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Louise de la Valliere by Alexandre Dumas, Pere

Part 6 out of 12

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Madame was not touched exactly - for the best women, when their pride is
hurt, are without pity; but she was afraid that the tears the king was
shedding might possibly carry away every soft and tender feeling in his

"Give what commands you please, sire," she said; "and since you prefer my
humiliation to your own - although mine is public and yours has been
witnessed but by myself alone - speak, I will obey your majesty."

"No, no, Henrietta!" exclaimed Louis, transported with gratitude, "you
will have yielded to a brother's wishes."

"I no longer have any brother, since I obey."

"All that I have would be too little in return."

"How passionately you love, sire, when you do love!"

Louis did not answer. He had seized upon Madame's hand and covered it
with kisses. "And so you will receive this poor girl back again, and
will forgive her; you will find how gentle and pure-hearted she is."

"I will maintain her in my household."

"No, you will give her your friendship, my sister."

"I never liked her."

"Well, for my sake, you will treat her kindly, will you not, Henrietta?"

"I will treat her as your - _mistress_."

The king rose suddenly to his feet. By this word, which had so
infelicitously escaped her, Madame had destroyed the whole merit of her
sacrifice. The king felt freed from all obligations. Exasperated beyond
measure, and bitterly offended, he replied:

"I thank you, Madame; I shall never forget the service you have rendered
me." And, saluting her with an affectation of ceremony, he took his
leave of her. As he passed before a glass, he saw that his eyes were
red, and angrily stamped his foot on the ground. But it was too late,
for Malicorne and D'Artagnan, who were standing at the door, had seen his

"The king has been crying," thought Malicorne. D'Artagnan approached the
king with a respectful air, and said in a low tone of voice:

"Sire, it would be better to return to your own apartments by the small


"Because the dust of the road has left its traces on your face," said
D'Artagnan. "By heavens!" he thought, "when the king has given way like
a child, let those look to it who may make the lady weep for whom the
king sheds tears."

Chapter XXXI:
Mademoiselle de la Valliere's Pocket-Handkerchief.

Madame was not bad-hearted - she was only hasty and impetuous. The king
was not imprudent - he was simply in love. Hardly had they entered into
this compact, which terminated in La Valliere's recall, when they both
sought to make as much as they could by their bargain. The king wished
to see La Valliere every moment of the day, while Madame, who was
sensible of the king's annoyance ever since he had so entreated her,
would not relinquish her revenge on La Valliere without a contest. She
planted every conceivable difficulty in the king's path; he was, in fact,
obliged, in order to get a glimpse of La Valliere, to be exceedingly
devoted in his attentions to his sister-in-law, and this, indeed, was
Madame's plan of policy. As she had chosen some one to second her
efforts, and as this person was our old friend Montalais, the king found
himself completely hemmed in every time he paid Madame a visit; he was
surrounded, and was never left a moment alone. Madame displayed in her
conversation a charm of manner and brilliancy of wit which dazzled
everybody. Montalais followed her, and soon rendered herself perfectly
insupportable to the king, which was, in fact, the very thing she
expected would happen. She then set Malicorne at the king, who found
means of informing his majesty that there was a young person belonging to
the court who was exceedingly miserable; and on the king inquiring who
this person was, Malicorne replied that it was Mademoiselle de
Montalais. To this the king answered that it was perfectly just that a
person should be unhappy when she rendered others so. Whereupon
Malicorne explained how matters stood; for he had received his directions
from Montalais. The king began to open his eyes; he remarked that, as
soon as he made his appearance, Madame made hers too; that she remained
in the corridors until after he had left; that she accompanied him back
to his own apartments, fearing that he might speak in the ante-chambers
to one of her maids of honor. One evening she went further still. The
king was seated, surrounded by the ladies who were present, and holding
in his hand, concealed by his lace ruffle, a small note which he wished
to slip into La Valliere's hand. Madame guessed both his intention and
the letter too. It was difficult to prevent the king going wherever he
pleased, and yet it was necessary to prevent his going near La Valliere,
or speaking to her, as by so doing he could let the note fall into her
lap behind her fan, or into her pocket-handkerchief. The king, who was
also on the watch, suspected that a snare was being laid for him. He
rose and pushed his chair, without affectation, near Mademoiselle de
Chatillon, with whom he began to talk in a light tone. They were amusing
themselves making rhymes; from Mademoiselle de Chatillon he went to
Montalais, and then to Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente. And thus, by
this skillful maneuver, he found himself seated opposite to La Valliere,
whom he completely concealed. Madame pretended to be greatly occupied,
altering a group of flowers that she was working in tapestry. The king
showed the corner of his letter to La Valliere, and the latter held out
her handkerchief with a look that signified, "Put the letter inside."
Then, as the king had placed his own handkerchief upon his chair, he was
adroit enough to let it fall on the ground, so that La Valliere slipped
her handkerchief on the chair. The king took it up quietly, without any
one observing what he did, placed the letter within it, and returned the
handkerchief to the place he had taken it from. There was only just time
for La Valliere to stretch out her hand to take hold of the handkerchief
with its valuable contents.

But Madame, who had observed everything that had passed, said to
Mademoiselle de Chatillon, "Chatillon, be good enough to pick up the
king's handkerchief, if you please; it has fallen on the carpet."

The young girl obeyed with the utmost precipitation, the king having
moved from his seat, and La Valliere being in no little degree nervous
and confused.

"Ah! I beg your majesty's pardon," said Mademoiselle de Chatillon; "you
have two handkerchiefs, I perceive."

And the king was accordingly obliged to put into his pocket La Valliere's
handkerchief as well as his own. He certainly gained that souvenir of
Louise, who lost, however, a copy of verses which had cost the king ten
hours' hard labor, and which, as far as he was concerned, was perhaps as
good as a long poem. It would be impossible to describe the king's anger
and La Valliere's despair; but shortly afterwards a circumstance occurred
which was more than remarkable. When the king left, in order to retire
to his own apartments, Malicorne, informed of what had passed, one can
hardly tell how, was waiting in the ante-chamber. The ante-chambers of
the Palais Royal are naturally very dark, and, in the evening, they were
but indifferently lighted. Nothing pleased the king more than this dim
light. As a general rule, love, whose mind and heart are constantly in a
blaze, contemns all light, except the sunshine of the soul. And so the
ante-chamber was dark; a page carried a torch before the king, who walked
on slowly, greatly annoyed at what had recently occurred. Malicorne
passed close to the king, almost stumbled against him in fact, and begged
his forgiveness with the profoundest humility; but the king, who was in
an exceedingly ill-temper, was very sharp in his reproof to Malicorne,
who disappeared as soon and as quietly as he possibly could. Louis
retired to rest, having had a misunderstanding with the queen; and the
next day, as soon as he entered the cabinet, he wished to have La
Valliere's handkerchief in order to press his lips to it. He called his

"Fetch me," he said, "the coat I wore yesterday evening, but be very sure
you do not touch anything it may contain."

The order being obeyed, the king himself searched the pocket of the coat;
he found only one handkerchief, and that his own; La Valliere's had
disappeared. Whilst busied with all kinds of conjectures and suspicions,
a letter was brought to him from La Valliere; it ran thus:

"How good and kind of you to have sent me those beautiful verses; how
full of ingenuity and perseverance your affection is; how is it possible
to help loving you so dearly!"

"What does this mean?" thought the king; "there must be some mistake.
Look well about," said he to the valet, "for a pocket-handkerchief must
be in one of my pockets; and if you do not find it, or if you have
touched it - " He reflected for a moment. To make a state matter of the
loss of the handkerchief would be to act absurdly, and he therefore
added, "There was a letter of some importance inside the handkerchief,
which had somehow got among the folds of it."

"Sire," said the valet, "your majesty had only one handkerchief, and that
is it."

"True, true," replied the king, setting his teeth hard together. "Oh,
poverty, how I envy you! Happy is the man who can empty his own pockets
of letters and handkerchiefs!"

He read La Valliere's letter over again, endeavoring to imagine in what
conceivable way his verses could have reached their destination. There
was a postscript to the letter:

"I send you back by your messenger this reply, so unworthy of what you
sent me."

"So far so good; I shall find out something now," he said delightedly.
"Who is waiting, and who brought me this letter?"

"M. Malicorne," replied the _valet de chambre_, timidly.

"Desire him to come in."

Malicorne entered.

"You come from Mademoiselle de la Valliere?" said the king, with a sigh.

"Yes, sire."

"And you took Mademoiselle de la Valliere something from me?"

"I, sire?"

"Yes, you."

"Oh, no, sire."

"Mademoiselle de la Valliere says so, distinctly."

"Oh, sire, Mademoiselle de la Valliere is mistaken."

The king frowned. "What jest is this?" he said; "explain yourself. Why
does Mademoiselle de la Valliere call you my messenger? What did you
take to that lady? Speak, monsieur, and quickly."

"Sire, I merely took Mademoiselle de la Valliere a pocket-handkerchief,
that was all."

"A handkerchief, - what handkerchief?"

"Sire, at the very moment when I had the misfortune to stumble against
your majesty yesterday - a misfortune which I shall deplore to the last
day of my life, especially after the dissatisfaction which you exhibited
- I remained, sire, motionless with despair, your majesty being at too
great a distance to hear my excuses, when I saw something white lying on
the ground."

"Ah!" said the king.

