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Louise de la Valliere
by
Alexandre Dumas, Pere
Web-Books.Com
Louise de la Valliere

Chapter 1............................................................................................................................. 4
Chapter 2........................................................................................................................... 13
Chapter 3........................................................................................................................... 16
Chapter 4........................................................................................................................... 29
Chapter 5........................................................................................................................... 34
Chapter 6........................................................................................................................... 38

Chapter 7........................................................................................................................... 42
Chapter 8........................................................................................................................... 45
Chapter 9........................................................................................................................... 48
Chapter 10......................................................................................................................... 54
Chapter 11......................................................................................................................... 60

Chapter 12......................................................................................................................... 66
Chapter 13......................................................................................................................... 74
Chapter 14......................................................................................................................... 82
Chapter 15......................................................................................................................... 86
Chapter 16......................................................................................................................... 89

Chapter 17......................................................................................................................... 94
Chapter 18......................................................................................................................... 98
Chapter 19....................................................................................................................... 102
Chapter 20....................................................................................................................... 106
Chapter 21....................................................................................................................... 114

Chapter 22....................................................................................................................... 117
Chapter 23....................................................................................................................... 122
Chapter 24....................................................................................................................... 126
Chapter 25....................................................................................................................... 133
Chapter 26....................................................................................................................... 137

Chapter 27....................................................................................................................... 142
Chapter 28....................................................................................................................... 146
Chapter 29....................................................................................................................... 152
Chapter 30....................................................................................................................... 158
Chapter 31....................................................................................................................... 163

Chapter 32....................................................................................................................... 167
Chapter 33....................................................................................................................... 172
Chapter 34....................................................................................................................... 178
Chapter 35....................................................................................................................... 185
Chapter 36....................................................................................................................... 191

Chapter 37....................................................................................................................... 196
Chapter 38....................................................................................................................... 205
Chapter 39....................................................................................................................... 212
Chapter 40....................................................................................................................... 215
Chapter 43....................................................................................................................... 238
Chapter 44....................................................................................................................... 245

Chapter 45....................................................................................................................... 250
Chapter 46....................................................................................................................... 254
Chapter 47....................................................................................................................... 259
Chapter 48....................................................................................................................... 262
Chapter 49....................................................................................................................... 268

Chapter 50....................................................................................................................... 275
Chapter 51....................................................................................................................... 279
Chapter 52....................................................................................................................... 283
Chapter 53....................................................................................................................... 287
Chapter 54....................................................................................................................... 292

Chapter 55....................................................................................................................... 298
Chapter 56....................................................................................................................... 306
Chapter 57....................................................................................................................... 310
Chapter 58....................................................................................................................... 316
Chapter 59....................................................................................................................... 322

Chapter 60....................................................................................................................... 326
Chapter 61....................................................................................................................... 329
Chapter 62....................................................................................................................... 333
Chapter 63....................................................................................................................... 337
Chapter 64....................................................................................................................... 341

Chapter 65....................................................................................................................... 347

