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Ten Years Later
by Alexandre Dumas


Chapter I:
In which D'Artagnan finishes by at Length placing his Hand upon his
Captain's Commission.


The reader guesses beforehand whom the usher preceded in announcing the
courier from Bretagne. This messenger was easily recognized. It was
D'Artagnanhis clothes dustyhis face inflamedhis hair dripping with
sweathis legs stiff; he lifted his feet painfully at every stepon
which resounded the clink of his blood-stained spurs. He perceived in
the doorway he was passing throughthe superintendent coming out.
Fouquet bowed with a smile to him whoan hour beforewas bringing him
ruin and death. D'Artagnan found in his goodness of heartand in his
inexhaustible vigor of bodyenough presence of mind to remember the kind
reception of this man; he bowed thenalsomuch more from benevolence
and compassionthan from respect. He felt upon his lips the word which
had so many times been repeated to the Duc de Guise: "Fly." But to
pronounce that word would have been to betray his cause; to speak that
word in the cabinet of the kingand before an usherwould have been to
ruin himself gratuitouslyand could save nobody. D'Artagnan then
contented himself with bowing to Fouquet and entered. At this moment the
king floated between the joy the last words of Fouquet had given himand
his pleasure at the return of D'Artagnan. Without being a courtier
D'Artagnan had a glance as sure and as rapid as if he had been one. He
readon his entrancedevouring humiliation on the countenance of
Colbert. He even heard the king say these words to him: -


Ah! Monsieur Colbert; you have then nine hundred thousand livres at the
intendance?Colbertsuffocatedbowed but made no reply. All this
scene entered into the mind of D'Artagnanby the eyes and earsat once.


The first word of Louis to his musketeeras if he wished it to contrast
with what he was saying at the momentwas a kind "good day." His second
was to send away Colbert. The latter left the king's cabinetpallid and
totteringwhilst D'Artagnan twisted up the ends of his mustache.


I love to see one of my servants in this disorder,said the king
admiring the martial stains upon the clothes of his envoy.


I thought, sire, my presence at the Louvre was sufficiently urgent to
excuse my presenting myself thus before you.


You bring me great news, then, monsieur?


Sire, the thing is this, in two words: Belle-Isle is fortified,
admirably fortified; Belle-Isle has a double _enceinte_, a citadel, two
detached forts; its ports contain three corsairs; and the side batteries
only await their cannon.


I know all that, monsieur,replied the king.


What! your majesty knows all that?replied the musketeerstupefied.


I have the plan of the fortifications of Belle-Isle,said the king.


Your majesty has the plan?


Here it is.



It is really correct, sire: I saw a similar one on the spot.

D'Artagnan's brow became clouded.

Ah! I understand all. Your majesty did not trust to me alone, but sent
some other person,said he in a reproachful tone.

Of what importance is the manner, monsieur, in which I have learnt what
I know, so that I know it?

Sire, sire,said the musketeerwithout seeking even to conceal his
dissatisfaction; "but I must be permitted to say to your majestythat it
is not worth while to make me use such speedto risk twenty times the
breaking of my neckto salute me on my arrival with such intelligence.
Sirewhen people are not trustedor are deemed insufficientthey
should scarcely be employed." And D'Artagnanwith a movement perfectly
militarystamped with his footand left upon the floor dust stained
with blood. The king looked at himinwardly enjoying his first triumph.

Monsieur,said heat the expiration of a minutenot only is Belle-
Isle known to me, but, still further, Belle-Isle is mine.

That is well! that is well, sire, I ask but one thing more,replied
D'Artagnan. - "My discharge."

What! your discharge?

Without doubt I am too proud to eat the bread of the king without
earning it, or rather by gaining it badly. - My discharge, sire!

Oh, oh!

I ask for my discharge, or I will take it.

You are angry, monsieur?

I have reason, _mordioux!_ Thirty-two hours in the saddle, I ride day
and night, I perform prodigies of speed, I arrive stiff as the corpse of
a man who has been hung - and another arrives before me! Come, sire, I
am a fool! - My discharge, sire!

Monsieur d'Artagnan,said Louisleaning his white hand upon the dusty
arm of the musketeerwhat I tell you will not at all affect that which
I promised you. A king's word given must be kept.And the king going
straight to his tableopened a drawerand took out a folded paper.
Here is your commission of captain of musketeers; you have won it,
Monsieur d'Artagnan.

D'Artagnan opened the paper eagerlyand scanned it twice. He could
scarcely believe his eyes.

And this commission is given you,continued the kingnot only on
account of your journey to Belle-Isle but, moreover, for your brave
intervention at the Place de Greve. There, likewise, you served me
valiantly.

Ah, ah!said D'Artagnanwithout his self-command being able to prevent
a blush from mounting to his eyes - "you know that alsosire?"

Yes, I know it.

The king possessed a piercing glance and an infallible judgment when it
was his object to read men's minds. "You have something to say said he
to the musketeer, something to say which you do not say. Comespeak


freelymonsieur; you know that I told youonce and for allthat you
are to be always quite frank with me."

Well, sire! what I have to say is this, that I would prefer being made
captain of the musketeers for having charged a battery at the head of my
company, or taken a city, than for causing two wretches to be hung.

Is this quite true you tell me?

And why should your majesty suspect me of dissimulation, I ask?

Because I have known you well, monsieur; you cannot repent of having
drawn your sword for me.

Well, in that your majesty is deceived, and greatly; yes, I do repent of
having drawn my sword on account of the results that action produced; the
poor men who were hung, sire, were neither your enemies nor mine; and
they could not defend themselves.

The king preserved silence for a moment. "And your companionM.
d'Artagnandoes he partake of your repentance?"

My companion?

Yes, you were not alone, I have been told.

Alone, where?

At the Place de Greve.

No, sire, no,said D'Artagnanblushing at the idea that the king might
have a suspicion that heD'Artagnanhad wished to engross to himself
all the glory that belonged to Raoul; "no_mordioux!_ and as your
majesty saysI had a companionand a good companiontoo."

A young man?

Yes, sire; a young man. Oh! your majesty must accept my compliments,
you are as well informed of things out of doors as things within. It is

M. Colbert who makes all these fine reports to the king.
M. Colbert has said nothing but good of you, M. d'Artagnan, and he would
have met with a bad reception if he had come to tell me anything else.

That is fortunate!

But he also said much good of that young man.

And with justice,said the musketeer.

In short, it appears that this young man is a fire-eater,said Louis
in order to sharpen the sentiment which he mistook for envy.

A fire-eater! Yes, sire,repeated D'Artagnandelighted on his part to
direct the king's attention to Raoul.

Do you not know his name?

Well, I think -

You know him then?

I have known him nearly five-and-twenty years, sire.


Why, he is scarcely twenty-five years old!cried the king.

Well, sire! I have known him ever since he was born, that is all.

Do you affirm that?

Sire,said D'Artagnanyour majesty questions me with a mistrust in
which I recognize another character than your own. M. Colbert, who has
so well informed you, has he not forgotten to tell you that this young
man is the son of my most intimate friend?

The Vicomte de Bragelonne?

Certainly, sire. The father of the Vicomte de Bragelonne is M. le Comte
de la Fere, who so powerfully assisted in the restoration of King Charles

II. Bragelonne comes of a valiant race, sire.
Then he is the son of that nobleman who came to me, or rather to M.
Mazarin, on the part of King Charles II., to offer me his alliance?

Exactly, sire.

And the Comte de la Fere is a great soldier, say you?

Sire, he is a man who has drawn his sword more times for the king, your
father, than there are, at present, months in the happy life of your
majesty.

It was Louis XIV. who now bit his lip.

That is well, M. d'Artagnan, very well! And M. le Comte de la Fere is
your friend, say you?

For about forty years; yes, sire. Your majesty may see that I do not
speak to you of yesterday.

Should you be glad to see this young man, M. d'Artagnan?

Delighted, sire.

The king touched his belland an usher appeared. "Call M. de
Bragelonne said the king.

Ah! ah! he is here?" said D'Artagnan.

He is on guard to-day, at the Louvre, with the company of the gentlemen
of monsieur le prince.

The king had scarcely ceased speakingwhen Raoul presented himselfand
on seeing D'Artagnansmiled on him with that charming smile which is
only found upon the lips of youth.

Come, come,said D'Artagnanfamiliarlyto Raoulthe king will allow
you to embrace me; only tell his majesty you thank him.

Raoul bowed so gracefullythat Louisto whom all superior qualities
were pleasing when they did not overshadow his ownadmired his beauty
strengthand modesty.

Monsieur,said the kingaddressing RaoulI have asked monsieur le
prince to be kind enough to give you up to me; I have received his reply,
and you belong to me from this morning. Monsieur le prince was a good
master, but I hope you will not lose by the exchange.


Yes, yes, Raoul, be satisfied; the king has some good in him,said
D'Artagnanwho had fathomed the character of Louisand who played with
his self-lovewithin certain limits; always observingbe it understood
the proprieties and flatteringeven when he appeared to be bantering.

Sire,said Bragelonnewith voice soft and musicaland with the
natural and easy elocution he inherited from his father; "Sireit is not
from to-day that I belong to your majesty."

Oh! no, I know,said the kingyou mean your enterprise of the Greve.
That day, you were truly mine, monsieur.

Sire, it is not of that day I would speak; it would not become me to
refer to so paltry a service in the presence of such a man as M.
d'Artagnan. I would speak of a circumstance which created an epoch in my
life, and which consecrated me, from the age of sixteen, to the devoted
service of your majesty.

Ah! ah!said the kingwhat was that circumstance? Tell me, monsieur.

This is it, sire. - When I was setting out on my first campaign, that is
to say, to join the army of monsieur le prince, M. le Comte de la Fere
came to conduct me as far as Saint-Denis, where the remains of King Louis

XIII. wait, upon the lowest steps of the funeral _basilique_, a
successor, whom God will not send him, I hope, for many years. Then he
made me swear upon the ashes of our masters, to serve royalty,
represented by you - incarnate in you, sire - to serve it in word, in
thought, and in action. I swore, and God and the dead were witnesses to
my oath. During ten years, sire, I have not so often as I desired had
occasion to keep it. I am a soldier of your majesty, and nothing else;
and, on calling me nearer to you, I do not change my master, I only
change my garrison.
Raoul was silent and bowed. Louis still listened after he had done
speaking.

_Mordioux!_cried D'Artagnanthat was well spoken! was it not, your
majesty? A good race! a noble race!

Yes,murmured the kingwithouthowever daring to manifest his
emotionfor it had no other cause than contact with a nature
intrinsically noble. "Yesmonsieuryou say truly: - wherever you were
you were the king's. But in changing your garrisonbelieve me you will
find an advancement of which you are worthy."

Raoul saw that this ended what the king had to say to him. And with the
perfect tact which characterized his refined naturehe bowed and retired.

Is there anything else, monsieur, of which you have to inform me?said
the kingwhen he found himself again alone with D'Artagnan.

Yes, sire, and I kept that news for the last, for it is sad, and will
clothe European royalty in mourning.

What do you tell me?

Sire, in passing through Blois, a word, a sad word, echoed from the
palace, struck my ear.

In truth, you terrify me, M. d'Artagnan.

Sire, this word was pronounced to me by a _piqueur_, who wore crape on
his arm.


My uncle, Gaston of Orleans, perhaps.

Sire, he has rendered his last sigh.

And I was not warned of it!cried the kingwhose royal susceptibility
saw an insult in the absence of this intelligence.


Oh! do not be angry, sire,said D'Artagnan; "neither the couriers of
Parisnor the couriers of the whole worldcan travel with your servant;
the courier from Blois will not be here these two hoursand he rides
wellI assure youseeing that I only passed him on the thither side of
Orleans."


My uncle Gaston,murmured Louispressing his hand to his browand
comprising in those three words all that his memory recalled of that
symbol of opposing sentiments.


Eh! yes, sire, it is thus,said D'Artagnanphilosophically replying to
the royal thoughtit is thus the past flies away.


That is true, monsieur, that is true; but there remains for us, thank
God! the future; and we will try to make it not too dark.


I feel confidence in your majesty on that head,said D'Artagnan
bowingand now -


You are right, monsieur; I had forgotten the hundred leagues you have
just ridden. Go, monsieur, take care of one of the best of soldiers, and
when you have reposed a little, come and place yourself at my disposal.


Sire, absent or present, I am always yours.


D'Artagnan bowed and retired. Thenas if he had only come from
Fontainebleauhe quickly traversed the Louvre to rejoin Bragelonne.


Chapter II:
A Lover and His Mistress.


Whilst the wax-lights were burning in the castle of Bloisaround the
inanimate body of Gaston of Orleansthat last representative of the
past; whilst the _bourgeois_ of the city were thinking out his epitaph
which was far from being a panegyric; whilst madame the dowagerno
longer remembering that in her young days she had loved that senseless
corpse to such a degree as to fly the paternal palace for his sakewas
makingwithin twenty paces of the funeral apartmenther little
calculations of interest and her little sacrifices of pride; other
interests and other prides were in agitation in all the parts of the
castle into which a living soul could penetrate. Neither the lugubrious
sounds of the bellsnor the voices of the chantersnor the splendor of
the wax-lights through the windowsnor the preparations for the funeral
had power to divert the attention of two personsplaced at a window of
the interior court - a window that we are acquainted withand which
lighted a chamber forming part of what were called the little
apartments. For the resta joyous beam of the sunfor the sun appeared
to care little for the loss France had just suffered; a sunbeamwe say
descended upon themdrawing perfumes from the neighboring flowersand
animating the walls themselves. These two personsso occupiednot by
the death of the dukebut by the conversation which was the consequence
of that deathwere a young woman and a young man. The latter personage
a man of from twenty-five to twenty-six years of agewith a mien
sometimes lively and sometimes dullmaking good use of two large eyes
shaded with long eye-lasheswas short of stature and swart of skin; he
smiled with an enormousbut well-furnished mouthand his pointed chin



which appeared to enjoy a mobility nature does not ordinarily grant to
that portion of the countenanceleant from time to time very lovingly
towards his interlocutrixwhowe must saydid not always draw back so
rapidly as strict propriety had a right to require. The young girl - we
know herfor we have already seen herat that very same windowby the
light of that same sun - the young girl presented a singular mixture of
shyness and reflection; she was charming when she laughedbeautiful when
she became serious; butlet us hasten to sayshe was more frequently
charming than beautiful. These two appeared to have attained the
culminating point of a discussion - half-banteringhalf-serious.

Now, Monsieur Malicorne,said the young girldoes it, at length,
please you that we should talk reasonably?

You believe that that is very easy, Mademoiselle Aure,replied the
young man. "To do what we likewhen we can only do what we are able - "

Good! there he is bewildered in his phrases.

Who, I?

Yes, you; quit that lawyer's logic, my dear.

Another impossibility. Clerk I am, Mademoiselle de Montalais.

Demoiselle I am, Monsieur Malicorne.

Alas, I know it well, and you overwhelm me by your rank; so I will say
no more to you.

Well, no, I don't overwhelm you; say what you have to tell me - say it,
I insist upon it.

Well, I obey you.

That is truly fortunate.

Monsieur is dead.

Ah, _peste!_ that's news! And where do you come from, to be able to
tell us that?

I come from Orleans, mademoiselle.

And is that all the news you bring?

Ah, no; I am come to tell you that Madame Henrietta of England is coming
to marry the king's brother.

Indeed, Malicorne, you are insupportable with your news of the last
century. Now, mind, if you persist in this bad habit of laughing at
people, I will have you turned out.

Oh!

Yes, for really you exasperate me.

There, there. Patience, mademoiselle.

You want to make yourself of consequence; I know well enough why. Go!

Tell me, and I will answer you frankly, yes, if the thing be true.

You know that I am anxious to have that commission of lady of honor,


which I have been foolish enough to ask of you, and you do not use your
credit.

Who, I?Malicorne cast down his eyesjoined his handsand assumed
his sullen air. "And what credit can the poor clerk of a procurer have
pray?"

Your father has not twenty thousand livres a year for nothing, M.
Malicorne.

A provincial fortune, Mademoiselle de Montalais.

Your father is not in the secrets of monsieur le prince for nothing.
An advantage which is confined to lending monseigneur money.

In a word, you are not the most cunning young fellow in the province
for nothing.

You flatter me!

Who, I?
Yes, you.


How so?
Since I maintain that I have no credit, and you maintain I have.


Well, then, - my commission?
Well, - your commission?


Shall I have it, or shall I not?
You shall have it.


Ay, but when?
When you like.


Where is it, then?
In my pocket.


How - in your pocket?
Yes.


Andwith a smileMalicorne drew from his pocket a letterupon which
mademoiselle seized as a preyand which she read eagerly. As she read
her face brightened.

Malicorne,cried she after having read itIn truth, you are a good
lad.

What for, mademoiselle?

Because you might have been paid for this commission, and you have
not.And she burst into a loud laughthinking to put the clerk out of
countenance; but Malicorne sustained the attack bravely.

I do not understand you,said he. It was now Montalais who was
disconcerted in her turn. "I have declared my sentiments to you


continued Malicorne. You have told me three timeslaughing all the
whilethat you did not love me; you have embraced me once without
laughingand that is all I want."

All?said the proud and coquettish Montalaisin a tone through which
the wounded pride was visible.

Absolutely all, mademoiselle,replied Malicorne.

Ah!- And this monosyllable indicated as much anger as the young man
might have expected gratitude. He shook his head quietly.

Listen, Montalais,said hewithout heeding whether that familiarity
pleased his mistress or not; "let us not dispute about it."

And why not?

Because during the year which I have known you, you might have had me
turned out of doors twenty times if I did not please you.

Indeed; and on what account should I have had you turned out?

Because I have been sufficiently impertinent for that.

Oh, that, - yes, that's true.

You see plainly that you are forced to avow it,said Malicorne.

Monsieur Malicorne!

Don't let us be angry; if you have retained me, then it has not been
without cause.

It is not, at least, because I love you,cried Montalais.

Granted. I will even say, at this moment, I am certain that you hate
me.

Oh, you have never spoken so truly.

Well, on my part, I detest you.

Ah! I take the act.

Take it. You find me brutal and foolish; on my part I find you have a
harsh voice, and your face is too often distorted with anger. At this
moment you would allow yourself to be thrown out of that window rather
than allow me to kiss the tip of your finger; I would precipitate myself
from the top of the balcony rather than touch the hem of your robe. But,
in five minutes, you will love me, and I shall adore you. Oh, it is just
so.

I doubt it.

And I swear it.

Coxcomb!

And then, that is not the true reason. You stand in need of me, Aure,
and I of you. When it pleases you to be gay, I make you laugh; when it
suits me to be loving, I look at you. I have given you a commission of
lady of honor which you wished for; you will give me, presently,
something I wish for.


I will?

Yes, you will; but, at this moment, my dear Aure, I declare to you that
I wish for absolutely nothing, so be at ease.

You are a frightful man, Malicorne; I was going to rejoice at getting
this commission, and thus you quench my joy.

Good; there is no time lost, - you will rejoice when I am gone.

Go, then; and after -

So be it; but in the first place, a piece of advice.

What is it?

Resume your good-humor, - you are ugly when you pout.

Coarse!

Come, let us tell the truth to each other, while we are about it.

Oh, Malicorne! Bad-hearted man!

Oh, Montalais! Ungrateful girl!

The young man leant with his elbow upon the window-frame; Montalais took
a book and opened it. Malicorne stood upbrushed his hat with his
sleevesmoothed down his black doublet; - Montalaisthough pretending
to readlooked at him out of the corner of her eye.

Good!cried shefurious; "he has assumed his respectful air - and he
will pout for a week."

A fortnight, mademoiselle,said Malicornebowing.

Montalais lifted up her little doubled fist. "Monster!" said she; "oh!
that I were a man!"

What would you do to me?

I would strangle you.

Ah! very well, then,said Malicorne; "I believe I begin to desire
something."

And what do you desire, Monsieur Demon? That I should lose my soul from
anger?

Malicorne was rolling his hat respectfully between his fingers; butall
at oncehe let fall his hatseized the young girl by the shoulders
pulled her towards himand sealed her mouth with two lips that were very
warmfor a man pretending to so much indifference. Aure would have
cried outbut the cry was stifled in his kiss. Nervous andapparently
angrythe young girl pushed Malicorne against the wall.

Good!said Malicornephilosophicallythat's enough for six weeks.
Adieu, mademoiselle, accept my very humble salutation.And he made
three steps towards the door.

Well! no, - you shall not go!cried Montalaisstamping with her little
foot. "Stay where you are! I order you!"

You order me?


Yes; am I not mistress?

Of my heart and soul, without doubt.

A pretty property! _ma foi!_ The soul is silly and the heart dry.

Beware, Montalais, I know you,said Malicorne; "you are going to fall
in love with your humble servant."


Well, yes!said shehanging round his neck with childish indolence
rather than with loving abandonment. "Wellyes! for I must thank you at
least."


And for what?


For the commission; is it not my whole future?


And mine.


Montalais looked at him.


It is frightful,said shethat one can never guess whether you are
speaking seriously or not.


I cannot speak more seriously. I was going to Paris, - you are going
there, - we are going there.


And so it was for that motive only you have served me; selfish fellow!


What would you have me say, Aure? I cannot live without you.


Well! in truth, it is just so with me; you are, nevertheless, it must be
confessed, a very bad-hearted young man.


Aure, my dear Aure, take care! if you take to calling me names again,
you know the effect they produce upon me, and I shall adore you.And so
sayingMalicorne drew the young girl a second time towards him. But at
that instant a step resounded on the staircase. The young people were so
closethat they would have been surprised in the arms of each otherif
Montalais had not violently pushed Malicornewith his back against the
doorjust then opening. A loud cryfollowed by angry reproaches
immediately resounded. It was Madame de Saint-Remy who uttered the cry
and the angry words. The unlucky Malicorne almost crushed her between
the wall and the door she was coming in at.


It is again that good-for-nothing!cried the old lady. "Always here!"


Ah, madame!replied Malicornein a respectful tone; "it is eight long
days since I was here."


Chapter III:
In Which We at Length See the True Heroine of this History Appear.


Behind Madame de Saint-Remy stood Mademoiselle de la Valliere. She heard
the explosion of maternal angerand as she divined the cause of itshe
entered the chamber tremblingand perceived the unlucky Malicornewhose
woeful countenance might have softened or set laughing whoever observed
it coolly. He had promptly intrenched himself behind a large chairas
if to avoid the first attacks of Madame de Saint-Remy; he had no hopes of
prevailing with wordsfor she spoke louder than heand without
stopping; but he reckoned upon the eloquence of his gestures. The old
lady would neither listen to nor see anything; Malicorne had long been



one of her antipathies. But her anger was too great not to overflow from
Malicorne on his accomplice. Montalais had her turn.

And you, mademoiselle; you may be certain I shall inform madame of what
is going on in the apartment of one of her ladies of honor?

Oh, dear mother!cried Mademoiselle de la Vallierefor mercy's sake,
spare -

Hold your tongue, mademoiselle, and do not uselessly trouble yourself to
intercede for unworthy people; that a young maid of honor like you should
be subjected to a bad example is, certes, a misfortune great enough; but
that you should sanction it by your indulgence is what I will not allow.

But in truth,said Montalaisrebelling againI do not know under
what pretense you treat me thus. I am doing no harm, I suppose?

And that great good-for-nothing, mademoiselle,resumed Madame de Saint-
Remypointing to Malicorneis he here to do any good, I ask you?

He is neither here for good nor harm, madame; he comes to see me, that
is all.

It is all very well! all very well!said the old lady. "Her royal
highness shall be informed of itand she will judge."

At all events, I do not see why,replied Montalaisit should be
forbidden M. Malicorne to have intentions towards me, if his intentions
are honorable.

Honorable intentions with such a face!cried Madame de Saint-Remy.

I thank you in the name of my face, madame,said Malicorne.

Come, my daughter, come,continued Madame de Saint-Remy; "we will go
and inform madame that at the very moment she is weeping for her husband
at the moment when we are all weeping for a master in this old castle of
Bloisthe abode of griefthere are people who amuse themselves with
flirtations!"

Oh!cried both the accusedwith one voice.

A maid of honor! a maid of honor!cried the old ladylifting her hands
towards heaven.

Well! it is there you are mistaken, madame,said Montalaishighly
exasperated; "I am no longer a maid of honorof madame's at least."

Have you given in your resignation, mademoiselle? That is well! I
cannot but applaud such a determination, and I do applaud it.

I do not give in my resignation, madame; I take another service, - that
is all.

In the _bourgeoisie_ or in the _robe?_asked Madame de Saint-Remy
disdainfully.

Please to learn, madame, that I am not a girl to serve either
_bourgeoises_ or _robines_; and that instead of the miserable court at
which you vegetate, I am going to reside in a court almost royal.

Ha, ha! a royal court,said Madame de Saint-Remyforcing a laugh; "a
royal court! What do you think of thatmy daughter?"


And she turned towards Mademoiselle de la Vallierewhom she would by
main force have dragged away from Montalaisand who instead of obeying
the impulse of Madame de Saint-Remylooked first at her mother and then
at Montalais with her beautiful conciliatory eyes.

I did not say a royal court, madame,replied Montalais; "because Madame
Henrietta of Englandwho is about to become the wife of S. A. R.
Monsieuris not a queen. I said almost royaland I spoke correctly
since she will be sister-in-law to the king."

A thunderbolt falling upon the castle of Blois would not have astonished
Madame de Saint-Remy more than the last sentence of Montalais.

What do you say? of Son Altesse Royale Madame Henrietta?stammered out
the old lady.

I say I am going to belong to her household, as maid of honor; that is
what I say.

As maid of honor!criedat the same timeMadame de Saint-Remy with
despairand Mademoiselle de la Valliere with delight.

Yes, madame, as maid of honor.

The old lady's head sank down as if the blow had been too severe for
her. Butalmost immediately recovering herselfshe launched a last
projectile at her adversary.

Oh! oh!said she; "I have heard of many of these sorts of promises
beforehandwhich often lead people to flatter themselves with wild
hopesand at the last momentwhen the time comes to keep the promises
and have the hopes realizedthey are surprised to see the great credit
upon which they reckoned vanish like smoke."

Oh! madame, the credit of my protector is incontestable and his promises
are as good as deeds.

And would it be indiscreet to ask you the name of this powerful
protector?

Oh! _mon Dieu!_ no! it is that gentleman there,said Montalais
pointing to Malicornewhoduring this scenehad preserved the most
imperturbable coolnessand the most comic dignity.

Monsieur!cried Madame de Saint-Remywith an explosion of hilarity
monsieur is your protector! Is the man whose credit is so powerful, and
whose promises are as good as deeds, Monsieur Malicorne!

Malicorne bowed.

As to Montalaisas her sole replyshe drew the brevet from her pocket
and showed it to the old lady.

Here is the _brevet_,said she.

At once all was over. As soon as she had cast a rapid glance over this
fortunate _brevet_the good lady clasped her handsan unspeakable
expression of envy and despair contracted her countenanceand she was
obliged to sit down to avoid fainting. Montalais was not malicious
enough to rejoice extravagantly at her victoryor to overwhelm the
conquered enemyparticularly when that enemy was the mother of her
friend; she used thenbut did not abuse her triumph. Malicorne was less
generous; he assumed noble _poses_ in his _fauteuil_ and stretched
himself out with a familiarity whichtwo hours earlierwould have drawn


upon him threats of a caning.

Maid of honor to the young madame!repeated Madame de Saint-Remystill
but half convinced.

Yes, madame, and through the protection of M. Malicorne, moreover.

It is incredible!repeated the old lady: "is it not incredible
Louise?" But Louise did not reply; she was sittingthoughtfullyalmost
sad; passing one had over her beautiful browshe sighed heavily.

Well, but, monsieur,said Madame de Saint-Remyall at oncehow did
you manage to obtain this post?

I asked for it, madame.

Of whom?
One of my friends.


And you have friends sufficiently powerful at court to give you such
proofs of their credit?

It appears so.

And may one ask the name of these friends?
I did not say I had many friends, madame, I said I had one friend.


And that friend is called?


_Peste!_ madame, you go too far! When one has a friend as powerful as
mine, we do not publish his name in that fashion, in open day, in order
that he may be stolen from us.

You are right, monsieur, to be silent as to that name; for I think it
would be pretty difficult for you to tell it.

At all events,said Montalaisif the friend does not exist, the
_brevet_ does, and that cuts short the question.

Then, I conceive,said Madame de Saint-Remywith the gracious smile of
the cat who is going to scratchwhen I found monsieur here just now -

Well?
He brought you the _brevet_.


Exactly, madame; you have guessed rightly.
Well, then, nothing can be more moral or proper.


I think so, madame.
And I have been wrong, as it appears, in reproaching you, mademoiselle.


Very wrong, madame; but I am so accustomed to your reproaches, that I
pardon you these.

In that case, let us begone, Louise; we have nothing to do but retire.
Well!

Madame!said La Valliere startingdid you speak?


You do not appear to be listening, my child.

No, madame, I was thinking.

About what?

A thousand things.

You bear me no ill-will, at least, Louise?cried Montalaispressing
her hand.

And why should I, my dear Aure?replied the girl in a voice soft as a
flute.

_Dame!_resumed Madame de Saint-Remy; "if she did bear you a little illwill
poor girlshe could not be much blamed."

And why should she bear me ill-will, good gracious?

It appears to me that she is of as good a family, and as pretty as you.

Mother! mother!cried Louise.

Prettier a hundred times, madame - not of a better family; but that does
not tell me why Louise should bear me ill-will.

Do you think it will be very amusing for her to be buried alive at
Blois, when you are going to shine at Paris?

But, madame, it is not I who prevent Louise following me thither; on the
contrary, I should certainly be most happy if she came there.

But it appears that M. Malicorne, who is all-powerful at court -

Ah! so much the worse, madame,said Malicorneevery one for himself
in this poor world.

Malicorne! Malicorne!said Montalais. Then stooping towards the young
man:


Occupy Madame de Saint-Remy, either in disputing with her, or making it
up with her; I must speak to Louise.Andat the same timea soft
pressure of the hand recompensed Malicorne for his future obedience.
Malicorne went grumbling towards Madame de Saint-Remywhilst Montalais
said to her friendthrowing one arm around her neck:


What is the matter? Tell _me_. Is it true that you would not love me
if I were to shine, as your mother says?

Oh, no!said the young girlwith difficulty restraining her tears; "on
the contraryI rejoice at your good fortune."

Rejoice! why, one would say you are ready to cry!

Do people never weep except from envy?

Oh! yes, I understand; I am going to Paris and that word Paris recalls
to your mind a certain cavalier -

Aure!

A certain cavalier who formerly lived near Blois, and who now resides at
Paris.


In truth, I know not what ails me, but I feel stifled.
Weep, then, weep, as you cannot give me a smile!

Louise raised her sweet facewhich the tearsrolling down one after the
otherillumined like diamonds.

Come, confess,said Montalais.

What shall I confess?

What makes you weep; people don't weep without cause. I am your friend;
whatever you would wish me to do, I will do. Malicorne is more powerful
than you would think. Do you wish to go to Paris?

Alas!sighed Louise.

Do you wish to come to Paris?

To remain here alone, in this old castle, I who have enjoyed the
delightful habit of listening to your songs, of pressing your hand, of
running about the park with you. Oh! how I shall be _ennuyee!_ how
quickly I shall die!

Do you wish to come to Paris?
Louise breathed another sigh.


You do not answer me.
What would you that I should reply?


Yes or no; that is not very difficult, I think.
Oh! you are very fortunate, Montalais!


That is to say you would like to be in my place.
Louise was silent.


Little obstinate thing!said Montalais; "did ever any one keep her
secrets from her friend thus? Butconfess that you would like to come
to Paris; confess that you are dying with the wish to see Raoul again."

I cannot confess that.
Then you are wrong.


In what way?
Because - do you not see this _brevet?_


To be sure I do.
Well, I would have got you a similar one.


By whose means?
Malicorne's.


Aure, are you telling the truth? Is that possible?


Malicorne is there; and what he has done for me, he surely can do for
you.


Malicorne had heard his name pronounced twice; he was delighted at having
an opportunity of coming to a conclusion with Madame de Saint-Remyand
he turned round:


What is the question, mademoiselle?

Come hither, Malicorne,said Montalaiswith an imperious gesture.
Malicorne obeyed.
A _brevet_ like this,said Montalais.


How so?
A _brevet_ like this; that is plain enough.


But -
I want one - I must have one!


Oh! oh! you must have one!
Yes.


It is impossible, is it not, M. Malicorne?said Louisewith her sweet
soft voice.

If it is for _you_, mademoiselle -

For me. Yes, Monsieur Malicorne, it _would_ be for me.
And if Mademoiselle de Montalais asks it at the same time -

Mademoiselle de Montalais does not ask it, she requires it.
Well! we will endeavor to obey you, mademoiselle.

And you will have her named?
We will try.

No evasive answers, Louise de la Valliere shall be maid of honor to
Madame Henrietta within a week.

How you talk!
Within a week, or else -


Well! or else?


You may take back your _brevet_, Monsieur Malicorne; I will not leave my
friend.

Dear Montalais!

That is right. Keep your _brevet_; Mademoiselle de la Valliere shall be
a maid of honor.
Is that true?


Quite true.
I may then hope to go to Paris?



Depend on it.


Oh! Monsieur Malicorne, what joy!cried Louiseclapping her hands
and bounding with pleasure.


Little dissembler!said Montalaistry again to make me believe you
are not in love with Raoul.


Louise blushed like a rose in Junebut instead of replyingshe ran and
embraced her mother. "Madame said she, do you know that M. Malicorne
is going to have me appointed maid of honor?"


M. Malicorne is a prince in disguise,replied the old ladyhe is all-
powerful, seemingly.


Should you also like to be a maid of honor?asked Malicorne of Madame
de Saint-Remy. "Whilst I am about itI might as well get everybody
appointed."


And upon that he went awayleaving the poor lady quite disconcerted.


Humph!murmured Malicorne as he descended the stairs- "Humph! there
goes another note of a thousand livres! but I must get through as well as
I can; my friend Manicamp does nothing for nothing."


Chapter IV:
Malicorne and Manicamp.


The introduction of these two new personages into this history and that
mysterious affinity of names and sentimentsmerit some attention on the
part of both historian and reader. We will then enter into some details
concerning Messieurs Malicorne and Manicamp. Malicornewe knowhad
made the journey to Orleans in search of the _brevet_ destined for
Mademoiselle de Montalaisthe arrival of which had produced such a
strong feeling at the castle of Blois. At that momentM. de Manicamp
was at Orleans. A singular person was this M. de Manicamp; a very
intelligent young fellowalways pooralways needyalthough he dipped
his hand freely into the purse of M. le Comte de Guicheone of the best
furnished purses of the period. M. le Comte de Guiche had hadas the
companion of his boyhoodthis De Manicampa poor gentlemanvassal-
bornof the house of Gramont. M. de Manicampwith his tact and talent
had created himself a revenue in the opulent family of the celebrated
marechal. From his infancy he hadwith calculation beyond his agelent
his mane and complaisance to the follies of the Comte de Guiche. If his
noble companion had stolen some fruit destined for Madame la Marechale
if he had broken a mirroror put out a dog's eyeManicamp declared
himself guilty of the crime committedand received the punishmentwhich
was not made the milder for falling on the innocent. But this was the
way this system of abnegation was paid for: instead of wearing such mean
habiliments as his paternal fortunes entitled him tohe was able to
appear brilliantsuperblike a young noble of fifty thousand livres a
year. It was not that he was mean in character or humble in spirit; no
he was a philosopheror rather he had the indifferencethe apathythe
obstinacy which banish from man every sentiment of the supernatural. His
sole ambition was to spend money. Butin this respectthe worthy M. de
Manicamp was a gulf. Three or four times every year he drained the Comte
de Guicheand when the Comte de Guiche was thoroughly drainedwhen he
had turned out his pockets and his purse before himwhen he declared
that it would be at least a fortnight before paternal munificence would
refill those pockets and that purseManicamp lost all his energyhe
went to bedremained thereate nothing and sold his handsome clothes
under the pretense thatremaining in bedhe did not want them. During
this prostration of mind and strengththe purse of the Comte de Guiche



was getting full againand when once filledoverflowed into that of De
Manicampwho bought new clothesdressed himself againand recommenced
the same life he had followed before. The mania of selling his new
clothes for a quarter of what they were worthhad rendered our hero
sufficiently celebrated in Orleansa city wherein generalwe should
be puzzled to say why he came to pass his days of penitence. Provincial
_debauchespetits-maitres_ of six hundred livres a yearshared the
fragments of his opulence.

Among the admirers of these splendid toilettesour friend Malicorne was
conspicuous; he was the son of a syndic of the cityof whom M. de Conde
always needy as a De Condeoften borrowed money at enormous interest.

M. Malicorne kept the paternal money-chest; that is to saythat in those
times of easy moralshe had made for himselfby following the example
of his fatherand lending at high interest for short termsa revenue of
eighteen hundred livreswithout reckoning six hundred livres furnished
by the generosity of the syndic; so that Malicorne was the king of the
gay youth of Orleanshaving two thousand four hundred livres to scatter
squanderand waste on follies of every kind. Butquite contrary to
ManicampMalicorne was terribly ambitious. He loved from ambition; he
spent money out of ambition; and he would have ruined himself for
ambition. Malicorne had determined to riseat whatever price it might
costand for thiswhatever price it did costhe had given himself a
mistress and a friend. The mistressMademoiselle de Montalaiswas
cruelas regarded love; but she was of a noble familyand that was
sufficient for Malicorne. The friend had little or no friendshipbut he
was the favorite of the Comte de Guichehimself the friend of Monsieur
the king's brother; and that was sufficient for Malicorne. Onlyin the
chapter of chargesMademoiselle de Montalais cost _per annum_: -
ribbonsglovesand sweetsa thousand livres. De Manicamp cost - money
lentnever returned - from twelve to fifteen hundred livres _per
annum_. So that there was nothing left for Malicorne. Ah! yeswe are
mistaken; there was left the paternal strong box. He employed a mode of
proceedingupon which he preserved the most profound secrecyand which
consisted in advancing to himselffrom the coffers of the syndichalf a
dozen year's profitsthat is to sayfifteen thousand livresswearing
to himself - observequite to himself - to repay this deficiency as
soon as an opportunity should present itself. The opportunity was
expected to be the concession of a good post in the household of
Monsieurwhen that household would be established at the period of his
marriage. This juncture had arrivedand the household was about to be
established. A good post in the family of a prince of the bloodwhen it
is given by the creditand on the recommendation of a friendlike the
Comte de Guicheis worth at least twelve thousand livres _per annum_;
and by the means which M. Malicorne had taken to make his revenues
fructifytwelve thousand livres might rise to twenty thousand. Then
when once an incumbent of this posthe would marry Mademoiselle de
Montalais. Mademoiselle de Montalaisof a half noble familynot only
would be doweredbut would ennoble Malicorne. Butin order that
Mademoiselle de Montalaiswho had not a large patrimonial fortune
although an only daughtershould be suitably doweredit was necessary
that she should belong to some great princessas prodigal as the dowager
Madame was covetous. And in order that the wife should not be of one
party whilst the husband belonged to the othera situation which
presents serious inconveniencesparticularly with characters like those
of the future consorts - Malicorne had imagined the idea of making the
central point of union the household of Monsieurthe king's brother.
Mademoiselle de Montalais would be maid of honor to Madame. M. Malicorne
would be officer to Monsieur.
It is plain the plan was formed by a clear head; it is plainalsothat
it had been bravely executed. Malicorne had asked Manicamp to ask a
_brevet_ of maid of honor of the Comte de Guiche; and the Comte de Guiche
had asked this _brevet_ of Monsieurwho had signed it without


hesitation. The constructive plan of Malicorne - for we may well suppose
that the combinations of a mind as active as his were not confined to the
presentbut extended to the future - the constructive plan of Malicorne
we saywas this: - To obtain entrance into the household of Madame
Henrietta for a woman devoted to himselfwho was intelligentyoung
handsomeand intriguing; to learnby means of this womanall the
feminine secrets of the young household; whilst heMalicorneand his
friend Manicampshouldbetween themknow all the male secrets of the
young community. It was by these means that a rapid and splendid fortune
might be acquired at one and the same time. Malicorne was a vile name;
he who bore it had too much wit to conceal this truth from himself; but
an estate might be purchased; and Malicorne of some placeor even De
Malicorne itselffor shortwould ring more nobly on the ear.

It was not improbable that a most aristocratic origin might be hunted up
by the heralds for this name of Malicorne; might it not come from some
estate where a bull with mortal horns had caused some great misfortune
and baptized the soil with the blood it had spilt? Certesthis plan
presented itself bristling with difficulties: but the greatest of all was
Mademoiselle de Montalais herself. Capriciousvariableclosegiddy
freeprudisha virgin armed with clawsErigone stained with grapes
she sometimes overturnedwith a single dash of her white fingersor
with a single puff from her laughing lipsthe edifice which had
exhausted Malicorne's patience for a month.

Love apartMalicorne was happy; but this lovewhich he could not help
feelinghe had the strength to conceal with care; persuaded that at the
least relaxing of the ties by which he had bound his Protean femalethe
demon would overthrow and laugh at him. He humbled his mistress by
disdaining her. Burning with desirewhen she advanced to tempt himhe
had the art to appear icepersuaded that if he opened his armsshe
would run away laughing at him. On her sideMontalais believed she did
not love Malicorne; whilston the contraryin reality she did.
Malicorne repeated to her so often his protestation of indifferencethat
she finishedsometimesby believing him; and then she believed she
detested Malicorne. If she tried to bring him back by coquetry
Malicorne played the coquette better than she could. But what made
Montalais hold to Malicorne in an indissoluble fashionwas that
Malicorne always came cram full of fresh news from the court and the
city; Malicorne always brought to Blois a fashiona secretor a
perfume; that Malicorne never asked for a meetingbuton the contrary
required to be supplicated to receive the favors he burned to obtain. On
her sideMontalais was no miser with stories. By her meansMalicorne
learnt all that passed at Bloisin the family of the dowager Madame; and
he related to Manicamp tales that made him ready to die with laughing
which the latterout of idlenesstook ready-made to M. de Guichewho
carried them to Monsieur.

Suchin two wordswas the woof of petty interests and petty
conspiracies which united Blois with Orleansand Orleans with Pairs; and
which was about to bring into the last named city where she was to
produce so great a revolutionthe poor little La Vallierewho was far
from suspectingas she returned joyfullyleaning on the arm of her
motherfor what a strange future she was reserved. As to the good man
Malicorne - we speak of the syndic of Orleans - he did not see more
clearly into the present than others did into the future; and had no
suspicion as he walkedevery daybetween three and five o'clockafter
his dinnerupon the Place Sainte-Catherinein his gray coatcut after
the fashion of Louis XIII. and his cloth shoes with great knots of
ribbonthat it was he who was paying for all those bursts of laughter
all those stolen kissesall those whisperingsall those little
keepsakesand all those bubble projects which formed a chain of fortyfive
leagues in lengthfrom the palais of Blois to the Palais Royal.


Chapter V:
Manicamp and Malicorne.


Malicornethenleft Bloisas we have saidand went to find his
friendManicampthen in temporary retreat in the city of Orleans. It
was just at the moment when that young nobleman was employed in selling
the last decent clothing he had left. He hada fortnight before
extorted from the Comte de Guiche a hundred pistolesall he hadto
assist in equipping him properly to go and meet Madameon her arrival at
Le Havre. He had drawn from Malicornethree days beforefifty
pistolesthe price of the _brevet_ obtained for Montalais. He had then
no expectation of anything elsehaving exhausted all his resourceswith
the exception of selling a handsome suit of cloth and satinembroidered
and laced with goldwhich had been the admiration of the court. But to
be able to sell this suitthe last he had left- as we have been forced
to confess to the reader - Manicamp had been obliged to take to his bed.
No more fireno more pocket-moneyno more walking-moneynothing but
sleep to take the place of repastscompanies and balls. It has been
said - "He who sleepsdines;" but it has never been affirmed - He who
sleepsplays orHe who sleepsdances. Manicampreduced to this
extremity of neither playing nor dancingfor a week at leastwas
consequentlyvery sad; he was expecting a usurerand saw Malicorne
enter. A cry of distress escaped him.


Eh! what!said hein a tone which nothing can describeis that you
again, dear friend?


Humph! you are very polite!said Malicorne.


Ay, but look you, I was expecting money, and, instead of money, I see
_you_.


And suppose I brought you some money?


Oh! that would be quite another thing. You are very welcome, my dear
friend!


And he held out his handnot for the hand of Malicornebut for the
purse. Malicorne pretended to be mistakenand gave him his hand.


And the money?said Manicamp.


My dear friend, if you wish to have it, earn it.


What must be done for it?


Earn it, _parbleu!_


And after what fashion?


Oh! that is rather trying, I warn you.


The devil!


You must get out of bed, and go immediately to M. le Comte de Guiche.


I get up!said Manicampstretching himself in his bedcomplacently
oh, no, thank you!


You have sold all your clothes?


No, I have one suit left, the handsomest even, but I expect a purchaser.



And the _chausses?_
Well, if you look, you will see them on that chair.
Very well! since you have some _chausses_ and a _pourpoint_ left, put


your legs into the first and your back into the other; have a horse
saddled, and set off.
Not I.
And why not?


_Morbleu!_ don't you know, then, that M. de Guiche is at Etampes?
No, I thought he was at Paris. You will then only have fifteen leagues
to go, instead of thirty.

You are a wonderfully clever fellow! If I were to ride fifteen leagues
in these clothes, they would never be fit to put on again; and, instead
of selling them for thirty pistoles, I should be obliged to take fifteen.

Sell them for whatever you like, but I must have a second commission of
maid of honor.

Good! for whom? Is Montalais doubled, then?
Vile fellow! - It is you who are doubled. You swallow up two fortunes -
mine, and that of M. le Comte de Guiche.


You should say, that of M. le Comte de Guiche and yours.
That is true; honor where it is due; but I return to my _brevet_.
And you are wrong.
Prove me that.
My friend, there will only be twelve maids of honor for madame; I have


already obtained for you what twelve hundred women are trying for, and
for that I was forced to employ all my diplomacy.
Oh! yes, I know you have been quite heroic, my dear friend.
We know what we are about,said Manicamp.
To whom do you tell that? When I am king, I promise you one thing.


What? To call yourself Malicorne the First?
No; to make you superintendent of my finances; but that is not the
question now.


Unfortunately.
The present affair is to procure for me a second place of maid of honor.
My friend, if you were to promise me the price of heaven, I would


decline to disturb myself at this moment.
Malicorne chinked the money in his pocket.
There are twenty pistoles here,said Malicorne.
And what would you do with twenty pistoles, _mon Dieu!_



Well!said Malicornea little angrysuppose I were to add them to
the five hundred you already owe me?

You are right,replied Manicampstretching out his hand againand
from that point of view I can accept them. Give them to me.

An instant, what the devil! it is not only holding out your hand that
will do; if I give you the twenty pistoles, shall I have my _brevet?_

To be sure you shall.

Soon?
To-day.

Oh! take care! Monsieur de Manicamp; you undertake much, and I do not
ask that. Thirty leagues in a day is too much, you would kill yourself.

I think nothing impossible when obliging a friend.

You are quite heroic.
Where are the twenty pistoles?


Here they are,said Malicorneshowing them.
That's well.


Yes, but my dear M. Manicamp, you would consume them in post-horses
alone!

No, no, make yourself easy on that score.
Pardon me. Why, it is fifteen leagues from this place to Etampes?


Fourteen.


Well! fourteen be it; fourteen leagues makes seven posts; at twenty
_sous_ the post, seven _livres_; seven _livres_ the courier, fourteen; as
many for coming back, twenty-eight! as much for bed and supper, that
makes sixty _livres_ this complaisance would cost.

Manicamp stretched himself like a serpent in his bedand fixing his two
great eyes upon MalicorneYou are right,said he; "I could not return
before to-morrow;" and he took the twenty pistoles.

Now, then, be off!

Well, as I cannot be back before to-morrow, we have time.
Time for what?


Time to play.
What do you wish to play with?


Your twenty pistoles, _pardieu!_
No; you always win.


I will wager them, then.
Against what?



Against twenty others.
And what shall be the object of the wager?


This. We have said it was fourteen leagues to Etampes.
Yes.


And fourteen leagues back?
Doubtless.


Well; for these twenty-eight leagues you cannot allow less than fourteen
hours?

That is agreed.
One hour to find the Comte de Guiche.


Go on.
And an hour to persuade him to write a letter to Monsieur.


Just so.
Sixteen hours in all?


You reckon as well as M. Colbert.
It is now twelve o'clock.


Half-past.
_Hein!_ - you have a handsome watch!


What were you saying?said Malicorneputting his watch quickly back
into his fob.

Ah! true; I was offering to lay you twenty pistoles against these you
have lent me, that you will have the Comte de Guiche's letter in -

How soon?

In eight hours.
Have you a winged horse, then?


That is no matter. Will you bet?
I shall have the comte's letter in eight hours?


Yes.
In hand?


In hand.


Well, be it so; I lay,said Malicornecurious enough to know how this
seller of clothes would get through.

Is it agreed?
It is.


Pass me the pen, ink, and paper.
Here they are.

Thank you.

Manicamp raised himself with a sighand leaning on his left elbowin
his best handtraced the following lines: -


Good for an order for a place of maid of honor to Madame, which M. le Comte de
Guiche will take upon him to obtain at sight.
DE MANICAMP.


This painful task accomplishedhe laid himself down in bed again.


Well!asked Malicornewhat does this mean?


That means that if you are in a hurry to have the letter from the Comte
de Guiche for Monsieur, I have won my wager.


How the devil is that?
That is transparent enough, I think; you take that paper.


Well?
And you set out instead of me.


Ah!
You put your horses to their best speed.


Good!


In six hours you will be at Etampes; in seven hours you have the letter
from the comte, and I shall have won my wager without stirring from my
bed, which suits me and you too, at the same time, I am very sure.

Decidedly, Manicamp, you are a great man.

_Hein!_ I know that.
I am to start then for Etampes?


Directly.
I am to go to the Comte de Guiche with this order?


He will give you a similar one for Monsieur.
Monsieur will approve?


Instantly.
And I shall have my _brevet?_


You will.
Ah!


Well, I hope I behave genteely?
Adorably.



Thank you.
You do as you please, then, with the Comte de Guiche, Manicamp?


Except making money of him - everything?


_Diable!_ the exception is annoying; but then, if instead of asking him
for money, you were to ask -
What?


Something important.
What do you call important?


Well! suppose one of your friends asked you to render him a service?
I would not render it to him.


Selfish fellow!
Or at least I would ask him what service he would render me in exchange.


Ah! that, perhaps, is fair. Well, that friend speaks to you.
What, you, Malicorne?


Yes; I.
Ah! ah! you are rich, then?


I have still fifty pistoles left.
Exactly the sum I want. Where are those fifty pistoles?


Here,said Malicorneslapping his pocket.
Then speak, my friend; what do you want?


Malicorne took up the peninkand paper againand presented them all
to Manicamp. "Write!" said he.

Dictate!

An order for a place in the household of Monsieur.

Oh!said Manicamplaying down the pena place in the household of
Monsieur for fifty pistoles?
You mistook me, my friend; you did not hear plainly.


What did you say, then?
I said five hundred.

And the five hundred?
Here they are.

Manicamp devoured the rouleau with his eyes; but this time Malicorne held
it at a distance.

Eh! what do you say to that? Five hundred pistoles.


I say it is for nothing, my friend,said Manicamptaking up the pen
againand you exhaust my credit. Dictate.

Malicorne continued:
Which my friend the Comte de Guiche will obtain for my friend Malicorne.


That's it,said Manicamp.
Pardon me, you have forgotten to sign.


Ah! that is true. The five hundred pistoles?
Here are two hundred and fifty of them.


And the other two hundred and fifty?
When I am in possession of my place.


Manicamp made a face.
In that case give me the recommendation back again.


What to do?
To add two words to it.


Two words?
Yes; two words only.


What are they?
In haste.


Malicorne returned the recommendation; Manicamp added the words.
Good,said Malicornetaking back the paper.


Manicamp began to count out the pistoles.
There want twenty,said he.


How so?
The twenty I have won.


In what way?


By laying that you would have the letter from the Comte de Guiche in
eight hours.

Ah! that's fair,and he gave him the twenty pistoles.

Manicamp began to scoop up his gold by handfulsand pour it in cascades
upon his bed.

This second place,murmured Malicornewhilst drying his paperwhich,
at first glance appears to cost me more than the first, but - He
stoppedtook up the pen in his turnand wrote to Montalais:


MADEMOISELLE, - Announce to your friend that her commission will not be
long before it arrives; I am setting out to get it signed: that will be


twenty-eight leagues I shall have gone for the love of you.


Then with his sardonic smiletaking up the interrupted sentence: - "This
place said he, at first glanceappears to have cost more than the
first; but - the benefit will beI hopein proportion with the expense
and Mademoiselle de la Valliere will bring me back more than Mademoiselle
de Montalaisor else- or else my name is not Malicorne. Farewell
Manicamp and he left the room.


Chapter VI:
The Courtyard of the Hotel Grammont.


On Malicorne's arrival at Orleans, he was informed that the Comte de
Guiche had just set out for Paris. Malicorne rested himself for a couple
of hours, and then prepared to continue his journey. He reached Paris
during the night, and alighted at a small hotel, where, in his previous
journeys to the capital, he had been accustomed to put up, and at eight
o'clock the next morning presented himself at the Hotel Grammont.
Malicorne arrived just in time, for the Comte de Guiche was on the point
of taking leave of Monsieur before setting out for Le Havre, where the
principal members of the French nobility had gone to await Madame's
arrival from England. Malicorne pronounced the name of Manicamp, and was
immediately admitted. He found the Comte de Guiche in the courtyard of
the Hotel Grammont, inspecting his horses, which his trainers and
equerries were passing in review before him. The count, in the presence
of his tradespeople and of his servants, was engaged in praising or
blaming, as the case seemed to deserve, the appointments, horses, and
harness that were being submitted to him; when, in the midst of this
important occupation, the name of Manicamp was announced.


Manicamp!" he exclaimed; "let him enter by all means." And he advanced
a few steps toward the door.


Malicorne slipped through the half-open doorand looking at the Comte de
Guichewho was surprised to see a face he did not recognizeinstead of
the one he expectedsaid: "Forgive memonsieur le comtebut I believe
a mistake has been made. M. Manicamp himself was announced to you
instead of which it is only an envoy from him."


Ah!exclaimed De Guichecoldly; "and what do you bring me?"


A letter, monsieur le comte.Malicorne handed him the first document
and narrowly watched the count's facewhoas he read itbegan to laugh.


What!he exclaimedanother maid of honor? Are all the maids of honor
in France, then, under his protection?


Malicorne bowed.


Why does he not come himself?he inquired.


He is confined to his bed.


The deuce! he has no money then, I suppose,said De Guicheshrugging
his shoulders. "What does he do with his money?"


Malicorne made a movementto indicate that upon this subject he was as
ignorant as the count himself. "Why does he not make use of his credit
then?" continued De Guiche.


With regard to that, I think -


What?



That Manicamp has credit with no one but yourself, monsieur le comte!

He will not be at Le Havre, then?Whereupon Malicorne made another
movement.

But every one will be there.

I trust, monsieur le comte, that he will not neglect so excellent an
opportunity.

He should be at Paris by this time.

He will take the direct road perhaps to make up for lost time.

Where is he now?

At Orleans.

Monsieur,said De Guicheyou seem to me a man of very good taste.

Malicorne was wearing some of Manicamp's old-new clothes. He bowed in
returnsayingYou do me a very great honor, monsieur le comte.

Whom have I the pleasure of addressing?

My name is Malicorne, monsieur.

M. de Malicorne, what do you think of these pistol-holsters?

Malicorne was a man of great readiness and immediately understood the
position of affairs. Besidesthe "de" which had been prefixed to his
nameraised him to the rank of the person with whom he was conversing.
He looked at the holsters with the air of a connoisseur and saidwithout
hesitation: "Somewhat heavymonsieur."

You see,said De Guiche to the saddlerthis gentleman, who
understands these matters well, thinks the holsters heavy, a complaint I
had already made.The saddler was full of excuses.

What do you think,asked De Guicheof this horse, which I have just
purchased?

To look at it, it seems perfect, monsieur le comte; but I must mount it
before I give you my opinion.

Do so, M. de Malicorne, and ride him round the court two or three times.

The courtyard of the hotel was so arrangedthat whenever there was any
occasion for itit could be used as a riding-school. Malicornewith
perfect easearranged the bridle and snaffle-reinsplaced his left hand
on the horse's maneandwith his foot in the stirrupraised himself
and seated himself in the saddle. At firsthe made the horse walk the
whole circuit of the court-yard at a foot-pace; next at a trot; lastly at
a gallop. He then drew up close to the countdismountedand threw the
bridle to a groom standing by. "Well said the count, what do you
think of itM. de Malicorne?"

This horse, monsieur le comte, is of the Mecklenburg breed. In looking
whether the bit suited his mouth, I saw that he was rising seven, the
very age when the training of a horse intended for a charger should
commence. The forehand is light. A horse which holds its head high, it
is said, never tires his rider's hand. The withers are rather low. The
drooping of the hind-quarters would almost make me doubt the purity of


its German breed, and I think there is English blood in him. He stands
well on his legs, but he trots high, and may cut himself, which requires
attention to be paid to his shoeing. He is tractable; and as I made him
turn round and change his feet, I found him quick and ready in doing so.

Well said, M. de Malicorne,exclaimed the comte; "you are a judge of
horsesI perceive;" thenturning towards him againhe continuedyou
are most becomingly dressed, M. de Malicorne. That is not a provincial
cut, I presume. Such a style of dress is not to be met with at Tours or
Orleans.

No, monsieur le comte; my clothes were made at Paris.

There is no doubt about that. But let us resume our own affair.
Manicamp wishes for the appointment of a second maid of honor.

You perceive what he has written, monsieur le comte.

For whom was the first appointment?

Malicorne felt the color rise in his face as he answered hurriedly.

A charming maid of honor, Mademoiselle de Montalais.

Ah, ah! you are acquainted with her?

We are affianced, or nearly so.

That is quite another thing, then; a thousand compliments,exclaimed De
Guicheupon whose lips a courtier's jest was already fittingbut to
whom the word "affianced addressed by Malicorne with respect to
Mademoiselle de Montalais, recalled the respect due to women.

And for whom is the second appointment destined?" asked De Guiche; "is
it for anyone to whom Manicamp may happen to be affianced? In that case
I pity herpoor girl! for she will have a sad fellow for a husband."

No, monsieur le comte; the second appointment is for Mademoiselle de la
Baume le Blanc de la Valliere.

Unknown,said De Guiche.

Unknown? yes, monsieur,said Malicornesmiling in his turn.

Very good. I will speak to Monsieur about it. By the by, she is of
gentle birth?

She belongs to a very good family and is maid of honor to Madame.

That's well. Will you accompany me to Monsieur?

Most certainly, if I may be permitted the honor.

Have you your carriage?

No; I came here on horseback.

Dressed as you are?

No, monsieur; I posted from Orleans, and I changed my traveling suit for
the one I have on, in order to present myself to you.

True, you already told me you had come from Orleans;saying which he
crumpled Manicamp's letter in his handand thrust it in his pocket.


I beg your pardon,said Malicornetimidly; "but I do not think you
have read all."

Not read all, do you say?

No; there were two letters in the same envelope.

Oh! are you sure?

Quite sure.

Let us look, then,said the countas he opened the letter again.

Ah! you are right,he said opening the paper which he had not yet read.

I suspected it,he continued - "another application for an appointment
under Monsieur. This Manicamp is a regular vampire: - he is carrying on
a trade in it."

No, monsieur le comte, he wishes to make a present of it.

To whom?

To myself, monsieur.

Why did you not say so at once, my dear M. Mauvaisecorne?

Malicorne, monsieur le comte.

Forgive me; it is that Latin that bothers me - that terrible mine of
etymologies. Why the deuce are young men of family taught Latin? _Mala_
and _mauvaise_ - you understand it is the same thing. You will forgive
me, I trust, M. de Malicorne.

Your kindness affects me much, monsieur: but it is a reason why I should
make you acquainted with one circumstance without any delay.

What is it?

That I was not born a gentleman. I am not without courage, and not
altogether deficient in ability; but my name is Malicorne simply.

You appear to me, monsieur!exclaimed the countlooking at the astute
face of his companionto be a most agreeable man. Your face pleases
me, M. Malicorne, and you must possess some indisputably excellent
qualities to have pleased that egotistical Manicamp. Be candid and tell
me whether you are not some saint descended upon the earth.

Why so?

For the simple reason that he makes you a present of anything. Did you
not say that he intended to make you a present of some appointment in the
king's household?

I beg your pardon, count; but, if I succeed in obtaining the
appointment, you, and not he, will have bestowed it on me.

Besides he will not have given it to you for nothing, I suppose. Stay,
I have it; - there is a Malicorne at Orleans who lends money to the
prince.

I think that must be my father, monsieur.


Ah! the prince has the father, and that terrible dragon of a Manicamp
has the son. Take care, monsieur, I know him. He will fleece you
completely.

The only difference is, that I lend without interest,said Malicornesmiling.

I was correct in saying you were either a saint or very much resembled
one. M. Malicorne, you shall have the post you want, or I will forfeit
my name.

Ah! monsieur le comte, what a debt of gratitude shall I not owe you?said
Malicornetransported.

Let us go to the prince, my dear M. Malicorne.And De Guiche proceeded
toward the doordesiring Malicorne to follow him. At the very moment
they were about to cross the thresholda young man appeared on the other
side. He was from twenty-four to twenty-five years of ageof pale
complexionbright eyes and brown hair and eyebrows. "Good-day said
he, suddenly, almost pushing De Guiche back into the courtyard again.

Is that youDe Wardes? - What! and bootedspurred and whip in hand
too?"

The most befitting costume for a man about to set off for Le Havre.
There will be no one left in Paris to-morrow.And hereupon he saluted
Malicorne with great ceremonywhose handsome dress gave him the
appearance of a prince.

M. Malicorne,said De Guiche to his friend. De Wardes bowed.

M. de Wardes,said Guiche to Malicornewho bowed in return. "By the
byDe Wardes continued De Guiche, you who are so well acquainted with
these matterscan you tell usprobablywhat appointments are still
vacant at the court; or rather in the prince's household?"

In the prince's household,said De Wardes looking up with an air of
considerationlet me see - the appointment of the master of the horse
is vacant, I believe.

Oh,said Malicornethere is no question of such a post as that,
monsieur; my ambition is not nearly so exalted,

De Wardes had a more penetrating observation than De Guicheand fathomed
Malicorne immediately. "The fact is he said, looking at him from head
to foot, a man must be either a duke or a peer to fill that post."

All I solicit,said Malicorneis a very humble appointment; I am of
little importance, and I do not rank myself above my position.

M. Malicorne, whom you see here,said De Guiche to De Wardesis a
very excellent fellow, whose only misfortune is that of not being of
gentle birth. As far as I am concerned, you know, I attach little value
to those who have but gentle birth to boast of.

Assuredly,said De Wardes; "but will you allow me to remarkmy dear
countthatwithout rank of some sortone can hardly hope to belong to
his royal highness's household?"

You are right,said the countcourt etiquette is absolute. The
devil! - we never so much as gave it a thought.

Alas! a sad misfortune for me, monsieur le comte,said Malicornechanging
color.


Yet not without remedy, I hope,returned De Guiche.

The remedy is found easily enough,exclaimed De Wardes; "you can be
created a gentleman. His Eminencethe Cardinal Mazarindid nothing
else from morning till night."

Hush, hush, De Wardes,said the count; "no jests of that kind; it ill
becomes us to turn such matters into ridicule. Letters of nobilityit
is trueare purchasable; but that is a sufficient misfortune without
the nobles themselves laughing at it."

Upon my word, De Guiche, you're quite a Puritan, as the English say.

At this moment the Vicomte de Bragelonne was announced by one of the
servants in the courtyardin precisely the same manner as he would have
done in a room.

Come here, my dear Raoul. What! you, too, booted and spurred? You are
setting off, then?

Bragelonne approached the group of young menand saluted them with that
quiet and serious manner peculiar to him. His salutation was principally
addressed to De Wardeswith whom he was unacquaintedand whose
featureson his perceiving Raoulhad assumed a strange sternness of
expression. "I have comeDe Guiche he said, to ask your
companionship. We set off for Le HavreI presume."

This is admirable - delightful. We shall have a most enjoyable
journey. M. Malicorne, M. Bragelonne - ah! M. de Wardes, let me present
you.The young men saluted each other in a restrained manner. Their
very natures seemedfrom the beginningdisposed to take exception to
each other. De Wardes was pliantsubtlefull of dissimulation; Raoul
was calmgraveand upright. "Decide between us - between De Wardes and
myselfRaoul."

Upon what subject?

Upon the subject of noble birth.

Who can be better informed on that subject than a De Gramont?

No compliments; it is your opinion I ask.

At least, inform me of the subject under discussion.

De Wardes asserts that the distribution of titles is abused; I, on the
contrary, maintain that a title is useless to the man on whom it is
bestowed.

And you are correct,said Bragelonnequietly.

But, monsieur le vicomte,interrupted De Wardeswith a kind of
obstinacyI affirm that it is I who am correct.

What was your opinion, monsieur?

I was saying that everything is done in France at the present moment, to
humiliate men of family.

And by whom?

By the king himself. He surrounds himself with people who cannot show
four quarterings.


Nonsense,said De Guichewhere could you possibly have seen that, De
Wardes?


One example will suffice,he returneddirecting his look fully upon
Raoul.


State it then.


Do you know who has just been nominated captain-general of the
musketeers? - an appointment more valuable than a peerage; for it gives
precedence over all the marechals of France.


Raoul's color mounted in his face; for he saw the object De Wardes had in
view. "No; who has been appointed? In any case it must have been very
recentlyfor the appointment was vacant eight days ago; a proof of which
isthat the king refused Monsieurwho solicited the post for one of his
_proteges_."


Well, the king refused it to Monsieur's _protege_, in order to bestow it
upon the Chevalier d'Artagnan, a younger brother of some Gascon family,
who has been trailing his sword in the ante-chambers during the last
thirty years.


Forgive me if I interrupt you,said Raouldarting a glance full of
severity at De Wardes; "but you give me the impression of being
unacquainted with the gentleman of whom you are speaking."


I not acquainted with M. d'Artagnan? Can you tell me, monsieur, who
does _not_ know him?


Those who _do_ know him, monsieur,replied Raoulwith still greater
calmness and sternness of mannerare in the habit of saying, that if he
is not as good a gentleman as the king - which is not his fault - he is
the equal of all the kings of the earth in courage and loyalty. Such is
my opinion, monsieur; and I thank heaven I have known M. d'Artagnan from
my birth.


De Wardes was about to replywhen De Guiche interrupted him.


Chapter VII:
The Portrait of Madame.


The discussion was becoming full of bitterness. De Guiche perfectly
understood the whole matterfor there was in Bragelonne's face a look
instinctively hostilewhile in that of De Wardes there was something
like a determination to offend. Without inquiring into the different
feelings which actuated his two friendsDe Guiche resolved to ward off
the blow which he felt was on the point of being dealt by one of them
and perhaps by both. "Gentlemen he said, we must take our leave of
each otherI must pay a visit to Monsieur. YouDe Wardeswill
accompany me to the Louvreand youRaoulwill remain here master of
the house; and as all that is done here is under your adviceyou will
bestow the last glance upon my preparations for departure."


Raoulwith the air of one who neither seeks nor fears a quarrelbowed
his head in token of assentand seated himself upon a bench in the sun.
That is well,said De Guicheremain where you are, Raoul, and tell
them to show you the two horses I have just purchased; you will give me
your opinion, for I only bought them on condition that you ratified the
purchase. By the by, I have to beg your pardon for having omitted to
inquire after the Comte de la Fere.While pronouncing these latter
wordshe closely observed De Wardesin order to perceive what effect
the name of Raoul's father would produce upon him. "I thank you



answered the young man, the count is very well." A gleam of deep hatred
passed into De Wardes's eyes. De Guichewho appeared not to notice the
foreboding expressionwent up to Raouland grasping him by the hand
said- "It is agreedthenBragelonneis it notthat you will rejoin
us in the courtyard of the Palais Royal?" He then signed to De Wardes to
follow himwho had been engaged in balancing himself first on one foot
then on the other. "We are going said he, comeM. Malicorne." This
name made Raoul start; for it seemed that he had already heard it
pronounced beforebut he could not remember on what occasion. While
trying to recall it half-dreamilyyet half-irritated at his conversation
with De Wardesthe three young men set out on their way towards the
Palais Royalwhere Monsieur was residing. Malicorne learned two things;
the firstthat the young men had something to say to each other; and the
secondthat he ought not to walk in the same line with them; and
therefore he walked behind. "Are you mad?" said De Guiche to his
companionas soon as they had left the Hotel de Grammont; "you attack M.
d'Artagnanand thattoobefore Raoul."

Well,said De Wardeswhat then?

What do you mean by 'what then?'

Certainly, is there any prohibition against attacking M. d'Artagnan?

But you know very well that M. d'Artagnan was one of those celebrated
and terrible four men who were called the musketeers.

That they may be; but I do not perceive why, on that account, I should
be forbidden to hate M. d'Artagnan.

What cause has he given you?

Me! personally, none.

Why hate him, therefore?

Ask my dead father that question.

Really, my dear De Wardes, you surprise me. M. d'Artagnan is not one to
leave unsettled any _enmity_ he may have to arrange, without completely
clearing his account. Your father, I have heard, carried matters with a
high hand. Moreover, there are no enmities so bitter that they cannot be
washed away by blood, by a good sword-thrust loyally given.

Listen to me, my dear De Guiche, this inveterate dislike existed between
my father and M. d'Artagnan, and when I was quite a child, he acquainted
me with the reason for it, and, as forming part of my inheritance, I
regard it as a particular legacy bestowed upon me.

And does this hatred concern M. d'Artagnan alone?

As for that, M. d'Artagnan was so intimately associated with his three
friends, that some portion of the full measure of my hatred falls to
their lot, and that hatred is of such a nature, whenever the opportunity
occurs, they shall have no occasion to complain of their allowance.

De Guiche had kept his eyes fixed on De Wardesand shuddered at the
bitter manner in which the young man smiled. Something like a
presentiment flashed across his mind; he knew that the time had passed
away for _grands coups entre gentilshommes_; but that the feeling of
hatred treasured up in the mindinstead of being diffused abroadwas
still hatred all the same; that a smile was sometimes as full of meaning
as a threat; andin a wordthat to the fathers who had hated with their
hearts and fought with their armswould now succeed the sonswho would


indeed hate with their heartsbut would no longer combat their enemies
save by means of intrigue or treachery. Asthereforeit certainly was
not Raoul whom he could suspect either of intrigue or treacheryit was
on Raoul's account that De Guiche trembled. Howeverwhile these gloomy
forebodings cast a shade of anxiety over De Guiche's countenanceDe
Wardes had resumed the entire mastery over himself.

At all events,he observedI have no personal ill-will towards M. de
Bragelonne; I do not know him even.

In any case,said De Guichewith a certain amount of severity in his
tone of voicedo not forget one circumstance, that Raoul is my most
intimate friend;a remark at which De Wardes bowed.

The conversation terminated therealthough De Guiche tried his utmost to
draw out his secret from him; butdoubtlessDe Wardes had determined to
say nothing furtherand he remained impenetrable. De Guiche therefore
promised himself a more satisfactory result with Raoul. In the meantime
they had reached the Palais Royalwhich was surrounded by a crowd of
lookers-on. The household belonging to Monsieur awaited his command to
mount their horsesin order to form part of the escort of the
ambassadorsto whom had been intrusted the care of bringing the young
princess to Paris. The brilliant display of horsesarmsand rich
liveriesafforded some compensation in those timesthanks to the kindly
feelings of the peopleand to the traditions of deep devotion to their
sovereignsfor the enormous expenses charged upon the taxes. Mazarin
had said: "Let them singprovided they pay;" while Louis XIV.'s remark
wasLet them look.Sight had replaced the voice; the people could
still look but they were no longer allowed to sing. De Guiche left De
Wardes and Malicorne at the bottom of the grand staircasewhile he
himselfwho shared the favor and good graces of Monsieur with the
Chevalier de Lorrainewho always smiled at him most affectionately
though he could not endure himwent straight to the prince's apartments
whom he found engaged in admiring himself in the glassand rouging his
face. In a corner of the cabinetthe Chevalier de Lorraine was extended
full length upon some cushionshaving just had his long hair curled
with which he was playing in the same manner a woman would have done.
The prince turned round as the count enteredand perceiving who it was
said: "Ah! is that youDe Guiche; come here and tell me the truth."

You know, my lord, it is one of my defects to speak the truth.

You will hardly believe, De Guiche, how that wicked chevalier has
annoyed me.

The chevalier shrugged his shoulders.

Why, he pretends,continued the princethat Mademoiselle Henrietta is
better looking as a woman than I am as a man.

Do not forget, my lord,said De Guichefrowning slightlyyou require
me to speak the truth.

Certainly,said the princetremblingly.

Well, and I shall tell it you.

Do not be in a hurry, Guiche,exclaimed the princeyou have plenty of
time; look at me attentively, and try to recollect Madame. Besides, her
portrait is here. Look at it.And he held out to him a miniature of
the finest possible execution. De Guiche took itand looked at it for a
long time attentively.

Upon my honor, my lord, this is indeed a most lovely face.


But look at me, count, look at me,said the princeendeavoring to
direct upon himself the attention of the countwho was completely
absorbed in contemplation of the portrait.

It is wonderful,murmured Guiche.

Really one would imagine you had never seen the young lady before.

It is true, my lord, I have seen her but it was five years ago; there is
a great difference between a child twelve years old, and a girl of
seventeen.

Well, what is your opinion?

My opinion is that the portrait must be flattering, my lord.

Of that,said the prince triumphantlythere can be no doubt; but let
us suppose that it is not, what would your opinion be?

My lord, that your highness is exceedingly happy to have so charming a
bride.

The Chevalier de Lorraine burst out laughing. The prince understood how
severe towards himself this opinion of the Comte de Guiche wasand he
looked somewhat displeasedsayingMy friends are not over indulgent.
De Guiche looked at the portrait againandafter lengthened
contemplationreturned it with apparent unwillingnesssayingMost
decidedly, my lord, I should rather prefer to look ten times at your
highness, than to look at Madame once again.It seemed as if the
chevalier had detected some mystery in these wordswhich were
incomprehensible to the princefor he exclaimed: "Very wellget married
yourself." Monsieur continued painting himselfand when he had
finishedlooked at the portrait again once moreturned to admire
himself in the glassand smiledand no doubt was satisfied with the
comparison. "You are very kind to have come he said to Guiche, I
feared you would leave without bidding me adieu."

Your highness knows me too well to believe me capable of so great a
disrespect.

Besides, I suppose you have something to ask from me before leaving
Paris?

Your highness has indeed guessed correctly, for I have a request to
make.

Very good, what is it?

The Chevalier de Lorraine immediately displayed the greatest attention
for he regarded every favor conferred upon another as a robbery committed
against himself. Andas Guiche hesitatedthe prince said: "If it be
moneynothing could be more fortunatefor I am in funds; the
superintendent of the finances has sent me 500000 pistoles."

I thank your highness; but is not an affair of money.

What is it, then? Tell me.

The appointment of a maid of honor.

Oh! oh! Guiche, what a protector you have become of young ladies,said
the princeyou never speak of any one else now.


The Chevalier de Lorraine smiledfor he knew very well that nothing
displeased the prince more than to show any interest in ladies. "My
lord said the comte, it is not I who am directly interested in the
lady of whom I have just spoken; I am acting on behalf of one of my
friends."

Ah! that is different; what is the name of the young lady in whom your
friend is so interested?

Mlle. de la Baume le Blanc de la Valliere; she is already maid of honor
to the dowager princess.

Why, she is lame,said the Chevalier de Lorrainestretching himself on
his cushions.

Lame,repeated the princeand Madame to have her constantly before
her eyes? Most certainly not; it may be dangerous for her when in an
interesting condition.

The Chevalier de Lorraine burst out laughing.

Chevalier,said Guicheyour conduct is ungenerous; while I am
soliciting a favor, you do me all the mischief you can.

Forgive me, comte,said the Chevalier de Lorrainesomewhat uneasy at
the tone in which Guiche had made his remarkbut I had no intention of
doing so, and I begin to believe that I have mistaken one young lady for
another.

There is no doubt of it, monsieur; and I do not hesitate to declare that
such is the case.

Do you attach much importance to it, Guiche?inquired the prince.

I do, my lord.

Well, you shall have it; but ask me for no more appointments, for there
are none to give away.

Ah!exclaimed the chevaliermidday already, that is the hour fixed
for the departure.

You dismiss me, monsieur?inquired Guiche.

Really, count, you treat me very ill to-day,replied the chevalier.

For heaven's sake, count, for heaven's sake, chevalier,said Monsieur
do you not see how you are distressing me?

Your highness's signature?said Guiche.

Take a blank appointment from that drawer, and give it to me.Guiche
handed the prince the document indicatedand at the same time presented
him with a pen already dipped in ink; whereupon the prince signed.
Here,he saidreturning him the appointmentbut I give it on one
condition.

Name it.

That you make friends with the chevalier.

Willingly,said Guiche. And he held out his hand to the chevalier with
an indifference amounting to contempt.


Adieu, count,said the chevalierwithout seeming in any way to have
noticed the count's slight; "adieuand bring us back a princess who will
not talk with her own portrait too much."

Yes, set off and lose no time. By the by, who will accompany you?

Bragelonne and De Wardes.

Both excellent and fearless companions.

Too fearless,said the chevalier; "endeavor to bring them both back
count."

A bad heart, bad!murmured De Guiche; "he scents mischief everywhere
and sooner than anything else." And taking leave of the princehe
quitted the apartment. As soon as he reached the vestibulehe waved in
the air the paper which the prince had signed. Malicorne hurried
forwardand received ittrembling with delight. Whenhoweverhe held
in his handGuiche observed that he still awaited something further.

Patience, monsieur,he said; "the Chevalier de Lorraine was thereand
I feared an utter failure if I asked too much at once. Wait until I
return. Adieu."

Adieu, monsieur le comte; a thousand thanks,said Malicorne.

Send Manicamp to me. By the way, monsieur, is it true that Mlle. de la
Valliere is lame?As he said thishe noticed that Bragelonnewho had
just at that moment entered the courtyardturned suddenly pale. The
poor lover had heard the remarkwhichhoweverwas not the case with
Malicornefor he was already beyond the reach of the count's voice.

Why is Louise's name spoken of here,said Raoul to himself; "oh! let
not De Wardeswho stands smiling yondereven say a word about her in my
presence."

Now, gentlemen,exclaimed the Comte de Guicheprepare to start.

At this moment the princewho had complete his toiletteappeared at the
windowand was immediately saluted by the acclamations of all who
composed the escortand ten minutes afterwardsbannersscarfsand
feathers were fluttering and waving in the airas the cavalcade galloped
away.

Chapter VIII:
Le Havre.

This brilliant and animated companythe members of which were inspired
by various feelingsarrived at Le Havre four days after their departure
from Paris. It was about five o'clock in the afternoonand no
intelligence had yet been received of Madame. They were soon engaged in
quest of apartments; but the greatest confusion immediately ensued among
the mastersand violent quarrels among their attendants. In the midst
of this disorderthe Comte de Guiche fancied he recognized Manicamp. It
wasindeedManicamp himself; but as Malicorne had taken possession of
his very best costumehe had not been able to get any other than a suit
of violet velvettrimmed with silver. Guiche recognized him as much by
his dress as by his featuresfor he had very frequently seen Manicamp in
his violet suitwhich was his last resource. Manicamp presented himself
to the count under an arch of torcheswhich set in a blazerather than
illuminatedthe gate by which Le Havre is enteredand which is situated
close to the tower of Francis I. The countremarking the woe-begone
expression of Manicamp's facecould not resist laughing. "Wellmy poor


Manicamp he exclaimed, how violet you look; are you in mourning?"
Yes,replied Manicamp; "I am in mourning."

For whom, or for what?

For my blue-and-gold suit, which has disappeared, and in the place of
which I could find nothing but this; and I was even obliged to economize
from compulsion, in order to get possession of it.

Indeed?

It is singular you should be astonished at that, since you leave me
without any money.

At all events, here you are, and that is the principal thing.

By the most horrible roads.
Where are you lodging?

Lodging?
Yes!

I am not lodging anywhere.

De Guiche began to laugh. "Well said he, where do you intend to
lodge?"
In the same place you do.


But I don't know, myself.
What do you mean by saying you don't know?


Certainly, how is it likely I should know where I should stay?
Have you not retained an hotel?


I?
Yes, you or the prince.


Neither of us has thought of it. Le Havre is of considerable size, I
suppose; and provided I can get a stable for a dozen horses, and a
suitable house in a good quarter -

Certainly, there are some very excellent houses.
Well then -


But not for us.
What do you mean by saying not for us? - for whom, then?


For the English, of course.
For the English?


Yes; the houses are all taken.
By whom?



By the Duke of Buckingham.

I beg your pardon?said Guichewhose attention this name had awakened.

Yes, by the Duke of Buckingham. His Grace was preceded by a courier,
who arrived here three days ago, and immediately retained all the houses
fit for habitation the town possesses.

Come, come, Manicamp, let us understand each other.

Well, what I have told you is clear enough, it seems to me.

But surely Buckingham does not occupy the whole of Le Havre?

He certainly does not occupy it, since he has not yet arrived; but, once
disembarked, he will occupy it.

Oh! oh!

It is quite clear you are not acquainted with the English; they have a
perfect rage for monopolizing everything.

That may be; but a man who has the whole of one house, is satisfied with
it, and does not require two.

Yes, but two men?

Be it so; for two men, two houses, or four or six, or ten, if you like;
but there are a hundred houses at Le Havre.

Yes, and all the hundred are let.

Impossible!

What an obstinate fellow you are. I tell you Buckingham has hired all
the houses surrounding the one which the queen dowager of England and the
princess her daughter will inhabit.

He is singular enough, indeed,said De Wardescaressing his horse's
neck.

Such is the case, however, monsieur.

You are quite sure of it, Monsieur de Manicamp?and as he put this
questionhe looked slyly at De Guicheas though to interrogate him upon
the degree of confidence to be placed in his friend's state of mind.
During this discussion the night had closed inand the torchespages
attendantssquireshorsesand carriagesblocked up the gate and the
open place; the torches were reflected in the channelwhich the rising
tide was gradually fillingwhile on the other side of the jetty might be
noticed groups of curious lookers-onconsisting of sailors and
townspeoplewho seemed anxious to miss nothing of the spectacle. Amidst
all this hesitation of purposeBragelonneas though a perfect stranger
to the sceneremained on his horse somewhat in the rear of Guicheand
watched the rays of light reflected on the waterinhaling with rapture
the sea breezesand listening to the waves which noisily broke upon the
shore and on the beachtossing the spray into the air with a noise that
echoed in the distance. "But exclaimed De Guiche, what is
Buckingham's motive for providing such a supply of lodgings?"

Yes, yes,said De Wardes; "what reason has he?"

A very excellent one,replied Manicamp.


You know what it is, then?
I fancy I do.


Tell us, then.
Bend your head down towards me.


What! may it not be spoken except in private?
You shall judge of that yourself.


Very well.De Guiche bent down.
Love,said Manicamp.


I do not understand you at all.
Say rather, you cannot understand me yet.


Explain yourself.


Very well; it is quite certain, count, that his royal highness will be
the most unfortunate of husbands.

What do you mean?
The Duke of Buckingham -


It is a name of ill omen to the princes of the house of France.


And so the duke is madly in love with Madame, so the rumor runs, and
will have no one approach her but himself.

De Guiche colored. "Thank youthank you said he to Manicamp, grasping
his hand. Then, recovering himself, added, Whatever you doManicamp
be careful that this project of Buckingham's is not made known to any
Frenchman here; forif somany a sword would be unsheathed in this
country that does not fear English steel."

But after all,said ManicampI have had no satisfactory proof given
me of the love in question, and it may be no more than an idle tale.

No, no,said De Guicheit must be the truth;and despite his command
over himselfhe clenched his teeth.

Well,said Manicampafter all, what does it matter to you? What does
it matter to me whether the prince is to be what the late king was?
Buckingham the father for the queen, Buckingham the son for the princess.

Manicamp! Manicamp!

It is a fact, or at least, everybody says so.
Silence!cried the count.

But why, silence?said De Wardes; "it is a highly creditable
circumstance for the French nation. Are not you of my opinionMonsieur
de Bragelonne?"

To what circumstance do you allude?inquired De Bragelonne with an
abstracted air.

That the English should render homage to the beauty of our queens and


our princesses.

Forgive me, but I have not been paying attention to what has passed;
will you oblige me by explaining.

There is no doubt it was necessary that Buckingham the father should
come to Paris in order that his majesty, King Louis XIII., should
perceive that his wife was one of the most beautiful women of the French
court; and it seems necessary, at the present time, that Buckingham the
son should consecrate, by the devotion of his worship, the beauty of a
princess who has French blood in her veins. The fact of having inspired
a passion on the other side of the Channel will henceforth confer a title
to beauty on this.

Sir,replied De BragelonneI do not like to hear such matters treated
so lightly. Gentlemen like ourselves should be careful guardians of the
honor of our queens and our princesses. If we jest at them, what will
our servants do?

How am I to understand that?said De Wardeswhose ears tingled at the
remark.

In any way you chose, monsieur,replied De Bragelonnecoldly.

Bragelonne, Bragelonne,murmured De Guiche.

M. de Wardes,exclaimed Manicampnoticing that the young man had
spurred his horse close to the side of Raoul.

Gentlemen, gentlemen,said De Guichedo not set such an example in
public, in the street too. De Wardes, you are wrong.

Wrong; in what way, may I ask you?

You are wrong, monsieur, because you are always speaking ill of someone
or something,replied Raoulwith undisturbed composure.

Be indulgent, Raoul,said De Guichein an undertone.

Pray do not think of fighting, gentlemen!said Manicampbefore you
have rested yourselves; for in that case you will not be able to do much.

Come,said De Guicheforward, gentlemen!and breaking through the
horses and attendantshe cleared the way for himself towards the center
of the squarethrough the crowdfollowed by the whole cavalcade. A
large gateway looking out upon a courtyard was open; Guiche entered the
courtyardand BragelonneDe WardesManicampand three or four other
gentlemenfollowed him. A sort of council of war was heldand the
means to be employed for saving the dignity of the embassy were
deliberated upon. Bragelonne was of the opinion that the right of
priority should be respectedwhile De Wardes suggested that the town
should be sacked. This latter proposition appearing to Manicamp rather
prematurehe proposed instead that they should first rest themselves.
This was the wisest thing to dobutunhappilyto follow his advice
two things were wanting; namelya house and beds. De Guiche reflected
for awhileand then said aloudLet him who loves me, follow me!

The attendants also?inquired a page who had approached the group.

Every one,exclaimed the impetuous young man. "Manicampshow us the
way to the house destined for her royal highness's residence."

Without in any way divining the count's projecthis friends followed
himaccompanied by a crowd of peoplewhose acclamations and delight


seemed a happy omen for the success of that project with which they were
yet unacquainted. The wind was blowing strongly from the harborand
moaning in fitful gusts.

Chapter IX:
At Sea.

The following day was somewhat calmeralthough the gale still
continued. The sun hadhoweverrisen through a bank of orange clouds
tingeing with its cheerful rays the crests of the black waves. Watch was
impatiently kept from the different look-outs. Towards eleven o'clock
in the morning a shipwith sails full setwas signalled as in view; two
others followed at the distance of about half a knot. They approached
like arrows shot from the bow of a skillful archer; and yet the sea ran
so high that their speed was as nothing compared to the rolling of the
billows in which the vessels were plunging first in one direction and
then in another. The English fleet was soon recognized by the line of
the shipsand by the color of their pennants; the one which had the
princess on board and carried the admiral's flag preceded the others.

The rumor now spread that the princess was arriving. The whole French
court ran to the harborwhile the quays and jetties were soon covered by
crowds of people. Two hours afterwardsthe other vessels had overtaken
the flagshipand the threenot venturing perhaps to enter the narrow
entrance of the harborcast anchor between Le Havre and La Heve. When
the maneuver had been completedthe vessel which bore the admiral
saluted France by twelve discharges of cannonwhich were returned
discharge for dischargefrom Fort Francis I. Immediately afterwards a
hundred boats were launched; they were covered with the richest stuffs
and destined for the conveyance of the different members of the French
nobility towards the vessels at anchor. But when it was observed that
even inside the harbor the boats were tossed to and froand that beyond
the jetty the waves rose mountains highdashing upon the shore with a
terrible uproarit was readily believed that not one of those frail
boats would be able with safety to reach a fourth part of the distance
between the shore and the vessels at anchor. A pilot-boathowever
notwithstanding the wind and the seawas getting ready to leave the
harborfor the purpose of placing itself at the admiral's disposal.

De Guichewho had been looking among the different boats for one
stronger than the otherswhich might offer a chance of reaching the
English vesselsperceiving the pilot-boat getting ready to startsaid
to Raoul: "Do you not thinkRaoulthat intelligent and vigorous menas
we areought to be ashamed to retreat before the brute strength of wind
and waves?"

That is precisely the very reflection I was silently making to myself,
replied Bragelonne.

Shall we get into that boat, then, and push off? Will you come, De
Wardes?

Take care, or you will get drowned,said Manicamp.

And for no purpose,said De Wardesfor with the wind in your teeth,
as it will be, you will never reach the vessels.

You refuse, then?

Assuredly I do; I would willingly risk and lose my life in an encounter
against men,he saidglancing at Bragelonnebut as to fighting with
oars against waves, I have no taste for that.


And for myself,said Manicampeven were I to succeed in reaching the
ships, I should not be indifferent to the loss of the only good dress
which I have left, - salt water would spoil it.

You, then, refuse also?exclaimed De Guiche.

Decidedly I do; I beg you to understand that most distinctly.

But,exclaimed De Guichelook, De Wardes - look, Manicamp - look
yonder, the princesses are looking at us from the poop of the admiral's
vessel.

An additional reason, my dear fellow, why we should not make ourselves
ridiculous by being drowned while they are looking on.

Is that your last word, Manicamp?

Yes.

And then yours, De Wardes?

Yes.

Then I go alone.

Not so,said Raoulfor I shall accompany you; I thought it was
understood I should do so.

The fact isthat Raouluninfluenced by devotionmeasuring the risk
they runsaw how imminent the danger wasbut he willingly allowed
himself to accept a peril which De Wardes had declined.

The boat was about to set off when De Guiche called to the pilot.
Stay,said he: "we want two places in your boat;" and wrapping five or
six pistoles in paperhe threw them from the quay into the boat.

It seems you are not afraid of salt water, young gentlemen.

We are afraid of nothing,replied De Guiche.

Come along, then.

The pilot approached the side of the boatand the two young menone
after the otherwith equal vivacityjumped into the boat. "Couragemy
men said De Guiche; I have twenty pistoles left in this purseand as
soon as we reach the admiral's vessel they shall be yours." The sailors
bent themselves to their oarsand the boat bounded over the crest of the
waves. The interest taken in this hazardous expedition was universal;
the whole population of Le Havre hurried towards the jetties and every
look was directed towards the little bark; at one moment it flew
suspended on the crest of the foaming wavesthen suddenly glided
downwards towards the bottom of a raging abysswhere it seemed utterly
lost. At the expiration of an hour's struggling with the wavesit
reached the spot where the admiral's vessel was anchoredand from the
side of which two boats had already been dispatched towards their aid.
Upon the quarter-deck of the flagshipsheltered by a canopy of velvet
and erminewhich was suspended by stout supportsHenriettethe queen
dowagerand the young princess - with the admiralthe Duke of Norfolk
standing beside them - watched with alarm this slender barkat one
moment tossed to the heavensand the next buried beneath the wavesand
against whose dark sail the noble figures of the two French gentlemen
stood forth in relief like two luminous apparitions. The crewleaning
against the bulwarks and clinging to the shroudscheered the courage of
the two daring young menthe skill of the pilotand the strength of the


sailors. They were received at the side of the vessel by a shout of
triumph. The Duke of Norfolka handsome young manfrom twenty-six to
twenty-eight years of ageadvanced to meet them. De Guiche and
Bragelonne lightly mounted the ladder on the starboard sideand
conducted by the Duke of Norfolkwho resumed his place near themthey
approached to offer their homage to the princess. Respectand yet more
a certain apprehensionfor which he could not accounthad hitherto
restrained the Comte de Guiche from looking at Madame attentivelywho
howeverhad observed him immediatelyand had asked her motherIs not
that Monsieur in the boat yonder?Madame Henriettewho knew Monsieur
better than her daughter didsmiled at the mistake her vanity had led
her intoand had answeredNo; it is only M. de Guiche, his favorite.
The princessat this replywas constrained to check an instinctive
tenderness of feeling which the courage displayed by the count had
awakened. At the very moment the princess had put this question to her
motherDe Guiche hadat lastsummoned courage to raise his eyes
towards her and could compare the original with the portrait he had so
lately seen. No sooner had he remarked her pale faceher eyes so full
of animationher beautiful nut-brown hairher expressive lipsand her
every gesturewhichwhile betokening royal descentseemed to thank and
to encourage him at one and the same timethan he wasfor a momentso
overcomethathad it not been for Raoulon whose arm he leanthe
would have fallen. His friend's amazed lookand the encouraging gesture
of the queenrestored Guiche to his self-possession. In a few words he
explained his missionexplained in what way he had become envoy of his
royal highness; and salutedaccording to their rank and the reception
they gave himthe admiral and several of the English noblemen who were
grouped around the princess.

Raoul was then presentedand was most graciously received; the share
that the Comte de la Fere had had in the restoration of Charles II. was
known to all; andmore than thatit was the comte who had been charged
with the negotiation of the marriageby means of which the granddaughter
of Henry IV. was now returning to France. Raoul spoke English perfectly
and constituted himself his friend's interpreter with the young English
noblemenwho were indifferently acquainted with the French language. At
this momenta young man came forwardof extremely handsome features
and whose dress and arms were remarkable for their extravagance of
material. He approached the princesseswho were engaged in conversation
with the Duke of Norfolkandin a voice which ill concealed his
impatiencesaidIt is now time to disembark, your royal highness.
The younger of the princesses rose from her seat at this remarkand was
about to take the hand which the young nobleman extended to herwith an
eagerness which arose from a variety of motiveswhen the admiral
intervened between themobserving: "A momentif you pleasemy lord; it
is not possible for ladies to disembark just nowthe sea is too rough;
it is probable the wind may abate before sunsetand the landing will not
be effectedthereforeuntil this evening."

Allow me to observe, my lord,said Buckinghamwith an irritation of
manner which he did not seek to disguiseyou detain these ladies, and
you have no right to do so. One of them, unhappily, now belongs to
France, and you perceive that France claims them by the voice of her
ambassadors;and at the same moment he indicated Raoul and Guichewhom
he saluted.

I cannot suppose that these gentlemen intend to expose the lives of
their royal highnesses,replied the admiral.

These gentlemen,retorted Buckinghamarrived here safely,
notwithstanding the wind; allow me to believe that the danger will not be
greater for their royal highnesses when the wind will be in their favor.

These envoys have shown how great their courage is,said the admiral.


You may have observed that there was a great number of persons on shore
who did _not_ venture to accompany them. Moreover, the desire which they
had to show their respect with the least possible delay to Madame and her
illustrious mother, induced them to brave the sea, which is very
tempestuous to-day, even for sailors. These gentlemen, however, whom I
recommend as an example for my officers to follow, can hardly be so for
these ladies.

Madame glanced at the Comte de Guicheand perceived that his face was
burning with confusion. This look had escaped Buckinghamwho had eyes
for nothing but Norfolkof whom he was evidently very jealous; he seemed
anxious to remove the princesses from the deck of a vessel where the
admiral reigned supreme. "In that case returned Buckingham, I appeal
to Madame herself."

And I, my lord,retorted the admiralI appeal to my own conscience,
and to my own sense of responsibility. I have undertaken to convey
Madame safe and sound to France, and I shall keep my promise.

But, sir - continued Buckingham.

My lord, permit me to remind you that I command here.

Are you aware what you are saying, my lord?replied Buckingham
haughtily.

Perfectly so; I therefore repeat it: I alone command here, all yield
obedience to me; the sea and the winds, the ships and men too.This
remark was made in a dignified and authoritative manner. Raoul observed
its effect upon Buckinghamwho trembled with anger from head to foot
and leaned against one of the poles of the tent to prevent himself
falling; his eyes became suffused with bloodand the hand which he did
not need for his support wandered towards the hilt of his sword.

My lord,said the queenpermit me to observe that I agree in every
particular with the Duke of Norfolk; if the heavens, instead of being
clouded as they are at the present moment, were perfectly serene and
propitious, we can still afford to bestow a few hours upon the officer
who has conducted us so successfully, and with such extreme attention, to
the French coast, where he is to take leave of us.

Buckinghaminstead of replyingseemed to seek counsel from the
expression of Madame's face. Shehoweverhalf-concealed beneath the
thick curtains of the velvet and gold which sheltered herhad not
listened to the discussionhaving been occupied in watching the Comte de
Guichewho was conversing with Raoul. This was a fresh misfortune for
Buckinghamwho fancied he perceived in Madame Henrietta's look a deeper
feeling than that of curiosity. He withdrewalmost tottering in his
gaitand nearly stumbled against the mainmast of the ship.

The duke has not acquired a steady footing yet,said the queen-mother
in Frenchand that may possibly be his reason for wishing to find
himself on firm land again.

The young man overheard this remarkturned suddenly paleandletting
his hands fall in great discouragement by his sidedrew asidemingling
in one sigh his old affection and his new hatreds. The admiralhowever
without taking any further notice of the duke's ill-humorled the
princesses into the quarter-deck cabinwhere dinner had been served with
a magnificence worthy in every respect of his guests. The admiral seated
himself at the right hand of the princessand placed the Comte de Guiche
on her left. This was the place Buckingham usually occupied; and when he
entered the cabinhow profound was his unhappiness to see himself
banished by etiquette from the presence of his sovereignto a position


inferior to that whichby rankhe was entitled to. De Guicheon the
other handpaler still perhaps from happinessthan his rival was from
angerseated himself tremblingly next to the princesswhose silken
robeas it lightly touched himcaused a tremor of mingled regret and
happiness to pass through his whole frame. The repast finished
Buckingham darted forward to hand Madame Henrietta from the table; but
this time it was De Guiche's turn to give the duke a lesson. "Have the
goodnessmy lordfrom this moment said he, not to interpose between
her royal highness and myself. From this momentindeedher royal
highness belongs to Franceand when she deigns to honor me by touching
my hand it is the hand of Monsieurthe brother of the king of France
she touches."

And saying thishe presented his hand to Madame Henrietta with such
marked deferenceand at the same time with a nobleness of mien so
intrepidthat a murmur of admiration rose from the Englishwhilst a
groan of despair escaped from Buckingham's lips. Raoulwho loved
comprehended it all. He fixed upon his friend one of those profound
looks which a bosom friend or mother can alone extendeither as
protector or guardianover the one who is about to stray from the right
path. Towards two o'clock in the afternoon the sun shone forth anewthe
wind subsidedthe sea became smooth as a crystal mirrorand the fog
which had shrouded the coastdisappeared like a veil withdrawn before
it. The smiling hills of France appeared in full viewwith their
numerous white houses rendered more conspicuous by the bright green of
the trees or the clear blue sky.

Chapter X:
The Tents.

The admiralas we have seenwas determined to pay no further attention
to Buckingham's threatening glances and fits of passion. In factfrom
the moment they quitted Englandhe had gradually accustomed himself to
his behavior. De Guiche had not yet in any way remarked the animosity
which appeared to influence that young nobleman against himbut he felt
instinctivelythat there could be no sympathy between himself and the
favorite of Charles II. The queen-motherwith greater experience and
calmer judgmentperceived the exact position of affairsandas she
discerned its dangerwas prepared to meet itwhenever the proper moment
should arrive. Quiet had been everywhere restoredexcept in
Buckingham's heart; hein his impatienceaddressed himself to the
princessin a low tone of voice: "For Heaven's sakemadameI implore
you to hasten your disembarkation. Do you not perceive how that insolent
Duke of Norfolk is killing me with his attentions and devotions to you?"

Henrietta heard this remark; she smiledand without turning her head
towards himbut giving only to the tone of her voice that inflection of
gentle reproachand languid impertinencewhich women and princesses so
well know how to assumeshe murmuredI have already hinted, my lord,
that you must have taken leave of your senses.

