Make your own free website on Tripod.com

List Of Contents | Contents of Louise de la Valliere, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

his lips.

Ten minutes after D'Artagnan's departure, the three gentlemen sat down to
table, which was covered with the most substantial display of gastronomic
luxury.  Large joints, exquisite dishes, preserves, the greatest variety
of wines, appeared successively upon the table, which was served at the
king's expense, and of which expense M. Colbert would have found no
difficulty in saving two thirds, without any one in the Bastile being the
worse for it.  Baisemeaux was the only one who ate and drank with
gastronomic resolution.  Aramis allowed nothing to pass by him, but
merely touched everything he took; Athos, after the soup and three _hors
d'oeuvres_, ate nothing more.  The style of conversation was such as
might have been anticipated between three men so opposite in temper and
ideas.  Aramis was incessantly asking himself by what extraordinary
chance Athos was there at Baisemeaux's when D'Artagnan was no longer
there, and why D'Artagnan did not remain when Athos was there.  Athos
sounded all the depths of the mind of Aramis, who lived in the midst of
subterfuge, evasion, and intrigue; he studied his man well and
thoroughly, and felt convinced that he was engaged upon some important
project.  And then he too began to think of his own personal affair, and
to lose himself in conjectures as to D'Artagnan's reason for having left
the Bastile so abruptly, and for leaving behind him a prisoner so badly
introduced and so badly looked after by the prison authorities.  But we
shall not pause to examine into the thoughts and feelings of these
personages, but will leave them to themselves, surrounded by the remains
of poultry, game, and fish, which Baisemeaux's generous knife and fork
had so mutilated.  We are going to follow D'Artagnan instead, who,
getting into the carriage which had brought him, said to the coachman,
"Return to the palace, as fast as the horses can gallop."


Chapter LXIV:
What Took Place at the Louvre During the Supper at the Bastile.

M. de Saint-Aignan had executed the commission with which the king had
intrusted him for La Valliere - as we have already seen in one of the
preceding chapters; but, whatever his eloquence, he did not succeed in
persuading the young girl that she had in the king a protector powerful
enough for her under any combination of circumstances, and that she had
no need of any one else in the world when the king was on her side.  In
point of fact, at the very first word which the favorite mentioned of the
discovery of the famous secret, Louise, in a passion of tears, abandoned
herself in utter despair to a sorrow which would have been far from
flattering for the king, if he had been a witness of it from one of the
corners of the room.  Saint-Aignan, in his character of ambassador, felt
almost as greatly offended at it as his master himself would have been,
and returned to inform the king what he had seen and heard; and it is
thus we find him, in a state of great agitation, in the presence of the
king, who was, if possible, in a state of even greater flurry than himself.

"But," said the king to the courtier, when the latter had finished his
report, "what did she decide to do?  Shall I at least see her presently
before supper?  Will she come to me, or shall I be obliged to go to her
room?"

"I believe, sire, that if your majesty wishes to see her, you will not
only have to take the first step in advance, but will have to go the
whole way."

"That I do not mind.  Do you think she has yet a secret fancy for young
Bragelonne?" muttered the king between his teeth.

"Oh! sire, that is not possible; for it is you alone, I am convinced,
Mademoiselle de la Valliere loves, and that, too, with all her heart.
But you know that De Bragelonne belongs to that proud race who play the
part of Roman heroes."

The king smiled feebly; he knew how true the illustration was, for Athos
had just left him.

"As for Mademoiselle de la Valliere," Saint-Aignan continued, "she was
brought up under the care of the Dowager Madame, that is to say, in the
greatest austerity and formality.  This young engaged couple coldly
exchanged their little vows in the prim presence of the moon and stars;
and now, when they find they have to break those vows asunder, it plays
the very deuce with them."

Saint-Aignan thought to have made the king laugh; but on the contrary,
from a mere smile Louis passed to the greatest seriousness of manner.  He
already began to experience that remorse which the comte had promised
D'Artagnan he would inflict upon him.  He reflected that, in fact, these
young persons had loved and sworn fidelity to each other; that one of the
two had kept his word, and that the other was too conscientious not to
feel her perjury most bitterly.  And his remorse was not unaccompanied;
for bitter pangs of jealousy began to beset the king's heart.  He did not
say another word, and instead of going to pay a visit to his mother, or
the queen, or Madame, in order to amuse himself a little, and make the
ladies laugh, as he himself used to say, he threw himself into the huge
armchair in which his august father Louis XIII. had passed so many weary
days and years in company with Barradat and Cinq-Mars.  Saint-Aignan
perceived the king was not to be amused at that moment; he tried a last
resource, and pronounced Louise's name, which made the king look up
immediately.  "What does your majesty intend to do this evening - shall
Mademoiselle de la Valliere be informed of your intention to see her?"

