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Ten Years Later by Alexandre Dumas, Pere

Part 7 out of 13

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still holding her hand all the while. Their momentary silence seemed to
last an age. Madame gently withdrew her hand, and from that moment, she
felt her triumph was certain, and that the field of battle was her own.

"Monsieur complains," said the king, "that you prefer the society of
private individuals to his own conversation and society."

"But Monsieur passes his life in looking at his face in the glass, and in
plotting all sorts of spiteful things against women with the Chevalier de

"Oh, you are going somewhat too far."

"I only tell you what is true. Do you observe for yourself, sire, and
you will see that I am right."

"I will observe; but, in the meantime, what satisfaction can I give my

"My departure."

"You repeat that word," exclaimed the king, imprudently, as if, during
the last ten minutes, such a change had been produced that Madame would
have had all her ideas on the subject thoroughly changed.

"Sire, I cannot be happy here any longer," she said. "M. de Guiche
annoys Monsieur. Will he be sent away, too?"

"If it be necessary, why not?" replied the king, smiling.

"Well; and after M. de Guiche - whom, by the by, I shall regret - I warn
you, sire."

"Ah, you will regret him?"

"Certainly; he is amiable, he has a great friendship for me, and he
amuses me."

"If Monsieur were only to hear you," said the king, slightly annoyed, "do
you know I would not undertake to make it up again between you; nay, I
would not even attempt it."

"Sire, can you, even now, prevent Monsieur from being jealous of the
first person who may approach? I know very well that M. de Guiche is not
the first."

"Again I warn you that as a good brother I shall take a dislike to De

"Ah, sire, do not, I entreat you, adopt either the sympathies or the
dislikes of Monsieur. Remain king; better for yourself and for every one

"You jest charmingly, madame; and I can well understand how the people
you attack must adore you."

"And is that the reason why you, sire, whom I had regarded as my
defender, are about to join these who persecute me?" said Madame.

"I your persecutor! Heaven forbid!"

"Then," she continued, languishingly, "grant me a favor."

"Whatever you wish."

"Let me return to England."

"Never, never!" exclaimed Louis XIV.

"I am a prisoner, then?"

"In France - if France is a prison - yes."

"What must I do, then?"

"I will tell you. Instead of devoting yourself to friendships which are
somewhat unstable, instead of alarming us by your retirement, remain
always in our society, do not leave us, let us live as a united family.
M. de Guiche is certainly very amiable; but if, at least, we do not
possess his wit - "

"Ah, sire, you know very well you are pretending to be modest."

"No, I swear to you. One may be a king, and yet feel that he possesses
fewer chances of pleasing than many other gentlemen."

"I am sure, sire, that you do not believe a single word you are saying."

The king looked at Madame tenderly, and said, "Will you promise me one

"What is it?"

"That you will no longer waste upon strangers, in your own apartments,
the time which you owe us. Shall we make an offensive and defensive
alliance against the common enemy?"

"An alliance with you, sire?"

"Why not? Are you not a sovereign power?"

"But are you, sire, a reliable ally?"

"You shall see, madame."

"And when shall this alliance commence?"

"This very day."

"I will draw up the treaty, and you shall sign it."


"Then, sire, I promise you wonders; you are the star of the court, and
when you make your appearance, everything will be resplendent."

"Oh, madame, madame," said Louis XIV., "you know well that there is no
brilliancy that does not proceed from yourself, and that if I assume the
sun as my device, it is only an emblem."

"Sire, you flatter your ally, and you wish to deceive her," said Madame,
threatening the king with her finger menacingly raised.

"What! you believe I am deceiving you, when I assure you of my affection?"


"What makes you so suspicious?"

"One thing."

"What is it? I shall indeed be unhappy if I do not overcome it."

"That one thing in question, sire, is not in your power, not even in the
power of Heaven."

"Tell me what it is."

"The past."

"I do not understand, madame," said the king, precisely because he had
understood her but too well.

The princess took his hand in hers. "Sire," she said, "I have had the
misfortune to displease you for so long a period, that I have almost the
right to ask myself to-day why you were able to accept me as a sister-in-

"Displease me! You have displeased me?"

"Nay, do not deny it, for I remember it well."

"Our alliance shall date from to-day," exclaimed the king, with a warmth
that was not assumed. "You will not think any more of the past, will
you? I myself am resolved that I will not. I shall always remember the
present; I have it before my eyes; look." And he led the princess before
a mirror, in which she saw herself reflected, blushing and beautiful
enough to overcome a saint.

"It is all the same," she murmured; "it will not be a very worthy

"Must I swear?" inquired the king, intoxicated by the voluptuous turn the
whole conversation had taken.

"Oh, I will not refuse to witness a resounding oath," said Madame; "it
has always the _semblance_ of security."

The king knelt upon a footstool and took Madame's hand. She, with a
smile that no painter could ever succeed in depicting, and which a poet
might only imagine, gave him both her hands, in which he hid his burning
face. Neither of them could utter a syllable. The king felt Madame
withdraw her hands, caressing his face while she did so. He rose
immediately and left the apartment. The courtiers remarked his
heightened color, and concluded that the scene had been a stormy one.
The Chevalier de Lorraine, however, hastened to say, "Nay, be comforted,
gentlemen, his majesty is always pale when he is angry."

Chapter XXXIV:
The Advisers.

The king left Madame in a state of agitation it would have been difficult
even for himself to have explained. It is impossible, in fact, to depict
the secret play of those strange sympathies which, suddenly and
apparently without any cause, are excited, after many years passed in the
greatest calmness and indifference, by two hearts destined to love each
other. Why had Louis formerly disdained, almost hated, Madame? Why did
he now find the same woman so beautiful, so captivating? And why, not
only were his thoughts occupied about her, but still more, why were they
so continuously occupied about her? Why, in fact, had Madame, whose eyes
and mind were sought for in another direction, shown during the last week
towards the king a semblance of favor which encouraged the belief of
still greater regard. It must not be supposed that Louis proposed to
himself any plan of seduction; the tie which united Madame to his brother
was, or at least, seemed to him, an insuperable barrier; he was even too
far removed from that barrier to perceive its existence. But on the
downward path of those passions in which the heart rejoices, towards
which youth impels us, no one can decide where to stop, not even the man
who has in advance calculated all the chances of his own success or
another's submission. As far as Madame was concerned, her regard for the
king may easily be explained: she was young, a coquette, and ardently
fond of admiration. Hers was one of those buoyant, impetuous natures,
which upon a theatre would leap over the greatest obstacles to obtain an
acknowledgement of applause from the spectators. It was not surprising,
then, that, after having been adored by Buckingham, by De Guiche, who was
superior to Buckingham, even if it were only from that negative merit, so
much appreciated by women, that is to say, novelty - it was not
surprising, we say, that the princess should raise her ambition to being
admired by the king, who not only was the first person in the kingdom,
but was one of the handsomest and cleverest men in Europe. As for the
sudden passion with which Louis was inspired for his sister-in-law,
physiology would perhaps supply an explanation by some hackneyed
commonplace reasons, and nature by means of her mysterious affinity of
characters. Madame had the most beautiful black eyes in the world;
Louis, eyes as beautiful, but blue. Madame was laughter-loving and
unreserved in her manners; Louis, melancholy and diffident. Summoned to
meet each other for the first time upon the grounds of interest and
common curiosity, these two opposite natures were mutually influenced by
the mingling of their reciprocal contradictions of character. Louis,
when he returned to his own rooms, acknowledged to himself that Madame
was the most attractive woman of his court. Madame, left alone,
delightedly thought that she had made a great impression on the king.
This feeling with her must remain passive, whilst the king could not but
act with all the natural vehemence of the heated fancies of a young man,
and of a young man who has but to express a wish to see his wish fulfilled.

The first thing the king did was to announce to Monsieur that everything
was quietly arranged; that Madame had the greatest respect, the sincerest
affection for him; but that she was of a proud, impetuous character, and
that her susceptibilities were so acute as to require very careful

Monsieur replied in the reticent tone of voice he generally adopted with
his brother, that he could not very well understand the susceptibilities
of a woman whose conduct might, in his opinion, expose her to censorious
remarks, and that if any one had a right to feel wounded, it was he,
Monsieur himself. To this the king replied in a quick tone of voice,
which showed the interest he took in his sister-in-law, "Thank Heaven,
Madame is above censure."

"The censure of others, certainly, I admit," said Monsieur; "but not
above mine, I presume."

"Well," said the king, "all I have to say, Philip, is that Madame's
conduct does not deserve your censure. She certainly is heedless and
singular, but professes the best feelings. The English character is not
always well understood in France, and the liberty of English manners
sometimes surprises those who do not know the extent to which this
liberty is enriched by innocence."

"Ah!" said Monsieur, more and more piqued, "from the very moment that
your majesty absolves my wife, whom I accuse, my wife is not guilty, and
I have nothing more to say."

"Philip," replied the king hastily, for he felt the voice of conscience
murmuring softly in his heart, that Monsieur was not altogether wrong,
"what I have done, and what I have said, has been only for your
happiness. I was told that you complained of a want of confidence and
attention on Madame's part, and I did not wish your uneasiness to be
prolonged. It is part of my duty to watch over your household, as over
that of the humblest of my subjects. I have satisfied myself, therefore,
with the sincerest pleasure, that your apprehensions have no foundation."

"And," continued Monsieur, in an interrogative tone of voice, and fixing
his eyes upon his brother, "what your majesty has discovered for Madame
and I bow myself to your superior judgment - have you verified for those
who have been the cause of the scandal of which I complain?"

"You are right, Philip," said the king; "I will reserve that point for
future consideration."

These words comprised an order as well as a consolation; the prince felt
it to be so, and withdrew.

