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Ten Years Later

Part 17 out of 21

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personification of artless gentleness."

De Guiche was not, however, the less diligent on that
account, and five minutes afterwards they were within sight
of the Hotel de Ville. The first thing which struck them was
the number of people assembled in the square. "Excellent,"
said De Guiche; "our apartments, I see, are prepared."

In fact, in front of the Hotel de Ville, upon the wide open
space before it, eight tents had been raised, surmounted by
the flags of France and England united. The hotel was
surrounded by tents, as by a girdle of variegated colors;
ten pages and a dozen mounted troopers, who had been given
to the ambassadors, for an escort, mounted guard before the
tents. It had a singularly curious effect, almost fairy-like
in its appearance. These tents had been constructed during
the night-time. Fitted up, within and without, with the
richest materials that De Guiche had been able to procure in
Havre, they completely encircled the Hotel de Ville. The
only passage which led to the steps of the hotel, and which
was not inclosed by the silken barricade, was guarded by two
tents, resembling two pavilions, the doorways of both of
which opened towards the entrance. These two tents were
destined for De Guiche and Raoul; in whose absence they were
intended to be occupied, that of De Guiche by De Wardes, and
that of Raoul by Manicamp. Surrounding these two tents, and
the six others, a hundred officers, gentlemen, and pages,
dazzling in their display of silk and gold, thronged like
bees buzzing about a hive. Every one of them, their swords
by their sides, was ready to obey the slightest sign either
of De Guiche or Bragelonne, the leaders of the embassy.

At the very moment the two young men appeared at the end of
one of the streets leading to the square, they perceived,
crossing the square at full gallop, a young man on
horseback, whose costume was of surprising richness. He
pushed hastily through the crowd of curious lookers-on, and,
at the sight of these unexpected erections, uttered a cry of
anger and dismay. It was Buckingham, who had awakened from
his stupor, in order to adorn himself with a costume
perfectly dazzling from its beauty, and to await the arrival
of the princess and the queen-mother at the Hotel de Ville.
At the entrance to the tents, the soldiers barred his
passage, and his further progress was arrested. Buckingham,
hopelessly infuriated, raised his whip; but his arm was
seized by a couple of officers. Of the two guardians of the
tent, only one was there. De Wardes was in the interior of
the Hotel de Ville, engaged in attending to the execution of
some orders given by De Guiche. At the noise made by
Buckingham Manicamp, who was indolently reclining upon the
cushions at the doorway of one of the tents, rose with his
usual indifference, and, perceiving that the disturbance
continued, made his appearance from underneath the curtains.
"What is the matter?" he said, in a gentle tone of voice,
"and who is it making this disturbance?"

It so happened, that, at the moment he began to speak,
silence had just been restored, and, although his voice was
very soft and gentle in its tone, every one heard his
question. Buckingham turned round; and looked at the tall,
thin figure, and the listless expression of countenance of
his questioner. Probably the personal appearance of
Manicamp, who was dressed very plainly, did not inspire him
with much respect, for he replied disdainfully, "Who may you
be, monsieur?"

Manicamp, leaning on the arm of a gigantic trooper, as firm
as the pillar of a cathedral, replied in his usual tranquil
tone of voice, -- "And you, monsieur?"

"I, monsieur, am the Duke of Buckingham; I have hired all
the houses which surround the Hotel de Ville, where I have
business to transact; and as these houses are let, they
belong to me, and, as I hired them in order to preserve the
right of free access to the Hotel de Ville, you are not
justified in preventing me passing to it."

"But who prevents you passing, monsieur?" inquired Manicamp.

"Your sentinels."

"Because you wish to pass on horseback, and orders have been
given to let only persons on foot pass."

"No one has any right to give orders here, except myself,"
said Buckingham.

"On what grounds?" inquired Manicamp, with his soft tone.
"Will you do me the favor to explain this enigma to me?"

"Because, as I have already told you, I have hired all the
houses looking on the square."

"We are very well aware of that, since nothing but the
square itself has been left for us."

"You are mistaken, monsieur; the square belongs to me, as
well as the houses in it."

"Forgive me, monsieur, but you are mistaken there. In our
country, we say, the highway belongs to the king, therefore
this square is his majesty's; and, consequently, as we are
the king's ambassadors, the square belongs to us."

"I have already asked you who you are, monsieur," exclaimed
Buckingham, exasperated at the coolness of his interlocutor.

"My name is Manicamp," replied the young man, in a voice
whose tones were as harmonious and sweet as the notes of an
AEolian harp.

Buckingham shrugged his shoulders contemptuously, and said,
"When I hired these houses which surround the Hotel de
Ville, the square was unoccupied; these barracks obstruct my
sight; I hereby order them to be removed."

A hoarse and angry murmur ran through the crowd of listeners
at these words. De Guiche arrived at this moment; he pushed
through the crowd which separated him from Buckingham, and,
followed by Raoul, arrived on the scene of action from one
side, just as De Wardes came up from the other. "Pardon me,
my lord; but if you have any complaint to make, have the
goodness to address it to me, inasmuch as it was I who
supplied the plans for the construction of these tents."

"Moreover, I would beg you to observe, monsieur, that the
term `barrack' is a highly objectionable one!" added
Manicamp, graciously.

"You were saying, monsieur -- " continued De Guiche.

"I was saying, monsieur le comte," resumed Buckingham, in a
tone of anger more marked than ever, although in some
measure moderated by the presence of an equal, "I was saying
that it is impossible these tents can remain where they
are."

"Impossible!" exclaimed De Guiche, "and why?"

"Because I object to them."

A movement of impatience escaped De Guiche, but a warning
glance from Raoul restrained him.

"You should the less object to them, monsieur, on account of
the abuse of priority you have permitted yourself to
exercise."

"Abuse!"

"Most assuredly. You commission a messenger, who hires in
your name the whole of the town of Havre, without
considering the members of the French court, who would be
sure to arrive here to meet Madame. Your Grace will admit
that this is hardly friendly conduct in the representative
of a friendly nation."

"The right of possession belongs to him who is first on the
ground."

"Not in France, monsieur."

"Why not in France?"

"Because France is a country where politeness is observed."

"Which means!" exclaimed Buckingham, in so violent a manner
that those who were present drew back, expecting an
immediate collision.

"Which means, monsieur," replied De Guiche, now rather pale,
"that I caused these tents to be raised as habitations for
myself and my friends, as a shelter for the ambassadors of
France, as the only place of refuge which your exactions
have left us in the town; and that I and those who are with
me, shall remain in them, at least, until an authority more
powerful, and more supreme, than your own shall dismiss me
from them."

"In other words, until we are ejected, as the lawyers say,"
observed Manicamp, blandly.

"I know an authority, monsieur, which I trust is such as you
will respect," said Buckingham, placing his hand on his
sword.

At this moment, and as the goddess of Discord, inflaming all
minds, was about to direct their swords against each other,
Raoul gently placed his hand on Buckingham's shoulder. "One
word, my lord," he said.

"My right, my right, first of all," exclaimed the fiery
young man.

"It is precisely upon that point I wish to have the honor of
addressing a word to you."

"Very well, monsieur, but let your remarks be brief."

"One question is all I ask; you can hardly expect me to be
briefer."

"Speak, monsieur, I am listening."

"Are you, or is the Duke of Orleans, going to marry the
granddaughter of Henry IV.?"

"What do you mean?" exclaimed Buckingham, retreating a few
steps, bewildered.

"Have the goodness to answer me," persisted Raoul,
tranquilly.

"Do you mean to ridicule me, monsieur?" inquired Buckingham.

"Your question is a sufficient answer for me. You admit,
then, that it is not you who are going to marry the
princess?"

"Thou know it perfectly well, monsieur, I should imagine."

"I beg your pardon, but your conduct has been such as to
leave it not altogether certain."

"Proceed, monsieur, what do you mean to convey?"

Raoul approached the duke. "Are you aware, my lord," he
said, lowering his voice, "that your extravagances very much
resemble the excesses of jealousy? These jealous fits, with
respect to any woman, are not becoming in one who is neither
her lover nor her husband; and I am sure you will admit that
my remark applies with still greater force, when the lady in
question is a princess of the blood royal!"

"Monsieur," exclaimed Buckingham, "do you mean to insult
Madame Henrietta?"

"Be careful, my lord," replied Bragelonne, coldly, "for it
is you who insult her. A little while since, when on board
the admiral's ship, you wearied the queen, and exhausted the
admiral's patience. I was observing, my lord; and, at first,
I concluded you were not in possession of your senses, but I
have since surmised the real significance of your madness."

"Monsieur!" exclaimed Buckingham.

"One moment more, for I have yet another word to add. I
trust I am the only one of my companions who has guessed
it."

"Are you aware, monsieur," said Buckingham, trembling with
mingled feelings of anger and uneasiness, "are you aware
that you are holding language towards me which requires to
be checked?"

