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List Of Contents | Contents of Louise de la Valliere, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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Malicorne had, in fact, wished to enter her apartment at night through
the window, and by means of the ladder, in order to see Montalais, it was
a punishable offense on Malicorne's part, and he must be punished
accordingly; and, in the second place, if Malicorne, instead of acting in
his own name, had acted as an intermediary between La Valliere and a
person whose name it was superfluous to mention, his crime was in that
case even greater, since love, which is an excuse for everything, did not
exist in the case as an excuse.  Madame therefore made the greatest
possible disturbance about the matter, and obtained his dismissal from
Monsieur's household, without reflecting, poor blind creature, that both
Malicorne and Montalais held her fast in their clutches in consequence of
her visit to De Guiche, and in a variety of other ways equally delicate.
Montalais, who was perfectly furious, wished to revenge herself
immediately, but Malicorne pointed out to her that the king's countenance
would repay them for all the disgraces in the world, and that it was a
great thing to have to suffer on his majesty's account.

Malicorne was perfectly right, and, therefore, although Montalais had the
spirit of ten women in her, he succeeded in bringing her round to his own
opinion.  And we must not omit to state that the king helped them to
console themselves, for, in the first place, he presented Malicorne with
fifty thousand francs as a compensation for the post he had lost, and, in
the next place, he gave him an appointment in his own household,
delighted to have an opportunity of revenging himself in such a manner
upon Madame for all she had made him and La Valliere suffer.  But as
Malicorne could no longer carry significant handkerchiefs for him or
plant convenient ladders, the royal lover was in a terrible state.  There
seemed to be no hope, therefore, of ever getting near La Valliere again,
so long as she should remain at the Palais Royal.  All the dignities and
all the money in the world could not remedy that.  Fortunately, however,
Malicorne was on the lookout, and this so successfully that he met
Montalais, who, to do her justice, it must be admitted, was doing her
best to meet Malicorne.  "What do you do during the night in Madame's
apartment?" he asked the young girl.

"Why, I go to sleep, of course," she replied.

"But it is very wrong to sleep; it can hardly be possible that, with the
pain you are suffering, you can manage to do so."

"And what am I suffering from, may I ask?"

"Are you not in despair at my absence?"

"Of course not, since you have received fifty thousand francs and an
appointment in the king's household."

"That is a matter of no moment; you are exceedingly afflicted at not
seeing me as you used to see me formerly, and more than all, you are in
despair at my having lost Madame's confidence; come now, is not that
true?"

"Perfectly true."

"Very good; your distress of mind prevents you sleeping at night, and so
you sob, and sigh, and blow your nose ten times every minute as loud as
possible."

"But, my dear Malicorne, Madame cannot endure the slightest noise near
her."

"I know that perfectly well; of course she can't endure anything; and so,
I tell you, when she hears your deep distress, she will turn you out of
her rooms without a moment's delay."

"I understand."

"Very fortunate you _do_."

"Well, and what will happen next?"

"The next thing that will happen will be, that La Valliere, finding
herself alone without you, will groan and utter such loud lamentations,
that she will exhibit despair enough for two."

"In that case she will be put into _another_ room, don't you see?"

"Precisely so."

"Yes, but which?"

"Which?"

"Yes, that will puzzle you to say, Mr. Inventor-General."

"Not at all; whenever and whatever the room may be, it will always be
preferable to Madame's own room."

"That is true."

"Very good, so begin your lamentations to-night."

"I certainly will not fail to do so."

"And give La Valliere a hint also."

"Oh! don't fear her, she cries quite enough already to herself."

"Very well! all she has to do is cry out loudly."

And they separated.


Chapter XXXIII:
Which Treats of Carpentry Operations, and Furnishes Details upon the Mode
of Constructing Staircases.