"I stooped down, - it was a pocket-handkerchief. For a moment I had an
idea that when I stumbled against your majesty I must have been the cause
of the handkerchief falling from your pocket; but as I felt it all over
very respectfully, I perceived a cipher at one of the corners, and, on
looking at it closely, I found that it was Mademoiselle de la Valliere's
cipher. I presumed that on her way to Madame's apartment in the earlier
part of the evening she had let her handkerchief fall, and I accordingly
hastened to restore it to her as she was leaving; and that is all I gave
to Mademoiselle de la Valliere, I entreat your majesty to believe."
Malicorne's manner was so simple, so full of contrition, and marked with
such extreme humility, that the king was greatly amused in listening to
him. He was as pleased with him for what he had done as if he had
rendered him the greatest service.

"This is the second fortunate meeting I have had with you, monsieur," he
said; "you may count upon my good intentions."

The plain and sober truth was, that Malicorne had picked the king's
pocket of the handkerchief as dexterously as any of the pickpockets of
the good city of Paris could have done. Madame never knew of this little
incident, but Montalais gave La Valliere some idea of the manner in which
it had really happened, and La Valliere afterwards told the king, who
laughed exceedingly at it and pronounced Malicorne to be a first rate
politician. Louis XIV. was right, and it is well known that he was
tolerably well acquainted with human nature.

Chapter XXXII:
Which Treats of Gardeners, of Ladders, and Maids of Honor.

Miracles, unfortunately, could not be always happening, whilst Madame's
ill-humor still continued. In a week's time, matters had reached such a
point, that the king could no longer look at La Valliere without a look
full of suspicion crossing his own. Whenever a promenade was proposed,
Madame, in order to avoid the recurrence of similar scenes to that of the
thunder-storm, or the royal oak, had a variety of indispositions ready
prepared; and, thanks to them, she was unable to go out, and her maids of
honor were obliged to remain indoors also. There was not the slightest
chance of means of paying a nocturnal visit; for in this respect the king
had, on the very first occasion, experienced a severe check, which
happened in the following manner. As at Fontainebleau, he had taken
Saint-Aignan with him one evening when he wished to pay La Valliere a
visit; but he had found no one but Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente, who
had begun to call out "Fire!" and "Thieves!" in such a manner that a
perfect legion of chamber-maids, attendants, and pages, ran to her
assistance; so that Saint-Aignan, who had remained behind in order to
save the honor of his royal master, who had fled precipitately, was
obliged to submit to a severe scolding from the queen-mother, as well as
from Madame herself. In addition, he had, the next morning, received two
challenges from the De Mortemart family, and the king had been obliged to
interfere. This mistake had been owing to the circumstance of Madame
having suddenly ordered a change in the apartments of her maids of honor,
and directed La Valliere and Montalais to sleep in her own cabinet. No
gateway, therefore, was any longer open - not even communication by
letter; to write under the eyes of so ferocious an Argus as Madame, whose
temper and disposition were so uncertain, was to run the risk of exposure
to the greatest danger; and it can well be conceived into what a state of
continuous irritation, and ever increasing anger, all these petty
annoyances threw the young lion. The king almost tormented himself to
death endeavoring to discover a means of communication; and, as he did
not think proper to call in the aid of Malicorne or D'Artagnan, the means
were not discovered at all. Malicorne had, indeed, occasional brilliant
flashes of imagination, with which he tried to inspire the king with
confidence; but, whether from shame or suspicion, the king, who had at
first begun to nibble at the bait, soon abandoned the hook. In this way,
for instance, one evening, while the king was crossing the garden, and
looking up at Madame's windows, Malicorne stumbled over a ladder lying
beside a border of box, and said to Manicamp, then walking with him
behind the king, "Did you not see that I just now stumbled against a
ladder, and was nearly thrown down?"

"No," said Manicamp, as usual very absent-minded, "but it appears you did
not fall."

"That doesn't matter; but it is not on that account the less dangerous to
leave ladders lying about in that manner."

"True, one might hurt one's self, especially when troubled with fits of
absence of mind."

"I don't mean that; what I did mean, was that it is dangerous to allow
ladders to lie about so near the windows of the maids of honor." Louis
started imperceptibly.

"Why so?" inquired Manicamp.

"Speak louder," whispered Malicorne, as he touched him with his arm.

"Why so?" said Manicamp, louder. The king listened.

"Because, for instance," said Malicorne, "a ladder nineteen feet high is
just the height of the cornice of those windows." Manicamp, instead of
answering, was dreaming of something else.

"Ask me, can't you, what windows I mean," whispered Malicorne.

"But what windows are you referring to?" said Manicamp, aloud.

"The windows of Madame's apartments."


"Oh! I don't say that any one would ever venture to go up a ladder into
Madame's room; but in Madame's cabinet, merely separated by a partition,
sleep two exceedingly pretty girls, Mesdemoiselles de la Valliere and de

"By a partition?" said Manicamp.

"Look; you see how brilliantly lighted Madame's apartments are - well, do
you see those two windows?"


"And that window close to the others, but more dimly lighted?"


"Well, that is the room of the maids of honor. Look, there is
Mademoiselle de la Valliere opening the window. Ah! how many soft things
could an enterprising lover say to her, if he only suspected that there
was lying here a ladder nineteen feet long, which would just reach the

"But she is not alone; you said Mademoiselle de Montalais is with her."

"Mademoiselle de Montalais counts for nothing; she is her oldest friend,
and exceedingly devoted to her - a positive well, into which can be
thrown all sorts of secrets one might wish to get rid of."

The king did not lose a single syllable of this conversation. Malicorne
even remarked that his majesty slackened his pace, in order to give him
time to finish. So, when they arrived at the door, Louis dismissed every
one, with the exception of Malicorne - a circumstance which excited no
surprise, for it was known that the king was in love; and they suspected
he was going to compose some verses by moonlight; and, although there was
no moon that evening, the king might, nevertheless, have some verses to
compose. Every one, therefore, took his leave; and, immediately
afterwards, the king turned towards Malicorne, who respectfully waited
until his majesty should address him. "What were you saying, just now,
about a ladder, Monsieur Malicorne?" he asked.

"Did I say anything about ladders, sire?" said Malicorne, looking up, as
if in search of words which had flown away.

"Yes, of a ladder nineteen feet long."

"Oh, yes, sire, I remember; but I spoke to M. Manicamp, and I should not
have said a word had I known your majesty was near enough to hear us."

"And why would you not have said a word?"

"Because I should not have liked to get the gardener into a scrape who
left it there - poor fellow!"

"Don't make yourself uneasy on that account. What is this ladder like?"

"If your majesty wishes to see it, nothing is easier, for there it is."

"In that box hedge?"


"Show it to me."

Malicorne turned back, and led the king up to the ladder, saying, "This
is it, sire."

"Pull it this way a little."

When Malicorne had brought the ladder on to the gravel walk, the king
began to step its whole length. "Hum!" he said; "you say it is nineteen
feet long?"

"Yes, sire."

"Nineteen feet - that is rather long; I hardly believe it can be so long
as that."

"You cannot judge very correctly with the ladder in that position, sire.
If it were upright, against a tree or a wall, for instance, you would be
better able to judge, because the comparison would assist you a good

"Oh! it does not matter, M. Malicorne; but I can hardly believe that the
ladder is nineteen feet high."

"I know how accurate your majesty's glance is, and yet I would wager."

The king shook his head. "There is one unanswerable means of verifying
it," said Malicorne.

"What is that?"

"Every one knows, sire, that the ground-floor of the palace is eighteen
feet high."

"True, that is very well known."

"Well, sire, if I place the ladder against the wall, we shall be able to


Malicorne took up the ladder, like a feather, and placed it upright
against the wall. And, in order to try the experiment, he chose, or
chance, perhaps, directed him to choose, the very window of the cabinet
where La Valliere was. The ladder just reached the edge of the cornice,
that is to say, the sill of the window; so that, by standing upon the
last round but one of the ladder, a man of about the middle height, as
the king was, for instance, could easily talk with those who might be in
the room. Hardly had the ladder been properly placed, when the king,
dropping the assumed part he had been playing in the comedy, began to
ascend the rounds of the ladder, which Malicorne held at the bottom. But
hardly had he completed half the distance when a patrol of Swiss guards
appeared in the garden, and advanced straight towards them. The king
descended with the utmost precipitation, and concealed himself among the
trees. Malicorne at once perceived that he must offer himself as a
sacrifice; for if he, too, were to conceal himself, the guard would
search everywhere until they had found either himself or the king,
perhaps both. It would be far better, therefore, that he alone should be
discovered. And, consequently, Malicorne hid himself so clumsily that he
was the only one arrested. As soon as he was arrested, Malicorne was
taken to the guard-house, and there he declared who he was, and was
immediately recognized. In the meantime, by concealing himself first
behind one clump of trees and then behind another, the king reached the
side door of his apartment, very much humiliated, and still more
disappointed. More than that, the noise made in arresting Malicorne had
drawn La Valliere and Montalais to their window; and even Madame herself
had appeared at her own, with a pair of wax candles, one in each hand,
clamorously asking what was the matter.

In the meantime, Malicorne sent for D'Artagnan, who did not lose a moment
in hurrying to him. But it was in vain he attempted to make him
understand his reasons, and in vain also that D'Artagnan did understand
them; and, further, it was equally in vain that both their sharp and
intuitive minds endeavored to give another turn to the adventure; there
was no other resource left for Malicorne but to let it be supposed that
he had wished to enter Mademoiselle de Montalais's apartment, as Saint-
Aignan had passed for having wished to force Mademoiselle de Tonnay-
Charente's door. Madame was inflexible; in the first place, because, if
Malicorne had, in fact, wished to enter her apartment at night through
the window, and by means of the ladder, in order to see Montalais, it was
a punishable offense on Malicorne's part, and he must be punished
accordingly; and, in the second place, if Malicorne, instead of acting in
his own name, had acted as an intermediary between La Valliere and a
person whose name it was superfluous to mention, his crime was in that
case even greater, since love, which is an excuse for everything, did not
exist in the case as an excuse. Madame therefore made the greatest
possible disturbance about the matter, and obtained his dismissal from
Monsieur's household, without reflecting, poor blind creature, that both
Malicorne and Montalais held her fast in their clutches in consequence of
her visit to De Guiche, and in a variety of other ways equally delicate.
Montalais, who was perfectly furious, wished to revenge herself
immediately, but Malicorne pointed out to her that the king's countenance
would repay them for all the disgraces in the world, and that it was a
great thing to have to suffer on his majesty's account.

Malicorne was perfectly right, and, therefore, although Montalais had the
spirit of ten women in her, he succeeded in bringing her round to his own
opinion. And we must not omit to state that the king helped them to
console themselves, for, in the first place, he presented Malicorne with
fifty thousand francs as a compensation for the post he had lost, and, in
the next place, he gave him an appointment in his own household,
delighted to have an opportunity of revenging himself in such a manner
upon Madame for all she had made him and La Valliere suffer. But as
Malicorne could no longer carry significant handkerchiefs for him or
plant convenient ladders, the royal lover was in a terrible state. There
seemed to be no hope, therefore, of ever getting near La Valliere again,
so long as she should remain at the Palais Royal. All the dignities and
all the money in the world could not remedy that. Fortunately, however,
Malicorne was on the lookout, and this so successfully that he met
Montalais, who, to do her justice, it must be admitted, was doing her
best to meet Malicorne. "What do you do during the night in Madame's
apartment?" he asked the young girl.

"Why, I go to sleep, of course," she replied.

"But it is very wrong to sleep; it can hardly be possible that, with the
pain you are suffering, you can manage to do so."

"And what am I suffering from, may I ask?"

"Are you not in despair at my absence?"

"Of course not, since you have received fifty thousand francs and an
appointment in the king's household."

"That is a matter of no moment; you are exceedingly afflicted at not
seeing me as you used to see me formerly, and more than all, you are in
despair at my having lost Madame's confidence; come now, is not that

"Perfectly true."

"Very good; your distress of mind prevents you sleeping at night, and so
you sob, and sigh, and blow your nose ten times every minute as loud as

"But, my dear Malicorne, Madame cannot endure the slightest noise near

"I know that perfectly well; of course she can't endure anything; and so,
I tell you, when she hears your deep distress, she will turn you out of
her rooms without a moment's delay."

"I understand."

"Very fortunate you _do_."

"Well, and what will happen next?"

"The next thing that will happen will be, that La Valliere, finding
herself alone without you, will groan and utter such loud lamentations,
that she will exhibit despair enough for two."

"In that case she will be put into _another_ room, don't you see?"

"Precisely so."

"Yes, but which?"


"Yes, that will puzzle you to say, Mr. Inventor-General."

"Not at all; whenever and whatever the room may be, it will always be
preferable to Madame's own room."

"That is true."

"Very good, so begin your lamentations to-night."

"I certainly will not fail to do so."

"And give La Valliere a hint also."

"Oh! don't fear her, she cries quite enough already to herself."

"Very well! all she has to do is cry out loudly."

And they separated.

Chapter XXXIII:
Which Treats of Carpentry Operations, and Furnishes Details upon the Mode
of Constructing Staircases.

The advice which had been given to Montalais was communicated by her to
La Valliere, who could not but acknowledge that it was by no means
deficient in judgment, and who, after a certain amount of resistance,
rising rather from timidity than indifference to the project, resolved to
put it into execution. This story of the two girls weeping, and filling
Madame's bedroom with the noisiest lamentations, was Malicorne's _chef-
d'oeuvre_. As nothing is so probable as improbability, so natural as
romance, this kind of Arabian Nights story succeeded perfectly with
Madame. The first thing she did was to send Montalais away, and then,
three days, or rather three nights afterwards, she had La Valliere
removed. She gave the latter one of the small rooms on the top story,
situated immediately over the apartments allotted to the gentlemen of
Monsieur's suite. One story only, that is to say, a mere flooring
separated the maids of honor from the officers and gentlemen of her
husband's household. A private staircase, which was placed under Madame
de Navailles's surveillance, was the only means of communication. For
greater safety, Madame de Navailles, who had heard of his majesty's
previous attempts, had the windows of the rooms and the openings of the
chimneys carefully barred. There was, therefore, every possible security
provided for Mademoiselle de la Valliere, whose room now bore more
resemblance to a cage than to anything else. When Mademoiselle de la
Valliere was in her own room, and she was there very frequently, for
Madame scarcely ever had any occasion for her services, since she once
knew she was safe under Madame de Navailles's inspection, Mademoiselle de
la Valliere had no better means of amusing herself than looking through
the bars of her windows. It happened, therefore, that one morning, as
she was looking out as usual, she perceived Malicorne at one of the
windows exactly opposite to her own. He held a carpenter's rule in his
hand, was surveying the buildings, and seemed to be adding up some
figures on paper. La Valliere recognized Malicorne and nodded to him;
Malicorne, in his turn, replied by a formal bow, and disappeared from the
window. She was surprised at this marked coolness, so different from his
usual unfailing good-humor, but she remembered that he had lost his
appointment on her account, and that he could hardly be very amiably
disposed towards her, since, in all probability, she would never be in a
position to make him any recompense for what he had lost. She knew how
to forgive offenses, and with still more readiness could she sympathize
with misfortune. La Valliere would have asked Montalais her opinion, if
she had been within hearing, but she was absent, it being the hour she
commonly devoted to her own correspondence. Suddenly La Valliere
observed something thrown from the window where Malicorne had been
standing, pass across the open space which separated the iron bars, and
roll upon the floor. She advanced with no little curiosity towards this
object, and picked it up; it was a wooden reel for silk, only, in this
instance, instead of silk, a piece of paper was rolled round it. La
Valliere unrolled it and read as follows:

"MADEMOISELLE, - I am exceedingly anxious to learn two things: the first
is, to know if the flooring of your apartment is wood or brick; the
second, to ascertain at what distance your bed is placed from the
window. Forgive my importunity, and will you be good enough to send me
an answer by the same way you receive this letter - that is to say, by
means of the silk winder; only, instead of throwing into my room, as I
have thrown it into yours, which will be too difficult for you to
attempt, have the goodness merely to let it fall. Believe me,
mademoiselle, your most humble, most respectful servant,
"Write the reply, if you please, upon the letter itself."

"Ah! poor fellow," exclaimed La Valliere, "he must have gone out of his
mind;" and she directed towards her correspondent - of whom she caught
but a faint glimpse, in consequence of the darkness of the room - a look
full of compassionate consideration. Malicorne understood her, and shook
his head, as if he meant to say, "No, no, I am not out of my mind; be
quite satisfied."

She smiled, as if still in doubt.

"No, no," he signified by a gesture, "my head is right," and pointed to
his head, then, after moving his hand like a man who writes very rapidly,
he put his hands together as if entreating her to write.

La Valliere, even if he were mad, saw no impropriety in doing what
Malicorne requested her; she took a pencil and wrote "Wood," and then
walked slowly from her window to her bed, and wrote, "Six paces," and
having done this, she looked out again at Malicorne, who bowed to her,
signifying that he was about to descend. La Valliere understood that it
was to pick up the silk winder. She approached the window, and, in
accordance with Malicorne's instructions, let it fall. The winder was
still rolling along the flag-stones as Malicorne started after it,
overtook and picked it up, and beginning to peel it as a monkey would do
with a nut, he ran straight towards M. de Saint-Aignan's apartment.
Saint-Aignan had chosen, or rather solicited, that his rooms might be as
near the king as possible, as certain plants seek the sun's rays in order
to develop themselves more luxuriantly. His apartment consisted of two
rooms, in that portion of the palace occupied by Louis XIV. himself. M.
de Saint-Aignan was very proud of this proximity, which afforded easy
access to his majesty, and, more than that, the favor of occasional
unexpected meetings. At the moment we are now referring to, he was
engaged in having both his rooms magnificently carpeted, with expectation
of receiving the honor of frequent visits from the king; for his majesty,
since his passion for La Valliere, had chosen Saint-Aignan as his
confidant, and could not, in fact, do without him, either night or day.
Malicorne introduced himself to the comte, and met with no difficulties,
because he had been favorably noticed by the king; and also, because the
credit which one man may happen to enjoy is always a bait for others.
Saint-Aignan asked his visitor if he brought any news with him.

"Yes; great news," replied the latter.

"Ah! ah!" said Saint-Aignan, "what is it?"

"Mademoiselle de la Valliere has changed her quarters."

"What do you mean?" said Saint-Aignan, opening his eyes very wide. "She
was living in the same apartments as Madame."

"Precisely so; but Madame got tired of her proximity, and has installed
her in a room which is situated exactly above your future apartment."

"What! up there," exclaimed Saint-Aignan, with surprise, and pointing at
the floor above him with his finger.

"No," said Malicorne, "yonder," indicating the building opposite.

"What do you mean, then, by saying that her room is above my apartment?"

"Because I am sure that your apartment _ought_, providentially, to be
under Mademoiselle de la Valliere's room."

Saint-Aignan, at this remark, gave poor Malicorne a look, similar to one
of those La Valliere had already given a quarter of an hour before, that
is to say, he thought he had lost his senses.

"Monsieur," said Malicorne to him, "I wish to answer what you are
thinking about."

"What do you mean by 'what I am thinking about'?"

"My reason is, that you have not clearly understood what I want to

"I admit it."

"Well, then, you are aware that underneath the apartments set for
Madame's maids of honor, the gentlemen in attendance on the king and on
Monsieur are lodged."

"Yes, I know that, since Manicamp, De Wardes, and others are living

"Precisely. Well, monsieur, admire the singularity of the circumstance;
the two rooms destined for M. de Guiche are exactly the very two rooms
situated underneath those which Mademoiselle de Montalais and
Mademoiselle de la Valliere occupy."

"Well; what then?"

"'What then,' do you say? Why, these two rooms are empty, since M. de
Guiche is now lying wounded at Fontainebleau."

"I assure you, my dear fellow, I cannot grasp your meaning."

"Well! if I had the happiness to call myself Saint-Aignan, I should guess

"And what would you do then?"

"I should at once change the rooms I am occupying here, for those which
M. de Guiche is not using yonder."

"Can you suppose such a thing?" said Saint-Aignan, disdainfully. "What!
abandon the chief post of honor, the proximity to the king, a privilege
conceded only to princes of the blood, to dukes, and peers! Permit me to
tell you, my dear Monsieur de Malicorne, that you must be out of your

"Monsieur," replied the young man, seriously, "you commit two mistakes.
My name is Malicorne, simply; and I am in perfect possession of all my
senses." Then, drawing a paper from his pocket, he said, "Listen to what
I am going to say; and afterwards, I will show you this paper."

"I am listening," said Saint-Aignan.

"You know that Madame looks after La Valliere as carefully as Argus did
after the nymph Io."

"I do."

"You know that the king has sought for an opportunity, but uselessly, of
speaking to the prisoner, and that neither you nor myself have yet
succeeded in procuring him this piece of good fortune."

"You certainly ought to know something about the subject, my poor
Malicorne," said Saint-Aignan, smiling.

"Very good; what do you suppose would happen to the man whose imagination
devised some means of bringing the lovers together?"

"Oh! the king would set no bounds to his gratitude."

"Let me ask you, then, M. de Saint-Aignan, whether you would not be
curious to taste a little of this royal gratitude?"

"Certainly," replied Saint-Aignan, "any favor of my master, as a
recognition of the proper discharge of my duty, would assuredly be most

"In that case, look at this paper, monsieur le comte."

"What is it - a plan?"

"Yes; a plan of M. de Guiche's two rooms, which, in all probability, will
soon be your two rooms."

"Oh! no, whatever may happen."

"Why so?"

"Because my rooms are the envy of too many gentlemen, to whom I certainly
shall not give them up; M. de Roquelaure, for instance, M. de la Ferte,
and M. de Dangeau, would all be anxious to get them."

"In that case I shall leave you, monsieur le comte, and I shall go and
offer to one of those gentlemen the plan I have just shown you, together
with the advantages annexed to it."

"But why do you not keep them for yourself?" inquired Saint-Aignan,

"Because the king would never do me the honor of paying me a visit
openly, whilst he would readily go and see any one of those gentlemen."

"What! the king would go and see any one of those gentlemen?"

"Go! most certainly he would ten times instead of once. Is it possible
you can ask me if the king would go to an apartment which would bring him
nearer to Mademoiselle de la Valliere?"

"Yes, indeed, delightfully near her, with a floor between them."

Malicorne unfolded the piece of paper which had been wrapped round the
bobbin. "Monsieur le comte," he said, "have the goodness to observe that
the flooring of Mademoiselle de la Valliere's room is merely a wooden


"Well! all you would have to do would be to get hold of a journeyman
carpenter, lock him up in your apartments, without letting him know where
you have taken him to, and let him make a hole in your ceiling, and
consequently in the flooring of Mademoiselle de la Valliere's room."

"Good heavens!" exclaimed Saint-Aignan, as if dazzled.

"What is the matter?" said Malicorne.

"Nothing, except that you have hit upon a singular, bold idea, monsieur."

"It will seem a very trifling one to the king, I assure you."

"Lovers never think of the risk they run."

"What danger do you apprehend, monsieur le comte?"

"Why, effecting such an opening as that will make a terrible noise: it
could be heard all over the palace."

"Oh! monsieur le comte, I am quite sure that the carpenter I shall select
will not make the slightest noise in the world. He will saw an opening
three feet square, with a saw covered with tow, and no one, not even
those adjoining, will know that he is at work."

"My dear Monsieur Malicorne, you astound, you positively bewilder me."

"To continue," replied Malicorne, quietly, "in the room, the ceiling of
which you will have cut through, you will put up a staircase, which will
either allow Mademoiselle de la Valliere to descend into your room, or
the king to ascend into Mademoiselle de la Valliere's room."

"But the staircase will be seen."

"No; for in your room it will be hidden by a partition, over which you
will throw a tapestry similar to that which covers the rest of the
apartment; and in Mademoiselle de la Valliere's room it will not be seen,
for the trapdoor, which will be a part of the flooring itself, will be
made to open under the bed."

"Of course," said Saint-Aignan, whose eyes began to sparkle with delight.

"And now, monsieur le comte, there is no occasion to make you admit that
the king will frequently come to the room where such a staircase is
constructed. I think that M. Dangeau, particularly, will be struck by my
idea, and I shall now go and explain to him."

"But, my dear Monsieur Malicorne, you forget that you spoke to me about
it the first, and that I have consequently the right of priority."

"Do you wish for the preference?"

"Do I wish it? Of course I do."

"The fact is, Monsieur de Saint-Aignan, I am presenting you with a
Jacob's ladder, which is better than the promise of an additional step in
the peerage - perhaps, even with a good estate to accompany your dukedom."

"At least," replied Saint-Aignan, "it will give me an opportunity of
showing the king that he is not mistaken in occasionally calling me his
friend; an opportunity, dear M. Malicorne, for which I am indebted to

"And which you will not forget to remember?" inquired Malicorne, smiling.

"Nothing will delight me more, monsieur."

"But I am not the king's friend; I am simply his attendant."

"Yes; and if you imagine that that staircase is as good as a dukedom for
myself, I think there will certainly be letters of nobility at the top of
it for you."

Malicorne bowed.

"All I have to do now," said Saint-Aignan, "is to move as soon as

"I do not think the king will object to it. Ask his permission, however."

"I will go and see him this very moment."

"And I will run and get the carpenter I was speaking of."

"When will he be here?"

"This very evening."

"Do not forget your precautions."

"He shall be brought with his eyes bandaged."

"And I will send you one of my carriages."

"Without arms."

"And one of my servants without livery. But stay, what will La Valliere
say if she sees what is going on?"

"Oh! I can assure you she will be very much interested in the operation,
and I am equally sure that if the king has not courage enough to ascend
to her room, she will have sufficient curiosity to come down to him."

"We will live in hope," said Saint-Aignan; "and now I am off to his
majesty. At what time will the carpenter be here?"

"At eight o'clock."

"How long do you suppose he will take to make this opening?"

"About a couple of hours; only afterwards he must have sufficient time to
construct what may be called the hyphen between the two rooms. One night
and a portion of the following day will do; we must not reckon upon less
than two days, including putting up the staircase."

"Two days, that is a very long time."

"Nay; when one undertakes to open up communications with paradise itself,
we must at least take care that the approaches are respectable."

"Quite right; so farewell for a short time, dear M. Malicorne. I shall
begin to remove the day after to-morrow, in the evening."

Chapter XXXIV:
The Promenade by Torchlight.

Saint-Aignan, delighted with what he had just heard, and rejoiced at what
the future foreshadowed for him, bent his steps towards De Guiche's two
rooms. He who, a quarter of an hour previously, would hardly yield up
his own rooms for a million francs, was now ready to expend a million, if
it were necessary, upon the acquisition of the two happy rooms he coveted
so eagerly. But he did not meet with so many obstacles. M. de Guiche
did not yet know where he was to lodge, and, besides, was still too far
ill to trouble himself about his lodgings; and so Saint-Aignan obtained
De Guiche's two rooms without difficulty. As for M. Dangeau, he was so
immeasurably delighted, that he did not even give himself the trouble to
think whether Saint-Aignan had any particular reason for removing.
Within an hour after Saint-Aignan's new resolution, he was in possession
of the two rooms; and ten minutes later Malicorne entered, followed by
the upholsterers. During this time, the king asked for Saint-Aignan; the
valet ran to his late apartments and found M. Dangeau there; Dangeau sent
him on to De Guiche's, and Saint-Aignan was found there; but a little
delay had of course taken place, and the king had already exhibited once
or twice evident signs of impatience, when Saint-Aignan entered his royal
master's presence, quite out of breath.

"You, too, abandon me, then," said Louis XIV., in a similar tone of
lamentation to that with which Caesar, eighteen hundred years previously,
had pronounced the _Et tu quoque_.

"Sire, I am far from abandoning you, for, on the contrary, I am busily
occupied in changing my lodgings."

"What do you mean? I thought you had finished moving three days ago."

"Yes, sire. But I don't find myself comfortable where I am, so I am
going to change to the opposite side of the building."

"Was I not right when I said you were abandoning me?" exclaimed the
king. "Oh! this exceeds all endurance. But so it is: there was only one
woman for whom my heart cared at all, and all my family is leagued
together to tear her from me; and my friend, to whom I confided my
distress, and who helped me to bear up under it, has become wearied of my
complaints and is going to leave me without even asking my permission."

Saint-Aignan began to laugh. The king at once guessed there must be some
mystery in this want of respect. "What is it?" cried the king, full of

"This, sire, that the friend whom the king calumniates is going to try if
he cannot restore to his sovereign the happiness he has lost."

"Are you going to let me see La Valliere?" said Louis XIV.

"I cannot say so, positively, but I hope so."

"How - how? - tell me that, Saint-Aignan. I wish to know what your
project is, and to help you with all my power."

"Sire," replied Saint-Aignan, "I cannot, even myself, tell very well how
I must set about attaining success; but I have every reason to believe
that from to-morrow - "

"To-morrow, do you say! What happiness! But why are you changing your

"In order to serve your majesty to better advantage."

