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united, with shouts of delirious joy, the five hundred thousand inhabitants of the good city of London. At length, at the moment when the people, after their triumphs and festive repasts in the open streets, were looking about for a master, it was affirmed that a vessel had left the Hague, bearing Charles II. and his fortunes.

“Gentlemen,” said Monk to his officers, “I am going to meet the legitimate king. He who loves me will follow me.” A burst of acclamations welcomed these words, which D’Artagnan did not hear without the greatest delight.

“Mordioux!” said he to Monk, “that is bold, monsieur.”

“You will accompany me, will you not?” said Monk.

“Pardieu! general. But tell me, I beg, what you wrote by Athos, that is to say, the Comte de la Fere — you know — the day of our arrival?”

“I have no secrets from you now,” replied Monk. “I wrote these words: `Sire, I expect your majesty in six weeks at Dover.'”

“Ah!” said D’Artagnan, “I no longer say it is bold; I say it is well played; it is a fine stroke!”

“You are something of a judge in such matters,” replied Monk.

And this was the only time the general had ever made an allusion to his voyage to Holland.

CHAPTER 32

Athos and D’Artagnan meet once more at the Hostelry of the Corne du Cerf

The king of England made his entree into Dover with great pomp, as he afterwards did in London. He had sent for his brothers; he had brought over his mother and sister. England had been for so long a time given up to herself — that is to say, to tyranny, mediocrity, and nonsense — that this return of Charles II., whom the English only knew as the son of the man whose head they had cut off, was a festival for the three kingdoms. Consequently, all the good wishes, all the acclamations which accompanied his return, struck the young king so forcibly that he stooped and whispered in the ear of James of York, his younger brother, “In truth, James, it seems to have been our own fault that we were so long absent from a country where we are so much beloved!” The pageant was magnificent. Beautiful weather favored the solemnity. Charles had regained all his youth, all his good humor; he appeared to be transfigured; hearts seemed to smile on him like the sun. Amongst this noisy crowd of courtiers and worshippers, who did not appear to remember they had conducted to the scaffold at Whitehall the father of the new king, a man, in the garb of a lieutenant of musketeers, looked, with a smile upon his thin, intellectual lips, sometimes at the people vociferating their blessings, and sometimes at the prince, who pretended emotion, and who bowed most particularly to the women, whose bouquets fell beneath his horse’s feet.

“What a fine trade is that of king!” said this man, so completely absorbed in contemplation that he stopped in the middle of his road, leaving the cortege to file past. “Now, there is, in good truth, a prince all bespangled over with gold and diamonds, enamelled with flowers like a spring meadow; he is about to plunge his empty hands into the immense coffer in which his now faithful — but so lately unfaithful — subjects have amassed one or two cartloads of ingots of gold. They cast bouquets enough upon him to smother him; and yet, if he had presented himself to them two months ago, they would have sent as many bullets and balls at him as they now throw flowers. Decidedly it is worth something to be born in a certain sphere, with due respect to the lowly, who pretend that it is of very little advantage to them to be born lowly.” The cortege continued to file on, and, with the king, the acclamations began to die away in the direction of the palace which, however, did not prevent our officer from being pushed about.

“Mordioux!” continued the reasoner, “these people tread upon my toes and look upon me as of very little consequence, or rather of none at all, seeing that they are Englishmen and I am a Frenchman. If all these people were asked, — `Who is M. d’Artagnan?’ they would reply, `Nescio vos.’ But let any one say to them, `There is the king going by,’ `There is M. Monk going by,’ they would run away, shouting, — `Vive le roi!’ `Vive M. Monk!’ till their lungs were exhausted. And yet,” continued he, surveying, with that look sometimes so keen and sometimes so proud, the diminishing crowd, — “and yet, reflect a little, my good people, on what your king has done, on what M. Monk has done, and then think what has been done by this poor unknown, who is called M. d’Artagnan! It is true you do not know him, since he is here unknown, and that prevents your thinking about the matter! But, bah! what matters it! All that does not prevent Charles II. from being a great king, although he has been exiled twelve years, or M. Monk from being a great captain, although he did make a voyage to Holland in a box. Well, then, since it is admitted that one is a great king and the other a great captain, — `Hurrah for King Charles II.! — Hurrah for General Monk!'” And his voice mingled with the voices of the hundreds of spectators, over which it sounded for a moment. Then, the better to play the devoted man, he took off his hat and waved it in the air. Some one seized his arm in the very height of his expansive royalism. (In 1660 that was so termed which we now call royalism.)

“Athos!” cried D’Artagnan, “you here!” And the two friends seized each other’s hands.

“You here! — and being here,” continued the musketeer, “you are not in the midst of all these courtiers my dear comte! What! you, the hero of the fete, you are not prancing on the left hand of the king, as M. Monk is prancing on the right? In truth, I cannot comprehend your character, nor that of the prince who owes you so much!”

“Always scornful, my dear D’Artagnan!” said Athos. “Will you never correct yourself of that vile habit?”

“But, you do not form part of the pageant?”

“I do not, because I was not willing to do so.”

“And why were you not willing?”

“Because I am neither envoy nor ambassador, nor representative of the king of France; and it does not become me to exhibit myself thus near the person of another king than the one God has given me for a master.”

“Mordioux! you came very near to the person of the king, his father.”

“That was another thing, my friend; he was about to die.”

“And yet that which you did for him —- “

“I did it because it was my duty to do it. But you know I hate all ostentation. Let King Charles II., then, who no longer stands in need of me, leave me to my rest, and in the shadow; that is all I claim of him.”

D’Artagnan sighed.

“What is the matter with you?” said Athos. “One would say that this happy return of the king to London saddens you, my friend; you who have done at least as much for his majesty as I have.”

“Have I not,” replied D’Artagnan, with his Gascon laugh, “have I not done much for his majesty, without any one suspecting it?”

“Yes, yes, but the king is well aware of it my friend,” cried Athos.

“He is aware of it!” said the musketeer bitterly. “By my faith! I did not suspect so, and I was even a moment ago trying to forget it myself.”

“But he, my friend, will not forget it, I will answer for him.”

“You tell me that to console me a little, Athos.”

“For what?”

“Mordioux! for all the expense I incurred. I have ruined myself, my friend, ruined myself for the restoration of this young prince who has just passed, cantering on his isabelle colored horse.”

“The king does not know you have ruined yourself, my friend, but he knows he owes you much.”

“And say, Athos, does that advance me in any respect? for, to do you justice, you have labored nobly. But I — I, who in appearance marred your combinations, it was I who really made them succeed. Follow my calculations; closely, you might not have, by persuasions or mildness convinced General Monk, whilst I so roughly treated this dear general, that I furnished your prince with an opportunity of showing himself generous: this generosity was inspired in him by the fact of my fortunate mistake, and Charles is paid by the restoration which Monk has brought about.”

“All that, my dear friend, is strikingly true,” replied Athos.

“Well, strikingly true as it may be, it is not less true, my friend, that I shall return — greatly beloved by M. Monk, who calls me dear captain all day long, although I am neither dear to him nor a captain; — and much appreciated by the king, who has already forgotten my name; — it is not less true, I say, that I shall return to my beautiful country, cursed by the soldiers I had raised with the hopes of large pay, cursed by the brave Planchet, of whom I borrowed a part of his fortune.”

“How is that? What the devil had Planchet to do in all this?”

“Ah, yes, my friend, but this king, so spruce, so smiling, so adored, M. Monk fancies he has recalled him, you fancy you have supported him, I fancy I have brought him back, the people fancy they have reconquered him, he himself fancies he has negotiated his restoration; and yet nothing of all this is true, for Charles II., king of England, Scotland, and Ireland, has been replaced upon the throne by a French grocer, who lives in the Rue des Lombards, and is named Planchet. And such is grandeur! `Vanity!’ says the Scripture: `vanity, all is vanity.'”

Athos could not help laughing at this whimsical outbreak of his friend.

“My dear D’Artagnan,” said he, pressing his hand affectionately, “should you not exercise a little more philosophy? Is it not some further satisfaction to you to have saved my life as you did by arriving so fortunately with Monk, when those damned parliamentarians wanted to burn me alive?”

“Well, but you, in some degree, deserved a little burning, my friend.”

“How so? What, for having saved King Charles’s million?”

“What million?”

“Ah, that is true! you never knew that, my friend; but you must not be angry, for it was not my secret. That word `Remember’ which the king pronounced upon the scaffold.”

“And which means `souviens-toi!'”

