List Of Contents | Contents of The Vicomte de Bragelonne, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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brave brewer of whom we are speaking, was a visionary; he had moments of
exaltation, of inflation, during which he ran over like an over-filled
cask; and from the chinks there always escaped some drops of his
thoughts, and by the sample the whole of his thought was to be made out.
Cromwell has thus allowed us more than ten times to penetrate into his
very soul, when one would have conceived that soul to be enveloped in
triple brass, as Horace had it.  But Monk!  Oh, sire, God defend you from
ever having anything to transact politically with Monk.  It is he who has
given me, in one year, all the gray hairs I have.  Monk is no fanatic;
unfortunately he is a politician; he does not overflow, he keeps close
together.  For ten years he has had his eyes fixed upon one object, and
nobody has yet been able to ascertain what.  Every morning, as Louis XI.
advised, he burns his nightcap.  Therefore, on the day when this plan,
slowly and solitarily ripened, shall break forth, it will break forth
with all the conditions of success which always accompany an unforeseen
event.  That is Monk, sire, of whom, perhaps, you have never even heard 
of whom, perhaps, you did not even know the name, before your brother,
Charles II., who knows what he is, pronounced it before you.  He is a
marvel of depth and tenacity, the two only things against which
intelligence and ardor are blunted.  Sire, I had ardor when I was young;
I always was intelligent.  I may safely boast of it, because I am
reproached with it.  I have done very well with these two qualities,
since, from the son of a fisherman of Piscina, I have become prime
minister to the king of France; and in that position your majesty will
perhaps acknowledge I have rendered some service to the throne of your
majesty.  Well, sire, if I had met with Monk on my way, instead of
Monsieur de Beaufort, Monsieur de Retz, or Monsieur le Prince - well, we
should have been ruined.  If you engage yourself rashly, sire, you will
fall into the talons of this politic soldier.  The casque of Monk, sire,
is an iron coffer, and no one has the key of it.  Therefore, near him, or
rather before him, I bow, sire, for I have nothing but a velvet cap."

"What do you think Monk wishes to do, then?"

"Eh! sire, if I knew that, I would not tell you to mistrust him, for I
should be stronger than he; but with him, I am afraid to guess - to
guess! - you understand my word? - for if I thought I had guessed, I
should stop at an idea, and, in spite of myself, should pursue that
idea.  Since that man has been in power yonder, I am like one of the
damned in Dante whose neck Satan has twisted, and who walk forward
looking around behind them.  I am traveling towards Madrid, but I never
lose sight of London.  To guess, with that devil of a man, is to deceive
one's self and to deceive one's self is to ruin one's self.  God keep me
from ever seeking to guess what he aims at; I confine myself to watching
what he does, and that is well enough.  Now I believe - you observe the
meaning of the word _I believe?_ - _I believe_, with respect to Monk,
ties one to nothing - I believe that he has a strong inclination to
succeed Cromwell.  Your Charles II. has already caused proposals to be
made to him by ten persons; he has satisfied himself with driving these
ten meddlers from his presence, without saying anything to them but,
'Begone, or I will have you hung.'  That man is a sepulcher!  At this
moment Monk is affecting devotion to the Rump Parliament; of this
devotion, I am not the dupe.  Monk has no wish to be assassinated, - an
assassination would stop him in the middle of his operations; and his
work must be accomplished; - so I believe - but do not believe what I
believe, sire: for as I say I believe from habit - I believe that Monk
is keeping on friendly terms with the parliament till the day comes for
dispersing it.  You are asked for swords, but they are to fight against
Monk.  God preserve you from fighting against Monk, sire; for Monk would
beat us, and I should never console myself after being beaten by Monk.  I
should say to myself, Monk has foreseen that victory ten years.  For
God's sake, sire, out of friendship for you, if not out of consideration
for himself, let Charles II. keep quiet.  Your majesty will give him a
little income here; give him one of your chateaux.  Yes, yes - wait
awhile.  But I forget the treaty - that famous treaty of which we were
just now speaking.  Your majesty has not even the right to give him a
chateau."

"How is that?"

"Yes, yes; your majesty is bound not to grant hospitality to King
Charles, and to compel him to leave France even.  It was on this account
we forced him to quit you, and yet here he is again.  Sire, I hope you
will give your brother to understand that he cannot remain with us; that
it is impossible he should be allowed to compromise us; or I myself - "

"Enough, my lord," said Louis XIV., rising.  "In refusing me a million,
perhaps you may be right; your millions are your own.  In refusing me
two hundred gentlemen, you are still further in the right; for you are
prime minister, and you have, in the eyes of France, the responsibility
of peace and war.  But that you should pretend to prevent me, who am king,
from extending my hospitality to the grandson of Henry IV., to my cousin-
german, to the companion of my childhood - there your power stops, and
there begins my will."

