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List Of Contents | Contents of The Vicomte de Bragelonne, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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"I have had much ambition, father."

"That is the march of great minds and things, my lord."

"Even the longing for the tiara?"

"To be pope is to be the first of Christians.  Why should you not desire
that?"

"It has been printed that, to gain that object, I had sold Cambria to the
Spaniards."

"You have, perhaps, yourself written pamphlets without severely
persecuting pamphleteers."

"Then, reverend father, I have truly a clean breast.  I feel nothing
remaining but slight peccadilloes."

"What are they?"

"Play."

"That is rather worldly: but you were obliged by the duties of greatness
to keep a good house."

"I like to win."

"No player plays to lose."

"I cheated a little."

"You took your advantage.  Pass on."

"Well! reverend father, I feel nothing else upon my conscience.  Give me
absolution, and my soul will be able, when God shall please to call it,
to mount without obstacle to the throne - "

The Theatin moved neither his arms nor his lips.  "What are you waiting
for, father?" said Mazarin.

"I am waiting for the end."

"The end of what?"

"Of the confession, monsieur."

"But I have ended."

"Oh, no; your eminence is mistaken."

"Not that I know of."

"Search diligently."

"I have searched as well as possible."

"Then I shall assist your memory."

"Do."

The Theatin coughed several times.  "You have said nothing of avarice,
another capital sin, nor of those millions," said he.

"What millions, father?"

"Why, those you possess, my lord."

"Father, that money is mine, why should I speak to you about that?"

"Because, you see, our opinions differ.  You say that money is yours,
whilst I - I believe it is rather the property of others."

Mazarin lifted his cold hand to his brow, which was beaded with
perspiration.  "How so?" stammered he.

"This way.  Your excellency had gained much wealth - in the service of
the king."

"Hum! much - that is, not too much."

"Whatever it may be, whence came that wealth?"

"From the state."

"The state; that is the king."

"But what do you conclude from that, father?" said Mazarin, who began to
tremble.

"I cannot conclude without seeing a list of the riches you possess.  Let
us reckon a little, if you please.  You have the bishopric of Metz?"

"Yes."

"The abbeys of St. Clement, St. Arnould, and St. Vincent, all at Metz?"

"Yes."

"You have the abbey of St. Denis, in France,  magnificent property?"

"Yes, father."

"You have the abbey of Cluny, which is rich?"

"I have."

"That of St. Medard at Soissons, with a revenue of one hundred thousand
livres?"

"I cannot deny it."

"That of St. Victor, at Marseilles, - one of the best in the south?"

"Yes father."

"A good million a year.  With the emoluments of the cardinalship and the
ministry, I say too little when I say two millions a year."

"Eh!"

"In ten years that is twenty millions - and twenty millions put out at
fifty per cent. give, by progression, twenty-three millions in ten years."

"How well you reckon for a Theatin!"

"Since your eminence placed our order in the convent we occupy, near St.
Germain des Pres, in 1644, I have kept the accounts of the society."

"And mine likewise, apparently, father."

"One ought to know a little of everything, my lord."

"Very well.  Conclude, at present."

"I conclude that your baggage is too heavy to allow you to pass through
the gates of Paradise."

"Shall I be damned?"

"If you do not make restitution, yes."

Mazarin uttered a piteous cry.  "Restitution! - but to whom, good God?"

"To the owner of that money, - to the king."

"But the king did not give it all to me."

"One moment, - does not the king sign the _ordonances_?"

Mazarin passed from sighs to groans.  "Absolution! absolution!" cried he.

"Impossible, my lord.  Restitution! restitution!" replied the Theatin.

"But you absolve me from all other sins, why not from that?"

"Because," replied the father, "to absolve you for that motive would be a
sin for which the king would never absolve me, my lord."

Thereupon the confessor quitted his penitent with an air full of
compunction.  He then went out in the same manner he had entered.

"Oh, good God!" groaned the cardinal.  "Come here, Colbert, I am very,
very ill indeed, my friend."


Chapter XLVI:
The Donation.

Colbert reappeared beneath the curtains.

"Have you heard?" said Mazarin.

"Alas! yes, my lord."

"Can he be right?  Can all this money be badly acquired?"

"A Theatin, monseigneur, is a bad judge in matters of finance," replied
Colbert, coolly.  "And yet it is very possible that, according to his
theological views, your eminence has been, in a certain degree, in the
wrong.  People generally find they have been so, - when they die."

"In the first place, they commit the wrong of dying, Colbert."

"That is true, my lord.  Against whom, however, did the Theatin make out
that you had committed these wrongs?  Against the king?"

