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The Massacre (of St. Bartholomew's Eve)


by John Lucarotti
first broadcast -  12th February, 1966


(It is the next morning. GASTON has joined NICHOLAS at the ADMIRAL DE COLIGNY'S house.)

GASTON: (Exasperated.) I tell you, Nicholas, he refuses to take any precautions. Our noble lord, Henri of Navarre, will not believe that the Catholics are plotting to kill him!
NICHOLAS: That so surprising? He is married to the King's sister! He must put on a show of trust in the Cath...
GASTON: (Interrupting.) Trust in them! You know how far we can do that! You told him what that girl overheard?
GASTON: What did he say?
NICHOLAS: He refuses to pay any attention to a servant girl's story.
GASTON: But we must convince them! Nicholas, you are the man's secretary. Now speak to de Coligny again, now tell him...
NICHOLAS: (Interrupting.) I've done what I can! No... I must wait until we find out something more... or for the Catholics to make a move...
GASTON: Their move is likely to be a knife in Navarre's back.

(GASTON paces then suddenly thinks of something...)

GASTON: What happened to that Englishman, Steven?
NICHOLAS: He's gone back to the tavern to find his friend.


(STEVEN pounds on the tavern door. There is no answer. STEVEN goes to question an old man passing by.)

STEVEN: Excuse me, I wonder if...

(The door to the tavern is suddenly opened. STEVEN goes inside...)


STEVEN: Landlord, has anyone asked for me?
LANDLORD: What, sir? Oh, it's you, monsieur.
STEVEN: The friend I was waiting for last night...
LANDLORD: Not today.
STEVEN: Didn't he return last night and leave a message?
LANDLORD: I haven't seen your friend since you left with him at the curfew last night!
STEVEN: Not that friend, I'm looking for the old man, the was...the one who was here with me yesterday morning. Well, he should have met me here last night. Look, he was wearing a large travelling cloak and carrying a silver-topped cane.
LANDLORD: No one has been here. We're closed.
STEVEN: Not last night or this morning?
LANDLORD: No! I've got work to do! If you need help go and ask it from your Huguenot friends!


NICHOLAS: For goodness sake, Gaston. It's quite likely we drew the wrong conclusions.
GASTON: Look, the girl overheard the men talking about Vase, and it would happen again before the week was out!
NICHOLAS: No she didn't! She heard them mention the name Vase. And then, just before she ran away, she heard them say it would happen before the week was out.
GASTON: Well what's the difference?
NICHOLAS: It's quite likely the name Vase had nothing to do with the massacre there. And the it was referring to something else entirely.
GASTON: Look, Nicholas, you can't...

(There is a knock at the door and the SERVANT shows in STEVEN.)

STEVEN: Nicholas, I'm sorry to have to bother you again...
NICHOLAS: Don't worry. (To the SERVANT.) Antoine, bring another glass.
SERVANT: Yes, monsieur.
NICHOLAS: You, er, didn't find your friend?
STEVEN: Well, no, I even went to the TARD... the place where we were to leave from. There wasn't any sign of him.
GASTON: Well if he's fallen foul of the Catholics who roam about the streets, heaven help him.
NICHOLAS: Many of our followers are just as bad.
GASTON: Nonsense!
NICHOLAS: Pay no attention to Gaston. Now what can I do to help you?
STEVEN: Well, my friend went to the Port St. Martin as you know. I must try to find him there, but I'm afraid I can't remember your directions.
NICHOLAS: I'll come with you.
STEVEN: Thanks.

(They are about to leave but GASTON has been looking out of the window and he calls them back.)

GASTON: Before you go, I think you have a visitor!
GASTON: Roger Colbert! Recently appointed temporal secretary to the Abbot of Amboise during his stay in Paris. I'll wager he's come to fetch the girl.

(Very amused, he laughs. A second later, the door is opened and ROGER is shown in.)

GASTON: An unexpected visit, monsieur Colbert!

(ROGER ignores him and walks over to NICHOLAS.)

ROGER: Nicholas Muss?
ROGER: Forgive me for calling on you like this but I believe that yesterday you were put to some inconvenience by a servant from the household of the Abbot of Amboise.
NICHOLAS: Inconvenience?
ROGER: I understand she overheard someone say something and was frightened by it. She ran away and I hear that you kindly gave her refuge in the Admiral's kitchens.
GASTON: And what could the Abbot say that would frighten a servant so?
ROGER: The Abbot was not then in residence. She heard someone speak of Vase and I believe that she was there when that unfortunate business took place. She was frightened, I suspect, by her own memory, rather than by anything she heard.
GASTON: And do they discuss the slaughter at Vase so glibly?
ROGER: People can talk of the town without referring to that.

