Make your own free website on

List Of Contents | Contents of Ten Years Later, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

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

"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

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."


"Most assuredly.  You commission a messenger, who hires in your name the
whole of the town of Le 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,

"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?"

"You 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

"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

"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."


"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

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: