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ful shoulder of Porthos being applied to one of the panels,
to press it, d'Artagnan introduced the point of his sword be-
tween the bolt and the staple of the lock. The bolt gave way
and the door opened.

"As I told you, one can overcome women and doors, by
gentleness."

"You're a great moralist," said Porthos.

They entered; behind a glass window, by the light of the
Cardinal's lantern, placed on the floor in the midst of the
gallery, they saw the orange and pomegranate trees in long
lines, forming one great alley and two smaller side ones.

"No Cardinal!" said d'Artagnan, "but only his lamp; where
the devil is he then?"

Exploring, however, one of the side wings of the gallery, he



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TWENTY YEARS AFTER. 345

saw all at once, at his left, a tub containing an orange tree,
which had been pushed out of its place, and in its place an
open aperture. He also perceived in this hold the steps of a
winding staircase.

He called Porthos to look at it.

"Had our object been money only," he said, "we should be
rich directly. At the bottom of that staircase is, probably,
the Cardinal's treasury, of which everyone speaks so much;
and we should only have to descend — empty a chest — shut the
Cardinal up in it — double-lock it — ^go away, carrying off as much
gold as we could — ^put this orange tree over the place, and no
one would ever ask us where our fortune came from, not
even the Cardinal."

"It would be a happy hit for rogues to make, but it seems
to be unworthy of two gentlemen," said Porthos.

"So I think; and, we said if we want gold — we want other
things," replied the Gascon.

At the same moment, while d' Artagnan was leaning over
the aperture to listen, a metallic chink, as if some one was
moving a bag of gold, struck on his ear; he started; instantly
afterwards a door opened, and a light played upon the stair-
case.

Mazarin had left his lamp in the gallery to make people be-
lieve that he was walking* about, but he had with him a wax-
light to explore with its aid his mysterious strong box.

" 'Faith ! " he said, in Italian, as he was reascending the steps,
and looking at a bag of reals, " 'faith, there's enough to pay five
councillors of the Parliament, and two generals in Paris. I
am a great captain — that I am! but I make war in my own
style."

The two friends were crouching down, meantime, behind a
tub in the side alley.

Mazarin came within three steps of d'Artagnan, and pushing
a spring in the wall, the slab on which the orange tree was,
turned, and the orange tree resumed its place.

Then the Cardinal put out the wax light, slipped it into his
pocket, and taking up the lantern, "Now," he said, "for M.
de la Fere."

"Very good," thought d'Artagnan, " *tis our road likewise;
we can go together."

All three set off on their walk, Mazarin taking the middle
and the friends a side one.

The Cardinal reached a second door without perceiving that
he was followed; the sand by which the alley was covered
deadened the sound of footsteps.

He then turned to the left, down a corridor which had es-
caped the attention of the two friends; but as he opened the
door, he stopped, as if in thought.

"Ah! Diavolo!" he exclaimed, "I forgot the recommendation
of Comminges, who advised me to take a guard and place it



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346 TWENTY YEARS AFTER,

at this door, in order not to put myself at the mercy of that
fourheaded devil." And, with impatience, he turned to retrace
his steps.

"Do not give yourself the trouble, my lord," said d'Artag-
nan, with his right foot forward, his beaver in his hand, a
smile on his face; "we have followed your Eminence, step by
step, and here we are."

Yes, here we are," said Porthos.

And he made the same friendly salute as d'Artagnan.

Mazarin gazed at each of them with an affrighted stare, rec-
ognized them, and let drop his lantern, uttering a cry of terror.
D'Artagnan picked it up; by good luck it had not been extin-
guished by the fall.

"Oh! what imprudence, my lord," said d'Artagnan; "'tis
not good to go about here without a light. YdUr Eminence
might knock against something or fall into some hole."

"M. d'Artagnan!" muttered Mazarin, not able to recover
from his astonishment.

"Yes, my lord, it is I; IVe the honor of presenting you M.
du Vallon, that excellent friend of mine, in whom your ^Emin-
ence had the kindness to interest yourself once."

And d'Artagnan held the lamp before the merry face of
Porthos, who now began to comprehend the affair, and be very
proud of the whole undertaking.

"You were going to visit M. de la Fere?" said d'Artagnan.
"Don't let us disarrange your Eminence. Be so good as to show
us the way, and we will follow you."

Mazarin was by degrees recovering his senses.

"Have you been long in the orangery?" he asked in a trem-
bling voice, remembering the visit he had been paying to his
treasury.

"We are just come, my lord."

Mazarin breathed again. His fears were now no longer for
his hoards, but for himself. A sort of smile played on his
lips.

