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Ten Years Later

Part 19 out of 21

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d'Artagnan, to-day it is the Duke of Buckingham."

"You know very well, monsieur," returned De Wardes, "that I
sometimes insult those who are present."

De Wardes was close to Raoul, their shoulders met, their
faces approached, as if to mutually inflame each other by
the fire of their looks and of their anger. It could be seen
that the one was at the height of fury, the other at the end
of his patience. Suddenly a voice was heard behind them full
of grace and courtesy saying, "I believe I heard my name
pronounced."

They turned round and saw D'Artagnan, who, with a smiling
eye and a cheerful face, had just placed his hand on De
Wardes's shoulder. Raoul stepped back to make room for the
musketeer. De Wardes trembled from head to foot, turned
pale, but did not move. D'Artagnan, still with the same
smile, took the place which Raoul abandoned to him.

"Thank you, my dear Raoul," he said. "M. de Wardes, I wish
to talk with you. Do not leave us Raoul; every one can hear
what I have to say to M. de Wardes." His smile immediately
faded away, and his glance became cold and sharp as a sword.

"I am at your orders, monsieur," said De Wardes.

"For a very long time," resumed D'Artagnan, "I have sought
an opportunity of conversing with you; to-day is the first
time I have found it. The place is badly chosen, I admit,
but you will perhaps have the goodness to accompany me to my
apartments, which are on the staircase at the end of this
gallery."

"I follow you, monsieur," said De Wardes.

"Are you alone here?" said D'Artagnan.

"No; I have M. Manicamp and M. de Guiche, two of my
friends."

"That's well," said D'Artagnan; "but two persons are not
sufficient; you will be able to find a few others, I trust."

"Certainly," said the young man, who did not know what
object D'Artagnan had in view. "As many as you please."

"Are they friends?"

"Yes, monsieur."

"Real friends?"

"No doubt of it."

"Very well, get a good supply, then. Do you come, too,
Raoul; bring M. de Guiche and the Duke of Buckingham."

"What a disturbance," replied De Wardes, attempting to
smile. The captain slightly signed to him with his hand, as
though to recommend him to be patient, and then led the way
to his apartments.

CHAPTER 95

Sword-thrusts in the Water (concluded)

D'Artagnan's apartment was not unoccupied, for the Comte de
la Fere, seated in the recess of a window, awaited him.
"Well," said he to D'Artagnan, as he saw him enter.

"Well," said the latter, "M. de Wardes has done me the honor
to pay me a visit, in company with some of his own friends,
as well as of ours." In fact, behind the musketeer appeared
De Wardes and Manicamp followed by De Guiche and Buckingham,
who looked surprised, not knowing what was expected of them.
Raoul was accompanied by two or three gentlemen; and, as he
entered, glanced round the room, and perceiving the count,
he went and placed himself by his side. D'Artagnan received
his visitors with all the courtesy he was capable of; he
preserved his unmoved and unconcerned look. All the persons
present were men of distinction, occupying posts of honor
and credit at the court. After he had apologized to each of
them for any inconvenience he might have put them to, he
turned towards De Wardes, who, in spite of his customary
self-command, could not prevent his face betraying some
surprise mingled with not a little uneasiness.

"Now, monsieur," said D'Artagnan, "since we are no longer
within the precincts of the king's palace, and since we can
speak out without failing in respect to propriety, I will
inform you why I have taken the liberty to request you to
visit me here, and why I have invited these gentlemen to be
present at the same time. My friend, the Comte de la Fere,
has acquainted me with the injurious reports you are
spreading about myself. You have stated that you regard me
as your mortal enemy, because I was, so you affirm, that of
your father."

"Perfectly true, monsieur, I have said so," replied De
Wardes, whose pallid face became slightly tinged with color.

"You accuse me, therefore, of a crime, or a fault, or of
some mean and cowardly act. Have the goodness to state your
charge against me in precise terms."

"In the presence of witnesses?"

"Most certainly in the presence of witnesses; and you see I
have selected them as being experienced in affairs of
honor."

"You do not appreciate my delicacy, monsieur. I have accused
you, it is true; but I have kept the nature of the
accusation a perfect secret. I entered into no details; but
have rested satisfied by expressing my hatred in the
presence of those on whom a duty was almost imposed to
acquaint you with it. You have not taken the discreetness I
have shown into consideration, although you were interested
in remaining silent. I can hardly recognize your habitual
prudence in that, M. d'Artagnan."

D'Artagnan, who was quietly biting the corner of his
mustache, said, "I have already had the honor to beg you to
state the particulars of the grievances you say you have
against me."

"Aloud?"

"Certainly, aloud."

"In that case, I will speak."

"Speak, monsieur," said D'Artagnan, bowing; "we are all
listening to you."

"Well, monsieur, it is not a question of a personal injury
towards myself, but one towards my father."

"That you have already stated."

"Yes, but there are certain subjects which are only
approached with hesitation."

"If that hesitation, in your case, really does exist, I
entreat you to overcome it."

"Even if it refer to a disgraceful action?"

"Yes; in every and any case."

Those who were present at this scene had, at first, looked
at each other with a good deal of uneasiness. They were
reassured, however, when they saw that D'Artagnan manifested
no emotion whatever.

De Wardes still maintained the same unbroken silence.
"Speak, monsieur," said the musketeer; "you see you are
keeping us waiting."

"Listen, then: -- My father loved a lady of noble birth, and
this lady loved my father." D'Artagnan and Athos exchanged
looks. De Wardes continued: "M. d'Artagnan found some
letters which indicated a rendezvous, substituted himself,
under disguise, for the person who was expected, and took
advantage of the darkness."

"That is perfectly true," said D'Artagnan.

A slight murmur was heard from those present. "Yes, I was
guilty of that dishonorable action. You should have added,
monsieur, since you are so impartial, that, at the period
when the circumstance which you have just related, happened,
I was not one-and-twenty years of age."

"Such an action is not the less shameful on that account,"
said De Wardes; "and it is quite sufficient for a gentleman
to have attained the age of reason, to avoid committing an
act of indelicacy."

A renewed murmur was heard, but this time of astonishment,
and almost of doubt.

"It was a most shameful deception, I admit," said
D'Artagnan, "and I have not waited for M. de Wardes's
reproaches to reproach myself for it, and very bitterly,
too. Age has, however, made me more reasonable, and above
all, more upright; and this injury has been atoned for by a
long and lasting regret. But I appeal to you, gentlemen;
this affair took place in 1626, at a period, happily for
yourselves, known to you by tradition only, at a period when
love was not over scrupulous, when consciences did not
distill, as in the present day, poison and bitterness. We
were young soldiers, always fighting, or being attacked, our
swords always in our hands, or at least ready to be drawn
from their sheaths. Death then always stared us in the face,
war hardened us, and the cardinal pressed us sorely. I have
repented of it, and more than that -- I still repent it, M.
de Wardes."

"I can well understand that, monsieur, for the action itself
needed repentance; but you were not the less the cause of
that lady's disgrace. She, of whom you have been speaking,
covered with shame, borne down by the affront you brought
upon her, fled, quitted France, and no one ever knew what
became of her."

"Stay," said the Comte de la Fere, stretching his hand
towards De Wardes, with a peculiar smile upon his face, "you
are mistaken; she was seen; and there are persons even now
present, who, having often heard her spoken of, will easily
recognize her by the description I am about to give. She was
about five-and-twenty years of age, slender in form, of a
pale complexion, and fair-haired; she was married in
England."

"Married?" exclaimed De Wardes.

"So, you were not aware she was married? You see we are far
better informed than yourself. Do you happen to know she was
usually styled `My Lady,' without the addition of any name
to that description?"

"Yes, I know that."

"Good Heavens!" murmured Buckingham.

"Very well, monsieur. That woman, who came from England,
returned to England after having thrice attempted M.
d'Artagnan's life. That was but just, you will say, since M.
d'Artagnan had insulted her. But that which was not just
was, that, when in England, this woman, by her seductions,
completely enslaved a young man in the service of Lord de
Winter, by name Felton. You change color, my lord," said
Athos turning to the Duke of Buckingham, "and your eyes
kindle with anger and sorrow. Let your Grace finish the
recital, then, and tell M. de Wardes who this woman was who
placed the knife in the hand of your father's murderer."

