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List Of Contents | Contents of The Vicomte de Bragelonne, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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"And which I can have?"

"Within two hours, sire."

"But where are they, then?"

"In the cellar of a house which the cardinal possessed in the city, and
which he was so kind as to leave me by a particular clause of his will."

"You are acquainted with the cardinal's will, then?"

"I have a duplicate of it, signed by his hand."

"A duplicate?"

"Yes, sire, and here it is."  Colbert drew the deed quietly from his
pocket, and showed it to the king.  The king read the article relative to
the donation of the house.

"But," said he, "there is no question here but of the house; there is
nothing said of the money."

"Your pardon, sire, it is in my conscience."

"And Monsieur Mazarin has intrusted it to you?"

"Why not, sire?"

"He! a man mistrustful of everybody?"

"He was not so of me, sire, as your majesty may perceive."

Louis fixed his eyes with admiration upon that vulgar but expressive
face.  "You are an honest man, M. Colbert," said the king.

"That is not a virtue, it is a duty," replied Colbert, coolly.

"But," added Louis, "does not the money belong to the family?"

"If this money belonged to the family it would be disposed of in the
testament, as the rest of the fortune is.  If this money belonged to the
family, I, who drew up the deed of donation in favor of your majesty,
should have added the sum of thirteen millions to that of forty millions
which was offered to you."

"How!" exclaimed Louis XIV., "was it you who drew up the deed of
donation?"

"Yes, sire."

"And yet the cardinal was attached to you?" added the king, ingenuously.

"I had assured his eminence you would by no means accept the gift," said
Colbert, in that same quiet manner we have described, and which, even in
the common habits of life, had something solemn in it.

Louis passed his hand over his brow: "Oh! how young I am," murmured he,
"to have command of men."

Colbert waited the end of this monologue.  He saw Louis raise his head.
"At what hour shall I send the money to your majesty?" asked he.

"To-night, at eleven o'clock; I desire that no one may know that I
possess this money."

Colbert made no more reply than if the thing had not been said to him.

"Is the amount in ingots, or coined gold?"

"In coined gold, sire."

"That is well."

"Where shall I send it?"

"To the Louvre.  Thank you, M. Colbert."

Colbert bowed and retired.  "Thirteen millions!" exclaimed Louis, as soon
as he was alone.  "This must be a dream!"  Then he allowed his head to
sink between his hands, as if he were really asleep.  But, at the end of
a moment, he arose, and opening the window violently, he bathed his
burning brow in the keen morning air, which brought to his senses the
scent of the trees, and the perfume of the flowers.  A splendid dawn was
gilding the horizon, and the first rays of the sun bathed in flame the
young king's brow.  "This is the dawn of my reign," murmured Louis XIV.
"It's a presage sent by the Almighty."


Chapter L:
The First Day of the Royalty of Louis XIV.

In the morning, the news of the death of the cardinal was spread through
the castle, and thence speedily reached the city.  The ministers Fouquet,
Lyonne, and Letellier entered _la salle des seances_, to hold a council.
The king sent for them immediately.  "Messieurs," said he," as long as
monsieur le cardinal lived, I allowed him to govern my affairs; but now I
mean to govern them myself.  You will give me your advice when I ask it.
You may go."

The ministers looked at each other with surprise.  If they concealed a
smile it was with a great effort, for they knew that the prince, brought
up in absolute ignorance of business, by this took upon himself a burden
much too heavy for his strength.  Fouquet took leave of his colleagues
upon the stairs, saying: - "Messieurs! there will be so much the less
labor for us."

And he gayly climbed into his carriage.  The others, a little uneasy at the
turn things had taken, went back to Paris together.  Towards ten o'clock
the king repaired to the apartment of his mother, with whom he had a long
and private conversation.  After dinner, he got into his carriage, and
went straight to the Louvre.  There he received much company, and took a
degree of pleasure in remarking the hesitation of each, and the curiosity
of all.  Towards evening he ordered the doors of the Louvre to be closed,
with the exception of only one, which opened on the quay.  He placed on
duty at this point two hundred Swiss, who did not speak a word of French,
with orders to admit all who carried packages, but no others; and by no
means to allow any one to go out.  At eleven o'clock precisely, he heard
the rolling of a heavy carriage under the arch, then of another, then of
a third; after which the gate grated upon its hinges to be closed.  Soon
after, somebody scratched with his nail at the door of the cabinet.  The
king opened it himself, and beheld Colbert, whose first word was this: -
"The money is in your majesty's cellar."

