“Have I any need to tell you so? Have you not perceived it?”

“Yes; but you know the prouder hearts are, the more difficult they are to be won.”

“Oh, difficulties do not frighten me,” said D’Artagnan. “I shrink before nothing but impossibilities.”

“Nothing is impossible,” replied milady, “to true love.”

“Nothing, madame?”

“Nothing,” repeated milady.

D’Artagnan impetuously drew his seat nearer to milady’s.

“Well, now,” she said, “let us see what you should do to prove this love of which you speak.”

“All that could be required of me. Order; I am ready.”

Milady remained thoughtful and apparently undecided for a moment; then, as if appearing to have formed a resolution,

“I have an enemy,” said she.

“You, madame!” said D’Artagnan, affecting surprise; “is it possible? Heavens! good and beautiful as you are!”

“A mortal enemy.”


“An enemy who has insulted me so cruelly that between him and me it is war to the death. May I count on you as my ally?”

D’Artagnan at once perceived what the vindictive creature was aiming at.

“You may, madame,” said he, with emphasis. “My arm and my life are yours, as my love is.”

“But,” said milady, “how shall I repay such a service? I know what lovers are: they are men who will not do anything for nothing.”

“You know the only reply that I desire,” said D’Artagnan—“the only one worthy of you and of me!”

And he drew her gently to him.

She scarcely resisted.

“Selfish man!” cried she, smiling.

“Ah!” cried D’Artagnan, really carried away by the passion this woman had the power to kindle in his heart—“ah! because my happiness appears so incredible to me, and because I am always afraid of seeing it fly away from me like a dream, I am anxious to make a reality of it.”

“Well, deserve this pretended happiness, then!”

“I am at your disposal,” said D’Artagnan.

“I love your devotion,” said milady.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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