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List Of Contents | Contents of Louise de la Valliere, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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life itself, for I wished to die when I thought that you loved me no
longer."

"Yes, yes; I now know, I now perceive it; you are the sweetest, best, and
purest of women.  There is no one so worthy as yourself, not alone of my
respect and devotion, but also of the respect and devotion of all who
surround me; and therefore no one shall be loved like yourself; no one
shall ever possess the influence over me that you wield.  You wish me to
be calm, to forgive? - be it so, you shall find me perfectly unmoved.
You wish to reign by gentleness and clemency? - I will be clement and
gentle.  Dictate for me the conduct you wish me to adopt, and I will obey
blindly."

"In Heaven's name, no, sire; what am I, a poor girl, to dictate to so
great a monarch as yourself?"

"You are my life, the very spirit and principle of my being.  Is it not
the spirit that rules the body?"

"You love me, then, sire?"

"On my knees, yes; with my hands upraised to you, yes; with all the
strength and power of my being, yes; I love you so deeply, that I would
lay down my life for you, gladly, at your merest wish."

"Oh! sire, now I know you love me, I have nothing to wish for in the
world.  Give me your hand, sire; and then, farewell!  I have enjoyed in
this life all the happiness I was ever meant for."

"Oh! no, no! your happiness is not a happiness of yesterday, it is of to-
day, of to-morrow, ever enduring.  The future is yours, everything which
is mine is yours, too.  Away with these ideas of separation, away with
these gloomy, despairing thoughts.  You will live for me, as I will live
for you, Louise."  And he threw himself at her feet, embracing her knees
with the wildest transports of joy and gratitude.

"Oh! sire, sire! all that is but a wild dream."

"Why, a wild dream?"

"Because I cannot return to the court.  Exiled, how can I see you again?
Would it not be far better to bury myself in a cloister for the rest of
my life, with the rich consolation that your affection gives me, with the
pulses of your heart beating for me, and your latest confession of
attachment still ringing in my ears?"

"Exiled, you!" exclaimed Louis XIV., "and who dares to exile, let me ask,
when I recall?"

"Oh! sire, something which is greater than and superior to the kings even
- the world and public opinion.  Reflect for a moment; you cannot love a
woman who has been ignominiously driven away - love one whom your mother
has stained with suspicions; one whom your sister has threatened with
disgrace; such a woman, indeed, would be unworthy of you."

"Unworthy! one who belongs to me?"

"Yes, sire, precisely on that account; from the very moment she belongs
to you, the character of your mistress renders her unworthy."

"You are right, Louise; every shade of delicacy of feeling is yours.
Very well, you shall not be exiled."

"Ah! from the tone in which you speak, you have not heard Madame, that is
very clear."

"I will appeal from her to my mother."

"Again, sire, you have not seen your mother."

"She, too! - my poor Louise! every one's hand, then, is against you."

"Yes, yes, poor Louise, who was already bending beneath the fury of the
storm, when you arrived and crushed her beneath the weight of your
displeasure."

"Oh! forgive me."

"You will not, I know, be able to make either of them yield; believe me,
the evil cannot be repaired, for I will not allow you to use violence, or
to exercise your authority."

"Very well, Louise, to prove to you how fondly I love you, I will do one
thing, I will see Madame; I will make her revoke her sentence, I will
compel her to do so."

"Compel?  Oh! no, no!"

"True; you are right.  I will bend her."

Louise shook her head.

"I will entreat her, if it be necessary," said Louis.  "Will you believe
in my affection after that?"

Louise drew herself up.  "Oh, never, never shall you humiliate yourself
on my account; sooner, a thousand times, would I die."

Louis reflected; his features assumed a dark expression.  "I will love
you as much as you have loved; I will suffer as keenly as you have
suffered; this shall be my expiation in your eyes.  Come, mademoiselle,
put aside these paltry considerations; let us show ourselves as great as
our sufferings, as strong as our affection for each other."  And, as he
said this, he took her in his arms, and encircled her waist with both his
hands, saying, "My own love! my own dearest and best beloved, follow me."

She made a final effort, in which she concentrated, no longer all of her
firmness of will, for that had long since been overcome, but all her
physical strength.  "No!" she replied, weakly, "no! no!  I should die
from shame."

"No! you shall return like a queen.  No one knows of your having left 
except, indeed, D'Artagnan."

"He has betrayed me, then?"

"In what way?"

