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Ten Years Later

Part 8 out of 21

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head -- it is good, but it is trifling."

"The king will not trifle with Monk, be assured."

"Then you are quite at ease, my lord?"

"On that side, at least! yes, perfectly."

"Oh! I understand you; you are at ease as far as the king is
concerned?"

"I have told you I was."

"But you are not so much so on my account?"

"I thought I had told you that I had faith in your loyalty
and discretion."

"No doubt, no doubt, but you must remember one thing ---- "

"What is that?"

"That I was not alone, that I had companions; and what
companions!"

"Oh! yes, I know them."

"And, unfortunately, my lord, they know you, too!"

"Well?"

"Well; they are yonder, at Boulogne, waiting for me."

"And you fear ---- "

"Yes, I fear that in my absence -- Parbleu! If I were near
them, I could answer for their silence."

"Was I not right in saying that the danger, if there was any
danger, would not come from his majesty, however disposed he
may be to jest, but from your companions, as you say? To be
laughed at by a king may be tolerable, but by the horse-boys
and scamps of the army! Damn it!"

"Yes, I understand, that would be unbearable, that is why,
my lord, I came to say, -- do you not think it would be
better for me to set out for France as soon as possible?"

"Certainly, if you think your presence ---- "

"Would impose silence upon these scoundrels? Oh! I am sure
of that, my lord."

"Your presence will not prevent the report from spreading,
if the tale has already transpired."

"Oh! it has not transpired, my lord, I will wager. At all
events, be assured I am determined upon one thing."

"What is that?"

"To blow out the brains of the first who shall have
propagated that report, and of the first who has heard it.
After which I shall return to England to seek an asylum, and
perhaps employment with your grace."

"Oh, come back! come back!"

"Unfortunately, my lord, I am acquainted with nobody here
but your grace, and if I should no longer find you, or if
you should have forgotten me in your greatness?"

"Listen to me, Monsieur d'Artagnan," replied Monk; "you are
a superior man, full of intelligence and courage; you
deserve all the good fortune this world can bring you; come
with me into Scotland, and, I swear to you, I shall arrange
for you a fate which all may envy."

"Oh! my lord, that is impossible. At present I have a sacred
duty to perform; I have to watch over your glory, I have to
prevent a low jester from tarnishing in the eyes of our
contemporaries -- who knows? in the eyes of posterity -- the
splendor of your name."

"Of posterity, Monsieur d'Artagnan?"

"Doubtless. It is necessary, as regards posterity, that all
the details of that history should remain a mystery; for,
admit that this unfortunate history of the deal box should
spread, and it should be asserted that you had not
re-established the king loyally, and of your own free will,
but in consequence of a compromise entered into at
Scheveningen between you two. It would be vain for me to
declare how the thing came about, for though I know I should
not be believed, it would be said that I had received my
part of the cake, and was eating it."

Monk knitted his brow. -- "Glory, honor, probity!" said he,
"you are but empty words."

"Mist!" replied D'Artagnan; "nothing but mist, through which
nobody can see clearly."

"Well, then, go to France, my dear Monsieur d'Artagnan,"
said Monk; "go, and to render England more attractive and
agreeable to you, accept a remembrance of me.

"What now?" thought D'Artagnan.

"I have on the banks of the Clyde," continued Monk, "a
little house in a grove, cottage as it is called here. To
this house are attached a hundred acres of land. Accept it
as a souvenir."

"Oh my lord! ---- "

"Faith! you will be there in your own home, and that will be
the place of refuge you spoke of just now."

"For me to be obliged to your lordship to such an extent!
Really, your grace, I am ashamed."

"Not at all, not at all, monsieur," replied Monk, with an
arch smile; "it is I who shall be obliged to you. And,"
pressing the hand of the musketeer, "I shall go and draw up
the deed of gift," -- and he left the room.

D'Artagnan looked at him as he went out with something of a
pensive and even an agitated air.

"After all," said he, "he is a brave man. It is only a sad
reflection that it is from fear of me, and not affection
that he acts thus. Well, I shall endeavor that affection may
follow." Then, after an instant's deeper reflection, --
"Bah!" said he, "to what purpose? He is an Englishman." And
he in his turn went out, a little confused after the combat.

"So," said he, "I am a land-owner! But how the devil am I to
share the cottage with Planchet? Unless I give him the land,
and I take the chateau, or that he takes the house and I --
nonsense! M. Monk will never allow me to share a house he
has inhabited, with a grocer. He is too proud for that.
Besides, why should I say anything about it to him? It was
not with the money of the company I have acquired that
property, it was with my mother-wit alone; it is all mine,
then. So, now I will go and find Athos." And he directed his
steps towards the dwelling of the Comte de la Fere

CHAPTER 37

How D'Artagnan regulated the "Assets" of the
Company before he established its "Liabilities"

"Decidedly," said D'Artagnan to himself, "I have struck a
good vein. That star which shines once in the life of every
man, which shone for Job and Iris, the most unfortunate of
the Jews and the poorest of the Greeks, is come at last to
shine on me. I will commit no folly, I will take advantage
of it; it comes quite late enough to find me reasonable."

He supped that evening, in very good humor, with his friend
Athos; he said nothing to him about the expected donation,
but he could not forbear questioning his friend, while
eating, about country produce, sowing, and planting. Athos
replied complacently, as he always did. His idea was that
D'Artagnan wished to become a land-owner, only he could not
help regretting, more than once, the absence of the lively
humor and amusing sallies of the cheerful companion of
former days. In fact, D'Artagnan was so absorbed, that, with
his knife, he took advantage of the grease left at the
bottom of his plate, to trace ciphers and make additions of
surprising rotundity.

The order, or rather license, for their embarkation, arrived
at Athos's lodgings that evening. While this paper was
remitted to the comte, another messenger brought to
D'Artagnan a little bundle of parchments, adorned with all
the seals employed in setting off property deeds in England.
Athos surprised him turning over the leaves of these
different acts which establish the transmission of property.
The prudent Monk -- others would say the generous Monk --
had commuted the donation into a sale, and acknowledged the
receipt of the sum of fifteen thousand crowns as the price
of the property ceded. The messenger was gone. D'Artagnan
still continued reading, Athos watched him with a smile.
D'Artagnan, surprising one of those smiles over his
shoulder, put the bundle in its wrapper.

"I beg your pardon," said Athos.

"Oh! not at all, my friend," replied the lieutenant, "I
shall tell you ---- "

"No, don't tell me anything, I beg you; orders are things so
sacred, that to one's brother, one's father, the person
charged with such orders should never open his mouth. Thus
I, who speak to you, and love you more tenderly than
brother, father, or all the world ---- "

"Except your Raoul?"

"I shall love Raoul still better when he shall be a man, and
I shall have seen him develop himself in all the phases of
his character and his actions -- as I have seen you, my
friend."

"You said, then, that you had an order likewise, and that
you would not communicate it to me."

"Yes, my dear D'Artagnan."

The Gascon sighed. "There was a time," said he, "when you
would have placed that order open upon the table, saying,
`D'Artagnan, read this scrawl to Porthos, Aramis, and to
me.'"

"That is true. Oh! that was the time of youth, confidence,
the generous season when the blood commands, when it is
warmed by feeling!"

"Well! Athos, will you allow me to tell you?"

"Speak, my friend!"

"That delightful time, that generous season, that ruling by
warm blood, were all very fine things, no doubt; but I do
not regret them at all. It is absolutely like the period of
studies. I have constantly met with fools who would boast of
the days of pensums, ferules and crusts of dry bread. It is
singular, but I never loved all that; for my part, however
active and sober I might be (you know if I was so, Athos),
however simple I might appear in my clothes, I would not the
less have preferred the braveries and embroideries of
Porthos to my little perforated cassock, which gave passage
to the wind in winter and the sun in summer. I should
always, my friend, mistrust him who would pretend to prefer
evil to good. Now, in times past all went wrong with me, and
every month found a fresh hole in my cassock and in my skin,
a gold crown less in my poor purse; of that execrable time
of small beer and see-saw, I regret absolutely nothing,
nothing, nothing save our friendship; for within me I have a
heart, and it is a miracle that heart has not been dried up
by the wind of poverty which passed through the holes of my
cloak, or pierced by the swords of all shapes which passed
through the holes in my poor flesh."

"Do not regret our friendship," said Athos, "that will only
die with ourselves. Friendship is composed, above all
things, of memories and habits, and if you have just now
made a little satire upon mine, because I hesitate to tell
you the nature of my mission into France ---- "

"Who! I? -- Oh! heavens! if you knew, my dear friend, how
indifferent all the missions of the world will henceforth
become to me!" And he laid his hand upon the parchment in
his vest pocket.

