Make your own free website on Tripod.com

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

"For your grace," said the lackey in a low tone, handing Aramis a
letter.  And as the lackey carried a torch in his hand, he placed himself
between the superintendent and the bishop of Vannes, so that both of them
could read at the same time.  As Fouquet looked at the fine and delicate
writing on the envelope, he started with delight.  Those who love, or who
are beloved, will understand his anxiety in the first place, and his
happiness in the next.  He hastily tore open the letter, which, however,
contained only these words: "It is but an hour since I quitted you, it is
an age since I told you how much I love you."  And that was all.  Madame
de Belliere had, in fact, left Fouquet about an hour previously, after
having passed two days with him; and apprehensive lest his remembrance of
her might be effaced for too long a period from the heart she regretted,
she dispatched a courier to him as the bearer of this important
communication.  Fouquet kissed the letter, and rewarded the bearer with a
handful of gold.  As for Aramis, he, on his side, was engaged in reading,
but with more coolness and reflection, the following letter:

"The king has this evening been struck with a strange fancy; a woman
loves him.  He learned it accidentally, as he was listening to the
conversation of this young girl with her companions; and his majesty has
entirely abandoned himself to his new caprice.  The girl's name is
Mademoiselle de la Valliere, and she is sufficiently pretty to warrant
this caprice becoming a strong attachment.  Beware of Mademoiselle de la
Valliere."

There was not a word about Madame.  Aramis slowly folded the letter and
put it in his pocket.  Fouquet was still delightedly inhaling the perfume
of his epistle.

"Monseigneur," said Aramis, touching Fouquet's arm.

"Yes, what is it?" he asked.

"An idea has just occurred to me.  Are you acquainted with a young girl
of the name of La Valliere?

"Not at all."

"Reflect a little."

"Ah! yes, I believe so; one of Madame's maids of honor."

"That must be the one."

"Well, what then?"

"Well, monseigneur, it is to that young girl that you must pay your visit
this evening."

"Bah! why so?"

"Nay, more than that, it is to her you must present your cameos."

"Nonsense."

"You know, monseigneur, that my advice is not to be regarded lightly."

"But this is unforeseen - "

"That is my affair.  Pay your court in due form, and without loss of
time, to Mademoiselle de la Valliere.  I will be your guarantee with
Madame de Belliere that your devotion is altogether politic."

"What do you mean, my dear D'Herblay, and whose name have you just
pronounced?"

"A name which ought to convince you that, as I am so well informed about
yourself, I may possibly be just as well informed about others.  Pay your
court, therefore, to La Valliere."

"I will pay my court to whomsoever you like," replied Fouquet, his heart
filled with happiness.

"Come, come, descend again to the earth, traveler in the seventh heaven,"
said Aramis; "M. Colbert is approaching.  He has been recruiting while we
were reading; see, how he is surrounded, praised, congratulated; he is
decidedly becoming powerful."  In fact, Colbert was advancing, escorted
by all the courtiers who remained in the gardens, every one of whom
complimented him upon the arrangements of the _fete_: all of which so
puffed him up that he could hardly contain himself.

"If La Fontaine were here," said Fouquet, smiling, "what an admirable
opportunity for him to recite his fable of 'The Frog that wanted to make
itself as big as the Ox.'"

Colbert arrived in the center of the circle blazing with light; Fouquet
awaited his approach, unmoved and with a slightly mocking smile.  Colbert
smiled too; he had been observing his enemy during the last quarter of an
hour, and had been approaching him gradually.  Colbert's smile was a
presage of hostility.

"Oh, oh!" said Aramis, in a low tone of voice to the superintendent; "the
scoundrel is going to ask you again for more millions to pay for his
fireworks and his colored lamps."  Colbert was the first to salute them,
and with an air which he endeavored to render respectful.  Fouquet hardly
moved his head.

"Well, monseigneur, what do your eyes say?  Have we shown our good taste?"

"Perfect taste," replied Fouquet, without permitting the slightest tone
of raillery to be remarked in his words.

"Oh!" said Colbert, maliciously, "you are treating us with indulgence.
We are poor, we servants of the king, and Fontainebleau is no way to be
compared as a residence with Vaux."

"Quite true," replied Fouquet coolly.

"But what can we do, monseigneur?" continued Colbert, "we have done our
best on slender resources."

Fouquet made a gesture of assent.

"But," pursued Colbert, "it would be only a proper display of your
magnificence, monseigneur, if you were to offer to his majesty a _fete_
in your wonderful gardens - in those gardens which have cost you sixty
millions of francs."

