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Ten Years Later by Alexandre Dumas, Pere

Part 13 out of 13

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superintendent had not lost his senses.

"Well!" inquired Aramis, who was impatiently waiting Fouquet's return,
"are you satisfied with the favorite?"

"Enchanted," replied Fouquet; "she is a woman full of intelligence and
fine feeling."

"She did not get angry, then?"

"Far from that - she did not even seem to understand."

"To understand what?"

"To understand that I had written to her."

"She must, however, have understood you sufficiently to give the letter
back to you, for I presume she returned it."

"Not at all."

"At least, you satisfied yourself that she had burnt it."

"My dear Monsieur d'Herblay, I have been playing at cross-purposes for
more than an hour, and, however amusing it may be, I begin to have had
enough of this game. So understand me thoroughly: the girl pretended not
to understand what I was saying to her; she denied having received any
letter; therefore, having positively denied its receipt, she was unable
either to return or burn it."

"Oh, oh!" said Aramis, with uneasiness, "what is this you tell me?"

"I say that she swore most positively she had not received any letter."

"That is too much. And did you not insist?"

"On the contrary, I did insist, almost impertinently even."

"And she persisted in her denial?"


"And did she not contradict herself?"

"Not once."

"But, in that case, then, you have left our letter in her hands?"

"How could I do otherwise?"

"Oh! it was a great mistake."

"What the deuce would you have done in my place?"

"One could not force her, certainly, but it is very embarrassing; such a
letter ought not to remain in existence against us."

"Oh! the young girl's disposition is generosity itself; I looked at her
eyes, and I can read eyes well."

"You think she can be relied upon?"

"From my heart I do."

"Well, I think we are mistaken."

"In what way?"

"I think that, in point of fact, as she herself told you, she did not
receive the letter."

"What! do you suppose - "

"I suppose that, from some motive, of which we know nothing, your man did
not deliver the letter to her."

Fouquet rang the bell. A servant appeared. "Send Toby here," he said.
A moment afterwards a man made his appearance, with an anxious, restless
look, shrewd expression of the mouth, with short arms, and his back
somewhat bent. Aramis fixed a penetrating look upon him.

"Will you allow me to interrogate him myself?" inquired Aramis.

"Do so," said Fouquet.

Aramis was about to say something to the lackey, when he paused. "No,"
he said; "he would see that we attach too much importance to his answer;
therefore question him yourself; I will pretend to be writing." Aramis
accordingly placed himself at a table, his back turned towards the old
attendant, whose every gesture and look he watched in a looking-glass
opposite to him.

"Come here, Toby," said Fouquet to the valet, who approached with a
tolerably firm step. "How did you execute my commission?" inquired

"In the usual way, monseigneur," replied the man.

"But how, tell me?"

"I succeeded in penetrating as far as Mademoiselle de la Valliere's
apartment; but she was at mass, and so I placed the note on her toilette-
table. Is not that what you told me to do?"

"Precisely; and is that all?"

"Absolutely all, monseigneur."

"No one was there?"

"No one."

"Did you conceal yourself as I told you?"


"And she returned?"

"Ten minutes afterwards."

"And no one could have taken the letter?"

"No one; for no one had entered the room."

"From the outside, but from the interior?"

"From the place where I was secreted, I could see to the very end of the

"Now listen to me," said Fouquet, looking fixedly at the lackey; "if this
letter did not reach its proper destination, confess it; for, if a
mistake has been made, your head shall be the forfeit."

Toby started, but immediately recovered himself. "Monseigneur," he said,
"I placed the letter on the very place I told you: and I ask only half an
hour to prove to you that the letter is in Mademoiselle de la Valliere's
hand, or to bring you back the letter itself."

Aramis looked at the valet scrutinizingly. Fouquet was ready in placing
confidence in people, and for twenty years this man had served him
faithfully. "Go," he said; "but bring me the proof you speak of." The
lackey quitted the room.

"Well, what do you think of it?" inquired Fouquet of Aramis.

"I think that you must, by some means or another, assure yourself of the
truth, either that the letter has, or has not, reached La Valliere; that,
in the first case, La Valliere must return it to you, or satisfy you by
burning it in your presence; that, in the second, you must have the
letter back again, even were it to cost you a million. Come, is not that
your opinion?"

"Yes; but still, my dear bishop, I believe you are exaggerating the
importance of the affair."

"Blind, how blind you are!" murmured Aramis.

"La Valliere," returned Fouquet, "whom we assume to be a schemer of the
first ability, is simply nothing more than a coquette, who hopes that I
shall pay my court to her, because I have already done so, and who, now
that she has received a confirmation of the king's regard, hopes to keep
me in leading strings with the letter. It is natural enough."

