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The Princess of Cleves by Madame de Lafayette

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and to be assiduous about them; but it's no hard matter to do
this, though they be ever so little amiable; not to give oneself
up to the pleasure of pursuing them, to shun them through fear of
discovering to the public, and in a manner to themselves, the
sentiments one has for them, here lies the difficulty; and what
still more demonstrates the truth of one's passion is, the
becoming entirely changed from what one was, and the having no
longer a gust either for ambition or pleasure, after one has
employed one's whole life in pursuit of both."

The Princess of Cleves readily apprehended how far she was
concerned in this discourse; one while she seemed of opinion that
she ought not to suffer such an address; another, she thought she
ought not to seem to understand it, or show she supposed herself
meant by it; she thought she ought to speak, and she thought she
ought to be silent; the Duke of Nemours's discourse equally
pleased and offended her; she was convinced by it of the truth of
all the Queen-Dauphin had led her to think; she found in it
somewhat gallant and respectful, but also somewhat bold and too
intelligible; the inclination she had for the Duke gave her an
anxiety which it was not in her power to control; the most
obscure expressions of a man that pleases, move more than the
most open declaration of one we have no liking for; she made no
answer; the Duke de Nemours took notice of her silence, which
perhaps would have proved no ill-presage, if the coming in of the
Prince of Cleves had not ended at once the conversation and the

The Prince was coming to give his wife a further account of
Sancerre, but she was not over curious to learn the sequel of
that adventure; she was so much taken up with what had just
passed, that she could hardly conceal the embarrassment she was
in. When she was at liberty to muse upon it, she plainly saw she
was mistaken, when she thought she was indifferent as to the Duke
de Nemours; what he had said to her had made all the impression
he could desire, and had entirely convinced her of his passion;
besides the Duke's actions agreed too well with his words to
leave her the least doubt about it; she no longer flattered
herself that she did not love him; all her care was not to let
him discover it, a task of which she had already experienced the
difficulty; she knew the only way to succeed in it was to avoid
seeing him; and as her mourning gave her an excuse for being more
retired than usual, she made use of that pretence not to go to
places where he might see her; she was full of melancholy; her
mother's death was the seeming cause of it, and no suspicion was
had of any other.

The Duke de Nemours, not seeing her any more, fell into
desperation and knowing he should not meet with her in any public
assembly, or at any diversions the Court joined in, he could not
prevail upon himself to appear there, and therefore he pretended
a great love for hunting, and made matches for that sport on the
days when the Queens kept their assemblies; a slight
indisposition had served him a good while as an excuse for
staying at home, and declining to go to places where he knew very
well that Madam de Cleves would not be.

The Prince of Cleves was ill almost at the same time, and the
Princess never stirred out of his room during his illness; but
when he grew better, and received company, and among others the
Duke de Nemours, who under pretence of being yet weak, stayed
with him the greatest part of the day, she found she could not
continue any longer there; and yet in the first visits he made
she had not the resolution to go out; she had been too long
without seeing him, to be able to resolve to see him no more; the
Duke had the address, by discourses that appeared altogether
general, but which she understood very well by the relation they
had to what he had said privately to her, to let her know that he
went a-hunting only to be more at liberty to think of her, and
that the reason of his not going to the assemblies was her not
being there.

At last she executed the resolution she had taken to go out of
her husband's room, whenever he was there, though this was doing
the utmost violence to herself: the Duke perceived she avoided
him, and the thought of it touched him to the heart.

The Prince of Cleves did not immediately take notice of his
wife's conduct in this particular, but at last he perceived she
went out of the room when there was company there; he spoke to
her of it, and she told him that she did not think it consistent
with decency to be every evening among the gay young courtiers;
that she hoped he would allow her to live in a more reserved
manner than she had done hitherto, that the virtue and presence
of her mother authorised her in many liberties which could not
otherwise be justified in a woman of her age.

Monsieur de Cleves, who had a great deal of facility and
complaisance for his wife, did not show it on this occasion, but
told her he would by no means consent to her altering her
conduct; she was upon the point of telling him, it was reported
that the Duke de Nemours was in love with her, but she had not
the power to name him; besides she thought it disingenuous to
disguise the truth, and make use of pretences to a man who had so
good an opinion of her.

Some days after the King was with the Queen at the assembly hour,
and the discourse turned upon nativities and predictions; the
company were divided in their opinion as to what credit ought to
be given to them; the Queen professed to have great faith in
them, and maintained that after so many things had come to pass
as they had been foretold, one could not doubt but there was
something of certainty in that science; others affirmed, that of
an infinite number of predictions so very few proved true, that
the truth of those few ought to be looked upon as an effect of

"I have formerly been very curious and inquisitive as to
futurity," said the King, "but I have seen so many false and
improbable things, that I am satisfied there is no truth in that
pretended art. Not many years since there came hither a man of
great reputation in astrology; everybody went to see him; I went
among others, but without saying who I was, and I carried with me
the Duke of Guise and Descars, and made them go in first;
nevertheless the astrologer addressed himself first to me, as if
he had concluded me to be their master; perhaps he knew me, and
yet he told me one thing that was very unsuitable to my
character, if he had known me; his prediction was that I should
be killed in a duel; he told the Duke of Guise, that he should
die of a wound received behind; and he told Descars he should be
knocked of the head by the kick of a horse; the Duke of Guise was
a little angry at the prediction, as if it imported he should run
away; nor was Descars better pleased to find he was to make his
exit by so unfortunate an accident; in a word, we went away all
three of us very much out of humour with the astrologer; I don't
know what will happen to the Duke of Guise and Descars, but there
is not much probability of my being killed in a duel; the King of
Spain and I have just made peace, and if we had not, I question
whether we should have fought, or if I should have challenged
him, as the King my father did Charles the Fifth."

After the King had related the misfortune that was foretold him,
those who had defended astrology abandoned the argument, and
agreed there was no credit to be given to it: "For my part,"
said the Duke de Nemours aloud, "I have the least reason of any
man in the world to credit it"; and then turning himself to
Madam de Cleves, near whom he stood, "it has been foretold me,"
says he very softly, "that I should be happy in a person for
whom I should have the most violent and respectful passion; you
may judge, Madam, if I ought to believe in predictions."

The Queen-Dauphin, who believed, from what the Duke had spoke
aloud, that what he whispered was some false prediction that had
been told him, asked him what it was he said to Madam de Cleves;
had he had a less ready wit, he would have been surprised at this
question; but without any hesitation, "What I said to her,
Madam," answered he, "was, that it had been predicted to me,
that I should be raised to a higher fortune than my most sanguine
hopes could lead me to expect." "If nothing have been foretold
you but this," replied the Queen-Dauphin, smiling, and thinking
of the affair of England, "I would not advise you to decry
astrology; you may have reasons hereafter to offer in defence of
it." Madam de Cleves apprehended the Queen-Dauphin's meaning,
but knew withal, that the fortune the Duke of Nemours spoke of
was not that of being King of England.

The time of her mourning being expired, the Princess of Cleves
was obliged to make her appearance again, and go to Court as
usual; she saw the Duke de Nemours at the Queen-Dauphin's
apartment; she saw him at the Prince of Cleves's, where he often
came in company of other young noblemen, to avoid being remarked;
yet she never once saw him, but it gave her a pain that could not
escape his observation.

However industrious she was to avoid being looked at by him, and
to speak less to him than to any other, some things escaped her
in an unguarded moment, which convinced him he was not
indifferent to her; a man of less discernment than he would not
have perceived it, but he had already so often been the object of
love, that it was easy for him to know when he was loved; he
found the Chevalier de Guise was his rival, and the Chevalier
knew that the Duke de Nemours was his; Monsieur de Guise was the
only man in the Court that had unravelled this affair, his
interest having made him more clear-sighted than others; the
knowledge they had of each other's sentiments created an
opposition between them in everything, which, however, did not
break out into an open quarrel; they were always of different
parties at the running, at the ring, at tournaments, and all
diversions the King delighted in, and their emulation was so
great it could not be concealed.

Madam de Cleves frequently revolved in her mind the affair of
England; she believed the Duke de Nemours could not resist the
advice of the King, and the instances of Lignerolles; she was
very much concerned to find that Lignerolles was not yet
returned, and she impatiently expected him; her inclinations
strongly swayed her to inform herself exactly of the state of
this affair; but the same reasons, which raised in her that
curiosity, obliged her to conceal it, and she only enquired of
the beauty, the wit, and the temper of Queen Elizabeth. A
picture of that Princess had been brought the King, which Madam
de Cleves found much handsomer than she could have wished for,
and she could not forbear saying, the picture flattered. "I
don't think so," replied the Queen-Dauphin; "that Princess has
the reputation of being very handsome, and of having a very
exalted genius, and I know she has always been proposed to me as
a model worthy my imitation; she can't but be very handsome, if
she resembles her mother, Anne Boleyn; never had woman so many
charms and allurements both in her person and her humour; I have
heard say she had something remarkably lively in her countenance,
very different from what is usually found in other English
beauties." "I think," replied Madam de Cleves, "'tis said
she was born in France." "Those who imagine so are mistaken,"
replied the Queen-Dauphin; "I'll give you her history in a few

"She was of a good family in England; Henry the Eighth was in
love with her sister and her mother, and it has been even
suspected by some, that she was his daughter; she came to France
with Henry the Seventh's sister, who married Louis XII that
Princess, who was full of youth and gallantry, left the Court of
France with great reluctance after her husband's death; but Anne
Boleyn, who had the same inclinations as her mistress, could not
prevail with herself to go away; the late King was in love with
her, and she continued maid of honour to Queen Claude; that Queen
died, and Margaretta, the King's sister, Duchess of Alenson, and
since Queen of Navarre, whose story you know, took her into her
service, where she imbibed the principles of the new religion;
she returned afterwards to England, and there charmed all the
world; she had the manners of France, which please in all
countries; she sung well, she danced finely; she was a maid of
honour to Queen Catherine, and Henry the Eighth fell desperately
in love with her.

"Cardinal Wolsey, his favourite and first minister, being
dissatisfied with the Emperor for not having favoured his
pretensions to the Papacy, in order to revenge himself of him,
contrived an alliance between France and the King his master; he
put it into the head of Henry the Eighth, that his marriage with
the Emperor's aunt was null, and advised him to marry the Duchess
of Alenson, whose husband was just dead; Anne Boleyn, who was not
without ambition, considered Queen Catherine's divorce as a means
that would bring her to the Crown; she began to give the King of
England impressions of the Lutheran religion, and engaged the
late King to favour at Rome Henry the Eighth's divorce, in hopes
of his marrying the Duchess of Alenson; Cardinal Wolsey, that he
might have an opportunity of treating this affair, procured
himself to be sent to France upon other pretences; but his master
was so far from permitting him to propose this marriage, that he
sent him express orders to Calais not to speak of it.

"Cardinal Wolsey, at his return from France, was received with
as great honours as could have been paid to the King himself;
never did any favourite carry his pride and vanity to so great a
height; he managed an interview between the two Kings at
Boulogne, when Francis the First would have given the upperhand
to Henry the Eighth, but he refused to accept it; they treated
one another by turns with the utmost magnificence, and presented
to each habits of the same sort with those they wore themselves.
I remember to have heard say, that those the late King sent to
the King of England were of crimson satin beset all over with
pearls and diamonds, and a robe of white velvet embroidered with
gold; after having stayed some time at Boulogne, they went to
Calais. Anne Boleyn was lodged in Henry the Eighth's Court with
the train of a Queen; and Francis the First made her the same
presents, and paid her the same honours as if she had been really
so: in a word, after a passion of nine year's continuance King
Henry married her, without waiting for the dissolving of his
first marriage. The Pope precipitately thundered out
excommunications against him, which so provoked King Henry, that
he declared himself head of the Church, and drew after him all
England into the unhappy change in which you see it.

