Chapter Twelve: George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham
Madame Bonacieux leads the Duke down various passages, finally ending up in a room where she leaves him, and locks the door behind her.
Still, the Duke of Buckingham is fearless. He is rash and loves adventure, so even after discovering that the letter from Queen Anne was a hoax to lure him (remember, from Chapter Eight?), he insists on seeing her anyway.
Madame Bonacieux was to make all the arrangements, but she was briefly abducted.
We get a brief description of the Duke—thirty-five, insanely good-looking, really powerful, and seducing powerful women. The man has some serious bravado to seduce the Queen of France. The married Queen of France.
The Queen walks in. She looks absolutely beautiful.
The Duke is dazzled. The Queen is dressed very plainly, but it only enhances her beauty. He falls to her feet and kisses the hem of her dress.
Then Anne (that’s the Queen’s first name) points out that the two of them don’t have very much going for their relationship.
First, there’s the long-distance thing. He lives in England, she lives in France, and neither phones nor airplanes have been invented yet.
Second, there’s the whole your-country-hates-my-country issue.
And lastly, there’s the marriage part: Anne is a married woman.
This is a bad combination, and Anne knows it. She says they can never see each other again.
The Duke says he was too distracted by the beauty of her voice to pay attention to what she was saying. None of that means anything, he says, because the two of them are meant to be together forever.
The Queen points out that she’s never said that little phrase that begins with "I" and ends in "you."
But, replies the Duke replies, she never said that she didn’t love him. He praises her beauty some more.
The Duke takes a couple trips down Memory Lane, asking her if she remembers all their encounters—encounters, which quickly became the scandal of the court.
We learn that the Duke wanted to be the ambassador to France, but that the King nixed that whole idea on the grounds of, well, he didn’t want his wife’s lover hanging around.
The Duke retaliated by waging war. He tells Anne that even though they’re not allowed to see each other, she will hear about him every day. And when the war finally concludes and they send in the people who figure out the terms of peace, the Duke is planning to be one of those people. Yes, thousands of men may die, says the Duke, but he’ll be able to see Anne again.
He is one intense lover; Anne points out that all his proofs of love are practically criminal.
They continue bantering back and forth. It becomes clear that despite her protestations, Anne is really into the Duke. She tells him that she has a recurring dream in which he is lying and bleeding.
The Duke asks if the wound is on the left side and caused by a knife.
Anne is shocked that he knows the dream. She has told no one about it. The Duke thinks that having the same dream is further proof of that the two are meant to be.
Anne tells him to get the heck out—she will be unable to forgive herself if he is killed because he wants to see her. She tells him to come back openly one day and she will be happy to see him.
The Duke agrees, but asks for a token of her love.
She gives him a golden casket (small trinket marked with her initials in gold) and tells him to leave.
Madame Bonacieux meets him again and escorts him out of the palace.