knew what sort of countenance to assume. "Ah!" said the king, throwing himself back in his armchair: "When I think that you have knocked up – how many horses?" "Two!" "Two horses to bring this intelligence to me. That will do, you can leave us now." The courier retired with the valet. Charles went to the window, which he opened, and leaning forward, called out - "Duke! Buckingham! come here, there's a good fellow." The duke hurried to him, in obedience to the summons; but when he reached the door, and perceived Miss Stewart, he hesitated to enter. "Come in, and shut the door," said the king. The duke obeyed; and, perceiving in what an excellent humor the king was, he advanced, smiling, towards him. "Well, my dear duke, how do you get on with your Frenchman?" "Sire, I am in the most perfect state of utter despair about him." "Why so?" "Because charming Miss Grafton is willing to marry him, but he is unwilling." "Why, he is a perfect Boeotian!" cried Miss Stewart. "Let him say either 'Yes,' or No,' and let the affair end." "But," said Buckingham, seriously, "you know, or you ought to know, madame, that M. de Bragelonne is in love in another direction." "In that case," said the king, coming to Miss Stewart's help, "nothing is easier; let him say 'No,' then." "Very true; and I have proved to him he was wrong not to say 'Yes.'" "You told him candidly, I suppose, that La Valliere was deceiving him?" "Yes, without the slightest reserve; and, as soon as I had done so, he gave a start, as if he were going to clear the Channel at a bound." "At all events," said Miss Stewart, "he has done something; and a very good thing too, upon my word." "But," said Buckingham, "I stopped him; I have left him and Miss Mary in conversation together, and I sincerely trust that now he will not leave, as he seemed to have an idea of doing." "An idea of leaving England?" cried the king. "I, at one moment, hardly thought that any human power could have prevented him; but Miss Mary's eyes are now bent fully on him, and he will remain." "Well, that is the very thing which deceives you, Buckingham," said the king, with a peal of laughter; "the poor fellow is predestined." "Predestined to what?" "If it were to be simply deceived, that is nothing; but, to look at him, it is a great deal." "At a distance, and with Miss Grafton's aid, the blow will be warded off." "Far from it, far from it; neither distance nor Miss Grafton's help will be of the slightest avail. Bragelonne will set off for Paris within an hour's time." Buckingham started, and Miss Stewart opened her eyes very wide in astonishment. "But, sire," said the duke, "your majesty knows that it is impossible." "That is to say, my dear Buckingham, that it is impossible until it happens." "Do not forget, sire, that the young man is a perfect lion, and that his wrath is terrible." "I don't deny it, my dear duke." "And that if he sees that his misfortune is certain, so much the worse for the author of it." "I don't deny it; but what the deuce am I to do?" "Were it the king himself," cried Buckingham, "I would not answer for him." "Oh, the king has his musketeers to take care of him," said Charles, quietly; "I know that perfectly well, for I was kept dancing attendance in his ante-chamber at Blois. He has M. d'Artagnan, and what better guardian could the king have than M. d'Artagnan? I should make myself perfectly easy with twenty storms of passion, such as Bragelonne might display, if I had four guardians like D'Artagnan." "But I entreat your majesty, who is so good and kind, to reflect a little." "Stay," said Charles II., presenting the letter to the duke, "read, and answer yourself what you would do in my place." Buckingham slowly took hold of Madame's letter, and trembling with emotion, read the following words: "For your own sake, for mine, for the honor and safety of every one, send M. de Bragelonne back to France immediately. Your devoted sister, HENRIETTA." "Well, Villiers, what do you say?" "Really, sire, I have nothing to say," replied the duke, stupefied. "Nay, would you, of all persons," said the king, artfully, "advise me not to listen to my sister when she writes so urgently?" "Oh, no, no, sire; and yet - " "You have not read the postscript, Villiers; it is under the fold of the letter, and escaped me at first; read it." And as the duke turned down a fold of the letter, he read: "A thousand kind remembrances to those who love me." The duke's head sank gradually on his breast; the paper trembled in his fingers, as if it had been changed to lead. The king paused for a moment, and, seeing that Buckingham did not speak, "He must follow his destiny, as we ours," continued the king; "every man has his own share of grief in this world; I have had my own, - I have had that of others who belong to me, - and have thus had a double weight of woe to endure! - But the deuce take all my cares now! Go, and bring our friend here, Villiers." The duke opened the trellised door of the summer-house, and