The Vicomte de Bragelonne
Alexandre Dumas, Pere
Part 1 out of 13
the writings of both the Alexandre Dumases for some time now,
and since we get a few questions about the order in which the
books should be read, and in which they were published, these
following comments should hopefully help most of our readers.
The Vicomte de Bragelonne is the final volume of D'Artagnan Romances:
it is usually split into three or four parts, and the final portion
is entitled The Man in the Iron Mask. The Man in the Iron Mask we're
familiar with today is the last volume of the four-volume edition.
[Not all the editions split them in the same manner, hence some of
the confusion. . .but wait. . .there's yet more reason for confusion.]
We intend to do ALL of The Vicomte de Bragelonne, split into four etexts
entitled The Vicomte de Bragelonne, Ten Years Later, Louise de la
Valliere, and The Man in the Iron Mask; you WILL be getting The Man in
the Iron Mask.
One thing that may be causing confusion is that the etext we have now,
entitled Ten Years Later, says it's the sequel to The Three Musketeers.
While this is technically true, there's another book, Twenty Years After,
that comes between. The confusion is generated by the two facts that we
published Ten Years Later BEFORE we published Twenty Years After, and
that many people see those titles as meaning Ten and Twenty Years "After"
the original story. . .however, this is why the different words "After"
and "Later". . .the Ten Years "After" is ten years after the Twenty Years
later. . .as per history. Also, the third book of the D'Artagnan
Romances, while entitled The Vicomte de Bragelonne, has the subtitle Ten
Years Later. These two titles are also given to different volumes: The
Vicomte de Bragelonne can refer to the whole book, or the first volume of
the three or four-volume editions. Ten Years Later can, similarly, refer
to the whole book, or the second volume of the four-volume edition. To
add to the confusion, in the case of our etexts, it refers to the first
104 chapters of the whole book, covering material in the first and second
etexts in the new series. Here is a guide to the series which may prove
The Three Musketeers: Etext 1257 - First book of the D'Artagnan Romances.
Covers the years 1625-1628.
Twenty Years After: Etext 1259 - Second book of the D'Artagnan Romances.
Covers the years 1648-1649.
[Third in the order that we published, but second in time sequence!!!]
Ten Years Later: Etext 1258 - First 104 chapters of the third book of the
Covers the years 1660-1661.
The Vicomte de Bragelonne: Etext 2609 (our new etext) - First 75 chapters
of the third book of the D'Artagnan Romances.
Covers the year 1660.
Ten Years Later: forthcoming (our next etext) - Chapters 76-140 of that
third book of the D'Artagnan Romances.
Covers the years 1660-1661.
[In this particular editing of it]
Louise de la Valliere: forthcoming (following) - Chapters 141-208 of the
third book of the D'Artagnan Romances.
Covers the year 1661.
The Man in the Iron Mask: forthcoming (completing) - Chapters 209-269 of
the third book of the D'Artagnan Romances.
Covers the years 1661-1673.
If we've calculated correctly, that fourth text SHOULD correspond to the
modern editions of The Man in the Iron Mask, which is still widely
circulated, and comprises about the last 1/4 of The Vicomte de Bragelonne.
Here is a list of the other Dumas Etexts we have published so far:
Sep 1999 La Tulipe Noire, by Alexandre Dumas[Pere#6/French][tlpnrxxx.xxx]1910
This is an abridged edition in French, also see our full length English Etext
Jul 1997 The Black Tulip, by Alexandre Dumas[Pere][Dumas#1][tbtlpxxx.xxx] 965
Jan 1998 The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas[Pere][crstoxxx.xxx]1184
Many thanks to Dr. David Coward, whose editions of the D'Artagnan
Romances have proved an invaluable source of information.
In the months of March-July in 1844, in the magazine Le Siecle, the first
portion of a story appeared, penned by the celebrated playwright
Alexandre Dumas. It was based, he claimed, on some manuscripts he had
found a year earlier in the Bibliotheque Nationale while researching a
history he planned to write on Louis XIV. They chronicled the adventures
of a young man named D'Artagnan who, upon entering Paris, became almost
immediately embroiled in court intrigues, international politics, and
ill-fated affairs between royal lovers. Over the next six years, readers
would enjoy the adventures of this youth and his three famous friends,
Porthos, Athos, and Aramis, as their exploits unraveled behind the scenes
of some of the most momentous events in French and even English history.
Eventually these serialized adventures were published in novel form, and
became the three D'Artagnan Romances known today. Here is a brief
summary of the first two novels:
The Three Musketeers (serialized March – July, 1844): The year is 1625.
The young D'Artagnan arrives in Paris at the tender age of 18, and almost
immediately offends three musketeers, Porthos, Aramis, and Athos.
Instead of dueling, the four are attacked by five of the Cardinal's
guards, and the courage of the youth is made apparent during the battle.
The four become fast friends, and, when asked by D'Artagnan's landlord to
find his missing wife, embark upon an adventure that takes them across
both France and England in order to thwart the plans of the Cardinal
Richelieu. Along the way, they encounter a beautiful young spy, named
simply Milady, who will stop at nothing to disgrace Queen Anne of Austria
before her husband, Louis XIII, and take her revenge upon the four
Twenty Years After (serialized January – August, 1845): The year is now
1648, twenty years since the close of the last story. Louis XIII has
died, as has Cardinal Richelieu, and while the crown of France may sit
upon the head of Anne of Austria as Regent for the young Louis XIV, the
real power resides with the Cardinal Mazarin, her secret husband.
D'Artagnan is now a lieutenant of musketeers, and his three friends have
retired to private life. Athos turned out to be a nobleman, the Comte de
la Fere, and has retired to his home with his son, Raoul de Bragelonne.
Aramis, whose real name is D'Herblay, has followed his intention of
shedding the musketeer's cassock for the priest's robes, and Porthos has
married a wealthy woman, who left him her fortune upon her death. But
trouble is stirring in both France and England. Cromwell menaces the
institution of royalty itself while marching against Charles I, and at
home the Fronde is threatening to tear France apart. D'Artagnan brings
his friends out of retirement to save the threatened English monarch, but
Mordaunt, the son of Milady, who seeks to avenge his mother's death at
the musketeers' hands, thwarts their valiant efforts. Undaunted, our
heroes return to France just in time to help save the young Louis XIV,
quiet the Fronde, and tweak the nose of Cardinal Mazarin.
The third novel, The Vicomte de Bragelonne (serialized October, 1847 –
January, 1850), has enjoyed a strange history in its English
translation. It has been split into three, four, or five volumes at
various points in its history. The five-volume edition generally does
not give titles to the smaller portions, but the others do. In the three-
volume edition, the novels are entitled The Vicomte de Bragelonne, Louise
de la Valliere, and The Man in the Iron Mask. For the purposes of this
etext, I have chosen to split the novel as the four-volume edition does,
with these titles: The Vicomte de Bragelonne, Ten Years Later, Louise de
la Valliere, and The Man in the Iron Mask. In this, the first of the
four etexts, the situation is thus:
It is now 1660, and although promised the captaincy of the musketeers at
the close of Twenty Years After, D'Artagnan is still trailing his sword
in the Louvre as a lowly lieutenant. Louis XIV is well past the age
where he should rule, but the ailing Cardinal Mazarin refuses to
relinquish the reins of power. Meanwhile, Charles II, a king without a
country, travels Europe seeking aid from his fellow monarchs. Athos
still resides at La Fere while his son, Raoul de Bragelonne, has entered
into the service in the household of M. le Prince. As for Raoul, he has
his eyes on an entirely different object than his father – his childhood
companion, Louise de la Valliere, with whom he is hopelessly in love.
Porthos, now a baron, is off on some mysterious mission along with
Aramis, who is now the Bishop of Vannes.
Now begins the first chapter of the last of the D'Artagnan Romances, The
Vicomte de Bragelonne. Enjoy!
The Vicomte de Bragelonne
by Alexandre Dumas
Towards the middle of the month of May, in the year 1660, at nine o'clock
in the morning, when the sun, already high in the heavens, was fast
absorbing the dew from the ramparts of the castle of Blois, a little
cavalcade, composed of three men and two pages, re-entered the city by
the bridge, without producing any other effect upon the passengers of the
quay beyond a first movement of the hand to the head, as a salute, and a
second movement of the tongue to express, in the purest French then
spoken in France: "There is Monsieur returning from hunting." And that
Whilst, however, the horses were climbing the steep acclivity which leads
from the river to the castle, several shop-boys approached the last
horse, from whose saddle-bow a number of birds were suspended by the beak.
On seeing this, the inquisitive youths manifested with rustic freedom
their contempt for such paltry sport, and, after a dissertation among
themselves upon the disadvantages of hawking, they returned to their
occupations; one only of the curious party, a stout, stubby, cheerful
lad, having demanded how it was that Monsieur, who, from his great
revenues, had it in his power to amuse himself so much better, could be
satisfied with such mean diversions.
"Do you not know," one of the standers-by replied, "that Monsieur's
principal amusement is to weary himself?"
The light-hearted boy shrugged his shoulders with a gesture which said
as clear as day: "In that case I would rather be plain Jack than a
prince." And all resumed their labors.
In the meanwhile, Monsieur continued his route with an air at once so
melancholy and so majestic, that he certainly would have attracted the
attention of spectators, if spectators there had been; but the good
citizens of Blois could not pardon Monsieur for having chosen their gay
city for an abode in which to indulge melancholy at his ease, and as
often as they caught a glimpse of the illustrious _ennuye_, they stole
away gaping, or drew back their heads into the interior of their
dwellings, to escape the soporific influence of that long pale face, of
those watery eyes, and that languid address; so that the worthy prince
was almost certain to find the streets deserted whenever he chanced to
pass through them.