The advice which had been given to Montalais was communicated by her to
La Valliere, who could not but acknowledge that it was by no means
deficient in judgment, and who, after a certain amount of resistance,
rising rather from timidity than indifference to the project, resolved to
put it into execution.  This story of the two girls weeping, and filling
Madame's bedroom with the noisiest lamentations, was Malicorne's _chef-
d'oeuvre_.  As nothing is so probable as improbability, so natural as
romance, this kind of Arabian Nights story succeeded perfectly with
Madame.  The first thing she did was to send Montalais away, and then,
three days, or rather three nights afterwards, she had La Valliere
removed.  She gave the latter one of the small rooms on the top story,
situated immediately over the apartments allotted to the gentlemen of
Monsieur's suite.  One story only, that is to say, a mere flooring
separated the maids of honor from the officers and gentlemen of her
husband's household.  A private staircase, which was placed under Madame
de Navailles's surveillance, was the only means of communication.  For
greater safety, Madame de Navailles, who had heard of his majesty's
previous attempts, had the windows of the rooms and the openings of the
chimneys carefully barred.  There was, therefore, every possible security
provided for Mademoiselle de la Valliere, whose room now bore more
resemblance to a cage than to anything else.  When Mademoiselle de la
Valliere was in her own room, and she was there very frequently, for
Madame scarcely ever had any occasion for her services, since she once
knew she was safe under Madame de Navailles's inspection, Mademoiselle de
la Valliere had no better means of amusing herself than looking through
the bars of her windows.  It happened, therefore, that one morning, as
she was looking out as usual, she perceived Malicorne at one of the
windows exactly opposite to her own.  He held a carpenter's rule in his
hand, was surveying the buildings, and seemed to be adding up some
figures on paper.  La Valliere recognized Malicorne and nodded to him;
Malicorne, in his turn, replied by a formal bow, and disappeared from the
window.  She was surprised at this marked coolness, so different from his
usual unfailing good-humor, but she remembered that he had lost his
appointment on her account, and that he could hardly be very amiably
disposed towards her, since, in all probability, she would never be in a
position to make him any recompense for what he had lost.  She knew how
to forgive offenses, and with still more readiness could she sympathize
with misfortune.  La Valliere would have asked Montalais her opinion, if
she had been within hearing, but she was absent, it being the hour she
commonly devoted to her own correspondence.  Suddenly La Valliere
observed something thrown from the window where Malicorne had been
standing, pass across the open space which separated the iron bars, and
roll upon the floor.  She advanced with no little curiosity towards this
object, and picked it up; it was a wooden reel for silk, only, in this
instance, instead of silk, a piece of paper was rolled round it.  La
Valliere unrolled it and read as follows:

"MADEMOISELLE, - I am exceedingly anxious to learn two things: the first
is, to know if the flooring of your apartment is wood or brick; the
second, to ascertain at what distance your bed is placed from the
window.  Forgive my importunity, and will you be good enough to send me
an answer by the same way you receive this letter - that is to say, by
means of the silk winder; only, instead of throwing into my room, as I
have thrown it into yours, which will be too difficult for you to
attempt, have the goodness merely to let it fall.  Believe me,
mademoiselle, your most humble, most respectful servant,
"MALICORNE.
"Write the reply, if you please, upon the letter itself."

"Ah! poor fellow," exclaimed La Valliere, "he must have gone out of his
mind;" and she directed towards her correspondent - of whom she caught
but a faint glimpse, in consequence of the darkness of the room - a look
full of compassionate consideration.  Malicorne understood her, and shook
his head, as if he meant to say, "No, no, I am not out of my mind; be
quite satisfied."

She smiled, as if still in doubt.

"No, no," he signified by a gesture, "my head is right," and pointed to
his head, then, after moving his hand like a man who writes very rapidly,
he put his hands together as if entreating her to write.

La Valliere, even if he were mad, saw no impropriety in doing what
Malicorne requested her; she took a pencil and wrote "Wood," and then
walked slowly from her window to her bed, and wrote, "Six paces," and
having done this, she looked out again at Malicorne, who bowed to her,
signifying that he was about to descend.  La Valliere understood that it
was to pick up the silk winder.  She approached the window, and, in
accordance with Malicorne's instructions, let it fall.  The winder was
still rolling along the flag-stones as Malicorne started after it,
overtook and picked it up, and beginning to peel it as a monkey would do
with a nut, he ran straight towards M. de Saint-Aignan's apartment.
Saint-Aignan had chosen, or rather solicited, that his rooms might be as
near the king as possible, as certain plants seek the sun's rays in order
to develop themselves more luxuriantly.  His apartment consisted of two
rooms, in that portion of the palace occupied by Louis XIV. himself.  M.
de Saint-Aignan was very proud of this proximity, which afforded easy
access to his majesty, and, more than that, the favor of occasional
unexpected meetings.  At the moment we are now referring to, he was
engaged in having both his rooms magnificently carpeted, with expectation

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