"Sire," said Mazarin, delighted at being let off so cheaply, and who had,
besides, only fought so earnestly to arrive at that, - "sire, I shall
always bend before the will of my king.  Let my king, then, keep near
him, or in one of his chateaux, the king of England; let Mazarin know it,
but let not the minister know it."

"Good-night, my lord," said Louis XIV., "I go away in despair."

"But convinced, and that is all I desire, sire," replied Mazarin.

The king made no answer, and retired quite pensive, convinced, not of
all Mazarin had told him, but of one thing which he took care not to
mention to him; and that was, that it was necessary for him to study
seriously both his own affairs and those of Europe, for he found them
very difficult and very obscure.  Louis found the king of England seated
in the same place where he had left him.  On perceiving him, the English
prince arose; but at the first glance he saw discouragement written in
dark letters upon his cousin's brow.  Then, speaking first, as if to
facilitate the painful avowal that Louis had to make to him, -

"Whatever it may be," said he, "I shall never forget all the kindness,
all the friendship you have exhibited towards me."

"Alas!" replied Louis, in a melancholy tone, "only barren good-will, my
brother."

Charles II. became extremely pale; he passed his cold hand over his brow,
and struggled for a few instants against a faintness that made him
tremble.  "I understand," said he at last; "no more hope!"

Louis seized the hand of Charles II. "Wait, my brother," said he;
"precipitate nothing; everything may change; hasty resolutions ruin all
causes; add another year of trial, I implore you, to the years you have
already undergone.  You have, to induce you to act now rather than at
another time, neither occasion nor opportunity.  Come with me, my
brother; I will give you one of my residences, whichever you prefer, to
inhabit.  I, with you, will keep my eyes upon events; we will prepare.
Come, then, my brother, have courage!"

Charles II. withdrew his hand from that of the king, and drawing back, to
salute him with more ceremony, "With all my heart, thanks!" replied he,
"sire; but I have prayed without success to the greatest king on earth;
now I will go and ask a miracle of God."  And he went out without being
willing to hear any more, his head carried loftily, his hand trembling,
with a painful contraction of his noble countenance, and that profound
gloom which, finding no more hope in the world of men, appeared to go
beyond it, and ask it in worlds unknown.  The officer of musketeers, on
seeing him pass by thus pale, bowed almost to his knees as he saluted
him.  He then took a flambeau, called two musketeers, and descended the
deserted staircase with the unfortunate king, holding in his left hand
his hat, the plume of which swept the steps.  Arrived at the door, the
musketeer asked the king which way he was going, that he might direct the
musketeers.

"Monsieur," replied Charles II., in a subdued voice, "you who have known
my father, say, did you ever pray for him?  If you have done so, do not
forget me in your prayers.  Now, I am going alone, and beg of you not to
accompany me, or have me accompanied any further."

The officer bowed and sent away the musketeers into the interior of the
palace.  But he himself remained an instant under the porch watching the
departing Charles II., till he was lost in the turn of the next street.
"To him as to his father formerly," murmured he, "Athos, if he were here,
would say with reason, - 'Salute fallen majesty!'"  Then, reascending the
staircase: "Oh! the vile service that I follow!" said he at every step.
"Oh! my pitiful master!  Life thus carried on is no longer tolerable, and
it is at length time that I should do something!  No more generosity, no
more energy!  The master has succeeded, the pupil is starved forever.
_Mordioux!_  I will not resist.  Come, you men," continued he, entering
the ante-chamber, "why are you all looking at me so?  Extinguish these
torches and return to your posts.  Ah! you were guarding me?  Yes, you
watch over me, do you not, worthy fellows?  Brave fools!  I am not the
Duc de Guise.  Begone!  They will not assassinate me in the little
passage.  Besides," added he, in a low voice, "that would be a
resolution, and no resolutions have been formed since Monsieur le
Cardinal Richelieu died.  Now, with all his faults, that was a man!  It
is settled: to-morrow I will throw my cassock to the nettles."

Then, reflecting: "No," said he, "not yet!  I have one great trial to
make and I will make it; but that, and I swear it, shall be the last,
_Mordioux!_"


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