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many a time, their searches over the sands, their questions to
thepeasantry, and their inspection of faces.

They proceeded to Compiegne.

Athos began to despair. His noble nature felt that their
ignorance was a reflection upon them. They had not looked
well enough for their lost friends. They had not shown suf-
ficient pertinacity in their inquiries. They were willing and
ready to retrace their steps, when, in crossing the suburb
which leads to the gates of the town, upon a white wall
which was at the corner of a street turning round the ram-
part, Athos cast his eyes upon a drawing in black chalk,
which represented, with the awkwardness of a first attempt,
two cavaliers riding furiously, and carrying a roll of paper, on
which were written these words,— "They are chasing us."

"Oh!" exclaimed Athos; "here it is as clear as day. Pursued
as he was, d'Artagnan would not have tarried here five minutes
had he been pressed very closely, which gives us hopes that
he may have succeeded in escaping."

Athos shook his head.

^Had he escaped we should either have seen him or have
heard him spoken of."

"You are right, Aramis; let us travel on."

To describe the impatience and uneasiness of these two gen-
tlemen would be impossible. Anxiety took possession of the
tender and constant heart of Athos; and impatience was the
torment of the impulsive Aramis. They galloped on for two
or three hours with the frenzy of two knights in pursuit. All
at oncC; in a narrow pass, they perceived that the road was


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partially barricaded by an enormous stone. It had evidently
been rolled across the path by some arm of gigantic power.

Ai-amis stopped.

"Oh!" he said, looking at the stone, "this is the work
either of Ajax, or of Briareus, or of Porthos. Let us get down.
Count, and examine this rock."

They both alighted. The stone had been brought with the
evident intention of barricading the road; but some one, hav-
ing perceived the obstacle, had partially turned it aside.

With the assistance of Blaisois and Grimaud, the friends suc-
ceeded in turning the stone over. Upon the side next the
ground was written:

"Eight Light Dragoons are pursuing us. If we reach Com-
piegne, we shall stop at the Crowned Peacock, kept by a f riend-
of ours."

"This is something positive," said Athos, "let us go to the

"Yes," answered Aramis, "but if we are to get there, we
must rest our horses, for tiiey are almost broken-winded."

Aramis was right; they stopped at the first tavern, and made
each horse swallow a double quantity of grain steeped in wine;
they gave them three hours' rest, and then set off again. The
men themselves were almost killed with fatigue, but hope sup-
ported them.

In six hours they reached Compiegne, and alighted at the
Peacock. The host proved to be a worthy man, as bald as a
Chinanian. They asked him if some time ago he had not re-
ceived in his house two gentlemen who were pursued by Dra-
goons ; without answering, he went out and brought in the blade
of a rapier.

"Do you know that?" he asked.

Athos merely glanced at it.

"Tis d'Artagnan's sword," he said.

"Does it belong to the* shorter, or taller of the two?" asked
the host.

"To the lesser."

"I see that you are the friends of these gentlemen. They
were pursued by eight Light Horsemen, who rode into the
court-yard before they had time to close the gate; but these
men would not have succeeded in taking them prisoners, had
they not been assisted by twenty soldiers of the Italian regi-
ment in garrison in this town, so that your friends were over-
powered by numbers."

"Arrested, were they?" asked Athos; "is it known why?"

"No, sir, they were carried off directly, and had not time to
tell me why; but, as soon as they were gone, I found this
broken blade of a sword, as I was helping in raising up two
dead men, and five or six wounded ones."

"Tis still a consolation that they were not wounded," said


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"Where were they taken?" asked Athos.

** Towards Louvres," was the reply.

The two friends, having agreed to leave Blaisois and Grim-
aud at Compiegne with the horses, resolved to take post horses ;
and having snatched a hasty dinner, they continued their jour-
ney to Louvres.

Here they found onlv one inn.

"Let us alight here, ' said Athos, "d'Artagnan will not have
let slip an opportunity of drinking a glass of the famous liquor
made here, and, at the same time, leaving some trace of him-

They went into the town, and asked for two glasses of liquor,
at the counter, as their friends must have done before them.
The counter, as usual, was covered with a plate of pewter;
upon this plate was written with the point of a large pin: —
" Rueil D "

"They went to Rueil," cried Aramis.

"Let us go to Rueil," said Athos. "Had I been as great a
friend of Jonah's as I am of d*Artagnan, I should have fol-
lowed him even into the whale itself; and you would have
done the same."

"Certainly, but you make me better than I am, dear Count.
Had I been alone. I should scarcely have gone to Rueil with-
out great caution. *

They then «et off for Rueil. Here the deputies of the Parlia-
ment had just arrived, in order to enter upon those famous
conferences which were to last three weeks, and produced,
eventually, a shameful peace.

The two friends mingled in the crowd, and fancied that every
one was occupied with the same thought that tormented them.

But everyone was engrossed by articles and reforms.

They continued their inquiries, and at last met with a Light
Dragoon, who had formed one of the guard which had es-
corted d'Artagnan to Rueil, by which they knew that they had
entered that house.

Athos, therefore, perpetually recurred to his proposed inter-
view with the Queen.

"I shall go," he said, "to the Queen."

"Well, then," answered Aramis, "Pray tell me a day or
two beforehand, that I may take that opportunity of going
to Paris."

"To whom?"

"Zounds! how do I know? perhaps to Mdme. de Longue-
ville. She is all powerful yonder; she will help me. But send
me word should you be arrested, for then I will return directly."

"Why do you not take your chance, and be arrested with me?"

"No, I thank you."

"Should we, by being arrested, be all four together again,
we should not, I am sure, be twenty-four hours in prison with-
out getting free."


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"My friend, since I killed Chatillpn, the adored of the ladies
of St. Germain, I have too great a celebrity not to fear a
prison doubly. The Queen is likely to follow Mazarines coun-
sels, and to have me tried. Do you think that she loves this
Italian so much as they say she does?"

"She loved dn Englishman passionately."

"Well, my friend, she is a woman."

"No, no, you are deceived — she is a Queen.

"Dear friend, I shall sacrifice myself and go and see Anne
of Austria."

"Athos, I am going to raises an army."

"For what^ purpose?"

"To come back, and besiege Rueil."

"Where shall we meet again?"

"At the foot of the Cardinal's gallows."

The two friends parted, Aramis to return to Paris, Athos to
take some measures preparatory to an interview with the Queen.



Athos found much less difficulty than he had expected in
obtaining an audience of Anne of Austria; it was granted, and
was to take place, after her morning's *levee,' at which, in ac-
cordance with the rights he derived from his birth, he was
entitled to be present. A vast crowd filled the apartments
of St. Germain,

When the hour appointed for the audience arrived, Athos
was obliged to stay until the Queen, who was waited upon
by a new deputation from Paris, had consulted with her min-
ister as to the propriety and manner of receiving them. All
were fully engrossed with the affairs of the day, and there
could be few opportunities less favorable to make an appeal
upon; but Athos was a man of inflexible temper, and insisted
on his right of being admitted into the Queen's presence. Ac-
cordingly, at the close of the audience, s^he sent for him.

The name of the Count de la Fere was then announced to
Anne. Often must she have heard that name, and felt that
it had made her heart beat; nevertheless, she remained un-
moved, and was contented to look steadfastly at this gentle-
man, with that set stare which can alone be permitted to a

"Do you come, then, to offer me your services?" she asked,
after some moments* silence.

"Yes, madam," replied Athos, shocked at her not recogniz-


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ing him. Athos had a noble heart, and made, therefore, but
a poor courtier.

Anne frowned. Mazarin, who was sitting at a table, fold-
ing up papers, as if he had only been a secretary of state,
looked up.

"Speak," said the Queen.

Mazarin turned again to his papers.

"Madam," resumed Athos, "two of my friends, named d'Ar-
tagnan and Porthos, sent to England by the Cardinal, have
suddenly disappeared; ever since they set foot on the shores
of France, no one knows what has become of them."

"Well?" said the Queen.

"I apply, therefore, first to the benevolence of your majesty,
that I may know what has become of my friends, reserving to
myself, if necessary, the right of appealing afterwards to your

"Sir," replied Anne, with a degree of haughtiness, which, to
some, became impertinence, "is this the reason that you trouble
me in the midst of so many absorbing concerns? An affair for
the police! Well, sir, you ought to know that since we left
Paris there no longer exists a police."

"I think that your majesty will have no need to apply to the
police to^ know where my friends are, but that if you will
deign to interrogate the Cardinal, he can reply without any fur-
ther inquiry than into his own recollections."

