And upon this recommendation, made to himself, he folded his cloak around him, looking with contempt upon his royal neighbor. Five minutes after this he was asleep, with his hands clenched and his lips apart, giving escape, not to his secret, but to a sonorous sound, which rose and spread freely beneath the majestic roof of the ante-chamber.
The sun had scarcely shed its first beams on the majestic trees of the park and the lofty turrets of the castle, when the young king, who had been awake more than two hours, possessed by the sleeplessness of love, opened his shutters himself, and cast an inquiring look into the courts of the sleeping palace. He saw that it was the hour agreed upon: the great court clock pointed to a quarter past four. He did not disturb his valet de chambre, who was sleeping soundly at some distance; he dressed himself, and the valet, in a great fright, sprang up, thinking he had been deficient in his duty; but the king sent him back again, commanding him to preserve the most absolute silence. He then descended the little staircase, went out at a lateral door, and perceived at the end of the wall a mounted horseman, holding another horse by the bridle. This horseman could not be recognized in his cloak and slouched hat. As to the horse, saddled like that of a rich citizen, it offered nothing remarkable to the most experienced eye. Louis took the bridle: the officer held the stirrup without dismounting, and asked his majesty’s orders in a low voice.
“Follow me,” replied the king.
The officer put his horse to the trot, behind that of his master, and they descended the hill towards the bridge. When they reached the other side of the Loire, —
“Monsieur,” said the king, “you will please to ride on till you see a carriage coming; then return and inform me. I will wait here.”
“Will your majesty deign to give me some description of the carriage I am charged to discover?”
“A carriage in which you will see two ladies, and probably their attendants likewise.”
“Sire, I should not wish to make a mistake; is there no other sign by which I may know this carriage?”
“It will bear, in all probability, the arms of monsieur le cardinal.”
“That is sufficient, sire,” replied the officer, fully instructed in the object of his search. He put his horse to the trot, and rode sharply on in the direction pointed out by the king. But he had scarcely gone five hundred paces when he saw four mules, and then a carriage, loom up from behind a little hill. Behind this carriage came another. It required only one glance to assure him that these were the equipages he was in search of; he therefore turned his bridle, and rode back to the king.
“Sire,” said he, “here are the carriages. The first, as you said, contains two ladies with their femmes de chambre; the second contains the footmen, provisions, and necessaries.”