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List Of Contents | Contents of Louise de la Valliere, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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you are convinced of having given the offense, we are sure of reparation;
between my friend and yourself, the future can only offer an exchange of
mutual courtesies of conduct, and consequently, my mission now is to
acquaint you with the length of my friend's sword.'"

"What!" said Raoul.

"Wait a minute.  'The length of my friend's sword.  My horse is waiting
below; my friend is in such and such a spot and is impatiently awaiting
your agreeable society; I will take you with me; we can call upon your
second as we go along:' and the affair is arranged."

"And so," said Raoul, pale with vexation, "you reconcile the two
adversaries on the ground."

"I beg your pardon," interrupted Porthos.  "Reconcile!  What for?"

"You said that the affair was arranged."

"Of course! since my friend is waiting for him."

"Well! what then?  If he is waiting - "

"Well! if he is waiting, it is merely to stretch his legs a little.  The
adversary, on the contrary, is stiff from riding; they place themselves
in proper order, and my friend kills the opponent, and the affair is
ended."

"Ah! he kills him, then?" cried Raoul.

"I should think so," said Porthos.  "Is it likely I should ever have as a
friend a man who allows himself to get killed?  I have a hundred and one
friends; at the head of the list stand your father, Aramis, and
D'Artagnan, all of whom are living and well, I believe?"

"Oh, my dear baron," exclaimed Raoul, as he embraced Porthos.

"You approve of my method, then?" said the giant.

"I approve of it so thoroughly, that I shall have recourse to it this
very day, without a moment's delay, - at once, in fact.  You are the very
man I have been looking for."

"Good; here I am, then; you want to fight, I suppose?"

"Absolutely."

"It is very natural.  With whom?"

"With M. de Saint-Aignan."

"I know him - a most agreeable man, who was exceedingly polite to me the
day I had the honor of dining with the king.  I shall certainly
acknowledge his politeness in return, even if it had not happened to be
my usual custom.  So, he has given you an offense?"

"A mortal offense."

"The deuce!  I can say so, I suppose?"

"More than that, even, if you like."

"That is a very great convenience."

"I may look upon it as one of your arranged affairs, may I not?" said
Raoul, smiling.

"As a matter of course.  Where will you be waiting for him?"

"Ah!  I forgot; it is a very delicate matter.  M. de Saint-Aignan is a
very great friend of the king's."

"So I have heard it said."

"So that if I kill him - "

"Oh! you will kill him, certainly; you must take every precaution to do
so.  But there is no difficulty in these matters now; if you had lived in
our early days, - ah, those were days worth living for!"

"My dear friend, you do not quite understand me.  I mean, that M. de
Saint-Aignan being a friend of the king, the affair will be more
difficult to manage, since the king might learn beforehand - "

"Oh! no; that is not likely.  You know my method: 'Monsieur, you have
just injured my friend, and - '"

"Yes, I know it."

"And then: 'Monsieur, I have horses below.'  I carry him off before he
can have spoken to any one."

"Will he allow himself to be carried off like that?"

"I should think so!  I should like to see it fail.  It would be the first
time, if it did.  It is true, though, that the young men of the present
day - Bah!  I would carry him off bodily, if that were all," and Porthos,
adding gesture to speech, lifted Raoul and the chair he was sitting on
off the ground, and carried them round the room.

"Very good," said Raoul, laughing.  "All we have to do is to state the
grounds of the quarrel with M. de Saint-Aignan."

"Well, but that is done, it seems."

"No, my dear M. du Vallon, the usage of the present day requires that the
cause of the quarrel should be explained."

"Very good.  Tell me what it is, then."

"The fact is - "

"Deuce take it! how troublesome all this is!  In former days we had no
occasion to say anything about the matter.  People fought for the sake of
fighting; and I, for one, know no better reason than that."

"You are quite right, M. du Vallon."

"However, tell me what  the cause is."

"It is too long a story to tell; only, as one must particularize to a
certain extent, and as, on the other hand, the affair is full of
difficulties, and requires the most absolute secrecy, you will have the
kindness merely to tell M. de Saint-Aignan that he has, in the first
place, insulted me by changing his lodgings."

"By changing his lodgings?  Good," said Porthos, who began to count on
his fingers; "next?"

"Then in getting a trap-door made in his new apartments."

"I understand," said Porthos; "a trap-door: upon my word, that is very
serious; you ought to be furious at that.  What the deuce does the fellow
mean by getting trap-doors made without first consulting you?  Trap-
doors! _mordioux!_  I haven't got any, except in my dungeons at Bracieux."

