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List Of Contents | Contents of The Vicomte de Bragelonne, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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"Why not?"

"Because the king has gone to bed."

"Gone to bed already?"

"Yes."

"No matter: I must speak to him."

"And I tell you that is impossible."

"And yet - "

"Go back!"

"Do you require the word?"

"I have no account to render to you.  Stand back!"

And this time the soldier accompanied his word with a threatening
gesture; but the unknown stirred no more than if his feet had taken root.

"Monsieur le mousquetaire," said he, "are you a gentleman?"

"I have that honor."

"Very well! I also am one; and between gentlemen some consideration ought
to be observed."

The soldier lowered his arms, overcome by the dignity with which these
words were pronounced.

"Speak, monsieur," said he; "and if you ask me anything in my power - "

"Thank you.  You have an officer, have you not?"

"Our lieutenant?  Yes, monsieur."

"Well, I wish to speak to him."

"Oh, that's a different thing.  Come up, monsieur."

The unknown saluted the soldier in a lofty fashion, and ascended the
staircase; whilst a cry, "Lieutenant, a visit!" transmitted from sentinel
to sentinel, preceded the unknown, and disturbed the slumbers of the
officer.

Dragging on his boot, rubbing his eyes, and hooking his cloak, the
lieutenant made three steps towards the stranger.

"What can I do to serve you, monsieur?" asked he.

"You are the officer on duty, lieutenant of the musketeers, are you?"

"I have that honor," replied the officer.

"Monsieur, I must absolutely speak to the king."

The lieutenant looked attentively at the unknown, and in that look, he
saw all he wished to see - that is to say, a person of high distinction
in an ordinary dress.

"I do not suppose you to be mad," replied he; "and yet you seem to me to
be in a condition to know, monsieur, that people do not enter a king's
apartments in this manner without his consent."

"He will consent."

"Monsieur, permit me to doubt that.  The king has retired this quarter
of an hour; he must be now undressing.  Besides, the word is given."

"When he knows who I am, he will recall the word."

The officer was more and more surprised, more and more subdued.

"If I consent to announce you, may I at least know whom to announce,
monsieur?"

"You will announce His Majesty Charles II., King of England, Scotland,
and Ireland."

The officer uttered a cry of astonishment, drew back, and there might be
seen upon his pallid countenance one of the most poignant emotions that
ever an energetic man endeavored to drive back to his heart.

"Oh, yes, sire; in fact," said he, "I ought to have recognized you."

"You have seen my portrait, then?"

"No, sire."

"Or else you have seen me formerly at court, before I was driven from
France?"

"No, sire, it is not even that."

"How then could you have recognized me, if you have never seen my
portrait or my person?"

"Sire, I saw his majesty your father at a terrible moment."

"The day - "

"Yes."

A dark cloud passed over the brow of the prince; then, dashing his hand
across it, "Do you see any difficulty in announcing me?" said he.

"Sire, pardon me," replied the officer, "but I could not imagine a king
under so simple an exterior; and yet I had the honor to tell your majesty
just now that I had seen Charles I.  But pardon me, monsieur; I will go
and inform the king."

But returning after going a few steps, "Your majesty is desirous, without
doubt, that this interview should be a secret?" said he.

"I do not require it; but if it were possible to preserve it - "

"It is possible, sire, for I can dispense with informing the first
gentleman on duty; but, for that, your majesty must please to consent to
give up your sword."

"True, true; I had forgotten that no one armed is permitted to enter the
chamber of a king of France."

"Your majesty will form an exception, if you wish it; but then I shall
avoid my responsibility by informing the king's attendant."

"Here is my sword, monsieur.  Will you now please to announce me to his
majesty?"

"Instantly, sire."  And the officer immediately went and knocked at the
door of communication, which the valet opened to him.

"His Majesty the King of England!" said the officer.

"His Majesty the King of England!" replied the _valet de chambre_.

At these words a gentleman opened the folding-doors of the king's
apartment, and Louis XIV. was seen, without hat or sword, and his
_pourpoint_ open, advancing with signs of the greatest surprise.

"You, my brother - you at Blois!" cried Louis XIV., dismissing with a
gesture both the gentlemen and the _valet de chambre_, who passed out
into the next apartment.

"Sire," replied Charles II., "I was going to Paris, in the hope of seeing
your majesty, when report informed me of your approaching arrival in this
city.  I therefore prolonged my abode here, having something very
particular to communicate to you."

"Will this closet suit you, my brother?"