As for Louis, he went to seek his mother, for he felt that he had need of
a more complete absolution than that he had just received from his
brother. Anne of Austria did not entertain for M. de Guiche the same
reasons for indulgence she had had for Buckingham. She perceived, at the
very first words he pronounced, that Louis was not disposed to be severe.

To appear in a contradictory humor was one of the stratagems of the good
queen, in order to succeed in ascertaining the truth. But Louis was no
longer in his apprenticeship; already for more than a year past he had
been king, and during that year he had learned how to dissemble.
Listening to Anne of Austria, in order to permit her to disclose her own
thoughts, testifying his approval only by look and gesture, he became
convinced, from certain piercing glances, and from certain skillful
insinuations, that the queen, so clear-sighted in matters of gallantry,
had, if not guessed, at least suspected, his weakness for Madame. Of all
his auxiliaries, Anne of Austria would be the most important to secure;
of all his enemies, Anne of Austria would prove most dangerous. Louis,
therefore, changed his maneuvers. He complained of Madame, absolved
Monsieur, listened to what his mother had to say of De Guiche, as he had
previously listened to what she had to say of Buckingham, and then, when
he saw that she thought she had gained a complete victory over him, he
left her.

The whole of the court, that is to say, all the favorites and more
intimate associates, and they were numerous, since there were already
five masters, were assembled in the evening for the repetition of the
ballet. This interval had been occupied by poor De Guiche in receiving
visits; among the number was one which he hoped and feared nearly to an
equal extent. It was that of the Chevalier de Lorraine. About three
o'clock in the afternoon the chevalier entered De Guiche's rooms. His
looks were of the most reassuring character. "Monsieur," said he to De
Guiche, "was in an excellent humor, and no none could say that the
slightest cloud had passed across the conjugal sky. Besides, Monsieur
was not one to bear ill-feeling."

For a long time past, during his residence at the court, the Chevalier de
Lorraine had decided, that of Louis XIII.'s two sons, Monsieur was the
one who had inherited the father's character - an uncertain, irresolute
character; impulsively good, indifferently disposed at bottom; but
certainly a cipher for his friends. He especially cheered De Guiche, by
pointing out to him that Madame would, before long, succeed in governing
her husband, and that, consequently, that man would govern Monsieur who
should succeed in influencing Madame.

To this, De Guiche full of mistrust and presence of mind, replied, "Yes,
chevalier; but I believe Madame to be a very dangerous person."

"In what respect?"

"She has perceived that Monsieur is not very passionately inclined
towards women."

"Quite true," said the Chevalier de Lorraine, laughing.

"In that case, Madame will choose the first one who approaches, in order
to make him the object of her preference, and to bring back her husband
by jealousy."

"Deep! deep!" exclaimed the chevalier.

"But true," replied De Guiche.

Neither the one nor the other expressed his real thought. De Guiche, at
the very moment he thus attacked Madame's character, mentally asked her
forgiveness from the bottom of his heart. The chevalier, while admiring
De Guiche's penetration, was leading him, blindfolded, to the brink of
the precipice. De Guiche then questioned him more directly upon the
effect produced by the scene of the morning, and upon the still more
serious effect produced by the scene at dinner.

"But I have already told you they are all laughing at it," replied the
Chevalier de Lorraine, "and Monsieur himself at the head of them."

"Yet," hazarded De Guiche, "I have heard that the king paid Madame a

"Yes, precisely so. Madame was the only one who did not laugh, and the
king went to her in order to make her laugh, too."

"So that - "

"So that nothing is altered in the arrangements of the day," said the

"And is there a repetition of the ballet this evening?"


"Are you sure?"

"Quite," returned the chevalier.

At this moment of the conversation between the two young men, Raoul
entered, looking full of anxiety. As soon as the chevalier, who had a
secret dislike for him, as for every other noble character, perceived him
enter, he rose from his seat.

"What do you advise me to do, then?" inquired De Guiche of the chevalier.

"I advise you to go to sleep in perfect tranquillity, my dear count."

"And my advice, De Guiche," said Raoul, "is the very opposite."

"What is that?"

"To mount your horse and set off at once for one of your estates; on your
arrival, follow the chevalier's advice, if you like; and, what is more,
you can sleep there as long and as tranquilly as you please."

"What! set off!" exclaimed the chevalier, feigning surprise; "why should
De Guiche set off?"

"Because, and you cannot be ignorant of it - you particularly so
because every one is talking about the scene which has passed between
Monsieur and De Guiche."

De Guiche turned pale.

"Not at all," replied the chevalier, "not at all; and you have been
wrongly informed, M. de Bragelonne."

"I have been perfectly well informed, on the contrary, monsieur," replied
Raoul, "and the advice I give De Guiche is that of a friend."

During this discussion, De Guiche, somewhat shaken, looked alternately
first at one and then at the other of his advisers. He inwardly felt
that a game, important in all its consequences for the rest of his life,
was being played at that moment.

"Is it not fact," said the chevalier, putting the question to the count
himself, "is it not fact, De Guiche, that the scene was not so
tempestuous as the Vicomte de Bragelonne seems to think, and who,
moreover, was not himself there?"

"Whether tempestuous or not," persisted Raoul, "it is not precisely of
the scene itself that I am speaking, but of the consequences that may
ensue. I know that Monsieur has threatened, I know that Madame has been
in tears."

"Madame in tears!" exclaimed De Guiche, imprudently clasping his hands.

"Ah!" said the chevalier, laughing, "this is indeed a circumstance I was
not acquainted with. You are decidedly better informed than I am,
Monsieur de Bragelonne."

"And it is because I am better informed than yourself, chevalier, that I
insist upon De Guiche leaving."

"No, no; I regret to differ from you, vicomte; but his departure is
unnecessary. Why, indeed, should he leave? tell us why."

"The king!"

"The king!" exclaimed De Guiche.

"Yes; I tell you the king has taken up the affair."

"Bah!" said the chevalier, "the king likes De Guiche, and particularly
his father; reflect, that, if the count were to leave, it would be an
admission that he had done something which merited rebuke."

"Why so?"

"No doubt of it; when one runs away, it is either from guilt or fear."

"Sometimes, because a man is offended; often because he is wrongfully
accused," said Bragelonne. "We will assign as a reason for his
departure, that he feels hurt and injured - nothing will be easier; we
will say that we both did our utmost to keep him, and you, at least, will
not be speaking otherwise than the truth. Come, De Guiche, you are
innocent, and, being so, the scene of to-day must have wounded you. So
set off."

"No, De Guiche, remain where you are," said the chevalier; "precisely as
M. de Bragelonne has put it, because you are innocent. Once more,
forgive me, vicomte; but my opinion is the very opposite to your own."

"And you are at perfect liberty to maintain it, monsieur; but be assured
that the exile which De Guiche will voluntarily impose upon himself will
be of short duration. He can terminate it whenever he pleases, and
returning from his voluntary exile, he will meet with smiles from all
lips; while, on the contrary, the anger of the king may now draw down a
storm upon his head, the end of which no one can foresee."

The chevalier smiled, and muttered to himself, "That is the very thing I
wish." And at the same time he shrugged his shoulders, a movement which
did not escape the count, who dreaded, if he quitted the court, to seem
to yield to a feeling of fear.

"No, no; I have decided, Bragelonne; I stay."

"I prophesy, then," said Raoul, sadly, "that misfortune will befall you,
De Guiche."

"I, too, am a prophet, but not a prophet of evil; on the contrary, count,
I say to you, 'remain.'"

"Are you sure," inquired De Guiche, "that the repetition of the ballet
still takes place?"

"Quite sure."

"Well, you see, Raoul," continued De Guiche, endeavoring to smile, "you
see, the court is not so very sorrowful, or so readily disposed for
internal dissensions, when dancing is carried on with such assiduity.
Come, acknowledge that," said the count to Raoul, who shook his head,
saying, "I have nothing to add."

"But," inquired the chevalier, curious to learn whence Raoul had obtained
his information, the exactitude of which he was inwardly forced to admit,
"since you say you are well informed, vicomte, how can you be better
informed than myself, who am one of the prince's most intimate

"To such a declaration I submit. You certainly ought to be perfectly
well informed, I admit; and, as a man of honor is incapable of saying
anything but what he knows to be true, or of speaking otherwise than what
he thinks, I will say no more, but confess myself defeated, and leave you
in possession of the field of battle."

Whereupon Raoul, who now seemed only to care to be left quiet, threw
himself upon a couch, whilst the count summoned his servants to aid him
in dressing. The chevalier, finding that time was passing away, wished
to leave; but he feared, too, that Raoul, left alone with De Guiche,
might yet influence him to change his mind. He therefore made use of his
last resource.

"Madame," he said, "will be brilliant; she appears to-day in her costume
of Pomona."

"Yes, that is so," exclaimed the count.

"And she has just given directions in consequence," continued the
chevalier. "You know, Monsieur de Bragelonne, that the king is to appear
as Spring."

"It will be admirable," said De Guiche; "and that is a better reason for
me to remain than any you have yet given, because I am to appear as
Autumn, and shall have to dance with Madame. I cannot absent myself
without the king's orders, since my departure would interrupt the ballet."

"I," said the chevalier, "am to be only a simple _egypan_; true, it is, I
am a bad dancer, and my legs are not well made. Gentlemen, adieu. Do
not forget the basket of fruit, which you are to offer to Pomona, count."

"Rest assured," said De Guiche, delightedly, "I shall forget nothing."

"I am now quite certain that he will remain," murmured the Chevalier de
Lorraine to himself.

Raoul, when the chevalier had left, did not even attempt to dissuade his
friend, for he felt that it would be trouble thrown away; he merely
observed to the comte, in his melancholy and melodious voice, "You are
embarking in a most dangerous enterprise. I know you well; you go to
extremes in everything, and the lady you love does so, too. Admitting
for an instant that she should at last love you - "

"Oh, never!" exclaimed De Guiche.

"Why do you say never?"

"Because it would be a great misfortune for both of us."

"In that case, instead of regarding you simply imprudent, I cannot but
consider you absolutely mad."


"Are you perfectly sure - mind, answer me frankly - that you do not wish
her whom you love to make any sacrifice for you?"

"Yes, yes; quite sure."

"Love her, then, at a distance."

"What! at a distance?"

"Certainly; what matters being present or absent, since you expect
nothing from her? Love her portrait, a memento."


"Love is a shadow, an illusion, a chimera; be devoted to the affection
itself, in giving a name to your ideality."


"You turn away; your servants approach. I will say no more. In good or
bad fortune, De Guiche, depend on me."

"Indeed I shall do so."

"Very well; that is all I had to say to you. Spare no pains in your
person, De Guiche, and look your very best. Adieu."

"You will not be present, then, at the ballet, vicomte?"

"No; I shall have a visit to pay in town. Farewell, De Guiche."

The reception was to take place in the king's apartments. In the first
place, there were the queens, then Madame, and a few ladies of the court,
who had been carefully selected. A great number of courtiers, also
selected, occupied the time, before the dancing commenced, in conversing,
as people knew how to converse in those times. None of the ladies who
had received invitations appeared in the costumes of the _fete_, as the
Chevalier de Lorraine had predicted, but many conversations took place
about the rich and ingenious toilettes designed by different painters for
the ballet of "The Demi-Gods," for thus were termed the kings and queens
of which Fontainebleau was about to become the Pantheon. Monsieur
arrived, holding in his hand a drawing representing his character; he
looked somewhat anxious; he bowed courteously to the young queen and his
mother, but saluted Madame almost cavalierly. His notice of her and his
coldness of manner were observed by all. M. de Guiche indemnified the
princess by a look of passionate devotion, and it must be admitted that
Madame, as she raised her eyes, returned it to him with interest. It is
unquestionable that De Guiche had never looked so handsome, for Madame's
glance had its customary effect of lighting up the features of the son of
the Marshal de Gramont. The king's sister-in-law felt a storm mustering
above her head; she felt, too, that during the whole of the day, so
fruitful in future events, she had acted unjustly, if not treasonably,
towards one who loved her with such a depth of devotion. In her eyes the
moment seemed to have arrived for an acknowledgement to the poor victim
of the injustice of the morning. Her heart spoke, and murmured the name
of De Guiche; the count was sincerely pitied and accordingly gained the
victory over all others. Neither Monsieur, nor the king, nor the Duke of
Buckingham, was any longer thought of; De Guiche at that moment reigned
without a rival. But although Monsieur also looked very handsome, still
he could not be compared to the count. It is well known - indeed all
women say so - that a wide difference invariably exists between the good
looks of a lover and those of a husband. Besides, in the present case,
after Monsieur had left, and after the courteous and affectionate
recognition of the young queen and of the queen-mother, and the careless
and indifferent notice of Madame, which all the courtiers had remarked;
all these motives gave the lover the advantage over the husband.
Monsieur was too great a personage to notice these details. Nothing is
so certain as a well settled idea of superiority to prove the inferiority
of the man who has that opinion of himself. The king arrived. Every one
looked for what might possibly happen in the glance, which began to
bestir the world, like the brow of Jupiter Tonans. Louis had none of
his brother's gloominess, but was perfectly radiant. Having examined the
greater part of the drawings which were displayed for his inspection on
every side, he gave his opinion or made his remarks upon them, and in
this manner rendered some happy and others wretched by a single word.
Suddenly his glance, which was smilingly directed towards Madame,
detected the slight correspondence established between the princess and
the count. He bit his lips, but when he opened them again to utter a few
commonplace remarks, he said, advancing towards the queens: -

"I have just been informed that everything is now prepared at
Fontainebleau, in accordance with my directions." A murmur of
satisfaction arose from the different groups, and the king perceived on
every face the greatest anxiety to receive an invitation for the
_fetes_. "I shall leave to-morrow," he added. Whereupon the profoundest
silence immediately ensued. "And I invite," said the king, finishing,
"all those who are now present to get ready to accompany me."

Smiling faces were now everywhere visible, with the exception of
Monsieur, who seemed to retain his ill-humor. The different noblemen and
ladies of the court thereupon defiled before the king, one after the
other, in order to thank his majesty for the great honor which had been
conferred upon them by the invitation. When it came to De Guiche's turn,
the king said, "Ah! M. de Guiche, I did not see you."

The comte bowed, and Madame turned pale. De Guiche was about to open his
lips to express his thanks, when the king said, "Comte, this is the
season for farming purposes in the country; I am sure your tenants in
Normandy will be glad to see you."

The king, after this pitiless attack, turned his back on the poor comte,
whose turn it was now to become pale; he advanced a few steps towards the
king, forgetting that the king is never spoken to except in reply to
questions addressed.

"I have perhaps misunderstood your majesty," he stammered out.

The king turned his head slightly, and with a cold and stern glance,
which plunged like a sword relentlessly into the hearts of those under
disgrace, repeated, "I said retire to your estates," allowing every
syllable to fall slowly one by one.

A cold perspiration bedewed the comte's face, his hands convulsively
opened, and his hat, which he held between his trembling fingers, fell to
the ground. Louis sought his mother's glance, as though to show her that
he was master; he sought his brother's triumphant look, as if to ask him
if he were satisfied with the vengeance taken; and lastly, his eyes fell
upon Madame; but the princess was laughing and smiling with Madame de
Noailles. She heard nothing, or rather had pretended not to hear at
all. The Chevalier de Lorraine looked on also, with one of those looks
of fixed hostility that seemed to give to a man's glance the power of a
lever when it raises an obstacle, wrests it away, and casts it to a
distance. M. de Guiche was left alone in the king's cabinet, the whole
of the company having departed. Shadows seemed to dance before his
eyes. He suddenly broke through the settled despair that overwhelmed
him, and flew to hide himself in his own room, where Raoul awaited him,
immovable in his own sad presentiments.

"Well?" he murmured, seeing his friend enter, bareheaded, with a wild
gaze and tottering gait.

"Yes, yes, it is true," said De Guiche, unable to utter more, and falling
exhausted upon the couch.

"And she?" inquired Raoul.

"She," exclaimed his unhappy friend, as he raised his hand clenched in
anger, towards Heaven. "She! - "

"What did she say and do?"

"She said that her dress suited her admirably, and then she laughed."

A fit of hysteric laughter seemed to shatter his nerves, for he fell
backwards, completely overcome.

Chapter XXXV:

For four days, every kind of enchantment brought together in the
magnificent gardens of Fontainebleau had converted this spot into a place
of the most perfect enjoyment. M. Colbert seemed gifted with ubiquity.
In the morning there were the accounts of the previous night's expenses
to settle; during the day, programmes, essays, enrolments, payments. M.
Colbert had amassed four millions of francs, and dispersed them with
sleepless economy. He was horrified at the expenses which mythology
involved; not a wood nymph, nor a dryad, that cost less than a hundred
francs a day! The dress alone amounted to three hundred francs. The
expense of powder and sulphur for fireworks amounted, every night, to a
hundred thousand francs. In addition to these, the illuminations on the
borders of the sheet of water cost thirty thousand francs every evening.
The _fetes_ had been magnificent; and Colbert could not restrain his
delight. From time to time, he noticed Madame and the king setting forth
on hunting expeditions, or preparing for the reception of different
fantastic personages, solemn ceremonials, which had been extemporized a
fortnight before, and in which Madame's sparkling wit and the king's
magnificence were equally well displayed.

For Madame, the heroine of the _fete_, replied to the addresses of the
deputations from unknown races - Garamanths, Scythians, Hyperboreans,
Caucasians, and Patagonians, who seemed to issue from the ground for the
purpose of approaching her with their congratulations; and upon every
representative of these races the king bestowed a diamond, or some other
article of value. Then the deputies, in verses more or less amusing,
compared the king to the sun, Madame to Phoebe, the sun's sister, and the
queen and Monsieur were no more spoken of than if the king had married
Henrietta of England, and not Maria Theresa of Austria. The happy pair,
hand in hand, imperceptibly pressing each other's fingers, drank in deep
draughts the sweet beverage of adulation, by which the attractions of
youth, beauty, power and love are enhanced. Every one at Fontainebleau
was amazed at the extent of the influence which Madame had so rapidly
acquired over the king, and whispered among themselves that Madame was,
in point of fact, the true queen; and in effect, the king himself
proclaimed its truth by his every thought, word, and look. He formed his
wishes, he drew his inspirations from Madame's eyes, and his delight was
unbounded when Madame deigned to smile upon him. And was Madame, on her
side, intoxicated with the power she wielded, as she beheld every one at
her feet? This was a question she herself could hardly answer; but what
she did know was, that she could frame no wish, and that she felt herself
to be perfectly happy. The result of all these changes, the source of
which emanated from the royal will, was that Monsieur, instead of being
the second person in the kingdom, had, in reality, become the third. And
it was now far worse than in the time when De Guiche's guitars were heard
in Madame's apartments; for, then, at least, Monsieur had the
satisfaction of frightening those who annoyed him. Since the departure,
however, of the enemy, who had been driven away by means of his alliance
with the king, Monsieur had to submit to a burden, heavier, but in a very
different sense, to his former one. Every evening Madame returned home
quite exhausted. Horse-riding, bathing in the Seine, spectacles, dinners
under the leafy covert of the trees, balls on the banks of the grand
canal, concerts, etc., etc.; all this would have been sufficient to have
killed, not a slight and delicate woman, but the strongest porter in the
_chateau_. It is perfectly true that, with regard to dancing, concerts,
and promenades, and such matters, a woman is far stronger than the most
robust of porters. But, however great a woman's strength may be, there
is a limit to it, and she cannot hold out long under such a system. As
for Monsieur, he had not even the satisfaction of witnessing Madame's
abdication of her royalty in the evening, for she lived in the royal
pavilion with the young queen and the queen-mother. As a matter of
course, the Chevalier de Lorraine did not quit Monsieur, and did not fail
to distil drops of gall into every wound the latter received. The result
was, that Monsieur - who had at first been in the highest spirits, and
completely restored since Guiche's departure - subsided into his
melancholy state three days after the court was installed at

