List Of Contents | Contents of The Vicomte de Bragelonne, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

"Ah! but my sister must know you; she must in case of need have you to
depend upon."

"Sire, every one that is dear to your majesty will be sacred to me."

"Very well! - Parry!  Come here, Parry!"

The side door opened and Parry entered, his face beaming with pleasure as
soon as he saw D'Artagnan.

"What is Rochester doing?" said the king.

"He is on the canal with the ladies," replied Parry.

"And Buckingham?"

"He is there also."

"That is well.  You will conduct the chevalier to Villiers; that is the
Duke of Buckingham, chevalier; and beg the duke to introduce M.
d'Artagnan to the Princess Henrietta."

Parry bowed and smiled to D'Artagnan.

"Chevalier," continued the king, "this is your parting audience; you can
afterwards set out as soon as you please."

"Sire, I thank you."

"But be sure you make your peace with Monk!"

"Oh, sire - "

"You know there is one of my vessels at your disposal?"

"Sire, you overpower me; I cannot think of putting your majesty's
officers to inconvenience on my account."

The king slapped D'Artagnan upon the shoulder.

"Nobody will be inconvenienced on your account, chevalier, but for that
of an ambassador I am about sending to France, and to whom you will
willingly serve as a companion, I fancy, for you know him."

D'Artagnan appeared astonished.

"He is a certain Comte de la Fere, - whom you call Athos," added the
king; terminating the conversation, as he had begun it, by a joyous burst
of laughter.  "Adieu, chevalier, adieu.  Love me as I love you."  And
thereupon, making a sign to Parry to ask if there were any one waiting
for him in the adjoining closet, the king disappeared into that closet,
leaving the chevalier perfectly astonished by this singular audience.
The old man took his arm in a friendly way, and led him towards the

Chapter XXXV:
On the Canal.

Upon the green waters of the canal bordered with marble, upon which time
had already scattered black spots and tufts of mossy grass, there glided
majestically a long, flat bark adorned with the arms of England,
surmounted by a dais, and carpeted with long damasked stuffs, which
trailed their fringes in the water.  Eight rowers, leaning lazily to
their oars, made it move upon the canal with the graceful slowness of the
swans, which, disturbed in their ancient possessions by the approach of
the bark, looked from a distance at this splendid and noisy pageant.  We
say noisy - for the bark contained four guitar and lute players, two
singers, and several courtiers, all sparkling with gold and precious
stones, and showing their white teeth in emulation of each other, to
please the Lady Henrietta Stuart, grand-daughter of Henry IV., daughter
of Charles I., and sister of Charles II., who occupied the seat of honor
under the dais of the bark.  We know this young princess, we have seen
her at the Louvre with her mother, wanting wood, wanting bread, and fed
by the _coadjuteur_ and the parliament.  She had, therefore, like her
brothers, passed through an uneasy youth; then, all at once, she had just
awakened from a long and horrible dream, seated on the steps of a throne,
surrounded by courtiers and flatterers.  Like Mary Stuart on leaving
prison, she aspired not only to life and liberty, but to power and wealth.

The Lady Henrietta, in growing, had attained remarkable beauty, which the
recent restoration had rendered celebrated.  Misfortune had taken from
her the luster of pride, but prosperity had restored it to her.  She was
resplendent, then, in her joy and her happiness, - like those hot-house
flowers which, forgotten during a frosty autumn night, have hung their
heads, but which on the morrow, warmed once more by the atmosphere in
which they were born, rise again with greater splendor than ever.
Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, son of him who played so conspicuous a part
in the early chapters of this history, - Villiers of Buckingham, a
handsome cavalier, melancholy with women, a jester with men, - and
Wilmot, Lord Rochester, a jester with both sexes, were standing at this
moment before the Lady Henrietta, disputing the privilege of making her
smile.  As to that young and beautiful princess, reclining upon a cushion
of velvet bordered with gold, her hands hanging listlessly so as to dip
in the water, she listened carelessly to the musicians without hearing
them, and heard the two courtiers without appearing to listen to them.

This Lady Henrietta - this charming creature - this woman who joined the
graces of France to the beauties of England, not having yet loved, was
cruel in her coquetry.  The smile, then, - that innocent favor of young
girls, - did not even lighten her countenance; and if, at times, she did
raise her eyes, it was to fasten them upon one or other of the cavaliers
with such a fixity, that their gallantry, bold as it generally was, took
the alarm, and became timid.

