Revelation by Elohim

Бесплатный фрагмент - Revelation by Elohim

The Mystery of Diana de’Poitier

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Chapter 1



The wind drove the leaves along the dusty road, it was a beautiful sunny day.

The noise of the bells carried its ringing throughout the entire area with dozens of ringing bells, breaking the usual silence of this small village of Saint Vollier, so common in France these times. A multitude of barefoot boys ran in a small, noisy flock to the village church, kicking up the dust in a column. The people were going to a big event for this small village, the wedding of noble gentlemen. A beautiful spring day shone in these parts. The dauphine breathed the scent of wild forest grasses and flowers. Lush vegetation, blossoming and waking up in spring, mixing with the smell of clean transparent streams running down from the mountains, like the veins of this place and the breeze coming from transparent lakes. Yes, it was Dauphiné, Diana’s home. Today was her wedding day. Diana was barely 15 years old.

She stood in a wedding dress that sparkled with white. Her veil wrapped around her entire appearance, like a cloud. Her face seemed to glow with sparkling marble of incredibly white color. The stronger was the contrast of her black hair, like a raven’s wing. The very white skin of her face filled with even greater pallor that day.

The bride stood by the window, pale and pensive. There was everything: a wedding dress, a white cloud of a veil, a delicate bouquet of white flowers, only her face did not shine with a joyful smile. Diane de Poitiers was the only daughter of Jean de Saint Valier. It was an ancient, proud, but, alas, impoverished family. Diana’s mother was from a very noble family. Her family was much older than even the family of the Valois kings. In the veins of Diana flowed the blood of the once former kings of France, the Miroving dynasty. Diana always remembered this, despite the fact that everyone around had forgotten about it. Her father was a noblest soul man and nobleman Jean de Poitiers, Senor de Saint Valier. He was a thin gray-haired man with brooding eyes filled with depth. He looked at his daughter. She smiled back at him affectionately. He knew that Louis de Brese was a good match for his daughter. A very noble, great seneschal of Normandy and the chief jagermeister of France was one of the wealthy and dignitaries of the state, close to the king himself. He married his beautiful daughter, although he was 40 years older than Diana. He, her father will be calm about her future.

Are you ready my dear? He asked, kissing his daughter on the forehead and looking at her.

She silently nodded back, smiling at the corners of her lips, and took his arm.

He slowly led her to the exit. There was a noisy crowd in and around the church when their carriage pulled up and they got out. The father took her, his treasure, to the altar to give it to the groom, where he was already waiting for her. If such, that is, he could be called a groom. Far from being a young age of men who was supposed to become her husband. Outwardly, nature has not endowed him with even a small bit of beauty. He was simply ugly, thin and tall. He carried himself haughtily and arrogantly, erect to his full height and throwing his chin up, pursing his thin lips in arrogance. But, this position did not help in any way to hide his sparse hair on his head, carefully combed to one side.

They were some kind of incomprehensible dirty shade mixed with gray hair. The thin, dry face was deeply wrinkled.

The lower thin lip is arrogantly compressed and from that it seemed to be not there at all, she disdainfully rose up. Colorless, like a fish’s eyes, they were cold. He looked at the bride and his lips barely moved, trying to portray a semblance of a smile. His whole appearance resembled a large swollen ball, full of his own significance and arrogance.

He, Louis de Brese de Molvrier, is one of the most noble, wealthy and influential people in the state. Having spent his entire life as a bachelor in travel and entertainment, by the age of 56 he decided that he needed an heir to his high rank, position and family. He had been choosing a wife for a year already. But, no one was worthy of him. He was sure of this and found flaws in all applicants. But, once he accidentally saw Diana at one of the receptions, he was struck by her incredible beauty. Like a forest fairy, she did not leave his head. But, no, do not think, he did not fall in love. For such a person, love had rather a different meaning and form. Except for love for himself, he probably did not feel any other. And since Diana was just a beauty and sparkled like the moon in the night sky, blinding everyone around that evening. De Brese decided that, perhaps, he would descend to her from Olympus of his greatness. And she will not find a better groom, just as for him she will be the best passion. Her poor, though noble family made him snort contemptuously. Diana was not interested in his greatness of the past family at all. But, nevertheless, he decided that a lady like her noble, but not so rich, should be happy with his proposal and such a groom. And so, with these thoughts, he went to a meeting with her father, declaring his intention to marry Diana. And now everything is decided the wedding will take place in a small church, in an equally small village.

And he, as a tight-fisted or simply greedy person, will not have to endure too much costs and losses. Having done all the calculations, he was once again very pleased with himself and his choice.

Candles were burning in the church, flickering and jumping like fireflies, smelled of incense. Diana stood straight, like a marble statue. She was calm. Her face reflected the flickering of the candles, like glints of light on white marble. She knew her father did it for her good. They were far from rich, and their estate had completely fallen into disrepair. Their house was often attended by the same as her father, noble nobles with empty pockets. Their honor and nobility were as great as their pockets were empty. They spoke noble speeches with gloomy faces, for which they, undoubtedly, could be put behind bars, or even completely deprived of their heads. They talked about the situation of nobles like them. About exorbitant taxes and fees and not justice of the government and its imminent collapse. And then her father would go somewhere and return gloomy and silent.

She loved her father with the tender love of her daughter and knew that their ancient family had won their title and name only by their courage, valor and honor. Many centuries ago, her distant ancestors fought alongside the kings. But, as often happens, they were forgotten. And, as you know, unfortunately, in this world for enrichment, nobility is not the most faithful ally. From them turned up their noses those who have got riches far from their nobility and honor. They also could not boast of the antiquity of their kind, but only the width of their pockets. And now people like her father were out of the court.

Winter, winter

She looked at the ugly old man, and revulsion pierced her heart. He looked at her with his fishy, cold eyes and she said yes. Now he is her husband. A thought flashed through my head, and like a wounded bird plunged into darkness.

They were sitting at a beautifully set silver table. The morning was lovely. The birds chirped happily and a fragrant breeze blew from the open window. She looked down at the omelet, trying to pretend she was eating. Thoughts swirled in a string of tangled chains, wedding night memories, burning her brain. Cold, dry and rough hands on his skin, and such a disgusting smell of his body. Somewhere there, in the depths of her soul, something broke and fell into a bottomless abyss, black and cold, the same as this night. The memory stabbed with almost physical pain in her temple, as if a shot echoed somewhere inside her heart. She tightened her grip on the fork. And then, long-term use of a sponge and water. She rubbed herself so hard, trying to wash off his touch that her skin turned red. Well, then. Oh, nightmare! His presence is near and his smell is so unpleasant. Her whole being was filled with disgust for him, for her father, for the whole world! So she lay on the edge of the bed until day touched the window. His voice brought her out of the cold memory like a slap in the face. She shuddered involuntarily.

My dear. He said.

Do you like breakfast?

I see you are not eating anything.

So what good are you weakening. But, an exhausted woman, he continued, cannot bear healthy children.

Children? Horror gripped her in a cold grip, and it became difficult for her to breathe.

Children! His children! The very thought that inside her womb there would be a particle of him, this person, led her to indescribable horror. Her stomach ached and she thought she was going to vomit.

But keeping her composure, she looked at him coldly and answered.

That she doesn’t have such a hearty breakfast in her habits and promised that at lunchtime she would definitely be hungry and eat everything.

I hope, I hope. He answered.

Breakfast was finally finished.

She never ate a bite.

He got up and said that he was going on a horse ride to go around the estate. She replied that she was tired and would stay at home. He went to the exit and already at the door suddenly turned and said.

My dear.

How lucky you are! You are now Madame de Brese!

Even yesterday, you could not imagine and hope for such a great success in your life! He said to her, curling his thin lips into a semblance of a smile, and left.

And she remained standing humiliated and insulted to the depths of her soul by his words. Only her eyes for a moment flashed with a yellow fire and somewhere far away, in the very depths, lit up with burning hatred for the retreating figure of the Comte de Molvrier.

She clenched her little fists so tightly that her nails dug into her skin and drops of blood oozed from the wounds. And the heart seemed to sink into emptiness and stopped beating forever.

Winter, winter!

Everything outside the window dressed in white clothes and ruined the already not very good roads. A year has passed since her marriage. The count had been absent for over a month. Going to Paris on business. But what the count was doing, everyone knew, perhaps. Despite his almost incredible parsimony, the count was an avid gambler. It is not known how such incompatible qualities as incredible stinginess and a gambler were intertwined in him.

He forced his young wife, who was already pregnant, to walk in indecently patched petticoats for his meager outfits. Diana only had a few decent dresses. Fortunately or unfortunately for her, Diana almost never appeared. Upon learning of her pregnancy, she fell into deep melancholy, secretly hoping for a miscarriage. The pregnancy was difficult. She was even paler than usual and had dark circles under her eyes. The contractions began unexpectedly. She felt pain, bending over, groaned. She understood what had begun. The servant who was with her came running to her call. The maid screamed, waving her arms.

Oh, you’re giving birth, madam! Oh oh! She repeated.

The maid helped her to the bed.

They sent for an experienced midwife who took on more than one birth. Enough time passed, and the Countess gave birth.

Everything turned out well, she gave birth to a girl.

Madam, it’s a girl. The midwife said. She wanted to bring the baby to her mother.

Take it away, came the dull voice of the Countess. Take it away, Diana repeated, hoarsely.

Get her away from me, she repeated. Not wanting to look at the child. The old woman was taken aback. Diana, white as death itself, with blue lips, repeated breathlessly.

Take it away! I told you!

But what about, madam? The beginning was an old woman. The Countess sat up in bed, pale with tangled hair, her eyes widening. She looked at the child with full eyes, it seemed of some kind of horror.

Take her away! She repeated it firmly, turning away from her daughter.

Find a wet nurse, let them bring a woman here. Do you understand me?! She gave the order to the maid holding the crying child. His scream cut her to pieces like a knife, but she did not look in his direction.

Come on already! She cried out, unable to bear this agony any longer.

Leave me alone. Finally, she said softly, as if her last strength had left her. The old woman and the maid did not move, not yet recovering from her words.

Go ahead! She screamed at them, pulling them out of their stupor. Finally, they left, taking the child with them.

A week passed, she was sitting by the large fireplace, wrapped in a large woolen blanket, and her eyes fixed on the window. She looked at the coldness of nature, the frosty patterns of the world. She has not seen her daughter since her birth. I only asked the servant how a child was and whether she was healthy. The nurse was quickly found, it was a pink-cheeked, healthy woman. The Countess ordered the servant who entered the room to be called.

After a while a woman waddled into the room with a brisk gait. She stopped next to the Countess. Diana looked from the window to the woman and asked her in a quiet, calm voice.

How is my daughter?

Madam, very good. The woman answered.

Eats for two.

Smiling innocently, she said.

My tomboy is barely enough.

But, I have more than enough milk. She hastened to assure the Countess. Afraid that she might think that she has little milk and will look for a replacement for her.

Would you like to take a look at her? Timidly, she added, looking down.

The Countess sighed wearily.

No, not now, later. She added, thoughtfully.

You can go now. She finished the conversation. Moving again my gaze to the cold landscapes outside the window. The woman waddled to the exit. Suddenly, as if remembering something, Diana called the woman’s name.


The woman turned around.

Thanks, Diana added quietly, and smiled wearily at the nurse. And she answered her with a bright, open, sincere and happy smile. Which only a loving mother who remembered her child has.

What are you talking about, madam. Yes, not at all. She answered good-naturedly and left the room.

Poitier stared at the cold outside the window again, her gaze fixed.

Cold, she thought.

God! So cold! She said barely audibly. Feeling cold inside with all my being.

I have a daughter. Even more quietly, she spoke her thoughts aloud. Not noticing that she is talking to herself.

But why is it so cold?! A thought flashed.

She saw her daughter a month later. They brought her a rosy-cheeked girl, already rounded in the milk of a country woman. She looked at the child, but the cold did not disappear, only her heart pricked, as if it had been pierced with a thin needle. The girl smiled at her mother, the countess smiled back at her. The baby looked at her as if she knew that she was her mother. Looking at her with interest, and now and then, touching her with his little hands. After holding the baby in her arms for some time, Diana gave the baby to the nurse. Strange, but the girl suddenly burst into tears, finding herself in the arms of the nurse, as if she knew exactly who her mother was. Diana felt the pain of the needle in her heart again. And then, again, the cold filled her entire being. So the second meeting of mother and daughter took place.

The count returned from Paris.

He was extremely annoyed and dissatisfied.

Why do I need girls?! He repeated.

They’re useless!

I need an heir!

Do you hear, Madam?!

As if she was the fault of the daughter being born instead of her son. Diana raised her eyes, cold and dark as night.

Well, pray to the Lord! Monsieur!

He might hear you! She rapped out coldly.

He looked at her and snorted in displeasure, continuing to mutter something, nervously left the room.

The girl was named Louise.

She was three years old when her sister, who was named Françoise, was born.

Like the eldest daughter, the Countess gave her to the nurse. The count was simply furious. He vomited and thrashed, telling Diana rather rudely.

You give birth to some girls!

You seem to do it for my evil! He blamed her.

I need an heir! He shouted.

No good from you!

You are useless!

Poitiers turned pale, she was tormented by only one desire that he would finally shut up!

Be silent forever!

She wanted to kill him!

Oh yes!

She looked at him and thought how wonderful it would be to never hear him again!

She even imagined how best to do it.

Poison or knife?!

Which is better?

But, Poitiers was incredibly God-fearing and a believer and her thoughts were just thoughts, and perhaps this was the only thing that stopped her from taking such a step.

And she just answered coldly.

You seem to be praying badly for an heir, monsieur! She parried evil.

Their life flowed monotonously and monotonously, the count very often went to Paris. As he spoke on business. Poitiers, it was completely indifferent where he was. He was on the road more often than on his estate. Diana was only glad of this. Years passed. Winter changed imperceptibly to summer. Poitiers saw her grown-up daughters often. The eldest was nine, and the youngest was only six. Both girls were surprisingly very similar to their father. They weren’t very pretty. They had the same delicate features, the same colorless eyes and a thin nose. They took all the facial features from the count. They had almost nothing from Poitiers. They were surprisingly different from their mother, that those who stood next to them could be mistaken for strangers.

Summer shone with colors, the world passed its usual circle. The trees were blooming again, filling the world with the scent of rain mixed with the scent of flowers.

Once, one such beautiful morning, when the girls were walking with the nanny in the garden, and Diana was standing on the large front staircase of the mansion. Her eldest daughter came up to her and asked.

Mom, she said.

Can I ask you something?

Yes, of course, honey. Diana answered.

Mommy, don’t you love us at all? Me and Françoise? The Countess was taken aback by such a question.

The child’s question was incredibly simple. But, she shuddered and froze in place from the surprise of the question. She looked at this not very pretty girl, at her own daughter. And her heart sank so hard in her chest that it seemed to her that she would now cry out in pain. It was as if a cold, bony hand had grabbed him, and, closing his fingers, decided to crush him. Her breath caught and it became difficult for her to breathe, and her eyes were moist, filled with tears. But, they just froze in her eyes, leaving somewhere deep in her soul.

She knelt down next to the child, hugged and hugged her daughter to her, and answered quietly.

Of course, I love you! Her voice was trembling.

Of course I love you!

How can I not love you?! My dear!

You are my children!

How can I not love you?!

How can this possibly be?! She spoke to the girl, stroking her hair.

It just can’t be!

Remember this honey, okay! She whispered softly, kissing the girl on the forehead.

The little arms of the girl put their arms around her neck, and the child happily hugged her mother. Poitiers hugged her daughter tenderly.

Do you really love us, Mom? The girl said naively, hugging her mother.

Of course! Of course dear! Poitiers whispered, trying not to burst into tears and tenderly hugging her daughter.

Poitier got up from her knees and stroked the child’s hair.

Now go my dear.

Look, Françoise and the nanny are waiting for you. She said softly.

The girl smiled, the pure smile of a child, and answered.

Okay, Mom.

Françoise and I love you very much too!

Her little baby, as clean as an angel’s face, became serious.

We love you very much! She added and ran away to the nanny and sister.

Diana waved her hand and turned away, tears streaming down her cheeks, tearing her heart. She had cried for the first time in those years of her unhappy marriage. But, tears flowed from her eyes, not because her daughters might think that their own mother does not love them. She cried because she understood. That she didn’t love them all this time, didn’t love her own children! Like her heart was a piece of ice, nothing more. And only today she realized that this ice had collapsed, causing her incredible pain. She realized it was just now. She still loves them! She cried, realizing what a monster such a woman must be, who did not love her own children! She cried, because only now she realized that it was not so! She went inside the mansion. The realization of all this tore her apart from the inside. She ran so quickly up the steps to her bedroom, as if a pack of dogs from hell were chasing after her, and, collapsing on the bed, burst into sobs, choking with tears and trembling all over. From the very depths of her soul, a sound like a howl escaped. It burst from the very depths of her being, from the most hidden part of her soul.

Little prisoners

Paris, Paris!

How many minds and hearts are thrown at your feet!

How many hearts have you broken!

With its mysterious, heady beauty!

Like a fatal beauty, heady, dangerous, beautiful and mysterious. Calling like an oasis in the desert

Insidious and capricious, in its contradiction.

Calling and repulsive, like a temptress woman. Heart of the world, with the soul of a woman playing with the hearts and lives of her admirers!

So close and earthly, but always so distant, like a star beckoning in the sky!

King of France Francis 1 lost the war to the Spanish monarch. France lost to Spain. Francis, having experienced the bitterness of defeat, being himself twice wounded, was captured. But, negotiations were underway to release the king. Francis signed the Madrid Treaty that dismembered France. But, the king was not going to fulfill his obligations. Except for one thing, to give your sons hostage. Dauphin Francis and his brother Henry the Duke of Orleans. And so, on March 17, the French court, knightly at that time, did not lead the secular, riotous life adopted later. Quite modestly, he gathered in the castle, on the banks of the Bidasson River, where the ceremony of handing over the princes, hostages of Spain, was to take place. They were to be exchanged for the monarch of the state.

