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List Of Contents | Contents of The Vicomte de Bragelonne, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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left hand of the court, from which filed two _maitres d'hotel_ followed
by eight scullions bearing a kind of hand-barrow loaded with dishes under
silver covers.

One of the _maitres d'hotel_, the first in rank, touched one of the
guards, who was snoring on his bench, slightly with his wand; he even
carried his kindness so far as to place the halbert which stood against
the wall in the hands of the man stupid with sleep, after which the
soldier, without explanation, escorted the _viande_ of Monsieur to the
refectory, preceded by a page and the two _maitres d'hotel_.

Wherever the _viande_ passed, the soldiers ported arms.

Mademoiselle de Montalais and her companion had watched from their
window the details of this ceremony, to which, by the bye, they must have
been pretty well accustomed.  But they did not look so much from
curiosity as to be assured they should not be disturbed.  So, guards,
scullions, _maitres d'hotel_, and pages having passed, they resumed their
places at the table; and the sun, which, through the window-frame, had
for an instant fallen upon those two charming countenances, now only shed
its light upon the gilliflowers, primroses, and rose-tree.

"Bah!" said Mademoiselle de Montalais, taking her place again; "Madame
will breakfast very well without me!"

"Oh!  Montalais, you will be punished!" replied the other girl, sitting
down quietly in hers.

"Punished, indeed! - that is to say, deprived of a ride!  That is just
the way in which I wish to be punished.  To go out in the grand coach,
perched upon a doorstep; to turn to the left, twist round to the right,
over roads full of ruts, where we cannot exceed a league in two hours;
and then to come back straight towards the wing of the castle in which is
the window of Mary de Medici, so that Madame never fails to say: 'Could
one believe it possible that Mary de Medici should have escaped from that
window - forty-seven feet high?  The mother of two princes and three
princesses!'  If you call that relaxation, Louise, all I ask is to be
punished every day; particularly when my punishment is to remain with you
and write such interesting letters as we write!"

"Montalais!  Montalais! there are duties to be performed."

"You talk of them very much at your ease, dear child! - you, who are
left quite free amidst this tedious court.  You are the only person that
reaps the advantages of them without incurring the trouble, - you, who
are really more one of Madame's maids of honor than I am, because Madame
makes her affection for your father-in-law glance off upon you; so that
you enter this dull house as the birds fly into yonder court, inhaling
the air, pecking the flowers, picking up the grain, without having the
least service to perform, or the least annoyance to undergo.  And you
talk to me of duties to be performed!  In sooth, my pretty idler, what
are your own proper duties, unless to write to the handsome Raoul?  And
even that you don't do; so that it looks to me as if you likewise were
rather negligent of your duties!"

Louise assumed a serious air, leant her chin upon her hand, and, in a
tone full of candid remonstrance, "And do you reproach me with my good
fortune?" said she.  "Can you have the heart to do it?  You have a
future; you will belong to the court; the king, if he should marry, will
require Monsieur to be near his person; you will see splendid _fetes_,
you will see the king, who they say is so handsome, so agreeable!"

"Ay, and still more, I shall see Raoul, who attends upon M. le Prince,"
added Montalais, maliciously.

"Poor Raoul!" sighed Louise.

"Now is the time to write to him, my pretty dear!  Come, begin again,
with that famous 'Monsieur Raoul' which figures at the top of the poor
torn sheet."

She then held the pen toward her, and with a charming smile encouraged
her hand, which quickly traced the words she named.

"What next?" asked the younger of the two girls.

"Why, now write what you think, Louise," replied Montalais.

"Are you quite sure I think of anything?"

"You think of somebody, and that amounts to the same thing, or rather
even more."

"Do you think so, Montalais?"

"Louise, Louise, your blue eyes are as deep as the sea I saw at Boulogne
last year!  No, no, I mistake - the sea is perfidious: your eyes are as
deep as the azure yonder - look! - over our heads!"

"Well, since you can read so well in my eyes, tell me what I am thinking
about, Montalais."

"In the first place, you don't think, _Monsieur Raoul_; you think, _My
dear Raoul_."

"Oh! - "

"Never blush for such a trifle as that!  'My dear Raoul,' we will say -
'You implore me to write you at Paris, where you are detained by your
attendance on M. le Prince. As you must be very dull there, to seek for
amusement in the remembrance of a _provinciale_ - '"

Louise rose up suddenly.  "No, Montalais," said she, with a smile; "I
don't think a word of that.  Look, this is what I think;" and she seized
the pen boldly, and traced, with a firm hand, the following words:

"I should have been very unhappy if your entreaties to obtain a
remembrance of me had been less warm.  Everything here reminds me of our
early days, which so quickly passed away, which so delightfully flew by,
that no others will ever replace the charm of them in my heart."

