallel universe with which we have, from time to time, some contact…”

***

On a personal note, I have not, to my knowledge, ever seen a ghost.  I say “to my knowledge” because ghosts are frequently not diaphanous beings floating down the corridors of haunted houses.  They are often very substantial in appearance and, unless recognized by someone as being a deceased person known to him or her during its lifetime, can be thought to be a “live” person by those with whom it comes into contact.

That said, I have certainly had contacts with deceased persons from my own family:  both of my grandmothers, my father and my mother.  I am absolutely certain about the identity of the first three, and am fairly certain about the last one.  There is a very small chance that it could have been my cousin but now, several years later, I am reasonably sure that it was my mother.  I am afraid that I snarled at her to “go away” because I was afraid that the noise that she was making would wake my cousin’s daughter with whom I was sharing a room that night.  My mother was very susceptible while alive so, needless to say, she has not visited me again.  The other family members each only visited once, not very long after their deaths.

The first grandmother to die let me know that she was there by laughing softly.  She had a very distinctive, not to say annoying, laugh while alive, so there was no doubt about who she was.  I was watching my daughter sleeping.  My grandmother had known that I was pregnant before she died, and absolutely loved children, so she came to visit us a few weeks after my daughter’s birth.  Her laugh came from slightly behind me.  I was near a mirror but was placed so that I could not see either my own reflection, nor that of anything behind me.  I turned quickly to look behind me but saw nothing, then “knew” that she was no longer there.  I was very, very happy about her visit.

My second grandmother played my music-box, which was not wound-up and had been open for months with various bits and pieces of make-up standing in it.  The music was very slow.  I was in a different house from before but with the same mirror next to the music-box.  By the time I realized what was happening and turned around to look for her, she had gone.

My father was a scientist (and an artist – music and painting, although he had tried acting and writing, too) and some years before his death, while on a visit to him in Australia from France where I was living, I screwed up my courage to tell him about his mother’s visit (first grandmother) absolutely certain that he would laugh at me.  He didn’t.  He just smiled and went to his room.

Daddy was one of those men who consider females to be intellectually inferior to males.  However, he did enjoy talking to his mother-in-law (second grandmother) who was a very intelligent lady.  I am sure that they met and had a chat after his death and she told him about how she had played my music-box.  As Daddy was also the sort of man who had to be better than anyone else at everything he did (when he realized that he wasn’t, he abandoned the activity) he naturally came to play my music-box much faster, and for much longer, than his mother-in-law had done.  I had been trying to put on my make-up, through tears, to go to work, when he arrived.  The music-box started and I immediately knew who it was and was laughing and crying at the same time.  Trust Dad!  He always had to be better than anyone else!

My mother’s visit (if it was indeed she) took place in her sister’s home in Sydney, where the remaining members of the family had gone to celebrate that lady’s ninetieth birthday.  Most of us had gone to sleep at a motel but her eldest granddaughter and myself shared a room in her house for the night.  The granddaughter went to sleep straight away but I always have trouble adapting to bedrooms other than my own, so was doing my best to relax when a very annoying banging started at the end of my neighbour’s bed.  I was afraid that it would wake her, so sprang up in the dark and felt my way down to the noise.  We had both dumped all of our luggage on the floor upon arriving the day before and something (I do not remember what now) was swinging back and forth with a banging noise.  It was going faster and faster.  I grabbed it and stopped it and did my snarl.  Then proceeded to trip over some of the luggage on my way back to bed, thereby waking the room’s other occupant, which was what I had been trying to avoid in the first place.

So, those are my “contacts” with ghosts that I have been able to recognize (with the possible exception of my mother).  There have been a few other odd bits and pieces but (1) I am not sure that they were ghosts and (2) if they were, I do not know their identities.

***

Emile Zola writes:

“When will they stop feeding us this rubbish!  These so-called clairvoyancy phenomena are only traps for the gullible, just good enough to impress illiterate bigots.”

Henriette Couedon

Mademoiselle Couedon’s star begins to dim.  Parisians are fickle and are always ready to burn their idols.

And then, one evening in May 1896, the Countess de Maille receives the cream of French aristocracy in her Paris salon.  There are more than one hundred guests bearing prestigious names.  Mme de Maille tells them:

“I have a surprise for you.  The famous clairvoyant, Mlle Couedon, is here…”

A bit shy, the young lady enters to applause and goes to sit in the centre of the salon.  Everyone considers her with amused curiosity.  As she is slow to start prophetising, they stamp their feet, chanting:

“Ecstasy!  Ecstacy!  Ecstasy!”

Then, the young clairvoyant suddenly falls back in her armchair and half-closes her eyes.  Her cheeks flush and she chants:

Near the Champs-Elysees

I see a place not raised

Which is not for piety,

But which approaches it

In a sound of charity

Which is not the truth.

She stops for an instant.  Her face contracts:

I see the fire rise

And the people scream,

Burnt flesh,

Calcinated bodies;

I see like heaps of them.

The clairvoyant sways.  She has to be supported.  When her weakness passes, Henriette says that all of the people who are listening to her will be spared.  Then she turns toward Count de Maille and announces to him that he will be touched, but “distantly”.   Before retiring, the young clairvoyant adds that after this fire, she sees the death of a great lord…

Ten minutes afterwards, all of Mme de Maille’s guests have gone back to their worldly chatting.

And one year later, almost to the day, on 4 May 1897, the Bazar de la Charite, installed Rue Jean-Goujon, near the Champs-Elysees, takes fire.  The crowd, panicked, runs screaming towards the too-narrow exits.  Some are crushed, others fight, and everything burns, everything is consumed, everything is calcinated.  There are more than one hundred dead, including the Duchess d’Alencon.

And, as Henriette predicted, none of Mme de Maille’s guests were among the victims.  As for the Count, he is in mourning for a distant cousin.

Then, on 7 May, three days after the catastrophe, the Duke d’Aumale dies in Sicily upon learning of the death of his niece, the Duchess d’Alencon…

***

Gaston Mery, a journalist, had been present at Mme de Maille’s reception, and had noted Mlle Couedon’s words immediately.  Count de Maille, himself, confirmed their exactitude in an article published by the newspaper Le Temps.

***

Mlle Couedon correctly predicted cyclones, railway catastrophes, duels between famous people, the disappearance of Felix Faure, the Russian Revolution…

***

She also made mistakes, for example, in announcing the return of a King in France.

***

In everyday life, Henriette Couedon was a happy, joyful, laughing, pious young girl, but in no way mystical.  She read a lot and her favourite author was not Saint John of the Cross or Nostradamus, but Jules Verne…  She had never been interested in occultism.  She was in very good health and had never suffered from any nervous troubles.  In other words, she was a wholesome, well-balanced young lady.  Then, one day, her parents went with her to visit a friend, the famous Mme O., whom we have mentioned.  This lady said that she was inspired by the Archangel Gabriel and had clairvoyancy gifts.  However, for some time, her gift seemed to be diminishing.  It is true that she made her clients pay her…

It is well-known that, very often, clairvoyants lose their gifts when they charge people money for using them…

On this particular day, Henriette was at Mme O.’s when, suddenly, she fell into an ecstasy which lasted several hours.  Afterwards, she recounted that the Archangel Gabriel, disgusted by seeing Mme O. commercialising her clairvoyance, had come to announce to her that she had been chosen as the Angel’s spokesperson.

***

Guy Breton does not believe in the intervention of the Archangel Gabriel in this story;  but he says that it is uncontestable that one day, for reasons which remain mysterious, Mlle Couedon’s comportment was completely transformed and she seemed to have acquired a certain clairvoyancy gift.

Mr Breton also thinks that anyone can predict that, in the weeks to come, there will be an earthquake somewhere, or a rail accident, the death of a famous man or social unrest…  Which is why he attaches no importance to anything that she may have predicted before and after the evening of May 1896.  But there is the extraordinary vision of the Bazar de la Charite fire.  If this had been the only thing that she had “seen”, her case would still have been intriguing.  For, at the time when she speaks about it, no project concerning a charity sale near the Champs-Elysees yet existed…

***

In the present state of our knowledge, it is impossible to explain how we are able to see a vision of a future event.  However, there is one explanation given by parapsychologists:  imagine a train turning around a mountain on its way to meet another train which is on the same line.  Neither of these two trains knows of the other’s existence.  They receive no alarm signal and their collision is certain.  However, their destiny is unknown to them.  While the catastrophe which is about to occur is absolutely obvious to an observer placed, for example, in an aeroplane, a few hundred metres above them.  The clairvoyant is perhaps a person who is situated on a superior level.

***

Some scholars have seriously studied these problems.  Among them, there is one of the greatest biologists of our time, Dr Alexis Carrel, Nobel prize-winner and author of L’Homme, cet inconnu.  Here are his conclusions:

“Certain individuals appear susceptible to travelling in time.  Clairvoyants perceive not only events which happen far away, but also past and future events.  It could be said that their conscience projects its tentacles just as easily into time as into space.  Or that, escaping physical continuum, they contemplate the past and the future, like a fly could contemplate a painting if, instead of walking on its surface, it flew a slight distance from it.  The facts of prediction of the future lead us to the brink of an unknown world.  They seem to indicate the existence of a principle capable of evolving outside our body’s limits.”

***

Henriette Couedon

It is April 1896.  The weather is bright and sunny outside.  On the fourth floor of 40 rue de Paradis, Monsieur and Madame Couedon, who usually live a quiet life with their twenty-four year old daughter Henriette, have suddenly started receiving twenty to thirty people each day.  Henriette Couedon, a tall, dark-haired young lady with gentle eyes, is the medium through whom the Archangel Gabriel answers questions addressed to her.

