Part 4 out of 13
you are driven away, or that you are exiled? Who says that your devotion
will not be remembered? I do not speak on any one's behalf but my own,
when I tell you to leave. Do me this kindness, - grant me this favor;
let me, for this also, be indebted to one of your name."
"It is for your sake, then, madame?"
"For mine alone."
"No one whom I shall leave behind me will venture to mock, - no prince
even who shall say, 'I required it.'"
"Listen to me, duke," and hereupon the dignified features of the queen
assumed a solemn expression. "I swear to you that no one commands in
this matter but myself. I swear to you that, not only shall no one
either laugh or boast in any way, but no one even shall fail in the
respect due to your rank. Rely upon me, duke, as I rely upon you."
"You do not explain yourself, madame; my heart is full of bitterness, and
I am in utter despair; no consolation, however gentle and affectionate,
can afford me relief."
"Do you remember your mother, duke?" replied the queen, with a winning
"Very slightly, madame; yet I remember how she used to cover me with her
caresses and her tears whenever I wept."
"Villiers," murmured the queen, passing her arm round the young man's
neck, "look upon me as your mother, and believe that no one shall ever
make my son weep."
"I thank you, madame," said the young man affected and almost suffocated
by his emotion; "I feel there is still room in my heart for a gentler and
nobler sentiment than love."
The queen-mother looked at him and pressed his hand. "Go," she said.
"When must I leave? Command me."
"At any time that may suit you, my lord," resumed the queen; "you will
choose your own day of departure. Instead, however, of setting off to-
day, as you would doubtless wish to do, or to-morrow, as others may have
expected, leave the day after to-morrow, in the evening; but announce to-
day that it is your wish to leave."
"My wish?" murmured the young duke.
"And shall I never return to France?"
Anne of Austria reflected for a moment, seemingly absorbed in sad and
serious thought. "It would be a consolation for me," she said, "if you
were to return on the day when I shall be carried to my final resting-
place at Saint-Dennis beside the king, my husband."
"Madame, you are goodness itself; the tide of prosperity is setting in on
you; your cup brims over with happiness, and many long years are yet
"In that case you will not come for some time, then," said the queen,
endeavoring to smile.
"I shall not return," said Buckingham, "young as I am. Death does not
reckon by years; it is impartial; some die young, some reach old age."
"I will not harbor any sorrowful ideas, duke. Let me comfort you; return
in two years. I perceive from your face that the very idea which saddens
you so much now, will have disappeared before six months have passed, and
will be not only dead but forgotten in the period of absence I have
"I think you judged me better a little while ago, madame," replied the
young man, "when you said that time is powerless against members of the
family of Buckingham."
"Silence," said the queen, kissing the duke upon the forehead with an
affection she could not restrain. "Go, go; spare me and forget yourself
no longer. I am the queen; you are the subject of the king of England;
King Charles awaits your return. Adieu, Villiers, - farewell."
"Forever!" replied the young man, and he fled, endeavoring to master his
Anne leaned her head upon her hands, and then looking at herself in the
glass, murmured, "It has been truly said, that a woman who has truly
loved is always young, and that the bloom of the girl of twenty years
ever lies concealed in some secret cloister of the heart." (1)
King Louis XIV. does not think Mademoiselle de la Valliere either rich
enough or pretty enough for a Gentleman of the Rank of the Vicomte de
Raoul and the Comte de la Fere reached Paris the evening of the same day
on which Buckingham had held the conversation with the queen-mother. The
count had scarcely arrived, when, through Raoul, he solicited an audience
of the king. His majesty had passed a portion of the morning in looking
over, with madame and the ladies of the court, various goods of Lyons
manufacture, of which he had made his sister-in-law a present. A court
dinner had succeeded, then cards, and afterwards, according to his usual
custom, the king, leaving the card-tables at eight o'clock, passed into
his cabinet in order to work with M. Colbert and M. Fouquet. Raoul
entered the ante-chamber at the very moment the two ministers quitted it,
and the king, perceiving him through the half-closed door, said, "What do
you want, M. de Bragelonne?"
The young man approached: "An audience, sire," he replied, "for the Comte
de la Fere, who has just arrived from Blois, and is most anxious to have
an interview with your majesty."
"I have an hour to spare between cards and supper," said the king. "Is
the Comte de la Fere at hand?"
"He is below, and awaits your majesty's permission."
"Let him come up at once," said the king, and five minutes afterwards
Athos entered the presence of Louis XIV. He was received by the king
with that gracious kindness of manner which Louis, with a tact beyond his
years, reserved for the purpose of gaining those who were not to be
conquered by ordinary favors. "Let me hope, comte," said the king, "that
you have come to ask me for something."
"I will not conceal from your majesty," replied the comte, "that I am
indeed come for that purpose."
"That is well," said the king, joyously.
"It is not for myself, sire."
"So much the worse; but, at least, I will do for your _protege_ what you
refuse to permit me to do for you."
"Your majesty encourages me. I have come to speak on behalf of the
Vicomte de Bragelonne."
"It is the same as if you spoke on your own behalf, comte."
"Not altogether so, sire. I am desirous of obtaining from your majesty
that which I cannot ask for myself. The vicomte thinks of marrying."
"He is still very young; but that does not matter. He is an eminently
distinguished man; I will choose a wife for him."
"He has already chosen one, sire, and only awaits your consent."
"It is only a question, then, of signing the marriage-contract?" Athos
bowed. "Has he chose a wife whose fortune and position accord with your
Athos hesitated for a moment. "His affirmed wife is of good birth, but
has no fortune."
"That is a misfortune we can remedy."
"You overwhelm me with gratitude, sire; but your majesty will permit me
to offer a remark?"
"Do so, comte."
"Your majesty seems to intimate an intention of giving a marriage-portion
to this young lady."
"I should regret, sire, if the step I have taken towards your majesty
should be attended by this result."
"No false delicacy, comte; what is the bride's name?"
"Mademoiselle de la Baume le Blanc de la Valliere," said Athos, coldly.
"I seem to know that name," said the king, as if reflecting; "there was a
Marquis de la Valliere."
"Yes, sire, it is his daughter."
"But he died, and his widow married again M. de Saint-Remy, I think,
steward of the dowager Madame's household."
"Your majesty is correctly informed."
"More than that, the young lady has lately become one of the princess's
maids of honor."
"Your majesty is better acquainted with her history than am I."
The king again reflected, and glancing at the comte's anxious
countenance, said: "The young lady does not seem to me to be very pretty,
"I am not quite sure," replied Athos.
"I have seen her, but she hardly struck me as being so."
"She seems to be a good and modest girl, but has little beauty, sire."
"Beautiful fair hair, however."
"I think so."
"And her blue eyes are tolerably good."
"With regard to her beauty, then, the match is but an ordinary one. Now
for the money side of the question."
"Fifteen to twenty thousand francs dowry at the very outset, sire; the
lovers are disinterested enough; for myself, I care little for money."
"For superfluity, you mean; but a needful amount is of importance. With
fifteen thousand francs, without landed property, a woman cannot live at
court. We will make up the deficiency; I will do it for De Bragelonne."
The king again remarked the coldness with which Athos received the remark.
"Let us pass from the question of money to that of rank," said Louis
XIV.; "the daughter of the Marquis de la Valliere, that is well enough;
but there is that excellent Saint-Remy, who somewhat damages the credit
of the family; and you, comte, are rather particular, I believe, about
your own family."
"Sire, I no longer hold to anything but my devotion to your majesty."
The king again paused. "A moment, comte. You have surprised me in no
little degree from the beginning of your conversation. You came to ask
me to authorize a marriage, and you seem greatly disturbed in having to
make the request. Nay, pardon me, comte, but I am rarely deceived, young
as I am; for while with some persons I place my friendship at the
disposal of my understanding, with others I call my distrust to my aid,
by which my discernment is increased. I repeat, that you do not prefer
your request as though you wished it success."
"Well, sire, that is true."
"I do not understand you, then; refuse."
"Nay, sire; I love De Bragelonne with my whole heart; he is smitten with
Mademoiselle de la Valliere, he weaves dreams of bliss for the future; I
am not one who is willing to destroy the illusions of youth. This
marriage is objectionable to me, but I implore your majesty to consent to
it forthwith, and thus make Raoul happy."
"Tell me, comte, is she in love with him?"
"If your majesty requires me to speak candidly, I do not believe in
Mademoiselle de la Valliere's affection; the delight at being at court,
the honor of being in the service of Madame, counteract in her head
whatever affection she may happen to have in her heart; it is a marriage
similar to many others which already exist at court; but De Bragelonne
wishes it, and so let it be."
"And yet you do not resemble those easy-tempered fathers who volunteer as
stepping-stones for their children," said the king.
"I am determined enough against the viciously disposed, but not so
against men of upright character. Raoul is suffering; he is in great
distress of mind; his disposition, naturally light and cheerful, has
become gloomy and melancholy. I do not wish to deprive your majesty of
the services he may be able to render."
"I understand you," said the king; "and what is more, I understand your
heart, too, comte."
