Ten Years Later

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Book: Ten Years Later by Alexandre Dumas Read Free Book Online
Authors: Alexandre Dumas
Tags: Fiction, Historical
an affair of money."
    "What is it, then? Tell me."
    "The appointment of a maid of honor."
    "Oh! oh! Guiche, what a protector you have become of young ladies," said the prince, "you never speak of any one else now."
    The Chevalier de Lorraine smiled, for he knew very well that nothing displeased the prince more than to show any interest in ladies. "My lord," said the comte, "it is not I who am directly interested in the lady of whom I have just spoken; I am acting on behalf of one of my friends."
    "Ah! that is different; what is the name of the young lady in whom your friend is so interested?"
    "Mlle. de la Baume le Blanc de la Valliere; she is already maid of honor to the dowager princess."
    "Why, she is lame," said the Chevalier de Lorraine, stretching himself on his cushions.
    "Lame," repeated the prince, "and Madame to have her constantly before her eyes? Most certainly not; it may be dangerous for her when in an interesting condition."
    The Chevalier de Lorraine burst out laughing.
    "Chevalier," said Guiche, "your conduct is ungenerous; while I am soliciting a favor, you do me all the mischief you can."
    "Forgive me, comte," said the Chevalier de Lorraine, somewhat uneasy at the tone in which Guiche had made his remark, "but I had no intention of doing so, and I begin to believe that I have mistaken one young lady for another."
    "There is no doubt of it, monsieur; and I do not hesitate to declare that such is the case."
    "Do you attach much importance to it, Guiche?" inquired the prince.
    "I do, my lord."
    "Well, you shall have it; but ask me for no more appointments, for there are none to give away."
    "Ah!" exclaimed the chevalier, "midday already, that is the hour fixed for the departure."
    "You dismiss me, monsieur?" inquired Guiche.
    "Really, count, you treat me very ill to–day," replied the chevalier.
    "For heaven's sake, count, for heaven's sake, chevalier," said Monsieur, "do you not see how you are distressing me?"
    "Your highness's signature?" said Guiche.
    "Take a blank appointment from that drawer, and give it to me." Guiche handed the prince the document indicated, and at the same time presented him with a pen already dipped in ink; whereupon the prince signed. "Here," he said, returning him the appointment, "but I give it on one condition."
    "Name it."
    "That you make friends with the chevalier."
    "Willingly," said Guiche. And he held out his hand to the chevalier with an indifference amounting to contempt.
    "Adieu, count," said the chevalier, without seeming in any way to have noticed the count's slight; "adieu, and bring us back a princess who will not talk with her own portrait too much."
    "Yes, set off and lose no time. By the by, who will accompany you?"
    "Bragelonne and De Wardes."
    "Both excellent and fearless companions."
    "Too fearless," said the chevalier; "endeavor to bring them both back, count."
    "A bad heart, bad!" murmured De Guiche; "he scents mischief everywhere, and sooner than anything else." And taking leave of the prince, he quitted the apartment. As soon as he reached the vestibule, he waved in the air the paper which the prince had signed. Malicorne hurried forward, and received it, trembling with delight. When, however, he held in his hand, Guiche observed that he still awaited something further.
    "Patience, monsieur," he said; "the Chevalier de Lorraine was there, and I feared an utter failure if I asked too much at once. Wait until I return. Adieu."
    "Adieu, monsieur le comte; a thousand thanks," said Malicorne.
    "Send Manicamp to me. By the way, monsieur, is it true that Mlle. de la Valliere is lame?" As he said this, he noticed that Bragelonne, who had just at that moment entered the courtyard, turned suddenly pale. The poor lover had heard the remark, which, however, was not the case with Malicorne, for he was already beyond the reach of the count's voice.
    "Why is Louise's name spoken of here," said Raoul to himself; "oh! let not De Wardes, who stands smiling yonder, even say a

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