(ANNE enters the room with some wine. GASTON quickly shoos her out.)

ROGER: Surely, that is the very girl!
GASTON: That girl?
ROGER: Yes, her name is Anne Chaplet. Allow me take her with me.
GASTON: Oh, no, no, no, no, no! You must be mistaken, that girl is called, erm, Genevieve. And she's been working here ever since the Admiral came to Paris.
ROGER: (Unconvinced.) I see. Forgive me for troubling you.

(ROGER leaves as GASTON laughs.)

STEVEN: That is the same man who followed my friend from the tavern.
NICHOLAS: You're sure?
STEVEN: Positive.
NICHOLAS: But what could the Abbot of Amboise want with your friend?
GASTON: (Looking out of the window again.) Well, well, well, the Abbot has come himself, and all for the sake of a servant.

(STEVEN and NICHOLAS join GASTON at the window. ROGER is outside reporting to the ABBOT. He turns round and STEVEN is amazed to see that it is the DOCTOR.)

STEVEN: (Shocked.) But...but that's the Doctor! That's the Doctor talking to Roger Colbert! I must go to him. Thank you for all your help.

(He goes to leave the room and join the DOCTOR. GASTON calls him back.)

GASTON: One moment!
GASTON: You say that man is your friend?
GASTON: And how long have you been working for the Abbot of Amboise?
STEVEN: (Amazed.) What?
NICHOLAS: (Quietly furious.) The man talking to Colbert is the Abbot of Amboise. In what capacity do you serve him?
STEVEN: What are you talking about? Well that man's the Doc...

(He looks out of the window again, but the street outside is now empty.)

STEVEN: He's least... it looked like the Doctor!
GASTON: (Angry.) If you're certain, the certainty is that I don't like Catholic spies!
STEVEN: I'm no spy. Listen to me. I thought that man was the Doctor. If you say it was the Abbot of Amboise, then I must be mistaken.
NICHOLAS: (Somewhat sarcastically.) Perhaps...
STEVEN: Look Nicholas! I can prove that the Doctor looks like the Abbot. Show me the way to the Port St. Martin, we'll go to the shop of Preslin the apothecary, you'll meet the Doctor!
GASTON: (To NICHOLAS.) And walk straight into a Catholic trap!
STEVEN: (Angry.) It's no trap! Nicholas, if I were a spy would I be such a fool as to betray myself like this?

(GASTON starts to shout but NICHOLAS quickly interrupts him.)

NICHOLAS: I think he may be telling the truth. I'll come with you.
GASTON: Yeh, so will I.
NICHOLAS: No, stay here. If I don't come back, go to the Admiral.
GASTON: Look, you're mad, listen...
NICHOLAS: We have to find out! (To STEVEN.) Come, monsieur and for your sake, I hope we find your friend.

(They walk out.)


(SIMON Duvall is reporting on the situation to TAVANNES, the Marshal of France.)

MARSHAL TAVANNES: You say the Abbot went to the house himself?
SIMON: Yes, Marshal, he felt it was imperative to get the girl back.
MARSHAL TAVANNES: The Abbot's a fool. The girl's not important. She must have told the Huguenots all that she knows. All that she overheard. If they'd made anything of it they'd have acted by now. All he's done is to arouse further suspicion.
SIMON: He's an astute man in some ways. After all, without him, we wouldn't have got the help of monsieur Bondot.
MARSHAL TAVANNES: Bondot has yet to prove himself. Other assassins might do as well.
SIMON: His Eminence the Cardinal trusts the Abbot.
MARSHAL TAVANNES: Yes, I'm not sure that I do. There's something odd about all this. Watch him closely, Simon, make a note of everything he says or does, and report it to me.
SIMON: Yes, Marshal. There is another matter. Nicholas Muss is playing host to a young Englishman.
MARSHAL TAVANNES: At de Coligny's house? Who is he?
SIMON: I don't know.
MARSHAL TAVANNES: (Thinks.) Mmm. Perhaps our fine Admiral is making secret overtures to the English?
SIMON: It seems that he's a stranger to France.
MARSHAL TAVANNES: All the more reason why Elizabeth of England should send him. Find out more about this Englishman. Go now, and stay close to the Abbot...

(ADMIRAL DE COLIGNY enters the room, unnoticed.)

MARSHAL TAVANNES: ...and, Simon, tell him I shall bring word later concerning the 'Sea Beggar'.
ADMIRAL DE COLIGNY: Interested in the Dutch at last, Marshal Tavannes?
MARSHAL TAVANNES: Ah, Admiral De Coligny! I didn't hear you come in.
ADMIRAL DE COLIGNY: I hope you are looking into the plight of the unfortunate Dutch....

(SIMON leaves the room.)

ADMIRAL DE COLIGNY: ...the 'sea beggars' as you call them. Their fight with Spain is a just one.
MARSHAL TAVANNES: So you frequently tell us in council.
ADMIRAL DE COLIGNY: Your only quarrel with the Dutch is that they're Protestant and not Catholic.
MARSHAL TAVANNES: That could also be the reason why you support them. But rest assured, Admiral, we are examining their claim for France's aid.
ADMIRAL DE COLIGNY: That is something I suppose.
MARSHAL TAVANNES: Tell me, have you any news from that other ally of yours, England?
MARSHAL TAVANNES: Strange. I'd heard that you have an Englishman staying with you.
ADMIRAL DE COLIGNY: There was a lost stranger who lodged at my house last night. I believe he was English.
MARSHAL TAVANNES: And he brought you no word?
ADMIRAL DE COLIGNY: You are an extraordinary man, Tavannes. You see shadows where there is no sun.
MARSHAL TAVANNES: Perhaps. Forgive me. I have an audience with the Queen Mother.
ADMIRAL DE COLIGNY: Don't let me detain you.



(NICHOLAS and STEVEN are searching for PRESLIN'S shop without success so far.)

NICHOLAS: We've been up and down every street in the Port St. Martin.
STEVEN: Preslin's shop must be around here somewhere. (He sees the shop.) Look!

(He rushes over to the door, bumping into an OLD LADY in the process.)

STEVEN: Sorry!
OLD LADY: Rushing about, knocking folk down, you young gentlemen...

(STEVEN starts pounding on the door.)

NICHOLAS: Sorry, my friend's looking for someone.
OLD LADY: Well that's no reason to go pushing me over. (To STEVEN.) And you can stop making all that noise. You're disturbing the whole neighbourhood. Nobody lives there.
STEVEN: What?!
NICHOLAS: Monsieur Preslin doesn't use his shop?
OLD LADY: Does it look like it? Nothing lives there except the rats.
STEVEN: Where is Preslin now?
NICHOLAS: How long since he's lived here?
OLD LADY: Oh, a long time. Two years about. He was arrested for heresy.
STEVEN: What do you mean?...You mean he's in prison?
OLD LADY: Burnt I expect. And if he isn't, he should be.

(She walks away.)

NICHOLAS: Your story is thinner than before. You say the Doctor with Preslin, who by all accounts is dead.
STEVEN: She only said he might be.
NICHOLAS: And what about the Doctor?
STEVEN: I don't know.
NICHOLAS: (With menace.) I think I do. Your friend is the Abbot of Amboise.
STEVEN: No. (Almost to himself.) At least, I don't see how it can be... unless?
STEVEN: It is just possible that the Doctor is pretending to be the Abbot.
NICHOLAS: For what reason?
STEVEN: Wait until I find him.
NICHOLAS: So that you can get further instructions?
STEVEN: Nicholas! Please believe me! I know nothing about Vase or the Catholics or half of what you talk about. If the Doctor is pretending to be the Abbot then it's for a very good reason. Please let me go to him. Shall I find out there is a plot of some kind I'll come back and tell you.
NICHOLAS: No. You will come back with me now. There are others who shall decide before I do.

(With no other choice, STEVEN goes with him. However, he waits for his chance, then trips NICHOLAS and pushes him into a passerby. He escapes, racing away through the streets.)


