Alexandre Dumas.

The romances of Alexandre Dumas, Volume 10 online

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As soon fts Buckingham had gone, De Guiche ima^ned
that the field would be open to him without a rival.
Monsieur, who no longer retained the slightest feeling of
jealousy, and who besides permitted himself to be mo-
nopolized by the Chevalier de Lorraine, allowed as much
liberty in his house as the most exacting person could
desire. The king, on his side, who had conceived a taste
for Madame's society, invented entertainment upon enter-
tainment in order to enliven her residence in Paris ; so
that not a day passed without a ball at the Palais-Royal
or a reception in Monsieur's apartments. The king had
directed that Fontainebleau should be prepared for the
reception of the court, and every one was using his ut-
most interest to get invited.

Madame led a life of incessant occupation ; neither her
voice nor her pen was idle for a moment. The conversa-
tions with De Guiche were gradually assuming an interest
which might be recognized as the prelude of a deep-
seated attachment. When eyes look languishingly while
the subject under discussion happens to be the colors of
materials for dresses ; when a whole hour is occupied in
analyzing the merits and the perfume of a sachet or a
flower, — in this style of conversation there are words
to which every one might listen, but there are gestures
and sighs which every one is not allowed to perceive.
After Madame had talked for some time with M. de

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Ouiche, she conversed with the king, who paid her a visit
regularly every day. They played, wrote verses, or se-
lected mottoes and emblematicaJ devices* That spring
was not only the spring-time of Nature ; it was the youth
of an entire people, of which those at court were the head.
The king was handsome, young, and of unequalled gal-
lantry. All women were passionately loved by him, even
the queen his wife. This great king was, however, more
timid and more reserved than any other person in the
kingdom, — to such a degree, indeed, that he had not
confessed his sentiments even to himself. This timidity
of bearing restrained him within the limits of ordinaiy
{K)liteness, and no woman could boast of having received
preference beyond another. It might be foretold that the
day when his real character would be displayed would be
the dawn of a new sovereignty ; but as yet he had not
declared himself. M. de Guiche took advantage of this
to constitute himself the sovereign prince of the whole
court of love. It had been reported that he was on the
best of terms with Mademoiselle de Montalais ; that he
had been assiduously attentive to Mademoiselle de Ch^til-
lon ; but now he was not even barely civil to any of the
court beauties. He had eyes and ears but for one person
alone. In this manner, and as it were without design,
he resumed his place with Monsieur, who had a great re-
gard for him, and kept him as much as possible in his
own apartments. Unsociable from natural disposition,
he was too reserved before the arrival of Madame, but
after her arrival he was not reserved enough.

This conduct, which every one had observed, had been
particularly remarked by the evil genius of the house,
the Chevalier de Lorraine, for whom Monsieur exhibited
the warmest attachment, because he was of a very cheer-
ful disposition even in his most malicious remarks, and

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because he was never at a loss how to make the time pass
away. The Chevalier de Lorraine, therefore, seeing that
he was threatened with being supplanted by De Guiche^
resorted to strong measures. He disappeared from the
court, leaving Monsieur much embarrassed. The first day
of his disappearance. Monsieur hardly inquired about
him ; for De Guiche was there, and except the time de-
voted to conversation with Madame, the count's days and
nights were rigorously devoted to the prince. On the
second day, however. Monsieur, finding no one near him,
inquired where the chevalier was. He was told that no
one knew.

De Guiche, after having spent the morning in selecting
embroideries and fringes with Madame, went to console
the prince. But after dinner, as there were tulips and
amethysts to look at, De Guiche returned to Madame's
boudoir. Monsieur was left quite to himself during the
hour devoted to his toilet ; he felt that he was the most
miserable of men, and again inquired whether there wa»
any news of the chevalier, in reply to which he was told
that no one knew where Monsieur the Chevalier was to
be found. Monsieur, hardly knowing in what direction
to inflict his weariness, went to Madame's apartments
dressed in his morning-gown and cap. He found a lai^e
assemblage of people there, laughing and whispering in
every part of the room. At one end were a group of
women around one of the courtiers, talking together
amid smothered bursts of laughter; at the other end
Manicamp and Malicome were being pillaged by Mon-
talais and Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente and two
other laughing maids of honor. In a farther comer was
Madame, seated upon some cushions, with De Guiche on
his knees beside her, spreading out a handfiil of pearls
and precious stones, while she, with her white and slen-

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der finger pointed out such among them as pleased her
the most. Again, in another comer of the room, a guitar-
player was humming some of the Spanish segued illas^ to
which Madame had taken the greatest fancy ever since
she had heard them sung by the young queen with tender
melancholy. But the songs which the Spaniard had sung
with tears in her eyes, the young Englishwoman was
humming with a smile which displayed her pearly teeth.
The boudoir presented, in fact, a scene of hilarious

As he entered, Monsieur was struck at beholding so
many persons enjoying themselves without him. He was
so jealous at the sight that he could not resist saying,
like a child, " What ! you are amusing yourselves here,
while I weary myself all alone!"

