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List Of Contents | Contents of Ten Years Later, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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"Malicorne," cried she after having read it, "In truth, you are a good
lad."

"What for, mademoiselle?"

"Because you might have been paid for this commission, and you have
not."  And she burst into a loud laugh, thinking to put the clerk out of
countenance; but Malicorne sustained the attack bravely.

"I do not understand you," said he.  It was now Montalais who was
disconcerted in her turn.  "I have declared my sentiments to you,"
continued Malicorne.  "You have told me three times, laughing all the
while, that you did not love me; you have embraced me once without
laughing, and that is all I want."

"All?" said the proud and coquettish Montalais, in a tone through which
the wounded pride was visible.

"Absolutely all, mademoiselle," replied Malicorne.

"Ah!" - And this monosyllable indicated as much anger as the young man
might have expected gratitude.  He shook his head quietly.

"Listen, Montalais," said he, without heeding whether that familiarity
pleased his mistress or not; "let us not dispute about it."

"And why not?"

"Because during the year which I have known you, you might have had me
turned out of doors twenty times if I did not please you."

"Indeed; and on what account should I have had you turned out?"

"Because I have been sufficiently impertinent for that."

"Oh, that, - yes, that's true."

"You see plainly that you are forced to avow it," said Malicorne.

"Monsieur Malicorne!"

"Don't let us be angry; if you have retained me, then it has not been
without cause."

"It is not, at least, because I love you," cried Montalais.

"Granted.  I will even say, at this moment, I am certain that you hate
me."

"Oh, you have never spoken so truly."

"Well, on my part, I detest you."

"Ah!  I take the act."

"Take it.  You find me brutal and foolish; on my part I find you have a
harsh voice, and your face is too often distorted with anger.  At this
moment you would allow yourself to be thrown out of that window rather
than allow me to kiss the tip of your finger; I would precipitate myself
from the top of the balcony rather than touch the hem of your robe.  But,
in five minutes, you will love me, and I shall adore you.  Oh, it is just
so."

"I doubt it."

"And I swear it."

"Coxcomb!"

"And then, that is not the true reason.  You stand in need of me, Aure,
and I of you.  When it pleases you to be gay, I make you laugh; when it
suits me to be loving, I look at you.  I have given you a commission of
lady of honor which you wished for; you will give me, presently,
something I wish for."

"I will?"

"Yes, you will; but, at this moment, my dear Aure, I declare to you that
I wish for absolutely nothing, so be at ease."

"You are a frightful man, Malicorne; I was going to rejoice at getting
this commission, and thus you quench my joy."

"Good; there is no time lost, - you will rejoice when I am gone."

"Go, then; and after - "

"So be it; but in the first place, a piece of advice."

"What is it?"

"Resume your good-humor, - you are ugly when you pout."

"Coarse!"

"Come, let us tell the truth to each other, while we are about it."

"Oh, Malicorne!  Bad-hearted man!"

"Oh, Montalais!  Ungrateful girl!"

The young man leant with his elbow upon the window-frame; Montalais took
a book and opened it.  Malicorne stood up, brushed his hat with his
sleeve, smoothed down his black doublet; - Montalais, though pretending
to read, looked at him out of the corner of her eye.

"Good!" cried she, furious; "he has assumed his respectful air - and he
will pout for a week."

"A fortnight, mademoiselle," said Malicorne, bowing.

Montalais lifted up her little doubled fist.  "Monster!" said she; "oh!
that I were a man!"

"What would you do to me?"

"I would strangle you."

"Ah!  very well, then," said Malicorne; "I believe I begin to desire
something."

"And what do you desire, Monsieur Demon?  That I should lose my soul from
anger?"

Malicorne was rolling his hat respectfully between his fingers; but, all
at once, he let fall his hat, seized the young girl by the shoulders,
pulled her towards him, and sealed her mouth with two lips that were very
warm, for a man pretending to so much indifference.  Aure would have
cried out, but the cry was stifled in his kiss.  Nervous and, apparently,
angry, the young girl pushed Malicorne against the wall.

"Good!" said Malicorne, philosophically, "that's enough for six weeks.
Adieu, mademoiselle, accept my very humble salutation."  And he made
three steps towards the door.

"Well! no, - you shall not go!" cried Montalais, stamping with her little
foot.  "Stay where you are!  I order you!"

"You order me?"

"Yes; am I not mistress?"

"Of my heart and soul, without doubt."

"A pretty property! _ma foi!_  The soul is silly and the heart dry."

"Beware, Montalais, I know you," said Malicorne; "you are going to fall
in love with your humble servant."

"Well, yes!" said she, hanging round his neck with childish indolence,
rather than with loving abandonment.  "Well, yes! for I must thank you at
least."

"And for what?"

"For the commission; is it not my whole future?"

"And mine."

Montalais looked at him.

"It is frightful," said she, "that one can never guess whether you are
speaking seriously or not."

"I cannot speak more seriously.  I was going to Paris, - you are going
there, - we are going there."

"And so it was for that motive only you have served me; selfish fellow!"

"What would you have me say, Aure?  I cannot live without you."

"Well! in truth, it is just so with me; you are, nevertheless, it must be
confessed, a very bad-hearted young man."

"Aure, my dear Aure, take care!  if you take to calling me names again,
you know the effect they produce upon me, and I shall adore you."  And so
saying, Malicorne drew the young girl a second time towards him.  But at
that instant a step resounded on the staircase.  The young people were so
close, that they would have been surprised in the arms of each other, if
Montalais had not violently pushed Malicorne, with his back against the
door, just then opening.  A loud cry, followed by angry reproaches,
immediately resounded.  It was Madame de Saint-Remy who uttered the cry
and the angry words.  The unlucky Malicorne almost crushed her between
the wall and the door she was coming in at.

"It is again that good-for-nothing!" cried the old lady.  "Always here!"

"Ah, madame!" replied Malicorne, in a respectful tone; "it is eight long
days since I was here."


Chapter III:
In Which We at Length See the True Heroine of this History Appear.

Behind Madame de Saint-Remy stood Mademoiselle de la Valliere.  She heard
the explosion of maternal anger, and as she divined the cause of it, she
entered the chamber trembling, and perceived the unlucky Malicorne, whose
woeful countenance might have softened or set laughing whoever observed
it coolly.  He had promptly intrenched himself behind a large chair, as
if to avoid the first attacks of Madame de Saint-Remy; he had no hopes of
prevailing with words, for she spoke louder than he, and without
stopping; but he reckoned upon the eloquence of his gestures.  The old
lady would neither listen to nor see anything; Malicorne had long been
one of her antipathies.  But her anger was too great not to overflow from
Malicorne on his accomplice.  Montalais had her turn.

"And you, mademoiselle; you may be certain I shall inform madame of what
is going on in the apartment of one of her ladies of honor?"

"Oh, dear mother!" cried Mademoiselle de la Valliere, "for mercy's sake,
spare - "

"Hold your tongue, mademoiselle, and do not uselessly trouble yourself to
intercede for unworthy people; that a young maid of honor like you should
be subjected to a bad example is, certes, a misfortune great enough; but
that you should sanction it by your indulgence is what I will not allow."

"But in truth," said Montalais, rebelling again, "I do not know under
what pretense you treat me thus.  I am doing no harm, I suppose?"

"And that great good-for-nothing, mademoiselle," resumed Madame de Saint-
Remy, pointing to Malicorne, "is he here to do any good, I ask you?"

"He is neither here for good nor harm, madame; he comes to see me, that
is all."

"It is all very well! all very well!" said the old lady.  "Her royal
highness shall be informed of it, and she will judge."

"At all events, I do not see why," replied Montalais, "it should be
forbidden M. Malicorne to have intentions towards me, if his intentions
are honorable."

"Honorable intentions with such a face!" cried Madame de Saint-Remy.

"I thank you in the name of my face, madame," said Malicorne.

"Come, my daughter, come," continued Madame de Saint-Remy; "we will go
and inform madame that at the very moment she is weeping for her husband,
at the moment when we are all weeping for a master in this old castle of
Blois, the abode of grief, there are people who amuse themselves with
flirtations!"

"Oh!" cried both the accused, with one voice.

"A maid of honor! a maid of honor!" cried the old lady, lifting her hands
towards heaven.

"Well! it is there you are mistaken, madame," said Montalais, highly
exasperated; "I am no longer a maid of honor, of madame's at least."

"Have you given in your resignation, mademoiselle?  That is well!  I
cannot but applaud such a determination, and I do applaud it."

"I do not give in my resignation, madame; I take another service, - that
is all."

"In the _bourgeoisie_ or in the _robe?_" asked Madame de Saint-Remy,
disdainfully.

"Please to learn, madame, that I am not a girl to serve either
_bourgeoises_ or _robines_; and that instead of the miserable court at
which you vegetate, I am going to reside in a court almost royal."

"Ha, ha! a royal court," said Madame de Saint-Remy, forcing a laugh; "a
royal court!  What do you think of that, my daughter?"

And she turned towards Mademoiselle de la Valliere, whom she would by
main force have dragged away from Montalais, and who instead of obeying
the impulse of Madame de Saint-Remy, looked first at her mother and then

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