Make your own free website on Tripod.com

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

excellent one to match yours, particularly if yours ends in _ame_."

De Guiche shook his head, and recognizing a friend, he took him by the
arm.  "My dear Manicamp," he said, "I am in search of something very
different from a rhyme."

"What is it you are looking for?"

"You will help me to find what I am in search of," continued the comte:
"you who are such an idle fellow, in other words, a man with a mind full
of ingenious devices."

"I am getting my ingenuity ready, then, my dear comte."

"This is the state of the case, then: I wish to approach a particular
house, where I have some business."

"You must get near the house, then," said Manicamp.

"Very good; but in this house dwells a husband who happens to be jealous."

"Is he more jealous than the dog Cerberus?"

"Not more, but quite as much so."

"Has he three mouths, as that obdurate guardian of the infernal regions
had?  Do not shrug your shoulders, my dear comte: I put the question to
you with an excellent reason, since poets pretend that, in order to
soften Monsieur Cerberus, the visitor must take something enticing with
him - a cake, for instance.  Therefore, I, who view the matter in a
prosaic light, that is to say in the light of reality, I say: one cake is
very little for three mouths.  If your jealous husband has three mouths,
comte, get three cakes."

"Manicamp, I can get such advice as that from M. de Beautru."

"In order to get better advice," said Manicamp, with a comical
seriousness of expression, "you will be obliged to adopt a more precise
formula than you have used towards me."

"If Raoul were here," said De Guiche, "he would be sure to understand me."

"So I think, particularly if you said to him: 'I should very much like to
see Madame a little nearer, but I fear Monsieur, because he is jealous.'"

"Manicamp!" cried the comte, angrily, and endeavoring to overwhelm his
tormentor by a look, who did not, however, appear to be in the slightest
degree disturbed by it.

"What is the matter now, my dear comte?" inquired Manicamp.

"What! is it thus you blaspheme the most sacred of names?"

"What names?"

"Monsieur!  Madame! the highest names in the kingdom."

"You are very strangely mistaken, my dear comte.  I never mentioned the
highest names in the kingdom.  I merely answered you in reference to the
subject of a jealous husband, whose name you did not tell me, and who, as
a matter of course, has a wife.  I therefore replied to you, in order to
see Madame, you must get a little more intimate with Monsieur."

"Double-dealer that you are," said the comte, smiling; "was that what you
said?"

"Nothing else."

"Very good; what then?"

"Now," added Manicamp, "let the question be regarding the Duchess - or
the Duke -; very well, I shall say: Let us get into the house in some way
or other, for that is a tactic which cannot in any case be unfavorable to
your love affair."

"Ah!  Manicamp, if you could but find me a pretext, a good pretext."

"A pretext; I can find you a hundred, nay, a thousand.  If Malicorne were
here, he would have already hit upon a thousand excellent pretexts."

"Who is Malicorne?" replied De Guiche, half-shutting his eyes, like a
person reflecting, "I seem to know the name."

"Know him!  I should think so: you owe his father thirty thousand crowns."

"Ah, indeed! so it's that worthy fellow from Orleans."

"Whom you promised an appointment in Monsieur's household; not the
jealous husband, but the other."

"Well, then, since your friend Malicorne is such an inventive genius, let
him find me a means of being adored by Monsieur, and a pretext to make my
peace with him."

"Very good: I'll talk to him about it."

"But who is that coming?"

"The Vicomte de Bragelonne."

"Raoul! yes, it is he," said De Guiche, as he hastened forward to meet
him.  "You here, Raoul?" said De Guiche.

"Yes: I was looking for you to say farewell," replied Raoul, warmly,
pressing the comte's hand.  "How do you do, Monsieur Manicamp?"

"How is this, vicomte, you are leaving us?"

"Yes, a mission from the king."

"Where are you going?"

"To London.  On leaving you, I am going to Madame; she has a letter to
give me for his majesty, Charles II."


"You will find her alone, for Monsieur has gone out; gone to bathe, in
fact."

"In that case, you, who are one of Monsieur's gentlemen in waiting, will
undertake to make my excuses to him.  I would have waited in order to
receive any directions he might have to give me, if the desire for my
immediate departure had not been intimated to me by M. Fouquet on behalf
of his majesty."

Manicamp touched De Guiche's elbow, saying, "There's a pretext for you."

"What?"

"M. de Bragelonne's excuses."

"A weak pretext," said De Guiche.

"An excellent one, if Monsieur is not angry with you; but a paltry one if
he bears you ill-will."

