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List Of Contents | Contents of Ten Years Later, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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"She was so."

"What do you mean?"

"When they went to ask the king's permission to arrange the marriage, he
refused his permission."

"Refused?"

"Yes, although the request was preferred by the Comte de la Fere himself,
for whom the king has the greatest regard, on account of the part he took
in your royal brother's restoration, and in other events, also, which
happened a long time ago."

"Well! the poor lovers must wait until the king is pleased to change his
opinion; they are young, and there is time enough."

"But, dear me," said Philip, laughing, "I perceive you do not know the
best part of the affair."

"No!"

"That by which the king was most deeply touched."

"The king, do you say, has been deeply touched?"

"To the very quick of his heart."

"But how? - in what manner? - tell me directly."

"By an adventure, the romance of which cannot be equalled."

"You know how I love to hear of such adventures, and yet you keep me
waiting," said the princess, impatiently.

"Well, then - " and Monsieur paused.

"I am listening."

"Under the royal oak - you know where the royal oak is?"

"What can that matter?  Under the royal oak, you were saying?"

"Well! Mademoiselle de la Valliere, fancying herself to be alone with her
two friends, revealed to them her affection for the king."

"Ah!" said Madame, beginning to be uneasy, "her affection for the king?"

"Yes."

"When was this?"

"About an hour ago."

Madame started, and then said, "And no one knew of this affection?"

"No one."

"Not even his majesty?"

"Not even his majesty.  The artful little puss kept her secret strictly
to herself, when suddenly it proved stronger than herself, and so escaped
her."

"And from whom did you get this absurd tale?"

"Why, as everybody else did, from La Valliere herself, who confessed her
love to Montalais and Tonnay-Charente, who were her companions."

Madame stopped suddenly, and by a hasty movement let go her husband's
hand.

"Did you say it was an hour ago she made this confession?" Madame
inquired.

"About that time."

"Is the king aware of it?"

"Why, that is the very thing which constitutes the perfect romance of the
affair, for the king was behind the royal oak with Saint-Aignan, and
heard the whole of the interesting conversation without losing a single
word of it."

Madame felt struck to the heart, saying incautiously, "But I have seen
the king since, and he never told me a word about it."

"Of course," said Monsieur; "he took care not to speak of it to you
himself, since he recommended every one not to say a word about it."

"What do you mean?" said Madame, growing angry.

"I mean that they wished to keep you in ignorance of the affair
altogether."

"But why should they wish to conceal it from me?"

"From the fear that your friendship for the young queen might induce you
to say something about it to her, nothing more."

Madame hung down her head; her feelings were grievously wounded.  She
could not enjoy a moment's repose until she had met the king.  As a king
is, most naturally, the very last person in his kingdom who knows what is
said about him, in the same way that a lover is the only one who is kept
in ignorance of what is said about his mistress, therefore, when the king
perceived Madame, who was looking for him, he approached her in some
perturbation, but still gracious and attentive in his manner.  Madame
waited for him to speak about La Valliere first; but as he did not speak
of her, she said, "And the poor girl?"

"What poor girl?" said the king.

"La Valliere.  Did you not tell me, sire, that she had fainted?"

"She is still very ill," said the king, affecting the greatest
indifference.

"But surely that will prejudicially affect the rumor you were going to
spread, sire?"

"What rumor?"

"That your attention was taken up by her."

"Oh!" said the king, carelessly, "I trust it will be reported all the
same."

Madame still waited; she wished to know if the king would speak to her of
the adventure of the royal oak.  But the king did not say a word about
it.  Madame, on her side, did not open her lips about it; so that the
king took leave of her without having reposed the slightest confidence in
her.  Hardly had she watched the king move away, than she set out in
search of Saint-Aignan.  Saint-Aignan was never very difficult to find;
he was like the smaller vessels that always follow in the wake of, and as
tenders to, the larger ships.  Saint-Aignan was the very man whom Madame
needed in her then state of mind.  And as for him, he only looked for
worthier ears than others he had found to have an opportunity of
recounting the event in all its details.  And so he did not spare Madame
a single word of the whole affair.  When he had finished, Madame said to
him, "Confess, now, that is his all a charming invention."

"Invention, no; a true story, yes."

"Confess, whether invention or true story, that it was told to you as you
have told it to me, but that you were not there."

"Upon my honor, Madame, I was there."

