In Which We at Length See the True Heroine of this History
Behind Madame de Saint-Remy stood Mademoiselle de la Valliere. She heard
the explosion of maternal anger, and as she divined the cause of it,
she entered the chamber trembling, and perceived the unlucky Malicorne,
whose woeful countenance might have softened or set laughing whoever
observed it coolly. He had promptly intrenched himself behind a large
chair, as if to avoid the first attacks of Madame de Saint-Remy; he had
no hopes of prevailing with words, for she spoke louder than he, and
without stopping; but he reckoned upon the eloquence of his gestures.
The old lady would neither listen to nor see anything; Malicorne had
long been one of her antipathies. But her anger was too great not to
overflow from Malicorne on his accomplice. Montalais had her turn.
“And you, mademoiselle; you may be certain I shall inform madame of what
is going on in the apartment of one of her ladies of honor?”
“Oh, dear mother!” cried Mademoiselle de la Valliere, “for mercy’s sake,
“Hold your tongue, mademoiselle, and do not uselessly trouble yourself
to intercede for unworthy people; that a young maid of honor like you
should be subjected to a bad example is, certes, a misfortune great
enough; but that you should sanction it by your indulgence is what I
will not allow.”
“But in truth,” said Montalais, rebelling again, “I do not know under
what pretense you treat me thus. I am doing no harm, I suppose?”
“And that great good-for-nothing, mademoiselle,” resumed Madame de
Saint-Remy, pointing to Malicorne, “is he here to do any good, I ask
“He is neither here for good nor harm, madame; he comes to see me, that
“It is all very well! all very well!” said the old lady. “Her royal
highness shall be informed of it, and she will judge.”
“At all events, I do not see why,” replied Montalais, “it should be
forbidden M. Malicorne to have intentions towards me, if his intentions
“Honorable intentions with such a face!” cried Madame de Saint-Remy.
“I thank you in the name of my face, madame,” said Malicorne.
“Come, my daughter, come,” continued Madame de Saint-Remy; “we will
go and inform madame that at the very moment she is weeping for her
husband, at the moment when we are all weeping for a master in this
old castle of Blois, the abode of grief, there are people who amuse
themselves with flirtations!”
“Oh!” cried both the accused, with one voice.
“A maid of honor! a maid of honor!” cried the old lady, lifting her
hands towards heaven.
“Well! it is there you are mistaken, madame,” said Montalais, highly
exasperated; “I am no longer a maid of honor, of madame’s at least.”
“Have you given in your resignation, mademoiselle? That is well! I
cannot but applaud such a determination, and I do applaud it.”
“I do not give in my resignation, madame; I take another service,--that
“In the _bourgeoisie_ or in the _robe?_” asked Madame de Saint-Remy,
“Please to learn, madame, that I am not a girl to serve either
_bourgeoises_ or _robines_; and that instead of the miserable court at
which you vegetate, I am going to reside in a court almost royal.”
“Ha, ha! a royal court,” said Madame de Saint-Remy, forcing a laugh; “a
royal court! What do you think of that, my daughter?”
And she turned towards Mademoiselle de la Valliere, whom she would by
main force have dragged away from Montalais, and who instead of obeying
the impulse of Madame de Saint-Remy, looked first at her mother and then
at Montalais with her beautiful conciliatory eyes.
“I did not say a royal court, madame,” replied Montalais; “because
Madame Henrietta of England, who is about to become the wife of S. A.
R. Monsieur, is not a queen. I said almost royal, and I spoke correctly,
since she will be sister-in-law to the king.”
A thunderbolt falling upon the castle of Blois would not have astonished
Madame de Saint-Remy more than the last sentence of Montalais.
“What do you say? of Son Altesse Royale Madame Henrietta?” stammered out
the old lady.
“I say I am going to belong to her household, as maid of honor; that is
what I say.”
“As maid of honor!” cried, at the same time, Madame de Saint-Remy with
despair, and Mademoiselle de la Valliere with delight.
“Yes, madame, as maid of honor.”
The old lady’s head sank down as if the blow had been too severe for
her. But, almost immediately recovering herself, she launched a last
projectile at her adversary.
“Oh! oh!” said she; “I have heard of many of these sorts of promises
beforehand, which often lead people to flatter themselves with wild
hopes, and at the last moment, when the time comes to keep the promises,
and have the hopes realized, they are surprised to see the great credit
upon which they reckoned vanish like smoke.”