"You are right, Manicamp; a pretext, however poor it may be, is all I
require.  And so, a pleasant journey to you, Raoul!"  And the two friends
took a warm leave of each other.

Five minutes afterwards Raoul entered Madame's apartments, as
Mademoiselle de Montalais had begged him to do.  Madame was still seated
at the table where she had written her letter.  Before her was still
burning the rose-colored taper she had used to seal it.  Only in her deep
reflection, for Madame seemed to be buried in thought, she had forgotten
to extinguish the light.  Bragelonne was a very model of elegance in
every way; it was impossible to see him once without always remembering
him; and not only had Madame seen him once, but it will not be forgotten
he was one of the very first who had gone to meet her, and had
accompanied her from Le Havre to Paris.  Madame preserved therefore an
excellent recollection of him.

"Ah!  M. de Bragelonne," she said to him, "you are going to see my
brother, who will be delighted to pay to the son a portion of the debt of
gratitude he contracted with the father."

"The Comte de la Fere, Madame, has been abundantly recompensed for the
little service he had the happiness to render the king, by the kindness
manifested towards him, and it is I who will have to convey to his
majesty the assurance of the respect, devotion, and gratitude of both
father and son."

"Do you know my brother?"

"No, your highness; I shall have the honor of seeing his majesty for the
first time."

"You require no recommendation to him.  At all events, however, if you
have any doubt about your personal merit, take me unhesitatingly for your
surety."

"Your royal highness overwhelms me with kindness."

"No!  M. de Bragelonne, I well remember that we were fellow-travelers
once, and that I remarked your extreme prudence in the midst of the
extravagant absurdities committed, on both sides, by two of the greatest
simpletons in the world, - M. de Guiche and the Duke of Buckingham.  Let
us not speak of them, however; but of yourself.  Are you going to England
to remain there permanently?  Forgive my inquiry: it is not curiosity,
but a desire to be of service to you in anything I can."

"No, Madame; I am going to England to fulfil a mission which his majesty
has been kind enough to confide to me - nothing more."

"And you propose to return to France?"

"As soon as I have accomplished my mission; unless, indeed, his majesty,
King Charles II., should have other orders for me."

"He well beg you, at the very least, I am sure, to remain near him as
long as possible."

"In that case, as I shall not know how to refuse, I will now beforehand
entreat your royal highness to have the goodness to remind the king of
France that one of his devoted servants is far away from him."

"Take care that when you _are_ recalled, you do not consider his command
an abuse of power."

"I do not understand you, Madame."

"The court of France is not easily matched, I am aware, but yet we have
some pretty women at the court of England also."

Raoul smiled.

"Oh!" said Madame, "yours is a smile which portends no good to my
countrywomen.  It is as though you were telling them, Monsieur de
Bragelonne: 'I visit you, but I leave my heart on the other side of the
Channel.'  Did not your smile indicate that?"

"Your highness is gifted with the power of reading the inmost depths of
the soul, and you will understand, therefore, why, at present, any
prolonged residence at the court of England would be a matter of the
deepest regret."

"And I need not inquire if so gallant a knight is recompensed in return?"

"I have been brought up, Madame, with her whom I love, and I believe our
affection is mutual."

"In that case, do not delay your departure, Monsieur de Bragelonne, and
delay not your return, for on your return we shall see two persons happy;
for I hope no obstacle exists to your felicity."

"There is a great obstacle, Madame."

"Indeed! what is it?"

"The king's wishes on the subject."

"The king opposes your marriage?"

"He postpones it, at least.  I solicited his majesty's consent through
the Comte de la Fere, and, without absolutely refusing it, he positively
said it must be deferred."

"Is the young lady whom you love unworthy of you, then?"

"She is worthy of a king's affection, Madame."

"I mean, she is not, perhaps, of birth equal to your own."

"Her family is excellent."

"Is she young, beautiful?"

"She is seventeen, and, in my opinion, exceedingly beautiful."

"Is she in the country, or at Paris?"

"She is here at Fontainebleau, Madame."

"At the court?"

"Yes."

"Do I know her?"

"She has the honor to form one of your highness's household."

"Her name?" inquired the princess, anxiously; "if indeed," she added,
hastily, "her name is not a secret."

"No, Madame, my affection is too pure for me to make a secret of it to
any one, and with still greater reason to your royal highness, whose
kindness towards me has been so extreme.  It is Mademoiselle Louise de la
Valliere."

Madame could not restrain an exclamation, in which a feeling stronger
than surprise might have been detected.  "Ah!" she said, "La Valliere -
she who yesterday - " she paused, and then continued, "she who was taken

< < 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