"How can your moving serve me?"

"Do you happen to know where the two rooms destined for De Guiche are


"Well, your majesty now knows where I am going."

"Very likely; but that does not help me."

"What! is it possible that you do not understand, sire, that above De
Guiche's lodgings are two rooms, one of which is Mademoiselle
Montalais's, and the other - "

"La Valliere's, is it not so, Saint-Aignan? Oh! yes, yes. It is a
brilliant idea, Saint-Aignan, a true friend's idea, a poet's idea. By
bringing me nearer her from whom the world seems to unite to separate me
- you are far more than Pylades was for Orestes, or Patroclus for

"Sire," said Aignan, with a smile, "I question whether, if your majesty
were to know my projects in their full extent, you would continue to
pronounce such a pompous eulogium upon me. Ah! sire, I know how very
different are the epithets which certain Puritans of the court will not
fail to apply to me when they learn of what I intend to do for your

"Saint-Aignan, I am dying with impatience; I am in a perfect fever; I
shall never be able to wait until to-morrow - to-morrow! why, to-morrow
is an eternity!"

"And yet, sire, I shall require you, if you please, to go out presently
and divert your impatience by a good walk."

"With you - agreed; we will talk about your projects, we will talk of

"Nay, sire; I remain here."

"Whom shall I go out with, then?"

"With the queen and all the ladies of the court."

"Nothing shall induce me to do that, Saint-Aignan."

"And yet, sire, you must."

"_Must?_ - no, no - a thousand times no! I will never again expose
myself to the horrible torture of being close to her, of seeing her, of
touching her dress as I pass by her, and yet not be able to say a word to
her. No, I renounce a torture which you suppose will bring me happiness,
but which consumes and eats away my very life; to see her in the presence
of strangers, and not to tell her that I love her, when my whole being
reveals my affection and betrays me to every one; no! I have sworn never
to do it again, and I will keep my oath."

"Yet, sire, pray listen to me for a moment."

"I will listen to nothing, Saint-Aignan."

"In that case, I will continue; it is most urgent, sire - pray understand
me, it is of the greatest importance - that Madame and her maids of honor
should be absent for two hours from the palace."

"I cannot understand your meaning at all, Saint-Aignan."

"It is hard for me to give my sovereign directions what to do; but under
the circumstances I do give you directions, sire; and either a hunting or
a promenade party must be got up."

"But if I were to do what you wish, it would be a caprice, a mere whim.
In displaying such an impatient humor I show my whole court that I have
no control over my own feelings. Do not people already say that I am
dreaming of the conquest of the world, but that I ought previously to
begin by achieving a conquest over myself?"

"Those who say so, sire, are as insolent as they would like to be thought
facetious; but whomever they may be, if your majesty prefers to listen to
them, I have nothing further to say. In such a case, that which we have
fixed to take place to-morrow must be postponed indefinitely."

"Nay, Saint-Aignan, I will go out this evening - I will go by torchlight
to Saint-Germain: I will breakfast there to-morrow, and will return to
Paris by three o'clock. Will that do?"


"In that case I will set out this evening at eight o'clock."

"Your majesty has fixed upon the exact minute."

"And you positively will tell me nothing more?"

"It is because I have nothing more to tell you. Industry counts for
something in this world, sire; but still, chance plays so important a
part in it that I have been accustomed to leave her the sidewalk,
confident that she will manage so as to always take the street."

"Well, I abandon myself entirely to you."

"And you are quite right."

Comforted in this manner, the king went immediately to Madame, to whom he
announced the intended expedition. Madame fancied at the first moment
that she saw in this unexpectedly arranged party a plot of the king's to
converse with La Valliere, either on the road under cover of the
darkness, or in some other way, but she took especial care not to show
any of her fancies to her brother-in-law, and accepted the invitation
with a smile upon her lips. She gave directions aloud that her maids of
honor should accompany her, secretly intending in the evening to take the
most effectual steps to interfere with his majesty's attachment. Then,
when she was alone, and at the very moment the poor lover, who had issued
orders for the departure, was reveling in the idea that Mademoiselle de
la Valliere would form one of the party, - luxuriating in the sad
happiness persecuted lovers enjoy of realizing through the sense of sight
alone all the transports of possession, - Madame, who was surrounded by
her maids of honor, was saying: - "Two ladies will be enough for me this
evening, Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente and Mademoiselle de Montalais."

La Valliere had anticipated her own omission, and was prepared for it:
but persecution had rendered her courageous, and she did not give Madame
the pleasure of seeing on her face the impression of the shock her heart
received. On the contrary, smiling with that ineffable gentleness which
gave an angelic expression to her features - "In that case, Madame, I
shall be at liberty this evening, I suppose?" she said.

"Of course."

"I shall be able to employ it, then, in progressing with that piece of
tapestry which your highness has been good enough to notice, and which I
have already had the honor of offering to you."

And having made a respectful obeisance she withdrew to her own apartment;
Mesdemoiselles de Tonnay-Charente and de Montalais did the same. The
rumor of the intended promenade soon spread all over the palace; ten
minutes afterwards Malicorne learned Madame's resolution, and slipped
under Montalais's door a note, in the following terms:

"L. V. must positively pass the night the night with Madame."

Montalais, in pursuance of the compact she had entered into, began by
burning the letter, and then sat down to reflect. Montalais was a girl
full of expedients, and so she very soon arranged her plan. Towards five
o'clock, which was the hour for her to repair to Madame's apartment, she
was running across the courtyard, and had reached within a dozen paces of
a group of officers, when she uttered a cry, fell gracefully on one knee,
rose again, with difficulty, and walked on limpingly. The gentlemen ran
forward to her assistance; Montalais had sprained her foot. Faithful to
the discharge of her duty, she insisted, however, notwithstanding her
accident, upon going to Madame's apartments.

"What is the matter, and why do you limp so?" she inquired; "I mistook
you for La Valliere."

Montalais related how it had happened, that in hurrying on, in order to
arrive as quickly as possible, she had sprained her foot. Madame seemed
to pity her, and wished to have a surgeon sent for immediately, but she,
assuring her that there was nothing really serious in the accident, said:
"My only regret, Madame, is, that it will preclude my attendance on you,
and I should have begged Mademoiselle de la Valliere to take my place
with your royal highness, but - " seeing that Madame frowned, she added
"I have not done so."

"Why did you not do so?" inquired Madame.

"Because poor La Valliere seemed so happy to have her liberty for a whole
evening and night too, that I did not feel courageous enough to ask her
to take my place."

"What, is she so delighted as that?" inquired madame, struck by these

"She is wild with delight; she, who is always so melancholy, was singing
like a bird. Besides, you highness knows how much she detests going out,
and also that her character has a spice of wildness in it."

"So!" thought Madame, "this extreme delight hardly seems natural to me."

"She has already made all her preparations for dining in her own room
_tete-a-tete_ with one of her favorite books. And then, as your highness
has six other young ladies who would be delighted to accompany you, I did
not make my proposal to La Valliere." Madame did not say a word in reply.

"Have I acted properly?" continued Montalais, with a slight fluttering of
the heart, seeing the little success that seemed to attend the _ruse de
guerre_ which she had relied upon with so much confidence that she had
not thought it even necessary to try and find another. "Does Madame
approve of what I have done?" she continued.

Madame was reflecting that the king could very easily leave Saint-Germain
during the night, and that, as it was only four leagues and a half from
Paris to Saint-Germain, he might readily be in Paris in an hour's time.
"Tell me," she said, "whether La Valliere, when she heard of your
accident, offered at least to bear you company?"

"Oh! she does not yet know of my accident; but even did she know of it, I
most certainly should not ask her to do anything that might interfere
with her own plans. I think she wishes this evening to realize quietly
by herself that amusement of the late king, when he said to M. de Cinq-
Mars, 'Let us amuse ourselves by doing nothing, and making ourselves

Madame felt convinced that some mysterious love adventure lurked behind
this strong desire for solitude. The secret _might_ be Louis's return
during the night; it could not be doubted any longer La Valliere had been
informed of his intended return, and that was the reason for her delight
at having to remain behind at the Palais Royal. It was a plan settled
and arranged beforehand.

"I will not be their dupe though," said Madame, and she took a decisive
step. "Mademoiselle de Montalais," she said, "will you have the goodness
to inform your friend, Mademoiselle de la Valliere, that I am exceedingly
sorry to disarrange her projects of solitude, but that instead of
becoming _ennuyee_ by remaining behind alone as she wished, she will be
good enough to accompany us to Saint-Germain and get _ennuyee_ there."

"Ah! poor La Valliere," said Montalais, compassionately, but with her
heart throbbing with delight; "oh, Madame, could there not be some
means - "

"Enough," said Madame; "I desire it. I prefer Mademoiselle la Baume le
Blanc's society to that of any one else. Go, and send her to me, and
take care of your foot."

Montalais did not wait for the order to be repeated; she returned to her
room, almost forgetting to feign lameness, wrote an answer to Malicorne,
and slipped it under the carpet. The answer simply said: "She shall." A
Spartan could not have written more laconically.

