the name of every lady, but let him take special care that he does not begin again." "Were he to die a hundred times, sire, he would begin again if your majesty's honor were in any way called in question." This remark was direct enough. But we have already said that the incense of flattery was very pleasing to the king, and, provided he received it, he was not very particular as to its quality. "Very well, very well," he said, as he dismissed Manicamp, "I will see De Guiche myself, and make him listen to reason." And as Manicamp left the apartment, the king turned round towards the three spectators of this scene, and said, "Tell me, Monsieur d'Artagnan, how does it happen that your sight is so imperfect? - you, whose eyes are generally so very good." "My sight bad, sire?" "Certainly." "It must be the case since your majesty says so; but in what respect, may I ask?" "Why, with regard to what occurred in the Bois-Rochin." "Ah! ah!" "Certainly. You pretended to have seen the tracks of two horses, to have detected the footprints of two men; and have described the particulars of an engagement, which you assert took place. Nothing of the sort occurred; pure illusion on your part." "Ah! ah!" said D'Artagnan. "Exactly the same thing with the galloping to and fro of the horses, and the other indications of a struggle. It was the struggle of De Guiche against the wild boar, and absolutely nothing else; only the struggle was a long and a terrible one, it seems." "Ah! ah!" continued D'Artagnan. "And when I think that I almost believed it for a moment - but, then, you told it with such confidence." "I admit, sire, that I must have been very short-sighted," said D'Artagnan, with a readiness of humor which delighted the king. "You do admit it, then?" "Admit it, sire, most assuredly I do." "So now that you see the thing - " "In quite a different light from that in which I saw it half an hour ago." "And to what, then, do you attribute this difference in your opinion?" "Oh! a very simple thing, sire; half an hour ago I returned from Bois- Rochin, where I had nothing to light me but a stupid stable lantern - " "While now?" "While now I have all the wax-lights of your cabinet, and more than that, your majesty's own eyes, which illuminate everything, like the blazing sun at noonday." The king began to laugh; and Saint-Aignan broke out into convulsions of merriment. "It is precisely like M. Valot," said D'Artagnan, resuming the conversation where the king had left off; "he has been imagining all along, that not only was M. de Guiche wounded by a bullet, but still more, that he extracted it, even, from his chest." "Upon my word," said Valot, "I assure you - " "Now, did you not believe that?" continued D'Artagnan. "Yes," said Valot; "not only did I believe it, but, at this very moment, I would swear it." "Well, my dear doctor, you have dreamt it." "I have dreamt it!" "M. de Guiche's wound - a mere dream; the bullet, a dream. So, take my advice, and prate no more about it." "Well said," returned the king, "M. d'Artagnan's advice is sound. Do not speak of your dream to any one, Monsieur Valot, and, upon the word of a gentleman, you will have no occasion to repent it. Good evening, gentlemen; a very sad affair, indeed, is a wild boar-hunt!" "A very serious thing, indeed," repeated D'Artagnan, in a loud voice, "is a wild boar-hunt!" and he repeated it in every room through which he passed; and left the chateau, taking Valot with him. "And now we are alone," said the king to Saint-Aignan, "what is the name of De Guiche's adversary?" Saint-Aignan looked at the king. "Oh! do not hesitate," said the king; "you know that I am bound beforehand to forgive." "De Wardes," said Saint-Aignan. "Very good," said Louis XIV.; and then, retiring to his own room, added to himself, "To forgive is not to forget." Chapter XX: Showing the Advantage of Having Two Strings to One's Bow. Manicamp quitted the king's apartment, delighted at having succeeded so well, when, just as he reached the bottom of the staircase and was passing a doorway, he felt that some one suddenly pulled him by the sleeve. He turned round and recognized Montalais, who was waiting for him in the passage, and who, in a very mysterious manner, with her body bent forward, and in a low tone of voice, said to him, "Follow me, monsieur, and without any delay, if you please." "Where to, mademoiselle?" inquired Manicamp. "In the first place, a true knight would not have asked such a question, but would have followed me without requiring any explanation." "Well, mademoiselle, I am quite ready to conduct myself as a true knight." "No; it is too late, and you cannot take the credit of it. We are going to Madame's apartment, so come at once." "Ah, ah!" said Manicamp. "Lead on, then." And he followed Montalais, who ran before him as light as Galatea. "This time," said Manicamp, as he followed his guide, "I do not think that stories about hunting expeditions would be acceptable. We