Página:Imbert de Saint-Amand Marie Antoinette.djvu/41

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THE DEATH OF GUSTAVUS III. 35

he wore a gold box containing a sachet in which there was a powder that, according to his belief, would drive away evil spirits. All this apparatus of incantation and sorcery was one of the causes of Gustavus’s fall. It multiplied the snares around the unfortunate mona.rch, and served to mask his enemies. Prophecies announced his approaching end, and conspirators took care to fulfil the proph- ecies.

The Duke of Sudermania, the King’s brother, without being an accomplice in the project of crime, encouraged underhand practices. Sectarians ap- proached Gustavus to reproach him for his luxury, his prodigalities, his entertainments, or addressed him anonymous warnings which, i11 Biblical lan- guage, declared him. accursed and rejected by the Lord. Their insolence knew no bounds. Madame Arfwedsson had counselled the King to beware if he should meet a man dressed in red. Count de Ribbing, one of the future conspirators, having heard of this, ordered a red costume out of bravado, and presented himself in it before his sovereign, whom such an apparition caused to reflect if not to tremble.

Gustavus, like Caesar, was to see his Ides of March. It had been predicted to him that the month of March would be fatal to him. This month approached, and the monarch diverted himself by fétes and boisterous entertainments in order to banish the presentiments which never ceased to assail