manner." "Rely upon it, that is quite sufficient; it was, perhaps, even a little too much. These young women easily take offense. To reproach them for an error they have not committed is, sometimes, almost equivalent to telling them they might be guilty of even worse." "Very good, very good; but wait a minute. Do not forget what you have just this moment said, that this morning's lesson ought to have been sufficient, and that if they had been doing what was wrong, they would have hidden themselves." "Yes, I said so." "Well, just now, repenting of my hastiness of the morning, and imagining that Guiche was sulking in his own apartments, I went to pay Madame a visit. Can you guess what, or whom, I found there? Another set of musicians; more dancing, and Guiche himself - he was concealed there." Anne of Austria frowned. "It was imprudent," she said. "What did Madame say?" "Nothing." "And Guiche?" "As much - oh, no! he muttered some impertinent remark or another." "Well, what is your opinion, Philip?" "That I have been made a fool of; that Buckingham was only a pretext, and that Guiche is the one who is really to blame in the matter." Anne shrugged her shoulders. "Well," she said, "what else?" "I wish De Guiche to be dismissed from my household, as Buckingham was, and I shall ask the king, unless - " "Unless what?" "Unless you, my dear mother, who are so clever and so kind, will execute the commission yourself." "I will not do it, Philip." "What, madame?" "Listen, Philip; I am not disposed to pay people ill compliments every day; I have some influence over young people, but I cannot take advantage of it without running the chances of losing it altogether. Besides, there is nothing to prove that M. de Guiche is guilty." "He has displeased me." "That is your own affair." "Very well, I know what I shall do," said the prince, impetuously. Anne looked at him with some uneasiness. "What do you intend to do?" she said. "I will have him drowned in my fish-pond the very next time I find him in my apartments again." Having launched this terrible threat, the prince expected his mother would be frightened out of her senses; but the queen was unmoved. "Do so," she said. Philip was as weak as a woman, and began to cry out, "Every one betrays me, - no one cares for me; my mother, even, joins my enemies." "Your mother, Philip, sees further in the matter than you do, and does not care about advising you, since you will not listen to her." "I will go to the king." "I was about to propose that to you. I am now expecting his majesty; it is the hour he usually pays me a visit; explain the matter to him yourself." She had hardly finished when Philip heard the door of the ante-room open with some noise. He began to feel nervous. At the sound of the king's footsteps, which could be heard upon the carpet, the duke hurriedly made his escape. Anne of Austria could not resist laughing, and was laughing still when the king entered. He came very affectionately to inquire after the even now uncertain health of the queen-mother, and to announce to her that the preparations for the journey to Fontainebleau were complete. Seeing her laugh, his uneasiness on her account diminished, and he addressed her in a vivacious tone himself. Anne of Austria took him by the hand, and, in a voice full of playfulness, said, "Do you know, sire that I am proud of being a Spanish woman?" "Why, madame?" "Because Spanish women are worth more than English women at least." "Explain yourself." "Since your marriage you have not, I believe, had a single reproach to make against the queen." "Certainly not." "And you, too, have been married some time. Your brother, on the contrary, has been married but a fortnight." "Well?" "He is now finding fault with Madame a second time." "What, Buckingham still?" "No, another." "Who?" "Guiche." "Really? Madame is a coquette, then?" "I fear so." "My poor brother," said the king, laughing. "You don't object to coquettes, it seems?" "In Madame, certainly I do; but Madame is not a coquette at heart." "That may be, but your brother is excessively angry about it." "What does he want?" "He wants to drown Guiche." "That is a violent measure to resort to." "Do not laugh; he is extremely irritated. Think of what can be done." "To save Guiche - certainly." "Of, if your brother heard you, he would conspire against you as your uncle did against your father." "No; Philip has too much affection for me for that, and I, on my side, have too great a regard for him; we shall live together on very good terms. But what is the substance of his request?" "That you will prevent Madame from being a coquette and Guiche from being amiable." "Is that all? My brother has an exalted idea of sovereign power. To reform a man, not to speak about reforming a woman!" "How will you set about it?" "With a word to Guiche, who is a clever fellow, I will undertake to convince him." "But Madame?" "That is more difficult; a word