List Of Contents | Contents of The Vicomte de Bragelonne, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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and by killing one horse after another, I shall arrive at Boulogne in
eleven hours; I know the road.  Only tell your father one thing."

"What is that?"

"That is - that the thing he knows about is placed at Planchet's house,
except a fifth, and that - "

"But, my dear D'Artagnan, rest assured that if you fly, two things will
be said of you."

"What are they, my dear friend?"

"The first, that you have been afraid."

"Ah! and who will dare to say that?"

"The king first."

"Well! but he will tell the truth, - I am afraid."

"The second, that you knew yourself guilty."

"Guilty of what?"

"Why, of the crimes they wish to impute to you."

"That is true again.  So, then, you advise me to go and get myself made a
prisoner in the Bastile?"

"M. le Comte de la Fere would advise you just as I do."

"_Pardieu!_  I know he would," said D'Artagnan thoughtfully.  "You are
right, I shall not escape.  But if they cast me into the Bastile?"

"We will get you out again," said Raoul, with a quiet, calm air.

"_Mordioux!_  You said that after a brave fashion, Raoul," said
D'Artagnan, seizing his hand; "that savors of Athos, distinctly.  Well, I
will go, then.  Do not forget my last word."

"Except a fifth," said Raoul.

"Yes, you are a fine boy! and I wish you to add one thing to that last
word."

"Speak, chevalier!"

"It is that if you cannot get me out of the Bastile, and I remain there 
Oh! that will be so, and I shall be a detestable prisoner; I, who have
been a passable man, - in that case, I give three-fifths to you, and the
fourth to your father."

"Chevalier!"

"_Mordioux!_  If you will have some masses said for me, you are welcome."

That being said, D'Artagnan took his belt from the hook, girded on his
sword, took a hat the feather of which was fresh, and held his hand out
to Raoul, who threw himself into his arms.  When in the shop, he cast a
quick glance at the shop-lads, who looked upon the scene with a pride
mingled with some inquietude; then plunging his hands into a chest of
currants, he went straight to the officer who was waiting for him at the
door.

"Those features!  Can it be you, Monsieur de Friedisch?" cried
D'Artagnan, gayly.  "Eh! eh! what, do we arrest our friends?"

"Arrest!" whispered the lads among themselves.

"Ja, it is I, Monsieur d'Artagnan!  Good-day to you!" said the Swiss, in
his mountain _patois_.

"Must I give you up my sword?  I warn you that it is long and heavy; you
had better let me wear if to the Louvre: I feel quite lost in the streets
without a sword, and you would be more at a loss that I should, with two."

"The king has given me no orders about it," replied the Swiss, "so keep
your sword."

"Well, that is very polite on the part of the king.  Let us go, at once."

Monsieur Friedisch was not a talker, and D'Artagnan had too many things
to think about to say much.  From Planchet's shop to the Louvre was not
far, - they arrived in ten minutes.  It was a dark night.  M. de
Friedisch wanted to enter by the wicket.  "No," said D'Artagnan, "you
would lose time by that; take the little staircase."

The Swiss did as D'Artagnan advised, and conducted him to the vestibule
of the king's cabinet.  When arrived there, he bowed to his prisoner,
and, without saying anything, returned to his post.  D'Artagnan had not
had time to ask why his sword was not taken from him, when the door of
the cabinet opened, and a _valet de chambre_ called, "M. d'Artagnan!"
The musketeer assumed his parade carriage, and entered, with his large
eyes wide open, his brow calm, his moustache stiff.  The king was seated
at a table writing.  He did not disturb himself when the step of the
musketeer resounded on the floor; he did not even turn his head.
D'Artagnan advanced as far as the middle of the room, and seeing that the
king paid no attention to him, and suspecting, besides, that this was
nothing but affectation, a sort of tormenting preamble to the explanation
that was preparing, he turned his back on the prince, and began to
examine the frescoes on the cornices, and the cracks in the ceiling.
This maneuver was accompanied by a little tacit monologue.  "Ah! you want
to humble me, do you? - you, whom I have seen so young - you, whom I have
saved as I would my own child, - you, whom I have served as I would a God
- that is to say, for nothing.  Wait awhile! wait awhile! you shall see
what a man can do who has suffered the air of the fire of the Huguenots,
under the beard of monsieur le cardinal - the true cardinal."  At this
moment Louis turned round.

"Ah! are you there, Monsieur d'Artagnan?" said he.

D'Artagnan saw the movement and imitated it.  "Yes, sire," said he.

"Very well; have the goodness to wait till I have cast this up."

D'Artagnan made no reply; he only bowed.  "That is polite enough,"
thought he; "I have nothing to say."

Louis made a violent dash with his pen, and threw it angrily away.

