List Of Contents | Contents of Louise de la Valliere, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

France, knows quite as well as any of us other gentlemen that we have
never considered M. de Bouteville dishonored for having suffered death on
the Place de Greve.  That which does in truth dishonor a man is to avoid
meeting his enemy - not to avoid meeting his executioner!"

"Well, monsieur, that may be so," said Louis XIV.; "I am desirous of
suggesting a means of your repairing all."

"If it be a means of which a gentleman may avail himself, I shall most
eagerly seize the opportunity."

"The name of M. de Guiche's adversary?"

"Oh, oh!" murmured D'Artagnan, "are we going to take Louis XIII. as a

"Sire!" said Manicamp, with an accent of reproach.

"You will not name him, then?" said the king.

"Sire, I do not know him."

"Bravo!" murmured D'Artagnan.

"Monsieur de Manicamp, hand your sword to the captain."

Manicamp bowed very gracefully, unbuckled his sword, smiling as he did
so, and handed it for the musketeer to take.  But Saint-Aignan advanced
hurriedly between him and D'Artagnan.  "Sire," he said, "will your
majesty permit me to say a word?"

"Do so," said the king, delighted, perhaps, at the bottom of his heart,
for some one to step between him and the wrath he felt he had carried him
too far.

"Manicamp, you are a brave man, and the king will appreciate your
conduct; but to wish to serve your friends too well, is to destroy them.
Manicamp, you know the name the king asks you for?"

"It is perfectly true - I do know it."

"You will give it up then?"

"If I felt I ought to have mentioned it, I should have already done so."

"Then I will tell it, for I am not so extremely sensitive on such points
of honor as you are."

"You are at liberty to do so, but it seems to me, however - "

"Oh! a truce to magnanimity; I will not permit you to go to the Bastile
in that way.  Do you speak; or I will."

Manicamp was keen-witted enough, and perfectly understood that he had
done quite sufficient to produce a good opinion of his conduct; it was
now only a question of persevering in such a manner as to regain the good
graces of the king.  "Speak, monsieur," he said to Saint-Aignan; "I have
on my own behalf done all that my conscience told me to do; and it must
have been very importunate," he added, turning towards the king, "since
its mandates led me to disobey your majesty's commands; but your majesty
will forgive me, I hope, when you learn that I was anxious to preserve
the honor of a lady."

"Of a lady?" said the king, with some uneasiness.

"Yes, sire."

"A lady was the cause of this duel?"

Manicamp bowed.

"If the position of the lady in question warrants it," he said, "I shall
not complain of your having acted with so much circumspection; on the
contrary, indeed."

"Sire, everything which concerns your majesty's household, or the
household of your majesty's brother, is of importance in my eyes."

"In my brother's household," repeated Louis XIV., with a slight
hesitation.  "The cause of the duel was a lady belonging to my brother's
household, do you say?"

"Or to Madame's."

"Ah! to Madame's?"

"Yes, sire."

"Well - and this lady?"

"Is one of the maids of honor of her royal highness Madame la Duchesse

"For whom M. de Guiche fought - do you say?"

"Yes, sire, and, this time, I tell no falsehood."

Louis seemed restless and anxious.  "Gentlemen," he said, turning towards
the spectators of this scene, "will you have the goodness to retire for a
moment.  I wish to be alone with M. de Manicamp; I know he has some
important communication to make for his own justification, and which he
will not venture before witnesses....  Put up your sword, M. de Manicamp."

Manicamp returned his sword to his belt.

"The fellow decidedly has his wits about him," murmured the musketeer,
taking Saint-Aignan by the arm, and withdrawing with him.

"He will get out of it," said the latter in D'Artagnan's ear.

"And with honor, too, comte."

Manicamp cast a glance of recognition at Saint-Aignan and the captain,
which luckily passed unnoticed by the king.

"Come, come," said D'Artagnan, as he left the room, "I had an indifferent
opinion of the new generation.  Well, I was mistaken after all.  There is
some good in them, I perceive."

Valot preceded the favorite and the captain, leaving the king and
Manicamp alone in the cabinet.

Chapter XIX:
Wherein D'Artagnan Perceives that It Was He Who Was Mistaken, and
Manicamp Who Was Right.

The king, determined to be satisfied that no one was listening, went
himself to the door, and then returned precipitately and placed himself
opposite Manicamp.

"And now we are alone, Monsieur de Manicamp, explain yourself."

"With the greatest frankness, sire," replied the young man.

"And in the first place, pray understand," added the king, "that there is
nothing to which I personally attach a greater importance than the honor
of _any_ lady."

"That is the very reason, sire, why I endeavored to study your delicacy
of sentiment and feeling."

"Yes, I understand it all now.  You say that it was one of the maids of
honor of my sister-in-law who was the subject of dispute, and that the
person in question, De Guiche's adversary, the man, in point of fact,
whom you will not name - "

"But whom M. de Saint-Aignan will name, monsieur."

"Yes, you say, however, that this man insulted some one belonging to the
household of Madame."

"Yes, sire.  Mademoiselle de la Valliere."

"Ah!" said the king, as if he had expected the name, and yet as if its
announcement had caused him a sudden pang; "ah! it was Mademoiselle de la
Valliere who was insulted."

"I do not say precisely that she was insulted, sire."

"But at all events - "

"I merely say that she was spoken of in terms far enough from respectful."

"A man dares to speak in disrespectful terms of Mademoiselle de la
Valliere, and yet you refuse to tell me the name of the insulter?"

"Sire, I thought it was quite understood that your majesty had abandoned
the idea of making me denounce him."

"Perfectly true, monsieur," returned the king, controlling his anger;
"besides, I shall know in good time the name of this man whom I shall
feel it my duty to punish."

Manicamp perceived that they had returned to the question again.  As for
the king, he saw he had allowed himself to be hurried away a little too
far, and therefore continued: - "And I will punish him - not because
there is any question of Mademoiselle de la Valliere, although I esteem
her very highly - but because a lady was the object of the quarrel.  And
I intend that ladies shall be respected at my court, and that quarrels
shall be put a stop to altogether."

Manicamp bowed.

"And now, Monsieur de Manicamp," continued the king, "what was said about
Mademoiselle de la Valliere?"

"Cannot your majesty guess?"


"Your majesty can imagine the character of the jest in which young men
permit themselves to indulge."

"They very probably said that she was in love with some one?" the king
ventured to remark.

"Probably so."

"But Mademoiselle de la Valliere has a perfect right to love any one she
pleases," said the king.

"That is the very point De Guiche maintained."

"And on account of which he fought, do you mean?"

"Yes, sire, the sole and only cause."

The king colored.  "And you do not know anything more, then?"

"In what respect, sire?"

"In the very interesting respect which you are now referring to."

"What does your majesty wish to know?"

"Why, the name of the man with whom La Valliere is in love, and whom De
Guiche's adversary disputed her right to love."

"Sire, I know nothing - I have heard nothing - and have learnt nothing,
even accidentally; but De Guiche is a noble-hearted fellow, and if,
momentarily, he substituted himself in the place or stead of La
Valliere's protector, it was because that protector was himself of too
exalted a position to undertake her defense."

These words were more than transparent; they made the king blush, but
this time with pleasure.  He struck Manicamp gently on the shoulder.
"Well, well, Monsieur de Manicamp, you are not only a ready, witty
fellow, but a brave gentleman besides, and your friend De Guiche is a
paladin quite after my own heart; you will express that to him from me."

"Your majesty forgives me, then?"


"And I am free?"

The king smiled and held out his hand to Manicamp, which he took and
kissed respectfully.  "And then," added the king, "you relate stories so

"I, sire!"

"You told me in the most admirable manner the particulars of the accident
which happened to Guiche.  I can see the wild boar rushing out of the
wood - I can see the horse fall down fighting with his head, and the boar
rush from the horse to the rider.  You do not simply relate a story well:
you positively paint its incidents."

"Sire, I think your majesty condescends to laugh at my expense," said

"On the contrary," said Louis, seriously, "I have so little intention of
laughing, Monsieur de Manicamp, that I wish you to relate this adventure
to every one."

"The adventure of the hunt?"

"Yes; in the same manner you told it to me, without changing a single
word - _you understand?_"

"Perfectly, sire."

"And you will relate it, then?"

"Without losing a minute."

"Very well! and now summon M. d'Artagnan; I hope you are no longer afraid
of him."

"Oh, sire, from the very moment I am sure of your majesty's kind
disposition, I no longer fear anything!"

"Call him, then," said the king.

Manicamp opened the door, and said, "Gentlemen, the king wishes you to

D'Artagnan, Saint-Aignan, and Valot entered.

"Gentlemen," said the king, "I summoned you for the purposes of saying
that Monsieur de Manicamp's explanation has entirely satisfied me."

D'Artagnan glanced at Valot and Saint-Aignan, as much as to say, "Well!
did I not tell you so?"

The king led Manicamp to the door, and then in a low tone of voice said:
"See that M. de Guiche takes good care of himself, and particularly that
he recovers as soon as possible; I am very desirous of thanking him in

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: