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CarmeHtes, Henrietta had desired her daughter to attend her
at the palace, which she had inhabited for a long time, and
which ^e had only left because their poverty seemed to them
more diflicult to bear in gilded chambers.

Mordaunt followed the carriage, and when he had watched
it drive under the sombre arches, he went and stationed himself


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under a wall over which the shadow was extended, and remained
motionless, like an equestrian statue.



"Well, madam," said Winter, when the Queen had dismissed
her attendants, "does the Cardinal refuse to receive the King?
•France refuse hospitality to an unfortunate prince? But it is
for the first time, madam!"

**I did not say France, my lord, I said the Cardinal, and the
Cardinal is not even a Frenchman."

**But did you see the Queen?"

"It is useless," replied Henrietta; **the Queen will not say
yes when the Cardinal has said no. Are you not aware that
this Italian directs everything, both indoors and out? Did
you not observe the agitation in the Palais Royal, the passing
to and fro of busy people? Can they have received any news,
my lord?"

"Not from England, madam. I made such haste that I am
certain of not having been forestalled. I set out three days ago,
passing miraculously through the Puritan army, and I took post-
horses with my servant Tony ; the horses upon which we were
mounted were bought in Paris. Besides, the King, I am certain,
awaits your majesty's reply before risking anything."

"You will tell him, my lord," resumed the Queen, despair-
y, "that I shall go and die by his side."

^ Madam, madam!" exclaimed Winter, "your majesty
. abandons yourself to despair ; and yet, perhaps, there still re-
mains some hope."

"No friends left, my lord; no other friends left in the whole
world but yourself 1 Oh God!" exclaimed the poor Queen,
raising her eyes to Heaven, "have you indeed taken back all
the generous hearts which existed in the world?"

"I hope not, madam," replied Winter, thoughtfully; "I
once spoke to you of four men."

"What can be done with four men?"

"Four devoted, resolute men can do much, be assured,
madam, and those of whom I speak have done much at one

"And these men were your friends?"

"One of them held my life in his hands, and gave it to me.
I know not whether he is still my friend; but since that time
I have remained his."

"Tell me their names, perhaps I have heard them men-
tioned, and might be able to assist you in finding them."

"One of them was called the Chevalier d'Artagnan."



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"Oh! my lord, if I do not mistake, the Chevalier d'Artag-
nan is a lieutenant of the life guards; but take care, for I fear
that this man is devoted entirely to the Cardinal."

"That would be a misfortune," said Winter, **and I shall
begin to think that we are really doomed."

**But the others," said the Queen, who clung to this last hope
as a shipwrecked man clings to the remains of his vessel,
**the others, my lord!"

"The second — I heard his name by chance; for before fight-
ing us, these four gentlemen told us their names; the second
was called the Count de la Fere. As for the two others, I
had so much the habit of calling them by their nicknames,
that I have forgotten their real ones."

"My lord, they must be found; but what can four men, or
rather three men, do! — for I tell you, you must not count on
M. d'Artagnan."

"It will be one valiant sword the less, but there will remain
still three, without reckoning my own; now four devoted men
round the King to protect him from his enemies, — to be at his
side in battle, to aid him in counsel, to escort his flight, are
sufficient — not to make the King a conqueror, but to save him
if conquered; and whatever Mazarin may say — once on the
shores of France, your royal husband may find as many re-
treats and asylums as the sea-bird finds in storms."

"Seek them, my lord, — seek these gentlemen; and if they
will consent to go with you to England, I will give to each a
dukedom the day that we re-ascend the throne, besides as much
gold as would pave Whitehall. Seek them, my lord. Seek
them, I conjure you."

"I will search for them well, madam," said Winter, "and
doubtless I shall find them — ^but time fails me. Has your
majesty forgotten that the King expects your reply, and awaits
it in agony?"

"Then, indeed, we are lost," cried the Queen, in the fulness
of a broken heart.

At this moment the door opened, and the young Henrietta
appeared; then the Queen, with that wonderful strength
which is the heroism of a mother, repressed her tears, and
motioned to Winter to change the subject of conversation.

"What do you want, Henrietta?" she demanded.

"My mother," replied the young princess, "a cavalier has
just entered the Louvre, and wishes to present his respects
to your majesty; he arrives from the army, and has, he says, a
letter to remit to you on the part of the Marshal de Gram-
mont, I think."