Athos rose from the table and called the host in order to
pay the reckoning.

"Since I have known you, my friend," said D'Artagnan, "I
have never discharged the reckoning. Porthos often did,
Aramis sometimes, and you, you almost always drew out your
purse with the dessert. I am now rich and should like to try
if it is heroic to pay."

"Do so," said Athos; returning his purse to his pocket.

The two friends then directed their steps towards the port,
not, however, without D'Artagnan's frequently turning round
to watch the transportation of his dear crowns. Night had
just spread her thick veil over the yellow waters of the
Thames; they heard those noises of casks and pulleys, the
preliminaries of preparing to sail which had so many times
made the hearts of the musketeers beat when the dangers of
the sea were the least of those they were going to face.
This time they were to embark on board a large vessel which
awaited them at Gravesend, and Charles II., always delicate
in small matters, had sent one of his yachts, with twelve
men of his Scotch guard, to do honor to the ambassador he
was sending to France. At midnight the yacht had deposited
its passengers on board the vessel, and at eight o'clock in
the morning, the vessel landed the ambassador and his friend
on the wharf at Boulogne. Whilst the comte, with Grimaud,
was busy procuring horses to go straight to Paris,
D'Artagnan hastened to the hostelry where, according to his
orders, his little army was to wait for him. These gentlemen
were at breakfast upon oysters, fish, and spiced brandy,
when D'Artagnan appeared. They were all very gay, but not
one of them had yet exceeded the bounds of reason. A hurrah
of joy welcomed the general. "Here I am," said D'Artagnan,
"the campaign is ended. I am come to bring to each his
supplement of pay, as agreed upon." Their eyes sparkled. "I
will lay a wager there are not, at this moment, a hundred
crowns remaining in the purse of the richest among you."

"That is true," cried they in chorus.

"Gentlemen," said D'Artagnan, "then, this is the last order.
The treaty of commerce has been concluded thanks to our
coup-de-main which made us masters of the most skillful
financier of England, for now I am at liberty to confess to
you that the man we had to carry off was the treasurer of
General Monk."

This word treasurer produced a certain effect on his army.
D'Artagnan observed that the eyes of Menneville alone did
not evince perfect faith. "This treasurer," he continued, "I
conveyed to a neutral territory, Holland; I forced him to
sign the treaty; I have even reconducted him to Newcastle,
and as he was obliged to be satisfied with our proceedings
towards him -- the deal coffer being always carried without
jolting, and being lined softly, I asked for a gratification
for you. Here it is." He threw a respectable-looking purse
upon the cloth; and all involuntarily stretched out their
hands. "One moment, my lambs," said D'Artagnan; "if there
are profits, there are also charges."

"Oh! oh!" murmured they.

"We are about to find ourselves, my friends, in a position
that would not be tenable for people without brains. I speak
plainly: we are between the gallows and the Bastile."

"Oh! oh!" said the chorus.

"That is easily understood. It was necessary to explain to
General Monk the disappearance of his treasurer. I waited,
for that purpose, till the very unhopedfor moment of the
restoration of King Charles II., who is one of my friends."

The army exchanged a glance of satisfaction in reply to the
sufficiently proud look of D'Artagnan. "The king being
restored, I restored to Monk his man of business, a little
plucked, it is true, but, in short, I restored him. Now,
General Monk, when he pardoned me, for he has pardoned me,
could not help repeating these words to me, which I charge
every one of you to engrave deeply there, between the eyes,
under the vault of the cranium: -- `Monsieur, the joke has
been a good one, but I don't naturally like jokes; if ever a
word of what you have done' (you understand me, Menneville)
`escapes from your lips, or the lips of your companions, I
have, in my government of Scotland and Ireland, seven
hundred and forty-one wooden gibbets, of strong oak, clamped
with iron, and freshly greased every week. I will make a
present of one of these gibbets to each of you, and observe
well, M. d'Artagnan,' added he (observe it also, M.
Menneville), `I shall still have seven hundred and thirty
left for my private pleasure. And still further ---- '"

"Ah! ah!" said the auxiliaries, "is there more still?"

"A mere trifle. `Monsieur d'Artagnan, I send to the king of
France the treaty in question, with a request that he will
cast into the Bastile provisionally, and then send to me,
all who have taken part in this expedition; and that is a
prayer with which the king will certainly comply.'"

A cry of terror broke from all corners of the table.

"There! there! there," said D'Artagnan, "this brave M. Monk
has forgotten one thing, and that is he does not know the
name of any one of you, I alone know you, and it is not I,
you may well believe, who will betray you. Why should I? As
for you -- I cannot suppose you will be silly enough to
denounce yourselves, for then the king, to spare himself the
expense of feeding and lodging you, will send you off to
Scotland, where the seven hundred and forty-one gibbets are
to be found. That is all, messieurs; I have not another word
to add to what I have had the honor to tell you. I am sure
you have understood me perfectly well, have you not, M.
Menneville?"

"Perfectly," replied the latter.

"Now the crowns!" said D'Artagnan. "Shut the doors," he
cried, and opened the bag upon the table, from which rolled
several fine gold crowns. Every one made a movement towards
the floor.

"Gently!" cried D'Artagnan. "Let no one stoop, and then I
shall not be out in my reckoning." He found it all right,
gave fifty of those splendid crowns to each man, and
received as many benedictions as he bestowed pieces. "Now,"
said he, "if it were possible for you to reform a little, if
you could become good and honest citizens ---- "

"That is rather difficult," said one of the troop.

"What then, captain?" said another.

"Because I might be able to find you again, and, who knows
what other good fortune?" He made a sign to Menneville, who
listened to all he said with a composed air. "Menneville,"
said he, "come with me. Adieu my brave fellows! I need not
warn you to be discreet."

Menneville followed him, whilst the salutations of the
auxiliaries were mingled with the sweet sound of the money
clinking in their pockets.

"Menneville," said D'Artagnan, when they were once in the
street, "you were not my dupe; beware of being so. You did
not appear to me to have any fear of the gibbets of Monk, or
the Bastile of his majesty, King Louis XIV., but you will do
me the favor of being afraid of me. Then listen at the
smallest word that shall escape you, I will kill you as I
would a fowl. I have absolution from our holy father, the
pope, in my pocket."

"I assure you I know absolutely nothing, my dear M.
d'Artagnan, and that your words have all been to me so many
articles of faith."

"I was quite sure you were an intelligent fellow," said the
musketeer; "I have tried you for a length of time. These
fifty gold crowns which I give you above the rest will prove
the esteem I have for you. Take them."

"Thanks, Monsieur d'Artagnan," said Menneville.

"With that sum you can really become an honest man," replied
D'Artagnan, in the most serious tone possible. "It would be
disgraceful for a mind like yours, and a name you no longer
dare to bear, to sink forever under the rust of an evil
life. Become a gallant man, Menneville, and live for a year
upon those hundred gold crowns: it is a good provision;
twice the pay of a high officer. In a year come to me, and,
Mordioux! I will make something of you."

Menneville swore, as his comrades had sworn, that he would
be as silent as the grave. And yet some one must have
spoken; and as, certainly, it was not one of the nine
companions, and quite as certainly, it was not Menneville,
it must have been D'Artagnan, who, in his quality of a
Gascon, had his tongue very near to his lips. For, in short,
if it were not he, who could it be? And how can it be
explained that the secret of the deal coffer pierced with
holes should come to our knowledge, and in so complete a
fashion that we have, as has been seen, related the history
of it in all its most minute details; details which,
besides, throw a light as new as unexpected upon all that
portion of the history of England which has been left, up to
the present day, completely in darkness by the historian of
our neighbors?

CHAPTER 38

In which it is seen that the French Grocer
had already been established in the Seventeenth Century

His accounts once settled, and his recommendations made,
D'Artagnan thought of nothing but returning to Paris as soon
as possible. Athos, on his part, was anxious to reach home
and to rest a little. However whole the character and the
man may remain after the fatigues of a voyage, the traveler
perceives with pleasure, at the close of the day -- even
though the day has been a fine one -- that night is
approaching, and will bring a little sleep with it. So, from
Boulogne to Paris, jogging on, side by side, the two
friends, in some degree absorbed each in his individual
thoughts, conversed of nothing sufficiently interesting for
us to repeat to our readers. Each of them given up to his
personal reflections, and constructing his future after his
own fashion, was, above all, anxious to abridge the distance
by speed. Athos and D'Artagnan arrived at the gates of Paris
on the evening of the fourth day after leaving Boulogne.

"Where are you going, my friend?" asked Athos. "I shall
direct my course straight to my hotel."

"And I straight to my partner's."

"To Planchet's?"

"Yes; at the Pilon d'Or."

"Well, but shall we not meet again?"

