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List Of Contents | Contents of Louise de la Valliere, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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himself as to the proper course to be adopted.  In his impatience to
leave the field of battle, he had omitted to ascertain whether De Guiche
were dead or not.  A double hypothesis presented itself to De Wardes's
agitated mind; either De Guiche was killed, or De Guiche was wounded
only.  If he were killed, why should he leave his body in that manner to
the tender mercies of the wolves; it was a perfectly useless piece of
cruelty, for if De Guiche were dead, he certainly could not breathe a
syllable of what had passed; if he were not killed, why should he, De
Wardes, in leaving him there uncared for, allow himself to be regarded as
a savage, incapable of one generous feeling?  This last consideration
determined his line of conduct.

De Wardes immediately instituted inquires after Manicamp.  He was told
that Manicamp had been looking after De Guiche, and, not knowing where to
find him, had retired to bed.  De Wardes went and awoke the sleeper,
without any delay, and related the whole affair to him, which Manicamp
listened to in perfect silence, but with an expression of momentarily
increasing energy, of which his face could hardly have been supposed
capable.  It was only when De Wardes had finished, that Manicamp uttered
the words, "Let us go."

As they proceeded, Manicamp became more and more excited, and in
proportion as De Wardes related the details of the affair to him, his
countenance assumed every moment a darker expression.  "And so," he said,
when De Wardes had finished, "you think he is dead?"

"Alas, I do."

"And you fought in that manner, without witnesses?"

"He insisted upon it."

"It is very singular."

"What do you mean by saying it is singular?"

"That it is very unlike Monsieur de Guiche's disposition."

"You do not doubt my word, I suppose?"

"Hum! hum!"

"You do doubt it, then?"

"A little.  But I shall doubt it more than ever, I warn you, if I find
the poor fellow is really dead."

"Monsieur Manicamp!"

"Monsieur de Wardes!"

"It seems you intend to insult me."

"Just as you please.  The fact is, I never did like people who come and
say, 'I have killed such and such a gentleman in a corner; it is a great
pity, but I killed him in a perfectly honorable manner.'  It has an ugly
appearance, M. de Wardes."

"Silence! we have arrived."

In fact, the glade could now be seen, and in the open space lay the
motionless body of the dead horse.  To the right of the horse, upon the
dark grass, with his face against the ground, the poor comte lay, bathed
in his blood.  He had remained in the same spot, and did not even seem to
have made the slightest movement.  Manicamp threw himself on his knees,
lifted the comte in his arms, and found him quite cold, and steeped in
blood.  He let him gently fall again.  Then, stretching out his hand and
feeling all over the ground close to where the comte lay, he sought until
he found De Guiche's pistol.

"By Heaven!" he said, rising to his feet, pale as death and with the
pistol in his hand, "you are not mistaken, he is quite dead."

"Dead!" repeated De Wardes.

"Yes; and his pistol is still loaded," added Manicamp, looking into the
pan.

"But I told you that I took aim as he was walking towards me, and fired
at him at the very moment he was going to fire at me."

"Are you quite sure that you fought with him, Monsieur de Wardes?  I
confess that I am very much afraid it has been a foul assassination.
Nay, nay, no exclamations!  You have had your three shots, and his
pistol is still loaded.  You have killed his horse, and he, De Guiche,
one of the best marksmen in France, has not touched even either your
horse or yourself.  Well, Monsieur de Wardes, you have been very unlucky
in bringing me here; all the blood in my body seems to have mounted to my
head; and I verily believe that since so good an opportunity presents
itself, I shall blow your brains out on the spot.  So, Monsieur de
Wardes, recommend yourself to Heaven."

"Monsieur Manicamp, you cannot think of such a thing!"

"On the contrary, I am thinking of it very strongly."

"Would you assassinate me?"

"Without the slightest remorse, at least for the present."

"Are you a gentleman?"

"I have given a great many proofs of that."

"Let me defend my life, then, at least."

"Very likely; in order, I suppose, that you may do to me what you have
done to poor De Guiche."

And Manicamp slowly raised his pistol to the height of De Wardes's
breast, and with arm stretched out, and a fixed, determined look on his
face, took a careful aim.

De Wardes did not attempt a flight; he was completely terrified.  In the
midst, however, of this horrible silence, which lasted about a second,
but which seemed an age to De Wardes, a faint sigh was heard.

"Oh," exclaimed De Wardes, "he still lives!  Help, De Guiche, I am about
to be assassinated!"

