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head — it is good, but it is trifling.”

“The king will not trifle with Monk, be assured.”

“Then you are quite at ease, my lord?”

“On that side, at least! yes, perfectly.”

“Oh! I understand you; you are at ease as far as the king is concerned?”

“I have told you I was.”

“But you are not so much so on my account?”

“I thought I had told you that I had faith in your loyalty and discretion.”

“No doubt, no doubt, but you must remember one thing —- “

“What is that?”

“That I was not alone, that I had companions; and what companions!”

“Oh! yes, I know them.”

“And, unfortunately, my lord, they know you, too!”

“Well?”

“Well; they are yonder, at Boulogne, waiting for me.”

“And you fear —- “

“Yes, I fear that in my absence — Parbleu! If I were near them, I could answer for their silence.”

“Was I not right in saying that the danger, if there was any danger, would not come from his majesty, however disposed he may be to jest, but from your companions, as you say? To be laughed at by a king may be tolerable, but by the horse-boys and scamps of the army! Damn it!”

“Yes, I understand, that would be unbearable, that is why, my lord, I came to say, — do you not think it would be better for me to set out for France as soon as possible?”

“Certainly, if you think your presence —- “

“Would impose silence upon these scoundrels? Oh! I am sure of that, my lord.”

“Your presence will not prevent the report from spreading, if the tale has already transpired.”

“Oh! it has not transpired, my lord, I will wager. At all events, be assured I am determined upon one thing.”

“What is that?”

“To blow out the brains of the first who shall have propagated that report, and of the first who has heard it. After which I shall return to England to seek an asylum, and perhaps employment with your grace.”

“Oh, come back! come back!”

“Unfortunately, my lord, I am acquainted with nobody here but your grace, and if I should no longer find you, or if you should have forgotten me in your greatness?”

“Listen to me, Monsieur d’Artagnan,” replied Monk; “you are a superior man, full of intelligence and courage; you deserve all the good fortune this world can bring you; come with me into Scotland, and, I swear to you, I shall arrange for you a fate which all may envy.”

“Oh! my lord, that is impossible. At present I have a sacred duty to perform; I have to watch over your glory, I have to prevent a low jester from tarnishing in the eyes of our contemporaries — who knows? in the eyes of posterity — the splendor of your name.”

“Of posterity, Monsieur d’Artagnan?”

“Doubtless. It is necessary, as regards posterity, that all the details of that history should remain a mystery; for, admit that this unfortunate history of the deal box should spread, and it should be asserted that you had not re-established the king loyally, and of your own free will, but in consequence of a compromise entered into at Scheveningen between you two. It would be vain for me to declare how the thing came about, for though I know I should not be believed, it would be said that I had received my part of the cake, and was eating it.”

Monk knitted his brow. — “Glory, honor, probity!” said he, “you are but empty words.”

“Mist!” replied D’Artagnan; “nothing but mist, through which nobody can see clearly.”

“Well, then, go to France, my dear Monsieur d’Artagnan,” said Monk; “go, and to render England more attractive and agreeable to you, accept a remembrance of me.

“What now?” thought D’Artagnan.

“I have on the banks of the Clyde,” continued Monk, “a little house in a grove, cottage as it is called here. To this house are attached a hundred acres of land. Accept it as a souvenir.”

“Oh my lord! —- “

“Faith! you will be there in your own home, and that will be the place of refuge you spoke of just now.”

“For me to be obliged to your lordship to such an extent! Really, your grace, I am ashamed.”

“Not at all, not at all, monsieur,” replied Monk, with an arch smile; “it is I who shall be obliged to you. And,” pressing the hand of the musketeer, “I shall go and draw up the deed of gift,” — and he left the room.

D’Artagnan looked at him as he went out with something of a pensive and even an agitated air.

“After all,” said he, “he is a brave man. It is only a sad reflection that it is from fear of me, and not affection that he acts thus. Well, I shall endeavor that affection may follow.” Then, after an instant’s deeper reflection, — “Bah!” said he, “to what purpose? He is an Englishman.” And he in his turn went out, a little confused after the combat.

“So,” said he, “I am a land-owner! But how the devil am I to share the cottage with Planchet? Unless I give him the land, and I take the chateau, or that he takes the house and I — nonsense! M. Monk will never allow me to share a house he has inhabited, with a grocer. He is too proud for that. Besides, why should I say anything about it to him? It was not with the money of the company I have acquired that property, it was with my mother-wit alone; it is all mine, then. So, now I will go and find Athos.” And he directed his steps towards the dwelling of the Comte de la Fere

CHAPTER 37

How D’Artagnan regulated the “Assets” of the Company before he established its “Liabilities”

“Decidedly,” said D’Artagnan to himself, “I have struck a good vein. That star which shines once in the life of every man, which shone for Job and Iris, the most unfortunate of the Jews and the poorest of the Greeks, is come at last to shine on me. I will commit no folly, I will take advantage of it; it comes quite late enough to find me reasonable.”

He supped that evening, in very good humor, with his friend Athos; he said nothing to him about the expected donation, but he could not forbear questioning his friend, while eating, about country produce, sowing, and planting. Athos replied complacently, as he always did. His idea was that D’Artagnan wished to become a land-owner, only he could not help regretting, more than once, the absence of the lively humor and amusing sallies of the cheerful companion of former days. In fact, D’Artagnan was so absorbed, that, with his knife, he took advantage of the grease left at the bottom of his plate, to trace ciphers and make additions of surprising rotundity.

The order, or rather license, for their embarkation, arrived at Athos’s lodgings that evening. While this paper was remitted to the comte, another messenger brought to D’Artagnan a little bundle of parchments, adorned with all the seals employed in setting off property deeds in England. Athos surprised him turning over the leaves of these different acts which establish the transmission of property. The prudent Monk — others would say the generous Monk — had commuted the donation into a sale, and acknowledged the receipt of the sum of fifteen thousand crowns as the price of the property ceded. The messenger was gone. D’Artagnan still continued reading, Athos watched him with a smile. D’Artagnan, surprising one of those smiles over his shoulder, put the bundle in its wrapper.

“I beg your pardon,” said Athos.

“Oh! not at all, my friend,” replied the lieutenant, “I shall tell you —- “

“No, don’t tell me anything, I beg you; orders are things so sacred, that to one’s brother, one’s father, the person charged with such orders should never open his mouth. Thus I, who speak to you, and love you more tenderly than brother, father, or all the world —- “

“Except your Raoul?”

“I shall love Raoul still better when he shall be a man, and I shall have seen him develop himself in all the phases of his character and his actions — as I have seen you, my friend.”

“You said, then, that you had an order likewise, and that you would not communicate it to me.”

“Yes, my dear D’Artagnan.”

The Gascon sighed. “There was a time,” said he, “when you would have placed that order open upon the table, saying, `D’Artagnan, read this scrawl to Porthos, Aramis, and to me.'”

“That is true. Oh! that was the time of youth, confidence, the generous season when the blood commands, when it is warmed by feeling!”

“Well! Athos, will you allow me to tell you?”

“Speak, my friend!”

“That delightful time, that generous season, that ruling by warm blood, were all very fine things, no doubt; but I do not regret them at all. It is absolutely like the period of studies. I have constantly met with fools who would boast of the days of pensums, ferules and crusts of dry bread. It is singular, but I never loved all that; for my part, however active and sober I might be (you know if I was so, Athos), however simple I might appear in my clothes, I would not the less have preferred the braveries and embroideries of Porthos to my little perforated cassock, which gave passage to the wind in winter and the sun in summer. I should always, my friend, mistrust him who would pretend to prefer evil to good. Now, in times past all went wrong with me, and every month found a fresh hole in my cassock and in my skin, a gold crown less in my poor purse; of that execrable time of small beer and see-saw, I regret absolutely nothing, nothing, nothing save our friendship; for within me I have a heart, and it is a miracle that heart has not been dried up by the wind of poverty which passed through the holes of my cloak, or pierced by the swords of all shapes which passed through the holes in my poor flesh.”

“Do not regret our friendship,” said Athos, “that will only die with ourselves. Friendship is composed, above all things, of memories and habits, and if you have just now made a little satire upon mine, because I hesitate to tell you the nature of my mission into France —- “

“Who! I? — Oh! heavens! if you knew, my dear friend, how indifferent all the missions of the world will henceforth become to me!” And he laid his hand upon the parchment in his vest pocket.

Athos rose from the table and called the host in order to pay the reckoning.

