particularly now, in the supreme majesty of death. He did not dare, therefore, to begin the conversation, feeling that every word must have its weight not only upon things of this world, but of the next. As to the cardinal, at that moment he had but one thought - his donation. It was not physical pain which gave him that air of despondency, and that lugubrious look; it was the expectation of the thanks that were about to issue from the king's mouth, and cut off all hope of restitution. Mazarin was the first to break the silence. "Is your majesty come to make any stay at Vincennes?" said he. Louis made an affirmative sign with his head. "That is a gracious favor," continued Mazarin, "granted to a dying man, and which will render death less painful to him." "I hope," replied the king, "I am come to visit, not a dying man, but a sick man, susceptible of cure." Mazarin replied by a movement of the head. "Your majesty is very kind; but I know more than you on that subject. The last visit, sire," said he, "the last visit." "If it were so, monsieur le cardinal," said Louis, "I would come a last time to ask the counsels of a guide to whom I owe everything." Anne of Austria was a woman; she could not restrain her tears. Louis showed himself much affected, and Mazarin still more than his two guests, but from very different motives. Here the silence returned. The queen wiped her eyes, and the king resumed his firmness. "I was saying," continued the king, "that I owed much to your eminence." The eyes of the cardinal had devoured the king, for he felt the great moment had come. "And," continued Louis, "the principal object of my visit was to offer you very sincere thanks for the last evidence of friendship you have kindly sent me." The cheeks of the cardinal became sunken, his lips partially opened, and the most lamentable sigh he had ever uttered was about to issue from his chest. "Sire," said he, "I shall have despoiled my poor family; I shall have ruined all who belong to me, which may be imputed to me as an error; but, at least, it shall not be said of me that I have refused to sacrifice everything to my king." Anne of Austria's tears flowed afresh. "My dear Monsieur Mazarin," said the king, in a more serious tone than might have been expected from his youth, "you have misunderstood me, apparently." Mazarin raised himself upon his elbow. "I have no purpose to despoil your dear family, nor to ruin your servants. Oh, no, that must never be!" "Humph!" thought Mazarin, "he is going to restore me some scraps; let us get the largest piece we can." "The king is going to be foolishly affected and play generous," thought the queen; "he must not be allowed to impoverish himself; such an opportunity for getting a fortune will never occur again." "Sire," said the cardinal, aloud, "my family is very numerous, and my nieces will be destitute when I am gone." "Oh," interrupted the queen, eagerly, "have no uneasiness with respect to your family, dear Monsieur Mazarin; we have no friends dearer than your friends; your nieces shall be my children, the sisters of his majesty; and if a favor be distributed in France, it shall be to those you love." "Smoke!" thought Mazarin, who knew better than any one the faith that can be put in the promises of kings. Louis read the dying man's thought in his face. "Be comforted, my dear Monsieur Mazarin," said he, with a half-smile, sad beneath its irony; "the Mesdemoiselles de Mancini will lose, in losing you, their most precious good; but they shall none the less be the richest heiresses of France; and since you have been kind enough to give me their dowry" - the cardinal was panting - "I restore it to them," continued Louis, drawing from his breast and holding towards the cardinal's bed the parchment which contained the donation that, during two days, had kept alive such tempests in the mind of Mazarin. "What did I tell you, my lord?" murmured in the alcove a voice which passed away like a breath. "Your majesty returns my donation!" cried Mazarin, so disturbed by joy as to forget his character of a benefactor. "Your majesty rejects the forty millions!" cried Anne of Austria, so stupefied as to forget her character of an afflicted wife, or queen. "Yes, my lord cardinal; yes, madame," replied Louis XIV., tearing the parchment which Mazarin had not yet ventured to clutch; "yes, I annihilate this deed, which despoiled a whole family. The wealth acquired by his eminence in my service is his own wealth and not mine." "But, sire, does your majesty reflect," said Anne of Austria, "that you have not ten thousand crowns in your coffers?" "Madame, I have just performed my first royal action, and I hope it will worthily inaugurate my reign." "Ah! sire, you are right!" cried Mazarin; "that is truly great - that is truly generous which you have just done." And he looked, one after the other, at the pieces of the act spread over his bed, to assure himself that it was the original and not a copy that had been torn. At length his eyes fell upon the fragment which bore his signature, and recognizing it, he sunk back on his bolster in a swoon. Anne of Austria, without strength to conceal her regret, raised her hands and eyes towards heaven. "Oh! sire," cried Mazarin, "may you be blessed! My God! May you be beloved by all my family. _Per Baccho!