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List Of Contents | Contents of The Vicomte de Bragelonne, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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"I shall remember that word, monsieur."

D'Artagnan bowed.

"And you know I have a good memory," said the king.

"Yes, sire; and yet I should desire that that memory should fail your
majesty in this instance, in order that you might forget all the miseries
I have been forced to spread before your eyes.  Your majesty is so much
above the poor and the mean, that I hope - "

"My majesty, monsieur, will act like the sun, which looks upon all, great
and small, rich and poor, giving luster to some, warmth to others, and
life to all.  Adieu,  Monsieur d'Artagnan - adieu: you are free."

And the king, with a hoarse sob, which was lost in his throat, passed
quickly into the next room.  D'Artagnan took up his hat from the table on
which he had thrown in, and went out.


Chapter XV:
The Proscribed.

D'Artagnan had not reached the bottom of the staircase, when the king
called his gentleman.  "I have a commission to give you, monsieur," said
he.

"I am at your majesty's commands."

"Wait, then."  And the young king began to write the following letter,
which cost him more than one sigh, although, at the same time, something
like a feeling of triumph glittered in his eyes:

"MY LORD CARDINAL, - Thanks to your good counsels, and, above all, thanks
to your firmness, I have succeeded in overcoming a weakness unworthy of a
king.  You have too ably arranged my destiny to allow gratitude not to
stop me at the moment when I was about to destroy your work.  I felt I
was wrong to wish to make my life turn from the course you had marked out
for it.  Certainly it would have been a misfortune to France and my
family if a misunderstanding had taken place between me and my minister.
This, however, would certainly have happened if I had made your niece my
wife.  I am perfectly aware of this, and will henceforth oppose nothing
to the accomplishment of my destiny.  I am prepared, then, to wed the
infanta, Maria Theresa.  You may at once open the conference.  - Your
affectionate LOUIS."

The king, after reperusing the letter, sealed it himself.

"This letter for my lord cardinal," said he.

The gentleman took it.  At Mazarin's door he found Bernouin waiting with
anxiety.

"Well?" asked the minister's _valet de chambre_.

"Monsieur," said the gentleman, "here is a letter for his eminence."

"A letter!  Ah! we expected one after the little journey of the morning."

"Oh! you know, then, that his majesty - "

"As first minister, it belongs to the duties of our charge to know
everything.  And his majesty prays and implores, I presume."

"I don't know, but he sighed frequently whilst he was writing."

"Yes, yes, yes; we understand all that; people sigh sometimes from
happiness as well as from grief, monsieur."

"And yet the king did not look very happy when he returned, monsieur."

"You did not see clearly.  Besides, you only saw his majesty on his
return, for he was only accompanied by the lieutenant of the guards.  But
I had his eminence's telescope; I looked through it when he was tired,
and I am sure they both wept."

"Well! was it for happiness they wept?"

"No, but for love, and they vowed to each other a thousand tendernesses,
which the king asks no better to keep.  Now this letter is a beginning of
the execution."

"And what does his eminence think of this love, which is, by the bye, no
secret to anybody?"

Bernouin took the gentleman by the arm, and whilst ascending the
staircase, - "In confidence," said he, in a low voice, "his eminence
looks for success in the affair.  I know very well we shall have war with
Spain; but, bah! war will please the nobles.  My lord cardinal, besides,
can endow his niece royally, nay, more than royally.  There will be
money, festivities, and fire-works - everybody will be delighted."

"Well, for my part," replied the gentleman, shaking his head, "it appears
to me that this letter is very light to contain all that."

"My friend," replied Bernouin, "I am certain of what I tell you.  M.
d'Artagnan related all that passed to me."

"Ay, ay! and what did he tell you?  Let us hear."

"I accosted him by asking him, on the part of the cardinal, if there were
any news, without discovering my designs, observe, for M. d'Artagnan is a
cunning hand.  'My dear Monsieur Bernouin,' he replied, 'the king is
madly in love with Mademoiselle de Mancini, that is all I have to tell
you.'  And then I asked him: 'Do you think, to such a degree that it will
urge him to act contrary to the designs of his eminence?'  'Ah! don't ask
me,' said he; 'I think the king capable of anything; he has a will of
iron, and what he wills he wills in earnest.  If he takes it into his
head to marry Mademoiselle de Mancini, he will marry her, depend upon
it.'  And thereupon he left me and went straight to the stables, took a
horse, saddled it himself, jumped upon its back, and set off as if the
devil were at his heels."