"Anne Boleyn did not long enjoy her greatness; for when she
thought herself most secure of it by the death of Queen
Catherine, one day as she was seeing a match of running at the
ring made by the Viscount Rochefort her brother, the King was
struck with such a jealousy, that he abruptly left the show, went
away to London, and gave orders for arresting the Queen, the
Viscount Rochefort, and several others whom he believed to be the
lovers or confidants of that Princess. Though this jealousy in
appearance had its birth that moment, the King had been long
possessed with it by the Viscountess Rochefort, who not being
able to bear the strict intimacy between her husband and the
Queen, represented it to the King as a criminal commerce; so that
that Prince, who was besides in love with Jane Seymour, thought
of nothing but ridding himself of Anne Boleyn; and in less than
three weeks he caused the Queen and her brother to be tried, had
them both beheaded, and, married Jane Seymour. He had afterwards
several wives, whom he divorced or put to death; and among others
Catherine Howard, whose confidant the Viscountess Rochefort was,
and who was beheaded with her: thus was she punished for having
falsely accused Anne Boleyn. And Henry the Eighth died, being
become excessive fat."

All the ladies, that were present when the Queen-Dauphin made
this relation, thanked her for having given them so good an
account of the Court of England; and among the rest Madam de
Cleves, who could not forbear asking several questions concerning
Queen Elizabeth.

The Queen-Dauphin caused pictures in miniature to be drawn of all
the beauties of the Court, in order to send them to the Queen her
mother. One day, when that of Madam de Cleves was finishing, the
Queen-Dauphin came to spend the afternoon with her; the Duke de
Nemours did not fail to be there; he let slip no opportunities of
seeing Madam de Cleves, yet without appearing to contrive them.
She looked so pretty that day, that he would have fell in love
with her, though he had not been so before: however he durst not
keep his eyes fixed upon her, while she was sitting for her
picture, for fear of showing too much the pleasure he took in
looking at her.

The Queen-Dauphin asked Monsieur de Cleves for a little picture
he had of his wife's, to compare it with that which was just
drawn; everybody gave their judgment of the one and the other;
and Madam de Cleves ordered the painter to mend something in the
headdress of that which had been just brought in; the painter in
obedience to her took the picture out of the case in which it
was, and having mended it laid it again on the table.

The Duke de Nemours had long wished to have a picture of Madam de
Cleves; when he saw that which Monsieur de Cleves had, he could
not resist the temptation of stealing it from a husband, who, he
believed, was tenderly loved; and he thought that among so many
persons as were in the same room he should be no more liable to
suspicion than another.

The Queen-Dauphin was sitting on the bed, and whispering to Madam
de Cleves, who was standing before her. Madam de Cleves, through
one of the curtains that was but half-drawn, spied the Duke de
Nemours with his back to the table, that stood at the bed's feet,
and perceived that without turning his face he took something
very dextrously from off the table; she presently guessed it was
her picture, and was in such concern about it, that the
Queen-Dauphin observed she did not attend to what she said, and
asked her aloud what it was she looked at. At those words, the
Duke de Nemours turned about, and met full the eyes of Madam de
Cleves that were still fixed upon him; he thought it not
impossible but she might have seen what he had done.

Madam de Cleves was not a little perplexed; it was reasonable to
demand her picture of him; but to demand it publicly was to
discover to the whole world the sentiments which the Duke had for
her, and to demand it in private would be to engage him to speak
of his love; she judged after all it was better to let him keep
it, and she was glad to grant him a favour which she could do
without his knowing that she granted it. The Duke de Nemours,
who observed her perplexity, and partly guessed the cause of it,
came up, and told her softly, "If you have seen what I have
ventured to do, be so good, Madam, as to let me believe you are
ignorant of it; I dare ask no more"; having said this he
withdrew, without waiting for her answer.

The Queen-Dauphin went to take a walk, attended with the rest of
the ladies; and the Duke de Nemours went home to shut himself up
in his closet, not being able to support in public the ecstasy he
was in on having a picture of Madam de Cleves; he tasted
everything that was sweet in love; he was in love with the finest
woman of the Court; he found she loved him against her will, and
saw in all her actions that sort of care and embarrassment which
love produces in young and innocent hearts.

At night great search was made for the picture; and having found
the case it used to be kept in, they never suspected it had been
stolen but thought it might have fallen out by chance. The
Prince of Cleves was very much concerned for the loss of it; and
after having searched for it a great while to no purpose, he told
his wife, but with an air that showed he did not think so, that
without doubt she had some secret lover, to whom she had given
the picture, or who had stole it, and that none but a lover would
have been contented with the picture without the case.

These words, though spoke in jest, made a lively impression in
the mind of Madam de Cleves; they gave her remorse, and she
reflected on the violence of her inclination which hurried her on
to love the Duke of Nemours; she found she was no longer mistress
of her words or countenance; she imagined that Lignerolles was
returned, that she had nothing to fear from the affair of
England, nor any cause to suspect the Queen-Dauphin; in a word,
that she had no refuge or defence against the Duke de Nemours but
by retiring; but as she was not at her liberty to retire, she
found herself in a very great extremity and ready to fall into
the last misfortune, that of discovering to the Duke the
inclination she had for him: she remembered all that her mother
had said to her on her death-bed, and the advice which she gave
her, to enter on any resolutions, however difficult they might
be, rather than engage in gallantry; she remembered also what
Monsieur de Cleves had told her, when he gave an account of Madam
de Tournon; she thought she ought to acknowledge to him the
inclination she had for the Duke de Nemours, and in that thought
she continued a long time; afterwards she was astonished to have
entertained so ridiculous a design, and fell back again into her
former perplexity of not knowing what to choose.

The peace was signed; and the Lady Elizabeth, after a great deal
of reluctance, resolved to obey the King her father. The Duke of
Alva was appointed to marry her in the name of the Catholic King,
and was very soon expected. The Duke of Savoy too, who was to
marry the King's sister, and whose nuptials were to be solemnised
at the same time, was expected every day. The King thought of
nothing but how to grace these marriages with such diversions as
might display the politeness and magnificence of his Court.
Interludes and comedies of the best kind were proposed, but the
King thought those entertainments too private, and desired to
have somewhat of a more splendid nature: he resolved to make a
solemn tournament, to which strangers might be invited, and of
which the people might be spectators. The princes and young
lords very much approved the King's design, especially the Duke
of Ferrara, Monsieur de Guise, and the Duke de Nemours, who
surpassed the rest in these sorts of exercises. The King made
choice of them to be together with himself the four champions of
the tournament.

Proclamation was made throughout the kingdom, that on the 15th of
June in the City of Paris, his most Christian Majesty, and the
Princes Alphonso d'Ete Duke of Ferrara, Francis of Loraine Duke
of Guise, and James of Savoy Duke of Nemours would hold an open
tournament against all comers. The first combat to be on
horse-back in the lists, with double armour, to break four
lances, and one for the ladies; the second combat with swords,
one to one, or two to two, as the judges of the field should
direct; the third combat on foot, three pushes of pikes, and six
hits with the sword. The champions to furnish lances, swords,
and pikes, at the choice of the combatants. Whoever did not
manage his horse in the carreer to be put out of the lists; four
judges of the field to give orders. The combatants who should
break most lances and perform best to carry the prize, the value
whereof to be at the discretion of the judges; all the
combatants, as well French as strangers, to be obliged to touch
one or more, at their choice, of the shields that should hang on
the pillar at the end of the lists, where a herald at arms should
be ready to receive them, and enroll them according to their
quality, and the shields they had touched; the combatants to be
obliged to cause their shields and arms to be brought by a
gentleman and hung up at the pillar three days before the
tournament, otherwise not to be admitted without leave of the

A spacious list was made near the Bastille, which begun from the
Chateau des Tournelles and crossed the street of St. Anthony, and
extended as far as the King's stables; on both sides were built
scaffolds and amphitheatres, which formed a sort of galleries
that made a very fine sight, and were capable of containing an
infinite number of people. The princes and lords were wholly
taken up in providing what was necessary for a splendid
appearance, and in mingling in their cyphers and devices somewhat
of gallantry that had relation to the ladies they were in love

A few days before the Duke of Alva's arrival, the King made a
match at tennis with the Duke de Nemours, the Chevalier de Guise,
and the Viscount de Chartres. The Queens came to see them play,
attended with the ladies of the Court, and among others Madam de
Cleves. After the game was ended, as they went out of the tennis
court, Chatelart came up to the Queen-Dauphin, and told her
fortune had put into his hands a letter of gallantry, that
dropped out of the Duke de Nemours's pocket. This Queen, who was
always very curious in what related to the Duke, bid Chatelart
give her the letter; he did so, and she followed the Queen her
mother-in-law, who was going with the King to see them work at
the lists. After they had been there some time, the King caused
some horses to be brought that had been lately taken in, and
though they were not as yet thoroughly managed, he was for
mounting one of them, and ordered his attendants to mount others;
the King and the Duke de Nemours hit upon the most fiery and high
mettled of them. The horses were ready to fall foul on one
another, when the Duke of Nemours, for fear of hurting the King,
retreated abruptly, and ran back his horse against a pillar with
so much violence that the shock of it made him stagger. The
company ran up to him, and he was thought considerably hurt; but
the Princess of Cleves thought the hurt much greater than anyone
else. The interest she had in it gave her an apprehension and
concern which she took no care to conceal; she came up to him
with the Queens, and with a countenance so changed, that one less
concerned than the Chevalier de Guise might have perceived it:
perceive it he immediately did, and was much more intent upon the
condition Madam de Cleves was in, than upon that of the Duke de
Nemours. The blow the Duke had given himself had so stunned him,
that he continued some time leaning his head on those who
supported him; when he raised himself up, he immediately viewed
Madam de Cleves, and saw in her face the concern she was in for
him, and he looked upon her in a manner which made her sense how
much he was touched with it: afterwards he thanked the Queens for
the goodness they had expressed to him, and made apologies for
the condition he had been in before them; and then the King
ordered him to go to rest.

Madam de Cleves, after she was recovered from the fright she had
been in, presently reflected on the tokens she had given of it.
The Chevalier de Guise did not suffer her to continue long in the
hope that nobody had perceived it, but giving her his hand to
lead her out of the lists: "I have more cause to complain,
Madam," said he, "than the Duke de Nemours; pardon me, if I
forget for a moment that profound respect I have always had for
you, and show you how much my heart is grieved for what my eyes
have just seen; this is the first time I have ever been so bold
as to speak to you, and it will be the last. Death or at least
eternal absence will remove me from a place where I can live no
longer, since I have now lost the melancholy comfort I had of
believing that all who behold you with love are as unhappy as

Madam de Cleves made only a confused answer, as if she had not
understood what the Chevalier's words meant: at another time she
would have been offended if he had mentioned the passion he had
for her; but at this moment she felt nothing but the affliction
to know that he had observed the passion she had for the Duke de
Nemours. The Chevalier de Guise was so well convinced of it, and
so pierced with grief, that from that moment he took a resolution
never to think of being loved by Madam de Cleves; but that he
might the better be able to quit a passion which he had thought
so difficult and so glorious, it was necessary to make choice of
some other undertaking worthy of employing him; he had his view
on Rhodes: the taking of which he had formerly had some idea of;
and when death snatched him away, in the flower of his youth, and
at a time when he had acquired the reputation of one of the
greatest Princes of his age, the only regret he had to part with
life was, that he had not been able to execute so noble a
resolution, the success whereof he thought infallible from the
great care he had taken about it.