"But God forgive me!" cried Anne, with that disdainful curl
of the lip peculiar to her, "I think you can inquire yourself."

"Yes, madam, here I have a right to do so, for it concerns
M. d'Artagnan; d'Artagnan," he repeated, in such a manner as
to bow down the regal brow beneath the recollections of the
weak and erring woman, ^

The Cardinal saw that it was now high time to come to the
assistance of Anne.

"Sir," he said, "I can tell what is at present unknown to
her majesty. These individuals are under arrest; they dis-
obeyed orders."

"I beg of your majesty, then," said Athos, calm, and not re-
plying to Mazarin, "to relieve of arrest Messrs. d'Artagnan and
du Vallon.

"What you ask is an affair of discipline and police," said
the Queen.

"M. d'Artagnan never made such an answer as that when
the service of your majesty was concerned," said Athos, bow-
ing with great dignity. He was going towards the door, when
Mazarin stopped him.

"You have also been in England, sir?" he said, making a
sign to the Queen, who was evidently going to issue a severe

"I was present at the last hours of Charles I. Poor King.
Culpable, at the most, of weakness, how cruelly punished by


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his subjects I Thrones are at this time shaken, and it is to
little purpose for devoted hearts to serve the interests of
princes. This is the second time that M. d'Artaornan has been in
England. He went the first time to save the honor of a
great Queen; the second, to avert the death of a great King."

"My lord, said Anne to Mazarin, with an accent from which
daily habits of dissimulation could not entirely chase the real
expression, "see if we cannot do something for these gentle-

"I wish to do, madam, all that your majesty pleases."

"Do what M. de la Fere requests; that is your name, is it
not, sir?"

"I have another name, madam; I am Athos."

"Madam," said Mazarin, with a smile, "you may be easy;
your wishes shall be fulfilled."

"You hear, sir?" said the Queen.

"Yes, madam; I expected nothing less from the justice of
your majesty. May I not, then, go and see my friends?"

"Yes, sir, you shall see them. But, by the way, you belong
to the Fronde, do you not?"

"Madam, I serve the King."

"Yes, in your own way."

"My way is the way of all gentlemen; and I know only one,"
answered Athos, haughtily.

"Go, sir, then," said the Queen; "you have obtained what
you wish, and we know all we wish to know."

Scarcely, however, had the tapestry closed behind Athos
than she said to Mazarin:

"Cardinal, desire them to arrest that insolent fellow before
he leaves the court."

"Your majesty," answered Mazarin, "desires me to do only
what I was going to ask you to let me do. These bravos, who
bring back to our epoch the traditions of the other reign, are
troublesome; since there are two of them already there, let
us add a third."

Athos was not completely the Queen's dupe, but he was not
a man to run away merely on suspicion, above all, when
distinctly told that he should see his friends again. He waited
then, in the ante-chamber with impatience, till he should be
conducted to them.

He walked to the window and was looking into the court
when some one touched him softly on the shoulder.

"Ah! M. de Comminges," he said.

"Yes, Count, charged with a mission for which I beg of you
to accept my excuses. Be so good as to give me up your
sword. Count.**

Athos smiled and opened the window.

"Aramis!" he cried.

A gentleman turned round. It was Aramis. He bowed with
great friendship to the count.


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''Aramis!" cried Athos, "I am arrested."

**Very well," replied Aramis, calmly.

"Sir," said Athos, turning to Comminges, and giving him
politely his sword by the hilt; "there is my sword; have the
kindness to keep it for me until I shall quit my prison. I
prize it; it was given to my ancestors by King Francis I. In
his time they armed gentlemen, they did not disarm them.
Now, whither do you conduct me?"

"Into my room at first," replied Comminges, "the Queen
will ultimately decide on the place of your domicile."

Athos followed Comminges without saying a single word.



