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Ten Years Later

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Chapter VII. The Portrait of Madame.


The discussion was becoming full of bitterness. De Guiche perfectly understood the whole matter, for there was in Bragelonne’s face a look instinctively hostile, while in that of De Wardes there was something like a determination to offend. Without inquiring into the different feelings which actuated his two friends, De Guiche resolved to ward off the blow which he felt was on the point of being dealt by one of them, and perhaps by both. “Gentlemen,” he said, “we must take our leave of each other, I must pay a visit to Monsieur. You, De Wardes, will accompany me to the Louvre, and you, Raoul, will remain here master of the house; and as all that is done here is under your advice, you will bestow the last glance upon my preparations for departure.”

Raoul, with the air of one who neither seeks nor fears a quarrel, bowed his head in token of assent, and seated himself upon a bench in the sun. “That is well,” said De Guiche, “remain where you are, Raoul, and tell them to show you the two horses I have just purchased; you will give me your opinion, for I only bought them on condition that you ratified the purchase. By the by, I have to beg your pardon for having omitted to inquire after the Comte de la Fere.” While pronouncing these latter words, he closely observed De Wardes, in order to perceive what effect the name of Raoul’s father would produce upon him. “I thank you,” answered the young man, “the count is very well.” A gleam of deep hatred passed into De Wardes’s eyes. De Guiche, who appeared not to notice the foreboding expression, went up to Raoul, and grasping him by the hand, said,—“It is agreed, then, Bragelonne, is it not, that you will rejoin us in the courtyard of the Palais Royal?” He then signed to De Wardes to follow him, who had been engaged in balancing himself first on one foot, then on the other. “We are going,” said he, “come, M. Malicorne.” This name made Raoul start; for it seemed that he had already heard it pronounced before, but he could not remember on what occasion. While trying to recall it half-dreamily, yet half-irritated at his conversation with De Wardes, the three young men set out on their way towards the Palais Royal, where Monsieur was residing. Malicorne learned two things; the first, that the young men had something to say to each other; and the second, that he ought not to walk in the same line with them; and therefore he walked behind. “Are you mad?” said De Guiche to his companion, as soon as they had left the Hotel de Grammont; “you attack M. d’Artagnan, and that, too, before Raoul.”

“Well,” said De Wardes, “what then?”

“What do you mean by ‘what then?’”

“Certainly, is there any prohibition against attacking M. d’Artagnan?”

“But you know very well that M. d’Artagnan was one of those celebrated and terrible four men who were called the musketeers.”

“That they may be; but I do not perceive why, on that account, I should be forbidden to hate M. d’Artagnan.”

“What cause has he given you?”

“Me! personally, none.”

“Why hate him, therefore?”

“Ask my dead father that question.”

“Really, my dear De Wardes, you surprise me. M. d’Artagnan is not one to leave unsettled any enmity he may have to arrange, without completely clearing his account. Your father, I have heard, carried matters with a high hand. Moreover, there are no enmities so bitter that they cannot be washed away by blood, by a good sword-thrust loyally given.”

“Listen to me, my dear De Guiche, this inveterate dislike existed between my father and M. d’Artagnan, and when I was quite a child, he acquainted me with the reason for it, and, as forming part of my inheritance, I regard it as a particular legacy bestowed upon me.”

“And does this hatred concern M. d’Artagnan alone?”

“As for that, M. d’Artagnan was so intimately associated with his three friends, that some portion of the full measure of my hatred falls to their lot, and that hatred is of such a nature, whenever the opportunity occurs, they shall have no occasion to complain of their allowance.”

De Guiche had kept his eyes fixed on De Wardes, and shuddered at the bitter manner in which the young man smiled. Something like a presentiment flashed across his mind; he knew that the time had passed away for grands coups entre gentilshommes; but that the feeling of hatred treasured up in the mind, instead of being diffused abroad, was still hatred all the same; that a smile was sometimes as full of meaning as a threat; and, in a word, that to the fathers who had hated with their hearts and fought with their arms, would now succeed the sons, who would indeed hate with their hearts, but would no longer combat their enemies save by means of intrigue or treachery. As, therefore, it certainly was not Raoul whom he could suspect either of intrigue or treachery, it was on Raoul’s account that De Guiche trembled. However, while these gloomy forebodings cast a shade of anxiety over De Guiche’s countenance, De Wardes had resumed the entire mastery over himself.