“Since I have known you, my friend,” said D’Artagnan, “I have never discharged the reckoning. Porthos often did, Aramis sometimes, and you, you almost always drew out your purse with the dessert. I am now rich and should like to try if it is heroic to pay.”

“Do so,” said Athos; returning his purse to his pocket.

The two friends then directed their steps towards the port, not, however, without D’Artagnan’s frequently turning round to watch the transportation of his dear crowns. Night had just spread her thick veil over the yellow waters of the Thames; they heard those noises of casks and pulleys, the preliminaries of preparing to sail which had so many times made the hearts of the musketeers beat when the dangers of the sea were the least of those they were going to face. This time they were to embark on board a large vessel which awaited them at Gravesend, and Charles II., always delicate in small matters, had sent one of his yachts, with twelve men of his Scotch guard, to do honor to the ambassador he was sending to France. At midnight the yacht had deposited its passengers on board the vessel, and at eight o’clock in the morning, the vessel landed the ambassador and his friend on the wharf at Boulogne. Whilst the comte, with Grimaud, was busy procuring horses to go straight to Paris, D’Artagnan hastened to the hostelry where, according to his orders, his little army was to wait for him. These gentlemen were at breakfast upon oysters, fish, and spiced brandy, when D’Artagnan appeared. They were all very gay, but not one of them had yet exceeded the bounds of reason. A hurrah of joy welcomed the general. “Here I am,” said D’Artagnan, “the campaign is ended. I am come to bring to each his supplement of pay, as agreed upon.” Their eyes sparkled. “I will lay a wager there are not, at this moment, a hundred crowns remaining in the purse of the richest among you.”

“That is true,” cried they in chorus.

“Gentlemen,” said D’Artagnan, “then, this is the last order. The treaty of commerce has been concluded thanks to our coup-de-main which made us masters of the most skillful financier of England, for now I am at liberty to confess to you that the man we had to carry off was the treasurer of General Monk.”

This word treasurer produced a certain effect on his army. D’Artagnan observed that the eyes of Menneville alone did not evince perfect faith. “This treasurer,” he continued, “I conveyed to a neutral territory, Holland; I forced him to sign the treaty; I have even reconducted him to Newcastle, and as he was obliged to be satisfied with our proceedings towards him — the deal coffer being always carried without jolting, and being lined softly, I asked for a gratification for you. Here it is.” He threw a respectable-looking purse upon the cloth; and all involuntarily stretched out their hands. “One moment, my lambs,” said D’Artagnan; “if there are profits, there are also charges.”

“Oh! oh!” murmured they.

“We are about to find ourselves, my friends, in a position that would not be tenable for people without brains. I speak plainly: we are between the gallows and the Bastile.”

“Oh! oh!” said the chorus.

“That is easily understood. It was necessary to explain to General Monk the disappearance of his treasurer. I waited, for that purpose, till the very unhopedfor moment of the restoration of King Charles II., who is one of my friends.”

The army exchanged a glance of satisfaction in reply to the sufficiently proud look of D’Artagnan. “The king being restored, I restored to Monk his man of business, a little plucked, it is true, but, in short, I restored him. Now, General Monk, when he pardoned me, for he has pardoned me, could not help repeating these words to me, which I charge every one of you to engrave deeply there, between the eyes, under the vault of the cranium: — `Monsieur, the joke has been a good one, but I don’t naturally like jokes; if ever a word of what you have done’ (you understand me, Menneville) `escapes from your lips, or the lips of your companions, I have, in my government of Scotland and Ireland, seven hundred and forty-one wooden gibbets, of strong oak, clamped with iron, and freshly greased every week. I will make a present of one of these gibbets to each of you, and observe well, M. d’Artagnan,’ added he (observe it also, M. Menneville), `I shall still have seven hundred and thirty left for my private pleasure. And still further —- ‘”

“Ah! ah!” said the auxiliaries, “is there more still?”

“A mere trifle. `Monsieur d’Artagnan, I send to the king of France the treaty in question, with a request that he will cast into the Bastile provisionally, and then send to me, all who have taken part in this expedition; and that is a prayer with which the king will certainly comply.'”

A cry of terror broke from all corners of the table.

“There! there! there,” said D’Artagnan, “this brave M. Monk has forgotten one thing, and that is he does not know the name of any one of you, I alone know you, and it is not I, you may well believe, who will betray you. Why should I? As for you — I cannot suppose you will be silly enough to denounce yourselves, for then the king, to spare himself the expense of feeding and lodging you, will send you off to Scotland, where the seven hundred and forty-one gibbets are to be found. That is all, messieurs; I have not another word to add to what I have had the honor to tell you. I am sure you have understood me perfectly well, have you not, M. Menneville?”

“Perfectly,” replied the latter.

“Now the crowns!” said D’Artagnan. “Shut the doors,” he cried, and opened the bag upon the table, from which rolled several fine gold crowns. Every one made a movement towards the floor.

“Gently!” cried D’Artagnan. “Let no one stoop, and then I shall not be out in my reckoning.” He found it all right, gave fifty of those splendid crowns to each man, and received as many benedictions as he bestowed pieces. “Now,” said he, “if it were possible for you to reform a little, if you could become good and honest citizens —- “

“That is rather difficult,” said one of the troop.

“What then, captain?” said another.

“Because I might be able to find you again, and, who knows what other good fortune?” He made a sign to Menneville, who listened to all he said with a composed air. “Menneville,” said he, “come with me. Adieu my brave fellows! I need not warn you to be discreet.”

Menneville followed him, whilst the salutations of the auxiliaries were mingled with the sweet sound of the money clinking in their pockets.

“Menneville,” said D’Artagnan, when they were once in the street, “you were not my dupe; beware of being so. You did not appear to me to have any fear of the gibbets of Monk, or the Bastile of his majesty, King Louis XIV., but you will do me the favor of being afraid of me. Then listen at the smallest word that shall escape you, I will kill you as I would a fowl. I have absolution from our holy father, the pope, in my pocket.”

“I assure you I know absolutely nothing, my dear M. d’Artagnan, and that your words have all been to me so many articles of faith.”

“I was quite sure you were an intelligent fellow,” said the musketeer; “I have tried you for a length of time. These fifty gold crowns which I give you above the rest will prove the esteem I have for you. Take them.”

“Thanks, Monsieur d’Artagnan,” said Menneville.

“With that sum you can really become an honest man,” replied D’Artagnan, in the most serious tone possible. “It would be disgraceful for a mind like yours, and a name you no longer dare to bear, to sink forever under the rust of an evil life. Become a gallant man, Menneville, and live for a year upon those hundred gold crowns: it is a good provision; twice the pay of a high officer. In a year come to me, and, Mordioux! I will make something of you.”

Menneville swore, as his comrades had sworn, that he would be as silent as the grave. And yet some one must have spoken; and as, certainly, it was not one of the nine companions, and quite as certainly, it was not Menneville, it must have been D’Artagnan, who, in his quality of a Gascon, had his tongue very near to his lips. For, in short, if it were not he, who could it be? And how can it be explained that the secret of the deal coffer pierced with holes should come to our knowledge, and in so complete a fashion that we have, as has been seen, related the history of it in all its most minute details; details which, besides, throw a light as new as unexpected upon all that portion of the history of England which has been left, up to the present day, completely in darkness by the historian of our neighbors?

CHAPTER 38

In which it is seen that the French Grocer had already been established in the Seventeenth Century

His accounts once settled, and his recommendations made, D’Artagnan thought of nothing but returning to Paris as soon as possible. Athos, on his part, was anxious to reach home and to rest a little. However whole the character and the man may remain after the fatigues of a voyage, the traveler perceives with pleasure, at the close of the day — even though the day has been a fine one — that night is approaching, and will bring a little sleep with it. So, from Boulogne to Paris, jogging on, side by side, the two friends, in some degree absorbed each in his individual thoughts, conversed of nothing sufficiently interesting for us to repeat to our readers. Each of them given up to his personal reflections, and constructing his future after his own fashion, was, above all, anxious to abridge the distance by speed. Athos and D’Artagnan arrived at the gates of Paris on the evening of the fourth day after leaving Boulogne.

“Where are you going, my friend?” asked Athos. “I shall direct my course straight to my hotel.”

“And I straight to my partner’s.”

“To Planchet’s?”

“Yes; at the Pilon d’Or.”

“Well, but shall we not meet again?”

“If you remain in Paris, yes, for I shall stay here.”