The sound of his voice was like a clap of thunder which
interrupts the warbling of birds in the leafy branches; a
dead silence ensued. De Guiche was on his feet in a
moment. Malicome tried to hide himself behind Mon-
talais's dress. Manicamp stood bolt upr^ht, and assumed
a very ceremonious demeanor. The guitar-player thrust
the guitar under a table, covering it with a piece of carpet
to conceal it from the prince's observation. Madame
alone did not ihove, and smiling at her husband, replied
to him, " Is not this the hour which you usually devote
to your toilet?"

''An hour which others select, it seems, for amusing
themselves,*' grumbled the prince.

This untoward remark was the signal for a general rout.
The women fled like a flock of frightened birds ; the guitar-
player vanished like a shadow. Malicome, still protected
by Montalais, who widened out her dress, glided behind
the hanging tapestry. As for Manicamp, he went to the
assistanoe of De Quichei who .naturally remained near

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Madame; and both of them, with the princess herself,
courageously sustained the attack. The count was too
happy to bear malice against the husband ; but Monsieur
bore a grudge against his wife. He had been wanting
a motive for a quarrel ; he sought it. And the hurried
departure of the crowd, which had been so merry before
he arrived, and was so disturbed by hiis entrance, furnished
him with a pretext.

^' Why do they take to flight at the sight of mel" he
inquired in a rough tone.

To this remark Madame replied coldly, " Whenever the
master of the house makes his appearance, the household
keep aloof out of respect."

As Madame said this, she made so funny and so pretty
a grimace that De Guiche and Manicamp could not con-
trol themselves ; they burst into a peal of laughter,
Madame followed their example ; and even Monsieur him-
self could not resist it, and was obliged to sit down, since
in laughing he had sacrificed his dignity. However, he
very soon left off; but his anger had increased. He was
still more furious at having allowed himself to laugh
than at having seen others laugh. He stared at Mani-
camp, not venturing to show his anger towards De
Guiche. But at a sign which displayed too great an
amount of annoyance, Manicamp and De Guiche left
the room; so that Madame, deserted, began sadly to
pick up her pearls, no longer laughing, and speaking
still less.

"I am very happy," said the duke, " to find myself
treated as a stranger here, Madame;" and he left the
room in a passion.

On his way out he met Montalais, who was in attend-
ance in the anteroom. "It is very agreeable to pay you
a visit here," said he, — " but outside the door."

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Montalais made a Tery low obeisaRce. " I do not quite
understand/' said she^ *' what joor rojal Highness doeQ
me the honor to say."

** I say, Mademoiselle, that when you are all laughing
together in Madame's apartment, he is an unwelcome
visitor who does not remain outside."

''Your royal Highness certainly does not think and
apeak so of yourself."

''On the contrary, Mademoiselle, it is on my own
account that I do speak and think. I have no reason,
certainly, to flatter myself on the reception I meet with
here. How is it that on the veiy day when there is music
and a little society in Madame's apartments, — in my own
apartments, indeed, for they are mine, — on the very day
when I wish to amuse myself a little in my turn, every one
runs away 1 Are they afraid to see me, that they all took
to flight as soon as I appeared ? Is there anything wrong,
then, going on in my absence ] "

"But," replied Montalais, "nothing has been done
to-day, Monseigneur, which is not done every day."

" What I do they laugh like that every day 1 "

" Why, yes, Monseigneur."

" Every day the same groups of people and the same
«trumming as just now 1 "

" The guitar, Monseigneur, was introduced to-day ; but
when we have no guitars, we have violins and flutes.
Women get wearied without music."

*'Peite! and the men!"

" What men, Monseigneur ! "

"M. de Guiche, M. de Manicamp, and the others.**

" They all belong to Monsoigneur's household."

" Yes, yes, you 're right. Mademoiselle," said the prince ;
and he returned to his own apartments^ full of thought.
He threw himself into the deepest of his arm-K)hairs, with-

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out looking at himself in the glass. <' Where can the
chevalier be t " said he.

