Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Twenty Years After by Alexandre Dumas [Pere]

Part 19 out of 20

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 2.1 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

"A whole bottle, if you will drink my health."

"Willingly," answered the soldier.

"Come, then, and take it, friend," said the Gascon.

"With all my heart. How convenient that there's a bench
here. Egad! one would think it had been placed here on

"Get on it; that's it, friend."

And D'Artagnan coughed.

That instant the arm of Porthos fell. His hand of iron
grasped, quick as lightning, firm as a pair of blacksmith's
pincers, the soldier's throat. He raised him, almost
stifling him as he drew him through the aperture, at the
risk of flaying him in the passage. He then laid him down on
the floor, where D'Artagnan, after giving him just time
enough to draw his breath, gagged him with his long scarf;
and the moment he had done so began to undress him with the
promptitude and dexterity of a man who had learned his
business on the field of battle. Then the soldier, gagged
and bound, was placed upon the hearth, the fire of which had
been previously extinguished by the two friends.

"Here's a sword and a dress," said Porthos.

"I take them," said D'Artagnan, "for myself. If you want
another uniform and sword you must play the same trick over
again. Stop! I see the other soldier issue from the
guardroom and come toward us."

"I think," replied Porthos, "it would be imprudent to
attempt the same manoeuvre again; it is said that no man can
succeed twice in the same way, and a failure would be
ruinous. No; I will go down, seize the man unawares and
bring him to you ready gagged."

"That is better," said the Gascon.

"Be ready," said Porthos, as he slipped through the opening.

He did as he said. Porthos seized his opportunity, caught
the next soldier by his neck, gagged him and pushed him like
a mummy through the bars into the room, and entered after
him. Then they undressed him as they had done the first,
laid him on their bed and bound him with the straps which
composed the bed -- the bedstead being of oak. This
operation proved as great a success as the first.

"There," said D'Artagnan, "this is capital! Now let me try
on the dress of yonder chap. Porthos, I doubt if you can
wear it; but should it be too tight, never mind, you can
wear the breastplate and the hat with the red feathers."

It happened, however, that the second soldier was a Swiss of
gigantic proportions, so, save that some few of the seams
split, his uniform fitted Porthos perfectly.

They then dressed themselves.

"'Tis done!" they both exclaimed at once. "As to you,
comrades," they said to the men, "nothing will happen to you
if you are discreet; but if you stir you are dead men."

The soldiers were complaisant; they had found the grasp of
Porthos pretty powerful and that it was no joke to fight
against it.

"Now," said D'Artagnan, "you wouldn't be sorry to understand
the plot, would you, Porthos?"

"Well, no, not very."

"Well, then, we shall go down into the court."


"We shall take the place of those two fellows."


"We will walk back and forth."

"That's a good idea, for it isn't warm."

"In a moment the valet-de-chambre will call the guard, as he
did yesterday and the day before."

"And we shall answer?"

"No, on the contrary, we shall not answer."

"As you please; I don't insist on answering."

"We will not answer, then; we will simply settle our hats on
our heads and we will escort his eminence."

"Where shall we escort him?"

"Where he is going -- to visit Athos. Do you think Athos
will be sorry to see us?"

"Oh!" cried Porthos, "oh! I understand."

"Wait a little, Porthos, before crying out; for, on my word,
you haven't reached the end," said the Gascon, in a jesting

"What is to happen?" said Porthos.

"Follow me," replied D'Artagnan. "The man who lives to see
shall see."

And slipping through the aperture, he alighted in the court.
Porthos followed him by the same road, but with more
difficulty and less diligence. They could hear the two
soldiers shivering with fear, as they lay bound in the

Scarcely had the two Frenchmen touched the ground when a
door opened and the voice of the valet-de-chambre called

"Make ready!"

At the same moment the guardhouse was opened and a voice
called out:

"La Bruyere and Du Barthois! March!"

It seems that I am named La Bruyere," remarked D'Artagnan.

"And I, Du Barthois," added Porthos.

"Where are you?" asked the valet-de-chambre, whose eyes,
dazzled by the light, could not clearly distinguish our
heroes in the gloom.

"Here we are," said the Gascon.

"What say you to that, Monsieur du Vallon?" he added in a
low tone to Porthos.

"If it but lasts, most capital," responded Porthos.

These two newly enlisted soldiers marched gravely after the
valet-de-chambre, who opened the door of the vestibule, then
another which seemed to be that of a waiting-room, and
showing them two stools:

"Your orders are very simple," he said; "don't allow
anybody, except one person, to enter here. Do you hear --
not a single creature! Obey that person implicitly. On your
return you cannot make a mistake. You have only to wait here
till I release you."

D'Artagnan was known to this valet-de-chambre, who was no
other than Bernouin, and he had during the last six or eight
months introduced the Gascon a dozen times to the cardinal.
The Gascon, therefore, instead of answering, growled out
"Ja! Ja!" in the most German and the least Gascon accent

As for Porthos, on whom D'Artagnan had impressed the
necessity of absolute silence and who did not even now begin
to comprehend the scheme of his friend, which was to follow
Mazarin in his visit to Athos, he was simply mute. All that
he was allowed to say, in case of emergencies, was the
proverbial Der Teufel!

Bernouin shut the door and went away. When Porthos heard the
key turn in the lock he began to be alarmed, lest they
should only have exchanged one prison for another.

"Porthos, my friend," said D'Artagnan, "don't distrust
Providence! Let me meditate and consider."

"Meditate and consider as much as you like," replied
Porthos, who was now quite out of humor at seeing things
take this turn.

"We have walked eight paces," whispered D'Artagnan, "and
gone up six steps, so hereabouts is the pavilion called the
pavilion of the orangery. The Comte de la Fere cannot be far
off, only the doors are locked."

"That is a slight difficulty," said Porthos, "and a good
push with the shoulders ---- "

"For God's sake, Porthos my friend, reserve your feats of
strength, or they will not have, when needed, the honor they
deserve. Have you not heard that some one is coming here?"


"Well, that some one will open the doors."

"But, my dear fellow, if that some one recognizes us, if
that some one cries out, we are lost; for you don't propose,
I imagine, that I shall kill that man of the church. That
might do if we were dealing with Englishmen or Germans."

"Oh, may God keep me from it, and you, too!" said
D'Artagnan. "The young king would, perhaps, show us some
gratitude; but the queen would never forgive us, and it is
she whom we have to consider. And then, besides, the useless
blood! never! no, never! I have my plan; let me carry it out
and we shall laugh."

"So much the better," said Porthos; "I feel some need of

"Hush!" said D'Artagnan; "the some one is coming."

The sound of a light step was heard in the vestibule. The
hinges of the door creaked and a man appeared in the dress
of a cavalier, wrapped in a brown cloak, with a lantern in
one hand and a large beaver hat pulled down over his eyes.

Porthos effaced himself against the wall, but he could not
render himself invisible; and the man in the cloak said to
him, giving him his lantern:

"Light the lamp which hangs from the ceiling."

Then addressing D'Artagnan:

"You know the watchword?" he said.

"Ja!" replied the Gascon, determined to confine himself to
this specimen of the German tongue.

"Tedesco!" answered the cavalier; "va bene."

And advancing toward the door opposite to that by which he
came in, he opened it and disappeared behind it, shutting it
as he went.

"Now," asked Porthos, "what are we to do?"

"Now we shall make use of your shoulder, friend Porthos, if
this door proves to be locked. Everything in its proper
time, and all comes right to those who know how to wait
patiently. But first barricade the first door well; then we
will follow yonder cavalier."

The two friends set to work and crowded the space before the
door with all the furniture in the room, as not only to make
the passage impassable, but so to block the door that by no
means could it open inward.

"There!" said D'Artagnan, "we can't be overtaken. Come!


The Oubliettes of Cardinal Mazarin.

At first, on arriving at the door through which Mazarin had
passed, D'Artagnan tried in vain to open it, but on the
powerful shoulder of Porthos being applied to one of the
panels, which gave way, D'Artagnan introduced the point of
his sword between the bolt and the staple of the lock. The
bolt gave way and the door opened.

"As I told you, everything can be attained, Porthos, women
and doors, by proceeding with gentleness."

"You're a great moralist, and that's the fact," said

They entered; behind a glass window, by the light of the
cardinal's lantern, which had been placed on the floor in
the midst of the gallery, they saw the orange and
pomegranate trees of the Castle of Rueil, in long lines,
forming one great alley and two smaller side alleys.

"No cardinal!" said D'Artagnan, "but only his lantern; where
the devil, then, is he?"

Exploring, however, one of the side wings of the gallery,
after making a sign to Porthos to explore the other, he saw,
all at once, at his left, a tub containing an orange tree,
which had been pushed out of its place and in its place an
open aperture.

Ten men would have found difficulty in moving that tub, but
by some mechanical contrivance it had turned with the
flagstone on which it rested.

D'Artagnan, as we have said, perceived a hole in that place
and in this hole the steps of a winding staircase.

He called Porthos to look at it.

"Were our object money only," he said, "we should be rich

"How's that?"

"Don't you understand, Porthos? At the bottom of that
staircase lies, probably, the cardinal's treasury of which
folk tell such wonders, and we should only have to descend,
empty a chest, shut the cardinal up in it, double lock it,
go away, carrying off as much gold as we could, put back
this orange-tree over the place, and no one in the world
would ever ask us where our fortune came from -- not even
the cardinal."

"It would be a happy hit for clowns to make, but as it seems
to be unworthy of two gentlemen ---- " said Porthos.

"So I think; and therefore I said, `Were our object money
only;' but we want something else," replied the Gascon.

At the same moment, whilst D'Artagnan was leaning over the
aperture to listen, a metallic sound, as if some one was
moving a bag of gold, struck on his ear; he started;
instantly afterward a door opened and a light played upon
the staircase.

Mazarin had left his lamp in the gallery to make people
believe that he was walking about, but he had with him a
waxlight, to help him to explore his mysterious strong box.

"Faith," he said, in Italian, as he was reascending the
steps and looking at a bag of reals, "faith, there's enough
to pay five councillors of parliament, and two generals in
Paris. I am a great captain -- that I am! but I make war in
my own way."

The two friends were crouching down, meantime, behind a tub
in the side alley.

Mazarin came within three steps of D'Artagnan and pushed a
spring in the wall; the slab turned and the orange tree
resumed its place.

Then the cardinal put out the waxlight, slipped it into his
pocket, and taking up the lantern: "Now," he said, "for
Monsieur de la Fere."

"Very good," thought D'Artagnan, "'tis our road likewise; we
will go together."

All three set off on their walk, Mazarin taking the middle
alley and the friends the side ones.

The cardinal reached a second door without perceiving he was
being followed; the sand with which the alleys were covered
deadened the sound of footsteps.

He then turned to the left, down a corridor which had
escaped the attention of the two friends, but as he opened
the door he paused, as if in thought.

"Ah! Diavolo!" he exclaimed, "I forgot the recommendation of
De Comminges, who advised me to take a guard and place it at
this door, in order not to put myself at the mercy of that
four-headed combination of devils." And with a movement of
impatience he turned to retrace his steps.

"Do not give yourself the trouble, my lord," said
D'Artagnan, with his right foot forward, his beaver in his
hand, a smile on his face, "we have followed your eminence
step by step and here we are."

"Yes -- here we are," said Porthos.

And he made the same friendly salute as D'Artagnan.

Mazarin gazed at each of them with an affrighted stare,
recognized them, and let drop his lantern, uttering a cry of

D'Artagnan picked it up; by good luck it had not been

"Oh, what imprudence, my lord," said D'Artagnan; "'tis not
good to be about just here without a light. Your eminence
might knock against something, or fall into a hole."

"Monsieur d'Artagnan!" muttered Mazarin, unable to recover
from his astonishment.

"Yes, my lord, it is I. I have the honor to present to you
Monsieur du Vallon, that excellent friend of mine, in whom
your eminence had the kindness to interest yourself

And D'Artagnan held the lamp before the merry face of
Porthos, who now began to comprehend the affair and be very
proud of the whole undertaking.

"You were going to visit Monsieur de la Fere?" said
D'Artagnan. "Don't let us disarrange your eminence. Be so
good as to show us the way and we will follow you.

Mazarin was by degrees recovering his senses.

"Have you been long in the orangery?" he asked in a
trembling voice, remembering the visits he had been paying
to his treasury.

Porthos opened his mouth to reply; D'Artagnan made him a
sign, and his mouth, remaining silent, gradually closed.

"This moment come, my lord," said D'Artagnan.

Mazarin breathed again. His fears were now no longer for his
hoard, but for himself. A sort of smile played on his lips.

"Come," he said, "you have me in a snare, gentlemen. I
confess myself conquered. You wish to ask for liberty, and
-- I give it you."

"Oh, my lord!" answered D'Artagnan, "you are too good; as to
our liberty, we have that; we want to ask something else of

"You have your liberty?" repeated Mazarin, in terror.

"Certainly; and on the other hand, my lord, you have lost
it, and now, in accordance with the law of war, sir, you
must buy it back again."

Mazarin felt a shiver run through him -- a chill even to his
heart's core. His piercing look was fixed in vain on the
satirical face of the Gascon and the unchanging countenance
of Porthos. Both were in shadow and the Sybil of Cuma
herself could not have read them.

"To purchase back my liberty?" said the cardinal.

"Yes, my lord."

"And how much will that cost me, Monsieur d'Artagnan?"

"Zounds, my lord, I don't know yet. We must ask the Comte de
la Fere the question. Will your eminence deign to open the
door which leads to the count's room, and in ten minutes all
will be settled."

Mazarin started.

"My lord," said D'Artagnan, "your eminence sees that we wish
to act with all formality and due respect; but I must warn
you that we have no time to lose; open the door then, my
lord, and be so good as to remember, once for all, that on
the slightest attempt to escape or the faintest cry for
help, our position being very critical indeed, you must not
be angry with us if we go to extremities."

"Be assured," answered Mazarin, "that I shall attempt
nothing; I give you my word of honor."

D'Artagnan made a sign to Porthos to redouble his
watchfulness; then turning to Mazarin:

"Now, my lord, let us enter, if you please."



Mazarin turned the lock of a double door, on the threshold
of which they found Athos ready to receive his illustrious
guests according to the notice Comminges had given him.

On perceiving Mazarin he bowed.

"Your eminence," he said, "might have dispensed with your
attendants; the honor bestowed on me is too great for me to
be unmindful of it."

"And so, my dear count," said D'Artagnan, "his eminence
didn't actually insist on our attending him; it is Du Vallon
and I who have insisted, and even in a manner somewhat
impolite, perhaps, so great was our longing to see you."

At that voice, that mocking tone, and that familiar gesture,
accenting voice and tone, Athos made a bound of surprise.

"D'Artagnan! Porthos!" he exclaimed.

"My very self, dear friend."

"Me, also!" repeated Porthos.

"What means this?" asked the count.

"It means," replied Mazarin, trying to smile and biting his
lips in the attempt, "that our parts are changed, and that
instead of these gentlemen being my prisoners I am theirs;
but, gentlemen, I warn you, unless you kill me, your victory
will be of very short duration; people will come to the

"Ah! my lord!" cried the Gascon, "don't threaten! 'tis a bad
example. We are so good and gentle to your eminence. Come,
let us put aside all rancor and talk pleasantly."

"There's nothing I wish more," replied Mazarin. "But don't
think yourselves in a better position than you are. In
ensnaring me you have fallen into the trap yourselves. How
are you to get away from here? remember the soldiers and
sentinels who guard these doors. Now, I am going to show you
how sincere I am."

"Good," thought D'Artagnan; "we must look about us; he's
going to play us a trick."

"I offered you your liberty," continued the minister; "will
you take it? Before an hour has passed you will be
discovered, arrested, obliged to kill me, which would be a
crime unworthy of loyal gentlemen like you."

"He is right," thought Athos.

And, like every other reflection passing in a mind that
entertained none but noble thoughts, this feeling was
expressed in his eyes.

"And therefore," said D'Artagnan, to clip the hope which
Athos's tacit adhesion had imparted to Mazarin, "we shall
not proceed to that violence save in the last extremity."

"If on the contrary," resumed Mazarin, "you accept your
liberty ---- "

"Why you, my lord, might take it away from us in less than
five minutes afterward; and from my knowledge of you I
believe you will so take it away from us."

"No -- on the faith of a cardinal. You do not believe me?"

"My lord, I never believe cardinals who are not priests."

"Well, on the faith of a minister."

"You are no longer a minister, my lord; you are a prisoner."

"Then, on the honor of a Mazarin, as I am and ever shall be,
I hope," said the cardinal.

"Hem," replied D'Artagnan. "I have heard speak of a Mazarin
who had not much religion when his oaths were in question. I
fear he may have been an ancestor of your eminence."

"Monsieur d'Artagnan, you are a great wit and I am really
sorry to be on bad terms with you."

"My lord, let us come to terms; I ask nothing better."

"Very well," said Mazarin, "if I place you in security, in a
manner evident, palpable ---- "

"Ah! that is another thing," said Porthos.

"Let us see," said Athos.

"Let us see," said D'Artagnan.

"In the first place, do you accept?" asked the cardinal.

"Unfold your plan, my lord, and we will see."

"Take notice that you are shut up -- captured."

"You well know, my lord, that there always remains to us a
last resource."


"That of dying together."

Mazarin shuddered.

"Listen," he said; "at the end of yonder corridor is a door,
of which I have the key, it leads into the park. Go, and
take this key with you; you are active, vigorous, and you
have arms. At a hundred steps, on turning to the left, you
will find the wall of the park; get over it, and in three
leaps you will be on the road and free."

"Ah! by Jove, my lord," said D'Artagnan, "you have well
said, but these are only words. Where is the key you speak

"Here it is."

"Ah, my lord! You will conduct us yourself, then, to that

"Very willingly, if it be necessary to reassure you,"
answered the minister, and Mazarin, who was delighted to get
off so cheaply, led the way, in high spirits, to the
corridor and opened the door.

It led into the park, as the three fugitives perceived by
the night breeze which rushed into the corridor and blew the
wind into their faces.

"The devil!" exclaimed the Gascon, "'tis a dreadful night,
my lord. We don't know the locality, and shall never find
the wall. Since your eminence has come so far, come a few
steps further; conduct us, my lord, to the wall."

"Be it so," replied the cardinal; and walking in a straight
line he went to the wall, at the foot of which they all four
arrived at the same instant.

"Are you satisfied, gentlemen?" asked Mazarin.

"I think so, indeed; we should be hard to please if we were
not. Deuce take it! three poor gentlemen escorted by a
prince of the church! Ah! apropos, my lord! you remarked
that we were all active, vigorous and armed."


"You are mistaken. Monsieur du Vallon and I are the only two
who are armed. The count is not; and should we meet with one
of your patrol we must defend ourselves."

"'Tis true."

"Where can we find another sword?" asked Porthos.

"My lord," said D'Artagnan, "will lend his, which is of no
use to him, to the Comte de la Fere."

"Willingly," said the cardinal; "I will even ask the count
to keep it for my sake."

"I promise you, my lord, never to part with it," replied

"Well, well," cried D'Artagnan, "this reconciliation is
truly touching; have you not tears in your eyes, Porthos?"

"Yes," said Porthos; "but I do not know if it is feeling or
the wind that makes me weep; I think it is the wind."

"Now climb up, Athos, quickly," said D'Artagnan. Athos,
assisted by Porthos, who lifted him up like a feather,
arrived at the top.

"Now, jump down, Athos."

Athos jumped and disappeared on the other side of the wall.

"Are you on the ground?" asked D'Artagnan.


"Without accident?"

"Perfectly safe and sound."

"Porthos, whilst I get up, watch the cardinal. No, I don't
want your help, watch the cardinal."

"I am watching," said Porthos. "Well?"

"You are right; it is more difficult than I thought. Lend me
your back -- but don't let the cardinal go."

Porthos lent him his back and D'Artagnan was soon on the
summit of the wall, where he seated himself.

Mazarin pretended to laugh.

"Are you there?" asked Porthos.

"Yes, my friend; and now ---- "

"Now, what?" asked Porthos.

"Now give me the cardinal up here; if he makes any noise
stifle him."

Mazarin wished to call out, but Porthos held him tight and
passed him to D'Artagnan, who seized him by the neck and
made him sit down by him; then in a menacing tone, he said:

"Sir! jump directly down, close to Monsieur de la Fere, or,
on the honor of a gentleman, I'll kill you!"

"Monsieur, monsieur," cried Mazarin, "you are breaking your
word to me!"

"I -- did I promise you anything, my lord?"

Mazarin groaned.

"You are free," he said, "through me; your liberty was my

"Agreed; but the ransom of that immense treasure buried
under the gallery, to which one descends on pushing a spring
hidden in the wall, which causes a tub to turn, revealing a
staircase -- must not one speak of that a little, my lord?"

"Diavolo!" cried Mazarin, almost choked, and clasping his
hands; "I am a lost and ruined man!"

But without listening to his protestations of alarm,
D'Artagnan slipped him gently down into the arms of Athos,
who stood immovable at the bottom of the wall.

Porthos next made an effort which shook the solid wall, and
by the aid of his friend's hand gained the summit.

"I didn't understand it all," he said, "but I understand
now; how droll it is!"

"You think so? so much the better; but that it may prove
laughter-worthy even to the end, let us not lose time." And
he jumped off the wall.

Porthos did the same.

"Attend to monsieur le cardinal, gentlemen," said
D'Artagnan; "for myself, I will reconnoitre."

The Gascon then drew his sword and marched as avant guard.

"My lord," he said, "which way do we go? Think well of your
reply, for should your eminence be mistaken, there might
ensue most grave results for all of us."

"Along the wall, sir," said Mazarin, "there will be no
danger of losing yourselves."

The three friends hastened on, but in a short time were
obliged to slacken the pace. The cardinal could not keep up
with them, though with every wish to do so.

Suddenly D'Artagnan touched something warm, which moved.

"Stop! a horse!" he cried; "I have found a horse!"

"And I, likewise," said Athos.

"I, too," said Porthos, who, faithful to the instructions,
still held the cardinal's arm.

"There's luck, my lord! just as you were complaining of
being tired and obliged to walk."

But as he spoke the barrel of a pistol was presented at his
breast and these words were pronounced:

"Touch it not!"

"Grimaud!" he cried; "Grimaud! what art thou about? Why,
thou art posted here by Heaven!"

"No, sir," said the honest servant, "it was Monsieur Aramis
who posted me here to take care of the horses."

"Is Aramis here?"

"Yes, sir; he has been here since yesterday."

"What are you doing?"

"On the watch ---- "

"What! Aramis here?" cried Athos.

"At the lesser gate of the castle; he's posted there."

"Are you a large party?"


"Let him know."

"This moment, sir."

And believing that no one could execute the commission
better than himself, Grimaud set off at full speed; whilst,
enchanted at being all together again, the friends awaited
his return.

There was no one in the whole group in a bad humor except
Cardinal Mazarin.


In which we begin to think that Porthos will be at last a
Baron, and D'Artagnan a Captain.

At the expiration of ten minutes Aramis arrived, accompanied
by Grimaud and eight or ten followers. He was excessively
delighted and threw himself into his friends' arms.

"You are free, my brothers! free without my aid! and I shall
have succeeded in doing nothing for you in spite of all my

"Do not be unhappy, dear friend, on that account; if you
have done nothing as yet, you will do something soon,"
replied Athos.

"I had well concerted my plans," pursued Aramis; "the
coadjutor gave me sixty men; twenty guard the walls of the
park, twenty the road from Rueil to Saint Germain, twenty
are dispersed in the woods. Thus I was able, thanks to the
strategic disposition of my forces, to intercept two
couriers from Mazarin to the queen."

Mazarin listened intently.

"But," said D'Artagnan, "I trust that you honorably sent
them back to monsieur le cardinal!"

"Ah, yes!" said Aramis, "toward him I should be very likely
to practice such delicacy of sentiment! In one of the
despatches the cardinal declares to the queen that the
treasury is empty and that her majesty has no more money. In
the other he announces that he is about to transport his
prisoners to Melun, since Rueil seemed to him not
sufficiently secure. You can understand, dear friend, with
what hope I was inspired by that last letter. I placed
myself in ambuscade with my sixty men; I encircled the
castle; the riding horses I entrusted to Grimaud and I
awaited your coming out, which I did not expect till
to-morrow, and I didn't hope to free you without a skirmish.
You are free to-night, without fighting; so much the better!
How did you manage to escape that scoundrel Mazarin? You
must have much reason to complain of him."

"Not very much," said D'Artagnan.


"I might even say that we have some reason to praise him."


"Yes, really; it is owing to him that we are free."

"Owing to him?"

"Yes, he had us conducted into the orangery by Monsieur
Bernouin, his valet-de-chambre, and from there we followed
him to visit the Comte de la Fere. Then he offered us our
liberty and we accepted it. He even went so far as to show
us the way out; he led us to the park wall, which we climbed
over without accident, and then we fell in with Grimaud."

"Well!" exclaimed Aramis, "this will reconcile me to him;
but I wish he were here that I might tell him that I did not
believe him capable of so noble an act."

"My lord," said D'Artagnan, no longer able to contain
himself, "allow me to introduce to you the Chevalier
d'Herblay, who wishes -- as you may have heard -- to offer
his congratulations to your eminence."

And he retired, discovering Mazarin, who was in great
confusion, to the astonished gaze of Aramis.

"Ho! ho!" exclaimed the latter, "the cardinal! a glorious
prize! Halloo! halloo! friends! to horse! to horse!"

Several horsemen ran quickly to him.

"Zounds!" cried Aramis, "I may have done some good; so, my
lord, deign to receive my most respectful homage! I will lay
a wager that 'twas that Saint Christopher, Porthos, who
performed this feat! Apropos! I forgot ---- " and he gave
some orders in a low voice to one of the horsemen.

"I think it will be wise to set off," said D'Artagnan.

"Yes; but I am expecting some one, a friend of Athos."

"A friend!" exclaimed the count.

"And here he comes, by Jupiter! galloping through the

"The count! the count!" cried a young voice that made Athos

"Raoul! Raoul!" he ejaculated.

For one moment the young man forgot his habitual respect --
he threw himself on his father's neck.

"Look, my lord cardinal," said Aramis, "would it not have
been a pity to have separated men who love each other as we
love? Gentlemen," he continued, addressing the cavaliers,
who became more and more numerous every instant; "gentlemen,
encircle his eminence, that you may show him the greater
honor. He will, indeed give us the favor of his company; you
will, I hope, be grateful for it; Porthos, do not lose sight
of his eminence."

Aramis then joined Athos and D'Artagnan, who were consulting

"Come," said D'Artagnan, after a conference of five minutes'
duration, "let us begin our journey."

"Where are we to go?" asked Porthos.

"To your house, dear Porthos, at Pierrefonds; your fine
chateau is worthy of affording its princely hospitality to
his eminence; it is, likewise, well situated -- neither too
near Paris, nor too far from it; we can establish a
communication between it and the capital with great
facility. Come, my lord, you shall be treated like a prince,
as you are."

"A fallen prince!" exclaimed Mazarin, piteously.

"The chances of war," said Athos, "are many, but be assured
we shall take no improper advantage of them."

"No, but we shall make use of them," said D'Artagnan.

The rest of the night was employed by these cavaliers in
traveling with the wonderful rapidity of former days.
Mazarin, still sombre and pensive, permitted himself to be
dragged along in this way; it looked a race of phantoms. At
dawn twelve leagues had been passed without drawing rein;
half the escort were exhausted and several horses fell down.

"Horses, nowadays, are not what they were formerly,"
observed Porthos; "everything degenerates."

"I have sent Grimaud to Dammartin," said Aramis. "He is to
bring us five fresh horses -- one for his eminence, four for
us. We, at least, must keep close to monseigneur; the rest
of the start will rejoin us later. Once beyond Saint Denis
we shall have nothing to fear."

Grimaud, in fact, brought back five horses. The nobleman to
whom he applied, being a friend of Porthos, was very ready,
not to sell them, as was proposed, but to lend them. Ten
minutes later the escort stopped at Ermenonville, but the
four friends went on with well sustained ardor, guarding
Mazarin carefully. At noon they rode into the avenue of

"Ah!" said Mousqueton, who had ridden by the side of
D'Artagnan without speaking a word on the journey, "you may
think what you will, sir, but I can breathe now for the
first time since my departure from Pierrefonds;" and he put
his horse to a gallop to announce to the other servants the
arrival of Monsieur du Vallon and his friends.

"We are four of us," said D'Artagnan; "we must relieve each
other in mounting guard over my lord and each of us must
watch three hours at a time. Athos is going to examine the
castle, which it will be necessary to render impregnable in
case of siege; Porthos will see to the provisions and Aramis
to the troops of the garrison. That is to say, Athos will be
chief engineer, Porthos purveyor-in-general, and Aramis
governor of the fortress."

Meanwhile, they gave up to Mazarin the handsomest room in
the chateau.

"Gentlemen," he said, when he was in his room, "you do not
expect, I presume, to keep me here a long time incognito?"

"No, my lord," replied the Gascon; "on the contrary, we
think of announcing very soon that we have you here."

"Then you will be besieged."

"We expect it."

"And what shall you do?"

"Defend ourselves. Were the late Cardinal Richelieu alive he
would tell you a certain story of the Bastion Saint Gervais,
which we four, with our four lackeys and twelve dead men,
held out against a whole army."

"Such feats, sir, are done once -- and never repeated."

"However, nowadays there's no need of so much heroism.
To-morrow the army of Paris will be summoned, the day after
it will be here! The field of battle, instead, therefore, of
being at Saint Denis or at Charenton, will be near Compiegne
or Villars-Cotterets."

"The prince will vanquish you, as he has always done."

"'Tis possible; my lord; but before an engagement ensues we
shall move your eminence to another castle belonging to our
friend Du Vallon, who has three. We will not expose your
eminence to the chances of war."

"Come," answered Mazarin, "I see it will be necessary for me
to capitulate."

"Before a siege?"

"Yes; the conditions will be better than afterward."

"Ah, my lord! as to conditions, you would soon see how
moderate and reasonable we are!"

"Come, now, what are your conditions?"

"Rest yourself first, my lord, and we -- we will reflect."

"I do not need rest, gentlemen; I need to know whether I am
among enemies or friends."

"Friends, my lord! friends!"

"Well, then, tell me at once what you want, that I may see
if any arrangement be possible. Speak, Comte de la Fere!"

"My lord," replied Athos, "for myself I have nothing to
demand. For France, were I to specify my wishes, I should
have too much. I beg you to excuse me and propose to the

And Athos, bowing, retired and remained leaning against the
mantelpiece, a spectator of the scene.

"Speak, then, chevalier!" said the cardinal. "What do you
want? Nothing ambiguous, if you please. Be clear, short and

"As for me," replied Aramis, "I have in my pocket the very
programme of the conditions which the deputation -- of which
I formed one -- went yesterday to Saint Germain to impose on
you. Let us consider first the ancient rights. The demands
in that programme must be granted."

"We were almost agreed on those," replied Mazarin; "let us
pass on to private and personal stipulations."

"You suppose, then, that there are some?" said Aramis,

"I do not suppose that you will all be quite so
disinterested as Monsieur de la Fere," replied the cardinal,
bowing to Athos.

"My lord, you are right, and I am glad to see that you do
justice to the count at last. The count has a mind above
vulgar desires and earthly passions. He is a proud soul --
he is a man by himself! You are right -- he is worth us all,
and we avow it to you!"

"Aramis," said Athos, "are you jesting?"

"No, no, dear friend; I state only what we all know. You are
right; it is not you alone this matter concerns, but my lord
and his unworthy servant, myself."

"Well, then, what do you require besides the general
conditions before recited?"

"I require, my lord, that Normandy should be given to Madame
de Longueville, with five hundred thousand francs and full
absolution. I require that his majesty should deign to be
godfather to the child she has just borne; and that my lord,
after having been present at the christening, should go to
proffer his homage to our Holy Father the Pope."

"That is, you wish me to lay aside my ministerial functions,
to quit France and be an exile."

"I wish his eminence to become pope on the first
opportunity, allowing me then the right of demanding full
indulgences for myself and my friends."

Mazarin made a grimace which was quite indescribable, and
then turned to D'Artagnan.

"And you, sir?" he said.

"I, my lord," answered the Gascon, "I differ from Monsieur
d'Herblay entirely as to the last point, though I agree with
him on the first. Far from wishing my lord to quit Paris, I
hope he will stay there and continue to be prime minister,
as he is a great statesman. I shall try also to help him to
down the Fronde, but on one condition -- that he sometimes
remembers the king's faithful servants and gives the first
vacant company of musketeers to a man that I could name. And
you, Monsieur du Vallon ---- "

"Yes, you, sir! Speak, if you please," said Mazarin.

"As for me," answered Porthos, "I wish my lord cardinal, in
order to do honor to my house, which gives him an asylum,
would in remembrance of this adventure erect my estate into
a barony, with a promise to confer that order on one of my
particular friends, whenever his majesty next creates

"You know, sir, that before receiving the order one must
submit proofs."

"My friends will submit them. Besides, should it be
necessary, monseigneur will show him how that formality may
be avoided."

Mazarin bit his lips; the blow was direct and he replied
rather dryly:

"All this appears to me to be ill conceived, disjointed,
gentlemen; for if I satisfy some I shall displease others.
If I stay in Paris I cannot go to Rome; if I became pope I
could not continue to be prime minister; and it is only by
continuing prime minister that I can make Monsieur
d'Artagnan a captain and Monsieur du Vallon a baron."

"True"" said Aramis, "so, as I am in a minority, I withdraw
my proposition, so far as it relates to the voyage to Rome
and monseigneur's resignation."

"I am to remain minister, then?" said Mazarin.

"You remain minister; that is understood," said D'Artagnan;
"France needs you."

"And I desist from my pretensions," said Aramis. "His
eminence will continue to be prime minister and her
majesty's favorite, if he will grant to me and my friends
what we demand for France and for ourselves."

"Occupy yourselves with your own affairs, gentlemen, and let
France settle matters as she will with me," resumed Mazarin.

"Ho! ho!" replied Aramis. "The Frondeurs will have a treaty
and your eminence must sign it before us, promising at the
same time to obtain the queen's consent to it."

"I can answer only for myself," said Mazarin. "I cannot
answer for the queen. Suppose her majesty refuses?"

"Oh!" said D'Artagnan, "monseigneur knows very well that her
majesty refuses him nothing."

"Here, monseigneur," said Aramis, "is the treaty proposed by
the deputation of Frondeurs. Will your eminence please read
and examine?"

"I am acquainted with it."

"Sign it, then."

"Reflect, gentlemen, that a signature given under
circumstances like the present might be regarded as extorted
by violence."

"Monseigneur will be at hand to testify that it was freely

"Suppose I refuse?"

"Then," said D'Artagnan, "your eminence must expect the
consequences of a refusal."

"Would you dare to touch a cardinal?"

"You have dared, my lord, to imprison her majesty's

"The queen will revenge me, gentlemen."

"I do not think so, although inclination might lead her to
do so, but we shall take your eminence to Paris, and the
Parisians will defend us."

"How uneasy they must be at this moment at Rueil and Saint
Germain," said Aramis. "How they must be asking, `Where is
the cardinal?' `What has become of the minister?' `Where has
the favorite gone?' How they must be looking for monseigneur
in all corners! What comments must be made; and if the
Fronde knows that monseigneur has disappeared, how the
Fronde must triumph!"

"It is frightful," murmured Mazarin.

"Sign the treaty, then, monseigneur," said Aramis.

"Suppose the queen should refuse to ratify it?"

"Ah! nonsense!" cried D'Artagnan, "I can manage so that her
majesty will receive me well; I know an excellent method."


"I shall take her majesty the letter in which you tell her
that the finances are exhausted."

"And then?" asked Mazarin, turning pale.

"When I see her majesty embarrassed, I shall conduct her to
Rueil, make her enter the orangery and show her a certain
spring which turns a box."

"Enough, sir," muttered the cardinal, "you have said enough;
where is the treaty?"

"Here it is," replied Aramis. "Sign, my lord," and he gave
him a pen.

Mazarin arose, walked some moments, thoughtful, but not

"And when I have signed," he said, "what is to be my

"My word of honor, sir," said Athos.

Mazarin started, turned toward the Comte de la Fere, and
looking for an instant at that grand and honest countenance,
took the pen.

"It is sufficient, count," he said, and signed the treaty.

"And now, Monsieur d'Artagnan," he said, "prepare to set off
for Saint Germain and take a letter from me to the queen."


Shows how with Threat and Pen more is effected than by the

D'Artagnan knew his part well; he was aware that opportunity
has a forelock only for him who will take it and he was not
a man to let it go by him without seizing it. He soon
arranged a prompt and certain manner of traveling, by
sending relays of horses to Chantilly, so that he might be
in Paris in five or six hours. But before setting out he
reflected that for a lad of intelligence and experience he
was in a singular predicament, since he was proceeding
toward uncertainty and leaving certainty behind him.

"In fact," he said, as he was about to mount and start on
his dangerous mission, "Athos, for generosity, is a hero of
romance; Porthos has an excellent disposition, but is easily
influenced; Aramis has a hieroglyphic countenance, always
illegible. What will come out of those three elements when I
am no longer present to combine them? The deliverance of the
cardinal, perhaps. Now, the deliverance of the cardinal
would be the ruin of our hopes; and our hopes are thus far
the only recompense we have for labors in comparison with
which those of Hercules were pygmean."

He went to find Aramis.

"You, my dear Chevalier d'Herblay," he said, "are the Fronde
incarnate. Mistrust Athos, therefore, who will not prosecute
the affairs of any one, even his own. Mistrust Porthos,
especially, who, to please the count whom he regards as God
on earth, will assist him in contriving Mazarin's escape, if
Mazarin has the wit to weep or play the chivalric."

Aramis smiled; his smile was at once cunning and resolute.

"Fear nothing," he said; "I have my conditions to impose. My
private ambition tends only to the profit of him who has
justice on his side."

"Good!" thought D'Artagnan: "in this direction I am
satisfied." He pressed Aramis's hand and went in search of

"Friend," he said, "you have worked so hard with me toward
building up our fortune, that, at the moment when we are
about to reap the fruits of our labours, it would be a
ridiculous piece of silliness in you to allow yourself to be
controlled by Aramis, whose cunning you know -- a cunning
which, we may say between ourselves, is not always without
egotism; or by Athos, a noble and disinterested man, but
blase, who, desiring nothing further for himself, doesn't
sympathize with the desires of others. What should you say
if either of these two friends proposed to you to let
Mazarin go?"

"Why, I should say that we had too much trouble in taking
him to let him off so easily."

"Bravo, Porthos! and you would be right, my friend; for in
losing him you would lose your barony, which you have in
your grasp, to say nothing of the fact that, were he once
out of this, Mazarin would have you hanged."

"Do you think so?"

"I am sure of it."

"Then I would kill him rather than let him go."

"And you would act rightly. There is no question, you
understand, provided we secure our own interests, of
securing those of the Frondeurs; who, besides, don't
understand political matters as we old soldiers do."

"Never fear, dear friend," said Porthos. "I shall see you
through the window as you mount your horse; I shall follow
you with my eyes as long as you are in sight; then I shall
place myself at the cardinal's door -- a door with glass
windows. I shall see everything, and at the least suspicious
sign I shall begin to exterminate."

"Bravo!" thought D'Artagnan; "on this side I think the
cardinal will be well guarded." He pressed the hand of the
lord of Pierrefonds and went in search of Athos.

"My dear Athos," he said, "I am going away. I have only one
thing to say to you. You know Anne of Austria; the captivity
of Mazarin alone guarantees my life; if you let him go I am
a dead man."

"I needed nothing less than that consideration, my dear
D'Artagnan, to persuade myself to adopt the role of jailer.
I give you my word that you will find the cardinal where you
leave him."

"This reassures me more than all the royal signatures,"
thought D'Artagnan. "Now that I have the word of Athos I can
set out."

D'Artagnan started alone on his journey, without other
escort than his sword, and with a simple passport from
Mazarin to secure his admission to the queen's presence. Six
hours after he left Pierrefonds he was at Saint Germain.

The disappearance of Mazarin was not as yet generally known.
Anne of Austria was informed of it and concealed her
uneasiness from every one. In the chamber of D'Artagnan and
Porthos the two soldiers had been found bound and gagged. On
recovering the use of their limbs and tongues they could, of
course, tell nothing but what they knew -- that they had
been seized, stripped and bound. But as to what had been
done by Porthos and D'Artagnan afterward they were as
ignorant as all the inhabitants of the chateau.

Bernouin alone knew a little more than the others. Bernouin,
seeing that his master did not return and hearing the stroke
of midnight, had made an examination of the orangery. The
first door, barricaded with furniture, had aroused in him
certain suspicions, but without communicating his suspicions
to any one he had patiently worked his way into the midst of
all that confusion. Then he came to the corridor, all the
doors of which he found open; so, too, was the door of
Athos's chamber and that of the park. From the latter point
it was easy to follow tracks on the snow. He saw that these
tracks tended toward the wall; on the other side he found
similar tracks, then footprints of horses and then signs of
a troop of cavalry which had moved away in the direction of
Enghien. He could no longer cherish any doubt that the
cardinal had been carried off by the three prisoners, since
the prisoners had disappeared at the same time; and he had
hastened to Saint Germain to warn the queen of that

Anne had enforced the utmost secrecy and had disclosed the
event to no one except the Prince de Conde, who had sent
five or six hundred horsemen into the environs of Saint
Germain with orders to bring in any suspicious person who
was going away from Rueil, in whatsoever direction it might

Now, since D'Artagnan did not constitute a body of horsemen,
since he was alone, since he was not going away from Rueil
and was going to Saint Germain, no one paid any attention to
him and his journey was not obstructed in any way.

On entering the courtyard of the old chateau the first
person seen by our ambassador was Maitre Bernouin in person,
who, standing on the threshold, awaited news of his vanished

At the sight of D'Artagnan, who entered the courtyard on
horseback, Bernouin rubbed his eyes and thought he must be
mistaken. But D'Artagnan made a friendly sign to him with
his head, dismounted, and throwing his bridle to a lackey
who was passing, he approached the valet-de-chambre with a
smile on his lips.

"Monsieur d'Artagnan!" cried the latter, like a man who has
the nightmare and talks in his sleep, "Monsieur d'Artagnan!"

"Himself, Monsieur Bernouin."

"And why have you come here?"

"To bring news of Monsieur de Mazarin -- the freshest news
there is."

"What has become of him, then?"

"He is as well as you and I."

"Nothing bad has happened to him, then?"

"Absolutely nothing. He felt the need of making a trip in
the Ile de France, and begged us -- the Comte de la Fere and
Monsieur du Vallon -- to accompany him. We were too devoted
servants to refuse him a request of that sort. We set out
last evening and here we are."

"Here you are."

"His eminence had something to communicate to her majesty,
something secret and private -- a mission that could be
confided only to a sure man -- and so has sent me to Saint
Germain. And therefore, my dear Monsieur Bernouin, if you
wish to do what will be pleasing to your master, announce to
her majesty that I have come, and tell her with what

Whether he spoke seriously or in jest, since it was evident
that under existing circumstances D'Artagnan was the only
man who could relieve the queen's uneasiness, Bernouin went
without hesitation to announce to her this strange embassy;
and as he had foreseen, the queen gave orders to introduce
Monsieur d'Artagnan at once.

D'Artagnan approached the sovereign with every mark of
profound respect, and having fallen on his knees presented
to her the cardinal's letter

It was, however, merely a letter of introduction. The queen
read it, recognized the writing, and, since there were no
details in it of what had occurred, asked for particulars.
D'Artagnan related everything with that simple and ingenuous
air which he knew how to assume on occasions. The queen, as
he went on, looked at him with increasing astonishment. She
could not comprehend how a man could conceive such an
enterprise and still less how he could have the audacity to
disclose it to her whose interest and almost duty it was to
punish him.

"How, sir!" she cried, as D'Artagnan finished, "you dare to
tell me the details of your crime -- to give me an account
of your treason!"

"Pardon, madame, but I think that either I have expressed
myself badly or your majesty has imperfectly understood me.
There is here no question of crime or treason. Monsieur de
Mazarin held us in prison, Monsieur du Vallon and myself,
because we could not believe that he had sent us to England
to quietly look on while they cut off the head of Charles
I., brother-in-law of the late king, your husband, the
consort of Madame Henrietta, your sister and your guest, and
because we did all that we could do to save the life of the
royal martyr. We were then convinced, my friend and I, that
there was some error of which we were the victims, and that
an explanation was called for between his eminence and
ourselves. Now, that an explanation may bear fruit, it is
necessary that it should be quietly conducted, far from
noise and interruption. We have therefore taken away
monsieur le cardinal to my friend's chateau and there we
have come to an understanding. Well, madame, it proved to be
as we had supposed; there was a mistake. Monsieur de Mazarin
had thought that we had rendered service to General
Cromwell, instead of King Charles, which would have been a
disgrace, rebounding from us to him, and from him to your
majesty -- a dishonor which would have tainted the royalty
of your illustrious son. We were able to prove the contrary,
and that proof we are ready to give to your majesty, calling
in support of it the august widow weeping in the Louvre,
where your royal munificence has provided for her a home.
That proof satisfied him so completely that, as a sign of
satisfaction, he has sent me, as your majesty may see, to
consider with you what reparation should be made to
gentlemen unjustly treated and wrongfully persecuted."

"I listen to you, and I wonder at you, sir," said the queen.
"In fact, I have rarely seen such excess of impudence."

"Your majesty, on your side," said D'Artagnan, "is as much
mistaken as to our intentions as the Cardinal Mazarin has
always been."

"You are in error, sir," answered the queen. "I am so little
mistaken that in ten minutes you shall be arrested, and in
an hour I shall set off at the head of my army to release my

"I am sure your majesty will not commit such an act of
imprudence, first, because it would be useless and would
produce the most disastrous results. Before he could be
possibly set free the cardinal would be dead; and indeed, so
convinced is he of this, that he entreated me, should I find
your majesty disposed to act in this way, to do all I could
to induce you to change your resolution."

"Well, then, I will content myself with arresting you!"

"Madame, the possibility of my arrest has been foreseen, and
should I not have returned by to-morrow, at a certain hour
the next day the cardinal will be brought to Paris and
delivered to the parliament."

"It is evident, sir, that your position has kept you out of
relation to men and affairs; otherwise you would know that
since we left Paris monsieur le cardinal has returned
thither five or six times; that he has there met De
Beaufort, De Bouillon, the coadjutor and D'Elbeuf and that
not one of them had any desire to arrest him."

"Your pardon, madame, I know all that. And therefore my
friends will conduct monsieur le cardinal neither to De
Beaufort, nor to De Bouillon, nor to the coadjutor, nor to
D'Elbeuf. These gentlemen wage war on private account, and
in buying them up, by granting them what they wished,
monsieur le cardinal has made a good bargain. He will be
delivered to the parliament, members of which can, of
course, be bought, but even Monsieur de Mazarin is not rich
enough to buy the whole body."

"I think," returned Anne of Austria, fixing upon him a
glance, which in any woman's face would have expressed
disdain, but in a queen's, spread terror to those she looked
upon, "nay, I perceive you dare to threaten the mother of
your sovereign."

"Madame," replied D'Artagnan, "I threaten simply and solely
because I am obliged to do so. Believe me, madame, as true a
thing as it is that a heart beats in this bosom -- a heart
devoted to you -- believe that you have been the idol of our
lives; that we have, as you well know -- good Heaven! --
risked our lives twenty times for your majesty. Have you,
then, madame, no compassion for your servants who for twenty
years have vegetated in obscurity, without betraying in a
single sigh the solemn and sacred secrets they have had the
honor to share with you? Look at me, madame -- at me, whom
you accuse of speaking loud and threateningly. What am I? A
poor officer, without fortune, without protection, without a
future, unless the eye of my queen, which I have sought so
long, rests on me for a moment. Look at the Comte de la
Fere, a type of nobility, a flower of chivalry. He has taken
part against his queen, or rather, against her minister. He
has not been unreasonably exacting, it seems to me. Look at
Monsieur du Vallon, that faithful soul, that arm of steel,
who for twenty years has awaited the word from your lips
which will make him in rank what he is in sentiment and in
courage. Consider, in short, your people who love you and
who yet are famished, who have no other wish than to bless
you, and who, nevertheless -- no, I am wrong, your subjects,
madame, will never curse you; say one word to them and all
will be ended -- peace succeed war, joy tears, and happiness
to misfortune!"

Anne of Austria looked with wonderment on the warlike
countenance of D'Artagnan, which betrayed a singular
expression of deep feeling.

"Why did you not say all this before you took action, sir?"
she said.

"Because, madame, it was necessary to prove to your majesty
one thing of which you doubted ---that is, that we still
possess amongst us some valor and are worthy of some
consideration at your hands."

"And that valor would shrink from no undertaking, according
to what I see."

"It has hesitated at nothing in the past; why, then, should
it be less daring in the future?"

"Then, in case of my refusal, this valor, should a struggle
occur, will even go the length of carrying me off in the
midst of my court, to deliver me into the hands of the
Fronde, as you propose to deliver my minister?"

"We have not thought about it yet, madame," answered
D'Artagnan, with that Gascon effrontery which had in him the
appearance of naivete; but if we four had resolved upon it
we should do it most certainly."

"I ought," muttered Anne to herself, "by this time to
remember that these men are giants."

"Alas, madame!" exclaimed D'Artagnan, "this proves to me
that not till to-day has your majesty had a just idea of

"Perhaps," said Anne; "but that idea, if at last I have it
---- "

"Your majesty will do us justice. In doing us justice you
will no longer treat us as men of vulgar stamp. You will see
in me an ambassador worthy of the high interests he is
authorized to discuss with his sovereign."

"Where is the treaty?"

"Here it is."

Anne of Austria cast her eyes upon the treaty that
D'Artagnan presented to her.

"I do not see here," she said, "anything but general
conditions; the interests of the Prince de Conti or of the
Ducs de Beaufort, de Bouillon and d'Elbeuf and of the
coadjutor, are herein consulted; but with regard to yours?"

"We do ourselves justice, madame, even in assuming the high
position that we have. We do not think ourselves worthy to
stand near such great names."

"But you, I presume, have decided to assert your pretensions
viva voce?"

"I believe you, madame, to be a great and powerful queen,
and that it will be unworthy of your power and greatness if
you do not recompense the arms which will bring back his
eminence to Saint Germain."

"It is my intention so to do; come, let us hear you. Speak."

"He who has negotiated these matters (forgive me if I begin
by speaking of myself, but I must claim that importance
which has been given to me, not assumed by me) he who has
arranged matters for the return of the cardinal, ought, it
appears to me, in order that his reward may not be unworthy
of your majesty, to be made commandant of the guards -- an
appointment something like that of captain of the

"'Tis the appointment Monsieur de Treville held, you ask of

"The place, madame, is vacant, and although 'tis a year
since Monsieur de Treville has left it, it has not been

"But it is one of the principal military appointments in the
king's household."

"Monsieur de Treville was but a younger son of a simple
Gascon family, like me, madame; he occupied that post for
twenty years."

"You have an answer ready for everything," replied the
queen, and she took from her bureau a document, which she
filled up and signed.

"Undoubtedly, madame," said D'Artagnan, taking the document
and bowing, "this is a noble reward; but everything in the
world is unstable, and the man who happened to fall into
disgrace with your majesty might lose this office

"What more do you want?" asked the queen, coloring, as she
found that she had to deal with a mind as subtle as her own.

"A hundred thousand francs for this poor captain of
musketeers, to be paid whenever his services shall no longer
be acceptable to your majesty."

Anne hesitated.

"To think of the Parisians," soliloquized D'Artagnan,
"offering only the other day, by an edict of the parliament,
six hundred thousand francs to any man soever who would
deliver up the cardinal to them, dead or alive -- if alive,
in order to hang him; if dead, to deny him the rites of
Christian burial!"

"Come," said Anne, "'tis reasonable, since you only ask from
a queen the sixth of what the parliament has proposed;" and
she signed an order for a hundred thousand francs.

"Now, then," she said, "what next?"

"Madame, my friend Du Vallon is rich and has therefore
nothing in the way of fortune to desire; but I think I
remember that there was a question between him and Monsieur
Mazarin as to making his estate a barony. Nay, it must have
been a promise."

"A country clown," said Anne of Austria, "people will

"Let them," answered D'Artagnan. "But I am sure of one thing
-- that those who laugh at him in his presence will never
laugh a second time."

"Here goes the barony." said the queen; she signed a patent.

"Now there remains the chevalier, or the Abbe d'Herblay, as
your majesty pleases."

"Does he wish to be a bishop?"

"No, madame, something easier to grant."


"It is that the king should deign to stand godfather to the
son of Madame de Longueville."

The queen smiled.

"Monsieur de Longueville is of royal blood, madame," said

"Yes," said the queen; "but his son?"

"His son, madame, must be, since the husband of the son's
mother is."

"And your friend has nothing more to ask for Madame de

"No, madame, for I presume that the king, standing godfather
to him, could do no less than present him with five hundred
thousand francs, giving his father, also, the government of

"As to the government of Normandy," replied the queen, "I
think I can promise; but with regard to the present, the
cardinal is always telling me there is no more money in the
royal coffers."

"We shall search for some, madame, and I think we can find a
little, and if your majesty approves, we will seek for some

"What next?"

"What next, madame?"


"That is all."

"Haven't you, then, a fourth companion?"

"Yes, madame, the Comte de la Fere."

"What does he ask?"


"There is in the world, then, one man who, having the power
to ask, asks -- nothing!"

"There is the Comte de la Fere, madame. The Comte de la Fere
is not a man."

"What is he, then?"

"The Comte de la Fere is a demi-god."

"Has he not a son, a young man, a relative, a nephew, of
whom Comminges spoke to me as being a brave boy, and who,
with Monsieur de Chatillon, brought the standards from

"He has, as your majesty has said, a ward, who is called the
Vicomte de Bragelonne."

"If that young man should be appointed to a regiment what
would his guardian say?"

"Perhaps he would accept."


"Yes, if your majesty herself should beg him to accept."

"He must be indeed a strange man. Well, we will reflect and
perhaps we will beg him. Are you satisfied, sir?"

"There is one thing the queen has not signed -- her assent
to the treaty."

"Of what use to-day? I will sign it to-morrow."

"I can assure her majesty that if she does not sign to-day
she will not have time to sign to-morrow. Consent, then, I
beg you, madame, to write at the bottom of this schedule,
which has been drawn up by Mazarin, as you see:

"`I consent to ratify the treaty proposed by the

Anne was caught, she could not draw back -- she signed; but
scarcely had she done so when pride burst forth and she
began to weep.

D'Artagnan started on seeing these tears. Since that period
of history queens have shed tears, like other women.

The Gascon shook his head, these tears from royalty melted
his heart.

"Madame," he said, kneeling, "look upon the unhappy man at
your feet. He begs you to believe that at a gesture of your
majesty everything will be possible to him. He has faith in
himself; he has faith in his friends; he wishes also to have
faith in his queen. And in proof that he fears nothing, that
he counts on nothing, he will restore Monsieur de Mazarin to
your majesty without conditions. Behold, madame! here are
the august signatures of your majesty's hand; if you think
you are right in giving them to me, you shall do so, but
from this very moment you are free from any obligation to
keep them."

And D'Artagnan, full of splendid pride and manly
intrepidity, placed in Anne's hands, in a bundle, the papers
that he had one by one won from her with so much difficulty.

There are moments -- for if everything is not good,
everything in this world is not bad -- in which the most
rigid and the coldest soul is softened by the tears of
strong emotion, heart-arraigning sentiment: one of these
momentary impulses actuated Anne. D'Artagnan, when he gave
way to his own feelings -- which were in accordance with
those of the queen -- had accomplished more than the most
astute diplomacy could have attempted. He was therefore
instantly recompensed, either for his address or for his
sensibility, whichever it might be termed.

"You were right, sir," said Anne. "I misunderstood you.
There are the acts signed; I deliver them to you without
compulsion. Go and bring me back the cardinal as soon as

"Madame," faltered D'Artagnan, "'tis twenty years ago -- I
have a good memory -- since I had the honor behind a piece
of tapestry in the Hotel de Ville, of kissing one of those
lovely hands."

"There is the other," replied the queen; "and that the left
hand should not be less liberal than the right," she drew
from her finger a diamond similar to the one formerly given
to him, "take and keep this ring in remembrance of me.

"Madame," said D'Artagnan, rising, "I have only one thing
more to wish, which is, that the next thing you ask from me,
shall be -- my life."

And with this conclusion -- a way peculiar to himself -- he
rose and left the room.

"I never rightly understood those men," said the queen, as
she watched him retiring from her presence; "and it is now
too late, for in a year the king will be of age."

In twenty-four hours D'Artagnan and Porthos conducted
Mazarin to the queen; and the one received his commission,
the other his patent of nobility.

On the same day the Treaty of Paris was signed, and it was
everywhere announced that the cardinal had shut himself up
for three days in order to draw it up with the greatest

Here is what each of the parties concerned gained by that

Monsieur de Conti received Damvilliers, and having made his
proofs as general, he succeeded in remaining a soldier,
instead of being made cardinal. Moreover, something had been
said of a marriage with Mazarin's niece. The idea was
welcomed by the prince, to whom it was of little importance
whom he married, so long as he married some one.

The Duc de Beaufort made his entrance at court, receiving
ample reparation for the wrongs he had suffered, and all the
honor due to his rank. Full pardon was accorded to those who
had aided in his escape. He received also the office of
admiral, which had been held by his father, the Duc de
Vendome and an indemnity for his houses and castles,
demolished by the Parliament of Bretagne.

The Duc de Bouillon received domains of a value equal to
that of his principality of Sedan, and the title of prince,
granted to him and to those belonging to his house.

The Duc de Longueville gained the government of
Pont-de-l'Arche, five hundred thousand francs for his wife
and the honor of seeing her son held at the baptismal font
by the young king and Henrietta of England.

Aramis stipulated that Bazin should officiate at that
ceremony and that Planchet should furnish the christening
sugar plums.

The Duc d'Elbeuf obtained payment of certain sums due to his
wife, one hundred thousand francs for his eldest son and
twenty-five thousand for each of the three others.

The coadjutor alone obtained nothing. They promised, indeed,
to negotiate with the pope for a cardinal's hat for him; but
he knew how little reliance should be placed on such
promises, made by the queen and Mazarin. Quite contrary to
the lot of Monsieur de Conti, unable to be cardinal, he was
obliged to remain a soldier.

And therefore, when all Paris was rejoicing in the expected
return of the king, appointed for the next day, Gondy alone,
in the midst of the general happiness, was dissatisfied; he
sent for the two men whom he was wont to summon when in
especially bad humor. Those two men were the Count de
Rochefort and the mendicant of Saint Eustache. They came
with their usual promptness, and the coadjutor spent with
them a part of the night.


In which it is shown that it is sometimes more difficult for
Kings to return to the Capitals of their Kingdoms, than to
make an Exit.

Whilst D'Artagnan and Porthos were engaged in conducting the
cardinal to Saint Germain, Athos and Aramis returned to

Each had his own particular visit to make.

Aramis rushed to the Hotel de Ville, where Madame de
Longueville was sojourning. The duchess loudly lamented the
announcement of peace. War had made her a queen; peace
brought her abdication. She declared that she would never
assent to the treaty and that she wished eternal war.

But when Aramis had presented that peace to her in a true
light -- that is to say, with all its advantages; when he
had pointed out to her, in exchange for the precarious and
contested royalty of Paris, the viceroyalty of
Font-de-l'Arche, in other words, of all Normandy; when he
had rung in her ears the five hundred thousand francs
promised by the cardinal; when he had dazzled her eyes with
the honor bestowed on her by the king in holding her child
at the baptismal font, Madame de Longueville contended no
longer, except as is the custom with pretty women to
contend, and defended herself only to surrender at last.

Aramis made a presence of believing in the reality of her
opposition and was unwilling to deprive himself in his own
view of the credit of her conversion.

"Madame," he said, "you have wished to conquer the prince
your brother -- that is to say, the greatest captain of the
age; and when women of genius wish anything they always
succeed in attaining it. You have succeeded; the prince is
beaten, since he can no longer fight. Now attach him to our
party. Withdraw him gently from the queen, whom he does not
like, from Mazarin, whom he despises. The Fronde is a
comedy, of which the first act only is played. Let us wait
for a denouement -- for the day when the prince, thanks to
you, shall have turned against the court."

Madame de Longueville was persuaded. This Frondist duchess
trusted so confidently to the power of her fine eyes, that
she could not doubt their influence even over Monsieur de
Conde; and the chronicles of the time aver that her
confidence was justified.

Athos, on quitting Aramis, went to Madame de Chevreuse. Here
was another frondeuse to persuade, and she was even less
open to conviction than her younger rival. There had been no
stipulation in her favor. Monsieur de Chevreuse had not been
appointed governor of a province, and if the queen should
consent to be godmother it could be only of her grandson or
granddaughter. At the first announcement of peace Madame de
Chevreuse frowned, and in spite of all the logic of Athos to
show her that a prolonged war would have been impracticable,
contended in favor of hostilities.

Book of the day: