The Refugees
your forests at Fontainebleau. A stag of ten tines, you see, and the hounds in full cry, and a gallant band of cavaliers and ladies. Has your Majesty ridden to-day?"
    "No. How is it, Francoise, that you have such a heart of ice?"
    "I would it were so, sire. Perhaps you have hawked, then?"
    "No. But surely no man's love has ever stirred you! And yet you have been a wife."
    "A nurse, sire, but never a wife. See the lady in the park! It is surely mademoiselle. I did not know that she had come up from Choisy."
    But the king was not to be distracted from his subject.
    "You did not love this Scarron, then?" he persisted. "He was old, I have heard, and as lame as some of his verses."
    "Do not speak lightly of him, sire. I was grateful to him; I honoured him; I liked him."
    "But you did not love him."
    "Why should you seek to read the secrets of a woman's heart?"
    "You did not love him, Francoise?"
    "At least I did my duty towards him."
    "Has that nun's heart never yet been touched by love then?"
    "Sire, do not question me."
    "Has it never - "
    "Spare me, sire, I beg of you!"
    "But I must ask, for my own peace hangs upon your answer."
    "Your words pain me to the soul."
    "Have you never, Francoise, felt in your heart some little flicker of the love which glows in mine?" He rose with his hands outstretched, a pleading monarch, but she, with half-turned bead, still shrank away from him.
    "Be assured of one thing, sire," said she, "that even if I loved you as no woman ever loved a man yet, I should rather spring from that window on to the stone terraces beneath than ever by word or sign confess as much to you."
    "And why, Francoise?"
    "Because, sire, it is my highest hope upon earth that I have been chosen to lift up your mind towards loftier things - that mind the greatness and nobility of which none know more than I."
    "And is my love so base, then?"
    "You have wasted too much of your life and of your thoughts upon woman's love. And now, sire, the years steal on and the day is coming when even you will be called upon to give an account of your actions, and of the innermost thoughts of your heart. I would see you spend the time that is left to you, sire, in building up the Church, in showing a noble example to your subjects, and in repairing any evil which that example may have done in the past."
    The king sank back into his chair with a groan. "Forever the same," said he. "Why, you are worse than Father la Chaise and Bossuet."
    "Nay, nay," said she gaily, with the quick tact in which she never failed. "I have wearied you, when you have stooped to honour my little room with your presence. That is indeed ingratitude, and it were a just punishment if you were to leave me in solitude to-morrow, and so cut off all the light of my day. But tell me, sire, how go the works at Marly? I am all on fire to know whether the great fountain will work."
    "Yes, the fountain plays well, but Mansard has thrown the right wing too far back. I have made him a good architect, but I have still much to teach him. I showed him his fault on the plan this morning, and he promised to amend it."
    "And what will the change cost, sire?"
    "Some millions of livres, but then the view will be much improved from the south side. I have taken in another mile of ground in that direction, for there were a number of poor folk living there, and their hovels were far from pretty."
    "And why have you not ridden to-day, sire?"
    "Pah! it brings me no pleasure. There was a time when my blood was stirred by the blare of the horn and the rush of the hoofs, but now it is all wearisome to me."
    "And hawking too?"
    "Yes; I shall hawk no more."
    "But, sire, you must have amusement."
    "What is so dull as an amusement which has ceased to amuse? I know not how it is. When I was but a lad, and my mother and I were driven from place to place, with the Fronde at war with us and Paris in revolt, with our throne and even our lives in danger, all life seemed to be so bright, so new, and so full of

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