Make your own free website on Tripod.com

List Of Contents | Contents of Louise de la Valliere, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >


"Yes, sire, some peasants had seen it among their potatoes." (2)

"And what kind of animal was it?"

"A short, thick beast."

"You may as well tell me, monsieur, that De Guiche had some idea of
committing suicide; for I have seen him hunt, and he is an active and
vigorous hunter.  Whenever he fires at an animal brought to bay and held
in check by the dogs, he takes every possible precaution, and yet he
fires with a carbine, and on this occasion he seems to have faced the
boar with pistols only."

Manicamp started.

"A costly pair of pistols, excellent weapons to fight a duel with a man
and not a wild boar.  What an absurdity!"

"There are some things, sire, which are difficult of explanation."

"You are quite right, and the event which we are now discussing is
certainly one of them.  Go on."

During the recital, Saint-Aignan, who probably would have made a sign to
Manicamp to be careful what he was about, found that the king's glance
was constantly fixed upon himself, so that it was utterly impossible to
communicate with Manicamp in any way.  As for D'Artagnan, the statue of
Silence at Athens was far more noisy and far more expressive than he.
Manicamp, therefore, was obliged to continue in the same way he had
begun, and so contrived to get more and more entangled in his
explanation.  "Sire," he said, "this is probably how the affair
happened.  Guiche was waiting to receive the boar as it rushed towards
him."

"On foot or on horseback?" inquired the king.

"On horseback.  He fired upon the brute and missed his aim, and then it
dashed upon him."

"And the horse was killed."

"Ah! your majesty knows that, then."

"I have been told that a horse has been found lying dead in the cross-
roads of the Bois-Rochin, and I presume it was De Guiche's horse."

"Perfectly true, sire, it was his."

"Well, so much for the horse, and now for De Guiche?"

"De Guiche, once down, was attacked and worried by the wild boar, and
wounded in the hand and in the chest."

"It is a horrible accident, but it must be admitted it was De Guiche's
own fault.  How could he possibly have gone to hunt such an animal merely
armed with pistols; he must have forgotten the fable of Adonis?"

Manicamp rubbed his ear in seeming perplexity.  "Very true," he said, "it
was very imprudent."

"Can you explain it, Monsieur Manicamp?"

"Sire, what is written is written!"

"Ah! you are a fatalist."

Manicamp looked very uncomfortable and ill at ease.

"I am angry with you, Monsieur Manicamp," continued the king.

"With me, sire?"

"Yes.  How was it that you, who are De Guiche's intimate friend, and who
know that he is subject to such acts of folly, did not stop him in time?"

Manicamp no longer knew what to do; the tone in which the king spoke was
anything but that of a credulous man.  On the other hand, it did not
indicate any particular severity, nor did he seem to care very much about
the cross-examination.  There was more of raillery in it than menace.
"And you say, then," continued the king, "that it was positively De
Guiche's horse that was found dead?"

"Quite positive, sire."

"Did that astonish you?"

"No, sire; for your majesty will remember that, at the last hunt, M. de
Saint-Maure had a horse killed under him, and in the same way."

"Yes, but that one was ripped open."

"Of course, sire."

"Had Guiche's horse been ripped open like M. de Saint-Maure's horse, I
should not have been astonished."

Manicamp opened his eyes very wide.

"Am I mistaken," resumed the king, "was it not in the frontal bone that
De Guiche's horse was struck?  You must admit, Monsieur de Manicamp, that
that is a very singular place for a wild boar to attack."

"You are aware, sire, that the horse is a very intelligent animal, and he
doubtless endeavoured to defend himself."

"But a horse defends himself with his heels and not with his head."

"In that case, the terrified horse may have slipped or fallen down," said
Manicamp, "and the boar, you understand sire, the boar - "

"Oh!  I understand that perfectly, as far as the horse is concerned; but
how about his rider?"

"Well! that, too, is simple enough; the boar left the horse and attacked
the rider; and, as I have already had the honor of informing your
majesty, shattered De Guiche's hand at the very moment he was about to
discharge his second pistol at him, and then, with a gouge of his tusk,
made that terrible hole in his chest."

"Nothing is more likely; really, Monsieur de Manicamp, you are wrong in
placing so little confidence in your own eloquence, and you can tell a
story most admirably."

"Your majesty is exceedingly kind," said Manicamp, saluting him in the
most embarrassed manner.

"From this day henceforth, I will prohibit any gentleman attached to my
court going out to a similar encounter.  Really, one might just as well
permit duelling."

Manicamp started, and moved as if he were about to withdraw.  "Is your
majesty satisfied?"

"Delighted; but do not withdraw yet, Monsieur de Manicamp," said Louis,
"I have something to say to you."