One of the prince's attendants who happened to be near
him, overheard his remark, and replied, '* No one knows,

" Still th6 same answer ! The first one who answers
me again, *I do not know,* I will discharge/'

Every one at this remark hurried out of the apart-
ments, in the same manner as the others bad fled from
Madame's apartments. The prince then flew into the
wildest rage. He kicked over a chiffonnier, which tumbled
upon the floor, broken into pieces. He next went into
the galleries, and with the greatest coolness threw down»
one after another, an enamelled vase, a porphyry ewer^
and a bronze candelabra. All this made a frightful uoise^
and every one appeared in the various doorways.

"What is your Highness's pleasure?" hazarded the
captain of the Guards, timidly.

" I am treating myself to some music," replied Mon-
seigneur, gnashing his teeth.

The captain of the Guards desired his royal High-
nesses physician to be sent for. But before he came,
Malicome arrived, saying to the prince, " Monseigneur,
M. le Chevalier de Lorraine is here."

The duke looked at Malicome, and smiled graciously
at him, just as the chevalier entered*

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M. DB Lorraine's jbaloust.

The Due d'Orl^ns uttered a cry of delight on perceiving
the Chevalier de Lorraine. ^* This is fortunate, indeed I "
he said. '' By what happy chance do I see you t Had you
Indeed disappeared, as every one assured me t "

**Yes, Monseigneur."

** Some caprice 1 "

^'I to venture upon caprices with your Highness!
The respect — "

" Put respect out of the way, for yon fail in it every
day. I absolve you. But why did you go away) **

** Because I felt that I was of no use to you."

" Explahi yourself."

'*Your Highness has people about you who are far
more amusing than I can ever be. I felt that I was not
strong enough to enter into a contest with them, and I
therefore withdrew."

"This extreme diffidence shows a want of common
sense. Who are those with whom you cannot contend,
— Guichel"

" I name no one."

** This is absurd ! Does Guiche annoy you Y "

'^ I do not say that, Monseigneur. Do not force me to
•peak, however ; you know very well that De Guiche is
<me of our best friends."

** Who is it, then 1"

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'' Excuse me, Monseigneur ; let us say no more about
it, I beg of you." The chevalier knew perfectly well
that curiosity is excited in the same way as thirst, «— by
removing that which quenches it; or, in other words^
by delaying the explanation.

" No ; I wish to know why you went away."

"In that case, Monseigneur, I will tell you; but
do not be angry. I perceived that my presence was

" To whom 1 "

" To Madame."

'* What do you meant" said the duke, in astonishment.

" It is simple enough : Madame is very probably
jealous of the regard you are good enough to testify
for me."

" Has she shown it to you ? "

" Monseigneur, Madame never addresses a syllable to
me, — particularly since a certain time."

" Since what timet"

** Since the time when, M. de Guiche having made
himself more agreeable to her than I could, she receives
him at all hours."

The duke colored. " At all hours. Chevalier t What
do you mean by that t " said he, sternly*

" You see, Monseigneur, that I have displeased you ; I
was quite sure I should,"

" I am not displeased ; but you say things a little
strong. In what respect does Madame prefer De Guiche

'' I shall say no more," said the chevalier, with a
ceremonious bow.

"On the eontrary, I require you to speak. If you
withdraw on that account, you must indeed be very

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'* One canuot help being jealous, Monsdgueur, when
one loves. Is not your royal Highness jealous of Madame \
Would not your royal Highness, if you saw some one
always near Madame and always treated with great
favor, take umbrage at iti One's friends are as one's
lovers. Your royal Highness has sometimes conferred
upon me the distinguished honor of calling me your

** Yes, yes ; but here again is an equivocal expression.
Chevalier, you are unfortunate in your remarks."

" What expression, Monseigneur ? "

" You said, ' treated with great favor.' What do you
mean by * favor T'

** Nothing can be more simple, Monseigneur," said the
chevalier, with great frankness. " For instance, when a
husband remarks^ fhat his wife summons, from prefer-
ence, such and such a man near her ; when this man is
always to be found by her side or in attendance at the
door of her carriage ; when that man is always found
within reach of her hand ; when persons get together be-
yond the reach of general conversation; when the bou-
quet of the one is always of the same color as the ribbons
of tiie other ; when concerts and supper-parties are held in
the private apartments ; when a dead silence takes place
as soon as the husband makes his appearance in his wife's
rooms ; and when the husband suddenly finds that he
has as a companion the most devoted and the kindest of
men, who a week before was with him as little as pos-
sible, — why, then — "

« Well, finish ! "

"Why, then, I say, Monseigneur, one possibly may
get jealous. But all these details hardly apply ; for our
conversation had nothing to do with them."

