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List Of Contents | Contents of Louise de la Valliere, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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back.  His name, pronounced in such a manner, made him start, and by a
vigorous effort of his gullet he absorbed the whole mouthful.

"Sire," replied Porthos, in a stifled voice, but sufficiently
intelligible, nevertheless.

"Let those _filets d'agneau_ be handed to Monsieur du Vallon," said the
king; "do you like brown meats, M. du Vallon?"

"Sire, I like everything," replied Porthos.

D'Artagnan whispered: "Everything your majesty sends me."

Porthos repeated: "Everything your majesty sends me," an observation
which the king apparently received with great satisfaction.

"People eat well who work well," replied the king, delighted to have _en
tete-a-tete_ a guest who could eat as Porthos did.  Porthos received the
dish of lamb, and put a portion of it on his plate.

"Well?" said the king.

"Exquisite," said Porthos, calmly.

"Have you as good mutton in your part of the country, Monsieur du
Vallon?" continued the king.

"Sire, I believe that from my own province, as everywhere else, the best
of everything is sent to Paris for your majesty's use; but, on the other
hand, I do not eat lamb in the same way your majesty does."

"Ah, ah! and how do you eat it?"

"Generally, I have a lamb dressed whole."

"_Whole?_"

"Yes, sire."

"In what manner, Monsieur du Vallon?"

"In this, sire: my cook, who is a German, first stuffs the lamb in
question with small sausages he procures from Strasburg, force-meat balls
from Troyes, and larks from Pithiviers; by some means or other, which I
am not acquainted with, he bones the lamb as he would do a fowl, leaving
the skin on, however, which forms a brown crust all over the animal; when
it is cut in beautiful slices, in the same way as an enormous sausage, a
rose-colored gravy pours forth, which is as agreeable to the eye as it is
exquisite to the palate."  And Porthos finished by smacking his lips.

The king opened his eyes with delight, and, while cutting some of the
_faisan en daube_, which was being handed to him, he said:

"That is a dish I should very much like to taste, Monsieur du Vallon.  Is
it possible! a whole lamb!"

"Absolutely an entire lamb, sire."

"Pass those pheasants to M. du Vallon; I perceive he is an amateur."

The order was immediately obeyed.  Then, continuing the conversation, he
said: "And you do not find the lamb too fat?"

"No, sire, the fat falls down at the same time as the gravy does, and
swims on the surface; then the servant who carves removes the fat with a
spoon, which I have had expressly made for that purpose."

"Where do you reside?" inquired the king.

"At Pierrefonds, sire."

"At Pierrefonds; where is that, M. du Vallon - near Belle-Isle?"

"Oh, no, sire!  Pierrefonds is in the Soissonnais."

"I thought you alluded to the lamb on account of the salt marshes."

"No, sire, I have marshes which are not salt, it is true, but which are
not the less valuable on that account."

The king had now arrived at the _entrements_, but without losing sight of
Porthos, who continued to play his part in the best manner.

"You have an excellent appetite, M. du Vallon," said the king, "and you
make an admirable guest at table."

"Ah! sire, if your majesty were ever to pay a visit to Pierrefonds, we
would both of us eat our lamb together; for your appetite is not an
indifferent one by any means."

D'Artagnan gave Porthos a kick under the table, which made Porthos color
up.

"At your majesty's present happy age," said Porthos, in order to repair
the mistake he had made, "I was in the musketeers, and nothing could ever
satisfy me then.  Your majesty has an excellent appetite, as I have
already had the honor of mentioning, but you select what you eat with
quite too much refinement to be called for one moment a great eater."

The king seemed charmed at his guest's politeness.

"Will you try some of these creams?" he said to Porthos.

"Sire, you majesty treats me with far too much kindness to prevent me
speaking the whole truth."

"Pray do so, M. du Vallon."

"Will, sire, with regard to sweet dishes I only recognize pastry, and
even that should be rather solid; all these frothy substances swell the
stomach, and occupy a space which seems to me to be too precious to be so
badly tenanted."

"Ah! gentlemen," said the king, indicating Porthos by a gesture, "here is
indeed a model of gastronomy.  It was in such a manner that our fathers,
who so well knew what good living was, used to _eat_, while we," added
his majesty, "do nothing but tantalize with our stomachs."  And as he
spoke, he took the breast of a chicken with ham, while Porthos attacked a
dish of partridges and quails.  The cup-bearer filled his majesty's
glass.  "Give M. du Vallon some of my wine," said the king.  This was one
of the greatest honors of the royal table.  D'Artagnan pressed his
friend's knee.  "If  you could only manage to swallow the half of that
boar's head I see yonder," said he to Porthos, "I shall believe you will
be a duke and peer within the next twelvemonth."

