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Ten Years Later Part 4
Ten Years Later Part 4
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Malicorne and Manicamp.

The introduction of these two new personages into this history and that

mysterious affinity of names and sentiments, merit some attention on the

part of both historian and reader. We will then enter into some details

concerning Messieurs Malicorne and Manicamp. Malicorne, we know, had

made the journey to Orleans in search of the _brevet_ destined for

Mademoiselle de Montalais, the arrival of which had produced such a

strong feeling at the castle of Blois. At that moment, M. de Manicamp

was at Orleans. A singular person was this M. de Manicamp; a very

intelligent young fellow, always poor, always needy, although he dipped

his hand freely into the purse of M. le Comte de Guiche, one of the best

furnished purses of the period. M. le Comte de Guiche had had, as

the companion of his boyhood, this De Manicamp, a poor gentleman,

vassal-born, of the house of Gramont. M. de Manicamp, with his tact

and talent had created himself a revenue in the opulent family of the

celebrated marechal. From his infancy he had, with calculation beyond

his age, lent his mane and complaisance to the follies of the Comte de

Guiche. If his noble companion had stolen some fruit destined for

Madame la Marechale, if he had broken a mirror, or put out a dog’s eye,

Manicamp declared himself guilty of the crime committed, and received

the punishment, which was not made the milder for falling on the

innocent.

But this was the way this system of abnegation was paid

for: instead of wearing such mean habiliments as his paternal fortunes

entitled him to, he was able to appear brilliant, superb, like a young

noble of fifty thousand livres a year. It was not that he was mean in

character or humble in spirit; no, he was a philosopher, or rather he

had the indifference, the apathy, the obstinacy which banish from man

every sentiment of the supernatural. His sole ambition was to spend

money. But, in this respect, the worthy M. de Manicamp was a gulf. Three

or four times every year he drained the Comte de Guiche, and when the

Comte de Guiche was thoroughly drained, when he had turned out his

pockets and his purse before him, when he declared that it would be at

least a fortnight before paternal munificence would refill those pockets

and that purse, Manicamp lost all his energy, he went to bed, remained

there, ate nothing and sold his handsome clothes, under the pretense

that, remaining in bed, he did not want them. During this prostration

of mind and strength, the purse of the Comte de Guiche was getting full

again, and when once filled, overflowed into that of De Manicamp, who

bought new clothes, dressed himself again, and recommenced the same

life he had followed before. The mania of selling his new clothes for

a quarter of what they were worth, had rendered our hero sufficiently

celebrated in Orleans, a city where, in general, we should be puzzled

to say why he came to pass his days of penitence. Provincial _debauches,

petits-maitres_ of six hundred livres a year, shared the fragments of

his opulence.

Among the admirers of these splendid toilettes, our friend Malicorne

was conspicuous; he was the son of a syndic of the city, of whom M.

de Conde, always needy as a De Conde, often borrowed money at enormous

interest. M. Malicorne kept the paternal money-chest; that is to

say, that in those times of easy morals, he had made for himself, by

following the example of his father, and lending at high interest for

short terms, a revenue of eighteen hundred livres, without reckoning

six hundred livres furnished by the generosity of the syndic; so that

Malicorne was the king of the gay youth of Orleans, having two thousand

four hundred livres to scatter, squander, and waste on follies of every

kind. But, quite contrary to Manicamp, Malicorne was terribly ambitious.

He loved from ambition; he spent money out of ambition; and he would

have ruined himself for ambition. Malicorne had determined to rise, at

whatever price it might cost, and for this, whatever price it did cost,

he had given himself a mistress and a friend. The mistress, Mademoiselle

de Montalais, was cruel, as regarded love; but she was of a noble

family, and that was sufficient for Malicorne. The friend had little or

no friendship, but he was the favorite of the Comte de Guiche, himself

the friend of Monsieur, the king’s brother; and that was sufficient for

Malicorne. Only, in the chapter of charges, Mademoiselle de Montalais

cost _per annum_:--ribbons, gloves, and sweets, a thousand livres.

De Manicamp cost--money lent, never returned--from twelve to fifteen

hundred livres _per annum_.

So that there was nothing left for

Malicorne. Ah! yes, we are mistaken; there was left the paternal strong

box. He employed a mode of proceeding, upon which he preserved the most

profound secrecy, and which consisted in advancing to himself, from

the coffers of the syndic, half a dozen year’s profits, that is to

say, fifteen thousand livres, swearing to himself--observe, quite to

himself--to repay this deficiency as soon as an opportunity should

present itself. The opportunity was expected to be the concession of

a good post in the household of Monsieur, when that household would be

established at the period of his marriage. This juncture had arrived,

and the household was about to be established. A good post in the family

of a prince of the blood, when it is given by the credit, and on the

recommendation of a friend, like the Comte de Guiche, is worth at least

twelve thousand livres _per annum_; and by the means which M. Malicorne

had taken to make his revenues fructify, twelve thousand livres might

rise to twenty thousand. Then, when once an incumbent of this post, he

would marry Mademoiselle de Montalais. Mademoiselle de Montalais, of

a half noble family, not only would be dowered, but would ennoble

Malicorne. But, in order that Mademoiselle de Montalais, who had not a

large patrimonial fortune, although an only daughter, should be suitably

dowered, it was necessary that she should belong to some great princess,

as prodigal as the dowager Madame was covetous. And in order that the

wife should not be of one party whilst the husband belonged to the

other, a situation which presents serious inconveniences, particularly

with characters like those of the future consorts--Malicorne had

imagined the idea of making the central point of union the household of

Monsieur, the king’s brother. Mademoiselle de Montalais would be maid of

honor to Madame. M. Malicorne would be officer to Monsieur.

It is plain the plan was formed by a clear head; it is plain, also,

that it had been bravely executed. Malicorne had asked Manicamp to ask

a _brevet_ of maid of honor of the Comte de Guiche; and the Comte de

Guiche had asked this _brevet_ of Monsieur, who had signed it without

hesitation. The constructive plan of Malicorne--for we may well suppose

that the combinations of a mind as active as his were not confined

to the present, but extended to the future--the constructive plan of

Malicorne, we say, was this:--To obtain entrance into the household of

Madame Henrietta for a woman devoted to himself, who was intelligent,

young, handsome, and intriguing; to learn, by means of this woman, all

the feminine secrets of the young household; whilst he, Malicorne, and

his friend Manicamp, should, between them, know all the male secrets

of the young community. It was by these means that a rapid and splendid

fortune might be acquired at one and the same time. Malicorne was a

vile name; he who bore it had too much wit to conceal this truth from

himself; but an estate might be purchased; and Malicorne of some place,

or even De Malicorne itself, for short, would ring more nobly on the

ear.

It was not improbable that a most aristocratic origin might be hunted up

by the heralds for this name of Malicorne; might it not come from some

estate where a bull with mortal horns had caused some great misfortune,

and baptized the soil with the blood it had spilt? Certes, this plan

presented itself bristling with difficulties: but the greatest of all

was Mademoiselle de Montalais herself. Capricious, variable, close,

giddy, free, prudish, a virgin armed with claws, Erigone stained with

grapes, she sometimes overturned, with a single dash of her white

fingers, or with a single puff from her laughing lips, the edifice which

had exhausted Malicorne’s patience for a month.

Love apart, Malicorne was happy; but this love, which he could not help

feeling, he had the strength to conceal with care; persuaded that at the

least relaxing of the ties by which he had bound his Protean female,

the demon would overthrow and laugh at him. He humbled his mistress by

disdaining her. Burning with desire, when she advanced to tempt him,

he had the art to appear ice, persuaded that if he opened his arms, she

would run away laughing at him. On her side, Montalais believed she

did not love Malicorne; whilst, on the contrary, in reality she did.

Malicorne repeated to her so often his protestation of indifference,

that she finished, sometimes, by believing him; and then she believed

she detested Malicorne. If she tried to bring him back by coquetry,

Malicorne played the coquette better than she could. But what made

Montalais hold to Malicorne in an indissoluble fashion, was that

Malicorne always came cram full of fresh news from the court and the

city; Malicorne always brought to Blois a fashion, a secret, or a

perfume; that Malicorne never asked for a meeting, but, on the contrary,

required to be supplicated to receive the favors he burned to obtain. On

her side, Montalais was no miser with stories. By her means, Malicorne

learnt all that passed at Blois, in the family of the dowager Madame;

and he related to Manicamp tales that made him ready to die with

laughing, which the latter, out of idleness, took ready-made to M. de

Guiche, who carried them to Monsieur.

Such, in two words, was the woof of petty interests and petty

conspiracies which united Blois with Orleans, and Orleans with Pairs;

and which was about to bring into the last named city where she was to

produce so great a revolution, the poor little La Valliere, who was far

from suspecting, as she returned joyfully, leaning on the arm of her

mother, for what a strange future she was reserved. As to the good

man, Malicorne--we speak of the syndic of Orleans--he did not see more

clearly into the present than others did into the future; and had no

suspicion as he walked, every day, between three and five o’clock, after

his dinner, upon the Place Sainte-Catherine, in his gray coat, cut

after the fashion of Louis XIII. and his cloth shoes with great knots of

ribbon, that it was he who was paying for all those bursts of laughter,

all those stolen kisses, all those whisperings, all those little

keepsakes, and all those bubble projects which formed a chain of

forty-five leagues in length, from the palais of Blois to the Palais

Royal.

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