Alexandre Dumas.

Twenty years after online

. (page 37 of 38)
Online LibraryAlexandre DumasTwenty years after → online text (page 37 of 38)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


"Ho! ho!" replied Aramis. "The Frondeurs will have a
treaty, and your Eminence must sign it before us, promising,
at the same time, to obtain the Queen's consent to it. Here is
the treaty,— may it please your Eminence, read and sign it."

"I know it," answered Mazarin.

"Then sign it."

"But, suppose I refuse?"


by Google


"Then," said d*Artagnan, "your Eminence must expect the
consequences of a refusal."

"Would you dare to touch a Cardinal?"

"You have dared, my lord, to imprison her majesty's Mus-

"The Queen will revenge me, gentlemen."

"I do not think so, although inclination might lead her to
do so, but we shall take your Eminence to Paris, and the
Parisians will defend us; therefore, sign this treaty, I beg of

"Suppose the Queen should refuse to ratify it?"

"Ah! nonsense!" cried d'Artagnan, "I can manage so that
her majesty will receive me well; I know one method."


"I shall take her majesty the letter in which you tell hef
that the finances are exhausted."

"And then?" asked Mazarin, turning pale.

"When I see her majesty embarrassed, I shall conduct her
to Rueil, make her enter the orangery, and show her the
spring which turns a tree-box."

"Enough, sir," muttered the Cardinal, "you have said enough;
where is the treaty?"

"Here it is," said Aramis. "Sign, my lord," and he gave
him a pen.

Mazarin arose, walked some moments, thoughtful, but not

"And when I have signed," he said, "what is to be my

"My word of honor, sir," said Athos.

Mazarin started, turned towards the Count de la Fere, and
looking for an instant at his noble and honest countenance, took
the pen.

"It is sufficient. Count," he said, and he signed the treaty.

"And now, M. d'Artagnan," he said, "prepare to set off for
St. Germain, and to leave a letter from me to the Queen."



D'Artagnan knew his part well; he was aware that oppor-
tunity has a forelock only for him who will take it, and he
was not a man to let it go by him without seizing it. He
soon arranged a prompt and certain manner of traveling, by
sending relays of horses to Chantilly, so that he could be in
Paris in five or six hours.

Nothing was known at St. Germain about Mazarin's disap-


by Google


pearance, except by the Queen, who concealed, from her friends
even, her uneasiness. She had heard all about the two soldiers
who were found, bound and gagged. Bernouin, who knew
more about the affair than anybody, had, in fact, gone to
acquaint the Queen of the circumstances which had occurred.
Anne had enforced the utmost secrecy, and had disclosed the
event to no one except the Prince de Conde, who had sent
five or six horsemen into the environs of St. Germain, with
orders to bring any suspicious person who was going away
from Rueil, in whatsoever direction it might be.

On entering the court of the palace, d*Artagnan encountered
Bernouin, to whose instrumentality he owed a prompt intro-
duction to the Queen's presence. He approached the sovereign
with every mark of profound respect, and having fallen on his
knees, presented to her the Cardinars letter.

It was, however, merely a letter of introduction. The Queen
read it, recognized the writing, and, since there were no de-
tails in it of what had occurred, asked for particulars. D'Ar-
tagnan related everjrthing, with that simple and ingenuous air
which he knew how to assume on some occasions. The Queen,
as he went on, looked at him with increasing astonishment.

"How, sir!" she cried, as d'Artagnan finished, "you dare
to tell me the details of your crime — to give me an account of
your treason!"

"Your majesty, on your side," said d'Artagnan, "is as_ much
mistaken as to our intentions as the Cardinal Mazarin has
always been."

"You are in error, sir," answered the Queen. "I am so little
mistaken, that in ten minutes you shall be arrested, and in
an hour I shall set off to release my minister."

"I am sure your majesty will not commit such an act of im-
prudence; first, because it would be useless, and would produce
the most serious results. Before he could be set free, the Car-
dinal would be dead; and, indeed, so convinced is he of this,
that he entreated me, should I find your majesty disposed to
act in this way, to do all I could to induce you to change your

"Well, then! I shall be content with only arresting you!"

"Madam, the possibility of my arrest has been foreseen, and
should I not have returned to-morrow, at a certain hour the
next day, the Cardinal will be brought to Paris, and delivered
up to the Parliament."

