The Vicomte de Bragelonne
Alexandre Dumas, Pere
Part 3 out of 13
forget me in your prayers. Now, I am going alone, and beg of you not to
accompany me, or have me accompanied any further."
The officer bowed and sent away the musketeers into the interior of the
palace. But he himself remained an instant under the porch watching the
departing Charles II., till he was lost in the turn of the next street.
"To him as to his father formerly," murmured he, "Athos, if he were here,
would say with reason, - 'Salute fallen majesty!'" Then, reascending the
staircase: "Oh! the vile service that I follow!" said he at every step.
"Oh! my pitiful master! Life thus carried on is no longer tolerable, and
it is at length time that I should do something! No more generosity, no
more energy! The master has succeeded, the pupil is starved forever.
_Mordioux!_ I will not resist. Come, you men," continued he, entering
the ante-chamber, "why are you all looking at me so? Extinguish these
torches and return to your posts. Ah! you were guarding me? Yes, you
watch over me, do you not, worthy fellows? Brave fools! I am not the
Duc de Guise. Begone! They will not assassinate me in the little
passage. Besides," added he, in a low voice, "that would be a
resolution, and no resolutions have been formed since Monsieur le
Cardinal Richelieu died. Now, with all his faults, that was a man! It
is settled: to-morrow I will throw my cassock to the nettles."
Then, reflecting: "No," said he, "not yet! I have one great trial to
make and I will make it; but that, and I swear it, shall be the last,
He had not finished speaking when a voice issued from the king's
chamber. "Monsieur le lieutenant!" said this voice.
"Here I am," replied he.
"The king desires to speak to you."
"Humph!" said the lieutenant; "perhaps of what I was thinking about."
And he went into the king's apartment.
The King and the Lieutenant.
As soon as the king saw the officer enter, he dismissed his _valet de
chambre_ and his gentleman.
"Who is on duty to-morrow, monsieur?" asked he.
The lieutenant bowed his head with military politeness, and replied, "I
"What! still you?"
"Always I, sire."
"How can that be, monsieur?"
"Sire, when traveling, the musketeers supply all the posts of your
majesty's household; that is to say, yours, her majesty the queen's, and
monsieur le cardinal's, the latter of whom borrows of the king the best
part, or rather the numerous part, of the royal guard."
"But in the interims?"
"There are no interims, sire, but for twenty or thirty men who rest out
of a hundred and twenty. At the Louvre it is very different, and if I
were at the Louvre I should rely upon my brigadier; but, when traveling,
sire, no one knows what may happen, and I prefer doing my duty myself."
"Then you are on guard every day?"
"And every night. Yes, sire."
"Monsieur, I cannot allow that - I will have you rest."
"That is very kind, sire; but I will not."
"What do you say?" said the king, who did not at first comprehend the
full meaning of this reply.
"I say, sire, that I will not expose myself to the chance of a fault. If
the devil had a trick to play on me, you understand, sire, as he knows
the man with whom he has to deal, he would chose the moment when I should
not be there. My duty and the peace of my conscience before everything,
"But such duty will kill you, monsieur."
"Eh! sire, I have performed it for thirty years, and in all France and
Navarre there is not a man in better health than I am. Moreover, I
entreat you, sire, not to trouble yourself about me. That would appear
very strange to me, seeing that I am not accustomed to it."
The king cut short the conversation by a fresh question. "Shall you be
here, then, to-morrow morning?"
"As at present? yes, sire."
The king walked several times up and down his chamber; it was very plain
that he burned with a desire to speak, but that he was restrained by some
fear or other. The lieutenant, standing motionless, hat in hand, watched
him making these evolutions, and, whilst looking at him, grumbled to
himself, biting his mustache:
"He has not half a crown worth of resolution! _Parole d'honneur!_ I
would lay a wager he does not speak at all!"
The king continued to walk about, casting from time to time a side glance
at the lieutenant. "He is the very image of his father," continued the
latter, in is secret soliloquy, "he is at once proud, avaricious, and
timid. The devil take his master, say I."
The king stopped. "Lieutenant," said he.
"I am here, sire."
"Why did you cry out this evening, down below in the _salons_ - 'The
king's service! His majesty's musketeers!'"
"Because you gave me the order, sire."
"Indeed, I did not say a word, monsieur."
"Sire, an order is given by a sign, by a gesture, by a glance, as
intelligibly, as freely, and as clearly as by word of mouth. A servant
who has nothing but ears is not half a good servant."
"Your eyes are very penetrating, then, monsieur."
"How is that, sire?"
"Because they see what is not."
"My eyes are good, though, sire, although they have served their
master long and much: when they have anything to see, they seldom miss
the opportunity. Now, this evening, they saw that your majesty colored
with endeavoring to conceal the inclination to yawn, that your majesty
looked with eloquent supplications, first to his eminence, and then at
her majesty, the queen-mother, and at length to the entrance door, and
they so thoroughly remarked all I have said, that they saw your majesty's
lips articulate these words: 'Who will get me out of this?'"
"Or something to this effect, sire - 'My musketeers!' I could then no
longer hesitate. That look was for me. I cried out instantly, 'His
majesty's musketeers!' And, besides, that was shown to be true, sire,
not only by your majesty's not saying I was wrong, but proving I was
right by going out at once."
The king turned away to smile; then, after a few seconds, he again fixed
his limpid eye upon that countenance, so intelligent, so bold, and so
firm, that it might have been said to be the proud and energetic profile
of the eagle facing the sun. "That is all very well," said he, after a
short silence, during which he endeavored, in vain, to make his officer
lower his eyes.
But seeing the king said no more, the latter pirouetted on his heels, and
took three steps towards the door, muttering, "He will not speak!
_Mordioux!_ he will not speak!"
"Thank you, monsieur," said the king at last.
"Humph!" continued the lieutenant; "there was only wanting that. Blamed
for having been less of a fool than another might have been." And he
went to the door, allowing his spurs to jingle in true military style.
But when he was on the threshold, feeling the king's desire drew him
back, he returned.
"Has your majesty told me all?" asked he, in a tone we cannot describe,
but which, without appearing to solicit the royal confidence, contained
so much persuasive frankness, that the king immediately replied:
"Yes; but draw near, monsieur."
"Now then," murmured the officer, "he is coming to it at last."
"Listen to me."
"I shall not lose a word, sire."
"You will mount on horseback to-morrow, at about half-past four in the
morning, and you will have a horse saddled for me."
"From your majesty's stables?"
"No; one of your musketeers' horses."
"Very well, sire. Is that all?"
"And you will accompany me."
"Shall I come to seek your majesty, or shall I wait?"
"You will wait for me."
"At the little park-gate."
The lieutenant bowed, understanding that the king had told him all he
had to say. In fact, the king dismissed him with a gracious wave of the
hand. The officer left the chamber of the king, and returned to place
himself philosophically in his _fauteuil_, where, far from sleeping, as
might have been expected, considering how late it was, he began to
reflect more deeply than he had ever reflected before. The result of
these reflections was not so melancholy as the preceding ones had been.
"Come, he has begun," said he. "Love urges him on, and he goes forward –
he goes forward! The king is nobody in his own palace; but the man
perhaps may prove to be worth something. Well, we shall see to-morrow
morning. Oh! oh!" cried he, all at once starting up, "that is a gigantic
idea, _mordioux!_ and perhaps my fortune depends, at least, upon that
idea!" After this exclamation, the officer arose and marched, with his
hands in the pockets of his _justaucorps_, about the immense ante-chamber
that served him as an apartment. The wax-light flamed furiously under
the effects of a fresh breeze, which stole in through the chinks of the
door and the window, and cut the _salle_ diagonally. It threw out a
reddish, unequal light, sometimes brilliant, sometimes dull, and the tall
shadow of the lieutenant was seen marching on the wall, in profile, like
a figure by Callot, with his long sword and feathered hat.
"Certainly!" said he, "I am mistaken if Mazarin is not laying a snare for
this amorous boy. Mazarin, this evening, gave an address, and made an
appointment as complacently as M. Daangeau himself could have done - I
heard him, and I know the meaning of his words. 'To-morrow morning,'
said he, 'they will pass opposite the bridge of Blois.' _Mordioux!_ that
is clear enough, and particularly for a lover. That is the cause of this
embarrassment; that is the cause of this hesitation; that is the cause of
this order - 'Monsieur the lieutenant of my musketeers, be on horseback
to-morrow at four o'clock in the morning.' Which is as clear as if he
had said, - 'Monsieur the lieutenant of my musketeers, to-morrow, at
four, at the bridge of Blois, - do you understand?' Here is a state
secret, then, which I, humble as I am, have in my possession, while it
is in action. And how do I get it? Because I have good eyes, as his
majesty just now said. They say he loves this little Italian doll
furiously. They say he threw himself at his mother's feet, to beg her to
allow him to marry her. They say the queen went so far as to consult the
court of Rome, whether such a marriage, contracted against her will,
would be valid. Oh, if I were but twenty-five! If I had by my side
those I no longer have! If I did not despise the whole world most
profoundly, I would embroil Mazarin with the queen-mother, France with
Spain, and I would make a queen after my own fashion. But let that
pass." And the lieutenant snapped his fingers in disdain.
"This miserable Italian - this poor creature - this sordid wretch - who
has just refused the king of England a million, would not perhaps give
me a thousand pistoles for the news I would carry him. _Mordioux!_ I
am falling into second childhood - I am becoming stupid indeed! The idea
of Mazarin giving anything! ha! ha! ha!" and he laughed in a subdued
"Well, let us go to sleep - let us go to sleep; and the sooner the
better. My mind is wearied with my evening's work, and will see things
to-morrow more clearly than to-day."
And upon this recommendation, made to himself, he folded his cloak around
him, looking with contempt upon his royal neighbor. Five minutes after
this he was asleep, with his hands clenched and his lips apart, giving
escape, not to his secret, but to a sonorous sound, which rose and spread
freely beneath the majestic roof of the ante-chamber.
