List Of Contents | Contents of The Vicomte de Bragelonne, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

He had not finished speaking when a voice issued from the king's
chamber.  "Monsieur le lieutenant!" said this voice.

"Here I am," replied he.

"The king desires to speak to you."

"Humph!" said the lieutenant; "perhaps of what I was thinking about."
And he went into the king's apartment.


Chapter XII:
The King and the Lieutenant.

As soon as the king saw the officer enter, he dismissed his _valet de
chambre_ and his gentleman.

"Who is on duty to-morrow, monsieur?" asked he.

The lieutenant bowed his head with military politeness, and replied, "I
am, sire."

"What! still you?"

"Always I, sire."

"How can that be, monsieur?"

"Sire, when traveling, the musketeers supply all the posts of your
majesty's household; that is to say, yours, her majesty the queen's, and
monsieur le cardinal's, the latter of whom borrows of the king the best
part, or rather the numerous part, of the royal guard."

"But in the interims?"

"There are no interims, sire, but for twenty or thirty men who rest out
of a hundred and twenty.  At the Louvre it is very different, and if I
were at the Louvre I should rely upon my brigadier; but, when traveling,
sire, no one knows what may happen, and I prefer doing my duty myself."

"Then you are on guard every day?"

"And every night.  Yes, sire."

"Monsieur, I cannot allow that - I will have you rest."

"That is very kind, sire; but I will not."

"What do you say?" said the king, who did not at first comprehend the
full meaning of this reply.

"I say, sire, that I will not expose myself to the chance of a fault.  If
the devil had a trick to play on me, you understand, sire, as he knows
the man with whom he has to deal, he would chose the moment when I should
not be there.  My duty and the peace of my conscience before everything,
sire."

"But such duty will kill you, monsieur."

"Eh! sire, I have performed it for thirty years, and in all France and
Navarre there is not a man in better health than I am.  Moreover, I
entreat you, sire, not to trouble yourself about me.  That would appear
very strange to me, seeing that I am not accustomed to it."

The king cut short the conversation by a fresh question.  "Shall you be
here, then, to-morrow morning?"

"As at present? yes, sire."

The king walked several times up and down his chamber; it was very plain
that he burned with a desire to speak, but that he was restrained by some
fear or other.  The lieutenant, standing motionless, hat in hand, watched
him making these evolutions, and, whilst looking at him, grumbled to
himself, biting his mustache:

"He has not half a crown worth of resolution!  _Parole d'honneur!_  I
would lay a wager he does not speak at all!"

The king continued to walk about, casting from time to time a side glance
at the lieutenant.  "He is the very image of his father," continued the
latter, in is secret soliloquy, "he is at once proud, avaricious, and
timid.  The devil take his master, say I."

The king stopped.  "Lieutenant," said he.

"I am here, sire."

"Why did you cry out this evening, down below in the _salons_ - 'The
king's service!  His majesty's musketeers!'"

"Because you gave me the order, sire."

"I?"

"Yourself."

"Indeed, I did not say a word, monsieur."

"Sire, an order is given by a sign, by a gesture, by a glance, as
intelligibly, as freely, and as clearly as by word of mouth.  A servant
who has nothing but ears is not half a good servant."

"Your eyes are very penetrating, then, monsieur."

"How is that, sire?"

"Because they see what is not."

	"My eyes are good, though, sire, although they have served their
master long and much: when they have anything to see, they seldom miss
the opportunity.  Now, this evening, they saw that your majesty colored
with endeavoring to conceal the inclination to yawn, that your majesty
looked with eloquent supplications, first to his eminence, and then at
her majesty, the queen-mother, and at length to the entrance door, and
they so thoroughly remarked all I have said, that they saw your majesty's
lips articulate these words: 'Who will get me out of this?'"

"Monsieur!"

"Or something to this effect, sire - 'My musketeers!'  I could then no
longer hesitate.  That look was for me.  I cried out instantly, 'His
majesty's musketeers!'  And, besides, that was shown to be true, sire,
not only by your majesty's not saying I was wrong, but proving I was
right by going out at once."

The king turned away to smile; then, after a few seconds, he again fixed
his limpid eye upon that countenance, so intelligent, so bold, and so
firm, that it might have been said to be the proud and energetic profile
of the eagle facing the sun.  "That is all very well," said he, after a
short silence, during which he endeavored, in vain, to make his officer
lower his eyes.

But seeing the king said no more, the latter pirouetted on his heels, and
took three steps towards the door, muttering, "He will not speak!
_Mordioux!_ he will not speak!"

"Thank you, monsieur," said the king at last.

