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Louise de la Valliere

Chapter 40
Two Old Friends.
Whilst every one at court was busily engaged with his own affairs, a man
mysteriously took up his post behind the Place de Greve, in the house which we
once saw besieged by D'Artagnan on the occasion of the emeute. The principal
entrance of the house was in the Place Baudoyer; it was tolerably large,
surrounded by gardens, inclosed in the Rue Saint- Jean by the shops of
toolmakers, which protected it from prying looks, and was walled in by a triple
rampart of stone, noise, and verdure, like an embalmed mummy in its triple
coffin. The man we have just alluded to walked along with a firm step, although
he was no longer in his early prime. His dark cloak and long sword plainly
revealed one who seemed in search of adventures; and, judging from his curling
mustache, his fine smooth skin, which could be seen beneath his sombrero, it
would not have been difficult to pronounce that gallantry had not a little share in
his adventures. In fact, hardly had the cavalier entered the house, when the clock
struck eight; and ten minutes afterwards a lady, followed by a servant armed to
the teeth, approached and knocked at the same door, which an old woman
immediately opened for her. The lady raised her veil as she entered; though no
longer beautiful or young, she was still active and of an imposing carriage. She
concealed, beneath a rich toilette and the most exquisite taste, an age which
Ninon de l'Enclos alone could have smiled at with impunity. Hardly had she
reached the vestibule, when the cavalier, whose features we have only roughly
sketched, advanced towards her, holding out his hand.
"God day, my dear duchesse," he said.
"How do you do, my dear Aramis?" replied the duchesse.
He led her to a most elegantly furnished apartment, on whose high windows
were reflected the expiring rays of the setting sun, which filtered gaudily through
the dark green needles of the adjacent firs. They sat down side by side. Neither
of them thought of asking for additional light in the room, and they buried
themselves as it were in the shadow, as if they wished to bury themselves in
forgetfulness.
"Chevalier," said the duchesse, "you have never given me a single sign of life
since our interview at Fontainebleau, and I confess that your presence there on
the day of the Franciscan's death, and your initiation in certain secrets, caused
me the liveliest astonishment I ever experienced in my whole life."
"I can explain my presence there to you, as well as my initiation," said Aramis.
"But let us, first of all," said the duchess, "talk a little of ourselves, for our
friendship is by no means of recent date."
"Yes, madame: and if Heaven wills it, we shall continue to be friends, I will not
say for a long time, but forever."
"That is quite certain, chevalier, and my visit is a proof of it."
"Our interests, duchess, are no longer the same as they used to be," said
Aramis, smiling without apprehension in the growing gloom by which the room
 
 
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