Chapter 1

Malaga.
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 without balancing-poles."
"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.
We shall not look for D'Artagnan, therefore, at Fontainebleau, for to do so would be useless; but, with the permission of our readers, follow him to the Rue des Lombards, where he was located at the sign of the Pilon d'Or, in the house of our old friend Planchet. It was about eight o'clock in the evening, and the weather was exceedingly warm; there was only one window open, and that one belonging to a room on the entresol. A perfume of spices, mingled with another perfume less exotic, but more penetrating, namely, that which arose from the street, ascended to salute the nostrils of the musketeer. D'Artagnan, reclining in an immense straight-backed chair, with his legs not stretched out, but simply placed upon a stool, formed an angle of the most obtuse form that could possibly be seen. Both his arms were crossed over his head, his head reclining upon his left shoulder, like Alexander the Great. His eyes, usually so quick and intelligent in their expression, were now half- closed, and seemed fastened, as it were, upon a small corner of blue sky that was visible behind the opening of the chimneys; there was just enough blue, and no more, to fill one of the sacks of lentils, or haricots, which formed the principal furniture of the shop on the ground floor. Thus extended at his ease, and sheltered in his place of observation behind the window, D'Artagnan seemed as if he had ceased to be a soldier, as if he were no longer an officer belonging to the palace, but was, on the contrary, a quiet, easygoing citizen in a state of stagnation between his dinner and supper, or between his supper and his bed; one of those strong, ossified brains, which have no more room for a single idea, so fiercely does animal matter keep watch at the doors of intelligence, narrowly inspecting the contraband trade which might result from the introduction into the brain of a symptom of thought. We have already said night was closing in, the shops were being lighted, while the windows of the upper apartments were being closed, and the rhythmic steps of a patrol of soldiers forming the night watch could be heard retreating. D'Artagnan continued, however, to think of nothing, except the blue corner of the sky. A few paces from him, completely in the shade, lying on his stomach, upon a sack of Indian corn, was Planchet, with both his arms under his chin, and his eyes fixed on D'Artagnan, who was either thinking, dreaming, or sleeping, with his eyes open. Planchet had been watching him for a tolerably long time, and, by way of interruption, he began by exclaiming, "Hum! hum!" But D'Artagnan did not stir. Planchet then saw that it was necessary to have recourse to more effectual means still: after a prolonged reflection on the subject, the most ingenious means that suggested itself to him under the present circumstances, was to let himself roll off the sack on to the floor, murmuring, at the same time, against himself, the word "stupid." But, notwithstanding the noise produced by Planchet's fall, D'Artagnan, who had in the course of his existence heard many other, and very different falls, did not appear to pay the least attention to the present one. Besides, an enormous cart, laden with stones, passing from the Rue SaintMederic, absorbed, in the noise of its wheels, the noise of Planchet's tumble. And yet Planchet fancied that, in token of tacit approval, he saw him imperceptibly smile at the word "stupid." This emboldened him to say, "Are you asleep, Monsieur d'Artagnan?"
"No, Planchet, I am not even asleep," replied the musketeer.
"I am in despair," said Planchet, "to hear such a word as even."
"Well, and why not; is it not a grammatical word, Monsieur Planchet?" "Of course, Monsieur d'Artagnan."
"Well!"
"Well, then, the word distresses me beyond measure."
"Tell me why you are distressed, Planchet," said D'Artagnan.
"If you say that you are not even asleep, it is as much as to say that you have not even the consolation of being able to sleep; or, better still, it is precisely the same as telling me that you are getting bored to death."
"Planchet, you know that I am never bored."
"Except to-day, and the day before yesterday."
"Bah!"
"Monsieur d'Artagnan, it is a week since you returned here from Fontainebleau; in other words, you have no longer your orders to issue, or your men to review and maneuver. You need the sound of guns, drums, and all that din and confusion; I, who have myself carried a musket, can easily believe that." "Planchet," replied D'Artagnan, "I assure you I am not bored in the least in the world."
"In that case, what are you doing, lying there, as if you were dead?" "My dear Planchet, there was, once upon a time, at the siege of La Rochelle, when I was there, when you were there, when we both were there, a certain Arab, who was celebrated for the manner in which he adjusted culverins. He was a clever fellow, although of a very odd complexion, which was the same color as your olives. Well, this Arab, whenever he had done eating or working, used to sit down to rest himself, as I am resting myself now, and smoked I cannot tell you what sort of magical leaves, in a large amber-mouthed tube; and if any officers, happening to pass, reproached him for being always asleep, he used quietly to reply: 'Better to sit down than to stand up, to lie down than to sit down, to be dead than to lie down.' He was an acutely melancholy Arab, and I remember him perfectly well, form the color of his skin, and the style of his conversation. He used to cut off the heads of Protestants with the most singular gusto!" "Precisely; and then used to embalm them, when they were worth the trouble; and when he was thus engaged with his herbs and plants about him, he looked like a basket-maker making baskets."
"You are quite right, Planchet, he did."
"Oh! I can remember things very well, at times!"
"I have no doubt of it; but what do you think of his mode of reasoning?" "I think it good in one sense, but very stupid in another."
"Expound your meaning, M. Planchet."
"Well, monsieur, in point of fact, then, 'better to sit down than to stand up,' is plain enough, especially when one may be fatigued," and Planchet smiled in a roguish way; "as for 'better to be lying down,' let that pass, but as for the last proposition, that it is 'better to be dead than alive,' it is, in my opinion, very absurd, my own undoubted preference being for my bed; and if you are not of my opinion, it is simply, as I have already had the honor of telling you, because you are boring yourself to death."
"Planchet, do you know M. La Fontaine?"
"The chemist at the corner of the Rue Saint-Mederic?"
"No, the writer of fables."
"Oh! Maitre Corbeau!"
"Exactly; well, then, I am like his hare."
"He has got a hare also, then?"
"He has all sorts of animals."
"Well, what does his hare do, then?"