"Come,** he said, "you have taken me in a snare, gentlemen.
I confess myself conquered. You wish to ask for your liberty,
and I give it you."

"Oh, my lord!" answered d'Artagnan, "you are very good;
as to our liberty, we have that; we want to ask something else
of you."

"You have your liberty?" repeated Mazarin, in terror.

"Certainly; and on the other hand, my lord, you have lost
it; and now 'tis the law of war, sir, you must buy, it back
again."

•Mazarin felt a shiver all over him, a chill even to his heart's
core. His piercing look was fixed in vain on the satirical face
of the Gascon and on the unchanging countenance of Porthos.
Both were in shadow, and even a sybil could not have read
them.



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TWENTY YEARS AFTER. 347

"And how much will that cost me, Monsieur d*Artagnan?"

"Zounds, my lord, I don't know yet. We must ask the Count
de la Fere the question. Will your Eminence deign to open
the door which leads to the count's room^ and in ten minutes
it will be settled."

Mazarin started.

**My lord," said d'Artagnan, "your Eminence sees that we
wisli to act with all due forms of respect; but I must warn
you that we have no time to lose; open the door then, my
lord, and be so good as to remember, once for all, that on the
slightest attempt to escape or the least cry for help, our posi-
tion being a very critical one, you must not be angry with
us if we go to extremities."

"Be assured," answered Mazarin, "that I shall attempt noth-
ing; I give you my word of honor."

D'Artagnan .made a sign to Porthos to redouble his watch-
fulness; then turning to Mazarin, said:

**Now, my lord, let us enter, if you please."



CHAPTER LXXXIII.

CONFERENCES.

Mazarin opened the lock of a double door, on the threshold
of which they found Athos ready to receive his illustrious
guest; on seeing his friends he started with surprise.

"D^Artagnan! Porthos!" he exclaimed.

"My very self, dear friend."

"Me also," repeated Porthos.

'*What means this?" asked the count.

"It means," replied Mazarin, trying to smile, and biting his
lips in smiling, "that our parts are changed, and that instead
of these gentlemen being my prisoners, I am theirs; but, gen-
tlemen, I warn you, unless you kill me, your victory will be of
short duration; people will come to the rescue."

"Ah! my lord," said the Gascon, "don't threaten! 'tis a bad
example. We are so good and gentle to your Eminence.
Come, let up, put aside all rancor and talk pleasantly."

"There's nothing I wish more," replied Mazarin. "But
don't think yourselves in a better position than you are. In
ensnaring me you have fallen into the trap yourselves. How are
you to get away from here? remember the soldiers and sentinels
who guard these doors. Now I am going to show to you how
sincere I am."

"Good," thought d'Artagnan, "we must look about us; he's
going to play us a trick."

"I offered you your liberty," continued the minister; "will
you take it? Before an hour will have passed you will be dis-



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348 TWENTY YEARS AFTER.

covered, arrested, obliged to kill me, which would be a crime
unworthy of loyal gentlemen like you."

"He is right," thought Athos.

And, like every other reflection passing in a mind that en-
tertained none but noble thoughts, this feeling was expressed
in his eyes.

"We shall not," answered d'Artagnan, "have recourse to
violence, except in the last extremity" (for he saw that Athos
seemed to lean towards Mazarin).

"If, on the contrary," resumed Mazarin, "you accept your
liberty "

"Why you, my lord, might take it away from us five minutes
afterwards; and from my knowledge of you, I believe you
will take it away from us."

"No, on the faith of a Cardinal. You do not believe me?"

"My lord, I never believe Cardinals who are not priests."

"Well, on the faith of a minister."

"You are no longer a minister, my lord; you are a prisoner."

"Then, on the honor of a Mazarin, as I am, and ever shall
be, I hope," said the Cardinal.

"Hem!" replied d'Artagnan. "I have heard speak of a
Mazarin who had little religion when his oaths were in ques-
tion. I fear he may have been an ancestor of your Eminence."

"M. d'Artagnan, you are a great wit, and Tm quite sorry
to be on bad terms with you."

"My lord, let us make it up; one recourse always remains
to us. That of dying together."

Mazarin shuddered.

"Listen," he said; "at the end of yonder corridor is a door,
of which I have the key; it leads into the park. Go, and take
this key with you; you are active, vigorous, and you have
arme. At a hundred steps to the left, you will find the wall
of the park; get over it, and in three jumps you will be on
the road, and free."

"Ah! S'death, my lord," said d'Artagnan, "you have well
said, but these are only words. Where is the key you spoke
of?"

"Here it is."

"Ah! my lord! You will conduct us yourself, then, to that
door?"

