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List Of Contents | Contents of Ten Years Later, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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"Come, come," said D'Artagnan, familiarly, to Raoul, "the king will allow
you to embrace me; only tell his majesty you thank him."

Raoul bowed so gracefully, that Louis, to whom all superior qualities
were pleasing when they did not overshadow his own, admired his beauty,
strength, and modesty.

"Monsieur," said the king, addressing Raoul, "I have asked monsieur le
prince to be kind enough to give you up to me; I have received his reply,
and you belong to me from this morning.  Monsieur le prince was a good
master, but I hope you will not lose by the exchange."

"Yes, yes, Raoul, be satisfied; the king has some good in him," said
D'Artagnan, who had fathomed the character of Louis, and who played with
his self-love, within certain limits; always observing, be it understood,
the proprieties and flattering, even when he appeared to be bantering.

"Sire," said Bragelonne, with voice soft and musical, and with the
natural and easy elocution he inherited from his father; "Sire, it is not
from to-day that I belong to your majesty."

"Oh! no, I know," said the king, "you mean your enterprise of the Greve.
That day, you were truly mine, monsieur."

"Sire, it is not of that day I would speak; it would not become me to
refer to so paltry a service in the presence of such a man as M.
d'Artagnan.  I would speak of a circumstance which created an epoch in my
life, and which consecrated me, from the age of sixteen, to the devoted
service of your majesty."

"Ah! ah!" said the king, "what was that circumstance?  Tell me, monsieur."

"This is it, sire. - When I was setting out on my first campaign, that is
to say, to join the army of monsieur le prince, M. le Comte de la Fere
came to conduct me as far as Saint-Denis, where the remains of King Louis
XIII. wait, upon the lowest steps of the funeral _basilique_, a
successor, whom God will not send him, I hope, for many years.  Then he
made me swear upon the ashes of our masters, to serve royalty,
represented by you - incarnate in you, sire - to serve it in word, in
thought, and in action.  I swore, and God and the dead were witnesses to
my oath.  During ten years, sire, I have not so often as I desired had
occasion to keep it.  I am a soldier of your majesty, and nothing else;
and, on calling me nearer to you, I do not change my master, I only
change my garrison."

Raoul was silent and bowed.  Louis still listened after he had done
speaking.

"_Mordioux!_" cried D'Artagnan, "that was well spoken! was it not, your
majesty?  A good race! a noble race!"

"Yes," murmured the king, without, however daring to manifest his
emotion, for it had no other cause than contact with a nature
intrinsically noble.  "Yes, monsieur, you say truly: - wherever you were,
you were the king's.  But in changing your garrison, believe me you will
find an advancement of which you are worthy."

Raoul saw that this ended what the king had to say to him.  And with the
perfect tact which characterized his refined nature, he bowed and retired.

"Is there anything else, monsieur, of which you have to inform me?" said
the king, when he found himself again alone with D'Artagnan.

"Yes, sire, and I kept that news for the last, for it is sad, and will
clothe European royalty in mourning."

"What do you tell me?"

"Sire, in passing through Blois, a word, a sad word, echoed from the
palace, struck my ear."

"In truth, you terrify me, M. d'Artagnan."

"Sire, this word was pronounced to me by a _piqueur_, who wore crape on
his arm."

"My uncle, Gaston of Orleans, perhaps."

"Sire, he has rendered his last sigh."

"And I was not warned of it!" cried the king, whose royal susceptibility
saw an insult in the absence of this intelligence.

"Oh! do not be angry, sire," said D'Artagnan; "neither the couriers of
Paris, nor the couriers of the whole world, can travel with your servant;
the courier from Blois will not be here these two hours, and he rides
well, I assure you, seeing that I only passed him on the thither side of
Orleans."

"My uncle Gaston," murmured Louis, pressing his hand to his brow, and
comprising in those three words all that his memory recalled of that
symbol of opposing sentiments.

"Eh! yes, sire, it is thus," said D'Artagnan, philosophically replying to
the royal thought, "it is thus the past flies away."

"That is true, monsieur, that is true; but there remains for us, thank
God! the future; and we will try to make it not too dark."

"I feel confidence in your majesty on that head," said D'Artagnan,
bowing, "and now - "

"You are right, monsieur; I had forgotten the hundred leagues you have
just ridden.  Go, monsieur, take care of one of the best of soldiers, and
when you have reposed a little, come and place yourself at my disposal."

"Sire, absent or present, I am always yours."

D'Artagnan bowed and retired.  Then, as if he had only come from
Fontainebleau, he quickly traversed the Louvre to rejoin Bragelonne.


