“Monsieur,” said his royal highness in his turn, “you will offer my thanks to M. de Conde, and express to him my gratitude for the honor he has done me.” Raoul bowed.
“On what day will his majesty arrive?” continued the prince.
“The king, monseigneur, will in all probability arrive this evening.”
“But how, then, could he have known my reply if it had been in the negative?”
“I was desired, monseigneur, to return in all haste to Beaugency, to give counter-orders to the courier, who was himself to go back immediately with counter-orders to M. le Prince.”
“His majesty is at Orleans, then?”
“Much nearer, monseigneur; his majesty must by this time have arrived at Meung.”
“Does the court accompany him?”
“A propos, I forgot to ask you after M. le Cardinal.”
“His eminence appears to enjoy good health, monseigneur.”
“His nieces accompany him, no doubt?”
“No, monseigneur; his eminence has ordered the Mesdemoiselles de Mancini to set out for Brouage. They will follow the left bank of the Loire, while the court will come by the right.
“What! Mademoiselle Mary de Mancini quit the court in that manner?” asked Monsieur, his reserve beginning to diminish.
“Mademoiselle Mary de Mancini in particular,” replied Raoul discreetly.
A fugitive smile, an imperceptible vestige of his ancient spirit of intrigue, shot across the pale face of the prince.
“Thanks, M. de Bragelonne,” then said Monsieur. “You would, perhaps, not be willing to carry M. le Prince the commission with which I would charge you, and that is, that his messenger has been very agreeable to me; but I will tell him so myself.”
Raoul bowed his thanks to Monsieur for the honor he had done him.
Monsieur made a sign to Madame, who struck a bell which was placed at her right hand; M. de Saint-Remy entered, and the room was soon filled with people.
“Messieurs,” said the prince, “his majesty is about to pay me the honor of passing a day at Blois; I depend on the king, my nephew, not having to repent of the favor he does my house.”
“Vive le Roi!” cried all the officers of the household with frantic enthusiasm, and M. de Saint-Remy louder than the rest.
Gaston hung down his head with evident chagrin. He had all his life been obliged to hear, or rather to undergo, this cry of “Vive le Roi!” which passed over him. For a long time, being unaccustomed to hear it, his ear had had rest, and now a younger, more vivacious, and more brilliant royalty rose up before him, like a new and more painful provocation.
Madame perfectly understood the sufferings of that timid, gloomy heart; she rose from the table, Monsieur imitated her mechanically, and all the domestics, with a buzzing like that of several bee-hives, surrounded Raoul for the purpose of questioning him.