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PASCHIN SUR SEINE
The chateau of Paschin sur Seine, Cardinal Richelieu's 'hunting lodge'.
The 'Eminence Rouge' is entertaining King Louis and Queen Anne
This morning the royal party have decided to take the air
Queen Anne takes the coach with the long-awaited Dauphin, Prince Louis
While the King, his latest mistress and the cardinal, off-duty in mufti, follow behind
Meanwhile the Four Musketeers - Alice, Bathos, Pathos and Chanel - arrive to meet the usual welcome
Chanel kneels to absolve his opponent, but there is no time for idle obstruction - they bring dire warning - a rebellious rabble has been raised by the Duc De Rohan and is even now......
The crash of musketry signals they may already be too late - for back on the Esplenade a guard is tumbling from the saddle and the formal gardens are suddenly alive with howling rascals.
King Louis does not hesitate, but swings about and spurs away, Madame Dezone and the Cardinal hard behind - all galloping to bring help, no doubt!
As the remaining guards go down the rebels surge towards the defenceless Queen and the precious heir, but here come our heroes just in time
Driving the rebels back momentarily they rescue the coach party, but outnumbered ten-to-one and with the enemy closing on either flank can do no more than make them pay dear as they give ground
A strew of bodies marks their retreat, but not without cost, the royal grooms shot down as they panicked and attempted to flee, Pathos downed by a ball in the shoulder, Chanel by a thrust through the thigh - only the very press of their enemies preserves Alice and Bathos from being shot too as they weave a flickering wall of desperate courage around their Queen.
Yet help is even now at hand and the wiser rebels already start to think of escape.
Suddenly the gardens are alive with scarlet heroes, slaughtering the fugitives
Meanwhile, a belated ring of doughty scarlet engulfs Queen Anne and the Dauphin as Her Majesty supervises the loading of her wounded protectors and promises the care of her own physician
A week later, King Louis steps forward to recognise the heroic service of the quartet while the court acclaims them and the Cardinal sits in silence
The choir raises a Te Deum as the cheers ring out
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