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Chapter 35

Chapter XXXV:
Fontainebleau.

For four days, every kind of enchantment brought together in the
magnificent gardens of Fontainebleau had converted this spot into a place
of the most perfect enjoyment. M. Colbert seemed gifted with ubiquity.
In the morning there were the accounts of the previous night's expenses
to settle; during the day, programmes, essays, enrolments, payments. M.
Colbert had amassed four millions of francs, and dispersed them with
sleepless economy. He was horrified at the expenses which mythology
involved; not a wood nymph, nor a dryad, that cost less than a hundred
francs a day! The dress alone amounted to three hundred francs. The
expense of powder and sulphur for fireworks amounted, every night, to a
hundred thousand francs. In addition to these, the illuminations on the
borders of the sheet of water cost thirty thousand francs every evening.
The _fetes_ had been magnificent; and Colbert could not restrain his
delight. From time to time, he noticed Madame and the king setting forth
on hunting expeditions, or preparing for the reception of different
fantastic personages, solemn ceremonials, which had been extemporized a
fortnight before, and in which Madame's sparkling wit and the king's
magnificence were equally well displayed.

For Madame, the heroine of the _fete_, replied to the addresses of the
deputations from unknown races - Garamanths, Scythians, Hyperboreans,
Caucasians, and Patagonians, who seemed to issue from the ground for the
purpose of approaching her with their congratulations; and upon every
representative of these races the king bestowed a diamond, or some other
article of value. Then the deputies, in verses more or less amusing,
compared the king to the sun, Madame to Phoebe, the sun's sister, and the
queen and Monsieur were no more spoken of than if the king had married
Henrietta of England, and not Maria Theresa of Austria. The happy pair,
hand in hand, imperceptibly pressing each other's fingers, drank in deep
draughts the sweet beverage of adulation, by which the attractions of
youth, beauty, power and love are enhanced. Every one at Fontainebleau
was amazed at the extent of the influence which Madame had so rapidly
acquired over the king, and whispered among themselves that Madame was,
in point of fact, the true queen; and in effect, the king himself
proclaimed its truth by his every thought, word, and look. He formed his
wishes, he drew his inspirations from Madame's eyes, and his delight was
unbounded when Madame deigned to smile upon him. And was Madame, on her
side, intoxicated with the power she wielded, as she beheld every one at
her feet? This was a question she herself could hardly answer; but what
she did know was, that she could frame no wish, and that she felt herself
to be perfectly happy. The result of all these changes, the source of
which emanated from the royal will, was that Monsieur, instead of being
the second person in the kingdom, had, in reality, become the third. And
it was now far worse than in the time when De Guiche's guitars were heard
in Madame's apartments; for, then, at least, Monsieur had the
satisfaction of frightening those who annoyed him. Since the departure,
however, of the enemy, who had been driven away by means of his alliance
with the king, Monsieur had to submit to a burden, heavier, but in a very
different sense, to his former one. Every evening Madame returned home
quite exhausted. Horse-riding, bathing in the Seine, spectacles, dinners
under the leafy covert of the trees, balls on the banks of the grand
canal, concerts, etc., etc.; all this would have been sufficient to have
killed, not a slight and delicate woman, but the strongest porter in the
_chateau_. It is perfectly true that, with regard to dancing, concerts,
and promenades, and such matters, a woman is far stronger than the most
robust of porters. But, however great a woman's strength may be, there
is a limit to it, and she cannot hold out long under such a system. As
for Monsieur, he had not even the satisfaction of witnessing Madame's
abdication of her royalty in the evening, for she lived in the royal
pavilion with the young queen and the queen-mother. As a matter of
course, the Chevalier de Lorraine did not quit Monsieur, and did not fail
to distil drops of gall into every wound the latter received. The result
was, that Monsieur - who had at first been in the highest spirits, and
completely restored since Guiche's departure - subsided into his
melancholy state three days after the court was installed at
Fontainebleau.

It happened, however, that, one day, about two o'clock in the afternoon,
Monsieur, who had risen late, and had bestowed upon his toilet more than
his usual attention, - it happened, we repeat, that Monsieur, who had not
heard of any plans having been arranged for the day, formed the project
of collecting his own court, and of carrying Madame off with him to
Moret, where he possessed a charming country house. He accordingly went
to the queen's pavilion, and was astonished, on entering, to find none of
the royal servants in attendance. Quite alone, therefore, he entered the
rooms, a door on the left opening to Madame's apartment, the one on the
right to the young queen's. In his wife's apartment, Monsieur was
informed, by a sempstress who was working there, that every one had left
at eleven o'clock, for the purpose of bathing in the Seine, that a grand
_fete_ was to be made of the expedition, that all the carriages had been
placed at the park gates, and that they had all set out more than an hour
ago.

"Very good," said Monsieur, "the idea is a good one; the heat is very
oppressive, and I have no objection to bathe, too."