“No: after having embraced Raoul, with whom I have appointed a meeting at my hotel, I shall set out immediately for La Fere.”

“Well, adieu, then, dear and true friend.”

“Au revoir! I should rather say, for why can you not come and live with me at Blois? You are free, you are rich, I shall purchase for you, if you like, a handsome estate in the vicinity of Chiverny or of Bracieux. On the one side you will have the finest woods in the world, which join those of Chambord; on the other, admirable marshes. You who love sporting, and who, whether you admit it or not, are a poet, my dear friend, you will find pheasants, rail and teal, without counting sunsets and excursions on the water, to make you fancy yourself Nimrod and Apollo themselves. While awaiting the purchase, you can live at La Fere, and we shall go together to fly our hawks among the vines, as Louis XIII. used to do. That is a quiet amusement for old fellows like us.”

D’Artagnan took the hands of Athos in his own. “Dear count,” said he, “I shall say neither `Yes’ nor `No.’ Let me pass in Paris the time necessary for the regulation of my affairs, and accustom myself, by degrees, to the heavy and glittering idea which is beating in my brain and dazzles me. I am rich, you see, and from this moment until the time when I shall have acquired the habit of being rich, I know myself, and I shall be an insupportable animal. Now, I am not enough of a fool to wish to appear to have lost my wits before a friend like you, Athos. The cloak is handsome, the cloak is richly gilded, but it is new, and does not seem to fit me.”

Athos smiled. “So be it,” said he. “But a propos of this cloak, dear D’Artagnan, will you allow me to offer you a little advice?”

“Yes, willingly.”

“You will not be angry?”

“Proceed.”

“When wealth comes to a man late in life or all at once, that man, in order not to change, must most likely become a miser — that is to say, not spend much more money than he had done before; or else become a prodigal, and contract so many debts as to become poor again.”

“Oh! but what you say looks very much like a sophism, my dear philosophic friend.”

“I do not think so. Will you become a miser?”

“No, pardieu! I was one already, having nothing. Let us change.”

“Then be prodigal.”

“Still less, Mordioux! Debts terrify me. Creditors appear to me, by anticipation like those devils who turn the damned upon the gridirons, and as patience is not my dominant virtue, I am always tempted to thrash those devils.”

“You are the wisest man I know, and stand in no need of advice from any one. Great fools must they be who think they have anything to teach you. But are we not at the Rue Saint Honore?”

“Yes, dear Athos.”

“Look yonder, on the left, that small, long white house is the hotel where I lodge. You may observe that it has but two stories; I occupy the first; the other is let to an officer whose duties oblige him to be absent eight or nine months in the year, — so I am in that house as in my own home, without the expense.”

“Oh! how well you manage, Athos! What order and what liberality! They are what I wish to unite! But, of what use trying! that comes from birth, and cannot be acquired.”

“You are a flatterer! Well! adieu, dear friend. A propos, remember me to Master Planchet; he was always a bright fellow.”

“And a man of heart, too, Athos. Adieu.”

And they separated. During all this conversation, D’Artagnan had not for a moment lost sight of a certain pack-horse, in whose panniers, under some hay, were spread the sacoches (messenger’s bags) with the portmanteau. Nine o’clock was striking at Saint-Merri. Planchet’s helps were shutting up his shop. D’Artagnan stopped the postilion who rode the pack-horse, at the corner of the Rue des Lombards, under a penthouse, and calling one of Planchet’s boys, he desired him not only to take care of the two horses, but to watch the postilion; after which he entered the shop of the grocer, who had just finished supper, and who, in his little private room, was, with a degree of anxiety, consulting the calendar, on which, every evening, he scratched out the day that was past. At the moment when Planchet, according to his daily custom, with the back of his pen, erased another day, D’Artagnan kicked the door with his foot, and the blow made his steel spur jingle. “Oh! good Lord!” cried Planchet. The worthy grocer could say no more; he had just perceived his partner. D’Artagnan entered with a bent back and a dull eye: the Gascon had an idea with regard to Planchet.

“Good God!” thought the grocer, looking earnestly at the traveler, “he looks sad!” The musketeer sat down.

“My dear Monsieur d’Artagnan!” said Planchet, with a horrible palpitation of the heart. “Here you are! and your health?”

“Tolerably good, Planchet, tolerably good!” said D’Artagnan, with a profound sigh.

“You have not been wounded, I hope?”

“Phew!”

“Ah, I see,” continued Planchet, more and more alarmed, “the expedition has been a trying one?”

“Yes,” said D’Artagnan. A shudder ran down Planchet’s back. “I should like to have something to drink,” said the musketeer, raising his head piteously.

Planchet ran to the cupboard, and poured out to D’Artagnan some wine in a large glass. D’Artagnan examined the bottle.

“What wine is that?” asked he.

“Alas! that which you prefer, monsieur,” said Planchet; “that good old Anjou wine, which was one day nearly costing us all so dear.”

“Ah!” replied D’Artagnan, with a melancholy smile, “Ah! my poor Planchet, ought I still to drink good wine?”

“Come! my dear master,” said Planchet, making a superhuman effort, whilst all his contracted muscles, his pallor, and his trembling, betrayed the most acute anguish. “Come! I have been a soldier and consequently have some courage; do not make me linger, dear Monsieur d’Artagnan; our money is lost, is it not?”

Before he answered, D’Artagnan took his time, and that appeared an age to the poor grocer. Nevertheless he did nothing but turn about on his chair.

“And if that were the case,” said he, slowly, moving his head up and down, “if that were the case, what would you say, my dear friend?”

Planchet, from being pale, turned yellow. It might have been thought he was going to swallow his tongue, so full became his throat, so red were his eyes!

“Twenty thousand livres!” murmured he. “Twenty thousand livres, and yet —- “

D’Artagnan, with his neck elongated, his legs stretched out, and his hands hanging listlessly, looked like a statue of discouragement. Planchet drew up a sigh from the deepest cavities of his breast.

“Well,” said he, “I see how it is. Let us be men! It is all over, is it not? The principal thing is, monsieur, that your life is safe.”

“Doubtless! doubtless! — life is something — but I am ruined!”

“Cordieu! monsieur!” said Planchet, “if it is so, we must not despair for that; you shall become a grocer with me; I shall take you for my partner, we will share the profits, and if there should be no more profits, well, why then we shall share the almonds, raisins and prunes, and we will nibble together the last quarter of Dutch cheese.”

D’Artagnan could hold out no longer. “Mordioux!” cried he, with great emotion, “thou art a brave fellow on my honor, Planchet. You have not been playing a part, have you? You have not seen the pack-horse with the bags under the shed yonder?”

“What horse? What bags?” said Planchet, whose trembling heart began to suggest that D’Artagnan was mad.

“Why, the English bags, Mordioux!” said D’Artagnan, all radiant, quite transfigured.

“Ah! good God!” articulated Planchet, drawing back before the dazzling fire of his looks.

“Imbecile!” cried D’Artagnan, “you think me mad! Mordioux! On the contrary, never was my head more clear, or my heart more joyous. To the bags, Planchet, to the bags!”

“But to what bags, good heavens!”

D’Artagnan pushed Planchet towards the window.

“Under the shed yonder, don’t you see a horse?”

“Yes.”

“Don’t you see how his back is laden?”

“Yes, yes!”

“Don’t you see your lad talking with the postilion?”

“Yes, yes, yes!”

“Well, you know the name of that lad, because he is your own. Call him.”

“Abdon! Abdon!” vociferated Planchet, from the window.

“Bring the horse!” shouted D’Artagnan.

“Bring the horse!” screamed Planchet.

“Now give ten crowns to the postilion,” said D’Artagnan, in the tone he would have employed in commanding a maneuver; “two lads to bring up the two first bags, two to bring up the two last, — and move, Mordioux! be lively!”

Planchet rushed down the stairs, as if the devil had been at his heels. A moment later the lads ascended the staircase, bending beneath their burden. D’Artagnan sent them off to their garrets, carefully closed the door, and addressing Planchet, who, in his turn, looked a little wild, —

“Now, we are by ourselves,” said he, and he spread upon the floor a large cover, and emptied the first bag into it. Planchet did the same with the second; then D’Artagnan, all in a tremble, let out the precious bowels of the third with a knife. When Planchet heard the provoking sound of the silver and gold — when he saw bubbling out of the bags the shining crowns, which glittered like fish from the sweep-net — when he felt himself plunging his hands up to the elbow in that still rising tide of yellow and white coins, a giddiness seized him, and like a man struck by lightning, he sank heavily down upon the enormous heap, which his weight caused to roll away in all directions. Planchet, suffocated with joy, had lost his senses. D’Artagnan threw a glass of white wine in his face, which incontinently recalled him to life.