"If you remain in Paris, yes, for I shall stay here."

"No: after having embraced Raoul, with whom I have appointed
a meeting at my hotel, I shall set out immediately for La
Fere."

"Well, adieu, then, dear and true friend."

"Au revoir! I should rather say, for why can you not come
and live with me at Blois? You are free, you are rich, I
shall purchase for you, if you like, a handsome estate in
the vicinity of Chiverny or of Bracieux. On the one side you
will have the finest woods in the world, which join those of
Chambord; on the other, admirable marshes. You who love
sporting, and who, whether you admit it or not, are a poet,
my dear friend, you will find pheasants, rail and teal,
without counting sunsets and excursions on the water, to
make you fancy yourself Nimrod and Apollo themselves. While
awaiting the purchase, you can live at La Fere, and we shall
go together to fly our hawks among the vines, as Louis XIII.
used to do. That is a quiet amusement for old fellows like
us."

D'Artagnan took the hands of Athos in his own. "Dear count,"
said he, "I shall say neither `Yes' nor `No.' Let me pass in
Paris the time necessary for the regulation of my affairs,
and accustom myself, by degrees, to the heavy and glittering
idea which is beating in my brain and dazzles me. I am rich,
you see, and from this moment until the time when I shall
have acquired the habit of being rich, I know myself, and I
shall be an insupportable animal. Now, I am not enough of a
fool to wish to appear to have lost my wits before a friend
like you, Athos. The cloak is handsome, the cloak is richly
gilded, but it is new, and does not seem to fit me."

Athos smiled. "So be it," said he. "But a propos of this
cloak, dear D'Artagnan, will you allow me to offer you a
little advice?"

"Yes, willingly."

"You will not be angry?"

"Proceed."

"When wealth comes to a man late in life or all at once,
that man, in order not to change, must most likely become a
miser -- that is to say, not spend much more money than he
had done before; or else become a prodigal, and contract so
many debts as to become poor again."

"Oh! but what you say looks very much like a sophism, my
dear philosophic friend."

"I do not think so. Will you become a miser?"

"No, pardieu! I was one already, having nothing. Let us
change."

"Then be prodigal."

"Still less, Mordioux! Debts terrify me. Creditors appear to
me, by anticipation like those devils who turn the damned
upon the gridirons, and as patience is not my dominant
virtue, I am always tempted to thrash those devils."

"You are the wisest man I know, and stand in no need of
advice from any one. Great fools must they be who think they
have anything to teach you. But are we not at the Rue Saint
Honore?"

"Yes, dear Athos."

"Look yonder, on the left, that small, long white house is
the hotel where I lodge. You may observe that it has but two
stories; I occupy the first; the other is let to an officer
whose duties oblige him to be absent eight or nine months in
the year, -- so I am in that house as in my own home,
without the expense."

"Oh! how well you manage, Athos! What order and what
liberality! They are what I wish to unite! But, of what use
trying! that comes from birth, and cannot be acquired."

"You are a flatterer! Well! adieu, dear friend. A propos,
remember me to Master Planchet; he was always a bright
fellow."

"And a man of heart, too, Athos. Adieu."

And they separated. During all this conversation, D'Artagnan
had not for a moment lost sight of a certain pack-horse, in
whose panniers, under some hay, were spread the sacoches
(messenger's bags) with the portmanteau. Nine o'clock was
striking at Saint-Merri. Planchet's helps were shutting up
his shop. D'Artagnan stopped the postilion who rode the
pack-horse, at the corner of the Rue des Lombards, under a
penthouse, and calling one of Planchet's boys, he desired
him not only to take care of the two horses, but to watch
the postilion; after which he entered the shop of the
grocer, who had just finished supper, and who, in his little
private room, was, with a degree of anxiety, consulting the
calendar, on which, every evening, he scratched out the day
that was past. At the moment when Planchet, according to his
daily custom, with the back of his pen, erased another day,
D'Artagnan kicked the door with his foot, and the blow made
his steel spur jingle. "Oh! good Lord!" cried Planchet. The
worthy grocer could say no more; he had just perceived his
partner. D'Artagnan entered with a bent back and a dull eye:
the Gascon had an idea with regard to Planchet.

"Good God!" thought the grocer, looking earnestly at the
traveler, "he looks sad!" The musketeer sat down.

"My dear Monsieur d'Artagnan!" said Planchet, with a
horrible palpitation of the heart. "Here you are! and your
health?"

"Tolerably good, Planchet, tolerably good!" said D'Artagnan,
with a profound sigh.

"You have not been wounded, I hope?"

"Phew!"

"Ah, I see," continued Planchet, more and more alarmed, "the
expedition has been a trying one?"

"Yes," said D'Artagnan. A shudder ran down Planchet's back.
"I should like to have something to drink," said the
musketeer, raising his head piteously.

Planchet ran to the cupboard, and poured out to D'Artagnan
some wine in a large glass. D'Artagnan examined the bottle.

"What wine is that?" asked he.

"Alas! that which you prefer, monsieur," said Planchet;
"that good old Anjou wine, which was one day nearly costing
us all so dear."

"Ah!" replied D'Artagnan, with a melancholy smile, "Ah! my
poor Planchet, ought I still to drink good wine?"

"Come! my dear master," said Planchet, making a superhuman
effort, whilst all his contracted muscles, his pallor, and
his trembling, betrayed the most acute anguish. "Come! I
have been a soldier and consequently have some courage; do
not make me linger, dear Monsieur d'Artagnan; our money is
lost, is it not?"

Before he answered, D'Artagnan took his time, and that
appeared an age to the poor grocer. Nevertheless he did
nothing but turn about on his chair.

"And if that were the case," said he, slowly, moving his
head up and down, "if that were the case, what would you
say, my dear friend?"

Planchet, from being pale, turned yellow. It might have been
thought he was going to swallow his tongue, so full became
his throat, so red were his eyes!

"Twenty thousand livres!" murmured he. "Twenty thousand
livres, and yet ---- "

D'Artagnan, with his neck elongated, his legs stretched out,
and his hands hanging listlessly, looked like a statue of
discouragement. Planchet drew up a sigh from the deepest
cavities of his breast.

"Well," said he, "I see how it is. Let us be men! It is all
over, is it not? The principal thing is, monsieur, that your
life is safe."

"Doubtless! doubtless! -- life is something -- but I am
ruined!"

"Cordieu! monsieur!" said Planchet, "if it is so, we must
not despair for that; you shall become a grocer with me; I
shall take you for my partner, we will share the profits,
and if there should be no more profits, well, why then we
shall share the almonds, raisins and prunes, and we will
nibble together the last quarter of Dutch cheese."

D'Artagnan could hold out no longer. "Mordioux!" cried he,
with great emotion, "thou art a brave fellow on my honor,
Planchet. You have not been playing a part, have you? You
have not seen the pack-horse with the bags under the shed
yonder?"

"What horse? What bags?" said Planchet, whose trembling
heart began to suggest that D'Artagnan was mad.

"Why, the English bags, Mordioux!" said D'Artagnan, all
radiant, quite transfigured.

"Ah! good God!" articulated Planchet, drawing back before
the dazzling fire of his looks.

"Imbecile!" cried D'Artagnan, "you think me mad! Mordioux!
On the contrary, never was my head more clear, or my heart
more joyous. To the bags, Planchet, to the bags!"

"But to what bags, good heavens!"

D'Artagnan pushed Planchet towards the window.

"Under the shed yonder, don't you see a horse?"

"Yes."

"Don't you see how his back is laden?"

"Yes, yes!"

"Don't you see your lad talking with the postilion?"

"Yes, yes, yes!"

"Well, you know the name of that lad, because he is your
own. Call him."

"Abdon! Abdon!" vociferated Planchet, from the window.

"Bring the horse!" shouted D'Artagnan.

"Bring the horse!" screamed Planchet.

"Now give ten crowns to the postilion," said D'Artagnan, in
the tone he would have employed in commanding a maneuver;
"two lads to bring up the two first bags, two to bring up
the two last, -- and move, Mordioux! be lively!"

Planchet rushed down the stairs, as if the devil had been at
his heels. A moment later the lads ascended the staircase,
bending beneath their burden. D'Artagnan sent them off to
their garrets, carefully closed the door, and addressing
Planchet, who, in his turn, looked a little wild, --

"Now, we are by ourselves," said he, and he spread upon the
floor a large cover, and emptied the first bag into it.
Planchet did the same with the second; then D'Artagnan, all
in a tremble, let out the precious bowels of the third with
a knife. When Planchet heard the provoking sound of the
silver and gold -- when he saw bubbling out of the bags the
shining crowns, which glittered like fish from the sweep-net
-- when he felt himself plunging his hands up to the elbow
in that still rising tide of yellow and white coins, a
giddiness seized him, and like a man struck by lightning, he
sank heavily down upon the enormous heap, which his weight
caused to roll away in all directions. Planchet, suffocated
with joy, had lost his senses. D'Artagnan threw a glass of
white wine in his face, which incontinently recalled him to
life.

