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List Of Contents | Contents of The Vicomte de Bragelonne, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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household.

"Good evening, gentlemen," said he.  "Is General Monk here?"

"I am here, sire," replied the old general.

Charles stepped hastily towards him, and seized his hand with the warmest
demonstration of friendship.  "General," said the king, aloud, "I have
just signed your patent, - you are Duke of Albemarle; and my intention
is that no one shall equal you in power and fortune in this kingdom,
where - the noble Montrose excepted - no one has equaled you in loyalty,
courage, and talent.  Gentlemen, the duke is commander of our armies of
land and sea; pay him your respects, if you please, in that character."

Whilst every one was pressing round the general, who received all this
homage without losing his impassibility for an instant, D'Artagnan said
to Athos: "When one thinks that this duchy, this commander of the land
and sea forces, all these grandeurs, in a word, have been shut up in a
box six feet long and three feet wide - "

"My friend," replied Athos, "much more imposing grandeurs are confined in
boxes still smaller, - and remain there forever."

All at once Monk perceived the two gentlemen, who held themselves aside
until the crowd had diminished; he made himself a passage towards them,
so that he surprised them in the midst of their philosophical
reflections.  "Were you speaking of me?" sad he, with a smile.

"My lord," replied Athos, "we were speaking likewise of God."

Monk reflected for a moment, and then replied gayly: "Gentlemen, let us
speak a little of the king likewise, if you please; for you have, I
believe, an audience of his majesty."

"At nine o'clock," said Athos.

"At ten o'clock," said D'Artagnan.

"Let us go into this closet at once," replied Monk, making a sign to his
two companions to precede him; but to that neither would consent.

The king, during this discussion so characteristic of the French, had
returned to the center of the gallery.

"Oh! my Frenchmen!" said he, in that tone of careless gayety which, in
spite of so much grief and so many crosses, he had never lost.  "My
Frenchmen! my consolation!"  Athos and D'Artagnan bowed.

"Duke, conduct these gentlemen into my study.  I am at your service,
messieurs," added he in French.  And he promptly expedited his court, to
return to his Frenchmen, as he called them.  "Monsieur d'Artagnan," said
he, as he entered his closet, "I am glad to see you again."

"Sire, my joy is at its height, at having the honor to salute your
majesty in your own palace of St. James's."

"Monsieur, you have been willing to render me a great service, and I owe
you my gratitude for it.  If I did not fear to intrude upon the rights of
our command general, I would offer you some post worthy of you near our
person."

"Sire," replied D'Artagnan, "I have quitted the service of the king of
France, making a promise to my prince not to serve any other king."

"Humph!" said Charles, "I am sorry to hear that; I should like to do much
for you; I like you very much."

"Sire - "

"But, let us see," said Charles with a smile, "if we cannot make you
break your word.  Duke, assist me.  If you were offered, that is to say,
if I offered you the chief command of my musketeers?"  D'Artagnan bowed
lower than before.

"I should have the regret to refuse what your gracious majesty would
offer me," said he; "a gentleman has but his word, and that word, as I
have had the honor to tell your majesty, is engaged to the king of
France."

"We shall say no more about it, then," said the king, turning towards
Athos, and leaving D'Artagnan plunged in the deepest pangs of
disappointment.

"Ah!  I said so!" muttered the musketeer.  "Words! words!  Court holy
water!  Kings have always a marvelous talent for offering us that which
they know we will not accept, and in appearing generous without risk.  So
be it! - triple fool that I was to have hoped for a moment!"

During this time, Charles took the hand of Athos.  "Comte," said he, "you
have been to me a second father; the services you have rendered to me are
above all price.  I have, nevertheless, thought of a recompense.  You
were created by my father a Knight of the Garter - that is an order which
all the kings of Europe cannot bear; by the queen regent, Knight of the
Holy Ghost - which is an order not less illustrious; I join to it that of
the Golden Fleece sent me by the king of France, to whom the king of
Spain, his father-in-law, gave two on the occasion of his marriage; but
in return, I have a service to ask of you."

"Sire," said Athos, with confusion, "the Golden Fleece for me! when the
king of France is the only person in my country who enjoys that
distinction?"

"I wish you to be in your country and all others the equal of all those
whom sovereigns have honored with their favor," said Charles, drawing the
chain from his neck; "and I am sure, comte, my father smiles on me from
his grave."

