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 > >

sign of acknowledgement to the musketeer, he threw the bridle to the
groom, and darted into the vestibule, violently pushed open the door, and
entered the reception-room.  Manicamp, Malicorne, and the groom remained
outside, D'Artagnan alone following him.  When he entered the reception-
room, the first object which met his gaze was Louise herself, not simply
on her knees, but lying at the foot of a large stone crucifix.  The young
girl was stretched upon the damp flag-stones, scarcely visible in the
gloom of the apartment, which was lighted only by means of a narrow
window, protected by bars and completely shaded by creeping plants.  When
the king saw her in this state, he thought she was dead, and uttered a
loud cry, which made D'Artagnan hurry into the room.  The king had
already passed one of his arms round her body, and D'Artagnan assisted
him in raising the poor girl, whom the torpor of death seemed already to
have taken possession of.  D'Artagnan seized hold of the alarm-bell and
rang with all his might.  The Carmelite sisters immediately hastened at
the summons, and uttered loud exclamations of alarm and indignation at
the sight of the two men holding a woman in their arms.  The superior
also hurried to the scene of action, but far more a creature of the world
than any of the female members of the court, notwithstanding her
austerity of manners, she recognized the king at the first glance, by the
respect which those present exhibited for him, as well as by the
imperious and authoritative way in which he had thrown the whole
establishment into confusion.  As soon as she saw the king, she retired
to her own apartments, in order to avoid compromising her dignity.  But
by one of the nuns she sent various cordials, Hungary water, etc., etc.,
and ordered that all the doors should immediately be closed, a command
which was just in time, for the king's distress was fast becoming of a
most clamorous and despairing character.  He had almost decided to send
for his own physician, when La Valliere exhibited signs of returning
animation.  The first object which met her gaze, as she opened her eyes,
was the king at her feet; in all probability she did not recognize him,
for she uttered a deep sigh full of anguish and distress.  Louis fixed
his eyes devouringly upon her face; and when, in the course of a few
moments, she recognized Louis, she endeavored to tear herself from his
embrace.

"Oh, heavens!" she murmured, "is not the sacrifice yet made?"

"No, no!" exclaimed the king, "and it shall _not_ be made, I swear."

Notwithstanding her weakness and utter despair, she rose from the ground,
saying, "It must be made, however; it must be; so do not stay me in my
purpose."

"I leave you to sacrifice yourself!  I! never, never!" exclaimed the king.

"Well," murmured D'Artagnan, "I may as well go now.  As soon as they
begin to speak, we may as well prevent there being any listeners."  And
he quitted the room, leaving the lovers alone.

"Sire," continued La Valliere, "not another word, I implore you.  Do not
destroy the only future I can hope for - my salvation; do not destroy the
glory and brightness of your own future for a mere caprice."

"A caprice?" cried the king.

"Oh, sire! it is now, only, that I can see clearly into your heart."

"You, Louise, what mean you?"

"An inexplicable impulse, foolish and unreasonable in its nature, may
ephemerally appear to offer a sufficient excuse for your conduct; but
there are duties imposed upon you which are incompatible with your regard
for a poor girl such as I am.  So, forget me."

"I forget you!"

"You have already done so, once."

"Rather would I die."

"You cannot love one whose peace of mind you hold so lightly, and whom
you so cruelly abandoned, last night, to the bitterness of death."

"What can you mean?  Explain yourself, Louise."

"What did you ask me yesterday morning?  To love you.  What did you
promise me in return?  Never to let midnight pass without offering me an
opportunity of reconciliation, if, by any chance, your anger should be
roused against me."

"Oh! forgive me, Louise, forgive me!  I was mad from jealousy."

"Jealousy is a sentiment unworthy of a king - a man.  You may become
jealous again, and will end by killing me.  Be merciful, then, and leave
me now to die."

"Another word, mademoiselle, in that strain, and you will see me expire
at your feet."

"No, no, sire, I am better acquainted with my own demerits; and believe
me, that to sacrifice yourself for one whom all despise, would be
needless."

"Give me the names of those you have cause to complain of."

"I have no complaints, sire, to prefer against any one; no one but myself
to accuse.  Farewell, sire; you are compromising yourself in speaking to
me in such a manner."

"Oh! be careful, Louise, in what you say; for you are reducing me to the
darkness of despair."

"Oh! sire, sire, leave me at least the protection of Heaven, I implore
you."

"No, no; Heaven itself shall not tear you from me."

