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List Of Contents | Contents of Ten Years Later, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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"I am now quite certain that he will remain," murmured the Chevalier de
Lorraine to himself.

Raoul, when the chevalier had left, did not even attempt to dissuade his
friend, for he felt that it would be trouble thrown away; he merely
observed to the comte, in his melancholy and melodious voice, "You are
embarking in a most dangerous enterprise.  I know you well; you go to
extremes in everything, and the lady you love does so, too.  Admitting
for an instant that she should at last love you - "

"Oh, never!" exclaimed De Guiche.

"Why do you say never?"

"Because it would be a great misfortune for both of us."

"In that case, instead of regarding you simply imprudent, I cannot but
consider you absolutely mad."

"Why?"

"Are you perfectly sure - mind, answer me frankly - that you do not wish
her whom you love to make any sacrifice for you?"

"Yes, yes; quite sure."

"Love her, then, at a distance."

"What! at a distance?"

"Certainly; what matters being present or absent, since you expect
nothing from her?  Love her portrait, a memento."

"Raoul!"

"Love is a shadow, an illusion, a chimera; be devoted to the affection
itself, in giving a name to your ideality."

"Ah!"

"You turn away; your servants approach.  I will say no more.  In good or
bad fortune, De Guiche, depend on me."

"Indeed I shall do so."

"Very well; that is all I had to say to you.  Spare no pains in your
person, De Guiche, and look your very best.  Adieu."

"You will not be present, then, at the ballet, vicomte?"

"No; I shall have a visit to pay in town.  Farewell, De Guiche."

The reception was to take place in the king's apartments.  In the first
place, there were the queens, then Madame, and a few ladies of the court,
who had been carefully selected.  A great number of courtiers, also
selected, occupied the time, before the dancing commenced, in conversing,
as people knew how to converse in those times.  None of the ladies who
had received invitations appeared in the costumes of the _fete_, as the
Chevalier de Lorraine had predicted, but many conversations took place
about the rich and ingenious toilettes designed by different painters for
the ballet of "The Demi-Gods," for thus were termed the kings and queens
of which Fontainebleau was about to become the Pantheon.  Monsieur
arrived, holding in his hand a drawing representing his character; he
looked somewhat anxious; he bowed courteously to the young queen and his
mother, but saluted Madame almost cavalierly.  His notice of her and his
coldness of manner were observed by all.  M. de Guiche indemnified the
princess by a look of passionate devotion, and it must be admitted that
Madame, as she raised her eyes, returned it to him with interest.  It is
unquestionable that De Guiche had never looked so handsome, for Madame's
glance had its customary effect of lighting up the features of the son of
the Marshal de Gramont.  The king's sister-in-law felt a storm mustering
above her head; she felt, too, that during the whole of the day, so
fruitful in future events, she had acted unjustly, if not treasonably,
towards one who loved her with such a depth of devotion.  In her eyes the
moment seemed to have arrived for an acknowledgement to the poor victim
of the injustice of the morning.  Her heart spoke, and murmured the name
of De Guiche; the count was sincerely pitied and accordingly gained the
victory over all others.  Neither Monsieur, nor the king, nor the Duke of
Buckingham, was any longer thought of; De Guiche at that moment reigned
without a rival.  But although Monsieur also looked very handsome, still
he could not be compared to the count.  It is well known - indeed all
women say so - that a wide difference invariably exists between the good
looks of a lover and those of a husband.  Besides, in the present case,
after Monsieur had left, and after the courteous and affectionate
recognition of the young queen and of the queen-mother, and the careless
and indifferent notice of Madame, which all the courtiers had remarked;
all these motives gave the lover the advantage over the husband.
Monsieur was too great a personage to notice these details.  Nothing is
so certain as a well settled idea of superiority to prove the inferiority
of the man who has that opinion of himself.  The king arrived.  Every one
looked for what might possibly happen in the glance, which began to
bestir the world, like the brow of Jupiter Tonans.  Louis had none of
his brother's gloominess, but was perfectly radiant.  Having examined the
greater part of the drawings which were displayed for his inspection on
every side, he gave his opinion or made his remarks upon them, and in
this manner rendered some happy and others wretched by a single word.
Suddenly his glance, which was smilingly directed towards Madame,
detected the slight correspondence established between the princess and
the count.  He bit his lips, but when he opened them again to utter a few
commonplace remarks, he said, advancing towards the queens: -

"I have just been informed that everything is now prepared at
Fontainebleau, in accordance with my directions."  A murmur of
satisfaction arose from the different groups, and the king perceived on
every face the greatest anxiety to receive an invitation for the
_fetes_.  "I shall leave to-morrow," he added.  Whereupon the profoundest
silence immediately ensued.  "And I invite," said the king, finishing,
"all those who are now present to get ready to accompany me."

