Make your own free website on Tripod.com

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

France or Holland, I would tempt fortune myself in person, as I had
already done, with two hundred gentlemen, if he would give them to me;
and a million, if he would lend it me."

"Well, sire?"

"Well, monsieur, I am suffering at this moment something strange, and
that is, the satisfaction of despair.  There is in certain souls, - and I
have just discovered that mine is of the number,- a real satisfaction in
the assurance that all is lost, and the time is come to yield."

"Oh, I hope," said Athos, "that your majesty is not come to that
extremity."

"To say so, my lord count, to endeavor to revive hope in my heart, you
must have ill understood what I have just told you.  I came to Blois to
ask of my brother Louis the alms of a million, with which I had the hopes
of re-establishing my affairs; and my brother Louis has refused me.  You
see, then, plainly, that all is lost."

"Will your majesty permit me to express a contrary opinion?"

"How is that, count?  Do you think my heart of so low an order that I do
not know how to face my position?"

"Sire, I have always seen that it was in desperate positions that
suddenly the great turns of fortune have taken place."

"Thank you, count: it is some comfort to meet with a heart like yours;
that is to say, sufficiently trustful in God and in monarchy, never to
despair of a royal fortune, however low it may be fallen.  Unfortunately,
my dear count, your words are like those remedies they call 'sovereign,'
and which, though able to cure curable wounds or diseases, fail against
death.  Thank you for your perseverance in consoling me, count, thanks
for your devoted remembrance, but I know in what I must trust - nothing
will save me now.  And see, my friend, I was so convinced, that I was
taking the route of exile, with my old Parry; I was returning to devour
my poignant griefs in the little hermitage offered me by Holland.  There,
believe me, count, all will soon be over, and death will come quickly; it
is called so often by this body, eaten up by its soul, and by this soul,
which aspires to heaven."

"Your majesty has a mother, a sister, and brothers; your majesty is the
head of the family, and ought, therefore, to ask a long life of God,
instead of imploring Him for a prompt death.  Your majesty is an exile,
a fugitive, but you have right on your side; you ought to aspire to
combats, dangers, business, and not to rest in heavens."

"Count," said Charles II., with a smile of indescribable sadness, "have
you ever heard of a king who reconquered his kingdom with one servant the
age of Parry, and with three hundred crowns which that servant carried in
his purse?"

"No, sire; but I have heard - and that more than once - that a dethroned
king has recovered his kingdom with a firm will, perseverance, some
friends, and a million skillfully employed."

"But you cannot have understood me.  The million I asked of my brother
Louis was refused me."

"Sire," said Athos, "will your majesty grant me a few minutes, and listen
attentively to what remains for me to say to you?"

Charles II. looked earnestly at Athos.  "Willingly, monsieur," said he.

"Then I will show your majesty the way," resumed the count, directing his
steps towards the house.  He then conducted the king to his study, and
begged him to be seated.  "Sire," said he, "your majesty just now told me
that, in the present state of England, a million would suffice for the
recovery of your kingdom."

"To attempt it at least, monsieur; and to die as a king if I should not
succeed."

"Well, then, sire, let your majesty, according to the promise you have
made me, have the goodness to listen to  what I have to say."  Charles
made an affirmative sign with his head.  Athos walked straight up to the
door, the bolts of which he drew, after looking to see if anybody was
near, and then returned.  "Sire," said he, "your majesty has kindly
remembered that I lent assistance to the very noble and very unfortunate
Charles I., when his executioners conducted him from St. James's to
Whitehall."

"Yes, certainly I do remember it, and always shall remember it."

"Sire, it is a dismal history to be heard by a son who no doubt has had
it related to him many times; and yet I ought to repeat it to your
majesty without omitting one detail."

"Speak on, monsieur."

"When the king your father ascended the scaffold, or rather when he
passed from his chamber to the scaffold, on a level with his window,
everything was prepared for his escape.  The executioner was got out of
the way; a hole contrived under the floor of his apartment; I myself was
beneath the funeral vault, which I heard all at once creak beneath his
feet."

"Parry has related to me all these terrible details, monsieur."

Athos bowed and resumed.  "But here is something he had not related to
you, sire, for what follows passed between God, your father, and myself;
and never has the revelation of it been made even to my dearest friends.
'Go a little further off,' said the august prisoner to the executioner;
'it is but for an instant, and I know that I belong to you; but remember
not to strike till I give the signal.  I wish to offer up my prayers in
freedom."

"Pardon me," said Charles II., turning very pale," but you, count, who
know so many details of this melancholy event, - details which, as you
said just now, have never been revealed to any one, - do you know the
name of that infernal executioner, of that base wretch who concealed his
face that he might assassinate a king with impunity?"

Athos became slightly pale.  "His name?" said he, "yes, I know it, but
cannot tell it."

"And what is become of him, for nobody in England knows his destiny?"

"He is dead."

"But he did not die in his bed; he did not die a calm and peaceful death;
he did not die the death of the good?"

"He died a violent death, in a terrible night, rendered so by the
passions of man and a tempest from God.  His body, pierced by a dagger,
sank to the depths of the ocean.  God pardon his murderer!"

"Proceed, then," said Charles II., seeing that the count was unwilling to
say more.

"The king of England, after having, as I have said, spoken thus to the
masked executioner, added, - 'Observe, you will not strike till I shall
stretch out my arms, saying - REMEMBER!'"

"I was aware," said Charles, in an agitated voice, "that that was the
last word pronounced by my unfortunate father.  But why and for whom?"

"For the French gentleman placed beneath his scaffold."

"For you, then, monsieur?"

"Yes, sire; and every one of the words which he spoke to me, through the
planks of the scaffold covered with a black cloth, still sounds in my
ears.  The king knelt down on one knee: 'Comte de la Fere,' said he, 'are
you there?'  'Yes, sire,' replied I.  Then the king stooped towards the
boards."

Charles II., also palpitating with interest, burning with grief, stooped
towards Athos, to catch, one by one, every word that escaped from him.
His head touched that of the comte.

"Then," continued Athos, "the king stooped.  'Comte de la Fere,' said he,
'I could not be saved by you: it was not to be.  Now, even though I
commit a sacrilege, I must speak to you.  Yes, I have spoken to men -
yes, I have spoken to God, and I speak to you the last.  To sustain a
cause which I thought sacred, I have lost the throne of my fathers and
the heritage of my children.'"

Charles II. concealed his face in his hands, and a bitter tear glided
between his white and slender fingers.

"'I have still a million in gold,' continued the king.  'I buried it in
the vaults of the castle of Newcastle, a moment before I left that
city.'"  Charles raised his head with an expression of such painful joy
that it would have drawn tears from any one acquainted with his
misfortunes.

"A million!" murmured he, "Oh, count!"

"'You alone know that this money exists: employ it when you think it can
be of the greatest service to my eldest son.  And now, Comte de la Fere,
bid me adieu!'

"'Adieu, adieu, sire!' cried I."

Charles arose, and went and leant his burning brow against the window.

"It was then," continued Athos, "that the king pronounced the word
'REMEMBER!' addressed to me.  You see, sire, that I have remembered."

The king could not resist or conceal his emotion.  Athos beheld the
movement of his shoulders, which undulated convulsively; he heard the
sobs which burst from his over-charged breast.  He was silent himself,
suffocated by the flood of bitter remembrances he had just poured upon
that royal head.  Charles II., with a violent effort, left the window,
devoured his tears, and came and sat by Athos.  "Sire," said the latter,
"I thought till to-day that the time had not yet arrived for the
employment of that last resource; but, with my eyes fixed upon England, I
felt it was approaching.  To-morrow I meant to go and inquire in what
part of the world your majesty was, and then I purposed going to you.
You come to me, sire; that is an indication that God is with us."

"My lord," said Charles, in a voice choked by emotion, "you are, for me,
what an angel sent from heaven would be, - you are a preserver sent to me
from the tomb of my father himself; but, believe me, for ten years' civil
war has passed over my country, striking down men, tearing up soil, it is
no more probable that gold should remain in the entrails of the earth,
than love in the hearts of my subjects."

"Sire, the spot in which his majesty buried the million is well known to
me, and no one, I am sure, has been able to discover it.  Besides, is the
castle of Newcastle quite destroyed? Have they demolished it stone by
stone, and uprooted the soil to the last tree?"

"No, it is still standing: but at this moment General Monk occupies it
and is encamped there.  The only spot from which I could look for succor,
where I possess a single resource, you see, is invaded by my enemies."

"General Monk, sire, cannot have discovered the treasure which I speak
of."

"Yes, but can I go and deliver myself up to Monk, in order to recover
this treasure? Ah! count, you see plainly I must yield to destiny, since

< < 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