[The Archangel Gabriel, unlike the other Archangels whose names we know, is considered to be oriented toward the feminine polarity, in the energetic sense.  Angels do not have reproductive sexes but, like everything else which exists, they have more positive (masculine) energy or negative (feminine) energy, according to the individual.  Gabriel is seen in all religions, except, curiously, christianism, as female.  So I shall refer to her as such.]

The number of daily visits gradually grows to one hundred.  The whole of Paris is talking about the clairvoyant of the Rue de Paradis.  Every day, she enters into ecstasy and prophetises.  She announces political events, railway catastrophes, the evolution of a case of smallpox or the birth of twins.  Henriette does not take payment for her work.  She considers that she has been chosen by Heaven and is accomplishing a mission.

Finally, journalists come to interview Henriette Couedon.  She explains to them in a joyful voice that she has been chosen by God to warn her contemporaries about the great events to come, and that she is inspired by Archangel Gabriel.

“When the Archangel speaks by my mouth, I hear nothing.  I don’t even hear the questions that she is asked and answers.  I am an instrument, nothing more.  At that moment, my personality disappears.  It is through my mother, and other witnesses, that I am informed of the diverse prophecies spoken through me, a lot of which have already come true.”

After these articles are printed, the Parisians literally rush to 40 rue de Paradis.  They squeeze into the minuscule entry to the Couedon’s residence;  they are on the landing, on the stairs, and overflow onto the footpath.  Small groups of them are introduced into a modest salon whose furniture has dust-covers and is decorated with a few statuettes and pious images.  They wait in silence, as if they are in church.  Some kneel on the rug.  Then, the young clairvoyant appears, smiling;  she greets the company with a few kind words and explains how things will happen:

“If you have questions to ask, address them to the Angel, not to me.  It is she who will answer you.  Do not be surprised if she uses [the familiar] “tu”. She doesn’t use “vous.  But you, out of respect, must not say “tu”…” 

[In French, the familiar second person singular is still used.  In English, it corresponds to “thee” and “thou”, etc. which has died out of everyday English, except in some country places in Great Britain, in certain religious communities in the United States, and of course, in church, where we still use rather elderly texts which include these words when we talk to God.  The French also use the familiar “tu” when talking to God, so Henriette’s recommendation seems a bit strange.]

After which, Mlle Couedon sits in an armchair and remains motionless.  Her hands grip the arms and, suddenly, her eyelids half-close, her irises disappear “as if her eyes turned to read inside herself”, as a witness puts it, and she speaks, or rather she chants rhythmed sentences of little, phonetically rhyming verses.  [I will translate without trying to make them rhyme]:

A cyclone will tremble,

It’s not far away.

Vesuvius will rise,

Then another nearby;

Volcanoes will explode,

I see some as if buried.

Then, after a short silence:

In a high house

Filled with rich people,

A little girl aged

Less than twelve

Will no longer have sore feet.

These sentences continue for a long time, in a monotonous voice.  When she has finished, the visitors ask questions and the Archangel Gabriel replies by the young girl’s mouth.  Sometimes, the Angel eliminates certain subjects.  For example, one day, a lady having asked if she will find her budgerigar, the Angel, very angry, declares that she will not answer such a frivolous question.

Soon, doctors, priests, scholars, politicians, and the famous Papus come to interrogate Mlle Couedon.  She announces to them the return of a king in France:

“He will be called Henri and will reign under the name of Henri V.”

All of the newspapers of course print this prediction and the whole country talks about it.  Then, we witness an extraordinary scene at 40 rue de Paradis:  Prince Henri d’Orleans, in person, comes to interrogate Henriette Couedon.  He mingles with the other visitors, waits an hour in the corridor, even opens the door to people who ring.  At last, he is received.  He wants to know if he is the one who will mount the French throne.  Gabriel, with angelic frankness replies “Not at all!” and the pretender to the throne leaves, with bowed head.

Two days later, it is a Naundorff, the brother of Henri de Bourbon, who presents himself at Mlle Couedon’s.  (The descendants of Naundorff took the name of Bourbon and created the branch known as “de la Survivance”.  They are pretenders to the French throne.)  He wants to know if his brother will be king.  The Angel replies:

I don’t see mounting

On the gilded throne

Your beloved brother;

The envied crown

Will not be his.

Naundorff goes away, very disappointed.

Then, France becomes passionately interested.  Edouard Drumont, Jules Claretie, Emile Zola get involved.  People want to know more about Mlle Couedon, and a journalist goes to visit a mysterious Mme O, clairvoyant herself, at whose home Mlle Couedon is supposed to have had her first ecstasy.  She says:

“Yes, it’s true, but you know that the Angel also speaks through my mouth every Wednesday.  Even better, Sir:  I see souls.  A person died the other day.  I knew, without leaving my home, the hour of his death – for I saw his soul pass…”

The reporter wants to know what a soul looks like.  He is told that it is like a little punch flame, flickering white and  blue…

This soul like a blue punch flame makes the journalists laugh.  Some think that Mlle Couedon, like Mme O., is crazy.