“Exactly. That was signified. `Remember there is a million buried in the vaults of Newcastle Abbey, and that that million belongs to my son.'”

“Ah! very well, I understand. But what I understand likewise, and what is very frightful, is, that every time his majesty Charles II. will think of me, he will say to himself: `There is the man who came very near making me lose my crown. Fortunately I was generous, great, full of presence of mind.’ That will be said by the young gentleman in a shabby black doublet, who came to the chateau of Blois, hat in hand, to ask me if I would give him access to the king of France.”

“D’Artagnan! D’Artagnan!” said Athos, laying his hand on the shoulder of the musketeer, “you are unjust.”

“I have a right to be so.”

“No — for you are ignorant of the future.”

D’Artagnan looked his friend full in the face, and began to laugh. “In truth, my dear Athos,” said he, “you have some sayings so superb, that they only belong to you and M. le Cardinal Mazarin.”

Athos frowned slightly.

“I beg your pardon,” continued D’Artagnan, laughing, “I beg your pardon, if I have offended you. The future! Nein! what pretty words are words that promise, and how well they fill the mouth in default of other things! Mordioux! After having met with so many who promised, when shall I find one who will give? But, let that pass!” continued D’Artagnan. “What are you doing here, my dear Athos? Are you the king’s treasurer?”

“How — why the king’s treasurer?”

“Well, since the king possesses a million, he must want a treasurer. The king of France, although he is not worth a sou, has still a superintendent of finance, M. Fouquet. It is true that, in exchange, M. Fouquet, they say, has a good number of millions of his own.”

“Oh! our million was spent long ago,” said Athos, laughing in his turn.

“I understand, it was frittered away in satin, precious stones, velvet, and feathers of all sorts and colors. All these princes and princesses stood in great need of tailors and dressmakers. Eh! Athos, do you remember what we fellows spent in equipping ourselves for the campaign of La Rochelle, and to make our appearance on horseback? Two or three thousand livres, by my faith! But a king’s robe is more ample; it would require a million to purchase the stuff. At least, Athos, if you are not treasurer, you are on a good footing at court.”

“By the faith of a gentleman, I know nothing about it,” said Athos, simply.

“What! you know nothing about it?”

“No! I have not seen the king since we left Dover.”

“Then he has forgotten you, too! Mordioux! That is shameful!”

“His majesty has had so much business to transact.”

“Oh!” cried D’Artagnan, with one of those intelligent grimaces which he alone knew how to make, “that is enough to make me recover my love for Monseigneur Giulio Mazarini. What, Athos the king has not seen you since then?”

“No.”

“And you are not furious?”

“I! Why should I be? Do you imagine, my dear D’Artagnan, that it was on the king’s account I acted as I have done? I did not know the young man. I defended the father, who represented a principle — sacred in my eyes, and I allowed myself to be drawn towards the son from sympathy for this same principle. Besides, he was a worthy knight, a noble creature, that father: do you remember him?”

“Yes; that is true; he was a brave, an excellent man, who led a sad life, but made a fine end.”

“Well, my dear D’Artagnan, understand this; to that king, to that man of heart, to that friend of my thoughts, if I durst venture to say so, I swore at the last hour to preserve faithfully the secret of a deposit which was to be transmitted to his son, to assist him in his hour of need. This young man came to me; he described his destitution; he was ignorant that he was anything to me save a living memory of his father. I have accomplished towards Charles II. what I promised Charles I.; that is all! Of what consequence is it to me, then, whether he be grateful or not? It is to myself I have rendered a service, by relieving myself of this responsibility, and not to him.”

“Well, I have always said,” replied D’Artagnan, with a sigh, “that disinterestedness was the finest thing in the world.”

“Well, and you, my friend,” resumed Athos, “are you not in the same situation as myself? If I have properly understood your words, you allowed yourself to be affected by the misfortunes of this young man; that, on your part, was much greater than it was upon mine, for I had a duty to fulfill, whilst you were under no obligation to the son of the martyr. You had not, on your part, to pay him the price of that precious drop of blood which he let fall upon my brow, through the floor of his scaffold. That which made you act was heart alone — the noble and good heart which you possess beneath your apparent skepticism and sarcastic irony; you have engaged the fortune of a servitor, and your own, I suspect, my benevolent miser! and your sacrifice is not acknowledged! Of what consequence is it? You wish to repay Planchet his money. I can comprehend that, my friend: for it is not becoming in a gentleman to borrow from his inferior, without returning to him principal and interest. Well, I will sell La Fere if necessary, and if not, some little farm. You shall pay Planchet, and there will be enough, believe me, of corn left in my granaries for us two and Raoul. In this way, my friend, you will be under obligations to nobody but yourself, and, if I know you well, it will not be a small satisfaction to your mind to be able to say, `I have made a king!’ Am I right?”

“Athos! Athos!” murmured D’Artagnan, thoughtfully, “I have told you more than once that the day on which you will preach I shall attend the sermon; the day on which you will tell me there is a hell — Mordioux! I shall be afraid of the gridiron and the pitchforks. You are better than I, or rather, better than anybody, and I only acknowledge the possession of one quality, and that is, of not being jealous. Except that defect, damme, as the English say, if I have not all the rest.”

“I know no one equal to D’Artagnan,” replied Athos; “but here we are, having quietly reached the house I inhabit. Will you come in, my friend?”

“Eh! why, this is the tavern of the Corne du Cerf, I think,” said D’Artagnan.

“I confess I chose it on purpose. I like old acquaintances; I like to sit down on that place, whereon I sank, overcome by fatigue, overwhelmed with despair, when you returned on the 31st of January.”

“After having discovered the abode of the masked executioner? Yes, that was a terrible day!”

“Come in, then,” said Athos, interrupting him.

They entered the large apartment, formerly the common one. The tavern, in general, and this room in particular, had undergone great changes; the ancient host of the musketeers, having become tolerably rich for an innkeeper, had closed his shop, and made of this room of which we were speaking, a store-room for colonial provisions. As for the rest of the house, he let it ready furnished to strangers. It was with unspeakable emotion D’Artagnan recognized all the furniture of the chamber of the first story; the wainscoting, the tapestries, and even that geographical chart which Porthos had so fondly studied in his moments of leisure.

“It is eleven years ago,” cried D’Artagnan. “Mordioux! it appears to me a century!”

“And to me but a day,” said Athos. “Imagine the joy I experience, my friend, in seeing you there, in pressing your hand, in casting from me sword and dagger, and tasting without mistrust this glass of sherry. And, oh! what still further joy it would be, if our two friends were there, at the two corners of the tables, and Raoul, my beloved Raoul, on the threshold, looking at us with his large eyes, at once so brilliant and so soft!”

“Yes, yes,” said D’Artagnan, much affected, “that is true. I approve particularly of the first part of your thought; it is very pleasant to smile there where we have so legitimately shuddered in thinking that from one moment to another M. Mordaunt might appear upon the landing.”

At this moment the door opened, and D’Artagnan, brave as he was, could not restrain a slight movement of fright. Athos understood him, and, smiling, —

“It is our host,” said he, “bringing me a letter.”

“Yes, my lord,” said the good man; “here is a letter for your honor.”

“Thank you,” said Athos, taking the letter without looking at it. “Tell me, my dear host, if you do not remember this gentleman?”

The old man raised his head, and looked attentively at D’Artagnan.

“No,” said he.

“It is,” said Athos, “one of those friends of whom I have spoken to you, and who lodged here with me eleven years ago.”

“Oh! but,” said the old man, “so many strangers have lodged here!”

“But we lodged here on the 30th of January, 1649,” added Athos, believing he should stimulate the lazy memory of the host by this remark.

“That is very possible,” replied he, smiling; “but it is so long ago!” and he bowed, and went out.

“Thank you,” said D’Artagnan — “perform exploits, accomplish revolutions, endeavor to engrave your name in stone or bronze with strong swords! there is something more rebellious, more hard, more forgetful than iron, bronze, or stone, and that is, the brain of a lodging-house keeper who has grown rich in the trade, — he does not know me! Well, I should have known him, though.”

Athos, smiling at his friend’s philosophy, unsealed his letter.

“Ah!” said he, “a letter from Parry.”

“Oh! oh!” said D’Artagnan; “read it, my friend, read it! No doubt it contains news.”

Athos shook his head, and read:

Monsieur le Comte. — The king has experienced much regret at not seeing you to-day beside him, at his entrance. His majesty commands me to say so, and to recall him to your memory. His majesty will expect you this evening, at the palace of St. James, between nine and ten o’clock.

