List Of Contents | Contents of The Borgias, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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guard of the King of France.  So it was settled that the Orsini
should pay 70,000 florins for the expenses of the war, and that all
the prisoners on both sides should be exchanged without ransom with
the single exception of the Duke of Urbino.  As a pledge for the
future payment of the 70,000 florins, the Orsini handed over to the
Cardinals Sforza and San Severino the fortresses of Anguillara and
Cervetri; then, when the day came and they had not the necessary
money, they gave up their prisoner, the Duke of Urbino, estimating
his worth at 40,000 ducats--nearly all the sum required--and handed
him over to Alexander on account; he, a rigid observer of
engagements, made his own general, taken prisoner in his service,
pay, to himself the ransom he owed to the enemy.

Then the pope had the corpse of Virginio sent to Carlo Orsini and
Vitellozzo Vitelli, as he could not send him alive.  By a strange
fatality the prisoner had died, eight days before the treaty was
signed, of the same malady--at least, if we may judge by analogy--
that had carried off Bajazet's brother.

As soon as the peace was signed, Prospero Calonna and Gonzalvo de
Cordova, whom the Pope had demanded from Frederic, arrived at Rome
with an army of Spanish and Neapolitan troops.  Alexander, as he
could not utilise these against the Orsini, set them the work of
recapturing Ostia, not desiring to incur the reproach of bringing
them to Rome far nothing.  Gonzalvo was rewarded for this feat by
receiving the Rose of Gold from the pope's hand--that being the
highest honour His Holiness can grant.  He shared this distinction
with the Emperor Maximilian, the King of France, the Doge of Venice,
and the Marquis of Mantua.

In the midst of all this occurred the solemn festival of the
Assumption; in which Ganzalvo was invited to take part.  He
accordingly left his palace, proceeded in great pomp in the front of
the pontifical cavalry, and took his place on the Duke of Gandia's
left hand.  The duke attracted all eyes by his personal beauty, set
off as it was by all the luxury he thought fit to display at this
festival.  He had a retinue of pages and servants, clad in sumptuous
liveries, incomparable for richness with anything heretofore seen in
Rome, that city of religious pomp.  All these pages and servants rode
magnificent horses, caparisoned in velvet trimmed with silver fringe,
and bells of silver hanging down every here and there.  He himself
was in a robe of gold brocade, and wore at his neck a string of
Eastern pearls, perhaps the finest and largest that ever belonged to
a Christian prince, while on his cap was a gold chain studded with
diamonds of which the smallest was worth more than 20,000 ducats.
This magnificence was all the more conspicuous by the contrast it
presented to Caesar's dress, whose scarlet robe admitted of no
ornaments.  The result was that Caesar, doubly jealous of his
brother, felt a new hatred rise up within him when he heard all along
the way the praises of his fine appearance and noble equipment.  From
this moment Cardinal Valentino decided in his own mind the fate of
this man, this constant obstacle in the path of his pride, his love,
and his ambition.  Very good reason, says Tommaso, the historian, had
the Duke of Gandia to leave behind him an impression on the public
mind of his beauty and his grandeur at this fete, for this last
display was soon to be followed by the obsequies of the unhappy young

Lucrezia also had come to Rome, on the pretext of taking part in the
solemnity, but really, as we shall see later, with the view of
serving as a new instrument for her father's ambition.  As the pope
was not satisfied with an empty triumph of vanity and display for his
son, and as his war with the Orsini had failed to produce the
anticipated results, he decided to increase the fortune of his
firstborn by doing the very thing which he had accused Calixtus in
his speech of doing for him, viz., alienating from the States of the
Church the cities of Benevento, Terracino, and Pontecorvo to form, a
duchy as an appanage to his son's house.  Accordingly this
proposition was put forward in a full consistory, and as the college
of cardinals was entirely Alexander's, there was no difficulty about
carrying his point.  This new favour to his elder brother exasperated
Caesar, although he was himself getting a share of the paternal
gifts; for he had just been named envoy 'a latere' at Frederic's
court, and was appointed to crown him with his own hands as the papal
representative.  But Lucrezia, when she had spent a few days of
pleasure with her father and brothers, had gone into retreat at the
convent of San Sisto.  No one knew the real motive of her seclusion,
and no entreaties of Caesar, whose love for her was strange and
unnatural, had induced her to defer this departure from the world
even until the day after he left for Naples.  His sister's obstinacy
wounded him deeply, for ever since the day when the Duke of Gandia
had appeared in the procession so magnificently attired, he fancied
he had observed a coldness in the mistress of his illicit affection,
and so far did this increase his hatred of his rival that he resolved
to be rid of him at all costs.  So he ordered the chief of his sbirri
to come and see him the same night.