To be continued.

Maximilien Robespierre

To bring God back to Earth, Robespierre engages the most gifted director, the painter David, who will soon plant the scene of other festivities, this time imperial…

Robespierre, himself, organizes the music for the ceremonies, and closely oversees the elaboration of the texts, given into the care of Marie-Joseph de Chenier, brother of the great poet, who had only two more months to live.

The gigantic works are hastily started.  On the terrace of the Tuileries Palace, a colossal amphitheatre, whose floor completely covers the ornamental lake, begins to grow.  Cyclopean statues rise above the formal French gardens, which have become the Jardin national.  They symbolise Atheism, Ambition, Discord, Egoism, and will explode on the day of the ceremony…  It is on 20 prairial, year II (8 June, 1794) that it will take place.  Robespierre has chosen the Sunday which, according to the former Roman Catholic rites, was Pentecost.

On the Champs-de-Mars, the Holy Mountain is nearly finished.  The People’s representatives will take place on it, along with the choirs, the orchestras and the banner-bearers.  On its summit, a column fifty feet high overlooks the entrance to a deep cave, lit by giant candelabra.  A river seeps from it, snaking between Etruscan tombs in the shade of an oak tree, and an antique altar, a pyramid, a sarcophage and a temple with twenty columns, complete this mythology.  It takes only a month for a swarm of ditch-diggers, masons, carpenters and artists of all kinds, to finish this unusual church.

A map with all the details of the organization, which had to be strictly respected, was printed and distributed to the people of Paris.  At the crossroads, the musicians who had composed the hymns, Gossec, Mehul and Cherubini, rehearsed and taught their chants to the assembled crowds.

Experts in solemn occasions, the Italians have come to help, and the great firework master of ceremonies, Ruggieri, has installed the mines which are to reduce to ashes the statues which symbolise the major vices of the old times, atheism in particular.  Hardly any notice is taken, amongst all the hammering and sawing, of the rumbling of the carts which, on the other side of the Seine, are carrying hundreds of people to the guillotine.

And here, at last, is the astonishing day of 8 June 1794.  Starting at five o’clock in the morning, the sound of pikes striking the pavement, the rattling of sabres, and the noise of a great troop marching, out-of-step and almost in silence, for a lot of these men do not have shoes, is to be heard.  Robespierre sees, parading under his windows, in columns of twelve, some of the forty-eight Sections of the People who are hurrying towards the meeting places, followed by the Parisians who, already the day before, had discovered the altars of the Supreme Being.

For once, l’Incorruptible allows himself a bit of coquetry.  In this early morning, he adjusts with care the uniform, whose view turns suspects icy cold:  the sky blue jacket, the immaculate stockings, in the pre-Revolution fashion.

At nine o’clock, Paris is in place right down to the last man.  It is not a good idea to be absent from the Grand-Mass in the parish of the terrifying curate who walks in front of his parishioners, carrying a sheaf of wheat ears.

On the Tuileries terrace, the Conventionnels, dressed in dark blue, are already assembled in the amphitheatre.  On their hats, they wear tricoloured feathers, and they, too, brandish wheat ears, mixed with artificial cornflowers and poppies.  The young men arrange themselves in a square around their Section flag, and mothers, who carry bouquets of roses, hold the hand of their daughters dressed in white tunics.

When l’Incorruptible appears, the orchestras start playing their symphonies accompanied by the rolling of drums.  When he arrives at the highest part of the theatre, a salvo of artillery explodes.  Pale, extatic, his body stiff, Robespierre takes a deep breath.

“At last it has arrived, the day forever fortunate that the People consecrate to the Supreme Being…”

His speech, which goes unheard by many, for his voice doesn’t carry well, is magnificent with lyricism and poetic elevation.  The whole time that he takes to descend to the wooden floor over the lake, five hundred thousand Parisians give him an ovation.  Then they see the statue of Atheism go up in flames, replaced by that of Wisdom.  Unfortunately, this papier-mache allegory also has a singed forehead, and its head is crooked.  When Robespierre regains his place, the Conventionnels, sure of making people laugh, cry out:

“Citizen, your wisdom has been obscured!”

Around him, people roar with laughter.  And suddenly, for the High Priest of the new cult, the day darkens, heavy with fateful signs.  Now, an immense procession forms which moves towards the Champ-de-Mars, preceded by cavalry and music squadrons

The Convention surrounds the Liberty float which disappears under an enormous tricoloured banner carried by Childhood decorated with violets.  Virility follows, decorated with oak leaves, beside Adolescence, distinguished by myrtle.  Old Age, decorated with grape-bearing vines, closes the procession.  Behind them, comes the float of the blind, singing hymns to the divinity.

Within the procession, the Deputies look at their little bouquet and find themselves ridiculous.  Luckily, Robespierre walks far up front, which allows the Conventionnels to relax.  In spite of the music, the salvos, the cheering and the singing, he hears behind him cries of “dictator” and “charlatan”.  A woman screams:

“You are a god, Robespierre!”

