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TWENTY YEARS AFTER. 205

lord, without hesitation, and with the conviction that I am
worthy of it"

**More worthy than everyone, my dear friend; therefore I
apply to you. You are about to leave this evening," continued
^Jazarin. "My dear d'Artagnan, the welfare of the state is
reposed in your hand." He paused.

"The Queen has resolved to make a little excursion with the
King to St. Germain."

"Ah ! ah !" said d*Artagnan, "that is to say, the Queen wishes
to leave Paris." \

"A woman's fancy— you understand."

"Yes, I understand perfectly," said d'Artagnaa

"It was for this that she summoned you this morning, and
that she told you to return at five o'clock."

"Was it worth while to wish me to swear this morning that
I would mention the appointment to no one?" muttered d'Ar-
tagnan. "Oh, wonKn! women 1 whether queens or not, they
are always the same."

"Do you disapprove of this journey, my dear M. d'Artag-
nan?" asked Mazarin, anxiously.

"I, my lord?" said d'Artagnan; "and why?"

"Because you shrug your shoulders."

"It is a way I have of speaking to myself, I neither approve
nor disapprove, my lord; I merely await your commands."

"Good; it is you, tiierefore, that I have looked upon to escort
the King and the Queen to St. Germain."

"You double deceiver!" said d*Artagnan to himself.

"You see, therefore," continued Mazarin, perceiving d'Artag-
nan's composure, "that, as I have told you, the welfare of the
state is placed in your hands."

"Yes, my lord, and I feel the whole responsibility of such a
charge, and accept"

"Do you think the thing possible?"

"Everything is."

"Should you be attacked on the road What would you do?"

"I shall pass through those who attack me."

"And suppose you cannot pass through them?"

"So much the worse for them. I must pass over them."

"And you will place the King and Queen safe and sound at
St Germain?"

"Yes, on my life."

"You are a hero, my dear friend," said Mazarin, gazing at
the Musketeer with admiration.

•lyArtagnan smiled.

"As for me?" asked Mazarin, after a moment's silence.

"How about you, my lord?"

"If I wish to leave?"

"That would be more difficult."

"Why so?"

"Your Eminence might be recognized.



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206 TWENTY YEARS AFTER.

"Even under this disguise?" asked Mazarin, raising a cloak
which covered the ann-chair, upon which lay a complete dress
ior an oflScer, of pearl-grey and red, entirely embroidered with
silver.

"If your Eminence is disguised, it will be more easy."

"Ah!" said Mazarin, breathing more freely.

"But it will be necessary for your Eminence to do what the
other day you declared you should have done in our place,
shout, *Down with Mazarin !* "

"I will."

"In French - in good French, my lord — ^take care of your
accent; they killed six thousand Angevines in Sicily, because
they pronounced Italian badly. Take care that the French do
not take their revenge on you for the Sicilian vespers."

"I will do my best."

"The streets are full of armed men," continued d'Artagnan.

"Are you sure that no one is aware of the Queen's project?"

"This would give a fine opportunity ' for a traitor, my lord;
the chances in an attack would give an excuse for everything."

Mazarin shuddered; but he reflected that a man who had an
intention to betray would not warn first.

"And, therefore," added he quielJy, "I have not confidence
in everyone; the proof of which is, that I have fixed upon you
to escort me. I have my plan: — ^with the Queen, I double her
risk, — after the Queen, her departure would double mine^-^hen,
the court once safe, I might be forgotten; the great are often
ungrateful."

"Very true," said d'Artagnan, fixing his eyes, in spite of him-
self, on the Queen's diamond which Mazarin wore on his
finger. Mazarin followed the direction of his eyes and gently
turned the bezel of the ring inside.

"I wish," he said with a cunning smile, "to prevent them
from being ungrateful to me."

"It is but Christian charity," replied d'Artagnan, "not to
lead one's neighbors into temptation."

"It is exactly for that reason," said Mazarin, "that I wish
to start before them."

D'Artagnan smiled — he was quite the man to understand the
astute Italian. Mazarin saw the smile, and profited by the
sympathy.

"You will begin, therefore, by taking me first out of Paris,
will you not, my dear M. d'Artagnan?

"A difficult commission, my lord," replied d'Artagnan, re-
suming his serious manner.

"But," said Mazarin, "you did not make so many difficulties
with regard to the King and the Queen."

"The King and the Queen are my King and Queen, my lord,*
replied the Musketeer, "my life is theirs, and I ought to give
it for them. They ask it; and I have nothing to say."