Aramis shook his head.

"Is not that your opinion?" said Fouquet.

"She is not a coquette," he replied.

"Allow me to tell you - "

"Oh! I am well enough acquainted with women who are coquettes," said

"My dear friend!"

"It is a long time ago since I finished my education, you mean. But
women are the same, throughout the centuries."

"True; but men change, and you at the present day are far more suspicious
than you formerly were." And then, beginning to laugh, he added, "Come,
if La Valliere is willing to love me only to the extent of a third, and
the king two-thirds, do you think the condition acceptable?"

Aramis rose impatiently. "La Valliere," he said, "has never loved, and
never will love, any one but the king."

"At all events," said Fouquet, "what would you do?"

"Ask me rather what I would have done?"

"Well! what would you have done?"

"In the first place, I should not have allowed that man to depart."


"Yes; Toby is a traitor. Nay, I am sure of it, and I would not have let
him go until he had told me the truth."

"There is still time. I will recall him, and do you question him in your


"But I assure you it is useless. He has been with me for twenty years,
and has never made the slightest mistake, and yet," added Fouquet,
laughing, "it would have been easy enough for him to have done so."

"Still, call him back. This morning I fancy I saw that face, in earnest
conversation with one of M. Colbert's men."

"Where was that?"

"Opposite the stables."

"Bah! all my people are at daggers drawn with that fellow."

"I saw him, I tell you, and his face, which should have been unknown to
me when he entered just now, struck me as disagreeably familiar."

"Why did you not say something, then, while he was here?"

"Because it is only at this very minute that my memory is clear upon the

"Really," said Fouquet, "you alarm me." And he again rang the bell.

"Provided that it is not already too late," said Aramis.

Fouquet once more rang impatiently. The valet usually in attendance
appeared. "Toby!" said Fouquet, "send Toby." The valet again shut the

"You leave me at perfect liberty, I suppose?"

"Entirely so."

"I may employ all means, then, to ascertain the truth."


"Intimidation, even?"

"I constitute you public prosecutor in my place."

They waited ten minutes longer, but uselessly, and Fouquet, thoroughly
out of patience, again rang loudly.

"Toby!" he exclaimed.

"Monseigneur," said the valet, "they are looking for him."

"He cannot be far distant, I have not given him any commission to

"I will go and see, monseigneur," replied the valet, as he closed the
door. Aramis, during the interview, walked impatiently, but without a
syllable, up and down the cabinet. They waited a further ten minutes.
Fouquet rang in a manner to alarm the very dead. The valet again
presented himself, trembling in a way to induce a belief that he was the
bearer of bad news.

"Monseigneur is mistaken," he said, before even Fouquet could interrogate
him, "you must have given Toby some commission, for he has been to the
stables and taken your lordship's swiftest horse, and saddled it himself."


"And he has gone off."

"Gone!" exclaimed Fouquet. "Let him be pursued, let him be captured."

"Nay, nay," whispered Aramis, taking him by the hand, "be calm, the evil
is done."

The valet quietly went out.

"The evil is done, you say?"

"No doubt; I was sure of it. And now, let us give no cause for
suspicion; we must calculate the result of the blow, and ward it off, if

"After all," said Fouquet, "the evil is not great."

"You think so?" said Aramis.

"Of course. Surely a man is allowed to write a love-letter to a woman."

"A man, certainly; a subject, no; especially, too, when the woman in
question is one with whom the king is in love."

"But the king was not in love with La Valliere a week ago! he was not in
love with her yesterday, and the letter is dated yesterday; I could not
guess the king was in love, when the king's affection was not even yet in

"As you please," replied Aramis; "but unfortunately the letter is not
dated, and it is that circumstance particularly which annoys me. If it
had only been dated yesterday, I should not have the slightest shadow of
uneasiness on your account."

Fouquet shrugged his shoulders.

"Am I not my own master," he said, "and is the king, then, king of my
brain and of my flesh?"

"You are right," replied Aramis, "do not let us attach greater importance
to matters than is necessary; and besides Well! if we are menaced, we
have means of defense."

"Oh! menaced!" said Fouquet, "you do not place this gnat bite, as it
were, among the number of menaces which may compromise my fortune and my
life, do you?"

"Do not forget, Monsieur Fouquet, that the bit of an insect can kill a
giant, if the insect be venomous."

"But has this sovereign power you were speaking of, already vanished?"

"I am all-powerful, it is true, but I am not immortal."

"Come, then, the most pressing matter is to find Toby again, I suppose.
Is not that your opinion?"

"Oh! as for that, you will not find him again," said Aramis, "and if he
were of any great value to you, you must give him up for lost."

"At all events he is somewhere or another in the world," said Fouquet.

"You're right, let me act," replied Aramis.

Chapter LXIV:
Madame's Four Chances.

Anne of Austria had begged the young queen to pay her a visit. For some
time past suffering most acutely, and losing both her youth and beauty
with that rapidity which signalizes the decline of women for whom life
has been one long contest, Anne of Austria had, in addition to her
physical sufferings, to experience the bitterness of being no longer held
in any esteem, except as a surviving remembrance of the past, amidst the
youthful beauties, wits, and influential forces of her court. Her
physician's opinions, her mirror also, grieved her far less than the
inexorable warnings which the society of the courtiers afforded, who,
like rats in a ship, abandon the hold into which on the very next voyage
the water will infallibly penetrate, owing to the ravages of decay. Anne
of Austria did not feel satisfied with the time her eldest son devoted to
her. The king, a good son, more from affectation than from affection,
had at first been in the habit of passing an hour in the morning and one
in the evening with his mother; but, since he had himself undertaken the
conduct of state affairs, the duration of the morning and evening's visit
had been reduced by one half; and then, by degrees, the morning visit had
been suppressed altogether. They met at mass; the evening visit was
replaced by a meeting, either at the king's assembly or at Madame's,
which the queen attended obligingly enough, out of regard to her two sons.

The result of this was, that Madame gradually acquired an immense
influence over the court, which made her apartments the true royal place
of meeting. This, Anne of Austria perceived; knowing herself to be very
ill, and condemned by her sufferings to frequent retirement, she was
distressed at the idea that the greater part of her future days and
evenings would pass away solitary, useless, and in despondency. She
recalled with terror the isolation in which Cardinal Richelieu had
formerly left her, those dreaded and insupportable evenings, during
which, however, she had both youth and beauty, which are ever accompanied
by hope, to console her. She next formed the project of transporting the
court to her own apartments, and of attracting Madame, with her brilliant
escort, to her gloomy and already sorrowful abode, where the widow of a
king of France, and the mother of a king of France, was reduced to
console, in her artificial widowhood, the weeping wife of a king of

Anne began to reflect. She had intrigued a good deal in her life. In
the good times past, when her youthful mind nursed projects that were,
ultimately, invariably successful, she had by her side, to stimulate her
ambition and her love, a friend of her own sex, more eager, more
ambitious than herself, - a friend who had loved her, a rare circumstance
at courts, and whom some petty considerations had removed from her
forever. But for many years past - except Madame de Motteville, and La
Molena, her Spanish nurse, a confidante in her character of countrywoman
and woman too - who could boast of having given good advice to the
queen? Who, too, among all the youthful heads there, could recall the
past for her, - that past in which alone she lived? Anne of Austria
remembered Madame de Chevreuse, in the first place exiled rather by her
wish than the king's, and then dying in exile, the wife of a gentleman of
obscure birth and position. She asked herself what Madame de Chevreuse
would have advised her to do in similar circumstances, in their mutual
difficulties arising from their intrigues; and after serious reflection,
it seemed as if the clever, subtle mind of her friend, full of experience
and sound judgment, answered her in the well-remembered ironical tones:
"All the insignificant young people are poor and greedy of gain. They
require gold and incomes to supply means of amusement; it is by interest
you must gain them over." And Anne of Austria adopted this plan. Her
purse was well filled, and she had at her disposal a considerable sum of
money, which had been amassed by Mazarin for her, and lodged in a place
of safety. She possessed the most magnificent jewels in France, and
especially pearls of a size so large that they made the king sigh every
time he saw them, because the pearls of his crown were like millet seed
compared to them. Anne of Austria had neither beauty nor charms any
longer at her disposal. She gave out, therefore, that her wealth was
great, and as an inducement for others to visit her apartments she let it
be known that there were good gold crowns to be won at play, or that
handsome presents were likely to be made on days when all went well with
her; or windfalls, in the shape of annuities which she had wrung from the
king by entreaty, and thus she determined to maintain her credit. In the
first place, she tried these means upon Madame; because to gain her
consent was of more importance than anything else. Madame,
notwithstanding the bold confidence which her wit and beauty inspired
her, blindly ran head foremost into the net thus stretched out to catch
her. Enriched by degrees by these presents and transfers of property,
she took a fancy to inheritances by anticipation. Anne of Austria
adopted the same means towards Monsieur, and even towards the king
himself. She instituted lotteries in her apartments. The day on which
the present chapter opens, invitations had been issued for a late supper
in the queen-mother's apartments, as she intended that two beautiful
diamond bracelets of exquisite workmanship should be put into a lottery.
The medallions were antique cameos of the greatest value; the diamonds,
in point of intrinsic value, did not represent a very considerable
amount, but the originality and rarity of the workmanship were such, that
every one at court not only wished to possess the bracelets, but even to
see the queen herself wear them; for, on the days she wore them, it was
considered as a favor to be admitted to admire them in kissing her
hands. The courtiers had, even with regard to this subject, adopted
various expressions of gallantry to establish the aphorism, that the
bracelets would have been priceless in value if they had not been
unfortunate enough to be placed in contact with arms as beautiful as the
queen's. This compliment had been honored by a translation into all the
languages of Europe, and numerous verses in Latin and French had been
circulated on the subject. The day that Anne of Austria had selected for
the lottery was a decisive moment; the king had not been near his mother
for a couple of days; Madame, after the great scene of the Dryads and
Naiads, was sulking by herself. It is true, the king's fit of resentment
was over, but his mind was absorbingly occupied by a circumstance that
raised him above the stormy disputes and giddy pleasures of the court.

