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LES BORGIA 7 Néanmoins son front, courbé jusque-là devant l’auto rité de l’Église, s’était déjà relevé devant la puissance t emporelle. La religion et la liberté lui paraissaient deux vierge s également saintes, de sorte que, dans son esprit, Laurent lui semblait aussi coupable en asservissant l’une que le pape Innocent VIII en déshonorant l’autre. Il en résultait que tant que L aurent avait vécu riche, heureux et magnifique, Savonarole n’avait ja mais voulu, quelques instances qui lui eussent été faites, sanc tionner par sa présence un pouvoir qu’il regardait comme illégitim e. Mais Laurent, au lit de mort, le faisait appeler : c’éta it autre chose. L’austère prédicateur s’était aussitôt mis en route , les pieds et la tête nus, espérant sauver non seulement l’âme du mo ribond, mais encore la liberté de la république. Laurent, comme nous l’avons dit, attendait l’arrivé e de Savonarole avec une impatience mêlée d’inquiétude, de sorte que, lorsqu’il entendit le bruit de ses pas, son vi sage pâle prit une teinte plus cadavéreuse encore, tandis qu’en même t emps il se soulevait sur le coude, ordonnant par un geste à se s trois amis de s’éloigner. Ceux-ci obéirent aussitôt, et à peine é taient-ils sortis par une porte que la portière de l’autre se souleva et que le moine, pâle, immobile et grave, apparut sur le seuil. En l’apercevant, Laurent de Médicis, lisant sur son front de marbre l’inflexibilité d’une statue, retomba sur son lit en poussant un so upir si profond que l’on eût pu croire que c’était le dernier. Le moine jeta un coup d’œil autour de l’appartement , comme pour s’assurer qu’il était bien seul avec le mouran t, puis il s’avança d’un pas lent et solennel vers le lit. Lau rent le regarda s’approcher avec terreur, puis quand il fut à ses c ôtés : —Ô mon père, j’étais un bien grand pécheur ! s’écri a-t-il. —La miséricorde de Dieu est infinie, répondit le mo ine, et je suis chargé de la miséricorde divine vis-à-vis d e toi. —Vous croyez donc que Dieu me pardonnera mes péchés ? s’écria le mourant, se reprenant à l’espoir en ente ndant des paroles si inattendues sortir de la bouche du moine.…...

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