It happened, however, that, one day, about two o'clock in the afternoon,
Monsieur, who had risen late, and had bestowed upon his toilet more than
his usual attention, - it happened, we repeat, that Monsieur, who had not
heard of any plans having been arranged for the day, formed the project
of collecting his own court, and of carrying Madame off with him to
Moret, where he possessed a charming country house. He accordingly went
to the queen's pavilion, and was astonished, on entering, to find none of
the royal servants in attendance. Quite alone, therefore, he entered the
rooms, a door on the left opening to Madame's apartment, the one on the
right to the young queen's. In his wife's apartment, Monsieur was
informed, by a sempstress who was working there, that every one had left
at eleven o'clock, for the purpose of bathing in the Seine, that a grand
_fete_ was to be made of the expedition, that all the carriages had been
placed at the park gates, and that they had all set out more than an hour

"Very good," said Monsieur, "the idea is a good one; the heat is very
oppressive, and I have no objection to bathe, too."

He summoned his servants, but no one came. He summoned those in
attendance on Madame, but everybody had gone out. He went to the
stables, where he was informed by a groom that there were no carriages of
any description. He desired that a couple of horses should be saddled,
one for himself and the other for his valet. The groom told him that all
the horses had been sent away. Monsieur, pale with anger, again
descended towards the queen's apartments, and penetrated as far as Anne
of Austria's oratory, where he perceived, through the half-opened
tapestry-hangings, his young and beautiful sister on her knees before the
queen-mother, who appeared weeping bitterly. He had not been either seen
or heard. He cautiously approached the opening, and listened, the sight
of so much grief having aroused his curiosity. Not only was the young
queen weeping, but she was complaining also. "Yes," she said, "the king
neglects me, the king devotes himself to pleasures and amusements only,
in which I have no share."

"Patience, patience, my daughter," said Anne of Austria, in Spanish; and
then, also in Spanish, added some words of advice, which Monsieur did not
understand. The queen replied by accusations, mingled with sighs and
sobs, among which Monsieur often distinguished the word _banos_, which
Maria Theresa accentuated with spiteful anger.

"The baths," said Monsieur to himself; "it seems it is the baths that
have put her out." And he endeavored to put together the disconnected
phrases which he had been able to understand. It was easy to guess that
the queen was complaining bitterly, and that, if Anne of Austria did not
console her, she at least endeavored to do so. Monsieur was afraid to be
detected listening at the door and he therefore made up his mind to
cough; the two queens turned round at the sound and Monsieur entered. At
sight of the prince, the young queen rose precipitately, and dried her
tears. Monsieur, however, knew the people he had to deal with too well,
and was naturally too polite to remain silent, and he accordingly saluted
them. The queen-mother smiled pleasantly at him, saying, "What do you
want, Philip?"

"I? - nothing," stammered Monsieur. "I was looking for - "


"I was looking for Madame."

"Madame is at the baths."

"And the king?" said Monsieur, in a tone which made the queen tremble.

"The king also, the whole court as well," replied Anne of Austria.

"Except you, madame," said Monsieur.

"Oh! I," said the young queen, "I seem to terrify all those who amuse

"And so do I, - judging from appearances," rejoined Monsieur.

Anne of Austria made a sigh to her daughter-in-law, who withdrew, weeping.

Monsieur's brows contracted, as he remarked aloud, "What a cheerless
house. What do you think of it, mother?"

"Why, no; everybody here is pleasure-hunting."

"Yes, indeed, that is the very thing that makes those dull who do not
care for pleasure."

"In what a tone you say that, Philip."

"Upon my word, madame, I speak as I think."

"Explain yourself; what is the matter?"

"Ask my sister-in-law, rather, who, just now, was detailing all her
grievances to you."

"Her grievances, what - "

"Yes, I was listening; accidentally, I confess, but still I listened - so
that I heard only too well my sister complain of those famous baths of
Madame - "

"Ah! folly!"

"No, no, no; people are not always foolish when they weep. The queen
said _banos_, which means baths."

"I repeat, Philip," said Anne of Austria, "that your sister is childishly

"In that case, madame," replied the prince, "I, too, must with great
humility accuse myself of possessing the same defect."

"You also, Philip?"


"Are you really jealous of these baths?"

"And why not, madame, when the king goes to the baths with my wife, and
does not take the queen? Why not, when Madame goes to the baths with the
king, and does not do me the honor to even invite me? And you enjoin my
sister-in-law to be satisfied, and require me to be satisfied, too."

"You are raving, my dear Philip," said Anne of Austria; "you have driven
the Duke of Buckingham away; you have been the cause of M. de Guiche's
exile; do you now wish to send the king away from Fontainebleau?"

"I do not pretend to anything of the kind, madame," said Monsieur,
bitterly; "but, at least, I can withdraw, and I shall do so."

"Jealous of the king - jealous of your brother?"

"Yes, madame, I am jealous of the king - of my own brother, and
remarkably jealous, too."

"Really, Monsieur," exclaimed Anne of Austria, affecting to be indignant,
"I begin to believe you are mad, and a sworn enemy to my repose. I
therefore abandon the place to you, for I have no means of defending
myself against such monomanias."

She arose and left Monsieur a prey to the most extravagant transport of
passion. He remained for a moment completely bewildered; then,
recovering himself, again went to the stables, found the groom, once
more asked him for a carriage or a horse, and upon his reply that there
was neither the one or the other, Monsieur snatched a long whip from the
hand of a stable-boy, and began to pursue the poor devil of a groom all
round the servants' courtyard, whipping him the while, in spite of his
cries and excuses; then, quite out of breath, covered with perspiration,
and trembling in every limb, he returned to his own apartments, broke in
pieces some beautiful specimens of porcelain, and then got into bed,
booted and spurred as he was, crying out for some one to come to him. (4)

Chapter XXXVI:
The Bath.

At Vulaines, beneath the impenetrable shade of flowering osiers and
willows, which, as they bent down their green heads, dipped the
extremities of their branches in the blue waters, a long and flat-
bottomed boat, with ladders covered with long blue curtains, served as a
refuge for the bathing Dianas, who, as they left the water, were watched
by twenty plumed Acteons, who, eagerly, and full of admiration, galloped
up and down the flowery banks of the river. But Diana herself, even the
chaste Diana, clothed in her long chlamys, was less beautiful - less
impenetrable, than Madame, as young and beautiful as that goddess
herself. For, notwithstanding the fine tunic of the huntress, her round
and delicate knee can be seen; and notwithstanding the sonorous quiver,
her brown shoulders can be detected; whereas, in Madame's case, a long
white veil enveloped her, wrapping her round and round a hundred times,
as she resigned herself into the hands of her female attendants, and thus
was rendered inaccessible to the most indiscreet, as well as to the most
penetrating gaze. When she ascended the ladder, the poets were present
and all were poets when Madame was the subject of discussion - the twenty
poets who were galloping about, stopped, and with one voice, exclaimed
that pearls, and not drops of water, were falling from her person, to be
lost again in the happy river. The king, the center of these effusions,
and of this respectful homage, imposed silence upon those expatiators,
for whom it seemed impossible to exhaust their raptures, and he rode
away, for fear of offending, even through the silken curtains, the
modesty of the woman and the dignity of the princess. A great blank
thereupon ensued in the scene, and perfect silence in the boat. From the
movements on board - from the flutterings and agitations of the curtains
- the goings to and fro of the female attendants engaged in their duties,
could be guessed.

The king smilingly listened to the conversation of the courtiers around
him, but it could easily be perceived that he gave but little, if any,
attention to their remarks. In fact, hardly had the sound of the rings
drawn along the curtain-rods announced that Madame was dressed, and that
the goddess was about to make her reappearance, than the king, returning
to his former post immediately, and running quite close to the river-
bank, gave the signal for all those to approach whose duty or pleasure
summoned them to Madame's side. The pages hurried forward, conducting
the led horses; the carriages, which had remained sheltered under the
trees, advanced towards the tent, followed by a crowd of servants,
bearers, and female attendants, who, while their masters had been
bathing, had mutually exchanged their own observations, critical remarks,
and the discussion of matters personal - the fugitive journal of that
period, of which no one now remembers anything, not even by the waves,
the witnesses of what went on that day - themselves now sublimed into
immensity, as the actors have vanished into eternity.

