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76. The Ambassadors.
The two friends rode rapidly down the declivity of the Faubourg, but on arriving at the bottom were surprised to find that the streets of Paris had become rivers, and the open places lakes; after the great rains which fell in January the Seine had overflowed its banks and the river inundated half the capital. The two gentlemen were obliged, therefore, to get off their horses and take a boat; and in that strange manner they approached the Louvre.
Night had closed in, and Paris, seen thus, by the light of lanterns flickering on the pools of water, crowded with ferry-boats of every kind, including those that glittered with the armed patrols, with the watchword, passing from post to post -- Paris presented such an aspect as to strongly seize the senses of Aramis, a man most susceptible to warlike impressions.
They reached the queen's apartments, but were compelled to stop in the ante-chamber, since her majesty was at that moment giving audience to gentlemen bringing her news from England.
"We, too," said Athos, to the footman who had given him that answer, "not only bring news from England, but have just come from there."
"What? then, are your names, gentlemen?"
"The Comte de la Fere and the Chevalier d'Herblay," said Aramis.
"Ah! in that case, gentlemen," said the footman, on hearing the names which the queen had so often pronounced with hope, "in that case it is another thing, and I think her majesty will pardon me for not keeping you here a moment. Please follow me," and he went on before, followed by Athos and Aramis.
On arriving at the door of the room where the queen was receiving he made a sign for them to wait and opening the door:
"Madame," he said, "I hope your majesty will forgive me for disobeying your orders, when you learn that the gentlemen I have come to announce are the Comte de la Fere and the Chevalier d'Herblay."
On hearing those two names the queen uttered a cry of joy, which the two gentlemen heard.
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