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Title: Ten Years Later
Author: Dumas père, Alexandre, 1802-1870
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Ten Years Later" ***

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TEN YEARS LATER

by Alexandre Dumas



THE VICOMTE DE BRAGELONNE.



Volume I.



CHAPTER 1. The Letter.



Towards the middle of the month of May, in the year 1660, at nine
o'clock in the morning, when the sun, already high in the heavens, was
fast absorbing the dew from the ramparts of the castle of Blois a little
cavalcade, composed of three men and two pages, re-entered the city by
the bridge, without producing any other effect upon the passengers of
the quay beyond a first movement of the hand to the head, as a salute,
and a second movement of the tongue to express, in the purest French
then spoken in France: "There is Monsieur returning from hunting." And
that was all.

Whilst, however, the horses were climbing the steep acclivity which
leads from the river to the castle, several shop-boys approached the
last horse, from whose saddle-bow a number of birds were suspended by
the beak.

On seeing this, the inquisitive youths manifested with rustic freedom
their contempt for such paltry sport, and, after a dissertation among
themselves upon the disadvantages of hawking, they returned to their
occupations; one only of the curious party, a stout, stubby, cheerful
lad, having demanded how it was that Monsieur, who, from his great
revenues, had it in his power to amuse himself so much better, could be
satisfied with such mean diversions.

"Do you not know," one of the standers-by replied, "that Monsieur's
principal amusement is to weary himself?"

The light-hearted boy shrugged his shoulders with a gesture which said
as clear as day: "In that case I would rather be plain Jack than a
prince." And all resumed their labors.

In the meanwhile, Monsieur continued his route with an air at once so
melancholy and so majestic, that he certainly would have attracted the
attention of spectators, if spectators there had been; but the good
citizens of Blois could not pardon Monsieur for having chosen their gay
city for an abode in which to indulge melancholy at his ease, and as
often as they caught a glimpse of the illustrious ennuye, they stole
away gaping, or drew back their heads into the interior of their
dwellings, to escape the soporific influence of that long pale face, of
those watery eyes, and that languid address; so that the worthy prince
was almost certain to find the streets deserted whenever he chanced to
pass through them.

Now, on the part of the citizens of Blois this was a culpable piece of
disrespect, for Monsieur was, after the king--nay, even, perhaps before
the king--the greatest noble of the kingdom. In fact, God, who had
granted to Louis XIV., then reigning, the honor of being son of Louis
XIII., had granted to Monsieur the honor of being son of Henry IV. It
was not then, or, at least it ought not to have been, a trifling source
of pride for the city of Blois, that Gaston of Orleans had chosen it as
his residence, and he his court in the ancient castle of its states.

But it was the destiny of this great prince to excite the attention and
admiration of the public in a very modified degree wherever he might be.
Monsieur had fallen into this situation by habit.

It was not, perhaps, this which gave him that air of listlessness.
Monsieur had been tolerably busy in the course of his life. A man cannot
allow the heads of a dozen of his best friends to be cut off without
feeling a little excitement, and as, since the accession of Mazarin to
power, no heads had been cut off, Monsieur's occupation was gone, and
his morale suffered from it.

The life of the poor prince was, then, very dull. After his little
morning hawking-party on the banks of the Beuvion, or in the woods of
Chiverny, Monsieur crossed the Loire, went to breakfast at Chambord,
with or without an appetite and the city of Blois heard no more of its
sovereign lord and master till the next hawking-day.

So much for the ennui extra muros; of the ennui of the interior we will
give the reader an idea if he will with us follow the cavalcade to the
majestic porch of the castle of the states.

Monsieur rode a little steady-paced horse, equipped with a large saddle
of red Flemish velvet, with stirrups in the shape of buskins; the horse
was of a bay color; Monsieur's pourpoint of crimson velvet corresponded
with the cloak of the same shade and the horse's equipment, and it was
only by this red appearance of the whole that the prince could be known
from his two companions, the one dressed in violet, the other in green.
He on the left, in violet, was his equerry; he on the right, in green,
was the grand veneur.

One of the pages carried two gerfalcons upon a perch, the other a
hunting-horn, which he blew with a careless note at twenty paces from
the castle. Every one about this listless prince did what he had to do
listlessly.

At this signal, eight guards, who were lounging in the sun in the square
court, ran to their halberts, and Monsieur made his solemn entry into
the castle.

When he had disappeared under the shades of the porch, three or four
idlers, who had followed the cavalcade to the castle, after pointing
out the suspended birds to each other, dispersed with comments upon what
they saw: and, when they were gone, the street, the place, and the court
all remained deserted alike.

Monsieur dismounted without speaking a word, went straight to his
apartments, where his valet changed his dress, and as Madame had not
yet sent orders respecting breakfast, Monsieur stretched himself upon
a chaise longue, and was soon as fast asleep as if it had been eleven
o'clock at night.

The eight guards, who concluded their service for the day was over, laid
themselves down very comfortably in the sun upon some stone benches;
the grooms disappeared with their horses into the stables, and, with the
exception of a few joyous birds, startling each other with their sharp
chirping in the tufted shrubberies, it might have been thought that the
whole castle was as soundly asleep as Monsieur was.

All at once, in the midst of this delicious silence, there resounded
a clear ringing laugh, which caused several of the halberdiers in the
enjoyment of their siesta to open at least one eye.

This burst of laughter proceeded from a window of the castle, visited
at this moment by the sun, that embraced it in one of those large
angles which the profiles of the chimneys mark out upon the walls before
mid-day.

The little balcony of wrought iron which advanced in front of this
window was furnished with a pot of red gilliflowers, another pot of
primroses, and an early rose-tree, the foliage of which, beautifully
green, was variegated with numerous red specks announcing future roses.

In the chamber lighted by this window was a square table, covered with
an old large-flowered Haarlem tapestry; in the center of this table
was a long-necked stone bottle, in which were irises and lilies of the
valley; at each end of this table was a young girl.

The position of these two young people was singular; they might have
been taken for two boarders escaped from a convent. One of them, with
both elbows on the table, and a pen in her hand, was tracing characters
upon a sheet of fine Dutch paper; the other, kneeling upon a chair,
which allowed her to advance her head and bust over the back of it to
the middle of the table, was watching her companion as she wrote, or
rather hesitated to write.

Thence the thousand cries, the thousand railleries, the thousand laughs,
one of which, more brilliant than the rest, had startled the birds in
the gardens, and disturbed the slumbers of Monsieur's guards.

We are taking portraits now; we shall be allowed, therefore, we hope, to
sketch the two last of this chapter.

The one who was leaning in the chair--that is to say, the joyous, the
laughing one--was a beautiful girl of from eighteen to twenty, with
brown complexion and brown hair, splendid, from eyes which sparkled
beneath strongly-marked brows, and particularly from her teeth, which
seemed to shine like pearls between her red coral lips. Her every
movement seemed the accent of a sunny nature, she did not walk--she
bounded.

The other, she who was writing, looked at her turbulent companion with
an eye as limpid, as pure, and as blue as the azure of the day. Her
hair, of a shaded fairness, arranged with exquisite taste, fell in silky
curls over her lovely mantling cheeks; she passed across the paper a
delicate hand, whose thinness announced her extreme youth. At each burst
of laughter that proceeded from her friend, she raised, as if annoyed,
her white shoulders in a poetical and mild manner, but they were wanting
in that richfulness of mold which was likewise to be wished in her arms
and hands.

"Montalais! Montalais!" said she at length, in a voice soft and
caressing as a melody, "you laugh too loud--you laugh like a man! You
will not only draw the attention of messieurs the guards, but you will
not hear Madame's bell when Madame rings."

This admonition neither made the young girl called Montalais cease to
laugh and gesticulate. She only replied: "Louise, you do not speak as
you think, my dear; you know that messieurs the guards, as you call
them, have only just commenced their sleep, and that a cannon would not
waken them; you know that Madame's bell can be heard at the bridge
of Blois, and that consequently I shall hear it when my services are
required by Madame. What annoys you, my child, is that I laugh while you
are writing; and what you are afraid of is that Madame de Saint-Remy,
your mother, should come up here, as she does sometimes when we laugh
too loud, that she should surprise us, and that she should see that
enormous sheet of paper upon which, in a quarter of an hour, you have
only traced the words Monsieur Raoul. Now, you are right, my dear
Louise, because after these words, 'Monsieur Raoul,' others may be put
so significant and so incendiary as to cause Madame de Saint-Remy to
burst out into fire and flames! Hein! is not that true now?--say."

And Montalais redoubled her laughter and noisy provocations.

The fair girl at length became quite angry; she tore the sheet of paper
on which, in fact, the words "Monsieur Raoul" were written in good
characters, and crushing the paper in her trembling hands, she threw it
out of the window.

"There! there!" said Mademoiselle de Montalais; "there is our little
lamb, our gentle dove, angry! Don't be afraid, Louise--Madame de
Saint-Remy will not come; and if she should, you know I have a quick
ear. Besides, what can be more permissible than to write to an old
friend of twelve years' standing, particularly when the letter begins
with the words 'Monsieur Raoul'?"

"It is all very well--I will not write to him at all," said the young
girl.

"Ah, ah! in good sooth, Montalais is properly punished," cried the
jeering brunette, still laughing. "Come, come! let us try another sheet
of paper, and finish our dispatch off-hand. Good! there is the bell
ringing now. By my faith, so much the worse! Madame must wait, or else
do without her first maid of honor this morning."

A bell, in fact, did ring; it announced that Madame had finished her
toilette, and waited for Monsieur to give her his hand, and conduct her
from the salon to the refectory.

This formality being accomplished with great ceremony, the husband and
wife breakfasted, and then separated till the hour of dinner, invariably
fixed at two o'clock.

The sound of this bell caused a door to be opened in the offices on the
left hand of the court, from which filed two maitres d'hotel followed by
eight scullions bearing a kind of hand-barrow loaded with dishes under
silver covers.

One of the maitres d'hotel, the first in rank, touched one of the
guards, who was snoring on his bench, slightly with his wand; he even
carried his kindness so far as to place the halbert which stood against
the wall in the hands of the man stupid with sleep, after which the
soldier, without explanation, escorted the viande of Monsieur to the
refectory, preceded by a page and the two maitres d'hotel.

Wherever the viande passed, the soldiers ported arms.

Mademoiselle de Montalais and her companion had watched from their
window the details of this ceremony, to which, by the bye, they must
have been pretty well accustomed. But they did not look so much from
curiosity as to be assured they should not be disturbed. So guards,
scullions, maitres d'hotel, and pages having passed, they resumed their
places at the table; and the sun, which, through the window-frame, had
for an instant fallen upon those two charming countenances, now only
shed its light upon the gilliflowers, primroses, and rosetree.

"Bah!" said Mademoiselle de Montalais, taking her place again; "Madame
will breakfast very well without me!"

"Oh! Montalais, you will be punished!" replied the other girl, sitting
down quietly in hers.

"Punished, indeed!--that is to say, deprived of a ride! That is just
the way in which I wish to be punished. To go out in the grand coach,
perched upon a doorstep; to turn to the left, twist round to the right,
over roads full of ruts, where we cannot exceed a league in two hours;
and then to come back straight towards the wing of the castle in which
is the window of Mary de Medici, so that Madame never fails to say:
'Could one believe it possible that Mary de Medici should have escaped
from that window--forty-seven feet high? The mother of two princes and
three princesses!' If you call that relaxation, Louise, all I ask is to
be punished every day; particularly when my punishment is to remain with
you and write such interesting letters as we write!"

"Montalais! Montalais! there are duties to be performed."

"You talk of them very much at your ease, dear child!--you, who are left
quite free amidst this tedious court. You are the only person that reaps
the advantages of them without incurring the trouble,--you, who are
really more one of Madame's maids of honor than I am, because Madame
makes her affection for your father-in-law glance off upon you; so that
you enter this dull house as the birds fly into yonder court, inhaling
the air, pecking the flowers, picking up the grain, without having the
least service to perform, or the least annoyance to undergo. And you
talk to me of duties to be performed! In sooth, my pretty idler, what
are your own proper duties, unless to write to the handsome Raoul? And
even that you don't do; so that it looks to me as if you likewise were
rather negligent of your duties!"

Louise assumed a serious air, leant her chin upon her hand, and, in a
tone full of candid remonstrance, "And do you reproach me with my good
fortune?" said she. "Can you have the heart to do it? You have a future;
you belong to the court; the king, if he should marry, will require
Monsieur to be near his person; you will see splendid fetes; you will
see the king, who they say is so handsome, so agreeable!"

"Ay, and still more, I shall see Raoul, who attends upon M. le Prince,"
added Montalais, maliciously.

"Poor Raoul!" sighed Louise.

"Now is the time to write to him, my pretty dear! Come, begin again,
with that famous 'Monsieur Raoul' which figures at the top of the poor
torn sheet."

She then held the pen toward her, and with a charming smile encouraged
her hand, which quickly traced the words she named.

"What next?" asked the younger of the two girls.

"Why, now write what you think, Louise," replied Montalais.

"Are you quite sure I think of anything?"

"You think of somebody, and that amounts to the same thing, or rather
even more."

"Do you think so, Montalais?"

"Louise, Louise, your blue eyes are as deep as the sea I saw at Boulogne
last year! No, no, I mistake--the sea is perfidious: your eyes are as
deep as the azure yonder--look!--over our heads!"

"Well, since you can read so well in my eyes, tell me what I am thinking
about, Montalais."

"In the first place, you don't think Monsieur Raoul; you think My dear
Raoul."

"Oh!----"

"Never blush for such a trifle as that! 'My dear Raoul,' we will
say--'You implore me to write to you at Paris, where you are detained by
your attendance on M. le Prince. As you must be very dull there, to seek
for amusement in the remembrance of a provinciale----'"

Louise rose up suddenly. "No, Montalais," said she, with a smile; "I
don't think a word of that. Look, this is what I think;" and she seized
the pen boldly and traced, with a firm hand, the following words:--

"I should have been very unhappy if your entreaties to obtain a
remembrance of me had been less warm. Everything here reminds me of our
early days, which so quickly passed away, which so delightfully flew by,
that no others will ever replace the charm of them in my heart."

Montalais, who watched the flying pen, and read, the wrong way upwards,
as fast as her friend wrote, here interrupted by clapping her hands.
"Capital!" cried she; "there is frankness--there is heart--there is
style! Show these Parisians, my dear, that Blois is the city for fine
language!"

"He knows very well that Blois was a Paradise to me," replied the girl.

"That is exactly what you mean to say; and you speak like an angel."

"I will finish, Montalais," and she continued as follows: "You often
think of me, you say, Monsieur Raoul: I thank you; but that does not
surprise me, when I recollect how often our hearts have beaten close to
each other."

"Oh! oh!" said Montalais. "Beware; my lamb! You are scattering your
wool, and there are wolves about."

Louise was about to reply, when the gallop of a horse resounded under
the porch of the castle.

"What is that?" said Montalais, approaching the window. "A handsome
cavalier, by my faith!"

"Oh!--Raoul!" exclaimed Louise, who had made the same movement as her
friend, and, becoming pale as death, sunk back beside her unfinished
letter.

"Now, he is a clever lover, upon my word!" cried Montalais; "he arrives
just at the proper moment."

"Come in, come in, I implore you!" murmured Louise.

"Bah! he does not know me. Let me see what he has come here for."



CHAPTER 2. The Messenger.



Mademoiselle de Montalais was right; the young cavalier was goodly to
look upon.

He was a young man of from twenty-four to twenty-five years of age, tall
and slender, wearing gracefully the picturesque military costume of the
period. His large boots contained a foot which Mademoiselle de Montalais
might not have disowned if she had been transformed into a man. With one
of his delicate but nervous hands he checked his horse in the middle of
the court, and with the other raised his hat, whose long plumes shaded
his at once serious and ingenuous countenance.

The guards, roused by the steps of the horse, awoke and were on foot
in a minute. The young man waited till one of them was close to his
saddle-bow: then stooping towards him, in a clear, distinct voice, which
was perfectly audible at the window where the two girls were concealed,
"A message for his royal highness," he said.

"Ah, ah!" cried the soldier. "Officer, a messenger!"

But this brave guard knew very well that no officer would appear, seeing
that the only one who could have appeared dwelt at the other side of the
castle, in an apartment looking into the gardens. So he hastened to
add: "The officer, monsieur, is on his rounds, but in his absence, M. de
Saint-Remy, the maitre d'hotel shall be informed."

"M. de Saint-Remy?" repeated the cavalier, slightly blushing.

"Do you know him?"

"Why, yes; but request him, if you please, that my visit be announced to
his royal highness as soon as possible."

"It appears to be pressing," said the guard, as if speaking to himself,
but really in the hope of obtaining an answer.

The messenger made an affirmative sign with his head.

"In that case," said the guard, "I will go and seek the maitre d'hotel
myself."

The young man, in the meantime, dismounted; and whilst the others were
making their remarks upon the fine horse the cavalier rode, the soldier
returned.

"Your pardon, young gentleman; but your name, if you please?"

"The Vicomte de Bragelonne, on the part of his highness M. le Prince de
Conde."

The soldier made a profound bow, and, as if the name of the conqueror
of Rocroy and Sens had given him wings, he stepped lightly up the steps
leading to the ante-chamber.

M. de Bragelonne had not had time to fasten his horse to the iron
bars of the perron, when M. de Saint-Remy came running, out of breath,
supporting his capacious body with one hand, whilst with the other he
cut the air as a fisherman cleaves the waves with his oar.

"Ah, Monsieur le Vicomte! You at Blois!" cried he. "Well, that is a
wonder. Good-day to you--good-day, Monsieur Raoul."

"I offer you a thousand respects, M. de Saint-Remy."

"How Madame de la Vall--I mean, how delighted Madame de Saint-Remy will
be to see you! But come in. His royal highness is at breakfast--must he
be interrupted? Is the matter serious?"

"Yes, and no, Monsieur de Saint-Remy. A moment's delay, however, would
be disagreeable to his royal highness."

"If that is the case, we will force the consigne, Monsieur le Vicomte.
Come in. Besides, Monsieur is in an excellent humor to-day. And then you
bring news, do you not?"

"Great news, Monsieur de Saint-Remy."

"And good, I presume?"

"Excellent."

"Come quickly, come quickly then!" cried the worthy man, putting his
dress to rights as he went along.

Raoul followed him, hat in hand, and a little disconcerted at the noise
made by his spurs in these immense salons.

As soon as he had disappeared in the interior of the palace, the window
of the court was repeopled, and an animated whispering betrayed
the emotion of the two girls. They soon appeared to have formed a
resolution, for one of the two faces disappeared from the window. This
was the brunette; the other remained behind the balcony, concealed by
the flowers, watching attentively through the branches the perron by
which M. de Bragelonne had entered the castle.

In the meantime the object of so much laudable curiosity continued his
route, following the steps of the maitre d'hotel. The noise of quick
steps, an odor of wine and viands, a clinking of crystal and plates,
warned them that they were coming to the end of their course.

The pages, valets and officers, assembled in the office which led up to
the refectory, welcomed the newcomer with the proverbial politeness of
the country; some of them were acquainted with Raoul, and all knew
that he came from Paris. It might be said that his arrival for a moment
suspended the service. In fact, a page, who was pouring out wine for his
royal highness, on hearing the jingling of spurs in the next chamber,
turned round like a child, without perceiving that he was continuing to
pour out, not into the glass, but upon the tablecloth.

Madame, who was not so preoccupied as her glorious spouse was, remarked
this distraction of the page.

"Well?" exclaimed she.

"Well!" repeated Monsieur; "what is going on then?"

M. de Saint-Remy, who had just introduced his head through the doorway,
took advantage of the moment.

"Why am I to be disturbed?" said Gaston, helping himself to a thick
slice of one of the largest salmon that had ever ascended the Loire to
be captured between Painboeuf and Saint-Nazaire.

"There is a messenger from Paris. Oh! but after monseigneur has
breakfasted will do; there is plenty of time."

"From Paris!" cried the prince, letting his fork fall. "A messenger from
Paris, do you say? And on whose part does this messenger come?"

"On the part of M. le Prince," said the maitre d'hotel promptly.

Every one knows that the Prince de Conde was so called.

"A messenger from M. le Prince!" said Gaston, with an inquietude that
escaped none of the assistants, and consequently redoubled the general
curiosity.

Monsieur, perhaps, fancied himself brought back again to the happy times
when the opening of a door gave him an emotion, in which every letter
might contain a state secret,--in which every message was connected with
a dark and complicated intrigue. Perhaps, likewise, that great name
of M. le Prince expanded itself, beneath the roofs of Blois, to the
proportions of a phantom.

Monsieur pushed away his plate.

"Shall I tell the envoy to wait?" asked M. de Saint-Remy.

A glance from Madame emboldened Gaston, who replied: "No, no! let him
come in at once, on the contrary. A propos, who is he?"

"A gentleman of this country, M. le Vicomte de Bragelonne."

"Ah, very well! Introduce him, Saint-Remy--introduce him."

And when he had let fall these words, with his accustomed gravity,
Monsieur turned his eyes, in a certain manner, upon the people of his
suite, so that all, pages, officers, and equerries, quitted the service,
knives and goblets, and made towards the second chamber a retreat as
rapid as it was disorderly.

This little army had dispersed in two files when Raoul de Bragelonne,
preceded by M. de Saint-Remy, entered the refectory.

The short interval of solitude which this retreat had left him,
permitted Monsieur the time to assume a diplomatic countenance. He did
not turn round, but waited till the maitre d'hotel should bring the
messenger face to face with him.

Raoul stopped even with the lower end of the table, so as to be exactly
between Monsieur and Madame. From this place he made a profound bow to
Monsieur and a very humble one to Madame; then, drawing himself up into
military pose, he waited for Monsieur to address him.

On his part the Prince waited till the doors were hermetically closed;
he would not turn round to ascertain the fact, as that would have been
derogatory to his dignity, but he listened with all his ears for the
noise of the lock, which would promise him at least an appearance of
secrecy.

The doors being closed, Monsieur raised his eyes towards the vicomte,
and said, "It appears that you come from Paris, monsieur?"

"This minute, monseigneur."

"How is the king?"

"His majesty is in perfect health, monseigneur."

"And my sister-in-law?"

"Her majesty the queen-mother still suffers from the complaint in her
chest, but for the last month she has been rather better."

"Somebody told me you came on the part of M. le Prince. They must have
been mistaken, surely?"

"No, monseigneur; M. le Prince has charged me to convey this letter to
your royal highness, and I am to wait for an answer to it."

Raoul had been a little annoyed by this cold and cautious reception, and
his voice insensibly sank to a low key.

The prince forgot that he was the cause of this apparent mystery, and
his fears returned.

He received the letter from the Prince de Conde with a haggard look,
unsealed it as he would have unsealed a suspicious packet, and in order
to read it so that no one should remark the effects of it upon his
countenance, he turned round.

Madame followed, with an anxiety almost equal to that of the prince,
every maneuver of her august husband.

Raoul, impassible, and a little disengaged by the attention of his
hosts, looked from his place through the open window at the gardens and
the statues which peopled them.

"Well!" cried Monsieur, all at once, with a cheerful smile; "here is
an agreeable surprise, and a charming letter from M. le Prince. Look,
Madame!"

The table was too large to allow the arm of the prince to reach the hand
of Madame; Raoul sprang forward to be their intermediary, and did it
with so good a grace as to procure a flattering acknowledgment from the
princess.

"You know the contents of this letter, no doubt?" said Gaston to Raoul.

"Yes, monseigneur; M. le Prince at first gave me the message verbally,
but upon reflection his highness took up his pen."

"It is beautiful writing," said Madame, "but I cannot read it."

"Will you read it to Madame, M. de Bragelonne?" said the duke.

"Yes, read it, if you please, monsieur."

Raoul began to read, Monsieur giving again all his attention. The letter
was conceived in these terms:



"Monseigneur--The king is about to set out for the frontiers. You are
aware that the marriage of his majesty is concluded upon. The king has
done me the honor to appoint me his marechal-des-logis for this journey,
and as I knew with what joy his majesty would pass a day at Blois, I
venture to ask your royal highness's permission to mark the house you
inhabit as our quarters. If, however, the suddenness of this request
should create to your royal highness any embarrassment, I entreat you to
say so by the messenger I send, a gentleman of my suite, M. le Vicomte
de Bragelonne. My itinerary will depend upon your royal highness's
determination, and instead of passing through Blois, we shall come
through Vendome and Romorantin. I venture to hope that your royal
highness will be pleased with my arrangement, it being the expression of
my boundless desire to make myself agreeable to you."



"Nothing can be more gracious toward us," said Madame, who had more
than once consulted the looks of her husband during the reading of the
letter. "The king here!" exclaimed she, in a rather louder tone than
would have been necessary to preserve secrecy.

"Monsieur," said his royal highness in his turn, "you will offer my
thanks to M. de Conde, and express to him my gratitude for the honor he
has done me."

Raoul bowed.

"On what day will his majesty arrive?" continued the prince.

"The king, monseigneur, will in all probability arrive this evening."

"But how, then, could he have known my reply if it had been in the
negative?"

"I was desired, monseigneur, to return in all haste to Beaugency,
to give counter-orders to the courier, who was himself to go back
immediately with counter-orders to M. le Prince."

"His majesty is at Orleans, then?"

"Much nearer, monseigneur; his majesty must by this time have arrived at
Meung."

"Does the court accompany him?"

"Yes, monseigneur."

"A propos, I forgot to ask you after M. le Cardinal."

"His eminence appears to enjoy good health, monseigneur."

"His nieces accompany him, no doubt?"

"No, monseigneur, his eminence has ordered the Mesdemoiselles de Mancini
to set out for Brouage. They will follow the left bank of the Loire,
while the court will come by the right."

"What! Mademoiselle Mary de Mancini quit the court in that manner?"
asked Monsieur, his reserve beginning to diminish.

"Mademoiselle Mary de Mancini in particular," replied Raoul discreetly.

A fugitive smile, an imperceptible vestige of his ancient spirit of
intrigue, shot across the pale face of the prince.

"Thanks, M. de Bragelonne," then said Monsieur. "You would, perhaps,
not be willing to carry M. le Prince the commission with which I would
charge you, and that is, that his messenger has been very agreeable to
me; but I will tell him so myself."

Raoul bowed his thanks to Monsieur for the honor he had done him.

Monsieur made a sign to Madame, who struck a bell which was placed at
her right hand; M. de Saint-Remy entered, and the room was soon filled
with people.

"Messieurs," said the prince, "his majesty is about to pay me the honor
of passing a day at Blois; I depend upon the king, my nephew, not having
to repent of the favor he does my house."

"Vive le Roi!" cried all the officers of the household with frantic
enthusiasm, and M. de Saint-Remy louder than the rest.

Gaston hung down his head with evident chagrin. He had all his life been
obliged to hear, or rather to undergo this cry of "Vive le Roi!" which
passed over him. For a long time, being unaccustomed to hear it, his
ear had had rest, and now a younger, more vivacious, and more brilliant
royalty rose up before him, like a new and more painful provocation.

Madame perfectly understood the sufferings of that timid, gloomy heart;
she rose from the table, Monsieur imitated her mechanically, and all
the domestics, with a buzzing like that of several bee-hives, surrounded
Raoul for the purpose of questioning him.

Madame saw this movement, and called M. de Saint Remy. "This is not the
time for gossiping, but working," said she, with the tone of an angry
housekeeper.

M. de Saint-Remy hastened to break the circle formed by the officers
round Raoul, so that the latter was able to gain the ante-chamber.

"Care will be taken of that gentleman, I hope," added Madame, addressing
M. de Saint-Remy.

The worthy man immediately hastened after Raoul. "Madame desires
refreshments to be offered to you," said he; "and there is, besides, a
lodging for you in the castle."

"Thanks, M. de Saint-Remy," replied Raoul; "but you know how anxious I
must be to pay my duty to M. le Comte, my father."

"That is true, that is true, Monsieur Raoul; present him, at the same
time, my humble respects, if you please."

Raoul thus once more got rid of the old gentleman, and pursued his way.
As he was passing under the porch, leading his horse by the bridle, a
soft voice called him from the depths of an obscure path.

"Monsieur Raoul!" said the voice.

The young man turned round, surprised, and saw a dark complexioned girl,
who, with a finger on her lip, held out her other hand to him. This
young lady was an utter stranger.



CHAPTER 3. The Interview.



Raoul made one step towards the girl who thus called him.

"But my horse, madame?" said he.

"Oh! you are terribly embarrassed! Go yonder way--there is a shed in the
outer court: fasten your horse, and return quickly!"

"I obey, madame."

Raoul was not four minutes in performing what he had been directed to
do; he returned to the little door, where, in the gloom, he found his
mysterious conductress waiting for him, on the first steps of a winding
staircase.

"Are you brave enough to follow me, monsieur knight errant?" asked the
girl, laughing at the momentary hesitation Raoul had manifested.

The latter replied by springing up the dark staircase after her. They
thus climbed up three stories, he behind her, touching with his hands,
when he felt for the banister, a silk dress which rubbed against
each side of the staircase. At every false step made by Raoul, his
conductress cried, "Hush!" and held out to him a soft and perfumed hand.

"One would mount thus to the belfry of the castle without being
conscious of fatigue," said Raoul.

"All of which means, monsieur, that you are very much perplexed, very
tired, and very uneasy. But be of good cheer, monsieur; here we are, at
our destination."

The girl threw open a door, which immediately, without any transition,
filled with a flood of light the landing of the staircase, at the top of
which Raoul appeared, holding fast by the balustrade.

The girl continued to walk on--he followed her; she entered a
chamber--he did the same.

As soon as he was fairly in the net he heard a loud cry, and, turning
round, saw at two paces from him, with her hands clasped and her eyes
closed, that beautiful fair girl with blue eyes and white shoulders,
who, recognizing him, called him Raoul.

He saw her, and divined at once so much love and so much joy in the
expression of her countenance, that he sank on his knees in the middle
of the chamber, murmuring, on his part, the name of Louise.

"Ah! Montalais--Montalais!" she sighed, "it is very wicked to deceive me
so."

"Who, I? I have deceived you?"

"Yes; you told me you would go down to inquire the news, and you have
brought up monsieur!"

"Well, I was obliged to do so--how else could he have received the
letter you wrote him?" And she pointed with her finger to the letter
which was still upon the table.

Raoul made a step to take it; Louise, more rapid, although she had
sprung forward with a sufficiently remarkable physical hesitation,
reached out her hand to stop him. Raoul came in contact with that
trembling hand, took it within his own, and carried it so respectfully
to his lips, that he might be said to have deposited a sigh upon it
rather than a kiss.

In the meantime Mademoiselle de Montalais had taken the letter, folded
it carefully, as women do, in three folds, and slipped it into her
bosom.

"Don't be afraid, Louise," said she; "monsieur will no more venture to
take it hence than the defunct king Louis XIII. ventured to take billets
from the corsage of Mademoiselle de Hautefort."

Raoul blushed at seeing the smile of the two girls; and he did not
remark that the hand of Louise remained in his.

"There," said Montalais, "you have pardoned me, Louise, for having
brought monsieur to you; and you, monsieur, bear me no malice for having
followed me to see mademoiselle. Now, then, peace being made, let us
chat like old friends. Present me, Louise, to M. de Bragelonne."

"Monsieur le Vicomte," said Louise, with her quiet grace and ingenuous
smile, "I have the honour to present to you Mademoiselle Aure de
Montalais, maid of honor to her royal highness Madame, and moreover my
friend--my excellent friend."

Raoul bowed ceremoniously.

"And me, Louise," said he--"will you not present me also to
mademoiselle?"

"Oh, she knows you--she knows all!"

This unguarded expression made Montalais laugh and Raoul sigh with
happiness, for he interpreted it thus: "She knows all our love."

"The ceremonies being over, Monsieur le Vicomte," said Montalais, "take
a chair, and tell us quickly the news you bring flying thus."

"Mademoiselle, it is no longer a secret; the king, on his way to
Poitiers, will stop at Blois, to visit his royal highness."

"The king here!" exclaimed Montalais, clapping her hands. "What! are we
going to see the court? Only think, Louise--the real court from Paris!
Oh, good heavens! But when will this happen, monsieur?"

"Perhaps this evening, mademoiselle; at latest, tomorrow."

Montalais lifted her shoulders in sign of vexation.

"No time to get ready! No time to prepare a single dress! We are as far
behind the fashions as the Poles. We shall look like portraits of the
time of Henry IV. Ah, monsieur! this is sad news you bring us!"

"But, mesdemoiselles, you will be still beautiful!"

"That's no news! Yes, we shall be always beautiful because nature has
made us passable; but we shall be ridiculous, because the fashion will
have forgotten us. Alas! ridiculous! I shall be thought ridiculous--I!

"And by whom?" said Louise, innocently.

"By whom? You are a strange girl, my dear. Is that a question to put
to me? I mean everybody; I mean the courtiers, the nobles; I mean the
king."

"Pardon me, my good friend, but as here every one is accustomed to see
us as we are----"

"Granted; but that is about to change, and we shall be ridiculous, even
for Blois; for close to us will be seen the fashions from Paris, and
they will perceive that we are in the fashion of Blois! It is enough to
make one despair!"

"Console yourself, mademoiselle."

"Well, so let it be! After all, so much the worse for those who do not
find me to their taste!" said Montalais philosophically.

"They would be very difficult to please," replied Raoul, faithful to his
regular system of gallantry.

"Thank you, Monsieur le Vicomte. We were saying, then, that the king is
coming to Blois?"

"With all the court."

"Mesdemoiselles de Mancini, will they be with them?"

"No, certainly not."

"But as the king, it is said, cannot do without Mademoiselle Mary?"

"Mademoiselle, the king must do without her. M. le Cardinal will have it
so. He has exiled his nieces to Brouage."

"He!--the hypocrite!"

"Hush!" said Louise, pressing a finger on her friend's rosy lips.

"Bah! nobody can hear me. I say that old Mazarino Mazarini is a
hypocrite, who burns impatiently to make his niece Queen of France."

"That cannot be, mademoiselle, since M. le Cardinal, on the contrary,
has brought about the marriage of his majesty with the Infanta Maria
Theresa."

Montalais looked Raoul full in the face, and said, "And do you Parisians
believe in these tales? Well! we are a little more knowing than you, at
Blois."

"Mademoiselle, if the king goes beyond Poitiers and sets out for Spain,
if the articles of the marriage contract are agreed upon by Don Luis de
Haro and his eminence, you must plainly perceive that it is not child's
play."

"All very fine! but the king is king, I suppose?"

"No doubt, mademoiselle; but the cardinal is the cardinal."

"The king is not a man, then! And he does not love Mary Mancini?"

"He adores her."

"Well, he will marry her then. We shall have war with Spain. M. Mazarin
will spend a few of the millions he has put away; our gentlemen
will perform prodigies of valor in their encounters with the proud
Castilians, and many of them will return crowned with laurels, to be
recrowned by us with myrtles. Now, that is my view of politics."

"Montalais, you are wild!" said Louise, "and every exaggeration attracts
you as light does a moth."

"Louise, you are so extremely reasonable, that you will never know how
to love."

"Oh!" said Louise, in a tone of tender reproach, "don't you see,
Montalais? The queen-mother desires to marry her son to the Infanta;
would you wish him to disobey his mother? Is it for a royal heart like
his to set such a bad example? When parents forbid love, love must be
banished."

And Louise sighed: Raoul cast down his eyes, with an expression of
constraint. Montalais, on her part, laughed aloud.

"Well, I have no parents!" said she.

"You are acquainted, without doubt, with the state of health of M. le
Comte de la Fere?" said Louise, after breathing that sigh which had
revealed so many griefs in its eloquent utterance.

"No, mademoiselle," replied Raoul, "I have not yet paid my respects to
my father; I was going to his house when Mademoiselle de Montalais so
kindly stopped me. I hope the comte is well. You have heard nothing to
the contrary, have you?"

"No, M. Raoul--nothing, thank God!"

Here, for several instants, ensued a silence, during which two spirits,
which followed the same idea, communicated perfectly, without even the
assistance of a single glance.

"Oh, heavens!" exclaimed Montalais in a fright; "there is somebody
coming up."

"Who can it be?" said Louise, rising in great agitation.

"Mesdemoiselles, I inconvenience you very much. I have, without doubt,
been very indiscreet," stammered Raoul, very ill at ease.

"It is a heavy step," said Louise.

"Ah! if it is only M. Malicorne," added Montalais, "do not disturb
yourselves."

Louise and Raoul looked at each other to inquire who M. Malicorne could
be.

"There is no occasion to mind him," continued Montalais; "he is not
jealous."

"But, mademoiselle--" said Raoul.

"Yes, I understand. Well, he is as discreet as I am."

"Good heavens!" cried Louise, who had applied her ear to the door, which
had been left ajar, "it is my mother's step!"

"Madame de Saint-Remy! Where shall I hide myself?" exclaimed Raoul,
catching at the dress of Montalais, who looked quite bewildered.

"Yes," said she; "yes, I know the clicking of those pattens! It is our
excellent mother. M. le Vicomte, what a pity it is the window looks upon
a stone pavement, and that fifty paces below it."

Raoul glanced at the balcony in despair. Louise seized his arm and held
it tight.

"Oh, how silly I am!" said Montalais, "have I not the robe-of-ceremony
closet? It looks as if it were made on purpose."

It was quite time to act; Madame de Saint-Remy was coming up at a
quicker pace than usual. She gained the landing at the moment when
Montalais, as in all scenes of surprises, shut the closet by leaning
with her back against the door.

"Ah!" cried Madame de Saint-Remy, "you are here, are you, Louise?"

"Yes, madame," replied she, more pale than if she had committed a great
crime.

"Well, well!"

"Pray be seated, madame," said Montalais, offering her a chair, which
she placed so that the back was towards the closet.

"Thank you, Mademoiselle Aure--thank you. Come my child, be quick."

"Where do you wish me to go, madame?"

"Why, home, to be sure; have you not to prepare your toilette?"

"What did you say?" cried Montalais, hastening to affect surprise, so
fearful was she that Louise would in some way commit herself.

"You don't know the news, then?" said Madame de Saint-Remy.

"What news, madame, is it possible for two girls to learn up in this
dove-cote?"

"What! have you seen nobody?"

"Madame, you talk in enigmas, and you torment us at a slow fire!" cried
Montalais, who, terrified at seeing Louise become paler and paler, did
not know to what saint to put up her vows.

At length she caught an eloquent look of her companion's, one of those
looks which would convey intelligence to a brick wall. Louise directed
her attention to a hat--Raoul's unlucky hat, which was set out in all
its feathery splendor upon the table.

Montalais sprang towards it, and, seizing it with her left hand, passed
it behind her into the right, concealing it as she was speaking.

"Well," said Madame de Saint-Remy, "a courier has arrived, announcing
the approach of the king. There, mesdemoiselles; there is something to
make you put on your best looks."

"Quick, quick!" cried Montalais. "Follow Madame your mother, Louise; and
leave me to get ready my dress of ceremony."

Louise arose; her mother took her by the hand, and led her out on to the
landing.

"Come along," said she; then adding in a low voice, "When I forbid you
to come to the apartment of Montalais, why do you do so?"

"Madame, she is my friend. Besides, I had but just come."

"Did you see nobody concealed while you were there?"

"Madame!"

"I saw a man's hat, I tell you--the hat of that fellow, that
good-for-nothing!"

"Madame!" repeated Louise.

"Of that do-nothing De Malicorne! A maid of honor to have such
company--fie! fie!" and their voices were lost in the depths of the
narrow staircase.

Montalais had not missed a word of this conversation, which echo
conveyed to her as if through a tunnel. She shrugged her shoulders on
seeing Raoul, who had listened likewise, issue from the closet.

"Poor Montalais!" said she, "the victim of friendship! Poor Malicorne,
the victim of love!"

She stopped on viewing the tragic-comic face of Raoul, who was vexed at
having, in one day, surprised so many secrets.

"Oh, mademoiselle!" said he; "how can we repay your kindness?"

"Oh, we will balance accounts some day," said she. "For the present,
begone, M. de Bragelonne, for Madame de Saint-Remy is not over
indulgent; and any indiscretion on her part might bring hither a
domiciliary visit, which would be disagreeable to all parties."

"But Louise--how shall I know----"

"Begone! begone! King Louis XI. knew very well what he was about when he
invented the post."

"Alas!" sighed Raoul.

"And am I not here--I, who am worth all the posts in the kingdom? Quick,
I say, to horse! so that if Madame de Saint-Remy should return for
the purpose of preaching me a lesson on morality, she may not find you
here."

"She would tell my father, would she not?" murmured Raoul.

"And you would be scolded. Ah, vicomte, it is very plain you come from
court; you are as timid as the king. Peste! at Blois we contrive better
than that to do without papa's consent. Ask Malicorne else!"

And at these words the girl pushed Raoul out of the room by the
shoulders. He glided swiftly down to the porch, regained his horse,
mounted, and set off as if he had had Monsieur's guards at his heels.



CHAPTER 4. Father and Son.



Raoul followed the well-known road, so dear to his memory, which led
from Blois to the residence of the Comte de la Fere.

The reader will dispense with a second description of that habitation:
he, perhaps, has been with us there before, and knows it. Only, since
our last journey thither, the walls had taken a grayer tint, and the
brickwork assumed a more harmonious copper tone; the trees had grown,
and many that then only stretched their slender branches along the tops
of the hedges, now bushy, strong, and luxuriant, cast around, beneath
boughs swollen with sap, great shadows of blossoms of fruit for the
benefit of the traveler.

Raoul perceived, from a distance, the two little turrets, the dove-cote
in the elms, and the flights of pigeons, which wheeled incessantly
around that brick cone, seemingly without power to quit it, like the
sweet memories which hover round a spirit at peace.

As he approached, he heard the noise of the pulleys which grated under
the weight of the massy pails; he also fancied he heard the melancholy
moaning of the water which falls back again into the wells--a sad,
funereal, solemn sound, which strikes the ear of the child and the
poet--both dreamers--which the English call splash; Arabian poets,
gasgachau; and which we Frenchmen, who would be poets, can only
translate by a paraphrase--the noise of water falling into water.

It was more than a year since Raoul had been to visit his father. He had
passed the whole time in the household of M. le Prince. In fact, after
all the commotions of the Fronde, of the early period of which we
formerly attempted to give a sketch, Louis de Conde had made a public,
solemn, and frank reconciliation with the court. During all the time
that the rupture between the king and the prince had lasted, the prince,
who had long entertained a great regard for Bragelonne, had in vain
offered him advantages of the most dazzling kind for a young man.
The Comte de la Fere, still faithful to his principles of loyalty
and royalty, one day developed before his son in the vaults of Saint
Denis,--the Comte de la Fere, in the name of his son, had always
declined them. Moreover, instead of following M. de Conde in his
rebellion, the vicomte had followed M. de Turenne, fighting for the
king. Then when M. de Turenne, in his turn, had appeared to abandon
the royal cause, he had quitted M. de Turenne, as he had quitted M. de
Conde. It resulted from this invariable line of conduct that, as Conde
and Turenne had never been conquerors of each other but under the
standard of the king, Raoul, however young, had ten victories inscribed
on his list of services, and not one defeat from which his bravery or
conscience had to suffer.

Raoul, therefore, had, in compliance with the wish of his father, served
obstinately and passively the fortunes of Louis XIV., in spite of the
tergiversations which were endemic, and, it might be said, inevitable,
at that period.

M. de Conde, on being restored to favor, had at once availed himself
of all the privileges of the amnesty to ask for many things back again
which had been granted him before, and among others, Raoul. M. de la
Fere, with his invariable good sense, had immediately sent him again to
the prince.

A year, then, had passed away since the separation of the father and
son; a few letters had softened, but not removed, the pains of absence.
We have seen that Raoul had left at Blois another love in addition to
filial love. But let us do him this justice--if it had not been for
chance and Mademoiselle de Montalais, two great temptations, Raoul,
after delivering his message, would have galloped off towards his
father's house, turning his head round, perhaps, but without stopping
for a single instant, even if Louise had held out her arms to him.

So the first part of the journey was given by Raoul to regretting the
past which he had been forced to quit so quickly, that is to say, his
lady-love; and the other part to the friend he was about to join, so
much too slowly for his wishes.

Raoul found the garden-gate open, and rode straight in, without
regarding the long arms, raised in anger, of an old man dressed in a
jacket of violet-colored wool, and a large cap of faded velvet.

The old man, who was weeding with his hands a bed of dwarf roses and
marguerites, was indignant at seeing a horse thus traversing his sanded
and nicely-raked walks. He even ventured a vigorous "Humph!" which made
the cavalier turn round. Then there was a change of scene; for no sooner
had he caught sight of Raoul's face, than the old man sprang up and set
off in the direction of the house, amidst interrupted growlings, which
appeared to be paroxysms of wild delight.

When arrived at the stables, Raoul gave his horse to a little lackey,
and sprang up the perron with an ardor that would have delighted the
heart of his father.

He crossed the ante-chamber, the dining-room, and the salon, without
meeting with any one; at length, on reaching the door of M. de la Fere's
apartment, he rapped impatiently, and entered almost without waiting for
the word "Enter!" which was vouchsafed him by a voice at once sweet and
serious. The comte was seated at a table covered with papers and books;
he was still the noble, handsome gentleman of former days, but time had
given to this nobleness and beauty a more solemn and distinct character.
A brow white and void of wrinkles, beneath his long hair, now more white
than black; an eye piercing and mild, under the lids of a young man;
his mustache, fine but slightly grizzled, waved over lips of a pure and
delicate model, as if they had never been curled by mortal passions; a
form straight and supple; an irreproachable but thin hand--this was what
remained of the illustrious gentleman whom so many illustrious mouths
had praised under the name of Athos. He was engaged in correcting the
pages of a manuscript book, entirely filled by his own hand.

Raoul seized his father by the shoulders, by the neck, as he could,
and embraced him so tenderly and so rapidly, that the comte had neither
strength nor time to disengage himself, or to overcome his paternal
emotions.

"What! you here, Raoul,--you! Is it possible?" said he.

"Oh, monsieur, monsieur, what joy to see you once again!"

"But you don't answer me, vicomte. Have you leave of absence, or has
some misfortune happened at Paris?"

"Thank God, monsieur," replied Raoul, calming himself by degrees,
"nothing has happened but what is fortunate. The king is going to be
married, as I had the honor of informing you in my last letter, and, on
his way to Spain, he will pass through Blois."

"To pay a visit to Monsieur?"

"Yes, monsieur le comte. So, fearing to find him unprepared, or wishing
to be particularly polite to him, monsieur le prince sent me forward to
have the lodgings ready."

"You have seen Monsieur?" asked the vicomte, eagerly.

"I have had that honor."

"At the castle?"

"Yes, monsieur," replied Raoul, casting down his eyes, because, no
doubt, he had felt there was something more than curiosity in the
comte's inquiries.

"Ah, indeed, vicomte? Accept my compliments thereupon."

Raoul bowed.

"But you have seen some one else at Blois?"

"Monsieur, I saw her royal highness, Madame."

"That's very well: but it is not Madame that I mean."

Raoul colored deeply, but made no reply.

"You do not appear to understand me, monsieur le vicomte," persisted M.
de la Fere, without accenting his words more strongly, but with a rather
severer look.

"I understand you quite plainly, monsieur," replied Raoul, "and if I
hesitate a little in my reply, you are well assured I am not seeking for
a falsehood."

"No, you cannot tell a lie, and that makes me so astonished you should
be so long in saying yes or no."

"I cannot answer you without understanding you very well, and if I have
understood you, you will take my first words in ill part. You will be
displeased, no doubt, monsieur le comte, because I have seen----"

"Mademoiselle de la Valliere--have you not?"

"It was of her you meant to speak, I know very well, monsieur," said
Raoul, with inexpressible sweetness.

"And I asked you if you have seen her."

"Monsieur, I was ignorant, when I entered the castle, that Mademoiselle
de la Valliere was there; it was only on my return, after I had
performed my mission, that chance brought us together. I have had the
honor of paying my respects to her."

"But what do you call the chance that led you into the presence of
Mademoiselle de la Valliere?"

"Mademoiselle de Montalais, monsieur."

"And who is Mademoiselle de Montalais?"

"A young lady I did not know before, whom I had never seen. She is maid
of honor to Madame."

"Monsieur le vicomte, I will push my interrogatory no further, and
reproach myself with having carried it so far. I had desired you
to avoid Mademoiselle de la Valliere, and not to see her without my
permission. Oh, I am quite sure you have told me the truth, and that you
took no measures to approach her. Chance has done me this injury; I do
not accuse you of it. I will be content then, with what I formerly
said to you concerning this young lady. I do not reproach her with
anything--God is my witness! only it is not my intention or wish that
you should frequent her place of residence. I beg you once more, my dear
Raoul, to understand that."

It was plain the limpid eyes of Raoul were troubled at this speech.

"Now, my friend," said the comte, with his soft smile, and in his
customary tone, "let us talk of other matters. You are returning,
perhaps, to your duty?"

"No, monsieur, I have no duty for to-day, except the pleasure of
remaining with you. The prince kindly appointed me no other: which was
so much in accord with my wish."

"Is the king well?"

"Perfectly."

"And monsieur le prince also?"

"As usual, monsieur."

The comte forgot to inquire after Mazarin; that was an old habit.

"Well, Raoul, since you are entirely mine, I will give up my whole day
to you. Embrace me--again, again! You are at home, vicomte! Ah, there
is our old Grimaud! Come in, Grimaud: monsieur le vicomte is desirous of
embracing you likewise."

The good old man did not require to be twice told; he rushed in with
open arms, Raoul meeting him halfway.

"Now, if you please, we will go into the garden, Raoul. I will show
you the new lodging I have had prepared for you during your leave of
absence, and whilst examining the last winter's plantations and two
saddle-horses I have just acquired, you will give me all the news of our
friends in Paris."

The comte closed his manuscript, took the young man's arm, and went out
into the garden with him.

Grimaud looked at Raoul with a melancholy air as the young man passed
out; observing that his head nearly touched the traverse of the doorway,
stroking his white royale, he slowly murmured:

"How he has grown!"



CHAPTER 5. In which Something will be said of Cropoli--of Cropoli and of
a Great Unknown Painter.



Whilst the Comte de la Fere with Raoul visits the new buildings he
has had erected, and the new horses he has bought, with the reader's
permission we will lead him back to the city of Blois, and make him a
witness of the unaccustomed activity which pervades that city.

It was in the hotels that the surprise of the news brought by Raoul was
most sensibly felt.

In fact, the king and the court at Blois, that is to say, a hundred
horsemen, ten carriages, two hundred horses, as many lackeys as
masters--where was this crowd to be housed? Where were to be lodged all
the gentry of the neighborhood, who would gather in two or three
hours after the news had enlarged the circle of its report, like the
increasing circumference produced by a stone thrown into a placid lake?

Blois, as peaceful in the morning, as we have seen, as the calmest lake
in the world, at the announcement of the royal arrival, was suddenly
filled with the tumult and buzzing of a swarm of bees.

All the servants of the castle, under the inspection of the officers,
were sent into the city in quest of provisions, and ten horsemen
were dispatched to the preserves of Chambord to seek for game, to the
fisheries of Beuvion for fish, and to the gardens of Chaverny for fruits
and flowers.

Precious tapestries, and lusters with great gilt chains, were drawn from
the cupboards; an army of the poor were engaged in sweeping the courts
and washing the stone fronts, whilst their wives went in droves to the
meadows beyond the Loire, to gather green boughs and field-flowers. The
whole city, not to be behind in this luxury of cleanliness, assumed its
best toilette with the help of brushes, brooms, and water.

The kennels of the upper town, swollen by these continued lotions,
became rivers at the bottom of the city, and the pavement, generally
very muddy, it must be allowed, took a clean face, and absolutely shone
in the friendly rays of the sun.

Next the music was to be provided; drawers were emptied; the
shop-keepers did a glorious trade in wax, ribbons, and sword-knots;
housekeepers laid in stores of bread, meat, and spices. Already numbers
of the citizens whose houses were furnished as if for a siege, having
nothing more to do, donned their festive clothes and directed their
course towards the city gate, in order to be the first to signal or see
the cortege. They knew very well that the king would not arrive before
night, perhaps not before the next morning. Yet what is expectation but
a kind of folly, and what is that folly but an excess of hope?

In the lower city, at scarcely a hundred paces from the Castle of the
States, between the mall and the castle, in a sufficiently handsome
street, then called Rue Vieille, and which must, in fact, have been very
old, stood a venerable edifice, with pointed gables, of squat but large
dimensions, ornamented with three windows looking into the street on the
first floor, with two in the second and with a little oeil de boeuf in
the third.

On the sides of this triangle had recently been constructed a
parallelogram of considerable size, which encroached upon the street
remorselessly, according to the familiar uses of the building of that
period. The street was narrowed by a quarter by it, but then the house
was enlarged by a half; and was not that a sufficient compensation?

Tradition said that this house with the pointed gables was inhabited,
in the time of Henry III., by a councilor of state whom Queen Catherine
came, some say to visit, and others to strangle. However that may
be, the good lady must have stepped with a circumspect foot over the
threshold of this building.

After the councilor had died--whether by strangulation or naturally is
of no consequence--the house had been sold, then abandoned, and lastly
isolated from the other houses of the street. Towards the middle of the
reign of Louis XIII. only, an Italian, named Cropoli, escaped from the
kitchens of the Marquis d'Ancre, came and took possession of this
house. There he established a little hostelry, in which was fabricated
a macaroni so delicious that people came from miles round to fetch it or
eat it.

So famous had the house become for it, that when Mary de Medici was a
prisoner, as we know, in the castle of Blois, she once sent for some.

It was precisely on the day she had escaped by the famous window. The
dish of macaroni was left upon the table, only just tasted by the royal
mouth.

This double favor, of a strangulation and a macaroni, conferred upon the
triangular house, gave poor Cropoli a fancy to grace his hostelry with
a pompous title. But his quality of an Italian was no recommendation in
these times, and his small, well-concealed fortune forbade attracting
too much attention.

When he found himself about to die, which happened in 1643, just after
the death of Louis XIII., he called to him his son, a young cook
of great promise, and with tears in his eyes, he recommended him to
preserve carefully the secret of the macaroni, to Frenchify his name,
and at length, when the political horizon should be cleared from the
clouds which obscured it--this was practiced then as in our day, to
order of the nearest smith a handsome sign, upon which a famous painter,
whom he named, should design two queens' portraits, with these words as
a legend: "To The Medici."

The worthy Cropoli, after these recommendations, had only sufficient
time to point out to his young successor a chimney, under the slab of
which he had hidden a thousand ten-franc pieces, and then expired.

Cropoli the younger, like a man of good heart, supported the loss with
resignation, and the gain without insolence. He began by accustoming the
public to sound the final i of his name so little, that by the aid of
general complaisance, he was soon called nothing but M. Cropole, which
is quite a French name. He then married, having had in his eye a little
French girl, from whose parents he extorted a reasonable dowry by
showing them what there was beneath the slab of the chimney.

These two points accomplished, he went in search of the painter who was
to paint the sign; and he was soon found. He was an old Italian, a rival
of the Raphaels and the Caracci, but an unfortunate rival. He said he
was of the Venetian school, doubtless from his fondness for color. His
works, of which he had never sold one, attracted the eye at a distance
of a hundred paces; but they so formidably displeased the citizens, that
he had finished by painting no more.

He boasted of having painted a bath-room for Madame la Marechale
d'Ancre, and mourned over this chamber having been burnt at the time of
the marechal's disaster.

Cropoli, in his character of a compatriot, was indulgent towards
Pittrino, which was the name of the artist. Perhaps he had seen the
famous pictures of the bath-room. Be this as it may, he held in such
esteem, we may say in such friendship, the famous Pittrino, that he took
him in his own house.

Pittrino, grateful, and fed with macaroni, set about propagating the
reputation of this national dish, and from the time of its founder,
he had rendered, with his indefatigable tongue, signal services to the
house of Cropoli.

As he grew old he attached himself to the son as he had done to the
father, and by degrees became a kind of overlooker of a house in which
his remarkable integrity, his acknowledged sobriety, and a thousand
other virtues useless to enumerate, gave him an eternal place by the
fireside, with a right of inspection over the domestics. Besides this,
it was he who tasted the macaroni, to maintain the pure flavor of the
ancient tradition; and it must be allowed that he never permitted a
grain of pepper too much, or an atom of parmesan too little. His joy
was at its height on that day when called upon to share the secret of
Cropoli the younger, and to paint the famous sign.

He was seen at once rummaging with ardor in an old box, in which he
found some brushes, a little gnawed by the rats, but still passable;
some colors in bladders almost dried up; some linseed-oil in a bottle,
and a palette which had formerly belonged to Bronzino, that dieu de
la pittoure, as the ultramontane artist, in his ever young enthusiasm,
always called him.

Pittrino was puffed up with all the joy of a rehabilitation.

He did as Raphael had done--he changed his style, and painted, in the
fashion of the Albanian, two goddesses rather than two queens. These
illustrious ladies appeared so lovely on the sign,--they presented
to the astonished eyes such an assemblage of lilies and roses, the
enchanting result of the change of style in Pittrino--they assumed the
poses of sirens so Anacreontically--that the principal echevin, when
admitted to view this capital piece in the salle of Cropole, at once
declared that these ladies were too handsome, of too animated a beauty,
to figure as a sign in the eyes of passers-by.

To Pittrino he added, "His royal highness, Monsieur, who often comes
into our city, will not be much pleased to see his illustrious mother so
slightly clothed, and he will send you to the oubliettes of the state;
for, remember, the heart of that glorious prince is not always tender.
You must efface either the two sirens or the legend, without which I
forbid the exhibition of the sign. I say this for your sake, Master
Cropole, as well as for yours, Signor Pittrino."

What answer could be made to this? It was necessary to thank the echevin
for his kindness, which Cropole did. But Pittrino remained downcast and
said he felt assured of what was about to happen.

The visitor was scarcely gone when Cropole, crossing his arms, said:
"Well, master, what is to be done?"

"We must efface the legend," said Pittrino, in a melancholy tone. "I
have some excellent ivory-black; it will be done in a moment, and we
will replace the Medici by the nymphs or the sirens, whichever you
prefer."

"No," said Cropole, "the will of my father must be carried out. My
father considered----"

"He considered the figures of the most importance," said Pittrino.

"He thought most of the legend," said Cropole.

"The proof of the importance in which he held the figures," said
Pittrino, "is that he desired they should be likenesses, and they are
so."

"Yes; but if they had not been so, who would have recognized them
without the legend? At the present day even, when the memory of the
Blaisois begins to be faint with regard to these two celebrated persons,
who would recognize Catherine and Mary without the words 'To the
Medici'?"

"But the figures?" said Pittrino, in despair; for he felt that young
Cropole was right. "I should not like to lose the fruit of my labor."

"And I should not wish you to be thrown into prison and myself into the
oubliettes."

"Let us efface 'Medici,'" said Pittrino, supplicatingly.

"No," replied Cropole, firmly. "I have got an idea, a sublime idea--your
picture shall appear, and my legend likewise. Does not 'Medici' mean
doctor, or physician, in Italian?"

"Yes, in the plural."

"Well, then, you shall order another sign-frame of the smith; you shall
paint six physicians, and write underneath 'Aux Medici' which makes a
very pretty play upon words."

"Six physicians! impossible! And the composition?" cried Pittrino.

"That is your business--but so it shall be--I insist upon it--it must be
so--my macaroni is burning."

This reasoning was peremptory--Pittrino obeyed. He composed the sign of
six physicians, with the legend; the echevin applauded and authorized
it.

The sign produced an extravagant success in the city, which proves that
poetry has always been in the wrong, before citizens, as Pittrino said.

Cropole, to make amends to his painter-in-ordinary, hung up the nymphs
of the preceding sign in his bedroom, which made Madame Cropole blush
every time she looked at it, when she was undressing at night.

This is the way in which the pointed-gable house got a sign; and this
is how the hostelry of the Medici, making a fortune, was found to be
enlarged by a quarter, as we have described. And this is how there was
at Blois a hostelry of that name, and had for painter-in-ordinary Master
Pittrino.



CHAPTER 6. The Unknown.



Thus founded and recommended by its sign, the hostelry of Master Cropole
held its way steadily on towards a solid prosperity.

It was not an immense fortune that Cropole had in perspective; but he
might hope to double the thousand louis d'or left by his father, to make
another thousand louis by the sale of his house and stock, and at length
to live happily like a retired citizen.

Cropole was anxious for gain, and was half-crazy with joy at the news of
the arrival of Louis XIV.

Himself, his wife, Pittrino, and two cooks, immediately laid hands
upon all the inhabitants of the dove-cote, the poultry-yard, and the
rabbit-hutches; so that as many lamentations and cries resounded in the
yards of the hostelry of the Medici as were formerly heard in Rama.

Cropole had, at the time, but one single traveler in his house.

This was a man of scarcely thirty years of age, handsome, tall, austere,
or rather melancholy, in all his gestures and looks.

He was dressed in black velvet with jet trimmings; a white collar, as
plain as that of the severest Puritan, set off the whiteness of his
youthful neck; a small dark-colored mustache scarcely covered his
curled, disdainful lip.

He spoke to people looking them full in the face without affectation, it
is true, but without scruple; so that the brilliancy of his black eyes
became so insupportable, that more than one look had sunk beneath his
like the weaker sword in a single combat.

At this time, in which men, all created equal by God, were divided,
thanks to prejudices, into two distinct castes, the gentleman and the
commoner, as they are really divided into two races, the black and the
white,--at this time, we say, he whose portrait we have just sketched
could not fail of being taken for a gentleman, and of the best class.
To ascertain this, there was no necessity to consult anything but his
hands, long, slender, and white, of which every muscle, every vein,
became apparent through the skin at the least movement, and eloquently
spoke of good descent.

This gentleman, then, had arrived alone at Cropole's house. He had
taken, without hesitation, without reflection even, the principal
apartment which the hotelier had pointed out to him with a rapacious
aim, very praiseworthy, some will say, very reprehensible will say
others, if they admit that Cropole was a physiognomist and judged people
at first sight.

This apartment was that which composed the whole front of the ancient
triangular house, a large salon, lighted by two windows on the first
stage, a small chamber by the side of it, and another above it.

Now, from the time he had arrived, this gentleman had scarcely touched
any repast that had been served up to him in his chamber. He had spoken
but two words to the host, to warn him that a traveler of the name of
Parry would arrive, and to desire that, when he did, he should be shown
up to him immediately.

He afterwards preserved so profound a silence, that Cropole was almost
offended, so much did he prefer people who were good company.

This gentleman had risen early the morning of the day on which this
history begins, and had placed himself at the window of his salon,
seated upon the ledge, and leaning upon the rail of the balcony, gazing
sadly but persistently on both sides of the street, watching, no doubt,
for the arrival of the traveler he had mentioned to the host.

In this way he had seen the little cortege of Monsieur return from
hunting, then had again partaken of the profound tranquillity of the
street, absorbed in his own expectations.

All at once the movement of the crowd going to the meadows, couriers
setting out, washers of pavement, purveyors of the royal household,
gabbling, scampering shopboys, chariots in motion, hair-dressers on the
run, and pages toiling along, this tumult and bustle had surprised him,
but without losing any of that impassible and supreme majesty which
gives to the eagle and the lion that serene and contemptuous glance
amidst the hurrahs and shouts of hunters or the curious.

Soon the cries of the victims slaughtered in the poultry-yard, the hasty
steps of Madame Cropole up that little wooden staircase, so narrow and
so echoing, the bounding pace of Pittrino, who only that morning
was smoking at the door with all the phlegm of a Dutchman; all this
communicated something like surprise and agitation to the traveler.

As he was rising to make inquiries, the door of his chamber opened. The
unknown concluded they were about to introduce the impatiently expected
traveler, and made three precipitate steps to meet him.

But, instead of the person he expected, it was Master Cropole who
appeared, and behind him, in the half-dark staircase, the pleasant face
of Madame Cropole, rendered trivial by curiosity. She only gave one
furtive glance at the handsome gentleman, and disappeared.

Cropole advanced, cap in hand, rather bent than bowing.

A gesture of the unknown interrogated him, without a word being
pronounced.

"Monsieur," said Cropole, "I come to ask how--what ought I to say: your
lordship, monsieur le comte, or monsieur le marquis?"

"Say monsieur, and speak quickly," replied the unknown, with that
haughty accent which admits of neither discussion nor reply.

"I came, then, to inquire how monsieur had passed the night, and if
monsieur intended to keep this apartment?"

"Yes."

"Monsieur, something has happened upon which we could not reckon."

"What?"

"His majesty Louis XIV. will enter our city to-day and will remain here
one day, perhaps two."

Great astonishment was painted on the countenance of the unknown.

"The King of France coming to Blois?"

"He is on the road, monsieur."

"Then there is the stronger reason for my remaining," said the unknown.

"Very well; but will monsieur keep all the apartments?"

"I do not understand you. Why should I require less to-day than
yesterday?"

"Because, monsieur, your lordship will permit me to say, yesterday I
did not think proper, when you chose your lodging, to fix any price that
might have made your lordship believe that I prejudged your resources;
whilst to-day----"

The unknown colored; the idea at once struck him that he was supposed to
be poor, and was being insulted.

"Whilst to-day," replied he, coldly, "you do prejudge."

"Monsieur, I am a well-meaning man, thank God! and simple hotelier as I
am, there is in me the blood of a gentleman. My father was a servant and
officer of the late Marechal d'Ancre. God rest his soul!"

"I do not contest that point with you; I only wish to know, and that
quickly, to what your questions tend?"

"You are too reasonable, monsieur, not to comprehend that our city is
small, that the court is about to invade it, that the houses will be
overflowing with inhabitants, and that lodgings will consequently obtain
considerable prices."

Again the unknown colored. "Name your terms," said he.

"I name them with scruple, monsieur, because I seek an honest gain, and
that I wish to carry on my business without being uncivil or extravagant
in my demands. Now the room you occupy is considerable, and you are
alone."

"That is my business."

"Oh! certainly. I do not mean to turn monsieur out."

The blood rushed to the temples of the unknown; he darted at poor
Cropole, the descendant of one of the officers of the Marechal d'Ancre,
a glance that would have crushed him down to beneath that famous
chimney-slab, if Cropole had not been nailed to the spot by the question
of his own proper interests.

"Do you desire me to go?" said he. "Explain yourself--but quickly."

"Monsieur, monsieur, you do not understand me. It is very critical--I
know--that which I am doing. I express myself badly, or perhaps, as
monsieur is a foreigner, which I perceive by his accent----"

In fact, the unknown spoke with that impetuosity which is the principal
character of English accentuation, even among men who speak the French
language with the neatest purity.

"As monsieur is a foreigner, I say, it is perhaps he who does not catch
my exact meaning. I wish for monsieur to give up one or two of the
apartments he occupies, which would diminish his expenses and ease my
conscience. Indeed, it is hard to increase unreasonably the price of the
chambers, when one has had the honor to let them at a reasonable price."

"How much does the hire amount to since yesterday?"

"Monsieur, to one louis, with refreshments and the charge for the
horse."

"Very well, and that of to-day?"

"Ah! there is the difficulty. This is the day of the king's arrival; if
the court comes to sleep here, the charge of the day is reckoned. From
that it results that three chambers, at two louis each, makes six louis.
Two louis, monsieur, are not much; but six louis make a great deal."

The unknown, from red, as we have seen him, became very pale.

He drew from his pocket, with heroic bravery, a purse embroidered with
a coat-of-arms, which he carefully concealed in the hollow of his hand.
This purse was of a thinness, a flabbiness, a hollowness, which did not
escape the eye of Cropole.

The unknown emptied the purse into his hand. It contained three double
louis, which amounted to the six louis demanded by the host.

But it was seven that Cropole had required.

He looked, therefore, at the unknown, as much as to say, "And then?"

"There remains one louis, does there not, master hotelier?"

"Yes, monsieur, but----"

The unknown plunged his hand into the pocket of his haut-de-chausses,
and emptied it. It contained a small pocket-book, a gold key, and some
silver. With this change he made up a louis.

"Thank you, monsieur," said Cropole. "It now only remains for me to ask
whether monsieur intends to occupy his apartments to-morrow, in which
case I will reserve them for him; whereas, if monsieur does not mean to
do so, I will promise them to some of the king's people who are coming."

"That is but right," said the unknown, after a long silence, "but as
I have no more money, as you have seen, and as I yet must retain the
apartments, you must either sell this diamond in the city, or hold it in
pledge."

Cropole looked at the diamond so long, that the unknown said, hastily:

"I prefer your selling it, monsieur; for it is worth three hundred
pistoles. A Jew--are there any Jews in Blois?--would give you two
hundred or a hundred and fifty for it--take whatever may be offered for
it, if it be no more than the price of your lodging. Begone!"

"Oh! monsieur," replied Cropole, ashamed of the sudden inferiority
which the unknown reflected upon him by this noble and disinterested
confidence, as well as by the unalterable patience opposed to so
many suspicions and evasions. "Oh, monsieur, I hope people are not so
dishonest at Blois as you seem to think, and that the diamond, being
worth what you say----"

The unknown here again darted at Cropole one of his withering glances.

"I really do not understand diamonds, monsieur, I assure you," cried he.

"But the jewelers do: ask them," said the unknown. "Now I believe our
accounts are settled, are they not, monsieur l'hote?"

"Yes, monsieur, and to my profound regret; for I fear I have offended
monsieur."

"Not at all!" replied the unknown, with ineffable majesty.

"Or have appeared to be extortionate with a noble traveler. Consider,
monsieur, the peculiarity of the case."

"Say no more about it, I desire; and leave me to myself."

Cropole bowed profoundly, and left the room with a stupefied air, which
announced that he had a good heart, and felt genuine remorse.

The unknown himself shut the door after him, and when left alone, looked
mournfully at the bottom of the purse, from which he had taken a small
silken bag containing the diamond, his last resource.

He dwelt likewise upon the emptiness of his pockets, turned over
the papers in his pocket-book, and convinced himself of the state of
absolute destitution in which he was about to be plunged.

He raised his eyes towards heaven, with a sublime emotion of despairing
calmness, brushed off with his hand some drops of sweat which trickled
over his noble brow, and then cast down upon the earth a look which just
before had been impressed with almost divine majesty.

That the storm had passed far from him, perhaps he had prayed in the
bottom of his soul.

He drew near to the window, resumed his place in the balcony, and
remained there, motionless, annihilated, dead, till the moment when, the
heavens beginning to darken, the first flambeaux traversed the enlivened
street, and gave the signal for illumination to all the windows of the
city.



CHAPTER 7. Parry.



Whilst the unknown was viewing these lights with interest, and lending
an ear to the various noises, Master Cropole entered his apartment,
followed by two attendants, who laid the cloth for his meal.

The stranger did not pay them the least attention; but Cropole
approaching him respectfully, whispered "Monsieur, the diamond has been
valued."

"Ah!" said the traveler. "Well?"

"Well, monsieur, the jeweler of S. A. R. gives two hundred and eighty
pistoles for it."

"Have you them?"

"I thought it best to take them, monsieur; nevertheless, I made it a
condition of the bargain, that if monsieur wished to keep his diamond,
it should be held till monsieur was again in funds."

"Oh, no, not at all; I told you to sell it."

"Then I have obeyed, or nearly so, since, without having definitely sold
it, I have touched the money."

"Pay yourself," added the unknown.

"I will do so, monsieur, since you so positively require it."

A sad smile passed over the lips of the gentleman.

"Place the money on that trunk," said he, turning round and pointing to
the piece of furniture.

Cropole deposited a tolerably large bag as directed, after having taken
from it the amount of his reckoning.

"Now," said he, "I hope monsieur will not give me the pain of not taking
any supper. Dinner has already been refused; this is affronting to the
house of les Medici. Look, monsieur, the supper is on the table, and I
venture to say that it is not a bad one."

The unknown asked for a glass of wine, broke off a morsel of bread, and
did not stir from the window whilst he ate and drank.

Shortly after was heard a loud flourish of trumpets; cries arose in the
distance, a confused buzzing filled the lower part of the city, and the
first distinct sound that struck the ears of the stranger was the tramp
of advancing horses.

"The king! the king!" repeated a noisy and eager crowd.

"The king!" cried Cropole, abandoning his guest and his ideas of
delicacy, to satisfy his curiosity.

With Cropole were mingled, and jostled, on the staircase, Madame
Cropole, Pittrino, and the waiters and scullions.

The cortege advanced slowly, lighted by a thousand flambeaux, in the
streets and from the windows.

After a company of musketeers, a closely ranked troop of gentlemen, came
the litter of monsieur le cardinal, drawn like a carriage by four black
horses. The pages and people of the cardinal marched behind.

Next came the carriage of the queen-mother, with her maids of honor at
the doors, her gentlemen on horseback at both sides.

The king then appeared, mounted upon a splendid horse of Saxon breed,
with a flowing mane. The young prince exhibited, when bowing to some
windows from which issued the most animated acclamations, a noble and
handsome countenance, illumined by the flambeaux of his pages.

By the side of the king, though a little in the rear, the Prince de
Conde, M. Dangeau, and twenty other courtiers, followed by their people
and their baggage, closed this veritably triumphant march. The pomp was
of a military character.

Some of the courtiers--the elder ones, for instance--wore traveling
dresses; but all the rest were clothed in warlike panoply. Many wore the
gorges and buff coat of the times of Henry IV. and Louis XIII.

When the king passed before him, the unknown, who had leant forward over
the balcony to obtain a better view, and who had concealed his face
by leaning on his arm, felt his heart swell and overflow with a bitter
jealousy.

The noise of the trumpets excited him--the popular acclamations deafened
him: for a moment he allowed his reason to be absorbed in this flood of
lights, tumult and brilliant images.

"He is a king!" murmured he, in an accent of despair.

Then, before he had recovered from his sombre reverie all the noise, all
the splendor, had passed away. At the angle of the street there remained
nothing beneath the stranger but a few hoarse, discordant voices,
shouting at intervals, "Vive le Roi!"

There remained likewise the six candles held by the inhabitants of the
hostelry des Medici; that is to say, two for Cropole, two for Pittrino,
and one for each scullion. Cropole never ceased repeating, "How
good-looking the king is! How strongly he resembles his illustrious
father!"

"A handsome likeness!" said Pittrino.

"And what a lofty carriage he has!" added Madame Cropole, already in
promiscuous commentary with her neighbors of both sexes.

Cropole was feeding their gossip with his own personal remarks, without
observing that an old man on foot, but leading a small Irish horse by
the bridle, was endeavoring to penetrate the crowd of men and women
which blocked up the entrance to the Medici. But at that moment the
voice of the stranger was heard from the window.

"Make way, monsieur l'hotelier, to the entrance of your house!"

Cropole turned around, and, on seeing the old man, cleared a passage for
him.

The window was instantly closed.

Pittrino pointed out the way to the newly-arrived guest, who entered
without uttering a word.

The stranger waited for him on the landing; he opened his arms to the
old man and led him to a seat.

"Oh, no, no, my lord!" said he. "Sit down in your presence?--never!"

"Parry," cried the gentleman, "I beg you will; you come from
England--you come so far. Ah! it is not for your age to undergo the
fatigues my service requires. Rest yourself."

"I have my reply to give your lordship, in the first place."

"Parry, I conjure you to tell me nothing; for if your news had been
good, you would not have begun in such a manner; you go about, which
proves that the news is bad."

"My lord," said the old man, "do not hasten to alarm yourself, all
is not lost, I hope. You must employ energy, but more particularly
resignation."

"Parry," said the young man, "I have reached this place through a
thousand snares and after a thousand difficulties; can you doubt
my energy? I have meditated this journey ten years, in spite of all
counsels and all obstacles--have you faith in my perseverance? I have
this evening sold the last of my father's diamonds; for I had nothing
wherewith to pay for my lodging and my host was about to turn me out."

Parry made a gesture of indignation, to which the young man replied by a
pressure of the hand and a smile.

"I have still two hundred and seventy-four pistoles left, and I feel
myself rich. I do not despair, Parry; have you faith in my resignation?"

The old man raised his trembling hands towards heaven.

"Let me know," said the stranger,--"disguise nothing from me--what has
happened?"

"My recital will be short, my lord, but in the name of Heaven do not
tremble so."

"It is impatience, Parry. Come, what did the general say to you?"

"At first the general would not receive me."

"He took you for a spy?"

"Yes, my lord, but I wrote him a letter."

"Well?"

"He read it, and received me, my lord."

"Did that letter thoroughly explain my position and my views?"

"Oh, yes!" said Parry, with a sad smile; "it painted your very thoughts
faithfully."

"Well--then, Parry?"

"Then the general sent me back the letter by an aide-de-camp, informing
me that if I were found the next day within the circumscription of his
command, he would have me arrested."

"Arrested!" murmured the young man. "What! arrest you, my most faithful
servant?"

"Yes, my lord."

"And notwithstanding you had signed the name Parry?"

"To all my letters, my lord; and the aide-de-camp had known me at St.
James's and at Whitehall, too," added the old man with a sigh.

The young man leaned forward, thoughtful and sad.

"Ay, that's what he did before his people," said he, endeavoring to
cheat himself with hopes. "But, privately--between you and him--what did
he do? Answer!"

"Alas! my lord, he sent to me four cavaliers, who gave me the horse with
which you just now saw me come back. These cavaliers conducted me, in
great haste, to the little port of Tenby, threw me, rather than embarked
me, into a fishing-boat, about to sail for Brittany, and here I am."

"Oh!" sighed the young man, clasping his neck convulsively with his
hand, and with a sob. "Parry, is that all?--is that all?"

"Yes, my lord; that is all."

After this brief reply ensued a long interval of silence, broken only by
the convulsive beating of the heel of the young man on the floor.

The old man endeavored to change the conversation; it was leading to
thoughts much too sinister.

"My lord," said he, "what is the meaning of all the noise which preceded
me? What are these people crying 'Vive le Roi!' for? What king do they
mean? and what are all these lights for?"

"Ah! Parry," replied the young man ironically, "don't you know that
this is the King of France visiting his good city of Blois? All those
trumpets are his, all those gilded housings are his, all those gentlemen
wear swords that are his. His mother precedes him in a carriage
magnificently encrusted with silver and gold. Happy mother! His minister
heaps up millions, and conducts him to a rich bride. Then all these
people rejoice, they love their king, they hail him with their
acclamations, and they cry, 'Vive le Roi! Vive le Roi!'"

"Well, well, my lord," said Parry, more uneasy at the turn the
conversation had taken than at the other.

"You know," resumed the unknown, "that my mother and my sister, whilst
all this is going on in honor of the King of France, have neither money
nor bread; you know that I myself shall be poor and degraded within a
fortnight, when all Europe will become acquainted with what you have
told me. Parry, are there not examples in which a man of my condition
should himself----"

"My lord, in the name of Heaven----"

"You are right, Parry, I am a coward, and if I do nothing for myself,
what will God do? No, no, I have two arms, Parry, and I have a sword."
And he struck his arm violently with his hand and took down his sword,
which hung against the wall.

"What are you going to do, my lord?"

"What am I going to do, Parry? What every one in my family does. My
mother lives on public charity, my sister begs for my mother; I have,
somewhere or other, brothers who equally beg for themselves; and I, the
eldest, will go and do as all the rest do--I will go and ask charity!"

And at these words, which he finished sharply with a nervous and
terrible laugh, the young man girded on his sword, took his hat from the
trunk, fastened to his shoulder a black cloak, which he had worn during
all his journey, and pressing the two hands of the old man, who watched
his proceedings with a look of anxiety,--

"My good Parry," said he, "order a fire, drink, eat, sleep, and be
happy; let us both be happy, my faithful friend, my only friend. We are
rich, as rich as kings!"

He struck the bag of pistoles with his clenched hand as he spoke, and
it fell heavily to the ground. He resumed that dismal laugh that had so
alarmed Parry; and whilst the whole household was screaming, singing,
and preparing to install the travelers who had been preceded by their
lackeys, he glided out by the principal entrance into the street, where
the old man, who had gone to the window, lost sight of him in a moment.



CHAPTER 8. What his Majesty King Louis XIV. was at the Age of Twenty-Two



It has been seen, by the account we have endeavored to give of it, that
the entree of King Louis XIV. into the city of Blois had been noisy and
brilliant his young majesty had therefore appeared perfectly satisfied
with it.

On arriving beneath the porch of the Castle of the States, the king met,
surrounded by his guards and gentlemen, with S. A. R. the duke, Gaston
of Orleans, whose physiognomy, naturally rather majestic, had borrowed
on this solemn occasion a fresh luster and a fresh dignity. On her
part, Madame, dressed in her robes of ceremony, awaited, in the interior
balcony, the entrance of her nephew. All the windows of the old castle,
so deserted and dismal on ordinary days, were resplendent with ladies
and lights.

It was then to the sound of drums, trumpets, and vivats, that the young
king crossed the threshold of that castle in which, seventy-two years
before, Henry III. had called in the aid of assassination and treachery
to keep upon his head and in his house a crown which was already
slipping from his brow, to fall into another family.

All eyes, after having admired the young king, so handsome and so
agreeable, sought for that other king of France, much otherwise king
than the former, and so old, so pale, so bent, that people called him
the Cardinal Mazarin.

Louis was at this time endowed with all the natural gifts which make
the perfect gentleman; his eye was brilliant, mild, and of a clear azure
blue. But the most skillful physiognomists, those divers into the soul,
on fixing their looks upon it, if it had been possible for a subject to
sustain the glance of the king,--the most skillful physiognomists, we
say, would never have been able to fathom the depths of that abyss of
mildness. It was with the eyes of the king as with the immense depths of
the azure heavens, or with those more terrific, and almost as sublime,
which the Mediterranean reveals under the keels of its ships in a
clear summer day, a gigantic mirror in which heaven delights to reflect
sometimes its stars, sometimes its storms.

The king was short of stature--he was scarcely five feet two inches: but
his youth made up for this defect, set off likewise by great nobleness
in all his movements, and by considerable address in all bodily
exercises.

Certes, he was already quite a king, and it was a great thing to be a
king in that period of traditional devotedness and respect; but as,
up to that time, he had been but seldom and always poorly shown to the
people, as they to whom he was shown saw him by the side of his mother,
a tall woman, and monsieur le cardinal, a man of commanding presence,
many found him so little of a king as to say,--

"Why, the king is not so tall as monsieur le cardinal!"

Whatever may be thought of these physical observations, which were
principally made in the capital, the young king was welcomed as a god by
the inhabitants of Blois, and almost like a king by his uncle and aunt,
Monsieur and Madame, the inhabitants of the castle.

It must, however, be allowed, that when he saw, in the hall of
reception, chairs of equal height placed for himself, his mother, the
cardinal, and his uncle and aunt, a disposition artfully concealed by
the semicircular form of the assembly, Louis XIV. became red with anger,
and looked around him to ascertain by the countenances of those that
were present, if this humiliation had been prepared for him. But as he
saw nothing upon the impassible visage of the cardinal, nothing on that
of his mother, nothing on those of the assembly, he resigned himself,
and sat down, taking care to be seated before anybody else.

The gentlemen and ladies were presented to their majesties and monsieur
le cardinal.

The king remarked that his mother and he scarcely knew the names of any
of the persons who were presented to them; whilst the cardinal, on the
contrary never failed, with an admirable memory and presence of mind,
to talk to every one about his estates, his ancestors, or his children,
some of whom he named, which enchanted those worthy country gentlemen,
and confirmed them in the idea that he alone is truly king who knows his
subjects, from the same reason that the sun has no rival, because the
sun alone warms and lightens.

The study of the young king, which had begun a long time before, without
anybody suspecting it, was continued then, and he looked around him
attentively to endeavor to make out something in the physiognomies which
had at first appeared the most insignificant and trivial.

A collation was served. The king, without daring to call upon the
hospitality of his uncle, had waited for it impatiently. This time,
therefore, he had all the honors due, if not to his rank, at least to
his appetite.

As to the cardinal, he contented himself with touching with his withered
lips a bouillon, served in a gold cup. The all-powerful minister, who
had taken her regency from the queen, and his royalty from the king, had
not been able to take a good stomach from nature.

Anne of Austria, already suffering from the cancer which six or eight
years after caused her death, ate very little more than the cardinal.

For Monsieur, already puffed up with the great event which had taken
place in his provincial life, he ate nothing whatever.

Madame alone, like a true Lorrainer, kept pace with his majesty; so that
Louis XIV., who, without this partner, might have eaten nearly alone,
was at first much pleased with his aunt, and afterwards with M. de
Saint-Remy, her maitre d'hotel, who had really distinguished himself.

The collation over, at a sign of approbation from M. de Mazarin, the
king arose, and, at the invitation of his aunt, walked about among the
ranks of the assembly.

The ladies then observed--there are certain things for which women are
as good observers at Blois as at Paris--the ladies then observed that
Louis XIV. had a prompt and bold look, which premised a distinguished
appreciator of beauty. The men, on their part, observed that the prince
was proud and haughty, that he loved to look down those who fixed their
eyes upon him too long or too earnestly, which gave presage of a master.

Louis XIV. had accomplished about a third of his review when his ears
were struck with a word which his eminence pronounced whilst conversing
with Monsieur.

This word was the name of a woman.

Scarcely had Louis XIV. heard this word than he heard, or rather
listened to nothing else; and neglecting the arc of the circle which
awaited his visit, his object seemed to be to come as quickly as
possible to the extremity of the curve.

Monsieur, like a good courtier, was inquiring of monsieur le cardinal
after the health of his nieces; he regretted, he said, not having the
pleasure of receiving them at the same time with their uncle; they must
certainly have grown in stature, beauty and grace, as they had promised
to do the last time Monsieur had seen them.

What had first struck the king was a certain contrast in the voices of
the two interlocutors. The voice of Monsieur was calm and natural while
he spoke thus; while that of M. de Mazarin jumped by a note and a half
to reply above the diapason of his usual voice. It might have been said
that he wished that voice to strike, at the end of the salon, any ear
that was too distant.

"Monseigneur," replied he, "Mesdemoiselles de Mazarin have still to
finish their education: they have duties to fulfill, and a position to
make. An abode in a young and brilliant court would dissipate them a
little."

Louis, at this last sentence, smiled sadly. The court was young, it was
true, but the avarice of the cardinal had taken good care that it should
not be brilliant.

"You have nevertheless no intention," replied Monsieur, "to cloister
them or make them bourgeoises?"

"Not at all," replied the cardinal, forcing his Italian pronunciation in
such a manner that, from soft and velvety as it was, it became sharp and
vibrating, "not at all: I have a full and fixed intention to marry them,
and that as well as I shall be able."

"Parties will not be wanting, monsieur le cardinal," replied Monsieur,
with a bonhomie worthy of one tradesman congratulating another.

"I hope not, monseigneur, and with reason, as God has been pleased to
give them grace, intelligence, and beauty."

During this conversation, Louis XIV., conducted by Madame, accomplished,
as we have described, the circle of presentations.

"Mademoiselle Auricule," said the princess, presenting to his majesty a
fat, fair girl of two-and-twenty, who at a village fete might have
been taken for a peasant in Sunday finery,--"the daughter of my
music-mistress."

The king smiled. Madame had never been able to extract four correct
notes from either viol or harpsichord.

"Mademoiselle Aure de Montalais," continued Madame, "a young lady of
rank, and my good attendant."

This time it was not the king that smiled; it was the young lady
presented, because, for the first time in her life, she heard, given to
her by Madame, who generally showed no tendency to spoil her, such an
honorable qualification.

Our old acquaintance Montalais, therefore, made his majesty a profound
courtesy, the more respectful from the necessity she was under of
concealing certain contractions of her laughing lips, which the king
might not have attributed to their real cause.

It was just at this moment that the king caught the word which startled
him.

"And the name of the third?" asked Monsieur.

"Mary, monseigneur," replied the cardinal.

There was doubtless some magical influence in that word, for, as we have
said, the king started at hearing it, and drew Madame towards the middle
of the circle, as if he wished to put some confidential question to her,
but, in reality, for the sake of getting nearer to the cardinal.

"Madame my aunt," said he, laughing, and in a suppressed voice, "my
geography-master did not teach me that Blois was at such an immense
distance from Paris."

"What do you mean, nephew?" asked Madame.

"Why, because it would appear that it requires several years, as regards
fashion, to travel the distance!--Look at those young ladies!"

"Well; I know them all."

"Some of them are pretty."

"Don't say that too loud, monsieur my nephew; you will drive them wild."

"Stop a bit, stop a bit, dear aunt!" said the king, smiling; "for the
second part of my sentence will serve as a corrective to the first.
Well, my dear aunt, some of them appear old and others ugly, thanks to
their ten-year-old fashions."

"But, sire, Blois is only five days, journey from Paris."

"Yes, that is it," said the king: "two years behind for each day."

"Indeed! do you really think so? Well, that is strange! It never struck
me."

"Now, look, aunt," said Louis XIV., drawing still nearer to Mazarin,
under the pretext of gaining a better point of view, "look at that
simple white dress by the side of those antiquated specimens of finery,
and those pretentious coiffures. She is probably one of my mother's
maids of honor, though I don't know her."

"Ah! ah! my dear nephew!" replied Madame, laughing, "permit me to tell
you that your divinatory science is at fault for once. The young lady
you honor with your praise is not a Parisian, but a Blaisoise."

"Oh, aunt!" replied the king with a look of doubt.

"Come here, Louise," said Madame.

And the fair girl, already known to you under that name, approached
them, timid, blushing, and almost bent beneath the royal glance.

"Mademoiselle Louise Francoise de la Baume le Blanc, the daughter of the
Marquise de la Valliere," said Madame, ceremoniously.

The young girl bowed with so much grace, mingled with the profound
timidity inspired by the presence of the king, that the latter lost,
while looking at her, a few words of the conversation of Monsieur and
the cardinal.

"Daughter-in-law," continued Madame, "of M. de Saint-Remy, my maitre
d'hotel, who presided over the confection of that excellent daube
truffee which your majesty seemed so much to appreciate."

No grace, no youth, no beauty, could stand out against such a
presentation. The king smiled. Whether the words of Madame were a
pleasantry, or uttered in all innocency, they proved the pitiless
immolation of everything that Louis had found charming or poetic in the
young girl. Mademoiselle de la Valliere, for Madame and, by rebound,
for the king, was, for a moment, no more than the daughter of a man of a
superior talent over dindes truffees.

But princes are thus constituted. The gods, too, were just like this
in Olympus. Diana and Venus, no doubt, abused the beautiful Alcmena
and poor Io, when they condescended, for distraction's sake, to speak,
amidst nectar and ambrosia, of mortal beauties, at the table of Jupiter.

Fortunately, Louise was so bent in her reverential salute, that she did
not catch either Madame's words or the king's smile. In fact, if the
poor child, who had so much good taste as alone to have chosen to dress
herself in white amidst all her companions--if that dove's heart, so
easily accessible to painful emotions, had been touched by the cruel
words of Madame, or the egotistical cold smile of the king, it would
have annihilated her.

And Montalais herself, the girl of ingenious ideas, would not have
attempted to recall her to life; for ridicule kills beauty even.

But fortunately, as we have said, Louise, whose ears were buzzing, and
her eyes veiled by timidity,--Louise saw nothing and heard nothing; and
the king, who had still his attention directed to the conversation of
the cardinal and his uncle, hastened to return to them.

He came up just at the moment Mazarin terminated by saying: "Mary, as
well as her sisters, has just set off for Brouage. I make them follow
the opposite bank of the Loire to that along which we have traveled; and
if I calculate their progress correctly, according to the orders I have
given, they will to-morrow be opposite Blois."

These words were pronounced with that tact--that measure, that
distinctness of tone, of intention, and reach--which made del Signor
Giulio Mazarini the first comedian in the world.

It resulted that they went straight to the heart of Louis XIV., and
the cardinal, on turning round at the simple noise of the approaching
footsteps of his majesty, saw the immediate effect of them upon the
countenance of his pupil, an effect betrayed to the keen eyes of his
eminence by a slight increase of color. But what was the ventilation of
such a secret to him whose craft had for twenty years deceived all the
diplomatists of Europe?

From the moment the young king heard these last words, he appeared as if
he had received a poisoned arrow in his heart. He could not remain quiet
in a place, but cast around an uncertain, dead, and aimless look over
the assembly. He with his eyes interrogated his mother more than
twenty times: but she, given up to the pleasure of conversing with her
sister-in-law, and likewise constrained by the glance of Mazarin, did
not appear to comprehend any of the supplications conveyed by the looks
of her son.

From this moment, music, lights, flowers, beauties, all became odious
and insipid to Louis XIV. After he had a hundred times bitten his
lips, stretched his legs and his arms like a well-brought-up child
who, without daring to gape, exhausts all the modes of evincing his
weariness--after having uselessly again implored his mother and the
minister, he turned a despairing look towards the door, that is to say,
towards liberty.

At this door, in the embrasure of which he was leaning, he saw, standing
out strongly, a figure with a brown and lofty countenance, an aquiline
nose, a stern but brilliant eye, gray and long hair, a black mustache,
the true type of military beauty, whose gorget, more sparkling than a
mirror, broke all the reflected lights which concentrated upon it, and
sent them back as lightning. This officer wore his gray hat with its
long red plumes upon his head, a proof that he was called there by his
duty, and not by his pleasure. If he had been brought thither by his
pleasure--if he had been a courtier instead of a soldier, as pleasure
must always be paid for at the same price--he would have held his hat in
his hand.

That which proved still better that this officer was upon duty, and was
accomplishing a task to which he was accustomed, was, that he watched,
with folded arms, remarkable indifference, and supreme apathy, the joys
and ennuis of this fete. Above all, he appeared, like a philosopher, and
all old soldiers are philosophers,--he appeared above all to comprehend
the ennuis infinitely better than the joys; but in the one he took his
part, knowing very well how to do without the other.

Now, he was leaning, as we have said, against the carved door-frame when
the melancholy, weary eyes of the king, by chance, met his.

It was not the first time, as it appeared, that the eyes of the officer
had met those eyes, and he was perfectly acquainted with the expression
of them; for, as soon as he had cast his own look upon the countenance
of Louis XIV., and had read by it what was passing in his heart--that is
to say, all the ennui that oppressed him--all the timid desire to go
out which agitated him,--he perceived he must render the king a
service without his commanding it,--almost in spite of himself. Boldly,
therefore, as if he had given the word of command to cavalry in battle,
"On the king's service!" cried he, in a clear, sonorous voice.

At these words, which produced the effect of a peal of thunder,
prevailing over the orchestra, the singing and the buzz of the
promenaders, the cardinal and the queen-mother looked at each other with
surprise.

Louis XIV., pale, but resolved, supported as he was by that intuition
of his own thought which he had found in the mind of the officer of
musketeers, and which he had just manifested by the order given, arose
from his chair, and took a step towards the door.

"Are you going, my son?" said the queen, whilst Mazarin satisfied
himself with interrogating by a look which might have appeared mild if
it had not been so piercing.

"Yes, madame," replied the king; "I am fatigued, and, besides, wish to
write this evening."

A smile stole over the lips of the minister, who appeared, by a bend of
the head, to give the king permission.

Monsieur and Madame hastened to give orders to the officers who
presented themselves.

The king bowed, crossed the hall, and gained the door, where a hedge of
twenty musketeers awaited him. At the extremity of this hedge stood the
officer, impassible, with his drawn sword in his hand. The king passed,
and all the crowd stood on tip-toe, to have one more look at him.

Ten musketeers, opening the crowd of the ante-chambers and the steps,
made way for his majesty. The other ten surrounded the king and
Monsieur, who had insisted upon accompanying his majesty. The domestics
walked behind. This little cortege escorted the king to the chamber
destined for him. The apartment was the same that had been occupied by
Henry III. during his sojourn in the States.

Monsieur had given his orders. The musketeers, led by their officer,
took possession of the little passage by which one wing of the castle
communicates with the other. This passage was commenced by a small
square ante-chamber, dark even in the finest days. Monsieur stopped
Louis XIV.

"You are passing now, sire," said he, "the very spot where the Duc de
Guise received the first stab of the poniard."

The king was ignorant of all historical matters; he had heard of the
fact, but he knew nothing of the localities or the details.

"Ah!" said he with a shudder.

And he stopped. The rest, both behind and before him, stopped likewise.

"The duc, sire," continued Gaston, "was nearly where I stand: he was
walking in the same direction as your majesty; M. de Lorgnes was exactly
where your lieutenant of musketeers is; M. de Saint-Maline and his
majesty's ordinaries were behind him and around him. It was here that he
was struck."

The king turned towards his officer, and saw something like a cloud pass
over his martial and daring countenance.

"Yes, from behind!" murmured the lieutenant, with a gesture of supreme
disdain. And he endeavored to resume the march, as if ill at ease at
being between walls formerly defiled by treachery.

But the king, who appeared to wish to be informed, was disposed to give
another look at this dismal spot.

Gaston perceived his nephew's desire.

"Look, sire," said he, taking a flambeau from the hands of M. de
Saint-Remy, "this is where he fell. There was a bed there, the curtains
of which he tore with catching at them."

"Why does the floor seem hollowed out at this spot?" asked Louis.

"Because it was here the blood flowed," replied Gaston; "the blood
penetrated deeply into the oak, and it was only by cutting it out that
they succeeded in making it disappear. And even then," added Gaston,
pointing the flambeau to the spot, "even then this red stain resisted
all the attempts made to destroy it."

Louis XIV. raised his head. Perhaps he was thinking of that bloody trace
that had once been shown him at the Louvre, and which, as a pendant to
that of Blois, had been made there one day by the king his father with
the blood of Concini.

"Let us go on," said he.

The march was resumed promptly, for emotion, no doubt, had given to the
voice of the young prince a tone of command which was not customary
with him. When arrived at the apartment destined for the king, which
communicated not only with the little passage we have passed through,
but further with the great staircase leading to the court,--

"Will your majesty," said Gaston, "condescend to occupy this apartment,
all unworthy as it is to receive you?"

"Uncle," replied the young king, "I render you my thanks for your
cordial hospitality."

Gaston bowed to his nephew, embraced him, and then went out.

Of the twenty musketeers who had accompanied the king, ten
reconducted Monsieur to the reception-rooms, which were not yet empty,
notwithstanding the king had retired.

The ten others were posted by their officer, who himself explored, in
five minutes, all the localities, with that cold and certain glance
which not even habit gives unless that glance belongs to genius.

Then, when all were placed, he chose as his headquarters the
ante-chamber, in which he found a large fauteuil, a lamp, some wine,
some water: and some dry bread.

He refreshed his lamp, drank half a glass of wine, curled his lip with
a smile full of expression, installed himself in his large armchair, and
made preparations for sleeping.



CHAPTER 9. In which the Unknown of the Hostelry of Les Medici loses his
Incognito.



This officer, who was sleeping, or preparing to sleep, was,
notwithstanding his careless air, charged with a serious responsibility.

Lieutenant of the king's musketeers, he commanded all the company which
came from Paris, and that company consisted of a hundred and twenty men;
but, with the exception of the twenty of whom we have spoken, the other
hundred were engaged in guarding the queen-mother, and more particularly
the cardinal.

Monsignor Giulio Mazarini economized the traveling expenses of his
guards; he consequently used the king's, and that largely, since he took
fifty of them for himself--a peculiarity which would not have failed to
strike any one unacquainted with the usages of that court.

That which would still further have appeared, if not inconvenient, at
least extraordinary, to a stranger, was, that the side of the castle
destined for monsieur le cardinal was brilliant, light and cheerful. The
musketeers there mounted guard before every door, and allowed no one to
enter, except the couriers, who, even while he was traveling, followed
the cardinal for the carrying on of his correspondence.

Twenty men were on duty with the queen-mother; thirty rested, in order
to relieve their companions the next day.

On the king's side, on the contrary, were darkness, silence, and
solitude. When once the doors were closed, there was no longer an
appearance of royalty. All the servitors had by degrees retired.
Monsieur le Prince had sent to know if his majesty required his
attendance; and on the customary "No" of the lieutenant of musketeers,
who was habituated to the question and the reply, all appeared to sink
into the arms of sleep, as if in the dwelling of a good citizen.

And yet it was possible to hear from the side of the house occupied by
the young king the music of the banquet, and to see the windows of the
great hall richly illuminated.

Ten minutes after his installation in his apartment, Louis XIV. had been
able to learn, by movement much more distinguished than marked his own
leaving, the departure of the cardinal, who, in his turn, sought his
bedroom, accompanied by a large escort of ladies and gentlemen.

Besides, to perceive this movement, he had nothing to do but to look out
at his window, the shutters of which had not been closed.

His eminence crossed the court, conducted by Monsieur, who himself held
a flambeau, then followed the queen-mother, to whom Madame familiarly
gave her arm; and both walked chatting away, like two old friends.

Behind these two couples filed nobles, ladies, pages and officers; the
flambeaux gleamed over the whole court, like the moving reflections of
a conflagration. Then the noise of steps and voices became lost in the
upper floors of the castle.

No one was then thinking of the king, who, leaning on his elbow at his
window, had sadly seen pass away all that light, and heard that noise
die off--no, not one, if it was not that unknown of the hostelry des
Medici, whom we have seen go out, enveloped in his cloak.

He had come straight up to the castle, and had, with his melancholy
countenance, wandered round and round the palace, from which the
people had not yet departed; and finding that no one guarded the great
entrance, or the porch, seeing that the soldiers of Monsieur were
fraternizing with the royal soldiers--that is to say swallowing
Beaugency at discretion, or rather indiscretion--the unknown penetrated
through the crowd, then ascended to the court, and came to the landing
of the staircase leading to the cardinal's apartment.

What, according to all probability, induced him to direct his steps that
way, was the splendor of the flambeaux, and the busy air of the pages
and domestics. But he was stopped short by a presented musket and the
cry of the sentinel.

"Where are you going, my friend?" asked the soldier.

"I am going to the king's apartment," replied the unknown, haughtily,
but tranquilly.

The soldier called one of his eminence's officers, who, in the tone
in which a youth in office directs a solicitor to a minister, let fall
these words: "The other staircase, in front."

And the officer, without further notice of the unknown, resumed his
interrupted conversation.

The stranger, without reply, directed his steps towards the staircase
pointed out to him. On this side there was no noise, there were no more
flambeaux.

Obscurity, through which a sentinel glided like a shadow; silence, which
permitted him to hear the sound of his own footsteps, accompanied with
the jingling of his spurs upon the stone slabs.

This guard was one of the twenty musketeers appointed for attendance
upon the king, and who mounted guard with the stiffness and
consciousness of a statue.

"Who goes there?" said the guard.

"A friend," replied the unknown.

"What do you want?"

"To speak to the king."

"Do you, my dear monsieur? That's not very likely."

"Why not?"

"Because the king has gone to bed."

"Gone to bed already?"

"Yes."

"No matter: I must speak to him."

"And I tell you that is impossible."

"And yet----"

"Go back!"

"Do you require the word?"

"I have no account to render to you. Stand back!"

And this time the soldier accompanied his word with a threatening
gesture; but the unknown stirred no more than if his feet had taken
root.

"Monsieur le mousquetaire," said he, "are you a gentleman?"

"I have that honor."

"Very well! I also am one, and between gentlemen some consideration
ought to be observed."

The soldier lowered his arms, overcome by the dignity with which these
words were pronounced.

"Speak, monsieur," said he; "and if you ask me anything in my power----"

"Thank you. You have an officer, have you not?"

"Our lieutenant? Yes, monsieur."

"Well, I wish to speak to him."

"Oh, that's a different thing. Come up, monsieur."

The unknown saluted the soldier in a lofty fashion, and ascended
the staircase; whilst a cry, "Lieutenant, a visit!" transmitted from
sentinel to sentinel, preceded the unknown, and disturbed the slumbers
of the officer.

Dragging on his boots, rubbing his eyes, and hooking his cloak, the
lieutenant made three steps towards the stranger.

"What can I do to serve you, monsieur?" asked he.

"You are the officer on duty, lieutenant of the musketeers, are you?"

"I have that honor," replied the officer.

"Monsieur, I must absolutely speak to the king."

The lieutenant looked attentively at the unknown, and in that look,
however rapid, he saw all he wished to see--that is to say, a person of
high distinction in an ordinary dress.

"I do not suppose you to be mad," replied he; "and yet you seem to me to
be in a condition to know, monsieur, that people do not enter a king's
apartments in this manner without his consent."

"He will consent."

"Monsieur, permit me to doubt that. The king has retired this quarter of
an hour; he must be now undressing. Besides, the word is given."

"When he knows who I am, he will recall the word."

The officer was more and more surprised, more and more subdued.

"If I consent to announce you, may I at least know whom to announce,
monsieur?"

"You will announce His Majesty Charles II., King of England, Scotland,
and Ireland."

The officer uttered a cry of astonishment, drew back, and there might be
seen upon his pallid countenance one of the most poignant emotions that
ever an energetic man endeavored to drive back to his heart.

"Oh, yes, sire; in fact," said he, "I ought to have recognized you."

"You have seen my portrait, then?"

"No, sire."

"Or else you have seen me formerly at court, before I was driven from
France?"

"No, sire, it is not even that."

"How then could you have recognized me, if you have never seen my
portrait or my person?"

"Sire, I saw his majesty your father at a terrible moment."

"The day----"

"Yes."

A dark cloud passed over the brow of the prince; then, dashing his hand
across it, "Do you still see any difficulty in announcing me?" said he.

"Sire, pardon me," replied the officer, "but I could not imagine a
king under so simple an exterior; and yet I had the honor to tell your
majesty just now that I had seen Charles I. But pardon me, monsieur; I
will go and inform the king."

But returning after going a few steps, "Your majesty is desirous,
without doubt, that this interview should be a secret?" said he.

"I do not require it; but if it were possible to preserve it----"

"It is possible, sire, for I can dispense with informing the first
gentleman on duty; but, for that, your majesty must please to consent to
give up your sword."

"True, true; I had forgotten that no one armed is permitted to enter the
chamber of a king of France."

"Your majesty will form an exception, if you wish it; but then I shall
avoid my responsibility by informing the king's attendant."

"Here is my sword, monsieur. Will you now please to announce me to his
majesty?"

"Instantly, sire." And the officer immediately went and knocked at the
door of communication, which the valet opened to him.

"His Majesty the King of England!" said the officer.

"His Majesty the King of England!" replied the valet de chambre.

At these words a gentleman opened the folding-doors of the king's
apartment, and Louis XIV. was seen, without hat or sword, and his
pourpoint open, advancing with signs of the greatest surprise.

"You, my brother--you at Blois!" cried Louis XIV., dismissing with a
gesture both the gentleman and the valet de chambre, who passed out into
the next apartment.

"Sire," replied Charles II., "I was going to Paris, in the hope of
seeing your majesty, when report informed me of your approaching arrival
in this city. I therefore prolonged my abode here, having something very
particular to communicate to you."

"Will this closet suit you, my brother?"

"Perfectly well, sire; for I think no one can hear us here."

"I have dismissed my gentleman and my watcher; they are in the next
chamber. There, behind that partition, is a solitary closet, looking
into the ante-chamber, and in that ante-chamber you found nobody but a
solitary officer, did you?"

"No, sire."

"Well, then, speak, my brother; I listen to you."

"Sire, I commence, and entreat your majesty to have pity on the
misfortunes of our house."

The king of France colored, and drew his chair closer to that of the
king of England.

"Sire," said Charles II., "I have no need to ask if your majesty is
acquainted with the details of my deplorable history."

Louis XIV. blushed, this time more strongly than before; then,
stretching forth his hand to that of the king of England, "My brother,"
said he, "I am ashamed to say so, but the cardinal scarcely ever speaks
of political affairs before me. Still more, formerly I used to get
Laporte, my valet de chambre, to read historical subjects to me, but he
put a stop to these readings, and took away Laporte from me. So that
I beg my brother Charles to tell me all those matters as to a man who
knows nothing."

"Well, sire, I think that by taking things from the beginning I shall
have a better chance of touching the heart of your majesty."

"Speak on, my brother--speak on."

"You know, sire, that being called in 1650 to Edinburgh, during
Cromwell's expedition into Ireland, I was crowned at Scone. A year
after, wounded in one of the provinces he had usurped, Cromwell returned
upon us. To meet him was my object; to leave Scotland was my wish."

"And yet," interrupted the young king, "Scotland is almost your native
country, is it not, my brother?"

"Yes; but the Scots were cruel compatriots for me, sire; they had forced
me to forsake the religion of my fathers; they had hung Lord Montrose,
the most devoted of my servants, because he was not a Covenanter; and as
the poor martyr, to whom they had offered a favor when dying, had asked
that his body might be cut into as many pieces as there are cities
in Scotland, in order that evidence of his fidelity might be met with
everywhere, I could not leave one city, or go into another, without
passing under some fragments of a body which had acted, fought, and
breathed for me.

