Chapter 11: Montalais and Malicorne.

  1. 10: Madame and de Guiche
  2. Louise de la Valliere
  3. 12: De Wardes Received at Court

Montalais was right. M. de Guiche, summoned in every direction, was very much exposed, even from the multiplication of matters, to the risk of not answering in any one direction. It so happened that, considering the awkwardness of the interruption, madame, notwithstanding her wounded pride, and her secret anger, could not, for the moment at least, reproach Montalais for having violated, in so bold a manner, the semi-royal order with which she had been dismissed on De Guiche’s entrance. De Guiche, also, lost his presence of mind, or it would be better to say that he had already lost it, before Montalais’ arrival, for, scarcely had he heard the young girl’s voice than, without taking leave of madame, as the most ordinary politeness required, even between persons equal in rank and station, he fled from her presence, his heart tumultuously throbbing, and his brain on fire, leaving the princess with one hand raised, as though about to bid him adieu. Montalais was at no loss, therefore, to perceive the agitation of the two lovers--the one who fled was agitated, and the one who remained was equally so.

“So, so,” murmured the young girl, as she glanced inquisitively round her, “this time, at least, I think I know as much as the most curious woman could possibly wish to know.” Madame felt so embarrassed by this inquisitorial look that, as if she heard Montalais’ muttered side remark, she did not speak a word to her maid of honor, but, casting down her eyes, retired at once to her bedroom. Montalais, observing this, stood listening for a moment, and then heard madame lock and bolt her door. By this she knew that the rest of the evening was at her own disposal; and making, behind the door which had just been closed, a gesture which indicated but little real respect for the princess, she went down the staircase in search of Malicorne, who was very busily engaged at that moment in watching a courier, who, covered with dust, had just left the Comte de Guiche’s apartments. Montalais knew that Malicorne was engaged in a matter of some importance; she therefore allowed him to look and stretch out his neck as much as he pleased; and it was only when Malicorne had resumed his natural position that she touched him on the shoulder.

“Well,” said Montalais, “what is the latest intelligence you have?”

“Monsieur de Guiche is in love with madame.”

“Fine news, truly! I know something more recent than that. “

“Well, what do you know?”

“That madame is in love with Monsieur de Guiche.”

“The one is the consequence of the other.”

“Not always, my good monsieur.”

“Is that remark intended for me7”

“Present company are always excepted.”

“Thank you,” said Malicorne. “Well, and in the other direction, what is there fresh?”

“The king wished, this evening, after the lottery to see Mademoiselle de la Valliere.”

“Well, and he has seen her?”

“No, indeed.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“The door was shut and locked.”

“So that--”

“So that the king was obliged to go back again, looking very sheepish, like a thief who has forgotten his implements. “

“Good. “

“And in the third direction?” inquired Montalais.

“The courier who has just arrived for De Guiche came from Monsieur de Bragelonne.”

“Excellent,” said Montalais, clapping her hands together.

“Why so?”

“Because we have work to do. If we get weary now something unfortunate will be sure to happen.”

“We must divide the work, then,” said Malicorne, “in order to avoid confusion.”

“Nothing easier,” replied Montalais. “Three intrigues, carefully nursed, and carefully encouraged, will produce, one with another, and, taking a low average, three love letters a day.”

“Oh!” exclaimed Malicorne, shrugging his shoulders, “you cannot mean what you say, darling; three letters a day, that may do for sentimental common people! A musketeer on duty, a young girl in a convent, may exchange letters with their lovers once a day, perhaps, from the top of a ladder, or through a hole in the wall. A letter contains all the poetry their poor little hearts have to boast of. But the cases we have in hand require to be dealt with very differently. “

“Well, finish,” said Montalais, out of patience with him. “Some one may come.”

“Finish! Why, I am only at the beginning. I have still three points as yet untouched.”

“Upon my word, he will be the death of me, with his Flemish indifference,” exclaimed Montalais.

“And you will drive me mad with your Italian vivacity. I was going to say that our lovers here will be writing volumes to each other. But what are you driving at?”

“At this: Not one of our lady correspondents will be able to keep the letters they may receive.”

“Very likely not.”

“Monsieur de Guiche will not be able to keep his either.”

“That is probable.”

“Very well, then; I will take care of all that.”

“That is the very thing which is impossible,” said Malicorne.

“Why so?”

“Because you are not your own mistress; your room is as much La Valliere’s as yours; and there are certain persons who will think nothing of visiting and searching a maid of honor’s room; so that I am terribly afraid of the queen, who is as jealous as a Spaniard; of the queen-mother, who is as jealous as a couple of Spaniards; and, last of all, of madame herself, who has jealousy enough for ten Spaniards.”