"Weigh your words well, my lord," said Raoul, haughtily: "my
nature is not such that its vivacities need checking; whilst
you, on the contrary, are descended from a race whose
passions are suspected by all true Frenchmen; I repeat,
therefore, for the second time, be careful!"

"Careful of what, may I ask? Do you presume to threaten me?"

"I am the son of the Comte de la Fere, my lord, and I never
threaten, because I strike first. Therefore, understand me
well, the threat that I hold out to you is this ---- "

Buckingham clenched his hands, but Raoul continued, as
though he had not observed the gesture. "At the very first
word, beyond the respect and deference due to her royal
highness, which you permit yourself to use towards her, --
be patient, my lord, for I am perfectly so."

"You?"

"Undoubtedly. So long as Madame remained on English
territory, I held my peace; but from the very moment she
stepped on French ground, and now that we have received her
in the name of the prince, I warn you, that at the first
mark of disrespect which you, in your insane attachment,
exhibit towards the royal house of France, I shall have one
of two courses to follow; -- either I declare, in the
presence of every one, the madness with which you are now
affected, and I get you ignominiously ordered back to
England; or if you prefer it, I will run my dagger through
your throat in the presence of all here. This second
alternative seems to me the least disagreeable, and I think
I shall hold to it."

Buckingham had become paler than the lace collar around his
neck. "M. de Bragelonne," he said, "is it, indeed, a
gentleman who is speaking to me?"

"Yes; only the gentleman is speaking to a madman. Get cured,
my lord, and he will hold quite another language to you."

"But, M. de Bragelonne," murmured the duke, in a voice,
half-choked, and putting his hand to his neck, -- "Do you
not see I am choking?"

"If your death were to take place at this moment, my lord,"
replied Raoul, with unruffled composure, "I should, indeed,
regard it as a great happiness, for this circumstance would
prevent all kinds of evil remarks; not alone about yourself,
but also about those illustrious persons whom your devotion
is compromising in so absurd a manner."

"You are right, you are right," said the young man, almost
beside himself. "Yes, yes; better to die, than to suffer as
I do at this moment." And he grasped a beautiful dagger, the
handle of which was inlaid with precious stones; and which
he half drew from his breast.

Raoul thrust his hand aside. "Be careful what you do," he
said; "if you do not kill yourself, you commit a ridiculous
action; and if you were to kill yourself, you sprinkle blood
upon the nuptial robe of the princess of England."

Buckingham remained a minute gasping for breath; during this
interval, his lips quivered, his fingers worked
convulsively, and his eyes wandered as though in delirium.
Then suddenly, he said, "M. de Bragelonne, I know nowhere a
nobler mind than yours; you are, indeed, a worthy son of the
most perfect gentleman that ever lived. Keep your tents."
And he threw his arms round Raoul's neck. All who were
present, astounded at this conduct, which was the very
reverse of what was expected, considering the violence of
the one adversary and the determination of the other, began
immediately to clap their hands, and a thousand cheers and
joyful shouts arose from all sides. De Guiche, in his turn,
embraced Buckingham somewhat against his inclination; but,
at all events, he did embrace him. This was the signal for
French and English to do the same; and they who, until that
moment, had looked at each other with restless uncertainty,
fraternized on the spot. In the meantime, the procession of
the princess arrived, and had it not been for Bragelonne,
two armies would have been engaged together in conflict, and
blood have been shed upon the flowers with which the ground
was covered. At the appearance, however, of the banners
borne at the head of the procession, complete order was
restored.

CHAPTER 86

Night

Concord returned to its place amidst the tents. English and
French rivaled each other in their devotion and courteous
attention to the illustrious travelers. The English
forwarded to the French baskets of flowers, of which they
had made a plentiful provision to greet the arrival of the
young princess; the French in return invited the English to
a supper, which was to be given the next day.
Congratulations were poured in upon the princess everywhere
during her journey. From the respect paid her on all sides,
she seemed like a queen; and from the adoration with which
she was treated by two or three, she appeared an object of
worship. The queen-mother gave the French the most
affectionate reception. France was her native country, and
she had suffered too much unhappiness in England for England
to have made her forget France. She taught her daughter,
then, by her own affection for it, that love for a country
where they had both been hospitably received, and where a
brilliant future opened before them. After the public entry
was over, and the spectators in the streets had partially
dispersed, and the sound of the music and cheering of the
crowd could be heard only in the distance; when the night
had closed in, wrapping with its star-covered mantle the
sea, the harbor, the town, and surrounding country, De
Guiche, still excited by the great events of the day,
returned to his tent, and seated himself upon one of the
stools with so profound an expression of distress that
Bragelonne kept his eyes fixed on him, until he heard him
sigh, and then he approached him. The count had thrown
himself back on his seat, leaning his shoulders against the
partition of the tent, and remained thus, his face buried in
his hands, with heaving chest and restless limbs.

"You are suffering?" asked Raoul.

"Cruelly."

"Bodily, I suppose?"

"Yes; bodily."

"This has indeed been a harassing day," continued the young
man, his eyes fixed upon his friend.

"Yes; a night's rest will probably restore me."

"Shall I leave you?"

"No; I wish to talk to you."

"You shall not speak to me, Guiche, until you have first
answered my questions."

"Proceed then."

"You will be frank with me?"

"I always am."

"Can you imagine why Buckingham has been so violent?"

"I suspect."

"Because he is in love with Madame, is it not?"

"One could almost swear to it, to observe him."

"You are mistaken; there is nothing of the kind."

"It is you who are mistaken, Raoul; I have read his distress
in his eyes, in his every gesture and action the whole day."

"You are a poet, my dear count, and find subject for your
muse everywhere."

"I can perceive love clearly enough."

"Where it does not exist?"

"Nay, where it does exist."

"Do you not think you are deceiving yourself, Guiche?"

"I am convinced of what I say," said the count.

"Now, inform me count," said Raoul, fixing a penetrating
look upon him, "what has happened to render you so
clear-sighted?"

Guiche hesitated for a moment, and then answered,
"Self-love, I suppose."

"Self-love is a pedantic word, Guiche."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean that, generally, you are less out of spirits than
seems to be the case this evening."

"I am fatigued."

"Listen to me, Guiche; we have been campaigners together; we
have been on horseback for eighteen hours at a time, and our
horses dying from exhaustion, or hunger, have fallen beneath
us, and yet we have laughed at our mishaps. Believe me, it
is not fatigue that saddens you to-night."

"It is annoyance, then."

"What annoyance?"

"That of this evening."

"The mad conduct of the Duke of Buckingham, do you mean?"

"Of course; is it not vexatious for us, the representatives
of our sovereign master, to witness the devotion of an
Englishman to our future mistress, the second lady in point
of rank in the kingdom?"

"Yes, you are right; but I do not think any danger is to be
apprehended from Buckingham."

"No; still he is intrusive. Did he not, on his arrival here,
almost succeed in creating a disturbance between the English
and ourselves; and, had it not been for you, for your
admirable prudence, for your singular decision of character,
swords would have been drawn in the very streets of the
town."

"You observe, however, that he has changed his tactics."

"Yes, certainly; but this is the very thing that amazes me
so much. You spoke to him in a low tone of voice, what did
you say to him? You think he loves her; you admit that such
a passion does not give way readily. He does not love her,
then!" De Guiche pronounced the latter with so marked an
expression that Raoul raised his head. The noble character
of the young man's countenance expressed a displeasure which
could easily be read.

"What I said to him, count," replied Raoul, "I will repeat
to you. Listen to me. I said, `You are regarding with
wistful feelings, and most injurious desire, the sister of
your prince, -- her to whom you are not affianced, who is
not, who can never be anything to you; you are outraging
those who, like ourselves, have come to seek a young lady to
escort her to her husband.'"

"You spoke to him in that manner?" asked Guiche coloring.

"In those very terms; I even added more. `How would you
regard us,' I said, `if you were to perceive among us a man
mad enough, disloyal enough, to entertain other than
sentiments of the most perfect respect for a princess who is
the destined wife of our master?'"

These words were so applicable to De Guiche that he turned
pale, and, overcome by a sudden agitation, was barely able
to stretch out one hand mechanically towards Raoul, as he
covered his eyes and face with the other.

"But," continued Raoul, not interrupted by this movement of
his friend, "Heaven be praised, the French who are
pronounced to be thoughtless and indiscreet, reckless, even,
are capable of bringing a calm and sound judgment to bear on
matters of such high importance. I added even more, for I
said, `Learn, my lord, that we gentlemen of France devote
ourselves to our sovereigns by sacrificing for them our
affections, as well as our fortunes and our lives; and
whenever it may chance to happen that the tempter suggests
one of those vile thoughts that set the heart on fire, we
extinguish the flame, even if it has to be done by shedding
our blood for the purpose. Thus it is that the honor of
three is saved: our country's, our master's, and our own. It
is thus that we act, your Grace; it is thus that every man
of honor ought to act. In this manner, my dear Guiche,"
continued Raoul, "I addressed the Duke of Buckingham; and he
admitted I was right, and resigned himself unresistingly to
my arguments."

