Chapter 50: In Which the Author Thinks It Is Now Time to Return to the Vicomte de Bragelonne

  1. 49: M Colbert’s Rough Draught
  2. Louise de la Valliere
  3. 51: Bragelonne’s Inquiries

Our readers have observed in this history the adventures of the new and of the past generation unrolled, as it were, side by side. To the former, the reflection of the glory of earlier years, the experience of the bitter things of this world; to the former, also, the peace which takes possession of the heart, and the healing of the scars which were formerly deep and painful wounds. To the latter, the conflicts of love and vanity, bitter disappointments and ineffable delights,- life instead of memory. If any variety has been presented to the reader in the different episodes of this tale, it is to be attributed to the numerous shades of color which are presented on this double palette, where two pictures are seen side by side, mingling and harmonizing their severe and pleasing tones. The repose of the emotions of the one is found in the midst of the emotions of the other. After having talked reason with older heads, one likes to share in the wildness of young people. Therefore, if the threads of this story do not seem very intimately to connect the chapter we are now writing with that we have just written, we do not intend to give ourselves any more thought or trouble about it than Ruysdael took in painting an autumn sky after having finished a spring-time scene. We wish our readers to do as much, and to resume Raoul de Bragelonne’s story at the very place where our last sketch left him.

In a state of frenzy and dismay,- or rather without reason, without will, without purpose,- Raoul fled heedlessly away after the scene in La Valliere’s room. The King, Montalais, Louise, that chamber, that strange exclusion, Louise’s grief, Montalais’s terror, the King’s wrath,- all seemed to indicate some misfortune. But what? He had arrived from London because he had been told of the existence of a danger, and at once this danger showed itself. Was not that sufficient for a lover? Certainly it was; but it was insufficient for a pure and upright heart such as his. And yet Raoul did not seek for explanations in the quarter where all jealous or less timid lovers would have sought them. He did not go straightway to his mistress, and say, “Louise, is it true that you love me no longer? Is it true that you love another?” Full of courage, full of friendship, as he was full of love; a religious observer of his word, and believing the words of others,- Raoul said within himself, “Guiche wrote to put me on my guard; Guiche knows something; I will go and ask Guiche what he knows, and tell him what I have seen.”

The journey was not a long one. Guiche, who had been brought from Fontainebleau to Paris within the last two days, was beginning to recover from his wound, and to walk about a little in his room. He uttered a cry of joy as he saw Raoul enter his apartment with the eagerness of friendship. Raoul uttered a cry of grief on seeing De Guiche so pale, so thin, so melancholy. A few words, and a simple gesture which De Guiche made to put aside Raoul’s arm, were sufficient to inform the latter of the truth.

“Ah! so it is,” said Raoul, seating himself beside his friend; “one loves and dies.”

“No, no, not dies,” replied Guiche, smiling, “since I am now recovering, and since, too, I can press you in my arms.”

“Ah! I understand.”

“And I understand you too. You fancy I am unhappy, Raoul?”


“No; I am the happiest of men. My body suffers, but not my mind or my heart. If you only knew- Oh, I am, indeed, the very happiest of men!”

“So much the better,” replied Raoul; “so much the better, provided it lasts.”

“It is over. I have had enough happiness to last me to my dying day, Raoul.”

“I have no doubt you have had; but she-”

“Listen! I love her, because- But you are not listening to me.”

“I beg your pardon.”

“Your mind is preoccupied.”

“Well, yes; your health, in the first place-”

“It is not that.”

“My dear friend, you would be wrong, I think, to ask me any questions,- you, of all persons in the world;” and he laid so much weight upon the “you” that he completely enlightened his friend upon the nature of the evil and the difficulty of remedying it.

“You say that, Raoul, on account of what I wrote to you.”

“Certainly. We will talk over that matter a little when you shall have finished telling me of all your own pleasures and pains.”

“My dear friend, I am entirely at your service now.”

“Thank you. I have hurried, I have flown here,- I came here from London in half the time the government couriers usually take. Now, tell me, my dear friend, what did you want?”

“Nothing whatever, but to make you come.”

“Well, then, I am here.”

“All is quite right, then.”

“There is still something else, I imagine?”

“No, indeed.”

“De Guiche!”

“Upon my honor!”

“You cannot possibly have crushed all my hopes so violently, or have exposed me to being disgraced by the King for my return, which is in disobedience of his orders,- you cannot, in short, have planted jealousy in my heart, merely to say to me, ‘It is all right, sleep quietly!’”

“I do not say to you, Raoul, ‘Sleep quietly!’ But pray understand me; I never will, nor can I indeed, tell you anything else.”

“Oh, my friend, for whom do you take me?”

“What do you mean?”

“If you know anything, why conceal it from me? If you do not know anything, why did you warn me?”

“True, true! I was very wrong, and I regret having done so, Raoul. It seems nothing to write to a friend and say, ‘Come’; but to have this friend face to face, to feel him tremble and breathlessly wait to hear what one hardly dare tell him-”

“Dare! I have courage enough, if you have not,” exclaimed Raoul, in despair.

