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List Of Contents | Contents of The Vicomte de Bragelonne, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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principal amusement is to weary himself?"

The light-hearted boy shrugged his shoulders with a gesture which said
as clear as day: "In that case I would rather be plain Jack than a
prince."  And all resumed their labors.

In the meanwhile, Monsieur continued his route with an air at once so
melancholy and so majestic, that he certainly would have attracted the
attention of spectators, if spectators there had been; but the good
citizens of Blois could not pardon Monsieur for having chosen their gay
city for an abode in which to indulge melancholy at his ease, and as
often as they caught a glimpse of the illustrious _ennuye_, they stole
away gaping, or drew back their heads into the interior of their
dwellings, to escape the soporific influence of that long pale face, of
those watery eyes, and that languid address; so that the worthy prince
was almost certain to find the streets deserted whenever he chanced to
pass through them.

Now, on the part of the citizens of Blois this was a culpable piece of
disrespect, for Monsieur was, after the king - nay, even perhaps, before
the king - the greatest noble of the kingdom.  In fact, God, who had
granted to Louis XIV., then reigning, the honor of being son of
Louis XIII., had granted to Monsieur the honor of being son of Henry IV.
It was not then, or, at least, it ought not to have been, a trifling
source of pride for the city of Blois, that Gaston of Orleans had chosen
it as his residence, and held his court in the ancient Castle of the
States.

But it was the destiny of this great prince to excite the attention and
admiration of the public in a very modified degree wherever he might be.
Monsieur had fallen into this situation by habit.

It was not, perhaps, this which gave him that air of listlessness.
Monsieur had already been tolerably busy in the course of his life.  A
man cannot allow the heads of a dozen of his best friends to be cut off
without feeling a little excitement; and as, since the accession of
Mazarin to power, no heads had been cut off, Monsieur's occupation was
gone, and his _morale_ suffered from it.

The life of the poor prince was then very dull.  After his little morning
hawking-party on the banks of the Beuvron, or in the woods of Cheverny,
Monsieur crossed the Loire, went to breakfast at Chambord, with or
without an appetite, and the city of Blois heard no more of its sovereign
lord and master till the next hawking-day.

So much for the ennui _extra muros_; of the ennui of the interior we will
give the reader an idea if he will with us follow the cavalcade to the
majestic porch of the Castle of the States.

Monsieur rode a little steady-paced horse, equipped with a large saddle
of red Flemish velvet, with stirrups in the shape of buskins; the horse
was of a bay color; Monsieur's pourpoint of crimson velvet corresponded
with the cloak of the same shade and the horse's equipment, and it was
only by this red appearance of the whole that the prince could be known
from his two companions, the one dressed in violet, the other in green.
He on the left, in violet, was his equerry; he on the right, in green,
was the grand veneur.

One of the pages carried two gerfalcons upon a perch, the other a
hunting-horn, which he blew with a careless note at twenty paces from the
castle.  Every one about this listless prince did what he had to
listlessly.

At this signal, eight guards, who were lounging in the sun in the square
court, ran to their halberts, and Monsieur made his solemn entry into the
castle.

When he had disappeared under the shades of the porch, three or four
idlers, who had followed the cavalcade to the castle, after pointing out
the suspended birds to each other, dispersed with comments upon what they
saw: and, when they were gone, the street, the palace, and the court, all
remained deserted alike.

Monsieur dismounted without speaking a word, went straight to his
apartments, where his valet changed his dress, and as Madame had not yet
sent orders respecting breakfast, Monsieur stretched himself upon a
_chaise longue_, and was soon as fast asleep as if it had been eleven
o'clock at night.

The eight guards, who concluded their service for the day was over, laid
themselves down very comfortably in the sun upon some stone benches; the
grooms disappeared with their horses into the stables, and, with the
exception of a few joyous birds, startling each other with their sharp
chirping in the tufted shrubberies, it might have been thought that the
whole castle was as soundly asleep as Monsieur was.

All at once, in the midst of this delicious silence, there resounded a
clear ringing laugh, which caused several of the halberdiers in the
enjoyment of their _siesta_ to open at least one eye.

This burst of laughter proceeded from a window of the castle, visited at
this moment by the sun, that embraced it in one of those large angles
which the profiles of the chimneys mark out upon the walls before mid-day.