He summoned his servants, but no one came. He summoned those in
attendance on Madame, but everybody had gone out. He went to the
stables, where he was informed by a groom that there were no carriages of
any description. He desired that a couple of horses should be saddled,
one for himself and the other for his valet. The groom told him that all
the horses had been sent away. Monsieur, pale with anger, again
descended towards the queen's apartments, and penetrated as far as Anne
of Austria's oratory, where he perceived, through the half-opened
tapestry-hangings, his young and beautiful sister on her knees before the
queen-mother, who appeared weeping bitterly. He had not been either seen
or heard. He cautiously approached the opening, and listened, the sight
of so much grief having aroused his curiosity. Not only was the young
queen weeping, but she was complaining also. "Yes," she said, "the king
neglects me, the king devotes himself to pleasures and amusements only,
in which I have no share."

"Patience, patience, my daughter," said Anne of Austria, in Spanish; and
then, also in Spanish, added some words of advice, which Monsieur did not
understand. The queen replied by accusations, mingled with sighs and
sobs, among which Monsieur often distinguished the word _banos_, which
Maria Theresa accentuated with spiteful anger.

"The baths," said Monsieur to himself; "it seems it is the baths that
have put her out." And he endeavored to put together the disconnected
phrases which he had been able to understand. It was easy to guess that
the queen was complaining bitterly, and that, if Anne of Austria did not
console her, she at least endeavored to do so. Monsieur was afraid to be
detected listening at the door and he therefore made up his mind to
cough; the two queens turned round at the sound and Monsieur entered. At
sight of the prince, the young queen rose precipitately, and dried her
tears. Monsieur, however, knew the people he had to deal with too well,
and was naturally too polite to remain silent, and he accordingly saluted
them. The queen-mother smiled pleasantly at him, saying, "What do you
want, Philip?"

"I? - nothing," stammered Monsieur. "I was looking for - "

"Whom?"

"I was looking for Madame."

"Madame is at the baths."

"And the king?" said Monsieur, in a tone which made the queen tremble.

"The king also, the whole court as well," replied Anne of Austria.

"Except you, madame," said Monsieur.

"Oh! I," said the young queen, "I seem to terrify all those who amuse
themselves."

"And so do I, - judging from appearances," rejoined Monsieur.

Anne of Austria made a sigh to her daughter-in-law, who withdrew, weeping.

Monsieur's brows contracted, as he remarked aloud, "What a cheerless
house. What do you think of it, mother?"

"Why, no; everybody here is pleasure-hunting."

"Yes, indeed, that is the very thing that makes those dull who do not
care for pleasure."

"In what a tone you say that, Philip."

"Upon my word, madame, I speak as I think."

"Explain yourself; what is the matter?"

"Ask my sister-in-law, rather, who, just now, was detailing all her
grievances to you."

"Her grievances, what - "

"Yes, I was listening; accidentally, I confess, but still I listened - so
that I heard only too well my sister complain of those famous baths of
Madame - "

"Ah! folly!"

"No, no, no; people are not always foolish when they weep. The queen
said _banos_, which means baths."

"I repeat, Philip," said Anne of Austria, "that your sister is childishly
jealous."

"In that case, madame," replied the prince, "I, too, must with great
humility accuse myself of possessing the same defect."

"You also, Philip?"

"Certainly."

"Are you really jealous of these baths?"

"And why not, madame, when the king goes to the baths with my wife, and
does not take the queen? Why not, when Madame goes to the baths with the
king, and does not do me the honor to even invite me? And you enjoin my
sister-in-law to be satisfied, and require me to be satisfied, too."

"You are raving, my dear Philip," said Anne of Austria; "you have driven
the Duke of Buckingham away; you have been the cause of M. de Guiche's
exile; do you now wish to send the king away from Fontainebleau?"

"I do not pretend to anything of the kind, madame," said Monsieur,
bitterly; "but, at least, I can withdraw, and I shall do so."

"Jealous of the king - jealous of your brother?"

"Yes, madame, I am jealous of the king - of my own brother, and
remarkably jealous, too."

"Really, Monsieur," exclaimed Anne of Austria, affecting to be indignant,
"I begin to believe you are mad, and a sworn enemy to my repose. I
therefore abandon the place to you, for I have no means of defending
myself against such monomanias."

She arose and left Monsieur a prey to the most extravagant transport of
passion. He remained for a moment completely bewildered; then,
recovering himself, again went to the stables, found the groom, once
more asked him for a carriage or a horse, and upon his reply that there
was neither the one or the other, Monsieur snatched a long whip from the
hand of a stable-boy, and began to pursue the poor devil of a groom all
round the servants' courtyard, whipping him the while, in spite of his
cries and excuses; then, quite out of breath, covered with perspiration,
and trembling in every limb, he returned to his own apartments, broke in
pieces some beautiful specimens of porcelain, and then got into bed,
booted and spurred as he was, crying out for some one to come to him.

Alexandre Dumas pere