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

"The heart, sire, is an organ which requires positively to be reduced to
its material functions, but which, for the sake of humanity's peace of
mind, should be deprived of all its metaphysical inclinations.  For my
own part, I confess, when I saw that your majesty's heart was so taken up
by this little - "

"My heart taken up!  I!  My mind might, perhaps, have been so; but as for
my heart, it was - "  Louis again perceived that, in order to fill one
gulf, he was about to dig another.  "Besides," he added, "I have no fault
to find with the girl.  I was quite aware that she was in love with some
one else."

"The Vicomte de Bragelonne.  I informed your majesty of the circumstance."

"You did so: but you were not the first who told me.  The Comte de la
Fere had solicited from me Mademoiselle de la Valliere's hand for his
son.  And, on his return from England, the marriage shall be celebrated,
since they love each other."

"I recognize your majesty's great generosity of disposition in that act."

"So, Saint-Aignan, we will cease to occupy ourselves with these matters
any longer," said Louis.

"Yes, we will digest the affront, sire," replied the courtier, with
resignation.

"Besides, it will be an easy matter to do so," said the king, checking a
sigh.

"And, by way of a beginning, I will set about the composition of an
epigram upon all three of them.  I will call it 'The Naiad and Dryad,'
which will please Madame."

"Do so, Saint-Aignan, do so," said the king, indifferently.  "You shall
read me your verses; they will amuse me.  Ah! it does not signify, Saint-
Aignan," added the king, like a man breathing with difficulty, "the blow
requires more than human strength to support in a dignified manner."  As
the king thus spoke, assuming an air of the most angelic patience, one of
the servants in attendance knocked gently at the door.  Saint-Aignan drew
aside, out of respect.

"Come in," said the king.  The servant partially opened the door.  "What
is it?" inquired Louis.

The servant held out a letter of a triangular shape.  "For your majesty,"
he said.

"From whom?"

"I do not know.  One of the officers on duty gave it to me."

The valet, in obedience to a gesture of the king, handed him the letter.
The king advanced towards the candles, opened the note, read the
signature, and uttered a loud cry.  Saint-Aignan was sufficiently
respectful not to look on; but, without looking on, he saw and heard all,
and ran towards the king, who with a gesture dismissed the servant.  "Oh,
heavens!" said the king, as he read the note.

"Is your majesty unwell?" inquired Saint-Aignan, stretching forward his
arms.

"No, no, Saint-Aignan - read!" and he handed him the note.

Saint-Aignan's eyes fell upon the signature.  "La Valliere!" he
exclaimed.  "Oh, sire!"

"Read, _read!_"

And Saint-Aignan read:

"Forgive my importunity, sire; and forgive, also, the absence of the
formalities which may be wanting in this letter.  A note seems to be
more speedy and more urgent than a dispatch.  I venture, therefore, to
address this note to your majesty.  I have retired to my own room,
overcome with grief and fatigue, sire; and I implore your majesty to
grant me the favor of an audience, which will enable me to confess the
_truth_ to my sovereign.

"LOUISE de la VALLIERE."

"Well?" asked the king, taking the letter from Saint-Aignan's hands, who
was completely bewildered by what he had just read.

"Well!" repeated Saint-Aignan.

"What do you think of it?"

"I hardly know."

"Still, what is your opinion?"

"Sire, the young lady must have heard the muttering of the thunder, and
has got frightened."

"Frightened at what?" asked Louis with dignity.

"Why, your majesty has a thousand reasons to be angry with the author or
authors of so hazardous a joke; and, if your majesty's memory were to be
awakened in a disagreeable sense, it would be a perpetual menace hanging
over the head of this imprudent girl."

"Saint-Aignan, I do not think as you do."

"Your majesty doubtless sees more clearly than myself."

"Well!  I see affliction and restraint in these lines; more particularly
since I recall some of the details of the scene which took place this
evening in Madame's apartments - "  The king suddenly stopped, leaving
his meaning unexpressed.

"In fact," resumed Saint-Aignan, "your majesty will grant an audience;
nothing is clearer than that."

"I will do better, Saint-Aignan."

"What is that, sire?"

"Put on your cloak."

"But, sire - "

"You know the suite of rooms where Madame's maids of honor are lodged?"

"Certainly."

"You know some means of obtaining an entrance there."

"As far as that is concerned, I do not."

"At all events, you must be acquainted with some one there."

"Really, your majesty is the source of every good idea."

"You do know some one, then.  Who is it?"

"I know a certain gentleman, who is on very good terms with a certain
young lady there."

