“Long live the king!” exclaimed the multitude. They hailed the new monarch with mockery; but laughter, and sincere joy and feasting were the testimonials of their emotions at the death of the king but now departed.
On the next day a cheap, tawdry and unimposing procession wended its way through the back streets of Paris, its leader seeking to escape even the edges of the mob, lest the people should fall upon the somber little pageant and rend it into fragments. This was the funeral cortege of Louis, the Grand Monarque, Louis the lustful, Louis the bigot, Louis the ignorant, Louis the unhappy. They hurried him to his resting-place, these last servitors, and then hastened back to the palaces to join their hearts and voices to the rising wave of joy which swept across all France at the death of this beloved ruler.
Now it happened that, as the funeral procession of the king was hurrying through the side streets near the confines of the old city of Paris, there encountered it, entering from the great highway which led from the east up to the city gates, the carriage of a gentleman who might, apparently with justice, have laid some claim to consequence. It had its guards and coachmen, and was attended by two riders in livery, who kept it company along the narrow streets. This equipage met the head of the hurrying funeral cortege, and found occasion for a moment to pause. Thus there passed, the one going to his grave, the other to his goal, the two men with whom the France of that day was most intimately concerned.
There came from the window of the coach the voice of one inquiring the reason of the halt, and there might have been seen through the upper portion of the vehicle’s door the face of the owner of the carriage. He seemed a man of imposing presence, with face open and handsome, and an eye bright, bold and full of intelligence. His garb was rich and elegant, his air well contained and dignified.
“Guillaume,” he called out, “what is it that detains us?”
“It is nothing, Monsieur L’as,” was the reply, “They tell me it is but the funeral of the king.”
“Eh bien!” replied Law, turning to one who sat beside him in the coach. “Nothing! ’Tis nothing but the funeral of the king!”
EVER SAID SHE NAY
The coach proceeded steadily on its way, passing in toward that quarter where the high-piled, peaked roofs and jagged spires betokened ancient Paris. On every hand arose confused sounds from the streets, now filled with a populace merry as though some pleasant carnival were just beginning. Shopkeeper called across to his neighbor, tradesman gossiped with gallant. Even the stolid faces of the plodding peasants, fresh past the gate-tax and bound for the markets to seek what little there remained after giving to the king, bore an unwonted look, as though hope might yet succeed to their surprise.