Besides, to perceive this movement, he had nothing to do but look out at his window, the shutters of which had not been closed.
His eminence crossed the court, conducted by Monsieur, who himself held a flambeau; then followed the queen-mother, to whom Madame familiarly gave her arm; and both walked chatting away, like two old friends.
Behind these two couples filed nobles, ladies, pages and officers; the flambeaux gleamed over the whole court, like the moving reflections of a conflagration. Then the noise of steps and voices became lost in the upper floors of the castle.
No one was then thinking of the king, who, leaning on his elbow at his window, had sadly seen pass away all that light, and heard that noise die off — no, not one, if it was not that unknown of the hostelry des Medici, whom we have seen go out, enveloped in his cloak.
He had come straight up to the castle, and had, with his melancholy countenance, wandered round and round the palace, from which the people had not yet departed; and finding that on one guarded the great entrance, or the porch, seeing that the soldiers of Monsieur were fraternizing with the royal soldiers — that is to say, swallowing Beaugency at discretion, or rather indiscretion — the unknown penetrated through the crowd, then ascended to the court, and came to the landing of the staircase leading to the cardinal’s apartment.
What, according to all probability, induced him to direct his steps that way, was the splendor of the flambeaux, and the busy air of the pages and domestics. But he was stopped short by a presented musket and the cry of the sentinel.
“Where are you going, my friend?” asked the soldier.
“I am going to the king’s apartment,” replied the unknown, haughtily, but tranquilly.
The soldier called one of his eminence’s officers, who, in the tone in which a youth in office directs a solicitor to a minister, let fall these words: “The other staircase, in front.”
And the officer, without further notice of the unknown, resumed his interrupted conversation.
The stranger, without reply, directed his steps towards the staircase pointed out to him. On this side there was no noise, there were no more flambeaux.
Obscurity, through which a sentinel glided like a shadow; silence, which permitted him to hear the sound of his own footsteps, accompanied with the jingling of his spurs upon the stone slabs.
This guard was one of the twenty musketeers appointed for attendance upon the king, and who mounted guard with the stiffness and consciousness of a statue.
“Who goes there?” said the guard.
“A friend,” replied the unknown.
“What do you want?”
“To speak to the king.”
“Do you, my dear monsieur? That’s not very likely.”
“Because the king has gone to bed.”
“Gone to bed already?”