“See how unjust you are, and how soon you forget you have to do with a poor wounded fellow,- the half of your heart! Calm yourself, Raoul! I said to you, ‘Come’; you are here. Ask nothing further of the unhappy De Guiche.”

“You summoned me in the hope that I should see with my own eyes, did you not? Nay, do not hesitate, for I have seen all.”

“Oh!” exclaimed De Guiche.

“Or at least I thought-”

“There now, you see you are not sure. But if you have any doubt, my poor friend, what remains for me to do?”

“I have seen Louise agitated, Montalais in a state of bewilderment, the King-”

“The King?”

“Yes. You turn your head aside. The danger is there, the evil is there! tell me, is it not so,- it is the King?”

“I say nothing.”

“Oh, you say a thousand upon a thousand times more than nothing! Give me facts! for pity’s sake, give me proofs! My friend, the only friend I have, speak! My heart is crushed, wounded to death; I am dying from despair.”

“If that really be so, my dear Raoul,” replied De Guiche, “you relieve me from my difficulty, and I will tell you all, sure that I can tell you nothing but what is consoling, compared to the despair in which I now see you.”

“Go on, go on! I am listening.”

“Well, then, I can only tell you what you can learn from the first-comer.”

“From the first-comer? It is talked about?” cried Raoul.

“Before you say people talk about it, learn what it is that people can talk about. I assure you, solemnly, that people only talk about what may in truth be very innocent; perhaps a walk-”

“Ah! a walk with the King?”

“Yes, certainly, a walk with the King; and I believe the King has very frequently before taken walks with ladies, without on that account-”

“You would not have written to me, shall I say again, if there had been nothing unusual in this promenade?”

“I know that while the storm lasted, it would have been far better if the King had taken shelter somewhere else than to have remained with his head uncovered before La Valliere; but-”


“The King is so courteous!”

“Oh, De Guiche, De Guiche, you are killing me!”

“Do not let us talk any more, then.”

“Nay; let us continue. This walk was followed by others, I suppose?”

“No- I mean yes; there was the adventure of the oak, I think. But I know nothing about the matter at all.” Raoul rose; De Guiche endeavored to imitate him, notwithstanding his weakness. “Well, I will not add another word; I have said either too much or not enough. Let others give you further information if they will, or if they can; my duty was to warn you, and that I have done. Watch over your own affairs now, yourself!”

“Question others? Alas! you are no true friend to speak to me in that manner,” said the young man, in utter distress. “The first man I shall question may be either evilly disposed or a fool,- if the former, he will tell me a lie to torment me; if the latter, he will do still worse. Ah! De Guiche, De Guiche, before two hours are over, I shall have been told ten falsehoods, and shall have as many duels on my hands. Save me, then! Is it not best to know one’s whole misfortune?”

“But I know nothing, I tell you. I was wounded, in a fever; my senses were gone, and I have only effaced impressions of it all. But there is no reason why we should search very far, when the very man we want is close at hand. Is not d’Artagnan your friend?”

“Oh, true, true!”

“Go to him, then. He will throw light on the subject and without seeking to injure your eyes.”

At this moment a lackey entered the room. “What is it?” said De Guiche.

“Some one is waiting for Monseigneur in the Cabinet des Porcelaines.”

“Very well. Will you excuse me, my dear Raoul? I am so proud since I have been able to walk again.”

“I would offer you my arm, De Guiche, if I did not guess that the person in question is a lady.”

“I believe so,” said De Guiche, smiling, as he quitted Raoul.

Raoul remained motionless, absorbed, overwhelmed, like the miner upon whom a vault has just fallen in: he is wounded, his life-blood is welling fast, his thoughts are confused; he endeavors to recover himself, and to save his life and his reason. A few minutes were all Raoul needed to dissipate the bewildering sensations which had been occasioned by these two revelations. He had already recovered the thread of his ideas, when suddenly through the door he fancied he recognized Montalais’s voice in the Cabinet des Porcelaines. “She!” he cried. “Yes; it is indeed her voice! Oh! here is a woman who can tell me the truth; but shall I question her here? She conceals herself even from me; she is coming, no doubt, from Madame. I will see her in her own apartment. She will explain her alarm, her flight, the strange manner in which I was driven out; she will tell me all that,- after M. d’Artagnan, who knows everything, shall have given me fresh strength and courage. Madame- a coquette, I fear, and yet a coquette who is herself in love- has her moments of kindness; a coquette who is as capricious and uncertain as life or death, but who causes De Guiche to say that he is the happiest of men. He at least is lying on roses.” And so he hastily quitted the count’s apartments; and reproaching himself as he went for having talked of nothing but his own affairs to De Guiche, he arrived at d’Artagnan’s quarters.

  1. 49: M Colbert’s Rough Draught
  2. Louise de la Valliere
  3. 51: Bragelonne’s Inquiries