Louise de la Valliere
The Courier from Madame.
Charles II. was busily engaged in proving, or in endeavoring to prove, to Miss
Stewart that she was the only person for whom he cared at all, and consequently
was avowing to her an affection similar to that which his ancestor Henry IV. had
entertained for Gabrielle. Unfortunately for Charles II., he had hit upon an
unlucky day, the very day Miss Stewart had taken it into her head to make him
jealous, and therefore, instead of being touched by his offer, as the king had
hoped, she laughed heartily.
"Oh! sire, sire," she cried, laughing all the while; "if I were to be unfortunate
enough to ask you for a proof of the affection you possess, how easy it would be
to see that you are telling a falsehood."
"Nay, listen to me," said Charles, "you know my cartoons by Raphael; you know
whether I care for them or not; the whole world envies me their possession, as
you well know also; my father commissioned Van Dyck to purchase them. Would
you like me to send them to your house this very day?"
"Oh, no!" replied the young girl; "pray keep them yourself, sire; my house is far
too small to accommodate such visitors."
"In that case you shall have Hampton Court to put the cartoons in."
"Be less generous, sire, and learn to love a little while longer, that is all I have to
"I shall never cease to love you; is not that enough?"
"You are smiling, sire."
"Do you wish me to weep?"
"No; but I should like to see you a little more melancholy."
"Thank Heaven, I have been so long enough; fourteen years of exile, poverty,
and misery, I think I may well regard it as a debt discharged; besides, melancholy
makes people look so plain."
"Far from that - for look at the young Frenchman."
"What! the Vicomte de Bragelonne? are you smitten too? By Heaven, they will all
grow mad over him one after the other; but he, on the contrary, has a reason for
"Oh, indeed! you wish me to betray state secrets, do you?"
"If I wish it, you must do so, for you told me you were quite ready to do everything
"Well, then, he is bored in his own country. Does that satisfy you?"
"Yes, a proof that he is a simpleton; I allow him to fall in love with Miss Mary
Grafton, and he feels bored. Can you believe it?"
"Very good; it seems, then, that if you were to find Miss Lucy Stewart indifferent
to you, you would console yourself by falling in love with Miss Mary Grafton."
"I don't say that; in the first place, you know that Mary Grafton does not care for
me; besides, a man can only console himself for a lost affection by the discovery