Madam de Cleves, when she came out of the lists, went to the
Queen's apartment, with her thoughts wholly taken up with what
had passed. The Duke de Nemours came there soon after, richly
dressed, and like one wholly unsensible of the accident that had
befallen him; he appeared even more gay than usual, and the joy
he was in for what he had discovered, gave him an air that very
much increased his natural agreeableness. The whole Court was
surprised when he came in; and there was nobody but asked him how
he did, except Madam de Cleves, who stayed near the chimney
pretending not to see him. The King coming out of his closet,
and seeing him among others called him to talk to him about his
late accident. The Duke passed by Madam de Cleves, and said
softly to her, "Madam, I have received this day some marks of
your pity, but they were not such as I am most worthy of."
Madam de Cleves suspected that he had taken notice of the concern
she had been in for him, and what he now said convinced her she
was not mistaken; it gave her a great deal of concern to find she
was so little mistress of herself as not to have been able to
conceal her inclinations from the Chevalier de Guise; nor was she
the less concerned to see that the Duke de Nemours was acquainted
with them; yet this last grief was not so entire, but there was a
certain mixture of pleasure in it.

The Queen-Dauphin, who was extremely impatient to know what there
was in the letter which Chatelart had given her, came up to Madam
de Cleves. "Go read this letter," says she; "'tis addressed
to the Duke de Nemours, and was probably sent him by the mistress
for whom he has forsaken all others; if you can't read it now,
keep it, and bring it me about bedtime and inform me if you know
the hand." Having said this, the Queen-Dauphin went away from
Madam de Cleves, and left her in such astonishment, that she was
not able for some time to stir out of the place. The impatience
and grief she was in not permitting her to stay at Court, she
went home before her usual hour of retirement; she trembled with
the letter in her hand, her thoughts were full of confusion, and
she experienced I know not what of insupportable grief, that she
had never felt before. No sooner was she in her closet, but she
opened the letter and found it as follows:

I have loved you too well to leave you in a belief that the
change you observe in me is an effect of lightness; I must inform
you that your falsehood is the cause of it; you will be surprised
to hear me speak of your falsehood; you have dissembled it with
so much skill, and I have taken so much care to conceal my
knowledge of it from you, that you have reason to be surprised at
the discovery; I am myself in wonder, that I have discovered
nothing of it to you before; never was grief equal to mine; I
thought you had the most violent passion for me, I did not
conceal that which I had for you, and at the time that I
acknowledged it to you without reserve, I found that you deceived
me, that you loved another, and that in all probability I was
made a sacrifice to this new mistress. I knew it the day you run
at the ring, and this was the reason I was not there; at first I
pretended an indisposition in order to conceal my sorrow, but
afterwards I really fell into one, nor could a constitution
delicate like mine support so violent a shock. When I began to
be better, I still counterfeited sickness, that I might have an
excuse for not seeing and for not writing to you; besides I was
willing to have time to come to a resolution in what manner to
deal with you; I took and quitted the same resolution twenty
times; but at last I concluded you deserved not to see my grief,
and I resolved not to show you the least mark of it. I had a
desire to bring down your pride, by letting you see, that my
passion for you declined of itself: I thought I should by this
lessen the value of the sacrifice you had made of me, and was
loth you should have the pleasure of appearing more amiable in
the eyes of another, by showing her how much I loved you; I
resolved to write to you in a cold and languishing manner, that
she, to whom you gave my letters, might perceive my love was at
an end: I was unwilling she should have the satisfaction of
knowing I was sensible that she triumphed over me, or that she
should increase her triumph by my despair and complaints. I
thought I should punish you too little by merely breaking with
you, and that my ceasing to love you would give you but a slight
concern, after you had first forsaken me; I found it was
necessary you should love me, to feel the smart of not being
loved, which I so severely experienced myself; I was of opinion
that if anything could rekindle that flame, it would be to let
you see that mine was extinguished, but to let you see it through
an endeavour to conceal it from you, as if I wanted the power to
acknowledge it to you: this resolution I adhered to; I found it
difficult to take, and when I saw you again I thought it
impossible to execute. I was ready a hundred times to break out
into tears and complaints; my ill state of health, which still
continued, served as a disguise to hide from you the affliction
and trouble I was in; afterward I was supported by the pleasure
of dissembling with you, as you had done with me; however it was
doing so apparent a violence to myself to tell you or to write to
you that I loved you, that you immediately perceived I had no
mind to let you see my affection was altered; you was touched
with this, you complained of it; I endeavoured to remove your
fears, but it was done in so forced a manner, that you were still
more convinced by it, I no longer loved you; in short, I did all
I intended to do. The fantasticalness of your heart was such,
that you advanced towards me in proportion as you saw I retreated
from you. I have enjoyed all the pleasure which can arise from
revenge; I plainly saw, that you loved me more than you had ever
done, and I showed you I had no longer any love for you. I had
even reason to believe that you had entirely abandoned her, for
whom you had forsaken me; I had ground too to be satisfied you
had never spoken to her concerning me; but neither your
discretion in that particular, nor the return of your affection
can make amends for your inconstancy; your heart has been divided
between me and another, and you have deceived me; this is
sufficient wholly to take from me the pleasure I found in being
loved by you, as I thought I deserved to be, and to confirm me in
the resolution I have taken never to see you more, which you are
so much surprised at.

Madam de Cleves read this letter, and read it over again several
times, without knowing at the same time what she had read; she
saw only that the Duke de Nemours did not love her as she
imagined and that he loved others who were no less deceived by
him than she. What a discovery was this for a person in her
condition, who had a violent passion, who had just given marks of
it to a man whom she judged unworthy of it, and to another whom
she used ill for his sake! Never was affliction so cutting as
hers; she imputed the piercingness of it to what had happened
that day, and believed that if the Duke de Nemours had not had
ground to believe she loved him she should not have cared whether
he loved another or not; but she deceived herself, and this evil
which she found so insupportable was jealousy with all the
horrors it can be accompanied with. This letter discovered to
her a piece of gallantry the Duke de Nemours had been long
engaged in; she saw the lady who wrote it was a person of wit and
merit, and deserved to be loved; she found she had more courage
than herself, and envied her the power she had had of concealing
her sentiments from the Duke de Nemours; by the close of the
letter, she saw this lady thought herself beloved, and presently
suspected that the discretion the Duke had showed in his
addresses to her, and which she had been so much taken with, was
only an effect of his passion for this other mistress, whom he
was afraid of disobliging; in short, she thought of everything
that could add to her grief and despair. What reflections did
she not make on herself, and on the advices her mother had given
her I how did she repent, that she had not persisted in her
resolution of retiring, though against the will of Monsieur de
Cleves, or that she had not pursued her intentions of
acknowledging to him the inclination she had for the Duke of
Nemours! She was convinced, she would have done better to
discover it to a husband, whose goodness she was sensible of, and
whose interest it would have been to conceal it, than to let it
appear to a man who was unworthy of it, who deceived her, who
perhaps made a sacrifice of her, and who had no view in being
loved by her but to gratify his pride and vanity; in a word, she
found, that all the calamities that could befall her, and all the
extremities she could be reduced to, were less than that single
one of having discovered to the Duke de Nemours that she loved
him, and of knowing that he loved another: all her comfort was to
think, that after the knowledge of this she had nothing more to
fear from herself, and that she should be entirely eased of the
inclination she had for the Duke.

She never thought of the orders the Queen-Dauphin had given her,
to come to her when she went to rest: she went to bed herself,
and pretended to be ill; so that when Monsieur de Cleves came
home from the King, they told him she was asleep. But she was
far from that tranquillity which inclines to sleep; all the night
she did nothing but torment herself, and read over and over the
letter in her hand.

Madam de Cleves was not the only person whom this letter
disturbed. The Viscount de Chartres, who had lost it and not the
Duke de Nemours, was in the utmost inquietude about it. He had
been that evening with the Duke of Guise, who had given a great
entertainment to the Duke of Ferrara his brother-in-law, and to
all the young people of the Court: it happened that the discourse
turned upon ingenious letters; and the Viscount de Chartres said
he had one about him the finest that ever was writ: they urged
him to show it, and on his excusing himself, the Duke de Nemours
insisted he had no such letter, and that what he said was only
out of vanity; the Viscount made him answer, that he urged his
discretion to the utmost, that nevertheless he would not show the
letter; but he would read some parts of it, which would make it
appear few men received the like. Having said this, he would
have taken out the letter, but could not find it; he searched for
it to no purpose. The company rallied him about it; but he
seemed so disturbed, that they forbore to speak further of it; he
withdrew sooner than the others, and went home with great
impatience, to see if he had not left the letter there. While he
was looking for it, one of the Queen's pages came to tell him,
that the Viscountess d'Usez had thought it necessary to give him
speedy advice, that it was said at the Queen's Court, that he had
dropped a letter of gallantry out of his pocket while he was
playing at tennis; that great part of what the letter contained
had been related, that the Queen had expressed a great curiosity
to see it, and had sent to one of her gentlemen for it, but that
he answered, he had given it to Chatelart.

The page added many other particulars which heightened the
Viscount's concern; he went out that minute to go to a gentleman
who was an intimate friend of Chatelart's; and though it was a
very unseasonable hour, made him get out of bed to go and fetch
the letter, without letting him know who it was had sent for it,
or who had lost it. Chatelart, who was prepossessed with an
opinion that it belonged to the Duke of Nemours, and that the
Duke was in love with the Queen-Dauphin, did not doubt but it was
he who had sent to redemand it, and so answered with a malicious
sort of joy, that he had put the letter into the Queen-Dauphin's
hands. The gentleman brought this answer back to the Viscount de
Chartres, which increased the uneasiness he was under already,
and added new vexations to it: after having continued some time
in an irresolution what to do, he found that the Duke de Nemours
was the only person whose assistance could draw him out of this
intricate affair.

Accordingly he went to the Duke's house, and entered his room
about break of day. What the Duke had discovered the day before
with respect to the Princess of Cleves had given him such
agreeable ideas, that he slept very sweetly; he was very much
surprised to find himself waked by the Viscount de Chartres, and
asked him if he came to disturb his rest so early, to be revenged
of him for what he had said last night at supper. The Viscount's
looks soon convinced him, that he came upon a serious business;
"I am come," said he, "to entrust you with the most important
affair of my life; I know very well, you are not obliged to me
for the confidence I place in you, because I do it at a time when
I stand in need of your assistance; but I know likewise, that I
should have lost your esteem, if I had acquainted you with all I
am now going to tell you, without having been forced to it by
absolute necessity: I have dropped the letter I spoke of last
night; it is of the greatest consequence to me, that nobody
should know it is addressed to me; it has been seen by abundance
of people, who were at the tennis court yesterday when I dropped
it; you was there too, and the favour I have to ask you, is, to
say it was you who lost it." "Sure you think," replied the
Duke de Nemours smiling, "that I have no mistress, by making
such a proposal, and that I have no quarrels or inconveniences to
apprehend by leaving it to be believed that I receive such
letters." "I beg you," said the Viscount, "to hear me
seriously; if you have a mistress, as I doubt not you have,
though I do not know who she is, it will be easy for you to
justify yourself, and I'll put you into an infallible way of
doing it. As for you, though you should fail in justifying
yourself, it can cost you nothing but a short falling out; but
for my part, this accident affects me in a very different manner,
I shall dishonour a person who has passionately loved me, and is
one of the most deserving women in the world; on the other side,
I shall draw upon myself an implacable hatred that will ruin my
fortune, and perhaps proceed somewhat further." "I do not
comprehend what you say," replied the Duke de Nemours, "but I
begin to see that the reports we have had of your interest in a
great Princess are not wholly without ground." "They are
not," replied the Viscount, "but I would to God they were: you
would not see me in the perplexity I am in; but I must relate the
whole affair to you, to convince you how much I have to fear.

