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List Of Contents | Contents of Ten Years Later, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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De Guiche stammered out a few unintelligible words.

"I am perfectly well aware," returned Monsieur, "that the subject is a
delicate one, but you know you can tell me everything.  What do you think
of her?"

In order to avoid betraying his real thoughts, De Guiche had recourse to
the only defense which a man taken by surprise really has, and
accordingly told an untruth.  "I do not find Madame," he said, "either
good or bad looking, yet rather good than bad looking."

"What! count," exclaimed the chevalier, "you who went into such ecstasies
and uttered so many exclamations at the sight of her portrait."

De Guiche colored violently.  Very fortunately, his horse, which was
slightly restive, enabled him by a sudden plunge to conceal his
agitation.  "What portrait?" he murmured, joining them again.  The
chevalier had not taken his eyes off him.

"Yes, the portrait.  Was not the miniature a good likeness?"

"I do not remember.  I had forgotten the portrait; it quite escaped my
recollection."

"And yet it made a very marked impression upon you," said the chevalier.

"That is not unlikely."

"Is she witty, at all events?" inquired the duke.

"I believe so, my lord."

"Is M. de Buckingham witty, too?" said the chevalier.

"I do not know."

"My own opinion is that he must be," replied the chevalier, "for he makes
Madame laugh, and she seems to take no little pleasure in his society,
which never happens to a clever woman when in the company of a simpleton."

"Of course, then, he must be clever," said De Guiche, simply.

At this moment Raoul opportunely arrived, seeing how De Guiche was
pressed by his dangerous questioner, to whom he addressed a remark, and
in that way changed the conversation.  The _entree_ was brilliant and
joyous.

The king, in honor of his brother, had directed that the festivities
should be on a scale of the greatest possible magnificence.  Madame and
her mother alighted at the Louvre, where, during their exile they had so
gloomily submitted to obscurity, misery, and privations of every
description.  That palace, which had been so inhospitable a residence for
the unhappy daughter of Henry IV., the naked walls, the uneven floorings,
the ceilings matted with cobwebs, the vast dilapidated chimney-places,
the cold hearths on which the charity extended to them by parliament
hardly permitted a fire to glow, was completely altered in appearance.
The richest hangings and the thickest carpets, glistening flagstones, and
pictures, with their richly gilded frames; in every direction could be
seen candelabra, mirrors, and furniture and fittings of the most
sumptuous character; in every direction, also, were guards of the
proudest military bearing, with floating plumes, crowds of attendants and
courtiers in the ante-chambers and upon the staircases.  In the
courtyards, where the grass had formerly been allowed to luxuriate, as if
the ungrateful Mazarin had thought it a good idea to let the Parisians
perceive the solitude and disorder were, with misery and despair, the fit
accompaniments of fallen monarchy; the immense courtyards, formerly
silent and desolate, were now thronged with courtiers whose horses were
pacing and prancing to and fro.  The carriages were filled with young and
beautiful women, who awaited the opportunity of saluting, as she passed,
the daughter of that daughter of France who, during her widowhood and
exile, had sometimes gone without wood for her fire, and bread for her
table, whom the meanest attendant at the chateau had treated with
indifference and contempt.  And so, the Madame Henriette once more
returned to the Louvre, with her heart more swollen with bitter
recollections than her daughter's, whose disposition was fickle and
forgetful, with triumph and delight.  She knew but too well this
brilliant reception was paid to the happy mother of a king restored to
his throne, a throne second to none in Europe, while the worse than
indifferent reception she had before met with was paid to her, the
daughter of Henry IV., as a punishment for having been unfortunate.
After the princess had been installed in their apartments and had rested,
the gentlemen who had formed their escort, having, in like manner,
recovered from their fatigue, they resumed their accustomed habits and
occupations.  Raoul began by setting off to see his father, who had left
for Blois.  He then tried to see M. d'Artagnan, who, however, being
engaged in the organization of a military household for the king, could
not be found anywhere.  Bragelonne next sought out De Guiche, but the
count was occupied in a long conference with his tailors and with
Manicamp, which consumed his whole time.  With the Duke of Buckingham he
fared still worse, for the duke was purchasing horses after horses,
diamonds upon diamonds.  He monopolized every embroiderer, jeweler, and
tailor that Paris could boast of.  Between De Guiche and himself a
vigorous contest ensued, invariably a courteous one, in which, in order
to insure success, the duke was ready to spend a million; while the
Marechal de Gramont had only allowed his son sixty thousand francs.  So
Buckingham laughed and spent his money.  Guiche groaned in despair, and
would have shown it more violently, had it not been for the advice De
Bragelonne gave him.

"A million!" repeated De Guiche daily; "I must submit.  Why will not the
marechal advance me a portion of my patrimony?"

"Because you would throw it away," said Raoul.

"What can that matter to him?  If I am to die of it, I shall die of it,
and then I shall need nothing further."

"But what need is there to die?" said Raoul.

"I do not wish to be conquered in elegance by an Englishman."

"My dear count," said Manicamp, "elegance is not a costly commodity, it
is only a very difficult accomplishment."

"Yes, but difficult things cost a good deal of money, and I have only got
sixty thousand francs."

"A very embarrassing state of things, truly," said De Wardes; "even if
you spent as much as Buckingham, there is only nine hundred and forty
thousand francs difference."

"Where am I to find them?"

"Get into debt."

"I am in debt already."

"A greater reason for getting further."

Advice like this resulted in De Guiche becoming excited to such an extent
that he committed extravagances where Buckingham only incurred expenses.
The rumor of this extravagant profuseness delighted the hearts of all the
shopkeepers in Paris; from the hotel of the Duke of Buckingham to that of
the Comte de Gramont nothing but miracles was attempted.  While all this
was going on, Madame was resting herself, and Bragelonne was engaged in
writing to Mademoiselle de la Valliere.  He had already dispatched four
letters, and not an answer to any one of them had been received, when, on
the very morning fixed for the marriage ceremony, which was to take place
in the chapel at the Palais Royal, Raoul, who was dressing, heard his
valet announce M. de Malicorne.  "What can this Malicorne want with me?"
thought Raoul; and then said to his valet, "Let him wait."

"It is a gentleman from Blois," said the valet.

"Admit him at once," said Raoul, eagerly.

Malicorne entered as brilliant as a star, and wearing a superb sword at
his side.  After having saluted Raoul most gracefully, he said: "M. de
Bragelonne, I am the bearer of a thousand compliments from a lady to you."

Raoul colored.  "From a lady," said he, "from a lady of Blois?"

"Yes, monsieur; from Mademoiselle de Montalais."

"Thank you, monsieur; I recollect you now," said Raoul.  "And what does
Mademoiselle de Montalais require of me."

Malicorne drew four letters from his pocket, which he offered to Raoul.

"My own letters, is it possible?" he said, turning pale; "my letters, and
the seals unbroken?"

"Monsieur, your letters did not find at Blois the person to whom they
were addressed, and so they are now returned to you."

"Mademoiselle de la Valliere has left Blois, then?" exclaimed Raoul.

"Eight days ago."

"Where is she, then?"

"In Paris."

"How is it known that these letters were from me?"

"Mademoiselle de Montalais recognized your handwriting and your seal,"
said Malicorne.

Raoul colored and smiled.  "Mademoiselle de Montalais is exceedingly
amiable," he said; "she is always kind and charming."

"Always, monsieur."

"Surely she could have given me some precise information about
Mademoiselle de la Valliere.  I never could find her in this immense
city."

Malicorne drew another packet from his pocket.  "You may possibly find in
this letter what you are anxious to learn."

Raoul hurriedly broke the seal.  The writing was that of Mademoiselle
Aure, and inclosed were these words: - "Paris, Palais Royal.  The day of
the nuptial blessing."

"What does this mean?" inquired Raoul of Malicorne; "you probably know?"

"I do, monsieur."

"For pity's sake, tell me, then."

"Impossible, monsieur."

"Why so?"

"Because Mademoiselle Aure has forbidden me to do so."

Raoul looked at his strange visitor, and remained silent; - "At least,
tell me whether it is fortunate or unfortunate."

"That you will see."

"You are very severe in your reservations."

"Will you grant me one favor, monsieur?" said Malicorne.

"In exchange for that you refuse me?"

"Precisely."

"What is it?"

"I have the greatest desire to see the ceremony, and I have no ticket to
admit me, in spite of all the steps I have taken to secure one.  Could
you get me admitted?"

"Certainly."

"Do me this kindness, then, I entreat."

"Most willingly, monsieur; come with me."

"I am exceedingly indebted to you, monsieur," said Malicorne.

"I thought you were a friend of M. de Manicamp."

"I am, monsieur; but this morning I was with him as he was dressing, and
I let a bottle of blacking fall over his new dress, and he flew at me
sword in hand, so that I was obliged to make my escape.  That is the
reason I could not ask him for a ticket.  He wanted to kill me."

"I can well believe it," laughed Raoul.  "I know Manicamp is capable of
killing a man who has been unfortunate enough to commit the crime you

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