Not a single detail escaped Raoul's attention; he heard both Buckingham's
entreaty and the princess's reply; he remarked Buckingham retireheard
his deep sighand saw him pass a hand over his face. He understood
everythingand trembled as he reflected on the position of affairsand
the state of the minds of those about him. At last the admiralwith
studied delaygave the last orders for the departure of the boats.
Buckingham heard the directions given with such an exhibition of delight
that a stranger would really imagine the young man's reason was
affected. As the Duke of Norfolk gave his commandsa large boat or
bargedecked with flagsand capable of holding about twenty rowers and
fifteen passengerswas slowly lowered from the side of the admiral's
vessel. The barge was carpeted with velvet and decorated with coverings


embroidered with the arms of Englandand with garlands of flowers; for
at that timeornamentation was by no means forgotten in these political
pageants. No sooner was this really royal boat afloatand the rowers
with oars upliftedawaitinglike soldiers presenting armsthe
embarkation of the princessthan Buckingham ran forward to the ladder in
order to take his place. His progress washoweverarrested by the
queen. "My lord she said, it is hardly becoming that you should allow
my daughter and myself to land without having previously ascertained that
our apartments are properly prepared. I beg your lordship to be good
enough to precede us ashoreand to give directions that everything be in
proper order on our arrival."

This was a fresh disappointment for the dukeandstill more sosince
it was so unexpected. He hesitatedcolored violentlybut could not
reply. He had thought he might be able to keep near Madame during the
passage to the shoreandby this meansto enjoy to the very last
moment the brief period fortune still reserved for him. The order
howeverwas explicit; and the admiralwho heard it givenimmediately
called outLaunch the ship's gig.His directions were executed with
that celerity which distinguishes every maneuver on board a man-of-war.

Buckinghamin utter hopelessnesscast a look of despair at the
princessof supplication towards the queenand directed a glance full
of anger towards the admiral. The princess pretended not to notice him
while the queen turned aside her headand the admiral laughed outright
at the sound of which Buckingham seemed ready to spring upon him. The
queen-mother roseand with a tone of authority saidPray set off, sir.

The young duke hesitatedlooked around himand with a last efforthalfchoked
by contending emotionssaidAnd you, gentlemen, M. de Guiche
and M. de Bragelonne, do not you accompany me?

De Guiche bowed and saidBoth M. de Bragelonne and myself await her
majesty's orders; whatever the commands she imposes on us, we shall obey
them.Saying thishe looked towards the princesswho cast down her
eyes.

Your grace will remember,said the queenthat M. de Guiche is here to
represent Monsieur; it is he who will do the honors of France, as you
have done those of England; his presence cannot be dispensed with;
besides, we owe him this slight favor for the courage he displayed in
venturing to seek us in such a terrible stress of weather.

Buckingham opened his lipsas if he were about to speakbutwhether
thoughts or expressions failed himnot a syllable escaped themand
turning awayas though out of his mindhe leapt from the vessel into
the boat. The sailors were just in time to catch hold of him to steady
themselves; for his weight and the rebound had almost upset the boat.

His grace cannot be in his senses,said the admiral aloud to Raoul.

I am uneasy on the Duke's account,replied Bragelonne.

While the boat was advancing towards the shorethe duke kept his eyes
immovably fixed on the admiral's shiplike a miser torn away from his
coffersor a mother separated from her childabout to be lead away to
death. No onehoweveracknowledged his signalshis frownsor his
pitiful gestures. In very anguish of mindhe sank down in the boat
burying his hands in his hairwhilst the boatimpelled by the exertions
of the merry sailorsflew over the waves. On his arrival he was in such
a state of apathythathad he not been received at the harbor by the
messenger whom he had directed to precede himhe would hardly have had
strength to ask his way. Having oncehoweverreached the house which
had been set apart for himhe shut himself uplike Achilles in his


tent. The barge bearing the princess quitted the admiral's vessel at the
very moment Buckingham landed. It was followed by another boat filled
with officerscourtiersand zealous friends. Great numbers of the
inhabitants of Le Havrehaving embarked in fishing-cobles and boats of
every descriptionset off to meet the royal barge. The cannon from the
forts fired saluteswhich were returned by the flagship and the two
other vesselsand the flashes from the open mouths of the cannon floated
in white fumes over the wavesand disappeared in the clear blue sky.

The princess landed at the decorated quay. Bands of gay music greeted
her arrivaland accompanied her every step she took. During the time
she was passing through the center of townand treading beneath her
delicate feet the richest carpets and the gayest flowerswhich had been
strewn upon the groundDe Guiche and Raoulescaping from their English
friendshurried through the town and hastened rapidly towards the place
intended for the residence of Madame.

Let us hurry forward,said Raoul to De Guichefor if I read
Buckingham's character aright, he will create some disturbance, when he
learns the result of our deliberations of yesterday.

Never fear,said De GuicheDe Wardes is there, who is determination
itself, while Manicamp is the very personification of the artless
gentleness.

De Guiche was nothoweverthe less diligent on that accountand five
minutes afterwards they were within sight of the Hotel de Ville. The
first thing which struck them was the number of people assembled in the
square. "Excellent said De Guiche; our apartmentsI seeare
prepared."

In factin front of the Hotel de Villeupon the wide open space before
iteight tents had been raisedsurmounted by the flags of France and
England united. The hotel was surrounded by tentsas by a girdle of
variegated colors; ten pages and a dozen mounted troopersfor an escort
mounted guard before the tents. It had a singularly curious effect
almost fairy-like in its appearance. These tents had been constructed
during the night-time. Fitted upwithin and withoutwith the richest
materials that De Guiche had been able to procure in Le Havrethey
completely encircled the Hotel de Ville. The only passage which led to
the steps of the hoteland which was not inclosed by the silken
barricadewas guarded by two tentsresembling two pavilionsthe
doorways of both of which opened towards the entrance. These two tents
were destined for De Guiche and Raoul; in whose absence they were
intended to be occupiedthat of De Guiche by De Wardesand that of
Raoul by Manicamp. Surrounding these two tentsand the six othersa
hundred officersgentlemenand pagesdazzling in their display of silk
and goldthronged like bees buzzing about a hive. Every one of them
their swords by their sideswas ready to obey the slightest sign either
of De Guiche or Bragelonnethe leaders of the embassy.

At the very moment the two young men appeared at the end of one of the
streets leading to the squarethey perceivedcrossing the square at
full gallopa young man on horsebackwhose costume was of surprising
richness. He pushed hastily thorough the crowd of curious lookers-on
andat the sight of these unexpected erectionsuttered a cry of anger
and dismay. It was Buckinghamwho had awakened from his stuporin
order to adorn himself with a costume perfectly dazzling from its beauty
and to await the arrival of the princess and the queen-mother at the
Hotel de Ville. At the entrance to the tentsthe soldiers barred his
passageand his further progress was arrested. Buckinghamhopelessly
infuriatedraised his whip; but his arm was seized by a couple of
officers. Of the two guardians of the tentonly one was there. De
Wardes was in the interior of the Hotel de Villeengaging in attending


to the execution of some orders by De Guiche. At the noise made by
BuckinghamManicampwho was indolently reclining upon the cushions at
the doorway of one of the tentsrose with his usual indifferenceand
perceiving that the disturbance continuedmade his appearance from
underneath the curtains. "What is the matter?" he saidin a gentle tone
of voiceand who is making this disturbance?

It so happenedthatat the moment he began to speaksilence had just
been restoredandalthough his voice was very soft and gentle in its
touchevery one heard his question. Buckingham turned roundand looked
at the tall thin figureand the listless expression of countenance of
his questioner. Probably the personal appearance of Manicampwho was
dressed very plainlydid not inspire him with much respectfor he
replied disdainfullyWho may you be, monsieur?

Manicampleaning on the arm of a gigantic trooperas firm as the pillar
of a cathedralreplied in his usual tranquil tone of voice- "And
_you_monsieur?"

I, monsieur, am the Duke of Buckingham; I have hired all the houses
which surround the Hotel de Ville, where I have business to transact; and
as these houses are let, they belong to me, and, as I hired them in order
to preserve the right of free access to the Hotel de Ville, you are not
justified in preventing me passing to it.

But who prevents you passing, monsieur?inquired Manicamp.

Your sentinels.

Because you wish to pass on horseback, and orders have been given to let
only persons on foot pass.

No one has any right to give orders here, except myself,said
Buckingham.

On what grounds?inquired Manicampwith his soft tone. "Will you do
me the favor to explain this enigma to me?"

Because, as I have already told you, I have hired all the houses looking
on the square.

We are very well aware of that, since nothing but the square itself has
been left for us.

You are mistaken, monsieur; the square belongs to me, as well as the
houses in it.

Forgive me, monsieur, but you are mistaken there. In _our_ country, we
say, the highway belongs to the king, therefore this square is his majesty's;
and, consequently, as we are the king's ambassadors, the square belongs
to us.

I have already asked you who you are, monsieur,exclaimed Buckingham
exasperated at the coolness of his interlocutor.

My name is Manicamp,replied the young manin a voice whose tones were
as harmonious and sweet as the notes of an Aeolian harp.

Buckingham shrugged his shoulders contemptuouslyand saidWhen I hired
these houses which surround the Hotel de Ville, the square was
unoccupied; these barracks obstruct my sight; I hereby order them to be
removed.

A hoarse and angry murmur ran through the crowd of listeners at these


words. De Guiche arrived at this moment; he pushed through the crowd
which separated him from Buckinghamandfollowed by Raoularrived on
the scene of action from one sidejust as De Wardes came up from the
other. "Pardon memy lord; but if you have any complaint to makehave
the goodness to address it to meinasmuch as it was I who supplied the
plans for the construction of these tents."

Moreover, I would beg you to observe, monsieur, that the term 'barrack'
is a highly objectionable one!added Manicampgraciously.

You were saying, monsieur - continued De Guiche.

I was saying, monsieur le comte,resumed Buckinghamin a tone of anger
more marked than everalthough in some measure moderated by the presence
of an equalI was saying that it is impossible these tents can remain
where they are.

_Impossible!_exclaimed De Guicheand why?

Because I object to them.

A movement of impatience escaped De Guichebut a warning glance from
Raoul restrained him.

You should the less object to them, monsieur, on account of the abuse of
priority you have permitted yourself to exercise.

_Abuse!_

Most assuredly. You commission a messenger, who hires in your name the
whole of the town of Le Havre, without considering the members of the
French court, who would be sure to arrive here to meet Madame. Your
Grace will admit that this is hardly friendly conduct in the
representative of a friendly nation.

The right of possession belongs to him who is first on the ground.

Not in France, monsieur.

Why not in France?

Because France is a country where politeness is observed.

Which means?exclaimed Buckinghamin so violent a manner that those
who were present drew backexpecting an immediate collision.

Which means, monsieur,replied De Guichenow rather palethat I
caused these tents to be raised as habitations for myself and my friends,
as a shelter for the ambassadors of France, as the only place of refuge
which your exactions have left us in the town; and that I and those who
are with me, shall remain in them, at least, until an authority more
powerful, and more supreme, than your own shall dismiss me from them.

In other words, until we are ejected, as the lawyers say,observed
Manicampblandly.

I know an authority, monsieur, which I trust is such as you will
respect,said Buckinghamplacing his hand on his sword.

At this momentand as the goddess of Discordinflaming all mindswas
about to direct their swords against each otherRaoul gently placed his
hand on Buckingham's shoulder. "One wordmy lord he said.

My rightmy rightfirst of all exclaimed the fiery young man.


It is precisely upon that point I wish to have the honor of addressing a
word to you."

Very well, monsieur, but let your remarks be brief.

One question is all I ask; you can hardly expect me to be briefer.

Speak, monsieur, I am listening.

Are you, or is the Duke of Orleans, going to marry the granddaughter of
Henry IV.?

What do you mean?exclaimed Buckinghamretreating a few steps
bewildered.

Have the goodness to answer me,persisted Raoul tranquilly.

Do you mean to ridicule me, monsieur?inquired Buckingham.

Your question is a sufficient answer for me. You admit, then, that it
is not you who are going to marry the princess?

You know it perfectly well, monsieur, I should imagine.

I beg your pardon, but your conduct has been such as to leave it not
altogether certain.

Proceed, monsieur, what do you mean to convey?

Raoul approached the duke. "Are you awaremy lord he said, lowering
his voice, that your extravagances very much resemble the excesses of
jealousy? These jealous fitswith respect to any womanare not
becoming in one who is neither her lover nor her husband; and I am sure
you will admit that my remark applies with still greater forcewhen the
lady in question is a princess of the blood royal!"

Monsieur,exclaimed Buckinghamdo you mean to insult Madame
Henrietta?

Be careful, my lord,replied Bragelonnecoldlyfor it is you who
insult her. A little while since, when on board the admiral's ship, you
wearied the queen, and exhausted the admiral's patience. I was
observing, my lord; and, at first, I concluded you were not in possession
of your senses, but I have since surmised the real significance of your
madness.

Monsieur!exclaimed Buckingham.

One moment more, for I have yet another word to add. I trust I am the
only one of my companions who has guessed it.

Are you aware, monsieur,said Buckinghamtrembling with mingled
feelings of anger and uneasinessare you aware that you are holding
language towards me which requires to be checked?

Weigh your words well, my lord,said Raoulhaughtily; "my nature is
not such that its vivacities need checking; whilst youon the contrary
are descended from a race whose passions are suspected by all true
Frenchmen; I repeatthereforefor the second timebe careful!"

Careful of what, may I ask? Do you presume to threaten me?

I am the son of the Comte de la Fere, my lord, and I never threaten,


because I strike first. Therefore, understand me well, the threat that I
hold out to you is this -

Buckingham clenched his handsbut Raoul continuedas though he had not
observed the gesture. "At the very first wordbeyond the respect and
deference due to her royal highnesswhich you permit yourself to use
towards her- be patient my lordfor I am perfectly so."

You?

Undoubtedly. So long as Madame remained on English territory, I held my
peace; but from the very moment she stepped on French ground, and now
that we have received her in the name of the prince, I warn you, that at
the first mark of disrespect which you, in your insane attachment,
exhibit towards the royal house of France, I shall have one of two
courses to follow; - either I declare, in the presence of every one, the
madness with which you are now affected, and I get you ignominiously
ordered back to England; or if you prefer it, I will run my dagger
through your throat in the presence of all here. This second alternative
seems to me the least disagreeable, and I think I shall hold to it.

Buckingham had become paler than the lace collar around his neck. "M. de
Bragelonne he said, is itindeeda gentleman who is speaking to me?"

Yes; only the gentleman is speaking to a madman. Get cured, my lord,
and he will hold quite another language to you.

But, M. de Bragelonne,murmured the dukein a voicehalf-chokedand
putting his hand to his neck- "Do you not see I am choking?"

If your death were to take place at this moment, my lord,replied
Raoulwith unruffled composureI should, indeed, regard it as a great
happiness, for this circumstance would prevent all kinds of evil remarks;
not alone about yourself, but also about those illustrious persons whom
your devotion is compromising in so absurd a manner.

You are right, you are right,said the young manalmost beside
himself. "Yesyes; better to diethan to suffer as I do at this
moment." And he grasped a beautiful daggerthe handle of which was
inlaid with precious stones; and which he half drew from his breast.

Raoul thrust his hand aside. "Be careful what you do he said; if you
do not kill yourselfyou commit a ridiculous action; and if you were to
kill yourselfyou sprinkle blood upon the nuptial robe of the princess
of England."

Buckingham remained a minute gasping for breath; during this interval
his lips quiveredhis fingers worked convulsivelyand his eyes
wanderedas though in delirium. Then suddenlyhe saidM. de
Bragelonne, I know nowhere a nobler mind than yours; you are, indeed, a
worthy son of the most perfect gentleman that ever lived. Keep your
tents.And he threw his arms round Raoul's neck. All who were present
astounded at this conductwhich was the very reverse of what was
expectedconsidering the violence of the one adversary and the
determination of the otherbegan immediately to clap their handsand a
thousand cheers and joyful shouts arose from all sides. De Guichein
his turnembraced Buckingham somewhat against his inclination; butat
all eventshe did embrace him. This was the signal for French and
English to do the same; and they whountil that momenthad looked at
each other with restless uncertaintyfraternized on the spot. In the
meantimethe procession of the princess arrivedand had it not been for
Bragelonnetwo armies would have been engaged together in conflictand
blood would have been shed upon the flowers with which the ground was
covered. At the appearancehoweverof the banners borne at the head of


the processioncomplete order was restored.

Chapter XI:
Night.

Concord returned to its place amidst the tents. English and French
rivaled each other in their devotion and courteous attention to the
illustrious travelers. The English forwarded to the French baskets of
flowersof which they had made a plentiful provision to greet the
arrival of the young princess; the French in return invited the English
to a supperwhich was to be given the next day. Congratulations were
poured in upon the princess everywhere during her journey. From the
respect paid her on all sidesshe seemed like a queen; and from the
adoration with which she was treated by two or three; she appeared an
object of worship. The queen-mother gave the French the most
affectionate reception. France was her native countryand she had
suffered too much unhappiness in England for England to have made her
forget France. She taught her daughterthenby her own affection for
itthat love for a country where they had both been hospitably received
and where a brilliant future opened before them. After the public entry
was overand the spectators in the streets had partially dispersedand
the sound of the music and cheering of the crowd could be heard only in
the distance; when the night had closed inwrapping with its starcovered
mantle the seathe harborthe townand surrounding countryDe
Guichestill excited by the great events of the dayreturned to his
tentand seated himself upon one of the stools with so profound an
expression of distress that Bragelonne kept his eyes fixed upon him
until he heard him sighand then he approached him. The count had
thrown himself back on his seatleaning his shoulders against the
partition of the tentand remained thushis face buried in his hands
with heaving chest and restless limbs.

You are suffering?asked Raoul.

Cruelly.

Bodily, I suppose?

Yes; bodily.

This has indeed been a harassing day,continued the young manhis eyes
fixed upon his friend.

Yes; a night's rest will probably restore me.

Shall I leave you?

No; I wish to talk to you.

You shall not speak to me, Guiche, until you have first answered my
questions.

Proceed then.

You will be frank with me?

I always am.

Can you imagine why Buckingham has been so violent?

I suspect.

Because he is in love with Madame, is it not?


One could almost swear to it, to observe him.

You are mistaken; there is nothing of the kind.

It is you who are mistaken, Raoul; I have read his distress in his eyes,
in his every gesture and action the whole day.

You are a poet, my dear count, and find subjects for your muse
everywhere.

I can perceive love clearly enough.

Where it does not exist?

Nay, where it does exist.

Do you not think you are deceiving yourself, Guiche?

I am convinced of what I say,said the count.

Now, inform me, count,said Raoulfixing a penetrating look upon him
what happened to render you so clear-sighted.

Guiche hesitated for a momentand then answeredSelf-love, I suppose.

Self-love is a pedantic word, Guiche.

What do you mean?

I mean that, generally, you are less out of spirits than seems to be the
case this evening.

I am fatigued.

Listen to me, Guiche; we have been campaigners together; we have been on
horseback for eighteen hours at a time, and our horses dying from
exhaustion, or hunger, have fallen beneath us, and yet we have laughed at
our mishaps. Believe me, it is not fatigue that saddens you to-night.

It is annoyance, then.

What annoyance?

That of this evening.

The mad conduct of the Duke of Buckingham, do you mean?

Of course; is it not vexations for us, the representatives of our
sovereign master, to witness the devotion of an Englishman to our future
mistress, the second lady in point of rank in the kingdom?

Yes, you are right; but I do not think any danger is to be apprehended
from Buckingham.

No; still he is intrusive. Did he not, on his arrival here, almost
succeed in creating a disturbance between the English and ourselves; and,
had it not been for you, for your admirable presence, for your singular
decision of character, swords would have been drawn in the very streets
of the town.

You observe, however, that he has changed his tactics.

Yes, certainly; but this is the very thing that amazes me so much. You


spoke to him in a low tone of voice, what did you say to him? You think
he loves her; you admit that such a passion does not give way readily.
He does not love her, then!De Guiche pronounced the latter with so
marked an expression that Raoul raised his head. The noble character of
the young man's countenance expressed a displeasure which could easily be
read.

What I said to him, count,replied RaoulI will repeat to you.
Listen to me. I said, 'You are regarding with wistful feelings, and most
injurious desire, the sister of your prince, - her to whom you are not
affianced, who is not, who can never be anything to you; you are
outraging those who, like ourselves, have come to seek a young lady to
escort her to her husband.'

You spoke to him in that manner?asked Guichecoloring.

In those very terms; I even added more. 'How would you regard us,' I
said, 'if you were to perceive among us a man mad enough, disloyal
enough, to entertain other than sentiments of the most perfect respect
for a princess who is the destined wife of our master?'

These words were so applicable to De Guiche that he turned paleand
overcome by a sudden agitationwas barely able to stretch out one hand
mechanically towards Raoulas he covered his eyes and face with the
other.

But,continued Raoulnot interrupted by this movement of his friend
Heaven be praised, the French, who are pronounced to be thoughtless and
indiscreet, reckless, even, are capable of bringing a calm and sound
judgment to bear on matters of such high importance. I added even more,
for I said, 'Learn, my lord, that we gentlemen of France devote ourselves
to our sovereigns by sacrificing them our affections, as well as our
fortunes and our lives; and whenever it may chance to happen that the
tempter suggests one of those vile thoughts that set the heart on fire,
we extinguish the flame, even if it has to be done by shedding our blood
for the purpose. Thus it is that the honor of three is saved: our
country's, our master's, and our own. It is thus that we act, your
Grace; it is thus that every man of honor ought to act.' In this manner,
my dear Guiche,continued BragelonneI addressed the Duke of
Buckingham; and he admitted I was right, and resigned himself
unresistingly to my arguments.

De Guichewho had hitherto sat leaning forward while Raoul was speaking
drew himself uphis eyes glancing proudly; he seized Raoul's handhis
facewhich had been as cold as iceseemed on fire. "And you spoke
magnificently he said, in a half-choked voice; you are indeed a
friendRaoul. But nowI entreat youleave me to myself."

Do you wish it?

Yes; I need repose. Many things have agitated me to-day, both in mind
and body; when you return to-morrow I shall no longer be the same man.

I leave you, then,said Raoulas he withdrew. The count advanced a
step towards his friendand pressed him warmly in his arms. But in this
friendly pressure Raoul could detect the nervous agitation of a great
internal conflict.

The night was clearstarlitand splendid; the tempest had passed away
and the sweet influences of the evening had restored lifepeace and
security everywhere. A few fleecy clouds were floating in the heavens
and indicated from their appearance a continuance of beautiful weather
tempered by a gentle breeze from the east. Upon the large square in
front of the hotelthe shadows of the tentsintersected by the golden


moonbeamsformed as it were a huge mosaic of jet and yellow flagstones.
Soonhoweverthe entire town was wrapped in slumber; a feeble light
still glimmered in Madame's apartmentwhich looked out upon the square
and the soft rays from the expiring lamp seemed to be the image of the
calm sleep of a young girlhardly yet sensible of life's anxietiesand
in whom the flame of existence sinks placidly as sleep steals over the
body.


Bragelonne quitted the tent with the slow and measured step of a man
curious to observebut anxious not to be seen. Sheltered behind the
thick curtains of his own tentembracing with a glance the whole square
he noticed thatafter a few moments' pausethe curtains of De Guiche's
tent were agitatedand then drawn partially aside. Behind them he could
perceive the shadow of De Guichehis eyesglittering in the obscurity
fastened ardently upon the princess's sitting apartmentwhich was
partially lighted by the lamp in the inner room. The soft light which
illumined the windows was the count's star. The fervent aspirations of
his nature could be read in his eyes. Raoulconcealed in the shadow
divined the many passionate thoughts that establishedbetween the tent
of the young ambassador and the balcony of the princessa mysterious and
magical bond of sympathy - a bond created by thoughts imprinted with so
much strength and persistence of willthat they must have caused happy
and loving dreams to alight upon the perfumed couchwhich the count
with the eyes of his souldevoured so eagerly.


But De Guiche and Raoul were not the only watchers. The window of one of
the houses looking on the square was opened toothe casement of the
house where Buckingham resided. By the aid of the rays of light which
issued from this latterthe profile of the duke could be distinctly
seenas he indolently reclined upon the carved balcony with its velvet
hangings; he also was breathing in the direction of the princess's
apartment his prayers and the wild visions of his love.


Raoul could not resist smilingas thinking of Madamehe said to
himselfHers is, indeed, a heart well besieged;and then added
compassionatelyas he thought of Monsieurand he is a husband well
threatened too; it is a good thing for him that he is a prince of such
high rank, that he has an army to safeguard for him that which is his
own.Bragelonne watched for some time the conduct of the two lovers
listened to the loud and uncivil slumbers of Manicampwho snored as
imperiously as though he was wearing his blue and goldinstead of his
violet suit.


Then he turned towards the night breeze which bore towards himhe seemed
to thinkthe distant song of the nightingale; andafter having laid in
a due provision of melancholyanother nocturnal maladyhe retired to
rest thinkingwith regard to his own love affairthat perhaps four or
even a larger number of eyesquite as ardent as those of De Guiche and
Buckinghamwere coveting his own idol in the chateau at Blois. "And
Mademoiselle de Montalais is by no means a very conscientious garrison
said he to himself, sighing aloud.


Chapter XII:
From Le Havre to Paris.


The next day the _fetes_ took place, accompanied by all the pomp and
animation that the resources of the town and the cheerful disposition of
men's minds could supply. During the last few hours spent in Le Havre,
every preparation for the departure had been made. After Madame had
taken leave of the English fleet, and, once again, had saluted the
country in saluting its flags, she entered her carriage, surrounded by a
brilliant escort. De Guiche had hoped that the Duke of Buckingham would
accompany the admiral to England; but Buckingham succeeded in



demonstrating to the queen that there would be great impropriety in
allowing Madame to proceed to Paris, almost unprotected. As soon as it
had been settled that Buckingham was to accompany Madame, the young duke
selected a corps of gentlemen and officers to form part of his own suite,
so that it was almost an army that now set out towards Paris, scattering
gold, and exciting the liveliest demonstrations as they passed through
the different towns and villages on the route. The weather was very
fine. France is a beautiful country, especially along the route by which
the procession passed. Spring cast its flowers and its perfumed foliage
on their path. Normandy, with its vast variety of vegetation, its blue
skies and silver rivers, displayed itself in all the loveliness of a
paradise to the new sister of the king. _Fetes_ and brilliant displays
received them everywhere along the line of march. De Guiche and
Buckingham forgot everything; De Guiche in his anxiety to prevent any
fresh attempts on the part of the duke, and Buckingham, in his desire to
awaken in the heart of the princess a softer remembrance of the country
to which the recollection of many happy days belonged. But, alas! the
poor duke could perceive that the image of that country so cherished by
himself became, from day to day, more and more effaced in Madame's mind,
in exact proportion as her affection for France became more deeply
engraved on her heart. In fact, it was not difficult to perceive that
his most devoted attention awakened no acknowledgement, and that the
grace with which he rode one of his most fiery horses was thrown away,
for it was only casually and by the merest accident that the princess's
eyes were turned towards him. In vain did he try, in order to fix upon
himself one of those looks, which were thrown carelessly around, or
bestowed elsewhere, to produce in the animal he rode its greatest display
of strength, speed, temper and address; in vain did he, by exciting his
horse almost to madness, spur him, at the risk of dashing himself in
pieces against the trees, or of rolling in the ditches, over the gates
and barriers which they passed, or down the steep declivities of the
hills. Madame, whose attention had been aroused by the noise, turned her
head for a moment to observe the cause of it, and then, slightly smiling,
again entered into conversation with her faithful guardians, Raoul and De
Guiche, who were quietly riding at her carriage doors. Buckingham felt
himself a prey to all the tortures of jealousy; an unknown, unheard of
anguish glided through his veins, and laid siege to his heart; and then,
as if to show that he knew the folly of his conduct, and that he wished
to correct, by the humblest submission, his flights of absurdity, he
mastered his horse, and compelled him, reeking with sweat and flecked
with foam, to champ his bit close beside the carriage, amidst the crowd
of courtiers. Occasionally he obtained a word from Madame as a
recompense, and yet her speech seemed almost a reproach.

That is wellmy lord she said, now you are reasonable."

Or from RaoulYour Grace is killing your horse.

Buckingham listened patiently to Raoul's remarksfor he instinctively
feltwithout having had any proof that such was the casethat Raoul
checked the display of De Guiche's feelingsand thathad it not been
for Raoulsome mad act or proceedingeither of the countor of
Buckingham himselfwould have brought about an open ruptureor a
disturbance - perhaps even exile itself. From the moment of that excited
conversation the two young men had held in front of the tents at Le
Havrewhen Raoul made the duke perceive the impropriety of his conduct
Buckingham felt himself attracted towards Raoul almost in spite of
himself. He often entered into conversation with himand it was nearly
always to talk to him either of his father or of D'Artagnantheir mutual
friendin whose praise Buckingham was nearly as enthusiastic as Raoul.
Raoul endeavoredas much as possibleto make the conversation turn upon
this subject in De Wardes's presencewho hadduring the whole journey
been exceedingly annoyed at the superior position taken by Bragelonne
and especially by his influence over De Guiche. De Wardes had that keen


and merciless penetration most evil natures possess; he had immediately
remarked De Guiche's melancholyand divined the nature of his regard for
the princess. Insteadhoweverof treating the subject with the same
reserve which Raoul practiced; instead of regarding with that respect
which was their duethe obligations and duties of societyDe Wardes
resolutely attacked in the count the ever-sounding chord of juvenile
audacity and pride. It happened one eveningduring a halt at Mantes
that while De Guiche and De Wardes were leaning against a barrier
engaged in conversationBuckingham and Raoul were also talking together
as they walked up and down. Manicamp was engaged in devoted attendance
on the princesswho already treated him without reserveon account of
his versatile fancyhis frank courtesy of mannerand conciliatory
disposition.

Confess,said De Wardesthat you are really ill, and that your
pedagogue of a friend has not succeeded in curing you.

I do not understand you,said the count.

And yet it is easy enough; you are dying of love.

You are mad, De Wardes.

Madness it would be, I admit, if Madame were really indifferent to your
martyrdom; but she takes so much notice of it, observes it to such an
extent, that she compromises herself, and I tremble lest, on our arrival
at Paris, M. de Bragelonne may not denounce both of you.

For shame, De Wardes, again attacking De Bragelonne.

Come, come, a truce to child's play,replied the count's evil genius
in an undertone; "you know as well as I do what I mean. Besidesyou
must have observed how the princess's glance softens as she looks at you;

-you can tellby the very inflection of her voicewhat pleasure she
takes in listening to youand can feel how thoroughly she appreciates
the verses you recite to her. You cannot denytoothat every morning
she tells you how indifferently she slept the previous night."
True, De Wardes, quite true; but what good is there in your telling me
all that?

Is it not important to know the exact position of affairs?

No, no; not when I am a witness of things that are enough to drive one
mad.

Stay, stay,said De Wardes; "lookshe calls you- do you understand?
Profit by the occasionwhile your pedagogue is absent."

De Guiche could not resist; an invincible attraction drew him towards the
princess. De Wardes smiled as he saw him withdraw.

You are mistaken, monsieur,said Raoulsuddenly stepping across the
barrier against which the previous moment the two friends had been
leaning. "The pedagogue is hereand has overheard you."

De Wardesat the sound of Raoul's voicewhich he recognized without
having occasion to look at himhalf drew his sword.

Put up your sword,said Raoul; "you know perfectly well thatuntil our
journey is at an endevery demonstration of that nature is useless. Why
do you distill into the heart of the man you term your friend all the
bitterness that infects your own? As regards myselfyou wish to arouse
a feeling of deep dislike against a man of honor - my father's friend and


my own; and as for the count you wish him to love one who is destined for
your master. ReallymonsieurI should regard you as a cowardand a
traitor tooif I did notwith greater justiceregard you as a madman."

Monsieur,exclaimed De WardesexasperatedI was deceived, I find, in
terming you a pedagogue. The tone you assume, and the style which is
peculiarly your own, is that of a Jesuit, and not of a gentleman.
Discontinue, I beg, whenever I am present, this style I complain of, and
the tone also. I hate M. d'Artagnan, because he was guilty of a cowardly
act towards my father.

You lie, monsieur,said Raoulcoolly.

You give me the lie, monsieur?exclaimed De Wardes.

Why not, if what you assert is untrue?

You give me the lie, and will not draw your sword?

I have resolved, monsieur, not to kill you until Madame shall have been
delivered safely into her husband's hands.

Kill me! Believe me, monsieur, your schoolmaster's rod does not kill so
easily.

No,replied Raoulsternlybut M. d'Artagnan's sword kills; and, not
only do I possess his sword, but he has himself taught me how to use it;
and with that sword, when a befitting time arrives, I will avenge his
name - a name you have dishonored.

Take care, monsieur,exclaimed De Wardes; "if you do not immediately
give me satisfactionI will avail myself of every means to revenge
myself."

Indeed, monsieur,said Buckinghamsuddenlyappearing upon the scene
of actionthat is a threat which savors of assassination, and
therefore, ill becomes a gentleman.

What did you say, my lord?said De Wardesturning round towards him.

I said, monsieur, that the words you have just spoken are displeasing to
my English ears.

Very well, monsieur, if what you say is true,exclaimed De Wardes
thoroughly incensedI at least find in you one who will not escape me.
Understand my words as you like.

I take them in the manner they cannot but be understood,replied
Buckinghamwith that haughty tone which characterized himand which
even in ordinary conversationgave a tone of defiance to everything he
said; "M. de Bragelonne is my friendyou insult M. de Bragelonneand
you shall give me satisfaction for that insult."

De Wardes cast a look upon De Bragelonnewhofaithful to the character
he had assumedremained calm and unmovedeven after the duke's defiance.

It would seem that I did not insult M. de Bragelonne, since M. de
Bragelonne, who carries a sword by his side, does not consider himself
insulted.

At all events you insult someone.

Yes, I insulted M. d'Artagnan,resumed De Wardeswho had observed that
this was the only means of stinging Raoulso as to awaken his anger.


That, then,said Buckinghamis another matter.

Precisely so,said De Wardes; "it is the province of M. d'Artagnan's
friends to defend him."

I am entirely of your opinion,replied the dukewho had regained all
his indifference of manner; "if M. de Bragelonne were offendedI could
not reasonably be expected to espouse his quarrelsince he is himself
here; but when you say that it is a quarrel of M. d'Artagnan - "

You will of course leave me to deal with the matter,said De Wardes.

Nay, on the contrary, for I draw my sword,said Buckinghamunsheathing
it as he spoke; "for if M. d'Artagnan injured your fatherhe rendered
or at least did all that he could to rendera great service to mine."

De Wardes was thunderstruck.

M. d'Artagnan,continued Buckinghamis the bravest gentleman I know.
I shall be delighted, as I owe him many personal obligations, to settle
them with you, by crossing my sword with yours.At the same moment
Buckingham drew his sword from its scabbardsaluted Raouland put
himself on guard.

De Wardes advanced a step to meet him.

Stay, gentlemen,said Raouladvancing towards themand placing his
own drawn sword between the combatantsthe affair is hardly worth the
trouble of blood being shed almost in the presence of the princess. M.
de Wardes speaks ill of M. d'Artagnan, with whom he is not even
acquainted.

What, monsieur,said De Wardessetting his teeth hard togetherand
resting the point of his sword on the toe of his bootdo you assert
that I do not know M. d'Artagnan?

Certainly not; you do not know him,replied Raoulcoldlyand you are
even not aware where he is to be found.

Not know where he is?

Such must be the case, since you fix your quarrel with him upon
strangers, instead of seeking M. d'Artagnan where he is to be found.De
Wardes turned pale. "Wellmonsieur continued Raoul, I will tell you
where M. d'Artagnan is: he is now in Paris; when on duty he is to be met
with at the Louvre- when not on dutyin the Rue des Lombards. M.
d'Artagnan can easily be discovered at either of those two places.
Havingthereforeas you assertso many causes of complaint against
himshow your courage in seeking him outand afford him an opportunity
of giving you that satisfaction you seem to ask of every one but of
himself." De Wardes passed his hand across his foreheadwhich was
covered with perspiration. "For shameM. de Wardes! so quarrelsome a
disposition is hardly becoming after the publication of the edicts
against duels. Pray think of that; the king will be incensed at our
disobedienceparticularly at such a time- and his majesty will be in
the right."

Excuses,murmured De Wardes; "mere pretexts."

Really, M. De Wardes,resumed Raoulsuch remarks are the idlest
bluster. You know very well that the Duke of Buckingham is a man of
undoubted courage, who has already fought ten duels, and will probably
fight eleven. His name alone is significant enough. As far as I am


concerned, you are well aware that I can fight also. I fought at Lens,
at Bleneau, at the Dunes in front of the artillery, a hundred paces in
front of the line, while you - I say this parenthetically - were a
hundred paces behind it. True it is, that on that occasion there was far
too great a concourse of persons present for your courage to be observed,
and on that account perhaps you did not reveal it; while here, it would
be a display, and would excite remark - you wish that others should talk
about you, in what manner you do not care. Do not depend upon me, M. de
Wardes to assist you in your designs, for I shall certainly not afford
you that pleasure.

Sensibly observed,said Buckinghamputting up his swordand I ask
your forgiveness, M. de Bragelonne, for having allowed myself to yield to
a first impulse.

De Wardeshoweveron the contraryperfectly furiousbounded forward
and raised his swordthreateninglyagainst Raoulwho had scarcely
enough time to put himself in a posture of defense.

Take care, monsieur,said Bragelonnetranquillyor you will put out
one of my eyes.

You will not fight, then?said De Wardes.

Not at this moment; but this I promise to do; immediately on our arrival
at Paris I will conduct you to M. d'Artagnan, to whom you shall detail
all the causes of complaint you have against him. M d'Artagnan will
solicit the king's permission to measure swords with you. The king will
yield his consent, and when you shall have received the sword-thrust in
due course, you will consider, in a calmer frame of mind, the precepts of
the Gospel, which enjoin forgetfulness of injuries.

Ah!exclaimed De Wardesfurious at this imperturbable coolnessone
can clearly see you are half a bastard, M. de Bragelonne.

Raoul became as pale as death; his eyes flashed lightningcausing De
Wardes involuntarily to fall back. Buckinghamalsowho had perceived
their expressionthrew himself between the two adversarieswhom he had
expected to see precipitate themselves on each other. De Wardes had
reserved this injury for the last; he clasped his sword firmly in his
handand awaited the encounter. "You are rightmonsieur said Raoul,
mastering his emotion, I am only acquainted with my father's name; but I
know too well that the Comte de la Fere is too upright and honorable a
man to allow me to fear for a single moment that there isas you
insinuateany stain upon my birth. My ignorancethereforeof my
mother's name is a misfortune for meand not a reproach. You are
deficient in loyalty of conduct; you are wanting in courtesyin
reproaching me with misfortune. It matters littlehoweverthe insult
has been givenand I consider myself insulted accordingly. It is quite
understoodthenthat after you shall have received satisfaction from M.
d'Artagnanyou will settle your quarrel with me."

I admire your prudence, monsieur,replied De Wardes with a bitter
smile; "a little while ago you promised me a sword-thrust from M.
d'Artagnanand nowafter I shall have received hisyou offer me one
from yourself."

Do not disturb yourself,replied Raoulwith concentrated anger; "in
all affairs of that natureM. d'Artagnan is exceedingly skillfuland I
will beg him as a favor to treat you as he did your father; in other
wordsto spare your life at leastso as to leave me the pleasureafter
your recoveryof killing you outright; for you have the heart of a
viperM. de Wardesand in very truthtoo many precautions cannot be
taken against you."


I shall take my precautions against you,said De Wardesbe assured of
it.


Allow me, monsieur,said Buckinghamto translate your remark by a
piece of advice I am about to give M. de Bragelonne; M. de Bragelonne,
wear a cuirass.


De Wardes clenched his hands. "Ah!" said heyou two gentlemen intend
to wait until you have taken that precaution before you measure your
swords against mine.


Very well, monsieur,said Raoulsince you positively will have it so,
let us settle the affair now.Anddrawing his swordhe advanced
towards De Wardes.


What are you going to do?said Buckingham.


Be easy,said Raoulit will not be very long.


De Wardes placed himself on his guard; their swords crossed. De Wardes
flew upon Raoul with such impetuositythat at the first clashing of the
steel blades Buckingham clearly saw that Raoul was only trifling with his
adversary. Buckingham stepped asideand watched the combat. Raoul was
as calm as if he were handling a foil instead of a sword; having
retreated a stephe parried three or four fierce thrusts which De Wardes
made at himcaught the sword of the latter with within his ownand sent
it flying twenty paces the other side of the barrier. Then as De Wardes
stood disarmed and astounded at his defeatRaoul sheathed his sword
seized him by the collar and the waist bandand hurled his adversary to
the other end of the barriertremblingand mad with rage.


We shall meet again,murmured De Wardesrising from the ground and
picking up his sword.


I have done nothing for the last hour,said Raoulrising from the
groundbut say the same thing.Thenturning towards the dukehe
saidI entreat you to be silent about this affair; I am ashamed to have
gone so far, but my anger carried me away, and I ask your forgiveness for
it; - forget it, too.


Dear viscount,said the dukepressing with his own the vigorous and
valiant hand of his companionallow me, on the contrary, to remember
it, and to look after your safety; that man is dangerous, - he will kill
you.


My father,replied Raoullived for twenty years under the menace of a
much more formidable enemy, and he still lives.


Your father had good friends, viscount.


Yes,sighed Raoulsuch friends, indeed, that none are now left like
them.


Do not say that, I beg, at the very moment I offer you my friendship;
and Buckingham opened his arms to embrace Raoulwho delightedly received
the proffered alliance. "In my family added Buckingham, you are
awareM. de Bragelonnewe die to save our friends."


I know it well, duke,replied Raoul.


Chapter XIII:
An Account of what the Chevalier de Lorraine Thought of Madame.



Nothing further interrupted the journey. Under a pretext that was little
remarkedM. de Wardes went forward in advance of the others. He took
Manicamp with himfor his equable and dreamy disposition acted as a
counterpoise to his own. It is a subject of remarkthat quarrelsome and
restless characters invariably seek the companionship of gentletimorous
dispositionsas if the former soughtin the contrasta repose for
their own ill-humorand the latter a protection for their weakness.
Buckingham and Bragelonneadmitting De Guiche into their friendshipin
concert with himsang the praises of the princess during the whole of
the journey. Bragelonnehadhoweverinsisted that their three voices
should be in concertinstead of singing in solo partsas De Guiche and
his rival seemed to have acquired a dangerous habit of doing. This style
of harmony pleased the queen-mother exceedinglybut it was not perhaps
so agreeable to the young princesswho was an incarnation of coquetry
and whowithout any fear as far as her own voice was concernedsought
opportunities of so perilously distinguishing herself. She possessed one
of those fearless and incautious dispositions that find gratification in
an excess of sensitiveness of feelingand for whomalsodanger has a
certain fascination. And so her glancesher smilesher toilettean
inexhaustible armory of weapons of offensewere showered on the three
young men with overwhelming force; andfrom her well-stored arsenal
issued glanceskindly recognitionsand a thousand other little charming
attentions which were intended to strike at long range the gentlemen who
formed the escortthe townspeoplethe officers of the different cities
she passed throughpagespopulaceand servants; it was wholesale
slaughtera general devastation. By the time Madame arrived at Paris
she had reduced to slavery about a hundred thousand lovers: and brought
in her train to Paris half a dozen men who were almost mad about herand
two who wereindeedliterally out of their minds. Raoul was the only
person who divined the power of this woman's attractionand as his heart
was already engagedhe arrived in the capital full of indifference and
distrust. Occasionally during the journey he conversed with the queen of
England respecting the power of fascination which Madame possessedand
the motherwhom so many misfortunes and deceptions had taught
experiencereplied: "Henrietta was sure to be illustrious in one way or
anotherwhether born in a palace or born in obscurity; for she is a
woman of great imaginationcapricious and self-willed." De Wardes and
Manicampin their self-assumed character of courtiershad announced the
princess's arrival. The procession was met at Nanterre by a brilliant
escort of cavaliers and carriages. It was Monsieur himselffollowed by
the Chevalier de Lorraine and by his favoritesthe latter being
themselves followed by a portion of the king's military householdwho
had arrived to meet his affianced bride. At St. Germainthe princess
and her mother had changed their heavy traveling carriagesomewhat
impaired by the journeyfor a lightrichly decorated chariot drawn by
six horses with white and gold harness. Seated in this open carriageas
though upon a throneand beneath a parasol of embroidered silkfringed
with featherssat the young and lovely princesson whose beaming face
were reflected the softened rose-tints which suited her delicate skin to
perfection. Monsieuron reaching the carriagewas struck by her
beauty; he showed his admiration in so marked a manner that the Chevalier
de Lorraine shrugged his shoulders as he listened to his compliments
while Buckingham and De Guiche were almost heart-broken. After the usual
courtesies had been renderedand the ceremony completedthe procession
slowly resumed the road to Paris. The presentations had been carelessly
madeand Buckinghamwith the rest of the English gentlemenhad been
introduced to Monsieurfrom whom they had received but very indifferent
attention. Butduring their progressas he observed that the duke
devoted himself with his accustomed eagerness to the carriage-doorhe
asked the Chevalier de Lorrainehis inseparable companionWho is that
cavalier?

He was presented to your highness a short while ago; it is the handsome


Duke of Buckingham.
Ah, yes, I remember.

Madame's knight,added the favoritewith an inflection of the voice
which envious minds can alone give to the simplest phrases.

What do you say?replied the prince.

I said 'Madame's knight'.
Has she a recognized knight, then?


One would think you can judge of that for yourself; look, only, how they
are laughing and flirting. All three of them.

What do you mean by _all three?_
Do you not see that De Guiche is one of the party?


Yes, I see. But what does that prove?
That Madame has two admirers instead of one.


You poison the simplest thing!


I poison nothing. Ah! your royal highness's mind is perverted. The
honors of the kingdom of France are being paid to your wife and you are
not satisfied.

The Duke of Orleans dreaded the satirical humor of the Chevalier de
Lorraine whenever it reached a certain degree of bitternessand he
changed the conversation abruptly. "The princess is pretty said he,
very negligently, as if he were speaking of a stranger.

Yes replied the chevalier, in the same tone.

You say 'yes' like a 'no'. She has very beautiful black eyes."
Yes, but small.

That is so, but they are brilliant. She is tall, and of a good figure.
I fancy she stoops a little, my lord.

I do not deny it. She has a noble appearance.
Yes, but her face is thin.

I thought her teeth beautiful.

They can easily be seen, for her mouth is large enough. Decidedly, I
was wrong, my lord; you are certainly handsomer than your wife.
But do you think me as handsome as Buckingham?

Certainly, and he thinks so, too; for look, my lord, he is redoubling
his attentions to Madame to prevent your effacing the impression he has
made.

Monsieur made a movement of impatiencebut as he noticed a smile of
triumph pass across the chevalier's lipshe drew up his horse to a footpace.
Why,said heshould I occupy myself any longer about my
cousin? Do I not already know her? Were we not brought up together?


Did I not see her at the Louvre when she was quite a child?

A great change has taken place in her since then, prince. At the period
you allude to, she was somewhat less brilliant, and scarcely so proud,
either. One evening, particularly, you may remember, my lord, the king
refused to dance with her, because he thought her plain and badly
dressed!

These words made the Duke of Orleans frown. It was by no means
flattering for him to marry a princess of whomwhen youngthe king had
not thought much. He would probably have retortedbut at this moment De
Guiche quitted the carriage to join the prince. He had remarked the
prince and the chevalier togetherand full of anxious attention he
seemed to try and guess the nature of the remarks which they had just
exchanged. The chevalierwhether he had some treacherous object in
viewor from imprudencedid not take the trouble to dissimulate.
Count,he saidyou're a man of excellent taste.

Thank you for the compliment,replied De Guiche; "but why do you say
that?"

Well I appeal to his highness.

No doubt of it,said Monsieur; "and Guiche knows perfectly well that I
regard him as a most finished cavalier."

Well, since that is decided, I resume. You have been in the princess's
society, count, for the last eight days, have you not?

Yes,replied De Guichecoloring in spite of himself.

Well then, tell us frankly, what do you think of her personal
appearance?

Of her personal appearance?returned De Guichestupefied.

Yes; of her appearance, of her mind, of herself, in fact.

Astounded by this questionDe Guiche hesitated answering.

Come, come, De Guiche,resumed the chevalierlaughinglytell us your
opinion frankly; the prince commands it.

Yes, yes,said the princebe frank.

De Guiche stammered out a few unintelligible words.

I am perfectly well aware,returned Monsieurthat the subject is a
delicate one, but you know you can tell me everything. What do you think
of her?

In order to avoid betraying his real thoughtsDe Guiche had recourse to
the only defense which a man taken by surprise really hasand
accordingly told an untruth. "I do not find Madame he said, either
good or bad lookingyet rather good than bad looking."

What! count,exclaimed the chevalieryou who went into such ecstasies
and uttered so many exclamations at the sight of her portrait.

De Guiche colored violently. Very fortunatelyhis horsewhich was
slightly restiveenabled him by a sudden plunge to conceal his
agitation. "What portrait?" he murmuredjoining them again. The
chevalier had not taken his eyes off him.


Yes, the portrait. Was not the miniature a good likeness?

I do not remember. I had forgotten the portrait; it quite escaped my
recollection.

And yet it made a very marked impression upon you,said the chevalier.

That is not unlikely.

Is she witty, at all events?inquired the duke.

I believe so, my lord.

Is M. de Buckingham witty, too?said the chevalier.

I do not know.

My own opinion is that he must be,replied the chevalierfor he makes
Madame laugh, and she seems to take no little pleasure in his society,
which never happens to a clever woman when in the company of a simpleton.

Of course, then, he must be clever,said De Guichesimply.

At this moment Raoul opportunely arrivedseeing how De Guiche was
pressed by his dangerous questionerto whom he addressed a remarkand
in that way changed the conversation. The _entree_ was brilliant and
joyous.

The kingin honor of his brotherhad directed that the festivities
should be on a scale of the greatest possible magnificence. Madame and
her mother alighted at the Louvrewhereduring their exile they had so
gloomily submitted to obscuritymiseryand privations of every
description. That palacewhich had been so inhospitable a residence for
the unhappy daughter of Henry IV.the naked wallsthe uneven floorings
the ceilings matted with cobwebsthe vast dilapidated chimney-places
the cold hearths on which the charity extended to them by parliament
hardly permitted a fire to glowwas completely altered in appearance.
The richest hangings and the thickest carpetsglistening flagstonesand
pictureswith their richly gilded frames; in every direction could be
seen candelabramirrorsand furniture and fittings of the most
sumptuous character; in every directionalsowere guards of the
proudest military bearingwith floating plumescrowds of attendants and
courtiers in the ante-chambers and upon the staircases. In the
courtyardswhere the grass had formerly been allowed to luxuriateas if
the ungrateful Mazarin had thought it a good idea to let the Parisians
perceive the solitude and disorder werewith misery and despairthe fit
accompaniments of fallen monarchy; the immense courtyardsformerly
silent and desolatewere now thronged with courtiers whose horses were
pacing and prancing to and fro. The carriages were filled with young and
beautiful womenwho awaited the opportunity of salutingas she passed
the daughter of that daughter of France whoduring her widowhood and
exilehad sometimes gone without wood for her fireand bread for her
tablewhom the meanest attendant at the chateau had treated with
indifference and contempt. And sothe Madame Henriette once more
returned to the Louvrewith her heart more swollen with bitter
recollections than her daughter'swhose disposition was fickle and
forgetfulwith triumph and delight. She knew but too well this
brilliant reception was paid to the happy mother of a king restored to
his thronea throne second to none in Europewhile the worse than
indifferent reception she had before met with was paid to herthe
daughter of Henry IV.as a punishment for having been unfortunate.
After the princess had been installed in their apartments and had rested
the gentlemen who had formed their escorthavingin like manner
recovered from their fatiguethey resumed their accustomed habits and


occupations. Raoul began by setting off to see his fatherwho had left
for Blois. He then tried to see M. d'Artagnanwhohoweverbeing
engaged in the organization of a military household for the kingcould
not be found anywhere. Bragelonne next sought out De Guichebut the
count was occupied in a long conference with his tailors and with
Manicampwhich consumed his whole time. With the Duke of Buckingham he
fared still worsefor the duke was purchasing horses after horses
diamonds upon diamonds. He monopolized every embroidererjewelerand
tailor that Paris could boast of. Between De Guiche and himself a
vigorous contest ensuedinvariably a courteous onein whichin order
to insure successthe duke was ready to spend a million; while the
Marechal de Gramont had only allowed his son sixty thousand francs. So
Buckingham laughed and spent his money. Guiche groaned in despairand
would have shown it more violentlyhad it not been for the advice De
Bragelonne gave him.

A million!repeated De Guiche daily; "I must submit. Why will not the
marechal advance me a portion of my patrimony?"

Because you would throw it away,said Raoul.

What can that matter to him? If I am to die of it, I shall die of it,
and then I shall need nothing further.

But what need is there to die?said Raoul.

I do not wish to be conquered in elegance by an Englishman.

My dear count,said Manicampelegance is not a costly commodity, it
is only a very difficult accomplishment.

Yes, but difficult things cost a good deal of money, and I have only got
sixty thousand francs.

A very embarrassing state of things, truly,said De Wardes; "even if
you spent as much as Buckinghamthere is only nine hundred and forty
thousand francs difference."

Where am I to find them?

Get into debt.

I am in debt already.

A greater reason for getting further.

Advice like this resulted in De Guiche becoming excited to such an extent
that he committed extravagances where Buckingham only incurred expenses.
The rumor of this extravagant profuseness delighted the hearts of all the
shopkeepers in Paris; from the hotel of the Duke of Buckingham to that of
the Comte de Gramont nothing but miracles was attempted. While all this
was going onMadame was resting herselfand Bragelonne was engaged in
writing to Mademoiselle de la Valliere. He had already dispatched four
lettersand not an answer to any one of them had been receivedwhenon
the very morning fixed for the marriage ceremonywhich was to take place
in the chapel at the Palais RoyalRaoulwho was dressingheard his
valet announce M. de Malicorne. "What can this Malicorne want with me?"
thought Raoul; and then said to his valetLet him wait.

It is a gentleman from Blois,said the valet.

Admit him at once,said Raouleagerly.

Malicorne entered as brilliant as a starand wearing a superb sword at


his side. After having saluted Raoul most gracefullyhe said: "M. de
BragelonneI am the bearer of a thousand compliments from a lady to you."

Raoul colored. "From a lady said he, from a lady of Blois?"

Yes, monsieur; from Mademoiselle de Montalais.

Thank you, monsieur; I recollect you now,said Raoul. "And what does
Mademoiselle de Montalais require of me."
Malicorne drew four letters from his pocketwhich he offered to Raoul.


My own letters, is it possible?he saidturning pale; "my lettersand
the seals unbroken?"

Monsieur, your letters did not find at Blois the person to whom they
were addressed, and so they are now returned to you.

Mademoiselle de la Valliere has left Blois, then?exclaimed Raoul.

Eight days ago.
Where is she, then?


In Paris.
How is it known that these letters were from me?


Mademoiselle de Montalais recognized your handwriting and your seal,
said Malicorne.

Raoul colored and smiled. "Mademoiselle de Montalais is exceedingly
amiable he said; she is always kind and charming."

Always, monsieur.

Surely she could have given me some precise information about
Mademoiselle de la Valliere. I never could find her in this immense
city.

Malicorne drew another packet from his pocket. "You may possibly find in
this letter what you are anxious to learn."

Raoul hurriedly broke the seal. The writing was that of Mademoiselle
Aureand inclosed were these words: - "ParisPalais Royal. The day of
the nuptial blessing."

What does this mean?inquired Raoul of Malicorne; "you probably know?"

I do, monsieur.
For pity's sake, tell me, then.


Impossible, monsieur.
Why so?


Because Mademoiselle Aure has forbidden me to do so.


Raoul looked at his strange visitorand remained silent; - "At least
tell me whether it is fortunate or unfortunate."
That you will see.



You are very severe in your reservations.

Will you grant me one favor, monsieur?said Malicorne.

In exchange for that you refuse me?

Precisely.

What is it?

I have the greatest desire to see the ceremony, and I have no ticket to
admit me, in spite of all the steps I have taken to secure one. Could
you get me admitted?


Certainly.


Do me this kindness, then, I entreat.


Most willingly, monsieur; come with me.


I am exceedingly indebted to you, monsieur,said Malicorne.


I thought you were a friend of M. de Manicamp.


I am, monsieur; but this morning I was with him as he was dressing, and
I let a bottle of blacking fall over his new dress, and he flew at me
sword in hand, so that I was obliged to make my escape. That is the
reason I could not ask him for a ticket. He wanted to kill me.


I can well believe it,laughed Raoul. "I know Manicamp is capable of
killing a man who has been unfortunate enough to commit the crime you
have to reproach yourself withbut I will repair the mischief as far as
you are concerned. I will but fasten my cloakand shall then be ready
to serve younot only as a guidebut as your introducertoo."


Chapter XIV:
A Surprise for Raoul.


Madame's marriage was celebrated in the chapel of the Palais Royalin
the presence of a crowd of courtierswho had been most scrupulously
selected. Howevernotwithstanding the marked favor which an invitation
indicatedRaoulfaithful to his promise to Malicornewho was so
anxious to witness the ceremonyobtained admission for him. After he
had fulfilled this engagementRaoul approached De Guichewhoas if in
contrast with his magnificent costumeexhibited a countenance so utterly
dejectedthat the Duke of Buckingham was the only one present who could
contend with him as far as pallor and discomfiture were concerned.


Take care, count,said Raoulapproaching his friendand preparing to
support him at the moment the archbishop blessed the married couple. In
factthe Prince of Conde was attentively scrutinizing these two images
of desolationstanding like caryatides on either side of the nave of the
church. The countafter thatkept a more careful watch over himself.


At the termination of the ceremonythe king and queen passed onward
towards the grand reception-roomwhere Madame and her suite were to be
presented to them. It was remarked that the kingwho had seemed more
than surprised at his sister-in-law's appearancewas most flattering in
his compliments to her. Againit was remarked that the queen-mother
fixing a long and thoughtful gaze upon Buckinghamleaned towards Madame
de Motteville as though to ask herDo you not see how much he resembles
his father?and finally it was remarked that Monsieur watched everybody
and seemed quite discontented. After the reception of the princess and



ambassadorsMonsieur solicited the king's permission to present to him
as well as to Madame the persons belonging to their new household.

Are you aware, vicomte,inquired the Prince de Conde of Raoulwhether
the household has been selected by a person of taste, and whether there
are any faces worth looking at?

I have not the slightest idea, monseigneur,replied Raoul.

You affect ignorance, surely.

In what way, monseigneur?

You are a friend of De Guiche, who is one of the friends of the prince.

That may be so, monseigneur; but the matter having no interest whatever
for me, I have never questioned De Guiche on the subject; and De Guiche,
on his part, never having been questioned, did not communicate any
particulars to me.

But Manicamp?

It is true I saw Manicamp at Le Havre, and during the journey here, but
I was no more inquisitive with him than I had been towards De Guiche.
Besides, is it likely that Manicamp should know anything of such matters?
for he is a person of only secondary importance.

My dear vicomte, do you not know better than that?said the prince;
why, it is these persons of secondary importance, who, on such
occasions, have all the influence; and the truth is, that nearly
everything has been done through Manicamp's presentations to De Guiche,
and through De Guiche to Monsieur.

I assure you, monseigneur, I was ignorant of that,said Raouland
what your highness does me the honor to impart is perfectly new to me.

I will most readily believe you, although it seems incredible; besides
we shall not have long to wait. See, the flying squadron is advancing,
as good Queen Catherine used to say. Ah! ah! what pretty faces!

A bevy of young girls at this moment entered the _salon_conducted by
Madame de Navaillesand to Manicamp's credit be it saidif indeed he
had taken that part in their selection which the Prince de Conde assigned
himit was a display calculated to dazzle those wholike the prince
could appreciate every character and style of beauty. A youngfaircomplexioned
girlfrom twenty to one-and-twenty years of ageand whose
large blue eyes flashedas she opened themin the most dazzling manner
walked at the head of the band and was the first presented.

Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente,said Madame de Navailles to Monsieur
whoas he saluted his wiferepeated "Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente."

Ah! ah!said the Prince de Conde to Raoulshe is presentable enough.

Yes,said Raoulbut has she not a somewhat haughty style?

Bah! we know these airs very well, vicomte; three months hence she will
be tame enough. But look, there, indeed, is a pretty face.

Yes,said Raouland one I am acquainted with.

Mademoiselle Aure de Montalais,said Madame de Navailles. The name and
Christian name were carefully repeated by Monsieur.


Great heavens!exclaimed Raoulfixing his bewildered gaze upon the
entrance doorway.

What's the matter?inquired the prince; "was it Mademoiselle Aure de
Montalais who made you utter such a 'Great heavens'?"

No, monseigneur, no,replied Raoulpale and trembling.

Well, then, if it be not Mademoiselle Aure de Montalais, it is that
pretty _blonde_ who follows her. What beautiful eyes! She is rather
thin, but has fascinations without number.

Mademoiselle de la Baume le Blanc de la Valliere!said Madame de
Navailles; andas this name resounded through his whole beinga cloud
seemed to rise from his breast to his eyesso that he neither saw nor
heard anything more; and the princefinding him nothing more than a mere
echo which remained silent under his railleriesmoved forward to inspect
somewhat closer the beautiful girls whom his first glance had already
particularized.

Louise here! Louise a maid of honor to Madame!murmured Raouland his
eyeswhich did not suffice to satisfy his reasonwandered from Louise
to Montalais. The latter had already emancipated herself from her
assumed timiditywhich she only needed for the presentation and for her
reverences.

Mademoiselle de Montalaisfrom the corner of the room to which she had
retiredwas looking with no slight confidence at the different persons
present; andhaving discovered Raoulshe amused herself with the
profound astonishment which her own and her friend's presence there
caused the unhappy lover. Her waggish and malicious lookwhich Raoul
tried to avoid meetingand which yet he sought inquiringly from time to
timeplaced him on the rack. As for Louisewhether from natural
timidityor some other reason for which Raoul could not accountshe
kept her eyes constantly cast down; intimidateddazzledand with
impeded respirationshe withdrew herself as much as possible aside
unaffected even by the nudges Montalais gave her with her elbow. The
whole scene was a perfect enigma for Raoulthe key to which he would
have given anything to obtain. But no one was there who could assist
himnot even Malicorne; whoa little uneasy at finding himself in the
presence of so many persons of good birthand not a little discouraged
by Montalais's bantering glanceshad described a circleand by degrees
succeeded in getting a few paces from the princebehind the group of
maids of honorand nearly within reach of Mademoiselle Aure's voiceshe
being the planet around which heas her attendant satelliteseemed
constrained to gravitate. As he recovered his self-possessionRaoul
fancied he recognized voices on his right hand side that were familiar to
himand he perceived De WardesDe Guicheand the Chevalier de Lorraine
conversing together. It is true they were talking in tones so lowthat
the sound of their words could hardly be heard in the vast apartment. To
speak in that manner from any particular place without bending downor
turning roundor looking at the person with whom one may be engaged in
conversationis a talent that cannot be immediately acquired by
newcomers. Long study is needed for such conversationswhichwithout a
lookgestureor movement of the headseem like the conversation of a
group of statues. In factthe king's and queen's grand assemblies
while their majesties were speakingand while every one present seemed
to be listening in the midst of the most profound silencesome of these
noiseless conversations took placein which adulation was not the
prevailing feature. But Raoul was one among others exceedingly clever in
this artso much a matter of etiquettethat from the movement of the
lipshe was often able to guess the sense of the words.

Who is that Montalais?inquired De Wardesand that La Valliere? What


country-town have we had sent here?

Montalais?said the chevalier- "ohI know her; she is a good sort of
girlwhom we shall find amusing enough. La Valliere is a charming girl
slightly lame."

Ah! bah!said De Wardes.

Do not be absurd, De Wardes, there are some very characteristic and
ingenious Latin axioms about lame ladies.

Gentlemen, gentlemen,said De Guichelooking at Raoul with uneasiness
be a little careful, I entreat you.

But the uneasiness of the countin appearance at leastwas not needed.
Raoul had preserved the firmest and most indifferent countenance
although he had not lost a word that passed. He seemed to keep an
account of the insolence and license of the two speakers in order to
settle matters with them at the earliest opportunity.

De Wardes seemed to guess what was passing in his mindand continued:

Who are these young ladies' lovers?

Montalais's lover?said the chevalier.

Yes, Montalais first.

You, I, or De Guiche, - whoever likes, in fact.

And the other?

Mademoiselle de la Valliere?

Yes.

Take care, gentlemen,exclaimed De Guicheanxious to put a stop to the
chevalier's reply; "take careMadame is listening to us."

Raoul had thrust his hand up to the wrist into his _justaucorps_ in great
agitation. But the very malignity which he saw was excited against these
poor girls made him take a serious resolution. "Poor Louise he
thought, has come here only with an honorable object in viewand under
honorable protection; and I must learn what that object is which she has
in viewand who it is that protects her." And following Malicorne's
maneuverhe made his way toward the group of the maids of honor. The
presentations were soon over. The kingwho had done nothing but look at
and admire Madameshortly afterwards left the reception-room
accompanied by the two queens. The Chevalier de Lorraine resumed his
place beside Monsieurandas he accompanied himinsinuated a few drops
of the venom he had collected during the last hourwhile looking at some
of the faces in the courtand suspecting that some of their hearts might
be happy. A few of the persons present followed the king as he quitted
the apartment; but such of the courtiers as assumed an independence of
characterand professed a gallantry of dispositionbegan to approach
the ladies of the court. The prince paid his compliments to Mademoiselle
de Tonnay-CharenteBuckingham devoted himself to Madame Chalais and
Mademoiselle de Lafayettewhom Madame already distinguished by her
noticeand whom she held in high regard. As for the Comte de Guiche
who had abandoned Monsieur as soon as he could approach Madame alonehe
conversedwith great animationwith Madame de Valentinoisand with
Mademoiselle de Crequy and de Chatillon.

Amid these varied politicaland amorous interestsMalicorne was anxious


to gain Montalais's attention; but the latter preferred talking with
Raouleven if it were only to amuse herself with his innumerable
questions and his astonishment. Raoul had gone directly to Mademoiselle
de la Valliereand had saluted her with the profoundest respectat
which Louise blushedand could not say a word. Montalaishowever
hurried to her assistance.

Well, monsieur le vicomte, here we are, you see.

I do, indeed, see you,said Raoul smilingand it is exactly because
you are here that I wish to ask for some explanation.

Malicorne approached the group with his most fascinating smile.

Go away, Malicorne; really you are exceedingly indiscreet.At this
remark Malicorne bit his lips and retired a few stepswithout making any
reply. His smilehoweverchanged its expressionand from its former
franknessbecame mocking in its expression.

You wished for an explanation, M. Raoul?inquired Montalais.

It is surely worth one, I think; Mademoiselle de la Valliere is a maid
of honor to Madame!

Why should she not be a maid of honor, as well as myself?inquired
Montalais.

Pray accept my compliments, young ladies,said Raoulwho fancied he
perceived they were not disposed to answer him in a direct manner.

Your remark was not made in a very complimentary manner, vicomte.

Mine?

Certainly; I appeal to Louise.

M. de Bragelonne probably thinks the position is above my condition,
said Louisehesitatingly.

Assuredly not,replied Raouleagerlyyou know very well that such is
not my feeling; were you called upon to occupy a queen's throne, I should
not be surprised; how much greater reason, then, such a position as
this? The only circumstance that amazes me is, that I should have
learned it only to-day, and that by the merest accident.

That is true,replied Montalaiswith her usual giddiness; "you know
nothing about itand there is no reason you should. M. de Bragelonne
had written several letters to youbut your mother was the only person
who remained behind at Bloisand it was necessary to prevent these
letters from falling into her hands; I intercepted themand returned
them to M. Raoulso that he believed you were still at Blois while you
were here in Parisand had no idea whateverindeedhow high you had
risen in rank."

Did you not inform M. Raoul, as I begged you to do?

Why should I? to give him opportunity of making some of his severe
remarks and moral reflections, and to undo what we have had so much
trouble in effecting? Certainly not.

Am I so very severe, then?said Raoulinquiringly.

Besides,said Montalaisit is sufficient to say that it suited me. I
was about setting off for Paris - you were away; Louise was weeping her


eyes out; interpret that as you please; I begged a friend, a protector of
mine, who had obtained the appointment for me, to solicit one for Louise;
the appointment arrived. Louise left in order to get her costume
prepared; as I had my own ready, I remained behind; I received your
letters, and returned them to you, adding a few words, promising you a
surprise. Your surprise is before you, monsieur, and seems to be a fair
one enough; you have nothing more to ask. Come, M. Malicorne, it is now
time to leave these young people together: they have many things to talk
about; give me your hand; I trust that you appreciate the honor conferred
upon you, M. Malicorne.

Forgive me,said Raoularresting the giddy girland giving to his
voice an intonationthe gravity of which contrasted with that of
Montalais; "forgive mebut may I inquire the name of the protector you
speak of; for if protection be extended towards youMademoiselle de
Montalais- for whichindeedso many reasons exist added Raoul,
bowing, I do not see that the same reasons exist why Mademoiselle de la
Valliere should be similarly cared for."

But, M. Raoul,said Louiseinnocentlythere is no difference in the
matter, and I do not see why I should not tell it you myself; it was M.
Malicorne who obtained it for me.

Raoul remained for a moment almost stupefiedasking himself if they were
trifling with him; he then turned round to interrogate Malicornebut he
had been hurried away by Montalaisand was already at some distance from
them. Mademoiselle de la Valliere attempted to follow her friendbut
Raoulwith gentle authoritydetained her.

Louise, one word, I beg.

But, M. Raoul, said Louiseblushingwe are alone. Every one has
left. They will become anxious, and will be looking for us.

Fear nothing,said the young mansmilingwe are neither of us of
sufficient importance for our absence to be remarked.

But I have my duty to perform, M. Raoul.

Do not be alarmed, I am acquainted with these usages of the court; you
will not be on duty until to-morrow; a few minutes are at your disposal,
which will enable you to give me the information I am about to have the
honor to ask you for.

How serious you are, M. Raoul!said Louise.

Because the circumstances are serious. Are you listening?

I am listening; I would only repeat, monsieur, that we are quite alone.

You are right,said Raoulandoffering her his handhe led the young
girl into the gallery adjoining the reception-roomthe windows of which
looked out upon the courtyard. Every one hurried towards the middle
windowwhich had a balcony outsidefrom which all the details of the
slow and formal preparations for departure could be seen. Raoul opened
one of the side windowsand thenbeing alone with Louisesaid to her:
You know, Louise, that from my childhood I have regarded you as my
sister, as one who has been the confidante of all my troubles, to whom I
have entrusted all my hopes.

Yes, M. Raoul,she answered softly; "yesM. RaoulI know that."

You used, on your side, to show the same friendship towards me, and had
the same confidence in me; why have you not, on this occasion, been my


friend, - why have you shown suspicion of me?

Mademoiselle de la Valliere did not answer. "I fondly thought you loved
me said Raoul, whose voice became more and more agitated; I fondly
thought you consented to all the plans we hadtogetherlaid down for
our own happinessat the time when we wandered up and down the walks of
Cour-Chevernyunder the avenue of poplar trees leading to Blois. You do
not answer meLouise. Is it possible he inquired, breathing with
difficulty, that you no longer love me?"

I did not say so,replied Louisesoftly.

Oh! tell me the truth, I implore you. All my hopes in life are centered
in you. I chose you for your gentle and simple tastes. Do not suffer
yourself to be dazzled, Louise, now that you are in the midst of a court
where all that is pure too soon becomes corrupt - where all that is young
too soon grows old. Louise, close your ears, so as not to hear what may
be said; shut your eyes, so as not to see the examples before you; shut
your lips, that you may not inhale the corrupting influences about you.
Without falsehood or subterfuge, Louise, am I to believe what
Mademoiselle de Montalais stated? Louise, did you come to Paris because
I was no longer at Blois?

La Valliere blushed and concealed her face in her hands.

Yes, it was so, then!exclaimed Raouldelightedly; "that wasthen
your reason for coming here. I love you as I never yet loved you.
ThanksLouisefor this devotion; but measures must be taken to place
you beyond all insultto shield you from every lure. Louisea maid of
honorin the court of a young princess in these days of free manners and
inconstant affections - a maid of honor is placed as an object of attack
without having any means of defence afforded her; this state of things
cannot continue; you must be married in order to be respected."

Married?

Yes, here is my hand, Louise; will you place yours within it?

But your father?

My father leaves me perfectly free.

Yet -

I understand your scruples, Louise; I will consult my father.

Reflect, M. Raoul; wait.

Wait! it is impossible. Reflect, Louise, when _you_ are concerned! it
would be insulting, - give me your hand, dear Louise; I am my own
master. My father will consent, I know; give me your hand, do not
keep me waiting thus. One word in answer, one word only; if not, I shall
begin to think that, in order to change you forever, nothing more was
needed than a single step in the palace, a single breath of favor, a
smile from the queen, a look from the king.

Raoul had no sooner pronounced this latter wordthan La Valliere became
as pale as deathno doubt from fear at seeing the young man excite
himself. With a movement as rapid as thoughtshe placed both her hands
in those of Raouland then fledwithout adding a syllable; disappearing
without casting a look behind her. Raoul felt his whole frame tremble at
the contact of her hand; he received the compact as a solemn bargain
wrung by affection from her child-like timidity.


Chapter XV:
The Consent of Athos.


Raoul quitted the Palais Royal full of ideas that admitted no delay in
execution. He mounted his horse in the courtyardand followed the road
to Bloiswhile the marriage festivities of Monsieur and the princess of
England were being celebrated with exceeding animation by the courtiers
but to the despair of De Guiche and Buckingham. Raoul lost no time on
the roadand in sixteen hours he arrived at Blois. As he traveled
alonghe marshaled his arguments in the most becoming manner. Fever is
an argument that cannot be answeredand Raoul had an attack. Athos was
in his studymaking additions to his memoirswhen Raoul entered
accompanied by Grimaud. Keen-sighted and penetratinga mere glance at
his son told him that something extraordinary had befallen him.


You seem to come on a matter of importance,said he to Raoulafter he
had embraced himpointing to a seat.


Yes, monsieur,replied the young man; "and I entreat you to give me the
same kind attention that has never yet failed me."


Speak, Raoul.


I present the case to you, monsieur, free from all preface, for that
would be unworthy of you. Mademoiselle de la Valliere is in Paris as one
of Madame's maids of honor. I have pondered deeply on the matter; I love
Mademoiselle de la Valliere above everything; and it is not proper to
leave her in a position where her reputation, her virtue even, may be
assailed. It is my wish, therefore, to marry her, monsieur, and I have
come to solicit your consent to my marriage.


While this communication was being made to himAthos maintained the
profoundest silence and reserve. Raoulwho had begun his address with
an assumption of self-possessionfinished it by allowing a manifest
emotion to escape him at every word. Athos fixed upon Bragelonne a
searching lookovershadowed indeed by a slight sadness.


You have reflected well upon it?he inquired.


Yes, monsieur.


I believe you are already acquainted with my views respecting this
alliance?


Yes, monsieur,replied Raoulin a low tone of voice; "but you added
that if I persisted - "


You do persist, then?


Raoul stammered out an almost unintelligible assent.


Your passion,continued Athostranquillymust indeed be very great,
since, notwithstanding my dislike to this union, you persist in wanting
it.


Raoul passed his hand trembling across his forehead to remove the
perspiration that collected there. Athos looked at himand his heart
was touched by pity. He rose and said-


It is no matter. My own personal feelings are not to be taken into
consideration since yours are concerned; I am ready to give it. Tell me
what you want.



Your kind indulgence, first of all, monsieur,said Raoultaking hold
of his hand.

You have mistaken my feelings, Raoul, I have more than mere indulgence
for you in my heart.

Raoul kissed as devotedly as a lover could have done the hand he held in
his own.

Come, come,said AthosI am quite ready; what do you wish me to sign?

Nothing whatever, monsieur, only it would be very kind if you would take
the trouble to write to the king, to whom I belong, and solicit his
majesty's permission for me to marry Mademoiselle de la Valliere.

Well thought, Raoul! After, or rather before myself, you have a master
to consult, that master being the king; it is loyal in you to submit
yourself voluntarily to this double proof; I will grant your request
without delay, Raoul.

The count approached the windowand leaning outcalled to Grimaudwho
showed his head from an arbor covered with jasminewhich he was occupied
in trimming.

My horses, Grimaud,continued the count.

Why this order, monsieur?inquired Raoul.

We shall set off in a few hours.

Whither?

For Paris.

Paris, monsieur?

Is not the king at Paris?

Certainly.

Well, ought we not to go there?

Yes, monsieur,said Raoulalmost alarmed by this kind condescension.
I do not ask you to put yourself to such inconvenience, and a letter
merely -

You mistake my position, Raoul; it is not respectful that a simple
gentleman, such as I am, should write to his sovereign. I wish to speak,
I ought to speak, to the king, and I will do so. We will go together,
Raoul.

You overpower me with your kindness, monsieur.

How do you think his majesty is affected?

Towards me, monsieur?

Yes.

Excellently well disposed.

You _know_ that to be so?continued the count.

The king has himself told me so.


On what occasion?

Upon the recommendation of M. d'Artagnan, I believe, and on account of
an affair in the Place de Greve, when I had the honor to draw my sword in
the king's service. I have reason to believe that, vanity apart, I stand
well with his majesty.

So much the better.

But I entreat you, monsieur,pursued Raoulnot to maintain towards me
your present grave and serious manner. Do not make me bitterly regret
having listened to a feeling stronger than anything else.

That is the second time you have said so, Raoul; it was quite
unnecessary; you require my formal consent, and you have it. We need
talk no more on the subject, therefore. Come and see my new plantations,
Raoul.

The young man knew very wellthatafter the expression of his father's
wishno opportunity of discussion was left him. He bowed his headand
followed his father into the garden. Athos slowly pointed out to him the
graftsthe cuttingsand the avenues he was planting. This perfect
repose of manner disconcerted Raoul extremely; the affection with which
his own heart was filled seemed so great that the whole world could
hardly contain it. Howthencould his father's heart remain voidand
closed to its influence? Bragelonnethereforecollecting all his
couragesuddenly exclaimed


It is impossible, monsieur, you can have any reason to reject
Mademoiselle de la Valliere! In Heaven's name, she is so good, so gentle
and pure, that your mind, so perfect in its penetration, ought to
appreciate her accordingly. Does any secret repugnance, or any
hereditary dislike, exist between you and her family?

Look, Raoul, at that beautiful lily of the valley,said Athos; "observe
how the shade and the damp situation suit itparticularly the shadow
which that sycamore-tree casts over itso that the warmthand not the
blazing heat of the sunfilters through its leaves."

Raoul stoppedbit his lipsand thenwith the blood mantling in his
facehe saidcourageously- "One word of explanationI beg
monsieur. You cannot forget that your son is a man."

In that case,replied Athosdrawing himself up with sternnessprove
to me that you are a man, for you do not show yourself a son. I begged
you to wait the opportunity of forming an illustrious alliance. I would
have obtained a wife for you from the first ranks of the rich nobility.
I wish you to be distinguished by the splendor which glory and fortune
confer, for nobility of descent you have already.

Monsieur,exclaimed Raoulcarried away by a first impulse. "I was
reproached the other day for not knowing who my mother was."

Athos turned pale; thenknitting his brows like the greatest of all the
heathen deities: - "I am waiting to learn the reply you made he
demanded, in an imperious manner.

Forgive me! ohforgive me murmured the young man, sinking at once
from the lofty tone he had assumed.

What was your replymonsieur?" inquired the countstamping his feet
upon the ground.


Monsieur, my sword was in my hand immediately, my adversary placed
himself on guard, I struck his sword over the palisade, and threw him
after it.


Why did you suffer him to live?


The king has prohibited duelling, and, at the moment, I was an
ambassador of the king.


Very well,said Athosbut all the greater reason I should see his
majesty.


What do you intend to ask him?


Authority to draw my sword against the man who has inflicted this injury
upon me.


If I did not act as I ought to have done, I beg you to forgive me.


Did I reproach you, Raoul?


Still, the permission you are going to ask from the king?


I will implore his majesty to sign your marriage-contract, but on one
condition.


Are conditions necessary with me, monsieur? Command, and you shall be
obeyed.


On the condition, I repeat,continued Athos; "that you tell me the name
of the man who spoke of your mother in that way."


What need is there that you should know his name; the offense was
directed against myself, and the permission once obtained from his
majesty, to revenge it is my affair.


Tell me his name, monsieur.


I will not allow you to expose yourself.


Do you take me for a Don Diego? His name, I say.


You insist upon it?


I demand it.


The Vicomte de Wardes.


Very well,said AthostranquillyI know him. But our horses are
ready, I see; and, instead of delaying our departure for a couple of
hours, we will set off at once. Come, monsieur.


Chapter XVI:
Monsieur Becomes Jealous of the Duke of Buckingham.


While the Comte de la Fere was proceeding on his way to Pairs
accompanied by Raoulthe Palais Royal was the theatre wherein a scene of
what Moliere would have called excellent comedywas being performed.
Four days had elapsed since his marriageand Monsieurhaving
breakfasted very hurriedlypassed into his ante-chamberfrowning and
out of temper. The repast had not been over-agreeable. Madame had had
breakfast served in her own apartmentand Monsieur had breakfasted
almost alone; the Chevalier de Lorraine and Manicamp were the only



persons present at the mealwhich lasted three-quarters of an hour
without a single syllable having been uttered. Manicampwho was less
intimate with his royal highness than the Chevalier de Lorrainevainly
endeavored to detectfrom the expression of the prince's facewhat had
made him so ill-humored. The Chevalier de Lorrainewho had no occasion
to speculate about anythinginasmuch as he knew allate his breakfast
with that extraordinary appetite which the troubles of one's friends but
stimulatesand enjoyed at the same time both Monsieur's ill-humor and
the vexation of Manicamp. He seemed delightedwhile he went on eating
to detain a princewho was very impatient to movestill at table.
Monsieur at times repented the ascendency which he had permitted the
Chevalier de Lorraine to acquire over himand which exempted the latter
from any observance of etiquette towards him. Monsieur was now in one of
those moodsbut he dreaded as much as he liked the chevalierand
contented himself with nursing his anger without betraying it. Every now
and then Monsieur raised his eyes to the ceilingthen lowered them
towards the slices of _pate_ which the chevalier was attackingand
finallynot caring to betray the resentmenthe gesticulated in a manner
which Harlequin might have envied. At lasthoweverMonsieur could
control himself no longerand at the dessertrising from the table in
excessive wrathas we have relatedhe left the Chevalier de Lorraine to
finish his breakfast as he pleased. Seeing Monsieur rise from the table
Manicampnapkin in handrose also. Monsieur ran rather than walked
towards the ante-chamberwherenoticing an usher in attendancehe gave
him some directions in a low tone of voice. Thenturning back again
but avoiding passing through the breakfast apartmenthe crossed several
roomswith the intention of seeking the queen-mother in her oratory
where she usually remained.

It was about ten o'clock in the morning. Anne of Austria was engaged in
writing as Monsieur entered. The queen-mother was extremely attached to
her sonfor he was handsome in person and amiable in disposition. He
wasin factmore affectionateand it might bemore effeminate than
the king. He pleased his mother by those trifling sympathizing
attentions all women are glad to receive. Anne of Austriawho would
have been rejoiced to have had a daughteralmost found in thisher
favorite sonthe attentionssolicitudeand playful manners of a child
of twelve years of age. All the time he passed with his mother he
employed in admiring her armsin giving his opinion upon her cosmetics
and recipes for compounding essencesin which she was very particular;
and thentoohe kissed her hands and cheeks in the most childlike and
endearing mannerand had always some sweetmeats to offer heror some
new style of dress to recommend. Anne of Austria loved the kingor
rather the regal power in her eldest son; Louis XIV. represented
legitimacy by right divine. With the kingher character was that of the
queen-motherwith Philip she was simply the mother. The latter knew
thatof all placesa mother's heart is the most compassionate and
surest. When quite a child he always fled there for refuge when he and
his brother quarreledoftenafter having struck himwhich constituted
the crime of high treason on his partafter certain engagements with
hands and nailsin which the king and his rebellious subject indulged in
their night-dresses respecting the right to a disputed bedhaving their
servant Laporte as umpire- Philipconquerorbut terrified at victory
used to flee to his mother to obtain reinforcements from heror at least
the assurance of forgivenesswhich Louis XIV. granted with difficulty
and after an interval. Annefrom this habit of peaceable intervention
succeeded in arranging the disputes of her sonsand in sharingat the
same timeall their secrets. The kingsomewhat jealous of that
maternal solicitude which was bestowed particularly on his brotherfelt
disposed to show towards Anne of Austria more submission and attachment
than his character really dictated. Anne of Austria had adopted this
line of conduct especially towards the young queen. In this manner she
ruled with almost despotic sway over the royal householdand she was
already preparing her batteries to govern with the same absolute


authority the household of her second son. Anne experienced almost a
feeling of pride whenever she saw any one enter her apartment with woebegone
lookspale cheeksor red eyesgathering from appearances that
assistance was required either by the weakest or the most rebellious.
She was writingwe have saidwhen Monsieur entered her oratorynot
with red eyes or pale cheeksbut restlessout of temperand annoyed.
With an absent air he kissed his mother's handsand sat himself down
before receiving her permission to do so. Considering the strict rules
of etiquette established at the court of Anne of Austriathis
forgetfulness of customary civilities was a sign of preoccupation
especially on Philip's partwhoof his own accordobserved a respect
towards her of a somewhat exaggerated character. Ifthereforehe so
notoriously failed in this regardthere must be a serious cause for it.

What is the matter, Philip?inquired Anne of Austriaturning towards
her son.

A good many things,murmured the princein a doleful tone of voice.

You look like a man who has a great deal to do,said the queenlaying
down her pen. Philip frownedbut did not reply. "Among the various
subjects which occupy your mind said Anne of Austria, there must
surely be one that absorbs it more than others."

One has indeed occupied me more than any other.

Well, what is it? I am listening.

Philip opened his mouth as if to express all the troubles his mind was
filled withand which he seemed to be waiting only for an opportunity of
declaring. But he suddenly became silentand a sigh alone expressed all
that his heart was overflowing with.

Come, Philip, show a little firmness,said the queen-mother. "When one
has to complain of anythingit is generally an individual who is the
cause of it. Am I not right?"

I do not say no, madame.

Whom do you wish to speak about? Come, take courage.

In fact, madame, what I might possibly have to say must be kept a
profound secret; for when a lady is in the case -

Ah! you are speaking of Madame, then?inquired the queen-motherwith a
feeling of the liveliest curiosity.

Yes.

Well, then, if you wish to speak of Madame, do not hesitate to do so. I
am your mother, and she is no more than a stranger to me. Yet, as she is
my daughter-in-law, rest assured I shall be interested, even were it for
your own sake alone, in hearing all you may have to say about her.

Pray tell me, madame, in your turn, whether you have not remarked
something?

'Something'! Philip? Your words almost frighten me, from their want of
meaning. What do you mean by 'something?'

Madame is pretty, certainly.

No doubt of it.


Yet not altogether beautiful.

No, but as she grows older, she will probably become strikingly
beautiful. You must have remarked the change which a few years have
already made in her. Her beauty will improve more and more; she is now
only sixteen years of age. At fifteen I was, myself, very thin; but even
as she is at present, Madame is very pretty.

And consequently others have remarked it.

Undoubtedly, for a woman of ordinary rank is noticed - and with still
greater reason a princess.

She has been well brought up, I suppose?

Madame Henriette, her mother, is a woman somewhat cold in manner,
slightly pretentious, but full of noble thoughts. The princess's
education may have been neglected, but her principles, I believe, are
good. Such at least was the opinion I formed of her when she resided in
France; but she afterwards returned to England, and I am ignorant what
may have occurred there.

What do you mean?

Simply that there are some heads naturally giddy, which are easily
turned by prosperity.

That is the very word, madame. I think the princess rather giddy.

We must not exaggerate, Philip; she is clever and witty, and has a
certain amount of coquetry very natural in a young woman; but this defect
in persons of high rank and position, is a great advantage at a court. A
princess who is tinged with coquetry usually forms a brilliant court; her
smile stimulates luxury, arouses wit, and even courage; the nobles, too,
fight better for a prince whose wife is beautiful.

Thank you extremely, madame,said Philipwith some temper; "you really
have drawn some very alarming pictures for me."

In what respect?asked the queenwith pretended simplicity.

You know, madame,said Philipdolefullywhether I had or had not a
very great dislike to getting married.

Now, indeed, you alarm me. You have some serious cause of complaint
against Madame.

I do not precisely say it is serious.

In that case, then, throw aside your doleful looks. If you show
yourself to others in your present state, people will take you for a very
unhappy husband.

The fact is,replied PhilipI am not altogether satisfied as a
husband, and I shall not be sorry if others know it.

For shame, Philip.

Well, then, madame, I will tell you frankly that I do not understand the
life I am required to lead.

Explain yourself.

My wife does not seem to belong to me; she is always leaving me for some


reason or another. In the mornings there are visits, correspondences,
and toilettes; in the evenings, balls and concerts.

You are jealous, Philip.

I! Heaven forbid. Let others act the part of a jealous husband, not

I. But I _am_ annoyed.
All these things you reproach your wife with are perfectly innocent,
and, so long as you have nothing of greater importance -

Yet, listen; without being very blamable, a woman can excite a good deal
of uneasiness. Certain visitors may be received, certain preferences
shown, which expose young women to remark, and which are enough to drive
out of their senses even those husbands who are least disposed to be
jealous.

Ah! now we are coming to the real point at last, and not without some
difficulty. You speak of frequent visits, and certain preferences - very
good; for the last hour we have been beating about the bush, and at last
you have broached the true question.

Well then, yes

This is more serious than I thought. It is possible, then, that Madame
can have given you grounds for these complaints against her?

Precisely so.

What, your wife, married only four days ago, prefers some other person
to yourself? Take care, Philip, you exaggerate your grievances; in
wishing to prove everything, you prove nothing.

The princebewildered by his mother's serious mannerwished to reply
but he could only stammer out some unintelligible words.

You draw back, then?said Anne of Austria. "I prefer thatas it is an
acknowledgement of your mistake."

No!exclaimed PhilipI do not draw back, and I will prove all I
asserted. I spoke of preference and of visits, did I not? Well, listen.

Anne of Austria prepared herself to listenwith that love of gossip
which the best woman living and the best motherwere she a queen even
always finds in being mixed up with the petty squabbles of a household.

Well,said Philiptell me one thing.

What is that?

Why does my wife retain an English court about her?said Philipas he
crossed his arms and looked his mother steadily in the faceas if he
were convinced that she could not answer the question.

For a very simple reason,returned Anne of Austria; "because the
English are her countrymenbecause they have expended large sums in
order to accompany her to Franceand because it would hardly be polite
not politiccertainly - to dismiss abruptly those members of the English
nobility who have not shrunk from any devotion or sacrifice."

A wonderful sacrifice indeed,returned Philipto desert a wretched
country to come to a beautiful one, where a greater effect can be
produced for a guinea that can be procured elsewhere for four!
Extraordinary devotion, really, to travel a hundred leagues in company


with a woman one is in love with!

In love, Philip! think what you are saying. Who is in love with Madame?

The Duke of Buckingham. Perhaps you will defend him, too?

Anne of Austria blushed and smiled at the same time. The name of the
Duke of Buckingham recalled certain recollections of a very tender and
melancholy nature. "The Duke of Buckingham?" she murmured.

Yes; one of those arm-chair soldiers -

The Buckinghams are loyal and brave,said Anne of Austriacourageously.

This is too bad; my own mother takes the part of my wife's lover against
me,exclaimed Philipincensed to such an extent that his weak
organization was affected almost to tears.

Philip, my son,exclaimed Anne of Austriasuch an expression is
unworthy of you. Your wife has no lover; and, had she one, it would not
be the Duke of Buckingham. The members of that family, I repeat, are
loyal and discreet, and the rights of hospitality are sure to be
respected by them.

The Duke of Buckingham is an Englishman, madame,said Philipand may
I ask if the English so very religiously respect what belongs to princes
of France?

Anne blushed a second timeand turned aside under the pretext of taking
her pen from her desk againbut in reality to conceal her confusion from
her son. "ReallyPhilip she said, you seem to discover expressions
for the purpose of embarrassing meand your anger blinds you while it
alarms me; reflect a little."

There is no need for reflection, madame. I can see with my own eyes.

Well, and what do you see?

That Buckingham never quits my wife. He presumes to make presents to
her, and she ventures to accept them. Yesterday she was talking about
_sauchets a la violette_; well, our French perfumers, you know very well,
madame, for you have over and over again asked for it without success
our French perfumers, I say, have never been able to procure this scent.
The duke, however, wore about him a _sachet a la violette_, and I am sure
that the one my wife has came from him.

Indeed, monsieur,said Anne of Austriayou build your pyramids on
needle points; be careful. What harm, I ask you, can there be in a man
giving to his countrywoman a recipe for a new essence? These strange
ideas, I protest, painfully recall your father to me; he who so
frequently and so unjustly made me suffer.

The Duke of Buckingham's father was probably more reserved and more
respectful than his son,said Philipthoughtlesslynot perceiving how
deeply he had wounded his mother's feelings. The queen turned paleand
pressed her clenched hands upon her bosom; butrecovering herself
immediatelyshe said You came here with some intention or another, I
suppose?

Certainly.

What was it?

I came, madame, intending to complain energetically, and to inform you


that I will not submit to such behavior from the Duke of Buckingham.

What do you intend to do, then?

I shall complain to the king.

And what do you expect the king to reply?

Very well, then,said Monsieurwith an expression of stern
determination on his countenancewhich offered a singular contrast to
its usual gentleness. "Very well. I will right myself!"

What do you call righting yourself?inquired Anne of Austriain alarm.

I will have the Duke of Buckingham quit the princess, I will have him
quit France, and I will see that my wishes are intimated to him.

You will intimate nothing of the kind, Philip,said the queenfor if
you act in that manner, and violate hospitality to that extent, I will
invoke the severity of the king against you.

Do you threaten me, madame?exclaimed Philipalmost in tears; "do you
threaten me in the midst of my complaints?"

I do not threaten you; I do but place an obstacle in the path of your
hasty anger. I maintain, that, to adopt towards the Duke of Buckingham,
or any other Englishman, any rigorous measure - to take even a
discourteous step towards him, would be to plunge France and England into
the most disastrous disagreement. Can it be possible that a prince of
the blood, the brother of the king of France, does not know how to hide
an injury, even did it exist in reality, where political necessity
requires it?Philip made a movement. "Besides continued the queen,
the injury is neither true nor possibleand it is merely a matter of
silly jealousy."

Madame, I know what I know.

Whatever you may know, I can only advise you to be patient.

I am not patient by disposition, madame.

The queen rosefull of severityand with an icy ceremonious manner.
Explain what you really require, monsieur,she said.

I do not require anything, madame; I simply express what I desire. If
the Duke of Buckingham does not, of his own accord, discontinue his
visits to my apartments I shall forbid him entrance.

That is a point you will refer to the king,said Anne of Austriaher
heart swelling as she spokeand her voice trembling with emotion.

But, madame,exclaimed Philipstriking his hands togetheract as my
mother and not as the queen, since I speak to you as a son; it is simply
a matter of a few minutes' conversation between the duke and myself.

It is that very conversation I forbid,said the queenresuming her
authoritybecause it is unworthy of you.

Be it so; I will not appear in the matter, but I shall intimate my will
to Madame.

Oh!said the queen-motherwith a melancholy arising from reflection
never tyrannize over a wife - never behave too haughtily or imperiously
towards your own. A woman unwillingly convinced, is unconvinced.


What is to be done, then? - I will consult my friends about it.

Yes, your double-dealing advisers, your Chevalier de Lorraine - your De
Wardes. Intrust the conduct of this affair to me. You wish the Duke of
Buckingham to leave, do you not?

As soon as possible, madame.

Send the duke to me, then; smile upon your wife, behave to her, to the
king, to every one, as usual. But follow no advice but mine. Alas! I
too well know what any household comes to, that is troubled by advisers.

You shall be obeyed, madame.

And you will be satisfied at the result. Send the duke to me.

That will not be difficult.

Where do you suppose him to be?

At my wife's door, whose _levee_ he is probably awaiting.

Very well,said Anne of Austriacalmly. "Be good enough to tell the
duke that I shall be charmed if he will pay me a visit."

Philip kissed his mother's handand started off to find the Duke of
Buckingham.

Chapter XVII:
Forever!

The Duke of Buckinghamobedient to the queen-mother's invitation
presented himself in her apartments half an hour after the departure of
the Duc d'Orleans. When his name was announced by the gentleman-usher in
attendancethe queenwho was sitting with her elbow resting on a table
and her head buried in her handsroseand smilingly received the
graceful and respectful salutation which the duke addressed to her. Anne
of Austria was still beautiful. It is well known that at her then
somewhat advanced ageher long auburn hairperfectly formed handsand
bright ruby lipswere still the admiration of all who saw her. On the
present occasionabandoned entirely to a remembrance which evoked all
the past in her heartshe looked almost as beautiful as in the days of
her youthwhen her palace was open to the visits of the Duke of
Buckingham's fatherthen a young and impassioned manas well as an
unfortunate princewho lived for her aloneand died with her name upon
his lips. Anne of Austria fixed upon Buckingham a look so tender in its
expressionthat it denotednot alone the indulgence of maternal
affectionbut a gentleness of expression like the coquetry of a woman
who loves.

Your majesty,said Buckinghamrespectfullydesired to speak to me.

Yes, duke,said the queenin English; "will you be good enough to sit
down?"

The favor which Anne of Austria thus extended to the young manand the
welcome sound of the language of a country from which the duke had been
estranged since his stay in Francedeeply affected him. He immediately
conjectured that the queen had a request to make of him. After having
abandoned the first few moments to the irrepressible emotions she
experiencedthe queen resumed the smiling air with which she had
received him. "What do you think of France?" she saidin French.


It is a lovely country, madame,replied the duke.

Had you ever seen it before?

Once only, madame.

But, like all true Englishmen, you prefer England?

I prefer my own native land to France,replied the duke; "but if your
majesty were to ask me which of the two citiesLondon or PairsI should
prefer as a residenceI should be forced to answer Paris."

Anne of Austria observed the ardent manner with which these words had
been pronounced. "I am toldmy lordyou have rich possessions in your
own countryand that you live in a splendid and time-honored place."

It was my father's residence,replied Buckinghamcasting down his eyes.

Those are indeed great advantages and _souvenirs_,replied the queen
alludingin spite of herselfto recollections from which it is
impossible voluntarily to detach one's self.

In fact,said the dukeyielding to the melancholy influence of this
opening conversationsensitive persons live as much in the past or the
future, as in the present.

That is very true,said the queenin a low tone of voice. "It
followsthenmy lord she added, that youwho are a man of feeling
will soon quit France in order to shut yourself up with your wealth and
your relics of the past."

Buckingham raised his head and saidI think not, madame.

What do you mean?

On the contrary, I think of leaving England in order to take up my
residence in France.

It was now Anne of Austria's turn to exhibit surprise. "Why?" she said.
Are you not in favor with the new king?

Perfectly so, madame, for his majesty's kindness to me is unbounded.

It cannot,said the queenbe because your fortune has diminished, for
it is said to be enormous.

My income, madame, has never been so large.

There is some secret cause, then?

No, madame,said Buckinghameagerlythere is nothing secret in my
reason for this determination. I prefer residence in France; I like a
court so distinguished by its refinement and courtesy; I like the
amusements, somewhat serious in their nature, which are not the
amusements of my own country, and which are met with in France.

Anne of Austria smiled shrewdly. "Amusements of a serious nature?" she
said. "Has your Grace well reflected on their seriousness?" The duke
hesitated. "There is no amusement so serious continued the queen, as
to prevent a man of your rank - "

Your majesty seems to insist greatly on that point,interrupted the
duke.


Do you think so, my lord?

If you will forgive me for saying so, it is the second time you have
vaunted the attractions of England at the expense of the delight which
all experience who live in France.

Anne of Austria approached the young manand placing her beautiful hand
upon his shoulderwhich trembled at the touchsaidBelieve me,
monsieur, nothing can equal a residence in one's own native country. I
have very frequently had occasion to regret Spain. I have lived long, my
lord, very long for a woman, and I confess to you, that not a year has
passed I have not regretted Spain.

Not one year, madame?said the young duke coldly. "Not one of those
years when you reigned Queen of Beauty - as you still areindeed?"

A truce to flattery, duke, for I am old enough to be your mother.She
emphasized these latter words in a mannerand with a gentlenesswhich
penetrated Buckingham's heart. "Yes she said, I am old enough to be
your mother; and for this reasonI will give you a word of advice."