Mary de Mancini.
The sun had scarcely shed its first beams on the majestic trees of the
park and the lofty turrets of the castle, when the young king, who had
been awake more than two hours, possessed by the sleeplessness of love,
opened his shutters himself, and cast an inquiring look into the courts
of the sleeping palace. He saw that it was the hour agreed upon: the
great court clock pointed to a quarter past four. He did not disturb his
_valet de chambre_, who was sleeping soundly at some distance; he dressed
himself, and the valet, in a great fright, sprang up, thinking he had
been deficient in his duty; but the king sent him back again, commanding
him to preserve the most absolute silence. He then descended the little
staircase, went out at a lateral door, and perceived at the end of the
wall a mounted horseman, holding another horse by the bridle. This
horseman could not be recognized in his cloak and slouched hat. As to
the horse, saddled like that of a rich citizen, it offered nothing
remarkable to the most experienced eye. Louis took the bridle: the
officer held the stirrup without dismounting, and asked his majesty's
orders in a low voice.
"Follow me," replied the king.
The officer put his horse to the trot, behind that of his master, and
they descended the hill towards the bridge. When they reached the other
side of the Loire, -
"Monsieur," said the king, "you will please to ride on till you see a
carriage coming; then return and inform me. I will wait here."
"Will your majesty deign to give me some description of the carriage I am
charged to discover?"
"A carriage in which you will see two ladies, and probably their
"Sire, I should not wish to make a mistake; is there no other sign by
which I may know this carriage?"
"It will bear, in all probability, the arms of monsieur le cardinal."
"That is sufficient, sire," replied the officer, fully instructed in the
object of his search. He put his horse to the trot, and rode sharply on
in the direction pointed out by the king. But he had scarcely gone five
hundred paces when he saw four mules, and then a carriage, loom up from
behind a little hill. Behind this carriage came another. It required
only one glance to assure him that these were the equipages he was in
search of; he therefore turned his bridle, and rode back to the king.
"Sire," said he, "here are the carriages. The first, as you said,
contains two ladies with their _femmes de chambre_; the second contains
the footmen, provisions, and necessaries."
"That is well," replied the king in an agitated voice. "Please to go and
tell those ladies that a cavalier of the court wishes to pay his respects
to them alone."
The officer set off at a gallop. "_Mordioux!_" said he, as he rode on,
"here is a new and honorable employment, I hope! I complained of being
nobody. I am the king's confidant: that is enough to make a musketeer
burst with pride."
He approached the carriage, and delivered his message gallantly and
intelligently. There were two ladies in the carriage: one of great
beauty, although rather thin; the other less favored by nature, but
lively, graceful, and uniting in the delicate lines of her brow all the
signs of a strong will. Her eyes, animated and piercing, in particular,
spoke more eloquently than all the amorous phrases in fashion in those
days of gallantry. It was to her D'Artagnan addressed himself, without
fear of being mistaken, although the other was, as we have said, the more
handsome of the two.
"Madame," said he, "I am the lieutenant of the musketeers, and there is
on the road a horseman who awaits you, and is desirous of paying his
respects to you."
At these words, the effect of which he watched closely, the lady with the
black eyes uttered a cry of joy, leant out of the carriage window, and
seeing the cavalier approaching, held out her arms, exclaiming:
"Ah, my dear sire!" and the tears gushed from her eyes.
The coachman stopped his team; the women rose in confusion from the back
of the carriage, and the second lady made a slight curtsey, terminated by
the most ironical smile that jealousy ever imparted to the lips of woman.
"Marie, dear Marie," cried the king, taking the hand of the black-eyed
lady in both his. And opening the heavy door himself, he drew her out of
the carriage with so much ardor, that she was in his arms before she
touched the ground. The lieutenant, posted on the other side of the
carriage, saw and heard all without being observed.
The king offered his arm to Mademoiselle de Mancini, and made a sign to
the coachman and lackeys to proceed. It was nearly six o'clock; the road
was fresh and pleasant; tall trees with their foliage still inclosed in
the golden down of their buds, let the dew of morning filter from their
trembling branches, like liquid diamonds; the grass was bursting at the
foot of the hedges; the swallows having returned only a few days since,
described their graceful curves between the heavens and the water; a
breeze, laden with the perfumes of the blossoming woods, sighed along the
road, and wrinkled the surface of the waters of the river; all these
beauties of the day, all these perfumes of the plants, all these
aspirations of the earth towards heaven, intoxicated the two lovers,
walking side by side, leaning upon each other, eyes fixed upon eyes, hand
clasping hand, and who, lingering as by a common desire, did not dare
to speak, they had so much to say.
The officer saw that the king's horse, in wandering this way and that,
annoyed Mademoiselle de Mancini. He took advantage of the pretext of
securing the horse to draw near them, and dismounting, walked between the
two horses he led; he did not lose a single word or gesture of the
lovers. It was Mademoiselle de Mancini who at length began.
"Ah, my dear sire!" said she, "you do not abandon me, then?"
"No, Marie," replied the king; "you see I do not."
"I had so often been told, though, that as soon as we should be separated
you would no longer think of me."
"Dear Marie, is it then to-day only that you have discovered we are
surrounded by people interested in deceiving us?"
"But then, sire, this journey, this alliance with Spain? They are going
to marry you off!"
Louis hung his head. At the same time the officer could see the eyes of
Marie de Mancini shine in the sun with the brilliancy of a dagger
starting from its sheath. "And you have done nothing in favor of our
love?" asked the girl, after a silence of a moment.
"Ah! mademoiselle, how could you believe that? I threw myself at the
feet of my mother; I begged her, I implored her; I told her all my hopes
of happiness were in you; I even threatened - "
"Well?" asked Marie, eagerly.
"Well, the queen-mother wrote to the court of Rome, and received as
answer, that a marriage between us would have no validity, and would
be dissolved by the holy father. At length, finding there was no hope
for us, I requested to have my marriage with the infanta at least
"And yet that does not prevent your being on the road to meet her?"
"How can I help it? To my prayers, to my supplications, to my tears, I
received no answer but reasons of state."
"Well, what is to be done, mademoiselle, when so many wills are leagued
It was now Marie's turn to hang her head. "Then I must bid you adieu
forever," said she. "You know that I am being exiled; you know that I am
going to be buried alive; you know still more that they want to marry me
Louis became very pale, and placed his hand upon his heart.
"If I had thought that my life only had been at stake, I have been so
persecuted that I might have yielded; but I thought yours was concerned,
my dear sire, and I stood out for the sake of preserving your happiness."
"Oh, yes! my happiness, my treasure!" murmured the king, more gallantly
than passionately, perhaps.
"The cardinal might have yielded," said Marie, "if you had addressed
yourself to him, if you had pressed him. For the cardinal to call the
king of France his nephew! do you not perceive, sire? He would have made
war even for that honor; the cardinal, assured of governing alone, under
the double pretext of having brought up the king and given his niece to
him in marriage - the cardinal would have fought all antagonists,
overcome all obstacles. Oh, sire! I can answer for that. I am a woman,
and I see clearly into everything where love is concerned."
These words produced a strange effect upon the king. Instead of
heightening his passion, they cooled it. He stopped, and said
"What is to be said, mademoiselle? Everything has failed."
"Except your will, I trust, my dear sire?"
"Alas!" said the king, coloring, "have I a will?"
"Oh!" said Mademoiselle de Mancini mournfully, wounded by that expression.
"The king has no will but that which policy dictates, but that which
reasons of state impose upon him."
"Oh! it is because you have no love," cried Mary; "if you loved, sire,
you would have a will."
On pronouncing these words, Mary raised her eyes to her lover, whom she
saw more pale and more cast down than an exile who is about to quit his
native land forever. "Accuse me," murmured the king, "but do not say I
do not love you."
A long silence followed these words, which the young king had pronounced
with a perfectly true and profound feeling. "I am unable to think that
to-morrow, and after to-morrow, I shall see you no more; I cannot think
that I am going to end my sad days at a distance from Paris; that the
lips of an old man, of an unknown, should touch that hand which you hold
within yours; no, in truth, I cannot think of all that, my dear sire,
without having my poor heart burst with despair."
And Marie de Mancini did shed floods of tears. On his part, the king,
much affected, carried his handkerchief to his mouth, and stifled a sob.
"See," said she, "the carriages have stopped, my sister waits for me, the
time is come; what you are about to decide upon will be decided for
life. Oh, sire! you are willing, then, that I should lose you? You are
willing, then, Louis, that she to whom you have said 'I love you,' should
belong to another than to her king, to her master, to her lover? Oh!
courage, Louis! courage! One word, a single word! Say 'I will!' and all
my life is enchained to yours, and all my heart is yours forever."
The king made no reply. Mary then looked at him as Dido looked at Aeneas
in the Elysian fields, fierce and disdainful.
"Farewell, then," said she; "farewell life! love! heaven!"
And she took a step away. The king detained her, seizing her hand, which
he pressed to his lips, and despair prevailing over the resolution he
appeared to have inwardly formed, he let fall upon that beautiful hand a
burning tear of regret, which made Mary start, so really had that tear
burnt her. She saw the humid eyes of the king, his pale brow, his
convulsed lips, and cried, with an accent that cannot be described, -
"Oh, sire! you are a king, you weep, and yet I depart!"
As his sole reply, the king hid his face in his handkerchief. The
officer uttered something so like a roar that it frightened the horses.
Mademoiselle de Mancini, quite indignant, quitted the king's arm, hastily
entered the carriage, crying to the coachman, "Go on, go on, and quick!"
The coachman obeyed, flogging his mules, and the heavy carriage rocked
upon its creaking axle, whilst the king of France, alone, cast down,
annihilated, did not dare to look either behind or before him.
In which the King and the Lieutenant each give Proofs of Memory.