A cry escaped from the lips of all present. The young duke
passed his handkerchief across his forehead, which was
covered with perspiration. A dead silence ensued among the
spectators.

"You see, M. de Wardes," said D'Artagnan, whom this recital
had impressed more and more, as his own recollection revived
as Athos spoke, "you see that my crime did not cause the
destruction of any one's soul, and that the soul in question
may fairly be considered to have been altogether lost before
my regret. It is, however, an act of conscience on my part.
Now this matter is settled, therefore, it remains for me to
ask with the greatest humility, your forgiveness for this
shameless action, as most certainly I should have asked it
of your father, if he were still alive, and if I had met him
after my return to France, subsequent to the death of King
Charles I."

"That is too much, M. d'Artagnan," exclaimed many voices,
with animation.

"No, gentlemen," said the captain. "And now, M. de Wardes, I
hope all is finished between us, and that you will have no
further occasion to speak ill of me again. Do you consider
it completely settled?"

De Wardes bowed, and muttered to himself inarticulately.

"I trust also," said D'Artagnan, approaching the young man
closely, "that you will no longer speak ill of any one, as
it seems you have the unfortunate habit of doing; for a man
so puritanically conscientious as you are, who can reproach
an old soldier for a youthful freak five-and-thirty years
after it happened, will allow me to ask whether you who
advocate such excessive purity of conscience, will undertake
on your side to do nothing contrary either to conscience or
the principle of honor. And now, listen attentively to what
I am going to say, M. de Wardes, in conclusion. Take care
that no tale, with which your name may be associated,
reaches my ear."

"Monsieur," said De Wardes, "it is useless threatening to no
purpose."

"I have not yet finished, M. de Wardes, and you must listen
to me still further." The circle of listeners, full of eager
curiosity, drew closer. "You spoke just now of the honor of
a woman, and of the honor of your father. We were glad to
hear you speak in that manner; for it is pleasing to think
that such a sentiment of delicacy and rectitude, and which
did not exist, it seems, in our minds, lives in our
children; and it is delightful too, to see a young man, at
an age when men from habit become the destroyers of the
honor of women, respect and defend it."

De Wardes bit his lips and clenched his hands, evidently
much disturbed to learn how this discourse, the commencement
of which was announced in so threatening a manner, would
terminate.

"How did it happen, then, that you allowed yourself to say
to M. de Bragelonne that he did not know who his mother
was?"

Raoul's eye flashed, as, darting forward, he exclaimed, --
"Chevalier, this is a personal affair of my own!" At which
exclamation, a smile, full of malice, passed across De
Wardes's face.

D'Artagnan put Raoul aside, saying, -- "Do not interrupt me,
young man." And looking at De Wardes in an authoritative
manner, he continued: -- "I am now dealing with a matter
which cannot be settled by means of the sword. I discuss it
before men of honor, all of whom have more than once had
their swords in their hands in affairs of honor. I selected
them expressly. These gentlemen well know that every secret
for which men fight ceases to be a secret. I again put my
question to M. de Wardes. What was the subject of
conversation when you offended this young man, in offending
his father and mother at the same time?"

"It seems to me," returned De Wardes, "that liberty of
speech is allowed, when it is supported by every means which
a man of courage has at his disposal."

"Tell me what the means are by which a man of courage can
sustain a slanderous expression."

"The sword."

"You fail, not only in logic, in your argument, but in
religion and honor. You expose the lives of many others,
without referring to your own, which seems to be full of
hazard. Besides, fashions pass away, monsieur, and the
fashion of duelling has passed away, without referring in
any way to the edicts of his majesty which forbid it.
Therefore, in order to be consistent with your own
chivalrous notions, you will at once apologize to M. de
Bragelonne; you will tell him how much you regret having
spoken so lightly, and that the nobility and purity of his
race are inscribed, not in his heart alone, but still more
in every action of his life. You will do and say this, M. de
Wardes, as I, an old officer, did and said just now to your
boy's mustache."

"And if I refuse?" inquired De Wardes.

"In that case the result will be -- "

"That which you think you will prevent," said De Wardes,
laughing; "the result will be that your conciliatory address
will end in a violation of the king's prohibition."

"Not so," said the captain, "you are quite mistaken."

"What will be the result, then?"

"The result will be that I shall go to the king, with whom I
am on tolerably good terms, to whom I have been happy enough
to render certain services dating from a period when you
were not born, and who at my request, has just sent me an
order in blank for M. Baisemeaux de Montlezun, governor of
the Bastile; and I shall say to the king: `Sire, a man has
in a most cowardly way insulted M. de Bragelonne by
insulting his mother; I have written this man's name upon
the lettre de cachet which your majesty has been kind enough
to give me, so that M. de Wardes is in the Bastile for three
years.'" And D'Artagnan drawing the order signed by the king
from his pocket, held it towards De Wardes.

Remarking that the young man was not quite convinced, and
received the warning as an idle threat, he shrugged his
shoulders and walked leisurely towards the table, upon which
lay a writing-case and a pen, the length of which would have
terrified the topographical Porthos. De Wardes then saw that
nothing could well be more seriously intended than the
threat in question for the Bastile, even at that period, was
already held in dread. He advanced a step towards Raoul,
and, in an almost unintelligible voice, said, -- "I offer my
apologies in the terms which M. d'Artagnan just now
dictated, and which I am forced to make to you."

"One moment, monsieur," said the musketeer, with the
greatest tranquillity, "you mistake the terms of the
apology. I did not say, `and which I am forced to make'; I
said, `and which my conscience induces me to make.' This
latter expression, believe me, is better than the former;
and it will be far preferable, since it will be the most
truthful expression of your own sentiments."

"I subscribe to it," said De Wardes; "but submit, gentlemen,
that a thrust of a sword through the body, as was the custom
formerly, was far better than tyranny like this."

"No, monsieur," replied Buckingham; "for the sword-thrust,
when received, was no indication that a particular person
was right or wrong; it only showed that he was more or less
skillful in the use of the weapon."

"Monsieur!" exclaimed De Wardes.

"There, now," interrupted D'Artagnan, "you are going to say
something very rude, and I am rendering you a service by
stopping you in time."

"Is that all, monsieur?" inquired De Wardes.

"Absolutely everything," replied D'Artagnan, "and these
gentlemen, as well as myself, are quite satisfied with you."

"Believe me monsieur, that your reconciliations are not
successful."

"In what way?"

"Because, as we are now about to separate. I would wager
that M. de Bragelonne and myself are greater enemies than
ever."

"You are deceived, monsieur, as far as I am concerned,"
returned Raoul; "for I do not retain the slightest animosity
in my heart against you."

This last blow overwhelmed De Wardes. He cast his eyes
around him like a man bewildered. D'Artagnan saluted most
courteously the gentlemen who had been present at the
explanation; and every one, on leaving the room, shook hands
with him; but not one hand was held out towards De Wardes.
"Oh!" exclaimed the young man, abandoning himself to the
rage which consumed him, "can I not find some one on whom to
wreak my vengeance?"

"You can, monsieur, for I am here," whispered a voice full
of menace in his ear.

De Wardes turned round, and saw the Duke of Buckingham, who,
having probably remained behind with that intention, had
just approached him. "You, monsieur?" exclaimed De Wardes.

"Yes, I! I am no subject of the king of France; I am not
going to remain on the territory, since I am about setting
off for England. I have accumulated in my heart such a mass
of despair and rage, that I, too, like yourself, need to
revenge myself upon some one. I approve M. d'Artagnan's
principles profoundly, but I am not bound to apply them to
you. I am an Englishman, and, in my turn, I propose to you
what you proposed to others to no purpose. Since you,
therefore, are so terribly incensed, take me as a remedy. In
thirty-four hours' time I shall be at Calais. Come with me;
the journey will appear shorter if together, than if alone.
We will fight, when we get there, upon the sands which are
covered by the rising tide, and which form part of the
French territory during six hours of the day, but belong to
the territory of Heaven during the other six."

"I accept willingly," said De Wardes.

"I assure you," said the duke, "that if you kill me, you
will be rendering me an infinite service."

"I will do my utmost to make myself agreeable to you, duke,"
said De Wardes.

"It is agreed, then, that I carry you off with me?"

"I shall be at your commands. I needed some real danger and
some mortal risk to run, to tranquilize me."