“At all events,” he observed, “I have no personal ill-will towards M. de Bragelonne; I do not know him even.”

“In any case,” said De Guiche, with a certain amount of severity in his tone of voice, “do not forget one circumstance, that Raoul is my most intimate friend;” a remark at which De Wardes bowed.

The conversation terminated there, although De Guiche tried his utmost to draw out his secret from him; but, doubtless, De Wardes had determined to say nothing further, and he remained impenetrable. De Guiche therefore promised himself a more satisfactory result with Raoul. In the meantime they had reached the Palais Royal, which was surrounded by a crowd of lookers-on. The household belonging to Monsieur awaited his command to mount their horses, in order to form part of the escort of the ambassadors, to whom had been intrusted the care of bringing the young princess to Paris. The brilliant display of horses, arms, and rich liveries, afforded some compensation in those times, thanks to the kindly feelings of the people, and to the traditions of deep devotion to their sovereigns, for the enormous expenses charged upon the taxes. Mazarin had said: “Let them sing, provided they pay;” while Louis XIV.‘s remark was, “Let them look.” Sight had replaced the voice; the people could still look but they were no longer allowed to sing. De Guiche left De Wardes and Malicorne at the bottom of the grand staircase, while he himself, who shared the favor and good graces of Monsieur with the Chevalier de Lorraine, who always smiled at him most affectionately, though he could not endure him, went straight to the prince’s apartments, whom he found engaged in admiring himself in the glass, and rouging his face. In a corner of the cabinet, the Chevalier de Lorraine was extended full length upon some cushions, having just had his long hair curled, with which he was playing in the same manner a woman would have done. The prince turned round as the count entered, and perceiving who it was, said: “Ah! is that you, De Guiche; come here and tell me the truth.”

“You know, my lord, it is one of my defects to speak the truth.”

“You will hardly believe, De Guiche, how that wicked chevalier has annoyed me.”

The chevalier shrugged his shoulders.

“Why, he pretends,” continued the prince, “that Mademoiselle Henrietta is better looking as a woman than I am as a man.”

“Do not forget, my lord,” said De Guiche, frowning slightly, “you require me to speak the truth.”

“Certainly,” said the prince, tremblingly.

“Well, and I shall tell it you.”

“Do not be in a hurry, Guiche,” exclaimed the prince, “you have plenty of time; look at me attentively, and try to recollect Madame. Besides, her portrait is here. Look at it.” And he held out to him a miniature of the finest possible execution. De Guiche took it, and looked at it for a long time attentively.

“Upon my honor, my lord, this is indeed a most lovely face.”

“But look at me, count, look at me,” said the prince, endeavoring to direct upon himself the attention of the count, who was completely absorbed in contemplation of the portrait.

“It is wonderful,” murmured Guiche.

“Really one would imagine you had never seen the young lady before.”

“It is true, my lord, I have seen her but it was five years ago; there is a great difference between a child twelve years old, and a girl of seventeen.”

“Well, what is your opinion?”

“My opinion is that the portrait must be flattering, my lord.”

“Of that,” said the prince triumphantly, “there can be no doubt; but let us suppose that it is not, what would your opinion be?”

“My lord, that your highness is exceedingly happy to have so charming a bride.”

The Chevalier de Lorraine burst out laughing. The prince understood how severe towards himself this opinion of the Comte de Guiche was, and he looked somewhat displeased, saying, “My friends are not over indulgent.” De Guiche looked at the portrait again, and, after lengthened contemplation, returned it with apparent unwillingness, saying, “Most decidedly, my lord, I should rather prefer to look ten times at your highness, than to look at Madame once again.” It seemed as if the chevalier had detected some mystery in these words, which were incomprehensible to the prince, for he exclaimed: “Very well, get married yourself.” Monsieur continued painting himself, and when he had finished, looked at the portrait again once more, turned to admire himself in the glass, and smiled, and no doubt was satisfied with the comparison. “You are very kind to have come,” he said to Guiche, “I feared you would leave without bidding me adieu.”

“Your highness knows me too well to believe me capable of so great a disrespect.”

“Besides, I suppose you have something to ask from me before leaving Paris?”

