“Ah, Monsieur le Vicomte! You at Blois!” cried he. “Well, that is a wonder. Good-day to you — good-day, Monsieur Raoul.”
“I offer you a thousand respects, M. de Saint-Remy.”
“How Madame de la Vall — I mean, how delighted Madame de Saint-Remy will be to see you! But come in. His royal highness is at breakfast — must he be interrupted? Is the matter serious?”
“Yes, and no, Monsieur de Saint-Remy. A moment’s delay, however, would be disagreeable to his royal highness.”
“If that is the case, we will force the consigne, Monsieur le Vicomte. Come in. Besides, Monsieur is in an excellent humor to-day. And then you bring news, do you not?”
“Great news, Monsieur de Saint-Remy.
“And good, I presume?”
“Come quickly, come quickly then!” cried the worthy man, putting his dress to rights as he went along.
Raoul followed him, hat in hand, and a little disconcerted at the noise made by his spurs in these immense salons.
As soon as he had disappeared in the interior of the palace, the window of the court was repeopled, and an animated whispering betrayed the emotion of the two girls. They soon appeared to have formed a resolution, for one of the two faces disappeared from the window. This was the brunette; the other remained behind the balcony, concealed by the flowers, watching attentively through the branches the perron by which M. de Bragelonne had entered the castle.
In the meantime the object of so much laudable curiosity continued his route, following the steps of the maitre d’hotel. The noise of quick steps, an odor of wine and viands, a clinking of crystal and plates, warned them that they were coming to the end of their course.
The pages, valets and officers, assembled in the office which led up to the refectory, welcomed the newcomer with the proverbial politeness of the country; some of them were acquainted with Raoul, and all knew that he came from Paris. It might be said that his arrival for a moment suspended the service. In fact, a page, who was pouring out wine for his royal highness, on hearing the jingling of spurs in the next chamber, turned round like a child, without perceiving that he was continuing to pour out, not into the glass, but upon the tablecloth.
Madame, who was not so preoccupied as her glorious spouse was, remarked this distraction of the page.
“Well?” exclaimed she.
“Well!” repeated Monsieur; “what is going on then?”
M. de Saint-Remy, who had just introduced his head through the doorway, took advantage of the moment.
“Why am I to be disturbed?” said Gaston, helping himself to a thick slice of one of the largest salmon that had ever ascended the Loire to be captured between Paimboeuf and Saint-Nazaire.
“There is a messenger from Paris. Oh! but after monseigneur has breakfasted will do; there is plenty of time.”