"That is true," murmured Mazarin, in a low tone, **1)ut as thy



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TWENTY YEARS AFTER. 207

life is not mine, I suppose I must buy it, must I not?" and
sighing deeply, he began to turn the setting of his ring outside
again. D'Artagnan smiled. These two men met at one point,
and that was, cunning; had they been actuated alike by courage,
the one would haVe done great things for the other.

**But also," said Mazarin^ "you must understand that if 'I
ask this service from you it is with the intention of being grate-
ful."

**Is it still only in intention, my lord?" asked d'Artagnan.

"Stay," said Mazarin, drawing the ring from his finger, **my
dear M. d*Artagnan, here is a diamond which belonged to you
fornnerly, it is but fair that it should be returned to you;
take it, I pray."

D'Artagnan spared Mazarin the trouble of insisting, and after
looking to see if the stone were the same, and assuring himself
of the purity of its water, he took it« and passed it on to his
finger with indescribable pleasure.

"I valued it much," said Mazarin, giving a last look at it;
"nevertheless, I give it to you with great pleasure."

"And I, my lord," said d'Artagnan, "accept it as it is given.
Come, let us speak of your little affairs. You wish to leave
before everybody, and at what hour?"

"At ten o'clock, and the Queen at midnight."

"Then it is possible. I can get you out of Paris and leave
you beyond the bar, and can return for her."

"Capital, but how will you get me out of Paris?"

"Oh! as to that, you must leave it to me."

"I give you full power, therefore take as large an escort as
you like."

D'Artagnan shook his head.

"It seems to me, however," said Mazarin, "the safest
method."

"Yes, for you, my lord, but not for the Queen; you must
leave it to me, and give me the entire direction of the under-
taking."

"Nevertheless "

"Or find some one else," continued d'Artagnan, turning his
back.

"Oh!" muttered Mazarin; "I do believe he is walking off
with the diamond!"

"M. d'Artagnan, my dear M. d'Artagnan," he called out in a
coaxing voice, "will you answer for everything?"

"I will answer for nothing, — I will do my best."

"Well, then, let us go; I must trust to you."

"It is very lucky you do," said d'Artagnan to himself.

"You will be here at half -past nine?"

"And I shall find your Eminence ready?*

"Certainly, quite readv."

"Well, then, it is a settled thing, and now, my lord, will yon



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208 TWENTY YEARS AFTER.

obtain for me an audience with the Queen? I wish to receive
her majesty's commands from her own lips."

"She desired me to give them to you.**

"She may have forgotten something. It is indispensable,
my lord."

Mazarin hesitated for one instant, whilst d'Artagnan re-
mained firm in determination.

"Come, then," said the Premier; "I will conduct you to her,
but remember, not one word of our conversation."

"What has passed between us concerns us alone, my lord,"
replied d'Artagnan.
Swear to be mute."

"I never swear, my lord, I say yes or no, and, as I am a
gentleman, I keep my word."

"Come then, I see that I must trust unreservedlv to "you."

"Believe me, my lord, it will be your best plan. '

"Come," said Mazarin, conducting d'Artagnan into the
Queen's oratory, and desiring him to wait there. He did not
wait long, for in five minutes the Queen entered in full gala
costume. Thus dressed she scarcely appeared thirty-five years
of age,^ and was still handsome.

"It is you, M. d'Artagnan," she said, smiling graciously,
"I thank you for having insisted on seeing me."

"I ought to ask your majesty's pardon; but I wish to re-
ceive jrour commands from your own mouth."

"Will you accept the commission which I have entrusted to
you?"

"With gratitude."

"Very well, be here at midnight."

-I will not fail"

"M. d'Artagnan," continued the Queen, "I know your disin-
terestedness too well to speak of my gratitude at this moment;
but I swear to you that I shall not forget this second service
as I forgot the first."

"Your majesty is free to forget or to remember as it pleases
you; and I Imow not to what you allude," said d'Artagnan,
bowing.

"Go, sir," said the Queen, with her most bewitching smile,
"go and return at midnight"

And d'Artagnan retired, but as he passed out he glanced
at the curtain through which the Queen had entered, and at
the bottom of the tapestry he noticed the tip of a velvet
slipper.

Good," thought he; "Mazarin has been listening to discover
whether I had betrayed him. In truth, that Italian puppet does
not deserve the services of an honest man."

D'Artagnan was not less exact to his appointment, and at
half-past nine o'clock he entered the ante-room.

He found the Cardinal dressed as an officer, and he looked
very well in that costume, which, as we have already said, he



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TWENTY YEARS AFTER. 2X39

wore jauntily, only he was very pale, and trembled a little.

** Quite alone?" he asked.

"Yes, my lord."