“You forget some one else.”



“I was only speaking of the women. Let us add them up, then: we will call Monsieur, No. 1.”

“De Guiche?”

“No. 2.”

“The Vicomte de Bragelonne?”

“No. 3.”

“And the king, the king?”

“No. 4. Of course the king, who not only will be more jealous, but still more powerful than all the rest put together? Ah, my dear!”

“Into what a wasp’s nest you have thrust yourself!”

“And as yet not quite far enough, if you will follow me into it.”

“Most certainly I will follow you where you like.”

“Well, yet--”

“While we have time enough left, I think it will be more prudent to turn back.”

“But I, on the contrary, think the most prudent course to take is to put ourselves at once at the head of all these intrigues.”

“You will never be able to do it.”

“With you, I would carry on ten of them. I am in my element, you must know. I was born to live at the court, as the salamander is made to live in the fire.”

“Your comparison does not reassure me in the slightest degree in the world, my dear Montalais. I have heard it said, and by very learned men, too, that, in the first place, there are no salamanders at all, and that if there had been any, they would have been perfectly baked or roasted on leaving the fire.”

“Your learned men may be very wise as far as salamanders are concerned, but your learned men would never tell you what I can tell you, namely, that Aure de Montalais is destined, before a month is over, to become the first diplomatic genius in the court of France.”

“Be it so, but on condition that I shall be the second.”

“Agreed; an offensive and defensive alliance, of course.”

“Only be very careful of any letters.”

“I will hand them to you as I receive them.”

“What shall we tell the king about madame?”

“That madame is still in love with his majesty.”

“What shall we tell madame about the king?”

“That she would be exceedingly wrong not to humor him. “

“What shall we tell La Valliere about madame?”

“Whatever we choose, for La Valliere is in our power.”

“How so?”

“In two ways.”

“What do you mean?”

“In the first place, through the Vicomte de Bragelonne.”

“Explain yourself.”

“You do not forget, I hope, that Monsieur de Bragelonne has written many letters to Mademoiselle de la Valliere?”

“I forget nothing.”

“Well, then, it was I who received, and I who kept those letters.”

“And, consequently, it is you who have them still?”


“Where? here?”

“Oh, no; I have them safe at Blois, in the little room you know well enough.”

“That dear little room, that darling little room, the antechamber of the palace I intend you to live in one of these days. But, I beg your pardon, you said that all those letters are in that little room?”


“Did you not put them in a box?”

“Of course; in the same box where I put all the letters I received from you, and where I put mine also when your business or your amusements prevented you from coming to our rendezvous.”

“Ah! very good,” said Malicorne.

“Why are you so satisfied?”

“Because I see there is a possibility of not having to run to Blois after the letters, for I have them here.”

“You have brought the box away?”

“It was very dear to me, because it belonged to you.”

“Be sure and take care of it, for it contains original documents which will be of very great value by and by.”

“I am perfectly well aware of that indeed, and that is the very reason why I laugh as I do, and with all my heart, too.”

“And now, one last word.”

“Why the last?”

“Do we need any one to assist us?”

“No one at all.”

“Valets or maid-servants?”

“Bad--detestable. You will give the letters--you will receive them. Oh! we must have no pride in this affair, otherwise Monsieur Malicorne and Mademoiselle Aure, not transacting their own affairs themselves, will have to make up their minds to see them done by others.”

“You are quite right. But what is going on yonder in Monsieur de Guiche’s room?”

“Nothing; he is only opening his window.”

“Let us be gone.” And they both immediately disappeared, all the terms of the compact having been agreed upon.

The window which had just been opened was, in fact, that of the Comte de Guiche. It was not alone with the hope of catching a glimpse of madame through her curtains that he seated himself by the open window, for his preoccupation of mind had at that time a different origin. He had just received, as we have already stated, the courier who had been dispatched to him by Bragelonne, the latter having written to De Guiche a letter which had made the deepest impression upon him, and which he had read over and over again.