"Save me, then," cried the poor girl, "from those determined and pitiless
enemies who are thirsting to annihilate my life and honor too.  If you
have courage enough to love me, show at least that you have power enough
to defend me.  But no; she whom you say you love, others insult and mock,
and drive shamelessly away."  And the gentle-hearted girl, forced, by her
own bitter distress to accuse others, wrung her hands in an
uncontrollable agony of tears.

"You have been driven away!" exclaimed the king.  "This is the second
time I have heard that said."

"I have been driven away with shame and ignominy, sire.  You see, then,
that I have no other protector but Heaven, no consolation but prayer, and
this cloister is my only refuge."

"My palace, my whole court, shall be your park of peace.  Oh! fear
nothing further now, Louise; those - be they men or women - who yesterday
drove you away, shall to-morrow tremble before you - to-morrow, do I say?
nay, this very day I have already shown my displeasure - have already
threatened.  It is in my power, even now, to hurl the thunderbolt I have
hitherto withheld.  Louise, Louise, you shall be bitterly revenged; tears
of blood shall repay you for the tears you have shed.  Give me only the
names of your enemies."

"Never, never."

"How can I show any anger, then?"

"Sire, those upon whom your anger would be prepared to fall, would force
you to draw back your hand upraised to punish."

"Oh! you do not know me," cried the king, exasperated.  "Rather than draw
back, I would sacrifice my kingdom, and would abjure my family.  Yes, I
would strike until this arm had utterly destroyed all those who had
ventured to make themselves the enemies of the gentlest and best of
creatures."  And, as he said these words, Louis struck his fist violently
against the oaken wainscoting with a force which alarmed La Valliere; for
his anger, owing to his unbounded power, had something imposing and
threatening in it, like the lightning, which may at any time prove
deadly.  She, who thought that her own sufferings could not be surpassed,
was overwhelmed by a suffering which revealed itself by menace and by
violence.

"Sire," she said, "for the last time I implore you to leave me; already
do I feel strengthened by the calm seclusion of this asylum; and the
protection of Heaven has reassured me; for all the pretty human meanness
of this world are forgotten beneath the Divine protection.  Once more,
then, sire, and for the last time, I again implore you to leave me."

"Confess, rather," cried Louis, "that you have never loved me; admit that
my humility and my repentance are flattering to your pride, but that my
distress affects you not; that the king of this wide realm is no longer
regarded as a lover whose tenderness of devotion is capable of working
out your happiness, but as a despot whose caprice has crushed your very
heart beneath his iron heel.  Do not say you are seeking Heaven, say
rather you are fleeing from the king."

Louise's heart was wrung within her, as she listened to his passionate
utterance, which made the fever of hope course once more through her
every vein.

"But did you not hear me say that I have been driven away, scorned,
despised?"

"I will make you the most respected, and most adored, and the most envied
of my whole court."

"Prove to me that you have not ceased to love me."

"In what way?"

"By leaving me."

"I will prove it to you by never leaving you again."

"But do you imagine, sire, that I shall allow that; do you imagine that I
will let you come to an open rupture with every member of your family; do
you imagine that, for my sake, you could abandon mother, wife and sister?"

"Ah! you have named them, then, at last; it is they, then, who have
wrought this grievous injury?  By the heaven above us, then, upon them
shall my anger fall."

"That is the reason why the future terrifies me, why I refuse everything,
why I do not wish you to revenge me.  Tears enough have already been
shed, sufficient sorrow and affliction have already been occasioned.  I,
at least, will never be the cause of sorrow, or affliction, or distress
to whomsoever it may be, for I have mourned and suffered, and wept too
much myself."

"And do you count _my_ sufferings, _my_ tears, as nothing?"

"In Heaven's name, sire, do not speak to me in that manner.  I need all
my courage to enable me to accomplish the sacrifice."

"Louise, Louise, I implore you! whatever you desire, whatever you
command, whether vengeance or forgiveness, your slightest wish shall be
obeyed, but do not abandon me."

"Alas! sire, we must part."

"You do not love me, then!"

"Heaven knows I do!"

"It is false, Louise; it is false."

"Oh! sire, if I did not love you, I should let you do what you please; I
should let you revenge me, in return for the insult which has been
inflicted on me; I should accept the brilliant triumph to my pride which
you propose; and yet, you cannot deny that I reject even the sweet
compensation which your affection affords, that affection which for me is

< < 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