Chapter 52: Two Jealousies

  1. 51: Bragelonne’s Inquiries
  2. Louise de la Valliere
  3. 53: A Domiciliary Visit

Lovers are very tender towards everything which concerns the person with whom they are in love. Raoul no sooner found himself alone with Montalais than he kissed her hand with rapture. “There, there,” said the young girl, sadly, “you are throwing your kisses away; I will guarantee that they will not bring you back any interest.”

“How so? Why? Will you explain to me, my dear Aure?”

“Madame will explain everything to you. I am going to take you to her apartments.”


“Silence! and throw aside your wild and savage looks. The windows here have eyes; the walls have ears. Have the kindness not to look at me any longer; be good enough to speak to me aloud of the rain, of the fine weather, and of the charms of England.”

“At all events-” interrupted Raoul.

“I tell you, I warn you, that somewhere, I know not where, Madame is sure to have eyes and ears open. I am not very desirous, you can easily believe, to be dismissed or thrown into the Bastille. Let us talk, I tell you; or rather, do not let us talk at all.”

Raoul clinched his hands, and assumed the look and gait of a man of courage, but of a man of courage on his way to the torture. Montalais, glancing in every direction, walking along with an easy swinging gait, and holding up her head pertly in the air, preceded him to Madame’s apartments, where he was at once introduced. “Well,” he thought, “this day will pass away without my learning anything. De Guiche had too much consideration for my feelings. He has no doubt an understanding with Madame; and both of them, by a friendly plot, have agreed to postpone the solution of the problem. Why have I not here a good enemy,- that serpent De Wardes, for instance? That he would bite is very likely, but I should not hesitate any more. To hesitate, to doubt,- better by far to die!”

Raoul was in Madame’s presence. Henrietta, more charming than ever, was half lying, half reclining in her arm-chair, her little feet upon an embroidered velvet cushion; she was playing with a little kitten with long silky fur, which was biting her fingers and hanging by the lace of her collar.

Madame was thinking; she was thinking profoundly. It required both Montalais’s and Raoul’s voice to disturb her from her reverie.

“Your Highness sent for me?” repeated Raoul.

Madame shook her head, as if she were just awakening, and then said: “Good-morning, M. de Bragelonne. Yes, I sent for you. So you have returned from England?”

“Yes, Madame, and I am at your royal Highness’s commands.”

“Thank you. Leave us, Montalais!” and the latter left the room.

“You have a few minutes to give me, M. de Bragelonne, have you not?”

“All my life is at your royal Highness’s disposal,” Raoul returned, with respect, guessing that there was something serious under all these outward courtesies of Madame; nor was he displeased, indeed, to observe the seriousness of her manner, feeling persuaded that there was some sort of affinity between Madame’s sentiments and his own. In fact, every one at court of any perception at all well knew the capricious fancy and absurd despotism of the princess’s singular character. Madame had been flattered beyond all bounds by the King’s attentions; she had made herself talked about; she had inspired the Queen with that mortal jealousy which is the gnawing worm at the root of every woman’s happiness. Madame, in a word, in her attempts to cure a wounded pride, had found that her heart had become deeply and passionately attached.

We know what Madame had done to recall Raoul, who had been sent out of the way by Louis XIV. Raoul did not know of her letter to Charles II, although d’Artagnan had guessed its contents. Who will undertake to account for that seemingly inexplicable mixture of love and vanity, that passionate tenderness of feeling, that prodigious duplicity of conduct? No one can, indeed; not even the bad angel who kindles the love of coquetry in the heart of woman.

“M. de Bragelonne,” said the princess, after a moment’s pause, “have you returned satisfied?”

Bragelonne looked at Madame Henrietta, and seeing how pale she was, from what she was keeping back, from what she was burning to disclose, replied: “Satisfied? What is there for me to be satisfied or dissatisfied about, Madame?”

“But what are those things with which a man of your age and of your appearance is usually either satisfied or dissatisfied?”

“How eager she is?” thought Raoul, terrified. “What is it that she is going to breathe into my heart?” and then, frightened at what she might possibly be going to tell him, and wishing to put off the moment so wished for but so dreadful, when he should learn all, he replied, “I left behind me, Madame, a dear friend in good health, and on my return I find him very ill.”

“You refer to M. de Guiche,” replied Madame Henrietta, with the most imperturbable self-possession; “I have heard he is a very dear friend of yours.”

“He is, indeed, Madame.”