“I am, respectfully, monsieur le comte, your honor’s very humble and very obedient servant, — Parry.”

“You see, my dear D’Artagnan,” said Athos, “we must not despair of the hearts of kings.”

“Not despair! you are right to say so!” replied D’Artagnan.

“Oh! my dear, very dear friend,” resumed Athos, whom the almost imperceptible bitterness of D’Artagnan had not escaped. “Pardon me! can I have unintentionally wounded my best comrade?”

“You are mad, Athos, and to prove it, I shall conduct you to the palace; to the very gate, I mean; the walk will do me good.”

“You shall go in with me, my friend; I will speak to his majesty.”

“No, no!” replied D’Artagnan, with true pride, free from all mixture; “if there is anything worse than begging yourself, it is making others beg for you. Come, let us go, my friend, the walk will be charming; on the way I shall show you the house of M. Monk, who has detained me with him. A beautiful house, by my faith. Being a general in England is better than being a marechal in France, please to know.”

Athos allowed himself to be led along, quite saddened by D’Artagnan’s forced attempts at gayety. The whole city was in a state of joy; the two friends were jostled at every moment by enthusiasts who required them, in their intoxication, to cry out, “Long live good King Charles!” D’Artagnan replied by a grunt, and Athos by a smile. They arrived thus in front of Monk’s house, before which, as we have said, they had to pass on their way to St. James’s.

Athos and D’Artagnan said but little on the road, for the simple reason that they would have had so many things to talk about if they had spoken. Athos thought that by speaking he should evince satisfaction, and that might wound D’Artagnan. The latter feared that in speaking he should allow some little bitterness to steal into his words which would render his company unpleasant to his friend. It was a singular emulation of silence between contentment and ill-humor. D’Artagnan gave way first to that itching at the tip of his tongue which he so habitually experienced.

“Do you remember, Athos,” said he, “the passage of the `Memoires de D’Aubigny,’ in which that devoted servant, a Gascon like myself, poor as myself, and, I was going to add, brave as myself, relates instances of the meanness of Henry IV.? My father always told me, I remember, that D’Aubigny was a liar. But, nevertheless, examine how all the princes, the issue of the great Henry, keep up the character of the race.”

“Nonsense!” said Athos, “the kings of France misers? You are mad, my friend.”

“Oh! you are so perfect yourself, you never agree to the faults of others. But, in reality, Henry IV. was covetous, Louis XIII., his son, was so likewise; we know something of that, don’t we? Gaston carried this vice to exaggeration, and has made himself, in this respect, hated by all who surround him. Henriette, poor woman, might well be avaricious, she who did not eat every day, and could not warm herself every winter; and that is an example she has given to her son Charles II., grandson of the great Henry IV., who is as covetous as his mother and his grandfather. See if I have well traced the genealogy of the misers?”

“D’Artagnan, my friend,” cried Athos, “you are very rude towards that eagle race called the Bourbons.”

“Eh! and I have forgotten the best instance of all — the other grandson of the Bearnais, Louis XIV., my ex-master. Well, I hope he is miserly enough, he who would not lend a million to his brother Charles! Good! I see you are beginning to be angry. Here we are, by good luck, close to my house, or rather to that of my friend, M. Monk.”

“My dear D’Artagnan, you do not make me angry, you make me sad; it is cruel, in fact, to see a man of your deserts out of the position his services ought to have acquired; it appears to me, my dear friend, that your name is as radiant as the greatest names in war and diplomacy. Tell me if the Luynes, the Ballegardes, and the Bassompierres have merited, as we have, fortunes and honors? You are right, my friend, a hundred times right.”

D’Artagnan sighed, and preceded his friend under the porch of the mansion Monk inhabited, at the extremity of the city. “Permit me,” said he, “to leave my purse at home; for if in the crowd those clever pickpockets of London, who are much boasted of, even in Paris, were to steal from me the remainder of my poor crowns, I should not be able to return to France. Now, content I left France, and wild with joy I should return to it, seeing that all my prejudices of former days against England have returned, accompanied by many others.”

Athos made no reply.

“So then, my dear friend, one second, and I will follow you,” said D’Artagnan. “I know you are in a hurry to go yonder to receive your reward, but, believe me, I am not less eager to partake of your joy, although from a distance. Wait for me.” And D’Artagnan was already passing through the vestibule, when a man, half servant, half soldier, who filled in Monk’s establishment the double functions of porter and guard, stopped our musketeer, saying to him in English:

“I beg your pardon, my Lord d’Artagnan!”

“Well,” replied the latter: “what is it? Is the general going to dismiss me? I only needed to be expelled by him.”

These words, spoken in French, made no impression upon the person to whom they were addressed and who himself only spoke an English mixed with the rudest Scotch. But Athos was grieved at them, for he began to think D’Artagnan was not wrong.

The Englishman showed D’Artagnan a letter: “From the general,” said he.

“Aye! that’s it, my dismissal!” replied the Gascon. “Must I read it, Athos?”

“You must be deceived,” said Athos, “or I know no more honest people in the world but you and myself.”

D’Artagnan shrugged his shoulders and unsealed the letter, while the impassible Englishman held for him a large lantern, by the light of which he was enabled to read it.

“Well, what is the matter?” said Athos, seeing the countenance of the reader change.

“Read it yourself,” said the musketeer.

Athos took the paper and read:

Monsieur d’Artagnan. — The king regrets very much you did not come to St. Paul’s with his cortege. He missed you, as I also have missed you, my dear captain. There is but one means of repairing all this. His majesty expects me at nine o’clock at the palace of St. James’s: will you be there at the same time with me? His gracious majesty appoints that hour for an audience he grants you.”

This letter was from Monk.

CHAPTER 33

The Audience.

“Well?” cried Athos with a mild look of reproach when D’Artagnan had read the letter addressed to him by Monk.

“Well!” said D’Artagnan, red with pleasure, and a little with shame, at having so hastily accused the king and Monk. “This is a politeness, — which leads to nothing, it is true, but yet it is a politeness.”

“I had great difficulty in believing the young prince ungrateful,” said Athos.

“The fact is, that his present is still too near his past,” replied D’Artagnan; “after all, everything to the present moment proved me right.”

“I acknowledge it, my dear friend, I acknowledge it. Ah! there is your cheerful look returned. You cannot think how delighted I am.”

“Thus you see,” said D’Artagnan, “Charles II. receives M. Monk at nine o’clock; he will receive me at ten; it is a grand audience, of the sort which at the Louvre are called `distributions of court holy water.’ Come, let us go and place ourselves under the spout, my dear friend! Come along.”

Athos replied nothing; and both directed their steps, at a quick pace, towards the palace of St. James’s, which the crowd still surrounded, to catch, through the windows, the shadows of the courtiers, and the reflection of the royal person. Eight o’clock was striking when the two friends took their places in the gallery filled with courtiers and politicians. Every one looked at these simply-dressed men in foreign costumes, at these two noble heads so full of character and meaning. On their side, Athos and D’Artagnan, having with two glances taken the measure of the whole assembly, resumed their chat.

A great noise was suddenly heard at the extremity of the gallery, — it was General Monk, who entered, followed by more than twenty officers, all eager for a smile, as only the evening before he was master of all England, and a glorious morrow was looked to, for the restorer of the Stuart family.

“Gentlemen,” said Monk, turning round, “henceforward I beg you to remember that I am no longer anything. Lately I commanded the principal army of the republic; now that army is the king’s, into whose hands I am about to surrender, at his command, my power of yesterday.”

Great surprise was painted on all the countenances, and the circle of adulators and suppliants which surrounded Monk an instant before, was enlarged by degrees, and ended by being lost in the large undulations of the crowd. Monk was going into the ante-chamber as others did. D’Artagnan could not help remarking this to the Comte de la Fere, who frowned on beholding it. Suddenly the door of the royal apartment opened, and the young king appeared, preceded by two officers of his household.

“Good evening, gentlemen,” said he. “Is General Monk here?”

“I am here, sire,” replied the old general.

Charles stepped hastily towards him, and seized his hand with the warmest demonstration of friendship. “General,” said the king, aloud, “I have just signed your patent, — you are Duke of Albemarle; and my intention is that no one shall equal you in power and fortune in this kingdom, where — the noble Montrose excepted — no one has equaled you in loyalty, courage, and talent. Gentlemen, the duke is commander of our armies of land and sea; pay him your respects, if you please, in that character.”