This morning the court gathered just to escort the princes into exile, into captivity. It was a foggy, gray morning and the de Brese couple were also present at this farewell departure of the little princes. The entire courtyard gathered in the semi-dark hall of the castle, awaiting the appearance of the princes.

And so they arrived. Announced: «His Highness Dauphin Francis Duke of Breton»! «His brother, Prince Heinrich, Duke of Orleans»! The entire court fell silent, awaiting the arrival of the princes. The door finally opened and two boys entered the hall. The princes were still quite children. The heir to the throne, Francis, was eight years old, and his brother Henry was barely seven years old. The heir to the throne was a blond child with beautiful white curls of hair. The eyes, which, already now, were filled with their own significance. His chin was lifted up proudly.

The entire court bowed to the future king. He responded with a slight nod of his head. His expensive robes with ruffles and bows sparkled with jewels. The feather on the hat bounced upward from his confident step. He paused importantly in the middle of the room.

All the nobles began to approach the prince in turn, welcoming and wishing a successful sailing and a speedy return. The boy nodded back dryly and with dignity. His brother, little Heinrich, was still a child. The two brothers were incredibly even strikingly different from each other, like day and night. And this was undoubtedly the most correct comparison.

Heinrich was a swarthy, black-haired, thin boy with thin legs and protruding knees and large eyes, incredibly black, like a dark lake. He was dressed relatively simply in comparison with his brother. Poitiers greeted the heir to the French crown, like the others, and stepped aside to make way for the others. Her husband found a group of men and talked about something with them, leaving Diana alone. She stood and looked at this blond child, but already almost the king and understood that these unfortunate children were going to distant Spain as captives and might not return. And suddenly she noticed little Heinrich. He stood aside quietly and alone. His face was frowned. He tried to be brave, but fear was clearly visible in his eyes. Her heart sank. She realized that Heinrich was simply forgotten. After all, he is only the second son of the king. Nobody came up and greeted him. No one wished him a good sail. Nobody cheered, hoping for a quick return. She felt so sorry for the unfortunate child that in this outburst of compassion she went to him through the crowd. She came up to him, squatting in a curtsy and greeted him. The child shuddered and looked at her in dismay. But, after a minute, he made a serious face and nodded importantly in response to her greeting. And suddenly she was seized with such compassion and pity for this abandoned, forgotten child that tears welled up in her eyes. And forgetting about all decency, she knelt down and hugged the boy to her, hugging him.

You’re scared, I know. She said softly to him, holding his shoulders. It seemed that the boy was about to cry. But, he held back his tears, and only slightly sobbed, looking at her. She continued.

Don’t be afraid! Nothing will happen to you! I promise you!

You must be strong! Do you hear me?

I will pray for you!

Know that there is a heart here in France that prays for you and your return.

The boy stopped sniffing and calmed down. Hope and faith in her words lit up in the children’s eyes. It seems that his fear has really disappeared. She got up from her knees and again crouched down in a curtsy away from him. The boy became serious again.

The princes were seated in the boat, and she slowly began to disappear into the fog, carrying them into the unknown. Diana and the entire courtyard stood on the shore. She raised her hand and waved goodbye to them. Male


Black clouds are hanging over the de Brese estate. A cold, gray morning slipped from the sky like a drizzling rain. Making the world around us dull gray. The priest continued to speak over the cold, black burial hole in the de Brese family crypt. Finally, he finished his speech. The black hole with the body of the count was covered with a gravestone with a grinding noise. As if it had been swallowed by the toothless mouth of a monster. Diana stood over her husband’s grave. She was dressed in black mourning clothes and from this her already white face seemed almost unnaturally white. She gazed silently at the grave. The smell of the damp earth of the crypt, mixed with the smell of musty and dead body, hit my nose. It was the smell of death. Her daughters stood by. People pushed the stone, hiding the body of the count forever. The farewell of the living to the dead was over. She and her daughters returned to her mansion. The count’s funeral was completely exhausted by her constant visits and condolences. She was so tired that she collapsed into a chair by the fireplace. Her gaze involuntarily settled on the door. And suddenly, she understood. He will never go through this door again! Her husband is dead! And now she is a widow. She thought.

And then another thought rushed into her head.

No! She is not a widow! She is free! Free! From eternal humiliation. From his presence. From the smell of it in my bed. From his eternal discontent. She is free! The thought burned through the brain.

Free! As if reveling in the thought, she thought.

And the heart suddenly shuddered with joy for many years for the first time and unexpectedly for herself, revived. Her eyes suddenly flashed with fire, sparkled and lit up with life. As if she had been dead until that day. She abruptly got up from the chair in which she was sitting and almost ran to the window, throwing it wide open with a sharp movement. Fresh air burst into the room, outside the window was the same gloomy weather, it was damp, and it was drizzling with rain. She smelled the smell of rain mixed with the smell of wet earth and breathed in this life-giving scent deeply, closing her eyes in pleasure. She whispered delightedly, as if she had seen this world for the first time.

What a delightful day!

A smile lit up her face for a long time. Another thought came, replacing delight.

I’ll put up a monument! From a big, heavy stone! She smiled wider. Not noticing that he is speaking out loud.

I’ll erect a monument for you, Monsieur de Brese!

And I hope its weight will crush your bones in your crypt!

She almost cried out and her eyebrows came together menacingly on the bridge of her nose. And a picture from the past appeared before her eyes. As if it was only yesterday, and his voice is cutting, like a knife through her heart, with every word the count said.

How lucky you are, dear. You are now Countess de Brese. Her eyes flashed with fire. Excited by the memory, she continued to speak aloud.

I’ll put up a monument for you!

To make sure that if you want to get out of there, he will block your way! She finished contemptuously.

It will be very big! She added. Having finished his involuntary speech, and not noticing that he is speaking aloud to himself. Sighing with even greater pleasure deeply the scent of a chilly day.

The monument was surprisingly very large and heavy, it was hardly erected. When the workers finished with the installation, she let them go and was left alone at the count’s grave.

She spoke quietly, her appeal was to the count. As if the deceased count could hear her.

Hope you like your monument?

I hope monsieur! She added with a furrowed brow and sparkling eyes in a barely audible, trembling voice.

I hope he crushes you in your crypt! If you suddenly intend to get out of there, then this block will close your way!

A nervous shiver went through her, and her breathing became ragged with hatred for him. She began to breathe heavily, her lips tightened and turned blue. And the fists clenched and dug their nails into the meat. And suddenly, in a fit of deep hatred for him. She couldn’t help herself and spat on his grave.

That’s all you deserve from me! She cried out, straightening up. As if she finally got up from her knees over the years. And exhaling with relief, she added calmly and contemptuously.

This is all you deserve from the unworthy of you, Monsieur de Brise!

Hope you get devoured by worms!

She shot her gaze like a dagger at the monument. As if checking once again at the end, whether it is so strong and great. And making sure that this is so, proudly throwing her chin up, she turned sharply and walked firmly away. She never looked back.

Now sorting out her affairs, Poitiers realized that her husband had left her and her children nothing! He not only left them no funds, but also left exorbitant debts! Having laid the same and their estate. Everything was lost to them in gambling. The amounts of the debt were large and if it is not paid, then she and her children may simply lose everything. Including the estate. She was sitting in the office on the table and on the floor there were invoices, debt papers and papers on the estate pledged for debts. She couldn’t believe it. She sat silently resting her head on her hand. Things were nowhere worse.

What should she do?!

Where will she go after losing her estate?!

Where will her children be?!

What will happen to them?!

Despite the cold to her daughters, she still loved them. Always trying to take care of them, give them proper education and upbringing.

And most of all she was worried about the fact that having lost the estate, the girls will not be able to sanctify a good marriage party.

God! Who will need them?! Poitiers thought in despair.

Who will marry them?! If the world learns about their almost complete bankruptcy!

Besides, the poor things weren’t pretty anyway.

Among other problems with the estate, dark clouds soon thickened over her beloved father. He was accused of conspiracy and, along with other conspirators, was imprisoned. He could face execution. But, the full accusation had not yet been brought forward, which means there was hope.

She sat gloomy and lonely in the office, once again looking at the papers. As if desperately hoping to find a way out, hoping for a miracle.

What should I do?! Oh my God! She escaped desperately. The situation seemed hopeless. She was completely desperate. Putting her head in her hands, she sat there without moving and staring at one point. How long she sat like that, she did not know, but suddenly she shuddered. She was seized with anger at herself for her weakness and inaction.

Something needs to be done!

We must go to Paris! Suddenly she spoke out loud, talking to herself.

To Paris, to the king!

No one else can help me, only the king! She finished resolutely.

But, the question arose. How? And then, she remembered. She decided to seek help from a lady. She remembered that this lady was a noble, but long impoverished family and therefore was attached to the retinue of one incredibly wealthy and noble 60-year-old widow. With a high rank and an equally large pocket. Who with all her might tried to rejuvenate and spent a lot of money on outfits, blush and jewelry. And she gathered around her a lot of noblewomen in her retinue, thereby showing everyone her high position. They, for a certain fee, showed her their admiration and did not skimp on flattering praise. The widow loved to be in society and at court. Poitiers immediately wrote a letter to her friend asking her to recommend her for a place in the retinue. The answer came quickly. The answer was: «That Poitiers may soon arrive and will undoubtedly be the adornment of the retinue and the widow will gladly accept her.» Then there were other secular news and courtesies. The letter ended with the fact that she would be eagerly awaited. Leaving orders at the estate, Poitiers left after a few days and was accepted for her new place for weeks.

The widow turned out to be a plump little 60-year-old woman with overly rosy cheeks, the reason for which was the widow’s very great passion for blush and an equally great predominance of powder.

Why her face was white as a sheet. In all her strange appearance and image, she resembled an owl hung with jewels. She had a special passion and love for them, hanging herself with them so wastefully that she resembled a Christmas tree.

Once, having stayed with one of the ladies of the widow’s retinue in the old lady’s room, the girls saw a beautiful necklace with diamonds on the dressing table of an elderly lady. The stones were of amazing beauty and purity. Sunlight fell on the beautiful stones, and they sparkled with thousands of lights. The girl who was with Poitiers gasped with delight! She said with admiration, addressing Diana.

My God! Darling, look what a delightful beauty! God! What shine!

They cost a fortune!

She did not take her admiring eyes off the stones. Poitiers looked at the stones, sparkling in the sun, and suddenly the wrinkled neck of the widow, turning into an equally wrinkled face, and diamonds hanging from that old withered neck appeared in front of her eyes. And the diamonds suddenly faded in her eyes and went out. She simply answered.

My dear, their brilliance does not disturb my heart.

She smiled at the girl, who raised her eyebrows in surprise.

You are definitely a strange woman! She answered. Not believing Diana.

God! Do you really care! She said, puzzled.

Poitier just smiled back at her.

And now, finally, what happened to her came to the widow’s estate. They are leaving for Paris!

Chapter 2



The era changes the era and the court no longer lead the puritanical life that it had before. The current courtyard was different. Fun and carelessness reigned everywhere. Morals have also become different. Husbands easily got mistresses, and wives were not inferior to them in this either. Carelessness was everywhere in dress, manners, poetry and paintings.

So the Countess de Brese was leaving for Paris. Hoping to meet the king. And, since the king was known as a lover of women and did not miss simply not one pretty, new lady who appeared at the court. That meeting with him was not so difficult.

So, she’s on her way to Paris. She is still young and beautiful, and she knew for sure that she was not going to Paris, but to the king. Because only the king could help her rescue her father from prison and pardon her from imminent execution, as well as save her from almost complete bankruptcy. She got into the carriage and they started. She sighed with sadness, thinking how far and possibly for a long time she would leave her beloved Dauphine.

And now, finally! He appeared before her eyes! Conqueror of hearts, eternal heartthrob, Paris!

Their carriage was driving along the stone, wide pavement. It was noisy and crowded around. The carriages, passers-by, everything seemed to be intertwined and mixed. Richly dressed ladies and gentlemen. Scurrying in different directions Parisian tomboy boys. Various small shops and elegant, richly decorated, expensive shops. And, also, all kinds of eateries and bakeries. From which the smell of freshly baked bread hung in the air. The girls from the noble widow’s retinue stuck their lovely heads out of the carriage windows with delight and delight, absorbing the Parisian bustle. Some young and handsome officer in military uniform, riding a gallant stallion, smiled at them and blew a kiss. The ladies smiled coquettishly. Poitiers raised an eyebrow and leaned back into the carriage.

However! What audacity! She thought, but one corner of her lips treacherously crept up. And she imperceptibly smiled only at them. Noticing to myself, however, that the officer, nevertheless, is very handsome.

They stayed at the Parisian home of a godly widow. The admission to the court was supposed to take place the next day. They will go to the royal palace, which was the funniest and most beautiful place in all of France.

The next day has come and here the king’s palace opened before her amazed gaze. The palace was surrounded by a beautiful garden, it smelled fragrant and bloomed with thousands of flowers, rustled and sparkled in the sun with rainbows from beautiful fountains, rustled with many voices, cheerfully laughing flirtatious ladies and their gentlemen amused. Everything mixed into a single music along with the singing of birds. The garden around the palace was full of beautifully dressed people. The festive, main entrance to the residence was framed by gilded gates, like a gateway to heaven itself on earth. Graceful carriages, drawn by magnificent horses, drove up one after another. Poitiers lowered her little foot to the ground and climbed down from the carriage. Unexpectedly for her, she suddenly smiled, so beautiful was the picture that appeared before her. Everything sparkled and shone in the sun with incredible colors. Her gaze rested on the fragile, as it seemed structure, the royal palace. And she was so delighted with his beauty that she froze for a moment. The palace was so graceful that it seemed to be made not of stone, but of an air cloud. He seemed to be hovering over a beautiful garden. He was so airy and graceful. The ladies from the retinue surrounded the widow and, in a noisy flock of chirping birds, went along the path to the park of the palace. Expressing your delight with noisy sighs and cheerful laughter. The park was full of beautiful ladies dressed in the latest fashion. Flashing with jewels and smiles, they were laughing merrily at something. What their equally well-dressed gentlemen told them stormily. And over all this, careless fun reigned. Seeing this entire splendor. Diana suddenly realized that her outfit from her meager wardrobe had long gone out of fashion. It was her widow’s dress, the only new black dress. It was too puritanical and constrained, and the neckline was not as deep as the current fashionistas wore. And her whole appearance was too constrained in comparison with the current fashion. The headdress turned out to be also modest, in comparison with the headdresses of the court ladies decorated with stones and beautiful feathers. Poitiers involuntarily became sad from these thoughts and her attire darker than the night. She seemed to fall out in such sad attire from this cheerful society full of fun, carelessness and laughter. In addition, in her own Dauphin, she did not wear headdresses at all. But, in Paris, it would be considered bad form, and she would undoubtedly be called for her eyes, a redneck. Therefore, she put on a headdress. But, he terribly interfered with her and did not want to stay on her head at all. She had to correct him every now and then so that he would not fly off her head. Upset by the fact that she does not fit into today’s society. Her sadness was replaced by anger. She furrowed her brows in anger at herself and at her momentary weakness. She forgot why she came here?! Intoxicated with the fun here! A picture of her beloved father in a damp dungeon appeared before her eyes, and she frowned even more, stamping her foot in her hearts!

What do I care about these stupid feathers, lace and outfits! She thought evil.

After all, I can always refer to my position as a widow.

And a widow shouldn’t flaunt her discharged clothes! She thought.

Further, whatever it was, she continued her thoughts and frowned even more.

I will still procure a pardon from the king for my father and forgiveness of my debts for the estate.

Will I wear those stupid feathers? Angry, she thought.

Or in this black widow’s dress.

I don’t care!

And she really stamped her foot heavily, exhaling and snorting contemptuously, like a horse coming first to the finish line. Throwing her chin up proudly, her walked slowly and confidently to the other ladies.

Not today, then tomorrow. She thought.

I will definitely meet the king!

He was not very tall, dressed in a suit of bows and ruffles, studded with jewelry. Protruding abdomen and crooked legs. And a smile that did not seem to disappear from his face, especially if there are beautiful ladies nearby! An old widow saw the king from afar. He was surrounded by a large retinue, which consisted mostly of pretty ladies. The noble widow, bustling and jumping up, hurried to the king. Waddling on her small and clumsy legs, clattering rings and other jewelry, which, as always, she was wearing in excess. Her ladies followed her. Approaching the king, she stopped and sat awkwardly in a deep curtsy to greet the king. Her ladies followed her example. The king smiled warmly and asked.

Madam, where have you been? I haven’t seen you for a long time? He said. And without waiting for her answer, he began to examine the widow’s retinue with interest. He passed appraising, almost like a cat’s gaze at the sight of sour cream at the ladies from the suite. And each of them, smiling, lowered her eyes, flirtatiously exposing her charms and squatting in an elegant curtsy. And so, his gaze fell on Poitiers. He already wanted to pass them on to the remaining ladies. But, Poitiers did not lower her eyes and did not rush to squat in a curtsy, keeping a pause. She glared at the king’s eyes like invisible pincers. He was surprised at such, almost insolence, and slightly raised an eyebrow. Her eyes, dark as lakes, grabbed him, not letting go. A minute passed, or just a moment, but the king did not take his eyes off her. And suddenly a slight smile lit up her face, illuminating her face with a beautiful light. And as if remembering, she slowly lowered her eyes, and gracefully sat down in a curtsy. Skillfully exposing her white, thin neck. Transforming into a seductive chest shape, this, unfortunately for the king, was hidden behind the fabric of the dress. And only his imagination completed this picture. Diana raised her eyes, waving her black, like fluttering butterflies, eyelashes. And, as if bashfully, she glanced again at the king. Hidden fire flashed in her eyes. She wanted to put them down again, but the king had already stepped towards her to meet!

