Part 1 out of 20
Twenty Years After
by Alexandre Dumas
The Shade of Cardinal Richelieu.
In a splendid chamber of the Palais Royal, formerly styled
the Palais Cardinal, a man was sitting in deep reverie, his
head supported on his hands, leaning over a gilt and inlaid
table which was covered with letters and papers. Behind this
figure glowed a vast fireplace alive with leaping flames;
great logs of oak blazed and crackled on the polished brass
andirons whose flicker shone upon the superb habiliments of
the lonely tenant of the room, which was illumined grandly
by twin candelabra rich with wax-lights.
Any one who happened at that moment to contemplate that red
simar -- the gorgeous robe of office -- and the rich lace,
or who gazed on that pale brow, bent in anxious meditation,
might, in the solitude of that apartment, combined with the
silence of the ante-chambers and the measured paces of the
guards upon the landing-place, have fancied that the shade
of Cardinal Richelieu lingered still in his accustomed
It was, alas! the ghost of former greatness. France
enfeebled, the authority of her sovereign contemned, her
nobles returning to their former turbulence and insolence,
her enemies within her frontiers -- all proved the great
Richelieu no longer in existence.
In truth, that the red simar which occupied the wonted place
was his no longer, was still more strikingly obvious from
the isolation which seemed, as we have observed, more
appropriate to a phantom than a living creature -- from the
corridors deserted by courtiers, and courts crowded with
guards -- from that spirit of bitter ridicule, which,
arising from the streets below, penetrated through the very
casements of the room, which resounded with the murmurs of a
whole city leagued against the minister; as well as from the
distant and incessant sounds of guns firing -- let off,
happily, without other end or aim, except to show to the
guards, the Swiss troops and the military who surrounded the
Palais Royal, that the people were possessed of arms.
The shade of Richelieu was Mazarin. Now Mazarin was alone
and defenceless, as he well knew.
"Foreigner!" he ejaculated, "Italian! that is their mean yet
mighty byword of reproach -- the watchword with which they
assassinated, hanged, and made away with Concini; and if I
gave them their way they would assassinate, hang, and make
away with me in the same manner, although they have nothing
to complain of except a tax or two now and then. Idiots!
ignorant of their real enemies, they do not perceive that it
is not the Italian who speaks French badly, but those who
can say fine things to them in the purest Parisian accent,
who are their real foes.
"Yes, yes," Mazarin continued, whilst his wonted smile, full
of subtlety, lent a strange expression to his pale lips;
"yes, these noises prove to me, indeed, that the destiny of
favorites is precarious; but ye shall know I am no ordinary
favorite. No! The Earl of Essex, 'tis true, wore a splendid
ring, set with diamonds, given him by his royal mistress,
whilst I -- I have nothing but a simple circlet of gold,
with a cipher on it and a date; but that ring has been
blessed in the chapel of the Palais Royal,* so they will
never ruin me, as they long to do, and whilst they shout,
`Down with Mazarin!' I, unknown, and unperceived by them,
incite them to cry out, `Long live the Duke de Beaufort' one
day; another, `Long live the Prince de Conde;' and again,
`Long live the parliament!'" And at this word the smile on
the cardinal's lips assumed an expression of hatred, of
which his mild countenance seemed incapable. "The
parliament! We shall soon see how to dispose," he continued,
"of the parliament! Both Orleans and Montargis are ours. It
will be a work of time, but those who have begun by crying
out: Down with Mazarin! will finish by shouting out, Down
with all the people I have mentioned, each in his turn.
* It is said that Mazarin, who, though a cardinal, had not
taken such vows as to prevent it, was secretly married to
Anne of Austria. -- La Porte's Memoirs.
"Richelieu, whom they hated during his lifetime and whom
they now praise after his death, was even less popular than
I am. Often he was driven away, oftener still had he a dread
of being sent away. The queen will never banish me, and even
were I obliged to yield to the populace she would yield with
me; if I fly, she will fly; and then we shall see how the
rebels will get on without either king or queen.
"Oh, were I not a foreigner! were I but a Frenchman! were I
but of gentle birth!"
The position of the cardinal was indeed critical, and recent
events had added to his difficulties. Discontent had long
pervaded the lower ranks of society in France. Crushed and
impoverished by taxation -- imposed by Mazarin, whose
avarice impelled him to grind them down to the very dust --
the people, as the Advocate-General Talon described it, had
nothing left to them except their souls; and as those could
not be sold by auction, they began to murmur. Patience had
in vain been recommended to them by reports of brilliant
victories gained by France; laurels, however, were not meat
and drink, and the people had for some time been in a state
Had this been all, it might not, perhaps, have greatly
signified; for when the lower classes alone complained, the
court of France, separated as it was from the poor by the
intervening classes of the gentry and the bourgeoisie,
seldom listened to their voice; but unluckily, Mazarin had
had the imprudence to attack the magistrates and had sold no
less than twelve appointments in the Court of Requests, at a
high price; and as the officers of that court paid very
dearly for their places, and as the addition of twelve new
colleagues would necessarily lower the value of each place,
the old functionaries formed a union amongst themselves,
and, enraged, swore on the Bible not to allow of this
addition to their number, but to resist all the persecutions
which might ensue; and should any one of them chance to
forfeit his post by this resistance, to combine to indemnify
him for his loss.
Now the following occurrences had taken place between the
two contending parties
On the seventh of January between seven and eight hundred
tradesmen had assembled in Paris to discuss a new tax which
was to be levied on house property. They deputed ten of
their number to wait upon the Duke of Orleans, who,
according to his custom, affected popularity. The duke
received them and they informed him that they were resolved
not to pay this tax, even if they were obliged to defend
themselves against its collectors by force of arms. They
were listened to with great politeness by the duke, who held
out hopes of easier measures, promised to speak in their
behalf to the queen, and dismissed them with the ordinary
expression of royalty, "We will see what we can do."
Two days afterward these same magistrates appeared before
the cardinal and their spokesman addressed Mazarin with so
much fearlessness and determination that the minister was
astounded and sent the deputation away with the same answer
as it had received from the Duke of Orleans -- that he would
see what could be done; and in accordance with that
intention a council of state was assembled and the
superintendent of finance was summoned.
This man, named Emery, was the object of popular
detestation, in the first place because he was
superintendent of finance, and every superintendent of
finance deserved to be hated; in the second place, because
he rather deserved the odium which he had incurred.
He was the son of a banker at Lyons named Particelli, who,
after becoming a bankrupt, chose to change his name to
Emery; and Cardinal Richelieu having discovered in him great
financial aptitude, had introduced him with a strong
recommendation to Louis XIII. under his assumed name, in
order that he might be appointed to the post he subsequently
"You surprise me!" exclaimed the monarch. "I am rejoiced to
hear you speak of Monsieur d'Emery as calculated for a post
which requires a man of probity. I was really afraid that
you were going to force that villain Particelli upon me."
"Sire," replied Richelieu, "rest assured that Particelli,
the man to whom your majesty refers, has been hanged."
"Ah; so much the better!" exclaimed the king. "It is not for
nothing that I am styled Louis the Just." and he signed
This was the same Emery who became eventually superintendent
He was sent for by the ministers and he came before them
pale and trembling, declaring that his son had very nearly
been assassinated the day before, near the palace. The mob
had insulted him on account of the ostentatious luxury of
his wife, whose house was hung with red velvet edged with
gold fringe. This lady was the daughter of Nicholas de
Camus, who arrived in Paris with twenty francs in his
pocket, became secretary of state, and accumulated wealth
enough to divide nine millions of francs among his children
and to keep an income of forty thousand for himself.
The fact was that Emery's son had run a great chance of
being suffocated, one of the rioters having proposed to
squeeze him until he gave up all the gold he had swallowed.
Nothing, therefore, was settled that day, as Emery's head
was not steady enough for business after such an occurrence.