When the king, like all the people in the world who are in love, had long
and attentively watched disappear in the distance the carriage which bore
away his mistress; when he had turned and turned again a hundred times to
the same side and had at length succeeded in somewhat calming the
agitation of his heart and thoughts, he recollected that he was not
alone. The officer still held the horse by the bridle, and had not lost
all hope of seeing the king recover his resolution. He had still the
resource of mounting and riding after the carriage; they would have lost
nothing by waiting a little. But the imagination of the lieutenant of
the musketeers was too rich and too brilliant; it left far behind it that
of the king, who took care not to allow himself to be carried away to
such excess. He contented himself with approaching the officer, and in
a doleful voice, "Come," said he, "let us be gone; all is ended. To
The officer imitated this carriage, this slowness, this sadness, and
leisurely mounted his horse. The king pushed on sharply, the
lieutenant followed him. At the bridge Louis turned around for the last
time. The lieutenant, patient as a god who has eternity behind and
before him, still hoped for a return of energy. But it was groundless,
nothing appeared. Louis gained the street which led to the castle, and
entered as seven was striking. When the king had returned, and the
musketeer, who saw everything, had seen a corner of the tapestry over
the cardinal's window lifted up, he breathed a profound sigh, like a man
unloosed from the tightest bonds, and said in a low voice:
"Now then, my officer, I hope that it is over."
The king summoned his gentleman. "Please to understand I shall receive
nobody before two o'clock," said he.
"Sire," replied the gentleman, "there is, however, some one who requests
"Who is that?"
"Your lieutenant of musketeers."
"He who accompanied me?"
"Ah," said the king, "let him come in."
The officer entered. The king made a sign, and the gentleman and the
valet retired. Louis followed them with his eyes until they had shut the
door, and when the tapestries had fallen behind them, - "You remind me by
your presence, monsieur, of something I had forgotten to recommend to
you, that is to say, the most absolute discretion."
"Oh! sire, why does your majesty give yourself the trouble of making me
such a recommendation? It is plain you do not know me."
"Yes, monsieur, that is true. I know that you are discreet; but as I
had prescribed nothing - "
The officer bowed. "Has your majesty nothing else to say to me?"
"No, monsieur; you may retire."
"Shall I obtain permission not to do so till I have spoken to the king,
"What do you have to say to me? Explain yourself, monsieur."
"Sire, a thing without importance to you, but which interests me
greatly. Pardon me, then, for speaking of it. Without urgency, without
necessity, I never would have done it, and I would have disappeared, mute
and insignificant as I always have been."
"How! Disappeared! I do not understand you, monsieur."
"Sire, in a word," said the officer, "I am come to ask for my discharge
from your majesty's service."
The king made a movement of surprise, but the officer remained as
motionless as a statue.
"Your discharge - yours, monsieur? and for how long a time, I pray?"
"Why, forever, sire."
"What, you are desirous of quitting my service, monsieur?" said Louis,
with an expression that revealed something more than surprise.
"Sire, I regret to say that I am."
"It is so, however, sire. I am getting old; I have worn harness now
thirty-five years; my poor shoulders are tired; I feel that I must give
place to the young. I don't belong to this age; I have still one foot in
the old one; it results that everything is strange in my eyes, everything
astonishes and bewilders me. In short, I have the honor to ask your
majesty for my discharge."
"Monsieur," said the king, looking at the officer, who wore his uniform
with an ease that would have caused envy in a young man, "you are
stronger and more vigorous than I am."
"Oh!" replied the officer, with an air of false modesty, "your majesty
says so because I still have a good eye and a tolerably firm foot –
because I can still ride a horse, and my mustache is black; but, sire,
vanity of vanities all that - illusions all that - appearance, smoke,
sire! I have still a youthful air, it is true, but I feel old, and
within six months I am certain I shall be broken down, gouty, impotent.
Therefore, then, sire - "
"Monsieur," interrupted the king, "remember your words of yesterday. You
said to me in this very place where you now are, that you were endowed
with the best health of any man in France; that fatigue was unknown to
you! that you did not mind spending whole days and nights at your post.
Did you tell me that, monsieur, or not? Try and recall, monsieur."
The officer sighed. "Sire," said he, "old age is boastful; and it is
pardonable for old men to praise themselves when others no longer do it.
It is very possible I said that; but the fact is, sire, I am very much
fatigued, an request permission to retire."
"Monsieur," said the king, advancing towards the officer with a gesture
full of majesty, "you are not assigning me the true reason. You wish to
quit my service, it may be true, but you disguise from me the motive of
"Sire, believe that - "
"I believe what I see, monsieur; I see a vigorous, energetic man, full of
presence of mind, the best soldier in France, perhaps; and this personage
cannot persuade me the least in the world that he stands in need of rest."
"Ah! sire," said the lieutenant, with bitterness, "what praise! Indeed,
your majesty confounds me! Energetic, vigorous, brave, intelligent, the
best soldier in the army! But, sire, your majesty exaggerates my small
portion of merit to such a point, that however good an opinion I may have
of myself, I do not recognize myself; in truth I do not. If I were vain
enough to believe only half of your majesty's words, I should consider
myself a valuable, indispensable man. I should say that a servant
possessed of such brilliant qualities was a treasure beyond all price.
Now, sire, I have been all my life - I feel bound to say it - except at
the present time, appreciated, in my opinion, much below my value. I
therefore repeat, your majesty exaggerates."
The king knitted his brow, for he saw a bitter raillery beneath the words
of the officer. "Come, monsieur," said he, "let us meet the question
frankly. Are you dissatisfied with my service, say? No evasions; speak
boldly, frankly - I command you to do so."
The officer, who had been twisting his hat about in his hands, with an
embarrassed air, for several minutes, raised his head at these words.
"Oh! sire," said he, "that puts me a little more at my ease. To a
question put so frankly, I will reply frankly. To tell the truth is a
good thing, as much from the pleasure one feels in relieving one's heart,
as on account of the rarity of the fact. I will speak the truth, then,
to my king, at the same time imploring him to excuse the frankness of an
Louis looked at his officer with anxiety, which he manifested by the
agitation of his gesture. "Well, then, speak," said he, "for I am
impatient to hear the truths you have to tell me."
The officer threw his hat upon a table, and his countenance, always so
intelligent and martial, assumed, all at once, a strange character of
grandeur and solemnity. "Sire," said he, "I quit the king's service
because I am dissatisfied. The valet, in these times, can approach his
master as respectfully as I do, can give him an account of his labor,
bring back his tools, return the funds that have been intrusted to him,
and say 'Master, my day's work is done. Pay me, if you please, and let
"Monsieur! monsieur!" exclaimed the king, crimson with rage.
"Ah! sire," replied the officer, bending his knee for a moment, "never
was servant more respectful than I am before your majesty; only you
commanded me to tell the truth. Now I have begun to tell it, it must
come out, even if you command me to hold my tongue."
There was so much resolution expressed in the deep-sunk muscles of the
officer's countenance, that Louis XIV. had no occasion to tell him to
continue; he continued, therefore, whilst the king looked at him with a
curiosity mingled with admiration.
"Sire, I have, as I have said, now served the house of France thirty-five
years; few people have worn out so many swords in that service as I have,
and the swords I speak of were good swords, too, sire. I was a boy,
ignorant of everything except courage, when the king your father guessed
that there was a man in me. I was a man, sire, when the Cardinal de
Richelieu, who was a judge of manhood, discovered an enemy in me. Sire,
the history of that enmity between the ant and the lion may be read from
the first to the last line, in the secret archives of your family. If
ever you feel an inclination to know it, do so, sire; the history is
worth the trouble - it is I who tell you so. You will there read that
the lion, fatigued, harassed, out of breath, at length cried for quarter,
and the justice must be rendered him to say, that he gave as much as he
required. Oh! those were glorious times, sire, strewed over with battles
like one of Tasso's or Ariosto's epics. The wonders of those times, to
which the people of ours would refuse belief, were every-day
occurrences. For five years together, I was a hero every day; at least,
so I was told by persons of judgment; and that is a long period for
heroism, trust me, sire, a period of five years. Nevertheless, I have
faith in what these people told me, for the were good judges. They were
named M. de Richelieu, M. de Buckingham, M. de Beaufort, M. de Retz, a
mighty genius himself in street warfare, - in short, the king, Louis
XIII., and even the queen, your noble mother, who one day condescended to
say, '_Thank you_.' I don't know what service I had had the good fortune
to render her. Pardon me, sire, for speaking so boldly; but what I
relate to you, as I have already had the honor to tell your majesty, is
The king bit his lips, and threw himself violently on a chair.
"I appear importunate to your majesty," said the lieutenant. "Eh! sire,
that is the fate of truth; she is a stern companion; she bristles all
over with steel; she wounds those whom she attacks, and sometimes him who
"No, monsieur," replied the king: "I bade you speak - speak then."
"After the service of the king and the cardinal, came the service of the
regency, sire; I fought pretty well in the Fronde - much less, though,
than the first time. The men began to diminish in stature. I have,
nevertheless, led your majesty's musketeers on some perilous occasions,
which stand upon the orders of the day of the company. Mine was a
beautiful luck at that time. I was the favorite of M. de Mazarin.
Lieutenant here! lieutenant there! lieutenant to the right! lieutenant to
the left! There was not a buffet dealt in France, of which your humble
servant did not have the dealing; but soon France was not enough. The
cardinal sent me to England on Cromwell's account; another gentleman who
was not over gentle, I assure you, sire. I had the honor of knowing him,
and I was well able to appreciate him. A great deal was promised me on
account of that mission. So, as I did much more than I had been bidden
to do, I was generously paid, for I was at length appointed captain of
the musketeers; that is to say, the most envied position in court, which
takes precedence over the marshals of France, and justly; for who says
captain of the musketeers says the flower of chivalry and king of the
"Captain, monsieur!" interrupted the king; "you make a mistake.
Lieutenant, you mean."
