Page:The Man in the Iron Mask.djvu/71

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"You are writing the prologue to the 'Fâcheux,' are you not?"

"No! mordieu! it is Pellisson."

"Ah, Pellisson!" cried La Fontaine, going over to him. "I was fancying," he continued, "that the nymph of Vaux———"

"Ah! beautiful!" cried Loret. "The nymph of Vaux! thank you, La Fontaine; you have just given me the two concluding verses of my paper."

"Well, if you can rhyme so well. La Fontaine," said Pellisson, "tell me now in what way you would begin my prologue?"

"I should say, for instance, 'Oh! nymph, who — ' After 'who' I should place a verb in the second person singular of the present indicative; and should go on thus: 'this grot profound.'"

"But the verb, the verb," asked Pellisson.

"To admire the greatest king of all kings round," continued La Fontaine.

"But the verb, the verb," obstinately insisted Pellisson. "This second person singular of fhe present indicative?"

"Well, then; quittest:

"'O, nymph, who quittest now this grot profound.
To admire the greatest king of all kings round.'"

"You would put 'who quittest,' would you?"

"Why not?"

"'Gentlest,' after 'you who?'"

"Ah! my dear fellow," exclaimed La Fontaine, "you are a shocking pedant!"

"Without counting," said Molière, "that the second verse, 'king of all kings round,' is very weak, my dear La Fontaine."

"Then you see clearly I am nothing but a poor creature — a shufller, as you said."

"I never said so."

'Then, as Loret said."

"And it was not Loret, neither; it was Pellisson."

"Well, Pellisson was right a hundred times over. But what annoys me more than anything, my dear Molière, is, that I fear we shall not have our Epicurean dresses."

"You expected yours, then, for the fête?"

"Yes, for the fête, and then for after the fête. My housekeeper told me that my own is rather faded."