"By this means," thought Madame, "I will look narrowly after all on the
road; she shall sleep near me during the night, and his majesty must be
very clever if he can exchange a single word with Mademoiselle de la

La Valliere received the order to set off with the same indifferent
gentleness with which she had received the order to play Cinderella.
But, inwardly, her delight was extreme, and she looked upon this change
in the princess's resolution as a consolation which Providence had sent
her. With less penetration than Madame possessed, she attributed all to
chance. While every one, with the exception of those in disgrace, of
those who were ill, and those who were suffering from sprains, were being
driven towards Saint-Germain, Malicorne smuggled his workman into the
palace in one of M. de Saint-Aignan's carriages, and led him into the
room corresponding to La Valliere's. The man set to work with a will,
tempted by the splendid reward which had been promised him. As the very
best tools and implements had been selected from the reserve stock
belonging to the engineers attached to the king's household - and among
others, a saw with teeth so sharp and well tempered that it was able,
under water even, to cut through oaken joists as hard as iron - the work
in question advanced very rapidly, and a square portion of the ceiling,
taken from between two of the joists, fell into the arms of the delighted
Saint-Aignan, Malicorne, the workman, and a confidential valet, the
latter being one brought into the world to see and hear everything, but
to repeat nothing. In accordance with a new plan indicated by Malicorne,
the opening was effected in an angle of the room - and for this reason.
As there was no dressing-closet adjoining La Valliere's room, she had
solicited, and had that very morning obtained, a large screen intended to
serve as a partition. The screen that had been allotted her was
perfectly sufficient to conceal the opening, which would, besides, be
hidden by all the artifices skilled cabinet-makers would have at their
command. The opening having been made, the workman glided between the
joists, and found himself in La Valliere's room. When there, he cut a
square opening in the flooring, and out of the boards he manufactured a
trap so accurately fitting into the opening that the most practised eye
could hardly detect the necessary interstices made by its lines of
juncture with the floor. Malicorne had provided for everything: a ring
and a couple of hinges which had been bought for the purpose, were
affixed to the trap-door; and a small circular stair-case, packed in
sections, had been bought ready made by the industrious Malicorne, who
had paid two thousand francs for it. It was higher than what was
required, but the carpenter reduced the number of steps, and it was found
to suit exactly. This staircase, destined to receive so illustrious a
burden, was merely fastened to the wall by a couple of iron clamps, and
its base was fixed into the floor of the comte's room by two iron pegs
screwed down tightly, so that the king, and all his cabinet councilors
too, might pass up and down the staircase without any fear. Every blow
of the hammer fell upon a thick pad or cushion, and the saw was not used
until the handle had been wrapped in wool, and the blade steeped in oil.
The noisiest part of the work, moreover, had taken place during the night
and early in the morning, that is to say, when La Valliere and Madame
were both absent. When, about two o'clock in the afternoon, the court
returned to the Palais Royal, La Valliere went up into her own room.
Everything was in its proper place - not the smallest particle of
sawdust, not the smallest chip, was left to bear witness to the violation
of her domicile. Saint-Aignan, however, wishing to do his utmost in
forwarding the work, had torn his fingers and his shirt too, and had
expended no ordinary amount of perspiration in the king's service. The
palms of his hands were covered with blisters, occasioned by his having
held the ladder for Malicorne. He had, moreover, brought up, one by one,
the seven pieces of the staircase, each consisting of two steps. In
fact, we can safely assert that, if the king had seen him so ardently at
work, his majesty would have sworn an eternal gratitude towards his
faithful attendant. As Malicorne anticipated, the workman had completely
finished the job in twenty-four hours; he received twenty-four louis, and
left, overwhelmed with delight, for he had gained in one day as much as
six months' hard work would have procured him. No one had the slightest
suspicion of what had taken place in the room under Mademoiselle de la
Valliere's apartment. But in the evening of the second day, at the very
moment La Valliere had just left Madame's circle and returned to her own
room, she heard a slight creaking sound in one corner. Astonished, she
looked to see whence it proceeded, and the noise began again. "Who is
there?" she said, in a tone of alarm.

"It is I, Louise," replied the well-known voice of the king.

"You! you!" cried the young girl, who for a moment fancied herself under
the influence of a dream. "But where? You, sire?"

"Here," replied the king, opening one of the folds of the screen, and
appearing like a ghost at the end of the room.

La Valliere uttered a loud cry, and fell trembling into an armchair, as
the king advanced respectfully towards her.

Chapter XXXV:
The Apparition.

La Valliere very soon recovered from her surprise, for, owing to his
respectful bearing, the king inspired her with more confidence by his
presence than his sudden appearance had deprived her of. But, as he
noticed that which made La Valliere most uneasy was the means by which he
had effected an entrance into her room, he explained to her the system of
the staircase concealed by the screen, and strongly disavowed the notion
of his being a supernatural appearance.

"Oh, sire!" said La Valliere, shaking her fair head with a most engaging
smile, "present or absent, you do not appear to my mind more at one time
than at another."

"Which means, Louise - "

"Oh, what you know so well, sire; that there is not one moment in which
the poor girl whose secret you surprised at Fontainebleau, and whom you
came to snatch from the foot of the cross itself, does not think of you."

"Louise, you overwhelm me with joy and happiness."

La Valliere smiled mournfully, and continued: "But, sire, have you
reflected that your ingenious invention could not be of the slightest
service to us?"

"Why so? Tell me, - I am waiting most anxiously."

"Because this room may be subject to being searched at any moment of the
day. Madame herself may, at any time, come here accidentally; my
companions run in at any moment they please. To fasten the door on the
inside, is to denounce myself as plainly as if I had written above, 'No
admittance, - the king is within!' Even now, sire, at this very moment,
there is nothing to prevent the door opening, and your majesty being seen

"In that case," said the king, laughingly, "I should indeed be taken for
a phantom, for no one can tell in what way I came here. Besides, it is
only spirits that can pass through brick walls, or floors and ceilings."

"Oh, sire, reflect for a moment how terrible the scandal would be!
Nothing equal to it could ever have been previously said about the maids
of honor, poor creatures! whom evil report, however, hardly ever spares."

"And your conclusion from all this, my dear Louise, - come, explain

"Alas! it is a hard thing to say - but your majesty must suppress
staircase plots, surprises and all; for the evil consequences which would
result from your being found here would be far greater than our happiness
in seeing each other."

"Well, Louise," replied the king, tenderly, "instead of removing this
staircase by which I have ascended, there is a far more simple means, of
which you have not thought."

"A means - another means!"

"Yes, another. Oh, you do not love me as I love you, Louise, since my
invention is quicker than yours."

She looked at the king, who held out his hand to her, which she took and
gently pressed between her own.

"You were saying," continued the king, "that I shall be detected coming
here, where any one who pleases can enter."

"Stay, sire; at this very moment, even while you are speaking about it, I
tremble with dread of your being discovered."

"But you would not be found out, Louise, if you were to descend the
staircase which leads to the room underneath."

"Oh, sire! what do you say?" cried Louise, in alarm.

"You do not quite understand me, Louise, since you get offended at my
very first word; first of all, do you know to whom the apartments
underneath belong?"

"To M. de Guiche, sire, I believe."

"Not at all; they are M. de Saint-Aignan's."

"Are you sure?" cried La Valliere; and this exclamation which escaped
from the young girl's joyous heart made the king's heart throb with

"Yes, to Saint-Aignan, _our friend_," he said.

"But, sire," returned La Valliere, "I cannot visit M. de Saint-Aignan's
rooms any more than I could M. de Guiche's. It is impossible

"And yet, Louise, I should have thought that, under the safe-conduct of
the king, you would venture anything."

"Under the safe-conduct of the king," she said, with a look full of

"You have faith in my word, I hope, Louise?"

"Yes, sire, when you are not present; but when you are present, - when
you speak to me, - when I look upon you, I have faith in nothing."

"What can possibly be done to reassure you?"

"It is scarcely respectful, I know, to doubt the king, but - for me - you
are _not_ the king."

"Thank Heaven! - I, at least, hope so most devoutly; you see how
anxiously I am trying to find or invent a means of removing all
difficulty. Stay; would the presence of a third person reassure you?"

"The presence of M. de Saint-Aignan would, certainly."

"Really, Louise, you wound me by your suspicions."

Louise did not answer, she merely looked steadfastly at him with that
clear, piercing gaze which penetrates the very heart, and said softly to
herself, "Alas! alas! it is not you of whom I am afraid, - it is not you
upon whom my doubts would fall."

"Well," said the king, sighing, "I agree; and M. de Saint-Aignan, who
enjoys the inestimable privilege of reassuring you, shall always be
present at our interviews, I promise you."

"You promise that, sire?"

"Upon my honor as a gentleman; and you, on your side - "

"Oh, wait, sire, that is not all yet; for such conversations ought, at
least, to have a reasonable motive of some kind for M. de Saint-Aignan."

"Dear Louise, every shade of delicacy of feeling is yours, and my only
study is to equal you on that point. It shall be just as you wish:
therefore our conversations shall have a reasonable motive, and I have
already hit upon one; so that from to-morrow, if you like - "


"Do you meant that that is not soon enough?" exclaimed the king,
caressing La Valliere's hand between his own."

At this moment the sound of steps was heard in the corridor.

"Sire! sire!" cried La Valliere, "some one is coming; do you hear? Oh,
fly! fly! I implore you."

The king made but one bound from the chair where he was sitting to his
hiding-place behind the screen. He had barely time; for as he drew one
of the folds before him, the handle of the door was turned, and Montalais
appeared at the threshold. As a matter of course she entered quite
naturally, and without any ceremony, for she knew perfectly well that to
knock at the door beforehand would be showing a suspicion towards La
Valliere which would be displeasing to her. She accordingly entered, and
after a rapid glance round the room, in the brief course of which she
observed two chairs very close to each other, she was so long in shutting
the door, which seemed to be difficult to close, one can hardly tell how
or why, that the king had ample time to raise the trap-door, and to
descend again to Saint-Aignan's room.

"Louise," she said to her, "I want to talk to you, and seriously, too."

"Good heavens! my dear Aure, what is the matter now?"

"The matter is, that Madame suspects _everything_."

"Explain yourself."