“Strange, strange!” he murmured. “How powerful are the means by which destiny hurries men on toward their fate!” Leaving the window in order to approach nearer to the light, he again read over the letter he had just received:

“MY DEAR COUNT: I found Monsieur de Wardes at Calais; he has been seriously wounded in an affair with the Duke of Buckingham. De Wardes is, as you know, unquestionably brave, but full of malevolent and wicked feelings. He conversed with me about yourself, for whom, he says, he has a warm regard, also about madame, whom he considers a beautiful and amiable woman. He has guessed your affection for a certain person. He also talked to me about the person for whom I have so ardent a regard, and showed the greatest interest on my behalf in expressing a deep pity for me, accompanied, however, by dark hints which alarmed me at first, but which I at last looked upon as the result of his usual love of mystery. These are the facts: he had received news of the court; you will understand, however, that it was only through Monsieur de Lorraine. The report is, so says the news, that a change has taken place in the king’s affections. You know whom that concerns. Afterward, the news continues, people are talking about one of the maids of honor, respecting whom various slanderous reports are being circulated. These vague phrases have not allowed me to sleep. I have been deploring, ever since yesterday, that my diffidence and vacillation of purpose should, notwithstanding a certain obstinacy of character I may possess, have left me unable to reply to these insinuations. In a word, therefore, Monsieur de Wardes was setting off for Paris, and I did not delay his departure with explanations; for it seemed rather hard, I confess, to cross-examine a man whose wounds are hardly yet closed. In short, he traveled by short stages, as he was anxious to leave, he said, in order to be present at a curious spectacle which the court cannot fail to offer within a very short time. He added a few congratulatory words, accompanied by certain sympathizing expressions. I could not understand the one any more than the other. I was bewildered by my own thoughts, and then tormented by a mistrust of this man--a mistrust which, you know better than any one else, I have never been able to overcome. As soon as he left my perception seemed to become clearer. It is hardly possible that a man of De Wardes’ character should not have communicated something of his own malicious nature to the statements he made to me. It is not unlikely, therefore, that in the mysterious hints which De Wardes threw out in my presence, there may not be a mysterious signification, which I might have some difficulty in applying either to myself or to some one with whom you are acquainted. Being compelled to leave as soon as possible, in obedience to the king’s commands, the idea did not occur to me of running after De Wardes in order to ask him to explain his reserve, but I have dispatched a courier to you with this letter, which will explain in detail all my various doubts. I regard you as myself; it is you who have thought, and it will be for you to act. Monsieur de Wardes will arrive very shortly; endeavor to learn what he meant, if you do not already know it. Monsieur de Wardes, moreover, pretended that the Duke of Buckingham left Paris on the very best of terms with madame. This was an affair which would have unhesitatingly made me draw my sword, had I not felt that I was under the necessity of dispatching the king’s mission before undertaking any quarrel. Burn this letter, which Olivian will hand you. Whatever Olivian says you may confidently rely upon. Will you have the goodness, my dear comte, to recall me to the remembrance of Mademoiselle de la Valliere, whose hands I kiss with the greatest respect.
“Your devoted,
“P.S.--If anything serious should happen--we should be prepared for everything--dispatch a courier to me with this one single word, ‘Come,’ and I shall be in Paris within thirty-six hours after I shall have received your letter.”

De Guiche sighed, folded the letter up a third time, and, instead of burning it, as Raoul had recommended him to do, placed it in his pocket. He felt that he needed to read it over and over again.

“How much distress of mind, and yet how great a confidence, he shows!” murmured the comte; “he has poured out his whole soul in that letter. He says nothing of the Comte de la Fere, and speaks of his respect for Louise. He cautions me on my account, and entreats me on his own. Ah!” continued De Guiche, with a threatening gesture, “you interfere in my affairs, Monsieur de Wardes, do you? Very well, then; I shall now occupy myself with yours. And for you, poor Raoul, you who intrust your heart to my keeping, be assured I will watch over it.”

With this promise, De Guiche begged Malicorne to come immediately to his apartments, if it were possible. Malicorne acknowledged the invitation with an activity which was the first result of his conversation with Montalais. And while De Guiche, who thought that this motive was undiscovered, cross-examined Malicorne, the latter, who appeared to be working in the dark, soon guessed his questioner’s motives. The consequence was that, after a quarter of an hour’s conversation, during which De Guiche thought he had ascertained the whole truth with regard to La Valliere and the king, he had learned absolutely nothing more than his own eyes had already acquainted him with, while Malicorne learned, or guessed, that Raoul, who was absent, was fast becoming suspicious, and that De Guiche intended to watch over the treasure of the Hesperides. Malicorne accepted the office of dragon. De Guiche fancied he had done everything for his friend, and soon began to think of nothing but his own personal affairs. The next evening De Wardes’ return and his first appearance at the king’s reception were announced. When the visit had been paid the convalescent waited on Monsieur; De Guiche taking care, however, to be at Monsieur’s apartments before the visit took place.

  1. 10: Madame and de Guiche
  2. Louise de la Valliere
  3. 12: De Wardes Received at Court