"M. La Fontaine's hare thinks."
"Ah, ah!"
"Planchet, I am like that hare - I am thinking."
"You are thinking, you say?" said Planchet, uneasily.
"Yes; your house is dull enough to drive people to think; you will admit that, I hope."
"And yet, monsieur, you have a look-out upon the street."
"Yes; and wonderfully interesting that is, of course."
"But it is no less true, monsieur, that, if you were living at the back of the house, you would bore yourself - I mean, you would think - more than ever." "Upon my word, Planchet, I hardly know that."
"Still," said the grocer, "if your reflections are at all like those which led you to restore King Charles II. - " and Planchet finished by a little laugh which was not without its meaning.
"Ah! Planchet, my friend," returned D'Artagnan, "you are getting ambitious." "Is there no other king to be restored, M. d'Artagnan - no second Monk to be packed up, like a salted hog, in a deal box?"
"No, my dear Planchet; all the kings are seated on their respective thrones; less comfortably so, perhaps, than I am upon this chair; but, at all events, there they are." And D'Artagnan sighed deeply.
"Monsieur d'Artagnan," said Planchet, "you are making me very uneasy." "You are very good, Planchet."
"I begin to suspect something."
"What is it?"
"Monsieur d'Artagnan, you are getting thin."
"Oh!" said D'Artagnan, striking his chest which sounded like an empty cuirass, "it is impossible, Planchet."
"Ah!" said Planchet, slightly overcome; "if you were to get thin in my house - " "Well?"
"I should do something rash."
"What would you do? Tell me."
"I should look out for the man who was the cause of all your anxieties." "Ah! according to your account, I am anxious now."
"Yes, you are anxious; and you are getting thin, visibly getting thin. Malaga! if you go on getting thin, in this way, I will take my sword in my hand, and go straight to M. d'Herblay, and have it out with him."
"What!" said M. d'Artagnan, starting in his chair; "what's that you say? And what has M. d'Herblay's name to do with your groceries?"
"Just as you please. Get angry if you like, or call me names, if you prefer it; but, the deuce is in it. I know what I know."
D'Artagnan had, during this second outburst of Planchet's, so placed himself as not to lose a single look of his face; that is, he sat with both his hands resting on both his knees, and his head stretched out towards the grocer. "Come, explain yourself," he said, "and tell me how you could possibly utter such a blasphemy. M. d'Herblay, your old master, my friend, an ecclesiastic, a musketeer turned bishop - do you mean to say you would raise your sword against him, Planchet?" "I could raise my sword against my own father, when I see you in such a state as you are now."
"M. d'Herblay, a gentleman!"
"It's all the same to me whether he's a gentleman or not. He gives you the blue devils, that is all I know. And the blue devils make people get thin. Malaga! I have no notion of M. d'Artagnan leaving my house thinner than when he entered it." "How does he give me the blue devils, as you call it? Come, explain, explain." "You have had the nightmare during the last three nights."
"I?"
"Yes, you; and in your nightmare you called out, several times, 'Aramis, deceitful Aramis!'"
"Ah! I said that, did I?" murmured D'Artagnan, uneasily.
"Yes, those very words, upon my honor."
"Well, what else? You know the saying, Planchet, 'dreams go by contraries.'" "Not so; for every time, during the last three days, when you went out, you have not once failed to ask me, on your return, 'Have you seen M. d'Herblay?' or else 'Have you received any letters for me from M. d'Herblay?'"
"Well, it is very natural I should take an interest in my old friend," said D'Artagnan.
"Of course; but not to such an extent as to get thin on that account." "Planchet, I'll get fatter; I give you my word of honor I will."
"Very well, monsieur, I accept it; for I know that when you give your word of honor, it is sacred."
"I will not dream of Aramis any more; and I will never ask you again if there are any letters from M. d'Herblay; but on condition that you explain one thing to me." "Tell me what it is, monsieur?"
"I am a great observer; and just now you made use of a very singular oath, which is unusual for you."
"You mean Malaga! I suppose?"
"Precisely."
"It is the oath I have used ever since I have been a grocer."
"Very proper, too; it is the name of a dried grape, or raisin, I believe?" "It is my most ferocious oath; when I have once said Malaga! I am a man no longer."
"Still, I never knew you use that oath before."
"Very likely not, monsieur. I had a present made me of it," said Planchet; and, as he pronounced these words, he winked his eye with a cunning expression, which thoroughly awakened D'Artagnan's attention.
"Come, come, M. Planchet."
"Why, I am not like you, monsieur," said Planchet. "I don't pass my life in thinking."
"You do wrong, then."
"I mean in boring myself to death. We have but a very short time to live - why not make the best of it?"
"You are an Epicurean philosopher, I begin to think, Planchet."
"Why not? My hand is still as steady as ever; I can write, and can weigh out my sugar and spices; my foot is firm; I can dance and walk about; my stomach has its teeth still, for I eat and digest very well; my heart is not quite hardened. Well, monsieur?"
"Well, what, Planchet?"
"Why, you see - " said the grocer, rubbing his hands together.
D'Artagnan crossed one leg over the other, and said, "Planchet, my friend, I am unnerved with extreme surprise; for you are revealing yourself to me under a perfectly new light."
Planchet, flattered in the highest degree by this remark, continued to rub his hands very hard together. "Ah, ah," he said, "because I happen to be only slow, you think me, perhaps, a positive fool."
"Very good, Planchet; very well reasoned."
"Follow my idea, monsieur, if you please. I said to myself," continued Planchet, "that, without enjoyment, there is no happiness on this earth."
"Quite true, what you say, Planchet," interrupted D'Artagnan.
"At all events, if we cannot obtain pleasure - for pleasure is not so common a thing, after all - let us, at least, get consolations of some kind or another." "And so you console yourself?"
"Exactly so."
"Tell me how you console yourself."
"I put on a buckler for the purpose of confronting ennui. I place my time at the direction of patience; and on the very eve of feeling I am going to get bored, I amuse myself."
"And you don't find any difficulty in that?"
"None."
"And you found it out quite by yourself?"
"Quite so."
"It is miraculous."
"What do you say?"
"I say, that your philosophy is not to be matched in the Christian or pagan world, in modern days or in antiquity!"
"You think so? - follow my example, then."
"It is a very tempting one."
"Do as I do."
"I could not wish for anything better; but all minds are not of the same stamp; and it might possibly happen that if I w