"Not at all, sire - I make no mistake; your majesty may rely upon me in
that respect. Monsieur le cardinal gave me the commission himself."
"But M. de Mazarin, as you know better than anybody, does not often give,
and sometimes takes back what he has given; he took it back again as soon
as peace was made and he was no longer in want of me. Certainly I was
not worthy to replace M. de Treville, of illustrious memory; but they
had promised me, and they had given me; they ought to have stopped there."
"Is that what dissatisfies you monsieur? Well, I shall make inquiries.
I love justice; and your claim, though made in military fashion, does not
"Oh, sire!" said the officer, "your majesty has ill understood me; I no
longer claim anything now."
"Excess of delicacy, monsieur; but I will keep my eye upon your affairs,
and later - "
"Oh, sire! what a word! - later! Thirty years have I lived upon that
promising word, which has been pronounced by so many great personages,
and which your mouth has, in its turn, just pronounced. Later - that is
how I have received a score of wounds, and how I have reached fifty-four
years of age without ever having had a louis in my purse, and without
ever having met with a protector on my way, - I who have protected so
many people! So I change my formula, sire; and when any one says to me
'Later,' I reply '_Now_.' It is rest that I solicit, sire. That may be
easily granted me. That will cost nobody anything."
"I did not look for this language, monsieur, particularly from a man who
has always lived among the great. You forget you are speaking to the
king, to a gentleman who is, I suppose, as of good a house as yourself;
and when I say later, I mean a certainty."
"I do not at all doubt it, sire; but this is the end of the terrible
truth I had to tell you. If I were to see upon that table a _marshal's_
stick, the sword of constable, the crown of Poland, instead of later, I
swear to you, sire, that I should still say _Now!_ Oh, excuse me, sire!
I am from the country of your grandfather, Henry IV. I do not speak
often: but when I do speak, I speak all."
"The future of my reign has little temptation for you, monsieur, it
appears," said Louis, haughtily.
"Forgetfulness, forgetfulness everywhere!" cried the officer, with a
noble air; "the master has forgotten the servant, so the servant is
reduced to forget his master. I live in unfortunate times, sire. I see
youth full of discouragement and fear, I see it timid and despoiled, when
it ought to be rich and powerful. I yesterday evening, for example, open
the door to a king of England, whose father, humble as I am, I was near
saving, if God had not been against me - God, who inspired His elect,
Cromwell! I open, I said, the door, that is to say, the palace of one
brother to another brother, and I see - stop, sire, that is a load on my
heart! - I see the minister of that king drive away the proscribed
prince, and humiliate his master by condemning to want another king, his
equal. Then I see my prince, who is young, handsome and brave, who has
courage in his heart and lightening in his eye, - I see him tremble
before a priest, who laughs at him behind the curtain of his alcove,
where he digests all the gold of France, which he afterwards stuffs into
secret coffers. Yes - I understand your looks, sire. I am bold to
madness; but what is to be said? I am an old man, and I tell you here,
sire, to you, my king, things which I would cram down the throat of any
one who should dare to pronounce them before me. You have commanded me,
to pour out the bottom of my heart before you, sire, and I cast at the
feet of your majesty the pent-up indignation of thirty years, as I would
pour out all my blood, if your majesty commanded me to do so."
The king, without speaking a word, wiped the drops of cold and abundant
perspiration which trickled from his temples. The moment of silence
which followed this vehement outbreak represented for him who had spoken,
and for him who had listened, ages of suffering.
"Monsieur," said the king at length, "you spoke the word forgetfulness.
I have heard nothing but that word; I will reply, then, to it alone.
Others have perhaps been able to forget, but I have not, and the proof
is, that I remember that one day of riot, that one day when the furious
people, raging and roaring as the sea, invaded the royal palace; that one
day when I feigned sleep in my bed, one man alone, naked sword in hand,
concealed behind my curtain, watched over my life, ready to risk his own
for me, as he had before risked it twenty times for the lives of my
family. Was not the gentleman, whose name I then demanded, called M.
d'Artagnan? say, monsieur."
"Your majesty has a good memory," replied the officer, coldly.
"You see, then," continued the king, "if I have such remembrances of my
childhood, what an amount I may gather in the age of reason."
"Your majesty has been richly endowed by God," said the officer, in the
"Come, Monsieur d'Artagnan," continued Louis, with feverish agitation,
"ought you not to be patient as I am? Ought you not to do as I do?
"And what do you do, sire?"
"Your majesty may do so, because you are young; but I, sire, have not
time to wait; old age is at my door, and death is behind it, looking into
the very depths of my house. Your majesty is beginning life, its future
is full of hope and fortune; but I, sire, I am on the other side of the
horizon, and we are so far from each other, that I should never have time
to wait till your majesty came up to me."
Louis made another turn in his apartment, still wiping the moisture from
his brow, in a manner that would have terrified his physicians, if his
physicians had witnessed the state his majesty was in.
"It is very well, monsieur," said Louis XIV., in a sharp voice; "you are
desirous of having your discharge, and you shall have it. You offer me
your resignation of the rank of lieutenant of the musketeers?"
"I deposit it humbly at your majesty's feet, sire."
"That is sufficient. I will order your pension."
"I shall have a thousand obligations to your majesty."
"Monsieur," said the king, with a violent effort, "I think you are losing
a good master."
"And I am sure of it, sire."
"Shall you ever find such another?"
"Oh, sire! I know that your majesty is alone in the world; therefore
will I never again take service with any other king upon earth, and will
never again have other master than myself."
"You say so?"
"I swear so, your majesty."
"I shall remember that word, monsieur."
"And you know I have a good memory," said the king.
"Yes, sire; and yet I should desire that that memory should fail your
majesty in this instance, in order that you might forget all the miseries
I have been forced to spread before your eyes. Your majesty is so much
above the poor and the mean, that I hope - "
"My majesty, monsieur, will act like the sun, which looks upon all, great
and small, rich and poor, giving luster to some, warmth to others, and
life to all. Adieu, Monsieur d'Artagnan - adieu: you are free."
And the king, with a hoarse sob, which was lost in his throat, passed
quickly into the next room. D'Artagnan took up his hat from the table on
which he had thrown in, and went out.
D'Artagnan had not reached the bottom of the staircase, when the king
called his gentleman. "I have a commission to give you, monsieur," said
"I am at your majesty's commands."
"Wait, then." And the young king began to write the following letter,
which cost him more than one sigh, although, at the same time, something
like a feeling of triumph glittered in his eyes:
"MY LORD CARDINAL, - Thanks to your good counsels, and, above all, thanks
to your firmness, I have succeeded in overcoming a weakness unworthy of a
king. You have too ably arranged my destiny to allow gratitude not to
stop me at the moment when I was about to destroy your work. I felt I
was wrong to wish to make my life turn from the course you had marked out
for it. Certainly it would have been a misfortune to France and my
family if a misunderstanding had taken place between me and my minister.
This, however, would certainly have happened if I had made your niece my
wife. I am perfectly aware of this, and will henceforth oppose nothing
to the accomplishment of my destiny. I am prepared, then, to wed the
infanta, Maria Theresa. You may at once open the conference. - Your
The king, after reperusing the letter, sealed it himself.
"This letter for my lord cardinal," said he.
The gentleman took it. At Mazarin's door he found Bernouin waiting with
"Well?" asked the minister's _valet de chambre_.
"Monsieur," said the gentleman, "here is a letter for his eminence."
"A letter! Ah! we expected one after the little journey of the morning."
"Oh! you know, then, that his majesty - "
"As first minister, it belongs to the duties of our charge to know
everything. And his majesty prays and implores, I presume."
"I don't know, but he sighed frequently whilst he was writing."
"Yes, yes, yes; we understand all that; people sigh sometimes from
happiness as well as from grief, monsieur."
"And yet the king did not look very happy when he returned, monsieur."
"You did not see clearly. Besides, you only saw his majesty on his
return, for he was only accompanied by the lieutenant of the guards. But
I had his eminence's telescope; I looked through it when he was tired,
and I am sure they both wept."
"Well! was it for happiness they wept?"
"No, but for love, and they vowed to each other a thousand tendernesses,
which the king asks no better to keep. Now this letter is a beginning of
"And what does his eminence think of this love, which is, by the bye, no
secret to anybody?"
Bernouin took the gentleman by the arm, and whilst ascending the
staircase, - "In confidence," said he, in a low voice, "his eminence
looks for success in the affair. I know very well we shall have war with
Spain; but, bah! war will please the nobles. My lord cardinal, besides,
can endow his niece royally, nay, more than royally. There will be
money, festivities, and fire-works - everybody will be delighted."
"Well, for my part," replied the gentleman, shaking his head, "it appears
to me that this letter is very light to contain all that."
"My friend," replied Bernouin, "I am certain of what I tell you. M.
d'Artagnan related all that passed to me."
"Ay, ay! and what did he tell you? Let us hear."
"I accosted him by asking him, on the part of the cardinal, if there were
any news, without discovering my designs, observe, for M. d'Artagnan is a
cunning hand. 'My dear Monsieur Bernouin,' he replied, 'the king is
madly in love with Mademoiselle de Mancini, that is all I have to tell
you.' And then I asked him: 'Do you think, to such a degree that it will
urge him to act contrary to the designs of his eminence?' 'Ah! don't ask
me,' said he; 'I think the king capable of anything; he has a will of
iron, and what he wills he wills in earnest. If he takes it into his
head to marry Mademoiselle de Mancini, he will marry her, depend upon
it.' And thereupon he left me and went straight to the stables, took a
horse, saddled it himself, jumped upon its back, and set off as if the
devil were at his heels."
"So that you believe, then - "
"I believe that monsieur the lieutenant of the guards knew more than he
was willing to say."
"In you opinion, then, M. d'Artagnan - "
"Is gone, according to all probability, after the exiles, to carry out
all that can facilitate the success of the king's love."
