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List Of Contents | Contents of Ten Years Later, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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"Who may serve as a model for an osteologist."

"Your favor will change her appearance."

"Henrietta!"

"At all events you allowed me to choose."

"Alas! yes."

"Well, my choice is made: I impose her upon you, and you must submit."

"Oh!  I would accept one of the furies, if you were to insist upon it."

"La Valliere is as gentle as a lamb: do not fear she will ever contradict
you when you tell her you love her," said Madame, laughing.

"You are not afraid, are you, that I shall say too much to her?"

"It would be for my sake."

"The treaty is agreed to, then?"

"Not only so, but signed.  You will continue to show me the friendship of
a brother, the attention of a brother, the gallantry of a monarch, will
you not?"

"I will preserve for you intact a heart that has already become
accustomed to beat only at your command."

"Very well, do you not see that we have guaranteed the future by this
means?"

"I hope so."

"Will your mother cease to regard me as an enemy?"

"Yes."

"Will Maria Theresa leave off speaking in Spanish before Monsieur, who
has a horror of conversation held in foreign languages, because he always
thinks he is being ill spoken of? and lastly," continued the princess,
"will people persist in attributing a wrongful affection to the king when
the truth is, we can offer nothing to each other, except absolute
sympathy, free from mental reservation?"

"Yes, yes," said the king, hesitatingly.  "But other things may still be
said of us."

"What can be said, sire? shall we never be left in tranquillity?"

"People will say I am deficient in taste; but what is my self-respect in
comparison with your tranquillity?"

"In comparison with my honor, sire, and that of our family, you mean.
Besides, I beg you to attend, do not be so hastily prejudiced against La
Valliere.  She is slightly lame, it is true, but she is not deficient in
good sense.  Moreover, all that the king touches is converted into gold."

"Well, Madame, rest assured of one thing, namely, that I am still
grateful to you: you might even yet make me pay dearer for your stay in
France."

"Sire, some one approaches."

"Well!"

"One last word."

"Say it."

"You are prudent and judicious, sire; but in the present instance you
will be obliged to summon to your aid all your prudence, and all your
judgment."

"Oh!" exclaimed Louis, laughing, "from this very day I shall begin to act
my part, and you shall see whether I am not quite fit to represent the
character of a tender swain.  After luncheon, there will be a promenade
in the forest, and then there is supper and the ballet at ten o'clock."

"I know it."

"The ardor of my passion shall blaze more brilliantly than the fireworks,
shall shine more steadily than our friend Colbert's lamps; it shall shine
so dazzlingly that the queens and Monsieur will be almost blinded by it."

"Take care, sire, take care."

"In Heaven's name, what have I done, then?"

"I shall begin to recall the compliments I paid you just now.  You
prudent! you wise! did I say?  Why, you begin by the most reckless
inconsistencies!  Can a passion be kindled in this manner, like a torch,
in a moment?  Can a monarch, such as you are, without any preparation,
fall at the feet of a girl like La Valliere?"

"Ah! Henrietta, now I understand you.  We have not yet begun the
campaign, and you are plundering me already."

"No, I am only recalling you to common-sense ideas.  Let your passion be
kindled gradually, instead of allowing it to burst forth so suddenly.
Jove's thunders and lightnings are heard and seen before the palace is
set on fire.  Everything has its commencements.  If you are so easily
excited, no one will believe you are really captivated, and every one
will think you out of your senses - if even, indeed, the truth itself
not be guessed.  The public is not so fatuous as they seem."

The king was obliged to admit that Madame was an angel for sense, and the
very reverse for cleverness.  He bowed, and said: "Agreed, Madame, I will
think over my plan of attack: great military men - my cousin De Conde for
instance - grow pale in meditation upon their strategical plans, before
they move one of the pawns, which people call armies; I therefore wish to
draw up a complete plan of campaign; for you know that the tender passion
is subdivided in a variety of ways.  Well, then, I shall stop at the
village of Little Attentions, at the hamlet of Love-Letters, before I
follow the road of Visible Affection; the way is clear enough, you know,
and poor Madame de Scudery would never forgive me for passing though a
halting-place without stopping."

"Oh! now we have returned to our proper senses, shall we say adieu,
sire?"

"Alas! it must be so, for see, we are interrupted."

"Yes, indeed," said Henrietta, "they are bringing Mademoiselle de Tonnay-
Charente and her sphinx butterfly in grand procession this way."

"It is perfectly well understood, that this evening, during the
promenade, I am to make my escape into the forest, and find La Valliere
without you."

"I will take care to send her away."

"Very well!  I will speak to her when she is with her companions, and I
will then discharge my first arrow at her."

"Be skillful," said Madame, laughing, "and do not miss the heart."

Then the princess took leave of the king, and went forward to meet the
merry troop, which was advancing with much ceremony, and a great many
pretended flourishes of trumpets, imitated with their mouths.


Chapter XXXIX:
The Ballet of the Seasons.

At the conclusion of the banquet, which was served at five o'clock, the
king entered his cabinet, where his tailors were awaiting him for the
purpose of trying on the celebrated costume representing Spring, which
was the result of so much imagination, and had cost so many efforts of
thought to the designers and ornament-workers of the court.  As for the
ballet itself, every person knew the part he had to take in it, and how
to perform it.  The king had resolved to make it surprise.  Hardly,
therefore, had he finished his conference, and entered his own apartment,
than he desired his two masters of the ceremonies, Villeroy and Saint-
Aignan, to be sent for.  Both replied that they only awaited his orders,
and that everything was ready to begin, but that it was necessary to be
sure of fine weather and a favorable night before these orders could be
carried out.  The king opened his window; the pale-gold hues of the
evening were visible on the horizon through the vistas of the wood, and
the moon, white as snow, was already mounting the heavens.  Not a ripple
could be noticed on the surface of the green waters; the swans
themselves, even, reposing with folded wings like ships at anchor, seemed
inspirations of the warmth of the air, the freshness of the water, and
the silence of the beautiful evening.  The king, having observed all
these things, and contemplated the magnificent picture before him, gave
the order which De Villeroy and De Saint-Aignan awaited; but with a view
of insuring the execution of this order in a royal manner, one last
question was necessary, and Louis XIV. put it to the two gentlemen in the
following manner: - "Have you any money?"

"Sire," replied Saint-Aignan, "we have arranged everything with M.
Colbert."

"Ah! very well!"

"Yes, sire, and M. Colbert said he would wait upon your majesty, as soon
as your majesty should manifest an intention of carrying out the _fetes_,
of which he has furnished the programme."

"Let him come in, then," said the king; and as if Colbert had been
listening at the door for the purpose of keeping himself _au courant_
with the conversation, he entered as soon as the king had pronounced his
name to the two courtiers.

"Ah! M. Colbert," said the king.  "Gentlemen, to your posts," whereupon
Saint-Aignan and Villeroy took their leave.  The king seated himself in
an easy-chair near the window, saying: "The ballet will take place this
evening, M. Colbert."

"In that case, sire, I will pay all accounts to-morrow."

"Why so?"

"I promised the tradespeople to pay their bills the day following that on
which the ballet should take place."

"Very well, M. Colbert, pay them, since you have promised to do so."

"Certainly, sire; but I must have money to do that."

"What! have not the four millions, which M. Fouquet promised, been sent?
I forgot to ask you about it."

"Sire, they were sent at the hour promised."

"Well?"

"Well, sire, the colored lamps, the fireworks, the musicians, and the
cooks, have swallowed up four millions in eight days."

"Entirely?"

"To the last penny.  Every time your majesty directed the banks of the
grand canal to be illuminated, as much oil was consumed as there was
water in the basins."

"Well, well, M. Colbert; the fact is, then, you have no more money?"

"I have no more, sire, but M. Fouquet has," Colbert replied, his face
darkening with a sinister expression of pleasure.

"What do you mean?" inquired Louis.

"We have already made M. Fouquet advance six millions.  He has given them
with too much grace not to have others still to give, if they are
required, which is the case at the present moment.  It is necessary,
therefore, that he should comply."

The king frowned.  "M. Colbert," said he, accentuating the financier's
name, "that is not the way I understood the matter; I do not wish to make
use, against any of my servants, of a means of pressure which may oppress
him and fetter his services.  In eight days M. Fouquet has furnished six
millions; that is a good round sum."

Colbert turned pale.  "And yet," he said, "your majesty did not use this
language some time ago, when the news about Belle-Isle arrived, for
instance."

"You are right, M. Colbert."

"Nothing, however, has changed since then; on the contrary, indeed."

"In my thoughts, monsieur, everything has changed."

"Does your majesty then no longer believe the disloyal attempt?"

"My affairs concern myself alone, monsieur; and I have already told you I
transact them without interference."

"Then, I perceive," said Colbert, trembling with anger and fear, "that I

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