"What is it, then? Tell me." "The appointment of a maid of honor." "Oh! oh! Guiche, what a protector you have become of young ladies," said the prince, "you never speak of any one else now." The Chevalier de Lorraine smiled, for he knew very well that nothing displeased the prince more than to show any interest in ladies. "My lord," said the comte, "it is not I who am directly interested in the lady of whom I have just spoken; I am acting on behalf of one of my friends." "Ah! that is different; what is the name of the young lady in whom your friend is so interested?" "Mlle. de la Baume le Blanc de la Valliere; she is already maid of honor to the dowager princess." "Why, she is lame," said the Chevalier de Lorraine, stretching himself on his cushions. "Lame," repeated the prince, "and Madame to have her constantly before her eyes? Most certainly not; it may be dangerous for her when in an interesting condition." The Chevalier de Lorraine burst out laughing. "Chevalier," said Guiche, "your conduct is ungenerous; while I am soliciting a favor, you do me all the mischief you can." "Forgive me, comte," said the Chevalier de Lorraine, somewhat uneasy at the tone in which Guiche had made his remark, "but I had no intention of doing so, and I begin to believe that I have mistaken one young lady for another." "There is no doubt of it, monsieur; and I do not hesitate to declare that such is the case." "Do you attach much importance to it, Guiche?" inquired the prince. "I do, my lord." "Well, you shall have it; but ask me for no more appointments, for there are none to give away." "Ah!" exclaimed the chevalier, "midday already, that is the hour fixed for the departure." "You dismiss me, monsieur?" inquired Guiche. "Really, count, you treat me very ill to-day," replied the chevalier. "For heaven's sake, count, for heaven's sake, chevalier," said Monsieur, "do you not see how you are distressing me?" "Your highness's signature?" said Guiche. "Take a blank appointment from that drawer, and give it to me." Guiche handed the prince the document indicated, and at the same time presented him with a pen already dipped in ink; whereupon the prince signed. "Here," he said, returning him the appointment, "but I give it on one condition." "Name it." "That you make friends with the chevalier." "Willingly," said Guiche. And he held out his hand to the chevalier with an indifference amounting to contempt. "Adieu, count," said the chevalier, without seeming in any way to have noticed the count's slight; "adieu, and bring us back a princess who will not talk with her own portrait too much." "Yes, set off and lose no time. By the by, who will accompany you?" "Bragelonne and De Wardes." "Both excellent and fearless companions." "Too fearless," said the chevalier; "endeavor to bring them both back, count." "A bad heart, bad!" murmured De Guiche; "he scents mischief everywhere, and sooner than anything else." And taking leave of the prince, he quitted the apartment. As soon as he reached the vestibule, he waved in the air the paper which the prince had signed. Malicorne hurried forward, and received it, trembling with delight. When, however, he held in his hand, Guiche observed that he still awaited something further. "Patience, monsieur," he said; "the Chevalier de Lorraine was there, and I feared an utter failure if I asked too much at once. Wait until I return. Adieu." "Adieu, monsieur le comte; a thousand thanks," said Malicorne. "Send Manicamp to me. By the way, monsieur, is it true that Mlle. de la Valliere is lame?" As he said this, he noticed that Bragelonne, who had just at that moment entered the courtyard, turned suddenly pale. The poor lover had heard the remark, which, however, was not the case with Malicorne, for he was already beyond the reach of the count's voice. "Why is Louise's name spoken of here," said Raoul to himself; "oh! let not De Wardes, who stands smiling yonder, even say a word about her in my presence." "Now, gentlemen," exclaimed the Comte de Guiche, "prepare to start." At this moment the prince, who had complete his toilette, appeared at the window, and was immediately saluted by the acclamations of all who composed the escort, and ten minutes afterwards, banners, scarfs, and feathers were fluttering and waving in the air, as the cavalcade galloped away. Chapter VIII: Le Havre. This brilliant and animated company, the members of which were inspired by various feelings, arrived at Le Havre four days after their departure from Paris. It was about five o'clock in the afternoon, and no intelligence had yet been received of Madame. They were soon engaged in quest of apartments; but the greatest confusion immediately ensued among the masters, and violent quarrels among their attendants. In the midst of this disorder, the Comte de Guiche fancied he recognized Manicamp. It was, indeed, Manicamp himself; but as Malicorne had taken possession of his very best costume, he had not been able to get