Annora’s hands were clasped, her cheeks were flushed, her eyes glanced with the dew of admiration, and there were others who were carried along by the charm of the young orator’s voice and enthusiasm; but there were also anxious glances passing, especially between the divine Arthenice and her son-in-law, M. de Montausier, and when there had been time for the compliments the discourse merited to be freely given, Madame de Rambouillet said: ’My dear friend, the tribute may be indeed the highest, but it can scarcely be the most appreciable either by the fortunate individual or his friends. I therefore entreat that the most eloquent discourse of our youthful Cicero of admires who have listened to it.’
Everybody bowed assent, but the young man himself began, with some impetuosity: ’Madame will believe me that I had not the slightest political intention. I spoke simply as a matter of history.’
‘I am perfectly aware of it, Monsieur,’ returned the Marquise; ’but all the world does not understand as well as I do how one may be carried away by the fervour of imagination to identify oneself and one’s surroundings with those of which one speaks.’
‘Madame is very severe on the absent,’ said M. Darpent.
‘Monsieur thinks I have inferred more treason than he has spoken,’ said Madame de Rambouillet gaily. ’Well, be it so; I am an old woman, and you, my friend, have your career yet to come, and I would have you remember that though the great Cesar be dead, yet the bodkin was not in his time.’
’I understand, Madame, after the lion comes the fox. I thank you for your warning until the time—–’
‘Come, come, we do not intend to be all undone in the meantime,’ exclaimed Madame de Rambouillet. ’Come, who will give us a vaudeville or something joyous to put out the grand serious, and send us home gay. My dear Countess,’ and she turned to a bright-looking young lady, ’relate to us, I entreat of you, one of your charming fairy tales.’
And the Countess d’Aulnoy, at her request, seated herself in a large arm-chair, and told us with infinite grace the story I have so often told you, my grandchildren, of the White Cat and the three princes.
The expected descent on the Isle of Wight did not take place, for though Prince Rupert was High Admiral, so large a portion of the fleet was disaffected that it was not possible to effect anything. Before long, he went back to the ships he had at Helvoetsluys, taking the Prince of Wales with him. My brother Walwyn yielded to an earnest entreaty that he would let us take care of him at Paris till there was some undertaking really in hand. Besides, he was awaiting the issue of his cause respecting the Ribaumont property in Picardy, to which the Count de Poligny set up a claim in right of a grant by King Henry III. in the time of the League. It must be confessed that the suit lingered a good deal, in spite of the zeal of the young advocate, M. Clement Darpent,—nay, my mother ad my brother De Solivet sometimes declared, because of his zeal; for the Darpent family were well known as inclined to the Fronde party.