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List Of Contents | Contents of Louise de la Valliere, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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that the disposition of Holland does not seem friendly towards the Court
of France; that the symptoms of public feeling among the Dutch are
alarming as regards your majesty; that certain medals have been struck
with insulting devices."

"Towards me?" exclaimed the young king, excitedly.

"Oh, no! sire, no; insulting is not the word; I was mistaken, I ought to
have said immeasurably flattering to the Dutch."

"Oh! if that be so, the pride of the Dutch is a matter of indifference to
me," said the king, sighing.

"Your majesty is right, a thousand times right.  However, it is never a
mistake in politics, your majesty knows better than myself, to exaggerate
a little in order to obtain a concession in your own favor.  If your
majesty were to complain as if your susceptibility were offended, you
would stand in a far higher position with them."

"What are these medals you speak of?" inquired Louis; "for if I allude to
them, I ought to know what to say."

"Upon my word, sire, I cannot very well tell you - some overweeningly
conceited device - that is the sense of it; the words have little to do
with the thing itself."

"Very good!  I will mention the word 'medal,' and they can understand it
if they like."

"Oh! they will understand without any difficulty.  Your majesty can also
slip in a few words about certain pamphlets which are being circulated."

"Never!  Pamphlets befoul those who write them much more than those
against whom they are written.  M. Colbert, I thank you.  You can leave
now.  Do not forget the hour I have fixed, and be there yourself."

"Sire, I await your majesty's list."

"True," returned the king; and he began to meditate; he had not thought
of the list in the least.  The clock struck half-past eleven.  The king's
face revealed a violent conflict between pride and love.  The political
conversation had dispelled a good deal of the irritation which Louis had
felt, and La Valliere's pale, worn features, in his imagination, spoke a
very different language from that of the Dutch medals, or the Batavian
pamphlets.  He sat for ten minutes debating within himself whether he
should or should not return to La Valliere; but Colbert having with some
urgency respectfully requested that the list might be furnished him, the
king was ashamed to be thinking of mere matters of affection where
important state affairs required his attention.  He therefore dictated:
the queen-mother, the queen, Madame, Madame de Motteville, Madame de
Chatillon, Madame de Navailles; and, for the men, M. le Prince, M. de
Gramont, M. de Manicamp, M. de Saint-Aignan, and the officers on duty.

"The ministers?" asked Colbert.

"As a matter of course, and the secretaries also."

"Sire, I will leave at once in order to get everything prepared; the
orders will be at the different residences to-morrow."

"Say rather to-day," replied Louis mournfully, as the clock struck
twelve.  It was the very hour when poor La Valliere was almost dying from
anguish and bitter suffering.  The king's attendants entered, it being
the hour of his retirement to his chamber; the queen, indeed, had been
waiting for more than an hour.  Louis accordingly retreated to his
bedroom with a sigh; but, as he sighed, he congratulated himself on his
courage, and applauded himself for having been as firm in love as in
affairs of state.


Chapter XXVIII:
The Ambassadors.

D'Artagnan had, with very few exceptions, learned almost all of the
particulars of what we have just been relating; for among his friends he
reckoned all the useful, serviceable people in the royal household, -
officious attendants who were proud of being recognized by the captain of
the musketeers, for the captain's influence was very great; and then, in
addition to any ambitious vies they may have imagined he could promote,
they were proud of being regarded as worth being spoken to by a man as
brave as D'Artagnan.  In this manner D'Artagnan learned every morning
what he had not been able either to see or to ascertain the night before,
from the simple fact of his not being ubiquitous; so that, with the
information he had been able by his own means to pick up during the day,
and with what he had gathered from others, he succeeded in making up a
bundle of weapons, which he was in the prudent habit of using only when
occasion required.  In this way, D'Artagnan's two eyes rendered him the
same service as the hundred eyes of Argus.  Political secrets, bedside
revelations, hints or scraps of conversation dropped by the courtiers on
the threshold of the royal ante-chamber, in this way D'Artagnan managed
to ascertain, and to store away everything in the vast and impenetrable
mausoleum of his memory, by the side of those royal secrets so dearly
bought and faithfully preserved.  He therefore knew of the king's
interview with Colbert, and of the appointment made for the ambassadors
in the morning, and, consequently, that the question of the medals would
be brought up for debate; and, while he was arranging and constructing
the conversation upon a few chance words which had reached his ears, he
returned to his post in the royal apartments, so as to be there at the
very moment the king awoke.  It happened that the king rose very early, -
proving thereby that he, too, on his side, had slept but indifferently.
Towards seven o'clock, he half-opened his door very gently.  D'Artagnan
was at his post.  His majesty was pale, and seemed wearied; he had not,
moreover, quite finished dressing.