That advice being that I should return to London?he exclaimed.

Yes, my lord.

The duke clasped his hands with a terrified gesturewhich could not fail
of its effect upon the queenalready disposed to softer feelings by the
tenderness of her own recollections. "It must be so added the queen.

What!" he again exclaimedam I seriously told that I must leave, -
that I must exile myself, - that I am to flee at once?

Exile yourself, did you say? One would fancy France was your native
country.

Madame, the country of those who love is the country of those whom they
love.

Not another word, my lord; you forget whom you are addressing.

Buckingham threw himself on his knees. "Madameyou are the source of
intelligenceof goodnessand of compassion; you are the first person in
this kingdomnot only by your rankbut the first person in the world on
account of your angelic attributes. I have said nothingmadame. Have
Iindeedsaid anything you should answer with such a cruel remark?
What have I betrayed?"

You have betrayed yourself,said the queenin a low tone of voice.

I have said nothing, - I know nothing.

You forget you have spoken and thought in the presence of a woman; and
besides -

Besides,said the dukeno one knows you are listening to me.

On the contrary, it is known; you have all the defects and all the
qualities of youth.

I have been betrayed or denounced, then?

By whom?


By those who, at Le Havre, had, with infernal perspicacity, read my
heart like an open book.

I do not know whom you mean.

M. de Bragelonne, for instance.

I know the name without being acquainted with the person to whom it
belongs. M. de Bragelonne has said nothing.

Who can it be, then? If any one, madame, had had the boldness to notice
in me that which I do not myself wish to behold -

What would you do, duke?

There are secrets which kill those who discover them.

He, then, who has discovered your secret, madman that you are, still
lives; and, what is more, you will not slay him, for he is armed on all
sides, - he is a husband, a jealous man, - he is the second gentleman in
France, - he is my son, the Duc du Orleans.

The duke turned pale as death. "You are very cruelmadame he said.

You seeBuckingham said Anne of Austria, sadly, how you pass from
one extreme to anotherand fight with shadowswhen it would seem so
easy to remain at peace with yourself."

If we fight, madame, we die on the field of battle,replied the young
mangentlyabandoning himself to the most gloomy depression.

Anne ran towards him and took him by the hand. "Villiers she said, in
English, with a vehemence of tone which nothing could resist, what is it
you ask? Do you ask a mother to sacrifice her son- a queen to consent
to the dishonor of her house? Child that you aredo not dream of it.
What! in order to spare your tears am I to commit these crimes?
Villiers! you speak of the dead; the deadat leastwere full of respect
and submission; they resigned themselves to an order of exile; they
carried their despair away with them in their heartslike a priceless
possessionbecause the despair was caused by the woman they lovedand
because deaththus deceptivewas like a gift of a favor conferred upon
them."

Buckingham rosehis features distortedand his hands pressed against
his heart. "You are rightmadame he said, but those of whom you
speak had received their order of exile from the lips of the one whom
they loved; they were not driven away; they were entreated to leaveand
were not laughed at."

No,murmured Anne of Austriathey were not forgotten. But who says
you are driven away, or that you are exiled? Who says that your devotion
will not be remembered? I do not speak on any one's behalf but my own,
when I tell you to leave. Do me this kindness, - grant me this favor;
let me, for this also, be indebted to one of your name.

It is for your sake, then, madame?

For mine alone.

No one whom I shall leave behind me will venture to mock, - no prince
even who shall say, 'I required it.'

Listen to me, duke,and hereupon the dignified features of the queen
assumed a solemn expression. "I swear to you that no one commands in


this matter but myself. I swear to you thatnot only shall no one
either laugh or boast in any waybut no one even shall fail in the
respect due to your rank. Rely upon medukeas I rely upon you."

You do not explain yourself, madame; my heart is full of bitterness, and
I am in utter despair; no consolation, however gentle and affectionate,
can afford me relief.

Do you remember your mother, duke?replied the queenwith a winning
smile.

Very slightly, madame; yet I remember how she used to cover me with her
caresses and her tears whenever I wept.

Villiers,murmured the queenpassing her arm round the young man's
necklook upon me as your mother, and believe that no one shall ever
make my son weep.

I thank you, madame,said the young man affected and almost suffocated
by his emotion; "I feel there is still room in my heart for a gentler and
nobler sentiment than love."

The queen-mother looked at him and pressed his hand. "Go she said.

When must I leave? Command me."

At any time that may suit you, my lord,resumed the queen; "you will
choose your own day of departure. Insteadhoweverof setting off today
as you would doubtless wish to door to-morrowas others may have
expectedleave the day after to-morrowin the evening; but announce today
that it is your wish to leave."

My wish?murmured the young duke.

Yes, duke.

And shall I never return to France?

Anne of Austria reflected for a momentseemingly absorbed in sad and
serious thought. "It would be a consolation for me she said, if you
were to return on the day when I shall be carried to my final restingplace
at Saint-Dennis beside the kingmy husband."

Madame, you are goodness itself; the tide of prosperity is setting in on
you; your cup brims over with happiness, and many long years are yet
before you.

In that case you will not come for some time, then,said the queen
endeavoring to smile.

I shall not return,said Buckinghamyoung as I am. Death does not
reckon by years; it is impartial; some die young, some reach old age.

I will not harbor any sorrowful ideas, duke. Let me comfort you; return
in two years. I perceive from your face that the very idea which saddens
you so much now, will have disappeared before six months have passed, and
will be not only dead but forgotten in the period of absence I have
assigned you.

I think you judged me better a little while ago, madame,replied the
young manwhen you said that time is powerless against members of the
family of Buckingham.

Silence,said the queenkissing the duke upon the forehead with an


affection she could not restrain. "Gogo; spare me and forget yourself
no longer. I am the queen; you are the subject of the king of England;
King Charles awaits your return. AdieuVilliers- farewell."


Forever!replied the young manand he fledendeavoring to master his
emotions.


Anne leaned her head upon her handsand then looking at herself in the
glassmurmuredIt has been truly said, that a woman who has truly
loved is always young, and that the bloom of the girl of twenty years
ever lies concealed in some secret cloister of the heart.


Transcriber's note: In the three-volume editionVolume 1entitled The
Vicomte de Bragelonneends here. - JB


Chapter XVIII:
King Louis XIV. does not think Mademoiselle de la Valliere either rich
enough or pretty enough for a Gentleman of the Rank of the Vicomte de
Bragelonne.


Raoul and the Comte de la Fere reached Paris the evening of the same day
on which Buckingham had held the conversation with the queen-mother. The
count had scarcely arrivedwhenthrough Raoulhe solicited an audience
of the king. His majesty had passed a portion of the morning in looking
overwith madame and the ladies of the courtvarious goods of Lyons
manufactureof which he had made his sister-in-law a present. A court
dinner had succeededthen cardsand afterwardsaccording to his usual
customthe kingleaving the card-tables at eight o'clockpassed into
his cabinet in order to work with M. Colbert and M. Fouquet. Raoul
entered the ante-chamber at the very moment the two ministers quitted it
and the kingperceiving him through the half-closed doorsaidWhat do
you want, M. de Bragelonne?


The young man approached: "An audiencesire he replied, for the Comte
de la Ferewho has just arrived from Bloisand is most anxious to have
an interview with your majesty."


I have an hour to spare between cards and supper,said the king. "Is
the Comte de la Fere at hand?"


He is below, and awaits your majesty's permission.


Let him come up at once,said the kingand five minutes afterwards
Athos entered the presence of Louis XIV. He was received by the king
with that gracious kindness of manner which Louiswith a tact beyond his
yearsreserved for the purpose of gaining those who were not to be
conquered by ordinary favors. "Let me hopecomte said the king, that
you have come to ask me for something."


I will not conceal from your majesty,replied the comtethat I am
indeed come for that purpose.


That is well,said the kingjoyously.


It is not for myself, sire.


So much the worse; but, at least, I will do for your _protege_ what you
refuse to permit me to do for you.


Your majesty encourages me. I have come to speak on behalf of the
Vicomte de Bragelonne.



It is the same as if you spoke on your own behalf, comte.

Not altogether so, sire. I am desirous of obtaining from your majesty
that which I cannot ask for myself. The vicomte thinks of marrying.

He is still very young; but that does not matter. He is an eminently
distinguished man; I will choose a wife for him.

He has already chosen one, sire, and only awaits your consent.

It is only a question, then, of signing the marriage-contract?Athos
bowed. "Has he chose a wife whose fortune and position accord with your
own anticipation?"

Athos hesitated for a moment. "His affirmed wife is of good birthbut
has no fortune."

That is a misfortune we can remedy.

You overwhelm me with gratitude, sire; but your majesty will permit me
to offer a remark?
Do so, comte.


Your majesty seems to intimate an intention of giving a marriage-portion
to this young lady.

Certainly.

I should regret, sire, if the step I have taken towards your majesty
should be attended by this result.

No false delicacy, comte; what is the bride's name?
Mademoiselle de la Baume le Blanc de la Valliere,said Athoscoldly.


I seem to know that name,said the kingas if reflecting; "there was a
Marquis de la Valliere."

Yes, sire, it is his daughter.

But he died, and his widow married again M. de Saint-Remy, I think,
steward of the dowager Madame's household.

Your majesty is correctly informed.

More than that, the young lady has lately become one of the princess's
maids of honor.

Your majesty is better acquainted with her history than am I.

The king again reflectedand glancing at the comte's anxious
countenancesaid: "The young lady does not seem to me to be very pretty
comte."

I am not quite sure,replied Athos.

I have seen her, but she hardly struck me as being so.
She seems to be a good and modest girl, but has little beauty, sire.


Beautiful fair hair, however.
I think so.



And her blue eyes are tolerably good.

Yes, sire.

With regard to her beauty, then, the match is but an ordinary one. Now
for the money side of the question.

Fifteen to twenty thousand francs dowry at the very outset, sire; the
lovers are disinterested enough; for myself, I care little for money.

For superfluity, you mean; but a needful amount is of importance. With
fifteen thousand francs, without landed property, a woman cannot live at
court. We will make up the deficiency; I will do it for De Bragelonne.
The king again remarked the coldness with which Athos received the remark.

Let us pass from the question of money to that of rank,said Louis
XIV.; "the daughter of the Marquis de la Vallierethat is well enough;
but there is that excellent Saint-Remywho somewhat damages the credit
of the family; and youcomteare rather particularI believeabout
your own family."

Sire, I no longer hold to anything but my devotion to your majesty.

The king again paused. "A momentcomte. You have surprised me in no
little degree from the beginning of your conversation. You came to ask
me to authorize a marriageand you seem greatly disturbed in having to
make the request. Naypardon mecomtebut I am rarely deceivedyoung
as I am; for while with some persons I place my friendship at the
disposal of my understandingwith others I call my distrust to my aid
by which my discernment is increased. I repeatthat you do not prefer
your request as though you wished it success."

Well, sire, that is true.

I do not understand you, then; refuse.

Nay, sire; I love De Bragelonne with my whole heart; he is smitten with
Mademoiselle de la Valliere, he weaves dreams of bliss for the future; I
am not one who is willing to destroy the illusions of youth. This
marriage is objectionable to me, but I implore your majesty to consent to
it forthwith, and thus make Raoul happy.

Tell me, comte, is she in love with him?

If your majesty requires me to speak candidly, I do not believe in
Mademoiselle de la Valliere's affection; the delight at being at court,
the honor of being in the service of Madame, counteract in her head
whatever affection she may happen to have in her heart; it is a marriage
similar to many others which already exist at court; but De Bragelonne
wishes it, and so let it be.

And yet you do not resemble those easy-tempered fathers who volunteer as
stepping-stones for their children,said the king.

I am determined enough against the viciously disposed, but not so
against men of upright character. Raoul is suffering; he is in great
distress of mind; his disposition, naturally light and cheerful, has
become gloomy and melancholy. I do not wish to deprive your majesty of
the services he may be able to render.

I understand you,said the king; "and what is moreI understand your
hearttoocomte."


There is no occasion, therefore,replied the comteto tell your
majesty that my object is to make these children, or rather Raoul, happy.

And I, too, as much as yourself, comte, wish to secure M. de
Bragelonne's happiness.

I only await your majesty's signature. Raoul will have the honor of
presenting himself before your majesty to receive your consent.

You are mistaken, comte,said the kingfirmly; "I have just said that
I desire to secure M. de Bragelonne's happinessand from the present
momentthereforeI oppose his marriage."

But, sire,exclaimed Athosyour majesty has promised!

Not so, comte, I did not promise you, for it is opposed to my own views.

I appreciate your majesty's considerate and generous intentions on my
behalf; but I take the liberty of recalling to you that I undertook to
approach you as an ambassador.

An ambassador, comte, frequently asks, but does not always obtain what
he asks.

But, sire, it will be such a blow for De Bragelonne.

My hand shall deal the blow; I will speak to the vicomte.

Love, sire, is overwhelming in its might.

Love can be resisted, comte. I myself can assure you of that.

When one has the soul of a king, - your own, for instance, sire.

Do not make yourself uneasy on the subject. I have certain views for De
Bragelonne. I do not say that he shall not marry Mademoiselle de la
Valliere, but I do not wish him to marry so young; I do not wish him to
marry her until she has acquired a fortune; and he, on his side, no less
deserves favor, such as I wish to confer upon him. In a word, comte, I
wish them to wait.

Yet once more, sire.

Comte, you told me you came here to request a favor.

Assuredly, sire.

Grant me one, then, instead; let us speak no longer upon this matter.
It is probable that, before long, war may be declared. I require men
about me who are unfettered. I should hesitate to send under fire a
married man, or a father of a family. I should hesitate also, on De
Bragelonne's account, to endow with a fortune, without some sound reason
for it, a young girl, a perfect stranger; such an act would sow jealousy
amongst my nobility.Athos bowedand remained silent.

Is that all you wished to ask me?added Louis XIV.

Absolutely all, sire; and I take my leave of your majesty. Is it,
however, necessary that I should inform Raoul?

Spare yourself the trouble and annoyance. Tell the vicomte that at my
_levee_ to-morrow morning I will speak to him. I shall expect you this
evening, comte, to join my card-table.


I am in traveling-costume, sire.

A day will come, I hope, when you will leave me no more. Before long,
comte, the monarchy will be established in such a manner as to enable me
to offer a worthy hospitality to men of your merit.

Provided, sire, a monarch reigns grandly in the hearts of his subjects,
the palace he inhabits matters little, since he is worshipped in a
temple.With these words Athos left the cabinetand found De
Bragelonnewho was awaiting him anxiously.

Well, monsieur?said the young man.

The king, Raoul, is well intentioned towards us both; not, perhaps, in
the sense you suppose, but he is kind, and generously disposed to our
house.

You have bad news to communicate to me, monsieur,said the young man
turning very pale.

The king himself will inform you to-morrow morning that it is not bad
news.

The king has not signed, however?

The king wishes himself to settle the terms of the contract, and he
desires to make it so grand that he requires time for consideration.
Throw the blame rather on your own impatience, than on the king's good
feelings towards you.

Raoulin utter consternationon account of his knowledge of the count's
frankness as well as his diplomacyremained plunged in dull and gloomy
stupor.

Will you not go with me to my lodgings?said Athos.

I beg your pardon, monsieur; I will follow you,he stammered out
following Athos down the staircase.

Since I am here,said Athossuddenlycannot I see M. d'Artagnan?

Shall I show you his apartments?said De Bragelonne.

Do so.

They are on the opposite staircase.

They altered their coursebut on reaching the landing of the grand
staircaseRaoul perceived a servant in the Comte de Guiche's liverywho
ran towards him as soon as he heard his voice.

What is it?said Raoul.

This note, monsieur. My master heard of your return and wrote to you
without delay; I have been looking for you for the last half-hour.

Raoul approached Athos as he unsealed the lettersayingWith your
permission, monsieur.

Certainly.

Dear Raoul,wrote the Comte de GuicheI have an affair in hand which
requires immediate attention; I know you have returned; come to me as
soon as possible.


Hardly had he finished reading itwhen a servant in the livery of the
Duke of Buckinghamturning out of the galleryrecognized Raouland
approached him respectfullysayingFrom his Grace, monsieur.


Well, Raoul, as I see you are already as busy as a general of an army, I
shall leave you, and will find M. d'Artagnan myself.


You will excuse me, I trust,said Raoul.


Yes, yes, I excuse you; adieu, Raoul; you will find me at my apartments
until to-morrow; during the day I may set out for Blois, unless I have
orders to the contrary.


I shall present my respects to you to-morrow, monsieur.


As soon as Athos had leftRaoul opened Buckingham's letter.


Monsieur de Bragelonne,it ranYou are, of all the Frenchmen I have
known, the one with whom I am most pleased; I am about to put your
friendship to the proof. I have received a certain message, written in
very good French. As I am an Englishman, I am afraid of not
comprehending it very clearly. The letter has a good name attached to
it, and that is all I can tell you. Will you be good enough to come and
see me? for I am told you have arrived from Blois.


Your devoted
VILLIERS, Duke of Buckingham.


I am going now to see your master,said Raoul to De Guiche's servant
as he dismissed him; "and I shall be with the Duke of Buckingham in an
hour he added, dismissing with these words the duke's messenger.


Chapter XIX:
Sword-Thrusts in the Water.


Raoul, on betaking himself to De Guiche, found him conversing with De
Wardes and Manicamp. De Wardes, since the affair of the barricade, had
treated Raoul as a stranger; they behaved as if they were not
acquainted. As Raoul entered, De Guiche walked up to him; and Raoul, as
he grasped his friend's hand, glanced rapidly at his two companions,
hoping to be able to read on their faces what was passing in their
minds. De Wardes was cold and impenetrable; Manicamp seemed absorbed in
the contemplation of some trimming to his dress. De Guiche led Raoul to
an adjoining cabinet, and made him sit down, saying, How well you look!"


That is singular,replied Raoulfor I am far from being in good
spirits.


It is your case, then, Raoul, as it is my own, - our love affairs do not
progress.


So much the better, count, as far as _you_ are concerned; the worst news
would be good news.


In that case do not distress yourself, for, not only am I very unhappy,
but, what is more, I see others about me who are happy.


Really, I do not understand you,replied Raoul; "explain yourself."


You will soon learn. I have tried, but in vain, to overcome the feeling
you saw dawn in me, increase, and take entire possession of me. I have
summoned all your advice and my own strength to my aid. I have well



weighed the unfortunate affair in which I have embarked; I have sounded
its depths; that it is an abyss, I am aware, but it matters little for
_I_ shall pursue my own course.

This is madness, De Guiche! you cannot advance another step without
risking your own ruin to-day, perhaps your life to-morrow.

Whatever may happen, I have done with reflections; listen.

And you hope to succeed; you believe that Madame will love you?

Raoul, I believe nothing; I hope, because hope exists in man, and never
abandons him until death.

But, admitting that you obtain the happiness you covet, even then, you
are more certainly lost than if you had failed in obtaining it.

I beseech you, Raoul, not to interrupt me any more; you could never
convince me, for I tell you beforehand, I do not wish to be convinced; I
have gone so far I cannot recede; I have suffered so much, death itself
would be a boon. I no longer love to madness, Raoul, I am being engulfed
by a whirlpool of jealousy.

Raoul struck his hands together with an expression resembling anger.
Well?said he.

Well or ill matters little. This is what I claim from you, my friend,
my almost brother. During the last three days Madame has been living in
a perfect intoxication of gayety. On the first day, I dared not look at
her; I hated her for not being as unhappy as myself. The next day I
could not bear her out of my sight; and she, Raoul - at least I thought I
remarked it - she looked at me, if not with pity, at least with
gentleness. But between her looks and mine, a shadow intervened;
another's smile invited hers. Beside her horse another's always gallops,
which is not mine; in her ear another's caressing voice, not mine,
unceasingly vibrates. Raoul, for three days past my brain has been on
fire; flame, not blood, courses through my veins. That shadow must be
driven away, that smile must be quenched; that voice must be silenced.

You wish Monsieur's death,exclaimed Raoul.

No, no, I am not jealous of the husband; I am jealous of the lover.

Of the lover?said Raoul.

Have you not observed it, you who were formerly so keen-sighted?

Are you jealous of the Duke of Buckingham?

To the very death.

Again jealous?

This time the affair will be easy to arrange between us; I have taken
the initiative, and have sent him a letter.

It was you, then, who wrote to him?

How do you know that?

I know it, because he told me so. Look at this;and he handed De
Guiche the letter he had received nearly at the same moment as his own.
De Guiche read it eagerlyand saidHe is a brave man, and more than
that, a gallant man.


Most certainly the duke is a gallant man; I need not ask if you wrote to
him in a similar style.
He will show you my letter when you call on him on my behalf.
But that is almost out of the question.
What is?
That I shall call on him for that purpose.
Why so?


The duke consults me as you do.
I suppose you will give _me_ the preference! Listen to me, Raoul, I
wish you to tell his Grace - it is a very simple matter - that to-day,
to-morrow, the following day, or any other day he may choose, I will meet
him at Vincennes.


Reflect, De Guiche.
I thought I told you I have reflected.
The duke is a stranger here; he is on a mission which renders his person


inviolable.... Vincennes is close to the Bastile.
The consequences concern _me_.
But the motive for this meeting? What motive do you wish me to assign?
Be perfectly easy on that score, he will not ask any. The duke must be


as sick of me as I am of him. I implore you, therefore, seek the duke,


and if it is necessary to entreat him, to accept my offer, I will do so.
That is useless. The duke has already informed me that he wishes to
speak to me. The duke is now playing cards with the king. Let us both
go there. I will draw him aside in the gallery; you will remain aloof.
Two words will be sufficient.

That is well arranged. I will take De Wardes to keep me in countenance.

Why not Manicamp? De Wardes can join us at any time; we can leave him
here.
Yes, that is true.
He knows nothing?
Positively nothing. You continue still on an unfriendly footing, then?
Has he not told you anything?
Nothing.
I do not like the man, and, as I _never_ liked him, the result is, that


I am on no worse terms with him to-day than I was yesterday.
Let us go, then.
The four descended the stairs. De Guiche's carriage was waiting at the


doorand took them to the Palais Royal. As they were going alongRaoul
was engaged in devising his scheme of action. The sole depositary of two


secretshe did not despair of concluding some arrangement between the
two parties. He knew the influence he exercised over Buckinghamand the
ascendency he had acquired over De Guicheand affairs did not look
utterly hopeless. On their arrival in the gallerydazzling with the
blaze of lightwhere the most beautiful and illustrious women of the
court moved to and frolike stars in their own atmosphereRaoul could
not prevent himself for a moment forgetting De Guiche in order to seek
out Louisewhoamidst her companionslike a dove completely
fascinatedgazed long and fixedly upon the royal circlewhich glittered
with jewels and gold. All its members were standingthe king alone
being seated. Raoul perceived Buckinghamwho was standing a few paces
from Monsieurin a group of French and Englishwho were admiring his
aristocratic carriage and the incomparable magnificence of his costume.
Some of the older courtiers remembered having seen his fatherbut their
recollections were not prejudicial to the son.

Buckingham was conversing with Fouquetwho was talking with him aloud
about Belle-Isle. "I cannot speak to him at present said Raoul.

Waitthenand choose your opportunitybut finish everything
speedily. I am on thorns."

See, our deliverer approaches,said Raoulperceiving D'Artagnanwho
magnificently dressed in his new uniform of captain of the musketeers
had just made his entry in the gallery; and he advanced towards
D'Artagnan.

The Comte de la Fere has been looking for you, chevalier,said Raoul.

Yes,replied D'ArtagnanI have just left him.

I thought you would have passed a portion of the evening together.

We have arranged to meet again.

As he answered Raoulhis absent looks were directed on all sidesas if
seeking some one in the crowd or looking for something in the room.
Suddenly his gaze became fixedlike that of an eagle on its prey. Raoul
followed the direction of his glanceand noticed that De Guiche and
D'Artagnan saluted each otherbut he could not distinguish at whom the
captain's lingering and haughty glance was aimed.

Chevalier,said Raoulthere is no one here but yourself who can
render me a service.

What is it, my dear vicomte?

It is simply to go and interrupt the Duke of Buckingham, to whom I wish
to say two words, and, as the duke is conversing with M. Fouquet, you
understand that it would not do for _me_ to throw myself into the middle
of the conversation.

Ah, ah, is M. Fouquet there?inquired D'Artagnan.

Do you not see him?

Yes, now I do. But do you think I have a greater right than you have?

You are a more important personage.

Yes, you're right; I am captain of the musketeers; I have had the post
promised me so long, and have enjoyed it for so brief a period, that I am
always forgetting my dignity.


You will do me this service, will you not?

M. Fouquet - the deuce!

Are you not on good terms with him?

It is rather he who may not be on good terms with me; however, since it
must be done some day or another -

Stay; I think he is looking at you; or is it likely that it might be -

No, no; don't deceive yourself, it is indeed me for whom this honor is
intended.

The opportunity is a good one, then?

Do you think so?

Pray go.

Well, I will.

De Guiche had not removed his eyes from Raoulwho made a sign to him
that all was arranged. D'Artagnan walked straight up to the groupand
civilly saluted M. Fouquet as well as the others.

Good evening, M. d'Artagnan; we were speaking of Belle-Isle,said
Fouquetwith that usage of societyand that perfect knowledge of the
language of lookswhich require half a lifetime thoroughly to acquire
and which some personsnotwithstanding all their studynever attain.

Of Belle-Ile-en-Mer! Ah!said D'Artagnan. "It belongs to youI
believeM. Fouquet?"

M. Fouquet has just told us that he had presented it to the king,said
Buckingham.

Do you know Belle-Isle, chevalier?inquired Fouquet.

I have only been there once,replied D'Artagnanwith readiness and
good-humor.

Did you remain there long?

Scarcely a day.

Did you see much of it while you were there?

All that could be seen in a day.

A great deal can be seen with observation as keen as yours,said
Fouquet; at which D'Artagnan bowed.

During this Raoul made a sign to Buckingham. "M. Fouquet said
Buckingham, I leave the captain with youhe is more learned than I am
in bastionsscarpsand counter-scarpsand I will join one of my
friendswho has just beckoned me." Saying thisBuckingham disengaged
himself from the groupand advanced towards Raoulstopping for a moment
at the table where the queen-motherthe young queenand the king were
playing together.

Now, Raoul,said De Guichethere he is; be firm and quick.

Buckinghamhaving made some complimentary remark to Madamecontinued


his way towards Raoulwho advanced to meet himwhile De Guiche remained
in his placethough he followed him with his eyes. The maneuver was so
arranged that the young men met in an open space which was left vacant
between the groups of players and the gallerywhere they walked
stopping now and then for the purpose of saying a few words to some of
the graver courtiers who were walking there. At the moment when the two
lines were about to unitethey were broken by a third. It was Monsieur
who advanced towards the Duke of Buckingham. Monsieur had his most
engaging smile on his red and perfumed lips.

My dear duke,said hewith the most affectionate politeness; "is it
really true what I have just been told?"

Buckingham turned round; he had not noticed Monsieur approach; but had
merely heard his voice. He started in spite of his command over himself
and a slight pallor overspread his face. "Monseigneur he asked, what
has been told you that surprises you so much?"

That which throws me into despair, and will, in truth, be a real cause
of mourning for the whole court.

Your highness is very kind, for I perceive that you allude to my
departure.

Precisely.

Guiche had overheard the conversation from where he was standingand
started in his turn. "His departure he murmured. What does he say?"

Philip continued with the same gracious airI can easily conceive,
monsieur, why the king of Great Britain recalls you; we all know that
King Charles II., who appreciates true gentlemen, cannot dispense with
you. But it cannot be supposed we can let you go without great regret;
and I beg you to receive the expression of my own.

Believe me, monseigneur,said the dukethat if I quit the court of
France -

Because you are recalled; but, if you suppose the expression of my own
wish on the subject might possibly have any influence with the king, I
will gladly volunteer to entreat his majesty Charles II. to leave you
with us a little while longer.

I am overwhelmed, monseigneur, by so much kindness,replied Buckingham;
but I have received positive commands. My residence in France was
limited; I have prolonged it at the risk of displeasing my gracious
sovereign. It is only this very day that I recollected I ought to have
set off four days ago.

Indeed,said Monsieur.

Yes; but,added Buckinghamraising his voice in such a manner that the
princess could hear him- "but I resemble that dweller in the Eastwho
turned madand remained so for several daysowing to a delightful dream
that he had hadbut who one day awokeif not completely curedin some
respects rational at least. The court of France has its intoxicating
propertieswhich are not unlike this dreammy lord; but at last I wake
and leave it. I shall be unablethereforeto prolong my residenceas
your highness has so kindly invited me to do."

When do you leave?inquired Philipwith an expression full of interest.

To-morrow, monseigneur. My carriages have been ready for three days.


The Duc d'Orleans made a movement of the headwhich seemed to signify
Since you are determined, duke, there is nothing to be said.
Buckingham returned the gestureconcealing under a smile a contraction
of his heart; and then Monsieur moved away in the same direction by which
he had approached. At the same momenthoweverDe Guiche advanced from
the opposite direction. Raoul feared that the impatient young man might
possibly make the proposition himselfand hurried forth before him.

No, no, Raoul, all is useless now,said Guicheholding both his hands
towards the dukeand leading him behind a column. "Forgive meduke
for what I wrote to youI was mad; give me back my letter."

It is true,said the dukeyou cannot owe me a grudge any longer now.

Forgive me, duke; my friendship, my lasting friendship is yours.

There is certainly no reason why you should bear me any ill-will from
the moment I leave her never to see her again.

Raoul heard these wordsand comprehending that his presence was now
useless between the young menwho had now only friendly words to
exchangewithdrew a few paces; a movement which brought him closer to De
Wardeswho was conversing with the Chevalier de Lorraine respecting the
departure of Buckingham. "A strategic retreat said De Wardes.

Why so?"

Because the dear duke saves a sword-thrust by it.At which reply both
laughed.

Raoulindignantturned round frowninglyflushed with anger and his lip
curling with disdain. The Chevalier de Lorraine turned on his heelbut
De Wardes remained and waited.

You will not break yourself of the habit,said Raoul to De Wardesof
insulting the absent; yesterday it was M. d'Artagnan, to-day it is the
Duke of Buckingham.

You know very well, monsieur,returned De Wardesthat I sometimes
insult those who are present.

De Wardes was close to Raoultheir shoulders mettheir faces
approachedas if to mutually inflame each other by the fire of their
looks and of their anger. It could be seen that the one was at the
height of furythe other at the end of his patience. Suddenly a voice
was heard behind them full of grace and courtesysayingI believe I
heard my name pronounced.

They turned round and saw D'Artagnanwhowith a smiling eye and a
cheerful facehad just placed his hand on De Wardes's shoulder. Raoul
stepped back to make room for the musketeer. De Wardes trembled from
head to footturned palebut did not move. D'Artagnanstill with the
same smiletook the place which Raoul had abandoned to him.

Thank you, my dear Raoul,he said. "M. de WardesI wish to talk with
you. Do not leave usRaoul; every one can hear what I have to say to M.
de Wardes." His smile immediately faded awayand his glace became cold
and sharp as a sword.

I am at your orders, monsieur,said De Wardes.

For a very long time,resumed D'ArtagnanI have sought an opportunity
of conversing with you; to-day is the first time I have found it. The
place is badly chosen, I admit, but you will perhaps have the goodness to


accompany me to my apartments, which are on the staircase at the end of
this gallery.


I follow you, monsieur,said De Wardes.


Are you alone here?said D'Artagnan.


No; I have M. Manicamp and M. de Guiche, two of my friends.


That's well,said D'Artagnan; "but two persons are not sufficient; you
will be able to find a few othersI trust."


Certainly,said the young manwho did not know what object D'Artagnan
had in view. "As many as you please."


Are they friends?


Yes, monsieur.


Real friends?


No doubt of it.


Very well, get a good supply, then. Do you come, too, Raoul; bring M.
de Guiche and the Duke of Buckingham.


What a disturbance,replied De Wardesattempting to smile. The
captain slightly signed to him with his handas though to recommend him
to be patientand then led the way to his apartments.


Transcriber's Note: In most other editionsthe previous chapter and the
next are combined into oneentitled "D'Artagnan Calls De Wardes to
Account." - JB


Chapter XX:
Sword-Thrusts in the Water (concluded).


D'Artagnan's apartment was not unoccupied; for the Comte de la Fere
seated in the recess of a windowawaited him. "Well said he to
D'Artagnan, as he saw him enter.


Well said the latter, M. de Wardes has done me the honor to pay me a
visitin company with some of his own friendsas well as of ours." In
factbehind the musketeer appeared De Wardes and Manicampfollowed by
De Guiche and Buckinghamwho looked surprisednot knowing what was
expected of them. Raoul was accompanied by two or three gentlemen; and
as he enteredglanced round the roomand perceiving the counthe went
and placed himself by his side. D'Artagnan received his visitors with
all the courtesy he was capable of; he preserved his unmoved and
unconcerned look. All the persons present were men of distinction
occupying posts of honor and credit at the court. After he had
apologized to each of them for any inconvenience he might have put them
tohe turned towards De Wardeswhoin spite of his customary self-
commandcould not prevent his face betraying some surprise mingled with
not a little uneasiness.


Now, monsieur,said D'Artagnansince we are no longer within the
precincts of the king's palace, and since we can speak out without
failing in respect to propriety, I will inform you why I have taken the
liberty to request you to visit me here, and why I have invited these
gentlemen to be present at the same time. My friend, the Comte de la
Fere, has acquainted me with the injurious reports you are spreading
about myself. You have stated that you regard me as your mortal enemy,



because I was, so you affirm, that of your father.

Perfectly true, monsieur, I have said so,replied De Wardeswhose
pallid face became slightly tinged with color.

You accuse me, therefore, of a crime, or a fault, or of some mean and
cowardly act. Have the goodness to state your charge against me in
precise terms.

In the presence of witnesses?

Most certainly in the presence of witnesses; and you see I have selected
them as being experienced in affairs of honor.

You do not appreciate my delicacy, monsieur. I have accused you, it is
true; but I have kept the nature of the accusation a perfect secret. I
entered into no details; but have rested satisfied by expressing my
hatred in the presence of those on whom a duty was almost imposed to
acquaint you with it. You have not taken the discreetness I have shown
into consideration, although you were interested in remaining silent. I
can hardly recognize your habitual prudence in that, M. d'Artagnan.

D'Artagnanwho was quietly biting the corner of his moustachesaidI
have already had the honor to beg you to state the particulars of the
grievances you say you have against me.

Aloud?

Certainly, aloud.

In that case, I will speak.

Speak, monsieur,said D'Artagnanbowing; "we are all listening to you."

Well, monsieur, it is not a question of a personal injury towards
myself, but one towards my father.

That you have already stated.

Yes; but there are certain subjects which are only approached with
hesitation.

If that hesitation, in your case, really does exist, I entreat you to
overcome it.

Even if it refer to a disgraceful action?

Yes; in every and any case.

Those who were present at this scene hadat firstlooked at each other
with a good deal of uneasiness. They were reassuredhoweverwhen they
saw that D'Artagnan manifested no emotion whatever.

De Wardes still maintained the same unbroken silence. "Speakmonsieur
said the musketeer; you see you are keeping us waiting."

Listen, then: - My father loved a lady of noble birth, and this lady
loved my father.D'Artagnan and Athos exchanged looks. De Wardes
continued: "M. d'Artagnan found some letters which indicated a
rendezvoussubstituted himselfunder disguisefor the person who was
expectedand took advantage of the darkness."

That is perfectly true,said D'Artagnan.


A slight murmur was heard from those present. "YesI was guilty of that
dishonorable action. You should have addedmonsieursince you are so
impartialthatat the period when the circumstance which you have just
related happenedI was not one-and-twenty years of age."

A renewed murmur was heardbut this time of astonishmentand almost of
doubt.

It was a most shameful deception, I admit,said D'Artagnanand I have
not waited for M. de Wardes's reproaches to reproach myself for it, and
very bitterly, too. Age has, however, made me more reasonable, and,
above all, more upright; and this injury has been atoned for by a long
and lasting regret. But I appeal to you, gentlemen; this affair took
place in 1626, at a period, happily for yourselves, known to you by
tradition only, at a period when love was not over-scrupulous, when
consciences did not distill, as in the present day, poison and
bitterness. We were young soldiers, always fighting, or being attacked,
our swords always in our hands, or at least ready to be drawn from their
sheaths. Death then always stared us in the face, war hardened us, and
the cardinal pressed us sorely. I have repented of it, and more than
that - I still repent it, M. de Wardes.

I can well understand that, monsieur, for the action itself needed
repentance; but you were not the less the cause of that lady's disgrace.
She, of whom you have been speaking, covered with shame, borne down by
the affront you brought upon her, fled, quitted France, and no one ever
knew what became of her.

Stay,said the Comte de la Ferestretching his hand towards De Wardes
with a peculiar smile upon his faceyou are mistaken; she was seen; and
there are persons even now present, who, having often heard her spoken
of, will easily recognize her by the description I am about to give. She
was about five-and-twenty years of age, slender in form, of a pale
complexion, and fair-haired; she was married in England.

Married?exclaimed De Wardes.

So, you were not aware she was married? You see we are far better
informed than yourself. Do you happen to know she was usually styled 'My
Lady,' without the addition of any name to that description?

Yes, I know that.

Good Heavens!murmured Buckingham.

Very well, monsieur. That woman, who came from England, returned to
England after having thrice attempted M. d'Artagnan's life. That was but
just, you will say, since M. d'Artagnan had insulted her. But that which
was not just was, that, when in England, this woman, by her seductions,
completely enslaved a young man in the service of Lord de Winter, by name
Felton. You change color, my lord,said Athosturning to the Duke of
Buckinghamand your eyes kindle with anger and sorrow. Let your Grace
finish the recital, then, and tell M. de Wardes who this woman was who
placed the knife in the hand of your father's murderer.

A cry escaped from the lips of all present. The young duke passed his
handkerchief across his foreheadwhich was covered with perspiration. A
dead silence ensued among the spectators.

You see, M. de Wardes,said D'Artagnanwhom this recital had impressed
more and moreas his own recollection revived as Athos spokeyou see
that my crime did not cause the destruction of any one's soul, and that
the soul in question may fairly be considered to have been altogether
lost before my regret. It is, however, an act of conscience on my part.


Now this matter is settled, therefore, it remains for me to ask, with the
greatest humility, your forgiveness for this shameless action, as most
certainly I should have asked it of your father, if he were still alive,
and if I had met him after my return to France, subsequent to the death
of King Charles I.

That is too much, M. d'Artagnan,exclaimed many voiceswith animation.

No, gentlemen,said the captain. "And nowM. de WardesI hope all is
finished between usand that you will have no further occasion to speak
ill of me again. Do you consider it completely settled?"

De Wardes bowedand muttered to himself inarticulately.

I trust also,said D'Artagnanapproaching the young man closelythat
you will no longer speak ill of any one, as it seems you have the
unfortunate habit of doing; for a man so puritanically conscientious as
you are, who can reproach an old soldier for a youthful freak five-andthirty
years after it happened, will allow me to ask whether you, who
advocate such excessive purity of conscience, will undertake on your side
to do nothing contrary either to conscience or the principle of honor.
And now, listen attentively to what I am going to say, M. de Wardes, in
conclusion. Take care that no tale, with which your name may be
associated, reaches my ear.

Monsieur,said De Wardesit is useless threatening to no purpose.

I have not yet finished, M. de Wardes, and you must listen to me still
further.The circle of listenersfull of eager curiositydrew
closer. "You spoke just now of the honor of a womanand of the honor of
your father. We were glad to hear you speak in that manner; for it is
pleasing to think that such a sentiment of delicacy and rectitudeand
which did not existit seemsin _our_ mindslives in our children; and
it is delightfultooto see a young manat an age when men from habit
become the destroyers of the honor of womenrespect and defend it."

De Wardes bit his lip and clenched his handsevidently much disturbed to
learn how this discoursethe commencement of which was announced in so
threatening a mannerwould terminate.

How did it happen, then, that you allowed yourself to say to M. de
Bragelonne that he did not know who his mother was?

Raoul's eyes flashedasdarting forwardhe exclaimed- "Chevalier
this is a personal affair of my own!" At which exclamationa smile
full of malicepassed across De Wardes's face.

D'Artagnan put Raoul asidesaying- "Do not interrupt meyoung man."
And looking at De Wardes in an authoritative mannerhe continued: - "I
am now dealing with a matter which cannot be settled by means of the
sword. I discuss it before men of honorall of whom have more than once
had their swords in their hands in affairs of honor. I selected them
expressly. These gentlemen well know that every secret for which men
fight ceases to be a secret. I again put my question to M. de Wardes.
What was the subject of conversation when you offended this young manin
offending his father and mother at the same time?"

It seems to me,returned De Wardesthat liberty of speech is allowed,
when it is supported by every means which a man of courage has at his
disposal.

Tell me what the means are by which a man of courage can sustain a
slanderous expression.


The sword.

You fail, not only in logic, in your argument, but in religion and
honor. You expose the lives of many others, without referring to your
own, which seems to be full of hazard. Besides, fashions pass away,
monsieur, and the fashion of duelling has passed away, without referring
in any way to the edicts of his majesty which forbid it. Therefore, in
order to be consistent with your own chivalrous notions, you will at once
apologize to M. de Bragelonne; you will tell him how much you regret
having spoken so lightly, and that the nobility and purity of his race
are inscribed, not in his heart alone, but still more in every action of
his life. You will do and say this, M. de Wardes, as I, an old officer,
did and said just now to your boy's moustache.

And if I refuse?inquired De Wardes.

In that case the result will be -

That which you think you will prevent,said De Wardeslaughing; "the
result will be that your conciliatory address will end in a violation of
the king's prohibition."

Not so,said the captainyou are quite mistaken.

What will be the result, then?

The result will be that I shall go to the king, with whom I am on
tolerably good terms, to whom I have been happy enough to render certain
services, dating from a period when you were not born, and who, at my
request, has just sent me an order in blank for M. Baisemeaux de
Montlezun, governor of the Bastile; and I shall say to the king: 'Sire, a
man has in a most cowardly way insulted M. de Bragelonne by insulting his
mother; I have written this man's name upon the _lettre de cachet_ which
your majesty has been kind enough to give me, so that M. de Wardes is in
the Bastile for three years.And D'Artagnandrawing the order signed
by the king from his pocketheld it towards De Wardes.

Remarking that the young man was not quite convincedand received the
warning as an idle threathe shrugged his shoulders and walked leisurely
towards the tableupon which lay a writing-case and a penthe length of
which would have terrified the topographical Porthos. De Wardes then saw
that nothing could well be more seriously intended than the threat in
questionfor the Bastileeven at that periodwas already held in
dread. He advanced a step towards Raoulandin an almost
unintelligible voicesaid- "I offer my apologies in the terms which M.
d'Artagnan just now dictatedand which I am forced to make to you."

One moment, monsieur,said the musketeerwith the greatest
tranquillityyou mistake the terms of the apology. I did not say, 'and
which I am forced to make'; I said, 'and which my conscience induces me
to make.' This latter expression, believe me, is better than the former;
and it will be far preferable, since it will be the most truthful
expression of your own sentiments.

I subscribe to it,said De Wardes; "but submitgentlementhat a
thrust of the sword through the bodyas was the custom formerlywas far
better than tyranny like this."

No, monsieur,replied Buckingham; "for the sword-thrustwhen received
was no indication that a particular person was right or wrong; it only
showed that he was more or less skillful in the use of the weapon."

Monsieur!exclaimed De Wardes.


There, now,interrupted D'Artagnanyou are going to say something
very rude, and I am rendering a service by stopping you in time.

Is that all, monsieur?inquired De Wardes.

Absolutely everything,replied D'Artagnan; "and these gentlemenas
well as myselfare quite satisfied with you."

Believe me, monsieur, that your reconciliations are not successful.

In what way?

Because, as we are now about to separate, I would wager that M. de
Bragelonne and myself are greater enemies than ever.

You are deceived, monsieur, as far as I am concerned,returned Raoul;
for I do not retain the slightest animosity in my heart against you.

This last blow overwhelmed De Wardes. He cast his eyes around him like a
man bewildered. D'Artagnan saluted most courteously the gentlemen who
had been present at the explanation; and every oneon leaving the room
shook hands with him; but not one hand was held out towards De Wardes.
Oh!exclaimed the young mancan I not find some one on whom to wreak
my vengeance?

You can, monsieur, for I am here,whispered a voice full of menace in
his ear.

De Wardes turned roundand saw the Duke of Buckinghamwhohaving
probably remained behind with that intentionhad just approached him.
You, monsieur?exclaimed De Wardes.

Yes, I! I am no subject of the king of France; I am not going to remain
on the territory, since I am about setting off for England. I have
accumulated in my heart such a mass of despair and rage, that I, too,
like yourself, need to revenge myself upon some one. I approve M.
d'Artagnan's principles profoundly, but I am not bound to apply them to
you. I am an Englishman, and, in my turn, I propose to you what you
proposed to others to no purpose. Since you, therefore, are so terribly
incensed, take me as a remedy. In thirty-four hours' time I shall be at
Calais. Come with me; the journey will appear shorter if together, than
if alone. We will fight, when we get there, upon the sands which are
covered by the rising tide, and which form part of the French territory
during six hours of the day, but belong to the territory of Heaven during
the other six.

I accept willingly,said De Wardes.

I assure you,said the dukethat if you kill me, you will be
rendering me an infinite service.

I will do my utmost to make myself agreeable to you, duke,said De
Wardes.

It is agreed, then, that I carry you off with me?

I shall be at your commands. I needed some real danger and some mortal
risk to run, to tranquilize me.

In that case, I think you have met with what you are looking for.
Farewell, M. de Wardes; to-morrow morning, my valet will tell you the
exact hour of our departure; we can travel together like two excellent
friends. I generally travel as fast as I can. Adieu.


Buckingham saluted De Wardesand returned towards the king's apartments;
De Wardesirritated beyond measureleft the Palais Royaland hurried
through the streets homeward to the house where he lodged.


Chapter XXI:
Baisemeaux de Montlezun.


After the austere lesson administered to De WardesAthos and D'Artagnan
together descended the staircase which led to the courtyard of the Palais
Royal. "You perceive said Athos to D'Artagnan, that Raoul cannot
sooner or lateravoid a duel with De Wardesfor De Wardes is as brave
as he is vicious and wicked."


I know such fellows well,replied D'Artagnan; "I had an affair with the
father. I assure you thatalthough at that time I had good muscles and
a sort of brute courage - I assure you that the father did me some
mischief. But you should have seen how I fought it out with him. Ah
Athossuch encounters never take place in these times! I had a hand
which could never remain at resta hand like quicksilver- you knew its
qualityfor you have seen me at work. My sword was no longer than a
piece of steel; it was a serpent that assumed every form and every
lengthseeking where it might thrust its head; in other wordswhere it
might fix its bite. I advanced half a dozen pacesthen threeand then
body to bodyI pressed my antagonist closelythen I darted back again
ten paces. No human power could resist that ferocious ardor. WellDe
Wardes the fatherwith the bravery of his racewith his dogged courage
occupied a good deal of my time; and my fingersat the end of the
engagementwereI well remembertired enough."


It is, then, as I said,resumed Athosthe son will always be looking
out for Raoul, and will end by meeting him; and Raoul can easily be found
when he is sought for.


Agreed; but Raoul calculates well; he bears no grudge against De Wardes,


-he has said so; he will wait until he is provoked, and in that case his
position is a good one. The king will not be able to get out of temper
about the matter; besides we shall know how to pacify his majesty. But
why so full of these fears and anxieties? You don't easily get alarmed.
I will tell you what makes me anxious; Raoul is to see the king tomorrow,
when his majesty will inform him of his wishes respecting a
certain marriage. Raoul, loving as he does, will get out of temper, and
once in an angry mood, if he were to meet De Wardes, the shell would
explode.

We will prevent the explosion.

Not I,said Athosfor I must return to Blois. All this gilded
elegance of the court, all these intrigues, sicken me. I am no longer a
young man who can make terms with the meanness of the day. I have read
in the Great Book many things too beautiful and too comprehensive to
longer take any interest in the trifling phrases which these men whisper
among themselves when they wish to deceive others. In one word, I am
weary of Paris wherever and whenever you are not with me; and as I cannot
have you with me always, I wish to return to Blois.

How wrong you are, Athos; how you gainsay your origin and the destiny of
your noble nature. Men of your stamp are created to continue, to the
very last moment, in full possession of their great faculties. Look at
my sword, a Spanish blade, the one I wore at La Rochelle; it served me
for thirty years without fail; one day in the winter it fell upon the
marble floor on the Louvre and was broken. I had a hunting-knife made
of it which will last a hundred years yet. You, Athos, with your


loyalty, your frankness, your cool courage, and your sound information,
are the very man kings need to warn and direct them. Remain here;
Monsieur Fouquet will not last as long as my Spanish blade.

Is it possible,said Athossmilingthat my friend, D'Artagnan, who,
after having raised me to the skies, making me an object of worship,
casts me down from the top of Olympus, and hurls me to the ground? I
have more exalted ambition, D'Artagnan. To be a minister - to be a
slave, - never! Am I not still greater? I am nothing. I remember
having heard you occasionally call me 'the great Athos'; I defy you,
therefore, if I were minister, to continue to bestow that title upon me.
No, no; I do not yield myself in this manner.

We will not speak of it any more, then; renounce everything, even the
brotherly feeling which unites us.

It is almost cruel what you say.

D'Artagnan pressed Athos's hand warmly. "Nono; renounce everything
without fear. Raoul can get on without you. I am at Paris."

In that case I shall return to Blois. We will take leave of each other
to-night; to-morrow at daybreak I shall be on my horse again.

You cannot return to your hotel alone; why did you not bring Grimaud
with you?

Grimaud takes his rest now; he goes to bed early, for my poor old
servant gets easily fatigued. He came from Blois with me, and I
compelled him to remain within doors; for if, in retracing the forty
leagues which separate us from Blois, he needed to draw breath even, he
would die without a murmur. But I don't want to lose Grimaud.

You shall have one of my musketeers to carry a torch for you. _Hola!_
some one there,called out D'Artagnanleaning over the gilded
balustrade. The heads of seven or eight musketeers appeared. "I wish
some gentlemanwho is so disposedto escort the Comte de la Fere
cried D'Artagnan.

Thank you for your readinessgentlemen said Athos; I regret to have
occasion to trouble you in this manner."

I would willingly escort the Comte de la Fere,said some oneif I had
not to speak to Monsieur d'Artagnan.

Who is that?said D'Artagnanlooking into the darkness.

I, Monsieur d'Artagnan.

Heaven forgive me, if that is not Monsieur Baisemeaux's voice.

It is, monsieur.

What are you doing in the courtyard, my dear Baisemeaux?

I am waiting your orders, my dear Monsieur d'Artagnan.

Wretch that I am,thought D'Artagnan; "trueyou have been toldI
supposethat some one was to be arrestedand have come yourself
instead of sending an officer?"

I came because I had occasion to speak to you.

You did not send to me?


I waited until you were disengaged,said Monsieur Baisemeauxtimidly.
I leave you, D'Artagnan,said Athos.

Not before I have present Monsieur Baisemeaux de Montlezun, the governor
of the Bastile.

Baisemeaux and Athos saluted each other.
Surely you must know each other,said D'Artagnan.


I have an indistinct recollection of Monsieur Baisemeaux,said Athos.


You remember, my dear, Baisemeaux, the king's guardsman with whom we
used formerly to have such delightful meetings in the cardinal's time?

Perfectly,said Athostaking leave of him with affability.

Monsieur le Comte de la Fere, whose _nom de guerre_ was Athos,
whispered D'Artagnan to Baisemeaux.
Yes, yes, a brave man, one of the celebrated four.


Precisely so. But, my dear Baisemeaux, shall we talk now?
If you please.

In the first place, as for the orders - there are none. The king does
not intend to arrest the person in question.

So much the worse said Baisemeaux with a sigh.

What do you mean by so much the worse?" exclaimed D'Artagnanlaughing.
No doubt of it,returned the governormy prisoners are my income.

I beg your pardon, I did not see it in that light.

And so there are no orders,repeated Baisemeaux with a sigh. "What an
admirable situation yours iscaptain he continued, after a pause;
captain-lieutenant of the musketeers."

Oh, it is good enough; but I don't see why you should envy me; you,
governor of the Bastile, the first castle in France.

I am well aware of that,said Baisemeauxin a sorrowful tone of voice.

You say that like a man confessing his sins. I would willingly exchange
my profits for yours.

Don't speak of profits to me, if you wish to save me the bitterest
anguish of mind.

Why do you look first on one side and then on the other, as if you were
afraid of being arrested yourself, you whose business it is to arrest
others?

I was looking to see whether any one could see or listen to us; it would
be safer to confer more in private, if you would grant me such a favor.

Baisemeaux, you seem to forget we are acquaintances of five and thirty
years' standing. Don't assume such sanctified airs; make yourself quite
comfortable; I don't eat governors of the Bastile raw.


Heaven be praised!

Come into the courtyard with me; it's a beautiful moonlit night; we will
walk up and down, arm in arm, under the trees, while you tell me your
pitiful tale.He drew the doleful governor into the courtyardtook him
by the arm as he had saidandin his roughgood-humored waycried:
Out with it, rattle away, Baisemeaux; what have you got to say?

It's a long story.

You prefer your own lamentations, then; my opinion is, it will be longer
than ever. I'll wager you are making fifty thousand francs out of your
pigeons in the Bastile.

Would to heaven that were the case, M. d'Artagnan.

You surprise me, Baisemeaux; just look at you, acting the anchorite. I
should like to show you your face in a glass, and you would see how plump
and florid-looking you are, as fat and round as a cheese, with eyes like
lighted coals; and if it were not for that ugly wrinkle you try to
cultivate on your forehead, you would hardly look fifty years old, and
you are sixty, if I am not mistaken.

All quite true.

Of course I knew it was true, as true as the fifty thousand francs
profit you make;at which remark Baisemeaux stamped on the ground.

Well, well,said D'ArtagnanI will add up your accounts for you: you
were captain of M. Mazarin's guards; and twelve thousand francs a year
would in twelve years amount to one hundred and forty thousand francs.

Twelve thousand francs! Are you mad?cried Baisemeaux; "the old miser
gave me no more than six thousandand the expenses of the post amounted
to six thousand five hundred francs. M. Colbertwho deducted the other
six thousand francscondescended to allow me to take fifty thousand
francs as a gratification; so thatif it were not for my little estate
at Montlezunwhich brings me in twelve thousand francs a yearI could
not have met my engagements."

Well, then, how about the fifty thousand francs from the Bastile?
There, I trust, you are boarded and lodged, and get your six thousand
francs salary besides.

Admitted!

Whether the year be good or bad, there are fifty prisoners, who, on the
average, bring you in a thousand francs a year each.

I don't deny it.

Well, there is at once an income of fifty thousand francs; you have held
the post three years, and must have received in that time one hundred and
fifty thousand francs.

You forget one circumstance, dear M. d'Artagnan.

What is that?

That while you received your appointment as captain from the king
himself, I received mine as governor from Messieurs Tremblay and
Louviere.


Quite right, and Tremblay was not a man to let you have the post for


nothing.
Nor Louviere either: the result was, that I gave seventy-five thousand
francs to Tremblay as his share.


Very agreeable that! and to Louviere?


The very same.


Money down?


No: that would have been impossible. The king did not wish, or rather

M. Mazarin did not wish, to have the appearance of removing those two
gentlemen, who had sprung from the barricades; he permitted them,
therefore, to make certain extravagant conditions for their retirement.
What were those conditions?
Tremble... three years' income for the good-will.
The deuce! so that the one hundred and fifty thousand francs have passed


into their hands.
Precisely so.
And beyond that?
A sum of one hundred and fifty thousand francs, or fifteen thousand


pistoles, whichever you please, in three payments.
Exorbitant.
Yes, but that is not all.
What besides?
In default of the fulfillment by me of any one of those conditions,


those gentlemen enter upon their functions again. The king has been
induced to sign that.
It is monstrous, incredible!
Such is the fact, however.
I do indeed pity you, Baisemeaux. But why, in the name of fortune, did


M. Mazarin grant you this pretended favor? It would have been far better
to have refused you altogether.
Certainly, but he was strongly persuaded to do so by my protector.
Who is he?
One of your own friends, indeed; M. d'Herblay.
M. d'Herblay! Aramis!
Just so; he has been very kind towards me.
Kind! to make you enter into such a bargain!
Listen! I wished to leave the cardinal's service. M. d'Herblay spoke
on my behalf to Louviere and Tremblay - they objected; I wished to have
the appointment very much, for I knew what it could be made to produce;



in my distress I confided in M. d'Herblay, and he offered to become my
surety for the different payments.

You astound me! Aramis became your surety?

Like a man of honor; he procured the signature; Tremblay and Louviere
resigned their appointments; I have paid every year twenty-five thousand
francs to these two gentlemen; on the thirty-first of May, every year, M.
d'Herblay himself comes to the Bastile, and brings me five thousand
pistoles to distribute between my crocodiles.

You owe Aramis one hundred and fifty thousand francs, then?

That is the very thing which is the cause of my despair, for I only owe
him one hundred thousand.

I don't quite understand you.

He came and settled with the vampires only two years. To-day, however,
is the thirty-first of May, and he has not been yet, and to-morrow, at
midday, the payment falls due; if, therefore, I don't pay to-morrow,
those gentlemen can, by the terms of the contract, break off the bargain;
I shall be stripped of everything; I shall have worked for three years,
and given two hundred and fifty thousand francs for nothing, absolutely
for nothing at all, dear M. d'Artagnan.

This is very strange,murmured D'Artagnan.

You can now imagine that I may well have wrinkles on my forehead, can
you not?

Yes, indeed!

And you can imagine, too, that notwithstanding I may be as round as a
cheese, with a complexion like an apple, and my eyes like coals on fire,
I may almost be afraid that I shall not have a cheese or an apple left me
to eat, and that my eyes will be left me only to weep with.

It is really a very grievous affair.

I have come to you, M. d'Artagnan, for you are the only man who can get
me out of my trouble.

In what way?

You are acquainted with the Abbe d'Herblay, and you know that he is a
somewhat mysterious gentleman.

Yes.

Well, you can, perhaps, give me the address of his presbytery, for I
have been to Noisy-le-Sec, and he is no longer there.

I should think not, indeed. He is Bishop of Vannes.

What! Vannes in Bretagne?

Yes.

The little man began to tear his hairsayingHow can I get to Vannes
from here by midday to-morrow? I am a lost man.

Your despair quite distresses me.


Vannes, Vannes!cried Baisemeaux.

But listen; a bishop is not always a resident. M. d'Herblay may not
possibly be so far away as you fear.

Pray tell me his address.
I really don't know it.

In that case I am lost. I will go and throw myself at the king's feet.

But, Baisemeaux, I can hardly believe what you tell me; besides, since
the Bastile is capable of producing fifty thousand francs a year, why
have you not tried to screw one hundred thousand out of it?

Because I am an honest man, M. d'Artagnan, and because my prisoners are
fed like ambassadors.

Well, you're in a fair way to get out of your difficulties; give
yourself a good attack of indigestion with your excellent living, and
put yourself out of the way between this and midday to-morrow.

How can you be hard-hearted enough to laugh?

Nay, you really afflict me. Come, Baisemeaux, if you can pledge me your
word of honor, do so, that you will not open your lips to any one about
what I am going to say to you.

Never, never!
You wish to put your hands on Aramis?


At any cost!
Well, go and see where M. Fouquet is.


Why, what connection can there be -


How stupid you are! Don't you know that Vannes is in the diocese of
Belle-Isle, or Belle-Isle in the diocese of Vannes? Belle-Isle belongs
to M. Fouquet, and M. Fouquet nominated M. d'Herblay to that bishopric!

I see, I see; you restore me to life again.

So much the better. Go and tell M. Fouquet very simply that you wish to
speak to M. d'Herblay.

Of course, of course,exclaimed Baisemeauxdelightedly.

But,said D'Artagnanchecking him by a severe lookyour word of
honor?

I give you my sacred word of honor,replied the little manabout to
set off running.

Where are you going?

To M. Fouquet's house.

It is useless doing that; M. Fouquet is playing at cards with the king.
All you can do is to pay M. Fouquet a visit early to-morrow morning.
I will do so. Thank you.


Good luck attend you,said D'Artagnan.

Thank you.

This is a strange affair,murmured D'Artagnanas he slowly ascended
the staircase after he had left Baisemeaux. "What possible interest can
Aramis have in obliging Baisemeaux in this manner? WellI suppose we
shall learn some day or another."


Chapter XXII:
The King's Card-Table.


Fouquet was presentas D'Artagnan had saidat the king's card-table.
It seemed as if Buckingham's departure had shed a balm on the lacerated
hearts of the previous evening. Monsieurradiant with delightmade a
thousand affectionate signs to his mother. The Count de Guiche could not
separate himself from Buckinghamand while playingconversed with him
upon the circumstance of his projected voyage. Buckinghamthoughtful
and kind in his mannerlike a man who has adopted a resolutionlistened
to the countand from time to time cast a look full of regret and
hopeless affection at Madame. The princessin the midst of her elation
of spiritsdivided her attention between the kingwho was playing with
herMonsieurwho quietly joked her about her enormous winningsand De
Guichewho exhibited an extravagant delight. Of Buckingham she took but
little notice; for herthis fugitivethis exilewas now simply a
remembranceno longer a man. Light hearts are thus constituted; while
they themselves continue untouchedthey roughly break off with every one
who may possibly interfere with their little calculations of self
comfort. Madame had received Buckingham's smiles and attentions and
sighs while he was present; but what was the good of sighingsmiling
and kneeling at a distance? Can one tell in what direction the winds in
the Channelwhich toss mighty vessels to and frocarry such sighs as
these? The duke could not fail to mark this changeand his heart was
cruelly hurt. Of a sensitive characterproud and susceptible of deep
attachmenthe cursed the day on which such a passion had entered his
heart. The looks he castfrom time to time at Madamebecame colder by
degrees at the chilling complexion of his thoughts. He could hardly yet
despairbut he was strong enough to impose silence upon the tumultuous
outcries of his heart. In exact proportionhoweveras Madame suspected
this change of feelingshe redoubled her activity to regain the ray of
light she was about to lose; her timid and indecisive mind was displayed
in brilliant flashes of wit and humor. At any cost she felt that she
must be remarked above everything and every oneeven above the king
himself. And she was sofor the queensnotwithstanding their dignity
and the kingdespite the respect which etiquette requiredwere all
eclipsed by her. The queensstately and ceremoniouswere softened and
could not restrain their laughter. Madame Henriettethe queen-mother
was dazzled by the brilliancy which cast distinction upon her family
thanks to the wit of the grand-daughter of Henry IV. The kingjealous
as a young man and as a monarchof the superiority of those who
surrounded himcould not resist admitting himself vanquished by a
petulance so thoroughly French in its naturewhose energy more than ever
increased by English humor. Like a childhe was captivated by her
radiant beautywhich her wit made still more dazzling. Madame's eyes
flashed like lightning. Wit and humor escaped from her scarlet lips like
persuasion from the lips of Nestor of old. The whole courtsubdued by
her enchanting gracenoticed for the first time that laughter could be
indulged in before the greatest monarch in the worldlike people who
merited their appellation of the wittiest and most polished people in
Europe.


Madamefrom that eveningachieved and enjoyed a success capable of
bewildering all not born to those altitudes termed thrones; whichin



spite of their elevationare sheltered from such giddiness. From that
very moment Louis XIV. acknowledged Madame as a person to be recognized.
Buckingham regarded her as a coquette deserving the cruelest tortures
and De Guiche looked upon her as a divinity; the courtiers as a star
whose light might some day become the focus of all favor and power. And
yet Louis XIV.a few years previouslyhad not even condescended to
offer his hand to that "ugly girl" for a ballet; and Buckingham had
worshipped this coquette "on both knees." De Guiche had once looked upon
this divinity as a mere woman; and the courtiers had not dared to extol
this star in her upward progressfearful to disgust the monarch whom
such a dull star had formerly displeased.

Let us see what was taking place during this memorable evening at the
king's card-table. The young queenalthough Spanish by birthand the
niece of Anne of Austrialoved the kingand could not conceal her
affection. Anne of Austriaa keen observerlike all womenand
imperiouslike every queenwas sensible of Madame's powerand
acquiesced in it immediatelya circumstance which induced the young
queen to raise the siege and retire to her apartments. The king hardly
paid any attention to her departurenotwithstanding the pretended
symptoms of indisposition by which it was accompanied. Encouraged by the
rules of etiquettewhich he had begun to introduce at the court as an
element of every relation of lifeLouis XIV. did not disturb himself; he
offered his hand to Madame without looking at Monsieur his brotherand
led the young princess to the door of her apartments. It was remarked
that at the threshold of the doorhis majestyfreed from every
restraintor not equal to the situationsighed very deeply. The ladies
present - nothing escapes a woman's glance - Mademoiselle Montalaisfor
instance - did not fail to say to each otherthe king sighed,and
Madame sighed too.This had been indeed the case. Madame had sighed
very noiselesslybut with an accompaniment very far more dangerous for
the king's repose. Madame had sighedfirst closing her beautiful black
eyesnext opening themand thenladenas they werewith an
indescribable mournfulness of expressionshe had raised them towards the
kingwhose face at that moment visibly heightened in color. The
consequence of these blushesof those interchanged sighsand of this
royal agitationwasthat Montalais had committed an indiscretion which
had certainly affected her companionfor Mademoiselle de la Valliere
less clear sightedperhapsturned pale when the king blushed; and her
attendance being required upon Madameshe tremblingly followed the
princess without thinking of taking the gloveswhich court etiquette
required her to do. True it is that the young country girl might allege
as her excuse the agitation into which the king seemed to be thrownfor
Mademoiselle de la Vallierebusily engaged in closing the doorhad
involuntarily fixed her eyes upon the kingwhoas he retired backwards
had his face towards it. The king returned to the room where the cardtables
were set out. He wished to speak to the different persons there
but it was easy to see that his mind was absent. He jumbled different
accounts togetherwhich was taken advantage of by some of the noblemen
who had retained those habits since the time of Monsieur Mazarin - who
had a poor memorybut was a good calculator. In this wayMonsieur
Manicampwith a thoughtless and absent air - for M. Manicamp was the
honestest man in the worldappropriated twenty thousand francswhich
were littering the tableand which did not seem to belong to any person
in particular. In the same wayMonsieur de Wardeswhose head was
doubtless a little bewildered by the occurrences of the eveningsomehow
forgot to leave behind him the sixty double louis which he had won for
the Duke of Buckinghamand which the dukeincapablelike his father
of soiling his hands with coin of any sorthad left lying on the table
before him. The king only recovered his attention in some degree at the
moment that Monsieur Colbertwho had been narrowly observant for some
minutesapproachedanddoubtlesswith great respectyet with much
perseverancewhispered a counsel of some sort into the still tingling
ears of the king. The kingat the suggestionlistened with renewed


attention and immediately looking around himsaidIs Monsieur Fouquet
no longer here?

Yes, sire, I am here,replied the superintendenttill then engaged
with Buckinghamand approached the kingwho advanced a step towards him
with a smiling yet negligent air. "Forgive me said Louis, if I
interrupt your conversation; but I claim your attention wherever I may
require your services."

I am always at the king's service,replied Fouquet.

And your cash-box, too,said the kinglaughing with a false smile.

My cash-box more than anything else,said Fouquetcoldly.

The fact is, I wish to give a _fete_ at Fontainebleau - to keep open
house for fifteen days, and I shall require - and he stoppedglancing
at Colbert. Fouquet waited without showing discomposure; and the king
resumedanswering Colbert's icy smilefour million francs.

Four million,repeated Fouquetbowing profoundly. And his nails
buried in his bosomwere thrust into his fleshbut the tranquil
expression of his face remained unaltered. "When will they be required
sire?"

Take your time, - I mean - no, no; as soon as possible.

A certain time will be necessary, sire.

Time!exclaimed Colberttriumphantly.

The time, monsieur,said the superintendentwith the haughtiest
disdainsimply to _count the money_; a million can only be drawn and
weighed in a day.

Four days, then,said Colbert.

My clerks,replied Fouquetaddressing himself to the kingwill
perform wonders on his majesty's service, and the sum shall be ready in
three days.

It was for Colbert now to turn pale. Louis looked at him astonished.
Fouquet withdrew without any parade or weaknesssmiling at his numerous
friendsin whose countenances alone he read the sincerity of their
friendship - an interest partaking of compassion. Fouquethowever
should not be judged by his smileforin realityhe felt as if he had
been stricken by death. Drops of blood beneath his coat stained the fine
linen that clothed his chest. His dress concealed the bloodand his
smile the rage which devoured him. His domestics perceivedby the
manner in which he approached his carriagethat their master was not in
the best of humors: the result of their discernment wasthat his orders
were executed with that exactitude of maneuver which is found on board a
man-of-warcommanded during a storm by an ill-tempered captain. The
carriagethereforedid not simply roll along - it flew. Fouquet had
hardly time to recover himself during the drive; on his arrival he went
at once to Aramiswho had not yet retired for the night. As for
Porthoshe had supped very agreeably off a roast leg of muttontwo
pheasantsand a perfect heap of cray-fish; he then directed his body to
be anointed with perfumed oilsin the manner of the wrestlers of old;
and when this anointment was completedhe had himself wrapped in
flannels and placed in a warm bed. Aramisas we have already saidhad
not retired. Seated at his ease in a velvet dressing-gownhe wrote
letter after letter in that fine and hurried handwritinga page of which
contained a quarter of a volume. The door was thrown hurriedly openand


the superintendent appearedpaleagitatedanxious. Aramis looked up:
Good-evening,said he; and his searching look detected his host's
sadness and disordered state of mind. "Was your play as good as his
majesty's?" asked Aramisby way of beginning the conversation.

Fouquet threw himself upon a couchand then pointed to the door to the
servant who had followed him; when the servant had left he said
Excellent.

Aramiswho had followed every movement with his eyesnoticed that he
stretched himself upon the cushions with a sort of feverish impatience.
You have lost as usual?inquired Aramishis pen still in his hand.

Even more than usual,replied Fouquet.

You know how to support losses?

Sometimes.

What, Monsieur Fouquet a bad player!

There is play and play, Monsieur d'Herblay.

How much have you lost?inquired Aramiswith a slight uneasiness.

Fouquet collected himself a momentand thenwithout the slightest
emotionsaidThe evening has cost me four millions,and a bitter
laugh drowned the last vibration of these words.

Aramiswho did not expect such an amountdropped his pen. "Four
millions he said; you have lost four millions- impossible!"

Monsieur Colbert held my cards for me,replied the superintendentwith
a similar bitter laugh.

Ah, now I understand; so, so, a new application for funds?

Yes, and from the king's own lips. It was impossible to ruin a man with
a more charming smile. What do you think of it?

It is clear that your destruction is the object in view.

That is your opinion?

Still. Besides, there is nothing in it which should astonish you, for
we have foreseen it all along.

Yes; but I did not expect four millions.

No doubt the amount is serious, but, after all, four millions are not
quite the death of a man, especially when the man in question is Monsieur
Fouquet.

My dear D'Herblay, if you knew the contents of my coffers, you would be
less easy.

And you promised?

What could I _do?_

That's true.

The very day I refuse, Colbert will procure the money; whence I know
not, but he _will_ procure it: and I shall be lost.


There is no doubt of that. In how many days did you promise the four
millions?

In three days. The king seemed exceedingly pressed.

_In three days?_

When I think,resumed Fouquetthat just now as I passed along the
streets, the people cried out, 'There is the rich Monsieur Fouquet,' it
is enough to turn my brain.

Stay, monsieur, the matter is not worth so much trouble,said Aramis
calmlysprinkling some sand over the letter he had just written.

Suggest a remedy, then, for this evil without a remedy.

There is only one remedy for you, - pay.

But it is very uncertain whether I have the money. Everything must be
exhausted; Belle-Isle is paid for; the pension has been paid; and money,
since the investigation of the accounts of those who farm the revenue, is
scarce. Besides, admitting that I pay this time, how can I do so on
another occasion? When kings have tasted money, they are like tigers who
have tasted flesh, they devour everything. The day will arrive - _must_
arrive - when I shall have to say, 'Impossible, sire,' and on that very
day I am a lost man.

Aramis raised his shoulders slightlysaying:

A man in your position, my lord, is only lost when he wishes to be so.

A man, whatever his position may be, cannot hope to struggle against a
king.

Nonsense; when I was young I wrestled successfully with the Cardinal
Richelieu, who was king of France, - nay more - cardinal.

Where are my armies, my troops, my treasures? I have not even Belle-
Isle.

Bah! necessity is the mother of invention, and when you think all is
lost, something will be discovered which will retrieve everything.

Who will discover this wonderful something?

Yourself.

I! I resign my office of inventor.

Then _I_ will.

Be it so. But set to work without delay.

Oh! we have time enough!

You kill me, D'Herblay, with your calmness,said the superintendent
passing his handkerchief over his face.

Do you not remember that I one day told you not to make yourself uneasy,
if you possessed courage? _Have_ you any?

I believe so.


Then don't make yourself uneasy.

It is decided then, that, at the last moment, you will come to my
assistance.

It will only be the repayment of a debt I owe you.

It is the vocation of financiers to anticipate the wants of men such as
yourself, D'Herblay.

If obligingness is the vocation of financiers, charity is the virtue of
the clergy. Only, on this occasion, do you act, monsieur. You are not
yet sufficiently reduced, and at the last moment we will see what is to
be done.

We shall see, then, in a very short time.

Very well. However, permit me to tell you that, personally, I regret
exceedingly that you are at present so short of money, because I myself
was about to ask you for some.

For yourself?
For myself, or some of my people, for mine or for ours.


How much do you want?


Be easy on that score; a roundish sum, it is true, but not too
exorbitant.
Tell me the amount.


Fifty thousand francs.


Oh! a mere nothing. Of course one has always fifty thousand francs.
Why the deuce cannot that knave Colbert be as easily satisfied as you are

-and I should give myself far less trouble than I do. When do you need
this sum?
To-morrow morning; but you wish to know its destination?

Nay, nay, chevalier, I need no explanation.
To-morrow is the first of June.


Well?
One of our bonds becomes due.


I did not know we had any bonds.
Certainly, to-morrow we pay our last third instalment.


What third?
Of the one hundred and fifty thousand francs to Baisemeaux.


Baisemeaux? Who is he?
The governor of the Bastile.


Yes, I remember. On what grounds am I to pay one hundred and fifty
thousand francs for that man.


On account of the appointment which he, or rather we, purchased from
Louviere and Tremblay.

I have a very vague recollection of the matter.

That is likely enough, for you have so many affairs to attend to.
However, I do not believe you have any affair in the world of greater
importance than this one.

Tell me, then, why we purchased this appointment.

Why, in order to render him a service in the first place, and afterwards
ourselves.

Ourselves? You are joking.

Monseigneur, the time may come when the governor of the Bastile may
prove a very excellent acquaintance.

I have not the good fortune to understand you, D'Herblay.

Monseigneur, we had our own poets, our own engineer, our own architect,
our own musicians, our own printer, and our own painters; we needed our
own governor of the Bastile.

Do you think so?

Let us not deceive ourselves, monseigneur; we are very much opposed to
paying the Bastile a visit,added the prelatedisplayingbeneath his
pale lipsteeth which were still the same beautiful teeth so much
admired thirty years previously by Marie Michon.

And you think it is not too much to pay one hundred and fifty thousand
francs for that? I thought you generally put out money at better
interest than that.

The day will come when you will admit your mistake.

My dear D'Herblay, the very day on which a man enters the Bastile, he is
no longer protected by his past.

Yes, he is, if the bonds are perfectly regular; besides, that good
fellow Baisemeaux has not a courtier's heart. I am certain, my lord,
that he will not remain ungrateful for that money, without taking into
account, I repeat, that I retain the acknowledgements.

It is a strange affair! usury in a matter of benevolence.

Do not mix yourself up with it, monseigneur; if there be usury, it is I
who practice it, and both of us reap the advantage from it - that is all.

Some intrigue, D'Herblay?

I do not deny it.

And Baisemeaux an accomplice in it?

Why not? - there are worse accomplices than he. May I depend, then,
upon the five thousand pistoles to-morrow?

Do you want them this evening?

It would be better, for I wish to start early; poor Baisemeaux will not
be able to imagine what has be become of me, and must be upon thorns.


You shall have the amount in an hour. Ah, D'Herblay, the interest of
your one hundred and fifty thousand francs will never pay my four
millions for me.

Why not, monseigneur?

Good-night, I have business to transact with my clerks before I retire.

A good night's rest, monseigneur.

D'Herblay, you wish things that are impossible.

Shall I have my fifty thousand francs this evening?

Yes.

Go to sleep, then, in perfect safety - it is I who tell you to do so.

Notwithstanding this assuranceand the tone in which it was given
Fouquet left the room shaking his headand heaving a sigh.

Chapter XXIII:

M. Baisemeaux de Montlezun's Accounts.
The clock of St. Paul was striking seven as Aramison horsebackdressed
as a simple citizenthat is to sayin colored suitwith no distinctive
mark about himexcept a kind of hunting-knife by his sidepassed before
the Rue du Petit-Muscand stopped opposite the Rue des Tournellesat
the gate of the Bastile. Two sentinels were on duty at the gate; they
made no difficulty about admitting Aramiswho entered without
dismountingand they pointed out the way he was to go by a long passage
with buildings on both sides. This passage led to the drawbridgeorin
other wordsto the real entrance. The drawbridge was downand the duty
of the day was about being entered upon. The sentinel at the outer
guardhouse stopped Aramis's further progressasking himin a rough tone
of voicewhat had brought him there. Aramis explainedwith his usual
politenessthat a wish to speak to M. Baisemeaux de Montlezun had
occasioned his visit. The first sentinel then summoned a second
sentinelstationed within an inner lodgewho showed his face at the
gratingand inspected the new arrival most attentively. Aramis
reiterated the expression of his wish to see the governor; whereupon the
sentinel called to an officer of lower gradewho was walking about in a
tolerably spacious courtyard and whoin turnon being informed of his
objectran to seek one of the officers of the governor's staff. The
latterafter having listened to Aramis's requestbegged him to wait a
momentthen went away a short distancebut returned to ask his name.
I cannot tell it you, monsieur,said Aramis; "I need only mention that
I have matters of such importance to communicate to the governorthat I
can only rely beforehand upon one thingthat M. de Baisemeaux will be
delighted to see me; naymore than thatwhen you have told him that it
is the person whom he expected on the first of JuneI am convinced he
will hasten here himself." The officer could not possibly believe that a
man of the governor's importance should put himself out for a person of
so little importance as the citizen-looking visitor on horseback. "It
happens most fortunatelymonsieur he said, that the governor is just
going outand you can perceive his carriage with the horses already
harnessedin the courtyard yonder; there will be no occasion for him to
come to meet youas he will see you as he passes by." Aramis bowed to
signify his assent; he did not wish to inspire others with too exalted an
opinion of himselfand therefore waited patiently and in silence
leaning upon the saddle-bow of his horse. Ten minutes had hardly elapsed
when the governor's carriage was observed to move. The governor appeared


at the doorand got into the carriagewhich immediately prepared to
start. The same ceremony was observed for the governor himself as with a
suspected stranger; the sentinel at the lodge advanced as the carriage
was about to pass under the archand the governor opened the carriagedoor
himself setting the example of obedience to orders; so thatin
this waythe sentinel could convince himself that no one quitted the
Bastile improperly. The carriage rolled along under the archwaybut at
the moment the iron-gate was openedthe officer approached the carriage
which had again been stoppedand said something to the governorwho
immediately put his head out of the door-wayand perceived Aramis on
horseback at the end of the drawbridge. He immediately uttered almost a
shout of delightand got outor rather darted out of his carriage
running towards Aramiswhose hands he seizedmaking a thousand
apologies. He almost embraced him. "What a difficult matter to enter
the Bastile!" said Aramis. "Is it the same for those who are sent here
against their willsas for those who come of their own accord?"

A thousand pardons, my lord. How delighted I am to see your Grace!

Hush! What are you thinking of, my dear M. Baisemeaux? What do you
suppose would be thought of a bishop in my present costume?

Pray, excuse me, I had forgotten. Take this gentleman's horse to the
stables,cried Baisemeaux.

No, no,said Aramis; "I have five thousand pistoles in the saddle-bags."

The governor's countenance became so radiantthat if the prisoners had
seen him they would have imagined some prince of the royal blood had
arrived. "Yesyou are rightthe horse shall be taken to the government
house. Will you get into the carriagemy dear M. d'Herblay? and it
shall take us back to my house."

Get into a carriage to cross a courtyard! do you believe I am so great
an invalid? No, no, we will go on foot.

Baisemeaux then offered his arm as a supportbut the prelate did not
accept it. They arrived in this manner at the government house
Baisemeaux rubbing his hands and glancing at the horse from time to time
while Aramis was looking at the bleak bare walls. A tolerably handsome
vestibule and a staircase of white stone led to the governor's
apartmentswho crossed the ante-chamberthe dining-roomwhere
breakfast was being preparedopened a small side doorand closeted
himself with his guest in a large cabinetthe windows of which opened
obliquely upon the courtyard and the stables. Baisemeaux installed the
prelate with that all-inclusive politeness of which a good manor a
grateful manalone possesses the secret. An arm-chaira footstoola
small table beside himon which to rest his handeverything was
prepared by the governor himself. With his own handstoohe placed
upon the tablewith much solicitudethe bag containing the goldwhich
one of the soldiers had brought up with the most respectful devotion; and
the soldier having left the roomBaisemeaux himself closed the door
after himdrew aside one of the window-curtainsand looked steadfastly
at Aramis to see if the prelate required anything further.

Well, my lord,he saidstill standing upof all men of their word,
you still continue to be the most punctual.

In matters of business, dear M. de Baisemeaux, exactitude is not a
virtue only, it is a duty as well.

Yes, in matters of business, certainly; but what you have with me is not
of that character; it is a service you are rendering me.


Come, confess, dear M. de Baisemeaux, that, notwithstanding this
exactitude, you have not been without a little uneasiness.

About your health, I certainly have,stammered out Baisemeaux.

I wished to come here yesterday, but I was not able, as I was too
fatigued,continued Aramis. Baisemeaux anxiously slipped another
cushion behind his guest's back. "But continued Aramis, I promised
myself to come and pay you a visit to-dayearly in the morning."

You are really very kind, my lord.

And it was a good thing for me I was punctual, I think.

What do you mean?

Yes, you were going out.At which latter remark Baisemeaux colored and
saidIt is true I was going out.

Then I prevent you,said Aramis; whereupon the embarrassment of
Baisemeaux became visibly greater. "I am putting you to inconvenience
he continued, fixing a keen glace upon the poor governor; if I had known
thatI should not have come."

How can your lordship imagine that you could ever inconvenience me?

Confess you were going in search of money.

No,stammered out Baisemeauxno! I assure you I was going to -

Does the governor still intend to go to M. Fouquet?suddenly called out
the major from below. Baisemeaux ran to the window like a madman. "No
no he exclaimed in a state of desperation, who the deuce is speaking
of M. Fouquet? are you drunk below there? why am I interrupted when I am
engaged on business?"

You were going to M. Fouquet's,said Aramisbiting his lipsto M.
Fouquet, the abbe, or the superintendent?

Baisemeaux almost made up his mind to tell an untruthbut he could not
summon courage to do so. "To the superintendent he said.

It is truethenthat you were in want of moneysince you were going
to a person who gives it away!"

I assure you, my lord -

You were afraid?

My dear lord, it was the uncertainty and ignorance in which I was as to
where you were to be found.

You would have found the money you require at M. Fouquet's, for he is a
man whose hand is always open.

I swear that I should never have ventured to ask M. Fouquet for money.
I only wished to ask him for your address.

To ask M. Fouquet for my address?exclaimed Aramisopening his eyes in
real astonishment.

Yes,said Baisemeauxgreatly disturbed by the glance which the prelate
fixed upon him- "at M. Fouquet's certainly."


There is no harm in that, dear M. Baisemeaux, only I would ask, why ask
my address of M. Fouquet?

That I might write to you.

I understand,said Aramis smilingbut that is not what I meant; I do
not ask you what you required my address for: I only ask why you should
go to M. Fouquet for it?

Oh!said Baisemeauxas Belle-Isle is the property of M. Fouquet, and
as Belle-Isle is in the diocese of Vannes, and as you are bishop of
Vannes -

But, my dear Baisemeaux, since you knew I was bishop of Vannes, you had
no occasion to ask M. Fouquet for my address.

Well, monsieur,said Baisemeauxcompletely at bayif I have acted
indiscreetly, I beg your pardon most sincerely.

Nonsense,observed Aramis calmly: "how can you possibly have acted
indiscreetly?" And while he composed his faceand continued to smile
cheerfully on the governorhe was considering how Baisemeauxwho was
not aware of his addressknewhoweverthat Vannes was his residence.
I shall clear all this up,he said to himself; and then speaking aloud
added- "Wellmy dear governor shall we now arrange our little
accounts?"

I am at your orders, my lord; but tell me beforehand, my lord, whether
you will do me the honor to breakfast with me as usual?

Very willingly, indeed.

That's well,said Baisemeauxas he struck the bell before him three
times.

What does that mean?inquired Aramis.

That I have some one to breakfast with me, and that preparations are to
be made accordingly.

And you rang thrice. Really, my dear governor, I begin to think you are
acting ceremoniously with me.

No, indeed. Besides, the least I can do is to receive you in the best
way I can.

But why so?

Because not even a prince could have done what you have done for me.

Nonsense! nonsense!

Nay, I assure you -

Let us speak of other matters,said Aramis. "Or rathertell me how
your affairs here are getting on."

Not over well.

The deuce!

M. de Mazarin was not hard enough.

Yes, I see; you require a government full of suspicion - like that of


the old cardinal, for instance.

Yes; matters went on better under him. The brother of his 'gray
eminence' made his fortune here.

Believe me, my dear governor,said Aramisdrawing closer to
Baisemeauxa young king is well worth an old cardinal. Youth has its
suspicions, its fits of anger, its prejudices, as old age has its
hatreds, its precautions, and its fears. Have you paid your three years'
profits to Louvidre and Tremblay?

Most certainly I have.

So that you have nothing more to give them than the fifty thousand
francs I have brought with me?

Nothing.

Have you not saved anything, then?

My lord, in giving the fifty thousand francs of my own to these
gentlemen, I assure you that I gave them everything I gain. I told M.
d'Artagnan so yesterday evening.

Ah!said Aramiswhose eyes sparkled for a momentbut became
immediately afterwards as unmoved as before; "so you have been to see my
old friend D'Artagnan; how was he?"

Wonderfully well.

And what did you say to him, M. de Baisemeaux?

I told him,continued the governornot perceiving his own
thoughtlessness; "I told him that I fed my prisoners too well."

How many have you?inquired Aramisin an indifferent tone of voice.

Sixty.

Well, that is a tolerably round number.

In former times, my lord, there were, during certain years, as many as
two hundred.

Still a minimum of sixty is not to be grumbled at.

Perhaps not; for, to anybody but myself, each prisoner would bring in
two hundred and fifty pistoles; for instance, for a prince of the blood I
have fifty francs a day.

Only you have no prince of the blood; at least, I suppose so,said
Aramiswith a slight tremor in his voice.

No, thank heaven! - I mean, no, unfortunately.

What do you mean by unfortunately?

Because my appointment would be improved by it. So fifty francs per day
for a prince of the blood, thirty-six for a marechal of France -

But you have as many marechals of France, I suppose, as you have princes
of the blood?

Alas! no more. It is true lieutenant-generals and brigadiers pay twenty



six francs, and I have two of them. After that, come councilors of
parliament, who bring me fifteen francs, and I have six of them.

I did not know,said Aramisthat councilors were so productive.

Yes; but from fifteen francs I sink at once to ten francs; namely, for
an ordinary judge, and for an ecclesiastic.

And you have seven, you say; an excellent affair.

Nay, a bad one, and for this reason. How can I possibly treat these
poor fellows, who are of some good, at all events, otherwise than as a
councilor of parliament?

Yes, you are right; I do not see five francs difference between them.

You understand; if I have a fine fish, I pay four or five francs for it;
if I get a fine fowl, it cost me a franc and a half. I fatten a good
deal of poultry, but I have to buy grain, and you cannot imagine the army
of rats that infest this place.

Why not get half a dozen cats to deal with them?

Cats, indeed; yes, they eat them, but I was obliged to give up the idea
because of the way in which they treated my grain. I have been obliged
to have some terrier dogs sent me from England to kill the rats. These
dogs, unfortunately, have tremendous appetites; they eat as much as a
prisoner of the fifth order, without taking into account the rabbits and
fowls they kill.

Was Aramis really listening or not? No one could have told; his downcast
eyes showed the attentive manbut the restless hand betrayed the man
absorbed in thought - Aramis was meditating.

I was saying,continued Baisemeauxthat a good-sized fowl costs me a
franc and a half, and that a fine fish costs me four or five francs.
Three meals are served at the Bastile, and, as the prisoners, having
nothing to do, are always eating, a ten-franc man costs me seven francs
and a half.

But did you not say that you treated those at ten francs like those at
fifteen?

Yes, certainly.

Very well! Then you gain seven francs and a half upon those who pay you
fifteen francs.

I _must_ compensate myself somehow,said Baisemeauxwho saw how he had
been snapped up.

You are quite right, my dear governor; but have you no prisoners below
ten francs?

Oh, yes! we have citizens and barristers at five francs.

And do they eat, too?

Not a doubt about it; only you understand that they do not get fish or
poultry, nor rich wines at every meal; but at all events thrice a week
they have a good dish at their dinner.

Really, you are quite a philanthropist, my dear governor, and you will
ruin yourself.


No; understand me; when the fifteen-franc has not eaten his fowl, or the
ten-franc has left his dish unfinished, I send it to the five-franc
prisoner; it is a feast for the poor devil, and one must be charitable,
you know.

And what do you make out of your five-franc prisoners?

A franc and a half.

Baisemeaux, you're an honest fellow; in honest truth I say so.

Thank you, my lord. But I feel most for the small tradesmen and
bailiffs' clerks, who are rated at three francs. They do not often see
Rhine carp or Channel sturgeon.

But do not the five-franc gentlemen sometimes leave some scraps?

Oh! my lord, do not believe I am so stingy as that; I delight the heart
of some poor little tradesman or clerk by sending him a wing of a red
partridge, a slice of venison, or a slice of a truffled pasty, dishes
which he never tasted except in his dreams; these are the leavings of
the twenty-four-franc prisoners; and as he eats and drinks, at dessert he
cries 'Long live the King,' and blesses the Bastile; with a couple
bottles of champagne, which cost me five sous, I make him tipsy every
Sunday. That class of people call down blessings upon me, and are sorry
to leave the prison. Do you know that I have remarked, and it does me
infinite honor, that certain prisoners, who have been set at liberty,
have, almost immediately afterwards, got imprisoned again? Why should
this be the case, unless it be to enjoy the pleasures of my kitchen? It
is really the fact.

Aramis smiled with an expression of incredulity.

You smile,said Baisemeaux.

I do,returned Aramis.

I tell you that we have names which have been inscribed on our books
thrice in the space of two years.

I must see it before I believe it,said Aramis.

Well, I can show it to you, although it is prohibited to communicate the
registers to strangers; and if you really wish to see it with your own
eyes -

I should be delighted, I confess.

Very well,said Baisemeauxand he took out of a cupboard a large
register. Aramis followed him most anxiously with his eyesand
Baisemeaux returnedplaced the register upon the tableand turned over
the leaves for a minuteand stayed at the letter M.

Look here,said heMartinier, January, 1659; Martinier, June, 1660;
Martinier, March, 1661. Mazarinades, etc.; you understand it was only a
pretext; people were not sent to the Bastile for jokes against M.
Mazarin; the fellow denounced himself in order to get imprisoned here.

And what was his object?

None other than to return to my kitchen at three francs a day.

Three francs - poor devil!


The poet, my lord, belongs to the lowest scale, the same style of board
as the small tradesman and bailiff's clerk; but I repeat, it is to those
people that I give these little surprises.

Aramis mechanically turned over the leaves of the registercontinuing to
read the namesbut without appearing to take any interest in the names
he read.

In 1661, you perceive,said Baisemeauxeighty entries; and in 1659,
eighty also.

Ah!said Aramis. "Seldon; I seem to know that name. Was it not you
who spoke to me about a certain young man?"

Yes, a poor devil of a student, who made - What do you call that where
two Latin verses rhyme together?

A distich.

Yes; that is it.
Poor fellow; for a distich.


Do you know that he made this distich against the Jesuits?


That makes no difference; the punishment seems very severe. Do not pity
him; last year you seemed to interest yourself in him.

Yes, I did so.

Well, as your interest is all-powerful here, my lord, I have treated him
since that time as a prisoner at fifteen francs.

The same as this one, then,said Aramiswho had continued turning over
the leavesand who had stopped at one of the names which followed
Martinier.

Yes, the same as that one.

Is that Marchiali an Italian?said Aramispointing with his finger to
the name which had attracted his attention.

Hush!said Baisemeaux.

Why hush?said Aramisinvoluntarily clenching his white hand.
I thought I had already spoken to you about that Marchiali.

No, it is the first time I ever heard his name pronounced.

That may be, but perhaps I have spoken to you about him without naming
him.
Is he an old offender?asked Aramisattempting to smile.


On the contrary, he is quite young.
Is his crime, then, very heinous?


Unpardonable.
Has he assassinated any one?



Bah!

An incendiary, then?

Bah!

Has he slandered any one?

No, no! It is he who - and Baisemeaux approached Aramis's earmaking
a sort of ear-trumpet of his handsand whispered: "It is he who presumes
to resemble the - "


Yes, yes,said Aramis; "I now remember you already spoke about it last
year to me; but the crime appeared to me so slight."


Slight, do you say?


Or rather, so involuntary.


My lord, it is not involuntarily that such a resemblance is detected.


Well, the fact is, I had forgotten it. But, my dear host,said Aramis
closing the registerif I am not mistaken, we are summoned.


Baisemeaux took the registerhastily restored it to its place in the
closetwhich he lockedand put the key in his pocket. "Will it be
agreeable to your lordship to breakfast now?" said he; "for you are right
in supposing that breakfast was announced."


Assuredly, my dear governor,and they passed into the dining-room.


Chapter XXIV:
The Breakfast at Monsieur de Baisemeaux's.


Aramis was generally temperate; but on this occasionwhile taking every
care of his constitutionhe did ample justice to Baisemeaux's breakfast
whichin all respectswas most excellent. The latter on his sidewas
animated with the wildest gayety; the sight of the five thousand
pistoleswhich he glanced at from time to timeseemed to open his
heart. Every now and then he looked at Aramis with an expression of the
deepest gratitude; while the latterleaning back in his chairtook a
few sips of wine from his glasswith the air of a connoisseur. "Let me
never hear any ill words against the fare of the Bastile said he, half
closing his eyes; happy are the prisoners who can get only half a bottle
of such Burgundy every day."


All those at fifteen francs drink it,said Baisemeaux. "It is very old
Volnay."


Does that poor student, Seldon, drink such good wine?


Oh, no!


I thought I heard you say he was boarded at fifteen francs.


He! no, indeed; a man who makes districts - distichs I mean - at fifteen
francs! No, no! it is his neighbor who is at fifteen francs.


Which neighbor?


The other, second Bertaudiere.


Excuse me, my dear governor; but you speak a language which requires



quite an apprenticeship to understand.

Very true,said the governor. "Allow me to explain: second Bertaudiere
is the person who occupies the second floor of the tower of the
Bertaudiere."

So that Bertaudiere is the name of one of the towers of the Bastile?
The fact is, I think I recollect hearing that each tower has a name of
its own. Whereabouts is the one you are speaking of?

Look,said Baisemeauxgoing to the window. "It is that tower to the
left - the second one."

Is the prisoner at fifteen francs there?

Yes.

Since when?

Seven or eight years, nearly.

What do you mean by nearly? Do you not know the dates more precisely?

It was not in my time, M. d'Herblay.

But I should have thought that Louviere or Tremblay would have told
you.

The secrets of the Bastile are never handed over with the keys of the
governorship.

Indeed! Then the cause of his imprisonment is a mystery - a state
secret.

Oh, no! I do not suppose it is a state secret, but a secret - like
everything that happens at the Bastile.

But,said Aramiswhy do you speak more freely of Seldon than of
second Bertaudiere?

Because, in my opinion, the crime of the man who writes a distich is not
so great as that of the man who resembles -

Yes, yes; I understand you. Still, do not the turnkeys talk with your
prisoners?

Of course.

The prisoners, I suppose, tell them they are not guilty?

They are _always_ telling them that; it is a matter of course; the same
song over and over again.

But does not the resemblance you were speaking about just now strike the
turnkeys?

My dear M. d'Herblay, it is only for men attached to the court, as you
are, to take trouble about such matters.

You're right, you're right, my dear M. Baisemeaux. Let me give you
another taste of this Volnay.

Not a taste merely, a full glass; fill yours too.


Nay, nay! You are a musketeer still, to the very tips of your fingers,
while I have become a bishop. A taste for me; a glass for yourself.

As you please.And Aramis and the governor nodded to each otheras
they drank their wine. "But said Aramis, looking with fixed attention
at the ruby-colored wine he had raised to the level of his eyes, as if he
wished to enjoy it with all his senses at the same moment, but what you
might call a resemblanceanother would notperhapstake any notice of."

Most certainly he would, though, if it were any one who knew the person
he resembles.

I really think, dear M. Baisemeaux, that it can be nothing more than a
resemblance of your own creation.

Upon my honor, it is not so.

Stay,continued Aramis. "I have seen many persons very like the one we
are speaking of; butout of respectno one ever said anything about it."

Very likely; because there is resemblance and resemblance. This is a
striking one, and, if you were to see him, you would admit it to be so.

If I were to see him, indeed,said Aramisin an indifferent tone; "but
in all probability I never shall."

Why not?

Because if I were even to put my foot inside one of those horrible
dungeons, I should fancy I was buried there forever.

No, no; the cells are very good places to live in.

I really do not, and cannot believe it, and that is a fact.

Pray do not speak ill of second Bertaudiere. It is really a good room,
very nicely furnished and carpeted. The young fellow has by no means
been unhappy there; the best lodging the Bastile affords has been his.
There is a chance for you.

Nay, nay,said Aramiscoldly; "you will never make me believe there
are any good rooms in the Bastile; andas for your carpetsthey exist
only in your imagination. I should find nothing but spidersratsand
perhaps toadstoo."

Toads?cried Baisemeaux.

Yes, in the dungeons.

Ah! I don't say there are not toads in the dungeons,replied
Baisemeaux. "But - will you be convinced by your own eyes?" he
continuedwith a sudden impulse.

No, certainly not.

Not even to satisfy yourself of the resemblance which you deny, as you
do the carpets?

Some spectral-looking person, a mere shadow; an unhappy, dying man.

Nothing of the kind - as brisk and vigorous a young fellow as ever
lived.

Melancholy and ill-tempered, then?


Not at all; very gay and lively.
Nonsense; you are joking.
Will you follow me?said Baisemeaux.
What for?
To go the round of the Bastile.
Why?
You will then see for yourself - see with your own eyes.
But the regulations?
Never mind them. To-day my major has leave of absence; the lieutenant


is visiting the post on the bastions; we are sole masters of the


situation.
No, no, my dear governor; why, the very idea of the sound of the bolts
makes me shudder. You will only have to forget me in second or fourth
Bertaudiere, and then -


You are refusing an opportunity that may never present itself again. Do
you know that, to obtain the favor I propose to you gratis, some of the
princes of the blood have offered me as much as fifty thousand francs.

Really! he must be worth seeing, then?

Forbidden fruit, my lord; forbidden fruit. You who belong to the church
ought to know that.
Well, if had any curiosity, it would be to see the poor author of the

distich.

Very well, we will see him, too; but if I were at all curious, it would
be about the beautiful carpeted room and its lodger.
Furniture is very commonplace; and a face with no expression in it

offers little or no interest.
But a boarder at fifteen francs is always interesting.
By the by, I forgot to ask you about that. Why fifteen francs for him,


and only three francs for poor Seldon?


The distinction made in that instance was a truly noble act, and one
which displayed the king's goodness of heart to great advantage.
The king's, you say.
The cardinal's, I mean. 'This unhappy man,' said M. Mazarin, 'is


destined to remain in prison forever.'
Why so?
Why, it seems that his crime is a lasting one; and, consequently, his


punishment ought to be so, too.
Lasting?
No doubt of it, unless he is fortunate enough to catch the small-pox,



and even that is difficult, for we never get any impure air here.

Nothing can be more ingenious than your train of reasoning, my dear M.
Baisemeaux. Do you, however, mean to say that this unfortunate man must
suffer without interruption or termination?