A crowd of people swarming upon the banks of the river, without reckoning
the groups of peasants drawn together by their anxiety to see the king
and the princess, was, for many minutes, the most disorderly, but the
most agreeable, mob imaginable. The king dismounted from his horse, a
movement which was imitated by all the courtiers, and offered his hat to
Madame, whose rich riding-habit displayed her fine figure, which was set
off to great advantage by that garment, made of fine woolen cloth
embroidered with silver. Her hair, still damp and blacker than jet, hung
in heavy masses upon her white and delicate neck. Joy and health
sparkled in her beautiful eyes; composed, yet full of energy, she inhaled
the air in deep draughts, under a lace parasol, which was borne by one of
her pages. Nothing could be more charming, more graceful, more poetical,
than these two figures buried under the rose-colored shade of the
parasol, the king, whose white teeth were displayed in continual smiles,
and Madame, whose black eyes sparkled like carbuncles in the glittering
reflection of the changing hues of the silk. When Madame approached her
horse, a magnificent animal of Andalusian breed, of spotless white,
somewhat heavy, perhaps, but with a spirited and splendid head, in which
the mixture, happily combined, of Arabian and Spanish blood could be
readily traced, and whose long tail swept the ground; and as the princess
affected difficulty in mounting, the king took her in his arms in such a
manner that Madame's arm was clasped like a circlet of alabaster around
the king's neck. Louis, as he withdrew, involuntarily touched with his
lips the arm, which was not withheld, and the princess having thanked her
royal equerry, every one sprang to his saddle at the same moment. The
king and Madame drew aside to allow the carriages, the outriders, and
runners, to pass by. A fair proportion of the cavaliers, released from
the restraint etiquette had imposed upon them, gave the rein to their
horses, and darted after the carriages which bore the maids of honor, as
blooming as so many virgin huntresses around Diana, and the human
whirlwind, laughing, chattering, and noisy, passed onward.

The king and Madame, however, kept their horses in hand at a foot-pace.
Behind his majesty and his sister-in-law, certain of the courtiers
those, at least, who were seriously disposed or were anxious to be within
reach, or under the eyes, of the king - followed at a respectful
distance, restraining their impatient horses, regulating their pace by
that of the king and Madame, and abandoned themselves to all the delight
and gratification which is to be found in the conversation of clever
people, who can, with perfect courtesy, make a thousand atrocious, but
laughable remarks about their neighbors. In their stifled laughter, and
in the little reticences of their sardonic humor, Monsieur, the poor
absentee, was not spared. But they pitied, and bewailed greatly, the
fate of De Guiche, and it must be confessed that their compassion, as far
as he was concerned, was not misplaced. The king and Madame having
breathed the horses, and repeated a hundred times over such remarks as
the courtiers, who supplied them with talk, suggested to them, set off at
a hand gallop, and the leafy coverts of the forest resounded to the
footfalls of the mounted party. To the conversations beneath the shade
of the trees, - to remarks made in the shape of confidential
communications, and observations, mysteriously exchanged, succeeded the
noisiest bursts of laughter; - from the very outriders to royalty itself,
merriment seemed to spread. Every one began to laugh and to cry out.
The magpies and the jays fluttered away uttering their guttural cries,
beneath the waving avenues of oaks; the cuckoo staid his monotonous cry
in the recesses of the forest; the chaffinch and tomtit flew away in
clouds; while the terrified deer bounded riverwards from the midst of the
thickets. This crowd, spreading joy, confusion, and light wherever it
passed, was heralded, it may be said, to the chateau by its own clamor.
As the king and Madame entered the village, they were received by the
acclamations of the crowd. Madame hastened to look for Monsieur, for
she instinctively understood that he had been far too long kept from
sharing in this joy. The king went to rejoin the queens; he knew he owed
them - one especially - a compensation for his long absence. But Madame
was not admitted to Monsieur's apartments, and she was informed that
Monsieur was asleep. The king, instead of being met by Maria Theresa
smiling, as was usual with her, found Anne of Austria in the gallery
watching for his return, who advanced to meet him, and taking him by the
hand, led him to her own apartment. No one ever knew what was the nature
of the conversation which took place between them, or rather what it was
that the queen-mother said to Louis XIV.; but the general tenor of the
interview might certainly be guessed from the annoyed expression of the
king's face as he left her.

But we, whose mission it is to interpret all things, as it is also to
communicate our interpretations to our readers, - we should fail in our
duty, if we were to leave them in ignorance of the result of this
interview. It will be found sufficiently detailed, at least we hope so,
in the following chapter.

Chapter XXXVII:
The Butterfly-Chase.

The king, on retiring to his apartments to give some directions and to
arrange his ideas, found on his toilette-glass a small note, the
handwriting of which seemed disguised. He opened it and read - "Come
quickly, I have a thousand things to say to you." The king and Madame
had not been separated a sufficiently long time for these thousand things
to be the result of the three thousand which they had been saying to each
other during the route which separated Vulaines from Fontainebleau. The
confused and hurried character of the note gave the king a great deal to
reflect upon. He occupied himself but slightly with his toilette, and
set off to pay his visit to Madame. The princess, who did not wish to
have the appearance of expecting him, had gone into the gardens with the
ladies of her suite. When the king was informed that Madame had left her
apartments and had gone for a walk in the gardens, he collected all the
gentlemen he could find, and invited them to follow him. He found Madame
engaged in chasing butterflies, on a large lawn bordered with heliotrope
and flowering broom. She was looking on as the most adventurous and
youngest of her ladies ran to and fro, and with her back turned to a high
hedge, very impatiently awaited the arrival of the king, with whom she
had appointed the rendezvous. The sound of many feet upon the gravel
walk made her turn round. Louis XIV. was hatless, he had struck down
with his cane a peacock butterfly, which Monsieur de Saint-Aignan had
picked up from the ground quite stunned.

"You see, Madame," said the king, as he approached her, "that I, too, am
hunting on your behalf!" and then, turning towards those who had
accompanied him, said, "Gentlemen, see if each of you cannot obtain as
much for these ladies," a remark which was a signal for all to retire.
And thereupon a curious spectacle might have been observed; old and
corpulent courtiers were seen running after butterflies, losing their
hats as they ran, and with their raised canes cutting down the myrtles
and the furze, as they would have done the Spaniards.

The king offered Madame his arm, and they both selected, as the center of
observation, a bench with a roof of boards and moss, a kind of hut
roughly designed by the modest genius of one of the gardeners who had
inaugurated the picturesque and fanciful amid the formal style of the
gardening of that period. This sheltered retreat, covered with
nasturtiums and climbing roses, screened the bench, so that the
spectators, insulated in the middle of the lawn, saw and were seen on
every side, but could not be heard, without perceiving those who might
approach for the purpose of listening. Seated thus, the king made a sign
of encouragement to those who were running about; and then, as if he were
engaged with Madame in a dissertation upon the butterfly, which he had
thrust through with a gold pin and fastened on his hat, said to her, "How
admirably we are placed here for conversations."

"Yes, sire, for I wished to be heard by you alone, and yet to be seen by
every one."

"And I also," said Louis.

"My note surprised you?"

"Terrified me rather. But what I have to tell you is more important."

"It cannot be, sire. Do you know that Monsieur refuses to see me?"

"Why so?"

"Can you not guess why?"

"Ah, Madame! in that case we have both the same thing to say to each other."

"What has happened to you, then?"

"You wish me to begin?"

"Yes, for I have told you all."

"Well, then, as soon as I returned, I found my mother waiting for me, and
she led me away to her own apartments."

"The queen-mother?" said Madame, with some anxiety, "the matter is
serious then."

"Indeed it is, for she told me... but, in the first place, allow me to
preface what I have to say with one remark. Has Monsieur ever spoken to
you about me?"


"Has he ever spoken to you about his jealousy?"

"More frequently still."

"Of his jealousy of me?"

"No, but of the Duke of Buckingham and De Guiche."

"Well, Madame, Monsieur's present idea is a jealousy of myself."

"Really," replied the princess, smiling archly.

"And it really seems to me," continued the king, "that we have never
given any ground - "

"Never! at least _I_ have not. But who told you that Monsieur was

"My mother represented to me that Monsieur entered her apartments like a
madman, that he uttered a thousand complaints against you, and - forgive
me for saying it - against your coquetry. It appears that Monsieur
indulges in injustice, too."

"You are very kind, sire."

"My mother reassured him; but he pretended that people reassure him too
often, and that he had had quite enough of it."

"Would it not be better for him not to make himself uneasy in any way?"

"The very thing I said."

"Confess, sire, that the world is very wicked. Is it possible that a
brother and sister cannot converse together, or take pleasure in each
other's company, without giving rise to remarks and suspicions? For
indeed, sire, we are doing no harm, and have no intention of doing any."
And she looked at the king with that proud yet provoking glance that
kindles desire in the coldest and wisest of men.

"No!" sighed the king, "that is true."

"You know very well, sire, that if it were to continue, I should be
obliged to make a disturbance. Do you decide upon our conduct, and say
whether it has, or has not, been perfectly correct."

"Oh, certainly - perfectly correct."

"Often alone together, - for we delight in the same things, - we might
possibly be led away into error, but _have_ we been? I regard you as a
brother, and nothing more."

The king frowned. She continued:

"Your hand, which often meets my own, does not excite in me that
agitation and emotion which is the case with those who love each other,
for instance - "

"Enough," said the king, "enough, I entreat you. You have no pity - you
are killing me."

"What is the matter?"

"In fact, then, you distinctly say you experience nothing when near me."

"Oh, sire! I don't say that - my affection - "

"Enough, Henrietta, I again entreat you. If you believe me to be marble,
as you are, undeceive yourself."

"I do not understand you, sire."

"Very well," said the king, casting down his eyes. "And so our meetings,
the pressure of each other's hand, the looks we have exchanged - Yes,
yes; you are right, and I understand your meaning," and he buried his
face in his hands.

"Take care, sire," said Madame, hurriedly, "Monsieur de Saint-Aignan is
looking at you."

"Of course," said Louis, angrily; "never even the shadow of liberty!
never any sincerity in my intercourse with any one! I imagine I have
found a friend, who is nothing but a spy; a dearer friend, who is only a
- sister!"

Madame was silent, and cast down her eyes.