"By a bold, almost desperate march, I passed through Cromwell's army,
and entered England. The Protector set out in pursuit of this strange
flight, which had a crown for its object. If I had been able to reach
London before him, without doubt the prize of the race would have been
mine; but he overtook me at Worcester.

"The genius of England was no longer with us, but with him. On the 5th
of September, 1651, sire, the anniversary of the other battle of Dunbar,
so fatal to the Scots, I was conquered. Two thousand men fell around me
before I thought of retreating a step. At length I was obliged to fly.

"From that moment my history became a romance. Pursued with persistent
inveteracy, I cut off my hair, I disguised myself as a woodman. One day
spent amidst the branches of an oak gave to that tree the name of the
royal oak, which it bears to this day. My adventures in the county of
Stafford, whence I escaped with the daughter of my host on a pillion
behind me, still fill the tales of the country firesides, and would
furnish matter for ballads. I will some day write all this, sire, for
the instruction of my brother kings.

"I will first tell how, on arriving at the residence of Mr. Norton,
I met with a court chaplain, who was looking on at a party playing at
skittles, and an old servant who named me, bursting into tears, and who
was as near and as certainly killing me by his fidelity as another might
have been by treachery. Then I will tell of my terrors--yes, sire, of
my terrors--when, at the house of Colonel Windham, a farrier who came to
shoe our horses declared they had been shod in the north."

"How strange!" murmured Louis XIV. "I never heard anything of all that;
I was only told of your embarkation at Brighthelmstone and your landing
in Normandy."

"Oh!" exclaimed Charles, "if Heaven permits kings to be thus ignorant
of the histories of each other, how can they render assistance to their
brothers who need it?"

"But tell me," continued Louis XIV., "how, after being so roughly
received in England, you can still hope for anything from that unhappy
country and that rebellious people?"

"Oh, sire! since the battle of Worcester, everything is changed there.
Cromwell is dead, after having signed a treaty with France, in which
his name is placed above yours. He died on the 5th of September, 1658, a
fresh anniversary of the battles of Dunbar and Worcester."

"His son has succeeded him."

"But certain men have a family, sire, and no heir. The inheritance of
Oliver was too heavy for Richard. Richard was neither a republican nor a
royalist; Richard allowed his guards to eat his dinner, and his generals
to govern the republic; Richard abdicated the protectorate on the 22nd
of April, 1659, more than a year ago, sire.

"From that time England is nothing but a tennis-court, in which the
players throw dice for the crown of my father. The two most eager
players are Lambert and Monk. Well, sire, I, in my turn, wish to take
part in this game, where the stakes are thrown upon my royal mantle.
Sire, it only requires a million to corrupt one of these players and
make an ally of him, or two hundred of your gentlemen to drive them out
of my palace at Whitehall, as Christ drove the money-changers from the
temple."

"You come, then," replied Louis XIV., "to ask me----"

"For your assistance, that is to say, not only for that which kings owe
to each other, but that which simple Christians owe to each other--your
assistance, sire, either in money or men. Your assistance, sire, and
within a month, whether I oppose Lambert to Monk, or Monk to Lambert, I
shall have reconquered my paternal inheritance, without having cost my
country a guinea, or my subjects a drop of blood, for they are now all
drunk with revolutions, protectorates, and republics, and ask nothing
better than to fall staggering to sleep in the arms of royalty. Your
assistance, sire, and I shall owe you more than I owe my father,--my
poor father, who bought at so dear a rate the ruin of our house! You may
judge, sire, whether I am unhappy, whether I am in despair, for I accuse
my own father!"

And the blood mounted to the pale face of Charles II., who remained for
an instant with his head between his hands, and as if blinded by that
blood which appeared to revolt against the filial blasphemy.

The young king was not less affected than his elder brother; he threw
himself about in his fauteuil, and could not find a single word of
reply.

Charles II., to whom ten years in age gave a superior strength to master
his emotions, recovered his speech the first.

"Sire," said he, "your reply? I wait for it as a criminal waits for his
sentence. Must I die?"

"My brother," replied the French prince, "you ask me for a million--me,
who was never possessed of a quarter of that sum! I possess nothing. I
am no more king of France than you are king of England. I am a name,
a cipher dressed in fleur-de-lised velvet,--that is all. I am upon a
visible throne; that is my only advantage over your majesty. I have
nothing--I can do nothing."

"Can it be so?" exclaimed Charles II.

"My brother," said Louis, sinking his voice, "I have undergone miseries
with which my poorest gentlemen are unacquainted. If my poor Laporte
were here, he would tell you that I have slept in ragged sheets,
through the holes of which my legs have passed; he would tell you that
afterwards, when I asked for carriages, they brought me conveyances
half-destroyed by the rats of the coach-houses; he would tell you that
when I asked for my dinner, the servants went to the cardinal's kitchen
to inquire if there were any dinner for the king. And look! to-day, this
very day even, when I am twenty-two years of age,--to-day, when I have
attained the grade of the majority of kings,--to-day, when I ought to
have the key of the treasury, the direction of the policy, the supremacy
in peace and war,--cast your eyes around me, see how I am left! Look
at this abandonment--this disdain--this silence!--Whilst yonder--look
yonder! View the bustle, the lights, the homage! There!--there you see
the real king of France, my brother!

"In the cardinal's apartments?"

"Yes, in the cardinal's apartments."

"Then I am condemned, sire?"

Louis XIV. made no reply.

"Condemned is the word; for I will never solicit him who left my mother
and sister to die with cold and hunger--the daughter and grand-daughter
of Henry IV.--if M. de Retz and the parliament had not sent them wood
and bread."

"To die?" murmured Louis XIV.

"Well!" continued the king of England, "poor Charles II., grandson of
Henry IV. as you are, sire, having neither parliament nor Cardinal
de Retz to apply to, will die of hunger, as his mother and sister had
nearly done."

Louis knitted his brow, and twisted violently the lace of his ruffles.

This prostration, this immobility, serving as a mark to an emotion so
visible, struck Charles II., and he took the young man's hand.

"Thanks!" said he, "my brother. You pity me, and that is all I can
require of you in your present situation."

"Sire," said Louis XIV., with a sudden impulse, and raising his head,
"it is a million you require, or two hundred gentlemen, I think you
say?"

"Sire, a million would be quite sufficient."

"That is very little."

"Offered to a single man it is a great deal. Convictions have been
purchased at a much lower price; and I should have nothing to do but
with venalities."

"Two hundred gentlemen! Reflect!--that is little more than a single
company."

"Sire, there is in our family a tradition, and that is, that four men,
four French gentlemen, devoted to my father, were near saving my father,
though condemned by a parliament, guarded by an army and surrounded by a
nation."

"Then if I can procure you a million, or two hundred gentlemen, you will
be satisfied; and you will consider me your well-affectioned brother?"

"I shall consider you as my saviour; and if I recover the throne of
my father, England will be, as long as I reign at least, a sister to
France, as you will have been a brother to me."

"Well, my brother," said Louis, rising, "what you hesitate to ask for,
I will myself demand; that which I have never done on my own account, I
will do on yours. I will go and find the king of France--the other--the
rich, the powerful one, I mean. I will myself solicit this million, or
these two hundred gentlemen; and--we will see."

"Oh!" cried Charles, "you are a noble friend, sire--a heart created by
God! You save me, my brother; and if you should ever stand in need of
the life you restore me, demand it."

"Silence, my brother,--silence!" said Louis, in a suppressed voice.
"Take care that no one hears you! We have not obtained our end yet.
To ask money of Mazarin--that is worse than traversing the enchanted
forest, each tree of which inclosed a demon. It is more than setting out
to conquer a world."

"But yet, sire, when you ask it----"

"I have already told you that I never asked," replied Louis with a
haughtiness that made the king of England turn pale.

And as the latter, like a wounded man, made a retreating
movement--"Pardon me, my brother," replied he. "I have neither a mother
nor a sister who are suffering. My throne is hard and naked, but I am
firmly seated on my throne. Pardon me that expression, my brother; it
was that of an egotist. I will retract it, therefore, by a sacrifice,--I
will go to monsieur le cardinal. Wait for me, if you please--I will
return."



CHAPTER 10. The Arithmetic of M. de Mazarin



Whilst the king was directing his course rapidly towards the wing of the
castle occupied by the cardinal, taking nobody with him but his valet
de chambre, the officer of musketeers came out, breathing like a man
who has for a long time been forced to hold his breath, from the little
cabinet of which we have already spoken, and which the king believed
to be quite solitary. This little cabinet had formerly been part of
the chamber, from which it was only separated by a thin partition. It
resulted that this partition, which was only for the eye, permitted the
ear the least indiscreet to hear every word spoken in the chamber.

There was no doubt, then, that this lieutenant of musketeers had heard
all that passed in his majesty's apartment.

Warned by the last words of the young king, he came out just in time to
salute him on his passage, and to follow him with his eyes till he had
disappeared in the corridor.

Then as soon as he had disappeared, he shook his head after a fashion
peculiarly his own, and in a voice which forty years' absence from
Gascony had not deprived of its Gascon accent, "A melancholy service,"
said he, "and a melancholy master!"

These words pronounced, the lieutenant resumed his place in his
fauteuil, stretched his legs and closed his eyes, like a man who either
sleeps or meditates.

During this short monologue and the mise en scene that had accompanied
it, whilst the king, through the long corridors of the old castle,
proceeded to the apartment of M. de Mazarin, a scene of another sort was
being enacted in those apartments.

Mazarin was in bed, suffering a little from the gout. But as he was a
man of order, who utilized even pain, he forced his wakefulness to be
the humble servant of his labor. He had consequently ordered Bernouin,
his valet de chambre, to bring him a little traveling-desk, so that he
might write in bed. But the gout is not an adversary that allows itself
to be conquered so easily; therefore, at each movement he made, the pain
from dull became sharp.

"Is Brienne there?" asked he of Bernouin.

"No, monseigneur," replied the valet de chambre; "M. de Brienne,
with your permission, is gone to bed. But, if it is the wish of your
eminence, he can speedily be called."

"No, it is not worth while. Let us see, however. Cursed ciphers!"

And the cardinal began to think, counting on his fingers the while.

"Oh, ciphers is it?" said Bernouin. "Very well! if your eminence
attempts calculations, I will promise you a pretty headache to-morrow!
And with that please to remember M. Guenaud is not here."

"You are right, Bernouin. You must take Brienne's place, my friend.
Indeed, I ought to have brought M. Colbert with me. That young man goes
on very well, Bernouin, very well; a very orderly youth."

"I do not know," said the valet de chambre, "but I don't like the
countenance of your young man who goes on so well."

"Well, well, Bernouin! We don't stand in need of your advice. Place
yourself there: take the pen and write."

"I am ready, monseigneur; what am I to write?"

"There, that's the place: after the two lines already traced."

"I am there."

"Write seven hundred and sixty thousand livres."

"That is written."

"Upon Lyons----" The cardinal appeared to hesitate.

"Upon Lyons," repeated Bernouin.

"Three millions nine hundred thousand livres."

"Well, monseigneur?"

"Upon Bordeaux seven millions."

"Seven?" repeated Bernouin.

"Yes," said the cardinal, pettishly, "seven." Then, recollecting
himself, "You understand, Bernouin," added he, "that all this money is
to be spent?"

"Eh! monseigneur; whether it be to be spent or put away is of very
little consequence to me, since none of these millions are mine."

"These millions are the king's; it is the king's money I am reckoning.
Well, what were we saying? You always interrupt me!"

"Seven millions upon Bordeaux."

"Ah! yes; that's right. Upon Madrid four millions. I give you to
understand plainly to whom this money belongs, Bernouin, seeing that
everybody has the stupidity to believe me rich in millions. I repel the
silly idea. A minister, besides, has nothing of his own. Come, go on.
Rentrees generales, seven millions; properties, nine millions. Have you
written that, Bernouin?"

"Yes, monseigneur."

"Bourse, six hundred thousand livres; various property, two millions.
Ah! I forgot--the furniture of the different chateaux----"

"Must I put of the crown?" asked Bernouin.

"No, no, it is of no use doing that--that is understood. Have you
written that, Bernouin?"

"Yes, monseigneur."

"And the ciphers?"

"Stand straight under one another."

"Cast them up, Bernouin."

"Thirty-nine millions two hundred and sixty thousand livres,
monseigneur."

"Ah!" cried the cardinal, in a tone of vexation; "there are not yet
forty millions!"

Bernouin recommenced the addition.

"No, monseigneur; there want seven hundred and forty thousand livres."

Mazarin asked for the account, and revised it carefully.

"Yes, but," said Bernouin, "thirty-nine millions two hundred and sixty
thousand livres make a good round sum."

"Ah, Bernouin, I wish the king had it."

"Your eminence told me that this money was his majesty's."

"Doubtless, as clear, as transparent as possible. These thirty-nine
millions are bespoken, and much more."

Bernouin smiled after his own fashion--that is, like a man who believes
no more than he is willing to believe--whilst preparing the cardinal's
night draught, and putting his pillow to rights.

"Oh!" said Mazarin, when the valet had gone out; "not yet forty
millions! I must, however, attain that sum, which I had set down for
myself. But who knows whether I shall have time? I sink, I am going,
I shall never reach it! And yet, who knows that I may not find two or
three millions in the pockets of my good friends the Spaniards? They
discovered Peru, those people did, and--what the devil! they must have
something left."

As he was speaking thus, entirely occupied with his ciphers, and
thinking no more of his gout, repelled by a preoccupation which, with
the cardinal, was the most powerful of all preoccupations, Bernouin
rushed into the chamber, quite in a fright.

"Well!" asked the cardinal, "what is the matter now?"

"The king, monseigneur,--the king!"

"How?--the king!" said Mazarin, quickly concealing his paper. "The king
here! the king at this hour! I thought he was in bed long ago. What is
the matter, then?"

The king could hear these last words, and see the terrified gesture of
the cardinal rising up in his bed, for he entered the chamber at that
moment.

"It is nothing, monsieur le cardinal, or at least nothing which can
alarm you. It is an important communication which I wish to make to your
eminence to-night--that is all."

Mazarin immediately thought of that marked attention which the king
had given to his words concerning Mademoiselle de Mancini, and the
communication appeared to him probably to refer to this source. He
recovered his serenity then instantly, and assumed his most agreeable
air, a change of countenance which inspired the king with the greatest
joy; and when Louis was seated,--

"Sire," said the cardinal, "I ought certainly to listen to your majesty
standing, but the violence of my complaint----"

"No ceremony between us, my dear monsieur le cardinal," said Louis
kindly: "I am your pupil, and not the king, you know very well, and this
evening in particular, as I come to you as a petitioner, as a solicitor,
and one very humble, and desirous to be kindly received, too."

Mazarin, seeing the heightened color of the king, was confirmed in his
first idea; that is to say, that love thoughts were hidden under all
these fine words. This time, political cunning, keen as it was, made
a mistake; this color was not caused by the bashfulness of a juvenile
passion, but only by the painful contraction of the royal pride.

Like a good uncle, Mazarin felt disposed to facilitate the confidence.

"Speak, sire," said he, "and since your majesty is willing for an
instant to forget that I am your subject, and call me your master
and instructor, I promise your majesty my most devoted and tender
consideration."

"Thanks, monsieur le cardinal," answered the king; "that which I have to
ask of your eminence has but little to do with myself."

"So much the worse!" replied the cardinal, "so much the worse! Sire, I
should wish your majesty to ask of me something of importance, even a
sacrifice; but whatever it may be that you ask me, I am ready to set
your heart at rest by granting it, my dear sire."

"Well, this is what brings me here," said the king, with a beating
of the heart that had no equal except the beating of the heart of the
minister; "I have just received a visit from my brother, the king of
England."

Mazarin bounded in his bed as if he had been put in relation with a
Leyden jar or a voltaic pile, at the same time that a surprise, or
rather a manifest disappointment, inflamed his features with such a
blaze of anger, that Louis XIV., little diplomatist as he was, saw that
the minister had hoped to hear something else.

"Charles II.?" exclaimed Mazarin, with a hoarse voice and a disdainful
movement of his lips. "You have received a visit from Charles II.?"

"From King Charles II.," replied Louis, according in a marked manner to
the grandson of Henry IV. the title which Mazarin had forgotten to give
him. "Yes, monsieur le cardinal, that unhappy prince has touched my
heart with the relation of his misfortunes. His distress is great,
monsieur le cardinal, and it has appeared painful to me, who have seen
my own throne disputed, who have been forced in times of commotion
to quit my capital,--to me, in short, who am acquainted with
misfortune,--to leave a deposed and fugitive brother without
assistance."

"Eh!" said the cardinal, sharply; "why had he not, as you have, a Jules
Mazarin by his side? His crown would then have remained intact."

"I know all that my house owes to your eminence," replied the king,
haughtily, "and you may believe well that I, on my part, shall never
forget it. It is precisely because my brother the king of England has
not about him the powerful genius who has saved me, it is for that, I
say, that I wish to conciliate the aid of that same genius, and beg you
to extend your arm over his head, well assured, monsieur le cardinal,
that your hand, by touching him only, would know how to replace upon his
brow the crown which fell at the foot of his father's scaffold."

"Sire," replied Mazarin, "I thank you for your good opinion with regard
to myself, but we have nothing to do yonder: they are a set of madmen
who deny God, and cut off the heads of their kings. They are dangerous,
observe, sire, and filthy to the touch after having wallowed in royal
blood and covenantal murder. That policy has never suited me,--I scorn
it and reject it."

"Therefore you ought to assist in establishing a better."

"What is that?"

"The restoration of Charles II., for example."

"Good heavens!" cried Mazarin, "does the poor prince flatter himself
with that chimera?"

"Yes, he does," replied the young king, terrified at the difficulties
opposed to this project, which he fancied he could perceive in the
infallible eye of his minister; "he only asks for a million to carry out
his purpose."

"Is that all--a little million, if you please!" said the cardinal,
ironically, with an effort to conquer his Italian accent. "A little
million, if you please, brother! Bah! a family of mendicants!"

"Cardinal," said Louis, raising his head, "that family of mendicants is
a branch of my family."

"Are you rich enough to give millions to other people, sire? Have you
millions to throw away?"

"Oh!" replied Louis XIV., with great pain, which he, however, by a
strong effort, prevented from appearing on his countenance;--"oh! yes,
monsieur le cardinal, I am well aware I am poor, and yet the crown of
France is worth a million, and to perform a good action I would pledge
my crown if it were necessary. I could find Jews who would be willing to
lend me a million."

"So, sire, you say you want a million?" said Mazarin.

"Yes, monsieur, I say so."

"You are mistaken, greatly mistaken, sire; you want much more than
that,--Bernouin!--you shall see, sire, how much you really want."

"What, cardinal!" said the king, "are you going to consult a lackey
about my affairs?"

"Bernouin!" cried the cardinal again, without appearing to remark the
humiliation of the young prince. "Come here, Bernouin, and tell me the
figures I gave you just now."

"Cardinal, cardinal! did you not hear me?" said Louis, turning pale with
anger.

"Do not be angry, sire; I deal openly with the affairs of your majesty.
Every one in France knows that; my books are as open as day. What did I
tell you to do just now, Bernouin?"

"Your eminence commanded me to cast up an account."

"You did it, did you not?"

"Yes, my lord."

"To verify the amount of which his majesty, at this moment, stands in
need. Did I not tell you so? Be frank, my friend."

"Your eminence said so."

"Well, what sum did I say I wanted?"

"Forty-five millions, I think."

"And what sum could we find, after collecting all our resources?"

"Thirty-nine millions two hundred and sixty thousand."

"That is correct, Bernouin; that is all I wanted to know. Leave us now,"
said the cardinal, fixing his brilliant eye upon the young king, who sat
mute with stupefaction.

"However----" stammered the king.

"What, do you still doubt, sire?" said the cardinal. "Well, here is a
proof of what I said."

And Mazarin drew from under his bolster the paper covered with figures,
which he presented to the king, who turned away his eyes, his vexation
was so deep.

"Therefore, as it is a million you want, sire, and that million is not
set down here, it is forty-six millions your majesty stands in need of.
Well I don't think that any Jews in the world would lend such a sum,
even upon the crown of France."

The king, clenching his hands beneath his ruffles, pushed away his
chair.

"So it must be then!" said he, "my brother the king of England will die
of hunger."

"Sire," replied Mazarin, in the same tone, "remember this proverb, which
I give you as the expression of the soundest policy: 'Rejoice at being
poor when your neighbor is poor likewise.'"

Louis meditated for a few moments, with an inquisitive glance directed
to the paper, one end of which remained under the bolster.

"Then," said he, "it is impossible to comply with my demand for money,
my lord cardinal, is it?"

"Absolutely, sire."

"Remember, this will secure me a future enemy, if he succeed in
recovering his crown without my assistance."

"If your majesty only fears that, you may be quite at ease," replied
Mazarin, eagerly.

"Very well, I say no more about it," exclaimed Louis XIV.

"Have I at least convinced you, sire?" placing his hand upon that of the
young king.

"Perfectly."

"If there be anything else, ask it, sire, I shall be most happy to grant
it to you, having refused this."

"Anything else, my lord?"

"Why yes, am I not devoted body and soul to your majesty? Hola!
Bernouin!--lights and guards for his majesty! His majesty is returning
to his own chamber."

"Not yet, monsieur: since you place your good-will at my disposal, I
will take advantage of it."

"For yourself, sire?" asked the cardinal, hoping that his niece was at
length about to be named.

"No, monsieur, not for myself," replied Louis, "but still for my brother
Charles."

The brow of Mazarin again became clouded, and he grumbled a few words
that the king could not catch.



CHAPTER 11. Mazarin's Policy



Instead of the hesitation with which he had accosted the cardinal a
quarter of an hour before, there might be read in the eyes of the young
king that will against which a struggle might be maintained, and which
might be crushed by its own impotence, but which, at least, would
preserve, like a wound in the depth of the heart, the remembrance of its
defeat.

"This time, my lord cardinal, we have to deal with something more easily
found than a million."

"Do you think so, sire?" said Mazarin, looking at the king with that
penetrating eye which was accustomed to read to the bottom of hearts.

"Yes, I think so; and when you know the object of my request----"

"And do you think I do not know it, sire?"

"You know what remains for me to say to you?"

"Listen, sire; these are King Charles's own words----"

"Oh, impossible!"

"Listen. 'And if that miserly, beggarly Italian,' said he----"

"My lord cardinal!"

"That is the sense, if not the words. Eh! Good heavens! I wish him no
ill on that account, one is biased by his passions. He said to you: 'If
that vile Italian refuses the million we ask of him, sire,--if we are
forced, for want of money, to renounce diplomacy, well, then, we will
ask him to grant us five hundred gentlemen.'"

The king started, for the cardinal was only mistaken in the number.

"Is not that it, sire?" cried the minister, with a triumphant accent.
"And then he added some fine words: he said, 'I have friends on the
other side of the channel, and these friends only want a leader and a
banner. When they see me, when they behold the banner of France, they
will rally round me, for they will comprehend that I have your support.
The colors of the French uniform will be worth as much to me as the
million M. de Mazarin refuses us,'--for he was pretty well assured
I should refuse him that million.--'I shall conquer with these five
hundred gentlemen, sire, and all the honor will be yours.' Now, that is
what he said, or to that purpose, was it not?--turning those plain words
into brilliant metaphors and pompous images, for they are fine talkers
in that family! The father talked even on the scaffold."

The perspiration of shame stood upon the brow of Louis. He felt that it
was inconsistent with his dignity to hear his brother thus insulted, but
he did not yet know how to act with him to whom every one yielded, even
his mother. At last he made an effort.

"But," said he, "my lord cardinal, it is not five hundred men, it is
only two hundred."

"Well, but you see I guessed what he wanted."

"I never denied that you had a penetrating eye, and that was why I
thought you would not refuse my brother Charles a thing so simple and so
easy to grant him as what I ask of you in his name, my lord cardinal, or
rather in my own."

"Sire," said Mazarin, "I have studied policy thirty years; first, under
the auspices of M. le Cardinal de Richelieu; and then alone. This policy
has not always been over-honest, it must be allowed, but it has never
been unskillful. Now that which is proposed to your majesty is dishonest
and unskillful at the same time."

"Dishonest, monsieur!"

"Sire, you entered into a treaty with Cromwell."

"Yes, and in that very treaty Cromwell signed his name above mine."

"Why did you sign yours so low down, sire? Cromwell found a good place,
and he took it; that was his custom. I return, then, to M. Cromwell.
You have a treaty with him, that is to say, with England, since when you
signed that treaty M. Cromwell was England."

"M. Cromwell is dead."

"Do you think so, sire?"

"No doubt he is, since his son Richard has succeeded him, and has
abdicated."

"Yes, that is it exactly. Richard inherited after the death of his
father, and England at the abdication of Richard. The treaty formed part
of the inheritance, whether in the hands of M. Richard or in the hands
of England. The treaty is, then, still as good, as valid as ever. Why
should you evade it, sire? What is changed? Charles wants to-day what we
were not willing to grant him ten years ago; but that was foreseen and
provided against. You are the ally of England, sire, and not of Charles
II. It was doubtless wrong, from a family point of view, to sign a
treaty with a man who had cut off the head of the king your father's
brother-in-law, and to contract an alliance with a parliament which they
call yonder the Rump Parliament; it was unbecoming, I acknowledge, but
it was not unskillful from a political point of view, since, thanks to
that treaty, I saved your majesty, then a minor, the trouble and danger
of a foreign war, which the Fronde--you remember the Fronde sire?"--the
young king hung his head--"which the Fronde might have fatally
complicated. And thus I prove to your majesty that to change our
plan now; without warning our allies, would be at once unskillful and
dishonest. We should make war with the aggression on our side, we should
make it, deserving to have it made against us, and we should have the
appearance of fearing it whilst provoking it, for a permission granted
to five hundred men, to two hundred men, to fifty men, to ten men, is
still a permission. One Frenchman, that is the nation; one uniform,
that is the army. Suppose, sire, for example, that, sooner or later,
you should have war with Holland, which, sooner or later, will certainly
happen; or with Spain, which will perhaps ensue if your marriage fails"
(Mazarin stole a furtive glance at the king), "and there are a thousand
causes that might yet make your marriage fail,--well, would you approve
of England's sending to the United Provinces or to Spain a regiment,
a company, a squadron even, of English gentlemen? Would you think that
they kept within the limits of their treaty of alliance?"

Louis listened; it seemed so strange to him that Mazarin should invoke
good faith, and he the author of so many political tricks, called
Mazarinades. "And yet," said the king, "without any manifest
authorization, I cannot prevent gentlemen of my states from passing over
into England, if such should be their good pleasure."

"You should compel them to return, sire, or at least protest against
their presence as enemies in an allied country."

"But come, my lord cardinal, you who are so profound a genius, try if
you cannot find means to assist this poor king, without compromising
ourselves."

"And that is exactly what I am not willing to do, my dear sire," said
Mazarin. "If England were to act exactly according to my wishes, she
could not act better than she does; if I directed the policy of England
from this place, I should not direct it otherwise. Governed as she
is governed, England is an eternal nest of contention for all Europe.
Holland protects Charles II., let Holland do so; they will quarrel, they
will fight. They are the only two maritime powers. Let them destroy each
other's navies, we can construct ours with the wrecks of their vessels;
when we shall save our money to buy nails."

"Oh, how paltry and mean is all this that you are telling me, monsieur
le cardinal!"

"Yes, but nevertheless it is true, sire; you must confess that. Still
further. Suppose I admit, for a moment, the possibility of breaking your
word, and evading the treaty--such a thing sometimes happens, but that
is when some great interest is to be promoted by it, or when the treaty
is found to be too troublesome--well, you will authorize the engagement
asked of you: France--her banner, which is the same thing--will cross
the Straits and will fight; France will be conquered."

"Why so?"

"Ma foi! we have a pretty general to fight under this Charles II.!
Worcester gave us good proofs of that."

"But he will no longer have to deal with Cromwell, monsieur."

"But he will have to deal with Monk, who is quite as dangerous. The
brave brewer of whom we are speaking was a visionary; he had moments of
exaltation, of inflation, during which he ran over like an over-filled
cask; and from the chinks there always escaped some drops of his
thoughts, and by the sample the whole of his thought was to be made out.
Cromwell has thus allowed us more than ten times to penetrate into his
very soul, when one would have conceived that soul to be enveloped in
triple brass, as Horace has it. But Monk! Oh, sire, God defend you from
ever having anything to transact politically with Monk. It is he who has
given me, in one year, all the gray hairs I have. Monk is no fanatic;
unfortunately he is a politician; he does not overflow, he keeps close
together. For ten years he has had his eyes fixed upon one object, and
nobody has yet been able to ascertain what. Every morning, as Louis XI.
advised, he burns his nightcap. Therefore, on the day when this
plan slowly and solitarily ripened, shall break forth, it will break
forthwith all the conditions of success which always accompany an
unforeseen event. That is Monk, sire, of whom perhaps, you have never
heard--of whom, perhaps, you did not even know the name before your
brother Charles II., who knows what he is, pronounced it before you.
He is a marvel of depth and tenacity, the two only things against which
intelligence and ardor are blunted. Sire, I had ardor when I was
young, I always was intelligent. I may safely boast of it, because I
am reproached with it. I have done very well with these two qualities,
since, from the son of a fisherman of Piscina, I have become prime
minister to the king of France; and in that position your majesty will
perhaps acknowledge I have rendered some service to the throne of
your majesty. Well, sire, if I had met with Monk on my way, instead of
Monsieur de Beaufort, Monsieur de Retz, or Monsieur le Prince--well, we
should have been ruined. If you engage yourself rashly, sire, you will
fall into the talons of this politic soldier. The casque of Monk, sire,
is an iron coffer, in the recesses of which he shuts up his thoughts,
and no one has the key of it. Therefore, near him, or rather before him,
I bow, sire, for I have nothing but a velvet cap."

"What do you think Monk wishes to do, then?"

"Eh! sire, if I knew that, I would not tell you to mistrust him, for
I should be stronger than he; but with him, I am afraid to guess--to
guess!--you understand my word?--for if I thought I had guessed, I
should stop at an idea, and, in spite of myself, should pursue that
idea. Since that man has been in power yonder, I am like one of the
damned in Dante whose neck Satan has twisted, and who walk forward
looking behind them. I am traveling towards Madrid, but I never lose
sight of London. To guess, with that devil of a man, is to deceive one's
self, and to deceive one's self is to ruin one's self. God keep me from
ever seeking to guess what he aims at; I confine myself to watching what
he does, and that is well enough. Now I believe--you observe the meaning
of the word I believe?--I believe, with respect to Monk, ties one to
nothing--I believe that he has a strong inclination to succeed Cromwell.
Your Charles II. has already caused proposals to be made to him by ten
persons; he has satisfied himself with driving these ten meddlers from
his presence, without saying anything to them but, 'Begone, or I
will have you hung.' That man is a sepulcher! At this moment Monk is
affecting devotion to the Rump Parliament; of this devotion, observe, I
am not the dupe. Monk has no wish to be assassinated,--an assassination
would stop him in the midst of his operations, and his work must be
accomplished;--so I believe--but do not believe, what I believe, sire:
for I say I believe from habit--I believe that Monk is keeping on
friendly terms with the parliament till the day comes for dispersing
it. You are asked for swords, but they are to fight against Monk. God
preserve you from fighting against Monk sire; for Monk would beat us,
and I should never console myself after being beaten by Monk. I should
say to myself, Monk has foreseen that victory ten years. For God's
sake, sire, out of friendship for you, if not out of consideration for
himself, let Charles II. keep quiet. Your majesty will give him a little
income here; give him one of your chateaux. Yes, yes--wait awhile. But
I forgot the treaty--that famous treaty of which we were just now
speaking. Your majesty has not even the right to give him a chateau."

"How is that?"

"Yes, yes, your majesty is bound not to grant hospitality to King
Charles, and to compel him to leave France even. It was on this account
we forced him to quit you, and yet here he is again. Sire, I hope you
will give your brother to understand that he cannot remain with us; that
it is impossible he should be allowed to compromise us, or I myself----"

"Enough, my lord," said Louis XIV, rising. "In refusing me a million,
perhaps you may be right; your millions are your own. In refusing me two
hundred gentlemen, you are still further in the right; for you are prime
minister, and you have, in the eyes of France, the responsibility of
peace and war. But that you should pretend to prevent me, who am king,
from extending my hospitality to the grandson of Henry IV., to my
cousin-german, to the companion of my childhood--there your power stops,
and there begins my will."

"Sire," said Mazarin, delighted at being let off so cheaply, and who
had, besides, only fought so earnestly to arrive at that,--"sire, I
shall always bend before the will of my king. Let my king, then, keep
near him, or in one of his chateaux, the king of England; let Mazarin
know it, but let not the minister know it."

"Good-night, my lord," said Louis XIV., "I go away in despair."

"But convinced, and that is all I desire, sire," replied Mazarin.

The king made no answer, and retired quite pensive, convinced, not of
all Mazarin had told him, but of one thing which he took care not to
mention to him; and that was, that it was necessary for him to study
seriously both his own affairs and those of Europe, for he found them
very difficult and very obscure. Louis found the king of England seated
in the same place where he had left him. On perceiving him, the English
prince arose; but at the first glance he saw discouragement written
in dark letters upon his cousin's brow. Then, speaking first, as if to
facilitate the painful avowal that Louis had to make to him,--

"Whatever it may be," said he, "I shall never forget all the kindness,
all the friendship you have exhibited towards me."

"Alas!" replied Louis, in a melancholy tone, "only barren good-will, my
brother."

Charles II. became extremely pale; he passed his cold hand over his
brow, and struggled for a few instants against a faintness that made him
tremble. "I understand," said he at last; "no more hope!"

Louis seized the hand of Charles II. "Wait, my brother," said he;
"precipitate nothing, everything may change; hasty resolutions ruin all
causes, add another year of trial, I implore you, to the years you have
already undergone. You have, to induce you to act now rather than
at another time, neither occasion nor opportunity. Come with me, my
brother; I will give you one of my residences, whichever you prefer, to
inhabit. I, with you, will keep my eyes upon events; we will prepare.
Come, then, my brother, have courage!"

Charles II. withdrew his hand from that of the king, and drawing back,
to salute him with more ceremony, "With all my heart, thanks!" replied
he, "sire; but I have prayed without success to the greatest king on
earth; now I will go and ask a miracle of God." And he went out without
being willing to hear any more, his head carried loftily, his hand
trembling, with a painful contraction of his noble countenance, and that
profound gloom which, finding no more hope in the world of men,
appeared to go beyond it, and ask it in worlds unknown. The officer of
musketeers, on seeing him pass by thus pale, bowed almost to his knees
as he saluted him. He then took a flambeau, called two musketeers, and
descended the deserted staircase with the unfortunate king, holding in
his left hand his hat, the plume of which swept the steps. Arrived at
the door, the musketeer asked the king which way he was going, that he
might direct the musketeers.

"Monsieur," replied Charles II., in a subdued voice, "you who have known
my father, say, did you ever pray for him? If you have done so, do not
forget me in your prayers. Now, I am going alone, and beg of you not to
accompany me, or have me accompanied any further."

The officer bowed and sent away the musketeers into the interior of the
palace. But he himself remained an instant under the porch watching the
departing Charles II., till he was lost in the turn of the next street.
"To him as to his father formerly," murmured he, "Athos, if he
were here, would say with reason,--'Salute fallen majesty!'" Then,
reascending the staircase: "Oh! the vile service that I follow!" said he
at every step. "Oh! my pitiful master! Life thus carried on is no longer
tolerable, and it is at length time that I should do something! No
more generosity, no more energy! The master has succeeded, the pupil is
starved forever. Mordioux! I will not resist. Come, you men," continued
he, entering the ante-chamber, "why are you all looking at me so?
Extinguish these torches and return to your posts. Ah! you were guarding
me? Yes, you watch over me, do you not, worthy fellows? Brave fools!
I am not the Duc de Guise. Begone! They will not assassinate me in the
little passage. Besides," added he, in a low voice, "that would be
a resolution, and no resolutions have been formed since Monsieur le
Cardinal de Richelieu died. Now, with all his faults, that was a man! It
is settled: to-morrow I will throw my cassock to the nettles."

Then, reflecting: "No," said he, "not yet! I have one great trial to
make and I will make it; but that, and I swear it, shall be the last,
Mordioux!"

He had not finished speaking when a voice issued from the king's
chamber. "Monsieur le lieutenant!" said this voice.

"Here am I," replied he.

"The king desires to speak to you."

"Humph!" said the lieutenant; "perhaps of what I was thinking about."
And he went into the king's apartment.



CHAPTER 12. The King and the Lieutenant



As soon as the king saw the officer enter, he dismissed his valet de
chambre and his gentleman. "Who is on duty to-morrow, monsieur?" asked
he.

The lieutenant bowed his head with military politeness and replied, "I
am, sire."

"What! still you?"

"Always I, sire."

"How can that be, monsieur?"

"Sire, when traveling, the musketeers supply all the posts of your
majesty's household; that is to say, yours, her majesty the queen's, and
monsieur le cardinal's, the latter of whom borrows of the king the best
part, or rather the most numerous part, of the royal guard."

"But in the interims?"

"There are no interims, sire, but for twenty or thirty men who rest out
of a hundred and twenty. At the Louvre it is very different, and if I
were at the Louvre I should rely upon my brigadier; but, when traveling,
sire, no one knows what may happen, and I prefer doing my duty myself."

"Then you are on guard every day?"

"And every night. Yes, sire."

"Monsieur, I cannot allow that--I will have you rest."

"That is very kind, sire, but I will not."

"What do you say?" said the king who did not at first comprehend the
full meaning of this reply.

"I say, sire, that I will not expose myself to the chance of a fault. If
the devil had a trick to play on me, you understand, sire, as he knows
the man with whom he has to deal, he would choose the moment when I
should not be there. My duty and the peace of my conscience before
everything, sire."

"But such duty will kill you, monsieur."

"Eh! sire, I have performed it for thirty years, and in all France
and Navarre there is not a man in better health than I am. Moreover, I
entreat you, sire, not to trouble yourself about me. That would appear
very strange to me, seeing that I am not accustomed to it."

The king cut short the conversation by a fresh question. "Shall you be
here, then, to-morrow morning?"

"As at present? yes, sire."

The king walked several times up and down his chamber; it was very plain
that he burned with a desire to speak, but that he was restrained by
some fear or other. The lieutenant, standing motionless, hat in hand,
watched him making these evolutions, and, whilst looking at him,
grumbled to himself, biting his mustache:

"He has not half a crown worth of resolution! Parole d'honneur! I would
lay a wager he does not speak at all!"

The king continued to walk about, casting from time to time a side
glance at the lieutenant. "He is the very image of his father,"
continued the latter, in his secret soliloquy, "he is at once proud,
avaricious, and timid. The devil take his master, say I."

The king stopped. "Lieutenant," said he.

"I am here, sire."

"Why did you cry out this evening, down below in the salons--'The king's
service! His majesty's musketeers!'"

"Because you gave me the order, sire."

"I?"

"Yourself."

"Indeed, I did not say a word, monsieur."

"Sire, an order is given by a sign, by a gesture, by a glance, as
intelligibly, as freely, and as clearly as by word of mouth. A servant
who has nothing but ears is not half a good servant."

"Your eyes are very penetrating, then, monsieur."

"How is that, sire?"

"Because they see what is not."

"My eyes are good, though, sire, although they have served their master
long and much: when they have anything to see, they seldom miss the
opportunity. Now, this evening, they saw that your majesty colored with
endeavoring to conceal the inclination to yawn, that your majesty looked
with eloquent supplications, first at his eminence, and then at her
majesty, the queen-mother, and at length to the entrance door, and they
so thoroughly remarked all I have said, that they saw your majesty's
lips articulate these words: 'Who will get me out of this?'"

"Monsieur!"

"Or something to this effect, sire--'My musketeers!' I could then no
longer hesitate. That look was for me--the order was for me. I cried out
instantly, 'His Majesty's musketeers!' And, besides, that was shown to
be true, sire, not only by your majesty's not saying I was wrong, but
proving I was right by going out at once."

The king turned away to smile; then, after a few seconds, he again fixed
his limpid eye upon that countenance, so intelligent, so bold, and so
firm, that it might have been said to be the proud and energetic profile
of the eagle facing the sun. "That is all very well," said he, after a
short silence, during which he endeavored, in vain, to make his officer
lower his eyes.

But seeing the king said no more, the latter pirouetted on his heels,
and took three steps towards the door, muttering, "He will not speak!
Mordioux! he will not speak!"

"Thank you, monsieur," said the king at last.

"Humph!" continued the lieutenant; "there was only wanting that. Blamed
for having been less of a fool than another might have been." And he
went to the door, allowing his spurs to jingle in true military style.
But when he was on the threshold, feeling that the king's desire drew
him back, he returned.

"Has your majesty told me all?" asked he, in a tone we cannot describe,
but which, without appearing to solicit the royal confidence, contained
so much persuasive frankness, that the king immediately replied:

"Yes, but draw near, monsieur."

"Now then," murmured the officer, "he is coming to it at last."

"Listen to me."

"I shall not lose a word, sire."

"You will mount on horseback to-morrow, at about half-past four in the
morning, and you will have a horse saddled for me."

"From your majesty's stables?"

"No, one of your musketeers' horses."

"Very well, sire. Is that all?"

"And you will accompany me."

"Alone?"

"Alone."

"Shall I come to seek your majesty, or shall I wait?"

"You will wait for me."

"Where, sire?"

"At the little park-gate."

The lieutenant bowed, understanding that the king had told him all he
had to say. In fact, the king dismissed him with a gracious wave of the
hand. The officer left the chamber of the king, and returned to place
himself philosophically in his fauteuil, where, far from sleeping,
as might have been expected, considering how late it was, he began to
reflect more deeply than he had ever reflected before. The result of
these reflections was not so melancholy as the preceding ones had been.

"Come, he has begun," said he. "Love urges him on, and he goes
forward--he goes forward! The king is nobody in his own palace; but
the man perhaps may prove to be worth something. Well, we shall see
to-morrow morning. Oh! oh!" cried he, all at once starting up, "that
is a gigantic idea, mordioux! and perhaps my fortune depends, at least,
upon that idea!" After this exclamation, the officer arose and marched,
with his hands in the pockets of his justacorps, about the immense
ante-chamber that served him as an apartment. The wax-light flamed
furiously under the effects of a fresh breeze which stole in through
the chinks of the door and the window, and cut the salle diagonally. It
threw out a reddish, unequal light, sometimes brilliant, sometimes dull,
and the tall shadow of the lieutenant was seen marching on the wall, in
profile, like a figure by Callot, with his long sword and feathered hat.

"Certainly!" said he, "I am mistaken if Mazarin is not laying a snare
for this amorous boy. Mazarin, this evening, gave an address, and made
an appointment as complacently as M. Dangeau himself could have done--I
heard him, and I know the meaning of his words. 'To-morrow morning,'
said he, 'they will pass opposite the bridge of Blois. Mordioux! that
is clear enough, and particularly for a lover. That is the cause of this
embarrassment; that is the cause of this hesitation; that is the
cause of this order--'Monsieur the lieutenant of my musketeers, be on
horseback to-morrow at four o'clock in the morning.' Which is as
clear as if he had said,--'Monsieur the lieutenant of my musketeers,
to-morrow, at four, at the bridge of Blois--do you understand?' Here is
a state secret, then, which I, humble as I am, have in my possession,
while it is in action. And how do I get it? Because I have good eyes,
as his majesty just now said. They say he loves this little Italian doll
furiously. They say he threw himself at his mother's feet, to beg her to
allow him to marry her. They say the queen went so far as to consult
the court of Rome, whether such a marriage, contracted against her will,
would be valid. Oh, if I were but twenty-five! If I had by my side those
I no longer have! If I did not despise the whole world most profoundly,
I would embroil Mazarin with the queen-mother, France with Spain, and
I would make a queen after my own fashion. But let that pass." And the
lieutenant snapped his fingers in disdain.

"This miserable Italian--this poor creature--this sordid wretch--who has
just refused the king of England a million, would not perhaps give me a
thousand pistoles for the news I could carry him. Mordioux! I am falling
into second childhood--I am becoming stupid indeed! The idea of Mazarin
giving anything! ha! ha! ha!" and he laughed in a subdued voice.

"Well, let us go to sleep--let us go to sleep; and the sooner the
better. My mind is wearied with my evening's work, and will see things
to-morrow more clearly than to-day."

And upon this recommendation, made to himself, he folded his cloak
around him, looking with contempt upon his royal neighbor. Five minutes
after this he was asleep, with his hands clenched and his lips apart,
giving escape, not to his secret, but to a sonorous sound, which rose
and spread freely beneath the majestic roof of the ante-chamber.



CHAPTER 13. Mary de Mancini



The sun had scarcely shed its first beams on the majestic trees of the
park and the lofty turrets of the castle, when the young king, who had
been awake more than two hours, possessed by the sleeplessness of love,
opened his shutters himself, and cast an inquiring look into the courts
of the sleeping palace. He saw that it was the hour agreed upon: the
great court clock pointed to a quarter past four. He did not disturb his
valet de chambre, who was sleeping soundly at some distance; he dressed
himself, and the valet, in a great fright sprang up, thinking he had
been deficient in his duty; but the king sent him back again, commanding
him to preserve the most absolute silence. He then descended the little
staircase, went out at a lateral door, and perceived at the end of
the wall a mounted horseman holding another horse by the bridle. This
horseman could not be recognized in his cloak and slouched hat. As
to the horse, saddled like that of a rich citizen, it offered nothing
remarkable to the most experienced eye. Louis took the bridle: the
officer held the stirrup without dismounting, and asked his majesty's
orders in a low voice.

"Follow me," replied the king.

The officer put his horse to the trot, behind that of his master, and
they descended the hill towards the bridge. When they reached the other
side of the Loire,--

"Monsieur," said the king, "you will please to ride on till you see a
carriage coming; then return and inform me. I will wait here."

"Will your majesty deign to give me some description of the carriage I
am charged to discover?"

"A carriage in which you will see two ladies, and probably their
attendants likewise."

"Sire, I should not wish to make a mistake; is there no other sign by
which I may know this carriage?"

"It will bear, in all probability, the arms of monsieur le cardinal."

"That is sufficient, sire," replied the officer, fully instructed in the
object of his search. He put his horse to the trot, and rode sharply on
in the direction pointed out by the king. But he had scarcely gone five
hundred paces when he saw four mules and then a carriage, loom up from
behind a little hill. Behind this carriage came another. It required
only one glance to assure him that these were the equipages he was in
search of; he therefore turned his bridle, and rode back to the king.

"Sire," said he, "here are the carriages. The first, as you said,
contains two ladies with their femmes de chambre; the second contains
the footmen, provisions, and necessaries."

"That is well," replied the king in an agitated voice. "Please to go
and tell those ladies that a cavalier of the court wishes to pay his
respects to them alone."

The officer set off at a gallop. "Mordioux!" said he, as he rode on,
"here is a new and an honorable employment, I hope! I complained of
being nobody. I am the king's confidant: that is enough to make a
musketeer burst with pride."

He approached the carriage, and delivered his message gallantly and
intelligently. There were two ladies in the carriage: one of great
beauty, although rather thin; the other less favored by nature, but
lively, graceful, and uniting in the delicate lines of her brow all the
signs of a strong will. Her eyes, animated and piercing in particular,
spoke more eloquently than all the amorous phrases in fashion in those
days of gallantry. It was to her D'Artagnan addressed himself, without
fear of being mistaken, although the other was, as we have said, the
more handsome of the two.

"Madame," said he, "I am the lieutenant of the musketeers, and there
is on the road a horseman who awaits you, and is desirous of paying his
respects to you."

At these words, the effect of which he watched closely, the lady with
the black eyes uttered a cry of joy, leant out of the carriage window,
and seeing the cavalier approaching, held out her arms, exclaiming:

"Ah, my dear sire!" and the tears gushed from her eyes.

The coachman stopped his team; the women rose in confusion from the back
of the carriage, and the second lady made a slight curtsey, terminated
by the most ironical smile that jealousy ever imparted to the lips of
woman.

"Marie? dear Marie?" cried the king, taking the hand of the black-eyed
lady in both his. And opening the heavy door himself, he drew her out
of the carriage with so much ardor, that she was in his arms before
she touched the ground. The lieutenant, posted on the other side of the
carriage, saw and heard all without being observed.

The king offered his arm to Mademoiselle de Mancini, and made a sign to
the coachman and lackeys to proceed. It was nearly six o'clock; the road
was fresh and pleasant; tall trees with their foliage still inclosed in
the golden down of their buds let the dew of morning filter from their
trembling branches like liquid diamonds; the grass was bursting at the
foot of the hedges; the swallows, having returned since only a few days,
described their graceful curves between the heavens and the water; a
breeze, laden with the perfumes of the blossoming woods, sighed along
the road, and wrinkled the surface of the waters of the river; all
these beauties of the day, all these perfumes of the plants, all these
aspirations of the earth towards heaven, intoxicated the two lovers,
walking side by side, leaning upon each other, eyes fixed upon eyes,
hand clasping hand, and who, lingering as by a common desire, did not
dare to speak they had so much to say.

The officer saw that the king's horse, in wandering this way and that,
annoyed Mademoiselle de Mancini. He took advantage of the pretext of
securing the horse to draw near them, and dismounting, walked between
the two horses he led; he did not lose a single word or gesture of the
lovers. It was Mademoiselle de Mancini who at length began.

"Ah, my dear sire!" said she, "you do not abandon me, then?"

"No, Marie," replied the king; "you see I do not."

"I had so often been told, though, that as soon as we should be
separated you would no longer think of me."

"Dear Marie, is it then to-day only that you have discovered we are
surrounded by people interested in deceiving us?"

"But, then, sire, this journey, this alliance with Spain? They are going
to marry you off!"

Louis hung his head. At the same time the officer could see the eyes
of Marie de Mancini shine in the sun with the brilliancy of a dagger
starting from its sheath. "And you have done nothing in favor of our
love?" asked the girl, after a silence of a moment.

"Ah! mademoiselle, how could you believe that? I threw myself at the
feet of my mother; I begged her, I implored her; I told her all my hopes
of happiness were in you, I even threatened----"

"Well?" asked Marie, eagerly.

"Well? the queen-mother wrote to the court of Rome, and received as
answer, that a marriage between us would have no validity, and would be
dissolved by the holy father. At length, finding there was no hope for
us, I requested to have my marriage with the infanta at least delayed."

"And yet that does not prevent your being on the road to meet her?"

"How can I help it? To my prayers, to my supplications, to my tears, I
received no answer but reasons of state."

"Well, well?"

"Well, what is to be done, mademoiselle, when so many wills are leagued
against me?"

It was now Marie's turn to hang her head. "Then I must bid you adieu for
ever," said she. "You know that I am being exiled; you know that I am
going to be buried alive; you know still more that they want to marry me
off, too."

Louis became very pale, and placed his hand upon his heart.

"If I had thought that my life only had, been at stake, I have been so
persecuted that I might have yielded; but I thought yours was concerned,
my dear sire, and I stood out for the sake of preserving your happiness."

"Oh, yes! my happiness, my treasure!" murmured the king, more gallantly
than passionately, perhaps.

"The cardinal might have yielded," said Marie, "if you had addressed
yourself to him, if you had pressed him. For the cardinal to call the
king of France his nephew! do you not perceive, sire? He would have made
war even for that honor; the cardinal, assured of governing alone, under
the double pretext of having brought up the king and given his niece
to him in marriage--the cardinal would have fought all antagonists,
overcome all obstacles. Oh, sire! I can answer for that. I am a woman,
and I see clearly into everything where love is concerned."

These words produced a strange effect upon the king. Instead of
heightening his passion, they cooled it. He stopped, and said hastily,--

"What is to be said, mademoiselle? Everything has failed."

"Except your will, I trust, my dear sire?"

"Alas!" said the king, coloring, "have I a will?"

"Oh!" said Mademoiselle de Mancini mournfully, wounded by that
expression.

"The king has no will but that which policy dictates, but that which
reasons of state impose upon him."

"Oh! it is because you have no love," cried Mary; "if you loved, sire,
you would have a will."

On pronouncing these words, Mary raised her eyes to her lover, whom she
saw more pale and more cast down than an exile who is about to quit his
native land forever. "Accuse me," murmured the king, "but do not say I
do not love you."

A long silence followed these words, which the young king had pronounced
with a perfectly true and profound feeling. "I am unable to think that
to-morrow, and after to-morrow, I shall see you no more; I cannot think
that I am going to end my sad days at a distance from Paris; that the
lips of an old man, of an unknown, should touch that hand which you hold
within yours; no, in truth, I cannot think of all that, my dear sire,
without having my poor heart burst with despair."

And Marie de Mancini did shed floods of tears. On his part, the king,
much affected, carried his handkerchief to his mouth, and stifled a sob.

"See," said she, "the carriages have stopped, my sister waits for me,
the time is come; what you are about to decide upon will be decided for
life. Oh, sire! you are willing, then, that I should lose you? You
are willing, then, Louis, that she to whom you have said 'I love you,'
should belong to another than to her king; to her master, to her lover?
Oh! courage, Louis! courage! One word, a single word! Say 'I will!' and
all my life is enchained to yours, and all my heart is yours forever."

The king made no reply. Mary then looked at him as Dido looked at AEneas
in the Elysian fields, fierce and disdainful.

"Farewell, then," said she; "farewell life! love! heaven!"

And she took a step away. The king detained her, seized her hand, which
he pressed to his lips, and despair prevailing over the resolution he
appeared to have inwardly formed, he let fall upon that beautiful hand
a burning tear of regret, which made Mary start, so really had that
tear burnt her. She saw the humid eyes of the king, his pale brow, his
convulsed lips, and cried, with an accent that cannot be described,--

"Oh, sire! you are a king, you weep, and yet I depart!"

As his sole reply, the king hid his face in his handkerchief. The
officer uttered something so like a roar that it frightened the horses.
Mademoiselle de Mancini, quite indignant, quitted the king's arm,
hastily entered the carriage, crying to the coachman, "Go on, go on, and
quick!"

The coachman obeyed, flogged his mules, and the heavy carriage rocked
upon its creaking axle, whilst the king of France, alone, cast down,
annihilated, did not dare to look either behind or before him.



CHAPTER 14. In which the King and the Lieutenant each give Proofs of
Memory



When the king, like all the people in the world who are in love, had
long and attentively watched disappear in the distance the carriage
which bore away his mistress; when he had turned and turned again a
hundred times to the same side and had at length succeeded in somewhat
calming the agitation of his heart and thoughts, he recollected that he
was not alone. The officer still held the horse by the bridle, and had
not lost all hope of seeing the king recover his resolution. He had
still the resource of mounting and riding after the carriage; they
would have lost nothing by waiting a little. But the imagination of the
lieutenant of the musketeers was too rich and too brilliant; it left
far behind it that of the king, who took care not to allow himself to be
carried away to any such excess. He contented himself with approaching
the officer, and in a doleful voice, "Come," said he, "let us be gone;
all is ended. To horse!"

The officer imitated this carriage, this slowness, this sadness, and
leisurely mounted his horse. The king pushed on sharply, the lieutenant
followed him. At the bridge Louis turned around for the last time. The
lieutenant, patient as a god who has eternity behind and before him,
still hoped for a return of energy. But it was groundless, nothing
appeared. Louis gained the street which led to the castle, and entered
as seven was striking. When the king had returned, and the musketeer,
who saw everything, had seen a corner of the tapestry over the
cardinal's window lifted up, he breathed a profound sigh, like a man
unloosed from the tightest bounds, and said in a low voice:

"Now, then, my officer, I hope that it is over."

The king summoned his gentleman. "Please to understand I shall receive
nobody before two o'clock," said he.

"Sire," replied the gentleman, "there is, however, some one who requests
admittance."

"Who is that?"

"Your lieutenant of musketeers."

"He who accompanied me?"

"Yes, sire."

"Ah," said the king, "let him come in."

The officer entered. The king made a sign, and the gentleman and the
valet retired. Louis followed them with his eyes until they had shut the
door, and when the tapestries had fallen behind them,--"You remind me
by your presence, monsieur, of something I had forgotten to recommend to
you, that is to say, the most absolute discretion."

"Oh! sire, why does your majesty give yourself the trouble of making me
such a recommendation? It is plain you do not know me."

"Yes, monsieur, that is true. I know that you are discreet; but as I had
prescribed nothing----"

The officer bowed. "Has your majesty nothing else to say to me?"

"No, monsieur; you may retire."

"Shall I obtain permission not to do so till I have spoken to the king,
sire?"

"What have you to say to me? Explain yourself, monsieur."

"Sire, a thing without importance to you, but which interests me
greatly. Pardon me, then, for speaking of it. Without urgency, without
necessity, I never would have done it, and I would have disappeared,
mute and insignificant as I always have been."

"How! Disappeared! I do not understand you, monsieur."

"Sire, in a word," said the officer, "I am come to ask for my discharge
from your majesty's service."

The king made a movement of surprise, but the officer remained as
motionless as a statue.

"Your discharge--yours, monsieur? and for how long a time, I pray?"

"Why, forever, sire."

"What, you are desirous of quitting my service, monsieur?" said Louis,
with an expression that revealed something more than surprise.

"Sire, I regret to say that I am."

"Impossible!"

"It is so, however, sire. I am getting old; I have worn harness now
thirty-five years; my poor shoulders are tired; I feel that I must give
place to the young. I don't belong to this age; I have still one foot
in the old one; it results that everything is strange in my eyes,
everything astonishes and bewilders me. In short, I have the honor to
ask your majesty for my discharge."

"Monsieur," said the king, looking at the officer, who wore his uniform
with an ease that would have caused envy in a young man, "you are
stronger and more vigorous than I am."

"Oh!" replied the officer, with an air of false modesty, "your
majesty says so because I still have a good eye and a tolerably firm
foot--because I can still ride a horse, and my mustache is black; but,
sire, vanity of vanities all that--illusions all that--appearance,
smoke, sire! I have still a youthful air, it is true, but I feel old,
and within six months I am certain I shall be broken down, gouty,
impotent. Therefore, then sire----"

"Monsieur," interrupted the king, "remember your words of yesterday. You
said to me in this very place where you now are, that you were endowed
with the best health of any man in France; that fatigue was unknown to
you! that you did not mind spending whole days and nights at your post.
Did you tell me that, monsieur, or not? Try and recall, monsieur."

The officer sighed. "Sire," said he, "old age is boastful; and it is
pardonable for old men to praise themselves when others no longer do it.
It is very possible I said that; but the fact is, sire, I am very much
fatigued, and request permission to retire."

"Monsieur," said the king, advancing towards the officer with a gesture
full of majesty, "you are not assigning me the true reason. You wish to
quit my service, it may be true, but you disguise from me the motive of
your retreat."

"Sire, believe that----"

"I believe what I see, monsieur; I see a vigorous, energetic man, full
of presence of mind, the best soldier in France, perhaps; and this
personage cannot persuade me the least in the world that you stand in
need of rest."

"Ah! sire," said the lieutenant, with bitterness, "what praise! Indeed,
your majesty confounds me! Energetic, vigorous, brave, intelligent, the
best soldier in the army! But, sire, your majesty exaggerates my small
portion of merit to such a point, that however good an opinion I may
have of myself, I do not recognize myself; in truth I do not. If I
were vain enough to believe only half of your majesty's words, I should
consider myself a valuable, indispensable man. I should say that a
servant possessed of such brilliant qualities was a treasure beyond
all price. Now, sire, I have been all my life--I feel bound to say
it--except at the present time, appreciated, in my opinion, much below
my value. I therefore repeat, your majesty exaggerates."

The king knitted his brow, for he saw a bitter raillery beneath the
words of the officer. "Come, monsieur," said he, "let us meet the
question frankly. Are you dissatisfied with my service, say? No
evasions; speak boldly, frankly--I command you to do so."

The officer, who had been twisting his hat about in his hands, with an
embarrassed air, for several minutes, raised his head at these words.
"Oh! sire," said he, "that puts me a little more at my ease. To a
question put so frankly, I will reply frankly. To tell the truth is
a good thing, as much from the pleasure one feels in relieving one's
heart, as on account of the rarity of the fact. I will speak the truth,
then, to my king, at the same time imploring him to excuse the frankness
of an old soldier."

Louis looked at his officer with anxiety, which he manifested by
the agitation of his gesture. "Well, then speak," said he, "for I am
impatient to hear the truths you have to tell me."

The officer threw his hat upon a table, and his countenance, always so
intelligent and martial, assumed, all at once, a strange character of
grandeur and solemnity. "Sire," said he, "I quit the king's service
because I am dissatisfied. The valet, in these times, can approach his
master as respectfully as I do, can give him an account of his labor,
bring back his tools, return the funds that have been intrusted to him,
and say, 'Master, my day's work is done. Pay me, if you please, and let
us part.'"

"Monsieur! monsieur!" exclaimed the king, crimson with rage.

"Ah! sire," replied the officer, bending his knee for a moment, "never
was servant more respectful than I am before your majesty; only you
commanded me to tell the truth. Now I have begun to tell it, it must
come out, even if you command me to hold my tongue."

There was so much resolution expressed in the deep-sunk muscles of the
officer's countenance, that Louis XIV. had no occasion to tell him to
continue; he continued, therefore, whilst the king looked at him with a
curiosity mingled with admiration.

"Sire, I have, as I have said, now served the house of France
thirty-five years; few people have worn out so many swords in that
service as I have, and the swords I speak of were good swords, too,
sire. I was a boy, ignorant of everything except courage, when the king
your father guessed that there was a man in me. I was a man, sire, when
the Cardinal de Richelieu, who was a judge of manhood, discovered an
enemy in me. Sire, the history of that enmity between the ant and the
lion may be read from the first to the last line, in the secret archives
of your family. If ever you feel an inclination to know it, do so, sire;
the history is worth the trouble--it is I who tell you so. You will
there read that the lion, fatigued, harassed, out of breath, at length
cried for quarter, and the justice must be rendered him to say that
he gave as much as he required. Oh! those were glorious times, sire,
strewed over with battles like one of Tasso's or Ariosto's epics. The
wonders of those times, to which the people of ours would refuse belief,
were every-day occurrences. For five years together, I was a hero every
day; at least, so I was told by persons of judgment; and that is a
long period for heroism, trust me, sire, a period of five years.
Nevertheless, I have faith in what these people told me, for they were
good judges. They were named M. de Richelieu, M. de Buckingham, M. de
Beaufort, M. de Retz, a mighty genius himself in street warfare,--in
short, the king, Louis XIII., and even the queen, your noble mother, who
one day condescended to say, 'Thank you.' I don't know what service I
had had the good fortune to render her. Pardon me, sire, for speaking
so boldly; but what I relate to you, as I have already had the honor to
tell your majesty, is history."

The king bit his lips, and threw himself violently on a chair.

"I appear importunate to your majesty," said the lieutenant. "Eh! sire,
that is the fate of truth; she is a stern companion; she bristles all
over with steel; she wounds those whom she attacks, and sometimes him
who speaks her."

"No, monsieur," replied the king; "I bade you speak--speak then."

"After the service of the king and the cardinal came the service of the
regency, sire; I fought pretty well in the Fronde--much less, though,
than the first time. The men began to diminish in stature. I have,
nevertheless, led your majesty's musketeers on some perilous occasions,
which stand upon the orders of the day of the company. Mine was a
beautiful luck at that time. I was the favorite of M. de Mazarin.
Lieutenant here! lieutenant there! lieutenant to the right! lieutenant
to the left! There was not a buffet dealt in France, of which your
humble servant did not have the dealing; but soon France was not enough.
The cardinal sent me to England on Cromwell's account; another gentleman
who was not over gentle, I assure you, sire. I had the honor of knowing
him, and I was well able to appreciate him. A great deal was promised
me on account of that mission. So, as I did much more than I had been
bidden to do, I was generously paid, for I was at length appointed
captain of the musketeers, that is to say, the most envied position in
court, which takes precedence over the marshals of France, and justly,
for who says captain of the musketeers says the flower of chivalry and
king of the brave."

"Captain, monsieur!" interrupted the king, "you make a mistake.
Lieutenant, you mean."

"Not at all, sire--I make no mistake; your majesty may rely upon me in
that respect. Monsieur le cardinal gave me the commission himself."

"Well!"

"But M. de Mazarin, as you know better than anybody, does not often
give, and sometimes takes back what he has given; he took it back again
as soon as peace was made and he was no longer in want of me. Certainly
I was not worthy to replace M. de Treville, of illustrious memory; but
they had promised me, and they had given me; they ought to have stopped
there."

"Is that what dissatisfies you, monsieur? Well I shall make inquiries. I
love justice; and your claim, though made in military fashion, does not
displease me."

"Oh, sire!" said the officer, "your majesty has ill understood me; I no
longer claim anything now."

"Excess of delicacy, monsieur; but I will keep my eye upon your affairs,
and later----"

"Oh, sire! what a word!--later! Thirty years have I lived upon that
promising word, which has been pronounced by so many great personages,
and which your mouth has, in its turn, just pronounced. Later--that is
how I have received a score of wounds, and how I have reached fifty-four
years of age without ever having had a louis in my purse, and without
ever having met with a protector on my way,--I who have protected so
many people! So I change my formula, sire; and when any one says to me
'Later,' I reply 'Now.' It is rest that I solicit, sire. That may be
easily granted me. That will cost nobody anything."

"I did not look for this language, monsieur, particularly from a man
who has always lived among the great. You forget you are speaking to the
king, to a gentleman who is, I suppose, of as good a house as yourself;
and when I say later, I mean a certainty."

"I do not at all doubt it, sire, but this is the end of the terrible
truth I had to tell you. If I were to see upon that table a marshal's
stick, the sword of constable, the crown of Poland, instead of later, I
swear to you, sire, that I should still say Now! Oh, excuse me, sire! I
am from the country of your grandfather, Henry IV. I do not speak often;
but when I do speak, I speak all."

"The future of my reign has little temptation for you, monsieur, it
appears," said Louis, haughtily.

"Forgetfulness, forgetfulness everywhere!" cried the officer, with a
noble air; "the master has forgotten the servant, so that the servant is
reduced to forget his master. I live in unfortunate times, sire. I see
youth full of discouragement and fear, I see it timid and despoiled,
when it ought to be rich and powerful. I yesterday evening, for example,
open the door to a king of England, whose father, humble as I am, I
was near saving, if God had not been against me--God, who inspired His
elect, Cromwell! I open, I said, the door, that is to say, the palace of
one brother to another brother, and I see--stop, sire, that is a load
on my heart!--I see the minister of that king drive away the proscribed
prince, and humiliate his master by condemning to want another king, his
equal. Then I see my prince, who is young, handsome, and brave, who
has courage in his heart, and lightning in his eye,--I see him tremble
before a priest, who laughs at him behind the curtain of his alcove,
where he digests all the gold of France, which he afterwards stuffs
into secret coffers. Yes--I understand your looks, sire. I am bold to
madness; but what is to be said? I am an old man, and I tell you here,
sire, to you, my king, things which I would cram down the throat of any
one who should dare to pronounce them before me. You have commanded me
to pour out the bottom of my heart before you, sire, and I cast at the
feet of your majesty the pent-up indignation of thirty years, as I would
pour out all my blood, if your majesty commanded me to do so."

The king, without speaking a word, wiped the drops of cold and abundant
perspiration which trickled from his temples. The moment of silence
which followed this vehement outbreak represented for him who had
spoken, and for him who had listened, ages of suffering.

"Monsieur," said the king at length, "you spoke the word forgetfulness.
I have heard nothing but that word; I will reply, then, to it alone.
Others have perhaps been able to forget, but I have not, and the proof
is, that I remember that one day of riot, that one day when the furious
people, raging and roaring as the sea, invaded the royal palace; that
one day when I feigned sleep in my bed, one man alone, naked sword in
hand, concealed behind my curtain, watched over my life, ready to risk
his own for me, as he had before risked it twenty times for the lives of
my family. Was not the gentleman, whose name I then demanded, called M.
d'Artagnan? say, monsieur."

"Your majesty has a good memory," replied the officer, coldly.

"You see, then," continued the king, "if I have such remembrances of my
childhood, what an amount I may gather in the age of reason."

"Your majesty has been richly endowed by God," said the officer, in the
same tone.

"Come, Monsieur d'Artagnan," continued Louis, with feverish agitation,
"ought you not to be as patient as I am? Ought you not to do as I do?
Come!"

"And what do you do, sire?"

"I wait."

"Your majesty may do so, because you are young; but I, sire, have not
time to wait; old age is at my door, and death is behind it, looking
into the very depths of my house. Your majesty is beginning life, its
future is full of hope and fortune; but I, sire, I am on the other side
of the horizon, and we are so far from each other, that I should never
have time to wait till your majesty came up to me."

Louis made another turn in his apartment, still wiping the moisture from
his brow, in a manner that would have terrified his physicians, if his
physicians had witnessed the state his majesty was in.

"It is very well, monsieur," said Louis XIV., in a sharp voice; "you are
desirous of having your discharge, and you shall have it. You offer me
your resignation of the rank of lieutenant of the musketeers?"

"I deposit it humbly at your majesty's feet, sire."

"That is sufficient. I will order your pension."

"I shall have a thousand obligations to your majesty."

"Monsieur," said the king, with a violent effort, "I think you are
losing a good master."

"And I am sure of it, sire."

"Shall you ever find such another?"

"Oh, sire! I know that your majesty is alone in the world; therefore
will I never again take service with any king upon earth, and will never
again have other master than myself."

"You say so?"

"I swear so, your majesty."

"I shall remember that word, monsieur."

D'Artagnan bowed.

"And you know I have a good memory," said the king.

"Yes, sire, and yet I should desire that that memory should fail
your majesty in this instance, in order that you might forget all the
miseries I have been forced to spread before your eyes. Your majesty is
so much above the poor and the mean that I hope----"

"My majesty, monsieur, will act like the sun, which looks upon all,
great and small, rich and poor, giving luster to some, warmth to others,
and life to all. Adieu Monsieur d'Artagnan--adieu: you are free."

And the king, with a hoarse sob, which was lost in his throat, passed
quickly into the next room. D'Artagnan took up his hat from the table
upon which he had thrown it, and went out.



CHAPTER 15. The Proscribed



D'Artagnan had not reached the bottom of the staircase, when the king
called his gentleman. "I have a commission to give you, monsieur," said
he.

"I am at your majesty's commands."

"Wait, then." And the young king began to write the following letter,
which cost him more than one sigh, although, at the same time, something
like a feeling of triumph glittered in his eyes:



"My Lord Cardinal,--Thanks to your good counsels and, above all, thanks
to your firmness, I have succeeded in overcoming a weakness unworthy of
a king. You have too ably arranged my destiny to allow gratitude not to
stop me at the moment when I was about to destroy your work. I felt I
was wrong to wish to make my life turn from the course you had marked
out for it. Certainly it would have been a misfortune to France and my
family if a misunderstanding had taken place between me and my minister.
This, however, would certainly have happened if I had made your niece my
wife. I am perfectly aware of this, and will henceforth oppose nothing
to the accomplishment of my destiny. I am prepared, then, to wed the
infanta, Maria Theresa. You may at once open the conference.--Your
affectionate Louis."



The king, after reperusing the letter, sealed it himself. "This letter
for my lord cardinal," said he.

The gentleman took it. At Mazarin's door he found Bernouin waiting with
anxiety.

"Well?" asked the minister's valet de chambre.

"Monsieur," said the gentleman, "here is a letter for his eminence."

"A letter! Ah! we expected one after the little journey of the morning."

"Oh! you know, then, that his majesty----"

"As first minister, it belongs to the duties of our charge to know
everything. And his majesty prays and implores, I presume."

"I don't know, but he sighed frequently whilst he was writing."

"'Yes, yes, yes; we understand all that; people sigh sometimes from
happiness as well as from grief, monsieur."

"And yet the king did not look very happy when he returned, monsieur."

"You did not see clearly. Besides, you only saw his majesty on his
return, for he was only accompanied by the lieutenant of the guards. But
I had his eminence's telescope, I looked through it when he was tired,
and I am sure they both wept."

"Well! was it for happiness they wept?"

"No, but for love, and they vowed to each other a thousand tendernesses,
which the king asks no better than to keep. Now this letter is a
beginning of the execution."

"And what does his eminence think of this love, which is, by the bye, no
secret to anybody?"

Bernouin took the gentleman by the arm, and whilst ascending the
staircase,--"In confidence," said he, in a low voice, "his eminence
looks for success in the affair. I know very well we shall have war with
Spain; but, bah! war will please the nobles. My lord cardinal, besides,
can endow his niece royally, nay, more than royally. There will be
money, festivities, and fireworks--everybody will be delighted."

"Well, for my part," replied the gentleman, shaking his head, "it
appears to me that this letter is very light to contain all that."

"My friend," replied Bernouin, "I am certain of what I tell you. M.
d'Artagnan related all that passed to me."

"Ay, ay! and what did he tell you? Let us hear."

"I accosted him by asking him, on the part of the cardinal, if
there were any news, without discovering my designs, observe, for M.
d'Artagnan is a cunning hand. 'My dear Monsieur Bernouin,' he replied,
'the king is madly in love with Mademoiselle de Mancini, that is all I
have to tell you.' And then I asked him 'Do you think, to such a degree
that it will urge him to act contrary to the designs of his eminence?'
'Ah! don't ask me,' said he; 'I think the king capable of anything; he
has a will of iron, and what he wills he wills in earnest. If he takes
it into his head to marry Mademoiselle de Mancini, he will marry her,
depend upon it.' And thereupon he left me and went straight to the
stables, took a horse, saddled it himself, jumped upon its back, and set
off as if the devil were at his heels."

"So that you believe, then----"

"I believe that monsieur the lieutenant of the guards knew more than he
was willing to say."

"In your opinion, then, M. d'Artagnan----"

"Is gone, according to all probability, after the exiles, to carry out
all that can facilitate the success of the king's love."

Chatting thus, the two confidants arrived at the door of his eminence's
apartment. His eminence's gout had left him; he was walking about his
chamber in a state of great anxiety, listening at doors and looking out
of windows. Bernouin entered, followed by the gentleman, who had orders
from the king to place the letter in the hands of the cardinal himself.
Mazarin took the letter, but before opening it, he got up a ready smile,
a smile of circumstance, able to throw a veil over emotions of whatever
sort they might be. So prepared, whatever was the impression received
from the letter, no reflection of that impression was allowed to
transpire upon his countenance.

"Well," said he, when he had read and reread the letter, "very well,
monsieur. Inform the king that I thank him for his obedience to the
wishes of the queen-mother, and that I will do everything for the
accomplishment of his will."

The gentlemen left the room. The door had scarcely closed before the
cardinal, who had no mask for Bernouin, took off that which had so
recently covered his face, and with a most dismal expression,--"Call M.
de Brienne," said he. Five minutes afterward the secretary entered.

"Monsieur," said Mazarin, "I have just rendered a great service to the
monarchy, the greatest I have ever rendered it. You will carry this
letter, which proves it, to her majesty the queen-mother, and when she
shall have returned it to you, you will lodge it in portfolio B., which
is filled with documents and papers relative to my ministry."

Brienne went as desired, and, as the letter was unsealed, did not fail
to read it on his way. There is likewise no doubt that Bernouin, who was
on good terms with everybody, approached so near to the secretary as to
be able to read the letter over his shoulder; so that the news spread
with such activity through the castle, that Mazarin might have feared
it would reach the ears of the queen-mother before M. de Brienne could
convey Louis XIV.'s letter to her. A moment after orders were given for
departure, and M. de Conde having been to pay his respects to the
king on his pretended rising, inscribed the city of Poitiers upon his
tablets, as the place of sojourn and rest for their majesties.

Thus in a few instants was unraveled an intrigue which had covertly
occupied all the diplomacies of Europe. It had nothing, however, very
clear as a result, but to make a poor lieutenant of musketeers lose his
commission and his fortune. It is true, that in exchange he gained his
liberty. We shall soon know how M. d'Artagnan profited by this. For the
moment, if the reader will permit us, we shall return to the hostelry
of les Medici, of which one of the windows opened at the very moment the
orders were given for the departure of the king.

The window that opened was that of one of the rooms of Charles II. The
unfortunate prince had passed the night in bitter reflections, his head
resting on his hands, and his elbows on the table, whilst Parry, infirm
and old, wearied in body and in mind, had fallen asleep in a corner. A
singular fortune was that of this faithful servant, who saw beginning
for the second generation the fearful series of misfortunes which had
weighed so heavily on the first. When Charles II. had well thought over
the fresh defeat he had experienced, when he perfectly comprehended the
complete isolation into which he had just fallen, on seeing his fresh
hope left behind him, he was seized as with a vertigo, and sank back
in the large armchair in which he was seated. Then God took pity on the
unhappy prince, and sent to console him sleep, the innocent brother of
death. He did not wake till half-past six, that is to say, till the
sun shone brightly into his chamber, and Parry, motionless with fear of
waking him, was observing with profound grief the eyes of the young man
already red with wakefulness, and his cheeks pale with suffering and
privations.

At length the noise of some heavy carts descending towards the Loire
awakened Charles. He arose, looked around him like a man who has
forgotten everything, perceived Parry, shook him by the hand, and
commanded him to settle the reckoning with Master Cropole. Master
Cropole, being called upon to settle his account with Parry, acquitted
himself, it must be allowed, like an honest man; he only made his
customary remark, that the two travelers had eaten nothing, which had
the double disadvantage of being humiliating for his kitchen, and of
forcing him to ask payment for a repast not consumed, but not the less
lost. Parry had nothing to say to the contrary, and paid.

"I hope," said the king, "it has not been the same with the horses.
I don't see that they have eaten at your expense, and it would be a
misfortune for travelers like us, who have a long journey to make, to
have our horses fail us."

But Cropole, at this doubt, assumed his majestic air, and replied that
the stables of les Medici were not less hospitable than its refectory.

The king mounted his horse; his old servant did the same, and both set
out towards Paris, without meeting a single person on their road, in the
streets or the faubourgs of the city. For the prince the blow was the
more severe, as it was a fresh exile. The unfortunates cling to the
smallest hopes, as the happy do to the greatest good; and when they are
obliged to quit the place where that hope has soothed their hearts, they
experience the mortal regret which the banished man feels when he places
his foot upon the vessel which is to bear him into exile. It appears
that the heart already wounded so many times suffers from the least
scratch; it appears that it considers as a good the momentary absence of
evil, which is nothing but the absence of pain; and that God, into the
most terrible misfortunes, has thrown hope as the drop of water which
the rich bad man in hell entreated of Lazarus.

For one instant even the hope of Charles II. had been more than a
fugitive joy;--that was when he found himself so kindly welcomed by his
brother king; then it had taken a form that had become a reality; then,
all at once, the refusal of Mazarin had reduced the fictitious reality
to the state of a dream. This promise of Louis XIV., so soon retracted,
had been nothing but a mockery; a mockery like his crown--like his
scepter--like his friends--like all that had surrounded his royal
childhood, and which had abandoned his proscribed youth. Mockery!
everything was a mockery for Charles II. except the cold, black repose
promised by death.

Such were the ideas of the unfortunate prince while sitting listlessly
upon his horse, to which he abandoned the reins; he rode slowly along
beneath the warm May sun, in which the somber misanthropy of the exile
perceived a last insult to his grief.



CHAPTER 16. "Remember!"



A horseman was going rapidly along the road leading towards Blois, which
he had left nearly half an hour before, passed the two travelers, and,
though apparently in haste, raised his hat as he passed them. The king
scarcely observed this young man, who was about twenty-five years of
age, and who, turning round several times, made friendly signals to a
man standing before the gate of a handsome white-and-red house; that is
to say, built of brick and stone, with a slated roof, situated on the
left hand of the road the prince was traveling.

This man, old, tall, and thin, with white hair,--we speak of the one
standing by the gate;--this man replied to the farewell signals of the
young one by signs of parting as tender as could have been made by
a father, The young man disappeared at the first turn of the road,
bordered by fine trees, and the old man was preparing to return to the
house, when the two travelers, arriving in front of the gate, attracted
his attention.

The king, we have said, was riding with his head cast down, his arms
inert, leaving his horse to go what pace he liked, whilst Parry, behind
him, the better to imbibe the genial influence of the sun, had taken
off his hat, and was looking about right and left. His eyes encountered
those of the old man leaning against the gate; the latter, as if struck
by some strange spectacle, uttered an exclamation, and made one step
towards the two travelers. From Parry his eyes immediately turned
towards the king, upon whom they rested for an instant. This
exclamation, however rapid, was instantly reflected in a visible manner
upon the features of the tall old man. For scarcely had he recognized
the younger of the travelers--and we say recognized, for nothing but a
perfect recognition could have explained such an act--scarcely, we say,
had he recognized the younger of the two travelers, than he clapped his
hands together, with respectful surprise, and, raising his hat from his
head, bowed so profoundly that it might have been said he was kneeling.
This demonstration, however absent, or rather, however absorbed was the
king in his reflections, attracted his attention instantly; and checking
his horse and turning towards Parry, he exclaimed, "Good God, Parry,
who is that man who salutes me in such a marked manner? Can he know me,
think you?"

Parry, much agitated and very pale, had already turned his horse towards
the gate. "Ah, sire!" said he, stopping suddenly at five of six
paces' distance from the still bending man: "sire, I am seized with
astonishment, for I think I recognize that brave man. Yes, it must be
he! Will your majesty permit me to speak to him?"

"Certainly."

"Can it be you, Monsieur Grimaud?" asked Parry.

"Yes, it is I," replied the tall old man, drawing himself up, but
without losing his respectful demeanor.

"Sire," then said Parry, "I was not deceived. This good man is the
servant of the Comte de la Fere, and the Comte de la Fere, if you
remember, is the worthy gentleman of whom I have so often spoken to your
majesty that the remembrance of him must remain, not only in your mind,
but in your heart."

"He who assisted my father at his last moments?" asked Charles,
evidently affected at the remembrance.

"The same, sire."

"Alas!" said Charles; and then addressing Grimaud, whose penetrating and
intelligent eyes seemed to search and divine his thoughts,--"My friend,"
said he, "does your master, Monsieur le Comte de la Fere, live in this
neighborhood?"

"There," replied Grimaud, pointing with his outstretched arm to the
white-and-red house behind the gate.

"And is Monsieur le Comte de la Fere at home at present?"

"At the back, under the chestnut trees."

"Parry," said the king, "I will not miss this opportunity, so precious
for me, to thank the gentleman to whom our house is indebted for such a
noble example of devotedness and generosity. Hold my horse, my friend,
if you please." And, throwing the bridle to Grimaud, the king entered
the abode of Athos, quite alone, as one equal enters the dwelling
of another. Charles had been informed by the concise explanation of
Grimaud,--"At the back, under the chestnut trees;" he left, therefore,
the house on the left, and went straight down the path indicated. The
thing was easy; the tops of those noble trees, already covered with
leaves and flowers, rose above all the rest.

On arriving under the lozenges, by turns luminous and dark, which
checkered the ground of this path according as the trees were more or
less in leaf, the young prince perceived a gentleman walking with his
arms behind him, apparently plunged in a deep meditation. Without
doubt, he had often had this gentleman described to him, for, without
hesitating, Charles II. walked straight up to him. At the sound of his
footsteps, the Comte de la Fere raised his head, and seeing an unknown
man of noble and elegant carriage coming towards him, he raised his hat
and waited. At some paces from him, Charles II. likewise took off his
hat. Then, as if in reply to the comte's mute interrogation,--

"Monsieur le Comte," said he, "I come to discharge a duty towards you.
I have, for a long time, had the expression of a profound gratitude
to bring you. I am Charles II., son of Charles Stuart, who reigned in
England, and died on the scaffold."

On hearing this illustrious name, Athos felt a kind of shudder creep
through his veins, but at the sight of the young prince standing
uncovered before him, and stretching out his hand towards him, two
tears, for an instant, dimmed his brilliant eyes. He bent respectfully,
but the prince took him by the hand.

"See how unfortunate I am, my lord count; it is only due to chance that
I have met with you. Alas! I ought to have people around me whom I love
and honor, whereas I am reduced to preserve their services in my heart,
and their names in my memory: so that if your servant had not recognized
mine, I should have passed by your door as by that of a stranger."

"It is but too true," said Athos, replying with his voice to the first
part of the king's speech, and with a bow to the second; "it is but too
true, indeed, that your majesty has seen many evil days."

"And the worst, alas!" replied Charles, "are perhaps still to come."

"Sire, let us hope."

"Count, count," continued Charles, shaking his head, "I entertained hope
till last night, and that of a good Christian, I swear."

Athos looked at the king as if to interrogate him.

"Oh, the history is soon related," said Charles. "Proscribed, despoiled,
disdained, I resolved, in spite of all my repugnance, to tempt fortune
one last time. Is it not written above, that, for our family, all good
fortune and all bad fortune shall eternally come from France? You know
something of that, monsieur,--you, who are one of the Frenchmen whom my
unfortunate father found at the foot of his scaffold, on the day of his
death, after having found them at his right hand on the day of battle."

"Sire," said Athos modestly, "I was not alone. My companions and I did,
under the circumstances, our duty as gentlemen, and that was all. Your
majesty was about to do me the honor to relate----"

"That is true. I had the protection,--pardon my hesitation, count, but,
for a Stuart, you, who understand everything, you will comprehend that
the word is hard to pronounce;--I had, I say, the protection of my
cousin the stadtholder of Holland; but without the intervention, or at
least without the authorization of France, the stadtholder would not
take the initiative. I came, then, to ask this authorization of the king
of France, who has refused me."

"The king has refused you, sire!"

"Oh, not he; all justice must be rendered to my younger brother Louis;
but Monsieur de Mazarin----"

Athos bit his lips.

"You perhaps think I should have expected this refusal?" said the king,
who had noticed the movement.

"That was, in truth, my thought, sire," replied Athos, respectfully, "I
know that Italian of old."

"Then I determined to come to the test, and know at once the last word
of my destiny. I told my brother Louis, that, not to compromise either
France or Holland, I would tempt fortune myself in person, as I had
already done, with two hundred gentlemen, if he would give them to me,
and a million, if he would lend it me."

"Well, sire?"

"Well, monsieur, I am suffering at this moment something strange, and
that is, the satisfaction of despair. There is in certain souls,--and I
have just discovered that mine is of the number,--a real satisfaction in
the assurance that all is lost, and the time is come to yield."

"Oh, I hope," said Athos, "that your majesty is not come to that
extremity."

"To say so, my lord count, to endeavor to revive hope in my heart, you
must have ill understood what I have just told you. I came to Blois
to ask of my brother Louis the alms of a million, with which I had the
hopes of re-establishing my affairs; and my brother Louis has refused
me. You see, then, plainly, that all is lost."

"Will your majesty permit me to express a contrary opinion?"

"How is that, count? Do you think my heart of so low an order that I do
not know how to face my position?"

"Sire, I have always seen that it was in desperate positions that
suddenly the great turns of fortune have taken place."

"Thank you, count, it is some comfort to meet with a heart like yours,
that is to say, sufficiently trustful in God and in monarchy, never to
despair of a royal fortune, however low it may be fallen. Unfortunately,
my dear count, your words are like those remedies they call 'sovereign,'
and which, though able to cure curable wounds or diseases, fail against
death. Thank you for your perseverance in consoling me, count, thanks
for your devoted remembrance, but I know in what I must trust--nothing
will save me now. And see, my friend, I was so convinced, that I was
taking the route of exile with my old Parry; I was returning to devour
my poignant griefs in the little hermitage offered me by Holland. There,
believe me, count, all will soon be over, and death will come quickly,
it is called so often by this body, eaten up by its soul, and by this
soul, which aspires to heaven."

"Your majesty has a mother, a sister, and brothers; your majesty is the
head of the family, and ought, therefore, to ask a long life of God,
instead of imploring Him for a prompt death. Your majesty is an exile,
a fugitive, but you have right on your side; you ought to aspire to
combats, dangers, business, and not to rest in heavens."

"Count," said Charles II., with a smile of indescribable sadness, "have
you ever heard of a king who reconquered his kingdom with one servant
of the age of Parry, and with three hundred crowns which that servant
carried in his purse?"

"No, sire; but I have heard--and that more than once--that a dethroned
king has recovered his kingdom with a firm will, perseverance, some
friends, and a million skillfully employed."

"But you cannot have understood me. The million I asked of my brother
Louis was refused me."

"Sire," said Athos, "will your majesty grant me a few minutes, and
listen attentively to what remains for me to say to you?"

Charles II. looked earnestly at Athos. "Willingly, monsieur," said he.

"Then I will show your majesty the way," resumed the count, directing
his steps towards the house. He then conducted the king to his study,
and begged him to be seated. "Sire," said he, "your majesty just now
told me that, in the present state of England, a million would suffice
for the recovery of your kingdom."

"To attempt it at least, monsieur, and to die as a king if I should not
succeed."

"Well, then, sire, let your majesty, according to the promise you have
made me, have the goodness to listen to what I have to say." Charles
made an affirmative sign with his head. Athos walked straight up to the
door, the bolts of which he drew, after looking to see if anybody was
near, and then returned. "Sire," said he, "your majesty has kindly
remembered that I lent assistance to the very noble and very unfortunate
Charles I., when his executioners conducted him from St. James's to
Whitehall."

"Yes, certainly, I do remember it, and always shall remember it."

"Sire, it is a dismal history to be heard by a son who no doubt has
had it related to him many times; and yet I ought to repeat it to your
majesty without omitting one detail."

"Speak on, monsieur."

"When the king your father ascended the scaffold, or rather when he
passed from his chamber to the scaffold on a level with his window,
everything was prepared for his escape. The executioner was got out of
the way; a hole contrived under the floor of his apartment; I myself was
beneath the funeral vault, which I heard all at once creak beneath his
feet."

"Parry has related to me all these terrible details, monsieur."

Athos bowed, and resumed. "But here is something he has not related to
you, sire, for what follows passed between God, your father, and myself;
and never has the revelation of it been made even to my dearest friends.
'Go a little further off,' said the august patient to the executioner;
'it is but for an instant, and I know that I belong to you; but remember
not to strike till I give the signal. I wish to offer up my prayers in
freedom.'"

"Pardon me," said Charles II., turning very pale, "but you, count, who
know so many details of this melancholy event,--details which, as you
said just now, have never been revealed to anyone,--do you know the name
of that infernal executioner, of that base wretch who concealed his face
that he might assassinate a king with impunity?"

Athos became slightly pale. "His name?" said he, "yes, I know it, but
cannot tell it."

"And what is become of him, for nobody in England knows his destiny?"

"He is dead."

"But he did not die in his bed; he did not die a calm and peaceful
death, he did not die the death of the good?"

"He died a violent death, in a terrible night, rendered so by the
passions of man and a tempest from God. His body, pierced by a dagger,
sank to the depths of the ocean. God pardon his murderer!"

"Proceed, then," said Charles II., seeing that the count was unwilling
to say more.

"The king of England, after having, as I have said, spoken thus to the
masked executioner, added,--'Observe, you will not strike till I shall
stretch out my arms saying--REMEMBER!'"

"I was aware," said Charles, in an agitated voice, "that that was the
last word pronounced by my unfortunate father. But why and for whom?"

"For the French gentleman placed beneath his scaffold."

"For you, then, monsieur?"

"Yes, sire; and every one of the words which he spoke to me, through the
planks of the scaffold covered with a black cloth, still sounds in my
ears. The king knelt down on one knee: 'Comte de la Fere,' said he, 'are
you there?' 'Yes, sire,' replied I. Then the king stooped towards the
boards."

Charles II., also palpitating with interest, burning with grief, stooped
towards Athos, to catch, one by one, every word that escaped from him.
His head touched that of the comte.

"Then," continued Athos, "the king stooped. 'Comte de la Fere,' said
he, 'I could not be saved by you: it was not to be. Now, even though I
commit a sacrilege, I must speak to you. Yes, I have spoken to men--yes,
I have spoken to God, and I speak to you the last. To sustain a cause
which I thought sacred, I have lost the throne of my fathers and the
heritage of my children.'"

Charles II. concealed his face in his hands, and a bitter tear glided
between his white and slender fingers.

"'I have still a million in gold,' continued the king. 'I buried it
in the vaults of the castle of Newcastle, a moment before I left that
city.'" Charles raised his head with an expression of such painful
joy that it would have drawn tears from any one acquainted with his
misfortunes.

"A million!" murmured he. "Oh, count!"

"'You alone know that this money exists: employ it when you think it can
be of the greatest service to my eldest son. And now, Comte de la Fere,
bid me adieu!'

"'Adieu, adieu, sire!' cried I."

Charles arose, and went and leant his burning brow against the window.

"It was then," continued Athos, "that the king pronounced the word,
'REMEMBER!' addressed to me. You see, sire, that I have remembered."

The king could not resist or conceal his emotion. Athos beheld the
movement of his shoulders, which undulated convulsively; he heard the
sobs which burst from his overcharged breast. He was silent himself,
suffocated by the flood of bitter remembrances he had just poured upon
that royal head. Charles II., with a violent effort, left the window,
devoured his tears, and came and sat by Athos. "Sire," said the latter,
"I thought till to-day that the time had not yet arrived for the
employment of that last resource; but, with my eyes fixed upon England,
I felt it was approaching. To-morrow I meant to go and inquire in what
part of the world your majesty was, and then I purposed going to you.
You come to me, sire; that is an indication that God is with us."

"My lord," said Charles, in a voice choked by emotion, "you are, for me,
what an angel sent from heaven would be,--you are a preserver sent to
me from the tomb of my father himself; but, believe me, for ten years'
civil war has passed over my country, striking down men, tearing up the
soil, it is no more probable that gold should remain in the entrails of
the earth, than love in the hearts of my subjects."

"Sire, the spot in which his majesty buried the million is well known to
me, and no one, I am sure, has been able to discover it. Besides, is the
castle of Newcastle quite destroyed? Have they demolished it stone by
stone, and uprooted the soil to the last tree?"

"No, it is still standing: but at this moment General Monk occupies it
and is encamped there. The only spot from which I could look for succor,
where I possess a single resource, you see, is invaded by my enemies."

"General Monk, sire, cannot have discovered the treasure which I speak
of."

"Yes, but can I go and deliver myself up to Monk, in order to recover
this treasure? Ah! count, you see plainly I must yield to destiny, since
it strikes me to the earth every time I rise. What can I do with Parry
as my only servant, with Parry, whom Monk has already driven from his
presence? No, no, no, count, we must yield to this last blow."

"But what your majesty cannot do, and what Parry can no more attempt, do
you not believe that I could succeed in accomplishing?"

"You--you, count--you would go?"

"If it please your majesty," said Athos, bowing to the king, "yes, I
will go, sire."

"What! you so happy here, count?"

"I am never happy when I have a duty left to accomplish, and it is an
imperative duty which the king your father left me to watch over your
fortunes, and make a royal use of his money. So, if your majesty honors
me with a sign, I will go with you."

"Ah, monsieur!" said the king, forgetting all royal etiquette, and
throwing his arms around the neck of Athos, "you prove to me that there
is a God in heaven, and that this God sometimes sends messengers to the
unfortunate who groan on the earth."

Athos, exceedingly moved by this burst of feeling of the young man,
thanked him with profound respect, and approached the window. "Grimaud!"
cried he, "bring out my horses."

"What, now--immediately!" said the king. "Ah, monsieur, you are indeed a
wonderful man!"

"Sire," said Athos, "I know nothing more pressing than your majesty's
service. Besides," added he, smiling, "it is a habit contracted long
since, in the service of the queen your aunt, and of the king your
father. How is it possible for me to lose it at the moment your
majesty's service calls for it?"

"What a man!" murmured the king.

Then after a moment's reflection,--"But no, count, I cannot expose you
to such privations. I have no means of rewarding such services."

"Bah!" said Athos, laughing. "Your majesty is joking, have you not a
million? Ah! why am I not possessed of half such a sum! I would already
have raised a regiment. But, thank God! I have still a few rolls of gold
and some family diamonds left. Your majesty will, I hope, deign to share
with a devoted servant."

"With a friend--yes, count, but on condition that, in his turn, that
friend will share with me hereafter!"

"Sire!" said Athos, opening a casket, from which he drew both gold and
jewels, "you see, sire, we are too rich. Fortunately, there are four of
us, in the event of our meeting with thieves."

Joy made the blood rush to the pale cheeks of Charles II., as he saw
Athos's two horses, led by Grimaud, already booted for the journey,
advance towards the porch.

"Blaisois, this letter for the Vicomte de Bragelonne. For everybody
else I am gone to Paris. I confide the house to you, Blaisois." Blaisois
bowed, shook hands with Grimaud, and shut the gate.



CHAPTER 17. In which Aramis is sought and only Bazin is found



Two hours had scarcely elapsed since the departure of the master of the
house, who, in Blaisois's sight, had taken the road to Paris, when a
horseman, mounted on a good pied horse, stopped before the gate, and
with a sonorous "hola!" called the stable-boys who, with the gardeners,
had formed a circle round Blaisois, the historian-in-ordinary to the
household of the chateau. This "hola," doubtless well known to Master
Blaisois, made him turn his head and exclaim--"Monsieur d'Artagnan! run
quickly, you chaps, and open the gate."

A swarm of eight brisk lads flew to the gate, which was opened as if it
had been made of feathers; and every one loaded him with attentions, for
they knew the welcome this friend was accustomed to receive from their
master; and for such remarks the eye of the valet may always be depended
upon.

"Ah!" said M. d'Artagnan, with an agreeable smile, balancing himself
upon his stirrup to jump to the ground, "where is that dear count?"

"Ah! how unfortunate you are, monsieur!" said Blaisois: "and how
unfortunate will monsieur le comte our master, think himself when he
hears of your coming! As ill luck will have it, monsieur le comte left
home two hours ago."

D'Artagnan did not trouble himself about such trifles. "Very good!" said
he. "You always speak the best French in the world; you shall give me a
lesson in grammar and correct language, whilst I wait the return of your
master."

"That is impossible, monsieur," said Blaisois; "you would have to wait
too long."

"Will he not come back to-day, then?"

"No, nor to-morrow, nor the day after to-morrow. Monsieur le comte has
gone on a journey."

"A journey!" said D'Artagnan, surprised; "that's a fable, Master
Blaisois."

"Monsieur, it is no more than the truth. Monsieur has done me the honor
to give me the house in charge; and he added, with his voice so full of
authority and kindness--that is all one to me: 'You will say I have gone
to Paris.'"

"Well!" cried D'Artagnan, "since he is gone towards Paris, that is all
I wanted to know! you should have told me so at first, booby! He is then
two hours in advance?"

"Yes, monsieur."

"I shall soon overtake him. Is he alone?"

"No, monsieur."

"Who is with him, then?"

"A gentleman whom I don't know, an old man, and M. Grimaud."

"Such a party cannot travel as fast as I can--I will start."

"Will monsieur listen to me an instant?" said Blaisois, laying his hand
gently on the reins of the horse.

"Yes, if you don't favor me with fine speeches, and make haste."

"Well, then, monsieur, that word Paris appears to me to be only an
excuse."

"Oh, oh!" said D'Artagnan, seriously, "an excuse, eh?"

"Yes, monsieur; and monsieur le comte is not going to Paris, I will
swear."

"What makes you think so?"

"This--M. Grimaud always knows where our master is going; and he had
promised me that the first time he went to Paris, he would take a little
money for me to my wife."

"What, have you a wife, then?"

"I had one--she was of this country; but monsieur thought her a noisy
scold, and I sent her to Paris; it is sometimes inconvenient, but very
agreeable at others."

"I understand; but go on. You do not believe the count gone to Paris?"

"No, monsieur; for then M. Grimaud would have broken his word; he would
have perjured himself, and that is impossible."

"That is impossible," repeated D'Artagnan, quite in a study, because he
was quite convinced. "Well, my brave Blaisois, many thanks to you."

Blaisois bowed.

"Come, you know I am not curious--I have serious business with your
master. Could you not, by a little bit of a word--you who speak so
well--give me to understand--one syllable, only--I will guess the rest."

"Upon my word, monsieur, I cannot. I am quite ignorant where monsieur le
comte is gone. As to listening at doors, that is contrary to my nature;
and besides it is forbidden here."

"My dear fellow," said D'Artagnan, "this is a very bad beginning for me.
Never mind, you know when monsieur le comte will return, at least?"

"As little, monsieur, as the place of his destination."

"Come, Blaisois, come, search."

"Monsieur doubts my sincerity? Ah, monsieur, that grieves me much."

"The devil take his gilded tongue!" grumbled D'Artagnan. "A clown with a
word would be worth a dozen of him. Adieu!"

"Monsieur, I have the honor to present you my respects."

"Cuistre!" said D'Artagnan to himself, "the fellow is unbearable." He
gave another look up to the house, turned his horse's head, and set off
like a man who has nothing either annoying or embarrassing in his mind.
When he was at the end of the wall, and out of sight,--"Well, now, I
wonder," said he, breathing quickly, "whether Athos was at home. No; all
those idlers, standing with their arms crossed, would have been at
work if the eye of the master was near. Athos gone a journey?--that is
incomprehensible. Bah! it is all devilish mysterious! And then--no--he
is not the man I want. I want one of a cunning, patient mind. My
business is at Melun, in a certain presbytery I am acquainted with.
Forty-five leagues--four days and a half! Well, it is fine weather, and
I am free. Never mind the distance!"

And he put his horse into a trot, directing his course towards Paris. On
the fourth day he alighted at Melun as he had intended.

D'Artagnan was never in the habit of asking any one on the road for any
common information. For these sorts of details, unless in very serious
circumstances, he confided in his perspicacity, which was so seldom
at fault, in his experience of thirty years, and in a great habit of
reading the physiognomies of houses, as well as those of men. At Melun,
D'Artagnan immediately found the presbytery--a charming house, plastered
over red brick, with vines climbing along the gutters, and a cross, in
carved stone, surmounting the ridge of the roof. From the ground-floor
of this house came a noise, or rather a confusion of voices, like the
chirping of young birds when the brood is just hatched under the down.
One of these voices was spelling the alphabet distinctly. A voice,
thick, yet pleasant, at the same time scolded the talkers and corrected
the faults of the reader. D'Artagnan recognized that voice, and as the
window of the ground-floor was open, he leant down from his horse under
the branches and red fibers of the vine and cried "Bazin, my dear Bazin!
good-day to you."

A short, fat man, with a flat face, a craniun ornamented with a crown
of gray hairs, cut short, in imitation of a tonsure, and covered with an
old black velvet cap, arose as soon as he heard D'Artagnan--we ought not
to say arose, but bounded up. In fact, Bazin bounded up, carrying with
him his little low chair, which the children tried to take away, with
battles more fierce than those of the Greeks endeavoring to recover the
body of Patroclus from the hands of the Trojans. Bazin did more than
bound; he let fall both his alphabet and his ferule. "You!" said he,
"you, Monsieur d'Artagnan?"

"Yes, myself! Where is Aramis--no, M. le Chevalier d'Herblay--no, I am
still mistaken--Monsieur le Vicaire-General?"

"Ah, monsieur," said Bazin, with dignity, "monseigneur is at his
diocese."

"What did you say?" said D'Artagnan. Bazin repeated the sentence.

"Ah, ah! but has Aramis a diocese?"

"Yes, monsieur. Why not?"

"Is he a bishop, then?"

"Why, where can you come from," said Bazin, rather irreverently, "that
you don't know that?"

"My dear Bazin, we pagans, we men of the sword, know very well when a
man is made a colonel, or maitre-de-camp, or marshal of France; but
if he be made a bishop, archbishop, or pope--devil take me if the news
reaches us before the three quarters of the earth have had the advantage
of it!"

"Hush! hush!" said Bazin, opening his eyes: "do not spoil these poor
children, in whom I am endeavoring to inculcate such good principles."
In fact, the children had surrounded D'Artagnan, whose horse, long
sword, spurs, and martial air they very much admired. But above all,
they admired his strong voice; so that, when he uttered his oath, the
whole school cried out, "The devil take me!" with fearful bursts
of laughter, shouts, and bounds, which delighted the musketeer, and
bewildered the old pedagogue.

"There!" said he, "hold your tongues, you brats! You have come, M.
d'Artagnan, and all my good principles fly away. With you, as usual,
comes disorder. Babel is revived. Ah! Good Lord! Ah! the wild little
wretches!" And the worthy Bazin distributed right and left blows which
increased the cries of his scholars by changing the nature of them.

"At least," said he, "you will no longer decoy any one here."

"Do you think so?" said D'Artagnan, with a smile which made a shudder
creep over the shoulders of Bazin.

"He is capable of it," murmured he.

"Where is your master's diocese?"

"Monseigneur Rene is bishop of Vannes."

"Who had him nominated?"

"Why, monsieur le surintendant, our neighbor."

"What! Monsieur Fouquet?"

"To be sure he did."

"Is Aramis on good terms with him, then?"

"Monseigneur preached every Sunday at the house of monsieur le
surintendant at Vaux; then they hunted together."

"Ah!"

"And monseigneur composed his homilies--no, I mean his sermons--with
monsieur le surintendant."

"Bah! he preached in verse, then, this worthy bishop?"

"Monsieur, for the love of heaven, do not jest with sacred things."

"There, Bazin, there! So, then, Aramis is at Vannes?"

"At Vannes, in Bretagne."

"You are a deceitful old hunks, Bazin; that is not true."

"See, monsieur, if you please; the apartments of the presbytery are
empty."

"He is right there," said D'Artagnan, looking attentively at the house,
the aspect of which announced solitude.

"But monseigneur must have written you an account of his promotion."

"When did it take place?"

"A month back."

"Oh! then there is no time lost. Aramis cannot yet have wanted me. But
how is it, Bazin, you do not follow your master?"

"Monsieur, I cannot; I have occupations."

"Your alphabet?"

"And my penitents."

"What, do you confess, then? Are you a priest?"

"The same as one. I have such a call."

"But the orders?"

"Oh," said Bazin, without hesitation, "now that monseigneur is a bishop,
I shall soon have my orders, or at least my dispensations." And he
rubbed his hands.

"Decidedly," said D'Artagnan to himself, "there will be no means of
uprooting these people. Get me some supper Bazin."

"With pleasure, monsieur."

"A fowl, a bouillon, and a bottle of wine."

"This is Saturday, monsieur--it is a day of abstinence."

"I have a dispensation," said D'Artagnan.

Bazin looked at him suspiciously.

"Ah, ah, master hypocrite!" said the musketeer, "for whom do you take
me? If you, who are the valet, hope for dispensation to commit a crime,
shall not I, the friend of your bishop, have dispensation for eating
meat at the call of my stomach? Make yourself agreeable with me,
Bazin, or, by heavens! I will complain to the king, and you shall never
confess. Now you know that the nomination of bishops rests with the
king--I have the king, I am the stronger."

Bazin smiled hypocritically. "Ah, but we have monsieur le surintendant,"
said he.

"And you laugh at the king, then?"

Bazin made no reply; his smile was sufficiently eloquent.

"My supper," said D'Artagnan, "it is getting towards seven o'clock."

Bazin turned round and ordered the eldest of the pupils to inform the
cook. In the meantime, D'Artagnan surveyed the presbytery.

"Phew!" said he, disdainfully, "monseigneur lodged his grandeur very
meanly here."

"We have the Chateau de Vaux," said Bazin.

"Which is perhaps equal to the Louvre?" said D'Artagnan, jeeringly.

"Which is better," replied Bazin, with the greatest coolness imaginable.

"Ah, ah!" said D'Artagnan.

He would perhaps have prolonged the discussion, and maintained the
superiority of the Louvre, but the lieutenant perceived that his horse
remained fastened to the bars of a gate.

"The devil!" said he. "Get my horse looked after; your master the bishop
has none like him in his stables."

Bazin cast a sidelong glance at the horse, and replied, "Monsieur le
surintendant gave him four from his own stables; and each of the four is
worth four of yours."

The blood mounted to the face of D'Artagnan. His hand itched and his eye
glanced over the head of Bazin, to select the place upon which he should
discharge his anger. But it passed away; reflection came, and D'Artagnan
contented himself with saying,--

"The devil! the devil! I have done well to quit the service of the
king. Tell me, worthy Master Bazin," added he, "how many musketeers does
monsieur le surintendant retain in his service?"

"He could have all there are in the kingdom with his money," replied
Bazin, closing his book, and dismissing the boys with some kindly blows
of his cane.

"The devil! the devil!" repeated D'Artagnan, once more, as if to annoy
the pedagogue. But as supper was now announced, he followed the cook,
who introduced him into the refectory, where it awaited him. D'Artagnan
placed himself at the table, and began a hearty attack upon his fowl.

"It appears to me," said D'Artagnan, biting with all his might at the
tough fowl they had served up to him, and which they had evidently
forgotten to fatten,--"it appears that I have done wrong in not seeking
service with that master yonder. A powerful noble this intendant,
seemingly! In good truth, we poor fellows know nothing at the court, and
the rays of the sun prevent our seeing the large stars, which are also
suns, at a little greater distance from our earth,--that is all."

As D'Artagnan delighted, both from pleasure and system, in making people
talk about things which interested him, he fenced in his best style
with Master Bazin, but it was pure loss of time; beyond the tiresome and
hyperbolical praises of monsieur le surintendant of the finances, Bazin,
who, on his side, was on his guard, afforded nothing but platitudes to
the curiosity of D'Artagnan, so that our musketeer, in a tolerably bad
humor, desired to go to bed as soon as he had supped. D'Artagnan was
introduced by Bazin into a mean chamber, in which there was a poor bed;
but D'Artagnan was not fastidious in that respect. He had been told that
Aramis had taken away the key of his own private apartment, and as he
knew Aramis was a very particular man, and had generally many things
to conceal in his apartment, he had not been surprised. He, therefore,
although it appeared comparatively even harder, attacked the bed as
bravely as he had done the fowl; and, as he had as good an inclination
to sleep as he had had to eat, he took scarcely longer time to be
snoring harmoniously than he had employed in picking the last bones of
the bird.

Since he was no longer in the service of any one, D'Artagnan had
promised himself to indulge in sleeping as soundly as he had formerly
slept lightly; but with whatever good faith D'Artagnan had made himself
this promise, and whatever desire he might have to keep it religiously,
he was awakened in the middle of the night by a loud noise of carriages,
and servants on horseback. A sudden illumination flashed over the walls
of his chamber; he jumped out of bed and ran to the window in his shirt.
"Can the king be coming this way?" he thought, rubbing his eyes; "in
truth, such a suite can only be attached to royalty."

"Vive monsieur le surintendant!" cried, or rather vociferated, from a
window on the ground-floor, a voice which he recognized as Bazin's, who
at the same time waved a handkerchief with one hand, and held a large
candle in the other. D'Artagnan then saw something like a brilliant
human form leaning out of the principal carriage; at the same time loud
bursts of laughter, caused, no doubt, by the strange figure of Bazin,
and issuing from the same carriage, left, as it were, a train of joy
upon the passage of the rapid cortege.

"I might easily see it was not the king," said D'Artagnan; "people don't
laugh so heartily when the king passes. Hola, Bazin!" cried he to his
neighbor, three-quarters of whose body still hung out of the window, to
follow the carriage with his eyes as long as he could. "What is all that
about?"

"It is M. Fouquet," said Bazin, in a patronizing tone.

"And all those people?"

"That is the court of M. Fouquet."

"Oh, oh!" said D'Artagnan; "what would M. de Mazarin say to that if he
heard it?" And he returned to his bed, asking himself how Aramis
always contrived to be protected by the most powerful personages in the
kingdom. "Is it that he has more luck than I, or that I am a greater
fool than he? Bah!" that was the concluding word by the aid of which
D'Artagnan, having become wise, now terminated every thought and every
period of his style. Formerly he said, "Mordioux!" which was a prick
of the spur, but now he had become older, and he murmured that
philosophical "Bah!" which served as a bridle to all the passions.



CHAPTER 18. In which D'Artagnan seeks Porthos, and only finds Mousqueton



When D'Artagnan had perfectly convinced himself that the absence of
the Vicar-General d'Herblay was real, and that his friend was not to be
found at Melun or in its vicinity, he left Bazin without regret, cast
an ill-natured glance at the magnificent Chateau de Vaux which was
beginning to shine with that splendor which brought on its ruin, and,
compressing his lips like a man full of mistrust and suspicion, he put
spurs to his pied horse, saying, "Well, well! I have still Pierrefonds
left, and there I shall find the best man and the best filled coffer.
And that is all I want, for I have an idea of my own."

We will spare our readers the prosaic incidents of D'Artagnan's journey,
which terminated on the morning of the third day within sight of
Pierrefonds. D'Artagnan came by the way of Nanteuil-le-Hardouin and
Crepy. At a distance he perceived the Castle of Louis of Orleans, which,
having become part of the crown domain, was kept by an old concierge.
This was one of those marvelous manors of the middle ages, with walls
twenty feet in thickness, and a hundred in height.

D'Artagnan rode slowly past its walls, measured its towers with his eye
and descended into the valley. From afar he looked down upon the chateau
of Porthos, situated on the shores of a small lake, and contiguous to a
magnificent forest. It was the same place we have already had the honor
of describing to our readers; we shall therefore satisfy ourselves with
naming it. The first thing D'Artagnan perceived after the fine trees,
the May sun gilding the sides of the green hills, the long rows of
feather-topped trees which stretched out towards Compiegne, was a large
rolling box, pushed forward by two servants and dragged by two others.
In this box there was an enormous green-and-gold thing, which went along
the smiling glades of the park, thus dragged and pushed. This thing,
at a distance, could not be distinguished, and signified absolutely
nothing; nearer, it was a hogshead muffled in gold-bound green cloth;
when close, it was a man, or rather a poussa, the interior extremity of
whom, spreading over the interior of the box, entirely filled it, when
still closer, the man was Mousqueton--Mousqueton, with gray hair and a
face as red as Punchinello's.

"Pardieu!" cried D'Artagnan; "why, that's my dear Monsieur Mousqueton!"

"Ah!" cried the fat man--"ah! what happiness! what joy! There's M.
d'Artagnan. Stop, you rascals!" These last words were addressed to
the lackeys who pushed and dragged him. The box stopped, and the four
lackeys, with a precision quite military, took off their laced hats and
ranged themselves behind it.

"Oh, Monsieur d'Artagnan!" said Mousqueton, "why can I not embrace your
knees? But I have become impotent, as you see."

"Dame! my dear Mousqueton, it is age."

"No, monsieur, it is not age; it is infirmities--troubles."

"Troubles! you, Mousqueton?" said D'Artagnan making the tour of the box;
"are you out of your mind, my dear friend? Thank God! you are as hearty
as a three-hundred-year-old oak."

"Ah! but my legs, monsieur, my legs!" groaned the faithful servant.

"What's the matter with your legs?"

"Oh, they will no longer bear me!"

"Ah, the ungrateful things! And yet you feed them well, Mousqueton,
apparently."

"Alas, yes! They can reproach me with nothing in that respect," said
Mousqueton, with a sigh; "I have always done what I could for my poor
body; I am not selfish." And Mousqueton sighed afresh.

"I wonder whether Mousqueton wants to be a baron, too, as he sighs after
that fashion?" thought D'Artagnan.

"Mon Dieu, monsieur!" said Mousqueton, as if rousing himself from a
painful reverie; "how happy monseigneur will be that you have thought of
him!"

"Kind Porthos!" cried D'Artagnan, "I am anxious to embrace him."

"Oh!" said Mousqueton, much affected, "I shall certainly write to him."

"What!" cried D'Artagnan, "you will write to him?"

"This very day; I shall not delay it an hour."

"Is he not here, then?"

"No, monsieur."

"But is he near at hand?--is he far off?"

"Oh, can I tell, monsieur, can I tell?"

"Mordioux!" cried the musketeer, stamping with his foot, "I am
unfortunate. Porthos such a stay-at-home!"

"Monsieur, there is not a more sedentary man than monseigneur, but----"

"But what?"

"When a friend presses you----"

"A friend?"

"Doubtless--the worthy M. d'Herblay."

"What, has Aramis pressed Porthos?"

"This is how the thing happened, Monsieur d'Artagnan. M. d'Herblay wrote
to monseigneur----"

"Indeed!"

"A letter, monsieur, such a pressing letter that it threw us all into a
bustle."

"Tell me all about it, my dear friend." said D'Artagnan; "but remove
these people a little further off first."

Mousqueton shouted, "Fall back, you fellows," with such powerful lungs
that the breath, without the words, would have been sufficient to
disperse the four lackeys. D'Artagnan seated himself on the shaft of
the box and opened his ears. "Monsieur," said Mousqueton, "monseigneur,
then, received a letter from M. le Vicaire-General d'Herblay, eight or
nine days ago; it was the day of the rustic pleasures, yes, it must have
been Wednesday."

"What do you mean?" said D'Artagnan. "The day of rustic pleasures?"

"Yes, monsieur; we have so many pleasures to take in this delightful
country, that we were encumbered by them; so much so, that we have been
forced to regulate the distribution of them."

"How easily do I recognize Porthos's love of order in that! Now, that
idea would never have occurred to me; but then I am not encumbered with
pleasures."

"We were, though," said Mousqueton.

"And how did you regulate the matter, let me know?" said D'Artagnan.

"It is rather long, monsieur."

"Never mind, we have plenty of time; and you speak so well, my dear
Mousqueton, that it is really a pleasure to hear you."

"It is true," said Mousqueton, with a sigh of satisfaction, which
emanated evidently from the justice which had been rendered him, "it is
true I have made great progress in the company of monseigneur."

"I am waiting for the distribution of the pleasures, Mousqueton, and
with impatience. I want to know if I have arrived on a lucky day."

"Oh, Monsieur d'Artagnan," said Mousqueton in a melancholy tone, "since
monseigneur's departure all the pleasures have gone too!"

"Well, my dear Mousqueton, refresh your memory."

"With what day shall I begin?"

"Eh, pardieux! begin with Sunday; that is the Lord's day."

"Sunday, monsieur?"

"Yes."

"Sunday pleasures are religious: monseigneur goes to mass, makes the
bread-offering, and has discourses and instructions made to him by his
almoner-in-ordinary. That is not very amusing, but we expect a Carmelite
from Paris who will do the duty of our almonry, and who, we are assured,
speaks very well, which will keep us awake, whereas our present almoner
always sends us to sleep. These are Sunday religious pleasures. On
Monday, worldly pleasures."

"Ah, ah!" said D'Artagnan, "what do you mean by that? Let us have a
glimpse at your worldly pleasures."

"Monsieur, on Monday we go into the world; we pay and receive visits, we
play on the lute, we dance, we make verses, and burn a little incense in
honor of the ladies."

"Peste! that is the height of gallantry," said the musketeer, who was
obliged to call to his aid all the strength of his facial muscles to
suppress an enormous inclination to laugh.

"Tuesday, learned pleasures."

"Good!" cried D'Artagnan. "What are they? Detail them, my dear
Mousqueton."

"Monseigneur has bought a sphere or globe, which I shall show you; it
fills all the perimeter of the great tower, except a gallery which he
has had built over the sphere: there are little strings and brass wires
to which the sun and moon are hooked. It all turns; and that is very
beautiful. Monseigneur points out to me seas and distant countries. We
don't intend to visit them, but it is very interesting."

"Interesting! yes, that's the word," repeated D'Artagnan. "And
Wednesday?"

"Rustic pleasures, as I have had the honor to tell you, monsieur le
chevalier. We look over monseigneur's sheep and goats; we make the
shepherds dance to pipes and reeds, as is written in a book monseigneur
has in his library, which is called 'Bergeries.' The author died about a
month ago."

"Monsieur Racan, perhaps," said D'Artagnan.

"Yes, that was his name--M. Racan. But that is not all: we angle in
the little canal, after which we dine, crowned with flowers. That is
Wednesday."

"Peste!" said D'Artagnan, "you don't divide your pleasures badly. And
Thursday?--what can be left for poor Thursday?"

"It is not very unfortunate, monsieur," said Mousqueton, smiling.
"Thursday, Olympian pleasures. Ah, monsieur, that is superb! We get
together all monseigneur's young vassals, and we make them throw the
disc, wrestle, and run races. Monseigneur can't run now, no more can I;
but monseigneur throws the disc as nobody else can throw it. And when he
does deal a blow, oh, that proves a misfortune!"

"How so?"

"Yes, monsieur, we were obliged to renounce the cestus. He cracked
heads; he broke jaws--beat in ribs. It was charming sport; but nobody
was willing to play with him."

"Then his wrist----"

"Oh, monsieur, firmer than ever. Monseigneur gets a trifle weaker in his
legs,--he confesses that himself; but his strength has all taken refuge
in his arms, so that----"

"So that he can knock down bullocks, as he used formerly."

"Monsieur, better than that--he beats in walls. Lately, after
having supped with one of our farmers--you know how popular and kind
monseigneur is--after supper as a joke, he struck the wall a blow. The
wall crumbled away beneath his hand, the roof fell in, and three men and
an old woman were stifled."

"Good God, Mousqueton! And your master?"

"Oh, monseigneur, a little skin was rubbed off his head. We bathed the
wounds with some water which the monks gave us. But there was nothing
the matter with his hand."

"Nothing?"

"No, nothing, monsieur."

"Deuce take the Olympic pleasures! They must cost your master too dear,
for widows and orphans----"

"They all had pensions, monsieur; a tenth of monseigneur's revenue was
spent in that way."

"Then pass on to Friday," said D'Artagnan.

"Friday, noble and warlike pleasures. We hunt, we fence, we dress
falcons and break horses. Then, Saturday is the day for intellectual
pleasures: we adorn our minds; we look at monseigneur's pictures and
statues; we write, even, and trace plans: and then we fire monseigneur's
cannon."

"You draw plans, and fire cannon?"

"Yes, monsieur."

"Why, my friend," said D'Artagnan, "M. du Vallon, in truth, possesses
the most subtle and amiable mind that I know. But there is one kind of
pleasure you have forgotten, it appears to me."

"What is that, monsieur?" asked Mousqueton, with anxiety.

"The material pleasures."

Mousqueton colored. "What do you mean by that, monsieur?" said he,
casting down his eyes.

"I mean the table--good wine--evenings occupied in passing the bottle."

"Ah, monsieur, we don't reckon those pleasures,--we practice them every
day."

"My brave Mousqueton," resumed D'Artagnan, "pardon me, but I was so
absorbed in your charming recital that I have forgotten the
principal object of our conversation, which was to learn what M. le
Vicaire-General d'Herblay could have to write to your master about."

"That is true, monsieur," said Mousqueton; "the pleasures have misled
us. Well, monsieur, this is the whole affair."

"I am all attention, Mousqueton."

"On Wednesday----"

"The day of the rustic pleasures?"

"Yes--a letter arrived; he received it from my hands. I had recognized
the writing."

"Well?"

"Monseigneur read it and cried out, 'Quick, my horses! my arms!'"

"Oh, good Lord! then it was for some duel?" said D'Artagnan.

"No, monsieur, there were only these words: 'Dear Porthos, set out, if
you would wish to arrive before the Equinox. I expect you.'"

"Mordioux!" said D'Artagnan, thoughtfully, "that was pressing,
apparently."

"I think so; therefore," continued Mousqueton, "monseigneur set out
the very same day with his secretary, in order to endeavor to arrive in
time."

"And did he arrive in time?"

"I hope so. Monseigneur, who is hasty, as you know, monsieur, repeated
incessantly, 'Tonno Dieu! What can this mean? The Equinox? Never mind, a
fellow must be well mounted to arrive before I do.'"

"And you think Porthos will have arrived first, do you?" asked
D'Artagnan.

"I am sure of it. This Equinox, however rich he may be, has certainly no
horses so good as monseigneur's."

D'Artagnan repressed his inclination to laugh, because the brevity of
Aramis's letter gave rise to reflection. He followed Mousqueton, or
rather Mousqueton's chariot, to the castle. He sat down to a sumptuous
table, of which they did him the honors as to a king. But he could draw
nothing from Mousqueton,--the faithful servant seemed to shed tears at
will, but that was all.

D'Artagnan, after a night passed in an excellent bed, reflected much
upon the meaning of Aramis's letter; puzzled himself as to the relation
of the Equinox with the affairs of Porthos; and being unable to make
anything out unless it concerned some amour of the bishop's, for which
it was necessary that the days and nights should be equal, D'Artagnan
left Pierrefonds as he had left Melun, as he had left the chateau of the
Comte de la Fere. It was not, however, without a melancholy, which might
in good sooth pass for one of the most dismal of D'Artagnan's moods.
His head cast down, his eyes fixed, he suffered his legs to hang on each
side of his horse, and said to himself, in that vague sort of reverie
which ascends sometimes to the sublimest eloquence:

"No more friends! no more future! no more anything! My energies are
broken like the bonds of our ancient friendship. Oh, old age is coming,
cold and inexorable; it envelops in its funereal crape all that was
brilliant, all that was embalming in my youth; then it throws that sweet
burthen on its shoulders and carries it away with the rest into the
fathomless gulf of death."

A shudder crept through the heart of the Gascon, so brave and so strong
against all the misfortunes of life; and during some moments the clouds
appeared black to him, the earth slippery and full of pits as that of
cemeteries.

"Whither am I going?" said he to himself. "What am I going to do! Alone,
quite alone--without family, without friends! Bah!" cried he all at
once. And he clapped spurs to his horse, who, having found nothing
melancholy in the heavy oats of Pierrefonds profited by this permission
to show his gayety in a gallop which absorbed two leagues. "To Paris!"
said D'Artagnan to himself. And on the morrow he alighted in Paris. He
had devoted six days to this journey.



CHAPTER 19. What D'Artagnan went to Paris for



The lieutenant dismounted before a shop in the Rue des Lombards, at the
sign of the Pilon d'Or. A man of good appearance, wearing a white apron,
and stroking his gray mustache with a large hand, uttered a cry of joy
on perceiving the pied horse. "Monsieur le chevalier," said he, "ah, is
that you?"

"Bon jour, Planchet," replied D'Artagnan, stooping to enter the shop.

"Quick, somebody," cried Planchet, "to look after Monsieur d'Artagnan's
horse,--somebody to get ready his room,--somebody to prepare his
supper."

"Thanks, Planchet. Good-day, my children!" said D'Artagnan to the eager
boys.

"Allow me to send off this coffee, this treacle, and these
raisins," said Planchet; "they are for the store-room of monsieur le
surintendant."

"Send them off, send them off!"

"That is only the affair of a moment, then we shall sup."

"Arrange it that we may sup alone; I want to speak to you."

Planchet looked at his old master in a significant manner.

"Oh, don't be uneasy, it is nothing unpleasant," said D'Artagnan.

"So much the better--so much the better!" And Planchet breathed freely
again, whilst D'Artagnan seated himself quietly down in the shop, upon
a bale of corks, and made a survey of the premises. The shop was well
stocked; there was a mingled perfume of ginger, cinnamon, and ground
pepper, which made D'Artagnan sneeze. The shop-boy, proud of being in
company with so renowned a warrior, of a lieutenant of musketeers, who
approached the person of the king, began to work with an enthusiasm
which was something like delirium, and to serve the customers with a
disdainful haste that was noticed by several.

Planchet put away his money, and made up his accounts, amidst civilities
addressed to his former master. Planchet had with his equals the short
speech and the haughty familiarity of the rich shopkeeper who serves
everybody and waits for nobody. D'Artagnan observed this habit with
a pleasure which we shall analyze presently. He saw night come on by
degrees, and at length Planchet conducted him to a chamber on the first
story, where, amidst bales and chests, a table very nicely set out
awaited the two guests.

D'Artagnan took advantage of a moment's pause to examine the countenance
of Planchet, whom he had not seen for a year. The shrewd Planchet had
acquired a slight protuberance in front, but his countenance was not
puffed. His keen eye still played with facility in its deep-sunk orbit;
and fat, which levels all the characteristic saliences of the human
face, had not yet touched either his high cheek-bones, the sign of
cunning and cupidity, or his pointed chin, the sign of acuteness and
perseverance. Planchet reigned with as much majesty in his dining-room
as in his shop. He set before his master a frugal, but perfectly
Parisian repast: roast meat, cooked at the baker's, with vegetables,
salad, and a dessert borrowed from the shop itself. D'Artagnan was
pleased that the grocer had drawn from behind the fagots a bottle of
that Anjou wine which during all his life had been D'Artagnan's favorite
wine.

"Formerly, monsieur," said Planchet, with a smile full of bonhomie, "it
was I who drank your wine; now you do me the honor to drink mine."

"And, thank God, friend Planchet, I shall drink it for a long time to
come, I hope; for at present I am free."

"Free? You have leave of absence, monsieur?"

"Unlimited."

"You are leaving the service?" said Planchet, stupefied.

"Yes, I am resting."

"And the king?" cried Planchet, who could not suppose it possible that
the king could do without the services of such a man as D'Artagnan.

"The king will try his fortune elsewhere. But we have supped well, you
are disposed to enjoy yourself; you invite me to confide in you. Open
your ears, then."

"They are open." And Planchet, with a laugh more frank than cunning,
opened a bottle of white wine.

"Leave me my reason, at least."

"Oh, as to you losing your head--you, monsieur!"

"Now my head is my own, and I mean to take better care of it than ever.
In the first place we shall talk business. How fares our money-box?"

"Wonderfully well, monsieur. The twenty thousand livres I had of you are
still employed in my trade, in which they bring me nine per cent. I give
you seven, so I gain two by you."

"And you are still satisfied?"

"Delighted. Have you brought me any more?"

"Better than that. But do you want any?"

"Oh! not at all. Every one is willing to trust me now. I am extending my
business."

"That was your intention."

"I play the banker a little. I buy goods of my needy brethren; I lend
money to those who are not ready for their payments."

"Without usury?"

"Oh! monsieur, in the course of the last week I have had two meetings on
the boulevards, on account of the word you have just pronounced."

"What?"

"You shall see: it concerned a loan. The borrower gives me in pledge
some raw sugars, on condition that I should sell if repayment were not
made within a fixed period. I lend a thousand livres. He does not pay
me and I sell the sugars for thirteen hundred livres. He learns this and
claims a hundred crowns. Ma foi! I refused, pretending that I could not
sell them for more than nine hundred livres. He accused me of usury. I
begged him to repeat that word to me behind the boulevards. He was an
old guard, and he came: and I passed your sword through his left thigh."

"Tu dieu! what a pretty sort of banker you make!" said D'Artagnan.

"For above thirteen per cent. I fight," replied Planchet; "that is my
character."

"Take only twelve," said D'Artagnan, "and call the rest premium and
brokerage."

"You are right, monsieur; but to your business."

"Ah! Planchet, it is very long and very hard to speak."

"Do speak it, nevertheless."

D'Artagnan twisted his mustache like a man embarrassed with the
confidence he is about to make and mistrustful of his confidant.

"Is it an investment?" asked Planchet.

"Why, yes."

"At good profit?"

"A capital profit,--four hundred per cent., Planchet."

Planchet gave such a blow with his fist upon the table, that the bottles
bounded as if they had been frightened.

"Good heavens! is that possible?"

"I think it will be more," replied D'Artagnan coolly; "but I like to lay
it at the lowest!"

"The devil!" said Planchet, drawing nearer. "Why monsieur, that is
magnificent! Can one put much money in it?"

"Twenty thousand livres each, Planchet."

"Why, that is all you have, monsieur. For how long a time?"

"For a month."

"And that will give us----"

"Fifty thousand livres each, profit."

"It is monstrous! It is worth while to fight for such interest as that!"

"In fact, I believe it will be necessary to fight not a little," said
D'Artagnan, with the same tranquillity; "but this time there are two of
us, Planchet, and I shall take all the blows to myself."

"Oh! monsieur, I will not allow that."

"Planchet, you cannot be concerned in it; you would be obliged to leave
your business and your family."

"The affair is not in Paris, then?"

"No."

"Abroad?"

"In England."

"A speculative country, that is true," said Planchet,--"a country that
I know well. What sort of an affair, monsieur, without too much
curiosity?"

"Planchet, it is a restoration."

"Of monuments?"

"Yes, of monuments; we shall restore Whitehall."

"That is important. And in a month, you think?"

"I shall undertake it."

"That concerns you, monsieur, and when once you are engaged----"

"Yes, that concerns me. I know what I am about; nevertheless, I will
freely consult with you."

"You do me great honor; but I know very little about architecture."

"Planchet, you are wrong; you are an excellent architect, quite as good
as I am, for the case in question."

"Thanks, monsieur. But your old friends of the musketeers?"

"I have been, I confess, tempted to speak of the thing to those
gentlemen, but they are all absent from their houses. It is vexatious,
for I know none more bold or more able."

"Ah! then it appears there will be an opposition, and the enterprise
will be disputed?"

"Oh, yes, Planchet, yes."

"I burn to know the details, monsieur."

"Here they are, Planchet--close all the doors tight."

"Yes, monsieur." And Planchet double-locked them.

"That is well; now draw near." Planchet obeyed.

"And open the window, because the noise of the passers-by and the
carts will deafen all who might hear us." Planchet opened the window
as desired, and the gust of tumult which filled the chamber with cries,
wheels, barkings, and steps deafened D'Artagnan himself, as he had
wished. He then swallowed a glass of white wine and began in these
terms: "Planchet, I have an idea."

"Ah! monsieur, I recognize you so well in that!" replied Planchet,
panting with emotion.



CHAPTER 20. Of the Society which was formed in the Rue des Lombards, at
the Sign of the Pilon d'Or, to carry out M. d'Artagnan's Idea



After a moment's silence, in which D'Artagnan appeared to be collecting,
not one idea, but all his ideas--"It cannot be, my dear Planchet," said
he, "that you have not heard of his majesty Charles I. of England?"

"Alas! yes, monsieur, since you left France in order to assist him, and
that, in spite of that assistance, he fell, and was near dragging you
down in his fall."

"Exactly so; I see you have a good memory, Planchet."

"Peste! the astonishing thing would be, if I could have lost that
memory, however bad it might have been. When one has heard Grimaud, who,
you know, is not given to talking, relate how the head of King Charles
fell, how you sailed the half of a night in a scuttled vessel, and saw
floating on the water that good M. Mordaunt with a certain gold-hafted
dagger buried in his breast, one is not very likely to forget such
things."

"And yet there are people who forget them, Planchet."

"Yes, such as have not seen them, or have not heard Grimaud relate
them."

"Well, it is all the better that you recollect all that; I shall only
have to remind you of one thing, and that is that Charles I. had a son."

"Without contradicting you, monsieur, he had two," said Planchet; "for
I saw the second one in Paris, M. le Duke of York, one day, as he was
going to the Palais Royal, and I was told that he was not the eldest son
of Charles I. As to the eldest, I have the honor of knowing him by name,
but not personally."

"That is exactly the point, Planchet, we must come to: it is to this
eldest son, formerly called the Prince of Wales, and who is now styled
Charles II., king of England."

"A king without a kingdom, monsieur," replied Planchet, sententiously.

"Yes, Planchet, and you may add an unfortunate prince, more unfortunate
than the poorest man of the people lost in the worst quarter of Paris."

Planchet made a gesture full of that sort of compassion which we grant
to strangers with whom we think we can never possibly find ourselves in
contact. Besides, he did not see in this politico-sentimental operation
any sign of the commercial idea of M. d'Artagnan, and it was in this
idea that D'Artagnan, who was, from habit, pretty well acquainted with
men and things, had principally interested Planchet.

"I am coming to our business. This young Prince of Wales, a king without
a kingdom, as you have so well said, Planchet, has interested me. I,
D'Artagnan, have seen him begging assistance of Mazarin, who is a miser,
and the aid of Louis, who is a child, and it appeared to me, who am
acquainted with such things, that in the intelligent eye of the fallen
king, in the nobility of his whole person, a nobility apparent above
all his miseries, I could discern the stuff of a man and the heart of a
king."

Planchet tacitly approved of all this; but it did not at all, in his
eyes at least, throw any light upon D'Artagnan's idea. The latter
continued: "This, then, is the reasoning which I made with myself.
Listen attentively, Planchet, for we are coming to the conclusion."

"I am listening."

"Kings are not so thickly sown upon the earth, that people can find
them whenever they want them. Now, this king without a kingdom is, in
my opinion, a grain of seed which will blossom in some season or other,
provided a skillful, discreet, and vigorous hand sow it duly and truly,
selecting soil, sky, and time."

Planchet still approved by a nod of his head, which showed that he did
not perfectly comprehend all that was said.

"'Poor little seed of a king,' said I to myself, and really I was
affected, Planchet, which leads me to think I am entering upon a foolish
business. And that is why I wished to consult you, my friend."

Planchet colored with pleasure and pride.

"'Poor little seed of a king! I will pick you up and cast you into good
ground.'"

"Good God!" said Planchet, looking earnestly at his old master, as if in
doubt as to the state of his reason.

"Well, what is it?" said D'Artagnan; "who hurts you?"

"Me! nothing, monsieur."

"You said, 'Good God!'"

"Did I?"

"I am sure you did. Can you already understand?"

"I confess, M. d'Artagnan, that I am afraid----"

"To understand?"

"Yes."

"To understand that I wish to replace upon his throne this King Charles
II., who has no throne? Is that it?"

Planchet made a prodigious bound in his chair. "Ah, ah!" said he, in
evident terror, "that is what you call a restoration!"

"Yes, Planchet; is it not the proper term for it?"

"Oh, no doubt, no doubt! But have you reflected seriously?"

"Upon what?"

"Upon what is going on yonder."

"Where?"

"In England."

"And what is that? let us see, Planchet."

"In the first place, monsieur, I ask your pardon for meddling in these
things, which have nothing to do with my trade; but since it is an
affair that you propose to me--for you are proposing an affair, are you
not?----"

"A superb one, Planchet."

"But as it is business you propose to me, I have the right to discuss
it."

"Discuss it, Planchet; out of discussion is born light."

"Well, then, since I have monsieur's permission, I will tell him that
there is yonder, in the first place, the parliament."

"Well, next?"

"And then the army."

"Good! Do you see anything else?"

"Why, then the nation."

"Is that all?"

"The nation which consented to the overthrow and death of the late
king, the father of this one, and which will not be willing to belie its
acts."

"Planchet," said D'Artagnan, "you argue like a cheese! The nation--the
nation is tired of these gentlemen who give themselves such barbarous
names, and who sing songs to it. Chanting for chanting, my dear
Planchet; I have remarked that nations prefer singing a merry chant to
the plain chant. Remember the Fronde; what did they sing in those times?
Well those were good times."

"Not too good, not too good! I was near being hung in those times."

"Well, but you were not."

"No."

"And you laid the foundation of your fortune in the midst of all those
songs?"

"That is true."

"Then you have nothing to say against them."

"Well, I return, then, to the army and parliament."

"I say that I borrow twenty thousand livres of M. Planchet, and that
I put twenty thousand livres of my own to it, and with these forty
thousand livres I raise an army."

Planchet clasped his hands; he saw that D'Artagnan was in earnest, and,
in good truth, he believed his master had lost his senses.

"An army!--ah, monsieur," said he, with his most agreeable smile,
for fear of irritating the madman, and rendering him furious,--"an
army!--how many?"

"Of forty men," said D'Artagnan.

"Forty against forty thousand! that is not enough. I know very well that
you, M. d'Artagnan, alone, are equal to a thousand men, but where are
we to find thirty-nine men equal to you? Or, if we could find them, who
would furnish you with money to pay them?"

"Not bad, Planchet. Ah, the devil! you play the courtier."

"No, monsieur, I speak what I think, and that is exactly why I say that,
in the first pitched battle you fight with your forty men, I am very
much afraid----"

"Therefore I shall fight no pitched battles, my dear Planchet," said the
Gascon, laughing. "We have very fine examples in antiquity of skillful
retreats and marches, which consisted in avoiding the enemy instead of
attacking them. You should know that, Planchet, you who commanded
the Parisians the day on which they ought to have fought against the
musketeers, and who so well calculated marches and countermarches, that
you never left the Palais Royal."

Planchet could not help laughing. "It is plain," replied he, "that if
your forty men conceal themselves, and are not unskillful, they may hope
not to be beaten: but you propose obtaining some result, do you not?"

"No doubt. This, then, in my opinion, is the plan to be proceeded upon
in order quickly to replace his majesty Charles II. on his throne."

"Good!" said Planchet, increasing his attention; "let us see your plan.
But in the first place it seems to me we are forgetting something."

"What is that?"

"We have set aside the nation, which prefers singing merry songs to
psalms, and the army, which we will not fight: but the parliament
remains, and that seldom sings."

"Nor does it fight. How is it, Planchet, that an intelligent man like
you should take any heed of a set of brawlers who call themselves Rumps
and Barebones. The parliament does not trouble me at all, Planchet."

"As soon as it ceases to trouble you, monsieur, let us pass on."

"Yes, and arrive at the result. You remember Cromwell, Planchet?"

"I have heard a great deal of talk about him."

"He was a rough soldier."

"And a terrible eater, moreover."

"What do you mean by that?"

"Why, at one gulp he swallowed all England."

"Well, Planchet, the evening before the day on which he swallowed
England, if any one had swallowed M. Cromwell?"

"Oh, monsieur, it is one of the axioms of mathematics that the container
must be greater than the contained."

"Very well! That is our affair, Planchet."

"But M. Cromwell is dead, and his container is now the tomb."

"My dear Planchet, I see with pleasure that you have not only become a
mathematician, but a philosopher."

"Monsieur, in my grocery business I use much printed paper, and that
instructs me."

"Bravo! You know then, in that case--for you have not learnt mathematics
and philosophy without a little history--that after this Cromwell so
great, there came one who was very little."

"Yes; he was named Richard, and he has done as you have, M.
d'Artagnan--he has tendered his resignation."

"Very well said--very well! After the great man who is dead, after the
little one who tendered his resignation, there came a third. This one
is named Monk; he is an able general, considering he has never fought a
battle; he is a skillful diplomatist, considering that he never speaks
in public, and that having to say 'good-day' to a man, he meditates
twelve hours, and ends by saying 'good-night;' which makes people
exclaim 'miracle!' seeing that it falls out correctly."

"That is rather strong," said Planchet; "but I know another political
man who resembles him very much."

"M. Mazarin you mean?"

"Himself."

"You are right, Planchet; only M. Mazarin does not aspire to the throne
of France; and that changes everything. Do you see? Well, this M. Monk,
who has England ready-roasted in his plate, and who is already opening
his mouth to swallow it--this M. Monk, who says to the people of Charles
II., and to Charles II. himself, 'Nescio vos'----"

"I don't understand English," said Planchet.

"Yes, but I understand it," said D'Artagnan. "'Nescio vos' means 'I do
not know you.' This M. Monk, the most important man in England, when he
shall have swallowed it----"

"Well?" asked Planchet.

"Well, my friend, I shall go over yonder, and with my forty men, I shall
carry him off, pack him up, and bring him into France, where two modes
of proceeding present themselves to my dazzled eyes."

"Oh! and to mine too," cried Planchet, transported with enthusiasm. "We
will put him in a cage and show him for money."

"Well, Planchet, that is a third plan, of which I had not thought."

"Do you think it a good one?"

"Yes, certainly, but I think mine better."

"Let us see yours, then."

"In the first place, I shall set a ransom on him."

"Of how much?"

"Peste! a fellow like that must be well worth a hundred thousand
crowns."

"Yes, yes!"

"You see, then--in the first place, a ransom of a hundred thousand
crowns."

"Or else----"

"Or else, what is much better, I deliver him up to King Charles, who,
having no longer either a general or an army to fear, nor a diplomatist
to trick him, will restore himself, and when once restored, will pay
down to me the hundred thousand crowns in question. That is the idea I
have formed; what do you say to it, Planchet?"

"Magnificent, monsieur!" cried Planchet, trembling with emotion. "How
did you conceive that idea?"

"It came to me one morning on the banks of the Loire, whilst our beloved
king, Louis XIV., was pretending to weep upon the hand of Mademoiselle
de Mancini."

"Monsieur, I declare the idea is sublime. But----"

"Ah! is there a but?"

"Permit me! But this is a little like the skin of that fine bear--you
know--that they were about to sell, but which it was necessary to take
from the back of the living bear. Now, to take M. Monk, there will be a
bit of scuffle, I should think."

"No doubt; but as I shall raise an army to----"

"Yes, yes--I understand, parbleu!--a coup-de-main. Yes, then, monsieur,
you will triumph, for no one equals you in such sorts of encounters."

"I certainly am lucky in them," said D'Artagnan, with a proud
simplicity. "You know that if for this affair I had my dear Athos, my
brave Porthos, and my cunning Aramis, the business would be settled; but
they are all lost, as it appears, and nobody knows where to find them.
I will do it, then, alone. Now, do you find the business good, and the
investment advantageous?"

"Too much so--too much so."

"How can that be?"

"Because fine things never reach the expected point."

"This is infallible, Planchet, and the proof is that I undertake it. It
will be for you a tolerably pretty gain, and for me a very interesting
stroke. It will be said, 'Such was the old age of M. d'Artagnan,' and I
shall hold a place in tales and even in history itself, Planchet. I am
greedy of honor."

"Monsieur," cried Planchet, "when I think that it is here, in my home,
in the midst of my sugar, my prunes, and my cinnamon, that this gigantic
project is ripened, my shop seems a palace to me."

"Beware, beware, Planchet! If the least report of this escapes, there is
the Bastile for both of us. Beware, my friend, for this is a plot we are
hatching. M. Monk is the ally of M. Mazarin--beware!"

"Monsieur, when a man has had the honor to belong to you, he knows
nothing of fear; and when he has the advantage of being bound up in
interests with you, he holds his tongue."

"Very well, that is more your affair than mine, seeing that in a week I
shall be in England."

"Depart, monsieur, depart--the sooner the better."

"Is the money, then, ready?"

"It will be to-morrow, to-morrow you shall receive it from my own hands.
Will you have gold or silver?"

"Gold; that is most convenient. But how are we going to arrange this?
Let us see."

"Oh, good Lord! in the simplest way possible. You shall give me a
receipt, that is all."

"No, no," said D'Artagnan, warmly; "we must preserve order in all
things."

"That is likewise my opinion; but with you, M. d'Artagnan----"

"And if I should die yonder--if I should be killed by a musket-ball--if
I should burst from drinking beer?"

"Monsieur, I beg you to believe that in that case I should be so much
afflicted at your death, that I should not think about the money."

"Thank you, Planchet; but no matter. We shall, like two lawyers' clerks,
draw up together an agreement, a sort of act, which may be called a deed
of company."

"Willingly, monsieur."

"I know it is difficult to draw such a thing up, but we can try."

"Let us try, then." And Planchet went in search of pens, ink, and
paper. D'Artagnan took the pen and wrote:--"Between Messire d'Artagnan,
ex-lieutenant of the king's musketeers, at present residing in the
Rue Tiquetonne, Hotel de la Chevrette; and the Sieur Planchet, grocer,
residing in the Rue les Lombards, at the sign of the Pilon d'Or, it has
been agreed as follows:--A company, with a capital of forty thousand
livres, and formed for the purpose of carrying out an idea conceived by
M. d'Artagnan, and the said Planchet approving of it in all points,
will place twenty thousand livres in the hands of M. d'Artagnan. He
will require neither repayment nor interest before the return of M.
d'Artagnan from a journey he is about to take into England. On his part,
M. d'Artagnan undertakes to find twenty thousand livres, which he will
join to the twenty thousand already laid down by the Sieur Planchet.
He will employ the said sum of forty thousand livres according to his
judgment in an undertaking which is described below. On the day when
M. d'Artagnan shall have re-established, by whatever means, his majesty
King Charles II. upon the throne of England, he will pay into the hands
of M. Planchet the sum of----"

"The sum of a hundred and fifty thousand livres," said Planchet,
innocently, perceiving that D'Artagnan hesitated.

"Oh, the devil, no!" said D'Artagnan, "the division cannot be made by
half; that would not be just."

"And yet, monsieur; we each lay down half," objected Planchet, timidly.

"Yes; but listen to this clause, my dear Planchet, and if you do not
find it equitable in every respect when it is written, well, we can
scratch it out again:--'Nevertheless, as M. d'Artagnan brings to the
association, besides his capital of twenty thousand livres, his time,
his idea, his industry and his skin,--things which he appreciates
strongly, particularly the last,--M. d'Artagnan will keep, of the three
hundred thousand livres two hundred thousand livres for himself, which
will make his share two-thirds."

"Very well," said Planchet.

"Is it just?" asked D'Artagnan.

"Perfectly just, monsieur."

"And you will be contented with a hundred thousand livres?"

"Peste! I think so. A hundred thousand for twenty thousand!"

"And in a month, understand."

"How, in a month?"

"Yes, I only ask one month."

"Monsieur," said Planchet, generously, "I give you six weeks."

"Thank you," replied the musketeer, politely; after which the two
partners reperused their deed.

"That is perfect, monsieur," said Planchet, "and the late M. Coquenard,
the first husband of Madame la Baronne du Vallon, could not have done it
better."

"Do you find it so? Let us sign it, then." And both affixed their
signatures.

"In this fashion," said D'Artagnan, "I shall be under obligations to no
one."

"But I shall be under obligations to you," said Planchet.

"No; for whatever store I set by it, Planchet, I may lose my skin
yonder, and you will lose all. A propos--peste!--that makes me think of
the principal, an indispensable clause. I shall write it:--'In the
case of M. d'Artagnan dying in this enterprise, liquidation will be
considered made, and the Sieur Planchet will give quittance from that
moment to the shade of Messire d'Artagnan for the twenty thousand livres
paid by him into the hands of the said company.'"

This last clause made Planchet knit his brows a little, but when he saw
the brilliant eye, the muscular hand, the supple and strong back of
his associate, he regained his courage, and, without regret, he at once
added another stroke to his signature. D'Artagnan did the same. Thus was
drawn the first known company contract; perhaps such things have been
abused a little since, both in form and principle.

"Now," said Planchet, pouring out the last glass of Anjou wine for
D'Artagnan,--"now go to sleep, my dear master."

"No," replied D'Artagnan; "for the most difficult part now remains to be
done, and I will think over that difficult part."

"Bah!" said Planchet; "I have such great confidence in you, M.
d'Artagnan, that I would not give my hundred thousand livres for ninety
thousand livres down."

"And devil take me if I don't think you are right!" Upon which
D'Artagnan took a candle and went up to his bedroom.



CHAPTER 21. In which D'Artagnan prepares to travel for the Firm of
Planchet and Company



D'Artagnan reflected to such good purpose during the night that his
plan was settled by morning. "This is it," said he, sitting up in bed,
supporting his elbow on his knee, and his chin in his hand;--"this is
it. I shall seek out forty steady, firm men, recruited among people a
little compromised, but having habits of discipline. I shall promise
them five hundred livres for a month if they return, nothing if they
do not return, or half for their kindred. As to food and lodging, that
concerns the English, who have cattle in their pastures, bacon in their
bacon-racks, fowls in their poultry-yards, and corn in their barns. I
will present myself to General Monk with my little body of troops. He
will receive me. I shall win his confidence, and take advantage of it,
as soon as possible."

But without going farther, D'Artagnan shook his head and interrupted
himself. "No," said he; "I should not dare to relate this to Athos;
the way is therefore not honorable. I must use violence," continued
he,--"very certainly I must, but without compromising my loyalty. With
forty men I will traverse the country as a partisan. But if I fall
in with, not forty thousand English, as Planchet said, but purely and
simply with four hundred, I shall be beaten. Supposing that among my
forty warriors there should be found at least ten stupid ones--ten who
will allow themselves to be killed one after the other, from mere
folly? No; it is, in fact, impossible to find forty men to be depended
upon--they do not exist. I must learn how to be contented with thirty.
With ten men less I should have the right of avoiding any armed
encounter, on account of the small number of my people; and if the
encounter should take place, my chance is better with thirty men than
forty. Besides, I should save five thousand francs; that is to say, the
eighth of my capital; that is worth the trial. This being so, I should
have thirty men. I shall divide them into three bands,--we will spread
ourselves about over the country, with an injunction to reunite at
a given moment; in this fashion, ten by ten, we should excite no
suspicion--we should pass unperceived. Yes, yes, thirty--that is a
magic number. There are three tens--three, that divine number! And then,
truly, a company of thirty men, when all together, will look rather
imposing. Ah! stupid wretch that I am!" continued D'Artagnan, "I want
thirty horses. That is ruinous. Where the devil was my head when I
forgot the horses? We cannot, however, think of striking such a blow
without horses. Well, so be it, that sacrifice must be made; we can
get the horses in the country--they are not bad, besides. But I
forgot--peste! Three bands--that necessitates three leaders; there is
the difficulty. Of the three commanders I have already one--that is
myself;--yes, but the two others will of themselves cost almost as much
money as all the rest of the troop. No; positively I must have but one
lieutenant. In that ease, then, I should reduce my troop to twenty men.
I know very well that twenty men is but very little; but since with
thirty I was determined not to seek to come to blows, I should do so
more carefully still with twenty. Twenty--that is a round number;
that, besides, reduces the number of the horses by ten, which is a
consideration; and then, with a good lieutenant--Mordioux! what things
patience and calculation are! Was I not going to embark with forty men,
and I have now reduced them to twenty for an equal success? Ten thousand
livres saved at one stroke, and more safety; that is well! Now, then,
let us see; we have nothing to do but to find this lieutenant--let him
be found, then; and after--That is not so easy; he must be brave and
good, a second myself. Yes, but a lieutenant must have my secret, and as
that secret is worth a million, and I shall only pay my man a thousand
livres, fifteen hundred at the most, my man will sell the secret to
Monk. Mordioux! no lieutenant. Besides, this man, were he as mute as
a disciple of Pythagoras,--this man would be sure to have in the troop
some favourite soldier, whom he would make his sergeant, the sergeant
would penetrate the secret of the lieutenant, in case the latter should
be honest and unwilling to sell it. Then the sergeant, less honest and
less ambitious, will give up the whole for fifty thousand livres. Come,
come! that is impossible. The lieutenant is impossible. But then I must
have no fractions; I cannot divide my troop into two, and act upon
two points, at once, without another self, who--But what is the use of
acting upon two points, as we have only one man to take? What can be the
good of weakening a corps by placing the right here, and the left
there? A single corps--Mordioux! a single one, and that commanded by
D'Artagnan. Very well. But twenty men marching in one band are suspected
by everybody; twenty horsemen must not be seen marching together, or a
company will be detached against them and the password will be required;
the which company, upon seeing them embarrassed to give it, would shoot
M. d'Artagnan and his men like so many rabbits. I reduce myself then to
ten men; in this fashion I shall act simply and with unity; I shall be
forced to be prudent, which is half the success in an affair of the kind
I am undertaking; a greater number might, perhaps, have drawn me into
some folly. Ten horses are not many, either to buy or take. A capital
idea; what tranquillity it infuses into my mind! no more suspicions--no
passwords--no more dangers! Ten men, they are valets or clerks. Ten
men, leading ten horses laden with merchandise of whatever kind, are
tolerated, well received everywhere. Ten men travel on account of the
house of Planchet & Co., of France--nothing can be said against that.
These ten men, clothed like manufacturers, have a good cutlass or a good
musket at their saddle-bow, and a good pistol in the holster. They never
allow themselves to be uneasy, because they have no evil designs. They
are, perhaps, in truth, a little disposed to be smugglers, but what
harm is in that? Smuggling is not, like polygamy, a hanging offense. The
worst that can happen to us is the confiscation of our merchandise. Our
merchandise confiscated--fine affair that! Come, come! it is a superb
plan. Ten men only--ten men, whom I will engage for my service; ten men
who shall be as resolute as forty, who would cost me four times as much,
and to whom, for greater security, I will never open my mouth as to my
designs, and to whom I shall only say, 'My friends, there is a blow
to be struck.' Things being after this fashion, Satan will be very
malicious if he plays me one of his tricks. Fifteen thousand livres
saved--that's superb--out of twenty!"

Thus fortified by his laborious calculations, D'Artagnan stopped at this
plan, and determined to change nothing in it. He had already on a list
furnished by his inexhaustible memory, ten men illustrious amongst the
seekers of adventures, ill-treated by fortune, and not on good terms
with justice. Upon this D'Artagnan rose, and instantly set off on the
search, telling Planchet not to expect him to breakfast, and perhaps not
to dinner. A day and a half spent in rummaging amongst certain dens of
Paris sufficed for his recruiting; and, without allowing his adventurers
to communicate with each other, he had picked up and got together, in
less than thirty hours, a charming collection of ill-looking faces,
speaking a French less pure than the English they were about to attempt.
These men were, for the most part, guards, whose merit D'Artagnan
had had an opportunity of appreciating in various encounters, whom
drunkenness, unlucky sword-thrusts, unexpected winnings at play, or the
economical reforms of Mazarin, had forced to seek shade and solitude,
those two great consolers of irritated and chafing spirits. They
bore upon their countenances and in their vestments the traces of the
heartaches they had undergone. Some had their visages scarred,--all
had their clothes in rags. D'Artagnan comforted the most needy of
these brotherly miseries by a prudent distribution of the crowns of the
society; then, having taken care that these crowns should be employed in
the physical improvement of the troop, he appointed a trysting place
in the north of France, between Berghes and Saint Omer. Six days were
allowed as the utmost term, and D'Artagnan was sufficiently acquainted
with the good-will, the good-humor, and the relative probity of these
illustrious recruits, to be certain that not one of them would fail in
his appointment. These orders given, this rendezvous fixed, he went to
bid farewell to Planchet, who asked news of his army. D'Artagnan did
not think proper to inform him of the reduction he had made in his
personnel. He feared that the confidence of his associate would be
abated by such an avowal. Planchet was delighted to learn that the army
was levied, and that he (Planchet) found himself a kind of half king,
who from his throne-counter kept in pay a body of troops destined
to make war against perfidious Albion, that enemy of all true French
hearts. Planchet paid down in double louis, twenty thousand livres
to D'Artagnan, on the part of himself (Planchet), and twenty thousand
livres, still in double louis, in account with D'Artagnan. D'Artagnan
placed each of the twenty thousand francs in a bag, and weighing a bag
in each hand,--"This money is very embarrassing, my dear Planchet," said
he. "Do you know this weighs thirty pounds?"

"Bah! your horse will carry that like a feather."

D'Artagnan shook his head. "Don't tell me such things, Planchet: a
horse overloaded with thirty pounds, in addition to the rider and his
portmanteau, cannot cross a river so easily--cannot leap over a wall or
ditch so lightly; and the horse failing, the horseman fails. It is true
that you, Planchet, who have served in the infantry, may not be aware of
all that."

"Then what is to be done, monsieur?" said Planchet, greatly embarrassed.

"Listen to me," said D'Artagnan. "I will pay my army on its return home.
Keep my half of twenty thousand livres, which you can use during that
time."

"And my half?" said Planchet.

"I shall take that with me."

"Your confidence does me honor," said Planchet: "but supposing you
should not return?"

"That is possible, though not very probable. Then, Planchet, in case I
should not return--give me a pen! I will make my will." D'Artagnan took
a pen and some paper, and wrote upon a plain sheet,--"I, D'Artagnan,
possess twenty thousand livres, laid up cent by cent during thirty years
that I have been in the service of his majesty the king of France. I
leave five thousand to Athos, five thousand to Porthos and five thousand
to Aramis, that they may give the said sums in my name and their own to
my young friend Raoul, Vicomte de Bragelonne. I give the remaining five
thousand to Planchet, that he may distribute the fifteen thousand
with less regret among my friends. With which purpose I sign these
presents.--D'Artagnan.

Planchet appeared very curious to know what D'Artagnan had written.

"Here," said the musketeer, "read it"

On reading the last lines the tears came into Planchet's eyes. "You
think, then, that I would not have given the money without that? Then I
will have none of your five thousand francs."

D'Artagnan smiled. "Accept it, accept it, Planchet; and in that way you
will only lose fifteen thousand francs instead of twenty thousand, and
you will not be tempted to disregard the signature of your master and
friend, by losing nothing at all."

How well that dear Monsieur d'Artagnan knew the hearts of men and
grocers! They who have pronounced Don Quixote mad because he rode out to
the conquest of an empire with nobody but Sancho, his squire, and they
who have pronounced Sancho mad because he accompanied his master in
his attempt to conquer the said empire,--they certainly will have no
hesitation in extending the same judgment to D'Artagnan and Planchet.
And yet the first passed for one of the most subtle spirits among the
astute spirits of the court of France. As to the second, he had acquired
by good right the reputation of having one of the longest heads
among the grocers of the Rue des Lombards; consequently of Paris, and
consequently of France. Now, to consider these two men from the point of
view from which you would consider other men, and the means by the aid
of which they contemplated to restore a monarch to his throne, compared
with other means, the shallowest brains of the country where brains are
most shallow must have revolted against the presumptuous madness of the
lieutenant and the stupidity of his associate. Fortunately, D'Artagnan
was not a man to listen to the idle talk of those around him, or to the
comments that were made on himself. He had adopted the motto, "Act well,
and let people talk." Planchet on his part, had adopted this, "Act and
say nothing." It resulted from this, that, according to the custom of
all superior geniuses, these two men flattered themselves intra pectus,
with being in the right against all who found fault with them.

As a beginning, D'Artagnan set out in the finest of possible weather,
without a cloud in the heavens--without a cloud on his mind, joyous
and strong, calm and decided, great in his resolution, and consequently
carrying with him a tenfold dose of that potent fluid which the shocks
of mind cause to spring from the nerves, and which procure for the
human machine a force and an influence of which future ages will render,
according to all probability, a more arithmetical account than we can
possibly do at present. He was again, as in times past, on that same
road of adventures which had led him to Boulogne, and which he was now
traveling for the fourth time. It appeared to him that he could almost
recognize the trace of his own steps upon the road, and that of his
first upon the doors of the hostelries;--his memory, always active and
present, brought back that youth which neither thirty years later his
great heart nor his wrist of steel would have belied. What a rich nature
was that of this man! He had all the passions, all the defects, all
the weaknesses, and the spirit of contradiction familiar to his
understanding changed all these imperfections into corresponding
qualities. D'Artagnan, thanks to his ever active imagination, was afraid
of a shadow; and ashamed of being afraid, he marched straight up to that
shadow, and then became extravagant in his bravery if the danger proved
to be real. Thus everything in him was emotion, and therefore enjoyment.
He loved the society of others, but never became tired of his own; and
more than once, if he could have been heard when he was alone, he might
have been seen laughing at the jokes he related to himself or the tricks
his imagination created just five minutes before ennui might have been
looked for. D'Artagnan was not perhaps so gay this time as he would have
been with the prospect of finding some good friends at Calais, instead
of joining the ten scamps there; melancholy, however, did not visit him
more than once a day, and it was about five visits that he received from
that somber deity before he got sight of the sea at Boulogne, and then
these visits were indeed but short. But when once D'Artagnan found
himself near the field of action, all other feelings but that of
confidence disappeared never to return. From Boulogne he followed the
coast to Calais. Calais was the place of general rendezvous, and at
Calais he had named to each of his recruits the hostelry of "Le Grand
Monarque," where living was not extravagant, where sailors messed, and
where men of the sword, with sheath of leather, be it understood, found
lodging, table, food, and all the comforts of life, for thirty sous
per diem. D'Artagnan proposed to himself to take them by surprise
in flagrante delicto of wandering life, and to judge by the first
appearance if he could count on them as trusty companions.

He arrived at Calais at half past four in the afternoon.



CHAPTER 22. D'Artagnan travels for the House of Planchet and Company



The hostelry of "Le Grand Monarque" was situated in a little street
parallel to the port without looking out upon the port itself. Some
lanes cut--as steps cut the two parallels of the ladder--the two great
straight lines of the port and the street. By these lanes passengers
came suddenly from the port into the street, or from the street on to
the port. D'Artagnan, arrived at the port, took one of these lanes, and
came out in front of the hostelry of "Le Grand Monarque." The moment
was well chosen and might remind D'Artagnan of his start in life at
the hostelry of the "Franc-Meunier" at Meung. Some sailors who had been
playing at dice had started a quarrel, and were threatening each other
furiously. The host, hostess, and two lads were watching with anxiety
the circle of these angry gamblers, from the midst of which war seemed
ready to break forth, bristling with knives and hatchets. The play,
nevertheless, was continued. A stone bench was occupied by two men, who
appeared thence to watch the door; four tables, placed at the back of
the common chamber, were occupied by eight other individuals. Neither
the men at the door, nor those at the tables, took any part in the
play or the quarrel. D'Artagnan recognized his ten men in these cold,
indifferent spectators. The quarrel went on increasing. Every passion
has, like the sea, its tide which ascends and descends. Reaching the
climax of passion, one sailor overturned the table and the money which
was upon it. The table fell, and the money rolled about. In an instant
all belonging to the hostelry threw themselves upon the stakes, and
many a piece of silver was picked up by people who stole away whilst the
sailors were scuffling with each other.

The two men on the bench and the eight at the tables, although they
seemed perfect strangers to each other, these ten men alone, we say,
appeared to have agreed to remain impassible amidst the cries of fury
and the chinking of money. Two only contented themselves with pushing
with their feet combatants who came under their table. Two others,
rather than take part in this disturbance, buried their hands in their
pockets; and another two jumped upon the table they occupied, as people
do to avoid being submerged by overflowing water.

"Come, come," said D'Artagnan to himself, not having lost one of the
details we have related, "this is a very fair gathering--circumspect,
calm, accustomed to disturbance, acquainted with blows! Peste! I have
been lucky."

All at once his attention was called to a particular part of the room.
The two men who had pushed the strugglers with their feet were assailed
with abuse by the sailors, who had become reconciled. One of them,
half drunk with passion, and quite drunk with beer, came, in a menacing
manner, to demand of the shorter of these two sages by what right he had
touched with his foot creatures of the good God, who were not dogs.
And whilst putting this question, in order to make it more direct, he
applied his great fist to the nose of D'Artagnan's recruit.

This man became pale, without its being to be discerned whether his
pallor arose from anger or from fear; seeing which, the sailor concluded
it was from fear, and raised his fist with the manifest intention of
letting it fall upon the head of the stranger. But though the threatened
man did not appear to move, he dealt the sailor such a severe blow in
the stomach that he sent him rolling and howling to the other side of
the room. At the same instant, rallied by the esprit de corps, all the
comrades of the conquered man fell upon the conqueror.

The latter, with the same coolness of which he had given proof, without
committing the imprudence of touching his weapons, took up a beer-pot
with a pewter-lid, and knocked down two or three of his assailants;
then, as he was about to yield to numbers, the seven other silent men
at the tables, who had not stirred, perceived that their cause was at
stake, and came to the rescue. At the same time, the two indifferent
spectators at the door turned round with frowning brows, indicating
their evident intention of taking the enemy in the rear, if the enemy
did not cease their aggressions.

The host, his helpers, and two watchmen who were passing, and who from
curiosity had penetrated too far into the room, were mixed up in the
tumult and showered with blows. The Parisians hit like Cyclops, with an
ensemble and a tactic delightful to behold. At length, obliged to beat a
retreat before superior numbers, they formed an intrenchment behind the
large table, which they raised by main force; whilst the two others,
arming themselves each with a trestle, and using it like a great
sledge-hammer, knocked down at a blow eight sailors upon whose heads
they had brought their monstrous catapult in play. The floor was already
strewn with wounded, and the room filled with cries and dust, when
D'Artagnan, satisfied with the test, advanced, sword in hand, and
striking with the pommel every head that came in his way, he uttered a
vigorous hola! which put an instantaneous end to the conflict. A great
backflood directly took place from the center to the sides of the room,
so that D'Artagnan found himself isolated and dominator.

"What is all this about?" then demanded he of the assembly, with the
majestic tone of Neptune pronouncing the Quos ego.

At the very instant, at the first sound of his voice, to carry on
the Virgilian metaphor, D'Artagnan's recruits, recognizing each his
sovereign lord, discontinued their plank-fighting and trestle blows. On
their side, the sailors, seeing that long naked sword, that martial
air, and the agile arm which came to the rescue of their enemies, in the
person of a man who seemed accustomed to command, the sailors picked up
their wounded and their pitchers. The Parisians wiped their brows, and
viewed their leader with respect. D'Artagnan was loaded with thanks by
the host of "Le Grand Monarque." He received them like a man who knows
that nothing is being offered that does not belong to him, and then said
he would go and walk upon the port till supper was ready. Immediately
each of the recruits, who understood the summons, took his hat, brushed
the dust off his clothes, and followed D'Artagnan. But D'Artagnan whilst
walking and observing, took care not to stop; he directed his course
towards the downs, and the ten men--surprised at finding themselves
going in the track of each other, uneasy at seeing on their right,
on their left, and behind them, companions upon whom they had not
reckoned--followed him, casting furtive glances at each other. It was
not till he had arrived at the hollow part of the deepest down that
D'Artagnan, smiling to see them outdone, turned towards them, making a
friendly sign with his hand.

"Eh! come, come, gentlemen," said he, "let us not devour each other; you
are made to live together, to understand each other in all respects, and
not to devour one another."

Instantly all hesitation ceased; the men breathed as if they had been
taken out of a coffin, and examined each other complacently. After this
examination they turned their eyes towards their leader, who had long
been acquainted with the art of speaking to men of that class, and who
improvised the following little speech, pronounced with an energy truly
Gascon:

"Gentlemen, you all know who I am. I have engaged you from knowing
you to be brave, and willing to associate you with me in a glorious
enterprise. Imagine that in laboring for me you labor for the king. I
only warn you that if you allow anything of this supposition to appear,
I shall be forced to crack your skulls immediately, in the manner most
convenient to me. You are not ignorant, gentlemen, that state secrets
are like a mortal poison: as long as that poison is in its box and the
box is closed, it is not injurious; out of the box, it kills. Now draw
near and you shall know as much of this secret as I am able to tell
you." All drew close to him with an expression of curiosity. "Approach,"
continued D'Artagnan, "and let not the bird which passes over our heads,
the rabbit which sports on the downs, the fish which bounds from the
waters, hear us. Our business is to learn and to report to monsieur
le surintendant of the finances to what extent English smuggling is
injurious to the French merchants. I shall enter every place, and see
everything. We are poor Picard fishermen, thrown upon the coast by a
storm. It is certain that we must sell fish, neither more nor less, like
true fishermen. Only people might guess who we are, and might molest
us; it is therefore necessary that we should be in a condition to defend
ourselves. And this is why I have selected men of spirit and courage. We
shall lead a steady life, and not incur much danger; seeing that we
have behind us a powerful protector, thanks to whom no embarrassment
is possible. One thing alone puzzles me; but I hope that after a short
explanation, you will relieve me from that difficulty. The thing which
puzzles me is taking with me a crew of stupid fishermen, which crew will
annoy me immensely, whilst if, by chance, there were among you any who
have seen the sea----"

"Oh! don't let that trouble you," said one of the recruits; "I was a
prisoner among the pirates of Tunis three years, and can maneuver a boat
like an admiral."

"See," said D'Artagnan, "what an admirable thing chance is!" D'Artagnan
pronounced these words with an indefinable tone of feigned bonhomie, for
he knew very well that the victim of pirates was an old corsair, and had
engaged him in consequence of that knowledge. But D'Artagnan never said
more than there was need to say, in order to leave people in doubt.
He paid himself with the explanation, and welcomed the effect, without
appearing to be preoccupied with the cause.

"And I," said a second, "I, by chance, had an uncle who directed the
works of the port of La Rochelle. When quite a child, I played about
the boats, and I know how to handle an oar or a sail as well as the best
Ponantais sailor." The latter did not lie much more than the first, for
he had rowed on board his majesty's galleys six years, at Ciotat. Two
others were more frank: they confessed honestly that they had served
on board a vessel as soldiers on punishment, and did not blush for it.
D'Artagnan found himself, then, the leader of ten men of war and four
sailors, having at once a land army and a sea force, which would have
earned the pride of Planchet to its height, if Planchet had known the
details.

Nothing was now left but arranging the general orders, and D'Artagnan
gave them with precision. He enjoined his men to be ready to set out for
the Hague, some following the coast which leads to Breskens, others the
road to Antwerp. The rendezvous was given, by calculating each day's
march, a fortnight from that time upon the chief place at the Hague.
D'Artagnan recommended his men to go in couples, as they liked best,
from sympathy. He himself selected from among those with the least
disreputable look, two guards whom he had formerly known, and whose only
faults were being drunkards and gamblers. These men had not entirely
lost all ideas of civilization, and under proper garments their hearts
would beat again. D'Artagnan, not to create any jealousy with the
others, made the rest go forward. He kept his two selected ones, clothed
them from his own wardrobe, and set out with them.

It was to these two, whom he seemed to honor with an absolute
confidence, that D'Artagnan imparted a false secret, destined to secure
the success of the expedition. He confessed to them that the object was
not to learn to what extent the French merchants were injured by English
smuggling, but to learn how far French smuggling could annoy English
trade. These men appeared convinced; they were effectively so.
D'Artagnan was quite sure that at the first debauch when thoroughly
drunk, one of the two would divulge the secret to the whole band. His
game appeared infallible.

A fortnight after all we have said had taken place at Calais, the whole
troop assembled at the Hague.

Then D'Artagnan perceived that all his men, with remarkable
intelligence, had already travestied themselves into sailors, more or
less ill-treated by the sea. D'Artagnan left them to sleep in a den in
Newkerke street, whilst he lodged comfortably upon the Grand Canal. He
learned that the king of England had come back to his old ally, William
II. of Nassau, stadtholder of Holland. He learned also that the refusal
of Louis XIV. had a little cooled the protection afforded him up to that
time, and in consequence he had gone to reside in a little village house
at Scheveningen, situated in the downs, on the sea-shore, about a league
from the Hague.

There, it was said, the unfortunate banished king consoled himself in
his exile, by looking, with the melancholy peculiar to the princes
of his race, at that immense North Sea, which separated him from his
England, as it had formerly separated Mary Stuart from France. There
behind the trees of the beautiful wood of Scheveningen on the fine sand
upon which grows the golden broom of the down, Charles II. vegetated as
it did, more unfortunate, for he had life and thought, and he hoped and
despaired by turns.

D'Artagnan went once as far as Scheveningen, in order to be certain that
all was true that was said of the king. He beheld Charles II., pensive
and alone, coming out of a little door opening into the wood, and
walking on the beach in the setting sun, without even attracting the
attention of the fishermen, who, on their return in the evening, drew,
like the ancient mariners of the Archipelago, their barks up upon the
sand of the shore.

D'Artagnan recognized the king; he saw him fix his melancholy look upon
the immense extent of the waters, and absorb upon his pale countenance
the red rays of the sun already cut by the black line of the horizon.
Then Charles returned to his isolated abode, always alone, slow and sad,
amusing himself with making the friable and moving sand creak beneath
his feet.

That very evening D'Artagnan hired for a thousand livres a fishing-boat
worth four thousand. He paid a thousand livres down, and deposited
the three thousand with a Burgomaster, after which he brought on board
without their being seen, the ten men who formed his land army; and with
the rising tide, at three o'clock in the morning, he got into the open
sea, maneuvering ostensibly with the four others, and depending upon the
science of his galley slave as upon that of the first pilot of the port.



CHAPTER 23. In which the Author, very unwillingly, is forced to write a
Little History



While kings and men were thus occupied with England, which governed
itself quite alone, and which, it must be said in its praise, had never
been so badly governed, a man upon whom God had fixed his eye, and
placed his finger, a man predestined to write his name in brilliant
letters upon the page of history, was pursuing in the face of the world
a work full of mystery and audacity. He went on, and no one knew whither
he meant to go, although not only England, but France, and Europe,
watched him marching with a firm step and head held high. All that was
known of this man we are about to tell.

Monk had just declared himself in favor of the liberty of the Rump
Parliament, a parliament which General Lambert, imitating Cromwell,
whose lieutenant he had been, had just blocked up so closely, in order
to bring it to his will, that no member, during all the blockade, was
able to go out, and only one, Peter Wentworth, had been able to get in.

Lambert and Monk--everything was summed up in these two men; the first
representing military despotism, the second pure republicanism. These
men were the two sole political representatives of that revolution in
which Charles I. had first lost his crown, and afterwards his head. As
regarded Lambert, he did not dissemble his views; he sought to establish
a military government, and to be himself the head of that government.

Monk, a rigid republican, some said, wished to maintain the Rump
Parliament, that visible though degenerated representative of the
republic. Monk, artful and ambitious, said others, wished simply to make
of this parliament, which he affected to protect, a solid step by which
to mount the throne which Cromwell had left empty, but upon which he had
never dared to take his seat.

Thus Lambert by persecuting the parliament, and Monk by declaring for
it, had mutually proclaimed themselves enemies of each other. Monk and
Lambert, therefore, had at first thought of creating an army each
for himself: Monk in Scotland, where were the Presbyterians and the
royalists, that is to say, the malcontents; Lambert in London, where was
found, as is always the case, the strongest opposition to the existing
power which it had beneath its eyes.

Monk had pacified Scotland, he had there formed for himself an army, and
found an asylum. The one watched the other. Monk knew that the day was
not yet come, the day marked by the Lord for a great change; his sword,
therefore, appeared glued to the sheath. Inexpugnable, in his wild and
mountainous Scotland, an absolute general, king of an army of eleven
thousand old soldiers, whom he had more than once led on to victory; as
well informed, nay, even better, of the affairs of London, than Lambert,
who held garrison in the city,--such was the position of Monk, when, at
a hundred leagues from London, he declared himself for the parliament.
Lambert, on the contrary, as we have said, lived in the capital. That
was the center of all his operations, and he there collected around
him all his friends, and all the people of the lower class, eternally
inclined to cherish the enemies of constituted power.

It was then in London that Lambert learnt the support that, from the
frontiers of Scotland, Monk lent to the parliament. He judged there was
no time to be lost, and that the Tweed was not so far distant from
the Thames that an army could not march from one river to the other,
particularly when it was well commanded. He knew, besides, that as fast
as the soldiers of Monk penetrated into England, they would form on
their route that ball of snow, the emblem of the globe of fortune, which
is for the ambitious nothing but a step growing unceasingly higher
to conduct him to his object. He got together, therefore, his army,
formidable at the same time for its composition and its numbers, and
hastened to meet Monk, who, on his part, like a prudent navigator
sailing amidst rocks, advanced by very short marches, listening to the
reports and scenting the air which came from London.

The two armies came in sight of each other near Newcastle, Lambert,
arriving first, encamped in the city itself. Monk, always circumspect,
stopped where he was, and placed his general quarters at Coldstream, on
the Tweed. The sight of Lambert spread joy through Monk's army, whilst,
on the contrary, the sight of Monk threw disorder into Lambert's army.
It might have been thought that these intrepid warriors, who had made
such a noise in the streets of London, had set out with the hopes of
meeting no one, and that now seeing that they had met an army, and that
that army hoisted before them not only a standard, but still further, a
cause and a principle,--it might have been believed, we say, that
these intrepid warriors had begun to reflect, that they were less good
republicans than the soldiers of Monk, since the latter supported the
parliament; whilst Lambert supported nothing, not even himself.

As to Monk, if he had had to reflect, or if he did reflect, it must have
been after a sad fashion, for history relates--and that modest dame, it
is well known, never lies--history relates, that the day of his arrival
at Coldstream search was made in vain throughout the place for a single
sheep.

If Monk had commanded an English army, that was enough to have brought
about a general desertion. But it is not with the Scotch as it is
with the English, to whom that fluid flesh which is called blood is
a paramount necessity; the Scotch, a poor and sober race, live upon a
little barley crushed between two stones, diluted with the water of the
fountain, and cooked upon another stone, heated.

The Scotch, their distribution of barley being made, cared very little
whether there was or was not any meat in Coldstream. Monk, little
accustomed to barley-cakes, was hungry, and his staff, at least as
hungry as himself, looked with anxiety right and left, to know what was
being prepared for supper.

Monk ordered search to be made; his scouts had on arriving in the place
found it deserted and the cupboards empty; upon butchers and bakers it
was of no use depending in Coldstream. The smallest morsel of bread,
then, could not be found for the general's table.

As accounts succeeded each other, all equally unsatisfactory, Monk,
seeing terror and discouragement upon every face, declared that he was
not hungry; besides they should eat on the morrow, since Lambert was
there probably with the intention of giving battle, and consequently
would give up his provisions, if he were forced from Newcastle, or
forever to relieve Monk's soldiers from hunger if he conquered.

This consolation was only efficacious upon a very small number; but of
what importance was it to Monk? for Monk was very absolute, under the
appearance of the most perfect mildness. Every one, therefore, was
obliged to be satisfied, or at least to appear so. Monk quite as hungry
as his people, but affecting perfect indifference for the absent mutton,
cut a fragment of tobacco, half an inch long, from the carotte of a
sergeant who formed part of his suite, and began to masticate the said
fragment, assuring his lieutenants that hunger was a chimera, and that,
besides, people were never hungry when they had anything to chew.

This joke satisfied some of those who had resisted Monk's first
deduction drawn from the neighborhood of Lambert's army; the number of
the dissentients diminished greatly; the guard took their posts, the
patrols began, and the general continued his frugal repast beneath his
open tent.

Between his camp and that of the enemy stood an old abbey, of which,
at the present day, there only remain some ruins, but which then was
in existence, and was called Newcastle Abbey. It was built upon a vast
site, independent at once of the plain and of the river, because it was
almost a marsh fed by springs and kept up by rains. Nevertheless, in
the midst of these pools of water, covered with long grass, rushes,
and reeds, were seen solid spots of ground, formerly used as the
kitchen-garden, the park, the pleasure-gardens, and other dependencies
of the abbey, looking like one of those great sea-spiders, whose body is
round, whilst the claws go diverging round from this circumference.

The kitchen-garden, one of the longest claws of the abbey, extended to
Monk's camp. Unfortunately it was, as we have said, early in June, and
the kitchen-garden, being abandoned, offered no resources.

Monk had ordered this spot to be guarded, as most subject to surprises.
The fires of the enemy's general were plainly to be perceived on the
other side of the abbey. But between these fires and the abbey extended
the Tweed, unfolding its luminous scales beneath the thick shade of
tall green oaks. Monk was perfectly well acquainted with this position,
Newcastle and its environs having already more than once been his
headquarters. He knew that by day his enemy might without doubt throw a
few scouts into these ruins and promote a skirmish, but that by night he
would take care to abstain from such a risk. He felt himself, therefore,
in security.

Thus his soldiers saw him, after what he boastingly called his
supper--that is to say, after the exercise of mastication reported by
us at the commencement of this chapter--like Napoleon on the eve of
Austerlitz, seated asleep in his rush chair, half beneath the light of
his lamp, half beneath the reflection of the moon, commencing its ascent
in the heavens, which denoted that it was nearly half past nine in the
evening. All at once Monk was roused from his half sleep, fictitious
perhaps, by a troop of soldiers, who came with joyous cries, and kicked
the poles of his tent with a humming noise as if on purpose to wake him.
There was no need of so much noise; the general opened his eyes quickly.

"Well, my children, what is going on now?" asked the general.

"General!" replied several voices at once, "General! you shall have some
supper."

"I have had my supper, gentlemen," replied he, quietly, "and was
comfortably digesting it, as you see. But come in, and tell me what
brings you hither."

"Good news, general."

"Bah! Has Lambert sent us word that he will fight to-morrow?"

"No, but we have just captured a fishing-boat conveying fish to
Newcastle."

"And you have done very wrong, my friends. These gentlemen from London
are delicate, must have their first course; you will put them sadly out
of humor this evening, and to-morrow they will be pitiless. It would
really be in good taste to send back to Lambert both his fish and his
fishermen, unless----" and the general reflected an instant.

"Tell me," continued he, "what are these fishermen, if you please?"

"Some Picard seamen who were fishing on the coasts of France or Holland,
and who have been thrown upon ours by a gale of wind."

"Do any among them speak our language?"

"The leader spoke some few words of English."

The mistrust of the general was awakened in proportion as fresh
information reached him. "That is well," said he. "I wish to see these
men, bring them to me."

An officer immediately went to fetch them.

"How many are there of them?" continued Monk; "and what is their
vessel?"

"There are ten or twelve of them, general, and they were aboard of a
kind of chasse-maree, as it is called--Dutch-built, apparently."

"And you say they were carrying fish to Lambert's camp?"

"Yes, general, and they seem to have had good luck in their fishing."

"Humph! we shall see that," said Monk.

At this moment the officer returned, bringing the leader of the
fishermen with him. He was a man from fifty to fifty-five years old,
but good-looking for his age. He was of middle height, and wore a
justaucorps of coarse wool, a cap pulled down over his eyes, a cutlass
hung from his belt, and he walked with the hesitation peculiar to
sailors, who, never knowing, thanks to the movement of the vessel,
whether their foot will be placed upon the plank or upon nothing, give
to every one of their steps a fall as firm as if they were driving a
pile. Monk, with an acute and penetrating look, examined the fisherman
for some time, while the latter smiled, with that smile half cunning,
half silly, peculiar to French peasants.

"Do you speak English?" asked Monk, in excellent French.

"Ah! but badly, my lord," replied the fisherman.

This reply was made much more with the lively and sharp accentuation of
the people beyond the Loire, than with the slightly-drawling accent of
the countries of the west and north of France.

"But you do speak it?" persisted Monk, in order to examine his accent
once more.

"Eh! we men of the sea," replied the fisherman, "speak a little of all
languages."

"Then you are a sea fisherman?"

"I am at present, my lord--a fisherman, and a famous fisherman too. I
have taken a barbel that weighs at least thirty pounds, and more
than fifty mullets; I have also some little whitings that will fry
beautifully."

"You appear to me to have fished more frequently in the Gulf of Gascony
than in the Channel," said Monk, smiling.

"Well, I am from the south; but does that prevent me from being a good
fisherman, my lord?"

"Oh! not at all; I shall buy your fish. And now speak frankly; for whom
did you destine them?"

"My lord, I will conceal nothing from you. I was going to Newcastle,
following the coast, when a party of horsemen who were passing along
in an opposite direction made a sign to my bark to turn back to your
honor's camp, under penalty of a discharge of musketry. As I was not
armed for fighting," added the fisherman, smiling, "I was forced to
submit."

"And why did you go to Lambert's camp in preference to mine?"

"My lord, I will be frank; will your lordship permit me?"

"Yes, and even if need be shall command you to be so."

"Well, my lord, I was going to M. Lambert's camp because those gentlemen
from the city pay well--whilst your Scotchmen, Puritans, Presbyterians,
Covenanters, or whatever you choose to call them, eat but little, and
pay for nothing."

Monk shrugged his shoulders, without, however, being able to refrain
from smiling at the same time. "How is it that, being from the south,
you come to fish on our coasts?"

"Because I have been fool enough to marry in Picardy."

"Yes; but even Picardy is not England."

"My lord, man shoves his boat into the sea, but God and the wind do the
rest, and drive the boat where they please."

"You had, then, no intention of landing on our coasts?"

"Never."

"And what route were you steering?"

"We were returning from Ostend, where some mackerel had already been
seen, when a sharp wind from the south drove us from our course; then,
seeing that it was useless to struggle against it, we let it drive us.
It then became necessary, not to lose our fish, which were good, to go
and sell them at the nearest English port, and that was Newcastle.
We were told the opportunity was good, as there was an increase of
population in the camp, an increase of population in the city; both,
we were told, were full of gentlemen, very rich and very hungry. So we
steered our course towards Newcastle."

"And your companions, where are they?"

"Oh, my companions have remained on board; they are sailors without the
least instruction."

"Whilst you----" said Monk.

"Who, I?" said the patron, laughing; "I have sailed about with my
father, and I know what is called a sou, a crown, a pistole, a louis,
and a double louis, in all the languages of Europe; my crew, therefore,
listen to me as they would to an oracle, and obey me as if I were an
admiral."

"Then it was you who preferred M. Lambert as the best customer?"

"Yes, certainly. And, to be frank, my lord, was I wrong?"

"You will see that by and by."

"At all events, my lord, if there is a fault, the fault is mine; and my
comrades should not be dealt hardly with on that account."

"This is decidedly an intelligent, sharp fellow," thought Monk.
Then, after a few minutes, silence employed in scrutinizing the
fisherman,--"You come from Ostend, did you not say?" asked the general.

"Yes, my lord, in a straight line."

"You have then heard of the affairs of the day; for I have no doubt that
both in France and Holland they excite interest. What is he doing who
calls himself king of England?"

"Oh, my lord!" cried the fisherman, with loud and expansive frankness,
"that is a lucky question, and you could not put it to anybody better
than to me, for in truth I can make you a famous reply. Imagine, my
lord, that when putting into Ostend to sell the few mackerel we had
caught, I saw the ex-king walking on the downs waiting for his horses,
which were to take him to the Hague. He is a rather tall, pale man, with
black hair, and somewhat hard-featured. He looks ill, and I don't think
the air of Holland agrees with him."

Monk followed with the greatest attention the rapid, heightened, and
diffuse conversation of the fisherman, in a language which was not
his own, but which, as we have said, he spoke with great facility. The
fisherman on his part, employed sometimes a French word, sometimes an
English word, and sometimes a word which appeared not to belong to any
language, but was, in truth, pure Gascon. Fortunately his eyes spoke for
him, and that so eloquently, that it was possible to lose a word
from his mouth, but not a single intention from his eyes. The general
appeared more and more satisfied with his examination. "You must have
heard that this ex-king, as you call him, was going to the Hague for
some purpose?"

"Oh, yes," said the fisherman, "I heard that."

"And what was his purpose?"

"Always the same," said the fisherman. "Must he not always entertain the
fixed idea of returning to England?"

"That is true," said Monk, pensively.

"Without reckoning," added the fisherman, "that the stadtholder--you
know, my lord, William II.?"

"Well?"

"He will assist him with all his power."

"Ah! did you hear that said?"

"No, but I think so."

"You are quite a politician, apparently," said Monk.

"Why, we sailors, my lord, who are accustomed to study the water and the
air--that is to say, the two most changeable things in the world--are
seldom deceived as to the rest."

"Now, then," said Monk, changing the conversation, "I am told you are
going to provision us."

"I shall do my best, my lord."

"How much do you ask for your fish in the first place?"

"Not such a fool as to name a price, my lord."

"Why not?"

"Because my fish is yours."

"By what right?"

"By that of the strongest."

"But my intention is to pay you for it."

"That is very generous of you, my lord."

"And the worth of it----"

"My lord, I fix no price."

"What do you ask, then?"

"I only ask to be permitted to go away."

"Where?--to General Lambert's camp?"

"I!" cried the fisherman; "what should I go to Newcastle for, now I have
no longer any fish?"

"At all events, listen to me."

"I do, my lord."

"I shall give you some advice."

"How, my lord!--pay me and give me good advice likewise! You overwhelm
me, my lord."

Monk looked more earnestly than ever at the fisherman, about whom he
still appeared to entertain some suspicion. "Yes, I shall pay you, and
give you a piece of advice, for the two things are connected. If you
return, then, to General Lambert----"

The fisherman made a movement of his head and shoulders, which
signified, "If he persists in it, I won't contradict him."

"Do not cross the marsh," continued Monk: "you will have money in your
pocket, and there are in the marsh some Scotch ambuscaders I have placed
there. Those people are very intractable; they understand but very
little of the language which you speak, although it appears to me to be
composed of three languages. They might take from you what I had given
you, and, on your return to your country, you would not fail to say that
General Monk has two hands, the one Scotch, and the other English;
and that he takes back with the Scotch hand what he has given with the
English hand."

"Oh! general, I shall go where you like, be sure of that," said the
fisherman, with a fear too expressive not to be exaggerated. "I only
wish to remain here, if you will allow me to remain."

"I readily believe you," said Monk, with an imperceptible smile, "but I
cannot, nevertheless, keep you in my tent."

"I have no such wish, my lord, and desire only that your lordship should
point out where you will have me posted. Do not trouble yourself about
us--with us a night soon passes away."

"You shall be conducted to your bark."

"As your lordship pleases. Only, if your lordship would allow me to be
taken back by a carpenter, I should be extremely grateful."

"Why so?"

"Because the gentlemen of your army, in dragging my boat up the river
with a cable pulled by their horses, have battered it a little upon
the rocks of the shore, so that I have at least two feet of water in my
hold, my lord."

"The greater reason why you should watch your boat, I think."

"My lord, I am quite at your orders," said the fisherman; "I shall empty
my baskets where you wish; then you will pay me, if you please to do so;
and you will send me away, if it appears right to you. You see I am very
easily managed and pleased, my lord."

"Come, come, you are a very good sort of a fellow," said Monk, whose
scrutinizing glance had not been able to find a single shade in the
clear eye of the fisherman. "Holloa, Digby!" An aide-de-camp appeared.
"You will conduct this good fellow and his companions to the little
tents of the canteens, in front of the marshes, so that they will be
near their bark, and yet will not sleep on board to-night. What is the
matter, Spithead?"

Spithead was the sergeant from whom Monk had borrowed a piece of tobacco
for his supper. Spithead, having entered the general's tent without
being sent for, had drawn this question from Monk.

"My lord," said he, "a French gentleman has just presented himself at
the outposts and wishes to speak to your honor."

All this was said, be it understood, in English; but notwithstanding,
it produced a slight emotion in the fisherman, which Monk, occupied with
his sergeant, did not remark.

"Who is the gentleman?" asked Monk.

"My lord," replied Spithead, "he told it me, but those devils of French
names are so difficult to pronounce for a Scotch throat, that I could
not retain it. I believe, however, from what the guards say, that it is
the same gentleman who presented himself yesterday at the halt, and whom
your honor would not receive."

"That is true; I was holding a council of officers."

"Will your honor give any orders respecting this gentleman?"

"Yes, let him be brought here."

"Must we take any precautions?"

"Such as what?"

"Binding his eyes, for instance."

"To what purpose? He can only see what I desire should be seen; that
is to say, that I have around me eleven thousand brave men, who ask
no better than to have their throats cut in honor of the parliament of
Scotland and England."

"And this man, my lord?" said Spithead, pointing to the fisherman, who,
during this conversation, had remained standing and motionless, like a
man who sees but does not understand.

"Ah, that is true," said Monk. Then turning towards the fisherman,--"I
shall see you again, my brave fellow," said he; "I have selected a
lodging for you. Digby, take him to it. Fear nothing: your money shall
be sent to you presently."

"Thank you, my lord," said the fisherman, and after having bowed, he
left the tent, accompanied by Digby. Before he had gone a hundred paces
he found his companions, who were whispering with a volubility which did
not appear exempt from uneasiness, but he made them a sign which seemed
to reassure them. "Hola, you fellows!" said the patron, "come this way.
His lordship, General Monk, has the generosity to pay us for our fish,
and the goodness to give us hospitality for to-night."

The fishermen gathered round their leader, and, conducted by Digby,
the little troop proceeded towards the canteens, the post, as may be
remembered, which had been assigned them. As they went along in the
dark, the fishermen passed close to the guards who were conducting the
French gentleman to General Monk. This gentleman was on horseback, and
enveloped in a large cloak, which prevented the patron from seeing him,
however great his curiosity might be. As to the gentleman, ignorant that
he was elbowing compatriots, he did not pay any attention to the little
troop.

The aid-de-camp settled his guests in a tolerably comfortable tent,
from which was dislodged an Irish canteen woman, who went, with her six
children, to sleep where she could. A large fire was burning in front
of this tent, and threw its purple light over the grassy pools of the
marsh, rippled by a fresh breeze. The arrangements made, the aid-de-camp
wished the fishermen good-night, calling to their notice that they might
see from the door of the tent the masts of their bark, which was tossing
gently on the Tweed, a proof that it had not yet sunk. The sight of this
appeared to delight the leader of the fishermen infinitely.



CHAPTER 24. The Treasure



The French gentleman whom Spithead had announced to Monk, and who,
closely wrapped in his cloak, had passed by the fishermen who left the
general's tent five minutes before he entered it,--the French gentleman
went through the various posts without even casting his eyes around him,
for fear of appearing indiscreet. As the order had been given, he was
conducted to the tent of the general. The gentleman was left alone in
the sort of ante-chamber in front of the principal body of the tent,
where he awaited Monk, who only delayed till he had heard the report
of his people, and observed through the opening of the canvas the
countenance of the person who solicited an audience.

Without doubt, the report of those who had accompanied the French
gentleman established the discretion with which he had behaved, for the
first impression the stranger received of the welcome made him by the
general was more favorable than he could have expected at such a moment,
and on the part of so suspicious a man. Nevertheless, according to his
custom, when Monk found himself in the presence of a stranger, he fixed
upon him his penetrating eyes, which scrutiny, the stranger, on his
part, sustained without embarrassment or notice. At the end of a few
seconds, the general made a gesture with his hand and head in sign of
attention.

"My lord," said the gentleman, in excellent English. "I have requested
an interview with your honor, for an affair of importance."

"Monsieur," replied Monk, in French, "you speak our language well for a
son of the continent. I ask your pardon--for doubtless the question is
indiscreet--do you speak French with the same purity?"

"There is nothing surprising, my lord, in my speaking English tolerably;
I resided for some time in England in my youth, and since then I have
made two voyages to this country." These words were spoken in French,
and with a purity of accent that bespoke not only a Frenchman, but a
Frenchman from the vicinity of Tours.

"And what part of England have you resided in, monsieur?"

"In my youth, London, my lord, then, about 1635, I made a pleasure trip
to Scotland; and lastly, in 1648, I lived for some time at Newcastle,
particularly in the convent, the gardens of which are now occupied by
your army."

"Excuse me, monsieur, but you must comprehend that these questions are
necessary on my part--do you not?"

"It would astonish me, my lord, if they were not asked."

"Now, then, monsieur, what can I do to serve you? What do you wish?"

"This, my lord;--but, in the first place, are we alone?"

"Perfectly so, monsieur, except, of course, the post which guards us."
So saying, Monk pulled open the canvas with his hand, and pointed to the
soldier placed at ten paces from the tent, and who, at the first call
could have rendered assistance in a second.

"In that case my lord," said the gentleman, in as calm a tone as if
he had been for a length of time in habits of intimacy with his
interlocutor, "I have made up my mind to address myself to you, because I
believe you to be an honest man. Indeed, the communication I am about to
make to you will prove to you the esteem in which I hold you."

Monk, astonished at this language, which established between him and
the French gentleman equality at least, raised his piercing eye to the
stranger's face, and with a sensible irony conveyed by the inflection
of his voice alone, for not a muscle of his face moved,--"I thank you,
monsieur," said he; "but, in the first place, to whom have I the honor
of speaking?"

"I sent you my name by your sergeant, my lord."

"Excuse him, monsieur, he is a Scotchman,--he could not retain it."

"I am called the Comte de la Fere, monsieur," said Athos, bowing.

"The Comte de la Fere?" said Monk, endeavoring to recollect the name.
"Pardon me, monsieur, but this appears to be the first time I have ever
heard that name. Do you fill any post at the court of France?"

"None; I am a simple gentleman."

"What dignity?"

"King Charles I. made me a knight of the Garter, and Queen Anne of
Austria has given me the cordon of the Holy Ghost. These are my only
dignities."

"The Garter! the Holy Ghost! Are you a knight of those two orders,
monsieur?"

"Yes."

"And on what occasions have such favors been bestowed upon you?"

"For services rendered to their majesties."

Monk looked with astonishment at this man, who appeared to him so simple
and so great at the same time. Then, as if he had renounced endeavoring
to penetrate this mystery of a simplicity and grandeur upon which the
stranger did not seem disposed to give him any other information than
that which he had already received,--"Did you present yourself yesterday
at our advanced posts?"

"And was sent back? Yes, my lord."

"Many officers, monsieur, would permit no one to enter their camp,
particularly on the eve of a probable battle. But I differ from my
colleagues, and like to leave nothing behind me. Every advice is good to
me; all danger is sent to me by God, and I weigh it in my hand with
the energy He has given me. So, yesterday, you were only sent back on
account of the council I was holding. To-day I am at liberty,--speak."

"My lord, you have done much better in receiving me, for what I have
to say has nothing to do with the battle you are about to fight with
General Lambert, or with your camp; and the proof is, that I turned away
my head that I might not see your men, and closed my eyes that I might
not count your tents. No, I come to speak to you, my lord, on my own
account."

"Speak, then, monsieur," said Monk.

"Just now," continued Athos, "I had the honor of telling your lordship
that for a long time I lived in Newcastle; it was in the time of Charles
I., and when the king was given up to Cromwell by the Scots."

"I know," said Monk, coldly.

"I had at that time a large sum in gold, and on the eve of the battle,
from a presentiment perhaps of the turn which things would take on
the morrow, I concealed it in the principal vault of the convent
of Newcastle, in the tower whose summit you now see silvered by the
moonbeams. My treasure has then remained interred there, and I have come
to entreat your honor to permit me to withdraw it before, perhaps, the
battle turning that way, a mine or some other war engine has destroyed
the building and scattered my gold, or rendered it so apparent that the
soldiers will take possession of it."

Monk was well acquainted with mankind, he saw in the physiognomy of
this gentleman all the energy, all the reason, all the circumspection
possible, he could therefore only attribute to a magnanimous confidence
the revelation the Frenchman had made him, and he showed himself
profoundly touched by it.

"Monsieur," said he, "you have augured well of me. But is the sum worth
the trouble to which you expose yourself? Do you even believe that it
can be in the place where you left it?"

"It is there, monsieur, I do not doubt."

"That is a reply to one question; but to the other. I asked you if the
sum was so large as to warrant your exposing yourself thus."

"It is really large; yes, my lord, for it is a million I inclosed in two
barrels."

"A million!" cried Monk, at whom this time, in turn, Athos looked
earnestly and long. Monk perceived this, and his mistrust returned.

"Here is a man," said he, "who is laying a snare for me. So you wish to
withdraw this money, monsieur," replied he, "as I understand?"

"If you please, my lord."

"To-day?"

"This very evening, and that on account of the circumstances I have
named."

"But, monsieur," objected Monk, "General Lambert is as near the abbey
where you have to act as I am. Why, then, have you not addressed
yourself to him?"

"Because, my lord, when one acts in important matters, it is best to
consult one's instinct before everything. Well, General Lambert does not
inspire me with so much confidence as you do."

"Be it so, monsieur. I shall assist you in recovering your money, if,
however, it can still be there; for that is far from likely. Since 1648
twelve years have rolled away, and many events have taken place." Monk
dwelt upon this point to see if the French gentleman would seize the
evasions that were open to him, but Athos did not hesitate.

"I assure you, my lord," he said firmly, "that my conviction is, that
the two barrels have neither changed place nor master." This reply
had removed one suspicion from the mind of Monk, but it had suggested
another. Without doubt this Frenchman was some emissary sent to entice
into error the protector of the parliament; the gold was nothing but a
lure; and by the help of this lure they thought to excite the cupidity
of the general. This gold might not exist. It was Monk's business, then,
to seize the Frenchman in the act of falsehood and trick, and to draw
from the false step itself in which his enemies wished to entrap him, a
triumph for his renown. When Monk was determined how to act,--

"Monsieur," said he to Athos, "without doubt you will do me the honor to
share my supper this evening?"

"Yes, my lord," replied Athos, bowing, "for you do me an honor of which
I feel myself worthy, by the inclination which drew me towards you."

"It is so much the more gracious on your part to accept my invitation
with such frankness, as my cooks are but few and inexperienced, and my
providers have returned this evening empty-handed; so that if it had not
been for a fisherman of your nation who strayed into our camp, General
Monk would have gone to bed without his supper to-day; I have, then,
some fresh fish to offer you, as the vendor assures me."

"My lord, it is principally for the sake of having the honor to pass
another hour with you."

After this exchange of civilities, during which Monk had lost nothing of
his circumspection, the supper, or what was to serve for one, had been
laid upon a deal table. Monk invited the Comte de la Fere to be seated
at this table, and took his place opposite to him. A single dish of
boiled fish, set before the two illustrious guests, was more tempting to
hungry stomachs than to delicate palates.

Whilst supping, that is, while eating the fish, washed down with bad
ale, Monk got Athos to relate to him the last events of the Fronde, the
reconciliation of M. de Conde with the king, and the probable marriage
of the infanta of Spain; but he avoided, as Athos himself avoided it,
all allusion to the political interests which united, or rather which
disunited at this time, England, France and Holland.

Monk, in this conversation, convinced himself of one thing, which he
must have remarked after the first words exchanged: that was, that he
had to deal with a man of high distinction. He could not be an assassin,
and it was repugnant to Monk to believe him to be a spy, but there was
sufficient finesse and at the same time firmness in Athos to lead Monk
to fancy he was a conspirator. When they had quitted table, "You still
believe in your treasure, then, monsieur?" asked Monk.

"Yes, my lord."

"Quite seriously?"

"Seriously."

"And you think you can find the place again where it was buried?"

"At the first inspection."

"Well, monsieur, from curiosity I shall accompany you. And it is so
much the more necessary that I should accompany you, that you would find
great difficulties in passing through the camp without me or one of my
lieutenants."

"General, I would not suffer you to inconvenience yourself if I did not,
in fact, stand in need of your company; but as I recognize that this
company is not only honorable, but necessary, I accept it."

"Do you desire we should take any people with us?" asked Monk.

"General, I believe that would be useless, if you yourself do not see
the necessity for it. Two men and a horse will suffice to transport the
two casks on board the felucca which brought me hither."

"But it will be necessary to pick, dig and remove the earth, and split
stones; you don't intend doing this work yourself, monsieur, do you?"

"General, there is no picking or digging required. The treasure is
buried in the sepulchral vault of the convent, under a stone in which is
fixed a large iron ring and under which are four steps leading down. The
two casks are there, placed end to end, covered with a coat of plaster
in the form of a bier. There is, besides, an inscription, which will
enable me to recognize the stone; and as I am not willing, in an affair
of delicacy and confidence, to keep the secret from your honor, here is
the inscription:--'Hic jacet venerabilis, Petrus Gulielmus Scott, Canon
Honorab. Conventus Novi Castelli. Obiit quarta et decima. Feb. ann. Dom.
MCCVIII. Requiescat in pace.'"

Monk did not lose a single word.--He was astonished either at the
marvelous duplicity of this man and the superior style in which he
played his part, or at the good loyal faith with which he presented his
request, in a situation in which concerning a million of money, risked
against the blow from a dagger, amidst an army that would have looked
upon the theft as a restitution.

"Very well," said he; "I shall accompany you; and the adventure appears
to me so wonderful, that I shall carry the torch myself." And saying
these words, he girded on a short sword, placed a pistol in his belt,
disclosing in this movement, which opened his doublet a little, the
fine rings of a coat of mail, destined to protect him from the first
dagger-thrust of an assassin. After which he took a Scotch dirk in his
left hand, and then turning to Athos, "Are you ready, monsieur?" said
he.

"I am."

Athos, as if in opposition to what Monk had done, unfastened his
poniard, which he placed upon the table; unhooked his sword-belt, which
he laid close to his poniard; and, without affectation, opening his
doublet as if to look for his handkerchief, showed beneath his fine
cambric shirt his naked breast, without weapons either offensive or
defensive.

"This is truly a singular man," said Monk; "he is without any arms; he
has an ambuscade placed somewhere yonder."

"General," said he, as if he had divined Monk's thought, "you wish we
should be alone; that is very right, but a great captain ought never to
expose himself with temerity. It is night, the passage of the marsh may
present dangers; be accompanied."

"You are right," replied he, calling Digby. The aid-de-camp appeared.
"Fifty men with swords and muskets," said he, looking at Athos.

"That is too few if there is danger, too many if there is not."

"I will go alone," said Monk; "I want nobody. Come, monsieur."



CHAPTER 25. The March



Athos and Monk passed over, in going from the camp towards the Tweed,
that part of the ground which Digby had traversed with the fishermen
coming from the Tweed to the camp. The aspect of this place, the aspect
of the changes man had wrought in it, was of a nature to produce a great
effect upon a lively and delicate imagination like that of Athos. Athos
looked at nothing but these desolate spots; Monk looked at nothing but
Athos--at Athos, who, with his eyes sometimes directed towards heaven,
and sometimes towards the earth, sought, thought, and sighed.

Digby, whom the last orders of the general, and particularly the accent
with which he had given them, had at first a little excited, followed
the pair at about twenty paces, but the general having turned round as
if astonished to find his orders had not been obeyed, the aid-de-camp
perceived his indiscretion and returned to his tent.

He supposed that the general wished to make, incognito, one of those
reviews of vigilance which every experienced captain never fails to
make on the eve of a decisive engagement: he explained to himself the
presence of Athos in this case as an inferior explains all that is
mysterious on the part of his leader. Athos might be, and, indeed, in
the eyes of Digby, must be, a spy, whose information was to enlighten
the general.

At the end of a walk of about ten minutes among the tents and posts,
which were closer together near the headquarters, Monk entered upon a
little causeway which diverged into three branches. That on the left led
to the river, that in the middle to Newcastle Abbey on the marsh, that
on the right crossed the first lines of Monk's camp, that is to say, the
lines nearest to Lambert's army. Beyond the river was an advanced post
belonging to Monk's army, which watched the enemy; it was composed of
one hundred and fifty Scots. They had swum across the Tweed, and, in
case of attack, were to recross it in the same manner, giving the alarm;
but as there was no post at that spot, and as Lambert's soldiers were
not so prompt at taking to the water as Monk's were, the latter appeared
not to have much uneasiness on that side. On this side of the river, at
about five hundred paces from the old abbey, the fishermen had taken up
their abode amidst a crowd of small tents raised by the soldiers of the
neighboring clans, who had with them their wives and children. All this
confusion, seen by the moon's light, presented a striking coup d'oeil;
the half shadow enlarged every detail, and the light, that flatterer
which only attaches itself to the polished side of things, courted upon
each rusty musket the point still left intact, and upon every rag of
canvas the whitest and least sullied part.

Monk arrived then with Athos, crossing this spot, illumined with a
double light, the silver splendor of the moon, and the red blaze of
the fires at the meeting of the three causeways; there he stopped, and
addressing his companion,--"Monsieur," said he, "do you know your road?"

"General, if I am not mistaken, the middle causeway leads straight to
the abbey."

"That is right; but we shall want lights to guide us in the vaults."
Monk turned round.

"Ah! I thought Digby was following us!" said he. "So much the better; he
will procure us what we want."

"Yes, general, there is a man yonder who has been walking behind us for
some time."

"Digby!" cried Monk. "Digby! come here, if you please."

But, instead of obeying, the shadow made a motion of surprise, and,
retreating instead of advancing, it bent down and disappeared along
the jetty on the left, directing its course towards the lodging of the
fishermen.

"It appears not to be Digby," said Monk.

Both had followed the shadow which had vanished. But it was not so rare
a thing for a man to be wandering about at eleven o'clock at night, in
a camp in which are reposing ten or eleven thousand men, as to give Monk
and Athos any alarm at his disappearance.

"As it is so," said Monk, "and we must have a light, a lantern, a torch,
or something by which we may see where to set our feet, let us seek this
light."

"General, the first soldier we meet will light us."

"No," said Monk, in order to discover if there were not any connivance
between the Comte de la Fere and the fisherman. "No, I should prefer
one of these French sailors who came this evening to sell me their
fish. They leave to-morrow, and the secret will be better kept by them;
whereas, if a report should be spread in the Scotch army, that treasures
are to be found in the abbey of Newcastle, my Highlanders will believe
there is a million concealed beneath every slab, and they will not leave
stone upon stone in the building."

"Do as you think best, general," replied Athos in a natural tone of
voice, making evident that soldier or fisherman was the same to him, and
that he had no preference.

Monk approached the causeway behind which had disappeared the person he
had taken for Digby, and met a patrol who, making the tour of the tents,
was going towards headquarters; he was stopped with his companion, gave
the password, and went on. A soldier, roused by the noise, unrolled his
plaid, and looked up to see what was going forward. "Ask him," said Monk
to Athos, "where the fishermen are; if I were to speak to him, he would
know me."

Athos went up to the soldier, who pointed out the tent to him;
immediately Monk and Athos turned towards it. It appeared to the general
that at the moment they came up, a shadow like that they had already
seen glided into this tent; but on drawing nearer he perceived he must
have been mistaken, for all of them were asleep pele mele, and nothing
was seen but arms and legs joined, crossed, and mixed. Athos, fearing
lest he should be suspected of connivance with some of his compatriots,
remained outside the tent.

"Hola!" said Monk, in French, "wake up here." Two or three of the
sleepers got up.

"I want a man to light me," continued Monk.

"Your honor may depend upon us," said a voice which made Athos start.
"Where do you wish us to go?"

"You shall see. A light! come, quickly!"

"Yes, your honor. Does it please your honor that I should accompany
you?"

"You or another, it is of very little consequence, provided I have a
light."

"It is strange!" thought Athos, "what a singular voice that man has!"

"Some fire, you fellows!" cried the fisherman; "come, make haste!"

Then addressing his companion nearest to him in a low voice:--"Get a
light, Menneville," said he, "and hold yourself ready for anything."

One of the fishermen struck light from a stone, set fire to some tinder,
and by the aid of a match lit a lantern. The light immediately spread
all over the tent.

"Are you ready, monsieur?" said Monk to Athos, who had turned away, not
to expose his face to the light.

"Yes, general," replied he.

"Ah! the French gentleman!" said the leader of the fishermen to
himself. "Peste! I have a great mind to charge you with the commission,
Menneville; he may know me. Light! light!" This dialogue was pronounced
at the back of the tent, and in so low a voice that Monk could not hear
a syllable of it; he was, besides, talking with Athos. Menneville got
himself ready in the meantime, or rather received the orders of his
leader.

"Well?" said Monk.

"I am ready, general," said the fisherman.

Monk, Athos, and the fisherman left the tent.

"It is impossible!" thought Athos. "What dream could put that into my
head?"

"Go forward; follow the middle causeway, and stretch out your legs,"
said Monk to the fisherman.

They were not twenty paces on their way when the same shadow that had
appeared to enter the tent came out of it again, crawled along as far
as the piles, and, protected by that sort of parapet placed along
the causeway, carefully observed the march of the general. All three
disappeared in the night haze. They were walking towards Newcastle, the
white stones of which appeared to them like sepulchres. After standing
for a few seconds under the porch, they penetrated into the interior.
The door had been broken open by hatchets. A post of four men slept in
safety in a corner, so certain were they that the attack would not take
place on that side.

"Will not these men be in your way?" said Monk to Athos.

"On the contrary, monsieur, they will assist in rolling out the barrels,
if your honor will permit them."

"You are right."

The post, though fast asleep, roused up at the first steps of the three
visitors amongst the briars and grass that invaded the porch. Monk gave
the password, and penetrated into the interior of the convent, preceded
by the light. He walked last, watching the least movement of Athos, his
naked dirk in his sleeve, and ready to plunge it into the back of the
gentleman at the first suspicious gesture he should see him make. But
Athos, with a firm and sure step, crossed the chambers and courts.

Not a door, not a window was left in this building. The doors had been
burnt, some on the spot, and the charcoal of them was still jagged with
the action of the fire, which had gone out of itself, powerless, no
doubt, to get to the heart of those massive joints of oak fastened
together with iron nails. As to the windows, all the panes having been
broken, night birds, alarmed by the torch, flew away through their
holes. At the same time, gigantic bats began to trace their vast, silent
circles around the intruders, whilst the light of the torch made their
shadows tremble on the high stone walls. Monk concluded there could be
no man in the convent, since wild beasts and birds were there still, and
fled away at his approach.

After having passed the rubbish, and torn away more than one branch of
ivy that had made itself a guardian of the solitude, Athos arrived at
the vaults situated beneath the great hall, but the entrance of which
was from the chapel. There he stopped. "Here we are, general," said he.

"This, then, is the slab?"

"Yes."

"Ay, and here is the ring--but the ring is sealed into the stone."

"We must have a lever."

"That's a thing very easy to find."

Whilst looking round them, Athos and Monk perceived a little ash of
about three inches in diameter, which had shot up in an angle of the
wall, reaching a window, concealed by its branches.

"Have you a knife?" said Monk to the fisherman.

"Yes, monsieur."

"Cut down this tree; then."

The fisherman obeyed, but not without notching his cutlass. When the
ash was cut and fashioned into the shape of a lever, the three men
penetrated into the vault.

"Stop where you are," said Monk to the fisherman. "We are going to dig
up some powder; your light may be dangerous."

The man drew back in a sort of terror, and faithfully kept to the post
assigned him, whilst Monk and Athos turned behind a column at the foot
of which, penetrating through a crack, was a moonbeam, reflected exactly
on the stone which the Comte de la Fere had come so far in search.

"This is it," said Athos, pointing out to the general the Latin
inscription.

"Yes," said Monk.

Then, as if still willing to leave the Frenchman one means of evasion,--

"Do you not observe that this vault has already been broken into,"
continued he, "and that several statues have been knocked down?"

"My lord, you have, without doubt, heard that the religious respect
of your Scots loves to confide to the statues of the dead the valuable
objects they have possessed during their lives. Therefore, the soldiers
had reason to think that under the pedestals of the statues which
ornament most of these tombs, a treasure was hidden. They have
consequently broken down pedestal and statue: but the tomb of the
venerable canon, with which we have to do, is not distinguished by
any monument. It is simple, therefore it has been protected by the
superstitious fear which your Puritans have always had of sacrilege. Not
a morsel of the masonry of this tomb has been chipped off."

"That is true," said Monk.

Athos seized the lever.

"Shall I help you?" said Monk.

"Thank you, my lord; but I am not willing that your honor should
lend your hand to a work of which, perhaps, you would not take the
responsibility if you knew the probable consequences of it."

Monk raised his head.

"What do you mean by that, monsieur?"

"I mean--but that man----"

"Stop," said Monk; "I perceive what you are afraid of. I shall make a
trial." Monk turned towards the fisherman, the whole of whose profile
was thrown upon the wall.

"Come here, friend!" said he in English, and in a tone of command.

The fisherman did not stir.

"That is well," continued he: "he does not know English. Speak to me,
then, in English, if you please, monsieur."

"My lord," replied Athos, "I have frequently seen men in certain
circumstances have sufficient command over themselves not to reply to
a question put to them in a language they understood. The fisherman is
perhaps more learned than we believe him to be. Send him away, my lord,
I beg you."

"Decidedly," said Monk, "he wishes to have me alone in this vault. Never
mind, we shall go through with it; one man is as good as another man;
and we are alone. My friend," said Monk to the fisherman, "go back
up the stairs we have just descended, and watch that nobody comes to
disturb us." The fisherman made a sign of obedience. "Leave your torch,"
said Monk; "it would betray your presence, and might procure you a
musket-ball."

The fisherman appeared to appreciate the counsel; he laid down the
light, and disappeared under the vault of the stairs. Monk took up the
torch, and brought it to the foot of the column.

"Ah, ah!" said he; "money, then, is concealed under this tomb?"

"Yes, my lord; and in five minutes you will no longer doubt it."

At the same time Athos struck a violent blow upon the plaster, which
split, presenting a chink for the point of the lever. Athos introduced
the bar into this crack, and soon large pieces of plaster yielded,
rising up like rounded slabs. Then the Comte de la Fere seized the
stones and threw them away with a force that hands so delicate as his
might not have been supposed capable of having.

"My lord," said Athos, "this is plainly the masonry of which I told your
honor."

"Yes; but I do not yet see the casks," said Monk.

"If I had a dagger," said Athos, looking round him, "you should soon see
them, monsieur. Unfortunately, I left mine in your tent."

"I would willingly offer you mine," said Monk, "but the blade is too
thin for such work."

Athos appeared to look around him for a thing of some kind that might
serve as a substitute for the weapon he desired. Monk did not lose one
of the movements of his hands, or one of the expressions of his eyes.
"Why do you not ask the fisherman for his cutlass?" said Monk; "he has a
cutlass."

"Ah! that is true," said Athos, "for he cut the tree down with it." And
he advanced towards the stairs.

"Friend," said he to the fisherman, "throw me down your cutlass, if you
please; I want it."

The noise of the falling weapon sounded on the steps.

"Take it," said Monk; "it is a solid instrument, as I have seen, and a
strong hand might make good use of it."

Athos only appeared to give to the words of Monk the natural and simple
sense under which they were to be heard and understood. Nor did he
remark, or at least appear to remark, that when he returned with the
weapon, Monk drew back, placing his left hand on the stock of his
pistol; in the right he already held his dirk. He went to work then,
turning his back to Monk, placing his life in his hands, without
possible defense. He then struck, during several seconds, so skillfully
and sharply upon the intermediary plaster, that it separated into two
parts, and Monk was able to discern two barrels placed end to end, and
which their weight maintained motionless in their chalky envelope.

"My lord," said Athos, "you see that my presentiments have not been
disappointed."

"Yes, monsieur," said Monk, "and I have good reason to believe you are
satisfied; are you not?"

"Doubtless, I am; the loss of this money would have been inexpressibly
great to me: but I was certain that God, who protects the good cause,
would not have permitted this gold, which should procure its triumph, to
be diverted to baser purposes."

"You are, upon my honor, as mysterious in your words as in your actions,
monsieur," said Monk. "Just now I did not perfectly understand you when
you said that you were not willing to throw upon me the responsibility
of the work we were accomplishing."

"I had reason to say so, my lord."

"And now you speak to me of the good cause. What do you mean by the
words 'the good cause'? We are defending at this moment, in England,
five or six causes, which does not prevent every one from considering
his own not only as the good cause, but as the best. What is yours,
monsieur? Speak boldly, that we may see if, upon this point, to which
you appear to attach a great importance, we are of the same opinion."

Athos fixed upon Monk one of those penetrating looks which seem to
convey to him to whom they are directed a challenge to conceal a single
one of his thoughts; then, taking off his hat, he began in a solemn
voice, while his interlocutor, with one hand upon his visage, allowed
that long and nervous hand to compress his mustache and beard, while his
vague and melancholy eye wandered about the recesses of the vaults.



CHAPTER 26. Heart and Mind



"My lord," said the Comte de la Fere, "you are a noble Englishman, you
are a loyal man; you are speaking to a noble Frenchman, to a man of
heart. The gold contained in these two casks before us, I have told you
was mine. I was wrong--it is the first lie I have pronounced in my life,
a temporary lie, it is true. This gold is the property of King Charles
II., exiled from his country, driven from his palaces, the orphan at
once of his father and his throne, and deprived of everything, even of
the melancholy happiness of kissing on his knees the stone upon which
the hands of his murderers have written that simple epitaph which will
eternally cry out for vengeance upon them:--'Here lies Charles I.'"

Monk grew slightly pale, and an imperceptible shudder crept over his
skin and raised his gray mustache.

"I," continued Athos, "I, Comte de la Fere, the last, only faithful
friend the poor abandoned prince has left, I have offered him to come
hither to find the man upon whom now depends the fate of royalty and of
England; and I have come, and placed myself under the eye of this man,
and have placed myself naked and unarmed in his hands, saying:--'My
lord, here are the last resources of a prince whom God made your master,
whom his birth made your king; upon you, and you alone, depend his life
and his future. Will you employ this money in consoling England for the
evils it must have suffered from anarchy; that is to say, will you aid,
and if not aid, will you allow King Charles II. to act? You are master,
you are king, all-powerful master and king, for chance sometimes defeats
the work of time and God. I am here alone with you, my lord: if divided
success alarms you, if my complicity annoys you, you are armed, my lord,
and here is a grave ready dug; if, on the contrary, the enthusiasm of
your cause carries you away, if you are what you appear to be, if your
hand in what it undertakes obeys your mind, and your mind your heart,
here are the means of ruining forever the cause of your enemy, Charles
Stuart. Kill, then, the man you have before you, for that man will never
return to him who has sent him without bearing with him the deposit
which Charles I., his father, confided to him, and keep the gold which
may assist in carrying on the civil war. Alas! my lord, it is the
fate of this unfortunate prince. He must either corrupt or kill, for
everything resists him, everything repulses him, everything is hostile
to him; and yet he is marked with the divine seal, and he must, not to
belie his blood, reascend the throne, or die upon the sacred soil of his
country.'

"My lord, you have heard me. To any other but the illustrious man who
listens to me, I would have said: 'My lord, you are poor; my lord, the
king offers you this million as an earnest of an immense bargain; take
it, and serve Charles II. as I served Charles I., and I feel assured
that God, who listens to us, who sees us, who alone reads in your
heart, shut from all human eyes,--I am assured God will give you a
happy eternal life after a happy death.' But to General Monk, to the
illustrious man of whose standard I believe I have taken measure, I
say: 'My lord, there is for you in the history of peoples and kings a
brilliant place, an immortal, imperishable glory, if alone, without
any other interest but the good of your country and the interests of
justice, you become the supporter of your king. Many others have been
conquerors and glorious usurpers; you, my lord, you will be content with
being the most virtuous, the most honest, and the most incorruptible of
men: you will have held a crown in your hand, and instead of placing it
upon your own brow, you will have deposited it upon the head of him for
whom it was made. Oh, my lord, act thus, and you will leave to posterity
the most enviable of names, in which no human creature can rival you.'"

Athos stopped. During the whole time that the noble gentleman was
speaking, Monk had not given one sign of either approbation or
disapprobation; scarcely even, during this vehement appeal, had his eyes
been animated with that fire which bespeaks intelligence. The Comte
de la Fere looked at him sorrowfully, and on seeing that melancholy
countenance, felt discouragement penetrate to his very heart. At length
Monk appeared to recover, and broke the silence.

"Monsieur," said he, in a mild, calm tone, "in reply to you, I will
make use of your own words. To any other but yourself I would reply by
expulsion, imprisonment, or still worse, for, in fact, you tempt me and
you force me at the same time. But you are one of those men, monsieur,
to whom it is impossible to refuse the attention and respect they merit;
you are a brave gentleman, monsieur--I say so, and I am a judge. You
just now spoke of a deposit which the late king transmitted through you
to his son--are you, then, one of those Frenchmen who, as I have heard,
endeavored to carry off Charles I. from Whitehall?"

"Yes, my lord, it was I who was beneath the scaffold during the
execution; I, who had not been able to redeem it, received upon my brow
the blood of the martyred king. I received, at the same time, the last
word of Charles I., it was to me he said, 'Remember!' and in saying,
'Remember!' he alluded to the money at your feet, my lord."

"I have heard much of you, monsieur," said Monk, "but I am happy to
have, in the first place, appreciated you by my own observations, and
not by my remembrances. I will give you, then, explanations that I have
given to no other, and you will appreciate what a distinction I make
between you and the persons who have hitherto been sent to me."

Athos bowed, and prepared to absorb greedily the words which fell, one
by one, from the mouth of Monk,--those words rare and precious as the
dew in the desert.

"You spoke to me," said Monk, "of Charles II.; but pray, monsieur, of
what consequence to me is that phantom of a king? I have grown old in a
war and in a policy which are nowadays so closely linked together,
that every man of the sword must fight in virtue of his rights or his
ambition with a personal interest, and not blindly behind an officer, as
in ordinary wars. For myself, I perhaps desire nothing, but I fear much.
In the war of to-day rests the liberty of England, and, perhaps, that of
every Englishman. How can you expect that I, free in the position I
have made for myself, should go willingly and hold out my hands to the
shackles of a stranger? That is all Charles is to me. He has fought
battles here which he has lost, he is therefore a bad captain; he has
succeeded in no negotiation, he is therefore a bad diplomatist; he has
paraded his wants and his miseries in all the courts of Europe, he has
therefore a weak and pusillanimous heart. Nothing noble, nothing great,
nothing strong has hitherto emanated from that genius which aspires to
govern one of the greatest kingdoms of the earth. I know this Charles,
then, under none but bad aspects, and you would wish me, a man of good
sense, to go and make myself gratuitously the slave of a creature who
is inferior to me in military capacity, in politics, and in dignity! No,
monsieur. When some great and noble action shall have taught me to value
Charles, I shall perhaps recognize his rights to a throne from which
we have cast the father because he wanted the virtues which his son has
hitherto lacked, but, in fact of rights, I only recognize my own; the
revolution made me a general, my sword will make me protector, if I wish
it. Let Charles show himself, let him present himself, let him enter the
competition open to genius, and, above all, let him remember that he
is of a race from whom more will be expected than from any other.
Therefore, monsieur, say no more about him. I neither refuse nor accept:
I reserve myself--I wait."

Athos knew Monk to be too well informed of all concerning Charles to
venture to urge the discussion further; it was neither the time nor the
place. "My lord," then said he, "I have nothing to do but to thank you."

"And why, monsieur? Because you have formed a correct opinion of me,
or because I have acted according to your judgment? Is that, in truth,
worthy of thanks? This gold which you are about to carry to Charles
will serve me as a test for him, by seeing the use he will make of it. I
shall have an opinion which now I have not."

"And yet does not your honor fear to compromise yourself by allowing
such a sum to be carried away for the service of your enemy?"

"My enemy, say you? Eh, monsieur, I have no enemies. I am in the service
of the parliament, which orders me to fight General Lambert and Charles
Stuart--its enemies, and not mine. I fight them. If the parliament, on
the contrary, ordered me to unfurl my standards on the port of London,
and to assemble my soldiers on the banks to receive Charles II.----"

"You would obey?" cried Athos, joyfully.

"Pardon me," said Monk, smiling, "I was going--I, a gray-headed man--in
truth, how could I forget myself? was going to speak like a foolish
young man."

"Then you would not obey?" said Athos.

"I do not say that either, monsieur. The welfare of my country before
everything. God, who has given me the power, has, no doubt, willed that
I should have that power for the good of all, and He has given me,
at the same time, discernment. If the parliament were to order such a
thing, I should reflect."

The brow of Athos became clouded. "Then I may positively say that your
honor is not inclined to favor King Charles II.?"

"You continue to question me, monsieur le comte; allow me to do so in
turn, if you please."

"Do, monsieur; and may God inspire you with the idea of replying to me
as frankly as I shall reply to you."

"When you shall have taken this money back to your prince, what advice
will you give him?"

Athos fixed upon Monk a proud and resolute look.

"My lord," said he, "with this million, which others would perhaps
employ in negotiating, I would advise the king to raise two regiments,
to enter Scotland, which you have just pacified: to give to the people
the franchises which the revolution promised them, and in which it has
not, in all cases, kept its word. I should advise him to command in
person this little army, which would, believe me, increase, and to die,
standard in hand, and sword in its sheath, saying, 'Englishmen! I am the
third king of my race you have killed; beware of the justice of God!'"

Monk hung down his head, and mused for an instant. "If he succeeded,"
said he, "which is very improbable, but not impossible--for everything
is possible in this world--what would you advise him to do?"

"To think that by the will of God he lost his crown but by the good will
of men he recovered it."

An ironical smile passed over the lips of Monk.

"Unfortunately, monsieur," said he, "kings do not know how to follow
good advice."

"Ah, my lord, Charles II. is not a king," replied Athos, smiling in his
turn, but with a very different expression from Monk.

"Let us terminate this, monsieur le comte,--that is your desire, is it
not?"

Athos bowed.

"I shall give orders to have these two casks transported whither you
please. Where are you lodging, monsieur?"

"In a little hamlet at the mouth of the river, your honor."

"Oh, I know the hamlet; it consists of five or six houses, does it not?"

"Exactly. Well, I inhabit the first,--two net-makers occupy it with me;
it is their bark which brought me ashore."

"But your own vessel, monsieur?"

"My vessel is at anchor, a quarter of a mile at sea, and waits for me."

"You do not think, however, of setting out immediately?"

"My lord, I shall try once more to convince your honor."

"You will not succeed," replied Monk; "but it is of consequence that you
should depart from Newcastle without leaving of your passage the least
suspicion that might prove injurious to me or you. To-morrow my officers
think Lambert will attack me. I, on the contrary, am convinced that he
will not stir; it is in my opinion impossible. Lambert leads an army
devoid of homogeneous principles, and there is no possible army with
such elements. I have taught my soldiers to consider my authority
subordinate to another, therefore after me, round me, and beneath me
they still look for something. It would result that if I were dead,
whatever might happen, my army would not be demoralized all at once;
it results, that if I choose to absent myself, for instance, as it does
please me to do sometimes, there would not be in the camp the shadow
of uneasiness or disorder. I am the magnet--the sympathetic and natural
strength of the English. All those scattered irons that will be sent
against me I shall attract to myself. Lambert, at this moment, commands
eighteen thousand deserters, but I have never mentioned that to my
officers, you may easily suppose. Nothing is more useful to an army than
the expectation of a coming battle; everybody is awake--everybody is on
guard. I tell you this that you may live in perfect security. Do not
be in a hurry, then, to cross the seas; within a week there will be
something fresh, either a battle or an accomodation. Then, as you have
judged me to be a honorable man, and confided your secret to me, I have
to thank you for this confidence, and I shall come and pay you a
visit or send for you. Do not go before I send you word. I repeat the
request."

"I promise you, general," cried Athos, with a joy so great, that in
spite of all his circumspection, he could not prevent its sparkling in
his eyes.

Monk surprised this flash, and immediately extinguished it by one of
those silent smiles which always caused his interlocutors to know they
had made no inroad on his mind.

"Then, my lord, it is a week that you desire me to wait?"

"A week? yes, monsieur."

"And during these days what shall I do?"

"If there should be a battle, keep at a distance from it, I beseech you.
I know the French delight in such amusements,--you might take a fancy to
see how we fight, and you might receive some chance shot. Our Scotchmen
are very bad marksmen, and I do not wish that a worthy gentleman like
you should return to France wounded. Nor should I like to be obliged
myself, to send to your prince his million left here by you, for then it
would be said, and with some reason, that I paid the Pretender to enable
him to make war against the parliament. Go, then, monsieur, and let it
be done as has been agreed upon."

"Ah, my lord," said Athos, "what joy it would give me to be the first
that penetrated to the noble heart which beats beneath that cloak!"

"You think, then, that I have secrets," said Monk, without changing the
half cheerful expression of his countenance. "Why, monsieur, what
secret can you expect to find in the hollow head of a soldier? But it is
getting late, and our torch is almost out; let us call our man."

"Hola!" cried Monk in French, approaching the stairs; "hola! fisherman!"

The fisherman, benumbed by the cold night air, replied in a hoarse
voice, asking what they wanted of him.

"Go to the post," said Monk, "and order a sergeant, in the name of
General Monk, to come here immediately."

This was a commission easily performed; for the sergeant, uneasy at the
general's being in that desolate abbey, had drawn nearer by degrees,
and was not much further off than the fisherman. The general's order was
therefore heard by him, and he hastened to obey it.

"Get a horse and two men," said Monk.

"A horse and two men?" repeated the sergeant.

"Yes," replied Monk. "Have you any means of getting a horse with a
pack-saddle or two paniers?"

"No doubt, at a hundred paces off, in the Scotch camp."

"Very well."

"What shall I do with the horse, general?"

"Look here."

The sergeant descended the three steps which separated him from Monk,
and came into the vault.

"You see," said Monk, "that gentleman yonder?"

"Yes, general."

"And you see these two casks?"

"Perfectly."

"They are two casks, one containing powder, and the other balls; I wish
these casks to be transported to the little hamlet at the mouth of the
river, and which I intend to occupy to-morrow with two hundred muskets.
You understand that the commission is a secret one, for it is a movement
that may decide the fate of the battle."

"Oh, general!" murmured the sergeant.

"Mind, then! Let these casks be fastened on to the horse, and let them
be escorted by two men and you to the residence of this gentleman, who
is my friend. But take care that nobody knows it."

"I would go by the marsh if I knew the road," said the sergeant.

"I know one myself," said Athos; "it is not wide, but it is solid,
having been made upon piles; and with care we shall get over safely
enough."

"Do everything this gentleman shall order you to do."

"Oh! oh! the casks are heavy," said the sergeant, trying to lift one.

"They weigh four hundred pounds each, if they contain what they ought to
contain, do they not, monsieur?"

"Thereabouts," said Athos.

The sergeant went in search of the two men and the horse. Monk, left
alone with Athos, affected to speak to him on nothing but indifferent
subjects while examining the vault in a cursory manner. Then, hearing
the horse's steps,--

"I leave you with your men, monsieur," said he, "and return to the camp.
You are perfectly safe."

"I shall see you again, then, my lord?" asked Athos.

"That is agreed upon, monsieur, and with much pleasure."

Monk held out his hand to Athos.

"Ah! my lord, if you would!" murmured Athos.

"Hush! monsieur, it is agreed that we shall speak no more of that." And
bowing to Athos, he went up the stairs, meeting about half-way his men,
who were coming down. He had not gone twenty paces, when a faint but
prolonged whistle was heard at a distance. Monk listened, but seeing
nothing and hearing nothing, he continued his route, Then he remembered
the fisherman, and looked about for him; but the fisherman had
disappeared. If he had, however, looked with more attention, he might
have seen that man, bent double, gliding like a serpent along the stones
and losing himself in the mist that floated over the surface of the
marsh. He might have equally seen, had he attempted to pierce that mist,
a spectacle that might have attracted his attention; and that was the
rigging of the vessel, which had changed place, and was now nearer the
shore. But Monk saw nothing; and thinking he had nothing to fear, he
entered the deserted causeway which led to his camp. It was then that
the disappearance of the fisherman appeared strange, and that a real
suspicion began to take possession of his mind. He had just placed at
the orders of Athos the only post that could protect him. He had a
mile of causeway to traverse before he could regain his camp. The fog
increased with such intensity that he could scarcely distinguish objects
at ten paces' distance. Monk then thought he heard the sound of an oar
over the marsh on the right. "Who goes there?" said he.

But nobody answered; then he cocked his pistol, took his sword in his
hand, and quickened his pace without, however, being willing to call
anybody. Such a summons, for which there was no absolute necessity,
appeared unworthy of him.



CHAPTER 27. The Next Day



It was seven o'clock in the morning, the first rays of day lightened the
pools of the marsh, in which the sun was reflected like a red ball, when
Athos, awaking and opening the window of his bed-chamber, which looked
out upon the banks of the river, perceived, at fifteen paces' distance
from him, the sergeant and the men who had accompanied him the evening
before, and who, after having deposited the casks at his house, had
returned to the camp by the causeway on the right.

Why had these men come back after having returned to the camp? That was
the question which first presented itself to Athos. The sergeant, with
his head raised, appeared to be watching the moment when the gentleman
should appear, to address him. Athos, surprised to see these men, whom
he had seen depart the night before, could not refrain from expressing
his astonishment to them.

"There is nothing surprising in that, monsieur," said the sergeant;
"for yesterday the general commanded me to watch over your safety, and I
thought it right to obey that order."

"Is the general at the camp?" asked Athos.

"No doubt he is, monsieur; as when he left you he was going back."

"Well, wait for me a moment; I am going thither to render an account of
the fidelity with which you fulfilled your duty, and to get my sword,
which I left upon the table in the tent."

"That happens very well," said the sergeant, "for we were about to
request you to do so."

Athos fancied he could detect an air of equivocal bonhomie upon the
countenance of the sergeant; but the adventure of the vault might have
excited the curiosity of the man, and it was not surprising that he
allowed some of the feelings which agitated his mind to appear in his
face. Athos closed the doors carefully, confiding the keys to Grimaud,
who had chosen his domicile beneath the shed itself, which led to the
cellar where the casks had been deposited. The sergeant escorted the
Comte de la Fere to the camp. There a fresh guard awaited him, and
relieved the four men who had conducted Athos.

This fresh guard was commanded by the aid-de-camp Digby, who, on their
way, fixed upon Athos looks so little encouraging, that the Frenchman
asked himself whence arose, with regard to him, this vigilance and this
severity, when the evening before he had been left perfectly free. He
nevertheless continued his way to the headquarters, keeping to himself
the observations which men and things forced him to make. He found in
the general's tent, to which he had been introduced the evening before,
three superior officers: these were Monk's lieutenant and two colonels.
Athos perceived his sword; it was still on the table where he left it.
Neither of the officers had seen Athos, consequently neither of them
knew him. Monk's lieutenant asked, at the appearance of Athos, if that
were the same gentleman with whom the General had left the tent.

"Yes, your honor," said the sergeant; "it is the same."

"But," said Athos haughtily, "I do not deny it, I think; and now,
gentlemen, in turn, permit me to ask you to what purpose these questions
are asked, and particularly some explanation upon the tone in which you
ask them?"

"Monsieur," said the lieutenant, "if we address these questions to
you, it is because we have a right to do so, and if we make them in a
particular tone, it is because that tone, believe me, agrees with the
circumstances."

"Gentlemen," said Athos, "you do not know who I am; but I must tell you
I acknowledge no one here but General Monk as my equal. Where is he? Let
me be conducted to him, and if he has any questions to put to me, I will
answer him and to his satisfaction, I hope. I repeat, gentlemen, where
is the general?"

"Eh! good God! you know better than we do where he is," said the
lieutenant.

"I?"

"Yes, you."

"Monsieur," said Athos, "I do not understand you."

"You will understand me--and, in the first place, do not speak so loud."

Athos smiled disdainfully.

"We don't ask you to smile," said one of the colonels warmly; "we
require you to answer."

"And I, gentlemen, declare to you that I will not reply until I am in
the presence of the general."

"But," replied the same colonel who had already spoken, "you know very
well that is impossible."

"This is the second time I have received this strange reply to the wish
I express," said Athos. "Is the general absent?"

This question was made with such apparent good faith, and the gentleman
wore an air of such natural surprise, that the three officers exchanged
a meaning look. The lieutenant, by a tacit convention with the other
two, was spokesman.

"Monsieur, the general left you last night on the borders of the
monastery."

"Yes, monsieur."

"And you went----"

"It is not for me to answer you, but for those who have accompanied me.
They were your soldiers, ask them."

"But if we please to question you?"

"Then it will please me to reply, monsieur, that I do not recognize any
one here, that I know no one here but the general, and that it is to him
alone I will reply."

"So be it, monsieur; but as we are the masters, we constitute ourselves
a council of war, and when you are before judges you must reply."

The countenance of Athos expressed nothing but astonishment and disdain,
instead of the terror the officers expected to read in it at this
threat.

"Scotch or English judges upon me, a subject of the king of France;
upon me, placed under the safeguard of British honor! You are mad,
gentlemen!" said Athos, shrugging his shoulders.

The officers looked at each other. "Then, monsieur," said one of them,
"do you pretend not to know where the general is?"

"To that, monsieur, I have already replied."

"Yes, but you have already replied an incredible thing."

"It is true, nevertheless, gentlemen. Men of my rank are not generally
liars. I am a gentleman, I have told you, and when I have at my side the
sword which, by an excess of delicacy, I left last night upon the table
whereon it still lies, believe me, no man says that to me which I am
unwilling to hear. I am at this moment disarmed; if you pretend to be my
judges, try me; if you are but my executioners, kill me."

"But, monsieur----" asked the lieutenant, in a more courteous voice,
struck with the lofty coolness of Athos.

"Sir, I came to speak confidentially with your general about affairs of
importance. It was not an ordinary welcome that he gave me. The accounts
your soldiers can give you may convince you of that. If, then, the
general received me in that manner, he knew my titles to his esteem.
Now, you do not suspect, I should think that I should reveal my secrets
to you, and still less his."

"But these casks, what do they contain?"

"Have you not put that question to your soldiers? What was their reply?"

"That they contained powder and ball."

"From whom had they that information? They must have told you that."

"From the general; but we are not dupes."

"Beware, gentlemen, it is not to me you are now giving the lie, it is to
your leader."

The officers again looked at each other. Athos continued: "Before your
soldiers the general told me to wait a week, and at the expiration of
that week he would give me the answer he had to make me. Have I fled
away? No, I wait."

"He told you to wait a week!" cried the lieutenant.

"He told me that so clearly, sir, that I have a sloop at the mouth of
the river, which I could with ease have joined yesterday, and embarked.
Now, if I have remained, it was only in compliance with the desire of
your general, his honor having requested me not to depart without a
last audience, which fixed at a week hence. I repeat to you, then, I am
waiting."

The lieutenant turned towards the other officers, and said, in a low
voice: "If this gentleman speaks truth, there may still be some hope.
The general may be carrying out some negotiations so secret, that he
thought it imprudent to inform even us. Then the time limited for his
absence would be a week." Then, turning towards Athos: "Monsieur," said
he, "your declaration is of the most serious importance; are you willing
to repeat it under the seal of an oath?"

"Sir," replied Athos, "I have always lived in a world where my simple
word was regarded as the most sacred of oaths."

"This time, however, monsieur, the circumstance is more grave than any
you may have been placed in. The safety of the whole army is at stake.
Reflect, the general has disappeared, and our search for him has been
vain. Is this disappearance natural? Has a crime been committed? Are we
not bound to carry our investigations to extremity? Have we any right to
wait with patience? At this moment, everything, monsieur, depends upon
the words you are about to pronounce."

"Thus questioned, gentlemen, I no longer hesitate," said Athos. "Yes,
I came hither to converse confidentially with General Monk, and ask
him for an answer regarding certain interests; yes, the general being,
doubtless, unable to pronounce before the expected battle, begged me
to remain a week in the house I inhabit, promising me that in a week I
should see him again. Yes, all this is true, and I swear it by the God
who is the absolute master of my life and yours." Athos pronounced these
words with so much grandeur and solemnity, that the three officers were
almost convinced. Nevertheless, one of the colonels made a last attempt.

"Monsieur," said he, "although we may be now persuaded of the truth of
what you say, there is yet a strange mystery in all this. The general is
too prudent a man to have thus abandoned his army on the eve of a battle
without having at least given notice of it to one of us. As for myself,
I cannot believe but that some strange event has been the cause of this
disappearance. Yesterday some foreign fishermen came to sell their fish
here; they were lodged yonder among the Scots; that is to say, on the
road the general took with this gentleman, to go to the abbey, and
to return from it. It was one of those fishermen that accompanied the
general with a light. And this morning, bark and fishermen have all
disappeared, carried away by the night's tide."

"For my part," said the lieutenant, "I see nothing in that that is not
quite natural, for these people were not prisoners."

"No, but I repeat it was one of them who lighted the general and this
gentleman to the abbey, and Digby assures us that the general had strong
suspicions concerning those people. Now, who can say whether these
people were not connected with this gentleman; and that, the blow
being struck, the gentleman, who is evidently brave, did not remain to
reassure us by his presence, and to prevent our researches being made in
a right direction?"

This speech made an impression upon the other two officers.

"Sir," said Athos, "permit me to tell you, that your reasoning, though
specious in appearance, nevertheless wants consistency, as regards me.
I have remained, you say, to divert suspicion. Well! on the contrary,
suspicions arise in me as well as in you; and I say, it is impossible,
gentlemen, that the general, on the eve of a battle, should leave his
army without saying anything to at least one of his officers. Yes, there
is some strange event connected with this; instead of being idle
and waiting, you must display all the activity and all the vigilance
possible. I am your prisoner, gentlemen, upon parole or otherwise. My
honor is concerned in ascertaining what has become of General Monk, and
to such a point, that if you were to say to me, 'Depart!' I should reply
'No, I will remain!' And if you were to ask my opinion, I should add:
'Yes, the general is the victim of some conspiracy, for, if he had
intended to leave the camp he would have told me so.' Seek then, search
the land, search the sea; the general has not gone of his own good
will."

The lieutenant made a sign to the other two officers.

"No, monsieur," said he, "no; in your turn you go too far. The general
has nothing to suffer from these events, and, no doubt, has directed
them. What Monk is now doing he has often done before. We are wrong in
alarming ourselves; his absence will, doubtless, be of short duration;
therefore, let us beware, lest by a pusillanimity which the general
would consider a crime, of making his absence public, and by that
means demoralize the army. The general gives a striking proof of his
confidence in us; let us show ourselves worthy of it. Gentlemen, let the
most profound silence cover all this with an impenetrable veil; we
will detain this gentleman, not from mistrust of him with regard to
the crime, but to assure more effectively the secret of the general's
absence by keeping among ourselves; therefore, until fresh orders, the
gentleman will remain at headquarters."

"Gentlemen," said Athos, "you forget that last night the general
confided to me a deposit over which I am bound to watch. Give me
whatever guard you like, chain me if you like, but leave me the house I
inhabit for my prison. The general, on his return, would reproach you, I
swear on the honor of a gentleman, for having displeased him in this."

"So be it, monsieur," said the lieutenant; "return to your abode."

Then they placed over Athos a guard of fifty men, who surrounded his
house, without losing sight of him for a minute.

The secret remained secure, but hours, days passed away without the
general's returning, or without anything being heard of him.



CHAPTER 28. Smuggling



Two days after the events we have just related, and while General Monk
was expected every minute in the camp to which he did not return, a
little Dutch felucca, manned by eleven men, cast anchor upon the coast
of Scheveningen, nearly within cannon-shot of the port. It was night,
the darkness was great, the tide rose in the darkness; it was a capital
time to land passengers and merchandise.

The road of Scheveningen forms a vast crescent; it is not very deep
and not very safe; therefore, nothing is seen stationed there but large
Flemish hoys, or some of those Dutch barks which fishermen draw up on
the sand on rollers, as the ancients did, according to Virgil. When the
tide is rising, and advancing on land, it is not prudent to bring the
vessels too close inshore, for, if the wind is fresh, the prows are
buried in the sand; and the sand of that coast is spongy; it receives
easily, but does not yield so well. It was on this account, no doubt,
that a boat was detached from the bark as soon as the latter had cast
anchor, and came with eight sailors, amidst whom was to be seen an
object of an oblong form, a sort of large pannier or bale.

The shore was deserted; the few fishermen inhabiting the down were gone
to bed. The only sentinel that guarded the coast (a coast very badly
guarded, seeing that a landing from large ships was impossible), without
having been able to follow the example of the fishermen, who were gone
to bed, imitated them so far, that he slept at the back of his watch-box
as soundly as they slept in their beds. The only noise to be heard,
then, was the whistling of the night breeze among the bushes and
the brambles of the downs. But the people who were approaching were
doubtless mistrustful people, for this real silence and apparent
solitude did not satisfy them. Their boat, therefore, scarcely as
visible as a dark speck upon the ocean, glided along noiselessly,
avoiding the use of their oars for fear of being heard, and gained the
nearest land.

Scarcely had it touched the ground when a single man jumped out of the
boat, after having given a brief order, in a manner which denoted the
habit of commanding. In consequence of this order, several muskets
immediately glittered in the feeble light reflected from that mirror of
the heavens, the sea; and the oblong bale of which we spoke, containing
no doubt some contraband object, was transported to land, with infinite
precautions. Immediately after that, the man who had landed first set
off at a rapid pace diagonally towards the village of Scheveningen,
directing his course to the nearest point of the wood. When there, he
sought for that house already described as the temporary residence--and
a very humble residence--of him who was styled by courtesy king of
England.

All were asleep there, as everywhere else, only a large dog, of the race
of those which the fishermen of Scheveningen harness to little carts
to carry fish to the Hague, began to bark formidably as soon as the
stranger's steps were audible beneath the windows. But the watchfulness,
instead of alarming the newly-landed man, appeared, on the contrary, to
give him great joy, for his voice might perhaps have proved insufficient
to rouse the people of the house, whilst, with an auxiliary of that
sort, his voice became almost useless. The stranger waited, then,
till these reiterated and sonorous barkings should, according to all
probability, have produced their effect, and then he ventured a summons.
On hearing his voice, the dog began to roar with such violence that
another voice was soon heard from the interior, quieting the dog. With
that the dog was quieted.

"What do you want?" asked that voice, at the same time weak, broken, and
civil.

"I want his majesty King Charles II., king of England," said the
stranger.

"What do you want with him?"

"I want to speak to him."

"Who are you?"

"Ah! Mordioux! you ask too much; I don't like talking through doors."

"Only tell me your name."

"I don't like to declare my name in the open air, either; besides, you
may be sure I shall not eat your dog, and I hope to God he will be as
reserved with respect to me."

"You bring news, perhaps, monsieur, do you not?" replied the voice,
patient and querulous as that of an old man.

"I will answer for it, I bring you news you little expect. Open the
door, then, if you please, hein!"

"Monsieur," persisted the old man, "do you believe, upon your soul and
conscience, that your news is worth waking the king?"

"For God's sake, my dear monsieur, draw your bolts; you will not be
sorry, I swear, for the trouble it will give you. I am worth my weight
in gold, parole d'honneur!"

"Monsieur, I cannot open the door till you have told me your name."

"Must I, then?"

"It is by the order of my master, monsieur."

"Well, my name is--but, I warn you, my name will tell you absolutely
nothing."

"Never mind, tell it, notwithstanding."

"Well, I am the Chevalier d'Artagnan."

The voice uttered an exclamation.

"Oh! good heavens!" said a voice on the other side of the door.
"Monsieur d'Artagnan. What happiness! I could not help thinking I knew
that voice."

"Humph!" said D'Artagnan. "My voice is known here! That's flattering."

"Oh! yes, we know it," said the old man, drawing the bolts; "and here is
the proof." And at these words he let in D'Artagnan, who, by the
light of the lantern he carried in his hand, recognized his obstinate
interlocutor.

"Ah! Mordioux!" cried he: "why, it is Parry! I ought to have known
that."

"Parry, yes, my dear Monsieur d'Artagnan, it is I. What joy to see you
once again!"

"You are right there, what joy!" said D'Artagnan, pressing the old man's
hand. "There, now you'll go and inform the king, will you not?"

"But the king is asleep, my dear monsieur."

"Mordioux! then wake him. He won't scold you for having disturbed him, I
will promise you."

"You come on the part of the count, do you not?"

"The Comte de la Fere?"

"From Athos?"

"Ma foi! no; I come on my own part. Come, Parry, quick! The king--I want
the king."

Parry did not think it his duty to resist any longer; he knew D'Artagnan
of old; he knew that, although a Gascon, his words never promised
more than they could stand to. He crossed a court and a little garden,
appeased the dog, that seemed most anxious to taste of the musketeer's
flesh, and went to knock at the window of a chamber forming the
ground-floor of a little pavilion. Immediately a little dog inhabiting
that chamber replied to the great dog inhabiting the court.

"Poor king!" said D'Artagnan to himself, "these are his body-guards. It
is true he is not the worse guarded on that account."

"What is wanted with me?" asked the king, from the back of the chamber.

"Sire, it is M. le Chevalier d'Artagnan, who brings you some news."

A noise was immediately heard in the chamber, a door was opened, and
a flood of light inundated the corridor and the garden. The king was
working by the light of a lamp. Papers were lying about upon his desk,
and he had commenced the foul copy of a letter which showed, by the
numerous erasures, the trouble he had had in writing it.

"Come in, monsieur le chevalier," said he, turning around. Then
perceiving the fisherman, "What do you mean, Parry? Where is M. le
Chevalier d'Artagnan?" asked Charles.

"He is before you, sire," said M. d'Artagnan.

"What, in that costume?"

"Yes; look at me, sire; do you not remember having seen me at Blois, in
the ante-chambers of King Louis XIV.?"

"Yes, monsieur, and I remember I was much pleased with you."

D'Artagnan bowed. "It was my duty to behave as I did, the moment I knew
that I had the honor of being near your majesty."

"You bring me news, do you say?"

"Yes, sire."

"From the king of France?"

"Ma foi! no, sire," replied D'Artagnan. "Your majesty must have seen
yonder that the king of France is only occupied with his own majesty."

Charles raised his eyes towards heaven.

"No, sire, no," continued D'Artagnan. "I bring news entirely composed
of personal facts. Nevertheless, I hope your majesty will listen to the
facts and news with some favor."

"Speak, monsieur."

"If I am not mistaken, sire, your majesty spoke a great deal, at Blois,
of the embarrassed state in which the affairs of England are."

Charles colored. "Monsieur," said he, "it was to the king of France I
related----"

"Oh! your majesty is mistaken," said the musketeer, coolly; "I know how
to speak to kings in misfortune. It is only when they are in misfortune
that they speak to me; once fortunate, they look upon me no more. I
have, then, for your majesty, not only the greatest respect, but, still
more, the most absolute devotion; and that, believe me, with me, sire,
means something. Now, hearing your majesty complain of fate, I found
that you were noble and generous, and bore misfortune well."

"In truth," said Charles, much astonished, "I do not know which I ought
to prefer, your freedoms or your respects."

"You will choose presently, sire," said D'Artagnan. "Then your
majesty complained to your brother, Louis XIV., of the difficulty you
experienced in returning to England and regaining your throne for want
of men and money."

Charles allowed a movement of impatience to escape him.

"And the principal object your majesty found in your way," continued
D'Artagnan, "was a certain general commanding the armies of the
parliament, and who was playing yonder the part of another Cromwell. Did
not your majesty say so?"

"Yes, but I repeat to you, monsieur, those words were for the king's
ears alone."

"And you will see, sire, that it is very fortunate that they fell into
those of his lieutenant of musketeers. That man so troublesome to
your majesty was one General Monk, I believe; did I not hear his name
correctly, sire?"

"Yes, monsieur, but once more, to what purpose are all these questions?"

"Oh! I know very well, sire, that etiquette will not allow kings to
be questioned. I hope, however, presently you will pardon my want of
etiquette. Your majesty added that, notwithstanding, if you could see
him, confer with him, and meet him face to face, you would triumph,
either by force or persuasion, over that obstacle--the only serious
one, the only insurmountable one, the only real one you met with on your
road."

"All that is true, monsieur: my destiny, my future, my obscurity, or my
glory depend upon that man; but what do you draw from that?"

"One thing alone, that if this General Monk is troublesome to the point
your majesty describes, it would be expedient to get rid of him or to
make an ally of him."

"Monsieur, a king who has neither army nor money, as you have heard my
conversation with my brother Louis, has no means of acting against a man
like Monk."

"Yes, sire, that was your opinion, I know very well; but, fortunately,
for you, it was not mine."

"What do you mean by that?"

"That, without an army and without a million, I have done--I,
myself--what your majesty thought could alone be done with an army and a
million."

"How! What do you say? What have you done?"

"What have I done? Eh! well, sire, I went yonder to take this man who is
so troublesome to your majesty."

"In England?"

"Exactly, sire."

"You went to take Monk in England?"

"Should I by chance have done wrong, sire?"

"In truth, you are mad, monsieur!"

"Not the least in the world, sire."

"You have taken Monk?"

"Yes, sire."

"Where?"

"In the midst of his camp."

The king trembled with impatience.

"And having taken him on the causeway of Newcastle, I bring him to your
majesty," said D'Artagnan, simply.

"You bring him to me!" cried the king, almost indignant at what he
considered a mystification.

"Yes, sire," replied D'Artagnan, the same tone, "I bring him to you;
he is down below yonder, in a large chest pierced with holes, so as to
allow him to breathe."

"Good God!"

"Oh! don't be uneasy, sire, we have taken the greatest possible care
of him. He comes in good state, and in perfect condition. Would your
majesty please to see him, to talk with him, or to have him thrown into
the sea?"

"Oh, heavens!" repeated Charles, "oh, heavens! do you speak the truth,
monsieur? Are you not insulting me with some unworthy joke? You have
accomplished this unheard-of act of audacity and genius--impossible!"

"Will your majesty permit me to open the window?" said D'Artagnan,
opening it.

The king had not time to reply, yes on no. D'Artagnan gave a shrill and
prolonged whistle, which he repeated three times through the silence of
the night.

"There!" said he, "he will be brought to your majesty."



CHAPTER 29. In which D'Artagnan begins to fear he has placed his Money
and that of Planchet in the Sinking Fund



The king could not overcome his surprise, and looked sometimes at the
smiling face of the musketeer, and sometimes at the dark window which
opened into the night. But before he had fixed his ideas, eight of
D'Artagnan's men, for two had remained to take care of the bark, brought
to the house, where Parry received him, that object of an oblong form,
which, for the moment inclosed the destinies of England. Before he left
Calais, D'Artagnan had had made in that city a sort of coffin, large and
deep enough for a man to turn in it at his ease. The bottom and sides,
properly upholstered, formed a bed sufficiently soft to prevent the
rolling of the ship turning this kind of cage into a rat-trap. The
little grating, of which D'Artagnan had spoken to the king, like the
visor of a helmet, was placed opposite to the man's face. It was so
constructed that, at the least cry, a sudden pressure would stifle that
cry, and, if necessary, him who had uttered that cry.

D'Artagnan was so well acquainted with his crew and his prisoner, that
during the whole voyage he had been in dread of two things: either that
the general would prefer death to this sort of imprisonment, and would
smother himself by endeavoring to speak, or that his guards would allow
themselves to be tempted by the offers of the prisoner, and put him,
D'Artagnan, into the box instead of Monk.

D'Artagnan, therefore, had passed the two days and the two nights of the
voyage close to the coffin, alone with the general, offering him wine
and food, which the latter had refused, and constantly endeavoring
to reassure him upon the destiny which awaited him at the end of this
singular captivity. Two pistols on the table and his naked sword made
D'Artagnan easy with regard to indiscretions from without.

When once at Scheveningen he had felt completely reassured. His men
greatly dreaded any conflict with the lords of the soil. He had,
besides, interested in his cause him who had morally served him as
lieutenant, and whom we have seen reply to the name of Menneville. The
latter, not being a vulgar spirit, had more to risk than the others,
because he had more conscience. He believed in a future in the service
of D'Artagnan, and consequently would have allowed himself to be cut to
pieces, rather than violate the order given by his leader. Thus it was
that, once landed, it was to him D'Artagnan had confided the care of
the chest and the general's breathing. It was he, too, he had ordered
to have the chest brought by the seven men as soon as he should hear the
triple whistle. We have seen that the lieutenant obeyed. The coffer
once in the house, D'Artagnan dismissed his men with a gracious smile,
saying, "Messieurs, you have rendered a great service to King
Charles II., who in less than six weeks will be king of England. Your
gratification will then be doubled. Return to the boat and wait for me."
Upon which they departed with such shouts of joy as terrified even the
dog himself.

D'Artagnan had caused the coffer to be brought as far as the king's
ante-chamber. He then, with great care, closed the door of this
ante-chamber, after which he opened the coffer, and said to the general:

"General, I have a thousand excuses to make to you; my manner of acting
has not been worthy of such a man as you, I know very well; but I wished
you to take me for the captain of a bark. And then England is a very
inconvenient country for transports. I hope, therefore, you will take
all that into consideration. But now, general, you are at liberty to get
up and walk." This said, he cut the bonds which fastened the arms and
hands of the general. The latter got up, and then sat down with the
countenance of a man who expects death. D'Artagnan opened the door
of Charles's study, and said, "Sire, here is your enemy, M. Monk; I
promised myself to perform this service for your majesty. It is done;
now order as you please. M. Monk," added he, turning towards the
prisoner, "you are in the presence of his majesty Charles II., sovereign
lord of Great Britain."

Monk raised towards the prince his coldly stoical look, and replied: "I
know no king of Great Britain; I recognize even here no one worthy of
bearing the name of gentleman: for it is in the name of King Charles
II. that an emissary, whom I took for an honest man, came and laid an
infamous snare for me. I have fallen into that snare; so much the worse
for me. Now, you the tempter," said he to the king, "you the executor,"
said he to D'Artagnan; "remember what I am about to say to you; you have
my body, you may kill it, and I advise you to do so, for you shall never
have my mind or my will. And now, ask me not a single word, as from this
moment I will not open my mouth even to cry out. I have said."

And he pronounced these words with the savage, invincible resolution
of the most mortified Puritan. D'Artagnan looked at his prisoner like
a man, who knows the value of every word, and who fixes that value
according to the accent with which it has been pronounced.

"The fact is," said he, in a whisper to the king, "the general is an
obstinate man; he would not take a mouthful of bread, nor swallow a drop
of wine, during the two days of our voyage. But as from this moment it
is your majesty who must decide his fate, I wash my hands of him."

Monk, erect, pale, and resigned, waited with his eyes fixed and his arms
folded. D'Artagnan turned towards him. "You will please to understand
perfectly," said he, "that your speech, otherwise very fine, does not
suit anybody, not even yourself. His majesty wished to speak to you, you
refused him an interview; why, now that you are face to face, that
you are here by a force independent of your will, why do you confine
yourself to rigors which I consider useless and absurd? Speak! what the
devil! speak, if only to say 'No.'"

Monk did not unclose his lips, Monk did not turn his eyes; Monk stroked
his mustache with a thoughtful air, which announced that matters were
going on badly.

During all this time Charles II. had fallen into a profound reverie. For
the first time he found himself face to face with Monk; with the man he
had so much desired to see; and, with that peculiar glance which God has
given to eagles and kings, he had fathomed the abyss of his heart. He
beheld Monk, then, resolved positively to die rather than speak, which
was not to be wondered at in so considerable a man, the wound in whose
mind must at the moment have been cruel. Charles II. formed, on the
instant, one of those resolutions upon which an ordinary man risks his
life, a general his fortune, and a king his kingdom. "Monsieur," said
he to Monk, "you are perfectly right upon certain points; I do not,
therefore, ask you to answer me, but to listen to me."

There was a moment's silence, during which the king looked at Monk, who
remained impassible.

"You have made me just now a painful reproach, monsieur," continued the
king; "you said that one of my emissaries had been to Newcastle to lay
a snare for you, and that, parenthetically, cannot be understood by M.
d'Artagnan, here, and to whom, before everything, I owe sincere thanks
for his generous, his heroic devotion."

D'Artagnan bowed with respect; Monk took no notice.

"For M. d'Artagnan--and observe, M. Monk, I do not say this to excuse
myself--for M. d'Artagnan," continued the king, "went to England of his
free will, without interest, without orders, without hope, like a true
gentleman as he is, to render a service to an unfortunate king, and to
add to the illustrious actions of an existence, already so well filled,
one glorious deed more."

D'Artagnan colored a little, and coughed to keep his countenance. Monk
did not stir.

"You do not believe what I tell you, M. Monk," continued the king. "I
can understand that,--such proofs of devotion are so rare, that their
reality may well be put in doubt."

"Monsieur would do wrong not to believe you, sire," cried D'Artagnan:
"for that which your majesty has said is the exact truth, and the truth
so exact that it seems, in going to fetch the general, I have done
something which sets everything wrong. In truth, if it be so, I am in
despair."

"Monsieur d'Artagnan," said the king, pressing the hand of the
musketeer, "you have obliged me as much as if you had promoted the
success of my cause, for you have revealed to me an unknown friend, to
whom I shall ever be grateful, and whom I shall always love." And the
king pressed his hand cordially. "And," continued he, bowing to Monk,
"an enemy whom I shall henceforth esteem at his proper value."

The eyes of the Puritan flashed, but only once, and his countenance, for
an instant, illuminated by that flash, resumed its somber impassibility.

"Then, Monsieur d'Artagnan," continued Charles, "this is what was about
to happen: M. le Comte de la Fere, whom you know, I believe, has set out
for Newcastle."

"What, Athos!" exclaimed D'Artagnan.

"Yes, that was his nom de guerre, I believe. The Comte de la Fere had
then set out for Newcastle, and was going, perhaps, to bring the
general to hold a conference with me or with those of my party, when you
violently, as it appears, interfered with the negotiation."

"Mordioux!" replied D'Artagnan, "he entered the camp the very evening in
which I succeeded in getting into it with my fishermen----"

An almost imperceptible frown on the brow of Monk told D'Artagnan that
he had surmised rightly.

"Yes, yes," muttered he; "I thought I knew his person; I even fancied I
knew his voice. Unlucky wretch that I am! Oh! sire, pardon me! I thought
I had so successfully steered my bark."

"There is nothing ill in it, sir," said the king, "except that the
general accuses me of having laid a snare for him, which is not the
case. No, general, those are not the arms which I contemplated employing
with you as you will soon see. In the meanwhile, when I give you my
word upon the honor of a gentleman, believe me, sir, believe me! Now,
Monsieur d'Artagnan, a word with you, if you please."

"I listen on my knees, sire."

"You are truly at my service, are you not?"

"Your majesty has seen I am, too much so."

"That is well; from a man like you one word suffices. In addition to
that word you bring actions. General, have the goodness to follow me.
Come with us, M. d'Artagnan."

D'Artagnan, considerably surprised, prepared to obey. Charles II. went
out, Monk followed him, D'Artagnan followed Monk. Charles took the path
by which D'Artagnan had come to his abode; the fresh sea breezes soon
caressed the faces of the three nocturnal travelers, and, at fifty paces
from the little gate which Charles opened, they found themselves upon
the down in the face of the ocean, which, having ceased to rise, reposed
upon the shore like a wearied monster. Charles II. walked pensively
along, his head hanging down and his hand beneath his cloak. Monk
followed him, with crossed arms and an uneasy look. D'Artagnan came
last, with his hand on the hilt of his sword.

"Where is the boat in which you came, gentlemen?" said Charles to the
musketeer.

"Yonder, sire, I have seven men and an officer waiting me in that little
bark which is lighted by a fire."

"Yes, I see; the boat is drawn upon the sand, but you certainly did not
come from Newcastle in that frail bark?"

"No, sire; I freighted a felucca, at my own expense, which is at anchor
within cannon-shot of the downs. It was in that felucca we made the
voyage."

"Sir," said the king to Monk, "you are free."

However firm of his will, Monk could not suppress an exclamation. The
king added an affirmative motion of his head, and continued: "We
shall waken a fisherman of the village, who will put his boat to sea
immediately, and will take you back to any place you may command him. M.
d'Artagnan here will escort your honor. I place M. d'Artagnan under the
safeguard of your loyalty, M. Monk."

Monk allowed a murmur of surprise to escape him, and D'Artagnan a
profound sigh. The king, without appearing to notice either, knocked
against the deal trellis which inclosed the cabin of the principal
fisherman inhabiting the down.

"Hey! Keyser!" cried he, "awake!"

"Who calls me?" asked the fisherman.

"I, Charles the king."

"Ah, my lord!" cried Keyser, rising ready dressed from the sail in which
he slept, as people sleep in a hammock. "What can I do to serve you?"

"Captain Keyser," said Charles, "you must set sail immediately. Here is
a traveler who wishes to freight your bark, and will pay you well; serve
him well." And the king drew back a few steps to allow Monk to speak to
the fisherman.

"I wish to cross over into England," said Monk, who spoke Dutch enough
to make himself understood.

"This minute," said the patron, "this very minute, if you wish it."

"But will that be long?" said Monk.

"Not half an hour, your honor. My eldest son is at this moment preparing
the boat, as we were going out fishing at three o'clock in the morning."

"Well, is all arranged?" asked the king, drawing near.

"All but the price," said the fisherman; "yes, sire."

"That is my affair," said Charles, "the gentleman is my friend."

Monk started and looked at Charles on hearing this word.

"Very well, my lord," replied Keyser. And at that moment they heard
Keyser's eldest son, signaling from the shore with the blast of a bull's
horn.

"Now, gentlemen," said the king, "depart."

"Sire," said D'Artagnan, "will it please your majesty to grant me a few
minutes? I have engaged men, and I am going without them; I must give
them notice."

"Whistle to them," said Charles, smiling.

D'Artagnan, accordingly, whistled, whilst the patron Keyser replied to
his son; and four men, led by Menneville, attended the first summons.

"Here is some money in account," said D'Artagnan, putting into their
hands a purse containing two thousand five hundred livres in gold. "Go
and wait for me at Calais, you know where." And D'Artagnan heaved a
profound sigh, as he let the purse fall into the hands of Menneville.

"What, are you leaving us?" cried the men.

"For a short time," said D'Artagnan, "or for a long time, who knows? But
with 2,500 livres, and the 2,500 you have already received, you are paid
according to our agreement. We are quits, then, my friend."

"But the boat?"

"Do not trouble yourself about that."

"Our things are on board the felucca."

"Go and seek them, and then set off immediately."

"Yes, captain."

D'Artagnan returned to Monk, saying,--"Monsieur, I await your
orders, for I understand we are to go together, unless my company be
disagreeable to you."

"On the contrary, monsieur," said Monk.

"Come, gentlemen, on board," cried Keyser's son.

Charles bowed to the general with grace and dignity, saying,--"You will
pardon me this unfortunate accident, and the violence to which you
have been subjected, when you are convinced that I was not the cause of
them."

Monk bowed profoundly without replying. On his side, Charles affected
not to say a word to D'Artagnan in private, but aloud,--"Once more,
thanks, monsieur le chevalier," said he, "thanks for your services. They
will be repaid you by the Lord God, who, I hope, reserves trials and
troubles for me alone."

Monk followed Keyser, and his son embarked with them. D'Artagnan came
after, muttering to himself,--"Poor Planchet! poor Planchet! I am very
much afraid we have made a bad speculation."



CHAPTER 30. The Shares of Planchet and Company rise again to Par



During the passage, Monk only spoke to D'Artagnan in cases of urgent
necessity. Thus, when the Frenchman hesitated to come and take his
meals, poor meals, composed of salt fish, biscuit, and Hollands gin,
Monk called him, saying,--"To table, monsieur, to table!"

This was all. D'Artagnan, from being himself on all great occasions
extremely concise, did not draw from the general's conciseness a
favorable augury of the result of his mission. Now, as D'Artagnan had
plenty of time for reflection, he battered his brains during this time
in endeavoring to find out how Athos had seen King Charles, how he had
conspired his departure with him, and lastly, how he had entered Monk's
camp; and the poor lieutenant of musketeers plucked a hair from his
mustache every time he reflected that the horseman who accompanied Monk
on the night of the famous abduction must have been Athos.

At length, after a passage of two nights and two days, the patron Keyser
touched at the point where Monk, who had given all the orders during the
voyage, had commanded they should land. It was exactly at the mouth of
the little river, near which Athos had chosen his abode.

Daylight was waning, a splendid sun, like a red steel buckler, was
plunging the lower extremity of its disc beneath the blue line of the
sea. The felucca was making fair way up the river, tolerably wide
in that part, but Monk, in his impatience, desired to be landed, and
Keyser's boat set him and D'Artagnan upon the muddy bank, amidst the
reeds. D'Artagnan, resigned to obedience, followed Monk exactly as a
chained bear follows his master; but the position humiliated him not
a little, and he grumbled to himself that the service of kings was a
bitter one, and that the best of them was good for nothing. Monk walked
with long and hasty strides; it might be thought that he did not yet
feel certain of having reached English land. They had already begun to
perceive distinctly a few of the cottages of the sailors and fishermen
spread over the little quay of this humble port, when, all at once,
D'Artagnan cried out,--"God pardon me, there is a house on fire!"

Monk raised his eyes, and perceived there was, in fact, a house which
the flames were beginning to devour. It had begun at a little shed
belonging to the house, the roof of which had caught. The fresh evening
breeze agitated the fire. The two travelers quickened their steps,
hearing loud cries, and seeing, as they drew nearer, soldiers with their
glittering arms pointing towards the house on fire. It was doubtless
this menacing occupation which had made them neglect to signal the
felucca. Monk stopped short for an instant, and, for the first time,
formulated his thoughts into words. "Eh! but," said he, "perhaps they
are not my soldiers, but Lambert's."

These words contained at once a sorrow, an apprehension, and a reproach
perfectly intelligible to D'Artagnan. In fact, during the general's
absence, Lambert might have given battle, conquered, and dispersed the
parliament's army, and taken with his own the place of Monk's army,
deprived of its strongest support. At this doubt, which passed from the
mind of Monk to his own, D'Artagnan reasoned in this manner: "One of two
things is going to happen; either Monk has spoken correctly, and there
are no longer any but Lambertists in the country--that is to say,
enemies, who would receive me wonderfully well, since it is to me they
owe their victory; or nothing is changed, and Monk, transported with joy
at finding his camp still in the same place, will not prove too severe
in his settlement with me." Whilst thinking thus, the two travelers
advanced, and began to mingle with a little knot of sailors, who looked
on with sorrow at the burning house, but did not dare to say anything on
account of the threats of the soldiers.

Monk addressed one of these sailors:--"What is going on here?" asked he.

"Sir," replied the man, not recognizing Monk as an officer, under
the thick cloak which enveloped him, "that house was inhabited by a
foreigner, and this foreigner became suspected by the soldiers. They
wanted to get into his house under pretense of taking him to the camp;
but he, without being frightened by their number, threatened death to
the first who should cross the threshold of his door, and as there was
one who did venture, the Frenchman stretched him on the earth with a
pistol-shot."

"Ah! he is a Frenchman, is he?" said D'Artagnan, rubbing his hands.
"Good!"

"How good?" replied the fisherman.

"No, I don't mean that.--What then--my tongue slipped."

"What then, sir--why, the other men became as enraged as so many lions:
they fired more than a hundred shots at the house; but the Frenchman was
sheltered by the wall, and every time they tried to enter by the door
they met with a shot from his lackey, whose aim is deadly, d'ye see?
Every time they threatened the window, they met with a pistol-shot from
the master. Look and count--there are seven men down.

"Ah! my brave countryman," cried D'Artagnan, "wait a little, wait a
little. I will be with you, and we will settle with this rabble."

"One instant, sir," said Monk, "wait."

"Long?"

"No; only the time to ask a question." Then, turning towards the
sailor, "My friend," asked he with an emotion which, in spite of all his
self-command, he could not conceal, "whose soldiers are these, pray tell
me?"

"Whose should they be but that madman, Monk's?"

"There has been no battle, then?"

"A battle, ah, yes! for what purpose? Lambert's army is melting away
like snow in April. All come to Monk, officers and soldiers. In a week
Lambert won't have fifty men left."

The fisherman was interrupted by a fresh discharge directed against the
house, and by another pistol-shot which replied to the discharge and
struck down the most daring of the aggressors. The rage of the soldiers
was at its height. The fire still continued to increase, and a crest
of flame and smoke whirled and spread over the roof of the house.
D'Artagnan could no longer contain himself. "Mordioux!" said he to Monk,
glancing at him sideways: "you are a general, and allow your men to burn
houses and assassinate people, while you look on and warm your hands at
the blaze of the conflagration? Mordioux! you are not a man."

"Patience, sir, patience!" said Monk, smiling.

"Patience! yes, until that brave gentleman is roasted--is that what you
mean?" And D'Artagnan rushed forward.

"Remain where you are, sir," said Monk, in a tone of command. And he
advanced towards the house, just as an officer had approached it, saying
to the besieged: "The house is burning, you will be roasted within an
hour! There is still time--come, tell us what you know of General Monk,
and we will spare your life. Reply, or by Saint Patrick----"

The besieged made no answer; he was no doubt reloading his pistol.

"A reinforcement is expected," continued the officer; "in a quarter of
an hour there will be a hundred men around your house."

"I reply to you," said the Frenchman. "Let your men be sent away; I will
come out freely and repair to the camp alone, or else I will be killed
here!"

"Mille tonnerres!" shouted D'Artagnan; "why that's the voice of Athos!
Ah, canailles!" and the sword of D'Artagnan flashed from its sheath.
Monk stopped him and advanced himself, exclaiming, in a sonorous voice:
"Hola! what is going on here? Digby, whence this fire? why these cries?"

"The general!" cried Digby, letting the point of his sword fall.

"The general!" repeated the soldiers.

"Well, what is there so astonishing in that?" said Monk, in a calm tone.
Then, silence being re-established--"Now," said he, "who lit this fire?"

The soldiers hung their heads.

"What! do I ask a question, and nobody answers me?" said Monk. "What!
do I find a fault, and nobody repairs it? The fire is still burning, I
believe."

Immediately the twenty men rushed forward, seizing pails, buckets, jars,
barrels, and extinguishing the fire with as much ardor as they had, an
instant before employed in promoting it. But already, and before all the
rest, D'Artagnan had applied a ladder to the house crying, "Athos! it
is I, D'Artagnan! Do not kill me my dearest friend!" And in a moment the
count was clasped in his arms.

In the meantime, Grimaud, preserving his calmness, dismantled the
fortification of the ground-floor, and after having opened the door,
stood with his arms folded quietly on the sill. Only, on hearing the
voice of D'Artagnan, he uttered an exclamation of surprise. The fire
being extinguished, the soldiers presented themselves, Digby at their
head.

"General," said he, "excuse us; what we have done was for love of your
honor, whom we thought lost."

"You are mad, gentlemen. Lost! Is a man like me to be lost? Am I not
permitted to be absent, according to my pleasure, without giving formal
notice? Do you, by chance, take me for a citizen from the city? Is
a gentleman, my friend, my guest, to be besieged, entrapped, and
threatened with death, because he is suspected? What signifies that
word, suspected? Curse me if I don't have every one of you shot like
dogs that the brave gentleman has left alive!"

"General," said Digby, piteously, "there were twenty-eight of us, and
see, there are eight on the ground."

"I authorize M. le Comte de la Fere to send the twenty to join the
eight," said Monk, stretching out his hand to Athos. "Let them return to
camp. Mr. Digby, you will consider yourself under arrest for a month."

"General----"

"That is to teach you, sir, not to act, another time, without orders."

"I had those of the lieutenant, general."

"The lieutenant has no such orders to give you, and he shall be placed
under arrest, instead of you, if he has really commanded you to burn
this gentleman."

"He did not command that, general; he commanded us to bring him to the
camp; but the count was not willing to follow us."

"I was not willing that they should enter and plunder my house," said
Athos to Monk, with a significant look.

"And you were quite right. To the camp, I say." The soldiers departed
with dejected looks. "Now we are alone," said Monk to Athos, "have the
goodness to tell me, monsieur, why you persisted in remaining here,
whilst you had your felucca----"

"I waited for you, general," said Athos. "Had not your honor appointed
to meet me in a week?"

An eloquent look from D'Artagnan made it clear to Monk that these two
men, so brave and so loyal, had not acted in concert for his abduction.
He knew already it could not be so.

"Monsieur," said he to D'Artagnan, "you were perfectly right. Have the
kindness to allow me a moment's conversation with M. le Comte de la
Fere?"

D'Artagnan took advantage of this to go and ask Grimaud how he was. Monk
requested Athos to conduct him to the chamber he lived in.

This chamber was still full of smoke and rubbish. More than fifty balls
had passed through the windows and mutilated the walls. They found a
table, inkstand, and materials for writing. Monk took up a pen, wrote
a single line, signed it, folded the paper, sealed the letter with
the seal of his ring, and handed over the missive to Athos, saying,
"Monsieur, carry, if you please, this letter to King Charles II., and
set out immediately, if nothing detains you here any longer."

"And the casks?" said Athos.

"The fisherman who brought me hither will assist you in transporting
them on board. Depart, if possible, within an hour."

"Yes, general," said Athos.

"Monsieur d'Artagnan!" cried Monk, from the window. D'Artagnan ran up
precipitately.

"Embrace your friend and bid him adieu, sir; he is returning to
Holland."

"To Holland!" cried D'Artagnan; "and I?"

"You are at liberty to follow him, monsieur, but I request you to
remain," said Monk. "Will you refuse me?"

"Oh, no, general; I am at your orders."

D'Artagnan embraced Athos, and only had time to bid him adieu. Monk
watched them both. Then he took upon himself the preparations for the
departure, the transportation of the casks on board, and the embarking
of Athos; then, taking D'Artagnan by the arm, who was quite amazed and
agitated, he led him towards Newcastle. Whilst going along, the
general leaning on his arm, D'Artagnan could not help murmuring to
himself,--"Come, come, it seems to me that the shares of the firm of
Planchet and Company are rising."



CHAPTER 31. Monk reveals himself



D'Artagnan, although he flattered himself with better success, had,
nevertheless, not too well comprehended his situation. It was a strange
and grave subject for him to reflect upon--this voyage of Athos into
England; this league of the king with Athos, and that extraordinary
combination of his design with that of the Comte de la Fere. The best
way was to let things follow their own train. An imprudence had been
committed, and, whilst having succeeded, as he had promised, D'Artagnan
found that he had gained no advantage by his success. Since everything
was lost, he could risk no more.

D'Artagnan followed Monk through his camp. The return of the general had
produced a marvelous effect, for his people had thought him lost. But
Monk, with his austere look and icy demeanor, appeared to ask of his
eager lieutenants and delighted soldiers the cause of all this joy.
Therefore, to the lieutenants who had come to meet him, and who
expressed the uneasiness with which they had learnt his departure,--

"Why is all this?" said he; "am I obliged to give you an account of
myself?"

"But, your honor, the sheep may well tremble without the shepherd."

"Tremble!" replied Monk, in his calm and powerful voice; "ah, monsieur,
what a word! Curse me, if my sheep have not both teeth and claws; I
renounce being their shepherd. Ah, you tremble, gentlemen, do you?"

"Yes, general, for you."

"Oh! pray meddle with your own concerns. If I have not the wit God gave
to Oliver Cromwell, I have that which He has sent to me: I am satisfied
with it, however little it may be."

The officer made no reply; and Monk, having imposed silence on his
people, all remained persuaded that he had accomplished some important
work or made some important trial. This was forming a very poor
conception of his patience and scrupulous genius. Monk, if he had the
good faith of the Puritans, his allies, must have returned fervent
thanks to the patron saint who had taken him from the box of M.
d'Artagnan. Whilst these things were going on, our musketeer could not
help constantly repeating,--

"God grant that M. Monk may not have as much pride as I have; for I
declare if any one had put me into a coffer with that grating over my
mouth, and carried me packed up, like a calf, across the seas, I should
cherish such a memory of my piteous looks in that coffer, and such an
ugly animosity against him who had inclosed me in it, I should dread so
greatly to see a sarcastic smile blooming upon the face of the malicious
wretch, or in his attitude any grotesque imitation of my position in the
box, that, Mordioux! I should plunge a good dagger into his throat in
compensation for the grating, and would nail him down in a veritable
bier, in remembrance of the false coffin in which I had been left to
grow moldy for two days."

And D'Artagnan spoke honestly when he spoke thus; for the skin of our
Gascon was a very thin one. Monk, fortunately, entertained other ideas.
He never opened his mouth to his timid conqueror concerning the past;
but he admitted him very near to his person in his labors, took him with
him to several reconnoiterings, in such a way as to obtain that which he
evidently warmly desired,--a rehabilitation in the mind of D'Artagnan.
The latter conducted himself like a past-master in the art of flattery:
he admired all Monk's tactics, and the ordering of his camp, he joked
very pleasantly upon the circumvallations of Lambert's camp, who had,
he said, very uselessly given himself the trouble to inclose a camp
for twenty thousand men, whilst an acre of ground would have been quite
sufficient for the corporal and fifty guards who would perhaps remain
faithful to him.

Monk, immediately after his arrival, had accepted the proposition
made by Lambert the evening before, for an interview, and which
Monk's lieutenants had refused under the pretext that the general was
indisposed. This interview was neither long nor interesting: Lambert
demanded a profession of faith from his rival. The latter declared he
had no other opinion than that of the majority. Lambert asked if it
would not be more expedient to terminate the quarrel by an alliance
than by a battle. Monk hereupon demanded a week for consideration. Now,
Lambert could not refuse this: and Lambert, nevertheless, had come,
saying that he should devour Monk's army. Therefore, at the end of the
interview, which Lambert's party watched with impatience, nothing was
decided--neither treaty nor battle--the rebel army, as M. d'Artagnan
had foreseen, began to prefer the good cause to the bad one, and the
parliament, rumpish as it was, to the pompous nothings of Lambert's
designs.

They remembered, likewise, the good feasts of London---the profusion of
ale and sherry with which the citizens of London paid their friends
the soldiers;--they looked with terror at the black war bread, at the
troubled waters of the Tweed,--too salt for the glass, not enough so for
the pot; and they said to themselves, "Are not the roast meats kept warm
for Monk in London?" From that time nothing was heard of but desertion
in Lambert's army. The soldiers allowed themselves to be drawn away by
the force of principles, which are, like discipline, the obligatory
tie in everybody constituted for any purpose. Monk defended the
parliament--Lambert attacked it. Monk had no more inclination to support
parliament than Lambert, but he had it inscribed on his standards, so
that all those of the contrary party were reduced to write upon theirs
"Rebellion," which sounded ill to puritan ears. They flocked, then, from
Lambert to Monk, as sinners flock from Baal to God.

Monk made his calculations, at a thousand desertions a day Lambert had
men enough to last twenty days; but there is in sinking things such a
growth of weight and swiftness, which combine with each other, that
a hundred left the first day, five hundred the second, a thousand the
third. Monk thought he had obtained his rate. But from one thousand the
deserters increased to two thousand, then to four thousand, and, a week
after, Lambert, perceiving that he had no longer the possibility of
accepting battle, if it were offered to him, took the wise resolution
of decamping during the night, returning to London, and being beforehand
with Monk in constructing a power with the wreck of the military party.

But Monk, free and without uneasiness, marched towards London as a
conqueror, augmenting his army with all the floating parties on his
way. He encamped at Barnet, that is to say, within four leagues of the
capital, cherished by the parliament, which thought it beheld in him a
protector, and awaited by the people, who were anxious to see him reveal
himself, that they might judge him. D'Artagnan himself had not been able
to fathom his tactics; he observed--he admired. Monk could not enter
London with a settled determination without bringing about civil war. He
temporized for a short time.

Suddenly, when least expected, Monk drove the military party out of
London, and installed himself in the city amidst the citizens, by order
of the parliament; then, at the moment when the citizens were crying out
against Monk--at the moment when the soldiers themselves were accusing
their leader--Monk, finding himself certain of a majority, declared to
the Rump Parliament that it must abdicate--be dissolved--and yield its
place to a government which would not be a joke. Monk pronounced this
declaration, supported by fifty thousand swords, to which, that same
evening, were united, with shouts of delirious joy, the five hundred
thousand inhabitants of the good city of London. At length, at the
moment when the people, after their triumphs and festive repasts in the
open streets, were looking about for a master, it was affirmed that a
vessel had left the Hague, bearing Charles II. and his fortunes.

"Gentlemen," said Monk to his officers, "I am going to meet the
legitimate king. He who loves me will follow me." A burst of
acclamations welcomed these words, which D'Artagnan did not hear without
the greatest delight.

"Mordioux!" said he to Monk, "that is bold, monsieur."

"You will accompany me, will you not?" said Monk.

"Pardieu! general. But tell me, I beg, what you wrote by Athos, that is
to say, the Comte de la Fere--you know--the day of our arrival?"

"I have no secrets from you now," replied Monk. "I wrote these words:
'Sire, I expect your majesty in six weeks at Dover.'"

"Ah!" said D'Artagnan, "I no longer say it is bold; I say it is well
played; it is a fine stroke!"

"You are something of a judge in such matters," replied Monk.

And this was the only time the general had ever made an allusion to his
voyage to Holland.



CHAPTER 32. Athos and D'Artagnan meet once more at the Hostelry of the
Corne du Cerf



The king of England made his entree into Dover with great pomp, as he
afterwards did in London. He had sent for his brothers; he had brought
over his mother and sister. England had been for so long a time given up
to herself--that is to say, to tyranny, mediocrity, and nonsense--that
this return of Charles II., whom the English only knew as the son of the
man whose head they had cut off, was a festival for the three
kingdoms. Consequently, all the good wishes, all the acclamations
which accompanied his return, struck the young king so forcibly that he
stooped and whispered in the ear of James of York, his younger brother,
"In truth, James, it seems to have been our own fault that we were so
long absent from a country where we are so much beloved!" The pageant
was magnificent. Beautiful weather favored the solemnity. Charles
had regained all his youth, all his good humor; he appeared to be
transfigured; hearts seemed to smile on him like the sun. Amongst this
noisy crowd of courtiers and worshippers, who did not appear to remember
they had conducted to the scaffold at Whitehall the father of the new
king, a man, in the garb of a lieutenant of musketeers, looked, with
a smile upon his thin, intellectual lips, sometimes at the people
vociferating their blessings, and sometimes at the prince, who pretended
emotion, and who bowed most particularly to the women, whose bouquets
fell beneath his horse's feet.

"What a fine trade is that of king!" said this man, so completely
absorbed in contemplation that he stopped in the middle of his road,
leaving the cortege to file past. "Now, there is, in good truth, a
prince all bespangled over with gold and diamonds, enamelled with
flowers like a spring meadow; he is about to plunge his empty hands
into the immense coffer in which his now faithful--but so lately
unfaithful--subjects have amassed one or two cartloads of ingots of
gold. They cast bouquets enough upon him to smother him; and yet, if he
had presented himself to them two months ago, they would have sent as
many bullets and balls at him as they now throw flowers. Decidedly it is
worth something to be born in a certain sphere, with due respect to the
lowly, who pretend that it is of very little advantage to them to be
born lowly." The cortege continued to file on, and, with the king, the
acclamations began to die away in the direction of the palace which,
however, did not prevent our officer from being pushed about.

"Mordioux!" continued the reasoner, "these people tread upon my toes and
look upon me as of very little consequence, or rather of none at all,
seeing that they are Englishmen and I am a Frenchman. If all these
people were asked,--'Who is M. d'Artagnan?' they would reply, 'Nescio
vos.' But let any one say to them, 'There is the king going by,' 'There
is M. Monk going by,' they would run away, shouting,--'Vive le roi!'
'Vive M. Monk!' till their lungs were exhausted. And yet," continued he,
surveying, with that look sometimes so keen and sometimes so proud, the
diminishing crowd,--"and yet, reflect a little, my good people, on what
your king has done, on what M. Monk has done, and then think what has
been done by this poor unknown, who is called M. d'Artagnan! It is true
you do not know him, since he is here unknown, and that prevents your
thinking about the matter! But, bah! what matters it! All that does not
prevent Charles II. from being a great king, although he has been exiled
twelve years, or M. Monk from being a great captain, although he did
make a voyage to Holland in a box. Well, then, since it is admitted that
one is a great king and the other a great captain,--'Hurrah for King
Charles II.!--Hurrah for General Monk!'" And his voice mingled with
the voices of the hundreds of spectators, over which it sounded for a
moment. Then, the better to play the devoted man, he took off his hat
and waved it in the air. Some one seized his arm in the very height of
his expansive royalism. (In 1660 that was so termed which we now call
royalism.)

"Athos!" cried D'Artagnan, "you here!" And the two friends seized each
other's hands.

"You here!--and being here," continued the musketeer, "you are not in
the midst of all these courtiers my dear comte! What! you, the hero of
the fete, you are not prancing on the left hand of the king, as M. Monk
is prancing on the right? In truth, I cannot comprehend your character,
nor that of the prince who owes you so much!"

"Always scornful, my dear D'Artagnan!" said Athos. "Will you never
correct yourself of that vile habit?"

"But, you do not form part of the pageant?"

"I do not, because I was not willing to do so."

"And why were you not willing?"

"Because I am neither envoy nor ambassador, nor representative of the
king of France; and it does not become me to exhibit myself thus near
the person of another king than the one God has given me for a master."

"Mordioux! you came very near to the person of the king, his father."

"That was another thing, my friend; he was about to die."

"And yet that which you did for him----"

"I did it because it was my duty to do it. But you know I hate all
ostentation. Let King Charles II., then, who no longer stands in need of
me, leave me to my rest, and in the shadow; that is all I claim of him."

D'Artagnan sighed.

"What is the matter with you?" said Athos. "One would say that this
happy return of the king to London saddens you, my friend; you who have
done at least as much for his majesty as I have."

"Have I not," replied D'Artagnan, with his Gascon laugh, "have I not
done much for his majesty, without any one suspecting it?"

"Yes, yes, but the king is well aware of it my friend," cried Athos.

"He is aware of it!" said the musketeer bitterly. "By my faith! I did
not suspect so, and I was even a moment ago trying to forget it myself."

"But he, my friend, will not forget it, I will answer for him."

"You tell me that to console me a little, Athos."

"For what?"

"Mordioux! for all the expense I incurred. I have ruined myself, my
friend, ruined myself for the restoration of this young prince who has
just passed, cantering on his isabelle colored horse."

"The king does not know you have ruined yourself, my friend, but he
knows he owes you much."

"And say, Athos, does that advance me in any respect? for, to do you
justice, you have labored nobly. But I--I, who in appearance marred
your combinations, it was I who really made them succeed. Follow my
calculations; closely, you might not have, by persuasions or mildness
convinced General Monk, whilst I so roughly treated this dear general,
that I furnished your prince with an opportunity of showing himself
generous: this generosity was inspired in him by the fact of my
fortunate mistake, and Charles is paid by the restoration which Monk has
brought about."

"All that, my dear friend, is strikingly true," replied Athos.

"Well, strikingly true as it may be, it is not less true, my friend,
that I shall return--greatly beloved by M. Monk, who calls me
dear captain all day long, although I am neither dear to him nor a
captain;--and much appreciated by the king, who has already forgotten my
name;--it is not less true, I say, that I shall return to my beautiful
country, cursed by the soldiers I had raised with the hopes of large
pay, cursed by the brave Planchet, of whom I borrowed a part of his
fortune."

"How is that? What the devil had Planchet to do in all this?"

"Ah, yes, my friend, but this king, so spruce, so smiling, so adored,
M. Monk fancies he has recalled him, you fancy you have supported him,
I fancy I have brought him back, the people fancy they have reconquered
him, he himself fancies he has negotiated his restoration; and yet
nothing of all this is true, for Charles II., king of England, Scotland,
and Ireland, has been replaced upon the throne by a French grocer,
who lives in the Rue des Lombards, and is named Planchet. And such is
grandeur! 'Vanity!' says the Scripture: 'vanity, all is vanity.'"

Athos could not help laughing at this whimsical outbreak of his friend.

"My dear D'Artagnan," said he, pressing his hand affectionately, "should
you not exercise a little more philosophy? Is it not some further
satisfaction to you to have saved my life as you did by arriving so
fortunately with Monk, when those damned parliamentarians wanted to burn
me alive?"

"Well, but you, in some degree, deserved a little burning, my friend."

"How so? What, for having saved King Charles's million?"

"What million?"

"Ah, that is true! you never knew that, my friend; but you must not be
angry, for it was not my secret. That word 'Remember' which the king
pronounced upon the scaffold."

"And which means 'souviens-toi!'"

"Exactly. That was signified. 'Remember there is a million buried in the
vaults of Newcastle Abbey, and that that million belongs to my son.'"

"Ah! very well, I understand. But what I understand likewise, and what
is very frightful, is, that every time his majesty Charles II. will
think of me, he will say to himself: 'There is the man who came very
near making me lose my crown. Fortunately I was generous, great, full of
presence of mind.' That will be said by the young gentleman in a shabby
black doublet, who came to the chateau of Blois, hat in hand, to ask me
if I would give him access to the king of France."

"D'Artagnan! D'Artagnan!" said Athos, laying his hand on the shoulder of
the musketeer, "you are unjust."

"I have a right to be so."

"No--for you are ignorant of the future."

D'Artagnan looked his friend full in the face, and began to laugh. "In
truth, my dear Athos," said he, "you have some sayings so superb, that
they only belong to you and M. le Cardinal Mazarin."

Athos frowned slightly.

"I beg your pardon," continued D'Artagnan, laughing, "I beg your pardon,
if I have offended you. The future! Nein! what pretty words are words
that promise, and how well they fill the mouth in default of other
things! Mordioux! After having met with so many who promised, when shall
I find one who will give? But, let that pass!" continued D'Artagnan.
"What are you doing here, my dear Athos? Are you the king's treasurer?"

"How--why the king's treasurer?"

"Well, since the king possesses a million, he must want a treasurer.
The king of France, although he is not worth a sou, has still a
superintendent of finance, M. Fouquet. It is true that, in exchange, M.
Fouquet, they say, has a good number of millions of his own."

"Oh! our million was spent long ago," said Athos, laughing in his turn.

"I understand, it was frittered away in satin, precious stones, velvet,
and feathers of all sorts and colors. All these princes and princesses
stood in great need of tailors and dressmakers. Eh! Athos, do you
remember what we fellows spent in equipping ourselves for the campaign
of La Rochelle, and to make our appearance on horseback? Two or three
thousand livres, by my faith! But a king's robe is more ample; it would
require a million to purchase the stuff. At least, Athos, if you are not
treasurer, you are on a good footing at court."

"By the faith of a gentleman, I know nothing about it," said Athos,
simply.

"What! you know nothing about it?"

"No! I have not seen the king since we left Dover."

"Then he has forgotten you, too! Mordioux! That is shameful!"

"His majesty has had so much business to transact."

"Oh!" cried D'Artagnan, with one of those intelligent grimaces which he
alone knew how to make, "that is enough to make me recover my love for
Monseigneur Giulio Mazarini. What, Athos the king has not seen you since
then?"

"No."

"And you are not furious?"

"I! Why should I be? Do you imagine, my dear D'Artagnan, that it was on
the king's account I acted as I have done? I did not know the young man.
I defended the father, who represented a principle--sacred in my eyes,
and I allowed myself to be drawn towards the son from sympathy for this
same principle. Besides, he was a worthy knight, a noble creature, that
father: do you remember him?"

"Yes; that is true; he was a brave, an excellent man, who led a sad
life, but made a fine end."

"Well, my dear D'Artagnan, understand this; to that king, to that man
of heart, to that friend of my thoughts, if I durst venture to say so,
I swore at the last hour to preserve faithfully the secret of a deposit
which was to be transmitted to his son, to assist him in his hour of
need. This young man came to me; he described his destitution; he was
ignorant that he was anything to me save a living memory of his father.
I have accomplished towards Charles II. what I promised Charles I.; that
is all! Of what consequence is it to me, then, whether he be grateful or
not? It is to myself I have rendered a service, by relieving myself of
this responsibility, and not to him."

"Well, I have always said," replied D'Artagnan, with a sigh, "that
disinterestedness was the finest thing in the world."

"Well, and you, my friend," resumed Athos, "are you not in the same
situation as myself? If I have properly understood your words, you
allowed yourself to be affected by the misfortunes of this young man;
that, on your part, was much greater than it was upon mine, for I had a
duty to fulfill, whilst you were under no obligation to the son of the
martyr. You had not, on your part, to pay him the price of that precious
drop of blood which he let fall upon my brow, through the floor of his
scaffold. That which made you act was heart alone--the noble and good
heart which you possess beneath your apparent skepticism and sarcastic
irony; you have engaged the fortune of a servitor, and your own, I
suspect, my benevolent miser! and your sacrifice is not acknowledged!
Of what consequence is it? You wish to repay Planchet his money. I can
comprehend that, my friend: for it is not becoming in a gentleman
to borrow from his inferior, without returning to him principal and
interest. Well, I will sell La Fere if necessary, and if not, some
little farm. You shall pay Planchet, and there will be enough, believe
me, of corn left in my granaries for us two and Raoul. In this way, my
friend, you will be under obligations to nobody but yourself, and, if
I know you well, it will not be a small satisfaction to your mind to be
able to say, 'I have made a king!' Am I right?"

"Athos! Athos!" murmured D'Artagnan, thoughtfully, "I have told you
more than once that the day on which you will preach I shall attend the
sermon; the day on which you will tell me there is a hell--Mordioux! I
shall be afraid of the gridiron and the pitchforks. You are better than
I, or rather, better than anybody, and I only acknowledge the possession
of one quality, and that is, of not being jealous. Except that defect,
damme, as the English say, if I have not all the rest."

"I know no one equal to D'Artagnan," replied Athos; "but here we
are, having quietly reached the house I inhabit. Will you come in, my
friend?"

"Eh! why, this is the tavern of the Corne du Cerf, I think," said
D'Artagnan.

"I confess I chose it on purpose. I like old acquaintances; I like to
sit down on that place, whereon I sank, overcome by fatigue, overwhelmed
with despair, when you returned on the 31st of January."

"After having discovered the abode of the masked executioner? Yes, that
was a terrible day!"

"Come in, then," said Athos, interrupting him.

They entered the large apartment, formerly the common one. The tavern,
in general, and this room in particular, had undergone great changes;
the ancient host of the musketeers, having become tolerably rich for an
innkeeper, had closed his shop, and made of this room of which we were
speaking, a store-room for colonial provisions. As for the rest of the
house, he let it ready furnished to strangers. It was with unspeakable
emotion D'Artagnan recognized all the furniture of the chamber of the
first story; the wainscoting, the tapestries, and even that geographical
chart which Porthos had so fondly studied in his moments of leisure.

"It is eleven years ago," cried D'Artagnan. "Mordioux! it appears to me
a century!"

"And to me but a day," said Athos. "Imagine the joy I experience, my
friend, in seeing you there, in pressing your hand, in casting from me
sword and dagger, and tasting without mistrust this glass of sherry.
And, oh! what still further joy it would be, if our two friends were
there, at the two corners of the tables, and Raoul, my beloved Raoul, on
the threshold, looking at us with his large eyes, at once so brilliant
and so soft!"

"Yes, yes," said D'Artagnan, much affected, "that is true. I approve
particularly of the first part of your thought; it is very pleasant to
smile there where we have so legitimately shuddered in thinking that
from one moment to another M. Mordaunt might appear upon the landing."

At this moment the door opened, and D'Artagnan, brave as he was, could
not restrain a slight movement of fright. Athos understood him, and,
smiling,--

"It is our host," said he, "bringing me a letter."

"Yes, my lord," said the good man; "here is a letter for your honor."

"Thank you," said Athos, taking the letter without looking at it. "Tell
me, my dear host, if you do not remember this gentleman?"

The old man raised his head, and looked attentively at D'Artagnan.

"No," said he.

"It is," said Athos, "one of those friends of whom I have spoken to you,
and who lodged here with me eleven years ago."

"Oh! but," said the old man, "so many strangers have lodged here!"

"But we lodged here on the 30th of January, 1649," added Athos,
believing he should stimulate the lazy memory of the host by this
remark.

"That is very possible," replied he, smiling; "but it is so long ago!"
and he bowed, and went out.

"Thank you," said D'Artagnan--"perform exploits, accomplish revolutions,
endeavor to engrave your name in stone or bronze with strong swords!
there is something more rebellious, more hard, more forgetful than iron,
bronze, or stone, and that is, the brain of a lodging-house keeper who
has grown rich in the trade,--he does not know me! Well, I should have
known him, though."

Athos, smiling at his friend's philosophy, unsealed his letter.

"Ah!" said he, "a letter from Parry."

"Oh! oh!" said D'Artagnan; "read it, my friend, read it! No doubt it
contains news."

Athos shook his head, and read:



Monsieur le Comte.--The king has experienced much regret at not seeing
you to-day beside him, at his entrance. His majesty commands me to say
so, and to recall him to your memory. His majesty will expect you this
evening, at the palace of St. James, between nine and ten o'clock.

"I am, respectfully, monsieur le comte, your honor's very humble and
very obedient servant,--Parry."



"You see, my dear D'Artagnan," said Athos, "we must not despair of the
hearts of kings."

"Not despair! you are right to say so!" replied D'Artagnan.

"Oh! my dear, very dear friend," resumed Athos, whom the almost
imperceptible bitterness of D'Artagnan had not escaped. "Pardon me! can
I have unintentionally wounded my best comrade?"

"You are mad, Athos, and to prove it, I shall conduct you to the palace;
to the very gate, I mean; the walk will do me good."

"You shall go in with me, my friend; I will speak to his majesty."

"No, no!" replied D'Artagnan, with true pride, free from all mixture;
"if there is anything worse than begging yourself, it is making others
beg for you. Come, let us go, my friend, the walk will be charming; on
the way I shall show you the house of M. Monk, who has detained me
with him. A beautiful house, by my faith. Being a general in England is
better than being a marechal in France, please to know."

Athos allowed himself to be led along, quite saddened by D'Artagnan's
forced attempts at gayety. The whole city was in a state of joy; the two
friends were jostled at every moment by enthusiasts who required them,
in their intoxication, to cry out, "Long live good King Charles!"
D'Artagnan replied by a grunt, and Athos by a smile. They arrived thus
in front of Monk's house, before which, as we have said, they had to
pass on their way to St. James's.

Athos and D'Artagnan said but little on the road, for the simple reason
that they would have had so many things to talk about if they had
spoken. Athos thought that by speaking he should evince satisfaction,
and that might wound D'Artagnan. The latter feared that in speaking he
should allow some little bitterness to steal into his words which would
render his company unpleasant to his friend. It was a singular emulation
of silence between contentment and ill-humor. D'Artagnan gave way
first to that itching at the tip of his tongue which he so habitually
experienced.

"Do you remember, Athos," said he, "the passage of the 'Memoires de
D'Aubigny,' in which that devoted servant, a Gascon like myself, poor as
myself, and, I was going to add, brave as myself, relates instances of
the meanness of Henry IV.? My father always told me, I remember, that
D'Aubigny was a liar. But, nevertheless, examine how all the princes,
the issue of the great Henry, keep up the character of the race."

"Nonsense!" said Athos, "the kings of France misers? You are mad, my
friend."

"Oh! you are so perfect yourself, you never agree to the faults of
others. But, in reality, Henry IV. was covetous, Louis XIII., his son,
was so likewise; we know something of that, don't we? Gaston carried
this vice to exaggeration, and has made himself, in this respect,
hated by all who surround him. Henriette, poor woman, might well be
avaricious, she who did not eat every day, and could not warm herself
every winter; and that is an example she has given to her son Charles
II., grandson of the great Henry IV., who is as covetous as his mother
and his grandfather. See if I have well traced the genealogy of the
misers?"

"D'Artagnan, my friend," cried Athos, "you are very rude towards that
eagle race called the Bourbons."

"Eh! and I have forgotten the best instance of all--the other grandson
of the Bearnais, Louis XIV., my ex-master. Well, I hope he is miserly
enough, he who would not lend a million to his brother Charles! Good! I
see you are beginning to be angry. Here we are, by good luck, close to
my house, or rather to that of my friend, M. Monk."

"My dear D'Artagnan, you do not make me angry, you make me sad; it is
cruel, in fact, to see a man of your deserts out of the position his
services ought to have acquired; it appears to me, my dear friend, that
your name is as radiant as the greatest names in war and diplomacy. Tell
me if the Luynes, the Ballegardes, and the Bassompierres have merited,
as we have, fortunes and honors? You are right, my friend, a hundred
times right."

D'Artagnan sighed, and preceded his friend under the porch of the
mansion Monk inhabited, at the extremity of the city. "Permit me,"
said he, "to leave my purse at home; for if in the crowd those clever
pickpockets of London, who are much boasted of, even in Paris, were to
steal from me the remainder of my poor crowns, I should not be able to
return to France. Now, content I left France, and wild with joy I should
return to it, seeing that all my prejudices of former days against
England have returned, accompanied by many others."

Athos made no reply.

"So then, my dear friend, one second, and I will follow you," said
D'Artagnan. "I know you are in a hurry to go yonder to receive your
reward, but, believe me, I am not less eager to partake of your joy,
although from a distance. Wait for me." And D'Artagnan was already
passing through the vestibule, when a man, half servant, half soldier,
who filled in Monk's establishment the double functions of porter and
guard, stopped our musketeer, saying to him in English:

"I beg your pardon, my Lord d'Artagnan!"

"Well," replied the latter: "what is it? Is the general going to dismiss
me? I only needed to be expelled by him."

These words, spoken in French, made no impression upon the person to
whom they were addressed and who himself only spoke an English mixed
with the rudest Scotch. But Athos was grieved at them, for he began to
think D'Artagnan was not wrong.

The Englishman showed D'Artagnan a letter: "From the general," said he.

"Aye! that's it, my dismissal!" replied the Gascon. "Must I read it,
Athos?"

"You must be deceived," said Athos, "or I know no more honest people in
the world but you and myself."

D'Artagnan shrugged his shoulders and unsealed the letter, while the
impassible Englishman held for him a large lantern, by the light of
which he was enabled to read it.

"Well, what is the matter?" said Athos, seeing the countenance of the
reader change.

"Read it yourself," said the musketeer.

Athos took the paper and read:


"Monsieur d'Artagnan.--The king regrets very much you did not come to St.
Paul's with his cortege. He missed you, as I also have missed you, my
dear captain. There is but one means of repairing all this. His majesty
expects me at nine o'clock at the palace of St. James's: will you be
there at the same time with me? His gracious majesty appoints that hour
for an audience he grants you."


This letter was from Monk.



CHAPTER 33. The Audience.



"Well?" cried Athos with a mild look of reproach when D'Artagnan had
read the letter addressed to him by Monk.

"Well!" said D'Artagnan, red with pleasure, and a little with shame,
at having so hastily accused the king and Monk. "This is a
politeness,--which leads to nothing, it is true, but yet it is a
politeness."

"I had great difficulty in believing the young prince ungrateful," said
Athos.

"The fact is, that his present is still too near his past," replied
D'Artagnan; "after all, everything to the present moment proved me
right."

"I acknowledge it, my dear friend, I acknowledge it. Ah! there is your
cheerful look returned. You cannot think how delighted I am."

"Thus you see," said D'Artagnan, "Charles II. receives M. Monk at nine
o'clock; he will receive me at ten; it is a grand audience, of the sort
which at the Louvre are called 'distributions of court holy water.'
Come, let us go and place ourselves under the spout, my dear friend!
Come along."

Athos replied nothing; and both directed their steps, at a quick pace,
towards the palace of St. James's, which the crowd still surrounded,
to catch, through the windows, the shadows of the courtiers, and the
reflection of the royal person. Eight o'clock was striking when the
two friends took their places in the gallery filled with courtiers and
politicians. Every one looked at these simply-dressed men in foreign
costumes, at these two noble heads so full of character and meaning.
On their side, Athos and D'Artagnan, having with two glances taken the
measure of the whole assembly, resumed their chat.

A great noise was suddenly heard at the extremity of the gallery,--it
was General Monk, who entered, followed by more than twenty officers,
all eager for a smile, as only the evening before he was master of all
England, and a glorious morrow was looked to, for the restorer of the
Stuart family.

"Gentlemen," said Monk, turning round, "henceforward I beg you to
remember that I am no longer anything. Lately I commanded the principal
army of the republic; now that army is the king's, into whose hands I am
about to surrender, at his command, my power of yesterday."

Great surprise was painted on all the countenances, and the circle of
adulators and suppliants which surrounded Monk an instant before, was
enlarged by degrees, and ended by being lost in the large undulations
of the crowd. Monk was going into the ante-chamber as others did.
D'Artagnan could not help remarking this to the Comte de la Fere,
who frowned on beholding it. Suddenly the door of the royal apartment
opened, and the young king appeared, preceded by two officers of his
household.

"Good evening, gentlemen," said he. "Is General Monk here?"

"I am here, sire," replied the old general.

Charles stepped hastily towards him, and seized his hand with the
warmest demonstration of friendship. "General," said the king, aloud,
"I have just signed your patent,--you are Duke of Albemarle; and my
intention is that no one shall equal you in power and fortune in this
kingdom, where--the noble Montrose excepted--no one has equaled you in
loyalty, courage, and talent. Gentlemen, the duke is commander of our
armies of land and sea; pay him your respects, if you please, in that
character."

Whilst every one was pressing round the general, who received all this
homage without losing his impassibility for an instant, D'Artagnan said
to Athos: "When one thinks that this duchy, this commander of the land
and sea forces, all these grandeurs, in a word, have been shut up in a
box six feet long and three feet wide----"

"My friend," replied Athos, "much more imposing grandeurs are confined
in boxes still smaller,--and remain there forever."

All at once Monk perceived the two gentlemen, who held themselves aside
until the crowd had diminished; he made himself a passage towards
them, so that he surprised them in the midst of their philosophical
reflections. "Were you speaking of me?" said he, with a smile.

"My lord," replied Athos, "we were speaking likewise of God."

Monk reflected for a moment, and then replied gayly: "Gentlemen, let
us speak a little of the king likewise, if you please; for you have, I
believe, an audience of his majesty."

"At nine o'clock," said Athos.

"At ten o'clock," said D'Artagnan.

"Let us go into this closet at once," replied Monk, making a sign to his
two companions to precede him; but to that neither would consent.

The king, during this discussion so characteristic of the French, had
returned to the center of the gallery.

"Oh! my Frenchmen!" said he, in that tone of careless gayety which,
in spite of so much grief and so many crosses, he had never lost. "My
Frenchmen! my consolation!" Athos and D'Artagnan bowed.

"Duke, conduct these gentlemen into my study. I am at your service,
messieurs," added he in French. And he promptly expedited his court, to
return to his Frenchmen, as he called them. "Monsieur d'Artagnan," said
he, as he entered his closet, "I am glad to see you again."

"Sire, my joy is at its height, at having the honor to salute your
majesty in your own palace of St. James's."

"Monsieur, you have been willing to render me a great service, and I owe
you my gratitude for it. If I did not fear to intrude upon the rights of
our commanding general, I would offer you some post worthy of you near
our person."

"Sire," replied D'Artagnan, "I have quitted the service of the king of
France, making a promise to my prince not to serve any other king."

"Humph!" said Charles, "I am sorry to hear that; I should like to do
much for you; I like you very much."

"Sire----"

"But let us see," said Charles with a smile, "if we cannot make you
break your word. Duke, assist me. If you were offered, that is to say,
if I offered you the chief command of my musketeers?" D'Artagnan bowed
lower than before.

"I should have the regret to refuse what your gracious majesty would
offer me," said he; "a gentleman has but his word, and that word, as
I have had the honor to tell your majesty, is engaged to the king of
France."

"We shall say no more about it, then," said the king, turning
towards Athos, and leaving D'Artagnan plunged in the deepest pangs of
disappointment.

"Ah! I said so!" muttered the musketeer. "Words! words! Court holy
water! Kings have always a marvellous talent for offering us that which
they know we will not accept, and in appearing generous without risk. So
be it!--triple fool that I was to have hoped for a moment!"

During this time Charles took the hand of Athos. "Comte," said he, "you
have been to me a second father; the services you have rendered me are
above all price. I have, nevertheless, thought of a recompense. You were
created by my father a Knight of the Garter---that is an order which all
the kings of Europe cannot bear; by the queen regent, Knight of the Holy
Ghost--which is an order not less illustrious; I join to it that of the
Golden Fleece sent me by the king of France, to whom the king of Spain,
his father-in-law, gave two on the occasion of his marriage; but in
return, I have a service to ask of you."

"Sire," said Athos, with confusion, "the Golden Fleece for me! when
the king of France is the only person in my country who enjoys that
distinction?"

"I wish you to be in your country and all others the equal of all those
whom sovereigns have honored with their favor," said Charles, drawing
the chain from his neck; "and I am sure, comte, my father smiles on me
from his grave."

"It is unaccountably strange," said D'Artagnan to himself, whilst
his friend, on his knees, received the eminent order which the king
conferred on him--"it is almost incredible that I have always seen
showers of prosperity fall upon all who surrounded me, and that not a
drop ever reached me! If I were a jealous man it would be enough to make
one tear one's hair, parole d'honneur!"

Athos rose from his knees, and Charles embraced him tenderly. "General!"
said he to Monk--then stopping with a smile, "pardon me, duke, I mean.
No wonder if I make a mistake; the word duke is too short for me, I
always seek some title to lengthen it. I should wish to see you so near
my throne, that I might say to you as to Louis XIV., my brother! Oh! I
have it, and you will be almost my brother, for I make you viceroy
of Ireland and of Scotland, my dear duke. So, after that fashion,
henceforward I shall not make a mistake."

The duke seized the hand of the king, but without enthusiasm, without
joy, as he did everything. His heart, however, had been moved by this
last favor. Charles, by skillfully husbanding his generosity, had given
the duke time to wish, although he might not have wished for so much as
was given him.

"Mordioux!" grumbled D'Artagnan, "there is the shower beginning again!
Oh! it is enough to turn one's brain!" and he turned away with an air so
sorrowful and so comically piteous, that the king, who caught it, could
not restrain a smile. Monk was preparing to leave the room, to take
leave of Charles.

"What! my trusty and well-beloved!" said the king to the duke, "are you
going?"

"With your majesty's permission, for in truth I am weary. The emotions
of the day have worn me out; I stand in need of rest."

"But," said the king, "you are not going without M. d'Artagnan, I hope."

"Why not, sire?" said the old warrior.

"Well! you know very well why," said the king.

Monk looked at Charles with astonishment.

"Oh! it may be possible; but if you forget, you, M. d'Artagnan, do not."

Astonishment was painted on the face of the musketeer.

"Well, then, duke," said the king, "do you not lodge with M.
d'Artagnan?"

"I had the honor of offering M. d'Artagnan a lodging; yes, sire."

"That idea is your own, and yours solely?"

"Mine and mine only; yes, sire."

"Well! but it could not be otherwise--the prisoner always lodges with
his conqueror."

Monk colored in his turn. "Ah! that is true," said he, "I am M.
d'Artagnan's prisoner."

"Without doubt, duke, since you are not yet ransomed, but have no care
of that; it was I who took you out of M. d'Artagnan's hands, and it is I
who will pay your ransom."

The eyes of D'Artagnan regained their gayety and their brilliancy. The
Gascon began to understand. Charles advanced towards him.

"The general," said he, "is not rich, and cannot pay you what he is
worth. I am richer, certainly, but now that he is a duke, and if not a
king, almost a king, he is worth a sum I could not perhaps pay. Come, M.
d'Artagnan, be moderate with me; how much do I owe you?"

D'Artagnan, delighted at the turn things were taking, but not for a
moment losing his self-possession, replied,--"Sire, your majesty has no
occasion to be alarmed. When I had the good fortune to take his grace,
M. Monk was only a general; it is therefore only a general's ransom that
is due to me. But if the general will have the kindness to deliver me
his sword, I shall consider myself paid; for there is nothing in the
world but the general's sword which is worth so much as himself."

"Odds fish! as my father said," cried Charles. "That is a gallant
proposal, and a gallant man, is he not, duke?"

"Upon my honor, yes, sire," and he drew his sword. "Monsieur," said he
to D'Artagnan, "here is what you demand. Many may have handled a better
blade; but however modest mine may be, I have never surrendered it to
any one."

D'Artagnan received with pride the sword which had just made a king.

"Oh! oh!" cried Charles II.; "what, a sword that has restored me to my
throne--to go out of the kingdom--and not, one day, to figure among the
crown jewels. No, on my soul! that shall not be! Captain d'Artagnan, I
will give you two hundred thousand crowns for your sword! If that is too
little, say so."

"It is too little, sire," replied D'Artagnan, with inimitable
seriousness. "In the first place, I do not at all wish to sell it; but
your majesty desires me to do so, and that is an order. I obey, then,
but the respect I owe to the illustrious warrior who hears me commands
me to estimate at a third more the reward of my victory. I ask then
three hundred thousand crowns for the sword, or I shall give it to your
majesty for nothing." And taking it by the point he presented it to the
king. Charles broke into hilarious laughter.

"A gallant man, and a merry companion! Odds fish! is he not, duke? is he
not, comte? He pleases me! I like him! Here, Chevalier d'Artagnan, take
this." And going to the table, he took a pen and wrote an order upon his
treasurer for three hundred thousand crowns.

D'Artagnan took it, and turning gravely towards Monk: "I have still
asked too little, I know," said he, "but believe me, your grace, I would
rather have died than allow myself to be governed by avarice."

The king began to laugh again, like the happiest cockney of his kingdom.

"You will come and see me again before you go, chevalier?" said he; "I
shall want to lay in a stock of gayety now my Frenchmen are leaving me."

"Ah! sire, it will not be with the gayety as with the duke's sword; I
will give it to your majesty gratis," replied D'Artagnan, whose feet
scarcely seemed to touch the ground.

"And you, comte," added Charles, turning towards Athos, "come again,
also, I have an important message to confide to you. Your hand, duke."
Monk pressed the hand of the king.

"Adieu! gentlemen," said Charles, holding out each of his hands to the
two Frenchmen, who carried them to their lips.

"Well," said Athos, when they were out of the palace, "are you
satisfied?"

"Hush!" said D'Artagnan, wild with joy, "I have not yet returned from
the treasurer's--a shutter may fall upon my head."



CHAPTER 34. Of the Embarrassment of Riches



D'Artagnan lost no time, and as soon as the thing was suitable and
opportune, he paid a visit to the lord treasurer of his majesty. He had
then the satisfaction to exchange a piece of paper, covered with very
ugly writing, for a prodigious number of crowns, recently stamped with
the effigies of his very gracious majesty Charles II.

D'Artagnan easily controlled himself: and yet, on this occasion, he
could not help evincing a joy which the reader will perhaps comprehend,
if he deigns to have some indulgence for a man who, since his birth, had
never seen so many pieces and rolls of pieces juxtaplaced in an order
truly agreeable to the eye. The treasurer placed all the rolls in bags,
and closed each bag with a stamp sealed with the arms of England, a
favor which treasurers do not grant to everybody. Then impassible,
and just as polite as he ought to be towards a man honored with the
friendship of the king, he said to D'Artagnan:

"Take away your money, sir." Your money! These words made a thousand
chords vibrate in the heart of D'Artagnan, which he had never felt
before. He had the bags packed in a small cart, and returned home
meditating deeply. A man who possesses three hundred thousand crowns
can no longer expect to wear a smooth brow; a wrinkle for every hundred
thousand livres is not too much.

D'Artagnan shut himself up, ate no dinner, closed his door to everybody,
and, with a lighted lamp, and a loaded pistol on the table, he watched
all night, ruminating upon the means of preventing these lovely crowns,
which from the coffers of the king had passed into his coffers, from
passing from his coffers into the pockets of any thief whatever. The
best means discovered by the Gascon was to inclose his treasure, for
the present, under locks so solid that no wrist could break them, and
so complicated that no master-key could open them. D'Artagnan remembered
that the English are masters in mechanics and conservative industry;
and he determined to go in the morning in search of a mechanic who would
sell him a strong box. He did not go far; Master Will Jobson, dwelling
in Piccadilly, listened to his propositions, comprehended his wishes,
and promised to make him a safety lock that should relieve him from all
future fear.

"I will give you," said he, "a piece of mechanism entirely new. At the
first serious attempt upon your lock, an invisible plate will open
of itself and vomit forth a pretty copper bullet of the weight of a
mark--which will knock down the intruder, and not without a loud report.
What do you think of it?"

"I think it very ingenious," cried D'Artagnan, "the little copper bullet
pleases me mightily. So now, sir mechanic, the terms?"

"A fortnight for the execution, and fifteen hundred crowns payable on
delivery," replied the artisan.

D'Artagnan's brow darkened. A fortnight was delay enough to allow the
thieves of London time to remove all occasion for the strong box. As
to the fifteen hundred crowns--that would be paying too dear for what a
little vigilance would procure him for nothing.

"I will think of it," said he, "thank you, sir." And he returned home
at full speed; nobody had yet touched his treasure. That same day Athos
paid a visit to his friend and found him so thoughtful that he could not
help expressing his surprise.

"How is this?" said he, "you are rich and not gay--you, who were so
anxious for wealth!"

"My friend, the pleasures to which we are not accustomed oppress us more
than the griefs with which we are familiar. Give me your opinion, if you
please. I can ask you, who have always had money: when we have money,
what do we do with it?"

"That depends."

"What have you done with yours, seeing that it has not made you a miser
or a prodigal? For avarice dries up the heart, and prodigality drowns
it--is not that so?"

"Fabricius could not have spoken more justly. But in truth, my money has
never been a burden to me."

"How so? Do you place it out at interest?"

"No; you know I have a tolerably handsome house; and that house composes
the better part of my property."

"I know it does."

"So that you can be as rich as I am, and, indeed more rich, whenever you
like, by the same means."

"But your rents,--do you lay them by?"

"What do you think of a chest concealed in a wall?"

"I never made use of such a thing."

"Then you must have some confidant, some safe man of business who pays
you interest at a fair rate."

"Not at all."

"Good heavens! what do you do with it, then?"

"I spend all I have, and I only have what I spend, my dear D'Artagnan."

"Ah that may be. But you are something of a prince, fifteen or sixteen
thousand livres melt away between your fingers; and then you have
expenses and appearances----"

"Well, I don't see why you should be less of a noble than I am, my
friend; your money would be quite sufficient."

"Three hundred thousand crowns! Two-thirds too much!"

"I beg your pardon--did you not tell me?--I thought I heard you say--I
fancied you had a partner----"

"Ah! Mordioux! that's true," cried D'Artagnan, coloring; "there is
Planchet. I had forgotten Planchet, upon my life! Well! there are my
three hundred thousand crowns broken into. That's a pity! it was a round
sum, and sounded well. That is true, Athos; I am no longer rich. What a
memory you have!"

"Tolerably good; yes, thank God!"

"The worthy Planchet!" grumbled D'Artagnan; "his was not a bad dream!
What a speculation! Peste! Well! what is said is said."

"How much are you to give him?"

"Oh!" said D'Artagnan, "he is not a bad fellow; I shall arrange matters
with him. I have had a great deal of trouble, you see, and expenses; all
that must be taken into account."

"My dear friend, I can depend upon you, and have no fear for the worthy
Planchet; his interests are better in your hands than in his own. But
now that you have nothing more to do here, we shall depart, if you
please. You can go and thank his majesty, ask if he has any commands,
and in six days we may be able to get sight of the towers of Notre
Dame."

"My friend, I am most anxious to be off, and will go at once and pay my
respects to the king."

"I," said Athos, "am going to call upon some friends in the city, and
shall then be at your service."

"Will you lend me Grimaud?"

"With all my heart. What do you want to do with him?"

"Something very simple, and which will not fatigue him; I shall only beg
him to take charge of my pistols, which lie there on the table near that
coffer."

"Very well!" replied Athos, imperturbably.

"And he will not stir, will he?"

"Not more than the pistols themselves."

"Then I shall go and take leave of his majesty. Au revoir!"

D'Artagnan arrived at St. James's, where Charles II. who was busy
writing, kept him in the ante-chamber a full hour. Whilst walking about
in the gallery, from the door to the window, from the window to the
door, he thought he saw a cloak like Athos's cross the vestibule; but at
the moment he was going to ascertain if it were he, the usher summoned
him to his majesty's presence. Charles II. rubbed his hands while
receiving the thanks of our friend.

"Chevalier," said he, "you are wrong to express gratitude to me; I have
not paid you a quarter of the value of the history of the box into which
you put the brave general--the excellent Duke of Albemarle, I mean." And
the king laughed heartily.

D'Artagnan did not think it proper to interrupt his majesty, and bowed
with much modesty.

"A propos," continued Charles, "do you think my dear Monk has really
pardoned you?"

"Pardoned me! yes, I hope so, sire!"

"Eh!--but it was a cruel trick! Odds fish! to pack up the first
personage of the English revolution like a herring. In your place I
would not trust him, chevalier."

"But, sire----"

"Yes, I know very well that Monk calls you his friend, but he has too
penetrating an eye not to have a memory, and too lofty a brow not to be
very proud, you know grande supercilium."

"I shall certainly learn Latin," said D'Artagnan to himself.

"But stop," cried the merry monarch, "I must manage your reconciliation;
I know how to set about it; so----"

D'Artagnan bit his mustache. "Will your majesty permit me to tell you
the truth?"

"Speak, chevalier, speak."

"Well, sire, you alarm me greatly. If your majesty undertakes the
affair, as you seem inclined to do, I am a lost man; the duke will have
me assassinated."

The king burst into a fresh roar of laughter, which changed D'Artagnan's
alarm into downright terror.

"Sire, I beg you to allow me to settle this matter myself, and if your
majesty has no further need of my services----"

"No, chevalier. What, do you want to leave us?" replied Charles, with a
hilarity that grew more and more alarming.

"If your majesty has no more commands for me."

Charles became more serious.

"One single thing. See my sister, the Lady Henrietta. Do you know her?"

"No, sire, but--an old soldier like me is not an agreeable spectacle for
a young and gay princess."

"Ah! but my sister must know you; she must in case of need have you to
depend upon."

"Sire, every one that is dear to your majesty will be sacred to me."

"Very well!--Parry! Come here, Parry!"

The side door opened and Parry entered, his face beaming with pleasure
as soon as he saw D'Artagnan.

"What is Rochester doing?" said the king.

"He is on the canal with the ladies," replied Parry.

"And Buckingham?"

"He is there also."

"That is well. You will conduct the chevalier to Villiers; that is
the Duke of Buckingham, chevalier; and beg the duke to introduce M.
d'Artagnan to the Princess Henrietta."

Parry bowed and smiled to D'Artagnan.

"Chevalier," continued the king, "this is your parting audience; you can
afterwards set out as soon as you please."

"Sire, I thank you."

"But be sure you make your peace with Monk!"

"Oh, sire----"

"You know there is one of my vessels at your disposal?"

"Sire, you overpower me; I cannot think of putting your majesty's
officers to inconvenience on my account."

The king slapped D'Artagnan upon the shoulder.

"Nobody will be inconvenienced on your account, chevalier, but for that
of an ambassador I am about sending to France, and to whom you will
willingly serve as a companion, I fancy, for you know him."

D'Artagnan appeared astonished.

"He is a certain Comte de la Fere,--whom you call Athos," added the
king, terminating the conversation, as he had begun it, by a joyous
burst of laughter. "Adieu, chevalier, adieu. Love me as I love you." And
thereupon making a sign to Parry to ask if there were any one waiting
for him in the adjoining closet, the king disappeared into that closet,
leaving the chevalier perfectly astonished by this singular audience.
The old man took his arm in a friendly way, and led him towards the
garden.



CHAPTER 35. On the Canal



Upon the green waters of the canal bordered with marble, upon which time
had already scattered black spots and tufts of mossy grass, there
glided majestically a long, flat bark adorned with the arms of England,
surmounted by a dais, and carpeted with long damasked stuffs, which
trailed their fringes in the water. Eight rowers, leaning lazily to
their oars, made it move upon the canal with the graceful slowness of
the swans, which, disturbed in their ancient possessions by the approach
of the bark, looked from a distance at this splendid and noisy pageant.
We say noisy--for the bark contained four guitar and lute players, two
singers, and several courtiers, all sparkling with gold and precious
stones, and showing their white teeth in emulation of each other, to
please the Lady Henrietta Stuart, grand-daughter of Henry IV., daughter
of Charles I., and sister of Charles II., who occupied the seat of honor
under the dais of the bark. We know this young princess, we have seen
her at the Louvre with her mother, wanting wood, wanting bread, and
fed by the coadjuteur and the parliament. She had, therefore, like her
brothers, passed through an uneasy youth; then, all at once, she had
just awakened from a long and horrible dream, seated on the steps of
a throne, surrounded by courtiers and flatterers. Like Mary Stuart on
leaving prison, she aspired not only to life and liberty, but to power
and wealth.

The Lady Henrietta, in growing, had attained remarkable beauty, which
the recent restoration had rendered celebrated. Misfortune had taken
from her the luster of pride, but prosperity had restored it to her.
She was resplendent, then, in her joy and her happiness,--like those
hot-house flowers which, forgotten during a frosty autumn night, have
hung their heads, but which on the morrow, warmed once more by the
atmosphere in which they were born, rise again with greater splendor
than ever. Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, son of him who played so
conspicuous a part in the early chapters of this history,--Villiers of
Buckingham, a handsome cavalier, melancholy with women, a jester
with men,--and Wilmot, Lord Rochester, a jester with both sexes,
were standing at this moment before the Lady Henrietta, disputing the
privilege of making her smile. As to that young and beautiful princess,
reclining upon a cushion of velvet bordered with gold, her hands hanging
listlessly so as to dip in the water, she listened carelessly to the
musicians without hearing them, and heard the two courtiers without
appearing to listen to them.

This Lady Henrietta--this charming creature--this woman who joined the
graces of France to the beauties of England, not having yet loved, was
cruel in her coquetry. The smile, then,--that innocent favor of young
girls,--did not even lighten her countenance; and if, at times, she did
raise her eyes, it was to fasten them upon one or other of the cavaliers
with such a fixity, that their gallantry, bold as it generally was, took
the alarm, and became timid.

In the meanwhile the boat continued its course, the musicians made a
great noise, and the courtiers began, like them, to be out of breath.
Besides, the excursion became doubtless monotonous to the princess,
for all at once, shaking her head with an air of impatience,--"Come,
gentlemen,--enough of this;--let us land."

"Ah, madam," said Buckingham, "we are very unfortunate! We have not
succeeded in making the excursion agreeable to your royal highness."

"My mother expects me," replied the princess; "and I must frankly admit,
gentlemen, I am bored." And whilst uttering this cruel word, Henrietta
endeavored to console by a look each of the two young men, who appeared
terrified at such frankness. The look produced its effect--the two faces
brightened; but immediately, as if the royal coquette thought she had
done too much for simple mortals, she made a movement, turned her back
on both her adorers, and appeared plunged in a reverie in which it was
evident they had no part.

Buckingham bit his lips with anger, for he was truly in love with
Lady Henrietta, and, in that case, took everything in a serious light.
Rochester bit his lips likewise; but his wit always dominated over
his heart, it was purely and simply to repress a malicious smile. The
princess was then allowing the eyes she turned from the young nobles to
wander over the green and flowery turf of the park, when she perceived
Parry and D'Artagnan at a distance.

"Who is coming yonder?" said she.

The two young men turned round with the rapidity of lightning.

"Parry," replied Buckingham, "nobody but Parry."

"I beg your pardon," said Rochester, "but I think he has a companion."

"Yes," said the princess, at first with languor, but then,--"What mean
those words, 'Nobody but Parry;' say, my lord?"

"Because, madam," replied Buckingham, piqued, "because the faithful
Parry, the wandering Parry, the eternal Parry, is not, I believe, of
much consequence."

"You are mistaken, duke. Parry--the wandering Parry, as you call
him--has always wandered in the service of my family, and the sight of
that old man always gives me satisfaction."

The Lady Henrietta followed the usual progress of pretty women,
particularly coquettish women; she passed from caprice to
contradiction;--the gallant had undergone the caprice, the courtier
must bend beneath the contradictory humor. Buckingham bowed, but made no
reply.

"It is true, madam," said Rochester, bowing in his turn, "that Parry is
the model of servants; but, madam, he is no longer young, and we laugh
only when we see cheerful objects. Is an old man a gay object?"

"Enough, my lord," said the princess, coolly; "the subject of
conversation is unpleasant to me."

Then, as if speaking to herself, "It is really unaccountable," said she,
"how little regard my brother's friends have for his servants."

"Ah, madam," cried Buckingham, "your royal highness pierces my heart
with a dagger forged by your own hands."

"What is the meaning of that speech, which is turned so like a French
madrigal, duke? I do not understand it."

"It means, madam, that you yourself, so good, so charming, so sensible,
you have laughed sometimes--smiled, I should say--at the idle prattle of
that good Parry, for whom your royal highness to-day entertains such a
marvelous susceptibility."

"Well, my lord, if I have forgotten myself so far," said Henrietta, "you
do wrong to remind me of it." And she made a sign of impatience. "The
good Parry wants to speak to me, I believe: please order them to row to
the shore, my Lord Rochester."

Rochester hastened to repeat the princess's command; and a moment later
the boat touched the bank.

"Let us land, gentlemen," said Henrietta, taking the arm which Rochester
offered her, although Buckingham was nearer to her, and had presented
his. Then Rochester, with an ill-dissembled pride, which pierced the
heart of the unhappy Buckingham through and through, led the princess
across the little bridge which the rowers had cast from the royal boat
to the shore.

"Which way will your royal highness go?" asked Rochester.

"You see, my lord, towards that good Parry, who is wandering, as my lord
of Buckingham says, and seeking me with eyes weakened by the tears he
has shed over our misfortunes."

"Good heavens!" said Rochester, "how sad your royal highness is to-day;
in truth we seem ridiculous fools to you, madam."

"Speak for yourself, my lord," interrupted Buckingham with vexation;
"for my part, I displease her royal highness to such a degree, that I
appear absolutely nothing to her."

Neither Rochester nor the princess made any reply; Henrietta only urged
her companion more quickly on. Buckingham remained behind, and took
advantage of this isolation to give himself up to his anger; he bit his
handkerchief so furiously that it was soon in shreds.

"Parry my good Parry," said the princess, with her gentle voice, "come
hither. I see you are seeking me, and I am waiting for you."

"Ah, madam," said Rochester, coming charitably to the help of his
companion, who had remained, as we have said, behind, "if Parry cannot
see your royal highness, the man who follows him is a sufficient
guide, even for a blind man, for he has eyes of flame. That man is a
double-lamped lantern."

"Lighting a very handsome martial countenance," said the princess,
determined to be as ill-natured as possible. Rochester bowed. "One of
those vigorous soldiers' heads seen nowhere but in France," added the
princess, with the perseverance of a woman sure of impunity.

Rochester and Buckingham looked at each other, as much as to say,--"What
can be the matter with her?"

"See, my lord of Buckingham, what Parry wants," said Henrietta. "Go!"

The young man, who considered this order as a favor, resumed his
courage, and hastened to meet Parry, who, followed by D'Artagnan,
advanced slowly on account of his age. D'Artagnan walked slowly but
nobly, as D'Artagnan, doubled by the third of a million, ought to walk,
that is to say, without conceit or swagger, but without timidity. When
Buckingham, very eager to comply with the desire of the princess, who
had seated herself on a marble bench, as if fatigued with the few steps
she had gone,--when Buckingham, we say, was at a distance of only a few
paces from Parry, the latter recognized him.

"Ah I my lord!" cried he, quite out of breath, "will your grace obey the
king?"

"In what, Mr. Parry?" said the young man, with a kind of coolness
tempered by a desire to make himself agreeable to the princess.

"Well, his majesty begs your grace to present this gentleman to her
royal highness the Princess Henrietta."

"In the first place, what is the gentleman's name?" said the duke,
haughtily.

D'Artagnan, as we know, was easily affronted, and the Duke of
Buckingham's tone displeased him. He surveyed the courtier from head to
foot, and two flashes beamed from beneath his bent brows. But, after
a struggle,--"Monsieur le Chevalier d'Artagnan, my lord," replied he,
quietly.

"Pardon me, sir, that name teaches me your name but nothing more."

"You mean----"

"I mean I do not know you."

"I am more fortunate than you, sir," replied D'Artagnan, "for I have
had the honor of knowing your family, and particularly my lord Duke of
Buckingham, your illustrious father."

"My father?" said Buckingham. "Well, I think I now remember. Monsieur le
Chevalier d'Artagnan, do you say?"

D'Artagnan bowed. "In person," said he.

"Pardon me, but are you one of those Frenchmen who had secret relations
with my father?"

"Exactly, my lord duke, I am one of those Frenchmen."

"Then, sir, permit me to say that it was strange my father never heard
of you during his lifetime."

"No, monsieur, but he heard of me at the moment of his death: it was I
who sent to him, through the hands of the valet de chambre of Anne of
Austria, notice of the dangers which threatened him; unfortunately, it
came too late."

"Never mind, monsieur," said Buckingham. "I understand now, that, having
had the intention of rendering a service to the father, you have come to
claim the protection of the son."

"In the first place, my lord," replied D'Artagnan, phlegmatically, "I
claim the protection of no man. His majesty Charles II., to whom I have
had the honor of rendering some services--I may tell you, my lord, my
life has been passed in such occupations--King Charles II., then, who
wishes to honor me with some kindness, desires me to be presented to
her royal highness the Princess Henrietta, his sister, to whom I shall,
perhaps, have the good fortune to be of service hereafter. Now, the king
knew that you at this moment were with her royal highness, and sent me
to you. There is no other mystery, I ask absolutely nothing of you; and
if you will not present me to her royal highness, I shall be compelled
to do without you, and present myself."

"At least, sir," said Buckingham, determined to have the last word, "you
will not refuse me an explanation provoked by yourself."

"I never refuse, my lord," said D'Artagnan.

"As you have had relations with my father, you must be acquainted with
some private details?"

"These relations are already far removed from us, my lord--for you were
not then born--and for some unfortunate diamond studs, which I received
from his hands and carried back to France, it is really not worth while
awakening so many remembrances."

"Ah! sir," said Buckingham, warmly, going up to D'Artagnan, and holding
out his hand to him, "it is you, then--you whom my father sought
everywhere and who had a right to expect so much from us."

"To expect, my lord, in truth, that is my forte; all my life I have
expected."

At this moment, the princess, who was tired of not seeing the stranger
approach her, arose and came towards them.

"At least, sir," said Buckingham, "you shall not wait for the
presentation you claim of me."

Then turning toward the princess and bowing: "Madam," said the young
man, "the king, your brother, desires me to have the honor of presenting
to your royal highness, Monsieur le Chevalier d'Artagnan."

"In order that your royal highness may have, in case of need, a firm
support and a sure friend," added Parry. D'Artagnan bowed.

"You have still something to say, Parry," replied Henrietta, smiling
upon D'Artagnan, while addressing the old servant.

"Yes, madam, the king desires you to preserve religiously in your memory
the name and merit of M. d'Artagnan, to whom his majesty owes, he says,
the recovery of his kingdom." Buckingham, the princess, and Rochester
looked at each other.

"That," said D'Artagnan, "is another little secret, of which, in all
probability, I shall not boast to his majesty's son, as I have done to
you with respect to the diamond studs."

"Madam," said Buckingham, "monsieur has just, for the second time,
recalled to my memory an event which excites my curiosity to such a
degree, that I shall venture to ask your permission to take him to one
side for a moment, to converse in private."

"Do, my lord," said the princess, "but restore to the sister, as quickly
as possible, this friend so devoted to the brother." And she took the
arm of Rochester whilst Buckingham took that of D'Artagnan.

"Oh! tell me, chevalier," said Buckingham, "all that affair of the
diamonds, which nobody knows in England, not even the son of him who was
the hero of it."

"My lord, one person alone had a right to relate all that affair, as
you call it, and that was your father; he thought proper to be silent. I
must beg you to allow me to be so likewise." And D'Artagnan bowed like a
man upon whom it was evident no entreaties could prevail.

"Since it is so, sir," said Buckingham, "pardon my indiscretion, I beg
you; and if, at any time, I should go into France----" and he turned
round to take a last look at the princess, who took but little notice
of him, totally occupied as she was, or appeared to be, with Rochester.
Buckingham sighed.

"Well?" said D'Artagnan.

"I was saying that if, any day, I were to go to France----"

"You will go, my lord," said D'Artagnan. "I shall answer for that."

"And how so?"

"Oh, I have strange powers of prediction; if I do predict anything I am
seldom mistaken. If, then, you do come to France?"

"Well, then, monsieur, you, of whom kings ask that valuable friendship
which restores crowns to them, I will venture to beg of you a little of
that great interest you took in my father."

"My lord," replied D'Artagnan, "believe me, I shall deem myself highly
honored if, in France, you remember having seen me here. And now
permit----"

Then, turning towards the princess: "Madam," said he, "your royal
highness is a daughter of France; and in that quality I hope to see you
again in Paris. One of my happy days will be that on which your royal
highness shall give me any command whatever, thus proving to me that you
have not forgotten the recommendations of your august brother." And he
bowed respectfully to the young princess, who gave him her hand to kiss
with a right royal grace.

"Ah! madam," said Buckingham, in a subdued voice, "what can a man do to
obtain a similar favor from your royal highness?"

"Dame! my lord," replied Henrietta, "ask Monsieur d'Artagnan; he will
tell you."



CHAPTER 36. How D'Artagnan drew, as a Fairy would have done, a
Country-seat from a Deal Box



The king's words regarding the wounded pride of Monk had not inspired
D'Artagnan with a small portion of apprehension. The lieutenant had had,
all his life, the great art of choosing his enemies; and when he had
found them implacable and invincible, it was when he had not been able,
under any pretense, to make them otherwise. But points of view change
greatly in the course of a life. It is a magic lantern, of which the eye
of man every year changes the aspects. It results that from the last day
of a year on which we saw white, to the first day of the year on which
we shall see black, there is but the interval of a single night.

Now, D'Artagnan, when he left Calais with his ten scamps, would have
hesitated as little in attacking a Goliath, a Nebuchadnezzar, or a
Holofernes as he would in crossing swords with a recruit or caviling
with a landlady. Then he resembled the sparrow-hawk which, when fasting,
will attack a ram. Hunger is blind. But D'Artagnan satisfied--D'Artagnan
rich--D'Artagnan a conqueror--D'Artagnan proud of so difficult a
triumph--D'Artagnan had too much to lose not to reckon, figure by
figure, with probable misfortune.

His thoughts were employed, therefore, all the way on the road from his
presentation, with one thing, and that was, how he should conciliate a
man like Monk, a man whom Charles himself, kind as he was, conciliated
with difficulty; for, scarcely established, the protected might again
stand in need of the protector, and would, consequently, not refuse
him, such being the case, the petty satisfaction of transporting M.
d'Artagnan, or of confining him in one of the Middlesex prisons, or
drowning him a little on his passage from Dover to Boulogne. Such sorts
of satisfaction kings are accustomed to render to viceroys without
disagreeable consequences.

It would not be at all necessary for the king to be active in that
contrepartie of the play in which Monk should take his revenge. The part
of the king would be confined to simply pardoning the viceroy of Ireland
all he should undertake against D'Artagnan. Nothing more was necessary
to place the conscience of the Duke of Albemarle at rest than a te
absolvo said with a laugh, or the scrawl of "Charles the King," traced
at the foot of a parchment; and with these two words pronounced, and
these two words written, poor D'Artagnan was forever crushed beneath the
ruins of his imagination.

And then, a thing sufficiently disquieting for a man with such foresight
as our musketeer, he found himself alone; and even the friendship of
Athos could not restore his confidence. Certainly if the affair had only
concerned a free distribution of sword-thrusts, the musketeer would have
counted upon his companion; but in delicate dealings with a king, when
the perhaps of an unlucky chance should arise in justification of Monk
or of Charles of England, D'Artagnan knew Athos well enough to be sure
he would give the best possible coloring to the loyalty of the survivor,
and would content himself with shedding floods of tears on the tomb of
the dead, supposing the dead to be his friend, and afterwards composing
his epitaph in the most pompous superlatives.

"Decidedly," thought the Gascon; and this thought was the result of the
reflections which he had just whispered to himself and which we have
repeated aloud--"decidedly, I must be reconciled with M. Monk, and
acquire a proof of his perfect indifference for the past. If, and God
forbid it should be so! he is still sulky and reserved in the expression
of this sentiment, I shall give my money to Athos to take away with him,
and remain in England just long enough to unmask him, then, as I have
a quick eye and a light foot, I shall notice the first hostile sign; to
decamp or conceal myself at the residence of my lord of Buckingham, who
seems a good sort of devil at the bottom, and to whom, in return for his
hospitality, I shall relate all that history of the diamonds, which can
now compromise nobody but an old queen, who need not be ashamed, after
being the wife of a miserly creature like Mazarin, of having formerly
been the mistress of a handsome nobleman like Buckingham. Mordioux!
that is the thing, and this Monk shall not get the better of me. Eh? and
besides I have an idea!"

We know that, in general, D'Artagnan was not wanting in ideas; and
during this soliloquy, D'Artagnan buttoned his vest up to the chin, and
nothing excited his imagination like this preparation for a combat of
any kind, called accinction by the Romans. He was quite heated when he
reached the mansion of the Duke of Albemarle. He was introduced to the
viceroy with a promptitude which proved that he was considered as one of
the household. Monk was in his business-closet.

"My lord," said D'Artagnan, with that expression of frankness which the
Gascon knew so well how to assume, "my lord, I have come to ask your
grace's advice!"

Monk, as closely buttoned up morally as his antagonist was physically,
replied: "Ask, my friend;" and his countenance presented an expression
not less open than that of D'Artagnan.

"My lord, in the first place, promise me secrecy and indulgence."

"I promise you all you wish. What is the matter? Speak!"

"It is, my lord, that I am not quite pleased with the king."

"Indeed! And on what account, my dear lieutenant?"

"Because his majesty gives way sometimes to jest very compromising for
his servants; and jesting, my lord, is a weapon that seriously wounds
men of the sword, as we are."

Monk did all in his power not to betray his thought, but D'Artagnan
watched him with too close an attention not to detect an almost
imperceptible flush upon his face. "Well, now, for my part," said he,
with the most natural air possible, "I am not an enemy of jesting, my
dear Monsieur d'Artagnan; my soldiers will tell you that even many times
in camp, I listened very indifferently, and with a certain pleasure,
to the satirical songs which the army of Lambert passed into mine,
and which, certainly, would have caused the ears of a general more
susceptible than I am to tingle."

"Oh, my lord," said D'Artagnan, "I know you are a complete man; I know
you have been, for a long time placed above human miseries; but
there are jests and jests of a certain kind, which have the power of
irritating me beyond expression."

"May I inquire what kind, my friend?"

"Such as are directed against my friends or against people I respect, my
lord!"

Monk made a slight movement, which D'Artagnan perceived. "Eh! and in
what," asked Monk, "in what can the stroke of a pin which scratches
another tickle your skin? Answer me that."

"My lord, I can explain it to you in one single sentence; it concerns
you."

Monk advanced a single step towards D'Artagnan. "Concerns me?" said he.

"Yes, and this is what I cannot explain; but that arises, perhaps, from
my want of knowledge of his character. How can the king have the
heart to jest about a man who has rendered him so many and such great
services? How can one understand that he should amuse himself in setting
by the ears a lion like you with a gnat like me?"

"I cannot conceive that in any way," said Monk.

"But so it is. The king, who owed me a reward, might have rewarded me as
a soldier, without contriving that history of the ransom, which affects
you, my lord."

"No," said Monk, laughing: "it does not affect me in any way, I can
assure you."

"Not as regards me, I can understand, you know me, my lord, I am so
discreet that the grave would appear a babbler compared to me; but--do
you understand, my lord?"

"No," replied Monk, with persistent obstinacy.

"If another knew the secret which I know----"

"What secret?"

"Eh! my lord, why, that unfortunate secret of Newcastle."

"Oh! the million of M. le Comte de la Fere?"

"No, my lord, no; the enterprise made upon you grace's person."

"It was well played, chevalier, that is all, and no more is to be said
about it: you are a soldier, both brave and cunning, which proves that
you unite the qualities of Fabius and Hannibal. You employed your means,
force and cunning: there is nothing to be said against that: I ought to
have been on guard."

"Ah! yes; I know, my lord, and I expected nothing less from your
partiality; so that if it were only the abduction in itself, Mordieux!
that would be nothing; but there are----"

"What?"

"The circumstances of that abduction."

"What circumstances?"

"Oh! you know very well what I mean, my lord."

"No, curse me if I do."

"There is--in truth, it is difficult to speak it."

"There is?"

"Well, there is that devil of a box!"

Monk colored visibly. "Well, I have forgotten it."

"Deal box," continued D'Artagnan, "with holes for the nose and mouth.
In truth, my lord, all the rest was well; but the box, the box! that
was really a coarse joke." Monk fidgeted about in his chair. "And,
notwithstanding my having done that," resumed D'Artagnan, "I, a soldier
of fortune, it was quite simple, because by the side of that action, a
little inconsiderate I admit, which I committed, but which the gravity
of the case may excuse, I am circumspect and reserved."

"Oh!" said Monk, "believe me, I know you well, Monsieur d'Artagnan, and
I appreciate you."

D'Artagnan never took his eyes off Monk; studying all which passed in
the mind of the general, as he prosecuted his idea. "But it does not
concern me," resumed he.

"Well, then, whom does it concern?" said Monk, who began to grow a
little impatient.

"It relates to the king, who will never restrain his tongue."

"Well! and suppose he should say all he knows?" said Monk, with a degree
of hesitation.

"My lord," replied D'Artagnan, "do not dissemble, I implore you, with
a man who speaks so frankly as I do. You have a right to feel your
susceptibility excited, however benignant it may be. What, the devil!
it is not the place for a man like you, a man who plays with crowns and
scepters as a Bohemian plays with his balls; it is not the place of a
serious man, I said, to be shut up in a box like some freak of natural
history; for you must understand it would make all your enemies ready to
burst with laughter, and you are so great, so noble, so generous, that
you must have many enemies. This secret is enough to set half the human
race laughing, if you were represented in that box. It is not decent to
have the second personage in the kingdom laughed at."

Monk was quite out of countenance at the idea of seeing himself
represented in his box. Ridicule, as D'Artagnan had judiciously
foreseen, acted upon him in a manner which neither the chances of war,
the aspirations of ambition, nor the fear of death had been able to do.

"Good," thought the Gascon, "he is frightened: I am safe."

"Oh! as to the king," said Monk, "fear nothing, my dear Monsieur
d'Artagnan; the king will not jest with Monk, I assure you!"

The momentary flash of his eye was noticed by D'Artagnan. Monk lowered
his tone immediately: "The king," continued he, "is of too noble a
nature, the king's heart is too high to allow him to wish ill to those
who do him good."

"Oh! certainly," cried D'Artagnan. "I am entirely of your grace's
opinion with regard to his heart, but not as to his head--it is good,
but it is trifling."

"The king will not trifle with Monk, be assured."

"Then you are quite at ease, my lord?"

"On that side, at least! yes, perfectly."

"Oh! I understand you; you are at ease as far as the king is concerned?"

"I have told you I was."

"But you are not so much so on my account?"

"I thought I had told you that I had faith in your loyalty and
discretion."

"No doubt, no doubt, but you must remember one thing----"

"What is that?"

"That I was not alone, that I had companions; and what companions!"

"Oh! yes, I know them."

"And, unfortunately, my lord, they know you, too!"

"Well?"

"Well; they are yonder, at Boulogne, waiting for me."

"And you fear----"

"Yes, I fear that in my absence--Parbleu! If I were near them, I could
answer for their silence."

"Was I not right in saying that the danger, if there was any danger,
would not come from his majesty, however disposed he may be to jest,
but from your companions, as you say? To be laughed at by a king may be
tolerable, but by the horse-boys and scamps of the army! Damn it!"

"Yes, I understand, that would be unbearable, that is why, my lord, I
came to say,--do you not think it would be better for me to set out for
France as soon as possible?"

"Certainly, if you think your presence----"

"Would impose silence upon these scoundrels? Oh! I am sure of that, my
lord."

"Your presence will not prevent the report from spreading, if the tale
has already transpired."

"Oh! it has not transpired, my lord, I will wager. At all events, be
assured I am determined upon one thing."

"What is that?"

"To blow out the brains of the first who shall have propagated that
report, and of the first who has heard it. After which I shall return to
England to seek an asylum, and perhaps employment with your grace."

"Oh, come back! come back!"

"Unfortunately, my lord, I am acquainted with nobody here but your
grace, and if I should no longer find you, or if you should have
forgotten me in your greatness?"

"Listen to me, Monsieur d'Artagnan," replied Monk; "you are a superior
man, full of intelligence and courage; you deserve all the good fortune
this world can bring you; come with me into Scotland, and, I swear to
you, I shall arrange for you a fate which all may envy."

"Oh! my lord, that is impossible. At present I have a sacred duty to
perform; I have to watch over your glory, I have to prevent a low jester
from tarnishing in the eyes of our contemporaries--who knows? in the
eyes of posterity--the splendor of your name."

"Of posterity, Monsieur d'Artagnan?"

"Doubtless. It is necessary, as regards posterity, that all the
details of that history should remain a mystery; for, admit that this
unfortunate history of the deal box should spread, and it should be
asserted that you had not re-established the king loyally, and of
your own free will, but in consequence of a compromise entered into at
Scheveningen between you two. It would be vain for me to declare how the
thing came about, for though I know I should not be believed, it would
be said that I had received my part of the cake, and was eating it."

Monk knitted his brow.--"Glory, honor, probity!" said he, "you are but
empty words."

"Mist!" replied D'Artagnan; "nothing but mist, through which nobody can
see clearly."

"Well, then, go to France, my dear Monsieur d'Artagnan," said Monk; "go,
and to render England more attractive and agreeable to you, accept a
remembrance of me.

"What now?" thought D'Artagnan.

"I have on the banks of the Clyde," continued Monk, "a little house in
a grove, cottage as it is called here. To this house are attached a
hundred acres of land. Accept it as a souvenir."

"Oh my lord!----"

"Faith! you will be there in your own home, and that will be the place
of refuge you spoke of just now."

"For me to be obliged to your lordship to such an extent! Really, your
grace, I am ashamed."

"Not at all, not at all, monsieur," replied Monk, with an arch smile;
"it is I who shall be obliged to you. And," pressing the hand of the
musketeer, "I shall go and draw up the deed of gift,"--and he left the
room.

D'Artagnan looked at him as he went out with something of a pensive and
even an agitated air.

"After all," said he, "he is a brave man. It is only a sad reflection
that it is from fear of me, and not affection that he acts thus. Well,
I shall endeavor that affection may follow." Then, after an instant's
deeper reflection,--"Bah!" said he, "to what purpose? He is an
Englishman." And he in his turn went out, a little confused after the
combat.

"So," said he, "I am a land-owner! But how the devil am I to share
the cottage with Planchet? Unless I give him the land, and I take the
chateau, or that he takes the house and I--nonsense! M. Monk will never
allow me to share a house he has inhabited, with a grocer. He is too
proud for that. Besides, why should I say anything about it to him? It
was not with the money of the company I have acquired that property, it
was with my mother-wit alone; it is all mine, then. So, now I will go
and find Athos." And he directed his steps towards the dwelling of the
Comte de la Fere



CHAPTER 37. How D'Artagnan regulated the "Assets" of the Company before
he established its "Liabilities"



"Decidedly," said D'Artagnan to himself, "I have struck a good vein.
That star which shines once in the life of every man, which shone for
Job and Iris, the most unfortunate of the Jews and the poorest of the
Greeks, is come at last to shine on me. I will commit no folly, I will
take advantage of it; it comes quite late enough to find me reasonable."

He supped that evening, in very good humor, with his friend Athos;
he said nothing to him about the expected donation, but he could not
forbear questioning his friend, while eating, about country produce,
sowing, and planting. Athos replied complacently, as he always did. His
idea was that D'Artagnan wished to become a land-owner, only he could
not help regretting, more than once, the absence of the lively humor
and amusing sallies of the cheerful companion of former days. In fact,
D'Artagnan was so absorbed, that, with his knife, he took advantage of
the grease left at the bottom of his plate, to trace ciphers and make
additions of surprising rotundity.

The order, or rather license, for their embarkation, arrived at Athos's
lodgings that evening. While this paper was remitted to the comte,
another messenger brought to D'Artagnan a little bundle of parchments,
adorned with all the seals employed in setting off property deeds in
England. Athos surprised him turning over the leaves of these different
acts which establish the transmission of property. The prudent
Monk--others would say the generous Monk--had commuted the donation
into a sale, and acknowledged the receipt of the sum of fifteen thousand
crowns as the price of the property ceded. The messenger was gone.
D'Artagnan still continued reading, Athos watched him with a smile.
D'Artagnan, surprising one of those smiles over his shoulder, put the
bundle in its wrapper.

"I beg your pardon," said Athos.

"Oh! not at all, my friend," replied the lieutenant, "I shall tell
you----"

"No, don't tell me anything, I beg you; orders are things so sacred,
that to one's brother, one's father, the person charged with such orders
should never open his mouth. Thus I, who speak to you, and love you more
tenderly than brother, father, or all the world----"

"Except your Raoul?"

"I shall love Raoul still better when he shall be a man, and I shall
have seen him develop himself in all the phases of his character and his
actions--as I have seen you, my friend."

"You said, then, that you had an order likewise, and that you would not
communicate it to me."

"Yes, my dear D'Artagnan."

The Gascon sighed. "There was a time," said he, "when you would have
placed that order open upon the table, saying, 'D'Artagnan, read this
scrawl to Porthos, Aramis, and to me.'"

"That is true. Oh! that was the time of youth, confidence, the generous
season when the blood commands, when it is warmed by feeling!"

"Well! Athos, will you allow me to tell you?"

"Speak, my friend!"

"That delightful time, that generous season, that ruling by warm blood,
were all very fine things, no doubt; but I do not regret them at all.
It is absolutely like the period of studies. I have constantly met with
fools who would boast of the days of pensums, ferules and crusts of dry
bread. It is singular, but I never loved all that; for my part, however
active and sober I might be (you know if I was so, Athos), however
simple I might appear in my clothes, I would not the less have preferred
the braveries and embroideries of Porthos to my little perforated
cassock, which gave passage to the wind in winter and the sun in summer.
I should always, my friend, mistrust him who would pretend to prefer
evil to good. Now, in times past all went wrong with me, and every month
found a fresh hole in my cassock and in my skin, a gold crown less in my
poor purse; of that execrable time of small beer and see-saw, I regret
absolutely nothing, nothing, nothing save our friendship; for within me
I have a heart, and it is a miracle that heart has not been dried up
by the wind of poverty which passed through the holes of my cloak, or
pierced by the swords of all shapes which passed through the holes in my
poor flesh."

"Do not regret our friendship," said Athos, "that will only die with
ourselves. Friendship is composed, above all things, of memories and
habits, and if you have just now made a little satire upon mine, because
I hesitate to tell you the nature of my mission into France----"

"Who! I?--Oh! heavens! if you knew, my dear friend, how indifferent all
the missions of the world will henceforth become to me!" And he laid his
hand upon the parchment in his vest pocket.

Athos rose from the table and called the host in order to pay the
reckoning.

"Since I have known you, my friend," said D'Artagnan, "I have never
discharged the reckoning. Porthos often did, Aramis sometimes, and you,
you almost always drew out your purse with the dessert. I am now rich
and should like to try if it is heroic to pay."

"Do so," said Athos; returning his purse to his pocket.

The two friends then directed their steps towards the port, not,
however, without D'Artagnan's frequently turning round to watch the
transportation of his dear crowns. Night had just spread her thick veil
over the yellow waters of the Thames; they heard those noises of casks
and pulleys, the preliminaries of preparing to sail which had so many
times made the hearts of the musketeers beat when the dangers of the sea
were the least of those they were going to face. This time they were
to embark on board a large vessel which awaited them at Gravesend,
and Charles II., always delicate in small matters, had sent one of
his yachts, with twelve men of his Scotch guard, to do honor to the
ambassador he was sending to France. At midnight the yacht had deposited
its passengers on board the vessel, and at eight o'clock in the
morning, the vessel landed the ambassador and his friend on the wharf at
Boulogne. Whilst the comte, with Grimaud, was busy procuring horses
to go straight to Paris, D'Artagnan hastened to the hostelry where,
according to his orders, his little army was to wait for him. These
gentlemen were at breakfast upon oysters, fish, and spiced brandy, when
D'Artagnan appeared. They were all very gay, but not one of them had
yet exceeded the bounds of reason. A hurrah of joy welcomed the general.
"Here I am," said D'Artagnan, "the campaign is ended. I am come to bring
to each his supplement of pay, as agreed upon." Their eyes sparkled.
"I will lay a wager there are not, at this moment, a hundred crowns
remaining in the purse of the richest among you."

"That is true," cried they in chorus.

"Gentlemen," said D'Artagnan, "then, this is the last order. The treaty
of commerce has been concluded thanks to our coup-de-main which made
us masters of the most skillful financier of England, for now I am
at liberty to confess to you that the man we had to carry off was the
treasurer of General Monk."

This word treasurer produced a certain effect on his army. D'Artagnan
observed that the eyes of Menneville alone did not evince perfect faith.
"This treasurer," he continued, "I conveyed to a neutral territory,
Holland; I forced him to sign the treaty; I have even reconducted him
to Newcastle, and as he was obliged to be satisfied with our proceedings
towards him--the deal coffer being always carried without jolting, and
being lined softly, I asked for a gratification for you. Here it is." He
threw a respectable-looking purse upon the cloth; and all involuntarily
stretched out their hands. "One moment, my lambs," said D'Artagnan; "if
there are profits, there are also charges."

"Oh! oh!" murmured they.

"We are about to find ourselves, my friends, in a position that would
not be tenable for people without brains. I speak plainly: we are
between the gallows and the Bastile."

"Oh! oh!" said the chorus.

"That is easily understood. It was necessary to explain to General Monk
the disappearance of his treasurer. I waited, for that purpose, till the
very unhopedfor moment of the restoration of King Charles II., who is
one of my friends."

The army exchanged a glance of satisfaction in reply to the sufficiently
proud look of D'Artagnan. "The king being restored, I restored to Monk
his man of business, a little plucked, it is true, but, in short,
I restored him. Now, General Monk, when he pardoned me, for he has
pardoned me, could not help repeating these words to me, which I charge
every one of you to engrave deeply there, between the eyes, under the
vault of the cranium:--'Monsieur, the joke has been a good one, but I
don't naturally like jokes; if ever a word of what you have done' (you
understand me, Menneville) 'escapes from your lips, or the lips of your
companions, I have, in my government of Scotland and Ireland, seven
hundred and forty-one wooden gibbets, of strong oak, clamped with iron,
and freshly greased every week. I will make a present of one of these
gibbets to each of you, and observe well, M. d'Artagnan,' added he
(observe it also, M. Menneville), 'I shall still have seven hundred and
thirty left for my private pleasure. And still further----'"

"Ah! ah!" said the auxiliaries, "is there more still?"

"A mere trifle. 'Monsieur d'Artagnan, I send to the king of France the
treaty in question, with a request that he will cast into the Bastile
provisionally, and then send to me, all who have taken part in this
expedition; and that is a prayer with which the king will certainly
comply.'"

A cry of terror broke from all corners of the table.

"There! there! there," said D'Artagnan, "this brave M. Monk has
forgotten one thing, and that is he does not know the name of any one of
you, I alone know you, and it is not I, you may well believe, who will
betray you. Why should I? As for you--I cannot suppose you will be silly
enough to denounce yourselves, for then the king, to spare himself the
expense of feeding and lodging you, will send you off to Scotland, where
the seven hundred and forty-one gibbets are to be found. That is all,
messieurs; I have not another word to add to what I have had the honor
to tell you. I am sure you have understood me perfectly well, have you
not, M. Menneville?"

"Perfectly," replied the latter.

"Now the crowns!" said D'Artagnan. "Shut the doors," he cried, and
opened the bag upon the table, from which rolled several fine gold
crowns. Every one made a movement towards the floor.

"Gently!" cried D'Artagnan. "Let no one stoop, and then I shall not
be out in my reckoning." He found it all right, gave fifty of those
splendid crowns to each man, and received as many benedictions as he
bestowed pieces. "Now," said he, "if it were possible for you to reform
a little, if you could become good and honest citizens----"

"That is rather difficult," said one of the troop.

"What then, captain?" said another.

"Because I might be able to find you again, and, who knows what other
good fortune?" He made a sign to Menneville, who listened to all he
said with a composed air. "Menneville," said he, "come with me. Adieu my
brave fellows! I need not warn you to be discreet."

Menneville followed him, whilst the salutations of the auxiliaries were
mingled with the sweet sound of the money clinking in their pockets.

"Menneville," said D'Artagnan, when they were once in the street, "you
were not my dupe; beware of being so. You did not appear to me to have
any fear of the gibbets of Monk, or the Bastile of his majesty, King
Louis XIV., but you will do me the favor of being afraid of me. Then
listen at the smallest word that shall escape you, I will kill you as
I would a fowl. I have absolution from our holy father, the pope, in my
pocket."

"I assure you I know absolutely nothing, my dear M. d'Artagnan, and that
your words have all been to me so many articles of faith."

"I was quite sure you were an intelligent fellow," said the musketeer;
"I have tried you for a length of time. These fifty gold crowns which
I give you above the rest will prove the esteem I have for you. Take
them."

"Thanks, Monsieur d'Artagnan," said Menneville.

"With that sum you can really become an honest man," replied D'Artagnan,
in the most serious tone possible. "It would be disgraceful for a mind
like yours, and a name you no longer dare to bear, to sink forever under
the rust of an evil life. Become a gallant man, Menneville, and live for
a year upon those hundred gold crowns: it is a good provision; twice the
pay of a high officer. In a year come to me, and, Mordioux! I will make
something of you."

Menneville swore, as his comrades had sworn, that he would be as silent
as the grave. And yet some one must have spoken; and as, certainly, it
was not one of the nine companions, and quite as certainly, it was
not Menneville, it must have been D'Artagnan, who, in his quality of a
Gascon, had his tongue very near to his lips. For, in short, if it were
not he, who could it be? And how can it be explained that the secret of
the deal coffer pierced with holes should come to our knowledge, and
in so complete a fashion that we have, as has been seen, related the
history of it in all its most minute details; details which, besides,
throw a light as new as unexpected upon all that portion of the history
of England which has been left, up to the present day, completely in
darkness by the historian of our neighbors?



CHAPTER 38. In which it is seen that the French Grocer had already been
established in the Seventeenth Century



His accounts once settled, and his recommendations made, D'Artagnan
thought of nothing but returning to Paris as soon as possible. Athos, on
his part, was anxious to reach home and to rest a little. However whole
the character and the man may remain after the fatigues of a voyage, the
traveler perceives with pleasure, at the close of the day--even though
the day has been a fine one--that night is approaching, and will bring
a little sleep with it. So, from Boulogne to Paris, jogging on, side by
side, the two friends, in some degree absorbed each in his individual
thoughts, conversed of nothing sufficiently interesting for us to repeat
to our readers. Each of them given up to his personal reflections, and
constructing his future after his own fashion, was, above all, anxious
to abridge the distance by speed. Athos and D'Artagnan arrived at the
gates of Paris on the evening of the fourth day after leaving Boulogne.

"Where are you going, my friend?" asked Athos. "I shall direct my course
straight to my hotel."

"And I straight to my partner's."

"To Planchet's?"

"Yes; at the Pilon d'Or."

"Well, but shall we not meet again?"

"If you remain in Paris, yes, for I shall stay here."

"No: after having embraced Raoul, with whom I have appointed a meeting
at my hotel, I shall set out immediately for La Fere."

"Well, adieu, then, dear and true friend."

"Au revoir! I should rather say, for why can you not come and live with
me at Blois? You are free, you are rich, I shall purchase for you, if
you like, a handsome estate in the vicinity of Chiverny or of Bracieux.
On the one side you will have the finest woods in the world, which
join those of Chambord; on the other, admirable marshes. You who love
sporting, and who, whether you admit it or not, are a poet, my dear
friend, you will find pheasants, rail and teal, without counting sunsets
and excursions on the water, to make you fancy yourself Nimrod and
Apollo themselves. While awaiting the purchase, you can live at La Fere,
and we shall go together to fly our hawks among the vines, as Louis
XIII. used to do. That is a quiet amusement for old fellows like us."

D'Artagnan took the hands of Athos in his own. "Dear count," said he,
"I shall say neither 'Yes' nor 'No.' Let me pass in Paris the time
necessary for the regulation of my affairs, and accustom myself, by
degrees, to the heavy and glittering idea which is beating in my brain
and dazzles me. I am rich, you see, and from this moment until the time
when I shall have acquired the habit of being rich, I know myself, and I
shall be an insupportable animal. Now, I am not enough of a fool to
wish to appear to have lost my wits before a friend like you, Athos. The
cloak is handsome, the cloak is richly gilded, but it is new, and does
not seem to fit me."

Athos smiled. "So be it," said he. "But a propos of this cloak, dear
D'Artagnan, will you allow me to offer you a little advice?"

"Yes, willingly."

"You will not be angry?"

"Proceed."

"When wealth comes to a man late in life or all at once, that man, in
order not to change, must most likely become a miser--that is to say,
not spend much more money than he had done before; or else become a
prodigal, and contract so many debts as to become poor again."

"Oh! but what you say looks very much like a sophism, my dear
philosophic friend."

"I do not think so. Will you become a miser?"

"No, pardieu! I was one already, having nothing. Let us change."

"Then be prodigal."

"Still less, Mordioux! Debts terrify me. Creditors appear to me, by
anticipation like those devils who turn the damned upon the gridirons,
and as patience is not my dominant virtue, I am always tempted to thrash
those devils."

"You are the wisest man I know, and stand in no need of advice from any
one. Great fools must they be who think they have anything to teach you.
But are we not at the Rue Saint Honore?"

"Yes, dear Athos."

"Look yonder, on the left, that small, long white house is the hotel
where I lodge. You may observe that it has but two stories; I occupy
the first; the other is let to an officer whose duties oblige him to be
absent eight or nine months in the year,--so I am in that house as in my
own home, without the expense."

"Oh! how well you manage, Athos! What order and what liberality! They
are what I wish to unite! But, of what use trying! that comes from
birth, and cannot be acquired."

"You are a flatterer! Well! adieu, dear friend. A propos, remember me to
Master Planchet; he was always a bright fellow."

"And a man of heart, too, Athos. Adieu."

And they separated. During all this conversation, D'Artagnan had not for
a moment lost sight of a certain pack-horse, in whose panniers,
under some hay, were spread the sacoches (messenger's bags) with the
portmanteau. Nine o'clock was striking at Saint-Merri. Planchet's helps
were shutting up his shop. D'Artagnan stopped the postilion who rode the
pack-horse, at the corner of the Rue des Lombards, under a penthouse,
and calling one of Planchet's boys, he desired him not only to take care
of the two horses, but to watch the postilion; after which he entered
the shop of the grocer, who had just finished supper, and who, in his
little private room, was, with a degree of anxiety, consulting the
calendar, on which, every evening, he scratched out the day that was
past. At the moment when Planchet, according to his daily custom, with
the back of his pen, erased another day, D'Artagnan kicked the door
with his foot, and the blow made his steel spur jingle. "Oh! good
Lord!" cried Planchet. The worthy grocer could say no more; he had just
perceived his partner. D'Artagnan entered with a bent back and a dull
eye: the Gascon had an idea with regard to Planchet.

"Good God!" thought the grocer, looking earnestly at the traveler, "he
looks sad!" The musketeer sat down.

"My dear Monsieur d'Artagnan!" said Planchet, with a horrible
palpitation of the heart. "Here you are! and your health?"

"Tolerably good, Planchet, tolerably good!" said D'Artagnan, with a
profound sigh.

"You have not been wounded, I hope?"

"Phew!"

"Ah, I see," continued Planchet, more and more alarmed, "the expedition
has been a trying one?"

"Yes," said D'Artagnan. A shudder ran down Planchet's back. "I should
like to have something to drink," said the musketeer, raising his head
piteously.

Planchet ran to the cupboard, and poured out to D'Artagnan some wine in
a large glass. D'Artagnan examined the bottle.

"What wine is that?" asked he.

"Alas! that which you prefer, monsieur," said Planchet; "that good old
Anjou wine, which was one day nearly costing us all so dear."

"Ah!" replied D'Artagnan, with a melancholy smile, "Ah! my poor
Planchet, ought I still to drink good wine?"

"Come! my dear master," said Planchet, making a superhuman effort,
whilst all his contracted muscles, his pallor, and his trembling,
betrayed the most acute anguish. "Come! I have been a soldier and
consequently have some courage; do not make me linger, dear Monsieur
d'Artagnan; our money is lost, is it not?"

Before he answered, D'Artagnan took his time, and that appeared an age
to the poor grocer. Nevertheless he did nothing but turn about on his
chair.

"And if that were the case," said he, slowly, moving his head up and
down, "if that were the case, what would you say, my dear friend?"

Planchet, from being pale, turned yellow. It might have been thought he
was going to swallow his tongue, so full became his throat, so red were
his eyes!

"Twenty thousand livres!" murmured he. "Twenty thousand livres, and
yet----"

D'Artagnan, with his neck elongated, his legs stretched out, and his
hands hanging listlessly, looked like a statue of discouragement.
Planchet drew up a sigh from the deepest cavities of his breast.

"Well," said he, "I see how it is. Let us be men! It is all over, is it
not? The principal thing is, monsieur, that your life is safe."

"Doubtless! doubtless!--life is something--but I am ruined!"

"Cordieu! monsieur!" said Planchet, "if it is so, we must not despair
for that; you shall become a grocer with me; I shall take you for my
partner, we will share the profits, and if there should be no more
profits, well, why then we shall share the almonds, raisins and prunes,
and we will nibble together the last quarter of Dutch cheese."

D'Artagnan could hold out no longer. "Mordioux!" cried he, with great
emotion, "thou art a brave fellow on my honor, Planchet. You have not
been playing a part, have you? You have not seen the pack-horse with the
bags under the shed yonder?"

"What horse? What bags?" said Planchet, whose trembling heart began to
suggest that D'Artagnan was mad.

"Why, the English bags, Mordioux!" said D'Artagnan, all radiant, quite
transfigured.

"Ah! good God!" articulated Planchet, drawing back before the dazzling
fire of his looks.

"Imbecile!" cried D'Artagnan, "you think me mad! Mordioux! On the
contrary, never was my head more clear, or my heart more joyous. To the
bags, Planchet, to the bags!"

"But to what bags, good heavens!"

D'Artagnan pushed Planchet towards the window.

"Under the shed yonder, don't you see a horse?"

"Yes."

"Don't you see how his back is laden?"

"Yes, yes!"

"Don't you see your lad talking with the postilion?"

"Yes, yes, yes!"

"Well, you know the name of that lad, because he is your own. Call him."

"Abdon! Abdon!" vociferated Planchet, from the window.

"Bring the horse!" shouted D'Artagnan.

"Bring the horse!" screamed Planchet.

"Now give ten crowns to the postilion," said D'Artagnan, in the tone he
would have employed in commanding a maneuver; "two lads to bring up the
two first bags, two to bring up the two last,--and move, Mordioux! be
lively!"

Planchet rushed down the stairs, as if the devil had been at his heels.
A moment later the lads ascended the staircase, bending beneath their
burden. D'Artagnan sent them off to their garrets, carefully closed the
door, and addressing Planchet, who, in his turn, looked a little wild,--

"Now, we are by ourselves," said he, and he spread upon the floor a
large cover, and emptied the first bag into it. Planchet did the same
with the second; then D'Artagnan, all in a tremble, let out the precious
bowels of the third with a knife. When Planchet heard the provoking
sound of the silver and gold--when he saw bubbling out of the bags the
shining crowns, which glittered like fish from the sweep-net--when he
felt himself plunging his hands up to the elbow in that still rising
tide of yellow and white coins, a giddiness seized him, and like a man
struck by lightning, he sank heavily down upon the enormous heap, which
his weight caused to roll away in all directions. Planchet, suffocated
with joy, had lost his senses. D'Artagnan threw a glass of white wine in
his face, which incontinently recalled him to life.

"Ah! good heavens! good heavens! good heavens!" said Planchet, wiping
his mustache and beard.

At that time, as they do now, grocers wore the cavalier mustache and the
lansquenet beard, only the money baths, already rare in those days, have
become almost unknown now.

"Mordieux!" said D'Artagnan, "there are a hundred thousand crowns for
you, partner. Draw your share, if you please, and I will draw mine."

"Oh! the lovely sum! Monsieur d'Artagnan, the lovely sum!"

"I confess that half an hour ago I regretted that I had to give you so
much, but I now no longer regret it; thou art a brave grocer, Planchet.
There, let us close our accounts, for, as they say, short reckonings
make long friends."

"Oh! rather, in the first place, tell me the whole history," said
Planchet; "that must be better than the money."

"Ma foi!" said D'Artagnan, stroking his mustache, "I can't say no, and
if ever the historian turns to me for information, he will be able
to say he has not dipped his bucket into a dry spring. Listen, then,
Planchet, I will tell you all about it."

"And I shall build piles of crowns," said Planchet. "Begin, my dear
master."

"Well, this is it," said D'Artagnan, drawing breath.

"And that is it," said Planchet, picking up his first handful of crowns.



CHAPTER 39. Mazarin's Gaming Party



In a large chamber of the Palais Royal, hung with a dark colored velvet,
which threw into strong relief the gilded frames of a great number
of magnificent pictures, on the evening of the arrival of the two
Frenchmen, the whole court was assembled before the alcove of M. le
Cardinal de Mazarin, who gave a card party to the king and queen.

A small screen separated three prepared tables. At one of these tables
the king and the two queens were seated. Louis XIV., placed opposite to
the young queen, his wife, smiled upon her with an expression of real
happiness. Anne of Austria held the cards against the cardinal, and her
daughter-in-law assisted her in the game, when she was not engaged in
smiling at her husband. As for the cardinal, who was lying on his bed
with a weary and careworn face, his cards were held by the Comtesse de
Soissons, and he watched them with an incessant look of interest and
cupidity.

The cardinal's face had been painted by Bernouin; but the rouge, which
glowed only on his cheeks, threw into stronger contrast the sickly
pallor of his countenance and the shining yellow of his brow. His eyes
alone acquired a more brilliant luster from this auxiliary, and upon
those sick man's eyes were, from time to time, turned the uneasy looks
of the king, the queen, and the courtiers. The fact is, that the two
eyes of the Signor Mazarin were the stars more or less brilliant in
which the France of the seventeenth century read its destiny every
evening and every morning.

Monseigneur neither won nor lost; he was, therefore neither gay nor
sad. It was a stagnation in which, full of pity for him, Anne of Austria
would not have willingly left him; but in order to attract the attention
of the sick man by some brilliant stroke, she must have either won
or lost. To win would have been dangerous, because Mazarin would have
changed his indifference into an ugly grimace; to lose would likewise
have been dangerous, because she must have cheated, and the infanta,
who watched her game, would, doubtless, have exclaimed against her
partiality for Mazarin. Profiting by this calm, the courtiers were
chatting. When not in a bad humor, M. de Mazarin was a very debonnaire
prince, and he, who prevented nobody from singing, provided they paid,
was not tyrant enough to prevent people from talking, provided they made
up their minds to lose.

They were therefore chatting. At the first table, the king's younger
brother, Philip, Duc d'Anjou, was admiring his handsome face in the
glass of a box. His favorite, the Chevalier de Lorraine, leaning over
the back of the prince's chair, was listening, with secret envy, to
the Comte de Guiche, another of Philip's favorites, who was relating in
choice terms the various vicissitudes of fortune of the royal adventurer
Charles II. He told, as so many fabulous events, all the history of his
perigrinations in Scotland, and his terrors when the enemy's party was
so closely on his track, of nights spent in trees, and days spent
in hunger and combats. By degrees, the fate of the unfortunate king
interested his auditors so greatly, that the play languished even at the
royal table, and the young king, with a pensive look and downcast eye,
followed, without appearing to give any attention to it, the smallest
details of this Odyssey, very picturesquely related by the Comte de
Guiche.

The Comtesse de Soissons interrupted the narrator: "Confess, count, you
are inventing."

"Madame, I am repeating like a parrot all the stories related to me by
different Englishmen. To my shame I am compelled to say, I am as exact
as a copy."

"Charles II. would have died before he could have endured all that."

Louis XIV. raised his intelligent and proud head. "Madame," said he, in
a grave tone, still partaking something of the timid child, "monsieur
le cardinal will tell you that during my minority the affairs of France
were in jeopardy,--and that if I had been older, and obliged to take
sword in hand, it would sometimes have been for the evening meal."

"Thanks to God," said the cardinal, who spoke for the first time, "your
majesty exaggerates, and your supper has always been ready with that of
your servants."

The king colored.

"Oh!" cried Philip, inconsiderately, from his place, and without ceasing
to admire himself,--"I recollect once, at Melun, the supper was laid
for nobody, and that the king ate two-thirds of a slice of bread, and
abandoned to me the other third."

The whole assembly, seeing Mazarin smile, began to laugh. Courtiers
flatter kings with the remembrance of past distresses, as with the hopes
of future good fortune.

"It is not to be denied that the crown of France has always remained
firm upon the heads of its kings," Anne of Austria hastened to say,
"and that it has fallen off of that of the king of England; and when by
chance that crown oscillated a little,--for there are throne-quakes as
well as earthquakes,--every time, I say, that rebellion threatened it, a
good victory restored tranquillity."

"With a few gems added to the crown," said Mazarin.

The Comte de Guiche was silent: the king composed his countenance, and
Mazarin exchanged looks with Anne of Austria, as if to thank her for her
intervention.

"It is of no consequence," said Philip, smoothing his hair; "my cousin
Charles is not handsome, but he is very brave, and fought like a
landsknecht; and if he continues to fight thus, no doubt he will finish
by gaining a battle, like Rocroy----"

"He has no soldiers," interrupted the Chevalier de Lorraine.

"The king of Holland, his ally, will give him some. I would willingly
have given him some if I had been king of France."

Louis XIV. blushed excessively. Mazarin affected to be more attentive to
his game than ever.

"By this time," resumed the Comte de Guiche, "the fortune of this
unhappy prince is decided. If he has been deceived by Monk, he is
ruined. Imprisonment, perhaps death, will finish what exile, battles,
and privations have commenced."

Mazarin's brow became clouded.

"Is it certain," said Louis XIV. "that his majesty Charles II., has
quitted the Hague?"

"Quite certain, your majesty," replied the young man; "my father has
received a letter containing all the details; it is even known that the
king has landed at Dover; some fishermen saw him entering the port; the
rest is still a mystery."

"I should like to know the rest," said Philip, impetuously. "You
know,--you, my brother."

Louis XIV. colored again. That was the third time within an hour. "Ask
my lord cardinal," replied he, in a tone which made Mazarin, Anne of
Austria, and everybody else open their eyes.

"That means, my son," said Anne of Austria, laughing, "that the king
does not like affairs of state to be talked of out of the council."

Philip received the reprimand with good grace, and bowed, first smiling
at his brother, and then his mother. But Mazarin saw from the corner of
his eye that a group was about to be formed in the corner of the room,
and that the Duc d'Anjou, with the Comte de Guiche, and the Chevalier de
Lorraine, prevented from talking aloud, might say, in a whisper, what
it was not convenient should be said. He was beginning, then, to dart at
them glances full of mistrust and uneasiness, inviting Anne of Austria
to throw perturbation in the midst of the unlawful assembly, when,
suddenly, Bernouin, entering from behind the tapestry of the bedroom,
whispered in the ear of Mazarin, "Monseigneur, an envoy from his
majesty, the king of England."

Mazarin could not help exhibiting a slight emotion, which was perceived
by the king. To avoid being indiscreet, rather than to appear useless,
Louis XIV. rose immediately, and approaching his eminence, wished him
good-night. All the assembly had risen with a great noise of rolling of
chairs and tables being pushed away.

"Let everybody depart by degrees," said Mazarin in a whisper to Louis
XIV., "and be so good as to excuse me a few minutes. I am going to
dispatch an affair about which I wish to converse with your majesty this
very evening."

"And the queens?" asked Louis XIV.

"And M. le Duc d'Anjou," said his eminence.

At the same time he turned round in his ruelle, the curtains of which,
in falling, concealed the bed. The cardinal, nevertheless, did not lose
sight of the conspirators.

"M. le Comte de Guiche," said he, in a fretful voice, whilst putting on,
behind the curtain, his dressing-gown, with the assistance of Bernouin.

"I am here, my lord," said the young man, as he approached.

"Take my cards, you are lucky. Win a little money for me of these
gentlemen."

"Yes, my lord."

The young man sat down at the table from which the king withdrew to talk
with the two queens. A serious game was commenced between the comte
and several rich courtiers. In the meantime Philip was discussing the
questions of dress with the Chevalier de Lorraine, and they had ceased
to hear the rustling of the cardinal's silk robe from behind the
curtain. His eminence had followed Bernouin into the closet adjoining
the bedroom.



CHAPTER 40. An Affair of State



The cardinal, on passing into his cabinet, found the Comte de la Fere,
who was waiting for him, engaged in admiring a very fine Raphael placed
over a sideboard covered with plate. His eminence came in softly,
lightly, and silently as a shadow, and surprised the countenance of the
comte, as he was accustomed to do, pretending to divine by the simple
expression of the face of his interlocutor what would be the result of
the conversation.

But this time Mazarin was foiled in his expectation: he read nothing
upon the face of Athos, not even the respect he was accustomed to see on
all faces. Athos was dressed in black, with a simple lacing of silver.
He wore the Holy Ghost, the Garter, and the Golden Fleece, three orders
of such importance, that a king alone, or else a player, could wear them
at once.

Mazarin rummaged a long time in his somewhat troubled memory to recall
the name he ought to give to this icy figure, but he did not succeed. "I
am told," said he, at length, "you have a message from England for me."

And he sat down, dismissing Bernouin, who, in his quality of secretary,
was getting his pen ready.

"On the part of his majesty, the king of England, yes, your eminence."

"You speak very good French for an Englishman monsieur," said Mazarin,
graciously, looking through his fingers at the Holy Ghost, Garter, and
Golden Fleece, but more particularly at the face of the messenger.

"I am not an Englishman, but a Frenchman, monsieur le cardinal," replied
Athos.

"It is remarkable that the king of England should choose a Frenchman for
his ambassador; it is an excellent augury. Your name, monsieur, if you
please."

"Comte de la Fere," replied Athos, bowing more slightly than the
ceremonial and pride of the all-powerful minister required.

Mazarin bent his shoulders, as if to say:--

"I do not know that name."

Athos did not alter his carriage.

"And you come, monsieur," continued Mazarin, "to tell me----"

"I come on the part of his majesty the king of Great Britain to announce
to the king of France"--Mazarin frowned--"to announce to the king of
France," continued Athos, imperturbably, "the happy restoration of his
majesty Charles II. to the throne of his ancestors."

This shade did not escape his cunning eminence. Mazarin was too much
accustomed to mankind, not to see in the cold and almost haughty
politeness of Athos, an index of hostility, which was not of the
temperature of that hot-house called a court.

"You have powers. I suppose?" asked Mazarin, in a short, querulous tone.

"Yes, monseigneur." And the word "monseigneur" came so painfully from
the lips of Athos that it might be said it skinned them.

Athos took from an embroidered velvet bag which he carried under his
doublet a dispatch. The cardinal held out his hand for it. "Your pardon,
monseigneur," said Athos. "My dispatch is for the king."

"Since you are a Frenchman, monsieur, you ought to know the position of
a prime minister at the court of France."

"There was a time," replied Athos, "when I occupied myself with the
importance of prime ministers, but I have formed, long ago, a resolution
to treat no longer with any but the king."

"Then, monsieur," said Mazarin, who began to be irritated, "you will
neither see the minister nor the king."

Mazarin rose. Athos replaced his dispatch in its bag, bowed gravely, and
made several steps towards the door. This coolness exasperated Mazarin.
"What strange diplomatic proceedings are these!" cried he. "Have we
returned to the times when Cromwell sent us bullies in the guise of
charges d'affaires? You want nothing monsieur, but the steel cap on your
head, and a Bible at your girdle."

"Monsieur," said Athos, dryly, "I have never had, as you have, the
advantage of treating with Cromwell; and I have only seen his charges
d'affaires sword in hand, I am therefore ignorant of how he treated with
prime ministers. As for the king of England, Charles II., I know that
when he writes to his majesty King Louis XIV., he does not write to his
eminence the Cardinal Mazarin. I see no diplomacy in that distinction."

"Ah!" cried Mazarin, raising his attenuated hand and striking his head,
"I remember now!" Athos looked at him in astonishment. "Yes, that is
it!" said the cardinal, continuing to look at his interlocutor; "yes,
that is certainly it. I know you now, monsieur. Ah! diavolo! I am no
longer astonished."

"In fact, I was astonished that, with your eminence's excellent memory,"
replied Athos, smiling, "you had not recognized me before."

"Always refractory and grumbling--monsieur--monsieur--What do they call
you? Stop--a name of a river--Potamos; no--the name of an island--Naxos;
no, per Giove!--the name of a mountain--Athos! now I have it. Delighted
to see you again, and to be no longer at Rueil, where you and your
damned companions made me pay ransom. Fronde! still Fronde! accursed
Fronde! Oh, what grudges! Why, monsieur, have your antipathies survived
mine? If any one had cause to complain, I think it could not be you, who
got out of the affair not only in a sound skin, but with the cordon of
the Holy Ghost around your neck."

"My lord cardinal," replied Athos, "permit me not to enter into
considerations of that kind. I have a mission to fulfill. Will you
facilitate the means of my fulfilling that mission, or will you not?"

"I am astonished," said Mazarin,--quite delighted at having
recovered his memory, and bristling with malice--"I am astonished,
Monsieur--Athos--that a Frondeur like you should have accepted a mission
for the Mazarin, as used to be said in the good old times----" And
Mazarin began to laugh, in spite of a painful cough, which cut short his
sentences, converting them into sobs.

"I have only accepted the mission near the king of France, monsieur le
cardinal," retorted the comte, though with less asperity, for he thought
he had sufficiently the advantage to show himself moderate.

"And yet, Monsieur le Frondeur," said Mazarin gayly, "the affair which
you have taken in charge must, from the king----"

"With which I have been given in charge, monseigneur. I do not run after
affairs."

"Be it so. I say that this negotiation must pass through my hands. Let
us lose no precious time, then. Tell me the conditions."

"I have had the honor of assuring your eminence that only the letter of
his majesty King Charles II. contains the revelation of his wishes."

"Pooh! you are ridiculous with your obstinacy, Monsieur Athos. It is
plain you have kept company with the Puritans yonder. As to your secret,
I know it better than you do; and you have done wrongly, perhaps, in
not having shown some respect for a very old and suffering man, who
has labored much during his life, and kept the field for his ideas as
bravely as you have for yours. You will not communicate your letter to
me? You will say nothing to me? Very well! Come with me into my chamber;
you shall speak to the king--and before the king.--Now, then, one last
word: who gave you the Fleece? I remember you passed for having the
Garter; but as to the Fleece, I do not know----"

"Recently, my lord, Spain, on the occasion of the marriage of his
majesty Louis XIV., sent King Charles II. a brevet of the Fleece in
blank, Charles II. immediately transmitted it to me, filling up the
blank with my name."

Mazarin arose, and leaning on the arm of Bernouin, he returned to his
ruelle at the moment the name of M. le Prince was being announced. The
Prince de Conde, the first prince of the blood, the conqueror of Rocroy,
Lens and Nordlingen, was, in fact, entering the apartment of Monseigneur
de Mazarin, followed by his gentlemen, and had already saluted the king,
when the prime minister raised his curtain. Athos had time to see Raoul
pressing the hand of the Comte de Guiche, and send him a smile in
return for his respectful bow. He had time, likewise, to see the radiant
countenance of the cardinal, when he perceived before him, upon the
table, an enormous heap of gold, which the Comte de Guiche had won in
a run of luck, after his eminence had confided his cards to him. So
forgetting ambassador, embassy and prince, his first thought was of the
gold. "What!" cried the old man--"all that--won?"

"Some fifty thousand crowns; yes, monseigneur!" replied the Comte de
Guiche, rising. "Must I give up my place to your eminence, or shall I
continue?"

"Give up! give up! you are mad. You would lose all you have won. Peste!"

"My lord!" said the Prince de Conde, bowing.

"Good-evening, monsieur le prince," said the minister, in a careless
tone; "it is very kind of you to visit an old sick friend."

"A friend!" murmured the Comte de la Fere, at witnessing with stupor
this monstrous alliance of words;--"friends! when the parties are Conde
and Mazarin!"

Mazarin seemed to divine the thought of the Frondeur, for he smiled upon
him with triumph, and immediately,--"Sire," said he to the king, "I have
the honor of presenting to your majesty, Monsieur le Comte de la Fere,
ambassador from his Britannic majesty. An affair of state, gentlemen,"
added he, waving his hand to all who filled the chamber, and who, the
Prince de Conde at their head, all disappeared at the simple gesture.
Raoul, after a last look cast at the comte, followed M. de Conde. Philip
of Anjou and the queen appeared to be consulting about departing.

"A family affair," said Mazarin, suddenly, detaining them in their
seats. "This gentleman is the bearer of a letter in which King Charles
II., completely restored to his throne, demands an alliance between
Monsieur, the brother of the king, and Mademoiselle Henrietta,
grand-daughter of Henry IV. Will you remit your letter of credit to the
king, monsieur le comte?"

Athos remained for a minute stupefied. How could the minister possibly
know the contents of the letter which had never been out of his keeping
for a single instant? Nevertheless, always master of himself, he held
out the dispatch to the young king, Louis XIV., who took it with a
blush. A solemn silence reigned in the cardinal's chamber. It was only
troubled by the dull sound of the gold, which Mazarin with his yellow
dry hand, piled up in a casket, whilst the king was reading.



CHAPTER 41. The Recital



The maliciousness of the cardinal did not leave much for the ambassador
to say; nevertheless, the word "restoration" had struck the king,
who, addressing the comte, upon whom his eyes had been fixed since his
entrance,--"Monsieur," said he, "will you have the kindness to give
us some details concerning the affairs of England. You come from that
country, you are a Frenchman, and the orders which I see glittering
upon your person announce you to be a man of merit as well as a man of
quality."

"Monsieur," said the cardinal, turning towards the queen-mother, "is an
ancient servant of your majesty's, Monsieur le Comte de la Fere."

Anne of Austria was as oblivious as a queen whose life had been mingled
with fine and stormy days. She looked at Mazarin, whose evil smile
promised her something disagreeable; then she solicited from Athos, by
another look, an explanation.

"Monsieur," continued the cardinal, "was a Treville musketeer, in the
service of the late king. Monsieur is well acquainted with England,
whither he has made several voyages at various periods; he is a subject
of the highest merit."

These words made allusion to all the memories which Anne of Austria
trembled to evoke. England, that was her hatred of Richelieu and her
love for Buckingham; a Treville musketeer, that was the whole Odyssey of
the triumphs which had made the heart of the young woman throb, and of
the dangers which had been so near overturning the throne of the young
queen. These words had much power, for they rendered mute and attentive
all the royal personages, who, with very various sentiments, set about
recomposing at the same time the mysteries which the young had not seen,
and which the old had believed to be forever effaced.

"Speak, monsieur," said Louis XIV., the first to escape from troubles,
suspicions, and remembrances.

"Yes, speak," added Mazarin, to whom the little malicious thrust
directed against Anne of Austria had restored energy and gayety.

"Sire," said the comte, "a sort of miracle has changed the whole destiny
of Charles II. That which men, till that time, had been unable to do,
God resolved to accomplish."

Mazarin coughed while tossing about in his bed.

"King Charles II.," continued Athos, "left the Hague neither as a
fugitive nor a conqueror, but as an absolute king, who, after a distant
voyage from his kingdom, returns amidst universal benedictions."

"A great miracle, indeed," said Mazarin; "for, if the news was true,
King Charles II., who has just returned amidst benedictions, went away
amidst musket-shots."

The king remained impassible. Philip, younger and more frivolous, could
not repress a smile, which flattered Mazarin as an applause of his
pleasantry.

"It is plain," said the king, "there is a miracle; but God, who does so
much for kings, monsieur le comte, nevertheless employs the hand of man
to bring about the triumph of His designs. To what men does Charles II.
principally owe his re-establishment?"

"Why," interrupted Mazarin, without any regard for the king's
pride--"does not your majesty know that it is to M. Monk?"

"I ought to know it," replied Louis XIV., resolutely; "and yet I ask my
lord ambassador the causes of the change in this General Monk?"

"And your majesty touches precisely the question," replied Athos, "for
without the miracle of which I have had the honor to speak, General
Monk would probably have remained an implacable enemy of Charles II. God
willed that a strange, bold, and ingenious idea should enter into
the mind of a certain man, whilst a devoted and courageous idea took
possession of the mind of another man. The combinations of these two
ideas brought about such a change in the position of M. Monk, that, from
an inveterate enemy, he became a friend to the deposed king."

"These are exactly the details I asked for," said the king. "Who and
what are the two men of whom you speak?"

"Two Frenchmen, sire."

"Indeed! I am glad of that."

"And the two ideas," said Mazarin;--"I am more curious about ideas than
about men, for my part."

"Yes," murmured the king.

"The second idea, the devoted, reasonable idea--the least important,
sir--was to go and dig up a million in gold, buried by King Charles I.
at Newcastle, and to purchase with that gold the adherence of Monk."

"Oh, oh!" said Mazarin, reanimated by the word million. "But Newcastle
was at the time occupied by Monk."

"Yes, monsieur le cardinal, and that is why I venture to call the idea
courageous as well as devoted. It was necessary, if Monk refused the
offers of the negotiator, to reinstate King Charles II. in possession of
this million, which was to be torn, as it were, from the loyalty and
not the royalism of General Monk. This was effected in spite of many
difficulties: the general proved to be loyal, and allowed the money to
be taken away."

"It seems to me," said the timid, thoughtful king, "that Charles II.
could not have known of this million whilst he was in Paris."

"It seems to me," rejoined the cardinal, maliciously, "that his majesty
the king of Great Britain knew perfectly well of this million, but that
he preferred having two millions to having one."

"Sire," said Athos, firmly, "the king of England, whilst in France, was
so poor that he had not even money to take the post; so destitute of
hope that he frequently thought of dying. He was so entirely ignorant of
the existence of the million at Newcastle, that but for a gentleman--one
of your majesty's subjects--the moral depositary of the million, who
revealed the secret to King Charles II., that prince would still be
vegetating in the most cruel forgetfulness."

"Let us pass on to the strange, bold and ingenious idea," interrupted
Mazarin, whose sagacity foresaw a check. "What was that idea?"

"This--M. Monk formed the only obstacle to the re-establishment of
the fallen king. A Frenchman imagined the idea of suppressing this
obstacle."

"Oh! oh! but he is a scoundrel, that Frenchman," said Mazarin, "and the
idea is not so ingenious as to prevent its author being tied up by the
neck at the Place de Greve, by decree of the parliament."

"Your eminence is mistaken," replied Athos, dryly; "I did not say that
the Frenchman in question had resolved to assassinate M. Monk, but only
to suppress him. The words of the French language have a value which the
gentlemen of France know perfectly. Besides, this is an affair of
war; and when men serve kings against their enemies they are not to be
condemned by a parliament--God is their judge. This French gentleman,
then, formed the idea of gaining possession of the person of Monk, and
he executed his plan."

The king became animated at the recital of great actions. The king's
younger brother struck the table with his hand, exclaiming, "Ah! that is
fine!"

"He carried off Monk?" said the king. "Why, Monk was in his camp."

"And the gentleman was alone, sire."

"That is marvelous!" said Philip.

"Marvelous, indeed!" cried the king.

"Good! There are the two little lions unchained," murmured the cardinal.
And with an air of spite, which he did not dissemble: "I am unacquainted
with these details, will you guarantee their authenticity, monsieur?"

"All the more easily, my lord cardinal, from having seen the events."

"You have?"

"Yes, monseigneur."

The king had involuntarily drawn close to the count, the Duc d'Anjou had
turned sharply round, and pressed Athos on the other side.

"What next? monsieur, what next?" cried they both at the same time.

"Sire, M. Monk, being taken by the Frenchman, was brought to King
Charles II., at the Hague. The king gave back his freedom to Monk, and
the grateful general, in return, gave Charles II. the throne of Great
Britain, for which so many valiant men had fought in vain."

Philip clapped his hands with enthusiasm; Louis XIV., more reflective,
turned towards the Comte de la Fere.

"Is this true," said he, "in all its details?"

"Absolutely true, sire."

"That one of my gentlemen knew the secret of the million, and kept it?"

"Yes, sire."

"The name of that gentleman?"

"It was your humble servant," said Athos, simply, and bowing.

A murmur of admiration made the heart of Athos swell with pleasure. He
had reason to be proud, at least. Mazarin, himself, had raised his arms
towards heaven.

"Monsieur," said the king, "I shall seek, and find means to reward you."
Athos made a movement. "Oh, not for your honesty, to be paid for that
would humiliate you, but I owe you a reward for having participated in
the restoration of my brother, King Charles II."

"Certainly," said Mazarin.

"It is the triumph of a good cause which fills the whole house of France
with joy," said Anne of Austria.

"I continue," said Louis XIV. "Is it also true that a single man
penetrated to Monk, in his camp, and carried him off?"

"That man had ten auxiliaries, taken from a very inferior rank."

"And nothing but them?"

"Nothing more."

"And he is named?"

"Monsieur d'Artagnan, formerly lieutenant of the musketeers of your
majesty."

Anne of Austria colored; Mazarin became yellow with shame; Louis XIV.
was deeply thoughtful, and a drop of moisture fell from his pale brow.
"What men!" murmured he. And, involuntarily, he darted a glance at the
minister which would have terrified him, if Mazarin, at the moment, had
not concealed his head under his pillow.

"Monsieur," said the young Duc d'Anjou, placing his hand, delicate and
white as that of a woman, upon the arm of Athos, "tell that brave man,
I beg you, that Monsieur, brother of the king, will to-morrow drink his
health before five hundred of the best gentlemen of France." And, on
finishing these words, the young man, perceiving that his enthusiasm had
deranged one of his ruffles, set to work to put it to rights with the
greatest care imaginable.

"Let us resume business, sire," interrupted Mazarin who never was
enthusiastic, and who wore no ruffles.

"Yes, monsieur," replied Louis XIV. "Pursue your communication, monsieur
le comte," added he, turning towards Athos.

Athos immediately began and offered in due form the hand of the Princess
Henrietta Stuart to the young prince, the king's brother. The conference
lasted an hour; after which the doors of the chamber were thrown open to
the courtiers, who resumed their places as if nothing had been kept from
them in the occupations of that evening. Athos then found himself again
with Raoul, and the father and son were able to clasp each other's
hands.



CHAPTER 42. In which Mazarin becomes Prodigal



Whilst Mazarin was endeavoring to recover from the serious alarm he
had just experienced, Athos and Raoul were exchanging a few words in
a corner of the apartment. "Well, here you are at Paris, then, Raoul?"
said the comte.

"Yes, monsieur, since the return of M. le Prince."

"I cannot converse freely with you here, because we are observed; but I
shall return home presently, and shall expect you as soon as your duty
permits."

Raoul bowed, and, at that moment, M. le Prince came up to them. The
prince had that clear and keen look which distinguishes birds of prey
of the noble species; his physiognomy itself presented several distinct
traits of this resemblance. It is known that in the Prince de Conde,
the aquiline nose rose out sharply and incisively from a brow slightly
retreating, rather low than high, and according to the railers of the
court,--a pitiless race even for genius,--constituted rather an eagle's
beak than a human nose, in the heir of the illustrious princes of the
house of Conde. This penetrating look, this imperious expression of the
whole countenance generally disturbed those to whom the prince spoke,
more than either majesty or regular beauty could have done in the
conqueror of Rocroy. Besides this, the fire mounted so suddenly to his
projecting eyes, that with the prince every sort of animation resembled
passion. Now, on account of his rank, everybody at the court respected
M. le Prince, and many even, seeing only the man, carried their respect
as far as terror.

Louis de Conde then advanced towards the Comte de la Fere and Raoul,
with the marked intention of being saluted by the one, and of speaking
to the other. No man bowed with more reserved grace than the Comte de
la Fere. He disdained to put into a salutation all the shades which a
courtier ordinarily borrows from the same color--the desire to please.
Athos knew his own personal value, and bowed to the prince like a man,
correcting by something sympathetic and undefinable that which might
have appeared offensive to the pride of the highest rank in the
inflexibility of his attitude. The prince was about to speak to Raoul.
Athos forestalled him. "If M. le Vicomte de Bragelonne," said he, "were
not one of the humble servants of your royal highness, I would beg him
to pronounce my name before you--mon prince."

"I have the honor to address Monsieur le Comte de la Fere," said Conde
instantly.

"My protector," added Raoul, blushing.

"One of the most honorable men in the kingdom," continued the prince;
"one of the first gentlemen of France, and of whom I have heard so much
that I have frequently desired to number him among my friends."

"An honour of which I should be unworthy," replied Athos, "but for the
respect and admiration I entertain for your royal highness."

"Monsieur de Bragelonne," said the prince, "is a good officer, and it is
plainly seen that he has been to a good school. Ah, monsieur le comte,
in your time, generals had soldiers!"

"That is true, my lord, but nowadays soldiers have generals."

This compliment, which savored so little of flattery, gave a thrill of
joy to the man whom already Europe considered a hero; and who might be
thought to be satiated with praise.

"I regret very much," continued the prince, "that you should have
retired from the service, monsieur le comte, for it is more than
probable that the king will soon have a war with Holland or England, and
opportunities for distinguishing himself would not be wanting for a man
who, like you, knows Great Britain as well as you do France."

"I believe I may say, monseigneur, that I have acted wisely in retiring
from the service," said Athos, smiling. "France and Great Britain will
henceforward live like two sisters, if I can trust my presentiments."

"Your presentiments?"

"Stop, monseigneur, listen to what is being said yonder, at the table of
my lord the cardinal."

"Where they are playing?"

"Yes, my lord."

The cardinal had just raised himself on one elbow, and made a sign to
the king's brother, who went to him.

"My lord," said the cardinal, "pick up, if you please, all those gold
crowns." And he pointed to the enormous pile of yellow and glittering
pieces which the Comte de Guiche had raised by degrees before him by a
surprising run of luck at play.

"For me?" cried the Duc d'Anjou.

"Those fifty thousand crowns; yes, monseigneur, they are yours."

"Do you give them to me?"

"I have been playing on your account, monseigneur," replied the
cardinal, getting weaker and weaker, as if this effort of giving money
had exhausted all his physical and moral faculties.

"Oh, good heavens!" exclaimed Philip, wild with joy, "what a fortunate
day!" And he himself, making a rake of his fingers, drew a part of the
sum into his pockets, which he filled, and still full a third remained
on the table.

"Chevalier," said Philip to his favorite, the Chevalier de Lorraine,
"come hither, chevalier." The favorite quickly obeyed. "Pocket the
rest," said the young prince.

This singular scene was considered by the persons present only as a
touching kind of family fete. The cardinal assumed the airs of a father
with the sons of France, and the two young princes had grown up under
his wing. No one then imputed to pride, or even impertinence, as would
be done nowadays, this liberality on the part of the first minister. The
courtiers were satisfied with envying the prince.--The king turned away
his head.

"I never had so much money before," said the young prince, joyously,
as he crossed the chamber with his favorite to go to his carriage. "No,
never! What a weight these crowns are!"

"But why has monsieur le cardinal given all this money at once?" asked
M. le Prince of the Comte de la Fere. "He must be very ill, the dear
cardinal!"

"Yes, my lord, very ill; without doubt; he looks very ill, as your royal
highness may perceive."

"But surely he will die of it. A hundred and fifty thousand crowns! Oh,
it is incredible! But, comte tell me a reason for it?"

"Patience, monseigneur, I beg of you. Here comes M. le Duc d'Anjou,
talking with the Chevalier de Lorraine; I should not be surprised if
they spared us the trouble of being indiscreet. Listen to them."

In fact the chevalier said to the prince in a low voice, "My lord, it
is not natural for M. Mazarin to give you so much money. Take care! you
will let some of the pieces fall, my lord. What design has the cardinal
upon you to make him so generous?"

"As I said," whispered Athos in the prince's ear; "that, perhaps, is the
best reply to your question."

"Tell me, my lord," repeated the chevalier impatiently, as he was
calculating, by weighing them in his pocket, the quota of the sum which
had fallen to his share by rebound.

"My dear chevalier, a wedding present."

"How a wedding present?"

"Eh! yes, I am going to be married," replied the Duc d'Anjou, without
perceiving, at the moment, he was passing the prince and Athos, who both
bowed respectfully.

The chevalier darted at the young duke a glance so strange, and so
malicious, that the Comte de la Fere quite started on beholding it.

"You! you to be married!" repeated he; "oh! that's impossible. You would
not commit such a folly!"

"Bah! I don't do it myself; I am made to do it," replied the Duc
d'Anjou. "But come, quick! let us get rid of our money." Thereupon he
disappeared with his companion, laughing and talking, whilst all heads
were bowed on his passage.

"Then," whispered the prince to Athos, "that is the secret."

"It was not I that told you so, my lord."

"He is to marry the sister of Charles II.?"

"I believe so."

The prince reflected for a moment, and his eye shot forth one of its not
unfrequent flashes. "Humph!" said he slowly, as if speaking to himself;
"our swords are once more to be hung on the wall--for a long time!" and
he sighed.

All that sigh contained of ambition silently stifled, of extinguished
illusions and disappointed hopes, Athos alone divined, for he alone had
heard that sigh. Immediately after, the prince took leave and the king
left the apartment. Athos, by a sign made to Bragelonne, renewed the
desire he had expressed at the beginning of the scene. By degrees the
chamber was deserted, and Mazarin was left alone, a prey to suffering
which he could no longer dissemble. "Bernouin! Bernouin!" cried he, in a
broken voice.

"What does monseigneur want?"

"Guenaud--let Guenaud be sent for," said his eminence. "I think I'm
dying."

Bernouin, in great terror, rushed into the cabinet to give the order,
and the piqueur, who hastened to fetch the physician, passed the king's
carriage in the Rue Saint Honore.



CHAPTER 43. Guenaud



The cardinal's order was pressing; Guenaud quickly obeyed it. He found
his patient stretched on his bed, his legs swelled, his face livid, and
his stomach collapsed. Mazarin had a severe attack of gout. He suffered
tortures with the impatience of a man who has not been accustomed to
resistances. On seeing Guenaud: "Ah!" said he; "now I am saved!"

Guenaud was a very learned and circumspect man, who stood in no need of
the critiques of Boileau to obtain a reputation. When facing a disease,
if it were personified in a king, he treated the patient as a Turk
treats a Moor. He did not, therefore, reply to Mazarin as the minister
expected: "Here is the doctor; good-bye disease!" On the contrary, on
examining his patient, with a very serious air:

"Oh! oh!" said he.

"Eh! what! Guenaud! How you look at me!"

"I look as I should on seeing your complaint, my lord; it is a very
dangerous one."

"The gout--oh! yes, the gout."

"With complications, my lord"

Mazarin raised himself upon his elbow, and, questioning by look and
gesture: "What do you mean by that? Am I worse than I believe myself to
be?"

"My lord," said Guenaud, seating himself beside the bed, "your eminence
has worked very hard during your life; your eminence has suffered much."

"But I am not old, I fancy. The late M. de Richelieu was but seventeen
months younger than I am when he died, and died of a mortal disease. I
am young, Guenaud: remember, I am scarcely fifty-two."

"Oh! my lord, you are much more than that. How long did the Fronde
last?"

"For what purpose do you put such a question to me?"

"For a medical calculation, monseigneur."

"Well, some ten years--off and on."

"Very well, be kind enough to reckon every year of the Fronde as three
years--that makes thirty; now twenty and fifty-two makes seventy-two
years. You are seventy-two, my lord; and that is a great age."

Whilst saying this, he felt the pulse of his patient. This pulse
was full of such fatal indications, that the physician continued,
notwithstanding the interruptions of the patient: "Put down the years of
the Fronde at four each, and you have lived eighty-two years."

"Are you speaking seriously, Guenaud?"

"Alas! yes, monseigneur."

"You take a roundabout way, then, to inform me that I am very ill?"

"Ma foi! yes, my lord, and with a man of the mind and courage of your
eminence, it ought not to be necessary to do."

The cardinal breathed with such difficulty that he inspired pity even
in a pitiless physician. "There are diseases and diseases," resumed
Mazarin. "From some of them people escape."

"That is true, my lord."

"Is it not?" cried Mazarin, almost joyously; "for, in short, what else
would be the use of power, of strength of will? What would the use of
genius be--your genius, Guenaud? What would be the use of science and
art, if the patient, who disposes of all that, cannot be saved from
peril?"

Guenaud was about to open his mouth, but Mazarin continued:

"Remember," said he, "I am the most confiding of your patients; remember
I obey you blindly, and that consequently----"

"I know all that," said Guenaud.

"I shall be cured, then?"

"Monseigneur, there is neither strength of will, nor power, nor genius,
nor science that can resist a disease which God doubtless sends, or
which He casts upon the earth at the creation, with full power to
destroy and kill mankind. When the disease is mortal, it kills, and
nothing can----"

"Is--my--disease--mortal?" asked Mazarin.

"Yes, my lord."

His eminence sank down for a moment, like an unfortunate wretch who is
crushed by a falling column. But the spirit of Mazarin was a strong one,
or rather his mind was a firm one. "Guenaud," said he, recovering from
his first shock, "you will permit me to appeal from your judgment. I
will call together the most learned men of Europe: I will consult them.
I will live, in short, by the virtue of I care not what remedy."

"My lord must not suppose," said Guenaud, "that I have the presumption
to pronounce alone upon an existence so valuable as yours. I have
already assembled all the good physicians and practitioners of France
and Europe. There were twelve of them."

"And they said----"

"They said that your eminence was suffering from a mortal disease; I
have the consultation signed in my portfolio. If your eminence will
please to see it, you will find the names of all the incurable diseases
we have met with. There is first----"

"No, no!" cried Mazarin, pushing away the paper. "No, no, Guenaud,
I yield! I yield!" And a profound silence, during which the cardinal
resumed his senses and recovered his strength, succeeded to the
agitation of this scene. "There is another thing," murmured Mazarin;
"there are empirics and charlatans. In my country, those whom physicians
abandon run the chance of a quack, who kills them ten times but saves
them a hundred times."

"Has not your eminence observed, that during the last month I have
changed my remedies ten times?"

"Yes. Well?"

"Well, I have spent fifty thousand crowns in purchasing the secrets of
all these fellows: the list is exhausted, and so is my purse. You are
not cured; and but for my art, you would be dead."

"That ends it!" murmured the cardinal; "that ends it." And he threw a
melancholy look upon the riches which surrounded him. "And must I quit
all that?" sighed he. "I am dying, Guenaud! I am dying!"

"Oh! not yet, my lord," said the physician.

Mazarin seized his hand. "In what time?" asked he, fixing his two large
eyes upon the impassible countenance of the physician.

"My lord, we never tell that."

"To ordinary men, perhaps not;--but to me--to me, whose every minute is
worth a treasure. Tell me, Guenaud, tell me!"

"No, no, my lord."

"I insist upon it, I tell you. Oh! give me a month and for every one of
those thirty days I will pay you a hundred thousand crowns."

"My lord," replied Guenaud, in a firm voice, "it is God who can give you
days of grace, and not I. God only allows you a fortnight."

The cardinal breathed a painful sigh, and sank back upon his pillow,
murmuring, "Thank you, Guenaud, thank you!"

The physician was about to depart; the dying man, raising himself up:
"Silence!" said he, with flaming eyes, "silence!"

"My lord, I have known this secret two months; you see that I have kept
it faithfully."

"Go, Guenaud, I will take care of your fortunes, go and tell Brienne to
send me a clerk called M. Colbert. Go!"



CHAPTER 44. Colbert



Colbert was not far off. During the whole evening he had remained in one
of the corridors, chatting with Bernouin and Brienne, and commenting,
with the ordinary skill of people of a court, upon the news which
developed like air-bubbles upon the water, on the surface of each
event. It is doubtless time to trace, in a few words, one of the most
interesting portraits of the age, and to trace it with as much truth,
perhaps, as contemporary painters have been able to do. Colbert was a
man in whom the historian and the moralist have an equal right.

He was thirteen years older than Louis XIV., his future master. Of
middle height, rather lean than otherwise, he had deep-set eyes, a
mean appearance, his hair was coarse, black and thin, which, say the
biographers of his time, made him take early to the skull-cap. A look of
severity, or harshness even, a sort of stiffness, which, with inferiors,
was pride, with superiors an affectation of superior virtue; a surly
cast of countenance upon all occasions, even when looking at himself in
a glass alone--such is the exterior of this personage. As to the moral
part of his character, the depth of his talent for accounts, and his
ingenuity in making sterility itself productive, were much boasted of.
Colbert had formed the idea of forcing governors of frontier places to
feed the garrisons without pay, with what they drew from contributions.
Such a valuable quality made Mazarin think of replacing Joubert, his
intendant, who had recently died, by M. Colbert, who had such skill
in nibbling down allowances. Colbert by degrees crept into court,
notwithstanding his lowly birth, for he was the son of a man who sold
wine as his father had done, but who afterwards sold cloth, and then
silk stuffs. Colbert, destined for trade, had been clerk in Lyons to
a merchant, whom he had quitted to come to Paris in the office of a
Chatelet procureur named Biterne. It was here he learned the art of
drawing up an account, and the much more valuable one of complicating
it.

This stiffness of manner in Colbert had been of great service to him; it
is so true that Fortune, when she has a caprice, resembles those women
of antiquity, who, when they had a fancy, were disgusted by no physical
or moral defects in either men or things. Colbert, placed with Michel
Letellier, secretary of state in 1648, by his cousin Colbert, Seigneur
de Saint-Penange, who protected him, received one day from the minister
a commission for Cardinal Mazarin. His eminence was then in the
enjoyment of flourishing health, and the bad years of the Fronde had
not yet counted triple and quadruple for him. He was at Sedan, very much
annoyed at a court intrigue in which Anne of Austria seemed inclined to
desert his cause.

Of this intrigue Letellier held the thread. He had just received a
letter from Anne of Austria, a letter very valuable to him, and strongly
compromising Mazarin; but, as he already played the double part which
served him so well, and by which he always managed two enemies so as to
draw advantage from both, either by embroiling them more and more or
by reconciling them, Michel Letellier wished to send Anne of Austria's
letter to Mazarin, in order that he might be acquainted with it,
and consequently pleased with his having so willingly rendered him a
service. To send the letter was an easy matter; to recover it again,
after having communicated it, that was the difficulty. Letellier cast
his eyes around him, and seeing the black and meager clerk with the
scowling brow, scribbling away in his office, he preferred him to the
best gendarme for the execution of this design.

Colbert was commanded to set out for Sedan, with positive orders to
carry the letter to Mazarin, and bring it back to Letellier. He listened
to his orders with scrupulous attention, required the instructions to be
repeated twice, and was particular in learning whether the bringing back
was as necessary as the communicating, and Letellier replied sternly,
"More necessary." Then he set out, traveled like a courier, without any
care for his body, and placed in the hands of Mazarin, first a letter
from Letellier, which announced to the cardinal the sending of the
precious letter, and then that letter itself. Mazarin colored greatly
whilst reading Anne of Austria's letter, gave Colbert a gracious smile
and dismissed him.

"When shall I have the answer, monseigneur?"

"To-morrow."

"To-morrow morning?"

"Yes, monsieur."

The clerk turned upon his heel, after making his very best bow. The next
day he was at his post at seven o'clock. Mazarin made him wait till
ten. He remained patiently in the ante-chamber; his turn having come,
he entered; Mazarin gave him a sealed packet. On the envelope of this
packet were these words:--Monsieur Michel Letellier, etc. Colbert
looked at the packet with much attention; the cardinal put on a pleasant
countenance and pushed him towards the door.

"And the letter of the queen-mother, my lord?" asked Colbert.

"It is with the rest, in the packet," said Mazarin.

"Oh! very well," replied Colbert, and placing his hat between his knees,
he began to unseal the packet.

Mazarin uttered a cry. "What are you doing?" said he, angrily.

"I am unsealing the packet, my lord."

"You mistrust me, then, master pedant, do you? Did any one ever see such
impertinence?"

"Oh! my lord, do not be angry with me! It is certainly not your
eminence's word I place in doubt, God forbid!"

"What then?"

"It is the carefulness of your chancery, my lord. What is a letter? A
rag. May not a rag be forgotten? And look, my lord, look if I was not
right. Your clerks have forgotten the rag; the letter is not in the
packet."

"You are an insolent fellow, and you have not looked," cried Mazarin,
very angrily, "begone and wait my pleasure." Whilst saying these words,
with perfectly Italian subtlety he snatched the packet from the hands of
Colbert, and re-entered his apartments.

But this anger could not last so long as not to be replaced in time by
reason. Mazarin, every morning, on opening his closet door, found
the figure of Colbert like a sentinel behind the bench, and this
disagreeable figure never failed to ask him humbly, but with tenacity,
for the queen-mother's letter. Mazarin could hold out no longer, and
was obliged to give it up. He accompanied this restitution with a most
severe reprimand, during which Colbert contented himself with examining,
feeling, even smelling, as it were, the paper, the characters, and
the signature, neither more nor less than if he had to deal with the
greatest forger in the kingdom. Mazarin behaved still more rudely to
him, but Colbert, still impassible, having obtained a certainty that the
letter was the true one, went off as if he had been deaf. This conduct
obtained for him afterwards the post of Joubert; for Mazarin, instead
of bearing malice, admired him, and was desirous of attaching so much
fidelity to himself.

It may be judged by this single anecdote, what the character of Colbert
was. Events, developing themselves, by degrees allowed all the powers of
his mind to act freely. Colbert was not long in insinuating himself into
the good graces of the cardinal: he became even indispensable to him.
The clerk was acquainted with all his accounts without the cardinal's
ever having spoken to him about them. This secret between them was a
powerful tie, and this was why, when about to appear before the Master
of another world, Mazarin was desirous of taking good counsel in
disposing of the wealth he was so unwillingly obliged to leave in
this world. After the visit of Guenaud, he therefore sent for Colbert,
desired him to sit down, and said to him: "Let us converse, Monsieur
Colbert, and seriously, for I am very ill, and I may chance to die."

"Man is mortal," replied Colbert.

"I have always remembered that, M. Colbert, and I have worked with that
end in view. You know that I have amassed a little wealth."

"I know you have, monseigneur."

"At how much do you estimate, as near as you can, the amount of this
wealth, M. Colbert?"

"At forty millions, five hundred and sixty thousand, two hundred livres,
nine cents, eight farthings," replied Colbert.

The cardinal heaved a deep sigh, and looked at Colbert with wonder, but
he allowed a smile to steal across his lips.

"Known money," added Colbert, in reply to that smile.

The cardinal gave quite a start in bed. "What do you mean by that?" said
he.

"I mean," said Colbert, "that besides those forty millions, five hundred
and sixty thousand, two hundred livres, nine cents, eight farthings,
there are thirteen millions that are not known."

"Ouf!" sighed Mazarin, "what a man!"

At this moment the head of Bernouin appeared through the embrasure of
the door.

"What is it?" asked Mazarin, "and why do you disturb me?"

"The Theatin father, your eminence's director, was sent for this
evening; and he cannot come again to my lord till after to-morrow."

Mazarin looked at Colbert, who rose and took his hat saying: "I shall
come again, my lord."

Mazarin hesitated. "No, no," said he; "I have as much business to
transact with you as with him. Besides, you are my other confessor--and
what I have to say to one the other may hear. Remain where you are,
Colbert."

"But, my lord, if there be no secret of penitence, will the director
consent to my being here?"

"Do not trouble yourself about that; come into the ruelle."

"I can wait outside, monseigneur."

"No, no, it will do you good to hear the confession of a rich man."

Colbert bowed and went into the ruelle.

"Introduce the Theatin father," said Mazarin, closing the curtains.



CHAPTER 45. Confession of a Man of Wealth



The Theatin entered deliberately, without being too much astonished
at the noise and agitation which anxiety for the cardinal's health had
raised in his household. "Come in, my reverend father," said Mazarin,
after a last look at the ruelle, "come in and console me."

"That is my duty, my lord," replied the Theatin.

"Begin by sitting down, and making yourself comfortable, for I am going
to begin with a general confession, you will afterwards give me a good
absolution, and I shall believe myself more tranquil."

"My lord," said the father, "you are not so ill as to make a general
confession urgent--and it will be very fatiguing--take care."

"You suspect then, that it may be long, father"

"How can I think it otherwise, when a man has lived so completely as
your eminence has done?"

"Ah! that is true!--yes--the recital may be long."

"The mercy of God is great," snuffled the Theatin.

"Stop," said Mazarin; "there I begin to terrify myself with having
allowed so many things to pass which the Lord might reprove."

"Is not that always so?" said the Theatin naively, removing further from
the lamp his thin pointed face, like that of a mole. "Sinners are so
forgetful beforehand, and scrupulous when it is too late."

"Sinners?" replied Mazarin. "Do you use that word ironically, and to
reproach me with all the genealogies I have allowed to be made on my
account--I--the son of a fisherman, in fact?" *

     * This is quite untranslatable--it being a play upon the
     words pecheur, a sinner, and pecheur, a fisherman. It is in
     very bad taste.--TRANS.

"Hum!" said the Theatin.

"That is a first sin, father; for I have allowed myself made to descend
from two old Roman consuls, S. Geganius Macerinus 1st, Macerinus 2d, and
Proculus Macerinus 3d, of whom the Chronicle of Haolander speaks.
From Macerinus to Mazarin the proximity was tempting. Macerinus, a
diminutive, means leanish, poorish, out of case. Oh! reverend father!
Mazarini may now be carried to the augmentative Maigre, thin as Lazarus.
Look!" and he showed his fleshless arms.

"In your having been born of a family of fishermen I see nothing
injurious to you; for--St. Peter was a fisherman; and if you are a
prince of the church, my lord, he was the supreme head of it. Pass on,
if you please."

"So much the more for my having threatened with the Bastile a certain
Bounet, a priest of Avignon, who wanted to publish a genealogy of the
Casa Mazarini much too marvelous."

"To be probable?" replied the Theatin.

"Oh! if I had acted up to his idea, father, that would have been the
vice of pride--another sin."

"It was excess of wit, and a person is not to be reproached with such
sorts of abuses. Pass on, pass on!"

"I was all pride. Look you, father, I will endeavor to divide that into
capital sins."

"I like divisions, when well made."

"I am glad of that. You must know that in 1630--alas! that is thirty-one
years ago----"

"You were then twenty-nine years old, monseigneur."

"A hot-headed age. I was then something of a soldier, and I threw myself
at Casal into the arquebuscades, to show that I rode on horseback as
well as an officer. It is true, I restored peace between the French and
the Spaniards. That redeems my sin a little."

"I see no sin in being able to ride well on horseback," said the
Theatin; "that is in perfect good taste, and does honor to our gown. As
a Christian, I approve of your having prevented the effusion of blood;
as a monk I am proud of the bravery a monk has exhibited."

Mazarin bowed his head humbly. "Yes," said he, "but the consequences?"

"What consequences?"

"Eh! that damned sin of pride has roots without end. From the time
that I threw myself in that manner between two armies, that I had smelt
powder and faced lines of soldiers, I have held generals a little in
contempt."

"Ah!" said the father.

"There is the evil; so that I have not found one endurable since that
time."

"The fact is," said the Theatin, "that the generals we have had have not
been remarkable."

"Oh!" cried Mazarin, "there was Monsieur le Prince. I have tormented him
thoroughly."

"He is not much to be pitied: he has acquired sufficient glory, and
sufficient wealth."

"That may be, for Monsieur le Prince; but M. Beaufort, for example--whom
I held suffering so long in the dungeon of Vincennes?"

"Ah! but he was a rebel, and the safety of the state required that you
should make a sacrifice. Pass on!"

"I believe I have exhausted pride. There is another sin which I am
afraid to qualify."

"I can qualify it myself. Tell it."

"A great sin, reverend father!"

"We shall judge, monseigneur."

"You cannot fail to have heard of certain relations which I have
had--with her majesty the queen-mother;--the malevolent----"

"The malevolent, my lord, are fools. Was it not necessary for the good
of the state and the interests of the young king, that you should live
in good intelligence with the queen? Pass on, pass on!"

"I assure you," said Mazarin, "you remove a terrible weight from my
breast."

"These are all trifles!--look for something serious."

"I have had much ambition, father."

"That is the march of great minds and things, my lord."

"Even the longing for the tiara?"

"To be pope is to be the first of Christians. Why should you not desire
that?"

"It has been printed that, to gain that object, I had sold Cambria to
the Spaniards."

"You have, perhaps, yourself written pamphlets without severely
persecuting pamphleteers."

"Then, reverend father, I have truly a clean breast. I feel nothing
remaining but slight peccadilloes."

"What are they?"

"Play."

"That is rather worldly: but you were obliged by the duties of greatness
to keep a good house."

"I like to win."

"No player plays to lose."

"I cheated a little."

"You took your advantage. Pass on."

"Well! reverend father, I feel nothing else upon my conscience. Give me
absolution, and my soul will be able, when God shall please to call it,
to mount without obstacle to the throne----"

The Theatin moved neither his arms nor his lips. "What are you waiting
for, father?" said Mazarin.

"I am waiting for the end."

"The end of what?"

"Of the confession, monsieur."

"But I have ended."

"Oh, no; your eminence is mistaken."

"Not that I know of."

"Search diligently."

"I have searched as well as possible."

"Then I shall assist your memory."

"Do."

The Theatin coughed several times. "You have said nothing of avarice,
another capital sin, nor of those millions," said he.

"What millions, father?"

"Why, those you possess, my lord."

"Father, that money is mine, why should I speak to you about that?"

"Because, see you, our opinions differ. You say that money is yours,
whilst I--I believe it is rather the property of others."

Mazarin lifted his cold hand to his brow, which was beaded with
perspiration. "How so?" stammered he.

"This way. Your excellency has gained much wealth--in the service of the
king."

"Hum! much--that is, not too much."

"Whatever it may be, whence came that wealth?

"From the state."

"The state, that is the king."

"But what do you conclude from that, father?" said Mazarin, who began to
tremble.

"I cannot conclude without seeing a list of the riches you possess. Let
us reckon a little, if you please. You have the bishopric of Metz?"

"Yes."

"The abbeys of St. Clement, St. Arnould, and St. Vincent, all at Metz?"

"Yes."

"You have the abbey of St. Denis, in France, a magnificent property?"

"Yes, father."

"You have the abbey of Cluny, which is rich?"

"I have."

"That of St. Medard at Soissons, with a revenue of one hundred thousand
livres?"

"I cannot deny it."

"That of St. Victor, at Marseilles,--one of the best in the south?"

"Yes, father."

"A good million a year. With the emoluments of the cardinalship and the
ministry, I say too little when I say two millions a year."

"Eh!"

"In ten years that is twenty millions,--and twenty millions put out
at fifty per cent give, by progression, twenty-three millions in ten
years."

"How well you reckon for a Theatin!"

"Since your eminence placed our order in the convent we occupy, near St.
Germain des Pres, in 1641, I have kept the accounts of the society."

"And mine likewise, apparently, father."

"One ought to know a little of everything, my lord."

"Very well. Conclude, at present."

"I conclude that your baggage is too heavy to allow you to pass through
the gates of Paradise."

"Shall I be damned?"

"If you do not make restitution, yes."

Mazarin uttered a piteous cry. "Restitution!--but to whom, good God?"

"To the owner of that money,--to the king."

"But the king did not give it all to me."

"One moment,--does not the king sign the ordonnances?"

Mazarin passed from sighs to groans. "Absolution! absolution!" cried he.

"Impossible, my lord. Restitution! restitution!" replied the Theatin.

"But you absolve me from all other sins, why not from that?"

"Because," replied the father, "to absolve you for that motive would be
a sin for which the king would never absolve me, my lord."

Thereupon the confessor quitted his penitent with an air full of
compunction. He then went out in the same manner he had entered.

"Oh, good God!" groaned the cardinal. "Come here, Colbert, I am very,
very ill indeed, my friend."



CHAPTER 46. The Donation



Colbert reappeared beneath the curtains.

"Have you heard?" said Mazarin.

"Alas! yes, my lord."

"Can he be right? Can all this money be badly acquired?"

"A Theatin, monseigneur, is a bad judge in matters of finance," replied
Colbert, coolly. "And yet it is very possible that, according to his
theological ideas, your eminence has been, in a certain degree, in the
wrong. People generally find they have been so,--when they die."

"In the first place, they commit the wrong of dying, Colbert."

"That is true, my lord. Against whom, however, did the Theatin make out
that you had committed these wrongs? Against the king?!"

Mazarin shrugged his shoulders. "As if I had not saved both his state
and his finances."

"That admits of no contradiction, my lord."

"Does it? Then I have received a merely legitimate salary, in spite of
the opinion of my confessor?"

"That is beyond doubt."

"And I might fairly keep for my own family, which is so needy, a good
fortune,--the whole, even, of which I have earned?"

"I see no impediment to that, monseigneur."

"I felt assured that in consulting you, Colbert, I should have good
advice," replied Mazarin, greatly delighted.

Colbert resumed his pedantic look. "My lord," interrupted he, "I think
it would be quite as well to examine whether what the Theatin said is
not a snare."

"Oh! no; a snare? What for? The Theatin is an honest man."

"He believed your eminence to be at death's door, because your eminence
consulted him. Did not I hear him say--'Distinguish that which the king
has given you from that which you have given yourself.' Recollect, my
lord, if he did not say something a little like that to you?--that is
quite a theatrical speech."

"That is possible."

"In which case, my lord, I should consider you as required by the
Theatin to----"

"To make restitution!" cried Mazarin, with great warmth.

"Eh! I do not say no."

"What, of all! You do not dream of such a thing! You speak just as the
confessor did."

"To make restitution of a part,--that is to say, his majesty's part; and
that, monseigneur, may have its dangers. Your eminence is too skillful a
politician not to know that, at this moment, the king does not possess a
hundred and fifty thousand livres clear in his coffers."

"That is not my affair," said Mazarin, triumphantly; "that belongs to M.
le Surintendant Fouquet, whose accounts I gave you to verify some months
ago."

Colbert bit his lips at the name of Fouquet. "His majesty," said he,
between his teeth, "has no money but that which M. Fouquet collects:
your money, monseigneur, would afford him a delicious banquet."

"Well, but I am not the superintendent of his majesty's finances--I
have my purse--surely I would do much for his majesty's welfare--some
legacy--but I cannot disappoint my family."

"The legacy of a part would dishonor you and offend the king. Leaving
a part to his majesty is to avow that that part has inspired you with
doubts as to the lawfulness of the means of acquisition."

"Monsieur Colbert!"

"I thought your eminence did me the honor to ask my advice?"

"Yes, but you are ignorant of the principal details of the question."

"I am ignorant of nothing, my lord; during ten years, all the columns of
figures which are found in France have passed in review before me, and
if I have painfully nailed them into my brain, they are there now so
well riveted, that, from the office of M. Letellier, who is sober, to
the little secret largesses of M. Fouquet, who is prodigal, I could
recite, figure by figure, all the money that is spent in France from
Marseilles to Cherbourg."

"Then, you would have me throw all my money into the coffers of the
king!" cried Mazarin, ironically; and from whom, at the same time,
the gout forced painful moans. "Surely the king would reproach me with
nothing, but he would laugh at me, while squandering my millions, and
with good reason."

"Your eminence has misunderstood me. I did not, the least in the world,
pretend that his majesty ought to spend your money."

"You said so clearly, it seems to me, when you advised me to give it to
him."

"Ah," replied Colbert, "that is because your eminence, absorbed as you
are by your disease, entirely loses sight of the character of Louis
XIV."

"How so?"

"That character, if I may venture to express myself thus, resembles that
which my lord confessed just now to the Theatin."

"Go on--that is?"

"Pride! Pardon me, my lord, haughtiness, nobleness; kings have no pride,
that is a human passion."

"Pride,--yes, you are right. Next?"

"Well, my lord, if I have divined rightly, your eminence has but to give
all your money to the king, and that immediately."

"But for what?" said Mazarin, quite bewildered.

"Because the king will not accept of the whole."

"What, and he a young man, and devoured by ambition?"

"Just so."

"A young man who is anxious for my death----"

"My lord!"

"To inherit, yes, Colbert, yes; he is anxious for my death in order to
inherit. Triple fool that I am! I would prevent him!"

"Exactly: if the donation were made in a certain form he would refuse
it."

"Well, but how?"

"That is plain enough. A young man who has yet done nothing--who burns
to distinguish himself--who burns to reign alone, will never take
anything ready built, he will construct for himself. This prince,
monseigneur, will never be content with the Palais Royal, which M. de
Richelieu left him, nor with the Palais Mazarin, which you have had
so superbly constructed, nor with the Louvre, which his ancestors
inhabited; nor with St. Germain, where he was born. All that does not
proceed from himself, I predict, he will disdain."

"And you will guarantee, that if I give my forty millions to the
king----"

"Saying certain things to him at the same time, I guarantee he will
refuse them."

"But those things--what are they?"

"I will write them, if my lord will have the goodness to dictate them."

"Well, but, after all, what advantage will that be to me?"

"An enormous one. Nobody will afterwards be able to accuse your eminence
of that unjust avarice with which pamphleteers have reproached the most
brilliant mind of the present age."

"You are right, Colbert, you are right; go, and seek the king, on my
part, and take him my will."

"Your donation, my lord."

"But, if he should accept it; if he should even think of accepting it!"

"Then there would remain thirteen millions for your family, and that is
a good round sum."

"But then you would be either a fool or a traitor."

"And I am neither the one nor the other, my lord. You appear to be much
afraid that the king will accept; you have a deal more reason to fear
that he will not accept."

"But, see you, if he does not accept, I should like to guarantee my
thirteen reserved millions to him--yes, I will do so--yes. But my pains
are returning, I shall faint. I am very, very ill, Colbert; I am very
near my end!"

Colbert started. The cardinal was indeed very ill; large drops of sweat
flowed down upon his bed of agony, and the frightful pallor of a
face streaming with water was a spectacle which the most hardened
practitioner could not have beheld without compassion. Colbert was,
without doubt, very much affected, for he quitted the chamber, calling
Bernouin to attend the dying man and went into the corridor. There,
walking about with a meditative expression, which almost gave nobility
to his vulgar head, his shoulders thrown up, his neck stretched out,
his lips half open, to give vent to unconnected fragments of incoherent
thoughts, he lashed up his courage to the pitch of the undertaking
contemplated, whilst within ten paces of him, separated only by a wall,
his master was being stifled by anguish which drew from him lamentable
cries, thinking no more of the treasures of the earth, or of the joys
of Paradise, but much of all the horrors of hell. Whilst burning-hot
napkins, physic, revulsives, and Guenaud, who was recalled, were
performing their functions with increased activity, Colbert, holding
his great head in both his hands, to compress within it the fever of
the projects engendered by the brain, was meditating the tenor of the
donation he would make Mazarin write, at the first hour of respite his
disease should afford him. It would appear as if all the cries of the
cardinal, and all the attacks of death upon this representative of the
past, were stimulants for the genius of this thinker with the
bushy eyebrows, who was turning already towards the rising sun of a
regenerated society. Colbert resumed his place at Mazarin's pillow at
the first interval of pain, and persuaded him to dictate a donation thus
conceived.


"About to appear before God, the Master of mankind, I beg the king,
who was my master on earth, to resume the wealth which his bounty has
bestowed upon me, and which my family would be happy to see pass
into such illustrious hands. The particulars of my property will be
found--they are drawn up--at the first requisition of his majesty, or at
the last sigh of his most devoted servant,

"Jules, Cardinal de Mazarin."


The cardinal sighed heavily as he signed this; Colbert sealed the
packet, and carried it immediately to the Louvre, whither the king had
returned.

He then went back to his own home, rubbing his hands with the confidence
of a workman who has done a good day's work.



CHAPTER 47. How Anne of Austria gave one Piece of Advice to Louis XIV.,
and how M. Fouquet gave him another.



The news of the extreme illness of the cardinal had already spread, and
attracted at least as much attention among the people of the Louvre
as the news of the marriage of Monsieur, the king's brother, which had
already been announced as an official fact. Scarcely had Louis XIV.
returned home, with his thoughts fully occupied with the various things
he had seen and heard in the course of the evening, when an usher
announced that the same crowd of courtiers who, in the morning, had
thronged his lever, presented themselves again at his coucher, a
remarkable piece of respect which, during the reign of the cardinal,
the court, not very discreet in its preferences, had accorded to the
minister, without caring about displeasing the king.

But the minister had had, as we have said, an alarming attack of gout,
and the tide of flattery was mounting towards the throne. Courtiers have
a marvelous instinct in scenting the turn of events; courtiers possess
a supreme kind of science; they are diplomatists in throwing light upon
the unraveling of complicated intrigues, captains in divining the issue
of battles, and physicians in curing the sick. Louis XIV., to whom his
mother had taught this axiom, together with many others, understood at
once that the cardinal must be very ill.

Scarcely had Anne of Austria conducted the young queen to her apartments
and taken from her brow the head-dress of ceremony, when she went to see
her son in his cabinet, where, alone, melancholy and depressed, he was
indulging, as if to exercise his will, in one of those terrible inward
passions--king's passions--which create events when they break out, and
with Louis XIV., thanks to his astonishing command over himself, became
such benign tempests, that his most violent, his only passion, that
which Saint Simon mentions with astonishment, was that famous fit of
anger which he exhibited fifty years later, on the occasion of a little
concealment of the Duc de Maine's and which had for result a shower of
blows inflicted with a cane upon the back of a poor valet who had stolen
a biscuit. The young king then was, as we have seen, a prey to a
double excitement; and he said to himself as he looked in a glass,
"O king!--king by name, and not in fact;--phantom, vain phantom art
thou!--inert statue, which has no other power than that of provoking
salutations from courtiers, when wilt thou be able to raise thy velvet
arm, or clench thy silken hand? when wilt thou be able to open, for
any purpose but to sigh, or smile, lips condemned to the motionless
stupidity of the marbles in thy gallery?"

Then, passing his hand over his brow, and feeling the want of air, he
approached a window, and looking down, saw below some horsemen talking
together, and groups of timid observers. These horsemen were a fraction
of the watch: the groups were busy portions of the people, to whom a
king is always a curious thing, the same as a rhinoceros, a crocodile,
or a serpent. He struck his brow with his open hand, crying,--"King of
France! what title! People of France! what a heap of creatures! I have
just returned to my Louvre; my horses, just unharnessed, are still
smoking, and I have created interest enough to induce scarcely twenty
persons to look at me as I passed. Twenty! what do I say? no; there were
not twenty anxious to see the king of France. There are not even ten
archers to guard my place of residence: archers, people, guards, all are
at the Palais Royal! Why, my good God! have not I, the king, the right
to ask of you all that?"

"Because," said a voice, replying to his, and which sounded from the
other side of the door of the cabinet, "because at the Palais Royal
lies all the gold,--that is to say, all the power of him who desires to
reign."

Louis turned sharply round. The voice which had pronounced these words
was that of Anne of Austria. The king started, and advanced towards
her. "I hope," said he, "your majesty has paid no attention to the vain
declamations which the solitude and disgust familiar to kings suggest to
the happiest dispositions?"

"I only paid attention to one thing, my son, and that was, that you were
complaining."

"Who! I? Not at all," said Louis XIV.; "no, in truth, you err, madame."

"What were you doing, then?"

"I thought I was under the ferule of my professor, and developing a
subject of amplification."

"My son," replied Anne of Austria, shaking her head, "you are wrong not
to trust my word; you are wrong not to grant me your confidence. A
day will come, and perhaps quickly, wherein you will have occasion to
remember that axiom:--'Gold is universal power; and they alone are kings
who are all-powerful.'"

"Your intention," continued the king, "was not, however, to cast blame
upon the rich men of this age, was it?

"No," said the queen, warmly; "no, sire; they who are rich in this age,
under your reign, are rich because you have been willing they should
be so, and I entertain against them neither malice nor envy; they have,
without doubt, served your majesty sufficiently well for your majesty to
have permitted them to reward themselves. That is what I mean to say by
the words for which you reproach me."

"God forbid, madame, that I should ever reproach my mother with
anything!"

"Besides," continued Anne of Austria, "the Lord never gives the goods
of this world but for a season; the Lord--as correctives to honor and
riches--the Lord has placed sufferings, sickness, and death; and no
one," added she, with a melancholy smile, which proved she made the
application of the funeral precept to herself, "no man can take his
wealth or greatness with him to the grave. It results, therefore, that
the young gather the abundant harvest prepared for them by the old."

Louis listened with increased attention to the words which Anne of
Austria, no doubt, pronounced with a view to console him. "Madame," said
he, looking earnestly at his mother, "one would almost say in truth that
you had something else to announce to me."

"I have absolutely nothing, my son; only you cannot have failed to
remark that his eminence the cardinal is very ill."

Louis looked at his mother, expecting some emotion in her voice, some
sorrow in her countenance. The face of Anne of Austria appeared a little
changed, but that was from sufferings of quite a personal character.
Perhaps the alteration was caused by the cancer which had begun to
consume her breast. "Yes, madame," said the king; "yes, M. de Mazarin is
very ill."

"And it would be a great loss to the kingdom if God were to summon his
eminence away. Is not that your opinion as well as mine, my son?" said
the queen.

"Yes, madame; yes, certainly, it would be a great loss for the kingdom,"
said Louis, coloring; "but the peril does not seem to me to be so great;
besides, the cardinal is still young." The king had scarcely ceased
speaking when an usher lifted the tapestry, and stood with a paper in
his hand, waiting for the king to speak to him.

"What have you there?" asked the king.

"A message from M. de Mazarin," replied the usher.

"Give it to me," said the king; and he took the paper. But at the moment
he was about to open it, there was a great noise in the gallery, the
ante-chamber, and the court.

"Ah, ah," said Louis XIV., who doubtless knew the meaning of that
triple noise. "How could I say there was but one king in France! I was
mistaken, there are two."

As he spoke or thought thus, the door opened, and the superintendent of
the finances, Fouquet, appeared before his nominal master. It was he
who made the noise in the ante-chamber, it was his horses that made the
noise in the courtyard. In addition to all this, a loud murmur was heard
along his passage, which did not die away till some time after he had
passed. It was this murmur which Louis XIV. regretted so deeply not
hearing as he passed, and dying away behind him.

"He is not precisely a king, as you fancy," said Anne of Austria to her
son; "he is only a man who is much too rich--that is all."

Whilst saying these words, a bitter feeling gave to these words of the
queen a most hateful expression; whereas the brow of the king, calm and
self-possessed, on the contrary, was without the slightest wrinkle. He
nodded, therefore, familiarly to Fouquet, whilst he continued to unfold
the paper given to him by the usher. Fouquet perceived this movement,
and with a politeness at once easy and respectful, advanced towards the
queen, so as not to disturb the king. Louis had opened the paper, and
yet he did not read it. He listened to Fouquet paying the most charming
compliments to the queen upon her hand and arm. Anne of Austria's frown
relaxed a little, she even almost smiled. Fouquet perceived that the
king, instead of reading, was looking at him; he turned half round,
therefore, and while continuing his conversation with the queen, faced
the king.

"You know, Monsieur Fouquet," said Louis, "how ill M. Mazarin is?"

"Yes, sire, I know that," said Fouquet; "in fact, he is very ill. I was
at my country-house of Vaux when the news reached me; and the affair
seemed so pressing that I left at once."

"You left Vaux this evening, monsieur?"

"An hour and a half ago, yes, your majesty," said Fouquet, consulting a
watch, richly ornamented with diamonds.

"An hour and a half!" said the king, still able to restrain his anger,
but not to conceal his astonishment.

"I understand you, sire. Your majesty doubts my word, and you have
reason to do so, but I have really come in that time, though it is
wonderful! I received from England three pairs of very fast horses, as
I had been assured. They were placed at distances of four leagues apart,
and I tried them this evening. They really brought me from Vaux to
the Louvre in an hour and a half, so your majesty sees I have not been
cheated." The queen-mother smiled with something like secret envy. But
Fouquet caught her thought. "Thus, madame," he promptly said, "such
horses are made for kings, not for subjects; for kings ought never to
yield to any one in anything."

The king looked up.

"And yet," interrupted Anne of Austria, "you are not a king, that I know
of, M. Fouquet."

"Truly not, madame; therefore the horses only await the orders of his
majesty to enter the royal stables; and if I allowed myself to try
them, it was only for fear of offering to the king anything that was not
positively wonderful."

The king became quite red.

"You know, Monsieur Fouquet," said the queen, "that at the court of
France it is not the custom for a subject to offer anything to his
king."

Louis started.

"I hoped, madame," said Fouquet, much agitated, "that my love for his
majesty, my incessant desire to please him, would serve to compensate
the want of etiquette. It was not so much a present that I permitted
myself to offer, as the tribute I paid."

"Thank you, Monsieur Fouquet," said the king politely, "and I am
gratified by your intention, for I love good horses; but you know I
am not very rich; you, who are my superintendent of finances, know it
better than any one else. I am not able, then, however willing I may be,
to purchase such a valuable set of horses."

Fouquet darted a haughty glance at the queen-mother, who appeared to
triumph at the false position in which the minister had placed himself,
and replied:--

"Luxury is the virtue of kings, sire: it is luxury which makes them
resemble God: it is by luxury they are more than other men. With luxury
a king nourishes his subjects, and honors them. Under the mild heat
of this luxury of kings springs the luxury of individuals, a source of
riches for the people. His majesty, by accepting the gift of these six
incomparable horses, would stimulate the pride of his own breeders,
of Limousin, Perche, and Normandy, and this emulation would have
been beneficial to all. But the king is silent, and consequently I am
condemned."

During this speech, Louis was, unconsciously, folding and unfolding
Mazarin's paper, upon which he had not cast his eyes. At length he
glanced upon it, and uttered a faint cry at reading the first line.

"What is the matter, my son?" asked the queen, anxiously, and going
towards the king.

"From the cardinal," replied the king, continuing to read; "yes, yes, it
is really from him."

"Is he worse, then?"

"Read!" said the king, passing the parchment to his mother, as if he
thought that nothing less than reading would convince Anne of Austria of
a thing so astonishing as was conveyed in that paper.

Anne of Austria read in turn, and as she read, her eyes sparkled with
a joy all the greater from her useless endeavor to hide it, which
attracted the attention of Fouquet.

"Oh! a regularly drawn up deed of gift," said she.

"A gift?" repeated Fouquet.

"Yes," said the king, replying pointedly to the superintendent of
finances, "yes, at the point of death, monsieur le cardinal makes me a
donation of all his wealth."

"Forty millions," cried the queen. "Oh, my son! this is very noble on
the part of his eminence, and will silence all malicious rumors; forty
millions scraped together slowly, coming back all in one heap to the
treasury! It is the act of a faithful subject and a good Christian." And
having once more cast her eyes over the act, she restored it to Louis
XIV., whom the announcement of the sum greatly agitated. Fouquet had
taken some steps backwards and remained silent. The king looked at him,
and held the paper out to him, in turn. The superintendent only bestowed
a haughty look of a second upon it; then bowing,--"Yes, sire," said he,
"a donation, I see."

"You must reply to it, my son," said Anne of Austria; "you must reply to
it, and immediately."

"But how, madame?"

"By a visit to the cardinal."

"Why, it is but an hour since I left his eminence," said the king.

"Write, then, sire."

"Write!" said the young king, with evident repugnance.

"Well!" replied Anne of Austria, "it seems to me, my son, that a man who
has just made such a present has a good right to expect to be thanked
for it with some degree of promptitude." Then turning towards Fouquet:
"Is not that likewise your opinion, monsieur?"

"That the present is worth the trouble? Yes madame," said Fouquet, with
a lofty air that did not escape the king.

"Accept, then, and thank him," insisted Anne of Austria.

"What says M. Fouquet?" asked Louis XIV.

"Does your majesty wish to know my opinion?"

"Yes."

"Thank him, sire----"

"Ah!" said the queen.

"But do not accept," continued Fouquet.

"And why not?" asked the queen.

"You have yourself said why, madame," replied Fouquet; "because kings
cannot and ought not to receive presents from their subjects."

The king remained silent between these two contrary opinions.

"But forty millions!" said Anne of Austria, in the same tone as that in
which, at a later period, poor Marie Antoinette replied, "You will tell
me as much!"

"I know," said Fouquet, laughing, "forty millions makes a good round
sum,--such a sum as could almost tempt a royal conscience."

"But monsieur," said Anne of Austria, "instead of persuading the king
not to receive this present, recall to his majesty's mind, you, whose
duty it is, that these forty millions are a fortune to him."

"It is precisely, madame, because these forty millions would be a
fortune that I will say to the king, 'Sire, if it be not decent for a
king to accept from a subject six horses, worth twenty thousand livres,
it would be disgraceful for him to owe a fortune to another subject,
more or less scrupulous in the choice of the materials which contributed
to the building up of that fortune.'"

"It ill becomes you, monsieur, to give your king a lesson," said Anne
of Austria; "better procure for him forty millions to replace those you
make him lose."

"The king shall have them whenever he wishes," said the superintendent
of finances, bowing.

"Yes, by oppressing the people," said the queen.

"And were they not oppressed, madame," replied Fouquet, "when they were
made to sweat the forty millions given by this deed? Furthermore, his
majesty has asked my opinion, I have given it; if his majesty ask my
concurrence, it will be the same."

"Nonsense! accept, my son, accept," said Anne of Austria. "You are above
reports and interpretations."

"Refuse, sire," said Fouquet. "As long as a king lives, he has no other
measure but his conscience,--no other judge than his own desires; but
when dead, he has posterity, which applauds or accuses."

"Thank you, mother," replied Louis, bowing respectfully to the queen.
"Thank you, Monsieur Fouquet," said he, dismissing the superintendent
civilly.

"Do you accept?" asked Anne of Austria, once more.

"I shall consider of it," replied he, looking at Fouquet.



CHAPTER 48. Agony



The day that the deed of gift had been sent to the king, the cardinal
caused himself to be transported to Vincennes. The king and the court
followed him thither. The last flashes of this torch still cast splendor
enough around to absorb all other lights in its rays. Besides, as it
has been seen, the faithful satellite of his minister, young Louis
XIV., marched to the last minute in accordance with his gravitation. The
disease, as Guenaud had predicted, had become worse; it was no longer an
attack of gout, it was an attack of death; then there was another thing
which made that agony more agonizing still,--and that was the agitation
brought into his mind by the donation he had sent to the king, and
which, according to Colbert, the king ought to send back unaccepted
to the cardinal. The cardinal had, as we have said, great faith in the
predictions of his secretary; but the sum was a large one, and whatever
might be the genius of Colbert, from time to time the cardinal thought
to himself that the Theatin also might possibly have been mistaken, and
that there was at least as much chance of his not being damned, as there
was of Louis XIV. sending back his millions.

Besides, the longer the donation was in coming back, the more Mazarin
thought that forty millions were worth a little risk, particularly of
so hypothetic a thing as the soul. Mazarin, in his character of cardinal
and prime minister, was almost an atheist, and quite a materialist.
Every time that the door opened, he turned sharply round towards that
door, expecting to see the return of his unfortunate donation; then,
deceived in his hope, he fell back again with a sigh, and found his
pains so much the greater for having forgotten them for an instant.

Anne of Austria had also followed the cardinal; her heart, though age
had made it selfish, could not help evincing towards the dying man
a sorrow which she owed him as a wife, according to some; and as a
sovereign, according to others. She had, in some sort, put on a mourning
countenance beforehand, and all the court wore it as she did.

Louis, in order not to show on his face what was passing at the bottom
of his heart, persisted in remaining in his own apartments, where his
nurse alone kept him company; the more he saw the approach of the time
when all constraint would be at an end, the more humble and patient
he was, falling back upon himself, as all strong men do when they form
great designs, in order to gain more spring at the decisive moment.
Extreme unction had been administered to the cardinal, who, faithful
to his habits of dissimulation, struggled against appearances, and even
against reality, receiving company in his bed, as if he only suffered
from a temporary complaint.

Guenaud, on his part, preserved profound secrecy; wearied with visits
and questions, he answered nothing but "his eminence is still full of
youth and strength, but God wills that which He wills, and when He has
decided that man is to be laid low, he will be laid low." These words,
which he scattered with a sort of discretion, reserve, and preference,
were commented upon earnestly by two persons,--the king and the
cardinal. Mazarin, notwithstanding the prophecy of Guenaud, still lured
himself with a hope, or rather played his part so well, that the most
cunning, when saying that he lured himself, proved that they were his
dupes.

Louis, absent from the cardinal for two days; Louis with his eyes fixed
upon that same donation which so constantly preoccupied the cardinal;
Louis did not exactly know how to make out Mazarin's conduct. The son
of Louis XIII., following the paternal traditions, had, up to that time,
been so little of a king that, whilst ardently desiring royalty, he
desired it with that terror which always accompanies the unknown. Thus,
having formed his resolution, which, besides, he communicated to nobody,
he determined to have an interview with Mazarin. It was Anne of Austria,
who, constant in her attendance upon the cardinal, first heard this
proposition of the king's, and transmitted it to the dying man, whom it
greatly agitated. For what purpose could Louis wish for an interview?
Was it to return the deed, as Colbert had said he would? Was it to keep
it, after thanking him, as Mazarin thought he would? Nevertheless, as
the dying man felt that the uncertainty increased his torments, he did
not hesitate an instant.

"His majesty will be welcome,--yes, very welcome," cried he, making a
sign to Colbert, who was seated at the foot of the bed, and which the
latter understood perfectly. "Madame," continued Mazarin, "will your
majesty be good enough to assure the king yourself of the truth of what
I have just said?"

Anne of Austria rose; she herself was anxious to have the question of
the forty millions settled--the question which seemed to lie heavy on
the mind of every one. Anne of Austria went out; Mazarin made a great
effort, and, raising himself up towards Colbert: "Well, Colbert," said
he, "two days have passed away--two mortal days--and, you see, nothing
has been returned from yonder."

"Patience, my lord," said Colbert.

"Are you mad, you wretch? You advise me to have patience! Oh, in sad
truth, Colbert, you are laughing at me. I am dying, and you call out to
me to wait!"

"My lord," said Colbert, with his habitual coolness, "it is impossible
that things should not come out as I have said. His majesty is coming to
see you, and no doubt he brings back the deed himself."

"Do you think so? Well, I, on the contrary, am sure that his majesty is
coming to thank me."

At this moment Anne of Austria returned. On her way to the apartments of
her son she had met with a new empiric. This was a powder which was said
to have power to save the cardinal; and she brought a portion of this
powder with her. But this was not what Mazarin expected; therefore he
would not even look at it, declaring that life was not worth the
pains that were taken to preserve it. But, whilst professing this
philosophical axiom, his long-confined secret escaped him at last.

"That, madame," said he, "that is not the interesting part of my
situation. I made, two days ago, a little donation to the king; up to
this time, from delicacy, no doubt, his majesty has not condescended
to say anything about it; but the time for explanation is come, and I
implore your majesty to tell me if the king has made up his mind on that
matter."

Anne of Austria was about to reply, when Mazarin stopped her.

"The truth, madame," said he--"in the name of Heaven, the truth! Do not
flatter a dying man with a hope that may prove vain." There he stopped,
a look from Colbert telling him that he was on a wrong tack.

"I know," said Anne of Austria, taking the cardinal's hand, "I know that
you have generously made, not a little donation, as you modestly call
it, but a magnificent gift. I know how painful it would be to you if the
king----"

Mazarin listened, dying as he was, as ten living men could not have
listened.

"If the king----" replied he.

"If the king," continued Anne of Austria, "should not freely accept what
you offer so nobly."

Mazarin allowed himself to sink back upon his pillow like Pantaloon;
that is to say, with all the despair of a man who bows before the
tempest; but he still preserved sufficient strength and presence of
mind to cast upon Colbert one of those looks which are well worth ten
sonnets, which is to say, ten long poems.

"Should you not," added the queen, "have considered the refusal of
the king as a sort of insult?" Mazarin rolled his head about upon his
pillow, without articulating a syllable. The queen was deceived, or
feigned to be deceived, by this demonstration.

"Therefore," resumed she, "I have circumvented him with good counsels;
and as certain minds, jealous, no doubt, of the glory you are about to
acquire by this generosity, have endeavored to prove to the king that he
ought not to accept this donation, I have struggled in your favor, and
so well have I struggled, that you will not have, I hope, that distress
to undergo."

"Ah!" murmured Mazarin, with languishing eyes, "ah! that is a service I
shall never forget for a single minute of the few hours I still have to
live."

"I must admit," continued the queen, "that it was not without trouble I
rendered it to your eminence."

"Ah, peste! I believe that. Oh! oh!"

"Good God! what is the matter?"

"I am burning!"

"Do you suffer much?"

"As much as one of the damned."

Colbert would have liked to sink through the floor.

"So, then," resumed Mazarin, "your majesty thinks that the king----" he
stopped several seconds--"that the king is coming here to offer me some
small thanks?"

"I think so," said the queen. Mazarin annihilated Colbert with his last
look.

At that moment the ushers announced that the king was in the
ante-chambers, which were filled with people. This announcement produced
a stir of which Colbert took advantage to escape by the door of the
ruelle. Anne of Austria arose, and awaited her son, standing. Louis IV.
appeared at the threshold of the door, with his eyes fixed upon the
dying man, who did not even think it worth while to notice that majesty
from whom he thought he had nothing more to expect. An usher placed
an armchair close to the bed. Louis bowed to his mother, then to the
cardinal, and sat down. The queen took a seat in her turn.

Then, as the king looked behind him, the usher understood that look and
made a sign to the courtiers who filled up the doorway to go out,
which they instantly did. Silence fell upon the chamber with the velvet
curtains. The king, still very young, and very timid in the presence of
him who had been his master from his birth, still respected him much,
particularly now, in the supreme majesty of death. He did not dare,
therefore, to begin the conversation, feeling that every word must have
its weight not only upon things of this world, but of the next. As to
the cardinal, at that moment he had but one thought--his donation. It
was not physical pain which gave him that air of despondency, and that
lugubrious look; it was the expectation of the thanks that were about
to issue from the king's mouth, and cut off all hope of restitution.
Mazarin was the first to break the silence. "Is your majesty come to
make any stay at Vincennes?" said he.

Louis made an affirmative sign with his head.

"That is a gracious favor," continued Mazarin, "granted to a dying man,
and which will render death less painful to him."

"I hope," replied the king, "I am come to visit, not a dying man, but a
sick man, susceptible of cure."

Mazarin replied by a movement of the head.

"Your majesty is very kind; but I know more than you on that subject.
The last visit, sire," said he, "the last visit."

"If it were so, monsieur le cardinal," said Louis, "I would come a last
time to ask the counsels of a guide to whom I owe everything."

Anne of Austria was a woman; she could not restrain her tears. Louis
showed himself much affected, and Mazarin still more than his two
guests, but from very different motives. Here the silence returned. The
queen wiped her eyes, and the king resumed his firmness.

"I was saying," continued the king, "that I owed much to your eminence."
The eyes of the cardinal devoured the king, for he felt the great moment
had come. "And," continued Louis, "the principal object of my visit was
to offer you very sincere thanks for the last evidence of friendship you
have kindly sent me."

The cheeks of the cardinal became sunken, his lips partially opened, and
the most lamentable sigh he had ever uttered was about to issue from his
chest.

"Sire," said he, "I shall have despoiled my poor family; I shall have
ruined all who belong to me, which may be imputed to me as an error;
but, at least, it shall not be said of me that I have refused to
sacrifice everything to my king."

Anne of Austria's tears flowed afresh.

"My dear Monsieur Mazarin," said the king, in a more serious tone than
might have been expected from his youth, "you have misunderstood me,
apparently."

Mazarin raised himself upon his elbow.

"I have no purpose to despoil your dear family, nor to ruin your
servants. Oh, no, that must never be!"

"Humph!" thought Mazarin, "he is going to restore me some scraps; let us
get the largest piece we can."

"The king is going to be foolishly affected and play the generous,"
thought the queen; "he must not be allowed to impoverish himself; such
an opportunity for getting a fortune will never occur again."

"Sire," said the cardinal, aloud, "my family is very numerous, and my
nieces will be destitute when I am gone."

"Oh," interrupted the queen, eagerly, "have no uneasiness with respect
to your family, dear Monsieur Mazarin; we have no friends dearer than
your friends; your nieces shall be my children, the sisters of his
majesty; and if a favor be distributed in France, it shall be to those
you love."

"Smoke!" thought Mazarin, who knew better than any one the faith that
can be put in the promises of kings. Louis read the dying man's thought
in his face.

"Be comforted, my dear Monsieur Mazarin," said he, with a half-smile,
sad beneath its irony; "the Mesdemoiselles de Mancini will lose, in
losing you, their most precious good; but they shall none the less be
the richest heiresses of France; and since you have been kind enough to
give me their dowry"--the cardinal was panting--"I restore it to
them," continued Louis, drawing from his breast and holding towards the
cardinal's bed the parchment which contained the donation that, during
two days, had kept alive such tempests in the mind of Mazarin.

"What did I tell you, my lord?" murmured in the alcove a voice which
passed away like a breath.

"Your majesty returns my donation!" cried Mazarin, so disturbed by joy
as to forget his character of a benefactor.

"Your majesty rejects the forty millions!" cried Anne of Austria, so
stupefied as to forget her character of an afflicted wife, or queen.

"Yes, my lord cardinal; yes, madame," replied Louis XIV., tearing
the parchment which Mazarin had not yet ventured to clutch; "yes,
I annihilate this deed, which despoiled a whole family. The wealth
acquired by his eminence in my service is his own wealth and not mine."

"But, sire, does your majesty reflect," said Anne of Austria, "that you
have not ten thousand crowns in your coffers?"

"Madame, I have just performed my first royal action, and I hope it will
worthily inaugurate my reign."

"Ah! sire, you are right!" cried Mazarin; "that is truly great--that is
truly generous which you have just done." And he looked, one after the
other, at the pieces of the act spread over his bed, to assure himself
that it was the original and not a copy that had been torn. At
length his eyes fell upon the fragment which bore his signature, and
recognizing it, he sunk back on his bolster in a swoon. Anne of Austria,
without strength to conceal her regret, raised her hands and eyes toward
heaven.

"Oh! sire," cried Mazarin, "may you be blessed! My God! May you be
beloved by all my family. Per Baccho! If ever any of those belonging to
me should cause your displeasure, sire, only frown, and I will rise from
my tomb!"

This pantalonnade did not produce all the effect Mazarin had counted
upon. Louis had already passed to considerations of a higher nature, and
as to Anne of Austria, unable to bear, without abandoning herself to the
anger she felt burning within her, the magnanimity of her son and the
hypocrisy of the cardinal, she arose and left the chamber, heedless
of thus betraying the extent of her grief. Mazarin saw all this, and
fearing that Louis XIV. might repent his decision, in order to draw
attention another way he began to cry out, as, at a later period, Scapin
was to cry out, in that sublime piece of pleasantry with which the
morose and grumbling Boileau dared to reproach Moliere. His cries,
however, by degrees, became fainter; and when Anne of Austria left the
apartment, they ceased altogether.

"Monsieur le cardinal," said the king, "have you any recommendations to
make to me?"

"Sire," replied Mazarin, "you are already wisdom itself, prudence
personified; of your generosity I shall not venture to speak; that which
you have just done exceeds all that the most generous men of antiquity
or of modern times have ever done."

The king received this praise coldly.

"So you confine yourself," said he, "to your thanks--and your
experience, much more extensive than my wisdom, my prudence, or my
generosity, does not furnish you with a single piece of friendly advice
to guide my future."

Mazarin reflected for a moment. "You have just done much for me, sire,"
said he, "that is, for my family."

"Say no more about that," said the king.

"Well!" continued Mazarin, "I shall give you something in exchange for
these forty millions you have refused so royally."

Louis XIV. indicated by a movement that these flatteries were
displeasing to him. "I shall give you a piece of advice," continued
Mazarin; "yes, a piece of advice--advice more precious than the forty
millions."

"My lord cardinal!" interrupted Louis.

"Sire, listen to this advice."

"I am listening."

"Come nearer, sire, for I am weak!--nearer, sire, nearer!"

The king bent over the dying man. "Sire," said Mazarin, in so low a tone
that the breath of his words arrived only like a recommendation from
the tomb in the attentive ears of the king--"Sire, never have a prime
minister."

Louis drew back astonished. The advice was a confession--a treasure, in
fact, was that sincere confession of Mazarin. The legacy of the cardinal
to the young king was composed of six words only, but those six words,
as Mazarin had said, were worth forty millions. Louis remained for
an instant bewildered. As for Mazarin, he appeared only to have said
something quite natural. A little scratching was heard along the
curtains of the alcove. Mazarin understood: "Yes, yes!" cried he warmly,
"yes, sire, I recommend to you a wise man, an honest man, and a clever
man."

"Tell me his name, my lord."

"His name is yet almost unknown, sire; it is M. Colbert, my attendant.
Oh! try him," added Mazarin, in an earnest voice; "all that he has
predicted has come to pass, he has a safe glance, he is never mistaken
either in things or in men--which is more surprising still. Sire, I owe
you much, but I think I acquit myself of all towards you in giving you
M. Colbert."

"So be it," said Louis, faintly, for, as Mazarin had said, the name of
Colbert was quite unknown to him, and he thought the enthusiasm of the
cardinal partook of the delirium of a dying man. The cardinal sank back
on his pillows.

"For the present, adieu, sire! adieu," murmured Mazarin. "I am tired,
and I have yet a rough journey to take before I present myself to my new
Master. Adieu, sire!"

The young king felt the tears rise to his eyes; he bent over the dying
man, already half a corpse, and then hastily retired.



CHAPTER 49. The First Appearance of Colbert



The whole night was passed in anguish, common to the dying man and to
the king: the dying man expected his deliverance, the king awaited his
liberty. Louis did not go to bed. An hour after leaving the chamber
of the cardinal, he learned that the dying man, recovering a little
strength, had insisted upon being dressed, adorned and painted, and
seeing the ambassadors. Like Augustus, he no doubt considered the world
a great stage, and was desirous of playing out the last act of the
comedy. Anne of Austria reappeared no more in the cardinal's apartments;
she had nothing more to do there. Propriety was the pretext for her
absence. On his part, the cardinal did not ask for her: the advice the
queen had given her son rankled in his heart.

Towards midnight, while still painted, Mazarin's mortal agony came on.
He had revised his will, and as this will was the exact expression of
his wishes, and as he feared that some interested influence might take
advantage of his weakness to make him change something in it, he had
given orders to Colbert, who walked up and down the corridor which led
to the cardinal's bed-chamber, like the most vigilant of sentinels. The
king, shut up in his own apartment, dispatched his nurse every hour to
Mazarin's chamber, with orders to bring him back the exact bulletin
of the cardinal's state. After having heard that Mazarin was dressed,
painted, and had seen the ambassadors, Louis heard that the prayers
for the dying were being read for the cardinal. At one o'clock in the
morning, Guenaud had administered the last remedy. This was a relic of
the old customs of that fencing time, which was about to disappear to
give place to another time, to believe that death could be kept off
by some good secret thrust. Mazarin, after having taken the remedy,
respired freely for nearly ten minutes. He immediately gave orders that
the news should be spread everywhere of a fortunate crisis. The king, on
learning this, felt as if a cold sweat were passing over his brow;--he
had had a glimpse of the light of liberty; slavery appeared to him more
dark and less acceptable than ever. But the bulletin which followed
entirely changed the face of things. Mazarin could no longer breathe
at all, and could scarcely follow the prayers which the cure of
Saint-Nicholas-des-Champs recited near him. The king resumed his
agitated walk about his chamber, and consulted, as he walked, several
papers drawn from a casket of which he alone had the key. A third time
the nurse returned. M. de Mazarin had just uttered a joke, and had
ordered his "Flora," by Titian, to be revarnished. At length, towards
two o'clock in the morning, the king could no longer resist his
weariness: he had not slept for twenty-four hours. Sleep, so powerful
at his age, overcame him for about an hour. But he did not go to bed for
that hour, he slept in a fauteuil. About four o'clock his nurse awoke
him by entering the room.

"Well?" asked the king.

"Well, my dear sire," said the nurse, clasping her hands with an air of
commiseration. "Well, he is dead!"

The king arose at a bound, as if a steel spring had been applied to his
legs. "Dead!" cried he.

"Alas! yes."

"Is it quite certain?"

"Yes."

"Official?"

"Yes."

"Has the news been made public?"

"Not yet."

"Who told you, then, that the cardinal was dead?"

"M. Colbert."

"M. Colbert?"

"Yes."

"And was he sure of what he said?"

"He came out of the chamber, and had held a glass for some minutes
before the cardinal's lips."

"Ah!" said the king. "And what is become of M. Colbert?"

"He has just left his eminence's chamber."

"Where is he?"

"He followed me."

"So that he is----"

"Sire, waiting at your door, till it shall be your good pleasure to
receive him."

Louis ran to the door, opened it himself, and perceived Colbert standing
waiting in the passage. The king started at sight of this statue, all
clothed in black. Colbert, bowing with profound respect, advanced two
steps towards his majesty. Louis re-entered his chamber, making Colbert
a sign to follow. Colbert entered; Louis dismissed the nurse, who closed
the door as she went out. Colbert remained modestly standing near that
door.

"What do you come to announce to me, monsieur?" said Louis, very much
troubled at being thus surprised in his private thoughts, which he could
not completely conceal.

"That monsieur le cardinal has just expired, sire; and that I bring your
majesty his last adieu."

The king remained pensive for a minute; and during that minute he looked
attentively at Colbert;--it was evident that the cardinal's last words
were in his mind. "Are you, then, M. Colbert?" asked he.

"Yes, sire."

"His faithful servant, as his eminence himself told me?"

"Yes, sire."

"The depositary of many of his secrets?"

"Of all of them."

"The friends and servants of his eminence will be dear to me, monsieur,
and I shall take care that you are well placed in my employment."

Colbert bowed.

"You are a financier, monsieur, I believe?"

"Yes, sire."

"And did monsieur le cardinal employ you in his stewardship?"

"I had that honor, sire."

"You never did anything personally for my household, I believe?"

"Pardon me, sire, it was I who had the honor of giving monsieur le
cardinal the idea of an economy which puts three hundred thousand francs
a year into your majesty's coffers."

"What economy was that, monsieur?" asked Louis XIV.

"Your majesty knows that the hundred Swiss have silver lace on each side
of their ribbons?"

"Doubtless."

"Well, sire, it was I who proposed that imitation silver lace should
be placed upon these ribbons, it could not be detected, and a hundred
thousand crowns serve to feed a regiment during six months; and is the
price of ten thousand good muskets or the value of a vessel of ten guns,
ready for sea."

"That is true," said Louis XIV., considering more attentively, "and,
ma foi! that was a well placed economy; besides, it was ridiculous for
soldiers to wear the same lace as noblemen."

"I am happy to be approved of by your majesty."

"Is that the only appointment you held about the cardinal?" asked the
king.

"It was I who was appointed to examine the accounts of the
superintendent, sire."

"Ah!" said Louis, who was about to dismiss Colbert, but whom that word
stopped; "ah! it was you whom his eminence had charged to control M.
Fouquet, was it? And the result of the examination?"

"Is that there is a deficit, sire; but if your majesty will permit
me----"

"Speak, M. Colbert."

"I ought to give your majesty some explanations."

"Not at all, monsieur, it is you who have controlled these accounts,
give me the result."

"That is very easily done, sire; emptiness everywhere, money nowhere."

"Beware, monsieur; you are roughly attacking the administration of M.
Fouquet, who, nevertheless, I have heard say, is an able man."

Colbert colored, and then became pale, for he felt that from that minute
he entered upon a struggle with a man whose power almost equaled the
sway of him who had just died. "Yes, sire, a very able man," repeated
Colbert, bowing.

"But if M. Fouquet is an able man, and, in spite of that ability, if
money be wanting, whose fault is it?"

"I do not accuse, sire, I verify."

"That is well; make out your accounts, and present them to me. There is
a deficit, you say? A deficit may be temporary; credit returns and funds
are restored."

"No, sire."

"Upon this year, perhaps, I understand that; but upon next year?"

"Next year is eaten as bare as the current year."

"But the year after, then?"

"Will be just like next year."

"What do you tell me, Monsieur Colbert?"

"I say there are four years engaged beforehand.

"They must have a loan, then."

"They must have three, sire."

"I will create offices to make them resign, and the salary of the posts
shall be paid into the treasury."

"Impossible, sire, for there have already been creations upon creations
of offices, the provisions of which are given in blank, so that the
purchasers enjoy them without filling them. That is why your majesty
cannot make them resign. Further, upon each agreement M. Fouquet has
made an abatement of a third, so that the people have been plundered,
without your majesty profiting by it. Let your majesty set down clearly
your thought, and tell me what you wish me to explain."

"You are right, clearness is what you wish, is it not?"

"Yes, sire, clearness. God is God above all things, because He made
light."

"Well, for example," resumed Louis XIV., "if today, the cardinal being
dead, and I being king, suppose I wanted money?"

"Your majesty would not have any."

"Oh! that is strange, monsieur! How! my superintendent would not find me
any money?"

Colbert shook his large head.

"How is that?" said the king, "is the income of the state so much in
debt that there is no longer any revenue?"

"Yes, sire."

The king started. "Explain me that, M. Colbert," added he with a frown.
"If it be so, I will get together the ordonnances to obtain a discharge
from the holders, a liquidation at a cheap rate."

"Impossible, for the ordonnances have been converted into bills, which
bills, for the convenience of return and facility of transaction,
are divided into so many parts that the originals can no longer be
recognized."

Louis, very much agitated, walked about, still frowning. "But, if this
is as you say, Monsieur Colbert," said he, stopping all at once, "I
shall be ruined before I begin to reign."

"You are, in fact, sire," said the impassible caster-up of figures.

"Well, but yet, monsieur, the money is somewhere?"

"Yes, sire, and even as a beginning, I bring your majesty a note of
funds which M. le Cardinal Mazarin was not willing to set down in his
testament, neither in any act whatever, but which he confided to me."

"To you?"

"Yes, sire, with an injunction to remit it to your majesty."

"What! besides the forty millions of the testament?"

"Yes, sire."

"M. de Mazarin had still other funds?"

Colbert bowed.

"Why, that man was a gulf!" murmured the king. "M. de Mazarin on one
side, M. Fouquet on the other,--more than a hundred millions perhaps
between them! No wonder my coffers should be empty!" Colbert waited
without stirring.

"And is the sum you bring me worth the trouble?" asked the king.

"Yes, sire, it is a round sum."

"Amounting to how much?"

"To thirteen millions of livres, sire."

"Thirteen millions!" cried Louis, trembling with joy: "do you say
thirteen millions, Monsieur Colbert?"

"I said thirteen millions, yes, your majesty."

"Of which everybody is ignorant?"

"Of which everybody is ignorant."

"Which are in your hands?"

"In my hands, yes, sire."

"And which I can have?"

"Within two hours, sire."

"But where are they, then?"

"In the cellar of a house which the cardinal possessed in the city, and
which he was so kind as to leave me by a particular clause of his will."

"You are acquainted with the cardinal's will, then?"

"I have a duplicate of it, signed by his hand."

"A duplicate?"

"Yes, sire, and here it is." Colbert drew the deed quietly from his
pocket and showed it to the king. The king read the article relative to
the donation of the house.

"But," said he, "there is no question here but of the house; there is
nothing said of the money."

"Your pardon, sire, it is in my conscience."

"And Monsieur Mazarin has intrusted it to you?"

"Why not, sire?"

"He! a man mistrustful of everybody?"

"He was not so of me, sire, as your majesty may perceive."

Louis fixed his eyes with admiration upon that vulgar but expressive
face. "You are an honest man, M. Colbert," said the king.

"That is not a virtue, it is a duty," replied Colbert, coolly.

"But," added Louis, "does not the money belong to the family?"

"If this money belonged to the family it would be disposed of in the
testament, as the rest of his fortune is. If this money belonged to the
family, I, who drew up the deed of donation in favor of your majesty,
should have added the sum of thirteen millions to that of forty millions
which was offered to you."

"How!" exclaimed Louis XIV., "was it you who drew up the deed of
donation?"

"Yes, sire."

"And yet the cardinal was attached to you?" added the king ingenuously.

"I had assured his eminence you would by no means accept the gift," said
Colbert in that same quiet manner we have described, and which, even in
the common habits of life, had something solemn in it.

Louis passed his hand over his brow. "Oh! how young I am," murmured he,
"to have the command of men."

Colbert waited the end of this monologue. He saw Louis raise his head.
"At what hour shall I send the money to your majesty?" asked he.

"To-night, at eleven o'clock; I desire that no one may know that I
possess this money."

Colbert made no more reply than if the thing had not been said to him.

"Is the amount in ingots, or coined gold?"

"In coined gold, sire."

"That is well."

"Where shall I send it?"

"To the Louvre. Thank you, M. Colbert."

Colbert bowed and retired. "Thirteen millions!" exclaimed Louis, as soon
as he was alone. "This must be a dream!" Then he allowed his head to
sink between his hands, as if he were really asleep. But at the end of a
moment he arose, and opening the window violently he bathed his burning
brow in the keen morning air, which brought to his senses the scent of
the trees, and the perfume of flowers. A splendid dawn was gilding the
horizon, and the first rays of the sun bathed in flame the young king's
brow. "This is the dawn of my reign," murmured Louis XIV. "It's a
presage sent by the Almighty."



CHAPTER 50. The First Day of the Royalty of Louis XIV



In the morning, the news of the death of the cardinal was spread through
the castle, and thence speedily reached the city. The ministers Fouquet,
Lyonne, and Letellier entered la salle des seances, to hold a council.
The king sent for them immediately. "Messieurs," said he, "as long as
monsieur le cardinal lived, I allowed him to govern my affairs; but now
I mean to govern them myself. You will give me your advice when I ask
it. You may go."

The ministers looked at each other with surprise. If they concealed a
smile it was with a great effort, for they knew that the prince, brought
up in absolute ignorance of business, by this took upon himself a burden
much too heavy for his strength. Fouquet took leave of his colleagues
upon the stairs, saying:--"Messieurs! there will be so much less labor
for us."

And he climbed gayly into his carriage. The others, a little uneasy
at the turn things had taken, went back to Paris together. Towards ten
o'clock the king repaired to the apartment of his mother, with whom
he had a long and private conversation. After dinner, he got into
his carriage, and went straight to the Louvre. There he received much
company, and took a degree of pleasure in remarking the hesitation of
each, and the curiosity of all. Towards evening he ordered the doors of
the Louvre to be closed, with the exception of one only, which opened on
the quay. He placed on duty at this point two hundred Swiss, who did not
speak a word of French, with orders to admit all who carried packages,
but no others; and by no means to allow any one to go out. At eleven
o'clock precisely, he heard the rolling of a heavy carriage under the
arch, then of another, then of a third; after which the gate grated upon
its hinges to be closed. Soon after, somebody scratched with his nail at
the door of the cabinet. The king opened it himself, and beheld Colbert,
whose first word was this:--"The money is in your majesty's cellar."

The king then descended and went himself to see the barrels of specie,
in gold and silver, which, under the direction of Colbert, four men had
just rolled into a cellar of which the king had given Colbert the key
in the morning. This review completed, Louis returned to his apartments,
followed by Colbert, who had not apparently warmed with one ray of
personal satisfaction.

"Monsieur," said the king, "what do you wish that I should give you, as
a recompense for this devotedness and probity?"

"Absolutely nothing, sire."

"How nothing? Not even an opportunity of serving me?"

"If your majesty were not to furnish me with that opportunity, I should
not the less serve you. It is impossible for me not to be the best
servant of the king."

"You shall be intendant of the finances, M. Colbert."

"But there is already a superintendent, sire."

"I know that."

"Sire, the superintendent of the finances is the most powerful man in
the kingdom."

"Ah!" cried Louis, coloring, "do you think so?"

"He will crush me in a week, sire. Your majesty gives me a controle
for which strength is indispensable. An intendant under a
superintendent,--that is inferiority."

"You want support--you do not reckon upon me?"

"I had the honor of telling your majesty that during the lifetime of
M. de Mazarin, M. Fouquet was the second man in the kingdom; now M. de
Mazarin is dead, M. Fouquet is become the first."

"Monsieur, I agree to what you told me of all things up to to-day; but
to-morrow, please to remember, I shall no longer suffer it."

"Then I shall be of no use to your majesty?"

"You are already, since you fear to compromise yourself in serving me."

"I only fear to be placed so that I cannot serve your majesty."

"What do you wish, then?"

"I wish your majesty to allow me assistance in the labors of the office
of intendant."

"The post would lose its value."

"It would gain in security."

"Choose your colleagues."

"Messieurs Breteuil, Marin, Harvard."

"To-morrow the ordonnance shall appear.

"Sire, I thank you."

"Is that all you ask?

"No, sire, one thing more."

"What is that?"

"Allow me to compose a chamber of justice."

"What would this chamber of justice do?"

"Try the farmers-general and contractors, who, during ten years, have
been robbing the state."

"Well, but what would you do with them?"

"Hang two or three, and that would make the rest disgorge."

"I cannot commence my reign with executions, Monsieur Colbert."

"On the contrary, sire, you had better, in order not to have to end with
them."

The king made no reply. "Does your majesty consent?" said Colbert.

"I will reflect upon it, monsieur."

"It will be too late when reflection may be made."

"Why?"

"Because you have to deal with people stronger than ourselves, if they
are warned."

"Compose that chamber of justice, monsieur."

"I will, sire."

"Is that all?"

"No, sire; there is still another important affair. What rights does
your majesty attach to this office of intendant?"

"Well--I do not know--the customary ones."

"Sire, I desire that this office be invested with the right of reading
the correspondence with England."

"Impossible, monsieur, for that correspondence is kept from the council;
monsieur le cardinal himself carried it on."

"I thought your majesty had this morning declared that there should no
longer be a council?"

"Yes, I said so."

"Let your majesty then have the goodness to read all the letters
yourself, particularly those from England; I hold strongly to this
article."

"Monsieur, you shall have that correspondence, and render me an account
of it."

"Now, sire, what shall I do with respect to the finances?"

"Everything M. Fouquet has not done."

"That is all I ask of your majesty. Thanks, sire, I depart in peace;"
and at these words he took his leave. Louis watched his departure.
Colbert was not yet a hundred paces from the Louvre when the king
received a courier from England. After having looked at and examined the
envelope, the king broke the seal precipitately, and found a letter from
Charles II. The following is what the English prince wrote to his royal
brother:--


"Your majesty must be rendered very uneasy by the illness of M. le
Cardinal Mazarin; but the excess of danger can only prove of service to
you. The cardinal is given over by his physician. I thank you for the
gracious reply you have made to my communication touching the Princess
Henrietta, my sister, and, in a week, the princess and her court will
set out for Paris. It is gratifying to me to acknowledge the fraternal
friendship you have evinced towards me, and to call you, more justly
than ever, my brother. It is gratifying to me, above everything, to
prove to your majesty how much I am interested in all that may please
you. You are having Belle-Isle-en-Mer secretly fortified. That is wrong.
We shall never be at war against each other. That measure does not make
me uneasy, it makes me sad. You are spending useless millions, tell your
ministers so; and rest assured that I am well informed; render me the
same service, my brother, if occasion offers."



The king rang his bell violently, and his valet de chambre appeared.
"Monsieur Colbert is just gone; he cannot be far off. Let him be called
back!" exclaimed he.

The valet was about to execute the order, when the king stopped him.

"No," said he, "no, I see the whole scheme of that man. Belle-Isle
belongs to M. Fouquet; Belle-Isle is being fortified: that is a
conspiracy on the part of M. Fouquet. The discovery of that conspiracy
is the ruin of the superintendent, and that discovery is the result of
the correspondence with England: this is why Colbert wished to have that
correspondence. Oh! but I cannot place all my dependence upon that man;
he has a good head, but I must have an arm!" Louis, all at once, uttered
a joyful cry. "I had," said he, "a lieutenant of musketeers!"

"Yes, sire--Monsieur d'Artagnan."

"He quitted the service for a time."

"Yes, sire."

"Let him be found, and be here to-morrow the first thing in the
morning."

The valet de chambre bowed and went out.

"Thirteen millions in my cellar," said the king; "Colbert carrying my
purse and D'Artagnan my sword--I am king."



CHAPTER 51. A Passion



The day of his arrival, on returning from the Palais Royal, Athos, as we
have seen, went straight to his hotel in the Rue Saint-Honore. He there
found the Vicomte de Bragelonne waiting for him in his chamber, chatting
with Grimaud. It was not an easy thing to talk with this old servant.
Two men only possessed the secret, Athos and D'Artagnan. The first
succeeded, because Grimaud sought to make him speak himself; D'Artagnan,
on the contrary, because he knew how to make Grimaud talk. Raoul was
occupied in making him describe the voyage to England, and Grimaud had
related it in all its details, with a limited number of gestures and
eight words, neither more nor less. He had, at first, indicated by an
undulating movement of his hand, that his master and he had crossed the
sea. "Upon some expedition?" Raoul had asked.

Grimaud by bending down his head had answered, "Yes."

"When monsieur le comte incurred much danger?" asked Raoul.

"Neither too much nor too little," was replied by a shrug of the
shoulders.

"But, still, what sort of danger?" insisted Raoul.

Grimaud pointed to the sword; he pointed to the fire and to a musket
that was hanging on the wall.

"Monsieur le comte had an enemy there, then?" cried Raoul.

"Monk," replied Grimaud.

"It is strange," continued Raoul, "that monsieur le comte persists in
considering me a novice, and not allowing me to partake the honor and
danger of his adventure."

Grimaud smiled. It was at this moment Athos came in. The host was
lighting him up the stairs, and Grimaud, recognizing the step of his
master, hastened to meet him, which cut short the conversation. But
Raoul was launched on the sea of interrogatories, and did not
stop. Taking both hands of the comte, with warm, but respectful
tenderness,--"How is it, monsieur," said he, "that you have set out upon
a dangerous voyage without bidding me adieu, without commanding the aid
of my sword, of myself, who ought to be your support, now I have the
strength; whom you have brought up like a man? Ah! monsieur, can you
expose me to the cruel trial of never seeing you again?"

"Who told you, Raoul," said the comte, placing his cloak and hat in the
hands of Grimaud, who had unbuckled his sword, "who told you that my
voyage was a dangerous one?"

"I," said Grimaud.

"And why did you do so?" said Athos, sternly.

Grimaud was embarrassed; Raoul came to his assistance, by answering for
him. "It is natural, monsieur that our good Grimaud should tell me the
truth in what concerns you. By whom should you be loved and supported,
if not by me?"

Athos did not reply. He made a friendly motion to Grimaud, which sent
him out of the room, he then seated himself in a fauteuil, whilst Raoul
remained standing before him.

"But is it true," continued Raoul, "that your voyage was an expedition,
and that steel and fire threatened you?"

"Say no more about that, vicomte," said Athos mildly. "I set out
hastily, it is true: but the service of King Charles II. required a
prompt departure. As to your anxiety, I thank you for it, and I know
that I can depend upon you. You have not wanted for anything, vicomte,
in my absence, have you?"

"No, monsieur, thank you."

"I left orders with Blaisois to pay you a hundred pistoles, if you
should stand in need of money."

"Monsieur, I have not seen Blaisois."

"You have been without money, then?"

"Monsieur, I had thirty pistoles left from the sale of the horses I took
in my last campaign, and M. le Prince had the kindness to allow me to
win two hundred pistoles at his play-table three months ago."

"Do you play? I don't like that, Raoul."

"I never play, monsieur; it was M. le Prince who ordered me to hold his
cards at Chantilly--one night when a courier came to him from the king.
I won, and M. le Prince commanded me to take the stakes."

"Is that a practice in the household, Raoul?" asked Athos with a frown.

"Yes, monsieur; every week M. le Prince affords, upon one occasion or
another, a similar advantage to one of his gentlemen. There are fifty
gentlemen in his highness's household; it was my turn."

"Very well! You went into Spain, then?"

"Yes, monsieur, I made a very delightful and interesting journey."

"You have been back a month, have you not?"

"Yes, monsieur."

"And in the course of that month?"

"In that month----"

"What have you done?"

"My duty, monsieur."

"Have you not been home, to La Fere?"

Raoul colored. Athos looked at him with a fixed but tranquil expression.

"You would be wrong not to believe me," said Raoul. "I feel that I
colored, and in spite of myself. The question you did me the honor
to ask me is of a nature to raise in me much emotion. I color, then,
because I am agitated, not because I meditate a falsehood."

"I know, Raoul, you never lie."

"No, monsieur."

"Besides, my young friend, you would be wrong; what I wanted to say----"

"I know quite well, monsieur. You would ask me if I have not been to
Blois?"

"Exactly so."

"I have not been there; I have not even seen the person to whom you
allude."

Raoul's voice trembled as he pronounced these words. Athos, a sovereign
judge in all matters of delicacy, immediately added, "Raoul, you answer
with a painful feeling; you are unhappy."

"Very, monsieur; you have forbidden me to go to Blois, or to see
Mademoiselle de la Valliere again." Here the young man stopped. That
dear name, so delightful to pronounce, made his heart bleed, although so
sweet upon his lips.

"And I have acted rightly, Raoul," Athos hastened to reply. "I am
neither an unjust nor a barbarous father; I respect true love; but I
look forward for you to a future--an immense future. A new reign is
about to break upon us like a fresh dawn. War calls upon a young king
full of chivalric spirit. What is wanting to assist this heroic ardor
is a battalion of young and free lieutenants who would rush to the fight
with enthusiasm and fall, crying: 'Vive le Roi!' instead of 'Adieu, my
dear wife.' You understand that, Raoul. However brutal my reasoning
may appear, I conjure you, then, to believe me, and to turn away your
thoughts from those early days of youth in which you took up this habit
of love--days of effeminate carelessness, which soften the heart and
render it incapable of consuming those strong, bitter draughts called
glory and adversity. Therefore, Raoul, I repeat to you, you should see
in my counsel only the desire of being useful to you, only the ambition
of seeing you prosper. I believe you capable of becoming a remarkable
man. March alone, and you will march better, and more quickly."

"You have commanded, monsieur," replied Raoul, "and I obey."

"Commanded!" cried Athos. "Is it thus you reply to me? I have commanded
you! Oh! you distort my words as you misconceive my intentions. I do not
command you; I request you."

"No, monsieur, you have commanded," said Raoul, persistently; "had you
only requested me, your request is even more effective than your order.
I have not seen Mademoiselle de la Valliere again."

"But you are unhappy! you are unhappy!" insisted Athos.

Raoul made no reply.

"I find you pale; I find you dull. The sentiment is strong, then?"

"It is a passion," replied Raoul.

"No--a habit."

"Monsieur, you know I have traveled much, that I have passed two years
far away from her. A habit would yield to an absence of two years, I
believe; whereas, on my return, I loved, not more, that was impossible,
but as much. Mademoiselle de la Valliere is for me the one lady above
all others; but you are for me a god upon earth--to you I sacrifice
everything."

"You are wrong," said Athos; "I have no longer any right over you. Age
has emancipated you; you no longer even stand in need of my consent.
Besides, I will not refuse my consent after what you have told me. Marry
Mademoiselle de la Valliere, if you like."

Raoul was startled, but suddenly: "You are very kind, monsieur," said
he, "and your concession excites my warmest gratitude, but I will not
accept it."

"Then you now refuse?"

"Yes, monsieur."

"I will not oppose you in anything, Raoul."

"But you have at the bottom of your heart an idea against this marriage:
it is not your choice."

"That is true."

"That is sufficient to make me resist: I will wait."

"Beware, Raoul! What you are now saying is serious."

"I know it is, monsieur; as I said, I will wait."

"Until I die?" said Athos, much agitated.

"Oh! monsieur," cried Raoul, with tears in his eyes, "is it possible
that you should wound my heart thus? I have never given you cause of
complaint!"

"Dear boy, that is true," murmured Athos, pressing his lips violently
together to conceal the emotion of which he was no longer master. "No,
I will no longer afflict you; only I do not comprehend what you mean by
waiting. Will you wait till you love no longer?"

"Ah! for that!--no, monsieur. I will wait till you change your opinion."

"I should wish to put the matter to a test, Raoul; I should like to see
if Mademoiselle de la Valliere will wait as you do."

"I hope so, monsieur."

"But take care, Raoul! suppose she did not wait? Ah, you are so young,
so confiding, so loyal! Women are changeable."

"You have never spoken ill to me of women, monsieur; you have never
had to complain of them; why should you doubt of Mademoiselle de la
Valliere?"

"That is true," said Athos, casting down his eyes; "I have never spoken
ill to you of women; I have never had to complain of them; Mademoiselle
de la Valliere never gave birth to a suspicion; but when we are looking
forward, we must go even to exceptions, even to improbabilities! If, I
say, Mademoiselle de la Valliere should not wait for you?"

"How, monsieur?"

"If she turned her eyes another way."

"If she looked favorably upon another, do you mean, monsieur?" said
Raoul, pale with agony.

"Exactly."

"Well, monsieur, I would kill him," said Raoul, simply, "and all the men
whom Mademoiselle de la Valliere should choose, until one of them had
killed me, or Mademoiselle de la Valliere had restored me her heart."

Athos started. "I thought," resumed he, in an agitated voice, "that you
called me just now your god, your law in this world."

"Oh!" said Raoul, trembling, "you would forbid me the duel?"

"Suppose I did forbid it, Raoul?"

"You would forbid me to hope, monsieur; consequently you would not
forbid me to die."

Athos raised his eyes toward the vicomte. He had pronounced these words
with the most melancholy inflection, accompanied by the most melancholy
look. "Enough," said Athos, after a long silence, "enough of this
subject, upon which we both go too far. Live as well as you are able,
Raoul, perform your duties, love Mademoiselle de; la Valliere; in a
word, act like a man, since you have attained the age of a man; only do
not forget that I love you tenderly, and that you profess to love me."

"Ah! monsieur le comte!" cried Raoul, pressing the hand of Athos to his
heart.

"Enough, dear boy, leave me; I want rest. A propos, M. d'Artagnan has
returned from England with me; you owe him a visit."

"I will pay it, monsieur, with great pleasure. I love Monsieur
d'Artagnan exceedingly."

"You are right in doing so; he is a worthy man and a brave cavalier."

"Who loves you dearly."

"I am sure of that. Do you know his address?"

"At the Louvre, I suppose, or wherever the king is. Does he not command
the musketeers?"

"No; at present M. d'Artagnan is absent on leave; he is resting for
awhile. Do not, therefore, seek him at the posts of his service. You
will hear of him at the house of a certain Planchet."

"His former lackey?"

"Exactly, turned grocer."

"I know; Rue des Lombards?"

"Somewhere thereabouts, or Rue des Arcis."

"I will find it, monsieur,--I will find it."

"You will say a thousand kind things to him, on my part, and ask him to
come and dine with me before I set out for La Fere."

"Yes, monsieur."

"Good-night, Raoul!"

"Monsieur, I see you wear an order I never saw you wear before; accept
my compliments!"

"The Fleece! that is true. A bauble, my boy, which no longer amuses an
old child like myself. Goodnight, Raoul!"



CHAPTER 52. D'Artagnan's Lesson



Raoul did not meet with D'Artagnan the next day, as he had hoped. He
only met with Planchet, whose joy was great at seeing the young man
again, and who contrived to pay him two or three little soldierly
compliments, savoring very little of the grocer's shop. But as Raoul
was returning the next day from Vincennes, at the head of fifty dragoons
confided to him by Monsieur le Prince, he perceived, in La Place
Baudoyer, a man with his nose in the air, examining a house as we
examine a horse we have a fancy to buy. This man, dressed in citizen
costume buttoned up like a military pourpoint, a very small hat on his
head, but a long shagreen-mounted sword by his side, turned his head as
soon as he heard the steps of the horses, and left off looking at the
house to look at the dragoons. It was simply M. d'Artagnan; D'Artagnan
on foot; D'Artagnan with his hands behind him, passing a little review
upon the dragoons, after having reviewed the buildings. Not a man, not
a tag, not a horse's hoof escaped his inspection. Raoul rode at the side
of his troop; D'Artagnan perceived him the last. "Eh!" said he, "Eh!
Mordioux!"

"I was not mistaken!" cried Raoul, turning his horse towards him.

"Mistaken--no! Good-day to you," replied the ex-musketeer; whilst Raoul
eagerly pressed the hand of his old friend. "Take care, Raoul," said
D'Artagnan, "the second horse of the fifth rank will lose a shoe
before he gets to the Pont Marie; he has only two nails left in his off
fore-foot."

"Wait a minute, I will come back," said Raoul.

"Can you quit your detachment?"

"The cornet is there to take my place."

"Then you will come and dine with me?"

"Most willingly, Monsieur d'Artagnan."

"Be quick, then; leave your horse, or make them give me one."

"I prefer coming back on foot with you."

Raoul hastened to give notice to the cornet, who took his post; he
then dismounted, gave his horse to one of the dragoons, and with great
delight seized the arm of M. d'Artagnan, who had watched him during all
these little evolutions with the satisfaction of a connoisseur.

"What, do you come from Vincennes?" said he.

"Yes, monsieur le chevalier."

"And the cardinal?"

"Is very ill, it is even reported he is dead.'

"Are you on good terms with M. Fouquet?" asked D'Artagnan, with a
disdainful movement of the shoulders, proving that the death of Mazarin
did not affect him beyond measure.

"With M. Fouquet?" said Raoul, "I do not know him."

"So much the worse! so much the worse! for a new king always seeks to
get good men in his employment."

"Oh! the king means no harm," replied the young man.

"I say nothing about the crown," cried D'Artagnan; "I am speaking of the
king--the king, that is M. Fouquet, if the cardinal is dead. You must
contrive to stand well with M. Fouquet, if you do not wish to molder
away all your life as I have moldered. It is true you have, fortunately,
other protectors."

"M. le Prince, for instance."

"Worn out! worn out!"

"M. le Comte de la Fere?"

"Athos! Oh! that's different; yes, Athos--and if you have any wish to
make your way in England, you cannot apply to a better person; I can
even say, without too much vanity, that I myself have some credit at the
court of Charles II. There is a king--God speed him!"

"Ah!" cried Raoul, with the natural curiosity of well-born young people,
while listening to experience and courage.

"Yes, a king who amuses himself, it is true, but who has had a sword
in his hand, and can appreciate useful men. Athos is on good terms
with Charles II. Take service there, and leave these scoundrels of
contractors and farmers-general, who steal as well with French hands as
others have done with Italian hands; leave the little snivelling
king, who is going to give us another reign of Francis II. Do you know
anything of history, Raoul?"

"Yes, monsieur le chevalier."

"Do you know, then, that Francis II. had always the earache?"

"No, I did not know that."

"That Charles IV. had always the headache?"

"Indeed!"

"And Henry III. always the stomach-ache?"

Raoul began to laugh.

"Well, my dear friend, Louis XIV. always has the heartache; it is
deplorable to see a king sighing from morning till night without saying
once in course of the day, ventre-saint-gris! corboeuf! or anything to
rouse one."

"Was that the reason why you quitted the service, monsieur le
chevalier?"

"Yes."

"But you yourself, M. d'Artagnan, are throwing the handle after the axe;
you will not make a fortune."

"Who? I?" replied D'Artagnan, in a careless tone; "I am settled--I had
some family property."

Raoul looked at him. The poverty of D'Artagnan was proverbial. A Gascon,
he exceeded in ill-luck all the gasconnades of France and Navarre; Raoul
had a hundred times heard Job and D'Artagnan named together, as the
twins Romulus and Remus. D'Artagnan caught Raoul's look of astonishment.

"And has not your father told you I have been in England?"

"Yes, monsieur le chevalier."

"And that I there met with a very lucky chance?"

"No, monsieur, I did not know that."

"Yes, a very worthy friend of mine, a great nobleman, the viceroy of
Scotland and Ireland, has endowed me with an inheritance."

"An inheritance?"

"And a good one, too."

"Then you are rich?"

"Bah!"

"Receive my sincere congratulation."

"Thank you! Look, that is my house."

"Place de Greve?"

"Yes, don't you like this quarter?"

"On the contrary, the look-out over the water is pleasant. Oh! what a
pretty old house!"

"The sign Notre Dame; it is an old cabaret, which I have transformed
into a private house in two days."

"But the cabaret is still open?"

"Pardieu!"

"And where do you lodge, then?

"I? I lodge with Planchet."

"You said, just now, 'This is my house.'"

"I said so, because, in fact, it is my house. I have bought it."

"Ah!" said Raoul.

"At ten years' purchase, my dear Raoul; a superb affair, I bought the
house for thirty thousand livres; it has a garden which opens to the
Rue de la Mortillerie; the cabaret lets for a thousand livres, with the
first story; the garret, or second floor, for five hundred livres."

"Indeed!"

"Yes, indeed."

"Five hundred livres for a garret? Why, it is not habitable."

"Therefore no one inhabits it, only, you see this garret has two windows
which look out upon the Place."

"Yes, monsieur."

"Well, then, every time anybody is broken on the wheel or hung,
quartered, or burnt, these two windows let for twenty pistoles."

"Oh!" said Raoul, with horror.

"It is disgusting, is it not?" said D'Artagnan.

"Oh!" repeated Raoul.

"It is disgusting, but so it is. These Parisian cockneys are sometimes
real anthropophagi. I cannot conceive how men, Christians, can make such
speculations."

"That is true."

"As for myself," continued D'Artagnan, "if I inhabited that house, on
days of execution I would shut it up to the very keyholes; but I do not
inhabit it."

"And you let the garret for five hundred livres?"

"To the ferocious cabaretier, who sub-lets it. I said, then, fifteen
hundred livres."

"The natural interest of money," said Raoul,--"five per cent."

"Exactly so. I then have left the side of the house at the back,
store-rooms, and cellars, inundated every winter, two hundred livres;
and the garden, which is very fine, well planted, well shaded under the
walls and the portal of Saint-Gervais-Saint-Protais, thirteen hundred
livres."

"Thirteen hundred livres! why, that is royal!"

"This is the whole history. I strongly suspect some canon of the parish
(these canons are all as rich as Croesus)--I suspect some canon of
having hired the garden to take his pleasure in. The tenant has given
the name of M. Godard. That is either a false name or a real name;
if true, he is a canon; if false, he is some unknown; but of what
consequence is it to me? he always pays in advance. I had also an idea
just now, when I met you, of buying a house in the Place Baudoyer, the
back premises of which join my garden, and would make a magnificent
property. Your dragoons interrupted my calculations. But come, let
us take the Rue de la Vannerie: that will lead us straight to M.
Planchet's." D'Artagnan mended his pace, and conducted Raoul to
Planchet's dwelling, a chamber of which the grocer had given up to his
old master. Planchet was out, but the dinner was ready. There was a
remains of military regularity and punctuality preserved in the grocer's
household. D'Artagnan returned to the subject of Raoul's future.

"Your father brings you up rather strictly?" said he.

"Justly, monsieur le chevalier."

"Oh, yes, I know Athos is just, but close, perhaps?"

"A royal hand, Monsieur d'Artagnan."

"Well, never want, my boy! If ever you stand in need of a few pistoles,
the old musketeer is at hand."

"My dear Monsieur d'Artagnan!"

"Do you play a little?"

"Never."

"Successful with the ladies, then?--Oh, my little Aramis! That, my dear
friend, costs even more than play. It is true we fight when we lose,
that is a compensation. Bah! that little sniveller, the king, makes
winners give him his revenge. What a reign! my poor Raoul, what a reign!
When we think that, in my time, the musketeers were besieged in their
houses like Hector and Priam in the city of Troy, and the women wept,
and then the walls laughed, and then five hundred beggarly fellows
clapped their hands, and cried, 'Kill! kill!' when not one musketeer was
hurt. Mordioux! you will never see anything like that."

"You are very hard upon the king, my dear Monsieur d'Artagnan; and yet
you scarcely know him."

"I! Listen, Raoul. Day by day, hour by hour,--take note of my words,--I
will predict what he will do. The cardinal being dead, he will fret;
very well, that is the least silly thing he will do, particularly if he
does not shed a tear."

"And then?"

"Why then he will get M. Fouquet to allow him a pension, and will go and
compose verses at Fontainebleau, upon some Mancini or other, whose eyes
the queen will scratch out. She is a Spaniard, you see,--this queen of
ours, and she has, for mother-in-law, Madame Anne of Austria. I know
something of the Spaniards of the house of Austria."

"And next?"

"Well, after having torn off the silver lace from the uniforms of his
Swiss, because lace is too expensive, he will dismount the musketeers,
because the oats and hay of a horse cost five sols a day."

"Oh! do not say that."

"Of what consequence is it to me? I am no longer a musketeer, am I? Let
them be on horseback, let them be on foot, let them carry a larding-pin,
a spit, a sword, or nothing--what is it to me?"

"My dear Monsieur d'Artagnan, I beseech you speak no more ill of the
king. I am almost in his service, and my father would be very angry
with me for having heard, even from your mouth, words injurious to his
majesty."

"Your father, eh? He is a knight in every bad cause. Pardieu! yes,
your father is a brave man, a Caesar, it is true--but a man without
perception."

"Now, my dear chevalier," exclaimed Raoul, laughing, "are you going to
speak ill of my father, of him you call the great Athos. Truly you are
in a bad vein to-day; riches render you as sour as poverty renders other
people."

"Pardieu! you are right. I am a rascal and in my dotage; I am an unhappy
wretch grown old; a tent-cord untwisted, a pierced cuirass, a boot
without a sole, a spur without a rowel;--but do me the pleasure to add
one thing."

"What is that, my dear Monsieur d'Artagnan?"

"Simply say: 'Mazarin was a pitiful wretch.'"

"Perhaps he is dead."

"More the reason--I say was; if I did not hope that he was dead, I would
entreat you to say: 'Mazarin is a pitiful wretch.' Come, say so, say so,
for love of me."

"Well, I will."

"Say it!"

"Mazarin was a pitiful wretch," said Raoul, smiling at the musketeer,
who roared with laughter, as in his best days.

"A moment," said the latter; "you have spoken my first proposition,
here is the conclusion of it,--repeat, Raoul, repeat: 'But I regret
Mazarin.'"

"Chevalier!"

"You will not say it? Well, then, I will say it twice for you."

"But you would regret Mazarin?"

And they were still laughing and discussing this profession of
principles, when one of the shop-boys entered. "A letter, monsieur,"
said he, "for M. d'Artagnan."

"Thank you; give it me," cried the musketeer.

"The handwriting of monsieur le comte," said Raoul.

"Yes, yes." And D'Artagnan broke the seal.

"Dear friend," said Athos, "a person has just been here to beg me to
seek for you, on the part of the king."

"Seek me!" said D'Artagnan, letting the paper fall upon the table. Raoul
picked it up, and continued to read aloud:--

"Make haste. His majesty is very anxious to speak to you, and expects
you at the Louvre."

"Expects me?" again repeated the musketeer.

"He, he, he!" laughed Raoul.

"Oh, oh!" replied D'Artagnan. "What the devil can this mean?"



CHAPTER 53. The King



The first moment of surprise over, D'Artagnan reperused Athos's note.
"It is strange," said he, "that the king should send for me."

"Why so?" said Raoul; "do you not think, monsieur, that the king must
regret such a servant as you?"

"Oh, oh!" cried the officer, laughing with all his might; "you are
poking fun at me, Master Raoul. If the king had regretted me, he would
not have let me leave him. No, no; I see in it something better, or
worse, if you like."

"Worse! What can that be, monsieur le chevalier?"

"You are young, you are a boy, you are admirable. Oh, how I should like
to be as you are! To be but twenty-four, with an unfurrowed brow,
under which the brain is void of everything but women, love, and good
intentions. Oh, Raoul, as long as you have not received the smiles
of kings, the confidence of queens; as long as you have not had two
cardinals killed under you, the one a tiger, the other a fox, as long as
you have not--But what is the good of all this trifling? We must part,
Raoul."

"How you say the word! What a serious face!"

"Eh! but the occasion is worthy of it. Listen to me. I have a very good
recommendation to tender you."

"I am all attention, Monsieur d'Artagnan."

"You will go and inform your father of my departure."

"Your departure?"

"Pardieu! You will tell him that I am gone into England; and that I am
living in my little country-house."

"In England, you!--And the king's orders?"

"You get more and more silly: do you imagine that I am going to
the Louvre, to place myself at the disposal of that little crowned
wolf-cub?"

"The king a wolf-cub? Why, monsieur le chevalier, you are mad!"

"On the contrary, I never was so sane. You do not know what he wants to
do with me, this worthy son of Louis le Juste!--But, Mordioux! that
is policy. He wishes to ensconce me snugly in the Bastile--purely and
simply, look you!"

"What for?" cried Raoul, terrified at what he heard.

"On account of what I told him one day at Blois. I was warm; he
remembers it."

"You told him what?"

"That he was mean, cowardly, and silly."

"Good God!" cried Raoul, "is it possible that such words should have
issued from your mouth?"

"Perhaps I don't give the letter of my speech, but I give the sense of
it."

"But did not the king have you arrested immediately?"

"By whom? It was I who commanded the musketeers; he must have commanded
me to convey myself to prison; I would never have consented: I would
have resisted myself. And then I went into England--no more D'Artagnan.
Now, the cardinal is dead, or nearly so, they learn that I am in Paris,
and they lay their hands on me."

"The cardinal was your protector?"

"The cardinal knew me; he knew certain particularities of me; I also
knew some of his; we appreciated each other mutually. And then, on
rendering his soul to the devil, he would recommend Anne of Austria to
make me the inhabitant of a safe place. Go then, and find your father,
relate the fact to him--and adieu!"

"My dear Monsieur d'Artagnan," said Raoul, very much agitated, after
having looked out at the window, "you cannot even fly!"

"Why not?"

"Because there is below an officer of the Swiss guards waiting for you."

"Well!"

"Well, he will arrest you."

D'Artagnan broke into a Homeric laugh.

"Oh! I know very well that you will resist, that you will fight, even;
I know very well that you will prove the conqueror; but that amounts to
rebellion, and you are an officer yourself, knowing what discipline is."

"Devil of a boy, how logical that is!" grumbled D'Artagnan.

"You approve of it, do you not?"

"Yes, instead of passing into the street, where that idiot is waiting
for me, I will slip quietly out at the back. I have a horse in the
stable, and a good one. I will ride him to death; my means permit me
to do so, and by killing one horse after another, I shall arrive at
Boulogne in eleven hours; I know the road. Only tell your father one
thing."

"What is that?"

"That is--that the thing he knows about is placed at Planchet's house,
except a fifth, and that----"

"But, my dear M. d'Artagnan, rest assured that if you fly, two things
will be said of you."

"What are they, my dear friend?"

"The first, that you have been afraid."

"Ah! and who will dare to say that?"

"The king first."

"Well! but he will tell the truth,--I am afraid."

"The second, that you knew yourself guilty."

"Guilty of what?"

"Why, of the crimes they wish to impute to you."

"That is true again. So, then, you advise me to go and get myself made a
prisoner in the Bastile?"

"M. le Comte de la Fere would advise you just as I do."

"Pardieu! I know he would," said D'Artagnan thoughtfully. "You are
right, I shall not escape. But if they cast me into the Bastile?"

"We will get you out again," said Raoul, with a quiet, calm air.

"Mordioux! You said that after a brave fashion, Raoul," said D'Artagnan,
seizing his hand, "that savors of Athos, distinctly. Well, I will go,
then. Do not forget my last word."

"Except a fifth," said Raoul.

"Yes, you are a fine boy! and I wish you to add one thing to that last
word."

"Speak, chevalier!"

"It is that if you cannot get me out of the Bastile, and I remain
there--oh! that will be so, and I shall be a detestable prisoner; I, who
have been a passable man,--in that case, I give three-fifths to you, and
the fourth to your father."

"Chevalier!"

"Mordioux! If you will have some masses said for me, you are welcome."

That being said, D'Artagnan took his belt from the hook, girded on his
sword, took a hat the feather of which was fresh, and held his hand out
to Raoul, who threw himself into his arms. When in the shop, he cast a
quick glance at the shop-lads, who looked upon the scene with a pride
mingled with some inquietude; then plunging his hands into a chest of
currants, he went straight to the officer who was waiting for him at the
door.

"Those features! Can it be you, Monsieur de Friedisch?" cried
D'Artagnan, gayly. "Eh! eh! what, do we arrest our friends?"

"Arrest!" whispered the lads among themselves.

"Yes, it is I, Monsieur d'Artagnan! Good-day to you!" said the Swiss, in
his mountain patois.

"Must I give you up my sword? I warn you, that it is long and heavy;
you had better let me wear it to the Louvre: I feel quite lost in the
streets without a sword, and you would be more at a loss than I should,
with two."

"The king has given no orders about it," replied the Swiss, "so keep
your sword."

"Well, that is very polite on the part of the king. Let us go, at once."

Monsieur Friedisch was not a talker, and D'Artagnan had too many things
to think about to say much. From Planchet's shop to the Louvre was not
far--they arrived in ten minutes. It was a dark night. M. de Friedisch
wanted to enter by the wicket. "No," said D'Artagnan, "you would lose
time by that; take the little staircase."

The Swiss did as D'Artagnan advised, and conducted him to the vestibule
of the king's cabinet. When arrived there, he bowed to his prisoner,
and, without saying anything, returned to his post. D'Artagnan had not
had time to ask why his sword was not taken from him, when the door of
the cabinet opened, and a valet de chambre called "M. D'Artagnan!" The
musketeer assumed his parade carriage and entered, with his large eyes
wide open, his brow calm, his mustache stiff. The king was seated at a
table writing. He did not disturb himself when the step of the musketeer
resounded on the floor; he did not even turn his head. D'Artagnan
advanced as far as the middle of the room, and seeing that the king paid
no attention to him, and suspecting, besides, that this was nothing but
affectation, a sort of tormenting preamble to the explanation that was
preparing, he turned his back on the prince, and began to examine the
frescoes on the cornices, and the cracks in the ceiling. This maneuver
was accompanied by a little tacit monologue. "Ah! you want to humble me,
do you?--you, whom I have seen so young--you, whom I have served as I
would my own child,--you, whom I have served as I would a God--that is
to say, for nothing. Wait awhile! wait awhile! you shall see what a man
can do who has snuffed the air of the fire of the Huguenots, under the
beard of monsieur le cardinal--the true cardinal." At this moment Louis
turned round.

"Ah! are you there, Monsieur d'Artagnan?" said he.

D'Artagnan saw the movement and imitated it. "Yes, sire," said he.

"Very well; have the goodness to wait till I have cast this up."

D'Artagnan made no reply; he only bowed. "That is polite enough,"
thought he; "I have nothing to say."

Louis made a violent dash with his pen, and threw it angrily away.

"Ah! go on, work yourself up!" thought the musketeer; "you will put me
at my ease. You shall find I did not empty the bag, the other day, at
Blois."

Louis rose from his seat, passed his hand over his brow, then, stopping
opposite to D'Artagnan, he looked at him with an air at once imperious
and kind. "What the devil does he want with me? I wish he would begin!"
thought the musketeer.

"Monsieur," said the king, "you know, without doubt, that monsieur le
cardinal is dead?"

"I suspected so, sire."

"You know that, consequently, I am master in my own kingdom?"

"That is not a thing that dates from the death of monsieur le cardinal,
sire; a man is always master in his own house, when he wishes to be so."

"Yes; but do you remember all you said to me at Blois?"

"Now we come to it," thought D'Artagnan, "I was not deceived. Well, so
much the better, it is a sign that my scent is tolerably keen yet."

"You do not answer me," said Louis.

"Sire, I think I recollect."

"You only think?"

"It is so long ago."

"If you do not remember, I do. You said to me,--listen with attention."

"Ah! I shall listen with all my ears, sire; for it is very likely the
conversation will turn in a fashion very interesting to me."

Louis once more looked at the musketeer, The latter smoothed the feather
of his hat, then his mustache, and waited bravely. Louis XIV. continued:
"You quitted my service, monsieur, after having told me the whole
truth?"

"Yes, sire."

"That is, after having declared to me all you thought to be true, with
regard to my mode of thinking and acting. That is always a merit. You
began by telling me that you had served my family thirty years, and were
fatigued."

"I said so; yes, sire."

"And you afterwards admitted that that fatigue was a pretext, and that
discontent was the real cause."

"I was discontented, in fact, but that discontent has never betrayed
itself, that I know of, and if, like a man of heart, I have spoken
out before your majesty, I have not even thought of the matter, before
anybody else."

"Do not excuse yourself, D'Artagnan, but continue to listen to me. When
making me the reproach that you were discontented, you received in reply
a promise:--'Wait.'--Is not that true?"

"Yes, sire, as true as what I told you."

"You answered me, 'Hereafter! No, now, immediately.' Do not excuse
yourself, I tell you. It was natural, but you had no charity for your
poor prince, Monsieur d'Artagnan."

"Sire! charity for a king, on the part of a poor soldier!"

"You understand me very well; you knew that I stood in need of it; you
knew very well that I was not master; you knew very well that my hope
was in the future. Now, you answered me when I spoke of that future, 'My
discharge,--and that directly.'"

"That is true," murmured D'Artagnan, biting his mustache.

"You did not flatter me when I was in distress," added Louis.

"But," said D'Artagnan, raising his head nobly, "if I did not flatter
your majesty when poor, neither did I betray you. I have shed my blood
for nothing; I have watched like a dog at a door, knowing full well that
neither bread nor bone would be thrown to me. I, although poor likewise,
asked nothing of your majesty but the discharge you speak of."

"I know you are a brave man, but I was a young man, and you ought to
have had some indulgence for me. What had you to reproach the king
with?--that he left King Charles II. without assistance?--let us say
further--that he did not marry Mademoiselle de Mancini?" When saying
these words, the king fixed upon the musketeer a searching look.

"Ah! ah!" thought the latter, "he is doing far more than remembering, he
divines. The devil!"

"Your sentence," continued Louis, "fell upon the king and fell upon the
man. But, Monsieur d'Artagnan, that weakness, for you considered it
a weakness?"--D'Artagnan made no reply--"you reproached me also with
regard to monsieur, the defunct cardinal. Now, monsieur le cardinal,
did he not bring me up, did he not support me?--elevating himself
and supporting himself at the same time, I admit; but the benefit was
discharged. As an ingrate or an egotist, would you, then, have better
loved or served me?"

"Sire!"

"We will say no more about it, monsieur; it would only create in you too
many regrets, and me too much pain."

D'Artagnan was not convinced. The young king, in adopting a tone of
hauteur with him, did not forward his purpose.

"You have since reflected?" resumed Louis.

"Upon what, sire?" asked D'Artagnan, politely.

"Why, upon all that I have said to you, monsieur."

"Yes, sire, no doubt----"

"And you have only waited for an opportunity of retracting your words?"

"Sire!"

"You hesitate, it seems."

"I do not understand what your majesty did me the honor to say to me."

Louis's brow became cloudy.

"Have the goodness to excuse me, sire; my understanding is particularly
thick; things do not penetrate it without difficulty; but it is true,
when once they get in, they remain there."

"Yes, yes; you appear to have a memory."

"Almost as good a one as your majesty's."

"Then give me quickly one solution. My time is valuable. What have you
been doing since your discharge?"

"Making my fortune, sire."

"The expression is crude, Monsieur d'Artagnan."

"Your majesty takes it in bad part, certainly. I entertain nothing but
the profoundest respect for the king; and if I have been impolite, which
might be excused by my long sojourn in camps and barracks, your majesty
is too much above me to be offended at a word that innocently escapes
from a soldier."

"In fact, I know you performed a brilliant action in England, monsieur.
I only regret that you have broken your promise."

"I!" cried D'Artagnan.

"Doubtless. You engaged your word not to serve any other prince on
quitting my service. Now it was for King Charles II. that you undertook
the marvelous carrying off of M. Monk."

"Pardon me, sire, it was for myself."

"And did you succeed?"

"Like the captains of the fifteenth century, coups-de-main and
adventures."

"What do you call succeeding?--a fortune?"

"A hundred thousand crowns, sire, which I now possess--that is, in one
week three times as much money as I ever had in fifty years."

"It is a handsome sum. But you are ambitious, I perceive."

"I, sire? The quarter of that would be a treasure; and I swear to you I
have no thought of augmenting it."

"What! you contemplate remaining idle?"

"Yes, sire."

"You mean to drop the sword?"

"That I have already done."

"Impossible, Monsieur d'Artagnan," said Louis, firmly.

"But, sire----"

"Well?"

"And why, sire?"

"Because it is my wish you should not!" said the young prince, in a
voice so stern and imperious that D'Artagnan evinced surprise and even
uneasiness.

"Will your majesty allow me one word of reply?" said he.

"Speak."

"I formed that resolution when I was poor and destitute."

"So be it. Go on."

"Now, when by my energy I have acquired a comfortable means of
subsistence, would your majesty despoil me of my liberty? Your majesty
would condemn me to the lowest, when I have gained the highest?"

"Who gave you permission, monsieur to fathom my designs, or to reckon
with me?" replied Louis, in a voice almost angry; "who told you what I
shall do or what you will yourself do?"

"Sire," said the musketeer, quietly, "as far as I see, freedom is
not the order of the conversation, as it was on the day we came to an
explanation at Blois."

"No, monsieur; everything is changed."

"I tender your majesty my sincere compliments upon that, but----"

"But you don't believe it?"

"I am not a great statesman, and yet I have my eye upon affairs; it
seldom fails; now, I do not see exactly as your majesty does, sire. The
reign of Mazarin is over, but that of the financiers is begun. They have
the money; your majesty will not often see much of it. To live under
the paw of these hungry wolves is hard for a man who reckoned upon
independence."

At this moment some one scratched at the door of the cabinet; the king
raised his head proudly. "Your pardon, Monsieur d'Artagnan," said he;
"it is M. Colbert, who comes to make me a report. Come in M. Colbert."

D'Artagnan drew back. Colbert entered with papers in his hand, and went
up to the king. There can be little doubt that the Gascon did not lose
the opportunity of applying his keen, quick glance to the new figure
which presented itself.

"Is the inquiry made?"

"Yes, sire."

"And the opinion of the inquisitors?"

"Is that the accused merit confiscation and death."

"Ah! ah!" said the king, without changing countenance, and casting an
oblique look at D'Artagnan. "And your own opinion, M. Colbert?" said he.

Colbert looked at D'Artagnan in his turn. That imposing countenance
checked the words upon his lips. Louis perceived this. "Do not disturb
yourself," said he; "it is M. d'Artagnan,--do you not know M. d'Artagnan
again?"

These two men looked at each other--D'Artagnan, with eyes open and
bright as the day--Colbert, with his half closed, and dim. The frank
intrepidity of the one annoyed the other; the circumspection of the
financier disgusted the soldier. "Ah! ah! this is the gentleman who made
that brilliant stroke in England," said Colbert. And he bowed slightly
to D'Artagnan.

"Ah! ah!" said the Gascon, "this is the gentleman who clipped off the
lace from the uniform of the Swiss! A praiseworthy piece of economy."

The financier thought to pierce the musketeer; but the musketeer ran the
financier through.

"Monsieur d'Artagnan," resumed the king, who had not remarked all the
shades of which Mazarin would have missed not one, "this concerns the
farmers of the revenue who have robbed me, whom I am hanging, and whose
death-warrants I am about to sign."

"Oh! oh!" said D'Artagnan, starting.

"What did you say?"

"Oh! nothing, sire. This is no business of mine."

The king had already taken up the pen, and was applying it to the paper.
"Sire," said Colbert in a subdued voice, "I beg to warn your majesty,
that if an example be necessary, there will be difficulty in the
execution of your orders."

"What do you say?" said Louis.

"You must not conceal from yourself," continued Colbert quietly, "that
attacking the farmers-general is attacking the superintendence. The
two unfortunate guilty men in question are the particular friends of
a powerful personage, and the punishment, which otherwise might be
comfortably confined to the Chatelet will doubtless be a signal for
disturbances!"

Louis colored and turned towards D'Artagnan, who took a slight bite at
his mustache, not without a smile of pity for the financier, and for
the king who had to listen to him so long. But Louis seized the pen, and
with a movement so rapid, that his hand shook, he affixed his signature
at the bottom of the two papers presented by Colbert,--then looking the
latter in the face,--"Monsieur Colbert'" said he, "when you speak to
me on business, exclude more frequently the word difficulty from your
reasonings and opinions; as to the word impossibility, never pronounce
it."

Colbert bowed, much humiliated at having to undergo such a lesson before
the musketeer; he was about to go out, but, jealous to repair his check:
"I forgot to announce to your majesty," said he, "that the confiscations
amount to the sum of five millions of livres."

"That's pretty well!" thought D'Artagnan.

"Which makes in my coffers?" said the king.

"Eighteen millions of livres, sire," replied Colbert, bowing.

"Mordioux!" growled D'Artagnan, "that's glorious!"

"Monsieur Colbert," added the king, "you will, if you please, go through
the gallery where M. Lyonne is waiting, and will tell him to bring
hither what he has drawn up--by my order."

"Directly, sire; if your majesty wants me no more this evening?"

"No, monsieur: good-night!" And Colbert went out.

"Now, let us return to our affair, M. d'Artagnan," said the king, as
if nothing had happened. "You see that, with respect to money, there is
already a notable change."

"Something to the tune of from zero to eighteen millions," replied the
musketeer, gayly. "Ah! that was what your majesty wanted the day King
Charles II. came to Blois. The two states would not have been embroiled
to-day; for I must say, that there also I see another stumbling-block."

"Well, in the first place," replied Louis, "you are unjust, monsieur;
for, if Providence had made me able to give my brother the million that
day, you would not have quitted my service, and, consequently, you would
not have made your fortune, as you told me just now you have done. But,
in addition to this, I have had another piece of good fortune; and my
difference with Great Britain need not alarm you."

A valet de chambre interrupted the king by announcing M. Lyonne. "Come
in, monsieur," said the king; "you are punctual; that is like a good
servant. Let us see your letter to my brother Charles II."

D'Artagnan pricked up his ears. "A moment, monsieur," said Louis,
carelessly to the Gascon, "I must expedite to London my consent to the
marriage of my brother, M. le Duc d'Anjou, with the Princess Henrietta
Stuart."

"He is knocking me about, it seems," murmured D'Artagnan, whilst the
king signed the letter, and dismissed M. de Lyonne, "but, ma foi! the
more he knocks me about in this manner, the better I like it."

The king followed M. de Lyonne with his eyes, till the door was
closed behind him; he even made three steps, as if he would follow the
minister, but, after these three steps, stopping, pausing, and coming
back to the musketeer,--"Now, monsieur," said he, "let us hasten to
terminate our affair. You told me the other day, at Blois, that you were
not rich?"

"But I am now, sire."

"Yes, but that does not concern me; you have your own money, not mine;
that does not enter into my account."

"I do not well understand what your majesty means."

"Then, instead of leaving you to draw out words, speak, spontaneously.
Should you be satisfied with twenty thousand livres a year as a fixed
income?"

"But, sire," said D'Artagnan, opening his eyes to the utmost.

"Would you be satisfied with four horses furnished and kept, and with
a supplement of funds such as you might require, according to occasions
and needs, or would you prefer a fixed sum which would be, for example,
forty thousand livres? Answer."

"Sire, your majesty----"

"Yes, you are surprised; that is natural, and I expected it. Answer me,
come! or I shall think you have no longer that rapidity of judgment I
have so much admired in you."

"It is certain, sire, that twenty thousand livres a year make a handsome
sum; but----"

"No buts! Yes or no, is it an honorable indemnity?"

"Oh! very certainly."

"You will be satisfied with it? That is well. It will be better to
reckon the extra expenses separately; you can arrange that with Colbert.
Now let us pass to something more important."

"But, sire, I told your majesty----"

"That you wanted rest, I know you did: only I replied that I would not
allow it--I am master, I suppose?"

"Yes, sire."

"That is well. You were formerly in the way of becoming captain of the
musketeers?"

"Yes, sire."

"Well, here is your commission signed. I place it in this drawer. The
day on which you shall return from a certain expedition which I have to
confide to you, on that day you may yourself take the commission from
the drawer." D'Artagnan still hesitated, and hung down his head. "Come,
monsieur," said the king, "one would believe, to look at you, that
you did not know that at the court of the most Christian king, the
captain-general of the musketeers takes precedence of the marechals of
France."

"Sire, I know he does.

"Then, am I to think you do put no faith in my word?"

"Oh! sire, never--never dream of such a thing."

"I have wished to prove to you, that you, so good a servant, had lost a
good master; am I anything like the master that will suit you?"

"I begin to think you are, sire."

"Then, monsieur, you will resume your functions. Your company is quite
disorganized since your departure and the men go about drinking and
rioting in the cabarets where they fight, in spite of my edicts,
and those of my father. You will reorganize the service as soon as
possible."

"Yes, sire."

"You will not again quit my person."

"Very well, sire."

"You will march with me to the army, you will encamp round my tent."

"Then, sire," said D'Artagnan, "if it is only to impose upon me a
service like that, your majesty need not give me twenty thousand livres
a year. I shall not earn them."

"I desire that you shall keep open house; I desire that you should keep
a liberal table; I desire that my captain of musketeers should be a
personage."

"And I," said D'Artagnan, bluntly; "I do not like easily found money;
I like money won! Your majesty gives me an idle trade, which the first
comer would perform for four thousand livres."

Louis XIV. began to laugh. "You are a true Gascon, Monsieur d'Artagnan;
you will draw my heart's secret from me."

"Bah! has your majesty a secret, then?"

"Yes, monsieur."

"Well! then I accept the twenty thousand livres, for I will keep that
secret, and discretion is above all price, in these times. Will your
majesty speak now?"

"Boot yourself, Monsieur d'Artagnan, and to horse!"

"Directly, sire."

"Within two days."

"That is well, sire: for I have my affairs to settle before I set out;
particularly if it is likely there should be any blows stirring."

"That may happen."

"We can receive them! But, sire, you have addressed yourself to avarice,
to ambition; you have addressed yourself to the heart of M. d'Artagnan,
but you have forgotten one thing."

"What is that?"

"You have said nothing to his vanity, when shall I be a knight of the
king's orders?"

"Does that interest you?"

"Why, yes, sire. My friend Athos is quite covered with orders, and that
dazzles me."

"You shall be a knight of my order a month after you have taken your
commission of captain."

"Ah! ah!" said the officer, thoughtfully, "after the expedition."

"Precisely."

"Where is your majesty going to send me?"

"Are you acquainted with Bretagne?"

"Have you any friends there?"

"In Bretagne? No, ma foi!"

"So much the better. Do you know anything about fortifications?"

"I believe I do, sire," said D'Artagnan, smiling.

"That is to say you can readily distinguish a fortress from a simple
fortification, such as is allowed to chatelains or vassals?"

"I distinguish a fort from a rampart as I distinguish a cuirass from a
raised pie-crust, sire. Is that sufficient?"

"Yes, monsieur. You will set out then."

"For Bretagne?"

"Yes."

"Alone?"

"Absolutely alone. That is to say, you must not even take a lackey with
you."

"May I ask your majesty for what reason?"

"Because, monsieur, it will be necessary to disguise yourself sometimes,
as the servant of a good family. Your face is very well known in France,
M. d'Artagnan."

"And then, sire?"

"And then you will travel slowly through Bretagne, and will examine
carefully the fortifications of that country."

"The coasts?"

"Yes, and the isles, commencing by Belle-Isle-en-Mer."

"Ah! which belongs to M. Fouquet!" said D'Artagnan, in a serious tone,
raising his intelligent eye to Louis XIV.

"I fancy you are right, monsieur, and that Belle-Isle does belong to M.
Fouquet, in fact."

"Then your majesty wishes me to ascertain if Belle-Isle is a strong
place?"

"Yes."

"If the fortifications of it are new or old?"

"Precisely."

"And if the vassals of M. Fouquet are sufficiently numerous to form a
garrison?"

"That is what I want to know; you have placed your finger on the
question."

"And if they are not fortifying, sire?"

"You will travel about Bretagne, listening and judging."

"Then I am a king's spy?" said D'Artagnan, bluntly, twisting his
mustache.

"No, monsieur."

"Your pardon, sire; I spy on your majesty's account."

"You start on a voyage of discovery, monsieur. Would you march at the
head of your musketeers, with your sword in your hand, to observe any
spot whatever, or an enemy's position?"

At this word D'Artagnan started.

"Do you," continued the king, "imagine yourself to be a spy?"

"No, no," said D'Artagnan, but pensively; "the thing changes its face
when one observes an enemy; one is but a soldier. And if they are
fortifying Belle-Isle?" added he, quickly.

"You will take an exact plan of the fortifications."

"Will they permit me to enter?"

"That does not concern me; that is your affair. Did you not understand
that I reserved for you a supplement of twenty thousand livres per
annum, if you wished it?"

"Yes, sire; but if they are not fortifying?"

"You will return quietly, without fatiguing your horse."

"Sire, I am ready."

"You will begin to-morrow by going to monsieur le surintendant's to take
the first quarter of the pension I give you. Do you know M. Fouquet?"

"Very little, sire; but I beg your majesty to observe that I don't think
it immediately necessary that I should know him."

"Your pardon, monsieur; for he will refuse you the money I wish you to
take; and it is that refusal I look for."

"Ah!" said D'Artagnan. "Then, sire?"

"The money being refused, you will go and seek it at M. Colbert's. A
propos, have you a good horse?"

"An excellent one, sire."

"How much did it cost you?"

"A hundred and fifty pistoles."

"I will buy it of you. Here is a note for two hundred pistoles."

"But I want my horse for my journey, sire."

"Well!"

"Well, and you take mine from me."

"Not at all. On the contrary, I give it you. Only as it is now mine and
not yours, I am sure you will not spare it."

"Your majesty is in a hurry, then?"

"A great hurry."

"Then what compels me to wait two days?"

"Reasons known to myself."

