Louise de la Valliere
How De Wardes Was Received at Court.
Monsieur had received De Wardes with that marked favor light and frivolous
minds bestow on every novelty that comes in their way. De Wardes, who had
been absent for a month, was like fresh fruit to him. To treat him with marked
kindness was an infidelity to old friends, and there is always something
fascinating in that; moreover, it was a sort of reparation to De Wardes himself.
Nothing, consequently, could exceed the favorable notice Monsieur took of him.
The Chevalier de Lorraine, who feared this rival but a little, but who respected a
character and disposition only too parallel to his own in every particular, with the
addition of a bull-dog courage he did not himself possess, received De Wardes
with a greater display of regard and affection than even Monsieur had done. De
Guiche, as we have said, was there also, but kept in the background, waiting
very patiently until all these interchanges were over. De Wardes, while talking to
the others, and even to Monsieur himself, had not for a moment lost sight of De
Guiche, who, he instinctively felt, was there on his account. As soon as he had
finished with the others, he went up to De Guiche. They exchanged the most
courteous compliments, after which De Wardes returned to Monsieur and the
In the midst of these congratulations Madame was announced. She had been
informed of De Wardes's arrival, and knowing all the details of his voyage and
duel, she was not sorry to be present at the remarks she knew would be made,
without delay, by one who, she felt assured, was her personal enemy. Two or
three of her ladies accompanied her. De Wardes saluted Madame in the most
graceful and respectful manner, and, as a commencement of hostilities,
announced, in the first place, that he could furnish the Duke of Buckingham's
friends with the latest news about him. This was a direct answer to the coldness
with which Madame had received him. The attack was a vigorous one, and
Madame felt the blow, but without appearing to have even noticed it. He rapidly
cast a glance at Monsieur and at De Guiche, - the former colored, and the latter
turned very pale. Madame alone preserved an unmoved countenance; but, as
she knew how many unpleasant thoughts and feelings her enemy could awaken
in the two persons who were listening to him, she smilingly bent forward towards
the traveler, as if to listen to the news he had brought - but he was speaking of
other matters. Madame was brave, even to imprudence; if she were to retreat, it
would be inviting an attack; so, after the first disagreeable impression had
passed away, she returned to the charge.
"Have you suffered much from your wounds, Monsieur de Wardes?" she
inquired, "for we have been told that you had the misfortune to get wounded."
It was now De Wardes's turn to wince; he bit his lips, and replied, "No, Madame,
hardly at all."
"Indeed! and yet in this terribly hot weather - "
"The sea-breezes were very fresh and cool, Madame, and then I had one