Stand up, my dear, he said. Looking at her with interest. He held out his hand to her, and she rose from her curtsy.

What’s your name? The sweetest creature.

This is Madame de Brese. An old widow intervened. Proud that her lady aroused such interest from the king.

This is my new lady, your majesty. She continued.

The poor thing was recently widowed. Added an old lady.

Ah, said the king.

What sadness, madam.

Now it’s clear why you’re in black.

He smiled with satisfaction. He was not at all saddened by the news of the deceased husband of a beautiful lady, by no means, on the contrary. He again looked at her not deep cleavage and white neck. Already anticipating and seeing these delights in my bed. She lowered her eyes again, feigning embarrassment. But, at all, not embarrassed in the depths of the soul. She went to the king and here she is! Her cold head, at times, did not know embarrassment. Diana was a whole person. And she knew exactly why she was here and what for! Everything else was great game! And Poitiers performed this role superbly! Excellent reading in the souls of people. She always had this talent, almost mystical, to see through everyone. So now, she saw right through the king and made a challenge to him. This monarch, spoiled by female attention, was so oversaturated with beauties in his own bed that simply beauty was not enough for him. Even the beauty of such a beauty as Poitiers. She made a kind of challenge to the king. Remaining to stand, as if equal to him, and not bowing to the king at the first minute. And he undoubtedly noticed it. He undoubtedly saw the challenge in her burning eyes. And it was a risk! The king could be annoyed by this behavior. And, kings, as you know, not only pardon, but also execute! She could fall into no mercy, and lose her last hope for the salvation of her father and the salvation of her estate. But, Poitiers took a chance! And she won! She saw it in his eyes right now! The king was captivated by her beauty and courage, he was simply fascinated by her. Walking his eyes over her body, as if exposing her, he remained very pleased with his assessment.

After kissing her hand for a meaningful long time. Showing her and everyone present his interest. Diana met his eyes again, completing her result, bewitching the king. Fire flashed in her eyes again. As if lights were dancing in them, and pleasant goosebumps ran over Francis’s skin, promising a quick meeting. Having said goodbye to her, the old widow and her ladies, he withdrew, surrounded by his retinue.

Confusion lay in the royal chambers. The king stood naked, erect, importantly, on his crooked legs and looked out the window. Poitiers has been the king’s favorite for some time.

Ah, what a day!

What a wonderful day! He was chanting, almost jumping up and down with good spirits.

She looked at him. And she felt funny.

Here he is, the king! The man who ruled all of France! A little funny, not tall with a round bulging tummy on crooked little legs. He looked like a lazy house cat. Yes! Diana thought. This is the king! She smiled.

Who would have thought!

The most powerful man in the country! Freeing her father and writing off her debts!

Returning her estate to her, this cost him absolutely nothing. He looked more like Santa Claus, always cheerful and carefree like Francis. So Poitiers thought as she looked at the king

And in the morning there is a thick wallet on the table. He sat next to me and waved his leg contentedly.

Darling, this is a trinket for you. Dresses and pebbles, which women you are very fond of, as far as I know. He said good-naturedly. And after kissing her, singing something under his breath, he went out with his cheerful, almost jumping, gait. Her face, always so white, was covered in purple paint. She stared silently at the purse like an ugly snake. He left her this money on the table, like the last slut in France!

The color on my face changed to pallor. He also hinted to her that her dress was too dark for her new status as a favorite. Her heart sank with resentment and hurt pride.

Well, okay, your majesty! Thought Poitiers.

I will take your advice and your money.

Offended by his words, hinting at her inappropriate outfit for the king’s favorite, she went for a new outfit. And she acquired all the best and most expensive that she found in Paris. However, she did not abandon her idea of a widow. And she acquired a dress of dark blue color, the color of a gloomy fierce sea or a sea storm. And for the dress, the finest headdress, in the latest fashion, with beautiful stones and feathers. Also gloves and shoes that were in the same color as the dress. Wearing all this, she proudly threw her chin up, looking at her reflection in the mirror. A woman so gorgeous was looking at her from there that she caught her breath.

A white, thin neck, deep seductive neckline, seductively emphasized a beautiful rounded and lush breast. Sloping marble shoulders, an incredibly thin corset waist. The fluffy hem of the dress fell down from the waist, like a beautiful, sparkling waterfall of flounces and ruffles. The long hem of her dress enveloped her figure, as if the waves of a stormy sea were enveloping a beautiful statue. She gasped at her own reflection.

Having experienced an almost awe-inspiring bliss from the realization of one’s own beauty! She put on a headdress and gloves, and her image was completely complete. The headpiece was studded with beautiful stones and blue iridescent feathers, and the look was completed with beautiful sapphire earrings that made her white face even whiter, as if it were made of beautiful marble.

Her eyes sparkled like stars in the sky. Once again, looking at herself in the mirror, she proudly threw her head up. She was great and she knew it!

Yes, Your Majesty, I followed your advice!

And she had to admit that she was even grateful to him for it now!

The war between the two ladies

But, their relationship was not long. Francis was very careless, and Poitiers was too cold, he thought. And if at first, he liked it. Then, in the end, not being a man of deep thoughts and feelings, this cold beauty of Poitiers simply bored him. Being a lover of women, he quickly cooled down towards Poitiers.

One day, while walking with her through the avenues of the palace, he told her.

My dear, how beautiful you are.

You are undoubtedly a fragrant, blossoming rose.

But, I picked such a beautiful, unopened bud!

That I am incredibly captivated by his scent.

I hope you will forgive me for such weakness and rightly you will not be angry. He finished smiling, pleased with his poetic comparisons and with himself.

After kissing her hand, he walked away. He was still humming to himself, out of habit. She, of course, understood everything! With these words, the king told her that he had found a new lady, whom he was carried away once again. He undoubtedly offended Poitiers very much, calling her in a poetic form older than his new passion, comparing it with a blossoming rose, and a new passion with a bud. Saying at the same time that his new passion is younger than Poitiers.

I wonder who is this bud of yours? Your majesty. Snorting contemptuously, Poitiers thought.

The bud was Madame de Tamp. Poitier, knowing who it was, curled her lips, pursed them and snorted contemptuously like a thoroughbred horse.

So you think I’m old?! Your majesty. Poitiers thought as she watched the retreating king.

And I’m not talking about you at all, your majesty!

Disgusting, bow-legged old man! She added.

Squinting evil eyes, pursing and curling his lips even tighter. Feeling how everything inside her boils, with anger. Thinking of a king who was far from young and much older than Poitiers herself. If the gaze could kill, then the retreating figure of the king would fall dead!

She snorted with even greater relish, narrowing her eyes, and they flashed with unkind fire.

The bud was a young and rather attractive Mademoiselle de Tempe. She was really good, as Diana pointed out. Seeing this beautiful, blond girl. Her corset seemed to be tightened so tightly that she was probably carrying snuff with her, Poitier thought to herself. Afraid, at any moment she would faint from lack of air. Diana thought with a chuckle.

De Tamp was as white as only blondes. With a thin, as if transparent, with a pink tint and a slight blush of youth itself, the skin. They disliked their friend’s arcs at first sight.

But, the war, which was dubbed «The War of the Two Ladies,» started de Tamp, who was 10 years younger than Poitiers. And so her adherents began to talk about the faded beauty of Poitiers. Even poets and artists took part in this strife.

Diana was called a witch at court. Because, despite her years, she was surprisingly good. And even the younger maidens next to her looked very faded. They said about her that she knows the secret of some ointments and remedies. Especially infuriated by these rumors the Duchess de Tamp, who considers herself the first beauty. The fruit of this hatred became silly rhymes, pamphlets in which poets from her camp ridiculed Diane de Poitiers. Calling her: «Toothless and hairless, an old horse and a mushroom, which owes its appearance only to cosmetics.» On the instructions of de Tamp, more than one disgusting pamphlet offending Diana was written.

The pamphlets wrote: «Women cannot be reborn. Because those whom time has chosen to use, along with time, go out of use. Painted bait does not attract game. And even if you bought everything a woman needs. I would not have achieved what I wanted from a lover, because for love you have to be alive! And you are dead! This, undoubtedly, was completely untrue, and not as it could not harm Diana.

Because she looked no older than de Tamp herself, even though she was much older in years. Moreover, Poitiers could not be called a painted doll, since she used very little cosmetics. All this, of course, was a lie! Because Diana was undoubtedly beautiful. And these pamphlets only angered Poitiers terribly. She had no intention of forgetting or forgiving de Tamp. She swore to herself, to avenge the filth for the dirty trick! Poitier’s answer was not long in coming. Poets, in the Poitiers camp, and there were very few of them. They wrote response pamphlets to de Tamp «About too tightly tightened de Tamp’s corset and too out of proportion to the head. Its imperfect skull resembles an elongated egg. «The entire courtyard was divided into two camps. So the artist Primaticchio, all the time painted the Duchess de Tamp. His paintings were adornments of the royal gallery. And Benvenuto Cellini chose the beautiful Diana as a model. So, the war of poets and artists has begun! Which was full of barbs and comparisons, cleverly hidden in poetry, but so clearly hinting at this or that lady. War of two beauties!


Diana, having lost the king’s favor. She was practically alone in the circle of not many supporters. Whereas de Tempe, being the king’s favorite. She had the disposition of most of the courtiers. Her supporters caught her every word. Admiring her talents and beauty. Throwing in the direction of Poitiers malicious taunts and derision. But, Poitiers passing by the crowd of courtiers and hearing nasty things say in her back, did not even raise an eyebrow. They spoke deliberately so loudly that she could hear. Openly taunting her.

And then one morning Diana was walking in the garden. Not in a very good mood. The headdress on her head, as always, interfered with her. He didn’t want to stay on her head. Diana, in turn, simply could not stand them. This morning she was very annoyed, and the headdress disturbed her especially. Poitiers corrected him endlessly. She tugged at him somehow awkwardly; trying to correct him again and accidentally tore him up. The beads and precious stones sewn to it came off and rolled down into the grass like a hail.

Oh damn it! She swore inwardly.

She didn’t have the funds for new gems right now. Therefore, looking around like a thief and not noticing anyone nearby, she sank down to the grass, crouching down. And-oh-horror! She took off her glove and began to look for precious stones in the grass, collecting them. Hoping to later give them back to the seamstress, carried away by this occupation. Suddenly I heard a voice behind my back. The voice belonged to a man.

Have you lost something, madam? He asked.

She froze in horror.

Oh my god! She was scared.

She climbs with her hand in the grass, and there is no glove on her hand!

It was all the height of indecency!

Unworthy behavior of a lady of her position!

And now they’ll definitely call her a redneck!

And the vile de Tamp will write another vile pamphlet. This is undoubtedly! Diana thought about all this, frightened. She slowly and not boldly turned her head to the voice, remaining to sit over the flower bed. And she saw a handsome young man towering over her. He was a little dark and dark-haired. He looked at her with attentive eyes, black as night. He was dressed relatively simply, and she breathed a sigh of relief. Perhaps this young man came with someone’s retinue. Accompany some noble and wealthy courtier. So with de Tamp, he may not know. He smiled sweetly at her when he saw her frightened and confused look. She answered him awkwardly with an embarrassed smile.

He repeated the question.

Madam, have you lost something?

Oh, she replied, naively.

Pebbles fell off my headdress.

I tugged at it awkwardly and they fell into the grass. She finished naively, smiling wider at him.

Can I help you? He simply answered. And without waiting for her answer, he sat down next to her, began to diligently collect pebbles, swarming in the grass.

Seems like everything. He said, handing her all the pebbles he had collected.

She held out her little dirt-stained pen. Businesslike before this, brushing off his soiled hand on his other hand. He silently watched her actions. Seeing this, his eyebrows went up slowly. She smiled at him even wider and took the pebbles, busily putting them in a bag and putting on gloves, as if nothing had happened.

Oh! Thank God! Poitiers thought. It turned out to be this sweet young man, and not someone else. And nobody will know anything!

What are you doing here? She began the conversation with a question, so as not to be silly not to be silent.

I write poetry. Simple, he replied.

Poems? Poitiers was surprised, looking at the young man with interest and more closely.

What about you? He answered, question to question.

I haven’t seen you here before.

However, I only recently returned, he added.

You must have appeared in my absence.

She looked at him with interest.

So you’ve been at court long enough? Here in Paris? She asked the following question.

Well, you could say long enough. Smiling, he answered.

Oh yes, and how do you find it here? She asked.

He put on a sour expression, smiling. The answer is simple.

Pretty boring.

She laughed loudly.

You’re joking right!

You’re bored in the funniest place in all of France!

He gave her a big smile, enjoying her amusement.

So you write poetry? She continued.

Yes, he replied. Suddenly becoming serious.

Would you like to read it to you? He asked suddenly.

Yes, of course, Poitiers answered with interest.

He read the verse. It was about a butterfly and a rose. Diana listened intently to him. He finished reading.

Well, how do you like it? He asked. You like?

Yes, she answered honestly. You definitely have a good syllable.

But I think they seem to be missing something. Something I think is important. She added, thoughtfully.

What then? He asked with interest.

She continued just as thoughtfully, looking into the distance.

You see a flower and a butterfly, its gentle flutter. But, you don’t look further, deeper. To the very depth.

A month will pass and the rose will wither. And this butterfly will also die, its time is short. She spoke, still thoughtfully. Moving your gaze to the beautiful rose. She was silent, for a moment, and as if breathing air with a slight smile, she added.

But, the next year will come and the rose will be reborn and bloom. And the butterfly will also flutter over the rose. She finished speaking. I looked him straight in the eyes; they were the depth of the ocean. I would say this:

«Two roses will lie at the foot of the marble.

Butterflies will fly up to them carelessly.

Is it too early for us to despair?

We will be forever»!

She finished smiling. Her eyes seemed to sparkle with genuine joy. The young man looked at her with his black, pensive eyes and was silent. He was very serious. Finally, he spoke. Slowly not taking his eyes off her.

Yes, you’re right. I think I understand. Something was really missing.

She suddenly remembered that she had to go a long time ago. Find the old widow, in whose retinue she was still a member. She completely forgot about her, carried away by a conversation with a young man.

Forgive me, but I need to leave you. She told him.

I’ll show you. The young man answered.

She said she seemed to be lost and could not find the old widow she was a member of. She said the lady’s name and he laughed.

Ah, this is that old owl-like lady who loves jewelry so much. He said smiling.

She laughed heartily, amused.

So you noticed the similarities too. She sang in her beautiful voice, continuing to laugh. And this is exactly what Poitiers called the old widow.

Yes, he replied, laughing in turn. Getting infected with her laughter and fun.

I think I saw her. Come, I will take you, if you will, and he gallantly offered her his hand.

And they walked slowly down the alley, talking about poetry. Diana suddenly saw the hated Mademoiselle de Tamp. Diana stopped and her brows slowly drew together on the bridge of her nose. He also stopped, looking in the direction of Poitiers, that is, at de Tamp. She turned her head and looked at him and suddenly asked.

Don’t you find this lady very beautiful?

He looked at her and answered calmly.

It seems to me that her corset is too tight and she will even faint, so she probably abuses blush so as not to give out the pallor of her face.

There is nothing interesting in this lady for me. He replied, looking at Diana smiling.

I think the fairest lady of all the fairest is standing next to me right now. He smiled at her again.

She looked at him suspiciously. Trying to look into his very soul, into his eyes black as night, suspecting him of flattery. But, he looked at her with an honest and open look. He really seemed to say what he thought.

Oh, what a nice young man he is! Thoughts jumped in Poitiers’ head, joyfully.

She was ready to kiss him on both cheeks. She smiled at him sincerely. He reached out again and offered his hand to her. They continued on their way down the alley, when in the distance she recognized the silhouette of the old widow. They headed towards her, where she stood surrounded by her ladies. Poitiers suddenly remembered.

Oh my god! We didn’t even introduce ourselves. And she smiled at him apologetically.

Diana. Diana de Brese.

Yes, I know. He answered with a smile.

Heinrich, madam, at your service.

You know?! She was surprised.

But, I didn’t have time to say anything else, as they almost approached the standing ladies. He did not have time to fully introduce himself. They were interrupted by an old widow who saw them and quickly walked towards them. She was already next to them, out of breath. She stopped next to them, froze for a moment in place and, as if recollecting herself, sat down in a deep curtsy, greeting Diana’s companion. Her ladies followed her example. Poitiers was taken aback by surprise. After all, only kings and all the offspring of royal blood are greeted with a deep curtsy. Heinrich smiled at the ladies with his sweet smile and answered them with a bow of his head, greeting them.

Madam, what a pleasure to see you here again. He turned to the old lady.

I have brought your seemingly lost lady to you.

Ah, thanks! I didn’t think Madame de Brese was lost. The old widow answered.

Always at your service, madam. Heinrich answered.

With your permission, I have to leave you now. Heinrich said to the widow.

Saying goodbye to her and the ladies nodding his head gallantly. He looked at Diana, smiling at her. He kissed her hand goodbye, barely touching her thin skin with his lips.

I hope we’ll see you soon. And let’s talk again about poetry. I’ll look forward to it, he told her.

She smiled back at him in utter confusion. Still not understanding the old widow’s behavior, and surprised by her venerable curtsy. He said a couple more pleasantries to the old widow, turned around and walked slowly away, leaving. Diana stood, still not understanding what had happened. She was completely confused and asked, finally, coming out of her stupor, from a lady standing next to her.

Explain to me if you please. Who owned all these curtsies, and in whose honor are they?

Who is he?

God! Expensive! The lady answered.

Do you know who was seeing you off?!

This is Prince Henry de Valois, Duke of Orleans!

She sang dreamily.

Ah! How can you, however, get lost!

And then, pouting her lips, she sighed enviously, looking after the retreating prince.

How I wish they could find me that way too! The lady sighed.

Obviously upset that she wasn’t lost.

Prince! Poitiers thought in horror.

Remembering how she climbed with her bare hand without a glove in the grass.

What a horror!

