Chicot the Jester
WHO DIANA WAS.
Bussy rose, bewildered at his own happiness, and entered with Diana into the room
which M. de Monsoreau had just quitted. He looked at Diana with astonishment and
admiration; he had not dared to hope that the woman whom he had sought for, would
equal the woman of his dream, and now the reality surpassed all that he had taken for a
caprice of his imagination. Diana was about nineteen, that is to say in the first éclât of
that youth and beauty which gives the purest coloring to the flower, the finest flavor to
the fruit. There was no mistaking the looks of Bussy; Diana felt herself admired. At last
she broke the silence.
"Monsieur," said she, "you have told me who you are, but not how you came here."
"Madame, the cause of my presence here will come naturally out of the recital you have
been good enough to promise me; I am sure of it, from some words of your
conversation with M. de Monsoreau."
"I will tell you all, monsieur; your name has been sufficient to inspire me with full
confidence, for I have always heard of it as of that of a man of honor, loyalty, and
Bussy bowed, and Diana went on.
"I am the daughter of the Baron de Méridor--that is to say, the only heiress of one of the
noblest and oldest names in Anjou."
"There was," said Bussy, "a Baron de Méridor, who, although he could have saved
himself, came voluntarily and gave up his sword at the battle of Pavia, when he heard
that the king was a prisoner, and begged to accompany Francis to Madrid, partook his
captivity, and only quitted him to come to France and negotiate his ransom."
"It was my father, monsieur, and if ever you enter the great hall of the Château de
Méridor you will see, given in memory of this devotion, the portrait of Francis I., painted
by Leonardo da Vinci."
"Ah!" said Bussy, "in those times kings knew how to recompense their followers."
"On his return from Spain my father married. His two first children, sons, died. This was
a great grief to the Baron de Méridor. When the king died, my father quitted the court,
and shut himself with his wife in the Château de Méridor. It was there that I was born,
ten years after the death of my brothers.