Part 9 out of 20
"And who brought you up?" he asked again.
"A French nurse, who sent me away when I was five years old
because no one paid her for me, telling me the name of a
relation of whom she had heard my mother often speak."
"What became of you?"
"As I was weeping and begging on the high road, a minister
from Kingston took me in, instructed me in the Calvinistic
faith, taught me all he knew himself and aided me in my
researches after my family."
"And these researches?"
"Were fruitless; chance did everything."
"You discovered what had become of your mother?"
"I learned that she had been assassinated by my relation,
aided by four friends, but I was already aware that I had
been robbed of my wealth and degraded from my nobility by
King Charles I."
"Oh! I now understand why you are in the service of
Cromwell; you hate the king."
"Yes, my lord, I hate him!" said the young man.
Mazarin marked with surprise the diabolical expression with
which the young man uttered these words. Just as,
ordinarily, faces are colored by blood, his face seemed dyed
by hatred and became livid.
"Your history is a terrible one, Mr. Mordaunt, and touches
me keenly; but happily for you, you serve an all-powerful
master; he ought to aid you in your search; we have so many
means of gaining information."
"My lord, to a well-bred dog it is only necessary to show
one end of a track; he is certain to reach the other."
"But this relation you mentioned -- do you wish me to speak
to him?" said Mazarin, who was anxious to make a friend
about Cromwell's person.
"Thanks, my lord, I will speak to him myself. He will treat
me better the next time I see him."
"You have the means, then, of touching him?"
"I have the means of making myself feared."
Mazarin looked at the young man, but at the fire which shot
from his glance he bent his head; then, embarrassed how to
continue such a conversation, he opened Cromwell's letter.
The young man's eyes gradually resumed their dull and glassy
appearance and he fell into a profound reverie. After
reading the first lines of the letter Mazarin gave a side
glance at him to see if he was watching the expression of
his face as he read. Observing his indifference, he shrugged
his shoulders, saying:
"Send on your business those who do theirs at the same time!
Let us see what this letter contains."
We here present the letter verbatim:
"To his Eminence, Monseigneur le Cardinal Mazarini:
"I have wished, monseigneur, to learn your intentions
relating to the existing state of affairs in England. The
two kingdoms are so near that France must be interested in
our situation, as we are interested in that of France. The
English are almost of one mind in contending against the
tyranny of Charles and his adherents. Placed by popular
confidence at the head of that movement, I can appreciate
better than any other its significance and its probable
results. I am at present in the midst of war, and am about
to deliver a decisive battle against King Charles. I shall
gain it, for the hope of the nation and the Spirit of the
Lord are with me. This battle won by me, the king will have
no further resources in England or in Scotland; and if he is
not captured or killed, he will endeavor to pass over into
France to recruit soldiers and to refurnish himself with
arms and money. France has already received Queen Henrietta,
and, unintentionally, doubtless, has maintained a centre of
inextinguishable civil war in my country. But Madame
Henrietta is a daughter of France and was entitled to the
hospitality of France. As to King Charles, the question must
be viewed differently; in receiving and aiding him, France
will censure the acts of the English nation, and thus so
essentially harm England, and especially the well-being of
the government, that such a proceeding will be equivalent to
At this moment Mazarin became very uneasy at the turn which
the letter was taking and paused to glance under his eyes at
the young man. The latter continued in thought. Mazarin
resumed his reading:
"It is important, therefore, monseigneur, that I should be
informed as to the intentions of France. The interests of
that kingdom and those of England, though taking now diverse
directions, are very nearly the same. England needs
tranquillity at home, in order to consummate the expulsion
of her king; France needs tranquillity to establish on solid
foundations the throne of her young monarch. You need, as
much as we do, that interior condition of repose which,
thanks to the energy of our government, we are about to
"Your quarrels with the parliament, your noisy dissensions
with the princes, who fight for you to-day and to-morrow
will fight against you, the popular following directed by
the coadjutor, President Blancmesnil, and Councillor
Broussel -- all that disorder, in short, which pervades the
several departments of the state, must lead you to view with
uneasiness the possibility of a foreign war; for in that
event England, exalted by the enthusiasm of new ideas, will
ally herself with Spain, already seeking that alliance. I
have therefore believed, monseigneur, knowing your prudence
and your personal relation to the events of the present
time, that you will choose to hold your forces concentrated
in the interior of the French kingdom and leave to her own
the new government of England. That neutrality consists
simply in excluding King Charles from the territory of
France and in refraining from helping him -- a stranger to
your country -- with arms, with money or with troops.
"My letter is private and confidential, and for that reason
I send it to you by a man who shares my most intimate
counsels. It anticipates, through a sentiment which your
eminence will appreciate, measures to be taken after the
events. Oliver Cromwell considered it more expedient to
declare himself to a mind as intelligent as Mazarin's than
to a queen admirable for firmness, without doubt, but too
much guided by vain prejudices of birth and of divine right.
"Farewell, monseigneur; should I not receive a reply in the
space of fifteen days, I shall presume my letter will have
"Mr. Mordaunt," said the cardinal, raising his voice, as if
to arouse the dreamer, "my reply to this letter will be more
satisfactory to General Cromwell if I am convinced that all
are ignorant of my having given one; go, therefore, and
await it at Boulogne-sur-Mer, and promise me to set out
"I promise, my lord," replied Mordaunt; "but how many days
does your eminence expect me to await your reply?"
"If you do not receive it in ten days you can leave."
"That is not all, sir," continued Mazarin; "your private
adventures have touched me to the quick; besides, the letter
from Mr. Cromwell makes you an important person as
ambassador; come, tell me, what can I do for you?"
Mordaunt reflected a moment and, after some hesitation, was
about to speak, when Bernouin entered hastily and bending
down to the ear of the cardinal, whispered:
"My lord, the Queen Henrietta Maria, accompanied by an
English noble, is entering the Palais Royal at this moment."
Mazarin made a bound from his chair, which did not escape
the attention of the young man and suppressed the confidence
he was about to make.
"Sir," said the cardinal, "you have heard me? I fix on
Boulogne because I presume that every town in France is
indifferent to you; if you prefer another, name it; but you
can easily conceive that, surrounded as I am by influences I
can only muzzle by discretion, I desire your presence in
Paris to be unknown."
"I go, sir," said Mordaunt, advancing a few steps to the
door by which he had entered.
"No, not that way, I beg, sir," quickly exclaimed the
cardinal, "be so good as to pass by yonder gallery, by which
you can regain the hall. I do not wish you to be seen
leaving; our interview must be kept secret."
Mordaunt followed Bernouin, who led him through the adjacent
chamber and left him with a doorkeeper, showing him the way
Henrietta Maria and Mazarin.
The cardinal rose, and advanced in haste to receive the
queen of England. He showed the more respect to this queen,
deprived of every mark of pomp and stripped of followers, as
he felt some self-reproach for his own want of heart and his
avarice. But supplicants for favor know how to accommodate
the expression of their features, and the daughter of Henry
IV. smiled as she advanced to meet a man she hated and
"Ah!" said Mazarin to himself, "what a sweet face; does she
come to borrow money of me?"
And he threw an uneasy glance at his strong box; he even
turned inside the bevel of the magnificent diamond ring, the
brilliancy of which drew every eye upon his hand, which
indeed was white and handsome.
"Your eminence," said the august visitor, "it was my first
intention to speak of the matters that have brought me here
to the queen, my sister, but I have reflected that political
affairs are more especially the concern of men."
"Madame," said Mazarin, "your majesty overwhelms me with
"He is very gracious," thought the queen; "can he have
guessed my errand?"
"Give," continued the cardinal, "your commands to the most
respectful of your servants."
"Alas, sir," replied the queen, "I have lost the habit of
commanding and have adopted instead that of making
petitions. I am here to petition you, too happy should my
prayer be favorably heard."
"I am listening, madame, with the greatest interest," said
"Your eminence, it concerns the war which the king, my
husband, is now sustaining against his rebellious subjects.
You are perhaps ignorant that they are fighting in England,"
added she, with a melancholy smile, "and that in a short
time they will fight in a much more decided fashion than
they have done hitherto."