"So that you believe, then - "

"I believe that monsieur the lieutenant of the guards knew more than he
was willing to say."

"In you opinion, then, M. d'Artagnan - "

"Is gone, according to all probability, after the exiles, to carry out
all that can facilitate the success of the king's love."

Chatting thus, the two confidants arrived at the door of his eminence's
apartment.  His eminence's gout had left him; he was walking about his
chamber in a state of great anxiety, listening at doors and looking out
of windows.  Bernouin entered, followed by the gentleman, who had orders
from the king to place the letter in the hands of the cardinal himself.
Mazarin took the letter, but before opening it, he got up a ready smile,
a smile of circumstance, able to throw a veil over emotions of whatever
sort they might be.  So prepared, whatever was the impression received
from the letter, no reflection of that impression was allowed to
transpire upon his countenance.

"Well," said he, when he had read and reread the letter, "very well,
monsieur.  Inform the king that I thank him for his obedience to the
wishes of the queen-mother, and that I will do everything for the
accomplishment of his will."

The gentleman left the room.  The door had scarcely closed before the
cardinal, who had no mask for Bernouin, took off that which had so
recently covered his face, and with a most dismal expression, - "Call M.
de Brienne," said he.  Five minutes afterward the secretary entered.

"Monsieur," said Mazarin, "I have just rendered a great service to the
monarchy, the greatest I have ever rendered it.  You will carry this
letter, which proves it, to her majesty the queen-mother, and when she
shall have returned it to you, you will lodge it in portfolio B., which
is filed with documents and papers relative to my ministry."

Brienne went as desired, and, as the letter was unsealed, did not fail to
read it on his way.  There is likewise no doubt that Bernouin, who was on
good terms with everybody, approached so near to the secretary as to be
able to read the letter over his shoulder; so that the news spread with
such activity through the castle, that Mazarin might have feared it would
reach the ears of the queen-mother before M. de Brienne could convey
Louis XIV.'s letter to her.  A moment after orders were given for
departure, and M. de Conde having been to pay his respects to the king on
his pretended rising, inscribed the city of Poitiers upon his tablets, as
the place of sojourn and rest for their majesties.

Thus in a few instants was unraveled an intrigue which had covertly
occupied all the diplomacies of Europe.  It had nothing, however, very
clear as a result, but to make a poor lieutenant of musketeers lose his
commission and his fortune.  It is true, that in exchange he gained his
liberty.  We shall soon know how M. d'Artagnan profited by this.  For
the moment, if the reader will permit us, we shall return to the hostelry
of _les Medici_, of which one of the windows opened at the very moment
the orders were given for the departure of the king.

The window that opened was that of one of the rooms of Charles II.  The
unfortunate prince had passed the night in bitter reflections, his head
resting on his hands, and his elbows on the table, whilst Parry, infirm
and old, wearied in body and in mind, had fallen asleep in a corner.  A
singular fortune was that of this faithful servant, who saw beginning for
the second generation the fearful series of misfortunes which had weighed
so heavily on the first.  When Charles II. had well thought over the
fresh defeat he had experienced, when he perfectly comprehended the
complete isolation into which he had just fallen, on seeing his fresh
hope left behind him, he was seized as with a vertigo, and sank back into
the large armchair in which he was seated.  Then God took pity on the
unhappy prince, and sent to console him sleep, the innocent brother of
death.  He did not wake till half-past six, that is to say, till the sun
shone brightly into his chamber, and Parry, motionless with fear of
waking him, was observing with profound grief the eyes of the young man
already red with wakefulness, and his cheeks pale with suffering and
privations.

At length the noise of some heavy carts descending towards the Loire
awakened Charles.  He arose, looked around him like a man who has
forgotten everything, perceived Parry, shook him by the hand, and
commanded him to settle the reckoning with Master Cropole.  Master
Cropole, being called upon to settle his account with Parry, acquitted
himself, it must be allowed, like an honest man; he only made his
customary remark, that the two travelers had eaten nothing, which had the
double disadvantage of being humiliating for his kitchen, and of forcing
him to ask payment for a repast not consumed, but not the less lost.
Parry had nothing to say to the contrary, and paid.

"I hope," said the king, "it has not been the same with the horses.  I
don't see that they have eaten at your expense, and it would be a
misfortune for travelers like us, who have a long journey to make, to
have our horses fail us."

But Cropole, at this doubt, assumed his majestic air, and replied that

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