Make your own free website on Tripod.com

List Of Contents | Contents of Ten Years Later, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

are no wars here now, I will flee yonder to the north, seek service in
the Empire, where some Hungarian, or Croat, or Turk, will perhaps kindly
put me out of my misery."  De Guiche did not finish, or rather as he
finished, a sound made him start, and at the same moment caused Raoul to
leap to his feet.  As for De Guiche, buried in his own thoughts, he
remained seated, with his head tightly pressed between his hands.  The
branches of the tree were pushed aside, and a woman, pale and much
agitated, appeared before the two young men.  With one hand she held back
the branches, which would have struck her face, and, with the other, she
raised the hood of the mantle which covered her shoulders.  By her clear
and lustrous glance, by her lofty carriage, by her haughty attitude, and,
more than all that, by the throbbing of his own heart, De Guiche
recognized Madame, and, uttering a loud cry, he removed his hands from
his temple, and covered his eyes with them.  Raoul, trembling and out of
countenance, merely muttered a few words of respect.

"Monsieur de Bragelonne," said the princess, "have the goodness, I beg,
to see if my attendants are not somewhere yonder, either in the walks or
in the groves; and you, M. de Guiche, remain here: I am tired, and you
will perhaps give me your arm."

Had a thunderbolt fallen at the feet of the unhappy young man, he would
have been less terrified than by her cold and severe tone.  However, as
he himself had just said, he was brave; and as in the depths of his own
heart he had just decisively made up his mind, De Guiche arose, and,
observing Bragelonne's hesitation, he turned towards him a glance full of
resignation and grateful acknowledgement.  Instead of immediately
answering Madame, he even advanced a step towards the vicomte, and
holding out the arm which the princess had just desired him to give her,
he pressed his friend's hand in his own, with a sigh, in which he seemed
to give to friendship all the life that was left in the depths of his
heart.  Madame, who in her pride had never known what it was to wait, now
waited until this mute colloquy was at an end.  Her royal hand remained
suspended in the air, and, when Raoul had left, it sank without anger,
but not without emotion, in that of De Guiche.  They were alone in the
depths of the dark and silent forest, and nothing could be heard but
Raoul's hastily retreating footsteps along the obscure paths.  Over their
heads was extended the thick and fragrant vault of branches, through the
occasional openings of which the stars could be seen glittering in their
beauty.  Madame softly drew De Guiche about a hundred paces away from
that indiscreet tree which had heard, and had allowed so many things to
be heard, during the evening, and, leading him to a neighboring glade, so
that they could see a certain distance around them, she said in a
trembling voice, "I have brought you here, because yonder where you were,
everything can be overheard."

"Everything can be overheard, did you say, Madame?" replied the young
man, mechanically.

"Yes."

"Which means - " murmured De Guiche.

"Which means that I have heard every syllable you have said."

"Oh, Heaven! this only was wanting to destroy me," stammered De Guiche;
and he bent down his head, like an exhausted swimmer beneath the wave
which engulfs him.

"And so," she said, "you judge me as you have said?"  De Guiche grew
pale, turned his head aside, and was silent.  He felt almost on the point
of fainting.

"I do not complain," continued the princess, in a tone of voice full of
gentleness; "I prefer a frankness that wounds me, to flattery, which
would deceive me.  And so, according to your opinion, M. de Guiche, I am
a coquette, an a worthless creature."

"Worthless," cried the young man; "you worthless!  Oh, no; most certainly
I did not say, I could not have said, that that which was the most
precious object in life for me could be worthless.  No, no; I did not say
that."

"A woman who sees a man perish, consumed by the fire she has kindled, and
who does not allay that fire, is, in my opinion, a worthless woman."

"What can it matter to you what I said?" returned the comte.  "What am I
compared to you, and why should you even trouble yourself to know whether
I exist or not?"

"Monsieur de Guiche, both you and I are human beings, and, knowing you as
I do, I do not wish you to risk your life; with you I will change my
conduct and character.  I will be, not frank, for I am always so, but
truthful.  I implore you, therefore, to love me no more, and to forget
utterly that I have ever addressed a word or a glance towards you."

De Guiche turned around, bending a look full of passionate devotion upon
her.  "You," he said; "_you_ excuse yourself; _you_ implore me?"

"Certainly; since I have done evil, I ought to repair the evil I have
done.  And so, comte, this is what we will agree to.  You will forgive my
frivolity and my coquetry.  Nay, do not interrupt me.  I will forgive you
for having said I was frivolous and a coquette, or something worse,
perhaps; and you will renounce your idea of dying, and will preserve for
your family, for the king, and for our sex, a cavalier whom every one
esteems, and whom many hold dear."  Madame pronounced this last word in
such an accent of frankness, and even of tenderness, that poor De
Guiche's heart felt almost bursting.

"Oh!  Madame, Madame!" he stammered out.

"Nay, listen further," she continued.  "When you shall have renounced all
thought of me forever, from necessity in the first place, and, next,
because you will yield to my entreaty, then you will judge me more
favorably, and I am convinced you will replace this love - forgive the
frivolity of the expression - by a sincere friendship, which you will be
ready to offer me, and which, I promise you, shall be cordially accepted."

De Guiche, his forehead bedewed with perspiration, a feeling of death in
his heart, and a trembling agitation through his whole frame, bit his
lip, stamped his foot on the ground, and, in a word, devoured the
bitterness of his grief.  "Madame," he said, "what you offer is
impossible, and I cannot accept such conditions."

"What!" said Madame, "do you refuse my friendship, then?"

"No, no!  I do not need your friendship, Madame.  I prefer to die from
love, than to live for friendship."

"Comte!"

"Oh!  Madame," cried De Guiche, "the present is a moment for me, in which
no other consideration and no other respect exist, than the consideration
and respect of a man of honor towards the woman he worships.  Drive me
away, curse me, denounce me, you will be perfectly right.  I have uttered
complaints against you, but their bitterness has been owing to my passion
for you; I have said I wish to die, and die I will.  If I lived, you
would forget me; but dead, you would never forget me, I am sure."

Henrietta, who was standing buried in thought, and nearly as agitated as
De Guiche himself, turned aside her head as but a minute before he had
turned aside his.  Then, after a moment's pause, she said, "And you love
me, then, very much?"

"Madly; madly enough to die from it, whether you drive me from you, or
whether you listen to me still."

"It is a hopeless case," she said, in a playful manner; "a case which
must be treated with soothing application.  Give me your hand.  It is as
cold as ice."  De Guiche knelt down, and pressed to his lips, not one,
but both of Madame's hands.

"Love me, then," said the princess, "since it cannot be otherwise."  And
almost imperceptibly she pressed his fingers, raising him thus, partly in
the manner of a queen, and partly as a fond and affectionate woman would
have done.  De Guiche trembled from head to foot, and Madame, who felt
how passion coursed through every fiber of his being, knew that he indeed
loved truly.  "Give me your arm, comte," she said, "and let us return."

"Ah!  Madame," said the comte, trembling and bewildered; "you have
discovered a third way of killing me."

"But, happily, it is the slowest way, is it not?" she replied, as she led
him towards the grove of trees they had so lately quitted.


Chapter XLVI:
Aramis's Correspondence.

When De Guiche's affairs, which had been suddenly set to right without
his having been able to guess the cause of their improvement, assumed the
unexpected aspect we have seen, Raoul, in obedience to the request of the
princess, had withdrawn in order not to interrupt an explanation, the
results of which he was far from guessing; and he soon after joined the
ladies of honor who were walking about in the flower-gardens.  During
this time, the Chevalier de Lorraine, who had returned to his own room,
read De Wardes's latter with surprise, for it informed him by the hand of
his valet, of the sword-thrust received at Calais, and of all the details
of the adventure, and invited him to inform De Guiche and Monsieur,
whatever there might be in the affair likely to be most disagreeable to
both of them.  De Wardes particularly endeavored to prove to the chevalier
the violence of Madame's affection for Buckingham, and he finished his
letter by declaring that he thought this feeling was returned.  The
chevalier shrugged his shoulders at the last paragraph, and, in fact, De
Wardes was out of date, as we have seen.  De Wardes was still only at
Buckingham's affair.  The chevalier threw the letter over his shoulder
upon an adjoining table, and said in a disdainful tone, "It is really
incredible; and yet poor De Wardes is not deficient in ability; but the
truth is, it is not very apparent, so easy is it to grow rusty in the
country.  The deuce take the simpleton, who ought to have written to me
about matters of importance, and yet he writes such silly stuff as that.
If it had not been for that miserable letter, which has no meaning at all
in it, I should have detected in the grove yonder a charming little
intrigue, which would have compromised a woman, would have perhaps have
been as good as a sword-thrust for a man, and have diverted Monsieur for
many days to come."

He looked at his watch.  "It is now too late," he said.  "One o'clock in

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >



Other sites:

db3nf.com screen-capture.net floresca.net simonova.net flora-source.com flora-source.com sourcecentral.com sourcecentral.com geocities.com