Manicamp fell back a step or two, and the two young men saw the comte
raise himself slowly and painfully upon one hand.  Manicamp threw the
pistol away a dozen paces, and ran to his friend, uttering a cry of
delight.  De Wardes wiped his forehead, which was covered with a cold
perspiration.

"It was just in time," he murmured.

"Where are you hurt?" inquired Manicamp of De Guiche, "and whereabouts
are you wounded?"

De Guiche showed him his mutilated hand and his chest covered with blood.

"Comte," exclaimed De Wardes, "I am accused of having assassinated you;
speak, I implore you, and say that I fought loyally."

"Perfectly so," said the wounded man; "Monsieur de Wardes fought quite
loyally, and whoever says the contrary will make an enemy of me."

"Then, sir," said Manicamp, "assist me, in the first place, to carry this
gentleman home, and I will afterwards give you every satisfaction you
please; or, if you are in a hurry, we can do better still; let us stanch
the blood from the comte's wounds here, with your pocket-handkerchief and
mine, and then, as there are two shots left, we can have them between us."

"Thank you," said De Wardes.  "Twice already, in one hour, I have seen
death too close at hand to be agreeable; I don't like his look at all,
and I prefer your apologies."

Manicamp burst out laughing, and Guiche, too, in spite of his
sufferings.  The two young men wished to carry him, but he declared he
felt quite strong enough to walk alone.  The ball had broken his ring-
finger and his little finger, and then had glanced along his side, but
without penetrating deeply into his chest.  It was the pain rather than
the seriousness of the wound, therefore, which had overcome De Guiche.
Manicamp passed his arm under one of the count's shoulders, and De Wardes
did the same with the other, and in this way they brought him back to
Fontainebleau, to the house of the same doctor who had been present at
the death of the Franciscan, Aramis's predecessor.


Chapter XIV:
The King's Supper.

The king, while these matters were being arranged, was sitting at the
supper-table, and the not very large number of guests for that day had
taken their seats too, after the usual gesture intimating the royal
permission.  At this period of Louis XIV.'s reign, although etiquette was
not governed by the strict regulations subsequently adopted, the French
court had entirely thrown aside the traditions of good-fellowship and
patriarchal affability existing in the time of Henry IV., which the
suspicious mind of Louis XIII. had gradually replaced with pompous state
and ceremony, which he despaired of being able fully to realize.

The king, therefore, was seated alone at a small separate table, which,
like the desk of a president, overlooked the adjoining tables.  Although
we say a small table, we must not omit to add that this small table was
the largest one there.  Moreover, it was the one on which were placed the
greatest number and quantity of dishes, consisting of fish, game, meat,
fruit, vegetables, and preserves.  The king was young and full of vigor
and energy, very fond of hunting, addicted to all violent exercises of
the body, possessing, besides, like all the members of the Bourbon
family, a rapid digestion and an appetite speedily renewed.  Louis XIV.
was a formidable table-companion; he delighted in criticising his cooks;
but when he honored them by praise and commendation, the honor was
overwhelming.  The king began by eating several kinds of soup, either
mixed together or taken separately.  He intermixed, or rather separated,
each of the soups by a glass of old wine.  He ate quickly and somewhat
greedily.  Porthos, who from the beginning had, out of respect, been
waiting for a jog of D'Artagnan's arm, seeing the king make such rapid
progress, turned to the musketeer and said in a low voice:

"It seems as if one might go on now; his majesty is very encouraging,
from the example he sets.  Look."

"The king eats," said D'Artagnan, "but he talks at the same time; try and
manage matters in such a manner that, if he should happen to address a
remark to you, he will not find you with your mouth full - which would be
very disrespectful."

"The best way, in that case," said Porthos, "is to eat no supper at all;
and yet I am very hungry, I admit, and everything looks and smells most
invitingly, as if appealing to all my senses at once."

"Don't think of not eating for a moment," said D'Artagnan; "that would
put his majesty out terribly.  The king has a saying, 'that he who works
well, eats well,' and he does not like people to eat indifferently at his
table."

"How can I avoid having my mouth full if I eat?" said Porthos.

"All you have to do," replied the captain of the musketeers, "is simply
to swallow what you have in it, whenever the king does you the honor to
address a remark to you."

"Very good," said Porthos; and from that moment he began to eat with a
certain well-bred enthusiasm.

The king occasionally looked at the different persons who were at table
with him, and, _en connoisseur_, could appreciate the different
dispositions of his guests.

"Monsieur du Vallon!" he said.

Porthos was enjoying a _salmi de lievre_, and swallowed half of the

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