"Ever since I came to Court, the Queen has treated me with a
great deal of favour and distinction, and I had grounds to
believe that she was very kindly disposed towards me: there was
nothing, however, particular in all this, and I never presumed to
entertain any thoughts of her but what were full of respect; so
far from it, that I was deeply in love with Madam de Themines;
anyone that sees her may easily judge, 'tis very possible for one
to be greatly in love with her, when one is beloved by her, and
so I was. About two years ago, the Court being at Fontainebleau,
I was two or three times in conversation with the Queen, at hours
when there were very few people in her apartment: it appeared to
me, that my turn of wit was agreeable to her, and I observed she
always approved what I said. One day among others she fell into
a discourse concerning confidence. I said there was nobody in
whom I entirely confided, that I found people always repented of
having done so, and that I knew a great many things of which I
had never spoke: the Queen told me, she esteemed me the more for
it, that she had not found in France anyone that could keep a
secret, and that this was what had embarrassed her more than
anything else, because it had deprived her of the pleasure of
having a confidant; that nothing was so necessary in life as to
have somebody one could open one's mind to with safety,
especially for people of her rank. Afterwards she frequently
resumed the same discourse, and acquainted me with very
particular circumstances; at last I imagined she was desirous to
learn my secrets, and to entrust me with her own; this thought
engaged me strictly to her. I was so pleased with this
distinction that I made my court to her with greater assiduity
than usual. One evening the King and the ladies of the Court
rode out to take the air in the forest, but the Queen, being a
little indisposed did not go; I stayed to wait upon her, and she
walked down to the pond-side, and dismissed her gentlemen ushers,
that she might be more at liberty. After she had taken a few
turns she came up to me, and bid me follow her; `I would speak
with you,' says she, `and by what I shall say you will see I am
your friend.' She stopped here, and looking earnestly at me;
`You are in love,' continued she, `and because perhaps you have
made nobody your confidant, you think that your love is not
known; but it is known, and even by persons who are interested in
it: you are observed, the place where you see your mistress is
discovered, and there's a design to surprise you; I don't know
who she is, nor do I ask you to tell me, I would only secure you
from the misfortunes into which you may fall.' See, I beseech
you, what a snare the Queen laid for me, and how difficult it was
for me not to fall into it; she had a mind to know if I was in
love, and as she did not ask me who I was in love with, but let
me see her intention was only to serve me, I had no suspicion
that she spoke either out of curiosity or by design.

"Nevertheless, contrary to all probability, I saw into the
bottom of the matter; I was in love with Madam de Themines, but
though she loved me again, I was not happy enough to have private
places to see her in without danger of being discovered there,
and so I was satisfied she could not be the person the Queen
meant; I knew also, that I had an intrigue with another woman
less handsome and less reserved than Madam de Themines, and that
it was not impossible but the place where I saw her might be
discovered; but as this was a business I little cared for, it was
easy for me to guard against all sorts of danger by forbearing to
see her; I resolved therefore to acknowledge nothing of it to the
Queen, but to assure her on the contrary that I had a long time
laid aside the desire of gaining women's affections, even where I
might hope for success, because I found them all in some measure
unworthy of engaging the heart of an honourable man, and that it
must be something very much above them which could touch me.
`You do not answer me ingenuously,' replied the Queen; `I am
satisfied of the contrary; the free manner in which I speak to
you ought to oblige you to conceal nothing from me; I would have
you,' continued she, `be of the number of my friends; but I would
not, after having admitted you into that rank, be ignorant of
your engagements; consider, whether you think my friendship will
be too dear at the price of making me your confidant; I give you
two days to think on it; but then, consider well of the answer
you shall make me, and remember that if ever I find hereafter you
have deceived me, I shall never forgive you as long as I live.'

"Having said this, the Queen left me without waiting for my
answer; you may imagine how full my thoughts were of what she had
said to me; the two days she had given me to consider of it I did
not think too long a time to come to a resolution; I found she
had a mind to know if I was in love, and that her desire was I
should not be so; I foresaw the consequences of what I was going
to do, my vanity was flattered with the thought of having a
particular interest with the Queen, and a Queen whose person is
still extremely amiable; on the other hand, I was in love with
Madam de Themines, and though I had committed a petty treason
against her by my engagement with the other woman I told you of,
I could not find in my heart to break with her; I foresaw also
the danger I should expose myself to, if I deceived the Queen,
and how hard it would be to do it; nevertheless I could not
resolve to refuse what fortune offered me, and was willing to run
the hazard of anything my ill conduct might draw upon me; I broke
with her with whom I kept a correspondence that might be
discovered, and was in hopes of concealing that I had with Madam
de Themines.

"At the two days' end, as I entered the room where the Queen was
with all the ladies about her, she said aloud to me, and with a
grave air that was surprising enough, `Have you thought of the
business I charged you with, and do you know the truth of it?'
`Yes, Madam,' answered I, `and 'tis as I told your Majesty.'
`Come in the evening, when I am writing,' replied she, `and you
shall have further orders.' I made a respectful bow without
answering anything, and did not fail to attend at the hour she
had appointed me. I found her in the gallery, with her secretary
and one of her women. As soon as she saw me she came to me, and
took me to the other end of the gallery; `Well,' says she,
`after having considered thoroughly of this matter, have you
nothing to say to me, and as to my manner of treating you, does
not it deserve that you should deal sincerely with me?' `It is,
Madam,' answered I, `because I deal sincerely, that I have
nothing more to say, and I swear to your Majesty with all the
respect I owe you, that I have no engagement with any woman of
the Court.' `I will believe it,' replied the Queen, `because I
wish it; and I wish it, because I desire to have you entirely
mine, and because it would be impossible for me to be satisfied
with your friendship, if you were in love; one cannot confide in
those who are; one cannot be secure of their secrecy; they are
too much divided, and their mistresses have always the first
place in their thoughts, which does not suit at all with the
manner in which I would have you live with me: remember then, it
is upon your giving me your word that you have no engagement,
that I choose you for my confidant; remember, I insist on having
you entirely to myself, and that you shall have no friend of
either sex but such as I shall approve, and that you abandon
every care but that of pleasing me; I'll not desire you to
neglect any opportunity for advancing your fortune; I'll conduct
your interests with more application than you can yourself, and
whatever I do for you, I shall think myself more than
recompensed, if you answer my expectations; I make choice of you,
to open my heart's griefs to you, and to have your assistance in
softening them; you may imagine they are not small; I bear in
appearance without much concern the King's engagement with the
Duchess of Valentinois, but it is insupportable to me; she
governs the King, she imposes upon him, she slights me, all my
people are at her beck. The Queen, my daughter-in-law, proud of
her beauty, and the authority of her uncles, pays me no respect.
The Constable Montmorency is master of the King and kingdom; he
hates me, and has given proofs of his hatred, which I shall never
forget. The Mareschal de St. Andre is a bold young favourite,
who uses me no better than the others. The detail of my
misfortunes would move your pity; hitherto I have not dared to
confide in anybody, I confide in you, take care that I never
repent it, and be my only consolation.' The Queen blushed, when
she had ended this discourse, and I was so truly touched with the
goodness she had expressed to me, that I was going to throw
myself at her feet: from that day she has placed an entire
confidence in me, she has done nothing without advising with me,
and the intimacy and union between us still subsists.


"In the meantime, however busy and full I was of my new
engagement with the Queen, I still kept fair with Madam de
Themines by a natural inclination which it was not in my power to
conquer; I thought she cooled in her love to me, and whereas, had
I been prudent, I should have made use of the change I observed
in her for my cure, my love redoubled upon it, and I managed so
ill that the Queen got some knowledge of this intrigue. Jealousy
is natural to persons of her nation, and perhaps she had a
greater affection for me than she even imagined herself; at least
the report of my being in love gave her so much uneasiness, that
I thought myself entirely ruined with her; however I came into
favour again by virtue of submissions, false oaths, and
assiduity; but I should not have been able to have deceived her
long, had not Madam de Themines's change disengaged me from her
against my will; she convinced me she no longer loved me, and I
was so thoroughly satisfied of it, that I was obliged to give her
no further uneasiness, but to let her be quiet. Some time after
she wrote me this letter which I have lost; I learned from it,
she had heard of the correspondence I had with the other woman I
told you of, and that that was the reason of her change. As I
had then nothing further left to divide me, the Queen was well
enough satisfied with me; but the sentiments I have for her not
being of a nature to render me incapable of other engagements,
and love not being a thing that depends on our will, I fell in
love with Madam de Martigues, of whom I was formerly a great
admirer, while she was with Villemontais, maid of honour to the
Queen-Dauphin; I have reason to believe she does not hate me; the
discretion I observe towards her, and which she does not wholly
know the reasons of, is very agreeable to her; the Queen has not
the least suspicion on her account, but she has another jealousy
which is not less troublesome; as Madam de Martigues is
constantly with the Queen-Dauphin, I go there much oftener than
usual; the Queen imagines that 'tis this Princess I am in love
with; the Queen-Dauphin's rank, which is equal to her own, and
the superiority of her youth and beauty, create a jealousy that
rises even to fury, and fills her with a hatred against her
daughter-in-law that cannot be concealed. The Cardinal of
Loraine, who, I believe has been long aspiring to the Queen's
favour, and would be glad to fill the place I possess, is, under
pretence of reconciling the two Queens, become master of the
differences between them; I doubt not but he has discovered the
true cause of the Queen's anger, and I believe he does me all
manner of ill offices, without letting her see that he designs
it. This is the condition my affairs are in at present; judge
what effect may be produced by the letter which I have lost, and
which I unfortunately put in my pocket with design to restore it
to Madam de Themines: if the Queen sees this letter, she will
know I have deceived her; and that almost at the very same time
that I deceived her for Madam de Themines, I deceived Madam de
Themines for another; judge what an idea this will give her of
me, and whether she will ever trust me again. If she does not
see the letter, what shall I say to her? She knows it has been
given to the Queen-Dauphin; she will think Chatelart knew that
Queen's hand, and that the letter is from her; she will fancy the
person of whom the letter expresses a jealousy, is perhaps
herself; in short, there is nothing which she may not think, and
there is nothing which I ought not to fear from her thoughts; add
to this, that I am desperately in love with Madam de Martigues,
and that the Queen-Dauphin will certainly show her this letter,
which she will conclude to have been lately writ. Thus shall I
be equally embroiled both with the person I love most, and with
the person I have most cause to fear. Judge, after this, if I
have not reason to conjure you to say the letter is yours, and to
beg of you to get it out of the Queen-Dauphin's hands."

"I am very well satisfied," answered the Duke de Nemours,
"that one cannot be in a greater embarrassment than that you are
in, and it must be confessed you deserve it; I have been accused
of being inconstant in my amours, and of having had several
intrigues at the same time, but you out-go me so far, that I
should not so much as have dared to imagine what you have
undertaken; could you pretend to keep Madam de Themines, and be
at the same engaged with the Queen? did you hope to have an
engagement with the Queen, and be able to deceive her? she is
both an Italian and a Queen, and by consequence full of jealousy,
suspicion, and pride. As soon as your good fortune, rather than
your good conduct, had set you at liberty from an engagement you
was entangled in, you involved yourself in new ones, and you
fancied that in the midst of the Court you could be in love with
Madam de Martigues without the Queen's perceiving it: you could
not have been too careful to take from her the shame of having
made the first advances; she has a violent passion for you; you
have more discretion than to tell it me, and I than to ask you to
tell it; it is certain she is jealous of you, and has truth on
her side." "And does it belong to you," interrupted the
Viscount, "to load me with reprimands, and ought not your own
experience to make you indulgent to my faults?