"And you will please add," said Raoul, "that my last motive for
considering myself insulted is, the existence of the portrait that M. de
Saint-Aignan well knows."

"Is it possible?  A portrait, too!  A change of residence, a trap-door,
and a portrait!  Why, my dear friend, with but one of these causes of
complaint there is enough, and more than enough, for all the gentlemen in
France and Spain to cut each other's throats, and that is saying but very
little."

"Well, my dear friend, you are furnished with all you need, I suppose?"

"I shall take a second horse with me.  Select your own rendezvous, and
while you are waiting there, you can practice some of the best passes, so
as to get your limbs as elastic as possible."

"Thank you.  I shall be waiting for you in the wood of Vincennes, close
to Minimes."

"All goes well, then.  Where am I to find this M. de Saint-Aignan?"

"At the Palais Royal."

Porthos ran a huge hand-bell.  "My court suit," he said to the servant
who answered the summons, "my horse, and a led horse to accompany me."
Then turning to Raoul, as soon as the servant had quitted the room, he
said: "Does your father know anything about this?"

"No; I am going to write to him."

"And D'Artagnan?"

"No, nor D'Artagnan either.  He is very cautions, you know, and might
have diverted me from my purpose."

"D'Artagnan is a sound adviser, though," said Porthos, astonished that,
in his own loyal faith in D'Artagnan, any one could have thought of
himself, so long as there was a D'Artagnan in the world.

"Dear M. du Vallon," said Raoul, "do not question me any more, I implore
you.  I have told you all that I had to say; it is prompt action I now
expect, sharp and decided as you know how to arrange it.  That, indeed,
is my reason for having chosen you."

"You will be satisfied with me," replied Porthos.

"Do not forget, either, that, except ourselves, no one must know anything
of this meeting."

"People generally find these things out," said Porthos, dryly, "when a
dead body is discovered in a wood.  But I promise everything, my dear
friend, except the concealment of the dead body.  There it is, and it
must be seen, as a matter of course.  It is a principle of mine, not to
bury bodies.  That has a smack of the assassin about it.  Every risk has
its peculiarities."

"To work, then, my dear friend."

"Rely upon me," said the giant, finishing the bottle, while a servant
spread out upon a sofa the gorgeously decorated dress trimmed with lace.

Raoul left the room, saying to himself, with a secret delight,
"Perfidious king! traitorous monarch!  I cannot reach thee.  I do not
wish it; for kings are sacred objects.  But your friend, your accomplice,
your panderer - the coward who represents you - shall pay for your
crime.  I will kill him in thy name, and, afterwards, we will bethink
ourselves of - _Louise_."


Chapter LV:
The Change of Residence, the Trap-Door, and the Portrait.

Porthos, intrusted, to his great delight, with this mission, which made
him feel young again, took half an hour less than his usual time to put
on his court suit.  To show that he was a man acquainted with the usages
of high society, he had begun by sending his lackey to inquire if
Monsieur de Saint-Aignan were at home, and heard, in answer, that M. le
Comte de Saint-Aignan had had the honor of accompanying the king to Saint-
Germain, as well as the whole court; but that monsieur le comte had just
that moment returned.  Immediately upon this reply, Porthos made as much
haste as possible, and reached Saint-Aignan's apartments just as the
latter was having his boots taken off.  The promenade had been
delightful.  The king, who was in love more than ever, and of course
happier than ever, behaved in the most charming manner to every one.
Nothing could possibly equal his kindness.  M. de Saint-Aignan, it may be
remembered, was a poet, and fancied that he had proved that he was so
under too many a memorable circumstance to allow the title to be disputed
by any one.  An indefatigable rhymester, he had, during the whole of the
journey, overwhelmed with quatrains, sextains, and madrigals, first the
king, and then La Valliere.  The king, on his side, was in a similarly
poetical mood, and had made a distich; while La Valliere, delighting in
poetry, as most women do who are in love, had composed two sonnets.  The
day, then, had not been a bad one for Apollo; and so, as soon as he had
returned to Paris, Saint-Aignan, who knew beforehand that his verse would
be sure to be extensively circulated in court circles, occupied himself,
with a little more attention than he had been able to bestow during the
promenade, with the composition, as well as with the idea itself.
Consequently, with all the tenderness of a father about to start his
children in life, he candidly interrogated himself whether the public
would find these offsprings of his imagination sufficiently elegant and
graceful; and in order to make his mind easy on the subject, M. de Saint-
Aignan recited to himself the madrigal he had composed, and which he had
repeated from memory to the king, and had promised to write out for him

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