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List Of Contents | Contents of Ten Years Later, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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single syllable you uttered, but did you think what you were saying?"

Louise became confused.  "What," she exclaimed, "more questions still!
Oh, heavens! when I would give the world to forget what I did say, how
does it happen that every one does all he possibly can to remind me of
it?  Oh, this is indeed terrible!"

"What is?"

"To have a friend who ought to spare me, who might advise me and help me
to save myself, and yet who is undoing me - is killing me."

"There, there, that will do," said Montalais; "after having said too
little, you now say too much.  No one thinks of killing you, nor even of
robbing you, even of your secret; I wish to have it voluntarily, and in
no other way; for the question does not concern your own affairs only,
but ours also; and Tonnay-Charente would tell you as I do, if she were
here.  For, the fact is, that last evening she wished to have some
private conversation in our room, and I was going there after the
Manicamp and Malicorne colloquies terminated, when I learned, on my
return, rather late, it is true, that Madame had sequestered her maids of
honor, and that we were to sleep in her apartments, instead of our own.
Moreover, Madame has shut up her maids of honor in order that they should
not have the time to concert any measures together, and this morning she
was closeted with Tonnay-Charente with the same object.  Tell me, then,
to what extent Athenais and I can rely upon you, as we will tell you in
what way you can rely upon us?"

"I do not clearly understand the question you have put," said Louise,
much agitated.

"Hum! and yet, on the contrary, you seem to understand me very well.
However, I will put my questions in a more precise manner, in order that
you may not be able, in the slightest degree, to evade them.  Listen to
me: _Do you love M. de Bragelonne?_  That is plain enough, is it not?"

At this question, which fell like the first bombshell of a besieging army
into a doomed town, Louise started.  "You ask me," she exclaimed, "if I
love Raoul, the friend of my childhood, - my brother almost?"

"No, no, no!  Again you evade me, or rather, you wish to escape me.  I do
not ask if you love Raoul, your childhood's friend, - your brother; but I
ask if you love the Vicomte de Bragelonne, your affianced husband?"

"Good heavens! dear Montalais," said Louise, "how severe your tone is!"

"You deserve no indulgence, - I am neither more nor less severe than
usual.  I put a question to you, so answer it."

"You certainly do not," said Louise, in a choking voice, "speak to me
like a friend; but I will answer you as a true friend."

"Well, do so."

"Very well; my heart is full of scruples and silly feelings of pride,
with respect to everything that a woman ought to keep secret, and in
this respect no one has ever read into the bottom of my soul."

"That I know very well.  If I had read it, I should not interrogate you
as I have done; I should simply say, - 'My good Louise, you have the
happiness of an acquaintance with M. de Bragelonne, who is an excellent
young man, and an advantageous match for a girl without fortune.  M. de
la Fere will leave something like fifteen thousand livres a year to his
son.  At a future day, then, you, as this son's wife, will have fifteen
thousand livres a year; which is not bad.  Turn, then, neither to the
right hand nor to the left, but go frankly to M. de Bragelonne; that is
to say, to the altar to which he will lead you.  Afterwards, why 
afterwards, according to his disposition, you will be emancipated or
enslaved; in other words, you will have a right to commit any piece of
folly people commit who have either too much liberty or too little.'
That is, my dear Louise, what I should have told you at first, if I had
been able to read your heart."

"And I should have thanked you," stammered out Louise, "although the
advice does not appear to me to be altogether sound."

"Wait, wait.  But immediately after having given you that advice, I
should have added, - 'Louise, it is very dangerous to pass whole days
with your head drooping, your hands unoccupied, your eyes restless and
full of thought; it is dangerous to prefer the least frequented paths,
and no longer be amused with such diversions as gladden young girls'
hearts; it is dangerous, Louise, to scrawl with the point of your foot,
as you do, upon the gravel, certain letters it is useless for you to
efface, but which appear again under your heel, particularly when those
letters rather resemble the letter L than the letter B; and, lastly, it
is dangerous to allow the mind to dwell on a thousand wild fancies, the
fruits of solitude and heartache; these fancies, while they sink into a
young girl's mind, make her cheeks sink in also, so that it is not
unusual, on such occasions, to find the most delightful persons in the
world become the most disagreeable, and the wittiest to become the
dullest.'"

"I thank you, dearest Aure," replied La Valliere, gently; "it is like you
to speak to me in this manner, and I thank you for it."

