Louise de la Valliere
La Valliere very soon recovered from her surprise, for, owing to his respectful
bearing, the king inspired her with more confidence by his presence than his
sudden appearance had deprived her of. But, as he noticed that which made La
Valliere most uneasy was the means by which he had effected an entrance into
her room, he explained to her the system of the staircase concealed by the
screen, and strongly disavowed the notion of his being a supernatural
"Oh, sire!" said La Valliere, shaking her fair head with a most engaging smile,
"present or absent, you do not appear to my mind more at one time than at
"Which means, Louise - "
"Oh, what you know so well, sire; that there is not one moment in which the poor
girl whose secret you surprised at Fontainebleau, and whom you came to snatch
from the foot of the cross itself, does not think of you."
"Louise, you overwhelm me with joy and happiness."
La Valliere smiled mournfully, and continued: "But, sire, have you reflected that
your ingenious invention could not be of the slightest service to us?"
"Why so? Tell me, - I am waiting most anxiously."
"Because this room may be subject to being searched at any moment of the day.
Madame herself may, at any time, come here accidentally; my companions run in
at any moment they please. To fasten the door on the inside, is to denounce
myself as plainly as if I had written above, 'No admittance, - the king is within!'
Even now, sire, at this very moment, there is nothing to prevent the door
opening, and your majesty being seen here."
"In that case," said the king, laughingly, "I should indeed be taken for a phantom,
for no one can tell in what way I came here. Besides, it is only spirits that can
pass through brick walls, or floors and ceilings."
"Oh, sire, reflect for a moment how terrible the scandal would be! Nothing equal
to it could ever have been previously said about the maids of honor, poor
creatures! whom evil report, however, hardly ever spares."
"And your conclusion from all this, my dear Louise, - come, explain yourself."
"Alas! it is a hard thing to say - but your majesty must suppress staircase plots,
surprises and all; for the evil consequences which would result from your being
found here would be far greater than our happiness in seeing each other."
"Well, Louise," replied the king, tenderly, "instead of removing this staircase by
which I have ascended, there is a far more simple means, of which you have not
"A means - another means!"
"Yes, another. Oh, you do not love me as I love you, Louise, since my invention
is quicker than yours."
She looked at the king, who held out his hand to her, which she took and gently
pressed between her own.