'The arrests produced no sensation, and were almost un-
known, and scarcely interrupted the course of events. To
the deputation it was formally announced that the Queen
would receive it

Accordingly it was admitted to the presence of Anne, who,
silent and lofty as ever, listened to the speeches and complaints
of the deputies; but when they had finished their harangues,
not one of them could say, so calm had been her face, whether
she had heard them or not. Whilst thus she was silent, Maz-
arin, who was present, and knew what the deputies asked,
answered in these terms:

"Gentlemen," he said, "I shall join with you in supplicating the
Queen to put an end to the miseries of her subjects. I have
done all in my power to ameliorate them, and yet the belief of
the public, you say, is that they proceed from me, an unhappy
foreigner who has been unable to please the French. Alas!
'tis not for me, a private individual, to disunite a queen from
her kingdom. Since you require my resignation, I shall re-

"Then," said Aramis, in his neighbor's ears, "the confer-
ences are over. There is nothing to do but to send M. Mazarin
to the most distant frontier, and to take care that he does
not return even by that, nor any other enrance, into France."

Anne dropped her head and fell into one of those reveries
so habitual with her. Her recollection of Athos came into
her mind. His fearless deportment; his words, so firm, yet so
dignified; the shades which by one word he had evoked, re-
called to her the past in all its intoxication of poetry and ro-
mance, youth, beauty, the eclat of love at twenty years of age,
the bloody death of Buckingham, the only man whom she
ever really loved, and the heroism of those obscure cham-


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pions who had saved her from the double hatred of Richelieu
and of the King.

Mazarin looked at her, and whilst she seemed herself alone
and freed from that world of enemies who sought to spy into
her secret thoughts, he read her thoughts in her countenance,
as one sees in a transparent lake clouds pass — reflections, like
thoughts, of the heavens.

"Must we, then," asked Anne of Austria, "yield to the storm,
purchase a peace, and await patiently and piously for better
times?" ^

Mazarin smiled sarcastically at this speech, which showed
that she had taken the minister's proposal seriously.

Anne's head was bent down, and she did not see this smile;
but finding that her question elicited no reply, she looked up.

"Well, you do not answer, Cardinal; what do you think
about it?" ,

"I am thinking, madam, of the allusion made by that inso-
lent gentlemati, whom you have caused to be arrested, to the
Duke of Buckingham, whom you suffered to be assassinated;
to the Duchess de Qievreuse, whom you suffered to be exiled;
to Duke de Beaufort, exiled; but he made no allusion to me,
because he is ignorant of the relation in which I stand to you."

Anne drew up, as she always did, when anything touched
her pride. She blushed, and that she might not answer, clasped
her beautiful hands till her sharp nails almost pierced them.

"That man hss sagacity, honor, and wit, not to mention
likewise that he is a man of undoubted resolution. You know
something about him, do you not, madam? I shall tell him,
therefore, and in doing so I shall confer a personal favor on
him, how he is mistaken in regard to me. What is proposed
to me would be, in fact, almost an abdication, and an abdica-
tion requires reflection."

"An abdication?" repeated Anne; "I thought, sir, that it was
only Kings who abdicated?"

"Well," replied Mazarin, "and am I not almost a King;
ruler, indeed, of France? Thrown over the foot of the royal
bed, my simar, madam, is not unlike the mantle worn by a

This was one of the humiliations which Mazarin made Anne
undergo more frequently than any other, and which bowed
her head with shame. Queen Elizabeth and Catherine II. of
Russia are the only two monarchs on record who were at once
sovereigns and lovers. Anne of Austria looked with a sort
of terror at the threatening aspect of the Cardinal; his phys-
iognomy in such moments was not destitute of grandeur.

"Sir, she replied, "did I not say, and did you not hear me
say to those people, that you should do as you pleased?"

"In that case," said Mazarin, "I think it must please me
best to remain ; not only on account of my own interest, but for
your safety."


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** Remain, then, sir; nothing can be more agreeable to me;
only do not allow me to be insulted."

"I understand; you allude to the recollections perpetually
revived by these three gentlemen. However, we hold them
safe in prison; and they are just sufficiently culpable for us
to keep them in prison as long as is convenient to us. One,
only, is still not in our power, and braves us. But devil take
him! we shall soon succeed in sending him to rejoin his com-
panions. We have accomplished more difficult things than that.
In the first place, I have, as a precaution, shut up, at Rueil, near
me, under my own eyes, within reach of my hand, the two most
intractable ones. To-day the third will be there also."

"As long as they are in prison, all will be well," said Anne;
**but one of these days they will get out."

"Yes; if your majesty releases them."

"Ah!" exclaimed Anne, following the train of her own
thoughts on such occasions; "one regrets Paris on account of
the Bastille, sir, which is so strong and so secure."