She turned pale. Some time ago, she was sure that she was lucky. That this shame of her was seen by this sweet young man, and not by someone else. But, already now she was ready to burst into tears. Because he turned out to be a prince! It couldn’t have been worse. She almost sobbed out loud, trying not to cry. She looked completely dejected and even unhappy. It was so strange to see, so clearly not joyful her face, the lady, with envy, looked in her direction.

Henry, Duke of Orleans! She thought.

And suddenly another picture from the past came to mind. Little frightened, black-eyed boy. She looked at the figure of the retreating Heinrich. She froze, remembering how she hugged a small, forgotten child. She suddenly felt sad. How many years have passed! He became a handsome young man. How many years! She thought, remembering her no longer young age, which the king reminded her of. Vile de Tamp, too, did not let her forget about it. But, now she felt it especially acutely, remembering the boy and seeing today a beautiful young man, whom he had become. Heinrich became a handsome young man. He was young and well built. He was recently by the sea and was sunburned and dark-skinned, like a corsair sailing the seas. He had a thick shock of black hair and the same attentive, serious and incredibly black eyes as in childhood, as deep as the darkest night. Henry and his brother Francis returned from captivity four years later. Children in captivity were not merciful. Heinrich endured this test with courage. His brother turned out to be weaker, and got a lung disease in captivity, returned to his homeland extremely painful. Henry, being the second son of the king and not being heir to the throne, later went into the army, hoping to make a brilliant military career. He liked it. He often disappeared in the barracks among the soldiers than at court in the company of elegant courtiers. Not really loving and favoring balls and fun in the palace. Preferring to all this, hunting. This was his main addiction, as well as fights in tournaments. By nature, a rather calm young man, on a hunt and in a duel, he seemed to become a different person. No one could compare with him in fights. Opponents flew out of the saddle at the first blow, his hand was heavy. His impact was legendary. Once the blow was so strong that not only the rider fell, but also his horse. Also on the hunt, no one could compare with him in dexterity and accuracy. The booty has always belonged to him. He chased the poor beast like a hurricane, sweeping away everything in its path. Because of that, the young prince was a secret and obvious dream of many women’s hearts. And the ladies did not bother to lust for a prince, despite the fact that Henry was married.

He was married to Catherine Maria Romula di Lorenzo de Medici. The Medici family actually ruled Florence. Originally bankers, they came to great wealth and power by funding European monarchs. Catherine’s father Lorenzo II Medici, Duke of Urbino, was not originally a Duke of Urbino and became so thanks to his uncle Giovanni Medici, Pope Leo 10. Thus, despite the ducal title, Catherine was of a relatively low birth. However, her mother, Madeleine de La Tour, Countess of Auvergne, belonged to one of the most famous and ancient French aristocratic families. This greatly influenced the future marriage of Catherine.

The death of Pope Leo 10 led to a break in the power of the Medici family on the holy throne, until in 1523 Cardinal Giulio di Medici became Pope Clement 7.

In 1527, the Medici in Florence was overthrown and Catherine became a hostage. The Pope had to recognize and crown Charles 5 of Habsburg, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. In exchange for his help in the return of Florence and the release of the young duchess. In October 1529, the troops of Charles 5 laid siege to Florence. During the siege, calls and threats appeared to kill Catherine and hang her on the city gates or send her to a brothel to dishonor her. Although the city resisted the siege, on August 12, 1530, famine and plague forced Florence to surrender. Clement met Catherine in Rome with tears in his eyes. It was then that he started looking for a groom for her. Considering many options, but in 1531 the French king Francis 1 proposed the candidacy of his second son, Henry. Clement jumped at the chance right away. The young Duke of Orleans was the most profitable party for his niece Catherine.

At the age of 14, Catherine became the bride of the French prince Heinrich de Valois. Her dowry amounted to 130,000 ducats and vast estates including Pisa, Livorno and Parma.

Catherine was not beautiful. She looked like a discarded fish on the seashore with the same bulging colorless eyes, as if she had a suffocating disease. A large mouth with thin, colorless lips and an incomprehensible light shade of hair in small curls. Some even claimed that she was an exact copy of Pope Leo 10. At a young age, being like a holy father is by no means a compliment.

A wedding held in Marseilles on October 28, 1533. Became a big event marked by extravagance and giving out gifts. Europe has not seen such a congregation of the highest clergy for a long time. The ceremony was attended by Pope Clement himself, accompanied by many cardinals. After the wedding, 34 days of continuous feasts and balls followed. At the wedding feast, Italian chefs introduced the French court to a new dessert made of fruit and ice; this was the first ice cream.

But, Pope Clement 7 died unexpectedly. Paul 3, who replaced him, terminated the alliance with France and refused to pay Catherine’s dowry. Catherine’s political value suddenly vanished. Having thus worsened her position in a foreign country. King Francis 1 complained: «The girl came to me completely naked.» Catherine, who was born into a merchant family in Florence, where her parents were not so preoccupied in order to give their offspring a versatile education, was very difficult in the refined French court. She was an ignoramus who did not know how to construct phrases gracefully and made many mistakes in her letters. Not able to be graceful in such a refined society. Behind her eyes they called her a merchant

Several days passed. Poitiers did not meet Henry. De Tamp did not write new pamphlets, which indicated that Henry kept her little secret. And she breathed a sigh of relief. The thought of him was undoubtedly pleasant to her. He’s still incredibly sweet. Poitiers thought. Walking with the ladies and the old widow along the alleys of the palace park. Arriving in this frame of mind, she noticed a figure approaching in the distance, recognizing her as Henry.The ladies noticed him too. It was evident in the way they perked up as they chirped and tweaked their hairstyles. Poitiers noticed the ladies’ animation. She seemed to be pricked by something sharp and unpleasant somewhere inside. She snorted to herself at the ladies. Throwing a prickly gaze full of needles at them. The ladies pretended not to notice. But, nevertheless, they quieted down. Heinrich approached, smiling at them all with his sweet, amiable smile. It seemed to her that a little more and the ladies would begin to dance in curtsies, they bowed so earnestly. She sat down in an elegant curtsy. After greeting him. He fixed his gaze on her and smiled at her affably. Turned to an old widow. With a few niceties to the old lady. Why she became even more like an owl.

Diana involuntarily smiled at this.

Let me steal your lady, madam. He finished his tirade of courtesies to the widow.

I promise to return her to you soon. He assured the old lady.

Unless madam doesn’t mind. He turned already to Poitiers.

She smiled at him and of course she didn’t mind!

They walked away under the envious glances of the ladies. They walked in the park, enjoying the scent of roses, birdsong and each other’s company.

He wrote new verses and read them. This time the poems were about the rose and its beauty and fragrance. She, of course, realized that he dedicated his poems to her. Comparing it to a wonderful flower. He finished reading and looked at her carefully.


Do you like it? He was clearly worried.

Hiding his worries, but he barely succeeded.

She smiled at him, noticing his concern.


They are beautiful.

Do you think they might be missing something too? He asked at last.

She smiled at him, scolding herself in her hearts for the fact that the last time her statements about his poems might have hurt Henry.

No, no. They are great! There is nothing to add to them, she said.

After a minute she added.

I can only add, she said quietly.

That the rose blooms and fragrant, delighting everyone with its beauty only under the rays of the loving sun that caresses it. She finished.

And their eyes met like two bottomless oceans.

Yes, you are right, Heinrich replied worriedly.

And added. What do you think?

Will the rose bloom under the rays of the loving sun?

She smiled at him. Feeling that her cheeks are reddening treacherously.

I think so. She answered very quietly. As if afraid that he would still hear her words.

They met every day in the alleys of the park, wandered and chatted about everything in the world. Listening to beautiful music written by nature itself. Singing birds and the sound of the wind playing with the foliage of the trees. And strangely enough, they both noticed all these metamorphoses of nature, which every single day plays its magnificent plays under people’s noses. But, for many, they seem to be invisible. But, not for Diana and Heinrich. They noticed everything. And everyone was genuinely happy. Realizing that he met someone who could see the world the same as he saw it himself. Once passing by a small fountain hidden among the bushes, which have long been abandoned. The fountain depicted a deer defeated in a hunt, with a dog hanging over its prey. The water in the fountain was cloudy and completely green. Diana, enchanted by the colors of this picture, looked into the water surface. After becoming silent, as if bewitched and peering into the depths of the whirlpool, she suddenly said.

You know, this is the most beautiful fountain in this garden!

Someone seems to be living in the depths of its waters. She suddenly perked up. Turning from the fountain to Heinrich.

He raised an eyebrow and laughed cheerfully.

Who do you think lives there? He asked cheerfully.

Well, I don’t know. Pouting her lips, Poitiers said. Obviously pretending to be offended that he does not believe her. She answered with childlike spontaneity.

Maybe a mermaid or some kind of spirit. She was inspired, fantasizing.

He continued to laugh. Touched by her fantasies. She pouted her lips even harder, offended by his skepticism. He stopped laughing and raised his hands to feign surrender.

You know, I didn’t notice him at all before. He said. Glancing again at the green smooth surface of the fountain, and whispering in her ear.

There really is someone living there! Her eyes lit up in the hope that her words were true.

And that’s it, he finished.

Definitely frogs!

He laughed again, hoping to see her cute pouting lips again. She looked at him resentfully, almost childishly. I repeated it seriously.

Heinrich, right! There, nevertheless, someone lives.

He was still laughing while admiring her.

Diana dear! If you like. That, there will live everyone whom you wish to settle there!

Whether it’s a mermaid or your beloved Mademoiselle de Tamp!

She might pass for a ghost! He said.

He was already having fun and laughing heartily. Hearing about the prospect of de Tamp living in a green swamp. Diana could not resist and laughed merrily with Heinrich. This idea was very to her liking.

Heinrich, really, how cute you are. She said laughing and kissing him on the cheek. He stopped laughing. He looked at her silently, with eyes full of adoration and added.

Well, since you like deer, I invite you to hunt. He said.


Hunting?! Diana was surprised.

She was not a fan of the kind of hunting that was done at court. When an unfortunate animal is driven into a trap from all sides and simply deprived of its opportunity to escape. She thought it was a disgusting, unfair murder!

Whether it was, when she went hunting with her father a long time ago. Nobody drove the beast. The hunter and the beast were equal. And the one who turns out to be better was decided only by who turns out to be more cunning, more agile, well, or faster. If the beast, then he will not be caught, if the hunter, then the prey will be his. This is the only hunt she respected.

Such a hunter earned her respect. And Heinrich was just such a hunter. He did not recognize any other hunt. He needed a fair fight! In such a hunt, the beast and the hunter were on equal terms. The hunters themselves could be injured by the beast, or they could even die.

Diana remembered that she did not have a suitable horse for hunting and told Henry about it.

Sheer trifle, said Heinrich, taking her hand.

Come on, honey.

He walked, with his brisk step, dragging her along and heading towards the stables.

Approaching the royal stables, he paused and waved his hand theatrically to indicate the horses in the stalls.

Choose whichever one you like, he said.

Hunt tomorrow morning. I leave you while you make your choice.

Take your time, he added.

And kissing her hand, he departed, with the same quick, confident gait.

She entered the stable accompanied by the old groom. And her heart sank with delight. Never before had she seen so many magnificent, purebred beauties of various stripes and breeds. Her heart was beating with joy so that she heard his pounding in her ears. She walked along the stall. But, the horses were one better than the other. She walked around, as if spellbound and could not make a choice. Suddenly she stopped, seeing a smoky handsome man. The stallion was with thin, long legs and a thin, outlined graceful head, with a powerful and at the same time graceful chest. He pricked up his pointed ears at the sight of Diana and widened his nostrils, frowning unkindly. Arrogantly, as if looking down at her, snorting disdainfully. Like telling her to get away. She gasped at his beauty. She turned, like a small child, at the sight of the desired toy to the old groom.

Saddle this one! She exclaimed, almost clapping her hands in delight.

The old man served in the royal stable as a groom for many years, almost all his life. And as often happens with old faithful servants, he could afford what other servants could not even imagine. For example, protest this lady. He furrowed his brows in displeasure.

No way. The old man answered not quite.

Poitier furrowed her eyebrows. Trying to make her look as strict as possible and giving herself a special menacingness, she stamped her foot.

Didn’t you hear what you were ordered?! Or are you deaf?!

His Highness the Prince has ordered you to saddle any horse I please!

I tell you saddle this one! And don’t argue with me! Diana was indignant.

But it seems that the old servant of the royal stable did not want to surrender without a fight.

I tell you madam, you can’t saddle this. He sighed, trying to get rid of her like an annoying fly.

This time, her eyebrows moved even more on the bridge of her nose. The old man, seeing that the lady was not going to retreat, sighed.

It is impossible, madam, because this is a stallion of His Highness Prince Henry. He only hunts on it and drives. The old man tried the last try.

Okay, I understand. Irritated, Poitiers added. Trying to pretend not to lose this battle to the malevolent old groom.

Okay, then I’ll pick another horse to hunt, she didn’t quit.

Now saddle this one. I want to ride it now

But the old man was clearly not going to surrender.

Not as bad as it gets, madam.

He is not accustomed to the female saddle.

With malice and undisguised malice, he added as if he had already won this difficult battle. She shot him with narrowed eyes like arrows and added with even greater malice in her voice.

And you saddle man! Gloomy, she sang.

What are you talking about, madam! The old man was taken aback.

This is how!

Would you like to ride like a man?!

Not decent, after all, God have mercy on you, madam! As if he didn’t believe her, the unfortunate groom cried out.

Yes, and you will die, you madam, by God! It’s a gray devil, not a stallion! Only his Highness the Prince is dealing with him! After all, this devil does not admit anyone else.

You will die, and then I will answer. The old man lamented. Trying with the last bit of strength to reason with Poitiers.

Saddle up! Told you! Poitiers screamed, losing her temper and making a formidable face.

Rejoicing in my soul that such a difficult battle with the groom will end in her favor. The old man finally gave up and went to get the saddle.

And where did you come from on my head. The old man muttered under his breath, putting the saddle on the handsome gray man.

Kill you!

Oh, kill yourself!

Answer me.

The groom whined.

The stallion was, indeed, too big and powerful for a woman, but Poitiers did not stop it.She sat down in the men’s saddle and took the reins in her hands. The stallion nervously walked from side to side, rustling with displeasure and menacingly flaring his nostrils, exhaling air like a fire-breathing dragon. He reared up from such an unheard-of impudence of a stranger. He reared up once more, trying to get rid of her. But, by the way, Poitiers was an excellent rider and he did not succeed. Then he rushed forward like a bullet through the fields adjacent to the stables. The stallion simply carried it. She did not control him at all, and he did not obey her at all, no matter how hard she tried to pull on the reins.

He was strong, and seemed not to feel it, or rather did not want to obey her. Diana tried to stop him, but he did not obey her. She grabbed the horse with her legs, pressing against him and grabbing his scruff, trying to stay on the galloping horse. She realized that her idea was stupid. But, it was too late to think about it. All she could do now was try not to break her neck. Hoping that soon he will run over and stop himself. Scolding himself in their hearts for not listening to the old man.

Finally, breathing freedom and a quick run, the smoky one calmed down and stopped. Diana congratulated herself on being still alive and not breaking her neck. She patted the animal on the neck, and he shook his head, snorting contentedly. Surprised, it seems that she is still here.

Well, finally!

That’s great! She spoke to the stallion. Stroking his smooth neck.

You almost killed me bastard!

She patted him again, giving him the pre-cooked sugar cube. The stallion snorted, but did not refuse the delicacy, and, snorting more favorably, allowed her to remain on horseback. It took some time, she enjoyed the ride. The stallion calmed down, as if having tested her for strength with his frantic run, no longer tried to throw her off. He instantly understood her every touch and all her commands. A light touch of the foot was enough, it was enough, it was easy to pull on the reins and he immediately understood everything, not trying to obey anymore. He seemed to like Poitiers in the end, and he snorted contentedly when she stroked his neck. It was undoubtedly a magnificent and intelligent animal. She was so carried away by the ride that she did not notice how Heinrich appeared from somewhere, riding a red stallion. Undoubtedly, just as gorgeous, but still inferior in everything, smoky. Heinrich soon caught up with her. Its smoky scent smelled its master and neighed happily, welcoming him. Heinrich rode up close to her.

Diana dear. Heinrich smiled.

You seem to have taken my stallion, he said.

She put on an innocent smile.

I really couldn’t resist.

I hope you will forgive me? She said. Making an innocent face and portraying a cute angel.

You ride in a men’s saddle, too. He added, grinning.

This is not terribly decent.

Don’t you know?

His eyes flashed mischievously and his smile widened.

Looking at him conspiratorially, she continues to portray the same innocent simplicity. She answered in a whisper.

But, you won’t tell anyone, will you?

He was still smiling. Delno shook his head.

I, no. My dear, Diana. I won’t tell anyone.

I assure you you can rely on me.

But as you can imagine, my dear Diana. He continued.

Smoky, you can’t hunt, alas.

I would give it to you, don’t hesitate.

But I’m afraid. The whole yard will hardly accept your ride in a man’s saddle with delight.

So, alas, madam.

You will need to choose another horse.

She pouted.

Heinrich is it my fault that the most magnificent stallion in the entire stable is yours.

He laughed heartily. Adding already seriously.

It was not reprehensible, you could be injured.

She smiled at him again with the smile of an angel.

Let’s go, my dear Diana.

I know which horse is right for you.

He said, guiding his horse towards the stables in the distance.

She followed him. Arriving at the stables, Heinrich deftly jumped off the saddle and held out his hand to her. She, too, gracefully jumped off the horse.

Heinrich led her to the stall where the mare stood, which Heinrich, as he put it, looked after her.

It was a red, not tall horse, which would be more suitable for quiet riding, children. Diana went out. The mare was unremarkable. Her legs were not at all as graceful, long and thin as those of her more purebred, thoroughbred chicks. Seeing her upset. Heinrich hastened to praise the animal.