“Oh! madame, the credit of my protector is incontestable and his
promises are as good as deeds.”
“And would it be indiscreet to ask you the name of this powerful
“Oh! _mon Dieu!_ no! it is that gentleman there,” said Montalais,
pointing to Malicorne, who, during this scene, had preserved the most
imperturbable coolness, and the most comic dignity.
“Monsieur!” cried Madame de Saint-Remy, with an explosion of hilarity,
“monsieur is your protector! Is the man whose credit is so powerful, and
whose promises are as good as deeds, Monsieur Malicorne!”
As to Montalais, as her sole reply, she drew the brevet from her pocket,
and showed it to the old lady.
“Here is the _brevet_,” said she.
At once all was over. As soon as she had cast a rapid glance over this
fortunate _brevet_, the good lady clasped her hands, an unspeakable
expression of envy and despair contracted her countenance, and she
was obliged to sit down to avoid fainting. Montalais was not malicious
enough to rejoice extravagantly at her victory, or to overwhelm the
conquered enemy, particularly when that enemy was the mother of her
friend; she used then, but did not abuse her triumph. Malicorne was
less generous; he assumed noble _poses_ in his _fauteuil_ and stretched
himself out with a familiarity which, two hours earlier, would have
drawn upon him threats of a caning.
“Maid of honor to the young madame!” repeated Madame de Saint-Remy,
still but half convinced.
“Yes, madame, and through the protection of M. Malicorne, moreover.”
“It is incredible!” repeated the old lady: “is it not incredible,
Louise?” But Louise did not reply; she was sitting, thoughtfully, almost
sad; passing one had over her beautiful brow, she sighed heavily.
“Well, but, monsieur,” said Madame de Saint-Remy, all at once, “how did
you manage to obtain this post?”
“I asked for it, madame.”
“One of my friends.”
“And you have friends sufficiently powerful at court to give you such
proofs of their credit?”
“It appears so.”
“And may one ask the name of these friends?”
“I did not say I had many friends, madame, I said I had one friend.”
“And that friend is called?”
“_Peste!_ madame, you go too far! When one has a friend as powerful as
mine, we do not publish his name in that fashion, in open day, in order
that he may be stolen from us.”
“You are right, monsieur, to be silent as to that name; for I think it
would be pretty difficult for you to tell it.”
“At all events,” said Montalais, “if the friend does not exist, the
_brevet_ does, and that cuts short the question.”
“Then, I conceive,” said Madame de Saint-Remy, with the gracious smile
of the cat who is going to scratch, “when I found monsieur here just
“He brought you the _brevet_.”
“Exactly, madame; you have guessed rightly.”
“Well, then, nothing can be more moral or proper.”
“I think so, madame.”
“And I have been wrong, as it appears, in reproaching you,
“Very wrong, madame; but I am so accustomed to your reproaches, that I
pardon you these.”
“In that case, let us begone, Louise; we have nothing to do but retire.
“Madame!” said La Valliere starting, “did you speak?”
“You do not appear to be listening, my child.”
“No, madame, I was thinking.”
“A thousand things.”
“You bear me no ill-will, at least, Louise?” cried Montalais, pressing
“And why should I, my dear Aure?” replied the girl in a voice soft as a
“_Dame!_” resumed Madame de Saint-Remy; “if she did bear you a little
ill-will, poor girl, she could not be much blamed.”
“And why should she bear me ill-will, good gracious?”
“It appears to me that she is of as good a family, and as pretty as
“Mother! mother!” cried Louise.
“Prettier a hundred times, madame--not of a better family; but that does
not tell me why Louise should bear me ill-will.”
“Do you think it will be very amusing for her to be buried alive at
Blois, when you are going to shine at Paris?”
“But, madame, it is not I who prevent Louise following me thither; on
the contrary, I should certainly be most happy if she came there.”
“But it appears that M. Malicorne, who is all-powerful at court--”
“Ah! so much the worse, madame,” said Malicorne, “every one for himself
in this poor world.”
“Malicorne! Malicorne!” said Montalais. Then stooping towards the young
“Occupy Madame de Saint-Remy, either in disputing with her, or making
it up with her; I must speak to Louise.” And, at the same time, a soft
pressure of the hand recompensed Malicorne for his future obedience.
