Make your own free website on Tripod.com

List Of Contents | Contents of Ten Years Later, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
< < Previous Page    

the Spanish leather bag.

"The king!" exclaimed the queen-mother.

"The king has won," repeated the queen, delightedly.

"Oh! the king! your dream!" said Madame, joyously, in the ear of Anne of
Austria.

The king was the only one who did not exhibit any satisfaction.  He
merely thanked Fortune for what she had done for him, in addressing a
slight salutation to the young girl who had been chosen as her proxy.
Then receiving from the hands of Anne of Austria, amid the eager desire
of the whole assembly, the casket inclosing the bracelets, he said, "Are
these bracelets really beautiful, then?"

"Look at them," said Anne of Austria, "and judge for yourself."

The king looked at them, and said, "Yes, indeed, an admirable medallion.
What perfect finish!"

Queen Maria Theresa easily saw, and that, too at the very first glance,
that the king would not offer the bracelets to her; but, as he did not
seem the least degree in the world disposed to offer them to Madame, she
felt almost satisfied, or nearly so.  The king sat down.  The most
intimate among the courtiers approached, one by one, for the purpose of
admiring more closely the beautiful piece of workmanship, which soon,
with the king's permission, was handed about from person to person.
Immediately, every one, connoisseurs or not, uttered various exclamations
of surprise, and overwhelmed the king with congratulations.  There was,
in fact, something for everybody to admire - the brilliance for some, and
the cutting for others.  The ladies present visibly displayed their
impatience to see such a treasure monopolized by the gentlemen.

"Gentlemen, gentlemen," said the king, whom nothing escaped, "one would
almost think that you wore bracelets as the Sabines used to do; hand them
round for a while for the inspection of the ladies, who seem to have, and
with far greater right, an excuse for understanding such matters!"

These words appeared to Madame the commencement of a decision she
expected.  She gathered, besides, this happy belief from the glances of
the queen-mother.  The courtier who held them at the moment the king made
this remark, amidst the general agitation, hastened to place the
bracelets in the hands of the queen, Maria Theresa, who, knowing too
well, poor woman, that they were not designed for her, hardly looked at
them, and almost immediately passed them on to Madame.  The latter, and
even more minutely, Monsieur, gave the bracelets a long look of anxious
and almost covetous desire.  She then handed the jewels to those ladies
who were near her, pronouncing this single word, but with an accent which
was worth a long phrase, "Magnificent!"

The ladies who had received the bracelets from Madame's hands looked at
them as long as they chose to examine them, and then made them circulate
by passing them on towards the right.  During this time the king was
tranquilly conversing with De Guiche and Fouquet, rather passively
letting them talk than himself listening.  Accustomed to the set form of
ordinary phrases, his ear, like that of all men who exercise an
incontestable superiority over others, merely selected from the
conversations held in various directions the indispensable word which
requires reply.  His attention, however, was now elsewhere, for it
wandered as his eyes did.

Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente was the last of the ladies inscribed for
tickets; and, as if she had ranked according to her name upon the list,
she had only Montalais and La Valliere near her.  When the bracelets
reached these two latter, no one appeared to take any further notice of
them.  The humble hands which for a moment touched these jewels, deprived
them, for the time, of their importance - a circumstance which did not,
however, prevent Montalais from starting with joy, envy, and covetous
desire, at the sight of the beautiful stones still more than at their
magnificent workmanship.  It is evident that if she were compelled to
decide between the pecuniary value and the artistic beauty, Montalais
would unhesitatingly have preferred diamonds to cameos, and her
disinclination, therefore, to pass them on to her companion, La Valliere,
was very great.  La Valliere fixed a look almost of indifference upon the
jewels.

"Oh, how beautiful, how magnificent these bracelets are!" exclaimed
Montalais; "and yet you do not go into ecstasies about them, Louise!  You
are no true woman, I am sure."

"Yes, I am, indeed," replied the young girl, with an accent of the most
charming melancholy; "but why desire that which can never, by any
possibility, be ours?"

The king, his head bent forward, was listening to what Louise was
saying.  Hardly had the vibration of her voice reached his ear than he
rose, radiant with delight, and passing across the whole assembly, from
the place where he stood, to La Valliere, "You are mistaken,
mademoiselle," he said, "you are a woman, and every woman has a right to
wear jewels, which are a woman's appurtenance."

"Oh, sire!" said La Valliere, "your majesty will not absolutely believe
in my modesty?"

"I believe you possess every virtue, mademoiselle; frankness as well as
every other; I entreat you, therefore, to say frankly what you think of
these bracelets?"

"That they are beautiful, sire, and cannot be offered to any other than a
queen."

"I am delighted that such is your opinion, mademoiselle; the bracelets
are yours, and the king begs your acceptance of them."

And as, with a movement almost resembling terror, La Valliere eagerly
held out the casket to the king, the king gently pushed back her
trembling hand.

A silence of astonishment, more profound than that of death, reigned in
the assembly.

And yet, from the side where the queens were, no one had heard what he
had said, nor understood what he had done.  A charitable friend, however,
took upon herself to spread the news; it was Tonnay-Charente, to whom
Madame had made a sign to approach.

"Good heavens!" explained Tonnay-Charente, "how happy that La Valliere
is! the king has just given her the bracelets."

Madame bit her lips to such a degree that the blood appeared upon the
surface of the skin.  The young queen looked first at La Valliere and
then at Madame, and began to laugh.  Anne of Austria rested her chin upon
her beautiful white hand, and remained for a long time absorbed by a
presentiment that disturbed her mind, and by a terrible pang which stung
her heart.  De Guiche, observing Madame turn pale, and guessing the cause
of her change of color, abruptly quitted the assembly and disappeared.
Malicorne was then able to approach Montalais very quietly, and under
cover of the general din of conversation, said to her:

"Aure, your fortune and our future are standing at your elbow."

"Yes," was her reply, as she tenderly embraced La Valliere, whom,
inwardly, she was tempted to strangle.

End of Ten Years Later.  The next text in the series is Louise de la
Valliere.


Footnotes

1. In the three-volume edition, Volume 1, entitled The Vicomte de
Bragelonne, ends here.
2. In most other editions, the previous chapter and the next are
usually combined into one chapter, entitled "D'Artagnan calls
De Wardes to account."
3. Dumas is mistaken.  The events in the following chapters
occurred in 1661.
4. In the five-volume edition, Volume 2 ends here.
5. The verses in this chapter have been re-written to give the
flavor of them rather than the meaning.  A more literal translation
would look like this:

"Guiche is the furnisher
Of the maids of honor."

and -

"He has stocked the birdcage;
Montalais and - "

It would be more accurate, though, to say "baited" rather than
"stocked" in the second couplet.
6. The Latin translates to "The spirit is willing, but the flesh
is weak."
7. "Ad majorem Dei gloriam" was the motto of the Jesuits.  It
translates to "For the greater glory of God."
8. "In the presence of these men?"
9. "By this sign you shall conquer."
10. "It rained all night long; the games will be held tomorrow."
11. "Lord, I am not worthy."







< < Previous Page    



Other sites:

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