However I grant I am to blame; but think, I conjure you, how to
draw me out of this difficulty"; "I think you must go to the
Queen-Dauphin as soon as she is awake, and ask her for the
letter, as if you had lost it." "I have told you already,"
replied the Duke de Nemours, "that what you propose is somewhat
extraordinary, and that there are difficulties in it which may
affect my own particular interest; but besides, if this letter
has been seen to drop out of your pocket, I should think it would
be hard to persuade people that it dropped out of mine." "I
thought I had told you," replied the Viscount, "that the
Queen-Dauphin had been informed that you dropped it." "How,"
said the Duke de Nemours hastily, apprehending the ill
consequence this mistake might be of to him with Madam de Cleves,
"has the Queen-Dauphin been told I dropped the letter?"
"Yes," replied the Viscount, "she has been told so; and what
occasioned the mistake was, that there were several gentlemen of
the two Queens in a room belonging to the tennis court, where our
clothes were put up, when your servants and mine went together to
fetch them; then it was the letter fell out of the pocket; those
gentlemen took it up, and read it aloud; some believed it
belonged to you, and others to me; Chatelart, who took it, and to
whom I have just sent for it, says, he gave it to the
Queen-Dauphin as a letter of yours; and those who have spoken of
it to the Queen have unfortunately told her it was mine; so that
you may easily do what I desire of you, and free me from this

The Duke de Nemours had always had a great friendship for the
Viscount de Chartres, and the relation he bore to Madam de Cleves
still made him more dear to him; nevertheless he could not
prevail with himself to run the risk of her having heard of this
letter, as of a thing in which he was concerned; he fell into a
deep musing, and the Viscount guessed pretty near what was the
subject of his meditations; "I plainly see," said he, "that
you are afraid of embroiling yourself with your mistress, and I
should almost fancy the Queen-Dauphin was she, if the little
jealousy you seem to have of Monsieur d'Anville did not take me
off from that thought; but be that as it will, it is not
reasonable you should sacrifice your repose to mine, and I'll put
you in a way of convincing her you love, that this letter is
directed to me, and not to you; here is a billet from Madam
d'Amboise, who is a friend of Madam de Themines, and was her
confidant in the amour between her and me; in this she desires me
to send her Madam de Themines's letter, which I have lost; my
name is on the superscription, and the contents of the billet
prove, without question, that the letter she desires is the same
with that which has been found; I'll leave this billet in your
hands, and agree that you may show it to your mistress in your
justification; I conjure you not to lose a moment, but to go this
morning to the Queen-Dauphin."

The Duke de Nemours promised the Viscount he would, and took
Madam d'Amboise's billet; nevertheless his design was not to see
the Queen-Dauphin; he thought more pressing business required his
care; he made no question, but she had already spoke of the
letter to Madam de Cleves, and could not bear that a person he
loved so desperately, should have ground to believe he had
engagements with any other.

He went to the Princess of Cleves as soon as he thought she might
be awake; and ordered her to be told, that, if he had not
business of the last consequence, he would not have desired the
honour to see her at so extraordinary an hour. Madam de Cleves
was in bed, and her mind was tossed to and fro by a thousand
melancholy thoughts that she had had during the night; she was
extremely surprised to hear the Duke de Nemours asked for her;
the anxiety she was in made her presently answer, that she was
ill, and could not speak with him.

The Duke was not at all shocked at this refusal; he thought it
presaged him no ill, that she expressed a little coldness at a
time when she might be touched with jealousy. He went to the
Prince of Cleves's apartment, and told him he came from that of
his lady, and that he was very sorry he could not see her,
because he had an affair to communicate to her of great
consequence to the Viscount de Chartres; he explained in few
words to the Prince the importance of this business, and the
Prince immediately introduced him into his lady's chamber. Had
she not been in the dark, she would have found it hard to have
concealed the trouble and astonishment she was in to see the Duke
de Nemours introduced by her husband. Monsieur de Cleves told
her the business was about a letter, wherein her assistance was
wanting for the interest of the Viscount, that she was to consult
with Monsieur de Nemours what was to be done; and that as for him
he was going to the King, who had just sent for him.

The Duke de Nemours had his heart's desire, in being alone with
Madam de Cleves; "I am come to ask you, Madam," said he, "if
the Queen-Dauphin has not spoke to you of a letter which
Chatelart gave her yesterday." "She said something to me of
it," replied Madam de Cleves, "but I don't see what relation
this letter his to the interests of my uncle, and I can assure
you that he is not named in it." "It is true, Madam," replied
the Duke de Nemours, "he is not named in it but yet it is
addressed to him, and it very much imports him that you should
get it out of the Queen-Dauphin's hands." "I cannot
comprehend," replied the Princess, "how it should be of any
consequence to him, if this letter should be seen, nor what
reason there is to redemand it in his name." "If you please to
be at leisure to hear me, Madam," said Monsieur de Nemours,
"I'll presently make you acquainted with the true state of the
thing, and inform you of matters of so great importance to the
Viscount, that I would not even have trusted the Prince of Cleves
with them, had I not stood in need of his assistance to have the
honour to see you." "I believe," said Madam de Cleves in a
very unconcerned manner, "that anything you may give yourself
the trouble of telling me, will be to little purpose; you had
better go to the Queen-Dauphin, and plainly tell her, without
using these roundabout ways, the interest you have in that
letter, since she has been told, as well as I, that it belongs to

The uneasiness of mind which Monsieur de Nemours observed in
Madam de Cleves gave him the most sensible pleasure he ever knew,
and lessened his impatience to justify himself: "I don't know,
Madam," replied he, "what the Queen-Dauphin may have been told;
but I am not at all concerned in that letter; it is addressed to
the Viscount." "I believe so," replied Madam de Cleves, "but
the Queen-Dauphin has heard to the contrary, and she won't think
it very probable that the Viscount's letters should fall out of
your pocket; you must therefore have some reason, that I don't
know of, for concealing the truth of this matter from the
Queen-Dauphin; I advise you to confess it to her." "I have
nothing to confess to her," says he, "the letter is not
directed to me, and if there be anyone that I would have
satisfied of it, it is not the Queen-Dauphin; but, Madam, since
the Viscount's interest is nearly concerned in this, be pleased
to let me acquaint you with some matters that are worthy of your
curiosity." Madam de Cleves by her silence showed her readiness
to hear him, and he as succinctly as possible related to her all
he had just heard from the Viscount. Though the circumstances
were naturally surprising, and proper to create attention, yet
Madam de Cleves heard them with such coldness, that she seemed
either not to believe them true, or to think them indifferent to
her; she continued in this temper until the Duke de Nemours spoke
of Madam d'Amboise's billet, which was directed to the Viscount,
and was a proof of all he had been saying; as Madam de Cleves
knew that this lady was a friend of Madam de Themines, she found
some probability in what the Duke de Nemours had said, which made
her think, that the letter perhaps was not addressed to him; this
thought suddenly, and in spite of herself, drew her out of the
coldness and indifferency she had until then been in. The Duke
having read the billet, which fully justified him, presented it
to her to read, and told her she might possibly know the hand.
She could not forbear taking it, and examining the superscription
to see if it was addressed to the Viscount de Chartres, and
reading it all over, that she might the better judge, if the
letter which was redemanded was the same with that she had in her
hand. The Duke de Nemours added whatever he thought proper to
persuade her of it; and as one is easily persuaded of the truth
of what one wishes, he soon convinced Madam de Cleves that he had
no concern in the letter.

She began now to reason with him concerning the embarrassment and
danger the Viscount was in, to blame his ill conduct, and to
think of means to help him: she was astonished at the Queen's
proceedings, and confessed to the Duke that she had the letter;
in short, she no sooner believed him innocent, but she discoursed
with him with greater ease and freedom, concerning what she would
scarce before vouchsafe to hear; they agreed that the letter
should not be restored to the Queen-Dauphin, for fear she should
show it to Madam de Martigues, who knew Madam de Themines's hand,
and would easily guess, by the interest she had in the Viscount,
that it was addressed to him; they agreed also, that they ought
not to entrust the Queen-Dauphin with all that concerned the
Queen her mother-in-law. Madam de Cleves, under pretence of
serving her uncle, was pleased to be the Duke de Nemours's
confidant in the secrets he had imparted to her.

The Duke would not have confined his discourse to the Viscount's
concerns, but from the liberty he had of free conversation with
her, would have assumed a boldness he had never yet done, had not
a message been brought in to Madam de Cleves, that the
Queen-Dauphin had sent for her. The Duke was forced to withdraw;
he went to the Viscount to inform him, that after he had left
him, he thought it more proper to apply to Madam de Cleves, his
niece, than to go directly to the Queen-Dauphin; he did not want
reasons to make him approve what he had done, and to give him
hopes of good success.

In the meantime Madam de Cleves dressed herself in all haste to
go to the Queen-Dauphin; she was no sooner entered her chamber,
but she called her to her, and whispered her, "I have been
waiting for you these two hours, and was never so perplexed about
disguising a truth as I have been this morning: the Queen has
heard of the letter I gave you yesterday, and believes it was the
Viscount de Chartres that dropped it; you know, she has some
interest to be satisfied in it; she has been in search for the
letter, and has caused Chatelart to be asked for it; who said he
had given it to me; they have been to ask me for it, under
pretence it was an ingenious letter which the Queen had a
curiosity to see; I durst not say that you had it, for fear she
should think I had given it you on your uncle the Viscount's
account, and that there was a correspondence between him and me.
I was already satisfied that his seeing me so often gave her
uneasiness, so that I said the letter was in the clothes I had on
yesterday, and that those who had them in keeping were gone
abroad; give me the letter immediately," added she, "that I may
send it her, and that I may read it before I send it to see if I
know the hand."

Madam de Cleves was harder put to it than she expected; "I don't
know, Madam, what you will do," answered she, "for Monsieur de
Cleves, to whom I gave it to read, returned it to the Duke of
Nemours, who came early this morning to beg him to get it of you.

Monsieur de Cleves had the imprudence to tell him he had it, and
the weakness to yield to the entreaties the Duke de Nemours made
that he would restore it him." "You throw me into the greatest
embarrassment I can possibly be in," replied the Queen-Dauphin;
"and you have given this letter to the Duke de Nemours. Since
it was I that gave it you, you ought not to have restored it
without my leave; what would you have me say to the Queen, and
what can she imagine? She will think, and not without reason,
that this letter concerns myself, and that there is something
between the Viscount and me; she will never be persuaded the
letter belonged to the Duke de Nemours." "I am very much
concerned," replied Madam de Cleves, "for the misfortune I have
occasioned, and I believe the difficulty I have brought you into
is very great; but 'twas Monsieur de Cleves's fault, and not
mine." "You are in fault," replied the Queen-Dauphin, "for
having given him the letter; and I believe you are the only woman
in the world that acquaints her husband with all she knows."
"I acknowledge myself in fault, Madam," replied the Princess of
Cleves, "but let us rather think of preventing the consequences
of what I have done, than insist on the fault itself." "Do you
remember, pretty near, what the letter contains?" says the
Queen-Dauphin. "Yes, Madam, I do," replied she, "for I have
read it over more than once." "If so," said the
Queen-Dauphin, "you must immediately get it written out in an
unknown hand, and I'll send it to the Queen; she'll not show it
those who have seen it already; and though she should, I'll stand
in it, that it is the same Chatelart gave me; and he'll not dare
to say otherwise."

Madam de Cleves approved of this expedient, and the more because
it gave her an opportunity of sending for the Duke de Nemours, to
have the letter itself again, in order to have it copied word for
word, imitating as near as may be the hand it was written in, and
she thought this would effectually deceive the Queen. As soon as
she was got home, she informed her husband of what had passed
between her and the Queen-Dauphin, and begged him to send for the
Duke de Nemours. The Duke was sent for, and came immediately;
Madam de Cleves told him all she had told her husband, and asked
for the letter; but the Duke answered, that he had already
returned it to the Viscount de Chartres, who was so overjoyed
upon having it again, and being freed from the danger he was in,
that he sent it immediately to Madam de Themines's friend. Madam
de Cleves was in a new embarrassment on this occasion: in short,
after having consulted together, they resolved to form the letter
by memory; and, in order to go about it, they locked themselves
up, and left orders that nobody should be admitted, and that all
the Duke de Nemours's attendants should be sent away. Such an
appearance of secret confidence was no small charm to Monsieur de
Nemours, and even to Madam de Cleves; her husband's presence, and
the interests of her uncle the Viscount de Chartres, were
considerations which in great measure removed her scruples, and
made this opportunity of seeing and being with the Duke de
Nemours so agreeable to her, that she never before experienced a
joy so pure and free from allay; this threw her into a freedom
and gaiety of spirit which the Duke had never observed in her
till now, and which made him still more passionately in love with
her: as he had never known such agreeable moments, his vivacity
was much heightened; and whenever Madam de Cleves was beginning
to recollect and write the letter, instead of assisting her
seriously, did nothing but interrupt her with wit and pleasantry.
Madam de Cleves was as gay as he, so that they had been locked up
a considerable time, and two messages had come from the
Queen-Dauphin to hasten Madam de Cleves, before they had half
finished the letter.