"I am completely ignorant of it, madame," said the cardinal,
accompanying his words with a slight shrug of the shoulders;
"alas, our own wars quite absorb the time and the mind of a
poor, incapable, infirm old minister like me."
"Well, then, your eminence," said the queen, "I must inform
you that Charles I., my husband, is on the eve of a decisive
engagement. In case of a check" (Mazarin made a slight
movement), "one must foresee everything; in the case of a
check, he desires to retire into France and to live here as
a private individual. What do you say to this project?"
The cardinal had listened without permitting a single fibre
of his face to betray what he felt, and his smile remained
as it ever was -- false and flattering; and when the queen
finished speaking, he said:
"Do you think, madame, that France, agitated and disturbed
as it is, would be a safe retreat for a dethroned king? How
will the crown, which is scarce firmly set on the head of
Louis XIV., support a double weight?"
"The weight was not so heavy when I was in peril,"
interrupted the queen, with a sad smile, "and I ask no more
for my husband than has been done for me; you see that we
are very humble monarchs, sir."
"Oh, you, madame," the cardinal hastened to say, in order to
cut short the explanation he foresaw was coming, "with
regard to you, that is another thing. A daughter of Henry
IV., of that great, that sublime sovereign ---- "
"All which does not prevent you refusing hospitality to his
son-in-law, sir! Nevertheless, you ought to remember that
that great, that sublime monarch, when proscribed at one
time, as my husband may be, demanded aid from England and
England accorded it to him; and it is but just to say that
Queen Elizabeth was not his niece."
"Peccato!" said Mazarin, writhing beneath this simple
eloquence, "your majesty does not understand me; you judge
my intentions wrongly, and that is partly because,
doubtless, I explain myself in French."
"Speak Italian, sir. Ere the cardinal, your predecessor,
sent our mother, Marie de Medicis, to die in exile, she
taught us that language. If anything yet remains of that
great, that sublime king, Henry, of whom you have just
spoken, he would be much surprised at so little pity for his
family being united to such a profound admiration of
The perspiration stood in large drops on Mazarin's brow.
"That admiration is, on the contrary, so great, so real,
madame," returned Mazarin, without noticing the change of
language offered to him by the queen, "that if the king,
Charles I. -- whom Heaven protect from evil! -- came into
France, I would offer him my house -- my own house; but,
alas! it would be but an unsafe retreat. Some day the people
will burn that house, as they burned that of the Marechal
d'Ancre. Poor Concino Concini! And yet he but desired the
good of the people."
"Yes, my lord, like yourself!" said the queen, ironically.
Mazarin pretended not to understand the double meaning of
his own sentence, but continued to compassionate the fate of
"Well then, your eminence," said the queen, becoming
impatient, "what is your answer?"
"Madame," cried Mazarin, more and more moved, "will your
majesty permit me to give you counsel?"
"Speak, sir," replied the queen; "the counsels of so prudent
a man as yourself ought certainly to be available."
"Madame, believe me, the king ought to defend himself to the
"He has done so, sir, and this last battle, which he
encounters with resources much inferior to those of the
enemy, proves that he will not yield without a struggle; but
in case he is beaten?"
"Well, madame, in that case, my advice -- I know that I am
very bold to offer advice to your majesty -- my advice is
that the king should not leave his kingdom. Absent kings are
very soon forgotten; if he passes over into France his cause
"But," persisted the queen, "if such be your advice and you
have his interest at heart, send him help of men and money,
for I can do nothing for him; I have sold even to my last
diamond to aid him. If I had had a single ornament left, I
should have bought wood this winter to make a fire for my
daughter and myself."
"Oh, madame," said Mazarin, "your majesty knows not what you
ask. On the day when foreign succor follows in the train of
a king to replace him on his throne, it is an avowal that he
no longer possesses the help and love of his own subjects."
"To the point, sir," said the queen, "to the point, and
answer me, yes or no; if the king persists in remaining in
England will you send him succor? If he comes to France will
you accord him hospitality? What do you intend to do?
"Madame," said the cardinal, affecting an effusive frankness
of speech, "I shall convince your majesty, I trust, of my
devotion to you and my desire to terminate an affair which
you have so much at heart. After which your majesty will, I
think, no longer doubt my zeal in your behalf."
The queen bit her lips and moved impatiently on her chair.
"Well, what do you propose to do?" she, said at length;
"I will go this instant and consult the queen, and we will
refer the affair at once to parliament."
"With which you are at war -- is it not so? You will charge
Broussel to report it. Enough, sir, enough. I understand you
or rather, I am wrong. Go to the parliament, for it was from
this parliament, the enemy of monarchs, that the daughter of
the great, the sublime Henry IV., whom you so much admire,
received the only relief this winter which prevented her
from dying of hunger and cold!"
And with these words Henrietta rose in majestic indignation,
whilst the cardinal, raising his hands clasped toward her,
exclaimed, "Ah, madame, madame, how little you know me, mon
But Queen Henrietta, without even turning toward him who
made these hypocritical pretensions, crossed the cabinet,
opened the door for herself and passing through the midst of
the cardinal's numerous guards, courtiers eager to pay
homage, the luxurious show of a competing royalty, she went
and took the hand of De Winter, who stood apart in
isolation. Poor queen, already fallen! Though all bowed
before her, as etiquette required, she had now but a single
arm on which she could lean.
"It signifies little," said Mazarin, when he was alone. "It
gave me pain and it was an ungracious part to play, but I
have said nothing either to the one or to the other.
"See if the young man with the black doublet and the short
hair, who was with me just now, is still in the palace."
Bernouin went out and soon returned with Comminges, who was
"Your eminence," said Comminges, "as I was re-conducting the
young man for whom you have asked, he approached the glass
door of the gallery, and gazed intently upon some object,
doubtless the picture by Raphael, which is opposite the
door. He reflected for a second and then descended the
stairs. I believe I saw him mount a gray horse and leave the
palace court. But is not your eminence going to the queen?"
"For what purpose?"
"Monsieur de Guitant, my uncle, has just told me that her
majesty had received news of the army."
"It is well; I will go."
Comminges had seen rightly, and Mordaunt had really acted as
he had related. In crossing the gallery parallel to the
large glass gallery, he perceived De Winter, who was waiting
until the queen had finished her negotiation.
At this sight the young man stopped short, not in admiration
of Raphael's picture, but as if fascinated at the sight of
some terrible object. His eyes dilated and a shudder ran
through his body. One would have said that he longed to
break through the wall of glass which separated him from his
enemy; for if Comminges had seen with what an expression of
hatred the eyes of this young man were fixed upon De Winter,
he would not have doubted for an instant that the Englishman
was his eternal foe.
But he stopped, doubtless to reflect; for instead of
allowing his first impulse, which had been to go straight to
Lord de Winter, to carry him away, he leisurely descended
the staircase, left the palace with his head down, mounted
his horse, which he reined in at the corner of the Rue
Richelieu, and with his eyes fixed on the gate, waited until
the queen's carriage had left the court.
He had not long to wait, for the queen scarcely remained a
quarter of an hour with Mazarin, but this quarter of an hour
of expectation appeared a century to him. At last the heavy
machine, which was called a chariot in those days, came out,
rumbling against the gates, and De Winter, still on
horseback, bent again to the door to converse with her
The horses started on a trot and took the road to the
Louvre, which they entered. Before leaving the convent of
the Carmelites, Henrietta had desired her daughter to attend
her at the palace, which she had inhabited for a long time
and which she had only left because their poverty seemed to
them more difficult to bear in gilded chambers.
Mordaunt followed the carriage, and when he had watched it
drive beneath the sombre arches he went and stationed
himself under a wall over which the shadow was extended, and
remained motionless, amidst the moldings of Jean Goujon,
like a bas-relievo, representing an equestrian statue.
How, sometimes, the Unhappy mistake Chance for Providence.
"Well, madame," said De Winter, when the queen had dismissed
"Well, my lord, what I foresaw has come to pass."
"What? does the cardinal refuse to receive the king? France
refuse hospitality to an unfortunate prince? Ay, but it is
for the first time, madame!"