"And that worthy M. du Vallon, are we to enjoy his society?"

"Certainly, my lord, he is waiting in his carriage at the gate
of the garden of the Palais Royal

"Oh, we start in his carriage then? And with no other escort
but you two?"

"Is it not enough? One of us would suffice."

"Really, my dear M. d'Artagnan," said the Cardinal, "your
cjolness startles me."

"I should have thought, on the contrary, that it ought to
have inspired you with confidence."

"Let us go,' said Mazarin, "since everything must be ready;
do you wish it?"

"My lord, there is time to draw back," said d'Artagnan,
"and your Eminence is perfectly free."

"Not at all," said Mazarin, "let us be off."

And they both descended the private stair, Mazarin leaning
on d'Artagnan, but his arm the Musketeer felt trembling upon
his own. At last, after crossing the courts, they entered the
garden and reached the private gate. Mazarin attempted to open
it with a key which he took from his pocket, but his hand
trembled so much that he could not find the keyhole.

"Give it to me," said d'Artagnan, who, when the gate was
opened, deposited the key in his pocket, reckoning upon re-
turning by that means.

The steps were already down, and the door open. Mous-
queton held open the door, and Porthos was inside the car-
riage.

"Mount, my lord," said d'Artagnan to Mazarin, who sprang
into the carriage without waiting for the second bidding.
D'Artagnan followed him; and Mousqueton, having closed the
door, mounted behind the carriage with many groans. He
had made some difficulties about going, under pretext that he
still suffered from his wounds, but d'Artagnan had said to him :

"Remain if you like, my dear Mouston, but 1 warn you that
Paris will be burnt down to-night;" upon which Mousqueton
had declared, without asking anything further, that he was
ready to follow his master and M. d'Artagnan to the end of
the world.

The carriage started at a measured pace, without betraying
in the least that it contained people in a hurry. The Cardinal
wiped his forehead with his handkerchief, and looked around
him. On his left was Porthos, whilst d'Artagnan was on his
right; each guarded a door, and served as a rampart to him
on either side. Before him, on the front seat, lay two pairs
of pistols— one before Porthos, and the other before d'Artagnan.
About a hundred paces from the Palais Royal a patrol stopped
the carriage.



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210 TWENTY YEARS AFTER.

"Who goes?" asked the captain.

"Mazarin!" replied d'Artagnan, bursting into a laugh. The
Cardinal's hair stood on end. But the joke appeared excellent
to the citizens, who, seeing the conveyance without escort and
unarmed, would never have believed in the reality of* so great
an imprudence.

"A good journey to ye!" they cried, allowing it to pass.

"Hem!" said d'Artagnan, "what does my lord think of that
reply?"

"Man of talent!" cried Mazarin.

"In truth," said Porthos, "I understand; but now "

About the middle of the Rue des Petits-Champs they were
stopped by a second patrol.

"Who goes there?" mquired the captain of the patroL

"Keep back, my lord," said d'Artagnan. And Mazarin
buried himself so far behind the two friends that he disap-
peared, completely hidden between them.^

"Who goes there?" cried the same voice, impatiently, whilst
d'Artagnan perceived that they had rushed to the horses*
heads. But, putting his head half out of the carriage, "Why!
Planchet," said he.

The chief approached, and it was indeed Planchet; d'Artag-
nan had recognized the voice of his old servant

"How, sir!" said Planchet, "is it you?"

"Oh, dear, yes, my good friend, our worthy Porthos has just
received a sword wound, and I am taking him to his country
house at St. Cloud."

"Oh! really," said Planchet.

"Porthos," said d'Artagnan, "if you can still speak, say a
word, my dear Porthos, to this good Planchet."

"Planchet, my friend," groaned Porthos, in a melancholy
voice, "I am very ill; should you meet a doctor, you will do
me a favor by sending him to me."

"Oh! good Heaven!" said Planchet, "what a misfortune; and
how did it happen?"

"I will tell you all about it by and by," replied Mousqueton.

Porthos uttered a deep groan.

"Make way for us, Planchet," said d'Artagnan in a whisper
to him, "or he will not arrive alive; the lungs are perforated,
my friend."

Planchet shook his head with the air of a man who says:
"In that case, things look ill." Then he exclaimed, turning to
his men, "Let them pass, they are friends."

The carriage resumed its course, and Mazarin, who had held
his breath, ventured to breathe again.

*'Br%ccon%r muttered he.

A few steps in advance of the gate of St. Honor^, they met
a third troop; this latter party was composed of ill-looking
fellows, who resembled bandits more than anything else; they
were the men of the beggar of St. Eustache.