The Duke de Nemours was glad to prolong the time that was so
agreeable to him, and neglected the concerns of his friend; Madam
de Cleves was not at all tired, and neglected also the concerns
of her uncle: at last, with much ado, about four o'clock the
letter was finished, and was so ill done, and the copy so unlike
the original, as to the handwriting, that the queen must have
taken very little care to come at the truth of the matter, if she
had been imposed on by so ill a counterfeit. Accordingly she was
not deceived; and however industrious they were to persuade her,
that this letter was addressed to the Duke de Nemours, she
remained satisfied not only that it was addressed to the Viscount
de Chartres, but that the Queen-Dauphin was concerned in it, and
that there was a correspondence between them; this heightened her
hatred against that Princess to such a degree, that she never
forgave her, and never ceased persecuting her till she had driven
her out of France.

As for the Viscount de Chartres, his credit was entirely ruined
with her; and whether the Cardinal of Loraine had already
insinuated himself so far into her esteem as to govern her, or
whether the accident of this letter, which made it appear that
the Viscount had deceived her, enabled her to discover the other
tricks he had played her, it is certain he could never after
entirely reconcile himself to her; their correspondence was broke
off, and at length she ruined him by means of the conspiracy of
Amboise, in which he was involved.

After the letter was sent to the Queen-Dauphin, Monsieur de
Cleves and Monsieur de Nemours went away; Madam de Cleves
continued alone, and being no longer supported by the joy which
the presence of what one loves gives one, she seemed like one
newly waked from a dream; she beheld, with astonishment, the
difference between the condition she was in the night before, and
that she was in at this time: she called to mind, how cold and
sullen she was to the Duke de Nemours, while she thought Madam de
Themines's letter was addressed to him, and how calm and sweet a
situation of mind succeeded that uneasiness, as soon as he was
satisfied he was not concerned in that letter; when she
reflected, that she reproached herself as guilty for having given
him the foregoing day only some marks of sensibility, which mere
compassion might have produced, and that by her peevish humour
this morning, she had expressed such a jealousy as was a certain
proof of passion, she thought she was not herself; when she
reflected further, that the Duke de Nemours saw plainly that she
knew he was in love with her, and that, notwithstanding her
knowing it, she did not use him the worse for it, even in her
husband's presence; but that, on the contrary, she had never
behaved so favourably to him; when she considered, she was the
cause of Monsieur de Cleves's sending for him, and that she had
just passed an afternoon in private with him; when she considered
all this, she found, there was something within her that held
intelligence with the Duke de Nemours, and that she deceived a
husband who least deserved it; and she was ashamed to appear so
little worthy of esteem, even in the eyes of her lover; but what
she was able to support less than all the rest was, the
remembrance of the condition in which she spent the last night,
and the pricking griefs she felt from a suspicion that the Duke
de Nemours was in love with another, and that she was deceived by

Never till then was she acquainted with the dreadful inquietudes
that flow from jealousy and distrust; she had applied all her
cares to prevent herself from falling in love with the Duke de
Nemours, and had not before had any fear of his being in love
with another: though the suspicions which this letter had given
her were effaced, yet they left her sensible of the hazard there
was of being deceived, and gave her impressions of distrust and
jealousy which she had never felt till that time; she was
surprised that she had never yet reflected how improbable it was
that a man of the Duke de Nemours's turn, who had showed so much
inconstancy towards women, should be capable of a lasting and
sincere passion; she thought it next to impossible for her to be
convinced of the truth of his love; "But though I could be
convinced of it," says she, "what have I to do in it? Shall I
permit it? Shall I make a return? Shall I engage in gallantry,
be false to Monsieur de Cleves, and be false to myself? In a
word, shall I go to expose myself to the cruel remorses and
deadly griefs that rise from love? I am subdued and vanquished
by a passion, which hurries me away in spite of myself; all my
resolutions are vain; I had the same thoughts yesterday that I
have today, and I act today contrary to what I resolved
yesterday; I must convey myself out of the sight of the Duke de
Nemours; I must go into the country, however fantastical my
journey may appear; and if Monseur de Cleves is obstinately bent
to hinder me, or to know my reasons for it, perhaps I shall do
him and myself the injury to acquaint him with them." She
continued in this resolution, and spent the whole evening at
home, without going to the Queen-Dauphin to enquire what had
happened with respect to the counterfeited letter.

When the Prince of Cleves returned home, she told him she was
resolved to go into the country; that she was not very well, and
had occasion to take the air. Monsieur de Cleves, to whom she
appeared so beautiful that he could not think her indisposition
very considerable, at first made a jest of her design, and
answered that she had forgot that the nuptials of the Princesses
and the tournament were very near, and that she had not too much
time to prepare matters so as to appear there as magnificently as
other ladies. What her husband said did not make her change her
resolution, and she begged he would agree, that while he was at
Compiegne with the King, she might go to Colomiers, a pretty
house then building, within a day's journey of Paris. Monsieur
de Cleves consented to it; she went thither with a design of not
returning so soon, and the King set out for Compiegne, where he
was to stay but few days.

The Duke de Nemours was mightily concerned he had not seen Madam
de Cleves since that afternoon which he had spent so agreeably
with her, and which had increased his hopes; he was so impatient
to see her again that he could not rest; so that when the King
returned to Paris, the Duke resolved to go to see his sister the
Duchess de Mercoeur, who was at a country seat of hers very near
Colomiers; he asked the Viscount to go with him, who readily
consented to it. The Duke de Nemours did this in hopes of
visiting Madam de Cleves, in company of the Viscount.

Madam de Mercoeur received them with a great deal of joy, and
thought of nothing but giving them all the pleasures and
diversions of the country; one day, as they were hunting a stag,
the Duke de Nemours lost himself in the forest, and upon
enquiring his way was told he was near Colomiers; at that word,
Colomiers, without further reflection, or so much as knowing what
design he was upon, he galloped on full speed the way that had
been showed him; as he rode along he came by chance to the
made-ways and walks, which he judged led to the castle: at the
end of these walks he found a pavilion, at the lower end of which
was a large room with two closets, the one opening into a
flower-garden, and the other looking into a spacious walk in the
park; he entered the pavilion, and would have stopped to observe
the beauty of it, if he had not seen in the walk the Prince and
Princess of Cleves, attended with a numerous train of their
domestics. As he did not expect to meet Monsieur de Cleves
there, whom he had left with the King, he thought at first of
hiding himself; he entered the closet which looked into the
flower-garden, with design to go out that way by a door which
opened to the forest; but observing Madam de Cleves and her
husband were sat down under the pavilion, and that their
attendants stayed in the park, and could not come to him without
passing by the place where Monsieur and Madam de Cleves were, he
could not deny himself the pleasure of seeing this Princess, nor
resist the curiosity he had to hear her conversation with a
husband, who gave him more jealousy than any of his rivals. He
heard Monsieur de Cleves say to his wife, "But why will you not
return to Paris? What can keep you here in the country? You
have of late taken a fancy for solitude, at which I am both
surprised and concerned, because it deprives me of your company:
I find too, you are more melancholy than usual, and I am afraid
you have some cause of grief." "I have nothing to trouble my
mind," answered she with an air of confusion, "but there is
such a bustle at Court, and such a multitude of people always at
your house, that it is impossible but both body and mind should
be fatigued, and one cannot but desire repose." "Repose,"
answered he, "is not very proper for one of your age; you are at
home, and at Court, in such a manner as cannot occasion
weariness, and I am rather afraid you desire to live apart from
me." "You would do me great wrong to think so," replied she
with yet more confusion, "but I beg you to leave me here; if you
could stay here, and without company, I should be very glad of
it; nothing would be more agreeable to me than your conversation
in this retirement, provided you would approve not to have about
you that infinite number of people, who in a manner never leave
you." "Ah! Madam," cries Monsieur de Cleves, "both your
looks and words convince me that you have reasons to desire to be
alone, which I don't know; I conjure you to tell them me." He
urged her a great while to inform him, without being able to
oblige her to it; and after she had excused herself in a manner
which still increased her husband's curiosity, she continued in a
deep silence, with her eyes cast down then, taking up the
discourse on a sudden, and looking upon him, "Force me not,"
said she, "to confess a thing to you which I have not the power
to confess, though I have often designed it; remember only, that
it is not prudent a woman of my years, and mistress of her own
conduct, should remain exposed in the midst of a Court." "What
is it, Madam," cried Monsieur de Cleves, "that you lead me to
imagine? I dare not speak it, for fear of offending you."
Madam de Cleves making no answer, her silence confirmed her
husband in what he thought; "You say nothing to me," says he,
"and that tells me clearly, that I am not mistaken." "Alas,
sir," answered she, falling on her knees, "I am going to make a
confession to you, such as no woman ever yet made to her husband;
but the innocence of my intentions, and of my conduct, give me
power to do it; it is true, I have reasons to absent myself from
Court, and I would avoid the dangers persons of my age are
sometimes liable to; I have never shown any mark of weakness, and
I cannot apprehend I ever shall, if you will permit me to retire
from Court, since now I have not Madam de Chartres to assist me
in my conduct; however dangerous a step I am taking, I take it
with pleasure to preserve myself worthy of you; I ask you a
thousand pardons, if I have sentiments which displease you, at
least I will never displease you by my actions; consider, that to
do what I do, requires more friendship and esteem for a husband
than ever wife had; direct my conduct, have pity on me, and if
you can still love me."

Monsieur de Cleves, all the while she spoke, continued leaning
his head on his hand, almost beside himself, and never thought of
raising her up. When she had done speaking, and he cast his eyes
upon her, and saw her on her knees with her face drowned in
tears, inimitably beautiful, he was ready to die for grief, and
taking her up in his arms, "Have you pity on me, Madam," says
he, "for I deserve it, and pardon me, if in the first moments of
an affliction so violent as mine, I do not answer as I ought to
so generous a proceeding as yours; I think you more worthy of
esteem and admiration than any woman that ever was, but I find
myself also the most unfortunate of men: you inspired me with
passion the first moment I saw you, and that passion has never
decayed; not your coldness, nor even enjoyment itself, has been
able to extinguish it; it still continues in its first force, and
yet it has not been in my power to kindle in your breast any
spark of love for me, and now I find you fear you have an
inclination for another; and who is he, Madam, this happy man
that gives you such apprehensions? How long has he charmed you?
What has he done to charm you? What method has he taken to get
into your heart? When I could not gain your affections myself,
it was some comfort to me to think, that no other could gain
them; in the meantime, another has effected what I could not, and
I have at once the jealousy of a husband and lover. But it is
impossible for me to retain that of a husband after such a
proceeding on your part, which is too noble and ingenuous not to
give me an entire security; it even comforts me as a lover; the
sincerity you have expressed, and the confidence you have placed
in me are of infinite value: you have esteem enough for me to
believe I shall not abuse the confession you have made to me; you
are in the right, Madam, I will not abuse it, or love you the
less for it; you make me unhappy by the greatest mark of fidelity
ever woman gave her husband; but go on, Madam, and inform me who
he is whom you would avoid." "I beg you not to ask me,"
replied she; "I am resolved not to tell you, nor do I think it
prudent to name him." "Fear not, Madam," replied Monsieur de
Cleves, "I know the world too well to be ignorant that a woman's
having a husband does not hinder people from being in love with
her; such lovers may be the objects of one's hatred, but we are
not to complain of it; once again, Madam, I conjure you to tell
me what I so much desire to know." "It is in vain to press
me," replied she, "I have the power to be silent in what I
think I ought not to tell; the confession I made to you was not
owing to any weakness, and it required more courage to declare
such a truth than it would have done to conceal it."

