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33. SOUBRETTE AND MISTRESS (continued)
"Oh, you love her still," said Kitty, who had not taken her eyes off the young man's countenance for an instant.
"No, Kitty, you are mistaken. I do not love her, but I will avenge myself for her contempt."
"Oh, yes, I know what sort of vengeance! You told me that!"
"What matters it to you, Kitty? You know it is you alone whom I love."
"How can I know that?"
"By the scorn I will throw upon her."
D'Artagnan took a pen and wrote:
Madame, Until the present moment I could not believe that it was to me your first two letters were addressed, so unworthy did I feel myself of such an honor; besides, I was so seriously indisposed that I could not in any case have replied to them.
But now I am forced to believe in the excess of your kindness, since not only your letter but your servant assures me that I have the good fortune to be beloved by you.
She has no occasion to teach me the way in which a man of spirit may obtain his pardon. I will come and ask mine at eleven o'clock this evening.
To delay it a single day would be in my eyes now to commit a fresh offense.
From him whom you have rendered the happiest of men, Comte de Wardes
This note was in the first place a forgery; it was likewise an indelicacy. It was even, according to our present manners, something like an infamous action; but at that period people did not manage affairs as they do today. Besides, d'Artagnan from her own admission knew Milady culpable of treachery in matters more important, and could entertain no respect for her. And yet, notwithstanding this want of respect, he felt an uncontrollable passion for this woman boiling in his veins--passion drunk with contempt; but passion or thirst, as the reader pleases.
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