"In that case, I think you have met with what you are
looking for. Farewell, M. de Wardes; to-morrow morning, my
valet will tell you the exact hour of our departure; we can
travel together like two excellent friends. I generally
travel as fast as I can. Adieu."

Buckingham saluted De Wardes, and returned towards the
king's apartments; De Wardes, irritated beyond measure, left
the Palais-Royal, and hurried through the streets homeward
to the house where he lodged.

CHAPTER 96

Baisemeaux de Montlezun

After the austere lesson administered to De Wardes, Athos
and D'Artagnan together descended the staircase which led to
the courtyard of the Palais-Royal. "You perceive," said
Athos to D'Artagnan, "that Raoul cannot, sooner or later,
avoid a duel with De Wardes, for De Wardes is as brave as he
is vicious and wicked."

"I know such fellows well," replied D'Artagnan; "I had an
affair with the father. I assure you that, although at that
time I had good muscles and a sort of brute courage -- I
assure you that the father did me some mischief. But you
should have seen how I fought it out with him. Ah, Athos,
such encounters never take place in these times! I had a
hand which could never remain at rest, a hand like
quicksilver, -- you knew its quality, for you have seen me
at work. My sword was no longer a piece of steel; it was a
serpent that assumed every form and every length, seeking
where it might thrust its head; in other words, where it
might fix its bite. I advanced half a dozen paces, then
three, and then, body to body, I pressed my antagonist
closely, then I darted back again ten paces. No human power
could resist that ferocious ardor. Well, De Wardes, the
father, with the bravery of his race, with his dogged
courage, occupied a good deal of my time; and my fingers, at
the end of the engagement, were, I well remember, tired
enough."

"It is, then, as I said," resumed Athos, "the son will
always be looking out for Raoul, and will end by meeting
him; and Raoul can easily be found when he is sought for."

"Agreed; but Raoul calculates well; he bears no grudge
against De Wardes, -- he has said so; he will wait until he
is provoked, and in that case his position is a good one.
The king will not be able to get out of temper about the
matter; besides we shall know how to pacify his majesty. But
why so full of these fears and anxieties? You don't easily
get alarmed."

"I will tell you what makes me anxious; Raoul is to see the
king to-morrow, when his majesty will inform him of his
wishes respecting a certain marriage. Raoul, loving as he
does, will get out of temper, and once in an angry mood, if
he were to meet De Wardes, the shell would explode."

"We will prevent the explosion."

"Not I," said Athos, "for I must return to Blois. All this
gilded elegance of the court, all these intrigues, sicken
me. I am no longer a young man who can make terms with the
meannesses of the day. I have read in the Great Book many
things too beautiful and too comprehensive, to longer take
any interest in the trifling phrases which these men whisper
among themselves when they wish to deceive others. In one
word, I am weary of Paris wherever and whenever you are not
with me; and as I cannot have you with me always, I wish to
return to Blois."

"How wrong you are, Athos; how you gainsay your origin and
the destiny of your noble nature. Men of your stamp are
created to continue, to the very last moment, in full
possession of their great faculties. Look at my sword, a
Spanish blade, the one I wore at Rochelle; it served me for
thirty years without fail; one day in the winter it fell
upon the marble floor on the Louvre and was broken. I had a
hunting-knife made of it which will last a hundred years
yet. You, Athos, with your loyalty, your frankness, your
cool courage and your sound information, are the very man
kings need to warn and direct them. Remain here; Monsieur
Fouquet will not last as long as my Spanish blade."

"Is it possible," said Athos, smiling, "that my friend,
D'Artagnan, who, after having raised me to the skies, making
me an object of worship, casts me down from the top of
Olympus, and hurls me to the ground? I have more exalted
ambition, D'Artagnan. To be a minister -- to be a slave, --
never! Am I not still greater? I am nothing. I remember
having heard you occasionally call me `the great Athos;' I
defy you, therefore, if I were minister, to continue to
bestow that title upon me. No, no; I do not yield myself in
this manner."

"We will not speak of it any more, then; renounce
everything, even the brotherly feeling which unites us."

"It is almost cruel what you say."

D'Artagnan pressed Athos's hand warmly. "No, no; renounce
everything without fear. Raoul can get on without you. I am
at Paris."

"In that case I shall return to Blois. We will take leave of
each other to-night, to-morrow at daybreak I shall be on my
horse again."

"You cannot return to your hotel alone; why did you not
bring Grimaud with you?"

"Grimaud takes his rest now; he goes to bed early, for my
poor old servant gets easily fatigued. He came from Blois
with me, and I compelled him to remain within doors; for if,
in retracing the forty leagues which separate us from Blois,
he needed to draw breath even, he would die without a
murmur. But I don't want to lose Grimaud."

"You shall have one of my musketeers to carry a torch for
you. Hola! some one there," called out D'Artagnan, leaning
over the gilded balustrade. The heads of seven or eight
musketeers appeared. "I wish some gentleman who is so
disposed to escort the Comte de la Fere," cried D'Artagnan.

"Thank you for your readiness, gentlemen," said Athos; "I
regret to have occasion to trouble you in this manner."

"I would willingly escort the Comte de la Fere," said some
one, "if I had not to speak to Monsieur d'Artagnan."

"Who is that?" said D'Artagnan, looking into the darkness.

"I, Monsieur d'Artagnan."

"Heaven forgive me, if that is not Monsieur Baisemeaux's
voice."

"It is, monsieur."

"What are you doing in the courtyard, my dear Baisemeaux?"

"I am waiting your orders, my dear Monsieur d'Artagnan."

"Wretch that I am," thought D'Artagnan; "true, you have been
told, I suppose, that some one was to be arrested, and have
come yourself, instead of sending an officer?"

"I came because I had occasion to speak to you."

"You did not send to me?"

"I waited until you were disengaged," said Monsieur
Baisemeaux, timidly.

"I leave you, D'Artagnan," said Athos.

"Not before I have presented Monsieur Baisemeaux de
Montlezun, the governor of the Bastile."

Baisemeaux and Athos saluted each other.

"Surely you must know each other," said D'Artagnan.

"I have an indistinct recollection of Monsieur Baisemeaux,"
said Athos.

"You remember, my dear, Baisemeaux, the king's guardsman
with whom we used formerly to have such delightful meetings
in the cardinal's time?"

"Perfectly," said Athos, taking leave of him with
affability.

"Monsieur le Comte de la Fere, whose nom de guerre was
Athos," whispered D'Artagnan to Baisemeaux.

"Yes, yes, a brave man, one of the celebrated four."

"Precisely so. But, my dear Baisemeaux, shall we talk now?"

"If you please."

"In the first place, as for the orders -- there are none.
The king does not intend to arrest the person in question."

"So much the worse," said Baisemeaux with a sigh.

"What do you mean by so much the worse?" exclaimed
D'Artagnan, laughing.

"No doubt of it," returned the governor, "my prisoners are
my income."

"I beg your pardon, I did not see it in that light."

"And so there are no orders," repeated Baisemeaux with a
sigh. "What an admirable situation yours is captain," he
continued, after a pause, "captain-lieutenant of the
musketeers."

"Oh, it is good enough; but I don't see why you should envy
me; you, governor of the Bastile, the first castle in
France."

"I am well aware of that," said Baisemeaux, in a sorrowful
tone of voice.

"You say that like a man confessing his sins. I would
willingly exchange my profits for yours."

"Don't speak of profits to me if you wish to save me the
bitterest anguish of mind."

"Why do you look first on one side and then on the other, as
if you were afraid of being arrested yourself, you whose
business it is to arrest others?"

"I was looking to see whether any one could see or listen to
us; it would be safer to confer more in private, if you
would grant me such a favor."

"Baisemeaux, you seem to forget we are acquaintances of five
and thirty years' standing. Don't assume such sanctified
airs; make yourself quite comfortable; I don't eat governors
of the Bastile raw."

"Heaven be praised!"

"Come into the courtyard with me, it's a beautiful moonlight
night; we will walk up and down arm in arm under the trees,
while you tell me your pitiful tale." He drew the doleful
governor into the courtyard, took him by the arm as he had
said, and, in his rough, good-humored way, cried: "Out with
it, rattle away, Baisemeaux; what have you got to say?"

"It's a long story."

"You prefer your own lamentations, then; my opinion is, it
will be longer than ever. I'll wager you are making fifty
thousand francs out of your pigeons in the Bastile."

