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List Of Contents | Contents of Louise de la Valliere, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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everything is known!"

"Everything," replied Porthos, who knew nothing.

"You see me perfectly overwhelmed," pursued Saint-Aignan, "overwhelmed
to a degree that I hardly know what I am about."

"A guilty conscience, monsieur.  Your affair is a bad one, and when the
public learns all about it, it will judge - "

"Oh, monsieur!" exclaimed the count, hurriedly, "such a secret ought not
to be known even by one's confessor."

"That we will think about," said Porthos; "the secret will not go far, in
fact."

"Surely, monsieur," returned Saint-Aignan, "since M. de Bragelonne has
penetrated the secret, he must be aware of the danger he as well as
others run the risk of incurring."

"M. de Bragelonne runs no danger, monsieur, nor does he fear any either,
as you, if it please Heaven, will find out very soon."

"This fellow is a perfect madman," thought Saint-Aignan.  "What, in
Heaven's name, does he want?"  He then said aloud: "Come, monsieur, let
us hush up this affair."

"You forget the portrait," said Porthos, in a voice of thunder, which
made the comte's blood freeze in his veins.

As the portrait in question was La Valliere's portrait, and no mistake
could any longer exist on the subject, Saint-Aignan's eyes were
completely opened.  "Ah!" he exclaimed - "ah! monsieur, I remember now
that M. de Bragelonne was engaged to be married to her."

Porthos assumed an imposing air, all the majesty of ignorance, in fact,
as he said: "It matters nothing whatever to me, nor to yourself, indeed,
whether or not my friend was, as you say, engaged to be married.  I am
even astonished that you should have made use of so indiscreet a remark.
It may possibly do your cause harm, monsieur."

"Monsieur," replied Saint-Aignan, "you are the incarnation of
intelligence, delicacy, and loyalty of feeling united.  I see the whole
matter now clearly enough."

"So much the better," said Porthos.

"And," pursued Saint-Aignan, "you have made me comprehend it in the most
ingenious and the most delicate manner possible.  I beg you to accept my
best thanks."  Porthos drew himself up, unable to resist the flattery of
the remark.  "Only, now that I know everything, permit me to explain - "

Porthos shook his head, as a an who does not wish to hear, but Saint-
Aignan continued: "I am in despair, I assure you, at all that has
happened; but how would you have acted in my place?  Come, between
ourselves, tell me what you would have done?"

Porthos drew himself up as he answered: "There is now no question of all
of what I should have done, young man; you have been made acquainted with
the three causes of complaint against you, I believe?"

"As for the first, my change of rooms, and I now address myself to you as
a man of honor and of great intelligence, could I, when the desire of so
august a personage was so urgently expressed that I should move, ought I
to have disobeyed?"

Porthos was about to speak, but Saint-Aignan did not give him time to
answer.  "Ah! my frankness, I see, convinces you," he said, interpreting
the movement according to his own fancy.  "You feel that I am right."

Porthos did not reply, and so Saint-Aignan continued: "I pass by that
unfortunate trap-door," he said, placing his hand on Porthos's arm, "that
trap-door, the occasion and means of so much unhappiness, and which was
constructed for - you know what.  Well, then, in plain truth, do you
suppose that  it was I who, of my own accord, in such a place, too, had
that trap-door made? - Oh, no! - you do not believe it; and here, again,
you feel, you guess, you understand the influence of a will superior to
my own.  You can conceive the infatuation, the blind, irresistible
passion which has been at work.  But, thank Heaven!  I am fortunate in
speaking to a man who has so much sensitiveness of feeling; and if it
were not so, indeed, what an amount of misery and scandal would fall upon
her, poor girl! and upon him - whom I will not name."