"Ah! go on, work yourself up!" thought the musketeer; "you will put me at
my ease.  You shall find I did not empty the bag, the other day, at
Blois."

Louis rose from his seat, passed his hand over his brow, then, stopping
opposite to D'Artagnan, he looked at him with an air at once imperious
and kind,  "What the devil does he want with me?  I wish he would begin!"
thought the musketeer.

"Monsieur," said the king, "you know, without doubt, that monsieur le
cardinal is dead?"

"I suspected so, sire."

"You know that, consequently, I am master in my own kingdom?"

"That is not a thing that dates from the death of monsieur le cardinal,
sire; a man is always master in his own house, when he wishes to be so."

"Yes; but do you not remember all you said to me at Blois?"

"Now we come to it," thought D'Artagnan; "I was not deceived.  Well, so
much the better, it is a sign that my scent is tolerably keen yet."

"You do not answer me," said Louis.

"Sire, I think I recollect."

"You only think?"

"It is so long ago."

"If you do not remember, I do.  You said to me, - listen with attention."

"Ah! I shall listen with all my ears, sire; for it is very likely the
conversation will turn in a fashion very interesting to me."

Louis once more looked at the musketeer.  The latter smoothed the feather
of his hat, then his mustache, and waited bravely.  Louis XIV. continued:
"You quitted my service, monsieur, after having told me the whole truth?"

"Yes, sire."

"That is, after having declared to me all you thought to be true, with
regard to my mode of thinking and acting.  That is always a merit.  You
began by telling me that you had served my family thirty years, and were
fatigued."

"I said so; yes, sire."

"And you afterwards admitted that that fatigue was a pretext, and that
discontent was the real cause."

"I was discontented, in fact; but that discontent has never betrayed
itself, that I know of, and if, like a man of heart, I have spoken out
before your majesty, I have not even thought of the matter before anybody
else."

"Do not excuse yourself, D'Artagnan, but continue to listen to me.  When
making me the reproach that you were discontented, you received in reply
a promise: - 'Wait.' - Is that not true?"

"Yes, sire, as true as what I told you."

"You answered me, 'Hereafter!  No, now, immediately.'  Do not excuse
yourself, I tell you.  It was natural, but you had no charity for your
poor prince, Monsieur d'Artagnan."

"Sire! - charity for a king, on the part of a poor soldier!"

"You understand me very well; you knew that I stood in need of it; you
knew very well that I was not master; you knew very well that my hope was
in the future.  Now, you answered me when I spoke of the future, 'My
discharge, - and that directly.'"

"That is true," murmured D'Artagnan, biting his mustache.

"You did not flatter me when I was in distress," added Louis.

"But," said D'Artagnan, raising his head nobly, "if I did not flatter
your majesty when poor, neither did I betray you.  I have shed my blood
for nothing; I have watched like a dog at a door, knowing full well that
neither bread nor bone would be thrown to me.  I, although poor likewise,
asked nothing of your majesty but the discharge you speak of."

"I know you are a brave man, but I was a young man, and you ought to have
had some indulgence for me.  What had you to reproach the king with? 
that he left King Charles II. without assistance? - let us say further 
that he did not marry Mademoiselle de Mancini?"  When saying these words,
the king fixed upon the musketeer a searching look.

"Ah! ah!" thought the latter, "he is doing far more than remembering, he
divines.  The devil!"

"Your sentence," continued Louis, "fell upon the king and fell upon the
man.  But, Monsieur d'Artagnan, that weakness, for you considered it a
weakness?" - D'Artagnan made no reply - "you reproached me also with
regard to monsieur, the defunct cardinal.  Now, monsieur le cardinal, did
he not bring me up, did he not support me? - elevating himself and
supporting himself at the same time, I admit; but the benefit was
discharged.  As an ingrate or an egotist, would you, then, have better
loved or served me?"

"Sire!"

"We will say no more about it, monsieur; it would only create in you too
many regrets, and me too much pain."

D'Artagnan was not convinced.  The young king, in adopting a tone of
_hauteur_ with him, did not forward his purpose.

"You have since reflected?" resumed Louis.

"Upon what, sire?" asked D'Artagnan, politely.

"Why, upon all that I have said to you, monsieur."

"Yes, sire, no doubt - "

"And you have only waited for an opportunity of retracting your words?"

"Sire!"

"You hesitate, it seems."

"I do not understand what your majesty did me the honor to say to me."

Louis's brow became cloudy.

"Have the goodness to excuse me, sire; my understanding is particularly
thick; things do not penetrate it without difficulty; but it is true,
once they get in, they remain there."

"Yes, yes; you appear to have a memory."

"Almost as good a one as your majesty's."

"Then give me quickly one solution.  My time is valuable.  What have you

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