"I did not say France, my lord; I said the cardinal, and the
cardinal is not even a Frenchman."
"But did you see the queen?"
"It is useless," replied Henrietta, "the queen will not say
yes when the cardinal says no. Are you not aware that this
Italian directs everything, both indoors and out? And
moreover, I should not be surprised had we been forestalled
by Cromwell. He was embarrassed whilst speaking to me and
yet quite firm in his determination to refuse. Then did you
not observe the agitation in the Palais Royal, the passing
to and fro of busy people? Can they have received any news,
"Not from England, madame. I made such haste that I am
certain of not having been forestalled. I set out three days
ago, passing miraculously through the Puritan army, and I
took post horses with my servant Tony; the horses upon which
we were mounted were bought in Paris. Besides, the king, I
am certain, awaits your majesty's reply before risking
"You will tell him, my lord," resumed the queen,
despairingly, "that I can do nothing; that I have suffered
as much as himself -- more than he has -- obliged as I am to
eat the bread of exile and to ask hospitality from false
friends who smile at my tears; and as regards his royal
person, he must sacrifice it generously and die like a king.
I shall go and die by his side."
"Madame, madame," exclaimed De Winter, "your majesty
abandons yourself to despair; and yet, perhaps, there still
remains some hope."
"No friends left, my lord; no other friends left in the wide
world but yourself! Oh, God!" exclaimed the poor queen,
raising her eyes to Heaven, "have You indeed taken back all
the generous hearts that once existed in the world?"
"I hope not, madame," replied De Winter, thoughtfully; "I
once spoke to you of four men."
"What can be done with four?"
"Four devoted, resolute men can do much, assure yourself,
madame; and those of whom I speak performed great things at
"And where are these four men?"
"Ah, that is what I do not know. It is twenty years since I
saw them, and yet whenever I have seen the king in danger I
have thought of them."
"And these men were your friends?"
"One of them held my life in his hands and gave it to me. I
know not whether he is still my friend, but since that time
I have remained his."
"And these men are in France, my lord?"
"I believe so."
"Tell me their names; perhaps I may have heard them
mentioned and might be able to aid you in finding them."
"One of them was called the Chevalier d'Artagnan."
"Ah, my lord, if I mistake not, the Chevalier d'Artagnan is
lieutenant of royal guards; but take care, for I fear that
this man is entirely devoted to the cardinal."
"That would be a misfortune," said De Winter, "and I shall
begin to think that we are really doomed."
"But the others," said the queen, who clung to this last
hope as a shipwrecked man clings to the hull of his vessel.
"The others, my lord!"
"The second -- I heard his name by chance; for before
fighting us, these four gentlemen told us their names; the
second was called the Comte de la Fere. As for the two
others, I had so much the habit of calling them by nicknames
that I have forgotten their real ones."
"Oh, mon Dieu, it is a matter of the greatest urgency to
find them out," said the queen, "since you think these
worthy gentlemen might be so useful to the king."
"Oh, yes," said De Winter, "for they are the same men.
Listen, madame, and recall your remembrances. Have you never
heard that Queen Anne of Austria was once saved from the
greatest danger ever incurred by a queen?"
"Yes, at the time of her relations with Monsieur de
Buckingham; it had to do in some way with certain studs and
"Well, it was that affair, madame; these men are the ones
who saved her; and I smile with pity when I reflect that if
the names of those gentlemen are unknown to you it is
because the queen has forgotten them, who ought to have made
them the first noblemen of the realm."
"Well, then, my lord, they must be found; but what can four
men, or rather three men do -- for I tell you, you must not
count on Monsieur d'Artagnan."
"It will be one valiant sword the less, but there will
remain still three, without reckoning my own; now four
devoted men around the king to protect him from his enemies,
to be at his side in battle, to aid him with counsel, to
escort him in flight, are sufficient, not to make the king a
conqueror, but to save him if conquered; and whatever
Mazarin may say, once on the shores of France your royal
husband may find as many retreats and asylums as the seabird
finds in a storm."
"Seek, then, my lord, seek these gentlemen; and if they will
consent to go with you to England, I will give to each a
duchy the day that we reascend the throne, besides as much
gold as would pave Whitehall. Seek them, my lord, and find
them, I conjure you."
"I will search for them, madame," said De Winter "and
doubtless I shall find them; but time fails me. Has your
majesty forgotten that the king expects your reply and
awaits it in agony?"
"Then indeed we are lost!" cried the queen, in the fullness
of a broken heart.
At this moment the door opened and the young Henrietta
appeared; then the queen, with that wonderful strength which
is the privilege of parents, repressed her tears and
motioned to De Winter to change the subject.
But that act of self-control, effective as it was, did not
escape the eyes of the young princess. She stopped on the
threshold, breathed a sigh, and addressing the queen:
"Why, then, do you always weep, mother, when I am away from
you?" she said.
The queen smiled, but instead of answering:
"See, De Winter," she said, "I have at least gained one
thing in being only half a queen; and that is that my
children call me `mother' instead of `madame.'"
Then turning toward her daughter:
"What do you want, Henrietta?" she demanded.
"My mother," replied the young princess, "a cavalier has
just entered the Louvre and wishes to present his respects
to your majesty; he arrives from the army and has, he says,
a letter to remit to you, on the part of the Marechal de
Grammont, I think."
"Ah!" said the queen to De Winter, "he is one of my faithful
adherents; but do you not observe, my dear lord, that we are
so poorly served that it is left to my daughter to fill the
office of doorkeeper?"
"Madame, have pity on me," exclaimed De Winter; "you wring
"And who is this cavalier, Henrietta?" asked the queen.
"I saw him from the window, madame; he is a young man that
appears scarce sixteen years of age, and is called the
Viscount de Bragelonne."
The queen, smiling, made a sign with her head; the young
princess opened the door and Raoul appeared on the
Advancing a few steps toward the queen, he knelt down.
"Madame," said he, "I bear to your majesty a letter from my
friend the Count de Guiche, who told me he had the honor of
being your servant; this letter contains important news and
the expression of his respect."
At the name of the Count de Guiche a blush spread over the
cheeks of the young princess and the queen glanced at her
with some degree of severity.
"You told me that the letter was from the Marechal de
Grammont, Henrietta!" said the queen.
"I thought so, madame," stammered the young girl.
"It is my fault, madame," said Raoul. "I did announce
myself, in truth, as coming on the part of the Marechal de
Grammont; but being wounded in the right arm he was unable
to write and therefore the Count de Guiche acted as his
"There has been fighting, then?" asked the queen, motioning
to Raoul to rise.
"Yes, madame," said the young man.
At this announcement of a battle having taken place, the
princess opened her mouth as though to ask a question of
interest; but her lips closed again without articulating a
word, while the color gradually faded from her cheeks.
The queen saw this, and doubtless her maternal heart
translated the emotion, for addressing Raoul again:
"And no evil has happened to the young Count de Guiche?" she
asked; "for not only is he our servant, as you say, sir, but
more -- he is one of our friends."
"No, madame," replied Raoul; "on the contrary, he gained
great glory and had the honor of being embraced by his
highness, the prince, on the field of battle."
The young princess clapped her hands; and then, ashamed of
having been betrayed into such a demonstration of joy, she
half turned away and bent over a vase of roses, as if to
inhale their odor.
"Let us see," said the queen, "what the count says." And she
opened the letter and read:
"Madame, -- Being unable to have the honor of writing to you
myself, by reason of a wound I have received in my right
hand, I have commanded my son, the Count de Guiche, who,
with his father, is equally your humble servant, to write to
tell you that we have just gained the battle of Lens, and
that this victory cannot fail to give great power to
Cardinal Mazarin and to the queen over the affairs of
Europe. If her majesty will have faith in my counsels she
ought to profit by this event to address at this moment, in
favor of her august husband, the court of France. The
Vicomte de Bragelonne, who will have the honor of remitting
this letter to your majesty, is the friend of my son, who
owes to him his life; he is a gentleman in whom your majesty
may confide entirely, in case your majesty may have some
verbal or written order to remit to me.
