Ten Years Later HTML version
The Duke of Buckingham, obedient to the queen-mother's invitation, presented himself
in her apartments half an hour after the departure of the Duc d'Orleans. When his name
was announced by the gentleman-usher in attendance, the queen, who was sitting with
her elbow resting on a table, and her head buried in her hands, rose, and smilingly
received the graceful and respectful salutation which the duke addressed to her. Anne
of Austria was still beautiful. It is well known that at her then somewhat advanced age,
her long auburn hair, perfectly formed hands, and bright ruby lips, were still the
admiration of all who saw her. On the present occasion, abandoned entirely to a
remembrance which evoked all the past in her heart, she looked almost as beautiful as
in the days of her youth, when her palace was open to the visits of the Duke of
Buckingham's father, then a young and impassioned man, as well as an unfortunate
prince, who lived for her alone, and died with her name upon his lips. Anne of Austria
fixed upon Buckingham a look so tender in its expression, that it denoted, not alone the
indulgence of maternal affection, but a gentleness of expression like the coquetry of a
woman who loves.
"Your majesty," said Buckingham, respectfully, "desired to speak to me."
"Yes, duke," said the queen, in English; "will you be good enough to sit down?"
The favor which Anne of Austria thus extended to the young man, and the welcome
sound of the language of a country from which the duke had been estranged since his
stay in France, deeply affected him. He immediately conjectured that the queen had a
request to make of him. After having abandoned the first few moments to the
irrepressible emotions she experienced, the queen resumed the smiling air with which
she had received him. "What do you think of France?" she said, in French.
"It is a lovely country, madame," replied the duke.
"Had you ever seen it before?"
"Once only, madame."
"But, like all true Englishmen, you prefer England?"
"I prefer my own native land to France," replied the duke; "but if your majesty were to
ask me which of the two cities, London or Pairs, I should prefer as a residence, I should
be forced to answer Paris."