“Well, it is quite true he has been wounded; but he is better now. Oh, M. de Guiche is not to be pitied!” she said hurriedly; and then, recovering herself, added, “But has he anything to complain of? Has he complained of anything? Is there any cause of grief or sorrow with which we are not acquainted?”

“I allude only to his wound, Madame.”

“So much the better, then; for in other respects M. de Guiche seems to be very happy,- he is always in very high spirits. I am sure that you, M. de Bragelonne, would far prefer to be, like him, wounded only in the body,- for what indeed, is such a wound, after all?”

Raoul started. “Alas!” he said to himself, “she is returning to it.” He made no reply.

“What did you say?” she inquired.

“I did not say anything, Madame.”

“You did not say anything. You disapprove of my observation, then. You are perfectly satisfied, I suppose?”

Raoul approached closer to her. “Madame,” he said, “your royal Highness wishes to say something to me, and your instinctive kindness and generosity of disposition induce you to be careful and considerate as to your manner of conveying it. Will your royal Highness throw this kind forbearance aside? I am strong, and I am listening.”

“Ah!” replied Henrietta, “what do you understand, then?”

“That which your royal Highness wishes me to understand,” said Raoul, trembling, notwithstanding his command over himself, as he pronounced these words.

“In point of fact,” murmured the princess, “it seems cruel; but since I have begun-”

“Yes, Madame, since your Highness has deigned to begin, will you deign to finish-”

Henrietta rose hurriedly, and walked a few paces up and down her room. “What did M. de Guiche tell you?” she said suddenly.

“Nothing, Madame.”

“Nothing! Did he say nothing? Ah, how well I recognize him in that!”

“No doubt he wished to spare me.”

“And that is what friends call friendship. But surely M. d’Artagnan, whom you have just left, must have told you.”

“No more than De Guiche, Madame.”

Henrietta made a gesture full of impatience, as she said, “At least, you know all that the court has known?”

“I know nothing at all, Madame.”

“Not the scene in the storm?”

“Not the scene in the storm.”

“Not the tête-à-tête in the forest?”

“Not the tête-à-tête in the forest.”

“Nor the flight to Chaillot?”

Raoul, whose head drooped like the flower which has been cut down by the sickle, made an almost superhuman effort to smile as he replied with the greatest gentleness: “I have had the honor to tell your royal Highness that I am absolutely ignorant of everything,- that I am a poor unremembered outcast, who has this moment arrived from England. There have been so many stormy waves between myself and those whom I left behind me here, that the rumor of none of the circumstances your Highness refers to has been able to reach me.”

Henrietta was affected by his extreme pallor, his gentleness, and his great courage. The principal feeling in her heart at that moment was an eager desire to hear the nature of the remembrance which the poor lover retained of her who had made him suffer so much. “M. de Bragelonne,” said she, “that which your friends have refused to do, I will do for you, whom I like and esteem. I will be your friend. You hold your head high, as a man of honor should do; and I should regret that you should have to bow it down under ridicule, and in a few days, it may be, under contempt.”

“Ah!” exclaimed Raoul, perfectly livid. “Has it already gone so far?”

“If you do not know,” said the princess, “I see that you guess; you were affianced, I believe, to Mademoiselle de la Valliere?”

“Yes, Madame.”

“By that right, then, you deserve to be warned about her, as some day or other I shall be obliged to dismiss her from my service-”

“Dismiss La Valliere!” cried Bragelonne.

“Of course! Do you suppose that I shall always be accessible to the tears and protestations of the King? No, no; my house shall no longer be made a convenience for such practices. But you tremble!”

“No, Madame, no,” said Bragelonne, making an effort over himself. “I thought I should have died just now; that was all. Your royal Highness did me the honor to say that the King wept and implored you-”

“Yes; but in vain,” returned the princess, who then related to Raoul the scene that took place at Chaillot, and the King’s despair on his return. She told him of his indulgence to herself, and the terrible word with which the outraged princess, the humiliated coquette, had dashed aside the royal anger.

Raoul bowed his head.

“What do you think of it all?” she said.

“The King loves her,” he replied.

“But you seem to think she does not love him!”

“Alas, Madame, I still think of the time when she loved me.”

Henrietta was for a moment struck with admiration at this sublime disbelief; and then, shrugging her shoulders, she said: “You do not believe me, I see. Oh, how deeply you love her! And you doubt if she loves the King?”

“Until I have proof. Pardon! I have her word, you see; and she is a noble child.”

“You require a proof? Be it so! Come with me.”

  1. 51: Bragelonne’s Inquiries
  2. Louise de la Valliere
  3. 53: A Domiciliary Visit