The king then descended and went himself to see the barrels of specie, in
gold and silver, which, under the direction of Colbert, four men had just
rolled into a cellar of which the king had given Colbert the key in the
morning.  This review completed, Louis returned to his apartments,
followed by Colbert, who had not apparently warmed with one ray of
personal satisfaction.

"Monsieur," said the king, "what do you wish that I should give you, as a
recompense for this devotedness and probity?"

"Absolutely nothing, sire."

"How! nothing?  Not even an opportunity of serving me?"

"If your majesty were not to furnish me with that opportunity, I should
not the less serve you.  It is impossible for me not to be the best
servant of the king."

"You shall be intendant of the finances, M. Colbert."

"But there is already a superintendent, sire."

"I know that."

"Sire, the superintendent of the finances is the most powerful man in the
kingdom."

"Ah!" cried Louis, coloring, "do you think so?"

"He will crush me in a week, sire.  Your majesty gives me a _controle_
for which strength is indispensable.  An intendant under a
superintendent, - that is inferiority."

"You want support - you do not reckon upon me?"

"I had the honor of telling your majesty, that during the lifetime of M.
de Mazarin, M. Fouquet was the second man in the kingdom; now M. de
Mazarin is dead, M. Fouquet is become the first."

"Monsieur, I agree to what you told me of all things up to to-day; but to-
morrow, please to remember, I shall no longer suffer it."

"Then I shall be of no use to your majesty?"

"You are already, since you fear to compromise yourself in serving me."

"I only fear to be placed so that I cannot serve your majesty."

"What do you wish, then?"

"I wish your majesty to allow me assistance in the labors of the office
of intendant."

"That post would lose its value."

"It would gain in security."

"Choose your colleagues."

"Messieurs Breteuil, Marin, Hervart."

"To-morrow the _ordonnance_ shall appear."

"Sire, I thank you."

"Is that all you ask?"

"No, sire, one thing more."

"What is that?"

"Allow me to compose a chamber of justice."

"What would this chamber of justice do?"

"Try the farmers-general and contractors, who, during ten years, have
been robbing the state."

"Well, but what would you do with them?"

"Hang two or three, and that would make the rest disgorge."

"I cannot commence my reign with executions, Monsieur Colbert."

"On the contrary, sire, you had better, in order not to have to end with
them."

The king made no reply.  "Does your majesty consent?" said Colbert.

"I will reflect upon it, monsieur."

"It will be too late when reflection may be made."

"Why?"

"Because you have to deal with people stronger than ourselves, if they
are warned."

"Compose that chamber of justice, monsieur."

"I will, sire."

"Is that all?"

"No, sire; there is still another important affair.  What rights does
your majesty attach to this office of intendant?"

"Well - I do not know - the customary ones."

"Sire, I desire that this office be invested with the right of reading
the correspondence with England."

"Impossible, monsieur, for that correspondence is kept from the council;
monsieur le cardinal himself carried it on."

"I thought your majesty had this morning declared that there should no
longer be a council?"

"Yes, I said so."

"Let your majesty then have the goodness to read all the letters
yourself, particularly those from England; I hold strongly to this
article."

"Monsieur, you shall have that correspondence, and render me an account
of it."

"Now, sire, what shall I do with respect to the finances?"

"Everything M. Fouquet has _not_ done."

"That is all I ask of your majesty.  Thanks, sire, I depart in peace;"
and at these words he took his leave.  Louis watched his departure.
Colbert was not yet a hundred paces from the Louvre when the king
received a courier from England.  After having looked at and examined
the envelope, the king broke the seal precipitately, and found a letter
from Charles II.  The following is what the English prince wrote to his
royal brother: -

"Your majesty must be rendered very uneasy by the illness of M. le
Cardinal Mazarin; but the excess of danger can only prove of service to
you.  The cardinal is given over by his physician.  I thank you for the
gracious reply you have made to my communication touching the Princess
Henrietta, my sister, and, in a week, the princess and her court will set
out for Paris.  It is gratifying to me to acknowledge the fraternal
friendship you have evinced towards me, and to call you, more justly than
ever, my brother.  It is gratifying to me, above everything, to prove to
your majesty how much I am interested in all that may please you.  You
are wrong in having Belle-Ile-en-Mer secretly fortified.  That is wrong.
We shall never be at war against each other.  That measure does not make
me uneasy, it makes me sad.  You are spending useless millions; tell your
ministers so; and rest assured that I am well informed; render me the

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