sprang toward the staircase. But on the first step he met Lord Winter, who, seeing him pale, wild, livid, and stained with blood, both on his hands and face, seized him by the throat, crying,
I knew it! I guessed it! A minute too late! Oh, unfortunate, unfortunate that I am!Felton made no resistance. Lord Winter placed him in the hands of the guards, who led him, until they should receive fresh orders, to a little terrace looking out over the sea; and then he rushed into Buckinghams room.
At the cry uttered by the duke and Patricks scream the man whom Felton had met in the antechamber darted into the closet.
He found the duke lying on a sofa, with his hand pressed convulsively over the wound.
La Porte, said the duke in a faint voiceLa Porte, do you come from her?
Yes, monseigneur, replied Anne of Austrias faithful cloakbearer, but too late, perhaps.
Silence, La Porte; you may be overheard.Patrick, let no one enter. Oh, I shall not know what she says to me!My God! I am dying!
And the duke fainted.
The duke, however, was not dead. He recovered a little, opened his eyes, and hope revived in all hearts.
Gentlemen, said he, leave me alone with Patrick and La Porte. Ah, is that you, De Winter? You sent me a strange madman this morning. See what a condition he has brought me to!
Oh, my lord! cried the baron, I shall never console myself for it.
And you would be quite wrong, my dear De Winter, said Buckingham, holding out his hand to him; I do not know the man who deserves being regretted during the whole of another mans life. But leave us, I pray you.
The baron went out sobbing.
Only the wounded duke, La Porte, and Patrick remained in the closet. A surgeon had been sent for, but none could be found.
You will live, my lord, you will live! repeated Anne of Austrias faithful servant, on his knees before the dukes sofa.
What did she write me? said Buckingham feebly, streaming with blood and suppressing his frightful agony to speak of her he loved; what did she write me? Read me her letter.
Oh, my lord! said La Porte.
Obey, La Porte. Do you not see I have no time to lose?
La Porte broke the seal and placed the paper before the dukes eyes; but Buckingham tried in vain to make out the writing.
Read it! said heread it! I cannot see. Read, then! for soon, perhaps, I shall not hear, and I shall die without knowing what she has written me.
La Porte made no further objection, and read,
Milord,By what I have suffered by you and for you since I have known you, I conjure you, if you have any care for my repose, to interrupt those great armaments which you are preparing against France,
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