Oh my dear! This is an absolutely wonderful horse! Believe me.

She is accustomed to the female saddle.

And the most important thing.

She has a great, calm disposition.

You will see. You will be delighted.

Diana was about to burst into tears of resentment.

Oh yes, monsieur!

She has a calm disposition like a cow.

Only she noticed. Heinrich pretended not to hear her. She was completely upset. Like an offended child. She cast an envious glance at the smoky stallion stuck its muzzle out of the stall. The stallion snorted contemptuously. As if he were saying that she had made a bad choice. She sighed resignedly, looking at Heinrich reproachfully. Heinrich, without letting her say another word. As if afraid that if she spoke, she would convince him. Somewhere, quickly rushed. Trying not to look into her now, such unhappy eyes. Knowing that he could not resist her. I decided to retire. In order not to change your mind. The old man informed him that Madame had left on his smoky stallion. Henry, knowing the nature of his horse, cursed everything in the world, allowing Madame de Poitiers to choose a horse on her own.

His heart fell somewhere in the abyss from fear that something could happen to her. Therefore, now, he was no longer going to make such a mistake. Having chosen, for Diana, the most humble horse that he could find in the stable. He said that he was not waiting for the pedestrian business and said goodbye to her, kissing her hand.

Telling her.

See you tomorrow, my dear, Diana.

Quickly, he walked away without changing his mind.

Early the next morning. The courtiers gathered to hunt. The men were in a state of some kind of nervous excitement, the women were full of their magnificent riding costumes, adorned with jewelry and gilded embroidery.

Diana sat on her ginger mare. She was dressed in a riding suit, the color of a gorgeous dark green pool or a deep lake in the woods. The riding suit was made of fine velvet.

The top of the suit was embroidered with fine emeralds and gold thread. The image was complemented by a wonderful headdress with magnificent feathers to match the suit and gloves of the same color. In the ears sparkled beautiful earrings with the purest emeralds, complementing the whole image. The hair was beautifully collected in a hairdo and only a few black curls fell on the sides, from which the emeralds on Poitiers’ earrings sparkled even more. Poitiers, like a fabulous forest nymph, sparkled in the sun, the color of green forest lakes. She was still sulking at Heinrich for the stupid horse that he slipped into her. The mare had a really calm disposition, as Heinrich put it. So Poitiers is a horse that always reached for the juicy leaves of every bush they passed by, definitely resembled a cow. Diana saw Heinrich. It was as if he had been replaced! He radiated nervous energy. I could not at all resist in one place. He spoke loudly and joked with other men. Tossing like a whirlwind between them on his magnificent stallion from side to side and swinging in different directions with his arms, like wings, and swinging his legs, as if he was going to run somewhere. His stallion was just as excited. He whinnied nervously, flaring his nostrils, and with impatience now and then, rearing up. Both of them, as if they could not wait for the wild pursuit of the unfortunate prey. The ladies now and then threw their meaningful glances at him. He was dressed in a magnificent hunting suit that was hardly embroidered in gold, which was strange for his rank as a prince. Heinrich preferred to dress more like a soldier than like a prince, and he hated all these ruffles and embroidery. His hunting boots gleamed with purity and gilded spurs. And his whole appearance was rather formidable. His stallion was adorned with an elegant blanket and sparkled in the sun, not yielding to the owner. But, the eyes sparkled most of all in both!

Heinrich was just great! And more like a corsair on his handsome, smoky horse breathing fire. Poitiers was amazed at such a striking change in him! After all, Henry was usually a rather calm young man. And he was so strikingly different now! He looked like some incredibly charming robber who thundered with his, as it turned out, a rather loud voice. Since he usually spoke calmly and quietly. Diana could not even imagine that his voice could thunder like thunder, shaking everything around! And flashing eyes like lightning. He saw her in the crowd and smiled at her, greeting her and blowing a kiss to her, ignoring the surrounding crowd, embarrassing her with this. Arousing the envious glances of many ladies. Diana lifted her chin arrogantly up, pretending not to notice the women looking at her enviously. Delano snorted as if an annoying fly were flying over her. The sound of a bugle rang out. The dogs howled happily when they recognized the hunt signal! Heinrich jerked off first, as if there was a miracle spring in his stallion. All the others rushed after him. Horses, people and dogs all mixed up in a noisy crowd, hounds and people urging their horses on. Diana was in the last ranks, among the laggards. Her calm, as Heinrich put it, a mare. It seemed that she did not know at all what a gallop was and was not going to learn it even now. Finally, she lagged behind and completely from the whole crowd, chipping all her legs on the sides of the stubborn animal. Poitiers, at the end, exhausted, urging her red horse on, gave up completely. She finally realized that this case was useless. The horse was not going to run! Behind some kind of crowd. She lowered the reins, realizing that she would no longer catch up with anyone. She gave the mare freedom, and she wasted no time in vain, reached for the first bush that came, began to lazily chew the leaves. Poitiers sighed.

You are not a horse! She spoke.

You’re just a cow!

What a fool put you in the stable!

You really belong in the barn! She scolded her redhead.

But, the animal seemed completely indifferent to such accusations.

Horses are running! If you didn’t know. Diana continued.

But, redhead, as if accepting that she is a cow. She reached for a portion of the leaves again, lazily chewing on the treat.

Ah, Diana sighed. Hearing the sound of the hunt receding. The noise of the bugle, the barking of dogs and the neighing of horses became quieter and quieter. She realized that she could not catch up with them, sighed again, looking around. Everywhere there was the scent of the forest, the buzzing of all kinds of bugs and bumblebees, the chirping of forest birds in different ways. A squirrel flashed in the branches of a tree, sitting on a trunk and with curiosity began to examine the uninvited guests. She lowered the reins, giving free rein to her mare to go wherever she pleases, and delighting admiring the surrounding beauty, enjoying the fresh air. Her redhead walked forward, feeling freedom.

Poitiers didn’t care to guide her.

She wandered this way through the forest for a while. Her horse went out into a small meadow covered with greenery and flowers. The mare stopped and began gnawing at the nearest bush.

Suddenly Diana heard a dull thud and the crunch of breaking branches on the other side of the forest. A moment later, a huge boar suddenly jumped out from there. The monster was huge with bloodshot eyes and large yellow fangs. A piece of a broken dart was stuck in his side, the beast was wounded. Poitiers, as if hypnotized, could not take her eyes off the monster, frozen in place. Her horse stopped chewing, staring blankly at the boar. Perhaps, if Diana had gotten a more agile animal, and not this red mare, then most likely she would have given dry. But, unfortunately, her mare turned out to be thinking for a long time. Diana herself froze in place, doing nothing. So they stood her and her horse. Foolishly staring at the huge boar opposite, and not the one, not the other, did not think to run. The boar froze only for a moment, seeing them, but in the next instant, with a belligerent wheeze and pressing his fangs closer to the ground, he was about to rush at both. But, he was prevented by a terrible crash and crash in the bushes nearby. The boar turned sharply at the noise. The noise finally brought Diana out of her mortal stupor. Heinrich flew out to the edge of the forest all the way, on his smoky one. Smoky was covered in foam and leaves. Smokey’s eyes burned with red fire, his nostrils widened, he snorted menacingly. Heinrich, like his stallion, was also covered in leaves. His eyes, like those of his horse, burned with the same fire.

It all happened so quickly that she didn’t have time to recover. Heinrich jumped out of the saddle at full gallop, jumping straight onto the back of the monster. A dagger blade flashed in the sunlight. And both of them, Heinrich and the boar, rolled head over heels over the leaves and the ground in a deadly ball. The boar roared terribly, and a moment later, issuing a monstrous howl, the monster trembled and froze. Heinrich was not visible, he was under the boar. They both did not move. Diana finally woke up completely. Her heart sank and beat so desperately that it became difficult to breathe.

God! He is dead! A nightmarish thought flashed through.

She quickly jumped from the saddle down to the ground.

Her redhead also woke up, and smelling the smell of blood in horror, she whinnied, rearing up and rushing as fast as she could. Poitiers ran to the boar trying to make out Heinrich. Her heart was pounding wildly, tap dancing in her chest. Heinrich was crushed by the carcass of a wild boar. But, here he began to stir and, throwing aside the carcass of the boar, which he was crushed by, lay down next to the boar, leaning his elbows on its carcass, as if on the back of a chair. She watched his actions, dumbfounded.

And he!

He was smiling!

All stained with the blood of a defeated animal, mixed with foliage and earth. He smiled at her. Anger seized her.

Are you crazy?! She cried out, unable to contain herself.

Do you always attack wild animals with your bare hands?!

You really hoped to strangle him?!

The monster almost killed you! She finished, annoyed.

He laughed loudly and abruptly, catching a breath that still hadn’t come back to normal after a deadly hug with a boar.

Are you madam? He parried, cheerfully.

Always stay in place like a statue? And do not try to escape when you see a wounded, and I want to note, an extremely dangerous wild boar.

Or did you intend to greet him kindly? He finished, clearly enjoying their conversation.

And continuing to smile contentedly, he looked at her confused look. He continued almost seriously, but with the same note of sarcasm.

I guess I should have waited for him to charge you?

She was taken aback. Not finding what to answer him. Indeed, it was true; it was incredibly stupid that she did not rush away from this monster as soon as she noticed him. And if Heinrich had not appeared so on time. The boar would no doubt rush at her. Not finding anything to say to him, she just flapped her eyelashes. She looked so confused that he could not resist and laughed heartily. And then she noticed that his leg was bleeding.

Oh my God! She screamed.

You are injured!

She sat down beside him to help and, trying to examine his wound, eyes full of sympathy, compassion and fear.

Nonsense, he waved it off.

Scratch. Diana, you shouldn’t be so worried. He smiled sweetly at her.

Everything heals very quickly on me.

You need to be bandaged! You will lose a lot of blood! Poitiers did not agree with him.

She already wanted to put her words into action. Suddenly there was a noise and crackling nearby in the bush. And in the next instant, riders of a man and a woman, as well as their dogs, flew into the clearing. Seeing the defeated boar, and next to him the wounded Henry, the men rushed to the prince in a hurry to help. In the next instant, they tightened and bandaged his wound. Women sitting side by side on their horses and groaned. Continuing to cast loving glances towards the prince.

Ah! Poor thing!

He looks badly injured! They whispered.

The whole crowd pushed Poitiers aside. She watched in silence. The men made something like a stretcher for Henry. They lamented about how close they were to the boar, and a little more and the prey would be in their hands. Talking about how Heinrich beat everyone up again and took the loot. Heinrich reassured them. Saying that they might be lucky next time they hunt. But, clearly not going to give in to anyone next time. And suddenly, he said loudly, looking for Diana with his eyes among the crowd.

No gentlemen!

I wouldn’t have been able to catch him myself if it weren’t for Madame de Poitiers!

She’s a great hunter!

The beast runs towards it!

Saying this. He looked at her slyly and mischievously, smiling broadly at her. All heads turned towards her. Looking with curiosity. As if to say. Is that really true?! She shot him an angry look and answered coldly.

Complete nonsense.

I ended up here by accident.

But, Henry was completely amused, despite his wound, continued.

Gentlemen, don’t believe her!

Madame de Poitiers is just being shy!

She pursed her lips, casting an almost angry look in his direction. Hoping that he will finally calm down. He winked at her cheerfully, continuing to arrive in good spirits.

What nonsense is he talking! Diana thought irritably, turning away from him in order to end this conversation. And so, this whole honest company. Horses, people, dogs, the carcass of a wild boar, prey, undoubtedly, Heinrich and he himself, leading, like a Caesar, all this noisy company, moved through the forest, heading back to the palace. He was carried by men, like a Roman emperor on an improvised stretcher, since he himself could not ride on horseback because of a wound on his leg, which was ripped apart, like a sharp blade by boar fangs almost to the very thigh.

He was pale from blood loss, but he didn’t seem to care at all. He was having fun and joking. The men laughed loudly at his jokes, and the ladies giggled coquettishly. He himself swung his arms in different directions, as well as his one leg, since his other leg was not able to tap the first. Poitiers gave way to the horse, as her mare had fled somewhere. She rode a little further away from him. Heinrich now and then turned his head, looking for her in the crowd, and when he found, he smiled good-naturedly at her.

In the evening, all this society gathered for a feast on the occasion of a successful hunt. And, in spite of his wounded leg, Heinrich rejoiced heartily. His prey, already well-done, was greeted with noisy and stormy exclamations, praising the hunter for courage and dexterity. The courtiers were noisy and merry. When enough wine had been drunk, they began to play a sweet and reckless game, blind man’s buff. They put on a black silk bandage over their eyes and circled.

And the one who had his eyes closed with a blindfold had to catch with his eyes closed one of the fleeing. If it was an attractive lady, then there were many willing gentlemen to fall into her hands.

If it was an attractive man, then the lady who liked him should not have bothered to fall into his arms, pretending that she was trying to run away.

And for some reason many of the ladies ran so badly that they very quickly found themselves in the clutches of the players. The bottom line was that no one really ran away from anyone, but sooner found himself in the arms of the one who turned out to be nice to him. A kiss was considered a win, but one kiss, as a rule, did not end anything. Heinrich was sitting at the table, watching the game. Putting his wounded leg on a small velvet stool. Poitiers remained in the same place, not participating in the fun. He looked at her.

Not playing? He asked.

No, she answered, bored.

What not? Heinrich continued.

You might have some fun.

The corners of her lips floated up like the wings of a butterfly.

I don’t see a decent player there. She answered, still smiling.

He laughed.

Yes, but I think a lot of people would love to fall into your wonderful hands. He continued their dialogue.

She raised her eyebrows. She looked at him intently and carefully and answered.

You seem to be worried that you can’t play? She sang.

Oh, I think you would have caught a dozen of the nicest ladies at a time.

Those who didn’t get caught would obviously be upset. She finished, purring the words sarcastically like a big cat. Smiling at him with just the corner of her lips.

He smiled back at her.

How angry you are, though! He answered with a grin.

Ah, my dear Diana.

What do I care about these pet cats. He smiled at her with a grin.

Either you! Another thing!

Try to eat someone for lunch or dinner.

Unfortunate victims! He added.

And do not suspect that the prey. He sighed.

And the bigger the game, the better for you. He continued.

Obviously hinting at the king and her relationship with him.

Poitiers said nothing, slowly rose from the table. Letting him know that he was leaving and grimaced picturesquely, replied.

I’m not hungry today.

Heinrich laughed, shaking his head.

So they’re lucky! He said, waving lazily at the running, cheerful crowd.

Where are you going? He asked.

She bowed to him in pictures.

Of course, sleep, your highness! She purred and swam like a swan to the exit.

He called after her.

Will you leave a sick, almost dying person?!

This is not merciful, Diana! He added.

She turned around, laughing cheerfully.

You are the least like a sick and dying person! She answered cheerfully.

Good night, your highness. She said, already moving away.

Good night, Heinrich replied with a sigh. Saddened that she had left.

Poitiers were allocated rooms in the palace, there she went, where she hoped to take a break from such an eventful day.

Miracle broth

But, she was not allowed to sleep. There was a knock on the door. A small letter was handed over to her. The letter was from Henry. He wrote: «that he seems to have become worse, and he is thrown into a fever, and it seems that he is dying at all. And his last wish is to see her. «She read the message and laughed heartily.

On death!

Oh my God!

You need at least a dozen boars for you!

My dear Henry.

She sang. Talking to herself and laughed heartily. She stood for a moment in thought. And I decided to go to his chambers. The messenger waited outside the door for an answer.

Tell His Highness that I cannot refuse the patient’s request and will certainly visit him.

She thought and said.

An hour later.

Yes, she added, I’ll be with His Highness in an hour.

The Messenger bowed and disappeared into the hallways of the palace. An hour later she was at the door of Heinrich’s chambers. Knocking lightly on the door. It was opened by the same servant who brought the letter. She went into the room. The servant disappeared through the door, leaving them alone. She went into the room, where she found Heinrich writing another letter. The paper lay next to him on the bed.

What are you writing? She asked.

He looked up.

I was going to write you the next message in case you don’t come.

What if I hadn’t come back then? Smiling, she asked.

Then, I would send you letters all night. He answered.

He put aside the paper on which he was writing the next message.

Well, this is no longer needed, you are already here.

She was standing next to his bed.

So you’re dying? She said smiling.

He smiled back at her.

I’m feeling better, Henry replied.

How is your leg? Diana continued.

Oh, no big deal, he started, it was.

Then I caught myself.

Oh terribly bad! And he began to moan feignedly.

Oh! Such a pain! He said. Theatrically widening his eyes and making a grimace. Pretending torment. Fixing a painful gaze at the ceiling and holding out his hands to her.

Well, sit down next to me, otherwise I will definitely die! He continued this farce.

She sat down next to him on the edge of his bed. She shook her head. She looked at him seriously and asked.

So, is your leg still?

Maybe you can answer?

He looked at her merrily, with his dark eyes, said.

I already said. And I wanted to repeat my theatrical monologue, which I said earlier.

But she stopped him. Throwing his eyebrows up. And waiting for an intelligible answer.

He looked at her. Realizing that his monologue is not accepted. And she expects seriousness from him. He just said.

It’s just nothing, my dear Diana.

You are right, there is nothing to worry about, and I assure you.

In less than a week. And I’ll be on my feet again. And he smiled. {{1 Week!

Oh my God!


You’ve got a wound all over your leg!

What are you talking about!

Right, madam. You will see for yourself. In a week, I will be on my feet, as if nothing had happened. Believe me. He answered laughing.

That damn boar just scratched me a little, that’s all.

In fact, the boar inflicted a severe wound on Henry. They ripped like a razor skin and meat all over the leg, up to the thigh, and only miraculously without touching the arteries, which could threaten Henry with inevitable death! Henry bore this scar, left on that day by the monster for the rest of his life. Poitiers said with a serious face.