"Seventy-two," said Fouquet.

"An additional reason," returned Colbert; "it would, indeed, be truly
magnificent."

"But do you suppose, monsieur, that his majesty would deign to accept my
invitation?"

"I have no doubt whatever of it," cried Colbert, hastily; "I will
guarantee that he does."

"You are exceedingly kind," said Fouquet.  "I may depend on it, then?"

"Yes, monseigneur; yes, certainly."

"Then I will consider the matter," yawned Fouquet.

"Accept, accept," whispered Aramis, eagerly.

"You will consider?" repeated Colbert.

"Yes," replied Fouquet; "in order to know what day I shall submit my
invitation to the king."

"This very evening, monseigneur, this very evening."

"Agreed," said the superintendent.  "Gentlemen, I should wish to issue my
invitations; but you know that wherever the king goes, the king is in his
own palace; it is by his majesty, therefore, that you must be invited."
A murmur of delight immediately arose.  Fouquet bowed and left.

"Proud and dauntless man," thought Colbert, "you accept, and yet you know
it will cost you ten millions."

"You have ruined me," whispered Fouquet, in a low tone, to Aramis.

"I have saved you," replied the latter, whilst Fouquet ascended the
flight of steps and inquired whether the king was still visible.


Chapter XLVII:
The Orderly Clerk.

The king, anxious to be again quite alone, in order to reflect well upon
what was passing in his heart, had withdrawn to his own apartments, where
M. de Saint-Aignan had, after his conversation with Madame, gone to meet
him.  This conversation has already been related.  The favorite, vain of
his twofold importance, and feeling that he had become, during the last
two hours, the confidant of the king, began to treat the affairs of the
court in a somewhat indifferent manner: and, from the position in which
he had placed himself, or rather, where chance had placed him, he saw
nothing but love and garlands of flowers around him.  The king's love for
Madame, that of Madame for the king, that of Guiche for Madame, that of
La Valliere for the king, that of Malicorne for Montalais, that of
Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente for himself, was not all this, truly,
more than enough to turn the head of any courtier?  Besides, Saint-Aignan
was the model of courtiers, past, present, and to come; and, moreover,
showed himself such an excellent narrator, and so discerningly
appreciative that the king listened to him with an appearance of great
interest, particularly when he described the excited manner with which
Madame had sought for him to converse about the affair of Mademoiselle de
la Valliere.  While the king no longer experienced for Madame any remains
of the passion he had once felt for her, there was, in this same
eagerness of Madame to procure information about him, great gratification
for his vanity, from which he could not free himself.  He experienced
this pleasure then, but nothing more, and his heart was not, for a single
moment, alarmed at what Madame might, or might not, think of his
adventure.  When, however, Saint-Aignan had finished, the king, while
preparing to retire to rest, asked, "Now, Saint-Aignan, you know what
Mademoiselle de la Valliere is, do you not?"

"Not only what she is, but what she will be."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean that she is everything that woman can wish to be - that is to
say, beloved by your majesty; I mean, that she will be everything your
majesty may wish her to be."

"That is not what I am asking.  I do not wish to know what she is to-day,
or what she will be to-morrow; as you have remarked, that is my affair.
But tell me what others say of her."

"They say she is well conducted."

"Oh!" said the king, smiling, "that is mere report."

"But rare enough, at court, sire, to believe when it is spread."

"Perhaps you are right.  Is she well born?"

"Excellently; the daughter of the Marquis de la Valliere, and step-
daughter of that good M. de Saint-Remy."

"Ah, yes! my aunt's major-domo; I remember; and I remember now that I saw
her as I passed through Blois.  She was presented to the queens.  I have
even to reproach myself that I did not on that occasion pay her the
attention she deserved."

"Oh, sire!  I trust that your majesty will now repair time lost."

"And the report - you tell me - is, that Mademoiselle de la Valliere
never had a lover."

"In any case, I do not think your majesty would be much alarmed at the
rivalry."

"Yet, stay," said the king, in a very serious tone of voice.

"Your majesty?"

"I remember."

"Ah!"

"If she has no lover, she has, at least, a betrothed."

"A betrothed!"

"What!  Count, do you not know that?"

"No."

"You, the man who knows all the news?"

"Your majesty will excuse me.  You know this betrothed, then?"

"Assuredly! his father came to ask me to sign the marriage contract: it
is - "  The king was about to pronounce the Vicomte de Bragelonne's name,
when he stopped, and knitted his brows.

"It is - " repeated Saint-Aignan, inquiringly.

"I don't remember now," replied Louis XIV., endeavoring to conceal an

< < 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