Whilst every one was pressing round the general, who received all this homage without losing his impassibility for an instant, D’Artagnan said to Athos: “When one thinks that this duchy, this commander of the land and sea forces, all these grandeurs, in a word, have been shut up in a box six feet long and three feet wide —- “

“My friend,” replied Athos, “much more imposing grandeurs are confined in boxes still smaller, — and remain there forever.”

All at once Monk perceived the two gentlemen, who held themselves aside until the crowd had diminished; he made himself a passage towards them, so that he surprised them in the midst of their philosophical reflections. “Were you speaking of me?” said he, with a smile.

“My lord,” replied Athos, “we were speaking likewise of God.”

Monk reflected for a moment, and then replied gayly: “Gentlemen, let us speak a little of the king likewise, if you please; for you have, I believe, an audience of his majesty.”

“At nine o’clock,” said Athos.

“At ten o’clock,” said D’Artagnan.

“Let us go into this closet at once,” replied Monk, making a sign to his two companions to precede him; but to that neither would consent.

The king, during this discussion so characteristic of the French, had returned to the center of the gallery.

“Oh! my Frenchmen!” said he, in that tone of careless gayety which, in spite of so much grief and so many crosses, he had never lost. “My Frenchmen! my consolation!” Athos and D’Artagnan bowed.

“Duke, conduct these gentlemen into my study. I am at your service, messieurs,” added he in French. And he promptly expedited his court, to return to his Frenchmen, as he called them. “Monsieur d’Artagnan,” said he, as he entered his closet, “I am glad to see you again.”

“Sire, my joy is at its height, at having the honor to salute your majesty in your own palace of St. James’s.”

“Monsieur, you have been willing to render me a great service, and I owe you my gratitude for it. If I did not fear to intrude upon the rights of our commanding general, I would offer you some post worthy of you near our person.”

“Sire,” replied D’Artagnan, “I have quitted the service of the king of France, making a promise to my prince not to serve any other king.”

“Humph!” said Charles, “I am sorry to hear that; I should like to do much for you; I like you very much.”

“Sire —- “

“But let us see,” said Charles with a smile, “if we cannot make you break your word. Duke, assist me. If you were offered, that is to say, if I offered you the chief command of my musketeers?” D’Artagnan bowed lower than before.

“I should have the regret to refuse what your gracious majesty would offer me,” said he; “a gentleman has but his word, and that word, as I have had the honor to tell your majesty, is engaged to the king of France.”

“We shall say no more about it, then,” said the king, turning towards Athos, and leaving D’Artagnan plunged in the deepest pangs of disappointment.

“Ah! I said so!” muttered the musketeer. “Words! words! Court holy water! Kings have always a marvellous talent for offering us that which they know we will not accept, and in appearing generous without risk. So be it! — triple fool that I was to have hoped for a moment!”

During this time Charles took the hand of Athos. “Comte,” said he, “you have been to me a second father; the services you have rendered me are above all price. I have, nevertheless, thought of a recompense. You were created by my father a Knight of the Garter —that is an order which all the kings of Europe cannot bear; by the queen regent, Knight of the Holy Ghost — which is an order not less illustrious; I join to it that of the Golden Fleece sent me by the king of France, to whom the king of Spain, his father-in-law, gave two on the occasion of his marriage; but in return, I have a service to ask of you.”

“Sire,” said Athos. with confusion, “the Golden Fleece for me! when the king of France is the only person in my country who enjoys that distinction?”

I wish you to be in your country and all others the equal of all those whom sovereigns have honored with their favor,” said Charles, drawing the chain from his neck; “and I am sure, comte, my father smiles on me from his grave.”

“It is unaccountably strange,” said D’Artagnan to himself, whilst his friend, on his knees, received the eminent order which the king conferred on him — “it is almost incredible that I have always seen showers of prosperity fall upon all who surrounded me, and that not a drop ever reached me! If I were a jealous man it would be enough to make one tear one’s hair, parole d’honneur!”

Athos rose from his knees, and Charles embraced him tenderly. “General!” said he to Monk — then stopping with a smile, “pardon me, duke, I mean. No wonder if I make a mistake; the word duke is too short for me, I always seek some title to lengthen it. I should wish to see you so near my throne, that I might say to you as to Louis XIV., my brother! Oh! I have it, and you will be almost my brother, for I make you viceroy of Ireland and of Scotland. my dear duke. So, after that fashion, henceforward I shall not make a mistake.”

The duke seized the hand of the king, but without enthusiasm, without joy, as he did everything. His heart, however, had been moved by this last favor. Charles, by skillfully husbanding his generosity, had given the duke time to wish, although he might not have wished for so much as was given him.

“Mordioux!” grumbled D’Artagnan, “there is the shower beginning again! Oh! it is enough to turn one’s brain!” and he turned away with an air so sorrowful and so comically piteous, that the king, who caught it, could not restrain a smile. Monk was preparing to leave the room, to take leave of Charles.

“What! my trusty and well-beloved!” said the king to the duke, “are you going?”

“With your majesty’s permission, for in truth I am weary. The emotions of the day have worn me out; I stand in need of rest.”

“But,” said the king, “you are not going without M. d’Artagnan, I hope.”

“Why not, sire?” said the old warrior.

“Well! you know very well why,” said the king.

Monk looked at Charles with astonishment.

“Oh! it may be possible; but if you forget, you, M. d’Artagnan, do not.”

Astonishment was painted on the face of the musketeer.

“Well, then, duke,” said the king, “do you not lodge with M. d’Artagnan?”

“I had the honor of offering M. d’Artagnan a lodging; yes, sire.”

“That idea is your own, and yours solely?”

“Mine and mine only; yes, sire.”

“Well! but it could not be otherwise — the prisoner always lodges with his conqueror.”

Monk colored in his turn. “Ah! that is true,” said he, “I am M. d’Artagnan’s prisoner.”

“Without doubt, duke, since you are not yet ransomed, but have no care of that; it was I who took you out of M. d’Artagnan’s hands, and it is I who will pay your ransom.”

The eyes of D’Artagnan regained their gayety and their brilliancy. The Gascon began to understand. Charles advanced towards him.

“The general,” said he, “is not rich, and cannot pay you what he is worth. I am richer, certainly, but now that he is a duke, and if not a king, almost a king, he is worth a sum I could not perhaps pay. Come, M. d’Artagnan, be moderate with me; how much do I owe you?”

D’Artagnan, delighted at the turn things were taking, but not for a moment losing his self-possession, replied, — “Sire, your majesty has no occasion to be alarmed. When I had the good fortune to take his grace, M. Monk was only a general; it is therefore only a general’s ransom that is due to me. But if the general will have the kindness to deliver me his sword, I shall consider myself paid; for there is nothing in the world but the general’s sword which is worth so much as himself.”

“Odds fish! as my father said,” cried Charles. “That is a gallant proposal, and a gallant man, is he not, duke?”

“Upon my honor, yes, sire,” and he drew his sword. “Monsieur,” said he to D’Artagnan, “here is what you demand. Many may have handled a better blade; but however modest mine may be, I have never surrendered it to any one.”

D’Artagnan received with pride the sword which had just made a king.

“Oh! oh!” cried Charles II.; “what, a sword that has restored me to my throne — to go out of the kingdom — and not, one day, to figure among the crown jewels. No, on my soul! that shall not be! Captain d’Artagnan, I will give you two hundred thousand crowns for your sword! If that is too little, say so.”

“It is too little, sire,” replied D’Artagnan, with inimitable seriousness. “In the first place, I do not at all wish to sell it; but your majesty desires me to do so, and that is an order. I obey, then, but the respect I owe to the illustrious warrior who hears me commands me to estimate at a third more the reward of my victory. I ask then three hundred thousand crowns for the sword, or I shall give it to your majesty for nothing.” And taking it by the point he presented it to the king. Charles broke into hilarious laughter.

“A gallant man, and a merry companion! Odds fish! is he not, duke? is he not, comte? He pleases me! I like him! Here, Chevalier d’Artagnan, take this.” And going to the table, he took a pen and wrote an order upon his treasurer for three hundred thousand crowns.

D’Artagnan took it, and turning gravely towards Monk: “I have still asked too little, I know,” said he, “but believe me, your grace, I would rather have died than allow myself to be governed by avarice.”

The king began to laugh again, like the happiest cockney of his kingdom.

“You will come and see me again before you go, chevalier?” said he; “I shall want to lay in a stock of gayety now my Frenchmen are leaving me.”

“Ah! sire, it will not be with the gayety as with the duke’s sword; I will give it to your majesty gratis,” replied D’Artagnan, whose feet scarcely seemed to touch the ground.

“And you, comte,” added Charles, turning towards Athos, “come again, also, I have an important message to confide to you. Your hand, duke.” Monk pressed the hand of the king.

“Adieu! gentlemen,” said Charles, holding out each of his hands to the two Frenchmen, who carried them to their lips.

“Well,” said Athos, when they were out of the palace, “are you satisfied?”

“Hush!” said D’Artagnan, wild with joy, “I have not yet returned from the treasurer’s — a shutter may fall upon my head.”

CHAPTER 34

Of the Embarrassment of Riches

D’Artagnan lost no time, and as soon as the thing was suitable and opportune, he paid a visit to the lord treasurer of his majesty. He had then the satisfaction to exchange a piece of paper, covered with very ugly writing, for a prodigious number of crowns, recently stamped with the effigies of his very gracious majesty Charles II.

D’Artagnan easily controlled himself: and yet, on this occasion, he could not help evincing a joy which the reader will perhaps comprehend, if he deigns to have some indulgence for a man who, since his birth, had never seen so many pieces and rolls of pieces juxtaplaced in an order truly agreeable to the eye. The treasurer placed all the rolls in bags, and closed each bag with a stamp sealed with the arms of England, a favor which treasurers do not grant to everybody. Then impassible, and just as polite as he ought to be towards a man honored with the friendship of the king, he said to D’Artagnan:

“Take away your money, sir.” Your money! These words made a thousand chords vibrate in the heart of D’Artagnan, which he had never felt before. He had the bags packed in a small cart, and returned home meditating deeply. A man who possesses three hundred thousand crowns can no longer expect to wear a smooth brow; a wrinkle for every hundred thousand livres is not too much.

D’Artagnan shut himself up, ate no dinner, closed his door to everybody, and, with a lighted lamp, and a loaded pistol on the table, he watched all night, ruminating upon the means of preventing these lovely crowns, which from the coffers of the king had passed into his coffers, from passing from his coffers into the pockets of any thief whatever. The best means discovered by the Gascon was to inclose his treasure, for the present, under locks so solid that no wrist could break them, and so complicated that no master-key could open them. D’Artagnan remembered that the English are masters in mechanics and conservative industry; and he determined to go in the morning in search of a mechanic who would sell him a strong box. He did not go far; Master Will Jobson, dwelling in Piccadilly, listened to his propositions, comprehended his wishes, and promised to make him a safety lock that should relieve him from all future fear.

“I will give you,” said he, “a piece of mechanism entirely new. At the first serious attempt upon your lock, an invisible plate will open of itself and vomit forth a pretty copper bullet of the weight of a mark — which will knock down the intruder, and not without a loud report. What do you think of it?”

“I think it very ingenious,” cried D’Artagnan, “the little copper bullet pleases me mightily. So now, sir mechanic, the terms?”

“A fortnight for the execution, and fifteen hundred crowns payable on delivery,” replied the artisan.

D’Artagnan’s brow darkened. A fortnight was delay enough to allow the thieves of London time to remove all occasion for the strong box. As to the fifteen hundred crowns — that would be paying too dear for what a little vigilance would procure him for nothing.

“I will think of it,” said he, “thank you, sir.” And he returned home at full speed; nobody had yet touched his treasure. That same day Athos paid a visit to his friend and found him so thoughtful that he could not help expressing his surprise.

“How is this?” said he, “you are rich and not gay — you, who were so anxious for wealth!”

“My friend, the pleasures to which we are not accustomed oppress us more than the griefs with which we are familiar. Give me your opinion, if you please. I can ask you, who have always had money: when we have money, what do we do with it?”

“That depends.”

“What have you done with yours, seeing that it has not made you a miser or a prodigal? For avarice dries up the heart, and prodigality drowns it — is not that so?”

“Fabricius could not have spoken more justly. But in truth, my money has never been a burden to me.”

“How so? Do you place it out at interest?”

“No; you know I have a tolerably handsome house; and that house composes the better part of my property.”

“I know it does.”

“So that you can be as rich as I am, and, indeed more rich, whenever you like, by the same means.”

“But your rents, — do you lay them by?”

“What do you think of a chest concealed in a wall?”

“I never made use of such a thing.”

“Then you must have some confidant, some safe man of business who pays you interest at a fair rate.”

“Not at all.”

“Good heavens! what do you do with it, then?”

“I spend all I have, and I only have what I spend, my dear D’Artagnan.”

“Ah that may be. But you are something of a prince, fifteen or sixteen thousand livres melt away between your fingers; and then you have expenses and appearances —- “

“Well, I don’t see why you should be less of a noble than I am, my friend; your money would be quite sufficient.”

“Three hundred thousand crowns! Two-thirds too much!”

“I beg your pardon — did you not tell me? — I thought I heard you say — I fancied you had a partner —- “

“Ah! Mordioux! that’s true,” cried D’Artagnan, coloring; “there is Planchet. I had forgotten Planchet, upon my life! Well! there are my three hundred thousand crowns broken into. That’s a pity! it was a round sum, and sounded well. That is true, Athos; I am no longer rich. What a memory you have!”

“Tolerably good; yes, thank God!”

“The worthy Planchet!” grumbled D’Artagnan; “his was not a bad dream! What a speculation! Peste! Well! what is said is said.”

“How much are you to give him?”

“Oh!” said D’Artagnan, “he is not a bad fellow; I shall arrange matters with him. I have had a great deal of trouble, you see, and expenses; all that must be taken into account.”

“My dear friend, I can depend upon you, and have no fear for the worthy Planchet; his interests are better in your hands than in his own. But now that you have nothing more to do here, we shall depart, if you please. You can go and thank his majesty, ask if he has any commands, and in six days we may be able to get sight of the towers of Notre Dame.”

“My friend, I am most anxious to be off, and will go at once and pay my respects to the king.”

“I,” said Athos, “am going to call upon some friends in the city, and shall then be at your service.”

“Will you lend me Grimaud?”

“With all my heart. What do you want to do with him?”

“Something very simple, and which will not fatigue him; I shall only beg him to take charge of my pistols, which lie there on the table near that coffer.”

“Very well!” replied Athos, imperturbably.

“And he will not stir, will he?”

“Not more than the pistols themselves.”

“Then I shall go and take leave of his majesty. Au revoir!”

D’Artagnan arrived at St. James’s, where Charles II. who was busy writing, kept him in the ante-chamber a full hour. Whilst walking about in the gallery, from the door to the window, from the window to the door, he thought he saw a cloak like Athos’s cross the vestibule; but at the moment he was going to ascertain if it were he, the usher summoned him to his majesty’s presence. Charles II. rubbed his hands while receiving the thanks of our friend.

“Chevalier,” said he, “you are wrong to express gratitude to me; I have not paid you a quarter of the value of the history of the box into which you put the brave general — the excellent Duke of Albemarle, I mean.” And the king laughed heartily.

D’Artagnan did not think it proper to interrupt his majesty, and bowed with much modesty.

“A propos,” continued Charles, “do you think my dear Monk has really pardoned you?”

“Pardoned me! yes, I hope so, sire!”

“Eh! — but it was a cruel trick! Odds fish! to pack up the first personage of the English revolution like a herring. In your place I would not trust him, chevalier.”

“But, sire —- “

“Yes, I know very well that Monk calls you his friend, but he has too penetrating an eye not to have a memory, and too lofty a brow not to be very proud, you know grande supercilium.”

“I shall certainly learn Latin,” said D’Artagnan to himself.

“But stop,” cried the merry monarch, “I must manage your reconciliation; I know how to set about it; so —- “

D’Artagnan bit his mustache. “Will your majesty permit me to tell you the truth?”

“Speak, chevalier, speak.”

“Well, sire, you alarm me greatly. If your majesty undertakes the affair, as you seem inclined to do, I am a lost man; the duke will have me assassinated.”

The king burst into a fresh roar of laughter, which changed D’Artagnan’s alarm into downright terror.

“Sire, I beg you to allow me to settle this matter myself, and if your majesty has no further need of my services —- “

“No, chevalier. What, do you want to leave us?” replied Charles, with a hilarity that grew more and more alarming.

“If your majesty has no more commands for me.”

Charles became more serious.

“One single thing. See my sister, the Lady Henrietta. Do you know her?”