"One of the maids of honor?"

"Yes, sire."

"With Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente, I suppose?" said the king,
laughing.

"Fortunately, no, sire; with Montalais."

"What is his name?"

"Malicorne."

"And you can depend on him?"

"I believe so, sire.  He ought to have a key of some sort in his
possession; and if he should happen to have one, as I have done him a
service, why, he will let us have it."

"Nothing could be better.  Let us set off immediately."

The king threw his cloak over Saint-Aignan's shoulders, asked him for
his, and both went out into the vestibule.


Chapter LIX:
Something That neither Naiad nor Dryad Foresaw.

Saint-Aignan stopped at the foot of the staircase leading to the
_entresol_, where the maids of honor were lodged, and to the first floor,
where Madame's apartments were situated.  Then, by means of one of the
servants who was passing, he sent to apprise Malicorne, who was still
with Monsieur.  After having waited ten minutes, Malicorne arrived, full
of self-importance.  The king drew back towards the darkest part of the
vestibule.  Saint-Aignan, on the contrary, advanced to meet him, but at
the first words, indicating his wish, Malicorne drew back abruptly.

"Oh, oh!" he said, "you want me to introduce you into the rooms of the
maids of honor?"

"Yes."

"You know very well that I cannot do anything of the kind, without being
made acquainted with your object."

"Unfortunately, my dear Monsieur Malicorne, it is quite impossible for me
to give you any explanation; you must therefore confide in me as in a
friend who got you out of a great difficulty yesterday, and who now begs
you to draw him out of one to-day."

"Yet I told you, monsieur, what my object was; which was, not to sleep
out in the open air, and any man might express the same wish, whilst you,
however, admit nothing."

"Believe me, my dear Monsieur Malicorne," Saint-Aignan persisted, "that
if I were permitted to explain myself, I would do so."

"In that case, my dear monsieur, it is impossible for me to allow you to
enter Mademoiselle de Montalais's apartment."

"Why so?"

"You know why, better than any one else, since you caught me on the wall
paying my addresses to Mademoiselle de Montalais; it would, therefore, be
an excess of kindness on my part, you will admit, since I am paying my
attentions to her, to open the door of her room to you."

"But who told you it was on her account I asked you for the key?"

"For whom, then?"

"She does not lodge there alone, I suppose?"

"No, certainly; for Mademoiselle de la Valliere shares her rooms with
her; but, really, you have nothing more to do with Mademoiselle de la
Valliere than with Mademoiselle de Montalais, and there are only two men
to whom I would give this key; to M. de Bragelonne, if he begged me to
give it to him, and to the king, if he commanded me."

"In that case, give me the key, monsieur: I order you to do so," said the
king, advancing from the obscurity, and partially opening his cloak.
"Mademoiselle de Montalais will step down to talk with you, while we go
up-stairs to Mademoiselle de la Valliere, for, in fact, it is she only
whom we desire to see."

"The king!" exclaimed Malicorne, bowing to the very ground.

"Yes, the king," said Louis, smiling: "the king, who is as pleased with
your resistance as with your capitulation.  Rise, monsieur, and render us
the service we request of you."

"I obey, your majesty," said Malicorne, leading the way up the staircase.

"Get Mademoiselle de Montalais to come down," said the king, "and do not
breathe a word to her of my visit."

Malicorne bowed in token of obedience, and proceeded up the staircase.
But the king, after a hasty reflection, followed him, and that, too, with
such rapidity, that, although Malicorne was already more than half-way up
the staircase, the king reached the room at the same moment.  He then
observed, by the door which remained half-opened behind Malicorne, La
Valliere, sitting in an armchair with her head thrown back, and in the
opposite corner Montalais, who, in her dressing-gown, was standing before
a looking-glass, engaged in arranging her hair, and parleying the while
with Malicorne.  The king hurriedly opened the door and entered the
room.  Montalais called out at the noise made by the opening of the door,
and, recognizing the king, made her escape.  La Valliere rose from her
seat, like a dead person galvanized, and then fell back in her armchair.
The king advanced slowly towards her.

"You wished for an audience, I believe," he said coldly.  "I am ready to
hear you.  Speak."

Saint-Aignan, faithful to his character of being deaf, blind, and dumb,
had stationed himself in a corner of the door, upon a stool which by
chance he found there.  Concealed by the tapestry which covered the
doorway, and leaning his back against the wall, he could thus listen
without being seen; resigning himself to the post of a good watch-dog,
who patiently waits and watches without ever getting in his master's way.

La Valliere, terror-stricken at the king's irritated aspect, rose a

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