I did not say he was to suffer, my lord; a fifteen-franc boarder does
not suffer.

He suffers imprisonment, at all events.

No doubt; there is no help for that, but this suffering is sweetened for
him. You must admit that this young fellow was not born to eat all the
good things he does eat; for instance, such things as we have on the
table now; this pasty that has not been touched, these crawfish from the
River Marne, of which we have hardly taken any, and which are almost as
large as lobsters; all these things will at once be taken to second
Bertaudiere, with a bottle of that Volnay which you think so excellent.
After you have seen it you will believe it, I hope.

Yes, my dear governor, certainly; but all this time you are thinking
only of your very happy fifteen-franc prisoner, and you forget poor
Seldon, my _protege_.

Well, out of consideration for you, it shall be a gala day for him; he
shall have some biscuits and preserves with this small bottle of port.

You are a good-hearted fellow; I have said so already, and I repeat it,
my dear Baisemeaux.

Well, let us set off, then,said the governora little bewildered
partly from the wine he had drunkand partly from Aramis's praises.

Do not forget that I only go to oblige you,said the prelate.

Very well; but you will thank me when you get there.

Let us go, then.

Wait until I have summoned the jailer,said Baisemeauxas he struck
the bell twice; at which summons a man appeared. "I am going to visit
the towers said the governor. No guardsno drumsno noise at all."

If I were not to leave my cloak here,said Aramispretending to be
alarmedI should really think I was going to prison on my own account.

The jailer preceded the governorAramis walking on his right hand; some
of the soldiers who happened to be in the courtyard drew themselves up in
a lineas stiff as postsas the governor passed along. Baisemeaux led
the way down several steps which conducted to a sort of esplanade; thence
they arrived at the drawbridgewhere the sentinels on duty received the
governor with the proper honors. The governor turned toward Aramisand
speaking in such a tone that the sentinels could not lose a wordhe
observed- "I hope you have a good memorymonsieur?"

Why?inquired Aramis.

On account of your plans and your measurements, for you know that no one
is allowed, not architects even, to enter where the prisoners are, with
paper, pens or pencil.

Good,said Aramis to himselfit seems I am an architect, then. It
sounds like one of D'Artagnan's jokes, who perceived in me the engineer
of Belle-Isle.Then he added aloud: "Be easy on that scoremonsieur;


in our professiona mere glance and a good memory are quite sufficient."


Baisemeaux did not change countenanceand the soldiers took Aramis for
what he seemed to be. "Very well; we will first visit la Bertaudiere
said Baisemeaux, still intending the sentinels to hear him. Then,
turning to the jailer, he added: You will take the opportunity of
carrying to No. 2 the few dainties I pointed out."


Dear M. de Baisemeaux,said Aramisyou are always forgetting No. 3.


So I am,said the governor; and upon thatthey began to ascend. The
number of boltsgratingsand locks for this single courtyard would have
sufficed for the safety of an entire city. Aramis was neither an
imaginative nor a sensitive man; he had been somewhat of a poet in his
youthbut his heart was hard and indifferentas the heart of every man
of fifty-five years of age iswho has been frequently and passionately
attached to women in his lifetimeor rather who has been passionately
loved by them. But when he placed his foot upon the worn stone steps
along which so many unhappy wretches had passedwhen he felt himself
impregnatedas it werewith the atmosphere of those gloomy dungeons
moistened with tearsthere could be but little doubt he was overcome by
his feelingsfor his head was bowed and his eyes became dimas he
followed Baisemeaux without a syllable.


Chapter XXV:
The Second Floor of la Bertaudiere.


On the second flight of stairswhether from fatigue or emotionthe
breathing of the visitor began to fail himand he leaned against the
wall. "Will you begin with this one?" said Baisemeaux; "for since we are
going to bothit matters very little whether we ascend from the second
to the third storyor descend from the third to the second."


No, no,exclaimed Aramiseagerlyhigher, if you please; the one
above is the more urgent.They continued their ascent. "Ask the jailer
for the keys whispered Aramis. Baisemeaux did so, took the keys, and,
himself, opened the door of the third room. The jailer was the first to
enter; he placed upon the table the provisions, which the kind-hearted
governor called dainties, and then left the room. The prisoner had not
stirred; Baisemeaux then entered, while Aramis remained at the threshold,
from which place he saw a youth about eighteen years of age, who, raising
his head at the unusual noise, jumped off the bed, as he perceived the
governor, and clasping his hands together, began to cry out, My mother
my mother in tones which betrayed such deep distress that Aramis,
despite his command over himself, felt a shudder pass through his frame.
My dear boy said Baisemeaux, endeavoring to smile, I have brought you
a diversion and an extra- the one for the mindthe other for the body;
this gentleman has come to take your measureand here are some preserves
for your dessert."


Oh, monsieurexclaimed the young mankeep me in solitude for a year,
let me have nothing but bread and water for a year, but tell me that at
the end of a year I shall leave this place, tell me that at the end of a
year I shall see my mother again.


But I have heard you say that your mother was very poor, and that you
were very badly lodged when you were living with her, while here - upon
my word!


If she were poor, monsieur, the greater reason to restore her only means
of support to her. Badly lodged with her! Oh, monsieur, every one is
always well lodged when he is free.



At all events, since you yourself admit you have done nothing but write
that unhappy distich -

But without any intention, I swear. Let me be punished - cut off the
hand which wrote it, I will work with the other - but restore my mother
to me.

My boy,said Baisemeauxyou know very well that it does not depend
upon me; all I can do for you is to increase your rations, give you a
glass of port wine now and then, slip in a biscuit for you between a
couple of plates.

Great heaven!exclaimed the young manfalling backward and rolling on
the ground.

Aramisunable to bear this scene any longerwithdrew as far as the
landing. "Unhappywretched man he murmured.

Yesmonsieurhe is indeed very wretched said the jailer; but it is
his parents' fault."

In what way?

No doubt. Why did they let him learn Latin? Too much knowledge, you
see; it is that which does harm. Now I, for instance, can't read or
write, and therefore I am not in prison.Aramis looked at the manwho
seemed to think that being a jailer in the Bastile was not being in
prison. As for Baisemeauxnoticing the little effect produced by his
advice and his port winehe left the dungeon quite upset. "You have
forgotten to close the door said the jailer.

So I have said Baisemeaux; there are the keysdo you do it."

I will solicit the pardon of that poor boy,said Aramis.

And if you do not succeed,said Baisemeauxat least beg that he may
be transferred to the ten-franc list, by which both he and I shall be
gainers.

If the other prisoner calls out for his mother in a similar manner,
said AramisI prefer not to enter at all, but will take my measure from
outside.

No fear of that, monsieur architect, the one we are now going to see is
as gentle as a lamb; before he could call after his mother he must open
his lips, and he never says a word.

Let us go in, then,said Aramisgloomily.

Are you the architect of the prisons, monsieur?said the jailer.

I am.

It is odd, then, that you are not more accustomed to all this.

Aramis perceived thatto avoid giving rise to any suspicionshe must
summon all his strength of mind to his assistance. Baisemeauxwho
carried the keysopened the door. "Stay outside he said to the
jailer, and wait for us at the bottom of the steps." The jailer obeyed
and withdrew.

Baisemeaux entered firstand opened the second door himself. By the
light which filtered through the iron-barred windowcould be seen a
handsome young manshort in staturewith closely cut hairand a beard


beginning to grow; he was sitting on a stoolhis elbow resting on an
armchairand with all the upper part of his body reclining against it.
His dressthrown upon the bedwas of rich black velvetand he inhaled
the fresh air which blew in upon his breast through a shirt of the very
finest cambric. As the governor enteredthe young man turned his head
with a look full of indifference; and on recognizing Baisemeauxhe arose
and saluted him courteously. But when his eyes fell upon Aramiswho
remained in the backgroundthe latter trembledturned paleand his
hatwhich he held in his handfell upon the groundas if all his
muscles had become relaxed at once. Baisemeauxhabituated to the
presence of his prisonerdid not seem to share any of the sensations
which Aramis experiencedbutwith all the zeal of a good servanthe
busied himself in arranging on the table the pasty and crawfish he had
brought with him. Occupied in this mannerhe did not remark how
disturbed his guest had become. When he had finishedhoweverhe turned
to the young prisoner and said: "You are looking very well- are you so?"

Quite well, I thank you, monsieur,replied the young man.

The effect of the voice was such as almost to overpower Aramisand
notwithstanding his control over himselfhe advanced a few steps towards
himwith his eyes wide open and his lips trembling. The movement he
made was so marked that Baisemeauxnotwithstanding his preoccupation
observed it. "This gentleman is an architect who has come to examine
your chimney said Baisemeaux; does it smoke?"

Never, monsieur.

You were saying just now,said the governorrubbing his hands
togetherthat it was not possible for a man to be happy in prison;
here, however, is one who is so. You have nothing to complain of, I
hope?

Nothing.

Do you ever feel weary?said Aramis.

Never.

Ha, ha,said Baisemeauxin a low tone of voice; "was I right?"

Well, my dear governor, it is impossible not to yield to evidence. Is
it allowed to put any question to him?

As many as you like.

Very well; be good enough to ask him if he knows why he is here.

This gentleman requests me to ask you,said Baisemeauxif you are
aware of the cause of your imprisonment?

No, monsieur,said the young manunaffectedlyI am not.

That is hardly possible,said Aramiscarried away by his feelings in
spite of himself; "if you were really ignorant of the cause of your
detentionyou would be furious."

I was so during the early days of my imprisonment.

Why are you not so now?

Because I have reflected.

That is strange,said Aramis.


Is it not odd?said Baisemeaux.
May one venture to ask you, monsieur, on what you have reflected?
I felt that as I had committed no crime, Heaven could not punish me.
What is a prison, then,inquired Aramisif it be not a punishment.
Alas! I cannot tell,said the young man; "all that I can tell you now


is the very opposite of what I felt seven years ago."


To hear you converse, to witness your resignation, one might almost
believe that you liked your imprisonment?
I endure it.
In the certainty of recovering your freedom some day, I suppose?
I have no certainty; hope, I have, and that is all; and yet I


acknowledge that this hope becomes less every day.
Still, why should you not again be free, since you have already been so?
That is precisely the reason,replied the young manwhich prevents me


from expecting liberty; why should I have been imprisoned at all if it
had been intended to release me afterwards?
How old are you?
I do not know.
What is your name?
I have forgotten the name by which I was called.
Who are your parents?
I never knew them.
But those who brought you up?
They did not call me their son.
Did you ever love any one before coming here?
I loved my nurse, and my flowers.
Was that all?
I also loved my valet.
Do you regret your nurse and your valet?
I wept very much when they died.
Did they die since you have been here, or before you came?
They died the evening before I was carried off.
Both at the same time?
Yes, both at the same time.



In what manner were you carried off?


A man came for me, directed me to get into a carriage, which was closed
and locked, and brought me here.
Would you be able to recognize that man again?
He was masked.
Is this not an extraordinary tale?said Baisemeauxin a low tone of


voiceto Aramiswho could hardly breathe.
It is indeed extraordinary,he murmured.
But what is still more extraordinary is, that he has never told me so


much as he has just told you.


Perhaps the reason may be that you have never questioned him,said
Aramis.
It's possible,replied Baisemeaux; "I have no curiosity. Have you


looked at the room? it's a fine oneis it not?"
Very much so.
A carpet -
Beautiful.
I'll wager he had nothing like it before he came here.
I think so, too.And then again turning towards the young manhe


saidDo you not remember to have been visited at some time or another


by a strange lady or gentleman?
Yes, indeed; thrice by a woman, who each time came to the door in a
carriage, and entered covered with a veil, which she raised when we were
together and alone.


Do you remember that woman?


Yes.


What did she say to you?


The young man smiled mournfullyand then repliedShe inquired, as you


have just done, if I were happy, and if I were getting weary.
What did she do on arriving, and on leaving you?
She pressed me in her arms, held me in her embrace, and kissed me.
Do you remember her?
Perfectly.
Do you recall her features distinctly?
Yes.
You would recognize her, then, if accident brought her before you, or


led you into her person?
Most certainly.



A flush of fleeting satisfaction passed across Aramis's face. At this
moment Baisemeaux heard the jailer approaching. "Shall we leave?" he
saidhastilyto Aramis.

Aramiswho probably had learnt all that he cared to knowrepliedWhen
you like.

The young man saw them prepare to leaveand saluted them politely.
Baisemeaux replied merely by a nod of the headwhile Aramiswith a
respectarising perhaps from the sight of such misfortunesaluted the
prisoner profoundly. They left the roomBaisemeaux closing the door
behind them.

Well,said Baisemeauxas they descended the staircasewhat do you
think of it all?

I have discovered the secret, my dear governor,he said.
Bah! what is the secret, then?

A murder was committed in that house.
Nonsense.

But attend; the valet and nurse died the same day.
Well.

And by poison. What do you think?
That is very likely to be true.

What! that that young man is an assassin?

Who said that? What makes you think that poor young fellow could be an
assassin?

The very thing I was saying. A crime was committed in his house,said
Aramisand that was quite sufficient; perhaps he saw the criminals, and
it was feared that he might say something.

The deuce! if I only thought that -

Well?
I would redouble the surveillance.


Oh, he does not seem to wish to escape.
You do not know what prisoners are.


Has he any books?
None; they are strictly prohibited, and under M. de Mazarin's own hand.


Have you the writing still?


Yes, my lord; would you like to look at it as you return to take your
cloak?

I should, for I like to look at autographs.
Well, then, this one is of the most unquestionable authenticity; there



is only one erasure.

Ah, ah! an erasure; and in what respect?

With respect to a figure. At first there was written: 'To be boarded at
fifty francs.'

As princes of the blood, in fact?

But the cardinal must have seen his mistake, you understand; for he
canceled the zero, and has added a one before the five. But, by the by

-
What?

You do not speak of the resemblance.

I do not speak of it, dear M. de Baisemeaux, for a very simple reason
because it does not exist.

The deuce it doesn't.

Or, if it does exist, it is only in your own imagination; but, supposing
it were to exist elsewhere, I think it would be better for you not to
speak of about it.

Really.

The king, Louis XIV. - you understand - would be excessively angry with
you, if he were to learn that you contributed in any way to spread the
report that one of his subjects has the effrontery to resemble him.

It is true, quite true,said Baisemeauxthoroughly alarmed; "but I
have not spoken of the circumstance to any one but yourselfand you
understandmonseigneurthat I perfectly rely on your discretion."

Oh, be easy.

Do you still wish to see the note?

Certainly.

While engaged in this manner in conversationthey had returned to the
governor's apartments; Baisemeaux took from the cupboard a private
registerlike the one he had already shown Aramisbut fastened by a
lockthe key which opened it being one of a small bunch which Baisemeaux
always carried with him. Then placing the book upon the tablehe opened
it at the letter "M and showed Aramis the following note in the column
of observations: No books at any time; all linen and clothes of the
finest and best quality to be procured; no exercise; always the same
jailer; no communications with any one. Musical instruments; every
liberty and every indulgence which his welfare may require; to be boarded
at fifteen francs. M. de Baisemeaux can claim more if the fifteen francs
be not sufficient."

Ah,said Baisemeauxnow I think of it, I shall claim it.

Aramis shut the book. "Yes he said, it is indeed M. de Mazarin's
handwriting; I recognize it well. Nowmy dear governor he continued,
as if this last communication had exhausted his interest, let us now
turn over to our own little affairs."

Well, what time for repayment do you wish me to take? Fix it yourself.


There need not be any particular period fixed; give me a simple
acknowledgement for one hundred and fifty thousand francs.

When to be made payable?

When I require it; but, you understand, I shall only wish it when you
yourself do.

Oh, I am quite easy on that score,said Baisemeauxsmiling; "but I
have already given you two receipts."

Which I now destroy,said Aramis; and after having shown the two
receipts to Baisemeauxhe destroyed them. Overcome by so great a mark
of confidenceBaisemeaux unhesitatingly wrote out an acknowledgement of
a debt of one hundred and fifty thousand francspayable at the pleasure
of the prelate. Aramiswho hadby glancing over the governor's
shoulderfollowed the pen as he wroteput the acknowledgement into his
pocket without seeming to have read itwhich made Baisemeaux perfectly
easy. "Now said Aramis, you will not be angry with me if I were to
carry off one of your prisoners?"

What do you mean?

By obtaining his pardon, of course. Have I not already told you that I
took a great interest in poor Seldon?

Yes, quite true, you did so.

Well?

That is your affair; do as you think proper. I see you have an open
hand, and an arm that can reach a great way.

Adieu, adieu.And Aramis leftcarrying with him the governor's best
wishes.

Chapter XXVI:
The Two Friends.

At the very time M. de Baisemeaux was showing Aramis the prisoners in the
Bastilea carriage drew up at Madame de Belliere's doorandat that
still early houra young woman alightedher head muffled in a silk
hood. When the servants announced Madame Vanel to Madame de Belliere
the latter was engagedor rather was absorbedin reading a letter
which she hurriedly concealed. She had hardly finished her morning
toiletteher maid being still in the next room. At the name - at the
footsteps of Marguerite VanelMadame de Belliere ran to meet her. She
fancied she could detect in her friend's eyes a brightness which was
neither that of health nor of pleasure. Marguerite embraced herpressed
her handsand hardly allowed her time to speak. "Dearest she said,
have you forgotten me? Have you quite given yourself up to the
pleasures of the court?"

I have not even seen the marriage _fetes_.

What are you doing with yourself, then?

I am getting ready to leave for Belliere.

For Belliere?

Yes.


You are becoming rustic in your tastes, then; I delight to see you so
disposed. But you are pale.

No, I am perfectly well.

So much the better; I was becoming uneasy about you. You do not know
what I have been told.

People say so many things.

Yes, but this is very singular.

How well you know how to excite curiosity, Marguerite.

Well, I was afraid of vexing you.

Never; you have yourself always admired me for my evenness of temper.

Well, then, it is said that - no, I shall never be able to tell you.

Do not let us talk about it, then,said Madame de Bellierewho
detected the ill-nature that was concealed by all these prefacesyet
felt the most anxious curiosity on the subject.

Well, then, my dear marquise, it is said, for some time past, you no
longer continue to regret Monsieur de Belliere as you used to.

It is an ill-natured report, Marguerite. I do regret, and shall always
regret, my husband; but it is now two years since he died. I am only
twenty-eight years old, and my grief at his loss ought not always to
control every action and thought of my life. You, Marguerite, who are
the model of a wife, would not believe me if I were to say so.

Why not? Your heart is so soft and yielding,she saidspitefully.

Yours is so, too, Marguerite, and yet I did not perceive that you
allowed yourself to be overcome by grief when your heart was wounded.
These words were in direct allusion to Marguerite's rupture with the
superintendentand were also a veiled but direct reproach made against
her friend's heart.

As if she only awaited this signal to discharge her shaftMarguerite
exclaimedWell, Elise, it is said you are in love.And she looked
fixedly at Madame de Bellierewho blushed against her will.

Women can never escape slander,replied the marquiseafter a moment's
pause.

No one slanders you, Elise.

What! - people say that I am in love, and yet they do not slander me!

In the first place, if it be true, it is no slander, but simply a
scandal-loving report. In the next place - for you did not allow me to
finish what I was saying - the public does not assert that you have
abandoned yourself to this passion. It represents you, on the contrary,
as a virtuous but loving woman, defending yourself with claws and teeth,
shutting yourself up in your own house as in a fortress; in other
respects, as impenetrable as that of Danae, notwithstanding Danae's tower
was made of brass.

You are witty, Marguerite,said Madame de Belliereangrily.

You always flatter me, Elise. In short, however, you are reported to be


incorruptible and unapproachable. You cannot decide whether the world is
calumniating you or not; but what is it you are musing about while I am
speaking to you?

I?

Yes; you are blushing and do not answer me.

I was trying,said the marquiseraising her beautiful eyes brightened
with an indication of growing temperI was trying to discover to what
you could possibly have alluded, you who are so learned in mythological
subjects, in comparing me to Danae.

You were trying to guess that?said Margueritelaughing.

Yes; do you not remember that at the convent, when we were solving our
problems in arithmetic - ah! what I have to tell you is learned also, but
it is my turn - do you not remember, that if one of the terms were given,
we were to find the other? Therefore do _you_ guess now?

I cannot conjecture what you mean.

And yet nothing is more simple. You pretend that I am in love, do you
not?

So it is said.

Very well; it is not said, I suppose, that I am in love with an
abstraction. There must surely be a name mentioned in this report.

Certainly, a name is mentioned.

Very well; it is not surprising, then, that I should try to guess this
name, since you do not tell it.

My dear marquise, when I saw you blush, I did not think you would have
to spend much time in conjectures.

It was the word Danae which you used that surprised me. Danae means a
shower of gold, does it not?

That is to say that the Jupiter of Danae changed himself into a shower
of gold for her.

My lover, then, he whom you assign me -

I beg your pardon; I am your friend, and assign you no one.

That may be; but those who are ill disposed towards me.

Do you wish to hear the name?

I have been waiting this half hour for it.

Well, then, you shall hear it. Do not be shocked; he is a man high in
power.

Good,said the marquiseas she clenched her hands like a patient at
the approach of the knife.

He is a very wealthy man,continued Marguerite; "the wealthiestit may
be. In a wordit is - "

The marquise closed her eyes for a moment.


It is the Duke of Buckingham,said Margueritebursting into laughter.
This perfidy had been calculated with extreme ability; the name that was
pronouncedinstead of the name which the marquise awaitedhad precisely
the same effect upon her as the badly sharpened axesthat had hacked
without destroyingMessieurs de Chalais and de Thou upon the scaffold.
She recovered herselfhoweverand saidI was perfectly right in
saying you were a witty woman, for you are making the time pass away most
agreeably. This joke is a most amusing one, for I have never seen the
Duke of Buckingham.

Never?said Margueriterestraining her laughter.

I have never even left my own house since the duke has been at Paris.

Oh!resumed Madame Vanelstretching out her foot towards a paper which
was lying on the carpet near the window; "it is not necessary for people
to see each othersince they can write." The marquise trembledfor
this paper was the envelope of the letter she was reading as her friend
had enteredand was sealed with the superintendent's arms. As she
leaned back on the sofa on which she was sittingMadame de Belliere
covered the paper with the thick folds of her large silk dressand so
concealed it.

Come, Marguerite, tell me, is it to tell me all these foolish reports
that you have come to see me so early in the day?

No; I came to see you, in the first place, and to remind you of those
habits of our earlier days, so delightful to remember, when we used to
wander about together at Vincennes, and, sitting beneath an oak, or in
some sylvan shade, used to talk of those we loved, and who loved us.

Do you propose that we should go out together now?

My carriage is here, and I have three hours at my disposal.

I am not dressed yet, Marguerite; but if you wish that we should talk
together, we can, without going to the woods of Vincennes, find in my own
garden here, beautiful trees, shady groves, a green sward covered with
daisies and violets, the perfume of which can be perceived from where we
are sitting.

I regret your refusal, my dear marquise, for I wanted to pour out my
whole heart into yours.

I repeat again, Marguerite, my heart is yours just as much in this room,
or beneath the lime-trees in the garden here, as it would be under the
oaks in the woods yonder.

It is not the same thing for me. In approaching Vincennes, marquise, my
ardent aspirations approach nearer to that object towards which they have
for some days past been directed.The marquise suddenly raised her
head. "Are you surprisedthenthat I am still thinking of Saint-Mande?"

Of Saint-Mande?exclaimed Madame de Belliere; and the looks of both
women met each other like two resistless swords.

You, so proud!said the marquisedisdainfully.

I, so proud!replied Madame Vanel. "Such is my nature. I do not
forgive neglect - I cannot endure infidelity. When I leave any one who
weeps at my abandonmentI feel induced still to love him; but when
others forsake me and laugh at their infidelityI love distractedly."


Madame de Belliere could not restrain an involuntary movement.

She is jealous,said Marguerite to herself.

Then,continued the marquiseyou are quite enamored of the Duke of
Buckingham - I mean of M. Fouquet?Elise felt the allusionand her
blood seemed to congeal in her heart. "And you wished to go to
Vincennes- to Saint-Mandeeven?"

I hardly know what I wished: you would have advised me perhaps.

In what respect?

You have often done so.

Most certainly I should not have done so in the present instance, for I
do not forgive as you do. I am less loving, perhaps; when my heart has
been once wounded, it remains so always.

But M. Fouquet has not wounded you,said Marguerite Vanelwith the
most perfect simplicity.

You perfectly understand what I mean. M. Fouquet has not wounded me; I
do not know of either obligation or injury received at his hands, but you
have reason to complain of him. You are my friend, and I am afraid I
should not advise you as you would like.

Ah! you are prejudging the case.

The sighs you spoke of just now are more than indications.

You overwhelm me,said the young woman suddenlyas if collecting her
whole strengthlike a wrestler preparing for a last struggle; "you take
only my evil dispositions and my weaknesses into calculationand do not
speak of my pure and generous feelings. Ifat this momentI feel
instinctively attracted towards the superintendentif I even make an
advance to himwhichI confessis very probablemy motive for it is
that M. Fouquet's fate deeply affects meand because he isin my
opinionone of the most unfortunate men living."

Ah!said the marquiseplacing her hand upon her heartsomething new,
then, has occurred?

Do you not know it?

I am utterly ignorant of everything about him,said Madame de Belliere
with the poignant anguish that suspends thought and speechand even life
itself.

In the first place, then, the king's favor is entirely withdrawn from M.
Fouquet, and conferred on M. Colbert.

So it is stated.

It is very clear, since the discovery of the plot of Belle-Isle.

I was told that the discovery of the fortifications there had turned out
to M. Fouquet's honor.

Marguerite began to laugh in so cruel a manner that Madame de Belliere
could at that moment have delightedly plunged a dagger in her bosom.
Dearest,continued Margueritethere is no longer any question of M.
Fouquet's honor; his safety is concerned. Before three days are passed
the ruin of the superintendent will be complete.


Stay,said the marquisein her turn smilingthat is going a little
fast.

I said three days, because I wish to deceive myself with a hope; but
probably the catastrophe will be complete within twenty-four hours.

Why so?

For the simplest of all reasons, - that M. Fouquet has no more money.

In matters of finance, my dear Marguerite, some are without money today,
who to-morrow can procure millions.

That might be M. Fouquet's case when he had two wealthy and clever
friends who amassed money for him, and wrung it from every possible or
impossible source; but those friends are dead.

Money does not die, Marguerite; it may be concealed, but it can be
looked for, bought and found.

You see things on the bright side, and so much the better for your. It
is really very unfortunate that you are not the Egeria of M. Fouquet; you
might now show him the source whence he could obtain the millions which
the king asked him for yesterday.

Millions!said the marquisein terror.

Four - an even number.

Infamous!murmured Madame de Bellieretortured by her friend's
merciless delight.

M. Fouquet, I should think, must certainly have four millions,she
repliedcourageously.

If he has those which the king requires to-day,said Margueritehe
will not, perhaps, possess those which the king will demand in a month or
so.

The king will exact money from him again, then?

No doubt; and that is my reason for saying that the ruin of poor M.
Fouquet is inevitable. Pride will induce him to furnish the money, and
when he has no more, he will fall.

It is true,said the marquisetrembling; "the plan is a bold one; but
tell medoes M. Colbert hate M. Fouquet so very much?"

I think he does not like him. M. Colbert is powerful; he improves on
close acquaintance; he has gigantic ideas, a strong will, and discretion;
he will rise.

He will be superintendent?

It is probable. Such is the reason, my dear marquise, why I felt myself
impressed in favor of that poor man, who once loved, and even adored me;
and why, when I see him so unfortunate, I forgive his infidelity, which I
have reason to believe he also regrets; and why, moreover, I should not
have been disinclined to afford him some consolation, or some good
advice; he would have understood the step I had taken, and would have
thought kindly of me for it. It is gratifying to be loved, you know.
Men value love more highly when they are no longer blinded by its
influence.


The marquisebewildered and overcome by these cruel attackswhich had
been calculated with the greatest nicety and precisionhardly knew what
to answer in return; she even seemed to have lost all power of thought.
Her perfidious friend's voice had assumed the most affectionate tone; she
spoke as a womanbut concealed the instincts of a wolf.

Well,said Madame de Bellierewho had a vague hope that Marguerite
would cease to overwhelm a vanquished enemywhy do you not go and see

M. Fouquet?
Decidedly, marquise, you have made me reflect. No, it would be
unbecoming for me to make the first advance. M. Fouquet no doubt loves
me, but he is too proud. I cannot expose myself to an affront....
besides, I have my husband to consider. You tell me nothing? Very well,
I shall consult M. Colbert on the subject.Marguerite rose smilingly
as though to take leavebut the marquise had not the strength to imitate
her. Marguerite advanced a few pacesin order that she might continue
to enjoy the humiliating grief in which her rival was plungedand then
saidsuddenly- "You do not accompany me to the doorthen?" The
marquise rosepale and almost lifelesswithout thinking of the
envelopewhich had occupied her attention so greatly at the commencement
of the conversationand which was revealed at the first step she took.
She then opened the door of her oratoryand without even turning her
head towards Marguerite Vanelentered itclosing the door after her.
Marguerite saidor rather muttered a few wordswhich Madame de Belliere
did not even hear. As soonhoweveras the marquise had disappeared
her envious enemynot being able to resist the desire to satisfy herself
that her suspicions were well foundedadvanced stealthily like a
pantherand seized the envelope. "Ah!" she saidgnashing her teeth
it was indeed a letter from M. Fouquet she was reading when I arrived,
and then darted out of the room. During this intervalthe marquise
having arrived behind the rampartas it wereof her doorfelt that her
strength was failing her; for a moment she remained rigidpale and
motionless as a statueand thenlike a statue shaken on its base by an
earthquaketottered and fell inanimate on the carpet. The noise of the
fall resounded at the same moment as the rolling of Marguerite's carriage
leaving the hotel.


Chapter XXVII:
Madame de Belliere's Plate.


The blow had been the more painful on account of its being unexpected.
It was some time before the marquise recovered herself; but once
recoveredshe began to reflect upon the events so heartlessly announced
to her. She therefore returnedat the risk even of losing her life in
the wayto that train of ideas which her relentless friend had forced
her to pursue. Treasonthen - deep menacesconcealed under the
semblance of public interest - such were Colbert's maneuvers. A
detestable delight at an approaching downfalluntiring efforts to attain
this objectmeans of seduction no less wicked than the crime itself
such were the weapons Marguerite employed. The crooked atoms of
Descartes triumphed; to the man without compassion was united a woman
without heart. The marquise perceivedwith sorrow rather than
indignationthat the king was an accomplice in the plot which betrayed
the duplicity of Louis XIII. in his advanced ageand the avarice of
Mazarin at a period of life when he had not had the opportunity of
gorging himself with French gold. The spirit of this courageous woman
soon resumed its energyno longer overwhelmed by indulgence in
compassionate lamentations. The marquise was not one to weep when action
was necessarynor to waste time in bewailing a misfortune as long as
means still existed of relieving it. For some minutes she buried her
face in her cold fingersand thenraising her headrang for her



attendants with a steady handand with a gesture betraying a fixed
determination of purpose. Her resolution was taken.

Is everything prepared for my departure?she inquired of one of her
female attendants who entered.

Yes, madame; but it was not expected that your ladyship would leave for
Belliere for the next few days.

All my jewels and articles of value, then, are packed up?

Yes, madame; but hitherto we have been in the habit of leaving them in
Paris. Your ladyship does not generally take your jewels with you into
the country.

But they are all in order, you say?

Yes, in your ladyship's own room.

The gold plate?

In the chest.

And the silver plate?

In the great oak closet.

The marquise remained silent for a few momentsand then said calmly
Let my goldsmith be sent for.

Her attendants quitted the room to execute the order. The marquise
howeverhad entered her own roomand was inspecting her casket of
jewels with the greatest attention. Neveruntil nowhad she bestowed
such close attention upon riches in which women take so much pride;
neveruntil nowhad she looked at her jewelsexcept for the purpose of
making a selection according to their settings or their colors. On this
occasionhowevershe admired the size of the rubies and the brilliancy
of the diamonds; she grieved over every blemish and every defect; she
thought the gold lightand the stones wretched. The goldsmithas he
enteredfound her thus occupied. "M. Faucheux she said, I believe
you supplied me with my gold service?"

I did, your ladyship.

I do not now remember the amount of the account.

Of the new service, madame, or of that which M. de Belliere presented to
you on your marriage? for I have furnished both.

First of all, the new one.

The covers, the goblets, and the dishes, with their covers, the _eauepergne_,
the ice-pails, the dishes for the preserves, and the tea and
coffee urns, cost your ladyship sixty thousand francs.

No more?

Your ladyship thought the account very high.

Yes, yes; I remember, in fact, that it was dear; but it was the
workmanship, I suppose?

Yes, madame; the designs, the chasings - all new patterns.


What proportion of the cost does the workmanship form? Do not hesitate
to tell me.

A third of its value, madame.

There is the other service, the old one, that which belonged to my
husband?

Yes, madame; there is less workmanship in that than in the other. Its
intrinsic value does not exceed thirty thousand francs.

Thirty thousand,murmured the marquise. "ButM. Faucheuxthere is
also the service which belonged to my mother; all that massive plate
which I did not wish to part withon account of the associations
connected with it."

Ah! madame, that would indeed be an excellent resource for those who,
unlike your ladyship, might not be in position to keep their plate. In
chasing that they worked in solid metal. But that service is no longer
in fashion. Its weight is its only advantage.

That is all I care about. How much does it weigh?

Fifty thousand livres at the very least. I do not allude to the
enormous vases for the buffet, which alone weigh five thousand livres, or
ten thousand the pair.

One hundred and thirty,murmured the marquise. "You are quite sure of
your figuresM. Faucheux?"

The amount is entered in my books. Your ladyship is extremely
methodical, I am aware.

Let us now turn to another subject,said Madame de Belliere; and she
opened one of her jewel-boxes.

I recognize these emeralds,said M. Faucheux; "for it was I who had the
setting of them. They are the most beautiful in the whole court. NoI
am mistaken; Madame de Chatillon has the most beautiful set; she had them
from Messieurs de Guise; but your setmadamecomes next."

What are they worth?

Mounted?

No; supposing I wished to sell them.

I know very well who would buy them,exclaimed M. Faucheux.

That is the very thing I ask. They could be sold, then?

All your jewels could be sold, madame. It is well known that you
possess the most beautiful jewels in Paris. You are not changeable in
your tastes; when you make a purchase it is of the very best; and what
you purchase you do not part with.

What could these emeralds be sold for, then?

A hundred and thirty thousand francs.

The marquise wrote down upon her tablets the amount which the jeweler
mentioned. "The ruby necklace?" she said.

Are they balas-rubies, madame?


Here they are.

They are beautiful - magnificent. I did not know your ladyship had
these stones.

What is their value?

Two hundred thousand francs. The center one is alone worth a hundred
thousand.

I thought so,said the marquise. "As for diamondsI have them in
numbers; ringsnecklacessprigsear-ringsclasps. Tell me their
valueM. Faucheux."

The jeweler took his magnifying-glass and scalesweighed and inspected
themand silently made his calculations. "These stones he said, must
have cost your ladyship an income of forty thousand francs."

You value them at eight hundred thousand francs?

Nearly so.

It is about what I imagined - but the settings are not included?

No, madame; but if I were called upon to sell or to buy, I should be
satisfied with the gold of the settings alone as my profit upon the
transaction. I should make a good twenty-five thousand francs.

An agreeable sum.

Very much so, madame.

Will you then accept that profit, then, on condition of converting the
jewels into money?

But you do not intend to sell you diamonds, I suppose, madame?
exclaimed the bewildered jeweler.

Silence, M. Faucheux, do not disturb yourself about that; give me an
answer simply. You are an honorable man, with whom my family has dealt
for thirty years; you knew my father and mother, whom your own father and
mother served. I address you as a friend; will you accept the gold of
the settings in return for a sum of ready money to be placed in my hands?

Eight hundred thousand francs! it is enormous.

I know it.

Impossible to find.

Not so.

But reflect, madame, upon the effect which will be produced by the sale
of your jewels.

No one need know it. You can get sets of false jewels made for me,
similar to the real. Do not answer a word; I insist upon it. Sell them
separately, sell the stones only.

In that way it is easy. Monsieur is looking out for some sets of jewels
as well as single stones for Madame's toilette. There will be a
competition for them. I can easily dispose of six hundred thousand
francs' worth to Monsieur. I am certain yours are the most beautiful.


When can you do so?

In less than three days' time.

Very well, the remainder you will dispose of among private individuals.
For the present, make me out a contract of sale, payment to be made in
four days.

I entreat you to reflect, madame; for if you force the sale, you will
lose a hundred thousand francs.

If necessary, I will lose two hundred; I wish everything to be settled
this evening. Do you accept?

I do, your ladyship. I will not conceal from you that I shall make
fifty thousand francs by the transaction.

So much the better for you. In what way shall I have the money?

Either in gold, or in bills of the bank of Lyons, payable at M.
Colbert's.

I agree,said the marquiseeagerly; "return home and bring the sum in
question in notesas soon as possible."

Yes, madame, but for Heaven's sake -

Not a word, M. Faucheux. By the by, I was forgetting the silver plate.
What is the value of that which I have?

Fifty thousand francs, madame.

That makes a million,said the marquise to herself. "M. Faucheuxyou
will take away with you both the gold and silver plate. I can assignas
a pretextthat I wish it remodeled on patters more in accordance with my
own taste. Melt it downand return me its value in moneyat once."

It shall be done, your ladyship.

You will be good enough to place the money in a chest, and direct one of
your clerks to accompany the chest, and without my servants seeing him;
and order him to wait for me in a carriage.

In Madame de Faucheux's carriage?said the jeweler.

If you will allow it, and I will call for it at your house.

Certainly, your ladyship.

I will direct some of my servants to convey the plate to your house.
The marquise rung. "Let the small van be placed at M. Faucheux's
disposal she said. The jeweler bowed and left the house, directing
that the van should follow him closely, saying aloud, that the marquise
was about to have her plate melted down in order to have other plate
manufactured of a more modern style. Three hours afterwards she went to

M. Faucheux's house and received from him eight hundred francs in gold
inclosed in a chest, which one of the clerks could hardly carry towards
Madame Faucheux's carriage - for Madame Faucheux kept her carriage. As
the daughter of a president of accounts, she had brought a marriage
portion of thirty thousand crowns to her husband, who was syndic of the
goldsmiths. These thirty thousand crowns had become very fruitful during
twenty years. The jeweler, though a _millionaire_, was a modest man. He
had purchased a substantial carriage, built in 1648, ten years after the

king's birth. This carriage, or rather house upon wheels, excited the
admiration of the whole quarter in which he resided - it was covered with
allegorical paintings, and clouds scattered over with stars. The
marquise entered this somewhat extraordinary vehicle, sitting opposite
the clerk, who endeavored to put his knees out of the way, afraid even of
touching the marquise's dress. It was the clerk, too, who told the
coachman, who was very proud of having a marquise to drive, to take the
road to Saint-Mande.

Chapter XXVIII:
The Dowry.

Monsieur Faucheux's horses were serviceable animals, with thickset knees
and legs that had some difficulty in moving. Like the carriage, they
belonged to the earlier part of the century. They were not as fleet as
the English horses of M. Fouquet, and consequently it took two hours to
get to Saint-Mande. Their progress, it might be said, was majestic.
Majesty, however, precludes hurry. The marquise stopped the carriage at
the door so well known to her, although she had seen it only once, under
circumstances, it will now be remembered, no less painful than those
which brought her now to it again. She drew a key from her pocket, and
inserted it into the lock, pushed open the door, which noiselessly
yielded to her touch, and directed the clerk to carry the chest upstairs
to the first floor. The weight of the chest was so great that the clerk
was obliged to get the coachman to assist him with it. They placed it in
a small cabinet, ante-room, or boudoir rather, adjoining the saloon where
we once saw M. Fouquet at the marquise's feet. Madame de Belliere gave
the coachman a louis, smiled gracefully at the clerk, and dismissed them
both. She closed the door after them, and waited in the room, alone and
barricaded. There was no servant to be seen about the rooms, but
everything was prepared as though some invisible genius had divined the
wishes and desires of an expected guest. The fire was laid, candles in
the candelabra, refreshments upon the table, books scattered about, freshcut
flowers in the vases. One might almost have imagined it an enchanted
house.

The marquise lighted the candles, inhaled the perfume of the flowers, sat
down, and was soon plunged in profound thought. Her deep musings,
melancholy though they were, were not untinged with a certain vague joy.
Spread out before her was a treasure, a million wrung from her fortune as
a gleaner plucks the blue corn-flower from her crown of flowers. She
conjured up the sweetest dreams. Her principal thought, and one that
took precedence of all others, was to devise means of leaving this money
for M. Fouquet without his possibly learning from whom the gift had
come. This idea, naturally enough, was the first to present itself to
her mind. But although, on reflection, it appeared difficult to carry
out, she did not despair of success. She would then ring to summon M.
Fouquet and make her escape, happier than if, instead of having given a
million, she had herself found one. But, being there, and having seen
the boudoir so coquettishly decorated that it might almost be said the
least particle of dust had but the moment before been removed by the
servants; having observed the drawing-room, so perfectly arranged that it
might almost be said her presence there had driven away the fairies who
were its occupants, she asked herself if the glance or gaze of those whom
she had displaced - whether spirits, fairies, elves, or human creatures
had not already recognized her. To secure success, it was necessary that
some steps should be seriously taken, and it was necessary also that the
superintendent should comprehend the serious position in which he was
placed, in order to yield compliance with the generous fancies of a
woman; all the fascinations of an eloquent friendship would be required
to persuade him, and, should this be insufficient, the maddening
influence of a devoted passion, which, in its resolute determination to
carry conviction, would not be turned aside. Was not the superintendent,


indeed, known for his delicacy and dignity of feeling? Would he allow
himself to accept from any woman that of which she had stripped herself?
No! He would resist, and if any voice in the world could overcome his
resistance, it would be the voice of the woman he loved.

Another doubt, and that a cruel one, suggested itself to Madame de
Belliere with a sharp, acute pain, like a dagger thrust. Did he really
love her? Would that volatile mind, that inconstant heart, be likely to
be fixed for a moment, even were it to gaze upon an angel? Was it not
the same with Fouquet, notwithstanding his genius and his uprightness of
conduct, as with those conquerors on the field of battle who shed tears
when they have gained a victory? I must learn if it be soand must
judge of that for myself said the marquise. Who can tell whether that
heartso covetedis not common in its impulsesand full of alloy? Who
can tell if that mindwhen the touchstone is applied to itwill not be
found of a mean and vulgar character? Comecome she said, this is
doubting and hesitation too much - to the proof she said, looking at
the timepiece. It is now seven o'clock she said; he must have
arrived; it is the hour for signing his papers." With a feverish
impatience she rose and walked towards the mirrorin which she smiled
with a resolute smile of devotedness; she touched the spring and drew out
the handle of the bell. Thenas if exhausted beforehand by the struggle
she had just undergoneshe threw herself on her kneesin utter
abandonmentbefore a large couchin which she buried her face in her
trembling hands. Ten minutes afterwards she heard the spring of the door
sound. The door moved upon invisible hingesand Fouquet appeared. He
looked paleand seemed bowed down by the weight of some bitter
reflection. He did not hurrybut simply came at the summons. The
preoccupation of his mind must indeed have been very greatthat a man
so devoted to pleasurefor whom indeed pleasure meant everythingshould
obey such a summons so listlessly. The previous nightin factfertile
in melancholy ideashad sharpened his featuresgenerally so noble in
their indifference of expressionand had traced dark lines of anxiety
around his eyes. Handsome and noble he still wasand the melancholy
expression of his moutha rare expression with mengave a new character
to his featuresby which his youth seemed to be renewed. Dressed in
blackthe lace in front of his chest much disarranged by his feverishly
restless handthe looks of the superintendentfull of dreamy
reflectionwere fixed upon the threshold of the room which he had so
frequently approached in search of expected happiness. This gloomy
gentleness of mannerthis smiling sadness of expressionwhich had
replaced his former excessive joyproduced an indescribable effect upon
Madame de Bellierewho was regarding him at a distance.

A woman's eye can read the face of the man she lovesits every feeling
of prideits every expression of suffering; it might almost be said that
Heaven has graciously granted to womenon account of their very
weaknessmore than it has accorded to other creatures. They can conceal
their own feelings from a manbut from them no man can conceal his. The
marquise divined in a single glace the whole weight of the unhappiness of
the superintendent. She divined a night passed without sleepa day
passed in deceptions. From that moment she was firm in her own strength
and she felt that she loved Fouquet beyond everything else. She arose
and approached himsayingYou wrote to me this morning to say you were
beginning to forget me, and that I, whom you had not seen lately, had no
doubt ceased to think of you. I have come to undeceive you, monsieur,
and the more completely so, because there is one thing I can read in your
eyes.

What is that, madame?said Fouquetastonished.

That you have never loved me so much as at this moment; in the same
manner you can read, in my present step towards you, that I have not
forgotten you.


Oh! madame,said Fouquetwhose face was for a moment lighted up by a
sudden gleam of joyyou are indeed an angel, and no man can suspect
you. All he can do is to humble himself before you and entreat
forgiveness.

Your forgiveness is granted, then,said the marquise. Fouquet was
about to throw himself upon his knees. "Nono she said, sit here by
my side. Ah! that is an evil thought which has just crossed your mind."

How do you detect it, madame?

By the smile that has just marred the expression of your countenance.
Be candid, and tell me what your thought was - no secrets between
friends.

Tell me, then, madame, why you have been so harsh these three or four
months past?

Harsh?

Yes; did you not forbid me to visit you?

Alas!said Madame de Bellieresighingbecause your visit to me was
the cause of your being visited with a great misfortune; because my house
is watched; because the same eyes that have seen you already might see
you again; because I think it less dangerous for you that I should come
here than that you should come to my house; and, lastly, because I know
you to be already unhappy enough not to wish to increase your unhappiness
further.

Fouquet startedfor these words recalled all the anxieties connected
with his office of superintendent - he whofor the last few minuteshad
indulged in all the wild aspirations of the lover. "I unhappy?" he said
endeavoring to smile: "indeedmarquiseyou will almost make me believe
I am sojudging from your own sadness. Are your beautiful eyes raised
upon me merely in pity? I was looking for another expression from them."

It is not I who am sad, monsieur; look in the mirror, there - it is
yourself.

It is true I am somewhat pale, marquise; but it is from overwork; the
king yesterday required a supply of money from me.

Yes, four millions; I am aware of it.

You know it?exclaimed Fouquetin a tone of surprise; "how can you
have learnt it? It was after the departure of the queenand in the
presence of one person onlythat the king - "

You perceive that I do know it; is that not sufficient? Well, go on,
monsieur, the money the king has required you to supply -

You understand, marquise, that I have been obliged to procure it, then
to get it counted, afterwards registered - altogether a long affair.
Since Monsieur de Mazarin's death, financial affairs occasion some little
fatigue and embarrassment. My administration is somewhat overtaxed, and
this is the reason why I have not slept during the past night.

So you have the amount?inquired the marquisewith some anxiety.

It would indeed be strange, marquise,replied Fouquetcheerfullyif
a superintendent of finances were not to have a paltry four millions in
his coffers.


Yes, yes, I believe you either have, or will have them.

What do you mean by saying I shall have them?

It is not very long since you were required to furnish two millions.

On the contrary, it seems almost an age; but do not let us talk of money
matters any longer.

On the contrary, we will continue to speak of them, for that is my only
reason for coming to see you.

I am at a loss to compass your meaning,said the superintendentwhose
eyes began to express an anxious curiosity.

Tell me, monsieur, is the office of superintendent a permanent position?

You surprise me, marchioness, for you speak as if you had some motive or
interest in putting the question.

My reason is simple enough; I am desirous of placing some money in your
hands, and naturally I wish to know if you are certain of your post.

Really, marquise, I am at a loss what to reply; I cannot conceive your
meaning.

Seriously, then, dear M. Fouquet, I have certain funds which somewhat
embarrass me. I am tired of investing my money in lands, and am anxious
to intrust it to some friend who will turn it to account.

Surely it does not press,said M. Fouquet.

On the contrary, it is very pressing.

Very well, we will talk of that by and by.

By and by will not do, for my money is there,returned the marquise
pointing out the coffer to the superintendentand showing himas she
opened itthe bundles of notes and heaps of gold. Fouquetwho had
risen from his seat at the same moment as Madame de Belliereremained
for a moment plunged in thought; then suddenly starting backhe turned
paleand sank down in his chairconcealing his face in his hands.
Madame, madame,he murmuredwhat opinion can you have of me, when you
make me such an offer?

Of you!returned the marquise. "Tell meratherwhat you yourself
think of the step I have taken."

You bring me this money for myself, and you bring it because you know me
to be embarrassed. Nay, do not deny it, for I am sure of it. Can I not
read your heart?

If you know my heart, then, can you not see that it is my heart I offer
you?

I have guessed rightly, then,exclaimed Fouquet. "In truthmadameI
have never yet given you the right to insult me in this manner."

Insult you,she saidturning palewhat singular delicacy of
feeling! You tell me you love me; in the name of that affection you wish
me to sacrifice my reputation and my honor, yet, when I offer you money
which is my own, you refuse me.


Madame, you are at liberty to preserve what you term your reputation and
your honor. Permit me to preserve mine. Leave me to my ruin, leave me
to sink beneath the weight of the hatreds which surround me, beneath the
faults I have committed, beneath the load, even, of my remorse, but, for
Heaven's sake, madame, do not overwhelm me with this last infliction.

A short time since, M. Fouquet, you were wanting in judgment; now you
are wanting in feeling.

Fouquet pressed his clenched hand upon his breastheaving with emotion
saying: "overwhelm memadamefor I have nothing to reply."

I offered you my friendship, M. Fouquet.

Yes, madame, and you limited yourself to that.

And what I am now doing is the act of a friend.

No doubt it is.

And you reject this mark of my friendship?

I do reject it.

Monsieur Fouquet, look at me,said the marquisewith glistening eyes
I now offer you my love.

Oh, madame,exclaimed Fouquet.

I have loved you for a long while past; women, like men, have a false
delicacy at times. For a long time past I have loved you, but would not
confess it. Well, then, you have implored this love on your knees, and I
have refused you; I was blind, as you were a little while since; but as
it was my love that you sought, it is my love I now offer you.

Oh! madame, you overwhelm me beneath a load of happiness.

Will you be happy, then, if I am yours - entirely?

It will be the supremest happiness for me.

Take me, then. If, however, for your sake I sacrifice a prejudice, do
you, for mine, sacrifice a scruple.

Do not tempt me.

Do not refuse me.

Think seriously of what you are proposing.

Fouquet, but one word. Let it be 'No,' and I open this door,and she
pointed to the door which led into the streetsand you will never see
me again. Let that word be 'Yes,' and I am yours entirely.

Elise! Elise! But this coffer?

Contains my dowry.

It is your ruin,exclaimed Fouquetturning over the gold and papers;
there must be a million here.

Yes, my jewels, for which I care no longer if you do not love me, and
for which, equally, I care no longer if you love me as I love you.


This is too much,exclaimed Fouquet. "I yieldI yieldeven were it
only to consecrate so much devotion. I accept the dowry."


And take the woman with it,said the marquisethrowing herself into
his arms.


Chapter XXIX:
Le Terrain de Dieu.


During the progress of these events Buckingham and De Wardes traveled in
excellent companionshipand made the journey from Paris to Calais in
undisturbed harmony together. Buckingham had hurried his departureso
that the greater part of his _adieux_ were very hastily made. His visit
to Monsieur and Madameto the young queenand to the queen-dowagerhad
been paid collectively - a precaution on the part of the queen-mother
which saved him the distress of any private conversation with Monsieur
and also the danger of seeing Madame again. The carriages containing the
luggage had already been sent on beforehandand in the evening he set
off in his traveling carriage with his attendants.


De Wardesirritated at finding himself dragged away in so abrupt a
manner by this Englishmanhad sought in his subtle mind for some means
of escaping from his fetters; but no one having rendered him any
assistance in this respecthe was absolutely obligedthereforeto
submit to the burden of his own evil thoughts and caustic spirit.


Such of his friends in whom he had been able to confidehadin their
character of witsrallied him upon the duke's superiority. Othersless
brilliantbut more sensiblehad reminded him of the king's orders
prohibiting dueling. Othersagainand they the larger numberwhoin
virtue of charityor national vanitymight have rendered him
assistancedid not care to run the risk of incurring disgraceand
wouldat the besthave informed the ministers of a departure which
might end in a massacre on a small scale. The result wasthatafter
having fully deliberated upon the matterDe Wardes packed up his
luggagetook a couple of horsesandfollowed only by one servantmade
his way towards the barrierwhere Buckingham's carriage was to await him.


The duke received his adversary as he would have done an intimate
acquaintancemade room beside him on the same seat with himselfoffered
him refreshmentsand spread over his knees the sable cloak that had been
thrown on the front seat. They then conversed of the courtwithout
alluding to Madame; of Monsieurwithout speaking of domestic affairs; of
the kingwithout speaking of his brother's wife; of the queen-mother
without alluding to her daughter-in-law; of the king of Englandwithout
alluding to his sister; of the state of the affections of either of the
travelerswithout pronouncing any name that might be dangerous. In this
way the journeywhich was performed by short stageswas most agreeable
and Buckinghamalmost a Frenchman from wit and educationwas delighted
at having so admirably selected his traveling companion. Elegant repasts
were servedof which they partook but lightly; trials of horses made in
the beautiful meadows that skirted the road; coursing indulged infor
Buckingham had his greyhounds with him; and in such ways did they pass
away the pleasant time. The duke somewhat resembled the beautiful river
Seinewhich folds France a thousand times in its loving embracebefore
deciding upon joining its waters with the ocean. In quitting Franceit
was her recently adopted daughter he had brought to Paris whom he chiefly
regretted; his every thought was a remembrance of her - his every memory
a regret. Thereforewhenevernow and thendespite his command over
himselfhe was lost in thoughtDe Wardes left him entirely to his
musings. This delicacy might have touched Buckinghamand changed his
feelings towards De Wardesif the latterwhile preserving silencehad
shown a glance less full of maliceand a smile less false. Instinctive



dislikeshoweverare relentless; nothing appeases them; a few ashes
maysometimesapparentlyextinguish them; but beneath those ashes the
smothered embers rage more furiously. Having exhausted every means of
amusement the route offeredthey arrivedas we have saidat Calais
towards the end of the sixth day. The duke's attendantssince the
previous eveninghad traveled in advanceand now chartered a boatfor
the purpose of joining the yachtwhich had been tacking about in sight
or bore broadside onwhenever it felt its white wings weariedwithin
cannon-shot of the jetty.

The boat was destined for the transport of the duke's equipages from the
shore to the yacht. The horses had been embarkedhaving been hoisted
from the boat upon the deck in basketsexpressly made for the purpose
and wadded in such a manner that their limbseven in the most violent
fits of terror or impatiencewere always protected by the soft support
which the sides affordedand their coats not even turned. Eight of
these basketsplaced side by sidefilled the ship's hold. It is well
known thatin short voyages horses refuse to eatbut remain trembling
all the whilewith the best of food before themsuch as they would have
greatly coveted on land. By degreesthe duke's entire equipage was
transported on board the yacht; he was then informed that everything was
in readinessand that they only waited for himwhenever he would be
disposed to embark with the French gentleman; for no one could possibly
imagine that the French gentleman would have any other accounts to settle
with his Grace other than those of friendship. Buckingham desired the
captain to be told to hold himself in readinessbut thatas the sea was
beautifuland as the day promised a splendid sunsethe did not intend
to go on board until nightfalland would avail himself of the evening to
enjoy a walk on the strand. He added alsothatfinding himself in such
excellent companyhe had not the least desire to hasten his embarkation.

As he said this he pointed out to those who surrounded him the
magnificent spectacle which the sky presentedof deepest azure in the
horizonthe amphitheatre of fleecy clouds ascending from the sun's disc
to the zenithassuming the appearance of a range of snowy mountains
whose summits were heaped one upon another. The dome of clouds was
tinged at its base withas it werethe foam of rubiesfading away into
opal and pearly tintsin proportion as the gaze was carried from base to
summit. The sea was gilded with the same reflectionand upon the crest
of every sparkling wave danced a point of lightlike a diamond by
lamplight. The mildness of the eveningthe sea breezesso dear to
contemplative mindssetting in from the east and blowing in delicious
gusts; thenin the distancethe black outline of the yacht with its
rigging traced upon the empurpled background of the sky - whiledotting
the horizonmight be seenhere and therevessels with their trimmed
sailslike the wings of a seagull about to plunge; such a spectacle
indeed well merited admiration. A crowd of curious idlers followed the
richly dressed attendantsamongst whom they mistook the steward and the
secretary for the master and his friend. As for Buckinghamwho was
dressed very simplyin a gray satin vestand doublet of violet-colored
velvetwearing his hat thrust over his eyesand without orders or
embroideryhe was taken no more notice of than De Wardeswho was in
blacklike an attorney.

The duke's attendants had received directions to have a boat in
readiness at the jetty headand to watch the embarkation of their
masterwithout approaching him until either he or his friend should
summon them- "whatever may happen he had added, laying a stress upon
these words, so that they might not be misunderstood. Having walked a
few paces upon the strand, Buckingham said to De Wardes, I think it is
now time to take leave of each other. The tideyou perceiveis rising;
ten minutes hence it will have soaked the sands where we are now walking
in such a manner that we shall not be able to keep our footing."


I await your orders, my lord, but -

But, you mean, we are still upon soil which is part of the king's
territory.

Exactly.

Well, do you see yonder a kind of little island surrounded by a circle of
water? The pool is increasing every minute, and the isle is gradually
disappearing. This island, indeed, belongs to Heaven, for it is situated
between two seas, and is not shown on the king's charts. Do you observe
it?

Yes; but we can hardly reach it now, without getting our feet wet.

Yes; but observe that it forms an eminence tolerably high, and that the
tide rises up on every side, leaving the top free. We shall be admirably
placed upon that little theatre. What do you think of it?

I shall be perfectly happy wherever I may have the honor of crossing my
sword with your lordship's.

Very well, then, I am distressed to be the cause of your wetting your
feet, M. de Wardes, but it is most essential you should be able to say to
the king: 'Sire, I did not fight upon your majesty's territory.' Perhaps
the distinction is somewhat subtle, but, since Port-Royal, your nation
delights in subtleties of expression. Do not let us complain of this,
however, for it makes your wit very brilliant, and of a style peculiarly
your own. If you do not object, we will hurry ourselves, for the sea, I
perceive, is rising fast, and night is setting in.

My reason for not walking faster was, that I did not wish to precede
your Grace. Are you still on dry land, my lord?

Yes, at present I am. Look yonder! My servants are afraid we shall be
drowned, and have converted the boat into a cruiser. Do you remark how
curiously it dances upon the crests of the waves? But, as it makes me
feel sea-sick, would you permit me to turn my back towards them?

You will observe, my lord, that in turning your back to them, you will
have the sun full in your face.

Oh, its rays are very feeble at this hour and it will soon disappear; do
not be uneasy on that score.

As you please, my lord; it was out of consideration for your lordship
that I made the remark.

I am aware of that, M. de Wardes, and I fully appreciate your kindness.
Shall we take off our doublets?

As you please, my lord.

Do not hesitate to tell me, M. de Wardes, if you do not feel comfortable
upon the wet sand, or if you think yourself a little too close to French
territory. We could fight in England, or even upon my yacht.

We are exceedingly well placed here, my lord; only I have the honor to
remark that, as the sea is rising fast, we have hardly time -

Buckingham made a sign of assenttook off his doublet and threw it on
the grounda proceeding which De Wardes imitated. Both their bodies
which seemed like phantoms to those who were looking at them from the
shorewere thrown strongly into relief by a dark red violet-colored


shadow with which the sky became overspread.

Upon my word, your Grace,said De Wardeswe shall hardly have time to
begin. Do you not perceive how our feet are sinking into the sand?

I have sunk up to the ankles,said Buckinghamwithout reckoning that
the water is even now breaking in upon us.

It has already reached me. As soon as you please, therefore, your
Grace,said De Wardeswho drew his sworda movement imitated by the
duke.

M. de Wardes,said Buckinghamone final word. I am about to fight
you because I do not like you, - because you have wounded me in
ridiculing a certain devotional regard I have entertained, and one which
I acknowledge that, at this moment, I still retain, and for which I would
very willingly die. You are a bad and heartless man, M. de Wardes, and I
will do my very utmost to take your life; for I feel assured that, if you
survive this engagement, you will, in the future, work great mischief
towards my friends. That is all I have to remark, M. de Wardes,
concluded Buckingham as he saluted him.

And I, my lord, have only this to reply to you: I have not disliked you
hitherto, but, since you give me such a character, I hate you, and will
do all I possibly can to kill you;and De Wardes saluted Buckingham.

Their swords crossed at the same momentlike two flashes of lightning on
a dark night. The swords seemed to seek each otherguessed their
positionand met. Both were practiced swordsmenand the earlier passes
were without any result. The night was fast closing inand it was so
dark that they attacked and defended themselves almost instinctively.
Suddenly De Wardes felt his word arrested- he had just touched
Buckingham's shoulder. The duke's sword sunkas his arm was lowered.

You are wounded, my lord,said De Wardesdrawing back a step or two.

Yes, monsieur, but only slightly.

Yet you quitted your guard.

Only from the first effect of the cold steel, but I have recovered. Let
us go on, if you please.And disengaging his sword with a sinister
clashing of the bladethe duke wounded the marquis in the breast.

A hit?he said.

No,cried De Wardesnot moving from his place.

I beg your pardon, but observing that your shirt was stained - said
Buckingham.

Well,said De Wardes furiouslyit is now your turn.

And with a terrible lungehe pierced Buckingham's armthe sword passing
between the two bones. Buckingham feeling his right arm paralyzed
stretched out his leftseized his swordwhich was about falling from
his nerveless graspand before De Wardes could resume his guardhe
thrust him through the breast. De Wardes totteredhis knees gave way
beneath himand leaving his sword still fixed in the duke's armhe fell
into the waterwhich was soon crimsoned with a more genuine reflection
than that which it had borrowed from the clouds. De Wardes was not dead;
he felt the terrible danger that menaced himfor the sea rose fast. The
duketooperceived the danger. With an effort and an exclamation of
pain he tore out the blade which remained in his armand turning towards


De Wardes saidAre you dead, marquis?

No,replied De Wardesin a voice choked by the blood which rushed from
his lungs to his throatbut very near it.

Well, what is to be done; can you walk?said Buckinghamsupporting him
on his knee.

Impossible,he replied. Then falling down againsaidcall to your
people, or I shall be drowned.

Halloa! boat there! quick, quick!

The boat flew over the wavesbut the sea rose faster than the boat could
approach. Buckingham saw that De Wardes was on the point of being again
covered by a wave; he passed his left armsafe and unwoundedround his
body and raised him up. The wave ascended to his waistbut did not move
him. The duke immediately began to carry his late antagonist towards the
shore. He had hardly gone ten paceswhen a second waverushing onwards
highermore furious and menacing than the formerstruck him at the
height of his chestthrew him over and buried him beneath the water. At
the refluxhoweverthe duke and De Wardes were discovered lying on the
strand. De Wardes had fainted. At this moment four of the duke's
sailorswho comprehended the dangerthrew themselves into the seaand
in a moment were close beside him. Their terror was extreme when they
observed how their master became covered with bloodin proportion to the
waterwith which it was impregnatedflowed towards his knees and feet;
they wished to carry him.

No, no,exclaimed the duketake the marquis on shore first.

Death to the Frenchman!cried the English sullenly.

Wretched knaves!exclaimed the dukedrawing himself up with a haughty
gesturewhich sprinkled them with bloodobey directly! M. de Wardes
on shore! M. de Wardes's safety to be looked to first, or I will have
you all hanged!

The boat had by this time reached them; the secretary and steward leaped
into the seaand approached the marquiswho no longer showed any sign
of life.

I commit him to your care, as you value your lives,said the duke.
Take M. de Wardes on shore.They took him in their armsand carried
him to the dry sandwhere the tide never rose so high. A few idlers and
five or six fishermen had gathered on the shoreattracted by the strange
spectacle of two men fighting with the water up to their knees. The
fishermenobserving a group of men approaching carrying a wounded man
entered the sea until the water was up to their waists. The English
transferred the wounded man to themat the very moment the latter began
to open his eyes again. The salt water and the fine sand had got into
his woundsand caused him the acutest pain. The duke's secretary drew
out a purse filled with gold from his pocketand handed it to the one
among those present who appeared of most importancesaying: "From my
masterhis Grace the Duke of Buckinghamin order that every possible
care may be taken of the Marquis de Wardes."

Thenfollowed by those who had accompanied himhe returned to the boat
which Buckingham had been enabled to reach with the greatest difficulty
but only after he had seen De Wardes out of danger. By this time it was
high tide; embroidered coatsand silk sashes were lost; many hatstoo
had been carried away by the waves. The flow of the tide had borne the
duke's and De Wardes's clothes to the shoreand De Wardes was wrapped in
the duke's doubletunder the belief that it was his ownwhen the


fishermen carried him in their arms towards the town.

Chapter XXX:
Threefold Love.

As soon as Buckingham departedGuiche imagined the coast would be
perfectly clear for him without any interference. Monsieurwho no
longer retained the slightest feeling of jealousyand whobesides
permitted himself to be monopolized by the Chevalier de Lorraineallowed
as much liberty and freedom in his house as the most exacting could
desire. The kingon his sidewho had conceived a strong predilection
for his sister-in-law's societyinvented a variety of amusementsin
quick succession to each otherin order to render her residence in Paris
as cheerful as possibleso that in factnot a day passed without a ball
at the Palais Royalor a reception in Monsieur's apartments. The king
had directed that Fontainebleau should be prepared for the reception of
the courtand every one was using his utmost interest to get invited.
Madame led a life of incessant occupation; neither her voice nor her pen
were idle for a moment. The conversations with De Guiche were gradually
assuming a tone of interest which might unmistakably be recognized as the
prelude of a deep-seated attachment. When eyes look languishingly while
the subject under discussion happens to be colors of materials for
dresses; when a whole hour is occupied in analyzing the merits and the
perfume of a _sachet_ or a flower; - there are words in this style of
conversation which every one might listen tobut there are gestures and
sighs that every one cannot perceive. After Madame had talked for some
time with De Guicheshe conversed with the kingwho paid her a visit
regularly every day. They playedwrote versesor selected mottoes or
emblematical devices; this spring was not only the Maytide of natureit
was the youth of an entire peopleof which those at court were the
head. The king was handsomeyoungand of unequaled gallantry. All
women were passionately loved by himeven the queenhis wife. This
mighty monarch washowevermore timid and more reserved than any other
person in the kingdomto such a degreeindeedthat he did not confess
his sentiments even to himself. This timidity of bearing restrained him
within the limits of ordinary politenessand no woman could boast of
having any preference shown her beyond that shown to others. It might be
foretold that the day when his real character would be displayed would be
the dawn of a new sovereignty; but as yet he had not declared himself.

M. de Guiche took advantage of thisand constituted himself the
sovereign prince of the whole laughter-loving court. It had been
reported that he was on the best of terms with Mademoiselle de Montalais;
that he had been assiduously attentive to Mademoiselle de Chatillon; but
now he was not even barely civil to any of the court beauties. He had
eyes and ears for one person alone. In this mannerandas it were
without designhe devoted himself to Monsieurwho had a great regard
for himand kept him as much as possible in his own apartments.
Unsociable from natural dispositionhe had estranged himself too much
previous to the arrival of Madamebutafter her arrivalhe did not
estrange himself sufficiently. This conductwhich every one had
observedhad been particularly remarked by the evil genius of the house
the Chevalier de Lorrainefor whom Monsieur exhibited the warmest
attachment because he was of a very cheerful dispositioneven in his
remarks most full of maliceand because he was never at a loss how to
wile the time away. The Chevalier de Lorrainethereforehaving noticed
that he was threatened with being supplanted by De Guicheresorted to
strong measures. He disappeared from the courtleaving Monsieur much
embarrassed. The first day of his absenceMonsieur hardly inquired
about himfor he had De Guiche with himandexcept that the time given
to conversation with Madamehis days and nights were rigorously devoted
to the prince. On the second dayhoweverMonsieurfinding no one near
himinquired where the chevalier was. He was told that no one knew.

De Guicheafter having spent the morning in selecting embroideries and
fringes with Madamewent to console the prince. But after dinneras
there were some amethysts to be looked atDe Guiche returned to Madame's
cabinet. Monsieur was left quite to himself during the time devoted to
dressing and decorating himself; he felt that he was the most miserable
of menand again inquired whether there was any news of the chevalier
in reply to which he was told that no one could tell where the chevalier
was to be found. Monsieurhardly knowing in what direction to inflict
his wearinesswent to Madame's apartments dressed in his morning-gown.
He found a large assemblage of people therelaughing and whispering in
every part of the room; at one enda group of women around one of the
courtierstalking togetheramid smothered bursts of laughter; at the
other endManicamp and Malicorne were being pillaged at cards by
Montalais and Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charentewhile two others were
standing bylaughing. In another part were Madameseated upon some
cushions on the floorand De Guicheon his knees beside herspreading
out a handful of pearls and precious stoneswhile the princesswith her
white and slender fingers pointed out such among them as pleased her the
most. Againin another corner of the rooma guitar player was playing
some of the Spanish seguedillasto which Madame had taken the greatest
fancy ever since she had heard them sung by the young queen with a
melancholy expression of voice. But the songs which the Spanish princess
had sung with tears in her eyesthe young Englishwoman was humming with
a smile that well displayed her beautiful teeth. The cabinet presented
in factthe most perfect representation of unrestrained pleasure and
amusement. As he enteredMonsieur was struck at beholding so many
persons enjoying themselves without him. He was so jealous at the sight
that he could not resist exclaiminglike a childWhat! you are amusing
yourselves here, while I am sick and tired of being alone!

The sound of his voice was like a clap of thunder coming to interrupt the
warbling of birds under the leafy covert of the trees; a dead silence
ensued. De Guiche was on his feet in a moment. Malicorne tried to hide
himself behind Montalais. Manicamp stood bolt uprightand assumed a
very ceremonious demeanor. The guitar player thrust his instrument under
a tablecovering it with a piece of carpet to conceal it from the
prince's observation. Madame was the only one who did not moveand
smiling at her husbandsaidIs not this the hour you usually devote to
your toilette?

An hour which others select, it seems, for amusing themselves,replied
the princegrumblingly.

This untoward remark was the signal for a general rout; the women fled
like a flock of terrified starlings; the guitar player vanished like a
shadow; Malicornestill protected by Montalaiswho purposely widened
out her dressglided behind the hanging tapestry. As for Manicamphe
went to the assistance of De Guichewho naturally remained near Madame
and both of themwith the princess herselfcourageously sustained the
attack. The count was too happy to bear malice against the husband; but
Monsieur bore a grudge against his wife. Nothing was wanting but a
quarrel; he sought itand the hurried departure of the crowdwhich had
been so joyous before he arrivedand was so disturbed by his entrance
furnished him with a pretext.

Why do they run away at the very sight of me?he inquiredin a
supercilious tone; to which remark Madame repliedthatwhenever the
master of the house made his appearance, the family kept aloof out of
respect.As she said thisshe made so funny and so pretty a grimace
that De Guiche and Manicamp could not control themselves; they burst into
a peal of laugher; Madame followed their exampleand even Monsieur
himself could not resist itand he was obliged to sit downasfor
laughinghe could scarcely keep his equilibrium. Howeverhe very soon
left offbut his anger had increased. He was still more furious because


he had permitted himself to laughthan from having seen others laugh.
He looked at Manicamp steadilynot venturing to show his anger towards
De Guiche; butat a sign which displayed no little amount of annoyance
Manicamp and De Guiche left the roomso that Madameleft alonebegan
sadly to pick up her pearls and amethystsno longer smilingand
speaking still less.

I am very happy,said the duketo find myself treated as a stranger
here, Madame,and he left the room in a passion. On his way outhe met
Montalaiswho was in attendance in the ante-room. "It is very agreeable
to pay you a visit herebut outside the door."

Montalais made a very low obeisance. "I do not quite understand what
your royal highness does me the honor to say."

I say that when you are all laughing together in Madame's apartment, he
is an unwelcome visitor who does not remain outside.

Your royal highness does not think, and does not speak so, of yourself?

On the contrary, it is on my own account that I do speak and think. I
have no reason, certainly, to flatter myself about the reception I meet
with here at any time. How is it that, on the very day there is music
and a little society in Madame's apartments - in my own apartments,
indeed, for they are mine - on the very day that I wish to amuse myself a
little in my turn, every one runs away? Are they afraid to see me, that
they all take wing as soon as I appear? Is there anything wrong, then,
going on in my absence?

Yet nothing has been done to-day, monseigneur, which is not done every
day.

What! do they laugh like that every day?

Why, yes, monseigneur.

The same group of people simpering and the same singing and strumming
going on every day?

The guitar, monseigneur, was introduced to-day; but when we have no
guitars, we have violins and flutes; ladies soon weary without music.

The deuce! - and the men?

What men, monseigneur?

M. de Guiche, M. de Manicamp, and the rest of them?

They all belong to your highness's household.

Yes, yes, you are right,said the princeas he returned to his own
apartmentsfull of thought. He threw himself into the largest of his
arm-chairswithout looking at himself in the glass. "Where can the
chevalier be?" said he. One of the prince's attendants happened to be
near himoverheard his remarkand replied-

No one knows, your highness.

Still the same answer. The first one who answers me again, 'I do not
know,' I will discharge.Every one at this remark hurried out of his
apartmentsin the same manner as the others had fled from Madame's
apartments. The prince then flew into the wildest rage. He kicked over
a chiffonierwhich tumbled on the carpetbroken into pieces. He next
went into the galleriesand with the greatest coolness threw downone


after anotheran enameled vasea porphyry ewerand a bronze
candelabrum. The noise summoned every one to the various doors.

What is your highness's pleasure?said the captain of the guards
timidly.

I am treating myself to some music,replied the princegnashing his
teeth.

The captain of the guards desired his royal highness's physician to be
sent for. But before he cameMalicorne arrivedsaying to the prince
Monseigneur, the Chevalier de Lorraine is here.

The duke looked at Malicorneand smiled graciously at himjust as the
chevalier entered.

Chapter XXXI:

M. de Lorraine's Jealousy.
The Duc d'Orleans uttered a cry of delight on perceiving the Chevalier de
Lorraine. "This is fortunateindeed he said; by what happy chance do
I see you? Had you indeed disappearedas every one assured me?"

Yes, monseigneur.

A caprice?

I to venture upon caprices with your highness! The respect -

Put respect out of the way, for you fail in it every day. I absolve
you; but why did you leave me?

Because I felt that I was of no further use to you.

Explain yourself.

Your highness has people about you who are far more amusing that _I_ can
ever be. I felt I was not strong enough to enter into contest with them,
and I therefore withdrew.

This extreme diffidence shows a want of common sense. Who are those
with whom you cannot contend? De Guiche?

I name no one.

This is absurd. Does De Guiche annoy you?

I do not say he does; do not force me to speak, however; you know very
well that De Guiche is one of our best friends.

Who is it, then?

Excuse me, monseigneur, let us say no more about it.The chevalier
knew perfectly well that curiosity is excited in the same way as thirst
by removing that which quenches it; or in other wordsby denying an
explanation.

No, no,said the prince; "I wish to know why you went away."

In that case, monseigneur, I will tell you; but do not get angry. I
remarked that my presence was disagreeable.

To whom?


To Madame.

What do you mean?said the duke in astonishment.

It is simple enough; Madame is very probably jealous of the regard you
are good enough to testify for me.

Has she shown it to you?

Madame never addresses a syllable to me, particularly since a certain
time.

Since _what_ time?

Since the time when, M. de Guiche having made himself more agreeable to
her than I could, she receives him at every and any hour.

The duke colored. "At any hourchevalier; what do you mean by that?"

You see, your highness, I have already displeased you; I was quite sure
I should.

I am not displeased; but what you say is rather startling. In what
respect does Madame prefer De Guiche to you?

I shall say no more,said the chevaliersaluting the prince
ceremoniously.

On the contrary, I require you to speak. If you withdraw on that
account, you must indeed be very jealous.

One cannot help being jealous, monseigneur, when one loves. Is not your
royal highness jealous of Madame? Would you not, if you saw some one
always near Madame, and always treated with great favor, take umbrage at
it? One's friends are as one's lovers. Your highness has sometimes
conferred the distinguished honor upon me of calling me your friend.

Yes, yes,; but you used a phrase which has a very equivocal
significance; you are unfortunate in your phrases.

What phrase, monseigneur?

You said, 'treated with great favor.' What do you mean by favor?

Nothing can be more simple,said the chevalierwith an expression of
great frankness; "for instancewhenever a husband remarks that his wife
summons such and such a man near her; whenever this man is always to be
found by her sideor in attendance at the door of her carriage; whenever
the bouquet of the one is always the same color as the ribbons of the
other; when music and supper parties are held in private apartments;
whenever a dead silence takes place immediately the husband makes his
appearance in his wife's rooms; and when the husband suddenly finds that
he hasas a companionthe most devoted and the kindest of menwhoa
week beforewas with him as little as possible; whythen - "

Well, finish.

Why, then, I say, monseigneur, one possibly may get jealous. But all
these details hardly apply; for our conversation had nothing to do with
them.

The duke was evidently very much agitatedand seemed to struggle with
himself a good deal. "You have not told me he then remarked, why you


absented yourself. A little while ago you said it was from a fear of
intruding; you addedeventhat you had observed a disposition on
Madame's part to encourage De Guiche."

Pardon me, monseigneur, I did not say that.

You did, indeed.

Well, if I did say so, I observed nothing but what was very
inoffensive.

At all events, you remarked something.

You embarrass me, monseigneur.

What does that matter? Answer me. If you speak the truth, why should
you feel embarrassed?

I always speak the truth, monseigneur; but I also always hesitate when
it is a question of repeating what others say.

Ah! repeat? It appears that it is talked about, then?

I acknowledge that others have spoken to me on the subject.

Who?said the prince.

The chevalier assumed almost an angry airas he repliedMonseigneur,
you are subjecting me to cross-examination; you treat me as a criminal at
the bar; the rumors which idly pass by a gentleman's ears do not remain
there. Your highness wishes me to magnify rumors until it attains the
importance of an event.

However,said the dukein great displeasurethe fact remains that
you withdrew on account of this report.

To speak the truth, others have talked to me of the attentions of M. de
Guiche to Madame, nothing more; perfectly harmless, I repeat, and more
than that, allowable. But do not be unjust, monseigneur, and do not
attach any undue importance to it. It does not concern you.

M. de Guiche's attentions to Madame do not concern me?

No, monseigneur; and what I say to you I would say to De Guiche himself,
so little do I think of the attentions he pays Madame. Nay, I would say
it even to Madame herself. Only you understand what I am afraid of - I
am afraid of being thought jealous of the favor shown, when I am only
jealous as far as friendship is concerned. I know your disposition; I
know that when you bestow your affections you become exclusively
attached. You love Madame - and who, indeed, would _not_ love her?
Follow me attentively as I proceed: - Madame has noticed among your
friends the handsomest and most fascinating of them all; she will begin
to influence you on his behalf in such a way that you will neglect the
others. Your indifference would kill me; it is already bad enough to
have to support Madame's indifference. I have, therefore, made up my
mind to give way to the favorite whose happiness I envy, even while I
acknowledge my sincere friendship and sincere admiration for him. Well,
monseigneur, do you see anything to object to in this reasoning? Is it
not that of a man of honor? Is my conduct that of a sincere friend?
Answer me, at least, after having so closely questioned me.

The duke had seated himselfwith his head buried in his hands. After a
silence long enough to enable the chevalier to judge the effect of this
oratorical displaythe duke arosesayingCome, be candid.


As I always am.

Very well. You know that we already observed something respecting that
mad fellow, Buckingham.

Do not say anything against Madame, monseigneur, or I shall take my
leave. It is impossible you can be suspicious of Madame?

No, no, chevalier; I do not suspect Madame; but in fact, I observe - I
compare -

Buckingham was a madman, monseigneur.

A madman about whom, however, you opened my eyes thoroughly.

No, no,said the chevalierquickly; "it was not I who opened your
eyesit was De Guiche. Do not confound usI beg." And he began to
laugh in so harsh a manner that it sounded like the hiss of a serpent.

Yes, yes; I remember. You said a few words, but De Guiche showed the
most jealousy.

I should think so,continued the chevalierin the same tone. "He was
fighting for home and altar."

What did you say?said the dukehaughtilythoroughly roused by this
insidious jest.

Am I not right? for does not M. de Guiche hold the chief post of honor
in your household?

Well,replied the dukesomewhat calmedhad this passion of
Buckingham been remarked?

Certainly.

Very well. Do people say that M. de Guiche's is remarked as much?

Pardon me, monseigneur; you are again mistaken; no one says that M. de
Guiche entertains anything of the sort.

Very good.

You see, monseigneur, that it would have been better, a hundred times
better, to have left me in my retirement, than to have allowed you to
conjure up, by aid of any scruples I may have had, suspicions which
Madame will regard as crimes, and she would be in the right, too.

What would you do?

Act reasonably.

In what way?

I should not pay the slightest attention to the society of these new
Epicurean philosophers; and, in that way, the rumors will cease.

Well, I will see; I will think it over.

Oh, you have time enough; the danger is not great; and then, besides, it
is not a question of danger or of passion. It all arose from a fear I
had to see your friendship for me decrease. From the very moment you
restore it, with so kind an assurance of its existence, I have no longer


any other idea in my head.

The duke shook his head as if he meant to say: "If you have no more
ideasI havethough." It being now the dinner hourthe prince sent to
inform Madame of it; but she returned a message to the effect that she
could not be presentbut would dine in her own apartment.

That is not my fault,said the duke. "This morninghaving taken them
by surprise in the midst of a musical partyI got jealous; and so they
are in the sulks with me."

We will dine alone,said the chevalierwith a sigh; "I regret De
Guiche is not here."

Oh! De Guiche will not remain long in the sulks; he is a very goodnatured
fellow.

Monseigneur,said the chevaliersuddenlyan excellent idea has
struck me, in our conversation just now. I may have exasperated your
highness, and caused you some dissatisfaction. It is but fitting that I
should be the mediator. I will go and look for the count, and bring him
back with me.

Ah! chevalier, you are really a very good-natured fellow.

You say that as if you were surprised.

Well, you are not so tender-hearted every day.

That may be; but confess that I know how to repair a wrong I may have
done.

I confess that.

Will your highness do me the favor to wait here a few minutes?

Willingly; be off, and I will try on my Fontainebleau costume.

The chevalier left the roomcalled his different attendant with the
greatest careas if he were giving them different orders. All went off
in various directions; but he retained his _valet de chambre_.
Ascertain, and immediately, too, of M. de Guiche is not in Madame's
apartments. How can one learn it?

Very easily, monsieur. I will ask Malicorne, who will find out from
Mlle. de Montalais. I may as well tell you, however, that the inquiry
will be useless; for all M. de Guiche's attendants are gone, and he must
have left with them.

Ascertain, nevertheless.

Ten minutes had hardly passedwhen the valet returned. He beckoned his
master mysteriously towards the servants' staircaseand showed him into
a small room with a window looking out upon the garden. "What is the
matter?" said the chevalier; "why so many precautions?"

Look, monsieur,said the valetlook yonder, under the walnut-tree.

Ah?said the chevalier. "I see Manicamp there. What is he waiting
for?"

You will see in a moment, monsieur, if you wait patiently. There, do
you see now?


I see one, two, four musicians with their instruments, and behind them,
urging them on, De Guiche himself. What is he doing there, though?

He is waiting until the little door of the staircase, belonging to the
ladies of honor, is opened; by that staircase he will ascend to Madame's
apartments, where some new pieces of music are going to be performed
during dinner.

This is admirable news you tell me.

Is it not, monsieur?

Was it M. de Malicorne who told you this?

Yes, monsieur.

He likes you, then?

No, monsieur, it is Monsieur that he likes.

Why?

Because he wishes to belong to his household.

And most certainly he shall. How much did he give you for that?

The secret which I now dispose of to you, monsieur.

And which I buy for a hundred pistoles. Take them.

Thank you, monsieur. Look, look, the little door opens; a woman admits
the musicians.

It is Montalais.

Hush, monseigneur; do not call out her name; whoever says Montalais says
Malicorne. If you quarrel with the one, you will be on bad terms with
the other.

Very well; I have seen nothing.

And I,said the valetpocketing the pursehave received nothing.

The chevalierbeing now certain that Guiche had enteredreturned to the
princewhom he found splendidly dressed and radiant with joyas with
good looks. "I am told he exclaimed, that the king has taken the sun
as his device; reallymonseigneurit is you whom this device would best
suit."

Where is De Guiche?

He cannot be found. He has fled - has evaporated entirely. Your
scolding of this morning terrified him. He could not be found in his
apartments.

Bah! the hair-brained fellow is capable of setting off post-haste to his
own estates. Poor man! we will recall him. Come, let us dine now.

Monseigneur, to-day is a very festival of ideas; I have another.

What is it?

Madame is angry with you, and she has reason to be so. You owe her
revenge; go and dine with her.


Oh! that would be acting like a weak and whimsical husband.


It is the duty of a good husband to do so. The princess is no doubt
wearied enough; she will be weeping in her plate, and here eyes will get
quite red. A husband who is the cause of his wife's eyes getting red is
an odious creature. Come, monseigneur, come.


I cannot; for I have directed dinner to be served here.


Yet see, monseigneur, how dull we shall be; I shall be low-spirited
because I know that Madame will be alone; you, hard and savage as you
wish to appear, will be sighing all the while. Take me with you to
Madame's dinner, and that will be a delightful surprise. I am sure we
shall be very merry; you were in the wrong this morning.


Well, perhaps I was.


There is no perhaps at all, for it is a fact you were so.


Chevalier, chevalier, your advice is not good.


Nay, my advice is good; all the advantages are on your own side. Your
violet-colored suit, embroidered with gold, becomes you admirably.
Madame will be as much vanquished by the man as by the action. Come,
monseigneur.


You decide me; let us go.


The duke left his roomaccompanied by the chevalier and went towards
Madame's apartments. The chevalier hastily whispered to the valetBe
sure there are some people before that little door, so that no one can
escape in that direction. Run, run!And he followed the duke towards
the ante-chambers of Madame's suite of apartmentsand when the ushers
were about to announce themthe chevalier saidlaughingHis highness
wishes to surprise Madame.


Chapter XXXII:
Monsieur is Jealous of Guiche.


Monsieur entered the room abruptlyas persons do who mean well and think
they confer pleasureor as those who hope to surprise some secretthe
terrible reward of jealous people. Madamealmost out of her senses with
joy at the first bars of musicwas dancing in the most unrestrained
mannerleaving the dinnerwhich had been already begununfinished.
Her partner was M. de Guichewhowith his arms raisedand his eyes
half closedwas kneeling on one kneelike the Spanish dancerswith
looks full of passionand gestures of the most caressing character. The
princess was dancing round him with a responsive smileand the same air
of alluring seductiveness. Montalais stood by admiringly; La Valliere
seated in a corner of the roomlooked on thoughtfully. It is impossible
to describe the effect which the presence of the prince produced upon
this gleeful companyand it would be equally impossible to describe the
effect which the sight of their happiness produced upon Philip. The
Comte de Guiche had no power to move; Madame remained in the middle of
one of the figures and of an attitudeunable to utter a word. The
Chevalier de Lorraineleaning his back against the doorwaysmiled like
a man in the very height of the frankest admiration. The pallor of the
princeand the convulsive twitching of his hands and limbswere the
first symptoms that struck those present. A dead silence succeeded the
merry music of the dance. The Chevalier de Lorraine took advantage of
this interval to salute Madame and De Guiche most respectfullyaffecting
to join them together in his reverences as though they were the master



and mistress of the house. Monsieur then approached themsayingin a
hoarse tone of voiceI am delighted; I came here expecting to find you
ill and low-spirited, and I find you abandoning yourself to new
amusements; really, it is most fortunate. My house is the pleasantest in
the kingdom.Then turning towards De GuicheComte,he saidI did
not know you were so good a dancer.Andagain addressing his wifehe
saidShow a little more consideration for me, Madame; whenever you
intend to amuse yourselves here, invite me. I am a prince,
unfortunately, very much neglected.

Guiche had now recovered his self-possessionand with the spirited
boldness which was natural to himand sat so well upon himhe said
Your highness knows very well that my very life is at your service, and
whenever there is a question of its being needed, I am ready; but to-day,
as it is only a question of dancing to music, I dance.

And you are perfectly right,said the princecoldly. "ButMadame
he continued, you do not remark that your ladies deprive me of my
friends; M. de Guiche does not belong to youMadamebut to me. If you
wish to dine without me you have your ladies. When I dine alone I have
my gentlemen; do not strip me of _everything_."

Madame felt the reproach and the lessonand the color rushed to her
face. "Monsieur she replied, I was not awarewhen I came to the
court of Francethat princesses of my rank were to be regarded as the
women in Turkey are. I was not aware that we were not allowed to be
seen; butsince such is your desireI will conform myself to it; pray
do not hesitateif you should wish itto have my windows barredeven."

This reparteewhich made Montalais and De Guiche smilerekindled the
prince's angerno inconsiderable portion of which had already evaporated
in words.

Very well,he saidin a concentrated tone of voicethis is the way
in which I am respected in my own house.

Monseigneur, monseigneur,murmured the chevalier in the duke's earin
such a manner that every one could observe he was endeavoring to calm him.

Come,replied the princeas his only answer to the remarkhurrying
him awayand turning round with so hasty a movement that he almost ran
against Madame. The chevalier followed him to his own apartmentwhere
the prince had no sooner seated himself than he gave free vent to his
fury. The chevalier raised his eyes towards the ceilingjoined his
hands togetherand said not a word.

Give me your opinion,exclaimed the prince.

Upon what?

Upon what is taking place here.

Oh, monseigneur, it is a very serious matter.

It is abominable! I cannot live in this manner.

How miserable all this is,said the chevalier. "We hoped to enjoy
tranquillity after that madman Buckingham had left."

And this is worse.

I do not say that, monseigneur.

Yes, but I say it; for Buckingham would never have ventured upon a


fourth part of what we have just now seen.

What do you mean?

To conceal oneself for the purposes of dancing, and to feign
indisposition in order to dine _tete-a-tete_.

No, no, monseigneur.

Yes, yes,exclaimed the princeexciting himself like a self-willed
child; "but I will not endure it any longerI must learn what is really
going on."

Oh, monseigneur, an exposure -

By Heaven, monsieur, _shall_ I put myself out of the way, when people
show so little consideration for me? Wait for me here, chevalier, wait
for me here.The prince disappeared in the neighboring apartment and
inquired of the gentleman in attendance if the queen-mother had returned
from chapel.

Anne of Austria felt that her happiness was now complete; peace restored
to her familya nation delighted with the presence of a young monarch
who had shown an aptitude for affairs of great importance; the revenues
of the state increased; external peace assured; everything seemed to
promise a tranquil future. Her thoughts recurrednow and thento the
poor young nobleman whom she had received as a motherand had driven
away as a hard-hearted step-motherand she sighed as she thought of him.

Suddenly the Duc d'Orleans entered her room. "Dear mother he exclaimed
hurriedly, closing the door, things cannot go on as they are now."

Anne of Austria raised her beautiful eyes towards himand with an
unmoved suavity of mannersaidWhat do you allude to?

I wish to speak of Madame.

Your wife?

Yes, madame.

I suppose that silly fellow Buckingham has been writing a farewell
letter to her.

Oh! yes, madame; of course, it is a question of Buckingham.

Of whom else could it be, then? for that poor fellow was, wrongly
enough, the object of your jealousy, and I thought -

My wife, madame, has already replaced the Duke of Buckingham.

Philip, what are you saying? You are speaking very heedlessly.

No, no. Madame has so managed matters, that I am still jealous.

Of whom, in Heaven's name?

Is it possible you have not remarked it? Have you not noticed that M.
de Guiche is always in her apartments - always with her?

The queen clapped her hands togetherand began to laugh. "Philip she
said, your jealousy is not merely a defectit is a disease."

Whether a defect or a disease, madame, I am the sufferer from it.


And do you imagine that a complaint which exists only in your own
imagination can be cured? You wish it to be said you are right in
being jealous, when there is no ground whatever for your jealousy.

Of course, you will begin to say for this gentleman what you already
said on the behalf of the other.

Because, Philip,said the queen drylywhat you did for the other, you
are going to do for this one.

The prince bowedslightly annoyed. "If I give you facts he said,
will you believe me?"

If it regarded anything else but jealousy, I would believe you without
your bringing facts forward; but as jealousy is the case, I promise
nothing.

It is just the same as if your majesty were to desire me to hold my
tongue, and sent me away unheard.

Far from it; you are my son, I owe you a mother's indulgence.

Oh, say what you think; you owe me as much indulgence as a madman
deserves.

Do not exaggerate, Philip, and take care how you represent your wife to
me as a woman of depraved mind -

But facts, mother, facts!

Well, I am listening.

This morning at ten o'clock they were playing music in Madame's
apartments.

No harm in that, surely.

M. de Guiche was talking with her alone - Ah! I forgot to tell you,
that, during the last ten days, he has never left her side.

If they were doing any harm they would hide themselves.

Very good,exclaimed the dukeI expected you to say that. Pray
remember with precision the words you have just uttered. This morning I
took them by surprise, and showed my dissatisfaction in a very marked
manner.

Rely upon it, that is quite sufficient; it was, perhaps, even a little
too much. These young women easily take offense. To reproach them for
an error they have not committed is, sometimes, almost equivalent to
telling them they might be guilty of even worse.

Very good, very good; but wait a minute. Do not forget what you have
just this moment said, that this morning's lesson ought to have been
sufficient, and that if they had been doing what was wrong, they would
have hidden themselves.

Yes, I said so.

Well, just now, repenting of my hastiness of the morning, and imagining
that Guiche was sulking in his own apartments, I went to pay Madame a
visit. Can you guess what, or whom, I found there? Another set of
musicians; more dancing, and Guiche himself - he was concealed there.


Anne of Austria frowned. "It was imprudent she said. What did Madame
say?"

Nothing.

And Guiche?

As much - oh, no! he muttered some impertinent remark or another.

Well, what is your opinion, Philip?

That I have been made a fool of; that Buckingham was only a pretext, and
that Guiche is the one who is really to blame in the matter.

Anne shrugged her shoulders. "Well she said, what else?"

I wish De Guiche to be dismissed from my household, as Buckingham was,
and I shall ask the king, unless -

Unless what?

Unless you, my dear mother, who are so clever and so kind, will execute
the commission yourself.

I will not do it, Philip.

What, madame?

Listen, Philip; I am not disposed to pay people ill compliments every
day; I have some influence over young people, but I cannot take advantage
of it without running the chances of losing it altogether. Besides,
there is nothing to prove that M. de Guiche is guilty.

He has displeased me.

That is your own affair.

Very well, I know what I shall do,said the princeimpetuously.

Anne looked at him with some uneasiness. "What do you intend to do?" she
said.

I will have him drowned in my fish-pond the very next time I find him in
my apartments again.Having launched this terrible threatthe prince
expected his mother would be frightened out of her senses; but the queen
was unmoved.

Do so,she said.

Philip was as weak as a womanand began to cry outEvery one betrays
me, - no one cares for me; my mother, even, joins my enemies.

Your mother, Philip, sees further in the matter than you do, and does
not care about advising you, since you will not listen to her.

I will go to the king.

I was about to propose that to you. I am now expecting his majesty; it
is the hour he usually pays me a visit; explain the matter to him
yourself.

She had hardly finished when Philip heard the door of the ante-room open
with some noise. He began to feel nervous. At the sound of the king's


footstepswhich could be heard upon the carpetthe duke hurriedly made
his escape. Anne of Austria could not resist laughingand was laughing
still when the king entered. He came very affectionately to inquire
after the even now uncertain health of the queen-motherand to announce
to her that the preparations for the journey to Fontainebleau were
complete. Seeing her laughhis uneasiness on her account diminished
and he addressed her in a vivacious tone himself. Anne of Austria took
him by the handandin a voice full of playfulnesssaidDo you know,
sire that I am proud of being a Spanish woman?

Why, madame?
Because Spanish women are worth more than English women at least.
Explain yourself.
Since your marriage you have not, I believe, had a single reproach to


make against the queen.
Certainly not.
And you, too, have been married some time. Your brother, on the


contrary, has been married but a fortnight.
Well?
He is now finding fault with Madame a second time.
What, Buckingham still?
No, another.
Who?
Guiche.
Really? Madame is a coquette, then?
I fear so.
My poor brother,said the kinglaughing.
You don't object to coquettes, it seems?
In Madame, certainly I do; but Madame is not a coquette at heart.
That may be, but your brother is excessively angry about it.
What does he want?
He wants to drown Guiche.
That is a violent measure to resort to.
Do not laugh; he is extremely irritated. Think of what can be done.
To save Guiche - certainly.
Of, if your brother heard you, he would conspire against you as your


uncle did against your father.
No; Philip has too much affection for me for that, and I, on my side,
have too great a regard for him; we shall live together on very good
terms. But what is the substance of his request?



That you will prevent Madame from being a coquette and Guiche from being
amiable.

Is that all? My brother has an exalted idea of sovereign power. To
reform a man, not to speak about reforming a woman!

How will you set about it?

With a word to Guiche, who is a clever fellow, I will undertake to
convince him.

But Madame?

That is more difficult; a word will not be enough. I will compose a
homily and read it to her.

There is no time to be lost.

Oh, I will use the utmost diligence. There is a repetition of the
ballet this afternoon.

You will read her a lecture while you are dancing?

Yes, madame.

You promise to convert her?

I will root out the heresy altogether, either by convincing her, or by
extreme measures.

That is all right, then. Do not mix me up in the affair; Madame would
never forgive me all her life, and as a mother-in-law, I ought to desire
to live on good terms with my new-found daughter.

The king, madame, will take all upon himself. But let me reflect.

What about?

It would be better, perhaps, if I were to go and see Madame in her own
apartment.

Would that not seem a somewhat serious step to take?

Yes; but seriousness is not unbecoming in preachers, and the music of
the ballet would drown half my arguments. Besides, the object is to
prevent any violent measures on my brother's part, so that a little
precipitation may be advisable. Is Madame in her own apartment?

I believe so.

What is my statement of grievances to consist of?

In a few words, of the following: music uninterruptedly; Guiche's
assiduity; suspicions of treasonable plots and practices.

And the proofs?

There _are_ none.

Very well; I will go at once to see Madame.The king turned to look in
the mirrors at his costumewhich was very richand his facewhich was
radiant as the morning. "I suppose my brother is kept a little at a
distance said the king.


Fire and water cannot be more opposite."

That will do. Permit me, madame, to kiss your hands, the most beautiful
hands in France.

May you be successful, sire, as the family peacemaker.

I do not employ an ambassador,said Louiswhich is as much as to say
that I shall succeed.He laughed as he left the roomand carelessly
adjusted his ruffles as he went along.

Chapter XXXIII:
The Mediator.

When the king made his appearance in Madame's apartmentsthe courtiers
whom the news of a conjugal misunderstanding had dispersed through the
various apartmentsbegan to entertain the most serious apprehensions. A
storm was brewing in that directionthe elements of which the Chevalier
de Lorrainein the midst of the different groupswas analyzing with
delightcontributing to the weakerand actingaccording to his own
wicked designsin such a manner with regard to the strongeras to
produce the most disastrous consequences possible. As Anne of Austria
had herself saidthe presence of the king gave a solemn and serious
character to the event. Indeedin the year 1662the dissatisfaction of
Monsieur with Madameand the king's intervention in the private affairs
of Monsieurwas a matter of no inconsiderable moment.

Transcriber's note: Dumas is mistaken. The events in the following
chapters occurred in 1661. - JB

The boldestevenwho had been the associates of the Comte de Guiche
hadfrom the first momentheld aloof from himwith a sort of nervous
apprehension; and the comte himselfinfected by the general panic
retired to his own room. The king entered Madame's private apartments
acknowledging and returning the salutationsas he was always in the
habit of doing. The ladies of honor were ranged in a line on his passage
along the gallery. Although his majesty was very much preoccupiedhe
gave the glance of a master at the two rows of young and beautiful girls
who modestly cast down their eyesblushing as they felt the king's gaze
fall upon them. One only of the numberwhose long hair fell in silken
masses upon the most beautiful skin imaginablewas paleand could
hardly sustain herselfnotwithstanding the knocks which her companion
gave her with her elbow. It was La Valliere whom Montalais supported in
that manner by whispering some of that courage to her with which she
herself was so abundantly provided. The king could not resist turning
round to look at them again. Their faceswhich had already been raised
were again loweredbut the only fair head among them remained
motionlessas if all the strength and intelligence she had left had
abandoned her. When he entered Madame's roomLouis found his sister-inlaw
reclining upon the cushions of her cabinet. She rose and made a
profound reverencemurmuring some words of thanks for the honor she was
receiving. She then resumed her seatovercome by a sudden weakness
which was no doubt assumedfor a delightful color animated her cheeks
and her eyesstill red from the tears she had recently shednever had
more fire in them. When the king was seatedas soon as he had remarked
with that accuracy of observation which characterized himthe disorder
of the apartmentand the no less great disorder of Madame's countenance
he assumed a playful mannersayingMy dear sister, at what hour to-day
would you wish the repetition of the ballet to take place?