SIMON: Where is the Abbot? He knew I might bring word. I've been waiting here for over half an hour.
ROGER: He may be with Monivere.
SIMON: Will you never learn? Call the assassin Bondot. If the 'Sea Beggar' should find out Monivere is in Paris he'd be put on his guard at once. Why do you think we've chosen code names so very carefully?
ROGER: I'm sorry.
SIMON: You've already been responsible for one mistake. There must be no more.
ROGER: I parted with the Abbot at De Coligny's house. He did not tell me where he was going.
SIMON: Oh, very well. Tell me what you know about the Abbot.
ROGER: He's been specially appointed by the Cardinal.
SIMON: I don't mean that. How long have you known him?
ROGER: I only met him yesterday. But he's worked for His Eminence the Cardinal of Lorraine for many years and has done him many services.
SIMON: You saw him for the first time yesterday?
ROGER: No. I met him for the first time. I saw him once at an encyclical meeting held by the Cardinal.
SIMON: And that was the only time you'd seen him?
SIMON: Tell me, when you saw Nicholas Muss this morning, who else was there?
ROGER: The Vicomte De Leran, and the girl is certainly there, because I saw her.
SIMON: She's of no importance now. No one else was with them?
ROGER: A third man but I didn't know him.
SIMON: Was he English?
ROGER: I don't know. He didn't speak.
SIMON: I want you to find out about him. If he is English, find out who he is and what his business is in France.


(GASTON is questioning ANNE.)

ANNE: Like I said, monsieur, I never seen him before in my life. I just ran into him when the Abbot's guards were after me and I thought he was one of them.
ANNE: Well, because I was frightened and when he held out his arms, as if to stop me, and I thought he was one of them, but he isn't.
GASTON: How do you know?
ANNE: Because he's kind, monsieur, and gentle.

(NICHOLAS enters.)

GASTON: (Exuberant.) Nicholas, you're back! How was the Port St. Martin?
NICHOLAS: Ah, Gaston, now listen...
GASTON: Now there's a welcome. I've got good news. Henri of Navarre has decided to increase his guard.
NICHOLAS: And I have bad news. Steven's escaped. He must've been sent here by the Catholics.
ANNE: That's not true!
GASTON: (Amused.) What's that?
ANNE: Forgive me, monsieur, but... well I'm sure he's a stranger here. He knows nothing about anything or... or what's going on in Paris. Why, he don't even know about the royal wedding.
GASTON: (Quietly.) Get out of here.
ANNE: But, monsieur...
GASTON: (Wearily.) Get out!

(ANNE leaves.)

GASTON: You're too kind to these nothings. Now, tell me what's been happening.
NICHOLAS: (Embarrassed.) He didn't find the man who was supposed to look like the Abbot. (Trying to justify himself.) I was bringing Steven back here when he got away.
NICHOLAS: We were on our way back when... he suddenly tricked me and pushed me into a passer-by. I was taken by surprise. I went after him but it was hopeless.
GASTON: I knew I should have come with you. Still, we know where to find him.
NICHOLAS: Yes...with the Abbot of Amboise.


(By early evening, STEVEN has made his way to the ABBOT'S house. Lurking in the shadows, he approaches the house. Two guards pass by and STEVEN hides. After they have gone, STEVEN spots a light behind an opened window. He climbs up to the window and looks in.)


(STEVEN sees MARSHAL TAVANNES and SIMON talking. They are with ROGER.)

MARSHAL TAVANNES: So my Lord abbot is not here and you don't know where he is to be found?
SIMON: I'm afraid not, Marshal.
MARSHAL TAVANNES: After my instructions to you earlier today I would have hoped that I could put more faith in you.
SIMON: I'm sorry but we did look everywhere.
MARSHAL TAVANNES: There's a draught in here. Close those shutters.

(ROGER closes the shutters. STEVEN ducks back to avoid detection, but can still hear the conversation.)

MARSHAL TAVANNES: Between you, you will find the Abbot and you will give him this message for me. Say the decision has been made.
SIMON: You mean...
MARSHAL TAVANNES: You interrupt me, Simon. Tell him the 'Sea Beggar' dies tomorrow.
SIMON: Tomorrow? Where?
MARSHAL TAVANNES: He will attend an early council meeting at the Louvre. On his return, Bondot will be waiting for him. (He takes a drink from a cup he is holding.)
SIMON: Do you wish that the Abbot instructs Bondot?
MARSHAL TAVANNES: No. Bondot already has his orders. You may tell the Abbot that also - when you find him. (With some contempt.) Is that clear?
SIMON: Yes, Marshal.

(TAVANNES leaves the room. SIMON is both aghast and relieved.)

SIMON: So, the royal command has been given.
ROGER: What do you mean?
SIMON: That order didn't come from Marshal Tavannes. It came from the Queen Mother.


(STEVEN jumps down from the window and runs off.)


(STEVEN has made his way from the ABBOT'S residence. He is shown in by the SERVANT.)

SERVANT: He won't be long, monsieur. If you'll wait in here.
STEVEN: Thanks.