"It seems she is already aware of that," replied the king.  "No, no,
Saint-Aignan," he continued, after a moment's pause, "we will both of us
pass our time in thinking, and musing, and dreaming; when Mademoiselle de
la Valliere shall have sufficiently regretted what she now regrets, she
will deign, perhaps, to give us some news of herself."

"Ah! sire, is it possible you can so misunderstand her heart, which is so
full of devotion?"

The king rose, flushed from vexation and annoyance; he was a prey to
jealousy as well as to remorse.  Saint-Aignan was just beginning to feel
that his position was becoming awkward, when the curtain before the door
was raised.  The king turned hastily round; his first idea was that a
letter from Louise had arrived; but, instead of a letter of love, he only
saw his captain of musketeers, standing upright, and perfectly silent in
the doorway.  "M. d'Artagnan," he said, "ah!  Well, monsieur?"

D'Artagnan looked at Saint-Aignan; the king's eyes took the same
direction as those of his captain; these looks would have been clear to
any one, and for a still greater reason they were so for Saint-Aignan.
The courtier bowed and quitted the room, leaving the king and D'Artagnan
alone.

"Is it done?" inquired the king.

"Yes, sire," replied the captain of the musketeers, in a grave voice, "it
is done."

The king was unable to say another word.  Pride, however, obliged him not
to pause at what he had done; whenever a sovereign has adopted a decisive
course, even though it be unjust, he is compelled to prove to all
witnesses, and particularly to prove it to himself, that he was quite
right all through.  A good means for effecting that - an almost
infallible means, indeed - is, to try and prove his victim to be in the
wrong.  Louis, brought up by Mazarin and Anne of Austria, knew better
than any one else his vocation as a monarch; he therefore endeavored to
prove it on the present occasion.  After a few moment's pause, which he
had employed in making silently to himself the same reflections which we
have just expressed aloud, he said, in an indifferent tone: "What did the
comte say?"

"Nothing at all, sire."

"Surely he did not allow himself to be arrested without saying something?"

"He said he expected to be arrested, sire."

The king raised his head haughtily.  "I presume," he said, "that M. le
Comte de la Fere has not continued to play his obstinate and rebellious
part."

"In the first place, sire, what do you wish to signify by _rebellious?_"
quietly asked the musketeer.  "A rebel, in the eyes of the king, is a man
who not only allows himself to be shut up in the Bastile, but still more,
who opposes those who do not wish to take him there."

"Who do not wish to take him there!" exclaimed the king.  "What do you
say, captain!  Are you mad?"

"I believe not, sire."

"You speak of persons who did not wish to arrest M. de la Fere!  Who are
those persons, may I ask?"

"I should say those whom your majesty intrusted with that duty."

"But it was you whom I intrusted with it," exclaimed the king.

"Yes, sire; it was I."

"And yet you say that, despite my orders, you had the intention of not
arresting the man who had insulted me!"

"Yes, sire - that was really my intention.  I even proposed to the comte
to mount a horse that I had prepared for him at the Barriere de la
Conference."

"And what was your object in getting this horse ready?"

"Why, sire, in order that M. le Comte de la Fere might be able to reach
Le Havre, and from that place make his escape to England."

"You betrayed me, then, monsieur?" cried the king, kindling with a wild
pride.

"Exactly so."

There was nothing to say in answer to statements made in such a tone; the
king was astounded at such an obstinate and open resistance on the part
of D'Artagnan.  "At least you had a reason, Monsieur d'Artagnan, for
acting as you did?" said the king, proudly.

"I have always a reason for everything, sire."

"Your reason cannot be your friendship for the comte, at all events, -
the only one that can be of any avail, the only one that could possibly
excuse you, - for I placed you perfectly at your ease in that respect."

"Me, sire?"

"Did I not give you the choice to arrest, or not to arrest M. le Comte de
la Fere?"

"Yes, sire, but - "

"But what?" exclaimed the king, impatiently.

"But you warned me, sire, that if I did not arrest him, your captain of
the guard should do so."

"Was I not considerate enough towards you, from the very moment I did not
compel you to obey me?"

"To me, sire, you were, but not to my friend, for my friend would be

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >



Other sites:

db3nf.com screen-capture.net floresca.net simonova.net flora-source.com flora-source.com sourcecentral.com sourcecentral.com geocities.com