Now, on the part of the citizens of Blois this was a culpable piece of
disrespect, for Monsieur was, after the king - nay, even perhaps, before
the king - the greatest noble of the kingdom. In fact, God, who had
granted to Louis XIV., then reigning, the honor of being son of
Louis XIII., had granted to Monsieur the honor of being son of Henry IV.
It was not then, or, at least, it ought not to have been, a trifling
source of pride for the city of Blois, that Gaston of Orleans had chosen
it as his residence, and held his court in the ancient Castle of the
But it was the destiny of this great prince to excite the attention and
admiration of the public in a very modified degree wherever he might be.
Monsieur had fallen into this situation by habit.
It was not, perhaps, this which gave him that air of listlessness.
Monsieur had already been tolerably busy in the course of his life. A
man cannot allow the heads of a dozen of his best friends to be cut off
without feeling a little excitement; and as, since the accession of
Mazarin to power, no heads had been cut off, Monsieur's occupation was
gone, and his _morale_ suffered from it.
The life of the poor prince was then very dull. After his little morning
hawking-party on the banks of the Beuvron, or in the woods of Cheverny,
Monsieur crossed the Loire, went to breakfast at Chambord, with or
without an appetite, and the city of Blois heard no more of its sovereign
lord and master till the next hawking-day.
So much for the ennui _extra muros_; of the ennui of the interior we will
give the reader an idea if he will with us follow the cavalcade to the
majestic porch of the Castle of the States.
Monsieur rode a little steady-paced horse, equipped with a large saddle
of red Flemish velvet, with stirrups in the shape of buskins; the horse
was of a bay color; Monsieur's pourpoint of crimson velvet corresponded
with the cloak of the same shade and the horse's equipment, and it was
only by this red appearance of the whole that the prince could be known
from his two companions, the one dressed in violet, the other in green.
He on the left, in violet, was his equerry; he on the right, in green,
was the grand veneur.
One of the pages carried two gerfalcons upon a perch, the other a
hunting-horn, which he blew with a careless note at twenty paces from the
castle. Every one about this listless prince did what he had to
At this signal, eight guards, who were lounging in the sun in the square
court, ran to their halberts, and Monsieur made his solemn entry into the
When he had disappeared under the shades of the porch, three or four
idlers, who had followed the cavalcade to the castle, after pointing out
the suspended birds to each other, dispersed with comments upon what they
saw: and, when they were gone, the street, the palace, and the court, all
remained deserted alike.
Monsieur dismounted without speaking a word, went straight to his
apartments, where his valet changed his dress, and as Madame had not yet
sent orders respecting breakfast, Monsieur stretched himself upon a
_chaise longue_, and was soon as fast asleep as if it had been eleven
o'clock at night.
The eight guards, who concluded their service for the day was over, laid
themselves down very comfortably in the sun upon some stone benches; the
grooms disappeared with their horses into the stables, and, with the
exception of a few joyous birds, startling each other with their sharp
chirping in the tufted shrubberies, it might have been thought that the
whole castle was as soundly asleep as Monsieur was.
All at once, in the midst of this delicious silence, there resounded a
clear ringing laugh, which caused several of the halberdiers in the
enjoyment of their _siesta_ to open at least one eye.
This burst of laughter proceeded from a window of the castle, visited at
this moment by the sun, that embraced it in one of those large angles
which the profiles of the chimneys mark out upon the walls before mid-day.
The little balcony of wrought iron which advanced in front of this
window was furnished with a pot of red gilliflowers, another pot of
primroses, and an early rose-tree, the foliage of which, beautifully
green, was variegated with numerous red specks announcing future roses.
In the chamber lighted by this window, was a square table, covered with
an old large-flowered Haarlem tapestry; in the center of this table was a
long-necked stone bottle, in which were irises and lilies of the valley;
at each end of this table was a young girl.
The position of these two young people was singular; they might have
been taken for two boarders escaped from a convent. One of them, with
both elbows on the table, and a pen in her hand, was tracing characters
upon a sheet of fine Dutch paper; the other, kneeling upon a chair, which
allowed her to advance her head and bust over the back of it to the
middle of the table, was watching her companion as she wrote, or rather
hesitated to write.
Thence the thousand cries, the thousand railleries, the thousand laughs,
one of which, more brilliant than the rest, had startled the birds in the
gardens, and disturbed the slumbers of Monsieur's guards.
We are taking portraits now; we shall be allowed, therefore, we hope,
to sketch the two last of this chapter.
The one who was leaning in the chair - that is to say, the joyous,
laughing one - was a beautiful girl of from eighteen to twenty, with
brown complexion and brown hair, splendid, from eyes which sparkled
beneath strongly-marked brows, and particularly from her teeth, which
seemed to shine like pearls between her red coral lips. Her every
movement seemed the accent of a sunny nature; she did not walk - she
The other, she who was writing, looked at her turbulent companion with an
eye as limpid, as pure, and as blue as the azure of the day. Her hair,
of a shaded fairness, arranged with exquisite taste, fell in silky curls
over her lovely mantling cheeks; she passed across the paper a delicate
hand, whose thinness announced her extreme youth. At each burst of
laughter that proceeded from her friend, she raised, as if annoyed, her
white shoulders in a poetical and mild manner, but they were wanting in
that richfulness of mold that was likewise to be wished in her arms and
"Montalais! Montalais!" said she at length, in a voice soft and
caressing as a melody, "you laugh too loud - you laugh like a man! You
will not only draw the attention of messieurs the guards, but you will
not hear Madame's bell when Madame rings."
This admonition neither made the young girl called Montalais cease to
laugh nor gesticulate. She only replied: "Louise, you do not speak as you
think, my dear; you know that messieurs the guards, as you call them,
have only just commenced their sleep, and that a cannon would not waken
them; you know that Madame's bell can be heard at the bridge of Blois,
and that consequently I shall hear it when my services are required by
Madame. What annoys you, my child, is that I laugh while you are
writing; and what you are afraid of is that Madame de Saint-Remy, your
mother, should come up here, as she does sometimes when we laugh too
loud, that she should surprise us, and that she should see that enormous
sheet of paper upon which, in a quarter of an hour, you have only traced
the words _Monsieur Raoul_. Now, you are right, my dear Louise, because
after these words, 'Monsieur Raoul', others may be put so significant and
incendiary as to cause Madame Saint-Remy to burst out into fire and
flames! _Hein!_ is not that true now? - say."
And Montalais redoubled her laughter and noisy provocations.
The fair girl at length became quite angry; she tore the sheet of paper
on which, in fact, the words "Monsieur Raoul" were written in good
characters; and crushing the paper in her trembling hands, she threw it
out of the window.
"There! there!" said Mademoiselle de Montalais; "there is our little
lamb, our gentle dove, angry! Don't be afraid, Louise - Madame de
Saint-Remy will not come; and if she should, you know I have a quick
ear. Besides, what can be more permissible than to write to an old
friend of twelve years' standing, particularly when the letter begins
with the words 'Monsieur Raoul'?"
"It is all very well - I will not write to him at all," said the young
"Ah, ah! in good sooth, Montalais is properly punished," cried the
jeering brunette, still laughing. "Come, come! let us try another sheet
of paper, and finish our dispatch off-hand. Good! there is the bell
ringing now. By my faith, so much the worse! Madame must wait, or else
do without her first maid of honor this morning."
A bell, in fact, did ring; it announced that Madame had finished her
toilette, and waited for Monsieur to give her his hand, and conduct her
from the _salon_ to the refectory.
This formality being accomplished with great ceremony, the husband and
wife breakfasted, and then separated till the hour of dinner, invariably
fixed at two o'clock.
The sound of this bell caused a door to be opened in the offices on the
left hand of the court, from which filed two _maitres d'hotel_ followed
by eight scullions bearing a kind of hand-barrow loaded with dishes under
One of the _maitres d'hotel_, the first in rank, touched one of the
guards, who was snoring on his bench, slightly with his wand; he even
carried his kindness so far as to place the halbert which stood against
the wall in the hands of the man stupid with sleep, after which the
soldier, without explanation, escorted the _viande_ of Monsieur to the
refectory, preceded by a page and the two _maitres d'hotel_.
Wherever the _viande_ passed, the soldiers ported arms.
Mademoiselle de Montalais and her companion had watched from their
window the details of this ceremony, to which, by the bye, they must have
been pretty well accustomed. But they did not look so much from
curiosity as to be assured they should not be disturbed. So, guards,
scullions, _maitres d'hotel_, and pages having passed, they resumed their
places at the table; and the sun, which, through the window-frame, had
for an instant fallen upon those two charming countenances, now only shed
its light upon the gilliflowers, primroses, and rose-tree.
"Bah!" said Mademoiselle de Montalais, taking her place again; "Madame
will breakfast very well without me!"
"Oh! Montalais, you will be punished!" replied the other girl, sitting
down quietly in hers.
"Punished, indeed! - that is to say, deprived of a ride! That is just
the way in which I wish to be punished. To go out in the grand coach,
perched upon a doorstep; to turn to the left, twist round to the right,
over roads full of ruts, where we cannot exceed a league in two hours;
and then to come back straight towards the wing of the castle in which is
the window of Mary de Medici, so that Madame never fails to say: 'Could
one believe it possible that Mary de Medici should have escaped from that
window - forty-seven feet high? The mother of two princes and three
princesses!' If you call that relaxation, Louise, all I ask is to be
punished every day; particularly when my punishment is to remain with you
and write such interesting letters as we write!"
"Montalais! Montalais! there are duties to be performed."