I’ll bring you some broth tomorrow. He will put you on your feet and restore your strength. Not listening to his chatter about scratches and knowing that if she does not take care that Heinrich drinks the miracle broth, and then he himself will not do it for anything. Diana sincerely believed that a good broth is the best remedy for any ailment!

I will drink your broth on one condition.

If you yourself will spoon-feed me with it!

Raising his finger up, Heinrich spoke. Laughing and having fun.

Otherwise, I won’t drink it for nothing! And he grimaced his face.

Hmm! Poitiers chuckled.

I’ll have to get you drunk with them.

And don’t even hesitate, I’ll definitely do it. Unless you are otherwise, do not intend to be treated!

She added briskly.

Suddenly, becoming serious she added.

Heinrich, I wanted to thank you. She said.

If you hadn’t shown up in time, out there in the woods. I don’t know what would have happened. She said. Unable to explain his stupor during a meeting with a wild boar in the forest. But, she did not have time to finish, as he pulled her to him and kissed her on the lips. She felt his hot and urgent kiss and responded to it.After a long and hot kiss, pulling a little away from him, she looked at him. His eyes burned with fire, in the faint candlelight. She looked away and said.

I think it’s time to go. Good night Henry.

She was about to get up off the edge of the bed she was sitting on, but he stopped her.

Wait, Diana. He held her hand.

Diana, tell me all the same.

Why did you stay where you were in the woods?

Instead of running away.

It’s scary to imagine what could have happened to you!

If I hadn’t been there in time, he added.

I just can’t figure it out. Why didn’t you run away!

You were standing there on your ginger mare. So calm! It was like a beautiful stone statue and there was not even a drop of fear in your eyes!

Aren’t you scared?

Oh, you, but about the boar!

She gasped, thinking of the kiss.

Oh no. What are you, I just did not have time to get scared, and that’s all.

He smiled slightly.

Still, this monster would scare anyone. He said thoughtfully.

She has already got up from the edge of the bed, on which she sat down next to Heinrich.

I just didn’t have time, that’s all. She answered. Smiling at him. I was about to leave the room. But, suddenly she turned and said.

Heinrich thanks again.

You probably saved my life!

Hope your leg will heal soon.

I’ll come tomorrow, she reminded him. And I’ll bring you some broth.

He made a funny face again.

No, Heinrich. You promised me to drink all the broth. He smiled at her.

Of course, my dear Diana.

I’ll even drink poison from your beautiful hands! He answered.

She smiled, shook her head and left, closing the door quietly behind her.

A week later, Henry was really on his feet. The wounds on it seem to have really healed miraculously. And Poitier’s miraculous broth helped! With whom, she mercilessly watered Henry, as promised.Tolya was about the hot kisses that followed the broth. Despite the bed rest prescribed by the doctors, Heinrich was already in the saddle a week later. The courtiers marveled at Henry’s speedy recovery. To which he replied to those around him that he got to his feet so quickly thanks to the miraculous treatment of Madame de Brese. And that her broth was definitely magical. And making a mysterious appearance, Henry told the next courtiers, «about the miracle broth.» Poitiers blushed red when she heard him speak. Not knowing what exactly he means. Really her broth or passionate kisses. Although, she was sure that it was the second rather than the first. The courtiers remained in conjectures and doubts about their relationship, and how close they were. Heinrich, seeing her rosy cheeks, smiled broadly at her. And she pretended not to hear what he was talking about. Pretending that she is engaged in a fascinating conversation with some lady. Seeing that she diligently pretends to be deaf. He repeated the phrase louder.

Miracle broth! I tell you. Addressing the interlocutor, he almost shouted, in his thunderous voice. Even a deaf person should have heard it! And then, unable to bear it, Diana threw an almost angry and prickly glance at him.

As if speaking to him. Yes, shut up, you! He made an innocent face and an even more innocent smile. And she replaced anger with mercy. And how could you be angry with him?! It was impossible to be angry with Henry! Poitiers tried to hide their relationship from all prying eyes. Heinrich, on the other hand, wanted to scream, literally, that they were together. And only knowing that it makes her angry. So far I talked about broth.

Thus began their life-long story! For which, as it turned out, life was too little! They ran at night along the dark corridors and narrow staircases of the palace, hiding from prying eyes. Sneaking into each other’s rooms, like thieves and making serious faces during the day. But, of course, the courtiers whispered, but could not catch them in any way. It seemed that both took pleasure in leading everyone around by the nose, laughing at the curious and playing cat and mouse with the courtiers. And when they were not seen, they shot fiery arrows of glances at each other. But, nevertheless, rumors spread, because everyone was curious. Is it really? Are they lovers? Finally, they decided to open up, and openly went to a place known throughout France, which only lovers could visit. They traveled to Castle Ecuenne, owned by Constable Montmorency. The mood in this castle was created by the famous erotic stained glass windows. These stained glass windows shocked even Rabelais with their content! They illustrated the love of Psyche, and hinted to Henry that his goddess could be human. Can flutter in his arms, like Psyche in Cupid’s arms.

This is how a love story famous in subsequent centuries began! Diana, who until then knew only the love of her old husband, who suited her as a grandfather and an equally young and selfish king. Only by knowing the passion of an ardent prince, who, by age, was suitable for her as a son. I realized that love can be not only the fulfillment of a conjugal duty, but also a pleasure. Heinrich, in turn, did not look like a youth. On the contrary, he looked much older than his years in appearance, and in his mind was a mature man. Therefore, Poitiers forgot about the age difference.

Heinrich was all the more happy.

Embracing his goddess, whom he has always dreamed of and dreamed of. From their first meeting, her image was in his heart. He also expressed his feelings in poetry. He regretted the loss of time. The fear that held him back that his goddess would not condescend to him. That he will be faithful to her until his last breath, and that his heart will always belong to her alone! And when they absolutely happy returned to the palace. Everything became clear to everyone finally. They no longer hid their relationship, and everyone at court realized that they were lovers.

The Vicissitudes of Fate

Bells were ringing all over Paris and all over France. France was in mourning. Crown Prince Francis died of a serious lung disease. Henry was heartbroken. He truly loved his brother. He stood silently by the window. She came up behind him.

Heinrich, you couldn’t help him.

I’m really sorry Francis is gone. She said.

He turned a miserable face full of grief and loss to her.

I’m sorry, she repeated, and hugged him.

He rested his head on her shoulder and was silent, as he once did in childhood. Then when they first met, and he was still a child. On the day when their very children, Heinrich, along with his still healthy brother, were sent into captivity.

She stroked his thick, black hair. So they stood silently, without uttering a word.

How strange at times the interweaving of fate or the fate itself. Many years ago, the little prince, the second son of the king, everyone simply forgot to even greet, sending him prisoner. After all, he should not have become king. But who among mortals can know what should be? And who’s indomitable strength and the hand from above, writes and decides the fate of people? Inevitable fate or fate itself! And the power that kings have is just an illusion! Because there is only one true power! This is his power and will! And his name is the creator or god! What fate has he prepared for each of us?! What turn will lead us to death or victory?!

Henry was not supposed to become the heir to the throne, but he did!

And everything changed. If earlier he could wander alone and he was not particularly noticed, except of course the ladies. That heir to the throne, now everyone was interested. Now he could not fail to be noticed. The courtiers literally watched him at every bush, trying to gain favor. They followed him in a round dance. He complained to Diana that they would not leave him alone for a minute. Henry’s new position did not please him at all, it weighed him down. And the freedom so adored by him was irretrievably lost. He was not at all happy about becoming king. Heinrich had been preparing himself for a military career all his life, which meant campaigns and battles. Where everything is decided only by your own courage and valor. Now he realized that everything had turned upside down. He will never make a military career, as he is the future king of France, and this saddened him. He was still annoyed.

Lying flatterers! He spoke while talking to Diana.

They walk around like a pack of jackals. Looking out for something or begging.

You can’t imagine Diana!

This afternoon, out of anger, I said something nonsense, hoping that at least someone would argue with me.

What do you think?!

They unanimously agreed with the nonsense I said!

How can this be?! He finished, annoyed.

He looked at her completely unhappy and added.

Diana, this is awful! You have no idea.

Diana was reclining on silk pillows on a small Roman-style sofa. She waved her hand to Heinrich, who nervously paced the room, inviting him to sit down next to her.

Heinrich dear.

Don’t think so much about them, really.

As if you don’t know the courtiers.

You are in a really bad mood for this.

Give it up, forget it.

He sighed bitterly.

How not to think if they are everywhere!

Heinrich, please don’t worries like that.

You break my heart! Diana answered.

Let them bow and chat like parrots.

Don’t notice them. She said, and, getting up from the couch, went up to him.

Heinrich sat down in a nearby chair. She settled in his lap, dangling her legs and hugging his neck.

Well, would you like me to tell you a funny story? She sang.

To stop being sad.

He breathed in even more bitterly than before, looked at her and smiled.

Yes, really, I won’t think about it. He said, trying to hide the sadness in his voice.

Then listen to the story. She said, poking her nose lightly with her finger, as if tickling. Trying to cheer him up.

He smiled at her but remained sad.

Long live the king

Everything was quiet and stood still, like time had stopped. And this day could be the same as many others. If the peace and quiet of this day had not been disturbed, like the explosion of a volcano, the voice of the herald. At first it was quiet, and then it began to grow, like an avalanche descending, gaining strength. And then, finally, the rumble of people thundered, reaching a point at the very top, like a thousand voices of a huge hive.

The king is dead!

And then, there was a pause, and the air exploded with an explosion of voices.

Long live the king!

So Francis 1 was dead. Diana and Heinrich stood at the open window. She heard a hum, and words. The king is dead! Turning her head, she looked at Heinrich and whispered along with the rumble of the crowd.

Long live the king! Sitting down in a deep curtsy, greeting the new king of France, as etiquette demanded.

Henry did not harbor warm feelings for Francis 1, so he accepted the loss calmly and only officially in sorrow. He never saw his father’s love for himself, who was always cold to him. Francis simply never noticed or loved Henry. Therefore, Henry did not pretend to be a fake sorrow. Perhaps, in my heart only feeling sad that I did not know my father’s love. The point was, and the courtiers whispered quietly about this, that Henry was not at all the son of Francis. The reason for this was such a clear dissimilarity of Henry, both with his brother and with the king. Heinrich was dark-skinned, black-eyed and black-haired. Francis, like his first son, was fair-haired and blue-eyed. This dissimilarity was too obvious. To which the queen mother referred to the similarity of Henry along her line with her ancestors. In her youth, the queen was known as a beauty never seen before, and who knows what desperate hero came to her chambers. But, these were only rumors and guesses, not confirmed by anything. And rumors remain just rumors. The very same Francis 1, these rumors did not bother much, since Henry was not the heir to the throne. With Henry, Francis 1 was always cold, and that coldness never melted.

Diana lifted her curtsy and looked at Henry. He was somewhere far away, as if not with her, peering into the distance thoughtfully. However, what is the interweaving of fate! And if Henry was not the son of Francis 1. Then, son of what hero or knight ascended the throne of France?! Diana thought, smiling. Whoever his father was, she was sure it couldn’t be Francis.

It was for sure a brave handsome man! She thought. He seemed to wake up and looked into her eyes, smiled back at her.

The coronation was magnificent. It seemed that all of Paris had gathered in the square near the church. Not only high society, but also common people from small to large. There were so many people in the church that, as they say, the apple had no place to fall. Henry stood in magnificent royal robes for the coronation of the French monarchs. Priests of the highest ranks stood next to him, holding on outstretched arms, on velvet cushions, the attributes of royal power to present to the king as a sign of the highest royal power bestowed on the king by God himself. Since the king is the undoubted God’s anointed, fulfilling his will on earth! The coronation ceremony has begun. The priest, reverently, slowly placed on Henry’s head the sign of royalty, a crown studded with precious stones of incredible size and equally beautiful purity. With the words: «Long live the anointed of God, fulfilling the will of God on earth, King of France, Henry II»! And as soon as the last word was uttered, there was such a rumble that it seemed that the walls of the church were shaking. Heinrich turned to face his subjects and his people. Everything seemed to tremble and vibrate from a thousand voices.

Long live the King of France!

Long live Henry II!

Diana stood at the front of the church. She looked at Heinrich. Her heart sank. He stood in the rays of light and greatness, as if towered and hovered above everyone around him. His face was calm and solemn. She looked at him, at the king of France, at her king! And a thought flashed through my head. Vicar of God on earth! The man touched by the hand of God! The entire courtyard present in the church sat down in deep curtsy, as did Diana. Saluting your king!

And so, by a strange dictum of fate, the gatekeeper. Yesterday, courtiers mocking and pouring mud at her. They circled in a hungry flock near the king’s mistress. Not reckless and short-sighted, and therefore so stupid, complained that they turned out to be such. That is, fools! In addition, to their misfortune, Poitiers had a surprisingly good memory! Those, whose prudence, as it turned out, became their undoubted salvation, were glad of their neutral side in the war of the ladies. An example of the fact that Poitiers has a good memory and, as it turned out, unfortunately for many, a vindictive disposition, was one episode. Once, one of the ladies, from among the non-judicious and not in the recent past, allowed herself ridicule and taunts towards Madame de Brese. I tried to make up for the error and soften the corners as they say. This lady came up and tried to talk to Diana. In the hope that Poitiers does not remember her evil tongue. Diana, who was in the flattering crowd surrounding her for a long time and talking with one of the courtiers. Lazily, she turned to the unfortunate cold look full of contempt and arrogance, like an annoying fly. She held them over the lady from top to bottom, as if with two daggers. The stupid lady tried to tell her something. But, Poitiers silently turned away from her, as if she was not at all. Telling the courtiers with whom she spoke.

Come on gentlemen. It seems to have smelled of something rotten here, and I can hear the vile buzzing of flies. Having said this, she walked slowly away. Continuing the conversation, surrounded by the same flattering crowd. Leaving the unfortunate woman in a stupid and humiliated position, completely alone. So those fool who hoped for her bad memory. They realized that her memory, it is true, serves her, to their chagrin. And she’s certainly not going to forget anything. They forever lost the location of the king’s favorite, and hence the location of the king himself. Since everyone knew Heinrich’s affection for Diana. Henry simply gave Diana her enemies. Just laughing at their fate. Knowing that his precious Diana, like a fury, has an extremely vengeful nature. That she will not forget and will not forgive them for their insults.

Her enemies paid dearly for their caustic remarks. They were forever deprived of the king’s favor. Some preferred to retire from the court, as they say, out of harm’s way. Realizing that Poitiers can be extremely vindictive, and deals with enemies without the slightest regret in his heart.

As for the so hateful for Poitiers, de Tamp. She was still in the palace.

A month had passed and De Tamp was waiting for Poitiers to attack like an angry tigress.

She had been expecting an attack from Poitiers from the very first day that Henry was crowned and he became king. But, to her surprise, Poitiers did not show any interest in her.

De Tamp was embarrassed by this strange phenomenon, but in the end decided that Poitiers, reveling in her sudden ascent, forgot about her. De Tamp, however, after the unexpected death of Francis, was immediately forgotten and abandoned by everyone and was left alone. She tried not to catch the eye of Poitiers. Hoping that Diana had completely forgotten about her. And she was already beginning to believe that the storm had passed. As unexpectedly, one sunny, beautiful morning there was a knock on her door. Her servant brought her a gift given by someone. She was very surprised. The painting turned out to be a gift. It was accompanied by a small, elegant letter. Taking it in her hands, de Tamp felt a delicate aroma emanating from him and recognized the small seal, at the house of de Brese, she immediately went cold. With shaking hands, she opened the letter.

It was written in beautiful, clear and graceful handwriting: «To my dearest friend, Mademoiselle de Tamp. With tender love, please accept this gift. In honor that your dearest friend remembers you. «Signed, Countess de Brese.

Unpleasant chills creped down de Tampa’s body. This did not bode well for her. She walked over to the painting and angrily ripped off the fabric in which it was wrapped. A boring and rather tasteless, even ugly still life appeared before her eyes. She grimaced in disgust, but before she knew it, Poitiers fluttered into her room without knocking. De Tamp was taken aback, staring stupidly at the hated Poitiers. But, Poitiers did not stop, quickly walked to her meeting, opening her arms and smiling cheerfully.

Oh my dear friend! Diana sang to her voices. And she came close to de Tamp, hugged her and kissed her on both cheeks, which became paler than the whitest wall.

Poitiers hugged de Tamp so tightly that she was afraid that Poitiers might come to strangle her. But, at some point, Diana still released her, from the steel embrace. With a cheerful cry, she rushed to the picture.

Oh my god! My dear! Poitiers spoke in her sweet voice, as if in a chant. Stretching out every word as if enjoying.

Do you like my gift?

Isn’t he wonderful?

She seemed to be looking at the ugly picture with pleasure.

You know. As soon as I saw this miracle. I immediately remembered about you. Poitiers continued with enthusiasm.

This beautiful painting reminded me of you, my dear!

Poitiers did not take her eyes off the nightmarish still life. Reverently bringing her hands together in front, as if praying, she said.

I thought it might not suit you and your taste.

Diana continued, turning sharply and looking at de Tamp. Her eyes rested on de Tamp, white as a wall. But Poitiers did not calm down, clearly enjoying herself. Quickly, like a cat toss, she walked over to de Tamp and grabbed her hand. From what she had a nervous tic.

Don’t you like it? Frightened and feigned, asked Poitiers.

Oh my god! Don’t blame me!

You know, I’m not as expert in painting as you are. Poitiers continued her torture without allowing de Tamp to answer. Diana continued cheerfully.

You know, I can’t wait. When it’s a miracle. She waved her hand lazily in the direction of the ugly picture. Without taking his eyes off his victim. Like a huge python. She continued.

She will add to your wonderful art gallery on your estate.