Chatting thus, the two confidants arrived at the door of his eminence's
apartment. His eminence's gout had left him; he was walking about his
chamber in a state of great anxiety, listening at doors and looking out
of windows. Bernouin entered, followed by the gentleman, who had orders
from the king to place the letter in the hands of the cardinal himself.
Mazarin took the letter, but before opening it, he got up a ready smile,
a smile of circumstance, able to throw a veil over emotions of whatever
sort they might be. So prepared, whatever was the impression received
from the letter, no reflection of that impression was allowed to
transpire upon his countenance.
"Well," said he, when he had read and reread the letter, "very well,
monsieur. Inform the king that I thank him for his obedience to the
wishes of the queen-mother, and that I will do everything for the
accomplishment of his will."
The gentleman left the room. The door had scarcely closed before the
cardinal, who had no mask for Bernouin, took off that which had so
recently covered his face, and with a most dismal expression, - "Call M.
de Brienne," said he. Five minutes afterward the secretary entered.
"Monsieur," said Mazarin, "I have just rendered a great service to the
monarchy, the greatest I have ever rendered it. You will carry this
letter, which proves it, to her majesty the queen-mother, and when she
shall have returned it to you, you will lodge it in portfolio B., which
is filed with documents and papers relative to my ministry."
Brienne went as desired, and, as the letter was unsealed, did not fail to
read it on his way. There is likewise no doubt that Bernouin, who was on
good terms with everybody, approached so near to the secretary as to be
able to read the letter over his shoulder; so that the news spread with
such activity through the castle, that Mazarin might have feared it would
reach the ears of the queen-mother before M. de Brienne could convey
Louis XIV.'s letter to her. A moment after orders were given for
departure, and M. de Conde having been to pay his respects to the king on
his pretended rising, inscribed the city of Poitiers upon his tablets, as
the place of sojourn and rest for their majesties.
Thus in a few instants was unraveled an intrigue which had covertly
occupied all the diplomacies of Europe. It had nothing, however, very
clear as a result, but to make a poor lieutenant of musketeers lose his
commission and his fortune. It is true, that in exchange he gained his
liberty. We shall soon know how M. d'Artagnan profited by this. For
the moment, if the reader will permit us, we shall return to the hostelry
of _les Medici_, of which one of the windows opened at the very moment
the orders were given for the departure of the king.
The window that opened was that of one of the rooms of Charles II. The
unfortunate prince had passed the night in bitter reflections, his head
resting on his hands, and his elbows on the table, whilst Parry, infirm
and old, wearied in body and in mind, had fallen asleep in a corner. A
singular fortune was that of this faithful servant, who saw beginning for
the second generation the fearful series of misfortunes which had weighed
so heavily on the first. When Charles II. had well thought over the
fresh defeat he had experienced, when he perfectly comprehended the
complete isolation into which he had just fallen, on seeing his fresh
hope left behind him, he was seized as with a vertigo, and sank back into
the large armchair in which he was seated. Then God took pity on the
unhappy prince, and sent to console him sleep, the innocent brother of
death. He did not wake till half-past six, that is to say, till the sun
shone brightly into his chamber, and Parry, motionless with fear of
waking him, was observing with profound grief the eyes of the young man
already red with wakefulness, and his cheeks pale with suffering and
At length the noise of some heavy carts descending towards the Loire
awakened Charles. He arose, looked around him like a man who has
forgotten everything, perceived Parry, shook him by the hand, and
commanded him to settle the reckoning with Master Cropole. Master
Cropole, being called upon to settle his account with Parry, acquitted
himself, it must be allowed, like an honest man; he only made his
customary remark, that the two travelers had eaten nothing, which had the
double disadvantage of being humiliating for his kitchen, and of forcing
him to ask payment for a repast not consumed, but not the less lost.
Parry had nothing to say to the contrary, and paid.
"I hope," said the king, "it has not been the same with the horses. I
don't see that they have eaten at your expense, and it would be a
misfortune for travelers like us, who have a long journey to make, to
have our horses fail us."
But Cropole, at this doubt, assumed his majestic air, and replied that
the stables of _les Medici_ were not less hospitable than its refectory.
The king mounted his horse; his old servant did the same, and both set
out towards Paris, without meeting a single person on their road, in the
streets or the faubourgs of the city. For the prince the blow was the
more severe, as it was a fresh exile. The unfortunates cling to the
smallest hopes, as the happy do to the greatest good; and when they are
obliged to quit the place where that hope has soothed their hearts, they
experience the mortal regret which the banished man feels when he places
his foot upon the vessel which is to bear him into exile. It appears
that the heart already wounded so many times suffers from the least
scratch; it appears that it considers as a good the momentary absence of
evil, which is nothing but the absence of pain; and that God, into the
most terrible misfortunes, has thrown hope as the drop of water which the
rich sinner in hell entreated of Lazarus.
For one instant even the hope of Charles II. had been more than a
fugitive joy; - that was when he found himself so kindly welcomed by his
brother king; then it had taken a form that had become a reality; then,
all at once, the refusal of Mazarin had reduced the fictitious reality to
the state of a dream. This promise of Louis XIV., so soon retracted, had
been nothing but a mockery; a mockery like his crown - like his scepter –
like his friends - like all that had surrounded his royal childhood, and
which had abandoned his proscribed youth. Mockery! everything was a
mockery for Charles II. except the cold, black repose promised by death.
Such were the ideas of the unfortunate prince while sitting listlessly
upon his horse, to which he abandoned the reins: he rode slowly along
beneath the warm May sun, in which the somber misanthropy of the exile
perceived a last insult to his grief.
A horseman going rapidly along the road leading towards Blois, which he
had left nearly half an hour before, passed the two travelers, and,
though apparently in haste, raised his hat as he passed them. The king
scarcely observed this young man, who was about twenty-five years of age,
and who, turning round several times, made friendly signals to a man
standing before the gate of a handsome white-and-red house; that is to
say, built of brick and stone, with a slated roof, situated on the left
hand of the road the prince was traveling.
This man, old, tall, and thin, with white hair, - we speak of the one
standing by the gate; - this man replied to the farewell signals of the
young one by signs of parting as tender as could have been made by a
father. The young man disappeared at the first turn of the road,
bordered by fine trees, and the old man was preparing to return to the
house, when the two travelers, arriving in front of the gate, attracted
The king, as we have said, was riding with his head cast down, his arms
inert, leaving his horse to go what pace he liked, whilst Parry, behind
him, the better to imbibe the genial influence of the sun, had taken off
his hat, and was looking about right and left. His eyes encountered
those of the old man leaning against the gate; the latter, as if struck
by some strange spectacle, uttered an exclamation, and made one step
towards the two travelers. From Parry his eyes immediately turned
towards the king, upon whom they rested for an instant. This
examination, however rapid, was instantly reflected in a visible manner
upon the features of the tall old man. For scarcely had he recognized
the younger of the travelers - and we said recognized, for nothing but a
perfect recognition could have explained such an act - scarcely, we say,
had he recognized the younger of the two travelers, than he clapped his
hands together, with respectful surprise, and, raising his hat from his
head, bowed so profoundly that it might have been said he was kneeling.
This demonstration, however absent, or rather, however absorbed was the
king in his reflections, attracted his attention instantly; and checking
his horse and turning towards Parry, he exclaimed, "Good God, Parry, who
is that man who salutes me in such a marked manner? Can he know me,
Parry, much agitated and very pale, had already turned his horse towards
the gate. "Ah, sire!" said he, stopping suddenly at five or six paces'
distance from the still bending old man: "sire, I am seized with
astonishment, for I think I recognize that brave man. Yes, it must be
he! Will your majesty permit me to speak to him?"
"Can it be you, Monsieur Grimaud?" asked Parry.
"Yes, it is I," replied the tall old man, drawing himself up, but without
losing his respectful demeanor.
"Sire," then said Parry, "I was not deceived. This good man is the
servant of the Comte de la Fere, and the Comte de la Fere, if you
remember, is the worthy gentleman of whom I have so often spoken to your
majesty that the remembrance of him must remain, not only in your mind,
but in your heart."
"He who assisted my father at his last moments?" asked Charles, evidently
affected at the remembrance.
"The same, sire."
"Alas!" said Charles; and then addressing Grimaud, whose penetrating
and intelligent eyes seemed to search and divine his thoughts. - "My
friend," said he, "does your master, Monsieur le Comte de la Fere, live
in this neighborhood?"
"There," replied Grimaud, pointing with his outstretched arm to the white-
and-red house behind the gate.
"And is Monsieur le Comte de la Fere at home at present?"
"At the back, under the chestnut trees."
"Parry," said the king, "I will not miss this opportunity, so precious
for me, to thank the gentleman to whom our house is indebted for such a
noble example of devotedness and generosity. Hold my horse, my friend,
if you please." And, throwing the bridle to Grimaud, the king entered
the abode of Athos, quite alone, as one equal enters the dwelling of
another. Charles had been informed by the concise explanation of
Grimaud, - "At the back, under the chestnut trees;" he left, therefore,
the house on the left, and went straight down the path indicated. The
thing was easy; the tops of those noble trees, already covered with
leaves and flowers, rose above all the rest.
On arriving under the lozenges, by turns luminous and dark, which
checkered the ground of this path according as the trees were more or
less in leaf, the young prince perceived a gentleman walking with his
arms behind him, apparently plunged in a deep meditation. Without doubt,
he had often had this gentleman described to himself, for, without
hesitating, Charles II. walked straight up to him. At the sound of his
footsteps, the Comte de la Fere raised his head, and seeing an unknown
man of noble and elegant carriage coming towards him, he raised his hat
and waited. At some paces from him, Charles II. likewise took off his
hat. Then, as if in reply to the comte's mute interrogation, -
"Monsieur le Comte," said he, "I come to discharge a debt towards you. I
have, for a long time, had the expression of a profound gratitude to
bring you. I am Charles II., son of Charles Stuart, who reigned in
England, and died on the scaffold."
On hearing this illustrious name, Athos felt a kind of shudder creep
through his veins, but at the sight of the young prince standing
uncovered before him, and stretching out his hand towards him, two tears,
for an instant, dimmed his brilliant eyes. He bent respectfully, but the
prince took him by the hand.
"See how unfortunate I am, my lord count; it is only due to chance that I
have met with you. Alas! I ought to have people around me whom I love
and honor, whereas I am reduced to preserve their services in my heart,
and their names in my memory: so that if your servant had not recognized
mine, I should have passed by your door as by that of a stranger."
"It is but too true," said Athos, replying with his voice to the first
part of the king's speech, and with a bow to the second; "it is but too
true, indeed, that your majesty has seen many evil days."
"And the worst, alas!" replied Charles, "are perhaps still to come."
"Sire, let us hope."
"Count, count," continued Charles, shaking his head, "I entertained hope
till last night, and that of a good Christian, I swear."
Athos looked at the king as if to interrogate him.
"Oh, the history is soon related," said Charles. "Proscribed, despoiled,
disdained, I resolved, in spite of all my repugnance, to tempt fortune
one last time. Is it not written above, that, for our family, all good
fortune and all bad fortune shall eternally come from France? You know
something of that, monsieur, - you, who are one of the Frenchmen whom my
unfortunate father found at the foot of his scaffold, on the day of his
death, after having found them at his right hand on the day of battle."
"Sire," said Athos modestly, "I was not alone. My companions and I did,
under the circumstances, our duty as gentlemen, and that was all. Your
majesty was about to do me the honor to relate - "
"That is true, I had the protection, - pardon my hesitation, count, but,
for a Stuart, you, who understand everything, you will comprehend that
the word is hard to pronounce; - I had, I say, the protection of my
cousin the stadtholder of Holland; but without the intervention, or at
least without the authorization of France, the stadtholder would not take
the initiative. I came, then, to ask this authorization of the king of
France, who has refused me."
"The king has refused you, sire!"
"Oh, not he; all justice must be rendered to my younger brother Louis;
but Monsieur de Mazarin - "
Athos bit his lips.
"You perhaps think I should have expected this refusal?" said the king,
who had noticed the movement.
"That was, in truth, my thought, sire," replied Athos, respectfully; "I
know that Italian of old."
"Then I determined to come to the test, and know at once the last word of
my destiny. I told my brother Louis, that, not to compromise either
France or Holland, I would tempt fortune myself in person, as I had
already done, with two hundred gentlemen, if he would give them to me;
and a million, if he would lend it me."
"Well, monsieur, I am suffering at this moment something strange, and
that is, the satisfaction of despair. There is in certain souls, - and I
have just discovered that mine is of the number,- a real satisfaction in
the assurance that all is lost, and the time is come to yield."
"Oh, I hope," said Athos, "that your majesty is not come to that
"To say so, my lord count, to endeavor to revive hope in my heart, you
must have ill understood what I have just told you. I came to Blois to
ask of my brother Louis the alms of a million, with which I had the hopes
of re-establishing my affairs; and my brother Louis has refused me. You
see, then, plainly, that all is lost."
"Will your majesty permit me to express a contrary opinion?"
"How is that, count? Do you think my heart of so low an order that I do
not know how to face my position?"
"Sire, I have always seen that it was in desperate positions that
suddenly the great turns of fortune have taken place."
"Thank you, count: it is some comfort to meet with a heart like yours;
that is to say, sufficiently trustful in God and in monarchy, never to
despair of a royal fortune, however low it may be fallen. Unfortunately,
my dear count, your words are like those remedies they call 'sovereign,'
and which, though able to cure curable wounds or diseases, fail against
death. Thank you for your perseverance in consoling me, count, thanks
for your devoted remembrance, but I know in what I must trust - nothing
will save me now. And see, my friend, I was so convinced, that I was
taking the route of exile, with my old Parry; I was returning to devour
my poignant griefs in the little hermitage offered me by Holland. There,
believe me, count, all will soon be over, and death will come quickly; it
is called so often by this body, eaten up by its soul, and by this soul,
which aspires to heaven."
"Your majesty has a mother, a sister, and brothers; your majesty is the
head of the family, and ought, therefore, to ask a long life of God,
instead of imploring Him for a prompt death. Your majesty is an exile,
a fugitive, but you have right on your side; you ought to aspire to
combats, dangers, business, and not to rest in heavens."
"Count," said Charles II., with a smile of indescribable sadness, "have
you ever heard of a king who reconquered his kingdom with one servant the
age of Parry, and with three hundred crowns which that servant carried in
"No, sire; but I have heard - and that more than once - that a dethroned
king has recovered his kingdom with a firm will, perseverance, some
friends, and a million skillfully employed."
"But you cannot have understood me. The million I asked of my brother
Louis was refused me."
"Sire," said Athos, "will your majesty grant me a few minutes, and listen
attentively to what remains for me to say to you?"
Charles II. looked earnestly at Athos. "Willingly, monsieur," said he.
"Then I will show your majesty the way," resumed the count, directing his
steps towards the house. He then conducted the king to his study, and
begged him to be seated. "Sire," said he, "your majesty just now told me
that, in the present state of England, a million would suffice for the
recovery of your kingdom."
"To attempt it at least, monsieur; and to die as a king if I should not
"Well, then, sire, let your majesty, according to the promise you have
made me, have the goodness to listen to what I have to say." Charles
made an affirmative sign with his head. Athos walked straight up to the
door, the bolts of which he drew, after looking to see if anybody was
near, and then returned. "Sire," said he, "your majesty has kindly
remembered that I lent assistance to the very noble and very unfortunate
Charles I., when his executioners conducted him from St. James's to
"Yes, certainly I do remember it, and always shall remember it."
"Sire, it is a dismal history to be heard by a son who no doubt has had
it related to him many times; and yet I ought to repeat it to your
majesty without omitting one detail."
"Speak on, monsieur."
"When the king your father ascended the scaffold, or rather when he
passed from his chamber to the scaffold, on a level with his window,
everything was prepared for his escape. The executioner was got out of
the way; a hole contrived under the floor of his apartment; I myself was
beneath the funeral vault, which I heard all at once creak beneath his
"Parry has related to me all these terrible details, monsieur."
Athos bowed and resumed. "But here is something he had not related to
you, sire, for what follows passed between God, your father, and myself;
and never has the revelation of it been made even to my dearest friends.
'Go a little further off,' said the august prisoner to the executioner;
'it is but for an instant, and I know that I belong to you; but remember
not to strike till I give the signal. I wish to offer up my prayers in
"Pardon me," said Charles II., turning very pale," but you, count, who
know so many details of this melancholy event, - details which, as you
said just now, have never been revealed to any one, - do you know the
name of that infernal executioner, of that base wretch who concealed his
face that he might assassinate a king with impunity?"
Athos became slightly pale. "His name?" said he, "yes, I know it, but
cannot tell it."
"And what is become of him, for nobody in England knows his destiny?"
"He is dead."
"But he did not die in his bed; he did not die a calm and peaceful death;
he did not die the death of the good?"
"He died a violent death, in a terrible night, rendered so by the
passions of man and a tempest from God. His body, pierced by a dagger,
sank to the depths of the ocean. God pardon his murderer!"
"Proceed, then," said Charles II., seeing that the count was unwilling to
"The king of England, after having, as I have said, spoken thus to the
masked executioner, added, - 'Observe, you will not strike till I shall
stretch out my arms, saying - REMEMBER!'"
"I was aware," said Charles, in an agitated voice, "that that was the
last word pronounced by my unfortunate father. But why and for whom?"
"For the French gentleman placed beneath his scaffold."
"For you, then, monsieur?"
"Yes, sire; and every one of the words which he spoke to me, through the
planks of the scaffold covered with a black cloth, still sounds in my
ears. The king knelt down on one knee: 'Comte de la Fere,' said he, 'are
you there?' 'Yes, sire,' replied I. Then the king stooped towards the
Charles II., also palpitating with interest, burning with grief, stooped
towards Athos, to catch, one by one, every word that escaped from him.
His head touched that of the comte.
"Then," continued Athos, "the king stooped. 'Comte de la Fere,' said he,
'I could not be saved by you: it was not to be. Now, even though I
commit a sacrilege, I must speak to you. Yes, I have spoken to men -
yes, I have spoken to God, and I speak to you the last. To sustain a
cause which I thought sacred, I have lost the throne of my fathers and
the heritage of my children.'"
Charles II. concealed his face in his hands, and a bitter tear glided
between his white and slender fingers.
"'I have still a million in gold,' continued the king. 'I buried it in
the vaults of the castle of Newcastle, a moment before I left that
city.'" Charles raised his head with an expression of such painful joy
that it would have drawn tears from any one acquainted with his
"A million!" murmured he, "Oh, count!"
"'You alone know that this money exists: employ it when you think it can
be of the greatest service to my eldest son. And now, Comte de la Fere,
bid me adieu!'
"'Adieu, adieu, sire!' cried I."
Charles arose, and went and leant his burning brow against the window.
"It was then," continued Athos, "that the king pronounced the word
'REMEMBER!' addressed to me. You see, sire, that I have remembered."
The king could not resist or conceal his emotion. Athos beheld the
movement of his shoulders, which undulated convulsively; he heard the
sobs which burst from his over-charged breast. He was silent himself,
suffocated by the flood of bitter remembrances he had just poured upon
that royal head. Charles II., with a violent effort, left the window,
devoured his tears, and came and sat by Athos. "Sire," said the latter,
"I thought till to-day that the time had not yet arrived for the
employment of that last resource; but, with my eyes fixed upon England, I
felt it was approaching. To-morrow I meant to go and inquire in what
part of the world your majesty was, and then I purposed going to you.
You come to me, sire; that is an indication that God is with us."
"My lord," said Charles, in a voice choked by emotion, "you are, for me,
what an angel sent from heaven would be, - you are a preserver sent to me
from the tomb of my father himself; but, believe me, for ten years' civil
war has passed over my country, striking down men, tearing up soil, it is
no more probable that gold should remain in the entrails of the earth,
than love in the hearts of my subjects."
"Sire, the spot in which his majesty buried the million is well known to
me, and no one, I am sure, has been able to discover it. Besides, is the
castle of Newcastle quite destroyed? Have they demolished it stone by
stone, and uprooted the soil to the last tree?"
"No, it is still standing: but at this moment General Monk occupies it
and is encamped there. The only spot from which I could look for succor,
where I possess a single resource, you see, is invaded by my enemies."
"General Monk, sire, cannot have discovered the treasure which I speak
"Yes, but can I go and deliver myself up to Monk, in order to recover
this treasure? Ah! count, you see plainly I must yield to destiny, since
it strikes me to the earth every time I rise. What can I do with Parry
as my only servant, with Parry, whom Monk has already driven from his
presence? No, no, no, count, we must yield to this last blow."
"But what your majesty cannot do, and what Parry can no more attempt, do
you not believe that I could succeed in accomplishing?"
"You - you, count - you would go?"
"If it please your majesty," said Athos, bowing to the king, "yes, I will
"What! you so happy here, count?"
"I am never happy when I have a duty left to accomplish, and it is an
imperative duty which the king your father left me to watch over your
fortunes, and make a royal use of his money. So, if your majesty honors
me with a sign, I will go with you."
"Ah, monsieur!" said the king, forgetting all royal etiquette and
throwing his arms around the neck of Athos, "you prove to me that there
is a God in heaven, and that this God sometimes sends messengers to the
unfortunate who groan on the earth."
Athos, exceedingly moved by this burst of feeling of the young man,
thanked him with profound respect, and approached the window. "Grimaud!"
cried he, "bring out my horses."
"What, now - immediately!" said the king. "Ah, monsieur, you are indeed
a wonderful man!"
"Sire," said Athos, "I know nothing more pressing than your majesty's
service. Besides," added he, smiling, "it is a habit contracted long
since, in the service of the queen your aunt, and of the king your
father. How is it possible for me to lose it at the moment your
majesty's service calls for it?"
"What a man!" murmured the king.
Then, after a moment's reflection, - "But no, count, I cannot expose you
to such privations. I have no means of rewarding such services."
"Bah!" said Athos, laughing. "Your majesty is joking; have you not a
million? Ah! why am I not possessed of half such a sum! I would already
have raised a regiment. But, thank God! I have still a few rolls of
gold and some family diamonds left. Your majesty will, I hope, deign to
share with a devoted servant."
"With a friend - yes, count, but on condition that, in his turn, that
friend will share with me hereafter!"
"Sire!" said Athos, opening a casket, form which he drew both gold and
jewels, "you see, sire, we are too rich. Fortunately, there are four of
us, in the event of our meeting with thieves."
Joy made the blood rush to the pale cheeks of Charles II., as he saw
Athos's two horses, led by Grimaud, already booted for the journey,
advance towards the porch.
"Blaisois, this letter for the Vicomte de Bragelonne. For everybody else
I am gone to Paris. I confide the house to you, Blaisois." Blaisois
bowed, shook hands with Grimaud, and shut the gate.
In which Aramis is sought, and only Bazin is found.
Two hours had scarcely elapsed since the departure of the master of the
house, who, in Blaisois's sight, had taken the road to Paris, when a
horseman, mounted on a good pied horse, stopped before the gate, and with
a sonorous "_hola!_" called the stable-boys, who, with the gardeners, had
formed a circle round Blaisois, the historian-in-ordinary to the
household of the chateau. This "_hola_," doubtless well known to Master
Blaisois, made him turn his head and exclaim - "Monsieur d'Artagnan! run
quickly, you chaps, and open the gate."
A swarm of eight brisk lads flew to the gate, which was opened as if it
had been made of feathers; and every one loaded him with attentions, for
they knew the welcome this friend was accustomed to receive from their
master; and for such remarks the eye of the valet may always be depended
"Ah!" said M. d'Artagnan, with an agreeable smile, balancing himself upon
his stirrup to jump to the ground, "where is that dear count?"
"Ah! how unfortunate you are, monsieur!" said Blaisois: "and how
unfortunate will monsieur le comte, our master, think himself when he
hears of your coming! As ill luck will have it, monsieur le comte left
home two hours ago."
D'Artagnan did not trouble himself about such trifles. "Very good!" said
he. "You always speak the best French in the world; you shall give me a
lesson in grammar and correct language, whilst I wait the return of your
"That is impossible, monsieur," said Blaisois; "you would have to wait
"Will he not come back to-day, then?"
"No, nor to-morrow, nor the day after to-morrow. Monsieur le comte has
gone on a journey."
"A journey!" said D'Artagnan, surprised; "that's a fable, Master
"Monsieur, it is no more than the truth. Monsieur has done me the honor
to give me the house in charge; and he added, with his voice so full of
authority and kindness - that is all one to me: 'You will say I have gone
"Well!" cried D'Artagnan, "since he is gone towards Paris, that is all I
wanted to know! you should have told me so at first, booby! He is then
two hours in advance?"
"I shall soon overtake him. Is he alone?"
"Who is with him, then?"
"A gentleman whom I don't know, an old man, and M. Grimaud."
"Such a party cannot travel as fast as I can - I will start."
"Will monsieur listen to me an instant?" said Blaisois, laying his hand
gently on the reins of the horse.
"Yes, if you don't favor me with fine speeches, and make haste."
"Well, then, monsieur, that word Paris appears to me to be only an
"Oh, oh!" said D'Artagnan, seriously, "an excuse, eh?"
"Yes, monsieur: and monsieur le comte is not going to Paris, I will
"What makes you think so?"
"This, - M. Grimaud always knows where our master is going; and he had
promised me that the first time he went to Paris, he would take a little
money for me to my wife."
"What, have you a wife, then?"
"I had one - she was of this country; but monsieur thought her a noisy
scold, and I sent her to Paris; it is sometimes inconvenient, but very
agreeable at others."
"I understand; but go on. You do not believe the count gone to Paris?"
"No, monsieur; for then M. Grimaud would have broken his word; he would
have perjured himself, and that is impossible."
"That is impossible," repeated D'Artagnan, quite in a study, because he
was quite convinced. "Well, my brave Blaisois, many thanks to you."
"Come, you know I am not curious - I have serious business with your
master. Could you not, by a little bit of a word - you who speak so
well - give me to understand - one syllable only - I will guess the
"Upon my word, monsieur, I cannot. I am quite ignorant where monsieur le
comte is gone. As to listening at doors, that is contrary to my nature;
and besides, it is forbidden here."
"My dear fellow," said D'Artagnan, "this is a very bad beginning for me.
Never mind; you know when monsieur le comte will return, at least?"
"As little, monsieur, as the place of his destination."
"Come, Blaisois, come, search."
"Monsieur doubts my sincerity? Ah, monsieur, that grieves me much."
"The devil take his gilded tongue!" grumbled D'Artagnan. "A clown with a
word would be worth a dozen of him. Adieu!"
"Monsieur, I have the honor to present you my respects."
"_Cuistre!_" said D'Artagnan to himself, "the fellow is unbearable." He
gave another look up to the house, turned his horse's head, and set off
like a man who has nothing either annoying or embarrassing in his mind.
When he was at the end of the wall, and out of sight, - "Well, now, I
wonder," said he, breathing quickly, "whether Athos was at home. No; all
those idlers, standing with their arms crossed, would have been at work
if the eye of the master was near. Athos gone on a journey? - that is
incomprehensible. Bah! it is all devilish mysterious! And then - no -
he is not the man I want. I want one of a cunning, patient mind. My
business is at Melun, in a certain presbytery I am acquainted with.
Forty-five leagues - four days and a half! Well, it is fine weather, and
I am free. Never mind the distance!"
And he put his horse into a trot, directing his course towards Paris. On
the fourth day he alighted at Melun, as he had intended.
D'Artagnan was never in the habit of asking any one on the road for any
common information. For these sorts of details, unless in very serious
circumstances, he confided in his perspicacity, which was so seldom at
fault, in his experience of thirty years, and in a great habit of reading
the physiognomies of houses, as well as those of men. At Melun,
D'Artagnan immediately found the presbytery - a charming house, plastered
over red brick, with vines climbing along the gutters, and a cross, in
carved stone, surmounting the ridge of the roof. From the ground-floor
of this house came a noise, or rather a confusion of voices, like the
chirping of young birds when the brood is just hatched under the down.
One of these voices was spelling the alphabet distinctly. A voice thick,
yet pleasant, at the same time scolded the talkers and corrected the
faults of the reader. D'Artagnan recognized that voice, and as the
window of the ground-floor was open, he leant down from his horse under
the branches and red fibers of the vine and cried, "Bazin, my dear Bazin!
good-day to you."
A short, fat man, with a flat face, a cranium ornamented with a crown of
gray hairs, cut short, in imitation of a tonsure, and covered with an old
black velvet cap, arose as soon as he heard D'Artagnan - we ought not to
say arose, but _bounded up_. In fact, Bazin bounded up, carrying with
him his little low chair, which the children tried to take away, with
battles more fierce than those of the Greeks endeavoring to recover the
body of Patroclus from the hands of the Trojans. Bazin did more than
bound; he let fall both his alphabet and his ferule. "You!" said he;
"you, Monsieur D'Artagnan?"
"Yes, myself! Where is Aramis - no, M. le Chevalier d'Herblay - no, I am
still mistaken - Monsieur le Vicaire-General?"
"Ah, monsieur," said Bazin, with dignity, "monseigneur is at his diocese."
"What did you say?" said D'Artagnan. Bazin repeated the sentence.
"Ah, ah! but has Aramis a diocese?"
"Yes, monsieur. Why not?"
"Is he a bishop, then?"
"Why, where can you come from," said Bazin, rather irreverently, "that
you don't know that?"
"My dear Bazin, we pagans, we men of the sword, know very well when a man
is made a colonel, or maitre-de-camp, or marshal of France; but if he be
made a bishop, arch-bishop, or pope - devil take me if the news reaches
us before the three quarters of the earth have had the advantage of it!"
"Hush! hush!" said Bazin, opening his eyes: "do not spoil these poor
children, in whom I am endeavoring to inculcate such good principles."
In fact, the children had surrounded D'Artagnan, whose horse, long sword,
spurs, and martial air they very much admired. But above all, they
admired his strong voice; so that, when he uttered his oath, the whole
school cried out, "The devil take me!" with fearful bursts of laughter,
shouts, and bounds, which delighted the musketeer, and bewildered the old
"There!" said he, "hold your tongues, you brats! You have come, M.
d'Artagnan, and all my good principles fly away. With you, as usual,
comes disorder. Babel is revived. Ah! Good Lord! Ah! the wild little
wretches!" And the worthy Bazin distributed right and left blows which
increased the cries of his scholars by changing the nature of them.
"At least," said he, "you will no longer decoy any one here."
"Do you think so?" said D'Artagnan, with a smile which made a shudder
creep over the shoulders of Bazin.
"He is capable of it," murmured he.
"Where is your master's diocese?"
"Monseigneur Rene is bishop of Vannes."
"Who had him nominated?"
"Why, monsieur le surintendant, our neighbor."
"What! Monsieur Fouquet?"
"To be sure he did."
"Is Aramis on good terms with him, then?"
"Monseigneur preached every Sunday at the house of monsieur le
surintendant at Vaux; then they hunted together."
"And monseigneur composed his homilies - no, I mean his sermons - with
monsieur le surintendant."
"Bah! he preached in verse, then, this worthy bishop?"
"Monsieur, for the love of heaven, do not jest with sacred things."
"There, Bazin, there! So, then, Aramis is at Vannes?"
"At Vannes, in Bretagne."
"You are a deceitful old hunks, Bazin; that is not true."
"See, monsieur, if you please; the apartments of the presbytery are
"He is right there," said D'Artagnan, looking attentively at the house,
the aspect of which announced solitude.
"But monseigneur must have written you an account of his promotion."
"When did it take place?"
"A month back."
"Oh! then there is no time lost. Aramis cannot yet have wanted me. But
how is it, Bazin, you do not follow your master?"
"Monsieur, I cannot; I have occupations."
"And my penitents."
"What, do you confess, then? Are you a priest?"
"The same as one. I have such a call."
"But the orders?"
"Oh," said Bazin, without hesitation, "now that monseigneur is a bishop,
I shall soon have my orders, or at least my dispensations." And he
rubbed his hands.
"Decidedly," said D'Artagnan to himself, "there will be no means of
uprooting these people. Get me some supper, Bazin."
"With pleasure, monsieur."
"A fowl, a _bouillon,_ and a bottle of wine."
"This is Saturday night, monsieur - it is a day of abstinence."
"I have a dispensation," said D'Artagnan.
Bazin looked at him suspiciously.
"Ah, ah, master hypocrite!" said the musketeer, "for whom do you take
me? If you, who are the valet, hope for dispensation to commit a crime,
shall not I, the friend of your bishop, have dispensation for eating meat
at the call of my stomach? Make yourself agreeable with me, Bazin, or by
heavens! I will complain to the king, and you shall never confess. Now
you know that the nomination of bishops rests with the king, - I have the
king, I am the stronger."
Bazin smiled hypocritically. "Ah, but we have monsieur le surintendant,"
"And you laugh at the king, then?"
Bazin made no reply; his smile was sufficiently eloquent.
"My supper," said D'Artagnan, "it is getting towards seven o'clock."
Bazin turned round and ordered the eldest of the pupils to inform the
cook. In the meantime, D'Artagnan surveyed the presbytery.
"Phew!" said he, disdainfully, "monseigneur lodged his grandeur very
"We have the Chateau de Vaux," said Bazin.
"Which is perhaps equal to the Louvre?" said D'Artagnan, jeeringly.
"Which is better," replied Bazin, with the greatest coolness imaginable.
"Ah, ah!" said D'Artagnan.
He would perhaps have prolonged the discussion, and maintained the
superiority of the Louvre, but the lieutenant perceived that his horse
remained fastened to the bars of a gate.
"The devil!" said he. "Get my horse looked after; your master the bishop
has none like him in his stables."
Bazin cast a sidelong glance at the horse, and replied, "Monsieur le
surintendant gave him four from his own stables; and each of the four is
worth four of yours."
The blood mounted to the face of D'Artagnan. His hand itched and his eye
glanced over the head of Bazin, to select the place upon which he should
discharge his anger. But it passed away; reflection came, and D'Artagnan
contented himself with saying, -
"The devil! the devil! I have done well to quit the service of the
king. Tell me, worthy Master Bazin," added he, "how many musketeers does
monsieur le surintendant retain in his service?"
"He could have all there are in the kingdom with his money," replied
Bazin, closing his book, and dismissing the boys with some kindly blows
of his cane.
"The devil! the devil!" repeated D'Artagnan, once more, as if to annoy
the pedagogue. But as supper was now announced, he followed the cook,
who introduced him into the refectory, where it awaited him. D'Artagnan
placed himself at the table, and began a hearty attack upon his fowl.
"It appears to me," said D'Artagnan, biting with all his might at the
tough fowl they had served up to him, and which they had evidently
forgotten to fatten, - "it appears that I have done wrong in not seeking
service with that master yonder. A powerful noble this intendant,
seemingly! In good truth, we poor fellows know nothing at the court, and
the rays of the sun prevent our seeing the large stars, which are also
suns, at a little greater distance from our earth, - that is all."
As D'Artagnan delighted, both from pleasure and system, in making people
talk about things which interested him, he fenced in his best style with
Master Bazin, but it was pure loss of time; beyond the tiresome and
hyperbolical praises of monsieur le surintendant of the finances, Bazin,
who, on his side, was on his guard, afforded nothing but platitudes to
the curiosity of D'Artagnan, so that our musketeer, in a tolerably bad
humor, desired to go to bed as soon as he had supped. D'Artagnan was
introduced by Bazin into a mean chamber, in which there was a poor bed;
but D'Artagnan was not fastidious in that respect. He had been told that
Aramis had taken away the key of his own private apartment, and as he
knew Aramis was a very particular man, and had generally many things to
conceal in his apartment, he had not been surprised. He, therefore,
although it seemed comparatively even harder, attacked the bed as bravely
as he had done the fowl; and, as he had as good an inclination to sleep
as he had had to eat, he took scarcely longer time to be snoring
harmoniously than he had employed in picking the last bones of the bird.
Since he was no longer in the service of any one, D'Artagnan had promised
himself to indulge in sleeping as soundly as he had formerly slept
lightly; but with whatever good faith D'Artagnan had made himself this
promise, and whatever desire he might have to keep it religiously, he was
awakened in the middle of the night by a loud noise of carriages, and
servants on horseback. A sudden illumination flashed over the walls of
his chamber; he jumped out of bed and ran to the window in his shirt.
"Can the king be coming this way?" he thought, rubbing his eyes; "in
truth, such a suite can only be attached to royalty."
"_Vive le monsieur le surintendant!_" cried, or rather vociferated, from
a window on the ground-floor, a voice which he recognized as Bazin's, who
at the same time waved a handkerchief with one hand, and held a large
candle in the other. D'Artagnan then saw something like a brilliant
human form leaning out of the principal carriage; at the same time loud
bursts of laughter, caused, no doubt, by the strange figure of Bazin, and
issuing from the same carriage, left, as it were, a train of joy upon the
passage of the rapid _cortege_.
"I might easily see it was not the king," said D'Artagnan; "people don't
laugh so heartily when the king passes. _Hola_, Bazin!" cried he to his
neighbor, three-quarters of whose body still hung out of the window, to
follow the carriage with his eyes as long as he could. "What is all that
"It is M. Fouquet," said Bazin, in a patronizing tone.
"And all those people?"
"That is the court of M. Fouquet."
"Oh, oh!" said D'Artagnan; "what would M. de Mazarin say to that if he
heard it?" And he returned to his bed, asking himself how Aramis always
contrived to be protected by the most powerful personages in the
kingdom. "Is it that he has more luck than I, or that I am a greater
fool than he? Bah!" That was the concluding word by the aid of which
D'Artagnan, having become wise, now terminated every thought and every
period of his style. Formerly he said, "_Mordioux!_" which was a prick
of the spur, but now he had become older, and he murmured that
philosophical "_Bah!_" which served as a bridle to all the passions.
In which D'Artagnan seeks Porthos, and only finds Mousqueton.
When D'Artagnan had perfectly convinced himself that the absence of the
Vicar-General d'Herblay was real, and that his friend was not to be found
at Melun or in its vicinity, he left Bazin without regret, cast an ill-
natured glance at the magnificent Chateau de Vaux, which was beginning to
shine with that splendor which brought on its ruin, and, compressing his
lips like a man full of mistrust and suspicion, he put spurs to his pied
horse, saying, "Well, well! I have still Pierrefonds left, and there I
shall find the best man and the best filled coffer. And that is all I
want, for I have an idea of my own."
We will spare our readers the prosaic incidents of D'Artagnan's journey,
which terminated on the morning of the third day within sight of
Pierrefonds. D'Artagnan came by the way of Nanteuil-le-Haudouin and
Crepy. At a distance he perceived the Castle of Louis of Orleans, which,
having become part of the crown domain, was kept by an old _concierge_.
This was one of those marvelous manors of the middle ages, with walls
twenty feet in thickness, and a hundred in height.
D'Artagnan rode slowly past its walls, measured its towers with his eye
and descended into the valley. From afar he looked down upon the chateau
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