List Of Contents | Contents of Ten Years Later, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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"I will tell you.  Instead of devoting yourself to friendships which are
somewhat unstable, instead of alarming us by your retirement, remain
always in our society, do not leave us, let us live as a united family.
M. de Guiche is certainly very amiable; but if, at least, we do not
possess his wit - "

"Ah, sire, you know very well you are pretending to be modest."

"No, I swear to you.  One may be a king, and yet feel that he possesses
fewer chances of pleasing than many other gentlemen."

"I am sure, sire, that you do not believe a single word you are saying."

The king looked at Madame tenderly, and said, "Will you promise me one
thing?"

"What is it?"

"That you will no longer waste upon strangers, in your own apartments,
the time which you owe us.  Shall we make an offensive and defensive
alliance against the common enemy?"

"An alliance with you, sire?"

"Why not?  Are you not a sovereign power?"

"But are you, sire, a reliable ally?"

"You shall see, madame."

"And when shall this alliance commence?"

"This very day."

"I will draw up the treaty, and you shall sign it."

"Blindly."

"Then, sire, I promise you wonders; you are the star of the court, and
when you make your appearance, everything will be resplendent."

"Oh, madame, madame," said Louis XIV., "you know well that there is no
brilliancy that does not proceed from yourself, and that if I assume the
sun as my device, it is only an emblem."

"Sire, you flatter your ally, and you wish to deceive her," said Madame,
threatening the king with her finger menacingly raised.

"What! you believe I am deceiving you, when I assure you of my affection?"

"Yes."

"What makes you so suspicious?"

"One thing."

"What is it?  I shall indeed be unhappy if I do not overcome it."

"That one thing in question, sire, is not in your power, not even in the
power of Heaven."

"Tell me what it is."

"The past."

"I do not understand, madame," said the king, precisely because he had
understood her but too well.

The princess took his hand in hers.  "Sire," she said, "I have had the
misfortune to displease you for so long a period, that I have almost the
right to ask myself to-day why you were able to accept me as a sister-in-
law."

"Displease me!  You have displeased me?"

"Nay, do not deny it, for I remember it well."

"Our alliance shall date from to-day," exclaimed the king, with a warmth
that was not assumed.  "You will not think any more of the past, will
you?  I myself am resolved that I will not.  I shall always remember the
present; I have it before my eyes; look."  And he led the princess before
a mirror, in which she saw herself reflected, blushing and beautiful
enough to overcome a saint.

"It is all the same," she murmured; "it will not be a very worthy
alliance."

"Must I swear?" inquired the king, intoxicated by the voluptuous turn the
whole conversation had taken.

"Oh, I will not refuse to witness a resounding oath," said Madame; "it
has always the _semblance_ of security."

The king knelt upon a footstool and took Madame's hand.  She, with a
smile that no painter could ever succeed in depicting, and which a poet
might only imagine, gave him both her hands, in which he hid his burning
face.  Neither of them could utter a syllable.  The king felt Madame
withdraw her hands, caressing his face while she did so.  He rose
immediately and left the apartment.  The courtiers remarked his
heightened color, and concluded that the scene had been a stormy one.
The Chevalier de Lorraine, however, hastened to say, "Nay, be comforted,
gentlemen, his majesty is always pale when he is angry."


Chapter XXXIV:
The Advisers.

