Make your own free website on Tripod.com

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

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 with 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, rising from the
ground, "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 with 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, we die to save our friends."

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


Chapter XIII:
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 doing.  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 eagerness 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."

"You 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."

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >



Other sites:

db3nf.com screen-capture.net floresca.net simonova.net flora-source.com flora-source.com sourcecentral.com sourcecentral.com geocities.com