Chapter II:
A Lover and His Mistress.

Whilst the wax-lights were burning in the castle of Blois, around the
inanimate body of Gaston of Orleans, that last representative of the
past; whilst the _bourgeois_ of the city were thinking out his epitaph,
which was far from being a panegyric; whilst madame the dowager, no
longer remembering that in her young days she had loved that senseless
corpse to such a degree as to fly the paternal palace for his sake, was
making, within twenty paces of the funeral apartment, her little
calculations of interest and her little sacrifices of pride; other
interests and other prides were in agitation in all the parts of the
castle into which a living soul could penetrate.  Neither the lugubrious
sounds of the bells, nor the voices of the chanters, nor the splendor of
the wax-lights through the windows, nor the preparations for the funeral,
had power to divert the attention of two persons, placed at a window of
the interior court - a window that we are acquainted with, and which
lighted a chamber forming part of what were called the little
apartments.  For the rest, a joyous beam of the sun, for the sun appeared
to care little for the loss France had just suffered; a sunbeam, we say,
descended upon them, drawing perfumes from the neighboring flowers, and
animating the walls themselves.  These two persons, so occupied, not by
the death of the duke, but by the conversation which was the consequence
of that death, were a young woman and a young man.  The latter personage,
a man of from twenty-five to twenty-six years of age, with a mien
sometimes lively and sometimes dull, making good use of two large eyes,
shaded with long eye-lashes, was short of stature and swart of skin; he
smiled with an enormous, but well-furnished mouth, and his pointed chin,
which appeared to enjoy a mobility nature does not ordinarily grant to
that portion of the countenance, leant from time to time very lovingly
towards his interlocutrix, who, we must say, did not always draw back so
rapidly as strict propriety had a right to require.  The young girl - we
know her, for we have already seen her, at that very same window, by the
light of that same sun - the young girl presented a singular mixture of
shyness and reflection; she was charming when she laughed, beautiful when
she became serious; but, let us hasten to say, she was more frequently
charming than beautiful.  These two appeared to have attained the
culminating point of a discussion - half-bantering, half-serious.

"Now, Monsieur Malicorne," said the young girl, "does it, at length,
please you that we should talk reasonably?"

"You believe that that is very easy, Mademoiselle Aure," replied the
young man.  "To do what we like, when we can only do what we are able - "

"Good! there he is bewildered in his phrases."

"Who, I?"

"Yes, you; quit that lawyer's logic, my dear."

"Another impossibility.  Clerk I am, Mademoiselle de Montalais."

"Demoiselle I am, Monsieur Malicorne."

"Alas, I know it well, and you overwhelm me by your rank; so I will say
no more to you."

"Well, no, I don't overwhelm you; say what you have to tell me - say it,
I insist upon it."

"Well, I obey you."

"That is truly fortunate."

"Monsieur is dead."

"Ah, _peste!_ that's news!  And where do you come from, to be able to
tell us that?"

"I come from Orleans, mademoiselle."

"And is that all the news you bring?"

"Ah, no; I am come to tell you that Madame Henrietta of England is coming
to marry the king's brother."

"Indeed, Malicorne, you are insupportable with your news of the last
century.  Now, mind, if you persist in this bad habit of laughing at
people, I will have you turned out."

"Oh!"

"Yes, for really you exasperate me."

"There, there.  Patience, mademoiselle."

"You want to make yourself of consequence; I know well enough why.  Go!"

"Tell me, and I will answer you frankly, yes, if the thing be true."

"You know that I am anxious to have that commission of lady of honor,
which I have been foolish enough to ask of you, and you do not use your
credit."

"Who, I?"  Malicorne cast down his eyes, joined his hands, and assumed
his sullen air.  "And what credit can the poor clerk of a procurer have,
pray?"

"Your father has not twenty thousand livres a year for nothing, M.
Malicorne."

"A provincial fortune, Mademoiselle de Montalais."

"Your father is not in the secrets of monsieur le prince for nothing."

"An advantage which is confined to lending monseigneur money."

"In a word, you are not the most cunning young fellow in the province
for nothing."

"You flatter me!"

"Who, I?"

"Yes, you."

"How so?"

"Since I maintain that I have no credit, and you maintain I have."

"Well, then, - my commission?"

"Well, - your commission?"

"Shall I have it, or shall I not?"

"You shall have it."

"Ay, but when?"

"When you like."

"Where is it, then?"

"In my pocket."

"How - in your pocket?"

"Yes."

And, with a smile, Malicorne drew from his pocket a letter, upon which
mademoiselle seized as a prey, and which she read eagerly.  As she read,
her face brightened.

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