List Of Contents | Contents of The Man in the Iron Mask, by Dumas, Pere
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corner of his eye.  The conversation between Aramis, D'Artagnan, and
Colbert turned upon indifferent subjects.  They spoke of preceding
ministers; Colbert related the successful tricks of Mazarin, and desired
those of Richelieu to be related to him.  D'Artagnan could not overcome
his surprise at finding this man, with his heavy eyebrows and low
forehead, display so much sound knowledge and cheerful spirits.  Aramis
was astonished at that lightness of character which permitted this
serious man to retard with advantage the moment for more important
conversation, to which nobody made any allusion, although all three
interlocutors felt its imminence.  It was very plain, from the
embarrassed appearance of Monsieur, how much the conversation of the king
and Madame annoyed him.  Madame's eyes were almost red: was she going to
complain?  Was she going to expose a little scandal in open court?  The
king took her on one side, and in a tone so tender that it must have
reminded the princess of the time when she was loved for herself:

"Sister," said he, "why do I see tears in those lovely eyes?"

"Why - sire - " said she.

"Monsieur is jealous, is he not, sister?"

She looked towards Monsieur, an infallible sign that they were talking
about him.

"Yes," said she.

"Listen to me," said the king; "if your friends compromise you, it is not
Monsieur's fault."

He spoke these words with so much kindness that Madame, encouraged,
having borne so many solitary griefs so long, was nearly bursting into
 tears, so full was her heart.

"Come, come, dear little sister," said the king, "tell me your griefs; on
the word of a brother, I pity them; on the word of a king, I will put an
end to them."

She raised her glorious eyes and, in a melancholy tone:

"It is not my friends who compromise me," said she; "they are either
absent or concealed; they have been brought into disgrace with your
majesty; they, so devoted, so good, so loyal!"

"You say this on account of De Guiche, whom I have exiled, at Monsieur's

"And who, since that unjust exile, has endeavored to get himself killed
once every day."

"Unjust, say you, sister?"

"So unjust, that if I had not had the respect mixed with friendship that
I have always entertained for your majesty - "


"Well!  I would have asked my brother Charles, upon whom I can always - "

The king started.  "What, then?"

"I would have asked him to have had it represented to you that Monsieur
and his favorite M. le Chevalier de Lorraine ought not with impunity to
constitute themselves the executioners of my honor and my happiness."

"The Chevalier de Lorraine," said the king; "that dismal fellow?"

"Is my mortal enemy.  Whilst that man lives in my household, where
Monsieur retains him and delegates his power to him, I shall be the most
miserable woman in the kingdom."

"So," said the king, slowly, "you call your brother of England a better
friend than I am?"

"Actions speak for themselves, sire."

"And you would prefer going to ask assistance there - "

"To my own country!" said she with pride; "yes, sire."

"You are the grandchild of Henry IV. as well as myself, lady.  Cousin and
brother-in-law, does not that amount pretty well to the title of brother-

"Then," said Henrietta, "act!"

"Let us form an alliance."


"I have, you say, unjustly exiled De Guiche."

"Oh! yes," said she, blushing.

"De Guiche shall return." (10)

"So far, well."

"And now you say that I do wrong in having in your household the
Chevalier de Lorraine, who gives Monsieur ill advice respecting you?"

"Remember well what I tell you, sire; the Chevalier de Lorraine some day
- Observe, if ever I come to a dreadful end, I beforehand accuse the
Chevalier de Lorraine; he has a spirit that is capable of any crime!"

"The Chevalier de Lorraine shall no longer annoy you - I promise you
that." (11)

"Then that will be a true preliminary of alliance, sire, - I sign; but
since you have done your part, tell me what shall be mine."

"Instead of embroiling me with your brother Charles, you must make him a
more intimate friend than ever."

"That is very easy."

"Oh! not quite so easy as you may suppose, for in ordinary friendship
people embrace or exercise hospitality, and that only costs a kiss or a
return, profitable expenses; but in political friendship - "

"Ah! it's a political friendship, is it?"

"Yes, my sister; and then, instead of embraces and feasts, it is soldiers
- it is soldiers all alive and well equipped - that we must serve up to
our friends; vessels we must offer, all armed with cannons and stored
with provisions.  It hence results that we have not always coffers in a
fit condition for such friendships."

"Ah! you are quite right," said Madame; "the coffers of the king of
England have been sonorous for some time."

"But you, my sister, who have so much influence over your brother, you
can secure more than an ambassador could ever get the promise of."

