A sad smile passed over the lips of the gentleman.
“Place the money on that trunk,” said he, turning round and pointing to the piece of furniture.
Cropole deposited a tolerably large bag as directed, after having taken from it the amount of his reckoning.
“Now,” said he, “I hope monsieur will not give me the pain of not taking any supper. Dinner has already been refused; this is affronting to the house of les Medici. Look, monsieur, the supper is on the table, and I venture to say that it is not a bad one.”
The unknown asked for a glass of wine, broke off a morsel of bread, and did not stir from the window whilst he ate and drank.
Shortly after was heard a loud flourish of trumpets; cries arose in the distance, a confused buzzing filled the lower part of the city, and the first distinct sound that struck the ears of the stranger was the tramp of advancing horses.
“The king! the king!” repeated a noisy and eager crowd.
“The king!” cried Cropole, abandoning his guest and his ideas of delicacy, to satisfy his curiosity.
With Cropole were mingled, and jostled, on the staircase, Madame Cropole, Pittrino, and the waiters and scullions.
The cortege advanced slowly, lighted by a thousand flambeaux, in the streets and from the windows.
After a company of musketeers, a closely ranked troop of gentlemen, came the litter of monsieur le cardinal, drawn like a carriage by four black horses. The pages and people of the cardinal marched behind.
Next came the carriage of the queen-mother, with her maids of honor at the doors, her gentlemen on horseback at both sides.
The king then appeared, mounted upon a splendid horse of Saxon breed, with a flowing mane. The young prince exhibited, when bowing to some windows from which issued the most animated acclamations, a noble and handsome countenance, illuminated by the flambeaux of his pages.
By the side of the king, though a little in the rear, the Prince de Conde, M. Dangeau, and twenty other courtiers, followed by their people and their baggage, closed this veritably triumphant march. The pomp was of a military character.
Some of the courtiers — the elder ones, for instance — wore traveling dresses; but all the rest were clothed in warlike panoply. Many wore the gorget and buff coat of the times of Henry IV. and Louis XIII.
When the king passed before him, the unknown, who had leant forward over the balcony to obtain a better view, and who had concealed his face by leaning on his arm, felt his heart swell and overflow with a bitter jealousy.
The noise of the trumpets excited him — the popular acclamations deafened him: for a moment he allowed his reason to be absorbed in this flood of lights, tumult, and brilliant images.
“He is a king!” murmured he, in an accent of despair.
Then, before he had recovered from his sombre reverie, all the noise, all the splendor, had passed away. At the angle of the street there remained nothing beneath the stranger but a few hoarse, discordant voices, shouting at intervals “Vive le Roi!”