"I have the honor to be, with respect, etc.,
"Marechal de Grammont."
At the moment mention occurred of his having rendered a
service to the count, Raoul could not help turning his
glance toward the young princess, and then he saw in her
eyes an expression of infinite gratitude to the young man;
he no longer doubted that the daughter of King Charles I.
loved his friend.
"The battle of Lens gained!" said the queen; "they are lucky
here indeed; they can gain battles! Yes, the Marechal de
Grammont is right; this will change the aspect of French
affairs, but I much fear it will do nothing for English,
even if it does not harm them. This is recent news, sir,"
continued she, "and I thank you for having made such haste
to bring it to me; without this letter I should not have
heard till to-morrow, perhaps after to-morrow -- the last of
"Madame," said Raoul, "the Louvre is but the second palace
this news has reached; it is as yet unknown to all, and I
had sworn to the Count de Guiche to remit this letter to
your majesty before even I should embrace my guardian."
"Your guardian! is he, too, a Bragelonne?" asked Lord de
Winter. "I once knew a Bragelonne -- is he still alive?"
"No, sir, he is dead; and I believe it is from him my
guardian, whose near relation he was, inherited the estate
from which I take my name."
"And your guardian, sir," asked the queen, who could not
help feeling some interest in the handsome young man before
her, "what is his name?"
"The Comte de la Fere, madame," replied the young man,
De Winter made a gesture of surprise and the queen turned to
him with a start of joy.
"The Comte de la Fere!" she cried. "Have you not mentioned
that name to me?"
As for De Winter he could scarcely believe that he had heard
aright. "The Comte de la Fere!" he cried in his turn. "Oh,
sir, reply, I entreat you -- is not the Comte de la Fere a
noble whom I remember, handsome and brave, a musketeer under
Louis XIII., who must be now about forty-seven or
forty-eight years of age?"
"Yes, sir, you are right in every particular!"
"And who served under an assumed name?"
"Under the name of Athos. Latterly I heard his friend,
Monsieur d'Artagnan, give him that name."
"That is it, madame, that is the same. God be praised! And
he is in Paris?" continued he, addressing Raoul; then
turning to the queen: "We may still hope. Providence has
declared for us, since I have found this brave man again in
so miraculous a manner. And, sir, where does he reside,
"The Comte de la Fere lodges in the Rue Guenegaud, Hotel du
Grand Roi Charlemagne."
"Thanks, sir. Inform this dear friend that he may remain
within, that I shall go and see him immediately."
"Sir, I obey with pleasure, if her majesty will permit me to
"Go, Monsieur de Bragelonne," said the queen, "and rest
assured of our affection."
Raoul bent respectfully before the two princesses, and
bowing to De Winter, departed.
The queen and De Winter continued to converse for some time
in low voices, in order that the young princess should not
overhear them; but the precaution was needless: she was in
deep converse with her own thoughts.
Then, when De Winter rose to take leave:
"Listen, my lord," said the queen; "I have preserved this
diamond cross which came from my mother, and this order of
St. Michael which came from my husband. They are worth about
fifty thousand pounds. I had sworn to die of hunger rather
than part with these precious pledges; but now that this
ornament may be useful to him or his defenders, everything
must be sacrificed. Take them, and if you need money for
your expedition, sell them fearlessly, my lord. But should
you find the means of retaining them, remember, my lord,
that I shall esteem you as having rendered the greatest
service that a gentleman can render to a queen; and in the
day of my prosperity he who brings me this order and this
cross shall be blessed by me and my children."
"Madame," replied De Winter, "your majesty will be served by
a man devoted to you. I hasten to deposit these two objects
in a safe place, nor should I accept them if the resources
of our ancient fortune were left to us, but our estates are
confiscated, our ready money is exhausted, and we are
reduced to turn to service everything we possess. In an hour
hence I shall be with the Comte de la Fere, and to-morrow
your majesty shall have a definite reply."
The queen tendered her hand to Lord de Winter, who, kissing
it respectfully, went out and traversed alone and
unconducted those large, dark and deserted apartments,
brushing away tears which, blase as he was by fifty years
spent as a courtier, he could not withhold at the spectacle
of royal distress so dignified, yet so intense.
Uncle and Nephew.
The horse and servant belonging to De Winter were waiting
for him at the door; he proceeded toward his abode very
thoughtfully, looking behind him from time to him to
contemplate the dark and silent frontage of the Louvre. It
was then that he saw a horseman, as it were, detach himself
from the wall and follow him at a little distance. In
leaving the Palais Royal he remembered to have observed a
"Tony," he said, motioning to his groom to approach.
"Here I am, my lord."
"Did you remark that man who is following us?"
"Yes, my lord."
"Who is he?"
"I do not know, only he has followed your grace from the
Palais Royal, stopped at the Louvre to wait for you, and now
leaves the Louvre with you."
"Some spy of the cardinal," said De Winter to him, aside.
"Let us pretend not to notice that he is watching us."
And spurring on he plunged into the labyrinth of streets
which led to his hotel, situated near the Marais, for having
for so long a time lived near the Place Royale, Lord de
Winter naturally returned to lodge near his ancient
The unknown spurred his horse to a gallop.
De Winter dismounted at his hotel and went up into his
apartment, intending to watch the spy; but as he was about
to place his gloves and hat on a table, he saw reflected in
a glass opposite to him a figure which stood on the
threshold of the room. He turned around and Mordaunt stood
There was a moment of frozen silence between these two.
"Sir," said De Winter, "I thought I had already made you
aware that I am weary of this persecution; withdraw, then,
or I shall call and have you turned out as you were in
London. I am not your uncle, I know you not."
"My uncle," replied Mordaunt, with his harsh and bantering
tone, "you are mistaken; you will not have me turned out
this time as you did in London -- you dare not. As for
denying that I am your nephew, you will think twice about
it, now that I have learned some things of which I was
ignorant a year ago."
"And how does it concern me what you have learned?" said De
"Oh, it concerns you very closely, my uncle, I am sure, and
you will soon be of my opinion," added he, with a smile
which sent a shudder through the veins of him he thus
addressed. "When I presented myself before you for the first
time in London, it was to ask you what had become of my
fortune; the second time it was to demand who had sullied my
name; and this time I come before you to ask a question far
more terrible than any other, to say to you as God said to
the first murderer: `Cain, what hast thou done to thy
brother Abel?' My lord, what have you done with your sister
-- your sister, who was my mother?"
De Winter shrank back from the fire of those scorching eyes.
"Your mother?" he said.
"Yes, my lord, my mother," replied the young man, advancing
into the room until he was face to face with Lord de Winter,
and crossing his arms. "I have asked the headsman of
Bethune," he said, his voice hoarse and his face livid with
passion and grief. "And the headsman of Bethune gave me a
De Winter fell back in a chair as though struck by a
thunderbolt and in vain attempted a reply.
"Yes," continued the young man; "all is now explained; with
this key I open the abyss. My mother inherited an estate
from her husband, you have assassinated her; my name would
have secured me the paternal estate, you have deprived me of
it; you have despoiled me of my fortune. I am no longer
astonished that you knew me not. I am not surprised that you
refused to recognize me. When a man is a robber it is hard
to call him nephew whom he has impoverished; when one is a
murderer, to recognize the man whom one has made an orphan."
These words produced a contrary effect to that which
Mordaunt had anticipated. De Winter remembered the monster
that Milady had been; he rose, dignified and calm,
restraining by the severity of his look the wild glance of
the young man.
"You desire to fathom this horrible secret?" said De Winter;
"well, then, so be it. Know, then, what manner of woman it
was for whom to-day you call me to account. That woman had,
in all probability, poisoned my brother, and in order to
inherit from me she was about to assassinate me in my turn.
I have proof of it. What say you to that?"
"I say that she was my mother."
"She caused the unfortunate Duke of Buckingham to be stabbed
by a man who was, ere that, honest, good and pure. What say
you to that crime, of which I have the proof?"
"She was my mother."
"On our return to France she had a young woman who was
attached to one of her opponents poisoned in the convent of
the Augustines at Bethune. Will this crime persuade you of
the justice of her punishment -- for of all this I have the
"She was my mother!" cried the young man, who uttered these
three successive exclamations with constantly increasing
"At last, charged with murders, with debauchery, hated by
every one and yet threatening still, like a panther
thirsting for blood, she fell under the blows of men whom
she had rendered desperate, though they had never done her
the least injury; she met with judges whom her hideous
crimes had evoked; and that executioner you saw -- that
executioner who you say told you everything -- that
executioner, if he told you everything, told you that he
leaped with joy in avenging on her his brother's shame and
suicide. Depraved as a girl, adulterous as a wife, an
unnatural sister, homicide, poisoner, execrated by all who
knew her, by every nation that had been visited by her, she
died accursed by Heaven and earth."
A sob which Mordaunt could not repress burst from his throat
and his livid face became suffused with blood; he clenched
his fists, sweat covered his face, his hair, like Hamlet's,
stood on end, and racked with fury he cried out:
"Silence, sir! she was my mother! Her crimes, I know them
not; her disorders, I know them not; her vices, I know them
not. But this I know, that I had a mother, that five men
leagued against one woman, murdered her clandestinely by
night -- silently -- like cowards. I know that you were one
of them, my uncle, and that you cried louder than the
others: `She must die.' Therefore I warn you, and listen
well to my words, that they may be engraved upon your
memory, never to be forgotten: this murder, which has robbed
me of everything -- this murder, which has deprived me of my
name -- this murder, which has impoverished me -- this
murder, which has made me corrupt, wicked, implacable -- I
shall summon you to account for it first and then those who
were your accomplices, when I discover them!"
With hatred in his eyes, foaming at his mouth, and his fist
extended, Mordaunt had advanced one more step, a
threatening, terrible step, toward De Winter. The latter put
his hand to his sword, and said, with the smile of a man who
for thirty years has jested with death:
"Would you assassinate me, sir? Then I shall recognize you
as my nephew, for you would be a worthy son of such a
"No," replied Mordaunt, forcing his features and the muscles
of his body to resume their usual places and be calm; "no, I
shall not kill you; at least not at this moment, for without
you I could not discover the others. But when I have found
them, then tremble, sir. I stabbed to the heart the headsman
of Bethune, without mercy or pity, and he was the least
guilty of you all."
With these words the young man went out and descended the
stairs with sufficient calmness to pass unobserved; then
upon the lowest landing place he passed Tony, leaning over
the balustrade, waiting only for a call from his master to
mount to his room.
But De Winter did not call; crushed, enfeebled, he remained
standing and with listening ear; then only when he had heard
the step of the horse going away he fell back on a chair,
"My God, I thank Thee that he knows me only."
Whilst this terrible scene was passing at Lord de Winter's,
Athos, seated near his window, his elbow on the table and
his head supported on his hand, was listening intently to
Raoul's account of the adventures he met with on his journey
and the details of the battle.
Listening to the relation of those emotions so fresh and
pure, the fine, noble face of Athos betrayed indescribable
pleasure; he inhaled the tones of that young voice, as
harmonious music. He forgot all that was dark in the past
and that was cloudy in the future. It almost seemed as if
the return of this much loved boy had changed his fears to
hopes. Athos was happy -- happy as he had never been before.
"And you assisted and took part in this great battle,
Bragelonne!" cried the former musketeer.
"And it was a fierce one?"
"His highness the prince charged eleven times in person."
"He is a great commander, Bragelonne."
"He is a hero, sir. I did not lose sight of him for an
instant. Oh! how fine it is to be called Conde and to be so
worthy of such a name!"
"He was calm and radiant, was he not?"
"As calm as at parade, radiant as at a fete. When we went up
to the enemy it was slowly; we were forbidden to draw first
and we were marching toward the Spaniards, who were on a
height with lowered muskets. When we arrived about thirty
paces from them the prince turned around to the soldiers:
`Comrades,' he said, `you are about to suffer a furious
discharge; but after that you will make short work with
those fellows.' There was such dead silence that friends and
enemies could have heard these words; then raising his
sword, `Sound trumpets!' he cried."
"Well, very good; you will do as much when the opportunity
occurs, will you, Raoul?"
"I know not, sir, but I thought it really very fine and
"Were you afraid, Raoul?" asked the count.
"Yes, sir," replied the young man naively; "I felt a great
chill at my heart, and at the word `fire,' which resounded
in Spanish from the enemy's ranks, I closed my eyes and
thought of you."
"In honest truth, Raoul?" said Athos, pressing his hand.
"Yes, sir; at that instant there was such a rataplan of
musketry that one might have imagined the infernal regions
had opened. Those who were not killed felt the heat of the
flames. I opened my eyes, astonished to find myself alive
and even unhurt; a third of the squadron were lying on the
ground, wounded, dead or dying. At that moment I encountered
the eye of the prince. I had but one thought and that was
that he was observing me. I spurred on and found myself in
the enemy's ranks."
"And the prince was pleased with you?"
"He told me so, at least, sir, when he desired me to return
to Paris with Monsieur de Chatillon, who was charged to
carry the news to the queen and to bring the colors we had
taken. `Go,' said he; `the enemy will not rally for fifteen
days and until that time I have no need of your service. Go
and see those whom you love and who love you, and tell my
sister De Longueville that I thank her for the present that
she made me of you.' And I came, sir," added Raoul, gazing
at the count with a smile of real affection, "for I thought
you would be glad to see me again."
Athos drew the young man toward him and pressed his lips to
his brow, as he would have done to a young daughter.
"And now, Raoul," said he, "you are launched; you have dukes
for friends, a marshal of France for godfather, a prince of
the blood as commander, and on the day of your return you
have been received by two queens; it is not so bad for a
"Oh sir," said Raoul, suddenly, "you recall something,
which, in my haste to relate my exploits, I had forgotten;
it is that there was with Her Majesty the Queen of England,
a gentleman who, when I pronounced your name, uttered a cry
of surprise and joy; he said he was a friend of yours, asked
your address, and is coming to see you."
"What is his name?"
"I did not venture to ask, sir; he spoke elegantly, although
I thought from his accent he was an Englishman."
"Ah!" said Athos, leaning down his head as if to remember
who it could be. Then, when he raised it again, he was
struck by the presence of a man who was standing at the open
door and was gazing at him with a compassionate air.
"Lord de Winter!" exclaimed the count.
"Athos, my friend!"
And the two gentlemen were for an instant locked in each
other's arms; then Athos, looking into his friend's face and
taking him by both hands, said:
"What ails you, my lord? you appear as unhappy as I am the
"Yes, truly, dear friend; and I may even say the sight of
you increases my dismay."
And De Winter glancing around him, Raoul quickly understood
that the two friends wished to be alone and he therefore
left the room unaffectedly.
"Come, now that we are alone," said Athos, "let us talk of
"Whilst we are alone let us speak of ourselves," replied De
Winter. "He is here."
Athos, again struck by this name, which seemed to pursue him
like an echo, hesitated for a moment, then slightly knitting
his brows, he calmly said:
"I know it, Grimaud met him between Bethune and Arras and
then came here to warn me of his presence."
"Does Grimaud know him, then?"
"No; but he was present at the deathbed of a man who knew
"The headsman of Bethune?" exclaimed De Winter.
"You know about that?" cried Athos, astonished.
"He has just left me," replied De Winter, "after telling me
all. Ah! my friend! what a horrible scene! Why did we not
destroy the child with the mother?"
"What need you fear?" said Athos, recovering from the
instinctive fear he had at first experienced, by the aid of
reason; "are we not men accustomed to defend ourselves? Is
this young man an assassin by profession -- a murderer in
cold blood? He has killed the executioner of Bethune in an
access of passion, but now his fury is assuaged."
De Winter smiled sorrowfully and shook his head.
"Do you not know the race?" said he.
"Pooh!" said Athos, trying to smile in his turn. "It must
have lost its ferocity in the second generation. Besides, my
friend, Providence has warned us, that we may be on our
guard. All we can now do is to wait. Let us wait; and, as I
said before, let us speak of yourself. What brings you to
"Affairs of importance which you shall know later. But what
is this that I hear from Her Majesty the Queen of England?
Monsieur d'Artagnan sides with Mazarin! Pardon my frankness,
dear friend. I neither hate nor blame the cardinal, and your
opinions will be held ever sacred by me. But do you happen
to belong to him?"
"Monsieur d'Artagnan," replied Athos, "is in the service; he
is a soldier and obeys all constitutional authority.
Monsieur d'Artagnan is not rich and has need of his position
as lieutenant to enable him to live. Millionaires like
yourself, my lord, are rare in France."
"Alas!" said De Winter, "I am at this moment as poor as he
is, if not poorer. But to return to our subject."
"Well, then, you wish to know if I am of Mazarin's party?
No. Pardon my frankness, too, my lord."
"I am obliged to you, count, for this pleasing intelligence!
You make me young and happy again by it. Ah! so you are not
a Mazarinist? Delightful! Indeed, you could not belong to
him. But pardon me, are you free? I mean to ask if you are
"Ah! as to that, no," replied Athos, laughing.
"Because that young man, so handsome, so elegant, so
polished ---- "
"Is a child I have adopted and who does not even know who
was his father."
"Very well; you are always the same, Athos, great and
generous. Are you still friends with Monsieur Porthos and
"Add Monsieur d'Artagnan, my lord. We still remain four
friends devoted to each other; but when it becomes a
question of serving the cardinal or of fighting him, of
being Mazarinists or Frondists, then we are only two."
"Is Monsieur Aramis with D'Artagnan?" asked Lord de Winter.
"No," said Athos; "Monsieur Aramis does me the honor to
share my opinions."
"Could you put me in communication with your witty and
agreeable friend? Is he much changed?"
"He has become an abbe, that is all."
"You alarm me; his profession must have made him renounce
any great undertakings."
"On the contrary," said Athos, smiling, "he has never been
so much a musketeer as since he became an abbe, and you will
find him a veritable soldier."
"Could you engage to bring him to me to-morrow morning at
ten o'clock, on the Pont du Louvre?"
"Oh, oh!" exclaimed Athos, smiling, "you have a duel in
"Yes, count, and a splendid duel, too; a duel in which I
hope you will take your part."
"Where are we to go, my lord?"
"To Her Majesty the Queen of England, who has desired me to
present you to her."
"This is an enigma," said Athos, "but it matters not; since
you know the solution of it I ask no further. Will your
lordship do me the honor to sup with me?"
"Thanks, count, no," replied De Winter. "I own to you that
that young man's visit has subdued my appetite and probably
will rob me of my sleep. What undertaking can have brought
him to Paris? It was not to meet me that he came, for he was
ignorant of my journey. This young man terrifies me, my
lord; there lies in him a sanguinary predisposition."
"What occupies him in England?"
"He is one of Cromwell's most enthusiastic disciples."
"But what attached him to the cause? His father and mother
were Catholics, I believe?"
"His hatred of the king, who deprived him of his estates and
forbade him to bear the name of De Winter."
"And what name does he now bear?"
"A Puritan, yet disguised as a monk he travels alone in
"Do you say as a monk?"
"It was thus, and by mere accident -- may God pardon me if I
blaspheme -- that he heard the confession of the executioner
"Then I understand it all! he has been sent by Cromwell to
Mazarin, and the queen guessed rightly; we have been
forestalled. Everything is clear to me now. Adieu, count,
"But the night is dark," said Athos, perceiving that Lord de
Winter seemed more uneasy than he wished to appear; "and you
have no servant."
"I have Tony, a safe if simple youth."
"Halloo, there, Grimaud, Olivain, and Blaisois! call the
viscount and take the musket with you."
Blaisois was the tall youth, half groom, half peasant, whom
we saw at the Chateau de Bragelonne, whom Athos had
christened by the name of his province.
"Viscount," said Athos to Raoul, as he entered, "you will
conduct my lord as far as his hotel and permit no one to
"Oh! count," said De Winter, "for whom do you take me?"
"For a stranger who does not know Paris," said Athos, "and
to whom the viscount will show the way."
De Winter shook him by the hand.
"Grimaud," said Athos, "put yourself at the head of the
troop and beware of the monk."
Grimaud shuddered, and nodding, awaited the departure,
regarding the butt of his musket with silent eloquence. Then
obeying the orders given him by Athos, he headed the small
procession, bearing the torch in one hand and the musket in
the other, until it reached De Winter's inn, when pounding
on the portal with his fist, he bowed to my lord and faced
about without a word.
The same order was followed in returning, nor did Grimaud's
searching glance discover anything of a suspicious
appearance, save a dark shadow, as it were, in ambuscade, at
the corner of the Rue Guenegaud and of the Quai. He fancied,
also, that in going he had already observed the street
watcher who had attracted his attention. He pushed on toward
him, but before he could reach it the shadow had disappeared
into an alley, into which Grimaud deemed it scarcely prudent
to pursue it.
The next day, on awaking, the count perceived Raoul by his
bedside. The young man was already dressed and was reading a
new book by M. Chapelain.
"Already up, Raoul?" exclaimed the count.
"Yes, sir," replied Raoul, with slight hesitation; "I did
not sleep well."
"You, Raoul, not sleep well! then you must have something on
your mind!" said Athos.
"Sir, you will perhaps think that I am in a great hurry to
leave you when I have only just arrived, but ---- "
"Have you only two days of leave, Raoul?"
"On the contrary, sir, I have ten; nor is it to the camp I
wish to go."
"Where, then?" said Athos, smiling, "if it be not a secret.
You are now almost a man, since you have made your first
passage of arms, and have acquired the right to go where you
will without consulting me."
"Never, sir," said Raoul, "as long as I possess the
happiness of having you for a protector, shall I deem I have
the right of freeing myself from a guardianship so valuable
to me. I have, however, a wish to go and pass a day at
Blois. You look at me and you are going to laugh at me."
"No, on the contrary, I am not inclined to laugh," said
Athos, suppressing a sigh. "You wish to see Blois again; it
is but natural."
"Then you permit me to go, you are not angry in your heart?"
exclaimed Raoul, joyously.
"Certainly; and why should I regret what gives you
"Oh! how kind you are," exclaimed the young man, pressing
his guardian's hand; "and I can set out immediately?"
"When you like, Raoul."
"Sir," said Raoul, as he turned to leave the room, "I have
thought of one thing, and that is about the Duchess of
Chevreuse, who was so kind to me and to whom I owe my
introduction to the prince."
"And you ought to thank her, Raoul. Well, try the Hotel de
Luynes, Raoul, and ask if the duchess can receive you. I am
glad to see you pay attention to the usages of the world.
You must take Grimaud and Olivain."
"Both, sir?" asked Raoul, astonished.
Raoul went out, and when Athos heard his young, joyous voice
calling to Grimaud and Olivain, he sighed.
"It is very soon to leave me," he thought, "but he follows
the common custom. Nature has made us thus; she makes the
young look ever forward, not behind. He certainly likes the
child, but will he love me less as his affection grows for
And Athos confessed to himself that, he was unprepared for
so prompt a departure; but Raoul was so happy that this
reflection effaced everything else from the consideration of
Everything was ready at ten o'clock for the departure, and
as Athos was watching Raoul mount, a groom rode up from the
Duchess de Chevreuse. He was charged to tell the Comte de la
Fere, that she had learned of the return of her youthful
protege, and also the manner he had conducted himself on the
field, and she added that she should be very glad to offer
him her congratulations.
"Tell her grace," replied Athos, "that the viscount has just
mounted his horse to proceed to the Hotel de Luynes."
Then, with renewed instructions to Grimaud, Athos signified
to Raoul that he could set out, and ended by reflecting that
it was perhaps better that Raoul should be away from Paris
at that moment.
Another Queen in Want of Help.
Athos had not failed to send early to Aramis and had given
his letter to Blaisois, the only serving-man whom he had
left. Blaisois found Bazin donning his beadle's gown, his
services being required that day at Notre Dame.
Athos had desired Blaisois to try to speak to Aramis
himself. Blaisois, a tall, simple youth, who understood
nothing but what he was expressly told, asked, therefore for
the Abbe d'Herblay, and in spite of Bazin's assurances that
his master was not at home, he persisted in such a manner as
to put Bazin into a passion. Blaisois seeing Bazin in
clerical guise, was a little discomposed at his denials and
wanted to pass at all risks, believing too, that the man
with whom he had to do was endowed with the virtues of his
cloth, namely, patience and Christian charity.
But Bazin, still the servant of a musketeer, when once the
blood mounted to his fat cheeks, seized a broomstick and
began belaboring Blaisois, saying:
"You have insulted the church, my friend, you have insulted
At this moment Aramis, aroused by this unusual disturbance,
cautiously opened the door of his room; and Blaisois,
looking reproachfully at the Cerberus, drew the letter from
his pocket and presented it to Aramis.
"From the Comte de la Fere," said Aramis. "All right." And
he retired into his room without even asking the cause of so
Blaisois returned disconsolate to the Hotel of the Grand Roi
Charlemagne and when Athos inquired if his commission was
executed, he related his adventure.
"You foolish fellow!" said Athos, laughing. "And you did not
tell him that you came from me?"
At ten o'clock Athos, with his habitual exactitude, was
waiting on the Pont du Louvre and was almost immediately
joined by Lord de Winter.
They waited ten minutes and then his lordship began to fear
Aramis was not coming to join them.
"Patience," said Athos, whose eyes were fixed in the
direction of the Rue du Bac, "patience; I see an abbe
cuffing a man, then bowing to a woman; it must be Aramis."
It was indeed Aramis. Having run against a young shopkeeper
who was gaping at the crows and who had splashed him, Aramis
with one blow of his fist had distanced him ten paces.
At this moment one of his penitents passed, and as she was
young and pretty Aramis took off his cap to her with his
most gracious smile.
A most affectionate greeting, as one can well believe took
place between him and Lord de Winter.
"Where are we going?" inquired Aramis; "are we going to
fight, perchance? I carry no sword this morning and cannot
return home to procure one."
"No," said Lord de Winter, "we are going to pay a visit to
Her Majesty the Queen of England."
"Oh, very well," replied Aramis; then bending his face down
to Athos's ear, "what is the object of this visit?"
"Nay, I know not; some evidence required from us, perhaps."
"May it not be about that cursed affair?" asked Aramis, "in
which case I do not greatly care to go, for it will be to
pocket a lecture; and since it is my function to give them
to others I am rather averse to receiving them myself."
"If it were so," answered Athos, "we should not be taken
there by Lord de Winter, for he would come in for his share;
he was one of us."
"You're right; yes, let us go."
On arriving at the Louvre Lord de Winter entered first;
indeed, there was but one porter there to receive them at
It was impossible in daylight for the impoverished state of
the habitation grudging charity had conceded to an
unfortunate queen to pass unnoticed by Athos, Aramis, and
even the Englishman. Large rooms, completely stripped of
furniture, bare walls upon which, here and there, shone the
old gold moldings which had resisted time and neglect,
windows with broken panes (impossible to close), no carpets,
neither guards nor servants: this is what first met the eyes
of Athos, to which he, touching his companion's elbow,
directed his attention by his glances.
"Mazarin is better lodged," said Aramis.
"Mazarin is almost king," answered Athos; "Madame Henrietta
is almost no longer queen."
"If you would condescend to be clever, Athos," observed
Aramis, "I really do think you would be wittier than poor
Monsieur de Voiture."
The queen appeared to be impatiently expecting them, for at
the first slight noise she heard in the hall leading to her
room she came herself to the door to receive these courtiers
in the corridors of Misfortune.
"Enter. You are welcome, gentlemen," she said.
The gentlemen entered and remained standing, but at a motion
from the queen they seated themselves. Athos was calm and
grave, but Aramis was furious; the sight of such royal
misery exasperated him and his eyes examined every new trace
of poverty that presented itself.
"You are examining the luxury I enjoy," said the queen,
glancing sadly around her.
"Madame," replied Aramis, "I must ask your pardon, but I
know not how to hide my indignation at seeing how a daughter
of Henry IV. is treated at the court of France."
"Monsieur Aramis is not an officer?" asked the queen of Lord
"That gentleman is the Abbe d'Herblay," replied he.
Aramis blushed. "Madame," he said, "I am an abbe, it is
true, but I am so against my will. I never had a vocation
for the bands; my cassock is fastened by one button only,
and I am always ready to become a musketeer once more. This
morning, being ignorant that I should have the honor of
seeing your majesty, I encumbered myself with this dress,
but you will find me none the less a man devoted to your
majesty's service, in whatever way you may see fit to use
"The Abbe d'Herblay," resumed De Winter, "is one of those
gallant musketeers formerly belonging to His Majesty King
Louis XIII., of whom I have spoken to you, madame." Then
turning to Athos, he continued, "And this gentleman is that
noble Comte de la Fere, whose high reputation is so well
known to your majesty."
"Gentlemen," said the queen, "a few years ago I had around
me ushers, treasures, armies; and by the lifting of a finger
all these were busied in my service. To-day, look around
you, and it may astonish you, that in order to accomplish a
plan which is dearer to me than life I have only Lord de
Winter, the friend of twenty years, and you, gentlemen, whom
I see for the first time and whom I know but as my
"It is enough," said Athos, bowing low, "if the lives of
three men can purchase yours, madame."
"I thank you, gentlemen. But hear me," continued she. "I am
not only the most miserable of queens, but the most unhappy
of mothers, the most wretched of wives. My children, two of
them, at least, the Duke of York and the Princess Elizabeth,
are far away from me, exposed to the blows of the ambitious
and our foes; my husband, the king, is leading in England so
wretched an existence that it is no exaggeration to aver
that he seeks death as a thing to be desired. Hold!
gentlemen, here is the letter conveyed to me by Lord de
Winter. Read it."
Obeying the queen, Athos read aloud the letter which we have
already seen, in which King Charles demanded to know whether
the hospitality of France would be accorded him.
"Well?" asked Athos, when he had closed the letter.
"Well," said the queen, "it has been refused."
The two friends exchanged a smile of contempt.
"And now," said Athos, "what is to be done? I have the honor
to inquire from your majesty what you desire Monsieur
d'Herblay and myself to do in your service. We are ready."
"Ah, sir, you have a noble heart!" exclaimed the queen, with
a burst of gratitude; whilst Lord de Winter turned to her
with a glance which said, "Did I not answer for them?"
"But you, sir?" said the queen to Aramis.
"I, madame," replied he, "follow Monsieur de la Fere
wherever he leads, even were it on to death, without
demanding wherefore; but when it concerns your majesty's
service, then," added he, looking at the queen with all the
grace of former days, "I precede the count."
"Well, then, gentlemen," said the queen, "since it is thus,
and since you are willing to devote yourselves to the
service of a poor princess whom the whole world has
abandoned, this is what is required to be done for me. The
king is alone with a few gentlemen, whom he fears to lose
every day; surrounded by the Scotch, whom he distrusts,
although he be himself a Scotchman. Since Lord de Winter
left him I am distracted, sirs. I ask much, too much,
perhaps, for I have no title to request it. Go to England,
join the king, be his friends, protectors, march to battle
at his side, and be near him in his house, where
conspiracies, more dangerous than the perils of war, are
hatching every day. And in exchange for the sacrifice that
you make, gentlemen, I promise -- not to reward you, I
believe that word would offend you -- but to love you as a
sister, to prefer you, next to my husband and my children,
to every one. I swear it before Heaven."
And the queen raised her eyes solemnly upward.
"Madame," said Athos, "when must we set out?"
"You consent then?" exclaimed the queen, joyfully.
"Yes, madame; only it seems to me that your majesty goes too
far in engaging to load us with a friendship so far above
our merit. We render service to God, madame in serving a
prince so unfortunate, a queen so virtuous. Madame, we are
yours, body and soul."
"Oh, sirs," said the queen, moved even to tears, "this is
the first time for five years I have felt the least approach
to joy or hope. God, who can read my heart, all the
gratitude I feel, will reward you! Save my husband! Save the
king, and although you care not for the price that is placed
upon a good action in this world, leave me the hope that we
shall meet again, when I may be able to thank you myself. In
the meantime, I remain here. Have you anything to ask of me?
From this moment I become your friend, and since you are
engaged in my affairs I ought to occupy myself in yours."
"Madame," replied Athos, "I have only to ask your majesty's
"And I," said Aramis, "I am alone in the world and have only
your majesty to serve."
The queen held out her hand, which they kissed, and she said
in a low tone to De Winter:
"If you need money, my lord, separate the jewels I have
given you; detach the diamonds and sell them to some Jew.
You will receive for them fifty or sixty thousand francs;
spend them if necessary, but let these gentlemen be treated
as they deserve, that is to say, like kings."
The queen had two letters ready, one written by herself, the
other by her daughter, the Princess Henrietta. Both were
addressed to King Charles. She gave the first to Athos and
the other to Aramis, so that should they be separated by
chance they might make themselves known to the king; after
which they withdrew.
At the foot of the staircase De Winter stopped.
"Not to arouse suspicions, gentlemen," said he, "go your way
and I will go mine, and this evening at nine o'clock we will
assemble again at the Gate Saint Denis. We will travel on
horseback as far as our horses can go and afterward we can
take the post. Once more, let me thank you, my good friends,
both in my own name and the queen's."
The three gentlemen then shook hands, Lord de Winter taking
the Rue Saint Honore, and Athos and Aramis remaining
"Well," said Aramis, when they were alone, "what do you
think of this business, my dear count?"
"Bad," replied Athos, "very bad."
"But you received it with enthusiasm."
"As I shall ever receive the defense of a great principle,
my dear D'Herblay. Monarchs are only strong by the
assistance of the aristocracy, but aristocracy cannot
survive without the countenance of monarchs. Let us, then,
support monarchy, in order to support ourselves.
"We shall be murdered there," said Aramis. "I hate the
English -- they are coarse, like every nation that swills
"Would it be better to remain here," said Athos, "and take a
turn in the Bastile or the dungeon of Vincennes for having
favored the escape of Monsieur de Beaufort? I'faith, Aramis,
believe me, there is little left to regret. We avoid
imprisonment and we play the part of heroes; the choice is
"It is true; but in everything, friend, one must always
return to the same question -- a stupid one, I admit, but
very necessary -- have you any money?"
"Something like a hundred pistoles, that my farmer sent to
me the day before I left Bragelonne; but out of that sum I
ought to leave fifty for Raoul -- a young man must live
respectably. I have then about fifty pistoles. And you?"
"As for me, I am quite sure that after turning out all my
pockets and emptying my drawers I shall not find ten louis
at home. Fortunately Lord de Winter is rich."
"Lord de Winter is ruined for the moment; Oliver Cromwell
has annexed his income resources."
"Now is the time when Baron Porthos would be useful."
"Now it is that I regret D'Artagnan."
"Let us entice them away."
"This secret, Aramis, does not belong to us; take my advice,
then, and let no one into our confidence. And moreover, in
taking such a step we should appear to be doubtful of
ourselves. Let us regret their absence to ourselves for our
own sakes, but not speak of it."
"You are right; but what are you going to do until this
evening? I have two things to postpone."
"And what are they?"
"First, a thrust with the coadjutor, whom I met last night
at Madame de Rambouillet's and whom I found particular in
his remarks respecting me."
"Oh, fie -- a quarrel between priests, a duel between
"What can I do, friend? he is a bully and so am I; his
cassock is a burden to him and I imagine I have had enough
of mine; in fact, there is so much resemblance between us
that I sometimes believe he is Aramis and I am the
coadjutor. This kind of life fatigues and oppresses me;
besides, he is a turbulent fellow, who will ruin our party.
I am convinced that if I gave him a box on the ear, such as
I gave this morning to the little citizen who splashed me,
it would change the appearance of things."
"And I, my dear Aramis," quietly replied Athos, "I think it
would only change Monsieur de Retz's appearance. Take my
advice, leave things just as they are; besides, you are
neither of you now your own masters; he belongs to the
Fronde and you to the queen of England. So, if the second
matter which you regret being unable to attend to is not
more important than the first ---- "
"Oh! that is of the first importance."
"Attend to it, then, at once."
"Unfortunately, it is a thing that I can't perform at any
time I choose. It was arranged for the evening and no other
time will serve."
"I understand," said Athos smiling, "midnight."
"About that time."
"But, my dear fellow, those are things that bear
postponement and you must put it off, especially with so
good an excuse to give on your return ---- "
"Yes, if I return."
"If you do not return, how does it concern you? Be
reasonable. Come, you are no longer twenty years old."
"To my great regret, mordieu! Ah, if I were but twenty years
"Yes," said Athos, "doubtless you would commit great
follies! But now we must part. I have one or two visits to
make and a letter yet to write. Call for me at eight o'clock
or shall I wait supper for you at seven?"
"That will do very well," said Aramis. "I have twenty visits
to make and as many letters to write."
They then separated. Athos went to pay a visit to Madame de
Vendome, left his name at Madame de Chevreuse's and wrote
the following letter to D'Artagnan:
"Dear Friend, -- I am about to set off with Aramis on
important business. I wished to make my adieux to you, but
time does not permit. Remember that I write to you now to
repeat how much affection for you I still cherish.
"Raoul is gone to Blois and is ignorant of my departure;
watch over him in my absence as much as you possibly can;
and if by chance you receive no news of me three months
hence, tell him to open a packet which he will find
addressed to him in my bronze casket at Blois, of which I
send you now the key.
"Embrace Porthos from Aramis and myself. Adieu, perhaps
At the hour agreed upon Aramis arrived; he was dressed as an
officer and had the old sword at his side which he had drawn
so often and which he was more than ever ready to draw.
"By-the-bye," he said, "I think that we are decidedly wrong
to depart thus, without leaving a line for Porthos and
"The thing is done, dear friend," said Athos; "I foresaw
that and have embraced them both from you and myself."
"You are a wonderful man, my dear count," said Aramis; "you
think of everything."
"Well, have you made up your mind to this journey?"
"Quite; and now that I reflect about it, I am glad to leave
Paris at this moment."
"And so am I," replied Athos; "my only regret is not having
seen D'Artagnan; but the rascal is so cunning, he might have
guessed our project."
When supper was over Blaisois entered. "Sir," said he, "here
is Monsieur d'Artagnan's answer."
"But I did not tell you there would be an answer, stupid!"
"And I set off without waiting for one, but he called me
back and gave me this;" and he presented a little leather
bag, plump and giving out a golden jingle.
Athos opened it and began by drawing forth a little note,
written in these terms:
"My dear Count, -- When one travels, and especially for
three months, one never has a superfluity of money. Now,
recalling former times of mutual distress, I send you half
my purse; it is money to obtain which I made Mazarin sweat.
Don't make a bad use of it, I entreat you.
"As to what you say about not seeing you again, I believe
not a word of it; with such a heart as yours -- and such a
sword -- one passes through the valley of the shadow of
death a dozen times, unscathed and unalarmed. Au revoir, not
"It is unnecessary to say that from the day I saw Raoul I
loved him; nevertheless, believe that I heartily pray that I
may not become to him a father, however much I might be
proud of such a son.
"P.S. -- Be it well understood that the fifty louis which I
send are equally for Aramis as for you -- for you as
Athos smiled, and his fine eye was dimmed by a tear.
D'Artagnan, who had loved him so tenderly, loved him still,
although a Mazarinist.
"There are the fifty louis, i'faith," said Aramis, emptying
the purse on the table, all bearing the effigy of Louis
XIII. "Well, what shall you do with this money, count? Shall
you keep it or send it back?"
"I shall keep it, Aramis, and even though I had no need of
it I still should keep it. What is offered from a generous
heart should be accepted generously. Take twenty-five of
them, Aramis, and give me the remaining twenty-five."
"All right; I am glad to see you are of my opinion. There
now, shall we start?"
"When you like; but have you no groom?"