“Ah! good heavens! good heavens! good heavens!” said Planchet, wiping his mustache and beard.

At that time, as they do now, grocers wore the cavalier mustache and the lansquenet beard, only the money baths, already rare in those days, have become almost unknown now.

“Mordieux!” said D’Artagnan, “there are a hundred thousand crowns for you, partner. Draw your share, if you please, and I will draw mine.”

“Oh! the lovely sum! Monsieur d’Artagnan, the lovely sum!”

“I confess that half an hour ago I regretted that I had to give you so much, but I now no longer regret it; thou art a brave grocer, Planchet. There, let us close our accounts, for, as they say, short reckonings make long friends.”

“Oh! rather, in the first place, tell me the whole history,” said Planchet; “that must be better than the money.”

“Ma foi!” said D’Artagnan, stroking his mustache, “I can’t say no, and if ever the historian turns to me for information, he will be able to say he has not dipped his bucket into a dry spring. Listen, then, Planchet, I will tell you all about it.”

“And I shall build piles of crowns,” said Planchet. “Begin, my dear master.”

“Well, this is it,” said D’Artagnan, drawing breath.

“And that is it,” said Planchet, picking up his first handful of crowns.

CHAPTER 39

Mazarin’s Gaming Party

In a large chamber of the Palais Royal, hung with a dark colored velvet, which threw into strong relief the gilded frames of a great number of magnificent pictures, on the evening of the arrival of the two Frenchmen, the whole court was assembled before the alcove of M. le Cardinal de Mazarin, who gave a card party to the king and queen.

A small screen separated three prepared tables. At one of these tables the king and the two queens were seated. Louis XIV., placed opposite to the young queen, his wife, smiled upon her with an expression of real happiness. Anne of Austria held the cards against the cardinal, and her daughter-in-law assisted her in the game, when she was not engaged in smiling at her husband. As for the cardinal, who was lying on his bed with a weary and careworn face, his cards were held by the Comtesse de Soissons, and he watched them with an incessant look of interest and cupidity.

The cardinal’s face had been painted by Bernouin; but the rouge, which glowed only on his cheeks, threw into stronger contrast the sickly pallor of his countenance and the shining yellow of his brow. His eyes alone acquired a more brilliant luster from this auxiliary, and upon those sick man’s eyes were, from time to time, turned the uneasy looks of the king, the queen, and the courtiers. The fact is, that the two eyes of the Signor Mazarin were the stars more or less brilliant in which the France of the seventeenth century read its destiny every evening and every morning.

Monseigneur neither won nor lost; he was, therefore neither gay nor sad. It was a stagnation in which, full of pity for him, Anne of Austria would not have willingly left him; but in order to attract the attention of the sick man by some brilliant stroke, she must have either won or lost. To win would have been dangerous, because Mazarin would have changed his indifference into an ugly grimace; to lose would likewise have been dangerous, because she must have cheated, and the infanta, who watched her game, would, doubtless, have exclaimed against her partiality for Mazarin. Profiting by this calm, the courtiers were chatting. When not in a bad humor, M. de Mazarin was a very debonnaire prince, and he, who prevented nobody from singing, provided they paid, was not tyrant enough to prevent people from talking, provided they made up their minds to lose.

They were therefore chatting. At the first table, the king’s younger brother, Philip, Duc d’Anjou, was admiring his handsome face in the glass of a box. His favorite, the Chevalier de Lorraine, leaning over the back of the prince’s chair, was listening, with secret envy, to the Comte de Guiche, another of Philip’s favorites, who was relating in choice terms the various vicissitudes of fortune of the royal adventurer Charles II. He told, as so many fabulous events, all the history of his perigrinations in Scotland, and his terrors when the enemy’s party was so closely on his track, of nights spent in trees, and days spent in hunger and combats. By degrees, the fate of the unfortunate king interested his auditors so greatly, that the play languished even at the royal table, and the young king, with a pensive look and downcast eye, followed, without appearing to give any attention to it, the smallest details of this Odyssey, very picturesquely related by the Comte de Guiche.

The Comtesse de Soissons interrupted the narrator: “Confess, count, you are inventing.”

“Madame, I am repeating like a parrot all the stories related to me by different Englishmen. To my shame I am compelled to say, I am as exact as a copy.”

“Charles II. would have died before he could have endured all that.”

Louis XIV. raised his intelligent and proud head. “Madame,” said he, in a grave tone, still partaking something of the timid child, “monsieur le cardinal will tell you that during my minority the affairs of France were in jeopardy, — and that if I had been older, and obliged to take sword in hand, it would sometimes have been for the evening meal.”

“Thanks to God,” said the cardinal, who spoke for the first time, “your majesty exaggerates, and your supper has always been ready with that of your servants.”

The king colored.

“Oh!” cried Philip, inconsiderately, from his place, and without ceasing to admire himself, — “I recollect once, at Melun, the supper was laid for nobody, and that the king ate two-thirds of a slice of bread, and abandoned to me the other third.”

The whole assembly, seeing Mazarin smile, began to laugh. Courtiers flatter kings with the remembrance of past distresses, as with the hopes of future good fortune.

“It is not to be denied that the crown of France has always remained firm upon the heads of its kings,” Anne of Austria hastened to say, “and that it has fallen off of that of the king of England; and when by chance that crown oscillated a little, — for there are throne-quakes as well as earthquakes, — every time, I say, that rebellion threatened it, a good victory restored tranquillity.”

“With a few gems added to the crown,” said Mazarin.

The Comte de Guiche was silent: the king composed his countenance, and Mazarin exchanged looks with Anne of Austria, as if to thank her for her intervention.

“It is of no consequence,” said Philip, smoothing his hair; “my cousin Charles is not handsome, but he is very brave, and fought like a landsknecht; and if he continues to fight thus, no doubt he will finish by gaining a battle, like Rocroy —- “

“He has no soldiers,” interrupted the Chevalier de Lorraine.

“The king of Holland, his ally, will give him some. I would willingly have given him some if I had been king of France.”

Louis XIV. blushed excessively. Mazarin affected to be more attentive to his game than ever.

“By this time,” resumed the Comte de Guiche, “the fortune of this unhappy prince is decided. If he has been deceived by Monk, he is ruined. Imprisonment, perhaps death, will finish what exile, battles, and privations have commenced.”

Mazarin’s brow became clouded.

“Is it certain,” said Louis XIV. “that his majesty Charles II., has quitted the Hague?”

“Quite certain, your majesty,” replied the young man; “my father has received a letter containing all the details; it is even known that the king has landed at Dover; some fishermen saw him entering the port; the rest is still a mystery.”

“I should like to know the rest,” said Philip, impetuously. “You know, — you, my brother.”

Louis XIV. colored again. That was the third time within an hour. “Ask my lord cardinal,” replied he, in a tone which made Mazarin, Anne of Austria, and everybody else open their eyes.

“That means, my son,” said Anne of Austria, laughing, “that the king does not like affairs of state to be talked of out of the council.”

Philip received the reprimand with good grace, and bowed, first smiling at his brother, and then his mother. But Mazarin saw from the corner of his eye that a group was about to be formed in the corner of the room, and that the Duc d’Anjou, with the Comte de Guiche, and the Chevalier de Lorraine, prevented from talking aloud, might say, in a whisper, what it was not convenient should be said. He was beginning, then, to dart at them glances full of mistrust and uneasiness, inviting Anne of Austria to throw perturbation in the midst of the unlawful assembly, when, suddenly, Bernouin, entering from behind the tapestry of the bedroom, whispered in the ear of Mazarin, “Monseigneur, an envoy from his majesty, the king of England.”

Mazarin could not help exhibiting a slight emotion, which was perceived by the king. To avoid being indiscreet, rather than to appear useless, Louis XIV. rose immediately, and approaching his eminence, wished him good-night. All the assembly had risen with a great noise of rolling of chairs and tables being pushed away.

“Let everybody depart by degrees,” said Mazarin in a whisper to Louis XIV., “and be so good as to excuse me a few minutes. I am going to dispatch an affair about which I wish to converse with your majesty this very evening.”

“And the queens?” asked Louis XIV.

“And M. le Duc d’Anjou,” said his eminence.