"My husband is jealous," she murmured, in a tone of which nothing could
equal its sweetness and charm.

"You are right," exclaimed the king, suddenly.

"You see," she said, looking at him in a manner that set his heart on
fire, "you are free, you are not suspected, the peace of your house is
not disturbed."

"Alas," said the king, "as yet you know nothing, for the queen is

"Maria Theresa!"

"Stark mad with jealousy! Monsieur's jealousy arises from hers; she was
weeping and complaining to my mother, and was reproaching us for those
bathing parties, which have made me so happy."

"And me too," answered Madame, by a look.

"When, suddenly," continued the king, "Monsieur, who was listening, heard
the word '_banos_,' which the queen pronounced with some degree of
bitterness, that awakened his attention; he entered the room, looking
quite wild, broke into the conversation, and began to quarrel with my
mother so bitterly that she was obliged to leave him; so that, while you
have a jealous husband to deal with, I shall have perpetually present
before me a specter of jealousy with swollen eyes, a cadaverous face, and
sinister looks."

"Poor king," murmured Madame, as she lightly touched the king's hand. He
retained her hand in his, and in order to press it without exciting
suspicion in the spectators, who were not so much taken up with the
butterflies that they could not occupy themselves about other matters,
and who perceived clearly enough that there was some mystery in the
king's and Madame's conversation, Louis placed the dying butterfly before
his sister-in-law, and bent over it as if to count the thousand eyes of
its wings, or the particles of golden dust which covered it. Neither of
them spoke; however, their hair mingled, their breaths united, and their
hands feverishly throbbed in each other's grasp. Five minutes passed in
this manner.

Chapter XXXVIII:
What Was Caught after the Butterflies.

The two young people remained for a moment with their heads bent down,
bowed, as it were, beneath the double thought of the love which was
springing up in their hearts, and which gives birth to so many happy
fancies in the imaginations of twenty years of age. Henrietta gave a
side glance, from time to time, at the king. Hers was one of those
finely-organized natures capable of looking inwardly at itself, as well
as at others at the same moment. She perceived Love lying at the bottom
of Louis's heart, as a skillful diver sees a pearl at the bottom of the
sea. She knew Louis was hesitating, if not in doubt, and that his
indolent or timid heart required aid and encouragement. "And so?" she
said, interrogatively, breaking the silence.

"What do you mean?" inquired Louis, after a moment's pause.

"I mean, that I shall be obliged to return to the resolution I had

"To what resolution?"

"To that which I have already submitted to your majesty."


"On the very day we had a certain explanation about Monsieur's

"What did you say to me then?" inquired Louis, with some anxiety.

"Do you not remember, sire?"

"Alas! if it be another cause of unhappiness, I shall recollect it soon

"A cause of unhappiness for myself alone, sire," replied Madame
Henrietta; "but as it is necessary, I must submit to it."

"At least, tell me what it is," said the king.


"Still that unkind resolve?"

"Believe me, sire, I have not found it without a violent struggle with
myself; it is absolutely necessary I should return to England."

"Never, never will I permit you to leave France," exclaimed the king.

"And yet, sire," said Madame, affecting a gentle yet sorrowful
determination, "nothing is more urgently necessary; nay, more than that,
I am persuaded it is your mother's desire I should do so."

"Desire!" exclaimed the king; "that is a very strange expression to use
to me."

"Still," replied Madame Henrietta, smilingly, "are you not happy in
submitting to the wishes of so good a mother?"

"Enough, I implore you; you rend my very soul."


"Yes; for you speak of your departure with tranquillity."

"I was not born for happiness, sire," replied the princess, dejectedly;
"and I acquired, in very early life, the habit of seeing my dearest
wishes disappointed."

"Do you speak truly?" said the king. "Would your departure gainsay any
one of your cherished thoughts?"

"If I were to say 'yes,' would you begin to take your misfortune

"How cruel you are!"

"Take care, sire; some one is coming."

The king looked all round him, and said, "No, there is no one," and then
continued: "Come, Henrietta, instead of trying to contend against
Monsieur's jealousy by a departure which would kill me - "

Henrietta slightly shrugged her shoulders like a woman unconvinced.
"Yes," repeated Louis, "which would kill me, I say. Instead of fixing
your mind on this departure, does not your imagination - or rather does
not your heart - suggest some expedient?"

"What is it you wish my heart to suggest?"

"Tell me, how can one prove to another that it is wrong to be jealous?"

"In the first place, sire, by giving no motive for jealousy; in other
words, in loving no one but the person in question."

"Oh! I expected more than that."

"What did you expect?"

"That you would simply tell me that jealous people are pacified by
concealing the affection which is entertained for the object of jealousy."

"Dissimulation is difficult, sire."

"Yet it is only be means of conquering difficulties that any happiness is
attained. As far as I am concerned, I swear I will give the lie to those
who are jealous of me by pretending to treat you like any other woman."

"A bad, as well as unsafe, means," said the young princess, shaking her
pretty head.

"You seem to think everything bad, dear Henrietta," said Louis,
discontentedly. "You negative everything I propose. Suggest, at least,
something else in its stead. Come, try and think. I trust implicitly to
a woman's invention. Do you invent in your turn?"

"Well, sire, I have hit upon something. Will you listen to it?"

"Can you ask me? You speak of a matter of life or death to me, and then
ask if I will listen."

"Well, I judge of it by my own case. If my husband intended to put me on
the wrong scent with regard to another woman, one thing would reassure me
more than anything else."

"What would that be?"

"In the first place to see that he never took any notice of the woman in

"Exactly. That is precisely what I said just now."

"Very well; but in order to be perfectly reassured on the subject, I
should like to see him occupy himself with some one else."

"Ah! I understand you," replied Louis, smiling. "But confess, dear
Henrietta, if the means is at least ingenious, it is hardly charitable."

"Why so?"

"In curing the dread of a wound in a jealous person's mind, you inflict
one upon the heart. His fear ceases, it is true; but the evil still
exists; and that seems to me to be far worse."

"Agreed; but he does not detect, he does not suspect the real enemy; he
does no prejudice to love itself; he concentrates all his strength on the
side where his strength will do no injury to anything or any one. In a
word, sire, my plan, which I confess I am surprised to find you dispute,
is mischievous to jealous people, it is true; but to lovers it is full of
advantage. Besides, let me ask, sire, who, except yourself, has ever
thought of pitying jealous people? Are they not a melancholy crew of
grumblers always equally unhappy, whether with or without a cause? You
may remove that cause, but you never can remove their sufferings. It is
a disease which lies in the imagination, and, like all imaginary
disorders, it is incurable. By the by, I remember an aphorism upon this
subject, of poor Dr. Dawley, a clever and amusing man, who, had it not
been for my brother, who could not do without him, I should have with me
now. He used to say, 'Whenever you are likely to suffer from two
affections, choose that which will give you the least trouble, and I will
allow you to retain it; for it is positive,' he said, 'that that very
ailment is of the greatest service to me, in order to enable me to get
rid of the other.'"

"Well and judiciously remarked, Henrietta," replied the king, smiling.

"Oh! we have some clever people in London, sire."

"And those clever people produce adorable pupils. I will grant this
Daley, Darley, Dawley, or whatever you call him, a pension for his
aphorism; but I entreat you, Henrietta, to begin by choosing the least of
your evils. You do not answer - you smile. I guess that the least of
your bugbears is your stay in France. I will allow you to retain this
information; and, in order to begin with the cure of the other, I will
this very day begin to look out for a subject which shall divert the
attention of the jealous members of either sex who persecute us both."

"Hush! this time some one is really coming," said Madame; and she stooped
to gather a flower from the thick grass at her feet. Some one, in fact,
was approaching; for, suddenly, a bevy of young girls ran down from the
top of the hillock, following the cavaliers - the cause of this
interruption being a magnificent hawk-moth, with wings like rose-leaves.
The prey in question had fallen into the net of Mademoiselle de Tonnay-
Charente, who displayed it with some pride to her less successful
rivals. The queen of the chase had seated herself some twenty paces from
the bank on which Louis and Madame Henrietta were reclining; and leaned
her back against a magnificent oak-tree entwined with ivy, and stuck the
butterfly on the long cane she carried in her hand. Mademoiselle de
Tonnay-Charente was very beautiful, and the gentlemen, accordingly,
deserted her companions, and under the pretext of complimenting her upon
her success, pressed in a circle around her. The king and princess
looked gloomily at this scene, as spectators of maturer age look on at
the games of little children. "They seem to be amusing themselves
there," said the king.

"Greatly, sire; I have always found that people are amused wherever youth
and beauty are to be found."

"What do you think of Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente, Henrietta?"
inquired the king.

"I think she has rather too much flax-yellow and lily-whiteness in her
complexion," replied Madame, fixing in a moment upon the only fault it
was possible to find in the almost perfect beauty of the future Madame de

"Rather too fair, yes; but beautiful, I think, in spite of that."

"Is that your opinion, sire?"

"Yes, really."

"Very well; and it is mine, too."

"And she seems to be much sought after."

"On, that is a matter of course. Lovers flutter from one to another. If
we had hunted for lovers instead of butterflies, you can see, from those
who surround her, what successful sport we should have had."

"Tell me, Henrietta, what would be said if the king were to make himself
one of those lovers, and let his glance fall in that direction? Would
some one else be jealous, in such a case?"

"Oh! sire, Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente is a very efficacious remedy,"
said Madame, with a sigh. "She would cure a jealous man, certainly; but
she might possibly make a woman jealous, too."

"Henrietta," exclaimed Louis, "you fill my heart with joy. Yes, yes;
Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente is far too beautiful to serve as a cloak."

"A king's cloak," said Madame Henrietta, smiling, "ought to be beautiful."