The duke was evidently much agitated, and seemed

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contending with himself! ^* You have not told me," he
at last remarked, "why you absented yourself. A lit-
tle while ago you said it was from fear of intruding;
you added, even, that you had observed a disposition on
Madame's part to encourage De Quiche."

'* Ah, Monseigneur, I did not say that ! "

" You did, indeed."

''Well, if I did say so, I noticed nothing but what
was very inoffensive,"

" At all events, you remarked something."

''You embarrass me, Monseigneur."

^' What does that matter % Answer me ! If you speak
the truth, why should you feel embarrassed 1"

" I always speak the truth, Monseigneur ; but I also
always hesitate when it is a question of repeating what
others say."

'' Ah ! you are repeating % It appears that it is talked
about, then 1 "

" I acknowledge that others have spoken to me on the


The chevalier assumed almost an angry air as he
replied : " Monseigneur, you are subjecting me to an ex-
amination ; you treat me like a criminal at the bar. The
rumors which touch a gentleman's ears in passing do not
tarry there. Your Highness wishes me to magnify the
rumor until it attains the importance of an event."

" However," said the duke, in great displeasure, " the
&ct remains that you yourself withdrew on account of
this report."

" To speak the truth, others have talked to me of the
attentions of M. de Guiche to Madame, <— nothing more ;
perfectly harmless, I repeat, and, more than that, per-
missible. But do not be unjust, Monseigneur, and do

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not attach an undue importance to it. It does not
concern you."

'* Gosaip about M. de Quiche's attentions to Madame
does not concern mel"

" No, Monseigneur ; and what I say to you I would
say to De Quiche himself, so little do I think of the
court he pays Madame. Nay, I would say it even to
Madame herself. Ouly, you understand what I am afraid
of ; I am afraid of being thought jealous of the favor
shown, when I am ouly jealous so &r as friendship is
coDcemed. I know your disposition ; I know that when
you bestow your affections you become exclusively at-
tached. You love Madame, — and who, indeed, would
not love her) Follow me attentively as I proceed.
Madame has noticed among your friends the handsom-
est and most fascinating of them all ; she will begin to
influence you on his behalf in such a way that you will
neglect the others. Your indifference would kill me ; it
is already bad enough to have to endure that of Madame.
I have therefore made up my mind, Monseigneur, to
give way to the favorite whose happiness I envy, even
while I acknowledge my sincere friendship and sincere
admiration for him. Now, do you see anything to object
to in this reasoning 1 Is it not that of a man of honor 1
Is my conduct that of a sincere friend ? Answer me, at
least, after having so closely questioned me."

The duke had seated himself, with his head buried in
his hands and his hair dishevelled. After a silence long
enough to enable the chevalier to judge of the effect of
his oratorical display, Monseigneur rose, saying, '' Gome,
be candid."

"As I always am.''

" Very well. You know that we have already observed
something respecting that mad fellow, Buckingham."

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''Oh, do not say anything against Madame, Mon-
seigneur, or I shall take my leave. What ! do you go so
&r as to be suspicious of Madame 1 ^

*' Ko, no, Chevalier, I do not suspect Madame ; but,
in fact, I observe — I compare — **

''Buckingham was a madman, Monseigneur."

"A madman about whom, however, you opened my
eyes thoroughly."

** No, no," said the chevalier, quickly ; " it was not I
who opened your eyes, it was De Guiche. Do not
confound us, I beg ! " and he began to laugh so harshly
that it sounded like the hiss of an adder.

" Yes, yes ; I remember. You said a few words, but
De Guiche showed the most jealousy."

" I should think so," continued the chevalier, in the
same tone. "He was fighting for home and altar."

"What did you sayl" said the duke, haughtily,
thoroughly roused by this insidious jest.

"Am I not right, for is not M. de Guiche the fint
gentleman of your household 1 **

" Well," replied the duke, somewhat calmed, " had this
passion of Buckingham been remarked)"


"Very well. Do people say that M. de Guiche's is
remarked as much 1 "

"Pardon me, Monseigneur; you are again mistaken.
No one says that M. de Guiche entertaios anything of the

"Very good."

" You see, Monseigneur, that it would have been better,
a hundred times better, to have left me in my retirement,
than to have allowed yourself to conjure up, by the aid ci
any scruples which I may have had, suspicions which Ma-
dame will regard as crimes ; and she will be right too."

VOL. IT. —24

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** What would you do ! **

" Act reasonably."

" In what way 1 "

'' I should not pay the slightest attention to the society

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Online LibraryAlexandre DumasThe romances of Alexandre Dumas, Volume 10 → online text (page 1 of 21)