"Would to heaven that were the case, M. d'Artagnan."

"You surprise me, Baisemeaux; just look at you, acting the
anchorite. I should like to show you your face in a glass,
and you would see how plump and florid-looking you are, as
fat and round as a cheese, with eyes like lighted coals; and
if it were not for that ugly wrinkle you try to cultivate on
your forehead, you would hardly look fifty years old, and
you are sixty, if I am not mistaken."

"All quite true."

"Of course I knew it was true, as true as the fifty thousand
francs profit you make," at which remark Baisemeaux stamped
on the ground.

"Well, well," said D'Artagnan, "I will add up your accounts
for you: you were captain of M. Mazarin's guards; and twelve
thousand francs a year would in twelve years amount to one
hundred and forty thousand francs."

"Twelve thousand francs! Are you mad?" cried Baisemeaux;
"the old miser gave me no more than six thousand, and the
expenses of the post amounted to six thousand five hundred
francs. M. Colbert, who deducted the other six thousand
francs, condescended to allow me to take fifty pistoles as a
gratification; so that, if it were not for my little estate
at Montlezun, which brings me in twelve thousand francs a
year, I could not have met my engagements."

"Well, then, how about the fifty thousand francs from the
Bastile? There, I trust, you are boarded and lodged, and get
your six thousand francs salary besides."

"Admitted!"

"Whether the year be good or bad, there are fifty prisoners,
who, on an average, bring you in a thousand francs a year
each."

"I don't deny it."

"Well, there is at once an income of fifty thousand francs;
you have held the post three years, and must have received
in that time one hundred and fifty thousand francs."

"You forget one circumstance, dear M. d'Artagnan."

"What is that?"

"That while you received your appointment as captain from
the king himself, I received mine as governor from Messieurs
Tremblay and Louviere."

"Quite right, and Tremblay was not a man to let you have the
post for nothing."

"Nor Louviere either: the result was, that I gave
seventy-five thousand francs to Tremblay as his share."

"Very agreeable that! and to Louviere?"

"The very same."

"Money down?"

"No: that would have been impossible. The king did not wish,
or rather M. Mazarin did not wish, to have the appearance of
removing those two gentlemen, who had sprung from the
barricades; he permitted them therefore, to make certain
extravagant conditions for their retirement."

"What were those conditions?"

"Tremble...three years' income for the good-will."

"The deuce! so that the one hundred and fifty thousand
francs have passed into their hands."

"Precisely so."

"And beyond that?"

"A sum of one hundred and fifty thousand francs, or fifteen
thousand pistoles, whichever you please, in three payments."

"Exorbitant."

"Yes, but that is not all."

"What besides?"

"In default of the fulfillment by me of any one of those
conditions, those gentlemen enter upon their functions
again. The king has been induced to sign that."

"It is monstrous, incredible!"

"Such is the fact, however."

"I do indeed pity you, Baisemeaux. But why, in the name of
fortune, did M. Mazarin grant you this pretended favor? It
would have been far better to have refused you altogether."

"Certainly, but he was strongly persuaded to do so by my
protector."

"Who is he?"

"One of your own friends, indeed; M. d'Herblay."

"M. d'Herblay! Aramis!"

"Just so; he has been very kind towards me."

"Kind! to make you enter into such a bargain!"

"Listen! I wished to leave the cardinal's service. M.
d'Herblay spoke on my behalf to Louviere and Tremblay --
they objected; I wished to have the appointment very much,
for I knew what it could be made to produce; in my distress
I confided in M. d'Herblay, and he offered to become my
surety for the different payments."

"You astound me! Aramis become your surety?"

"Like a man of honor; he procured the signature; Tremblay
and Louviere resigned their appointments, I have paid every
year twenty-five thousand francs to these two gentlemen; on
the thirty-first of May every year, M. d'Herblay himself
comes to the Bastile, and brings me five thousand pistoles
to distribute between my crocodiles."

"You owe Aramis one hundred and fifty thousand francs,
then?"

"That is the very thing which is the cause of my despair,
for I only owe him one hundred thousand."

"I don't quite understand you."

"He came and settled with the vampires only two years.
To-day, however, is the thirty-first of May, and he has not
been yet, and to-morrow, at midday, the payment falls due;
if, therefore, I don't pay to-morrow, those gentlemen can,
by the terms of the contract, break off the bargain; I shall
be stripped of everything; I shall have worked for three
years, and given two hundred and fifty thousand francs for
nothing, absolutely for nothing at all, dear M. d'Artagnan."

"This is very strange," murmured D'Artagnan.

"You can now imagine that I may well have wrinkles on my
forehead, can you not?"

"Yes, indeed!"

"And you can imagine, too, that notwithstanding I may be as
round as a cheese, with a complexion like an apple, and my
eyes like coals on fire, I may almost be afraid that I shall
not have a cheese or an apple left me to eat, and that my
eyes will be left me only to weep with."

"It is really a very grievous affair."

"I have come to you, M. d'Artagnan, for you are the only man
who can get me out of my trouble."

"In what way?"

"You are acquainted with the Abbe d'Herblay and you know
that he is a somewhat mysterious gentleman."

"Yes."

"Well, you can, perhaps, give me the address of his
presbytery, for I have been to Noisy-le-Sec, and he is no
longer there."

"I should think not, indeed. He is Bishop of Vannes."

"What! Vannes in Bretagne?"

"Yes."

The little man began to tear his hair, saying, "How can I
get to Vannes from here by midday to-morrow? I am a lost
man."

"Your despair quite distresses me."

"Vannes, Vannes!" cried Baisemeaux.

"But listen; a bishop is not always a resident. M. d'Herblay
may not possibly be so far away as you fear."

"Pray tell me his address."

"I really don't know it."

"In that case I am lost. I will go and throw myself at the
king's feet."

"But, Baisemeaux, I can hardly believe what you tell me;
besides, since the Bastile is capable of producing fifty
thousand francs a year, why have you not tried to screw one
hundred thousand out of it?"

"Because I am an honest man, M. d'Artagnan, and because my
prisoners are fed like ambassadors."

"Well, you're in a fair way to get out of your difficulties;
give yourself a good attack of indigestion with your
excellent living, and put yourself out of the way between
this and midday to-morrow."

"How can you be hard-hearted enough to laugh?"

"Nay, you really afflict me. Come, Baisemeaux, if you can
pledge me your word of honor, do so, that you will not open
your lips to any one about what I am going to say to you."

"Never, never!"

"You wish to put your hand on Aramis?"

"At any cost!"

"Well, go and see where M. Fouquet is."

"Why, what connection can there be ---- "

"How stupid you are! Don't you know that Vannes is in the
diocese of Belle-Isle, or Belle-Isle in the diocese of
Vannes? Belle-Isle belongs to M. Fouquet, and M. Fouquet
nominated M. d'Herblay to that bishopric!"

"I see, I see; you restore me to life again."

"So much the better. Go and tell M. Fouquet very simply that
you wish to speak to M. d'Herblay."

"Of course, of course," exclaimed Baisemeaux, delightedly.

"But," said D'Artagnan, checking him by a severe look, "your
word of honor?"

"I give you my sacred word of honor," replied the little
man, about to set off running.

"Where are you going?"

"To M. Fouquet's house."

"It is useless doing that, M. Fouquet is playing at cards
with the king. All you can do is to pay M. Fouquet a visit
early to-morrow morning."

"I will do so. Thank you."

"Good luck attend you," said D'Artagnan.

"Thank you."

"This is a strange affair," murmured D'Artagnan, as he
slowly ascended the staircase after he had left Baisemeaux.
"What possible interest can Aramis have in obliging
Baisemeaux in this manner? Well, I suppose we shall learn
some day or another."