"Very willingly, if it be necessary to reassure you," answered
Mazarin, who was delighted to get off so cheaply, and he
led the way, in high spirits, to the corridor, and opened the
door.

It led into the park, as the three fugitives perceived by the
night breeze which rushed into the corridor, and blew the
wind into their faces.

"The devil!" exclaimed the Gascon. " 'Tis a dreadful night,
my lord. We don't know the localities, and shall never find



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TWENTY YEARS AFTER, 349

the wall. Since your Eminence has come so far, a few steps
farther conduct us, my lord, to the wall."

"Be it so," replied the Cardinal; and at a straight line he
walked to the wall, at the foot of which they all four arrived
at the same instant.

*' Are you satisfied, gentlemen?" asked Mazarin.

"I think so; indeed, we should be hard to please if we were
not. Deuce take it; three gentlemen escorted by a prince
of the Church! Ah! my lord! you remarked that we were
all vigorous, active, and armed. M. du Vallon and I are the
only two who are armed. The count is not; and should we
meet with any patrol, we must defend ourselves."

" Tis true.'^

"Where can we find a sword?" asked Porthos.^

"My lord," said d'Artagnan, "will lend his — ^which is no use
to him — to the Count de la Fere."

"Willingly," said the Cardinal; "I will even ask the count
to keep it for my sake."

"I promise you, my lord, never to part with it," replied
Athos.

"Well," remarked d'Artagnan, "this change of measures,
how touching it is! have you not tears in your eyes, Porthos?

"Yes," said Porthos; "but I do not know if it is that or
the wind that makes me weep; I think it is the wind."

"Now climb up, Athos, quickly," said d'Artagnan. Athos
assisted by Porthos, who lifted him up like a feather, arrived
at the top.

"Now jump down, Athos."

Athos jumped and disappeared on the other side of the
wall.

"Porthos, whilst I get up, watch the Cardinal. No, I don't
want your help. Watch the Cardinal. Lend me your back,
but don't let the Cardinal go."

Porthos lent him his back, and d'Artagnan was soon on the
summit of the wall, where he seated himself.

"Now, what?" asked Porthos.

"Now give me the Cardinal up here; if he makes any noise,
stifle him."

Mazarin wished to call out, but Porthos held him tight, and
passed him to d'Artagnan, who seized him by the neck and
made him sit down by him; then, in a menacing tone, he
said:

"Sir, jump directly down, close to M. de la Fere, or, on
the honor of a gentleman. Til kill you! '

""Monsou,"" cried Mazarin, "you are breaking your word to
me!"

"I — did I promise you anything, my lord?"

Mazarin groaned.

"You are free," he said, ** through m^e; your liberty was my
ransom."



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350 TWENTY YEARS AFTER.

"Agreed; but ^e ransom of that immense treasure buried
under the gallery— must not one speak of that a little, my
lordr

"Diavolo!" cried Mazarin, almost choked, and clasping his
hands; "I am a ruined man!"

But, without listening to his grief, d'Artagnan slipped him
gently down into the arms of Athos, who stood immovable at
Sie bottom of the wall.

Porthos next made an effort, which shook the wall; and by
the aid of his friend's hand, gained the summit.

**I did not understand at all," he said, "but I understand
now; how funny it is!"

"You think so? so much the better; but, that it may be droll
even to the end, let us not lose time." And he jumped off
the wall.

Porthos did the same.

The Gascon then drew his sword, and marched as an avant-
guard.

"My lord, which way do we go? think well of your reply;
for should your Eminence be mistaken, there might be very
grave results for all of us."

"Along the wall, sir," said Mazarin, "there will be no dan-
ger of losing yourselves."

The three friends hastened on, but in a short time were
obliged to slacken their pace. The Cardinal could not keep
up to them, though with every wish to do so.

Suddenly d'Artagnan touched something warni, and which
moved.

"Stop! A horse!" he cried; "I have found a horse!"

"And I likewise," said Athos.

"I, too," said Porthos, who, faithful to instructions, still
held the Cardinal's arm.

"There's luck, my lord! just as you were complaining of
being tired, and obliged to walk."

But, as he spoke, a pistol was levelled at his breast, and
these words were gravely pronounced :

"Hands off!"

"Grimaud!" he cried, "Grimaud! what are you about! were
you sent by Heaven?"

"No, sir," said the honest servant;' "it was M. Aramis who
told me to take care of the horses."

"Is Aramis here?"

"Yes, sir; he has been here since yesterday."

"What are you doing?"

"On the watch "

"What! Aramis here?" cried Athos.

"At the lesser gate of the castle; he's posted there.*

**Are you a large party?"

"Sikty."