“Your highness has indeed guessed correctly, for I have a request to make.”

“Very good, what is it?”

The Chevalier de Lorraine immediately displayed the greatest attention, for he regarded every favor conferred upon another as a robbery committed against himself. And, as Guiche hesitated, the prince said: “If it be money, nothing could be more fortunate, for I am in funds; the superintendent of the finances has sent me 500,000 pistoles.”

“I thank your highness; but is not an affair of money.”

“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—”

“It is a name of ill omen to the princes of the house of France.”

“And so the duke is madly in love with Madame, so the rumor runs, and will have no one approach her but himself.”

De Guiche colored. “Thank you, thank you,” said he to Manicamp, grasping his hand. Then, recovering himself, added, “Whatever you do, Manicamp, be careful that this project of Buckingham’s is not made known to any Frenchman here; for, if so, many a sword would be unsheathed in this country that does not fear English steel.”

“But after all,” said Manicamp, “I have had no satisfactory proof given me of the love in question, and it may be no more than an idle tale.”

“No, no,” said De Guiche, “it must be the truth;” and despite his command over himself, he clenched his teeth.

“Well,” said Manicamp, “after all, what does it matter to you? What does it matter to me whether the prince is to be what the late king was? Buckingham the father for the queen, Buckingham the son for the princess.”

“Manicamp! Manicamp!”

“It is a fact, or at least, everybody says so.”

“Silence!” cried the count.

“But why, silence?” said De Wardes; “it is a highly creditable circumstance for the French nation. Are not you of my opinion, Monsieur de Bragelonne?”

“To what circumstance do you allude?” inquired De Bragelonne with an abstracted air.

“That the English should render homage to the beauty of our queens and our princesses.”

“Forgive me, but I have not been paying attention to what has passed; will you oblige me by explaining.”

“There is no doubt it was necessary that Buckingham the father should come to Paris in order that his majesty, King Louis XIII., should perceive that his wife was one of the most beautiful women of the French court; and it seems necessary, at the present time, that Buckingham the son should consecrate, by the devotion of his worship, the beauty of a princess who has French blood in her veins. The fact of having inspired a passion on the other side of the Channel will henceforth confer a title to beauty on this.”

“Sir,” replied De Bragelonne, “I do not like to hear such matters treated so lightly. Gentlemen like ourselves should be careful guardians of the honor of our queens and our princesses. If we jest at them, what will our servants do?”

“How am I to understand that?” said De Wardes, whose ears tingled at the remark.

“In any way you chose, monsieur,” replied De Bragelonne, coldly.

“Bragelonne, Bragelonne,” murmured De Guiche.

“M. de Wardes,” exclaimed Manicamp, noticing that the young man had spurred his horse close to the side of Raoul.

“Gentlemen, gentlemen,” said De Guiche, “do not set such an example in public, in the street too. De Wardes, you are wrong.”

“Wrong; in what way, may I ask you?”

“You are wrong, monsieur, because you are always speaking ill of someone or something,” replied Raoul, with undisturbed composure.

“Be indulgent, Raoul,” said De Guiche, in an undertone.

“Pray do not think of fighting, gentlemen!” said Manicamp, “before you have rested yourselves; for in that case you will not be able to do much.”

“Come,” said De Guiche, “forward, gentlemen!” and breaking through the horses and attendants, he cleared the way for himself towards the center of the square, through the crowd, followed by the whole cavalcade. A large gateway looking out upon a courtyard was open; Guiche entered the courtyard, and Bragelonne, De Wardes, Manicamp, and three or four other gentlemen, followed him. A sort of council of war was held, and the means to be employed for saving the dignity of the embassy were deliberated upon. Bragelonne was of the opinion that the right of priority should be respected, while De Wardes suggested that the town should be sacked. This latter proposition appearing to Manicamp rather premature, he proposed instead that they should first rest themselves. This was the wisest thing to do, but, unhappily, to follow his advice, two things were wanting; namely, a house and beds. De Guiche reflected for awhile, and then said aloud, “Let him who loves me, follow me!”

“The attendants also?” inquired a page who had approached the group.

“Every one,” exclaimed the impetuous young man. “Manicamp, show us the way to the house destined for her royal highness’s residence.”

Without in any way divining the count’s project, his friends followed him, accompanied by a crowd of people, whose acclamations and delight seemed a happy omen for the success of that project with which they were yet unacquainted. The wind was blowing strongly from the harbor, and moaning in fitful gusts.






Chapter IX. At Sea.


The following day was somewhat calmer, although the gale still continued. The sun had, however, risen through a bank of orange clouds, tingeing with its cheerful rays the crests of the black waves. Watch was impatiently kept from the different look-outs. Towards eleven o’clock in the morning a ship, with sails full set, was signalled as in view; two others followed at the distance of about half a knot. They approached like arrows shot from the bow of a skillful archer; and yet the sea ran so high that their speed was as nothing compared to the rolling of the billows in which the vessels were plunging first in one direction and then in another. The English fleet was soon recognized by the line of the ships, and by the color of their pennants; the one which had the princess on board and carried the admiral’s flag preceded the others.

The rumor now spread that the princess was arriving. The whole French court ran to the harbor, while the quays and jetties were soon covered by crowds of people. Two hours afterwards, the other vessels had overtaken the flagship, and the three, not venturing perhaps to enter the narrow entrance of the harbor, cast anchor between Le Havre and La Heve. When the maneuver had been completed, the vessel which bore the admiral saluted France by twelve discharges of cannon, which were returned, discharge for discharge, from Fort Francis I. Immediately afterwards a hundred boats were launched; they were covered with the richest stuffs, and destined for the conveyance of the different members of the French nobility towards the vessels at anchor. But when it was observed that even inside the harbor the boats were tossed to and fro, and that beyond the jetty the waves rose mountains high, dashing upon the shore with a terrible uproar, it was readily believed that not one of those frail boats would be able with safety to reach a fourth part of the distance between the shore and the vessels at anchor. A pilot-boat, however, notwithstanding the wind and the sea, was getting ready to leave the harbor, for the purpose of placing itself at the admiral’s disposal.

De Guiche, who had been looking among the different boats for one stronger than the others, which might offer a chance of reaching the English vessels, perceiving the pilot-boat getting ready to start, said to Raoul: “Do you not think, Raoul, that intelligent and vigorous men, as we are, ought to be ashamed to retreat before the brute strength of wind and waves?”

“That is precisely the very reflection I was silently making to myself,” replied Bragelonne.

“Shall we get into that boat, then, and push off? Will you come, De Wardes?”

“Take care, or you will get drowned,” said Manicamp.

“And for no purpose,” said De Wardes, “for with the wind in your teeth, as it will be, you will never reach the vessels.”

“You refuse, then?”

“Assuredly I do; I would willingly risk and lose my life in an encounter against men,” he said, glancing at Bragelonne, “but as to fighting with oars against waves, I have no taste for that.”

“And for myself,” said Manicamp, “even were I to succeed in reaching the ships, I should not be indifferent to the loss of the only good dress which I have left,—salt water would spoil it.”

“You, then, refuse also?” exclaimed De Guiche.

“Decidedly I do; I beg you to understand that most distinctly.”

“But,” exclaimed De Guiche, “look, De Wardes—look, Manicamp—look yonder, the princesses are looking at us from the poop of the admiral’s vessel.”

“An additional reason, my dear fellow, why we should not make ourselves ridiculous by being drowned while they are looking on.”

“Is that your last word, Manicamp?”

“Yes.”

“And then yours, De Wardes?”

“Yes.”

“Then I go alone.”

“Not so,” said Raoul, “for I shall accompany you; I thought it was understood I should do so.”

The fact is, that Raoul, uninfluenced by devotion, measuring the risk they run, saw how imminent the danger was, but he willingly allowed himself to accept a peril which De Wardes had declined.

The boat was about to set off when De Guiche called to the pilot. “Stay,” said he: “we want two places in your boat;” and wrapping five or six pistoles in paper, he threw them from the quay into the boat.

“It seems you are not afraid of salt water, young gentlemen.”

“We are afraid of nothing,” replied De Guiche.

“Come along, then.”