"That's a different affair. The horse may make up the two days, in the
eight he has to travel; and then there is the post."

"No, no, the post compromises, Monsieur d'Artagnan. Begone and do not
forget you are my servant."

"Sire, it is not my duty to forget it! At what hour to-morrow shall I
take my leave of your majesty?"

"Where do you lodge?"

"I must henceforward lodge at the Louvre."

"That must not be now--keep your lodgings in the city: I will pay for
them. As to your departure, it must take place at night; you must set
out without being seen by any one, or, if you are seen, it must not be
known that you belong to me. Keep your mouth shut, monsieur."

"Your majesty spoils all you have said by that single word."

"I asked you where you lodged, for I cannot always send to M. le Comte
de la Fere to seek you."

"I lodge with M. Planchet, a grocer, Rue des Lombards, at the sign of
the Pilon d'Or."

"Go out but little, show yourself less, and await my orders."

"And yet, sire, I must go for the money."

"That is true, but when going to the superintendence, where so many
people are constantly going, you must mingle with the crowd."

"I want the notes, sire, for the money."

"Here they are." The king signed them, and D'Artagnan looked on, to
assure himself of their regularity.

"Adieu! Monsieur d'Artagnan," added the king; "I think you have
perfectly understood me."

"I? I understand that your majesty sends me to Belle-Isle-en-Mer, that
is all."

"To learn?"

"To learn how M. Fouquet's works are going on; that is all."

"Very well: I admit you may be taken."

"And I do not admit it," replied the Gascon, boldly.

"I admit you may be killed," continued the king.

"That is not probable, sire."

"In the first case, you must not speak; in the second there must be no
papers found upon you."

D'Artagnan shrugged his shoulders without ceremony, and took leave of
the king, saying to himself:--"The English shower continues--let us
remain under the spout!"



CHAPTER 54. The Houses of M. Fouquet



Whilst D'Artagnan was returning to Planchet's house, his head aching and
bewildered with all that had happened to him, there was passing a scene
of quite a different character, and which, nevertheless is not foreign
to the conversation our musketeer had just had with the king; only
this scene took place out of Paris, in a house possessed by the
superintendent Fouquet in the village of Saint-Mande. The minister had
just arrived at this country-house, followed by his principal clerk, who
carried an enormous portfolio full of papers to be examined, and
others waiting for signature. As it might be about five o'clock in the
afternoon, the masters had dined: supper was being prepared for twenty
subaltern guests. The superintendent did not stop: on alighting from his
carriage, he, at the same bound, sprang through the doorway, traversed
the apartments and gained his cabinet, where he declared he would shut
himself up to work, commanding that he should not be disturbed for
anything but an order from the king. As soon as this order was given,
Fouquet shut himself up, and two footmen were placed as sentinels at his
door. Then Fouquet pushed a bolt which displaced a panel that walled
up the entrance, and prevented everything that passed in this apartment
from being either seen or heard. But, against all probability, it was
only for the sake of shutting himself up that Fouquet shut himself up
thus, for he went straight to a bureau, seated himself at it, opened
the portfolio, and began to make a choice amongst the enormous mass
of papers it contained. It was not more than ten minutes after he had
entered, and taken all the precautions we have described, when the
repeated noise of several slight equal knocks struck his ear, and
appeared to fix his utmost attention. Fouquet raised his head, turned
his ear, and listened.

The strokes continued. Then the worker arose with a slight movement of
impatience and walked straight up to a glass behind which the blows were
struck by a hand, or by some invisible mechanism. It was a large glass
let into a panel. Three other glasses, exactly similar to it, completed
the symmetry of the apartment. Nothing distinguished that one from the
others. Without doubt, these reiterated knocks were a signal; for, at
the moment Fouquet approached the glass listening, the same noise was
renewed, and in the same measure. "Oh! oh!" murmured the intendent, with
surprise, "who is yonder? I did not expect anybody to-day." And, without
doubt, to respond to that signal, he pulled out a gilded nail near the
glass, and shook it thrice. Then returning to his place, and seating
himself again, "Ma foi! let them wait," said he. And plunging again into
the ocean of papers unrolled before him, he appeared to think of nothing
now but work. In fact with incredible rapidity and marvelous lucidity,
Fouquet deciphered the largest papers and most complicated writings,
correcting them, annotating them with a pen moved as if by a fever,
and the work melting under his hands, signatures, figures, references,
became multiplied as if ten clerks--that is to say, a hundred fingers
and ten brains had performed the duties, instead of the five fingers and
single brain of this man. From time to time, only, Fouquet, absorbed by
his work, raised his head to cast a furtive glance upon a clock placed
before him. The reason of this was, Fouquet set himself a task, and
when this task was once set, in one hour's work he, by himself, did
what another would not have accomplished in a day; always certain,
consequently, provided he was not disturbed, of arriving at the close
in the time his devouring activity had fixed. But in the midst of his
ardent labor, the soft strokes upon the little bell placed behind the
glass sounded again, hasty, and, consequently, more urgent.

"The lady appears to be impatient," said Fouquet. "Humph! a calm! That
must be the comtesse; but, no, the comtesse is gone to Rambouillet
for three days. The presidente, then? Oh! no, the presidente would not
assume such grand airs; she would ring very humbly, then she would wait
my good pleasure. The greatest certainty is, that I do not know who
it can be, but that I know who it cannot be. And since it is not you,
marquise, since it cannot be you, deuce take the rest!" And he went on
with his work in spite of the reiterated appeals of the bell. At the end
of a quarter of an hour, however, impatience prevailed over Fouquet in
his turn: he might be said to consume, rather than to complete the
rest of his work; he thrust his papers into his portfolio, and giving a
glance at the mirror, whilst the taps continued faster than ever: "Oh!
oh!" said he, "whence comes all this racket? What has happened, and who
can the Ariadne be who expects me so impatiently. Let us see!"

He then applied the tip of his finger to the nail parallel to the one
he had drawn. Immediately the glass moved like a folding-door and
discovered a secret closet, rather deep, in which the superintendent
disappeared as if going into a vast box. When there, he touched another
spring, which opened, not a board, but a block of the wall, and he went
out by that opening, leaving the door to shut of itself. Then Fouquet
descended about a score of steps which sank, winding, underground,
and came to a long, subterranean passage, lighted by imperceptible
loopholes. The walls of this vault were covered with slabs or tiles,
and the floor with carpeting. This passage was under the street itself,
which separated Fouquet's house from the Park of Vincennes. At the end
of the passage ascended a winding staircase parallel with that by which
Fouquet had entered. He mounted these other stairs, entered by means
of a spring placed in a closet similar to that in his cabinet, and from
this closet an untenanted chamber furnished with the utmost elegance.
As soon as he entered, he examined carefully whether the glass
closed without leaving any trace, and, doubtless satisfied with
his observation, he opened by means of a small gold key the triple
fastenings of a door in front of him. This time the door opened upon
a handsome cabinet sumptuously furnished, in which was seated upon
cushions a lady of surpassing beauty, who at the sound of the lock
sprang towards Fouquet. "Ah! good heavens!" cried the latter, starting
back with astonishment. "Madame la Marquise de Belliere, you here?"

"Yes," murmured la marquise. "Yes; it is I, monsieur."

"Marquise! dear marquise!" added Fouquet, ready to prostrate himself.
"Ah! my God! how did you come here? And I, to keep you waiting!"

"A long time, monsieur; yes, a very long time!"

"I am happy in thinking this waiting has appeared long to you,
marquise!"

"Oh! an eternity, monsieur; oh! I rang more than twenty times. Did you
not hear me?"

"Marquise, you are pale, you tremble."

"Did you not hear, then, that you were summoned?"

"Oh, yes; I heard plainly enough, madame; but I could not come. After
your rigors and your refusals, how could I dream it was you? If I could
have had any suspicion of the happiness that awaited me, believe me,
madame, I would have quitted everything to fall at your feet, as I do at
this moment."

"Are we quite alone, monsieur?" asked the marquise, looking round the
room.

"Oh, yes, madame, I can assure you of that."

"Really?" said the marquise, in a melancholy tone.

"You sigh!" said Fouquet.

"What mysteries! what precautions!" said the marquise, with a slight
bitterness of expression; "and how evident it is that you fear the least
suspicion of your amours to escape."

"Would you prefer their being made public?"

"Oh, no; you act like a delicate man," said the marquise, smiling.

"Come, dear marquise, punish me not with reproaches, I implore you."

"Reproaches! Have I a right to make you any?"

"No, unfortunately, no; but tell me, you, who during a year I have loved
without return or hope----"

"You are mistaken--without hope it is true, but not without return."

"What! for me, of my love! there is but one proof, and that proof I
still want."

"I am here to bring it, monsieur."

Fouquet wished to clasp her in his arms, but she disengaged herself with
a gesture.

"You persist in deceiving yourself, monsieur, and never will accept of
me the only thing I am willing to give you--devotion."

"Ah, then, you do not love me? Devotion is but a virtue, love is a
passion."

"Listen to me, I implore you: I should not have come hither without a
serious motive: you are well assured of that, are you not?"

"The motive is of very little consequence, so that you are but here--so
that I see you--so that I speak to you!"

"You are right; the principal thing is that I am here without any one
having seen me, and that I can speak to you."--Fouquet sank on his knees
before her. "Speak! speak, madame!" said he, "I listen to you."

The marquise looked at Fouquet, on his knees at her feet, and there
was in the looks of the woman a strange mixture of love and melancholy.
"Oh!" at length murmured she, "would that I were she who has the right
of seeing you every minute, of speaking to you every instant! would
that I were she who might watch over you, she who would have no need of
mysterious springs, to summon and cause to appear, like a sylph, the man
she loves, to look at him for an hour, and then see him disappear in the
darkness of a mystery, still more strange at his going out than at his
coming in. Oh! that would be to live a happy woman!"

"Do you happen, marquise," said Fouquet, smiling, "to be speaking of my
wife?"

"Yes, certainly, of her I spoke."

"Well, you need not envy her lot, marquise; of all the women with whom
I have any relations, Madame Fouquet is the one I see the least of, and
who has the least intercourse with me."

"At least, monsieur, she is not reduced to place, as I have done, her
hand upon the ornament of a glass to call you to her; at least you do
not reply to her by the mysterious, alarming sound of a bell, the spring
of which comes from I don't know where; at least you have not forbidden
her to endeavor to discover the secret of these communications under
pain of breaking off forever your connections with her, as you have
forbidden all who have come here before me, and all who will come after
me."

"Dear marquise, how unjust you are, and how little do you know what you
are doing in thus exclaiming against mystery; it is with mystery alone
we can love without trouble; it is with love without trouble alone that
we can be happy. But let us return to ourselves, to that devotion
of which you were speaking, or rather let me labor under a pleasing
delusion, and believe that this devotion is love."

"Just now," repeated the marquise, passing over her eyes a hand that
might have been a model for the graceful contours of antiquity; "just
now I was prepared to speak, my ideas were clear and bold, now I am
quite confused, quite troubled; I fear I bring you bad news."

"If it is to that bad news I owe your presence, marquise, welcome be
even that bad news! or rather, marquise, since you allow that I am not
quite indifferent to you, let me hear nothing of the bad news, but speak
of yourself."

"No, no, on the contrary, demand it of me; require me to tell it to you
instantly, and not to allow myself to be turned aside by any feeling
whatever. Fouquet, my friend! it is of immense importance!"

"You astonish me, marquise; I will even say you almost frighten me. You,
so serious, so collected; you who know the world we live in so well. Is
it, then important?"

"Oh! very important."

"In the first place, how did you come here?"

"You shall know that presently; but first to something of more
consequence."

"Speak, marquise, speak! I implore you, have pity on my impatience."

"Do you know that Colbert is made intendant of the finances?"

"Bah! Colbert, little Colbert."

"Yes, Colbert, little Colbert."

"Mazarin's factotum?"

"The same."

"Well! what do you see so terrific in that, dear marquise? little
Colbert is intendant; that is astonishing, I confess, but is not
terrific."

"Do you think the king has given, without a pressing motive, such a
place to one you call a little cuistre?"

"In the first place, is it positively true that the king has given it to
him?"

"It is so said."

"Ay, but who says so?"

"Everybody."

"Everybody, that's nobody; mention some one likely to be well informed
who says so."

"Madame Vanel."

"Ah! now you begin to frighten me in earnest," said Fouquet, laughing;
"if any one is well informed, or ought to be well informed, it is the
person you name."

"Do not speak ill of poor Marguerite, Monsieur Fouquet, for she still
loves you."

"Bah! indeed? That is scarcely credible. I thought little Colbert, as
you said just now, had passed over that love, and left the impression
upon it of a spot of ink or a stain of grease."

"Fouquet! Fouquet! Is this the way you always treat the poor creatures
you desert?"

"Why, you surely are not going to undertake the defense of Madame
Vanel?"

"Yes, I will undertake it: for, I repeat, she loves you still, and the
proof is she saves you."

"But your interposition, marquise; that is very cunning on her part. No
angel could be more agreeable to me, or could lead me more certainly to
salvation. But, let me ask you do you know Marguerite?"

"She was my convent friend."

"And you say that she has informed you that Monsieur Colbert was named
intendant?"

"Yes, she did."

"Well, enlighten me, marquise; granted Monsieur Colbert is intendant--so
be it. In what can an intendant, that is to say my subordinate, my
clerk, give me umbrage or injure me, even if he is Monsieur Colbert?"

"You do not reflect, monsieur, apparently," replied the marquise.

"Upon what?"

"This: that Monsieur Colbert hates you."

"Hates me?" cried Fouquet. "Good heavens! marquise, whence do you come?
where can you live? Hates me! why all the world hates me, he, of course
as others do."

"He more than others."

"More than others--let him."

"He is ambitious."

"Who is not, marquise?"

"'Yes, but with him ambition has no bounds."

"I am quite aware of that, since he made it a point to succeed me with
Madame Vanel."

"And obtained his end; look at that."

"Do you mean to say he has the presumption to hope to pass from
intendant to superintendent?"

"Have you not yourself already had the same fear?"

"Oh! oh!" said Fouquet, "to succeed with Madame Vanel is one thing, to
succeed me with the king is another. France is not to be purchased so
easily as the wife of a maitre des comptes."

"Eh! monsieur, everything is to be bought; if not by gold, by intrigue."

"Nobody knows to the contrary better than you, madame, you to whom I
have offered millions."

"Instead of millions, Fouquet, you should have offered me a true, only
and boundless love: I might have accepted that. So you see, still,
everything is to be bought, if not in one way, by another."

"So, Colbert, in your opinion, is in a fair way of bargaining for
my place of superintendent. Make yourself easy on that head, my dear
marquise; he is not yet rich enough to purchase it."

"But if he should rob you of it?"

"Ah! that is another thing. Unfortunately, before he can reach me, that
is to say, the body of the place, he must destroy, must make a breach in
the advanced works, and I am devilishly well fortified, marquise."

"What you call your advanced works are your creatures, are they
not--your friends?"

"Exactly so."

"And is M. d'Eymeris one of your creatures?"

"Yes, he is."

"Is M. Lyodot one of your friends?"

"Certainly."

"M. de Vanin?"

"M. de Vanin! ah! they may do what they like with him, but----"

"But----"

"But they must not touch the others!"

"Well, if you are anxious they should not touch MM. d'Eymeris and
Lyodot, it is time to look about you."

"Who threatens them?"

"Will you listen to me now?"

"Attentively, marquise."

"Without interrupting me?"

"Speak."

"Well, this morning Marguerite sent for me."

"And what did she want with you?"

"'I dare not see M. Fouquet myself,' said she."

"Bah! why should she think I would reproach her? Poor woman, she vastly
deceives herself."

"'See him yourself,' said she, 'and tell him to beware of M. Colbert.'"

"What! she warned me to beware of her lover?"

"I have told you she still loves you."

"Go on, marquise."

"'M. Colbert,' she added, 'came to me two hours ago, to inform me he was
appointed intendant.'"

"I have already told you marquise, that M. Colbert would only be the
more in my power for that."

"Yes, but that is not all: Marguerite is intimate, as you know, with
Madame d'Eymeris and Madame Lyodot."

"I know it."

"Well, M. Colbert put many questions to her, relative to the fortunes of
those two gentlemen, and as to the devotion they had for you."

"Oh, as to those two, I can answer for them; they must be killed before
they will cease to be mine."

"Then, as Madame Vanel was obliged to quit M. Colbert for an instant to
receive a visitor, and as M. Colbert is industrious, scarcely was the
new intendant left alone, before he took a pencil from his pocket, and
as there was paper on the table, began to make notes."

"Notes concerning d'Eymeris and Lyodot?"

"Exactly."

"I should like to know what those notes were about."

"And that is just what I have brought you."

"Madame Vanel has taken Colbert's notes and sent them to me?"

"No, but by a chance which resembles a miracle, she has a duplicate of
those notes."

"How could she get that?"

"Listen; I told you that Colbert found paper on the table."

"Yes."

"That he took a pencil from his pocket."

"Yes."

"And wrote upon that paper."

"Yes."

"Well, this pencil was a lead-pencil, consequently hard; so it marked in
black upon the first sheet, and in white upon the second."

"Go on."

"Colbert, when tearing off the first sheet, took no notice of the
second."

"Well?"

"Well, on the second was to be read what had been written on the first,
Madame Vanel read it, and sent for me."

"Yes, yes."

"Then, when she was assured I was your devoted friend, she gave me the
paper, and told me the secret of this house."

"And this paper?" said Fouquet, in some degree of agitation.

"Here it is, monsieur--read it," said the marquise.

Fouquet read:

"Names of the farmers of revenue to be condemned by the Chamber of
Justice: D'Eymeris, friend of M. F.; Lyodot, friend of M. F.; De Vanin,
indif."

"D'Eymeris and Lyodot!" cried Fouquet, reading the paper eagerly again.

"Friends of M. F.," pointed the marquise with her finger.

"But what is the meaning of these words: 'To be condemned by the Chamber
of Justice'?"

"Dame!" said the marquise, "that is clear enough, I think. Besides, that
is not all. Read on, read on;" and Fouquet continued,---"The two first
to death, the third to be dismissed, with MM. d'Hautemont and de la
Vallette, who will only have their property confiscated."

"Great God!" cried Fouquet, "to death, to death! Lyodot and D'Eymeris.
But even if the Chamber of Justice should condemn them to death, the
king will never ratify their condemnation, and they cannot be executed
without the king's signature."

"The king has made M. Colbert intendant."

"Oh!" cried Fouquet, as if he caught a glimpse of the abyss that yawned
beneath his feet, "impossible! impossible! But who passed a pencil over
the marks made by Colbert?"

"I did. I was afraid the first would be effaced."

"Oh! I will know all."

"You will know nothing, monsieur; you despise your enemy too much for
that."

"Pardon me, my dear marquise; excuse me; yes, M. Colbert is my enemy, I
believe him to be so; yes, M. Colbert is a man to be dreaded, I admit.
But I! I have time, and as you are here, as you have assured me of
your devotion, as you have allowed me to hope for your love, as we are
alone----"

"I came here to save you, Monsieur Fouquet, and not to ruin myself,"
said the marquise, rising--"therefore, beware!----"

"Marquise, in truth you terrify yourself too much at least, unless this
terror is but a pretext----"

"He is very deep, very deep; this M. Colbert: beware!"

Fouquet, in his turn, drew himself up. "And I?" asked he.

"And you, you have only a noble heart. Beware! beware!"

"So?"

"I have done what was right, my friend, at the risk of my reputation.
Adieu!"

"Not adieu, au revoir!"

"Perhaps," said the marquise, giving her hand to Fouquet to kiss, and
walking towards the door with so firm a step, that he did not dare to
bar her passage. As to Fouquet, he retook, with his head hanging down
and a fixed cloud on his brow, the path of the subterranean passage
along which ran the metal wires that communicated from one house to
the other, transmitting, through two glasses, the wishes and signals of
hidden correspondents.



CHAPTER 55. The Abbe Fouquet



Fouquet hastened back to his apartment by the subterranean passage, and
immediately closed the mirror with the spring. He was scarcely in his
closet, when he heard some one knocking violently at the door, and a
well-known voice crying:--"Open the door, monseigneur, I entreat you,
open the door!" Fouquet quickly restored a little order to everything
that might have revealed either his absence or his agitation: he spread
his papers over the desk, took up a pen, and, to gain time, said,
through the closed door,--"Who is there?"

"What, monseigneur, do you not know me?" replied the voice.

"Yes, yes," said Fouquet to himself, "yes, my friend I know you well
enough." And then, aloud: "Is it not Gourville?"

"Why, yes, monseigneur."

Fouquet arose, cast a last look at one of his glasses, went to the
door, pushed back the bolt, and Gourville entered. "Ah, monseigneur!
monseigneur!" cried he, "what cruelty!"

"In what?"

"I have been a quarter of an hour imploring you to open the door, and
you would not even answer me."

"Once for all, you know that I will not be disturbed when I am busy.
Now, although I might make you an exception, Gourville, I insist upon my
orders being respected by others."

"Monseigneur, at this moment, orders, doors, bolts, locks, and walls, I
could have broken, forced and overthrown!"

"Ah! ah! it relates to some great event, then?" asked Fouquet.

"Oh! I assure you it does, monseigneur," replied Gourville.

"And what is this event?" said Fouquet, a little troubled by the evident
agitation of his most intimate confidant.

"There is a secret chamber of justice instituted, monseigneur."

"I know there is, but do the members meet, Gourville?"

"They not only meet, but they have passed a sentence, monseigneur."

"A sentence?" said the superintendent, with a shudder and pallor he
could not conceal. "A sentence!--and on whom?"

"Two of your best friends."

"Lyodot and D'Eymeris, do you mean? But what sort of a sentence?"

"Sentence of death."

"Passed? Oh! you must be mistaken, Gourville; that is impossible."

"Here is a copy of the sentence which the king is to sign to-day, if he
has not already signed it."

Fouquet seized the paper eagerly, read it, and returned it to Gourville.
"The king will never sign that," said he.

Gourville shook his head.

"Monseigneur, M. Colbert is a bold councilor: do not be too confident!"

"Monsieur Colbert again!" cried Fouquet. "How is it that that name rises
upon all occasions to torment my ears, during the last two or three
days? Thou make so trifling a subject of too much importance, Gourville.
Let M. Colbert appear, I will face him; let him raise his head, I will
crush him; but you understand, there must be an outline upon which
my look may fall, there must be a surface upon which my feet may be
placed."

"Patience, monseigneur, for you do not know what Colbert is--study him
quickly; it is with this dark financier as it is with meteors, which the
eye never sees completely before their disastrous invasion; when we feel
them we are dead."

"Oh! Gourville, this is going too far," replied Fouquet, smiling; "allow
me, my friend, not to be so easily frightened; M. Colbert a meteor!
Corbleu, we confront the meteor. Let us see acts, and not words. What
has he done?"

"He has ordered two gibbets of the executioner of Paris," answered
Gourville.

Fouquet raised his head, and a flash gleamed from his eyes. "Are you
sure of what you say?" cried he.

"Here is the proof, monseigneur." And Gourville held out to the
superintendent a note communicated by a certain secretary of the Hotel
de Ville, who was one of Fouquet's creatures.

"Yes, that is true," murmured the minister; "the scaffold may be
prepared, but the king has not signed; Gourville, the king will not
sign."

"I shall soon know," said Gourville.

"How?"

"If the king has signed, the gibbets will be sent this evening to the
Hotel de Ville, in order to be got up and ready by to-morrow morning."

"Oh! no, no!" cried the superintendent once again; "you are all
deceived, and deceive me in my turn; Lyodot came to see me only the
day before yesterday; only three days ago I received a present of some
Syracuse wine from poor D'Eymeris."

"What does that prove?" replied Gourville, "except that the chamber of
justice has been secretly assembled, has deliberated in the absence of
the accused, and that the whole proceeding was complete when they were
arrested."

"What! are they, then, arrested?"

"No doubt they are."

"But where, when, and how have they been arrested?"

"Lyodot, yesterday at daybreak; D'Eymeris, the day before yesterday, in
the evening, as he was returning from the house of his mistress; their
disappearance had disturbed nobody; but at length M. Colbert all at
once raised the mask, and caused the affair to be published; it is
being cried by sound of trumpet, at this moment in Paris, and, in truth,
monseigneur, there is scarcely anybody but yourself ignorant of the
event."

Fouquet began to walk about his chamber with an uneasiness that became
more and more serious.

"What do you decide upon, monseigneur?" said Gourville.

"If it really were as you say, I would go to the king," cried Fouquet.
"But as I go to the Louvre, I will pass by the Hotel de Ville. We shall
see if the sentence is signed."

"Incredulity! thou art the pest of all great minds," said Gourville,
shrugging his shoulders.

"Gourville!"

"Yes," continued he, "and incredulity! thou ruinest, as contagion
destroys the most robust health, that is to say, in an instant."

"Let us go," cried Fouquet; "desire the door to be opened, Gourville."

"Be cautious," said the latter, "the Abbe Fouquet is there."

"Ah! my brother," replied Fouquet, in a tone of annoyance, "he is there,
is he? he knows all the ill news, then, and is rejoiced to bring it to
me, as usual. The devil! if my brother is there, my affairs are bad,
Gourville; why did you not tell me that sooner: I should have been the
more readily convinced."

"'Monseigneur calumniates him," said Gourville, laughing, "if he is
come, it is not with a bad intention."

"What, do you excuse him?" cried Fouquet; "a fellow without a heart,
without ideas; a devourer of wealth."

"He knows you are rich."

"And would ruin me."

"No, but he would like to have your purse. That is all."

"Enough! enough! A hundred thousand crowns per month, during two years.
Corbleu! it is I that pay, Gourville, and I know my figures." Gourville
laughed in a silent, sly manner. "Yes, yes, you mean to say it is the
king pays," said the superintendent. "Ah, Gourville, that is a vile
joke; this is not the place."

"Monseigneur, do not be angry."

"Well, then, send away the Abbe Fouquet; I have not a sou." Gourville
made a step towards the door. "He has been a month without seeing me,"
continued Fouquet, "why could he not be two months?"

"Because he repents of living in bad company," said Gourville, "and
prefers you to all his bandits."

"Thanks for the preference! You make a strange advocate, Gourville,
to-day--the advocate of the Abbe Fouquet!"

"Eh! but everything and every man has a good side--their useful side,
monseigneur."

"The bandits whom the abbe keeps in pay and drink have their useful
side, have they? Prove that, if you please."

"Let the circumstance arise, monseigneur, and you will be very glad to
have these bandits under your hand."

"You advise me, then, to be reconciled to the abbe?" said Fouquet,
ironically.

"I advise you, monseigneur, not to quarrel with a hundred or a hundred
and twenty loose fellows, who, by putting their rapiers end to end,
would form a cordon of steel capable of surrounding three thousand men."

Fouquet darted a searching glance at Gourville, and passing before
him,--"That is all very well, let M. l'Abbe Fouquet be introduced," said
he to the footman. "You are right, Gourville."

Two minutes after, the Abbe Fouquet appeared in the doorway, with
profound reverences. He was a man of from forty to forty-five years of
age, half churchman half soldier,--a spadassin, grafted upon an abbe;
upon seeing that he had not a sword by his side, you might be sure he
had pistols. Fouquet saluted him more as an elder brother than as a
minister.

"What can I do to serve you, monsieur l'abbe?" said he.

"Oh! oh! how coldly you speak to me, brother!"

"I speak like a man who is in a hurry, monsieur."

The abbe looked maliciously at Gourville, and anxiously at Fouquet, and
said, "I have three hundred pistoles to pay to M. de Bregi this evening.
A play debt, a sacred debt."

"What next?" said Fouquet bravely, for he comprehended that the Abbe
Fouquet would not have disturbed him for such a want.

"A thousand to my butcher, who will supply no more meat."

"Next?"

"Twelve hundred to my tailor," continued the abbe; "the fellow has made
me take back seven suits of my people's, which compromises my liveries,
and my mistress talks of replacing me by a farmer of the revenue, which
would be a humiliation for the church."

"What else?" said Fouquet.

"You will please to remark," said the abbe, humbly, "that I have asked
nothing for myself."

"That is delicate, monsieur," replied Fouquet; "so, as you see, I wait."

"And I ask nothing, oh! no,--it is not for want of need, though, I
assure you."

The minister reflected a minute. "Twelve hundred pistoles to the tailor;
that seems a great deal for clothes," said he.

"I maintain a hundred men," said the abbe, proudly; "that is a charge, I
believe."

"Why a hundred men?" said Fouquet. "Are you a Richelieu or a Mazarin,
to require a hundred men as a guard? What use do you make of these
men?--speak."

"And do you ask me that?" cried the Abbe Fouquet; "ah! how can you put
such a question,--why I maintain a hundred men? Ah!"

"Why, yes, I do put that question to you. What have you to do with a
hundred men?--answer."

"Ingrate!" continued the abbe, more and more affected.

"Explain yourself."

"Why, monsieur the superintendent, I only want one valet de chambre, for
my part, and even if I were alone, could help myself very well; but you,
you who have so many enemies--a hundred men are not enough for me to
defend you with. A hundred men!--you ought to have ten thousand. I
maintain, then, these men in order that in public places, in assemblies,
no voice may be raised against you, and without them, monsieur, you
would be loaded with imprecations, you would be torn to pieces, you
would not last a week; no, not a week, do you understand?"

"Ah! I did not know you were my champion to such an extent, monsieur
l'abbe."

"You doubt it!" cried the abbe. "Listen, then, to what happened,
no longer ago than yesterday, in the Rue de la Hochette. A man was
cheapening a fowl."

"Well, how could that injure me, abbe?"

"This way. The fowl was not fat. The purchaser refused to give eighteen
sous for it, saying that he could not afford eighteen sous for the skin
of a fowl from which M. Fouquet had sucked all the fat."

"Go on."

"The joke caused a deal of laughter," continued the abbe; "laughter at
your expense, death to the devils! and the canaille were delighted. The
joker added, 'Give me a fowl fed by M. Colbert, if you like! and I
will pay all you ask.' And immediately there was a clapping of hands. A
frightful scandal! you understand; a scandal which forces a brother to
hide his face."

Fouquet colored. "And you veiled it?" said the superintendent.

"No, for it so happened I had one of my men in the crowd; a new recruit
from the provinces, one M. Menneville, whom I like very much. He made
his way through the press, saying to the joker: 'Mille barbes! Monsieur
the false joker, here's a thrust for Colbert!' 'And one for Fouquet,'
replied the joker. Upon which they drew in front of the cook's shop,
with a hedge of the curious round them, and five hundred as curious at
the windows."

"Well?" said Fouquet.

"Well, monsieur, my Menneville spitted the joker, to the great
astonishment of the spectators, and said to the cook:--'Take this goose,
my friend, it is fatter than your fowl.' That is the way, monsieur,"
ended the abbe, triumphantly, "in which I spend my revenues; I maintain
the honor of the family, monsieur." Fouquet hung his head. "And I have a
hundred as good as he," continued the abbe.

"Very well," said Fouquet, "give the account to Gourville, and remain
here this evening."

"Shall we have supper?"

"Yes, there will be supper."

"But the chest is closed."

"Gourville will open it for you. Leave us, monsieur l'abbe, leave us."

"Then we are friends?" said the abbe, with a bow.

"Oh yes, friends. Come Gourville."

"Are you going out? You will not stay to supper, then?"

"I shall be back in an hour; rest easy, abbe." Then aside to
Gourville--"Let them put to my English horses," said he, "and direct the
coachman to stop at the Hotel de Ville de Paris."



CHAPTER 56. M. de la Fontaine's Wine



Carriages were already bringing the guests of Fouquet to Saint-Mande;
already the whole house was getting warm with the preparations for
supper, when the superintendent launched his fleet horses upon the road
to Paris, and going by the quays, in order to meet fewer people on the
way, soon reached the Hotel de Ville. It wanted a quarter to eight.
Fouquet alighted at the corner of the Rue de Long-pont, and, on
foot, directed his course towards the Place de Greve, accompanied by
Gourville. At the turning of the Place they saw a man dressed in black
and violet, of dignified mien, who was preparing to get into a hired
carriage, and told the coachman to stop at Vincennes. He had before him
a large hamper filled with bottles, which he had just purchased at the
cabaret with the sign of "L'Image-de-Notre-Dame."

"Eh, but! that is Vatel! my maitre d'hotel!" said Fouquet to Gourville.

"Yes, monseigneur," replied the latter.

"What can he have been doing at the sign of L'Image-de-Notre-Dame?"

"Buying wine, no doubt."

"What! buy wine for me, at a cabaret?" said Fouquet. "My cellar, then,
must be in a miserable condition!" and he advanced towards the maitre
d'hotel who was arranging his bottles in the carriage with the most
minute care.

"Hola! Vatel," said he, in the voice of a master.

"Take care, monseigneur!" said Gourville, "you will be recognized."

"Very well! Of what consequence?--Vatel!

The man dressed in black and violet turned round. He had a good and
mild countenance, without expression--a mathematician minus the pride. A
certain fire sparkled in the eyes of this personage, a rather sly smile
played round his lips; but the observer might soon have remarked that
this fire and this smile applied to nothing, enlightened nothing. Vatel
laughed like an absent man, and amused himself like a child. At
the sound of his master's voice he turned round, exclaiming: "Oh!
monseigneur!"

"Yes, it is I. What the devil are you doing here, Vatel? Wine! You are
buying wine at a cabaret in the Place de Greve!"

"But, monseigneur," said Vatel, quietly, after having darted a hostile
glance at Gourville, "why am I interfered with here? Is my cellar kept
in bad order?"

"No, certes, Vatel, no, but----"

"But what?" replied Vatel. Gourville touched Fouquet's elbow.

"Don't be angry, Vatel, I thought my cellar--your cellar--sufficiently
well stocked for us to be able to dispense with recourse to the cellar
of L'Image de-Notre-Dame."

"Eh, monsieur," said Vatel, shrinking from monseigneur to monsieur with
a degree of disdain: "your cellar is so well stocked that when certain
of your guests dine with you they have nothing to drink."

Fouquet, in great surprise, looked at Gourville. "What do you mean by
that?"

"I mean that your butler had not wine for all tastes, monsieur; and that
M. de la Fontaine, M. Pellisson, and M. Conrart, do not drink when they
come to the house--these gentlemen do not like strong wine. What is to
be done, then?"

"Well, and therefore?"

"Well, then, I have found here a vin de Joigny, which they like. I know
they come once a week to drink at the Image-de-Notre-Dame. That is the
reason I am making this provision."

Fouquet had no more to say; he was convinced. Vatel, on his part, had
much more to say, without doubt, and it was plain he was getting warm.
"It is just as if you would reproach me, monseigneur, for going to the
Rue Planche Milbray, to fetch, myself, the cider M. Loret drinks when he
comes to dine at your house."

"Loret drinks cider at my house!" cried Fouquet, laughing.

"Certainly he does, monsieur, and that is the reason why he dines there
with pleasure."

"Vatel," cried Fouquet, pressing the hand of his maitre d'hotel, "you
are a man! I thank you, Vatel, for having understood that at my house
M. de la Fontaine, M. Conrart, and M. Loret, are as great as dukes and
peers, as great as princes, greater than myself. Vatel, you are a good
servant, and I double your salary."

Vatel did not even thank his master, he merely shrugged his shoulders a
little, murmuring this superb sentiment: "To be thanked for having done
one's duty is humiliating."

"He is right," said Gourville, as he drew Fouquet's attention, by a
gesture, to another point. He showed him a low-built tumbrel, drawn by
two horses, upon which rocked two strong gibbets, bound together,
back to back, by chains, whilst an archer, seated upon the cross-beam,
suffered, as well as he could, with his head cast down, the comments
of a hundred vagabonds, who guessed the destination of the gibbets,
and were escorting them to the Hotel de Ville. Fouquet started. "It is
decided, you see," said Gourville.

"But it is not done," replied Fouquet.

"Oh, do not flatter yourself, monseigneur; if they have thus lulled your
friendship and suspicions--if things have gone so far, you will be able
to undo nothing."

"But I have not given my sanction."

"M. de Lyonne has ratified for you."

"I will go to the Louvre."

"Oh, no, you will not."

"Would you advise such baseness?" cried Fouquet, "would you advise me to
abandon my friends? would you advise me, whilst able to fight, to throw
the arms I hold in my hand to the ground?"

"I do not advise you to do anything of the kind, monseigneur. Are you in
a position to quit the post of superintendent at this moment?"

"No."

"Well, if the king wishes to displace you----"

"He will displace me absent as well as present."

"Yes, but you will not have insulted him."

"Yes, but I shall have been base; now I am not willing that my friends
should die; and they shall not die!"

"For that it is necessary you should go to the Louvre, is it not?"

"Gourville!"

"Beware! once at the Louvre, you will be forced to defend your friends
openly, that is to say, to make a profession of faith; or you will be
forced to abandon them irrevocably."

"Never!"

"Pardon me,--the king will propose the alternative to you, rigorously,
or else you will propose it to him yourself."

"That is true."

"That is the reason why conflict must be avoided. Let us return to
Saint-Mande, monseigneur."

"Gourville, I will not stir from this place, where the crime is to be
carried out, where my disgrace is to be accomplished; I will not stir, I
say, till I have found some means of combating my enemies."

"Monseigneur," replied Gourville, "you would excite my pity, if I did
not know you for one of the great spirits of this world. You possess a
hundred and fifty millions, you are equal to the king in position, and
a hundred and fifty millions his superior in money. M. Colbert has not
even had the wit to have the will of Mazarin accepted. Now, when a man
is the richest person in a kingdom, and will take the trouble to spend
the money, if things are done he does not like it is because he is a
poor man. Let us return to Saint-Mande, I say."

"To consult with Pellisson?--we will."

"So be it," said Fouquet, with angry eyes;--"yes, to Saint-Mande!" He
got into his carriage again and Gourville with him. Upon their road, at
the end of the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, they overtook the humble equipage
of Vatel, who was quietly conveying home his vin de Joigny. The black
horses, going at a swift pace, alarmed as they passed, the timid hack of
the maitre d'hotel, who, putting his head out at the window, cried, in a
fright, "Take care of my bottles!"



CHAPTER 57. The Gallery of Saint-Mande



Fifty persons were waiting for the superintendent. He did not even take
the time to place himself in the hands of his valet de chambre for a
minute, but from the perron went straight into the premier salon. There
his friends were assembled in full chat. The intendant was about to
order supper to be served, but, above all, the Abbe Fouquet watched for
the return of his brother, and was endeavoring to do the honors of the
house in his absence. Upon the arrival of the superintendent, a murmur
of joy and affection was heard; Fouquet, full of affability, good humor,
and munificence, was beloved by his poets, his artists, and his men of
business. His brow, upon which his little court read, as upon that of
a god, all the movements of his soul, and thence drew rules of
conduct,--his brow, upon which affairs of state never impressed a
wrinkle, was this evening paler than usual, and more than one friendly
eye remarked that pallor. Fouquet placed himself at the head of the
table, and presided gayly during supper. He recounted Vatel's expedition
to La Fontaine, related the history of Menneville and the skinny fowl
to Pellisson, in such a manner that all the table heard it. A tempest of
laughter and jokes ensued, which was only checked by a serious and
even sad gesture from Pellisson. The Abbe Fouquet, not being able to
comprehend why his brother should have led the conversation in that
direction, listened with all his ears, and sought in the countenance
of Gourville, or in that of his brother, an explanation which nothing
afforded him. Pellisson took up the matter:--"Did they mention M.
Colbert, then?" said he.

"Why not?" replied Fouquet; "if true, as it is said to be, that the king
has made him his intendant?" Scarcely had Fouquet uttered these words,
with a marked intention, than an explosion broke forth among the guests.

"The miser!" said one.

"The mean, pitiful fellow!" said another.

"The hypocrite!" said a third.

Pellisson exchanged a meaning look with Fouquet. "Messieurs," said
he, "in truth we are abusing a man whom no one knows: it is neither
charitable nor reasonable; and here is monsieur le surintendant, who, I
am sure, agrees with me."

"Entirely," replied Fouquet. "Let the fat fowls of M. Colbert alone; our
business to-day is with the faisans truffes of M. Vatel." This speech
stopped the dark cloud which was beginning to throw its shade over the
guests. Gourville succeeded so well in animating the poets with the
vin de Joigny; the abbe, intelligent as a man who stands in need of
his host's money, so enlivened the financiers and the men of the sword,
that, amidst the vapors of this joy and the noise of conversation,
inquietudes disappeared completely. The will of Cardinal Mazarin was the
text of the conversation at the second course and dessert; then Fouquet
ordered bowls of sweetmeats and fountains of liquors to be carried into
the salon adjoining the gallery. He led the way thither conducting
by the hand a lady, the queen, by his preference, of the evening. The
musicians then supped, and the promenades in the gallery and the gardens
commenced, beneath a spring sky, mild and flower-scented. Pellisson
then approached the superintendent, and said: "Something troubles
monseigneur?"

"Greatly," replied the minister, "ask Gourville to tell you what it is."
Pellisson, on turning round, found La Fontaine treading upon his heels.
He was obliged to listen to a Latin verse, which the poet had composed
upon Vatel. La Fontaine had, for an hour, been scanning this verse in
all corners, seeking some one to pour it out upon advantageously. He
thought he had caught Pellisson, but the latter escaped him; he turned
towards Sorel, who had, himself, just composed a quatrain in honor of
the supper, and the Amphytrion. La Fontaine in vain endeavored to
gain attention to his verses; Sorel wanted to obtain a hearing for his
quatrain. He was obliged to retreat before M. le Comte de Chanost whose
arm Fouquet had just taken. L'Abbe Fouquet perceived that the poet,
absent-minded, as usual, was about to follow the two talkers, and he
interposed. La Fontaine seized upon him, and recited his verses. The
abbe, who was quite innocent of Latin, nodded his head, in cadence, at
every roll which La Fontaine impressed upon his body, according to the
undulations of the dactyls and spondees. While this was going on,
behind the confiture-basins, Fouquet related the event of the day to his
son-in-law, M. de Chanost. "We will send the idle and useless to look at
the fireworks," said Pellisson to Gourville, "whilst we converse here."

"So be it," said Gourville, addressing four words to Vatel. The latter
then led towards the gardens the major part of the beaux, the ladies and
the chatterers, whilst the men walked in the gallery, lighted by three
hundred wax-lights, in the sight of all; the admirers of fireworks all
ran away towards the garden. Gourville approached Fouquet, and said:
"Monsieur, we are here."

"All!" said Fouquet.

"Yes,--count." The superintendent counted; there were eight persons.
Pellisson and Gourville walked arm in arm, as if conversing upon vague
and frivolous subjects. Sorel and two officers imitated them, in an
opposite direction. The Abbe Fouquet walked alone. Fouquet, with M.
de Chanost, walked as if entirely absorbed in the conversation of his
son-in-law. "Messieurs," said he, "let no one of you raise his head as
he walks, or appear to pay attention to me; continue walking, we are
alone, listen to me."

A perfect silence ensued, disturbed only by the distant cries of the
joyous guests, from the groves whence they beheld the fireworks. It was
a whimsical spectacle this, of these men walking in groups, as if each
one was occupied about something, whilst lending attention really to
only one amongst them, who, himself, seemed to be speaking only to his
companion. "Messieurs," said Fouquet, "you have, without doubt, remarked
the absence of two of my friends this evening, who were with us on
Wednesday. For God's sake, abbe, do not stop,--it is not necessary to
enable you to listen; walk on, carrying your head in a natural way, and
as you have an excellent sight, place yourself at the window, and if any
one returns towards the gallery, give us notice by coughing."

The abbe obeyed.

"I have not observed their absence," said Pellisson, who, at this
moment, was turning his back to Fouquet and walking the other way.

"I do not see M. Lyodot," said Sorel, "who pays me my pension."

"And I," said the abbe, at the window, "do not see M. d'Eymeris, who
owes me eleven hundred livres from our last game at Brelan."

"Sorel," continued Fouquet, walking bent, and gloomily, "you will never
receive your pension any more from M. Lyodot; and you, abbe, will never
be paid your eleven hundred livres by M. d'Eymeris, for both are doomed
to die."

"To die!" exclaimed the whole assembly, arrested, in spite of
themselves, in the comedy they were playing, by that terrible word.

"Recover yourselves, messieurs," said Fouquet, "for perhaps we are
watched--I said: to die!"

"To die!" repeated Pellisson; "what, the men I saw six days ago, full
of health, gayety, and the spirit of the future! What then is man, good
God! that disease should thus bring him down, all at once!"

"It is not a disease," said Fouquet.

"Then there is a remedy," said Sorel.

"No remedy. Messieurs de Lyodot and D'Eymeris are on the eve of their
last day."

"Of what are these gentlemen dying, then?" asked an officer.

"Ask of him who kills them," replied Fouquet.

"Who kills them? Are they being killed, then?" cried the terrified
chorus.

"They do better still; they are hanging them," murmured Fouquet, in a
sinister voice, which sounded like a funeral knell in that rich gallery,
splendid with pictures, flowers, velvet, and gold. Involuntarily every
one stopped; the abbe quitted his window; the first fusees of the
fireworks began to mount above the trees. A prolonged cry from the
gardens attracted the superintendent to enjoy the spectacle. He
drew near to a window, and his friends placed themselves behind him,
attentive to his least wish. "Messieurs," said he, "M. Colbert has
caused to be arrested, tried and will execute my two friends; what does
it become me to do?"

"Mordieu!" exclaimed the abbe, the first one to speak, "run M. Colbert
through the body."

"Monseigneur," said Pellisson, "you must speak to his majesty."

"The king, my dear Pellisson, himself signed the order for the
execution."

"Well!" said the Comte de Chanost, "the execution must not take place,
then; that is all."

"Impossible," said Gourville, "unless we could corrupt the jailers."

"Or the governor," said Fouquet.

"This night the prisoners might be allowed to escape."

"Which of you will take charge of the transaction?"

"I," said the abbe, "will carry the money."

"And I," said Pellisson, "will be the bearer of the words."

"Words and money," said Fouquet, "five hundred thousand livres to the
governor of the conciergerie, that is sufficient, nevertheless, it shall
be a million, if necessary."

"A million!" cried the abbe; "why, for less than half, I would have half
Paris sacked."

"There must be no disorder," said Pellisson. "The governor being gained,
the two prisoners escape; once clear of the fangs of the law, they will
call together the enemies of Colbert, and prove to the king that his
young justice, like all other monstrosities, is not infallible."

"Go to Paris, then, Pellisson," said Fouquet, "and bring hither the two
victims; to-morrow we shall see."

Gourville gave Pellisson the five hundred thousand livres. "Take
care the wind does not carry you away," said the abbe; "what a
responsibility. Peste! Let me help you a little."

"Silence!" said Fouquet, "somebody is coming. Ah! the fireworks are
producing a magical effect." At this moment a shower of sparks fell
rustling among the branches of the neighboring trees. Pellisson
and Gourville went out together by the door of the gallery; Fouquet
descended to the garden with the five last plotters.



CHAPTER 58. Epicureans



As Fouquet was giving, or appearing to give, all his attention to
the brilliant illuminations, the languishing music of the violins
and hautboys, the sparkling sheaves of the artificial fires, which,
inflaming the heavens with glowing reflections, marked behind the
trees the dark profile of the donjon of Vincennes; as, we say, the
superintendent was smiling on the ladies and the poets the fete was
every whit as gay as usual; and Vatel, whose restless, even jealous
look, earnestly consulted the aspect of Fouquet, did not appear
dissatisfied with the welcome given to the ordering of the evening's
entertainment. The fireworks over, the company dispersed about the
gardens and beneath the marble porticoes with the delightful liberty
which reveals in the master of the house so much forgetfulness
of greatness, so much courteous hospitality, so much magnificent
carelessness. The poets wandered about, arm in arm, through the groves;
some reclined upon beds of moss, to the great damage of velvet clothes
and curled heads, into which little dried leaves and blades of grass
insinuated themselves. The ladies, in small numbers, listened to the
songs of the singers and the verses of the poets; others listened to the
prose, spoken with much art, by men who were neither actors nor poets,
but to whom youth and solitude gave an unaccustomed eloquence, which
appeared to them better than everything else in the world. "Why," said
La Fontaine, "does not our master Epicurus descend into the garden?
Epicurus never abandoned his pupils, the master is wrong."

"Monsieur," said Conrart, "you yourself are in the wrong persisting in
decorating yourself with the name of an Epicurean; indeed, nothing here
reminds me of the doctrine of the philosopher of Gargetta."

"Bah!" said La Fontaine, "is it not written that Epicurus purchased a
large garden and lived in it tranquilly with his friends?"

"That is true."

"Well, has not M. Fouquet purchased a large garden at Saint-Mande, and
do we not live here very tranquilly with him and his friends?"

"Yes, without doubt; unfortunately it is neither the garden nor the
friends which constitute the resemblance. Now, what likeness is there
between the doctrine of Epicurus and that of M. Fouquet?"

"This--pleasure gives happiness."

"Next?"

"Well, I do not think we ought to consider ourselves unfortunate, for
my part, at least. A good repast--vin de Foigny, which they have the
delicacy to go and fetch for me from my favorite cabaret--not one
impertinence heard during a supper an hour long, in spite of the
presence of ten millionaires and twenty poets."

"I stop you there. You mentioned vin de Foigny, and a good repast, do
you persist in that?"

"I persist,--anteco, as they say at Port Royal."

"Then please to recollect that the great Epicurus lived, and made his
pupils live, upon bread, vegetables, and water."

"That is not certain," said La Fontaine; "and you appear to me to be
confounding Epicurus with Pythagoras, my dear Conrart."

"Remember, likewise, that the ancient philosopher was rather a bad
friend of the gods and the magistrates."

"Oh! that is what I will not admit," replied La Fontaine. "Epicurus was
like M. Fouquet."

"Do not compare him to monsieur le surintendant," said Conrart, in an
agitated voice, "or you would accredit the reports which are circulated
concerning him and us."

"What reports?"

"That we are bad Frenchmen, lukewarm with regard to the king, deaf to
the law."

"I return, then, to my text," said La Fontaine. "Listen, Conrart, this
is the morality of Epicurus, whom, besides, I consider, if I must tell
you so, as a myth. Antiquity is mostly mythical. Jupiter, if we give
a little attention to it, is life. Alcides is strength. The words are
there to bear me out; Zeus, that is, zen, to live. Alcides, that
is, alce, vigor. Well, Epicurus, that is mild watchfulness, that is
protection; now who watches better over the state, or who protects
individuals better than M. Fouquet does?"

"You talk etymology and not morality; I say that we modern Epicureans
are indifferent citizens."

"Oh!" cried La Fontaine, "if we become bad citizens, it is not through
following the maxims of our master. Listen to one of his principal
aphorisms."

"I--will."

"Pray for good leaders."

"Well?"

"Well! what does M. Fouquet say to us every day? 'When shall we be
governed?' Does he say so? Come, Conrart, be frank."

"He says so, that is true."

"Well, that is a doctrine of Epicurus."

"Yes; but that is a little seditious, observe."

"What! seditious to wish to be governed by good heads or leaders?"

"Certainly, when those who govern are bad."

"Patience, I have a reply for all."

"Even for what I have just said to you?"

"Listen! would you submit to those who govern ill? Oh! it is written:
Cacos politeuousi. You grant me the text?"

"Pardieu! I think so. Do you know, you speak Greek as well as AEsop did,
my dear La Fontaine."

"Is there any wickedness in that, my dear Conrart?"

"God forbid I should say so."

"Then let us return to M. Fouquet. What did he repeat to us all the day?
Was it not this? 'What a cuistre is that Mazarin! what an ass! what a
leech! We must, however, submit to the fellow.' Now, Conrart, did he say
so, or did he not?"

"I confess that he said it, and even perhaps too often."

"Like Epicurus, my friend, still like Epicurus; I repeat, we are
Epicureans, and that is very amusing."

"Yes, but I am afraid there will rise up, by the side of us, a sect like
that of Epictetus, you know him well; the philosopher of Hieropolis,
he who called bread luxury, vegetables prodigality, and clear water
drunkenness; he who, being beaten by his master, said to him, grumbling
a little it is true, but without being angry, 'I will lay a wager you
have broken my leg!'--and who won his wager."

"He was a goose, that fellow Epictetus."

"Granted, but he might easily become the fashion by only changing his
name into that of Colbert."

"Bah!" replied La Fontaine, "that is impossible. Never will you find
Colbert in Epictetus."

"You are right, I shall find--Coluber there, at the most."

"Ah! you are beaten, Conrart; you are reduced to a play upon words. M.
Arnaud pretends that I have no logic; I have more than M. Nicolle."

"Yes," replied Conrart, "you have logic, but you are a Jansenist."

This peroration was hailed with a boisterous shout of laughter; by
degrees the promenaders had been attracted by the exclamations of the
two disputants around the arbor under which they were arguing. The
discussion had been religiously listened to, and Fouquet himself,
scarcely able to suppress his laughter, had given an example of
moderation. But with the denouement of the scene he threw off all
restraint, and laughed aloud. Everybody laughed as he did, and the two
philosophers were saluted with unanimous felicitations. La Fontaine,
however, was declared conqueror, on account of his profound erudition
and his irrefragable logic. Conrart obtained the compensation due to
an unsuccessful combatant; he was praised for the loyalty of his
intentions, and the purity of his conscience.

At the moment when this jollity was manifesting itself by the most
lively demonstrations, when the ladies were reproaching the two
adversaries with not having admitted women into the system of Epicurean
happiness, Gourville was seen hastening from the other end of the
garden, approaching Fouquet, and detaching him, by his presence alone,
from the group. The superintendent preserved on his face the smile and
character of carelessness; but scarcely was he out of sight than he
threw off the mask.

"Well!" said he, eagerly, "where is Pellisson! What is he doing?"

"Pellisson has returned from Paris."

"Has he brought back the prisoners?"

"He has not even seen the concierge of the prison."

"What! did he not tell him he came from me?"

"He told him so, but the concierge sent him this reply: 'If any one came
to me from M. Fouquet, he would have a letter from M. Fouquet.'"

"Oh!" cried the latter, "if a letter is all he wants----"

"It is useless, monsieur!" said Pellisson, showing himself at the corner
of the little wood, "useless! Go yourself, and speak in your own name."

"You are right. I will go in, as if to work; let the horses remain
harnessed, Pellisson. Entertain my friends, Gourville."

"One last word of advice, monseigneur," replied the latter.

"Speak, Gourville."

"Do not go to the concierge save at the last minute; it is brave, but
it is not wise. Excuse me, Monsieur Pellisson, if I am not of the same
opinion as you; but take my advice, monseigneur, send again a message to
this concierge,--he is a worthy man, but do not carry it yourself."

"I will think of it," said Fouquet; "besides, we have all the night
before us."

"Do not reckon too much on time; were the hours we have twice as many as
they are, they would not be too much," replied Pellisson; "it is never a
fault to arrive too soon."

"Adieu!" said the superintendent; "come with me, Pellisson. Gourville, I
commend my guests to your care." And he set off. The Epicureans did
not perceive that the head of the school had left them; the violins
continued playing all night long.



CHAPTER 59. A Quarter of an Hour's Delay



Fouquet, on leaving his house for the second time that day, felt himself
less heavy and less disturbed than might have been expected. He turned
towards Pellisson, who was meditating in the corner of the carriage some
good arguments against the violent proceedings of Colbert.

"My dear Pellisson," said Fouquet, "it is a great pity you are not a
woman."

"I think, on the contrary, it is very fortunate," replied Pellisson,
"for, monseigneur, I am excessively ugly."

"Pellisson! Pellisson!" said the superintendent, laughing: "you repeat
too often you are 'ugly,' not to leave people to believe that it gives
you much pain."

"In fact it does, monseigneur, much pain; there is no man more
unfortunate than I: I was handsome, the smallpox rendered me hideous;
I am deprived of a great means of attraction; now, I am your principal
clerk or something of that sort; I take great interest in your affairs,
and if, at this moment, I were a pretty woman, I could render you an
important service."

"What?"

"I would go and find the concierge of the Palais. I would seduce him,
for he is a gallant man, extravagantly partial to women; then I would
get away our two prisoners."

"I hope to be able to do so myself, although I am not a pretty woman,"
replied Fouquet.

"Granted, monseigneur; but you are compromising yourself very much."

"Oh!" cried Fouquet, suddenly, with one of those secret transports which
the generous blood of youth, or the remembrance of some sweet emotion,
infuses into the heart. "Oh! I know a woman who will enact the personage
we stand in need of, with the lieutenant-governor of the conciergerie."

"And, on my part, I know fifty, monseigneur; fifty trumpets, which
will inform the universe of your generosity, of your devotion to your
friends, and, consequently, will ruin you sooner or later in ruining
themselves."

"I do not speak of such women, Pellisson, I speak of a noble and
beautiful creature who joins to the intelligence and wit of her sex the
valor and coolness of ours; I speak of a woman, handsome enough to make
the walls of a prison bow down to salute her, discreet enough to let no
one suspect by whom she has been sent."

"A treasure!" said Pellisson, "you would make a famous present to
monsieur the governor of the conciergerie! Peste! monseigneur, he
might have his head cut off; but he would, before dying, have had such
happiness as no man had enjoyed before him."

"And I add," said Fouquet, "that the concierge of the Palais would not
have his head cut off, for he would receive of me my horses to
effect his escape, and five hundred thousand livres wherewith to live
comfortably in England: I add, that this lady, my friend, would give
him nothing but the horses and the money. Let us go and seek her,
Pellisson."

The superintendent reached forth his hand towards the gold and silken
cord placed in the interior of his carriage, but Pellisson stopped him.
"Monseigneur," said he, "you are going to lose as much time in seeking
this lady as Columbus took to discover the new world. Now, we have but
two hours in which we can possibly succeed; the concierge once gone to
bed, how shall we get at him without making a disturbance? When daylight
dawns, how can we conceal our proceedings? Go, go yourself, monseigneur,
and do not seek either woman or angel to-night."

"But, my dear Pellisson, here we are before her door."

"What! before the angel's door?"

"Why, yes!"

"This is the hotel of Madame de Belliere!"

"Hush!"

"Ah! Good Lord!" exclaimed Pellisson.

"What have you to say against her?"

"Nothing, alas! and it is that which causes my despair. Nothing,
absolutely nothing. Why can I not, on the contrary, say ill enough of
her to prevent your going to her?"

But Fouquet had already given orders to stop, and the carriage was
motionless. "Prevent me!" cried Fouquet; "why, no power on earth should
prevent my going to pay my compliments to Madame de Plessis-Belliere,
besides, who knows that we shall not stand in need of her!"

"No, monseigneur no!"

"But I do not wish you to wait for me, Pellisson," replied Fouquet,
sincerely courteous.

"The more reason I should, monseigneur; knowing that you are keeping
me waiting, you will, perhaps, stay a shorter time. Take care! You
see there is a carriage in the courtyard: she has some one with her."
Fouquet leant towards the steps of the carriage. "One word more," cried
Pellisson; "do not go to this lady till you have been to the concierge,
for Heaven's sake!"

"Eh! five minutes, Pellisson," replied Fouquet, alighting at the steps
of the hotel, leaving Pellisson in the carriage, in a very ill-humor.
Fouquet ran upstairs, told his name to the footman, which excited an
eagerness and a respect that showed the habit the mistress of the house
had of honoring that name in her family. "Monsieur le surintendant,"
cried the marquise, advancing, very pale, to meet him; "what an honor!
what an unexpected pleasure!" said she. Then, in a low voice, "Take
care!" added the marquise, "Marguerite Vanel is here!"

"Madame," replied Fouquet, rather agitated, "I came on business. One
single word, and quickly, if you please!" And he entered the salon.
Madame Vanel had risen, paler, more livid, than Envy herself. Fouquet
in vain addressed her, with the most agreeable, most pacific salutation;
she only replied by a terrible glance darted at the marquise and
Fouquet. This keen glance of a jealous woman is a stiletto which pierces
every cuirass; Marguerite Vanel plunged it straight into the hearts of
the two confidants. She made a courtesy to her friend, a more profound
one to Fouquet, and took leave, under pretense of having a number of
visits to make, without the marquise trying to prevent her, or Fouquet,
a prey to anxiety, thinking further about her. She was scarcely out
of the room, and Fouquet left alone with the marquise, before he threw
himself on his knees, without saying a word. "I expected you," said the
marquise, with a tender sigh.

"Oh! no," cried he, "or you would have sent away that woman."

"She has been here little more than half an hour, and I had no
expectation she would come this evening."

"You love me just a little, then, marquise?"

"That is not the question now; it is of your danger; how are your
affairs going on?"

"I am going this evening to get my friends out of the prisons of the
Palais."

"How will you do that?"

"By buying and bribing the governor."

"He is a friend of mine; can I assist you, without injuring you?"

"Oh! marquise, it would be a signal service; but how can you be employed
without your being compromised? Now, never shall my life, my power, or
even my liberty, be purchased at the expense of a single tear from your
eyes, or of one frown of pain upon your brow."

"Monseigneur, no more such words, they bewilder me; I have been culpable
in trying to serve you, without calculating the extent of what I was
doing. I love you in reality, as a tender friend; and as a friend, I am
grateful for your delicate attentions--but, alas!--alas! you will never
find a mistress in me."

"Marquise!" cried Fouquet, in a tone of despair; "why not?"

"Because you are too much beloved," said the young woman, in a low
voice; "because you are too much beloved by too many people--because
the splendor of glory and fortune wound my eyes, whilst the darkness
of sorrow attracts them; because, in short, I, who have repulsed you in
your proud magnificence; I who scarcely looked at you in your splendor,
I came, like a mad woman, to throw myself, as it were, into your arms,
when I saw a misfortune hovering over your head. You understand me now,
monseigneur? Become happy again, that I may remain chaste in heart and
in thought; your misfortune entails my ruin."

"Oh! madame," said Fouquet, with an emotion he had never before felt;
"were I to fall to the lowest degree of human misery, and hear from your
mouth that word which you now refuse me, that day, madame, you will
be mistaken in your noble egotism; that day you will fancy you are
consoling the most unfortunate of men, and you will have said, I love
you, to the most illustrious, the most delighted, the most triumphant of
the happy beings of this world."

He was still at her feet, kissing her hand, when Pellisson entered
precipitately, crying, in very ill-humor, "Monseigneur! madame! for
Heaven's sake! excuse me. Monseigneur, you have been here half an hour.
Oh! do not both look at me so reproachfully. Madame, pray who is that
lady who left your house soon after monseigneur came in?"

"Madame Vanel," said Fouquet.

"Ha!" cried Pellisson, "I was sure of that."

"Well! what then?"

"Why, she got into her carriage, looking deadly pale."

"What consequence is that to me?"

"Yes, but what she said to her coachman is of consequence to you."

"Kind heaven!" cried the marquise, "what was that?"

"To M. Colbert's!" said Pellisson, in a hoarse voice.

"Bon Dieu!--begone, begone, monseigneur!" replied the marquise, pushing
Fouquet out of the salon, whilst Pellisson dragged him by the hand.

"Am I, then, indeed," said the superintendent, "become a child, to be
frightened by a shadow?"

"You are a giant," said the marquise, "whom a viper is trying to bite in
the heel."

Pellisson continued to drag Fouquet to the carriage. "To the Palais at
full speed!" cried Pellisson to the coachman. The horses set off like
lightning; no obstacle relaxed their pace for an instant. Only, at the
arcade Saint-Jean, as they were coming out upon the Place de Greve, a
long file of horsemen, barring the narrow passage, stopped the carriage
of the superintendent. There was no means of forcing this barrier; it
was necessary to wait till the mounted archers of the watch, for it was
they who stopped the way, had passed with the heavy carriage they
were escorting, and which ascended rapidly towards the Place Baudoyer.
Fouquet and Pellisson took no further account of this circumstance
beyond deploring the minute's delay they had thus to submit to. They
entered the habitation of the concierge du Palais five minutes after.
That officer was still walking about in the front court. At the name
of Fouquet, whispered in his ear by Pellisson, the governor eagerly
approached the carriage, and, hat in his hand, was profuse in his
attentions. "What an honor for me, monseigneur," said he.

"One word, monsieur le gouverneur, will you take the trouble to get into
my carriage?" The officer placed himself opposite Fouquet in the coach.

"Monsieur," said Fouquet, "I have a service to ask of you."

"Speak, monseigneur."

"A service that will be compromising for you, monsieur, but which will
assure to you forever my protection and my friendship."

"Were it to cast myself into the fire for you, monseigneur, I would do
it."

"That is well," said Fouquet; "what I require is much more simple."

"That being so, monseigneur, what is it?"

"To conduct me to the chamber of Messieurs Lyodot and D'Eymeris."

"Will monseigneur have the kindness to say for what purpose?"

"I will tell you in their presence, monsieur; at the same time that I
will give you ample means of palliating this escape."

"Escape! Why, then, monseigneur does not know?"

"What?"

"That Messieurs Lyodot and D'Eymeris are no longer here."

"Since when?" cried Fouquet, in great agitation.

"About a quarter of an hour."

"Whither have they gone, then?"

"To Vincennes--to the donjon."

"Who took them from here?"

"An order from the king."

"Oh! woe! woe!" exclaimed Fouquet, striking his forehead. "Woe!" and
without saying a single word more to the governor, he threw himself back
in his carriage, despair in his heart, and death on his countenance.

"Well!" said Pellisson, with great anxiety.

"Our friends are lost. Colbert is conveying them to the donjon. They
crossed our very path under the arcade Saint-Jean."

Pellisson, struck as by a thunderbolt, made no reply. With a single
reproach he would have killed his master. "Where is monseigneur going?"
said the footman.

"Hone--to Paris. You, Pellisson, return to Saint-Mande, and bring the
Abbe Fouquet to me within an hour. Begone!"



CHAPTER 60. Plan of Battle



The night was already far advanced when the Abbe Fouquet joined his
brother. Gourville had accompanied him. These three men, pale with dread
of future events, resembled less three powers of the day than three
conspirators, united by one single thought of violence. Fouquet walked
for a long time, with his eyes fixed upon the floor, striking his hands
one against the other. At length, taking courage, in the midst of a deep
sigh: "Abbe," said he, "you were speaking to me only to-day of certain
people you maintain."

"Yes, monsieur," replied the abbe.

"Tell me precisely who are these people." The abbe hesitated.

"Come! no fear, I am not threatening; no romancing, for I am not
joking."

"Since you demand the truth, monseigneur, here it is:--I have a hundred
and twenty friends or companions of pleasure, who are sworn to me as the
thief is to the gallows."

"And you think you can depend upon them?"

"Entirely."

"And you will not compromise yourself?"

"I will not even make my appearance."

"And are they men of resolution?"

"They would burn Paris, if I promised them they should not be burnt in
turn."

"The thing I ask of you, abbe," said Fouquet, wiping the sweat which
fell from his brow, "is to throw your hundred and twenty men upon
the people I will point out to you, at a certain moment given--is it
possible?"

"It will not be the first time such a thing has happened to them,
monseigneur."

"That is well: but would these bandits attack an armed force?"

"They are used to that."

"Then get your hundred and twenty men together, abbe."

"Directly. But where?"

"On the road to Vincennes, to-morrow, at two o'clock precisely."

"To carry off Lyodot and D'Eymeris? There will be blows to be got!"

"A number, no doubt; are you afraid?"

"Not for myself, but for you."

"Your men will know, then, what they have to do?"

"They are too intelligent not to guess it. Now, a minister who gets up a
riot against his king--exposes himself----"

"Of what importance is that to you, I pray? Besides, if I fall, you fall
with me."

"It would then be more prudent, monsieur, not to stir in the affair, and
leave the king to take this little satisfaction."

"Think well of this, abbe, Lyodot and D'Eymeris at Vincennes are a
prelude of ruin for my house. I repeat it--I arrested, you will be
imprisoned--I imprisoned, you will be exiled."

"Monsieur, I am at your orders; have you any to give me?"

"What I told you--I wish that, to-morrow, the two financiers of whom
they mean to make victims, whilst there remain so many criminals
unpunished, should be snatched from the fury of my enemies. Take your
measures accordingly. Is it possible?"

"It is possible."

"Describe your plan."

"It is of rich simplicity. The ordinary guard at executions consists of
twelve archers."

"There will be a hundred to-morrow."

"I reckon so. I even say more--there will be two hundred."

"Then your hundred and twenty men will not be enough."

"Pardon me. In every crowd composed of a hundred thousand spectators,
there are ten thousand bandits or cut-purses--only they dare not take
the initiative."

"Well?"

"There will then be, to-morrow, on the Place de Greve, which I choose as
my battle-field, ten thousand auxiliaries to my hundred and twenty men.
The attack commenced by the latter, the others will finish it."

"That all appears feasible. But what will be done with regard to the
prisoners upon the Place de Greve?"

"This: they must be thrust into some house--that will make a siege
necessary to get them out again. And stop! here is another idea, more
sublime still: certain houses have two issues--one upon the Place,
and the other into the Rue de la Mortellerie, or la Vennerie, or
la Texeranderie. The prisoners entering by one door will go out at
another."

"Yes, but fix upon something positive."

"I am seeking to do so."

"And I," cried Fouquet, "I have found it. Listen to what has occurred to
me at this moment."

"I am listening."

Fouquet made a sign to Gourville, who appeared to understand. "One of
my friends lends me sometimes the keys of a house which he rents, Rue
Baudoyer, the spacious gardens of which extend behind a certain house on
the Place de Greve."

"That is the place for us," said the abbe. "What house?"

"A cabaret, pretty well frequented, whose sign represents the image of
Notre Dame."

"I know it," said the abbe.

"This cabaret has windows opening upon the Place, a place of exit into
the court, which must abut upon the gardens of my friend by a door of
communication."

"Good!" said the abbe.

"Enter by the cabaret, take the prisoners in; defend the door while you
enable them to fly by the garden and the Place Baudoyer."

"That is all plain. Monsieur, you would make an excellent general, like
monsieur le prince."

"Have you understood me?"

"Perfectly well."

"How much will it amount to, to make your bandits all drunk with wine,
and to satisfy them with gold?"

"Oh, monsieur, what an expression! Oh! monsieur, if they heard you: some
of them are very susceptible."

"I mean to say they must be brought no longer to know the heavens from
the earth; for I shall to-morrow contend with the king; and when I fight
I mean to conquer--please to understand."

"It shall be done, monsieur. Give me your other ideas."

"That is your business."

"Then give me your purse."

"Gourville, count a hundred thousand livres for the abbe."

"Good! and spare nothing, did you not say?"

"Nothing."

"That is well."

"Monseigneur," objected Gourville, "if this should be known, we should
lose our heads."

"Eh! Gourville," replied Fouquet, purple with anger, "you excite my
pity. Speak for yourself, if you please. My head does not shake in that
manner upon my shoulders. Now, abbe, is everything arranged?"

"Everything."

"At two o'clock to-morrow."

"At twelve, because it will be necessary to prepare our auxiliaries in a
secret manner."

"That is true; do not spare the wine of the cabaretier."

"I will spare neither his wine nor his house," replied the abbe, with
a sneering laugh. "I have my plan, I tell you; leave me to set it in
operation, and you shall see."

"Where shall you be yourself?"

"Everywhere; nowhere."

"And how shall I receive information?"

"By a courier whose horse shall be kept in the very garden of your
friend. A propos, the name of your friend?"

Fouquet looked again at Gourville. The latter came to the succor of his
master, saying, "Accompanying monsieur l'abbe for several reasons, only
the house is easily to be known, the 'Image-de-Notre-Dame' in the front,
a garden, the only one in the quarter, behind."

"Good, good! I will go and give notice to my soldiers."

"Accompany him, Gourville," said Fouquet, "and count him down the money.
One moment, abbe--one moment, Gourville--what name will be given to this
carrying off?"

"A very natural one, monsieur--the Riot."

"The riot on account of what? For, if ever the people of Paris
are disposed to pay their court to the king, it is when he hangs
financiers."

"I will manage that," said the abbe.

"Yes; but you may manage it badly, and people will guess."

"Not at all,--not at all. I have another idea."

"What is that?"

"My men shall cry out, 'Colbert, vive Colbert!' and shall throw
themselves upon the prisoners as if they would tear them in pieces, and
shall force them from the gibbets, as too mild a punishment."

"Ah! that is an idea," said Gourville. "Peste! monsieur l'abbe, what an
imagination you have!"

"Monsieur, we are worthy of our family," replied the abbe, proudly.

"Strange fellow," murmured Fouquet. Then he added, "That is ingenious.
Carry it out, but shed no blood."

Gourville and the abbe set off together, with their heads full of the
meditated riot. The superintendent laid himself down upon some cushions,
half valiant with respect to the sinister projects of the morrow, half
dreaming of love.



CHAPTER 61. The Cabaret of the Image-de-Notre-Dame



At two o'clock the next day fifty thousand spectators had taken their
position upon the Place, around the two gibbets which had been elevated
between the Quai de la Greve and the Quai Pelletier; one close to the
other, with their backs to the embankment of the river. In the morning
also, all the sworn criers of the good city of Paris had traversed
the quarters of the city, particularly the halles and the faubourgs,
announcing with their hoarse and indefatigable voices, the great justice
done by the king upon two speculators, two thieves, devourers of the
people. And these people, whose interests were so warmly looked after,
in order not to fail in respect for their king quitted shops, stalls,
and ateliers to go and evince a little gratitude to Louis XIV.,
absolutely like invited guests, who feared to commit an impoliteness in
not repairing to the house of him who had invited them. According to the
tenor of the sentence, which the criers read aloud and incorrectly, two
farmers of the revenues, monopolists of money, dilapidators of the royal
provisions, extortioners, and forgers, were about to undergo capital
punishment on the Place de Greve, with their names blazoned over their
heads, according to their sentence. As to those names, the sentence made
no mention of them. The curiosity of the Parisians was at its height,
and, as we have said, an immense crowd waited with feverish impatience
the hour fixed for the execution. The news had already spread that the
prisoners, transferred to the Chateau of Vincennes, would be conducted
from that prison to the Place de Greve. Consequently, the faubourg and
the Rue Saint Antoine were crowded, for the population of Paris in those
days of great executions was divided into two categories: those who
came to see the condemned pass--these were of timid and mild hearts,
but philosophically curious--and those who wished to see the condemned
die--these had hearts that hungered for sensation. On this day M.
d'Artagnan received his last instructions from the king, and made his
adieus to his friends, the number of whom was, at the moment, reduced
to Planchet, traced the plan of his day, as every busy man whose moments
are counted ought to do because he appreciates their importance.

"My departure is to be," said he, "at break of day, three o'clock in
the morning; I have then fifteen hours before me. Take from them the
six hours of sleep which are indispensable for me--six; one hour for
repasts--seven; one hour for a farewell visit to Athos--eight; two hours
for chance circumstances---total, ten. There are then five hours left.
One hour to get my money,--that is, to have payment refused by M.
Fouquet; another hour to go and receive my money of M. Colbert, together
with his questions and grimaces; one hour to look over my clothes and
arms, and get my boots cleaned. I have still two hours left. Mordioux!
how rich I am!" And so saying, D'Artagnan felt a strange joy, a joy of
youth, a perfume of those great and happy years of former times mount
into his brain and intoxicate him. "During these two hours I will
go," said the musketeer, "and take my quarter's rent of the
Image-de-Notre-Dame. That will be pleasant. Three hundred and
seventy-five livres. Mordioux! but that is astonishing! If the poor man
who has but one livre in his pocket, found a livre and twelve deniers,
that would be justice, that would be excellent; but never does such a
godsend fall to the lot of the poor man. The rich man, on the contrary,
makes himself revenues with his money, which he does not even touch.
Here are three hundred and seventy-five livres which fall to me from
heaven. I will go then to the Image-de-Notre-Dame, and drink a glass of
Spanish wine with my tenant, which he cannot fail to offer me. But order
must be observed, Monsieur d'Artagnan, order must be observed! Let us
organize our time, then, and distribute the employment of it! Art. 1st,
Athos; Art. 2d, the Image-de-Notre-Dame; Art. 3d, M. Fouquet, Art.
4th, M. Colbert; Art. 5th, supper; Art. 6th, clothes, boots, horse,
portmanteau; Art. 7th and last, sleep."

In consequence of this arrangement, D'Artagnan went straight to the
Comte de la Fere, to whom modestly and ingenuously he related a part of
his fortunate adventures. Athos had not been without uneasiness on the
subject of D'Artagnan's visit to the king; but few words sufficed for
an explanation of that. Athos divined that Louis had charged D'Artagnan
with some important mission, and did not even make an effort to draw the
secret from him. He only recommended him to take care of himself, and
offered discreetly to accompany him if that were desirable.

"But, my dear friend," said D'Artagnan, "I am going nowhere."

"What! you come and bid me adieu, and are going nowhere?"

"Oh! yes, yes," replied D'Artagnan, coloring a little, "I am going to
make an acquisition."

"That is quite another thing. Then I change my formula. Instead of 'Do
not get yourself killed,' I will say,--'Do not get yourself robbed.'"

"My friend, I will inform you if I set eyes on any property that pleases
me, and shall expect you will favor me with your opinion."

"Yes, yes," said Athos, too delicate to permit himself even the
consolation of a smile. Raoul imitated the paternal reserve. But
D'Artagnan thought it would appear too mysterious to leave his friends
under a pretense, without even telling them the route he was about to
take.

"I have chosen Le Mans," said he to Athos. "Is it a good country?"

"Excellent, my friend," replied the count, without making him observe
that Le Mans was in the same direction as La Touraine, and that
by waiting two days, at most, he might travel with a friend. But
D'Artagnan, more embarrassed than the count, dug, at every explanation,
deeper into the mud, into which he sank by degrees. "I shall set out
to-morrow at daybreak," said he at last. "Till that time, will you come
with me, Raoul?"

"Yes, monsieur le chevalier," said the young man, "if monsieur le comte
does not want me."

"No, Raoul I am to have an audience to-day of Monsieur, the king's
brother; that is all I have to do."

Raoul asked Grimaud for his sword, which the old man brought him
immediately. "Now then," added D'Artagnan, opening his arms to Athos,
"adieu, my dear friend!" Athos held him in a long embrace, and the
musketeer, who knew his discretion so well, murmured in his ear--"An
affair of state," to which Athos only replied by a pressure of the hand,
still more significant. They then separated. Raoul took the arm of his
old friend, who led him along the Rue-Saint-Honore. "I am conducting
you to the abode of the god Plutus," said D'Artagnan to the young man;
"prepare yourself. The whole day you will witness the piling up of
crowns. Heavens! how I am changed!"

"Oh! what numbers of people there are in the street!" said Raoul.

"Is there a procession to-day?" asked D'Artagnan of a passer-by.

"Monsieur, it is a hanging," replied the man.

"What! a hanging at the Greve?" said D'Artagnan.

"Yes, monsieur."

"The devil take the rogue who gets himself hung the day I want to go and
take my rent!" cried D'Artagnan. "Raoul, did you ever see anybody hung?"

"Never, monsieur--thank God!"

"Oh! how young that sounds! If you were on guard in the trenches, as I
was, and a spy! But, pardon me, Raoul, I am doting--you are quite right,
it is a hideous sight to see a person hung! At what hour do they hang
them, monsieur, if you please?"

"Monsieur," replied the stranger respectfully, delighted at joining
conversation with two men of the sword, "it will take place about three
o'clock."

"Aha! it is now only half-past one; let us step out, we shall be there
in time to touch my three hundred and seventy-five livres, and get away
before the arrival of the malefactor."

"Malefactors, monsieur," continued the bourgeois; "there are two of
them."

"Monsieur, I return you many thanks," said D'Artagnan, who, as he grew
older, had become polite to a degree. Drawing Raoul along, he directed
his course rapidly in the direction of La Greve. Without that great
experience musketeers have of a crowd, to which were joined an
irresistible strength of wrist, and an uncommon suppleness of shoulders,
our two travelers would not have arrived at their place of destination.
They followed the line of the Quai, which they had gained on quitting
the Rue Saint-Honore, where they left Athos. D'Artagnan went first; his
elbow, his wrist, his shoulder formed three wedges which he knew how to
insinuate with skill into the groups, to make them split and separate
like firewood. He made use sometimes of the hilt of his sword as an
additional help: introducing it between ribs that were too rebellious,
making it take the part of a lever or crowbar, to separate husband from
wife, uncle from nephew, and brother from brother. And all this was done
so naturally, and with such gracious smiles, that people must have had
ribs of bronze not to cry thank you when the wrist made its play, or
hearts of diamond not to be enchanted when such a bland smile enlivened
the lips of the musketeer. Raoul, following his friend, cajoled the
women who admired his beauty, pushed back the men who felt the rigidity
of his muscles, and both opened, thanks to these maneuvers, the compact
and muddy tide of the populace. They arrived in sight of the two
gibbets, from which Raoul turned away his eyes in disgust. As for
D'Artagnan, he did not even see them; his house with its gabled roof,
its windows crowded with the curious, attracted and even absorbed all
the attention he was capable of. He distinguished in the Place and
around the houses a good number of musketeers on leave, who, some with
women, others with friends, awaited the crowning ceremony. What rejoiced
him above all was to see that his tenant, the cabaretier, was so busy he
hardly knew which way to turn. Three lads could not supply the drinkers.
They filled the shop, the chambers, and the court, even. D'Artagnan
called Raoul's attention to this concourse, adding: "The fellow will
have no excuse for not paying his rent. Look at those drinkers, Raoul,
one would say they were jolly companions. Mordioux! why, there is no
room anywhere!" D'Artagnan, however, contrived to catch hold of the
master by the corner of his apron, and to make himself known to him.

"Ah, monsieur le chevalier," said the cabaretier, half distracted, "one
minute if you please. I have here a hundred mad devils turning my cellar
upside down."

"The cellar, if you like, but not the money-box."

"Oh, monsieur, your thirty-seven and a half pistoles are all counted
out ready for you, upstairs in my chamber, but there are in that chamber
thirty customers, who are sucking the staves of a little barrel
of Oporto which I tapped for them this very morning. Give me a
minute,--only a minute."

"So be it; so be it."

"I will go," said Raoul, in a low voice, to D'Artagnan; "this hilarity
is vile!"

"Monsieur," replied D'Artagnan, sternly, "you will please to remain
where you are. The soldier ought to familiarize himself with all kinds
of spectacles. There are in the eye, when it is young, fibers which we
must learn how to harden; and we are not truly generous and good save
from the moment when the eye has become hardened, and the heart remains
tender. Besides, my little Raoul, would you leave me alone here? That
would be very wrong of you. Look, there is yonder in the lower court a
tree, and under the shade of that tree we shall breathe more freely than
in this hot atmosphere of spilt wine."

From the spot on which they had placed themselves the two new guests of
the Image-de-Notre-Dame heard the ever-increasing hubbub of the tide of
people, and lost neither a cry nor a gesture of the drinkers, at tables
in the cabaret, or disseminated in the chambers. If D'Artagnan had
wished to place himself as a vidette for an expedition, he could not
have succeeded better. The tree under which he and Raoul were seated
covered them with its already thick foliage; it was a low, thick
chestnut-tree, with inclined branches, that cast their shade over a
table so dilapidated the drinkers had abandoned it. We said that from
this post D'Artagnan saw everything. He observed the goings and comings
of the waiters; the arrival of fresh drinkers; the welcome, sometimes
friendly, sometimes hostile, given to the newcomers by others already
installed. He observed all this to amuse himself, for the thirty-seven
and a half pistoles were a long time coming. Raoul recalled his
attention to it. "Monsieur," said he, "you do not hurry your tenant,
and the condemned will soon be here. There will then be such a press we
shall not be able to get out."

"You are right," said the musketeer; "Hola! oh! somebody there!
Mordioux!" But it was in vain he cried and knocked upon the wreck of the
old table, which fell to pieces beneath his fist; nobody came.

D'Artagnan was preparing to go and seek the cabaretier himself, to force
him to a definite explanation, when the door of the court in which he
was with Raoul, a door which communicated with the garden situated at
the back, opened, and a man dressed as a cavalier, with his sword in the
sheath, but not at his belt, crossed the court without closing the
door; and having cast an oblique glance at D'Artagnan and his companion,
directed his course towards the cabaret itself, looking about in all
directions with his eyes capable of piercing walls of consciences.
"Humph!" said D'Artagnan, "my tenants are communicating. That, no doubt,
now, is some amateur in hanging matters." At the same moment the cries
and disturbance in the upper chambers ceased. Silence, under such
circumstances, surprises more than a twofold increase of noise.
D'Artagnan wished to see what was the cause of this sudden silence. He
then perceived that this man, dressed as a cavalier, had just entered
the principal chamber, and was haranguing the tipplers, who all listened
to him with the greatest attention. D'Artagnan would perhaps have heard
his speech but for the dominant noise of the popular clamors, which made
a formidable accompaniment to the harangue of the orator. But it was
soon finished, and all the people the cabaret contained came out, one
after the other, in little groups, so that there only remained six
in the chamber; one of these six, the man with the sword, took the
cabaretier aside, engaging him in discourse more or less serious,
whilst the others lit a great fire in the chimney-place--a circumstance
rendered strange by the fine weather and the heat.

"It is very singular," said D'Artagnan to Raoul, "but I think I know
those faces yonder."

"Don't you think you can smell the smoke here?" said Raoul

"I rather think I can smell a conspiracy," replied D'Artagnan.

He had not finished speaking, when four of these men came down into the
court, and without the appearance of any bad design, mounted guard at
the door of communication, casting, at intervals, glances at D'Artagnan,
which signified many things.

"Mordioux!" said D'Artagnan, in a low voice, "there is something going
on. Are you curious, Raoul?"

"According to the subject, chevalier."

"Well, I am as curious as an old woman. Come a little more in front; we
shall get a better view of the place. I would lay a wager that view will
be something curious."

"But you know, monsieur le chevalier, that I am not willing to become a
passive and indifferent spectator of the death of the two poor devils."

"And I, then--do you think I am a savage? We will go in again, when it
is time to do so. Come along!" And they made their way towards the front
of the house, and placed themselves near the window which, still more
strangely than the rest, remained unoccupied. The two last drinkers,
instead of looking out at this window, kept up the fire. On seeing
D'Artagnan and his friend enter:--"Ah! ah! a reinforcement," murmured
they.

D'Artagnan jogged Raoul's elbow. "Yes, my braves, a reinforcement," said
he; "cordieu! there is a famous fire. Whom are you going to cook?"

The two men uttered a shout of jovial laughter, and, instead of
answering, threw on more wood. D'Artagnan could not take his eyes off
them.

"I suppose," said one of the fire-makers, "they sent you to tell us the
time--did not they?"

"Without doubt they have," said D'Artagnan, anxious to know what was
going on; "why should I be here else, if it were not for that?"

"Then place yourself at the window, if you please, and observe."
D'Artagnan smiled in his mustache, made a sign to Raoul, and placed
himself at the window.



CHAPTER 62. Vive Colbert!



The spectacle which the Greve now presented was a frightful one. The
heads, leveled by the perspective, extended afar, thick and agitated as
the ears of corn in a vast plain. From time to time a fresh report, or a
distant rumor, made the heads oscillate and thousands of eyes flash. Now
and then there were great movements. All those ears of corn bent, and
became waves more agitated than those of the ocean, which rolled from
the extremities to the center, and beat, like the tides, against the
hedge of archers who surrounded the gibbets. Then the handles of
the halberds were let fall upon the heads and shoulders of the rash
invaders; at times, also, it was the steel as well as the wood, and,
in that case, a large empty circle was formed around the guard; a space
conquered upon the extremities, which underwent, in their turn the
oppression of the sudden movement, which drove them against the parapets
of the Seine. From the window, that commanded a view of the whole Place,
D'Artagnan saw, with interior satisfaction, that such of the musketeers
and guards as found themselves involved in the crowd, were able, with
blows of their fists and the hilts of their swords, to keep room. He
even remarked that they had succeeded, by that esprit de corps which
doubles the strength of the soldier, in getting together in one group to
the amount of about fifty men; and that, with the exception of a dozen
stragglers whom he still saw rolling here and there, the nucleus was
complete, and within reach of his voice. But it was not the musketeers
and guards only that drew the attention of D'Artagnan. Around the
gibbets, and particularly at the entrances to the arcade of Saint Jean,
moved a noisy mass, a busy mass; daring faces, resolute demeanors were
to be seen here and there, mingled with silly faces and indifferent
demeanors; signals were exchanged, hands given and taken. D'Artagnan
remarked among the groups, and those groups the most animated, the face
of the cavalier whom he had seen enter by the door of communication from
his garden, and who had gone upstairs to harangue the drinkers. That man
was organizing troops and giving orders.

"Mordioux!" said D'Artagnan to himself, "I was not deceived; I know that
man,--it is Menneville. What the devil is he doing here?"

A distant murmur, which became more distinct by degrees, stopped
this reflection, and drew his attention another way. This murmur was
occasioned by the arrival of the culprits; a strong picket of archers
preceded them, and appeared at the angle of the arcade. The entire crowd
now joined as if in one cry; all the cries united formed one immense
howl. D'Artagnan saw Raoul was becoming pale, and he slapped him roughly
on the shoulder. The fire-keepers turned round on hearing the great
cry, and asked what was going on. "The condemned are arrived," said
D'Artagnan. "That's well," replied they, again replenishing the fire.
D'Artagnan looked at them with much uneasiness; it was evident that
these men who were making such a fire for no apparent purpose had some
strange intentions. The condemned appeared upon the Place. They were
walking, the executioner before them, whilst fifty archers formed a
hedge on their right and their left. Both were dressed in black; they
appeared pale, but firm. They looked impatiently over the people's
heads, standing on tip-toe at every step. D'Artagnan remarked this.
"Mordioux!" cried he, "they are in a great hurry to get a sight of the
gibbet!" Raoul drew back, without, however, having the power to leave
the window. Terror even has its attractions.

"To the death! to the death!" cried fifty thousand voices.

"Yes; to the death!" howled a hundred frantic others, as if the great
mass had given them the reply.

"To the halter! to the halter!" cried the great whole; "Vive le roi!"

"Well," said D'Artagnan, "this is droll; I should have thought it was M.
Colbert who had caused them to be hung."

There was, at this moment, a great rolling movement in the crowd, which
stopped for a moment the march of the condemned. The people of a bold
and resolute mien, whom D'Artagnan had observed, by dint of pressing,
pushing, and lifting themselves up, had succeeded in almost touching the
hedge of archers. The cortege resumed its march. All at once, to cries
of "Vive Colbert!" those men, of whom D'Artagnan never lost sight, fell
upon the escort, which in vain endeavored to stand against them. Behind
these men was the crowd. Then commenced, amidst a frightful tumult, as
frightful a confusion. This time there was something more than cries of
expectation or cries of joy, there were cries of pain. Halberds struck
men down, swords ran them through, muskets were discharged at them.
The confusion became then so great that D'Artagnan could no longer
distinguish anything. Then, from this chaos, suddenly surged something
like a visible intention, like a will pronounced. The condemned had been
torn from the hands of the guards, and were being dragged towards the
house of L'Image-de-Notre-Dame. Those who dragged them shouted, "Vive
Colbert!" The people hesitated, not knowing which they ought to fall
upon, the archers or the aggressors. What stopped the people was, that
those who cried "Vive Colbert!" began to cry, at the same time, "No
halter! no halter! to the fire! to the fire! burn the thieves! burn the
extortioners!" This cry, shouted with an ensemble, obtained enthusiastic
success. The populace had come to witness an execution, and here was an
opportunity offered them of performing one themselves. It was this
that must be most agreeable to the populace: therefore, they ranged,
themselves immediately on the party of the aggressors against the
archers, crying with the minority, which had become, thanks to them,
the most compact majority: "Yes, yes: to the fire with the thieves! Vive
Colbert!"

"Mordioux!" exclaimed D'Artagnan, "this begins to look serious."

One of the men who remained near the chimney approached the window, a
firebrand in his hand. "Ah, ah!" said he, "it gets warm." Then, turning
to his companion: "There is the signal," added he; and he immediately
applied the burning brand to the wainscoting. Now, this cabaret of the
Image-de-Notre-Dame was not a very newly-built house, and therefore did
not require much entreating to take fire. In a second the boards began
to crackle, and the flames arose sparkling to the ceiling. A howling
from without replied to the shouts of the incendiaries. D'Artagnan, who
had not seen what passed, from being engaged at the window, felt, at the
same time, the smoke which choked him and the fire that scorched him.
"Hola!" cried he, turning round, "is the fire here? Are you drunk or
mad, my masters?"

The two men looked at each other with an air of astonishment. "In what?"
asked they of D'Artagnan; "was it not a thing agreed upon?"

"A thing agreed upon that you should burn my house!" vociferated
D'Artagnan, snatching the brand from the hand of the incendiary, and
striking him with it across the face. The second wanted to assist his
comrade, but Raoul, seizing him by the middle, threw him out of the
window, whilst D'Artagnan pushed his man down the stairs. Raoul, first
disengaged, tore the burning wainscoting down, and threw it flaming into
the chamber. At a glance D'Artagnan saw there was nothing to be feared
from the fire, and sprang to the window. The disorder was at its height.
The air was filled with simultaneous cries of "To the fire!" "To the
death!" "To the halter!" "To the stake!" "Vive Colbert!" "Vive le roi!"
The group which had forced the culprits from the hands of the archers
had drawn close to the house, which appeared to be the goal towards
which they dragged them. Menneville was at the head of this group,
shouting louder than all the others, "To the fire! to the fire! Vive
Colbert!" D'Artagnan began to comprehend what was meant. They wanted to
burn the condemned, and his house was to serve as a funeral pile.

"Halt, there!" cried he, sword in hand, and one foot upon the window.
"Menneville, what do you want to do?"

"Monsieur d'Artagnan," cried the latter; "give way, give way!"

"To the fire! to the fire with the thieves! Vive Colbert!"

These cries exasperated D'Artagnan. "Mordioux!" said he. "What! burn the
poor devils who are only condemned to be hung? that is infamous!"

Before the door, however, the mass of anxious spectators, rolled
back against the walls, had become more thick, and closed up the way.
Menneville and his men, who were dragging along the culprits, were
within ten paces of the door.

Menneville made a last effort. "Passage! passage!" cried he, pistol in
hand.

"Burn them! burn them!" repeated the crowd. "The Image-de-Notre-Dame
is on fire! Burn the thieves! burn the monopolists in the
Image-de-Notre-Dame!"

There now remained no doubt, it was plainly D'Artagnan's house that was
their object. D'Artagnan remembered the old cry, always so effective
from his mouth:

"A moi! mousquetaires!" shouted he, with the voice of a giant, with one
of those voices which dominate over cannon, the sea, the tempest. "A
moi! mousquetaires!" And suspending himself by the arm from the balcony,
he allowed himself to drop amidst the crowd, which began to draw back
from a house that rained men. Raoul was on the ground as soon as
he, both sword in hand. All the musketeers on the Place heard
that challenging cry--all turned round at that cry, and recognized
D'Artagnan. "To the captain, to the captain!" cried they, in their turn.
And the crowd opened before them as though before the prow of a vessel.
At that moment D'Artagnan and Menneville found themselves face to face.
"Passage, passage!" cried Menneville, seeing that he was within an arm's
length of the door.

"No one passes here," said D'Artagnan.

"Take that, then!" said Menneville, firing his pistol, almost within
arm's length. But before the cock fell, D'Artagnan had struck up
Menneville's arm with the hilt of his sword and passed the blade through
his body.

"I told you plainly to keep yourself quiet," said D'Artagnan to
Menneville, who rolled at his feet.

"Passage! passage!" cried the companions of Menneville, at first
terrified, but soon recovering, when they found they had only to do with
two men. But those two men were hundred-armed giants, the swords flew
about in their hands like the burning glaive of the archangel. They
pierce with its point, strike with the flat, cut with the edge, every
stroke brings down a man. "For the king!" cried D'Artagnan, to every man
he struck at, that is to say, to every man that fell. This cry
became the charging word for the musketeers, who guided by it, joined
D'Artagnan. During this time the archers, recovering from the panic they
had undergone, charge the aggressors in the rear, and regular as mill
strokes, overturn or knock down all that oppose them. The crowd, which
sees swords gleaming, and drops of blood flying in the air--the crowd
falls back and crushes itself. At length cries for mercy and of despair
resound; that is, the farewell of the vanquished. The two condemned are
again in the hands of the archers. D'Artagnan approaches them, seeing
them pale and sinking: "Console yourselves, poor men," said he, "you
will not undergo the frightful torture with which these wretches
threatened you. The king has condemned you to be hung: you shall only be
hung. Go on, hang them, and it will be over."

There is no longer anything going on at the Image-de-Notre-Dame. The
fire has been extinguished with two tuns of wine in default of water.
The conspirators have fled by the garden. The archers were dragging the
culprits to the gibbets. From this moment the affair did not occupy much
time. The executioner, heedless about operating according to the rules
of art, made such haste that he dispatched the condemned in a couple of
minutes. In the meantime the people gathered around D'Artagnan,--they
felicitated, they cheered him. He wiped his brow, streaming with sweat,
and his sword, streaming with blood. He shrugged his shoulders at seeing
Menneville writhing at his feet in the last convulsions. And, while
Raoul turned away his eyes in compassion, he pointed to the musketeers
the gibbets laden with their melancholy fruit. "Poor devils!" said he,
"I hope they died blessing me, for I saved them with great difficulty."
These words caught the ear of Menneville at the moment when he himself
was breathing his last sigh. A dark, ironical smile flitted across his
lips, he wished to reply, but the effort hastened the snapping of the
chord of life--he expired.

"Oh! all this is very frightful!" murmured Raoul: "let us begone,
monsieur le chevalier."

"You are not wounded?" asked D'Artagnan.

"Not at all, thank you."

"That's well! Thou art a brave fellow, mordioux! The head of the father,
and the arm of Porthos. Ah! if he had been here, good Porthos, you
would have seen something worth looking at." Then as if by way of
remembrance--

"But where the devil can that brave Porthos be?" murmured D'Artagnan.

"Come, chevalier, pray come away," urged Raoul.

"One minute, my friend, let me take my thirty-seven and a half
pistoles and I am at your service. The house is a good property," added
D'Artagnan, as he entered the Image-de-Notre-Dame, "but decidedly,
even if it were less profitable, I should prefer its being in another
quarter."



CHAPTER 63. How M. d'Eymeris's Diamond passed into the Hands of M.
D'Artagnan.



Whilst this violent, noisy, and bloody scene was passing on the Greve,
several men, barricaded behind the gate of communication with the
garden, replaced their swords in their sheaths, assisted one among them
to mount a ready saddled horse which was waiting in the garden, and like
a flock of startled birds, fled in all directions, some climbing the
walls, others rushing out at the gates with all the fury of a panic. He
who mounted the horse, and gave him the spur so sharply that the animal
was near leaping the wall, this cavalier, we say, crossed the Place
Baudoyer, passed like lightning before the crowd in the streets, riding
against, running over and knocking down all that came in his way, and,
ten minutes after, arrived at the gates of the superintendent, more out
of breath than his horse. The Abbe Fouquet, at the clatter of the hoofs
on the pavement, appeared at a window of the court, and before even the
cavalier had set foot to the ground, "Well! Danecamp?" cried he, leaning
half out of the window.

"Well, it is all over," replied the cavalier.

"All over!" cried the abbe. "Then they are saved?"

"No, monsieur," replied the cavalier, "they are hung."

"Hung!" repeated the abbe, turning pale. A lateral door suddenly opened,
and Fouquet appeared in the chamber, pale, distracted, with lips
half opened, breathing a cry of grief and anger. He stopped upon the
threshold to listen to what was addressed from the court to the window.

"Miserable wretches!" said the abbe, "you did not fight, then?"

"Like lions."

"Say like cowards."

"Monsieur!"

"A hundred men accustomed to war, sword in hand, are worth ten thousand
archers in a surprise. Where is Menneville, that boaster, that braggart,
who was to come back either dead or a conqueror?"

"Well, monsieur, he has kept his word. He is dead!"

"Dead! Who killed him?"

"A demon disguised as a man, a giant armed with ten flaming swords--a
madman, who at one blow extinguished the fire, put down the riot,
and caused a hundred musketeers to rise up out of the pavement of the
Greve."

Fouquet raised his brow, streaming with sweat, murmuring, "Oh! Lyodot
and D'Eymeris! dead! dead! dead! and I dishonored."

The abbe turned round, and perceiving his brother, despairing and livid,
"Come, come," said he, "it is a blow of fate, monsieur; we must not
lament thus. Our attempt has failed, because God----"

"Be silent, abbe! be silent!" cried Fouquet; "your excuses are
blasphemies. Order that man up here, and let him relate the details of
this terrible event."

"But, brother----"

"Obey, monsieur!"

The abbe made a sign, and in half a minute the man's step was heard upon
the stairs. At the same time Gourville appeared behind Fouquet, like the
guardian angel of the superintendent, pressing one finger on his lips
to enjoin observation even amidst the bursts of his grief. The minister
resumed all the serenity that human strength left at the disposal of a
heart half broken with sorrow. Danecamp appeared. "Make your report,"
said Gourville.

"Monsieur," replied the messenger, "we received orders to carry off the
prisoners, and to cry 'Vive Colbert!' whilst carrying them off."

"To burn them alive, was it not, abbe?" interrupted Gourville.

"Yes, yes, the order was given to Menneville. Menneville knew what was
to be done, and Menneville is dead."

This news appeared rather to reassure Gourville than to sadden him.

"Yes, certainly to burn them alive," said the abbe, eagerly.

"Granted, monsieur, granted," said the man, looking into the eyes
and the faces of the two interlocutors, to ascertain what there was
profitable or disadvantageous to himself in telling the truth.

"Now, proceed," said Gourville.

"The prisoners," cried Danecamp, "were brought to the Greve, and the
people, in a fury, insisted upon their being burnt instead of being
hung."

"And the people were right," said the abbe. "Go on."

"But," resumed the man, "at the moment the archers were broken, at the
moment the fire was set to one of the houses of the Place destined to
serve as a funeral-pile for the guilty, this fury, this demon, this
giant of whom I told you, and who we had been informed, was the
proprietor of the house in question, aided by a young man who
accompanied him, threw out of the window those who kept up the fire,
called to his assistance the musketeers who were in the crowd, leapt
himself from the window of the first story into the Place, and plied his
sword so desperately that the victory was restored to the archers, the
prisoners were retaken, and Menneville killed. When once recaptured,
the condemned were executed in three minutes." Fouquet, in spite of his
self-command, could not prevent a deep groan escaping him.

"And this man, the proprietor of the house, what is his name?" said the
abbe.

"I cannot tell you, not having even been able to get sight of him; my
post had been appointed in the garden, and I remained at my post: only
the affair was related to me as I repeat it. I was ordered, when once
the affair was at an end, to come at best speed and announce to you the
manner in which it finished. According to this order, I set out, full
gallop, and here I am."

"Very well, monsieur, we have nothing else to ask of you," said the
abbe, more and more dejected, in proportion as the moment approached for
finding himself alone with his brother.

"Have you been paid?" asked Gourville.

"Partly, monsieur," replied Danecamp.

"Here are twenty pistoles. Begone, monsieur, and never forget to defend,
as this time has been done, the true interests of the king."

"Yes, monsieur," said the man, bowing and pocketing the money. After
which he went out. Scarcely had the door closed after him when Fouquet,
who had remained motionless, advanced with a rapid step and stood
between the abbe and Gourville. Both of them at the same time opened
their mouths to speak to him. "No excuses," said he, "no recriminations
against anybody. If I had not been a false friend I should not have
confided to any one the care of delivering Lyodot and D'Eymeris. I alone
am guilty; to me alone are reproaches and remorse due. Leave me, abbe."

"And yet, monsieur, you will not prevent me," replied the latter, "from
endeavoring to find out the miserable fellow who has intervened to the
advantage of M. Colbert in this so well-arranged affair; for, if it is
good policy to love our friends dearly, I do not believe that is bad
which consists in obstinately pursuing our enemies."

"A truce to policy, abbe; begone, I beg of you, and do not let me hear
any more of you till I send for you; what we most need is circumspection
and silence. You have a terrible example before you, gentlemen: no
reprisals, I forbid them."

"There are no orders," grumbled the abbe, "which will prevent me from
avenging a family affront upon the guilty person."

"And I," cried Fouquet, in that imperative tone to which one feels there
is nothing to reply, "if you entertain one thought, one single thought,
which is not the absolute expression of my will, I will have you cast
into the Bastile two hours after that thought has manifested itself.
Regulate your conduct accordingly, abbe."

The abbe colored and bowed. Fouquet made a sign to Gourville to follow
him, and was already directing his steps towards his cabinet, when the
usher announced with a loud voice: "Monsieur le Chevalier d'Artagnan."

"Who is he?" said Fouquet, negligently, to Gourville.

"An ex-lieutenant of his majesty's musketeers," replied Gourville, in
the same tone. Fouquet did not even take the trouble to reflect, and
resumed his walk. "I beg your pardon, monseigneur!" said Gourville, "but
I have remembered, this brave man has quitted the king's service, and
probably comes to receive an installment of some pension or other."

"Devil take him!" said Fouquet, "why does he choose his opportunity so
ill?"

"Permit me then, monseigneur, to announce your refusal to him; for he is
one of my acquaintance, and is a man whom, in our present circumstances,
it would be better to have as a friend than an enemy."

"Answer him as you please," said Fouquet.

"Eh! good Lord!" said the abbe, still full of malice, like an
egotistical man; "tell him there is no money, particularly for
musketeers."

But scarcely had the abbe uttered this imprudent speech, when the partly
open door was thrown back, and D'Artagnan appeared.

"Eh! Monsieur Fouquet," said he, "I was well aware there was no money
for musketeers here. Therefore I did not come to obtain any, but to have
it refused. That being done, receive my thanks. I give you good-day, and
will go and seek it at M. Colbert's." And he went out, making an easy
bow.

"Gourville," said Fouquet, "run after that man and bring him back."
Gourville obeyed, and overtook D'Artagnan on the stairs.

D'Artagnan, hearing steps behind him, turned round and perceived
Gourville. "Mordioux! my dear monsieur," said he, "these are sad lessons
which you gentlemen of finance teach us; I come to M. Fouquet to receive
a sum accorded by his majesty, and I am received like a mendicant who
comes to ask charity, or a thief who comes to steal a piece of plate."

"But you pronounced the name of M. Colbert, my dear M. d'Artagnan; you
said you were going to M. Colbert's?"

"I certainly am going there, were it only to ask satisfaction of the
people who try to burn houses, crying 'Vive Colbert!'"

Gourville pricked up his ears. "Oh, oh!" said he, "you allude to what
has just happened at the Greve?"

"Yes, certainly."

"And in what did that which has taken place concern you?"

"What! do you ask me whether it concerns me or does not concern me, if
M. Colbert pleases to make a funeral-pile of my house?"

"So ho, your house--was it your house they wanted to burn?"

"Pardieu! was it!"

"Is the cabaret of the Image-de-Notre-Dame yours, then?"

"It has been this week."

"Well, then, are you the brave captain, are you the valiant blade who
dispersed those who wished to burn the condemned?"

"My dear Monsieur Gourville, put yourself in my place. I was an agent
of the public force and a landlord, too. As a captain, it is my duty to
have the orders of the king accomplished. As a proprietor, it is to my
interest my house should not be burnt. I have at the same time attended
to the laws of interest and duty in replacing Messieurs Lyodot and
D'Eymeris in the hands of the archers."

"Then it was you who threw the man out of the window?"

"It was I, myself," replied D'Artagnan, modestly

"And you who killed Menneville?"

"I had that misfortune," said D'Artagnan, bowing like a man who is being
congratulated.

"It was you, then, in short, who caused the two condemned persons to be
hung?"

"Instead of being burnt, yes, monsieur, and I am proud of it. I saved
the poor devils from horrible tortures. Understand, my dear Monsieur de
Gourville, that they wanted to burn them alive. It exceeds imagination!"

"Go, my dear Monsieur d'Artagnan, go," said Gourville, anxious to spare
Fouquet the sight of the man who had just caused him such profound
grief.

"No," said Fouquet, who had heard all from the door of the ante-chamber;
"not so; on the contrary, Monsieur d'Artagnan, come in."

D'Artagnan wiped from the hilt of his sword a last bloody trace, which
had escaped his notice, and returned. He then found himself face to
face with these three men, whose countenances wore very different
expressions. With the abbe it was anger, with Gourville stupor, with
Fouquet it was dejection.

"I beg your pardon, monsieur le ministre," said D'Artagnan, "but my
time is short; I have to go to the office of the intendant, to have an
explanation with Monsieur Colbert, and to receive my quarter's pension."

"But, monsieur," said Fouquet, "there is money here." D'Artagnan
looked at the superintendent with astonishment. "You have been answered
inconsiderately, monsieur, I know, because I heard it," said the
minister; "a man of your merit ought to be known by everybody."
D'Artagnan bowed. "Have you an order?" added Fouquet.

