Alas! there was a bright pair of eyes that saw more than Philip Sidney’s, a pair of ears that heard more, a tongue and pen less faithful to guard a secret.
CHAPTER VIII. ‘LE BROUILON’
But never more the same two sister pearls Ran down the silken thread to kiss each other.—Tennyson
Berenger was obliged to crave permission from the King to spend some hours in riding with Osbert to the first hostel on their way, to make arrangements for the relay of horses that was to meet them there, and for the reception of Veronique, Eustacie’s maid, who was to be sent off very early in the morning on a pillion behind Osbert, taking with her the articles of dress that would be wanted to change her mistress from the huntress maid of honour to the English dame.
It was not long after he had been gone that a sound of wheels and trampling horses was heard in one of the forest drives. Charles, who was amusing himself with shooting at a mark together with Sidney and Teligny, handed his weapon to an attendant, and came up with looks of restless anxiety to his Queen, who was placed in her chair under the tree, with the Admiral and her ladies round her, as judges of the prize.
‘Here is le brouillon,’ he muttered. ’I thought we had been left in peace too long.’
Elisabeth, who Brantome says was water, while her husband was fire, tried to murmur some hopeful suggestion; and poor little Eustacie, clasping her hands, could scarcely refrain from uttering the cry, ‘Oh, it is my uncle! Do not let him take me!’
The next minute there appeared four horses greatly heated and jaded, drawing one of the court coaches; and as it stopped at the castle gate, two ladies became visible within it—the portly form of Queen Catherine, and on the back seat the graceful figure of Diane de Ribaumont.
Charles swore a great oath under his breath. He made a step forward, but then his glance falling on Eustacie’s face, which had flushed to the rosiest hue of the carnation, he put his finger upon his lip with a menacing air, and then advanced to greet his mother, followed by his gentlemen.
‘Fear not, my dear child,’ said the young Queen, taking Eustacie’s arm as she rose for the same purpose. ’Obey the King, and he will take care that all goes well.’
The gentle Elisabeth was, however, the least regarded member of the royal family. Her mother-in-law had not even waited to greet her, but had hurried the King into his cabinet, with a precipitation that made the young Queen’s tender heart conclude that some dreadful disaster had occurred, and before Mademoiselle de Ribaumont had had time to make her reverence, she exclaimed, breathlessly, ‘Oh, is it ill news? Not from Vienna?’
‘No, no, Madame; reassure yourself,’ replied Diane; ’it is merely that her Majesty, being on the way to Monceaux with Mesdames, turned out of her road to make a flying visit to your graces, and endeavour to persuade you to make her party complete.’