George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham

Madame Bonacieux and the duke entered the Louvre without difficulty. Madame Bonacieux was known to belong to the queen; the duke wore the uniform of the musketeers of M. de Tréville, who, as we have said, were that evening on guard.

Buckingham, on being left alone, walked towards a mirror. His musketeer’s uniform became him wonderfully well.

At this instant a door concealed in the tapestry was opened, and a woman appeared. Buckingham saw this apparition in the glass. He uttered a cry. It was the queen!

Anne of Austria advanced two steps. Buckingham threw himself at her feet, and before the queen could prevent him, kissed the hem of her robe.

“Duke, you already know that it is not I who caused you to be written to.”

“Yes, yes, madame! yes, your Majesty!” cried the duke. “I know that I must have been mad, senseless, to believe that snow would become animated or marble warm. But what then? They who love easily believe in love; besides, this journey is not wholly lost, since I see you.”

“Yes,” replied Anne; “but you know why and how I see you, milord? Because, insensible to all my sufferings, you persist in remaining in a city where, by remaining, you run the risk of your own life, and make me run the risk of losing my honour. I see you to tell you that everything separates us—the depths of the sea, the enmity of kingdoms, the sancity of vows. It is sacrilege to struggle against so many things, milord. In short, I see you to tell you that we must never see each other again.”

“Speak on, madame, speak on, queen,” said Buckingham; “the sweetness of your voice covers the harshness of your words. You talk of sacrilege; but the sacrilege lies in the separation of two hearts formed by God for each other.”

“Milord,” cried the queen, “you forget that I have never told you I loved you.”

“Silence, silence!” cried the duke. “If I am happy in an error, do not have the cruelty to deprive me of it. You have told me yourself, madame, that I have been drawn into a snare; and I, perhaps, shall leave my life in it—for, strangely enough, I have for some time had a presentiment that I shall shortly die.” And the duke smiled, with a smile at once sad and charming.

“Oh, my God!” cried Anne of Austria, with an accent of terror which proved how much greater was the interest she took in the duke than she ventured to tell.

“I do not tell you this, madame, to terrify you; no, what I say to you is even ridiculous; and, believe me I do not heed such dreams. But the words you have just spoken, the hope you have almost given me, will have richly paid for all, were it even my life.”

“Oh, but I,” said Anne—“I, duke, have had presentiments likewise; I have had dreams. I dreamed that I saw you lying bleeding, wounded.”

“In the left side, was it not, and with a knife?” interrupted Buckingham.

“Yes, it was so, milord, it was so—in the left side, and with a knife. Who can possibly have told you I had had that dream? I have imparted it to no one but my God, and only then in my prayers.”

“I ask for no more. You love me, madame. It is enough.”

“I love you! I?”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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