"You talk of them very much at your ease, dear child! - you, who are
left quite free amidst this tedious court. You are the only person that
reaps the advantages of them without incurring the trouble, - you, who
are really more one of Madame's maids of honor than I am, because Madame
makes her affection for your father-in-law glance off upon you; so that
you enter this dull house as the birds fly into yonder court, inhaling
the air, pecking the flowers, picking up the grain, without having the
least service to perform, or the least annoyance to undergo. And you
talk to me of duties to be performed! In sooth, my pretty idler, what
are your own proper duties, unless to write to the handsome Raoul? And
even that you don't do; so that it looks to me as if you likewise were
rather negligent of your duties!"
Louise assumed a serious air, leant her chin upon her hand, and, in a
tone full of candid remonstrance, "And do you reproach me with my good
fortune?" said she. "Can you have the heart to do it? You have a
future; you will belong to the court; the king, if he should marry, will
require Monsieur to be near his person; you will see splendid _fetes_,
you will see the king, who they say is so handsome, so agreeable!"
"Ay, and still more, I shall see Raoul, who attends upon M. le Prince,"
added Montalais, maliciously.
"Poor Raoul!" sighed Louise.
"Now is the time to write to him, my pretty dear! Come, begin again,
with that famous 'Monsieur Raoul' which figures at the top of the poor
She then held the pen toward her, and with a charming smile encouraged
her hand, which quickly traced the words she named.
"What next?" asked the younger of the two girls.
"Why, now write what you think, Louise," replied Montalais.
"Are you quite sure I think of anything?"
"You think of somebody, and that amounts to the same thing, or rather
"Do you think so, Montalais?"
"Louise, Louise, your blue eyes are as deep as the sea I saw at Boulogne
last year! No, no, I mistake - the sea is perfidious: your eyes are as
deep as the azure yonder - look! - over our heads!"
"Well, since you can read so well in my eyes, tell me what I am thinking
"In the first place, you don't think, _Monsieur Raoul_; you think, _My
"Oh! - "
"Never blush for such a trifle as that! 'My dear Raoul,' we will say -
'You implore me to write you at Paris, where you are detained by your
attendance on M. le Prince. As you must be very dull there, to seek for
amusement in the remembrance of a _provinciale_ - '"
Louise rose up suddenly. "No, Montalais," said she, with a smile; "I
don't think a word of that. Look, this is what I think;" and she seized
the pen boldly, and traced, with a firm hand, the following words:
"I should have been very unhappy if your entreaties to obtain a
remembrance of me had been less warm. Everything here reminds me of our
early days, which so quickly passed away, which so delightfully flew by,
that no others will ever replace the charm of them in my heart."
Montalais, who watched the flying pen, and read, the wrong way upwards,
as fast as her friend wrote, here interrupted by clapping her hands.
"Capital!" cried she; "there is frankness - there is heart - there is
style! Show these Parisians, my dear, that Blois is the city for fine
"He knows very well that Blois was a Paradise to me," replied the girl.
"That is exactly what you mean to say; and you speak like an angel."
"I will finish, Montalais," and she continued as follows: "You often
think of me, you say, Monsieur Raoul: I thank you; but that does not
surprise me, when I recollect how often our hearts have beaten close to
"Oh! oh!" said Montalais. "Beware, my lamb! You are scattering your
wool, and there are wolves about."
Louise was about to reply, when the gallop of a horse resounded under
the porch of the castle.
"What is that?" said Montalais, approaching the window. "A handsome
cavalier, by my faith!"
"Oh! - Raoul!" exclaimed Louise, who had made the same movement as her
friend, and, becoming pale as death, sunk back beside her unfinished
"Now, he is a clever lover, upon my word!" cried Montalais; "he arrives
just at the proper moment."
"Come in, come in, I implore you!" murmured Louise.
"Bah! he does not know me. Let me see what he has come here for."
Mademoiselle de Montalais was right; the young cavalier was goodly to
He was a young man of from twenty-four to twenty-five years of age, tall
and slender, wearing gracefully the picturesque military costume of the
period. His large boots contained a foot which Mademoiselle de Montalais
might not have disowned if she had been transformed into a man. With one
of his delicate but nervous hands he checked his horse in the middle of
the court, and with the other raised his hat, whose long plumes shaded
his at once serious and ingenuous countenance.
The guards, roused by the steps of the horse, awoke, and were on foot in
a minute. The young man waited till one of them was close to his
saddle-bow: then, stooping towards him, in a clear, distinct voice, which
was perfectly audible at the window where the two girls were concealed,
"A message for his royal highness," he said.
"Ah, ah!" cried the soldier. "Officer, a messenger!"
But this brave guard knew very well that no officer would appear, seeing
that the only one who could have appeared dwelt at the other side of the
castle, in an apartment looking into the gardens. So he hastened to add:
"The officer, monsieur, is on his rounds; but, in his absence, M. de
Saint-Remy, the _maitre d'hotel_, shall be informed."
"M. de Saint-Remy?" repeated the cavalier, slightly blushing.
"Do you know him?"
"Why, yes; but request him, if you please, that my visit be announced
to his royal highness as soon as possible."
"It appears to be pressing," said the guard, as if speaking to himself,
but really in the hope of obtaining an answer.
The messenger made an affirmative sign with his head.
"In that case," said the guard, "I will go and seek the _maitre
The young man, in the meantime, dismounted; and whilst the others were
making their remarks upon the fine horse the cavalier rode, the soldier
"Your pardon, young gentleman; but your name, if you please?"
"The Vicomte de Bragelonne, on the part of his highness M. le Prince de
The soldier made a profound bow, and, as if the name of the conqueror of
Rocroi and Lens had given him wings, he stepped lightly up the steps
leading to the ante-chamber.
M. de Bragelonne had not had time to fasten his horse to the iron bars of
the _perron_, when M. de Saint-Remy came running, out of breath,
supporting his capacious body with one hand, whilst with the other he cut
the air as a fisherman cleaves the waves with his oar.
"Ah, Monsieur le Vicomte! You at Blois!" cried he. "Well, that is a
wonder. Good-day to you - good-day, Monsieur Raoul."
"I offer you a thousand respects, M. de Saint-Remy."
"How Madame de la Vall - I mean, how delighted Madame de Saint-Remy will
be to see you! But come in. His royal highness is at breakfast - must
he be interrupted? Is the matter serious?"
"Yes, and no, Monsieur de Saint-Remy. A moment's delay, however, would
be disagreeable to his royal highness."
"If that is the case, we will force the _consigne_, Monsieur le Vicomte.
Come in. Besides, Monsieur is in an excellent humor to-day. And then
you bring news, do you not?"
"Great news, Monsieur de Saint-Remy.
"And good, I presume?"
"Come quickly, come quickly then!" cried the worthy man, putting his
dress to rights as he went along.
Raoul followed him, hat in hand, and a little disconcerted at the noise
made by his spurs in these immense _salons_.
As soon as he had disappeared in the interior of the palace, the window
of the court was repeopled, and an animated whispering betrayed the
emotion of the two girls. They soon appeared to have formed a
resolution, for one of the two faces disappeared from the window. This
was the brunette; the other remained behind the balcony, concealed by
the flowers, watching attentively through the branches the _perron_ by
which M. de Bragelonne had entered the castle.
In the meantime the object of so much laudable curiosity continued his
route, following the steps of the _maitre d'hotel_. The noise of quick
steps, an odor of wine and viands, a clinking of crystal and plates,
warned them that they were coming to the end of their course.
The pages, valets and officers, assembled in the office which led up to
the refectory, welcomed the newcomer with the proverbial politeness of
the country; some of them were acquainted with Raoul, and all knew that
he came from Paris. It might be said that his arrival for a moment
suspended the service. In fact, a page, who was pouring out wine for his
royal highness, on hearing the jingling of spurs in the next chamber,
turned round like a child, without perceiving that he was continuing to
pour out, not into the glass, but upon the tablecloth.
Madame, who was not so preoccupied as her glorious spouse was, remarked
this distraction of the page.
"Well?" exclaimed she.
"Well!" repeated Monsieur; "what is going on then?"
M. de Saint-Remy, who had just introduced his head through the doorway,
took advantage of the moment.
"Why am I to be disturbed?" said Gaston, helping himself to a thick slice
of one of the largest salmon that had ever ascended the Loire to be
captured between Paimboeuf and Saint-Nazaire.
"There is a messenger from Paris. Oh! but after monseigneur has
breakfasted will do; there is plenty of time."
"From Paris!" cried the prince, letting his fork fall. "A messenger
from Paris, do you say? And on whose part does this messenger come?"
"On the part of M. le Prince," said the _maitre d'hotel_ promptly.
Every one knows that the Prince de Conde was so called.
"A messenger from M. le Prince!" said Gaston, with an inquietude that
escaped none of the assistants, and consequently redoubled the general
Monsieur, perhaps, fancied himself brought back again to the happy times
when the opening of a door gave him an emotion, in which every letter
might contain a state secret, - in which every message was connected
with a dark and complicated intrigue. Perhaps, likewise, that great name
of M. le Prince expanded itself, beneath the roofs of Blois, to the
proportions of a phantom.
Monsieur pushed away his plate.
"Shall I tell the envoy to wait?" asked M. de Saint-Remy.
A glance from Madame emboldened Gaston, who replied: "No, no! let him
come in at once, on the contrary. _A propos_, who is he?"
"A gentleman of this country, M. le Vicomte de Bragelonne."
"Ah, very well! Introduce him, Saint-Remy - introduce him."
And when he had let fall these words, with his accustomed gravity,
Monsieur turned his eyes, in a certain manner, upon the people of his
suite, so that all, pages, officers, and equerries, quitted the service,
knives and goblets, and made towards the second chamber door a retreat as
rapid as it was disorderly.
This little army had dispersed in two files when Raoul de Bragelonne,
preceded by M. de Saint-Remy, entered the refectory.
