Page:The Vicomte de Bragelonne 2.djvu/14

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2
THE VICOMTE DE BRAGELONNE

air at once so melancholy and so majestic, that he certainly would have attracted the attention of spectators, if spectators there had been; but the good citizens of Blois could not pardon Monsieur for having chosen their gay city for an abode in which to indulge melancholy at his ease, and as often as they caught a glimpse of the illustrious ennuyé, they stole away gaping, or drew back their heads into the interior of their dwellings, to escape the soporific influence of that long, pale face, of those watery eyes, and that languid address; so that the worthy prince was almost certain to find the streets deserted whenever he chanced to pass through them.
"Now, on the part of the citizens of Blois this was a culpable piece of disrespect, for Monsieur was, after the king—nay, even, perhaps, before the king—the greatest noble of the kingdom. In fact, God, who had granted to Louis XIV., then reigning, the honor of being son of Louis XIII., had granted to Monsieur the honor of being son of Henry IV. It was not then, or, at least, it ought not to have been, a trifling source of pride for the city of Blois, that Gaston of Orleans had chosen it as his residence, and held his court in the ancient castle of its states.
But it was the destiny of this great prince to excite the attention and admiration of the public in a very modified degree wherever he might be. Monsieur had fallen into this situation by habit.
It was not, perhaps, this which gave him that air of listlessness. Monsieur had been tolerably busy in the course of his life. A man cannot allow the heads of a dozen of his best friends to be cut off without feeling a little excitement; and as since the accession of Mazarin to power no heads had been cut off, Monsieur's occupation was gone, and his morale suffered from it.
The life of the poor prince was then very dull. After his little morning hawking-party on the banks of the Beuvion, or in the woods of Chiverny, Monsieur crossed the Loire, went to breakfast at Chambord, with or without an appetite, and the city of Blois heard no more of its sovereign lord and master till the next hawking-day.
So much for the ennui extra muros; of the ennui of the interior we will give the reader an idea if he will with us follow the cavalcade to the majestic porch of the Castle of the States.
Monsieur rode a little steady-paced horse, equipped with a large saddle of red Flemish velvet, with stirrups in the