will try, however, and if need be - well, if there should be any occasion for it, we must try something else." Montalais still ran on. "How fatiguing it is," thought Manicamp, "to have need of one's head and legs at the same time." At last, however, they arrived. Madame had just finished undressing, and was in a most elegant _deshabille_, but it must be understood that she had changed her dress before she had any idea of being subjected to the emotions now agitating her. She was waiting with the most restless impatience; and Montalais and Manicamp found her standing near the door. At the sound of their approaching footsteps, Madame came forward to meet them. "Ah!" she said, "at last!" "Here is M. Manicamp," replied Montalais. Manicamp bowed with the greatest respect; Madame signed to Montalais to withdraw, and she immediately obeyed. Madame followed her with her eyes, in silence, until the door closed behind her, and then, turning towards Manicamp, said, "What is the matter? - and is it true, as I am told, Monsieur de Manicamp, that some one is lying wounded in the chateau?" "Yes, Madame, unfortunately so - Monsieur de Guiche." "Yes, Monsieur de Guiche," repeated the princess. "I had, in fact, heard it rumored, but not confirmed. And so, in truth, it is Monsieur de Guiche who has been thus unfortunate?" "M. de Guiche himself, Madame." "Are you aware, M. de Manicamp," said the princes, hastily, "that the king has the strongest antipathy to duels?" "Perfectly so, Madame; but a duel with a wild beast is not answerable." "Oh, you will not insult me by supposing that I credit the absurd fable, with what object I cannot tell, respecting M. de Guiche having been wounded by a wild boar. No, no, monsieur; the real truth is known, and, in addition to the inconvenience of his wound, M. de Guiche runs the risk of losing his liberty if not his life." "Alas! Madame, I am well aware of that, but what is to be done?" "You have seen the king?" "Yes, Madame." "What did you say to him?" "I told him how M. de Guiche went to the chase, and how a wild boar rushed forth out of the Bois-Rochin; how M. de Guiche fired at it, and how, in fact, the furious brute dashed at De Guiche, killed his horse, and grievously wounded himself." "And the king believed that?" "Implicitly." "Oh, you surprise me, Monsieur de Manicamp; you surprise me very much." And Madame walked up and down the room, casting a searching look from time to time at Manicamp, who remained motionless and impassible in the same place. At last she stopped. "And yet," she said, "every one here seems unanimous in giving another cause for this wound." "What cause, Madame?" said Manicamp; "may I be permitted, without indiscretion, to ask your highness?" "You ask such a question! You, M. de Guiche's intimate friend, his confidant, indeed!" "Oh, Madame! his intimate friend - yes; confidant - no. De Guiche is a man who can keep his own secrets, who has some of his own certainly, but who never breathes a syllable about them. De Guiche is discretion itself, Madame." "Very well, then; those secrets which M. de Guiche keeps so scrupulously, I shall have the pleasure of informing you of," said the princess, almost spitefully; "for the king may possibly question you a second time, and if, on the second occasion, you were to repeat the same story to him, he possibly might not be very well satisfied with it." "But, Madame, I think your highness is mistaken with regard to the king. His majesty was perfectly satisfied with me, I assure you." "In that case, permit me to assure you, Monsieur de Manicamp, it only proves one thing, which is, that his majesty is very easily satisfied." "I think your highness is mistaken in arriving at such an opinion; his majesty is well known not to be contented except with very good reason." "And do you suppose that he will thank you for your officious falsehood, when he will learn to-morrow that M. de Guiche had, on behalf of his friend M. de Bragelonne, a quarrel which ended in a hostile meeting?" "A quarrel on M. de Bragelonne's account," said Manicamp, with the most innocent expression in the world; "what does your royal highness do me the honor to tell me?" "What is there astonishing in that? M. de Guiche is susceptible, irritable, and easily loses his temper." "On the contrary, Madame, I know M. de Guiche to be very patient, and never susceptible or irritable except upon very good grounds." "But is not friendship a just ground?" said the princess. "Oh, certainly, Madame; and particularly for a heart like his." "Very good; you will not deny, I suppose, that M. de Bragelonne is M. de Guiche's good friend?" "A great friend." "Well, then, M. de Guiche has taken M. de Bragelonne's part; and as M. de Bragelonne was absent and could not fight, he fought for him." Manicamp began to smile, and moved his head and shoulders very slightly, as much as to say, "Oh, if you will positively have it so - "
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