The short interval of solitude which this retreat had left him, permitted
Monsieur the time to assume a diplomatic countenance. He did not turn
round, but waited till the _maitre d'hotel_ should bring the messenger
face to face with him.
Raoul stopped even with the lower end of the table, so as to be exactly
between Monsieur and Madame. From this place he made a profound bow to
Monsieur, and a very humble one to Madame; then, drawing himself up into
military pose, he waited for Monsieur to address him.
On his part the prince waited till the doors were hermetically closed; he
would not turn round to ascertain the fact, as that would have been
derogatory to his dignity, but he listened with all his ears for the
noise of the lock, which would promise him at least an appearance of
The doors being closed, Monsieur raised his eyes towards the vicomte, and
said, "It appears that you come from Paris, monsieur?"
"This minute, monseigneur."
"How is the king?"
"His majesty is in perfect health, monseigneur."
"And my sister-in-law?"
"Her majesty the queen-mother still suffers from the complaint in her
chest, but for the last month she has been rather better."
"Somebody told me you came on the part of M. le Prince. They must have
been mistaken, surely?"
"No, monseigneur; M. le Prince has charged me to convey this letter to
your royal highness, and I am to wait for an answer to it."
Raoul had been a little annoyed by this cold and cautious reception, and
his voice insensibly sank to a low key.
The prince forgot that he was the cause of this apparent mystery, and his
He received the letter from the Prince de Conde with a haggard look,
unsealed it as he would have unsealed a suspicious packet, and in order
to read it so that no one should remark the effects of it upon his
countenance, he turned round.
Madame followed, with an anxiety almost equal to that of the prince,
every maneuver of her august husband.
Raoul, impassible, and a little disengaged by the attention of his hosts,
looked from his place through the open window at the gardens and the
statues which peopled them.
"Well!" cried Monsieur, all at once, with a cheerful smile; "here is an
agreeable surprise, and a charming letter from M. le Prince. Look,
The table was too large to allow the arm of the prince to reach the hand
of Madame; Raoul sprang forward to be their intermediary, and did it
with so good a grace as to procure a flattering acknowledgement from the
"You know the contents of this letter, no doubt?" said Gaston to Raoul.
"Yes, monseigneur; M. le Prince at first gave me the message verbally,
but upon reflection his highness took up his pen."
"It is beautiful writing," said Madame, "but I cannot read it."
"Will you read it to Madame, M. de Bragelonne?" said the duke.
"Yes; read it, if you please, monsieur."
Raoul began to read, Monsieur giving again all his attention. The letter
was conceived in these terms:
"MONSEIGNEUR - The king is about to set out for the frontiers. You are
aware the marriage of his majesty is concluded upon. The king has done
me the honor to appoint me his _marechal-des-logis_ for this journey, and
as I knew with what joy his majesty would pass a day at Blois, I venture
to ask your royal highness's permission to mark the house you inhabit as
our quarters. If, however, the suddenness of this request should create
to your royal highness any embarrassment, I entreat you to say so by the
messenger I send, a gentleman of my suite, M. le Vicomte de Bragelonne.
My itinerary will depend on your royal highness's determination, and
instead of passing through Blois, we shall come through Vendome or
Romorantin. I venture to hope that your royal highness will be pleased
with my arrangement, it being the expression of my boundless desire to
make myself agreeable to you."
"Nothing can be more gracious toward us," said Madame, who had more than
once consulted the looks of her husband during the reading of the
letter. "The king here!" exclaimed she, in a rather louder tone than
would have been necessary to preserve secrecy.
"Monsieur," said his royal highness in his turn, "you will offer my
thanks to M. de Conde, and express to him my gratitude for the honor he
has done me." Raoul bowed.
"On what day will his majesty arrive?" continued the prince.
"The king, monseigneur, will in all probability arrive this evening."
"But how, then, could he have known my reply if it had been in the
"I was desired, monseigneur, to return in all haste to Beaugency, to give
counter-orders to the courier, who was himself to go back immediately
with counter-orders to M. le Prince."
"His majesty is at Orleans, then?"
"Much nearer, monseigneur; his majesty must by this time have arrived at
"Does the court accompany him?"
"_A propos_, I forgot to ask you after M. le Cardinal."
"His eminence appears to enjoy good health, monseigneur."
"His nieces accompany him, no doubt?"
"No, monseigneur; his eminence has ordered the Mesdemoiselles de Mancini
to set out for Brouage. They will follow the left bank of the Loire,
while the court will come by the right.
"What! Mademoiselle Mary de Mancini quit the court in that manner?"
asked Monsieur, his reserve beginning to diminish.
"Mademoiselle Mary de Mancini in particular," replied Raoul discreetly.
A fugitive smile, an imperceptible vestige of his ancient spirit of
intrigue, shot across the pale face of the prince.
"Thanks, M. de Bragelonne," then said Monsieur. "You would, perhaps, not
be willing to carry M. le Prince the commission with which I would charge
you, and that is, that his messenger has been very agreeable to me; but I
will tell him so myself."
Raoul bowed his thanks to Monsieur for the honor he had done him.
Monsieur made a sign to Madame, who struck a bell which was placed at her
right hand; M. de Saint-Remy entered, and the room was soon filled with
"Messieurs," said the prince, "his majesty is about to pay me the honor of
passing a day at Blois; I depend on the king, my nephew, not having to
repent of the favor he does my house."
"_Vive le Roi!_" cried all the officers of the household with frantic
enthusiasm, and M. de Saint-Remy louder than the rest.
Gaston hung down his head with evident chagrin. He had all his life been
obliged to hear, or rather to undergo, this cry of "_Vive le Roi!_" which
passed over him. For a long time, being unaccustomed to hear it, his ear
had had rest, and now a younger, more vivacious, and more brilliant
royalty rose up before him, like a new and more painful provocation.
Madame perfectly understood the sufferings of that timid, gloomy heart;
she rose from the table, Monsieur imitated her mechanically, and all the
domestics, with a buzzing like that of several bee-hives, surrounded
Raoul for the purpose of questioning him.
Madame saw this movement, and called M. de Saint-Remy.
"This is not the time for gossiping, but working," said she, with the
tone of an angry housekeeper.
M. de Saint-Remy hastened to break the circle formed by the officers
round Raoul, so that the latter was able to gain the ante-chamber.
"Care will be taken of that gentleman, I hope," added Madame, addressing
M. de Saint-Remy.
The worthy man immediately hastened after Raoul. "Madame desires
refreshments to be offered to you," said he; "and there is, besides, a
lodging for you in the castle."
"Thanks, M. de Saint-Remy," replied Raoul; "but you know how anxious I
must be to pay my duty to M. le Comte, my father."
"That is true, that is true, Monsieur Raoul; present him, at the same
time, my humble respects, if you please."
Raoul thus once more got rid of the old gentleman, and pursued his way.
As he was passing under the porch, leading his horse by the bridle, a
soft voice called him from the depths of an obscure path.
"Monsieur Raoul!" said the voice.
The young man turned round, surprised, and saw a dark complexioned girl,
who, with a finger on her lip, held out her other hand to him. This
young lady was an utter stranger.
Raoul made one step towards the girl who thus called him.
"But my horse, madame?" said he.
"Oh! you are terribly embarrassed! Go yonder way - there is a shed in
the outer court: fasten your horse, and return quickly!"
"I obey, madame."
Raoul was not four minutes in performing what he had been directed to do;
he returned to the little door, where, in the gloom, he found his
mysterious conductress waiting for him, on the first steps of a winding
"Are you brave enough to follow me, monsieur knight errant?" asked the
girl, laughing at the momentary hesitation Raoul had manifested.
The latter replied by springing up the dark staircase after her. They
thus climbed up three stories, he behind her, touching with his hands,
when he felt for the banister, a silk dress which rubbed against each
side of the staircase. At every false step made by Raoul, his
conductress cried, "Hush!" and held out to him a soft perfumed hand.
"One would mount thus to the belfry of the castle without being conscious
of fatigue," said Raoul.
"All of which means, monsieur, that you are very much perplexed, very
tired, and very uneasy. But be of good cheer, monsieur; here we are, at
The girl threw open a door, which immediately, without any transition,
filled with a flood of light the landing of the staircase, at the top of
which Raoul appeared, holding fast by the balustrade.
The girl continued to walk on - he followed her; she entered a chamber –
he did the same.
As soon as he was fairly in the net he heard a loud cry, and, turning
round, saw at two paces from him, with her hands clasped and her eyes
closed, that beautiful fair girl with blue eyes and white shoulders,
who, recognizing him, called him Raoul.
He saw her, and divined at once so much love and so much joy in the
expression of her countenance, the he sank on his knees in the middle of
the chamber, murmuring, on his part, the name of Louise.
"Ah! Montalais! - Montalais!" she sighed, "it is very wicked to deceive
"Who, I? I have deceived you?"
"Yes; you told me you would go down to inquire the news, and you have
brought up monsieur!"
"Well, I was obliged to do so - how else could he have received the
letter you wrote him?" And she pointed with her finger to the letter
which was still upon the table.
Raoul made a step to take it; Louise, more rapid, although she had sprung
forward with a sufficiently remarkable physical hesitation, reached out
her hand to stop him. Raoul came in contact with that trembling hand,
took it within his own, and carried it so respectfully to his lips, that
he might have been said to have deposited a sigh upon it rather than a
In the meantime, Mademoiselle de Montalais had taken the letter, folded
it carefully, as women do, in three folds, and slipped it into her bosom.
"Don't be afraid, Louise," said she; "monsieur will no more venture to
take it hence than the defunct king Louis XIII. ventured to take billets
from the corsage of Mademoiselle de Hautefort."