"Ah! good heavens! good heavens! good heavens!" said
Planchet, wiping his mustache and beard.

At that time, as they do now, grocers wore the cavalier
mustache and the lansquenet beard, only the money baths,
already rare in those days, have become almost unknown now.

"Mordieux!" said D'Artagnan, "there are a hundred thousand
crowns for you, partner. Draw your share, if you please, and
I will draw mine."

"Oh! the lovely sum! Monsieur d'Artagnan, the lovely sum!"

"I confess that half an hour ago I regretted that I had to
give you so much, but I now no longer regret it; thou art a
brave grocer, Planchet. There, let us close our accounts,
for, as they say, short reckonings make long friends."

"Oh! rather, in the first place, tell me the whole history,"
said Planchet; "that must be better than the money."

"Ma foi!" said D'Artagnan, stroking his mustache, "I can't
say no, and if ever the historian turns to me for
information, he will be able to say he has not dipped his
bucket into a dry spring. Listen, then, Planchet, I will
tell you all about it."

"And I shall build piles of crowns," said Planchet. "Begin,
my dear master."

"Well, this is it," said D'Artagnan, drawing breath.

"And that is it," said Planchet, picking up his first
handful of crowns.

CHAPTER 39

Mazarin's Gaming Party

In a large chamber of the Palais Royal, hung with a dark
colored velvet, which threw into strong relief the gilded
frames of a great number of magnificent pictures, on the
evening of the arrival of the two Frenchmen, the whole court
was assembled before the alcove of M. le Cardinal de
Mazarin, who gave a card party to the king and queen.

A small screen separated three prepared tables. At one of
these tables the king and the two queens were seated. Louis
XIV., placed opposite to the young queen, his wife, smiled
upon her with an expression of real happiness. Anne of
Austria held the cards against the cardinal, and her
daughter-in-law assisted her in the game, when she was not
engaged in smiling at her husband. As for the cardinal, who
was lying on his bed with a weary and careworn face, his
cards were held by the Comtesse de Soissons, and he watched
them with an incessant look of interest and cupidity.

The cardinal's face had been painted by Bernouin; but the
rouge, which glowed only on his cheeks, threw into stronger
contrast the sickly pallor of his countenance and the
shining yellow of his brow. His eyes alone acquired a more
brilliant luster from this auxiliary, and upon those sick
man's eyes were, from time to time, turned the uneasy looks
of the king, the queen, and the courtiers. The fact is, that
the two eyes of the Signor Mazarin were the stars more or
less brilliant in which the France of the seventeenth
century read its destiny every evening and every morning.

Monseigneur neither won nor lost; he was, therefore neither
gay nor sad. It was a stagnation in which, full of pity for
him, Anne of Austria would not have willingly left him; but
in order to attract the attention of the sick man by some
brilliant stroke, she must have either won or lost. To win
would have been dangerous, because Mazarin would have
changed his indifference into an ugly grimace; to lose would
likewise have been dangerous, because she must have cheated,
and the infanta, who watched her game, would, doubtless,
have exclaimed against her partiality for Mazarin. Profiting
by this calm, the courtiers were chatting. When not in a bad
humor, M. de Mazarin was a very debonnaire prince, and he,
who prevented nobody from singing, provided they paid, was
not tyrant enough to prevent people from talking, provided
they made up their minds to lose.

They were therefore chatting. At the first table, the king's
younger brother, Philip, Duc d'Anjou, was admiring his
handsome face in the glass of a box. His favorite, the
Chevalier de Lorraine, leaning over the back of the prince's
chair, was listening, with secret envy, to the Comte de
Guiche, another of Philip's favorites, who was relating in
choice terms the various vicissitudes of fortune of the
royal adventurer Charles II. He told, as so many fabulous
events, all the history of his perigrinations in Scotland,
and his terrors when the enemy's party was so closely on his
track, of nights spent in trees, and days spent in hunger
and combats. By degrees, the fate of the unfortunate king
interested his auditors so greatly, that the play languished
even at the royal table, and the young king, with a pensive
look and downcast eye, followed, without appearing to give
any attention to it, the smallest details of this Odyssey,
very picturesquely related by the Comte de Guiche.

The Comtesse de Soissons interrupted the narrator: "Confess,
count, you are inventing."

"Madame, I am repeating like a parrot all the stories
related to me by different Englishmen. To my shame I am
compelled to say, I am as exact as a copy."

"Charles II. would have died before he could have endured
all that."

Louis XIV. raised his intelligent and proud head. "Madame,"
said he, in a grave tone, still partaking something of the
timid child, "monsieur le cardinal will tell you that during
my minority the affairs of France were in jeopardy, -- and
that if I had been older, and obliged to take sword in hand,
it would sometimes have been for the evening meal."

"Thanks to God," said the cardinal, who spoke for the first
time, "your majesty exaggerates, and your supper has always
been ready with that of your servants."

The king colored.

"Oh!" cried Philip, inconsiderately, from his place, and
without ceasing to admire himself, -- "I recollect once, at
Melun, the supper was laid for nobody, and that the king ate
two-thirds of a slice of bread, and abandoned to me the
other third."

The whole assembly, seeing Mazarin smile, began to laugh.
Courtiers flatter kings with the remembrance of past
distresses, as with the hopes of future good fortune.

"It is not to be denied that the crown of France has always
remained firm upon the heads of its kings," Anne of Austria
hastened to say, "and that it has fallen off of that of the
king of England; and when by chance that crown oscillated a
little, -- for there are throne-quakes as well as
earthquakes, -- every time, I say, that rebellion threatened
it, a good victory restored tranquillity."

"With a few gems added to the crown," said Mazarin.

The Comte de Guiche was silent: the king composed his
countenance, and Mazarin exchanged looks with Anne of
Austria, as if to thank her for her intervention.

"It is of no consequence," said Philip, smoothing his hair;
"my cousin Charles is not handsome, but he is very brave,
and fought like a landsknecht; and if he continues to fight
thus, no doubt he will finish by gaining a battle, like
Rocroy ---- "

"He has no soldiers," interrupted the Chevalier de Lorraine.

"The king of Holland, his ally, will give him some. I would
willingly have given him some if I had been king of France."

Louis XIV. blushed excessively. Mazarin affected to be more
attentive to his game than ever.

"By this time," resumed the Comte de Guiche, "the fortune of
this unhappy prince is decided. If he has been deceived by
Monk, he is ruined. Imprisonment, perhaps death, will finish
what exile, battles, and privations have commenced."

Mazarin's brow became clouded.

"Is it certain," said Louis XIV. "that his majesty Charles
II., has quitted the Hague?"

"Quite certain, your majesty," replied the young man; "my
father has received a letter containing all the details; it
is even known that the king has landed at Dover; some
fishermen saw him entering the port; the rest is still a
mystery."

"I should like to know the rest," said Philip, impetuously.
"You know, -- you, my brother."

Louis XIV. colored again. That was the third time within an
hour. "Ask my lord cardinal," replied he, in a tone which
made Mazarin, Anne of Austria, and everybody else open their
eyes.

"That means, my son," said Anne of Austria, laughing, "that
the king does not like affairs of state to be talked of out
of the council."

Philip received the reprimand with good grace, and bowed,
first smiling at his brother, and then his mother. But
Mazarin saw from the corner of his eye that a group was
about to be formed in the corner of the room, and that the
Duc d'Anjou, with the Comte de Guiche, and the Chevalier de
Lorraine, prevented from talking aloud, might say, in a
whisper, what it was not convenient should be said. He was
beginning, then, to dart at them glances full of mistrust
and uneasiness, inviting Anne of Austria to throw
perturbation in the midst of the unlawful assembly, when,
suddenly, Bernouin, entering from behind the tapestry of the
bedroom, whispered in the ear of Mazarin, "Monseigneur, an
envoy from his majesty, the king of England."

Mazarin could not help exhibiting a slight emotion, which
was perceived by the king. To avoid being indiscreet, rather
than to appear useless, Louis XIV. rose immediately, and
approaching his eminence, wished him good-night. All the
assembly had risen with a great noise of rolling of chairs
and tables being pushed away.

"Let everybody depart by degrees," said Mazarin in a whisper
to Louis XIV., "and be so good as to excuse me a few
minutes. I am going to dispatch an affair about which I wish
to converse with your majesty this very evening."

"And the queens?" asked Louis XIV.

"And M. le Duc d'Anjou," said his eminence.

