“Yes, a sort of general racket, with everybody waving garlands and carrying wreaths, and flags floating and streamers streaming—–”
“Yes, and cannon booming, and salutes being fired, and rockets and fireworks going off like mad.”
“Yes, just that! but now I almost hope we won’t pass through it, for fear it shouldn’t quite come up to our notion of it.”
“If we do come to it, I’ll tell you in time, and you can shut your eyes and pretend you’re asleep while we go through.”
But the town in question was not on their route after all, and soon they came flying in to the town of Versailles. Of course, they made for the Chateau at once, and alighted from the cars just outside the great wall.
Patty, being unaccustomed to historic sites, was deeply impressed as she walked up the old steps and found herself on an immense paved court that seemed to be fairly flooded with the brightest sunlight she had ever seen. As a rule, Mr. Farrington did not enjoy the services of a guide, but for the benefit of the young people in his charge, he engaged one to describe to them the sights they were to see.
The whole royal courtyard and the great Equestrian Statue of Louis XIV. seemed very wonderful to Patty, and she could scarcely realise that the great French monarch himself had often stood where she was now standing.
“I never seemed to think of Louis XIV.,” she said, “as a man. He seems to me always like a set of furniture, or a wall decoration, or at most a costume.”
“Now you’ye hit it,” said Paul; “Louis XIV. was, at most, a costume; and a right-down handsome costume, too. I wish we fellows could dress like that nowadays.”
“I wish so, too,” said Elise; “it’s a heap more picturesque than the clothes men wear at the present day.”
“I begin to feel,” said Patty, “that I wish I had studied my French history harder. How many kings lived here after Louis XIV.?”
“Two,” replied Mr. Farrington, “and when, Patty, at one o’clock on the sixth of October, 1789, the line of carriages drove Louis XVI. and his family away from here to Paris, the Chateau was left vacant and has never since been occupied.”
“In October,” said Patty, “and probably just such a blue and gold day as this! Oh, how they must have felt!”
“I wouldn’t weep over it now, Patty,” said the matter-of-fact Elise; “they’ve been gone so long, and so many people have wept for them, that I think it wasted emotion.”
“I believe it would be,” said Patty, smiling, “as far as they’re concerned; but I can’t help feeling sorry for them, only I could never weep before, because I never realised what it was they were leaving.”
The party went on into the Chateau, and visited rooms and apartments one after the other. It was necessary to do this quickly if they were to do it at all, and, as Mr. Farrington said, a hasty tour of the palace would give them an idea of it as a whole, and sometime he would bring the girls again to enjoy the details more at leisure.