Raoul blushed at seeing the smile of the two girls; and he did not remark
that the hand of Louise remained in his.
"There!" said Montalais, "you have pardoned me, Louise, for having
brought monsieur to you; and you, monsieur, bear me no malice for having
followed me to see mademoiselle. Now, then, peace being made, let us
chat like old friends. Present me, Louise, to M. de Bragelonne."
"Monsieur le Vicomte," said Louise, with her quiet grace and ingenuous
smile, "I have the honor to present to you Mademoiselle Aure de
Montalais, maid of honor to her royal highness MADAME, and moreover my
friend - my excellent friend."
Raoul bowed ceremoniously.
"And me, Louise," said he - "will you not present me also to
"Oh, she knows you - she knows all!"
This unguarded expression made Montalais laugh and Raoul sigh with
happiness, for he interpreted it thus: "_She knows all our love_."
"The ceremonies being over, Monsieur le Vicomte," said Montalais, "take a
chair, and tell us quickly the news you bring flying thus."
"Mademoiselle, it is no longer a secret; the king, on his way to
Poitiers, will stop at Blois, to visit his royal highness."
"The king here!" exclaimed Montalais, clapping her hands. "What! are we
going to see the court? Only think, Louise - the real court from Paris!
Oh, good heavens! But when will this happen, monsieur?"
"Perhaps this evening, mademoiselle; at latest, to-morrow."
Montalais lifted her shoulders in a sigh of vexation.
"No time to get ready! No time to prepare a single dress! We are as far
behind the fashions as the Poles. We shall look like portraits from the
time of Henry IV. Ah, monsieur! this is sad news you bring us!"
"But, mesdemoiselles, you will be still beautiful!"
"That's no news! Yes, we shall always be beautiful, because nature has
made us passable; but we shall be ridiculous, because the fashion will
have forgotten us. Alas! ridiculous! I shall be thought ridiculous - I!"
"And by whom?" said Louise, innocently.
"By whom? You are a strange girl, my dear. Is that a question to put to
me? I mean everybody; I mean the courtiers, the nobles; I mean the king."
"Pardon me, my good friend; but as here every one is accustomed to see us
as we are - "
"Granted; but that is about to change, and we shall be ridiculous, even
for Blois; for close to us will be seen the fashions from Paris, and they
will perceive that we are in the fashion of Blois! It is enough to make
"Console yourself, mademoiselle."
"Well, so let it be! After all, so much the worse for those who do not
find me to their taste!" said Montalais, philosophically.
"They would be very difficult to please," replied Raoul, faithful to his
regular system of gallantry.
"Thank you, Monsieur le Vicomte. We were saying, then, that the king is
coming to Blois?"
"With all the court."
"Mesdemoiselles de Mancini, will they be with them?"
"No, certainly not."
"But as the king, it is said, cannot do without Mademoiselle Mary?"
"Mademoiselle, the king must do without her. M. le Cardinal will have it
so. He has exiled his nieces to Brouage."
"He! - the hypocrite!"
"Hush!" said Louise, pressing a finger on her friend's rosy lips.
"Bah! nobody can hear me. I say that old Mazarino Mazarini is a
hypocrite, who burns impatiently to make his niece Queen of France."
"That cannot be, mademoiselle, since M. le Cardinal, on the contrary, had
brought about the marriage of his majesty with the Infanta Maria Theresa."
Montalais looked Raoul full in the face, and said, "And do you Parisians
believe in these tales? Well! we are a little more knowing than you, at
"Mademoiselle, if the king goes beyond Poitiers and sets out for Spain;
if the articles of the marriage contract are agreed upon by Don Luis de
Haro and his eminence, you must plainly perceive that it is not child's
"All very fine! but the king is king, I suppose?"
"No doubt, mademoiselle; but the cardinal is the cardinal."
"The king is not a man, then! And he does not love Mary Mancini?"
"He adores her."
"Well, he will marry her then. We shall have war with Spain. M. Mazarin
will spend a few of the millions he has put away; our gentlemen will
perform prodigies of valor in their encounters with the proud Castilians,
and many of them will return crowned with laurels, to be recrowned by us
with myrtles. Now, that is my view of politics."
"Montalais, you are wild!" said Louise, "and every exaggeration attracts
you as light does a moth."
"Louise, you are so extremely reasonable, that you will never know how to
"Oh!" said Louise, in a tone of tender reproach, "don't you see,
Montalais? The queen-mother desires to marry her son to the Infanta;
would you wish him to disobey his mother? Is it for a royal heart like
his to set such a bad example? When parents forbid love, love must be
And Louise sighed: Raoul cast down his eyes, with an expression of
constraint. Montalais, on her part, laughed aloud.
"Well, I have no parents!" said she.
"You are acquainted, without doubt, with the state of health of M. le
Comte de la Fere?" said Louise, after breathing that sigh which had
revealed so many griefs in its eloquent utterance.
"No, mademoiselle," replied Raoul, "I have not let paid my respects to my
father; I was going to his house when Mademoiselle de Montalais so kindly
stopped me. I hope the comte is well. You have heard nothing to the
contrary, have you?"
"No, M. Raoul - nothing, thank God!"
Here, for several instants, ensued a silence, during which two spirits,
which followed the same idea, communicated perfectly, without even the
assistance of a single glance.
"Oh, heavens!" exclaimed Montalais in a fright; "there is somebody coming
"Who can it be?" said Louise, rising in great agitation.
"Mesdemoiselles, I inconvenience you very much. I have, without doubt,
been very indiscreet," stammered Raoul, very ill at ease.
"It is a heavy step," said Louise.
"Ah! if it is only M. Malicorne," added Montalais, "do not disturb
Louise and Raoul looked at each other to inquire who M. Malicorne could
"There is no occasion to mind him," continued Montalais; "he is not
"But, mademoiselle - "said Raoul.
"Yes, I understand. Well, he is discreet as I am."
"Good heavens!" cried Louise, who had applied her ear to the door, which
had been left ajar; "it is my mother's step!"
"Madame de Saint-Remy! Where shall I hide myself?" exclaimed Raoul,
catching at the dress of Montalais, who looked quite bewildered.
"Yes," said she; "yes, I know the clicking of those pattens! It is our
excellent mother. M. le Vicomte, what a pity it is the window looks upon
a stone pavement, and that fifty paces below it."
Raoul glanced at the balcony in despair. Louise seized his arm and held
"Oh, how silly I am!" said Montalais; "have I not the robe-of-ceremony
closet? It looks as if it were made on purpose."
It was quite time to act; Madame de Saint-Remy was coming up at a quicker
pace than usual. She gained the landing at the moment when Montalais, as
in all scenes of surprises, shut the closet by leaning with her back
against the door.
"Ah!" cried Madame de Saint-Remy, "you are here, are you, Louise?"
"Yes, madame," replied she, more pale than if she had committed a great
"Pray be seated, madame," said Montalais, offering her a chair, which she
placed so that the back was towards the closet.
"Thank you, Mademoiselle Aure - thank you. Come, my child, be quick."
"Where do you wish me to go, madame?"
"Why, home, to be sure; have you not to prepare your toilette?"
"What did you say?" cried Montalais, hastening to affect surprise, so
fearful was she that Louise would in some way commit herself.
"You don't know the news, then?" said Madame de Saint-Remy.
"What news, madame, is it possible for two girls to learn up in this
"What! have you seen nobody?"
"Madame, you talk in enigmas, and you torment us at a slow fire!" cried
Montalais, who, terrified at seeing Louise become paler and paler, did
not know to what saint to put up her vows.
At length she caught an eloquent look of her companion's, one of those
looks which would convey intelligence to a brick wall. Louise directed
her attention to a hat - Raoul's unlucky hat, which was set out in all
its feathery splendor upon the table.
Montalais sprang towards it, and, seizing it with her left hand, passed
it behind her into the right, concealing it as she was speaking.
"Well," said Madame de Saint-Remy, "a courier has arrived, announcing the
approach of the king. There, mesdemoiselles; there is something to make
you put on your best looks."
"Quick, quick!" cried Montalais. "Follow Madame your mother, Louise; and
leave me to get ready my dress of ceremony."
Louise arose; her mother took her by the hand, and led her out on to the
"Come along," said she; then adding in a low voice, "When I forbid you to
come the apartment of Montalais, why do you do so?"
"Madame, she is my friend. Besides, I had but just come."
"Did you see nobody concealed while you were there?"
"I saw a man's hat, I tell you - the hat of that fellow, that good-for-
"Madame!" repeated Louise.
"Of that do-nothing Malicorne! A maid of honor to have such company –
fie! fie!" and their voices were lost in the depths of the narrow
Montalais had not missed a word of this conversation, which echo conveyed
to her as if through a tunnel. She shrugged her shoulders on seeing
Raoul, who had listened likewise, issue from the closet.
"Poor Montalais!" said she, "the victim of friendship! Poor Malicorne,
the victim of love!"
She stopped on viewing the tragic-comic face of Raoul, who was vexed at
having, in one day, surprised so many secrets.
"Oh, mademoiselle!" said he; "how can we repay your kindness?"
"Oh, we will balance accounts some day," said she. "For the present,
begone, M. de Bragelonne, for Madame de Saint-Remy is not over indulgent;
and any indiscretion on her part might bring hither a domiciliary visit,
which would be disagreeable to all parties."
"But Louise - how shall I know - "
"Begone! begone! King Louis XI. knew very well what he was about when he
invented the post."
"Alas!" sighed Raoul.
"And am I not here - I, who am worth all the posts in the kingdom?
Quick, I say, to horse! so that if Madame de Saint-Remy should return for
the purpose of preaching me a lesson on morality, she may not find you
"She would tell my father, would she not?" murmured Raoul.
