Charles became more serious.
“One single thing. See my sister, the Lady Henrietta. Do you know her?”
“No, sire, but — an old soldier like me is not an agreeable spectacle for a young and gay princess.”
“Ah! but my sister must know you; she must in case of need have you to depend upon.”
“Sire, every one that is dear to your majesty will be sacred to me.”
“Very well! — Parry! Come here, Parry!”
The side door opened and Parry entered, his face beaming with pleasure as soon as he saw D’Artagnan.
“What is Rochester doing?” said the king.
“He is on the canal with the ladies,” replied Parry.
“He is there also.”
“That is well. You will conduct the chevalier to Villiers; that is the Duke of Buckingham, chevalier; and beg the duke to introduce M. d’Artagnan to the Princess Henrietta.”
Parry bowed and smiled to D’Artagnan.
“Chevalier,” continued the king, “this is your parting audience; you can afterwards set out as soon as you please.”
“Sire, I thank you.”
“But be sure you make your peace with Monk!”
“Oh, sire — "
“You know there is one of my vessels at your disposal?”
“Sire, you overpower me; I cannot think of putting your majesty’s officers to inconvenience on my account.”
The king slapped D’Artagnan upon the shoulder.
“Nobody will be inconvenienced on your account, chevalier, but for that of an ambassador I am about sending to France, and to whom you will willingly serve as a companion, I fancy, for you know him.”
D’Artagnan appeared astonished.
“He is a certain Comte de la Fere, — whom you call Athos,” added the king; terminating the conversation, as he had begun it, by a joyous burst of laughter. “Adieu, chevalier, adieu. Love me as I love you.” And thereupon, making a sign to Parry to ask if there were any one waiting for him in the adjoining closet, the king disappeared into that closet, leaving the chevalier perfectly astonished by this singular audience. The old man took his arm in a friendly way, and led him towards the garden.
Upon the green waters of the canal bordered with marble, upon which time had already scattered black spots and tufts of mossy grass, there glided majestically a long, flat bark adorned with the arms of England, surmounted by a dais, and carpeted with long damasked stuffs, which trailed their fringes in the water. Eight rowers, leaning lazily to their oars, made it move upon the canal with the graceful slowness of the swans, which, disturbed in their ancient possessions by the approach of the bark, looked from a distance at this splendid and noisy pageant. We say noisy — for the bark contained four guitar and lute players, two singers, and several courtiers, all sparkling