At the same time he turned round in his ruelle, the curtains of which, in falling, concealed the bed. The cardinal, nevertheless, did not lose sight of the conspirators.

“M. le Comte de Guiche,” said he, in a fretful voice, whilst putting on, behind the curtain, his dressing-gown, with the assistance of Bernouin.

“I am here, my lord,” said the young man, as he approached.

“Take my cards, you are lucky. Win a little money for me of these gentlemen.”

“Yes, my lord.”

The young man sat down at the table from which the king withdrew to talk with the two queens. A serious game was commenced between the comte and several rich courtiers. In the meantime Philip was discussing the questions of dress with the Chevalier de Lorraine, and they had ceased to hear the rustling of the cardinal’s silk robe from behind the curtain. His eminence had followed Bernouin into the closet adjoining the bedroom.

CHAPTER 40

An Affair of State

The cardinal, on passing into his cabinet, found the Comte de la Fere, who was waiting for him, engaged in admiring a very fine Raphael placed over a sideboard covered with plate. His eminence came in softly, lightly, and silently as a shadow, and surprised the countenance of the comte, as he was accustomed to do, pretending to divine by the simple expression of the face of his interlocutor what would be the result of the conversation.

But this time Mazarin was foiled in his expectation: he read nothing upon the face of Athos, not even the respect he was accustomed to see on all faces. Athos was dressed in black, with a simple lacing of silver. He wore the Holy Ghost, the Garter, and the Golden Fleece, three orders of such importance, that a king alone, or else a player, could wear them at once.

Mazarin rummaged a long time in his somewhat troubled memory to recall the name he ought to give to this icy figure, but he did not succeed. “I am told,” said he, at length, “you have a message from England for me.”

And he sat down, dismissing Bernouin, who, in his quality of secretary, was getting his pen ready.

“On the part of his majesty, the king of England, yes, your eminence.”

“You speak very good French for an Englishman monsieur,” said Mazarin, graciously, looking through his fingers at the Holy Ghost, Garter, and Golden Fleece, but more particularly at the face of the messenger.

“I am not an Englishman, but a Frenchman, monsieur le cardinal,” replied Athos.

“It is remarkable that the king of England should choose a Frenchman for his ambassador; it is an excellent augury. Your name, monsieur, if you please.”

“Comte de la Fere,” replied Athos, bowing more slightly than the ceremonial and pride of the all-powerful minister required.

Mazarin bent his shoulders, as if to say: —

“I do not know that name.”

Athos did not alter his carriage.

“And you come, monsieur,” continued Mazarin, “to tell me —- “

“I come on the part of his majesty the king of Great Britain to announce to the king of France” — Mazarin frowned — “to announce to the king of France,” continued Athos, imperturbably, “the happy restoration of his majesty Charles II. to the throne of his ancestors.”

This shade did not escape his cunning eminence. Mazarin was too much accustomed to mankind, not to see in the cold and almost haughty politeness of Athos, an index of hostility, which was not of the temperature of that hot-house called a court.

“You have powers. I suppose?” asked Mazarin, in a short, querulous tone.

“Yes, monseigneur.” And the word “monseigneur” came so painfully from the lips of Athos that it might be said it skinned them.

Athos took from an embroidered velvet bag which he carried under his doublet a dispatch. The cardinal held out his hand for it. “Your pardon, monseigneur,” said Athos. “My dispatch is for the king.”

“Since you are a Frenchman, monsieur, you ought to know the position of a prime minister at the court of France.”

“There was a time,” replied Athos, “when I occupied myself with the importance of prime ministers, but I have formed, long ago, a resolution to treat no longer with any but the king.”

“Then, monsieur,” said Mazarin, who began to be irritated, “you will neither see the minister nor the king.”

Mazarin rose. Athos replaced his dispatch in its bag, bowed gravely, and made several steps towards the door. This coolness exasperated Mazarin. “What strange diplomatic proceedings are these!” cried he. “Have we returned to the times when Cromwell sent us bullies in the guise of charges d’affaires? You want nothing monsieur, but the steel cap on your head, and a Bible at your girdle.”

“Monsieur,” said Athos, dryly, “I have never had, as you have, the advantage of treating with Cromwell; and I have only seen his charges d’affaires sword in hand, I am therefore ignorant of how he treated with prime ministers. As for the king of England, Charles II., I know that when he writes to his majesty King Louis XIV., he does not write to his eminence the Cardinal Mazarin. I see no diplomacy in that distinction.”

“Ah!” cried Mazarin, raising his attenuated hand and striking his head, “I remember now!” Athos looked at him in astonishment. “Yes, that is it!” said the cardinal, continuing to look at his interlocutor; “yes, that is certainly it. I know you now, monsieur. Ah! diavolo! I am no longer astonished.”

“In fact, I was astonished that, with your eminence’s excellent memory,” replied Athos, smiling, “you had not recognized me before.”

“Always refractory and grumbling — monsieur — monsieur — What do they call you? Stop — a name of a river — Potamos; no — the name of an island — Naxos; no, per Giove! — the name of a mountain — Athos! now I have it. Delighted to see you again, and to be no longer at Rueil, where you and your damned companions made me pay ransom. Fronde! still Fronde! accursed Fronde! Oh, what grudges! Why, monsieur, have your antipathies survived mine? If any one had cause to complain, I think it could not be you, who got out of the affair not only in a sound skin, but with the cordon of the Holy Ghost around your neck.”

“My lord cardinal,” replied Athos, “permit me not to enter into considerations of that kind. I have a mission to fulfill. Will you facilitate the means of my fulfilling that mission, or will you not?”

“I am astonished,” said Mazarin, — quite delighted at having recovered his memory, and bristling with malice — “I am astonished, Monsieur — Athos — that a Frondeur like you should have accepted a mission for the Mazarin, as used to be said in the good old times —- ” And Mazarin began to laugh, in spite of a painful cough, which cut short his sentences, converting them into sobs.

“I have only accepted the mission near the king of France, monsieur le cardinal,” retorted the comte, though with less asperity, for he thought he had sufficiently the advantage to show himself moderate.

“And yet, Monsieur le Frondeur,” said Mazarin gayly, “the affair which you have taken in charge must, from the king —- “

“With which I have been given in charge, monseigneur. I do not run after affairs.”

“Be it so. I say that this negotiation must pass through my hands. Let us lose no precious time, then. Tell me the conditions.”

“I have had the honor of assuring your eminence that only the letter of his majesty King Charles II. contains the revelation of his wishes.”

“Pooh! you are ridiculous with your obstinacy, Monsieur Athos. It is plain you have kept company with the Puritans yonder. As to your secret, I know it better than you do; and you have done wrongly, perhaps, in not having shown some respect for a very old and suffering man, who has labored much during his life, and kept the field for his ideas as bravely as you have for yours. You will not communicate your letter to me? You will say nothing to me? Very well! Come with me into my chamber; you shall speak to the king — and before the king. — Now, then, one last word: who gave you the Fleece? I remember you passed for having the Garter; but as to the Fleece, I do not know —- “

“Recently, my lord, Spain, on the occasion of the marriage of his majesty Louis XIV., sent King Charles II. a brevet of the Fleece in blank, Charles II. immediately transmitted it to me, filling up the blank with my name.”

Mazarin arose, and leaning on the arm of Bernouin, he returned to his ruelle at the moment the name of M. le Prince was being announced. The Prince de Conde, the first prince of the blood, the conqueror of Rocroy, Lens and Nordlingen, was, in fact, entering the apartment of Monseigneur de Mazarin, followed by his gentlemen, and had already saluted the king, when the prime minister raised his curtain. Athos had time to see Raoul pressing the hand of the Comte de Guiche, and send him a smile in return for his respectful bow. He had time, likewise, to see the radiant countenance of the cardinal, when he perceived before him, upon the table, an enormous heap of gold, which the Comte de Guiche had won in a run of luck, after his eminence had confided his cards to him. So forgetting ambassador, embassy and prince, his first thought was of the gold. “What!” cried the old man — “all that — won?”

“Some fifty thousand crowns; yes, monseigneur!” replied the Comte de Guiche, rising. “Must I give up my place to your eminence, or shall I continue?”

“Give up! give up! you are mad. You would lose all you have won. Peste!”

“My lord!” said the Prince de Conde, bowing.

“Good-evening, monsieur le prince,” said the minister, in a careless tone; “it is very kind of you to visit an old sick friend.”

“A friend!” murmured the Comte de la Fere, at witnessing with stupor this monstrous alliance of words; — “friends! when the parties are Conde and Mazarin!”

