The Prince and his Jester
The disgust which overwhelms you in the presence of Armand de Conti is the price you pay for the bliss of seeing Anne. To become fully aware of the vanity of this Prince one has to know that he even boasts with his hunchback considering it as a special distinction. Armand de Conti admires himself to the point of being fascinated by his reflection in the mirror like a lark by a lure.
You have become his servant, Jean-François! His jester! His buffoon! A cap with bells, a court-fool’s babble and your love for Anne! How can one combine the irreconcilable? A jester and a Princess! How will you succeed in make her loving you?
“Write us a poem, Jean-François!” Your master commands haughtily.
You clench your teeth. A hard, icy disgust eats your heart out.
“Oh yes, Jean-François! Please!” Anne’s voice makes you faint. Her eyes, the gleaming magic caverns, bewitch you and you stagger under their blue-green sparkle.
Overjoyed at pleasing your Princess you forget Conti. The words, stretching their unbridled heads, gallop so nobly that they brush against Olympus’ peaks.
The Beauty that I serve and who is so cruel
Is rightly called by all the Miracle of Heaven
She is the Pain of my Heart and the Bliss of my eyes
And the Divine Object of my Immortal Pleasure
The Mother of Love has never been as fair
Her glances are overwhelming victors everywhere
And her bewitching mouth so graceful in her speech
Is fragrant with the scent of a fresh-blown rosebud
Her extreme charm urges me to adore her
Her extreme rigour prohibits any hope
Her beauty claims my heart, her rigour claims my life
Hence only death can heal me
Nevermore having known Sylvie I can not
See her without loving her, nor love her without dying
She recognises herself in Sylvie. A languorous shiver runs through her body nestling in an armchair of mauve satin, embroidered with thousands of pink rosebuds. A delighted sigh escapes her mouth.
The words, crowned with narcissus, exhale a honeyed scent descending to the bottom of their exposed hearts.
“Let’s play!” Commands the Princess and her white hand, alighting on the Poet’s brow, inflames it like mountain peaks in sunset.
“Our play is called “Who loses wins,” my fair Princess”, whispers the Poet. Breathless with adoration he offers her a stanza:
At last I must die paying homage to Sylvie
In vain my reason urges me
To see the chasm and step back
In scorn I reject its vile advice
And my sublime pride
Is to find my death at the hand of this Divine being.
You asked for it, Princess. You got it. This stanza is distinguished in spirit, mood and plot. All, even death suits you.
“The rarest thing in a courtly game is love,” La Rochefoucauld sneaks in snake-like.
Not you again, moralist! Stop sniggering and disappear! You don’t belong into this chapter. Your turn will come! I swear! You asked for it. Beware!