Madameshaking her charming headslowly and languishingly said: "Ah!
sirewill you graciously excuse my appearance at the repetition? I was


about to send to inform you that I could not attend to-day."

Indeed,said the kingin apparent surprise; "are you not well?"

No, sire.

I will summon your medical attendants, then.

No, for they can do nothing for my indisposition.

You alarm me.

Sire, I wish to ask your majesty's permission to return to England.

The king started. "Return to England he said; do you really say what
you mean?"

I say it reluctantly, sire,replied the grand-daughter of Henry IV.
firmlyher beautiful black eyes flashing. "I regret to have to confide
such matters to your majestybut I feel myself too unhappy at your
majesty's court; and I wish to return to my own family."

Madame, madame,exclaimed the kingas he approached her.

Listen to me, sire,continued the young womanacquiring by degrees
that ascendency over her interrogator which her beauty and her nervous
nature conferred; "young as I amI have already suffered humiliation
and have endured disdain here. Oh! do not contradict mesire she
said, with a smile. The king colored.

Then she continued, I had reasoned myself into the belief that Heaven
called me into existence with that object - Ithe daughter of a powerful
monarch; that since my father had been deprived of lifeHeaven could
well smite my pride. I have suffered greatly; I have been the cause
tooof my mother suffering much; but I vowed that if Providence ever
placed me in a position of independenceeven were it that of a workman
of the lower classeswho gains her bread by her laborI would never
suffer humiliation again. That day has now arrived; I have been restored
to the fortune due to my rank and to my birth; I have even ascended again
the steps of a throneand I thought thatin allying myself with a
French princeI should find in him a relationa friendan equal; but I
perceive I have found only a masterand I rebel. My mother shall know
nothing of it; you whom I respectand whom I - love - "

The king started; never had any voice so gratified his ear.

You, sire, who know all, since you have come here; you will, perhaps,
understand me. If you had not come, I should have gone to you. I wish
for permission to go away. I leave it to your delicacy of feeling to
exculpate and to protect me.

My dear sister,murmured the kingoverpowered by this bold attack
have you reflected upon the enormous difficulty of the project you have
conceived?

Sire, I do not reflect, I feel. Attacked, I instinctively repel the
attack, nothing more.

Come, tell me, what have they done to you?said the king.

The princessit will have been seenby this peculiarly feminine
maneuverhad escaped every reproachand advanced on her side a far more
serious one; from the accused she became the accuser. It is an
infallible sign of guilt; but notwithstanding thatall womeneven the


least clever of the sexinvariably know how to derive some such means of
turning the tables. The king had forgotten that he was paying her a
visit in order to say to herWhat have you done to my brother?and he
was reduced to weakly asking herWhat have they done to you?

What have they done to me?replied Madame. "One must be a woman to
understand itsire - they have made me shed tears;" andwith one of her
fingerswhose slenderness and perfect whiteness were unequaledshe
pointed to her brilliant eyes swimming with unshed dropsand again began
to weep.

I implore you, my dear sister!said the kingadvancing to take her
warm and throbbing handwhich she abandoned to him.

In the first place, sire, I was deprived of the presence of my brother's
friend. The Duke of Buckingham was an agreeable, cheerful visitor; my
own countryman, who knew my habits; I will say almost a companion, so
accustomed had we been to pass our days together, with our other friends,
upon the beautiful piece of water at St. James's.

But Villiers was in love with you.

A pretext! What does it matter,she saidseriouslywhether the duke
was in love with me or not? Is a man in love so very dangerous for me?
Ah! sire, it is not sufficient for a man to love a woman.And she
smiled so tenderlyand with so much archnessthat the king felt his
heart swell and throb in his breast.

At all events, if my brother were jealous?interrupted the king.

Very well, I admit that is a reason; and the duke was sent away
accordingly.

No, not sent away.

Driven away, dismissed, expelled, then, if you prefer it, sire. One of
the first gentlemen of Europe obliged to leave the court of the King of
France, of Louis XIV., like a beggar, on account of a glance or a
bouquet. It was little worthy of a most gallant court; but forgive me,
sire; I forgot, that, in speaking thus, I am attacking your sovereign
power.

I assure you, my dear sister, it was not I who dismissed the Duke of
Buckingham; I was charmed with him.

It was not you?said Madame; "ah! so much the better;" and she
emphasized the "so much the better as if she had instead said, so much
the worse."

A few minutes' silence ensued. She then resumed: "The Duke of Buckingham
having left - I now know why and by whose means - I thought I should have
recovered my tranquillity; but not at allfor all at once Monsieur found
another pretext; all at once - "

All at once,said the kingplayfullysome one else presents
himself. It is but natural; you are beautiful, and will always meet with
men who will madly love you.

In that case,exclaimed the princessI will create a solitude around
me, which indeed seems to be what is wished, and what is being prepared
for me. But no, I prefer to return to London. There I am known and
appreciated. I shall have friends, without fearing they may be regarded
as my lovers. Shame! it is a disgraceful suspicion, and unworthy a
gentleman. Monsieur has lost everything in my estimation, since he has


shown me he can be a tyrant to a woman.

Nay, nay, my brother's only fault is that of loving you.

Love me! Monsieur love me! Ah! sire,and she burst out laughing.
Monsieur will never love any woman,she said; "Monsieur loves himself
too much; nounhappily for meMonsieur's jealousy is of the worst kind

-he is jealous without love."
Confess, however,said the kingwho began to be excited by this varied
and animated conversation; "confess that Guiche loves you."

Ah! sire, I know nothing about that.

You must have perceived it. A man who loves readily betrays himself.

M. de Guiche has not betrayed himself.

My dear sister, you are defending M. de Guiche.

I, indeed! Ah, sire, I only needed a suspicion from yourself to crown
my wretchedness.

No, madame, no,returned the kinghurriedly; "do not distress
yourself. Nayyou are weeping. I implore you to calm yourself."

She wepthoweverand large tears fell upon her hands; the king took one
of her hands in hisand kissed the tears away. She looked at him so
sadly and with so much tenderness that he felt his heart giving way under
her gaze.

You have no kind of feeling, then, for Guiche?he saidmore disturbed
than became his character of mediator.

None - absolutely none.

Then I can reassure my brother in that respect?

Nothing will satisfy him, sire. Do not believe he is jealous. Monsieur
has been badly advised by some one, and he is of nervous disposition.

He may well be so when you are concerned,said the king.

Madame cast down her eyesand was silent; the king did so likewise
still holding her hand all the while. Their momentary silence seemed to
last an age. Madame gently withdrew her handand from that momentshe
felt her triumph was certainand that the field of battle was her own.

Monsieur complains,said the kingthat you prefer the society of
private individuals to his own conversation and society.

But Monsieur passes his life in looking at his face in the glass, and in
plotting all sorts of spiteful things against women with the Chevalier de
Lorraine.

Oh, you are going somewhat too far.

I only tell you what is true. Do you observe for yourself, sire, and
you will see that I am right.

I will observe; but, in the meantime, what satisfaction can I give my
brother?

My departure.


You repeat that word,exclaimed the kingimprudentlyas ifduring
the last ten minutessuch a change had been produced that Madame would
have had all her ideas on the subject thoroughly changed.

Sire, I cannot be happy here any longer,she said. "M. de Guiche
annoys Monsieur. Will he be sent awaytoo?"

If it be necessary, why not?replied the kingsmiling.

Well; and after M. de Guiche - whom, by the by, I shall regret - I warn
you, sire.

Ah, you will regret him?

Certainly; he is amiable, he has a great friendship for me, and he
amuses me.

If Monsieur were only to hear you,said the kingslightly annoyeddo
you know I would not undertake to make it up again between you; nay, I
would not even attempt it.

Sire, can you, even now, prevent Monsieur from being jealous of the
first person who may approach? I know very well that M. de Guiche is not
the first.

Again I warn you that as a good brother I shall take a dislike to De
Guiche.

Ah, sire, do not, I entreat you, adopt either the sympathies or the
dislikes of Monsieur. Remain king; better for yourself and for every one
else.

You jest charmingly, madame; and I can well understand how the people
you attack must adore you.

And is that the reason why you, sire, whom I had regarded as my
defender, are about to join these who persecute me?said Madame.

I your persecutor! Heaven forbid!

Then,she continuedlanguishinglygrant me a favor.

Whatever you wish.

Let me return to England.

Never, never!exclaimed Louis XIV.

I am a prisoner, then?

In France - if France is a prison - yes.

What must I do, then?

I will tell you. Instead of devoting yourself to friendships which are
somewhat unstable, instead of alarming us by your retirement, remain
always in our society, do not leave us, let us live as a united family.

M. de Guiche is certainly very amiable; but if, at least, we do not
possess his wit -
Ah, sire, you know very well you are pretending to be modest.

No, I swear to you. One may be a king, and yet feel that he possesses


fewer chances of pleasing than many other gentlemen.
I am sure, sire, that you do not believe a single word you are saying.
The king looked at Madame tenderlyand saidWill you promise me one


thing?
What is it?
That you will no longer waste upon strangers, in your own apartments,


the time which you owe us. Shall we make an offensive and defensive
alliance against the common enemy?
An alliance with you, sire?
Why not? Are you not a sovereign power?
But are you, sire, a reliable ally?
You shall see, madame.
And when shall this alliance commence?
This very day.
I will draw up the treaty, and you shall sign it.


Blindly.
Then, sire, I promise you wonders; you are the star of the court, and
when you make your appearance, everything will be resplendent.


Oh, madame, madame,said Louis XIV.you know well that there is no
brilliancy that does not proceed from yourself, and that if I assume the
sun as my device, it is only an emblem.

Sire, you flatter your ally, and you wish to deceive her,said Madame
threatening the king with her finger menacingly raised.
What! you believe I am deceiving you, when I assure you of my affection?
Yes.
What makes you so suspicious?
One thing.


What is it? I shall indeed be unhappy if I do not overcome it.
That one thing in question, sire, is not in your power, not even in the
power of Heaven.


Tell me what it is.
The past.
I do not understand, madame,said the kingprecisely because he had


understood her but too well.
The princess took his hand in hers. "Sire she said, I have had the
misfortune to displease you for so long a periodthat I have almost the
right to ask myself to-day why you were able to accept me as a sister-inlaw."



Displease me! You have displeased me?

Nay, do not deny it, for I remember it well.

Our alliance shall date from to-day,exclaimed the kingwith a warmth
that was not assumed. "You will not think any more of the pastwill
you? I myself am resolved that I will not. I shall always remember the
present; I have it before my eyes; look." And he led the princess before
a mirrorin which she saw herself reflectedblushing and beautiful
enough to overcome a saint.

It is all the same,she murmured; "it will not be a very worthy
alliance."

Must I swear?inquired the kingintoxicated by the voluptuous turn the
whole conversation had taken.

Oh, I will not refuse to witness a resounding oath,said Madame; "it
has always the _semblance_ of security."

The king knelt upon a footstool and took Madame's hand. Shewith a
smile that no painter could ever succeed in depictingand which a poet
might only imaginegave him both her handsin which he hid his burning
face. Neither of them could utter a syllable. The king felt Madame
withdraw her handscaressing his face while she did so. He rose
immediately and left the apartment. The courtiers remarked his
heightened colorand concluded that the scene had been a stormy one.
The Chevalier de Lorrainehoweverhastened to sayNay, be comforted,
gentlemen, his majesty is always pale when he is angry.

Chapter XXXIV:
The Advisers.

The king left Madame in a state of agitation it would have been difficult
even for himself to have explained. It is impossiblein factto depict
the secret play of those strange sympathies whichsuddenly and
apparently without any causeare excitedafter many years passed in the
greatest calmness and indifferenceby two hearts destined to love each
other. Why had Louis formerly disdainedalmost hatedMadame? Why did
he now find the same woman so beautifulso captivating? And whynot
only were his thoughts occupied about herbut still morewhy were they
so continuously occupied about her? Whyin facthad Madamewhose eyes
and mind were sought for in another directionshown during the last week
towards the king a semblance of favor which encouraged the belief of
still greater regard. It must not be supposed that Louis proposed to
himself any plan of seduction; the tie which united Madame to his brother
wasor at leastseemed to himan insuperable barrier; he was even too
far removed from that barrier to perceive its existence. But on the
downward path of those passions in which the heart rejoicestowards
which youth impels usno one can decide where to stopnot even the man
who has in advance calculated all the chances of his own success or
another's submission. As far as Madame was concernedher regard for the
king may easily be explained: she was younga coquetteand ardently
fond of admiration. Hers was one of those buoyantimpetuous natures
which upon a theatre would leap over the greatest obstacles to obtain an
acknowledgement of applause from the spectators. It was not surprising
thenthatafter having been adored by Buckinghamby De Guichewho was
superior to Buckinghameven if it were only from that negative meritso
much appreciated by womenthat is to saynovelty - it was not
surprisingwe saythat the princess should raise her ambition to being
admired by the kingwho not only was the first person in the kingdom
but was one of the handsomest and cleverest men in Europe. As for the
sudden passion with which Louis was inspired for his sister-in-law


physiology would perhaps supply an explanation by some hackneyed
commonplace reasonsand nature by means of her mysterious affinity of
characters. Madame had the most beautiful black eyes in the world;
Louiseyes as beautifulbut blue. Madame was laughter-loving and
unreserved in her manners; Louismelancholy and diffident. Summoned to
meet each other for the first time upon the grounds of interest and
common curiositythese two opposite natures were mutually influenced by
the mingling of their reciprocal contradictions of character. Louis
when he returned to his own roomsacknowledged to himself that Madame
was the most attractive woman of his court. Madameleft alone
delightedly thought that she had made a great impression on the king.
This feeling with her must remain passivewhilst the king could not but
act with all the natural vehemence of the heated fancies of a young man
and of a young man who has but to express a wish to see his wish fulfilled.

The first thing the king did was to announce to Monsieur that everything
was quietly arranged; that Madame had the greatest respectthe sincerest
affection for him; but that she was of a proudimpetuous characterand
that her susceptibilities were so acute as to require very careful
management.

Monsieur replied in the reticent tone of voice he generally adopted with
his brotherthat he could not very well understand the susceptibilities
of a woman whose conduct mightin his opinionexpose her to censorious
remarksand that if any one had a right to feel woundedit was he
Monsieur himself. To this the king replied in a quick tone of voice
which showed the interest he took in his sister-in-lawThank Heaven,
Madame is above censure.

The censure of others, certainly, I admit,said Monsieur; "but not
above mineI presume."

Well,said the kingall I have to say, Philip, is that Madame's
conduct does not deserve your censure. She certainly is heedless and
singular, but professes the best feelings. The English character is not
always well understood in France, and the liberty of English manners
sometimes surprises those who do not know the extent to which this
liberty is enriched by innocence.

Ah!said Monsieurmore and more piquedfrom the very moment that
your majesty absolves my wife, whom I accuse, my wife is not guilty, and
I have nothing more to say.

Philip,replied the king hastilyfor he felt the voice of conscience
murmuring softly in his heartthat Monsieur was not altogether wrong
what I have done, and what I have said, has been only for your
happiness. I was told that you complained of a want of confidence and
attention on Madame's part, and I did not wish your uneasiness to be
prolonged. It is part of my duty to watch over your household, as over
that of the humblest of my subjects. I have satisfied myself, therefore,
with the sincerest pleasure, that your apprehensions have no foundation.

And,continued Monsieurin an interrogative tone of voiceand fixing
his eyes upon his brotherwhat your majesty has discovered for Madame
and I bow myself to your superior judgment - have you verified for those
who have been the cause of the scandal of which I complain?

You are right, Philip,said the king; "I will reserve that point for
future consideration."

These words comprised an order as well as a consolation; the prince felt
it to be soand withdrew.

As for Louishe went to seek his motherfor he felt that he had need of


a more complete absolution than that he had just received from his
brother. Anne of Austria did not entertain for M. de Guiche the same
reasons for indulgence she had had for Buckingham. She perceivedat the
very first words he pronouncedthat Louis was not disposed to be severe.

To appear in a contradictory humor was one of the stratagems of the good
queenin order to succeed in ascertaining the truth. But Louis was no
longer in his apprenticeship; already for more than a year past he had
been kingand during that year he had learned how to dissemble.
Listening to Anne of Austriain order to permit her to disclose her own
thoughtstestifying his approval only by look and gesturehe became
convincedfrom certain piercing glancesand from certain skillful
insinuationsthat the queenso clear-sighted in matters of gallantry
hadif not guessedat least suspectedhis weakness for Madame. Of all
his auxiliariesAnne of Austria would be the most important to secure;
of all his enemiesAnne of Austria would prove most dangerous. Louis
thereforechanged his maneuvers. He complained of Madameabsolved
Monsieurlistened to what his mother had to say of De Guicheas he had
previously listened to what she had to say of Buckinghamand thenwhen
he saw that she thought she had gained a complete victory over himhe
left her.

The whole of the courtthat is to sayall the favorites and more
intimate associatesand they were numeroussince there were already
five masterswere assembled in the evening for the repetition of the
ballet. This interval had been occupied by poor De Guiche in receiving
visits; among the number was one which he hoped and feared nearly to an
equal extent. It was that of the Chevalier de Lorraine. About three
o'clock in the afternoon the chevalier entered De Guiche's rooms. His
looks were of the most reassuring character. "Monsieur said he to De
Guiche, was in an excellent humorand no none could say that the
slightest cloud had passed across the conjugal sky. BesidesMonsieur
was not one to bear ill-feeling."

For a long time pastduring his residence at the courtthe Chevalier de
Lorraine had decidedthat of Louis XIII.'s two sonsMonsieur was the
one who had inherited the father's character - an uncertainirresolute
character; impulsively goodindifferently disposed at bottom; but
certainly a cipher for his friends. He especially cheered De Guicheby
pointing out to him that Madame wouldbefore longsucceed in governing
her husbandand thatconsequentlythat man would govern Monsieur who
should succeed in influencing Madame.

To thisDe Guiche full of mistrust and presence of mindrepliedYes,
chevalier; but I believe Madame to be a very dangerous person.

In what respect?

She has perceived that Monsieur is not very passionately inclined
towards women.

Quite true,said the Chevalier de Lorrainelaughing.

In that case, Madame will choose the first one who approaches, in order
to make him the object of her preference, and to bring back her husband
by jealousy.

Deep! deep!exclaimed the chevalier.

But true,replied De Guiche.

Neither the one nor the other expressed his real thought. De Guicheat
the very moment he thus attacked Madame's charactermentally asked her
forgiveness from the bottom of his heart. The chevalierwhile admiring


De Guiche's penetrationwas leading himblindfoldedto the brink of
the precipice. De Guiche then questioned him more directly upon the
effect produced by the scene of the morningand upon the still more
serious effect produced by the scene at dinner.

But I have already told you they are all laughing at it,replied the
Chevalier de Lorraineand Monsieur himself at the head of them.

Yet,hazarded De GuicheI have heard that the king paid Madame a
visit.

Yes, precisely so. Madame was the only one who did not laugh, and the
king went to her in order to make her laugh, too.

So that -

So that nothing is altered in the arrangements of the day,said the
chevalier.

And is there a repetition of the ballet this evening?

Certainly.

Are you sure?

Quite,returned the chevalier.

At this moment of the conversation between the two young menRaoul
enteredlooking full of anxiety. As soon as the chevalierwho had a
secret dislike for himas for every other noble characterperceived him
enterhe rose from his seat.

What do you advise me to do, then?inquired De Guiche of the chevalier.

I advise you to go to sleep in perfect tranquillity, my dear count.

And my advice, De Guiche,said Raoulis the very opposite.

What is that?

To mount your horse and set off at once for one of your estates; on your
arrival, follow the chevalier's advice, if you like; and, what is more,
you can sleep there as long and as tranquilly as you please.

What! set off!exclaimed the chevalierfeigning surprise; "why should
De Guiche set off?"

Because, and you cannot be ignorant of it - you particularly so
because every one is talking about the scene which has passed between
Monsieur and De Guiche.

De Guiche turned pale.

Not at all,replied the chevaliernot at all; and you have been
wrongly informed, M. de Bragelonne.

I have been perfectly well informed, on the contrary, monsieur,replied
Raouland the advice I give De Guiche is that of a friend.

During this discussionDe Guichesomewhat shakenlooked alternately
first at one and then at the other of his advisers. He inwardly felt
that a gameimportant in all its consequences for the rest of his life
was being played at that moment.


Is it not fact,said the chevalierputting the question to the count
himselfis it not fact, De Guiche, that the scene was not so
tempestuous as the Vicomte de Bragelonne seems to think, and who,
moreover, was not himself there?

Whether tempestuous or not,persisted Raoulit is not precisely of
the scene itself that I am speaking, but of the consequences that may
ensue. I know that Monsieur has threatened, I know that Madame has been
in tears.

Madame in tears!exclaimed De Guicheimprudently clasping his hands.

Ah!said the chevalierlaughingthis is indeed a circumstance I was
not acquainted with. You are decidedly better informed than I am,
Monsieur de Bragelonne.

And it is because I am better informed than yourself, chevalier, that I
insist upon De Guiche leaving.

No, no; I regret to differ from you, vicomte; but his departure is
unnecessary. Why, indeed, should he leave? tell us why.

The king!

The king!exclaimed De Guiche.

Yes; I tell you the king has taken up the affair.

Bah!said the chevalierthe king likes De Guiche, and particularly
his father; reflect, that, if the count were to leave, it would be an
admission that he had done something which merited rebuke.

Why so?

No doubt of it; when one runs away, it is either from guilt or fear.

Sometimes, because a man is offended; often because he is wrongfully
accused,said Bragelonne. "We will assign as a reason for his
departurethat he feels hurt and injured - nothing will be easier; we
will say that we both did our utmost to keep himand youat leastwill
not be speaking otherwise than the truth. ComeDe Guicheyou are
innocentandbeing sothe scene of to-day must have wounded you. So
set off."

No, De Guiche, remain where you are,said the chevalier; "precisely as

M. de Bragelonne has put itbecause you are innocent. Once more
forgive mevicomte; but my opinion is the very opposite to your own."
And you are at perfect liberty to maintain it, monsieur; but be assured
that the exile which De Guiche will voluntarily impose upon himself will
be of short duration. He can terminate it whenever he pleases, and
returning from his voluntary exile, he will meet with smiles from all
lips; while, on the contrary, the anger of the king may now draw down a
storm upon his head, the end of which no one can foresee.

The chevalier smiledand muttered to himselfThat is the very thing I
wish.And at the same time he shrugged his shouldersa movement which
did not escape the countwho dreadedif he quitted the courtto seem
to yield to a feeling of fear.

No, no; I have decided, Bragelonne; I stay.

I prophesy, then,said Raoulsadlythat misfortune will befall you,
De Guiche.


I, too, am a prophet, but not a prophet of evil; on the contrary, count,
I say to you, 'remain.'

Are you sure,inquired De Guichethat the repetition of the ballet
still takes place?

Quite sure.

Well, you see, Raoul,continued De Guicheendeavoring to smileyou
see, the court is not so very sorrowful, or so readily disposed for
internal dissensions, when dancing is carried on with such assiduity.
Come, acknowledge that,said the count to Raoulwho shook his head
sayingI have nothing to add.

But,inquired the chevaliercurious to learn whence Raoul had obtained
his informationthe exactitude of which he was inwardly forced to admit
since you say you are well informed, vicomte, how can you be better
informed than myself, who am one of the prince's most intimate
companions?

To such a declaration I submit. You certainly ought to be perfectly
well informed, I admit; and, as a man of honor is incapable of saying
anything but what he knows to be true, or of speaking otherwise than what
he thinks, I will say no more, but confess myself defeated, and leave you
in possession of the field of battle.

Whereupon Raoulwho now seemed only to care to be left quietthrew
himself upon a couchwhilst the count summoned his servants to aid him
in dressing. The chevalierfinding that time was passing awaywished
to leave; but he fearedtoothat Raoulleft alone with De Guiche
might yet influence him to change his mind. He therefore made use of his
last resource.

Madame,he saidwill be brilliant; she appears to-day in her costume
of Pomona.

Yes, that is so,exclaimed the count.

And she has just given directions in consequence,continued the
chevalier. "You knowMonsieur de Bragelonnethat the king is to appear
as Spring."

It will be admirable,said De Guiche; "and that is a better reason for
me to remain than any you have yet givenbecause I am to appear as
Autumnand shall have to dance with Madame. I cannot absent myself
without the king's orderssince my departure would interrupt the ballet."

I,said the chevalieram to be only a simple _egypan_; true, it is, I
am a bad dancer, and my legs are not well made. Gentlemen, adieu. Do
not forget the basket of fruit, which you are to offer to Pomona, count.

Rest assured,said De GuichedelightedlyI shall forget nothing.

I am now quite certain that he will remain,murmured the Chevalier de
Lorraine to himself.

Raoulwhen the chevalier had leftdid not even attempt to dissuade his
friendfor he felt that it would be trouble thrown away; he merely
observed to the comtein his melancholy and melodious voiceYou are
embarking in a most dangerous enterprise. I know you well; you go to
extremes in everything, and the lady you love does so, too. Admitting
for an instant that she should at last love you -


Oh, never!exclaimed De Guiche.

Why do you say never?

Because it would be a great misfortune for both of us.

In that case, instead of regarding you simply imprudent, I cannot but
consider you absolutely mad.

Why?

Are you perfectly sure - mind, answer me frankly - that you do not wish
her whom you love to make any sacrifice for you?

Yes, yes; quite sure.

Love her, then, at a distance.

What! at a distance?

Certainly; what matters being present or absent, since you expect
nothing from her? Love her portrait, a memento.

Raoul!

Love is a shadow, an illusion, a chimera; be devoted to the affection
itself, in giving a name to your ideality.

Ah!

You turn away; your servants approach. I will say no more. In good or
bad fortune, De Guiche, depend on me.

Indeed I shall do so.

Very well; that is all I had to say to you. Spare no pains in your
person, De Guiche, and look your very best. Adieu.

You will not be present, then, at the ballet, vicomte?

No; I shall have a visit to pay in town. Farewell, De Guiche.

The reception was to take place in the king's apartments. In the first
placethere were the queensthen Madameand a few ladies of the court
who had been carefully selected. A great number of courtiersalso
selectedoccupied the timebefore the dancing commencedin conversing
as people knew how to converse in those times. None of the ladies who
had received invitations appeared in the costumes of the _fete_as the
Chevalier de Lorraine had predictedbut many conversations took place
about the rich and ingenious toilettes designed by different painters for
the ballet of "The Demi-Gods for thus were termed the kings and queens
of which Fontainebleau was about to become the Pantheon. Monsieur
arrived, holding in his hand a drawing representing his character; he
looked somewhat anxious; he bowed courteously to the young queen and his
mother, but saluted Madame almost cavalierly. His notice of her and his
coldness of manner were observed by all. M. de Guiche indemnified the
princess by a look of passionate devotion, and it must be admitted that
Madame, as she raised her eyes, returned it to him with interest. It is
unquestionable that De Guiche had never looked so handsome, for Madame's
glance had its customary effect of lighting up the features of the son of
the Marshal de Gramont. The king's sister-in-law felt a storm mustering
above her head; she felt, too, that during the whole of the day, so
fruitful in future events, she had acted unjustly, if not treasonably,
towards one who loved her with such a depth of devotion. In her eyes the


moment seemed to have arrived for an acknowledgement to the poor victim
of the injustice of the morning. Her heart spoke, and murmured the name
of De Guiche; the count was sincerely pitied and accordingly gained the
victory over all others. Neither Monsieur, nor the king, nor the Duke of
Buckingham, was any longer thought of; De Guiche at that moment reigned
without a rival. But although Monsieur also looked very handsome, still
he could not be compared to the count. It is well known - indeed all
women say so - that a wide difference invariably exists between the good
looks of a lover and those of a husband. Besides, in the present case,
after Monsieur had left, and after the courteous and affectionate
recognition of the young queen and of the queen-mother, and the careless
and indifferent notice of Madame, which all the courtiers had remarked;
all these motives gave the lover the advantage over the husband.
Monsieur was too great a personage to notice these details. Nothing is
so certain as a well settled idea of superiority to prove the inferiority
of the man who has that opinion of himself. The king arrived. Every one
looked for what might possibly happen in the glance, which began to
bestir the world, like the brow of Jupiter Tonans. Louis had none of
his brother's gloominess, but was perfectly radiant. Having examined the
greater part of the drawings which were displayed for his inspection on
every side, he gave his opinion or made his remarks upon them, and in
this manner rendered some happy and others wretched by a single word.
Suddenly his glance, which was smilingly directed towards Madame,
detected the slight correspondence established between the princess and
the count. He bit his lips, but when he opened them again to utter a few
commonplace remarks, he said, advancing towards the queens:


I have just been informed that everything is now prepared at
Fontainebleauin accordance with my directions." A murmur of
satisfaction arose from the different groupsand the king perceived on
every face the greatest anxiety to receive an invitation for the
_fetes_. "I shall leave to-morrow he added. Whereupon the profoundest
silence immediately ensued. And I invite said the king, finishing,
all those who are now present to get ready to accompany me."

Smiling faces were now everywhere visiblewith the exception of
Monsieurwho seemed to retain his ill-humor. The different noblemen and
ladies of the court thereupon defiled before the kingone after the
otherin order to thank his majesty for the great honor which had been
conferred upon them by the invitation. When it came to De Guiche's turn
the king saidAh! M. de Guiche, I did not see you.

The comte bowedand Madame turned pale. De Guiche was about to open his
lips to express his thankswhen the king saidComte, this is the
season for farming purposes in the country; I am sure your tenants in
Normandy will be glad to see you.

The kingafter this pitiless attackturned his back on the poor comte
whose turn it was now to become pale; he advanced a few steps towards the
kingforgetting that the king is never spoken to except in reply to
questions addressed.

I have perhaps misunderstood your majesty,he stammered out.

The king turned his head slightlyand with a cold and stern glance
which plunged like a sword relentlessly into the hearts of those under
disgracerepeatedI said retire to your estates,allowing every
syllable to fall slowly one by one.

A cold perspiration bedewed the comte's facehis hands convulsively
openedand his hatwhich he held between his trembling fingersfell to
the ground. Louis sought his mother's glanceas though to show her that
he was master; he sought his brother's triumphant lookas if to ask him
if he were satisfied with the vengeance taken; and lastlyhis eyes fell


upon Madame; but the princess was laughing and smiling with Madame de
Noailles. She heard nothingor rather had pretended not to hear at
all. The Chevalier de Lorraine looked on alsowith one of those looks
of fixed hostility that seemed to give to a man's glance the power of a
lever when it raises an obstaclewrests it awayand casts it to a
distance. M. de Guiche was left alone in the king's cabinetthe whole
of the company having departed. Shadows seemed to dance before his
eyes. He suddenly broke through the settled despair that overwhelmed
himand flew to hide himself in his own roomwhere Raoul awaited him
immovable in his own sad presentiments.

Well?he murmuredseeing his friend enterbareheadedwith a wild
gaze and tottering gait.

Yes, yes, it is true,said De Guicheunable to utter moreand falling
exhausted upon the couch.

And she?inquired Raoul.

She,exclaimed his unhappy friendas he raised his hand clenched in
angertowards Heaven. "She! - "

What did she say and do?

She said that her dress suited her admirably, and then she laughed.

A fit of hysteric laughter seemed to shatter his nervesfor he fell
backwardscompletely overcome.

Chapter XXXV:
Fontainebleau.

For four daysevery kind of enchantment brought together in the
magnificent gardens of Fontainebleau had converted this spot into a place
of the most perfect enjoyment. M. Colbert seemed gifted with ubiquity.
In the morning there were the accounts of the previous night's expenses
to settle; during the dayprogrammesessaysenrolmentspayments. M.
Colbert had amassed four millions of francsand dispersed them with
sleepless economy. He was horrified at the expenses which mythology
involved; not a wood nymphnor a dryadthat cost less than a hundred
francs a day! The dress alone amounted to three hundred francs. The
expense of powder and sulphur for fireworks amountedevery nightto a
hundred thousand francs. In addition to thesethe illuminations on the
borders of the sheet of water cost thirty thousand francs every evening.
The _fetes_ had been magnificent; and Colbert could not restrain his
delight. From time to timehe noticed Madame and the king setting forth
on hunting expeditionsor preparing for the reception of different
fantastic personagessolemn ceremonialswhich had been extemporized a
fortnight beforeand in which Madame's sparkling wit and the king's
magnificence were equally well displayed.

For Madamethe heroine of the _fete_replied to the addresses of the
deputations from unknown races - GaramanthsScythiansHyperboreans
Caucasiansand Patagonianswho seemed to issue from the ground for the
purpose of approaching her with their congratulations; and upon every
representative of these races the king bestowed a diamondor some other
article of value. Then the deputiesin verses more or less amusing
compared the king to the sunMadame to Phoebethe sun's sisterand the
queen and Monsieur were no more spoken of than if the king had married
Henrietta of Englandand not Maria Theresa of Austria. The happy pair
hand in handimperceptibly pressing each other's fingersdrank in deep
draughts the sweet beverage of adulationby which the attractions of
youthbeautypower and love are enhanced. Every one at Fontainebleau


was amazed at the extent of the influence which Madame had so rapidly
acquired over the kingand whispered among themselves that Madame was
in point of factthe true queen; and in effectthe king himself
proclaimed its truth by his every thoughtwordand look. He formed his
wisheshe drew his inspirations from Madame's eyesand his delight was
unbounded when Madame deigned to smile upon him. And was Madameon her
sideintoxicated with the power she wieldedas she beheld every one at
her feet? This was a question she herself could hardly answer; but what
she did know wasthat she could frame no wishand that she felt herself
to be perfectly happy. The result of all these changesthe source of
which emanated from the royal willwas that Monsieurinstead of being
the second person in the kingdomhadin realitybecome the third. And
it was now far worse than in the time when De Guiche's guitars were heard
in Madame's apartments; forthenat leastMonsieur had the
satisfaction of frightening those who annoyed him. Since the departure
howeverof the enemywho had been driven away by means of his alliance
with the kingMonsieur had to submit to a burdenheavierbut in a very
different senseto his former one. Every evening Madame returned home
quite exhausted. Horse-ridingbathing in the Seinespectaclesdinners
under the leafy covert of the treesballs on the banks of the grand
canalconcertsetc.etc.; all this would have been sufficient to have
killednot a slight and delicate womanbut the strongest porter in the
_chateau_. It is perfectly true thatwith regard to dancingconcerts
and promenadesand such mattersa woman is far stronger than the most
robust of porters. Buthowever great a woman's strength may bethere
is a limit to itand she cannot hold out long under such a system. As
for Monsieurhe had not even the satisfaction of witnessing Madame's
abdication of her royalty in the eveningfor she lived in the royal
pavilion with the young queen and the queen-mother. As a matter of
coursethe Chevalier de Lorraine did not quit Monsieurand did not fail
to distil drops of gall into every wound the latter received. The result
wasthat Monsieur - who had at first been in the highest spiritsand
completely restored since Guiche's departure - subsided into his
melancholy state three days after the court was installed at
Fontainebleau.

It happenedhoweverthatone dayabout two o'clock in the afternoon
Monsieurwho had risen lateand had bestowed upon his toilet more than
his usual attention- it happenedwe repeatthat Monsieurwho had not
heard of any plans having been arranged for the dayformed the project
of collecting his own courtand of carrying Madame off with him to
Moretwhere he possessed a charming country house. He accordingly went
to the queen's pavilionand was astonishedon enteringto find none of
the royal servants in attendance. Quite alonethereforehe entered the
roomsa door on the left opening to Madame's apartmentthe one on the
right to the young queen's. In his wife's apartmentMonsieur was
informedby a sempstress who was working therethat every one had left
at eleven o'clockfor the purpose of bathing in the Seinethat a grand
_fete_ was to be made of the expeditionthat all the carriages had been
placed at the park gatesand that they had all set out more than an hour
ago.

Very good,said Monsieurthe idea is a good one; the heat is very
oppressive, and I have no objection to bathe, too.

He summoned his servantsbut no one came. He summoned those in
attendance on Madamebut everybody had gone out. He went to the
stableswhere he was informed by a groom that there were no carriages of
any description. He desired that a couple of horses should be saddled
one for himself and the other for his valet. The groom told him that all
the horses had been sent away. Monsieurpale with angeragain
descended towards the queen's apartmentsand penetrated as far as Anne
of Austria's oratorywhere he perceivedthrough the half-opened
tapestry-hangingshis young and beautiful sister on her knees before the


queen-motherwho appeared weeping bitterly. He had not been either seen
or heard. He cautiously approached the openingand listenedthe sight
of so much grief having aroused his curiosity. Not only was the young
queen weepingbut she was complaining also. "Yes she said, the king
neglects methe king devotes himself to pleasures and amusements only
in which I have no share."

Patience, patience, my daughter,said Anne of Austriain Spanish; and
thenalso in Spanishadded some words of advicewhich Monsieur did not
understand. The queen replied by accusationsmingled with sighs and
sobsamong which Monsieur often distinguished the word _banos_which
Maria Theresa accentuated with spiteful anger.

The baths,said Monsieur to himself; "it seems it is the baths that
have put her out." And he endeavored to put together the disconnected
phrases which he had been able to understand. It was easy to guess that
the queen was complaining bitterlyand thatif Anne of Austria did not
console hershe at least endeavored to do so. Monsieur was afraid to be
detected listening at the door and he therefore made up his mind to
cough; the two queens turned round at the sound and Monsieur entered. At
sight of the princethe young queen rose precipitatelyand dried her
tears. Monsieurhoweverknew the people he had to deal with too well
and was naturally too polite to remain silentand he accordingly saluted
them. The queen-mother smiled pleasantly at himsayingWhat do you
want, Philip?

I? - nothing,stammered Monsieur. "I was looking for - "

Whom?

I was looking for Madame.

Madame is at the baths.

And the king?said Monsieurin a tone which made the queen tremble.

The king also, the whole court as well,replied Anne of Austria.

Except you, madame,said Monsieur.

Oh! I,said the young queenI seem to terrify all those who amuse
themselves.

And so do I, - judging from appearances,rejoined Monsieur.

Anne of Austria made a sigh to her daughter-in-lawwho withdrewweeping.

Monsieur's brows contractedas he remarked aloudWhat a cheerless
house. What do you think of it, mother?

Why, no; everybody here is pleasure-hunting.

Yes, indeed, that is the very thing that makes those dull who do not
care for pleasure.

In what a tone you say that, Philip.

Upon my word, madame, I speak as I think.

Explain yourself; what is the matter?

Ask my sister-in-law, rather, who, just now, was detailing all her
grievances to you.


Her grievances, what -

Yes, I was listening; accidentally, I confess, but still I listened - so
that I heard only too well my sister complain of those famous baths of
Madame -

Ah! folly!

No, no, no; people are not always foolish when they weep. The queen
said _banos_, which means baths.

I repeat, Philip,said Anne of Austriathat your sister is childishly
jealous.

In that case, madame,replied the princeI, too, must with great
humility accuse myself of possessing the same defect.

You also, Philip?

Certainly.

Are you really jealous of these baths?

And why not, madame, when the king goes to the baths with my wife, and
does not take the queen? Why not, when Madame goes to the baths with the
king, and does not do me the honor to even invite me? And you enjoin my
sister-in-law to be satisfied, and require me to be satisfied, too.

You are raving, my dear Philip,said Anne of Austria; "you have driven
the Duke of Buckingham away; you have been the cause of M. de Guiche's
exile; do you now wish to send the king away from Fontainebleau?"

I do not pretend to anything of the kind, madame,said Monsieur
bitterly; "butat leastI can withdrawand I shall do so."

Jealous of the king - jealous of your brother?

Yes, madame, I am jealous of the king - of my own brother, and
remarkably jealous, too.

Really, Monsieur,exclaimed Anne of Austriaaffecting to be indignant
I begin to believe you are mad, and a sworn enemy to my repose. I
therefore abandon the place to you, for I have no means of defending
myself against such monomanias.

She arose and left Monsieur a prey to the most extravagant transport of
passion. He remained for a moment completely bewildered; then
recovering himselfagain went to the stablesfound the groomonce
more asked him for a carriage or a horseand upon his reply that there
was neither the one or the otherMonsieur snatched a long whip from the
hand of a stable-boyand began to pursue the poor devil of a groom all
round the servants' courtyardwhipping him the whilein spite of his
cries and excuses; thenquite out of breathcovered with perspiration
and trembling in every limbhe returned to his own apartmentsbroke in
pieces some beautiful specimens of porcelainand then got into bed
booted and spurred as he wascrying out for some one to come to him.

Transcriber's note: In the five-volume editionVolume 2 ends here. - JB

Chapter XXXVI:
The Bath.

At Vulainesbeneath the impenetrable shade of flowering osiers and


willowswhichas they bent down their green headsdipped the
extremities of their branches in the blue watersa long and flatbottomed
boatwith ladders covered with long blue curtainsserved as a
refuge for the bathing Dianaswhoas they left the waterwere watched
by twenty plumed Acteonswhoeagerlyand full of admirationgalloped
up and down the flowery banks of the river. But Diana herselfeven the
chaste Dianaclothed in her long chlamyswas less beautiful - less
impenetrablethan Madameas young and beautiful as that goddess
herself. Fornotwithstanding the fine tunic of the huntressher round
and delicate knee can be seen; and notwithstanding the sonorous quiver
her brown shoulders can be detected; whereasin Madame's casea long
white veil enveloped herwrapping her round and round a hundred times
as she resigned herself into the hands of her female attendantsand thus
was rendered inaccessible to the most indiscreetas well as to the most
penetrating gaze. When she ascended the ladderthe poets were present
and all were poets when Madame was the subject of discussion - the twenty
poets who were galloping aboutstoppedand with one voiceexclaimed
that pearlsand not drops of waterwere falling from her personto be
lost again in the happy river. The kingthe center of these effusions
and of this respectful homageimposed silence upon those expatiators
for whom it seemed impossible to exhaust their rapturesand he rode
awayfor fear of offendingeven through the silken curtainsthe
modesty of the woman and the dignity of the princess. A great blank
thereupon ensued in the sceneand perfect silence in the boat. From the
movements on board - from the flutterings and agitations of the curtains

-the goings to and fro of the female attendants engaged in their duties
could be guessed.
The king smilingly listened to the conversation of the courtiers around
himbut it could easily be perceived that he gave but littleif any
attention to their remarks. In facthardly had the sound of the rings
drawn along the curtain-rods announced that Madame was dressedand that
the goddess was about to make her reappearancethan the kingreturning
to his former post immediatelyand running quite close to the riverbank
gave the signal for all those to approach whose duty or pleasure
summoned them to Madame's side. The pages hurried forwardconducting
the led horses; the carriageswhich had remained sheltered under the
treesadvanced towards the tentfollowed by a crowd of servants
bearersand female attendantswhowhile their masters had been
bathinghad mutually exchanged their own observationscritical remarks
and the discussion of matters personal - the fugitive journal of that
periodof which no one now remembers anythingnot even by the waves
the witnesses of what went on that day - themselves now sublimed into
immensityas the actors have vanished into eternity.

A crowd of people swarming upon the banks of the riverwithout reckoning
the groups of peasants drawn together by their anxiety to see the king
and the princesswasfor many minutesthe most disorderlybut the
most agreeablemob imaginable. The king dismounted from his horsea
movement which was imitated by all the courtiersand offered his hat to
Madamewhose rich riding-habit displayed her fine figurewhich was set
off to great advantage by that garmentmade of fine woolen cloth
embroidered with silver. Her hairstill damp and blacker than jethung
in heavy masses upon her white and delicate neck. Joy and health
sparkled in her beautiful eyes; composedyet full of energyshe inhaled
the air in deep draughtsunder a lace parasolwhich was borne by one of
her pages. Nothing could be more charmingmore gracefulmore poetical
than these two figures buried under the rose-colored shade of the
parasolthe kingwhose white teeth were displayed in continual smiles
and Madamewhose black eyes sparkled like carbuncles in the glittering
reflection of the changing hues of the silk. When Madame approached her
horsea magnificent animal of Andalusian breedof spotless white
somewhat heavyperhapsbut with a spirited and splendid headin which
the mixturehappily combinedof Arabian and Spanish blood could be


readily tracedand whose long tail swept the ground; and as the princess
affected difficulty in mountingthe king took her in his arms in such a
manner that Madame's arm was clasped like a circlet of alabaster around
the king's neck. Louisas he withdrewinvoluntarily touched with his
lips the armwhich was not withheldand the princess having thanked her
royal equerryevery one sprang to his saddle at the same moment. The
king and Madame drew aside to allow the carriagesthe outridersand
runnersto pass by. A fair proportion of the cavaliersreleased from
the restraint etiquette had imposed upon themgave the rein to their
horsesand darted after the carriages which bore the maids of honoras
blooming as so many virgin huntresses around Dianaand the human
whirlwindlaughingchatteringand noisypassed onward.


The king and Madamehoweverkept their horses in hand at a foot-pace.
Behind his majesty and his sister-in-lawcertain of the courtiers
thoseat leastwho were seriously disposed or were anxious to be within
reachor under the eyesof the king - followed at a respectful
distancerestraining their impatient horsesregulating their pace by
that of the king and Madameand abandoned themselves to all the delight
and gratification which is to be found in the conversation of clever
peoplewho canwith perfect courtesymake a thousand atrociousbut
laughable remarks about their neighbors. In their stifled laughterand
in the little reticences of their sardonic humorMonsieurthe poor
absenteewas not spared. But they pitiedand bewailed greatlythe
fate of De Guicheand it must be confessed that their compassionas far
as he was concernedwas not misplaced. The king and Madame having
breathed the horsesand repeated a hundred times over such remarks as
the courtierswho supplied them with talksuggested to themset off at
a hand gallopand the leafy coverts of the forest resounded to the
footfalls of the mounted party. To the conversations beneath the shade
of the trees- to remarks made in the shape of confidential
communicationsand observationsmysteriously exchangedsucceeded the
noisiest bursts of laughter; - from the very outriders to royalty itself
merriment seemed to spread. Every one began to laugh and to cry out.
The magpies and the jays fluttered away uttering their guttural cries
beneath the waving avenues of oaks; the cuckoo staid his monotonous cry
in the recesses of the forest; the chaffinch and tomtit flew away in
clouds; while the terrified deer bounded riverwards from the midst of the
thickets. This crowdspreading joyconfusionand light wherever it
passedwas heraldedit may be saidto the chateau by its own clamor.
As the king and Madame entered the villagethey were received by the
acclamations of the crowd. Madame hastened to look for Monsieurfor
she instinctively understood that he had been far too long kept from
sharing in this joy. The king went to rejoin the queens; he knew he owed
them - one especially - a compensation for his long absence. But Madame
was not admitted to Monsieur's apartmentsand she was informed that
Monsieur was asleep. The kinginstead of being met by Maria Theresa
smilingas was usual with herfound Anne of Austria in the gallery
watching for his returnwho advanced to meet himand taking him by the
handled him to her own apartment. No one ever knew what was the nature
of the conversation which took place between themor rather what it was
that the queen-mother said to Louis XIV.; but the general tenor of the
interview might certainly be guessed from the annoyed expression of the
king's face as he left her.


But wewhose mission it is to interpret all thingsas it is also to
communicate our interpretations to our readers- we should fail in our
dutyif we were to leave them in ignorance of the result of this
interview. It will be found sufficiently detailedat least we hope so
in the following chapter.


Chapter XXXVII:
The Butterfly-Chase.



The kingon retiring to his apartments to give some directions and to
arrange his ideasfound on his toilette-glass a small notethe
handwriting of which seemed disguised. He opened it and read - "Come
quicklyI have a thousand things to say to you." The king and Madame
had not been separated a sufficiently long time for these thousand things
to be the result of the three thousand which they had been saying to each
other during the route which separated Vulaines from Fontainebleau. The
confused and hurried character of the note gave the king a great deal to
reflect upon. He occupied himself but slightly with his toiletteand
set off to pay his visit to Madame. The princesswho did not wish to
have the appearance of expecting himhad gone into the gardens with the
ladies of her suite. When the king was informed that Madame had left her
apartments and had gone for a walk in the gardenshe collected all the
gentlemen he could findand invited them to follow him. He found Madame
engaged in chasing butterflieson a large lawn bordered with heliotrope
and flowering broom. She was looking on as the most adventurous and
youngest of her ladies ran to and froand with her back turned to a high
hedgevery impatiently awaited the arrival of the kingwith whom she
had appointed the rendezvous. The sound of many feet upon the gravel
walk made her turn round. Louis XIV. was hatlesshe had struck down
with his cane a peacock butterflywhich Monsieur de Saint-Aignan had
picked up from the ground quite stunned.

You see, Madame,said the kingas he approached herthat I, too, am
hunting on your behalf!and thenturning towards those who had
accompanied himsaidGentlemen, see if each of you cannot obtain as
much for these ladies,a remark which was a signal for all to retire.
And thereupon a curious spectacle might have been observed; old and
corpulent courtiers were seen running after butterflieslosing their
hats as they ranand with their raised canes cutting down the myrtles
and the furzeas they would have done the Spaniards.

The king offered Madame his armand they both selectedas the center of
observationa bench with a roof of boards and mossa kind of hut
roughly designed by the modest genius of one of the gardeners who had
inaugurated the picturesque and fanciful amid the formal style of the
gardening of that period. This sheltered retreatcovered with
nasturtiums and climbing rosesscreened the benchso that the
spectatorsinsulated in the middle of the lawnsaw and were seen on
every sidebut could not be heardwithout perceiving those who might
approach for the purpose of listening. Seated thusthe king made a sign
of encouragement to those who were running about; and thenas if he were
engaged with Madame in a dissertation upon the butterflywhich he had
thrust through with a gold pin and fastened on his hatsaid to herHow
admirably we are placed here for conversations.

Yes, sire, for I wished to be heard by you alone, and yet to be seen by
every one.

And I also,said Louis.

My note surprised you?

Terrified me rather. But what I have to tell you is more important.

It cannot be, sire. Do you know that Monsieur refuses to see me?

Why so?

Can you not guess why?

Ah, Madame! in that case we have both the same thing to say to each other.


What has happened to you, then?

You wish me to begin?

Yes, for I have told you all.

Well, then, as soon as I returned, I found my mother waiting for me, and
she led me away to her own apartments.

The queen-mother?said Madamewith some anxietythe matter is
serious then.

Indeed it is, for she told me... but, in the first place, allow me to
preface what I have to say with one remark. Has Monsieur ever spoken to
you about me?

Often.

Has he ever spoken to you about his jealousy?

More frequently still.

Of his jealousy of me?

No, but of the Duke of Buckingham and De Guiche.

Well, Madame, Monsieur's present idea is a jealousy of myself.

Really,replied the princesssmiling archly.

And it really seems to me,continued the kingthat we have never
given any ground -

Never! at least _I_ have not. But who told you that Monsieur was
jealous?

My mother represented to me that Monsieur entered her apartments like a
madman, that he uttered a thousand complaints against you, and - forgive
me for saying it - against your coquetry. It appears that Monsieur
indulges in injustice, too.

You are very kind, sire.

My mother reassured him; but he pretended that people reassure him too
often, and that he had had quite enough of it.

Would it not be better for him not to make himself uneasy in any way?

The very thing I said.

Confess, sire, that the world is very wicked. Is it possible that a
brother and sister cannot converse together, or take pleasure in each
other's company, without giving rise to remarks and suspicions? For
indeed, sire, we are doing no harm, and have no intention of doing any.
And she looked at the king with that proud yet provoking glance that
kindles desire in the coldest and wisest of men.

No!sighed the kingthat is true.

You know very well, sire, that if it were to continue, I should be
obliged to make a disturbance. Do you decide upon our conduct, and say
whether it has, or has not, been perfectly correct.

Oh, certainly - perfectly correct.


Often alone together, - for we delight in the same things, - we might
possibly be led away into error, but _have_ we been? I regard you as a
brother, and nothing more.

The king frowned. She continued:

Your hand, which often meets my own, does not excite in me that
agitation and emotion which is the case with those who love each other,
for instance -

Enough,said the kingenough, I entreat you. You have no pity - you
are killing me.

What is the matter?

In fact, then, you distinctly say you experience nothing when near me.

Oh, sire! I don't say that - my affection -

Enough, Henrietta, I again entreat you. If you believe me to be marble,
as you are, undeceive yourself.

I do not understand you, sire.

Very well,said the kingcasting down his eyes. "And so our meetings
the pressure of each other's handthe looks we have exchanged - Yes
yes; you are rightand I understand your meaning and he buried his
face in his hands.

Take caresire said Madame, hurriedly, Monsieur de Saint-Aignan is
looking at you."

Of course,said Louisangrily; "never even the shadow of liberty!
never any sincerity in my intercourse with any one! I imagine I have
found a friendwho is nothing but a spy; a dearer friendwho is only a

-sister!"
Madame was silentand cast down her eyes.

My husband is jealous,she murmuredin a tone of which nothing could
equal its sweetness and charm.

You are right,exclaimed the kingsuddenly.

You see,she saidlooking at him in a manner that set his heart on
fireyou are free, you are not suspected, the peace of your house is
not disturbed.

Alas,said the kingas yet you know nothing, for the queen is
jealous.

Maria Theresa!

Stark mad with jealousy! Monsieur's jealousy arises from hers; she was
weeping and complaining to my mother, and was reproaching us for those
bathing parties, which have made me so happy.

And me too,answered Madameby a look.

When, suddenly,continued the kingMonsieur, who was listening, heard
the word '_banos_,' which the queen pronounced with some degree of
bitterness, that awakened his attention; he entered the room, looking
quite wild, broke into the conversation, and began to quarrel with my


mother so bitterly that she was obliged to leave him; so that, while you
have a jealous husband to deal with, I shall have perpetually present
before me a specter of jealousy with swollen eyes, a cadaverous face, and
sinister looks.


Poor king,murmured Madameas she lightly touched the king's hand. He
retained her hand in hisand in order to press it without exciting
suspicion in the spectatorswho were not so much taken up with the
butterflies that they could not occupy themselves about other matters
and who perceived clearly enough that there was some mystery in the
king's and Madame's conversationLouis placed the dying butterfly before
his sister-in-lawand bent over it as if to count the thousand eyes of
its wingsor the particles of golden dust which covered it. Neither of
them spoke; howevertheir hair mingledtheir breaths unitedand their
hands feverishly throbbed in each other's grasp. Five minutes passed in
this manner.


Chapter XXXVIII:
What Was Caught after the Butterflies.


The two young people remained for a moment with their heads bent down
bowedas it werebeneath the double thought of the love which was
springing up in their heartsand which gives birth to so many happy
fancies in the imaginations of twenty years of age. Henrietta gave a
side glancefrom time to timeat the king. Hers was one of those
finely-organized natures capable of looking inwardly at itselfas well
as at others at the same moment. She perceived Love lying at the bottom
of Louis's heartas a skillful diver sees a pearl at the bottom of the
sea. She knew Louis was hesitatingif not in doubtand that his
indolent or timid heart required aid and encouragement. "And so?" she
saidinterrogativelybreaking the silence.


What do you mean?inquired Louisafter a moment's pause.


I mean, that I shall be obliged to return to the resolution I had
formed.


To what resolution?


To that which I have already submitted to your majesty.


When?


On the very day we had a certain explanation about Monsieur's
jealousies.


What did you say to me then?inquired Louiswith some anxiety.


Do you not remember, sire?


Alas! if it be another cause of unhappiness, I shall recollect it soon
enough.


A cause of unhappiness for myself alone, sire,replied Madame
Henrietta; "but as it is necessaryI must submit to it."


At least, tell me what it is,said the king.


Absence.


Still that unkind resolve?


Believe me, sire, I have not found it without a violent struggle with



myself; it is absolutely necessary I should return to England.

Never, never will I permit you to leave France,exclaimed the king.

And yet, sire,said Madameaffecting a gentle yet sorrowful
determinationnothing is more urgently necessary; nay, more than that,
I am persuaded it is your mother's desire I should do so.

Desire!exclaimed the king; "that is a very strange expression to use
to me."

Still,replied Madame Henriettasmilinglyare you not happy in
submitting to the wishes of so good a mother?

Enough, I implore you; you rend my very soul.

I?

Yes; for you speak of your departure with tranquillity.

I was not born for happiness, sire,replied the princessdejectedly;
and I acquired, in very early life, the habit of seeing my dearest
wishes disappointed.

Do you speak truly?said the king. "Would your departure gainsay any
one of your cherished thoughts?"

If I were to say 'yes,' would you begin to take your misfortune
patiently?

How cruel you are!

Take care, sire; some one is coming.

The king looked all round himand saidNo, there is no one,and then
continued: "ComeHenriettainstead of trying to contend against
Monsieur's jealousy by a departure which would kill me - "

Henrietta slightly shrugged her shoulders like a woman unconvinced.
Yes,repeated Louiswhich would kill me, I say. Instead of fixing
your mind on this departure, does not your imagination - or rather does
not your heart - suggest some expedient?

What is it you wish my heart to suggest?

Tell me, how can one prove to another that it is wrong to be jealous?

In the first place, sire, by giving no motive for jealousy; in other
words, in loving no one but the person in question.

Oh! I expected more than that.

What did you expect?

That you would simply tell me that jealous people are pacified by
concealing the affection which is entertained for the object of jealousy.

Dissimulation is difficult, sire.

Yet it is only be means of conquering difficulties that any happiness is
attained. As far as I am concerned, I swear I will give the lie to those
who are jealous of me by pretending to treat you like any other woman.

A bad, as well as unsafe, means,said the young princessshaking her


pretty head.

You seem to think everything bad, dear Henrietta,said Louis
discontentedly. "You negative everything I propose. Suggestat least
something else in its stead. Cometry and think. I trust implicitly to
a woman's invention. Do you invent in your turn?"

Well, sire, I have hit upon something. Will you listen to it?

Can you ask me? You speak of a matter of life or death to me, and then
ask if I will listen.

Well, I judge of it by my own case. If my husband intended to put me on
the wrong scent with regard to another woman, one thing would reassure me
more than anything else.

What would that be?

In the first place to see that he never took any notice of the woman in
question.

Exactly. That is precisely what I said just now.

Very well; but in order to be perfectly reassured on the subject, I
should like to see him occupy himself with some one else.

Ah! I understand you,replied Louissmiling. "But confessdear
Henriettaif the means is at least ingeniousit is hardly charitable."

Why so?

In curing the dread of a wound in a jealous person's mind, you inflict
one upon the heart. His fear ceases, it is true; but the evil still
exists; and that seems to me to be far worse.

Agreed; but he does not detect, he does not suspect the real enemy; he
does no prejudice to love itself; he concentrates all his strength on the
side where his strength will do no injury to anything or any one. In a
word, sire, my plan, which I confess I am surprised to find you dispute,
is mischievous to jealous people, it is true; but to lovers it is full of
advantage. Besides, let me ask, sire, who, except yourself, has ever
thought of pitying jealous people? Are they not a melancholy crew of
grumblers always equally unhappy, whether with or without a cause? You
may remove that cause, but you never can remove their sufferings. It is
a disease which lies in the imagination, and, like all imaginary
disorders, it is incurable. By the by, I remember an aphorism upon this
subject, of poor Dr. Dawley, a clever and amusing man, who, had it not
been for my brother, who could not do without him, I should have with me
now. He used to say, 'Whenever you are likely to suffer from two
affections, choose that which will give you the least trouble, and I will
allow you to retain it; for it is positive,' he said, 'that that very
ailment is of the greatest service to me, in order to enable me to get
rid of the other.'

Well and judiciously remarked, Henrietta,replied the kingsmiling.

Oh! we have some clever people in London, sire.

And those clever people produce adorable pupils. I will grant this
Daley, Darley, Dawley, or whatever you call him, a pension for his
aphorism; but I entreat you, Henrietta, to begin by choosing the least of
your evils. You do not answer - you smile. I guess that the least of
your bugbears is your stay in France. I will allow you to retain this
information; and, in order to begin with the cure of the other, I will


this very day begin to look out for a subject which shall divert the
attention of the jealous members of either sex who persecute us both.

Hush! this time some one is really coming,said Madame; and she stooped
to gather a flower from the thick grass at her feet. Some onein fact
was approaching; forsuddenlya bevy of young girls ran down from the
top of the hillockfollowing the cavaliers - the cause of this
interruption being a magnificent hawk-mothwith wings like rose-leaves.
The prey in question had fallen into the net of Mademoiselle de Tonnay-
Charentewho displayed it with some pride to her less successful
rivals. The queen of the chase had seated herself some twenty paces from
the bank on which Louis and Madame Henrietta were reclining; and leaned
her back against a magnificent oak-tree entwined with ivyand stuck the
butterfly on the long cane she carried in her hand. Mademoiselle de
Tonnay-Charente was very beautifuland the gentlemenaccordingly
deserted her companionsand under the pretext of complimenting her upon
her successpressed in a circle around her. The king and princess
looked gloomily at this sceneas spectators of maturer age look on at
the games of little children. "They seem to be amusing themselves
there said the king.

Greatlysire; I have always found that people are amused wherever youth
and beauty are to be found."

What do you think of Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente, Henrietta?
inquired the king.

I think she has rather too much flax-yellow and lily-whiteness in her
complexion,replied Madamefixing in a moment upon the only fault it
was possible to find in the almost perfect beauty of the future Madame de
Montespan."

Rather too fair, yes; but beautiful, I think, in spite of that.

Is that your opinion, sire?

Yes, really.

Very well; and it is mine, too.

And she seems to be much sought after.

On, that is a matter of course. Lovers flutter from one to another. If
we had hunted for lovers instead of butterflies, you can see, from those
who surround her, what successful sport we should have had.

Tell me, Henrietta, what would be said if the king were to make himself
one of those lovers, and let his glance fall in that direction? Would
some one else be jealous, in such a case?

Oh! sire, Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente is a very efficacious remedy,
said Madamewith a sigh. "She would cure a jealous mancertainly; but
she might possibly make a woman jealoustoo."

Henrietta,exclaimed Louisyou fill my heart with joy. Yes, yes;
Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente is far too beautiful to serve as a cloak.

A king's cloak,said Madame Henriettasmilingought to be beautiful.

Do you advise me to do it, then?inquired Louis.

I! what should I say, sire, except that to give such an advice would be
to supply arms against myself? It would be folly or pride to advise you
to take, for the heroine of an assumed affection, a woman more beautiful


than the one for whom you pretend to feel real regard.

The king tried to take Madame's hand in his own; his eyes sought hers;
and then he murmured a few words so full of tendernessbut pronounced in
so low a tonethat the historianwho ought to hear everythingcould
not hear them. Thenspeaking aloudhe saidDo you yourself choose
for me the one who is to cure our jealous friend. To her, then, all my
devotion, all my attention, all the time that I can spare from my
occupations, shall be devoted. For her shall be the flower that I may
pluck for you, the fond thoughts with which you have inspired me.
Towards her I will direct the glance I dare not bestow upon you, and
which ought to be able to rouse you from your indifference. But, be
careful in your selection, lest, in offering her the rose which I may
have plucked, I find myself conquered by you; and my looks, my hand, my
lips, turn immediately towards you, even were the whole world to guess my
secret.

While these words escaped from the king's lipsin a stream of wild
affectionMadame blushedbreathlesshappyproudalmost intoxicated
with delight. She could find nothing to say in reply; her pride and her
thirst for homage were satisfied. "I shall fail she said, raising her
beautiful black eyes, but not as you beg mefor all this incense which
you wish to burn on the altar of another divinity. Ah! sireI too shall
be jealous of itand want restored to me; and would not that a particle
of it should be lost in the way. Thereforesirewith your royal
permissionI will choose one who shall appear to me the least likely to
distract your attentionand who will leave my image intact and
unshadowed in your heart."

Happily for me,said the kingyour heart is not hard and unfeeling.
If it were so, I should be alarmed at the threat you hold out.
Precautions were taken on this point, and around you, as around myself,
it would be difficult to meet with a disagreeable-looking face.

Whilst the king was speakingMadame had risen from her seatlooked
around the greenswardand after a careful and silent examinationshe
called the king to her sideand saidSee yonder, sire, upon the
declivity of that little hill, near that group of Guelder roses, that
beautiful girl walking alone, her head down, her arms hanging by her
side, with her eyes fixed upon the flowers, which she crushes beneath her
feet, like one who is lost in thought.

Mademoiselle de Valliere, do you mean?remarked the king.

Yes.

Oh!

Will she not suit you, sire?

Why, look how thin the poor child is. She has hardly any flesh upon her
bones.

Nay: am I stout then?

She is so melancholy.

The greater contrast to myself, who am accused of being too lively.

She is lame.

Do you really think so?

No doubt of it. Look; she has allowed every one to pass by her, through


fear of her defect being remarked.

Well, she will not run so fast as Daphne, and will not be as able to
escape Apollo.

Henrietta,said the kingout of temper; "of all your maids of honor
you have really selected for me the one most full of defects."

Still she is one of my maids of honor.
Of course; but what do you mean?

I mean that, in order to visit this new divinity, you will not be able
to do so without paying a visit to my apartments, and that, as propriety
will forbid your conversing with her in private, you will be compelled to
see her in my circle, to speak, as it were, at me, while speaking to
her. I mean, in fact, that those who may be jealous, will be wrong if
they suppose you come to my apartments for my sake, since you will go
there for Mademoiselle de la Valliere.

Who happens to be lame.
Hardly that.


Who never opens her lips.
But who, when she does open them, displays a beautiful set of teeth.


Who may serve as a model for an osteologist.
Your favor will change her appearance.


Henrietta!
At all events you allowed me to choose.


Alas! yes.
Well, my choice is made: I impose her upon you, and you must submit.


Oh! I would accept one of the furies, if you were to insist upon it.


La Valliere is as gentle as a lamb: do not fear she will ever contradict
you when you tell her you love her,said Madamelaughing.

You are not afraid, are you, that I shall say too much to her?
It would be for my sake.

The treaty is agreed to, then?

Not only so, but signed. You will continue to show me the friendship of
a brother, the attention of a brother, the gallantry of a monarch, will
you not?

I will preserve for you intact a heart that has already become
accustomed to beat only at your command.

Very well, do you not see that we have guaranteed the future by this
means?

I hope so.
Will your mother cease to regard me as an enemy?



Yes.

Will Maria Theresa leave off speaking in Spanish before Monsieur, who
has a horror of conversation held in foreign languages, because he always
thinks he is being ill spoken of? and lastly,continued the princess
will people persist in attributing a wrongful affection to the king when
the truth is, we can offer nothing to each other, except absolute
sympathy, free from mental reservation?

Yes, yes,said the kinghesitatingly. "But other things may still be
said of us."

What can be said, sire? shall we never be left in tranquillity?

People will say I am deficient in taste; but what is my self-respect in
comparison with your tranquillity?

In comparison with my honor, sire, and that of our family, you mean.
Besides, I beg you to attend, do not be so hastily prejudiced against La
Valliere. She is slightly lame, it is true, but she is not deficient in
good sense. Moreover, all that the king touches is converted into gold.

Well, Madame, rest assured of one thing, namely, that I am still
grateful to you: you might even yet make me pay dearer for your stay in
France.

Sire, some one approaches.

Well!

One last word.

Say it.

You are prudent and judicious, sire; but in the present instance you
will be obliged to summon to your aid all your prudence, and all your
judgment.

Oh!exclaimed Louislaughingfrom this very day I shall begin to act
my part, and you shall see whether I am not quite fit to represent the
character of a tender swain. After luncheon, there will be a promenade
in the forest, and then there is supper and the ballet at ten o'clock.

I know it.

The ardor of my passion shall blaze more brilliantly than the fireworks,
shall shine more steadily than our friend Colbert's lamps; it shall shine
so dazzlingly that the queens and Monsieur will be almost blinded by it.

Take care, sire, take care.

In Heaven's name, what have I done, then?

I shall begin to recall the compliments I paid you just now. You
prudent! you wise! did I say? Why, you begin by the most reckless
inconsistencies! Can a passion be kindled in this manner, like a torch,
in a moment? Can a monarch, such as you are, without any preparation,
fall at the feet of a girl like La Valliere?

Ah! Henrietta, now I understand you. We have not yet begun the
campaign, and you are plundering me already.

No, I am only recalling you to common-sense ideas. Let your passion be


kindled gradually, instead of allowing it to burst forth so suddenly.
Jove's thunders and lightnings are heard and seen before the palace is
set on fire. Everything has its commencements. If you are so easily
excited, no one will believe you are really captivated, and every one
will think you out of your senses - if even, indeed, the truth itself
not be guessed. The public is not so fatuous as they seem.


The king was obliged to admit that Madame was an angel for senseand the
very reverse for cleverness. He bowedand said: "AgreedMadameI will
think over my plan of attack: great military men - my cousin De Conde for
instance - grow pale in meditation upon their strategical plansbefore
they move one of the pawnswhich people call armies; I therefore wish to
draw up a complete plan of campaign; for you know that the tender passion
is subdivided in a variety of ways. WellthenI shall stop at the
village of Little Attentionsat the hamlet of Love-Lettersbefore I
follow the road of Visible Affection; the way is clear enoughyou know
and poor Madame de Scudery would never forgive me for passing though a
halting-place without stopping."


Oh! now we have returned to our proper senses, shall we say adieu,
sire?


Alas! it must be so, for see, we are interrupted.


Yes, indeed,said Henriettathey are bringing Mademoiselle de Tonnay-
Charente and her sphinx butterfly in grand procession this way.


It is perfectly well understood, that this evening, during the
promenade, I am to make my escape into the forest, and find La Valliere
without you.


I will take care to send her away.


Very well! I will speak to her when she is with her companions, and I
will then discharge my first arrow at her.


Be skillful,said Madamelaughingand do not miss the heart.


Then the princess took leave of the kingand went forward to meet the
merry troopwhich was advancing with much ceremonyand a great many
pretended flourishes of trumpetsimitated with their mouths.


Chapter XXXIX:
The Ballet of the Seasons.


At the conclusion of the banquetwhich was served at five o'clockthe
king entered his cabinetwhere his tailors were awaiting him for the
purpose of trying on the celebrated costume representing Springwhich
was the result of so much imaginationand had cost so many efforts of
thought to the designers and ornament-workers of the court. As for the
ballet itselfevery person knew the part he had to take in itand how
to perform it. The king had resolved to make it surprise. Hardly
thereforehad he finished his conferenceand entered his own apartment
than he desired his two masters of the ceremoniesVilleroy and Saint-
Aignanto be sent for. Both replied that they only awaited his orders
and that everything was ready to beginbut that it was necessary to be
sure of fine weather and a favorable night before these orders could be
carried out. The king opened his window; the pale-gold hues of the
evening were visible on the horizon through the vistas of the woodand
the moonwhite as snowwas already mounting the heavens. Not a ripple
could be noticed on the surface of the green waters; the swans
themselvesevenreposing with folded wings like ships at anchorseemed
inspirations of the warmth of the airthe freshness of the waterand



the silence of the beautiful evening. The kinghaving observed all
these thingsand contemplated the magnificent picture before himgave
the order which De Villeroy and De Saint-Aignan awaited; but with a view
of insuring the execution of this order in a royal mannerone last
question was necessaryand Louis XIV. put it to the two gentlemen in the
following manner: - "Have you any money?"

Sire,replied Saint-Aignanwe have arranged everything with M.
Colbert.

Ah! very well!

Yes, sire, and M. Colbert said he would wait upon your majesty, as soon
as your majesty should manifest an intention of carrying out the _fetes_,
of which he has furnished the programme.

Let him come in, then,said the king; and as if Colbert had been
listening at the door for the purpose of keeping himself _au courant_
with the conversationhe entered as soon as the king had pronounced his
name to the two courtiers.

Ah! M. Colbert,said the king. "Gentlemento your posts whereupon
Saint-Aignan and Villeroy took their leave. The king seated himself in
an easy-chair near the window, saying: The ballet will take place this
eveningM. Colbert."

In that case, sire, I will pay all accounts to-morrow.

Why so?

I promised the tradespeople to pay their bills the day following that on
which the ballet should take place.

Very well, M. Colbert, pay them, since you have promised to do so.

Certainly, sire; but I must have money to do that.

What! have not the four millions, which M. Fouquet promised, been sent?
I forgot to ask you about it.

Sire, they were sent at the hour promised.

Well?

Well, sire, the colored lamps, the fireworks, the musicians, and the
cooks, have swallowed up four millions in eight days.

Entirely?

To the last penny. Every time your majesty directed the banks of the
grand canal to be illuminated, as much oil was consumed as there was
water in the basins.

Well, well, M. Colbert; the fact is, then, you have no more money?

I have no more, sire, but M. Fouquet has,Colbert repliedhis face
darkening with a sinister expression of pleasure.

What do you mean?inquired Louis.

We have already made M. Fouquet advance six millions. He has given them
with too much grace not to have others still to give, if they are
required, which is the case at the present moment. It is necessary,
therefore, that he should comply.


The king frowned. "M. Colbert said he, accentuating the financier's
name, that is not the way I understood the matter; I do not wish to make
useagainst any of my servantsof a means of pressure which may oppress
him and fetter his services. In eight days M. Fouquet has furnished six
millions; that is a good round sum."

Colbert turned pale. "And yet he said, your majesty did not use this
language some time agowhen the news about Belle-Isle arrivedfor
instance."

You are right, M. Colbert.

Nothing, however, has changed since then; on the contrary, indeed.

In my thoughts, monsieur, everything has changed.

Does your majesty then no longer believe the disloyal attempt?

My affairs concern myself alone, monsieur; and I have already told you I
transact them without interference.

Then, I perceive,said Colberttrembling with anger and fearthat I
have had the misfortune to fall into disgrace with your majesty.

Not at all; you are, on the contrary, most agreeable to me.

Yet, sire,said the ministerwith a certain affected bluntnessso
successful when it was a question of flattering Louis's self-esteem
what use is there in being agreeable to your majesty, if one can no
longer be of any use?

I reserve your services for a better occasion; and believe me, they will
only be the better appreciated.

Your majesty's plan, then, in this affair, is -

You want money, M. Colbert?

Seven hundred thousand francs, sire.

You will take them from my private treasure.Colbert bowed. "And
added Louis, as it seems a difficult matter for younotwithstanding
your economyto defraywith so limited a sumthe expenses which I
intend to incurI will at once sign an order for three millions."

The king took a pen and signed an order immediatelythen handed it to
Colbert. "Be satisfiedM. Colbertthe plan I have adopted is one worthy
of a king said Louis XIV., who pronounced these words with all the
majesty he knew how to assume in such circumstances; and dismissed
Colbert for the purpose of giving an audience to his tailors.

The order issued by the king was known throughout the whole of
Fontainebleau; it was already known, too, that the king was trying on his
costume, and that the ballet would be danced in the evening. The news
circulated with the rapidity of lightning; during its progress it kindled
every variety of coquetry, desire, and wild ambition. At the same
moment, as if by enchantment, every one who knew how to hold a needle,
every one who could distinguish a coat from a pair of trousers, was
summoned to the assistance of those who had received invitations. The
king had completed his toilette by nine o'clock; he appeared in an open
carriage decorated with branches of trees and flowers. The queens had
taken their seats upon a magnificent dias or platform, erected upon the
borders of the lake, in a theater of wonderful elegance of construction.


In the space of five hours the carpenters had put together all the
different parts connected with the building; the upholsterers had laid
down the carpets, erected the seats; and, as if at the wave of an
enchanter's wand, a thousand arms, aiding, instead of interfering with
each other, had constructed the building, amidst the sound of music;
whilst, at the same time, other workmen illuminated the theater and the
shores of the lake with an incalculable number of lamps. As the heavens,
set with stars, were perfectly unclouded, as not even a breath of air
could be heard in the woods, and as if Nature itself had yielded
complacently to the king's fancies, the back of the theater had been left
open; so that, behind the foreground of the scenes, could be seen as a
background the beautiful sky, glittering with stars; the sheet of water,
illuminated by the lights which were reflected in it; and the bluish
outline of the grand masses of woods, with their rounded tops. When the
king made his appearance, the theater was full, and presented to the view
one vast group, dazzling with gold and precious stones; in which,
however, at the first glance, no single face could be distinguished. By
degrees, as the sight became accustomed to so much brilliancy, the rarest
beauties appeared to the view, as in the evening sky the stars appear one
by one to him who closes his eyes and then opens them again.

The theater represented a grove of trees; a few fauns lifting up their
cloven feet were jumping about; a dryad made her appearance on the scene,
and was immediately pursued by them; others gathered round her for her
defense, and they quarrelled as they danced. Suddenly, for the purpose
of restoring peace and order, Spring, accompanied by his whole court,
made his appearance. The Elements, subaltern powers of mythology,
together with their attributes, hastened to follow their gracious
sovereign. The Seasons, allies of Spring, followed him closely, to form
a quadrille, which, after many words of more or less flattering import,
was the commencement of the dance. The music, hautboys, flutes, and
viols, was delightfully descriptive of rural delights. The king had
already made his appearance, amid thunders of applause. He was dressed
in a tunic of flowers, which set off his graceful and well-formed figure
to advantage. His legs, the best-shaped at court, were displayed to
great advantage in flesh-colored silken hose, of silk so fine and so
transparent that it seemed almost like flesh itself. The most beautiful
pale-lilac satin shoes, with bows of flowers and leaves, imprisoned his
small feet. The bust of the figure was in harmonious keeping with the
base; Louis's waving hair floated on his shoulders, the freshness of his
complexion was enhanced by the brilliancy of his beautiful blue eyes,
which softly kindled all hearts; a mouth with tempting lips, which
deigned to open in smiles. Such was the prince of that period: justly
that evening styled The King of all the Loves." There was something in
his carriage which resembled the buoyant movements of an immortaland
he did not dance so much as seem to soar along. His entrance produced
thereforethe most brilliant effect. Suddenly the Comte de Saint-Aignan
was observed endeavoring to approach either the king or Madame.

The princess - who was robed in a long dressdiaphanous and light as the
finest network tissue from the hands of skillful Mechlin workersone
knee occasionally revealed beneath the folds of the tunicand her little
feet encased in silken slippers decked with pearls - advanced radiant
with beautyaccompanied by her _cortege_ of Bacchantesand had already
reached the spot assigned to her in the dance. The applause continued so
long that the comte had ample leisure to join the king.

What is the matter, Saint-Aignan?said Spring.

Nothing whatever,replied the courtieras pale as death; "but your
majesty has not thought of Fruits."

Yes; it is suppressed.


Far from it, sire; your majesty having given no directions about it, the
musicians have retained it.

How excessively annoying,said the king. "This figure cannot be
performedsince M. de Guiche is absent. It must be suppressed."

Ah, sire, a quarter of an hour's music without any dancing will produce
an effect so chilling as to ruin the success of the ballet.

But, come, since -

Oh, sire, that is not the greatest misfortune; for, after all, the
orchestra could still just as well cut it out, if it were necessary; but

-
But what?

Why, M. de Guiche is here.

Here?replied the kingfrowninghere? Are you sure?

Yes, sire; and ready dressed for the ballet.

The king felt himself color deeplyand saidYou are probably
mistaken.

So little is that the case, sire, that if your majesty will look to the
right, you will see that the comte is in waiting.

Louis turned hastily towards the sideand in facton his right
brilliant in his character of AutumnDe Guiche awaited until the king
should look at himin order that he might address him. To give an idea
of the stupefaction of the kingand that of Monsieurwho was moving
about restlessly in his box- to describe also the agitated movement of
the heads in the theaterand the strange emotion of Madameat the sight
of her partner- is a task we must leave to abler hands. The king stood
almost gaping with astonishment as he looked at the comtewhobowing
lowlyapproached Louis with the profoundest respect.

Sire,he saidyour majesty's most devoted servant approaches to
perform a service on this occasion with similar zeal that he has already
shown on the field of battle. Your majesty, in omitting the dance of the
Fruits, would be losing the most beautiful scene in the ballet. I did
not wish to be the substance of so dark a shadow to your majesty's
elegance, skill, and graceful invention; and I have left my tenants in
order to place my services at your majesty's commands.

Every word fell distinctlyin perfect harmony and eloquenceupon Louis
XIV.'s ears. Their flattery pleasedas much as De Guiche's courage had
astonished himand he simply replied: "I did not tell you to return
comte."

Certainly not, sire; but your majesty did not tell me to remain.

The king perceived that time was passing awaythat if this strange scene
were prolonged it would complicate everythingand that a single cloud
upon the picture would eventually spoil the whole. Besidesthe king's
heart was filled with two or three new ideas; he had just derived fresh
inspiration from the eloquent glances of Madame. Her look had said to
him: "Since they are jealous of youdivide their suspicionsfor the man
who distrusts two rivals does not object to either in particular." So
that Madameby this clever diversiondecided him. The king smiled upon
De Guichewho did not comprehend a word of Madame's dumb languagebut
he remarked that she pretended not to look at himand he attributed the


pardon which had been conferred upon him to the princess's kindness of
heart. The king seemed only pleased with every one present. Monsieur
was the only one who did not understand anything about the matter. The
ballet began; the effect was more than beautiful. When the musicby its
bursts of melodycarried away these illustrious dancerswhen the
simpleuntutored pantomime of that periodonly the more natural on
account of the very indifferent acting of the august actorshad reached
its culminating point of triumphthe theater shook with tumultuous
applause.


De Guiche shone like a sunbut like a courtly sunthat is resigned to
fill a subordinate part. Disdainful of a success of which Madame showed
no acknowledgementhe thought of nothing but boldly regaining the marked
preference of the princess. Shehoweverdid not bestow a single glance
upon him. By degrees all his happinessall his brilliancysubsided
into regret and uneasiness; so that his limbs lost their powerhis arms
hung heavily by his sidesand his head drooped as though he was
stupefied. The kingwho had from this moment become in reality the
principal dancer in the quadrillecast a look upon his vanquished
rival. De Guiche soon ceased to sustain even the character of the
courtier; without applausehe danced indifferentlyand very soon could
not dance at allby which accident the triumph of the king and of Madame
was assured.


Chapter XL:
The Nymphs of the Park of Fontainebleau.


The king remained for a moment to enjoy a triumph as complete as it could
possibly be. He then turned towards Madamefor the purpose of admiring
her also a little in her turn. Young persons love with more vivacity
perhaps with greater ardor and deeper passionthan others more advanced
in years; but all the other feelings are at the same time developed in
proportion to their youth and vigor: so that vanity being with them
almost always the equivalent of lovethe latter feelingaccording to
the laws of equipoisenever attains that degree of perfection which it
acquires in men and women from thirty to five and thirty years of age.
Louis thought of Madamebut only after he had studiously thought of
himself; and Madame carefully thought of herselfwithout bestowing a
single thought upon the king. The victimhoweverof all these royal
affections and affectationswas poor De Guiche. Every one could observe
his agitation and prostration - a prostration which wasindeedthe more
remarkable since people were not accustomed to see him with his arms
hanging listlessly by his sidehis head bewilderedand his eyes with
all their bright intelligence bedimmed. It rarely happened that any
uneasiness was excited on his accountwhenever a question of elegance or
taste was under discussion; and De Guiche's defeat was accordingly
attributed by the greater number present to his courtier-like tact and
ability. But there were others -keen-sighted observers are always to
be met with at court - who remarked his paleness and his altered looks;
which he could neither feign nor concealand their conclusion was that
De Guiche was not acting the part of a flatterer. All these sufferings
successesand remarks were blendedconfoundedand lost in the uproar
of applause. Whenhoweverthe queens expressed their satisfaction and
the spectators their enthusiasmwhen the king had retired to his
dressing-room to change his costumeand whilst Monsieurdressed as a
womanas he delighted to bewas in his turn dancing aboutDe Guiche
who had now recovered himselfapproached Madamewhoseated at the back
of the theaterwas waiting for the second partand had quitted the
others for the purpose of creating a sort of solitude for herself in the
midst of the crowdto meditateas it werebeforehandupon
chorographic effects; and it will be perfectly understood thatabsorbed
in deep meditationshe did not seeor rather pretended not to notice
anything that was passing around her. De Guicheobserving that she was



alonenear a thicket constructed of painted clothapproached her. Two
of her maids of honordressed as hamadryadsseeing De Guiche advance
drew back out of respect.whereupon De Guiche proceeded towards the
middle of the circle and saluted her royal highness; butwhether she did
or did not observe his salutationsthe princess did not even turn her
head. A cold shiver passed through poor De Guiche; he was unprepared for
such utter indifferencefor he had neither seen nor been told of
anything that had taken placeand consequently could guess nothing.
Remarkingthereforethat his obeisance obtained him no acknowledgement
he advanced one step furtherand in a voice which he triedthough
vainlyto render calmsaid: "I have the honor to present my most humble
respects to your royal highness."

Upon this Madame deigned to turn her eyes languishingly towards the
comteobserving. "Ah! M. de Guicheis that you? good day!"

The comte's patience almost forsook himas he continued- "Your royal
highness danced just now most charmingly."

Do you think so?she replied with indifference.

Yes; the character which your royal highness assumed is in perfect
harmony with your own.

Madame again turned roundandlooking De Guiche full in the face with a
bright and steady gazesaid- "Why so?"

Oh! there can be no doubt of it.

Explain yourself?

You represented a divinity, beautiful, disdainful, inconstant.

You mean Pomona, comte?

I allude to the goddess.

Madame remained silent for a momentwith her lips compressedand then
observed- "Butcomteyoutooare an excellent dancer."

Nay, Madame, I am only one of those who are never noticed, or who are
soon forgotten if they ever happen to be noticed.

With this remarkaccompanied by one of those deep sighs which affect the
remotest fibers of one's beinghis heart burdened with sorrow and
throbbing fasthis head on fireand his gaze wanderinghe bowed
breathlesslyand withdrew behind the thicket. The only reply Madame
condescended to make was by slightly raising her shouldersandas her
ladies of honor had discreetly retired while the conversation lastedshe
recalled them by a look. The ladies were Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente
and Mademoiselle de Montalais.

Did you hear what the Comte de Guiche said?the princess inquired.

No.

It really is very singular,she continuedin a compassionate tone
how exile has affected poor M. de Guiche's wit.And thenin a louder
voicefearful lest her unhappy victim might lose a syllableshe said

-"In the first place he danced badlyand afterwards his remarks were
very silly."
She then rosehumming the air to which she was presently going to
dance. De Guiche had overheard everything. The arrow pierced his heart


and wounded him mortally. Thenat the risk of interrupting the progress
of the _fete_ by his annoyancehe fled from the scenetearing his
beautiful costume of Autumn in piecesand scatteringas he went along
the branches of vinesmulberry and almond treeswith all the other
artificial attributes of his assumed divinity. A quarter of an hour
afterwards he returned to the theater; but it will be readily believed
that it was only a powerful effort of reason over his great excitement
that enabled him to go back; or perhapsfor love is thus strangely
constitutedhe found it impossible even to remain much longer separated
from the presence of one who had broken his heart. Madame was finishing
her figure. She sawbut did not look at De Guichewhoirritated and
revengefulturned his back upon her as she passed himescorted by her
nymphsand followed by a hundred flatterers. During this timeat the
other end of the theaternear the lakea young woman was seatedwith
her eyes fixed upon one of the windows of the theaterfrom which were
issuing streams of light - the window in question being that of the royal
box. As De Guiche quitted the theater for the purpose of getting into
the fresh air he so much neededhe passed close to this figure and
saluted her. When she perceived the young manshe roselike a woman
surprised in the midst of ideas she was desirous of concealing from
herself. De Guiche stopped as he recognized herand said hurriedly-
Good evening, Mademoiselle de la Valliere; I am indeed fortunate in
meeting you.

I, also, M. de Guiche, am glad of this accidental meeting,said the
young girlas she was about to withdraw.

Pray do not leave me,said De Guichestretching out his hand towards
herfor you would be contradicting the kind words you have just
pronounced. Remain, I implore you: the evening is most lovely. You wish
to escape from the merry tumult, and prefer your own society. Well, I
can understand it; all women who are possessed of any feeling do, and one
never finds them dull or lonely when removed from the giddy vortex of
these exciting amusements. Oh! Heaven!he exclaimedsuddenly.

What is the matter, monsieur le comte?inquired La Vallierewith some
anxiety. "You seem agitated."

I! oh, no!

Will you allow me, M. de Guiche, to return you the thanks I had proposed
to offer you on the very first opportunity? It is to your
recommendation, I am aware, that I owe my admission among the number of
Madame's maids of honor.

Indeed! Ah! I remember now, and I congratulate myself. Do you love
any one?

I!exclaimed La Valliere.

Forgive me, I hardly know what I am saying; a thousand times forgive me;
Madame was right, quite right, this brutal exile has completely turned my
brain.

And yet it seemed to me that the king received you with kindness.

Do you think so? Received me with kindness - perhaps so - yes -

There cannot be a doubt he received you kindly, for, in fact, you
returned without his permission.

Quite true, and I believe you are right. But have you not seen M. de
Bragelonne here?


La Valliere started at the name. "Why do you ask?" she inquired.

Have I offended you again?said De Guiche. "In that case I am indeed
unhappyand greatly to be pitied."

Yes, very unhappy, and very much to be pitied, Monsieur de Guiche, for
you seem to be suffering terribly.

Oh! mademoiselle, why have I not a devoted sister, or a true friend,
such as yourself?

You have friends, Monsieur de Guiche, and the Vicomte de Bragelonne, of
whom you spoke just now, is, I believe, one of the most devoted.

Yes, yes, you are right, he is one of my best friends. Farewell,
Mademoiselle de la Valliere, farewell.And he fledlike one possessed
along the banks of the lake. His dark shadow glidedlengthening as it
disappearedamong the illumined yews and glittering undulations of the
water. La Valliere looked after himsaying- "Yesyeshetoois
sufferingand I begin to understand why."

She had hardly finished when her companionsMademoiselle de Montalais
and Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charenteran forward. They were released
from their attendanceand had changed their costumes of nymphs;
delighted with the beautiful nightand the success of the eveningthey
returned to look after their companion.

What, already here!they said to her. "We thought we should be first
at the rendezvous."

I have been here this quarter of an hour,replied La Valliere.

Did not the dancing amuse you?

No.

But surely the enchanting spectacle?

No more than the dancing. As far as beauty is concerned, I much prefer
that which these dark woods present, in whose depths can be seen, now in
one direction and again in another, a light passing by, as though it were
an eye, in color like a midnight rainbow, sometimes open, at others
closed.

La Valliere is quite a poetess,said Tonnay-Charente.

In other words,said Montalaisshe is insupportable. Whenever there
is a question of laughing a little or of amusing ourselves, La Valliere
begins to cry; whenever we girls have reason to cry, because, perhaps, we
have mislaid our dresses, or because our vanity as been wounded, or our
costume fails to produce an effect, La Valliere laughs.

As far as I am concerned, that is not my character,said Mademoiselle
de Tonnay-Charente. "I am a woman; and there are few like me; whoever
loves meflatters me; whoever flatters mepleases me; and whoever
pleases - "

Well!said Montalaisyou do not finish.

It is too difficult,replied Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charentelaughing
loudly. "Do youwho are so cleverfinish for me."

And you, Louise?said Montalaisdoes any one please you?


That is a matter that concerns no one but myself,replied the young
girlrising from the mossy bank on which she had been reclining during
the whole time the ballet lasted. "Nowmesdemoiselleswe have agreed
to amuse ourselves to-night without any one to overlook usand without
any escort. We are three in numberwe like one anotherand the night
is lovely. Look yonderdo you not see the moon slowly risingsilvering
the topmost branches of the chestnuts and the oaks. Ohbeautiful walk!
sweet liberty! exquisite soft turf of the woodsthe happiness which your
friendship confers upon me! let us walk arm in arm towards those large
trees. Out yonder all are at this moment seated at table and fully
occupiedor preparing to adorn themselves for a set and formal
promenade; horses are being saddledor harnessed to the carriages - the
queen's mules or Madame's four white ponies. As for ourselveswe shall
soon reach some retired spot where no eyes can see us and no step follow
ours. Do you not rememberMontalaisthe woods of Cheverny and of
Chambordthe innumerable rustling poplars of Bloiswhere we exchanged
our mutual hopes?"

And confidences too?

Yes.

Well,said Mademoiselle de Tonnay-CharenteI also think a good deal;
but I take care -

To say nothing,said Montalaisso that when Mademoiselle de Tonnay-
Charente thinks, Athenais is the only one who knows it.

Hush!said Mademoiselle de Tonnay-CharenteI hear steps approaching
from this side.

Quick, quick, then, among the high reed-grass,said Montalais; "stoop
Athenaisyou are so tall."

Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente stooped as she was toldandalmost at
the same momentthey saw two gentlemen approachingtheir heads bent
downwalking arm in armon the fine gravel walk running parallel with
the bank. The young girls hadindeedmade themselves small - indeed
invisible.

It is Monsieur de Guiche,whispered Montalais in Mademoiselle de Tonnay-
Charente's ear.

It is Monsieur de Bragelonne,whispered the latter to La Valliere.

The two young men approached still closerconversing in animated tones.
She was here just now,said the count. "If I had only seen herI
should have declared it to be a visionbut I spoke to her."

You are positive, then?

Yes; but perhaps I frightened her.

In what way?

Oh! I was still half crazy at you know what; so that she could hardly
have understood what I was saying, and must have grown alarmed.

Oh!said Bragelonnedo not make yourself uneasy: she is all kindness,
and will excuse you; she is clear-sighted, and will understand.

Yes, but if she should have understood, and understood too well, she may
talk.


You do not know Louise, count,said Raoul. "Louise possesses every
virtueand has not a single fault." And the two young men passed on
andas they proceededtheir voices were soon lost in the distance.

How is it, La Valliere,said Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charentethat the
Vicomte de Bragelonne spoke of you as Louise?

We were brought up together,replied Louiseblushing; "M. de
Bragelonne has honored me by asking my hand in marriagebut - "

Well?

It seems the king will not consent to it.

Eh! Why the king? and what has the king to do with it?exclaimed Aure
sharply. "Good gracious! has the king any right to interfere in matters
of that kind? Politics are politicsas M. de Mazarin used to say; but
love is love. Ifthereforeyou love M. de Bragelonnemarry him. _I_
give _my_ consent."

Athenais began to laugh.

Oh! I am speaking seriously,replied Montalaisand my opinion in
this case is quite as good as the king's, I suppose; is it not, Louise?

Come,said La Vallierethese gentlemen have passed; let us take
advantage of our being alone to cross the open ground and so take refuge
in the woods.

So much the better,said Athenaisbecause I see the torches setting
out from the chateau and the theater, and they seem as if they were
preceding some person of distinction.

Let us run, then,said all three. Andgracefully lifting up the long
skirts of their silk dressesthey lightly ran across the open space
between the lake and the thickest covert of the park. Montalais agile as
a deerAthenais eager as a young wolfbounded through the dry grass
andnow and thensome bold Acteon mightby the aid of the faint light
have perceived their straight and well-formed limbs somewhat displayed
beneath the heavy folds of their satin petticoats. La Vallieremore
refined and more bashfulallowed her dress to flow around her; retarded
also by the lameness of her footit was not long before she called out
to her companions to haltandleft behindshe obliged them both to
wait for her. At this momenta manconcealed in a dry ditch planted
with young willow saplingsscrambled quickly up its shelving sideand
ran off in the direction of the chateau. The three young girlson their
sidereached the outskirts of the parkevery path of which they well
knew. The ditches were bordered by high hedges full of flowerswhich on
that side protected the foot-passengers from being intruded upon by the
horses and carriages. In factthe sound of Madame's and the queen's
carriages could be heard in the distance upon the hard dry ground of the
roadsfollowed by the mounted cavaliers. Distant music reached them in
responseand when the soft notes died awaythe nightingalewith throat
of pridepoured forth his melodious chantsand his most complicated
learnedand sweetest compositions to those who had met beneath the thick
covert of the woods. Near the songsterin the dark background of the
large treescould be seen the glistening eyes of an owlattracted by
the harmony. In this way the _fete_ of the whole court was a _fete_ also
for the mysterious inhabitants of the forest; for certainly the deer in
the brakethe pheasant on the branchthe fox in its holewere all
listening. One could realize the life led by this nocturnal and
invisible population from the restless movements that suddenly took place
among the leaves. Our sylvan nymphs uttered a slight crybutreassured
immediately afterwardsthey laughedand resumed their walk. In this


manner they reached the royal oakthe venerable relic of a tree which in
its prime has listened to the sighs of Henry II. for the beautiful Diana
of Poitiersand later still to those of Henry IV. for the lovely
Gabrielle d'Estrees. Beneath this oak the gardeners had piled up the
moss and turf in such a manner that never had a seat more luxuriously
rested the wearied limbs of man or monarch. The trunksomewhat rough to
recline againstwas sufficiently large to accommodate the three young
girlswhose voices were lost among the brancheswhich stretched upwards
to the sky.


Chapter XLI:
What Was Said under the Royal Oak.


The softness of the airthe stillness of the foliagetacitly imposed
upon these young girls an engagement to change immediately their giddy
conversation for one of a more serious character. Sheindeedwhose
disposition was the most lively- Montalaisfor instance- was the
first to yield to the influence; and she began by heaving a deep sigh
and saying: - "What happiness to be here aloneand at libertywith
every right to be frankespecially towards one another."


Yes,said Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente; "for the courthowever
brilliant it may behas always some falsehood concealed beneath the
folds of its velvet robesor the glitter of its diamonds."


I,replied La ValliereI never tell a falsehood; when I cannot speak
the truth, I remain silent.


You will not long remain in favor,said Montalais; "it is not here as
it was at Bloiswhere we told the dowager Madame all our little
annoyancesand all our longings. There were certain days when Madame
remembered that she herself had been youngandon those dayswhoever
talked with her found in her a sincere friend. She related to us her
flirtations with Monsieurand we told her of the flirtations she had had
with othersorat leastthe rumors of them that had spread abroad.
Poor womanso simple-minded! she laughed at themas we did. Where is
she now?"


Ah, Montalais, - laughter-loving Montalais!cried La Valliere; "you see
you are sighing again; the woods inspire youand you are almost
reasonable this evening."


You ought not, either of you,said Athenaisto regret the court at
Blois so much, unless you do not feel happy with us. A court is a place
where men and women resort to talk of matters which mothers, guardians,
and especially confessors, severely denounce.


Oh, Athenais!said Louiseblushing.


Athenais is frank to-night,said Montalais; "let us avail ourselves of
it."


Yes, let us take advantage of it, for this evening I could divulge the
softest secrets of my heart.


Ah, if M. Montespan were here!said Montalais.


Do you think that I care for M. de Montespan?murmured the beautiful
young girl.


He is handsome, I believe?


Yes. And that is no small advantage in my eyes.



There now, you see -

I will go further, and say, that of all the men whom one sees here, he
is the handsomest, and the most -

What was that?said La Vallierestarting suddenly from the mossy bank.

A deer hurrying by, perhaps.

I am only afraid of men,said Athenais.

When they do not resemble M. de Montespan.

A truce to raillery. M. de Montespan is attentive to me, but that does
not commit me in any way. Is not M. de Guiche here, he who is so devoted
to Madame?

Poor fellow!said La Valliere.

Why to be pitied? Madame is sufficiently beautiful, and of high enough
rank, I suppose.

La Valliere shook her head sorrowfullysayingWhen one loves, it is
neither beauty nor rank; - when one loves it should be the heart, or the
eyes only, of him, or of her whom one loves.

Montalais began to laugh loudly. "Hearteyes she said; ohsugarplums!"


I speak for myself;replied La Valliere.

Noble sentiments,said Athenaiswith an air of protectionbut with
indifference.

Are they not your own?asked Louise.

Perfectly so; but to continue: how can one pity a man who bestows his
attentions upon such a woman as Madame? If any disproportion exists, it
is on the count's side.

Oh! no, no,returned La Valliere; "it is on Madame's side."

Explain yourself.

I will. Madame has not even a wish to know what love is. She diverts
herself with the feeling, as children do with fireworks, form which a
spark might set a palace on fire. It makes a display, and that is all
she cares about. Besides, pleasure forms the tissue of which she wishes
her life to be woven. M. de Guiche loves this illustrious personage, but
she will never love him.

Athenais laughed disdainfully. "Do people really ever love?" she said.
Where are the noble sentiments you just now uttered? Does not a woman's
virtue consist in the uncompromising refusal of every intrigue that might
compromise her? A properly regulated woman, endowed with a natural
heart, ought to look at men, make herself loved - adored, even, by them,
and say at the very utmost but once in her life, 'I begin to think that I
ought not to have been what I am, - I should have detested this one less
than others.'