A Deputy yells to her:

“Cry “Vive la Republique” rather, madwoman!”

In spite of the heat, the face of the Incorruptible is deadly pale.  He thought that today he would feel the spirit of the Supreme Being, but he feels hate around him instead.  He can hear the Deputies openly insulting himself and his God…

To be continued.

Daniel Dunglas Home – part 3

Daniel Dunglas Home has been sent by his family to live with an aunt in the United States of America because they have had enough of the different manifestations that follow him around the house.  They think that he must be possessed by the Devil.

***

Soon, the aunt, too, is unable to put up with the phenomena apparently caused by young Daniel:  strange noises, furniture changing places, mirrors breaking, vases tipping over, statues flying around, etc.

***

Daniel’s aunt has him examined by several doctors.  They all admit to being able to do nothing, declaring that they do not understand anything about the case of this strange adolescent.  The newspapers start to write about Dunglas Home’s miracles.  Three professors from Harvard University, persuaded that he is an imposter, decide to expose him.  They bring him to their laboratory.

***

Dunglas Home sat on a chair and looked at the professors with a smile on his face.  One of them said to him:

“Your powers seem to be curiously paralysed”.

Dunglas Home stared at a point in the air.  The professors followed his gaze and discovered, flying around the ceiling, a hand which soon descended, landed for an instant on the shoulder of one of them, gently touched another’s cheek, ruffled the hair of the third and suddenly disappeared…  Then, the young man made a ghost appear.  Disconcerted, but good sports, the dignified representatives of Harvard concluded that Dunglas Home really possessed mediumnic faculties…

***

This gave him great success in America.  After which, he returned to Europe, stupefied England, then went to France where he conquered Paris and showed his gifts at the Court of Napoleon III…  After 1870, he went to Russia where Tsar Nicolas I received him…  He died in France in 1886.

***

In everyday life, Daniel Dunglas Home was charming, but unpredictable.  One day, someone entered his study without knocking and froze on the spot:  Dunglas Home was floating 1.50 metres above the floor.  Embarrassed by having been surprised in a state of levitation, he muttered some excuses and rapidly descended onto the rug…  His levitations have remained famous.  Count Alexis Tolstoi, who was a witness to one of these phenomena, writes:

“Home was lifted from his chair and I took hold of his feet while he floated above our heads…”

Another time, in a London salon, Home rose in the air in front of fifteen people and drew charcoal arabesques on the ceiling.  Arabesques that the mistress of the house was careful not to have removed, and which still exist today.  But his most famous levitation took place on the evening of 13 December 1868 in an apartment situated on the third floor of No 5 Buckingham Gate, in London.  Three people were with him in a salon.  At a certain moment, Home announced that he was going to perform a levitation experiment…  He went into a neighbouring room and the witnesses heard a window noise.  Almost immediately, they saw Home appear, floating horizontally in the air, above the street.  After a short instant, he entered, feet first, through the window of the salon where the stupefied witnesses were, landed on his feet and sat down as naturally as anything…  This extraordinary phenomenon, from which any idea of trickery – or even complicity – must be abolished, was certified by three people who were neither naive, nor ignorant:  Lord Londsay, Lord Adare and Captain Wynne.  One of these three men was a minister, another a famous astronomist…

***

Some people at the time saw Dunglas Home as a great medium; others thought that he was just a clever illusionist, a charlatan.   Some even claimed that he had been unmasked.  It was said that during a spiritism seance, one evening at Biarritz, the Empress having felt a hand pass over her face, had screamed so loudly that the Palace Marshal, Baron Morio de l’Isle, had rushed to turn the button on the oil lamp, and that the medium’s foot was seen to be moving over Eugenie…  This anecdote has been firmly denied by the Empress.  It is also to be noted, that Dunglas Home always operated in full light…

***

He was carefully watched, and it was found that he had no accomplices.  As well as this, he performed his experiments only in other people’s apartments.  He never operated in his own home.  Therefore it does not seem possible that he could have set up any frauds, strings, invisible threads, doctored furniture, etc.  One evening, for example, at the Tuileries, Napoleon III had the bugle of one of the guards brought onto the table.  After a moment, the instrument placed itself erect and started to play a little martial tune…

***

One evening, the Emperor asked Home to evoke the spirits of Napoleon I and Louis-Philippe.  After a moment, the Scotsman said to him:

“Sire, they are here!”

Napoleon says that he doesn’t see or hear them.  Home tells him to wait a minute and he would feel their presence.  At this moment, Napoleon III received a big kick on the backside.  He didn’t know whether it was from Napoleon I or Louis-Philippe.  [It sounds like Napoleon I to me.  It was the sort of thing that he did while alive.]