Michelotto was accustomed to these mysterious messages, which almost
always meant his help was wanted in some love affair or some act of
revenge.  As in either case his reward was generally a large one, he
was careful to keep his engagement, and at the appointed hour was
brought into the presence of his patron.

Caesar received him leaning against a tall chimney-piece, no longer
wearing his cardinal's robe and hat, but a doublet of black velvet
slashed with satin of the same colour.  One hand toyed mechanically
with his gloves, while the other rested an the handle of a poisoned
dagger which never left his side.  This was the dress he kept for his
nocturnal expeditions, so Michelotto felt no surprise at that; but
his eyes burned with a flame more gloomy than their want, and his
cheeks, generally pale, were now livid.  Michelotto had but to cast
one look upon his master to see that Caesar and he were about to
share some terrible enterprise.

He signed to him to shut the door.  Michelotto obeyed.  Then, after a
moment's silence, during which the eyes of Borgia seemed to burn into
the soul of the bravo, who with a careless air stood bareheaded
before ham, he said, in a voice whose slightly mocking tone gave the
only sign of his emotion.

"Michelotto, how do you think this dress suits me?"

Accustomed as he was to his master's tricks of circumlocution, the
bravo was so far from expecting this question, that at first he stood
mute, and only after a few moments' pause was able to say

"Admirably, monsignore; thanks to the dress, your Excellency has the
appearance as well as the true spirit of a captain."

"I am glad you think so," replied Caesar.  "And now let me ask you,
do you know who is the cause that, instead of wearing this dress,
which I can only put an at night, I am forced to disguise myself in
the daytime in a cardinal's robe and hat, and pass my time trotting
about from church to church, from consistory to consistory, when I
ought properly to be leading a magnificent army in the battlefield,
where you would enjoy a captain's rank, instead of being the chief of
a few miserable sbirri?"

"Yes, monsignore," replied Michelotto, who had divined Caesar's
meaning at his first word; "the man who is the cause of this is
Francesco, Duke of Gandia, and Benevento, your elder brother."

"Do you know," Caesar resumed, giving no sign of assent but a nod and
a bitter smile,--"do you know who has all the money and none of the
genius, who has the helmet and none of the brains, who has the sword
and no hand to wield it?"

"That too is the Duke of Gandia," said Michelotto.

"Do you know; continued Caesar, "who is the man whom I find
continually blocking the path of my ambition, my fortune, and my

"It is the same, the Duke of Gandia," said Michelotto.

"And what do you think of it?" asked Caesar.

"I think he must die," replied the man coldly.

"That is my opinion also, Michelotto," said Caesar, stepping towards
him and grasping his hand; "and my only regret is that I did not
think of it sooner; for if I had carried a sword at my side in stead
of a crosier in my hand when the King of France was marching through
Italy, I should now have been master of a fine domain.  The pope is
obviously anxious to aggrandise his family, but he is mistaken in the
means he adopts: it is I who ought to have been made duke, and my
brother a cardinal.  There is no doubt at all that, had he made me
duke, I should have contributed a daring and courage to his service
that would have made his power far weightier than it is.  The man who
would make his way to vast dominions and a kingdom ought to trample
under foot all the obstacles in his path, and boldly grasp the very
sharpest thorns, whatever reluctance his weak flesh may feel; such a
man, if he would open out his path to fortune, should seize his
dagger or his sword and strike out with his eyes shut; he should not
shrink from bathing his hands in the blood of his kindred; he should
follow the example offered him by every founder of empire from
Romulus to Bajazet, both of whom climbed to the throne by the
ladder of fratracide.  Yes, Michelotto, as you say, such is my
condition, and I am resolved I will not shrink.  Now you know why I
sent for you: am I wrong in counting upon you?"

As might have been expected, Michelotto, seeing his own fortune in
this crime, replied that he was entirely at Caesar's service, and
that he had nothing to do but to give his orders as to time, place,
and manner of execution.  Caesar replied that the time must needs be
very soon, since he was on the point of leaving Rome for Naples; as
to the place and the mode of execution, they would depend on
circumstances, and each of them must look out for an opportunity, and
seize the first that seemed favourable.

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