"There is no occasion, therefore," replied the comte, "to tell your
majesty that my object is to make these children, or rather Raoul, happy."
"And I, too, as much as yourself, comte, wish to secure M. de
"I only await your majesty's signature. Raoul will have the honor of
presenting himself before your majesty to receive your consent."
"You are mistaken, comte," said the king, firmly; "I have just said that
I desire to secure M. de Bragelonne's happiness, and from the present
moment, therefore, I oppose his marriage."
"But, sire," exclaimed Athos, "your majesty has promised!"
"Not so, comte, I did not promise you, for it is opposed to my own views."
"I appreciate your majesty's considerate and generous intentions on my
behalf; but I take the liberty of recalling to you that I undertook to
approach you as an ambassador."
"An ambassador, comte, frequently asks, but does not always obtain what
"But, sire, it will be such a blow for De Bragelonne."
"My hand shall deal the blow; I will speak to the vicomte."
"Love, sire, is overwhelming in its might."
"Love can be resisted, comte. I myself can assure you of that."
"When one has the soul of a king, - your own, for instance, sire."
"Do not make yourself uneasy on the subject. I have certain views for De
Bragelonne. I do not say that he shall not marry Mademoiselle de la
Valliere, but I do not wish him to marry so young; I do not wish him to
marry her until she has acquired a fortune; and he, on his side, no less
deserves favor, such as I wish to confer upon him. In a word, comte, I
wish them to wait."
"Yet once more, sire."
"Comte, you told me you came here to request a favor."
"Grant me one, then, instead; let us speak no longer upon this matter.
It is probable that, before long, war may be declared. I require men
about me who are unfettered. I should hesitate to send under fire a
married man, or a father of a family. I should hesitate also, on De
Bragelonne's account, to endow with a fortune, without some sound reason
for it, a young girl, a perfect stranger; such an act would sow jealousy
amongst my nobility." Athos bowed, and remained silent.
"Is that all you wished to ask me?" added Louis XIV.
"Absolutely all, sire; and I take my leave of your majesty. Is it,
however, necessary that I should inform Raoul?"
"Spare yourself the trouble and annoyance. Tell the vicomte that at my
_levee_ to-morrow morning I will speak to him. I shall expect you this
evening, comte, to join my card-table."
"I am in traveling-costume, sire."
"A day will come, I hope, when you will leave me no more. Before long,
comte, the monarchy will be established in such a manner as to enable me
to offer a worthy hospitality to men of your merit."
"Provided, sire, a monarch reigns grandly in the hearts of his subjects,
the palace he inhabits matters little, since he is worshipped in a
temple." With these words Athos left the cabinet, and found De
Bragelonne, who was awaiting him anxiously.
"Well, monsieur?" said the young man.
"The king, Raoul, is well intentioned towards us both; not, perhaps, in
the sense you suppose, but he is kind, and generously disposed to our
"You have bad news to communicate to me, monsieur," said the young man,
turning very pale.
"The king himself will inform you to-morrow morning that it is not bad
"The king has not signed, however?"
"The king wishes himself to settle the terms of the contract, and he
desires to make it so grand that he requires time for consideration.
Throw the blame rather on your own impatience, than on the king's good
feelings towards you."
Raoul, in utter consternation, on account of his knowledge of the count's
frankness as well as his diplomacy, remained plunged in dull and gloomy
"Will you not go with me to my lodgings?" said Athos.
"I beg your pardon, monsieur; I will follow you," he stammered out,
following Athos down the staircase.
"Since I am here," said Athos, suddenly, "cannot I see M. d'Artagnan?"
"Shall I show you his apartments?" said De Bragelonne.
"They are on the opposite staircase."
They altered their course, but on reaching the landing of the grand
staircase, Raoul perceived a servant in the Comte de Guiche's livery, who
ran towards him as soon as he heard his voice.
"What is it?" said Raoul.
"This note, monsieur. My master heard of your return and wrote to you
without delay; I have been looking for you for the last half-hour."
Raoul approached Athos as he unsealed the letter, saying, "With your
"Dear Raoul," wrote the Comte de Guiche, "I have an affair in hand which
requires immediate attention; I know you have returned; come to me as
soon as possible."
Hardly had he finished reading it, when a servant in the livery of the
Duke of Buckingham, turning out of the gallery, recognized Raoul, and
approached him respectfully, saying, "From his Grace, monsieur."
"Well, Raoul, as I see you are already as busy as a general of an army, I
shall leave you, and will find M. d'Artagnan myself."
"You will excuse me, I trust," said Raoul.
"Yes, yes, I excuse you; adieu, Raoul; you will find me at my apartments
until to-morrow; during the day I may set out for Blois, unless I have
orders to the contrary."
"I shall present my respects to you to-morrow, monsieur."
As soon as Athos had left, Raoul opened Buckingham's letter.
"Monsieur de Bragelonne," it ran, "You are, of all the Frenchmen I have
known, the one with whom I am most pleased; I am about to put your
friendship to the proof. I have received a certain message, written in
very good French. As I am an Englishman, I am afraid of not
comprehending it very clearly. The letter has a good name attached to
it, and that is all I can tell you. Will you be good enough to come and
see me? for I am told you have arrived from Blois.
"VILLIERS, Duke of Buckingham."
"I am going now to see your master," said Raoul to De Guiche's servant,
as he dismissed him; "and I shall be with the Duke of Buckingham in an
hour," he added, dismissing with these words the duke's messenger.
Sword-Thrusts in the Water.
Raoul, on betaking himself to De Guiche, found him conversing with De
Wardes and Manicamp. De Wardes, since the affair of the barricade, had
treated Raoul as a stranger; they behaved as if they were not
acquainted. As Raoul entered, De Guiche walked up to him; and Raoul, as
he grasped his friend's hand, glanced rapidly at his two companions,
hoping to be able to read on their faces what was passing in their
minds. De Wardes was cold and impenetrable; Manicamp seemed absorbed in
the contemplation of some trimming to his dress. De Guiche led Raoul to
an adjoining cabinet, and made him sit down, saying, "How well you look!"
"That is singular," replied Raoul, "for I am far from being in good
"It is your case, then, Raoul, as it is my own, - our love affairs do not
"So much the better, count, as far as _you_ are concerned; the worst news
would be good news."
"In that case do not distress yourself, for, not only am I very unhappy,
but, what is more, I see others about me who are happy."
"Really, I do not understand you," replied Raoul; "explain yourself."
"You will soon learn. I have tried, but in vain, to overcome the feeling
you saw dawn in me, increase, and take entire possession of me. I have
summoned all your advice and my own strength to my aid. I have well
weighed the unfortunate affair in which I have embarked; I have sounded
its depths; that it is an abyss, I am aware, but it matters little for
_I_ shall pursue my own course."
"This is madness, De Guiche! you cannot advance another step without
risking your own ruin to-day, perhaps your life to-morrow."
"Whatever may happen, I have done with reflections; listen."
"And you hope to succeed; you believe that Madame will love you?"
"Raoul, I believe nothing; I hope, because hope exists in man, and never
abandons him until death."
"But, admitting that you obtain the happiness you covet, even then, you
are more certainly lost than if you had failed in obtaining it."
"I beseech you, Raoul, not to interrupt me any more; you could never
convince me, for I tell you beforehand, I do not wish to be convinced; I
have gone so far I cannot recede; I have suffered so much, death itself
would be a boon. I no longer love to madness, Raoul, I am being engulfed
by a whirlpool of jealousy."
Raoul struck his hands together with an expression resembling anger.
"Well?" said he.
"Well or ill matters little. This is what I claim from you, my friend,
my almost brother. During the last three days Madame has been living in
a perfect intoxication of gayety. On the first day, I dared not look at
her; I hated her for not being as unhappy as myself. The next day I
could not bear her out of my sight; and she, Raoul - at least I thought I
remarked it - she looked at me, if not with pity, at least with
gentleness. But between her looks and mine, a shadow intervened;
another's smile invited hers. Beside her horse another's always gallops,
which is not mine; in her ear another's caressing voice, not mine,
unceasingly vibrates. Raoul, for three days past my brain has been on
fire; flame, not blood, courses through my veins. That shadow must be
driven away, that smile must be quenched; that voice must be silenced."
"You wish Monsieur's death," exclaimed Raoul.
"No, no, I am not jealous of the husband; I am jealous of the lover."
"Of the lover?" said Raoul.
"Have you not observed it, you who were formerly so keen-sighted?"
"Are you jealous of the Duke of Buckingham?"
"To the very death."
"This time the affair will be easy to arrange between us; I have taken
the initiative, and have sent him a letter."
"It was you, then, who wrote to him?"
"How do you know that?"
"I know it, because he told me so. Look at this;" and he handed De
Guiche the letter he had received nearly at the same moment as his own.
De Guiche read it eagerly, and said, "He is a brave man, and more than
that, a gallant man."
"Most certainly the duke is a gallant man; I need not ask if you wrote to
him in a similar style."
"He will show you my letter when you call on him on my behalf."
"But that is almost out of the question."
"That I shall call on him for that purpose."
"The duke consults me as you do."