The Duke de Nemours did not lose a word of this conversation, and
what Madam de Cleves had said gave him no less jealousy than her
husband; he was so desperately in love with her, that he believed
all the world was so too; it is true, he had many rivals, yet he
fancied them still more, and his thoughts wandered to find out
who it was Madam de Cleves meant: he had often thought he was not
disagreeable to her, but the grounds of his judgment on this
occasion appeared so slight, that he could not imagine he had
raised in her heart a passion violent enough to oblige her to
have recourse to so extraordinary a remedy; he was so
transported, that he scarce knew what he saw, and he could not
pardon Monsieur de Cleves for not having pressed his wife enough
to tell him the name of the person she concealed from him.

Monsieur de Cleves nevertheless used his utmost endeavours to
know it; and having urged her very much on the subject; "I
think," answered she, "that you ought to be satisfied with my
sincerity; ask me no more about it, and don't give me cause to
repent of what I have done; content yourself with the assurance
which I once more give you, that my sentiments have never
appeared by any of my actions, and that no address hath been made
to me that could give me offence." "Ah! Madam," replied
Monsieur de Cleves on a sudden, "I cannot believe it; I remember
the confusion you was in when your picture was lost; you have
given away, Madam, you have given away that picture, which was so
dear to me, and which I had so just a right to; you have not been
able to conceal your inclinations, you are in love; it is known;
your virtue has hitherto saved you from the rest." "Is it
possible," cried Madam de Cleves, "you can imagine there was
any reserve or disguise in a confession like mine, which I was no
way obliged to? Take my word, I purchase dearly the confidence I
desire of you; I conjure you to believe I have not given away my
picture; it is true, I saw it taken, but I would not seem to see
it, for fear of subjecting myself to hear such things as no one
has yet dared to mention to me." "How do you know then that
you are loved," said Monsieur de Cleves? "What mark, what
proof of it has been given you?" "Spare me the pain," replied
she, "of repeating to you circumstances which I am ashamed to
have observed, and which have convinced me but too much of my own
weakness." "You are in the right, Madam," answered he, "I am
unjust; always refuse me when I ask you such things, and yet
don't be angry with me for asking them."

Just then several of the servants, who had stayed in the walks,
came to acquaint Monsieur de Cleves, that a gentleman was arrived
from the King, with orders for him to be at Paris that evening.
Monsieur de Cleves was obliged to go, and had only time to tell
his wife that he desired her to come to Paris the next day; and
that he conjured her to believe, that however afflicted he was,
he had a tenderness and esteem for her, with which she ought to
be satisfied.

When he was gone, and Madam de Cleves being alone, considered
what she had done, she was so frightened at the thought of it,
she could hardly believe it to be true. She found she had
deprived herself of the heart and esteem of her husband, and was
involved in a labyrinth she should never get out of; she asked
herself why she had ventured on so dangerous a step, and
perceived she was engaged in it almost without having designed
it; the singularity of such a confession, for which she saw no
precedent, made her fully sensible of her danger.

But on the other hand, when she came to think that this remedy,
however violent it was, was the only effectual one she could make
use of against Monsieur de Nemours, she found she had no cause to
repent, or to believe she had ventured too far; she passed the
whole night full of doubts, anxiety and fear; but at last her
spirits grew calm again; she even felt a pleasure arise in her
mind, from a sense of having given such a proof of fidelity to a
husband who deserved it so well, who had so great a friendship
and esteem for her, and had so lately manifested it by the manner
in which he received the confession she had made him.

In the meantime Monsieur de Nemours was gone away from the place,
in which he had overheard a conversation which so sensibly
affected him, and was got deep into the forest; what Madam de
Cleves said of her picture had revived him, since it was certain
from thence that he was the person she had an inclination for; at
first he gave a leap of joy, but his raptures were at an end as
soon as he began to reflect, that the same thing that convinced
him he had touched the heart of Madam de Cleves, ought to
convince him also that he should never receive any marks of it,
and that it would be impossible to engage a lady who had recourse
to so extraordinary a remedy; and yet he could not but be
sensibly pleased to have reduced her to that extremity; he
thought it glorious for him to have gained the affections of a
woman so different from the rest of her sex; in a word, he
thought himself very happy and very unhappy at the same time. He
was benighted in the forest, and was very much put to it to find
his way again to his sister's the Duchess of Mercoeur; he arrived
there at break of day, and was extremely at a loss what account
to give of his absence, but he made out the matter as well as he
could, and returned that very day to Paris with the Viscount.

The Duke was so taken up with his passion, and so surprised at
the conversation he had heard, that he fell into an indiscretion
very common, which is, to speak one's own particular sentiments
in general terms, and to relate one's proper adventures under
borrowed names. As they were travelling he began to talk of
love, and exaggerated the pleasure of being in love with a person
that deserved it; he spoke of the fantastical effects of this
passion, and at last not being able to contain within himself the
admiration he was in at the action of Madam de Cleves, he related
it to the Viscount without naming the person, or owning he had
any share in it; but he told it with so much warmth and surprise,
that the Viscount easily suspected the story concerned himself.
The Viscount urged him very much to confess it, and told him he
had known a great while that he was violently in love, and that
it was unjust in him to show a distrust of a man who had
committed to him a secret on which his life depended. The Duke
de Nemours was too much in love to own it, and had always
concealed it from the Viscount, though he valued him the most of
any man at Court; he answered that one of his friends had told
him this adventure, and made him promise not to speak of it; and
he also conjured the Viscount to keep the secret: the Viscount
assured him he would say nothing of it but notwithstanding
Monsieur de Nemours repented that he had told him so much.

In the meantime Monsieur de Cleves was gone to the King, with a
heart full of sorrow and affliction. Never had husband so
violent a passion for his wife, or so great an esteem; what she
had told him did not take away his esteem of her, but made it of
a different nature from that he had had before; what chiefly
employed his thoughts, was a desire to guess who it was that had
found out the secret to win her heart; the Duke de Nemours was
the first person he thought of on this occasion, as being the
handsomest man at Court; and the Chevalier de Guise, and the
Mareschal de St. Andre occurred next, as two persons who had made
it their endeavour to get her love, and who were still very
assiduous in courting her, so that he was fully persuaded it must
be one of the three. He arrived at the Louvre, and the King
carried him into his closet to inform him he had made choice of
him to conduct Madame into Spain, and that he believed nobody
could acquit himself better of that charge, nor that any lady
would do France greater honour than Madam de Cleves. Monsieur de
Cleves received the honour the King had done him by this choice
with the respect he ought, and he considered it also as what
would take his wife from Court, without leaving room to suspect
any change in her conduct; but the embarrassment he was under
required a speedier remedy than that journey, which was to be
deferred a great while, could afford; he immediately wrote to
Madam de Cleves to acquaint her with what the King had told him,
and gave her to understand he absolutely expected she should
return to Paris. She returned according to his orders, and when
they met, they found one another overwhelmed with melancholy.

Monsieur de Cleves spoke to her, as a man of the greatest honour
in the world, and the best deserving the confidence she had
reposed in him; "I am not alarmed as to your conduct," said
he,"you have more strength and virtue than you imagine; I am not
alarmed with fears of what may happen hereafter; what troubles me
is that I see you have those sentiments for another which you
want for me." "I don't know what to answer you," said she,
"I die with shame when I speak of this subject spare me, I
conjure you, such cruel conversations; regulate my conduct, and
never let me see anybody; this is all I desire of you; but take
it not ill of me, if I speak no more of a thing which makes me
appear so little worthy of you, and which I think so unbecoming
me." "You are in the right, Madam;" replied he, "I abuse
your goodness and your confidence in me; but have some compassion
also on the condition you have brought me to, and think that
whatever you have told me, you conceal from me a name, which
creates in me a curiosity I cannot live without satisfying; and
yet I ask you not to satisfy it; I cannot, however, forbear
telling you, that I believe the man I am to envy is the Mareschal
de St. Andre, the Duke de Nemours, or the Chevalier de Guise."
"I shall make you no answer," says she blushing, "nor give you
any ground from what I say, either to lessen or strengthen your
suspicions; but if you endeavour to inform yourself by observing
me, you will throw me into a confusion all the world will take
notice of, for God's sake," continued she, "allow me under
pretence of an indisposition to see nobody." "No, Madam,"
said he, "it will quickly be discovered to be a feigned
business; and besides, I am unwilling to trust you to anything
but yourself; my heart tells me this is the best way I can take,
and my reason tells me so also, considering the temper of mind
you are in, I cannot put a greater restraint upon you than by
leaving you to your liberty."

Monsieur de Cleves was not mistaken; the confidence he showed he
had in his wife, fortified her the more against Monsieur de
Nemours, and made her take more severe resolutions than any
restraint could have brought her to. She went to wait on the
Queen-Dauphin at the Louvre as she used to do, but avoided the
presence and eyes of Monsieur de Nemours with so much care, that
she deprived him of almost all the joy he had in thinking she
loved him; he saw nothing in her actions but what seemed to show
the contrary; he scarcely knew if what he had heard was not a
dream, so very improbable it seemed to him; the only thing which
assured him that he was not mistaken, was Madam de Cleves's
extreme melancholy, which appeared, whatever pains she took to
hide it; and perhaps kind words and looks would not have
increased the Duke of Nemours's love so much as this severe
conduct did.

One evening, as Monsieur and Madam de Cleves were at the Queen's
apartment, it was said there was a report that the King would
name another great lord to wait on Madame into Spain. Monsieur
de Cleves had his eye fixed on his wife, when it was further
said, the Chevalier de Guise, or the Mareschal de St. Andre, was
the person; he observed she was not at all moved at either of
those names, nor the discourse of their going along with her;
this made him believe, it was not either of them whose presence
she feared. In order to clear up his suspicions, he went into
the Queen's closet, where the King then was, and after having
stayed there some time came back to his wife, and whispered her,
that he had just heard the Duke de Nemours was the person
designed to go along with them to Spain.

The name of the Duke de Nemours, and the thought of being exposed
to see him every day, during a very long journey, in her
husband's presence, so affected Madam de Cleves, that she could
not conceal her trouble: and being willing to give other reasons
for it, "No choice," says she, "could have been made more
disagreeable for you; he will share all honours with you, and I
think you ought to endeavour to get some other chosen." "It is
not honour, Madam," replied Monsieur de Cleves, "that makes you
apprehensive of the Duke de Nemours's going with me, the
uneasiness you are in proceeds from another cause; and from this
uneasiness of yours I learn, that which I should have discovered
in another woman, by the joy she would have expressed on such an
occasion; but be not afraid; what I have told you is not true, it
was an invention of mine to assure myself of a thing which I
already believed but too much."

Having said this, he went out, being unwilling to increase, by
his presence, the concern he saw his wife in.

The Duke de Nemours came in that instant, and presently observed
Madam de Cleves's condition; he came up to her, and told her
softly, he had that respect for her, he durst not ask what it was
made her more pensive than usual. The voice of the Duke de
Nemours brought her to herself again, and looking at him, without
having heard what he had said to her, full of her own thoughts,
and afraid lest her husband should see him with her, "For God's
sake," says she, "leave me to myself in quiet." "Alas,
Madam," answered he, "I disturb you too little; what is it you
can complain of? I dare not speak to you, I dare not look upon
you, I tremble whenever I approach you. How have I drawn upon
myself what you have said to me, and why do you show me that I am
in part the cause of the trouble I see you in?" Madam de Cleves
was very sorry to have given the Duke an opportunity of
explaining himself more clearly than ever he had done before; she
left him without making any answer, and went home with her mind
more agitated than ever. Her husband perceived her concern was
increased, and that she was afraid he would speak to her of what
had passed, and followed her into her closet; "Do not shun me,
Madam," says he, "I will say nothing to you that shall
displease you; I ask pardon for the surprise I gave you a while
ago; I am sufficiently punished by what I have learnt from it;
the Duke de Nemours was of all men he whom I most feared; I see
the danger you are in; command yourself for your own sake, and,
if it is possible, for mine; I do not ask this of you as a
husband, but as a man whose happiness wholly depends on you, and
who loves you more violently and more tenderly than he whom your
heart prefers to me." Monsieur de Cleves was melted upon
speaking these words, and could scarce make an end of them; his
wife was so moved, she burst into tears, and embraced him with a
tenderness and sorrow that put him into a condition not very
different from her own; they continued silent a while, and parted
without having the power to speak to one another.

