players throw dice for the crown of my father. The two most eager players are Lambert and Monk. Well, sire, I, in my turn, wish to take part in this game, where the stakes are thrown upon my royal mantle. Sire, it only requires a million to corrupt one of these players and make an ally of him, or two hundred of your gentlemen to drive them out of my palace at Whitehall, as Christ drove the money-changers from the temple." "You come, then," replied Louis XIV., to ask me - " "For your assistance; that is to say, not only for that which kings owe to each other, but that which simple Christians owe to each other - your assistance, sire, either in money or men. Your assistance, sire, and within a month, whether I oppose Lambert to Monk, or Monk to Lambert, I shall have reconquered my paternal inheritance, without having cost my country a guinea, or my subjects a drop of blood, for they are now all drunk with revolutions, protectorates, and republics, and ask nothing better than to fall staggering to sleep in the arms of royalty. Your assistance, sire, and I shall owe you more than I owe my father, - my poor father, who bought at so dear a rate the ruin of our house! You may judge, sire, whether I am unhappy, whether I am in despair, for I accuse my own father!" And the blood mounted to the pale face of Charles II., who remained for an instant with his head between his hands, and as if blinded by that blood which appeared to revolt against the filial blasphemy. The young king was not less affected than his elder brother; he threw himself about in his _fauteuil_, and could not find a single word of reply. Charles II., to whom ten years in age gave a superior strength to master his emotions, recovered his speech the first. "Sire," said he, "your reply? I wait for it as a criminal waits for his sentence. Must I die?" "My brother," replied the French prince, "you ask of me for a million – me, who was never possessed of a quarter of that sum! I possess nothing. I am no more king of France than you are king of England. I am a name, a cipher dressed in _fleur-de-lised_ velvet, - that is all. I am upon a visible throne; that is my only advantage over your majesty. I have nothing - I can do nothing." "Can it be so?" exclaimed Charles II. "My brother," said Louis, sinking his voice, "I have undergone miseries with which my poorest gentlemen are unacquainted. If my poor Laporte were here, he would tell you that I have slept in ragged sheets, through the holes of which my legs have passed; he would tell you that afterwards, when I asked for carriages, they brought me conveyances half- destroyed by the rats of the coach-houses; he would tell you that when I asked for my dinner, the servants went to the cardinal's kitchen to inquire if there were any dinner for the king. And look! to-day, this very day even, when I am twenty-two years of age, - to-day, when I have attained the grade of the majority of kings, - to-day, when I ought to have the key of the treasury, the direction of the policy, the supremacy in peace and war, - cast your eyes around me, see how I am left! Look at this abandonment - this disdain - this silence! - Whilst yonder - look yonder! View the bustle, the lights, the homage! There! - there you see the real king of France, my brother!" "In the cardinal's apartments?" "Yes, in the cardinal's apartments." "Then I am condemned, sire?" Louis XIV. made no reply. "Condemned is the word; for I will never solicit him who left my mother and sister to die with cold and hunger - the daughter and grand-daughter of Henry IV. – as surely they would have if M. de Retz and the parliament had not sent them wood and bread." "To die?" murmured Louis XIV. "Well!" continued the king of England, "poor Charles II., grandson of Henry IV., as you are, sire having neither parliament nor Cardinal de Retz to apply to, will die of hunger, as his mother and sister had nearly done." Louis knitted his brow, and twisted violently the lace of his ruffles. This prostration, this immobility, serving as a mark to an emotion so visible, struck Charles II., and he took the young man's hand. "Thanks!" said he, "my brother. You pity me, and that is all I can require of you in your present situation." "Sire," said Louis XIV., with a sudden impulse, and raising his head, "it is a million you require, or two hundred gentlemen, I think you say?" "Sire, a million would be quite sufficient." "That is very little." "Offered to a single man it is a great deal. Convictions have been purchased at a much lower price; and I should have nothing to do but with venalities." "Two hundred gentlemen! Reflect! - that is little more than a single company." "Sire, there is in our family a tradition, and that is, that four men, four French gentlemen, devoted to my father, were near saving my father, though condemned by a parliament, guarded by an army and surrounded by a nation." "Then if I can procure you a million, or two hundred gentlemen, you will be satisfied; and