BLTC Press Titles


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Mortal Coils

Aldous Huxley


The Secret Doctrine, Volume II Anthropogenesis

H. P. Blavatsky


Shakti and Shakta

John Woodroffe


Further Adventures of an Irish R. M.

Edith Somerville and Martin Ross


Louise de la Valliere

by Alexandre Dumas

Excerpt:

LOUISE DE LA VALLIERE.

CHAPTER L

MALAGA.

Dueikg the continuance of the long and violent debates between the opposite ambitions of the court and those of the heart, one of our characters, the least deserving of neglect, perhaps, 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 amid this brilliant, light-hearted world of fashion. After having followed the king during two whole days at Fontainebleau, and having critically observed all the pastoral fancies and seriocomic transformations of his sovereign, the musketeer felt that he needed something more than this to satisfy the cravings of his existence. 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 St. Laurent." It was just such a compliment as D'Artagnan would choose to pay 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 all the ladies laughed. But after a couple of days passed in this manner, the musketeer, preceiving 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, St. Mande, and Belle-Isle— that M. Colbert's mind was occupied with illuminations and

1 Dumas—Vol. XIV.

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 that 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 tam 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 a balanciug-pole."

"Ah! indeed," said the musketeer, continuing his imperceptible tone of irony, "I had no idea at all of that."

"You have not seen me dance, then?" inquired the king.

"Yes; but I always thought it would make you firmer. I was mistaken; a 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 his leave of absence.

We shall not look for D'Artagnan, therefore, at Fontainebleau, for this would be quite useless; but, with the permission of our readers, we shall follow him to the Rue des Lombards, where he was located at the sign of th« 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 belonged 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 upon 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


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