CHAPTER 97

The King's Card-table

Fouquet was present, as D'Artagnan had said, at the king's
card-table. It seemed as if Buckingham's departure had shed
a balm on the lacerated hearts of the previous evening.
Monsieur, radiant with delight, made a thousand affectionate
signs to his mother. The Count de Guiche could not separate
himself from Buckingham and while playing, conversed with
him upon the circumstance of his projected voyage.
Buckingham, thoughtful, and kind in his manner, like a man
who has adopted a resolution, listened to the count, and
from time to time cast a look full of regret and hopeless
affection at Madame. The princess, in the midst of her
elation of spirits, divided her attention between the king,
who was playing with her, Monsieur, who quietly joked her
about her enormous winnings, and De Guiche, who exhibited an
extravagant delight. Of Buckingham she took but little
notice; for her, this fugitive, this exile, was now simply a
remembrance, no longer a man. Light hearts are thus
constituted; while they themselves continue untouched, they
roughly break off with every one who may possibly interfere
with their little calculations of selfish comfort. Madame
had received Buckingham's smiles and attentions and sighs
while he was present; but what was the good of sighing,
smiling and kneeling at a distance? Can one tell in what
direction the winds in the Channel, which toss mighty
vessels to and fro, carry such sighs as these. The duke
could not fail to mark this change, and his heart was
cruelly hurt. Of a sensitive character, proud and
susceptible of deep attachment, he cursed the day on which
such a passion had entered his heart. The looks he cast,
from time to time at Madame, became colder by degrees at the
chilling complexion of his thoughts. He could hardly yet
despair, but he was strong enough to impose silence upon the
tumultuous outcries of his heart. In exact proportion,
however, as Madame suspected this change of feeling, she
redoubled her activity to regain the ray of light she was
about to lose; her timid and indecisive mind was displayed
in brilliant flashes of wit and humor. At any cost she felt
that she must be remarked above everything and every one,
even above the king himself. And she was so, for the queens,
notwithstanding their dignity, and the king, despite the
respect which etiquette required, were all eclipsed by her.
The queens, stately and ceremonious, were softened and could
not restrain their laughter. Madame Henrietta, the
queen-mother, was dazzled by the brilliancy which cast
distinction upon her family, thanks to the wit of the
grand-daughter of Henry IV. The king, jealous, as a young
man and as a monarch, of the superiority of those who
surrounded him, could not resist admitting himself
vanquished by a petulance so thoroughly French in its
nature, whose energy was more than ever increased by English
humor. Like a child, he was captivated by her radiant
beauty, which her wit made still more dazzling. Madame's
eyes flashed like lightning. Wit and humor escaped from her
scarlet lips, like persuasion from the lips of Nestor of
old. The whole court, subdued by her enchanting grace,
noticed for the first time that laughter could be indulged
in before the greatest monarch in the world, like people who
merited their appellation of the wittiest and most polished
people in Europe.

Madame, from that evening, achieved and enjoyed a success
capable of bewildering all not born to those altitudes
termed thrones; which, in spite of their elevation, are
sheltered from such giddiness. From that very moment Louis
XIV. acknowledged Madame as a person to be recognized.
Buckingham regarded her as a coquette deserving the cruelest
tortures, and De Guiche looked upon her as a divinity; the
courtiers as a star whose light might some day become the
focus of all favor and power. And yet Louis XIV., a few
years previously, had not even condescended to offer his
hand to that "ugly girl" for a ballet; and Buckingham had
worshipped this coquette "on both knees." De Guiche had once
looked upon this divinity as a mere woman; and the courtiers
had not dared to extol this star in her upward progress,
fearful to disgust the monarch whom such a dull star had
formerly displeased.

Let us see what was taking place during this memorable
evening at the king's card-table. The young queen, although
Spanish by birth, and the niece of Anne of Austria, loved
the king, and could not conceal her affection. Anne of
Austria, a keen observer, like all women, and imperious,
like every queen, was sensible of Madame's power, and
acquiesced in it immediately, a circumstance which induced
the young queen to raise the siege and retire to her
apartments. The king hardly paid any attention to her
departure, notwithstanding the pretended symptoms of
indisposition by which it was accompanied. Encouraged by the
rules of etiquette, which he had begun to introduce at the
court as an element of every relation of life, Louis XIV.
did not disturb himself; he offered his hand to Madame
without looking at Monsieur his brother, and led the young
princess to the door of her apartments. It was remarked that
at the threshold of the door, his majesty, freed from every
restraint, or not equal to the situation, sighed very
deeply. The ladies present -- for nothing escapes a woman's
glance -- Mademoiselle Montalais, for instance -- did not
fail to say to each other, "the king sighed," and "Madame
sighed too." This had been indeed the case. Madame had
sighed very noiselessly, but with an accompaniment very far
more dangerous for the king's repose. Madame had sighed,
first closing her beautiful black eyes, next opening them,
and then, laden, as they were, with an indescribable
mournfulness of expression, she had raised them towards the
king, whose face at that moment visibly heightened in color.
The consequence of these blushes, of these interchanged
sighs, and of this royal agitation, was, that Montalais had
committed an indiscretion which had certainly affected her
companion, for Mademoiselle de la Valliere, less clear
sighted, perhaps, turned pale when the king blushed; and her
attendance being required upon Madame, she tremblingly
followed the princess without thinking of taking the gloves,
which court etiquette required her to do. True it is that
this young country girl might allege as her excuse the
agitation into which the king seemed to be thrown, for
Mademoiselle de la Valliere, busily engaged in closing the
door, had involuntarily fixed her eyes upon the king, who,
as he retired backwards, had his face towards it. The king
returned to the room where the card-tables were set out. He
wished to speak to the different persons there, but it was
easy to see that his mind was absent. He jumbled different
accounts together, which was taken advantage of by some of
the noblemen who had retained those habits since the time of
Monsieur Mazarin -- who had a poor memory, but was a good
calculator. In this way Monsieur Manicamp, with a
thoughtless and absent air -- for M. Manicamp was the
honestest man in the world appropriated twenty thousand
francs, which were littering the table, and which did not
seem to belong to any person in particular. In the same way,
Monsieur de Wardes, whose head was doubtless a little
bewildered by the occurrences of the evening, somehow forgot
to leave behind him the sixty double louis which he had won
for the Duke of Buckingham, and which the duke, incapable,
like his father, of soiling his hands with coin of any sort,
had left lying on the table before him. The king only
recovered his attention in some degree at the moment that
Monsieur Colbert, who had been narrowly observant for some
minutes, approached, and, doubtless, with great respect, yet
with much perseverance, whispered a counsel of some sort
into the still tingling ears of the king. The king, at the
suggestion, listened with renewed attention and immediately
looking around him, said, "Is Monsieur Fouquet no longer
here?"

"Yes, sire, I am here," replied the superintendent, till
then engaged with Buckingham, and approached the king, who
advanced a step towards him with a smiling yet negligent
air. "Forgive me," said Louis, "if I interrupt your
conversation; but I claim your attention wherever I may
require your services."

"I am always at the king's service," replied Fouquet.

"And your cash-box too," said the king, laughing with a
false smile.

"My cash-box more than anything else," said Fouquet, coldly.

"The fact is, I wish to give a fete at Fontainebleau -- to
keep open house for fifteen days, and I shall require ---- "
and he stopped glancing at Colbert. Fouquet waited without
showing discomposure; and the king resumed, answering
Colbert's icy smile, "four million francs."

"Four million," repeated Fouquet, bowing profoundly. And his
nails, buried in his bosom, were thrust into his flesh, but
the tranquil expression of his face remained unaltered.
"When will they be required, sire?"

"Take your time, -- I mean -- no, no, as soon as possible."

"A certain time will be necessary, sire."

"Time!" exclaimed Colbert, triumphantly.

"The time, monsieur," said the superintendent, with the
haughtiest disdain, "simply to count the money: a million
can only be drawn and weighed in a day."

"Four days then," said Colbert.

"My clerks," replied Fouquet, addressing himself to the
king, "will perform wonders on his majesty's service, and
the sum shall be ready in three days."