Anne of Austria effected a diversion by the announcement of the famous
lottery to take place in her apartments on the following evening. With
this object in view, she saw the young queen, whom, as we have already
seen, she had invited to pay her a visit in the morning. "I have good
news to tell you," she said to her; "the king has been saying the most
tender things about you. He is young, you know, and easily drawn away;
but so long as you keep near me, he will not venture to keep away from
you, to whom, besides, he is most warmly and affectionately attached. I
intend to have a lottery this evening and shall expect to see you."

"I have heard," said the young queen, with a sort of timid reproach,
"that your majesty intends to put in the lottery those lovely bracelets
whose rarity is so great that we ought not to allow them to pass out of
the custody of the crown, even were there no other reason than that they
had once belonged to you."

"My daughter," said Anne of Austria, who read the young queen's thoughts,
and wished to console her for not having received the bracelets as a
present, "it is positively necessary that I should induce Madame to pass
her time in my apartments."

"Madame!" said the young queen, blushing.

"Of course: would you not prefer to have a rival near you, whom you could
watch and influence, to knowing the king is with her, always as ready to
flirt as to be flirted with by her? The lottery I have proposed is my
means of attraction for that purpose; do you blame me?"

"Oh, no!" returned Maria Theresa, clapping her hands with a childlike
expression of delight.

"And you no longer regret, then, that I did not give you these bracelets,
as I at first intended to do?"

"Oh, no, no!"

"Very well; make yourself look as beautiful as possible that our supper
may be very brilliant; the gayer you seem, the more charming you appear,
and you will eclipse all the ladies present as much by your brilliancy as
by your rank."

Maria Theresa left full of delight. An hour afterwards, Anne of Austria
received a visit from Madame, whom she covered with caresses, saying,
"Excellent news! the king is charmed with my lottery."

"But I," replied Madame, "am not so greatly charmed: to see such
beautiful bracelets on any one's arms but yours or mine, is what I cannot
reconcile myself to."

"Well, well," said Anne of Austria, concealing by a smile a violent pang
she had just experienced, "do not look at things in the worst light

"Ah, Madame, Fortune is blind, and I am told there are two hundred

"Quite as many as that; but you cannot surely forget that there can only
be one winner."

"No doubt. But who will that be? Can you tell?" said Madame, in despair.

"You remind me that I had a dream last night; my dreams are always good,
- I sleep so little."

"What was your dream? - but are you suffering?"

"No," said the queen, stifling with wonderful command the torture of a
renewed attack of shooting pains in her bosom; "I dreamed that the king
won the bracelets."

"The king!"

"You are going to ask me, I think, what the king could possibly do with
the bracelets?"


"And you would not add, perhaps, that it would be very fortunate if the
king were really to win, for he would be obliged to give the bracelets to
some one else."

"To restore them to you, for instance."

"In which case I should immediately give them away; for you do not think,
I suppose," said the queen, laughing, "that I have put these bracelets up
to a lottery from necessity. My object was to give them without arousing
any one's jealousy; but if Fortune will not get me out of my difficulty -
well, I will teach Fortune a lesson - and I know very well to whom I
intend to offer the bracelets." These words were accompanied by so
expressive a smile, that Madame could not resist paying her by a grateful

"But," added Anne of Austria, "do you not know, as well as I do, that if
the king were to win the bracelets, he would not restore them to me?"