De Guiche, who had hitherto sat leaning forward while Raoul
was speaking, drew himself up, his eyes glancing proudly; he
seized Raoul's hand, his face, which had been as cold as
ice, seemed on fire. "And you spoke magnificently," he said,
in a half-choked voice; "you are indeed a friend, Raoul. But
now, I entreat you, leave me to myself."

"Do you wish it?"

"Yes; I need repose. Many things have agitated me to-day,
both in mind and body; when you return tomorrow I shall no
longer be the same man."

"I leave you, then," said Raoul, as he withdrew. The count
advanced a step towards his friend, and pressed him warmly
in his arms. But in this friendly pressure Raoul could
detect the nervous agitation of a great internal conflict.

The night was clear, starlit, and splendid; the tempest had
passed away, and the sweet influences of the evening had
restored life, peace and security everywhere. A few fleecy
clouds were floating in the heavens, and indicated from
their appearance a continuance of beautiful weather,
tempered by a gentle breeze from the east. Upon the large
square in front of the hotel, the shadows of the tents,
intersected by the golden moonbeams, formed as it were a
huge mosaic of jet and yellow flagstones. Soon, however, the
entire town was wrapped in slumber; a feeble light still
glimmered in Madame's apartment, which looked out upon the
square, and the soft rays from the expiring lamp seemed to
be the image of the calm sleep of a young girl, hardly yet
sensible of life's anxieties, and in whom the flame of
existence sinks placidly as sleep steals over the body.

Bragelonne quitted the tent with the slow and measured step
of a man curious to observe, but anxious not to be seen.
Sheltered behind the thick curtains of his own tent,
embracing with a glance the whole square, he noticed that,
after a few moments' pause, the curtains of De Guiche's tent
were agitated, and then drawn partially aside. Behind them
he could perceive the shadow of De Guiche, his eyes
glittering in the obscurity, fastened ardently upon the
princess's sitting apartment, which was partially lighted by
the lamp in the inner room. The soft light which illumined
the windows was the count's star. The fervent aspirations of
his nature could be read in his eyes. Raoul, concealed in
the shadow, divined the many passionate thoughts that
established, between the tent of the young ambassador and
the balcony of the princess, a mysterious and magical bond
of sympathy -- a bond created by thoughts imprinted with so
much strength and persistence of will, that they must have
caused happy and loving dreams to alight upon the perfumed
couch, which the count, with the eyes of his soul, devoured
so eagerly.

But De Guiche and Raoul were not the only watchers. The
window of one of the houses looking on the square was opened
too, the casement of the house where Buckingham resided. By
the aid of the rays of light which issued from this latter,
the profile of the duke could be distinctly seen, as he
indolently reclined upon the carved balcony with its velvet
hangings; he also was breathing in the direction of the
princess's apartment his prayers and the wild visions of his
love.

Raoul could not resist smiling, as thinking of Madame, he
said to himself, "Hers is, indeed, a heart well besieged;"
and then added, compassionately, as he thought of Monsieur,
"and he is a husband well threatened too; it is a good thing
for him that he is a prince of such high rank, that he has
an army to safeguard for him that which is his own."
Bragelonne watched for some time the conduct of the two
lovers, listened to the loud and uncivil slumbers of
Manicamp, who snored as imperiously as though he was wearing
his blue and gold, instead of his violet suit.

Then he turned towards the night breeze which bore towards
him, he seemed to think, the distant song of the
nightingale; and, after having laid in a due provision of
melancholy, another nocturnal malady, he retired to rest
thinking, with regard to his own love affair, that perhaps
four or even a larger number of eyes, quite as ardent as
those of De Guiche and Buckingham, were coveting his own
idol in the chateau at Blois. "And Mademoiselle de Montalais
is by no means a very conscientious garrison," said he to
himself, sighing aloud.

CHAPTER 87

From Havre to Paris

The next day the fetes took place, accompanied by all the
pomp and animation that the resources of the town and the
cheerful disposition of men's minds could supply. During the
last few hours spent in Havre, every preparation for the
departure had been made. After Madame had taken leave of the
English fleet, and, once again, had saluted the country in
saluting its flags, she entered her carriage, surrounded by
a brilliant escort. De Guiche had hoped that the Duke of
Buckingham would accompany the admiral to England; but
Buckingham succeeded in demonstrating to the queen that
there would be great impropriety in allowing Madame to
proceed to Paris almost unprotected. As soon as it had been
settled that Buckingham was to accompany Madame, the young
duke selected a corps of gentlemen and officers to form part
of his own suite, so that it was almost an army that now set
out towards Paris, scattering gold, and exciting the
liveliest demonstrations as they passed through the
different towns and villages on the route. The weather was
very fine. France is a beautiful country, especially along
the route by which the procession passed. Spring cast its
flowers and its perfumed foliage on their path. Normandy,
with its vast variety of vegetation, its blue skies and
silver rivers, displayed itself in all the loveliness of a
paradise to the new sister of the king. Fetes and brilliant
displays received them everywhere along the line of march.
De Guiche and Buckingham forgot everything; De Guiche in his
anxiety to prevent any fresh attempts on the part of the
duke, and Buckingham, in his desire to awaken in the heart
of the princess a softer remembrance of the country to which
the recollection of many happy days belonged. But, alas! the
poor duke could perceive that the image of that country so
cherished by himself became, from day to day, more and more
effaced in Madame's mind, in exact proportion as her
affection for France became more deeply engraved on her
heart. In fact, it was not difficult to perceive that his
most devoted attention awakened no acknowledgment, and that
the grace with which he rode one of his most fiery horses
was thrown away, for it was only casually and by the merest
accident that the princess's eyes were turned towards him.
In vain did he try, in order to fix upon himself one of
those looks, which were thrown carelessly around, or
bestowed elsewhere, to produce in the animal he rode its
greatest display of strength, speed, temper and address; in
vain did he, by exciting his horse almost to madness, spur
him, at the risk of dashing himself in pieces against the
trees, or of rolling in the ditches, over the gates and
barriers which they passed, or down the steep declivities of
the hills. Madame, whose attention had been aroused by the
noise, turned her head for a moment to observe the cause of
it, and then, slightly smiling, again entered into
conversation with her faithful guardians, Raoul and De
Guiche, who were quietly riding at her carriage doors.
Buckingham felt himself a prey to all the tortures of
jealousy; an unknown, unheard of anguish glided through his
veins, and laid siege to his heart; and then, as if to show
that he knew the folly of his conduct, and that he wished to
correct, by the humblest submission, his flights of
absurdity, he mastered his horse, and compelled him, reeking
with sweat and flecked with foam, to champ his bit close
beside the carriage, amidst the crowd of courtiers.
Occasionally he obtained a word from Madame as a recompense,
and yet her speech seemed almost a reproach.

"That is well, my lord," she said, "now you are reasonable."

Or from Raoul, "Your Grace is killing your horse."

Buckingham listened patiently to Raoul's remarks, for he
instinctively felt, without having had any proof that such
was the case, that Raoul checked the display of De Guiche's
feelings, and that, had it not been for Raoul, some mad act
or proceeding, either of the count, or of Buckingham
himself, would have brought about an open rupture, or a
disturbance -- perhaps even exile itself. From the moment of
that excited conversation the two young men had held in
front of the tents at Havre, when Raoul made the duke
perceive the impropriety of his conduct, Buckingham felt
himself attracted towards Raoul almost in spite of himself.
He often entered into conversation with him, and it was
nearly always to talk to him either of his father or of
D'Artagnan, their mutual friend, in whose praise Buckingham
was nearly as enthusiastic as Raoul. Raoul endeavored, as
much as possible, to make the conversation turn upon this
subject in De Wardes's presence, who had, during the whole
journey, been exceedingly annoyed at the superior position
taken by Bragelonne, and especially by his influence over De
Guiche. De Wardes had that keen and merciless penetration
most evil natures possess; he had immediately remarked De
Guiche's melancholy, and divined the nature of his regard
for the princess. Instead, however, of treating the subject
with the same reserve which Raoul practiced; instead of
regarding with that respect, which was their due, the
obligations and duties of society, De Wardes resolutely
attacked in the count the ever-sounding chord of juvenile
audacity and pride. It happened one evening, during a halt
at Nantes, that while De Guiche and De Wardes were leaning
against a barrier, engaged in conversation, Buckingham and
Raoul were also talking together as they walked up and down.
Manicamp was engaged in devoted attendance on the princess,
who already treated him without reserve, on account of his
versatile fancy, his frank courtesy of manner, and
conciliatory disposition.

"Confess," said De Wardes, "that you are really ill and that
your pedagogue of a friend has not succeeded in curing you."

"I do not understand you," said the count.

"And yet it is easy enough; you are dying of love."

"You are mad, De Wardes."

"Madness it would be, I admit, if Madame were really
indifferent to your martyrdom; but she takes so much notice
of it, observes it to such an extent, that she compromises
herself, and I tremble lest, on our arrival at Paris, M. de
Bragelonne may not denounce both of you."

"For shame, De Wardes, again attacking De Bragelonne."

"Come, come, a truce to child's play," replied the count's
evil genius, in an undertone; "you know as well as I do what
I mean. Besides, you must have observed how the princess's
glance softens as she looks at you; -- you can tell, by the
very inflection of her voice, what pleasure she takes in
listening to you, and can feel how thoroughly she
appreciates the verses you recite to her. You cannot deny,
too, that every morning she tells you how indifferently she
slept the previous night."

"True, De Wardes, quite true; but what good is there in your
telling me all that?"

"Is it not important to know the exact position of affairs?"

"No, no; not when I am a witness of things that are enough
to drive one mad."

"Stay, stay," said De Wardes; "look, she calls you, -- do
you understand? Profit by the occasion, while your pedagogue
is absent."

De Guiche could not resist; an invincible attraction drew
him towards the princess. De Wardes smiled as he saw him
withdraw.

"You are mistaken, monsieur," said Raoul, suddenly stepping
across the barrier against which the previous moment the two
friends had been leaning. "The pedagogue is here, and has
overheard you."

De Wardes, at the sound of Raoul's voice, which he
recognized without having occasion to look at him, half drew
his sword.

"Put up your sword," said Raoul, "you know perfectly well
that, until our journey is at an end, every demonstration of
that nature is useless. Why do you distill into the heart of
the man you term your friend all the bitterness that infects
your own? As regards myself, you wish to arouse a feeling of
deep dislike against a man of honor -- my father's friend
and my own: and as for the count you wish him to love one
who is destined for your master. Really, monsieur, I should
regard you as a coward, and a traitor too, if I did not,
with greater justice, regard you as a madman."

"Monsieur," exclaimed De Wardes, exasperated, "I was
deceived, I find, in terming you a pedagogue. The tone you
assume, and the style which is peculiarly your own, is that
of a Jesuit, and not of a gentleman. Discontinue, I beg,
whenever I am present, this style I complain of, and the
tone also. I hate M. d'Artagnan because he was guilty of a
cowardly act towards my father."

"You lie, monsieur," said Raoul, coolly.

"You give me the lie, monsieur?" exclaimed De Wardes.

"Why not, if what you assert is untrue?"

"You give me the lie and will not draw your sword?"

"I have resolved, monsieur, not to kill you until Madame
shall have been delivered safely into her husband's hands."

"Kill me! Believe me, monsieur, your schoolmaster's rod does
not kill so easily."

"No," replied Raoul, sternly, "but M. d'Artagnan's sword
kills; and, not only do I possess his sword, but he has
himself taught me how to use it: and with that sword, when a
befitting time arrives, I will avenge his name ---a name you
have dishonored."

"Take care, monsieur," exclaimed De Wardes; "if you do not
immediately give me satisfaction, I will avail myself of
every means to revenge myself."

"Indeed, monsieur," said Buckingham, suddenly, appearing
upon the scene of action, "that is a threat which savors of
assassination, and therefore, ill becomes a gentleman."

"What did you say, my lord?" said De Wardes, turning round
towards him.

"I said, monsieur, that the words you spoken are displeasing
to my English ears."

"Very well, monsieur, if what you say is true," exclaimed De
Wardes, thoroughly incensed, "I at least find in you one who
will not escape me. Understand my words as you like."

"I take them in the manner they cannot but be understood,"
replied Buckingham, with that haughty tone which
characterized him. and which, even in ordinary conversation,
gave a tone of defiance to everything he said; "M. de
Bragelonne is my friend, you insult M. de Bragelonne, and
you shall give me satisfaction for that insult."

De Wardes cast a look upon De Bragelonne, who, faithful to
the character he had assumed, remained calm and unmoved,
even after the duke's defiance.

"It would seem that I did not insult M. de Bragelonne, since
M. de Bragelonne, who carries a sword by his side, does not
consider himself insulted."

"At all events you insult some one."

"Yes, I insulted M. d'Artagnan," resumed De Wardes, who had
observed that this was the only means of stinging Raoul, so
as to awaken his anger.

"That then," said Buckingham, "is another matter."

"Precisely so," said De Wardes, "it is the province of M.
d'Artagnan's friends to defend him."

"I am entirely of your opinion," replied the duke, who had
regained all his indifference of manner; "if M. de
Bragelonne were offended, I could not reasonably be expected
to espouse his quarrel, since he is himself here; but when
you say that it is a quarrel of M. d'Artagnan ---- "

"You will of course leave me to deal with the matter," said
De Wardes.

"Nay, on the contrary, for I draw my sword," said
Buckingham, unsheathing it as he spoke; "for if M.
d'Artagnan injured your father, he rendered, or at least did
all that he could to render, a great service to mine."

De Wardes was thunderstruck.

"M. d'Artagnan," continued Buckingham, "is the bravest
gentleman I know. I shall be delighted, as I owe him many
personal obligations, to settle them with you, by crossing
my sword with yours." At the same moment Buckingham drew his
sword gracefully from its scabbard, saluted Raoul, and put
himself on guard.

De Wardes advanced a step to meet him.

"Stay, gentlemen," said Raoul, advancing towards them, and
placing his own drawn sword between the combatants, "the
affair is hardly worth the trouble of blood being shed
almost in the presence of the princess. M. de Wardes speaks
ill of M. d'Artagnan, with whom he is not even acquainted."

"What, monsieur," said De Wardes, setting his teeth hard
together, and resting the point of his sword on the toe of
his boot, "do you assert that I do not know M. d'Artagnan?"

"Certainly not; you do not know him," replied Raoul, coldly,
"and you are even not aware where he is to he found."

"Not know where he is?"

"Such must be the case, since you fix your quarrel with him
upon strangers, instead of seeking M. d'Artagnan where he is
to be found." De Wardes turned pale. "Well, monsieur,"
continued Raoul, "I will tell you where M. d'Artagnan is: he
is now in Paris; when on duty he is to be met with at the
Louvre, -- when not on duty, in the Rue des Lombards. M.
d'Artagnan can be easily discovered at either of those two
places. Having, therefore, as you assert, so many causes of
complaint against him, show your courage in seeking him out,
and afford him an opportunity of giving you that
satisfaction you seem to ask of every one but of himself."
De Wardes passed his hand across his forehead, which was
covered with perspiration. "For shame, M. de Wardes! so
quarrelsome a disposition is hardly becoming after the
publication of the edicts against duels. Pray think of that;
the king will be incensed at our disobedience, particularly
at such a time, -- and his majesty will be in the right."

"Excuses," murmured De Wardes; "mere pretexts."

"Really, M. De Wardes," resumed Raoul, "such remarks are the
idlest bluster. You know very well that the Duke of
Buckingham is a man of undoubted courage, who has already
fought ten duels, and will probably fight eleven. His name
alone is significant enough. As far as I am concerned, you
are well aware that I can fight also. I fought at Sens, at
Bleneau, at the Dunes in front of the artillery, a hundred
paces in front of the line, while you -- I say this
parenthetically -- were a hundred paces behind it. True it
is, that on that occasion there was far too great a
concourse of persons present for your courage to be
observed, and on that account, perhaps, you did not reveal
it; while here, it would be a display, and would excite
remark -- you wish that others should talk about you, in
what manner you do not care. Do not depend upon me, M. de
Wardes, to assist you in your designs, for I shall certainly
not afford you that pleasure."

"Sensibly observed," said Buckingham, putting up his sword,
"and I ask your forgiveness, M. de Bragelonne, for having
allowed myself to yield to a first impulse."

De Wardes, however, on the contrary, perfectly furious,
bounded forward and raised his sword, threateningly, against
Raoul, who had scarcely time to put himself in a posture of
defense.

"Take care, monsieur," said Bragelonne, tranquilly, "or you
will put out one of my eyes."

"You will not fight, then?" said De Wardes.

"Not at this moment, but this I promise to do; immediately
on our arrival at Paris I will conduct you to M. d'Artagnan,
to whom you shall detail all the causes of complaint you
have against him. M. d'Artagnan will solicit the king's
permission to measure swords with you. The king will yield
his consent, and when you shall have received the
sword-thrust in due course, you will consider, in a calmer
frame of mind, the precepts of the Gospel, which enjoin
forgetfulness of injuries."

"Ah!" exclaimed De Wardes, furious at this imperturbable
coolness, "one can clearly see you are half a bastard, M. de
Bragelonne."

Raoul became as pale as death; his eyes flashed lightning,
causing De Wardes involuntarily to fall back. Buckingham,
also, who had perceived their expression, threw himself
between the two adversaries, whom he had expected to see
precipitate themselves on each other. De Wardes had reserved
this injury for the last; he clasped his sword firmly in his
hand, and awaited the encounter. "You are right, monsieur,"
said Raoul, mastering his emotion, "I am only acquainted
with my father's name, but I know too well that the Comte de
la Fere is too upright and honorable a man to allow me to
fear for a single moment that there is, as you insinuate,
any stain upon my birth. My ignorance, therefore, of my
mother's name is a misfortune for me, and not a reproach.
You are deficient in loyalty of conduct; you are wanting in
courtesy, in reproaching me with misfortune. It matters
little, however, the insult has been given, and I consider
myself insulted accordingly. It is quite understood, then,
that after you shall have received satisfaction from M.
d'Artagnan, you will settle your quarrel with me."

"I admire your prudence, monsieur," replied De Wardes with a
bitter smile; "a little while ago you promised me a
sword-thrust from M. d'Artagnan, and now, after I shall have
received his, you offer me one from yourself."

"Do not disturb yourself," replied Raoul, with concentrated
anger, "in all affairs of that nature, M. d'Artagnan is
exceedingly skillful, and I will beg him as a favor to treat
you as he did your father; in other words, to spare your
life at least, so as to leave me the pleasure, after your
recovery, of killing you outright; for you have the heart of
a viper, M. de Wardes, and in very truth, too many
precautions cannot be taken against you."

"I shall take my precautions against you," said De Wardes,
"be assured of it."

"Allow me, monsieur," said Buckingham, "to translate your
remark by a piece of advice I am about to give M. de
Bragelonne; M. de Bragelonne, wear a cuirass."

De Wardes clenched his hands. "Ah!" said he, "you two
gentlemen intend to wait until you have taken that
precaution before you measure your swords against mine."

"Very well, monsieur," said Raoul, "since you positively
will have it so, let us settle the affair now." And drawing
his sword he advanced towards De Wardes.

"What are you going to do?" said Buckingham.

"Be easy," said Raoul, "it will not be very long."

De Wardes placed himself on his guard; their swords crossed.
De Wardes flew upon Raoul with such impetuosity, that at the
first clashing of the steel blades Buckingham clearly saw
that Raoul was only trifling with his adversary. Buckingham
stepped aside, and watched the combat. Raoul was as calm as
if he were handling a foil, instead of a sword; having
retreated a step, he parried three or four fierce thrusts
which De Wardes made at him, caught the sword of the latter
within his own, and sent it flying twenty paces the other
side of the barrier. Then as De Wardes stood disarmed and
astounded at his defeat Raoul sheathed his sword, seized him
by the collar and the waist-band, and hurled his adversary
to the other end of the barrier, trembling, and mad with
rage.

"We shall meet again," murmured De Wardes, rising from the
ground and picking up his sword.

"I have done nothing for the last hour," said Raoul, "but
say the same thing." Then, turning towards the duke, he
said, "I entreat you to be silent about this affair; I am
ashamed to have gone so far, but my anger carried me away,
and I ask your forgiveness for it; -- forget it, too."

"Dear viscount," said the duke, pressing within his own the
vigorous and valiant hand of his companion, "allow me, on
the contrary, to remember it, and to look after your safety;
that man is dangerous, -- he will kill you."

"My father," replied Raoul, "lived for twenty years under
the menace of a much more formidable enemy, and he still
lives."

"Your father had good friends, viscount."

"Yes," sighed Raoul, "such friends indeed, that none are now
left like them."

"Do not say that, I beg, at the very moment I offer you my
friendship;" and Buckingham opened his arms to embrace
Raoul, who delightedly received the proffered alliance. "In
my family," added Buckingham, "you are aware, M. de
Bragelonne, wee die to save our friends."

"I know it well, duke," replied Raoul.

CHAPTER 88

An Account of what the Chevalier de Lorraine thought of Madame

Nothing further interrupted the journey. Under a pretext
that was little remarked, M. de Wardes went forward in
advance of the others. He took Manicamp with him, for his
equable and dreamy disposition acted as a counterpoise to
his own. It is a subject of remark, that quarrelsome and
restless characters invariably seek the companionship of
gentle, timorous dispositions, as if the former sought, in
the contrast, a repose for their own ill-humor, and the
latter a protection for their weakness. Buckingham and
Bragelonne admitting De Guiche into their friendship, in
concert with him, sang the praises of the princess during
the whole of the journey. Bragelonne had, however, insisted
that their three voices should be in concert, instead of
singing in solo parts, as De Guiche and his rival seemed to
have acquired a dangerous habit of investigation. This style
of harmony pleased the queen-mother exceedingly, but it was
not perhaps so agreeable to the young princess, who was an
incarnation of coquetry, and who, without any fear as far as
her own voice was concerned, sought opportunities of so
perilously distinguishing herself. She possessed one of
those fearless and incautious dispositions that find
gratification in an excess of sensitiveness of feeling, and
for whom, also, danger has a certain fascination. And so her
glances, her smiles, her toilette, an inexhaustible armory
of weapons of offense. were showered on the three young men
with overwhelming force; and, from her well-stored arsenal
issued glances, kindly recognitions, and a thousand other
little charming attentions which were intended to strike at
long range the gentlemen who formed the escort, the
townspeople, the officers of the different cities she passed
through, pages, populace, and servants; it was wholesale
slaughter, a general devastation. By the time Madame arrived
at Paris, she had reduced to slavery about a hundred
thousand lovers: and brought in her train to Paris half a
dozen men who were almost mad about her, and two who were,
indeed, literally out of their minds. Raoul was the only
person who divined the power of this woman's attraction, and
as his heart was already engaged, he arrived in the capital
full of indifference and distrust. Occasionally during the
journey he conversed with the queen of England respecting
the power of fascination which Madame possessed, and the
mother, whom so many misfortunes and deceptions had taught
experience, replied: "Henrietta was sure to be illustrious
in one way or another, whether born in a palace or born in
obscurity; for she is a woman of great imagination,
capricious and self-willed." De Wardes and Manicamp, in
their self-assumed character of courtiers, had announced the
princess's arrival. The procession was met at Nanterre by a
brilliant escort of cavaliers and carriages. It was Monsieur
himself, followed by the Chevalier de Lorraine and by his
favorites, the latter being themselves followed by a portion
of the king's military household, who had arrived to meet
his affianced bride. At St. Germain, the princess and her
mother had changed their heavy traveling carriage, somewhat
impaired by the journey, for a light, richly decorated
chariot drawn by six horses with white and gold harness.
Seated in this open carriage, as though upon a throne, and
beneath a parasol of embroidered silk, fringed with
feathers, sat the young and lovely princess, on whose
beaming face were reflected the softened rose-tints which
suited her delicate skin to perfection. Monsieur, on
reaching the carriage, was struck by her beauty; he showed
his admiration in so marked a manner that the Chevalier de
Lorraine shrugged his shoulders as he listened to his
compliments, while Buckingham and De Guiche were almost
heart-broken. After the usual courtesies had been rendered,
and the ceremony completed, the procession slowly resumed
the road to Paris. The presentations had been carelessly
made, and Buckingham, with the rest of the English
gentlemen, had been introduced to Monsieur, from whom they
had received but very indifferent attention. But, during
their progress, as he observed that the duke devoted himself
with his accustomed earnestness to the carriage-door, he
asked the Chevalier de Lorraine, his inseparable companion,
"Who is that cavalier?"

"He was presented to your highness a short while ago; it is
the handsome Duke of Buckingham."

"Ah, yes, I remember."

"Madame's knight," added the favorite, with an inflection of
the voice which envious minds can alone give to the simplest
phrases.

"What do you say?" replied the prince.

"I said `Madame's knight.'"

"Has she a recognized knight, then?"

"One would think you can judge of that for yourself; look,
only, how they are laughing and flirting. All three of
them."

"What do you mean by all three?"

"Do you not see that De Guiche is one of the party?"

"Yes, I see. But what does that prove?"

"That Madame has two admirers instead of one."

"Thou poison the simplest thing!"

"I poison nothing. Ah! your royal highness's mind is
perverted. The honors of the kingdom of France are being
paid to your wife and you are not satisfied."

The Duke of Orleans dreaded the satirical humor of the
Chevalier de Lorraine whenever it reached a certain degree
of bitterness, and he changed the conversation abruptly.
"The princess is pretty," said he, very negligently, as if
he were speaking of a stranger.

"Yes," replied the chevalier, in the same tone.

"You say `yes' like a `no.' She has very beautiful black
eyes."

"Yes, but small."

"That is so, but they are brilliant. She is tall, and of a
good figure."

"I fancy she stoops a little, my lord?"

"I do not deny it. She has a noble appearance."

"Yes, but her face is thin."

"I thought her teeth beautiful."

"They can easily be seen, for her mouth is large enough.
Decidedly, I was wrong, my lord; you are certainly handsomer
than your wife."

"But do you think me as handsome as Buckingham?"

"Certainly, and he thinks so, too; for look, my lord, he is
redoubling his attentions to Madame to prevent your effacing
the impression he has made."

Monsieur made a movement of impatience, but as he noticed a
smile of triumph pass across the chevalier's lips, he drew
up his horse to a foot-pace. "Why," said he, "should I
occupy myself any longer about my cousin? Do I not already
know her? Were we not brought up together? Did I not see her
at the Louvre when she was quite a child?"