***

The great physicist William Crookes who discovered thallium and invented the cathodic tube, was present at many seances organised by Home, and was convinced that he was genuine.  He wrote about the fantomatic hands that were materialised by the medium:

“To the touch, these hands appeared sometimes to be cold like ice and dead.  At other times, they seemed warm and alive, and gripped mine with the firm grip of an old friend.  I kept one of these hands in mine, determined not to let it escape.  No attempt, nor effort was made to make me let go;  but little by little, the hand seemed to turn into vapour and it was in this way that it removed itself from my grip…”

William Crookes discovered no fraud.

***

Giacomo Casanova

Giacomo Casanova uses the Kabbala, horoscopes, medecine and all sorts of divinations to earn money.  Because the Century of Light, of rationalism, and of atheism remains strangely sensitive to the irrational, and to superstitions.

The Kabbala, which only needs a bit of mental agility, and in no way requires the intervention of infernal powers, will have him hunted out of Venice.  In Europe, and particularly in France, it will give him bloated glory in the domains of prophecy in society and salon divination.  Madame d’Urfe gives him her unlimited confidence for the realisation of her life’s dream:  hypostasis or transplantation of her soul into the body of a young boy.

The strangest thing about all this is that our magician is often so amazed at the result of his predictions, due only to hazard, astuce and cheek, that he is often ready to believe himself to be a real magician.  Thanks to his false Kabbala, he makes a prophecy to Prince Medini, which is received by him with sarcasm.  The young Dalmatian even provokes Casanova to a duel.  Casanova pierces his shoulder with his sword, and announces that he will not return from England.  A prophecy which comes true because, ten years later, the prince will die in a London gaol.

Cagliostro was told that Rome would witness his death.  And Cagliostro will end his days in a prison of the Holy See.

But he does even better:  during a stay in Grenoble, he makes the acquaintance of a good middle-class family, the Morins.  They have a niece, Anne Roman, as ravishing as she is virtuous.  The seductor tries all of his tricks, spends enormous amounts of money on balls and gifts.  She resists.

To impress her, he does her horoscope which announces that she will become the mistress of Louis XV, and that she will have a son who will become a prince.  The Morins are wild with joy at this marvellous prediction.  Casanova adds that it will only come true if Anne goes to Paris before the age of eighteen.  She is almost eighteen, and Giacomo will be happy to accompany her.

But she will go to Paris with her chaperon and will reside with her sister.  By a string of extraordinary circumstances, the young lady is presented to the King at Versailles, lodged at Passy, and not in the Parc aux Cerfs like the rest of the royal harem, becomes a mother and a baronness and, even more remarkable, the King accepts that the child be baptised with the mention “Son of Louis Bourbon”.

Kabbala divination is of course not responsible.  But this piece of luck is sufficiently mysterious to give Giacomo even more assurance and confidence in himself.  He needs a lot of it to heal the acne of the Duchess de Chartres, mother of the future Louis-Philippe, who convokes Casanova to the Palais-Royal to hear his oracles.  She is twenty-six years old, lives an agitated life, has a pretty face, but it it constellated with pimples, which discourage the best French doctors.  The fake oracles prescribe, for three hours, a detailed diet.  At the end of a week, the devouring acne of the charming duchess is perfectly healed.

It is uncontestable that he possesses an innate occult gift which he develops through contact with his numerous frequentations.  When one of his prophecies comes true, he appears astonished, and seized with superstitious fear.  It doesn’t last because he is above all a sceptic, an agnostic, a materialist.  It is for this reason that he shows a lot of disdain for all kinds of magicians, including Cagliostro and the Count of Saint-Germain, who make him laugh.

Throughout his life, people keep wondering how it will all finish.  It finishes with Venice, at the end of the XVIIIth Century, when the Most Serene ceases to be free, after more than a thousand years of political and artistic supremacy.  It is a year, almost to the day, after the dissolution in 1797 of the Grand Council, which will put an end to the free Republic, that Casanova, librarian of the Count de Waldstein, dies at Dux Castle, in Bohemia.

But his real death was long before.  It dates from a visit to London in 1763 when, at 38, he is ridiculed by a courtisan of unequalled skill and perversity:  La Charpillon.  She comes from Switzerland and, at 17, it can already be said that she is a beautiful, ageing animal, with a pedigree rich in three generations of gallantry.  He, the experienced seductor, the sexual predator, falls in adoration before her and treats her like a young fiance, in love for the first time.  He says of this abominable tart:

“Her face, sweet and open, indicated a soul that delicacy of sentiments distinguished by that air of nobility which, ordinarily, depends on birth”.

She will treat him so badly with false promises, blackmail and diverse infidelities, that one day, he goes to her place to break everything.  She becomes ill because of it and her mother says she is dying.  Our hero, full of remorse, seriously considers suicide.  That same evening, he catches sight of her at a public ball wearing a dress that he has just given her.  He feels so excessively ridiculous, that it breaks the spell.  He will get his own back by teaching a parrot, which he later sells back to the merchant who sold it to him, the phrase:

“Miss Charpillon is a greater whore than her mother”.

The whole of London gossips about this wise bird.  Giacomo has his revenge, but something in him is irremediably broken.  Is he feeling old?  Does he realise the vanity of all these love affairs accumulated over twenty-five years and which are no more than “ashes in the wind”?  All his biographers agree that after this stay in London, he is not the same man.  Almost nothing will succeed for him, because he no longer has confidence in himself.  And what is a magician without confidence?

To be continued.

Casanova – part 4

Giacomo Casanova

If Giacomo Casanova is always ready to separate a fool from his money, he often does it to endow poor young girls.  Or, of course, to dilapidate it with a beautiful woman.  Few tales of misery leave him cold.  Few pretty faces either.  Whatever the dangers he must face:  rivals, husbands, police from the Holy Office…

The ladies will be his only real weakness because, for them, he puts up with the inconvenience of all the others.  All, except one:  to tie his destiny definitively to only one woman.  We can see this with Henrietta, that mysterious woman, full of charm and wit with whom he falls in love, as soon as he leaves the little Javotte.  Disguised as a man, she is fleeing an abusive husband, and pours waves of pure love into Giacomo’s heart, over a period of three months.  She will leave, like all the others, without too much sadness, for she understands, like all those who have forgiven him his infidelities, that he is a man of an instant.

She senses that, even if the instant lasts, if it gives incomparable voluptuousness, it dies from the need of the freedom that our hero appears to love sometimes more than life.  As it happens, it is to reconquer his liberty that he achieves a “first”, absolutely unique in the history of Venice prisons.

In 1756, he manages to escape from the “leads”, the terrifying gaols which are just beside the Venice ducal palace.  Party boy, free thinker, swindler, magician, but, above all, plebian, Casanova, in spite of his protectors, was unable to durably escape the Grand Inquisitor, always ready to close his eyes, on the other hand, on the indiscretions of the patricians.

His unlimited light-heartedness does not frustrate him, either, of a rapid fortune which he picks up in Paris, where, as in other European capitals, his flight has made him famous.  He hopes one day to return to Venice, his country, and never leave it again.  He will return, but at the price of his honour.  For, to obtain his pardon, he is left no other choice but to become an informer.  Before being chased away again at the age of fifty-eight, definitively this time.

For the moment, here he is “in this Paris, unique in the world”, determined to catch up on the fifteen months spent under the “leads”.  He arrives, in fact, on the day that Damien tries to assassinate Louis XV.  From an open carriage, he witnesses the end of the regicide, horribly executed on the Place de Greve.  A couple seated opposite him does not share his repugnance.  On the contrary, the spectacle seems to excite them a lot, as their gestures indicate.  Giacomo is learning more and more about strange human nature, and its secret workings.

He, the man with no fortune and no talent, is in great need of protectors.  He goes to Monsieur de Bernis, former French Ambassador to Venice.  The gentleman is happy to help him, in memory of the very particular parties organised for him by the seductor in Venice.  He presents him to the famous financier Paris-Duverney “one of the best heads in France”.  This gentleman needs 20 million to finish the construction of the Ecole Militaire, a project that is greatly encouraged by Madame de Pompadour.

Armed with the agility of his mind, used to rapid calculations, and remembering that he had been a banker in different gambling houses in Venice, Casanova announces that he has a project which could bring one hundred million into the royal purse every year.  Duverney is not an idiot.  He has saved France from the bankruptcy into which Law had plunged it a few decades before.  He says that he knows what Casanova is thinking, and is impressed by his assurance.

Invited to dinner in the company of financiers, Duverney presents him to a certain Calsabigi, author, with his brothers, of a lottery project.  He hands him the notebook in which he has written down the principles of his game and Casanova, without blinking, says that, indeed, that was his own project.  Duverney thinks that the system is good, but wants to know how to constitute a sum to convince people to play and, possibly, win.  Casanova says that that is child’s play.  It only needs a decree from the Royal Council.  The nation needs to know that the King is able to pay one hundred million.  Duverney finds the sum rather large.  Casanova insists that it must dazzle.

The financiers present at the meeting with Duverney think about it for a few days but, faithful to a tactic which had many times succeeded for him with women, Giacomo pretends not to be in a hurry.  Meanwhile he assimilates the principles of the discovery of the Calsabigi brothers, whose only fault is not to have enough cheek to impose their system.  They beg him to accept an association.  Casanova makes them beg for a long time

“for the powerful reason that I couldn’t do it without them”,

he says with cynical amusement.

In three hours, the next day, he demonstrates brilliantly the qualities and the safety of this lottery, even convincing d’Alembert, who has taken a seat at the conference to judge the project.  Casanova then obtains a pension on the lottery and the right to exploit six receiving offices.  He writes:

“In all the houses where I went and in theatre foyers, everyone gave me money, begging me to play for them, as I wanted to, because they understood nothing!  Paris is a city where everything is judged on appearance.  There is no country in the world where it is easier to impose oneself!”