"Let him know."



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TWENTY YEARS AFTER. 351

"This moment, sir."

And, believing that no one could execute the commission
better than he could, Grimaud set forth at full speed; whilst,
enchanted at being all together again, the three friends awaited
his return.

There was no one in the whole group in ill humor except
Cardinal Mazarin.



CHAPTER LXXXIV.

WE BEGIN TO THINK THAT PORTHOS WILL BE A BARON AND
D'ARTAGNAN a CAPTAIN.

At the expiration of ten minutes Aramis arrived, accompanied
by Grimaud, and eight or ten followers. He was much de-
lighted, and threw himself into his friend's arms.

"You are then free, brothers! free without my aid!"

"Do not be unhappy, dear friend, on that account; if you
have done nothing as yet, you will do something," replied
Athos.

"I have well concerted my plans," pursued Aramis; **the
Coadjutor gave me sixty men; twenty guard the walls of the
park, twenty the road from Rueil to St. Germain, twenty
are dispersed in the woods. I lay in ambuscade with my sixty
men; I encircled the castle; the riding horses I entrusted to
Grimaud, and I awaited your coming out, which I did not ex-
pect till to-morrow, and I hoped to free you without a skirmish.
You are free to-night, without fighting; so much the better!
How could you escape that scoundrel, Mazarin?"

" *Tis thanks to him," said d'Artagnan, "that we made our
escape, and "

"Impossible!"

"Yes, indeed, 'tis owing to him that we are at liberty.*'

"Well!" exclaimed Aramis, "this will reconcile me to him;
but I wish he were here that I might tell him that I did not
believe him capable of so noble an act."

"My lord," said d'Artagnan, no longer able to contain him-
self, "allow me to introduce to you the Chevalier d'Herblay,
who wishes — as you may have heard — ^to offer his congratula-
tions to your Eminence."

And he retired, discovering Mazarin-^who was in great con-
fusion—to the astonished gaze of Aramis.

"Ho! Ho!" exclaimed the latter, "the Cardinal! a fine prize!
halloo! halloo! friends! to horse! to horse!"

Several horsemen quickly ran to him.

"Zounds!" cried Aramis, "I may have done some good, then;
my lord, deign to receive my most respectful homage! I will
lay a wager that 'tis that Saint Christopher, Porthos, who pcr-



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352 TWENTY YEARS AFTER.

formed this feat! Oh, I forgot " and he gave some orders

in a low voice to one of the horsemen.

"I think it will be wise to set off," said d'Artagnan.

"Yes; but I am expecting some one — a friend of Athos."

**A friend!** exclaimed the count.

"And here he is, galloping through the bushes.**

"The count! the count!** cried a young voice, which made
Athos start.

"Raoul! Raoul!" he ejaculated.

For one moment the young man forgot his habitual respect;
he threw himself on his father's neck.

"Look, my lord Cardinal,** said Aramis, "would it not have
been a pity to have separated those who love each other as
we love? Gentlemen,** he continued, addressing the cavaliers,
who became more and more numerous every instant, "gentle-
men, encircle his Eminence, that you may show him the
greater honor. He will, indeed, give us the favor of his com-
pany; you will, I hope, be grateful for it. Porthos, ^o not
lose sight of his Eminence."

Aramis then joined Athos and d'Artagnan, who were con-
sulting together.

"Come,** said d*Artagnan, after a conference of five minutes*
duration, "let us begin our journey.**

"Where are we to go?** asked Porthos.

"To your house, dear Porthos, at Pierrefonds; your fine
chateau is worthy of affording a princely hospitality to his
Eminence; it is also well situated; neither too near Paris,
nor too far from it. We can establish a communication be-
tween it and the capital with great facility. Come, my lord,
you shall there be treated like a prince, as you are.**

"A fallen prince!** exclaimed Mazarin piteously.

"The chances of war,** said Athos, "are many; but be assured
we shall not take an improper advantage of them.**

"No; but we shall make use. of them*" interposed d'Ar-
tagnan.

The rest of the night was employed by these cavaliers in
traveling, with the wonderful rapidity of former days. Maz-
arin, continuing sombre and pensive, permitted himself to be
dragged along in this way, which was like a race of phantoms.
At dawn twelve leagues had been passed, without stopping;
half the escort were exhausted, and several horses fell down.

"Horses now-a-days are not what they were formerly," ob-
served Porthos; "everything degenerates."

"We are four of us," said d'Artagnan; "we must relieve
each other in mounting guard over my lord, and each of us
must watch for three hours at a time. Athos is going to ex-
amine the castle, which it will be necessary to render impreg-
nable in case of a siege; Porthos will see to the provisions
and Aramis to the troops of the garrison. That is to say.



