Quentin Durward

By Walter Scott

Page 160

de même que le courage se cache parfois sous
l'apparence d'une timidité modeste. Si les circonstances l'exigeaient,
je ferais bien certainement ce que je viens de te dire; les saints
bénissant nos projets, et les constellations célestes amenant dans leur
cours une conjonction favorable à cette entreprise.

Ce fut en ces termes que Louis XI donna la première idée de la
résolution extraordinaire qu'il exécuta par la suite, dans l'espoir de
duper son rival, et qui faillit le perdre lui-même.

En quittant son conseiller, le roi se rendit dans l'appartement des
comtesses de Croye. Il n'eut pas besoin de faire de grands efforts pour
les persuader de quitter la cour de France, dès qu'il leur eut fait
entendre qu'il serait possible qu'elles n'y trouvassent pas une
protection assurée contre le duc de Bourgogne: sa simple permission
aurait suffi; mais il ne lui fut pas si facile de les déterminer à
prendre Liège pour le lieu de leur retraite. Elles lui demandèrent et le
supplièrent de les envoyer en Bretagne ou à Calais, où, sous la
protection du duc de Bretagne ou du roi d'Angleterre, elles pourraient
rester en sûreté jusqu'à ce que le duc de Bourgogne se montrât moins
rigoureux à leur égard. Mais aucun de ces lieux de sûreté ne convenait
aux plans de Louis, et il réussit enfin à leur faire adopter celui qui
favorisait l'exécution de ses projets.

On ne pouvait mettre en doute le pouvoir qu'avait l'évêque de Liège de
les défendre, puisque sa dignité d'ecclésiastique lui donnait les moyens
de les protéger contre tous les princes chrétiens, et que, d'une autre
part, ses forces comme prince séculier, si elles n'étaient pas
considérables, suffisaient au moins pour défendre sa personne et ceux
qu'il prenait sous sa protection, contre toute violence soudaine. La
difficulté était de parvenir sans risque jusqu'à la petite cour de
l'évêque; mais Louis promit d'y pourvoir en faisant répandre le bruit
que les dames de Croye s'étaient échappées de Tours pendant la nuit, de
crainte d'être livrées entre les mains de l'envoyé bourguignon, et
qu'elles avaient pris la fuite vers la Bretagne. Il leur promit aussi de
leur donner une petite escorte sur la fidélité de laquelle elles
pourraient compter, et des lettres pour enjoindre aux commandans des
villes et forteresses par où elles devaient passer, de leur donner, par
tous les moyens possibles, assistance et protection pendant leur voyage.

Les dames de Croye, quoique intérieurement mécontentes de la manière
discourtoise et peu généreuse dont Louis les privait de l'asile qu'il
leur avait promis à sa cour, furent si loin de faire la moindre
objection à ce départ précipité, qu'elles allèrent au-devant

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