On the next day Mathieu Mole, the chief president, whose
courage at this crisis, says the Cardinal de Retz, was equal
to that of the Duc de Beaufort and the Prince de Conde -- in
other words, of the two men who were considered the bravest
in France -- had been attacked in his turn. The people
threatened to hold him responsible for the evils that hung
over them. But the chief president had replied with his
habitual coolness, without betraying either disturbance or
surprise, that should the agitators refuse obedience to the
king's wishes he would have gallows erected in the public
squares and proceed at once to hang the most active among
them. To which the others had responded that they would be
glad to see the gallows erected; they would serve for the
hanging of those detestable judges who purchased favor at
court at the price of the people's misery.
Nor was this all. On the eleventh the queen in going to mass
at Notre Dame, as she always did on Saturdays, was followed
by more than two hundred women demanding justice. These poor
creatures had no bad intentions. They wished only to be
allowed to fall on their knees before their sovereign, and
that they might move her to compassion; but they were
prevented by the royal guard and the queen proceeded on her
way, haughtily disdainful of their entreaties.
At length parliament was convoked; the authority of the king
was to be maintained.
One day -- it was the morning of the day my story begins --
the king, Louis XIV., then ten years of age, went in state,
under pretext of returning thanks for his recovery from the
small-pox, to Notre Dame. He took the opportunity of calling
out his guard, the Swiss troops and the musketeers, and he
had planted them round the Palais Royal, on the quays, and
on the Pont Neuf. After mass the young monarch drove to the
Parliament House, where, upon the throne, he hastily
confirmed not only such edicts as he had already passed, but
issued new ones, each one, according to Cardinal de Retz,
more ruinous than the others -- a proceeding which drew
forth a strong remonstrance from the chief president, Mole
-- whilst President Blancmesnil and Councillor Broussel
raised their voices in indignation against fresh taxes.
The king returned amidst the silence of a vast multitude to
the Palais Royal. All minds were uneasy, most were
foreboding, many of the people used threatening language.
At first, indeed, they were doubtful whether the king's
visit to the parliament had been in order to lighten or
increase their burdens; but scarcely was it known that the
taxes were to be still further increased, when cries of
"Down with Mazarin!" "Long live Broussel!" "Long live
Blancmesnil!" resounded through the city. For the people had
learned that Broussel and Blancmesnil had made speeches in
their behalf, and, although the eloquence of these deputies
had been without avail, it had none the less won for them
the people's good-will. All attempts to disperse the groups
collected in the streets, or silence their exclamations,
were in vain. Orders had just been given to the royal guards
and the Swiss guards, not only to stand firm, but to send
out patrols to the streets of Saint Denis and Saint Martin,
where the people thronged and where they were the most
vociferous, when the mayor of Paris was announced at the
He was shown in directly; he came to say that if these
offensive precautions were not discontinued, in two hours
Paris would be under arms.
Deliberations were being held when a lieutenant in the
guards, named Comminges, made his appearance, with his
clothes all torn, his face streaming with blood. The queen
on seeing him uttered a cry of surprise and asked him what
was going on.
As the mayor had foreseen, the sight of the guards had
exasperated the mob. The tocsin was sounded. Comminges had
arrested one of the ringleaders and had ordered him to be
hanged near the cross of Du Trahoir; but in attempting to
execute this command the soldiery were attacked in the
market-place with stones and halberds; the delinquent had
escaped to the Rue des Lombards and rushed into a house.
They broke open the doors and searched the dwelling, but in
vain. Comminges, wounded by a stone which had struck him on
the forehead, had left a picket in the street and returned
to the Palais Royal, followed by a menacing crowd, to tell
This account confirmed that of the mayor. The authorities
were not in a condition to cope with serious revolt. Mazarin
endeavored to circulate among the people a report that
troops had only been stationed on the quays and on the Pont
Neuf, on account of the ceremonial of the day, and that they
would soon withdraw. In fact, about four o'clock they were
all concentrated about the Palais Royal, the courts and
ground floors of which were filled with musketeers and Swiss
guards, and there awaited the outcome of all this
Such was the state of affairs at the very moment we
introduced our readers to the study of Cardinal Mazarin --
once that of Cardinal Richelieu. We have seen in what state
of mind he listened to the murmurs from below, which even
reached him in his seclusion, and to the guns, the firing of
which resounded through that room. All at once he raised his
head; his brow slightly contracted like that of a man who
has formed a resolution; he fixed his eyes upon an enormous
clock that was about to strike ten, and taking up a whistle
of silver gilt that stood upon the table near him, he
shrilled it twice.
A door hidden in the tapestry opened noiselessly and a man
in black silently advanced and stood behind the chair on
which Mazarin sat.
"Bernouin," said the cardinal, not turning round, for having
whistled, he knew that it was his valet-de-chambre who was
behind him; "what musketeers are now within the palace?"
"The Black Musketeers, my lord."
"Is there any officer belonging to this company in the
"A man on whom we can depend, I hope."
"Yes, my lord."
"Give me a uniform of one of these musketeers and help me to
put it on."
The valet went out as silently as he had entered and
appeared in a few minutes bringing the dress demanded.
The cardinal, in deep thought and in silence, began to take
off the robes of state he had assumed in order to be present
at the sitting of parliament, and to attire himself in the
military coat, which he wore with a certain degree of easy
grace, owing to his former campaigns in Italy. When he was
completely dressed he said:
"Send hither Monsieur d'Artagnan."
The valet went out of the room, this time by the centre
door, but still as silently as before; one might have
fancied him an apparition.
When he was left alone the cardinal looked at himself in the
glass with a feeling of self-satisfaction. Still young --
for he was scarcely forty-six years of age -- he possessed
great elegance of form and was above the middle height; his
complexion was brilliant and beautiful; his glance full of
expression; his nose, though large, was well proportioned;
his forehead broad and majestic; his hair, of a chestnut
color, was curled slightly; his beard, which was darker than
his hair, was turned carefully with a curling iron, a
practice that greatly improved it. After a short time the
cardinal arranged his shoulder belt, then looked with great
complacency at his hands, which were most elegant and of
which he took the greatest care; and throwing on one side
the large kid gloves tried on at first, as belonging to the
uniform, he put on others of silk only. At this instant the
"Monsieur d'Artagnan," said the valet-de-chambre.
An officer, as he spoke, entered the apartment. He was a man
between thirty-nine and forty years of age, of medium height
but a very well proportioned figure; with an intellectual
and animated physiognomy; his beard black, and his hair
turning gray, as often happens when people have found life
either too gay or too sad, more especially when they happen
to be of swart complexion.
D'Artagnan advanced a few steps into the apartment.
How perfectly he remembered his former entrance into that
very room! Seeing, however, no one there except a musketeer
of his own troop, he fixed his eyes upon the supposed
soldier, in whose dress, nevertheless, he recognized at the
first glance the cardinal.
The lieutenant remained standing in a dignified but
respectful posture, such as became a man of good birth, who
had in the course of his life been frequently in the society
of the highest nobles.
The cardinal looked at him with a cunning rather than
serious glance, yet he examined his countenance with
attention and after a momentary silence said:
"You are Monsieur d'Artagnan?"
"I am that individual," replied the officer.
Mazarin gazed once more at a countenance full of
intelligence, the play of which had been, nevertheless,
subdued by age and experience; and D'Artagnan received the
penetrating glance like one who had formerly sustained many
a searching look, very different, indeed, from those which
were inquiringly directed on him at that instant.
"Sir," resumed the cardinal, "you are to come with me, or
rather, I am to go with you."
"I am at your command, my lord," returned D'Artagnan.
"I wish to visit in person the outposts which surround the
Palais Royal; do you suppose that there is any danger in so
"Danger, my lord!" exclaimed D'Artagnan with a look of
astonishment, "what danger?"
"I am told that there is a general insurrection."
"The uniform of the king's musketeers carries a certain
respect with it, and even if that were not the case I would
engage with four of my men to put to flight a hundred of
"Did you witness the injury sustained by Comminges?"
"Monsieur de Comminges is in the guards and not in the
musketeers ---- "
"Which means, I suppose, that the musketeers are better
soldiers than the guards." The cardinal smiled as he spoke.
"Every one likes his own uniform best, my lord."