"And you would be scolded. Ah, vicomte, it is very plain you come from
court; you are as timid as the king. _Peste!_ at Blois we contrive
better than that, to do without papa's consent. Ask Malicorne else!"
And at these words the girl pushed Raoul out of the room by the
shoulders. He glided swiftly down to the porch, regained his horse,
mounted, and set off as if he had had Monsieur's guards at his heels.
Father and Son.
Raoul followed the well-known road, so dear to his memory, which led from
Blois to the residence of the Comte de la Fere.
The reader will dispense with a second description of that habitation:
he, perhaps, has been with us there before, and knows it. Only, since
our last journey thither, the walls had taken on a grayer tint, and the
brick-work assumed a more harmonious copper tone; the trees had grown,
and many that then only stretched their slender branches along the tops
of the hedges, now, bushy, strong, and luxuriant, cast around, beneath
boughs swollen with sap, great shadows of blossoms or fruit for the
benefit of the traveler.
Raoul perceived, from a distance, the two little turrets, the dove-cote
in the elms, and the flights of pigeons, which wheeled incessantly around
that brick cone, seemingly without power to quit it, like the sweet
memories which hover round a spirit at peace.
As he approached, he heard the noise of the pulleys which grated under
the weight of the heavy pails; he also fancied he heard the melancholy
moaning of the water which falls back again into the wells - a sad,
funereal, solemn sound, which strikes the ear of the child and the poet –
both dreamers - which the English call _splash_; Arabian poets
_gasgachau_; and which we Frenchmen, who would be poets, can only
translate by a paraphrase - _the noise of water falling into water_.
It was more than a year since Raoul had been to visit his father. He had
passed the whole time in the household of M. le Prince. In fact, after
all the commotions of the Fronde, of the early period of which we
formerly attempted to give a sketch, Louis de Conde had made a public,
solemn and frank reconciliation with the court. During all the time that
the rupture between the king and the prince had lasted, the prince, who
had long entertained a great regard for Bragelonne, had in vain offered
him advantages of the most dazzling kind for a young man. The Comte de
la Fere, still faithful to his principles of loyalty, and royalty, one
day developed before his son in the vaults of Saint Denis, - the Comte de
la Fere, in the name of his son, had always declined them. Moreover,
instead of following M. de Conde in his rebellion, the vicomte had
followed M. de Turenne, fighting for the king. Then when M. de Turenne,
in his turn, had appeared to abandon the royal cause, he had quitted M.
de Turenne, as he had quitted M. de Conde. It resulted from this
invariable line of conduct, that, as Conde and Turenne had never been
conquerors of each other but under the standard of the king, Raoul,
however young, had ten victories inscribed on his list of services, and
not one defeat from which his bravery or conscience had to suffer.
Raoul, therefore, had, in compliance with the wish of his father, served
obstinately and passively the fortunes of Louis XIV., in spite of the
tergiversations which were endemic, and, it might be said, inevitable,
at that period.
M. de Conde; on being restored to favor, had at once availed himself of
all the privileges of the amnesty to ask for many things back again which
had been granted to him before, and among others, Raoul. M. de la Fere,
with his invariable good sense, had immediately sent him again to the
A year, then, had passed away since the separation of the father and son;
a few letters had softened, but not removed, the pain of absence. We
have seen that Raoul had left at Blois another love in addition to filial
love. But let us do him this justice - if it had not been for chance and
Mademoiselle de Montalais, two great temptations, Raoul, after delivering
his message, would have galloped off towards his father's house, turning
his head round, perhaps, but without stopping for a single instant, even
if Louise had held out her arms to him.
So the first part of the journey was given by Raoul to regretting the
past which he had been forced to quit so quickly, that is to say, his
lady-love; and the other part to the friend he was about to join, so much
too slowly for his wishes.
Raoul found the garden-gate open, and rode straight in, without regarding
the long arms, raised in anger, of an old man dressed in a jacket of
violet-colored wool, and a large cap of faded velvet.
The old man, who was weeding with his hands a bed of dwarf roses and
arguerites, was indignant at seeing a horse thus traversing his sanded
and nicely-raked walks. He even ventured a vigorous "Humph!" which made
the cavalier turn round. Then there was a change of scene; for no sooner
had he caught sight of Raoul's face, than the old man sprang up and set
off in the direction of the house, amidst interrupted growlings, which
appeared to be paroxysms of wild delight.
When arrived at the stables, Raoul gave his horse to a little lackey, and
sprang up the _perron_ with an ardor that would have delighted the heart
of his father.
He crossed the ante-chamber, the dining-room, and the _salon_, without
meeting any one; at length, on reaching the door of M. de la Fere's
apartment, he rapped impatiently, and entered almost without waiting for
the word "Enter!" which was vouchsafed him by a voice at once sweet and
serious. The comte was seated at a table covered with papers and books;
he was still the noble, handsome gentleman of former days, but time had
given to this nobleness and beauty a more solemn and distinct character.
A brow white and void of wrinkles, beneath his long hair, now more white
than black; an eye piercing and mild, under the lids of a young man; his
mustache, fine but slightly grizzled, waved over lips of a pure and
delicate model, as if they had never been curled by mortal passions; a
form straight and supple; an irreproachable but thin hand - this was what
remained of the illustrious gentleman whom so many illustrious mouths had
praised under the name of Athos. He was engaged in correcting the pages
of a manuscript book, entirely filled by his own hand.
Raoul seized his father by the shoulders, by the neck, as he could, and
embraced him so tenderly and so rapidly, that the comte had neither
strength nor time to disengage himself, or to overcome his paternal
"What! you here, Raoul - you! Is it possible?" said he.
"Oh, monsieur, monsieur, what joy to see you once again!"
"But you don't answer me, vicomte. Have you leave of absence, or has
some misfortune happened at Paris?
"Thank God, monsieur," replied Raoul, calming himself by degrees,
"nothing has happened but what is fortunate. The king is going to be
married, as I had the honor of informing you in my last letter, and, on
his way to Spain, he will pass through Blois."
"To pay a visit to Monsieur?"
"Yes, monsieur le comte. So, fearing to find him unprepared, or wishing
to be particularly polite to him, monsieur le prince sent me forward to
have the lodgings ready."
"You have seen Monsieur?" asked the comte, eagerly.
"I have had that honor."
"At the castle?"
"Yes, monsieur," replied Raoul, casting down his eyes, because, no doubt,
he had felt there was something more than curiosity in the comte's
"Ah, indeed, vicomte? Accept my compliments thereupon."
"But you have seen some one else at Blois?"
"Monsieur, I saw her royal highness, Madame."
"That's very well: but it is not Madame that I mean."
Raoul colored deeply, but made no reply.
"You do not appear to understand me, monsieur le vicomte," persisted M.
de la Fere, without accenting his words more strongly, but with a rather
"I understand you quite plainly, monsieur," replied Raoul, "and if I
hesitate a little in my reply, you are well assured I am not seeking for
"No, you cannot tell a lie; and that makes me so astonished you should be
so long in saying yes or no."
"I cannot answer you without understanding you very well; and if I have
understood you, you will take my first words in ill part. You will
displeased, no doubt, monsieur le comte, because I have seen - "
"Mademoiselle de la Valliere - have you not?"
"It was of her you meant to speak, I know very well, monsieur," said
Raoul, with inexpressible sweetness.
"And I asked you if you have seen her."
"Monsieur, I was ignorant, when I entered the castle, that Mademoiselle
de la Valliere was there; it was only on my return, after I had performed
my mission, that chance brought us together. I have had the honor of
paying my respects to her."
"But what do you call the chance that led you into the presence of
Mademoiselle de la Valliere?"
"Mademoiselle de Montalais, monsieur."
"And who is Mademoiselle de Montalais?"
"A young lady I did not know before, whom I had never seen. She is maid
of honor to Madame."
"Monsieur le vicomte, I will push my interrogatory no further, and
reproach myself with having carried it so far. I had desired you to
avoid Mademoiselle de la Valliere, and not to see her without my
permission. Oh, I am quite sure you have told me the truth, and that you
took no measures to approach her. Chance has done me this injury; I do
not accuse you of it. I will be content, then, with what I formerly said
to you concerning this young lady. I do not reproach her with anything –
God is my witness! only it is not my intention or wish that you should
frequent her place of residence. I beg you once more, my dear Raoul,
to understand that."
It was plain the limpid eyes of Raoul were troubled at this speech.
"Now, my friend," said the comte, with his soft smile, and in his
customary tone, "let us talk of other matters. You are returning,
perhaps, to your duty?"
"No, monsieur, I have no duty for to-day, except the pleasure of
remaining with you. The prince kindly appointed me no other: which was
so much in accord with my wish."
"Is the king well?"
"And monsieur le prince also?"
"As usual, monsieur."
The comte forgot to inquire after Mazarin; that was an old habit.
"Well, Raoul, since you are entirely mine, I will give up my whole day to
you. Embrace me - again, again! You are at home, vicomte! Ah, there is
our old Grimaud! Come in, Grimaud: monsieur le vicomte is desirous of
embracing you likewise."
The good old man did not require to be twice told; he rushed in with open
arms, Raoul meeting him half-way.
"Now, if you please, we will go into the garden, Raoul. I will show you
the new lodging I have had prepared for you during your leave of absence;
and whilst examining the last winter's plantations, and two saddle-horses
I have just acquired, you will give me all the news of our friends in
The comte closed his manuscript, took the young man's arm, and went out
into the gardens with him.
Grimaud looked at Raoul with a melancholy air as the young man passed
out; observing that his head nearly touched the _traverse_ of the
doorway, stroking his white _royale_, he slowly murmured:-
"How he has grown!"