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TWENTY YEARS AFTER. 3S3

'Athos will be chief engineer, Porthos surveyor in general,
and Aramis governor of the fortress."
Meanwhile they gave up to Mazarin the handsomest room.

"Gentlemen," he said, when he was in his room, **you do
not expect, I presume, to keep me here a long time incognito?"

"No, my lord," replied the Gascon; "on the contrary, we
think of announcing very soon that we have you here."

"Then you will be besieged."

"We expect it."

"And what shall you do?"

"Defend ourselves. Were the late Cardinal Richelieu alive,
he would tell you a certain story of the Bastion Saint Gervaise,
which we four, with our four lackeys and twelve* dead men,
held out against a whole army."

"Such feats, sir, are done once, and are never repeated."

"However, now-a-days there's not need of so much hero-
ism. To-morrow the army of Paris will be summoned; the
day after it will be here! The field of battle, instead, there-
fore, of being at St. Denis, or at Charenton, will be near Com-
piegne, or Villars-Cotterets."

"The prince will beat you, as he has always done."

" 'Tis possible, my lord ; but before an engagement we shall
move away your Eminence to another castle belonging to our
friend du Vallon, who has three. We will not expose your
Eminence to the chances of war."

"Come," answered Mazarin. *"I see it will be necessary
to capitulate. Tell me at once what you want, that I may see
if an arrangement be possible. Speak, Count de la Fere!

"My lord," replied Athos, "for myself I have nothing to
ask; for France, were I to specify, I should have too much. I
beg you excuse me, and propose to the chevalier."

And Athos, bowing retired, and remained leaning against
the mantelpiece, merely as a spectator of the scene.

"Speak, then, chevalier!" said the Cardinal. "What do you
want? Nothing ambiguous, if you please. Be short, clear,
and precise."

"As for me," replied Aramis, "I have in my pocket that
programme of the conditions which the deputation-^f which
I formed one — ^went yesterday to St. Germain to impose on
you. Let us consider the debts and claims first. The de-
mands in that programme must be granted."

"We were almost agreed as to those," replied Mazarin; "let
us pass on to private and personal stipulations."

"You suppose, then, that there will be some?" asked Aramis,
smiling.

"I do not suppose that you will all be so disinterested as
M. de la Fere," replied the Cardinal, bowing to Athos.

"My lord! you are right! The count has a mind far above
vulgar desires and human passions! He is a proud soul, he is



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3S4 TWENTY YEARS AFTER,

a man by himself! You are right, he is worth us all, and
we avow it to you!**

"Aramis!" said Athos, "are you jesting?"

**No, no, dear friend; I state only what we all know. You are
right; it is not you alone this matter concerns, but my lord,
and his unworthy servant, myself."

"Well, then, what do you require besides the general con-
ditions before recited?"

" I require, my lord, that Normandy should be given to Mdme.
de Longueville, with five hundred thousand francs, and full
absolution. I require that his majesty should deign to be god-
father to the child she has just borne; and that my lord, after
having been present at the christening, should go to proffer
his homage to our Holy Father the Pope."

"That is, that you wish me to lay aside my ministerial func-
tions, to quit France, and be an exile."

"I, my lord," answered the Gascon, "differ from M. d^Her-
blay totally in the last point, though I agree with him in the
first. Far from wishing my lord to quit Paris, I hope he will
stay there and continue to be Prime Minister, as he is a great
statesman. I shall try, also, to help him to put down the
Fronde ; but on one condition — that he sometimes remembers
the King's faithful servants, and gives the first vacant company
of Musketeers to some one I can mention to him. And you,
M. du Vallon—- "

"Yes, you, sir! Speak, if you please," said Mazarin.

"As to me," answered Porthos, "I wish my lord Cardinal,
to do honor to my house, which has given him an asylum,
would, in remembrance of this adventure, erect my estate into
a barony, with a promise to confer that order on one of my
friends, whenever his majesty next creates peers."

Mazarin bit his lip.

"All that," he ^aid, "appears to me to be ill-connected, gen-
tlemen; for if I satisfy some I shall displease others. If I stay
in Paris, I cannot go to Rome ; and if I become Pope I could
not continue to ^ be Prime Minister ; and it is only by con-
tinuing Prime Minister that I can make M. d'Artagnan a captain
and M. du Vallon a baron."

"True," said Aramis, "so, as I am in the minority, I give up
my proposal."

"Well, then, gentlemen, take care of your own concerns,
and let France settle matters as she will with me," resumed



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