will not be enough. I will compose a homily and read it to her." "There is no time to be lost." "Oh, I will use the utmost diligence. There is a repetition of the ballet this afternoon." "You will read her a lecture while you are dancing?" "Yes, madame." "You promise to convert her?" "I will root out the heresy altogether, either by convincing her, or by extreme measures." "That is all right, then. Do not mix me up in the affair; Madame would never forgive me all her life, and as a mother-in-law, I ought to desire to live on good terms with my new-found daughter." "The king, madame, will take all upon himself. But let me reflect." "What about?" "It would be better, perhaps, if I were to go and see Madame in her own apartment." "Would that not seem a somewhat serious step to take?" "Yes; but seriousness is not unbecoming in preachers, and the music of the ballet would drown half my arguments. Besides, the object is to prevent any violent measures on my brother's part, so that a little precipitation may be advisable. Is Madame in her own apartment?" "I believe so." "What is my statement of grievances to consist of?" "In a few words, of the following: music uninterruptedly; Guiche's assiduity; suspicions of treasonable plots and practices." "And the proofs?" "There _are_ none." "Very well; I will go at once to see Madame." The king turned to look in the mirrors at his costume, which was very rich, and his face, which was radiant as the morning. "I suppose my brother is kept a little at a distance," said the king. "Fire and water cannot be more opposite." "That will do. Permit me, madame, to kiss your hands, the most beautiful hands in France." "May you be successful, sire, as the family peacemaker." "I do not employ an ambassador," said Louis, "which is as much as to say that I shall succeed." He laughed as he left the room, and carelessly adjusted his ruffles as he went along. Chapter XXXIII: The Mediator. When the king made his appearance in Madame's apartments, the courtiers, whom the news of a conjugal misunderstanding had dispersed through the various apartments, began to entertain the most serious apprehensions. A storm was brewing in that direction, the elements of which the Chevalier de Lorraine, in the midst of the different groups, was analyzing with delight, contributing to the weaker, and acting, according to his own wicked designs, in such a manner with regard to the stronger, as to produce the most disastrous consequences possible. As Anne of Austria had herself said, the presence of the king gave a solemn and serious character to the event. Indeed, in the year 1662, the dissatisfaction of Monsieur with Madame, and the king's intervention in the private affairs of Monsieur, was a matter of no inconsiderable moment. (3) The boldest, even, who had been the associates of the Comte de Guiche, had, from the first moment, held aloof from him, with a sort of nervous apprehension; and the comte himself, infected by the general panic, retired to his own room. The king entered Madame's private apartments, acknowledging and returning the salutations, as he was always in the habit of doing. The ladies of honor were ranged in a line on his passage along the gallery. Although his majesty was very much preoccupied, he gave the glance of a master at the two rows of young and beautiful girls, who modestly cast down their eyes, blushing as they felt the king's gaze fall upon them. One only of the number, whose long hair fell in silken masses upon the most beautiful skin imaginable, was pale, and could hardly sustain herself, notwithstanding the knocks which her companion gave her with her elbow. It was La Valliere whom Montalais supported in that manner by whispering some of that courage to her with which she herself was so abundantly provided. The king could not resist turning round to look at them again. Their faces, which had already been raised, were again lowered, but the only fair head among them remained motionless, as if all the strength and intelligence she had left had abandoned her. When he entered Madame's room, Louis found his sister-in- law reclining upon the cushions of her cabinet. She rose and made a profound reverence, murmuring some words of thanks for the honor she was receiving. She then resumed her seat, overcome by a sudden weakness, which was no doubt assumed, for a delightful color animated her cheeks, and her eyes, still red from the tears she had recently shed, never had more fire in them. When the king was seated, as soon as he had remarked, with that accuracy of observation which characterized him, the disorder of the apartment, and the no less great disorder of Madame's countenance, he assumed a playful manner, saying, "My dear sister, at what hour to-day would you wish the repetition of the ballet to take place?" Madame, shaking her charming head, slowly and languishingly said: "Ah!
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