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Chapter 11

Chapter XI:
Night.

Concord returned to its place amidst the tents. English and French
rivaled each other in their devotion and courteous attention to the
illustrious travelers. The English forwarded to the French baskets of
flowers, of which they had made a plentiful provision to greet the
arrival of the young princess; the French in return invited the English
to a supper, which was to be given the next day. Congratulations were
poured in upon the princess everywhere during her journey. From the
respect paid her on all sides, she seemed like a queen; and from the
adoration with which she was treated by two or three; she appeared an
object of worship. The queen-mother gave the French the most
affectionate reception. France was her native country, and she had
suffered too much unhappiness in England for England to have made her
forget France. She taught her daughter, then, by her own affection for
it, that love for a country where they had both been hospitably received,
and where a brilliant future opened before them. After the public entry
was over, and the spectators in the streets had partially dispersed, and
the sound of the music and cheering of the crowd could be heard only in
the distance; when the night had closed in, wrapping with its star-
covered mantle the sea, the harbor, the town, and surrounding country, De
Guiche, still excited by the great events of the day, returned to his
tent, and seated himself upon one of the stools with so profound an
expression of distress that Bragelonne kept his eyes fixed upon him,
until he heard him sigh, and then he approached him. The count had
thrown himself back on his seat, leaning his shoulders against the
partition of the tent, and remained thus, his face buried in his hands,
with heaving chest and restless limbs.

"You are suffering?" asked Raoul.

"Cruelly."

"Bodily, I suppose?"

"Yes; bodily."

"This has indeed been a harassing day," continued the young man, his eyes
fixed upon his friend.

"Yes; a night's rest will probably restore me."

"Shall I leave you?"

"No; I wish to talk to you."

"You shall not speak to me, Guiche, until you have first answered my
questions."

"Proceed then."

"You will be frank with me?"

"I always am."

"Can you imagine why Buckingham has been so violent?"

"I suspect."

"Because he is in love with Madame, is it not?"

"One could almost swear to it, to observe him."

"You are mistaken; there is nothing of the kind."

"It is you who are mistaken, Raoul; I have read his distress in his eyes,
in his every gesture and action the whole day."

"You are a poet, my dear count, and find subjects for your muse
everywhere."

"I can perceive love clearly enough."

"Where it does not exist?"

"Nay, where it does exist."

"Do you not think you are deceiving yourself, Guiche?"

"I am convinced of what I say," said the count.

"Now, inform me, count," said Raoul, fixing a penetrating look upon him,
"what happened to render you so clear-sighted."

Guiche hesitated for a moment, and then answered, "Self-love, I suppose."

"Self-love is a pedantic word, Guiche."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean that, generally, you are less out of spirits than seems to be the
case this evening."

"I am fatigued."

"Listen to me, Guiche; we have been campaigners together; we have been on
horseback for eighteen hours at a time, and our horses dying from
exhaustion, or hunger, have fallen beneath us, and yet we have laughed at
our mishaps. Believe me, it is not fatigue that saddens you to-night."

"It is annoyance, then."

"What annoyance?"

"That of this evening."

"The mad conduct of the Duke of Buckingham, do you mean?"

"Of course; is it not vexations for us, the representatives of our
sovereign master, to witness the devotion of an Englishman to our future
mistress, the second lady in point of rank in the kingdom?"

"Yes, you are right; but I do not think any danger is to be apprehended
from Buckingham."

"No; still he is intrusive. Did he not, on his arrival here, almost
succeed in creating a disturbance between the English and ourselves; and,
had it not been for you, for your admirable presence, for your singular
decision of character, swords would have been drawn in the very streets
of the town."

"You observe, however, that he has changed his tactics."

"Yes, certainly; but this is the very thing that amazes me so much. You
spoke to him in a low tone of voice, what did you say to him? You think
he loves her; you admit that such a passion does not give way readily.
He does not love her, then!" De Guiche pronounced the latter with so
marked an expression that Raoul raised his head. The noble character of
the young man's countenance expressed a displeasure which could easily be
read.

"What I said to him, count," replied Raoul, "I will repeat to you.
Listen to me. I said, 'You are regarding with wistful feelings, and most
injurious desire, the sister of your prince, - her to whom you are not
affianced, who is not, who can never be anything to you; you are
outraging those who, like ourselves, have come to seek a young lady to
escort her to her husband.'"

"You spoke to him in that manner?" asked Guiche, coloring.

"In those very terms; I even added more. 'How would you regard us,' I
said, 'if you were to perceive among us a man mad enough, disloyal
enough, to entertain other than sentiments of the most perfect respect
for a princess who is the destined wife of our master?'"

These words were so applicable to De Guiche that he turned pale, and,
overcome by a sudden agitation, was barely able to stretch out one hand
mechanically towards Raoul, as he covered his eyes and face with the
other.