Porthos, confused and bewildered by the eloquence and gestures of Saint-
Aignan, made a thousand efforts to stem this torrent of words, of which,
by the by, he did not understand a single one; he remained upright and
motionless on his seat, and that was all he could do.  Saint-Aignan
continued, and gave a new inflection to his voice, and an increasing
vehemence to his gesture: "As for the portrait, for I readily believe the
portrait is the principal cause of complaint, tell me candidly if you
think me to blame? - Who was it who wished to have her portrait?  Was it
I? - Who is in love with her?  Is it I? - Who wishes to gain her
affection?  Again, is it I? - Who took her likeness?  I, do you think?
No! a thousand times no!  I know M. de Bragelonne must be in a state of
despair; I know these misfortunes are most cruel.  But I, too, am
suffering as well; and yet there is no possibility of offering any
resistance.  Suppose we were to fight? we would be laughed at.  If he
obstinately persist in his course, he is lost.  You will tell me, I know,
that despair is ridiculous, but then you are a sensible man.  You have
understood me.  I perceived by your serious, thoughtful, embarrassed air,
even, that the importance of the situation we are placed in has not
escaped you.  Return, therefore, to M. de Bragelonne; thank him - as I
have indeed reason to thank him - for having chosen as an intermediary a
man of your high merit.  Believe me that I shall, on my side, preserve an
eternal gratitude for the man who has so ingeniously, so cleverly
arranged the misunderstanding between us.  And since ill luck would have
it that the secret should be known to four instead of three, why, this
secret, which might make the most ambitious man's fortune, I am delighted
to share with you, monsieur, from the bottom of my heart I am delighted
at it.  From this very moment you can make use of me as you please, I
place myself entirely at your mercy.  What can I possibly do for you?
What can I solicit, nay, require even?  You have only to speak, monsieur,
only to speak."

And, according to the familiarly friendly fashion of that period, Saint-
Aignan threw his arms round Porthos, and clasped him tenderly in his
embrace.  Porthos allowed him to do this with the most perfect
indifference.  "Speak," resumed Saint-Aignan, "what do you require?"

"Monsieur," said Porthos, "I have a horse below: be good enough to mount
him; he is a very good one and will play you no tricks."

"Mount on horseback! what for?" inquired Saint-Aignan, with no little
curiosity.

"To accompany me to where M. de Bragelonne is waiting us."

"Ah! he wishes to speak to me, I suppose?  I can well believe that; he
wishes to have the details, very likely; alas! it is a very delicate
matter; but at the present moment I cannot, for the king is waiting for
me."

"The king must wait, then" said Porthos.

"What do you say? the king must wait!" interrupted the finished courtier,
with a smile of utter amazement, for he could not understand that the
king could under any circumstances be supposed to have to wait.

"It is merely the affair of a very short hour," returned Porthos.

"But where is M. de Bragelonne waiting for me?"

"At the Minimes, at Vincennes."

"Ah, indeed! but are we going to laugh over the affair when we get there?"

"I don't think it likely," said Porthos, as his face assumed a look of
utter hardness.

"But the Minimes is a rendezvous where duels take place, and what can I
have to do at the Minimes?"

Porthos slowly drew his sword, and said: "That is the length of my
friend's sword."

"Why, the man is mad!" cried Saint-Aignan.

The color mounted to Porthos's face, as he replied: "If I had not the
honor of being in your own apartment, monsieur, and of representing M. de
Bragelonne's interests, I would throw you out of the window.  It will be
merely a pleasure postponed, and you will lose nothing by waiting.  Will
you come with me to the Minimes, monsieur, of your own free will?"

"But - "

"Take care, I will carry you if you do not come quickly."

"Basque!" cried Saint-Aignan.  As soon as Basque appeared, he said, "The
king wishes to see monsieur le comte."

"That is very different," said Porthos; "the king's service before
anything else.  We will wait until this evening, monsieur."

And saluting Saint-Aignan with his usual courtesy, Porthos left the room,
delighted at having arranged another affair.  Saint-Aignan looked after
him as he left; and then hastily putting on his court dress again, he ran
off, arranging his costume as he went along, muttering to himself, "The
Minimes! the Minimes!  We shall see how the king will fancy this
challenge; for it is for him after all, that is certain."


Chapter LVI:
Rivals in Politics.

On his return from the promenade, which had been so prolific in poetical
effusions, and in which every one had paid his or her tribute to the
Muses, as the poets of the period used to say, the king found M. Fouquet
waiting for an audience.  M. Colbert had lain in wait for his majesty in
the corridor, and followed him like a jealous and watchful shadow; M.
Colbert, with his square head, his vulgar and untidy, though rich
costume, somewhat resembled a Flemish gentleman after he had been over-
indulging in his national drink - beer.  Fouquet, at sight of his enemy,
remained perfectly unmoved, and during the whole of the scene which
followed scrupulously resolved to observe a line of conduct particularly
difficult to the man of superior mind, who does not even wish to show his
contempt, for fear of doing his adversary too much honor.  Colbert made
no attempt to conceal his insolent expression of the vulgar joy he felt.
In his opinion, M. Fouquet's was a game very badly played and hopelessly
lost, although not yet finished.  Colbert belonged to that school of
politicians who think cleverness alone worthy of their admiration, and
success the only thing worth caring for.  Colbert, moreover, who was not
simply an envious and jealous man, but who had the king's interest really
at heart, because he was thoroughly imbued with the highest sense of

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