The coachman obeyed, flogging his mules, and the heavy carriage rocked upon its creaking axle, whilst the king of France, alone, cast down, annihilated, did not dare to look either behind or before him.
When the king, like all the people in the world who are in love, had long and attentively watched disappear in the distance the carriage which bore away his mistress; when he had turned and turned again a hundred times to the same side and had at length succeeded in somewhat calming the agitation of his heart and thoughts, he recollected that he was not alone. The officer still held the horse by the bridle, and had not lost all hope of seeing the king recover his resolution. He had still the resource of mounting and riding after the carriage; they would have lost nothing by waiting a little. But the imagination of the lieutenant of the musketeers was too rich and too brilliant; it left far behind it that of the king, who took care not to allow himself to be carried away to such excess. He contented himself with approaching the officer, and in a doleful voice, “Come,” said he, “let us be gone; all is ended. To horse!”
The officer imitated this carriage, this slowness, this sadness, and leisurely mounted his horse. The king pushed on sharply, the lieutenant followed him. At the bridge Louis turned around for the last time. The lieutenant, patient as a god who has eternity behind and before him, still hoped for a return of energy. But it was groundless, nothing appeared. Louis gained the street which led to the castle, and entered as seven was striking. When the king had returned, and the musketeer, who saw everything, had seen a corner of the tapestry over the cardinal’s window lifted up, he breathed a profound sigh, like a man unloosed from the tightest bonds, and said in a low voice:
“Now then, my officer, I hope that it is over.”
The king summoned his gentleman. “Please to understand I shall receive nobody before two o’clock,” said he.
“Sire,” replied the gentleman, “there is, however, some one who requests admittance.”
“Who is that?”
“Your lieutenant of musketeers.”
“He who accompanied me?”
“Ah,” said the king, “let him come in.”
The officer entered. The king made a sign, and the gentleman and the valet retired. Louis followed them with his eyes until they had shut the door, and when the tapestries had fallen behind them, — “You remind me by your presence, monsieur, of something I had forgotten to recommend to you, that is to say, the most absolute discretion.”
“Oh! sire, why does your majesty give yourself the trouble of making me such a recommendation? It is plain you do not know me.”
“Yes, monsieur, that is true. I know that you are discreet; but as I had prescribed nothing — "