"A great change has taken place in her since then, prince.
At the period you allude to, she was somewhat less
brilliant, and scarcely so proud, either. One evening,
particularly, you may remember, my lord, the king refused to
dance with her, because he thought her plain and badly
dressed!"

These words made the Duke of Orleans frown. It was by no
means flattering for him to marry a princess of whom, when
young, the king had not thought much. He would probably have
retorted, but at this moment De Guiche quitted the carriage
to join the prince. He had remarked the prince and the
chevalier together, and full of anxious attention he seemed
to try and guess the nature of the remarks which they had
just exchanged. The chevalier, whether he had some
treacherous object in view, or from imprudence, did not take
the trouble to dissimulate. "Count," he said, "you're a man
of excellent taste."

"Thank you for the compliment," replied De Guiche; "but why
do you say that?"

"Well, I appeal to his highness."

"No doubt of it," said Monsieur, "and Guiche knows perfectly
well that I regard him as a most finished cavalier."

"Well, since that is decided, I resume. You have been in the
princess's society, count, for the last eight days, have you
not?"

"Yes," replied De Guiche, coloring in spite of himself.

"Well, then, tell us frankly, what do you think of her
personal appearance?"

"Of her personal appearance?" returned De Guiche, stupefied.

"`Yes; of her appearance, of her mind, of herself, in fact."

Astounded by this question, De Guiche hesitated answering.

"Come, come, De Guiche," resumed the chevalier, laughingly,
"tell us your opinion frankly; the prince commands it."

"Yes, yes," said the prince, "be frank."

De Guiche stammered out a few unintelligible words.

"I am perfectly well aware," returned Monsieur, "that the
subject is a delicate one, but you know you can tell me
everything. What do you think of her?"

In order to avoid betraying his real thoughts, De Guiche had
recourse to the only defense which a man taken by surprise
really has, and accordingly told an untruth. "I do not find
Madame," he said, "either good or bad looking, yet rather
good than bad looking."

"What! count," exclaimed the chevalier, "you who went into
such ecstasies and uttered so many exclamations at the sight
of her portrait."

De Guiche colored violently. Very fortunately his horse,
which was slightly restive, enabled him by a sudden plunge
to conceal his agitation. "What portrait!" he murmured,
joining them again. The chevalier had not taken his eyes off
him.

"Yes, the portrait. Was not the miniature a good likeness?"

"I do not remember. I had forgotten the portrait; it quite
escaped my recollection."

"And yet it made a very marked impression upon you," said
the chevalier.

"That is not unlikely."

"Is she witty, at all events?" inquired the duke.

"I believe so, my lord."

"Is M. de Buckingham witty, too?" said the chevalier.

"I do not know."

"My own opinion is, that he must be," replied the chevalier,
"for he makes Madame laugh, and she seems to take no little
pleasure in his society, which never happens to a clever
woman when in the company of a simpleton."

"Of course, then, he must be clever," said De Guiche,
simply.

At this moment Raoul opportunely arrived, seeing how De
Guiche was pressed by his dangerous questioner, to whom he
addressed a remark, and in that way changed the
conversation. The entree was brilliant and joyous.

The king, in honor of his brother, had directed that the
festivities should be on a scale of the greatest possible
magnificence. Madame and her mother alighted at the Louvre,
where, during their exile, they had so gloomily submitted to
obscurity, misery, and privations of every description. That
palace, which had been so inhospitable a residence for the
unhappy daughter of Henry IV., the naked walls, the uneven
floorings, the ceilings matted with cobwebs, the vast
dilapidated chimney-places, the cold hearths on which the
charity extended to them by parliament hardly permitted a
fire to glow, was completely altered in appearance. The
richest hangings and the thickest carpets, glistening
flagstones and pictures, with their richly gilded frames; in
every direction could be seen candelabra, mirrors, and
furniture and fittings of the most sumptuous character; in
every direction, also, were guards of the proudest military
bearing, with floating plumes, crowds of attendants and
courtiers in the ante-chambers and upon the staircases. In
the courtyards, where the grass had formerly been allowed to
luxuriate, as if the ungrateful Mazarin had thought it a
good idea to let the Parisians perceive that solitude and
disorder were, with misery and despair, the fit
accompaniments of fallen monarchy, the immense courtyards,
formerly silent and desolate, were now thronged with
courtiers whose horses were pacing and prancing to and fro.
The carriages were filled with young and beautiful women,
who awaited the opportunity of saluting, as she passed, the
daughter of that daughter of France who, during her
widowhood and exile, had sometimes gone without wood for her
fire, and bread for her table, whom the meanest attendants
at the chateau had treated with indifference and contempt.
And so, Madame Henrietta once more returned to the Louvre,
with her heart more swollen with bitter recollections than
her daughter's, whose disposition was fickle and forgetful,
with triumph and delight. She knew but too well this
brilliant reception was paid to the happy mother of a king
restored to his throne, a throne second to none in Europe,
while the worse than indifferent reception she had before
met with was paid to her, the daughter of Henry IV., as a
punishment for having been unfortunate. After the princesses
had been installed in their apartments and had rested, the
gentlemen who had formed their escort, having, in like
manner, recovered from their fatigue, they resumed their
accustomed habits and occupations. Raoul began by setting
off to see his father, who had left for Blois. He then tried
to see M. d'Artagnan, who, however, being engaged in the
organization of a military household for the king, could not
be found anywhere. Bragelonne next sought out De Guiche, but
the count was occupied in a long conference with his tailors
and with Manicamp, which consumed his whole time. With the
Duke of Buckingham he fared still worse, for the duke was
purchasing horses after horses, diamonds upon diamonds. He
monopolized every embroiderer, jeweler, and tailor that
Paris could boast of. Between De Guiche and himself a
vigorous contest ensued, invariably a courteous one, in
which, in order to insure success, the duke was ready to
spend a million; while the Marechal de Grammont had only
allowed his son sixty thousand francs. So Buckingham laughed
and spent his money. Guiche groaned in despair, and would
have shown it more violently, had it not been for the advice
De Bragelonne gave him.

"A million!" repeated De Guiche daily; "I must submit. Why
will not the marechal advance me a portion of my patrimony?"

"Because you would throw it away," said Raoul.

"What can that matter to him? If I am to die of it, I shall
die of it, and then I shall need nothing further."

"But what need is there to die?" said Raoul.

"I do not wish to be conquered in elegance by an
Englishman."

"My dear count," said Manicamp, "elegance is not a costly
commodity, it is only a very difficult accomplishment."

"Yes, but difficult things cost a good deal of money, and I
have only got sixty thousand francs."

"A very embarrassing state of things, truly," said De
Wardes; "even if you spent as much as Buckingham there is
only nine hundred and forty thousand francs difference."

"Where am I to find them?"

"Get into debt."

"I am in debt already."

"A greater reason for getting further."

Advice like this resulted in De Guiche becoming excited to
such an extent that he committed extravagances where
Buckingham only incurred expenses. The rumor of this
extravagant profuseness delighted the hearts of all the
shopkeepers in Paris, from the hotel of the Duke of
Buckingham to that of the Comte de Grammont nothing but
miracles was attempted. While all this was going on, Madame
was resting herself, and Bragelonne was engaged in writing
to Mademoiselle de la Valliere. He had already dispatched
four letters, and not an answer to any one of them had been
received, when, on the very morning fixed for the marriage
ceremony, which was to take place in the chapel at the
Palais-Royal, Raoul, who was dressing, heard his valet
announce M. de Malicorne. "What can this Malicorne want with
me?" thought Raoul; and then said to his valet, "Let him
wait."

"It is a gentleman from Blois," said the valet.

"Admit him at once," said Raoul, eagerly.

Malicorne entered as brilliant as a star, and wearing a
superb sword at his side. After having saluted Raoul most
gracefully, he said: "M. de Bragelonne, I am the bearer of a
thousand compliments from a lady to you."

Raoul colored. "From a lady," said he, "from a lady of
Blois?"

"Yes, monsieur; from Mademoiselle de Montalais."

"Thank you, monsieur; I recollect you now," said Raoul. "And
what does Mademoiselle de Montalais require of me?"

Malicorne drew four letters from his pocket, which he
offered to Raoul.

"My own letters, is it possible?" he said, turning pale; "my
letters, and the seals unbroken?"

"Monsieur, your letters did not find at Blois the person to
whom they were addressed, and so they are now returned to
you."

"Mademoiselle de la Valliere has left Blois, then?"
exclaimed Raoul.

"Eight days ago."

"Where is she, then?"

"In Paris."

"How was it known that these letters were from me?"

"Mademoiselle de Montalais recognized your handwriting and
your seal," said Malicorne.

Raoul colored and smiled. "Mademoiselle de Montalais is
exceedingly amiable," he said; "she is always kind and
charming."

"Always, monsieur."

"Surely she could give me some precise information about
Mademoiselle de la Valliere. I never could find her in this
immense city."

