Louise de la Valliere
Showing the Advantage of Having Two Strings to One's Bow.
Manicamp quitted the king's apartment, delighted at having succeeded so well,
when, just as he reached the bottom of the staircase and was passing a
doorway, he felt that some one suddenly pulled him by the sleeve. He turned
round and recognized Montalais, who was waiting for him in the passage, and
who, in a very mysterious manner, with her body bent forward, and in a low tone
of voice, said to him, "Follow me, monsieur, and without any delay, if you
"Where to, mademoiselle?" inquired Manicamp.
"In the first place, a true knight would not have asked such a question, but would
have followed me without requiring any explanation."
"Well, mademoiselle, I am quite ready to conduct myself as a true knight."
"No; it is too late, and you cannot take the credit of it. We are going to Madame's
apartment, so come at once."
"Ah, ah!" said Manicamp. "Lead on, then."
And he followed Montalais, who ran before him as light as Galatea.
"This time," said Manicamp, as he followed his guide, "I do not think that stories
about hunting expeditions would be acceptable. We will try, however, and if need
be - well, if there should be any occasion for it, we must try something else."
Montalais still ran on.
"How fatiguing it is," thought Manicamp, "to have need of one's head and legs at
the same time."
At last, however, they arrived. Madame had just finished undressing, and was in
a most elegant deshabille, but it must be understood that she had changed her
dress before she had any idea of being subjected to the emotions now agitating
her. She was waiting with the most restless impatience; and Montalais and
Manicamp found her standing near the door. At the sound of their approaching
footsteps, Madame came forward to meet them.
"Ah!" she said, "at last!"
"Here is M. Manicamp," replied Montalais.
Manicamp bowed with the greatest respect; Madame signed to Montalais to
withdraw, and she immediately obeyed. Madame followed her with her eyes, in
silence, until the door closed behind her, and then, turning towards Manicamp,
said, "What is the matter? - and is it true, as I am told, Monsieur de Manicamp,
that some one is lying wounded in the chateau?"
"Yes, Madame, unfortunately so - Monsieur de Guiche."
"Yes, Monsieur de Guiche," repeated the princess. "I had, in fact, heard it
rumored, but not confirmed. And so, in truth, it is Monsieur de Guiche who has
been thus unfortunate?"
"M. de Guiche himself, Madame."
"Are you aware, M. de Manicamp," said the princes, hastily, "that the king has the
strongest antipathy to duels?"
"Perfectly so, Madame; but a duel with a wild beast is not answerable."