"Madam, these conferences will bring us peace; when we
have peace we shall regain Paris; with Paris the Bastille, and
our three bullies shall rot therein."

Anne frowned slightly, when Mazarin, in taking leave, kissed
her hand.

Mazarin, after this half humble, half gallant attention, went
away. Anne followed him with her eyes, and as he withdrew,
at every step he took, a disdainful smile was seen playing,
then gradually burst upon her lips.

"I once," she said, "despised the love of a Cardinal who
never said *I shall do/ but *I have done.' That man knew of re-
treats more secure than Rueil; darker, and more silent even
than the Bastille. Oh, the degenerate world!"



After quitting Anne, Mazarin took the road to Rueil, where
he usually resided; in those times of disturbance he went about
with numerous followers, and often disguised himself. In the
military dress he was indeed, as we have before stated, a very
handsome man.

In the court of the old chateau of St. Germain, he entered
his coach, and reached the Seine at Chalon. The prince had
supplied him with fifty light horse, not so much by the way of
a guard, as to show the deputies how readily the Queen's gen-
erals dispersed their troops, and to prove that they might be
scattered about at pleasure. Athos, on horseback, without his
sword, and kept in sight by Comminges, followed the Cardinal in


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silence. Grimaud, finding that his master had been arrested,
fell back into the ranks, near Aramis, without saying a word,
as if nothing had happened.

Grimaud had, indeed, during twenty-two years of service,
seen his master extricate himself from so many difficulties,
that nothing made him uneasy.

At the branching off of the road towards Paris, Aramis,
who had followed in the Cardinal's suite, turned back. Maz-
arin went to the right hand, and Aramis could see the prisoner
disappear at the turning of the avenue. Athos, at the same
nioment, moved by a similar impulse, looked back also. The
two friends exchanged a simple inclination of the head, and
Aramis put his finger to his hat, as if to bow; Athos, alone,
comprehended by that signal that he had some project in
his head.

Ten minutes afterwards, Mazarin entered the court of that
chateau which his predecessor had built for him, at Rueil;
as he alighted, Comminges approached him.

"My lord," he asked, "where does your Eminence wish Count
de la Fere to be lodged?"

"Certainly in the pavilion of the orangery; in front of
the pavilion where the guard is. I wish every respect shown
to the count, although he is the prisoner of the Queen."

"My lord," answered Comminges, "he begs to be taken into
the place where M. d'Artagnan is confined, that is, in the
hunting lodge opposite the orangery."

Mazarin thought for an instant.

Comminges saw that he was undecided.

** 'Tis a very strong post," he resumed; "and forty good men,
tried soldiers, and consequently having nothing to do with Fron-
deurs, nor any interest in the Fronde."

"If we put these three men together, M. Comminges," said
Mazarin, "we must double the guard, and we are not rich
enough in defenders to commit such acts of prodigality."

Comminges smiled; Mazarin read, and construed that smile.

"You do not know these men, M. Comminges, but I know
them, first, personally; also, by hearsay. I sent them to carry
aid to King Charles, and they performed prodigies to save him;
had it not been for an adverse destiny, that beloved monarch
would, this day, have been among us."

"But, since they served your Eminence so well, why are
they, my lord Cardinal, in prison?"

"In prison?" asked Mazarin; "and when has Rueil been a

"Ever since there were prisoners in it," answered Com-

"These gentlemen^ Comminges, are not prisoners," returned
Mazarin, with his ironical smile, "but guests; and guests so
precious, that I have put a grating before each of their windows,
and bolts to their doors, that they may not be weary of being


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my visitors. So much do I esteem them, that I am going to
make the Count de la Fere a visit, that I may converse with him
tete-a-tete; and that we may not be disturbed at our interview,
you must conduct him, as I said before, into the pavilion of the
orangery; that, you know, is my daily promenade.

Comminges bowed, and returned to impart to Athos the result
of his request. Athos, who had been awaiting the CardinaFs
decision with outward composure, but secret uneasiness, then
entreated that Comminges would do him one favor, which was
to intimate to d^Artagnan that he was placed in the pavilion of
the orangery, for the purpose of receiving a visit from the
Cardinal, and that he should profit by the opportunity, in order
to ask for some mitigation of their close imprisonment.

Online LibraryAlexandre DumasTwenty years after → online text (page 34 of 38)