"Myself excepted," and again Mazarin smiled; "for you
perceive that I have left off mine and put on yours."
"Lord bless us! this is modesty indeed!" cried D'Artagnan.
"Had I such a uniform as your eminence possesses, I protest
I should be mightily content, and I would take an oath never
to wear any other costume ---- "
"Yes, but for to-night's adventure I don't suppose my dress
would have been a very safe one. Give me my felt hat,
The valet instantly brought to his master a regimental hat
with a wide brim. The cardinal put it on in military style.
"Your horses are ready saddled in their stables, are they
not?" he said, turning to D'Artagnan.
"Yes, my lord."
"Well, let us set out."
"How many men does your eminence wish to escort you?"
"You say that with four men you will undertake to disperse a
hundred low fellows; as it may happen that we shall have to
encounter two hundred, take eight ---- "
"As many as my lord wishes."
"I will follow you. This way -- light us downstairs Bernouin.
The valet held a wax-light; the cardinal took a key from his
bureau and opening the door of a secret stair descended into
the court of the Palais Royal.
A Nightly Patrol.
In ten minutes Mazarin and his party were traversing the
street "Les Bons Enfants" behind the theatre built by
Richelieu expressly for the play of "Mirame," and in which
Mazarin, who was an amateur of music, but not of literature,
had introduced into France the first opera that was ever
acted in that country.
The appearance of the town denoted the greatest agitation.
Numberless groups paraded the streets and, whatever
D'Artagnan might think of it, it was obvious that the
citizens had for the night laid aside their usual
forbearance, in order to assume a warlike aspect. From time
to time noises came in the direction of the public markets.
The report of firearms was heard near the Rue Saint Denis
and occasionally church bells began to ring indiscriminately
and at the caprice of the populace. D'Artagnan, meantime,
pursued his way with the indifference of a man upon whom
such acts of folly made no impression. When he approached a
group in the middle of the street he urged his horse upon it
without a word of warning; and the members of the group,
whether rebels or not, as if they knew with what sort of a
man they had to deal, at once gave place to the patrol. The
cardinal envied that composure, which he attributed to the
habit of meeting danger; but none the less he conceived for
the officer under whose orders he had for the moment placed
himself, that consideration which even prudence pays to
careless courage. On approaching an outpost near the
Barriere des Sergens, the sentinel cried out, "Who's there?"
and D'Artagnan answered -- having first asked the word of
the cardinal -- "Louis and Rocroy." After which he inquired
if Lieutenant Comminges were not the commanding officer at
the outpost. The soldier replied by pointing out to him an
officer who was conversing, on foot, his hand upon the neck
of a horse on which the individual to whom he was talking
sat. Here was the officer D'Artagnan was seeking.
"Here is Monsieur Comminges," said D'Artagnan, returning to
the cardinal. He instantly retired, from a feeling of
respectful delicacy; it was, however, evident that the
cardinal was recognized by both Comminges and the other
officers on horseback.
"Well done, Guitant," cried the cardinal to the equestrian;
"I see plainly that, notwithstanding the sixty-four years
that have passed over your head, you are still the same man,
active and zealous. What were you saying to this youngster?"
"My lord," replied Guitant, "I was observing that we live in
troublous times and that to-day's events are very like those
in the days of the Ligue, of which I heard so much in my
youth. Are you aware that the mob have even suggested
throwing up barricades in the Rue Saint Denis and the Rue
"And what was Comminges saying to you in reply, my good
"My lord," said Comminges, "I answered that to compose a
Ligue only one ingredient was wanting -- in my opinion an
essential one -- a Duc de Guise; moreover, no generation
ever does the same thing twice."
"No, but they mean to make a Fronde, as they call it," said
"And what is a Fronde?" inquired Mazarin.
"My lord, Fronde is the name the discontented give to their
"And what is the origin of this name?"
"It seems that some days since Councillor Bachaumont
remarked at the palace that rebels and agitators reminded
him of schoolboys slinging -- qui frondent -- stones from
the moats round Paris, young urchins who run off the moment
the constable appears, only to return to their diversion the
instant his back is turned. So they have picked up the word
and the insurrectionists are called `Frondeurs,' and
yesterday every article sold was `a la Fronde;' bread `a la
Fronde,' hats `a la Fronde,' to say nothing of gloves,
pocket-handkerchiefs, and fans; but listen ---- "
At that moment a window opened and a man began to sing:
"A tempest from the Fronde
Did blow to-day:
I think 'twill blow
Sieur Mazarin away."
"Insolent wretch!" cried Guitant.
"My lord," said Comminges, who, irritated by his wounds,
wished for revenge and longed to give back blow for blow,
"shall I fire off a ball to punish that jester, and to warn
him not to sing so much out of tune in the future?"
And as he spoke he put his hand on the holster of his
"Certainly not! certainly not," exclaimed Mazarin. "Diavolo!
my dear friend, you are going to spoil everything --
everything is going on famously. I know the French as well
as if I had made them myself. They sing -- let them pay the
piper. During the Ligue, about which Guitant was speaking
just now, the people chanted nothing except the mass, so
everything went to destruction. Come, Guitant, come along,
and let's see if they keep watch at the Quinze-Vingts as at
the Barriere des Sergens."
And waving his hand to Comminges he rejoined D'Artagnan, who
instantly put himself at the head of his troop, followed by
the cardinal, Guitant and the rest of the escort.
"Just so," muttered Comminges, looking after Mazarin. "True,
I forgot; provided he can get money out of the people, that
is all he wants."
The street of Saint Honore, when the cardinal and his party
passed through it, was crowded by an assemblage who,
standing in groups, discussed the edicts of that memorable
day. They pitied the young king, who was unconsciously
ruining his country, and threw all the odium of his
proceedings on Mazarin. Addresses to the Duke of Orleans and
to Conde were suggested. Blancmesnil and Broussel seemed in
the highest favor.
D'Artagnan passed through the very midst of this
discontented mob just as if his horse and he had been made
of iron. Mazarin and Guitant conversed together in whispers.
The musketeers, who had already discovered who Mazarin was,
followed in profound silence. In the street of Saint
Thomas-du-Louvre they stopped at the barrier distinguished
by the name of Quinze-Vingts. Here Guitant spoke to one of
the subalterns, asking how matters were progressing.
"Ah, captain!" said the officer, "everything is quiet
hereabout -- if I did not know that something is going on in
And he pointed to a magnificent hotel situated on the very
spot whereon the Vaudeville now stands.
"In that hotel? it is the Hotel Rambouillet," cried Guitant.
"I really don't know what hotel it is; all I do know is that
I observed some suspicious looking people go in there ---- "
"Nonsense!" exclaimed Guitant, with a burst of laughter;
"those men must be poets."
"Come, Guitant, speak, if you please, respectfully of these
gentlemen," said Mazarin; "don't you know that I was in my
youth a poet? I wrote verses in the style of Benserade ----
"You, my lord?"
"Yes, I; shall I repeat to you some of my verses?"
"Just as you please, my lord. I do not understand Italian."
"Yes, but you understand French," and Mazarin laid his hand
upon Guitant's shoulder. "My good, my brave Guitant,
whatsoever command I may give you in that language -- in
French -- whatever I may order you to do, will you not
"Certainly. I have already answered that question in the
affirmative; but that command must come from the queen
"Yes! ah yes!" Mazarin bit his lips as he spoke; "I know
your devotion to her majesty."
"I have been a captain in the queen's guards for twenty
years," was the reply.
"En route, Monsieur d'Artagnan," said the cardinal; "all
goes well in this direction."
D'Artagnan, in the meantime, had taken the head of his
detachment without a word and with that ready and profound
obedience which marks the character of an old soldier.
He led the way toward the hill of Saint Roche. The Rue
Richelieu and the Rue Villedot were then, owing to their
vicinity to the ramparts, less frequented than any others in
that direction, for the town was thinly inhabited
"Who is in command here?" asked the cardinal.
"Villequier," said Guitant.