Smiling faces were now everywhere visible, with the exception of
Monsieur, who seemed to retain his ill-humor.  The different noblemen and
ladies of the court thereupon defiled before the king, one after the
other, in order to thank his majesty for the great honor which had been
conferred upon them by the invitation.  When it came to De Guiche's turn,
the king said, "Ah! M. de Guiche, I did not see you."

The comte bowed, and Madame turned pale.  De Guiche was about to open his
lips to express his thanks, when the king said, "Comte, this is the
season for farming purposes in the country; I am sure your tenants in
Normandy will be glad to see you."

The king, after this pitiless attack, turned his back on the poor comte,
whose turn it was now to become pale; he advanced a few steps towards the
king, forgetting that the king is never spoken to except in reply to
questions addressed.

"I have perhaps misunderstood your majesty," he stammered out.

The king turned his head slightly, and with a cold and stern glance,
which plunged like a sword relentlessly into the hearts of those under
disgrace, repeated, "I said retire to your estates," allowing every
syllable to fall slowly one by one.

A cold perspiration bedewed the comte's face, his hands convulsively
opened, and his hat, which he held between his trembling fingers, fell to
the ground.  Louis sought his mother's glance, as though to show her that
he was master; he sought his brother's triumphant look, as if to ask him
if he were satisfied with the vengeance taken; and lastly, his eyes fell
upon Madame; but the princess was laughing and smiling with Madame de
Noailles.  She heard nothing, or rather had pretended not to hear at
all.  The Chevalier de Lorraine looked on also, with one of those looks
of fixed hostility that seemed to give to a man's glance the power of a
lever when it raises an obstacle, wrests it away, and casts it to a
distance.  M. de Guiche was left alone in the king's cabinet, the whole
of the company having departed.  Shadows seemed to dance before his
eyes.  He suddenly broke through the settled despair that overwhelmed
him, and flew to hide himself in his own room, where Raoul awaited him,
immovable in his own sad presentiments.

"Well?" he murmured, seeing his friend enter, bareheaded, with a wild
gaze and tottering gait.

"Yes, yes, it is true," said De Guiche, unable to utter more, and falling
exhausted upon the couch.

"And she?" inquired Raoul.

"She," exclaimed his unhappy friend, as he raised his hand clenched in
anger, towards Heaven.  "She! - "

"What did she say and do?"

"She said that her dress suited her admirably, and then she laughed."

A fit of hysteric laughter seemed to shatter his nerves, for he fell
backwards, completely overcome.


Chapter XXXV:
Fontainebleau.

For four days, every kind of enchantment brought together in the
magnificent gardens of Fontainebleau had converted this spot into a place
of the most perfect enjoyment.  M. Colbert seemed gifted with ubiquity.
In the morning there were the accounts of the previous night's expenses
to settle; during the day, programmes, essays, enrolments, payments.  M.
Colbert had amassed four millions of francs, and dispersed them with
sleepless economy.  He was horrified at the expenses which mythology
involved; not a wood nymph, nor a dryad, that cost less than a hundred
francs a day!  The dress alone amounted to three hundred francs.  The
expense of powder and sulphur for fireworks amounted, every night, to a
hundred thousand francs.  In addition to these, the illuminations on the
borders of the sheet of water cost thirty thousand francs every evening.
The _fetes_ had been magnificent; and Colbert could not restrain his
delight.  From time to time, he noticed Madame and the king setting forth
on hunting expeditions, or preparing for the reception of different
fantastic personages, solemn ceremonials, which had been extemporized a
fortnight before, and in which Madame's sparkling wit and the king's
magnificence were equally well displayed.

For Madame, the heroine of the _fete_, replied to the addresses of the
deputations from unknown races - Garamanths, Scythians, Hyperboreans,
Caucasians, and Patagonians, who seemed to issue from the ground for the
purpose of approaching her with their congratulations; and upon every
representative of these races the king bestowed a diamond, or some other
article of value.  Then the deputies, in verses more or less amusing,
compared the king to the sun, Madame to Phoebe, the sun's sister, and the
queen and Monsieur were no more spoken of than if the king had married

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