The pilot approached the side of the boat, and the two young men, one after the other, with equal vivacity, jumped into the boat. “Courage, my men,” said De Guiche; “I have twenty pistoles left in this purse, and as soon as we reach the admiral’s vessel they shall be yours.” The sailors bent themselves to their oars, and the boat bounded over the crest of the waves. The interest taken in this hazardous expedition was universal; the whole population of Le Havre hurried towards the jetties and every look was directed towards the little bark; at one moment it flew suspended on the crest of the foaming waves, then suddenly glided downwards towards the bottom of a raging abyss, where it seemed utterly lost. At the expiration of an hour’s struggling with the waves, it reached the spot where the admiral’s vessel was anchored, and from the side of which two boats had already been dispatched towards their aid. Upon the quarter-deck of the flagship, sheltered by a canopy of velvet and ermine, which was suspended by stout supports, Henriette, the queen dowager, and the young princess—with the admiral, the Duke of Norfolk, standing beside them—watched with alarm this slender bark, at one moment tossed to the heavens, and the next buried beneath the waves, and against whose dark sail the noble figures of the two French gentlemen stood forth in relief like two luminous apparitions. The crew, leaning against the bulwarks and clinging to the shrouds, cheered the courage of the two daring young men, the skill of the pilot, and the strength of the sailors. They were received at the side of the vessel by a shout of triumph. The Duke of Norfolk, a handsome young man, from twenty-six to twenty-eight years of age, advanced to meet them. De Guiche and Bragelonne lightly mounted the ladder on the starboard side, and, conducted by the Duke of Norfolk, who resumed his place near them, they approached to offer their homage to the princess. Respect, and yet more, a certain apprehension, for which he could not account, had hitherto restrained the Comte de Guiche from looking at Madame attentively, who, however, had observed him immediately, and had asked her mother, “Is not that Monsieur in the boat yonder?” Madame Henriette, who knew Monsieur better than her daughter did, smiled at the mistake her vanity had led her into, and had answered, “No; it is only M. de Guiche, his favorite.” The princess, at this reply, was constrained to check an instinctive tenderness of feeling which the courage displayed by the count had awakened. At the very moment the princess had put this question to her mother, De Guiche had, at last, summoned courage to raise his eyes towards her and could compare the original with the portrait he had so lately seen. No sooner had he remarked her pale face, her eyes so full of animation, her beautiful nut-brown hair, her expressive lips, and her every gesture, which, while betokening royal descent, seemed to thank and to encourage him at one and the same time, than he was, for a moment, so overcome, that, had it not been for Raoul, on whose arm he leant, he would have fallen. His friend’s amazed look, and the encouraging gesture of the queen, restored Guiche to his self-possession. In a few words he explained his mission, explained in what way he had become envoy of his royal highness; and saluted, according to their rank and the reception they gave him, the admiral and several of the English noblemen who were grouped around the princess.

Raoul was then presented, and was most graciously received; the share that the Comte de la Fere had had in the restoration of Charles II. was known to all; and, more than that, it was the comte who had been charged with the negotiation of the marriage, by means of which the granddaughter of Henry IV. was now returning to France. Raoul spoke English perfectly, and constituted himself his friend’s interpreter with the young English noblemen, who were indifferently acquainted with the French language. At this moment, a young man came forward, of extremely handsome features, and whose dress and arms were remarkable for their extravagance of material. He approached the princesses, who were engaged in conversation with the Duke of Norfolk, and, in a voice which ill concealed his impatience, said, “It is now time to disembark, your royal highness.” The younger of the princesses rose from her seat at this remark, and was about to take the hand which the young nobleman extended to her, with an eagerness which arose from a variety of motives, when the admiral intervened between them, observing: “A moment, if you please, my lord; it is not possible for ladies to disembark just now, the sea is too rough; it is probable the wind may abate before sunset, and the landing will not be effected, therefore, until this evening.”

“Allow me to observe, my lord,” said Buckingham, with an irritation of manner which he did not seek to disguise, “you detain these ladies, and you have no right to do so. One of them, unhappily, now belongs to France, and you perceive that France claims them by the voice of her ambassadors;” and at the same moment he indicated Raoul and Guiche, whom he saluted.

“I cannot suppose that these gentlemen intend to expose the lives of their royal highnesses,” replied the admiral.

“These gentlemen,” retorted Buckingham, “arrived here safely, notwithstanding the wind; allow me to believe that the danger will not be greater for their royal highnesses when the wind will be in their favor.”