"I think," returned Anne of Austria, fixing upon him a
glance which, in any woman's face, would have expressed dis-
dain, but in a Queen's, spread terror to those she looked upon,
"I perceive that you dare to threaten the mother of your

"Madam," replied d'Artagnan, "I threaten only because I
am forced to do so. Believe me, madam, as true a thing as
it is that a heart beats in this bosom — a heart devoted to


by Google


you — ^believe that you have been the idol of our lives; that we
have — as you well know — ^good Heaven! — risked our lives
twenty times for your majesty. Have you then, madam, no
compassion on your people, who love you, and yet who suf-
fer — ^who love you, and who are yet famished — ^who have no

other wish than to bless you, and >yho, nevertheless no, I

am wrong, your subjects, madam, will never curse you! Say
one word to them! and all will be ended; peace succeeds to
war, joy to tears, happiness to misfortune!"

Anne of Austria looked with wonderment on the warlike
countenance of d'Artagnan, which betrayed a singular expres-
sion of deep feeling.

"Why did you not say all this before you acted?" she said.

"Because, madam, it was necessary to prove to your majesty
one thing of which you doubted, that is, that we still possess
amongst us some valor, and are worthy of some consideration
at your hands."

"Then, in case of my refusal, this valor, should a struggle
occur, will go even to the length of carrying me off in the midst
of my court, to deliver me into the hands of the Fronde, as
you have done my minister?"

"We have not thought about it, madam," answered d'Artag-
"nan, with that Gascon effrontery which had in him the appear-
ance of "naivete;" "but if we four had so settled it, we
should certainly have done so."

"I ought," muttered Anne to herself, "by this time to remem-
ber that these are men of iron mould."

"Alas! madam!" exclaimed d'Artagnan, "this proves to me
that it is only since yesterday that your^ majesty has imbibed
a true opinion of us.^ Your majesty will do us justice. In
doing us justice you will no longer treat us as men of ordinary-
stamp. You will see in me an ambassador worthy of the high
interests which he is authorized to discuss with his sovereign."

"Where is the treaty?"

"Here it is."

Anne of Austria cast her eyes upon the treaty that d'Artag-
nan presented to her.

"I do not see here," she said, "anything but general con-
ditions; the interests of the Prince de Conti, or of the Duke
de Beaufort, de Bouillin, and d'Elbouf, and of the Coadjutor,
are herein consulted; but with regard to yours?"

"We do ourselves justice, madam, even in assuming the
high position that we have. We do not think ourselves wor-
thy to stand near such great names."

"But you, I presume, have decided to assert your preten-
tions; 'viva voce?*"

"I believe you, madam, to be a great and powerful Queen,
and that it will be unworthy of your power and greatness if
you do not recompense the arm which will bring back his Em-
inence to St. Germain."


by Google


"It is my intention so to do; come — ^let us hear — speak."

"He who has negotiated these matters (forgive me if I begin
by speaking of myself, but I must take that importance to
myself which has been given to me, not assimied by me), he
who has arranged matters for the return of the Cardinal,
ought, it appears to me, in order that his reward may not be
unworthy of your majesty, to be made commandant of the
Guards, an appointment something like that of captain of the

" Tis the appointment that M. de Treville had, that you ask
of me."

"The place, madam, is vacant; and although 'tis a year since
M. de Treville has left it, is not yet filled up."

"But it is one of the principal military appointments in the
King's household."

"JM. de Treville was merely a younger son of a Gascon family,
like me, madam; he occupied that post for twenty years."

"You have an answer ready for everything," replied the
Queen, and she took a document, which she filled up and
signed, from her bureau.

"Undoubtedly, madam," said d'Artagnan, taking the docu-
ment and bowing, "this is a noble reward; but everything in
this world is unstable; and any man who happened to fall into
disgrace with your majesty would lose everything."

'*What then do you want?" asked the Queen, coloring, as
she found that she had to deal with a mind as subtle as her own.

"A hundred thousand francs for this poor captain of Muske-
teers, to be paid whenever his services should no longer be
acceptable to your majesty."

Anne hesitated.

"To think of the Parisians," resumed d'Artagnan, "offering
the other day, by an edict of the Parliament, six hundred thou-
sand francs to any man soever who would deliver up the Car-
dinal to them, dead or alive; if alive, in order to hang him;
if dead, to deny him the rites of Christian burial! "

"Come," said Anne, " 'tis reasonable, — since you only ask
from a Queen the sixth of what the Parliament has proposed,"
and she signed an order for a hundred thousand francs.

"Now then?" she said, "what next?"

"Madam, my friend du Vallon is rich; and has therefore
nothing in the way of fortune to desire, but I think I remem-
ber that there was a dispute between him and M. Mazarin as
to making his estate a barony or not. 'Twas even a promise."

"A country clown," said Anne of Austria; "people will

"Let them!" answered d'Artagnan; "but I am sure of one
thing— that those^ who laugh at him in his presence will never
laugh a second time."

"Here goes the barony," said the Queen, and she signed a


by Google


"Now there remains the chevalier, or the Abbe d'Herblay, as
your majesty pleases."

"Does he wish to be a bishop?"

"No, madam, something easier to grant."


"It is that the King should deign to stand godfather to the
son of Mdme. de Longueville."

The Queen smiled.

"Nothing more?" she asked.

"No, madam, for I presume that the King, standing god-
father to him, could do no less than present him with five
hundred thousand francs, giving his father, also, the govern-
ment of Normandy."

^ "As to the government of Normandy," replied the Queen,
**I think I can promise; but, with regard to the present, the
Cardinal is always telling me there is no more money in the
royal coffers."

"We shall search for some, madam, and if your majesty per-
mits, we will seek for some together."

"What next?"

"Madam, the Count de la Fere."

"What does he ask?"


"There is in the world, then, one man who, having the power
to ask, asks for nothing."

"The Count de la Fere, madam, is more than a man; he is
a demi-god."

"Are you satisfied, sir?"

"There is one thing which the Queen has not signed— her
consent to the treaty."

"Of what use to-day? I will sign to-morrow."

"I can assure her majesty that if she does not sign to-day,
she will not have time to sign to-morrow. Consent, then, I
beg you, madam, to write at the bottom of the schedule, which
has been drawn up by Mazarin, as you see,

"T consent to ratify the treaty proposed by the Parisians.'**

Anne was ensnared; she could not draw back; she signed,
but scarcely had she done so, when pride burst forth in her.
like a tempest, and she began to weep.

D'Artagnan started on seeing these tears; since that time
Queens have shed tears like other women.

The Gascon shook his head; these tears from royalty melted
his heart.

"Madam," he said, kneeling, "look upon the unhappy man
at your feet. Behold, madam! here are the august signatures
of your majesty's hand; if you think you are right in giving
them to me, you shall do so; but, from this very moment,
you are free from any obligation to keep them."

And d'Artagnan, full of honest pride and of manly intrepid-


by Google


ity, placed in Anne's hands, in a bundle, the papers that he
had, one by one, won from her with so much difficulty.

There are moments — for if everything is not good, every-
thing in this world is not bad — ^in which the most rigid and
the coldest hearts are softened by the tears of strong emo-
tion, of a generous sentiment. One of these momentary impulses
actuated Anne. D'Artagnan, when he gave way to his own
feelings, which were in accordance with those of the Queen,
had accomplished all that the most skilful diplomacy could
have done. He was, therefore instantly recompensed, either
for his address, or for his sensibility, whichever it might be

"You were right, sir," said Anne, "I misunderstood you.
TEere are the acts signed; I deliver them to you without com-
pulsion; go and bring me back the Cardinal as soon as pos-

"Madam," faltered d'Artagnan, **it is twenty years ago — ^I
have a good memory — since I had the honor, behind a piece
cf tapestry in the Hotel de Ville, to kiss one of those beautiful

"There is the other," replied the Queen; and that the left
hand should not be less liberal than the right, she drew from
her finger a diamond, nearly similar to the one formerly
given to him, saying, "take and keep this ring in remembrance
of me."

"Madam," said d'Artagnan, rising, "I have only one thing
more to wish, which is, that the next thing you ask from me,
should be my life."

And with this way of concluding — a way peculiar to him-
self— 'he arose and left the room.

"I have never rightly understood these men," said the Queen,
as she watched him retiring from her presence; "and it is
now too late, for in a year the King will be of age."

In twenty-four hours d'Artagnan and Porthos conducted
Mazarin to the Queen; and the one received his commission,
the other his patent of nobility.

On the same day the Treaty of Paris was signed; and it
was everywhere announced that the Cardinal had shut him-
self up for three days, in order to draw it out with the great-
est care.


by Google




Whilst d*Artagnan and Porthos were engaged in conduct-
ing the Cardinal to St. Germain, Athos and Aramis returned
to Paris.

Each had his own particular visit to make.

On the next day, at daybreak, the court made preparations
to quit St. Germain.

Meanwhile, the Queen, every hour, had been sending for

"I hear," she said, "that Paris is not quiet. I iam afraid for
the King's safety; place yourself close to the coach-door on
the right."

"Be assured, madam; I will answer for the King's safety."

As he left the Queen's presence, Bernouin summoned him
to the Cardinal.

"Sir," said Mazarin to him, "an *emute' is spoken of in Paris.
I shall be on the King's left, and as I am the chief person threat-
ened, remain at the coach-door to the left."

"Your Eminence may be perfectly easy," replied d'Artagnan,
"they will not touch a hair of your head."

"Deuce take it," he thought to himself, "how can I take care
of both? Ah! plague on't, I shall guard the King, and Por-
thos the Cardinal."

This arrangement pleased everyone. The Queen had confi-
dence in the courage of d'Artagnan, and the Cardinal in the
strength of Porthos.

The royal procession set out for Paris. Guitaut and Com-
minges, at the head of the Guards, marched fii:st; then came
the royal carriage, with d'Artagnan on one side, Porthos on
the other; then the Musketeers, for twenty-two years the
old friends of d'Artagnan. During twenty he had been their
lieutenant, their captain since the night before.

The cortege proceeded to Notre Dame, where a Te Deum
was chanted. All the people of Paris were in the streets.
The Swiss were drawn up along the road, but as the road was
long, they were placed at six or eight feet distance from each
other, and one man deep only. This force was, therefore,
wholy insufficient, and from time to time the line was broken
through by the people, and was formed again with difficulty.
Whenever this occurred, although it proceeded only from
goodwill and a desire to see the King and Queen, Anne looked
at d'Artagnan anxiously.

Mazarin, who had dispersed a thousand louis to make the
people cry **Long live Mazarin," and who had, therefore, no


by Google


confidence in acclamations bought at twenty pistoles each,
looked also at Porthos; but the gigantic body-guard replied
to that look with his fine bass voice, "Be tranquil, my lord;"
and Mazarin became more and more composed.

At the Palais Royal the crowd, which had forced in from
the adjacent streets, was still greater; like a large, impetuous
crowd, a wave of human beings came to meet the carriage,
and rolled tumultuously into the Rue St. Honore.

When the procession reached the palace, loud cries of "Long
live their majesties!" resounded. Mazarin leaned out of the
window. One or two shouts of "Long live the Cardinal!"
saluted his shadow, but instantly hisses and yells stifled them
remorselessly. Mazarin turned pale, and sank back in his
coach. **

"Low-born fellows!" ejaculated Porthos.

D'Artagnan said nothing, but twirled his moustache with a
peculiar gesture which showed that his fine Gascon humor
was kindled.

Anne of Austria bent down and whispered in the young
King*s ear:

"Say something pleasant to M. d'Artagnan, my lord."

The young King leaned towards the door.

"I have not said good morning to you, M. d'Artagnan," he
said: "nevertheless, I have remarked you. It was you who
were behind my bed-curtains that night when the Parisians
wished to see me asleep."

"And if the King permits me," returned the Gascon, "I shall
be near him whenever there is danger to be encountered."

"Sir," said Mazarin to Porthos, "what would you do if the
crowd fell upon us?"

"Kill as many as I could, my lord."

"Hem! Brave as you are, and strong as you are, you could
not kill alL"

" Tis true," answered Porthos, rising in his saddle, in order
that he might see the immense crowd, "there are many of

"I think T should like the man of wit better than this one
of muscle," said Mazarin to himself, and he threw himself back
in his carriage.

The Queen and her Minister, more especially the latter, had
reason to feel anxious. The crowd, whilst preserving^ an ap-
pearance of respect, and even of affection, for the King and
Queen-regent, began to be tumultuous. Reports were whis-
pered about, like certain sounds which announce, as they are
echoed from wave to wave, the coming storm, and when they
pass through a multitude, presage a riot.

D'Artagnan turned towards the Musketeers, and made a
sign imperceptible to the crowd, but very easily understood
by that chosen regiment, the flower of the army.




The ranks were closed, and a kind of shudder ran from man
to man.

At the Barriere des Sergents the procession was obliged to
stop. Comminges left the head of the escort, and went to
the Queen's carriage. Anne questioned d'Artagnan by a look.
He answered in the same language.