"Do you advise me to do it, then?" inquired Louis.

"I! what should I say, sire, except that to give such an advice would be
to supply arms against myself? It would be folly or pride to advise you
to take, for the heroine of an assumed affection, a woman more beautiful
than the one for whom you pretend to feel real regard."

The king tried to take Madame's hand in his own; his eyes sought hers;
and then he murmured a few words so full of tenderness, but pronounced in
so low a tone, that the historian, who ought to hear everything, could
not hear them. Then, speaking aloud, he said, "Do you yourself choose
for me the one who is to cure our jealous friend. To her, then, all my
devotion, all my attention, all the time that I can spare from my
occupations, shall be devoted. For her shall be the flower that I may
pluck for you, the fond thoughts with which you have inspired me.
Towards her I will direct the glance I dare not bestow upon you, and
which ought to be able to rouse you from your indifference. But, be
careful in your selection, lest, in offering her the rose which I may
have plucked, I find myself conquered by you; and my looks, my hand, my
lips, turn immediately towards you, even were the whole world to guess my

While these words escaped from the king's lips, in a stream of wild
affection, Madame blushed, breathless, happy, proud, almost intoxicated
with delight. She could find nothing to say in reply; her pride and her
thirst for homage were satisfied. "I shall fail," she said, raising her
beautiful black eyes, "but not as you beg me, for all this incense which
you wish to burn on the altar of another divinity. Ah! sire, I too shall
be jealous of it, and want restored to me; and would not that a particle
of it should be lost in the way. Therefore, sire, with your royal
permission, I will choose one who shall appear to me the least likely to
distract your attention, and who will leave my image intact and
unshadowed in your heart."

"Happily for me," said the king, "your heart is not hard and unfeeling.
If it were so, I should be alarmed at the threat you hold out.
Precautions were taken on this point, and around you, as around myself,
it would be difficult to meet with a disagreeable-looking face."

Whilst the king was speaking, Madame had risen from her seat, looked
around the greensward, and after a careful and silent examination, she
called the king to her side, and said, "See yonder, sire, upon the
declivity of that little hill, near that group of Guelder roses, that
beautiful girl walking alone, her head down, her arms hanging by her
side, with her eyes fixed upon the flowers, which she crushes beneath her
feet, like one who is lost in thought."

"Mademoiselle de Valliere, do you mean?" remarked the king.



"Will she not suit you, sire?"

"Why, look how thin the poor child is. She has hardly any flesh upon her

"Nay: am I stout then?"

"She is so melancholy."

"The greater contrast to myself, who am accused of being too lively."

"She is lame."

"Do you really think so?"

"No doubt of it. Look; she has allowed every one to pass by her, through
fear of her defect being remarked."

"Well, she will not run so fast as Daphne, and will not be as able to
escape Apollo."

"Henrietta," said the king, out of temper; "of all your maids of honor,
you have really selected for me the one most full of defects."

"Still she is one of my maids of honor."

"Of course; but what do you mean?"

"I mean that, in order to visit this new divinity, you will not be able
to do so without paying a visit to my apartments, and that, as propriety
will forbid your conversing with her in private, you will be compelled to
see her in my circle, to speak, as it were, at me, while speaking to
her. I mean, in fact, that those who may be jealous, will be wrong if
they suppose you come to my apartments for my sake, since you will go
there for Mademoiselle de la Valliere."

"Who happens to be lame."

"Hardly that."

"Who never opens her lips."

"But who, when she does open them, displays a beautiful set of teeth."

"Who may serve as a model for an osteologist."

"Your favor will change her appearance."


"At all events you allowed me to choose."

"Alas! yes."

"Well, my choice is made: I impose her upon you, and you must submit."

"Oh! I would accept one of the furies, if you were to insist upon it."

"La Valliere is as gentle as a lamb: do not fear she will ever contradict
you when you tell her you love her," said Madame, laughing.

"You are not afraid, are you, that I shall say too much to her?"

"It would be for my sake."

"The treaty is agreed to, then?"

"Not only so, but signed. You will continue to show me the friendship of
a brother, the attention of a brother, the gallantry of a monarch, will
you not?"

"I will preserve for you intact a heart that has already become
accustomed to beat only at your command."

"Very well, do you not see that we have guaranteed the future by this

"I hope so."

"Will your mother cease to regard me as an enemy?"


"Will Maria Theresa leave off speaking in Spanish before Monsieur, who
has a horror of conversation held in foreign languages, because he always
thinks he is being ill spoken of? and lastly," continued the princess,
"will people persist in attributing a wrongful affection to the king when
the truth is, we can offer nothing to each other, except absolute
sympathy, free from mental reservation?"

"Yes, yes," said the king, hesitatingly. "But other things may still be
said of us."

"What can be said, sire? shall we never be left in tranquillity?"

"People will say I am deficient in taste; but what is my self-respect in
comparison with your tranquillity?"

"In comparison with my honor, sire, and that of our family, you mean.
Besides, I beg you to attend, do not be so hastily prejudiced against La
Valliere. She is slightly lame, it is true, but she is not deficient in
good sense. Moreover, all that the king touches is converted into gold."

"Well, Madame, rest assured of one thing, namely, that I am still
grateful to you: you might even yet make me pay dearer for your stay in

"Sire, some one approaches."


"One last word."

"Say it."

"You are prudent and judicious, sire; but in the present instance you
will be obliged to summon to your aid all your prudence, and all your

"Oh!" exclaimed Louis, laughing, "from this very day I shall begin to act
my part, and you shall see whether I am not quite fit to represent the
character of a tender swain. After luncheon, there will be a promenade
in the forest, and then there is supper and the ballet at ten o'clock."

"I know it."

"The ardor of my passion shall blaze more brilliantly than the fireworks,
shall shine more steadily than our friend Colbert's lamps; it shall shine
so dazzlingly that the queens and Monsieur will be almost blinded by it."

"Take care, sire, take care."

"In Heaven's name, what have I done, then?"

"I shall begin to recall the compliments I paid you just now. You
prudent! you wise! did I say? Why, you begin by the most reckless
inconsistencies! Can a passion be kindled in this manner, like a torch,
in a moment? Can a monarch, such as you are, without any preparation,
fall at the feet of a girl like La Valliere?"

"Ah! Henrietta, now I understand you. We have not yet begun the
campaign, and you are plundering me already."

"No, I am only recalling you to common-sense ideas. Let your passion be
kindled gradually, instead of allowing it to burst forth so suddenly.
Jove's thunders and lightnings are heard and seen before the palace is
set on fire. Everything has its commencements. If you are so easily
excited, no one will believe you are really captivated, and every one
will think you out of your senses - if even, indeed, the truth itself
not be guessed. The public is not so fatuous as they seem."

The king was obliged to admit that Madame was an angel for sense, and the
very reverse for cleverness. He bowed, and said: "Agreed, Madame, I will
think over my plan of attack: great military men - my cousin De Conde for
instance - grow pale in meditation upon their strategical plans, before
they move one of the pawns, which people call armies; I therefore wish to
draw up a complete plan of campaign; for you know that the tender passion
is subdivided in a variety of ways. Well, then, I shall stop at the
village of Little Attentions, at the hamlet of Love-Letters, before I
follow the road of Visible Affection; the way is clear enough, you know,
and poor Madame de Scudery would never forgive me for passing though a
halting-place without stopping."

"Oh! now we have returned to our proper senses, shall we say adieu,

"Alas! it must be so, for see, we are interrupted."

"Yes, indeed," said Henrietta, "they are bringing Mademoiselle de Tonnay-
Charente and her sphinx butterfly in grand procession this way."

"It is perfectly well understood, that this evening, during the
promenade, I am to make my escape into the forest, and find La Valliere
without you."

"I will take care to send her away."

"Very well! I will speak to her when she is with her companions, and I
will then discharge my first arrow at her."

"Be skillful," said Madame, laughing, "and do not miss the heart."

Then the princess took leave of the king, and went forward to meet the
merry troop, which was advancing with much ceremony, and a great many
pretended flourishes of trumpets, imitated with their mouths.

Chapter XXXIX:
The Ballet of the Seasons.

At the conclusion of the banquet, which was served at five o'clock, the
king entered his cabinet, where his tailors were awaiting him for the
purpose of trying on the celebrated costume representing Spring, which
was the result of so much imagination, and had cost so many efforts of
thought to the designers and ornament-workers of the court. As for the
ballet itself, every person knew the part he had to take in it, and how
to perform it. The king had resolved to make it surprise. Hardly,
therefore, had he finished his conference, and entered his own apartment,
than he desired his two masters of the ceremonies, Villeroy and Saint-
Aignan, to be sent for. Both replied that they only awaited his orders,
and that everything was ready to begin, but that it was necessary to be
sure of fine weather and a favorable night before these orders could be
carried out. The king opened his window; the pale-gold hues of the
evening were visible on the horizon through the vistas of the wood, and
the moon, white as snow, was already mounting the heavens. Not a ripple
could be noticed on the surface of the green waters; the swans
themselves, even, reposing with folded wings like ships at anchor, seemed
inspirations of the warmth of the air, the freshness of the water, and
the silence of the beautiful evening. The king, having observed all
these things, and contemplated the magnificent picture before him, gave
the order which De Villeroy and De Saint-Aignan awaited; but with a view
of insuring the execution of this order in a royal manner, one last
question was necessary, and Louis XIV. put it to the two gentlemen in the
following manner: - "Have you any money?"

"Sire," replied Saint-Aignan, "we have arranged everything with M.

"Ah! very well!"

"Yes, sire, and M. Colbert said he would wait upon your majesty, as soon
as your majesty should manifest an intention of carrying out the _fetes_,
of which he has furnished the programme."