It was for Colbert now to turn pale. Louis looked at him
astonished. Fouquet withdrew without any parade or weakness,
smiling at his numerous friends, in whose countenances alone
he read the sincerity of their friendship -- an interest
partaking of compassion. Fouquet, however, should not be
judged by his smile, for, in reality he felt as if he had
been stricken by death. Drops of blood beneath his coat
stained the fine linen that clothed his chest. His dress
concealed the blood, and his smile the rage which devoured
him. His domestics perceived, by the manner in which he
approached his carriage, that their master was not in the
best of humors: the result of their discernment was, that
his orders were executed with that exactitude of maneuver
which is found on board a man-of-war, commanded during a
storm by an ill-tempered captain. The carriage, therefore,
did not simply roll along -- it flew. Fouquet had hardly
time to recover himself during the drive; on his arrival he
went at once to Aramis, who had not yet retired for the
night. As for Porthos, he had supped very agreeably off a
roast leg of mutton, two pheasants, and a perfect heap of
cray-fish; he then directed his body to be anointed with
perfumed oils, in the manner of the wrestlers of old; and
when this anointment was completed, he had himself wrapped
in flannels and placed in a warm bed. Aramis, as we have
already said, had not retired. Seated at his ease in a
velvet dressing-gown, he wrote letter after letter in that
fine and hurried handwriting, a page of which contained a
quarter of a volume. The door was thrown hurriedly open, and
the superintendent appeared, pale, agitated, anxious. Aramis
looked up: "Good-evening," said he, and his searching look
detected his host's sadness and disordered state of mind.
"Was your play as good as his majesty's?" asked Aramis, by
way of beginning the conversation.

Fouquet threw himself upon a couch, and then pointed to the
door to the servant who had followed him; when the servant
had left he said, "Excellent."

Aramis, who had followed every movement with his eyes,
noticed that he stretched himself upon the cushions with a
sort of feverish impatience. "You have lost as usual?"
inquired Aramis, his pen still in his hand.

"Even more than usual," replied Fouquet.

"You know how to support losses?"

"Sometimes."

"What, Monsieur Fouquet a bad player!"

"There is play and play, Monsieur d'Herblay."

"How much have you lost?" inquired Aramis, with a slight
uneasiness.

Fouquet collected himself a moment, and then, without the
slightest emotion, said, "The evening has cost me four
millions," and a bitter laugh drowned the last vibration of
these words.

Aramis, who did not expect such an amount, dropped his pen.
"Four millions," he said; "you have lost four millions, --
impossible!"

"Monsieur Colbert held my cards for me," replied the
superintendent, with a similar bitter laugh.

"Ah, now I understand; so, so, a new application for funds?"

"Yes, and from the king's own lips. It was impossible to
ruin a man with a more charming smile. What do you think of
it?"

"It is clear that your destruction is the object in view."

"That is your opinion?"

"Still. Besides, there is nothing in it which should
astonish you, for we have foreseen it all along"

"Yes; but I did not expect four millions."

"No doubt the amount is serious, but, after all, four
millions are not quite the death of a man, especially when
the man in question is Monsieur Fouquet."

"My dear D'Herblay, if you knew the contents of my coffers,
you would be less easy."

"And you promised?"

"What could I do?"

"That's true."

"The very day I refuse, Colbert will procure the money;
whence I know not, but he will procure it: and I shall be
lost."

"There is no doubt of that. In how many days did you promise
these four millions?"

"In three days. The king seemed exceedingly pressed."

"In three days?"

"When I think," resumed Fouquet, "that just now as I passed
along the streets, the people cried out, `There is the rich
Monsieur Fouquet,' it is enough to turn my brain."

"Stay, monsieur, the matter is not worth so much trouble,"
said Aramis, calmly, sprinkling some sand over the letter he
had just written.

"Suggest a remedy, then, for this evil without a remedy."

"There is only one remedy for you, -- pay."

"But it is very uncertain whether I have the money.
Everything must be exhausted; Belle-Isle is paid for; the
pension has been paid; and money, since the investigation of
the accounts of those who farm the revenue, is scarce.
Besides, admitting that I pay this time, how can I do so on
another occasion? When kings have tasted money, they are
like tigers who have tasted flesh, they devour everything.
The day will arrive -- must arrive -- when I shall have to
say, `Impossible, sire,' and on that very day I am a lost
man."

Aramis raised his shoulders slightly, saying:

"A man in your position, my lord, is only lost when he
wishes to be so."

"A man, whatever his position may be, cannot hope to
struggle against a king."

"Nonsense; when I was young I wrestled successfully with the
Cardinal Richelieu, who was king of France, -- nay more --
cardinal."

"Where are my armies, my troops, my treasures? I have not
even Belle-Isle."

"Bah! necessity is the mother of invention, and when you
think all is lost, something will be discovered which will
retrieve everything."

"Who will discover this wonderful something?"

"Yourself."

"I! I resign my office of inventor."

"Then I will."

"Be it so. But set to work without delay."

"Oh! we have time enough!"

"You kill me, D'Herblay, with your calmness," said the
superintendent, passing his handkerchief over his face.

"Do you not remember that I one day told you not to make
yourself uneasy, if you possessed courage? Have you any?"

"I believe so."

"Then don't make yourself uneasy."

"It is decided, then, that, at the last moment, you will
come to my assistance."

"It will only be the repayment of a debt I owe you."

"It is the vocation of financiers to anticipate the wants of
men such as yourself, D'Herblay."

"If obligingness is the vocation of financiers, charity is
the virtue of the clergy. Only, on this occasion, do you
act, monsieur. You are not yet sufficiently reduced, and at
the last moment we will see what is to be done."

"We shall see, then, in a very short time."

"Very well. However, permit me to tell you that, personally,
I regret exceedingly that you are at present so short of
money, because I was myself about to ask you for some."

"For yourself?"

"For myself, or some of my people, for mine or for ours."

"How much do you want?"

"Be easy on that score; a roundish sum, it is true, but not
too exorbitant."

"Tell me the amount."

"Fifty thousand francs."

"Oh! a mere nothing. Of course one has always fifty thousand
francs. Why the deuce cannot that knave Colbert be as easily
satisfied as you are -- and I should give myself far less
trouble than I do. When do you need this sum?"

"To-morrow morning; but you wish to know its destination."

"Nay, nay, chevalier, I need no explanation."

"To-morrow is the first of June."

"Well?"

"One of our bonds becomes due."

"I did not know we had any bond."

"Certainly, to-morrow we pay our last third instalment."

"What third?"

"Of the one hundred and fifty thousand francs to
Baisemeaux."

"Baisemeaux? Who is he?"

"The governor of the Bastile."

"Yes, I remember. On what grounds am I to pay one hundred
and fifty thousand francs for that man?"

"On account of the appointment which he, or rather we,
purchased from Louviere and Tremblay."

"I have a very vague recollection of the matter."

"That is likely enough, for you have so many affairs to
attend to. However, I do not believe you have any affair in
the world of greater importance than this one."

"Tell me, then, why we purchased this appointment."

"Why, in order to render him a service in the first place,
and afterwards ourselves."

"Ourselves? You are joking."

"Monseigneur, the time may come when the governor of the
Bastile may prove a very excellent acquaintance."

"I have not the good fortune to understand you, D'Herblay."

"Monseigneur, we had our own poets, our own engineer, our
own architect, our own musicians, our own printer, and our
own painters; we needed our own governor of the Bastile."

"Do you think so?"

"Let us not deceive ourselves, monseigneur; we are very much
opposed to paying the Bastile a visit," added the prelate,
displaying, beneath his pale lips, teeth which were still
the same beautiful teeth so much admired thirty years
previously by Marie Michon.

"And you think it is not too much to pay one hundred and
fifty thousand francs for that? I thought you generally put
out money at better interest than that."

"The day will come when you will admit your mistake."

"My dear D'Herblay, the very day on which a man enters the
Bastile, he is no longer protected by his past."

"Yes, he is, if the bonds are perfectly regular; besides,
that good fellow Baisemeaux has not a courtier's heart. I am
certain, my lord, that he will not remain ungrateful for
that money, without taking into account, I repeat, that I
retain the acknowledgments."

"It is a strange affair! usury in a matter of benevolence."

"Do not mix yourself up with it, monseigneur; if there be
usury, it is I who practice it, and both of us reap the
advantage from it -- that is all."

"Some intrigue, D'Herblay?"

"I do not deny it."

"And Baisemeaux an accomplice in it?"

"Why not? -- there are worse accomplices than he. May I
depend, then, upon the five thousand pistoles to-morrow?"

"Do you want them this evening?"

"It would be better, for I wish to start early; poor
Baisemeaux will not be able to imagine what has become of
me, and must be upon thorns."

"You shall have the amount in an hour. Ah, D'Herblay, the
interest of your one hundred and fifty thousand francs will
never pay my four millions for me."

"Why not, monseigneur."

"Good-night, I have business to transact with my clerks
before I retire."

"A good night's rest, monseigneur."

"D'Herblay, you wish things that are impossible."

