THE ADVENTURES OF
MONSIEUR DE LA DONAREE
A Swashbuckling, Romantic Adventure
by: Ted Anthony Roberts
A Mysterious Note
“This party is getting a bit wild.” says Donaree to a very beautiful woman. “Would you care to step out onto the balcony with me?”
“What do you have in mind, sir?” asks she in return, with a smile.
“Red wine is very good – but there is no comparison to the taste of beautiful red lips!” comments Donaree, returning the lady’s smile with one of his own.
“You have convinced me, sir.” says she, holding out her arm to the Musketeer. He takes her arm into his own, and they both proceed out onto the balcony.
The air is crisp and cool, the stars show brightly in the heavens, and the moon is so enticingly beautiful that the couple cannot help but to indulge themselves into a kiss. But first, they look into one another’s eyes, and smile boldly with eager anticipation.
“Madame de La Rose,” Donaree says, addressing the lady before him, “how can any man resist you?”
“If my lover had heard you say that, sir, he would have some words to exchange with you.”
“Oh? And what would I say to myself?”
“Well, you would say,” she continues, while taking his arms and placing them around her waist, “you would say in your conceited way,” she laughs a little, while Donaree’s eyes bulge at the statement, ‘“I, the greatest Musketeer, am the luckiest of all men, for I have Madame de La Rose as my lover!’”
“Why, your lover must indeed be conceited!”
“Because he thinks himself the greatest of all Musketeers?” she asks, increasing her smile.
“No, because he thinks he is the luckiest of all men for having you as his lover.”
“What!” she screams, bulging her eyes as well.
He bellows out with a hearty laugh. “Touché, my sweet!” he says. “It seems that you are correct about your lover: he is the happiest of all men, for he has indeed the most beautiful of women to love him. For that statement, I will most certainly agree.”
“Well, that is better.” she concludes.
They then proceed to kiss. Still in their embrace, their lips begin to slowly move in toward each other. Closer and closer their heads come together, their lips parting, while anticipating the moment when their lips will finally meet . . . then, bump! Suddenly, an image of the older man appears – that is, the older man who had bumped into Donaree, intentionally, and who had challenged him to a duel! The entire scenery around Donaree begins to change. No longer is Madame Rose standing before him; no longer is he on a balcony; no longer is he even in the same location he was in just two seconds earlier. Instead, his body is located in the midst of a Paris street. The sun is still up, and yet getting ready to go down; and the streets are completely crowded: filled with merchants; buyers; peasants; beggars; and soldiers – including Donaree and the older man.
“Why don’t you watch where you are going!” the older man screams. “Do you want to get yourself thrashed for running into people like that?”
“Excuse me, sir, but you bumped into me.”
“Are you calling me a liar?”
Finally, Donaree wakes from his dream! His eyes open, and he starts looking around. It is very dark, a few candles flicker on the wall, and the fireplace is aglow with bright colored flames. His attention now turns to the left, and he sees, hanging on the chair beside him, his stockings, his hat, his sword (enclosed in its shoulder-belt), his cape and his gloves; sitting next to the chair, on the centerpiece rug, are his boots. He then pulls his pocket-watch out and looks at the time.
“7:30?” he says, knitting his brows slightly. “I have slept the entire day; how unusual. It must have been because I only got a few hours sleep last night, and that I stayed up for so many hours.”
After saying this, he stands up out of his chair, and, just as he is putting his watch away, there is a knock at the front door; so his gaze now turns into this direction.
“Who can that be?” he silently exclaims. “I’m not expecting anyone tonight.”
Another knock then sounds, but the pounding is much more furious than at first.
Sitting on a small table beside his chair is a half empty glass of Burgundy wine, which he had poured for himself just this morning. He takes this and finishes the delicious taste in one gulp, then proceeds toward the door. But before he has time to even reach the antechamber, a third and more anxious knock occurs.
“Whoever this is,” thinks Donaree, “they seem to be quite impatient.”
He opens the door.
Standing before him is a person who, evidently, does not want to be recognized, for their entire personage is covered with a dark cloak that blends into the shadows that the night is producing. Donaree stares at this strange form only for a second.
“Yes?” he asks, somewhat confused.
A gloved hand, just as dark as the form, extends a note out toward the curious Musketeer; and he slowly takes it.
“Who is this from?” he asks the stranger. “Is this from Captain d’Artagnan?”