The little balcony of wrought iron which advanced in front of this
window was furnished with a pot of red gilliflowers, another pot of
primroses, and an early rose-tree, the foliage of which, beautifully
green, was variegated with numerous red specks announcing future roses.

In the chamber lighted by this window, was a square table, covered with
an old large-flowered Haarlem tapestry; in the center of this table was a
long-necked stone bottle, in which were irises and lilies of the valley;
at each end of this table was a young girl.

The position of these two young people was singular; they might have
been taken for two boarders escaped from a convent.  One of them, with
both elbows on the table, and a pen in her hand, was tracing characters
upon a sheet of fine Dutch paper; the other, kneeling upon a chair, which
allowed her to advance her head and bust over the back of it to the
middle of the table, was watching her companion as she wrote, or rather
hesitated to write.

Thence the thousand cries, the thousand railleries, the thousand laughs,
one of which, more brilliant than the rest, had startled the birds in the
gardens, and disturbed the slumbers of Monsieur's guards.

We are taking portraits now; we shall be allowed, therefore, we hope,
to sketch the two last of this chapter.

The one who was leaning in the chair - that is to say, the joyous,
laughing one - was a beautiful girl of from eighteen to twenty, with
brown complexion and brown hair, splendid, from eyes which sparkled
beneath strongly-marked brows, and particularly from her teeth, which
seemed to shine like pearls between her red coral lips.  Her every
movement seemed the accent of a sunny nature; she did not walk - she
bounded.

The other, she who was writing, looked at her turbulent companion with an
eye as limpid, as pure, and as blue as the azure of the day.  Her hair,
of a shaded fairness, arranged with exquisite taste, fell in silky curls
over her lovely mantling cheeks; she passed across the paper a delicate
hand, whose thinness announced her extreme youth.  At each burst of
laughter that proceeded from her friend, she raised, as if annoyed, her
white shoulders in a poetical and mild manner, but they were wanting in
that richfulness of mold that was likewise to be wished in her arms and
hands.

"Montalais!  Montalais!" said she at length, in a voice soft and
caressing as a melody, "you laugh too loud - you laugh like a man!  You
will not only draw the attention of messieurs the guards, but you will
not hear Madame's bell when Madame rings."

This admonition neither made the young girl called Montalais cease to
laugh nor gesticulate. She only replied: "Louise, you do not speak as you
think, my dear; you know that messieurs the guards, as you call them,
have only just commenced their sleep, and that a cannon would not waken
them; you know that Madame's bell can be heard at the bridge of Blois,
and that consequently I shall hear it when my services are required by
Madame.  What annoys you, my child, is that I laugh while you are
writing; and what you are afraid of is that Madame de Saint-Remy, your
mother, should come up here, as she does sometimes when we laugh too
loud, that she should surprise us, and that she should see that enormous
sheet of paper upon which, in a quarter of an hour, you have only traced
the words _Monsieur Raoul_.  Now, you are right, my dear Louise, because
after these words, 'Monsieur Raoul', others may be put so significant and
incendiary as to cause Madame Saint-Remy to burst out into fire and
flames! _Hein!_ is not that true now? - say."

And Montalais redoubled her laughter and noisy provocations.

The fair girl at length became quite angry; she tore the sheet of paper
on which, in fact, the words "Monsieur Raoul" were written in good
characters; and crushing the paper in her trembling hands, she threw it
out of the window.

"There! there!" said Mademoiselle de Montalais; "there is our little
lamb, our gentle dove, angry! Don't be afraid, Louise - Madame de
Saint-Remy will not come; and if she should, you know I have a quick
ear.  Besides, what can be more permissible than to write to an old
friend of twelve years' standing, particularly when the letter begins
with the words 'Monsieur Raoul'?"

"It is all very well - I will not write to him at all," said the young
girl.

"Ah, ah! in good sooth, Montalais is properly punished," cried the
jeering brunette, still laughing.  "Come, come! let us try another sheet
of paper, and finish our dispatch off-hand.  Good! there is the bell
ringing now.  By my faith, so much the worse!  Madame must wait, or else
do without her first maid of honor this morning."

A bell, in fact, did ring; it announced that Madame had finished her
toilette, and waited for Monsieur to give her his hand, and conduct her
from the _salon_ to the refectory.

This formality being accomplished with great ceremony, the husband and
wife breakfasted, and then separated till the hour of dinner, invariably
fixed at two o'clock.

The sound of this bell caused a door to be opened in the offices on the

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