"Shall I have my fifty thousand francs this evening?"

"Yes."

"Go to sleep, then, in perfect safety -- it is I who tell
you to do so."

Notwithstanding this assurance, and the tone in which it was
given, Fouquet left the room shaking his head, and heaving a
sigh.

CHAPTER 98

M. Baisemeaux de Montlezun's Accounts

The clock of St. Paul was striking seven as Aramis, on
horseback, dressed as a simple citizen, that is to say, in
colored suit, with no distinctive mark about him, except a
kind of hunting-knife by his side, passed before the Rue du
Petit-Muse, and stopped opposite the Rue des Tourelles, at
the gate of the Bastile. Two sentinels were on duty at the
gate; they made no difficulty about admitting Aramis, who
entered without dismounting, and they pointed out the way he
was to go by a long passage with buildings on both sides.
This passage led to the drawbridge, or, in other words, to
the real entrance. The drawbridge was down, and the duty of
the day was about being entered upon. The sentinel at the
outer guardhouse stopped Aramis's further progress, asking
him, in a rough tone of voice, what had brought him there.
Aramis explained, with his usual politeness, that a wish to
speak to M. Baisemeaux de Montlezun had occasioned his
visit. The first sentinel then summoned a second sentinel,
stationed within an inner lodge, who showed his face at the
grating, and inspected the new arrival most attentively.
Aramis reiterated the expression of his wish to see the
governor, whereupon the sentinel called to an officer of
lower grade, who was walking about in a tolerably spacious
courtyard and who, in turn, on being informed of his object,
ran to seek one of the officers of the governor's staff. The
latter, after having listened to Aramis's request, begged
him to wait a moment, then went away a short distance, but
returned to ask his name. "I cannot tell it you, monsieur,"
said Aramis, "I need only mention that I have matters of
such importance to communicate to the governor, that I can
only rely beforehand upon one thing, that M. de Baisemeaux
will be delighted to see me; nay, more than that, when you
have told him that it is the person whom he expected on the
first of June, I am convinced he will hasten here himself."
The officer could not possibly believe that a man of the
governor's importance should put himself out for a person of
so little importance as the citizen-looking visitor on
horseback. "It happens most fortunately, monsieur," he said,
"that the governor is just going out, and you can perceive
his carriage with the horses already harnessed, in the
courtyard yonder; there will be no occasion for him to come
to meet you, as he will see you as he passes by." Aramis
bowed to signify his assent; he did not wish to inspire
others with too exalted an opinion of himself, and therefore
waited patiently and in silence, leaning upon the saddle-bow
of his horse. Ten minutes had hardly elapsed when the
governor's carriage was observed to move. The governor
appeared at the door, and got into the carriage, which
immediately prepared to start. The same ceremony was
observed for the governor himself as with a suspected
stranger; the sentinel at the lodge advanced as the carriage
was about to pass under the arch, and the governor opened
the carriage-door, himself setting the example of obedience
to orders; so that, in this way, the sentinel could convince
himself that no one quitted the Bastile improperly. The
carriage rolled along under the archway, but at the moment
the iron-gate was opened, the officer approached the
carriage, which had been again stopped, and said something
to the governor, who immediately put his head out of the
door-way, and perceived Aramis on horseback at the end of
the drawbridge. He immediately uttered almost a shout of
delight, and got out, or rather darted out of his carriage,
running towards Aramis, whose hands he seized, making a
thousand apologies. He almost embraced him. "What a
difficult matter to enter the Bastile!" said Aramis. "Is it
the same for those who are sent here against their wills, as
for those who come of their own accord?"

"A thousand pardons, my lord. How delighted I am to see your
Grace!"

"Hush! What are you thinking of, my dear M. Baisemeaux? What
do you suppose would be thought of a bishop in my present
costume?"

"Pray, excuse me, I had forgotten. Take this gentleman's
horse to the stables," cried Baisemeaux.

"No, no," said Aramis; "I have five thousand pistoles in the
saddle-bags."

The governor's countenance became so radiant, that if the
prisoners had seen him they would have imagined some prince
of the blood royal had arrived. "Yes, you are right, the
horse shall be taken to the government house. Will you get
into the carriage, my dear M. d'Herblay? and it shall take
us back to my house."

"Get into a carriage to cross a courtyard! do you believe I
am so great an invalid? No, no, we will go on foot."

Baisemeaux then offered his arm as a support, but the
prelate did not accept it. They arrived in this manner at
the government house, Baisemeaux rubbing his hands and
glancing at the horse from time to time, while Aramis was
looking at the bleak bare walls. A tolerably handsome
vestibule and a staircase of white stone led to the
governor's apartments, who crossed the ante-chamber, the
dining-room, where breakfast was being prepared, opened a
small side door, and closeted himself with his guest in a
large cabinet, the windows of which opened obliquely upon
the courtyard and the stables. Baisemeaux installed the
prelate with that all-inclusive politeness of which a good
man, or a grateful man, alone possesses the secret. An
arm-chair, a footstool, a small table beside him, on which
to rest his hand, everything was prepared by the governor
himself. With his own hands, too, he placed upon the table,
with much solicitude, the bag containing the gold, which one
of the soldiers had brought up with the most respectful
devotion; and the soldier having left the room, Baisemeaux
himself closed the door after him, drew aside one of the
window-curtains, and looked steadfastly at Aramis to see if
the prelate required anything further.

"Well, my lord," he said, still standing up, "of all men of
their word, you still continue to be the most punctual."

"In matters of business, dear M. de Baisemeaux, exactitude
is not a virtue only, it is a duty as well."

"Yes, in matters of business, certainly; but what you have
with me is not of that character; it is a service you are
rendering me."

"Come, confess, dear M. de Baisemeaux, that, notwithstanding
this exactitude, you have not been without a little
uneasiness."

"About your health, I certainly have," stammered out
Baisemeaux.

"I wished to come here yesterday, but I was not able, as I
was too fatigued," continued Aramis. Baisemeaux anxiously
slipped another cushion behind his guest's back. "But,"
continued Aramis, "I promised myself to come and pay you a
visit to-day, early in the morning."

"You are really very kind, my lord."

"And it was a good thing for me I was punctual, I think."

"What do you mean?"

"Yes, you were going out." At which latter remark Baisemeaux
colored and said, "It is true I was going out."

"Then I prevent you," said Aramis; whereupon the
embarrassment of Baisemeaux became visibly greater. "I am
putting you to inconvenience," he continued, fixing a keen
glance upon the poor governor; "if I had known that, I
should not have come."

"How can your lordship imagine that you could ever
inconvenience me?"

"Confess you were going in search of money."

"No," stammered out Baisemeaux, "no! I assure you I was
going to ---- "

"Does the governor still intend to go to M. Fouquet?"
suddenly called out the major from below. Baisemeaux ran to
the window like a madman. "No, no," he exclaimed in a state
of desperation, "who the deuce is speaking of M. Fouquet?
are you drunk below there? why an I interrupted when I am
engaged on business?"

"You were going to M. Fouquet's," said Aramis biting his
lips, "to M. Fouquet, the abbe, or the superintendent?"

Baisemeaux almost made up his mind to tell an untruth, but
he could not summon courage to do so. "To the
superintendent," he said.

"It is true, then, that you were in want of money, since you
were going to a person who gives it away!"

"I assure you, my lord ---- "

"You were afraid?"

"My dear lord, it was the uncertainty and ignorance in which
I was as to where you were to be found."

"You would have found the money you require at M. Fouquet's,
for he is a man whose hand is always open."

"I swear that I should never have ventured to ask M. Fouquet
for money. I only wished to ask him for your address."

"To ask M. Fouquet for my address?" exclaimed Aramis,
opening his eyes in real astonishment.

"Yes," said Baisemeaux, greatly disturbed by the glance
which the prelate fixed upon him, -- "at M. Fouquet's
certainly."

"There is no harm in that, dear M. Baisemeaux, only I would
ask, why ask my address of M. Fouquet?"

"That I might write to you."

"I understand," said Aramis, smiling, "but that is not what
I meant; I do not ask you what you required my address for;
I only ask why you should go to M. Fouquet for it?"

"Oh!" said Baisemeaux, "as Belle-Isle is the property of M.
Fouquet, and as Belle-Isle is in the diocese of Vannes, and
as you are bishop of Vannes ---- "

"But, my dear Baisemeaux, since you knew I was bishop of
Vannes, you had no occasion to ask M. Fouquet for my
address."