Malicorne went grumbling towards Madame de Saint-Remy, whilst Montalais
said to her friend, throwing one arm around her neck:--
“What is the matter? Tell _me_. Is it true that you would not love me if
I were to shine, as your mother says?”
“Oh, no!” said the young girl, with difficulty restraining her tears;
“on the contrary, I rejoice at your good fortune.”
“Rejoice! why, one would say you are ready to cry!”
“Do people never weep except from envy?”
“Oh! yes, I understand; I am going to Paris and that word Paris recalls
to your mind a certain cavalier--”
“A certain cavalier who formerly lived near Blois, and who now resides
“In truth, I know not what ails me, but I feel stifled.”
“Weep, then, weep, as you cannot give me a smile!”
Louise raised her sweet face, which the tears, rolling down one after
the other, illumined like diamonds.
“Come, confess,” said Montalais.
“What shall I confess?”
“What makes you weep; people don’t weep without cause. I am your friend;
whatever you would wish me to do, I will do. Malicorne is more powerful
than you would think. Do you wish to go to Paris?”
“Alas!” sighed Louise.
“Do you wish to come to Paris?”
“To remain here alone, in this old castle, I who have enjoyed the
delightful habit of listening to your songs, of pressing your hand,
of running about the park with you. Oh! how I shall be _ennuyee!_ how
quickly I shall die!”
“Do you wish to come to Paris?”
Louise breathed another sigh.
“You do not answer me.”
“What would you that I should reply?”
“Yes or no; that is not very difficult, I think.”
“Oh! you are very fortunate, Montalais!”
“That is to say you would like to be in my place.”
Louise was silent.
“Little obstinate thing!” said Montalais; “did ever any one keep her
secrets from her friend thus? But, confess that you would like to come
to Paris; confess that you are dying with the wish to see Raoul again.”
“I cannot confess that.”
“Then you are wrong.”
“In what way?”
“Because--do you not see this _brevet?_”
“To be sure I do.”
“Well, I would have got you a similar one.”
“By whose means?”
“Aure, are you telling the truth? Is that possible?”
“Malicorne is there; and what he has done for me, he surely can do for
Malicorne had heard his name pronounced twice; he was delighted
at having an opportunity of coming to a conclusion with Madame de
Saint-Remy, and he turned round:--
“What is the question, mademoiselle?”
“Come hither, Malicorne,” said Montalais, with an imperious gesture.
“A _brevet_ like this,” said Montalais.
“A _brevet_ like this; that is plain enough.”
“I want one--I must have one!”
“Oh! oh! you must have one!”
“It is impossible, is it not, M. Malicorne?” said Louise, with her
sweet, soft voice.
“If it is for _you_, mademoiselle--”
“For me. Yes, Monsieur Malicorne, it _would_ be for me.”
“And if Mademoiselle de Montalais asks it at the same time--”
“Mademoiselle de Montalais does not ask it, she requires it.”
“Well! we will endeavor to obey you, mademoiselle.”
“And you will have her named?”
“We will try.”
“No evasive answers, Louise de la Valliere shall be maid of honor to
Madame Henrietta within a week.”
“How you talk!”
“Within a week, or else--”
“Well! or else?”
“You may take back your _brevet_, Monsieur Malicorne; I will not leave
“That is right. Keep your _brevet_; Mademoiselle de la Valliere shall be
a maid of honor.”
“Is that true?”
“I may then hope to go to Paris?”
“Depend on it.”
“Oh! Monsieur Malicorne, what joy!” cried Louise, clapping her hands,
and bounding with pleasure.
“Little dissembler!” said Montalais, “try again to make me believe you
are not in love with Raoul.”
Louise blushed like a rose in June, but instead of replying, she ran and
embraced her mother. “Madame,” said she, “do you know that M. Malicorne
is going to have me appointed maid of honor?”
“M. Malicorne is a prince in disguise,” replied the old lady, “he is
“Should you also like to be a maid of honor?” asked Malicorne of Madame
de Saint-Remy. “Whilst I am about it, I might as well get everybody
And upon that he went away, leaving the poor lady quite disconcerted.
“Humph!” murmured Malicorne as he descended the stairs,--“Humph! there
goes another note of a thousand lives! but I must get through as well
as I can; my friend Manicamp does nothing for nothing.”