Malicorne drew another packet from his pocket.

"You may possibly find in this letter what you are anxious
to learn."

Raoul hurriedly broke the seal. The writing was that of
Mademoiselle Aure, and inclosed were these words: -- "Paris,
Palais-Royal. The day of the nuptial blessing."

"What does this mean?" inquired Raoul of Malicorne; "you
probably know."

"I do, monsieur."

"For pity's sake, tell me, then."

"Impossible, monsieur."

"Why so?"

"Because Mademoiselle Aure has forbidden me to do so."

Raoul looked at his strange visitor, and remained silent; --
"At least, tell me whether it is fortunate or unfortunate."

"That you will see."

"You are very severe in your reservations."

"Will you grant me a favor, monsieur?" said Malicorne.

"In exchange for that you refuse me?"

"Precisely."

"What is it?"

"I have the greatest desire to see the ceremony, and I have
no ticket to admit me, in spite of all the steps I have
taken to secure one. Could you get me admitted "

"Certainly."

"Do me this kindness, then, I entreat."

"Most willingly, monsieur; come with me."

"I am exceedingly indebted to you, monsieur," said
Malicorne.

"I thought you were a friend of M. de Manicamp."

"I am, monsieur; but this morning I was with him as he was
dressing, and I let a bottle of blacking fall over his new
dress, and he flew at me sword in hand, so that I was
obliged to make my escape. That is the reason I could not
ask him for a ticket. He wanted to kill me."

"I can well believe it," laughed Raoul. "I know Manicamp is
capable of killing a man who has been unfortunate enough to
commit the crime you have to reproach yourself with, but I
will repair the mischief as far as you are concerned. I will
but fasten my cloak, and shall then be ready to serve you,
not only as a guide, but as your introducer, too."

CHAPTER 89

A Surprise for Madame de Montalais

Madame's marriage was celebrated in the chapel of the
Palais-Royal, in the presence of a crowd of courtiers, who
had been most scrupulously selected. However,
notwithstanding the marked favor which an invitation
indicated, Raoul, faithful to his promise to Malicorne, who
was so anxious to witness the ceremony, obtained admission
for him. After he had fulfilled this engagement, Raoul
approached De Guiche, who, as if in contrast with his
magnificent costume, exhibited a countenance so utterly
dejected, that the Duke of Buckingham was the only one
present who could contend with him as far as pallor and
discomfiture were concerned.

"Take care, count," said Raoul, approaching his friend, and
preparing to support him at the moment the archbishop
blessed the married couple. In fact, the Prince of Conde was
attentively scrutinizing these two images of desolation,
standing like caryatides on either side of the nave of the
church. The count, after that, kept a more careful watch
over himself.

At the termination of the ceremony, the king and queen
passed onward towards the grand reception-room, where Madame
and her suite were to be presented to them. It was remarked
that the king, who had seemed more than surprised at his
sister-in-law's appearance was most flattering in his
compliments to her. Again, it was remarked that the
queen-mother, fixing a long and thoughtful gaze upon
Buckingham, leaned towards Madame de Motteville as though to
ask her, "Do you not see how much he resembles his father?"
and finally it was remarked that Monsieur watched everybody,
and seemed quite discontented. After the reception of the
princess and ambassadors, Monsieur solicited the king's
permission to present to him as well as to Madame the
persons belonging to their new household.

"Are you aware, vicomte," inquired the Prince de Conde of
Raoul, "whether the household has been selected by a person
of taste, and whether there are any faces worth looking at?"

"I have not the slightest idea, monseigneur," replied Raoul.

"You affect ignorance, surely."

"In what way, monseigneur?"

"You are a friend of De Guiche, who is one of the friends of
the prince."

"That may be so, monseigneur; but the matter having no
interest whatever for me, I never questioned De Guiche on
the subject; and De Guiche on his part, never having been
questioned, did not communicate any particulars to me."

"But Manicamp?"

"It is true I saw Manicamp at Havre, and during the journey
here, but I was no more inquisitive with him than I had been
towards De Guiche. Besides, is it likely that Manicamp
should know anything of such matters? for he is a person of
only secondary importance."

"My dear vicomte, do you not know better than that?" said
the prince; "why, it is these persons of secondary
importance who, on such occasions, have all the influence;
and the truth is, that nearly everything has been done
through Manicamp's presentations to De Guiche, and through
De Guiche to Monsieur."

"I assure you, monseigneur, I was ignorant of that," said
Raoul, "and what your highness does me the honor to impart
is perfectly new to me."

"I will most readily believe you, although it seems
incredible; besides, we shall not have long to wait. See,
the flying squadron is advancing, as good Queen Catherine
used to say. Ah! ah! what pretty faces!"

A bevy of young girls at this moment entered the salon,
conducted by Madame de Navailles, and to Manicamp's credit
be it said, if indeed he had taken that part in their
selection which the Prince de Conde assigned him, it was a
display calculated to dazzle those who, like the prince,
could appreciate every character and style of beauty. A
young, fair-complexioned girl, from twenty to one-and-twenty
years of age, and whose large blue eyes flashed, as she
opened them, in the most dazzling manner, walked at the head
of the band and was the first presented.

"Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente," said Madame de Navailles
to Monsieur, who, as he saluted his wife, repeated
"Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente."

"Ah! ah!" said the Prince de Conde to Raoul, "she is
presentable enough."

"Yes," said Raoul, "but has she not a somewhat haughty
style?"

"Bah! we know these airs very well, vicomte; three months
hence she will be tame enough. But look, there, indeed, is a
pretty face."

"Yes," said Raoul, "and one I am acquainted with."

"Mademoiselle Aure de Montalais," said Madame de Navailles.
The name and Christian name were carefully repeated by
Monsieur.

"Great heavens!" exclaimed Raoul, fixing his bewildered gaze
upon the entrance doorway.

"What's the matter?" inquired the prince; "was it
Mademoiselle Aure de Montalais who made you utter such a
`Great heavens'?"

"No, monseigneur, no," replied Raoul, pale and trembling.

"Well, then, if it be not Mademoiselle Aure de Montalais, it
is that pretty blonde who follows her. What beautiful eyes!
She is rather thin, but has fascinations without number."

"Mademoiselle de la Baume le Blanc de la Valliere!" said
Madame de Navailles; and, as this name resounded through his
whole being, a cloud seemed to rise from his breast to his
eyes, so that he neither saw nor heard anything more; and
the prince, finding him nothing more than a mere echo which
remained silent under his railleries, moved forward to
inspect somewhat closer the beautiful girls whom his first
glance had already particularized.

"Louise here! Louise a maid of honor to Madame!" murmured
Raoul, and his eyes, which did not suffice to satisfy his
reason, wandered from Louise to Montalais. The latter had
already emancipated herself from her assumed timidity, which
she only needed for the presentation and for her reverences.

Mademoiselle de Montalais, from the corner of the room to
which she had retired, was looking with no slight confidence
at the different persons present; and, having discovered
Raoul, she amused herself with the profound astonishment
which her own and her friend's presence there caused the
unhappy lover. Her waggish and malicious look, which Raoul
tried to avoid meeting, and which yet he sought inquiringly
from time to time, placed him on the rack. As for Louise,
whether from natural timidity, or some other reason for
which Raoul could not account, she kept her eyes constantly
cast down; intimidated, dazzled, and with impeded
respiration, she withdrew herself as much as possible aside,
unaffected even by the nudges Montalais gave her with her
elbow. The whole scene was a perfect enigma for Raoul, the
key to which he would have given anything to obtain. But no
one was there who could assist him, not even Malicorne; who,
a little uneasy at finding himself in the presence of so
many persons of good birth, and not a little discouraged by
Montalais's bantering glances, had described a circle, and
by degrees succeeded in getting a few paces from the prince,
behind the group of maids of honor, and nearly within reach
of Mademoiselle Aure's voice, she being the planet around
which he, as her attendant satellite, seemed constrained to
gravitate. As he recovered his self-possession, Raoul
fancied he recognized voices on his right hand that were
familiar to him, and he perceived De Wardes, De Guiche, and
the Chevalier de Lorraine, conversing together. It is true
they were talking in tones so low, that the sound of their
words could hardly be heard in the vast apartment. To speak
in that manner from any particular place without bending
down, or turning round, or looking at the person with whom
one may be engaged in conversation, is a talent that cannot
be immediately acquired by newcomers. Long study is needed
for such conversations, which, without a look, gesture, or
movement of the head, seem like the conversation of a group
of statues. In fact, in the king's and queen's grand
assemblies, while their majesties were speaking, and while
every one present seemed to be listening in the midst of the
most profound silence, some of these noiseless conversations
took place, in which adulation was not the prevailing
feature. But Raoul was one among others exceedingly clever
in this art, so much a matter of etiquette, that from the
movement of the lips he was often able to guess the sense of
the words.

"Who is that Montalais?" inquired De Wardes, "and that La
Valliere? What country-town have we had sent here?"

