Louise de la Valliere
During all these long and noisy debates between the opposite ambitions of
politics and love, one of our characters, perhaps the one least deserving of
neglect, was, however, very much neglected, very much forgotten, and
exceedingly unhappy. In fact, D'Artagnan - D'Artagnan, we say, for we must call
him by his name, to remind our readers of his existence - D'Artagnan, we repeat,
had absolutely nothing whatever to do, amidst these brilliant butterflies of
fashion. After following the king during two whole days at Fontainebleau, and
critically observing the various pastoral fancies and heroi-comic transformations
of his sovereign, the musketeer felt that he needed something more than this to
satisfy the cravings of his nature. At every moment assailed by people asking
him, "How do you think this costume suits me, Monsieur d'Artagnan?" he would
reply to them in quiet, sarcastic tones, "Why, I think you are quite as well-dressed
as the best-dressed monkey to be found in the fair at Saint- Laurent." It was just
such a compliment D'Artagnan would choose where he did not feel disposed to
pay any other: and, whether agreeable or not, the inquirer was obliged to be
satisfied with it. Whenever any one asked him, "How do you intend to dress
yourself this evening?" he replied, "I shall undress myself;" at which the ladies all
laughed, and a few of them blushed. But after a couple of days passed in this
manner, the musketeer, perceiving that nothing serious was likely to arise which
would concern him, and that the king had completely, or, at least, appeared to
have completely forgotten Paris, Saint-Mande, and Belle-Isle - that M. Colbert's
mind was occupied with illuminations and fireworks - that for the next month, at
least, the ladies had plenty of glances to bestow, and also to receive in exchange
- D'Artagnan asked the king for leave of absence for a matter of private business.
At the moment D'Artagnan made his request, his majesty was on the point of
going to bed, quite exhausted from dancing.
"You wish to leave me, Monsieur d'Artagnan?" inquired the king, with an air of
astonishment; for Louis XIV. could never understand why any one who had the
distinguished honor of being near him could wish to leave him.
"Sire," said D'Artagnan, "I leave you simply because I am not of the slightest
service to you in anything. Ah! if I could only hold the balancing-pole while you
were dancing, it would be a very different affair."
"But, my dear Monsieur d'Artagnan," said the king, gravely, "people dance
"Ah! indeed," said the musketeer, continuing his imperceptible tone of irony, "I
had no idea such a thing was possible."
"You have not seen me dance, then?" inquired the king.
"Yes; but I always thought dancers went from easy to difficult acrobatic feats. I
was mistaken; all the more greater reason, therefore, that I should leave for a
time. Sire, I repeat, you have no present occasion for my services; besides, if
your majesty should have any need of me, you would know where to find me."
"Very well," said the king, and he granted him leave of absence.