Therefore,exclaimed La Vallierethat is what M. de Montespan has to
expect.


Certainly; he, as well as every one else. What! have I not said that I
admit he possesses a certain superiority, and would not that be enough?
My dear child, a woman is a queen during the entire period nature permits
her to enjoy sovereign power - from fifteen to thirty-five years of age.
After that, we are free to have a heart, when we only have that left -

Oh, oh!murmured La Valliere.

Excellent,cried Montalais; "a very masterly woman; Athenaisyou will
make your way in the world."

Do you not approve of what I say?

Completely,replied her laughing companion.

You are not serious, Montalais?said Louise.

Yes, yes; I approve everything Athenais has just said; only -

Only _what?_

Well, I cannot carry it out. I have the firmest principles; I form
resolutions beside which the laws of the Stadtholder and of the King of
Spain are child's play; but when the moment arrives to put them into
execution, nothing comes of them.

Your courage fails?said Athenaisscornfully.

Miserably so.

Great weakness of nature,returned Athenais. "But at least you make a
choice."

Why, no. It pleases fate to disappoint me in everything; I dream of
emperors, and I find only -

Aure, Aure!exclaimed La Vallierefor pity's sake, do not, for the
pleasure of saying something witty, sacrifice those who love you with
such devoted affection.

Oh, I do not trouble myself much about that; those who love me are
sufficiently happy that I do not dismiss them altogether. So much the
worse for myself if I have a weakness for any one, but so much the worse
for others if I revenge myself upon them for it.

You are right,said Athenaisand, perhaps, you too will reach the
goal. In other words, young ladies, that is termed being a coquette.
Men, who are very silly in most things, are particularly so in
confounding, under the term of coquetry, a woman's pride, and love of
changing her sentiments as she does her dress. I, for instance, am
proud; that is to say, impregnable. I treat my admirers harshly, but
without any pretention to retain them. Men call me a coquette, because
they are vain enough to think I care for them. Other women - Montalais,
for instance - have allowed themselves to be influenced by flattery; they
would be lost were it not for that most fortunate principle of instinct
which urges them to change suddenly, and punish the man whose devotion
they so recently accepted.

A very learned dissertation,said Montalaisin the tone of thorough
enjoyment.

It is odious!murmured Louise.

Thanks to that sort of coquetry, for, indeed, that is genuine coquetry,


continued Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente; "the lover whoa little while
sincewas puffed up with pridein a minute afterwards is suffering at
every pore of his vanity and self-esteem. He wasperhapsalready
beginning to assume the airs of a conquerorbut now he retreats
defeated; he was about to assume an air of protection towards usbut he
is obliged to prostrate himself once more. The result of all this is
thatinstead of having a husband who is jealous and troublesomefree
from restraint in his conduct towards uswe have a lover always
trembling in our presencealways fascinated by our attractionsalways
submissive; and for this simple reasonthat he finds the same woman
never twice of the same mind. Be convincedthereforeof the advantages
of coquetry. Possessing thatone reigns a queen among women in cases
where Providence has withheld that precious faculty of holding one's
heart and mind in check."

How clever you are,said Montalaisand how well you understand the
duty women owe themselves!

I am only settling a case of individual happiness,said Athenais
modestly; "and defending myselflike all weakloving dispositions
against the oppressions of the stronger."

La Valliere does not say a word.

Does she not approve of what we are saying?

Nay; only I do not understand it,said Louise. "You talk like people
not called upon to live in this world of ours."

And very pretty your world is,said Montalais.

A world,returned Athenaisin which men worship a woman until she has
fallen, - and insult her when she has fallen.

Who spoke to you of falling?said Louise.

Yours is a new theory, then; will you tell us how you intend to resist
yielding to temptation, if you allow yourself to be hurried away by
feelings of affection?

Oh!exclaimed the young girlraising towards the dark heavens her
beautiful large eyes filled with tearsif you did but know what a heart
is, I would explain, and convince you; a loving heart is stronger than
all your coquetry, more powerful than all your pride. A woman is never
truly loved, I believe; a man never loves with idolatry, unless he feels
sure he is loved in return. Let old men, whom we read of in comedies,
fancy themselves adored by coquettes. A young man is conscious of, and
knows them; if he has a fancy, or a strong desire, and an absorbing
passion, for a coquette, he cannot mistake her; a coquette may drive him
out of his senses, but will never make him fall in love. Love, such as I
conceive it to be, is an incessant, complete, and perfect sacrifice; but
it is not the sacrifice of one only of the two persons thus united. It
is the perfect abnegation of two who are desirous of blending their
beings into one. If ever I love, I shall implore my lover to leave me
free and pure; I will tell him, and he will understand, that my heart was
torn by my refusal, and he, in his love for me, aware of the magnitude of
my sacrifice, - he, in his turn, I say, will store his devotion for me, -
will respect me, and will not seek my ruin, to insult me when I shall
have fallen, as you said just now, whilst uttering your blasphemies
against love, such as I understand it. That is my idea of love. And now
you will tell me, perhaps, that my love will despise me; I defy him to do
so, unless he be the vilest of men, and my heart assures me that it is
not such a man I would choose. A look from me will repay him for the
sacrifices he makes, or will inspire him with the virtues which he would


never think he possessed.

But, Louise,exclaimed Montalaisyou tell us this, and do not carry
it into practice.

What do you mean?

You are adored by Raoul de Bragelonne, who worships you on both knees.
The poor fellow is made the victim of your virtue, just as he would be
nay, more than he would be, even - of my coquetry, or Athenais's pride.

All this is simply a different shade of coquetry,said Athenais; "and
LouiseI perceiveis a coquette without knowing it."

Oh!said La Valliere.

Yes, you may call it instinct, if you please, keenest sensibility,
exquisite refinement of feeling, perpetual play of restrained outbreaks
of affection, which end in smoke. It is very artful too, and very
effective. I should even, now that I reflect upon it, have preferred
this system of tactics to my own pride, for waging war on members of the
other sex, because it offers the advantage sometimes of thoroughly
convincing them; but, at the present moment, without utterly condemning
myself, I declare it to be superior to the non-complex coquetry of
Montalais.And the two young girls began to laugh.

La Valliere alone preserved silenceand quietly shook her head. Thena
moment aftershe addedIf you were to tell me, in the presence of a
man, but a fourth part of what you have just said, or even if I were
assured that you think it, I should die of shame and grief where I am
now.

Very well; die, poor tender little darling,replied Mademoiselle de
Tonnay-Charente; "for if there are no men herethere are at least two
womenyour own friendswho declare you to be attained and convicted of
being a coquette from instinct; in other wordsthe most dangerous kind
of coquette the world possesses."

Oh! mesdemoiselles,replied La Valliereblushingand almost ready to
weep. Her two companions again burst out laughing.

Very well! I will ask Bragelonne to tell me.

Bragelonne?said Athenais.

Yes! Bragelonne, who is as courageous as Caesar, and as clever and
witty as M. Fouquet. Poor fellow! for twelve years he has known you,
loved you, and yet - one can hardly believe it - he has never even kissed
the tips of your fingers.

Tell us the reason of this cruelty, you who are all heart,said
Athenais to La Valliere.

Let me explain it by a single word - virtue. You will perhaps deny the
existence of virtue?

Come, Louise, tell us the truth,said Auretaking her by the hand.

What do you wish me to tell you?cried La Valliere.

Whatever you like; but it will be useless for you to say anything, for I
persist in my opinion of you. A coquette from instinct; in other words,
as I have already said, and I say it again, the most dangerous of all
coquettes.


Oh! no, no; for pity's sake do not believe that!

What! twelve years of extreme severity.

How can that be, since twelve years ago I was only five years old? The
frivolity of the child cannot surely be placed to the young girl's
account.

Well! you are now seventeen; three years instead of twelve. During
those three years you have remained constantly and unchangeably cruel.
Against you are arrayed the silent shades of Blois, the meetings when you
diligently conned the stars together, the evening wanderings beneath the
plantain-trees, his impassioned twenty years speaking to your fourteen
summers, the fire of his glances addressed to yourself.

Yes, yes; but so it is!

Impossible!

But why impossible?

Tell us something credible and we will believe you.

Yet, if you were to suppose one thing.

What is that?

Suppose that I thought I was in love, and that I am not.

What! not in love!

Well, then! if I have acted in a different manner to what others do when
they are in love, it is because I do not love; and because my hour has
not yet come.

Louise, Louise,said Montalaistake care or I will remind you of the
remark you made just now. Raoul is not here; do not overwhelm him while
he is absent; be charitable, and if, on closer inspection, you think you
do not love him, tell him so, poor fellow!and she began to laugh.

Louise pitied M. de Guiche just now,said Athenais; "would it be
possible to detect an explanation of her indifference for the one in this
compassion for the other?"

Say what you please,said La Vallieresadly; "upbraid me as you like
since you do not understand me."

Oh! oh!replied Montalaistemper, sorrow, tears; we are jesting,
Louise, and are not, I assure you, quite the monsters you suppose. Look
at the proud Athenais, as she is called; she does not love M. de
Montespan, it is true, but she would be in despair if M. de Montespan did
not continue to love her. Look at me; I laugh at M. Malicorne, but the
poor fellow whom I laugh at knows precisely when he will be permitted to
press his lips upon my hand. And yet the eldest of us is not twenty
yet. What a future before us!

Silly, silly girls!murmured Louise.

You are quite right,said Montalais; "and you alone have spoken words
of wisdom."

Certainly.


I do not dispute it,replied Athenais. "And so it is clear you do not
love poor M. de Bragelonne?"

Perhaps she does,said Montalais; "she is not yet quite certain of it.
Butin any caselistenAthenais; if M. de Bragelonne is ever freeI
will give you a little friendly advice."

What is that?

To look at him well before you decide in favor of M. de Montespan.

Oh! in that way of considering the subject, M. de Bragelonne is not the
only one whom one could look at with pleasure; M. de Guiche, for
instance, has his value also.

He did not distinguish himself this evening,said Montalais; "and I
know from very good authority that Madame thought him insupportable."

M. de Saint-Aignan produced a most brilliant effect, and I am sure that
more than one person who saw him dance this evening will not soon forget
him. Do you not think so, La Valliere?

Why do you ask me? I did not see him, nor do I know him.

What! you did not see M. de Saint-Aignan? Don't you know him?

No.

Come, come, do not affect a virtue more extravagantly excessive than our
vanity! - you have eyes, I suppose?

Excellent.

Then you must have seen all those who danced this evening.

Yes, nearly all.

That is a very impertinent 'nearly all' for somebody.

You must take it for what it is worth.

Very well; now, among all those gentlemen whom you saw, which do you
prefer?

Yes,said Montalaisis it M. de Saint-Aignan, or M. de Guiche, or

M. -
I prefer no one; I thought them all about the same.

Do you mean, then, that among that brilliant assembly, the first court
in the world, no one pleased you?

I do not say that.

Tell us, then, who your ideal is?

It is not an ideal being.

He exists, then?

In very truth,exclaimed La Vallierearoused and excited; "I cannot
understand you at all. What! you who have a heart as I haveeyes as I
haveand yet you speak of M. de Guicheof M. de Saint-Aignanwhen the
king was there." These wordsuttered in a precipitate mannerand in an


agitatedfervid tone of voicemade her two companionsbetween whom she
was seatedexclaim in a manner that terrified her_The king!_


La Valliere buried her face in her hands. "Yes she murmured; the
king! the king! Have you ever seen any one to be compared to the king?"


You were right just now in saying you had excellent eyes, Louise, for
you see a great distance; too far, indeed. Alas! the king is not one
upon whom our poor eyes have a right to hinge themselves.


That is too true,cried La Valliere; "it is not the privilege of all
eyes to gaze upon the sun; but I will look upon himeven were I to be
blinded in doing so." At this momentand as though caused by the words
which had just escaped La Valliere's lipsa rustling of leavesand of
what sounded like some silken materialwas heard behind the adjoining
bushes. The young girls hastily rosealmost terrified out of their
senses. They distinctly saw the leaves movewithout being able to see
what it was that stirred them.


It is a wolf or a wild boar,cried Montalais; "fly! fly!" The three
girlsin the extremity of terrorfled by the first path that presented
itselfand did not stop until they had reached the verge of the wood.
Therebreathlessleaning against each otherfeeling their hearts throb
wildlythey endeavored to collect their sensesbut could only succeed
in doing so after the lapse of some minutes. Perceiving at last the
lights from the windows of the chateauthey decided to walk towards
them. La Valliere was exhausted with fatigueand Aure and Athenais were
obliged to support her.


We have escaped well,said Montalais.


I am greatly afraid,said La Vallierethat it was something worse
than a wolf. For my part, and I speak as I think, I should have
preferred to have run the risk of being devoured alive by some wild
animal than to have been listened to and overheard. Fool, fool that I
am! How could I have thought, how could I have said what I did?And
saying this her head bowed like the water tossed plume of a bulrush; she
felt her limbs failand her strength abandoning herandgliding almost
inanimate from the arms of her companionssank down upon the turf.


Chapter XLII:
The King's Uneasiness.


Let us leave poor La Vallierewho had fainted in the arms of her two
companionsand return to the precincts of the royal oak. The young
girls had hardly run twenty paceswhen the sound which had so much
alarmed them was renewed among the branches. A man's figure might
indistinctly be perceivedand putting the branches of the bushes aside
he appeared upon the verge of the woodand perceiving that the place was
emptyburst out into a peal of laughter. It is almost superfluous to
add that the form in question was that of a young and handsome cavalier
who immediately made a sign to anotherwho thereupon made his appearance.


What, sire,said the second figureadvancing timidlyhas your
majesty put our young sentimentalists to flight?


It seems so,said the kingand you can show yourself without fear.


Take care, sire, you will be recognized.


But I tell you they are flown.


This is a most fortunate meeting, sire; and, if I dared offer an opinion



to your majesty, we ought to follow them.
They are far enough away by this time.

They would quickly allow themselves to be overtaken, especially if they
knew who were following them.

What do you mean by that, coxcomb that you are?

Why, one of them seems to have taken a fancy to me, and another compared
you to the sun.

The greater reason why we should not show ourselves, Saint-Aignan. The
sun never shows itself in the night-time.

Upon my word, sire, your majesty seems to have very little curiosity.
In your place, I should like to know who are the two nymphs, the two
dryads, the two hamadryads, who have so good an opinion of us.

I shall know them again very well, I assure you, without running after
them.

By what means?

By their voices, of course. They belong to the court, and the one who
spoke of me had a remarkably sweet voice.

Ah! your majesty permits yourself to be influenced by flattery.

No one will ever say it is a means _you_ make use of.
Forgive my stupidity, sire.

Come; let us go and look where I told you.

Is the passion, then, which your majesty confided to me, already
forgotten?

Oh! no, indeed. How is it possible to forget such beautiful eyes as
Mademoiselle de la Valliere has?

Yet the other one has a beautiful voice.
Which one?

The lady who has fallen in love with the sun.
M. de Saint-Aignan!

Forgive me, sire.

Well, I am not sorry you should believe me to be an admirer of sweet
voices as well as of beautiful eyes. I know you to be a terrible talker,
and to-morrow I shall have to pay for the confidence I have shown you.

What do you mean, sire?

That to-morrow every one will know that I have designs upon this little
La Valliere; but he careful, Saint-Aignan, I have confided my secret to
no one but you, and if any one should speak to me about it, I shall know
who has betrayed my secret.

You are angry, sire.


No; but you understand I do not wish to compromise the poor girl.

Do not be afraid, sire.

You promise me, then?

I give you my word of honor.

Excellent,thought the kinglaughing to himself; "now every one will
know to-morrow that I have been running about after La Valliere to-
night."

Thenendeavoring to see where he washe said: "Why we have lost
ourselves."

Not quite so bad as that, sire.

Where does that gate lead to?

To Rond-Point, sire.

Where were we going when we heard the sound of women's voices?

Yes, sire, and the termination of a conversation in which I had the
honor of hearing my own name pronounced by the side of your majesty's.

You return to that subject too frequently, Saint-Aignan.

Your majesty will forgive me, but I am delighted to know that a woman
exists whose thoughts are occupied about me, without my knowledge, and
without my having done anything to deserve it. Your majesty cannot
comprehend this satisfaction, for your rank and merit attract attention,
and compel regard.

No, no, Saint-Aignan, believe me or not, as you like,said the king
leaning familiarly upon Saint-Aignan's arm and taking the path he thought
would lead them to the chateau; "but this candid confessionthis
perfectly disinterested preference of one who willperhapsnever
attract my attention - in one wordthe mystery of this adventure excites
meand the truth isthat if I were not so taken with La Valliere - "

Do not let that interfere with your majesty's intentions: you have time
enough before you.

What do you mean?

La Valliere is said to be very strict in her ideas.

You excite my curiosity and I am anxious to see her again. Come, let us
walk on.

The king spoke untrulyfor nothingon the contrarycould make him less
anxiousbut he had a part to playand so he walked on hurriedly. Saint-
Aignan followed him at a short distance. Suddenly the king stopped; the
courtier followed his example.

Saint-Aignan,he saiddo you not hear some one moaning?

Yes, sire, and weeping, too, it seems.

It is in this direction,said the king. "It sounds like the tears and
sobs of a woman."

Run,said the king; andfollowing a by-paththey ran across the


grass. As they approachedthe cries were more distinctly heard.

Help, help,exclaimed two voices. The king and his companion redoubled
their speedandas they approached nearerthe sighs they had heard
were changed into loud sobs. The cry of "Help! help!" was again
repeated; at the sound of whichthe king and Saint-Aignan increased the
rapidity of their pace. Suddenly at the other side of a ditchunder the
branches of a willowthey perceived a woman on her kneesholding
another in her arms who seemed to have fainted. A few paces from thema
thirdstanding in the middle of the pathwas calling for assistance.
Perceiving the two gentlemenwhose rank she could not tellher cries
for assistance were redoubled. The kingwho was in advance of his
companionleaped across the ditchand reached the group at the very
moment whenfrom the end of the path which led to the chateaua dozen
persons were approachingwho had been drawn to the spot by the same
cries that had attracted the attention of the king and M. de Saint-Aignan.

What is the matter, young ladies?said Louis.

The king!exclaimed Mademoiselle de Montalaisin her astonishment
letting La Valliere's head fall upon the ground.

Yes, it is the king; but that is no reason why you should abandon your
companion. Who is she?

It is Mademoiselle de la Valliere, sire.

Mademoiselle de la Valliere!

Yes, sire, she has just fainted.

Poor child!said the king. "Quickquickfetch a surgeon." But
however great the anxiety with which the king had pronounced these words
may have seemed to othershe had not so carefully schooled himself but
that they appearedas well as the gesture which accompanied them
somewhat cold to Saint-Aignanto whom the king had confided the sudden
love with which she had inspired him.

Saint-Aignan,continued the kingwatch over Mademoiselle de la
Valliere, I beg. Send for a surgeon. I will hasten forward and inform
Madame of the accident which has befallen one of her maids of honor.
Andin factwhile M. de Saint-Aignan was busily engaged in making
preparations for carrying Mademoiselle de la Valliere to the chateauthe
king hurried forwardhappy to have an opportunity of approaching Madame
and of speaking to her under a colorable pretext. Fortunatelya
carriage was passing; the coachman was told to stopand the persons who
were insidehaving been informed of the accidenteagerly gave up their
seats to Mademoiselle de la Valliere. The current of fresh air produced
by the rapid motion of the carriage soon recalled her to her senses.
Having reached the chateaushe was ablethough very weakto alight
from the carriageandwith the assistance of Athenais and of Montalais
to reach the inner apartments. They made her sit down in one of the
rooms of the ground floor. After a whileas the accident had not
produced much effect upon those who had been walkingthe promenade was
resumed. During this timethe king had found Madame beneath a tree
with overhanging branchesand had seated himself by her side.

Take care, sire,said Henrietta to himin a low toneyou do not show
yourself as indifferent as you ought to be.

Alas!replied the kingin the same toneI much fear we have entered
into an agreement above our strength to keep.He then added aloudYou
have heard of the accident, I suppose?


What accident?

Oh! in seeing you I forgot I hurried here expressly to tell you of it.
I am, however, painfully affected by it; one of your maids of honor,
Mademoiselle de la Valliere, has just fainted.

Indeed! poor girl,said the princessquietlywhat was the cause of
it?

She then added in an undertoneYou forget, sire, that you wish others
to believe in your passion for this girl, and yet you remain here while
she is almost dying, perhaps, elsewhere.

Ah! Madame,said the kingsighinghow much more perfect you are in
your part than I am, and how actively you think of everything.

He then rosesaying loud enough for every one to hear himPermit me to
leave you, Madame; my uneasiness is very great, and I wish to be quite
certain, myself, that proper attention has been given to Mademoiselle de
la Valliere.And the king left again to return to La Vallierewhile
those who had been present commented upon the king's remark: - "My
uneasiness is very great."

Chapter XLIII:
The King's Secret.

On his way Louis met the Comte de Saint-Aignan. "WellSaint-Aignan he
inquired, with affected interest, how is the invalid."

Really, sire,stammered Saint-Aignanto my shame, I confess I do not
know.

What! you do not know?said the kingpretending to take in a serious
manner this want of attention for the object of his predilection.

Will your majesty pardon me; but I have just met one of our three
loquacious wood-nymphs, and I confess that my attention has been taken
away from other matters.

Ah!said the kingeagerlyyou have found, then -

The one who deigned to speak of me in such advantageous terms; and,
having found mine, I was searching for yours, sire, when I had the
happiness to meet your majesty.

Very well; but Mademoiselle de la Valliere before everything else,said
the kingfaithful to the character he had assumed."

Oh! our charming invalid!said Saint-Aignan; "how fortunately her
fainting fit came onsince your majesty had already occupied yourself
about her."

What is the name of your fair lady, Saint-Aignan? Is it a secret?

It ought to be a secret, and a very great one, even; but your majesty is
well aware that no secret can possibly exist for you.

Well, what is her name?

Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente.

Is she pretty?


Exceedingly, sire; and I recognized the voice which pronounced my name
in such tender accents. I accosted her, questioned her as well as I was
able to do, in the midst of the crowd; and she told me, without
suspecting anything, that a little while ago she was under the great oak,
with her two friends, when the sound of a wolf or a robber had terrified
them, and made them run away.

But,inquired the kinganxiouslywhat are the names of these two
friends?

Sire,said Saint-Aignanwill your majesty send me forthwith to the
Bastile?

What for?

Because I am an egotist and a fool. My surprise was so great at such a
conquest, and at so fortunate a discovery, that I went no further in my
inquiries. Besides, I did not think that your majesty would attach any
very great importance to what you heard, knowing how much your attention
was taken up by Mademoiselle de la Valliere; and then, Mademoiselle de
Tonnay-Charente left me precipitately, to return to Mademoiselle de la
Valliere.

Let us hope, then, that I shall be as fortunate as yourself. Come,
Saint-Aignan.

Your majesty is ambitions, I perceive, and does not wish to allow any
conquest to escape you. Well, I assure you that I will conscientiously
set about my inquiries; and, moreover, from one or the other of those
Three Graces we shall learn the names of the rest, and by the names their
secrets.

I, too,said the kingonly require to hear her voice to know it
again. Come, let us say no more about it, but show me where poor La
Valliere is.

Well,thought Saint-Aignanthe king's regard is beginning to display
itself, and for that girl too. It is extraordinary; I should never have
believed it.And with this thought passing through his mindhe showed
the king the room to which La Valliere had been carried; the king
enteredfollowed by Saint-Aignan. In a low chambernear a large window
looking out upon the gardensLa Vallierereclining in a large armchair
was inhaling deep draughts of the perfumed evening breeze. From the
loosened body of her dressthe lace fell in tumbled foldsmingling with
the tresses of her beautiful fair hairwhich lay scattered upon her
shoulders. Her languishing eyes were filled with tears; she seemed as
lifeless as those beautiful visions of our dreamsthat pass before the
mental eye of the sleeperhalf-opening their wings without moving them
unclosing their lips without a sound escaping them. The pearl-like
pallor of La Valliere possessed a charm it would be impossible to
describe. Mental and bodily suffering had produced upon her features a
soft and noble expression of grief; from the perfect passiveness of her
arms and bustshe more resembled one whose soul had passed awaythan a
living being; she seemed not to hear either of the whisperings which
arose from the court. She seemed to be communing within herself; and her
beautifuldelicate hands trembled from time to time as though at the
contact of some invisible touch. She was so completely absorbed in her
reveriethat the king entered without her perceiving him. At a distance
he gazed upon her lovely faceupon which the moon shed its pure silvery
light.

Good Heavens!he exclaimedwith a terror he could not controlshe is
dead.


No, sire,said Montalaisin a low voice; "on the contraryshe is
better. Are you not betterLouise?"

But Louise did not answer. "Louise continued Montalais, the king has
deigned to express his uneasiness on your account."

The king!exclaimed Louisestarting up abruptlyas if a stream of
fire had started through her frame to her heart; "the king uneasy about
me?"

Yes,said Montalais.

The king is here, then?said La Vallierenot venturing to look round
her.

That voice! that voice!whispered Louiseagerlyto Saint-Aignan.

Yes, it is so,replied Saint-Aignan; "your majesty is right; it is she
who declared her love for the sun."

Hush!said the king. And then approaching La Vallierehe saidYou
are not well, Mademoiselle de la Valliere? Just now, indeed, in the
park, I saw that you had fainted. How were you attacked?

Sire,stammered out the poor childpale and tremblingI really do
not know.

You have been walking too far,said the king; "and fatigueperhaps - "

No, sire,said Montalaiseagerlyanswering for her friendit could
not be from fatigue, for we passed most of the evening seated beneath the
royal oak.

Under the royal oak?returned the kingstarting. "I was not deceived;
it is as I thought." And he directed a look of intelligence at the comte.

Yes,said Saint-Aignanunder the royal oak, with Mademoiselle de
Tonnay-Charente.

How do you know that?inquired Montalais.

In a very simple way. Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente told me so.

In that case, she probably told you the cause of Mademoiselle de la
Valliere's fainting?

Why, yes; she told me something about a wolf or a robber. I forget
precisely which.La Valliere listenedher eyes fixedher bosom
heavingas ifgifted with an acuteness of perceptionshe foresaw a
portion of the truth. Louis imagined this attitude and agitation to be
the consequence of a terror only partially reassured. "Nayfear
nothing he said, with a rising emotion which he could not conceal; the
wolf which terrified you so much was simply a wolf with two legs."

It was a man, then!said Louise; "it was a man who was listening?"

Suppose it was so, mademoiselle, what great harm was there in his having
listened? Is it likely that, even in your own opinion, you would have
said anything which could not have been listened to?

La Valliere wrung her handsand hid her face in themas if to hide her
blushes. "In Heaven's name she said, who was concealed there? Who
was listening?"


The king advanced towards herto take hold of one of her hands. "It was
I he said, bowing with marked respect. Is it likely I could have
frightened you?" La Valliere uttered a loud cry; for the second time her
strength forsook her; and moaning in utter despairshe again fell
lifeless in her chair. The king had just time to hold out his arm; so
that she was partially supported by him. Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente
and Montalaiswho stood a few paces from the king and La Valliere
motionless and almost petrified at the recollection of their conversation
with La Vallieredid not even think of offering their assistance
feeling restrained by the presence of the kingwhowith one knee on the
groundheld La Valliere round the waist with his arm.

You heard, sire!murmured Athenais. But the king did not reply; he
remained with his eyes fixed upon La Valliere's half-closed eyesand
held her quiescent hand in his own.

Of course,replied Saint-Aignanwhoon his sidehoping that
Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charentetoowould faintadvancing towards her
holding his arms extended- "of course; we did not even lose a single
word." But the haughty Athenais was not a woman to faint easily; she
darted a terrible look at Saint-Aignanand fled. Montalaiswith more
courageadvanced hurriedly towards Louiseand received her from the
king's handswho was already fast losing his presence of mindas he
felt his face covered by the perfumed tresses of the seemingly dying
girl. "Excellent whispered Saint-Aignan. This is indeed an
adventure; and it will be my own fault if I am not the first to relate
it."

The king approached himandwith a trembling voice and a passionate
gesturesaidNot a syllable, comte.

The poor king forgot thatonly an hour beforehe had given him a
similar recommendationbut with the very opposite intention; namely
that the comte should be indiscreet. It followedas a matter of course
that he latter recommendation was quite as unnecessary as the former.
Half an hour afterwardseverybody in Fontainebleau knew that
Mademoiselle de la Valliere had had a conversation under the royal oak
with Montalais and Tonnay-Charenteand that in this conversation she had
confessed her affection for the king. It was knownalsothat the king
after having manifested the uneasiness with which Mademoiselle de la
Valliere's health had inspired himhad turned paleand trembled very
much as he received the beautiful girl fainting into his arms; so that it
was quite agreed among the courtiersthat the greatest event of the
period had just been revealed; that his majesty loved Mademoiselle de la
Valliereand thatconsequentlyMonsieur could now sleep in perfect
tranquillity. It was thiseventhat the queen-motheras surprised as
the others by the sudden changehastened to tell the young queen and
Philip d'Orleans. Only she set to work in a different mannerby
attacking them in the following way: - To her daughter-in-law she said
See, now, Therese, how very wrong you were to accuse the king; now it is
said he is devoted to some other person; why should there be any greater
truth in the report of to-day than in that of yesterday, or in that of
yesterday than in that of to-day?To Monsieurin relating to him the
adventure of the royal oakshe saidAre you not very absurd in your
jealousies, my dear Philip? It is asserted that the king is madly in
love with that little La Valliere. Say nothing of it to your wife; for
the queen will know all about it very soon.This latter confidential
communication had an immediate result. Monsieurwho had regained his
composurewent triumphantly to look after his wifeand it was not yet
midnight and the _fete_ was to continue until two in the morninghe
offered her his hand for a promenade. At the end of a few paces
howeverthe first thing he did was to disobey his mother's injunctions.

Do not tell any one, the queen least of all,he said mysteriously


what people say about the king.
What do they say about him?inquired Madame.
That my brother has suddenly fallen in love.
With whom?
With Mademoiselle de la Valliere.
As it was darkMadame could smile at her ease.
Ah!she saidand how long is it since this has been the case?
For some days, it seems. But that was nothing but nonsense; it is only


this evening that he has revealed his passion.


The king shows his good taste,said Madame; "in my opinion she is a
very charming girl."
I verily believe you are jesting.
I! in what way?
In any case this passion will make some one very happy, even if it be


only La Valliere herself.
Really,continued the princessyou speak as if you had read into the


inmost recesses of La Valliere's heart. Who has told you that she agrees
to return the king's affection?
And who has told you that she will not return it?
She loves the Vicomte de Bragelonne.
You think so?
She is even affianced to him.
She was so.
What do you mean?
When they went to ask the king's permission to arrange the marriage, he


refused his permission.
Refused?
Yes, although the request was preferred by the Comte de la Fere himself,


for whom the king has the greatest regard, on account of the part he took


in your royal brother's restoration, and in other events, also, which


happened a long time ago.

Well! the poor lovers must wait until the king is pleased to change his

opinion; they are young, and there is time enough.
But, dear me,said PhiliplaughingI perceive you do not know the
best part of the affair.


No!


That by which the king was most deeply touched.


The king, do you say, has been deeply touched?


To the very quick of his heart.
But how? - in what manner? - tell me directly.


By an adventure, the romance of which cannot be equalled.


You know how I love to hear of such adventures, and yet you keep me
waiting,said the princessimpatiently.
Well, then - and Monsieur paused.


I am listening.
Under the royal oak - you know where the royal oak is?


What can that matter? Under the royal oak, you were saying?


Well! Mademoiselle de la Valliere, fancying herself to be alone with her
two friends, revealed to them her affection for the king.

Ah!said Madamebeginning to be uneasyher affection for the king?
Yes.

When was this?
About an hour ago.

Madame startedand then saidAnd no one knew of this affection?
No one.

Not even his majesty?

Not even his majesty. The artful little puss kept her secret strictly
to herself, when suddenly it proved stronger than herself, and so escaped
her.

And from whom did you get this absurd tale?

Why, as everybody else did, from La Valliere herself, who confessed her
love to Montalais and Tonnay-Charente, who were her companions.

Madame stopped suddenlyand by a hasty movement let go her husband's
hand.

Did you say it was an hour ago she made this confession?Madame
inquired.

About that time.

Is the king aware of it?

Why, that is the very thing which constitutes the perfect romance of the
affair, for the king was behind the royal oak with Saint-Aignan, and
heard the whole of the interesting conversation without losing a single
word of it.

Madame felt struck to the heartsaying incautiouslyBut I have seen
the king since, and he never told me a word about it.

Of course,said Monsieur; "he took care not to speak of it to you
himselfsince he recommended every one not to say a word about it."


What do you mean?said Madamegrowing angry.

I mean that they wished to keep you in ignorance of the affair
altogether.

But why should they wish to conceal it from me?

From the fear that your friendship for the young queen might induce you
to say something about it to her, nothing more.

Madame hung down her head; her feelings were grievously wounded. She
could not enjoy a moment's repose until she had met the king. As a king
ismost naturallythe very last person in his kingdom who knows what is
said about himin the same way that a lover is the only one who is kept
in ignorance of what is said about his mistressthereforewhen the king
perceived Madamewho was looking for himhe approached her in some
perturbationbut still gracious and attentive in his manner. Madame
waited for him to speak about La Valliere first; but as he did not speak
of hershe saidAnd the poor girl?

What poor girl?said the king.

La Valliere. Did you not tell me, sire, that she had fainted?

She is still very ill,said the kingaffecting the greatest
indifference.

But surely that will prejudicially affect the rumor you were going to
spread, sire?

What rumor?

That your attention was taken up by her.

Oh!said the kingcarelesslyI trust it will be reported all the
same.

Madame still waited; she wished to know if the king would speak to her of
the adventure of the royal oak. But the king did not say a word about
it. Madameon her sidedid not open her lips about it; so that the
king took leave of her without having reposed the slightest confidence in
her. Hardly had she watched the king move awaythan she set out in
search of Saint-Aignan. Saint-Aignan was never very difficult to find;
he was like the smaller vessels that always follow in the wake ofand as
tenders tothe larger ships. Saint-Aignan was the very man whom Madame
needed in her then state of mind. And as for himhe only looked for
worthier ears than others he had found to have an opportunity of
recounting the event in all its details. And so he did not spare Madame
a single word of the whole affair. When he had finishedMadame said to
himConfess, now, that is his all a charming invention.

Invention, no; a true story, yes.

Confess, whether invention or true story, that it was told to you as you
have told it to me, but that you were not there.

Upon my honor, Madame, I was there.

And you think that these confessions may have made an impression on the
king?

Certainly, as those of Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente did upon me,
replied Saint-Aignan; "do not forgetMadamethat Mademoiselle de la


Valliere compared the king to the sun; that was flattering enough."

The king does not permit himself to be influenced by such flatteries.

Madame, the king is just as much Adonis as Apollo; and I saw plain
enough just now when La Valliere fell into his arms.

La Valliere fell into the king's arms!

Oh! it was the most graceful picture possible; just imagine, La Valliere
had fallen back fainting, and -

Well! what did you see? - tell me - speak!

I saw what ten other people saw at the same time as myself; I saw that
when La Valliere fell into his arms, the king almost fainted himself.

Madame smothered a subdued crythe only indication of her smothered
anger.

Thank you,she saidlaughing in a convulsive manneryou relate
stories delightfully, M. de Saint-Aignan.And she hurried awayalone
and almost suffocated by painful emotiontowards the chateau.

Chapter XLIV:
Courses de Nuit.

Monsieur quitted the princess in the best possible humorand feeling
greatly fatiguedretired to his apartmentsleaving every one to finish
the night as he chose. When in his roomMonsieur began to dress for the
night with careful attentionwhich displayed itself from time to time in
paroxysms of satisfaction. While his attendants were engaged in curling
his hairhe sang the principal airs of the ballet which the violins had
playedand to which the king had danced. He then summoned his tailors
inspected his costumes for the next dayandin token of his extreme
satisfactiondistributed various presents among them. Ashoweverthe
Chevalier de Lorrainewho had seen the prince return to the chateau
entered the roomMonsieur overwhelmed him with kindness. The former
after having saluted the princeremained silent for a momentlike a
sharpshooter who deliberates before deciding in what direction he will
renew his fire; thenseeming to make up his mindhe saidHave you
remarked a very singular coincidence, monseigneur?

No; what is it?

The bad reception which his majesty, in appearance, gave the Comte de
Guiche.

In appearance?

Yes, certainly; since, in reality, he has restored him to favor.

I did not notice it,said the prince.

What, did you not remark, that, instead of ordering him to go away again
into exile, as was natural, he encouraged him in his opposition by
permitting him to resume his place in the ballet?

And you think the king was wrong, chevalier?said the prince.

Are you not of my opinion, prince?

Not altogether so, my dear chevalier; and I think the king was quite


right not to have made a disturbance against a poor fellow whose want of
judgment is more to be complained of than his intention.

Really,said the chevalieras far as I am concerned, I confess that
this magnanimity astonishes me to the highest degree.

Why so?inquired Philip.

Because I should have thought the king had been more jealous,replied
the chevalierspitefully. During the last few minutes Monsieur had felt
there was something of an irritating nature concealed under his
favorite's remarks; this last wordhoweverignited the powder.

Jealous!exclaimed the prince. "Jealous! what do you mean? Jealous of
whatif you please - or jealous of whom?"

The chevalier perceived that he had allowed an excessively mischievous
remark to escape himas he was in the habit of doing. He endeavored
thereforeapparently to recall it while it was still possible to do so.
Jealous of his authority,he saidwith an assumed frankness; "of what
else would you have the king jealous?"

Ah!said the princethat's very proper.

Did your royal highness,continued the chevaliersolicit dear De
Guiche's pardon?

No, indeed,said Monsieur. "De Guiche is an excellent fellowand full
of courage; but as I do not approve of his conduct with MadameI wish
him neither harm nor good."

The chevalier had assumed a bitterness with regard to De Guicheas he
had attempted to do with regard to the king; but he thought he perceived
that the time for indulgenceand even for the utmost indifferencehad
arrivedand thatin order to throw some light on the questionit might
be necessary for him to put the lampas the saying isbeneath the
husband's very nose.

Very well, very well,said the chevalier to himselfI must wait for
De Wardes; he will do more in one day than I in a month; for I verily
believe he is even more envious than I. Then, again, it is not De Wardes
I require so much as that some event or another should happen; and in the
whole of this affair I see none. That De Guiche returned after he had
been sent away is certainly serious enough, but all its seriousness
disappears when I learn that De Guiche has returned at the very moment
Madame troubles herself no longer about him. Madame, in fact, is
occupied with the king, that is clear; but she will not be so much longer
if, as it is asserted, the king has ceased to trouble his head about
her. The moral of the whole matter is, to remain perfectly neutral, and
await the arrival of some new caprice and let that decide the whole
affair.And the chevalier thereupon settled himself resignedly in the
armchair in which Monsieur permitted him to seat himself in his presence
andhaving no more spiteful or malicious remarks to makethe
consequence was that De Lorraine's wit seemed to have deserted him. Most
fortunately Monsieur was in high good-humorand he had enough for two
until the time arrived for dismissing his servants and gentlemen of the
chamberand he passed into his sleeping-apartment. As he withdrewhe
desired the chevalier to present his compliments to Madameand say that
as the night was coolMonsieurwho was afraid of the toothachewould
not venture out again into the park during the remainder of the evening.
The chevalier entered the princess's apartments at the very moment she
came in herself. He acquitted himself faithfully of the commission
intrusted to himandin the first placeremarked all the indifference
and annoyance with which Madame received her husband's communication - a


circumstance which appeared to him fraught with something fresh. If
Madame had been about to leave her apartments with that strangeness of
mannerhe would have followed her; but she was returning to them; there
was nothing to be donetherefore he turned upon his heel like an
unemployed heronappearing to question earthairand water about it;
shook his headand walked away mechanically in the direction of the
gardens. He had hardly gone a hundred paces when he met two young men
walking arm in armwith their heads bent downand idly kicking the
small stones out of their path as they walked onplunged in thought. It
was De Guiche and De Bragelonnethe sight of whomas it always did
produced upon the chevalierinstinctivelya feeling of repugnance. He
did nothoweverthe lesson that accountsalute them with a very low
bowwhich they returned with interest. Thenobserving that the park
was nearly desertedthat the illuminations began to burn outand that
the morning breeze was setting inhe turned to the leftand entered the
chateau againby one of the smaller courtyards. The others turned aside
to the rightand continued on their way towards the large park. As the
chevalier was ascending the side staircasewhich led to the private
entrancehe saw a womanfollowed by anothermake her appearance under
the arcade which led from the small to the large courtyard. The two
women walked so fast that the rustling of their dresses could be
distinguished through the silence of the night. The style of their
mantlestheir graceful figuresa mysterious yet haughty carriage
which distinguished them bothespecially the one who walked first
struck the chevalier.

I certainly know those two,he said to himselfpausing upon the top
step of the small staircase. Thenas with the instinct of a bloodhound
he was about to follow themone of the servants who had been running
after him arrested his attention.

Monsieur,he saidthe courier has arrived.

Very well,said the chevalierthere is time enough; to-morrow will
do.

There are some urgent letters which you would be glad to see, perhaps.

Where from?inquired the chevalier.

One from England, and the other from Calais; the latter arrived by
express, and seems of great importance.

From Calais! Who the deuce can have to write to me from Calais?

I think I recognize the handwriting of Monsieur le Comte de Wardes.

Oh!cried the chevalierforgetting his intention of acting the spy
in that case I will come up at once.This he didwhile the two
unknown beings disappeared at the end of the court opposite to the one by
which they had just entered. We shall now follow themand leave the
chevalier undisturbed to his correspondence. When they had arrived at
the grove of treesthe foremost of the two haltedsomewhat out of
breathandcautiously raising her hoodsaidAre we still far from
the tree?

Yes, Madame, more than five hundred paces; but pray rest awhile, you
will not be able to walk much longer at this rate.

You are right,said the princesfor it was she; and she leaned against
a tree. "And now she resumed, after having recovered her breath, tell
me the whole truthand conceal nothing from me."

Oh, Madame,cried the young girlyou are already angry with me.


No, my dear Athenais, reassure yourself, I am in no way angry with you.
After all, these things do not concern me personally. You are anxious
about what you may have said under the oak; you are afraid of having
offended the king, and I wish to tranquillize you by ascertaining myself
if it were possible you could have been overheard.

Oh, yes, Madame, the king was close to us.

Still, you were not speaking so loud that some of your remarks may not
have been lost.

We thought we were quite alone, Madame.

There were three of you, you say?

Yes; La Valliere, Montalais, and myself.

And _you_, individually, spoke in a light manner of the king?

I am afraid so. Should such be the case, will your highness have the
kindness to make my peace with his majesty?

If there should be any occasion for it, I promise you I will do so.
However, as I have already told you, it will be better not to anticipate
evil. The night is now very dark, and the darkness is still greater
under the trees. It is not likely you were recognized by the king. To
inform him of it, by being the first to speak, is to denounce yourself.

Oh, Madame, Madame! if Mademoiselle de la Valliere were recognized, I
must have been recognized also. Besides, M. de Saint-Aignan left no
doubt on the subject.

Did you, then, say anything very disrespectful of the king?

Not at all; it was one of the others who made some very flattering
speeches about the king; and my remarks must have been much in contrast
with hers.

Montalais is such a giddy girl,said Madame.

It was not Montalais. Montalais said nothing; it was La Valliere.

Madame started as if she had not known it perfectly well already. "No
no she said, the king cannot have heard. Besideswe will now try the
experiment for which we came out. Show me the oak. Do you know where it
is?" she continued.

Alas! Madame, yes.

And you can find it again?

With my eyes shut.

Very well; sit down on the bank where you were, where La Valliere was,
and speak in the same tone and to the same effect as you did before; I
will conceal myself in the thicket, and if I can hear you, I will tell
you so.

Yes, Madame.

If, therefore, you really spoke loud enough for the king to have heard
you, in that case -


Athenais seemed to await the conclusion of the sentence with some anxiety.

In that case,said Madamein a suffocated voicearising doubtless
from her hurried progressin that case, I forbid you - And Madame
again increased her pace. Suddenlyhowevershe stopped. "An idea
occurs to me she said.

A good ideano doubtMadame replied Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente.

Montalais must be as much embarrassed as La Valliere and yourself."

Less so, for she is less compromised, having said less.

That does not matter; she will help you, I dare say, by deviating a
little from the exact truth.

Especially if she knows that your highness is kind enough to interest
yourself about me.

Very well, I think I have discovered what it is best for you all to
pretend.

How delightful.

You had better say that all three of you were perfectly well aware that
the king was behind the tree, or behind the thicket, whichever it might
have been; and that you knew M. de Saint-Aignan was there too.

Yes, Madame.

For you cannot disguise it from yourself, Athenais, Saint-Aignan takes
advantage of some very flattering remarks you made about him.

Well, Madame, you see very clearly that one can be overheard,cried
Athenaissince M. de Saint-Aignan overheard us.

Madame bit her lipsfor she had thoughtlessly committed herself. "Oh
you know Saint-Aignan's character very well she said, the favor the
king shows him almost turns his brainand he talks at random; not only
sohe very often invents. That is not the question; the fact remains
did or did not the king overhear?"

Oh, yes, Madame, he certainly did,said Athenaisin despair.

In that case, do what I said: maintain boldly that all three of you
knew - mind, all three of you, for if there is a doubt about any one of
you, there will be a doubt about all, - persist, I say, that you knew
that the king and M. de Saint-Aignan were there, and that you wished to
amuse yourself at the expense of those who were listening.

Oh, Madame, at the _king's_ expense; we shall never dare say that!

It is a simple jest; an innocent deception readily permitted in young
girls whom men wish to take by surprise. In this manner everything
explains itself. What Montalais said of Malicorne, a mere jest; what you
said of M. de Saint-Aignan, a mere jest too; and what La Valliere might
have said of -

And which she would have given anything to recall.

Are you sure of that?

Perfectly.


Very well, an additional reason. Say the whole affair was a mere joke.

M. de Malicorne will have no occasion to get out of temper; M. de Saint-
Aignan will be completely put out of countenance; _he_ will be laughed at
instead of you; and lastly, the king will be punished for a curiosity
unworthy of his rank. Let people laugh a little at the king in this
affair, and I do not think he will complain of it.
Oh, Madame, you are indeed an angel of goodness and sense!

It is to my own advantage.

In what way?

How can you ask me why it is to my advantage to spare my maids of honor
the remarks, annoyances, perhaps even calumnies, that might follow?
Alas! you well know that the court has no indulgence for this sort of
peccadillo. But we have now been walking for some time, shall we be long
before we reach it?

About fifty or sixty paces further; turn to the left, Madame, if you
please.

And you are sure of Montalais?said Madame.

Oh, certainly.

Will she do what you ask her?

Everything. She will be delighted.

And La Valliere - ventured the princess.

Ah, there will be some difficulty with her, Madame; she would scorn to
tell a falsehood.

Yet, when it is in her interest to do so -

I am afraid that that would not make the slightest difference in her
ideas.

Yes, yes,said Madame. "I have been already told that; she is one of
those overnice and affectedly particular people who place heaven in the
foreground in order to conceal themselves behind it. But if she refuses
to tell a falsehood- as she will expose herself to the jests of the
whole courtas she will have annoyed the king by a confession as
ridiculous as it was immodest- Mademoiselle la Baume le Blanc de la
Valliere will think it but proper I should send her back again to her
pigeons in the countryin order thatin Touraine yonderor in Le
Blaisois- I know not where it may be- she may at her ease study
sentiment and pastoral life combined."

These words were uttered with a vehemence and harshness that terrified
Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente; and the consequence wasthatas far as
she was concernedshe promised to tell as many falsehoods as might be
necessary. It was in this frame of mind that Madame and her companion
reached the precincts of the royal oak.

Here we are,said Tonnay-Charente.

We shall soon learn if one can overhear,replied Madame.

Hush!whispered the young girlholding Madame back with a hurried
gestureentirely forgetful of her companion's rank. Madame stopped.


You see that you can hear,said Athenais.

How?

Listen.

Madame held her breath; andin factthe following words pronounced by a
gentle and melancholy voicefloated towards them:


I tell you, vicomte, I tell you I love her madly; I tell you I love her
to distraction.


Madame started at the voice; andbeneath her hooda bright joyous smile
illumined her features. It was she who now held back her companionand
with a light step leading her some twenty paces awaythat is to sayout
of the reach of the voiceshe saidRemain here, my dear Athenais, and
let no one surprise us. I think it must be you they are conversing
about.


Me, Madame?


Yes, you - or rather your adventure. I will go and listen; if we were
both there, we should be discovered. Or, stay! - go and fetch Montalais,
and then return and wait for me with her at the entrance of the forest.
And thenas Athenais hesitatedshe again said "Go!" in a voice which
did not admit of reply. Athenais thereupon arranged her dress so as to
prevent its rustling being heard; andby a path beyond the group of
treesshe regained the flower-garden. As for Madameshe concealed
herself in the thicketleaning her back against a gigantic chestnut-
treeone of the branches of which had been cut in such a manner as to
form a seatand waited therefull of anxiety and apprehension. "Now
she said, since one can hear from this placelet us listen to what M.
de Bragelonne and that other madly-in-love foolthe Comte de Guiche
have to say about me."


Chapter XLV:
In Which Madame Acquires a Proof that Listeners Hear What Is Said.


There was a moment's silenceas if the mysterious sounds of night were
hushed to listenat the same time as Madameto the youthful passionate
disclosures of De Guiche.


Raoul was about to speak. He leaned indolently against the trunk of the
large oakand replied in his sweet and musical voiceAlas, my dear De
Guiche, it is a great misfortune.


Yes,cried the lattergreat indeed.


You do not understand me, De Guiche. I say that it is a great
misfortune for you, not merely loving, but not knowing how to conceal
your love.


What do you mean?said De Guiche.


Yes, you do not perceive one thing; namely, that it is no longer to the
only friend you have, - in other words, - to a man who would rather die
than betray you; you do not perceive, I say, that it is no longer to your
only friend that you confide your passion, but to the first person that
approaches you.


Are you mad, Bragelonne,exclaimed De Guicheto say such a thing to
me?



The fact stands thus, however.

Impossible! How, in what manner can I have ever been indiscreet to such
an extent?

I mean, that your eyes, your looks, your sighs, proclaim, in spite of
yourself, that exaggerated feeling which leads and hurries a man beyond
his own control. In such a case he ceases to be master of himself; he is
a prey to a mad passion, that makes him confide his grief to the trees,
or to the air, from the very moment he has no longer any living being in
reach of his voice. Besides, remember this: it very rarely happens that
there is not always some one present to hear, especially the very things
which ought _not_ to be heard.De Guiche uttered a deep sigh. "Nay
continued Bragelonne, you distress me; since your return hereyou have
a thousand timesand in a thousand different waysconfessed your love
for her; and yethad you not said one wordyour return alone would have
been a terrible indiscretion. I persistthenin drawing this
conclusion; that if you do not place a better watch over yourself than
you have hitherto doneone day or other something will happen that will
cause an explosion. Who will save you then? Answer me. Who will save
her? forinnocent as she will be of your affectionyour affection will
be an accusation against her in the hands of her enemies."

Alas!murmured De Guiche; and a deep sigh accompanied the exclamation.

That is not answering me, De Guiche.

Yes, yes.

Well, what reply have you to make?

This, that when the day arrives I shall be no more a living being than I
feel myself now.

I do not understand you.

So many vicissitudes have worn me out. At present, I am no more a
thinking, acting being; at present, the most worthless of men is better
than I am; my remaining strength is exhausted, my latest-formed
resolutions have vanished, and I abandon myself to my fate. When a man
is out campaigning, as we have been together, and he sets off alone and
unaccompanied for a skirmish, it sometimes happens that he may meet with
a party of five or six foragers, and although alone, he defends himself;
afterwards, five or six others arrive unexpectedly, his anger is aroused
and he persists; but if six, eight, or ten others should still be met
with, he either sets spurs to his horse, if he should still happen to
retain one, or lets himself be slain to save an ignominious flight.
Such, indeed, is my own case: first, I had to struggle against myself;
afterwards, against Buckingham; now, since the king is in the field, I
will not contend against the king, nor even, I wish you to understand,
will the king retire; nor even against the nature of that woman. Still I
do not deceive myself; having devoted myself to the service of such a
love, I will lose my life in it.

It is not the lady you ought to reproach,replied Raoul; "it is
yourself."

Why so?

You know the princess's character, - somewhat giddy, easily captivated
by novelty, susceptible to flattery, whether it come from a blind person
or a child, and yet you allow your passion for her to eat your very life
away. Look at her, - love her, if you will, - for no one whose heart is
not engaged elsewhere can see her without loving her. Yet, while you


love her, respect, in the first place, her husband's rank, then herself,
and lastly, your own safety.

Thanks, Raoul.

What for?

Because, seeing how much I suffer through this woman, you endeavor to
console me, because you tell me all the good of her you think, and
perhaps even that which you do not think.

Oh,said Raoulthere you are wrong, comte; what I think I do not
always say, but in that case I say nothing; but when I speak, I know not
how to feign or to deceive; and whoever listens to me may believe me.

During this conversationMadameher head stretched forward with eager
ear and dilated glanceendeavoring to penetrate the obscuritythirstily
drank in the faintest sound of their voices.

Oh, I know her better than you do, then!exclaimed Guiche. "She is not
merely giddybut frivolous; she is not only attracted by noveltyshe is
utterly obliviousand is without faith; she is not simply susceptible to
flatteryshe is a practiced and cruel coquette. A thorough coquette!
yesyesI am sure of it. Believe meBragelonneI am suffering all
the torments of hell; bravepassionately fond of dangerI meet a danger
greater than my strength and my courage. Butbelieve meRaoulI
reserve for myself a victory which shall cost her floods of tears."

A victory,he askedand of what kind?

Of what kind, you ask?

Yes.

One day I will accost her, and will address her thus: 'I was young
madly in love, I possessed, however, sufficient respect to throw myself
at your feet, and to prostrate myself in the dust, if your looks had not
raised me to your hand. I fancied I understood your looks, I rose, and
then, without having done anything more towards you than love you yet
more devotedly, if that were possible - you, a woman without heart,
faith, or love, in very wantonness, dashed me down again from sheer
caprice. You are unworthy, princess of the royal blood though you may
be, of the love of a man of honor; I offer my life as a sacrifice for
having loved you too tenderly, and I die despairing you.'

Oh!cried Raoulterrified at the accents of profound truth which De
Guiche's words betrayedI was right in saying you were mad, Guiche.

Yes, yes,exclaimed De Guichefollowing out his own idea; "since there
are no wars here nowI will flee yonder to the northseek service in
the Empirewhere some Hungarianor Croator Turkwill perhaps kindly
put me out of my misery." De Guiche did not finishor rather as he
finisheda sound made him startand at the same moment caused Raoul to
leap to his feet. As for De Guicheburied in his own thoughtshe
remained seatedwith his head tightly pressed between his hands. The
branches of the tree were pushed asideand a womanpale and much
agitatedappeared before the two young men. With one hand she held back
the brancheswhich would have struck her faceandwith the othershe
raised the hood of the mantle which covered her shoulders. By her clear
and lustrous glanceby her lofty carriageby her haughty attitudeand
more than all thatby the throbbing of his own heartDe Guiche
recognized Madameanduttering a loud cryhe removed his hands from
his templeand covered his eyes with them. Raoultrembling and out of
countenancemerely muttered a few words of respect.


Monsieur de Bragelonne,said the princesshave the goodness, I beg,
to see if my attendants are not somewhere yonder, either in the walks or
in the groves; and you, M. de Guiche, remain here: I am tired, and you
will perhaps give me your arm.

Had a thunderbolt fallen at the feet of the unhappy young manhe would
have been less terrified than by her cold and severe tone. Howeveras
he himself had just saidhe was brave; and as in the depths of his own
heart he had just decisively made up his mindDe Guiche aroseand
observing Bragelonne's hesitationhe turned towards him a glance full of
resignation and grateful acknowledgement. Instead of immediately
answering Madamehe even advanced a step towards the vicomteand
holding out the arm which the princess had just desired him to give her
he pressed his friend's hand in his ownwith a sighin which he seemed
to give to friendship all the life that was left in the depths of his
heart. Madamewho in her pride had never known what it was to waitnow
waited until this mute colloquy was at an end. Her royal hand remained
suspended in the airandwhen Raoul had leftit sank without anger
but not without emotionin that of De Guiche. They were alone in the
depths of the dark and silent forestand nothing could be heard but
Raoul's hastily retreating footsteps along the obscure paths. Over their
heads was extended the thick and fragrant vault of branchesthrough the
occasional openings of which the stars could be seen glittering in their
beauty. Madame softly drew De Guiche about a hundred paces away from
that indiscreet tree which had heardand had allowed so many things to
be heardduring the eveningandleading him to a neighboring gladeso
that they could see a certain distance around themshe said in a
trembling voiceI have brought you here, because yonder where you were,
everything can be overheard.

Everything can be overheard, did you say, Madame?replied the young
manmechanically.

Yes.

Which means - murmured De Guiche.

Which means that I have heard every syllable you have said.

Oh, Heaven! this only was wanting to destroy me,stammered De Guiche;
and he bent down his headlike an exhausted swimmer beneath the wave
which engulfs him.

And so,she saidyou judge me as you have said?De Guiche grew
paleturned his head asideand was silent. He felt almost on the point
of fainting.

I do not complain,continued the princessin a tone of voice full of
gentleness; "I prefer a frankness that wounds meto flatterywhich
would deceive me. And soaccording to your opinionM. de GuicheI am
a coquettean a worthless creature."

Worthless,cried the young man; "you worthless! Ohno; most certainly
I did not sayI could not have saidthat that which was the most
precious object in life for me could be worthless. Nono; I did not say
that."

A woman who sees a man perish, consumed by the fire she has kindled, and
who does not allay that fire, is, in my opinion, a worthless woman.

What can it matter to you what I said?returned the comte. "What am I
compared to youand why should you even trouble yourself to know whether
I exist or not?"


Monsieur de Guiche, both you and I are human beings, and, knowing you as
I do, I do not wish you to risk your life; with you I will change my
conduct and character. I will be, not frank, for I am always so, but
truthful. I implore you, therefore, to love me no more, and to forget
utterly that I have ever addressed a word or a glance towards you.

De Guiche turned aroundbending a look full of passionate devotion upon
her. "You he said; _you_ excuse yourself; _you_ implore me?"

Certainly; since I have done evil, I ought to repair the evil I have
done. And so, comte, this is what we will agree to. You will forgive my
frivolity and my coquetry. Nay, do not interrupt me. I will forgive you
for having said I was frivolous and a coquette, or something worse,
perhaps; and you will renounce your idea of dying, and will preserve for
your family, for the king, and for our sex, a cavalier whom every one
esteems, and whom many hold dear.Madame pronounced this last word in
such an accent of franknessand even of tendernessthat poor De
Guiche's heart felt almost bursting.

Oh! Madame, Madame!he stammered out.

Nay, listen further,she continued. "When you shall have renounced all
thought of me foreverfrom necessity in the first placeandnext
because you will yield to my entreatythen you will judge me more
favorablyand I am convinced you will replace this love - forgive the
frivolity of the expression - by a sincere friendshipwhich you will be
ready to offer meand whichI promise youshall be cordially accepted."

De Guichehis forehead bedewed with perspirationa feeling of death in
his heartand a trembling agitation through his whole framebit his
lipstamped his foot on the groundandin a worddevoured the
bitterness of his grief. "Madame he said, what you offer is
impossibleand I cannot accept such conditions."

What!said Madamedo you refuse my friendship, then?

No, no! I do not need your friendship, Madame. I prefer to die from
love, than to live for friendship.

Comte!

Oh! Madame,cried De Guichethe present is a moment for me, in which
no other consideration and no other respect exist, than the consideration
and respect of a man of honor towards the woman he worships. Drive me
away, curse me, denounce me, you will be perfectly right. I have uttered
complaints against you, but their bitterness has been owing to my passion
for you; I have said I wish to die, and die I will. If I lived, you
would forget me; but dead, you would never forget me, I am sure.

Henriettawho was standing buried in thoughtand nearly as agitated as
De Guiche himselfturned aside her head as but a minute before he had
turned aside his. Thenafter a moment's pauseshe saidAnd you love
me, then, very much?

Madly; madly enough to die from it, whether you drive me from you, or
whether you listen to me still.

It is a hopeless case,she saidin a playful manner; "a case which
must be treated with soothing application. Give me your hand. It is as
cold as ice." De Guiche knelt downand pressed to his lipsnot one
but both of Madame's hands.

Love me, then,said the princesssince it cannot be otherwise.And


almost imperceptibly she pressed his fingersraising him thuspartly in
the manner of a queenand partly as a fond and affectionate woman would
have done. De Guiche trembled from head to footand Madamewho felt
how passion coursed through every fiber of his beingknew that he indeed
loved truly. "Give me your armcomte she said, and let us return."


Ah! Madame,said the comtetrembling and bewildered; "you have
discovered a third way of killing me."


But, happily, it is the slowest way, is it not?she repliedas she led
him towards the grove of trees they had so lately quitted.


Chapter XLVI:
Aramis's Correspondence.


When De Guiche's affairswhich had been suddenly set to right without
his having been able to guess the cause of their improvementassumed the
unexpected aspect we have seenRaoulin obedience to the request of the
princesshad withdrawn in order not to interrupt an explanationthe
results of which he was far from guessing; and he soon after joined the
ladies of honor who were walking about in the flower-gardens. During
this timethe Chevalier de Lorrainewho had returned to his own room
read De Wardes's latter with surprisefor it informed him by the hand of
his valetof the sword-thrust received at Calaisand of all the details
of the adventureand invited him to inform De Guiche and Monsieur
whatever there might be in the affair likely to be most disagreeable to
both of them. De Wardes particularly endeavored to prove to the chevalier
the violence of Madame's affection for Buckinghamand he finished his
letter by declaring that he thought this feeling was returned. The
chevalier shrugged his shoulders at the last paragraphandin factDe
Wardes was out of dateas we have seen. De Wardes was still only at
Buckingham's affair. The chevalier threw the letter over his shoulder
upon an adjoining tableand said in a disdainful toneIt is really
incredible; and yet poor De Wardes is not deficient in ability; but the
truth is, it is not very apparent, so easy is it to grow rusty in the
country. The deuce take the simpleton, who ought to have written to me
about matters of importance, and yet he writes such silly stuff as that.
If it had not been for that miserable letter, which has no meaning at all
in it, I should have detected in the grove yonder a charming little
intrigue, which would have compromised a woman, would have perhaps have
been as good as a sword-thrust for a man, and have diverted Monsieur for
many days to come.


He looked at his watch. "It is now too late he said. One o'clock in
the morning; every one must have returned to the king's apartmentswhere
the night is to be finished; wellthe scent is lostand unless some
extraordinary chance - " And thus sayingas if to appeal to his good
starthe chevaliergreatly out of temperapproached the windowwhich
looked out upon a somewhat solitary part of the garden. Immediatelyand
as if some evil genius was at his ordershe perceived returning towards
the chateauaccompanied by a mana silk mantle of a dark colorand
recognized the figure which had struck his attention half an hour
previously.


Admirable!he thoughtstriking his hands togetherthis is my
providential mysterious affair.And he started out precipitatelyalong
the staircasehoping to reach the courtyard in time to recognize the
woman in the mantleand her companion. But as he arrived at the door of
the little courthe nearly knocked against Madamewhose radiant face
seemed full of charming revelations beneath the mantle which protected
without concealing her. UnfortunatelyMadame was alone. The chevalier
knew that since he had seen hernot five minutes beforewith a
gentlemanthe gentleman in question could not be far off. Consequently



he hardly took time to salute the princess as he drew up to allow her to
pass; then when she had advanced a few stepswith the rapidity of a
woman who fears recognitionand when the chevalier perceived that she
was too much occupied with her own thoughts to trouble herself about him
he darted into the gardenlooked hastily round on every sideand
embraced within his glance as much of the horizon as he possibly could.
He was just in time; the gentleman who had accompanied Madame was still
in sight; only he was hurrying towards one of the wings of the chateau
behind which he was on the point of disappearing. There was not an
instant to lose; the chevalier darted in pursuit of himprepared to
slacken his pace as he approached the unknown; but in spite of the
diligence he usedthe unknown had disappeared behind the flight of steps
before he approached.

It was evidenthoweverthat as the man pursued was walking quietlyin
a pensive mannerwith his head bent downeither beneath the weight of
grief or happinesswhen once the angle was passedunlessindeedhe
were to enter by some door or anotherthe chevalier could not fail to
overtake him. And thiscertainlywould have happenedifat the very
moment he turned the anglethe chevalier had not run against two
personswho were themselves wheeling in the opposite direction. The
chevalier was ready to seek a quarrel with these two troublesome
intruderswhenlooking uphe recognized the superintendent. Fouquet
was accompanied by a person whom the chevalier now saw for the first
time. This stranger was the bishop of Vannes. Checked by the important
character of the individualand obliged out of politeness to make his
own excuses when he expected to receive themthe chevalier stepped back
a few paces; and as Monsieur Fouquet possessedif not the friendshipat
least the respect of every one; as the king himselfalthough he was
rather his enemy than his friendtreated M. Fouquet as a man of great
considerationthe chevalier did what the king himself would have done
namelyhe bowed to M. Fouquetwho returned his salutation with kindly
politenessperceiving that the gentleman had run against him by mistake
and without any intention of being rude. Thenalmost immediately
afterwardshaving recognized the Chevalier de Lorrainehe made a few
civil remarksto which the chevalier was obliged to reply. Brief as the
conversation wasDe Lorraine sawwith the most unfeigned displeasure
the figure of his unknown becoming dimmer in the distanceand fast
disappearing in the darkness. The chevalier resigned himselfandonce
resignedgave his entire attention to Fouquet: - "You arrive late
monsieur he said. Your absence has occasioned great surpriseand I
heard Monsieur express himself as much astonished thathaving been
invited by the kingyou had not come."

It was impossible for me to do so; but I came as soon as I was free.

Is Paris quiet?

Perfectly so. Paris has received the last tax very well.

Ah! I understand you wished to assure yourself of this good feeling
before you came to participate in our _fetes_.

I have arrivedhoweversomewhat late to enjoy them. I will ask you
thereforeto inform me if the king is in the chateau or notif I am
likely to be able to see him this eveningor if I shall have to wait
until to-morrow."

We have lost sight of his majesty during the last half-hour nearly,
said the chevalier.

Perhaps he is in Madame's apartments?inquired Fouquet.

Not in Madame's apartments, I should think, for I just now met Madame as


she was entering by the small staircase; and unless the gentleman whom
you a moment ago encountered was the king himself - and the chevalier
pausedhoping thatin this mannerhe might learn who it was he had
been hurrying after. But Fouquetwhether he had or had not recognized
De Guichesimply repliedNo, monsieur, it was not the king.

The chevalierdisappointed in his expectationsaluted them; but as he
did socasting a parting glance around himand perceiving M. Colbert in
the center of a grouphe said to the superintendent: "Staymonsieur;
there is some one under the trees yonderwho will be able to inform you
better than myself."

Who?asked Fouquetwhose near-sightedness prevented him from seeing
through the darkness.

M. Colbert,returned the chevalier.

Indeed! That person, then, who is speaking yonder to those men with
torches in their hands, is M. Colbert?

M. Colbert himself. He is giving orders personally to the workmen who
are arranging the lamps for the illuminations.

Thank you,said Fouquetwith an inclination of the headwhich
indicated that he had obtained all the information he wished. The
chevalieron his sidehavingon the contrarylearned nothing at all
withdrew with a profound salutation.

He had scarcely left when Fouquetknitting his browsfell into a deep
reverie. Aramis looked at him for a moment with a mingled feeling of
compassion and silence.

What!he said to himthe fellow's name alone seemed to affect you.
Is it possible that, full of triumph and delight as you were just now,
the sight merely of that man is capable of dispiriting you? Tell me,
have you faith in your good star?

No,replied Fouquetdejectedly.

Why not?

Because I am too full of happiness at this present moment,he replied
in a trembling voice. "Youmy dear D'Herblaywho are so learnedwill
remember the history of a certain tyrant of Samos. What can I throw into
the sea to avert approaching evil? Yes! I repeat it once moreI am too
full of happiness! so happy that I wish for nothing beyond what I
have... I have risen so high... You know my motto: '_Quo non
ascendam?_' I have risen so high that nothing is left me but to descend
from my elevation. I cannot believe in the progress of a success already
more than human."

Aramis smiled as he fixed his kind and penetrating glance upon him. "If
I were aware of the cause of your happiness he said, I should probably
fear for your grace; but you regard me in the light of a true friend; I
meanyou turn to me in misfortunenothing more. Even that is an
immense and precious boonI know; but the truth isI have a just right
to beg you to confide in mefrom time to timeany fortunate
circumstances that befall youin which I should rejoiceyou knowmore
than if they had befallen myself."

My dear prelate,said Fouquetlaughingmy secrets are of too profane
a character to confide them to a bishop, however great a worldling he may
be.


Bah! in confession.

Oh! I should blush too much if you were my confessor.And Fouquet
began to sigh. Aramis again looked at him without further betrayal of
his thoughts than a placid smile.

Well,he saiddiscretion is a great virtue.

Silence,said Fouquet; "yonder venomous reptile has recognized usand
is crawling this way."

Colbert?

Yes; leave me, D'Herblay; I do not wish that fellow to see you with me,
or he will take an aversion to _you_.

Aramis pressed his handsayingWhat need have I of his friendship,
while you are here?

Yes, but I may not always be here,replied Fouquetdejectedly.

On that day, then, if that day should ever dawn,said Aramis
tranquillywe will think over a means of dispensing with the
friendship, or of braving the dislike of M. Colbert. But tell me, my
dear Fouquet, instead of conversing with this reptile, as you did him the
honor of styling him, a conversation the need for which I do not
perceive, why do you not pay a visit, if not to the king, at least to
Madame?

To Madame,said the superintendenthis mind occupied by his
_souvenirs_. "Yescertainlyto Madame. "

You remember,continued Aramisthat we have been told that Madame
stands high in favor during the last two or three days. It enters into
your policy, and forms part of our plans, that you should assiduously
devote yourself to his majesty's friends. It is a means of counteracting
the growing influence of M. Colbert. Present yourself, therefore, as
soon as possible to Madame, and, for our sakes, treat this ally with
consideration.

But,said Fouquetare you quite sure that it is upon her that the
king has his eyes fixed at the present moment?

If the needle has turned, it must be since the morning. You know I have
my police.

Very well! I will go there at once, and, at all events, I shall have a
means of introduction in the shape of a magnificent pair of antique
cameos set with diamonds.

I have seen them, and nothing could be more costly and regal.

At this moment they were interrupted by a servant followed by a courier.
For you, monseigneur,said the courier aloudpresenting a letter to
Fouquet.

For your grace,said the lackey in a low tonehanding Aramis a
letter. And as the lackey carried a torch in his handhe placed himself
between the superintendent and the bishop of Vannesso that both of them
could read at the same time. As Fouquet looked at the fine and delicate
writing on the envelopehe started with delight. Those who loveor who
are belovedwill understand his anxiety in the first placeand his
happiness in the next. He hastily tore open the letterwhichhowever
contained only these words: "It is but an hour since I quitted youit is


an age since I told you how much I love you." And that was all. Madame
de Belliere hadin factleft Fouquet about an hour previouslyafter
having passed two days with him; and apprehensive lest his remembrance of
her might be effaced for too long a period from the heart she regretted
she dispatched a courier to him as the bearer of this important
communication. Fouquet kissed the letterand rewarded the bearer with a
handful of gold. As for Aramisheon his sidewas engaged in reading
but with more coolness and reflectionthe following letter:

The king has this evening been struck with a strange fancy; a woman
loves him. He learned it accidentally, as he was listening to the
conversation of this young girl with her companions; and his majesty has
entirely abandoned himself to his new caprice. The girl's name is
Mademoiselle de la Valliere, and she is sufficiently pretty to warrant
this caprice becoming a strong attachment. Beware of Mademoiselle de la
Valliere.

There was not a word about Madame. Aramis slowly folded the letter and
put it in his pocket. Fouquet was still delightedly inhaling the perfume
of his epistle.

Monseigneur,said Aramistouching Fouquet's arm.

Yes, what is it?he asked.

An idea has just occurred to me. Are you acquainted with a young girl
of the name of La Valliere?

Not at all."

Reflect a little.

Ah! yes, I believe so; one of Madame's maids of honor.

That must be the one.

Well, what then?

Well, monseigneur, it is to that young girl that you must pay your visit
this evening.

Bah! why so?

Nay, more than that, it is to her you must present your cameos.

Nonsense.

You know, monseigneur, that my advice is not to be regarded lightly.

But this is unforeseen -

That is my affair. Pay your court in due form, and without loss of
time, to Mademoiselle de la Valliere. I will be your guarantee with
Madame de Belliere that your devotion is altogether politic.

What do you mean, my dear D'Herblay, and whose name have you just
pronounced?

A name which ought to convince you that, as I am so well informed about
yourself, I may possibly be just as well informed about others. Pay your
court, therefore, to La Valliere.

I will pay my court to whomsoever you like,replied Fouquethis heart
filled with happiness.


Come, come, descend again to the earth, traveler in the seventh heaven,
said Aramis; "M. Colbert is approaching. He has been recruiting while we
were reading; seehow he is surroundedpraisedcongratulated; he is
decidedly becoming powerful." In factColbert was advancingescorted
by all the courtiers who remained in the gardensevery one of whom
complimented him upon the arrangements of the _fete_: all of which so
puffed him up that he could hardly contain himself.

If La Fontaine were here,said Fouquetsmilingwhat an admirable
opportunity for him to recite his fable of 'The Frog that wanted to make
itself as big as the Ox.'

Colbert arrived in the center of the circle blazing with light; Fouquet
awaited his approachunmoved and with a slightly mocking smile. Colbert
smiled too; he had been observing his enemy during the last quarter of an
hourand had been approaching him gradually. Colbert's smile was a
presage of hostility.

Oh, oh!said Aramisin a low tone of voice to the superintendent; "the
scoundrel is going to ask you again for more millions to pay for his
fireworks and his colored lamps." Colbert was the first to salute them
and with an air which he endeavored to render respectful. Fouquet hardly
moved his head.

Well, monseigneur, what do your eyes say? Have we shown our good taste?

Perfect taste,replied Fouquetwithout permitting the slightest tone
of raillery to be remarked in his words.

Oh!said Colbertmaliciouslyyou are treating us with indulgence.
We are poor, we servants of the king, and Fontainebleau is no way to be
compared as a residence with Vaux.

Quite true,replied Fouquet coolly.

But what can we do, monseigneur?continued Colbertwe have done our
best on slender resources.

Fouquet made a gesture of assent.

But,pursued Colbertit would be only a proper display of your
magnificence, monseigneur, if you were to offer to his majesty a _fete_
in your wonderful gardens - in those gardens which have cost you sixty
millions of francs.

Seventy-two,said Fouquet.

An additional reason,returned Colbert; "it wouldindeedbe truly
magnificent."

But do you suppose, monsieur, that his majesty would deign to accept my
invitation?

I have no doubt whatever of it,cried Colberthastily; "I will
guarantee that he does."

You are exceedingly kind,said Fouquet. "I may depend on itthen?"

Yes, monseigneur; yes, certainly.

Then I will consider the matter,yawned Fouquet.

Accept, accept,whispered Aramiseagerly.


You will consider?repeated Colbert.

Yes,replied Fouquet; "in order to know what day I shall submit my
invitation to the king."

This very evening, monseigneur, this very evening.

Agreed,said the superintendent. "GentlemenI should wish to issue my
invitations; but you know that wherever the king goesthe king is in his
own palace; it is by his majestythereforethat you must be invited."
A murmur of delight immediately arose. Fouquet bowed and left.

Proud and dauntless man,thought Colbertyou accept, and yet you know
it will cost you ten millions.

You have ruined me,whispered Fouquetin a low toneto Aramis.

I have saved you,replied the latterwhilst Fouquet ascended the
flight of steps and inquired whether the king was still visible.

Chapter XLVII:
The Orderly Clerk.

The kinganxious to be again quite alonein order to reflect well upon
what was passing in his hearthad withdrawn to his own apartmentswhere

M. de Saint-Aignan hadafter his conversation with Madamegone to meet
him. This conversation has already been related. The favoritevain of
his twofold importanceand feeling that he had becomeduring the last
two hoursthe confidant of the kingbegan to treat the affairs of the
court in a somewhat indifferent manner: andfrom the position in which
he had placed himselfor ratherwhere chance had placed himhe saw
nothing but love and garlands of flowers around him. The king's love for
Madamethat of Madame for the kingthat of Guiche for Madamethat of
La Valliere for the kingthat of Malicorne for Montalaisthat of
Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente for himselfwas not all thistruly
more than enough to turn the head of any courtier? BesidesSaint-Aignan
was the model of courtierspastpresentand to come; andmoreover
showed himself such an excellent narratorand so discerningly
appreciative that the king listened to him with an appearance of great
interestparticularly when he described the excited manner with which
Madame had sought for him to converse about the affair of Mademoiselle de
la Valliere. While the king no longer experienced for Madame any remains
of the passion he had once felt for herthere wasin this same
eagerness of Madame to procure information about himgreat gratification
for his vanityfrom which he could not free himself. He experienced
this pleasure thenbut nothing moreand his heart was notfor a single
momentalarmed at what Madame mightor might notthink of his
adventure. WhenhoweverSaint-Aignan had finishedthe kingwhile
preparing to retire to restaskedNow, Saint-Aignan, you know what
Mademoiselle de la Valliere is, do you not?
Not only what she is, but what she will be.

What do you mean?

I mean that she is everything that woman can wish to be - that is to
say, beloved by your majesty; I mean, that she will be everything your
majesty may wish her to be.

That is not what I am asking. I do not wish to know what she is to-day,
or what she will be to-morrow; as you have remarked, that is my affair.
But tell me what others say of her.


They say she is well conducted.
Oh!said the kingsmilingthat is mere report.
But rare enough, at court, sire, to believe when it is spread.
Perhaps you are right. Is she well born?
Excellently; the daughter of the Marquis de la Valliere, and step-


daughter of that good M. de Saint-Remy.
Ah, yes! my aunt's major-domo; I remember; and I remember now that I saw
her as I passed through Blois. She was presented to the queens. I have


even to reproach myself that I did not on that occasion pay her the
attention she deserved.
Oh, sire! I trust that your majesty will now repair time lost.
And the report - you tell me - is, that Mademoiselle de la Valliere


never had a lover.


In any case, I do not think your majesty would be much alarmed at the
rivalry.
Yet, stay,said the kingin a very serious tone of voice.
Your majesty?
I remember.
Ah!
If she has no lover, she has, at least, a betrothed.
A betrothed!
What! Count, do you not know that?
No.
You, the man who knows all the news?
Your majesty will excuse me. You know this betrothed, then?
Assuredly! his father came to ask me to sign the marriage contract: it


is - The king was about to pronounce the Vicomte de Bragelonne's name
when he stoppedand knitted his brows.

It is - repeated Saint-Aignaninquiringly.
I don't remember now,replied Louis XIV.endeavoring to conceal an
annoyance he had some trouble to disguise.


Can I put your majesty in the way?inquired the Comte de Saint-Aignan.
No; for I no longer remember to whom I intended to refer; indeed, I only

remember very indistinctly, that one of the maids of honor was to marry
the name, however, has escaped me.
Was it Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente he was going to marry?inquired


Saint-Aignan.
Very likely,said the king.



In that case, the intended was M. de Montespan; but Mademoiselle de
Tonnay-Charente did not speak of it, it seemed to me, in such a manner as
would frighten suitors away.

At all events,said the kingI know nothing, or almost nothing, about
Mademoiselle de la Valliere. Saint-Aignan, I rely upon you to procure me
every information about her.

Yes, sire, and when shall I have the honor of seeing your majesty again,
to give you the latest news?

Whenever you have procured it.

I shall obtain it speedily, then, if the information can be as quickly
obtained as my wish to see your majesty again.

Well said, count! By the by, has Madame displayed any ill-feeling
against this poor girl?

None, sire.

Madame did not get angry, then?

I do not know; I only know that she laughed continually.

That's well; but I think I hear voices in the ante-rooms - no doubt a
courier has just arrived. Inquire, Saint-Aignan.The count ran to the
door and exchanged a few words with the usher; he returned to the king
sayingSire, it is M. Fouquet who has this moment arrived, by your
majesty's orders, he says. He presented himself, but, because of the
lateness of the hour, he does not press for an audience this evening, and
is satisfied to have his presence here formally announced.

M. Fouquet! I wrote to him at three o'clock, inviting him to be at
Fontainebleau the following day, and he arrives at Fontainebleau at two
o'clock in the morning! This is, indeed, zeal!exclaimed the king
delighted to see himself so promptly obeyed. "On the contraryM.
Fouquet shall have his audience. I summoned himand will receive him.
Let him be introduced. As for youcountpursue your inquiriesand be
here to-morrow."

The king placed his finger on his lips; and Saint-Aignanhis heart
brimful of happinesshastily withdrewtelling the usher to introduce M.
Fouquetwhothereuponentered the king's apartment. Louis rose to
receive him.

Good evening, M. Fouquet,he saidsmiling graciously; "I congratulate
you on your punctuality; and yet my message must have reached you late?"

At nine in the evening, sire.

You have been working very hard lately, M. Fouquet, for I have been
informed that you have not left your rooms at Saint-Mande during the last
three or four days.

It is perfectly true, your majesty, that I have kept myself shut up for
the past three days,replied Fouquet.

Do you know, M. Fouquet, that I had a great many things to say to you?
continued the kingwith a most gracious air.

Your majesty overwhelms me, and since you are so graciously disposed
towards me, will you permit me to remind you of the promise made to grant


an audience?

Ah, yes! some church dignitary, who thinks he has to thank me for
something, is it not?

Precisely so, sire. The hour is, perhaps, badly chosen; but the time of
the companion whom I have brought with me is valuable, and as
Fontainebleau is on the way to his diocese -

Who is it, then?

The bishop of Vannes, whose appointment your majesty, at my
recommendation, deigned, three months since, to sign.

That is very possible,said the kingwho had signed without reading;
and he is here?

Yes, sire; Vannes is an important diocese; the flock belonging to this
pastor needed his religious consolation; they are savages, whom it is
necessary to polish, at the same time that he instructs them, and M.
d'Herblay is unequalled in such kind of missions.

M. d'Herblay!said the kingmusinglyas if his nameheard long
sincewas nothoweverunknown to him.

Oh!said Fouquetpromptlyyour majesty is not acquainted with the
obscure name of one of your most faithful and valuable servants?

No, I confess I am not. And so he wishes to set off again?

He has this very day received letters which will, perhaps, compel him to
leave, so that, before setting off for that unknown region called
Bretagne, he is desirous of paying his respects to your majesty.

Is he waiting?

He is here, sire.

Let him enter.

Fouquet made a sign to the usher in attendancewho was waiting behind
the tapestry. The door openedand Aramis entered. The king allowed him
to finish the compliments which he addressed to himand fixed a long
look upon a countenance which no one could forgetafter having once
beheld it.

Vannes!he said: "you are bishop of VannesI believe?"

Yes, sire.

Vannes is in Bretagne, I think?Aramis bowed.

Near the coast?Aramis again bowed.

A few leagues from Bell-Isle, is it not?

Yes, sire,replied Aramis; "six leaguesI believe."

Six leagues; a mere step, then,said Louis XIV.

Not for us poor Bretons, sire,replied Aramis: "six leagueson the
contraryis a great distanceif it be six leagues on land; and an
immense distanceif it be leagues on the sea. BesidesI have the honor
to mention to your majesty that there are six leagues of sea from the


river to Belle-Isle."

It is said that M. Fouquet has a very beautiful house there?inquired
the king.

Yes, it is said so,replied Aramislooking quietly at Fouquet.

What do you mean by 'it is said so?'exclaimed the king.

He has, sire.

Really, M. Fouquet, I must confess that one circumstance surprises me.

What may that be, sire?

That you should have at the head of the diocese a man like M. d'Herblay,
and yet should not have shown him Belle-Isle.

Oh, sire,replied the bishopwithout giving Fouquet time to answer
we poor Breton prelates seldom leave our residences.

M. de Vannes,said the kingI will punish M. Fouquet for his
indifference.

In what way, sire?

I will change your bishopric.

Fouquet bit his lipsbut Aramis only smiled.

What income does Vannes bring you in?continued the king.

Sixty thousand livres, sire,said Aramis.

So trifling an amount as that; but you possess other property, Monsieur
de Vannes?

I have nothing else, sire; only M. Fouquet pays me one thousand two
hundred livres a year for his pew in the church.

Well, M. d'Herblay, I promise you something better than that.

Sire -

I will not forget you.

Aramis bowedand the king also bowed to him in a respectful manneras
he was accustomed to do towards women and members of the Church. Aramis
gathered that his audience was at an end; he took his leave of the king
in the simpleunpretending language of a country pastorand disappeared.

He is, indeed, a remarkable face,said the kingfollowing him with his
eyes as long as he could see himand even to a certain degree when he
was no longer to be seen.

Sire,replied Fouquetif that bishop had been educated early in life,
no prelate in the kingdom would deserve the highest distinctions better
than he.

His learning is not extensive, then?

He changed the sword for the crucifix, and that rather late in life.
But it matters little, if your majesty will permit me to speak of M. de
Vannes again on another occasion -


I beg you to do so. But before speaking of him, let us speak of
yourself, M. Fouquet.
Of me, sire?


Yes, I have to pay you a thousand compliments.
I cannot express to your majesty the delight with which you overwhelm
me.


I understand you, M. Fouquet. I confess, however, to have had certain
prejudices against you.
In that case, I was indeed unhappy, sire.


But they exist no longer. Did you not perceive -
I did, indeed, sire; but I awaited with resignation the day when the
truth would prevail; and it seems that that day has now arrived.


Ah! you knew, then, you were in disgrace with me?
Alas! sire, I perceived it.
And do you know the reason?
Perfectly well; your majesty thought that I had been wastefully lavish


in expenditure.
Not so; far from that.
Or, rather an indifferent administrator. In a word, you thought that,


as the people had no money, there would be none for your majesty either.
Yes, I thought so; but I was deceived.
Fouquet bowed.
And no disturbances, no complaints?
And money enough,said Fouquet.
The fact is that you have been profuse with it during the last month.
I have more, not only for all your majesty's requirements, but for all


your caprices.
I thank you, Monsieur Fouquet,replied the kingseriously. "I will


not put you to the proof. For the next two months I do not intend to ask
you for anything."
I will avail myself of the interval to amass five or six millions, which

will be serviceable as money in hand in case of war.
Five or six millions!
For the expenses of your majesty's household only, be it understood.
You think war probable, M. Fouquet?
I think that if Heaven has bestowed on the eagle a beak and claws, it is


to enable him to show his royal character.



The king blushed with pleasure.

We have spent a great deal of money these few days past, Monsieur
Fouquet; will you not scold me for it?

Sire, your majesty has still twenty years of youth to enjoy, and a
thousand million francs to lavish in those twenty years.

That is a great deal of money, M. Fouquet,said the king.

I will economize, sire. Besides, your majesty as two valuable servants
in M. Colbert and myself. The one will encourage you to be prodigal with
your treasures - and this shall be myself, if my services should continue
to be agreeable to your majesty; and the other will economize money for
you, and this will be M. Colbert's province.

M. Colbert?returned the kingastonished.

Certainly, sire; M. Colbert is an excellent accountant.

At this commendationbestowed by the traduced on the traducerthe king
felt himself penetrated with confidence and admiration. There was not
moreovereither in Fouquet's voice or lookanything which injuriously
affected a single syllable of the remark he had made; he did not pass one
eulogiumas it werein order to acquire the right of making two
reproaches. The king comprehended himand yielding to so much
generosity and addresshe saidYou praise M. Colbert, then?

Yes, sire, I praise him; for, besides being a man of merit, I believe
him to be devoted to your majesty's interests.

Is that because he has often interfered with your own views?said the
kingsmiling.

Exactly, sire.

Explain yourself.

It is simple enough. I am the man who is needed to make the money come
in; he is the man who is needed to prevent it leaving.

Nay, nay, monsieur le surintendant, you will presently say something
which will correct this good opinion.

Do you mean as far as administrative abilities are concerned, sire?

Yes.

Not in the slightest.

Really?

Upon my honor, sire, I do not know throughout France a better clerk than

M. Colbert.
This word "clerk" did not possessin 1661the somewhat subservient
signification attached to it in the present day; butas spoken by
Fouquetwhom the king had addressed as the superintendentit seemed to
acquire an insignificant and petty characterthat at this juncture
served admirably to restore Fouquet to his placeand Colbert to his own.

And yet,said Louis XIV.it was Colbert, however, that,
notwithstanding his economy, had the arrangement of my _fetes_ here at
Fontainebleau; and I assure you, Monsieur Fouquet, that in now way has he


checked the expenditure of money.Fouquet bowedbut did not reply.

Is it not your opinion too?said the king.

I think, sire,he repliedthat M. Colbert has done what he had to do
in an exceedingly orderly manner, and that he deserves, in this respect,
all the praise your majesty may bestow upon him.


The word "orderly" was a proper accompaniment for the word "clerk." The
king possessed that extreme sensitiveness of organizationthat delicacy
of perceptionwhich pierced through and detected the regular order of
feelings and sensationsbefore the actual sensations themselvesand he
therefore comprehended that the clerk hadin Fouquet's opinionbeen too
full of method and order in his arrangements; in other wordsthat the
magnificent _fetes_ of Fontainebleau might have been rendered more
magnificent still. The king consequently felt that there was something
in the amusements he had provided with which some person or another might
be able to find fault; he experienced a little of the annoyance felt by a
person coming from the provinces to Parisdressed out in the very best
clothes which his wardrobe can furnishonly to find that the fashionably
dressed man there looks at him either too much or not enough. This part
of the conversationwhich Fouquet had carried on with so much
moderationyet with extreme tactinspired the king with the highest
esteem for the character of the man and the capacity of the minister.
Fouquet took his leave at a quarter to three in the morningand the king
went to bed a little uneasy and confused at the indirect lesson he had
received; and a good hour was employed by him in going over again in
memory the embroideriesthe tapestriesthe bills of fare of the various
banquetsthe architecture of the triumphal archesthe arrangements for
the illuminations and fireworksall the offspring of the "Clerk
Colbert's" invention. The result wasthe king passed in review before
him everything that had taken place during the last eight daysand
decided that faults could be found in his _fetes_. But Fouquetby his
politenesshis thoughtful considerationand his generosityhad injured
Colbert more deeply than the latterby his artificehis ill-willand
his persevering hatredhad ever yet succeeded in hurting Fouquet.


Chapter XLVIII:
Fontainebleau at Two o'Clock in the Morning.


As we have seenSaint-Aignan had quitted the king's apartment at the
very moment the superintendent entered it. Saint-Aignan was charged with
a mission that required dispatchand he was going to do his utmost to
turn his time to the best advantage. He whom we have introduced as the
king's friend was indeed an uncommon personage; he was one of those
valuable courtiers whose vigilance and acuteness of perception threw all
other favorites into the shadeand counterbalancedby his close
attentionthe servility of Dangeauwho was not the favoritebut the
toady of the king. M. de Saint-Aignan began to think what was to be done
in the present position of affairs. He reflected that his first
information ought to come from De Guiche. He therefore set out in search
of himbut De Guichewhom we saw disappear behind one of the wingsand
who seemed to have returned to his own apartmentshad not entered the
chateau. Saint-Aignan therefore went in quest of himand after having
turnedand twistedand searched in every directionhe perceived
something like a human form leaning against a tree. This figure was as
motionless as a statueand seemed deeply engaged in looking at a window
although its curtains were closely drawn. As this window happened to be
Madame'sSaint-Aignan concluded that the form in question must be that
of De Guiche. He advanced cautiouslyand found he was not mistaken. De
Guiche hadafter his conversation with Madamecarried away such a
weight of happinessthat all of his strength of mind was hardly
sufficient to enable him to support it. On his sideSaint-Aignan knew



that De Guiche had had something to do with La Valliere's introduction to
Madame's householdfor a courtier knows everything and forgets nothing;
but he had never learned under what title or conditions De Guiche had
conferred his protection upon La Valliere. Butas in asking a great
many questions it is singular if a man does not learn somethingSaint-
Aignan reckoned upon learning much or littleas the case might beif he
questioned De Guiche with that extreme tactandat the same timewith
that persistence in attaining an objectof which he was capable. Saint-
Aignan's plan was as follows: If the information obtained was
satisfactoryhe would inform the kingwith alacritythat he had
lighted upon a pearland claim the privilege of setting the pearl in
question in the royal crown. If the information were unsatisfactory-
whichafter allmight be possible- he would examine how far the king
cared about La Valliereand make use of his information in such a manner
as to get rid of the girl altogetherand thereby obtain all the merit of
her banishment with all the ladies of the court who might have the least
pretensions to the king's heartbeginning with Madame and finishing with
the queen. In case the king should show himself obstinate in his fancy
then he would not produce the damaging information he had obtainedbut
would let La Valliere know that this damaging information was carefully
preserved in a secret drawer of her confidant's memory. In this manner
he would be able to air his generosity before the poor girl's eyesand
so keep her in constant suspense between gratitude and apprehensionto
such an extent as to make her a friend at courtinterestedas an
accomplicein trying to make his fortunewhile she was making her own.
As far as concerned the day when the bombshell of the past should burst
if ever there were any occasionSaint-Aignan promised himself that he
would by that time have taken all possible precautionsand would pretend
an entire ignorance of the matter to the king; whilewith regard to La
Vallierehe would still have an opportunity of being considered the
personification of generosity. It was with such ideas as thesewhich
the fire of covetousness had caused to dawn in half an hourthat Saint-
Aignanthe son of earthas La Fontaine would have saiddetermined to
get De Guiche into conversation: in other wordsto trouble him in his
happiness - a happiness of which Saint-Aignan was quite ignorant. It was
long past one o'clock in the morning when Saint-Aignan perceived De
Guichestandingmotionlessleaning against the trunk of a treewith
his eyes fastened upon the lighted window- the sleepiest hour of night-
timewhich painters crown with myrtles and budding poppiesthe hour
when eyes are heavyhearts throband heads feel dull and languid - an
hour which casts upon the day which has passed away a look of regret
while addressing a loving greeting to the dawning light. For De Guiche
it was the dawn of unutterable happiness; he would have bestowed a
treasure upon a beggarhad one stood before himto secure him
uninterrupted indulgence in his dreams. It was precisely at this hour
that Saint-Aignanbadly advised- selfishness always counsels badly-
came and struck him on the shoulderat the very moment he was murmuring
a wordor rather a name.

Ah!he cried loudlyI was looking for you.

For me?said De Guichestarting.

Yes; and I find you seemingly moon-struck. Is it likely, my dear comte,
you have been attacked by a poetical malady, and are making verses?

The young man forced a smile upon his lipswhile a thousand conflicting
sensations were muttering defiance of Saint-Aignan in the deep recesses
of his heart. "Perhaps he said. But by what happy chance - "

Ah! your remark shows that you did not hear what I said.

How so?


Why, I began by telling you I was looking for you.

You were looking for me?

Yes: and I find you now in the very act.

Of doing what, I should like to know?

Of singing the praises of Phyllis.

Well, I do not deny it,said De Guichelaughing. "Yesmy dear comte
I was celebrating Phyllis's praises."

And you have acquired the right to do so.

I?

You; no doubt of it. You; the intrepid protector of every beautiful and clever
woman.

In the name of goodness, what story have you got hold of now?

Acknowledged truths, I am well aware. But stay a moment; I am in love.

You?

Yes.

So much the better, my dear comte; tell me all about it.And De
Guicheafraid that Saint-Aignan might perhaps presently observe the
windowwhere the light was still burningtook the comte's arm and
endeavored to lead him away.

Oh!said the latterresistingdo not take me towards those dark
woods, it is too damp there. Let us stay in the moonlight.And while
he yielded to the pressure of De Guiche's armhe remained in the flowergarden
adjoining the chateau.

Well,said De Guicheresigning himselflead me where you like, and
ask me what you please.

It is impossible to be more agreeable than you are.And thenafter a
moment's silenceSaint-Aignan continuedI wish you to tell me
something about a certain person in who you have interested yourself.

And with whom you are in love?

I will neither admit nor deny it. You understand that a man does not
very readily place his heart where there is no hope of return, and that
it is most essential he should take measures of security in advance.

You are right,said De Guiche with a sigh; "a man's heart is a very
precious gift."

Mine particularly is very tender, and in that light I present it to you.

Oh! you are well known, comte. Well?

It is simply a question of Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente.

Why, my dear Saint-Aignan, you are losing your senses, I should think.

Why so?


I have never shown or taken any interest in Mademoiselle de Tonnay-
Charente.

Bah!

Never.

Did you not obtain admission for Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente into
Madame's household?

Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente - and you ought to know it better than
any one else, my dear comte - is of a sufficiently good family to make
her presence here desirable, and her admittance very easy.

You are jesting.

No; and upon my honor I do not know what you mean.

And you had nothing, then, to do with her admission?

No.

You do not know her?

I saw her for the first time the day she was presented to Madame.
Therefore, as I have never taken any interest in her, as I do not know
her, I am not able to give you the information you require.And De
Guiche made a movement as though he were about to leave his questioner.

Nay, nay, one moment, my dear comte,said Saint-Aignan; "you shall not
escape me in this manner."

Why, really, it seems to me that it is now time to return to our
apartments.

And yet you were not going in when I - did not meet, but found you.

Therefore, my dear comte,said De Guicheas long as you have anything
to say to me, I place myself entirely at your service.

And you are quite right in doing so. What matters half an hour more or
less? Will you swear that you have no injurious communications to make
to me about her, and that any injurious communications you might possibly
have to make are not the cause of your silence?

Oh! I believe the poor child to be as pure as crystal.

You overwhelm me with joy. And yet I do not wish to have towards you
the appearance of a man so badly informed as I seem. It is quite certain
that you supplied the princess's household with the ladies of honor.
Nay, a song has even been written about it.

Oh! songs are written about everything.

Do you know it?

No: sing it to me and I shall make its acquaintance.

I cannot tell you how it begins; I only remember how it ends.

Very well, at all events, that is something.

When Maids of Honor happen to run short,
Lo! - Guiche will furnish the entire Court.


The idea is weak, and the rhyme poor,said De Guiche.

What can you expect, my dear fellow? it is not Racine's or Moliere's,
but La Feuillade's; and a great lord cannot rhyme like a beggarly poet.

It is very unfortunate, though, that you only remember the termination.

Stay, stay, I have just recollected the beginning of the second couplet.

Why, there's the birdcage, with a pretty pair,
The charming Montalais, and...

And La Valliere,exclaimed Guicheimpatientlyand completely ignorant
besides of Saint-Aignan's object.

Yes, yes, you have it. You have hit upon the word, 'La Valliere.'

A grand discovery indeed.

Montalais and La Valliere, these, then, are the two young girls in whom
you interest yourself,said Saint-Aignanlaughing.

And so Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente's name is not to be met with in
the song?

No, indeed.

And are you satisfied, then?

Perfectly; but I find Montalais there,said Saint-Aignanstill
laughing.

Oh! you will find her everywhere. She is a singularly active young
lady.

You know her?

Indirectly. She was the _protegee_ of a man named Malicorne, who is a
_protegee_ of Manicamp's; Manicamp asked me to get the situation of maid
of honor for Montalais in Madame's household, and a situation for
Malicorne as an officer in Monsieur's household. Well, I asked for the
appointments, for you know very well that I have a weakness for that
droll fellow Manicamp.

And you obtained what you sought?

For Montalais, yes; for Malicorne, yes and no; for as yet he is only on
trial. Do you wish to know anything else?

The last word of the couplet still remains, La Valliere,said Saint-
Aignanresuming the smile that so tormented Guiche.

Well,said the latterit is true that I obtained admission for her
in Madame's household.

Ah!said Saint-Aignan.

But,continued Guicheassuming a great coldness of manneryou will
oblige me, comte, not to jest about that name. Mademoiselle la Baume le
Blanc de la Valliere is a young lady perfectly well-conducted.

Perfectly well-conducted do you say?


Yes.

Then you have not heard the last rumor?exclaimed Saint-Aignan.

No, and you will do me a service, my dear comte, in keeping this report
to yourself and to those who circulate it.

Ah! bah! you take the matter up very seriously.

Yes; Mademoiselle de Valliere is beloved by one of my best friends.

Saint-Aignan started. "Aha!" he said.