Mazarin shrugged his shoulders.  "As if I had not saved both his state
and his finances."

"That admits of no contradiction, my lord."

"Does it?  Then I have received a merely legitimate salary, in spite of
the opinion of my confessor?"

"That is beyond doubt."

"And I might fairly keep for my own family, which is so needy, a good
fortune, - the whole, even, of which I have earned?"

"I see no impediment to that, monseigneur."

"I felt assured that in consulting you, Colbert, I should have good
advice," replied Mazarin, greatly delighted.

Colbert resumed his pedantic look.  "My lord," interrupted he, "I think
it would be quite as well to examine whether what the Theatin said is not
a _snare_."

"Oh! no; a snare?  What for?  The Theatin is an honest man."

"He believed your eminence to be at death's door, because your eminence
consulted him.  Did I not hear him say - 'Distinguish that which the king
has given you from that which you have given yourself.'  Recollect, my
lord, if he did not say something a little like that to you? - that is
quite a theatrical speech."

"That is possible."

"In which case, my lord, I should consider you as required by the Theatin
to - "

"To make restitution!" cried Mazarin, with great warmth.

"Eh!  I do not say no."

"What, of all!  You do not dream of such a thing!  You speak just as the
confessor did."

"To make restitution of a part, - that is to say, his majesty's part; and
that, monseigneur, may have its dangers.  Your eminence is too skillful a
politician not to know that, at this moment, the king does not possess a
hundred and fifty thousand livres clear in his coffers."

"That is not my affair," said Mazarin, triumphantly; "that belongs to M.
le Surintendant Fouquet, whose accounts I gave you to verify some months
ago."

Colbert bit his lips at the name of Fouquet.  "His majesty," said he,
between his teeth, "has no money but that which M. Fouquet collects: your
money, monseigneur, would afford him a delicious banquet."

"Well, but I am not the superintendent of his majesty's finances - I have
my purse - surely I would do much for his majesty's welfare - some legacy
- but I cannot disappoint my family."

"The legacy of a part would dishonor you and offend the king.  Leaving a
part to his majesty, is to avow that that part has inspired you with
doubts as to the lawfulness of the means of acquisition."

"Monsieur Colbert!"

"I thought your eminence did me the honor to ask my advice?"

"Yes, but you are ignorant of the principal details of the question."

"I am ignorant of nothing, my lord; during ten years, all the columns of
figures which are found in France, have passed into review before me; and
if I have painfully nailed them into my brain, they are there now so well
riveted, that, from the office of M. Letellier, who is sober, to the
little secret largesses of M. Fouquet, who is prodigal, I could recite,
figure by figure, all the money that is spent in France from Marseilles
to Cherbourg."

"Then, you would have me throw all my money into the coffers of the
king!" cried Mazarin, ironically; and from whom, at the same time the
gout forced painful moans.  "Surely the king would reproach me with
nothing, but he would laugh at me, while squandering my millions, and
with good reason."

"Your eminence has misunderstood me.  I did not, the least in the world,
pretend that his majesty ought to spend your money."

"You said so, clearly, it seems to me, when you advised me to give it to
him."

"Ah," replied Colbert, "that is because your eminence, absorbed as you
are by your disease, entirely loses sight of the character of Louis XIV."

"How so?"

"That character, if I may venture to express myself thus, resembles that
which my lord confessed just now to the Theatin."

"Go on - that is?"

"Pride!  Pardon me, my lord, haughtiness, nobleness; kings have no pride,
that is a human passion."

"Pride, - yes, you are right.  Next?"

"Well, my lord, if I have divined rightly, your eminence has but to give
all your money to the king, and that immediately."

"But for what?" said Mazarin, quite bewildered.

"Because the king will not accept of the whole."

"What, and he a young man, and devoured by ambition?"

"Just so."

"A young man who is anxious for my death - "

"My lord!"

"To inherit, yes, Colbert, yes; he is anxious for my death, in order to
inherit.  Triple fool that I am!  I would prevent him!"

"Exactly: if the donation were made in a certain form he would refuse it."

"Well; but how?"

"That is plain enough.  A young man who has yet done nothing - who burns
to distinguish himself - who burns to reign alone, will never take
anything ready built, he will construct for himself.  This prince,
monseigneur, will never be content with the Palais Royal, which M. de
Richelieu left him, nor with the Palais Mazarin, which you have had so
superbly constructed, nor with the Louvre, which his ancestors inhabited;
nor with St. Germain, where he was born.  All that does not proceed from
himself, I predict, he will disdain."

"And you will guarantee, that if I give my forty millions to the king - "

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