"You mean he would give them to the queen?"

"No; and for the very same reason that he would not give them back again
to me; since, if I had wished to make the queen a present of them, I had
no need of him for that purpose."

Madame cast a side glance upon the bracelets, which, in their casket,
were dazzlingly exposed to view upon a table close beside her.

"How beautiful they are," she said, sighing. "But stay," Madame
continued, "we are quite forgetting that your majesty's dream was nothing
but a dream."

"I should be very much surprised," returned Anne of Austria, "if my dream
were to deceive me; that has happened to me very seldom."

"We may look upon you as a prophetess, then."

"I have already said, that I dream but very rarely; but the coincidence
of my dream about this matter, with my own ideas, is extraordinary! it
agrees so wonderfully with my own views and arrangements."

"What arrangements do you allude to?"

"That you will get the bracelets, for instance."

"In that case, it will not be the king."

"Oh!" said Anne of Austria, "there is not such a very great distance
between his majesty's heart and your own; for, are you not his sister,
for whom he has a great regard? There is not, I repeat, so very wide a
distance, that my dream can be pronounced false on that account. Come,
let us reckon up the chances in its favor."

"I will count them."

"In the first place, we will begin with the dream. If the king wins, he
is sure to give you the bracelets."

"I admit that is one."

"If you win them, they are yours."

"Naturally; that may be admitted also."

"Lastly; - if Monsieur were to win them!"

"Oh!" said Madame, laughing heartily, "he would give them to the
Chevalier de Lorraine."

Anne of Austria laughed as heartily as her daughter-in-law; so much so,
indeed, that her sufferings again returned, and made her turn suddenly
pale in the very midst of her enjoyment.

"What is the matter?" inquired Madame, terrified.

"Nothing, nothing; a pain in my side. I have been laughing too much. We
were at the fourth chance, I think."

"I cannot see a fourth."

"I beg your pardon; I am not excluded from the chance of winning, and if
I be the winner, you are sure of me."

"Oh! thank you, thank you!" exclaimed Madame.

"I hope that you look upon yourself as one whose chances are good, and
that my dream now begins to assure the solid outlines of reality."

"Yes, indeed: you give me both hope and confidence," said Madame, "and
the bracelets, won in this manner, will be a hundred times more precious
to me."

"Well! then, good-bye, until this evening." And the two princesses
separated. Anne of Austria, after her daughter-in-law had left her, said
to herself, as she examined the bracelets, "They are, indeed, precious;
since, by their means, this evening, I shall have won over a heart to my
side, at the same time, fathomed an important secret."

Then turning towards the deserted recess in her room, she said,
addressing vacancy, - "Is it not thus that you would have acted, my
poor Chevreuse? Yes, yes; I know it is."

And, like a perfume of other, fairer days, her youth, her imagination,
and her happiness seemed to be wafted towards the echo of this invocation.

Chapter LXV:
The Lottery.

By eight o'clock in the evening, every one had assembled in the queen-
mother's apartments. Anne of Austria, in full dress, beautiful still,
from former loveliness, and from all the resources coquetry can command
at the hands of clever assistants, concealed, or rather pretended to
conceal, from the crowd of courtiers who surrounded her, and who still
admired her, thanks to the combination of circumstances which we have
indicated in the preceding chapter, the ravages, which were already
visible, of the acute suffering to which she finally yielded a few years
later. Madame, almost as great a coquette as Anne of Austria, and the
queen, simple and natural as usual, were seated beside her, each
contending for her good graces. The ladies of honor, united in a body,
in order to resist with greater effect, and consequently with more
success, the witty and lively conversations which the young men held
about them, were enabled, like a battalion formed in a square, to offer
each other the means of attack and defense which were thus at their
command. Montalais, learned in that species of warfare which consists of
sustained skirmishing, protected the whole line by a sort of rolling fire
she directed against the enemy. Saint-Aignan, in utter despair at the
rigor, which became almost insulting from the very fact of her persisting
in it, Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente displayed, tried to turn his back
upon her; but, overcome by the irresistible brilliancy of her eyes, he,
every moment, returned to consecrate his defeat by new submissions, to
which Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente did not fail to reply by fresh acts
of impertinence. Saint-Aignan did not know which way to turn. La
Valliere had about her, not exactly a court, but sprinklings of
courtiers. Saint-Aignan, hoping by this maneuver to attract Athenais's
attention towards him, approached the young girl, and saluted her with a
respect that induced some to believe that he wished to balance Athenais
by Louise. But these were persons who had neither been witnesses of the
scene during the shower, nor had heard it spoken of. As the majority was
already informed, and well informed, too, on the matter, the acknowledged
favor with which she was regarded had attracted to her side some of the
most astute, as well as the least sensible, members of the court. The
former, because they said with Montaigne, "How do I know?" and the
latter, who said with Rabelais, "Perhaps." The greatest number had
followed in the wake of the latter, just as in hunting five or six of the
best hounds alone follow the scent of the animal hunted, whilst the
remainder of the pack follow only the scent of the hounds. The two
queens and Madame examined with particular attention the toilettes of
their ladies and maids of honor; and they condescended to forget they
were queens in recollecting that they were women. In other words, they
pitilessly picked to pieces every person present who wore a petticoat.
The looks of both princesses simultaneously fell upon La Valliere, who,
as we have just said, was completely surrounded at that moment. Madame
knew not what pity was, and said to the queen-mother, as she turned
towards her, "If Fortune were just, she would favor that poor La

"That is not possible," said the queen-mother, smiling.

"Why not?"

"There are only two hundred tickets, so that it was not possible to
inscribe every one's name on the list."

"And hers is not there, then?"


"What a pity! she might have won them, and then sold them."

"Sold them!" exclaimed the queen.

"Yes; it would have been a dowry for her, and she would not have been
obliged to marry without her _trousseau_, as will probably be the case."

"Really," answered the queen-mother, "poor little thing: has she no
dresses, then?"

And she pronounced these words like a woman who has never been able to
understand the inconveniences of a slenderly filled purse.

"Stay, look at her. Heaven forgive me, if she is not wearing the very
same petticoat this evening that she had on this morning during the
promenade, and which she managed to keep clean, thanks to the care the
king took of her, in sheltering her from the rain."

At the very moment Madame uttered these words the king entered the room.
The two queens would not perhaps have observed his arrival, so completely
were they occupied in their ill-natured remarks, had not Madame noticed
that, all at once, La Valliere, who was standing up facing the gallery,
exhibited certain signs of confusion, and then said a few words to the
courtiers who surrounded her, who immediately dispersed. This movement
induced Madame to look towards the door, and at that moment, the captain
of the guards announced the king. At this moment La Valliere, who had
hitherto kept her eyes fixed upon the gallery, suddenly cast them down as
the king entered. His majesty was dressed magnificently and in the most
perfect taste; he was conversing with Monsieur and the Duc de Roquelaure,
Monsieur on his right, and the Duc de Roquelaure on his left. The king
advanced, in the first place, towards the queens, to whom he bowed with
an air full of graceful respect. He took his mother's hand and kissed
it, addressed a few compliments to Madame upon the beauty of her
toilette, and then began to make the round of the assembly. La Valliere
was saluted in the same manner as the others, but with neither more nor
less attention. His majesty then returned to his mother and his wife.
When the courtiers noticed that the king had only addressed some ordinary
remark to the young girl who had been so particularly noticed in the
morning, they immediately drew their own conclusion to account for this
coldness of manner; this conclusion being, that although the king may
have taken a sudden fancy to her, that fancy had already disappeared.
One thing, however, must be remarked, that close beside La Valliere,
among the number of the courtiers, M. Fouquet was to be seen; and his
respectfully attentive manner served to sustain the young girl in the
midst of the varied emotions that visibly agitated her.