"And you think that these confessions may have made an impression on the
king?"

"Certainly, as those of Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente did upon me,"
replied Saint-Aignan; "do not forget, Madame, that Mademoiselle de la
Valliere compared the king to the sun; that was flattering enough."

"The king does not permit himself to be influenced by such flatteries."

"Madame, the king is just as much Adonis as Apollo; and I saw plain
enough just now when La Valliere fell into his arms."

"La Valliere fell into the king's arms!"

"Oh! it was the most graceful picture possible; just imagine, La Valliere
had fallen back fainting, and - "

"Well! what did you see? - tell me - speak!"

"I saw what ten other people saw at the same time as myself; I saw that
when La Valliere fell into his arms, the king almost fainted himself."

Madame smothered a subdued cry, the only indication of her smothered
anger.

"Thank you," she said, laughing in a convulsive manner, "you relate
stories delightfully, M. de Saint-Aignan."  And she hurried away, alone,
and almost suffocated by painful emotion, towards the chateau.


Chapter XLIV:
Courses de Nuit.

Monsieur quitted the princess in the best possible humor, and feeling
greatly fatigued, retired to his apartments, leaving every one to finish
the night as he chose.  When in his room, Monsieur began to dress for the
night with careful attention, which displayed itself from time to time in
paroxysms of satisfaction.  While his attendants were engaged in curling
his hair, he sang the principal airs of the ballet which the violins had
played, and to which the king had danced.  He then summoned his tailors,
inspected his costumes for the next day, and, in token of his extreme
satisfaction, distributed various presents among them.  As, however, the
Chevalier de Lorraine, who had seen the prince return to the chateau,
entered the room, Monsieur overwhelmed him with kindness.  The former,
after having saluted the prince, remained silent for a moment, like a
sharpshooter who deliberates before deciding in what direction he will
renew his fire; then, seeming to make up his mind, he said, "Have you
remarked a very singular coincidence, monseigneur?"

"No; what is it?"

"The bad reception which his majesty, in appearance, gave the Comte de
Guiche."

"In appearance?"

"Yes, certainly; since, in reality, he has restored him to favor."

"I did not notice it," said the prince.

"What, did you not remark, that, instead of ordering him to go away again
into exile, as was natural, he encouraged him in his opposition by
permitting him to resume his place in the ballet?"

"And you think the king was wrong, chevalier?" said the prince.

"Are you not of my opinion, prince?"

"Not altogether so, my dear chevalier; and I think the king was quite
right not to have made a disturbance against a poor fellow whose want of
judgment is more to be complained of than his intention."

"Really," said the chevalier, "as far as I am concerned, I confess that
this magnanimity astonishes me to the highest degree."

"Why so?" inquired Philip.

"Because I should have thought the king had been more jealous," replied
the chevalier, spitefully.  During the last few minutes Monsieur had felt
there was something of an irritating nature concealed under his
favorite's remarks; this last word, however, ignited the powder.

"Jealous!" exclaimed the prince.  "Jealous! what do you mean?  Jealous of
what, if you please - or jealous of whom?"

The chevalier perceived that he had allowed an excessively mischievous
remark to escape him, as he was in the habit of doing.  He endeavored,
therefore, apparently to recall it while it was still possible to do so.
"Jealous of his authority," he said, with an assumed frankness; "of what
else would you have the king jealous?"

"Ah!" said the prince, "that's very proper."

"Did your royal highness," continued the chevalier, "solicit dear De
Guiche's pardon?"

"No, indeed," said Monsieur.  "De Guiche is an excellent fellow, and full
of courage; but as I do not approve of his conduct with Madame, I wish
him neither harm nor good."

The chevalier had assumed a bitterness with regard to De Guiche, as he
had attempted to do with regard to the king; but he thought he perceived
that the time for indulgence, and even for the utmost indifference, had
arrived, and that, in order to throw some light on the question, it might
be necessary for him to put the lamp, as the saying is, beneath the
husband's very nose.

"Very well, very well," said the chevalier to himself, "I must wait for
De Wardes; he will do more in one day than I in a month; for I verily
believe he is even more envious than I.  Then, again, it is not De Wardes
I require so much as that some event or another should happen; and in the
whole of this affair I see none.  That De Guiche returned after he had
been sent away is certainly serious enough, but all its seriousness
disappears when I learn that De Guiche has returned at the very moment

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