The king left Madame in a state of agitation it would have been difficult
even for himself to have explained.  It is impossible, in fact, to depict
the secret play of those strange sympathies which, suddenly and
apparently without any cause, are excited, after many years passed in the
greatest calmness and indifference, by two hearts destined to love each
other.  Why had Louis formerly disdained, almost hated, Madame?  Why did
he now find the same woman so beautiful, so captivating?  And why, not
only were his thoughts occupied about her, but still more, why were they
so continuously occupied about her?  Why, in fact, had Madame, whose eyes
and mind were sought for in another direction, shown during the last week
towards the king a semblance of favor which encouraged the belief of
still greater regard.  It must not be supposed that Louis proposed to
himself any plan of seduction; the tie which united Madame to his brother
was, or at least, seemed to him, an insuperable barrier; he was even too
far removed from that barrier to perceive its existence.  But on the
downward path of those passions in which the heart rejoices, towards
which youth impels us, no one can decide where to stop, not even the man
who has in advance calculated all the chances of his own success or
another's submission.  As far as Madame was concerned, her regard for the
king may easily be explained: she was young, a coquette, and ardently
fond of admiration.  Hers was one of those buoyant, impetuous natures,
which upon a theatre would leap over the greatest obstacles to obtain an
acknowledgement of applause from the spectators.  It was not surprising,
then, that, after having been adored by Buckingham, by De Guiche, who was
superior to Buckingham, even if it were only from that negative merit, so
much appreciated by women, that is to say, novelty - it was not
surprising, we say, that the princess should raise her ambition to being
admired by the king, who not only was the first person in the kingdom,
but was one of the handsomest and cleverest men in Europe.  As for the
sudden passion with which Louis was inspired for his sister-in-law,
physiology would perhaps supply an explanation by some hackneyed
commonplace reasons, and nature by means of her mysterious affinity of
characters.  Madame had the most beautiful black eyes in the world;
Louis, eyes as beautiful, but blue.  Madame was laughter-loving and
unreserved in her manners; Louis, melancholy and diffident.  Summoned to
meet each other for the first time upon the grounds of interest and
common curiosity, these two opposite natures were mutually influenced by
the mingling of their reciprocal contradictions of character.  Louis,
when he returned to his own rooms, acknowledged to himself that Madame
was the most attractive woman of his court.  Madame, left alone,
delightedly thought that she had made a great impression on the king.
This feeling with her must remain passive, whilst the king could not but
act with all the natural vehemence of the heated fancies of a young man,
and of a young man who has but to express a wish to see his wish fulfilled.

The first thing the king did was to announce to Monsieur that everything
was quietly arranged; that Madame had the greatest respect, the sincerest
affection for him; but that she was of a proud, impetuous character, and
that her susceptibilities were so acute as to require very careful
management.

Monsieur replied in the reticent tone of voice he generally adopted with
his brother, that he could not very well understand the susceptibilities
of a woman whose conduct might, in his opinion, expose her to censorious
remarks, and that if any one had a right to feel wounded, it was he,
Monsieur himself.  To this the king replied in a quick tone of voice,
which showed the interest he took in his sister-in-law, "Thank Heaven,
Madame is above censure."

"The censure of others, certainly, I admit," said Monsieur; "but not
above mine, I presume."

"Well," said the king, "all I have to say, Philip, is that Madame's
conduct does not deserve your censure.  She certainly is heedless and
singular, but professes the best feelings.  The English character is not
always well understood in France, and the liberty of English manners
sometimes surprises those who do not know the extent to which this
liberty is enriched by innocence."

"Ah!" said Monsieur, more and more piqued, "from the very moment that
your majesty absolves my wife, whom I accuse, my wife is not guilty, and
I have nothing more to say."

"Philip," replied the king hastily, for he felt the voice of conscience
murmuring softly in his heart, that Monsieur was not altogether wrong,
"what I have done, and what I have said, has been only for your
happiness.  I was told that you complained of a want of confidence and
attention on Madame's part, and I did not wish your uneasiness to be
prolonged.  It is part of my duty to watch over your household, as over
that of the humblest of my subjects.  I have satisfied myself, therefore,
with the sincerest pleasure, that your apprehensions have no foundation."

"And," continued Monsieur, in an interrogative tone of voice, and fixing
his eyes upon his brother, "what your majesty has discovered for Madame 
and I bow myself to your superior judgment - have you verified for those
who have been the cause of the scandal of which I complain?"

"You are right, Philip," said the king; "I will reserve that point for
future consideration."

These words comprised an order as well as a consolation; the prince felt
it to be so, and withdrew.

As for Louis, he went to seek his mother, for he felt that he had need of
a more complete absolution than that he had just received from his
brother.  Anne of Austria did not entertain for M. de Guiche the same
reasons for indulgence she had had for Buckingham.  She perceived, at the
very first words he pronounced, that Louis was not disposed to be severe.

To appear in a contradictory humor was one of the stratagems of the good
queen, in order to succeed in ascertaining the truth.  But Louis was no
longer in his apprenticeship; already for more than a year past he had
been king, and during that year he had learned how to dissemble.
Listening to Anne of Austria, in order to permit her to disclose her own
thoughts, testifying his approval only by look and gesture, he became
convinced, from certain piercing glances, and from certain skillful

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