_ If ever any of those belonging to me should cause your displeasure, sire, only frown, and I will rise from my tomb!" This _pantalonnade_ did not produce all the effect Mazarin had counted upon. Louis had already passed to considerations of a higher nature, and as to Anne of Austria, unable to bear, without abandoning herself to the anger she felt burning within her, the magnanimity of her son and the hypocrisy of the cardinal, she arose and left the chamber, heedless of thus betraying the extent of her grief. Mazarin saw all this, and fearing that Louis XIV. might repent his decision, in order to draw attention another way he began to cry out, as, at a later period, Scapin was to cry out, in that sublime piece of pleasantry with which the morose and grumbling Boileau dared to reproach Moliere. His cries, however, by degrees, became fainter; and when Anne of Austria left the apartment, they ceased altogether. "Monsieur le cardinal," said the king, "have you any recommendations to make me?" "Sire," replied Mazarin, "you are already wisdom itself, prudence personified; of your generosity I shall not venture to speak; that which you have just done exceeds all that the most generous men of antiquity or of modern times have ever done." The king received this praise coldly. "So you confine yourself," said he, "to your thanks - and your experience, much more extensive than my wisdom, my prudence, or my generosity, does not furnish you with a single piece of friendly advice to guide my future." Mazarin reflected for a moment. "You have just done much for me, sire," said he, "that is, for my family." "Say no more about that," said the king. "Well!" continued Mazarin, "I shall give you something in exchange for these forty millions you have refused so royally." Louis XIV. indicated by a movement that these flatteries were displeasing to him. "I shall give you a piece of advice," continued Mazarin; "yes, a piece of advice - advice more precious than the forty millions." "My lord cardinal!" interrupted Louis. "Sire, listen to this advice." "I am listening." "Come nearer, sire, for I am weak! - nearer, sire, nearer!" The king bent over the dying man. "Sire," said Mazarin, in so low a tone that the breath of his words arrived only like a recommendation from the tomb in the attentive ears of the king - "Sire, never have a prime minister." Louis drew back astonished. The advice was a confession - a treasure, in fact, was that sincere confession of Mazarin. The legacy of the cardinal to the young king was composed of six words only, but those six words, as Mazarin had said, were worth forty millions. Louis remained for an instant bewildered. As for Mazarin, he appeared only to have said something quite natural. A little scratching was heard along the curtains of the alcove. Mazarin understood: "Yes, yes!" cried he, warmly, "yes, sire, I recommend to you a wise man, an honest man, and a clever man." "Tell me his name, my lord." "His name is yet almost unknown, sire; it is M. Colbert, my attendant. Oh! try him," added Mazarin, in an earnest voice; "all that he has predicted has come to pass; he has a safe glance, he is never mistaken either in things or in men - which is more surprising still. Sire, I owe you much, but I think I acquit myself of all towards you in giving you M. Colbert." "So be it," said Louis, faintly, for, as Mazarin had said, the name of Colbert was quite unknown to him, and he thought the enthusiasm of the cardinal partook of the delirium of a dying man. The cardinal sank back on his pillows. "For the present, adieu, sire! adieu," murmured Mazarin. "I am tired, and I have yet a rough journey to take before I present myself to my new Master. Adieu, sire!" The young king felt the tears rise to his eyes; he bent over the dying man, already half a corpse, and then hastily retired. Chapter XLIX: The First Appearance of Colbert. The whole night was passed in anguish, common to the dying man and to the king: the dying man expected his deliverance, the king awaited his liberty. Louis did not go to bed. An hour after leaving the chamber of the cardinal, he learned that the dying man, recovering a little strength, had insisted upon being dressed, adorned and painted, and seeing the ambassadors. Like Augustus, he no doubt considered the world a great stage, and was desirous of playing out the last act of the comedy. Anne of Austria reappeared no more in the cardinal's apartments; she had nothing more to do there. Propriety was the pretext for her absence. On his part, the cardinal did not ask for her: the advice the queen had giver her son rankled in his heart.
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