Louise de la Valliere
Montalais and Malicorne.
Montalais was right. M. de Guiche, thus summoned in every direction, was very
much exposed, from such a multiplication of business, to the risk of not attending
to any. It so happened that, considering the awkwardness of the interruption,
Madame, notwithstanding her wounded pride, and secret anger, could not, for
the moment at least, reproach Montalais for having violated, in so bold a manner,
the semi-royal order with which she had been dismissed on De Guiche's
entrance. De Guiche, also, lost his presence of mind, or, it would be more correct
to say, had already lost it, before Montalais's arrival, for, scarcely had he heard
the young girl's voice, than, without taking leave of Madame, as the most
ordinary politeness required, even between persons equal in rank and station, he
fled from her presence, his heart tumultuously throbbing, and his brain on fire,
leaving the princess with one hand raised, as though to bid him adieu. Montalais
was at no loss, therefore, to perceive the agitation of the two lovers - the one who
fled was agitated, and the one who remained was equally so.
"Well," murmured the young girl, as she glanced inquisitively round her, "this
time, at least, I think I know as much as the most curious woman could possibly
wish to know." Madame felt so embarrassed by this inquisitorial look, that, as if
she heard Montalais's muttered side remark, she did not speak a word to her
maid of honor, but, casting down her eyes, retired at once to her bedroom.
Montalais, observing this, stood listening for a moment, and then heard Madame
lock and bolt her door. By this she knew that the rest of the evening was at her
own disposal; and making, behind the door which had just been closed, a
gesture which indicated but little real respect for the princess, she went down the
staircase in search of Malicorne, who was very busily engaged at that moment in
watching a courier, who, covered with dust, had just left the Comte de Guiche's
apartments. Montalais knew that Malicorne was engaged in a matter of some
importance; she therefore allowed him to look and stretch out his neck as much
as he pleased; and it was only when Malicorne had resumed his natural position,
that she touched him on the shoulder. "Well," said Montalais, "what is the latest
intelligence you have?"
"M. de Guiche is in love with Madame."
"Fine news, truly! I know something more recent than that."
"Well, what do you know?"
"That Madame is in love with M. de Guiche."
"The one is the consequence of the other."
"Not always, my good monsieur."
"Is that remark intended for me?"
"Present company always excepted."
"Thank you," said Malicorne. "Well, and in the other direction, what is stirring?"
"The king wished, this evening, after the lottery, to see Mademoiselle de la
"Well, and he has seen her?"