The Refugees eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 452 pages of information about The Refugees.
both on the north and on the east, and yet had been so welded together internally that she had but one voice, with which she spoke through him.  And then there was that line of beautiful faces which wavered up in front of him.  There was Olympe de Mancini, whose Italian eyes had first taught him that there is a power which can rule over a king; her sister, too, Marie de Mancini; his wife, with her dark little sun-browned face; Henrietta of England, whose death had first shown him the horrors which lie in life; La Valliere, Montespan, Fontanges.  Some were dead; some were in convents.  Some who had been wicked and beautiful were now only wicked.  And what had been the outcome of all this troubled, striving life of his?  He was already at the outer verge of his middle years; he had lost his taste for the pleasures of his youth; gout and vertigo were ever at his foot and at his head to remind him that between them lay a kingdom which he could not hope to govern.  And after all these years he had not won a single true friend, not one, in his family, in his court, in his country, save only this woman whom he was to wed that night.  And she, how patient she was, how good, how lofty!  With her he might hope to wipe off by the true glory of his remaining years all the sin and the folly of the past.  Would that the archbishop might come, that he might feel that she was indeed his, that he held her with hooks of steel which would bind them as long as life should last!

There came a tap at the door.  He sprang up eagerly, thinking that the ecclesiastic might have arrived.  It was, however, only his personal attendant, to say that Louvois would crave an interview.  Close at his heels came the minister himself, high-nosed and heavy-chinned.  Two leather bags were dangling from his hand.

“Sire,” said he, when Bontems had retired, “I trust that I do not intrude upon you.”

“No, no, Louvois.  My thoughts were in truth beginning to be very indifferent company, and I am glad to be rid of them.”

“Your Majesty’s thoughts can never, I am sure, be anything but pleasant,” said the courtier.  “But I have brought you here something which I trust may make them even more so.”

“Ah!  What is that?”

“When so many of our young nobles went into Germany and Hungary, you were pleased in your wisdom to say that you would like well to see what reports they sent home to their friends; also what news was sent out from the court to them.”

“Yes.”

“I have them here—­all that the courier has brought in, and all that are gathered to go out, each in its own bag.  The wax has been softened in spirit, the fastenings have been steamed, and they are now open.”

The king took out a handful of the letters and glanced at the addresses.

“I should indeed like to read the hearts of these people,” said he.  “Thus only can I tell the true thoughts of those who bow and simper before my face.  I suppose,” with a sudden flash of suspicion from his eyes, “that you have not yourself looked into these?”

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The Refugees from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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