"Diavolo! Speak to him yourself, for ever since you were
deputed by me to arrest the Duc de Beaufort, this officer
and I have been on bad terms. He laid claim to that honor as
captain of the royal guards."
"I am aware of that, and I have told him a hundred times
that he was wrong. The king could not give that order, since
at that time he was hardly four years old."
"Yes, but I could give him the order -- I, Guitant -- and I
preferred to give it to you."
Guitant, without reply, rode forward and desired the
sentinel to call Monsieur de Villequier.
"Ah! so you are here!" cried the officer, in the tone of
ill-humor habitual to him; "what the devil are you doing
"I wish to know -- can you tell me, pray -- is anything
fresh occurring in this part of the town?"
"What do you mean? People cry out, `Long live the king! down
with Mazarin!' That's nothing new; no, we've been used to
those acclamations for some time."
"And you sing chorus," replied Guitant, laughing.
"Faith, I've half a mind to do it. In my opinion the people
are right; and cheerfully would I give up five years of my
pay -- which I am never paid, by the way -- to make the king
five years older."
"Really! And pray what would come to pass, supposing the
king were five years older than he is?"
"As soon as ever the king comes of age he will issue his
commands himself, and 'tis far pleasanter to obey the
grandson of Henry IV. than the son of Peter Mazarin.
'Sdeath! I would die willingly for the king, but supposing I
happened to be killed on account of Mazarin, as your nephew
came near being to-day, there could be nothing in Paradise,
however well placed I might be there, that could console me
"Well, well, Monsieur de Villequier," Mazarin interposed, "I
shall make it my care the king hears of your loyalty. Come,
gentlemen," addressing the troop, "let us return."
"Stop," exclaimed Villequier, "so Mazarin was here! so much
the better. I have been waiting for a long time to tell him
what I think of him. I am obliged to you Guitant, although
your intention was perhaps not very favorable to me, for
such an opportunity."
He turned away and went off to his post, whistling a tune
then popular among the party called the "Fronde," whilst
Mazarin returned, in a pensive mood, toward the Palais
Royal. All that he had heard from these three different men,
Comminges, Guitant and Villequier, confirmed him in his
conviction that in case of serious tumults there would be no
one on his side except the queen; and then Anne of Austria
had so often deserted her friends that her support seemed
most precarious. During the whole of this nocturnal ride,
during the whole time that he was endeavoring to understand
the various characters of Comminges, Guitant and Villequier,
Mazarin was, in truth, studying more especially one man.
This man, who had remained immovable as bronze when menaced
by the mob -- not a muscle of whose face was stirred, either
at Mazarin's witticisms or by the jests of the multitude --
seemed to the cardinal a peculiar being, who, having
participated in past events similar to those now occurring,
was calculated to cope with those now on the eve of taking
The name of D'Artagnan was not altogether new to Mazarin,
who, although he did not arrive in France before the year
1634 or 1635, that is to say, about eight or nine years
after the events which we have related in a preceding
narrative,* fancied he had heard it pronounced as that of
one who was said to be a model of courage, address and
* "The Three Musketeers."
Possessed by this idea, the cardinal resolved to know all
about D'Artagnan immediately; of course he could not inquire
from D'Artagnan himself who he was and what had been his
career; he remarked, however, in the course of conversation
that the lieutenant of musketeers spoke with a Gascon
accent. Now the Italians and the Gascons are too much alike
and know each other too well ever to trust what any one of
them may say of himself; so in reaching the walls which
surrounded the Palais Royal, the cardinal knocked at a
little door, and after thanking D'Artagnan and requesting
him to wait in the court of the Palais Royal, he made a sign
to Guitant to follow him.
They both dismounted, consigned their horses to the lackey
who had opened the door, and disappeared in the garden.
"My dear friend," said the cardinal, leaning, as they walked
through the garden, on his friend's arm, "you told me just
now that you had been twenty years in the queen's service."
"Yes, it's true. I have," returned Guitant.
"Now, my dear Guitant, I have often remarked that in
addition to your courage, which is indisputable, and your
fidelity, which is invincible, you possess an admirable
"You have found that out, have you, my lord? Deuce take it
-- all the worse for me!"
"There is no doubt but that one of the chief accomplishments
of a courtier is to know when to forget."
"But you, Guitant, are not a courtier. You are a brave
soldier, one of the few remaining veterans of the days of
Henry IV. Alas! how few to-day exist!"
"Plague on't, my lord, have you brought me here to get my
horoscope out of me?"
"No; I only brought you here to ask you," returned Mazarin,
smiling, "if you have taken any particular notice of our
lieutenant of musketeers?"
"Monsieur d'Artagnan? I have had no occasion to notice him
particularly; he's an old acquaintance. He's a Gascon. De
Treville knows him and esteems him very highly, and De
Treville, as you know, is one of the queen's greatest
friends. As a soldier the man ranks well; he did his whole
duty and even more, at the siege of Rochelle -- as at Suze
"But you know, Guitant, we poor ministers often want men
with other qualities besides courage; we want men of talent.
Pray, was not Monsieur d'Artagnan, in the time of the
cardinal, mixed up in some intrigue from which he came out,
according to report, quite cleverly?"
"My lord, as to the report you allude to" -- Guitant
perceived that the cardinal wished to make him speak out --
"I know nothing but what the public knows. I never meddle in
intrigues, and if I occasionally become a confidant of the
intrigues of others I am sure your eminence will approve of
my keeping them secret."
Mazarin shook his head.
"Ah!" he said; "some ministers are fortunate and find out
all that they wish to know."
"My lord," replied Guitant, "such ministers do not weigh men
in the same balance; they get their information on war from
warriors; on intrigues, from intriguers. Consult some
politician of the period of which you speak, and if you pay
well for it you will certainly get to know all you want."
"Eh, pardieu!" said Mazarin, with a grimace which he always
made when spoken to about money. "They will be paid, if
there is no way of getting out of it."
"Does my lord seriously wish me to name any one who was
mixed up in the cabals of that day?"
"By Bacchus!" rejoined Mazarin, impatiently, "it's about an
hour since I asked you for that very thing, wooden-head that
"There is one man for whom I can answer, if he will speak
"That's my concern; I will make him speak."
"Ah, my lord, 'tis not easy to make people say what they
don't wish to let out."
"Pooh! with patience one must succeed. Well, this man. Who
"The Comte de Rochefort."
"The Comte de Rochefort!"
"Unfortunately he has disappeared these four or five years
and I don't know where he is."
"I know, Guitant," said Mazarin.
"Well, then, how is it that your eminence complained just
now of want of information?"
"You think," resumed Mazarin, "that Rochefort ---- "
"He was Cardinal Richelieu's creature, my lord. I warn you,
however, his services will cost you something. The cardinal
was lavish to his underlings."
"Yes, yes, Guitant," said Mazarin; "Richelieu was a great
man, a very great man, but he had that defect. Thanks,
Guitant; I shall benefit by your advice this very evening."
Here they separated and bidding adieu to Guitant in the
court of the Palais Royal, Mazarin approached an officer who
was walking up and down within that inclosure.
It was D'Artagnan, who was waiting for him.
"Come hither," said Mazarin in his softest voice; "I have an
order to give you."
D'Artagnan bent low and following the cardinal up the secret
staircase, soon found himself in the study whence they had
first set out.
The cardinal seated himself before his bureau and taking a
sheet of paper wrote some lines upon it, whilst D'Artagnan
stood imperturbable, without showing either impatience or
curiosity. He was like a soldierly automaton, or rather,
like a magnificent marionette.
The cardinal folded and sealed his letter.
"Monsieur d'Artagnan," he said, "you are to take this
dispatch to the Bastile and bring back here the person it
concerns. You must take a carriage and an escort, and guard
the prisoner with the greatest care."
D'Artagnan took the letter, touched his hat with his hand,
turned round upon his heel like a drill-sergeant, and a
moment afterward was heard, in his dry and monotonous tone,
commanding "Four men and an escort, a carriage and a horse."
Five minutes afterward the wheels of the carriage and the
horses' shoes were heard resounding on the pavement of the
D'Artagnan arrived at the Bastile just as it was striking
half-past eight. His visit was announced to the governor,
who, on hearing that he came from the cardinal, went to meet
him and received him at the top of the great flight of steps
outside the door. The governor of the Bastile was Monsieur
du Tremblay, the brother of the famous Capuchin, Joseph,
that fearful favorite of Richelieu's, who went by the name
of the Gray Cardinal.
During the period that the Duc de Bassompierre passed in the
Bastile -- where he remained for twelve long years -- when
his companions, in their dreams of liberty, said to each
other: "As for me, I shall go out of the prison at such a
time," and another, at such and such a time, the duke used
to answer, "As for me, gentlemen, I shall leave only when
Monsieur du Tremblay leaves;" meaning that at the death of
the cardinal Du Tremblay would certainly lose his place at
the Bastile and De Bassompierre regain his at court.
His prediction was nearly fulfilled, but in a very different
way from that which De Bassompierre supposed; for after the
death of Richelieu everything went on, contrary to
expectation, in the same way as before; and Bassompierre had
little chance of leaving his prison.
Monsieur du Tremblay received D'Artagnan with extreme
politeness and invited him to sit down with him to supper,
of which he was himself about to partake.
"I should be delighted to do so," was the reply; "but if I
am not mistaken, the words `In haste,' are written on the
envelope of the letter which I brought."
"You are right," said Du Tremblay. "Halloo, major! tell them
to order Number 25 to come downstairs."
The unhappy wretch who entered the Bastile ceased, as he
crossed the threshold, to be a man -- he became a number.
D'Artagnan shuddered at the noise of the keys; he remained
on horseback, feeling no inclination to dismount, and sat
looking at the bars, at the buttressed windows and the
immense walls he had hitherto only seen from the other side
of the moat, but by which he had for twenty years been
A bell resounded.
"I must leave you," said Du Tremblay; "I am sent for to sign
the release of a prisoner. I shall be happy to meet you
"May the devil annihilate me if I return thy wish!" murmured
D'Artagnan, smiling as he pronounced the imprecation; "I
declare I feel quite ill after only being five minutes in
the courtyard. Go to! go to! I would rather die on straw
than hoard up a thousand a year by being governor of the
He had scarcely finished this soliloquy before the prisoner
arrived. On seeing him D'Artagnan could hardly suppress an
exclamation of surprise. The prisoner got into the carriage
without seeming to recognize the musketeer.
"Gentlemen," thus D'Artagnan addressed the four musketeers,
"I am ordered to exercise the greatest possible care in
guarding the prisoner, and since there are no locks to the
carriage, I shall sit beside him. Monsieur de Lillebonne,
lead my horse by the bridle, if you please." As he spoke he
dismounted, gave the bridle of his horse to the musketeer
and placing himself by the side of the prisoner said, in a
voice perfectly composed, "To the Palais Royal, at full
The carriage drove on and D'Artagnan, availing himself of
the darkness in the archway under which they were passing,
threw himself into the arms of the prisoner.
"Rochefort!" he exclaimed; "you! is it you, indeed? I am not
"D'Artagnan!" cried Rochefort.
"Ah! my poor friend!" resumed D'Artagnan, "not having seen
you for four or five years I concluded you were dead."
"I'faith," said Rochefort, "there's no great difference, I
think, between a dead man and one who has been buried alive;
now I have been buried alive, or very nearly so."
"And for what crime are you imprisoned in the Bastile."
"Do you wish me to speak the truth?"
"Well, then, I don't know."
"Have you any suspicion of me, Rochefort?"
"No! on the honor of a gentleman; but I cannot be imprisoned
for the reason alleged; it is impossible."
"What reason?" asked D'Artagnan.
"For stealing! you, Rochefort! you are laughing at me."
"I understand. You mean that this demands explanation, do
"I admit it."
"Well, this is what actually took place: One evening after
an orgy in Reinard's apartment at the Tuileries with the Duc
d'Harcourt, Fontrailles, De Rieux and others, the Duc
d'Harcourt proposed that we should go and pull cloaks on the
Pont Neuf; that is, you know, a diversion which the Duc
d'Orleans made quite the fashion."
"Were you crazy, Rochefort? at your age!"
"No, I was drunk. And yet, since the amusement seemed to me
rather tame, I proposed to Chevalier de Rieux that we should
be spectators instead of actors, and, in order to see to
advantage, that we should mount the bronze horse. No sooner
said than done. Thanks to the spurs, which served as
stirrups, in a moment we were perched upon the croupe; we
were well placed and saw everything. Four or five cloaks had
already been lifted, with a dexterity without parallel, and
not one of the victims had dared to say a word, when some
fool of a fellow, less patient than the others, took it into
his head to cry out, `Guard!' and drew upon us a patrol of
archers. Duc d'Harcourt, Fontrailles, and the others
escaped; De Rieux was inclined to do likewise, but I told
him they wouldn't look for us where we were. He wouldn't
listen, put his foot on the spur to get down, the spur
broke, he fell with a broken leg, and, instead of keeping
quiet, took to crying out like a gallows-bird. I then was
ready to dismount, but it was too late; I descended into the
arms of the archers. They conducted me to the Chatelet,
where I slept soundly, being very sure that on the next day
I should go forth free. The next day came and passed, the
day after, a week; I then wrote to the cardinal. The same
day they came for me and took me to the Bastile. That was
five years ago. Do you believe it was because I committed
the sacrilege of mounting en croupe behind Henry IV.?"
"No; you are right, my dear Rochefort, it couldn't be for
that; but you will probably learn the reason soon."
"Ah, indeed! I forgot to ask you -- where are you taking
"To the cardinal."
"What does he want with me?"
"I do not know. I did not even know that you were the person
I was sent to fetch."
"Impossible -- you -- a favorite of the minister!"
"A favorite! no, indeed!" cried D'Artagnan. "Ah, my poor
friend! I am just as poor a Gascon as when I saw you at
Meung, twenty-two years ago, you know; alas!" and he
concluded his speech with a deep sigh.
"Nevertheless, you come as one in authority."
"Because I happened to be in the ante-chamber when the
cardinal called me, by the merest chance. I am still a
lieutenant in the musketeers and have been so these twenty
"Then no misfortune has happened to you?"
"And what misfortune could happen to me? To quote some Latin
verses I have forgotten, or rather, never knew well, `the
thunderbolt never falls on the valleys,' and I am a valley,
dear Rochefort, -- one of the lowliest of the low."
"Then Mazarin is still Mazarin?"
"The same as ever, my friend; it is said that he is married
to the queen."
"If not her husband, he is unquestionably her lover."
"You surprise me. Rebuff Buckingham and consent to Mazarin!"
"Just like the women," replied D'Artagnan, coolly.
"Like women, not like queens."
"Egad! queens are the weakest of their sex, when it comes to
such things as these."
"And M. de Beaufort -- is he still in prison?"
"Oh, nothing, but that he might get me out of this, if he
were favorably inclined to me."
"You are probably nearer freedom than he is, so it will be
your business to get him out."
"And," said the prisoner, "what talk is there of war with
"With Spain, no," answered D'Artagnan; "but Paris."
"What do you mean?" cried Rochefort.
"Do you hear the guns, pray? The citizens are amusing
themselves in the meantime."
"And you -- do you really think that anything could be done
with these bourgeois?"
"Yes, they might do well if they had any leader to unite
them in one body."
"How miserable not to be free!"
"Don't be downcast. Since Mazarin has sent for you, it is
because he wants you. I congratulate you! Many a long year
has passed since any one has wanted to employ me; so you see
in what a situation I am."
"Make your complaints known; that's my advice."
"Listen, Rochefort; let us make a compact. We are friends,
are we not?"
"Egad! I bear the traces of our friendship -- three slits or
slashes from your sword."
"Well, if you should be restored to favor, don't forget me."
"On the honor of a Rochefort; but you must do the like for
"There's my hand, -- I promise."
"Therefore, whenever you find any opportunity of saying
something in my behalf ---- "
"I shall say it, and you?"
"I shall do the same."
"Apropos, are we to speak of your friends also, Athos,
Porthos, and Aramis? or have you forgotten them?"
"What has become of them?"
"I don't know; we separated, as you know. They are alive,
that's all that I can say about them; from time to time I
hear of them indirectly, but in what part of the world they
are, devil take me if I know, No, on my honor, I have not a
friend in the world but you, Rochefort."
"And the illustrious -- what's the name of the lad whom I
made a sergeant in Piedmont's regiment?"
"The illustrious Planchet. What has become of him?"
"I shouldn't wonder if he were at the head of the mob at
this very moment. He married a woman who keeps a
confectioner's shop in the Rue des Lombards, for he's a lad
who was always fond of sweetmeats; he's now a citizen of
Paris. You'll see that that queer fellow will be a sheriff
before I shall be a captain."
"Come, dear D'Artagnan, look up a little! Courage! It is
when one is lowest on the wheel of fortune that the
merry-go-round wheels and rewards us. This evening your
destiny begins to change."
"Amen!" exclaimed D'Artagnan, stopping the carriage.
"What are you doing?" asked Rochefort.
"We are almost there and I want no one to see me getting out
of your carriage; we are supposed not to know each other."
"You are right. Adieu."
"Au revoir. Remember your promise."
In five minutes the party entered the courtyard and
D'Artagnan led the prisoner up the great staircase and
across the corridor and ante-chamber.
As they stopped at the door of the cardinal's study,
D'Artagnan was about to be announced when Rochefort slapped
him on his shoulder.
"D'Artagnan, let me confess to you what I've been thinking
about during the whole of my drive, as I looked out upon the
parties of citizens who perpetually crossed our path and
looked at you and your four men with fiery eyes."
"Speak out," answered D'Artagnan.
"I had only to cry out `Help!' for you and for your
companions to be cut to pieces, and then I should have been
"Why didn't you do it?" asked the lieutenant.
"Come, come!" cried Rochefort. "Did we not swear friendship?
Ah! had any one but you been there, I don't say ---- "
D'Artagnan bowed. "Is it possible that Rochefort has become
a better man than I am?" he said to himself. And he caused
himself to be announced to the minister.
"Let M. de Rochefort enter," said Mazarin, eagerly, on
hearing their names pronounced; "and beg M. d'Artagnan to
wait; I shall have further need of him."
These words gave great joy to D'Artagnan. As he had said, it
had been a long time since any one had needed him; and that
demand for his services on the part of Mazarin seemed to him
an auspicious sign.
Rochefort, rendered suspicious and cautious by these words,
entered the apartment, where he found Mazarin sitting at the
table, dressed in his ordinary garb and as one of the
prelates of the Church, his costume being similar to that of
the abbes in that day, excepting that his scarf and
stockings were violet.
As the door was closed Rochefort cast a glance toward
Mazarin, which was answered by one, equally furtive, from
There was little change in the cardinal; still dressed with
sedulous care, his hair well arranged and curled, his person
perfumed, he looked, owing to his extreme taste in dress,
only half his age. But Rochefort, who had passed five years
in prison, had become old in the lapse of a few years; the
dark locks of this estimable friend of the defunct Cardinal
Richelieu were now white; the deep bronze of his complexion
had been succeeded by a mortal pallor which betokened
debility. As he gazed at him Mazarin shook his head
slightly, as much as to say, "This is a man who does not
appear to me fit for much."
After a pause, which appeared an age to Rochefort, Mazarin
took from a bundle of papers a letter, and showing it to the
count, he said:
"I find here a letter in which you sue for liberty, Monsieur
de Rochefort. You are in prison, then?"
Rochefort trembled in every limb at this question. "But I
thought," he said, "that your eminence knew that
circumstance better than any one ---- "
"I? Oh no! There is a congestion of prisoners in the
Bastile, who were cooped up in the time of Monsieur de
Richelieu; I don't even know their names."
"Yes, but in regard to myself, my lord, it cannot be so, for
I was removed from the Chatelet to the Bastile owing to an
order from your eminence."
"You think you were."
"I am certain of it."
"Ah, stay! I fancy I remember it. Did you not once refuse to
undertake a journey to Brussels for the queen?"
"Ah! ah!" exclaimed Rochefort. "There is the true reason!
Idiot that I am, though I have been trying to find it out
for five years, I never found it out."
"But I do not say it was the cause of your imprisonment. I
merely ask you, did you not refuse to go to Brussels for the
queen, whilst you had consented to go there to do some
service for the late cardinal?"
"That is the very reason I refused to go back to Brussels. I
was there at a fearful moment. I was sent there to intercept
a correspondence between Chalais and the archduke, and even
then, when I was discovered I was nearly torn to pieces. How
could I, then, return to Brussels? I should injure the queen
instead of serving her."
"Well, since the best motives are liable to misconstruction,
the queen saw in your refusal nothing but a refusal -- a
distinct refusal she had also much to complain of you during
the lifetime of the late cardinal; yes, her majesty the
queen ---- "
Rochefort smiled contemptuously.
"Since I was a faithful servant, my lord, to Cardinal
Richelieu during his life, it stands to reason that now,
after his death, I should serve you well, in defiance of the
"With regard to myself, Monsieur de Rochefort," replied
Mazarin, "I am not, like Monsieur de Richelieu,
all-powerful. I am but a minister, who wants no servants,
being myself nothing but a servant of the queen's. Now, the
queen is of a sensitive nature. Hearing of your refusal to
obey her she looked upon it as a declaration of war, and as
she considers you a man of superior talent, and consequently
dangerous, she desired me to make sure of you; that is the
reason of your being shut up in the Bastile. But your
release can be managed. You are one of those men who can
comprehend certain matters and having understood them, can
act with energy ---- "
"Such was Cardinal Richelieu's opinion, my lord."
"The cardinal," interrupted Mazarin, "was a great politician
and therein shone his vast superiority over me. I am a
straightforward, simple man; that's my great disadvantage. I
am of a frankness of character quite French."
Rochefort bit his lips in order to prevent a smile.
"Now to the point. I want friends; I want faithful servants.
When I say I want, I mean the queen wants them. I do nothing
without her commands -- pray understand that; not like
Monsieur de Richelieu, who went on just as he pleased. So I
shall never be a great man, as he was, but to compensate for
that, I shall be a good man, Monsieur de Rochefort, and I
hope to prove it to you."
Rochefort knew well the tones of that soft voice, in which
sounded sometimes a sort of gentle lisp, like the hissing of
"I am disposed to believe your eminence," he replied;
"though I have had but little evidence of that good-nature
of which your eminence speaks. Do not forget that I have
been five years in the Bastile and that no medium of viewing
things is so deceptive as the grating of a prison."
"Ah, Monsieur de Rochefort! have I not told you already that
I had nothing to do with that? The queen -- cannot you make
allowances for the pettishness of a queen and a princess?
But that has passed away as suddenly as it came, and is
"I can easily suppose, sir, that her majesty has forgotten
it amid the fetes and the courtiers of the Palais Royal, but
I who have passed those years in the Bastile ---- "
"Ah! mon Dieu! my dear Monsieur de Rochefort! do you
absolutely think that the Palais Royal is the abode of
gayety? No. We have had great annoyances there. As for me, I
play my game squarely, fairly, and above board, as I always
do. Let us come to some conclusion. Are you one of us,
Monsieur de Rochefort?"
"I am very desirous of being so, my lord, but I am totally
in the dark about everything. In the Bastile one talks
politics only with soldiers and jailers, and you have not an
idea, my lord, how little is known of what is going on by
people of that sort; I am of Monsieur de Bassompierre's
party. Is he still one of the seventeen peers of France?"
"He is dead, sir; a great loss. His devotion to the queen
was boundless; men of loyalty are scarce."
"I think so, forsooth," said Rochefort, "and when you find
any of them, you march them off to the Bastile. However,
there are plenty in the world, but you don't look in the
right direction for them, my lord."
"Indeed! explain to me. Ah! my dear Monsieur de Rochefort,
how much you must have learned during your intimacy with the
late cardinal! Ah! he was a great man."
"Will your eminence be angry if I read you a lesson?"
"I! never! you know you may say anything to me. I try to be
beloved, not feared."
"Well, there is on the wall of my cell, scratched with a
nail, a proverb, which says, `Like master, like servant.'"
"Pray, what does that mean?"
"It means that Monsieur de Richelieu was able to find trusty
servants, dozens and dozens of them."
"He! the point aimed at by every poniard! Richelieu, who
passed his life in warding off blows which were forever
aimed at him!"
"But he did ward them off," said De Rochefort, "and the
reason was, that though he had bitter enemies he possessed
also true friends. I have known persons," he continued --
for he thought he might avail himself of the opportunity of
speaking of D'Artagnan -- "who by their sagacity and address
have deceived the penetration of Cardinal Richelieu; who by
their valor have got the better of his guards and spies;
persons without money, without support, without credit, yet
who have preserved to the crowned head its crown and made
the cardinal crave pardon."
"But those men you speak of," said Mazarin, smiling inwardly
on seeing Rochefort approach the point to which he was
leading him, "those men were not devoted to the cardinal,
for they contended against him."
"No; in that case they would have met with more fitting
reward. They had the misfortune to be devoted to that very
queen for whom just now you were seeking servants."
"But how is it that you know so much of these matters?"
"I know them because the men of whom I speak were at that
time my enemies; because they fought against me; because I
did them all the harm I could and they returned it to the
best of their ability; because one of them, with whom I had
most to do, gave me a pretty sword-thrust, now about seven
years ago, the third that I received from the same hand; it
closed an old account."
"Ah!" said Mazarin, with admirable suavity, "could I but
find such men!"
"My lord, there has stood for six years at your very door a
man such as I describe, and during those six years he has
been unappreciated and unemployed by you."
"Who is it?"
"It is Monsieur d'Artagnan."
"That Gascon!" cried Mazarin, with well acted surprise.
"`That Gascon' has saved a queen and made Monsieur de
Richelieu confess that in point of talent, address and
political skill, to him he was only a tyro."
"It is as I have the honor of telling it to your
"Tell me a little about it, my dear Monsieur de Rochefort."
"That is somewhat difficult, my lord," said Rochefort, with
"Then he will tell it me himself."
"I doubt it, my lord."
"Why do you doubt it?"
"Because the secret does not belong to him; because, as I
have told you, it has to do with a great queen."
"And he was alone in achieving an enterprise like that?"
"No, my lord, he had three colleagues, three brave men, men
such as you were wishing for just now."
"And were these four men attached to each other, true in
heart, really united?"
"As if they had been one man -- as if their four hearts had
pulsated in one breast."
"You pique my curiosity, dear Rochefort; pray tell me the
"That is impossible; but I will tell you a true story, my
"Pray do so, I delight in stories," cried the cardinal.
"Listen, then," returned Rochefort, as he spoke endeavoring
to read in that subtle countenance the cardinal's motive.
"Once upon a time there lived a queen -- a powerful monarch
-- who reigned over one of the greatest kingdoms of the
universe; and a minister; and this minister wished much to
injure the queen, whom once he had loved too well. (Do not
try, my lord, you cannot guess who it is; all this happened
long before you came into the country where this queen
reigned.) There came to the court an ambassador so brave, so
magnificent, so elegant, that every woman lost her heart to
him; and the queen had even the indiscretion to give him
certain ornaments so rare that they could never be replaced
by any like them.
"As these ornaments were given by the king the minister
persuaded his majesty to insist upon the queen's appearing
in them as part of her jewels at a ball which was soon to
take place. There is no occasion to tell you, my lord, that
the minister knew for a fact that these ornaments had sailed
away with the ambassador, who was far away, beyond seas.
This illustrious queen had fallen low as the least of her
subjects -- fallen from her high estate."
"Well, my lord, four men resolved to save her. These four
men were not princes, neither were they dukes, neither were
they men in power; they were not even rich. They were four
honest soldiers, each with a good heart, a good arm and a
sword at the service of those who wanted it. They set out.
The minister knew of their departure and had planted people
on the road to prevent them ever reaching their destination.
Three of them were overwhelmed and disabled by numerous
assailants; one of them alone arrived at the port, having
either killed or wounded those who wished to stop him. He
crossed the sea and brought back the set of ornaments to the
great queen, who was able to wear them on her shoulder on
the appointed day; and this very nearly ruined the minister.
What do you think of that exploit, my lord?"
"It is magnificent!" said Mazarin, thoughtfully.
"Well, I know of ten such men."
Mazarin made no reply; he reflected.
Five or six minutes elapsed.
"You have nothing more to ask of me, my lord?" said
"Yes. And you say that Monsieur d'Artagnan was one of those
"He led the enterprise."
"And who were the others?"
"I leave it to Monsieur d'Artagnan to name them, my lord.
They were his friends and not mine. He alone would have any
influence with them; I do not even know them under their
"You suspect me, Monsieur de Rochefort; I want him and you
and all to aid me."
"Begin with me, my lord; for after five or six years of
imprisonment it is natural to feel some curiosity as to
"You, my dear Monsieur de Rochefort, shall have the post of
confidence; you shall go to Vincennes, where Monsieur de
Beaufort is confined; you will guard him well for me. Well,
what is the matter?"
"The matter is that you have proposed to me what is
impossible," said Rochefort, shaking his head with an air of
"What! impossible? And why is it impossible?"
"Because Monsieur de Beaufort is one of my friends, or
rather, I am one of his. Have you forgotten, my lord, that
it is he who answered for me to the queen?"
"Since then Monsieur de Beaufort has become an enemy of the
"That may be, my lord; but since I am neither king nor queen
nor minister, he is not my enemy and I cannot accept your
"This, then, is what you call devotion! I congratulate you.
Your devotion does not commit you too far, Monsieur de
"And then, my lord," continued Rochefort, "you understand
that to emerge from the Bastile in order to enter Vincennes
is only to change one's prison."
"Say at once that you are on the side of Monsieur de
Beaufort; that will be the most sincere line of conduct,"
"My lord, I have been so long shut up, that I am only of one
party -- I am for fresh air. Employ me in any other way;
employ me even actively, but let it be on the high roads."
"My dear Monsieur de Rochefort," Mazarin replied in a tone
of raillery, "you think yourself still a young man; your
spirit is that of the phoenix, but your strength fails you.
Believe me, you ought now to take a rest. Here!"
"You decide, then, nothing about me, my lord?"
"On the contrary, I have come to a decision."
Bernouin came into the room.
"Call an officer of justice," he said; "and stay close to
me," he added, in a low tone.
The officer entered. Mazarin wrote a few words, which he
gave to this man; then he bowed.
"Adieu, Monsieur de Rochefort," he said.
Rochefort bent low.
"I see, my lord, I am to be taken back to the Bastile."
"You are sagacious."
"I shall return thither, my lord, but it is a mistake on
your part not to employ me."
"You? the friend of my greatest foes? Don't suppose that you
are the only person who can serve me, Monsieur de Rochefort.
I shall find many men as able as you are."
"I wish you may, my lord," replied De Rochefort.
He was then reconducted by the little staircase, instead of
passing through the ante-chamber where D'Artagnan was
waiting. In the courtyard the carriage and the four
musketeers were ready, but he looked around in vain for his
"Ah!" he muttered to himself, "this changes the situation,
and if there is still a crowd of people in the streets we
will try to show Mazarin that we are still, thank God, good
for something else than keeping guard over a prisoner;" and
he jumped into the carriage with the alacrity of a man of
Anne of Austria at the Age of Forty-six.
When left alone with Bernouin, Mazarin was for some minutes
lost in thought. He had gained much information, but not
enough. Mazarin was a cheat at the card-table. This is a
detail preserved to us by Brienne. He called it using his
advantages. He now determined not to begin the game with
D'Artagnan till he knew completely all his adversary's
"My lord, have you any commands?" asked Bernouin.
"Yes, yes," replied Mazarin. "Light me; I am going to the
Bernouin took up a candlestick and led the way.
There was a secret communication between the cardinal's
apartments and those of the queen; and through this
corridor* Mazarin passed whenever he wished to visit Anne of
*This secret passage is still to be seen in the Palais
In the bedroom in which this passage ended, Bernouin
encountered Madame de Beauvais, like himself intrusted with
the secret of these subterranean love affairs; and Madame de
Beauvais undertook to prepare Anne of Austria, who was in
her oratory with the young king, Louis XIV., to receive the
Anne, reclining in a large easy-chair, her head supported by
her hand, her elbow resting on a table, was looking at her
son, who was turning over the leaves of a large book filled
with pictures. This celebrated woman fully understood the
art of being dull with dignity. It was her practice to pass
hours either in her oratory or in her room, without either
reading or praying.
When Madame de Beauvais appeared at the door and announced
the cardinal, the child, who had been absorbed in the pages
of Quintus Curtius, enlivened as they were by engravings of
Alexander's feats of arms, frowned and looked at his mother.
"Why," he said, "does he enter without first asking for an
Anne colored slightly.
"The prime minister," she said, "is obliged in these
unsettled days to inform the queen of all that is happening
from time to time, without exciting the curiosity or remarks
of the court."
"But Richelieu never came in this manner," said the
"How can you remember what Monsieur de Richelieu did? You
were too young to know about such things."
"I do not remember what he did, but I have inquired and I
have been told all about it."
"And who told you about it?" asked Anne of Austria, with a
movement of impatience.
"I know that I ought never to name the persons who answer my
questions," answered the child, "for if I do I shall learn
At this very moment Mazarin entered. The king rose
immediately, took his book, closed it and went to lay it
down on the table, near which he continued standing, in
order that Mazarin might be obliged to stand also.
Mazarin contemplated these proceedings with a thoughtful
glance. They explained what had occurred that evening.
He bowed respectfully to the king, who gave him a somewhat
cavalier reception, but a look from his mother reproved him
for the hatred which, from his infancy, Louis XIV. had
entertained toward Mazarin, and he endeavored to receive the
minister's homage with civility.
Anne of Austria sought to read in Mazarin's face the
occasion of this unexpected visit, since the cardinal
usually came to her apartment only after every one had
The minister made a slight sign with his head, whereupon the
queen said to Madame Beauvais:
"It is time for the king to go to bed; call Laporte."
The queen had several times already told her son that he
ought to go to bed, and several times Louis had coaxingly
insisted on staying where he was; but now he made no reply,
but turned pale and bit his lips with anger.
In a few minutes Laporte came into the room. The child went
directly to him without kissing his mother.
"Well, Louis," said Anne, "why do you not kiss me?"
"I thought you were angry with me, madame; you sent me
"I do not send you away, but you have had the small-pox and
I am afraid that sitting up late may tire you."
"You had no fears of my being tired when you ordered me to
go to the palace to-day to pass the odious decrees which
have raised the people to rebellion."
"Sire!" interposed Laporte, in order to turn the subject,
"to whom does your majesty wish me to give the candle?"
"To any one, Laporte," the child said; and then added in a
loud voice, "to any one except Mancini."
Now Mancini was a nephew of Mazarin's and was as much hated
by Louis as the cardinal himself, although placed near his
person by the minister.
And the king went out of the room without either embracing
his mother or even bowing to the cardinal.
"Good," said Mazarin, "I am glad to see that his majesty has
been brought up with a hatred of dissimulation."
"Why do you say that?" asked the queen, almost timidly.
"Why, it seems to me that the way in which he left us needs
no explanation. Besides, his majesty takes no pains to
conceal how little affection he has for me. That, however,
does not hinder me from being entirely devoted to his
service, as I am to that of your majesty."
"I ask your pardon for him, cardinal," said the queen; "he
is a child, not yet able to understand his obligations to
The cardinal smiled.
"But," continued the queen, "you have doubtless come for
some important purpose. What is it, then?"
Mazarin sank into a chair with the deepest melancholy
painted on his countenance.
"It is likely," he replied, "that we shall soon be obliged
to separate, unless you love me well enough to follow me to
"Why," cried the queen; "how is that?"
"Because, as they say in the opera of `Thisbe,' `The whole
world conspires to break our bonds.'"
"You jest, sir!" answered the queen, endeavoring to assume
something of her former dignity.
"Alas! I do not, madame," rejoined Mazarin. "Mark well what
I say. The whole world conspires to break our bonds. Now as
you are one of the whole world, I mean to say that you also
are deserting me."
"Heavens! did I not see you the other day smile on the Duke
of Orleans? or rather at what he said?"
"And what was he saying?"
"He said this, madame: `Mazarin is a stumbling-block. Send
him away and all will then be well.'"
"What do you wish me to do?"
"Oh, madame! you are the queen!"
"Queen, forsooth! when I am at the mercy of every scribbler
in the Palais Royal who covers waste paper with nonsense, or
of every country squire in the kingdom."
"Nevertheless, you have still the power of banishing from
your presence those whom you do not like!"
"That is to say, whom you do not like," returned the queen.
"I! persons whom I do not like!"
"Yes, indeed. Who sent away Madame de Chevreuse after she
had been persecuted twelve years under the last reign?"
"A woman of intrigue, who wanted to keep up against me the
spirit of cabal she had raised against M. de Richelieu."
"Who dismissed Madame de Hautefort, that friend so loyal
that she refused the favor of the king that she might remain
"A prude, who told you every night, as she undressed you,
that it was a sin to love a priest, just as if one were a
priest because one happens to be a cardinal."
"Who ordered Monsieur de Beaufort to be arrested?"
"An incendiary the burden of whose song was his intention to
"You see, cardinal," replied the queen, "that your enemies
"That is not enough madame, it is necessary that your
friends should be also mine."
"My friends, monsieur?" The queen shook her head. "Alas, I
have them no longer!"
"How is it that you have no friends in your prosperity when
you had many in adversity?"
"It is because in my prosperity I forgot those old friends,
monsieur; because I have acted like Queen Marie de Medicis,
who, returning from her first exile, treated with contempt
all those who had suffered for her and, being proscribed a
second time, died at Cologne abandoned by every one, even by
her own son."
"Well, let us see," said Mazarin; "isn't there still time to
repair the evil? Search among your friends, your oldest
"What do you mean, monsieur?"
"Nothing else than I say -- search."
"Alas, I look around me in vain! I have no influence with
any one. Monsieur is, as usual, led by his favorite;
yesterday it was Choisy, to-day it is La Riviere, to-morrow
it will be some one else. Monsieur le Prince is led by the
coadjutor, who is led by Madame de Guemenee."
"Therefore, madame, I ask you to look, not among your
friends of to-day, but among those of other times."
"Among my friends of other times?" said the queen.
"Yes, among your friends of other times; among those who
aided you to contend against the Duc de Richelieu and even
to conquer him."
"What is he aiming at?" murmured the queen, looking uneasily
at the cardinal.
"Yes," continued his eminence; "under certain circumstances,
with that strong and shrewd mind your majesty possesses,
aided by your friends, you were able to repel the attacks of
"I!" said the queen. "I suffered, that is all."
"Yes." said Mazarin, "as women suffer in avenging
themselves. Come, let us come to the point. Do you know
Monsieur de Rochefort?"
"One of my bitterest enemies -- the faithful friend of
"I know that, and we sent him to the Bastile," said Mazarin.
"Is be at liberty?" asked the queen.
"No; still there, but I only speak of him in order that I
may introduce the name of another man. Do you know Monsieur
d'Artagnan?" he added, looking steadfastly at the queen.
Anne of Austria received the blow with a beating heart.
"Has the Gascon been indiscreet?" she murmured to herself,
then said aloud:
"D'Artagnan! stop an instant, the name seems certainly
familiar. D'Artagnan! there was a musketeer who was in love
with one of my women. Poor young creature! she was poisoned
on my account."
"That's all you know of him?" asked Mazarin.
The queen looked at him, surprised.
"You seem, sir," she remarked, "to be making me undergo a