"To effect that I must go to London, my dear brother."

"I have thought so," replied the king, eagerly; "and I have said to
myself that such a voyage would do your health and spirits good."

"Only," interrupted Madame, "it is possible I should fail.  The king of
England has dangerous counselors."

"Counselors, do you say?"

"Precisely.  If, by chance, your majesty had any intention - I am only
supposing so - of asking Charles II. his alliance in a war - "

"A war?"

"Yes; well! then the king's counselors, who are in number seven -
Mademoiselle Stewart, Mademoiselle Wells, Mademoiselle Gwyn, Miss Orchay,
Mademoiselle Zunga, Miss Davies, and the proud Countess of Castlemaine -
will represent to the king that war costs a great deal of money; that it
is better to give balls and suppers at Hampton Court than to equip ships
of the line at Portsmouth and Greenwich."

"And then your negotiations will fail?"

"Oh! those ladies cause all negotiations to fall through which they don't
make themselves."

"Do you know the idea that has struck me, sister?"

"No; inform me what it is."

"It is that, searching well around you, you might perhaps find a female
counselor to take with you to your brother, whose eloquence might
paralyze the ill-will of the seven others."

"That is really an idea, sire, and I will search."

"You will find what you want."

"I hope so."

"A pretty ambassadress is necessary; an agreeable face is better than an
ugly one, is it not?"

"Most assuredly."

"An animated, lively, audacious character."


"Nobility; that is, enough to enable her to approach the king without
awkwardness - not too lofty, so as not to trouble herself about the
dignity of her race."

"Very true."

"And who knows a little English."

"_Mon Dieu!_ why, some one," cried Madame, "like Mademoiselle de
Keroualle, for instance!"

"Oh! why, yes!" said Louis XIV.; "you have hit the mark, - it is you who
have found, my sister."

"I will take her; she will have no cause to complain, I suppose."

"Oh! no, I will name her _seductrice plenipotentiaire_ at once, and will
add a dowry to the title."

"That is well."

"I fancy you already on your road, my dear little sister, consoled for
all your griefs."

"I will go, on two conditions.  The first is, that I shall know what I am
negotiating about."

"That is it.  The Dutch, you know, insult me daily in their gazettes, and
by their republican attitude.  I do not like republics."

"That may easily be imagined, sire."

"I see with pain that these kings of the sea - they call themselves so -
keep trade from France in the Indies, and that their vessels will soon
occupy all the ports of Europe.  Such a power is too near me, sister."

"They are your allies, nevertheless."

"That is why they were wrong in having the medal you have heard of
struck; a medal which represents Holland stopping the sun, as Joshua did,
with this legend: _The sun had stopped before me_.  There is not much
fraternity in that, _is_ there?"

"I thought you had forgotten that miserable episode?"

"I never forget anything, sister.  And if my true friends, such as your
brother Charles, are willing to second me - "  The princess remained
pensively silent.

"Listen to me; there is the empire of  the seas to be shared," said Louis
XIV.  "For this partition, which England submits to, could I not
represent the second party as well as the Dutch?"

"We have Mademoiselle de Keroualle to treat that question," replied

"Your second condition for going, if you please, sister?"

"The consent of Monsieur, my husband."

"You shall have it."

"Then consider me already gone, brother."

On hearing these words, Louis XIV. turned round towards the corner of the
room in which D'Artagnan, Colbert, and Aramis stood, and made an
affirmative sign to his minister.  Colbert then broke in on the
conversation suddenly, and said to Aramis:

"Monsieur l'ambassadeur, shall we talk about business?"

D'Artagnan immediately withdrew, from politeness.  He directed his steps
towards the fireplace, within hearing of what the king was about to say
to Monsieur, who, evidently uneasy, had gone to him.  The face of the
king was animated.  Upon his brow was stamped a strength of will, the
expression of which already met no further contradiction in France, and
was soon to meet no more in Europe.

"Monsieur," said the king to his brother, "I am not pleased with M. le
Chevalier de Lorraine.  You, who do him the honor to protect him, must
advise him to travel for a few months."

These words fell with the crush of an avalanche upon Monsieur, who adored
his favorite, and concentrated all his affections in him.

"In what has the chevalier been inconsiderate enough to displease your
majesty?" cried he, darting a furious look at Madame.

"I will tell you that when he is gone," said the king, suavely.  "And
also when Madame, here, shall have crossed over into England."

"Madame! in England!" murmured Monsieur, in amazement.

"In a week, brother," continued the king, "whilst we will go whither I

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