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List Of Contents | Contents of Ten Years Later, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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woman."

"In the name of goodness, what story have you got hold of now?"

"Acknowledged truths, I am well aware.  But stay a moment; I am in love."

"You?"

"Yes."

"So much the better, my dear comte; tell me all about it."  And De
Guiche, afraid that Saint-Aignan might perhaps presently observe the
window, where the light was still burning, took the comte's arm and
endeavored to lead him away.

"Oh!" said the latter, resisting, "do not take me towards those dark
woods, it is too damp there.  Let us stay in the moonlight."  And while
he yielded to the pressure of De Guiche's arm, he remained in the flower-
garden adjoining the chateau.

"Well," said De Guiche, resigning himself, "lead me where you like, and
ask me what you please."

"It is impossible to be more agreeable than you are."  And then, after a
moment's silence, Saint-Aignan continued, "I wish you to tell me
something about a certain person in who you have interested yourself."

"And with whom you are in love?"

"I will neither admit nor deny it.  You understand that a man does not
very readily place his heart where there is no hope of return, and that
it is most essential he should take measures of security in advance."

"You are right," said De Guiche with a sigh; "a man's heart is a very
precious gift."

"Mine particularly is very tender, and in that light I present it to you."

"Oh! you are well known, comte.  Well?"

"It is simply a question of Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente."

"Why, my dear Saint-Aignan, you are losing your senses, I should think."

"Why so?"

"I have never shown or taken any interest in Mademoiselle de Tonnay-
Charente."

"Bah!"

"Never."

"Did you not obtain admission for Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente into
Madame's household?"

"Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente - and you ought to know it better than
any one else, my dear comte - is of a sufficiently good family to make
her presence here desirable, and her admittance very easy."

"You are jesting."

"No; and upon my honor I do not know what you mean."

"And you had nothing, then, to do with her admission?"

"No."

"You do not know her?"

"I saw her for the first time the day she was presented to Madame.
Therefore, as I have never taken any interest in her, as I do not know
her, I am not able to give you the information you require."  And De
Guiche made a movement as though he were about to leave his questioner.

"Nay, nay, one moment, my dear comte," said Saint-Aignan; "you shall not
escape me in this manner."

"Why, really, it seems to me that it is now time to return to our
apartments."

"And yet you were not going in when I - did not meet, but found you."

"Therefore, my dear comte," said De Guiche, "as long as you have anything
to say to me, I place myself entirely at your service."

"And you are quite right in doing so.  What matters half an hour more or
less?  Will you swear that you have no injurious communications to make
to me about her, and that any injurious communications you might possibly
have to make are not the cause of your silence?"

"Oh!  I believe the poor child to be as pure as crystal."

"You overwhelm me with joy.  And yet I do not wish to have towards you
the appearance of a man so badly informed as I seem.  It is quite certain
that you supplied the princess's household with the ladies of honor.
Nay, a song has even been written about it."

"Oh! songs are written about everything."

"Do you know it?"

"No: sing it to me and I shall make its acquaintance."

"I cannot tell you how it begins; I only remember how it ends."

"Very well, at all events, that is something."

"When Maids of Honor happen to run short,
Lo! - Guiche will furnish the entire Court."

"The idea is weak, and the rhyme poor," said De Guiche.

"What can you expect, my dear fellow? it is not Racine's or Moliere's,
but La Feuillade's; and a great lord cannot rhyme like a beggarly poet."

"It is very unfortunate, though, that you only remember the termination."

"Stay, stay, I have just recollected the beginning of the second couplet."

"Why, there's the birdcage, with a pretty pair,
The charming Montalais, and..."

"And La Valliere," exclaimed Guiche, impatiently, and completely ignorant
besides of Saint-Aignan's object.

"Yes, yes, you have it.  You have hit upon the word, 'La Valliere.'"

"A grand discovery indeed."

"Montalais and La Valliere, these, then, are the two young girls in whom
you interest yourself," said Saint-Aignan, laughing.

"And so Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente's name is not to be met with in
the song?"

"No, indeed."

"And are you satisfied, then?"

"Perfectly; but I find Montalais there," said Saint-Aignan, still
laughing.

"Oh! you will find her everywhere.  She is a singularly active young
lady."

"You know her?"

"Indirectly.  She was the _protegee_ of a man named Malicorne, who is a
_protegee_ of Manicamp's; Manicamp asked me to get the situation of maid
of honor for Montalais in Madame's household, and a situation for
Malicorne as an officer in Monsieur's household.  Well, I asked for the
appointments, for you know very well that I have a weakness for that
droll fellow Manicamp."

"And you obtained what you sought?"

"For Montalais, yes; for Malicorne, yes and no; for as yet he is only on
trial.  Do you wish to know anything else?"

"The last word of the couplet still remains, La Valliere," said Saint-
Aignan, resuming the smile that so tormented Guiche.

"Well," said the latter, "it is true that I obtained admission for her
in Madame's household."

"Ah!" said Saint-Aignan.

"But," continued Guiche, assuming a great coldness of manner, "you will
oblige me, comte, not to jest about that name.  Mademoiselle la Baume le
Blanc de la Valliere is a young lady perfectly well-conducted."

"Perfectly well-conducted do you say?"

"Yes."

"Then you have not heard the last rumor?" exclaimed Saint-Aignan.

"No, and you will do me a service, my dear comte, in keeping this report
to yourself and to those who circulate it."

"Ah! bah! you take the matter up very seriously."

"Yes; Mademoiselle de Valliere is beloved by one of my best friends."

Saint-Aignan started.  "Aha!" he said.

"Yes, comte," continued Guiche; "and consequently, you, the most
distinguished man in France for polished courtesy of manner, will
understand that I cannot allow my friend to be placed in a ridiculous
position."

Saint-Aignan began to bite his nails, partially from vexation, and
partially from disappointed curiosity.  Guiche made him a very profound
bow.

"You send me away," said Saint-Aignan, who was dying to know the name of
the friend.

"I do not send you away, my dear fellow.  I am going to finish my lines
to Phyllis."

"And those lines - "

"Are a _quatrain_.  You understand, I trust, that a _quatrain_ is a
serious affair?"

"Of course."

"And as, of these four lines, of which it is composed, I have yet three
and a half to make, I need my undivided attention."

"I quite understand.  Adieu! comte.  By the by - "

"What?"

"Are you quick at making verses?"

"Wonderfully so."

"Will you have quite finished the three lines and a half to-morrow
morning?"

"I _hope_ so."

"Adieu, then, until to-morrow."

"Adieu, adieu!"

Saint-Aignan was obliged to accept the notice to quit; he accordingly did
so, and disappeared behind the hedge.  Their conversation had led Guiche
and Saint-Aignan a good distance from the chateau.

Every mathematician, every poet, and every dreamer has his own subjects
of interest.  Saint-Aignan, on leaving Guiche, found himself at the
extremity of the grove, - at the very spot where the outbuildings of the
servants begin, and where, behind the thickets of acacias and chestnut-
trees interlacing their branches, which were hidden by masses of clematis
and young vines, the wall which separated the woods from the courtyard
was erected.  Saint-Aignan, alone, took the path which led towards these
buildings; De Guiche going off in the opposite direction.  The one
proceeded to the flower-garden, while the other bent his steps towards
the walls.  Saint-Aignan walked on between rows of mountain-ash, lilac,
and hawthorn, which formed an almost impenetrable roof above his head;
his feet were buried in the soft gravel and thick moss.  He was
deliberating a means of taking his revenge, which seemed difficult for
him to carry out, and was vexed with himself for not having learned more
about La Valliere, notwithstanding the ingenious measures he had resorted
to in order to acquire more information about her, when suddenly the
murmur of a human voice attracted his attention.  He heard whispers, the
complaining tones of a woman's voice mingled with entreaties, smothered
laughter, sighs, and half-stilted exclamations of surprise; but above
them all, the woman's voice prevailed.  Saint-Aignan stopped to look
about him; he perceived from the greatest surprise that the voices
proceeded, not from the ground, but from the branches of the trees.  As
he glided along under the covered walk, he raised his head, and observed
at the top of the wall a woman perched upon a ladder, in eager
conversation with a man seated on a branch of a chestnut-tree, whose head
alone could be seen, the rest of his body being concealed in the thick
covert of the chestnut. (5)


Chapter XLIX:
The Labyrinth.

Saint-Aignan, who had only been seeking for information, had met with an
adventure.  This was indeed a piece of good luck.  Curious to learn why,
and particularly what about, this man and woman were conversing at such
an hour, and in such a singular position, Saint-Aignan made himself as
small as he possibly could, and approached almost under the rounds of the
ladder.  And taking measures to make himself as comfortable as possible,
he leaned his back against a tree and listened, and heard the following
conversation.  The woman was the first to speak.

"Really, Monsieur Manicamp," she said, in a voice which, notwithstanding
the reproaches she addressed to him, preserved a marked tone of coquetry,

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