"Presently," said Porthos, phlegmatically; "I shall come to that by and
by."

In fact it was not long before it came to the boar's turn, for the king
seemed to take pleasure in urging on his guest; he did not pass any of
the dishes to Porthos until he had tasted them himself, and he
accordingly took some of the boar's head.  Porthos showed that he could
keep pace with his sovereign; and, instead of eating the half, as
D'Artagnan had told him, he ate three-fourths of it.  "It is impossible,"
said the king in an undertone, "that a gentleman who eats so good a
supper every day, and who has such beautiful teeth, can be otherwise than
the most straightforward, upright man in my kingdom."

"Do you hear?" said D'Artagnan in his friend's ear.

"Yes; I think I am rather in favor," said Porthos, balancing himself on
his chair.

"Oh! you are in luck's way."

The king and Porthos continued to eat in the same manner, to the great
satisfaction of the other guests, some of whom, from emulation, had
attempted to follow them, but were obliged to give up half-way.  The king
soon began to get flushed and the reaction of the blood to his face
announced that the moment of repletion had arrived.  It was then that
Louis XIV., instead of becoming gay and cheerful, as most good livers
generally do, became dull, melancholy, and taciturn.  Porthos, on the
contrary, was lively and communicative.  D'Artagnan's foot had more than
once to remind him of this peculiarity of the king.  The dessert now made
its appearance.  The king had ceased to think anything further of
Porthos; he turned his eyes anxiously towards the entrance-door, and he
was heard occasionally to inquire how it happened that Monsieur de Saint-
Aignan was so long in arriving.  At last, at the moment when his majesty
was finishing a pot of preserved plums with a deep sigh, Saint-Aignan
appeared.  The king's eyes, which had become somewhat dull, immediately
began to sparkle.  The comte advanced towards the king's table, and Louis
rose at his approach.  Everybody got up at the same time, including
Porthos, who was just finishing an almond-cake capable of making the jaws
of a crocodile stick together.  The supper was over.


Chapter XV:
After Supper.

The king took Saint-Aignan by the arm, and passed into the adjoining
apartment.  "What has detained you, comte?" said the king.

"I was bringing the answer, sire," replied the comte.

"She has taken a long time to reply to what I wrote her."

"Sire, your majesty deigned to write in verse, and Mademoiselle de la
Valliere wished to repay your majesty in the same coin; that is to say,
in gold."

"Verses!  Saint-Aignan," exclaimed the king in ecstasy.  "Give them to me
at once."  And Louis broke the seal of a little letter, inclosing the
verses which history has preserved entire for us, and which are more
meritorious in invention than in execution.  Such as they were, however,
the king was enchanted with them, and exhibited his satisfaction by
unequivocal transports of delight; but the universal silence which
reigned in the rooms warned Louis, so sensitively particular with regard
to good breeding, that his delight must give rise to various
interpretations.  He turned aside and put the note in his pocket, and
then advancing a few steps, which brought him again to the threshold of
the door close to his guests, he said, "M. du Vallon, I have seen you to-
day with the greatest pleasure, and my pleasure will be equally great to
see you again."  Porthos bowed as the Colossus of Rhodes would have done,
and retired from the room with his face towards the king.  "M.
d'Artagnan," continued the king, "you will await my orders in the
gallery; I am obliged to you for having made me acquainted with M. du
Vallon.  Gentlemen," addressing himself to the other guests, "I return to
Paris to-morrow on account of the departure of the Spanish and Dutch
ambassadors.  Until to-morrow then."

The apartment was immediately cleared of the guests.  The king took Saint-
Aignan by the arm, made him read La Valliere's verses over again, and
said, "What do you think of them?"

"Charming, sire."

"They charm me, in fact, and if they were known - "

"Oh! the professional poets would be jealous of them; but it is not
likely they will know anything about them."

"Did you give her mine?"

"Oh! sire, she positively devoured them."

"They were very weak, I am afraid."

"That is not what Mademoiselle de la Valliere said of them."

"Do you think she was pleased with them?"

"I am sure of it, sire."

"I must answer, then."

"Oh! sire, immediately after supper?  Your majesty will fatigue yourself."

"You are quite right; study after eating is notoriously injurious."

"The labor of a poet especially so; and besides, there is great
excitement prevailing at Mademoiselle de la Valliere's."

"What do you mean?"

"With her as with all the ladies of the court."

"Why?"

"On account of poor De Guiche's accident."

"Has anything serious happened to De Guiche, then?"

"Yes, sire, he has one hand nearly destroyed, a hole in his breast; in

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