"Well, well!" thought D'Artagnan, "there is another who is not up to the
mark;" and he uttered a sigh which might signify, "Oh! the men of _our_
stamp, where are they _now?_"

At this moment an usher lifted up the curtain before the door, and
announced the king's physician.

"Ah!" exclaimed Louis, "here comes Monsieur Valot, who has just been to
see M. de Guiche.  We shall now hear news of the man maltreated by the
boar."

Manicamp felt more uncomfortable than ever.

"In this way, at least," added the king, "our conscience will be quite
clear."  And he looked at D'Artagnan, who did not seem in the slightest
degree discomposed.


Chapter XVIII:
The Physician.

M. Valot entered.  The position of the different persons present was
precisely the same: the king was seated, Saint-Aignan leaning over the
back of his armchair, D'Artagnan with his back against the wall, and
Manicamp still standing.

"Well, M. Valot," said the king, "did you obey my directions?"

"With the greatest alacrity, sire."

"You went to the doctor's house in Fontainebleau?"

"Yes, sire."

"And you found M. de Guiche there?"

"I did, sire."

"What state was he in? - speak unreservedly."

"In a very sad state indeed, sire."

"The wild boar did not quite devour him, however?"

"Devour whom?"

"De Guiche."

"What wild boar?"

"The boar that wounded him."

"M. de Guiche wounded by a boar?"

"So it is said, at least."

"By a poacher, rather, or by a jealous husband, or an ill-used lover,
who, in order to be revenged, fired upon him."

"What is it that you say, Monsieur Valot?  Were not M. de Guiche's wounds
produced by defending himself against a wild boar?"

"M. de Guiche's wounds are the result of a pistol-bullet that broke his
ring-finger and the little finger of the right hand, and afterwards
buried itself in the intercostal muscles of the chest."

"A bullet!  Are you sure Monsieur de Guiche was wounded by a _bullet?_"
exclaimed the king, pretending to look much surprised.

"Indeed, I am, sire; so sure, in fact, that here it is."  And he
presented to the king a half-flattened bullet, which the king looked at,
but did not touch.

"Did he have that in his chest, poor fellow?" he asked.

"Not precisely.  The ball did not penetrate, but was flattened, as you
see, either upon the trigger of the pistol or upon the right side of the
breast-bone."

"Good heavens!" said the king, seriously, "you said nothing to me about
this, Monsieur de Manicamp."

"Sire - "

"What does all this mean, then, this invention about hunting a wild boar
at nightfall?  Come, speak, monsieur."

"Sire - "

"It seems, then, that you are right," said the king, turning round
towards his captain of musketeers, "and that a duel actually took place."

The king possessed, to a greater extent than any one else, the faculty
enjoyed by the great in power or position, of compromising and dividing
those beneath him.  Manicamp darted a look full of reproaches at the
musketeer.  D'Artagnan understood the look at once, and not wishing to
remain beneath the weight of such an accusation, advanced a step forward,
and said: "Sire, your majesty commanded me to go and explore the place
where the cross-roads meet in the Bois-Rochin, and to report to you,
according to my own ideas, what had taken place there.  I submitted my
observations to you, but without denouncing any one.  It was your majesty
yourself who was the first to name the Comte de Guiche."

"Well, monsieur, well," said the king, haughtily; "you have done your
duty, and I am satisfied with you.  But you, Monsieur de Manicamp, have
failed in yours, for you have told me a falsehood."

"A falsehood, sire.  The expression is a hard one."

"Find a more accurate, then."

"Sire, I will not attempt to do so.  I have already been unfortunate
enough to displease your majesty, and it will, in every respect, be far
better for me to accept most humbly any reproaches you may think proper
to address to me."

"You are right, monsieur, whoever conceals the truth from me, risks my
displeasure."

"Sometimes, sire, one is ignorant of the truth."

"No further falsehood, monsieur, or I double the punishment."

Manicamp bowed and turned pale.  D'Artagnan again made another step
forward, determined to interfere, if the still increasing anger of the
king attained certain limits.

"You see, monsieur," continued the king, "that it is useless to deny the
thing any longer.  M. de Guiche has fought a duel."

"I do not deny it, sire, and it would have been truly generous on your
majesty's part not to have forced me to tell a falsehood."

"Forced?  Who forced you?"

"Sire, M. de Guiche is my friend.  Your majesty has forbidden duels under
pain of death.  A falsehood might save my friend's life, and I told it."

"Good!" murmured D'Artagnan, "an excellent fellow, upon my word."

"Instead of telling a falsehood, monsieur, you should have prevented him
from fighting," said the king.

"Oh! sire, your majesty, who is the most accomplished gentleman in

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >



Other sites:

db3nf.com screen-capture.net floresca.net simonova.net flora-source.com flora-source.com sourcecentral.com sourcecentral.com geocities.com