"I suppose you will give _me_ the preference! Listen to me, Raoul, I
wish you to tell his Grace - it is a very simple matter - that to-day,
to-morrow, the following day, or any other day he may choose, I will meet
him at Vincennes."
"Reflect, De Guiche."
"I thought I told you I have reflected."
"The duke is a stranger here; he is on a mission which renders his person
inviolable.... Vincennes is close to the Bastile."
"The consequences concern _me_."
"But the motive for this meeting? What motive do you wish me to assign?"
"Be perfectly easy on that score, he will not ask any. The duke must be
as sick of me as I am of him. I implore you, therefore, seek the duke,
and if it is necessary to entreat him, to accept my offer, I will do so."
"That is useless. The duke has already informed me that he wishes to
speak to me. The duke is now playing cards with the king. Let us both
go there. I will draw him aside in the gallery; you will remain aloof.
Two words will be sufficient."
"That is well arranged. I will take De Wardes to keep me in countenance."
"Why not Manicamp? De Wardes can join us at any time; we can leave him
"Yes, that is true."
"He knows nothing?"
"Positively nothing. You continue still on an unfriendly footing, then?"
"Has he not told you anything?"
"I do not like the man, and, as I _never_ liked him, the result is, that
I am on no worse terms with him to-day than I was yesterday."
"Let us go, then."
The four descended the stairs. De Guiche's carriage was waiting at the
door, and took them to the Palais Royal. As they were going along, Raoul
was engaged in devising his scheme of action. The sole depositary of two
secrets, he did not despair of concluding some arrangement between the
two parties. He knew the influence he exercised over Buckingham, and the
ascendency he had acquired over De Guiche, and affairs did not look
utterly hopeless. On their arrival in the gallery, dazzling with the
blaze of light, where the most beautiful and illustrious women of the
court moved to and fro, like stars in their own atmosphere, Raoul could
not prevent himself for a moment forgetting De Guiche in order to seek
out Louise, who, amidst her companions, like a dove completely
fascinated, gazed long and fixedly upon the royal circle, which glittered
with jewels and gold. All its members were standing, the king alone
being seated. Raoul perceived Buckingham, who was standing a few paces
from Monsieur, in a group of French and English, who were admiring his
aristocratic carriage and the incomparable magnificence of his costume.
Some of the older courtiers remembered having seen his father, but their
recollections were not prejudicial to the son.
Buckingham was conversing with Fouquet, who was talking with him aloud
about Belle-Isle. "I cannot speak to him at present," said Raoul.
"Wait, then, and choose your opportunity, but finish everything
speedily. I am on thorns."
"See, our deliverer approaches," said Raoul, perceiving D'Artagnan, who,
magnificently dressed in his new uniform of captain of the musketeers,
had just made his entry in the gallery; and he advanced towards
"The Comte de la Fere has been looking for you, chevalier," said Raoul.
"Yes," replied D'Artagnan, "I have just left him."
"I thought you would have passed a portion of the evening together."
"We have arranged to meet again."
As he answered Raoul, his absent looks were directed on all sides, as if
seeking some one in the crowd or looking for something in the room.
Suddenly his gaze became fixed, like that of an eagle on its prey. Raoul
followed the direction of his glance, and noticed that De Guiche and
D'Artagnan saluted each other, but he could not distinguish at whom the
captain's lingering and haughty glance was aimed.
"Chevalier," said Raoul, "there is no one here but yourself who can
render me a service."
"What is it, my dear vicomte?"
"It is simply to go and interrupt the Duke of Buckingham, to whom I wish
to say two words, and, as the duke is conversing with M. Fouquet, you
understand that it would not do for _me_ to throw myself into the middle
of the conversation."
"Ah, ah, is M. Fouquet there?" inquired D'Artagnan.
"Do you not see him?"
"Yes, now I do. But do you think I have a greater right than you have?"
"You are a more important personage."
"Yes, you're right; I am captain of the musketeers; I have had the post
promised me so long, and have enjoyed it for so brief a period, that I am
always forgetting my dignity."
"You will do me this service, will you not?"
"M. Fouquet - the deuce!"
"Are you not on good terms with him?"
"It is rather he who may not be on good terms with me; however, since it
must be done some day or another - "
"Stay; I think he is looking at you; or is it likely that it might be - "
"No, no; don't deceive yourself, it is indeed me for whom this honor is
"The opportunity is a good one, then?"
"Do you think so?"
"Well, I will."
De Guiche had not removed his eyes from Raoul, who made a sign to him
that all was arranged. D'Artagnan walked straight up to the group, and
civilly saluted M. Fouquet as well as the others.
"Good evening, M. d'Artagnan; we were speaking of Belle-Isle," said
Fouquet, with that usage of society, and that perfect knowledge of the
language of looks, which require half a lifetime thoroughly to acquire,
and which some persons, notwithstanding all their study, never attain.
"Of Belle-Ile-en-Mer! Ah!" said D'Artagnan. "It belongs to you, I
believe, M. Fouquet?"
"M. Fouquet has just told us that he had presented it to the king," said
"Do you know Belle-Isle, chevalier?" inquired Fouquet.
"I have only been there once," replied D'Artagnan, with readiness and
"Did you remain there long?"
"Scarcely a day."
"Did you see much of it while you were there?"
"All that could be seen in a day."
"A great deal can be seen with observation as keen as yours," said
Fouquet; at which D'Artagnan bowed.
During this Raoul made a sign to Buckingham. "M. Fouquet," said
Buckingham, "I leave the captain with you, he is more learned than I am
in bastions, scarps, and counter-scarps, and I will join one of my
friends, who has just beckoned me." Saying this, Buckingham disengaged
himself from the group, and advanced towards Raoul, stopping for a moment
at the table where the queen-mother, the young queen, and the king were
"Now, Raoul," said De Guiche, "there he is; be firm and quick."
Buckingham, having made some complimentary remark to Madame, continued
his way towards Raoul, who advanced to meet him, while De Guiche remained
in his place, though he followed him with his eyes. The maneuver was so
arranged that the young men met in an open space which was left vacant,
between the groups of players and the gallery, where they walked,
stopping now and then for the purpose of saying a few words to some of
the graver courtiers who were walking there. At the moment when the two
lines were about to unite, they were broken by a third. It was Monsieur
who advanced towards the Duke of Buckingham. Monsieur had his most
engaging smile on his red and perfumed lips.
"My dear duke," said he, with the most affectionate politeness; "is it
really true what I have just been told?"
Buckingham turned round; he had not noticed Monsieur approach; but had
merely heard his voice. He started in spite of his command over himself,
and a slight pallor overspread his face. "Monseigneur," he asked, "what
has been told you that surprises you so much?"
"That which throws me into despair, and will, in truth, be a real cause
of mourning for the whole court."
"Your highness is very kind, for I perceive that you allude to my
Guiche had overheard the conversation from where he was standing, and
started in his turn. "His departure," he murmured. "What does he say?"
Philip continued with the same gracious air, "I can easily conceive,
monsieur, why the king of Great Britain recalls you; we all know that
King Charles II., who appreciates true gentlemen, cannot dispense with
you. But it cannot be supposed we can let you go without great regret;
and I beg you to receive the expression of my own."
"Believe me, monseigneur," said the duke, "that if I quit the court of
France - "
"Because you are recalled; but, if you suppose the expression of my own
wish on the subject might possibly have any influence with the king, I
will gladly volunteer to entreat his majesty Charles II. to leave you
with us a little while longer."
"I am overwhelmed, monseigneur, by so much kindness," replied Buckingham;
"but I have received positive commands. My residence in France was
limited; I have prolonged it at the risk of displeasing my gracious
sovereign. It is only this very day that I recollected I ought to have
set off four days ago."
"Indeed," said Monsieur.
"Yes; but," added Buckingham, raising his voice in such a manner that the
princess could hear him, - "but I resemble that dweller in the East, who
turned mad, and remained so for several days, owing to a delightful dream
that he had had, but who one day awoke, if not completely cured, in some
respects rational at least. The court of France has its intoxicating
properties, which are not unlike this dream, my lord; but at last I wake
and leave it. I shall be unable, therefore, to prolong my residence, as
your highness has so kindly invited me to do."
"When do you leave?" inquired Philip, with an expression full of interest.
"To-morrow, monseigneur. My carriages have been ready for three days."
The Duc d'Orleans made a movement of the head, which seemed to signify,
"Since you are determined, duke, there is nothing to be said."
Buckingham returned the gesture, concealing under a smile a contraction
of his heart; and then Monsieur moved away in the same direction by which
he had approached. At the same moment, however, De Guiche advanced from
the opposite direction. Raoul feared that the impatient young man might
possibly make the proposition himself, and hurried forth before him.
"No, no, Raoul, all is useless now," said Guiche, holding both his hands
towards the duke, and leading him behind a column. "Forgive me, duke,
for what I wrote to you, I was mad; give me back my letter."
"It is true," said the duke, "you cannot owe me a grudge any longer now."
"Forgive me, duke; my friendship, my lasting friendship is yours."