In which Something will be said of Cropoli - of Cropoli and of a Great
Whilst the Comte de la Fere with Raoul visits the new buildings he has
erected, and the new horses he has bought, with the reader's permission
we will lead him back to the city of Blois, and make him a witness of
the unaccustomed activity which pervades that city.
It was in the hotels that the surprise of the news brought by Raoul was
most sensibly felt.
In fact, the king and the court at Blois, that is to say, a hundred
horsemen, ten carriages, two hundred horses, as many lackeys as masters –
where was this crowd to be housed? Where were to be lodged all the
gentry of the neighborhood, who would gather in two or three hours after
the news had enlarged the circle of its report, like the increasing
circumferences produced by a stone thrown into a placid lake?
Blois, as peaceful in the morning, as we have seen, as the calmest lake
in the world, at the announcement of the royal arrival, was suddenly
filled with the tumult and buzzing of a swarm of bees.
All the servants of the castle, under the inspection of the officers,
were sent into the city in quest of provisions, and ten horsemen were
dispatched to the preserves of Chambord to seek for game, to the
fisheries of Beuvron for fish, and to the gardens of Cheverny for fruits
Precious tapestries, and lusters with great gilt chains, were drawn from
the cupboards; an army of the poor were engaged in sweeping the courts
and washing the stone fronts, whilst their wives went in droves to the
meadows beyond the Loire, to gather green boughs and field-flowers. The
whole city, not to be behind in this luxury of cleanliness, assumed its
best toilette with the help of brushes, brooms, and water. The gutters of
the upper town, swollen by these continued ablutions, became rivers at
the bottom of the city, and the pavement, generally very muddy, it must
be allowed, took a clean face, and absolutely shone in the friendly rays
of the sun.
Next the music was to be provided; drawers were emptied; the shop-keepers
did a glorious trade in wax, ribbons, and sword-knots; housekeepers laid
in stores of bread, meat, and spices. Already numbers of the citizens
whose houses were furnished as if for a siege, having nothing more to do,
donned their festive clothes, and directed their course towards the city
gate, in order to be the first to signal or see the _cortege_. They knew
very well that the king would not arrive before night, perhaps not before
the next morning. Yet what is expectation but a kind of folly, and what
is that folly but an excess of hope?
In the lower city, at scarcely a hundred paces from the Castle of the
States, between the mall and the castle, in a sufficiently handsome street,
then called the Rue Vieille, and which must, in fact, have been very old,
stood a venerable edifice, with pointed gables, of squat but large
dimensions, ornamented with three windows looking into the street on the
first floor, with two in the second, and with a little _oeil de boeuf_ in
On the sides of this triangle had recently been constructed a
parallelogram of considerable size, which encroached upon the street
remorselessly, according to the familiar uses of the building of that
period. The street was narrowed by a quarter by it, but then the house
was enlarged by a half; and was not that a sufficient compensation?
Tradition said that this house with the pointed gables was inhabited, in
the time of Henry III., by a councilor of state whom Queen Catherine
came, some say to visit, and others to strangle. However that may be,
the good lady must have stepped with a circumspect foot over the
threshold of this building.
After the councilor had died - whether by strangulation or naturally is
of no consequence - the house had been sold, then abandoned, and lastly
isolated from the other houses of the street. Towards the middle of the
reign of Louis XIII. only, an Italian named Cropoli, escaped from the
kitchens of the Marechal d'Ancre, came and took possession of this
house. There he established a little hostelry, in which was fabricated a
macaroni so delicious that people came from miles round to fetch it or
So famous had the house become for it, that when Mary de Medici was a
prisoner, as we know, in the castle of Blois, she once sent for some.
It was precisely on the day she had escaped by the famous window. The
dish of macaroni was left upon the table, only just tasted by the royal
This double favor, of a strangulation and a macaroni, conferred upon the
triangular house, gave poor Cropoli a fancy to grace his hostelry with a
pompous title. But his quality of an Italian was no recommendation in
these times, and his small, well-concealed fortune forbade attracting too
When he found himself about to die, which happened in 1643, just after
the death of Louis XIII., he called to him his son, a young cook of great
promise, and with tears in his eyes, he recommended him to preserve
carefully the secret of the macaroni, to Frenchify his name, and at
length, when the political horizon should be cleared from the clouds
which obscured it - this was practiced then as in our day, to order of
the nearest smith a handsome sign, upon which a famous painter, whom he
named, should design two queens' portraits, with these words as a legend:
"TO THE MEDICI."
The worthy Cropoli, after these recommendations, had only sufficient time
to point out to his young successor a chimney, under the slab of which he
had hidden a thousand ten-franc pieces, and then expired.
Cropoli the younger, like a man of good heart, supported the loss with
resignation, and the gain without insolence. He began by accustoming the
public to sound the final i of his name so little, that by the aid of
general complaisance, he was soon called nothing but M. Cropole, which is
quite a French name. He then married, having had in his eye a little
French girl, from whose parents he extorted a reasonable dowry by showing
them what there was beneath the slab of the chimney.
These two points accomplished, he went in search of the painter who was
to paint the sign; and he was soon found. He was an old Italian, a rival
of the Raphaels and the Caracci, but an unfortunate rival. He said he
was of the Venetian school, doubtless from his fondness for color. His
works, of which he had never sold one, attracted the eye at a distance of
a hundred paces; but they so formidably displeased the citizens, that he
had finished by painting no more.
He boasted of having painted a bath-room for Madame la Marechale d'Ancre,
and mourned over this chamber having been burnt at the time of the
Cropoli, in his character of a compatriot, was indulgent towards
Pittrino, which was the name of the artist. Perhaps he had seen the
famous pictures of the bath-room. Be this as it may, he held in such
esteem, we may say in such friendship, the famous Pittrino, that he took
him in his own house.
Pittrino, grateful, and fed with macaroni, set about propagating the
reputation of this national dish, and from the time of its founder, he
had rendered, with his indefatigable tongue, signal services to the house
As he grew old he attached himself to the son as he had done to the
father, and by degrees became a kind of over-looker of a house in which
his remarkable integrity, his acknowledged sobriety, and a thousand other
virtues useless to enumerate, gave him an eternal place by the fireside,
with a right of inspection over the domestics. Besides this, it was he
who tasted the macaroni, to maintain the pure flavor of the ancient
tradition; and it must be allowed that he never permitted a grain of
pepper too much, or an atom of parmesan too little. His joy was at its
height on that day when called upon to share the secret of Cropoli the
younger, and to paint the famous sign.
He was seen at once rummaging with ardor in an old box, in which he found
some brushes, a little gnawed by the rats, but still passable; some
linseed-oil in a bottle, and a palette which had formerly belonged to
Bronzino, that _dieu de la pittoure_, as the ultramontane artist, in his
ever young enthusiasm, always called him.
Pittrino was puffed up with all the joy of a rehabilitation.
He did as Raphael had done- he changed his style, and painted, in the
fashion of Albani, two goddesses rather than two queens. These
illustrious ladies appeared so lovely on the sign, - they presented to
the astonished eyes such an assemblage of lilies and roses, the
enchanting result of the changes of style in Pittrino - they assumed the
_poses_ of sirens so Anacreontically - that the principal _echevin_, when
admitted to view this capital piece in the _salle_ of Cropole, at once
declared that these ladies were too handsome, of too animated a beauty,
to figure as a sign in the eyes of passers-by.
To Pittrino he added, "His royal highness, Monsieur, who often comes into
our city, will not be much pleased to see his illustrious mother so
slightly clothed, and he will send you to the _oubliettes_ of the state;
for, remember, the heart of that glorious prince is not always tender.
You must efface either the two sirens or the legend, without which I
forbid the exhibition of the sign. I say this for your sake, Master
Cropole, as well for yours, Signor Pittrino."
What answer could be made to this? It was necessary to thank the
_echevin_ for his kindness, which Cropole did. But Pittrino remained
downcast and said he felt assured of what was about to happen.
The visitor was scarcely gone when Cropole, crossing his arms, said:
"Well, master, what is to be done?"
"We must efface the legend," said Pittrino, in a melancholy tone. "I
have some excellent ivory-black; it will be done in a moment, and we
will replace the Medici by the nymphs or the sirens, whichever you
"No," said Cropole, "the will of my father must be carried out. My
father considered - "
"He considered the figures of the most importance," said Pittrino.
"He thought most of the legend," said Cropole.
"The proof of the importance in which he held the figures," said
Pittrino, "is that he desired they should be likenesses, and they are so."
"Yes; but if they had not been so, who would have recognized them without
the legend? At the present day even, when the memory of the Blaisois
begins to be faint with regard to these two celebrated persons, who would
recognize Catherine and Mary without the words '_To the Medici_'?"
"But the figures?" said Pittrino, in despair; for he felt that young
Cropole was right. "I should not like to lose the fruit of my labor."
"And I should not wish you to be thrown into prison, and myself into the
"Let us efface 'Medici'," said Pittrino, supplicatingly.
"No," replied Cropole, firmly. "I have got an idea, a sublime idea –
your picture shall appear, and my legend likewise. Does not 'Medici'
mean doctor, or physician, in Italian?"
"Yes, in the plural."
"Well, then, you shall order another sign-frame of the smith; you shall
paint six physicians, and write underneath '_Aux Medici_' which makes a
very pretty play upon words."
"Six physicians! impossible! And the composition?" cried Pittrino.
"That is your business - but so it shall be - I insist upon it - it must
be so - my macaroni is burning."
This reasoning was peremptory - Pittrino obeyed. He composed the sign of
six physicians, with the legend; the _echevin_ applauded and authorized
The sign produced an extravagant success in the city, which proves that
poetry has always been in the wrong, before citizens, as Pittrino said.
