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List Of Contents | Contents of Louise de la Valliere, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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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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