All things were ready for the marriage of Madame, and the Duke of
Alva was arrived to espouse her; he was received with all the
ceremony and magnificence that could be displayed on such an
occasion; the King sent to meet him the Prince of Conde, the
Cardinals of Loraine and Guise, the Dukes of Loraine and Ferrara,
d'Aumale, de Bouillon, de Guise, and de Nemours; they had a great
number of gentlemen, and a great many pages in livery; the King
himself, attended with two hundred gentlemen, and the Constable
at their head, received the Duke of Alva at the first gate of the
Louvre; the Duke would have kneeled down, but the King refused
it, and made him walk by his side to the Queen's apartment, and
to Madame's, to whom the Duke of Alva had brought a magnificent
present from his master; he went thence to the apartment of Madam
Margaret the King's sister, to compliment her on the part of the
Duke of Savoy, and to assure her he would arrive in a few days;
there were great assemblies at the Louvre, the show the Duke of
Alva, and the Prince of Orange who accompanied him, the beauties
of the Court.

Madam de Cleves could not dispense with going to these
assemblies, however desirous she was to be absent, for fear of
disobliging her husband, who absolutely commanded her to be
there; and what yet more induced her to it, was the absence of
the Duke de Nemours; he was gone to meet the Duke of Savoy, and
after the arrival of that Prince, he was obliged to be almost
always with him, to assist him in everything relating to the
ceremonies of the nuptials; for this reason Madam de Cleves did
not meet him so often as she used to do, which gave her some sort
of ease.

The Viscount de Chartres had not forgot the conversation he had
had with the Duke de Nemours: it still ran in his mind that the
adventure the Duke had related to him was his own; and he
observed him so carefully that it is probable he would have
unravelled the business, if the arrival of the Duke of Alva and
of the Duke of Savoy had not made such an alteration in the
Court, and filled it with so much business, as left no
opportunities for a discovery of that nature; the desire he had
to get some information about it, or rather the natural
disposition one has to relate all one knows to those one loves,
made him acquaint Madam de Martigues with the extraordinary
action of that person who had confessed to her husband the
passion she had for another; he assured her the Duke de Nemours
was the man who had inspired so violent a love, and begged her
assistance in observing him. Madam de Martigues was glad to hear
what the Viscount told her, and the curiosity she had always
observed in the Queen-Dauphin for what concerned the Duke de
Nemours made her yet more desirous to search into the bottom of
the affair.

A few days before that which was fixed for the ceremony of the
marriage, the Queen-Dauphin entertained at supper the King her
father-in-law, and the Duchess of Valentinois. Madam de Cleves,
who had been busy in dressing herself, went to the Louvre later
than ordinary; as she was going, she met a gentleman that was
coming from the Queen-Dauphin to fetch her; as soon as she
entered the room, that Princess, who was sitting upon her bed,
told her aloud, that she had expected her with great impatience.
"I believe, Madam," answered she, "that I am not obliged to
you for it, and that your impatience was caused by something
else, and not your desire to see me." "You are in the right,"
answered the Queen-Dauphin, "but, nevertheless, you are obliged
to me; for I'll tell you an adventure, which I am sure you'll be
glad to know."

Madam de Cleves kneeled at her bedside, and, very luckily for
her, with her face from the light: "You know," said the Queen,
"how desirous we have been to find out what had caused so great
a change in the Duke de Nemours; I believe I know it, and it is
what will surprise you; he is desperately in love with, and as
much beloved by, one of the finest ladies of the Court." It is
easy to imagine the grief Madam de Cleves felt upon hearing these
words, which she could not apply to herself, since she thought
nobody knew anything of her passion for the Duke; "I see nothing
extraordinary in that," replied she, "considering how young and
handsome a man the Duke de Nemours is." "No," replied the
Queen-Dauphin, "there is nothing extraordinary in it; but what
will surprise you is, that this lady, who is in love with the
Duke de Nemours, has never given him any mark of it, and that the
fear she was in lest she should not always be mistress of her
passion, has made her confess it to her husband, that he may take
her away from Court; and it is the Duke de Nemours himself who
has related what I tell you."

If Madam de Cleves was grieved at first through the thought that
she had no concern in this adventure, the Queen-Dauphin's last
words threw her into an agony, by making it certain she had too
much in it; she could not answer, but continued leaning her head
on the bed; meanwhile the Queen went on, and was so intent on
what she was saying, that she took no notice of her
embarrassment. When Madam de Cleves was a little come to
herself, "This story, Madam," says she, "does not seem very
probable to me, and I should be glad to know who told it you."
"It was Madam de Martigues," replied the Queen-Dauphin, "and
she heard it from the Viscount de Chartres; you know the Viscount
is in love with her; he entrusted this matter to her as a secret,
and he was told it by the Duke de Nemours himself; it is true the
Duke did not tell the lady's name, nor acknowledge that he was
the person she was in love with, but the Viscount makes no manner
of question of it." When the Queen-Dauphin had done speaking,
somebody came up to the bed; Madam de Cleves was so placed that
she could not see who it was, but she was presently convinced,
when the Queen-Dauphin cried out with an air of gaiety and
surprise, "Here he is himself, I'll ask him what there is in
it." Madam de Cleves knew very well it was the Duke de Nemours,
without turning herself, as it really was; upon which she went up
hastily to the Queen-Dauphin, and told her softly, that she ought
to be cautious of speaking to him of this adventure, which he had
entrusted to the Viscount de Chartres as a secret, and that it
was a thing which might create a quarrel between them. "You are
too wise," said the Queen-Dauphin smiling, and turned to the
Duke de Nemours. He was dressed for the evening assembly, and
taking up the discourse with that grace which was natural to him,
"I believe, Madam," says he, "I may venture to think you were
speaking of me as I came in, that you had a design to ask me
something, and that Madam de Cleves is against it." "It is
true," replied the Queen-Dauphin, "but I shall not be so
complaisant to her on this occasion as I was used to be; I would
know of you, whether a story I have been told is true, and
whether you are not the person who is in love with, and beloved
by a lady of the Court, who endeavours to conceal her passion
from you, and has confessed it to her husband."

The concern and confusion Madam de Cleves was in was above all
that can be imagined, and if death itself could have drawn her
out of this condition, she would have gladly embraced it; but the
Duke de Nemours was yet more embarrassed if possible: the
discourse of the Queen-Dauphin, by whom he had reason to believe
he was not hated, in the presence of Madam de Cleves, who was
confided in by her more than anybody of the Court, and who
confided more in her, threw him into such confusion and
extravagance of thought, that it was impossible for him to be
master of his countenance: the concern he saw Madam de Cleves in
through his fault, and the thought of having given her just cause
to hate him, so shocked him he could not speak a word. The
Queen-Dauphin, seeing how thunderstruck she was, "Look upon him,
look upon him," said she to Madam de Cleves, "and judge if this
adventure be not his own."

In the meantime the Duke de Nemours, finding of what importance
it was to him to extricate himself out of so dangerous a
difficulty, recovered himself from his first surprise, and became
at once master of his wit and looks. "I acknowledge, Madam,"
said he, "it is impossible to be more surprised and concerned
than I was at the treachery of the Viscount de Chartres, in
relating an adventure of a friend of mine, which I had in
confidence imparted to him. I know how to be revenged of him,"
continued he, smiling with a calm air, which removed the
suspicions the Queen-Dauphin had entertained of him: "He has
entrusted me with things of no very small importance; but I don't
know, Madam, why you do me the honour to make me a party in this
affair. The Viscount can't say I am concerned in it, for I told
him the contrary; I may very well be taken to be a man in love,
but I cannot believe, Madam, you will think me of the number of
those who are loved again." The Duke was glad to say anything
to the Queen-Dauphin, which alluded to the inclination he had
expressed for her formerly, in order to divert her thoughts from
the subject in question. She imagined she understood well enough
the drift of what he said, but without making any answer to it,
she continued to rally him upon the embarrassment he was in. "I
was concerned, Madam," said he, "for the interest of my friend,
and on account of the just reproaches he might make me for having
told a secret which is dearer to him than life. He has
nevertheless entrusted me but with one half of it, and has not
told me the name of the person he loves; all I know is, that he's
the most deeply in love of any man in the world, and has the most
reason to complain." "Do you think he has reason to
complain," replied the Queen-Dauphin, "when he is loved
again?" "Do you believe he is, Madam," replied he, "and that
a person who had a real passion could discover it to her husband?
That lady, doubtless, is not acquainted with love, and has
mistaken for it a slight acknowledgment of the fondness her lover
had for her. My friend can't flatter himself with the lent
hopes; but, unfortunate as he is, he thinks himself happy at
least in having made her afraid of falling in love with him, and
he would not change his condition for that of the happiest lover
in the world." "Your friend has a passion very easy to be
satisfied," said the Queen-Dauphin, "and I begin to believe it
is not yourself you are speaking of; I am almost," continued
she, "of the opinion of Madam de Cleves, who maintains that this
story cannot be true." "I don't really believe it can be
true," answered Madam de Cleves, who had been silent hitherto;
"and though it were possible to be true, how should it have been
known? It is very unlikely that a woman, capable of so
extraordinary a resolution, would have the weakness to publish
it; and surely her husband would not have told it neither, or he
must be a husband very unworthy to have been dealt with in so
generous a manner." The Duke de Nemours, who perceived the
suspicions Madam de Cleves had of her husband, was glad to
confirm her in them, knowing he was the most formidable rival he
had to overcome. "Jealousy," said he, "and a curiosity
perhaps of knowing more than a wife has thought fit to discover,
may make a husband do a great many imprudent things."

Madam de Cleves was put to the last proof of her power and
courage, and not being able to endure the conversation any
longer, she was going to say she was not well, when by good
fortune for her the Duchess of Valentinois came in, and told the
Queen-Dauphin that the King was just coming; the Queen-Dauphin
went into the closet to dress herself, and the Duke de Nemours
came up to Madam de Cleves as she was following her. "I would
give my life, Madam," said he, "to have a moment's conversation
with you; but though I have a world of important things to say to
you, I think nothing is more so, than to entreat you to believe,
that if I have said anything in which the Queen-Dauphin may seem
concerned, I did it for reasons which do not relate to her."
Madam de Cleves pretended not to hear him, and left him without
giving him a look, and went towards the King, who was just come
in. As there were abundance of people there, she trod upon her
gown, and made a false step, which served her as an excuse to go
out of a place she had not the power to stay in, and so
pretending to have received some hurt she went home.

Monsieur de Cleves came to the Louvre, and was surprised not to
find his wife there; they told him of the accident that had
befallen her, and he went immediately home to enquire after her;
he found her in bed, and perceived her hurt was not considerable.
When he had been some time with her, he found her so excessive
melancholy that he was surprised at it; "What ails you, Madam?"

says he; "you seem to have some other grief than that which you
complain of." "I feel the most sensible grief I can ever
experience," answered she; "what use have you made of that
extraordinary, or rather foolish confidence which I placed in
you? Did not I deserve to have my secret kept? and though I had
not deserved it, did not your own interest engage you to it?
Should your curiosity to know a name it was not reasonable for me

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