Cropole, to make amends to his painter-in-ordinary, hung up the nymphs of
the preceding sign in his bedroom, which made Madame Cropole blush every
time she looked at it, when she was undressing at night.
This is the way in which the pointed-gable house got a sign; and this is
how the hostelry of the Medici, making a fortune, was found to be
enlarged by a quarter, as we have described. And this is how there was
at Blois a hostelry of that name, and had for a painter-in-ordinary
Thus founded and recommended by its sign, the hostelry of Master Cropole
held its way steadily on towards a solid prosperity.
It was not an immense fortune that Cropole had in perspective; but he
might hope to double the thousand louis d'or left by his father, to make
another thousand louis by the sale of his house and stock, and at length
to live happily like a retired citizen.
Cropole was anxious for gain, and was half-crazy with joy at the news of
the arrival of Louis XIV.
Himself, his wife, Pittrino, and two cooks, immediately laid hands upon
all the inhabitants of the dove-cote, the poultry-yard, and the
rabbit-hutches; so that as many lamentations and cries resounded in the
yards of the hostelry of the Medici as were formerly heard in Rama.
Cropole had, at the time, but one single traveler in his house.
This was a man of scarcely thirty years of age, handsome, tall, austere,
or rather melancholy, in all his gestures and looks.
He was dressed in black velvet with jet trimmings; a white collar, as
plain as that of the severest Puritan, set off the whiteness of his
youthful neck; a small dark-colored mustache scarcely covered his curled,
He spoke to people looking them full in the face, without affectation,
it is true, but without scruple; so that the brilliancy of his black eyes
became so insupportable, that more than one look had sunk beneath his,
like the weaker sword in a single combat.
At this time, in which men, all created equal by God, were divided,
thanks to prejudices, into two distinct castes, the gentlemen and the
commoner, as they are really divided into two races, the black and the
white, - at this time, we say, he whose portrait we have just sketched
could not fail of being taken for a gentleman, and of the best class.
To ascertain this, there was no necessity to consult anything but his
hands, long, slender, and white, of which every muscle, every vein,
became apparent through the skin at the least movement, and eloquently
spoke of good descent.
This gentleman, then, had arrived alone at Cropole's house. He had
taken, without hesitation, without reflection even, the principal
apartment which the _hotelier_ had pointed out to him with a rapacious
aim, very praiseworthy, some will say, very reprehensible will say
others, if they admit that Cropole was a physiognomist, and judged people
at first sight.
This apartment was that which composed the whole front of the ancient
triangular house; a large _salon_, lighted by two windows on the first
stage, a small chamber by the side of it, and another above it.
Now, from the time he had arrived, this gentleman had scarcely touched
any repast that had been served up to him in his chamber. He had spoken
but two words to the host, to warn him that a traveler of the name of
Parry would arrive, and to desire that, when he did, he should be shown
up to him immediately.
He afterwards preserved so profound a silence, that Cropole was almost
offended, so much did he prefer people who were good company.
This gentleman had risen early the morning of the day on which this
history begins, and had placed himself at the window of his _salon_,
seated upon the ledge, and leaning upon the rail of the balcony, gazing
sadly but persistently on both sides of the street, watching, no doubt,
for the arrival of the traveler he had mentioned to the host.
In this way he had seen the little _cortege_ of Monsieur return from
hunting, then had again partaken of the profound tranquillity of the
street, absorbed in his own expectations.
All at once the movement of the crowd going to the meadows, couriers
setting out, washers of pavement, purveyors of the royal household,
gabbling, scampering shop-boys, chariots in motion, hair-dressers on the
run, and pages toiling along, this tumult and bustle had surprised him,
but without losing any of that impassible and supreme majesty which gives
to the eagle and the lion that serene and contemptuous glance amidst the
hurrahs and shouts of hunters or the curious.
Soon the cries of the victims slaughtered in the poultry-yard, the hasty
steps of Madame Cropole up that little wooden staircase, so narrow and so
echoing; the bounding pace of Pittrino, who only that morning was smoking
at the door with all the phlegm of a Dutchman; all this communicated
something like surprise and agitation to the traveler.
As he was rising to make inquiries, the door of his chamber opened. The
unknown concluded they were about to introduce the impatiently expected
traveler, and made three precipitate steps to meet him.
But, instead of the person he expected, it was Master Cropole who
appeared, and behind him, in the half-dark staircase, the pleasant face
of Madame Cropole‚ rendered trivial by curiosity. She only gave one
furtive glance at the handsome gentleman, and disappeared.
Cropole advanced, cap in hand, rather bent than bowing.
A gesture of the unknown interrogated him, without a word being
"Monsieur," said Cropole‚ "I come to ask how - what ought I to say: your
lordship, monsieur le comte, or monsieur le marquis?"
"Say _monsieur_, and speak quickly," replied the unknown, with that
haughty accent which admits of neither discussion nor reply.
"I came, then, to inquire how monsieur had passed the night, and if
monsieur intended to keep this apartment?"
"Monsieur, something has happened upon which we could not reckon."
"His majesty Louis XIV. will enter our city to-day, and will remain here
one day, perhaps two."
Great astonishment was painted on the countenance of the unknown.
"The King of France is coming to Blois?"
"He is on the road, monsieur."
"Then there is the stronger reason for my remaining," said the unknown.
"Very well; but will monsieur keep all the apartments?"
"I do not understand you. Why should I require less to-day than
"Because, monsieur, your lordship will permit me to say, yesterday I did
not think proper, when you chose your lodging, to fix any price that
might have made your lordship believe that I prejudged your resources;
whilst to-day - "
The unknown colored; the idea at once struck him that he was supposed to
be poor, and was being insulted.
"Whilst to-day," replied he, coldly, "you do not prejudge."
"Monsieur, I am a well-meaning man, thank God! and simple _hotelier_ as I
am, there is in me the blood of a gentleman. My father was a servant and
officer of the late Marechal d'Ancre. God rest his soul!"
"I do not contest that point with you; I only wish to know, and that
quickly, to what your questions tend?"
"You are too reasonable, monsieur, not to comprehend that our city is
small, that the court is about to invade it, that the houses will be
overflowing with inhabitants, and that lodgings will consequently obtain
Again the unknown colored. "Name your terms," said he.
"I name them with scruple, monsieur, because I seek an honest gain, and
that I wish to carry on my business without being uncivil or extravagant
in my demands. Now the room you occupy is considerable, and you are
"That is my business."
"Oh! certainly. I do not mean to turn monsieur out."
The blood rushed to the temples of the unknown; he darted at poor
Cropole‚ the descendant of one of the officers of the Marechal d'Ancre, a
glance that would have crushed him down to beneath that famous chimney-
slab, if Cropole had not been nailed to the spot by the question of his
own proper interests.
"Do you desire me to go?" said he. "Explain yourself - but quickly."
"Monsieur, monsieur, you do not understand me. It is very critical - I
know - that which I am doing. I express myself badly, or perhaps, as
monsieur is a foreigner, which I perceive by his accent - "
In fact, the unknown spoke with that impetuosity which is the principal
character of English accentuation, even among men who speak the French
language with the greatest purity.
"As monsieur is a foreigner, I say, it is perhaps he who does not catch
my exact meaning. I wish for monsieur to give up one or two of the
apartments he occupies, which would diminish his expenses and ease my
conscience. Indeed, it is hard to increase unreasonably the price of the
chambers, when one has had the honor to let them at a reasonable price."
"How much does the hire amount to since yesterday?"
"Monsieur, to one louis, with refreshments and the charge for the horse."
"Very well; and that of to-day?"
"Ah! there is the difficulty. This is the day of the king's arrival; if
the court comes to sleep here, the charge of the day is reckoned. From
that it results that three chambers, at two louis each, make six louis.
Two louis, monsieur, are not much; but six louis make a great deal."
The unknown, from red, as we have seen him, became very pale.
He drew from his pocket, with heroic bravery, a purse embroidered with a
coat-of-arms, which he carefully concealed in the hollow of his hand.
This purse was of a thinness, a flabbiness, a hollowness, which did not
escape the eye of Cropole.
The unknown emptied the purse into his hand. It contained three double
louis, which amounted to the six louis demanded by the host.
But it was seven that Cropole had required.
He looked, therefore, at the unknown, as much as to say, "And then?"
"There remains one louis, does there not, master hotelier?"
"Yes, monsieur, but - "
The unknown plunged his hand into the pocket of his _haut-de-chausses_,
and emptied it. It contained a small pocket-book, a gold key, and some
silver. With this change, he made up a louis.
"Thank you, monsieur," said Cropole. "It now only remains for me to ask
whether monsieur intends to occupy his apartments to-morrow, in which
case I will reserve them for him; whereas, if monsieur does not mean to
do so, I will promise them to some of the king's people who are coming."
"That is but right," said the unknown, after a long silence; "but as I
have no more money, as you have seen, and as I yet must retain the
apartments, you must either sell this diamond in the city, or hold it
Cropole looked at the diamond so long, that the unknown said, hastily:
"I prefer your selling it, monsieur; for it is worth three hundred
pistoles. A Jew - are there any Jews in Blois? - would give you two
hundred or a hundred and fifty for it - take whatever may be offered for
it, if it be no more than the price of your lodging. Begone!"
"Oh! monsieur," replied Cropole‚ ashamed of the sudden inferiority which
the unknown reflected upon him by this noble and disinterested
confidence, as well as by the unalterable patience opposed to so many
suspicions and evasions. "Oh, monsieur, I hope people are not so
dishonest at Blois as you seem to think; and that the diamond, being
worth what you say - "
The unknown here again darted at Cropole one of his withering glances.
"I really do not understand diamonds, monsieur, I assure you," cried he.
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