"Well, monsieur," said Baisemeaux, completely at bay, "if I
have acted indiscreetly, I beg your pardon most sincerely."

"Nonsense," observed Aramis, calmly: "how can you possibly
have acted indiscreetly?" And while he composed his face,
and continued to smile cheerfully on the governor, he was
considering how Baisemeaux, who was not aware of his
address, knew, however, that Vannes was his residence. "I
shall clear all this up," he said to himself, and then
speaking aloud, added, -- "Well, my dear governor, shall we
now arrange our little accounts?"

"I am at your orders, my lord; but tell me beforehand, my
lord, whether you will do me the honor to breakfast with me
as usual?"

"Very willingly, indeed."

"Thai's well," said Baisemeaux, as he struck the bell before
him three times.

"What does that mean?" inquired Aramis.

"That I have some one to breakfast with me, and that
preparations are to be made accordingly."

"And you rang thrice. Really, my dear governor, I begin to
think you are acting ceremoniously with me."

"No, indeed. Besides, the least I can do is to receive you
in the best way I can."

"But why so?"

"Because not even a prince could have done what you have
done for me."

"Nonsense! nonsense!"

"Nay, I assure you ---- "

"Let us speak of other matters," said Aramis. "Or rather,
tell me how your affairs here are getting on."

"Not over well."

"The deuce!"

"M. de Mazarin was not hard enough."

"Yes, I see; you require a government full of suspicion --
like that of the old cardinal, for instance."

"Yes; matters went on better under him. The brother of his
`gray eminence' made his fortune here."

"Believe me, my dear governor," said Aramis, drawing closer
to Baisemeaux, "a young king is well worth an old cardinal.
Youth has its suspicions, its fits of anger, its prejudices,
as old age has its hatreds, its precautions, and its fears.
Have you paid your three years' profits to Louviere and
Tremblay?"

"Most certainly I have."

"So that you have nothing more to give them than the fifty
thousand francs I have brought with me?"

"Nothing."

"Have you not saved anything, then?"

"My lord, in giving the fifty thousand francs of my own to
these gentlemen, I assure you that I give them everything I
gain. I told M. d'Artagnan so yesterday evening."

"Ah!" said Aramis, whose eyes sparkled for a moment, but
became immediately afterwards as unmoved as before; "so you
have seen my old friend D'Artagnan; how was he?"

"Wonderfully well."

"And what did you say to him, M. de Baisemeaux?"

"I told him," continued the governor, not perceiving his own
thoughtlessness, "I told him that I fed my prisoners too
well."

"How many have you?" inquired Aramis, in an indifferent tone
of voice.

"Sixty."

"Well, that is a tolerably round number."

"In former times, my lord, there were, during certain years,
as many as two hundred."

"Still a minimum of sixty is not to be grumbled at."

"Perhaps not; for, to anybody but myself, each prisoner
would bring in two hundred and fifty pistoles; for instance,
for a prince of the blood I have fifty francs a day."

"Only you have no prince of the blood; at least, I suppose
so," said Aramis, with a slight tremor in his voice.

"No, thank Heaven! -- I mean, no, unfortunately."

"What do you mean by unfortunately?"

"Because my appointment would be improved by it. So, fifty
francs per day for a prince of the blood, thirty-six for a
marechal of France ---- "

"But you have as many marechals of France, I suppose, as you
have princes of the blood?"

"Alas! no more. It is true lieutenant-generals and
brigadiers pay twenty-six francs, and I have two of them.
After that, come councilors of parliament, who bring me
fifteen francs, and I have six of them."

"I did not know," said Aramis, "that councilors were so
productive."

"Yes, but from fifteen francs I sink at once to ten francs;
namely, for an ordinary judge, and for an ecclesiastic."

"And you have seven, you say; an excellent affair."

"Nay, a bad one, and for this reason. How can I possibly
treat these poor fellows, who are of some good, at all
events, otherwise than as a councilor of parliament?"

"Yes, you are right; I do not see five francs difference
between them."

"You understand; if I have a fine fish, I pay four or five
francs for it; if I get a fine fowl, it costs me a franc and
a half. I fatten a good deal of poultry, but I have to buy
grain, and you cannot imagine the army of rats that infest
this place."

"Why not get half a dozen cats to deal with them?"

"Cats, indeed; yes, they eat them, but I was obliged to give
up the idea because of the way in which they treated my
grain. I have been obliged to have some terrier dogs sent me
from England to kill the rats. These dogs, unfortunately,
have tremendous appetites; they eat as much as a prisoner of
the fifth order, without taking into account the rabbits and
fowls they kill."

Was Aramis really listening or not? No one could have told;
his downcast eyes showed the attentive man; but the restless
hand betrayed the man absorbed in thought -- Aramis was
meditating.

"I was saying," continued Baisemeaux, "that a good-sized
fowl costs me a franc and a half, and that a fine fish costs
me four or five francs. Three meals are served at the
Bastile, and, as the prisoners, having nothing to do, are
always eating, a ten-franc man costs me seven francs and a
half."

"But did you not say that you treated those at ten francs
like those at fifteen?"

"Yes, certainly."

"Very well! Then you gain seven francs and a half upon those
who pay you fifteen francs."

"I must compensate myself somehow," said Baisemeaux, who saw
how he had been snapped up.

"You are quite right, my dear governor; but have you no
prisoners below ten francs?"

"Oh, yes! we have citizens and barristers at five francs.

"And do they eat, too?"

"Not a doubt about it; only you understand that they do not
get fish or poultry, nor rich wines at every meal; but at
all events thrice a week they have a good dish at their
dinner."

"Really, you are quite a philanthropist, my dear governor,
and you will ruin yourself."

"No, understand me; when the fifteen-franc has not eaten his
fowl, or the ten-franc has left his dish unfinished, I send
it to the five-franc prisoner; it is a feast for the poor
devil, and one must be charitable, you know."

"And what do you make out of your five-franc prisoners?"

"A franc and a half."

"Baisemeaux, you're an honest fellow; in honest truth I say
so."

"Thank you, my lord. But I feel most for the small tradesmen
and bailiffs' clerks, who are rated at three francs. They do
not often see Rhine carp or Channel sturgeon."

"But do not the five-franc gentlemen sometimes leave some
scraps?"

"Oh! my lord, do not believe I am so stingy as that; I
delight the heart of some poor little tradesman or clerk by
sending him a wing of a red partridge, a slice of venison,
or a slice of a truffled pasty, dishes which he never tasted
except in his dreams; these are the leavings of the
twenty-four franc prisoners; and as he eats and drinks, at
dessert he cries `Long live the King,' and blesses the
Bastile; with a couple of bottles of champagne, which cost
me five sous, I made him tipsy every Sunday. That class of
people call down blessings upon me, and are sorry to leave
the prison. Do you know that I have remarked, and it does me
infinite honor, that certain prisoners, who have been set at
liberty, have, almost immediately afterwards, got imprisoned
again? Why should this be the case, unless it be to enjoy
the pleasures of my kitchen? It is really the fact."

Aramis smiled with an expression of incredulity.

"You smile," said Baisemeaux.

"I do," returned Aramis.

"I tell you that we have names which have been inscribed on
our books thrice in the space of two years."

"I must see it before I believe it," said Aramis.

"Well, I can show it to you, although it is prohibited to
communicate the registers to strangers; and if you really
wish to see it with your own eyes ---- "

"I should be delighted, I confess."

"Very well," said Baisemeaux, and he took out of a cupboard
a large register. Aramis followed him most anxiously with
his eyes, and Baisemeaux returned, placed the register upon
the table, and turned over the leaves for a minute, and
stayed at the letter M.

"Look here," said he, "Martinier, January, 1659; Martinier,
June, 1660; Martinier, March, 1661. Mazarinades, etc.; you
understand it was only a pretext; people were not sent to
the Bastile for jokes against M. Mazarin; the fellow
denounced himself in order to get imprisoned here."

"And what was his object?"

"None other than to return to my kitchen at three francs a
day,."

"Three francs -- poor devil!"

"The poet, my lord, belongs to the lowest scale, the same
style of board as the small tradesman and bailiff's clerk;
but I repeat, it is to those people only that I give these
little surprises."

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