De Tamp thought she was about to faint. Diana smiled at her pretend to be naive, still not taking her eyes off her.De Tamp was dizzy. She felt uneasy. Poitiers’ dark brown eyes, in the rays of sunlight beating through the window, suddenly lit up for a moment with yellow lights and became like the eyes of a giant cat watching a mouse, which it holds by its tail. The next minute, going to bite off that head. De Tamp shuddered, trying to stagger away from Poitiers, but the next moment she grabbed her hand again, squeezing her wrist tightly. She smiled sweetly at her. De Tamp had no strength left to pull them out. She twisted her leg and tried not to fall at Poitiers’ feet. Diana smiled, staring at de Tamp with the almost predatory, carnivorous gaze of the hungry cat.

She continued in a chant.

You know what?!

You will leave tonight!

And tomorrow. My wonderful gift. And also, your paintings, which I ordered to be removed in the royal gallery. These were exactly the pictures that de Tamp painted when she was a favorite and adorned the royal gallery. Diana took them off a long time ago, out of sight. She continued.

They will decorate your gallery in your mansion along with my present!

It will be, perhaps, the most worthy and best decoration! She finished almost solemnly, still devouring her victim with her eyes and enjoying her agony. De Tamp weakly tried to escape with the last of her strength. In despair, realizing that Poitiers expels her. She blurted out.

What about His Majesty the King?!

I must inform the king of my departure! Weak, de Tamp said. Trying not to faint. Diana finally released her victim from her tenacious paws, interrupted her.

Ah, my dear. You have nothing to worry about.

I have already discussed everything with His Majesty the King.

He, believe me, is just delighted with my gift!

She blissfully turned her gaze to the ugly painting. She added slowly, in a chant, as if she were singing a song

Oh, how she suits you!

Then she started, as if remembering something.

Oh my god! Honey, it’s time for me to run! She hurried to add.

So tonight.

Don’t forget!

De Tamp tried to say something else, but Diana interrupted her.

And don’t argue, honey! All is decided! Fun, Diana added.

You are leaving tonight!

I, alas, will not come to see you off.

Business, you know.

And tomorrow you will have my present at your estate! She said, and after a pause, finished firmly in the affirmative.

Yes! As if to herself. Still looking in awe at his gift.

And without waiting for an answer, she swam to the exit, rustling her skirts. She had already left, but the edge of her skirt was still slowly creeping into the doorway after her.

Like the tail of a huge snake! A thought flashed across de Tampa’s mind. And she collapsed exhausted on the couch that was next to her. Screaming out hopelessly and trembling all over.


Damn snake!!! And she burst into tears.

De Tamp was expelled from Paris and removed from the court forever. What happened to Poet’s gift, a painting, is unknown to anyone except de Tamp herself.

In the evening, having collected all her things, she went to her carriage. Lifting her head to the palace, she suddenly saw Poitiers standing at the window, she was watching her. Stumbling at the foot of the carriage and nearly falling, de Tamp hurried to hide in the shadow of the carriage. Poitiers looked at the carriage leaving, she smiled!

Heinrich showered his Diana with priceless gifts. To the most enviable crown jewels, he added a huge diamond confiscated from the defeated favorite of the deceased king, the Duchess de Tampa. Diana also got all the castles of the Duchess, as well as the Parisian mansion of her hated rival. Not content with expelling the duchess, Poitiers purged de Tampa’s other supporters. So Pierre Lizet lost his post as prime minister. And Olivier, the chancellor’s office. At the same time, supporters of Poitiers began to receive top government positions. As soon as Henry became king, he remembered his old friends and commanded to entrust Montmorency with the highest state office. Diana did not mind this decision. Since she was supporting the constable. He didn’t give her any fear.

Diana had an amazing habit. Get up early in the morning, at dawn. When the day, together with the birds, only wakes up and the first rays of the sun color the sky. She got up and felt an unreasonable joy. Her soul was filled with peace and tranquility, perhaps comparable to bliss. At this early hour, when the whole world had not yet woken up completely and the air was especially clean, and the singing of birds filled everything around. Diana went to the stable, where a horse was already being saddled for her, and rode on horseback for about an hour. Enjoying this amazing creation of God and nature, dawn, as well as fast driving and a feeling of complete, absolute freedom. Choking on the wind and driving fast. Then, she would come back and take a cool bath to cool down her body, which was heated up by the fast ride. The coolness of the water was very pleasant to her. Her body calmed down and she felt reborn. And then, she went and went to bed, for a few more hours. This ritual became a part of her life. And not a day passed without her meeting the sun. Sometimes she said so.

Hello sun! As if greeted a luminary.

Waking up, after a couple of hours of sleep, she ate breakfast lightly and felt a surge of strength, as if the luminary itself charged her with its light. So her day began. Heinrich sometimes went with her at dawn. But, when he didn’t join her. She quietly crawled out of bed so as not to wake him up, but he always heard her exactly. Then she kissed him gently.

Speaking. Sleep, I’ll be back soon.

And when he returned, and if he was still asleep, she would just as quietly climb under the covers to him.

Heinrich, was married to Catherine de Medici, but had never felt any feelings for to his wife. It was undoubtedly a marriage of convenience. The phenomenon is common, for persons of royal blood. Diana, of course, even at the beginning of their relationship, asked Henry about Catherine. To which, he answered her. That, his heart and his life belong to her only one and it will always be so. And she had to face it. As for Henry. It got to the point that Poitiers practically had to ask him to visit Catherine’s chambers. Diana did not see a rival in the ugly, unprepossessing Catherine.

Henry, Catherine was not interesting. But if, by the way, Catherine, who, by the way, due to the fact that Henry did not want to, simply, perform marital duty with her, does not have an heir and children. Because of this, a divorce could well have happened. And it is not yet known who could be the next contender for Henry’s wife. Therefore, Poitiers chose, as they say, the lesser of evils, that is, Catherine. Once again, when a conversation came with Heinrich that he needed heirs and he could not ignore Catherine. Henry fell into anger and longing about this. First, because he did not want this woman, who was his wife. Secondly, because the woman he loved simply sent him to bed with another. From what, he became completely unhappy. Going to see Catherine, he became nervous and angry. Swearing with swear words, like the last shoemaker in France.

I, the King of France! Heinrich spoke.

Should sleep and please, like the last whore in this kingdom, this woman!

Diana and you yourself are telling me that?! He spoke, offended.

Heinrich, dear. You know perfectly well it breaks my heart!

But we have no control over this!

You will always be married to someone else! You know.

You could never marry me. Sadly, answered Poitiers. Knowing exactly that it was just like that and could not be otherwise. Henry grew even sadder.

I, King Diana!

I, I can do anything! He grinned sadly.

Only, I can’t marry the one I love!

I, would prefer fate, any shoemaker in my country!

Because any shoemaker is freer than me! He finished bitterly.

Diana was silent, her eyes downcast. She didn’t know what to say. Realizing that both of them feel, at this moment, unwitting captives of circumstances that they are unable to change. But, nevertheless, Poitiers did not harbor hostility or did not lead to Catherine. Poitiers even felt sorry for Catherine as a woman. She understood that she, too, was the same hostage of circumstances. That she lived with a man who did not love her. And Diana understood that there is no fate sadder for a woman than being for a husband, for someone who does not love you. So yes. She felt sorry for Catherine. Until, one moment! Which happened once and she realized how passionately Catherine hated her!

Once, Diana asked Catherine de Medici, who was reading a book.

What, are you reading?

What, Medici, answered.

I read the history of France and find undeniable evidence that in this country, harlots have always ruled the affairs of kings.

The hint was clear! She just called her a whore! Poitiers eyes lit up with yellow fire! But, having an iron endurance, which she demonstrated back in the war with de Tamp. Diana did not raise an eyebrow! A second later, she smiled good-naturedly and broadly at Catherine. Answered.

Interested in history?

Really, I wonder?

She’s got a lot of fun!

I, too, find it very interesting how the offspring of merchants suddenly put on a crown!

Read it.

I assure you, you won’t find many such stories!

She finished, still smiling graciously.

Ekaterina fidgeted on the couches. Realizing what was behind Poitiers, the last word remained. Diana said goodbye to Catherine.

I’ll leave you for an educational lesson. She said and walked away. Turning away from Catherine, her smile disappeared from her face, and her eyes darkened.

Ah, here you are!

There is plenty of poison in you! Diana thought to herself, moving away from Catherine.

Only, on me, it will hardly work!

Believe me! She chuckled. Moving away from Catherine.

Okay, I get it, she finished the thought.

We are enemies!

And no way, no other way! Catherine watched as the silhouette of Poitiers receding gracefully floated away. She stared after her with sincere hatred.

Whispered in Italian.

Disgusting whore! But, in her eyes, there was something else, a different feeling, which caused Poitiers in her. This feeling was deep envy, one woman for another. She understood that she would never be like Poitiers. Graceful, dazzling beauty! And so, Catherine, surreptitiously, tried to copy and imitate, Poitiers.

Oh, yes, Ekaterina, everyone saw differently. What she was, and who she really was, but still, secretly in the depths of her soul. She was seen as a calm, humble queen. But how wrong they were! Even Diana did not immediately see who she really is, Catherine de Medici. Even though I saw people, almost through and through. Only now, she realized that Catherine is full of poison and is not at all an innocent lamb. At some point, Diana thought that, perhaps, Henry’s divorce from an Italian woman and marriage to a new passion. Not such a bad idea. But, then, she decided that she was still Italian, not a threat to her, and even less a rival. Plus, now she knows for sure that this snake has poisonous teeth! And this means that you have to keep your friends close! And the enemies are even closer! In order to know and predict all their insidious plans for many steps ahead! And she decided that she would be very close to Catherine! Having come to this conclusion. Diana, she didn’t bother anymore! And, despite the fact that the crown was on the head of one. The real queen was another!

Medici, at first I thought that she could do something against the favorite. And, she ordered to make a hole in the ceiling of Poitiers’ quarters. In the hope of seeing what can be used against the favorite and ridiculed or humiliated her. Or, perhaps, to harm her or something unpleasant. I decided to spy on her and the king. A very spicy scene appeared to the Medici’s eyes. Half-naked lovers comfortably settled on a luxurious bed. Diane de Poitiers looked great!

The lovers had a great time together, doing such madness in bed that the Medici could not have imagined! From which, she first blushed and then turned white. What she saw shocked and upset. The attitude of the king to her became very clear to her. She returned to her room. Her face was still purple from what she saw. She sank into a chair, whispering.

Nasty French whore!

And again, covered with paint, remembering what he saw.

She told everything to one of her close ladies.

She said.

Alas! I regretted seeing what I shouldn’t have!

And, it hurt me.

Catherine realized that Henry was lost to her forever. Never again did she use the hole in the ceiling of the hated Poitiers’ chambers.

Later, she wrote to her daughter: «I welcomed you, Madame de Poitiers, for the king forced me to do this. And at the same time, I always made her feel that I was doing this, to my greatest regret, because never a wife who loves her husband loved his whore! Otherwise, I cannot name it. As if, the persons of our position, it was not painful to pronounce such words. «The Queen even made plans. In order to poison the hated favorite, but the anger of the king in this case. And he would be such that Catherine was even scared to imagine. Stopped her. In general, the Medici’s hatred of Poitiers was overwhelming.

Meanwhile, Poitiers was talked about at court and beyond.

She is more than a queen!

Henry soon learned that the Medici was watching him and Diana. He did nothing against it and did not even punish the lady who accompanied the Medici. Although he knew that the Duchess de Montpensier acted as the queen’s confidant in this episode, and she blabbed about the incident to other maids of honor. Such a contemptuous inaction was perceived at court as a very cruel revenge on the queen.

But, one enemy for Poitiers at court was not enough. Returned after a long absence, one of the king’s close relatives. The person is influential and very rich. He disliked Poitiers at first sight. When Heinrich introduced Poitiers to him, he burned her with an arrogant look, looking down at her and considering her unworthy, neither of his origin, much less of a king. He accepted this acquaintance rather dryly and coldly. Heinrich did not have sympathy for his relative, but was kind to him. Because, otherwise I simply could not. The royal blood that flowed in both veins tightly bound them with invisible ties of kinship. Making him an inviolable person in the state. Which he undoubtedly knew. Allowing yourself liberties that no one else could. Once, at a feast in a drunken stupor. He called Poitiers, an upstart! Not particularly high-born. What was completely wrong.

Diane de Poitiers was from a very ancient, noble family and was always proud and remembered about it. But this rascal was not interested. He wanted to humiliate her. Diana learned about his statements about her later. And as always, it happens in such cases. It is worth saying something once, in one place of the state, as it will be heard on the other side of the country, passing it on from mouth to mouth. So, oh, his unflattering statements about her, everyone learned. The same feeling of hatred that she felt for her late husband, she now felt in relation to him. He also spoke about her in a humiliating manner. Hatred flared up in her again, directed at a relative of Heinrich. He reminded her that the time of her marriage, full of humiliation, for her allegedly not high position. It was believed by people like her husband and this hated, arrogant, scoundrel. Which, she hated, even more, because he reminded her of this. A relative of the king seems to have been imbued with the same hatred for her. Do not forget to pour mud on it wherever I have been. Poitiers, told Henry about it. Oh, the vile speeches that his relative conducts in relation to her. Heinrich sighed. Shaking his head. Knowing your relative.

Diana dear.

Never mind his drunken chatter.

He always had a dirty tongue.

I’ll talk to him and let him know that he doesn’t dare to speak out about you in a similar tone.

He has always been obnoxious.

But, and after the conversation of Henry, the king himself! It seemed to this scoundrel that everything was overwhelming. He did not stop slandering. Henry, seeing that Diana, nevertheless, takes everything to heart. He spoke.


Maybe I should pierce him with my sword!

Believe me, I would, with pleasure!

But, damn it, we are kin!

It would be great, Heinrich! Diana answered.

And you know, my dear, let’s make you a duchess! He chuckled.

Let’s see what then, he says!

She roused herself happily.

Heinrich, will you grant me the title of Duchess?! Poitiers was delighted.

He shrugged.

Who, if not kings, bestow titles? My dear, Diana. He smiled at her.

Ah, me, king! If, you have not forgotten.

She laughed.

No, I haven’t forgotten!

You, my beloved king!

So the king continued.


You will be the Duchess!

Then, my precious relative, there will be no reason to spoil your mood!

Jumping up for joy, Poitiers literally fluttered into his lap, hugging Heinrich by the neck.


Will you do it?!

He smiled.

Of course, my dear.

See, you are smiling again!

Your smile is worth a kingdom!

She blissfully narrowed her eyes, imagining a face, a bastard! When, he learns that the king, raised her to a higher level! She burst out laughing!

Why are you laughing? My dear. The king asked her, smiling.

She exhaled with even greater bliss.

I see the twisted face of your relative!

When he finds out the news.

Heinrich raised an eyebrow and grinned.

Yes, I think he’ll be furious, now Henry himself laughed.

She kissed him on both cheeks for a hundred times!

Heinrich, I adore you! You know!

He laughed.

Yes, my dear.

Oh, how, I adore you! He answered and pulled her closer to him.

So, they laughed and rejoiced, mocking the arrogance and arrogance of a relative of Henry. Which, apparently, forgot that Henry, the king!

King, bestowed upon Diana the title of Duchess of Valantinois. The royal relative, as Henry said, was furious at Poitiers’ ascension from countess to duchess. He hated her even more.


As for the Medici, there is definitely the ascension of Poitiers on the pyramid of the nobility upwards. She accepted, blushing with anger. But, the Medici’s hatred for the Duchess now reached an epic when Henry presented Poitiers with one of the most magnificent castles in all of Europe. Chenonceau Castle on the Cher River.

Light, country residence was located not far from the city of Tours. It was located near the eponymous village of Chenonceau in the French part of Indre and Laura. The castle was built on the site of an old Renaissance fortress. In the surrounding area, magnificent gardens have been arranged. The castle was confiscated from the family of the royal treasurer Thomas Boyer for debts by King Francis 1 and made part of his property, and now it has been inherited by Henry.

Decorative windows on the roof gave the building a special elegance. On one side of Chenonceau, there was a magnificent view of the park. On the other hand, to the enchanting expanses of the Cher River. The castle was just fabulously beautiful! Also, because of its location. Only the queen should own it! The courtiers spoke. Catherine hoped that Henry would present her with this gift. When he gave it to Diana. The Medici almost had a blow. And it became completely clear to everyone. Who is the real queen!

And here Chenonceau appeared before Diana in all his glory. The castle was located by the river, as if hovering over it. It amazed with the abundance of rooms and corridors with splendor and rich decoration inside.

Diana gasped!

God! Henry!

He’s great!

He smiled at her and answered simply.

I knew you would like it.

She walked around as many rooms as she could and looked out the window at the river. She said enthusiastically.

Heinrich, you know!

The bridge is missing here!

He smiled at her. Seeing how happy she is, he said.

You can build at least a hundred of them, Diana!

If you are missing a bridge.

Order it and they will build it for you!

She clapped her hands like a child with joy. The picture of the bridge that she would like to complete was brightly in front of her eyes.

It will be magnificent, Heinrich!

You will see!

Indeed, Poitiers completed a beautiful arched bridge across the river, which gave the impression that the building was floating on water. It was this missing part of the complete picture that appeared before her eyes that made the castle just a magical palace on the water! And she enveloped the castle in a romantic atmosphere.

Also Poitiers on the other side of the castle decided to decorate the territory with parks. The park of the Château de Chenonceau and the orchard (one of the most beautiful gardens in France) were redesigned

Chenonceau impressed with painted ceilings, tiled floors and an art gallery. Expensive tapestries, marble fireplaces and all the incredible luxury and beauty. Chenonceau became their favorite place, where they, together with Henry, arrived as much of the time as possible that the king could afford to be away from Paris.

Diana stood naked with her back to Henry next to the open door, on a large balcony terrace overlooking their bedroom.

It was a lovely night. The full moon shone in the sky with its silver light. The night revealed all its beauty.

Smells and songs of the night filled the world, the warble of a cricket, mingling with the distant cries of an owl and the divine singing of a nightingale.

The night has filled the world with its mysterious beauty.