“No, sire, but — an old soldier like me is not an agreeable spectacle for a young and gay princess.”

“Ah! but my sister must know you; she must in case of need have you to depend upon.”

“Sire, every one that is dear to your majesty will be sacred to me.”

“Very well! — Parry! Come here, Parry!”

The side door opened and Parry entered, his face beaming with pleasure as soon as he saw D’Artagnan.

“What is Rochester doing?” said the king.

“He is on the canal with the ladies,” replied Parry.

“And Buckingham?”

“He is there also.”

“That is well. You will conduct the chevalier to Villiers; that is the Duke of Buckingham, chevalier; and beg the duke to introduce M. d’Artagnan to the Princess Henrietta.”

Parry bowed and smiled to D’Artagnan.

“Chevalier,” continued the king, “this is your parting audience; you can afterwards set out as soon as you please.”

“Sire, I thank you.”

“But be sure you make your peace with Monk!”

“Oh, sire —- “

“You know there is one of my vessels at your disposal?”

“Sire, you overpower me; I cannot think of putting your majesty’s officers to inconvenience on my account.”

The king slapped D’Artagnan upon the shoulder.

“Nobody will be inconvenienced on your account, chevalier, but for that of an ambassador I am about sending to France, and to whom you will willingly serve as a companion, I fancy, for you know him.”

D’Artagnan appeared astonished.

“He is a certain Comte de la Fere, — whom you call Athos,” added the king, terminating the conversation, as he had begun it, by a joyous burst of laughter. “Adieu, chevalier, adieu. Love me as I love you.” And thereupon making a sign to Parry to ask if there were any one waiting for him in the adjoining closet, the king disappeared into that closet, leaving the chevalier perfectly astonished by this singular audience. The old man took his arm in a friendly way, and led him towards the garden.

CHAPTER 35

On the Canal

Upon the green waters of the canal bordered with marble, upon which time had already scattered black spots and tufts of mossy grass, there glided majestically a long, flat bark adorned with the arms of England, surmounted by a dais, and carpeted with long damasked stuffs, which trailed their fringes in the water. Eight rowers, leaning lazily to their oars, made it move upon the canal with the graceful slowness of the swans, which, disturbed in their ancient possessions by the approach of the bark, looked from a distance at this splendid and noisy pageant. We say noisy — for the bark contained four guitar and lute players, two singers, and several courtiers, all sparkling with gold and precious stones, and showing their white teeth in emulation of each other, to please the Lady Henrietta Stuart, grand-daughter of Henry IV., daughter of Charles I., and sister of Charles II., who occupied the seat of honor under the dais of the bark. We know this young princess, we have seen her at the Louvre with her mother, wanting wood, wanting bread, and fed by the coadjuteur and the parliament. She had, therefore, like her brothers, passed through an uneasy youth; then, all at once, she had just awakened from a long and horrible dream, seated on the steps of a throne, surrounded by courtiers and flatterers. Like Mary Stuart on leaving prison, she aspired not only to life and liberty, but to power and wealth.

The Lady Henrietta, in growing, had attained remarkable beauty, which the recent restoration had rendered celebrated. Misfortune had taken from her the luster of pride, but prosperity had restored it to her. She was resplendent, then, in her joy and her happiness, — like those hot-house flowers which, forgotten during a frosty autumn night, have hung their heads, but which on the morrow, warmed once more by the atmosphere in which they were born, rise again with greater splendor than ever. Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, son of him who played so conspicuous a part in the early chapters of this history, — Villiers of Buckingham, a handsome cavalier, melancholy with women, a jester with men, — and Wilmot, Lord Rochester, a jester with both sexes, were standing at this moment before the Lady Henrietta, disputing the privilege of making her smile. As to that young and beautiful princess, reclining upon a cushion of velvet bordered with gold, her hands hanging listlessly so as to dip in the water, she listened carelessly to the musicians without hearing them, and heard the two courtiers without appearing to listen to them.

This Lady Henrietta — this charming creature — this woman who joined the graces of France to the beauties of England, not having yet loved, was cruel in her coquetry. The smile, then, — that innocent favor of young girls, — did not even lighten her countenance; and if, at times, she did raise her eyes, it was to fasten them upon one or other of the cavaliers with such a fixity, that their gallantry, bold as it generally was, took the alarm, and became timid.

In the meanwhile the boat continued its course, the musicians made a great noise, and the courtiers began, like them, to be out of breath. Besides, the excursion became doubtless monotonous to the princess, for all at once, shaking her head with an air of impatience, — “Come, gentlemen, — enough of this; — let us land.”

“Ah, madam,” said Buckingham, “we are very unfortunate! We have not succeeded in making the excursion agreeable to your royal highness.”

“My mother expects me,” replied the princess; “and I must frankly admit, gentlemen, I am bored.” And whilst uttering this cruel word, Henrietta endeavored to console by a look each of the two young men, who appeared terrified at such frankness. The look produced its effect — the two faces brightened; but immediately, as if the royal coquette thought she had done too much for simple mortals, she made a movement, turned her back on both her adorers, and appeared plunged in a reverie in which it was evident they had no part.

Buckingham bit his lips with anger, for he was truly in love with Lady Henrietta, and, in that case, took everything in a serious light. Rochester bit his lips likewise; but his wit always dominated over his heart, it was purely and simply to repress a malicious smile. The princess was then allowing the eyes she turned from the young nobles to wander over the green and flowery turf of the park, when she perceived Parry and D’Artagnan at a distance.

“Who is coming yonder?” said she.

The two young men turned round with the rapidity of lightning.

“Parry,” replied Buckingham, “nobody but Parry.”

“I beg your pardon,” said Rochester, “but I think he has a companion.”

“Yes,” said the princess, at first with languor, but then, — “What mean those words, `Nobody but Parry;’ say, my lord?”

“Because, madam,” replied Buckingham, piqued, “because the faithful Parry, the wandering Parry, the eternal Parry, is not, I believe, of much consequence.”

“You are mistaken, duke. Parry — the wandering Parry, as you call him — has always wandered in the service of my family, and the sight of that old man always gives me satisfaction.”

The Lady Henrietta followed the usual progress of pretty women, particularly coquettish women; she passed from caprice to contradiction; — the gallant had undergone the caprice, the courtier must bend beneath the contradictory humor. Buckingham bowed, but made no reply.

“It is true, madam,” said Rochester, bowing in his turn, “that Parry is the model of servants; but, madam, he is no longer young, and we laugh only when we see cheerful objects. Is an old man a gay object?”

“Enough, my lord,” said the princess, coolly; “the subject of conversation is unpleasant to me.”

Then, as if speaking to herself, “It is really unaccountable,” said she, “how little regard my brother’s friends have for his servants.”

“Ah, madam,” cried Buckingham, “your royal highness pierces my heart with a dagger forged by your own hands.”

“What is the meaning of that speech, which is turned so like a French madrigal, duke? I do not understand it.”

“It means, madam, that you yourself, so good, so charming, so sensible, you have laughed sometimes — smiled, I should say — at the idle prattle of that good Parry, for whom your royal highness to-day entertains such a marvelous susceptibility.”

“Well, my lord, if I have forgotten myself so far,” said Henrietta, “you do wrong to remind me of it.” And she made a sign of impatience. “The good Parry wants to speak to me, I believe: please order them to row to the shore, my Lord Rochester.”

Rochester hastened to repeat the princess’s command; and a moment later the boat touched the bank.

“Let us land, gentlemen,” said Henrietta, taking the arm which Rochester offered her, although Buckingham was nearer to her, and had presented his. Then Rochester, with an ill-dissembled pride, which pierced the heart of the unhappy Buckingham through and through, led the princess across the little bridge which the rowers had cast from the royal boat to the shore.

“Which way will your royal highness go?” asked Rochester.

“You see, my lord, towards that good Parry, who is wandering, as my lord of Buckingham says, and seeking me with eyes weakened by the tears he has shed over our misfortunes.”

“Good heavens!” said Rochester, “how sad your royal highness is to-day; in truth we seem ridiculous fools to you, madam.”

“Speak for yourself, my lord,” interrupted Buckingham with vexation; “for my part, I displease her royal highness to such a degree, that I appear absolutely nothing to her.”

Neither Rochester nor the princess made any reply; Henrietta only urged her companion more quickly on. Buckingham remained behind, and took advantage of this isolation to give himself up to his anger; he bit his handkerchief so furiously that it was soon in shreds.

“Parry my good Parry,” said the princess, with her gentle voice, “come hither. I see you are seeking me, and I am waiting for you.”

“Ah, madam,” said Rochester, coming charitably to the help of his companion, who had remained, as we have said, behind, “if Parry cannot see your royal highness, the man who follows him is a sufficient guide, even for a blind man, for he has eyes of flame. That man is a double-lamped lantern.”

“Lighting a very handsome martial countenance,” said the princess, determined to be as ill-natured as possible. Rochester bowed. “One of those vigorous soldiers’ heads seen nowhere but in France,” added the princess, with the perseverance of a woman sure of impunity.

Rochester and Buckingham looked at each other, as much as to say, — “What can be the matter with her?”

“See, my lord of Buckingham, what Parry wants,” said Henrietta. “Go!”

The young man, who considered this order as a favor, resumed his courage, and hastened to meet Parry, who, followed by D’Artagnan, advanced slowly on account of his age. D’Artagnan walked slowly but nobly, as D’Artagnan, doubled by the third of a million, ought to walk, that is to say, without conceit or swagger, but without timidity. When Buckingham, very eager to comply with the desire of the princess, who had seated herself on a marble bench, as if fatigued with the few steps she had gone, — when Buckingham, we say, was at a distance of only a few paces from Parry, the latter recognized him.

“Ah I my lord!” cried he, quite out of breath, “will your grace obey the king?”

“In what, Mr. Parry?” said the young man, with a kind of coolness tempered by a desire to make himself agreeable to the princess.

“Well, his majesty begs your grace to present this gentleman to her royal highness the Princess Henrietta.”

“In the first place, what is the gentleman’s name?” said the duke, haughtily.

D’Artagnan, as we know, was easily affronted, and the Duke of Buckingham’s tone displeased him. He surveyed the courtier from head to foot, and two flashes beamed from beneath his bent brows. But, after a struggle, — “Monsieur le Chevalier d’Artagnan, my lord,” replied he, quietly.

“Pardon me, sir, that name teaches me your name but nothing more.”

“You mean —- “

“I mean I do not know you.”

“I am more fortunate than you, sir,” replied D’Artagnan, “for I have had the honor of knowing your family, and particularly my lord Duke of Buckingham, your illustrious father.”

“My father?” said Buckingham. “Well, I think I now remember. Monsieur le Chevalier d’Artagnan, do you say?”

D’Artagnan bowed. “In person,” said he.

“Pardon me, but are you one of those Frenchmen who had secret relations with my father?”

“Exactly, my lord duke, I am one of those Frenchmen.”

“Then, sir, permit me to say that it was strange my father never heard of you during his lifetime.”

“No, monsieur, but he heard of me at the moment of his death: it was I who sent to him, through the hands of the valet de chambre of Anne of Austria, notice of the dangers which threatened him; unfortunately, it came too late.”

“Never mind, monsieur,” said Buckingham. “I understand now, that, having had the intention of rendering a service to the father, you have come to claim the protection of the son.”

“In the first place, my lord,” replied D’Artagnan, phlegmatically, “I claim the protection of no man. His majesty Charles II., to whom I have had the honor of rendering some services — I may tell you, my lord, my life has been passed in such occupations — King Charles II., then, who wishes to honor me with some kindness, desires me to be presented to her royal highness the Princess Henrietta, his sister, to whom I shall, perhaps, have the good fortune to be of service hereafter. Now, the king knew that you at this moment were with her royal highness, and sent me to you. There is no other mystery, I ask absolutely nothing of you; and if you will not present me to her royal highness, I shall be compelled to do without you, and present myself.”

“At least, sir,” said Buckingham, determined to have the last word, “you will not refuse me an explanation provoked by yourself.”

“I never refuse, my lord,” said D’Artagnan.

“As you have had relations with my father, you must be acquainted with some private details?”

“These relations are already far removed from us, my lord — for you were not then born — and for some unfortunate diamond studs, which I received from his hands and carried back to France, it is really not worth while awakening so many remembrances.”

“Ah! sir,” said Buckingham, warmly, going up to D’Artagnan, and holding out his hand to him, “it is you, then — you whom my father sought everywhere and who had a right to expect so much from us.”

“To expect, my lord, in truth, that is my forte; all my life I have expected.”

At this moment, the princess, who was tired of not seeing the stranger approach her, arose and came towards them.

“At least, sir,” said Buckingham, “you shall not wait for the presentation you claim of me.”

Then turning toward the princess and bowing: “Madam,” said the young man, “the king, your brother, desires me to have the honor of presenting to your royal highness, Monsieur le Chevalier d’Artagnan.”

“In order that your royal highness may have, in case of need, a firm support and a sure friend,” added Parry. D’Artagnan bowed.

“You have still something to say, Parry,” replied Henrietta, smiling upon D’Artagnan, while addressing the old servant.

“Yes, madam, the king desires you to preserve religiously in your memory the name and merit of M. d’Artagnan, to whom his majesty owes, he says, the recovery of his kingdom.” Buckingham, the princess, and Rochester looked at each other.

“That,” said D’Artagnan, “is another little secret, of which, in all probability, I shall not boast to his majesty’s son, as I have done to you with respect to the diamond studs.”

“Madam,” said Buckingham, “monsieur has just, for the second time, recalled to my memory an event which excites my curiosity to such a degree, that I shall venture to ask your permission to take him to one side for a moment, to converse in private.”

“Do, my lord,” said the princess, “but restore to the sister, as quickly as possible, this friend so devoted to the brother.” And she took the arm of Rochester whilst Buckingham took that of D’Artagnan.

“Oh! tell me, chevalier,” said Buckingham, “all that affair of the diamonds, which nobody knows in England, not even the son of him who was the hero of it.”

“My lord, one person alone had a right to relate all that affair, as you call it, and that was your father; he thought proper to be silent. I must beg you to allow me to be so likewise.” And D’Artagnan bowed like a man upon whom it was evident no entreaties could prevail.

“Since it is so, sir,” said Buckingham, “pardon my indiscretion, I beg you; and if, at any time, I should go into France —- ” and he turned round to take a last look at the princess, who took but little notice of him, totally occupied as she was, or appeared to be, with Rochester. Buckingham sighed.

“Well?” said D’Artagnan.

“I was saying that if, any day, I were to go to France —- “

“You will go, my lord,” said D’Artagnan. “I shall answer for that.”

“And how so?”

“Oh, I have strange powers of prediction; if I do predict anything I am seldom mistaken. If, then, you do come to France?”

“Well, then, monsieur, you, of whom kings ask that valuable friendship which restores crowns to them, I will venture to beg of you a little of that great interest you took in my father.”

“My lord,” replied D’Artagnan, “believe me, I shall deem myself highly honored if, in France, you remember having seen me here. And now permit —- “

Then, turning towards the princess: “Madam,” said he, “your royal highness is a daughter of France; and in that quality I hope to see you again in Paris. One of my happy days will be that on which your royal highness shall give me any command whatever, thus proving to me that you have not forgotten the recommendations of your august brother.” And he bowed respectfully to the young princess, who gave him her hand to kiss with a right royal grace.

“Ah! madam,” said Buckingham, in a subdued voice, “what can a man do to obtain a similar favor from your royal highness?”

“Dame! my lord ” replied Henrietta, “ask Monsieur d’Artagnan; he will tell you.”

CHAPTER 36

How D’Artagnan drew, as a Fairy would have done, a Country-seat from a Deal Box

The king’s words regarding the wounded pride of Monk had not inspired D’Artagnan with a small portion of apprehension. The lieutenant had had, all his life, the great art of choosing his enemies; and when he had found them implacable and invincible, it was when he had not been able, under any pretense, to make them otherwise. But points of view change greatly in the course of a life. It is a magic lantern, of which the eye of man every year changes the aspects. It results that from the last day of a year on which we saw white, to the first day of the year on which we shall see black, there is but the interval of a single night.

Now, D’Artagnan, when he left Calais with his ten scamps, would have hesitated as little in attacking a Goliath, a Nebuchadnezzar, or a Holofernes as he would in crossing swords with a recruit or caviling with a landlady. Then he resembled the sparrow-hawk which, when fasting, will attack a ram. Hunger is blind. But D’Artagnan satisfied — D’Artagnan rich — D’Artagnan a conqueror — D’Artagnan proud of so difficult a triumph — D’Artagnan had too much to lose not to reckon, figure by figure, with probable misfortune.

