CHAPTER VI. NEGOTIATIONS WITH ANNE MARIA.
This conversation leading to no decisive result, Lord Germain renewed the subject after a few days, and pressed Anne Maria for a final answer. She said, now, that she had a very high regard for Queen Henrietta, and, indeed, a very strong affection for her; so strong that she should be willing to waive, for Henrietta's sake, all her objections to the disadvantages of Charles's position; but there was one objection which she felt that she could not surmount, and that was his religion. He was a Protestant, while she was a Catholic. Charles must remove this difficulty himself, which, if he had any regard for her, he certainly would be willing to do, since she would have to make so many sacrifices for him. Lord Germain, however, immediately discouraged this idea. He said that the position of Charles in respect to his kingdom was such as to render it impossible for him to change his religious faith. In fact, if he were to do so, he would be compelled to give up, at once, all hope of ever getting possession of his throne. Anne Maria knew this very well. The plea, however, made an excellent excuse to defend herself with from Lord Germain's importunities. She adhered to it, therefore, pertinaciously; the negotiation was broken off, and Lord Germain went away.
Young adventurers like Charles, who wish to marry great heiresses, have always to exercise a great deal of patience, and to submit to a great many postponements and delays, even though they are successful in the end; and sovereign princes are not excepted, any more than other men, from this necessity. Dependent as woman is during all the earlier and all the later years of her life, and subjected as she is to the control, and too often, alas! to the caprice and injustice of man, there is a period - brief, it is true - when she is herself in power; and such characters as Anne Maria like to exercise their authority, while they feel that they possess it, with a pretty high hand. Charles seems to have felt the necessity of submitting to the inconvenience of Anne Maria's capricious delays, and, as long as she only continued to make excuses and objections instead of giving him a direct and positive refusal, he was led to persevere. Accordingly, not long after the conversations which his messenger had held with the lady as already described, he determined to come himself to France, and see if he could not accomplish something by his own personal exertions. He accordingly advanced to Peronne, which was not far from the frontier, and sent forward a courier to announce his approach. The royal family concluded to go out in their carriages to meet him. They were at this time at a famous royal resort a few leagues from Paris, called Compiegne. Charles was to dine at Compiegne, and then to proceed on toward Paris, where he had business to transact connected with his political plans.
Anne Maria gives a minute account of the ride of the royal family to meet Charles on his approach to Compiegne, and of the interview with him, on her part, which attended it. She dressed herself in the morning, she says, with great care, and had her hair curled, which she seldom did except on very special occasions. When she entered the carriage to go out to meet the king, the queen regent, observing her appearance, said archly, "How easy it is to tell when young ladies expect to meet their lovers." Anne Maria says that she had a great mind to tell her, in reply, that it was easy, for those who had had a great deal of experience in preparing to meet lovers themselves. She did not, however, say this, and the forbearance seems to show that there was, after all, the latent element of discretion and respect for superiors in her character, though it showed itself so seldom in action.
They rode out several miles to meet the coming king; and when the two parties met, they all alighted, and saluted each other by the road side, the ladies and gentlemen that accompanied them standing around. Anne Maria noticed that Charles addressed the king and queen regent first, and then her. After a short delay they got into their carriages again - King Charles entering the carriage with their majesties and Anne Maria - and they rode together thus back to Compiegne.
Anne Maria, however, does not seem to have been in a mood to be pleased. She says that Charles began to talk with the king - Louis XIV. - who was now twelve years old, about the dogs and horses, and the hunting customs in the country of the Prince of Orange. He talked on these subjects fluently enough in the French language, but when afterward the queen regent, who would naturally be interested in a different class of topics, asked him about the affairs of his own kingdom and his plans for recovering it, he excused himself by saying that he did not speak French well enough to give her the information. Anne Maria says she determined from that moment not to conclude the marriage, "for I conceived a very poor opinion of him, being a king, and at his age, to have no knowledge of his affairs." Such minds as Anne Maria's are seldom very logical; but such an inference as this, that he was ignorant of his own affairs because he declined explaining plans whose success depended on secrecy in such a company as that, and in a language with which, though he could talk about dogs and horses in it, he was still very imperfectly acquainted, is far too great a jump from premises to conclusion to be honestly made. It is very evident that Anne Maria was not disposed to be pleased.