(He leaves the room. STEVEN looks around the room. His is glancing at some papers on NICHOLAS'S desk when GASTON enters the room.)

GASTON: Nicholas, there's... (Sees STEVEN.) What are you doing?
STEVEN: Where is Nicholas? I have some important news.
GASTON: I'm sure you have. And I've got some for you too. (Shouts.) Get out of here!
STEVEN: Look, you don't understand...
GASTON: (Angry.) What papers are you looking for, spy! Some more information for your Abbot?
STEVEN: (Shouts.) Listen to me!
GASTON: (Angry.) I'd rather listen to a pack of screaming devils!
STEVEN: Gaston, there is a...

(GASTON withdraws his sword. STEVEN pulls out his own sword to defend himself and parries GASTON'S lunge. GASTON continues to advance and manages to disarm STEVEN with ease.)

GASTON: (Quietly, with contempt.) Get out of here.
STEVEN: Gaston...
GASTON: (Shouts.) Get out!

(NICHOLAS enters as STEVEN leaves the room. He has heard the commotion.)

NICHOLAS: Gaston, what are you doing?
GASTON: Oh, you're having a very bad effect on me, my friend. I just spared that wretch's life.
NICHOLAS: What are you talking about?
GASTON: That... Englishman!
GASTON: Yes, I caught him here!
NICHOLAS: What did he say?
GASTON: Say? Nothing.
NICHOLAS: Why did he come back?
GASTON: He was spying! I caught him going through your papers.
NICHOLAS: He must have had a message otherwise he'd never have come back.
GASTON: (Shouts.) I tell you he was going through your papers!
NICHOLAS: Where did he go?
GASTON: How should I know? Probably back to that animal from Amboise.
NICHOLAS: Steven said he'd come back here if he found out something important. Did he say anything?
GASTON: Nothing! Well don't tell me that you still trust him!
NICHOLAS: (With some contempt.) For pity's sake go back to the Louvre. Go back and protect your Lord of Navarre. It's almost time for the curfew.

(GASTON stalks out.)


(STEVEN is alone on the darkening streets, not sure of what to do or where to go. After a while, he realises he is being followed as the Tocsin bell starts to ring out for curfew. Stopping in the shadows, he reaches out and manages to capture his pursuer. It is ANNE who screams as STEVEN surprises her.)

STEVEN: Anne! What are you doing following?
ANNE: I'm sorry, monsieur, I didn't mean any harm.
STEVEN: What are you doing here? The curfew's ringing. Go back to the house.
ANNE: No. I can't go back there now. They'll... they'll know where to find me. I want to come with you.
STEVEN: But you can't, I mean, why?
ANNE: You were kind to me. You were the first one that ever was. Please, don't send me back there.
STEVEN: I can't take you with me. I've nowhere to go myself.
ANNE: Well, I know Paris, I'll help you find somewhere.
STEVEN: Well I... (Thinks.) Yes. Anne, do you know who the 'Sea Beggar' is?
ANNE: What?
STEVEN: Who is the 'Sea Beggar'?
ANNE: I don't know, monsieur. Why?
STEVEN: He's going to be killed tomorrow. All right then, if you insist on coming with me do you know where we can spend the night?
ANNE: We can't go to my aunt's. They'll be looking for me there. There must be lots of places in Paris where no one would think of finding me.
STEVEN: Yes of course, Preslin's shop. Do you know how to get to the Port St. Martin?
ANNE: Of course.
STEVEN: Take me there. I've only been there once. I don't think I can find it on my own.
ANNE: I'll show you.


(DE COLIGNY enters his house and finds NICHOLAS working at his desk.)

NICHOLAS: Admiral!
ADMIRAL DE COLIGNY: You're working late.
NICHOLAS: I thought you were asleep.
ADMIRAL DE COLIGNY: Nonsense. I've been with the King.
NICHOLAS: You wish to give me some notes?
ADMIRAL DE COLIGNY: No, not tonight. I think I've persuaded him.
NICHOLAS: You've got the King to agree to war with Spain?
ADMIRAL DE COLIGNY: It's possible. If he doesn't change his mind by the morning...we are to join the Dutch. You know, Nicholas, after I'd explained the situation to him, he turned to me and he said "If we do ally ourselves with the Dutch, you, De Coligny, will go down in history as the 'Sea Beggar'." The Sea Beggar! It's a title I'd be proud of!

Next Episode

Abbot of Amboise









Marshal Tavannes

Admiral de Coligny

Old lady

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