"Is there any occasion for us to enter into explanations, and do you not
understand what I mean? Come, you must have noticed the fluctuations in
Madame's humor during several days past; you must have noticed how she
first kept you close beside her, then dismissed you, and then sent for
you again."

"Yes, I have noticed it, of course."

"Well, it seems Madame has now succeeded in obtaining sufficient
information, for she has now gone straight to the point, as there is
nothing further left in France to withstand the torrent which sweeps
away all obstacles before it; you know what I mean by the torrent?"

La Valliere hid her face in her hands.

"I mean," continued Montalais, pitilessly, "that torrent which burst
through the gates of the Carmelites of Chaillot, and overthrew all the
prejudices of the court, as well at Fontainebleau as at Paris."

"Alas! alas!" murmured La Valliere, her face still covered by her hands,
and her tears streaming through her fingers.

"Oh, don't distress yourself in that manner, or you have only heard half
of your troubles."

"In Heaven's name," exclaimed the young girl, in great anxiety, "what is
the matter?"

"Well, then, this is how the matter stands: Madame, who can no longer
rely upon any further assistance in France; for she has, one after the
other, made use of the two queens, of Monsieur, and the whole court, too,
now bethinks herself of a certain person who has certain pretended rights
over you."

La Valliere became as white as a marble statue.

"This person," continued Madame, "is not in Paris at this moment; but, if
I am not mistaken, is, just now, in England."

"Yes, yes," breathed La Valliere, almost overwhelmed with terror.

"And is to be found, I think, at the court of Charles II.; am I right?"


"Well, this evening a letter has been dispatched by Madame to Saint
James's, with directions for the courier to go straight to Hampton Court,
which I believe is one of the royal residences, situated about a dozen
miles from London."

"Yes, well?"

"Well; as Madame writes regularly to London once a fortnight, and as the
ordinary courier left for London not more than three days ago, I have
been thinking that some serious circumstance alone could have induced her
to write again so soon, for you know she is a very indolent


"This letter has been written, therefore, something tells me so, at
least, on your account."

"On my account?" repeated the unhappy girl, mechanically.

"And I, who saw the letter lying on Madame's desk before she sealed it,
fancied I could read - "

"What did you fancy you could read?"

"I might possibly have been mistaken, though - "

"Tell me, - what was it?"

"The name of Bragelonne."

La Valliere rose hurriedly from her chair, a prey to the most painful
agitation. "Montalais," she said, her voice broken by sobs, "all my
smiling dreams of youth and innocence have fled already. I have nothing
now to conceal, either from you or any one else. My life is exposed to
every one's inspection, and can be opened like a book, in which all the
world can read, from the king himself to the first passer-by. Aure,
dearest Aure, what can I do - what will become of me?"

Montalais approached close to her, and said, "Consult your own heart, of

"Well; I do not love M. de Bragelonne; when I say I do not love him,
understand that I love him as the most affectionate sister could love the
best of brothers, but that is not what he requires, nor what I promised

"In fact, you love the king," said Montalais, "and that is a sufficiently
good excuse."

"Yes, I do love the king," hoarsely murmured the young girl, "and I have
paid dearly enough for pronouncing those words. And now, Montalais, tell
me - what can you do either for me, or against me, in my position?"

"You must speak more clearly still."

"What am I to say, then?"

"And so you have nothing very particular to tell me?"

"No!" said Louise, in astonishment.

"Very good; and so all you have to ask me is my advice respecting M.

"Nothing else."

"It is a very delicate subject," replied Montalais.

"No, it is nothing of the kind. Ought I to marry him in order to keep
the promise I made, or ought I continue to listen to the king?"

"You have really placed me in a very difficult position," said Montalais,
smiling; "you ask me if you ought to marry Raoul, whose friend I am, and
whom I shall mortally offend in giving my opinion against him; and then,
you ask me if you should cease to listen to the king, whose subject I am,
and whom I should offend if I were to advise you in a particular way.
Ah, Louise, you seem to hold a difficult position at a very cheap rate."

"You have not understood me, Aure," said La Valliere, wounded by the
slightly mocking tone of her companion; "if I were to marry M. de
Bragelonne, I should be far from bestowing on him the happiness he
deserves; but, for the same reason, if I listen to the king he would
become the possessor of one indifferent in very many aspects, I admit,
but one whom his affection confers an appearance of value. What I ask
you, then, is to tell me some means of disengaging myself honorably
either from the one or from the other; or rather, I ask you, from which
side you think I can free myself most honorably."

"My dear Louise," replied Montalais, after a pause, "I am not one of the
seven wise men of Greece, and I have no perfectly invariable rules of
conduct to govern me; but, on the other hand, I have a little experience,
and I can assure you that no woman ever asks for advice of the nature
which you have just asked me, without being in a terrible state of
embarrassment. Besides, you have made a solemn promise, which every
principle of honor requires you to fulfil; if, therefore, you are
embarrassed, in consequence of having undertaken such an engagement, it
is not a stranger's advice (every one is a stranger to a heart full of
love), it is not my advice, I repeat, that can extricate you from your
embarrassment. I shall not give it you, therefore; and for a greater
reason still - because, were I in your place, I should feel much more
embarrassed after the advice than before it. All I can do is, to repeat
what I have already told you; shall I assist you?"

"Yes, yes."

"Very well; that is all. Tell me in what way you wish me to help you;
tell me for and against whom, - in this way we shall not make any

"But first of all," said La Valliere, pressing her companion's hand, "for
whom or against whom do you decide?"

"For you, if you are really and truly my friend."

"Are you not Madame's confidant?"

"A greater reason for being of service to you; if I were not to know what
is going on in that direction I should not be of any service at all, and
consequently you would not obtain any advantage from my acquaintance.
Friendships live and thrive upon a system of reciprocal benefits."

"The result is, then, that you will remain at the same time Madame's
friend also?"

"Evidently. Do you complain of that?"

"I hardly know," sighed La Valliere, thoughtfully, for this cynical
frankness appeared to her an offense both to the woman and the friend.

"All well and good, then," said Montalais, "for if you did, you would be
very foolish."

"You wish to serve me, then?"

"Devotedly - if you will serve me in return."

"One would almost say that you do not know my heart," said La Valliere,
looking at Montalais with her eyes wide open.

"Why, the fact is, that since we have belonged to the court, my dear
Louise, we are very much changed."

"In what way?"

"It is very simple. Were you the second queen of France yonder, at

La Valliere hung down her head, and began to weep. Montalais looked at
her in an indefinable manner, and murmured "Poor girl!" and then, adding,
"Poor king!" she kissed Louise on the forehead, and returned to her
apartment, where Malicorne was waiting for her.

Chapter XXXVI:
The Portrait.

In that malady which is termed love the paroxysms succeed each other at
intervals, ever accelerating from the moment the disease declares
itself. By and by, the paroxysms are less frequent, in proportion as the
cure approaches. This being laid down as a general axiom, and as the
leading article of a particular chapter, we will now proceed with our
recital. The next day, the day fixed by the king for the first
conversation in Saint-Aignan's room, La Valliere, on opening one of the
folds of the screen, found upon the floor a letter in the king's
handwriting. The letter had been passed, through a slit in the floor,
from the lower apartment to her own. No indiscreet hand or curious gaze
could have brought or did bring this single paper. This, too, was one of
Malicorne's ideas. Having seen how very serviceable Saint-Aignan would
become to the king on account of his apartment, he did not wish that the
courtier should become still more indispensable as a messenger, and so he
had, on his own private account, reserved this last post for himself. La
Valliere most eagerly read the letter, which fixed two o'clock that same
afternoon for the rendezvous, and which indicated the way of raising the
trap-door which was constructed out of the flooring. "Make yourself look
as beautiful as you can," added the postscript of the letter, words which
astonished the young girl, but at the same time reassured her.

The hours passed away very slowly, but the time fixed, however, arrived
at last. As punctual as the priestess Hero, Louise lifted up the trap-
door at the last stroke of the hour of two, and found the king on the
steps, waiting for her with the greatest respect, in order to give her
his hand to descend. The delicacy and deference shown in this attention
affected her very powerfully. At the foot of the staircase the two
lovers found the comte, who, with a smile and a low reverence
distinguished by the best taste, expressed his thanks to La Valliere for
the honor she conferred upon him. Then turning towards the king, he said:

"Sire, our man is here." La Valliere looked at the king with some

"Mademoiselle," said the king, "if I have begged you to do me the honor
of coming down here, it was from an interested motive. I have procured a
most admirable portrait painter, who is celebrated for the fidelity of
his likenesses, and I wish you to be kind enough to authorize him to
paint yours. Besides, if you positively wish it, the portrait shall
remain in your own possession." La Valliere blushed. "You see," said
the king to her, "we shall not be three as you wished, but four instead.
And, so long as we are not alone, there can be as many present as you
please." La Valliere gently pressed her royal lover's hand.

"Shall we pass into the next room, sire?" said Saint-Aignan, opening the
door to let his guests precede him. The king walked behind La Valliere,
and fixed his eyes lingeringly and passionately upon that neck as white
as snow, upon which her long fair ringlets fell in heavy masses. La
Valliere was dressed in a thick silk robe of pearl gray color, with a
tinge of rose, with jet ornaments, which displayed to greater effect the
dazzling purity of her skin, holding in her slender and transparent hands
a bouquet of heartsease, Bengal roses, and clematis, surrounded with
leaves of the tenderest green, above which uprose, like a tiny goblet
spilling magic influence a Haarlem tulip of gray and violet tints of a
pure and beautiful species, which had cost the gardener five years' toil
of combinations, and the king five thousand francs. Louis had placed
this bouquet in La Valliere's hand as he saluted her. In the room, the
door of which Saint-Aignan had just opened, a young man was standing,
dressed in a purple velvet jacket, with beautiful black eyes and long
brown hair. It was the painter; his canvas was quite ready, and his
palette prepared for use.