Mazarin seemed to divine the thought of the Frondeur, for he smiled upon him with triumph, and immediately, — “Sire,” said he to the king, “I have the honor of presenting to your majesty, Monsieur le Comte de la Fere, ambassador from his Britannic majesty. An affair of state, gentlemen,” added he, waving his hand to all who filled the chamber, and who, the Prince de Conde at their head, all disappeared at the simple gesture. Raoul, after a last look cast at the comte, followed M. de Conde. Philip of Anjou and the queen appeared to be consulting about departing.

“A family affair,” said Mazarin, suddenly, detaining them in their seats. “This gentleman is the bearer of a letter in which King Charles II., completely restored to his throne, demands an alliance between Monsieur, the brother of the king, and Mademoiselle Henrietta, grand-daughter of Henry IV. Will you remit your letter of credit to the king, monsieur le comte?”

Athos remained for a minute stupefied. How could the minister possibly know the contents of the letter which had never been out of his keeping for a single instant? Nevertheless, always master of himself, he held out the dispatch to the young king, Louis XIV., who took it with a blush. A solemn silence reigned in the cardinal’s chamber. It was only troubled by the dull sound of the gold, which Mazarin with his yellow dry hand, piled up in a casket, whilst the king was reading.

CHAPTER 41

The Recital

The maliciousness of the cardinal did not leave much for the ambassador to say; nevertheless, the word “restoration” had struck the king, who, addressing the comte, upon whom his eyes had been fixed since his entrance, — “Monsieur,” said he, “will you have the kindness to give us some details concerning the affairs of England. You come from that country, you are a Frenchman, and the orders which I see glittering upon your person announce you to be a man of merit as well as a man of quality.”

“Monsieur,” said the cardinal, turning towards the queen-mother, “is an ancient servant of your majesty’s, Monsieur le Comte de la Fere.”

Anne of Austria was as oblivious as a queen whose life had been mingled with fine and stormy days. She looked at Mazarin, whose evil smile promised her something disagreeable; then she solicited from Athos, by another look, an explanation.

“Monsieur,” continued the cardinal, “was a Treville musketeer, in the service of the late king. Monsieur is well acquainted with England, whither he has made several voyages at various periods; he is a subject of the highest merit.

These words made allusion to all the memories which Anne of Austria trembled to evoke. England, that was her hatred of Richelieu and her love for Buckingham; a Treville musketeer, that was the whole Odyssey of the triumphs which had made the heart of the young woman throb, and of the dangers which had been so near overturning the throne of the young queen. These words had much power, for they rendered mute and attentive all the royal personages, who, with very various sentiments, set about recomposing at the same time the mysteries which the young had not seen, and which the old had believed to be forever effaced.

“Speak, monsieur,” said Louis XIV., the first to escape from troubles, suspicions, and remembrances.

“Yes, speak,” added Mazarin, to whom the little malicious thrust directed against Anne of Austria had restored energy and gayety.

“Sire,” said the comte, “a sort of miracle has changed the whole destiny of Charles II. That which men, till that time, had been unable to do, God resolved to accomplish.”

Mazarin coughed while tossing about in his bed.

“King Charles II.,” continued Athos, “left the Hague neither as a fugitive nor a conqueror, but as an absolute king, who, after a distant voyage from his kingdom, returns amidst universal benedictions.”

“A great miracle, indeed,” said Mazarin; “for, if the news was true, King Charles II., who has just returned amidst benedictions, went away amidst musket-shots.”

The king remained impassible. Philip, younger and more frivolous, could not repress a smile, which flattered Mazarin as an applause of his pleasantry.

“It is plain,” said the king, “there is a miracle; but God, who does so much for kings, monsieur le comte, nevertheless employs the hand of man to bring about the triumph of His designs. To what men does Charles II. principally owe his re-establishment?”

“Why,” interrupted Mazarin, without any regard for the king’s pride — “does not your majesty know that it is to M. Monk?”

“I ought to know it,” replied Louis XIV., resolutely; “and yet I ask my lord ambassador the causes of the change in this General Monk?”

“And your majesty touches precisely the question,” replied Athos, “for without the miracle of which I have had the honor to speak, General Monk would probably have remained an implacable enemy of Charles II. God willed that a strange, bold, and ingenious idea should enter into the mind of a certain man, whilst a devoted and courageous idea took possession of the mind of another man. The combinations of these two ideas brought about such a change in the position of M. Monk, that, from an inveterate enemy, he became a friend to the deposed king.”

“These are exactly the details I asked for,” said the king. “Who and what are the two men of whom you speak?”

“Two Frenchmen, sire.”

“Indeed! I am glad of that.”

“And the two ideas,” said Mazarin; — “I am more curious about ideas than about men, for my part.”

“Yes,” murmured the king.

“The second idea, the devoted, reasonable idea — the least important, sir — was to go and dig up a million in gold, buried by King Charles I. at Newcastle, and to purchase with that gold the adherence of Monk.”

“Oh, oh!” said Mazarin, reanimated by the word million. “But Newcastle was at the time occupied by Monk.”

“Yes, monsieur le cardinal, and that is why I venture to call the idea courageous as well as devoted. It was necessary, if Monk refused the offers of the negotiator, to reinstate King Charles II. in possession of this million, which was to be torn, as it were, from the loyalty and not the royalism of General Monk. This was effected in spite of many difficulties: the general proved to be loyal, and allowed the money to be taken away.”

“It seems to me,” said the timid, thoughtful king, “that Charles II. could not have known of this million whilst he was in Paris.”

“It seems to me,” rejoined the cardinal, maliciously, “that his majesty the king of Great Britain knew perfectly well of this million, but that he preferred having two millions to having one.”

“Sire,” said Athos, firmly, “the king of England, whilst in France, was so poor that he had not even money to take the post; so destitute of hope that he frequently thought of dying. He was so entirely ignorant of the existence of the million at Newcastle, that but for a gentleman — one of your majesty’s subjects — the moral depositary of the million, who revealed the secret to King Charles II., that prince would still be vegetating in the most cruel forgetfulness.”

“Let us pass on to the strange, bold and ingenious idea,” interrupted Mazarin, whose sagacity foresaw a check. “What was that idea?”

“This — M. Monk formed the only obstacle to the re-establishment of the fallen king. A Frenchman imagined the idea of suppressing this obstacle.”

“Oh! oh! but he is a scoundrel, that Frenchman,” said Mazarin, “and the idea is not so ingenious as to prevent its author being tied up by the neck at the Place de Greve, by decree of the parliament.”

“Your eminence is mistaken,” replied Athos, dryly; “I did not say that the Frenchman in question had resolved to assassinate M. Monk, but only to suppress him. The words of the French language have a value which the gentlemen of France know perfectly. Besides, this is an affair of war; and when men serve kings against their enemies they are not to be condemned by a parliament — God is their judge. This French gentleman, then, formed the idea of gaining possession of the person of Monk, and he executed his plan.”

The king became animated at the recital of great actions. The king’s younger brother struck the table with his hand, exclaiming, “Ah! that is fine!”

“He carried off Monk?” said the king. “Why, Monk was in his camp.”

“And the gentleman was alone, sire.”

“That is marvelous!” said Philip.

“Marvelous, indeed!” cried the king.

“Good! There are the two little lions unchained,” murmured the cardinal. And with an air of spite, which he did not dissemble: “I am unacquainted with these details, will you guarantee their authenticity, monsieur?”

“All the more easily, my lord cardinal, from having seen the events.”

“You have?”

“Yes, monseigneur.”

The king had involuntarily drawn close to the count, the Duc d’Anjou had turned sharply round, and pressed Athos on the other side.

“What next? monsieur, what next?” cried they both at the same time.

“Sire, M. Monk, being taken by the Frenchman, was brought to King Charles II., at the Hague. The king gave back his freedom to Monk, and the grateful general, in return, gave Charles II. the throne of Great Britain, for which so many valiant men had fought in vain.”

Philip clapped his hands with enthusiasm; Louis XIV., more reflective, turned towards the Comte de la Fere.

“Is this true,” said he, “in all its details?”

“Absolutely true, sire.”

“That one of my gentlemen knew the secret of the million, and kept it?”

“Yes, sire.”

“The name of that gentleman?”

“It was your humble servant,” said Athos, simply, and bowing.

A murmur of admiration made the heart of Athos swell with pleasure. He had reason to be proud, at least. Mazarin, himself, had raised his arms towards heaven.