At the same time he turned round in his ruelle, the curtains
of which, in falling, concealed the bed. The cardinal,
nevertheless, did not lose sight of the conspirators.

"M. le Comte de Guiche," said he, in a fretful voice, whilst
putting on, behind the curtain, his dressing-gown, with the
assistance of Bernouin.

"I am here, my lord," said the young man, as he approached.

"Take my cards, you are lucky. Win a little money for me of
these gentlemen."

"Yes, my lord."

The young man sat down at the table from which the king
withdrew to talk with the two queens. A serious game was
commenced between the comte and several rich courtiers. In
the meantime Philip was discussing the questions of dress
with the Chevalier de Lorraine, and they had ceased to hear
the rustling of the cardinal's silk robe from behind the
curtain. His eminence had followed Bernouin into the closet
adjoining the bedroom.

CHAPTER 40

An Affair of State

The cardinal, on passing into his cabinet, found the Comte
de la Fere, who was waiting for him, engaged in admiring a
very fine Raphael placed over a sideboard covered with
plate. His eminence came in softly, lightly, and silently as
a shadow, and surprised the countenance of the comte, as he
was accustomed to do, pretending to divine by the simple
expression of the face of his interlocutor what would be the
result of the conversation.

But this time Mazarin was foiled in his expectation: he read
nothing upon the face of Athos, not even the respect he was
accustomed to see on all faces. Athos was dressed in black,
with a simple lacing of silver. He wore the Holy Ghost, the
Garter, and the Golden Fleece, three orders of such
importance, that a king alone, or else a player, could wear
them at once.

Mazarin rummaged a long time in his somewhat troubled memory
to recall the name he ought to give to this icy figure, but
he did not succeed. "I am told," said he, at length, "you
have a message from England for me."

And he sat down, dismissing Bernouin, who, in his quality of
secretary, was getting his pen ready.

"On the part of his majesty, the king of England, yes, your
eminence."

"You speak very good French for an Englishman monsieur,"
said Mazarin, graciously, looking through his fingers at the
Holy Ghost, Garter, and Golden Fleece, but more particularly
at the face of the messenger.

"I am not an Englishman, but a Frenchman, monsieur le
cardinal," replied Athos.

"It is remarkable that the king of England should choose a
Frenchman for his ambassador; it is an excellent augury.
Your name, monsieur, if you please."

"Comte de la Fere," replied Athos, bowing more slightly than
the ceremonial and pride of the all-powerful minister
required.

Mazarin bent his shoulders, as if to say: --

"I do not know that name."

Athos did not alter his carriage.

"And you come, monsieur," continued Mazarin, "to tell me
---- "

"I come on the part of his majesty the king of Great Britain
to announce to the king of France" -- Mazarin frowned -- "to
announce to the king of France," continued Athos,
imperturbably, "the happy restoration of his majesty Charles
II. to the throne of his ancestors."

This shade did not escape his cunning eminence. Mazarin was
too much accustomed to mankind, not to see in the cold and
almost haughty politeness of Athos, an index of hostility,
which was not of the temperature of that hot-house called a
court.

"You have powers. I suppose?" asked Mazarin, in a short,
querulous tone.

"Yes, monseigneur." And the word "monseigneur" came so
painfully from the lips of Athos that it might be said it
skinned them.

Athos took from an embroidered velvet bag which he carried
under his doublet a dispatch. The cardinal held out his hand
for it. "Your pardon, monseigneur," said Athos. "My dispatch
is for the king."

"Since you are a Frenchman, monsieur, you ought to know the
position of a prime minister at the court of France."

"There was a time," replied Athos, "when I occupied myself
with the importance of prime ministers, but I have formed,
long ago, a resolution to treat no longer with any but the
king."

"Then, monsieur," said Mazarin, who began to be irritated,
"you will neither see the minister nor the king."

Mazarin rose. Athos replaced his dispatch in its bag, bowed
gravely, and made several steps towards the door. This
coolness exasperated Mazarin. "What strange diplomatic
proceedings are these!" cried he. "Have we returned to the
times when Cromwell sent us bullies in the guise of charges
d'affaires? You want nothing monsieur, but the steel cap on
your head, and a Bible at your girdle."

"Monsieur," said Athos, dryly, "I have never had, as you
have, the advantage of treating with Cromwell; and I have
only seen his charges d'affaires sword in hand, I am
therefore ignorant of how he treated with prime ministers.
As for the king of England, Charles II., I know that when he
writes to his majesty King Louis XIV., he does not write to
his eminence the Cardinal Mazarin. I see no diplomacy in
that distinction."

"Ah!" cried Mazarin, raising his attenuated hand and
striking his head, "I remember now!" Athos looked at him in
astonishment. "Yes, that is it!" said the cardinal,
continuing to look at his interlocutor; "yes, that is
certainly it. I know you now, monsieur. Ah! diavolo! I am no
longer astonished."

"In fact, I was astonished that, with your eminence's
excellent memory," replied Athos, smiling, "you had not
recognized me before."

"Always refractory and grumbling -- monsieur -- monsieur --
What do they call you? Stop -- a name of a river -- Potamos;
no -- the name of an island -- Naxos; no, per Giove! -- the
name of a mountain -- Athos! now I have it. Delighted to see
you again, and to be no longer at Rueil, where you and your
damned companions made me pay ransom. Fronde! still Fronde!
accursed Fronde! Oh, what grudges! Why, monsieur, have your
antipathies survived mine? If any one had cause to complain,
I think it could not be you, who got out of the affair not
only in a sound skin, but with the cordon of the Holy Ghost
around your neck."

"My lord cardinal," replied Athos, "permit me not to enter
into considerations of that kind. I have a mission to
fulfill. Will you facilitate the means of my fulfilling that
mission, or will you not?"

"I am astonished," said Mazarin, -- quite delighted at
having recovered his memory, and bristling with malice -- "I
am astonished, Monsieur -- Athos -- that a Frondeur like you
should have accepted a mission for the Mazarin, as used to
be said in the good old times ---- " And Mazarin began to
laugh, in spite of a painful cough, which cut short his
sentences, converting them into sobs.

"I have only accepted the mission near the king of France,
monsieur le cardinal," retorted the comte, though with less
asperity, for he thought he had sufficiently the advantage
to show himself moderate.

"And yet, Monsieur le Frondeur," said Mazarin gayly, "the
affair which you have taken in charge must, from the king
---- "

"With which I have been given in charge, monseigneur. I do
not run after affairs."

"Be it so. I say that this negotiation must pass through my
hands. Let us lose no precious time, then. Tell me the
conditions."

"I have had the honor of assuring your eminence that only
the letter of his majesty King Charles II. contains the
revelation of his wishes."

"Pooh! you are ridiculous with your obstinacy, Monsieur
Athos. It is plain you have kept company with the Puritans
yonder. As to your secret, I know it better than you do; and
you have done wrongly, perhaps, in not having shown some
respect for a very old and suffering man, who has labored
much during his life, and kept the field for his ideas as
bravely as you have for yours. You will not communicate your
letter to me? You will say nothing to me? Very well! Come
with me into my chamber; you shall speak to the king -- and
before the king. -- Now, then, one last word: who gave you
the Fleece? I remember you passed for having the Garter; but
as to the Fleece, I do not know ---- "

"Recently, my lord, Spain, on the occasion of the marriage
of his majesty Louis XIV., sent King Charles II. a brevet of
the Fleece in blank, Charles II. immediately transmitted it
to me, filling up the blank with my name."

Mazarin arose, and leaning on the arm of Bernouin, he
returned to his ruelle at the moment the name of M. le
Prince was being announced. The Prince de Conde, the first
prince of the blood, the conqueror of Rocroy, Lens and
Nordlingen, was, in fact, entering the apartment of
Monseigneur de Mazarin, followed by his gentlemen, and had
already saluted the king, when the prime minister raised his
curtain. Athos had time to see Raoul pressing the hand of
the Comte de Guiche, and send him a smile in return for his
respectful bow. He had time, likewise, to see the radiant
countenance of the cardinal, when he perceived before him,
upon the table, an enormous heap of gold, which the Comte de
Guiche had won in a run of luck, after his eminence had
confided his cards to him. So forgetting ambassador, embassy
and prince, his first thought was of the gold. "What!" cried
the old man -- "all that -- won?"

"Some fifty thousand crowns; yes, monseigneur!" replied the
Comte de Guiche, rising. "Must I give up my place to your
eminence, or shall I continue?"

"Give up! give up! you are mad. You would lose all you have
won. Peste!"

"My lord!" said the Prince de Conde, bowing.

"Good-evening, monsieur le prince," said the minister, in a
careless tone; "it is very kind of you to visit an old sick
friend."