"Let him come in, then," said the king; and as if Colbert had been
listening at the door for the purpose of keeping himself _au courant_
with the conversation, he entered as soon as the king had pronounced his
name to the two courtiers.

"Ah! M. Colbert," said the king. "Gentlemen, to your posts," whereupon
Saint-Aignan and Villeroy took their leave. The king seated himself in
an easy-chair near the window, saying: "The ballet will take place this
evening, M. Colbert."

"In that case, sire, I will pay all accounts to-morrow."

"Why so?"

"I promised the tradespeople to pay their bills the day following that on
which the ballet should take place."

"Very well, M. Colbert, pay them, since you have promised to do so."

"Certainly, sire; but I must have money to do that."

"What! have not the four millions, which M. Fouquet promised, been sent?
I forgot to ask you about it."

"Sire, they were sent at the hour promised."


"Well, sire, the colored lamps, the fireworks, the musicians, and the
cooks, have swallowed up four millions in eight days."


"To the last penny. Every time your majesty directed the banks of the
grand canal to be illuminated, as much oil was consumed as there was
water in the basins."

"Well, well, M. Colbert; the fact is, then, you have no more money?"

"I have no more, sire, but M. Fouquet has," Colbert replied, his face
darkening with a sinister expression of pleasure.

"What do you mean?" inquired Louis.

"We have already made M. Fouquet advance six millions. He has given them
with too much grace not to have others still to give, if they are
required, which is the case at the present moment. It is necessary,
therefore, that he should comply."

The king frowned. "M. Colbert," said he, accentuating the financier's
name, "that is not the way I understood the matter; I do not wish to make
use, against any of my servants, of a means of pressure which may oppress
him and fetter his services. In eight days M. Fouquet has furnished six
millions; that is a good round sum."

Colbert turned pale. "And yet," he said, "your majesty did not use this
language some time ago, when the news about Belle-Isle arrived, for

"You are right, M. Colbert."

"Nothing, however, has changed since then; on the contrary, indeed."

"In my thoughts, monsieur, everything has changed."

"Does your majesty then no longer believe the disloyal attempt?"

"My affairs concern myself alone, monsieur; and I have already told you I
transact them without interference."

"Then, I perceive," said Colbert, trembling with anger and fear, "that I
have had the misfortune to fall into disgrace with your majesty."

"Not at all; you are, on the contrary, most agreeable to me."

"Yet, sire," said the minister, with a certain affected bluntness, so
successful when it was a question of flattering Louis's self-esteem,
"what use is there in being agreeable to your majesty, if one can no
longer be of any use?"

"I reserve your services for a better occasion; and believe me, they will
only be the better appreciated."

"Your majesty's plan, then, in this affair, is - "

"You want money, M. Colbert?"

"Seven hundred thousand francs, sire."

"You will take them from my private treasure." Colbert bowed. "And,"
added Louis, "as it seems a difficult matter for you, notwithstanding
your economy, to defray, with so limited a sum, the expenses which I
intend to incur, I will at once sign an order for three millions."

The king took a pen and signed an order immediately, then handed it to
Colbert. "Be satisfied, M. Colbert, the plan I have adopted is one worthy
of a king," said Louis XIV., who pronounced these words with all the
majesty he knew how to assume in such circumstances; and dismissed
Colbert for the purpose of giving an audience to his tailors.

The order issued by the king was known throughout the whole of
Fontainebleau; it was already known, too, that the king was trying on his
costume, and that the ballet would be danced in the evening. The news
circulated with the rapidity of lightning; during its progress it kindled
every variety of coquetry, desire, and wild ambition. At the same
moment, as if by enchantment, every one who knew how to hold a needle,
every one who could distinguish a coat from a pair of trousers, was
summoned to the assistance of those who had received invitations. The
king had completed his toilette by nine o'clock; he appeared in an open
carriage decorated with branches of trees and flowers. The queens had
taken their seats upon a magnificent dias or platform, erected upon the
borders of the lake, in a theater of wonderful elegance of construction.
In the space of five hours the carpenters had put together all the
different parts connected with the building; the upholsterers had laid
down the carpets, erected the seats; and, as if at the wave of an
enchanter's wand, a thousand arms, aiding, instead of interfering with
each other, had constructed the building, amidst the sound of music;
whilst, at the same time, other workmen illuminated the theater and the
shores of the lake with an incalculable number of lamps. As the heavens,
set with stars, were perfectly unclouded, as not even a breath of air
could be heard in the woods, and as if Nature itself had yielded
complacently to the king's fancies, the back of the theater had been left
open; so that, behind the foreground of the scenes, could be seen as a
background the beautiful sky, glittering with stars; the sheet of water,
illuminated by the lights which were reflected in it; and the bluish
outline of the grand masses of woods, with their rounded tops. When the
king made his appearance, the theater was full, and presented to the view
one vast group, dazzling with gold and precious stones; in which,
however, at the first glance, no single face could be distinguished. By
degrees, as the sight became accustomed to so much brilliancy, the rarest
beauties appeared to the view, as in the evening sky the stars appear one
by one to him who closes his eyes and then opens them again.

The theater represented a grove of trees; a few fauns lifting up their
cloven feet were jumping about; a dryad made her appearance on the scene,
and was immediately pursued by them; others gathered round her for her
defense, and they quarrelled as they danced. Suddenly, for the purpose
of restoring peace and order, Spring, accompanied by his whole court,
made his appearance. The Elements, subaltern powers of mythology,
together with their attributes, hastened to follow their gracious
sovereign. The Seasons, allies of Spring, followed him closely, to form
a quadrille, which, after many words of more or less flattering import,
was the commencement of the dance. The music, hautboys, flutes, and
viols, was delightfully descriptive of rural delights. The king had
already made his appearance, amid thunders of applause. He was dressed
in a tunic of flowers, which set off his graceful and well-formed figure
to advantage. His legs, the best-shaped at court, were displayed to
great advantage in flesh-colored silken hose, of silk so fine and so
transparent that it seemed almost like flesh itself. The most beautiful
pale-lilac satin shoes, with bows of flowers and leaves, imprisoned his
small feet. The bust of the figure was in harmonious keeping with the
base; Louis's waving hair floated on his shoulders, the freshness of his
complexion was enhanced by the brilliancy of his beautiful blue eyes,
which softly kindled all hearts; a mouth with tempting lips, which
deigned to open in smiles. Such was the prince of that period: justly
that evening styled "The King of all the Loves." There was something in
his carriage which resembled the buoyant movements of an immortal, and
he did not dance so much as seem to soar along. His entrance produced,
therefore, the most brilliant effect. Suddenly the Comte de Saint-Aignan
was observed endeavoring to approach either the king or Madame.

The princess - who was robed in a long dress, diaphanous and light as the
finest network tissue from the hands of skillful Mechlin workers, one
knee occasionally revealed beneath the folds of the tunic, and her little
feet encased in silken slippers decked with pearls - advanced radiant
with beauty, accompanied by her _cortege_ of Bacchantes, and had already
reached the spot assigned to her in the dance. The applause continued so
long that the comte had ample leisure to join the king.

"What is the matter, Saint-Aignan?" said Spring.

"Nothing whatever," replied the courtier, as pale as death; "but your
majesty has not thought of Fruits."

"Yes; it is suppressed."

"Far from it, sire; your majesty having given no directions about it, the
musicians have retained it."

"How excessively annoying," said the king. "This figure cannot be
performed, since M. de Guiche is absent. It must be suppressed."

"Ah, sire, a quarter of an hour's music without any dancing will produce
an effect so chilling as to ruin the success of the ballet."

"But, come, since - "

"Oh, sire, that is not the greatest misfortune; for, after all, the
orchestra could still just as well cut it out, if it were necessary; but
- "

"But what?"

"Why, M. de Guiche is here."

"Here?" replied the king, frowning, "here? Are you sure?"

"Yes, sire; and ready dressed for the ballet."

The king felt himself color deeply, and said, "You are probably

"So little is that the case, sire, that if your majesty will look to the
right, you will see that the comte is in waiting."

Louis turned hastily towards the side, and in fact, on his right,
brilliant in his character of Autumn, De Guiche awaited until the king
should look at him, in order that he might address him. To give an idea
of the stupefaction of the king, and that of Monsieur, who was moving
about restlessly in his box, - to describe also the agitated movement of
the heads in the theater, and the strange emotion of Madame, at the sight
of her partner, - is a task we must leave to abler hands. The king stood
almost gaping with astonishment as he looked at the comte, who, bowing
lowly, approached Louis with the profoundest respect.

"Sire," he said, "your majesty's most devoted servant approaches to
perform a service on this occasion with similar zeal that he has already
shown on the field of battle. Your majesty, in omitting the dance of the
Fruits, would be losing the most beautiful scene in the ballet. I did
not wish to be the substance of so dark a shadow to your majesty's
elegance, skill, and graceful invention; and I have left my tenants in
order to place my services at your majesty's commands."

Every word fell distinctly, in perfect harmony and eloquence, upon Louis
XIV.'s ears. Their flattery pleased, as much as De Guiche's courage had
astonished him, and he simply replied: "I did not tell you to return,

"Certainly not, sire; but your majesty did not tell me to remain."

The king perceived that time was passing away, that if this strange scene
were prolonged it would complicate everything, and that a single cloud
upon the picture would eventually spoil the whole. Besides, the king's
heart was filled with two or three new ideas; he had just derived fresh
inspiration from the eloquent glances of Madame. Her look had said to
him: "Since they are jealous of you, divide their suspicions, for the man
who distrusts two rivals does not object to either in particular." So
that Madame, by this clever diversion, decided him. The king smiled upon

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