M. Fouquet was just on the point, moreover, of speaking in a more
friendly manner with Mademoiselle de la Valliere, when M. Colbert
approached, and after having bowed to Fouquet with all the formality of
respectful politeness, he seemed to take up a post beside La Valliere,
for the purpose of entering into conversation with her. Fouquet
immediately quitted his place. These proceedings were eagerly devoured
by the eyes of Montalais and Malicorne, who mutually exchanged their
observations on the subject. De Guiche, standing within the embrasure of
one of the windows, saw no one but Madame. But as Madame, on her side,
frequently glanced at La Valliere, De Guiche's eyes, following Madame's,
were from time to time cast upon the young girl. La Valliere
instinctively felt herself sinking beneath the weight of all these
different looks, inspired, some by interest, others by envy. She had
nothing to compensate her for her sufferings, not a kind word from her
companions, nor a look of affection from the king. No one could possibly
express the misery the poor girl was suffering. The queen-mother next
directed the small table to be brought forward, on which the lottery-
tickets were placed, two hundred in number, and begged Madame de
Motteville to read the list of the names. It was a matter of course that
this list had been drawn out in strict accordance with the laws of
etiquette. The king's name was first on the list, next the queen-mother,
then the queen, Monsieur, Madame, and so on. All hearts throbbed
anxiously as the list was read out; more than three hundred persons had
been invited, and each of them was anxious to learn whether his or her
name was to be found in the number of privileged names. The king
listened with as much attention as the others, and when the last name had
been pronounced, he noticed that La Valliere had been omitted from the
list. Every one, of course, remarked this omission. The king flushed as
if much annoyed; but La Valliere, gentle and resigned, as usual,
exhibited nothing of the sort. While the list was being read, the king
had not taken his eyes off the young girl, who seemed to expand, as it
were, beneath the happy influence she felt was shed around her, and who
was delighted and too pure in spirit for any other thought than that of
love to find an entrance either to her mind or her heart. Acknowledging
this touching self-denial by the fixity of his attention, the king showed
La Valliere how much he appreciated its delicacy. When the list was
finished, the different faces of those who had been omitted or forgotten
fully expressed their disappointment. Malicorne was also left out from
amongst the men; and the grimace he made plainly said to Montalais, who
was also forgotten, "Cannot we contrive to arrange matters with Fortune
in such a manner that she shall not forget us?" to which a smile full of
intelligence from Mademoiselle Aure, replied: "Certainly we can."

The tickets were distributed to each according to the number listed. The
king received his first, next the queen-mother, then Monsieur, then the
queen and Madame, and so on. After this, Anne of Austria opened a small
Spanish leather bag, containing two hundred numbers engraved upon small
balls of mother-of-pearl, and presented the open sack to the youngest of
her maids of honor, for the purpose of taking one of the balls out of
it. The eager expectation of the throng, amidst all the tediously slow
preparations, was rather that of cupidity than curiosity. Saint-Aignan
bent towards Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente to whisper to her, "Since we
have each a number, let us unite our two chances. The bracelet shall be
yours if I win, and if you are successful, deign to give me but one look
of your beautiful eyes."

"No," said Athenais, "if you win the bracelet, keep it, every one for

"You are without any pity," said Saint-Aignan, "and I will punish you by
a quatrain: -

"Beautiful Iris, to my vows
You are too opposed - "

"Silence," said Athenais, "you will prevent me hearing the winning

"Number one," said the young girl who had drawn the mother-of-pearl from
the Spanish leather bag.

"The king!" exclaimed the queen-mother.

"The king has won," repeated the queen, delightedly.

"Oh! the king! your dream!" said Madame, joyously, in the ear of Anne of

The king was the only one who did not exhibit any satisfaction. He
merely thanked Fortune for what she had done for him, in addressing a
slight salutation to the young girl who had been chosen as her proxy.
Then receiving from the hands of Anne of Austria, amid the eager desire
of the whole assembly, the casket inclosing the bracelets, he said, "Are
these bracelets really beautiful, then?"

"Look at them," said Anne of Austria, "and judge for yourself."

The king looked at them, and said, "Yes, indeed, an admirable medallion.
What perfect finish!"

Queen Maria Theresa easily saw, and that, too at the very first glance,
that the king would not offer the bracelets to her; but, as he did not
seem the least degree in the world disposed to offer them to Madame, she
felt almost satisfied, or nearly so. The king sat down. The most
intimate among the courtiers approached, one by one, for the purpose of
admiring more closely the beautiful piece of workmanship, which soon,
with the king's permission, was handed about from person to person.
Immediately, every one, connoisseurs or not, uttered various exclamations
of surprise, and overwhelmed the king with congratulations. There was,
in fact, something for everybody to admire - the brilliance for some, and
the cutting for others. The ladies present visibly displayed their
impatience to see such a treasure monopolized by the gentlemen.

"Gentlemen, gentlemen," said the king, whom nothing escaped, "one would
almost think that you wore bracelets as the Sabines used to do; hand them
round for a while for the inspection of the ladies, who seem to have, and
with far greater right, an excuse for understanding such matters!"

These words appeared to Madame the commencement of a decision she
expected. She gathered, besides, this happy belief from the glances of
the queen-mother. The courtier who held them at the moment the king made
this remark, amidst the general agitation, hastened to place the
bracelets in the hands of the queen, Maria Theresa, who, knowing too
well, poor woman, that they were not designed for her, hardly looked at
them, and almost immediately passed them on to Madame. The latter, and
even more minutely, Monsieur, gave the bracelets a long look of anxious
and almost covetous desire. She then handed the jewels to those ladies
who were near her, pronouncing this single word, but with an accent which
was worth a long phrase, "Magnificent!"

