Part 2 out of 21
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
"Do you desire me to go?" said he. "Explain yourself -- but
"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
"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
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,
"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
"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
"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
"Yes, monsieur, and to my profound regret; for I fear I have
"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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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?
"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
"At first the general would not receive me."
"He took you for a spy?"
"Yes, my lord, but I wrote him a letter."
"He read it, and received me, my lord."
"Did that letter thoroughly explain my position and my
"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!" 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
"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
"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
"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.
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
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
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
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
"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
"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
"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
"But, sire, Blois is only five days, journey from Paris."
"Yes, that is it," said the king: "two years behind for each
"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,
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
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
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
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
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
"Ah!" said he with a shudder.
And he stopped. The rest, both behind and before him,
"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
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
"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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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."
"Because the king has gone to bed."
"Gone to bed already?"
"No matter: I must speak to him."
"And I tell you that is impossible."
"And yet ---- "
"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,
"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
"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
"If I consent to announce you, may I at least know whom to
"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
"You have seen my portrait, then?"
"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 ---- "
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
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
"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
"His Majesty the King of England!" said the officer.
"His Majesty the King of England!" replied the valet de
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
"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
"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
"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
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
"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
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
"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
"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
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
"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
"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."
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
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
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
And the cardinal began to think, counting on his fingers the
"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
"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."
"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
"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?"
"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?"
"And the ciphers?"
"Stand straight under one another."
"Cast them up, Bernouin."
"Thirty-nine millions two hundred and sixty thousand livres,
"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
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
Like a good uncle, Mazarin felt disposed to facilitate the
"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
"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
"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,
"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
"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,