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TWENTY YEARS AFTER. ^ 211

"Attention, Porthos!" cried d'Artagnan. Porthos placed his
hand on his pistols.

"What is it?" asked Mazarin.

**My lord, I think we are in bad company."

A man advanced to the door with a kind of scythe in his
hand.

**Stay, rascal!" said d'Artagnan, **do you not know his high-
ness the prince's carriage?"

"Prince or not," said the man, "open; we are here to guard
the gate, and no one whom we do not know shall pass."

"What is to be done?" said Porthos.

"By Heaven, to pass," replied d'Artagnan.

"But how?" asked Mazarin.

"Through or over; coachman, gallop on."

"Not a step further," said the man, who appeared to be the
captain, "or I will hamstring your horses."

*^Pestr said Porthos, "it would be a pity; animals which cost
me a hundred pistoles each."

"I will pay you two hundred for them," said Mazarin.

"Yes, but when once they are hamstrung, our necks will be
strung next."

"If one of them comes to my side," asked Porthos, "must
I kill him?"

"Yes, by a blow of your fist, if you can; we will not fire
but at the last extremity."

"I can do it," said Porthos.

"Come and open then," cried d'Artagnan to the man with
the scythe, taking one of the pistols up by the muzzle, and
preparing to strike by the butt And as the man approached,
d'Artagnan, in order to have more freedom for his actions,
leant half out of the door; his eyes were fixed upon those of
the beggar which were lighted up by a lantern. Doubtless he
recognized d'Artagnan, for he became deadly pale; doubtless,
the Musketeer knew him, for his hair stood up pn his head.

"M. d'Artagnan!" he cried, falling back a step, "M. d'Artag-
nan! let him pass."

D'Artagnan was, perhaps, about to reply, when a blow sim-
ilar to that of a mallet falling on the head of an ox was heard;
it was Porthos who had just knocked down his man.

"D'Artagnan turned round and saw the unfortunate man
writhing about four steps off.

"S'death!" cried he to the coachman. "Spur your horses!
whip! get on!"

The coachman bestowed a heavy blow of the whip upon his
horses; the noble animals reared, then cries of men who were
knocked down were heard; then a double concussion was felt,
and two of the wheels had passed over a round and flexible
body. There was a moment's silence; the carriage had cleared
the gate.

"to Cours-la-Reine!" cried d'Artagnan to the coachman;



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212 TWENTY YEARS AFTER.

then turning to Mazarin, he said, "Now, my lord, you can say
five paters and five aves to thank Heaven for your deliverance.
You are safe! you are free!"

Mazarin replied only by a groan; he could not believe in such
a miracle. Five minutes later the carriage stopped, having
reached Cours-la-Reine.

"Is my lord pleased with his escort?" asked d'Artagnan.

"Enchanted," said Mazarin, venturing his head out of one
of the windows; "and now do as much for the Queen."

"It will be less difficult," replied d'Artagnan, springing to
the ground. "M. du Vallon, I commend his Eminence to your
care."

"Be quite at ease," said Porthos, holding out his han4, which
d'Artagnan took and shook in his.

"Oh!" said Porthos.

D'Artagnan looked with suiprise at his friend.

"What is the matter, then? he asked.

"I think I have sprained the wrist," said Porthos.

"The devil! why do you strike like a blacksmith?"

"It was necessary — ^my man was going to fire a pistol at me;
but you — ^how did you get rid of yours?"

"Oh! mine," replied d'Artagnan, "was not a man, but a
ghost, and I conjured it away!"

Without further explanation, d'Artagnan took the pistols
wbich were upon the front seat, and placed them in his belt,
wrapped himself in his cloak, and, not wishing to enter by the
same gate as that by which they had left, he took his way
towards the Richelieu gate.



CHAPTER L.

THE coadjutor's CARRIAGE.

D'Artagnan was approached to be examined; and when
it was discovered by his plumed hat and his laced coat that
he was an officer of the Musketeers, he was surrounded, with
an intention to make him cry "Down with Mazarin!" Their
first demonstration did not fail to make him uneasy at first;
' but when he knew what was wanted, he shouted in such a
hasty voice that even the most exacting were satisfied. He
walked down the Rue Richelieu, meditating how he should
carry off the Queen in her turn — for to take her in a carriage
bearing the arms of France was not to be thought of— when
he perceived an equipage standing at the door of Mdme. de
Gu6menee's residence.

He was struck by a sudden idea.

"Ah, by Jove!" he exclaimed; "This would be fair play."

And approaching the carriage, he examined the arms on the



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TWENTY YEARS AFTER. 213

panels, and the livery of the coachman on his box. The
scrutiny was so mudi the more easy, the coachman being
asleep with the reins in his hands.

**It is, in truth, the Coadjutor's carriage," said d'Artagnan;
"upon my honor I begin to think that Heaven is prospering us."

He mounted noiselessly into the chariot, and pulled the silk
cord which was attached to the coachman's little finger.

"To the Royal Palace," he called out.

The coachman awoke with a start, and drove off in the di-
rection he was desired, never doubting but that the order had
come from his master. The porter at the palace was about to
close the gates, but seeing such a handsome equipage, he
fancied that it was some visit of importance, and the carriage
was allowed to pass, and to stop under the porch. It was
then only that the coachnum perceived that the grooms were
not behind the vehicle; he fancied his master had sent them
on, and without leaving the reins he sprang from; his box
.to open the door. D'Artagnan sprang in his turn to the ground,
and just at that moment when the coachman, alarmed at not
seeing his master, fell back a step, he seized him by his collar
with the left, whilst with the right he clapped a pistol to his
throat

"Try to utter one single word," muttered d'Artagnan, "and
you are a dead man."

The coachman perceived at once, by the expression in the
countenance of the man who thus addressed him, that he had
fallen into a trap, and he remained with his mouth wide open
and his eyes immoderately starting.

Two Musketeers were pacing the court, whom d'Artagnan
called by their names.

"M. de Belliere," said he to one of them, "do me the favor
to take the reins from the hands of this worthy man, to mount
upon the box, and to drive to the door of the private stair,
and to wait for me there; it is on an affair of importance
in the service of the King."

The Musketeer, who knew that his lieutenant was incapable
of jesting on duty, obeyed without saying a word, although he
thought the order strange. Then turning toward the second
Musketeer, d'Artagnan said:

"M. du Verger, help me to lodge this man in a place of
safety."

The Musketeer, thinking that his lieutenant had just arrested
some prince in disguise, bowed, and drawing his sword sig-
nified that he was ready. D'Artagnan mounted the staircase,
followed by his prisoner, who in his turn was followed by
die soldier, and entered Mazarin's ante-room. Bernouin was
waiting there, in»patient for news of his master.

"Well, sir?" he said.

"Everything goes on capitally, my dear M. Bernouin, but here



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214 TWENTY YEARS AFTER.

is a man whom I must beg you to put in a safe place, with shut-
ters secured by padlocks and a door which can be locked."

"We have that, sir," replied Bernouin; and the poor coach-
man was conducted to a closet, the windows of which were
barred, and which looked very miuch like a prison.

"And now, my good friend," said d'Artagnan to him, **I must
invite you to deprive yourself, for my sake, of your hat and
cloak."

The coachman, as we can well understand, made no resist-
ance; in fact, he was so astonished at what had happened to
him that he stammered and reeled like a drunken man. D'Ar-
tagnan deposited his clothes under the arm of one of the valets.
And now, M. du Verger," he said, "shut yourself up with this
man until M. Bernouin returns to open the door. Your office
will be tolerably long and not ver)r amusing, I know; but,"
added he seriously, "you understand, it is in the King's service."

"Command me, lieutenant," replied the Musketeer, who saw
that the business was a serious one.

"By-the-bye," continued d'Artagnan, "should this man at-
tempt to flee or call out, run your sword through his body."

The Musketeer signified by a nod that the commands should
be obeyed to the letter, and d'Artagnan went out, followed
by Bernouin; midnight struck.

"Lead me into the Queen's oratory," said d'Artagnan, **an-
nounce to her I am here, and put this parcel, with a well-loaded
musket, under the seat of the carriage which is waiting at the
foot of the private stair."

Bernouin conducted d'Artagnan to the oratory, where he sat
down pensively. Everything had gone on as usual at the
Palace. As we said before, at ten o'clock almost all the
guests were dispersed; those who were to fly with the court
had the word of command, and they were each severely de-
sired to be from twelve o'clock to one at Cours-la-Reine.

At ten o'clock Anne of Austria had visited the King's room,
before she returned to her own apartments. She gave her
orders, spoke of a banquet which the Marquis de Villequier
was to give to her on the day after the morrow, indicated the
persons whom she should admit to the honor of being at it,
announced another visit on the following day to Val-de-Grace,
where she intended to pay her devotions, and gave her com-
mands to her senior valet to accompany her. When the
ladies had finished their supper, the Queen feigned extreme
fatigue, and passed into her bedroom. Mdme. de Motteville,
who was on especial duty that evening, followed to aid and
undress her. -s The Queen then began to read, and, after con-



Online LibraryAlexandre DumasTwenty years after → online text (page 22 of 38)