The ladies who had received the bracelets from Madame's hands looked at
them as long as they chose to examine them, and then made them circulate
by passing them on towards the right. During this time the king was
tranquilly conversing with De Guiche and Fouquet, rather passively
letting them talk than himself listening. Accustomed to the set form of
ordinary phrases, his ear, like that of all men who exercise an
incontestable superiority over others, merely selected from the
conversations held in various directions the indispensable word which
requires reply. His attention, however, was now elsewhere, for it
wandered as his eyes did.

Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente was the last of the ladies inscribed for
tickets; and, as if she had ranked according to her name upon the list,
she had only Montalais and La Valliere near her. When the bracelets
reached these two latter, no one appeared to take any further notice of
them. The humble hands which for a moment touched these jewels, deprived
them, for the time, of their importance - a circumstance which did not,
however, prevent Montalais from starting with joy, envy, and covetous
desire, at the sight of the beautiful stones still more than at their
magnificent workmanship. It is evident that if she were compelled to
decide between the pecuniary value and the artistic beauty, Montalais
would unhesitatingly have preferred diamonds to cameos, and her
disinclination, therefore, to pass them on to her companion, La Valliere,
was very great. La Valliere fixed a look almost of indifference upon the

"Oh, how beautiful, how magnificent these bracelets are!" exclaimed
Montalais; "and yet you do not go into ecstasies about them, Louise! You
are no true woman, I am sure."

"Yes, I am, indeed," replied the young girl, with an accent of the most
charming melancholy; "but why desire that which can never, by any
possibility, be ours?"

The king, his head bent forward, was listening to what Louise was
saying. Hardly had the vibration of her voice reached his ear than he
rose, radiant with delight, and passing across the whole assembly, from
the place where he stood, to La Valliere, "You are mistaken,
mademoiselle," he said, "you are a woman, and every woman has a right to
wear jewels, which are a woman's appurtenance."

"Oh, sire!" said La Valliere, "your majesty will not absolutely believe
in my modesty?"

"I believe you possess every virtue, mademoiselle; frankness as well as
every other; I entreat you, therefore, to say frankly what you think of
these bracelets?"

"That they are beautiful, sire, and cannot be offered to any other than a

"I am delighted that such is your opinion, mademoiselle; the bracelets
are yours, and the king begs your acceptance of them."

And as, with a movement almost resembling terror, La Valliere eagerly
held out the casket to the king, the king gently pushed back her
trembling hand.

A silence of astonishment, more profound than that of death, reigned in
the assembly.

And yet, from the side where the queens were, no one had heard what he
had said, nor understood what he had done. A charitable friend, however,
took upon herself to spread the news; it was Tonnay-Charente, to whom
Madame had made a sign to approach.

"Good heavens!" explained Tonnay-Charente, "how happy that La Valliere
is! the king has just given her the bracelets."

Madame bit her lips to such a degree that the blood appeared upon the
surface of the skin. The young queen looked first at La Valliere and
then at Madame, and began to laugh. Anne of Austria rested her chin upon
her beautiful white hand, and remained for a long time absorbed by a
presentiment that disturbed her mind, and by a terrible pang which stung
her heart. De Guiche, observing Madame turn pale, and guessing the cause
of her change of color, abruptly quitted the assembly and disappeared.
Malicorne was then able to approach Montalais very quietly, and under
cover of the general din of conversation, said to her:

"Aure, your fortune and our future are standing at your elbow."

"Yes," was her reply, as she tenderly embraced La Valliere, whom,
inwardly, she was tempted to strangle.

End of Ten Years Later. The next text in the series is Louise de la


1. In the three-volume edition, Volume 1, entitled The Vicomte de
Bragelonne, ends here.
2. In most other editions, the previous chapter and the next are
usually combined into one chapter, entitled "D'Artagnan calls
De Wardes to account."
3. Dumas is mistaken. The events in the following chapters
occurred in 1661.
4. In the five-volume edition, Volume 2 ends here.
5. The verses in this chapter have been re-written to give the
flavor of them rather than the meaning. A more literal translation
would look like this:

"Guiche is the furnisher
Of the maids of honor."

and -

"He has stocked the birdcage;
Montalais and - "

It would be more accurate, though, to say "baited" rather than
"stocked" in the second couplet.
6. The Latin translates to "The spirit is willing, but the flesh
is weak."
7. "Ad majorem Dei gloriam" was the motto of the Jesuits. It
translates to "For the greater glory of God."
8. "In the presence of these men?"
9. "By this sign you shall conquer."
10. "It rained all night long; the games will be held tomorrow."
11. "Lord, I am not worthy."

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