"It was only for the benefit of wild dreamers, such as I have just
described, that I spoke; do not take any of my words, then, to yourself,
except such as you think you deserve.  Stay, I hardly know what story
recurs to my memory of some silly or melancholy girl, who was gradually
pining away because she fancied that the prince, or the king, or the
emperor, whoever it was - and it does not matter much which - had fallen
in love with her; while on the contrary, the prince, or the king, or the
emperor, whichever you please, was plainly in love with some one else,
and - a singular circumstance, one, indeed, which she could not perceive,
although every one around and about her perceived it clearly enough 
made use of her as a screen for his own love affair.  You laugh as I do,
at this poor silly girl, do you not, Louise?"

"I? - oh! of course," stammered Louise, pale as death.

"And you are right, too, for the thing is amusing enough.  The story,
whether true or false, amused me, and so I remembered it and told it to
you.  Just imagine then, my good Louise, the mischief that such a
melancholy would create in anybody's brain, - a melancholy, I mean, of
that kind.  For my own part, I resolved to tell you the story; for if
such a thing were to happen to either of _us_, it would be most essential
to be assured of its truth; to-day it is a snare, to-morrow it would
become a jest and mockery, the next day it would mean death itself."  La
Valliere started again, and became, if possible, still paler.

"Whenever a king takes notice of us," continued Montalais, "he lets us
see it easily enough, and, if we happen to be the object he covets, he
knows very well how to gain his object.  You see, then, Louise, that, in
such circumstances, between young girls exposed to such a danger as the
one in question, the most perfect confidence should exist, in order that
those hearts which are not disposed towards melancholy may watch over
those likely to become so."

"Silence, silence!" said La Valliere; "some one approaches."

"Some one is approaching fast, in fact," said Montalais; "but who can it
possibly be?  Everybody is away, either at mass with the king, or bathing
with Monsieur."

At the end of the walk the young girls perceived almost immediately,
beneath the arching trees, the graceful carriage and noble stature of a
young man, who, with his sword under his arm and a cloak thrown across
his shoulders, booted and spurred besides, saluted them from the distance
with a gentle smile.  "Raoul!" exclaimed Montalais.

"M. de Bragelonne!" murmured Louise.

"A very proper judge to decide upon our difference of opinion," said
Montalais.

"Oh!  Montalais, Montalais, for pity's sake," exclaimed La Valliere,
"after having been so cruel, show me a little mercy."  These words,
uttered with all the fervor of a prayer, effaced all trace of irony, if
not from Montalais's heart, at least from her face.

"Why, you are as handsome as Amadis, Monsieur de Bragelonne," she cried
to Raoul, "and armed and booted like him."

"A thousand compliments, young ladies," replied Raoul, bowing.

"But why, I ask, are you booted in this manner?" repeated Montalais,
whilst La Valliere, although she looked at Raoul with a surprise equal to
that of her companion, nevertheless uttered not a word.

"Why?" inquired Raoul.

"Yes!" ventured Louise.

"Because I am about to set off," said Bragelonne, looking at Louise.

The young girl seemed as though smitten by some superstitious feeling of
terror, and tottered.  "You are going away, Raoul!" she cried; "and where
are you going?"

"Dearest Louise," he replied, with that quiet, composed manner which was
natural to him, "I am going to England."

"What are you going to do in England?"

"The king has sent me there."

"The king!" exclaimed Louise and Aure together, involuntarily exchanging
glances, the conversation which had just been interrupted recurring to
them both.  Raoul intercepted the glance, but could not understand its
meaning, and, naturally enough, attributed it to the interest both the
young girls took in him.

"His majesty," he said, "has been good enough to remember that the Comte
de la Fere is high in favor with King Charles II.  This morning, as he
was on his way to attend mass, the king, seeing me as he passed, signed
to me to approach, which I accordingly did.  'Monsieur de Bragelonne,' he
said to me, 'you will call upon M. Fouquet, who has received from me
letters for the king of Great Britain; you will be the bearer of them.'
I bowed.  'Ah!' his majesty added, 'before you leave, you will be good
enough to take any commissions which Madame may have for the king her
brother.'"

"Gracious heaven!" murmured Louise, much agitated, and yet full of
thought at the same time.

"So quickly!  You are desired to set off in such haste!" said Montalais,
almost paralyzed by this unforeseen event.

"Properly to obey those whom we respect," said Raoul, "it is necessary to
obey quickly.  Within ten minutes after I had received the order, I was

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