In the meanwhile the boat continued its course, the musicians made a
great noise, and the courtiers began, like them, to be out of breath.
Besides, the excursion became doubtless monotonous to the princess, for
all at once, shaking her head with an air of impatience, - "Come
gentlemen, - enough of this; - let us land."

"Ah, madam," said Buckingham, "we are very unfortunate!  We have not
succeeded in making the excursion agreeable to your royal highness."

"My mother expects me," replied the princess; "and I must frankly admit,
gentlemen, I am bored."  And whilst uttering this cruel word, Henrietta
endeavored to console by a look each of the two young men, who appeared
terrified at such frankness.  The look produced its effect - the two
faces brightened; but immediately, as if the royal coquette thought she
had done too much for simple mortals, she made a movement, turned her
back on both her adorers, and appeared plunged in a reverie in which it
was evident they had no part.

Buckingham bit his lips with anger, for he was truly in love with the
Lady Henrietta, and, in that case, took everything in a serious light.
Rochester bit his lips likewise; but his wit always dominated over his
heart, it was purely and simply to repress a malicious smile.  The
princess was then allowing the eyes she turned from the young nobles to
wander over the green and flowery turf of the park, when she perceived
Parry and D'Artagnan at a distance.

"Who is coming yonder?" said she.

The two young men turned round with the rapidity of lightning.

"Parry," replied Buckingham; "nobody but Parry."

"I beg your pardon," said Rochester, "but I think he has a companion."

"Yes," said the princess, at first with languor, but then, - "What mean
those words, 'Nobody but Parry;' say, my lord?"

"Because, madam," replied Buckingham, piqued, "because the faithful
Parry, the wandering Parry, the eternal Parry, is not, I believe, of much

"You are mistaken, duke.  Parry - the wandering Parry, as you call him 
has always wandered in the service of my family, and the sight of that
old man always gives me satisfaction."

The Lady Henrietta followed the usual progress of pretty women,
particularly coquettish women; she passed from caprice to
contradiction; - the gallant had undergone the caprice, the courtier must
bend beneath the contradictory humor.  Buckingham bowed, but made no

"It is true, madam," said Rochester, bowing in his turn, "that Parry is
the model of servants; but, madam, he is no longer young, and we laugh
only when we see cheerful objects.  Is an old man a gay object?"

"Enough, my lord," said the princess, coolly; "the subject of
conversation is unpleasant to me."

Then, as if speaking to herself, "It is really unaccountable," said she,
"how little regard my brother's friends have for his servants."

"Ah, madam," cried Buckingham, "your royal highness pierces my heart with
a dagger forged by your own hands."

"What is the meaning of that speech, which is turned so like a French
madrigal, duke?  I do not understand it."

"It means, madam, that you yourself, so good, so charming, so sensible,
you have laughed sometimes - smiled, I should say - at the idle prattle
of that good Parry, for whom your royal highness to-day entertains such a
marvelous susceptibility."

"Well, my lord, if I have forgotten myself so far," said Henrietta, "you
do wrong to remind me of it."  And she made a sign of impatience.  "The
good Parry wants to speak to me, I believe: please order them to row to
the shore, my Lord Rochester."

Rochester hastened to repeat the princess's command; and a moment later
the boat touched the bank.

"Let us land, gentlemen," said Henrietta, taking the arm which Rochester
offered her, although Buckingham was nearer to her, and had presented
his.  Then Rochester, with an ill-dissembled pride, which pierced the
heart of the unhappy Buckingham through and through, led the princess
across the little bridge which the rowers had cast from the royal boat to
the shore.

"Which way will your highness go?" asked Rochester.

"You see, my lord, towards that good Parry, who is wandering, as my lord
of Buckingham says, and seeking me with eyes weakened by the tears he has
shed over our misfortunes."

"Good heavens!" said Rochester, "how sad your royal highness is to-day;
in truth we seem ridiculous fools to you, madam."

"Speak for yourself, my lord," interrupted Buckingham with vexation; "for
my part, I displease her royal highness to such a degree, that I appear
absolutely nothing to her."

Neither Rochester nor the princess made any reply; Henrietta only urged
her companion more quickly on.  Buckingham remained behind, and took
advantage of this isolation to give himself up to his anger; he bit his
handkerchief so furiously that it was soon in shreds.

"Parry, my good Parry," said the princess, with her gentle voice, "come
hither.  I see you are seeking me, and I am waiting for you."

"Ah, madam," said Rochester, coming charitably to the help of his
companion, who had remained, as we have said, behind, "if Parry cannot
see your royal highness, the man who follows him is a sufficient guide,

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: