Page:Madagascar - Phelps - 1883.djvu/84

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82

A SKETCH OF

ion had the honor of being introduced at Court; Madame Pfeiffer was invited to play the piano before the Queen; a splendid fancy ball was got up among the nobles, excelling in some respects the flare and gayety of Paris itself, and, to crown all, Mr. Lambert and Madame Pfeiffer were urged by the Queen to dance together a pas de deux at Court! This reasonable wish of the Queen was announced to the astonished couple by Prince Rakoto in person, and when we consider the work in which they were engaged it seemed rather like a bitter sarcasm than as the mere curiosity of a simpled-minded barbarian. Sickness was pleaded as an excuse for not complying with this request, Mr. Lambert suffering from the fever.

At length, on the 6th of June, a grand dinner was given in honor of Prince Rakoto by Mr. Latrobe in his garden-house. The dinner-party was bright and cheerful, and Mr. Lambert was in the highest spirits. The feast was followed by music and dancing until ten o'clock at night, when, at the request of Mr. Lambert, Madame Pfeiffer broke up the party, alleging the effects of a previous indisposition for so doing. Favored by a bright moonlight, the party marched away from the summerhouse to the strains of merry music, ina manner calculated to lull all suspicions as to the covert conspiracy that was going on under this fair exterior. The party being dismissed, Prince Rakoto and Mr. Lambert called Madame Pfeiffer into a side room of Mr. Latrobe’s dwelling house; and the Prince assured her for a second time that the private contract between Mr. Lambert and himself had been drawn up with his entire concurrence, and that it was a gross calumny that he was intoxicated when he signed it. He said that Mr. Lambert had come to Madagascar by his wish, and with the intention, in conjunction with himself and a portion of the nobility and soldiers, to remove Queen Ranavalona from the throne, but without depriving her of freedom, her wealth, or the honors which were her due.

Mr. Lambert, on his part, informed her that the dinner had been given at Mr. Latrobe’s garden-house because everything could be more quietly discussed there; that she had been requested to break up the party in order that it might appear to have been given in her honor, and finally, that they had gone through town with noisy music in order that the object might appear to be mere social entertainment. She was then shown in the house a complete little arsenal of guns, sabres, daggers, pistols, and leather shirts of mail for arming the