Yes, comte,continued Guiche; "and consequentlyyouthe most
distinguished man in France for polished courtesy of mannerwill
understand that I cannot allow my friend to be placed in a ridiculous
position."

Saint-Aignan began to bite his nailspartially from vexationand
partially from disappointed curiosity. Guiche made him a very profound
bow.

You send me away,said Saint-Aignanwho was dying to know the name of
the friend.

I do not send you away, my dear fellow. I am going to finish my lines
to Phyllis.

And those lines -

Are a _quatrain_. You understand, I trust, that a _quatrain_ is a
serious affair?

Of course.

And as, of these four lines, of which it is composed, I have yet three
and a half to make, I need my undivided attention.

I quite understand. Adieu! comte. By the by -

What?

Are you quick at making verses?

Wonderfully so.

Will you have quite finished the three lines and a half to-morrow
morning?

I _hope_ so.

Adieu, then, until to-morrow.

Adieu, adieu!

Saint-Aignan was obliged to accept the notice to quit; he accordingly did
soand disappeared behind the hedge. Their conversation had led Guiche
and Saint-Aignan a good distance from the chateau.

Every mathematicianevery poetand every dreamer has his own subjects
of interest. Saint-Aignanon leaving Guichefound himself at the
extremity of the grove- at the very spot where the outbuildings of the
servants beginand wherebehind the thickets of acacias and chestnuttrees
interlacing their brancheswhich were hidden by masses of clematis


and young vinesthe wall which separated the woods from the courtyard
was erected. Saint-Aignanalonetook the path which led towards these
buildings; De Guiche going off in the opposite direction. The one
proceeded to the flower-gardenwhile the other bent his steps towards
the walls. Saint-Aignan walked on between rows of mountain-ashlilac
and hawthornwhich formed an almost impenetrable roof above his head;
his feet were buried in the soft gravel and thick moss. He was
deliberating a means of taking his revengewhich seemed difficult for
him to carry outand was vexed with himself for not having learned more
about La Vallierenotwithstanding the ingenious measures he had resorted
to in order to acquire more information about herwhen suddenly the
murmur of a human voice attracted his attention. He heard whispersthe
complaining tones of a woman's voice mingled with entreatiessmothered
laughtersighsand half-stilted exclamations of surprise; but above
them allthe woman's voice prevailed. Saint-Aignan stopped to look
about him; he perceived from the greatest surprise that the voices
proceedednot from the groundbut from the branches of the trees. As
he glided along under the covered walkhe raised his headand observed
at the top of the wall a woman perched upon a ladderin eager
conversation with a man seated on a branch of a chestnut-treewhose head
alone could be seenthe rest of his body being concealed in the thick
covert of the chestnut.

Transcriber's note: The verses in this chapter have been re-written to
give the flavor of them rather than the meaning. A more literal
translation would look like this:

Guiche is the furnisher
Of the maids of honor.

and


He has stocked the birdcage;
Montalais and

It would be more accuratethoughto say "baited" rather than "stocked"
in the second couplet. JB

Chapter XLIX:
The Labyrinth.

Saint-Aignanwho had only been seeking for informationhad met with an
adventure. This was indeed a piece of good luck. Curious to learn why
and particularly what aboutthis man and woman were conversing at such
an hourand in such a singular positionSaint-Aignan made himself as
small as he possibly couldand approached almost under the rounds of the
ladder. And taking measures to make himself as comfortable as possible
he leaned his back against a tree and listenedand heard the following
conversation. The woman was the first to speak.

Really, Monsieur Manicamp,she saidin a voice whichnotwithstanding
the reproaches she addressed to himpreserved a marked tone of coquetry
really your indiscretion is of a very dangerous character. We cannot
talk long in this manner without being observed.

That is very probable,said the manin the calmest and coolest of
tones.

In that case, then, what would people say? Oh! if any one were to see
me, I declare I should die of very shame.

Oh! that would be very silly; I do not believe you would.


It might have been different if there had been anything between us; but
to injure myself gratuitously is really very foolish of me; so, adieu,
Monsieur Manicamp.

So far so good; I know the man, and now let me see who the woman is,
said Saint-Aignanwatching the rounds of the ladderon which were
standing two pretty little feet covered with blue satin shoes.

Nay, nay, for pity's sake, my dear Montalais,cried Manicampdeuce
take it, do not go away; I have a great many things to say to you, of the
greatest importance, still.

Montalais,said Saint-Aignan to himselfone of the three. Each of
the three gossips had her adventure, only I imagined the hero of this
one's adventure was Malicorne and not Manicamp.

At her companion's appealMontalais stopped in the middle of her
descentand Saint-Aignan could observe the unfortunate Manicamp climb
from one branch of the chestnut-tree to anothereither to improve his
situation or to overcome the fatigue consequent upon his inconvenient
position.

Now, listen to me,said he; "you quite understandI hopethat my
intentions are perfectly innocent?"

Of course. But why did you write me a letter stimulating my gratitude
towards you? Why did you ask me for an interview at such an hour and in
such a place as this?

I stimulated your gratitude in reminding you that it was I who had been
the means of your becoming attached to Madame's household; because most
anxiously desirous of obtaining the interview you have been kind enough
to grant me, I employed the means which appeared to me most certain to
insure it. And my reason for soliciting it, at such an hour and in such
a locality, was, that the hour seemed to me to be the most prudent, and
the locality the least open to observation. Moreover, I had occasion to
speak to you upon certain subjects which require both prudence and
solitude.

Monsieur Manicamp!

But everything I wish to say is perfectly honorable, I assure you.

I think, Monsieur Manicamp, it will be more becoming in me to take my
leave.

No, no! - listen to me, or I will jump from my perch here to yours; and
be careful how you set me at defiance, for a branch of this chestnut-tree
causes me a good deal of annoyance, and may provoke me to extreme
measures. Do not follow the example of this branch, then, but listen to
me.

I am listening, and I agree to do so; but be as brief as possible, for
if you have a branch of the chestnut-tree which annoys you, I wish you to
understand that one of the rounds of the ladder is hurting the soles of
my feet, and my shoes are being cut through.

Do me the kindness to give me your hand.

Why?

Will you have the goodness to do so?

There is my hand, then; but what are you going to do?


To draw you towards me.

What for? You surely do not wish me to join you in the tree?

No; but I wish you to sit down upon the wall; there, that will do; there
is quite room enough, and I would give a great deal to be allowed to sit
down beside you.

No, no; you are very well where you are; we should be seen.

Do you really think so?said Manicampin an insinuating voice.

I am sure of it.

Very well, I remain in my tree, then, although I cannot be worse placed.

Monsieur Manicamp, we are wandering away from the subject.

You are right, we are so.

You wrote me a letter?

I did.

Why did you write?

Fancy, at two o'clock to-day, De Guiche left.

What then?

Seeing him set off, I followed him, as I usually do.

Of course, I see that, since you are here now.

Don't be in a hurry. You are aware, I suppose, that De Guiche is up to
his very neck in disgrace?

Alas! yes.

It was the very height of imprudence on his part, then, to come to
Fontainebleau to seek those who had at Paris sent him away into exile,
and particularly those from whom he had been separated.

Monsieur Manicamp, you reason like Pythagoras.

Moreover, De Guiche is as obstinate as a man in love can be, and he
refused to listen to any of my remonstrances. I begged, I implored him,
but he would not listen to anything. Oh, the deuce!

What's the matter?

I beg your pardon, Mademoiselle Montalais, but this confounded branch,
about which I have already had the honor of speaking to you, has just
torn a certain portion of my dress.

It is quite dark,replied Montalaislaughing; "sopray continueM.
Manicamp."

De Guiche set off on horseback as hard as he could, I following him, at
a slower pace. You quite understand that to throw one's self into the
water, for instance, with a friend, at the same headlong rate as he
himself would do it, would be the act either of a fool or a madman. I
therefore allowed De Guiche to get in advance, and I proceeded on my way


with a commendable slowness of pace, feeling quite sure that my
unfortunate friend would not be received, or, if he had been, that he
would ride off again at the very first cross, disagreeable answer; and
that I should see him returning much faster than he went, without having,
myself, gone much farther than Ris or Melun - and that even was a good
distance you will admit, for it is eleven leagues to get there and as
many to return.

Montalais shrugged her shoulders.

Laugh as much as you like; but if, instead of being comfortably seated
on the top of the wall as you are, you were sitting on this branch as if
you were on horseback, you would, like Augustus, aspire to descend.

Be patient, my dear M. Manicamp; a few minutes will soon pass away; you
were saying, I think, that you had gone beyond Ris and Melun.

Yes, I went through Ris and Melun, and I continued to go on, more and
more surprised that I did not see him returning; and here I am at
Fontainebleau; I look for and inquire after De Guiche everywhere, but no
one has seen him, no one in the town has spoken to him; he arrived riding
at full gallop, he entered the chateau; and there he has disappeared. I
have been here at Fontainebleau since eight o'clock this evening
inquiring for De Guiche in every direction, but no De Guiche can be
found. I am dying with uneasiness. You understand that I have not been
running my head into the lion's den, in entering the chateau, as my
imprudent friend has done; I came at once to the servants' offices, and I
succeeded in getting a letter conveyed to you; and now, for Heaven's
sake, my dear young lady, relieve me from my anxiety.

There will be no difficulty in that, my dear M. Manicamp; your friend De
Guiche has been admirably received.

Bah!

The king made quite a fuss over him.

The king, who exiled him!

Madame smiled upon him, and Monsieur appears to like him better than
ever.

Ah! ah!said Manicampthat explains to me, then, why and how he has
remained. And did he not say anything about me?

Not a word.

That is very unkind. What is he doing now?

In all probability he is asleep, or, if not asleep, dreaming.

And what have they been doing all the evening?

Dancing.

The famous ballet? How did De Guiche look?

Superb!

Dear fellow! And now, pray forgive me, Mademoiselle Montalais; but all
I now have to do is pass from where I now am to your apartment.

What do you mean?


I cannot suppose that the door of the chateau will be opened for me at
this hour; and as for spending the night upon this branch, I possibly
might not object to do so, but I declare it is impossible for any other
animal than a boa-constrictor to do it.

But, M. Manicamp, I cannot introduce a man over the wall in that manner.

Two, if you please,said a second voicebut in so timid a tone that it
seemed as if its owner felt the utter impropriety of such a request.

Good gracious!exclaimed Montalaiswho is that speaking to me?

Malicorne, Mademoiselle Montalais.

And as Malicorne spokehe raised himself from the ground to the lowest
branchesand thence to the height of the wall.

Monsieur Malicorne! why, you are both mad!

How do you do, Mademoiselle Montalais?inquired Malicorne.

I needed but this!said Montalaisin despair.

Oh! Mademoiselle Montalais,murmured Malicorne; "do not be so severe
I beseech you."

In fact,said Manicampwe are your friends, and you cannot possibly
wish your friends to lose their lives; and to leave us to pass the night
on these branches is in fact condemning us to death.

Oh!said MontalaisMonsieur Malicorne is so robust that a night
passed in the open air with the beautiful stars above him will not do him
any harm, and it will be a just punishment for the trick he has played
me.

Be it so, then; let Malicorne arrange matters with you in the best way
he can; I pass over,said Manicamp. And bending down the famous branch
against which he had directed such bitter complaintshe succeededby
the assistance of his hands and feetin seating himself side by side
with Montalaiswho tried to push him backwhile he endeavored to
maintain his positionandmoreoverhe succeeded. Having taken
possession of the ladderhe stepped on itand then gallantly offered
his hand to his fair antagonist. While this was going onMalicorne had
installed himself in the chestnut-treein the very place Manicamp had
just leftdetermining within himself to succeed him in the one he now
occupied. Manicamp and Montalais descended a few rounds of the ladder
Manicamp insistingand Montalais laughing and objecting.

Suddenly Malicorne's voice was heard in tones of entreaty:

I entreat you, Mademoiselle Montalais, not to leave me here. My
position is very insecure, and some accident will be certain to befall
me, if I attempt unaided to reach the other side of the wall; it does not
matter if Manicamp tears his clothes, for he can make use of M. de
Guiche's wardrobe; but I shall not be able to use even those belonging to

M. Manicamp, for they will be torn.
My opinion,said Manicampwithout taking any notice of Malicorne's
lamentationsis that the best thing to be done is to go and look for De
Guiche without delay, for, by and by, perhaps, I may not be able to get
to his apartments.

That is my own opinion, too,replied Montalais; "sogo at once
Monsieur Manicamp."


A thousand thanks. Adieu Mademoiselle Montalais,said Manicamp
jumping to the ground; "your condescension cannot be repaid."

Farewell, M. Manicamp; I am now going to get rid of M. Malicorne.

Malicorne sighed. Manicamp went away a few pacesbut returning to the
foot of the ladderhe saidBy the by, how do I get to M. de Guiche's
apartments?

Nothing easier. You go along by the hedge until you reach a place where
the paths cross.

Yes.
You will see four paths.


Exactly.
One of which you will take.


Which of them?
That to the right.


That to the right?
No, to the left.


The deuce!
No, no, wait a minute -


You do not seem to be quite sure. Think again, I beg.
You take the middle path.


But there are _four_.


So there are. All I know is, that one of the four paths leads straight
to Madame's apartments; and that one I am well acquainted with.
But M. de Guiche is not in Madame's apartments, I suppose?

No, indeed.

Well, then the path which leads to Madame's apartments is of no use to
me, and I would willingly exchange it for the one that leads to where M.
de Guiche is lodging.

Of course, and I know that as well; but as for indicating it from where
we are, it is quite impossible.

Well, let us suppose that I have succeeded in finding that fortunate
path.

In that case, you are almost there, for you have nothing else to do but
cross the labyrinth.

_Nothing_ more than that? The deuce! so there is a labyrinth as well.

Yes, and complicated enough too; even in daylight one may sometimes be
deceived, - there are turnings and windings without end: in the first
place, you must turn three times to the right, then twice to the left,


then turn once - stay, is it once or twice, though? at all events, when
you get clear of the labyrinth, you will see an avenue of sycamores, and
this avenue leads straight to the pavilion in which M. de Guiche is
lodging.

Nothing could be more clearly indicated,said Manicamp; "and I have not
the slightest doubt in the world that if I were to follow your
directionsI should lose my way immediately. I havethereforea
slight service to ask of you."

What may that be?

That you will offer me your arm and guide me yourself, like another
like another - I used to know mythology, but other important matters have
made me forget it; pray come with me, then?

And am I to be abandoned, then?cried Malicorne.

It is quite impossible, monsieur,said Montalais to Manicamp; "if I
were to be seen with you at such an hourwhat would be said of me?"

Your own conscience would acquit you,said Manicampsententiously.

Impossible, monsieur, impossible.

In that case, let me assist Malicorne to get down; he is a very
intelligent fellow, and possesses a very keen scent; he will guide me,
and if we lose ourselves, both of us will be lost, and the one will save
the other. If we are together, and should be met by any one, we shall
look as if we had some matter of business in hand; whilst alone I should
have the appearance either of a lover or a robber. Come, Malicorne, here
is the ladder.

Malicorne had already stretched out one of his legs towards the top of
the wallwhen Manicamp saidin a whisperHush!

What's the matter?inquired Montalais.

I hear footsteps.

Good heavens!

In fact the fancied footsteps soon became a reality; the foliage was
pushed asideand Saint-Aignan appearedwith a smile on his lipsand
his hand stretched out towards themtaking every one by surprise; that
is to sayMalicorne upon the tree with his head stretched outMontalais
upon the round of the ladder and clinging to it tightlyand Manicamp on
the ground with his foot advanced ready to set off. "Good-evening
Manicamp said the comte, I am glad to see youmy dear fellow; we
missed you this eveningand a good many inquiries have been made about
you. Mademoiselle de Montalaisyour most obedient servant."

Montalais blushed. "Good heavens!" she exclaimedhiding her face in
both her hands.

Pray reassure yourself; I know how perfectly innocent you are, and I
shall give a good account of you. Manicamp, do you follow me: the hedge,
the cross-paths, and labyrinth, I am well acquainted with them all; I
will be your Ariadne. There now, your mythological name is found at
last.

Perfectly true, comte.

And take M. Malicorne away with you at the same time,said Montalais.


No, indeed,said Malicorne; "M. Manicamp has conversed with you as long
as he likedand now it is my turnif you please; I have a multitude of
things to tell you about our future prospects."


You hear,said the comtelaughing; "stay with himMademoiselle
Montalais. This isindeeda night for secrets." Andtaking
Manicamp's armthe comte led him rapidly away in the direction of the
road Montalais knew so welland indicated so badly. Montalais followed
them with her eyes as long as she could perceive them.


Chapter L:
How Malicorne Had Been Turned Out of the Hotel of the Beau Paon.


While Montalais was engaged in looking after the comte and Manicamp
Malicorne had taken advantage of the young girl's attention being drawn
away to render his position somewhat more tolerableand when she turned
roundshe immediately noticed the change which had taken place; for he
had seated himselflike a monkeyupon the wallthe foliage of the wild
vine and honeysuckle curled around his head like a faunwhile the
twisted ivy branches represented tolerably enough his cloven feet.
Montalais required nothing to make her resemblance to a dryad as complete
as possible. "Well she said, ascending another round of the ladder,
are you resolved to render me unhappy? have you not persecuted me
enoughtyrant that you are?"


I a tyrant?said Malicorne.


Yes, you are always compromising me, Monsieur Malicorne; you are a
perfect monster of wickedness.


I?


What have you to do with Fontainebleau? Is not Orleans your place of
residence?


Do you ask me what I have to do here? I wanted to see you.


Ah, great need of that.


Not as far as concerns yourself, perhaps, but as far as I am concerned,
Mademoiselle Montalais, you know very well that I have left my home, and
that, for the future, I have no other place of residence than that which
you may happen to have. As you, therefore, are staying at Fontainebleau
at the present moment, I have come to Fontainebleau.


Montalais shrugged her shoulders. "You wished to see medid you not?"
she said.


Of course.


Very well, you have seen me, - you are satisfied; so now go away.


Oh, no,said Malicorne; "I came to talk with you as well as to see you."


Very well, we will talk by and by, and in another place than this.


By and by! Heaven only knows if I shall meet you by and by in another
place. We shall never find a more favorable one than this.


But I cannot this evening, nor at the present moment.


Why not?



Because a thousand things have happened to-night.

Well, then, my affair will make a thousand and one.

No, no; Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente is waiting for me in our room to
communicate something of the very greatest importance.

How long has she been waiting?

For an hour at least.

In that case,said Malicornetranquillyshe can wait a few minutes
longer.

Monsieur Malicorne,said Montalaisyou are forgetting yourself.

You should rather say that it is you who are forgetting me, and that I
am getting impatient at the part you make me play here indeed! For the
last week I have been prowling about among the company, and you have not
once deigned to notice my presence.

Have you been prowling about here for a week, M. Malicorne?

Like a wolf; sometimes I have been burnt by the fireworks, which have
singed two of my wigs; at others, I have been completely drenched in the
osiers by the evening damps, or the spray from the fountains, - halffamished,
fatigued to death, with the view of a wall always before me,
and the prospect of having to scale it perhaps. Upon my word, this is
not the sort of life for any one to lead who is neither a squirrel, a
salamander, nor an otter; and since you drive your inhumanity so far as
to wish to make me renounce my condition as a man, I declare it openly.
A man I am, indeed, and a man I will remain, unless by superior orders.

Well, then, tell me, what do you wish, - what do you require, - what do
you insist upon?said Montalaisin a submissive tone.

Do you mean to tell me that you did not know I was at Fontainebleau?

I?

Nay, be frank.

I suspected so.

Well, then, could you not have contrived during the last week to have
seen me once a day, at least?

I have always been prevented, M. Malicorne.

Fiddlesticks!

Ask my companion, if you do not believe me.

I shall ask no one to explain matters, I know better than any one.

Compose yourself, M. Malicorne: things will change.

They must indeed.

You know that, whether I see you or not, I am thinking of you,said
Montalaisin a coaxing tone of voice.

Oh, you are thinking of me, are you? well, and is there anything new?


What about?
About my post in Monsieur's household.


Ah, my dear Malicorne, no one has ventured lately to approach his royal
highness.

Well, but now?

Now it is quite a different thing; since yesterday he has left off being
jealous.

Bah! how has his jealousy subsided?
It has been diverted into another channel.


Tell me all about it.


A report was spread that the king had fallen in love with some one else,
and Monsieur was tranquillized immediately.
And who spread the report?


Montalais lowered her voice. "Between ourselves she said, I think
that Madame and the king have come to a secret understanding about it."

Ah!said Malicorne; "that was the only way to manage it. But what
about poor M. de Guiche?"

Oh, as for him, he is completely turned off.

Have they been writing to each other?

No, certainly not; I have not seen a pen in either of their hands for
the last week.

On what terms are you with Madame?
The very best.


And with the king?
The king always smiles at me whenever I pass him.


Good. Now tell me whom have the two lovers selected to serve as their
screen?

La Valliere.
Oh, oh, poor girl! We must prevent that!


Why?


Because, if M. Raoul Bragelonne were to suspect it, he would either kill
her or kill himself.

Raoul, poor fellow! do you think so?

Women pretend to have a knowledge of the state of people's affections,
said Malicorneand they do not even know how to read the thoughts of
their own minds and hearts. Well, I can tell you that M. de Bragelonne
loves La Valliere to such a degree that, if she deceived him, he would, I
repeat, either kill himself or kill her.


But the king is there to defend her,said Montalais.


The king!exclaimed Malicorne; "Raoul would kill the king as he would a
common thief."
Good heavens!said Montalais; "you are madM. Malicorne."
Not in the least. Everything I have told you is, on the contrary,


perfectly serious; and, for my own part, I know one thing.
What is that?
That I shall quietly tell Raoul of the trick.
Hush!said Montalaismounting another round of the ladderso as to


approach Malicorne more closelydo not open your lips to poor Raoul.
Why not?
Because, as yet you know nothing at all.
What is the matter, then?
Why, this evening - but no one is listening, I hope?
No.
This evening, then, beneath the royal oak, La Valliere said aloud,


and innocently enough, 'I cannot conceive that when one has once seen the


king, one can ever love another man.'
Malicorne almost jumped off the wall. "Unhappy girl! did she really say
that?"


Word for word.


And she thinks so?


La Valliere always thinks what she says.


That positively cries aloud for vengeance. Why, women are the veriest


serpents,said Malicorne.
Compose yourself, my dear Malicorne, compose yourself.
No, no; let us take the evil in time, on the contrary. There is time


enough yet to tell Raoul of it.
Blunderer, on the contrary, it is too late,replied Montalais.
How so?
La Valliere's remark, which was intended for the king, reached its


destination.
The king knows it, then? The king was told of it, I suppose?
The king heard it.
_Ahime!_ as the cardinal used to say.
The king was hidden in the thicket close to the royal oak.



It follows, then,said Malicornethat for the future, the plan which
the king and Madame have arranged, will go as easily as if it were on
wheels, and will pass over poor Bragelonne's body.

Precisely so.

Well,said Malicorneafter a moment's reflectiondo not let us
interpose our poor selves between a large oak-tree and a great king, for
we should certainly be ground to pieces.

The very thing I was going to say to you.

Let us think of ourselves, then.

My own idea.

Open your beautiful eyes, then.

And you your large ears.

Approach your little mouth for a kiss.

Here,said Montalaiswho paid the debt immediately in ringing coin.

Now let us consider. First, we have M. de Guiche, who is in love with
Madame; then La Valliere, who is in love with the king; next, the king,
who is in love both with Madame and La Valliere; lastly Monsieur, who
loves no one but himself. Among all these loves, a noodle would make his
fortune: a greater reason, therefore, for sensible people like ourselves
to do so.

There you are with your dreams again.

Nay, rather with realities. Let me still lead you, darling. I do not
think you have been very badly off hitherto?

No.

Well, the future is guaranteed by the past. Only, since all here think
of themselves before anything else, let us do so too.

Perfectly right.

But of ourselves only.

Be it so.

An offensive and defensive alliance.

I am ready to swear it.

Put out your hand, then, and say, 'All for Malicorne.'

All for Malicorne.

And I, 'All for Montalais,'replied Malicornestretching out his hand
in his turn.

And now, what is to be done?

Keep your eyes and ears constantly open; collect every means of attack
which may be serviceable against others; never let anything lie about
which can be used against ourselves.


Agreed.

Decided.

Sworn to. And now the agreement entered into, good-bye.

What do you mean by 'good-bye?'

Of course you can now return to your inn.

To my inn?

Yes; are you not lodging at the sign of the Beau Paon?

Montalais, Montalais, you now betray that you were aware of my being at
Fontainebleau.

Well; and what does that prove, except that I occupy myself about you
more than you deserve?

Hum!

Go back, then, to the Beau Paon.

That is now quite out of the question.

Have you not a room there?

I had, but have it no longer.

Who has taken it from you, then?

I will tell you. Some little time ago I was returning there, after I
had been running about after you; and having reached my hotel quite out
of breath, I perceived a litter, upon which four peasants were carrying
a sick monk.

A monk?

Yes, an old gray-bearded Franciscan. As I was looking at the monk, they
entered the hotel; and as they were carrying him up the staircase, I
followed, and as I reached the top of the staircase I observed that they
took him into my room.

Into your room?

Yes, into my own apartment. Supposing it to be a mistake, I summoned
the landlord, who said that the room which had been let to me for the
past eight days was let to the Franciscan for the ninth.

Oh, oh!

That was exactly what I said; nay, I did even more, for I was inclined
to get out of temper. I went up-stairs again. I spoke to the Franciscan
himself, and wished to prove to him the impropriety of the step; when
this monk, dying though he seemed to be, raised himself upon his arm,
fixed a pair of blazing eyes upon me, and, in a voice which was admirably
suited for commanding a charge of cavalry, said, 'Turn this fellow out of
doors;' which was done, immediately by the landlord and the four porters,
who made me descend the staircase somewhat faster than was agreeable.
This is how it happens, dearest, that I have no lodging.

Who can this Franciscan be?said Montalais. "Is he a general?"


That is exactly the very title that one of the bearers of the litter
gave him as he spoke to him in a low tone.


So that - said Montalais.


So that I have no room, no hotel, no lodging; and I am as determined as
my friend Manicamp was just now, not to pass the night in the open air.


What is to be done, then?said Montalais.


Nothing easier,said a third voice; whereupon Montalais and Malicorne
uttered a simultaneous cryand Saint-Aignan appeared. "Dear Monsieur
Malicorne said Saint-Aignan, a very lucky accident has brought me back
to extricate you from your embarrassment. ComeI can offer you a room
in my own apartmentswhichI can assure youno Franciscan will deprive
you of. As for youmy dear ladyrest easy. I already knew
Mademoiselle de la Valliere's secretand that of Mademoiselle de Tonnay-
Charente; your own you have just been kind enough to confide to me; for
which I thank you. I can keep three quite as well as one." Malicorne
and Montalais looked at each otherlike children detected in a theft;
but as Malicorne saw a great advantage in the proposition which had been
made to himhe gave Montalais a sign of assentwhich she returned.
Malicorne then descended the ladderround by roundreflecting at every
step on the means of obtaining piecemeal from M. de Saint-Aignan all he
might possibly know about the famous secret. Montalais had already
darted away like a deerand neither cross-road nor labyrinth was able to
lead her wrong. As for Saint-Aignanhe carried off Malicorne with him
to his apartmentsshowing him a thousand attentionsenchanted to have
so close at hand the very two men whoeven supposing De Guiche were to
remain silentcould give him the best information about the maids of
honor.


Chapter LI:
What Actually Occurred at the Inn Called the Beau Paon.


In the first placelet us supply our readers with a few details about
the inn called Beau Paon. It owed its name to its signwhich
represented a peacock spreading its tail. Butin imitation of certain
painters who bestowed the face of a handsome young man on the serpent
which tempted Evethe limner of the sign had conferred upon the peacock
the features of a woman. This famous innan architectural epigram
against that half of the human race which renders existence delightful
was situated at Fontainebleauin the first turning on the left-hand
sidewhich divides the road from Paristhe large artery that
constitutes in itself alone the entire town of Fontainebleau. The side
street in question was then known as the Rue de Lyondoubtless because
geographicallyit led in the direction of the second capital of the
kingdom. The street itself was composed of two houses occupied by
persons of the class of tradespeoplethe houses being separated by two
large gardens bordered with hedges running round them. Apparently
howeverthere were three houses in the street. Let us explain
notwithstanding appearanceshow there were in fact only two. The inn of
the Beau Paon had its principal front towards the main street; but upon
the Rue de Lyon there were two ranges of buildings divided by courtyards
which comprised sets of apartments for the reception of all classes of
travelerswhether on foot or on horsebackor even with their own
carriages; and in which could be suppliednot only board and lodging
but also accommodation for exerciseor opportunities of solitude for
even the wealthiest courtierswheneverafter having received some check
at the courtthey wished to shut themselves up to their own society
either to devour an affrontor to brood on revenge. From the windows of
this part of the building travelers could perceivein the first place
the street with the grass growing between the stoneswhich were being



gradually loosened by it; next the beautiful hedges of elder and thorn
which embracedas though within two green and flowery armsthe house of
which we have spoken; and thenin the spaces between those houses
forming the groundwork of the pictureand appearing an almost impassable
barriera line of thick treesthe advanced sentinels of the vast forest
which extends in front of Fontainebleau. It was therefore easyprovided
one secured an apartment at the angle of the buildingto obtainby the
main street from Parisa view ofas well as to hearthe passers-by and
the _fetes_; andby the Rue de Lyonto look upon and to enjoy the calm
of the country. And this without reckoning thatin cases of urgent
necessityat the very moment people might be knocking at the principal
door in the Rue de Parisone could make one's escape by the little door
in the Rue de Lyonandcreeping along the gardens of the private
housesattain the outskirts of the forest. Malicornewhoit will be
rememberedwas the first to speak about this innby way of deploring
his being turned out of itbeing then absorbed in his own affairshad
not told Montalais all that could be said about this curious inn; and we
will try to repair the omission. With the exception of the few words he
had said about the Franciscan friarMalicorne had not given any
particulars about the travelers who were staying in the inn. The manner
in which they had arrivedthe manner in which they had livedthe
difficulty which existed for every one but certain privileged travelers
of entering the hotel without a passwordor living there without certain
preparatory precautionsmust have struck Malicorne; andwe will venture
to sayreally did so. But Malicorneas we have already saidhad
personal matters of his own to occupy his attention which prevented him
from paying much attention to others. In factall the apartments of the
hotel were engaged and retained by certain strangerswho never stirred
outwho were incommunicative in their addresswith countenances full of
thoughtful preoccupationand not one of whom was known to Malicorne.
Every one of these travelers had reached the hotel after his own arrival
there; each man had entered after having given a kind of passwordwhich
had at first attracted Malicorne's attention; but having inquiredin an
indiscreet mannerabout ithe had been informed that the host had given
as a reason for this extreme vigilancethatas the town was so full of
wealthy noblemenit must also be as full of clever and zealous
pickpockets. The reputation of an honest inn like that of the Beau Paon
was concerned in not allowing its visitors to be robbed. It occasionally
happened that Malicorne asked himselfas he thought matters carefully
over in his mindand reflected upon his own position in the innhow it
was that they had allowed him to become an inmate of the hotelwhen he
had observedsince his residence thereadmission refused to so many.
He asked himselftoohow it was that Manicampwhoin his opinion
must be a man to be looked upon with veneration by everybodyhaving
wished to bait his horse at the Beau Paonon arriving thereboth horse
and rider had been incontinently turned away with a _nescio vos_ of the
most positive character. All this for Malicornewhose mind being fully
occupied by his own love affair and personal ambitionwas a problem he
had not applied himself to solve. Had he wished to do sowe should
hardly venturenotwithstanding the intelligence we have accorded as his
dueto say he would have succeeded. A few words will prove to the
reader that no one but Oedipus in person could have solved the enigma in
question. During the weekseven travelers had taken up their abode in
the innall of them having arrived there the day after the fortunate day
on which Malicorne had fixed his choice on the Beau Paon. These seven
personsaccompanied by a suitable retinuewere the following: -

First of alla brigadier in the German armyhis secretaryphysician
three servantsand seven horses. The brigadier's name was the Comte de
Wostpur. - A Spanish cardinalwith two nephewstwo secretariesan
officer of his householdand twelve horses. The cardinal's name was
Monseigneur Herrebia. - A rich merchant of Bremenwith his man-servant
and two horses. This merchant's name was Meinheer Bonstett. - A Venetian
senator with his wife and daughterboth extremely beautiful. The


senator's name was Signor Marini. - A Scottish lairdwith seven
highlanders of his clanall on foot. The laird's name was MacCumnor.
An Austrian from Vienna without title or coat of armswho had arrived in
a carriage; a good deal of the priestand something of the soldier. He
was called the Councilor. - Andfinallya Flemish ladywith a manservant
a lady's maidand a female companiona large retinue of
servantsgreat displayand immense horses. She was called the Flemish
lady.

All these travelers had arrived on the same dayand yet their arrival
had occasioned no confusion in the innno stoppage in the street; their
apartments had been fixed upon beforehandby their couriers or
secretarieswho had arrived the previous evening or that very morning.
Malicornewho had arrived the previous dayriding an ill-conditioned
horsewith a slender valisehad announced himself at the hotel of the
Beau Paon as the friend of a nobleman desirous of witnessing the _fetes_
and who would himself arrive almost immediately. The landlordon
hearing these wordshad smiled as if he were perfectly well acquainted
either with Malicorne or his friend the noblemanand had said to him
Since you are the first arrival, monsieur, choose what apartment you
please.And this was said with that obsequiousness of mannersso full
of meaning with landlordswhich meansMake yourself perfectly easy,
monsieur: we know with whom we have to do, and you will be treated
accordingly.These wordsand their accompanying gestureMalicorne had
thought very friendlybut rather obscure. Howeveras he did not wish
to be very extravagant in his expensesand as he thought that if he were
to ask for a small apartment he would doubtless have been refusedon
account of his want of consequencehe hastened to close at once with the
innkeeper's remarkand deceive him with a cunning equal to his own. So
smiling as a man would do for whom whatever might be done was but simply
his duehe saidMy dear host, I shall take the best and the gayest
room in the house.

With a stable?

Yes, with a stable.

And when will you take it?

Immediately if it be possible.

Quite so.

But,said MalicorneI shall leave the large room unoccupied for the
present.

Very good!said the landlordwith an air of intelligence.

Certain reasons, which you will understand by and by, oblige me to take,
at my own cost, this small room only.

Yes, yes,said the host.

When my friend arrives, he will occupy the large apartment: and as a
matter of course, as this larger apartment will be his own affair, he
will settle for it himself.

Certainly,said the landlordcertainly; let it be understood in that
manner.

It is agreed, then, that such shall be the terms?

Word for word.


It is extraordinary,said Malicorne to himself. "You quite understand
then?"

Yes.

There is nothing more to be said. Since you understand, - for you do
clearly understand, do you not?

Perfectly.

Very well; and now show me to my room.

The landlordcap in handpreceded Malicornewho installed himself in
his roomand became more and more surprised to observe that the
landlordat every ascent or descentlooked and winked at him in a
manner which indicated the best possible intelligence between them.

There is some mistake here,said Malicorne to himself; "but until it is
cleared upI shall take advantage of itwhich is the best thing I can
possibly do." And he darted out of his roomlike a hunting-dog
following a scentin search of all the news and curiosities of the
courtgetting himself burnt in one place and drowned in anotheras he
had told Mademoiselle de Montalais. The day after he had been installed
in his roomhe had noticed the seven travelers arrive successivelywho
speedily filled the whole hotel. When he saw this perfect multitude of
peopleof carriagesand retinueMalicorne rubbed his hands
delightedlythinking thatone day laterhe should not have found a bed
to lie upon after his return from his exploring expeditions. When all
the travelers were lodgedthe landlord entered Malicorne's roomand
with his accustomed courteousnesssaid to himYou are aware, my dear
monsieur, that the large room in the third detached building is still
reserved for you?

Of course I am aware of it.

I am really making you a present of it.

Thank you.

So that when your friend comes -

Well!

He will be satisfied with me, I hope: or, if he be not, he will be very
difficult to please.

Excuse me, but will you allow me to say a few words about my friend?

Of course, for you have a perfect right to do so.

He intended to come, as you know.

And he does so still.

He may possibly have changed his opinion.

No.

You are quite sure, then?

Quite sure.

But in case you should have some doubt.


Well!

I can only say that I do not positively assure you that he will come.

Yet he told you -

He certainly did tell me; but you know that man proposes and God
disposes, - _verba volant, scripta manent_.

Which is as much to say -

That what is spoken flies away, and what is written remains; and, as he
did not write to me, but contented himself by saying to me, 'I will
authorize you, yet without specifically instructing you,' you must feel
that it places me in a very embarrassing position.

What do you authorize me to do, then?

Why, to let your rooms if you find a good tenant for them.

I?

Yes, you.

Never will I do such a thing, monsieur. If he has not written to you,
he has written to me.

Ah! what does he say? Let us see if his letter agrees with his words.

These are almost his very words. 'To the landlord of the Beau Paon
Hotel, - You will have been informed of the meeting arranged to take
place in your inn between some people of importance; I shall be one of
those who will meet with the others at Fontainebleau. Keep for me, then,
a small room for a friend who will arrive either before or after me - '
and you are the friend, I suppose,said the landlordinterrupting his
reading of the letter. Malicorne bowed modestly. The landlord continued:

'And a large apartment for myself. The large apartment is my own
affair, but I wish the price of the smaller room to be moderate, as it is
destined for a fellow who is deucedly poor.' It is still you he is
speaking of, is he not?said the host.

Oh, certainly,said Malicorne.

Then we are agreed; your friend will settle for his apartment, and you
for your own.

May I be broken alive on the wheel,said Malicorne to himselfif I
understand anything at all about it,and then he said aloudWell,
then, are you satisfied with the name?

With what name?

With the name at the end of the letter. Does it give you the guarantee
you require?

I was going to ask you the name.

What! was the letter not signed?

No,said the landlordopening his eyes very widefull of mystery and
curiosity.

In that case,said Malicorneimitating his gesture and his mysterious


lookif he has not given you his name, you understand, he must have his
reasons for it.

Oh, of course.

And, therefore, I, his friend, his confidant, must not betray him.

You are perfectly right, monsieur,said the landlordand I do not
insist upon it.

I appreciate your delicacy. As for myself, as my friend told you, my
room is a separate affair, so let us come to terms about it. Short
accounts make long friends. How much is it?

There is no hurry.

Never mind, let us reckon it all up all the same. Room, my own board, a
place in the stable for my horse, and his feed. How much per day?

Four livres, monsieur.

Which will make twelve livres for the three days I have been here?

Yes, monsieur.

Here are your twelve livres, then.

But why settle now?

Because,said Malicornelowering his voiceand resorting to his
former air of mysterybecause he saw that the mysterious had succeeded
because if I had to set off suddenly, to decamp at any moment, my
account would be settled.

You are right, monsieur.

I may consider myself at home, then?

Perfectly.

So far so well. Adieu!And the landlord withdrew. Malicorneleft
alonereasoned with himself in the following manner: "No one but De
Guiche or Manicamp could have written to this fellow; De Guichebecause
he wishes to secure a lodging for himself beyond the precincts of the
courtin the event of his success or failureas the case might be;
Manicampbecause De Guiche must have intrusted him with his commission.
And De Guiche or Manicamp will have argued in this manner. The large
apartment would serve for the receptionin a befitting mannerof a lady
thickly veiledreserving to the lady in question a double means of exit
either in a street somewhat desertedor closely adjoining the forest.
The smaller room might either shelter Manicamp for a timewho is De
Guiche's confidantand would be the vigilant keeper of the dooror De
Guiche himselfactingfor greater safetythe part of a master and
confidant at the same time. Yet he continued, how about this meeting
which is to take placeand which has actually taken placein this
hotel? No doubt they are persons who are going to be presented to the
king. And the 'poor devil' for whom the smaller room is destinedis a
trickin order to better conceal De Guiche or Manicamp. If this be the
caseas very likely it isthere is only half the mischief donefor
there is simply the length of a purse string between Manicamp and
Malicorne." After he had thus reasoned the matter outMalicorne slept
soundlyleaving the seven travelers to occupyand in every sense of the
word to walk up and downtheir several lodgings in the hotel. Whenever
there was nothing at court to put him outwhen he had wearied himself


with his excursions and investigationstired of writing letters which he
could never find an opportunity of delivering to the people they were
intended forhe returned home to his comfortable little roomand
leaning upon the balconywhich was filled with nasturtiums and white
pinksfor whom Fontainebleau seemed to possess no attractions with all
its illuminationsamusementsand _fetes_.

Things went on in this manner until the seventh daya day of which we
have given such full detailswith its night alsoin the preceding
chapters. On that night Malicorne was enjoying the fresh airseated at
his windowtoward one o'clock in the morningwhen Manicamp appeared on
horsebackwith a thoughtful and listless air.

Good!said Malicorne to himselfrecognizing him at the first glance;
there's my friend, who is come to take possession of his apartment, that
is to say, of my room.And he called to Manicampwho looked up and
immediately recognized Malicorne.

Ah! by Jove!said the formerhis countenance clearing upglad to see
you, Malicorne. I have been wandering about Fontainebleau, looking for
three things I cannot find: De Guiche, a room, and a stable.

Of M. de Guiche I cannot give you either good or bad news, for I have
not seen him; but as far as concerns your room and a stable, that's
another matter, for they have been retained here for you.

Retained - and by whom?

By yourself, I presume.

By _me?_

Do you mean to say you did not take lodgings here?

By no means,said Manicamp.

At this moment the landlord appeared on the threshold of the door.

I want a room,said Manicamp.

Did you engage one, monsieur?

No.

Then I have no rooms to let.

In that case, I have engaged a room,said Manicamp.

A room simply, or lodgings?

Anything you please.

By letter?inquired the landlord.

Malicorne nodded affirmatively to Manicamp.

Of course by letter,said Manicamp. "Did you not receive a letter from
me?"

What was the date of the letter?inquired the hostin whom Manicamp's
hesitation had aroused some suspicion.

Manicamp rubbed his earand looked up at Malicorne's window; but
Malicorne had left his window and was coming down the stairs to his


friend's assistance. At the very same momenta travelerwrapped in a
large Spanish cloakappeared at the porchnear enough to hear the
conversation.

I ask you what was the date of the letter you wrote to me to retain
apartments here?repeated the landlordpressing the question.

Last Wednesday was the date,said the mysterious strangerin a soft
and polished tone of voicetouching the landlord on the shoulder.

Manicamp drew backand it was now Malicorne's turnwho appeared on the
thresholdto scratch his ear. The landlord saluted the new arrival as a
man who recognizes his true guest.

Monsieur,he said to himwith civilityyour apartment is ready for
you, and the stables too, only - He looked round him and inquired
Your horses?

My horses may or may not arrive. That, however, matters but little to
you, provided you are paid for what has been engaged.The landlord
bowed lower still.

You have,continued the unknown travelerkept for me in addition, the
small room I asked for?

Oh!said Malicorneendeavoring to hide himself.

Your friend has occupied it during the last week,said the landlord
pointing to Malicornewho was trying to make himself as small as
possible. The travelerdrawing his cloak round him so as to cover the
lower part of his facecast a rapid glance at Malicorneand saidThis
gentleman is no friend of mine.

The landlord started violently.

I am not acquainted with this gentleman,continued the traveler.

What!exclaimed the hostturning to Malicorneare you not this
gentleman's friend, then?

What does it matter whether I am or not, provided you are paid?said
Malicorneparodying the stranger's remark in a very majestic manner.

It matters so far as this,said the landlordwho began to perceive
that one person had been taken for anotherthat I beg you, monsieur, to
leave the rooms, which had been engaged beforehand, and by some one else
instead of you.

Still,said Malicornethis gentleman cannot require at the same time
a room on the first floor and an apartment on the second. If this
gentleman will take the room, I will take the apartment: if he prefers
the apartment, I will be satisfied with the room.

I am exceedingly distressed, monsieur,said the traveler in his soft
voicebut I need both the room and the apartment.

At least, tell me for whom?inquired Malicorne.

The apartment I require for myself.

Very well; but the room?

Look,said the travelerpointing towards a sort of procession which
was approaching.


Malicorne looked in the direction indicatedand observed borne upon a
litterthe arrival of the Franciscanwhose installation in his
apartment he hadwith a few details of his ownrelated to Montalais
and whom he had so uselessly endeavored to convert to humbler views. The
result of the arrival of the strangerand of the sick Franciscanwas
Malicorne's expulsionwithout any consideration for his feelingsfrom
the innby the landlord and the peasants who had carried the
Franciscan. The details have already been given of what followed this
expulsion; of Manicamp's conversation with Montalais; how Manicampwith
greater cleverness than Malicorne had shownhad succeeded in obtaining
news of De Guicheof the subsequent conversation of Montalais with
Malicorneandfinallyof the billets with which the Comte de Saint-
Aignan had furnished Manicamp and Malicorne. It remains for us to inform
our readers who was the traveler in the cloak - the principal tenant of
the double apartmentof which Malicorne had only occupied a portion
and the Franciscanquite as mysterious a personagewhose arrival
together with that of the strangerunfortunately upset the two friends'
plans.


Chapter LII:
A Jesuit of the Eleventh Year.


In the first placein order not to weary the reader's patiencewe will
hasten to answer the first question. The traveler with the cloak held
over his face was Aramiswhoafter he had left Fouquetand taken from
a portmanteauwhich his servant had openeda cavalier's complete
costumequitted the chateauand went to the hotel of the Beau Paon
whereby lettersseven or eight days previouslyhe hadas the
landlord had stateddirected a room and an apartment to be retained for
him. Immediately after Malicorne and Manicamp had been turned out
Aramis approached the Franciscanand asked him whether he would prefer
the apartment or the room. The Franciscan inquired where they were both
situated. He was told that the room was on the firstand the apartment
on the second floor.


The room, then,he said.


Aramis did not contradict himbutwith great submissivenesssaid to
the landlord: "The room." And bowing with respect he withdrew into the
apartmentand the Franciscan was accordingly carried at once into the
room. Nowis it not extraordinary that this respect should be shown by
a prelate of the Church for a simple monkfor onetoobelonging to a
mendicant order; to whom was given upwithout a request for it evena
room which so many travelers were desirous of obtaining? Howtoocan
one explain the unexpected arrival of Aramis at the hotel - he who had
entered the chateau with M. Fouquetand could have remained at the
chateau with M. Fouquet if he had liked? The Franciscan supported his
removal up the staircase without uttering a complaintalthough it was
evident he suffered very muchand that every time the litter knocked
against the wall or the railing of the staircasehe experienced a
terrible shock throughout his frame. And finallywhen he had arrived in
the roomhe said to those who carried him: "Help me to place myself in
that armchair." The bearers of the litter placed it on the groundand
lifting the sick man up as gently as possiblecarried him to the chair
he had indicatedwhich was situated at the head of the bed. "Now he
added, with a marked benignity of gesture and tone, desire the landlord
to come."


They obeyedand five minutes afterwards the landlord appeared at the
door.


Be kind enough,said the Franciscan to himto send these excellent



fellows away; they are vassals of the Vicomte de Melun. They found me
when I had fainted on the road overcome by the heat, and without thinking
of whether they would be paid for their trouble, they wished to carry me
to their own home. But I know at what cost to themselves is the
hospitality which the poor extend to a sick monk, and I preferred this
hotel, where, moreover, I was expected.

The landlord looked at the Franciscan in amazementbut the latterwith
his thumbmade the sign of the cross in a peculiar manner upon his
breast. The host replied by making a similar sign on his left shoulder.
Yes, indeed,he saidwe did expect you, but we hoped that you would
arrive in a better state of health.And as the peasants were looking at
the innkeeperusually so superciliousand saw how respectful he had
become in the presence of a poor monkthe Franciscan drew from a deep
pocket three or four pieces of gold which he held out.

My friends,said hehere is something to repay you for the care you
have taken of me. So make yourselves perfectly easy, and do not be
afraid of leaving me here. The order to which I belong, and for which I
am traveling, does not require me to beg; only, as the attention you have
shown me deserves to be rewarded, take these two louis and depart in
peace.

The peasants did not dare to take them; the landlord took the two louis
out of the monk's hand and placed them in that of one of the peasants
all four of whom withdrewopening their eyes wider than ever. The door
was then closed; andwhile the innkeeper stood respectfully near itthe
Franciscan collected himself for a moment. He then passed across his
sallow face a hand which seemed dried up by feverand rubbed his nervous
and agitated fingers across his beard. His large eyeshollowed by
sickness and inquietudeseemed to peruse in the vague distance a
mournful and fixed idea.

What physicians have you at Fontainebleau?he inquiredafter a long
pause.

We have three, holy father.

What are their names?

Luiniguet first.

The next one?

A brother of the Carmelite order, named Brother Hubert.

The next?

A secular member, named Grisart.

Ah! Grisart?murmured the monksend for M. Grisart immediately.

The landlord moved in prompt obedience to the direction.

Tell me what priests are there here?

What priests?

Yes; belonging to what orders?

There are Jesuits, Augustines, and Cordeliers; but the Jesuits are the
closest at hand. Shall I send for a confessor belonging to the order of
Jesuits?


Yes, immediately.

It will be imagined thatat the sign of the cross which they had
exchangedthe landlord and the invalid monk had recognized each other as
two affiliated members of the well-known Society of Jesus. Left to
himselfthe Franciscan drew from his pocket a bundle of paperssome of
which he read over with the most careful attention. The violence of his
disorderhoweverovercame his courage; his eyes rolled in their
socketsa cold sweat poured down his faceand he nearly faintedand
lay with his head thrown backwards and his arms hanging down on both
sides of his chair. For more than five minutes he remained without any
movementwhen the landlord returnedbringing with him the physician
whom he hardly allowed time to dress himself. The noise they made in
entering the roomthe current of airwhich the opening of the door
occasionedrestored the Franciscan to his senses. He hurriedly seized
hold of the papers which were lying aboutand with his long and bony
hand concealed them under the cushions of the chair. The landlord went
out of the roomleaving patient and physician together.

Come here, Monsieur Grisart,said the Franciscan to the doctor;
approach closer, for there is no time to lose. Try, by touch and sound,
and consider and pronounce your sentence.

The landlord,replied the doctortold me I had the honor of attending
an affiliated brother.

Yes,replied the Franciscanit is so. Tell me the truth, then; I
feel very ill, and I think I am about to die.

The physician took the monk's handand felt his pulse. "Ohoh he
said, a dangerous fever."

What do you call a dangerous fever?inquired the Franciscanwith an
imperious look.

To an affiliated member of the first or second year,replied the
physicianlooking inquiringly at the monkI should say - a fever that
may be cured.

But to me?said the Franciscan. The physician hesitated.

Look at my grey hair, and my forehead, full of anxious thought,he
continued: "look at the lines in my faceby which I reckon up the trials
I have undergone; I am a Jesuit of the eleventh yearMonsieur Grisart."
The physician startedforin facta Jesuit of the eleventh year was
one of those men who had been initiated in all the secrets of the order
one of those for whom science has no more secretsthe society no
further barriers to present - temporal obedienceno more trammels.

In that case,said Grisartsaluting him with respectI am in the
presence of a master?

Yes; act, therefore, accordingly.

And you wish to know?

My real state.

Well,said the physicianit is a brain fever, which has reached its
highest degree of intensity.

There is no hope, then?inquired the Franciscanin a quick tone of
voice.


I do not say that,replied the doctor; "yetconsidering the disordered
state of the brainthe hurried respirationthe rapidity of the pulse
and the burning nature of the fever which is devouring you - "

And which has thrice prostrated me since this morning,said the monk.

All things considered, I shall call it a terrible attack. But why did
you not stop on your road?

I was expected here, and I was obliged to come.

Even at the risk of your life?

Yes, at the risk of dying on the way.

Very well. Considering all the symptoms of your case, I must tell you
that your condition is almost desperate.

The Franciscan smiled in a strange manner.

What you have just told me is, perhaps, sufficient for what is due to an
affiliated member, even of the eleventh year; but for what is due to me,
Monsieur Grisart, it is too little, and I have a right to demand more.
Come, then, let us be more candid still, and as frank as if you were
making your own confession to Heaven. Besides, I have already sent for a
confessor.

Oh! I have hopes, however,murmured the doctor.

Answer me,said the sick mandisplaying with a dignified gesture a
golden ringthe stone of which had until that moment been turned inside
and which bore engraved thereon the distinguishing mark of the Society of
Jesus.

Grisart uttered loud exclamation. "The general!" he cried.

Silence,said the Franciscan.you can now understand that the whole
truth is all important.

Monseigneur, monseigneur,murmured Grisartsend for the confessor,
for in two hours, at the next seizure, you will be attacked by delirium,
and will pass away in its course.

Very well,said the patientfor a moment contracting his eyebrowsI
have still two hours to live then?

Yes; particularly if you take the potion I will send you presently.

And that will give me two hours of life?

Two hours.

I would take it, were it poison, for those two hours are necessary not
only for myself, but for the glory of the order.

What a loss, what a catastrophe for us all!murmured the physician.

It is the loss of one man - nothing more,replied the Franciscanfor
Heaven will enable the poor monk, who is about to leave you, to find a
worthy successor. Adieu, Monsieur Grisart; already even, through the
goodness of Heaven, I have met with you. A physician who had not been
one of our holy order, would have left me in ignorance of my condition;
and, confident that existence would be prolonged a few days further, I
should not have taken the necessary precautions. You are a learned man,


Monsieur Grisart, and that confers an honor upon us all; it would have
been repugnant to my feelings to have found one of our order of little
standing in his profession. Adieu, Monsieur Grisart; send me the cordial
immediately.

Give me your blessing, at least, monseigneur.

In my mind, I do; go, go; in my mind, I do so, I tell you - _animo_,
Maitre Grisart, _viribus impossibile_.And he again fell back on the
armchairin an almost senseless state. M. Grisart hesitatedwhether he
should give him immediate assistanceor should run to prepare the
cordial he had promised. He decided in favor of the cordialfor he
darted out of the room and disappeared down the staircase.

Transcriber's note: The Latin translates toThe spirit is willing, but
the flesh is weak.- JB

Chapter LIII:
The State Secret.

A few moments after the doctor's departurethe confessor arrived. He
had hardly crossed the threshold of the door when the Franciscan fixed a
penetrating look upon himandshaking his headmurmured - "A weak
mindI see; may Heaven forgive me if I die without the help of this
living piece of human infirmity." The confessoron his sideregarded
the dying man with astonishmentalmost with terror. He had never beheld
eyes so burningly bright at the very moment they were about to closenor
looks so terrible at the moment they were about to be quenched in death.
The Franciscan made a rapid and imperious movement of his hand. "Sit
downtheremy father he said, and listen to me." The Jesuit
confessora good priesta recently initiated member of the orderwho
had merely seen the beginning of its mysteriesyielded to the
superiority assumed by the penitent.

There are several persons staying in this hotel,continued the
Franciscan.

But,inquired the JesuitI thought I had been summoned to listen to a
confession. Is your remark, then, a confession?

Why do you ask?

In order to know whether I am to keep your words secret.

My remarks are part of my confession; I confide them to you in your
character of a confessor.

Very well,said the priestseating himself on the chair which the
Franciscan hadwith great difficultyjust leftto lie down on the bed.

The Franciscan continued- "I repeatthere are several persons staying
in this inn."

So I have heard.

They ought to be eight in number.

The Jesuit made a sign that he understood him. "The first to whom I wish
to speak said the dying man, is a German from Viennawhose name is
Baron de Wostpur. Be kind enough to go to himand tell him the person
he expected has arrived." The confessorastoundedlooked at his
penitent; the confession seemed a singular one.


Obey,said the Franciscanin a tone of command impossible to resist.
The good Jesuitcompletely subduedrose and left the room. As soon as
he had gonethe Franciscan again took up the papers which a crisis of
the fever had alreadyonce beforeobliged him to put aside.

The Baron de Wostpur? Good!he said; "ambitiousa fooland
straitened in means."

He folded up the paperswhich he thrust under his pillow. Rapid
footsteps were heard at the end of the corridor. The confessor returned
followed by the Baron de Wostpurwho walked along with his head raised
as if he were discussing with himself the possibility of touching the
ceiling with the feather in his hat. Thereforeat the appearance of the
Franciscanat his melancholy lookand seeing the plainness of the room
he stoppedand inquired- "Who has summoned me?"

I,said the Franciscanwho turned towards the confessorsayingMy
good father, leave us for a moment together; when this gentleman leaves,
you will return here.The Jesuit left the roomanddoubtlessavailed
himself of this momentary exile from the presence of the dying man to ask
the host for some explanation about this strange penitentwho treated
his confessor no better than he would a man servant. The baron
approached the bedand wished to speakbut the hand of the Franciscan
imposed silence upon him.

Every moment is precious,said the latterhurriedly. "You have come
here for the competitionhave you not?"

Yes, my father.

You hope to be elected general of the order?

I hope so.

You know on what conditions only you can possibly attain this high
position, which makes one man the master of monarchs, the equal of
popes?

Who are you,inquired the baronto subject me to these
interrogations?

I am he whom you expected.

The elector-general?

I am the elected.

You are -

The Franciscan did not give him time to reply; he extended his shrunken
handon which glittered the ring of the general of the order. The baron
drew back in surprise; and thenimmediately afterwardsbowing with the
profoundest respecthe exclaimed- "Is it possible that you are here
monseigneur; youin this wretched room; youupon this miserable bed;
youin search of and selecting the future generalthat isyour own
successor?"

Do not distress yourself about that, monsieur, but fulfil immediately
the principal condition, of furnishing the order with a secret of
importance, of such importance that one of the greatest courts of Europe
will, by your instrumentality, forever be subjected to the order. Well!
do you possess the secret which you promised, in your request, addressed
to the grand council?


Monseigneur -

Let us proceed, however, in due order,said the monk. "You are the
Baron de Wostpur?"

Yes, monseigneur.

And this letter is from you?

Yes, monseigneur.

The general of the Jesuits drew a paper from his bundleand presented it
to the baronwho glanced at itand made a sign in the affirmative
sayingYes, monseigneur, this letter is mine.

Can you show me the reply which the secretary of the grand council
returned to you?

Here it is,said the baronholding towards the Franciscan a letter
bearing simply the addressTo his excellency the Baron de Wostpur,and
containing only this phraseFrom the 15th to the 22nd May,
Fontainebleau, the hotel of the Beau Paon. - A. M. D. G.

Transcriber's note: "Ad majorem Dei gloriam" was the motto of the
Jesuits. It translates toFor the greater glory of God.- JB

Right,said the Franciscanand now speak.

I have a body of troops, composed of 50,000 men; all the officers are
gained over. I am encamped on the Danube. I four days I can overthrow
the emperor, who is, as you are aware, opposed to the progress of our
order, and can replace him by whichever of the princes of his family the
order may determine upon.The Franciscan listenedunmoved.

Is that all?he said.

A revolution throughout Europe is included in my plan,said the baron.

Very well, Monsieur de Wostpur, you will receive a reply; return to your
room, and leave Fontainebleau within a quarter of an hour.The baron
withdrew backwardsas obsequiously as if he were taking leave of the
emperor he was ready to betray.

There is no secret there,murmured the Franciscanit is a plot.
Besides,he addedafter a moment's reflectionthe future of Europe
is no longer in the hands of the House of Austria.

And with a pencil he held in his handhe struck the Baron de Wostpur's
name from the list.

Now for the cardinal,he said; "we ought to get something more serious
from the side of Spain."

Raising his headhe perceived the confessorwho was awaiting his orders
as respectfully as a school-boy.

Ah, ah!he saidnoticing his submissive airyou have been talking
with the landlord.

Yes, monseigneur; and to the physician.

To Grisart?

Yes.


He is here, then?

He is waiting with the potion he promised.

Very well; if I require him, I will call; you now understand the great
importance of my confession, do you not?

Yes, monseigneur.

Then go and fetch me the Spanish Cardinal Herrebia. Make haste. Only,
as you now understand the matter in hand, you will remain near me, for I
begin to feel faint.

Shall I summon the physician?

Not yet, not yet... the Spanish cardinal, no one else. Fly.

Five minutes afterwardsthe cardinalpale and disturbedentered the
little room.

I am informed, monseigneur, - stammered the cardinal.

To the point,said the Franciscanin a faint voiceshowing the
cardinal a letter which he had written to the grand council. "Is that
your handwriting?"

Yes, but -

And your summons?

The cardinal hesitated to answer. His purple revolted against the mean
garb of the poor Franciscanwho stretched out his hand and displayed the
ringwhich produced its effectgreater in proportion to the greatness
of the person over whom the Franciscan exercised his influence.

Quick, the secret, the secret!said the dying manleaning upon his
confessor.

_Coram isto?_inquired the Spanish cardinal.

Transcriber's note: "In the presence of these men?" - JB

Speak in Spanish,said the Franciscanshowing the liveliest attention.

You are aware, monseigneur,said the cardinalcontinuing the
conversation in Castilianthat the condition of the marriage of the
Infanta with the king of France was the absolute renunciation of the
rights of the said Infanta, as well as of King Louis XIV., to all claim
to the crown of Spain.The Franciscan made a sign in the affirmative.

The consequence is,continued the cardinalthat the peace and
alliance between the two kingdoms depend upon the observance of that
clause of the contract.A similar sign from the Franciscan. "Not only
France and Spain continued the cardinal, but the whole of Europe even
would be violently rent asunder by the faithlessness of either party."
Another movement of the dying man's head.

It further results,continued the speakerthat the man who might be
able to foresee events, and to render certain that which is no more than
a vague idea floating in the mind of man, that is to say, the idea of a
future good or evil, would preserve the world from a great catastrophe;
and the event, which has no fixed certainty even in the brain of him who
originated it, could be turned to the advantage of our order.


_Pronto_, _pronto!_murmured the Franciscanin Spanishwho suddenly
became palerand leaned upon the priest. The cardinal approached the
ear of the dying manand saidWell, monseigneur, I know that the king
of France has determined that, at the very first pretext, a death for
instance, either that of the king of Spain, or that of a brother of the
Infanta, France will, arms in hand, claim the inheritance, and I have in
my possession, already prepared, the plan of policy agreed upon by Louis

XIV. for this occasion.
And this plan?said the Franciscan.

Here it is,returned the cardinal.

In whose handwriting is it?

My own.

Have you anything further to say to me?

I think I have said a good deal, my lord,replied the cardinal.

Yes, you have rendered the order a great service. But how did you
procure the details, by the aid of which you have constructed your plan?

I have the under-servants of the king of France in my pay, and I obtain
from them all the waste papers, which have been saved from being burnt.

Very ingenious,murmured the Franciscanendeavoring to smile; "you
will leave this hotelcardinalin a quarter of an hourand a reply
shall be sent you." The cardinal withdrew.

Call Grisart, and desire the Venetian Marini to come,said the sick man.

While the confessor obeyedthe Franciscaninstead of striking out the
cardinal's nameas he had done the baron'smade a cross at the side of
it. Thenexhausted by the efforthe fell back on his bedmurmuring
the name of Dr. Grisart. When he returned to his senseshe had drunk
about half of the potionof which the remainder was left in the glass
and he found himself supported by the physicianwhile the Venetian and
the confessor were standing close to the door. The Venetian submitted to
the same formalities as his two predecessorshesitated as they had done
at the sight of the two strangersbut his confidence restored by the
order of the generalhe revealed that the popeterrified at the power
of the orderwas weaving a plot for the general expulsion of the
Jesuitsand was tampering with the different courts of Europe in order
to obtain their assistance. He described the pontiff's auxiliarieshis
means of actionand indicated the particular locality in the Archipelago
whereby a sudden surprisetwo cardinalsadepts of the eleventh year
andconsequentlyhigh in authoritywere to be transportedtogether
with thirty-two of the principal affiliated members of Rome. The
Franciscan thanked the Signor Marini. It was by no means a slight
service he had rendered the society by denouncing this pontifical
project. The Venetian thereupon received directions to set off in a
quarter of an hourand left as radiant as if he already possessed the
ringthe sign of the supreme authority of the society. Ashoweverhe
was departingthe Franciscan murmured to himself: "All these men are
either spiesor a sort of policenot one of them a general; they have
all discovered a plotbut not one of them a secret. It is not by means
of ruinor waror forcethat the Society of Jesus is to be governed
but by that mysterious influence moral superiority alone confers. No
the man is not yet foundand to complete the misfortuneHeaven strikes
me downand I am dying. Oh! must the society indeed fall with me for
want of a column to support it? Must deathwhich is waiting for me


swallow up with me the future of the order; that future which ten years
more of my own life would have rendered eternal? for that futurewith
the reign of the new kingis opening radiant and full of splendor."
These wordswhich had been half-reflectedhalf-pronounced aloudwere
listened to by the Jesuit confessor with a terror similar to that with
which one listens to the wanderings of a person attacked by feverwhilst
Grisartwith a mind of higher orderdevoured them as the revelations of
an unknown worldin which his looks were plunged without ability to
comprehend. Suddenly the Franciscan recovered himself.

Let us finish this,he said; "death is approaching. Oh! just now I was
dying resignedlyfor I hoped... while now I sink in despairunless
those who remain... GrisartGrisartgive me to live a single hour
longer."

Grisart approached the dying monkand made him swallow a few dropsnot
of the potion which was still left in the glassbut of the contents of a
small bottle he had upon his person.

Call the Scotchman!exclaimed the Franciscan; "call the Bremen
merchant. Callcall quickly. I am dying. I am suffocated."

The confessor darted forward to seek assistanceas if there had been any
human strength which could hold back the hand of deathwhich was
weighing down the sick man; butat the threshold of the doorhe found
Aramiswhowith his finger on his lipslike the statue of Harpocrates
the god of silenceby a look motioned him back to the end of the
apartment. The physician and the confessorafter having consulted each
other by looksmade a movement as if to push Aramis asidewhohowever
with two signs of the crosseach made in a different mannertransfixed
them both in their places.

A chief!they both murmured.

Aramis slowly advanced into the room where the dying man was struggling
against the first attack of the agony which had seized him. As for the
Franciscanwhether owing to the effect of the elixiror whether the
appearance of Aramis had restored his strengthhe made a movementand
his eyes glaringhis mouth half openand his hair damp with sweatsat
up upon the bed. Aramis felt that the air of the room was stifling; the
windows were closed; the fire was burning upon the hearth; a pair of
candles of yellow wax were guttering down in the copper candlesticksand
still further increasedby their thick smokethe temperature of the
room. Aramis opened the windowand fixing upon the dying man a look
full of intelligence and respectsaid to him: "Monseigneurpray forgive
my coming in this mannerbefore you summoned mebut your state alarms
meand I thought you might possibly die before you had seen mefor I
am but the sixth upon your list."

The dying man started and looked at the list.

You are, therefore, he who was formerly called Aramis, and since, the
Chevalier d'Herblay? You are the bishop of Vannes?

Yes, my lord.

I know you, I have seen you.

At the last jubilee, we were with the Holy Father together.

Yes, yes, I remember; and you place yourself on the list of candidates?

Monseigneur, I have heard it said that the order required to become
possessed of a great state secret, and knowing that from modesty you had


in anticipation resigned your functions in favor of the person who should
be the depositary of such a secret, I wrote to say that I was ready to
compete, possessing alone a secret I believe to be important.

Speak,said the Franciscan; "I am ready to listen to youand to judge
the importance of the secret."

A secret of the value of that which I have the honor to confide to you
cannot be communicated by word of mouth. Any idea which, when once
expressed, has thereby lost its safeguard, and has become vulgarized by
any manifestation or communication of it whatever, no longer is the
property of him who gave it birth. My words may be overheard by some
listener, or perhaps by an enemy; one ought not, therefore, to speak at
random, for, in such a case, the secret would cease to be one.

How do you propose, then, to convey your secret?inquired the dying
monk.

With one hand Aramis signed to the physician and the confessor to
withdrawand with the other he handed to the Franciscan a paper enclosed
in a double envelope.

Is not writing more dangerous still than language?

No, my lord,said Aramisfor you will find within this envelope
characters which you and I alone can understand.The Franciscan looked
at Aramis with an astonishment which momentarily increased.

It is a cipher,continued the latterwhich you used in 1655, and
which your secretary, Juan Jujan, who is dead, could alone decipher, if
he were restored to life.

You knew this cipher, then?

It was I who taught it him,said Aramisbowing with a gracefulness
full of respectand advancing towards the door as if to leave the room:
but a gesture of the Franciscan accompanied by a cry for him to remain
restrained him.

_Ecce homo!_he exclaimed; then reading the paper a second timehe
called outApproach, approach quickly!

Aramis returned to the side of the Franciscanwith the same calm
countenance and the same respectful mannerunchanged. The Franciscan
extending his armburnt by the flame of the candle the paper which
Aramis had handed him. Thentaking hold of Aramis's handhe drew him
towards himand inquired: "In what manner and by whose means could you
possibly become acquainted with such a secret?"

Through Madame de Chevreuse, the intimate friend and _confidante_ of the
queen.

And Madame de Chevreuse -

Is dead.

Did any others know it?

A man and a woman only, and they of the lower classes.

Who are they?

Persons who had brought him up.


What has become of them?

Dead also. This secret burns like vitriol.

But you survive?

No one is aware that I know it.

And for what length of time have you possessed this secret?

For the last fifteen years.

And you have kept it?

I wished to live.

And you give it to the order without ambition, without acknowledgement?

I give it to the order with ambition and with a hope of return,said
Aramis; "for if you livemy lordyou will make of menow you know me
what I can and ought to be."

And as I am dying,exclaimed the FranciscanI constitute you my
successor... Thus.And drawing off the ringhe passed it on Aramis's
finger. Thenturning towards the two spectators of this scenehe said:
Be ye witnesses of this, and testify, if need be, that, sick in body,
but sound in mind, I have freely and voluntarily bestowed this ring, the
token of supreme authority, upon Monseigneur d'Herblay, bishop of Vannes,
whom I nominate my successor, and before whom I, an humble sinner, about
to appear before Heaven, prostrate myself, as an example for all to
follow.And the Franciscan bowed lowly and submissivelywhilst the
physician and the Jesuit fell on their knees. Aramiseven while he
became paler than the dying man himselfbent his looks successively upon
all the actors of this scene. Profoundly gratified ambition flowed with
life-blood towards his heart.

We must lose no time,said the Franciscan; "what I had still to do on
earth was urgent. I shall never succeed in carrying it out."

I will do it,said Aramis.

It is well,said the Franciscanand then turning towards the Jesuit
and the doctorhe addedLeave us alone,a direction they instantly
obeyed.

With this sign,he saidyou are the man needed to shake the world
from one end to the other; with this sign you will overthrow; with this
sign you will edify; _in hoc signo vinces!_

Transcriber's note: "By this signyou shall conquer." - JB

Close the door,continued the Franciscan after a pause. Aramis shut
and bolted the doorand returned to the side of the Franciscan.

The pope is conspiring against the order,said the monk; "the pope must
die."

He shall die,said Aramisquietly.

Seven hundred thousand livres are owing to a Bremen merchant of the name
of Bonstett, who came here to get the guarantee of my signature.

He shall be paid,said Aramis.


Six knights of Malta, whose names are written here, have discovered, by
the indiscretion of one of the affiliated of the eleventh year, the three
mysteries; it must be ascertained what else these men have done with the
secret, to get it back again and bury it.

It shall be done.

Three dangerous affiliated members must be sent away into Tibet, there
to perish; they stand condemned. Here are their names.

I will see that the sentence be carried out.

Lastly, there is a lady at Anvers, grand-niece of Ravaillac; she holds
certain papers in her hands that compromise the order. There has been
payable to the family during the last fifty-one years a pension of fifty
thousand livres. The pension is a heavy one, and the order is not
wealthy. Redeem the papers, for a sum of money paid down, or, in case of
refusal, stop the pension - but run no risk.

I will quickly decide what is best to be done,said Aramis.

A vessel chartered from Lima entered the port of Lisbon last week;
ostensibly it is laden with chocolate, in reality with gold. Every ingot
is concealed by a coating of chocolate. The vessel belongs to the order;
it is worth seventeen millions of livres; you will see that it is
claimed; here are the bills of landing.

To what port shall I direct it to be taken?

To Bayonne.

Before three weeks are over it shall be there, wind and weather
permitting. Is that all?The Franciscan made a sign in the
affirmativefor he could no longer speak; the blood rushed to his throat
and his headand gushed from his mouthhis nostrilsand his eyes. The
dying man had barely time to press Aramis's handwhen he fell in
convulsions from his bed upon the floor. Aramis placed his hand upon the
Franciscan's heartbut it had ceased to beat. As he stooped down
Aramis observed that a fragment of the paper he had given the Franciscan
had escaped being burnt. He picked it upand burnt it to the last
atom. Thensummoning the confessor and the physicianhe said to the
former: "Your penitent is in heaven; he needs nothing more than prayers
and the burial bestowed upon the pious dead. Go and prepare what is
necessary for a simple intermentsuch as a poor monk only would
require. Go."

The Jesuit left the room. Thenturning towards the physicianand
observing his pale and anxious facehe saidin a low tone of voice:
Monsieur Grisart, empty and clean this glass; _there is too much left in
it of what the grand council desired you to put in_.

Grisartamazedovercomecompletely astoundedalmost fell backwards in
his extreme terror. Aramis shrugged his shoulders in sign of pitytook
the glassand poured out the contents among the ashes of the hearth. He
then left the roomcarrying the papers of the dead man with him.

Chapter LIV:
A Mission.

The next dayor rather the same day (for the events we have just
described were concluded only at three o'clock in the morning)before
breakfast was servedand as the king was preparing to go to mass with
the two queens; as Monsieurwith the Chevalier de Lorraineand a few


other intimate companionswas mounting his horse to set off for the
riverto take one of those celebrated baths with which the ladies of the
court were so infatuatedasin factno one remained in the chateau
with the exception of Madame whounder the pretext of indisposition
would not leave her room; Montalais was seenor rather not was not seen
to glide stealthily out of the room appropriated to the maids of honor
leading La Valliere after herwho tried to conceal herself as much as
possibleand both of themhurrying secretly through the gardens
succeededlooking round them at every step they tookin reaching the
thicket. The weather was cloudya warm breeze bowed the flowers and the
shrubsthe burning dustswept along in clouds by the windwas whirled
in eddies towards the trees. Montalaiswhoduring their progresshad
discharged the functions of a clever scoutadvanced a few steps further
and turning round againto be quite sure that no one was either
listening or approachingsaid to her companionThank goodness, we are
quite alone! Since yesterday every one spies on us here, and a circle
seems to be drawn round us, as if we were plague-stricken.La Valliere
bent down her head and sighed. "It is positively unheard of continued
Montalais; from M. Malicorne to M. de Saint-Aignanevery one wishes to
get hold of our secret. ComeLouiselet us take counselyou and I
togetherin order that I may know what to do."

La Valliere lifted towards her companion her beautiful eyespure and
deep as the azure of a spring skyAnd I,she saidwill ask you why
we have been summoned to Madame's own room? Why have we slept close to
her apartment, instead of sleeping as usual in our own? Why did you
return so late, and whence are these measures of strict supervision which
have been adopted since this morning, with respect to us both?

My dear Louise, you answer my question by another, or rather, by ten
others, which is not answering me at all. I will tell you all you want
to know later, and as it is of secondary importance, you can wait. What
I ask you - for everything will depend upon that - is, whether there is
or is not any secret?

I do not know if there is any secret,said La Valliere; "but I do know
for my part at leastthat there has been great imprudence committed.
Since the foolish remark I madeand my still more silly fainting
yesterdayevery one here is making remarks about us."

Speak for yourself,said Montalaislaughingspeak for yourself and
for Tonnay-Charente; for both of you made your declarations of love to
the skies, which unfortunately were intercepted.

La Valliere hung down her head. "Really you overwhelm me she said.

I?"

Yes, you torture me with your jests.

Listen to me, Louise. These are no jests, for nothing is more serious;
on the contrary, I did not drag you out of the chateau; I did not miss
attending mass; I did not pretend to have a cold, as Madame did, which
she has no more than I have; and, lastly, I did not display ten times
more diplomacy than M. Colbert inherited from M. de Mazarin, and makes
use of with respect to M. Fouquet, in order to find means of confiding my
perplexities to you, for the sole end and purpose that, when at last we
were alone, with no one to listen to us, you should deal hypocritically
with me. No, no; believe me, that when I ask you a question, it is not
from curiosity alone, but really because the position is a critical one.
What you said yesterday is now known, - it is a text on which every one
is discoursing. Every one embellishes it to the utmost, and according to
his own fancy; you had the honor last night, and you have it still today,
of occupying the whole court, my dear Louise; and the number of


tender and witty remarks which have been ascribed to you, would make
Mademoiselle de Scudery and her brother burst from very spite, if they
were faithfully reported.

But, dearest Montalais,said the poor girlyou know better than any
one exactly what I said, since you were present when I said it.

Yes, I know. But that is not the question. I have not forgotten a
single syllable you uttered, but did you think what you were saying?

Louise became confused. "What she exclaimed, more questions still!
Ohheavens! when I would give the world to forget what I did sayhow
does it happen that every one does all he possibly can to remind me of
it? Ohthis is indeed terrible!"

What is?

To have a friend who ought to spare me, who might advise me and help me
to save myself, and yet who is undoing me - is killing me.

There, there, that will do,said Montalais; "after having said too
littleyou now say too much. No one thinks of killing younor even of
robbing youeven of your secret; I wish to have it voluntarilyand in
no other way; for the question does not concern your own affairs only
but ours also; and Tonnay-Charente would tell you as I doif she were
here. Forthe fact isthat last evening she wished to have some
private conversation in our roomand I was going there after the
Manicamp and Malicorne colloquies terminatedwhen I learnedon my
returnrather lateit is truethat Madame had sequestered her maids of
honorand that we were to sleep in her apartmentsinstead of our own.
MoreoverMadame has shut up her maids of honor in order that they should
not have the time to concert any measures togetherand this morning she
was closeted with Tonnay-Charente with the same object. Tell methen
to what extent Athenais and I can rely upon youas we will tell you in
what way you can rely upon us?"

I do not clearly understand the question you have put,said Louise
much agitated.

Hum! and yet, on the contrary, you seem to understand me very well.
However, I will put my questions in a more precise manner, in order that
you may not be able, in the slightest degree, to evade them. Listen to
me: _Do you love M. de Bragelonne?_ That is plain enough, is it not?

At this questionwhich fell like the first bombshell of a besieging army
into a doomed townLouise started. "You ask me she exclaimed, if I
love Raoulthe friend of my childhood- my brother almost?"

No, no, no! Again you evade me, or rather, you wish to escape me. I do
not ask if you love Raoul, your childhood's friend, - your brother; but I
ask if you love the Vicomte de Bragelonne, your affianced husband?

Good heavens! dear Montalais,said Louisehow severe your tone is!

You deserve no indulgence, - I am neither more nor less severe than
usual. I put a question to you, so answer it.

You certainly do not,said Louisein a choking voicespeak to me
like a friend; but I will answer you as a true friend.

Well, do so.

Very well; my heart is full of scruples and silly feelings of pride,
with respect to everything that a woman ought to keep secret, and in


this respect no one has ever read into the bottom of my soul.

That I know very well. If I had read it, I should not interrogate you
as I have done; I should simply say, - 'My good Louise, you have the
happiness of an acquaintance with M. de Bragelonne, who is an excellent
young man, and an advantageous match for a girl without fortune. M. de
la Fere will leave something like fifteen thousand livres a year to his
son. At a future day, then, you, as this son's wife, will have fifteen
thousand livres a year; which is not bad. Turn, then, neither to the
right hand nor to the left, but go frankly to M. de Bragelonne; that is
to say, to the altar to which he will lead you. Afterwards, why
afterwards, according to his disposition, you will be emancipated or
enslaved; in other words, you will have a right to commit any piece of
folly people commit who have either too much liberty or too little.'
That is, my dear Louise, what I should have told you at first, if I had
been able to read your heart.

And I should have thanked you,stammered out Louisealthough the
advice does not appear to me to be altogether sound.

Wait, wait. But immediately after having given you that advice, I
should have added, - 'Louise, it is very dangerous to pass whole days
with your head drooping, your hands unoccupied, your eyes restless and
full of thought; it is dangerous to prefer the least frequented paths,
and no longer be amused with such diversions as gladden young girls'
hearts; it is dangerous, Louise, to scrawl with the point of your foot,
as you do, upon the gravel, certain letters it is useless for you to
efface, but which appear again under your heel, particularly when those
letters rather resemble the letter L than the letter B; and, lastly, it
is dangerous to allow the mind to dwell on a thousand wild fancies, the
fruits of solitude and heartache; these fancies, while they sink into a
young girl's mind, make her cheeks sink in also, so that it is not
unusual, on such occasions, to find the most delightful persons in the
world become the most disagreeable, and the wittiest to become the
dullest.'

I thank you, dearest Aure,replied La Vallieregently; "it is like you
to speak to me in this mannerand I thank you for it."

It was only for the benefit of wild dreamers, such as I have just
described, that I spoke; do not take any of my words, then, to yourself,
except such as you think you deserve. Stay, I hardly know what story
recurs to my memory of some silly or melancholy girl, who was gradually
pining away because she fancied that the prince, or the king, or the
emperor, whoever it was - and it does not matter much which - had fallen
in love with her; while on the contrary, the prince, or the king, or the
emperor, whichever you please, was plainly in love with some one else,
and - a singular circumstance, one, indeed, which she could not perceive,
although every one around and about her perceived it clearly enough
made use of her as a screen for his own love affair. You laugh as I do,
at this poor silly girl, do you not, Louise?

I? - oh! of course,stammered Louisepale as death.

And you are right, too, for the thing is amusing enough. The story,
whether true or false, amused me, and so I remembered it and told it to
you. Just imagine then, my good Louise, the mischief that such a
melancholy would create in anybody's brain, - a melancholy, I mean, of
that kind. For my own part, I resolved to tell you the story; for if
such a thing were to happen to either of _us_, it would be most essential
to be assured of its truth; to-day it is a snare, to-morrow it would
become a jest and mockery, the next day it would mean death itself.La
Valliere started againand becameif possiblestill paler.


Whenever a king takes notice of us,continued Montalaishe lets us
see it easily enough, and, if we happen to be the object he covets, he
knows very well how to gain his object. You see, then, Louise, that, in
such circumstances, between young girls exposed to such a danger as the
one in question, the most perfect confidence should exist, in order that
those hearts which are not disposed towards melancholy may watch over
those likely to become so.

Silence, silence!said La Valliere; "some one approaches."

Some one is approaching fast, in fact,said Montalais; "but who can it
possibly be? Everybody is awayeither at mass with the kingor bathing
with Monsieur."

At the end of the walk the young girls perceived almost immediately
beneath the arching treesthe graceful carriage and noble stature of a
young manwhowith his sword under his arm and a cloak thrown across
his shouldersbooted and spurred besidessaluted them from the distance
with a gentle smile. "Raoul!" exclaimed Montalais.

M. de Bragelonne!murmured Louise.

A very proper judge to decide upon our difference of opinion,said
Montalais.

Oh! Montalais, Montalais, for pity's sake,exclaimed La Valliere
after having been so cruel, show me a little mercy.These words
uttered with all the fervor of a prayereffaced all trace of ironyif
not from Montalais's heartat least from her face.

Why, you are as handsome as Amadis, Monsieur de Bragelonne,she cried
to Raouland armed and booted like him.

A thousand compliments, young ladies,replied Raoulbowing.

But why, I ask, are you booted in this manner?repeated Montalais
whilst La Vallierealthough she looked at Raoul with a surprise equal to
that of her companionnevertheless uttered not a word.

Why?inquired Raoul.

Yes!ventured Louise.

Because I am about to set off,said Bragelonnelooking at Louise.

The young girl seemed as though smitten by some superstitious feeling of
terrorand tottered. "You are going awayRaoul!" she cried; "and where
are you going?"

Dearest Louise,he repliedwith that quietcomposed manner which was
natural to himI am going to England.

What are you going to do in England?

The king has sent me there.

The king!exclaimed Louise and Aure togetherinvoluntarily exchanging
glancesthe conversation which had just been interrupted recurring to
them both. Raoul intercepted the glancebut could not understand its
meaningandnaturally enoughattributed it to the interest both the
young girls took in him.

His majesty,he saidhas been good enough to remember that the Comte
de la Fere is high in favor with King Charles II. This morning, as he


was on his way to attend mass, the king, seeing me as he passed, signed
to me to approach, which I accordingly did. 'Monsieur de Bragelonne,' he
said to me, 'you will call upon M. Fouquet, who has received from me
letters for the king of Great Britain; you will be the bearer of them.'
I bowed. 'Ah!' his majesty added, 'before you leave, you will be good
enough to take any commissions which Madame may have for the king her
brother.'

Gracious heaven!murmured Louisemuch agitatedand yet full of
thought at the same time.

So quickly! You are desired to set off in such haste!said Montalais
almost paralyzed by this unforeseen event.

Properly to obey those whom we respect,said Raoulit is necessary to
obey quickly. Within ten minutes after I had received the order, I was
ready. Madame, already informed, is writing the letter which she is good
enough to do me the honor of intrusting to me. In the meantime, learning
from Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente that it was likely you would be in
this direction, I came here, and am happy to find you both.

And both of us very sad, as you see,said Montalaisgoing to Louise's
assistancewhose countenance was visibly altered.

Suffering?responded Raoulpressing Louise's hand with a tender
curiosity. "Your hand is like ice."

It is nothing.

This coldness does not reach your heart, Louise, does it?inquired the
young manwith a tender smile. Louise raised her head hastilyas if
the question had been inspired by some suspicionand had aroused a
feeling of remorse.

Oh! you know,she saidwith an effortthat my heart will never be
cold towards a friend like yourself, Monsieur de Bragelonne.

Thank you, Louise. I know both your heart and your mind; it is not by
the touch of the hand that one can judge of an affection like yours. You
know, Louise, how devotedly I love you, with what perfect and unreserved
confidence I reserve my life for you; will you not forgive me, then, for
speaking to you with something like the frankness of a child?

Speak, Monsieur Raoul,said Louisetrembling painfullyI am
listening.

I cannot part from you, carrying away with me a thought that tortures
me; absurd I know it to be, and yet one which rends my very heart.

Are you going away, then, for any length of time?inquired La Valliere
with faltering utterancewhile Montalais turned her head aside.

No; probably I shall not be absent more than a fortnight.La Valliere
pressed her hand upon her heartwhich felt as though it were breaking.

It is strange,pursued Raoullooking at the young girl with a
melancholy expression; "I have often left you when setting off on
adventures fraught with danger. Then I started joyously enough - my
heart freemy mind intoxicated by thoughts of happiness in store for me
hopes of which the future was full; and yet I was about to face the
Spanish cannonor the halberds of the Walloons. To-daywithout the
existence of any danger or uneasinessand by the sunniest path in the
worldI am going in search of a glorious recompensewhich this mark of
the king's favor seems to indicatefor I amperhapsgoing to win


_you_Louise. What other favormore precious than yourselfcould the
king confer upon me? YetLouisein very truth I know not how or why
but this happiness and this future seem to vanish before my very eyes
like mist - like an idle dream; and I feel herehere at the very bottom
of my hearta deep-seated griefa dejection I cannot overcome
something heavypassionlessdeath-like- resembling a corpse. Oh!
Louisetoo well do I know why; it is because I have never loved you so
truly as now. God help me!"

At this last exclamationwhich issued as it were from a broken heart
Louise burst into tearsand threw herself into Montalais's arms. The
latteralthough she was not easily movedfelt the tears rush to her
eyes. Raoul noted only the tears Louise shed; his lookhoweverdid not
penetrate - naysought not to penetrate - beyond those tears. He bent
his knee before herand tenderly kissed her hand; and it was evident
that in that kiss he poured out his whole heart.

Rise, rise,said Montalais to himready to cryfor Athenais is
coming.

Raoul rosebrushed his knee with the back of his handsmiled again upon
Louisewhose eyes were fixed on the groundandhaving pressed
Montalais's hand gratefullyhe turned round to salute Mademoiselle de
Tonnay-Charentethe sound of whose silken robe was already heard upon
the gravel walk. "Has Madame finished her letter?" he inquiredwhen the
young girl came within reach of his voice.

Yes, the letter is finished, sealed, and her royal highness is ready to
receive you.

Raoulat this remarkhardly gave himself time to salute Athenaiscast
one look at Louisebowed to Montalaisand withdrew in the direction of
the chateau. As he withdrew he again turned roundbut at lastat the
end of the grand walkit was useless to do so againas he could no
longer see them. The three young girlson their sidehadwith widely
different feelingswatched him disappear.

At last,said Athenaisthe first to interrupt the silenceat last we
are alone, free to talk of yesterday's great affair, and to come to an
understanding upon the conduct it is advisable for us to pursue.
Besides, if you will listen to me,she continuedlooking round on all
sidesI will explain to you, as briefly as possible, in the first
place, our own duty, such as I imagine it to be, and, if you do not
understand a hint, what is Madame's desire on the subject.And
Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente pronounced these words in such a tone as
to leave no doubtin her companion's mindsupon the official character
with which she was invested.

Madame's desire!exclaimed Montalais and La Valliere together.

Her _ultimatum_,replied Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente
diplomatically.

But,murmured La Vallieredoes Madame know, then -

Madame knows more about the matter than we said, even,said Athenais
in a formalprecise manner. "Therefore let us come to a proper
understanding."

Yes, indeed,said Montalaisand I am listening in breathless
attention.

Gracious heavens!murmured Louisetremblingshall I ever survive
this cruel evening?


Oh! do not frighten yourself in that manner,said Athenais; "we have
found a remedy." Soseating herself between her two companionsand
taking each of them by the handwhich she held in her ownshe began.
The first words were hardly spokewhen they heard a horse galloping away
over the stones of the public high-roadoutside the gates of the chateau.


Chapter LV:
Happy as a Prince.


At the very moment he was about entering the chateauBragelonne met De
Guiche. But before having been met by RaoulDe Guiche had met Manicamp
who had met Malicorne. How was it that Malicorne had met Manicamp?
Nothing more simplefor he had awaited his return from masswhere he
had accompanied M. de Saint-Aignan. When they metthey congratulated
each other upon their good fortuneand Manicamp availed himself of the
circumstance to ask his friend if he had not a few crowns still remaining
at the bottom of his pocket. The latterwithout expressing any surprise
at the questionwhich he perhaps expectedanswered that every pocket
which is always being drawn upon without anything ever being put in it
resembles those wells which supply water during the winterbut which
gardeners render useless by exhausting during the summer; that his
Malicorne'spocket certainly was deepand that there would be a
pleasure in drawing on it in times of plentybut thatunhappilyabuse
had produced barrenness. To this remarkManicampdeep in thoughthad
repliedQuite true!


The question, then, is how to fill it?Malicorne added.


Of course; but in what way?


Nothing easier, my dear Monsieur Manicamp.


So much the better. How?


A post in Monsieur's household, and the pocket is full again.


You have the post?


That is, I have the promise of being nominated.


Well!


Yes; but the promise of nomination, without the post itself, is like a
purse with no money in it.


Quite true,Manicamp replied a second time.


Let us try for the post, then,the candidate had persisted.


My dear fellow,sighed Manicampan appointment in his royal
highness's household is one of the gravest difficulties of our position.


Oh! oh!


There is no question that, at the present moment, we cannot ask Monsieur
for anything.


Why so?
Because we are not on good terms with him.


A great absurdity, too,said Malicornepromptly.



Bah! and if we were to show Madame any attention,said Manicamp
frankly speaking, do you think we should please Monsieur?

Precisely; if we show Madame any attention, and do it adroitly, Monsieur
ought to adore us.

Hum!

Either that or we are great fools. Make haste, therefore, M. Manicamp,
you who are so able a politician, and make M. de Guiche and his royal
highness friendly again.

Tell me, what did M. de Saint-Aignan tell you, Malicorne?

Tell me? nothing; he asked me several questions, and that was all.

Well, was he less discreet, then, with me.

What did he tell you?

That the king is passionately in love with Mademoiselle de la Valliere.

We knew that already,replied Malicorneironically; "and everybody
talks about it loud enough for all to know it; but in the meantimedo
what I advise you; speak to M. de Guicheand endeavor to get him to make
advances to Monsieur. Deuce take it! he owes his royal highness thatat
least."

But we must see De Guiche, then?

There does not seem to be any great difficulty in that; try to see him
in the same way I tried to see you; wait for him; you know that he is
naturally very fond of walking.

Yes; but whereabouts does he walk?

What a question to ask! Do you not know that he is in love with Madame?

So it is said.

Very well; you will find him walking about on the side of the chateau
where her apartments are.

Stay, my dear Malicorne, you were not mistaken, for here he is coming.

Why should I be mistaken? Have you ever noticed that I am in the habit
of making a mistake? Come, we only need to understand each other. Are
you in want of money?

Ah!exclaimed Manicampmournfully.

Well, I want my appointment. Let Malicorne have the appointment, and
Manicamp shall have the money. There is no greater difficulty in the way
than that.

Very well; in that case make yourself easy. I will do my best.

Do.

De Guiche approachedMalicorne stepped asideand Manicamp caught hold
of De Guichewho was thoughtful and melancholy. "Tell memy dear
comtewhat rhyme you were trying to find said Manicamp. I have an
excellent one to match yoursparticularly if yours ends in _ame_."


De Guiche shook his headand recognizing a friendhe took him by the
arm. "My dear Manicamp he said, I am in search of something very
different from a rhyme."

What is it you are looking for?

You will help me to find what I am in search of,continued the comte:
you who are such an idle fellow, in other words, a man with a mind full
of ingenious devices.

I am getting my ingenuity ready, then, my dear comte.

This is the state of the case, then: I wish to approach a particular
house, where I have some business.

You must get near the house, then,said Manicamp.

Very good; but in this house dwells a husband who happens to be jealous.

Is he more jealous than the dog Cerberus?

Not more, but quite as much so.

Has he three mouths, as that obdurate guardian of the infernal regions
had? Do not shrug your shoulders, my dear comte: I put the question to
you with an excellent reason, since poets pretend that, in order to
soften Monsieur Cerberus, the visitor must take something enticing with
him - a cake, for instance. Therefore, I, who view the matter in a
prosaic light, that is to say in the light of reality, I say: one cake is
very little for three mouths. If your jealous husband has three mouths,
comte, get three cakes.

Manicamp, I can get such advice as that from M. de Beautru.

In order to get better advice,said Manicampwith a comical
seriousness of expressionyou will be obliged to adopt a more precise
formula than you have used towards me.

If Raoul were here,said De Guichehe would be sure to understand me.

So I think, particularly if you said to him: 'I should very much like to
see Madame a little nearer, but I fear Monsieur, because he is jealous.'

Manicamp!cried the comteangrilyand endeavoring to overwhelm his
tormentor by a lookwho did nothoweverappear to be in the slightest
degree disturbed by it.

What is the matter now, my dear comte?inquired Manicamp.

What! is it thus you blaspheme the most sacred of names?

What names?

Monsieur! Madame! the highest names in the kingdom.

You are very strangely mistaken, my dear comte. I never mentioned the
highest names in the kingdom. I merely answered you in reference to the
subject of a jealous husband, whose name you did not tell me, and who, as
a matter of course, has a wife. I therefore replied to you, in order to
see Madame, you must get a little more intimate with Monsieur.

Double-dealer that you are,said the comtesmiling; "was that what you
said?"


Nothing else.

Very good; what then?

Now,added Manicamplet the question be regarding the Duchess - or
the Duke -; very well, I shall say: Let us get into the house in some way
or other, for that is a tactic which cannot in any case be unfavorable to
your love affair.

Ah! Manicamp, if you could but find me a pretext, a good pretext.

A pretext; I can find you a hundred, nay, a thousand. If Malicorne were
here, he would have already hit upon a thousand excellent pretexts.

Who is Malicorne?replied De Guichehalf-shutting his eyeslike a
person reflectingI seem to know the name.

Know him! I should think so: you owe his father thirty thousand crowns.

Ah, indeed! so it's that worthy fellow from Orleans.

Whom you promised an appointment in Monsieur's household; not the
jealous husband, but the other.

Well, then, since your friend Malicorne is such an inventive genius, let
him find me a means of being adored by Monsieur, and a pretext to make my
peace with him.

Very good: I'll talk to him about it.

But who is that coming?

The Vicomte de Bragelonne.

Raoul! yes, it is he,said De Guicheas he hastened forward to meet
him. "You hereRaoul?" said De Guiche.

Yes: I was looking for you to say farewell,replied Raoulwarmly
pressing the comte's hand. "How do you doMonsieur Manicamp?"

How is this, vicomte, you are leaving us?

Yes, a mission from the king.

Where are you going?

To London. On leaving you, I am going to Madame; she has a letter to
give me for his majesty, Charles II.

You will find her alone, for Monsieur has gone out; gone to bathe, in
fact.

In that case, you, who are one of Monsieur's gentlemen in waiting, will
undertake to make my excuses to him. I would have waited in order to
receive any directions he might have to give me, if the desire for my
immediate departure had not been intimated to me by M. Fouquet on behalf
of his majesty.

Manicamp touched De Guiche's elbowsayingThere's a pretext for you.

What?

M. de Bragelonne's excuses.


A weak pretext,said De Guiche.

An excellent one, if Monsieur is not angry with you; but a paltry one if
he bears you ill-will.

You are right, Manicamp; a pretext, however poor it may be, is all I
require. And so, a pleasant journey to you, Raoul!And the two friends
took a warm leave of each other.

Five minutes afterwards Raoul entered Madame's apartmentsas
Mademoiselle de Montalais had begged him to do. Madame was still seated
at the table where she had written her letter. Before her was still
burning the rose-colored taper she had used to seal it. Only in her deep
reflectionfor Madame seemed to be buried in thoughtshe had forgotten
to extinguish the light. Bragelonne was a very model of elegance in
every way; it was impossible to see him once without always remembering
him; and not only had Madame seen him oncebut it will not be forgotten
he was one of the very first who had gone to meet herand had
accompanied her from Le Havre to Paris. Madame preserved therefore an
excellent recollection of him.

Ah! M. de Bragelonne,she said to himyou are going to see my
brother, who will be delighted to pay to the son a portion of the debt of
gratitude he contracted with the father.

The Comte de la Fere, Madame, has been abundantly recompensed for the
little service he had the happiness to render the king, by the kindness
manifested towards him, and it is I who will have to convey to his
majesty the assurance of the respect, devotion, and gratitude of both
father and son.

Do you know my brother?

No, your highness; I shall have the honor of seeing his majesty for the
first time.

You require no recommendation to him. At all events, however, if you
have any doubt about your personal merit, take me unhesitatingly for your
surety.

Your royal highness overwhelms me with kindness.

No! M. de Bragelonne, I well remember that we were fellow-travelers
once, and that I remarked your extreme prudence in the midst of the
extravagant absurdities committed, on both sides, by two of the greatest
simpletons in the world, - M. de Guiche and the Duke of Buckingham. Let
us not speak of them, however; but of yourself. Are you going to England
to remain there permanently? Forgive my inquiry: it is not curiosity,
but a desire to be of service to you in anything I can.

No, Madame; I am going to England to fulfil a mission which his majesty
has been kind enough to confide to me - nothing more.

And you propose to return to France?

As soon as I have accomplished my mission; unless, indeed, his majesty,
King Charles II., should have other orders for me.

He well beg you, at the very least, I am sure, to remain near him as
long as possible.

In that case, as I shall not know how to refuse, I will now beforehand
entreat your royal highness to have the goodness to remind the king of


France that one of his devoted servants is far away from him.

Take care that when you _are_ recalled, you do not consider his command
an abuse of power.

I do not understand you, Madame.

The court of France is not easily matched, I am aware, but yet we have
some pretty women at the court of England also.
Raoul smiled.


Oh!said Madameyours is a smile which portends no good to my
countrywomen. It is as though you were telling them, Monsieur de
Bragelonne: 'I visit you, but I leave my heart on the other side of the
Channel.' Did not your smile indicate that?

Your highness is gifted with the power of reading the inmost depths of
the soul, and you will understand, therefore, why, at present, any
prolonged residence at the court of England would be a matter of the
deepest regret.

And I need not inquire if so gallant a knight is recompensed in return?

I have been brought up, Madame, with her whom I love, and I believe our
affection is mutual.

In that case, do not delay your departure, Monsieur de Bragelonne, and
delay not your return, for on your return we shall see two persons happy;
for I hope no obstacle exists to your felicity.

There is a great obstacle, Madame.

Indeed! what is it?
The king's wishes on the subject.


The king opposes your marriage?


He postpones it, at least. I solicited his majesty's consent through
the Comte de la Fere, and, without absolutely refusing it, he positively
said it must be deferred.

Is the young lady whom you love unworthy of you, then?

She is worthy of a king's affection, Madame.
I mean, she is not, perhaps, of birth equal to your own.


