After a splendid collation, graced by the presence of the bride and groom, the happy pair vanished; but we will not attempt to follow them, or intrude upon their privacy—turning away at the very threshold of the nuptial chamber, singing, in low tones, after the fashion of the ancients, “Hymen! oh Hymen!”
The mysteries of such sacred happiness as theirs should be respected; and besides, sweet, modest Isabelle would have died of shame if so much as a single one of the pins that held her bodice were indiscreetly drawn out.
CHAPTER XXII. THE CASTLE OF HAPPINESS
It will be readily believed that our sweet Isabelle had not forgotten, in her exceeding happiness as Mme. la Baronne de Sigognac, her former companions of Herode’s troupe. As she could not invite them to her wedding because they would have been so much out of place there—she had, in commemoration of that auspicious occasion, sent handsome and appropriate gifts to them all; offered with a grace so charming that it redoubled their value. So long as the company remained in Paris, she went often to see them play; applauding her old friends heartily, and judiciously as well, knowing just where the applause should be given. The young baronne did not attempt to conceal the fact that she had formerly been an actress herself—not parading it, but referring to it quietly, if necessary, as a matter of course; an excellent method to disarm ill-natured tongues, which would surely have wagged vigorously had any mystery been made about it. In addition, her illustrious birth and exalted position imposed silence upon those around her, and her sweet dignity and modesty had soon won all hearts—even those of her own sex—until it was universally conceded that there was not a greater or truer lady in court circles than the beautiful young Baronne de Sigognac.
The king, Louis XIII, having heard Isabelle’s eventful history, praised her highly for her virtuous conduct, and evinced great interest in de Sigognac, whom he heartily commended for his respectful, honourable gallantry, under circumstances that, according to general opinion, would authorize all manner of license. His deference to defenceless virtue peculiarly pleased the chaste, reserved monarch, who had no sympathy with, or indulgence for the wild, unbridled excesses of the licentious youth of his capital and court. As to Vallombreuse, he had entirely changed and amended his way of life, and seemed to find unfailing pleasure and satisfaction, as well as benefit, in the companionship of his new friend and brother, to whom he was devoted, and who fully reciprocated his warm affection; while the prince, his father, joyfully dwelt in the bosom of his reunited family, and found in it the happiness he had vainly sought before. The young husband and wife led a charming life, more and more in love with and devoted to each other, and never experiencing that satiety of bliss which is ruinous to the most perfect happiness. Although Isabelle had no concealments from her husband, and shared even her inmost thoughts with him, yet for a time she seemed very much occupied with some mysterious business—apparently exclusively her own.