"Send for M. de Saint-Aignan," he said.

Saint-Aignan was probably awaiting a summons, for the messenger, when he
reached his apartment, found him already dressed.  Saint-Aignan hastened
to the king in obedience to the summons.  A moment afterwards the king
and Saint-Aignan passed by together - the king walking first.  D'Artagnan
went to the window which looked out upon the courtyard; he had no need to
put himself to the trouble of watching in what direction the king went,
for he had no difficulty in guessing beforehand where his majesty was
going.  The king, in fact, bent his steps towards the apartments of the
maids of honor, - a circumstance which in no way astonished D'Artagnan,
for he more than suspected, although La Valliere had not breathed a
syllable on the subject, that the king had some kind of reparation to
make.  Saint-Aignan followed him as he had done the previous evening,
rather less uneasy in his mind, though still slightly agitated, for he
fervently trusted that at seven o'clock in the morning there might be
only himself and the king awake amongst the august guests at the palace.
D'Artagnan stood at the window, careless and perfectly calm in his
manner.  One could almost have sworn that he noticed nothing, and was
utterly ignorant who were these two hunters after adventures, passing
like shadows across the courtyard, wrapped up in their cloaks.  And yet,
all the while that D'Artagnan appeared not to be looking at them at all,
he did not for one moment lose sight of them, and while he whistled that
old march of the musketeers, which he rarely recalled except under great
emergencies, he conjectured and prophesied how terrible would be the
storm which would be raised on the king's return.  In fact, when the king
entered La Valliere's apartment and found the room empty and the bed
untouched, he began to be alarmed, and called out to Montalais, who
immediately answered the summons; but her astonishment was equal to the
king's.  All that she could tell his majesty was, that she had fancied
she had heard La Valliere's weeping during a portion of the night, but,
knowing that his majesty had paid her a visit, she had not dared to
inquire what was the matter.

"But," inquired the king, "where do you suppose she is gone?"

"Sire," replied Montalais, "Louise is of a very sentimental disposition,
and as I have often seen her rise at daybreak in order to go out into the
garden, she may, perhaps, be there now."

This appeared probable, and the king immediately ran down the staircase
in search of the fugitive.  D'Artagnan saw him grow very pale, and
talking in an excited manner with his companion, as he went towards the
gardens; Saint-Aignan following him, out of breath.  D'Artagnan did not
stir from the window, but went on whistling, looking as if he saw
nothing, yet seeing everything.  "Come, come," he murmured, when the king
disappeared, "his majesty's passion is stronger than I thought; he is now
doing, I think, what he never did for Mademoiselle de Mancini." (6)

In a quarter of an hour the king again appeared: he had looked
everywhere, was completely out of breath, and, as a matter of course, had
not discovered anything.  Saint-Aignan, who still followed him, was
fanning himself with his hat, and in a gasping voice, asking for
information about La Valliere from such of the servants as were about, in
fact from every one he met.  Among others he came across Manicamp, who
had arrived from Fontainebleau by easy stages; for whilst others had
performed the journey in six hours, he had taken four and twenty.

"Have you seen Mademoiselle de la Valliere?" Saint-Aignan asked him.

Whereupon Manicamp, dreamy and absent as usual, answered, thinking that
some one was asking him about De Guiche, "Thank you, the comte is a
little better."

And he continued on his way until he reached the ante-chamber where
D'Artagnan was, whom he asked to explain how it was that the king looked,
as he thought, so bewildered; to which D'Artagnan replied that he was
quite mistaken, that the king, on the contrary, was as lively and merry
as he could possibly be.

In the midst of all this, eight o'clock struck.  It was usual for the
king to take his breakfast at this hour, for the code of etiquette
prescribed that the king should always be hungry at eight o'clock.  His
breakfast was laid upon a small table in his bedroom, and he ate very
fast.  Saint-Aignan, of whom he would not lose sight, waited on the
king.  He then disposed of several military audiences, during which he
dispatched Saint-Aignan to see what he could find out.  Then, still

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