"There is certainly no reason why you should bear me any ill-will from
the moment I leave her never to see her again."
Raoul heard these words, and comprehending that his presence was now
useless between the young men, who had now only friendly words to
exchange, withdrew a few paces; a movement which brought him closer to De
Wardes, who was conversing with the Chevalier de Lorraine respecting the
departure of Buckingham. "A strategic retreat," said De Wardes.
"Because the dear duke saves a sword-thrust by it." At which reply both
Raoul, indignant, turned round frowningly, flushed with anger and his lip
curling with disdain. The Chevalier de Lorraine turned on his heel, but
De Wardes remained and waited.
"You will not break yourself of the habit," said Raoul to De Wardes, "of
insulting the absent; yesterday it was M. d'Artagnan, to-day it is the
Duke of Buckingham."
"You know very well, monsieur," returned De Wardes, "that I sometimes
insult those who are present."
De Wardes was close to Raoul, their shoulders met, their faces
approached, as if to mutually inflame each other by the fire of their
looks and of their anger. It could be seen that the one was at the
height of fury, the other at the end of his patience. Suddenly a voice
was heard behind them full of grace and courtesy, saying, "I believe I
heard my name pronounced."
They turned round and saw D'Artagnan, who, with a smiling eye and a
cheerful face, had just placed his hand on De Wardes's shoulder. Raoul
stepped back to make room for the musketeer. De Wardes trembled from
head to foot, turned pale, but did not move. D'Artagnan, still with the
same smile, took the place which Raoul had abandoned to him.
"Thank you, my dear Raoul," he said. "M. de Wardes, I wish to talk with
you. Do not leave us, Raoul; every one can hear what I have to say to M.
de Wardes." His smile immediately faded away, and his glace became cold
and sharp as a sword.
"I am at your orders, monsieur," said De Wardes.
"For a very long time," resumed D'Artagnan, "I have sought an opportunity
of conversing with you; to-day is the first time I have found it. The
place is badly chosen, I admit, but you will perhaps have the goodness to
accompany me to my apartments, which are on the staircase at the end of
"I follow you, monsieur," said De Wardes.
"Are you alone here?" said D'Artagnan.
"No; I have M. Manicamp and M. de Guiche, two of my friends."
"That's well," said D'Artagnan; "but two persons are not sufficient; you
will be able to find a few others, I trust."
"Certainly," said the young man, who did not know what object D'Artagnan
had in view. "As many as you please."
"Are they friends?"
"No doubt of it."
"Very well, get a good supply, then. Do you come, too, Raoul; bring M.
de Guiche and the Duke of Buckingham."
"What a disturbance," replied De Wardes, attempting to smile. The
captain slightly signed to him with his hand, as though to recommend him
to be patient, and then led the way to his apartments. (2)
Sword-Thrusts in the Water (concluded).
D'Artagnan's apartment was not unoccupied; for the Comte de la Fere,
seated in the recess of a window, awaited him. "Well," said he to
D'Artagnan, as he saw him enter.
"Well," said the latter, "M. de Wardes has done me the honor to pay me a
visit, in company with some of his own friends, as well as of ours." In
fact, behind the musketeer appeared De Wardes and Manicamp, followed by
De Guiche and Buckingham, who looked surprised, not knowing what was
expected of them. Raoul was accompanied by two or three gentlemen; and,
as he entered, glanced round the room, and perceiving the count, he went
and placed himself by his side. D'Artagnan received his visitors with
all the courtesy he was capable of; he preserved his unmoved and
unconcerned look. All the persons present were men of distinction,
occupying posts of honor and credit at the court. After he had
apologized to each of them for any inconvenience he might have put them
to, he turned towards De Wardes, who, in spite of his customary self-
command, could not prevent his face betraying some surprise mingled with
not a little uneasiness.
"Now, monsieur," said D'Artagnan, "since we are no longer within the
precincts of the king's palace, and since we can speak out without
failing in respect to propriety, I will inform you why I have taken the
liberty to request you to visit me here, and why I have invited these
gentlemen to be present at the same time. My friend, the Comte de la
Fere, has acquainted me with the injurious reports you are spreading
about myself. You have stated that you regard me as your mortal enemy,
because I was, so you affirm, that of your father."
"Perfectly true, monsieur, I have said so," replied De Wardes, whose
pallid face became slightly tinged with color.
"You accuse me, therefore, of a crime, or a fault, or of some mean and
cowardly act. Have the goodness to state your charge against me in
"In the presence of witnesses?"
"Most certainly in the presence of witnesses; and you see I have selected
them as being experienced in affairs of honor."
"You do not appreciate my delicacy, monsieur. I have accused you, it is
true; but I have kept the nature of the accusation a perfect secret. I
entered into no details; but have rested satisfied by expressing my
hatred in the presence of those on whom a duty was almost imposed to
acquaint you with it. You have not taken the discreetness I have shown
into consideration, although you were interested in remaining silent. I
can hardly recognize your habitual prudence in that, M. d'Artagnan."
D'Artagnan, who was quietly biting the corner of his moustache, said, "I
have already had the honor to beg you to state the particulars of the
grievances you say you have against me."
"In that case, I will speak."
"Speak, monsieur," said D'Artagnan, bowing; "we are all listening to you."
"Well, monsieur, it is not a question of a personal injury towards
myself, but one towards my father."
"That you have already stated."
"Yes; but there are certain subjects which are only approached with
"If that hesitation, in your case, really does exist, I entreat you to
"Even if it refer to a disgraceful action?"
"Yes; in every and any case."
Those who were present at this scene had, at first, looked at each other
with a good deal of uneasiness. They were reassured, however, when they
saw that D'Artagnan manifested no emotion whatever.
De Wardes still maintained the same unbroken silence. "Speak, monsieur,"
said the musketeer; "you see you are keeping us waiting."
"Listen, then: - My father loved a lady of noble birth, and this lady
loved my father." D'Artagnan and Athos exchanged looks. De Wardes
continued: "M. d'Artagnan found some letters which indicated a
rendezvous, substituted himself, under disguise, for the person who was
expected, and took advantage of the darkness."
"That is perfectly true," said D'Artagnan.
A slight murmur was heard from those present. "Yes, I was guilty of that
dishonorable action. You should have added, monsieur, since you are so
impartial, that, at the period when the circumstance which you have just
related happened, I was not one-and-twenty years of age."
A renewed murmur was heard, but this time of astonishment, and almost of
"It was a most shameful deception, I admit," said D'Artagnan, "and I have
not waited for M. de Wardes's reproaches to reproach myself for it, and
very bitterly, too. Age has, however, made me more reasonable, and,
above all, more upright; and this injury has been atoned for by a long
and lasting regret. But I appeal to you, gentlemen; this affair took
place in 1626, at a period, happily for yourselves, known to you by
tradition only, at a period when love was not over-scrupulous, when
consciences did not distill, as in the present day, poison and
bitterness. We were young soldiers, always fighting, or being attacked,
our swords always in our hands, or at least ready to be drawn from their
sheaths. Death then always stared us in the face, war hardened us, and
the cardinal pressed us sorely. I have repented of it, and more than
that - I still repent it, M. de Wardes."
"I can well understand that, monsieur, for the action itself needed
repentance; but you were not the less the cause of that lady's disgrace.
She, of whom you have been speaking, covered with shame, borne down by
the affront you brought upon her, fled, quitted France, and no one ever
knew what became of her."
"Stay," said the Comte de la Fere, stretching his hand towards De Wardes,
with a peculiar smile upon his face, "you are mistaken; she was seen; and
there are persons even now present, who, having often heard her spoken
of, will easily recognize her by the description I am about to give. She
was about five-and-twenty years of age, slender in form, of a pale
complexion, and fair-haired; she was married in England."
"Married?" exclaimed De Wardes.
"So, you were not aware she was married? You see we are far better
informed than yourself. Do you happen to know she was usually styled 'My
Lady,' without the addition of any name to that description?"
"Yes, I know that."
"Good Heavens!" murmured Buckingham.
"Very well, monsieur. That woman, who came from England, returned to
England after having thrice attempted M. d'Artagnan's life. That was but
just, you will say, since M. d'Artagnan had insulted her. But that which
was not just was, that, when in England, this woman, by her seductions,
completely enslaved a young man in the service of Lord de Winter, by name
Felton. You change color, my lord," said Athos, turning to the Duke of
Buckingham, "and your eyes kindle with anger and sorrow. Let your Grace
finish the recital, then, and tell M. de Wardes who this woman was who
placed the knife in the hand of your father's murderer."
A cry escaped from the lips of all present. The young duke passed his
handkerchief across his forehead, which was covered with perspiration. A
dead silence ensued among the spectators.
"You see, M. de Wardes," said D'Artagnan, whom this recital had impressed
more and more, as his own recollection revived as Athos spoke, "you see
that my crime did not cause the destruction of any one's soul, and that
the soul in question may fairly be considered to have been altogether
lost before my regret. It is, however, an act of conscience on my part.
Now this matter is settled, therefore, it remains for me to ask, with the
greatest humility, your forgiveness for this shameless action, as most
certainly I should have asked it of your father, if he were still alive,
and if I had met him after my return to France, subsequent to the death
of King Charles I."