"Ah!" said the Queen to Winter, "he is one of my faithful
adherents; but do you not observe, my dear lord, that we are
so poorly served that it is my daughter who fills the office of


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"Madam, have pity on me," exclaimed Winter; "you break
my heart!"

"And who is the cavalier, Henrietta?" asked the Queen.

**I saw him from the window, madam; he is a young man
who appears scarcely sixteen years of age, the Viscount de

The Queen, smiling, gave a nod; the young princess opened
the door, and Raoul appeared on the threshold.

Advancing a few steps towards the Queen, he knelt down.

"Madam," said he; "I bear to your majesty a letter from
my friend the Count de Guiche, who told me he had the honor
of being your servant; this letter contains important news
and the expression of his respect."

At the name of the Count de Guiche, a blush spread over
the cheeks of the young princess, and the Queen glanced at
her with some degree of severity.

"You told me that the letter was from Marshal de Gram-
roont, Henrietta," said the Queen.

"I thought so, madam," stammered the young girl.

"It is my fault, madam," said Raoul. "I did announce myself
in truth, as coming on the part of de Grammont; but being
wounded in the right arm, he was unable to write, and there-
fore the Count de Guiche served as his secretary."

"There has been fighting, then?" asked the Queen, motion-
ing to Raoul to rise.

"Yes, madam," said the young man.

"But no harm has happened to the young Count de Guiche?"
she asked; "for not only is he our servant, as you say sir,
but more; he is one of our friends."

"No madam," replied Raoul; "on the contrary, he gained
great glory on that day, and had the honor of being embraced
by his highness the prince on the field of battle."

The young princess clasped her hands; and then, ashamed of
having been betrayed into such a demonstration of joy, she
half turned away, and bent over a vase of roses, as if to inhale
their odor.

"Let us see," said the Queen, "what the count says." And
she opened the letter and read:

"Madam, — ^Being unable to have the honor of writing to
you myself, by reason of a wound which I have received in
the right hand, I have commanded my son, the Count de Guiche.
who with his father, is equally your humble servant, to write
to tell you that we have just gained the battle of Lens, and
that this victory cannot fail to give great power to the Car-
dinal Mazarin and to the Queen over the aifairs of Europe. If
her majesty will have faith in my counsels, she ought to profit
by this event to address at this moment, in favor of her
august husband, the court of France. The Viscount de Brag-


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elonne, who will have the honor of remitting this letter to
your majesty, is the friend of my son, to whom he owes his
life; he is a gentleman in whom your majesty can confide
entirely, in the case when your majesty may have some verbal
or written order to forward to me.

"I have the honor to be, with respect, &c.,

"de Gram MONT."

At the moment, when mention occurred of his having ren-
dered a service to the count, Raoul could not help turning his
eyes toward the young princess, and then he saw in her eyes
an expression of infinite gratitude to the young man; he no
longer doubted that the daughter of King Charles the First
loved his friend.

"The battle of Lens gained!" said the Queen; "they are
liicky indeed for me — they can gain battles I Yes, Marshal
de Grammont is right; this will change the aspect of affairs;
but I much fear it will do nothing for ours, even if it does not
harm them- This is recent news, sir," continued she, **and I
thank you for having made such haste to bring it to me;
without this letter I should not have heard it till to-morrow —
perhaps after to-morrow — the last of all Paris."

"Madam," said Raoul, "the Louvre is but the second palace
which this news has reached; it is as yet uYiknown to all, and
1 had sworn to the Count de Guiche to remit this letter to
your majesty ere even I should greet my guardian."

"Your guardian! is he too a Bragelonne?" asked Lord Winter.
**I knew formerly a Bragelonne — is he still alive?" ^

"No, sir, he is dead; and I believe it is from him that my
guardian, whose near relation he was, inherited the estate
from which I take my name."

"And your guardian, sir," asked the Queen, who could not
help feeling some interest in the handsome young man before
her, "what is his name?"

"The Count de la Fere, madam," replied the young man,

Winter made a gesture of surprise, and the Queen turned to
him with a start of joy.

"The Count de la Fere!" cried Winter in his turn. **0h,
sir, reply, I entreat you — is not the Count de la Fere a noble>
whom I remember, handsome and brave, a Musketeer under
Louis XITL, and who must be now about forty-seven or forty-
eight years of age?"

"Yes, sir, you are right in every respect."

**And who served under a nick-name?"

"Under the name of Athos. Latterly I heard his friend,
M. d'Artagnan, give him that name."

"That is it, madam, that is the same. God be praised! And
he is in Paris?" continued he, addressing Raoul; then, turn-


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ing to the Queen — **We may still hope. Providence has de-
clared for us, since I have found this brave man again in so
miraculous a manner. And, sir, where does he reside, pray?"

"The Count de la Fere lodges in the Rue Guenegand, the
Grand Roi Charlemagne Hotel."

"Thanks, sir. Inform this dear friend that I shall go and
see him immediately."

"Sir, I obey this pleasure, if her majesty will permit me
to depart."

"Go, M. de Bragelonne," said the Queen, "and be assured
of our affection."

Raoul bent respectfully before the two princesses, and, bow-
ing to Winter, departed.

The Queen and Winter continued to converse for some
time in low voices, in order that the young princess should
not overhear them; but the precaution was needless; she was
in deep converse with her own thoughts.

Then, when Winter rose to take leave —

"Listen, my lord,"/ said the Queen; "I have preserved this
diamond cross which came from my mother, and this order of
St. Michael, which came from my husband. They are worth
about fifty thousand pounds. I had sworn to die of hunger
rather than to part with these precious pledges; but now tiiat
this ornament may be useful to him or to h^ defenders, every-
thing must be sacrificed to the hope of it. Take them, and if
you need money for your expeditions, sell them fearlessly, my
lord. But should you find the means of retaining them, re-
member, my lord, that I shall esteem you as having rendered
the greatest service which a gentleman can render to a Queen;
and in the day of my prosperity, he who brings me this order
and this cross will be blessed bv me and my children."

"Madam," replied Winter, your majesty will be served
by a man devoted to you. I hasten to deposit these two ob-
jects in a safe place, nor should I accept them if the resources
of our ancient fortune were left to us; but our estates are con-
fiscated, ready money is exhausted, and we are reduced to
turn into resources everything we possess. In an hour hence I
shall be with the Count de la Fere, and to-morrow your majesty
shall have a definite answer."

The Queen tendered her hand to Lord Winter, who, kissing
it respectfully, went out, traversing alone, unconducted, those
large dark and deserted apartments, and brushing away tears
which, hardened as he was by fifty years spent as a courier,
he could not help shedding at the spectacle of this royal distress,
so dignified and yet so intense.


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The horse and servant belonging to Winter were waiting for
him at the door; he sauntered towards his abode very thought-
fully, looking behind him from time to time to contemplate
the dark and silent facade of the Louvre. It was then that he
saw a horseman, as it were, detach himself from the wall and
follow him at a little distance. In leaving the Royal Palace,
he remembered to have observed a similar shadow.

**Tony,*' he said, motioning to his groom to approach, **did
you remark that man who is following us?**

•*Yes, my lord."

"Who is he?"

**I do not know, only he has followed your grace from the
Palais Royal, stopped at the Louvre to wait for you, and now
leaves the Louvre with you."

"Some spy of the Cardinal," said Winter to his aide "Let
us pretend not to notice that he is watching us."

And spurring on, he pursued the labyrinth of streets which
led to his house. Lord Winter naturally returned to lodge near
his ancient dwelling.

The unknown put his horse into a gallop.

Winter dismounted at his hotel, went up into his apartment,
intending to watch the spy; but as he was about to place his
gloves and hat on the table, he saw reflected in a glass opposite
to him a figure which stood on the threshold of the room.
He turned round, and Mordaunt was before him.

There was a moment of frozen silence between these two

"Sir," said Winter, "I thought I had already made you
aware that I am weary of this persecution; withdraw, then, or
I shall call, and have you turned out, as you were in London.
I am not your uncle; I know you not."

"My uncle," replied Mordaunt, with his harsh and bantering
tone, "you are mistaken; you will not have me turned out this
time, as you did in London; you dare not. As for denying
that I am your nephew, you will think twice about it, now
that I have learnt some things of which I was ignorant a few
days ago."

**And how does it concern me what you have learnt?" said

"Oh, it concerneth you much, my uncle, I am sure; and you
will soon be of my opinion," added he, with a smile which
sent a shudder through the veins of him whom he addressed.
"When I presented myself before you for the first time in


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London, it was to ask you what had become of my wealth;
the second time it was to demand who had sullied my name;
and this time I come before you to ask a question far more
terrible than any other; to ask you, my lord, what have you
done with your sister — ^your sister, who was my mother?"

Winter shrank from the fire of those scorching eyes.

"Your mother?" he said.

**Yes, my lord; my mother," replied the young man, advanc-
ing into the room till he was face to face with Lord Winter,
and crossing his arms. "I have asked the headsman of Be-
thune," he said, his voice hoarse and his face livid with pas-
sion and grief, "and the headsman of Bethune gave me a reply.
All is now explained; with this key the abyss is opened. My
mother had inherited an estate from her husband, and you as-
sassinated my mother; my name would have secured to me
the paternal estate, and you have despoiled me of my name,
you have deprived me of my fortune. I am no longer aston-
ished that you knew me not. I am not surprised that you re-
fused to recognize me. When a man is a robber, it is unbe-
coming to^ call him a nephew whom he has impoverished;
when one is a murderer, to term that man whom he has made
an orphan, a relative."

These words produced a contrary effect to what Mordaunt
had anticipated. Winter remembered the monster that My
lady had been; he rose, dignified and calm, restraining by the
severity of his look the wild glances of the young man.

"You desire to fathom this horrible secret?" said Winter;
"well, then, so be it. Know, then, what that woman was for
whom to-day you come to call me to account. That woman
had, in all probability, poisoned my brother, and in order to
inherit from me she was about to assassinate me in my turn.
I have proof of it. What say you to that?"

"I say that she was my mother."

"She caused the unfortunate Duke of Buckingham to be
stabbed by a man who was, ere that, honest, good, and pure.
What say you to that crime, of which I have the proof?"

"She was my mother!"

"On our return to France she had a young woman who was
attached to one of her foes poisoned in the convent of the
Augustines at Bethune. Will this crime persuade you of the
justice of her punishment? of this I have the proofs!"

"Silence, sir — she still was my mother!" exclaimed the young
man, his face running with sweat, his hair, like Hamlet's,
standing upon his forehead, and raging with fury; "she was
my mother! her crimes, I know them not — ^her disorderly con-
duct, I know it not — her vices, I know them not. But this I
know, that I had a mother, that five men leagued against one
woman, murdered her clandestinely by night — silently — like
cowards. I know that you were one of them, my uncle, and


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that you cried louder than the others — *she must die/ There-
fore I warn you — ^and listen well to my words, that they may
be engraved on your memory, never to be forgotten — ^this mur-
der, which has robbed me of everything — ^this murder, which
has deprived me of my name — ^this murder, which has impov-
erished me — ^this murder, which has made me corrupt, wicked,
implacable — ^I shall summon you to account for it first, and
then those who were your accomplices — ^when I discover them ! **

With hatred in his eyes, foaming at his mouth, and his fist
extended, Mordaunt had advanced one more step — a threat-
ening, terrible step— towards Winter. The latter put his hand
to his sword, and said, with the smile of a man who for thirty
years has jested with death:

"Would you murder me, sir? Then I shall recognize you
as my nephew, for you are a worthy son of such a mother."

**No,'* replied Mordaunt, forcing all the veins of his face,
and the muscles of his body to resume their usual places and
to be calm; "no, I shall not kill you — at least, not at this mo-
ment, for without you I could not discover the others. But
when I have found them, then tremble, sir. I have stabbed
the headsman of Bethune — stabbed him without mercy or pity,
and he was the least guilty of you all."

With these words the young man went out, and descended
the stair sufficiently calm to pass unobserved; then, upon the
lowest landing-place, he passed Tony leaning over the balus-
trade, waiting only for a call from his master to mount to his

But Winter did not call; crushed, enfeebled, he remained
standing, and with listening ear; then only, when he heard
the step of the horse going away, he fell back on a chair

"My God, I thank thee that he knows me alone."



While this terrible scene was passing at Lord Winter's,
Athos, seated near his window, his elbow on the table, and his
head supported on his hand, was listening intently to Raoul's
account of the adventures he met with on his journey, and
the details of the battle.

Listening to the relation of those first emotions so fresh
and pure, th^ fine, noble face of Athos betrayed indescribable
pleasure; he inhaled the tones of that young voice as harmoni-
ous music. He forgot all that was dark in the past, and that
was cloudy in the future. It almost seemed as if the return of


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tfiis mucH-loved boy had changed his fear into hopes. Athos
was happy—happy as he had never been before.

**And you took part in this great battle, Bragclonne?" said
the former Musketeer.

-Yes, sir."

**And it was a hard one?"

"The Prince charged eleven times in person."

**He is a great commander, Bragelonne."

"He is a hero, sir; I did not lose sight of him for an in-
stant Oh! how fine it is to be called Count and to be worthy
of such a name! He is as calm as at parade; as radiant
as at a dance!**

"Well, very good; you will be the same, when the oppor-
tunity occurs — ^will you, Raoul?"

**I know not, sir, but I thought it was very fine and grand!"

"And the prince was pleased with you?"

"He told me so, at least, sir, when he desired me to return
to Paris with M. de Chatillon, who was charged to carry the
news to the Queen, and to bring the colors we had taken.
*Go,' said he, *the enemy will not rally for fifteen days, and
until that time I have no need of your service. Go and see
those whom you love, and who love you, and tell my sister
de Longueville that I thank her for the present she made
me of you.* And I came, sir," added Raoul, gazing at the
count with a smile of real affection, "for I thought you would
be glad to see me again."

Athos drew the young man towards him, and pressed his
lips to his brow, as he would have done to a young daughter.

"And now, Raoul," said he, "you are launched; you have
dukes for friends, a marshal of France for a godfather, a
prince of the blood as commander, and on the day of your
return you have been received by two queens; it is rather well
for a novice."

"Oh, sir!" said Raoul, suddenly, "you recall something to
me, which in my haste to relate my exploits, I had forgotten;
it is that there was with her Majesty the Queen of England,
a gentleman who, when I pronounced your name, uttered a cry
of surprise and joy; he said he was a friend of yours — ^asked
your address and is coming to see you."

"What is his name?"

"I did not dare ask, sir; he spoke elegantly, although I
thought from his accent he was an Englishman."

"Ah!" said Athos, leaning down his head as if he remem-
bered who it could be. Then, when he raised it again, he was
struck by the presence of a man who was standing at the open
door, and was gazing at him with a compassionate air.

"Lord Winter!" exclaimed the count. *

"Athos, my friend!"

And the two gentlemen were for an instant locked in each


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other's arms; then Athos, looking into his friend's face, and

taking him by both hands, said:

i "'What ails you, my lord? you appear us unhappy as I am


' **Yes, truly, dear friend; and I may even say that the sight

of you increases my dismay.**

And Winter glancing around him, Raoul quickly understood
that the two friends wished to be alone, and he therefore left
the room unaffectedly.

**Come, now that we are alone," said Athos, **let us talk of

"Whilst we are alone let us speak of ourselves," replied
Winter. "My lady's son is here. '

Athos, who was again struck by this name, which seemed to
pursue him like an echo, hesitated for a moment, then, slightly
knitting his brow, he calmly said:

"I know it; Grimaud met him between Bethune and Arras,
and then came here to warn me of his presence."

"Does Grimaud know him, then?" '

"No; but he was present at the death-bed of a man who
knew him."

"The headsman of Bethune!" exclaimed Winter.

"You know about that?" cried Athos, astonished.

"He has just left me," replied Winter, "after telling me all.
Ah! my friend! what a horrible scene! Why did we not crush
the child with the mother?"

"What need you fear?" said Athos, recovering from the
instinctive fear he had first experienced, by the aid of reason;
"are we not able to defend ourselves? Is this young man an
assassin by profession — a murderer^ in cold blood? He has
killed the executioner of Bethune in an impulse of passion,
but now his fury is assuaged."

Winter smiled sorrowfully, and shook his head.

"Do you not then know the race?" said he.

"Pooh!" said Athos, trying to smile in his turn. "It must

Online LibraryAlexandre DumasTwenty years after → online text (page 16 of 38)