"A friend!" murmured the Comte de la Fere, at witnessing
with stupor this monstrous alliance of words; -- "friends!
when the parties are Conde and Mazarin!"

Mazarin seemed to divine the thought of the Frondeur, for he
smiled upon him with triumph, and immediately, -- "Sire,"
said he to the king, "I have the honor of presenting to your
majesty, Monsieur le Comte de la Fere, ambassador from his
Britannic majesty. An affair of state, gentlemen," added he,
waving his hand to all who filled the chamber, and who, the
Prince de Conde at their head, all disappeared at the simple
gesture. Raoul, after a last look cast at the comte,
followed M. de Conde. Philip of Anjou and the queen appeared
to be consulting about departing.

"A family affair," said Mazarin, suddenly, detaining them in
their seats. "This gentleman is the bearer of a letter in
which King Charles II., completely restored to his throne,
demands an alliance between Monsieur, the brother of the
king, and Mademoiselle Henrietta, grand-daughter of Henry
IV. Will you remit your letter of credit to the king,
monsieur le comte?"

Athos remained for a minute stupefied. How could the
minister possibly know the contents of the letter which had
never been out of his keeping for a single instant?
Nevertheless, always master of himself, he held out the
dispatch to the young king, Louis XIV., who took it with a
blush. A solemn silence reigned in the cardinal's chamber.
It was only troubled by the dull sound of the gold, which
Mazarin with his yellow dry hand, piled up in a casket,
whilst the king was reading.

CHAPTER 41

The Recital

The maliciousness of the cardinal did not leave much for the
ambassador to say; nevertheless, the word "restoration" had
struck the king, who, addressing the comte, upon whom his
eyes had been fixed since his entrance, -- "Monsieur," said
he, "will you have the kindness to give us some details
concerning the affairs of England. You come from that
country, you are a Frenchman, and the orders which I see
glittering upon your person announce you to be a man of
merit as well as a man of quality."

"Monsieur," said the cardinal, turning towards the
queen-mother, "is an ancient servant of your majesty's,
Monsieur le Comte de la Fere."

Anne of Austria was as oblivious as a queen whose life had
been mingled with fine and stormy days. She looked at
Mazarin, whose evil smile promised her something
disagreeable; then she solicited from Athos, by another
look, an explanation.

"Monsieur," continued the cardinal, "was a Treville
musketeer, in the service of the late king. Monsieur is well
acquainted with England, whither he has made several voyages
at various periods; he is a subject of the highest merit.

These words made allusion to all the memories which Anne of
Austria trembled to evoke. England, that was her hatred of
Richelieu and her love for Buckingham; a Treville musketeer,
that was the whole Odyssey of the triumphs which had made
the heart of the young woman throb, and of the dangers which
had been so near overturning the throne of the young queen.
These words had much power, for they rendered mute and
attentive all the royal personages, who, with very various
sentiments, set about recomposing at the same time the
mysteries which the young had not seen, and which the old
had believed to be forever effaced.

"Speak, monsieur," said Louis XIV., the first to escape from
troubles, suspicions, and remembrances.

"Yes, speak," added Mazarin, to whom the little malicious
thrust directed against Anne of Austria had restored energy
and gayety.

"Sire," said the comte, "a sort of miracle has changed the
whole destiny of Charles II. That which men, till that time,
had been unable to do, God resolved to accomplish."

Mazarin coughed while tossing about in his bed.

"King Charles II.," continued Athos, "left the Hague neither
as a fugitive nor a conqueror, but as an absolute king, who,
after a distant voyage from his kingdom, returns amidst
universal benedictions."

"A great miracle, indeed," said Mazarin; "for, if the news
was true, King Charles II., who has just returned amidst
benedictions, went away amidst musket-shots."

The king remained impassible. Philip, younger and more
frivolous, could not repress a smile, which flattered
Mazarin as an applause of his pleasantry.

"It is plain," said the king, "there is a miracle; but God,
who does so much for kings, monsieur le comte, nevertheless
employs the hand of man to bring about the triumph of His
designs. To what men does Charles II. principally owe his
re-establishment?"

"Why," interrupted Mazarin, without any regard for the
king's pride -- "does not your majesty know that it is to M.
Monk?"

"I ought to know it," replied Louis XIV., resolutely; "and
yet I ask my lord ambassador the causes of the change in
this General Monk?"

"And your majesty touches precisely the question," replied
Athos, "for without the miracle of which I have had the
honor to speak, General Monk would probably have remained an
implacable enemy of Charles II. God willed that a strange,
bold, and ingenious idea should enter into the mind of a
certain man, whilst a devoted and courageous idea took
possession of the mind of another man. The combinations of
these two ideas brought about such a change in the position
of M. Monk, that, from an inveterate enemy, he became a
friend to the deposed king."

"These are exactly the details I asked for," said the king.
"Who and what are the two men of whom you speak?"

"Two Frenchmen, sire."

"Indeed! I am glad of that."

"And the two ideas," said Mazarin; -- "I am more curious
about ideas than about men, for my part."

"Yes," murmured the king.

"The second idea, the devoted, reasonable idea -- the least
important, sir -- was to go and dig up a million in gold,
buried by King Charles I. at Newcastle, and to purchase with
that gold the adherence of Monk."

"Oh, oh!" said Mazarin, reanimated by the word million. "But
Newcastle was at the time occupied by Monk."

"Yes, monsieur le cardinal, and that is why I venture to
call the idea courageous as well as devoted. It was
necessary, if Monk refused the offers of the negotiator, to
reinstate King Charles II. in possession of this million,
which was to be torn, as it were, from the loyalty and not
the royalism of General Monk. This was effected in spite of
many difficulties: the general proved to be loyal, and
allowed the money to be taken away."

"It seems to me," said the timid, thoughtful king, "that
Charles II. could not have known of this million whilst he
was in Paris."

"It seems to me," rejoined the cardinal, maliciously, "that
his majesty the king of Great Britain knew perfectly well of
this million, but that he preferred having two millions to
having one."

"Sire," said Athos, firmly, "the king of England, whilst in
France, was so poor that he had not even money to take the
post; so destitute of hope that he frequently thought of
dying. He was so entirely ignorant of the existence of the
million at Newcastle, that but for a gentleman -- one of
your majesty's subjects -- the moral depositary of the
million, who revealed the secret to King Charles II., that
prince would still be vegetating in the most cruel
forgetfulness."

"Let us pass on to the strange, bold and ingenious idea,"
interrupted Mazarin, whose sagacity foresaw a check. "What
was that idea?"

"This -- M. Monk formed the only obstacle to the
re-establishment of the fallen king. A Frenchman imagined
the idea of suppressing this obstacle."

"Oh! oh! but he is a scoundrel, that Frenchman," said
Mazarin, "and the idea is not so ingenious as to prevent its
author being tied up by the neck at the Place de Greve, by
decree of the parliament."

"Your eminence is mistaken," replied Athos, dryly; "I did
not say that the Frenchman in question had resolved to
assassinate M. Monk, but only to suppress him. The words of
the French language have a value which the gentlemen of
France know perfectly. Besides, this is an affair of war;
and when men serve kings against their enemies they are not
to be condemned by a parliament -- God is their judge. This
French gentleman, then, formed the idea of gaining
possession of the person of Monk, and he executed his plan."

The king became animated at the recital of great actions.
The king's younger brother struck the table with his hand,
exclaiming, "Ah! that is fine!"

"He carried off Monk?" said the king. "Why, Monk was in his
camp."

"And the gentleman was alone, sire."

"That is marvelous!" said Philip.

"Marvelous, indeed!" cried the king.

"Good! There are the two little lions unchained," murmured
the cardinal. And with an air of spite, which he did not
dissemble: "I am unacquainted with these details, will you
guarantee their authenticity, monsieur?"

"All the more easily, my lord cardinal, from having seen the
events."

"You have?"

"Yes, monseigneur."

The king had involuntarily drawn close to the count, the Duc
d'Anjou had turned sharply round, and pressed Athos on the
other side.

"What next? monsieur, what next?" cried they both at the
same time.

"Sire, M. Monk, being taken by the Frenchman, was brought to
King Charles II., at the Hague. The king gave back his
freedom to Monk, and the grateful general, in return, gave
Charles II. the throne of Great Britain, for which so many
valiant men had fought in vain."

Philip clapped his hands with enthusiasm; Louis XIV., more
reflective, turned towards the Comte de la Fere.

"Is this true," said he, "in all its details?"

"Absolutely true, sire."

"That one of my gentlemen knew the secret of the million,
and kept it?"

"Yes, sire."

"The name of that gentleman?"

"It was your humble servant," said Athos, simply, and
bowing.

A murmur of admiration made the heart of Athos swell with
pleasure. He had reason to be proud, at least. Mazarin,
himself, had raised his arms towards heaven.

"Monsieur," said the king, "I shall seek, and find means to
reward you." Athos made a movement. "Oh, not for your
honesty, to be paid for that would humiliate you, but I owe
you a reward for having participated in the restoration of
my brother, King Charles II."

"Certainly," said Mazarin.

"It is the triumph of a good cause which fills the whole
house of France with joy," said Anne of Austria.

"I continue," said Louis XIV. "Is it also true that a single
man penetrated to Monk, in his camp, and carried him off?"

"That man had ten auxiliaries, taken from a very inferior
rank."

"And nothing but them?"

"Nothing more."

"And he is named?"

"Monsieur d'Artagnan, formerly lieutenant of the musketeers
of your majesty."

Anne of Austria colored; Mazarin became yellow with shame;
Louis XIV. was deeply thoughtful, and a drop of moisture
fell from his pale brow. "What men!" murmured he. And,
involuntarily, he darted a glance at the minister which
would have terrified him, if Mazarin, at the moment, had not
concealed his head under his pillow.

"Monsieur," said the young Duc d'Anjou, placing his hand,
delicate and white as that of a woman, upon the arm of
Athos, "tell that brave man, I beg you, that Monsieur,
brother of the king, will to-morrow drink his health before
five hundred of the best gentlemen of France." And, on
finishing these words, the young man, perceiving that his
enthusiasm had deranged one of his ruffles, set to work to
put it to rights with the greatest care imaginable.

"Let us resume business, sire," interrupted Mazarin who
never was enthusiastic, and who wore no ruffles.

"Yes, monsieur," replied Louis XIV. "Pursue your
communication, monsieur le comte," added he, turning towards
Athos.

Athos immediately began and offered in due form the hand of
the Princess Henrietta Stuart to the young prince, the
king's brother. The conference lasted an hour; after which
the doors of the chamber were thrown open to the courtiers,
who resumed their places as if nothing had been kept from
them in the occupations of that evening. Athos then found
himself again with Raoul, and the father and son were able
to clasp each other's hands.

CHAPTER 42

In which Mazarin becomes Prodigal

Whilst Mazarin was endeavoring to recover from the serious
alarm he had just experienced, Athos and Raoul were
exchanging a few words in a corner of the apartment. "Well,
here you are at Paris, then, Raoul?" said the comte.

"Yes, monsieur, since the return of M. le Prince."

"I cannot converse freely with you here, because we are
observed; but I shall return home presently, and shall
expect you as soon as your duty permits."

Raoul bowed, and, at that moment, M. le Prince came up to
them. The prince had that clear and keen look which
distinguishes birds of prey of the noble species; his
physiognomy itself presented several distinct traits of this
resemblance. It is known that in the Prince de Conde, the
aquiline nose rose out sharply and incisively from a brow
slightly retreating, rather low than high, and according to
the railers of the court, -- a pitiless race even for
genius, -- constituted rather an eagle's beak than a human
nose, in the heir of the illustrious princes of the house of
Conde. This penetrating look, this imperious expression of
the whole countenance generally disturbed those to whom the
prince spoke, more than either majesty or regular beauty
could have done in the conqueror of Rocroy. Besides this,
the fire mounted so suddenly to his projecting eyes, that
with the prince every sort of animation resembled passion.
Now, on account of his rank, everybody at the court
respected M. le Prince, and many even, seeing only the man,
carried their respect as far as terror.

Louis de Conde then advanced towards the Comte de la Fere
and Raoul, with the marked intention of being saluted by the
one, and of speaking to the other. No man bowed with more
reserved grace than the Comte de la Fere. He disdained to
put into a salutation all the shades which a courtier
ordinarily borrows from the same color -- the desire to
please. Athos knew his own personal value, and bowed to the
prince like a man, correcting by something sympathetic and
undefinable that which might have appeared offensive to the
pride of the highest rank in the inflexibility of his
attitude. The prince was about to speak to Raoul. Athos
forestalled him. "If M. le Vicomte de Bragelonne," said he,
"were not one of the humble servants of your royal highness,
I would beg him to pronounce my name before you -- mon
prince."

"I have the honor to address Monsieur le Comte de la Fere,"
said Conde instantly.

"My protector," added Raoul, blushing.

"One of the most honorable men in the kingdom," continued
the prince; "one of the first gentlemen of France, and of
whom I have heard so much that I have frequently desired to
number him among my friends."

"An honour of which I should be unworthy," replied Athos,
"but for the respect and admiration I entertain for your
royal highness."

"Monsieur de Bragelonne," said the prince, "is a good
officer, and it is plainly seen that he has been to a good
school. Ah, monsieur le comte, in your time, generals had
soldiers!"

"That is true, my lord, but nowadays soldiers have
generals."

This compliment, which savored so little of flattery, gave a
thrill of joy to the man whom already Europe considered a
hero; and who might be thought to be satiated with praise.

"I regret very much," continued the prince, "that you should
have retired from the service, monsieur le comte, for it is
more than probable that the king will soon have a war with
Holland or England, and opportunities for distinguishing
himself would not be wanting for a man who, like you, knows
Great Britain as well as you do France."

"I believe I may say, monseigneur, that I have acted wisely
in retiring from the service," said Athos, smiling. "France
and Great Britain will henceforward live like two sisters,
if I can trust my presentiments."

"Your presentiments?"

"Stop, monseigneur, listen to what is being said yonder, at
the table of my lord the cardinal."

"Where they are playing?"

"Yes, my lord."

The cardinal had just raised himself on one elbow, and made
a sign to the king's brother, who went to him.

"My lord," said the cardinal, "pick up, if you please, all
those gold crowns." And he pointed to the enormous pile of
yellow and glittering pieces which the Comte de Guiche had
raised by degrees before him by a surprising run of luck at
play.

"For me?" cried the Duc d'Anjou.

"Those fifty thousand crowns; yes, monseigneur, they are
yours."

"Do you give them to me?"

"I have been playing on your account, monseigneur," replied
the cardinal, getting weaker and weaker, as if this effort
of giving money had exhausted all his physical and moral
faculties.

"Oh, good heavens!" exclaimed Philip, wild with joy, "what a
fortunate day!" And he himself, making a rake of his
fingers, drew a part of the sum into his pockets, which he
filled, and still full a third remained on the table.

"Chevalier," said Philip to his favorite, the Chevalier de
Lorraine, "come hither, chevalier." The favorite quickly
obeyed. "Pocket the rest," said the young prince.

This singular scene was considered by the persons present
only as a touching kind of family fete. The cardinal assumed
the airs of a father with the sons of France, and the two
young princes had grown up under his wing. No one then
imputed to pride, or even impertinence, as would be done
nowadays, this liberality on the part of the first minister.
The courtiers were satisfied with envying the prince. -- The
king turned away his head.

"I never had so much money before," said the young prince,
joyously, as he crossed the chamber with his favorite to go
to his carriage. "No, never! What a weight these crowns
are!"

"But why has monsieur le cardinal given all this money at
once?" asked M. le Prince of the Comte de la Fere. "He must
be very ill, the dear cardinal!"

"Yes, my lord, very ill; without doubt; he looks very ill,
as your royal highness may perceive."

"But surely he will die of it. A hundred and fifty thousand
crowns! Oh, it is incredible! But, comte tell me a reason
for it?"

"Patience, monseigneur, I beg of you. Here comes M. le Duc
d'Anjou, talking with the Chevalier de Lorraine; I should
not be surprised if they spared us the trouble of being
indiscreet. Listen to them."

In fact the chevalier said to the prince in a low voice, "My
lord, it is not natural for M. Mazarin to give you so much
money. Take care! you will let some of the pieces fall, my
lord. What design has the cardinal upon you to make him so
generous?"

"As I said," whispered Athos in the prince's ear; "that,
perhaps, is the best reply to your question."

"Tell me, my lord," repeated the chevalier impatiently, as
he was calculating, by weighing them in his pocket, the
quota of the sum which had fallen to his share by rebound.

"My dear chevalier, a wedding present."

"How a wedding present?"

"Eh! yes, I am going to be married," replied the Duc
d'Anjou, without perceiving, at the moment, he was passing
the prince and Athos, who both bowed respectfully.

The chevalier darted at the young duke a glance so strange,
and so malicious, that the Comte de la Fere quite started on
beholding it.

"You! you to be married!" repeated he; "oh! that's
impossible. You would not commit such a folly!"

"Bah! I don't do it myself; I am made to do it," replied the
Duc d'Anjou. "But come, quick! let us get rid of our money."
Thereupon he disappeared with his companion, laughing and
talking, whilst all heads were bowed on his passage.

"Then," whispered the prince to Athos, "that is the secret."

