Página:Imbert de Saint-Amand Marie Antoinette.djvu/45

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THE DEA TH OF GUSTAVUS III. 39

My subjects, although very brave in war, are ex- tremely timid in politics. The successes I expect to gain in France, the trophies of which I shall bring back to Stockholm, will speedily augment my power by the confidence and general respect which will be their result.”

Meantime the fatal hour was approaching. The masked ball of March 16 was about to open. Before going there, Gustavus took supper with a few of the persons belonging to his household. While he was at table he received a note, written in French and unsigned, in which he was entreated not to enter the playhouse, where he was about to be stricken to death. The author of the note urgently recom- mended the King not to make his appearance at the ball, and, if he persisted in going, to suspect the crowd which would press around him, because this gathering was to be the prelude and signal of the blow aimed at him. The really bizarre thing about this was that the man who wrote these lines was himself one of the conspirators, Count de Lilien- horn.

“It is impossible to tell,’’ says the Marquis de Bouillé in his Memoirs, “Whether his conscience wished to acquit itself in this man11er towards the King, to whom he owed everything, without forfeit- ing his word to his party, or whether, knowing the fearless character of this prince, he did not offer his anonymous advice as a bait to his courage. It cer- tainly produced the latter effect.” Gustavus made no