Twenty Years After Chapter 52 Page 29

expected to be thwarted, to have to force the gates, to overturn the guards. The gates had opened of themselves, and the king, ostensibly at least, had no other guard at his bed-head but his mother. The foremost of them stammered and attempted to fall back.

“Enter, gentlemen,” said Laporte, “since the queen desires you so to do.”

Then one more bold than the rest ventured to pass the door and to advance on tiptoe.

This example was imitated by the rest, until the room filled silently, as if these men had been the humblest, most devoted courtiers. Far beyond the door the heads of those who were not able to enter could be seen, all craning to their utmost height to try and see.