His thoughts were employed, therefore, all the way on the road from his presentation, with one thing, and that was, how he should conciliate a man like Monk, a man whom Charles himself, kind as he was, conciliated with difficulty; for, scarcely established, the protected might again stand in need of the protector, and would, consequently, not refuse him, such being the case, the petty satisfaction of transporting M. d’Artagnan, or of confining him in one of the Middlesex prisons, or drowning him a little on his passage from Dover to Boulogne. Such sorts of satisfaction kings are accustomed to render to viceroys without disagreeable consequences.

It would not be at all necessary for the king to be active in that contrepartie of the play in which Monk should take his revenge. The part of the king would be confined to simply pardoning the viceroy of Ireland all he should undertake against D’Artagnan. Nothing more was necessary to place the conscience of the Duke of Albemarle at rest than a te absolvo said with a laugh, or the scrawl of “Charles the King,” traced at the foot of a parchment; and with these two words pronounced, and these two words written, poor D’Artagnan was forever crushed beneath the ruins of his imagination.

And then, a thing sufficiently disquieting for a man with such foresight as our musketeer, he found himself alone; and even the friendship of Athos could not restore his confidence. Certainly if the affair had only concerned a free distribution of sword-thrusts, the musketeer would have counted upon his companion; but in delicate dealings with a king, when the perhaps of an unlucky chance should arise in justification of Monk or of Charles of England, D’Artagnan knew Athos well enough to be sure he would give the best possible coloring to the loyalty of the survivor, and would content himself with shedding floods of tears on the tomb of the dead, supposing the dead to be his friend, and afterwards composing his epitaph in the most pompous superlatives.

“Decidedly,” thought the Gascon; and this thought was the result of the reflections which he had just whispered to himself and which we have repeated aloud — “decidedly, I must be reconciled with M. Monk, and acquire a proof of his perfect indifference for the past. If, and God forbid it should be so! he is still sulky and reserved in the expression of this sentiment, I shall give my money to Athos to take away with him, and remain in England just long enough to unmask him, then, as I have a quick eye and a light foot, I shall notice the first hostile sign; to decamp or conceal myself at the residence of my lord of Buckingham, who seems a good sort of devil at the bottom, and to whom, in return for his hospitality, I shall relate all that history of the diamonds, which can now compromise nobody but an old queen, who need not be ashamed, after being the wife of a miserly creature like Mazarin, of having formerly been the mistress of a handsome nobleman like Buckingham. Mordioux! that is the thing, and this Monk shall not get the better of me. Eh? and besides I have an idea!”

We know that, in general, D’Artagnan was not wanting in ideas; and during this soliloquy, D’Artagnan buttoned his vest up to the chin, and nothing excited his imagination like this preparation for a combat of any kind, called accinction by the Romans. He was quite heated when he reached the mansion of the Duke of Albemarle. He was introduced to the viceroy with a promptitude which proved that he was considered as one of the household. Monk was in his business-closet.

“My lord,” said D’Artagnan, with that expression of frankness which the Gascon knew so well how to assume, “my lord, I have come to ask your grace’s advice!”

Monk, as closely buttoned up morally as his antagonist was physically, replied: “Ask, my friend;” and his countenance presented an expression not less open than that of D’Artagnan.

“My lord, in the first place, promise me secrecy and indulgence.”

“I promise you all you wish. What is the matter? Speak!”

“It is, my lord, that I am not quite pleased with the king.”

“Indeed! And on what account, my dear lieutenant?”

“Because his majesty gives way sometimes to jest very compromising for his servants; and jesting, my lord, is a weapon that seriously wounds men of the sword, as we are.”

Monk did all in his power not to betray his thought, but D’Artagnan watched him with too close an attention not to detect an almost imperceptible flush upon his face. “Well, now, for my part,” said he, with the most natural air possible, “I am not an enemy of jesting, my dear Monsieur d’Artagnan; my soldiers will tell you that even many times in camp, I listened very indifferently, and with a certain pleasure, to the satirical songs which the army of Lambert passed into mine, and which, certainly, would have caused the ears of a general more susceptible than I am to tingle.”

“Oh, my lord,” said D’Artagnan, “I know you are a complete man; I know you have been, for a long time placed above human miseries; but there are jests and jests of a certain kind, which have the power of irritating me beyond expression.”

“May I inquire what kind, my friend?”

“Such as are directed against my friends or against people I respect, my lord!”

Monk made a slight movement, which D’Artagnan perceived. “Eh! and in what,” asked Monk, “in what can the stroke of a pin which scratches another tickle your skin? Answer me that.”

“My lord, I can explain it to you in one single sentence; it concerns you.”

Monk advanced a single step towards D’Artagnan. “Concerns me?” said he.

“Yes, and this is what I cannot explain; but that arises, perhaps, from my want of knowledge of his character. How can the king have the heart to jest about a man who has rendered him so many and such great services? How can one understand that he should amuse himself in setting by the ears a lion like you with a gnat like me?”

“I cannot conceive that in any way,” said Monk.

“But so it is. The king, who owed me a reward, might have rewarded me as a soldier, without contriving that history of the ransom, which affects you, my lord.”

“No,” said Monk, laughing: “it does not affect me in any way, I can assure you.”

“Not as regards me, I can understand, you know me, my lord, I am so discreet that the grave would appear a babbler compared to me; but — do you understand, my lord?”

“No,” replied Monk, with persistent obstinacy.

“If another knew the secret which I know —- “

“What secret?”

“Eh! my lord, why, that unfortunate secret of Newcastle.”

“Oh! the million of M. le Comte de la Fere?”

“No, my lord, no; the enterprise made upon you grace’s person.”

“It was well played, chevalier, that is all, and no more is to be said about it: you are a soldier, both brave and cunning, which proves that you unite the qualities of Fabius and Hannibal. You employed your means, force and cunning: there is nothing to be said against that: I ought to have been on guard.”

“Ah! yes; I know, my lord, and I expected nothing less from your partiality; so that if it were only the abduction in itself, Mordieux! that would be nothing; but there are —- “

“What?”

“The circumstances of that abduction.”

“What circumstances?”

“Oh! you know very well what I mean, my lord.”

“No, curse me if I do.”

“There is — in truth, it is difficult to speak it.”

“There is?”

“Well, there is that devil of a box!”

Monk colored visibly. “Well, I have forgotten it.”

“Deal box,” continued D’Artagnan, “with holes for the nose and mouth. In truth, my lord, all the rest was well; but the box, the box! that was really a coarse joke.” Monk fidgeted about in his chair. “And, notwithstanding my having done that,” resumed D’Artagnan, “I, a soldier of fortune, it was quite simple, because by the side of that action, a little inconsiderate I admit, which I committed, but which the gravity of the case may excuse, I am circumspect and reserved.”

“Oh!” said Monk, “believe me, I know you well, Monsieur d’Artagnan, and I appreciate you.”

D’Artagnan never took his eyes off Monk; studying all which passed in the mind of the general, as he prosecuted his idea. “But it does not concern me,” resumed he.

“Well, then, whom does it concern?” said Monk, who began to grow a little impatient.

“It relates to the king, who will never restrain his tongue.”

“Well! and suppose he should say all he knows?” said Monk, with a degree of hesitation.

“My lord,” replied D’Artagnan, “do not dissemble, I implore you, with a man who speaks so frankly as I do. You have a right to feel your susceptibility excited, however benignant it may be. What, the devil! it is not the place for a man like you, a man who plays with crowns and scepters as a Bohemian plays with his balls; it is not the place of a serious man, I said, to be shut up in a box like some freak of natural history; for you must understand it would make all your enemies ready to burst with laughter, and you are so great, so noble, so generous, that you must have many enemies. This secret is enough to set half the human race laughing, if you were represented in that box. It is not decent to have the second personage in the kingdom laughed at.”

Monk was quite out of countenance at the idea of seeing himself represented in his box. Ridicule, as D’Artagnan had judiciously foreseen, acted upon him in a manner which neither the chances of war, the aspirations of ambition, nor the fear of death had been able to do.

“Good,” thought the Gascon, “he is frightened: I am safe.”

“Oh! as to the king,” said Monk, “fear nothing, my dear Monsieur d’Artagnan; the king will not jest with Monk, I assure you!”

The momentary flash of his eye was noticed by D’Artagnan. Monk lowered his tone immediately: “The king,” continued he, “is of too noble a nature, the king’s heart is too high to allow him to wish ill to those who do him good.”

“Oh! certainly,” cried D’Artagnan. “I am entirely of your grace’s opinion with regard to his heart, but not as to his