"Montalais?" said the chevalier, -- "oh, I know her; she is
a good sort of a girl, whom we shall find amusing enough. La
Valliere is a charming girl, slightly lame."

"Ah! bah!" said De Wardes.

"Do not be absurd, De Wardes, there are some very
characteristic and ingenious Latin axioms about lame
ladies."

"Gentlemen, gentlemen," said De Guiche, looking at Raoul
with uneasiness, "be a little careful, I entreat you."

But the uneasiness of the count, in appearance at least, was
not needed. Raoul had preserved the firmest and most
indifferent countenance, although he had not lost a word
that passed. He seemed to keep an account of the insolence
and license of the two speakers in order to settle matters
with them at the earliest opportunity.

De Wardes seemed to guess what was passing in his mind, and
continued:

"Who are these young ladies' lovers?"

"Montalais's lover?" said the chevalier.

"Yes, Montalais first."

"You, I, or De Guiche, -- whoever likes, in fact."

"And the other?"

"Mademoiselle de la Valliere?"

"Yes."

"Take care, gentlemen," exclaimed De Guiche, anxious to put
a stop to De Wardes's reply; "take care, Madame is listening
to us."

Raoul thrust his hand up to the wrist into his justaucorps
in great agitation. But the very malignity which he saw was
excited against these poor girls made him take a serious
resolution. "Poor Louise," he thought, "has come here only
with an honorable object in view and under honorable
protection; and I must learn what that object is which she
has in view, and who it is that protects her." And following
Malicorne's maneuver, he made his way toward the group of
the maids of honor. The presentations were soon over. The
king, who had done nothing but look at and admire Madame,
shortly afterwards left the reception-room, accompanied by
the two queens. The Chevalier de Lorraine resumed his place
beside Monsieur, and, as he accompanied him, insinuated a
few drops of the venom he had collected during the last
hour, while looking at some of the faces in the court, and
suspecting that some of their hearts might be happy. A few
of the persons present followed the king as he quitted the
apartment; but such of the courtiers as assumed an
independence of character, and professed a gallantry of
disposition, began to approach the ladies of the court. The
prince paid his compliments to Mademoiselle de
Tonnay-Charente, Buckingham devoted himself to Madame
Chalais and Mademoiselle de Lafayette, whom Madame already
distinguished by her notice, and whom she held in high
regard. As for the Comte de Guiche, who had abandoned
Monsieur as soon as he could approach Madame alone, he
conversed, with great animation, with Madame de Valentinois,
and with Mesdemoiselles de Crequy and de Chatillon.

Amid these varied political and amorous interests, Malicorne
was anxious to gain Montalais's attention; but the latter
preferred talking with Raoul, even if it were only to amuse
herself with his innumerable questions and his astonishment.
Raoul had gone direct to Mademoiselle de la Valliere, and
had saluted her with the profoundest respect, at which
Louise blushed, and could not say a word. Montalais,
however, hurried to her assistance.

"Well, monsieur le vicomte, here we are, you see."

"I do, indeed, see you," said Raoul, smiling, "and it is
exactly because you are here that I wish to ask for some
explanation."

Malicorne approached the group with his most fascinating
smile.

"Go away, Malicorne; really, you are exceedingly
indiscreet." At this remark Malicorne bit his lips and
retired a few steps, without making any reply. His smile,
however, changed its expression, and from its former
frankness, became mocking in its expression.

"You wished for an explanation, M. Raoul?" inquired
Montalais.

"It is surely worth one, I think; Mademoiselle de la
Valliere a maid of honor to Madame!"

"Why should not she be a maid of honor, as well as myself?"
inquired Montalais.

"Pray accept my compliments, young ladies," said Raoul, who
fancied he perceived they were not disposed to answer him in
a direct manner.

"Your remark was not made in a very complimentary manner,
vicomte."

"Mine?"

"Certainly; I appeal to Louise."

"M. de Bragelonne probably thinks the position is above my
condition," said Louise, hesitatingly.

"Assuredly not," replied Raoul, eagerly; "you know very well
that such is not my feeling; were you called upon to occupy
a queen's throne, I should not be surprised; how much
greater reason, then, such a position as this? The only
circumstance that amazes me is that I should have learned it
only to-day, and that by the merest accident."

"That is true," replied Montalais, with her usual giddiness;
"you know nothing about it, and there is no reason you
should. M. de Bragelonne had written several letters to you,
but your mother was the only person who remained behind at
Blois, and it was necessary to prevent these letters falling
into her hands; I intercepted them, and returned them to M.
Raoul, so that he believed you were still at Blois while you
were here in Paris, and had no idea whatever, indeed, how
high you had risen in rank."

"Did you not inform M. Raoul, as I begged you to do?"

"Why should I? to give him an opportunity or making some of
his severe remarks and moral reflections, and to undo what
we had so much trouble in effecting? Certainly not."

"Am I so very severe, then?" said Raoul, inquiringly.

"Besides," said Montalais, "it is sufficient to say that it
suited me. I was about setting off for Paris -- you were
away; Louise was weeping her eyes out; interpret that as you
please; I begged a friend, a protector of mine, who had
obtained the appointment for me, to solicit one for Louise;
the appointment arrived. Louise left in order to get her
costume prepared; as I had my own ready, I remained behind;
I received your letters, and returned them to you, adding a
few words, promising you a surprise. Your surprise is before
you, monsieur, and seems to be a fair one enough; you have
nothing more to ask. Come, M. Malicorne, it is now time to
leave these young people together: they have many things to
talk about; give me your hand; I trust that you appreciate
the honor conferred upon you, M. Malicorne."

"Forgive me," said Raoul, arresting the giddy girl, and
giving to his voice an intonation, the gravity of which
contrasted with that of Montalais; "forgive me, but may I
inquire the name of the protector you speak of; for if
protection be extended towards you, Mademoiselle Montalais,
-- for which, indeed, so many reasons exist," added Raoul,
bowing, "I do not see that the same reasons exist why
Mademoiselle de la Valliere should be similarly cared for."

"But, M. Raoul," said Louise, innocently, "there is no
difference in the matter, and I do not see why I should not
tell it you myself; it was M. Malicorne who obtained it for
me."

Raoul remained for a moment almost stupefied, asking himself
if they were trifling with him; he then turned round to
interrogate Malicorne, but he had been hurried away by
Montalais, and was already at some distance from them.
Mademoiselle de la Valliere attempted to follow her friend,
but Raoul, with gentle authority, detained her.

"Louise, one word, I beg."

"But, M. Raoul," said Louise, blushing, "we are alone. Every
one has left. They will become anxious, and will be looking
for us."

"Fear nothing," said the young man, smiling, "we are neither
of us of sufficient importance for our absence to be
remarked."

"But I have my duty to perform, M. Raoul."

"Do not be alarmed, I am acquainted with these usages of the
court; you will not be on duty until to-morrow; a few
minutes are at your disposal, which will enable you to give
me the information I am about to have the honor to ask you
for."

"How serious you are, M. Raoul!" said Louise.

"Because the circumstances are serious. Are you listening?"

"I am listening; I would only repeat, monsieur, that we are
quite alone."

"You are right," said Raoul, and, offering her his hand, he
led the young girl into the gallery adjoining the
reception-room, the windows of which looked out upon the
courtyard. Every one hurried towards the middle window,
which had a balcony outside, from which all the details of
the slow and formal preparations for departure could be
seen. Raoul opened one of the side windows, and then, being
alone with Louise, said to her: "You know, Louise, that from
my childhood I have regarded you as my sister, as one who
has been the confidante of all my troubles, to whom I have
entrusted all my hopes."

"Yes, M. Raoul," she answered softly; "yes, M. Raoul, I know
that."

"You used, on your side, to show the same friendship towards
me, and had the same confidence in me; why have you not, on
this occasion, been my friend -- why have you shown
suspicion of me?"

Mademoiselle de la Valliere did not answer. "I fondly
thought you loved me," said Raoul, whose voice became more
and more agitated; "I fondly thought you consented to all
the plans we had, together, laid down for our own happiness,
at the time when we wandered up and down the walks of
Cour-Cheverny, under the avenue of poplar trees leading to
Blois. You do not answer me, Louise. Is it possible," he
inquired, breathing with difficulty, "that you no longer
love me?"

"I did not say so," replied Louise, softly.

"Oh! tell me the truth, I implore you. All my hopes in life
are centered in you. I chose you for your gentle and simple
tastes. Do not suffer yourself to be dazzled, Louise, now
that you are in the midst of a court where all that is pure
too soon becomes corrupt -- where all that is young too soon
grows old. Louise, close your ears, so as not to hear what
may be said; shut your eyes, so as not to see the examples
before you; shut your lips, that you may not inhale the
corrupting influences about you. Without falsehood or
subterfuge, Louise, am I to believe what Mademoiselle de
Montalais stated? Louise, did you come to Paris because I
was no longer at Blois?"

La Valliere blushed and concealed her face in her hands.

"Yes, it was so, then!" exclaimed Raoul, delightedly; "that

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