pointing at Raoul and Mary, who were walking together side by side, said, "What a cruel blow, sire, for poor Miss Grafton!" "Nonsense; call him," said Charles II., knitting his black brows together; "every one seems to be sentimental here. There, look at Miss Stewart, who is wiping her eyes, - now deuce take the French fellow!" The duke called to Raoul, and taking Miss Grafton by the hand, he led her towards the king. "Monsieur de Bragelonne," said Charles II., "did you not ask me the day before yesterday for permission to return to Paris?" "Yes, sire," replied Raoul, greatly puzzled by this address. "And I refused you, I think?" "Yes, sire." "For which you were angry with me?" "No, sire; your majesty had no doubt excellent reasons for withholding it; for you are so wise and so good that everything you do is well done." "I alleged, I believe, as a reason, that the king of France had not recalled you?" "Yes, sire, that was the reason you assigned." "Well, M. de Bragelonne, I have reflected over the matter since; if the king did not, in fact, fix your return, he begged me to render your sojourn in England as agreeable as possible; since, however, you ask my permission to return, it is because your longer residence in England is no longer agreeable to you." "I do not say that, sire." "No, but your request, at least," said the king, "signified that another place of residence would be more agreeable to you than this." At this moment Raoul turned towards the door, against which Miss Grafton was leaning, pale and sorrow-stricken; her other hand was passed through the duke's arm. "You do not reply," pursued Charles; "the proverb is plain enough, that 'silence gives consent.' Very good, Monsieur de Bragelonne; I am now in a position to satisfy you; whenever you please, therefore, you can leave for Paris, for which you have my authority." "Sire!" exclaimed Raoul, while Mary stifled an exclamation of grief which rose to her lips, unconsciously pressing Buckingham's arm. "You can be at Dover this evening," continued the king, "the tide serves at two o'clock in the morning." Raoul, astounded, stammered out a few broken sentences, which equally answered the purpose both of thanks and of excuse. "I therefore bid you adieu, Monsieur de Bragelonne, and wish you every sort of prosperity," said the king, rising; "you will confer a pleasure on me by keeping this diamond in remembrance of me; I had intended it as a marriage gift." Miss Grafton felt her limbs almost giving way; and, as Raoul received the ring from the king's hand, he, too, felt his strength and courage failing him. He addressed a few respectful words to the king, a passing compliment to Miss Stewart, and looked for Buckingham to bid him adieu. The king profited by this moment to disappear. Raoul found the duke engaged in endeavoring to encourage Miss Grafton. "Tell him to remain, I implore you!" said Buckingham to Mary. "No, I will tell him to go," replied Miss Grafton, with returning animation; "I am not one of those women who have more pride than heart; if she whom he loves is in France, let him return thither and bless me for having advised him to go and seek his happiness there. If, on the contrary, she shall have ceased to love him, let him come back here again; I shall still love him, and his unhappiness will not have lessened him in my regard. In the arms of my house you will find that which Heaven has engraven on my heart - _Habenti parum, egenti cuncta_. 'To the rich is accorded little, to the poor everything.'" "I do not believe, Bragelonne, that you will find yonder the equivalent of what you leave behind you here." "I think, or at least hope," said Raoul, with a gloomy air, "that she whom I love is worthy of my affection; but if it be true she is unworthy of me, as you have endeavored to make me believe, I will tear her image from my heart, duke, even if my heart breaks in the attempt." Mary Grafton gazed upon him with an expression of the most indefinable pity, and Raoul returned her look with a sweet, sorrowful smile, saying, "Mademoiselle, the diamond which the king has given me was destined for you, - give me leave to offer it for your acceptance: if I marry in France, you will send it me back; if I do not marry, keep it." And he bowed and left her. "What does he mean?" thought Buckingham, while Raoul pressed Mary's icy hand with marks of the most reverential respect. Mary understood the look that Buckingham fixed upon her. "If it were a wedding-ring, I would not accept it," she said. "And yet you were willing to ask him to return to you." "Oh! duke," cried the young girl in heart-broken accents, "a woman such as I am is never accepted as a consolation by a man like him." "You do not think he will return, then?" "Never," said Miss Grafton, in a choking voice. "And I grieve to tell you, Mary, that he will find yonder his happiness destroyed, his mistress lost to him. His honor even has not escaped.
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