you will consider me your well-affectioned brother?" "I shall consider you as my saviour; and if I recover the throne of my father, England will be, as long as I reign it, a sister to France, as you will have been a brother to me." "Well, my brother," said Louis, rising, "what you hesitate to ask for, I will myself demand; that which I have never done on my own account, I will do on yours. I will go and find the king of France - the other – the rich, the powerful one, I mean. I will myself solicit this million, or these two hundred gentlemen; and - we will see." "Oh!" cried Charles; "you are a noble friend, sire - a heart created by God! You save me, my brother; and if you should ever stand in need of the life you restored me, demand it." "Silence, my brother, - silence!" said Louis, in a suppressed voice. "Take care that no one hears you! We have not obtained our end yet. To ask money of Mazarin - that is worse than traversing the enchanted forest, each tree of which inclosed a demon. It is more than setting out to conquer a world." "But yet, sire, when you ask it - " "I have already told you that I never asked," replied Louis with a haughtiness that made the king of England turn pale. And the latter, like a wounded man, made a retreating movement - "Pardon me, my brother," replied he. "I have neither a mother nor a sister who are suffering. My throne is hard and naked, but I am firmly seated on my throne. Pardon me that expression, my brother; it was that of an egotist. I will retract it, therefore, by a sacrifice, - I will go to monsieur le cardinal. Wait for me, if you please - I will return." Chapter X: The Arithmetic of M. de Mazarin. Whilst the king was directing his course rapidly towards the wing of the castle occupied by the cardinal, taking nobody with him but his _valet de chambre_, the officer of musketeers came out, breathing like a man who has for a long time been forced to hold his breath, from the little cabinet of which we have already spoken, and which the king believed to be quite solitary. This little cabinet had formerly been part of the chamber, from which it was only separated by a thin partition. It resulted that this partition, which was only for the eye, permitted the ear the least indiscreet to hear every word spoken in the chamber. There was no doubt, then, that this lieutenant of musketeers had heard all that passed in his majesty's apartment. Warned by the last words of the young king, he came out just in time to salute him on his passage, and to follow him with his eyes till he had disappeared in the corridor. Then as soon as he had disappeared, he shook his head after a fashion peculiarly his own, and in a voice which forty years' absence from Gascony had not deprived of its Gascon accent, "A melancholy service," said he, "and a melancholy master!" These words pronounced, the lieutenant resumed his place in his _fauteuil_, stretched his legs and closed his eyes, like a man who either sleeps or meditates. During this short monologue and the _mise en scene_ that had accompanied it, whilst the king, through the long corridors of the old castle, proceeded to the apartment of M. de Mazarin, a scene of another sort was being enacted in those apartments. Mazarin was in bed, suffering a little from the gout. But as he was a man of order, who utilized even pain, he forced his wakefulness to be the humble servant of his labor. He had consequently ordered Bernouin, his _valet de chambre_, to bring him a little traveling-desk, so that he might write in bed. But the gout is not an adversary that allows itself to be conquered so easily; therefore, at each movement he made, the pain from dull became sharp. "Is Brienne there?" asked he of Bernouin. "No, monseigneur," replied the _valet de chambre_; "M. de Brienne, with your permission, is gone to bed. But if it is the wish of your eminence, he can speedily be called." "No, it is not worth while. Let us see, however. Cursed ciphers!" And the cardinal began to think, counting on his fingers the while. "Oh, ciphers is it?" said Bernouin. "Very well! if your eminence attempts calculations, I will promise you a pretty headache to-morrow! And with that please to remember M. Guenaud is not here." "You are right, Bernouin. You must take Brienne's place, my friend. Indeed, I ought to have brought M. Colbert with me. That young man goes on very well, Bernouin, very well; a very orderly youth." "I do not know," sad the _valet de chambre_, "but I don't like the countenance of your young man who goes on so well." "Well, well, Bernouin! We don't stand in need of your advice. Place yourself there: take the pen and write." "I am ready, monseigneur; what am I to write?" "There, that's the place: after the two lines already traced." "I am there." "Write seven hundred and sixty thousand livres." "That is written." "Upon Lyons - " The cardinal appeared to hesitate. "Upon Lyons," repeated Bernouin.
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