From pure accident, the hood of the cloak falls slightly from the face of the stranger, revealing the structure of a very pretty girl! Donaree, wide-eyed with surprise, instantly recognizes her as the maid of his lady love.
“Missy?” he says.
Startled to the point of fear, she quickly runs off into the direction of the street.
“Missy!” he yells.
But she doesn’t look back, not even once, and keeps running; and soon the darkness of the night devours her.
He shuts the front door, walks directly to the fireplace for lighting, leans upon the mantle, and looks curiously at the mysterious piece of paper.
“It’s Madame de La Rose’s letter, alright: I recognize the seal. But why would my love send her maid all the way over here to deliver this letter in such a costume that I would not recognize her?”
He brings the letter close to his face, smells the perfumed scent that the letter produces, and smiles at such a familiar aroma. Then, finally, he breaks the seal.
Upon reading the letter, confusion springs from his imagination.
“I need your help!”
There is no signature, but he does recognize such a dear handwriting – even though it is a bit shaky in its appearance.
“What on earth could be wrong?” he whispers, as his eyebrows begin to frown.
Slowly he folds the letter, and puts it into his pocket. A troubled feeling then starts to intensify within this man. Wasting no time, Donaree quickly slides his bare feet into his boots; and as he slips the shoulder-belt, equipped with sword, over his head and onto his shoulder, he places the weapon at its respectful location to his left side. Leaving all candles and fires burning, he then, after grabbing his hat and gloves, heads out immediately.
He briskly walks down the streets of the famous city of lights; it isn’t until he is nearly three blocks from his apartment, however, when he begins to notice that the coolness of the evening is penetrating the sleeves of his silk shirt, causing goose-bumps to form on his arms. He then realizes that he forgot to wear his cloak.
“It is a chilly night,” he says, “but I’m not turning back to get my cloak. Something is wrong, and I intend to find out what!”
He quickens his pace, passes a few streets, makes a left turn, and finally faces the front of a beautiful two story home – which is the abode of his lady love.
This château has the very look of comfort. The steep, dark brown shingled roof, and the gold trimmed windows, gives the impression that it had been built for admiration and for show by the wealthy, perhaps a century ago. This dwelling is made of cut stones, varying in hues of pinks, greys and blues, with small white rocks interspersing – merely adding to its richness. And the look is made complete with perfectly trimmed hedges that sit on both sides of the entryway. Six large steps lead to the porch, and were built in a half-circle formation. One could take a short walk on each foothold, but tonight Donaree pays no attention to any of the great qualities of this château, and he does not try to be supple as he climbs these extraordinary stairs, for he is missing every other step as he bounds up to the great stone porch.
Upon reaching the entrance, he knocks on the front door. There is no answer, so he knocks a second time. He then hears someone slowly throw the bolt; and after only a moments pause, the door handle starts to turn. Finally, but very slowly, the door begins to open, and suddenly stops only three inches from where it originally stood.
Donaree looks on with pure curiosity.
A pretty eye starts looking at him through the small opening of the doorway. Two eyes, or rather three, join in a state of staring, until the one eye from behind the door recognizes the huge soldier. Upon this, the girl immediately swings open the door, throws herself into the Musketeer’s arms, and starts screaming a cry of relief.
“Ah! Monsieur de La Donaree – how happy I am to see you.”
“You weren’t so happy to see me a few moments ago.” says he, seeing that it is again Missy the maid: a girl of eighteen years, with blonde flowing hair, and who has the prettiest of blue eyes.
“But you do not understand,” she says, “I had to hurry back to be by the side of my mistress.”
“Missy, let me speak with Madame Rose.”
“I wish I could let you, but you see, she is not here – she has left without me!”
“Well, where did she go?”
“Oh, if I knew that, I would not be so upset!”
He pulls her from his body. “Missy,” he says, holding the girl by the shoulders, and looking straightway into her eyes, “I have a feeling that you are not telling me everything.”
Tears begin flowing! “Oh, monsieur, you must help my mistress.”
“But how can I help her if you do not tell me what has happened? Now, calm yourself, Missy – and start from the beginning.”
He now hands her his handkerchief, a very expensive one, and she wipes glittering tears from such a sad face.
“Well, monsieur,” she begins, calming herself, but still choked from grief, “it was not thirty minutes ago when someone knocked at the front door. Naturally, I answered it, and found standing in front of me two men that I could hardly see in the darkness; but, from the voice which I heard, I did not recognize them.”