"He promised faithfully - "

"I promised not to say anything to the king," said D'Artagnan, putting
his head through the half-opened door, "and I kept my word; I was
speaking to M. de Saint-Aignan, and it was not my fault if the king
overheard me; was it, sire?"

"It is quite true," said the king; "forgive him."

La Valliere smiled, and held out her small white hand to the musketeer.

"Monsieur d'Artagnan," said the king, "be good enough to see if you can
find a carriage for Mademoiselle de la Valliere."

"Sire," said the captain, "the carriage is waiting at the gate."

"You are a magic mould of forethought," exclaimed the king.

"You have taken a long time to find it out," muttered D'Artagnan,
notwithstanding he was flattered by the praise bestowed upon him.

La Valliere was overcome: after a little further hesitation, she allowed
herself to be led away, half fainting, by her royal lover.  But, as she
was on the point of leaving the room, she tore herself from the king's
grasp, and returned to the stone crucifix, which she kissed, saying, "Oh,
Heaven! it was thou who drewest me hither! thou, who has rejected me; but
thy grace is infinite.  Whenever I shall again return, forget that I have
ever separated myself from thee, for, when I return it will be - never to
leave thee again."

The king could not restrain his emotion, and D'Artagnan, even, was
overcome.  Louis led the young girl away, lifted her into the carriage,
and directed D'Artagnan to seat himself beside her, while he, mounting
his horse, spurred violently towards the Palais Royal, where, immediately
on his arrival, he sent to request an audience of Madame.


Chapter XXX:
Madame.

From the manner in which the king had dismissed the ambassadors, even the
least clear-sighted persons belonging to the court imagined war would
ensue.  The ambassadors themselves, but slightly acquainted with the
king's domestic disturbances, had interpreted as directed against
themselves the celebrated sentence: "If I be not master of myself, I, at
least, will be so of those who insult me."  Happily for the destinies of
France and Holland, Colbert had followed them out of the king's presence
for the purpose of explaining matters to them; but the two queens and
Madame, who were perfectly aware of every particular that had taken place
in their several households, having heard the king's remark, so full of
dark meaning, retired to their own apartments in no little fear and
chagrin.  Madame, especially, felt that the royal anger might fall upon
her, and, as she was brave and exceedingly proud, instead of seeking
support and encouragement from the queen-mother, she had returned to her
own apartments, if not without some uneasiness, at least without any
intention of avoiding an encounter.  Anne of Austria, from time to time
at frequent intervals, sent messages to learn if the king had returned.
The silence which the whole palace preserved upon the matter, and upon
Louise's disappearance, was indicative of a long train of misfortunes to
all those who knew the haughty and irritable humor of the king.  But
Madame, unmoved in spite of all the flying rumors, shut herself up in her
apartments, sent for Montalais, and, with a voice as calm as she could
possibly command, desired her to relate all she knew about the event
itself.  At the moment that the eloquent Montalais was concluding, with
all kinds of oratorical precautions, and was recommending, if not in
actual language, at least in spirit, that she should show forbearance
towards La Valliere, M. Malicorne made his appearance to beg an audience
of Madame, on behalf of the king.  Montalais's worthy friend bore upon
his countenance all the signs of the very liveliest emotion.  It was
impossible to be mistaken; the interview which the king requested would
be one of the most interesting chapters in the history of the hearts of
kings and of men.  Madame was disturbed by her brother-in-law's arrival;
she did not expect it so soon, nor had she, indeed, expected any direct
step on Louis's part.  Besides, all women who wage war successfully by
indirect means, are invariably neither very skillful nor very strong when
it becomes a question of accepting a pitched battle.  Madame, however,
was not one who ever drew back; she had the very opposite defect or
qualification, in whichever light it may be considered; she took an
exaggerated view of what constituted real courage; and therefore the
king's message, of which Malicorne had been the bearer, was regarded by
her as the bugle-note proclaiming the commencement of hostilities.  She,
therefore, boldly accepted the gage of battle.  Five minutes afterwards
the king ascended the staircase.  His color was heightened from having
ridden hard.  His dusty and disordered clothes formed a singular contrast
with the fresh and perfectly arranged toilette of Madame, who,
notwithstanding the rouge on her cheeks, turned pale as Louis entered the
room.  Louis lost no time in approaching the object of his visit; he sat
down, and Montalais disappeared.

"My dear sister," said the king, "you are aware that Mademoiselle de la
Valliere fled from her own room this morning, and that she has retired to
a cloister, overwhelmed by grief and despair."  As he pronounced these

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