"It is unaccountably strange," said D'Artagnan to himself, whilst his
friend, on his knees, received the eminent order which the king conferred
on him - "it is almost incredible that I have always seen showers of
prosperity fall upon all who surrounded me, and that not a drop ever
reached me!  If I were a jealous man, it would be enough to make one tear
one's hair, _parole d'honneur!_"

Athos rose from his knees, and Charles embraced him tenderly.  "General!"
said he to Monk - then stopping, with a smile, "pardon me, duke, I mean.
No wonder if I make a mistake; the word duke is too short for me, I
always seek some title to lengthen it.  I should wish to see you so near
my throne, that I might say to you, as to Louis XIV., my brother!  Oh!  I
have it; and you will almost be my brother, for I make you viceroy of
Ireland and Scotland, my dear duke.  So, after that fashion, henceforward
I shall not make a mistake."

The duke seized the hand of the king, but without enthusiasm, without
joy, as he did everything.  His heart, however, had been moved by this
last favor.  Charles, by skillfully husbanding his generosity, had given
the duke time to wish, although he might not have wished for so much as
was given him.

"_Mordioux!_" grumbled D'Artagnan, "there is the shower beginning again!
Oh! it is enough to turn one's brain!" and he turned away with an air so
sorrowful and so comically piteous, that the king, who caught it, could
not restrain a smile.  Monk was preparing to leave the room, to take
leave of Charles.

"What! my trusty and well-beloved!" said the king to the duke, "are you
going?"

"With your majesty's permission, for in truth I am weary.  The emotions
of the day have worn me out; I stand in need of rest."

"But," said the king, "you are not going without M. d'Artagnan, I hope."

"Why not, sire?" said the old warrior.

"Well! you know very well why," said the king.

Monk looked at Charles with astonishment.

"Oh! it may be possible; but if you forget, you, M. d'Artagnan, do not."

Astonishment was painted on the face of the musketeer.

"Well, then, duke," said the king, "do you not lodge with M. d'Artagnan?"

"I had the honor of offering M. d'Artagnan a lodging; yes, sire."

"That idea is your own, and yours solely?"

"Mine and mine only; yes, sire."

"Well! but it could not be otherwise - the prisoner always lodges with
his conqueror."

Monk colored in his turn.  "Ah! that is true," said he; "I am M.
d'Artagnan's prisoner."

"Without doubt, duke, since you are not yet ransomed; but have no care of
that; it was I who took you out of M. d'Artagnan's hands, and it is I who
will pay your ransom."

The eyes of D'Artagnan regained their gayety and their brilliancy.  The
Gascon began to understand.  Charles advanced towards him.

"The general," said he, "is not rich, and cannot pay you what he is
worth.  I am richer, certainly; but now that he is a duke, and if not a
king, almost a king, he is worth a sum I could not perhaps pay.  Come, M.
d'Artagnan, be moderate with me; how much do I owe you?"

D'Artagnan, delighted at the turn things were taking, but not for a
moment losing his self-possession, replied, - "Sire, your majesty has no
occasion to be alarmed.  When I had the good fortune to take his grace,
M. Monk was only a general; it is therefore only a general's ransom that
is due to me.  But if the general will have the kindness to deliver me
his sword, I shall consider myself paid; for there is nothing in the
world but the general's sword which is worth as much as himself."

"Odds fish! as my father said," cried Charles.  "That is a gallant
proposal, and a gallant man, is he not, duke?"

"Upon my honor, yes, sire," and he drew his sword.  "Monsieur," said he
to D'Artagnan, "here is what you demand.  Many have handled a better
blade; but however modest mine may be, I have never surrendered it to any
one."

D'Artagnan received with pride the sword which had just made a king.

"Oh! oh!" cried Charles II.; "what a sword that has restored me to my
throne - to go out of the kingdom - and not, one day, to figure among the
crown jewels!  No, on my soul! that shall not be!  Captain d'Artagnan, I
will give you two hundred thousand livres for your sword!  If that is too
little, say so."

"It is too little, sire," replied D'Artagnan, with inimitable
seriousness.  "In the first place, I do not at all wish to sell it; but
your majesty desires me to do so, and that is an order.  I obey, then,
but the respect I owe to the illustrious warrior who hears me, commands
me to estimate a third more the reward of my victory.  I ask then three
hundred thousand livres for the sword, or I shall give it to your majesty
for nothing."  And taking it by the point he presented it to the king.
Charles broke into hilarious laughter.

"A gallant man, and a merry companion!  Odds fish! is he not, duke? is he
not, comte?  He pleases me!  I like him!  Here, Chevalier d'Artagnan,
take this."  And going to the table, he took a pen and wrote an order
upon his treasurer for three hundred thousand livres.

D'Artagnan took it, and turning gravely towards Monk: "I have still asked
too little, I know," said he, "but believe me, your grace, I would rather

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