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

"Look yonder, at the turning of that path; he is just out of sight, with
Miss Stewart.  Are these polite attentions usual in France, monsieur le
vicomte?"

"I cannot very precisely say what people do in France, mademoiselle, for
I can hardly be called a Frenchman.  I have resided in many countries,
and almost always as a solider; and then, I have spent a long period of
my life in the country.  I am almost a savage."

"You do not like your residence in England, I fear."

"I scarcely know," said Raoul, inattentively, and sighing deeply at the
same time.

"What! you do not know?"

"Forgive me," said Raoul, shaking his head, and collecting his thoughts,
"I did not hear you."

"Oh!" said the young girl, sighing in her turn, "how wrong the duke was
to send me here!"

"Wrong!" said Raoul, "perhaps so; for I am but a rude, uncouth companion,
and my society annoys you.  The duke did, indeed, very wrong to send you."

"It is precisely," replied Mary Grafton, in a clear, calm voice, "because
your society does not annoy me, that the duke was wrong to send me to
you."

It was now Raoul's turn to blush.  "But," he resumed, "how happens it
that the Duke of Buckingham should send you to me; and why did you come?
the duke loves you, and you love him."

"No," replied Mary, seriously, "the duke does not love me, because he is
in love with the Duchesse d'Orleans; and, as for myself, I have no
affection for the duke."

Raoul looked at the young lady with astonishment.

"Are you a friend of the Duke of Buckingham?" she inquired.

"The duke has honored me by calling me so ever since we met in France."

"You are simple acquaintances, then?"

"No; for the duke is the most intimate friend of one whom I regard as a
brother."

"The Duc de Guiche?"

"Yes."

"He who is in love with Madame la Duchesse d'Orleans?"

"Oh!  What is that you are saying?"

"And who loves him in return," continued the young girl, quietly.

Raoul bent down his head, and Mary Grafton, sighing deeply, continued,
"They are very happy.  But, leave me, Monsieur de Bragelonne, for the
Duke of Buckingham has given you a very troublesome commission in
offering me as a companion for your promenade.  Your heart is elsewhere,
and it is with the greatest difficulty you can be charitable enough to
lend me your attention.  Confess truly; it would be unfair on your part,
vicomte, not to admit it."

"Madame, I do confess it."

She looked at him steadily.  He was so noble and so handsome in his
bearing, his eyes revealed so much gentleness, candor, and resolution,
that the idea could not possibly enter her mind that he was either rudely
discourteous, or a mere simpleton.  She only perceived, clearly enough,
that he loved another woman, and not herself, with the whole strength of
his heart.  "Ah!  I now understand you," she said; "you have left your
heart behind you in France."  Raoul bowed.  "The duke is aware of your
affection?"

"No one knows it," replied Raoul.

"Why, therefore, do you tell me?  Nay, answer me."

"I cannot."

"It is for me, then, to anticipate an explanation; you do not wish to
tell me anything, because you are now convinced that I do not love the
duke; because you see that I possibly might have loved you; because you
are a gentleman of noble and delicate sentiments; and because, instead of
accepting, even were it for the mere amusement of the passing hour, a
hand which is almost pressed upon you; and because, instead of meeting my
smiles with a smiling lip, you, who are young, have preferred to tell me,
whom men have called beautiful, 'My heart is over the sea - it is in
France.'  For this, I thank you, Monsieur de Bragelonne; you are, indeed,
a noble-hearted, noble-minded man, and I regard you all the more for it,
as a friend only.  And now let us cease speaking of myself, and talk of
your own affairs.  Forget that I have ever spoken to you of myself, tell
me why you are sad, and why you have become more than usually so during
these past four days?"

Raoul was deeply and sensibly moved by these sweet and melancholy tones;
and as he could not, at the moment, find a word to say, the young girl
again came to his assistance.

"Pity me," she said.  "My mother was born in France, and I can truly
affirm that I, too, am French in blood, as well as in feeling; but the
leaden atmosphere and characteristic gloom of England seem to weigh upon
me.  Sometimes my dreams are golden-hued and full of wonderful
enjoyments, when suddenly a mist rises and overspreads my fancy, blotting
them out forever.  Such, indeed, is the case at the present moment.
Forgive me; I have now said enough on that subject; give me your hand,
and relate you griefs to me as a friend."

"You say you are French in heart and soul?"

"Yes, not only, I repeat it, that my mother was French, but, further, as
my father, a friend of King Charles I., was exiled in France, I, during
the trial of that prince, as well as during the Protector's life, was
brought up in Paris; at the Restoration of King Charles II., my poor
father returned to England, where he died almost immediately afterwards;
and then the king created me a duchess, and has dowered me according to
my rank.