"That is too much, M. d'Artagnan," exclaimed many voices, with animation.
"No, gentlemen," said the captain. "And now, M. de Wardes, I hope all is
finished between us, and that you will have no further occasion to speak
ill of me again. Do you consider it completely settled?"
De Wardes bowed, and muttered to himself inarticulately.
"I trust also," said D'Artagnan, approaching the young man closely, "that
you will no longer speak ill of any one, as it seems you have the
unfortunate habit of doing; for a man so puritanically conscientious as
you are, who can reproach an old soldier for a youthful freak five-and-
thirty years after it happened, will allow me to ask whether you, who
advocate such excessive purity of conscience, will undertake on your side
to do nothing contrary either to conscience or the principle of honor.
And now, listen attentively to what I am going to say, M. de Wardes, in
conclusion. Take care that no tale, with which your name may be
associated, reaches my ear."
"Monsieur," said De Wardes, "it is useless threatening to no purpose."
"I have not yet finished, M. de Wardes, and you must listen to me still
further." The circle of listeners, full of eager curiosity, drew
closer. "You spoke just now of the honor of a woman, and of the honor of
your father. We were glad to hear you speak in that manner; for it is
pleasing to think that such a sentiment of delicacy and rectitude, and
which did not exist, it seems, in _our_ minds, lives in our children; and
it is delightful, too, to see a young man, at an age when men from habit
become the destroyers of the honor of women, respect and defend it."
De Wardes bit his lip and clenched his hands, evidently much disturbed to
learn how this discourse, the commencement of which was announced in so
threatening a manner, would terminate.
"How did it happen, then, that you allowed yourself to say to M. de
Bragelonne that he did not know who his mother was?"
Raoul's eyes flashed, as, darting forward, he exclaimed, - "Chevalier,
this is a personal affair of my own!" At which exclamation, a smile,
full of malice, passed across De Wardes's face.
D'Artagnan put Raoul aside, saying, - "Do not interrupt me, young man."
And looking at De Wardes in an authoritative manner, he continued: - "I
am now dealing with a matter which cannot be settled by means of the
sword. I discuss it before men of honor, all of whom have more than once
had their swords in their hands in affairs of honor. I selected them
expressly. These gentlemen well know that every secret for which men
fight ceases to be a secret. I again put my question to M. de Wardes.
What was the subject of conversation when you offended this young man, in
offending his father and mother at the same time?"
"It seems to me," returned De Wardes, "that liberty of speech is allowed,
when it is supported by every means which a man of courage has at his
"Tell me what the means are by which a man of courage can sustain a
"You fail, not only in logic, in your argument, but in religion and
honor. You expose the lives of many others, without referring to your
own, which seems to be full of hazard. Besides, fashions pass away,
monsieur, and the fashion of duelling has passed away, without referring
in any way to the edicts of his majesty which forbid it. Therefore, in
order to be consistent with your own chivalrous notions, you will at once
apologize to M. de Bragelonne; you will tell him how much you regret
having spoken so lightly, and that the nobility and purity of his race
are inscribed, not in his heart alone, but still more in every action of
his life. You will do and say this, M. de Wardes, as I, an old officer,
did and said just now to your boy's moustache."
"And if I refuse?" inquired De Wardes.
"In that case the result will be - "
"That which you think you will prevent," said De Wardes, laughing; "the
result will be that your conciliatory address will end in a violation of
the king's prohibition."
"Not so," said the captain, "you are quite mistaken."
"What will be the result, then?"
"The result will be that I shall go to the king, with whom I am on
tolerably good terms, to whom I have been happy enough to render certain
services, dating from a period when you were not born, and who, at my
request, has just sent me an order in blank for M. Baisemeaux de
Montlezun, governor of the Bastile; and I shall say to the king: 'Sire, a
man has in a most cowardly way insulted M. de Bragelonne by insulting his
mother; I have written this man's name upon the _lettre de cachet_ which
your majesty has been kind enough to give me, so that M. de Wardes is in
the Bastile for three years." And D'Artagnan, drawing the order signed
by the king from his pocket, held it towards De Wardes.
Remarking that the young man was not quite convinced, and received the
warning as an idle threat, he shrugged his shoulders and walked leisurely
towards the table, upon which lay a writing-case and a pen, the length of
which would have terrified the topographical Porthos. De Wardes then saw
that nothing could well be more seriously intended than the threat in
question, for the Bastile, even at that period, was already held in
dread. He advanced a step towards Raoul, and, in an almost
unintelligible voice, said, - "I offer my apologies in the terms which M.
d'Artagnan just now dictated, and which I am forced to make to you."
"One moment, monsieur," said the musketeer, with the greatest
tranquillity, "you mistake the terms of the apology. I did not say, 'and
which I am forced to make'; I said, 'and which my conscience induces me
to make.' This latter expression, believe me, is better than the former;
and it will be far preferable, since it will be the most truthful
expression of your own sentiments."
"I subscribe to it," said De Wardes; "but submit, gentlemen, that a
thrust of the sword through the body, as was the custom formerly, was far
better than tyranny like this."
"No, monsieur," replied Buckingham; "for the sword-thrust, when received,
was no indication that a particular person was right or wrong; it only
showed that he was more or less skillful in the use of the weapon."
"Monsieur!" exclaimed De Wardes.
"There, now," interrupted D'Artagnan, "you are going to say something
very rude, and I am rendering a service by stopping you in time."
"Is that all, monsieur?" inquired De Wardes.
"Absolutely everything," replied D'Artagnan; "and these gentlemen, as
well as myself, are quite satisfied with you."
"Believe me, monsieur, that your reconciliations are not successful."
"In what way?"
"Because, as we are now about to separate, I would wager that M. de
Bragelonne and myself are greater enemies than ever."
"You are deceived, monsieur, as far as I am concerned," returned Raoul;
"for I do not retain the slightest animosity in my heart against you."
This last blow overwhelmed De Wardes. He cast his eyes around him like a
man bewildered. D'Artagnan saluted most courteously the gentlemen who
had been present at the explanation; and every one, on leaving the room,
shook hands with him; but not one hand was held out towards De Wardes.
"Oh!" exclaimed the young man, "can I not find some one on whom to wreak
"You can, monsieur, for I am here," whispered a voice full of menace in
De Wardes turned round, and saw the Duke of Buckingham, who, having
probably remained behind with that intention, had just approached him.
"You, monsieur?" exclaimed De Wardes.
"Yes, I! I am no subject of the king of France; I am not going to remain
on the territory, since I am about setting off for England. I have
accumulated in my heart such a mass of despair and rage, that I, too,
like yourself, need to revenge myself upon some one. I approve M.
d'Artagnan's principles profoundly, but I am not bound to apply them to
you. I am an Englishman, and, in my turn, I propose to you what you
proposed to others to no purpose. Since you, therefore, are so terribly
incensed, take me as a remedy. In thirty-four hours' time I shall be at
Calais. Come with me; the journey will appear shorter if together, than
if alone. We will fight, when we get there, upon the sands which are
covered by the rising tide, and which form part of the French territory
during six hours of the day, but belong to the territory of Heaven during
the other six."
"I accept willingly," said De Wardes.
"I assure you," said the duke, "that if you kill me, you will be
rendering me an infinite service."
"I will do my utmost to make myself agreeable to you, duke," said De
"It is agreed, then, that I carry you off with me?"
"I shall be at your commands. I needed some real danger and some mortal
risk to run, to tranquilize me."
"In that case, I think you have met with what you are looking for.
Farewell, M. de Wardes; to-morrow morning, my valet will tell you the
exact hour of our departure; we can travel together like two excellent
friends. I generally travel as fast as I can. Adieu."
Buckingham saluted De Wardes, and returned towards the king's apartments;
De Wardes, irritated beyond measure, left the Palais Royal, and hurried
through the streets homeward to the house where he lodged.
Baisemeaux de Montlezun.
After the austere lesson administered to De Wardes, Athos and D'Artagnan
together descended the staircase which led to the courtyard of the Palais
Royal. "You perceive," said Athos to D'Artagnan, "that Raoul cannot,
sooner or later, avoid a duel with De Wardes, for De Wardes is as brave
as he is vicious and wicked."
"I know such fellows well," replied D'Artagnan; "I had an affair with the
father. I assure you that, although at that time I had good muscles and
a sort of brute courage - I assure you that the father did me some
mischief. But you should have seen how I fought it out with him. Ah,
Athos, such encounters never take place in these times! I had a hand
which could never remain at rest, a hand like quicksilver, - you knew its
quality, for you have seen me at work. My sword was no longer than a
piece of steel; it was a serpent that assumed every form and every
length, seeking where it might thrust its head; in other words, where it
might fix its bite. I advanced half a dozen paces, then three, and then,
body to body, I pressed my antagonist closely, then I darted back again
ten paces. No human power could resist that ferocious ardor. Well, De
Wardes the father, with the bravery of his race, with his dogged courage,
occupied a good deal of my time; and my fingers, at the end of the
engagement, were, I well remember, tired enough."