"But," continued Raoul, not interrupted by this movement of his friend,
"Heaven be praised, the French, who are pronounced to be thoughtless and
indiscreet, reckless, even, are capable of bringing a calm and sound
judgment to bear on matters of such high importance. I added even more,
for I said, 'Learn, my lord, that we gentlemen of France devote ourselves
to our sovereigns by sacrificing them our affections, as well as our
fortunes and our lives; and whenever it may chance to happen that the
tempter suggests one of those vile thoughts that set the heart on fire,
we extinguish the flame, even if it has to be done by shedding our blood
for the purpose. Thus it is that the honor of three is saved: our
country's, our master's, and our own. It is thus that we act, your
Grace; it is thus that every man of honor ought to act.' In this manner,
my dear Guiche," continued Bragelonne, "I addressed the Duke of
Buckingham; and he admitted I was right, and resigned himself
unresistingly to my arguments."

De Guiche, who had hitherto sat leaning forward while Raoul was speaking,
drew himself up, his eyes glancing proudly; he seized Raoul's hand, his
face, which had been as cold as ice, seemed on fire. "And you spoke
magnificently," he said, in a half-choked voice; "you are indeed a
friend, Raoul. But now, I entreat you, leave me to myself."

"Do you wish it?"

"Yes; I need repose. Many things have agitated me to-day, both in mind
and body; when you return to-morrow I shall no longer be the same man."

"I leave you, then," said Raoul, as he withdrew. The count advanced a
step towards his friend, and pressed him warmly in his arms. But in this
friendly pressure Raoul could detect the nervous agitation of a great
internal conflict.

The night was clear, starlit, and splendid; the tempest had passed away,
and the sweet influences of the evening had restored life, peace and
security everywhere. A few fleecy clouds were floating in the heavens,
and indicated from their appearance a continuance of beautiful weather,
tempered by a gentle breeze from the east. Upon the large square in
front of the hotel, the shadows of the tents, intersected by the golden
moonbeams, formed as it were a huge mosaic of jet and yellow flagstones.
Soon, however, the entire town was wrapped in slumber; a feeble light
still glimmered in Madame's apartment, which looked out upon the square,
and the soft rays from the expiring lamp seemed to be the image of the
calm sleep of a young girl, hardly yet sensible of life's anxieties, and
in whom the flame of existence sinks placidly as sleep steals over the
body.

Bragelonne quitted the tent with the slow and measured step of a man
curious to observe, but anxious not to be seen. Sheltered behind the
thick curtains of his own tent, embracing with a glance the whole square,
he noticed that, after a few moments' pause, the curtains of De Guiche's
tent were agitated, and then drawn partially aside. Behind them he could
perceive the shadow of De Guiche, his eyes, glittering in the obscurity,
fastened ardently upon the princess's sitting apartment, which was
partially lighted by the lamp in the inner room. The soft light which
illumined the windows was the count's star. The fervent aspirations of
his nature could be read in his eyes. Raoul, concealed in the shadow,
divined the many passionate thoughts that established, between the tent
of the young ambassador and the balcony of the princess, a mysterious and
magical bond of sympathy - a bond created by thoughts imprinted with so
much strength and persistence of will, that they must have caused happy
and loving dreams to alight upon the perfumed couch, which the count,
with the eyes of his soul, devoured so eagerly.

But De Guiche and Raoul were not the only watchers. The window of one of
the houses looking on the square was opened too, the casement of the
house where Buckingham resided. By the aid of the rays of light which
issued from this latter, the profile of the duke could be distinctly
seen, as he indolently reclined upon the carved balcony with its velvet
hangings; he also was breathing in the direction of the princess's
apartment his prayers and the wild visions of his love.

Raoul could not resist smiling, as thinking of Madame, he said to
himself, "Hers is, indeed, a heart well besieged;" and then added,
compassionately, as he thought of Monsieur, "and he is a husband well
threatened too; it is a good thing for him that he is a prince of such
high rank, that he has an army to safeguard for him that which is his
own." Bragelonne watched for some time the conduct of the two lovers,
listened to the loud and uncivil slumbers of Manicamp, who snored as
imperiously as though he was wearing his blue and gold, instead of his
violet suit.

Then he turned towards the night breeze which bore towards him, he seemed
to think, the distant song of the nightingale; and, after having laid in
a due provision of melancholy, another nocturnal malady, he retired to
rest thinking, with regard to his own love affair, that perhaps four or
even a larger number of eyes, quite as ardent as those of De Guiche and
Buckingham, were coveting his own idol in the chateau at Blois. "And
Mademoiselle de Montalais is by no means a very conscientious garrison,"
said he to himself, sighing aloud.

Alexandre Dumas pere