Louise de la Valliere
Wherein D'Artagnan Perceives that It Was He Who Was Mistaken, and
Manicamp Who Was Right.
The king, determined to be satisfied that no one was listening, went himself to
the door, and then returned precipitately and placed himself opposite Manicamp.
"And now we are alone, Monsieur de Manicamp, explain yourself."
"With the greatest frankness, sire," replied the young man.
"And in the first place, pray understand," added the king, "that there is nothing to
which I personally attach a greater importance than the honor of any lady."
"That is the very reason, sire, why I endeavored to study your delicacy of
sentiment and feeling."
"Yes, I understand it all now. You say that it was one of the maids of honor of my
sister-in-law who was the subject of dispute, and that the person in question, De
Guiche's adversary, the man, in point of fact, whom you will not name - "
"But whom M. de Saint-Aignan will name, monsieur."
"Yes, you say, however, that this man insulted some one belonging to the
household of Madame."
"Yes, sire. Mademoiselle de la Valliere."
"Ah!" said the king, as if he had expected the name, and yet as if its
announcement had caused him a sudden pang; "ah! it was Mademoiselle de la
Valliere who was insulted."
"I do not say precisely that she was insulted, sire."
"But at all events - "
"I merely say that she was spoken of in terms far enough from respectful."
"A man dares to speak in disrespectful terms of Mademoiselle de la Valliere, and
yet you refuse to tell me the name of the insulter?"
"Sire, I thought it was quite understood that your majesty had abandoned the
idea of making me denounce him."
"Perfectly true, monsieur," returned the king, controlling his anger; "besides, I
shall know in good time the name of this man whom I shall feel it my duty to
Manicamp perceived that they had returned to the question again. As for the
king, he saw he had allowed himself to be hurried away a little too far, and
therefore continued: - "And I will punish him - not because there is any question
of Mademoiselle de la Valliere, although I esteem her very highly - but because a
lady was the object of the quarrel. And I intend that ladies shall be respected at
my court, and that quarrels shall be put a stop to altogether."
"And now, Monsieur de Manicamp," continued the king, "what was said about
Mademoiselle de la Valliere?"
"Cannot your majesty guess?"
"Your majesty can imagine the character of the jest in which young men permit
themselves to indulge."