"Proceed," she said.

Comtninges returned to his post. An effort was made, and
the living Imrrier was violently broken through.

Some complaints arose from the crowd, and were addressed
this time to the King, as well as the Minister.

"On!" cried d'Artagnan, with a loud voice.

"Onward!" roared Porthos.

But, as if the multitude had waited only for this demonstra-
tion to burst out, all the sentiments of hostility that possessed
it broke out at once. Cries of "Down with Mazarin!" "Death
to the Cardinal!" resounded on all sides.

At the same time, through the streets of a double stream of
people broke ^he feeble hedge of Swiss Guards, and came,
like a whirlwind, even to the very legs of Porthos' horse and
that of d'Artagnan.

This new eruption was more dangerous than the others, be-
ing composed of armed men. It was plain that it was not the
chance combination of those who had collected a number of
the malcontents at the same spot, but the concerted attack
organized by an hostile spirit.

Each of these two mobs was led on by a chief, one of whom
appeared to belong, not to the people, but to the honorable
corporation of mendicants, and the other, who, notwithstand-
ing his affected imitation of the people, might easily be dis-
covered to be a gentleman. Both were evidently stimulated
by the same impulse.

There was a shock which was perceived even in the royal
carriage. Then, millions of cries, forming one vast uproar,
were heard, mingled with guns firing.

"The Musketeers! here!" cried d'Artagnan.

The escort divided into two files. One of them passed round
to the right of the carriage; the other to the left. One went
to support d'Artagnan, the other, Porthos. Then came a skir-
mish, the more terrible, because it had no definite object;
the more melancholy, because those engaged in it knew not
for whom they were fighting. Like all popular ^ movements,
the shock given by the rush of this mob was formidable. The
Musketeers, few in number, not being able, in the midst of
this crowd, to make their horses wheel round, began to give
way. D'Artagnan offered to lower the blinds of the royal
carriage, but the young King stretched out his arm, saying:

"No, sir! I wish to see everything."

"If your majesty wishes to look out — ^well, then, look!** re-
plied d'Artagnan. And turning with that fury which made him


by Google


so formidable, he rushed towards the chief of the insurgents,
a man, who with a large sword in his hand, tried to clear out
a passage to the coach-door, by a combat with two Muske-

"Make room!" cried d'Artagnan. "Zounds! give way!"

At these words, the man with a pistol and sword raised his
head; but it was too late. The blow was sped by d'Artag-
nan; the rapier had pierced his bosom.

"Ah! confound it!" cried the Gascon, trying in vain, too
late, to retract the thrust. "What the devil are you doing
here, Count?"

"Accomplishing my destiny," replied Rochefort, falling on
one knee. "I have already got up again after three stabs
from you; but I shall not rise after a fourth."

"Count!" said d'Artagnan, with some degree of emotion^
"I struck without knowing that it was you. I am sorry, if you
die, that you should die with sentiments of hatred towards

Rochefort extended his hand to d'Artagnan, who took it.
The count wished to speak, but a gush of blood stifled him.
He stiffened in the last convulsions of death, and expired.

"Back, people!" cried d*Artagnan; "your leader is dead, and
you have no longer anything to do here."

"Indeed, as if de Rochefort had been the soul of the attack,
all the crowd who had followed and obeyed him took flight
on seeing him fall. D'Artagnan charged with a party of Mus-
keteers in the Rue de Coq, and that portion of the mob whom
he assailed disappeared like smoke, dispersing near the Place
St. Germain UAuxerrois, and taking the direction of the

D'Artagnan returned to help Porthos, if Porthos needed
it; but Porthos, on his side, had done his work as conscien-
tiously as d*Artagnan. The left of the carriage was as well
cleared as the right; and they drew up the blind of the win-
dow, which Mazarin, less heroic than the King, had taken
the precaution to lower.

Porthos looked very melancholy.

"What a devil of a face you have Porthos! and what a
strange air for a victorious man!"

"But you," answered Porthos, "seem to be agitated."

"There's a reason! Zounds! I have just killed an old

"Indeed!" replied Porthos; "who?"

"That poor Count de Rochefort."

"Well! exactly like me! I have just killed a man whose face
is not unknown to me. Unluckily, I hit him on the head, and

Online LibraryAlexandre DumasTwenty years after → online text (page 37 of 38)