A river rustled somewhere in the distance.

The scent of a climbing rose that strewn the castle walls, interspersed with the wet scent of water, made my head spin.

Moonlight illuminated her figure, staining her white skin with a slightly bluish silver light. This gave the impression that he seemed to come from the most standing naked Poitiers. Enveloping her figure in a silver cloud and mixing with a waterfall of black hair, still slightly wet from Henry’s stormy embraces, falling down. Which, like a black waterfall, scattered over white skin, like a black river on white sand? She froze in place, fixing her gaze somewhere into the distance. As if looking beyond one of her guided horizon.

She stared into the distance, frozen in place, like a silver statue. Heinrich called her by name. She woke up as if she had returned from her fabulous country. She turned her head slightly towards him and looked at him with a slight smile. He was simply bewitched by this picture!

His heart skipped a beat.

He lay naked on a bearskin, one of his trophies, which lay on the floor by the fireplace and was still lit at night as the nights were still chilly. The fire was dying out in the fireplace, reflecting on his slightly dark skin in gold. He spoke as if spellbound, not taking his eyes off her.

Admit it, Diana. Heinrich said.

Are you the immortal moon goddess Artemis?

Tell me Diana. Where do you hide your crescent tiara?

Admit it; did you come down from Olympus?

See how we mortals live here?

I promise to keep your secret!

What are you among mortals! He continued.

Looking at her hair whipping up in magical waves from the warm wind suddenly flowing from the open window. His heart sank and beat so hard that he thought he would suffocate and it would jump out of his chest. She turned to him, smiling tenderly, answered.

Don’t say that to Henry.

Goddesses are jealous, you know.

Artemis will hear you speak and be angry with me. She sang in her own voice.

I’m just a woman.

She added, walking into his arms.

He held out his arms to her, wanting her to quickly be in his arms.

Diana. He said. Hugging her and hugging her.

Admit it, though.

Where did you hide your crescent tiara?

He added, barely audible, gasping for breath from his own heartbeat. Hearing its pounding in the ears and how hard it beats. Feeling enveloping, as if invisible covered her light, sweet scent. For some time it seemed to him that his head was spinning and he, taking off from the ground, was hovering somewhere in zero gravity among a billion stars. Somewhere far from the sinful land. Her scent enveloped him completely, like a million small silk ribbons, caressing his skin. This gave him goosebumps. Running all over the body with hot streams and pounding in the head and temples with his own heart. He completely forgot about everything in the world, except for her and her smell. Her hair fell in black streams over his strong shoulders and it seemed to him that a crescent moon flashed in them. This world floated away and became hazy. And he seemed to be in another world, unknown and beautiful, from which he did not want to return! She hugged him, wrapping her white arms around his neck. And he realized that he was in captivity, from which he did not want to free himself! That he would never live again without this sweet captivity!

That he never wanted anything more than to be captivated by her hair, her scent and her white tender body, now pressing against him. Feeling her tender and hot kiss on his lips, he pressed her closer to him. As if afraid that this obsession will disappear and melt away. He pulled her closer to him, kissing her soft, sweet lips like honey.


Once, while in Paris in the palace. Diana, as always comfortably sitting on his lap, dangled her legs, enjoying their carelessness.

Honey, I have to go, said Heinrich.

But she didn’t want to let him go.

But Heinrich, don’t go!

You’re the king!

And you can do whatever you want! Capriciously pouting, said Poitier.

That’s because I’m a king. My dear Diana. I have to go.

Well, where are you going?! She continued not to let go of King Poitiers.

To which he replied that he had a meeting scheduled for this time and he was already late thanks to her, which he hated to do.

What kind of meeting?! She snorted, moody.

Which meeting is dearer to you than me?! She pouted her lips again.

My dear Diana. The meeting I need to go to.

And believe me, I really don’t feel like doing this.

And I’d rather stay with you. But, unfortunately, I still have to go.

But if you don’t feel like Heinrich, you don’t have to go! She continued.

Raising her index finger into the sky and busily uttering it, like a very important thing. Why he laughed and answered.

Madam. Will you finally rise? Or should I put you on your own feet? The king continued laughing.

Poitiers shook her head, not going to get up from his knees and also continuing to swing her legs. He sighed.

Do you think I enjoy listening to the boring speeches of courtiers?

But, it’s my duty, madam. Added by the king. Mimicking her gesture by lifting her index finger up and making an important expression befitting a king. This time Poitiers laughed. She put her arms around his neck.

Well, don’t go! She was capricious. Shaking his head like a dummy what did it mean? Well, say no, and don’t go. While making unhappy eyes.

He laughed.

Well, maybe you can go?

Look at how torment this is! The king laughed at his joke.

Here I go! Poitiers said, jumping off his knees. Frowning menacingly and stretching her hand forward, she shook her index finger at someone unknown.

And I will disperse all these bores!

So that these idiots don’t distract you from more important things anymore! She spoke importantly. By the more important thing, meaning that they do not get in the way of enjoying each other. The king was already enjoying himself heartily.

From important matters?! Heinrich said laughing.

That is, so that no one distracts me from you?!

My dear, Henry laughed.

Go ahead and scold them for this! He had fun with all his heart.

Of course! She answered, almost seriously.

Here I go!

Well, go on! Are you here?! Heinrich answered.

He was already laughing, getting so excited that it seemed like he was going to cry with laughter.

My dear, I give you my word.

You will escape from them in 5 minutes! Heinrich added, having fun.

Well, I’ll go! Frowning, she continued.

Well, go already! He continued laughing. The king was already so amused that, dangling his legs to the side of the chair, in which he no longer sat, but almost lay, he chatted with them, having fun with all his heart.

Will you give me your royal seal? Diana said, making a naive angelic face. This time, he already laughed so that tears still gushed from his eyes. He barely calmed down from his fit of tearful laughter, answered her laughing.

God! Diana!

You want to kill me with laughter?!

Of course I won’t give you my seal! He laughed.

What good, you start spanking it, right and left indiscriminately.

And what good, make a commotion and confusion in the state! He laughed.

She pouted. As if she really thought that the king would give her his seal, and now she was offended by him for not doing so. Why he had a fit of laughter again.

Come on madam, are you going? He said, having fun, Heinrich.

Yes, I’m coming! You’re Majesty!

Harmful, she added, making a face at him and showing a sharp little tongue. Like a little girl with bad manners. The king pointed to the door as if speaking.

Come on, go madam!

Throwing her chin up, she turned and walked confidently out of the room. He called after her.

Tell me I sent you.

He was still laughing.

See you in 5 minutes! He added.

Poitiers entered the meeting room. The men were quietly talking to each other, when they saw her; they stared at her in surprise. She took a deep breath like a swimmer before diving into the abyss and heading towards the place of honor for the king. The looks of those present became even more surprised. She sat down gravely in the king’s place. Those present fell silent, watching her in surprise. She whispered to the advisor that she was sitting next to her. That today, by order of the king. The meeting will be chaired by her. He shook his head, professionally maintaining composure and announced this to everyone present in the hall. There was a booming whisper like a swarm of flies. Showing how they could not agree with this. Realizing that she must do something. Poitiers rose resolutely and importantly from her seat, or rather from the seat of the king. She raised her hand sharply, attracting their attention and spoke loudly and clearly.

Gentlemen, let’s start the meeting! Thus suppressing their hum.

And sat down in her seat again. The meeting began. It went on for two long hours! Fortunately, there was an adviser nearby who knew his business. She didn’t really understand what they were talking about and what exactly they were talking about. At the same time, pretending to be important, as if she understood every word. But the essence is still, she caught. They provided tax reporting on the use of royal lands.

It was about tax payments to the state treasury. The meeting was about this. In the reports, everything was described in detail, providing the final amount. At first, orally in reports, a detailed report was attached to this, on papers. Signature and seal, which the king should have put. Some of the noblest and richest nobles from all over France took part in the reports. In general, the Minister of Finance followed this all. It was more paper for bookkeepers, bookkeeping. By the end of the meeting, a large pile of papers had gathered, which Diana did not understand at all. After everyone finished reading their reports. The meeting was over. What the same advisor announced. A pile of papers lay in front of her. She stood up saying. That all the papers will be handed over to the king. Having said goodbye to those present with a bow of her head, she left the hall, heading to where she had left Henry. Carrying under his arm, an impressive pile of papers. Refusing the help of the adviser and the secretary, who wanted to bring the papers to the king? She found Henry bored.

What have you been doing there for so long?! He was surprised.

Seeing a pile of papers in her hands, he said.

Get it over here, I’ll put my seal.

And he added indignantly.

And why are you carrying them yourself?!

Why are there, I wonder, the councilor and the secretary! He muttered angrily.

But she withdrew her hand with the papers.

What?! She was surprised.

Are you going to approve all this?!

Well, of course I’m going to approve that. Heinrich answered.

Let’s get it over with, Diana. He added, reaching out his hand again for the papers.

But you haven’t even checked them! She said, surprised.

He sighed and said.

My dear Diana. Do you know how many of these papers I have to stamp?

I can’t check them all.

I have ministers for this.

Sometimes, yes. The royal lands are fully tested, audited.

But as I told you, my ministers are in charge.

She was surprised and answered.

But if they rob you?!

How do you know?

Heinrich smiled, grinning.

My dear. Yes, I’m even sure of that!

But I can’t keep track of everyone, unfortunately.

Plus, I don’t think they are writing off large amounts.

It is simply impossible to check everyone all the time.

Poitier responded to this.

Heinrich let me see it through to the end, since you let me start.

He looked at her in surprise.

So what are you going to do? He asked.

Check them out! She answered seriously.

He smiled.

Okay, check it out.

Okay, then this will take me a while. She said.

I’ll tell you about the results later.

Well, let it be your way, he agreed.

Just don’t wait too long with this.

These bores will torture me with their reports.

And a whole mountain of papers will accumulate.

She smiled and simply said, okay.

So, Poitiers sat over the papers, leafing through them and nothing really, not understanding them. She thought about it.

How can I check and verify them all?

Who will help me figure this out?

She went over in her head people who, in her opinion, are competent in such matters. When it seemed to dawn on her.


She said out loud.

Yes, exactly! Cardinal!

Jumping up, she got up from the chair enthusiastically. Cardinal was known as an expert not only in paperwork and reports. But in general, he was an incredibly gifted person in many ways. He was known as an all-knowing man. She immediately, without a moment’s hesitation, wrote a letter to the cardinal. Requesting an appointment. By sending the message immediately. She received a rather quick reply that he would be glad to see her.


Poitiers entered the spacious, bright, and quite different from a monk’s cell, elegantly furnished cardinal’s reception room. Not keeping him waiting to meet her, a small, plump man with a round belly and short arms, a red-faced and chubby man ran out to meet her. And if it were not for his cardinal’s hat and clergy’s cassock, then you could easily take him, this shining smile, short man, for your kind uncle. He rushed to her, beaming with a smile.

Oh, what am I a humble monk, which of course has nothing to do with the luxurious furnishings, owe your visit, madam?

You light up my humble cell!

Diana smiled, laughing inwardly at such a strikingly untrue comparison. The truth in all this, it was only that he really was a man of the church, the representative of the pope in France. That is, a person endowed with great power and, in fact, was the second person after the king. Since, not one important document was not finally approved, without the consent of God and the will of God on earth. That is, the sacred church, which means they are a cardinal. And in general, they said about the cardinal that a mouse would not slip past him, which was undoubtedly true. Because, with his blessing and under his leadership, there was a secret police, covered by the church itself. Whose spies were everywhere. And, of course, this organization was not public. However, this did not mean that she was not there. And how wrong you would be! By mistaking a cardinal for your simple kind uncle. The cardinal, as already mentioned, was the second most influential person in the kingdom after the king, with a razor-sharp mind. And also, undoubtedly, a person is far from simple, and who knows everything that is happening around. Thanks of course to my spies. The cardinal was one of the richest and most influential people in all of France. He was almost fabulously rich, but also fabulously stingy. This small man loved to eat well and was a real gourmet and connoisseur of good wine. He loved him, with a devoted and almost tender love. But don’t be fooled. He was not a drinker, not at all. He was a true gourmet and loved to enjoy its taste. His wine collection and his wine cellar were amazing. It was even, perhaps, much better than the royal wine cellaring. The cardinal sipped the wine with his plump lips, relished and sniffed, and only then, with pleasure, drank it, in small sips. His nose, so to speak for wine, was almost like a greyhound for game. Sniffing at the drink of the gods, as the cardinal lovingly called wine. He could tell you where it came from. Whether from the hills of Italy, from what region, or from the green hills of France and exactly from where. He really was a connoisseur of this wonderful drink and loved it like a woman. Since being a monk, he renounced female love, undoubtedly replacing it with a love of wine. He admired the bottle and the color of the contents and, in general, could talk about it endlessly. Poitiers, sat down on the chair offered to her by the cardinal. She began to tell why she had come. Looking into the sly eyes of the cardinal and smiling sweetly at him. She handed him a stack of papers. The cardinal sat down at the table, took the papers, and began to study them carefully. But, after a few minutes, he got up from the table. He smiled at her broadly and with good disposition, said.

Madam, there is nothing serious here.

So, accounting records of estates and estates standing on the royal land and, accordingly, information about the taxes levied.

Any bookkeeper can decide.

And doesn’t that apply to the finance minister? He continued.

I don’t understand madam, why would you puzzle over this?

And, still smiling broadly, he continued.

And what is your question for me?

And how can I be of service to you? He said, seemingly losing interest in the papers and in her. But at the same time, everything is the same, smiling professionally.

He started to speak, changing the subject of the conversation.

Madam, tell me how is his majesty?

But, she interrupted him before he could finish, clearing her throat slightly.

But, you didn’t listen to the end. Said Poitiers sweetly. And she smiled at him as professionally as the cardinal himself.

He raised an eyebrow, clearly not expecting such pressure.

Ah, excuse me madam. Still surprised at her push, he replied.

Thinking all this to myself and all the same, without removing the smile from his face and showing nothing of his thoughts. But for Poitiers, nevertheless, his thoughts did not go unnoticed. She read them, by the slight bewilderment of the cardinal and his raised eyebrow. Poitiers was an incredibly insightful person and no mask could hide your true thoughts from her. But, she pretended that she had not noticed anything.

So, I would like to check the records in these papers, she said.

As you can imagine, I am not very well versed in these matters.

And this is what brought me to you, in the hope of help and support, and your undoubtedly competent advice. She finished. Throwing at him the same sly look as the cardinal himself.

Smiling at him, the most beautiful and sweetest smile in my arsenal.

So, she continued.

Not finding a smarter, more knowledgeable and gifted person in the whole country.

I have arrived at your sweet cell. She said, casting a sweeping glance at the luxurious hall. As if, having made a circle with his eyes, and a cheerful grin barely flickered in them. The cardinal, however, noticed and caught all of her intonations. He answered, with the same sly look, smiling broadly, but already very attentively examining the interlocutor. Only his eyes narrowed slightly, showing an already undisguised curiosity. The smile never left his lips. He answered, however, in surprise.


It seems like the first time in this conversation, it was sincere.

Yes, she confirmed.

So could you help me? She said.

It was undoubtedly a request. Her tone, however, was very sweet. She pretended to be a lovely lady in need of help. Although she knew perfectly well that the cardinal would hardly touch it. But, it would have amused his pride, the blessing in him, there was plenty of him. And besides, help the king’s mistress. By providing a service. This might be something he could use in the future, the cardinal thought. Poitiers still smiling innocently. Perfectly understanding the train of his thoughts, smiling to himself.

Use it!

Well, it’s a lie!

So they thought, each to him. Perfectly playing this performance. He became serious, thinking about something for a moment. Calculating all your benefits. But after a second, he put on again, a ceremonial smile.

Yes, of course, madam.

This is certainly possible to arrange.

For you, and for you, madam, such a beautiful flower of France, you can do anything! Smiling, he answered.

Throwing flattery like a piece of wood on fire. Poitiers smiled sweetly at the flattery, remaining completely indifferent to her.

I can send my bookkeepers and accountants with audits to the estates listed above. So that they check everything on the spot, all the reports on the estates and the numbers in the documents provided.

But, this will take a little time.

You understand that this is not a small number of estates.

Anyway, madam, I am at your disposal. He replied and smiled at her again.

I’ll be immensely grateful to you. Poitiers began to shine.

Well, I’ll leave the papers for you and look forward to the result.

Madame, I will inform you immediately. You can rely on me.

He smiled at her again, his professional smile, as if he wore it at will. Looking closely at Poitiers, as if he had not spoken to her for half an hour. She thanked the cardinal again and said goodbye to him. He looked like your kindest uncle again. Having said.

Madam, I will not let you go, without a small gift, from the poor monk.

This comparison, completely untrue, amused Poitiers again. Well, of course she didn’t show it.

Take from me a bottle, the finest nectar on earth.

He meant wine. He began to praise the wine. And, right here, he was really sincere. He praised wine like a lover to his beloved.

It’s a miracle, madam!

They brought me from Italy.

Poitiers thanked him. But, she refused the gift, citing the fact that she had to run away. And, next time, she will certainly accept his generous gift. The cardinal seemed quite sincerely saddened. Having said that next time she would not accept her refusal, from his gift from the gods, as he lovingly called wine. She gave him an innocent smile and left. As soon as the door was closed behind her, not a trace remained of the kind uncle. He sat down with a pensive look at the table and put his plump hand, with a huge ring, the cardinal’s sign adorning a plump finger, on the table. He began to methodically beat a fraction on the table with his finger. There was no longer that wide smile on his face. And, from that, his face now looked like, thanks to its not small nose, like a shark’s face, with the same small and sharp eyes. He gazed thoughtfully at Poitiers closing the door behind him. He turned his gaze to the pile of papers on the table left by Diana. After thinking about something for a minute, he resolutely took a small bell on the table and rang it. He ordered the servant who came immediately, like a gin from a bottle. Call his accountants, auditors and accountants to him.


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