"Perfectly well, sire; for I think no one can hear us here."

"I have dismissed my gentleman and my watcher; they are in the next
chamber.  There, behind that partition, is a solitary closet, looking
into the ante-chamber, and in that ante-chamber you found nobody but
a solitary officer, did you?"

"No, sire."

"Well, then, speak, my brother; I listen to you."

"Sire, I commence, and entreat your majesty to have pity on the
misfortunes of our house."

The king of France colored, and drew his chair closer to that of the
king of England.

"Sire," said Charles II., "I have no need to ask if your majesty is
acquainted with the details of my deplorable history."

Louis XIV. blushed, this time more strongly than before; then, stretching
forth his hand to that of the king of England, "My brother," said he, "I
am ashamed to say so, but the cardinal scarcely ever speaks of political
affairs before me.  Still more, formerly I used to get Laporte, my _valet
de chambre_, to read historical subjects to me; but he put a stop to
these readings, and took away Laporte from me.  So that I beg my brother
Charles to tell me all those matters as to a man who knows nothing."

"Well, sire, I think that by taking things from the beginning I shall
have a better chance of touching the heart of your majesty."

"Speak on, my brother - speak on."

"You know, sire, that being called in 1650 to Edinburgh, during
Cromwell's expedition into Ireland, I was crowned at Scone.  A year
after, wounded in one of the provinces he had usurped, Cromwell returned
upon us.  To meet him was my object; to leave Scotland was my wish."

"And yet," interrupted the young king, "Scotland is almost your native
country, is it not, my brother?"

"Yes, but the Scots were cruel compatriots for me, sire; they had forced
me to forsake the religion of my fathers; they had hung Lord Montrose,
the most devoted of my servants, because he was not a Covenanter; and as
the poor martyr, to whom they had offered a favor when dying, had asked
that his body might be cut into as many pieces as there are cities in
Scotland, in order that evidence of his fidelity might be met with
everywhere, I could not leave one city, or go into another, without
passing under some fragments of a body which had acted, fought, and
breathed for me.

"By a bold, almost desperate march, I passed through Cromwell's army, and
entered England.  The Protector set out in pursuit of this strange
flight, which had a crown for its object.  If I had been able to reach
London before him, without doubt the prize of the race would have been
mine; but he overtook me at Worcester.

"The genius of England was no longer with us, but with him.  On the 3rd
of September, 1651, sire, the anniversary of the other battle of Dunbar,
so fatal to the Scots, I was conquered.  Two thousand men fell around me
before I thought of retreating a step.  At length I was obliged to fly.

"From that moment my history became a romance.  Pursued with persistent
inveteracy, I cut off my hair, I disguised myself as a woodman.  One day
spent amidst the branches of an oak gave to that tree the name of the
royal oak, which it bears to this day.  My adventures in the county of
Stafford, whence I escaped with the daughter of my host on a pillion
behind me, still fill the tales of the country firesides, and would
furnish matter for ballads.  I will some day write all this, sire, for
the instruction of my brother kings.

"I will first tell how, on arriving at the residence of Mr. Norton, I met
with a court chaplain, who was looking on at a party playing at skittles,
and an old servant who named me, bursting into tears, and who was as near
and as certainly killing me by his fidelity as another might have been by
treachery.  Then I will tell of my terrors - yes, sire, of my terrors 
when, at the house of Colonel Windham, a farrier who came to shoe our
horses declared they had been shod in the north."

"How strange!" murmured Louis XIV.  "I never heard anything of all that;
I was only told of your embarkation at Brighelmstone and your landing
in Normandy." (1)

"Oh!" exclaimed Charles, "if Heaven permits kings to be thus ignorant of
the histories of each other, how can they render assistance to their
brothers who need it?"

"But tell me," continued Louis XIV., "how, after being so roughly
received in England, you can still hope for anything from that unhappy
country and that rebellious people?"

"Oh, sire! since the battle of Worcester, everything is changed there.
Cromwell is dead, after having signed a treaty with France, in which his
name is placed above yours.  He died on the 3rd of September, 1658, a
fresh anniversary of the battles of Dunbar and Worcester."

"His son has succeeded him."

"But certain men have a family, sire, and no heir.  The inheritance of
Oliver was too heavy for Richard.  Richard was neither a republican nor a
royalist; Richard allowed his guards to eat his dinner, and his generals
to govern the republic; Richard abdicated the protectorate on the 22nd of
April, 1659, more than a year ago, sire.

"From that time England is nothing but a tennis-court, in which the

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