"Have you any relations in France?" Raoul inquired, with the deepest
interest.

"I have a sister there, my senior by seven or eight years, who was
married in France, and was early left a widow; her name is Madame de
Belliere.  Do you know her?" she added, observing Raoul start suddenly.

"I have heard her name."

"She, too, loves with her whole heart; and her last letters inform me she
is happy, and her affection is, I conclude, returned.  I told you,
Monsieur de Bragelonne, that although I possess half of her nature, I do
not share her happiness.  But let us now speak of yourself; whom do you
love in France?"

"A young girl, as soft and pure as a lily."

"But if she loves you, why are you sad?"

"I have been told that she ceases to love me."

"You do not believe it, I trust?"

"He who wrote me so does not sign his letter."

"An anonymous denunciation! some treachery, be assured," said Miss
Grafton.

"Stay," said Raoul, showing the young girl a letter which he had read
over a thousand times; she took it from his hand and read as follows:

"VICOMTE, - You are perfectly right to amuse yourself yonder with the
lovely faces of Charles II.'s court, for at Louis XIV.'s court, the
castle in which your affections are enshrined is being besieged.  Stay in
London altogether, poor vicomte, or return without delay to Paris."

"There is no signature," said Miss Mary.

"None."

"Believe it not, then."

"Very good; but here is a second letter, from my friend De Guiche, which
says, 'I am lying here wounded and ill.  Return, Raoul, oh, return!'"

"What do you intend doing?" inquired the young girl, with a feeling of
oppression at her heart.

"My intention, as soon as I received this letter, was immediately to take
my leave of the king."

"When did you receive it?"

"The day before yesterday."

"It is dated Fontainebleau."

"A singular circumstance, do you not think, for the court is now at
Paris?  At all events, I would have set off; but when I mentioned my
intention to the king, he began to laugh, and said to me, 'How comes it,
monsieur l'amassadeur, that you think of leaving?  Has your sovereign
recalled you?'  I colored, naturally enough, for I was confused by the
question; for the fact is, the king himself sent me here, and I have
received no order to return."

Mary frowned in deep thought, and said, "Do you remain, then?"

"I must, mademoiselle."

"Do you ever receive any letters from her to whom you are so devoted?"

"Never."

"Never, do you say?  Does she not love you, then?"

"At least, she has not written to me since my departure, although she
used occasionally to write to me before.  I trust she may have been
prevented."

"Hush! the duke is coming."

And Buckingham at that moment was seen at the end of the walk,
approaching towards them, alone and smiling; he advanced slowly, and held
out his hands to them both.  "Have you arrived at an understanding?" he
said.

"About what?"

"About whatever might render you happy, dear Mary, and make Raoul less
miserable."

"I do not understand you, my lord," said Raoul.

"That is my view of the subject, Miss Mary; do you wish me to mention it
before M. de Bragelonne?" he added, with a smile.

"If you mean," replied the young girl, haughtily, "that I was not
indisposed to love M. de Bragelonne, that is useless, for I have told him
so myself."

Buckingham reflected for a moment, and, without seeming in any way
discountenanced, as she expected, he said:  "My reason for leaving you
with M. de Bragelonne was, that I thoroughly knew your refined delicacy
of feeling, no less than the perfect loyalty of your mind and heart, and
I hoped that M. de Bragelonne's cure might be effected by the hands of a
physician such as you are."

"But, my lord, before you spoke of M. de Bragelonne's heart, you spoke to
me of your own.  Do you mean to effect the cure of two hearts at the same
time?"

"Perfectly true, madame; but you will do me the justice to admit that I
have long discontinued a useless pursuit, acknowledging that my own wound
is incurable."

"My lord," said Mary, collecting herself for a moment before she spoke,
"M. de Bragelonne is happy, for he loves and is beloved.  He has no need
of such a physician as I can be."

"M. de Bragelonne," said Buckingham, "is on the very eve of experiencing
a serious misfortune, and he has greater need than ever of sympathy and
affection."

"Explain yourself, my lord," inquired Raoul, anxiously.

"No; gradually I will explain myself; but, if you desire it, I can tell
Miss Grafton what you may not listen to yourself."

"My lord, you are putting me to the torture; you know something you wish
to conceal from me?"

"I know that Miss Mary Grafton is the most charming object that a heart
ill at ease could possibly meet with in its way through life."

"I have already told you that the Vicomte de Bragelonne loves elsewhere,"

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