"It is, then, as I said," resumed Athos, "the son will always be looking
out for Raoul, and will end by meeting him; and Raoul can easily be found
when he is sought for."
"Agreed; but Raoul calculates well; he bears no grudge against De Wardes,
- he has said so; he will wait until he is provoked, and in that case his
position is a good one. The king will not be able to get out of temper
about the matter; besides we shall know how to pacify his majesty. But
why so full of these fears and anxieties? You don't easily get alarmed."
"I will tell you what makes me anxious; Raoul is to see the king to-
morrow, when his majesty will inform him of his wishes respecting a
certain marriage. Raoul, loving as he does, will get out of temper, and
once in an angry mood, if he were to meet De Wardes, the shell would
"We will prevent the explosion."
"Not I," said Athos, "for I must return to Blois. All this gilded
elegance of the court, all these intrigues, sicken me. I am no longer a
young man who can make terms with the meanness of the day. I have read
in the Great Book many things too beautiful and too comprehensive to
longer take any interest in the trifling phrases which these men whisper
among themselves when they wish to deceive others. In one word, I am
weary of Paris wherever and whenever you are not with me; and as I cannot
have you with me always, I wish to return to Blois."
"How wrong you are, Athos; how you gainsay your origin and the destiny of
your noble nature. Men of your stamp are created to continue, to the
very last moment, in full possession of their great faculties. Look at
my sword, a Spanish blade, the one I wore at La Rochelle; it served me
for thirty years without fail; one day in the winter it fell upon the
marble floor on the Louvre and was broken. I had a hunting-knife made
of it which will last a hundred years yet. You, Athos, with your
loyalty, your frankness, your cool courage, and your sound information,
are the very man kings need to warn and direct them. Remain here;
Monsieur Fouquet will not last as long as my Spanish blade."
"Is it possible," said Athos, smiling, "that my friend, D'Artagnan, who,
after having raised me to the skies, making me an object of worship,
casts me down from the top of Olympus, and hurls me to the ground? I
have more exalted ambition, D'Artagnan. To be a minister - to be a
slave, - never! Am I not still greater? I am nothing. I remember
having heard you occasionally call me 'the great Athos'; I defy you,
therefore, if I were minister, to continue to bestow that title upon me.
No, no; I do not yield myself in this manner."
"We will not speak of it any more, then; renounce everything, even the
brotherly feeling which unites us."
"It is almost cruel what you say."
D'Artagnan pressed Athos's hand warmly. "No, no; renounce everything
without fear. Raoul can get on without you. I am at Paris."
"In that case I shall return to Blois. We will take leave of each other
to-night; to-morrow at daybreak I shall be on my horse again."
"You cannot return to your hotel alone; why did you not bring Grimaud
"Grimaud takes his rest now; he goes to bed early, for my poor old
servant gets easily fatigued. He came from Blois with me, and I
compelled him to remain within doors; for if, in retracing the forty
leagues which separate us from Blois, he needed to draw breath even, he
would die without a murmur. But I don't want to lose Grimaud."
"You shall have one of my musketeers to carry a torch for you. _Hola!_
some one there," called out D'Artagnan, leaning over the gilded
balustrade. The heads of seven or eight musketeers appeared. "I wish
some gentleman, who is so disposed, to escort the Comte de la Fere,"
"Thank you for your readiness, gentlemen," said Athos; "I regret to have
occasion to trouble you in this manner."
"I would willingly escort the Comte de la Fere," said some one, "if I had
not to speak to Monsieur d'Artagnan."
"Who is that?" said D'Artagnan, looking into the darkness.
"I, Monsieur d'Artagnan."
"Heaven forgive me, if that is not Monsieur Baisemeaux's voice."
"It is, monsieur."
"What are you doing in the courtyard, my dear Baisemeaux?"
"I am waiting your orders, my dear Monsieur d'Artagnan."
"Wretch that I am," thought D'Artagnan; "true, you have been told, I
suppose, that some one was to be arrested, and have come yourself,
instead of sending an officer?"
"I came because I had occasion to speak to you."
"You did not send to me?"
"I waited until you were disengaged," said Monsieur Baisemeaux, timidly.
"I leave you, D'Artagnan," said Athos.
"Not before I have present Monsieur Baisemeaux de Montlezun, the governor
of the Bastile."
Baisemeaux and Athos saluted each other.
"Surely you must know each other," said D'Artagnan.
"I have an indistinct recollection of Monsieur Baisemeaux," said Athos.
"You remember, my dear, Baisemeaux, the king's guardsman with whom we
used formerly to have such delightful meetings in the cardinal's time?"
"Perfectly," said Athos, taking leave of him with affability.
"Monsieur le Comte de la Fere, whose _nom de guerre_ was Athos,"
whispered D'Artagnan to Baisemeaux.
"Yes, yes, a brave man, one of the celebrated four."
"Precisely so. But, my dear Baisemeaux, shall we talk now?"
"If you please."
"In the first place, as for the orders - there are none. The king does
not intend to arrest the person in question.
"So much the worse," said Baisemeaux with a sigh.
"What do you mean by so much the worse?" exclaimed D'Artagnan, laughing.
"No doubt of it," returned the governor, "my prisoners are my income."
"I beg your pardon, I did not see it in that light."
"And so there are no orders," repeated Baisemeaux with a sigh. "What an
admirable situation yours is, captain," he continued, after a pause;
"captain-lieutenant of the musketeers."
"Oh, it is good enough; but I don't see why you should envy me; you,
governor of the Bastile, the first castle in France."
"I am well aware of that," said Baisemeaux, in a sorrowful tone of voice.
"You say that like a man confessing his sins. I would willingly exchange
my profits for yours."
"Don't speak of profits to me, if you wish to save me the bitterest
anguish of mind."
"Why do you look first on one side and then on the other, as if you were
afraid of being arrested yourself, you whose business it is to arrest
"I was looking to see whether any one could see or listen to us; it would
be safer to confer more in private, if you would grant me such a favor."
"Baisemeaux, you seem to forget we are acquaintances of five and thirty
years' standing. Don't assume such sanctified airs; make yourself quite
comfortable; I don't eat governors of the Bastile raw."
"Heaven be praised!"
"Come into the courtyard with me; it's a beautiful moonlit night; we will
walk up and down, arm in arm, under the trees, while you tell me your
pitiful tale." He drew the doleful governor into the courtyard, took him
by the arm as he had said, and, in his rough, good-humored way, cried:
"Out with it, rattle away, Baisemeaux; what have you got to say?"
"It's a long story."
"You prefer your own lamentations, then; my opinion is, it will be longer
than ever. I'll wager you are making fifty thousand francs out of your
pigeons in the Bastile."
"Would to heaven that were the case, M. d'Artagnan."
"You surprise me, Baisemeaux; just look at you, acting the anchorite. I
should like to show you your face in a glass, and you would see how plump
and florid-looking you are, as fat and round as a cheese, with eyes like
lighted coals; and if it were not for that ugly wrinkle you try to
cultivate on your forehead, you would hardly look fifty years old, and
you are sixty, if I am not mistaken."
"All quite true."
"Of course I knew it was true, as true as the fifty thousand francs
profit you make;" at which remark Baisemeaux stamped on the ground.
"Well, well," said D'Artagnan, "I will add up your accounts for you: you
were captain of M. Mazarin's guards; and twelve thousand francs a year
would in twelve years amount to one hundred and forty thousand francs."
"Twelve thousand francs! Are you mad?" cried Baisemeaux; "the old miser
gave me no more than six thousand, and the expenses of the post amounted
to six thousand five hundred francs. M. Colbert, who deducted the other
six thousand francs, condescended to allow me to take fifty thousand
francs as a gratification; so that, if it were not for my little estate
at Montlezun, which brings me in twelve thousand francs a year, I could
not have met my engagements."
"Well, then, how about the fifty thousand francs from the Bastile?
There, I trust, you are boarded and lodged, and get your six thousand
francs salary besides."
"Whether the year be good or bad, there are fifty prisoners, who, on the
average, bring you in a thousand francs a year each."
"I don't deny it."
"Well, there is at once an income of fifty thousand francs; you have held
the post three years, and must have received in that time one hundred and
fifty thousand francs."
"You forget one circumstance, dear M. d'Artagnan."
"What is that?"
"That while you received your appointment as captain from the king
himself, I received mine as governor from Messieurs Tremblay and
"Quite right, and Tremblay was not a man to let you have the post for
"Nor Louviere either: the result was, that I gave seventy-five thousand
francs to Tremblay as his share."
"Very agreeable that! and to Louviere?"
"The very same."
"No: that would have been impossible. The king did not wish, or rather
M. Mazarin did not wish, to have the appearance of removing those two
gentlemen, who had sprung from the barricades; he permitted them,
therefore, to make certain extravagant conditions for their retirement."
"What were those conditions?"
"Tremble... three years' income for the good-will."
"The deuce! so that the one hundred and fifty thousand francs have passed
into their hands."
"And beyond that?"
"A sum of one hundred and fifty thousand francs, or fifteen thousand
pistoles, whichever you please, in three payments."
"Yes, but that is not all."
"In default of the fulfillment by me of any one of those conditions,
those gentlemen enter upon their functions again. The king has been
induced to sign that."
"It is monstrous, incredible!"
"Such is the fact, however."
"I do indeed pity you, Baisemeaux. But why, in the name of fortune, did
M. Mazarin grant you this pretended favor? It would have been far better
to have refused you altogether."
"Certainly, but he was strongly persuaded to do so by my protector."
"Who is he?"
"One of your own friends, indeed; M. d'Herblay."
"M. d'Herblay! Aramis!"
"Just so; he has been very kind towards me."
"Kind! to make you enter into such a bargain!"
"Listen! I wished to leave the cardinal's service. M. d'Herblay spoke
on my behalf to Louviere and Tremblay - they objected; I wished to have
the appointment very much, for I knew what it could be made to produce;
in my distress I confided in M. d'Herblay, and he offered to become my
surety for the different payments."
"You astound me! Aramis became your surety?"
"Like a man of honor; he procured the signature; Tremblay and Louviere
resigned their appointments; I have paid every year twenty-five thousand
francs to these two gentlemen; on the thirty-first of May, every year, M.
d'Herblay himself comes to the Bastile, and brings me five thousand
pistoles to distribute between my crocodiles."
"You owe Aramis one hundred and fifty thousand francs, then?"
"That is the very thing which is the cause of my despair, for I only owe
him one hundred thousand."
"I don't quite understand you."
"He came and settled with the vampires only two years. To-day, however,
is the thirty-first of May, and he has not been yet, and to-morrow, at
midday, the payment falls due; if, therefore, I don't pay to-morrow,
those gentlemen can, by the terms of the contract, break off the bargain;
I shall be stripped of everything; I shall have worked for three years,
and given two hundred and fifty thousand francs for nothing, absolutely
for nothing at all, dear M. d'Artagnan."
"This is very strange," murmured D'Artagnan.
"You can now imagine that I may well have wrinkles on my forehead, can
"And you can imagine, too, that notwithstanding I may be as round as a
cheese, with a complexion like an apple, and my eyes like coals on fire,
I may almost be afraid that I shall not have a cheese or an apple left me
to eat, and that my eyes will be left me only to weep with."
"It is really a very grievous affair."
"I have come to you, M. d'Artagnan, for you are the only man who can get
me out of my trouble."
"In what way?"
"You are acquainted with the Abbe d'Herblay, and you know that he is a
somewhat mysterious gentleman."
"Well, you can, perhaps, give me the address of his presbytery, for I
have been to Noisy-le-Sec, and he is no longer there."
"I should think not, indeed. He is Bishop of Vannes."
"What! Vannes in Bretagne?"
The little man began to tear his hair, saying, "How can I get to Vannes
from here by midday to-morrow? I am a lost man."
"Your despair quite distresses me."
"Vannes, Vannes!" cried Baisemeaux.
"But listen; a bishop is not always a resident. M. d'Herblay may not
possibly be so far away as you fear."
"Pray tell me his address."
"I really don't know it."
"In that case I am lost. I will go and throw myself at the king's feet."
"But, Baisemeaux, I can hardly believe what you tell me; besides, since
the Bastile is capable of producing fifty thousand francs a year, why
have you not tried to screw one hundred thousand out of it?"
"Because I am an honest man, M. d'Artagnan, and because my prisoners are
fed like ambassadors."
"Well, you're in a fair way to get out of your difficulties; give
yourself a good attack of indigestion with your excellent living, and
put yourself out of the way between this and midday to-morrow."
"How can you be hard-hearted enough to laugh?"
"Nay, you really afflict me. Come, Baisemeaux, if you can pledge me your
word of honor, do so, that you will not open your lips to any one about
what I am going to say to you."
"You wish to put your hands on Aramis?"
"At any cost!"
"Well, go and see where M. Fouquet is."
"Why, what connection can there be - "
"How stupid you are! Don't you know that Vannes is in the diocese of
Belle-Isle, or Belle-Isle in the diocese of Vannes? Belle-Isle belongs
to M. Fouquet, and M. Fouquet nominated M. d'Herblay to that bishopric!"
"I see, I see; you restore me to life again."
"So much the better. Go and tell M. Fouquet very simply that you wish to
speak to M. d'Herblay."
"Of course, of course," exclaimed Baisemeaux, delightedly.
"But," said D'Artagnan, checking him by a severe look, "your word of
"I give you my sacred word of honor," replied the little man, about to
set off running.
"Where are you going?"
"To M. Fouquet's house."
"It is useless doing that; M. Fouquet is playing at cards with the king.
All you can do is to pay M. Fouquet a visit early to-morrow morning."
"I will do so. Thank you."
"Good luck attend you," said D'Artagnan.
"This is a strange affair," murmured D'Artagnan, as he slowly ascended
the staircase after he had left Baisemeaux. "What possible interest can
Aramis have in obliging Baisemeaux in this manner? Well, I suppose we
shall learn some day or another."
The King's Card-Table.
Fouquet was present, as D'Artagnan had said, at the king's card-table.
It seemed as if Buckingham's departure had shed a balm on the lacerated
hearts of the previous evening. Monsieur, radiant with delight, made a
thousand affectionate signs to his mother. The Count de Guiche could not
separate himself from Buckingham, and while playing, conversed with him
upon the circumstance of his projected voyage. Buckingham, thoughtful,
and kind in his manner, like a man who has adopted a resolution, listened
to the count, and from time to time cast a look full of regret and
hopeless affection at Madame. The princess, in the midst of her elation
of spirits, divided her attention between the king, who was playing with
her, Monsieur, who quietly joked her about her enormous winnings, and De
Guiche, who exhibited an extravagant delight. Of Buckingham she took but
little notice; for her, this fugitive, this exile, was now simply a
remembrance, no longer a man. Light hearts are thus constituted; while
they themselves continue untouched, they roughly break off with every one
who may possibly interfere with their little calculations of self
comfort. Madame had received Buckingham's smiles and attentions and
sighs while he was present; but what was the good of sighing, smiling,
and kneeling at a distance? Can one tell in what direction the winds in
the Channel, which toss mighty vessels to and fro, carry such sighs as
these? The duke could not fail to mark this change, and his heart was
cruelly hurt. Of a sensitive character, proud and susceptible of deep
attachment, he cursed the day on which such a passion had entered his
heart. The looks he cast, from time to time at Madame, became colder by
degrees at the chilling complexion of his thoughts. He could hardly yet
despair, but he was strong enough to impose silence upon the tumultuous
outcries of his heart. In exact proportion, however, as Madame suspected
this change of feeling, she redoubled her activity to regain the ray of
light she was about to lose; her timid and indecisive mind was displayed
in brilliant flashes of wit and humor. At any cost she felt that she
must be remarked above everything and every one, even above the king
himself. And she was so, for the queens, notwithstanding their dignity,
and the king, despite the respect which etiquette required, were all
eclipsed by her. The queens, stately and ceremonious, were softened and
could not restrain their laughter. Madame Henriette, the queen-mother,
was dazzled by the brilliancy which cast distinction upon her family,
thanks to the wit of the grand-daughter of Henry IV. The king, jealous,
as a young man and as a monarch, of the superiority of those who
surrounded him, could not resist admitting himself vanquished by a
petulance so thoroughly French in its nature, whose energy more than ever
increased by English humor. Like a child, he was captivated by her
radiant beauty, which her wit made still more dazzling. Madame's eyes
flashed like lightning. Wit and humor escaped from her scarlet lips like
persuasion from the lips of Nestor of old. The whole court, subdued by
her enchanting grace, noticed for the first time that laughter could be
indulged in before the greatest monarch in the world, like people who
merited their appellation of the wittiest and most polished people in
Madame, from that evening, achieved and enjoyed a success capable of
bewildering all not born to those altitudes termed thrones; which, in
spite of their elevation, are sheltered from such giddiness. From that
very moment Louis XIV. acknowledged Madame as a person to be recognized.
Buckingham regarded her as a coquette deserving the cruelest tortures,
and De Guiche looked upon her as a divinity; the courtiers as a star
whose light might some day become the focus of all favor and power. And
yet Louis XIV., a few years previously, had not even condescended to
offer his hand to that "ugly girl" for a ballet; and Buckingham had
worshipped this coquette "on both knees." De Guiche had once looked upon
this divinity as a mere woman; and the courtiers had not dared to extol
this star in her upward progress, fearful to disgust the monarch whom
such a dull star had formerly displeased.
Let us see what was taking place during this memorable evening at the
king's card-table. The young queen, although Spanish by birth, and the
niece of Anne of Austria, loved the king, and could not conceal her
affection. Anne of Austria, a keen observer, like all women, and
imperious, like every queen, was sensible of Madame's power, and
acquiesced in it immediately, a circumstance which induced the young
queen to raise the siege and retire to her apartments. The king hardly
paid any attention to her departure, notwithstanding the pretended
symptoms of indisposition by which it was accompanied. Encouraged by the
rules of etiquette, which he had begun to introduce at the court as an
element of every relation of life, Louis XIV. did not disturb himself; he
offered his hand to Madame without looking at Monsieur his brother, and
led the young princess to the door of her apartments. It was remarked,
that at the threshold of the door, his majesty, freed from every
restraint, or not equal to the situation, sighed very deeply. The ladies
present - nothing escapes a woman's glance - Mademoiselle Montalais, for
instance - did not fail to say to each other, "the king sighed," and
"Madame sighed too." This had been indeed the case. Madame had sighed
very noiselessly, but with an accompaniment very far more dangerous for
the king's repose. Madame had sighed, first closing her beautiful black
eyes, next opening them, and then, laden, as they were, with an
indescribable mournfulness of expression, she had raised them towards the
king, whose face at that moment visibly heightened in color. The
consequence of these blushes, of those interchanged sighs, and of this
royal agitation, was, that Montalais had committed an indiscretion which
had certainly affected her companion, for Mademoiselle de la Valliere,
less clear sighted, perhaps, turned pale when the king blushed; and her
attendance being required upon Madame, she tremblingly followed the
princess without thinking of taking the gloves, which court etiquette
required her to do. True it is that the young country girl might allege
as her excuse the agitation into which the king seemed to be thrown, for
Mademoiselle de la Valliere, busily engaged in closing the door, had
involuntarily fixed her eyes upon the king, who, as he retired backwards,
had his face towards it. The king returned to the room where the card-
tables were set out. He wished to speak to the different persons there,
but it was easy to see that his mind was absent. He jumbled different
accounts together, which was taken advantage of by some of the noblemen
who had retained those habits since the time of Monsieur Mazarin - who
had a poor memory, but was a good calculator. In this way, Monsieur
Manicamp, with a thoughtless and absent air - for M. Manicamp was the
honestest man in the world, appropriated twenty thousand francs, which
were littering the table, and which did not seem to belong to any person
in particular. In the same way, Monsieur de Wardes, whose head was
doubtless a little bewildered by the occurrences of the evening, somehow
forgot to leave behind him the sixty double louis which he had won for
the Duke of Buckingham, and which the duke, incapable, like his father,
of soiling his hands with coin of any sort, had left lying on the table
before him. The king only recovered his attention in some degree at the
moment that Monsieur Colbert, who had been narrowly observant for some
minutes, approached, and, doubtless, with great respect, yet with much
perseverance, whispered a counsel of some sort into the still tingling
ears of the king. The king, at the suggestion, listened with renewed
attention and immediately looking around him, said, "Is Monsieur Fouquet
no longer here?"
"Yes, sire, I am here," replied the superintendent, till then engaged
with Buckingham, and approached the king, who advanced a step towards him
with a smiling yet negligent air. "Forgive me," said Louis, "if I
interrupt your conversation; but I claim your attention wherever I may
require your services."
"I am always at the king's service," replied Fouquet.
"And your cash-box, too," said the king, laughing with a false smile.
"My cash-box more than anything else," said Fouquet, coldly.
"The fact is, I wish to give a _fete_ at Fontainebleau - to keep open
house for fifteen days, and I shall require - " and he stopped, glancing
at Colbert. Fouquet waited without showing discomposure; and the king
resumed, answering Colbert's icy smile, "four million francs."
"Four million," repeated Fouquet, bowing profoundly. And his nails,
buried in his bosom, were thrust into his flesh, but the tranquil
expression of his face remained unaltered. "When will they be required,
"Take your time, - I mean - no, no; as soon as possible."
"A certain time will be necessary, sire."
"Time!" exclaimed Colbert, triumphantly.
"The time, monsieur," said the superintendent, with the haughtiest
disdain, "simply to _count the money_; a million can only be drawn and
weighed in a day."
"Four days, then," said Colbert.
"My clerks," replied Fouquet, addressing himself to the king, "will
perform wonders on his majesty's service, and the sum shall be ready in
It was for Colbert now to turn pale. Louis looked at him astonished.
Fouquet withdrew without any parade or weakness, smiling at his numerous
friends, in whose countenances alone he read the sincerity of their
friendship - an interest partaking of compassion. Fouquet, however,
should not be judged by his smile, for, in reality, he felt as if he had
been stricken by death. Drops of blood beneath his coat stained the fine
linen that clothed his chest. His dress concealed the blood, and his
smile the rage which devoured him. His domestics perceived, by the
manner in which he approached his carriage, that their master was not in
the best of humors: the result of their discernment was, that his orders
were executed with that exactitude of maneuver which is found on board a
man-of-war, commanded during a storm by an ill-tempered captain. The
carriage, therefore, did not simply roll along - it flew. Fouquet had
hardly time to recover himself during the drive; on his arrival he went
at once to Aramis, who had not yet retired for the night. As for
Porthos, he had supped very agreeably off a roast leg of mutton, two
pheasants, and a perfect heap of cray-fish; he then directed his body to
be anointed with perfumed oils, in the manner of the wrestlers of old;
and when this anointment was completed, he had himself wrapped in
flannels and placed in a warm bed. Aramis, as we have already said, had
not retired. Seated at his ease in a velvet dressing-gown, he wrote
letter after letter in that fine and hurried handwriting, a page of which
contained a quarter of a volume. The door was thrown hurriedly open, and
the superintendent appeared, pale, agitated, anxious. Aramis looked up:
"Good-evening," said he; and his searching look detected his host's
sadness and disordered state of mind. "Was your play as good as his
majesty's?" asked Aramis, by way of beginning the conversation.
Fouquet threw himself upon a couch, and then pointed to the door to the
servant who had followed him; when the servant had left he said,
Aramis, who had followed every movement with his eyes, noticed that he
stretched himself upon the cushions with a sort of feverish impatience.
"You have lost as usual?" inquired Aramis, his pen still in his hand.
"Even more than usual," replied Fouquet.
"You know how to support losses?"
"What, Monsieur Fouquet a bad player!"
"There is play and play, Monsieur d'Herblay."
"How much have you lost?" inquired Aramis, with a slight uneasiness.
Fouquet collected himself a moment, and then, without the slightest
emotion, said, "The evening has cost me four millions," and a bitter
laugh drowned the last vibration of these words.
Aramis, who did not expect such an amount, dropped his pen. "Four
millions," he said; "you have lost four millions, - impossible!"
"Monsieur Colbert held my cards for me," replied the superintendent, with
a similar bitter laugh.
"Ah, now I understand; so, so, a new application for funds?"
"Yes, and from the king's own lips. It was impossible to ruin a man with
a more charming smile. What do you think of it?"
"It is clear that your destruction is the object in view."
"That is your opinion?"
"Still. Besides, there is nothing in it which should astonish you, for
we have foreseen it all along."
"Yes; but I did not expect four millions."
"No doubt the amount is serious, but, after all, four millions are not
quite the death of a man, especially when the man in question is Monsieur
"My dear D'Herblay, if you knew the contents of my coffers, you would be
"And you promised?"
"What could I _do?_"
"The very day I refuse, Colbert will procure the money; whence I know
not, but he _will_ procure it: and I shall be lost."
"There is no doubt of that. In how many days did you promise the four
"In three days. The king seemed exceedingly pressed."
"_In three days?_"
"When I think," resumed Fouquet, "that just now as I passed along the
streets, the people cried out, 'There is the rich Monsieur Fouquet,' it
is enough to turn my brain."
"Stay, monsieur, the matter is not worth so much trouble," said Aramis,
calmly, sprinkling some sand over the letter he had just written.
"Suggest a remedy, then, for this evil without a remedy."
"There is only one remedy for you, - pay."
"But it is very uncertain whether I have the money. Everything must be
exhausted; Belle-Isle is paid for; the pension has been paid; and money,
since the investigation of the accounts of those who farm the revenue, is
scarce. Besides, admitting that I pay this time, how can I do so on
another occasion? When kings have tasted money, they are like tigers who
have tasted flesh, they devour everything. The day will arrive - _must_
arrive - when I shall have to say, 'Impossible, sire,' and on that very
day I am a lost man."
Aramis raised his shoulders slightly, saying:
"A man in your position, my lord, is only lost when he wishes to be so."
"A man, whatever his position may be, cannot hope to struggle against a
"Nonsense; when I was young I wrestled successfully with the Cardinal
Richelieu, who was king of France, - nay more - cardinal."
"Where are my armies, my troops, my treasures? I have not even Belle-
"Bah! necessity is the mother of invention, and when you think all is
lost, something will be discovered which will retrieve everything."
"Who will discover this wonderful something?"
"I! I resign my office of inventor."
"Then _I_ will."
"Be it so. But set to work without delay."
"Oh! we have time enough!"
"You kill me, D'Herblay, with your calmness," said the superintendent,
passing his handkerchief over his face.
"Do you not remember that I one day told you not to make yourself uneasy,
if you possessed courage? _Have_ you any?"
"I believe so."
"Then don't make yourself uneasy."
"It is decided then, that, at the last moment, you will come to my
"It will only be the repayment of a debt I owe you."
"It is the vocation of financiers to anticipate the wants of men such as