He then has a fortune.  He will lose it in 2 years through imprudence.  He launches himself into the silk industry without having done a “market study”, as we say today.  For workers, he only employs beauties, which he uses, and continues to pay for their needs, even when they have ceased to please him.  Ruined, he swears never to try to earn his living honestly again.

To be continued.

In the year 1700, at 22 rue de l’Hirondelle, in Paris, there lived a strange old man, a former Chatelet Prosecutor.  His name was Maitre Dumas.  Twenty years before, Maitre Dumas, who did not appear to be very rich, had suddenly displayed all of the external signs of immense riches.  He had had marvellous clothes made for himself, he had bought paintings, tapisteries, precious books for his home, and it was said that he only ate from gold dishes.

This sudden change in his way of living had caused a lot of talk over the past twenty years.  It was murmured that the old man, who attended no church and lived like a non-believer, indulged in magic and was given his gold by the Devil, whom he secretly worshipped.  This was founded on an indiscretion by someone from the former Prosecutor’s household who had revealed that he locked himself up every night in the highest room in his house to observe the stars and perform Cabalistic operations.

As well as this, the local merchants, who were keeping an eye on him, had noticed that, every Friday, around three o’clock in the afternoon, a man, riding a black mule with a horrible wound on its rump, stopped in front of Maitre Dumas’ hotel.  Having attached his mule, this man entered through a little door and climbed directly up to the attic where he locked himself up for several hours with the former Prosecutor.  No-one had ever succeeded in finding out who the mysterious visitor was, nor what he came to do Rue de l’Hirondelle.

Then, on 31 December 1700, the rider arrives, unusually, around ten o’clock in the morning.  He climbs up to the attic, and almost immediately, Madame Dumas hears her husband let out a dreadful cry.  She rushes up and finds the former Prosecutor, a greatly distressed expression on his face, in discussion with his visitor.  Maitre Dumas tells her not to worry, and to leave him with his friend.  Obediently, the wife goes back down to her own apartments.

Around midday, the mysterious rider leaves the house, and Maitre Dumas lets his wife know, via a servant, that he will not be having lunch.  The afternoon goes by.  Around five o’clock, Madame Dumas, who is used to hearing her husband moving around in the attic, is suddenly worried.  No sound is coming from the upper floor.  Accompanied by her son, she climbs up to the observatory.  The room is empty.  Maitre Dumas has disappeared.

The police, masons, carpenters are all called.  The walls are sounded, the chimneys are searched.  In vain.  The former Prosecutor is nowhere to be found.

For weeks, this disappearance intrigues the locals who occupy their evening hours making the wildest suppositions.  It is even mentioned at the Court, and Louis XV hears about it as a child, from the Marquis de Villeret.  Deeply impressed by this enigma, the young King will talk about it throughout his adolescence.

The Count of Saint-Germain

Then time passes and, in 1758, a strange person, presented by the Marquis de Marigny, Superintendent of the Beaux-Arts and brother of Madame de Pompadour, is received at Versailles.  This gentleman, of whom it is said that he possesses an extraordinary gift of clairvoyance, that he has succeeded in performing the Great Work of the alchemists, and found the secrets of both the philosophical stone and of immortality, is called, or rather calls himself, for his real name is unknown, the Count of Saint-Germain.

Louis XV, having asked a few questions of this curious person, suddenly has the idea of submitting the problem of the disappearance of Maitre Dumas to him.  The King starts by asking him if he would be able to tell him what had happened to someone who had disappeared 58 years before.  The Count says:

“Do you mean Maitre Dumas who lived Rue de l’Hirondelle?”

The King is astounded that a man who has just arrived in France should know about this old story more than half a century old.  He asks the Count if he can tell him what happened to Maitre Dumas.  The Count says that he can, but that he is reluctant to do so bccause this revelation could expose the King to certain dangers.  The King insists.  The Count accepts.

Then, the Count of Saint-Germain asks for a map of Paris.  He finds the former hotel of Maitre Dumas, places a piece of the map on his forehead, closes his eyes, appears to empty his mind, and remains silent for a long moment.  At last, he murmurs:

“I see… “

Then, he opens his eyes and speaks:

“Sire, I have just watched the last few moments of Maitre Dumas.  Either the workmen who looked for the Prosecutor were paid so that this case would never be cleared up, or they had only mediocre knowledge of their trade.  This is what happened:  in an angle of the laboratory, near the entrance door, several planks in the floor are mobile.  They cover the start of a staircase which descends through the floor and the wall.  At the end of this staircase, you go up again to an underground room.  It is in this place that Prosecutor Dumas took refuge.  Very weak, he absorbed a strong narcotic and did not wake up.”

The King asks if it really was the Devil who came to visit him.  Saint-Germain replies:

“I rather think that it was Maitre Dumas who visited the Devil.  If Your Majesty becomes a Rose-Croix, I will lift the last veil that covers this mystery.  At the moment, it is not possible for me to answer His question, for, by doing that, I would expose myself to the greatest dangers.”

To be continued.

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