“Monsieur,” said the king, “I shall seek, and find means to reward you.” Athos made a movement. “Oh, not for your honesty, to be paid for that would humiliate you, but I owe you a reward for having participated in the restoration of my brother, King Charles II.”

“Certainly,” said Mazarin.

“It is the triumph of a good cause which fills the whole house of France with joy,” said Anne of Austria.

“I continue,” said Louis XIV. “Is it also true that a single man penetrated to Monk, in his camp, and carried him off?”

“That man had ten auxiliaries, taken from a very inferior rank.”

“And nothing but them?”

“Nothing more.”

“And he is named?”

“Monsieur d’Artagnan, formerly lieutenant of the musketeers of your majesty.”

Anne of Austria colored; Mazarin became yellow with shame; Louis XIV. was deeply thoughtful, and a drop of moisture fell from his pale brow. “What men!” murmured he. And, involuntarily, he darted a glance at the minister which would have terrified him, if Mazarin, at the moment, had not concealed his head under his pillow.

“Monsieur,” said the young Duc d’Anjou, placing his hand, delicate and white as that of a woman, upon the arm of Athos, “tell that brave man, I beg you, that Monsieur, brother of the king, will to-morrow drink his health before five hundred of the best gentlemen of France.” And, on finishing these words, the young man, perceiving that his enthusiasm had deranged one of his ruffles, set to work to put it to rights with the greatest care imaginable.

“Let us resume business, sire,” interrupted Mazarin who never was enthusiastic, and who wore no ruffles.

“Yes, monsieur,” replied Louis XIV. “Pursue your communication, monsieur le comte,” added he, turning towards Athos.

Athos immediately began and offered in due form the hand of the Princess Henrietta Stuart to the young prince, the king’s brother. The conference lasted an hour; after which the doors of the chamber were thrown open to the courtiers, who resumed their places as if nothing had been kept from them in the occupations of that evening. Athos then found himself again with Raoul, and the father and son were able to clasp each other’s hands.

CHAPTER 42

In which Mazarin becomes Prodigal

Whilst Mazarin was endeavoring to recover from the serious alarm he had just experienced, Athos and Raoul were exchanging a few words in a corner of the apartment. “Well, here you are at Paris, then, Raoul?” said the comte.

“Yes, monsieur, since the return of M. le Prince.”

“I cannot converse freely with you here, because we are observed; but I shall return home presently, and shall expect you as soon as your duty permits.”

Raoul bowed, and, at that moment, M. le Prince came up to them. The prince had that clear and keen look which distinguishes birds of prey of the noble species; his physiognomy itself presented several distinct traits of this resemblance. It is known that in the Prince de Conde, the aquiline nose rose out sharply and incisively from a brow slightly retreating, rather low than high, and according to the railers of the court, — a pitiless race even for genius, — constituted rather an eagle’s beak than a human nose, in the heir of the illustrious princes of the house of Conde. This penetrating look, this imperious expression of the whole countenance generally disturbed those to whom the prince spoke, more than either majesty or regular beauty could have done in the conqueror of Rocroy. Besides this, the fire mounted so suddenly to his projecting eyes, that with the prince every sort of animation resembled passion. Now, on account of his rank, everybody at the court respected M. le Prince, and many even, seeing only the man, carried their respect as far as terror.

Louis de Conde then advanced towards the Comte de la Fere and Raoul, with the marked intention of being saluted by the one, and of speaking to the other. No man bowed with more reserved grace than the Comte de la Fere. He disdained to put into a salutation all the shades which a courtier ordinarily borrows from the same color — the desire to please. Athos knew his own personal value, and bowed to the prince like a man, correcting by something sympathetic and undefinable that which might have appeared offensive to the pride of the highest rank in the inflexibility of his attitude. The prince was about to speak to Raoul. Athos forestalled him. “If M. le Vicomte de Bragelonne,” said he, “were not one of the humble servants of your royal highness, I would beg him to pronounce my name before you — mon prince.”

“I have the honor to address Monsieur le Comte de la Fere,” said Conde instantly.

“My protector,” added Raoul, blushing.

“One of the most honorable men in the kingdom,” continued the prince; “one of the first gentlemen of France, and of whom I have heard so much that I have frequently desired to number him among my friends.”

“An honour of which I should be unworthy,” replied Athos, “but for the respect and admiration I entertain for your royal highness.”

“Monsieur de Bragelonne,” said the prince, “is a good officer, and it is plainly seen that he has been to a good school. Ah, monsieur le comte, in your time, generals had soldiers!”

“That is true, my lord, but nowadays soldiers have generals.”

This compliment, which savored so little of flattery, gave a thrill of joy to the man whom already Europe considered a hero; and who might be thought to be satiated with praise.

“I regret very much,” continued the prince, “that you should have retired from the service, monsieur le comte, for it is more than probable that the king will soon have a war with Holland or England, and opportunities for distinguishing himself would not be wanting for a man who, like you, knows Great Britain as well as you do France.”

“I believe I may say, monseigneur, that I have acted wisely in retiring from the service,” said Athos, smiling. “France and Great Britain will henceforward live like two sisters, if I can trust my presentiments.”

“Your presentiments?”

“Stop, monseigneur, listen to what is being said yonder, at the table of my lord the cardinal.”

“Where they are playing?”

“Yes, my lord.”

The cardinal had just raised himself on one elbow, and made a sign to the king’s brother, who went to him.

“My lord,” said the cardinal, “pick up, if you please, all those gold crowns.” And he pointed to the enormous pile of yellow and glittering pieces which the Comte de Guiche had raised by degrees before him by a surprising run of luck at play.

“For me?” cried the Duc d’Anjou.

“Those fifty thousand crowns; yes, monseigneur, they are yours.”

“Do you give them to me?”

“I have been playing on your account, monseigneur,” replied the cardinal, getting weaker and weaker, as if this effort of giving money had exhausted all his physical and moral faculties.

“Oh, good heavens!” exclaimed Philip, wild with joy, “what a fortunate day!” And he himself, making a rake of his fingers, drew a part of the sum into his pockets, which he filled, and still full a third remained on the table.

“Chevalier,” said Philip to his favorite, the Chevalier de Lorraine, “come hither, chevalier.” The favorite quickly obeyed. “Pocket the rest,” said the young prince.

This singular scene was considered by the persons present only as a touching kind of family fete. The cardinal assumed the airs of a father with the sons of France, and the two young princes had grown up under his wing. No one then imputed to pride, or even impertinence, as would be done nowadays, this liberality on the part of the first minister. The courtiers were satisfied with envying the prince. — The king turned away his head.

“I never had so much money before,” said the young prince, joyously, as he crossed the chamber with his favorite to go to his carriage. “No, never! What a weight these crowns are!”

“But why has monsieur le cardinal given all this money at once?” asked M. le Prince of the Comte de la Fere. “He must be very ill, the dear cardinal!”

“Yes, my lord, very ill; without doubt; he looks very ill, as your royal highness may perceive.”

“But surely he will die of it. A hundred and fifty thousand crowns! Oh, it is incredible! But, comte tell me a reason for it?”

“Patience, monseigneur, I beg of you. Here comes M. le Duc d’Anjou, talking with the Chevalier de Lorraine; I should not be surprised if they spared us the trouble of being indiscreet. Listen to them.”

In fact the chevalier said to the prince in a low voice, “My lord, it is not natural for M. Mazarin to give you so much money. Take care! you will let some of the pieces fall, my lord. What design has the cardinal upon you to make him so generous?”

“As I said,” whispered Athos in the prince’s ear; “that, perhaps, is the best reply to your question.”

“Tell me, my lord,” repeated the chevalier impatiently, as he was calculating, by weighing them in his pocket, the quota of the sum which had fallen to his share by rebound.

“My dear chevalier, a wedding present.”

“How a wedding present?”

“Eh! yes, I am going to be married,” replied the Duc d’Anjou, without perceiving, at the moment, he was passing the prince and Athos, who both bowed respectfully.

The chevalier darted at the young duke a glance so strange, and so malicious, that the Comte de la Fere quite started on beholding it.

“You! you to be married!” repeated he; “oh! that’s impossible. You would not commit such a folly!”

“Bah! I don’t do it myself; I am made to do it,” replied the Duc d’Anjou. “But come, quick! let us get rid of our money.” Thereupon he disappeared with his companion, laughing and talking, whilst all heads were bowed on his passage.

“Then,” whispered the prince to Athos, “that is the secret.”