Montalais, who watched the flying pen, and read, the wrong way upwards,
as fast as her friend wrote, here interrupted by clapping her hands.
"Capital!" cried she; "there is frankness - there is heart - there is
style!  Show these Parisians, my dear, that Blois is the city for fine
language!"

"He knows very well that Blois was a Paradise to me," replied the girl.

"That is exactly what you mean to say; and you speak like an angel."

"I will finish, Montalais," and she continued as follows: "You often
think of me, you say, Monsieur Raoul: I thank you; but that does not
surprise me, when I recollect how often our hearts have beaten close to
each other."

"Oh! oh!" said Montalais.  "Beware, my lamb!  You are scattering your
wool, and there are wolves about."

Louise was about to reply, when the gallop of a horse resounded under
the porch of the castle.

"What is that?" said Montalais, approaching the window.  "A handsome
cavalier, by my faith!"

"Oh! - Raoul!" exclaimed Louise, who had made the same movement as her
friend, and, becoming pale as death, sunk back beside her unfinished
letter.

"Now, he is a clever lover, upon my word!" cried Montalais; "he arrives
just at the proper moment."

"Come in, come in, I implore you!" murmured Louise.

"Bah! he does not know me.  Let me see what he has come here for."


Chapter II:
The Messenger.

Mademoiselle de Montalais was right; the young cavalier was goodly to
look upon.

He was a young man of from twenty-four to twenty-five years of age, tall
and slender, wearing gracefully the picturesque military costume of the
period.  His large boots contained a foot which Mademoiselle de Montalais
might not have disowned if she had been transformed into a man.  With one
of his delicate but nervous hands he checked his horse in the middle of
the court, and with the other raised his hat, whose long plumes shaded
his at once serious and ingenuous countenance.

The guards, roused by the steps of the horse, awoke, and were on foot in
a minute.  The young man waited till one of them was close to his
saddle-bow: then, stooping towards him, in a clear, distinct voice, which
was perfectly audible at the window where the two girls were concealed,
"A message for his royal highness," he said.

"Ah, ah!" cried the soldier.  "Officer, a messenger!"

But this brave guard knew very well that no officer would appear, seeing
that the only one who could have appeared dwelt at the other side of the
castle, in an apartment looking into the gardens.  So he hastened to add:
"The officer, monsieur, is on his rounds; but, in his absence, M. de
Saint-Remy, the _maitre d'hotel_, shall be informed."

"M. de Saint-Remy?" repeated the cavalier, slightly blushing.

"Do you know him?"

"Why, yes; but request him, if you please, that my visit be announced
to his royal highness as soon as possible."

"It appears to be pressing," said the guard, as if speaking to himself,
but really in the hope of obtaining an answer.

The messenger made an affirmative sign with his head.

"In that case," said the guard, "I will go and seek the _maitre
d'hotel_ myself."

The young man, in the meantime, dismounted; and whilst the others were
making their remarks upon the fine horse the cavalier rode, the soldier
returned.

"Your pardon, young gentleman; but your name, if you please?"

"The Vicomte de Bragelonne, on the part of his highness M. le Prince de
Conde."

The soldier made a profound bow, and, as if the name of the conqueror of
Rocroi and Lens had given him wings, he stepped lightly up the steps
leading to the ante-chamber.

M. de Bragelonne had not had time to fasten his horse to the iron bars of
the _perron_, when M. de Saint-Remy came running, out of breath,
supporting his capacious body with one hand, whilst with the other he cut
the air as a fisherman cleaves the waves with his oar.

"Ah, Monsieur le Vicomte!  You at Blois!" cried he.  "Well, that is a
wonder.  Good-day to you - good-day, Monsieur Raoul."

"I offer you a thousand respects, M. de Saint-Remy."

"How Madame de la Vall - I mean, how delighted Madame de Saint-Remy will
be to see you!  But come in.  His royal highness is at breakfast - must
he be interrupted?  Is the matter serious?"

"Yes, and no, Monsieur de Saint-Remy.  A moment's delay, however, would
be disagreeable to his royal highness."

"If that is the case, we will force the _consigne_, Monsieur le Vicomte.
Come in.  Besides, Monsieur is in an excellent humor to-day.  And then
you bring news, do you not?"

"Great news, Monsieur de Saint-Remy.

"And good, I presume?"

"Excellent."

"Come quickly, come quickly then!" cried the worthy man, putting his
dress to rights as he went along.

Raoul followed him, hat in hand, and a little disconcerted at the noise

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