any other than a suit of violet velvet, trimmed with silver. Guiche recognized him as much by his dress as by his features, for he had very frequently seen Manicamp in his violet suit, which was his last resource. Manicamp presented himself to the count under an arch of torches, which set in a blaze, rather than illuminated, the gate by which Le Havre is entered, and which is situated close to the tower of Francis I. The count, remarking the woe-begone expression of Manicamp's face, could not resist laughing. "Well, my poor Manicamp," he exclaimed, "how violet you look; are you in mourning?" "Yes," replied Manicamp; "I am in mourning." "For whom, or for what?" "For my blue-and-gold suit, which has disappeared, and in the place of which I could find nothing but this; and I was even obliged to economize from compulsion, in order to get possession of it." "Indeed?" "It is singular you should be astonished at that, since you leave me without any money." "At all events, here you are, and that is the principal thing." "By the most horrible roads." "Where are you lodging?" "Lodging?" "Yes!" "I am not lodging anywhere." De Guiche began to laugh. "Well," said he, "where do you intend to lodge?" "In the same place you do." "But I don't know, myself." "What do you mean by saying you don't know?" "Certainly, how is it likely I should know where I should stay?" "Have you not retained an hotel?" "I?" "Yes, you or the prince." "Neither of us has thought of it. Le Havre is of considerable size, I suppose; and provided I can get a stable for a dozen horses, and a suitable house in a good quarter - " "Certainly, there are some very excellent houses." "Well then - " "But not for us." "What do you mean by saying not for us? - for whom, then?" "For the English, of course." "For the English?" "Yes; the houses are all taken." "By whom?" "By the Duke of Buckingham." "I beg your pardon?" said Guiche, whose attention this name had awakened. "Yes, by the Duke of Buckingham. His Grace was preceded by a courier, who arrived here three days ago, and immediately retained all the houses fit for habitation the town possesses." "Come, come, Manicamp, let us understand each other." "Well, what I have told you is clear enough, it seems to me." "But surely Buckingham does not occupy the whole of Le Havre?" "He certainly does not occupy it, since he has not yet arrived; but, once disembarked, he will occupy it." "Oh! oh!" "It is quite clear you are not acquainted with the English; they have a perfect rage for monopolizing everything." "That may be; but a man who has the whole of one house, is satisfied with it, and does not require two." "Yes, but two men?" "Be it so; for two men, two houses, or four or six, or ten, if you like; but there are a hundred houses at Le Havre." "Yes, and all the hundred are let." "Impossible!" "What an obstinate fellow you are. I tell you Buckingham has hired all the houses surrounding the one which the queen dowager of England and the princess her daughter will inhabit." "He is singular enough, indeed," said De Wardes, caressing his horse's neck. "Such is the case, however, monsieur." "You are quite sure of it, Monsieur de Manicamp?" and as he put this question, he looked slyly at De Guiche, as though to interrogate him upon the degree of confidence to be placed in his friend's state of mind. During this discussion the night had closed in, and the torches, pages, attendants, squires, horses, and carriages, blocked up the gate and the open place; the torches were reflected in the channel, which the rising tide was gradually filling, while on the other side of the jetty might be noticed groups of curious lookers-on, consisting of sailors and townspeople, who seemed anxious to miss nothing of the spectacle. Amidst all this hesitation of purpose, Bragelonne, as though a perfect stranger to the scene, remained on his horse somewhat in the rear of Guiche, and watched the rays of light reflected on the water, inhaling with rapture the sea breezes, and listening to the waves which noisily broke upon the shore and on the beach, tossing the spray into the air with a noise that echoed in the distance. "But," exclaimed De Guiche, "what is Buckingham's motive for providing such a supply of lodgings?" "Yes, yes," said De Wardes; "what reason has he?" "A very excellent one," replied Manicamp. "You know what it is, then?" "I fancy I do." "Tell us, then." "Bend your head down towards me." "What! may it not be spoken except in private?" "You shall judge of that yourself." "Very well." De Guiche bent down. "Love," said Manicamp. "I do not understand you at all." "Say rather, you cannot understand me yet." "Explain yourself." "Very well; it is quite certain, count, that his royal highness will be the most unfortunate of husbands." "What do you mean?" "The Duke of Buckingham - "
db3nf.com screen-capture.net floresca.net simonova.net flora-source.com flora-source.com sourcecentral.com sourcecentral.com geocities.com