He bowed to La Valliere with the grave curiosity of an artist who is
studying his model, saluted the king discreetly, as if he did not
recognize him, and as he would, consequently, have saluted any other
gentleman. Then, leading Mademoiselle de la Valliere to the seat he had
arranged for her, he begged her to sit down.

The young girl assumed an attitude graceful and unrestrained, her hands
occupied and her limbs reclining on cushions; and in order that her gaze
might not assume a vague or affected expression, the painter begged her
to choose some kind of occupation, so as to engage her attention;
whereupon Louis XIV., smiling, sat down on the cushions at La Valliere's
feet; so that she, in the reclining posture she had assumed, leaning back
in the armchair, holding her flowers in her hand, and he, with his eyes
raised towards her and fixed devouringly on her face - they, both
together, formed so charming a group, that the artist contemplated
painting it with professional delight, while on his side, Saint-Aignan
regarded them with feelings of envy. The painter sketched rapidly; and
very soon, beneath the earliest touches of the brush, there started into
life, out of the gray background, the gentle, poetry-breathing face, with
its soft calm eyes and delicately tinted cheeks, enframed in the masses
of hair which fell about her neck. The lovers, however, spoke but
little, and looked at each other a great deal; sometimes their eyes
became so languishing in their gaze, that the painter was obliged to
interrupt his work in order to avoid representing an Erycina instead of
La Valliere. It was on such occasions that Saint-Aignan came to the
rescue, and recited verses, or repeated one of those little tales such as
Patru related, and Tallemant des Reaux wrote so cleverly. Or, it might
be that La Valliere was fatigued, and the sitting was, therefore,
suspended for awhile; and, immediately, a tray of precious porcelain
laden with the most beautiful fruits which could be obtained, and rich
wines distilling their bright colors in silver goblets, beautifully
chased, served as accessories to the picture of which the painter could
but retrace the most ephemeral resemblance.

Louis was intoxicated with love, La Valliere with happiness, Saint-Aignan
with ambition, and the painter was storing up recollections for his old
age. Two hours passed away in this manner, and four o'clock having
struck, La Valliere rose, and made a sign to the king. Louis also rose,
approached the picture, and addressed a few flattering remarks to the
painter. Saint-Aignan also praised the picture, which, as he pretended,
was already beginning to assume an accurate resemblance. La Valliere in
her turn, blushingly thanked the painter and passed into the next room,
where the king followed her, after having previously summoned Saint-

"Will you not come to-morrow?" he said to La Valliere.

"Oh! sire, pray think that some one will be sure to come to my room, and
will not find me there."


"What will become of me in that case?"

"You are very apprehensive, Louise."

"But at all events, suppose Madame were to send for me?"

"Oh!" replied the king, "will the day never come when you yourself will
tell me to brave everything so that I may not have to leave you again?"

"On that day, sire, I shall be quite out of my mind, and you must not
believe me."

"To-morrow, Louise."

La Valliere sighed, but, without the courage to oppose her royal lover's
wish, she repeated, "To-morrow, then, since you desire it, sire," and
with these words she ran lightly up the stairs, and disappeared from her
lover's gaze.

"Well, sire?" inquired Saint-Aignan, when she had left.

"Well, Saint-Aignan, yesterday I thought myself the happiest of men."

"And does your majesty, then, regard yourself to-day," said the comte,
smiling, "as the unhappiest of men?"

"No; but my love for her is an unquenchable thirst; in vain do I drink,
in vain do I swallow the drops of water which your industry procures for
me; the more I drink, the more unquenchable it becomes."

"Sire, that is in some degree your own fault, and your majesty alone has
made the position such as it is."

"You are right."

"In that case, therefore, the means to be happy, is to fancy yourself
satisfied, and to wait."

"Wait! you know that word, then?"

"There, there, sire - do not despair: I have already been at work on your
behalf - I have still other resources in store." The king shook his head
in a despairing manner.

"What, sire! have you not been satisfied hitherto?"

"Oh! yes, indeed, yes, my dear Saint-Aignan; but invent, for Heaven's
sake, invent some further project yet."

"Sire, I undertake to do my best, and that is all that any one can do."

The king wished to see the portrait again, as he was unable to see the
original. He pointed out several alterations to the painter and left the
room, and then Saint-Aignan dismissed the artist. The easel, paints, and
painter himself, had scarcely gone, when Malicorne showed his head in the
doorway. He was received by Saint-Aignan with open arms, but still with
a little sadness, for the cloud which had passed across the royal sun,
veiled, in its turn, the faithful satellite, and Malicorne at a glance
perceived the melancholy that brooded on Saint-Aignan's face.

"Oh, monsieur le comte," he said, "how sad you seem!"

"And good reason too, my dear Monsieur Malicorne. Will you believe that
the king is still dissatisfied?"

"With his staircase, do you mean?"

"Oh, no; on the contrary, he is delighted with the staircase."

"The decorations of the apartments, I suppose, don't please him."

"Oh! he has not even thought of that. No, indeed, it seems that what has
dissatisfied the king - "

"I will tell you, monsieur le comte, - he is dissatisfied at finding
himself the fourth person at a rendezvous of this kind. How is it
possible you could not have guessed that?"

"Why, how is it likely I could have done so, dear M. Malicorne, when I
followed the king's instructions to the very letter?"

"Did his majesty really insist on your being present?"


"And also required that the painter, whom I met downstairs just now,
should be here, too?"

"He insisted upon it."

"In that case, I can easily understand why his majesty is dissatisfied."

"What! dissatisfied that I have so punctually and so literally obeyed his
orders? I don't understand you."

Malicorne began to scratch his ear, as he asked, "What time did the king
fix for the rendezvous in your apartments?"

"Two o'clock."

"And you were waiting for the king?"

"Ever since half-past one; it would have been a fine thing, indeed, to
have been unpunctual with his majesty."

Malicorne, notwithstanding his respect for Saint-Aignan, could not help
smiling. "And the painter," he said, "did the king wish him to be here
at two o'clock, also?"

"No; but I had him waiting here from midday. Far better, you know, for a
painter to be kept waiting a couple of hours than the king a single

Malicorne began to laugh aloud. "Come, dear Monsieur Malicorne," said
Saint-Aignan, "laugh less at me, and speak a little more freely, I beg."

"Well, then, monsieur le comte, if you wish the king to be a little more
satisfied the next time he comes - "

"'_Ventre saint-gris!_' as his grandfather used to say; of course I wish

"Well, all you have to do is, when the king comes to-morrow, to be
obliged to go away on a most pressing matter of business, which cannot
possibly be postponed, and stay away for twenty minutes."

"What! leave the king alone for twenty minutes?" cried Saint-Aignan, in

"Very well, do as you like; don't pay any attention to what I say," said
Malicorne, moving towards the door.

"Nay, nay, dear Monsieur Malicorne; on the contrary, go on - I begin to
understand you. But the painter - "

"Oh! the painter must be half an hour late."

"Half an hour - do you really think so?"

"Yes, I do, decidedly."

"Very well, then, I will do as you tell me."

"And my opinion is, that you will be doing perfectly right. Will you
allow me to call upon you for the latest news to-morrow?"

"Of course."

"I have the honor to be your most respectful servant, M. de Saint-
Aignan," said Malicorne, bowing profoundly and retiring from the room

"There is no doubt that fellow has more invention than I have," said
Saint-Aignan, as if compelled by his conviction to admit it.

Chapter XXXVII:
Hampton Court.

The revelation we have witnessed, that Montalais made to La Valliere, in
a preceding chapter, very naturally makes us return to the principal hero
of this tale, a poor wandering knight, roving about at the king's
caprice. If our readers will be good enough to follow us, we will, in
his company, cross that strait, more stormy than the Euripus, which
separates Calais from Dover; we will speed across that green and fertile
country, with its numerous little streams; through Maidstone, and many
other villages and towns, each prettier than the other; and, finally,
arrive at London. From thence, like bloodhounds following a track, after
having ascertained that Raoul had made his first stay at Whitehall, his
second at St. James's, and having learned that he had been warmly
received by Monk, and introduced to the best society of Charles II.'s
court, we will follow him to one of Charles II.'s summer residences near
the lively little village of Kingston, at Hampton Court, situated on the
Thames. The river is not, at that spot, the boastful highway which bears
upon its broad bosom its thousands of travelers; nor are its waters black
and troubled as those of Cocytus, as it boastfully asserts, "I, too, am
cousin of the old ocean." No, at Hampton Court it is a soft and
murmuring stream, with moss-fringed banks, reflecting, in its broad
mirror, the willows and beeches which ornament its sides, and on which
may occasionally be seen a light bark indolently reclining among the tall
reeds, in a little creek formed of alders and forget-me-nots. The
surrounding country on all sides smiled in happiness and wealth; the
brick cottages from whose chimneys the blue smoke was slowly ascending in
wreaths, peeped forth from the belts of green holly which environed them;
children dressed in red frocks appeared and disappeared amidst the high
grass, like poppies bowed by the gentler breath of the passing breeze.
The sheep, ruminating with half-closed eyes, lay lazily about under the
shadow of the stunted aspens, while, far and near, the kingfishers,
plumed with emerald and gold, skimmed swiftly along the surface of the
water, like a magic ball heedlessly touching, as he passed, the line of
his brother angler, who sat watching in his boat the fish as they rose to
the surface of the sparkling stream. High above this paradise of dark
shadows and soft light, rose the palace of Hampton Court, built by Wolsey
- a residence the haughty cardinal had been obliged, timid courtier that
he was, to offer to his master, Henry VIII., who had glowered with envy

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