Ten Years Later HTML version

Chapter 12
From Le Havre to Paris.
The next day the fetes took place, accompanied by all the pomp and animation that the
resources of the town and the cheerful disposition of men's minds could supply. During
the last few hours spent in Le Havre, every preparation for the departure had been
made. After Madame had taken leave of the English fleet, and, once again, had saluted
the country in saluting its flags, she entered her carriage, surrounded by a brilliant
escort. De Guiche had hoped that the Duke of Buckingham would accompany the
admiral to England; but Buckingham succeeded in demonstrating to the queen that
there would be great impropriety in allowing Madame to proceed to Paris, almost
unprotected. As soon as it had been settled that Buckingham was to accompany
Madame, the young duke selected a corps of gentlemen and officers to form part of his
own suite, so that it was almost an army that now set out towards Paris, scattering gold,
and exciting the liveliest demonstrations as they passed through the different towns and
villages on the route. The weather was very fine. France is a beautiful country,
especially along the route by which the procession passed. Spring cast its flowers and
its perfumed foliage on their path. Normandy, with its vast variety of vegetation, its blue
skies and silver rivers, displayed itself in all the loveliness of a paradise to the new sister
of the king. Fetes and brilliant displays received them everywhere along the line of
march. De Guiche and Buckingham forgot everything; De Guiche in his anxiety to
prevent any fresh attempts on the part of the duke, and Buckingham, in his desire to
awaken in the heart of the princess a softer remembrance of the country to which the
recollection of many happy days belonged. But, alas! the poor duke could perceive that
the image of that country so cherished by himself became, from day to day, more and
more effaced in Madame's mind, in exact proportion as her affection for France became
more deeply engraved on her heart. In fact, it was not difficult to perceive that his most
devoted attention awakened no acknowledgement, and that the grace with which he
rode one of his most fiery horses was thrown away, for it was only casually and by the
merest accident that the princess's eyes were turned towards him. In vain did he try, in
order to fix upon himself one of those looks, which were thrown carelessly around, or
bestowed elsewhere, to produce in the animal he rode its greatest display of strength,
speed, temper and address; in vain did he, by exciting his horse almost to madness,
spur him, at the risk of dashing himself in pieces against the trees, or of rolling in the
ditches, over the gates and barriers which they passed, or down the steep declivities of
the hills. Madame, whose attention had been aroused by the noise, turned her head for
a moment to observe the cause of it, and then, slightly smiling, again entered into
conversation with her faithful guardians, Raoul and De Guiche, who were quietly riding
at her carriage doors. Buckingham felt himself a prey to all the tortures of jealousy; an
unknown, unheard of anguish glided through his veins, and laid siege to his heart; and
then, as if to show that he knew the folly of his conduct, and that he wished to correct,
by the humblest submission, his flights of absurdity, he mastered his horse, and
compelled him, reeking with sweat and flecked with foam, to champ his bit close beside