Her family is excellent.
Is she young, beautiful?


She is seventeen, and, in my opinion, exceedingly beautiful.
Is she in the country, or at Paris?


She is here at Fontainebleau, Madame.
At the court?


Yes.
Do I know her?



She has the honor to form one of your highness's household.

Her name?inquired the princessanxiously; "if indeed she added,
hastily, her name is not a secret."

No, Madame, my affection is too pure for me to make a secret of it to
any one, and with still greater reason to your royal highness, whose
kindness towards me has been so extreme. It is Mademoiselle Louise de la
Valliere.

Madame could not restrain an exclamationin which a feeling stronger
than surprise might have been detected. "Ah!" she saidLa Valliere -
she who yesterday - she pausedand then continuedshe who was taken
ill, I believe.

Yes, Madame; it was only this morning that I heard of the accident that
had befallen her.

Did you see her before you came to me?

I had the honor of taking leave of her.

And you say,resumed Madamemaking a powerful effort over herself
that the king has - deferred your marriage with this young girl.

Yes, Madame, deferred it.

Did he assign any reason for this postponement?

None.

How long is it since the Comte de la Fere preferred his request to the
king?

More than a month, Madame.

It is very singular,said the princessas something like a film
clouded her eyes.

A month?she repeated.

About a month.

You are right, vicomtesaid the princesswith a smilein which De
Bragelonne might have remarked a kind of restraint; "my brother must not
keep you too long in England; set off at onceand in the first letter I
write to EnglandI will claim you in the king's name." And Madame rose
to place her letter in Bragelonne's hands. Raoul understood that his
audience was at an end; he took the letterbowed lowly to the princess
and left the room.

A month!murmured the princess; "could I have been blindthento so
great an extentand could he have loved her for this last month?" And
as Madame had nothing to doshe sat down to begin a letter to her
brotherthe postscript of which was a summons for Bragelonne to return.

The Comte de Guicheas we have seenhad yielded to the pressing
persuasions of Manicampand allowed himself to be led to the stables
where they desired their horses to be got ready for them; thenby one of
the side pathsa description of which has already been giventhey
advanced to meet Monsieurwhohaving just finished bathingwas
returning towards the chateauwearing a woman's veil to protect his face
from getting burnt by the sunwhich was shining very brightly. Monsieur


was in one of those fits of good humor to which the admiration of his own
good looks sometimes gave occasion. As he was bathing he had been able
to compare the whiteness of his body with that of the courtiersand
thanks to the care which his royal highness took of himselfno onenot
even the Chevalier de Lorrainewas able to stand the comparison.
Monsieurmoreoverhad been tolerably successful in swimmingand his
muscles having been exercised by the healthy immersion in the cool water
he was in a light and cheerful state of mind and body. So thatat the
sight of Guichewho advanced to meet him at a hand gallopmounted upon
a magnificent white horsethe prince could not restrain an exclamation
of delight.

I think matters look well,said Manicampwho fancied he could read
this friendly disposition upon his royal highness's countenance.

Good day, De Guiche, good day,exclaimed the prince.

Long life to your royal highness!replied De Guicheencouraged by the
tone of Philip's voice; "healthjoyhappinessand prosperity to your
highness."

Welcome, De Guiche, come on my right side, but keep your horse in hand,
for I wish to return at a walking pace under the cool shade of these
trees.

As you please, monseigneur,said De Guichetaking his place on the
prince's right as he had been invited to do.

Now, my dear De Guiche,said the princegive me a little news of that
De Guiche whom I used to know formerly, and who used to pay attentions to
my wife.

Guiche blushed to the very whites of his eyeswhile Monsieur burst out
laughingas though he had made the wittiest remark in the world. The
few privileged courtiers who surrounded Monsieur thought it their duty to
follow his examplealthough they had not heard the remarkand a noisy
burst of laughter immediately followedbeginning with the first
courtierpassing on through the whole companyand only terminating with
the last. De Guichealthough blushing scarletput a good countenance
on the matter; Manicamp looked at him.

Ah! monseigneur,replied De Guicheshow a little charity towards such
a miserable fellow as I am: do not hold me up to the ridicule of the
Chevalier de Lorraine.

How do you mean?

If he hears you ridicule me, he will go beyond your highness, and will
show no pity.

About your passion and the princess, do you mean?

For mercy's sake, monseigneur.

Come, come, De Guiche, confess that you _did_ get a little sweet upon
Madame.

I will never confess such a thing, monseigneur.

Out of respect for me, I suppose; but I release you from your respect,
De Guiche. Confess, as if it were simply a question about Mademoiselle
de Chalais or Mademoiselle de la Valliere.

Then breaking offhe saidbeginning to laugh againComte, that wasn't


at all bad! - a remark like a sword, which cuts two ways at once. I hit
you and my brother at the same time, Chalais and La Valliere, your
affianced bride and his future lady love.

Really, monseigneursaid the comteyou are in a most brilliant humor
to-day.

The fact is, I feel well, and then I am pleased to see you again. But
you were angry with me, were you not?

I, monseigneur? Why should I have been so?

Because I interfered with your sarabands and your other Spanish
amusements. Nay, do not deny it. On that day you left the princess's
apartments with your eyes full of fury; that brought you ill-luck, for
you danced in the ballet yesterday in a most wretched manner. Now don't
get sulky, De Guiche, for it does you no good, but makes you look like a
tame bear. If the princess did not look at you attentively yesterday, I
am quite sure of one thing.

What is that, monseigneur? Your highness alarms me.

She has quite forsworn you now,said the princewith a burst of loud
laughter.

Decidedly,thought Manicamprank has nothing to do with it, and all
men are alike.

The prince continued: "At all eventsyou have now returnedand it is to
be hoped that the chevalier will become amiable again."

How so, monseigneur: and by what miracle can I exercise such an
influence over M. de Lorraine?

The matter is very simple, he is jealous of you.

Bah! it is not possible.

It is the case, though.

He does me too much honor.

The fact is, that when you are here, he is full of kindness and
attention, but when you are gone he makes me suffer a perfect martyrdom.
I am like a see-saw. Besides, you do not know the idea that has struck
me?

I do not even suspect it.

Well, then; when you were in exile - for you really were exiled, my poor
De Guiche -

I should think so, indeed; but whose fault was it?said De Guiche
pretending to speak in an angry tone.

Not mine, certainly, my dear comte,replied his royal highnessupon
my honor, I did not ask for the king to exile you -

No, not you, monseigneur, I am well aware; but -

But Madame; well, as far as that goes, I do not say it was not the
case. Why, what the deuce did you do or say to Madame?

Really, monseigneur -


Women, I know, have their grudges, and my wife is not free from caprices
of that nature. But if she were the cause of your being exiled I bear
you no ill-will.

In that case, monseigneur,said De Guiche. "I am not altogether
unhappy."

Manicampwho was following closely behind De Guiche and who did not lose
a word of what the prince was sayingbent down to his very shoulders
over his horse's neckin order to conceal the laughter he could not
repress.

Besides, your exile started a project in my head.

Good.

When the chevalier - finding you were no longer here, and sure of
reigning undisturbed - began to bully me, I, observing that my wife, in
the most perfect contrast to him, was most kind and amiable towards me
who had neglected her so much, the idea occurred to me of becoming a
model husband - a rarity, a curiosity, at the court; and I had an idea of
getting very fond of my wife.

De Guiche looked at the prince with a stupefied expression of
countenancewhich was not assumed.

Oh! monseigneur,De Guiche stammered out; "surelythat never seriously
occurred to you."

Indeed it did. I have some property that my brother gave me on my
marriage; she has some money of her own, and not a little either, for she
gets money from her brother and brother-in-law of England and France at
the same time. Well! we should have left the court. I should have
retired to my chateau at Villers-Cotterets, situated in the middle of a
forest, in which we should have led a most sentimental life in the very
same spot where my grandfather, Henry IV., sojourned with La Belle
Gabrielle. What do you think of that idea, De Guiche?

Why, it is enough to make one shiver, monseigneur,replied De Guiche
who shuddered in reality.

Ah! I see you would never be able to endure being exiled a second time.

I, monseigneur?

I will not carry you off with us, as I had first intended.

What, with you, monseigneur?

Yes; if the idea should occur to me again of taking a dislike to the
court.

Oh! do not let that make any difference, monseigneur; I would follow
your highness to the end of the world.

Clumsy fellow that you are!said Manicampgrumblinglypushing his
horse towards De Guicheso as almost to unseat himand thenas he
passed close to himas if he had lost command over the horsehe
whisperedFor goodness' sake, think what you are saying.

Well, it is agreed, then,said the prince; "since you are so devoted to
meI shall take you with me."


Anywhere, monseigneur,replied De Guiche in a joyous tonewhenever
you like, and at once, too. Are you ready?

And De Guichelaughinglygave his horse the reinand galloped forward
a few yards.

One moment,said the prince. "Let us go to the chateau first."

What for?

Why, to take my wife, of course.

What for?asked De Guiche.

Why, since I tell you that it is a project of conjugal affection, it is
necessary I should take my wife with me.

In that case, monseigneur,replied the comteI am greatly concerned,
but no De Guiche for you.

Bah!

Yes. - Why do you take Madame with you?

Because I begin to fancy I love her,said the prince.

De Guiche turned slightly palebut endeavored to preserve his seeming
cheerfulness.

If you love Madame, monseigneur,he saidthat ought to be quite
enough for you, and you have no further need of your friends.

Not bad, not bad,murmured Manicamp.

There, your fear of Madame has begun again,replied the prince.

Why, monseigneur, I have experienced that to my cost; a woman who was
the cause of my being exiled!

What a revengeful disposition you have, De Guiche, how virulently you
bear malice.

I should like the case to be your own, monseigneur.

Decidedly, then, that was the reason why you danced so badly yesterday;
you wished to revenge yourself, I suppose, by trying to make Madame make
a mistake in her dancing; ah! that is very paltry, De Guiche, and I will
tell Madame of it.

You may tell her whatever you please, monseigneur, for her highness
cannot hate me more than she does.

Nonsense, you are exaggerating; and this because merely of the
fortnight's sojourn in the country she imposed on you.

Monseigneur, a fortnight is a fortnight; and when the time is passed in
getting sick and tired of everything, a fortnight is an eternity.

So that you will not forgive her?

Never!

Come, come, De Guiche, be a better disposed fellow than that. I wish to
make your peace with her; you will find, in conversing with her, that she


has no malice or unkindness in her nature, and that she is very talented.

Monseigneur -

You will see that she can receive her friends like a princess, and laugh
like a citizen's wife; you will see that, when she pleases, she can make
the pleasant hours pass like minutes. Come, De Guiche, you must really
make up your differences with my wife.

Upon my word,said Manicamp to himselfthe prince is a husband whose
wife's name will bring him ill-luck, and King Candaules, of old, was a
tiger beside his royal highness.

At all events,added the princeI am sure you will make it up with my
wife: I guarantee you will do so. Only, I must show you the way now.
There is nothing commonplace about her: it is not every one who takes her
fancy.

Monseigneur -

No resistance, De Guiche, or I shall get out of temper,replied the
prince.

Well, since he will have it so,murmured Manicampin Guiche's eardo
as he wants you to do.

Well, monseigneur,said the comteI obey.

And to begin,resumed the princethere will be cards, this evening,
in Madame's apartment; you will dine with me, and I will take you there
with me.

Oh! as for that, monseigneur,objected De Guicheyou will allow me to
object.

What, again! this is positive rebellion.

Madame received me too indifferently, yesterday, before the whole court.

Really!said the princelaughing.

Nay, so much so, indeed, that she did not even answer me when I
addressed her; it may be a good thing to have no self-respect at all, but
to have too little is not enough, as the saying is.

Comte! after dinner, you will go to your own apartments and dress
yourself, and then you will come to fetch me. I shall wait for you.

Since your highness absolutely commands it.

Positively.

He will not lose his hold,said Manicamp; "these are the things to
which husbands cling most obstinately. Ah! what a pity M. Moliere could
not have heard this man; he would have turned him into verse if he had."

The prince and his courtchatting in this mannerreturned to the
coolest apartments of the chateau.

By the by,said De Guicheas they were standing by the doorI had a
commission for your royal highness.

Execute it, then.


M. de Bragelonne has, by the king's order, set off for London, and he
charged me with his respects for you; monseigneur.

A pleasant journey to the vicomte, whom I like very much. Go and dress
yourself, De Guiche, and come back for me. If you don't come back -

What will happen, monseigneur?

I will have you sent to the Bastile.

Well,said De Guichelaughinghis royal highness, monseigneur, is
decidedly the counterpart of her royal highness, Madame. Madame gets me
sent into exile, because she does not care for me sufficiently; and
monseigneur gets me imprisoned, because he cares for me too much. I
thank monseigneur, and I thank Madame.

Come, come,said the princeyou are a delightful companion, and you
know I cannot do without you. Return as soon as you can.

Very well; but I am in the humor to prove myself difficult to be
pleased, in _my_ turn, monseigneur.

Bah!

So, I will not return to your royal highness, except upon one condition.
Name it.

I want to oblige the friend of one of my friends.
What's his name?

Malicorne.
An ugly name.

But very well borne, monseigneur.
That may be. Well?

Well, I owe M. Malicorne a place in your household, monseigneur.
What kind of a place?

Any kind of a place; a supervision of some sort or another, for
instance.

That happens very fortunately, for yesterday I dismissed my chief usher
of the apartments.

That will do admirably. What are his duties?

Nothing, except to look about and make his report.
A sort of interior police?


Exactly.
Ah, how excellently that will suit Malicorne,Manicamp ventured to say.


You know the person we are speaking of, M. Manicamp?inquired the
prince.

Intimately, monseigneur. He is a friend of mine.


And your opinion is?

That your highness could never get a better usher of the apartments than
he will make.

How much does the appointment bring in?inquired the comte of the
prince.

I don't know at all, only I have always been told that he could make as
much as he pleased when he was thoroughly in earnest.

What do you call being thoroughly in earnest, prince?

It means, of course, when the functionary in question is a man who has
his wits about him.

In that case I think your highness will be content, for Malicorne is as
sharp as the devil himself.

Good! the appointment will be an expensive one for me, in that case,
replied the princelaughing. "You are making me a positive present
comte."

I believe so, monseigneur.

Well, go and announce to your M. Melicorne -

Malicorne, monseigneur.

I shall never get hold of that name.

You say Manicamp very well, monseigneur.

Oh, I ought to say Malicorne very well, too. The alliteration will help
me.

Say what you like, monseigneur, I can promise you your inspector of
apartments will not be annoyed; he has the very happiest disposition that
can be met with.

Well, then, my dear De Guiche, inform him of his nomination. But, stay

-
What is it, monseigneur?

I wish to see him beforehand; if he be as ugly as his name, I retract
every word I have said.

Your highness knows him, for you have already seen him at the Palais
Royal; nay, indeed, it was I who presented him to you.

Ah, I remember now - not a bad-looking fellow.

I know you must have noticed him, monseigneur.

Yes, yes, yes. You see, De Guiche, I do not wish that either my wife or
myself should have ugly faces before our eyes. My wife will have all her
maids of honor pretty; I, all the gentlemen about me good-looking. In
this way, De Guiche, you see, that any children we may have will run a
good chance of being pretty, if my wife and myself have handsome models
before us.

Most magnificently argued, monseigneur,said Manicampshowing his


approval by look and voice at the same time.


As for De Guichehe very probably did not find the argument so
convincingfor he merely signified his opinion by a gesturewhich
moreoverexhibited in a marked manner some indecision of mind on the
subject. Manicamp went off to inform Malicorne of the good news he had
just learned. De Guiche seemed very unwilling to take his departure for
the purpose of dressing himself. Monsieursinginglaughingand
admiring himselfpassed away the time until the dinner-hourin a frame
of mind that justified the proverb of "Happy as a prince."


Chapter LVI:
Story of a Dryad and a Naiad.


Every one had partaken of the banquet at the chateauand afterwards
assumed their full court dresses. The usual hour for the repast was five
o'clock. If we saythenthat the repast occupied an hourand the
toilette two hourseverybody was ready about eight o'clock in the
evening. Towards eight o'clockthenthe guests began to arrive at
Madame'sfor we have already intimated that it was Madame who "received"
that evening. And at Madame's _soirees_ no one failed to be present; for
the evenings passed in her apartments always had that perfect charm about
them which the queenthat pious and excellent princesshad not been
able to confer upon her _reunions_. Forunfortunatelyone of the
advantages of goodness of disposition is that it is far less amusing than
wit of an ill-natured character. And yetlet us hasten to addthat
such a style of wit could not be assigned to Madamefor her disposition
of mindnaturally of the very highest ordercomprised too much true
generositytoo many noble impulses and high-souled thoughtsto warrant
her being termed ill-natured. But Madame was endowed with a spirit of
resistance - a gift frequently fatal to its possessorfor it breaks
where another disposition would have bent; the result was that blows did
not become deadened upon her as upon what might be termed the cotton-
wadded feelings of Maria Theresa. Her heart rebounded at each attack
and thereforewhenever she was attackedeven in a manner that almost
stunned hershe returned blow for blow to any one imprudent enough to
tilt against her.


Was this really maliciousness of disposition or simply waywardness of
character? We regard those rich and powerful natures as like the tree of
knowledgeproducing good and evil at the same time; a double branch
always blooming and fruitfulof which those who wish to eat know how to
detect the good fruitand from which the worthless and frivolous die who
have eaten of it - a circumstance which is by no means to be regarded as
a great misfortune. Madamethereforewho had a well-disguised plan in
her mind of constituting herself the secondif not even the principal
queen of the courtrendered her receptions delightful to allfrom the
conversationthe opportunities of meetingand the perfect liberty she
allowed every one of making any remark he pleasedon the condition
howeverthat the remark was amusing or sensible. And it will hardly be
believedthatby that meansthere was less talking among the society
Madame assembled together than elsewhere. Madame hated people who talked
muchand took a remarkably cruel revenge upon themfor she allowed them
to talk. She disliked pretensiontooand never overlooked that defect
even in the king himself. It was more than a weakness of Monsieurand
the princess had undertaken the amazing task of curing him of it. As
for the restpoetswitsbeautiful womenall were received by her with
the air of a mistress superior to her slaves. Sufficiently meditative in
her liveliest humors to make even poets meditate; sufficiently pretty to
dazzle by her attractionseven among the prettiest; sufficiently witty
for the most distinguished persons who were presentto be listened to
with pleasure - it will easily be believed that the _reunions_ held in
Madame's apartments must naturally have proved very attractive. All who



were young flocked thereand when the king himself happens to be young
everybody at court is so too. And sothe older ladies of the courtthe
strong-minded women of the regencyor of the last reignpouted and
sulked at their ease; but others only laughed at the fits of sulkiness in
which these venerable individuals indulgedwho had carried the love of
authority so far as even to take command of bodies of soldiers in the
wars of the Frondein orderas Madame assertednot to lose their
influence over men altogether. As eight o'clock struck her royal
highness entered the great drawing-room accompanied by her ladies in
attendanceand found several gentlemen belonging to the court already
therehaving been waiting for some minutes. Among those who had arrived
before the hour fixed for the reception she looked round for one whoshe
thoughtought to have been first in attendancebut he was not there.
Howeveralmost at the very moment she completed her investigation
Monsieur was announced. Monsieur looked splendid. All the precious
stones and jewels of Cardinal Mazarinwhich of course that minister
could not do otherwise than leave; all the queen-mother's jewels as well
as a few belonging to his wife - Monsieur wore them alland he was as
dazzling as the rising sun. Behind him followed De Guichewith
hesitating steps and an air of contrition admirably assumed; De Guiche
wore a costume of French-gray velvetembroidered with silverand
trimmed with blue ribbons: he wore also Mechlin lace as rare and
beautiful in its own way as the jewels of Monsieur in theirs. The plume
in his hat was red. Madametoowore several colorsand preferred red
for embroiderygray for dressand blue for flowers. M. de Guiche
dressed as we have describedlooked so handsome that he excited every
one's observation. An interesting pallor of complexiona languid
expression of the eyeshis white hands seen through the masses of lace
that covered themthe melancholy expression of his mouth - it was only
necessaryindeedto see M. de Guiche to admit that few men at the court
of France could hope to equal him. The consequence was that Monsieur
who was pretentious enough to fancy he could eclipse a star evenif a
star had adorned itself in a similar manner to himselfwason the
contrarycompletely eclipsed in all imaginationswhich are silent
judges certainlybut very positive and firm in their convictions.
Madame looked at De Guiche lightlybut light as her look had beenit
brought a delightful color to his face. In factMadame found De Guiche
so handsome and so admirably dressedthat she almost ceased regretting
the royal conquest she felt she was on the point of escaping her. Her
heartthereforesent the blood to her face. Monsieur approached her.
He had not noticed the princess's blushor if he had seen ithe was far
from attributing it to its true cause.

Madame,he saidkissing his wife's handthere is some one present
here, who has fallen into disgrace, an unhappy exile whom I venture to
recommend to your kindness. Do not forget, I beg, that he is one of my
best friends, and that a gentle reception of him will please me greatly.

What exile? what disgraced person are you speaking of?inquired Madame
looking all roundand not permitting her glance to rest more on the
count than on the others.

This was the moment to present De Guicheand the prince drew aside and
let De Guiche pass himwhowith a tolerably well-assumed awkwardness of
mannerapproached Madame and made his reverence to her.

What!exclaimed Madameas if she were greatly surprisedis M. de
Guiche the disgraced individual you speak of, the exile in question?

Yes, certainly,returned the duke.

Indeed,said Madamehe seems almost the only person here!

You are unjust, Madame,said the prince.


I?

Certainly. Come, forgive the poor fellow.

Forgive him what? What have I to forgive M. de Guiche?

Come, explain yourself, De Guiche. What do you wish to be forgiven?
inquired the prince.

Alas! her royal highness knows very well what it is,replied the
latterin a hypocritical tone.

Come, come, give him your hand, Madame,said Philip.

If it will give you any pleasure, Monsieur,andwith a movement of her
eyes and shoulderswhich it would be impossible to describeMadame
extended towards the young man her beautiful and perfumed handupon
which he pressed his lips. It was evident that he did so for some little
timeand that Madame did not withdraw her hand too quicklyfor the duke
added:

De Guiche is not wickedly disposed, Madame; so do not be afraid, he will
not bite you.

A pretext was given in the gallery by the duke's remarkwhich was not
perhapsvery laughablefor every one to laugh excessively. The
situation was odd enoughand some kindly disposed persons had observed
it. Monsieur was still enjoying the effect of his remarkwhen the king
was announced. The appearance of the room at that moment was as follows:

-in the centerbefore the fireplacewhich was filled with flowers
Madame was standing upwith her maids of honor formed in two wingson
either side of her; around whom the butterflies of the court were
fluttering. Several other groups were formed in the recesses of the
windowslike soldiers stationed in their different towers who belong to
the same garrison. From their respective places they could pick up the
remarks which fell from the principal group. From one of these groups
the nearest to the fireplaceMalicornewho had been at once raised to
the dignitythrough Manicamp and De Guicheof the post of master of the
apartmentsand whose official costume had been ready for the last two
monthswas brilliant with gold laceand shone upon Montalaisstanding
on Madame's extreme leftwith all the fire of his eyes and splendor of
his velvet. Madame was conversing with Mademoiselle de Chatillon and
Mademoiselle de Crequywho were next to herand addressed a few words
to Monsieurwho drew aside as soon as the king was announced.
Mademoiselle de la Vallierelike Montalaiswas on Madame's left hand
and the last but one on the lineMademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente being
on her right. She was stationed as certain bodies of troops arewhose
weakness is suspectedand who are placed between two experienced
regiments. Guarded in this manner by the companions who had shared her
adventureLa Vallierewhether from regret at Raoul's departureor
still suffering from the emotion caused by recent eventswhich had begun
to render her name familiar on the lips of the courtiersLa Vallierewe
repeathid her eyesred with weepingbehind her fanand seemed to
give the greatest attention to the remarks which Montalais and Athenais
alternatelywhispered to her from time to time. As soon as the king's
name was announced a general movement took place in the apartment.
Madamein her character as hostessrose to receive the royal visitor;
but as she rosenotwithstanding her preoccupation of mindshe glanced
hastily towards her right; her glancewhich the presumptuous De Guiche
regarded as intended for himselfrestedas it swept over the whole
circleupon La Vallierewhose warm blush and restless emotion it
instantly perceived.

The king advanced to the middle of the groupwhich had now become a
general oneby a movement which took place from the circumference to the
center. Every head bowed low before his majestythe ladies bending like
frailmagnificent lilies before King Aquilo. There was nothing very
severewe will even saynothing very royal that evening about the king
except youth and good looks. He wore an air of animated joyousness and
good-humor which set all imaginations at workandthereuponall
present promised themselves a delightful eveningfor no other reason
than from having remarked the desire his majesty had to amuse himself in
Madame's apartments. If there was any one in particular whose high
spirits and good-humor equalled the king'sit was M. de Saint-Aignan
who was dressed in a rose-colored costumewith face and ribbons of the
same colorandin additionparticularly rose-colored in his ideasfor
that evening M. de Saint-Aignan was prolific in jests. The circumstance
which had given a new expansion to the numerous ideas germinating in his
fertile brain wasthat he had just perceived that Mademoiselle de Tonnay-
Charente waslike himselfdressed in rose-color. We would not wish to
sayhoweverthat the wily courtier had not know beforehand that the
beautiful Athenais was to wear that particular color; for he very well
knew the art of unlocking the lips of a dress-maker or a lady's maid as
to her mistress's intentions. He cast as many killing glances at
Mademoiselle Athenais as he had bows of ribbons on his stockings and
doublet; in other words he discharged a prodigious number. The king
having paid Madame the customary complimentsand Madame having requested
him to be seatedthe circle was immediately formed. Louis inquired of
Monsieur the particulars of the day's bathing; and statedlooking at the
ladies present while he spokethat certain poets were engaged turning
into verse the enchanting diversion of the baths of Vulainesand that
one of them particularlyM. Loretseemed to have been intrusted with
the confidence of some water-nymphas he had in his verses recounted
many circumstances that were actually true - at which remark more than
one lady present felt herself bound to blush. The king at this moment
took the opportunity of looking round him at more leisure; Montalais was
the only one who did not blush sufficiently to prevent her looking at the
kingand she saw him fix his eyes devouringly on Mademoiselle de la
Valliere. This undaunted maid of honorMademoiselle de Montalaisbe it
understoodforced the king to lower his gazeand so saved Louise de la
Valliere from a sympathetic warmth of feeling this gaze might possibly
have conveyed. Louis was appropriated by Madamewho overwhelmed him
with inquiriesand no one in the world knew how to ask questions better
than she did. He triedhoweverto render the conversation general
andwith the view of effecting thishe redoubled his attention and
devotion to her. Madame coveted complimentary remarksanddetermined
to procure them at any costshe addressed herself to the kingsaying:

Sire, your majesty, who is aware of everything which occurs in your
kingdom, ought to know beforehand the verses confided to M. Loret by this
nymph; will your majesty kindly communicate them to us?

Madame,replied the kingwith perfect grace of mannerI dare not -
you, personally, might be in no little degree confused at having to
listen to certain details - but Saint-Aignan tells a story well, and has
a perfect recollection of the verses. If he does not remember them, he
will invent. I can certify he is almost a poet himself.Saint-Aignan
thus brought prominently forwardwas compelled to introduce himself as
advantageously as possible. Unfortunatelyhoweverfor Madamehe
thought of his own personal affairs only; in other wordsinstead of
paying Madame the compliments she so much desired and relishedhis mind
was fixed upon making as much display as possible of his own good
fortune. Again glancingthereforefor the hundredth time at the
beautiful Athenaiswho carried into practice her previous evening's
theory of not even deigning to look at her adorerhe said:


Your majesty will perhaps pardon me for having too indifferently


remembered the verses which the nymph dictated to Loret; but if the king
has not retained any recollection of them, how could I possibly remember?

Madame did not receive this shortcoming of the courtier very favorably.

Ah! madame,added Saint-Aignanat present it is no longer a question
what the water-nymphs have to say; and one would almost be tempted to
believe that nothing of any interest now occurs in those liquid realms.
It is upon earth, madame, important events happen. Ah! Madame, upon the
earth, how many tales are there full of -

Well,said Madameand what is taking place upon the earth?

That question must be asked of the Dryads,replied the comte; "the
Dryads inhabit the forestas your royal highness is aware."

I am aware also, that they are naturally very talkative, Monsieur de
Saint-Aignan.

Such is the case, Madame; but when they say such delightful things, it
would be ungracious to accuse them of being too talkative.

Do they talk so delightfully, then?inquired the princess
indifferently. "ReallyMonsieur de Saint-Aignanyou excite my
curiosity; andif I were the kingI would require you immediately to
tell us what the delightful things are these Dryads have been saying
since you alone seem to understand their language."

I am at his majesty's orders, Madame, in that respect,replied the
comtequickly.

What a fortunate fellow this Saint-Aignan is to understand the language
of the Dryads,said Monsieur.

I understand it perfectly, monseigneur, as I do my own language.

Tell us all about them, then,said Madame.

The king felt embarrassedfor his confidant wasin all probability
about to embark in a difficult matter. He felt that it would be sofrom
the general attention excited by Saint-Aignan's preambleand aroused too
by Madame's peculiar manner. The most reserved of those who were present
seemed ready to devour every syllable the comte was about to pronounce.
They cougheddrew closer togetherlooked curiously at some of the maids
of honorwhoin order to support with greater proprietyor with more
steadinessthe fixity of the inquisitorial looks bent upon them
adjusted their fans accordinglyand assumed the bearing of a duelist
about to be exposed to his adversary's fire. At this epochthe fashion
of ingeniously constructed conversationsand hazardously dangerous
recitalsso prevailedthatwherein modern timesa whole company
assembled in a drawing-room would begin to suspect some scandalor
disclosureor tragic eventand would hurry away in dismayMadame's
guests quietly settled themselves in their placesin order not to lose a
word or gesture of the comedy composed by Monsieur de Saint-Aignan for
their benefitand the termination of whichwhatever the style and the
plot might bemustas a matter of coursebe marked by the most perfect
propriety. The comte as known as a man of extreme refinementand an
admirable narrator. He courageously beganthenamidst a profound
silencewhich would have been formidable to any one but himself: -
Madame, by the king's permission, I address myself, in the first place,
to your royal highness, since you admit yourself to be the person present
possessing the greatest curiosity. I have the honor, therefore, to
inform your royal highness that the Dryad more particularly inhabits the
hollows of oaks; and, as Dryads are mythological creatures of great


beauty, they inhabit the most beautiful trees, in other words, the
largest to be found.

At this exordiumwhich recalledunder a transparent veilthe
celebrated story of the royal oakwhich had played so important a part
in the last eveningso many hearts began to beatboth from joy and
uneasinessthatif Saint-Aignan had not had a good and sonorous voice
their throbbings might have been heard above the sound of his voice.

There must surely be Dryads at Fontainebleau, then,said Madamein a
perfectly calm voice; "for I have neverin all my lifeseen finer oaks
than in the royal park." And as she spokeshe directed towards De
Guiche a look of which he had no reason to complainas he had of the one
that preceded it; whichas we have already mentionedhad reserved a
certain amount of indefiniteness most painful for so loving a heart as
his.

Precisely, Madame, it is of Fontainebleau I was about to speak to your
royal highness,said Saint-Aignan; "for the Dryad whose story is
engaging our attentionlives in the park belonging to the chateau of his
majesty."

The affair was fairly embarked on; the action was begunand it was no
longer possible for auditory or narrator to draw back.

It will be worth listening to,said Madame; "for the story not only
appears to me to have all the interest of a national incidentbut still
moreseems to be a circumstance of very recent occurrence."

I ought to begin at the beginning,said the comte. "In the first
placethenthere lived at Fontainebleauin a cottage of modest and
unassuming appearancetwo shepherds. The one was the shepherd Tyrcis
the owner of extensive domains transmitted to him from his parentsby
right of inheritance. Tyrcis was young and handsomeandfrom his many
qualificationshe might be pronounced to be the first and foremost among
the shepherds in the whole country; one might even boldly say he was the
king of shepherds." A subdued murmur of approbation encouraged the
narratorwho continued: - "His strength equals his courage; no one
displays greater address in hunting wild beastsnor greater wisdom in
matters where judgment is required. Whenever he mounts and exercises his
horse in the beautiful plains of his inheritanceor whenever he joins
with the shepherds who owe him allegiancein different games of skill
and strengthone might say that it is the god Mars hurling his lance on
the plains of Thraceoreven betterthat it was Apollo himselfthe
god of dayradiant upon earthbearing his flaming darts in his hand."
Every one understood that this allegorical portrait of the king was not
the worst exordium the narrator could have chosen; and consequently it
did not fail to produce its effecteither upon those whofrom duty or
inclinationapplauded it to the very echoor on the king himselfto
whom flattery was very agreeable when delicately conveyedand whom
indeedit did not always displeaseeven when it was a little too
broad. Saint-Aignan then continued: - "It is not in games of glory only
ladiesthat the shepherd Tyrcis had acquired that reputation by which he
was regarded as the king of the shepherds."

Of the shepherds of Fontainebleau,said the kingsmilinglyto Madame.

Oh!exclaimed MadameFontainebleau is selected arbitrarily by the
poet; but I should say, of the shepherds of the whole world.The king
forgot his part of a passive auditorand bowed.

It is,paused Saint-Aignanamidst a flattering murmur of applauseit
is with ladies fair especially that the qualities of this king of the
shepherds are most prominently displayed. He is a shepherd with a mind


as refined as his heart is pure; he can pay a compliment with a charm of
manner whose fascination it is impossible to resist; and in his
attachments he is so discreet, that beautiful and happy conquests may
regard their lot as more than enviable. Never a syllable of disclosure,
never a moment's forgetfulness. Whoever has seen and heard Tyrcis must
love him; whoever loves and is beloved by him, has indeed found
happiness.Saint-Aignan here paused; he was enjoying the pleasure of
all these compliments; and the portrait he had drawnhowever grotesquely
inflated it might behad found favor in certain earsin which the
perfections of the shepherd did not seem to have been exaggerated.
Madame begged the orator to continue. "Tyrcis said the comte, had a
faithful companionor rather a devoted servantwhose name was -
Amyntas."

Ah!said Madamearchlynow for the portrait of Amyntas; you are such
an excellent painter, Monsieur de Saint-Aignan.

Madame -

Oh! comte, do not, I entreat you, sacrifice poor Amyntas; I should never
forgive you.

Madame, Amyntas is of too humble a position, particularly beside Tyrcis,
for his person to be honored by a parallel. There are certain friends
who resemble those followers of ancient times, who caused themselves to
be buried alive at their masters' feet. Amyntas's place, too, is at the
feet of Tyrcis; he cares for no other; and if, sometimes, the illustrious
hero -

Illustrious shepherd, you mean?said Madamepretending to correct M.
de Saint-Aignan.

Your royal highness is right; I was mistaken,returned the courtier;
if, I say, the shepherd Tyrcis deigns occasionally to call Amyntas his
friend, and to open his heart to him, it is an unparalleled favor, which
the latter regards as the most unbounded felicity.

All that you say,interrupted Madameestablishes the extreme devotion
of Amyntas to Tyrcis, but does not furnish us with the portrait of
Amyntas. Comte, do not flatter him, if you like; but describe him to
us. I will have Amyntas's portrait.Saint-Aignan obeyedafter having
bowed profoundly to his majesty's sister-in-law.

Amyntas,he saidis somewhat older than Tyrcis; he is not an illfavored
shepherd; it is even said that the muses condescended to smile
upon him at his birth, even as Hebe smiled upon youth. He is not
ambitious of display, but he is ambitious of being loved; and he might
not, perhaps, he found unworthy of it, if he were only sufficiently wellknown.


This latter paragraphstrengthened by a killing glancewas directed
straight to Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charentewho received them both
unmoved. But the modesty and tact of the allusion had produced a good
effect; Amyntas reaped the benefit of it in the applause bestowed upon
him: Tyrcis's head even gave the signal for it by a consenting bowfull
of good feeling.

One evening,continued Saint-AignanTyrcis and Amyntas were walking
together in the forest, talking of their love disappointments. Do not
forget, ladies, that the story of the Dryad is now beginning, otherwise
it would be easy to tell you what Tyrcis and Amyntas, the two most
discreet shepherds of the whole earth, were talking about. They reached
the thickest part of the forest, for the purpose of being quite alone,
and of confiding their troubles more freely to each other, when suddenly


the sound of voices struck upon their ears.

Ah, ah!said those who surrounded the narrator. "Nothing can be more
interesting."

At this pointMadamelike a vigilant general inspecting his army
glanced at Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charentewho could not help wincing as
they drew themselves up.

These harmonious voices,resumed Saint-Aignanwere those of certain
shepherdesses, who had been likewise desirous of enjoying the coolness of
the shade, and who, knowing the isolated and almost unapproachable
situation of the place, had betaken themselves there to interchange their
ideas upon - A loud burst of laughter occasioned by this remark of
Saint-Aignanand an imperceptible smile of the kingas he looked at
Tonnay-Charentefollowed this sally.

The Dryad affirms positively,continued Saint-Aignanthat the
shepherdesses were three in number, and that all three were young and
beautiful.

What were their names?said Madamequickly.

Their names?said Saint-Aignanwho hesitated from fear of committing
an indiscretion.

Of course; you call your shepherds Tyrcis and Amyntas; give your
shepherdesses names in a similar manner.

Oh! Madame, I am not an inventor; I relate simply what took place as
the Dryad related it to me.

What did your Dryad, then, call these shepherdesses? You have a very
treacherous memory, I fear. This Dryad must have fallen out with the
goddess Mnemosyne.

These shepherdesses, Madame? Pray remember that it is a crime to betray
a woman's name.

From which a woman absolves you, comte, on the condition that you will
reveal the names of the shepherdesses.

Their names were Phyllis, Amaryllis, and Galatea.

Exceedingly well! - they have not lost by the delay,said Madameand
now we have three charming names. But now for their portraits.

Saint-Aignan again made a slight movement.

Nay, comte, let us proceed in due order,returned Madame. "Ought we
notsireto have the portraits of the shepherdesses?"

The kingwho expected this determined perseveranceand who began to
feel some uneasinessdid not think it safe to provoke so dangerous an
interrogator. He thoughttoothat Saint-Aignanin drawing the
portraitswould find a means of insinuating some flattering allusions
which would be agreeable to the ears of one his majesty was interested in
pleasing. It was with this hope and with this fear that Louis authorized
Saint-Aignan to sketch the portraits of the shepherdessesPhyllis
Amaryllisand Galatea.

Very well, then; be it so,said Saint-Aignanlike a man who has made
up his mindand he began.


Chapter LVII:
Conclusion of the Story of a Naiad and of a Dryad.


Phyllis,said Saint-Aignanwith a glance of defiance at Montalais
such as a fencing-master would give who invites an antagonist worthy of
him to place himself on guardPhyllis is neither fair nor dark, neither
tall nor short, neither too grave nor too gay; though but a shepherdess,
she is as witty as a princess, and as coquettish as the most finished
flirt that ever lived. Nothing can equal her excellent vision. Her
heart yearns for everything her gaze embraces. She is like a bird,
which, always warbling, at one moment skims the ground, at the next rises
fluttering in pursuit of a butterfly, then rests itself upon the topmost
branch of a tree, where it defies the bird-catchers either to come and
seize it or to entrap it in their nets.The portrait bore such a strong
resemblance to Montalaisthat all eyes were directed towards her; she
howeverwith her head raisedand with a steadyunmoved looklistened
to Saint-Aignanas if he were speaking of an utter stranger.


Is that all, Monsieur de Saint-Aignan?inquired the princess.


Oh! your royal highness, the portrait is but a mere sketch, and many
more additions could be made, but I fear to weary your patience, or
offend the modesty of the shepherdess, and I shall therefore pass on to
her companion, Amaryllis.


Very well,said Madamepass on to Amaryllis, Monsieur de Saint-
Aignan, we are all attention.


Amaryllis is the eldest of the three, and yet,Saint-Aignan hastened to
addthis advanced age does not reach twenty years.


Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charentewho had slightly knitted her brows at
the commencement of the descriptionunbent them with a smile.


She is tall, with an astonishing abundance of beautiful hair, which she
fastens in the manner of the Grecian statues; her walk is full of
majesty, her attitude haughty; she has the air, therefore, rather of a
goddess than a mere mortal, and among the goddesses, she most resembles
Diana the huntress; with this sole difference, however, that the cruel
shepherdess, having stolen the quiver of young love, while poor Cupid was
sleeping in a thicket of roses, instead of directing her arrows against
the inhabitants of the forest, discharges them pitilessly against all
poor shepherds who pass within reach of her bow and of her eyes.


Oh! what a wicked shepherdess!said Madame. "She may some day wound
herself with one of those arrows she dischargesas you sayso
mercilessly on all sides."


It is the hope of shepherds, one and all!said Saint-Aignan.


And that of the shepherd Amyntas in particular, I suppose?said Madame.


The shepherd Amyntas is so timid,said Saint-Aignanwith the most
modest air he could assumethat if he cherishes such a hope as that, no
one has ever known anything about it, for he conceals it in the very
depths of his heart.A flattering murmur of applause greeted this
profession of faith on behalf of the shepherd.


And Galatea?inquired Madame. "I am impatient to see a hand so
skillful as yours continue the portrait where Virgil left itand finish
it before our eyes."


Madame,said Saint-AignanI am indeed a poor dumb post beside the



mighty Virgil. Still, encouraged by your desire, I will do my best.

Saint-Aignan extended his foot and handand thus began: - "White as
milkshe casts upon the breeze the perfume of her fair hair tinged with
golden huesas are the ears of corn. One is tempted to inquire if she
is not the beautiful Europawho inspired Jupiter with a tender passion
as she played with her companions in the flower-spangled meadows. From
her exquisite eyesblue as azure heaven on the clearest summer day
emanates a tender lightwhich reverie nurturesand love dispenses.
When she frownsor bends her looks towards the groundthe sun is veiled
in token of mourning. When she smileson the contrarynature resumes
her jollityand the birdsfor a brief moment silencedrecommence their
songs amid the leafy covert of the trees. Galatea said Saint-Aignan,
in conclusion, is worthy of the admiration of the whole world; and if
she should ever bestow her heart upon anotherhappy will that man be to
whom she consecrates her first affections."

Madamewho had attentively listened to the portrait Saint-Aignan had
drawnasindeedhad all the otherscontented herself with
accentuating her approbation of the most poetic passage by occasional
inclinations of her head; but it was impossible to say if these marks of
assent were accorded to the ability of the narrator of the resemblance of
the portrait. The consequencethereforewasthat as Madame did not
openly exhibit any approbationno one felt authorized to applaudnot
even Monsieurwho secretly thought that Saint-Aignan dwelt too much upon
the portraits of the shepherdessesand had somewhat slightingly passed
over the portraits of the shepherds. The whole assembly seemed suddenly
chilled. Saint-Aignanwho had exhausted his rhetorical skill and his
palette of artistic tints in sketching the portrait of Galateaand who
after the favor with which his other descriptions had been received
already imagined he could hear the loudest applause allotted to this last
onewas himself more disappointed than the king and the rest of the
company. A moment's silence followedwhich was at last broken by Madame.

Well, sir,she inquiredWhat is your majesty's opinion of these
three portraits?

The kingwho wished to relieve Saint-Aignan's embarrassment without
compromising himselfrepliedWhy, Amaryllis, in my opinion, is
beautiful.

For my part,said MonsieurI prefer Phyllis; she is a capital girl,
or rather a good-sort-of-fellow of a nymph.

A gentle laugh followedand this time the looks were so directthat
Montalais felt herself blushing almost scarlet.

Well,resumed Madamewhat were those shepherdesses saying to each
other?

Saint-Aignanhoweverwhose vanity had been woundeddid not feel
himself in a position to sustain an attack of new and refreshed troops
and merely saidMadame, the shepherdesses were confiding to one another
their little preferences.

Nay, nay! Monsieur de Saint-Aignan, you are a perfect stream of
pastoral poesy,said Madamewith an amiable smilewhich somewhat
comforted the narrator.

They confessed that love is a mighty peril, but that the absence of love
is the heart's sentence of death.

What was the conclusion they came to?inquired Madame.


They came to the conclusion that love was necessary.

Very good! Did they lay down any conditions?

That of choice, simply,said Saint-Aignan. "I ought even to add-
remember it is the Dryad who is speaking- that one of the
shepherdessesAmaryllisI believewas completely opposed to the
necessity of lovingand yet she did not positively deny that she had
allowed the image of a certain shepherd to take refuge in her heart."

Was it Amyntas or Tyrcis?

Amyntas, Madame,said Saint-Aignanmodestly. "But Galateathe gentle
and soft-eyed Galateaimmediately repliedthat neither Amyntasnor
Alphesiboeusnor Tityrusnor indeed any of the handsomest shepherds of
the countrywere to be compared to Tyrcis; that Tyrcis was as superior
to all other menas the oak to all other treesas the lily in its
majesty to all other flowers. She drew even such a portrait of Tyrcis
that Tyrcis himselfwho was listeningmust have felt truly flattered at
itnotwithstanding his rank as a shepherd. Thus Tyrcis and Amyntas had
been distinguished by Phyllis and Galatea; and thus had the secrets of
two hearts revealed beneath the shades of eveningand amid the recesses
of the woods. SuchMadameis what the Dryad related to me; she who
knows all that takes place in the hollows of oaks and grassy dells; she
who knows the loves of the birdsand all they wish to convey by their
songs; she who understandsin factthe language of the wind among the
branchesthe humming of the insect with its gold and emerald wings in
the corolla of the wild-flowers; it was she who related the particulars
to meand I have repeated them."

And now you have finished, Monsieur de Saint-Aignan, have you not?said
Madamewith a smile that made the king tremble.

Quite finished,replied Saint-Aignanand but too happy if I have been
able to amuse your royal highness for a few moments.

Moments which have been too brief,replied the princess; "for you have
related most admirably all you know; butmy dear Monsieur de Saint-
Aignanyou have been unfortunate enough to obtain your information from
one Dryad onlyI believe?"

Yes, Madame, only from one, I confess.

The fact was, that you passed by a little Naiad, who pretended to know
nothing at all, and yet knew a great deal more than your Dryad, my dear
comte.

A Naiad!repeated several voiceswho began to suspect that the story
had a continuation.

Of course close beside the oak you are speaking of, which, if I am not
mistaken, is called the royal oak - is it not so, Monsieur de Saint-
Aignan?

Saint-Aignan and the king exchanged glances.

Yes, Madame,the former replied.

Well, close beside the oak there is a pretty little spring, which runs
murmuringly over the pebbles, between banks of forget-me-nots and
daffodils.

I believe you are correct,said the kingwith some uneasinessand
listening with some anxiety to his sister-in-law's narrative.


Oh! there is one, I can assure you,said Madame; "and the proof of it
isthat the Naiad who resides in that little stream stopped me as I was
about to come."

Ah?said Saint-Aignan.

Yes, indeed,continued the princessand she did so in order to
communicate to me many particulars Monsieur de Saint-Aignan has omitted
in his recital.

Pray relate them yourself, then,said Monsieuryou can relate stories
in such a charming manner.The princess bowed at the conjugal
compliment paid her.

I do not possess the poetical powers of the comte, nor his ability to
bring to light the smallest details.

You will not be listened to with less interest on that account,said
the kingwho already perceived that something hostile was intended in
his sister-in-law's story.

I speak, too,continued Madamein the name of that poor little Naiad,
who is indeed the most charming creature I ever met. Moreover, she
laughed so heartily while she was telling me her story, that, in
pursuance of that medical axiom that laughter is the finest physic in the
world, I ask permission to laugh a little myself when I recollect her
words.

The king and Saint-Aignanwho noticed spreading over many of the faces
present a distant and prophetic ripple of the laughter Madame announced
finished by looking at each otheras if asking themselves whether there
was not some little conspiracy concealed beneath these words. But Madame
was determined to turn the knife in the wound over and over again; she
therefore resumed with the air of the most perfect candorin other
wordswith the most dangerous of all her airs: "WellthenI passed
that way she said, and as I found beneath my steps many fresh flowers
newly blownno doubt PhyllisAmaryllisGalateaand all your
shepherdesses had passed the same way before me."

The king bit his lipsfor the recital was becoming more and more
threatening. "My little Naiad continued Madame, was cooing over her
quaint song in the bed of the rivulet; as I perceived that she accosted
me by touching the hem of my dressI could not think of receiving her
advances ungraciouslyand more particularly sosinceafter alla
divinityeven though she be of a second gradeis always of greater
importance than a mortalthough a princess. I thereupon accosted the
Naiadand bursting into laughterthis is what she said to me:

'Fancy, princess...' You understand, sire, it is the Naiad who is
speaking?

The king bowed assentingly; and Madame continued: - "'Fancyprincess
the banks of my little stream have just witnessed a most amusing scene.
Two shepherdsfull of curiosityeven indiscreetly sohave allowed
themselves to be mystified in a most amusing manner by three nymphsor
three shepherdesses' - I beg your pardonbut I do not now remember if
it was nymphs or shepherdesses she said; but it does not much matterso
we will continue."

The kingat this openingcolored visiblyand Saint-Aignancompletely
losing countenancebegan to open his eyes in the greatest possible
anxiety.


'The two shepherds,' pursued my nymph, still laughing, 'followed in the
wake of the three young ladies,' - no, I mean, of the three nymphs;
forgive me, I ought to say, of the three shepherdesses. It is not always
wise to do that, for it may be awkward for those who are followed. I
appeal to all the ladies present, and not one of them, I am sure, will
contradict me.

The kingwho was much disturbed by what he suspected was about to
followsignified his assent by a gesture.

'But,' continued the Naiad, 'the shepherdesses had noticed Tyrcis and
Amyntas gliding into the wood, and, by the light of the moon, they had
recognized them through the grove of the trees.' Ah, you laugh!
interrupted Madame; "waitwaityou are not yet at the end."

The king turned pale; Saint-Aignan wiped his foreheadnow dewed with
perspiration. Among the groups of ladies present could be heard
smothered laughter and stealthy whispers.

'The shepherdesses, I was saying, noticing how indiscreet the two
shepherds were, proceeded to sit down at the foot of the royal oak; and,
when they perceived that their over-curious listeners were sufficiently
near, so that not a syllable of what they might say could be lost, they
addressed towards them very innocently, in the most artless manner in the
world indeed, a passionate declaration, which from the vanity natural to
all men, and even to the most sentimental of shepherds, seemed to the two
listeners as sweet as honey.'

The kingat these wordswhich the assembly was unable to hear without
laughingcould not restrain a flash of anger darting from his eyes. As
for Saint-Aignanhe let his head fall upon his breastand concealed
under a silly laughthe extreme annoyance he felt.

Oh,said the kingdrawing himself up to his full heightupon my
word, that is a most amusing jest, certainly; but, really and truly, are
you sure you quite understood the language of the Naiads?

The comte, sire, pretends to have perfectly understood that of the
Dryads,retorted Madameicily.

No doubt,said the king; "but you know the comte has the weakness to
aspire to become a member of the Academyso thatwith this object in
viewhe has learnt all sorts of things of which very happily you are
ignorant; and it might possibly happen that the language of the Nymph of
the Waters might be among the number of things you have not studied."

Of course, sire,replied Madamefor facts of that nature one does not
altogether rely upon one's self alone; a woman's ear is not infallible,
so says Saint Augustine; and I, therefore, wished to satisfy myself by
other opinions beside my own, and as my Naiad, who, in her character of a
goddess, is polyglot, - is not that the expression, M. de Saint-Aignan?

I believe so,said the latterquite out of countenance.

Well,continued the princessas my Naiad, who, in her character of a
goddess, had, at first spoken to me in English, I feared, as you suggest,
that I might have misunderstood her, and I requested Mesdemoiselles de
Montalais, de Tonnay-Charente, and de la Valliere, to come to me, begging
my Naiad to repeat to me in the French language, the recital she had
already communicated to me in English.

And did she do so?inquired the king.

Oh, she is the most polite divinity it is possible to imagine! Yes,


sire, she did so; so that no doubt whatever remains on the subject. Is
it not so, young ladies?said the princessturning towards the left of
her army; "did not the Naiad say precisely what I have relatedand have
Iin any one particularexceeded the truthPhyllis? I beg your
pardonI mean Mademoiselle Aure de Montalais?"

Precisely as you have stated, Madame,articulated Mademoiselle de
Montalaisvery distinctly.

Is it true, Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente?

The perfect truth,replied Athenaisin a voice quite as firmbut not
yet so distinct.

And you, La Valliere?asked Madame.

The poor girl felt the king's ardent look fixed upon her- she dared not
deny - she dared not tell a falsehood; she merely bowed her head; and
everybody took it for a token of assent. Her headhoweverwas not
raised againchilled as she was by a coldness more bitter than that of
death. This triple testimony overwhelmed the king. As for Saint-Aignan
he did not even attempt to dissemble his despairandhardly knowing
what he saidhe stammered outAn excellent jest! admirably played!

A just punishment for curiosity,said the kingin a hoarse voice.
Oh! who would think, after the chastisement that Tyrcis and Amyntas had
suffered, of endeavoring to surprise what is passing in the heart of
shepherdesses? Assuredly I shall not, for one; and, you, gentlemen?

Nor I! nor I!repeatedin a chorusthe group of courtiers.

Madame was filled with triumph at the king's annoyance; and was full of
delightthinking that her story had beenor was to bethe termination
of the whole affair. As for Monsieurwho had laughed at the two stories
without comprehending anything about themhe turned towards De Guiche
and said to himWell, comte, you say nothing; can you not find
something to say? Do you pity M. Tyrcis and M. Amyntas, for instance?

I pity them with all my soul,replied De Guiche; "forin very truth
love is so sweet a fancythat to lose itfancy though it may beis to
lose more than life itself. Ifthereforethese two shepherds thought
themselves beloved- if they were happy in that ideaand ifinstead of
that happinessthey meet not only that empty void which resembles death
but jeers and jests at love itselfwhich is worse than a thousand
deaths- in that caseI say that Tyrcis and Amyntas are the two most
unhappy men I know."

And you are right, too, Monsieur de Guiche,said the king; "forin
factthe injury in question is a very hard return for a little harmless
curiosity."

That is as much to say, then, that the story of my Naiad has displeased
the king?asked Madameinnocently.

Nay, Madame, undeceive yourself,said Louistaking the princess by the
hand; "your Naiadon the contraryhas pleased meand the more so
because she was so truthfuland because her taleI ought to addis
confirmed by the testimony of unimpeachable witnesses."

These words fell upon La Valliereaccompanied by a look that on one
from Socrates to Montaignecould have exactly defined. The look and the
king's remark succeeded in overpowering the unhappy girlwhowith her
head upon Montalais's shoulderseemed to have fainted away. The king
rosewithout remarking this circumstanceof which no onemoreover


took any noticeandcontrary to his usual customfor generally he
remained late in Madame's apartmentshe took his leaveand retired to
his own side of the palace. Saint-Aignan followed himleaving the rooms
in as much despair as he had entered them with delight. Mademoiselle de
Tonnay-Charenteless sensitive than La Vallierewas not much
frightenedand did not faint. Howeverit may be that the last look of
Saint-Aignan had hardly been so majestic as the king's.

Chapter LVIII:
Royal Psychology.

The king returned to his apartments with hurried steps. The reason he
walked as fast as he did was probably to avoid tottering in his gait. He
seemed to leave behind him as he went along a trace of a mysterious
sorrow. That gayety of mannerwhich every one had remarked in him on
his arrivaland which they had been delighted to perceivehad not
perhaps been understood in its true sense: but his stormy departurehis
disordered countenanceall knewor at least thought they could tell the
reason of. Madame's levity of mannerher somewhat bitter jests-
bitter for persons of a sensitive dispositionand particularly for one
of the king's character; the great resemblance which naturally existed
between the king and an ordinary mortalwere among the reasons assigned
for the precipitate and unexpected departure of his majesty. Madame
keen-sighted enough in other respectsdid nothoweverat first see
anything extraordinary in it. It was quite sufficient for her to have
inflicted some slight wound upon the vanity or self-esteem of one whoso
soon forgetting the engagements he had contractedseemed to have
undertaken to disdainwithout causethe noblest and highest prize in
France. It was not an unimportant matter for Madamein the present
position of affairsto let the king perceive the difference which
existed between the bestowal of his affections on one in a high station
and the running after each passing fancylike a youth fresh from the
provinces. With regard to those higher placed affectionsrecognizing
their dignity and their illimitable influenceacknowledging in them a
certain etiquette and display - a monarch not only did not act in a
manner derogatory to his high positionbut found even reposesecurity
mysteryand general respect therein. On the contraryin the debasement
of a common or humble attachmenthe would encountereven among his
meanest subjectscarping and sarcastic remarks; he would forfeit his
character of infallibility and inviolability. Having descended to the
region of petty human miserieshe would be subjected to paltry
contentions. In one wordto convert the royal divinity into a mere
mortal by striking at his heartor rather even at his facelike the
meanest of his subjectswas to inflict a terrible blow upon the pride of
that generous nature. Louis was more easily captivated by vanity than
affection. Madame had wisely calculated her vengeanceand it has been
seenalsoin what manner she carried it out. Let it not be supposed
howeverthat Madame possessed such terrible passions as the heroines of
the middle agesor that she regarded things from a pessimistic point of
view; on the contraryMadameyoungamiableof cultivated intellect
coquettishloving in her naturebut rather from fancyor imagination
or ambitionthan from her heart - Madamewe sayon the contrary
inaugurated that epoch of light and fleeting amusementswhich
distinguished the hundred and twenty years that intervened between the
middle of the seventeenth centuryand the last quarter of the
eighteenth. Madame sawthereforeor rather fancied she sawthings
under their true aspect; she knew that the kingher august brother-inlaw
had been the first to ridicule the humble La Valliereand thatin
accordance with his usual customit was hardly probable he would ever
love the person who had excited his laughtereven had it been only for a
moment. Moreoverwas not her vanity ever presentthat evil influence
which plays so important a part in that comedy of dramatic incidents
called the life of a woman? Did not her vanity tell heraloudin a


subdued voicein a whisperin every variety of tonethat she could
notin realityshe a princessyoungbeautifuland richbe compared
to the poor La Valliereas youthful as herself it is truebut far less
prettycertainlyand utterly without moneyprotectorsor position?
And surprise need not be excited with respect to Madame; for it is known
that the greatest characters are those who flatter themselves the most in
the comparisons they draw between themselves and othersbetween others
and themselves. It may perhaps be asked what was Madame's motive for an
attack so skillfully conceived and executed. Why was there such a
display of forcesif it were not seriously her intention to dislodge the
king from a heart that had never been occupied beforein which he seemed
disposed to take refuge? Was there any necessitythenfor Madame to
attach so great an importance to La Valliereif she did not fear her?
Yet Madame did not fear La Valliere in that direction in which an
historianwho knows everythingsees into the futureor ratherthe
past. Madame was neither a prophetess nor a sibyl; nor could sheany
more than anotherread what was written in that terrible and fatal book
of the futurewhich records in its most secret pages the most serious
events. NoMadame desired simply to punish the king for having availed
himself of secret means altogether feminine in their nature; she wished
to prove to him that if he made use of offensive weapons of that nature
shea woman of ready wit and high descentwould assuredly discover in
the arsenal of her imagination defensive weapons proof even against the
thrusts of a monarch. Moreovershe wished him to learn thatin a war
of that descriptionkings are held of no accountorat all events
that kings who fight on their own behalflike ordinary individualsmay
witness the fall of their crown in the first encounter; and thatin
factif he had expected to be adored by all the ladies of the court from
the very firstfrom a confident reliance on his mere appearanceit was
a pretension which was most preposterous and insulting evenfor certain
persons who filled a higher position than othersand that a lesson
taught in season to this royal personagewho assumed too high and
haughty a carriagewould be rendering him a great service. Such
indeedwere Madame's reflections with respect to the king. The sequel
itself was not thought of. And in this mannerit will be seen that she
had exercised all her influence over the minds of her maids of honorand
with all its accompanying detailshad arranged the comedy which had just
been acted. The king was completely bewildered by it; for the first time
since he had escaped from the trammels of M. de Mazarinhe found himself
treated as a man. Similar severity from any of his subjects would have
been at once resisted by him. Strength comes with battle. But to match
one's self with womento be attacked by themto have been imposed upon
by mere girls from the countrywho had come from Blois expressly for
that purpose; it was the depth of dishonor for a young sovereign full of
the pride his personal advantages and royal power inspired him with.
There was nothing he could do - neither reproachesnor exile - nor could
he even show the annoyance he felt. To manifest vexation would have been
to admit that he had been touchedlike Hamletby a sword from which the
button had been removed - the sword of ridicule. To show animosity
against women - humiliation! especially when the women in question have
laughter on their sideas a means of vengeance. Ifinstead of leaving
all the responsibility of the affair to these womenone of the courtiers
had had anything to do with the intriguehow delightedly would Louis
have seized the opportunity of turning the Bastile to personal account.
But thereagainthe king's anger pausedchecked by reason. To be the
master of armiesof prisonsof an almost divine authorityand to exert
such majesty and might in the service of a petty grudgewould be
unworthy not only of a monarchbut even of a man. It was necessary
thereforesimply to swallow the affront in silenceand to wear his
usual gentleness and graciousness of expression. It was essential to
treat Madame as a friend. As a friend! - Welland why not? Either
Madame had been the instigator of the affairor the affair itself had
found her passive. If she had been the instigator of itit certainly
was a bold measure on her partbutat all eventsit was but natural in


her. Who was it that had sought her in the earliest moments of her
married life to whisper words of love in her ear? Who was it that had
dared to calculate the possibility of committing a crime against the
marriage vow - a crimetoostill more deplorable on account of the
relationship between them? Who was it thatshielded behind his royal
authorityhad said to this young creature: be not afraidlove but the
king of Francewho is above alland a movement of whose sceptered hand
will protect you against all attackseven from your own remorse? And
she had listened to and obeyed the royal voicehad been influenced by
his ensnaring tones; and whenmorally speakingshe had sacrificed her
honor in listening to himshe saw herself repaid for her sacrifice by an
infidelity the more humiliatingsince it was occasioned by a woman far
beneath her in the world.

Had Madamethereforebeen the instigator of the revengeshe would have
been right. Ifon the contraryshe had remained passive in the whole
affairwhat grounds had the king to be angry with her on that account?
Was it for her to restrainor rather could she restrainthe chattering
of a few country girls? and was it for herby an excess of zeal that
might have been misinterpretedto checkat the risk of increasing it
the impertinence of their conduct? All these various reasonings were
like so many actual stings to the king's pride; but when he had
carefullyin his own mindgone over all the various causes of
complaintLouis was surprisedupon due reflection - in other words
after the wound has been dressed - to find that there were other causes
of sufferingsecretunendurableand unrevealed. There was one
circumstance he dared not confesseven to himself; namelythat the
acute pain from which he was suffering had its seat in his heart. The
fact ishe had permitted his heart to be gratified by La Valliere's
innocent confusion. He had dreamed of a pure affection - of an affection
for Louis the manand not the sovereign - of an affection free from all
self-interest; and his heartsimpler and more youthful than he had
imagined it to behad to meet that other heart that had revealed itself
to him by its aspirations. The commonest thing in the complicated
history of loveis the double inoculation of love to which any two
hearts are subjected; the one loves nearly always before the otherin
the same way that the latter finishes nearly always by loving after the
other. In this waythe electric current is establishedin proportion
to the intensity of the passion which is first kindled. The more
Mademoiselle de la Valliere showed her affectionthe more the king's
affection had increased. And it was precisely that which had annoyed his
majesty. For it was now fairly demonstrated to himthat no sympathetic
current had been the means of hurrying his heart away in its course
because there had been no confession of love in the case - because the
confession wasin factan insult towards the man and towards the
sovereign; and finallybecause - and the wordtooburnt like a hot
iron - becausein factit was nothing but a mystification after all.
This girlthereforewhoin strictnesscould not lay claim to beauty
or birthor great intelligence - who had been selected by Madame
herselfon account of her unpretending positionhad not only aroused
the king's regardbut hadmoreovertreated him with disdain - hethe
kinga man wholike an eastern potentatehad but to bestow a glance
to indicate with his fingerto throw his handkerchief. Andsince the
previous eveninghis mind had been so absorbed with this girl that he
could think and dream of nothing else. Since the previous evening his
imagination had been occupied by clothing her image with charms to which
she could not lay claim. In very truthhe whom such vast interests
summonedand whom so many women smiled upon invitinglyhadsince the
previous eveningconsecrated every moment of his timeevery throb of
his heartto this sole dream. It wasindeedeither too muchor not
sufficient. The indignation of the kingmaking him forget everything
andamong othersthat Saint-Aignan was presentwas poured out in the
most violent imprecations. True it isthat Saint-Aignan had taken
refuge in a corner of the room; and from his cornerregarded the tempest


passing over. His own personal disappointment seemed contemptiblein
comparison with the anger of the king. He compared with his own petty
vanity the prodigious pride of offended majesty; andbeing well read in
the hearts of kings in generaland in those of powerful kings in
particularhe began to ask himself if this weight of angeras yet held
in suspensewould not soon terminate by falling upon his own headfor
the very reason that others were guiltyand he innocent. In point of
factthe kingall at oncedid arrest his hurried pace; andfixing a
look full of anger upon Saint-Aignansuddenly cried out: "And youSaint-
Aignan?"

Saint-Aignan made a sign which was intended to signifyWell, sire?

Yes; you have been as silly as myself, I think.

Sire,stammered out Saint-Aignan.

You permitted us to be deceived by this shameless trick.

Sire,said Saint-Aignanwhose agitation was such as to make him
tremble in every limblet me entreat your majesty not to exasperate
yourself. Women, you know, are characters full of imperfections, created
for the misfortune of mankind: to expect anything good from them is to
require them to perform impossibilities.

The kingwho had the greatest consideration for himselfand who had
begun to acquire over his emotions that command which he preserved over
them all his lifeperceived that he was doing an outrage to his own
dignity in displaying so much animosity about so trifling an object.
No,he saidhastily; "you are mistakenSaint-Aignan; I am not angry;
I can only wonder that we should have been turned into ridicule so
cleverly and with such audacity by these young girls. I am particularly
surprised thatalthough we might have informed ourselves accurately on
the subjectwe were silly enough to leave the matter for our own hearts
to decide."

The heart, sire, is an organ which requires positively to be reduced to
its material functions, but which, for the sake of humanity's peace of
mind, should be deprived of all its metaphysical inclinations. For my
own part, I confess, when I saw that your majesty's heart was so taken up
by this little -

My heart taken up! I! My mind might, perhaps, have been so; but as for
my heart, it was - Louis again perceived thatin order to fill one
gulfhe was about to dig another. "Besides he added, I have no fault
to find with the girl. I was quite aware that she was in love with some
one else."

The Vicomte de Bragelonne. I informed your majesty of the circumstance.

You did so: but you were not the first who told me. The Comte de la
Fere had solicited from me Mademoiselle de la Valliere's hand for his
son. And, on his return from England, the marriage shall be celebrated,
since they love each other.

I recognize your majesty's great generosity of disposition in that act.

So, Saint-Aignan, we will cease to occupy ourselves with these matters
any longer,said Louis.

Yes, we will digest the affront, sire,replied the courtierwith
resignation.

Besides, it will be an easy matter to do so,said the kingchecking a


sigh.

And, by way of a beginning, I will set about the composition of an
epigram upon all three of them. I will call it 'The Naiad and Dryad,'
which will please Madame.

Do so, Saint-Aignan, do so,said the kingindifferently. "You shall
read me your verses; they will amuse me. Ah! it does not signifySaint-
Aignan added the king, like a man breathing with difficulty, the blow
requires more than human strength to support in a dignified manner." As
the king thus spokeassuming an air of the most angelic patienceone of
the servants in attendance knocked gently at the door. Saint-Aignan drew
asideout of respect.

Come in,said the king. The servant partially opened the door. "What
is it?" inquired Louis.

The servant held out a letter of a triangular shape. "For your majesty
he said.

From whom?"

I do not know. One of the officers on duty gave it to me.

The valetin obedience to a gesture of the kinghanded him the letter.
The king advanced towards the candlesopened the noteread the
signatureand uttered a loud cry. Saint-Aignan was sufficiently
respectful not to look on; butwithout looking onhe saw and heard all
and ran towards the kingwho with a gesture dismissed the servant. "Oh
heavens!" said the kingas he read the note.

Is your majesty unwell?inquired Saint-Aignanstretching forward his
arms.

No, no, Saint-Aignan - read!and he handed him the note.

Saint-Aignan's eyes fell upon the signature. "La Valliere!" he
exclaimed. "Ohsire!"

Read, _read!_

And Saint-Aignan read:

Forgive my importunity, sire; and forgive, also, the absence of the
formalities which may be wanting in this letter. A note seems to be
more speedy and more urgent than a dispatch. I venture, therefore, to
address this note to your majesty. I have retired to my own room,
overcome with grief and fatigue, sire; and I implore your majesty to
grant me the favor of an audience, which will enable me to confess the
_truth_ to my sovereign.

LOUISE de la VALLIERE."

Well?asked the kingtaking the letter from Saint-Aignan's handswho
was completely bewildered by what he had just read.

Well!repeated Saint-Aignan.

What do you think of it?

I hardly know.

Still, what is your opinion?


Sire, the young lady must have heard the muttering of the thunder, and
has got frightened.

Frightened at what?asked Louis with dignity.

Why, your majesty has a thousand reasons to be angry with the author or
authors of so hazardous a joke; and, if your majesty's memory were to be
awakened in a disagreeable sense, it would be a perpetual menace hanging
over the head of this imprudent girl.

Saint-Aignan, I do not think as you do.

Your majesty doubtless sees more clearly than myself.

Well! I see affliction and restraint in these lines; more particularly
since I recall some of the details of the scene which took place this
evening in Madame's apartments - The king suddenly stoppedleaving
his meaning unexpressed.

In fact,resumed Saint-Aignanyour majesty will grant an audience;
nothing is clearer than that.

I will do better, Saint-Aignan.

What is that, sire?
Put on your cloak.


But, sire -
You know the suite of rooms where Madame's maids of honor are lodged?


Certainly.
You know some means of obtaining an entrance there.


As far as that is concerned, I do not.
At all events, you must be acquainted with some one there.


Really, your majesty is the source of every good idea.
You do know some one, then. Who is it?


I know a certain gentleman, who is on very good terms with a certain
young lady there.

One of the maids of honor?

Yes, sire.

With Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente, I suppose?said the king
laughing.
Fortunately, no, sire; with Montalais.


What is his name?
Malicorne.

And you can depend on him?

I believe so, sire. He ought to have a key of some sort in his
possession; and if he should happen to have one, as I have done him a


service, why, he will let us have it.

Nothing could be better. Let us set off immediately.

The king threw his cloak over Saint-Aignan's shouldersasked him for
hisand both went out into the vestibule.


Chapter LIX:
Something That neither Naiad nor Dryad Foresaw.


Saint-Aignan stopped at the foot of the staircase leading to the
_entresol_where the maids of honor were lodgedand to the first floor
where Madame's apartments were situated. Thenby means of one of the
servants who was passinghe sent to apprise Malicornewho was still
with Monsieur. After having waited ten minutesMalicorne arrivedfull
of self-importance. The king drew back towards the darkest part of the
vestibule. Saint-Aignanon the contraryadvanced to meet himbut at
the first wordsindicating his wishMalicorne drew back abruptly.


Oh, oh!he saidyou want me to introduce you into the rooms of the
maids of honor?


Yes.


You know very well that I cannot do anything of the kind, without being
made acquainted with your object.


Unfortunately, my dear Monsieur Malicorne, it is quite impossible for me
to give you any explanation; you must therefore confide in me as in a
friend who got you out of a great difficulty yesterday, and who now begs
you to draw him out of one to-day.


Yet I told you, monsieur, what my object was; which was, not to sleep
out in the open air, and any man might express the same wish, whilst you,
however, admit nothing.


Believe me, my dear Monsieur Malicorne,Saint-Aignan persistedthat
if I were permitted to explain myself, I would do so.


In that case, my dear monsieur, it is impossible for me to allow you to
enter Mademoiselle de Montalais's apartment.


Why so?


You know why, better than any one else, since you caught me on the wall
paying my addresses to Mademoiselle de Montalais; it would, therefore, be
an excess of kindness on my part, you will admit, since I am paying my
attentions to her, to open the door of her room to you.


But who told you it was on her account I asked you for the key?


For whom, then?


She does not lodge there alone, I suppose?


No, certainly; for Mademoiselle de la Valliere shares her rooms with
her; but, really, you have nothing more to do with Mademoiselle de la
Valliere than with Mademoiselle de Montalais, and there are only two men
to whom I would give this key; to M. de Bragelonne, if he begged me to
give it to him, and to the king, if he commanded me.


In that case, give me the key, monsieur: I order you to do so,said the
kingadvancing from the obscurityand partially opening his cloak.



Mademoiselle de Montalais will step down to talk with you, while we go
up-stairs to Mademoiselle de la Valliere, for, in fact, it is she only
whom we desire to see.

The king!exclaimed Malicornebowing to the very ground.

Yes, the king,said Louissmiling: "the kingwho is as pleased with
your resistance as with your capitulation. Risemonsieurand render us
the service we request of you."

I obey, your majesty,said Malicorneleading the way up the staircase.

Get Mademoiselle de Montalais to come down,said the kingand do not
breathe a word to her of my visit.

Malicorne bowed in token of obedienceand proceeded up the staircase.
But the kingafter a hasty reflectionfollowed himand thattoowith
such rapiditythatalthough Malicorne was already more than half-way up
the staircasethe king reached the room at the same moment. He then
observedby the door which remained half-opened behind MalicorneLa
Vallieresitting in an armchair with her head thrown backand in the
opposite corner Montalaiswhoin her dressing-gownwas standing before
a looking-glassengaged in arranging her hairand parleying the while
with Malicorne. The king hurriedly opened the door and entered the
room. Montalais called out at the noise made by the opening of the door
andrecognizing the kingmade her escape. La Valliere rose from her
seatlike a dead person galvanizedand then fell back in her armchair.
The king advanced slowly towards her.

You wished for an audience, I believe,he said coldly. "I am ready to
hear you. Speak."

Saint-Aignanfaithful to his character of being deafblindand dumb
had stationed himself in a corner of the doorupon a stool which by
chance he found there. Concealed by the tapestry which covered the
doorwayand leaning his back against the wallhe could thus listen
without being seen; resigning himself to the post of a good watch-dog
who patiently waits and watches without ever getting in his master's way.

La Valliereterror-stricken at the king's irritated aspectrose a
second timeand assuming a posture full of humility and entreaty
murmuredForgive me, sire.

What need is there for my forgiveness?asked Louis.

Sire, I have been guilty of a great fault; nay, more than a great fault,
a great crime.

You?

Sire, I have offended your majesty.

Not in the slightest degree in the world,replied Louis XIV.

I implore you, sire, not to maintain towards me that terrible
seriousness of manner which reveals your majesty's just anger. I feel I
have offended you, sire; but I wish to explain to you how it was that I
have not offended you of my own accord.

In the first place,said the kingin what way can you possibly have
offended me? I cannot perceive how. Surely not on account of a young
girl's harmless and very innocent jest? You turned the credulity of a
young man into ridicule - it was very natural to do so: any other woman
in your place would have done the same.


Oh! your majesty overwhelms me by your remark.

Why so?

Because, if I had been the author of the jest, it would not have been
innocent.

Well, is that all you had to say to me in soliciting an audience?said
the kingas though about to turn away.

Thereupon La Vallierein an abrupt and a broken voiceher eyes dried up
by the fire of her tearsmade a step towards the kingand saidDid
your majesty hear everything?

Everything, what?

Everything I said beneath the royal oak.

I did not lose a syllable.

And now, after your majesty really heard all, are you able to think I
abused your credibility?

Credulity; yes, indeed, you have selected the very word.

And your majesty did not suppose that a poor girl like myself might
possibly be compelled to submit to the will of others?

Forgive me,returned the king; "but I shall never be able to understand
that shewho of her own free will could express herself so unreservedly
beneath the royal oakwould allow herself to be influenced to such an
extent by the direction of others."

But the threat held out against me, sire.

Threat! who threatened you - who dared to threaten you?

Those who have the right to do so, sire.

I do not recognize any one as possessing the right to threaten the
humblest of my subjects.

Forgive me, sire, but near your majesty, even, there are persons
sufficiently high in position to have, or to believe that they possess,
the right of injuring a young girl, without fortune, and possessing only
her reputation.

In what way injure her?

In depriving her of her reputation, by disgracefully expelling her from
the court.

Oh! Mademoiselle de la Valliere,said the king bitterlyI prefer
those persons who exculpate themselves without incriminating others.

Sire!

Yes; and I confess that I greatly regret to perceive, that an easy
justification, as your own would have been, is now complicated in my
presence by a tissue of reproaches and imputations against others.

And which you do not believe?exclaimed La Valliere. The king remained
silent.


Nay, but tell me!repeated La Vallierevehemently.

I regret to confess it,repeated the kingbowing coldly.

The young girl uttered a deep groanstriking her hands together in
despair. "You do not believe methen she said to the king, who still
remained silent, while poor La Valliere's features became visibly changed
at his continued silence. Thereforeyou believe she said, that I
pre-arranged this ridiculousthis infamous plotof triflingin so
shameless a mannerwith your majesty."

Nay,said the kingit was neither ridiculous nor infamous; it was not
even a plot; merely a jest, more or less amusing, and nothing more.

Oh!murmured the young girlthe king does not, and will not believe
me, then?

No, indeed, I will not believe you,said the king. "Besidesin point
of factwhat can be more natural? The kingyou arguefollows me
listens to mewatches me; the king wishes perhaps to amuse himself at my
expenseI will amuse myself at hisand as the king is very tenderhearted
I will take his heart by storm."

La Valliere hid her face in her handsas she stifled her sobs. The king
continued pitilessly; he was revenging himself upon the poor victim
before him for all he had himself suffered.

Let us invent, then, this story of my loving him and preferring him to
others. The king is so simple and so conceited that he will believe me;
and then we can go and tell others how credulous the king is, and can
enjoy a laugh at his expense.

Oh!exclaimed La Valliereyou think that, you believe that! - it is
frightful.

And,pursued the kingthat is not all; if this self-conceited prince
take our jest seriously, if he should be imprudent enough to exhibit
before others anything like delight at it, well, in that case, the king
will be humiliated before the whole court; and what a delightful story it
will be, too, for him to whom I am really attached, in fact part of my
dowry for my husband, to have the adventure to relate of the monarch who
was so amusingly deceived by a young girl.

Sire!exclaimed La Valliereher mind bewilderedalmost wandering
indeednot another word, I implore you; do you not see that you are
killing me?

A jest, nothing but a jest,murmured the kingwhohoweverbegan to
be somewhat affected.

La Valliere fell upon her kneesand that so violentlythat the sound
could be heard upon the hard floor. "Sire she said, I prefer shame to
disloyalty."

What do you mean?inquired the kingwithout moving a step to raise the
young girl from her knees.

Sire, when I shall have sacrificed my honor and my reason both to you,
you will perhaps believe in my loyalty. The tale which was related to
you in Madame's apartments, and by Madame herself, is utterly false; and
that which I said beneath the great oak -

Well!


That is the only truth.

What!exclaimed the king.

Sire,exclaimed La Vallierehurried away by the violence of her
emotionswere I to die of shame on the very spot where my knees are
fixed, I would repeat it until my latest breath; I said that I loved you,
and it is true; I do love you.

You!

I have loved you, sire, from the very first day I ever saw you; from the
moment when at Blois, where I was pining away my existence, your royal
looks, full of light and life, were first bent upon me. I love you
still, sire; it is a crime of high treason, I know, that a poor girl like
myself should love her sovereign, and should presume to tell him so.
Punish me for my audacity, despise me for my shameless immodesty; but do
not ever say, do not ever think, that I have jested with or deceived
you. I belong to a family whose loyalty has been proved, sire, and I,
too, love my king.

Suddenly her strengthvoiceand respiration ceasedand she fell
forwardlike the flower Virgil alludes towhich the scythe of the
reaper severed in the midst of the grass. The kingat these wordsat
this vehement entreatyno longer retained any ill-will or doubt in his
mind: his whole heart seemed to expand at the glowing breath of an
affection which proclaimed itself in such noble and courageous language.
Whenthereforehe heard the passionate confessionhis strength seemed
to fail himand he hid his face in his hands. But when he felt La
Valliere's hands clinging to his ownwhen their warm pressure fired his
bloodhe bent forwardand passing his arm round La Valliere's waisthe
raised her from the ground and pressed her against his heart. But she
her drooping head fallen forward on her bosomseemed to have ceased to
live. The kingterrifiedcalled out for Saint-Aignan. Saint-Aignan
who had carried his discretion so far as to remain without stirring in
his cornerpretending to wipe away a tearran forward at the king's
summons. He then assisted Louis to seat the young girl upon a couch
slapped her handssprinkled some Hungary water over her facecalling
out all the whileCome, come, it is all over; the king believes you,
and forgives you. There, there now! take care, or you will agitate his
majesty too much; his majesty is so sensitive, so tender-hearted. Now,
really, Mademoiselle de la Valliere, you must pay attention, for the king
is very pale.

The fact wasthe king was visibly losing color. But La Valliere did not
move.

Do pray recover,continued Saint-Aignan. "I begI implore you; it is
really time you should; think only of one thingthat if the king should
become unwellI should be obliged to summon his physician. What a state
of things that would be! So do pray rouse yourself; make an effortpray
doand do so at oncemy dear."

It was difficult to display more persuasive eloquence than Saint-Aignan
didbut something still more powerfuland of a more energetic nature
than this eloquencearoused La Valliere. The kingwho was kneeling
before hercovered the palms of her hands with those burning kisses
which are to the hands what a kiss upon the lips is to the face. La
Valliere's senses returned to her; she languidly opened her eyes and
with a dying lookmurmuredOh! sire, has your majesty pardoned me,
then?

The king did not replyfor he was still too much overcome. Saint-Aignan


thought it was his duty again to retirefor he observed the passionate
devotion which was displayed in the king's gaze. La Valliere rose.


And now, sire, that I have justified myself, at least I trust so, in
your majesty's eyes, grant me leave to retire into a convent. I shall
bless your majesty all my life, and I shall die thanking and loving
Heaven for having granted me one hour of perfect happiness.


No, no,replied the kingyou will live here blessing Heaven, on the
contrary, but loving Louis, who will make your existence one of perfect
felicity - Louis who loves you - Louis who swears it.


Oh! sire, sire!


And upon this doubt of La Vallierethe king's kisses became so warm that
Saint-Aignan thought it was his duty to retire behind the tapestry.
These kisseshoweverwhich she had not the strength at first to resist
began to intimidate the young girl.


Oh! sire,she exclaimeddo not make me repeat my loyalty, for this
would show me that your majesty despises me still.


Mademoiselle de la Valliere,said the kingsuddenlydrawing back with
an air full of respectthere is nothing in the world that I love and
honor more than yourself, and nothing in my court, I call Heaven to
witness, shall be so highly regarded as you shall be henceforward. I
entreat your forgiveness for my transport; it arose from an excess of
affection, but I can prove to you that I love you more than ever by
respecting you as much as you can possibly desire or deserve.Then
bending before herand taking her by the handhe said to herWill you
honor me by accepting the kiss I press upon your hand?And the king's
lips were pressed respectfully and lightly upon the young girl's
trembling hand. "Henceforth added Louis, rising and bending his glance
upon La Valliere, henceforth you are under my safeguard. Do not speak
to any one of the injury I have done youforgive others that which they
may have attempted. For the futureyou shall be so far above all those
thatfar from inspiring you with fearthey shall be even beneath your
pity." And he bowed as reverently as though he were leaving a place of
worship. Then calling to Saint-Aignanwho approached with great
humilityhe saidI hope, comte, that Mademoiselle de la Valliere will
kindly confer a little of her friendship upon you, in return for that
which I have vowed to her eternally.


Saint-Aignan bent his knee before La VallieresayingHow happy,
indeed, would such an honor make me!


I will send your companion back to you,said the king. "Farewell! or
ratheradieu till we meet again; do not forget me in your prayersI
entreat."


Oh!cried La Vallierebe assured that you and Heaven are in my heart
together.


These words of Louise elated the kingwhofull of happinesshurried
Saint-Aignan down the stairs. Madame had not anticipated this
_denouement_; and neither the Naiad nor the Dryad had breathed a word
about it.


Chapter LX:
The New General of the Jesuits.


While La Valliere and the king were minglingin their first confession
of loveall the bitterness of the pastthe happiness of the present



and hopes of the futureFouquet had retired to the apartments which had
been assigned to him in the chateauand was conversing with Aramis
precisely upon the very subjects which the king at that moment was
forgetting.

Now tell me,said Fouquetafter having installed his guest in an
armchair and seated himself by his sidetell me, Monsieur d'Herblay,
what is our position with regard to the Belle-Isle affair, and whether
you have received any news about it.

Everything is going on in that direction as we wish,replied Aramis;
the expenses have been paid, and nothing has transpired of our designs.

But what about the soldiers the king wished to send there?

I have received news this morning they arrived there fifteen days ago.

And how have they been treated?

In the best manner possible.

What has become of the former garrison?

The soldiers were landed at Sarzeau, and then transferred immediately to
Quimper.

And the new garrison?

Belongs to us from this very moment.

Are you sure of what you say, my dear Monsieur de Vannes?

Quite sure, and, moreover, you will see by and by how matters have
turned out.

Still you are very well aware, that, of all the garrison towns, Belle-
Isle is precisely the very worst.

I know it, and have acted accordingly; no space to move about, no
gayety, no cheerful society, no gambling permitted: well, it is a great
pity,added Aramiswith one of those smiles so peculiar to himto see
how much young people at the present day seek amusement, and how much,
consequently, they incline to the man who procures and pays for their
favorite pastimes.

But if they amuse themselves at Bell-Isle?

If they amuse themselves through the king's means, they will attach
themselves to the king; but if they get bored to death through the king's
means, and amuse themselves through M. Fouquet, they will attach
themselves to M. Fouquet.

And you informed my intendant, of course? - so that immediately on their
arrival -

By no means; they were left alone a whole week, to weary themselves at
their ease; but, at the end of the week, they cried out, saying that
former officers amused themselves much better. Whereupon they were told
that the old officers had been able to make a friend of M. Fouquet, and
that M. Fouquet, knowing them to be friends of his, had from that moment
done all he possibly could to prevent their getting wearied or bored upon
his estates. Upon this they began to reflect. Immediately afterwards,
however, the intendant added, that without anticipating M. Fouquet's
orders, he knew his master sufficiently well to be aware that he took an


interest in every gentleman in the king's service, and that, although he
did not know the new-comers, he would do as much for them as he had done
for the others.

Excellent! and I trust that the promises were followed up; I desire, as
you know, that no promise should ever be made in my name without being
kept.

Without a moment's loss of time, our two privateers, and your own
horses, were placed at the disposal of the officers; the keys of the
principal mansion were handed over to them, so that they made up huntingparties,
and walking excursions with such ladies as are to be found in
Belle-Isle; and such other as they are enabled to enlist from the
neighborhood, who have no fear of sea-sickness.

And there is a fair sprinkling to be met with at Sarzeau and Vannes, I
believe, your eminence?

Yes; in fact all along the coast,said Aramisquietly.

And now, how about the soldiers?

Everything precisely the same, in a relative degree, you understand; the
soldiers have plenty of wine, excellent provisions, and good pay.

Very good; so that -

So that this garrison can be depended upon, and it is a better one than
the last.

Good.

The result is, if Fortune favors us, so that the garrisons are changed
in this manner, only every two months, that, at the end of every three
years, the whole army will, in its turn, have been there; and, therefore,
instead of having one regiment in our favor, we shall have fifty thousand
men.

Yes, yes; I knew perfectly well,said Fouquetthat no friend could be
more incomparable and invaluable than yourself, my dear Monsieur
d'Herblay; but,he addedlaughingall this time we are forgetting our
friend, Du Vallon; what has become of him? During the three days I spent
at Saint-Mande, I confess I have forgotten him completely.

I do not forget him, however,returned Aramis. "Porthos is at Saint-
Mande; his joints are kept well greasedthe greatest care is being taken
care of him with regard to the food he eatsand the wines he drinks; I
advise him to take daily airings in the small parkwhich you have kept
for your own useand he makes us of it accordingly. He begins to walk
againhe exercises his muscular powers by bending down young elm-trees
or making the old oaks fly into splintersas Milo of Crotona used to do;
andas there are no lions in the parkit is not unlikely we shall find
him alive. Porthos is a brave fellow."

Yes, but in the mean time he will get bored to death.

Oh, no; he never does that.

He will be asking questions?

He sees no one.

At all events, he is looking or hoping for something or another.


I have inspired in him a hope which we will realize some fine morning,
and on that he subsists.

What is it?

That of being presented to the king.

Oh! in what character?

As the engineer of Belle-Isle, of course.

Is it possible?

Quite true.

Shall we not be obliged, then, to send him back to Belle-Isle?

Most certainly; I am even thinking of sending him as soon as possible.
Porthos is very fond of display; he is man whose weakness D'Artagnan,
Athos, and myself are alone acquainted with; he never commits himself in
any way; he is dignity himself; to the officers there, he would seem like
a Paladin of the time of the Crusades. He would make the whole staff
drunk, without getting tipsy in the least himself, and every one will
regard him with admiration and sympathy; if, therefore, it should happen
that we have any orders requiring to be carried out, Porthos is an
incarnation of the order itself, and whatever he chose to do others would
find themselves obliged to submit to.

Send him back, then.

That is what I intend to do; but only in a few days; for I must not omit
to tell you one thing.

What is it?

I begin to mistrust D'Artagnan. He is not at Fontainebleau, as you may
have noticed, and D'Artagnan is never absent, or apparently idle, without
some object in view. And now that my own affairs are settled, I am going
to try and ascertain what the affairs are in which D'Artagnan is engaged.

Your own affairs are settled, you say?

Yes.

You are very fortunate in that case, then, and I should like to be able
to say the same.

I hope you do not make yourself uneasy.

Hum!

Nothing could be better than the king's reception of you.

True.

And Colbert leaves you in peace.

Nearly so.

In that case,said Aramiswith that connection of ideas which marked
himin that case, then, we can bestow a thought upon the young girl I
was speaking to you about yesterday.

Whom do you mean?


What, have you forgotten already? I mean La Valliere.

Ah! of course, of course.

Do you object, then, to try and make a conquest of her?

In one respect only; my heart is engaged in another direction, and I
positively do not care about the girl in the least.

Oh, oh!said Aramisyour heart is engaged, you say. The deuce! we
must take care of that.

Why?

Because it is terrible to have the heart occupied, when others, besides
yourself, have so much need of the head.

You are right. So you see, at your first summons, I left everything.
But to return to this girl. What good do you see in my troubling myself
about her?

This. - The king, it is said, has taken a fancy to her; at least, so it
is supposed.

But you, who know everything, know very differently.

I know that the king is greatly and suddenly changed; that the day
before yesterday he was crazy over Madame; that a few days ago,
Monsieur complained of it, even to the queen-mother; and that some
conjugal misunderstandings and maternal scoldings were the consequence.

How do you know all that?

I do know it; at all events, since these misunderstandings and
scoldings, the king has not addressed a word, has not paid the
slightest attention, to her royal highness.

Well, what next?

Since then, he has been taken up with Mademoiselle de la Valliere. Now,
Mademoiselle de la Valliere is one of Madame's maids of honor. You
happen to know, I suppose, what is called a _chaperon_ in matters of
love. Well, then, Mademoiselle de la Valliere is Madame's _chaperon_.
It is for you to take advantage of this state of things. You have no
occasion for me to tell you that. But, at all events, wounded vanity
will render the conquest an easier one; the girl will get hold of the
king, and Madame's secret, and you can scarcely predict what a man of
intelligence can do with a secret.

But how to get at her?

Nay, you, of all men, to ask me such a question!said Aramis.

Very true. I shall not have any time to take any notice of her.

She is poor and unassuming, you will create a position for her, and
whether she tames the king as his lady confessor, or his sweetheart, you
will have enlisted a new and valuable ally.

Very good,said Fouquet. "What is to be donethenwith regard to
this girl?"

Whenever you have taken a fancy to any lady, Monsieur Fouquet, what


course have you generally pursued?

I have written to her, protesting my devotion to her. I have added, how
happy I should be to render her any service in my power, and have signed
'Fouquet,' at the end of the letter.

And has any one offered resistance?

One person only,replied Fouquet. "Butfour days agoshe yieldedas
the others had done."

Will you take the trouble to write?said Aramisholding a pen towards
himwhich Fouquet tooksaying:

I will write at your dictation. My head is so taken up in another
direction, that I should not be able to write a couple lines.

Very well,said Aramiswrite.

And he dictatedas follows: "Mademoiselle - I have seen you - and you
will not be surprised to learnI think you very beautiful. Butfor
want of the position you merit at courtyour presence there is a waste
of time. The devotion of a man of honorshould ambition of any kind
inspire youmight possibly serve as a means of display for your talent
and beauty. I place my devotion at your feet; butas an affection
however reserved and unpresuming it may bemight possibly compromise the
object of its worshipit would ill become a person of your merit running
the risk of being compromisedwithout her future being assured. If you
would deign to acceptand reply to my affectionmy affection shall
prove its gratitude to you in making you free and independent forever."

Having finished writingFouquet looked at Aramis.

Sign it,said the latter.

Is it absolutely necessary?

Your signature at the foot of that letter is worth a million; you forget
that.Fouquet signed.

Now, by whom do you intend to send this letter?asked Aramis.

By an excellent servant of mine.

Can you rely on him?

He is a man who has been with me all my life.

Very well. Besides, in this case, we are not playing for very heavy
stakes.

How so? For if what you say be true of the accommodating disposition of
this girl for the king and Madame, the king will give her all the money
she can ask for.

The king has money, then?asked Aramis.

I suppose so, for he has not asked me for any more.

Be easy, he will ask for some, soon.

Nay, more than that, I had thought he would have spoken to me about the
_fete_ at Vaux, but he never said a word about it.


He will be sure to do so, though.


You must think the king's disposition a very cruel one, Monsieur
d'Herblay.
It is not he who is so.
He is young, and therefore his disposition is a kind one.
He is young, and either he is weak, or his passions are strong; and


Monsieur Colbert holds his weakness and his passions in his villainous
grasp.
You admit that you fear him?
I do not deny it.
I that case I am lost.


Why so?
My only influence with the king has been through the money I commanded,
and now I am a ruined man.


Not so.


What do you mean by 'not so?' Do you know my affairs better than
myself?
That is not unlikely.
If he were to request this _fete_ to be given?
You would give it, of course.
But where is the money to come from?
Have you ever been in want of any?
Oh! if you only knew at what a cost I procured the last supply.
The next shall cost you nothing.
But who will give it me?
I will.
What, give me six millions?
Ten, if necessary.
Upon my word, D'Herblay,said Fouquetyour confidence alarms me more


than the king's displeasure. Who can you possibly be, after all?
You know me well enough, I should think.
Of course; but what is it you are aiming at?
I wish to see upon the throne of France a king devoted to Monsieur


Fouquet, and I wish Monsieur Fouquet to be devoted to me.
Oh!exclaimed Fouquetpressing his hand- "as for being devoted to
youI am yoursentirely; but believe memy dear D'Herblayyou are
deceiving yourself."



In what respect?
The king will never become devoted to me.
I do not remember to have said that King Louis would ever become devoted


to you.
Why, on the contrary, you have this moment said so.
I did not say _the_ king; I said _a_ king.
Is it not all the same?
No, on the contrary, it is altogether different.
I do not understand you.
You will do so, shortly, then; suppose, for instance, the king in


question were to be a very different person to Louis XIV.
Another person.
Yes, who is indebted for everything to you.
Impossible.
His very throne, even.
You are mad, D'Herblay. There is no man living besides Louis XIV. who


can sit on the throne of France. I know of none, not one.
_But_ I know one.
Unless it be Monsieur,said Fouquetlooking at Aramis uneasily; "yet


Monsieur - "
It is _not_ Monsieur.
But how can it be, that a prince not of the royal line, that a prince


without any right -


My king, or rather your king, will be everything that is necessary, be
assured of that.
Be careful, Monsieur d'Herblay, you make my blood run cold, and my head

swim.
Aramis smiled. "There is but little occasion for that he replied.
AgainI repeatyou terrify me said Fouquet. Aramis smiled.
You laugh said Fouquet.
The day will come when you will laugh too; only at the present moment I


must laugh alone."
But explain yourself.
When the proper time comes, I will explain all. Fear nothing. Have


faith in me, and doubt nothing.
The fact is, I cannot but doubt, because I do not see clearly, or even
at all.



That is because of your blindness; but a day will come when you will be
enlightened.

Oh!said Fouquethow willingly would I believe.

You, without belief! you, who, through my means, have ten times crossed
the abyss yawning at your feet, and in which, had you been alone, you
would have been irretrievably swallowed; you, without belief; you, who
from procureur-general attained the rank of intendant, from the rank of
intendant, that of the first minister of the crown, and who from the rank
of first minister will pass to that of mayor of the palace. But no,he
saidwith the same unaltered smileno, no, you cannot see, and
consequently cannot believe - what I tell you.And Aramis rose to
withdraw.

One word more,said Fouquet; "you have never yet spoken to me in this
manneryou have never yet shown yourself so confidentI should rather
say so daring."

Because it is necessary, in order to speak confidently, to have the lips
unfettered.

And that is now your case?

Yes.

Since a very short time, then?

Since yesterday, only.

Oh! Monsieur d'Herblay, take care, your confidence is becoming
audacity.

One can well be audacious when one is powerful.

And you are powerful?

I have already offered you ten millions; I repeat the offer.

Fouquet roseprofoundly agitated.

Come,he saidcome; you spoke of overthrowing kings and replacing
them by others. If, indeed, I am not really out of my senses, is or is
not that what you said just now?

You are by no means out of your senses, for it is perfectly true I did
say all that just now.

And why did you say so?

Because it is easy to speak in this manner of thrones being cast down,
and kings being raised up, when one is, one's self, far above all kings
and thrones, of this world at least.

Your power is infinite, then?cried Fouquet.

I have told you so already, and I repeat it,replied Aramiswith
glistening eyes and trembling lips.

Fouquet threw himself back in his chairand buried his face in his
hands. Aramis looked at him for a momentas the angel of human
destinies might have looked upon a simple mortal.


Adieu,he said to himsleep undisturbed, and send your letter to La
Valliere. To-morrow we shall see each other again.

Yes, to-morrow,said Fouquetshaking his hands like a man returning to
his senses. "But where shall we see each other?"

At the king's promenade, if you like.

Agreed.And they separated.

Chapter LXI:
The Storm.

The dawn of the following day was dark and gloomyand as every one knew
that the promenade was down in the royal programmeevery one's gazeas
his eyes were openedwas directed towards the sky. Just above the tops
of the trees a thicksuffocating vapor seemed to remain suspendedwith
barely sufficient power to rise thirty feet above the ground under the
influence of the sun's rayswhich was scarcely visible as a faint spot
of lesser darkness through the veil of heavy mist. No dew had fallen in
the morning; the turf was dried up for want of moisturethe flowers
withered. The birds sang less inspiringly than usual upon the boughs
which remained motionless as the limbs of corpses. The strange confused
and animated murmurswhich seemed born and to exist in virtue of the
sunthat respiration of nature which is unceasingly heard amidst all
other soundscould not be heard nowand never had the silence been so
profound.

The king had noticed the cheerless aspect of the heavens as he approached
the window immediately upon rising. But as all the necessary directions
had been given respecting the promenadeand every preparation had been
made accordinglyand aswhich was far more imperious than anything
elseLouis relied upon this promenade to satisfy the cravings of his
imaginationand we will even already saythe clamorous desires of his
heart - the king unhesitatingly decided that the appearance of the
heavens had nothing whatever to do with the matter; that the promenade
was arrangedand thatwhatever the state of the weatherthe promenade
should take place. Besidesthere are certain terrestrial sovereigns who
seem to have accorded them privileged existencesand there are certain
times when it might almost be supposed that the expressed wish of an
earthly monarch has its influence over the Divine will. It was Virgil
who observed of Augustus: _Nocte pluit tota redeunt spectacula mane_.

Transcriber's note: "It rained all night long; the games will be held
tomorrow.- JB

Louis attended mass as usualbut it was evident that his attention was
somewhat distracted from the presence of the Creator by the remembrance
of the creature. His mind was occupied during the service in reckoning
more than once the number of minutesthen of secondswhich separated
him from the blissful moment when the promenade would beginthat is to
saythe moment when Madame would set out with her maids of honor.
Besidesas a matter of courseeverybody at the chateau was ignorant of
the interview whi