Then Milady collected all her energies, murmuring in the depths of her soul the name of Felton the only beam of light that penetrated to her in the hell into which she had fallen; and like a serpent which folds and unfolds its rings to ascertain its strength, she enveloped Felton beforehand in the thousand meshes of her inventive imagination.

"Oh, my God, my God!" cried Milady; "when I supplicate thee to pour upon this man the chastisement which is his due, thou knowest it is not my own vengeance I pursue, but the deliverance of a whole nation that I implore!" "Do you know him, then?" asked Felton. "At length he interrogates me!" said Milady to herself, at the height of joy at having obtained so quickly such a great result.

D'Artagnan departed, scarcely knowing what to think, but as he was a youth who did not easily lose his head, while continuing to pay his court to Milady, he had framed a little plan in his mind. He found Kitty at the gate, and, as on the preceding evening, went up to her chamber. Kitty had been accused of negligence and severely scolded.

Milady looked at him for some time with an expression which the young man took for doubt, but which, however, was nothing but observation, or rather the wish to fascinate. Felton, in his turn a suppliant, clasped his hands. "Well, then," said Milady, "I confide in my brother; I will dare to "

Then catching sight of Lady Randolph at a little distance, she made a dart towards her on her partner's arm. "I am telling Lord Montjoie of my partner at the Hall," she said. "Ah, Milady, let him come and look! How he would clap his hands to see the lights and the flowers. But we could not have our gymnastique with all the people here."

"Well," said Felton, "only promise till you have seen me again. If, when you have seen me again, you still persist well, then you shall be free, and I myself will give you the weapon you desire." "Well," said Milady, "for you I will wait." "Swear." "I swear it, by our God. Are you satisfied?" "Well," said Felton, "till tonight."

"Then you would employ for me your arm which has already acquired so much renown?" "Instantly!" "But on my part," said Milady, "how should I repay such a service? I know these lovers. They are men who do nothing 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 nearer to her. She scarcely resisted.

Is it possible to insult you, madame?" said Athos, laughing; "he has insulted you, and he shall die!" "He shall die!" replied Milady; "she first, and he afterward." Athos was seized with a kind of vertigo. The sight of this creature, who had nothing of the woman about her, recalled awful remembrances.

Athos was a gentleman, punctilious in points of honor; and there were in the plan which our lover had devised for Milady, he was sure, certain things that would not obtain the assent of this Puritan. He was therefore silent; and as Athos was the least inquisitive of any man on earth, d'Artagnan's confidence stopped there.

As he went, his eyes caught the armies of the ivory chessmen; they stood under glass, and had not been broken by her lapdog. Milady, left alone there in her luxurious morning room, sat a while lost in thought.