“These envoys have shown how great their courage is,” said the admiral. “You may have observed that there was a great number of persons on shore who did not venture to accompany them. Moreover, the desire which they had to show their respect with the least possible delay to Madame and her illustrious mother, induced them to brave the sea, which is very tempestuous to-day, even for sailors. These gentlemen, however, whom I recommend as an example for my officers to follow, can hardly be so for these ladies.”

Madame glanced at the Comte de Guiche, and perceived that his face was burning with confusion. This look had escaped Buckingham, who had eyes for nothing but Norfolk, of whom he was evidently very jealous; he seemed anxious to remove the princesses from the deck of a vessel where the admiral reigned supreme. “In that case,” returned Buckingham, “I appeal to Madame herself.”

“And I, my lord,” retorted the admiral, “I appeal to my own conscience, and to my own sense of responsibility. I have undertaken to convey Madame safe and sound to France, and I shall keep my promise.”

“But, sir—” continued Buckingham.

“My lord, permit me to remind you that I command here.”

“Are you aware what you are saying, my lord?” replied Buckingham, haughtily.

“Perfectly so; I therefore repeat it: I alone command here, all yield obedience to me; the sea and the winds, the ships and men too.” This remark was made in a dignified and authoritative manner. Raoul observed its effect upon Buckingham, who trembled with anger from head to foot, and leaned against one of the poles of the tent to prevent himself falling; his eyes became suffused with blood, and the hand which he did not need for his support wandered towards the hilt of his sword.

“My lord,” said the queen, “permit me to observe that I agree in every particular with the Duke of Norfolk; if the heavens, instead of being clouded as they are at the present moment, were perfectly serene and propitious, we can still afford to bestow a few hours upon the officer who has conducted us so successfully, and with such extreme attention, to the French coast, where he is to take leave of us.”

Buckingham, instead of replying, seemed to seek counsel from the expression of Madame’s face. She, however, half-concealed beneath the thick curtains of the velvet and gold which sheltered her, had not listened to the discussion, having been occupied in watching the Comte de Guiche, who was conversing with Raoul. This was a fresh misfortune for Buckingham, who fancied he perceived in Madame Henrietta’s look a deeper feeling than that of curiosity. He withdrew, almost tottering in his gait, and nearly stumbled against the mainmast of the ship.

“The duke has not acquired a steady footing yet,” said the queen-mother, in French, “and that may possibly be his reason for wishing to find himself on firm land again.”

The young man overheard this remark, turned suddenly pale, and, letting his hands fall in great discouragement by his side, drew aside, mingling in one sigh his old affection and his new hatreds. The admiral, however, without taking any further notice of the duke’s ill-humor, led the princesses into the quarter-deck cabin, where dinner had been served with a magnificence worthy in every respect of his guests. The admiral seated himself at the right hand of the princess, and placed the Comte de Guiche on her left. This was the place Buckingham usually occupied; and when he entered the cabin, how profound was his unhappiness to see himself banished by etiquette from the presence of his sovereign, to a position inferior to that which, by rank, he was entitled to. De Guiche, on the other hand, paler still perhaps from happiness, than his rival was from anger, seated himself tremblingly next to the princess, whose silken robe, as it lightly touched him, caused a tremor of mingled regret and happiness to pass through his whole frame. The repast finished, Buckingham darted forward to hand Madame Henrietta from the table; but this time it was De Guiche’s turn to give the duke a lesson. “Have the goodness, my lord, from this moment,” said he, “not to interpose between her royal highness and myself. From this moment, indeed, her royal highness belongs to France, and when she deigns to honor me by touching my hand it is the hand of Monsieur, the brother of the king of France, she touches.”

And saying this, he presented his hand to Madame Henrietta with such marked deference, and at the same time with a nobleness of mien so intrepid, that a murmur of admiration rose from the English, whilst a groan of despair escaped from Buckingham’s lips. Raoul, who loved, comprehended it all. He fixed upon his friend one of those profound looks which a bosom friend or mother can alone extend, either as protector or guardian, over the one who is about to stray from the right path. Towards two o’clock in the afternoon the sun shone forth anew, the wind subsided, the sea became smooth as a crystal mirror, and the fog, which had shrouded the coast, disappeared like a veil withdrawn before it. The smiling hills of France appeared in full view, with their numerous white houses rendered more conspicuous by the bright green of the trees or the clear blue sky.