“It was not I that told you so, my lord.”

“He is to marry the sister of Charles II.?”

“I believe so.”

The prince reflected for a moment, and his eye shot forth one of its not unfrequent flashes. “Humph!” said he slowly, as if speaking to himself; “our swords are once more to be hung on the wall — for a long time!” and he sighed.

All that sigh contained of ambition silently stifled, of extinguished illusions and disappointed hopes, Athos alone divined, for he alone had heard that sigh. Immediately after, the prince took leave and the king left the apartment. Athos, by a sign made to Bragelonne, renewed the desire he had expressed at the beginning of the scene. By degrees the chamber was deserted, and Mazarin was left alone, a prey to suffering which he could no longer dissemble. “Bernouin! Bernouin!” cried he, in a broken voice.

“What does monseigneur want?”

“Guenaud — let Guenaud be sent for,” said his eminence. “I think I’m dying.”

Bernouin, in great terror, rushed into the cabinet to give the order, and the piqueur, who hastened to fetch the physician, passed the king’s carriage in the Rue Saint Honore.

CHAPTER 43

Guenaud

The cardinal’s order was pressing; Guenaud quickly obeyed it. He found his patient stretched on his bed, his legs swelled, his face livid, and his stomach collapsed. Mazarin had a severe attack of gout. He suffered tortures with the impatience of a man who has not been accustomed to resistances. On seeing Guenaud: “Ah!” said he; “now I am saved!”

Guenaud was a very learned and circumspect man, who stood in no need of the critiques of Boileau to obtain a reputation. When facing a disease, if it were personified in a king, he treated the patient as a Turk treats a Moor. He did not, therefore, reply to Mazarin as the minister expected: “Here is the doctor; good-bye disease!” On the contrary, on examining his patient, with a very serious air:

“Oh! oh!” said he.

“Eh! what! Guenaud! How you look at me!”

“I look as I should on seeing your complaint, my lord; it is a very dangerous one.”

“The gout — oh! yes, the gout.”

“With complications, my lord”

Mazarin raised himself upon his elbow, and, questioning by look and gesture: “What do you mean by that? Am I worse than I believe myself to be?”

“My lord,” said Guenaud, seating himself beside the bed, “your eminence has worked very hard during your life; your eminence has suffered much.”

“But I am not old, I fancy. The late M. de Richelieu was but seventeen months younger than I am when he died, and died of a mortal disease. I am young, Guenaud: remember, I am scarcely fifty-two.”

“Oh! my lord, you are much more than that. How long did the Fronde last?”

“For what purpose do you put such a question to me?”

“For a medical calculation, monseigneur.”

“Well, some ten years — off and on.”

“Very well, be kind enough to reckon every year of the Fronde as three years — that makes thirty; now twenty and fifty-two makes seventy-two years. You are seventy-two, my lord; and that is a great age.”

Whilst saying this, he felt the pulse of his patient. This pulse was full of such fatal indications, that the physician continued, notwithstanding the interruptions of the patient: “Put down the years of the Fronde at four each, and you have lived eighty-two years.”

“Are you speaking seriously, Guenaud?”

“Alas! yes, monseigneur.”

“You take a roundabout way, then, to inform me that I am very ill?”

“Ma foi! yes, my lord, and with a man of the mind and courage of your eminence, it ought not to be necessary to do.”

The cardinal breathed with such difficulty that he inspired pity even in a pitiless physician. “There are diseases and diseases,” resumed Mazarin. “From some of them people escape.”

“That is true, my lord.”

“Is it not?” cried Mazarin, almost joyously; “for, in short, what else would be the use of power, of strength of will? What would the use of genius be — your genius, Guenaud? What would be the use of science and art, if the patient, who disposes of all that, cannot be saved from peril?”

Guenaud was about to open his mouth, but Mazarin continued:

“Remember,” said he, “I am the most confiding of your patients; remember I obey you blindly, and that consequently —- “

“I know all that,” said Guenaud.

“I shall be cured, then?”

“Monseigneur, there is neither strength of will, nor power, nor genius, nor science that can resist a disease which God doubtless sends, or which He casts upon the earth at the creation, with full power to destroy and kill mankind. When the disease is mortal, it kills, and nothing can —- “

“Is — my — disease — mortal?” asked Mazarin.

“Yes, my lord.”

His eminence sank down for a moment, like an unfortunate wretch who is crushed by a falling column. But the spirit of Mazarin was a strong one, or rather his mind was a firm one. “Guenaud,” said he, recovering from his first shock, “you will permit me to appeal from your judgment. I will call together the most learned men of Europe: I will consult them. I will live, in short, by the virtue of I care not what remedy.”

“My lord must not suppose,” said Guenaud, “that I have the presumption to pronounce alone upon an existence so valuable as yours. I have already assembled all the good physicians and practitioners of France and Europe. There were twelve of them.”

“And they said —- “

“They said that your eminence was suffering from a mortal disease; I have the consultation signed in my portfolio. If your eminence will please to see it, you will find the names of all the incurable diseases we have met with. There is first —- “

“No, no!” cried Mazarin, pushing away the paper. “No, no, Guenaud, I yield! I yield!” And a profound silence, during which the cardinal resumed his senses and recovered his strength, succeeded to the agitation of this scene. “There is another thing,” murmured Mazarin; “there are empirics and charlatans. In my country, those whom physicians abandon run the chance of a quack, who kills them ten times but saves them a hundred times.”

“Has not your eminence observed, that during the last month I have changed my remedies ten times?”

“Yes. Well?”

“Well, I have spent fifty thousand crowns in purchasing the secrets of all these fellows: the list is exhausted, and so is my purse. You are not cured; and but for my art, you would be dead.”

“That ends it!” murmured the cardinal; “that ends it.” And he threw a melancholy look upon the riches which surrounded him. “And must I quit all that?” sighed he. “I am dying, Guenaud! I am dying!”

“Oh! not yet, my lord,” said the physician.

Mazarin seized his hand. “In what time?” asked he, fixing his two large eyes upon the impassible countenance of the physician.

“My lord, we never tell that.”

“To ordinary men, perhaps not; — but to me — to me, whose every minute is worth a treasure. Tell me, Guenaud, tell me!”

“No, no, my lord.”

“I insist upon it, I tell you. Oh! give me a month and for every one of those thirty days I will pay you a hundred thousand crowns.”

“My lord,” replied Guenaud, in a firm voice, “it is God who can give you days of grace, and not I. God only allows you a fortnight.”

The cardinal breathed a painful sigh, and sank back upon his pillow, murmuring, “Thank you, Guenaud, thank you!”

The physician was about to depart; the dying man, raising himself up: “Silence!” said he, with flaming eyes, “silence!”

“My lord, I have known this secret two months; you see that I have kept it faithfully.”

“Go, Guenaud, I will take care of your fortunes, go and tell Brienne to send me a clerk called M. Colbert. Go!”

CHAPTER 44

Colbert

Colbert was not far off. During the whole evening he had remained in one of the corridors, chatting with Bernouin and Brienne, and commenting, with the ordinary skill of people of a court, upon the news which developed like air-bubbles upon the water, on the surface of each event. It is doubtless time to trace, in a few words, one of the most interesting portraits of the age, and to trace it with as much truth, perhaps, as contemporary painters have been able to do. Colbert was a man in whom the historian and the moralist have an equal right.

He was thirteen years older than Louis XIV., his future master. Of middle height, rather lean than otherwise, he had deep-set eyes, a mean appearance, his hair was coarse, black and thin, which, say the biographers of his time, made him take early to the skull-cap. A look of severity, or harshness even, a sort of stiffness, which, with inferiors, was pride, with superiors an affectation of superior virtue; a surly cast of countenance upon all occasions, even when looking at himself in a glass alone — such is the exterior of this personage. As to the moral part of his character, the depth of his talent for accounts, and his ingenuity in making sterility itself productive, were much boasted of. Colbert had formed the idea of forcing governors of frontier places to feed the garrisons without pay, with what they drew from contributions. Such a valuable quality made Mazarin think of replacing Joubert, his intendant, who had recently died, by M. Colbert, who had such skill in nibbling down allowances. Colbert by degrees crept into court, notwithstanding his lowly birth, for he was the son of a man who sold wine as his father had done, but who afterwards sold cloth, and then silk stuffs. Colbert, destined for trade, had been clerk in Lyons to a merchant, whom he had quitted to come to Paris in the office of a Chatelet procureur named Biterne. It was here he learned the art of