"Humph!" continued the lieutenant; "there was only wanting that.  Blamed
for having been less of a fool than another might have been."  And he
went to the door, allowing his spurs to jingle in true military style.
But when he was on the threshold, feeling the king's desire drew him
back, he returned.

"Has your majesty told me all?" asked he, in a tone we cannot describe,
but which, without appearing to solicit the royal confidence, contained
so much persuasive frankness, that the king immediately replied:

"Yes; but draw near, monsieur."

"Now then," murmured the officer, "he is coming to it at last."

"Listen to me."

"I shall not lose a word, sire."

"You will mount on horseback to-morrow, at about half-past four in the
morning, and you will have a horse saddled for me."

"From your majesty's stables?"

"No; one of your musketeers' horses."

"Very well, sire.  Is that all?"

"And you will accompany me."

"Alone?"

"Alone."

"Shall I come to seek your majesty, or shall I wait?"

"You will wait for me."

"Where, sire?"

"At the little park-gate."

The lieutenant bowed, understanding that the king had told him all he
had to say.  In fact, the king dismissed him with a gracious wave of the
hand.  The officer left the chamber of the king, and returned to place
himself philosophically in his _fauteuil_, where, far from sleeping, as
might have been expected, considering how late it was, he began to
reflect more deeply than he had ever reflected before.  The result of
these reflections was not so melancholy as the preceding ones had been.

"Come, he has begun," said he.  "Love urges him on, and he goes forward 
he goes forward!  The king is nobody in his own palace; but the man
perhaps may prove to be worth something.  Well, we shall see to-morrow
morning.  Oh! oh!" cried he, all at once starting up, "that is a gigantic
idea, _mordioux!_ and perhaps my fortune depends, at least, upon that
idea!"  After this exclamation, the officer arose and marched, with his
hands in the pockets of his _justaucorps_, about the immense ante-chamber
that served him as an apartment.  The wax-light flamed furiously under
the effects of a fresh breeze, which stole in through the chinks of the
door and the window, and cut the _salle_ diagonally.  It threw out a
reddish, unequal light, sometimes brilliant, sometimes dull, and the tall
shadow of the lieutenant was seen marching on the wall, in profile, like
a figure by Callot, with his long sword and feathered hat.

"Certainly!" said he, "I am mistaken if Mazarin is not laying a snare for
this amorous boy.  Mazarin, this evening, gave an address, and made an
appointment as complacently as M. Daangeau himself could have done - I
heard him, and I know the meaning of his words.  'To-morrow morning,'
said he, 'they will pass opposite the bridge of Blois.'  _Mordioux!_ that
is clear enough, and particularly for a lover.  That is the cause of this
embarrassment; that is the cause of this hesitation; that is the cause of
this order - 'Monsieur the lieutenant of my musketeers, be on horseback
to-morrow at four o'clock in the morning.'  Which is as clear as if he
had said, - 'Monsieur the lieutenant of my musketeers, to-morrow, at
four, at the bridge of Blois, - do you understand?'  Here is a state
secret, then, which I, humble as I am, have in my possession, while it
is in action.  And how do I get it?  Because I have good eyes, as his
majesty just now said.  They say he loves this little Italian doll
furiously.  They say he threw himself at his mother's feet, to beg her to
allow him to marry her.  They say the queen went so far as to consult the
court of Rome, whether such a marriage, contracted against her will,
would be valid.  Oh, if I were but twenty-five!  If I had by my side
those I no longer have!  If I did not despise the whole world most
profoundly, I would embroil Mazarin with the queen-mother, France with
Spain, and I would make a queen after my own fashion.  But let that
pass."  And the lieutenant snapped his fingers in disdain.

"This miserable Italian - this poor creature - this sordid wretch - who
has just refused the king of England a million, would not perhaps give
me a thousand pistoles for the news I would carry him.  _Mordioux!_  I
am falling into second childhood - I am becoming stupid indeed!  The idea
of Mazarin giving anything! ha! ha! ha!" and he laughed in a subdued
voice.

"Well, let us go to sleep - let us go to sleep; and the sooner the
better.  My mind is wearied with my evening's work, and will see things
to-morrow more clearly than to-day."

And upon this recommendation, made to himself, he folded his cloak around
him, looking with contempt upon his royal neighbor.  Five minutes after
this he was asleep, with his hands clenched and his lips apart, giving
escape, not to his secret, but to a sonorous sound, which rose and spread
freely beneath the majestic roof of the ante-chamber.


Chapter XIII:
Mary de Mancini.

The sun had scarcely shed its first beams on the majestic trees of the

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >



Other sites:

db3nf.com screen-capture.net floresca.net simonova.net flora-source.com flora-source.com sourcecentral.com sourcecentral.com geocities.com