"It was not I that told you so, my lord."

"He is to marry the sister of Charles II.?"

"I believe so."

The prince reflected for a moment, and his eye shot forth
one of its not unfrequent flashes. "Humph!" said he slowly,
as if speaking to himself; "our swords are once more to be
hung on the wall -- for a long time!" and he sighed.

All that sigh contained of ambition silently stifled, of
extinguished illusions and disappointed hopes, Athos alone
divined, for he alone had heard that sigh. Immediately
after, the prince took leave and the king left the
apartment. Athos, by a sign made to Bragelonne, renewed the
desire he had expressed at the beginning of the scene. By
degrees the chamber was deserted, and Mazarin was left
alone, a prey to suffering which he could no longer
dissemble. "Bernouin! Bernouin!" cried he, in a broken
voice.

"What does monseigneur want?"

"Guenaud -- let Guenaud be sent for," said his eminence. "I
think I'm dying."

Bernouin, in great terror, rushed into the cabinet to give
the order, and the piqueur, who hastened to fetch the
physician, passed the king's carriage in the Rue Saint
Honore.

CHAPTER 43

Guenaud

The cardinal's order was pressing; Guenaud quickly obeyed
it. He found his patient stretched on his bed, his legs
swelled, his face livid, and his stomach collapsed. Mazarin
had a severe attack of gout. He suffered tortures with the
impatience of a man who has not been accustomed to
resistances. On seeing Guenaud: "Ah!" said he; "now I am
saved!"

Guenaud was a very learned and circumspect man, who stood in
no need of the critiques of Boileau to obtain a reputation.
When facing a disease, if it were personified in a king, he
treated the patient as a Turk treats a Moor. He did not,
therefore, reply to Mazarin as the minister expected: "Here
is the doctor; good-bye disease!" On the contrary, on
examining his patient, with a very serious air:

"Oh! oh!" said he.

"Eh! what! Guenaud! How you look at me!"

"I look as I should on seeing your complaint, my lord; it is
a very dangerous one."

"The gout -- oh! yes, the gout."

"With complications, my lord"

Mazarin raised himself upon his elbow, and, questioning by
look and gesture: "What do you mean by that? Am I worse than
I believe myself to be?"

"My lord," said Guenaud, seating himself beside the bed,
"your eminence has worked very hard during your life; your
eminence has suffered much."

"But I am not old, I fancy. The late M. de Richelieu was but
seventeen months younger than I am when he died, and died of
a mortal disease. I am young, Guenaud: remember, I am
scarcely fifty-two."

"Oh! my lord, you are much more than that. How long did the
Fronde last?"

"For what purpose do you put such a question to me?"

"For a medical calculation, monseigneur."

"Well, some ten years -- off and on."

"Very well, be kind enough to reckon every year of the
Fronde as three years -- that makes thirty; now twenty and
fifty-two makes seventy-two years. You are seventy-two, my
lord; and that is a great age."

Whilst saying this, he felt the pulse of his patient. This
pulse was full of such fatal indications, that the physician
continued, notwithstanding the interruptions of the patient:
"Put down the years of the Fronde at four each, and you have
lived eighty-two years."

"Are you speaking seriously, Guenaud?"

"Alas! yes, monseigneur."

"You take a roundabout way, then, to inform me that I am
very ill?"

"Ma foi! yes, my lord, and with a man of the mind and
courage of your eminence, it ought not to be necessary to
do."

The cardinal breathed with such difficulty that he inspired
pity even in a pitiless physician. "There are diseases and
diseases," resumed Mazarin. "From some of them people
escape."

"That is true, my lord."

"Is it not?" cried Mazarin, almost joyously; "for, in short,
what else would be the use of power, of strength of will?
What would the use of genius be -- your genius, Guenaud?
What would be the use of science and art, if the patient,
who disposes of all that, cannot be saved from peril?"

Guenaud was about to open his mouth, but Mazarin continued:

"Remember," said he, "I am the most confiding of your
patients; remember I obey you blindly, and that consequently
---- "

"I know all that," said Guenaud.

"I shall be cured, then?"

"Monseigneur, there is neither strength of will, nor power,
nor genius, nor science that can resist a disease which God
doubtless sends, or which He casts upon the earth at the
creation, with full power to destroy and kill mankind. When
the disease is mortal, it kills, and nothing can ---- "

"Is -- my -- disease -- mortal?" asked Mazarin.

"Yes, my lord."

His eminence sank down for a moment, like an unfortunate
wretch who is crushed by a falling column. But the spirit of
Mazarin was a strong one, or rather his mind was a firm one.
"Guenaud," said he, recovering from his first shock, "you
will permit me to appeal from your judgment. I will call
together the most learned men of Europe: I will consult
them. I will live, in short, by the virtue of I care not
what remedy."

"My lord must not suppose," said Guenaud, "that I have the
presumption to pronounce alone upon an existence so valuable
as yours. I have already assembled all the good physicians
and practitioners of France and Europe. There were twelve of
them."

"And they said ---- "

"They said that your eminence was suffering from a mortal
disease; I have the consultation signed in my portfolio. If
your eminence will please to see it, you will find the names
of all the incurable diseases we have met with. There is
first ---- "

"No, no!" cried Mazarin, pushing away the paper. "No, no,
Guenaud, I yield! I yield!" And a profound silence, during
which the cardinal resumed his senses and recovered his
strength, succeeded to the agitation of this scene. "There
is another thing," murmured Mazarin; "there are empirics and
charlatans. In my country, those whom physicians abandon run
the chance of a quack, who kills them ten times but saves
them a hundred times."

"Has not your eminence observed, that during the last month
I have changed my remedies ten times?"

"Yes. Well?"

"Well, I have spent fifty thousand crowns in purchasing the
secrets of all these fellows: the list is exhausted, and so
is my purse. You are not cured; and but for my art, you
would be dead."

"That ends it!" murmured the cardinal; "that ends it." And
he threw a melancholy look upon the riches which surrounded
him. "And must I quit all that?" sighed he. "I am dying,
Guenaud! I am dying!"

"Oh! not yet, my lord," said the physician.

Mazarin seized his hand. "In what time?" asked he, fixing
his two large eyes upon the impassible countenance of the
physician.

"My lord, we never tell that."

"To ordinary men, perhaps not; -- but to me -- to me, whose
every minute is worth a treasure. Tell me, Guenaud, tell
me!"

"No, no, my lord."

"I insist upon it, I tell you. Oh! give me a month and for
every one of those thirty days I will pay you a hundred
thousand crowns."

"My lord," replied Guenaud, in a firm voice, "it is God who
can give you days of grace, and not I. God only allows you a
fortnight."

The cardinal breathed a painful sigh, and sank back upon his
pillow, murmuring, "Thank you, Guenaud, thank you!"

The physician was about to depart; the dying man, raising
himself up: "Silence!" said he, with flaming eyes,
"silence!"

"My lord, I have known this secret two months; you see that
I have kept it faithfully."

"Go, Guenaud, I will take care of your fortunes, go and tell
Brienne to send me a clerk called M. Colbert. Go!"

CHAPTER 44

Colbert

Colbert was not far off. During the whole evening he had
remained in one of the corridors, chatting with Bernouin and
Brienne, and commenting, with the ordinary skill of people
of a court, upon the news which developed like air-bubbles
upon the water, on the surface of each event. It is
doubtless time to trace, in a few words, one of the most
interesting portraits of the age, and to trace it with as
much truth, perhaps, as contemporary painters have been able
to do. Colbert was a man in whom the historian and the
moralist have an equal right.

He was thirteen years older than Louis XIV., his future
master. Of middle height, rather lean than otherwise, he had
deep-set eyes, a mean appearance, his hair was coarse, black
and thin, which, say the biographers of his time, made him
take early to the skull-cap. A look of severity, or
harshness even, a sort of stiffness, which, with inferiors,
was pride, with superiors an affectation of superior virtue;
a surly cast of countenance upon all occasions, even when
looking at himself in a glass alone -- such is the exterior
of this personage. As to the moral part of his character,
the depth of his talent for accounts, and his ingenuity in
making sterility itself productive, were much boasted of.
Colbert had formed the idea of forcing governors of frontier
places to feed the garrisons without pay, with what they
drew from contributions. Such a valuable quality made
Mazarin think of replacing Joubert, his intendant, who had
recently died, by M. Colbert, who had such skill in nibbling
down allowances. Colbert by degrees crept into court,
notwithstanding his lowly birth, for he was the son of a man
who sold wine as his father had done, but who afterwards
sold cloth, and then silk stuffs. Colbert, destined for
trade, had been clerk in Lyons to a merchant, whom he had
quitted to come to Paris in the office of a Chatelet
procureur named Biterne. It was here he learned the art of

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