She pauses for a moment, as if thinking over what she is going to say next.
“Yes,” Donaree says, “go on.”
“Well, it occurred so quickly, monsieur, that it is really hard to say what exactly happened, or for what reason. They asked for my mistress; of course, I obeyed and, leaving them at the doorway, I fetched her. And, sir, I am sorry to say, out of respect for my mistress, that I did not stay with her when she talked with them.”
“Leaving her alone with two men whom you knew not?” asks Donaree, a little uneasy.
“But, Monsieur Donaree, I have said that I left out, but I failed to mention that Madame de La Rose gave me a sign to leave. Perhaps they had need of a private conversation. Only moments later my mistress walked into the adjoining room where I was cleaning, and, most unfortunately, she was in eyesight of those two men, who were still standing at the doorway. Although the men were watching her, all they could see was her back, she being very careful to keep her back toward them. And, as she reached for her cloak with one hand, with the other, shaking in her nervousness, quickly wrote down those four words, which I’m sure that you have read. The look she gave me then was, without any mistake, a plea for me to seal her note and to deliver it safely to you. She then looked me straight in the eye – and, monsieur, her eyes were tear stricken!”
At the words ‘tear stricken’, a jolt travels through Donaree’s body!
Continuing, the maid says: “Then madame whispered: ‘Missy, I have to trust that you will deliver this message to Monsieur Donaree. Adieu.’”
“Adieu?” Donaree screams.
“That is what I said: ‘But why goodbye, madame?’”
“‘I have no time to talk, Missy.’ she insisted. ‘Now do as I bid, please!’ Sealing the letter as fast as lightning, madame blocking their view for me, I then scooted to the side until my presence could not seen by those men; I darted out the back door, delivered the letter to you, and quickly returned. But it was too late – they were nowhere to be seen!”
Donaree’s head falls to his chest. “No!” he moans, in a deep sigh.
There is now a moment of silence, with Donaree’s head still bowed low, and Missy feeling a deep sob coming on. The unhappy girl, once again, starts to weep. She throws her hands to her face to cover the flowing tears. Donaree, upon hearing her, regains himself, lifts his head, and feels sorry for the young maid.
“Please, Missy, do not cry.” he says to her, while pulling her hands away from her face, “I will find Madame de La Rose and bring her back to us – I swear! I will follow her to the ends of the earth, and back again. Do you believe this, Missy?”
“Oh, yes, Monsieur Donaree, I believe that you would. But where could you possibly look for her?”
“That’s a good question, Missy, and I will have to think of something. It will help, though, if you can give me a description of the abductors; if, of course, they are abductors. Are you positive that she went unwillingly?”
“Monsieur, there can absolutely be no doubt.” the girl cries, “Their mere actions delivered a positive act of abduction!”
“It’s apparent, alright. Now, think, Missy, and explain the features of those men.”
“Oh, monsieur, I don’t know if I could do that! The night shaded them in the doorway, and, being so frightened, I have become blinded by fear.”
“But you recognized me when I knocked at your door.”
“But you are so easy to recognize, sir. Your clothes; your form; and your plume hanging from your hat – there is not another like it in the whole of Paris!”
“Really?” he says, while glancing to his side, and looking at this magnificent plume.
“Hum!” Donaree says; and he then turns back to Missy, after being momentarily distracted, and also shaking his head a bit. “Well,” he continues, returning to the matter at hand, “is there anything that you could add that may help in any way?”
“Come to think of it, I did see, beyond the two men standing in the doorway, the form of a carriage hitched with four horses. I could see this because it was near a street lamp.”
“Is there anything else?”
“No, that is all, I am sorry to say.”
“Very well; thank you, Missy. You go back inside now, bolt your door, and do not answer to anyone, save I or Madame Rose. Do you understand?”
“You’re not going to leave me here alone, are you?”
“I must search for Madame Rose, Missy. You want her back, don’t you?”
“Of course I do, but I am so scared!”
“I know. But I must look for her.”
“Yes, yes, you are right.” she says, agreeing with the logic. “Please be careful, monsieur!”
He then turns on his heel and walks away.
Missy, willingly following Donaree’s advice, quickly bolts the front door. She then runs to her room, locks her own door, and sits in the corner of her bed with her covers completely over her – and having an expression of horror upon her face.