"Yes, monsieur."

"Give it me, I will pay you myself; come with me." He made a sign to
Gourville and the abbe, who remained in the chamber where they were.
He led D'Artagnan into his cabinet. As soon as the door was shut,--"How
much is due to you, monsieur?"

"Why, something like five thousand livres, monseigneur."

"For arrears of pay?"

"For a quarter's pay."

"A quarter consisting of five thousand livres!" said Fouquet, fixing
upon the musketeer a searching look. "Does the king, then, give you
twenty thousand livres a year?"

"Yes, monseigneur, twenty thousand livres a year. Do you think it is too
much?"

"I?" cried Fouquet, and he smiled bitterly. "If I had any knowledge of
mankind, if I were--instead of being a frivolous, inconsequent, and vain
spirit--of a prudent and reflective spirit; if, in a word, I had, as
certain persons have known how, regulated my life, you would not receive
twenty thousand livres a year, but a hundred thousand, and you would not
belong to the king, but to me."

D'Artagnan colored slightly. There is sometimes in the manner in which
a eulogium is given, in the voice, in the affectionate tone, a poison so
sweet, that the strongest mind is intoxicated by it. The superintendent
terminated his speech by opening a drawer, and taking from it four
rouleaux which he placed before D'Artagnan. The Gascon opened one.
"Gold!" said he.

"It will be less burdensome, monsieur."

"But then, monsieur, these make twenty thousand livres."

"No doubt they do."

"But only five are due to me."

"I wish to spare you the trouble of coming four times to my office."

"You overwhelm me, monsieur."

"I do only what I ought to do, monsieur le chevalier; and I hope you
will not bear me any malice on account of the rude reception my brother
gave you. He is of a sour, capricious disposition."

"Monsieur," said D'Artagnan, "believe me, nothing would grieve me more
than an excuse from you."

"Therefore I will make no more, and will content myself with asking you
a favor."

"Oh, monsieur."

Fouquet drew from his finger a ring worth about a thousand pistoles.
"Monsieur," said he, "this stone was given me by a friend of my
childhood, by a man to whom you have rendered a great service."

"A service--I?" said the musketeer, "I have rendered a service to one of
your friends?"

"You cannot have forgotten it, monsieur, for it dates this very day."

"And that friend's name was----"

"M. d'Eymeris."

"One of the condemned?"

"Yes, one of the victims. Well! Monsieur d'Artagnan, in return for the
service you have rendered him, I beg you to accept this diamond. Do so
for my sake."

"Monsieur! you----"

"Accept it, I say. To-day is with me a day of mourning; hereafter you
will, perhaps, learn why; to-day I have lost one friend; well, I will
try to get another."

"But, Monsieur Fouquet----"

"Adieu! Monsieur d'Artagnan, adieu!" cried Fouquet, with much emotion;
"or rather, au revoir." And the minister quitted the cabinet, leaving in
the hands of the musketeer the ring and the twenty thousand livres.

"Oh!" said D'Artagnan, after a moment's dark reflection. "How on earth
am I to understand what this means? Mordioux! I can understand this
much, only: he is a gallant man! I will go and explain matters to M.
Colbert." And he went out.



CHAPTER 64. Of the Notable Difference D'Artagnan finds between Monsieur
the Intendant and Monsieur the Superintendent



M. Colbert resided in the Rue Neuve des Petits-Champs in a house which
had belonged to Beautru. D'Artagnan's legs cleared the distance in a
short quarter of an hour. When he arrived at the residence of the
new favorite, the court was full of archers and police, who came to
congratulate him, or to excuse themselves according to whether he should
choose to praise or blame. The sentiment of flattery is instinctive
with people of abject condition; they have the sense of it, as the wild
animal has that of hearing and smell. These people, or their leader,
understood that there was a pleasure to offer to M. Colbert, in
rendering him an account of the fashion in which his name had been
pronounced during the rash enterprise of the morning. D'Artagnan made
his appearance just as the chief of the watch was giving his report. He
stood close to the door, behind the archers. That officer took Colbert
on one side, in spite of his resistance and the contraction of his bushy
eyebrows. "In case," said he, "you really desired, monsieur, that the
people should do justice on the two traitors, it would have been wise
to warn us of it; for, indeed, monsieur, in spite of our regret at
displeasing you, or thwarting your views, we had our orders to execute."

"Triple fool!" replied Colbert, furiously shaking his hair, thick and
black as a mane, "what are you telling me? What! that I could have had
an idea of a riot! Are you mad or drunk?"

"But, monsieur, they cried, 'Vive Colbert!'" replied the trembling
watch.

"A handful of conspirators----"

"No, no; a mass of people."

"Ah! indeed," said Colbert, expanding. "A mass of people cried, 'Vive
Colbert!' Are you certain of what you say, monsieur?"

"We had nothing to do but open our ears, or rather to close them, so
terrible were the cries."

"And this was from the people, the real people?"

"Certainly, monsieur; only these real people beat us."

"Oh! very well," continued Colbert, thoughtfully. "Then you suppose it
was the people alone who wished to burn the condemned?"

"Oh! yes, monsieur."

"That is quite another thing. You strongly resisted, then?"

"We had three of our men crushed to death, monsieur!"

"But you killed nobody yourselves?"

"Monsieur, a few of the rioters were left upon the square, and one among
them who was not a common man."

"Who was he?"

"A certain Menneville, upon whom the police have a long time had an
eye."

"Menneville!" cried Colbert, "what, he who killed Rue de la Huchette, a
worthy man who wanted a fat fowl?"

"Yes, monsieur; the same."

"And did this Menneville also cry, 'Vive Colbert'?"

"Louder than all the rest, like a madman."

Colbert's brow grew dark and wrinkled. A kind of ambitious glory which
had lighted his face was extinguished, like the light of glow-worms we
crush beneath the grass. "Then you say," resumed the deceived intendant,
"that the initiative came from the people? Menneville was my enemy, I
would have had him hung, and he knew it well. Menneville belonged to
the Abbe Fouquet--the affair originated with Fouquet; does not everybody
know that the condemned were his friends from childhood?"

"That is true," thought D'Artagnan, "and thus are all my doubts cleared
up. I repeat it, Monsieur Fouquet many be called what they please, but
he is a very gentlemanly man."

"And," continued Colbert, "are you quite sure Menneville is dead?"

D'Artagnan thought the time was come for him to make his appearance.
"Perfectly, monsieur;" replied he, advancing suddenly.

"Oh! is that you, monsieur?" said Colbert.

"In person," replied the musketeer with his deliberate tone; "it appears
that you had in Menneville a pretty enemy."

"It was not I, monsieur, who had an enemy," replied Colbert; "it was the
king."

"Double brute!" thought D'Artagnan, "to think to play the great man and
the hypocrite with me. Well," continued he to Colbert, "I am very happy
to have rendered so good a service to the king; will you take upon you
to tell his majesty, monsieur l'intendant?"

"What commission is this you give me, and what do you charge me to tell
his majesty, monsieur? Be precise, if you please," said Colbert, in a
sharp voice, tuned beforehand to hostility.

"I give you no commission," replied D'Artagnan, with that calmness which
never abandons the banterer; "I thought it would be easy for you to
announce to his majesty that it was I who, being there by chance, did
justice upon Menneville and restored things to order."

Colbert opened his eyes and interrogated the chief of the watch with a
look--"Ah! it is very true," said the latter, "that this gentleman saved
us."

"Why did you not tell me monsieur, that you came to relate me this?"
said Colbert with envy, "everything is explained, and more favorably for
you than for anybody else."

"You are in error, monsieur l'intendant, I did not at all come for the
purpose of relating that to you."

"It is an exploit, nevertheless."

"Oh!" said the musketeer carelessly, "constant habit blunts the mind."

"To what do I owe the honor of your visit, then?"

"Simply to this: the king ordered me to come to you."

"Ah!" said Colbert, recovering himself when he saw D'Artagnan draw a
paper from his pocket; "it is to demand some money of me?"

"Precisely, monsieur.'

"Have the goodness to wait, if you please, monsieur, till I have
dispatched the report of the watch."

D'Artagnan turned upon his heel, insolently enough, and finding himself
face to face with Colbert, after his first turn, he bowed to him as a
harlequin would have done; then, after a second evolution, he directed
his steps towards the door in quick time. Colbert was struck with this
pointed rudeness, to which he was not accustomed. In general, men of
the sword, when they came to his office, had such a want of money, that
though their feet seemed to take root in the marble, they hardly lost
their patience. Was D'Artagnan going straight to the king? Would he go
and describe his rough reception, or recount his exploit? This was a
matter for grave consideration. At all events, the moment was badly
chosen to send D'Artagnan away, whether he came from the king, or on his
own account. The musketeer had rendered too great a service, and that
too recently, for it to be already forgotten. Therefore Colbert thought
it would be better to shake off his arrogance and call D'Artagnan back.
"Ho! Monsieur d'Artagnan," cried Colbert, "what! are you leaving me
thus?"

D'Artagnan turned round: "Why not?" said he, quietly, "we have no more
to say to each other, have we?"

"You have, at least, money to receive, as you have an order?"

"Who, I? Oh! not at all, my dear Monsieur Colbert."

"But, monsieur, you have an order. And, in the same manner as you give a
sword-thrust, when you are required, I, on my part, pay when an order is
presented to me. Present yours."

"It is useless, my dear Monsieur Colbert," said D'Artagnan, who inwardly
enjoyed this confusion in the ideas of Colbert; "my order is paid."

"Paid, by whom?"

"By monsieur le surintendant."

Colbert grew pale.

"Explain yourself," said he, in a stifled voice--"if you are paid why do
you show me that paper?"

"In consequence of the word of order of which you spoke to me so
ingeniously just now, dear M. Colbert; the king told me to take a
quarter of the pension he is pleased to make me."

"Of me?" said Colbert.

"Not exactly. The king said to me: 'Go to M. Fouquet; the superintendent
will, perhaps, have no money, then you will go and draw it of M.
Colbert.'"

The countenance of M. Colbert brightened for a moment; but it was with
his unfortunate physiognomy as with a stormy sky, sometimes radiant,
sometimes dark as night, according as the lightning gleams or the cloud
passes. "Eh! and was there any money in the superintendent's coffers?"
asked he.

"Why, yes, he could not be badly off for money," replied D'Artagnan--"it
may be believed, since M. Fouquet, instead of paying me a quarter or
five thousand livres----"

"A quarter or five thousand livres!" cried Colbert, struck, as Fouquet
had been, with the generosity of the sum for a soldier's pension, "why,
that would be a pension of twenty thousand livres?"

"Exactly, M. Colbert. Peste! you reckon like old Pythagoras; yes, twenty
thousand livres."

"Ten times the appointment of an intendant of the finances. I beg to
offer you my compliments," said Colbert, with a vicious smile.

"Oh!" said D'Artagnan, "the king apologized for giving me so little;
but he promised to make it more hereafter, when he should be rich; but I
must be gone, having much to do----"

"So, then, notwithstanding the expectation of the king, the
superintendent paid you, did he?"

"In the same manner as, in opposition to the king's expectation, you
refused to pay me."

"I did not refuse, monsieur, I only begged you to wait. And you say that
M. Fouquet paid you your five thousand livres?"

"Yes, as you might have done; but he did even better than that, M.
Colbert."

"And what did he do?"

"He politely counted me down the sum-total, saying, that for the king,
his coffers were always full."

"The sum-total! M. Fouquet has given you twenty thousand livres instead
of five thousand?"

"Yes, monsieur."

"And what for?"

"In order to spare me three visits to the money-chest of the
superintendent, so that I have the twenty thousand livres in my pocket
in good new coin. You see, then, that I am able to go away without
standing in need of you, having come here only for form's sake."
And D'Artagnan slapped his hand upon his pocket, with a laugh which
disclosed to Colbert thirty-two magnificent teeth, as white as teeth of
twenty-five years old and which seemed to say in their language: "Serve
up to us thirty-two little Colberts, and we will chew them willingly."
The serpent is as brave as the lion, the hawk as courageous as the
eagle, that cannot be contested. It can only be said of animals that are
decidedly cowardly, and are so called, that they will be brave only
when they have to defend themselves. Colbert was not frightened at the
thirty-two teeth of D'Artagnan. He recovered, and suddenly,--"Monsieur,"
said he, "monsieur le surintendant has done what he had no right to do."

"What do you mean by that?" replied D'Artagnan.

"I mean that your note--will you let me see your note, if you please?"

"Very willingly; here it is."

Colbert seized the paper with an eagerness which the musketeer did not
remark without uneasiness, and particularly without a certain degree of
regret at having trusted him with it. "Well, monsieur, the royal order
says this:--'At sight, I command that there be paid to M. d'Artagnan
the sum of five thousand livres, forming a quarter of the pension I have
made him.'"

"So, in fact, it is written," said D'Artagnan, affecting calmness.

"Very well; the king only owed you five thousand livres; why has more
been given to you?"

"Because there was more; and M. Fouquet was willing to give me more;
that does not concern anybody."

"It is natural," said Colbert, with a proud ease, "that you should be
ignorant of the usages of state-finance; but, monsieur, when you have a
thousand livres to pay, what do you do?"

"I never have a thousand livres to pay," replied D'Artagnan.

"Once more," said Colbert, irritated--"once more, if you had any sum to
pay, would you not pay what you ought?"

"That only proves one thing," said D'Artagnan; "and that is, that you
have your particular customs in finance, and M. Fouquet has his own."

"Mine, monsieur, are the correct ones."

"I do not say they are not."

"And you have accepted what was not due to you."

D'Artagnan's eyes flashed. "What is not due to me yet, you meant to
say, M. Colbert; for if I had received what was not due to me at all, I
should have committed a theft."

Colbert made no reply to this subtlety. "You then owe fifteen thousand
livres to the public chest," said he, carried away by his jealous ardor.

"Then you must give me credit for them," replied D'Artagnan, with his
imperceptible irony.

"Not at all, monsieur."

"Well! what will you do, then? You will not take my rouleaux from me,
will you?"

"You must return them to my chest."

"I! Oh! Monsieur Colbert, don't reckon upon that."

"The king wants his money, monsieur."

"And I, monsieur, I want the king's money."

"That may be but you must return this."

"Not a sou. I have always understood that in matters of comptabilite, as
you call it, a good cashier never gives back or takes back."

"Then, monsieur, we shall see what the king will say about it. I will
show him this note, which proves that M. Fouquet not only pays what he
does not owe, but that he does not even take care of vouchers for the
sums that he has paid."

"Ah! now I understand why you have taken that paper, M. Colbert!"

Colbert did not perceive all that there was of a threatening character
in his name pronounced in a certain manner. "You shall see hereafter
what use I will make of it," said he, holding up the paper in his
fingers.

"Oh!" said D'Artagnan, snatching the paper from him with a rapid
movement; "I understand it perfectly well, M. Colbert; I have no
occasion to wait for that." And he crumpled up in his pocket the paper
he had so cleverly seized.

"Monsieur, monsieur!" cried Colbert, "this is violence!"

"Nonsense! You must not be particular about a soldier's manners!"
replied D'Artagnan. "I kiss your hands, my dear M. Colbert." And he went
out, laughing in the face of the future minister.

"That man, now," muttered he, "was about to grow quite friendly; it is a
great pity I was obliged to cut his company so soon."



CHAPTER 65. Philosophy of the Heart and Mind



For a man who had seen so many much more dangerous ones, the position
of D'Artagnan with respect to M. Colbert was only comic. D'Artagnan,
therefore, did not deny himself the satisfaction of laughing at the
expense of monsieur l'intendant, from the Rue des Petits-Champs to the
Rue des Lombards. It was a great while since D'Artagnan had laughed so
long together. He was still laughing when Planchet appeared, laughing
likewise, at the door of his house; for Planchet, since the return
of his patron, since the entrance of the English guineas, passed the
greater part of his life in doing what D'Artagnan had only done from
Rue-Neuve des Petits-Champs to the Rue des Lombards.

"You are home, then, my dear master?" said Planchet.

"No, my friend," replied the musketeer, "I am off and that quickly. I
will sup with you, go to bed, sleep five hours, and at break of day leap
into my saddle. Has my horse had an extra feed?"

"Eh! my dear master," replied Planchet, "you know very well that your
horse is the jewel of the family; that my lads are caressing it all day,
and cramming it with sugar, nuts, and biscuits. You ask me if he has had
an extra feed of oats; you should ask if he has not had enough to burst
him."

"Very well, Planchet, that is all right. Now, then, I pass to what
concerns me--my supper?"

"Ready. A smoking roast joint, white wine, crayfish and fresh-gathered
cherries. All ready, my master."

"You are a capital fellow, Planchet; come on, then, let us sup, and I
will go to bed."

During supper D'Artagnan observed that Planchet kept rubbing his
forehead, as if to facilitate the issue of some idea closely pent within
his brain. He looked with an air of kindness at this worthy companion of
former adventures and misadventures, and, clinking glass against glass,
"Come, Planchet," said he, "let us see what it is that gives you so much
trouble to bring forth. Mordioux! Speak freely, and quickly."

"Well, this is it," replied Planchet: "you appear to me to be going on
some expedition or other."

"I don't say that I am not."

"Then you have some new idea?"

"That is possible, too, Planchet."

"Then there will be fresh capital to be ventured? I will lay down
fifty thousand livres upon the idea you are about to carry out." And so
saying, Planchet rubbed his hands one against the other with a rapidity
evincing great delight.

"Planchet," said D'Artagnan, "there is but one misfortune in it."

"And what is that?"

"That the idea is not mine. I can risk nothing upon it."

These words drew a deep sigh from the heart of Planchet. That Avarice
is an ardent counselor; she carries away her man, as Satan did Jesus,
to the mountain, and when once she has shown to an unfortunate all the
kingdoms of the earth, she is able to repose herself, knowing full well
that she has left her companion, Envy, to gnaw his heart. Planchet had
tasted of riches easily acquired, and was never afterwards likely
to stop in his desires; but, as he had a good heart in spite of his
covetousness, as he adored D'Artagnan, he could not refrain from making
him a thousand recommendations, each more affectionate than the others.
He would not have been sorry, nevertheless, to have caught a little hint
of the secret his master concealed so well; tricks, turns, counsels and
traps were all useless, D'Artagnan let nothing confidential escape
him. The evening passed thus. After supper the portmanteau occupied
D'Artagnan, he took a turn to the stable, patted his horse, and examined
his shoes and legs, then, having counted over his money, he went to
bed, sleeping as if only twenty, because he had neither inquietude nor
remorse; he closed his eyes five minutes after he had blown out his
lamp. Many events might, however, have kept him awake. Thought boiled
in his brain, conjectures abounded, and D'Artagnan was a great drawer
of horoscopes; but, with that imperturbable phlegm which does more
than genius for the fortune and happiness of men of action, he put off
reflection till the next day, for fear, he said, not to be fresh when he
wanted to be so.

The day came. The Rue des Lombards had its share of the caresses of
Aurora with the rosy fingers, and D'Artagnan arose like Aurora. He did
not awaken anybody, he placed his portmanteau under his arm, descended
the stairs without making one of them creak and without disturbing one
of the sonorous snorings in every story from the garret to the cellar,
then, having saddled his horse, shut the stable and house doors, he set
off, at a foot-pace, on his expedition to Bretagne. He had done quite
right not to trouble himself with all the political and diplomatic
affairs which solicited his attention; for, in the morning, in freshness
and mild twilight, his ideas developed themselves in purity and
abundance. In the first place, he passed before the house of Fouquet,
and threw in a large gaping box the fortunate order which, the evening
before, he had had so much trouble to recover from the hooked fingers of
the intendant. Placed in an envelope, and addressed to Fouquet, it
had not even been divined by Planchet, who in divination was equal to
Calchas or the Pythian Apollo. D'Artagnan thus sent back the order to
Fouquet, without compromising himself, and without having thenceforward
any reproaches to make himself. When he had effected this proper
restitution, "Now," said he to himself, "let us inhale much maternal
air, much freedom from cares, much health, let us allow the horse
Zephyr, whose flanks puff as if he had to respire an atmosphere to
breathe, and let us be very ingenious in our little calculations. It is
time," said D'Artagnan, "to form a plan of the campaign, and, according
to the method of M. Turenne, who has a large head full of all sorts of
good counsels, before the plan of the campaign it is advisable to draw
a striking portrait of the generals to whom we are opposed. In the first
place, M. Fouquet presents himself. What is M. Fouquet? M. Fouquet,"
replied D'Artagnan to himself, "is a handsome man, very much beloved by
the women, a generous man very much beloved by the poets; a man of wit,
much execrated by pretenders. Well, now I am neither woman, poet, nor
pretender: I neither love nor hate monsieur le surintendant. I find
myself, therefore, in the same position in which M. de Turenne found
himself when opposed to the Prince de Conde at Jargeau, Gien and the
Faubourg Saint-Antoine. He did not execrate monsieur le prince, it is
true, but he obeyed the king. Monsieur le prince is an agreeable man,
but the king is king. Turenne heaved a deep sigh, called Conde 'My
cousin,' and swept away his army. Now what does the king wish? That
does not concern me. Now, what does M. Colbert wish? Oh, that's another
thing. M. Colbert wishes all that M. Fouquet does not wish. Then what
does M. Fouquet wish? Oh, that is serious. M. Fouquet wishes precisely
for all which the king wishes."

This monologue ended, D'Artagnan began to laugh, whilst making his whip
whistle in the air. He was already on the high road, frightening the
birds in the hedges, listening to the livres chinking and dancing in his
leather pocket, at every step; and, let us confess it, every time that
D'Artagnan found himself in such conditions tenderness was not his
dominant vice. "Come," said he, "I cannot think the expedition a very
dangerous one; and it will fall out with my voyage as with that piece
M. Monk took me to see in London, which was called, I think, 'Much Ado
about Nothing.'"



CHAPTER 66. The Journey



It was perhaps the fiftieth time since the day on which we open this
history, that this man, with a heart of bronze and muscles of steel, had
left house and friends, everything, in short, to go in search of fortune
and death. The one--that is to say, death--had constantly retreated
before him, as if afraid of him; the other--that is to say, fortune--for
a month past only had really made an alliance with him. Although he
was not a great philosopher, after the fashion of either Epicurus
or Socrates, he was a powerful spirit, having knowledge of life, and
endowed with thought. No one is as brave, as adventurous, or as skillful
as D'Artagnan, without being at the same time inclined to be a dreamer.
He had picked up, here and there, some scraps of M. de la Rochefoucauld,
worthy of being translated into Latin by MM. de Port Royal, and he had
made a collection, en passant, in the society of Athos and Aramis, of
many morsels of Seneca and Cicero, translated by them, and applied to
the uses of common life. That contempt of riches which our Gascon had
observed as an article of faith during the thirty-five first years
of his life, had for a long time been considered by him as the first
article of the code of bravery. "Article first," said he, "A man is
brave because he has nothing. A man has nothing because he despises
riches." Therefore, with these principles, which, as we have said had
regulated the thirty-five first years of his life, D'Artagnan was no
sooner possessed of riches, than he felt it necessary to ask himself if,
in spite of his riches, he were still brave. To this, for any other
but D'Artagnan, the events of the Place de Greve might have served as
a reply. Many consciences would have been satisfied with them, but
D'Artagnan was brave enough to ask himself sincerely and conscientiously
if he were brave. Therefore to this:--

"But it appears to me that I drew promptly enough and cut and thrust
pretty freely on the Place de Greve to be satisfied of my bravery,"
D'Artagnan had himself replied. "Gently, captain, that is not an answer.
I was brave that day, because they were burning my house, and there
are a hundred, and even a thousand, to speak against one, that if those
gentlemen of the riots had not formed that unlucky idea, their plan of
attack would have succeeded, or, at least, it would not have been I who
would have opposed myself to it. Now, what will be brought against me? I
have no house to be burnt in Bretagne; I have no treasure there that
can be taken from me.--No; but I have my skin; that precious skin of M.
d'Artagnan, which to him is worth more than all the houses and all the
treasures of the world. That skin to which I cling above everything,
because it is, everything considered, the binding of a body which
encloses a heart very warm and ready to fight, and, consequently, to
live. Then, I do desire to live; and, in reality, I live much better,
more completely, since I have become rich. Who the devil ever said that
money spoiled life! Upon my soul, it is no such thing; on the contrary,
it seems as if I absorbed a double quantity of air and sun. Mordioux!
what will it be then, if I double that fortune, and if, instead of
the switch I now hold in my hand, I should ever carry the baton of a
marechal? Then I really don't know if there will be, from that moment
enough of air and sun for me. In fact, this is not a dream, who the
devil would oppose it, if the king made me a marechal, as his father,
King Louis XIII., made a duke and constable of Albert de Luynes? Am I
not as brave, and much more intelligent, than that imbecile De Vitry?
Ah! that's exactly what will prevent my advancement: I have too much
wit. Luckily, if there is any justice in this world, fortune owes me
many compensations. She owes me certainly a recompense for all I did for
Anne of Austria, and an indemnification for all she has not done for me.
Then, at the present, I am very well with a king, and with a king who
has the appearance of determining to reign. May God keep him in that
illustrious road! For, if he is resolved to reign he will want me; and
if he wants me, he will give me what he has promised me--warmth and
light; so that I march, comparatively, now, as I marched formerly,--from
nothing to everything. Only the nothing of to-day is the all of former
days; there has only this little change taken place in my life. And
now let us see! let us take the part of the heart, as I just now was
speaking of it. But in truth, I only spoke of it from memory." And the
Gascon applied his hand to his breast, as if he were actually seeking
the place where his heart was.

"Ah! wretch!" murmured he, smiling with bitterness. "Ah! poor mortal
species! You hoped, for an instant, that you had not a heart, and now
you find you have one--bad courtier as thou art,--and even one of the
most seditious. You have a heart which speaks to you in favor of M.
Fouquet. And what is M. Fouquet, when the king is in question?--A
conspirator, a real conspirator, who did not even give himself the
trouble to conceal his being a conspirator; therefore, what a weapon
would you not have against him, if his good grace and his intelligence
had not made a scabbard for that weapon. An armed revolt!--for, in fact,
M. Fouquet has been guilty of an armed revolt. Thus, while the king
vaguely suspects M. Fouquet of rebellion, I know it--I could prove
that M. Fouquet had caused the shedding of the blood of his majesty's
subjects. Now, then, let us see? Knowing all that, and holding my
tongue, what further would this heart wish in return for a kind action
of M. Fouquet's, for an advance of fifteen thousand livres, for a
diamond worth a thousand pistoles, for a smile in which there was as
much bitterness as kindness?--I save his life."

"Now, then, I hope," continued the musketeer, "that this imbecile of
a heart is going to preserve silence, and so be fairly quits with M.
Fouquet. Now, then, the king becomes my sun, and as my heart is quits
with M. Fouquet, let him beware who places himself between me and my
sun! Forward, for his majesty Louis XIV.!--Forward!"

These reflections were the only impediments which were able to retard
the progress of D'Artagnan. These reflections once made, he increased
the speed of his horse. But, however perfect his horse Zephyr might
be, it could not hold out at such a pace forever. The day after his
departure from Paris, he was left at Chartres, at the house of an old
friend D'Artagnan had met with in an hotelier of that city. From that
moment the musketeer travelled on post-horses. Thanks to this mode
of locomotion, he traversed the space separating Chartres from
Chateaubriand. In the last of these two cities, far enough from the
coast to prevent any one guessing that D'Artagnan wished to reach the
sea--far enough from Paris to prevent all suspicion of his being a
messenger from Louis XIV., whom D'Artagnan had called his sun, without
suspecting that he who was only at present a rather poor star in the
heaven of royalty, would, one day, make that star his emblem; the
messenger of Louis XIV., we say, quitted the post and purchased a bidet
of the meanest appearance,--one of those animals which an officer of
cavalry would never choose, for fear of being disgraced. Excepting
the color, this new acquisition recalled to the mind of D'Artagnan the
famous orange-colored horse, with which, or rather upon which, he had
made his first appearance in the world. Truth to say, from the moment
he crossed this new steed, it was no longer D'Artagnan who was
travelling,--it was a good man clothed in an iron-gray justaucorps,
brown haut-de-chausses, holding the medium between a priest and a
layman; that which brought him nearest to the churchman was, that
D'Artagnan had placed on his head a calotte of threadbare velvet, and
over the calotte, a large black hat; no more sword, a stick, hung by a
cord to his wrist, but to which, he promised himself, as an unexpected
auxiliary, to join, upon occasion, a good dagger, ten inches long,
concealed under his cloak. The bidet purchased at Chateaubriand
completed the metamorphosis; it was called, or rather D'Artagnan called
it, Furet (ferret).

"If I have changed Zephyr into Furet," said D'Artagnan, "I must make
some diminutive or other of my own name. So, instead of D'Artagnan, I
will be Agnan, short; that is a concession which I naturally owe to my
gray coat, my round hat, and my rusty calotte."

Monsieur D'Artagnan traveled, then, pretty easily upon Furet, who
ambled like a true butter-woman's pad, and who, with his amble, managed
cheerfully about twelve leagues a day, upon four spindle-shanks, of
which the practiced eye of D'Artagnan had appreciated the strength and
safety beneath the thick mass of hair which covered them. Jogging
along, the traveler took notes, studied the country, which he traversed
reserved and silent, ever seeking the most plausible pretext for
reaching Belle-Isle-en-Mer, and for seeing everything without arousing
suspicion. In this manner, he was enabled to convince himself of the
importance the event assumed in proportion as he drew near to it. In
this remote country, in this ancient duchy of Bretagne, which was not
France at that period, and is not so even now, the people knew nothing
of the king of France. They not only did not know him, but were
unwilling to know him. One face--a single one--floated visibly for them
upon the political current. Their ancient dukes no longer ruled them;
government was a void--nothing more. In place of the sovereign duke,
the seigneurs of parishes reigned without control; and, above these
seigneurs, God, who has never been forgotten in Bretagne. Among these
suzerains of chateaux and belfries, the most powerful, the richest, and
the most popular, was M. Fouquet, seigneur of Belle-Isle. Even in
the country, even within sight of that mysterious isle, legends and
traditions consecrate its wonders. Every one might not penetrate it: the
isle, of an extent of six leagues in length, and six in breadth, was
a seignorial property, which the people had for a long time respected,
covered as it was with the name of Retz, so redoubtable in the
country. Shortly after the erection of this seignory into a marquisate,
Belle-Isle passed to M. Fouquet. The celebrity of the isle did not date
from yesterday; its name, or rather its qualification, is traced back to
the remotest antiquity. The ancients called it Kalonese, from two Greek
words, signifying beautiful isle. Thus at a distance of eighteen hundred
years, it had borne, in another idiom, the same name it still bears.
There was, then, something in itself in this property of M. Fouquet's,
besides its position of six leagues off the coast of France; a position
which makes it a sovereign in its maritime solitude, like a majestic
ship which disdains roads, and proudly casts anchor in mid-ocean.

D'Artagnan learnt all this without appearing the least in the world
astonished. He also learnt that the best way to get intelligence was to
go to La Roche-Bernard, a tolerably important city at the mouth of
the Vilaine. Perhaps there he could embark; if not, crossing the
salt marshes, he would repair to Guerande-en-Croisic, to wait for an
opportunity to cross over to Belle-Isle. He had discovered, besides,
since his departure from Chateaubriand, that nothing would be impossible
for Furet under the impulsion of M. Agnan, and nothing to M. Agnan
through the initiative of Furet. He prepared, then, to sup off a teal
and a tourteau, in a hotel of La Roche-Bernard, and ordered to be
brought from the cellar, to wash down these two Breton dishes, some
cider, which, the moment it touched his lips, he perceived to be more
Breton still.



CHAPTER 67. How D'Artagnan became acquainted with a Poet, who had turned
Printer for the sake of printing his own Verses



Before taking his place at table, D'Artagnan acquired, as was his
custom, all the information he could; but it is an axiom of curiosity,
that every man who wishes to question well and fruitfully ought in the
first place to lay himself open to questions. D'Artagnan sought, then,
with his usual skill, a promising questioner in the hostelry of La
Roche-Bernard. At the moment, there were in the house, on the first
story, two travelers either preparing for supper, or at supper itself.
D'Artagnan had seen their nags in the stable, and their equipages in
the salle. One traveled with a lackey, undoubtedly a person of
consideration;--two Perche mares, sleek, sound beasts, were suitable
means of locomotion. The other, a little fellow, a traveler of meagre
appearance, wearing a dusty surtout, dirty linen, and boots more worn by
the pavement than the stirrup, had come from Nantes with a cart drawn
by a horse so like Furet in color, that D'Artagnan might have gone a
hundred miles without finding a better match. This cart contained divers
large packets wrapped in pieces of old stuff.

"That traveler yonder," said D'Artagnan to himself, "is the man for
my money. He will do, he suits me; I ought to do for and suit him; M.
Agnan, with the gray doublet and the rusty calotte, is not unworthy of
supping with the gentleman of the old boots and still older horse."

This said, D'Artagnan called the host, and desired him to send his
teal, tourteau, and cider up to the chamber of the gentleman of modest
exterior. He himself climbed, a plate in his hand, the wooden staircase
which led to the chamber, and began to knock at the door.

"Come in!" said the unknown. D'Artagnan entered, with a simper on his
lips, his plate under his arm, his hat in one hand, his candle in the
other.

"Excuse me, monsieur," said he, "I am, as you are, a traveler; I know no
one in the hotel, and I have the bad habit of losing my spirits when
I eat alone, so that my repast appears a bad one to me, and does not
nourish me. Your face, which I saw just now, when you came down to
have some oysters opened,--your face pleased me much. Besides, I have
observed you have a horse just like mine, and that the host, no doubt on
account of that resemblance, has placed them side by side in the
stable, where they appear to agree amazingly well together. I therefore,
monsieur, do not see any reason why the masters should be separated when
the horses are united. Accordingly, I am come to request the pleasure
of being admitted to your table. My name is Agnan, at your service,
monsieur, the unworthy steward of a rich seigneur, who wishes to
purchase some salt-mines in this country, and sends me to examine his
future acquisitions. In truth, monsieur, I should be well pleased if
my countenance were as agreeable to you as yours is to me; for, upon my
honor, I am quite at your service."

The stranger, whom D'Artagnan saw for the first time--for before he
had only caught a glimpse of him,--the stranger had black and brilliant
eyes, a yellow complexion, a brow a little wrinkled by the weight of
fifty years, bonhomie in his features collectively, but some cunning in
his look.

"One would say," thought D'Artagnan, "that this merry fellow has never
exercised more than the upper part of his head, his eyes, and his
brain. He must be a man of science: his mouth, nose, and chin signify
absolutely nothing."

"Monsieur," replied the latter, with whose mind and person we have been
making so free, "you do me much honor; not that I am ever ennuye, for I
have," added he, smiling, "a company which amuses me always; but never
mind that, I am very happy to receive you." But when saying this, the
man with the worn boots cast an uneasy look at his table, from which
the oysters had disappeared, and upon which there was nothing left but a
morsel of salt bacon.

"Monsieur," D'Artagnan hastened to say, "the host is bringing me up a
pretty piece of roasted poultry and a superb tourteau." D'Artagnan had
read in the look of his companion, however rapid it disappeared, the
fear of an attack by a parasite: he divined justly. At this opening,
the features of the man of modest exterior relaxed; and, as if he had
watched the moment for his entrance, as D'Artagnan spoke, the host
appeared, bearing the announced dishes. The tourteau and the teal were
added to the morsel of broiled bacon; D'Artagnan and his guest bowed,
sat down opposite to each other, and, like two brothers, shared the
bacon and the other dishes.

"Monsieur," said D'Artagnan, "you must confess that association is a
wonderful thing."

"How so?" replied the stranger, with his mouth full.

"Well, I will tell you," replied D'Artagnan.

The stranger gave a short truce to the movement of his jaws, in order to
hear the better.

"In the first place," continued D'Artagnan, "instead of one candle,
which each of us had, we have two."

"That is true!" said the stranger, struck with the extreme lucidity of
the observation.

"Then I see that you eat my tourteau in preference, whilst I, in
preference, eat your bacon."

"That is true again."

"And then, in addition to being better lighted and eating what we
prefer, I place the pleasure of your company."

"Truly, monsieur, you are very jovial," said the unknown, cheerfully.

"Yes, monsieur; jovial, as all people are who carry nothing on their
minds, or, for that matter, in their heads. Oh! I can see it is quite
another sort of thing with you," continued D'Artagnan; "I can read in
your eyes all sorts of genius."

"Oh, monsieur!"

"Come, confess one thing."

"What is that?"

"That you are a learned man."

"Ma foi! monsieur."

"Hein?"

"Almost."

"Come, then!"

"I am an author."

"There!" cried D'Artagnan, clapping his hands, "I knew I could not be
deceived! It is a miracle!"

"Monsieur----"

"What, shall I have the honor of passing the evening in the society of
an author, of a celebrated author perhaps?"

"Oh!" said the unknown, blushing, "celebrated, monsieur, celebrated is
not the word."

"Modest!" cried D'Artagnan, transported, "he is modest!" Then, turning
towards the stranger, with a character of blunt bonhomie: "But tell
me at least the name of your works, monsieur; for you will please to
observe you have not told me your name, and I have been forced to divine
your genius."

"My name is Jupenet, monsieur," said the author.

"A fine name! a grand name! upon my honor; and I do not know why--pardon
me the mistake, if it be one--but surely I have heard that name
somewhere."

"I have made verses," said the poet modestly.

"Ah! that is it, then, I have heard them read."

"A tragedy."

"I must have seen it played."

The poet blushed again, and said: "I do not think that can be the case,
for my verses have never been printed."

"Well, then, it must have been the tragedy which informed me of your
name."

"You are again mistaken, for MM. the comedians of the Hotel de
Bourgogne, would have nothing to do with it," said the poet, with a
smile, the receipt for which certain sorts of pride alone knew the
secret. D'Artagnan bit his lips. "Thus, then, you see, monsieur,"
continued the poet, "you are in error on my account, and that not being
at all known to you, you have never heard tell of me."

"Ah! that confounds me. That name, Jupenet, appears to me, nevertheless,
a fine name, and quite as worthy of being known as those of MM.
Corneille, or Rotrou, or Garnier. I hope, monsieur, you will have the
goodness to repeat to me a part of your tragedy presently, by way of
dessert, for instance. That will be sugared roast meat,--mordioux! Ah!
pardon me, monsieur, that was a little oath which escaped me, because
it is a habit with my lord and master. I sometimes allow myself to usurp
that little oath, as it seems in pretty good taste. I take this liberty
only in his absence, please to observe, for you may understand that in
his presence--but, in truth, monsieur, this cider is abominable; do you
not think so? And besides, the pot is of such an irregular shape it will
not stand on the table."

"Suppose we were to make it level?"

"To be sure; but with what?"

"With this knife."

"And the teal, with what shall we cut that up? Do you not, by chance,
mean to touch the teal?"

"Certainly."

"Well, then----"

"Wait."

And the poet rummaged in his pocket, and drew out a piece of brass,
oblong, quadrangular, about a line in thickness, and an inch and a half
in length. But scarcely had this little piece of brass seen the light,
than the poet appeared to have committed an imprudence, and made a
movement to put it back again in his pocket. D'Artagnan perceived this,
for he was a man that nothing escaped. He stretched forth his hand
towards the piece of brass: "Humph! that which you hold in your hand is
pretty; will you allow me to look at it?"

"Certainly," said the poet, who appeared to have yielded too soon to a
first impulse. "Certainly, you may look at it: but it will be in vain
for you to look at it," added he, with a satisfied air; "if I were not
to tell you its use, you would never guess it."

D'Artagnan had seized as an avowal the hesitation of the poet, and
his eagerness to conceal the piece of brass which a first movement had
induced him to take out of his pocket. His attention, therefore, once
awakened on this point, he surrounded himself with a circumspection
which gave him a superiority on all occasions. Besides, whatever M.
Jupenet might say about it, by a simple inspection of the object, he
perfectly well knew what it was. It was a character in printing.

"Can you guess, now, what this is?" continued the poet.

"No," said D'Artagnan, "no, ma foi!"

"Well, monsieur," said M. Jupenet, "this little piece of metal is a
printing letter."

"Bah!

"A capital."

"Stop, stop, stop;" said D'Artagnan, opening his eyes very innocently.

"Yes, monsieur, a capital; the first letter of my name."

"And this is a letter, is it?"

"Yes, monsieur."

"Well, I will confess one thing to you.

"And what is that?"

"No, I will not, I was going to say something stupid."

"No, no," said Master Jupenet, with a patronizing air.

"Well then, I cannot comprehend, if that is a letter, how you can make a
word."

"A word?"

"Yes, a printed word."

"Oh, that's very easy."

"Let me see."

"Does it interest you?"

"Enormously."

"Well, I will explain the thing to you. Attend."

"I am attending."

"That is it."

"Good."

"Look attentively."

"I am looking." D'Artagnan, in fact, appeared absorbed in observations.
Jupenet drew from his pocket seven or eight other pieces of brass
smaller than the first.

"Ah, ah," said D'Artagnan.

"What!"

"You have, then, a whole printing-office in your pocket. Peste! that is
curious, indeed."

"Is it not?"

"Good God, what a number of things we learn by traveling."

"To your health!" said Jupenet, quite enchanted.

"To yours, mordioux, to yours. But--an instant--not in this cider. It
is an abominable drink, unworthy of a man who quenches his thirst at the
Hippocrene fountain--is not it so you call your fountain, you poets?"

"Yes, monsieur, our fountain is so called. That comes from two Greek
words--hippos, which means a horse, and----"

"Monsieur," interrupted D'Artagnan, "you shall drink of a liquor which
comes from one single French word, and is none the worse for that--from
the word grape; this cider gives me the heartburn. Allow me to inquire
of your host if there is not a good bottle of Beaugency, or of the Ceran
growth, at the back of the large bins in his cellar."

The host, being sent for, immediately attended.

"Monsieur," interrupted the poet, "take care, we shall not have time to
drink the wine, unless we make great haste, for I must take advantage of
the tide to secure the boat."

"What boat?" asked D'Artagnan.

"Why the boat which sets out for Belle-Isle!"

"Ah--for Belle-Isle," said the musketeer, "that is good."

"Bah! you will have plenty of time, monsieur," replied the hotelier,
uncorking the bottle, "the boat will not leave this hour."

"But who will give me notice?" said the poet.

"Your fellow-traveler," replied the host.

"But I scarcely know him."

"When you hear him departing, it will be time for you to go."

"Is he going to Belle-Isle, likewise, then?"

"The traveler who has a lackey?" asked D'Artagnan. "He is some
gentleman, no doubt?"

"I know nothing of him."

"What!--know nothing of him?"

"No, all I know is, that he is drinking the same wine as you."

"Peste!--that is a great honor for us," said D'Artagnan, filling his
companion's glass, whilst the host went out.

"So," resumed the poet, returning to his dominant ideas, "you never saw
any printing done?"

"Never."

"Well, then, take the letters thus, which compose the word, you see:
A B; ma foi! here is an R, two E E, then a G." And he assembled the
letters with a swiftness and skill which did not escape the eye of
D'Artagnan.

"Abrege," said he, as he ended.

"Good!" said D'Artagnan; "here are plenty of letters got together; but
how are they kept so?" And he poured out a second glass for the poet.
M. Jupenet smiled like a man who has an answer for everything; then he
pulled out--still from his pocket--a little metal ruler, composed of two
parts, like a carpenter's rule, against which he put together, and in a
line, the characters, holding them under his left thumb.

"And what do you call that little metal ruler?" said D'Artagnan, "for, I
suppose, all these things have names."

"This is called a composing-stick," said Jupenet; "it is by the aid of
this stick that the lines are formed."

"Come, then, I was not mistaken in what I said; you have a press in your
pocket," said D'Artagnan, laughing with an air of simplicity so stupid,
that the poet was completely his dupe.

"No," replied he; "but I am too lazy to write, and when I have a verse
in my head, I print it immediately. That is a labor spared."

"Mordioux!" thought D'Artagnan to himself, "this must be cleared up."
And under a pretext, which did not embarrass the musketeer, who was
fertile in expedients, he left the table, went downstairs, ran to the
shed under which stood the poet's little cart, poked the point of his
poniard into the stuff which enveloped one of the packages, which he
found full of types, like those which the poet had in his pocket.

"Humph!" said D'Artagnan, "I do not yet know whether M. Fouquet wishes
to fortify Belle-Isle; but, at all events, here are some spiritual
munitions for the castle." Then, enchanted with his rich discovery he
ran upstairs again, and resumed his place at the table.

D'Artagnan had learnt what he wished to know. He, however, remained,
none the less, face to face with his partner, to the moment when they
heard from the next room symptoms of a person's being about to go out.
The printer was immediately on foot; he had given orders for his horse
to be got ready. His carriage was waiting at the door. The second
traveler got into his saddle, in the courtyard, with his lackey.
D'Artagnan followed Jupenet to the door; he embarked his cart and horse
on board the boat. As to the opulent traveler, he did the same with
his two horses and servant. But all the wit D'Artagnan employed in
endeavoring to find out his name was lost--he could learn nothing. Only
he took such notice of his countenance, that it was impressed upon his
mind forever. D'Artagnan had a great inclination to embark with the
two travelers, but an interest more powerful than curiosity--that of
success--repelled him from the shore, and brought him back again to the
hostelry. He entered with a sigh and went to bed directly in order to
be ready early in the morning with fresh ideas and the sage counsel of
sufficing sleep.



CHAPTER 68. D'Artagnan continues his Investigations



At daybreak D'Artagnan saddled Furet, who had fared sumptuously
all night, devouring the remainder of the oats and hay left by his
companions. The musketeer sifted all he possibly could out of the host,
whom he found cunning, mistrustful, and devoted, body and soul, to M.
Fouquet. In order not to awaken the suspicions of this man, he carried
on his fable of being a probable purchaser of some salt-mines. To have
embarked for Belle-Isle at Roche-Bernard would have been to expose
himself still further to comments which had, perhaps, been already made,
and would be carried to the castle. Moreover, it was singular that this
traveler and his lackey should have remained a mystery to D'Artagnan, in
spite of all the questions addressed by him to the host, who appeared
to know him perfectly well. The musketeer then made some inquiries
concerning the salt-mines, and took the road to the marshes, leaving
the sea on his right, and penetrating into that vast and desolate plain
which resembles a sea of mud, of which, here and there, a few crests
of salt silver the undulations. Furet walked admirably, with his
little nervous legs, along the foot-wide causeways which separate the
salt-mines. D'Artagnan, aware of the consequences of a fall, which would
result in a cold bath, allowed him to go as he liked, contenting
himself with looking at, on the horizon, three rocks, that rose up like
lance-blades from the bosom of the plain, destitute of verdure. Pirial,
the bourgs of Batz and Le Croisic, exactly resembling each other,
attracted and suspended his attention. If the traveler turned round, the
better to make his observations, he saw on the other side an horizon of
three other steeples, Guerande, Le Poulighen, and Saint-Joachim, which,
in their circumference, represented a set of skittles, of which he and
Furet were but the wandering ball. Pirial was the first little port on
his right. He went thither, with the names of the principal salters on
his lips. At the moment he reached the little port of Pirial, five
large barges, laden with stone, were leaving it. It appeared strange
to D'Artagnan, that stones should be leaving a country where none are
found. He had recourse to all the amenity of M. Agnan to learn from
the people of the port the cause of this singular arrangement. An old
fisherman replied to M. Agnan, that the stones very certainly did not
come from Pirial or the marshes.

"Where do they come from, then?" asked the musketeer.

"Monsieur, they come from Nantes and Painboeuf."

"Where are they going, then?"

"Monsieur, to Belle-Isle."

"Ah! ah!" said D'Artagnan, in the same tone he had assumed to tell
the printer that his character interested him; "are they building at
Belle-Isle, then?"

"Why, yes, monsieur, M. Fouquet has the walls of the castle repaired
every year."

"Is it in ruins, then?"

"It is old."

"Thank you."

"The fact is," said D'Artagnan to himself, "nothing is more natural;
every proprietor has a right to repair his own property. It would be
like telling me I was fortifying the Image-de-Notre-Dame, when I was
simply obliged to make repairs. In good truth, I believe false reports
have been made to his majesty, and he is very likely to be in the
wrong."

"You must confess," continued he then, aloud, and addressing the
fisherman--for his part of a suspicious man was imposed upon him by the
object even of his mission--"you must confess, my dear monsieur, that
these stones travel in a very curious fashion."

"How so?" said the fisherman

"They come from Nantes or Painboeuf by the Loire, do they not?"

"With the tide."

"That is convenient,--I don't say it is not, but why do they not go
straight from Saint-Nazaire to Belle-Isle?"

"Eh! because the chalands (barges) are fresh-water boats, and take the
sea badly," replied, the fisherman.

"That is not sufficient reason."

"Pardon me, monsieur, one may see that you have never been a sailor,
added the fisherman, not without a sort of disdain.

"Explain that to me, if you please, my good man. It appears to me that
to come from Painboeuf to Pirial, and go from Pirial to Belle-Isle, is
as if we went from Roche-Bernard to Nantes, and from Nantes to Pirial."

"By water that would be the nearest way," replied the fisherman
imperturbably.

"But there is an elbow?"

The fisherman shook his head.

"The shortest road from one place to another is a straight line,"
continued D'Artagnan.

"You forget the tide, monsieur."

"Well! take the tide."

"And the wind."

"Well, and the wind."

"Without doubt, the current of the Loire carries barks almost as far as
Croisic. If they want to lie by a little, or to refresh the crew, they
come to Pirial along the coast; from Pirial they find another inverse
current, which carries them to the Isle-Dumal, two leagues and a half."

"Granted."

"There the current of the Vilaine throws them upon another isle, the
isle of Hoedic."

"I agree with that."

"Well, monsieur, from that isle to Belle-Isle the way is quite straight.
The sea broken both above and below, passes like a canal--like a mirror
between the two isles; the chalands glide along upon it like ducks upon
the Loire; that's how it is."

"It does not signify," said the obstinate M. Agnan; "it is a long way
round."

"Ah! yes; but M. Fouquet will have it so," replied, as conclusive,
the fisherman, taking off his woolen cap at the enunciation of that
respected name.

A look from D'Artagnan, a look as keen and piercing as a sword-blade,
found nothing in the heart of the old man but simple confidence--on
his features, nothing but satisfaction and indifference. He said, "M.
Fouquet will have it so," as he would have said, "God has willed it."

D'Artagnan had already advanced too far in this direction; besides,
the chalands being gone, there remained nothing at Pirial but a single
bark--that of the old man, and it did not look fit for sea without great
preparation. D'Artagnan therefore patted Furet, who as a new proof
of his charming character, resumed his march with his feet in the
salt-mines, and his nose to the dry wind, which bends the furze and the
broom of this country. They reached Croisic about five o'clock.

If D'Artagnan had been a poet, it was a beautiful spectacle: the immense
strand of a league or more, the sea covers at high tide, and which, at
the reflux, appears gray and desolate, strewed with polypi and seaweed,
with pebbles sparse and white, like bones in some vast old cemetery. But
the soldier, the politician, and the ambitious man, had no longer the
sweet consolation of looking towards heaven to read there a hope or
a warning. A red sky signifies nothing to such people but wind and
disturbance. White and fleecy clouds upon the azure only say that the
sea will be smooth and peaceful. D'Artagnan found the sky blue, the
breeze embalmed with saline perfumes, and he said: "I will embark with
the first tide, if it be but in a nutshell."

At Croisic as at Pirial, he had remarked enormous heaps of stone lying
along the shore. These gigantic walls, diminished every tide by
the barges for Belle-Isle were, in the eyes of the musketeer, the
consequence and the proof of what he had well divined at Pirial. Was it
a wall that M. Fouquet was constructing? Was it a fortification that
he was erecting? To ascertain that he must make fuller observations.
D'Artagnan put Furet into a stable; supped, went to bed, and on the
morrow took a walk upon the port or rather upon the shingle. Le Croisic
has a port of fifty feet, it has a look-out which resembles an enormous
brioche (a kind of cake) elevated on a dish. The flat strand is the
dish. Hundreds of barrowsful of earth amalgamated with pebbles, and
rounded into cones, with sinuous passages between, are look-outs and
brioches at the same time.

It is so now, and it was so two hundred years ago, only the brioche was
not so large, and probably there were to be seen no trellises of
lath around the brioche, which constitute an ornament, planted like
gardes-fous along the passages that wind towards the little terrace.
Upon the shingle lounged three or four fishermen talking about sardines
and shrimps. D'Artagnan, with his eyes animated by rough gayety, and a
smile upon his lips, approached these fishermen.

"Any fishing going on to-day?" said he.

"Yes, monsieur," replied one of them, "we are only waiting for the
tide."

"Where do you fish, my friends?"

"Upon the coasts, monsieur."

"Which are the best coasts?"

"Ah, that is all according. The tour of the isles, for example?"

"Yes, but they are a long way off, those isles, are they not?"

"Not very; four leagues."

"Four leagues! That is a voyage."

The fisherman laughed in M. Agnan's face.

"Hear me, then," said the latter with an air of simple stupidity; four
leagues off you lose sight of land, do you not?"

"Why, not always."

"Ah, it is a long way--too long, or else I would have asked you to take
me aboard, and to show me what I have never seen."

"What is that?"

"A live sea-fish."

"Monsieur comes from the province?" said a fisherman.

"Yes, I come from Paris."

The Breton shrugged his shoulders; then:

"Have you ever seen M. Fouquet in Paris?" asked he.

"Often," replied D'Artagnan.

"Often!" repeated the fishermen, closing their circle round the
Parisian. "Do you know him?"

"A little, he is the intimate friend of my master."

"Ah!" said the fisherman, in astonishment.

"And," said D'Artagnan, "I have seen all his chateaux of Saint-Mande, of
Vaux, and his hotel in Paris."

"Is that a fine place?"

"Superb."

"It is not so fine a place as Belle-Isle," said the fisherman.

"Bah!" cried M. d'Artagnan, breaking into a laugh so loud that he
angered all his auditors.

"It is very plain that you have never seen Belle-Isle," said the most
curious of the fishermen. "Do you know that there are six leagues of
it, and that there are such trees on it as cannot be equaled even at
Nantes-sur-le-Fosse?"

"Trees in the sea!" cried D'Artagnan; "well, I should like to see them."

"That can be easily done; we are fishing at the Isle de Hoedic--come
with us. From that place you will see, as a Paradise, the black trees of
Belle-Isle against the sky; you will see the white line of the castle,
which cuts the horizon of the sea like a blade."

"Oh," said D'Artagnan, "that must be very beautiful. But do you know
there are a hundred belfries at M. Fouquet's chateau of Vaux?"

The Breton raised his head in profound admiration, but he was not
convinced. "A hundred belfries! Ah that may be, but Belle-Isle is finer
than that. Should you like to see Belle-Isle?"

"Is that possible?" asked D'Artagnan.

"Yes, with permission of the governor."

"But I do not know the governor."

"As you know M. Fouquet, you can tell your name."

"Oh, my friends, I am not a gentleman."

"Everybody enters Belle-Isle," continued the fisherman in his strong,
pure language, "provided he means no harm to Belle-Isle or its master."

A slight shudder crept over the body of the musketeer.

"That is true," thought he. Then recovering himself, "If I were sure,"
said he, "not to be sea-sick."

"What, upon her?" said the fisherman, pointing with pride to his pretty
round-bottomed bark.

"Well, you almost persuade me," cried M. Agnan; "I will go and see
Belle-Isle, but they will not admit me."

"We shall enter, safe enough."

"You! What for?"

"Why, dame! to sell fish to the corsairs."

"Ha! Corsairs--what do you mean?"

"Well, I mean that M. Fouquet is having two corsairs built to chase the
Dutch and the English, and we sell our fish to the crews of those little
vessels."

"Come, come!" said D'Artagnan to himself--"better and better. A
printing-press, bastions, and corsairs! Well, M. Fouquet is not an
enemy to be despised, as I presumed to fancy. He is worth the trouble of
traveling to see him nearer."

"We set out at half-past five," said the fisherman gravely.

"I am quite ready, and I will not leave you now." So D'Artagnan saw the
fishermen haul their barks to meet the tide with a windlass. The sea
rose, M. Agnan allowed himself to be hoisted on board, not without
sporting a little fear and awkwardness, to the amusement of the young
beach-urchins who watched him with their large intelligent eyes. He laid
himself down upon a folded sail, not interfering with anything whilst
the bark prepared for sea; and, with its large, square sail, it was
fairly out within two hours. The fishermen, who prosecuted their
occupation as they proceeded, did not perceive that their passenger had
not become pale, neither groaned nor suffered; that in spite of that
horrible tossing and rolling of the bark, to which no hand imparted
direction, the novice passenger had preserved his presence of mind and
his appetite. They fished, and their fishing was sufficiently fortunate.
To lines bated with prawn, soles came, with numerous gambols, to bite.
Two nets had already been broken by the immense weight of congers and
haddocks; three sea-eels plowed the hold with their slimy folds and
their dying contortions. D'Artagnan brought them good luck; they told
him so. The soldier found the occupation so pleasant, that he put his
hand to the work--that is to say, to the lines--and uttered roars of
joy, and mordioux enough to have astonished his musketeers themselves
every time that a shock given to his line by the captured fish required
the play of the muscles of his arm, and the employment of his best
dexterity. The party of pleasure had made him forget his diplomatic
mission. He was struggling with a very large conger, and holding fast
with one hand to the side of the vessel, in order to seize with the
other the gaping jowl of his antagonist, when the master said to him,
"Take care they don't see you from Belle-Isle!"

These words produced the same effect upon D'Artagnan as the hissing of
the first bullet on a day of battle; he let go of both line and conger,
which, dragging each other, returned again to the water. D'Artagnan
perceived, within half a league at most, the blue and marked profile
of the rocks of Belle-Isle, dominated by the majestic whiteness of the
castle. In the distance, the land with its forests and verdant plains;
cattle on the grass. This was what first attracted the attention of
the musketeer. The sun darted its rays of gold upon the sea, raising
a shining mist round this enchanted isle. Little could be seen of it,
owing to this dazzling light, but the salient points; every shadow was
strongly marked, and cut with bands of darkness the luminous fields and
walls. "Eh! eh!" said D'Artagnan, at the aspect of those masses of
black rocks, "these are fortifications which do not stand in need of any
engineer to render a landing difficult. How the devil can a landing be
effected on that isle which God has defended so completely?"

"This way," replied the patron of the bark, changing the sail, and
impressing upon the rudder a twist which turned the boat in the
direction of a pretty little port, quite coquettish, round, and newly
battlemented.

"What the devil do I see yonder?" said D'Artagnan.

"You see Leomaria," replied the fisherman.

"Well, but there?"

"That is Bragos."

"And further on?"

"Sanger, and then the palace."

"Mordioux! It is a world. Ah! there are some soldiers."

"There are seventeen hundred men in Belle-Isle, monsieur," replied the
fisherman, proudly. "Do you know that the least garrison is of twenty
companies of infantry?"

"Mordioux!" cried D'Artagnan, stamping with his foot. "His Majesty was
right enough."

They landed.



CHAPTER 69. In which the Reader, no doubt, will be as astonished as
D'Artagnan was to meet an Old Acquaintance



There is always something in a landing, if it be only from the smallest
sea-boat--a trouble and a confusion which do not leave the mind the
liberty of which it stands in need in order to study at the first glance
the new locality presented to it. The movable bridges, the agitated
sailors, the noise of the water on the pebbles, the cries and
importunities of those who wait upon the shores, are multiplied details
of that sensation which is summed up in one single result--hesitation.
It was not, then, till after standing several minutes on the shore that
D'Artagnan saw upon the port, but more particularly in the interior of
the isle, an immense number of workmen in motion. At his feet D'Artagnan
recognized the five chalands laden with rough stone he had seen leave
the port of Pirial. The smaller stones were transported to the shore
by means of a chain formed by twenty-five or thirty peasants. The large
stones were loaded on trollies which conveyed them in the same direction
as the others, that is to say, towards the works of which D'Artagnan
could as yet appreciate neither the strength nor the extent. Everywhere
was to be seen an activity equal to that which Telemachus observed
on his landing at Salentum. D'Artagnan felt a strong inclination to
penetrate into the interior; but he could not, under the penalty of
exciting mistrust, exhibit too much curiosity. He advanced then little
by little, scarcely going beyond the line formed by the fishermen on the
beach, observing everything, saying nothing, and meeting all suspicion
that might have been excited with a half-silly question or a polite bow.
And yet, whilst his companions carried on their trade, giving or selling
their fish to the workmen or the inhabitants of the city, D'Artagnan had
gained ground by degrees, and, reassured by the little attention paid to
him, he began to cast an intelligent and confident look upon the men and
things that appeared before his eyes. And his very first glance fell on
certain movements of earth about which the eye of a soldier could not be
mistaken. At the two extremities of the port, in order that their fires
should converge upon the great axis of the ellipsis formed by the basin,
in the first place, two batteries had been raised, evidently destined
to receive flank pieces, for D'Artagnan saw the workmen finishing the
platform and making ready the demi-circumference in wood upon which
the wheels of the pieces might turn to embrace every direction over the
epaulement. By the side of each of these batteries other workmen were
strengthening gabions filled with earth, the lining of another battery.
The latter had embrasures, and the overseer of the works called
successively men who, with cords, tied the saucissons and cut the
lozenges and right angles of turfs destined to retain the matting of
the embrasures. By the activity displayed in these works, already so
far advanced, they might be considered as finished: they were not yet
furnished with their cannons, but the platforms had their gites
and their madriers all prepared; the earth, beaten carefully, was
consolidated; and supposing the artillery to be on the island, in less
than two or three days the port might be completely armed. That which
astonished D'Artagnan, when he turned his eyes from the coast batteries
to the fortifications of the city, was to see that Belle-Isle was
defended by an entirely new system, of which he had often heard the
Comte de la Fere speak as a wonderful advance, but of which he had as
yet never seen the application. These fortifications belonged neither to
the Dutch method of Marollais, nor to the French method of the Chevalier
Antoine de Ville, but to the system of Manesson Mallet, a skillful
engineer, who about six or eight years previously had quitted the
service of Portugal to enter that of France. The works had this
peculiarity, that instead of rising above the earth, as did the
ancient ramparts destined to defend a city from escalades, they, on the
contrary, sank into it; and what created the height of the walls was the
depth of the ditches. It did not take long to make D'Artagnan perceive
the superiority of such a system, which gives no advantage to cannon.
Besides, as the fosses were lower than, or on a level with the sea,
these fosses could be instantly inundated by means of subterranean
sluices. Otherwise, the works were almost complete, and a group of
workmen, receiving orders from a man who appeared to be conductor of
the works, were occupied in placing the last stones. A bridge of planks
thrown over the fosses for the greater convenience of the maneuvers
connected with the barrows, joined the interior to the exterior. With
an air of simple curiosity D'Artagnan asked if he might be permitted
to cross the bridge, and he was told that no order prevented it.
Consequently he crossed the bridge, and advanced towards the group.

This group was superintended by the man whom D'Artagnan had already
remarked, and who appeared to be the engineer-in-chief. A plan was lying
open before him upon a large stone forming a table, and at some paces
from him a crane was in action. This engineer, who by his evident
importance first attracted the attention of D'Artagnan, wore a
justaucorps, which, from its sumptuousness was scarcely in harmony with
the work he was employed in, that rather necessitated the costume of a
master-mason than of a noble. He was a man of immense stature and great
square shoulders, and wore a hat covered with feathers. He gesticulated
in the most majestic manner, and appeared, for D'Artagnan only saw
his back, to be scolding the workmen for their idleness and want of
strength.

D'Artagnan continued to draw nearer. At that moment the man with the
feathers ceased to gesticulate, and, with his hands placed upon his
knees, was following, half-bent, the effort of six workmen to raise a
block of hewn stone to the top of a piece of timber destined to support
that stone, so that the cord of the crane might be passed under it. The
six men, all on one side of the stone, united their efforts to raise it
to eight or ten inches from the ground, sweating and blowing, whilst a
seventh got ready against there should be daylight enough beneath it to
slide in the roller that was to support it. But the stone had already
twice escaped from their hands before gaining a sufficient height for
the roller to be introduced. There can be no doubt that every time the
stone escaped them, they bounded quickly backwards, to keep their
feet from being crushed by the refalling stone. Every time, the stone,
abandoned by them, sunk deeper into the damp earth, which rendered the
operation more and more difficult. A third effort was followed by no
better success, but with progressive discouragement. And yet, when
the six men were bent towards the stone, the man with the feathers had
himself, with a powerful voice, given the word of command, "Ferme!"
which regulates maneuvers of strength. Then he drew himself up.

"Oh! oh!" said he, "what is all this about? Have I to do with men of
straw? Corne de boeuf! stand on one side, and you shall see how this is
to be done."

"Peste!" said D'Artagnan, "will he pretend to raise that rock? that
would be a sight worth looking at."

The workmen, as commanded by the engineer, drew back with their ears
down, and shaking their heads, with the exception of the one who held
the plank, who prepared to perform the office. The man with the feathers
went up to the stone, stooped, slipped his hands under the face lying
upon the ground, stiffened his Herculean muscles, and without a strain,
with a slow motion, like that of a machine, he lifted the end of the
rock a foot from the ground. The workman who held the plank profited by
the space thus given him, and slipped the roller under the stone.

"That's the way," said the giant, not letting the rock fall again, but
placing it upon its support.

"Mordioux!" cried D'Artagnan, "I know but one man capable of such a feat
of strength."

"Hein!" cried the colossus, turning round.

"Porthos!" murmured D'Artagnan, seized with stupor, "Porthos at
Belle-Isle!"

On his part, the man with the feathers fixed his eyes upon the disguised
lieutenant, and, in spite of his metamorphosis, recognized him.
"D'Artagnan!" cried he; and the color mounted to his face. "Hush!" said
he to D'Artagnan.

"Hush!" in his turn, said the musketeer. In fact if Porthos had just
been discovered by D'Artagnan, D'Artagnan had just been discovered by
Porthos. The interest of the particular secret of each struck them both
at the same instant. Nevertheless the first movement of the two men was
to throw their arms around each other. What they wished to conceal from
the bystanders, was not their friendship, but their names. But, after
the embrace, came reflection.

"What the devil brings Porthos to Belle-Isle, lifting stones?" said
D'Artagnan; only D'Artagnan uttered that question in a low voice. Less
strong in diplomacy than his friend, Porthos thought aloud.

"How the devil did you come to Belle-Isle?" asked he of D'Artagnan;
"and what do you want to do here?" It was necessary to reply without
hesitation. To hesitate in his answer to Porthos would have been a
check, for which the self-love of D'Artagnan would never have consoled
itself.

"Pardieu! my friend, I am at Belle-Isle because you are."

"Ah, bah!" said Porthos, visibly stupefied with the argument, and
seeking to account for it to himself, with the felicity of deduction we
know to be peculiar to him.

"Without doubt," continued D'Artagnan, unwilling to give his friend time
to recollect himself, "I have been to see you at Pierrefonds."

"Indeed!"

"Yes."

"And you did not find me there?"

"No, but I found Mouston."

"Is he well?"

"Peste!"

"Well, but Mouston did not tell you I was here."

"Why should he not Have I, perchance, deserved to lose his confidence?"

"No, but he did not know it."

"Well; that is a reason at least that does not offend my self-love."

"Then how did you manage to find me?"

"My dear friend, a great noble like you always leaves traces behind him
on his passage; and I should think but poorly of myself, if I were not
sharp enough to follow the traces of my friends." This explanation,
flattering as it was, did not entirely satisfy Porthos.

"But I left no traces behind me, for I came here disguised," said
Porthos.

"Ah! You came disguised did you?" said D'Artagnan.

"Yes."

"And how?"

"As a miller."

"And do you think a great noble, like you, Porthos, can affect common
manners so as to deceive people?"

"Well, I swear to you, my friend, that I played my part so well that
everybody was deceived."

"Indeed! so well, that I have not discovered and joined you?"

"Yes; but how did you discover and join me?"

"Stop a bit. I was going to tell you how. Do you imagine Mouston----"

"Ah! it was that fellow, Mouston," said Porthos, gathering up those two
triumphant arches which served him for eyebrows.

"But stop, I tell you--it was no fault of Mouston's because he was
ignorant of where you were."

"I know he was; and that is why I am in such haste to understand----"

"Oh! how impatient you are, Porthos."

"When I do not comprehend, I am terrible."

"Well, you will understand. Aramis wrote to you at Pierrefonds, did he
not?"

"Yes."

"And he told you to come before the equinox."

"That is true."

"Well! that is it," said D'Artagnan, hoping that this reason would
mystify Porthos. Porthos appeared to give himself up to a violent mental
labor.

"Yes, yes," said he, "I understand. As Aramis told me to come before
the equinox, you have understood that that was to join him. You then
inquired where Aramis was, saying to yourself, 'Where Aramis is, there
Porthos will be.' You have learnt that Aramis was in Bretagne, and you
said to yourself, 'Porthos is in Bretagne.'"

"Exactly. In good truth, Porthos I cannot tell why you have not turned
conjurer. So you understand that arriving at Roche-Bernard, I heard of
the splendid fortifications going on at Belle-Isle. The account raised
my curiosity, I embarked in a fishing boat, without dreaming that you
were here: I came, and I saw a monstrous fine fellow lifting a stone
Ajax could not have stirred. I cried out, 'Nobody but the Baron de
Bracieux could have performed such a feat of strength.' You heard me,
you turned round, you recognized me, we embraced; and, ma foi! if you
like, my dear friend, we will embrace again."

"Ah! now all is explained," said Porthos; and he embraced D'Artagnan
with so much friendship as to deprive the musketeer of his breath for
five minutes.

"Why, you are stronger than ever," said D'Artagnan, "and still, happily,
in your arms." Porthos saluted D'Artagnan with a gracious smile. During
the five minutes D'Artagnan was recovering his breath, he reflected that
he had a very difficult part to play. It was necessary that he always
should question and never reply. By the time his respiration returned,
he had fixed his plans for the campaign.



CHAPTER 70. Wherein the Ideas of D'Artagnan, at first strangely clouded,
begin to clear up a little.



D'Artagnan immediately took the offensive. "Now that I have told you all,
dear friend, or rather now you have guessed all, tell me what you are
doing here, covered with dust and mud?"

Porthos wiped his brow, and looked around him with pride. "Why, it
appears," said he, "that you may see what I am doing here."

"No doubt, no doubt, you lift great stones."

"Oh! to show these idle fellows what a man is," said Porthos, with
contempt. "But you understand----"

"Yes, that it is not your place to lift stones, although there are many
whose place it is, who cannot lift them as you do. It was that which
made me ask you, just now, What are you doing here, baron?"

"I am studying topography, chevalier."

"You are studying topography?"

"Yes; but you--what are you doing in that common dress?"

D'Artagnan perceived he had committed a fault in giving expression to
his astonishment. Porthos had taken advantage of it, to retort with a
question. "Why," said he, "you know I am a bourgeois, in fact; my
dress, then, has nothing astonishing in it, since it conforms with my
condition."

"Nonsense! you are a musketeer."

"You are wrong, my friend; I have given in my resignation."

"Bah!"

"Oh, mon Dieu! yes."

"And have you abandoned the service?"

"I have quitted it."

"You have abandoned the king?"

"Quite."

Porthos raised his arms towards heaven, like a man who has heard
extraordinary news. "Well, that does confound me," said he.

"It is nevertheless true."

"And what led you to form such a resolution?"

"The king displeased me. Mazarin had disgusted me for a long time, as
you know; so I threw my cassock to the nettles."

"But Mazarin is dead."

"I know that well enough, parbleu! Only, at the period of his death,
my resignation had been given in and accepted two months. Then, feeling
myself free, I set off for Pierrefonds, to see my friend Porthos. I
had heard talk of the happy division you had made of your time, and I
wished, for a fortnight, to divide mine after your fashion."

"My friend, you know that it is not for a fortnight my house is open to
you; it is for a year--for ten years--for life."

"Thank you, Porthos."

"Ah! but perhaps you want money--do you?" said Porthos, making something
like fifty louis chink in his pocket. "In that case, you know----"

"No, thank you, I am not in want of anything. I placed my savings with
Planchet, who pays me the interest of them."

"Your savings?"

"Yes, to be sure," said D'Artagnan: "why should I not put by my savings,
as well as another, Porthos?"

"Oh, there is no reason why; on the contrary, I always suspected
you--that is to say, Aramis always suspected you to have savings. For
my own part, d'ye see, I take no concern about the management of my
household; but I presume the savings of a musketeer must be small."

"No doubt, relative to yourself, Porthos, who are a millionaire; but you
shall judge. I had laid by twenty-five thousand livres."

"That's pretty well," said Porthos, with an affable air.

"And," continued D'Artagnan, "on the twenty-eighth of last month I added
to it two hundred thousand livres more."

Porthos opened his large eyes, which eloquently demanded of the
musketeer, "Where the devil did you steal such a sum as that, my dear
friend?" "Two hundred thousand livres!" cried he, at length.

"Yes; which, with the twenty-five I had, and twenty thousand I have
about me, complete the sum of two hundred and forty-five thousand
livres."

"But tell me, whence comes this fortune?"

"I will tell you all about it presently, dear friend; but as you have,
in the first place, many things to tell me yourself, let us have my
recital in its proper order."

"Bravo!" said Porthos, "then we are both rich. But what can I have to
relate to you?"

"You have to relate to me how Aramis came to be named----"

"Ah! bishop of Vannes."

"That's it," said D'Artagnan, "bishop of Vannes. Dear Aramis! do you
know how he succeeded so well?"

"Yes, yes; without reckoning that he does not mean to stop there."

"What! do you mean he will not be contented with violet stockings, and
that he wants a red hat?"

"Hush! that is promised him."

"Bah! by the king?"

"By somebody more powerful than the king."

"Ah! the devil! Porthos: what incredible things you tell me, my friend!"

"Why incredible? Is there not always somebody in France more powerful
than the king?"

"Oh, yes; in the time of King Louis XIII. it was Cardinal Richelieu; in
the time of the Regency it was Cardinal Mazarin. In the time of Louis
XIV. it is M.----"

"Go on."

"It is M. Fouquet."

"Jove! you have hit it the first time."

"So, then, I suppose it is M. Fouquet who has promised Aramis the red
hat?"

Porthos assumed an air of reserve. "Dear friend," said he, "God preserve
me from meddling with the affairs of others, above all from revealing
secrets it may be to their interest to keep. When you see Aramis, he
will tell you all he thinks he ought to tell you."

"You are right, Porthos; and you are quite a padlock for safety. But, to
revert to yourself?"

"Yes," said Porthos.

"You said just now you came hither to study topography?"

"I did so."

"Tudieu! my friend, what fine things you will do!"

"How do you mean?"

"Why, these fortifications are admirable."

"Is that your opinion?"

"Decidedly it is. In truth, to anything but a regular siege, Belle-Isle
is absolutely impregnable."

Porthos rubbed his hands. "That is my opinion," said he.

"But who the devil has fortified this paltry little place in this
manner?"

Porthos drew himself up proudly: "Did not I tell you who?"

"No."

"Do you not suspect?"

"No; all I can say is that he is a man who has studied all the systems,
and who appears to me to have stopped at the best."

"Hush!" said Porthos; "consider my modesty, my dear D'Artagnan."

"In truth," replied the musketeer, "can it be you--who--oh!"

"Pray--my dear friend----"

"You who have imagined, traced, and combined between these bastions,
these redans, these curtains, these half-moons; and are preparing that
covered way?"

"I beg you----"

"You who have built that lunette with its retiring angles and its
salient angles?"

"My friend----"

"You who have given that inclination to the openings of your embrasures,
by means of which you so effectively protect the men who serve the
guns?"

"Eh! mon Dieu! yes."

"Oh! Porthos, Porthos! I must bow down before you--I must admire you!
But you have always concealed from us this superb, this incomparable
genius. I hope, my dear friend, you will show me all this in detail."

"Nothing more easy. Here lies my original sketch, my plan."

"Show it me." Porthos led D'Artagnan towards the stone that served him
for a table, and upon which the plan was spread. At the foot of the plan
was written, in the formidable writing of Porthos, writing of which we
have already had occasion to speak:--

"Instead of making use of the square or rectangle, as has been done to
this time, you will suppose your place inclosed in a regular hexagon,
this polygon having the advantage of offering more angles than the
quadrilateral one. Every side of your hexagon, of which you will
determine the length in proportion to the dimensions taken upon the
place, will be divided into two parts and upon the middle point you will
elevate a perpendicular towards the center of the polygon, which will
equal in length the sixth part of the side. By the extremities of each
side of the polygon, you will trace two diagonals, which will cut the
perpendicular. These will form the precise lines of your defense."

"The devil!" said D'Artagnan, stopping at this point of the
demonstration; "why, this is a complete system, Porthos."

"Entirely," said Porthos. "Continue."

"No; I have read enough of it; but, since it is you, my dear Porthos,
who direct the works, what need have you of setting down your system so
formally in writing?"

"Oh! my dear friend, death!"

"How! death?"

"Why, we are all mortal, are we not?"

"That is true," said D'Artagnan; "you have a reply for everything, my
friend." And he replaced the plan upon the stone.

But however short the time he had the plan in his hands, D'Artagnan had
been able to distinguish, under the enormous writing of Porthos, a
much more delicate hand, which reminded him of certain letters to
Marie Michon, with which he had been acquainted in his youth. Only the
India-rubber had passed and repassed so often over this writing that it
might have escaped a less practiced eye than that of our musketeer.

"Bravo! my friend, bravo!" said D'Artagnan.

"And now you know all that you want to know, do you not?" said Porthos,
wheeling about.

"Mordioux! yes, only do me one last favor, dear friend!"

"Speak, I am master here."

"Do me the pleasure to tell me the name of that gentleman who is walking
yonder."

"Where, there?"

"Behind the soldiers."

"Followed by a lackey?"

"Exactly."

"In company with a mean sort of a fellow, dressed in black?"

"Yes, I mean him."

"That is M. Getard."

"And who is Getard, my friend?"

"He is the architect of the house."

"Of what house?"

"Of M. Fouquet's house."

"Ah! ah!" cried D'Artagnan, "you are of the household of M. Fouquet,
then, Porthos?"

"I! what do you mean by that?" said the topographer, blushing to the top
of his ears.

"Why, you say the house, when speaking of Belle-Isle, as if you were
speaking of the chateau of Pierrefonds."

Porthos bit his lips. "Belle-Isle, my friend," said he, "belongs to M.
Fouquet, does it not?"

"Yes, I believe so."

"As Pierrefonds belongs to me?"

"I told you I believed so; there are no two words to that."

"Did you ever see a man there who is accustomed to walk about with a
ruler in his hand?"

"No; but I might have seen him there, if he really walked there."

"Well, that gentleman is M. Boulingrin."

"Who is M. Boulingrin?"

"Now, we are coming to it. If, when this gentleman is walking with a
ruler in his hand, any one should ask me,--'Who is M. Boulingrin?' I
should reply: 'He is the architect of the house.' Well! M. Getard is
the Boulingrin of M. Fouquet. But he has nothing to do with the
fortifications, which are my department alone; do you understand? mine,
absolutely mine."

"Ah! Porthos," cried D'Artagnan, letting his arms fall as a conquered
man gives up his sword; "ah! my friend, you are not only a herculean
topographer, you are, still further, a dialectician of the first water."

"Is it not powerfully reasoned?" said Porthos: and he puffed and blew
like the conger which D'Artagnan had let slip from his hand.

"And now," said D'Artagnan, "that shabby-looking man, who accompanies M.
Getard, is he also of the household of M. Fouquet?"

"Oh! yes," said Porthos, with contempt; "it is one M. Jupenet, or
Juponet, a sort of poet."

"Who is come to establish himself here?"

"I believe so."

"I thought M. Fouquet had poets enough, yonder--Scudery, Loret,
Pellisson, La Fontaine? If I must tell you the truth, Porthos, that poet
disgraces you."

"Eh!--my friend; but what saves us is that he is not here as a poet."

"As what, then, is he?"

"As printer. And you make me remember, I have a word to say to the
cuistre."

"Say it, then."

Porthos made a sign to Jupenet, who perfectly recollected D'Artagnan,
and did not care to come nearer; which naturally produced another sign
from Porthos. This was so imperative, he was obliged to obey. As he
approached, "Come hither!" said Porthos. "You only landed yesterday and
you have begun your tricks already."

"How so, monsieur le baron?" asked Jupenet, trembling.

"Your press was groaning all night, monsieur," said Porthos, "and you
prevented my sleeping, corne de boeuf!"

"Monsieur----" objected Jupenet, timidly.

"You have nothing yet to print: therefore you have no occasion to set
your press going. What did you print last night?"

"Monsieur, a light poem of my own composition."

"Light! no, no, monsieur; the press groaned pitifully beneath it. Let it
not happen again. Do you understand?"

"Yes, monsieur."

"You promise me?"

"I do, monsieur!"

"Very well; this time I pardon you. Adieu!"

"Well, now we have combed that fellow's head, let us breakfast."

"Yes," replied D'Artagnan, "let us breakfast."

"Only," said Porthos, "I beg you to observe, my friend, that we have
only two hours for our repast."

"What would you have? We will try to make two hours suffice. But why
have you only two hours?"

"Because it is high tide at one o'clock, and, with the tide, I am going
to Vannes. But, as I shall return tomorrow, my dear friend, you can stay
here; you shall be master, I have a good cook and a good cellar."

"No," interrupted D'Artagnan, "better than that."

"What?"

"You are going to Vannes, you say?"

"To a certainty."

"To see Aramis?"

"Yes."

"Well! I came from Paris on purpose to see Aramis."

"That's true."

"I will go with you then."

"Do; that's the thing."

"Only, I ought to have seen Aramis first, and you after. But man
proposes, and God disposes. I have begun with you, and will finish with
Aramis."

"Very well!"

"And in how many hours can you go from here to Vannes?"

"Oh! pardieu! in six hours. Three hours by sea to Sarzeau, three hours
by road from Sarzeau to Vannes."

"How convenient that is! Being so near to the bishopric; do you often go
to Vannes?"

"Yes; once a week. But, stop till I get my plan."

Porthos picked up his plan, folded it carefully, and engulfed it in his
large pocket.

"Good!" said D'Artagnan aside; "I think I now know the real engineer who
is fortifying Belle-Isle."

Two hours after, at high tide, Porthos and D'Artagnan set out for
Sarzeau.



CHAPTER 71. A Procession at Vannes



The passage from Belle-Isle to Sarzeau was made rapidly enough, thanks
to one of those little corsairs of which D'Artagnan had been told during
his voyage, and which, shaped for fast sailing and destined for the
chase, were sheltered at that time in the roadstead of Loc-Maria, where
one of them, with a quarter of its war-crew, performed duty between
Belle-Isle and the continent. D'Artagnan had an opportunity of
convincing himself that Porthos, though engineer and topographer, was
not deeply versed in affairs of state. His perfect ignorance, with any
other, might have passed for well-informed dissimulation. But D'Artagnan
knew too well all the folds and refolds of his Porthos, not to find
a secret if there were one there; like those regular, minute old
bachelors, who know how to find, with their eyes shut, each book on the
shelves of their library and each piece of linen in their wardrobe.
So if he had found nothing, our cunning D'Artagnan, in rolling and
unrolling his Porthos, it was because, in truth, there was nothing to be
found.

"Be it so," said D'Artagnan, "I shall get to know more at Vannes in half
an hour than Porthos has discovered at Belle-Isle in two months. Only,
in order that I may know something, it is important that Porthos should
not make use of the only stratagem I leave at his disposal. He must not
warn Aramis of my arrival." All the care of the musketeer was then, for
the moment, confined to the watching of Porthos. And let us hasten to
say, Porthos did not deserve all this mistrust. Porthos thought of no
evil. Perhaps, on first seeing him, D'Artagnan had inspired him with a
little suspicion, but almost immediately D'Artagnan had reconquered in
that good and brave heart the place he had always occupied, and not the
least cloud darkened the large eye of Porthos, fixed from time to time
with tenderness on his friend.

On landing, Porthos inquired if his horses were waiting, and soon
perceived them at the crossing of the road that winds round Sarzeau, and
which, without passing through that little city, leads towards Vannes.
These horses were two in number, one for M. de Vallon, and one for his
equerry; for Porthos had an equerry since Mouston was only able to use
a carriage as a means of locomotion. D'Artagnan expected that Porthos
would propose to send forward his equerry upon one horse to bring
back another, and he--D'Artagnan--had made up his mind to oppose this
proposition. But nothing D'Artagnan had expected happened. Porthos
simply told the equerry to dismount and await his return at Sarzeau,
whilst D'Artagnan would ride his horse; which was arranged.

"Eh! but you are quite a man of precaution, my dear Porthos," said
D'Artagnan to his friend, when he found himself in the saddle, upon the
equerry's horse.

"Yes, but this is a kindness on the part of Aramis. I have not my stud
here, and Aramis has placed his stables at my disposal."

"Good horses for bishop's horses, mordioux!" said D'Artagnan. "It is
true, Aramis is a bishop of a peculiar kind."

"He is a holy man!" replied Porthos, in a tone almost nasal, and with
his eyes raised towards heaven.

"Then he is much changed," said D'Artagnan; "you and I have known him
passably profane."

"Grace has touched him," said Porthos.

"Bravo," said D'Artagnan, "that redoubles my desire to see my dear old
friend." And he spurred his horse, which sprang off into a more rapid
pace.

"Peste!" said Porthos, "if we go on at this rate, we shall only take one
hour instead of two."

"To go how far, do you say, Porthos?"

"Four leagues and a half."

"That will be a good pace."

"I could have embarked you on the canal, but the devil take rowers and
boat-horses! The first are like tortoises; the second like snails; and
when a man is able to put a good horse between his knees, that horse is
better than rowers or any other means."

"You are right; you above all, Porthos, who always look magnificent on
horseback."

"Rather heavy, my friend; I was weighed the other day."

"And what do you weigh?"

"Three hundred-weight!" said Porthos, proudly.

"Bravo!"

"So that you must perceive, I am forced to choose horses whose loins are
straight and wide, otherwise I break them down in two hours."

"Yes, giant's horses you must have, must you not?"

"You are very polite, my friend," replied the engineer, with
affectionate majesty.

"As a case in point," replied D'Artagnan, "your horse seems to sweat
already."

"Dame! It is hot! Ah, ah! do you see Vannes now?"

"Yes, perfectly. It is a handsome city, apparently."

"Charming, according to Aramis, at least, but I think it black; but
black seems to be considered handsome by artists: I am sorry for it."

"Why so, Porthos?"

"Because I have lately had my chateau of Pierrefonds which was gray with
age, plastered white."

"Humph!" said D'Artagnan, "and white is more cheerful."

"Yes, but it is less august, as Aramis tells me. Fortunately there are
dealers in black as well as white. I will have Pierrefonds replastered
in black; that's all there is about it. If gray is handsome, you
understand, my friend, black must be superb."

"Dame!" said D'Artagnan, "that appears logical."

"Were you never at Vannes, D'Artagnan?"

"Never."

"Then you know nothing of the city?"

"Nothing."

"Well, look!" said Porthos, raising himself in his stirrups, which made
the fore-quarters of his horse bend sadly--"do you see that corner, in
the sun, yonder?"

"Yes, I see it plainly."

"Well, that is the cathedral."

"Which is called?"

"Saint-Pierre. Now look again--in the faubourg on the left, do you see
another cross?"

"Perfectly well."

"That is Saint-Paterne, the parish preferred by Aramis."

"Indeed!"

"Without doubt. Saint-Paterne, you see, passes for having been the first
bishop of Vannes. It is true that Aramis pretends he was not. But he is
so learned that that may be only a paro--a para---"

"A paradox," said D'Artagnan.

"Precisely; thank you! my tongue trips, I am so hot."

"My friend," said D'Artagnan, "continue your interesting description, I
beg. What is that large white building with many windows?"

"Oh! that is the college of the Jesuits. Pardieu! you have an apt hand.
Do you see, close to the college, a large house with steeples, turrets,
built in a handsome Gothic style, as that fool, M. Getard, says?"

"Yes, that is plainly to be seen. Well?"

"Well, that is where Aramis resides."

"What! does he not reside at the episcopal palace?"

"No, that is in ruins. The palace likewise is in the city, and Aramis
prefers the faubourgs. That is why, as I told you, he is partial to
Saint-Paterne; Saint-Paterne is in the faubourg. Besides, there are in
this faubourg a mall, a tennis-court, and a house of Dominicans. Look,
that where the handsome steeple rises to the heavens."

"Well?"

"Next, you see the faubourg is like a separate city, it has its walls,
its towers, its ditches; the quay is upon it likewise, and the boats
land at the quay. If our little corsair did not draw eight feet of
water, we could have come full sail up to Aramis's windows."

"Porthos, Porthos," cried D'Artagnan, "you are a well of knowledge, a
spring of ingenious and profound reflections. Porthos, you no longer
surprise me, you confound me."

"Here we are," said Porthos, turning the conversation with his usual
modesty.

"And high time we were," thought D'Artagnan, "for Aramis's horse is
melting away like a steed of ice."

They entered almost at the same instant the faubourg; but scarcely had
they gone a hundred paces when they were surprised to find the streets
strewed with leaves and flowers. Against the old walls of Vannes hung
the oldest and the strangest tapestries of France. From over balconies
fell long white sheets stuck all over with bouquets. The streets were
deserted; it was plain the entire population was assembled on one point.
The blinds were closed, and the breeze penetrated into the houses under
the hangings, which cast long, black shades between their places of
issue and the walls. Suddenly, at the turning of a street, chants
struck the ears of the newly arrived travelers. A crowd in holiday garb
appeared through the vapors of incense which mounted to the heavens in
blue fleeces, and clouds of rose-leaves fluttered as high as the first
stories. Above all heads were to be seen the cross and banners, the
sacred symbols of religion. Then, beneath these crosses and banners,
as if protected by them, walked a whole world of young girls clothed
in white, crowned with corn-flowers. At the two sides of the street,
inclosing the cortege, marched the guards of the garrison, carrying
bouquets in the barrels of their muskets and on the points of their
lances. This was the procession.

Whilst D'Artagnan and Porthos were looking on with critical glances,
which disguised an extreme impatience to get forward, a magnificent dais
approached preceded by a hundred Jesuits and a hundred Dominicans, and
escorted by two archdeacons, a treasurer, a penitent and twelve canons.
A singer with a thundering voice--a man certainly picked out from all
the voices of France, as was the drum-major of the imperial guard from
all the giants of the empire--escorted by four other chanters, who
appeared to be there only to serve him as an accompaniment, made the air
resound, and the windows of the houses vibrate. Under the dais appeared
a pale and noble countenance with black eyes, black hair streaked with
threads of white, a delicate, compressed mouth, a prominent and angular
chin. His head, full of graceful majesty, was covered with the episcopal
mitre, a headdress which gave it, in addition to the character of
sovereignty, that of asceticism and evangelic meditation.

"Aramis!" cried the musketeer, involuntarily, as this lofty countenance
passed before him. The prelate started at the sound of the voice. He
raised his large black eyes, with their long lashes, and turned them
without hesitation towards the spot whence the exclamation proceeded.
At a glance, he saw Porthos and D'Artagnan close to him. On his part,
D'Artagnan, thanks to the keenness of his sight, had seen all, seized
all. The full portrait of the prelate had entered his memory, never to
leave it. One thing had particularly struck D'Artagnan. On perceiving
him, Aramis had colored, then he had concentrated under his eyelids the
fire of the look of the master, and the indefinable affection of
the friend. It was evident that Aramis had asked himself this
question:--"Why is D'Artagnan with Porthos, and what does he want
at Vannes?" Aramis comprehended all that was passing in the mind of
D'Artagnan, on turning his look upon him again, and seeing that he had
not lowered his eyes. He knew the acuteness and intelligence of his
friend, he feared to let him divine the secret of his blush and his
astonishment. He was still the same Aramis, always having a secret to
conceal. Therefore, to put an end to his look of an inquisitor which it
was necessary to get rid of at all events, as, at any price, a general
extinguishes a battery which annoys him, Aramis stretched forth his
beautiful white hand, upon which sparkled the amethyst of the pastoral
ring; he cut the air with sign of the cross, and poured out his
benediction upon his two friends. Perhaps thoughtful and absent,
D'Artagnan, impious in spite of himself, might not have bent beneath
this holy benediction; but Porthos saw his distraction, and laying
his friendly hand upon the back of his companion, he crushed him down
towards the earth. D'Artagnan was forced to give way; indeed, he was
little short of being flat on the ground. In the meantime Aramis had
passed. D'Artagnan, like Antaeus, had only touched the ground, and he
turned towards Porthos, almost angry. But there was no mistaking the
intention of the brave Hercules; it was a feeling of religious propriety
that had influenced him. Besides, speech with Porthos, instead of
disguising his thought, always completed it.

"It is very polite of him," said he, "to have given his benediction to
us alone. Decidedly, he is a holy man, and a brave man." Less convinced
than Porthos, D'Artagnan made no reply.

"Observe, my friend," continued Porthos, "he has seen us; and, instead
of continuing to walk on at the simple pace of the procession, as he
did just now,--see, what a hurry he is in; do you see how the cortege
is increasing its speed? He is eager to join us and embrace us, is that
dear Aramis."

"That is true," replied D'Artagnan, aloud.--Then to himself:--"It is
equally true he has seen me, the fox, and will have time to prepare
himself to receive me."

But the procession had passed; the road was free. D'Artagnan and Porthos
walked straight up to the episcopal palace, which was surrounded by a
numerous crowd anxious to see the prelate return. D'Artagnan remarked
that this crowd was composed principally of citizens and military
men. He recognized in the nature of these partisans the address of his
friend. Aramis was not the man to seek for a useless popularity. He
cared very little for being beloved by people who could be of no service
to him. Women, children, and old men, that is to say, the cortege of
ordinary pastors, was not the cortege for him.

Ten minutes after the two friends had passed the threshold of the
palace, Aramis returned like a triumphant conqueror; the soldiers
presented arms to him as to a superior; the citizens bowed to him as to
a friend and a patron, rather than as a head of the Church. There was
something in Aramis resembling those Roman senators who had their
doors always surrounded by clients. At the foot of the prison, he had a
conference of half a minute with a Jesuit, who, in order to speak to him
more secretly, passed his head under the dais. He then re-entered his
palace; the doors closed slowly, and the crowd melted away, whilst
chants and prayers were still resounding abroad. It was a magnificent
day. Earthly perfumes were mingled with the perfumes of the air and the
sea. The city breathed happiness, joy, and strength. D'Artagnan
felt something like the presence of an invisible hand which had,
all-powerfully, created this strength, this joy, this happiness, and
spread everywhere these perfumes.

"Oh! oh!" said he, "Porthos has got fat; but Aramis is grown taller."



CHAPTER 72. The Grandeur of the Bishop of Vannes



Porthos and D'Artagnan had entered the bishop's residence by a private
door, as his personal friends. Of course, Porthos served D'Artagnan as
guide. The worthy baron comported himself everywhere rather as if he
were at home. Nevertheless, whether it was a tacit acknowledgment of the
sanctity of the personage of Aramis and his character, or the habit of
respecting him who imposed upon him morally, a worthy habit which had
always made Porthos a model soldier and an excellent companion; for all
these reasons, say we, Porthos preserved in the palace of His Greatness
the Bishop of Vannes a sort of reserve which D'Artagnan remarked at
once, in the attitude he took with respect to the valets and officers.
And yet this reserve did not go so far as to prevent his asking
questions. Porthos questioned. They learned that His Greatness had
just returned to his apartment and was preparing to appear in familiar
intimacy, less majestic than he had appeared with his flock. After
a quarter of an hour, which D'Artagnan and Porthos passed in looking
mutually at each other with the white of their eyes, and turning their
thumbs in all the different evolutions which go from north to south, a
door of the chamber opened and His Greatness appeared, dressed in the
undress, complete, of a prelate. Aramis carried his head high, like a
man accustomed to command: his violet robe was tucked up on one side,
and his white hand was on his hip. He had retained the fine mustache,
and the lengthened royale of the time of Louis XIII. He exhaled, on
entering, that delicate perfume which, among elegant men and women
of high fashion, never changes, and appears to be incorporated in the
person, of whom it has become the natural emanation. In this case
only, the perfume had retained something of the religious sublimity of
incense. It no longer intoxicated, it penetrated; it no longer inspired
desire, it inspired respect. Aramis, on entering the chamber did not
hesitate an instant; and without pronouncing one word, which, whatever
it might be, would have been cold on such an occasion, he went straight
up to the musketeer, so well disguised under the costume of M. Agnan,
and pressed him in his arms with a tenderness which the most distrustful
could not have suspected of coldness or affectation.

D'Artagnan, on his part, embraced him with equal ardor. Porthos pressed
the delicate hand of Aramis in his immense hands, and D'Artagnan
remarked that His Greatness gave him his left hand, probably from habit,
seeing that Porthos already ten times had been near injuring his fingers
covered with rings, by pounding his flesh in the vise of his fist.
Warned by the pain, Aramis was cautious, and only presented flesh to be
bruised, and not fingers to be crushed, against gold or the angles of
diamonds.

Between two embraces, Aramis looked D'Artagnan in the face, offered him
a chair, sitting down himself in the shade, observing that the light
fell full upon the face of his interlocutor. This maneuver, familiar to
diplomatists and women, resembles much the advantage of the guard which,
according to their skill or habit, combatants endeavor to take on the
ground at a duel. D'Artagnan was not the dupe of this maneuver, but he
did not appear to perceive it. He felt himself caught; but, precisely,
because he was caught he felt himself on the road to discovery, and
it little imported to him, old condottiere as he was, to be beaten in
appearance, provided he drew from his pretended defeat the advantages of
victory. Aramis began the conversation.

"Ah! dear friend! my good D'Artagnan," said he, "what an excellent
chance!"

"It is a chance, my reverend companion," said D'Artagnan, "that I will
call friendship. I seek you, as I always have sought you, when I had
any grand enterprise to propose to you, or some hours of liberty to give
you."

"Ah! indeed," said Aramis, without explosion, "you have been seeking
me?"

"Eh! yes, he has been seeking you, Aramis," said Porthos, "and the proof
is that he has unharbored me at Belle-Isle. That is amiable, is it not?"

"Ah! yes," said Aramis, "at Belle-Isle! certainly!"

"Good!" said D'Artagnan; "there is my booby Porthos, without thinking of
it, has fired the first cannon of attack."

"At Belle-Isle!" said Aramis, "in that hole, in that desert! That is
kind, indeed!"

"And it was I who told him you were at Vannes," continued Porthos, in
the same tone.

D'Artagnan armed his mouth with a finesse almost ironical.

"Yes, I knew, but I was willing to see," replied he.

"To see what?"

"If our old friendship still held out, if, on seeing each other, our
hearts, hardened as they are by age, would still let the old cry of joy
escape, which salutes the coming of a friend."

"Well, and you must have been satisfied," said Aramis.

"So, so."

"How is that?"

"Yes, Porthos said hush! and you----"

"Well! and I?"

"And you gave me your benediction."

"What would you have, my friend?" said Aramis, smiling; "that is the
most precious thing that a poor prelate, like me, has to give."

"Indeed, my dear friend!"

"Doubtless."

"And yet they say at Paris that the bishopric of Vannes is one of the
best in France."

"Ah! you are now speaking of temporal wealth," said Aramis, with a
careless air.

"To be sure, I wish to speak of that; I hold by it, on my part."

"In that case, let me speak of it," said Aramis, with a smile.

"You own yourself to be one of the richest prelates in France?"

"My friend, since you ask me to give you an account, I will tell you
that the bishopric of Vannes is worth about twenty thousand livres a
year, neither more nor less. It is a diocese which contains a hundred
and sixty parishes."

"That is very pretty," said D'Artagnan.

"It is superb!" said Porthos.

"And yet," resumed D'Artagnan, throwing his eyes over Aramis, "you don't
mean to bury yourself here forever?"

"Pardon me. Only I do not admit the word bury."

"But it seems to me, that at this distance from Paris a man is buried,
or nearly so."

"My friend, I am getting old," said Aramis; "the noise and bustle of
a city no longer suit me. At fifty-seven we ought to seek calm and
meditation. I have found them here. What is there more beautiful,
and stern at the same time, than this old Armorica. I find here, dear
D'Artagnan, all that is opposite to what I formerly loved, and that is
what must happen at the end of life, which is opposite to the beginning.
A little of my odd pleasure of former times still comes to salute me
here, now and then, without diverting me from the road of salvation. I
am still of this world, and yet every step that I take brings me nearer
to God."

"Eloquent, wise and discreet; you are an accomplished prelate, Aramis,
and I offer you my congratulations."

"But," said Aramis, smiling, "you did not come here only for the purpose
of paying me compliments. Speak; what brings you hither! May it be that,
in some fashion or other, you want me?"

"Thank God, no, my friend," said D'Artagnan, "it is nothing of that
kind.--I am rich and free."

"Rich!" exclaimed Aramis.

"Yes, rich for me; not for you or Porthos, understand. I have an income
of about fifteen thousand livres."

Aramis looked at him suspiciously. He could not believe--particularly
on seeing his friend in such humble guise--that he had made so fine a
fortune. Then D'Artagnan, seeing that the hour of explanations was come,
related the history of his English adventures. During the recital he
saw, ten times, the eyes of the prelate sparkle, and his slender fingers
work convulsively. As to Porthos, it was not admiration he manifested
for D'Artagnan; it was enthusiasm, it was delirium. When D'Artagnan had
finished, "Well!" said Aramis.

"Well!" said D'Artagnan, "you see, then, I have in England friends and
property, in France a treasure. If your heart tells you so, I offer them
to you. That is what I came here for."

However firm was his look, he could not this time support the look of
Aramis. He allowed, therefore, his eye to stray upon Porthos--like the
sword which yields to too powerful a pressure, and seeks another road.

"At all events," said the bishop, "you have assumed a singular traveling
costume, old friend."

"Frightful! I know it is. You may understand why I would not travel as a
cavalier or a noble; since I became rich, I am miserly."

"And you say, then, you came to Belle-Isle?" said Aramis, without
transition.

"Yes," replied D'Artagnan; "I knew I should find you and Porthos there."

"Find me!" cried Aramis. "Me! for the last year past I have not once
crossed the sea."

"Oh," said D'Artagnan, "I should never have supposed you such a
housekeeper."

"Ah, dear friend, I must tell you that I am no longer the Aramis of
former times. Riding on horseback is unpleasant to me; the sea fatigues
me. I am a poor, ailing priest, always complaining, always grumbling,
and inclined to the austerities which appear to accord with old
age,--preliminary parlayings with death. I linger, my dear D'Artagnan, I
linger."

"Well, that is all the better, my friend, for we shall probably be
neighbors soon."

"Bah!" said Aramis with a degree of surprise he did not even seek to
dissemble. "You my neighbor!"

"Mordioux! yes."

"How so?"

"I am about to purchase some very profitable salt-mines, which are
situated between Pirial and Croisic. Imagine, my friend, a clear profit
of twelve per cent. Never any deficiency, never any idle expenses; the
ocean, faithful and regular, brings every twelve hours its contingency
to my coffers. I am the first Parisian who has dreamt of such a
speculation. Do not say anything about it, I beg of you, and in a short
time we will communicate on the matter. I am to have three leagues of
country for thirty thousand livres."

Aramis darted a look at Porthos, as if to ask if all this were true,
if some snare were not concealed beneath this outward indifference.
But soon, as if ashamed of having consulted this poor auxiliary, he
collected all his forces for a fresh assault and new defense. "I heard
that you had had some difference with the court but that you had come
out of it as you know how to get through everything, D'Artagnan, with
the honors of war."

"I!" said the musketeer, with a burst of laughter that did not conceal
his embarrassment, for, from these words, Aramis was not unlikely to be
acquainted with his last relations with the king. "I! Oh, tell me all
about that, pray, Aramis?"

"Yes, it was related to me, a poor bishop, lost in the middle of the
Landes, that the king had taken you as the confidant of his amours."

"With whom?"

"With Mademoiselle de Mancini."

D'Artagnan breathed freely again. "Ah! I don't say no to that," replied
he.

"It appears that the king took you one morning over the bridge of Blois
to talk with his lady-love."

"That's true," said D'Artagnan. "And you know that, do you? Well, then,
you must know that the same day I gave in my resignation!"

"What, sincerely?"

"Nothing more so."

"It was after that, then, that you went to the Comte de la Fere's?"

"Yes."

"Afterwards to me?"

"Yes."

"And then Porthos?"

"Yes."

"Was it in order to pay us a simple visit?"

"No, I did not know you were engaged, and I wished to take you with me
into England."

"Yes, I understand; and then you executed alone, wonderful man as you
are, what you wanted to propose to us all four. I suspected you had
something to do with that famous restoration, when I learned that you
had been seen at King Charles's receptions, and that he appeared to
treat you like a friend, or rather like a person to whom he was under an
obligation."

"But how the devil did you learn all that?" asked D'Artagnan, who began
to fear that the investigation of Aramis had extended further than he
wished.

"Dear D'Artagnan," said the prelate, "my friendship resembles, in a
degree, the solicitude of that night watch whom we have in the little
tower of the mole, at the extremity of the quay. That brave man, every
night, lights a lantern to direct the barks that come from sea. He is
concealed in his sentry-box, and the fishermen do not see him; but he
follows them with interest; he divines them; he calls them; he attracts
them into the way to the port. I resemble this watcher: from time to
time some news reaches me, and recalls to my remembrance all those I
loved. Then I follow the friends of old days over the stormy ocean of
the world, I, a poor watcher, to whom God has kindly given the shelter
of a sentry-box."

"Well, what did I do when I came from England?"

"Ah! there," replied Aramis, "you get beyond my depth. I know nothing of
you since your return. D'Artagnan, my eyes are dim. I regretted you did
not think of me. I wept over your forgetfulness. I was wrong. I see you
again, and it is a festival, a great festival, I assure you, solemnly!
How is Athos?"

"Very well, thank you."

"And our young pupil, Raoul?"

"He seems to have inherited the skill of his father, Athos, and the
strength of his tutor, Porthos."

"And on what occasion have you been able to judge of that?"

"Eh! mon Dieu! on the eve of my departure from Paris."

"Indeed! tell me all about it!"

"Yes; there was an execution at the Greve, and in consequence of that
execution, a riot. We happened by accident, to be in the riot; and in
this riot we were obliged to have recourse to our swords. And he did
wonders."

"Bah! what did he do?"

"Why, in the first place, he threw a man out of the window, as he would
have flung a sack full of flock."

"Come, that's pretty well," said Porthos.

"Then he drew, and cut and thrust away, as we fellows used to do in the
good old times."

"And what was the cause of this riot?" said Porthos.

D'Artagnan remarked upon the face of Aramis a complete indifference to
this question of Porthos. "Why," said he, fixing his eyes upon Aramis,
"on account of two farmers of the revenues, friends of M. Fouquet, whom
the king forced to disgorge their plunder, and then hanged them."

A scarcely perceptible contraction of the prelate's brow showed that he
had heard D'Artagnan's reply.

"Oh, oh!" said Porthos; "and what were the names of these friends of M.
Fouquet?"

"MM. d'Eymeris and Lyodot," said D'Artagnan. "Do you know those names,
Aramis?"

"No," said the prelate, disdainfully; "they sound like the names of
financiers."

"Exactly; so they were."

"Oh! M. Fouquet allows his friends to be hanged, then," said Porthos.

"And why not?" said Aramis. "Why, it seems to me----"

"If these culprits were hanged, it was by order of the king. Now M.
Fouquet, although superintendent of the finances, has not, I believe,
the right of life and death."

"That may be," said Porthos; "but in the place of M. Fouquet----"

Aramis was afraid Porthos was about to say something awkward, so
interrupted him. "Come, D'Artagnan," said he; "this is quite enough
about other people, let us talk a little about you."

"Of me you know all that I can tell you. On the contrary let me hear a
little about you, Aramis."

"I have told you, my friend. There is nothing of Aramis left in me."

"Nor of the Abbe d'Herblay even?"

"No, not even of him. You see a man whom Providence has taken by the
hand, whom he has conducted to a position that he could never have dared
even to hope for."

"Providence?" asked D'Artagnan.

"Yes."

"Well, that is strange! I was told it was M. Fouquet."

"Who told you that?" cried Aramis, without being able, with all the
power of his will, to prevent the color rising to his cheeks.

"Ma foi! why, Bazin!"

"The fool!"

"I do not say he is a man of genius, it is true; but he told me so; and
after him, I repeat it to you."

"I have never seen M. Fouquet," replied Aramis with a look as pure and
calm as that of a virgin who has never told a lie.

"Well, but if you had seen him and known him, there is no harm in th