List Of Contents | Contents of The Vicomte de Bragelonne, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

"I had that misfortune," said D'Artagnan, bowing like a man who is being

"It was you, then, in short, who caused the two condemned persons to be

"Instead of being burnt, yes, monsieur, and I am proud of it.  I saved
the poor devils from horrible tortures.  Understand, my dear Monsieur de
Gourville, that they wanted to burn them alive.  It exceeds imagination!"

"Go, my dear Monsieur d'Artagnan, go," said Gourville, anxious to spare
Fouquet the sight of the man who had just caused him such profound grief.

"No," said Fouquet, who had heard all from the door of the ante-chamber;
"not so; on the contrary, Monsieur d'Artagnan, come in."

D'Artagnan wiped from the hilt of his sword a last bloody trace, which
had escaped his notice, and returned.  He then found himself face to face
with these three men, whose countenances wore very different
expressions.  With the abbe it was anger, with Gourville stupor, with
Fouquet it was dejection.

"I beg your pardon, monsieur le ministre," said D'Artagnan, "but my time
is short; I have to go to the office of the intendant, to have an
explanation with Monsieur Colbert, and to receive my quarter's pension."

"But, monsieur," said Fouquet, "there is money here."  D'Artagnan looked
at the superintendent with astonishment.  "You have been answered
inconsiderately, monsieur, I know, because I heard it," said the
minister; "a man of your merit ought to be known by everybody."
D'Artagnan bowed.  "Have you an order?" added Fouquet.

"Yes, monsieur."

"Give it me, I will pay you myself; come with me."  He made a sign to
Gourville and the abbe, who remained in the chamber where they were.  He
led D'Artagnan into his cabinet.  As soon as the door was shut, - "how
much is due to you, monsieur?"

"Why, something like five thousand livres, monseigneur."

"For arrears of pay?"

"For a quarter's pay."

"A quarter consisting of five thousand livres!" said Fouquet, fixing upon
the musketeer a searching look.  "Does the king, then, give you twenty
thousand livres a year?"

"Yes, monseigneur, twenty thousand livres a year.  Do you think it is too

"I?" cried Fouquet, and he smiled bitterly.  "If I had any knowledge of
mankind, if I were - instead of being a frivolous, inconsequent, and vain
spirit - of a prudent and reflective spirit; if, in a word, I had, as
certain persons have known how, regulated my life, you would not receive
twenty thousand livres a year, but a hundred thousand, and you would
belong not to the king but to me."

D'Artagnan colored slightly.  There is sometimes in the manner in which a
eulogium is given, in the voice, in the affectionate tone, a poison so
sweet, that the strongest mind is intoxicated by it.  The superintendent
terminated his speech by opening a drawer, and taking from it four
_rouleaux_, which he placed before D'Artagnan.  The Gascon opened one.
"Gold!" said he.

"It will be less burdensome, monsieur."

"But, then, monsieur, these make twenty thousand livres."

"No doubt they do."

"But only five are due to me."

"I wish to spare you the trouble of coming four times to my office."

"You overwhelm me, monsieur."

"I do only what I ought to do, monsieur le chevalier; and I hope you will
not bear me any malice on account of the rude reception my brother gave
you.  He is of a sour, capricious disposition."

"Monsieur," said D'Artagnan, "believe me, nothing would grieve me more
than an excuse from you."

"Therefore I will make no more, and will content myself with asking you a

"Oh, monsieur."

Fouquet drew from his finger a ring worth about three thousand pistoles.
"Monsieur," said he, "this stone was given me by a friend of my
childhood, by a man to whom you have rendered a great service."

"A service - I?" said the musketeer; "I have rendered a service to one of
your friends?"

"You cannot have forgotten it, monsieur, for it dates this very day."

"And that friend's name was - "

"M. d'Eymeris."

"One of the condemned?"

"Yes, one of the victims.  Well!  Monsieur d'Artagnan, in return for the
service you have rendered him, I beg you to accept this diamond.  Do so
for my sake."

"Monsieur! you - "

"Accept it, I say.  To-day is with me a day of mourning; hereafter you
will, perhaps, learn why; to-day I have lost one friend; well, I will try
to get another."

"But, Monsieur Fouquet - "

"Adieu!  Monsieur d'Artagnan, adieu!"  cried Fouquet, with much emotion;
"or rather, _au revoir_."  And the minister quitted the cabinet, leaving
in the hands of the musketeer the ring and the twenty thousand livres.

"Oh!" said D'Artagnan, after a moment's dark reflection.  "How on earth
am I to understand what this means?  _Mordioux!_  I can understand this
much, only: he is a gallant man!  I will go and explain matters to M.
Colbert."  And he went out.

Chapter LXIV:
Of the Notable Difference D'Artagnan finds between Monsieur the Intendant
and Monsieur the Superintendent.

M. Colbert resided in the Rue Neuve des Petits-Champs, in a house which
had belonged to Beautru.  D'Artagnan's legs cleared the distance in a
short quarter of an hour.  When he arrived at the residence of the new
favorite, the court was full of archers and police, who came to
congratulate him, or to excuse themselves, according to whether he should
choose to praise or blame.  The sentiment of flattery is instinctive with
people of abject condition; they have the sense of it, as the wild animal
has that of hearing and smell.  These people, or their leader, understood
that there was a pleasure to offer to M. Colbert, in rendering him an
account of the fashion in which his name had been pronounced during the
rash enterprise of the morning.  D'Artagnan made his appearance just as
the chief of the watch was giving his report.  He stood close to the
door, behind the archers.  That officer took Colbert on one side, in
spite of his resistance and the contradiction of his bushy eyebrows.  "In
case," said he, "you really desired, monsieur, that the people should do
justice on the two traitors, it would have been wise to warn us of it;
for, indeed, monsieur, in spite of our regret at displeasing you, or
thwarting your views, we had our orders to execute."

"Triple fool!" replied Colbert, furiously shaking his hair, thick and
black as a mane; "what are you telling me?  What! that _I_ could have had
an idea of a riot!  Are you mad or drunk?"

"But, monsieur, they cried '_Vive Colbert!_'" replied the trembling watch.

"A handful of conspirators - "

"No, no; a mass of people."

"Ah! indeed," said Colbert, expanding.  "A mass of people cried '_Vive
Colbert!_'  Are you certain of what you say, monsieur?"

"We had nothing to do but open our ears, or rather to close them, so
terrible were the cries."

"And this was from the people, the real people?"

"Certainly, monsieur; only these real people beat us."

"Oh! very well," continued Colbert, thoughtfully.  "Then you suppose it
was the people alone who wished to burn the condemned?"

"Oh! yes, monsieur."

"That is quite another thing.  You strongly resisted, then?"

"We had three of our men crushed to death, monsieur!"

"But you killed nobody yourselves?"

"Monsieur, a few of the rioters were left upon the square, and one among
them who was not a common man."

"Who was he?"

"A certain Menneville, upon whom the police have a long time had an eye."

"Menneville!" cried Colbert, "what, he who killed Rue de la Huchette, a
worthy man who wanted a fat fowl?"

"Yes, monsieur; the same."

"And did this Menneville also cry, '_Vive Colbert_'?"

"Louder than all the rest; like a madman."

Colbert's brow grew dark and wrinkled.  A kind of ambitious glory which
had lighted his face was extinguished, like the light of glow-worms we
crush beneath the grass.  "Then you say," resumed the deceived intendant,
"that the initiative came from the people?  Menneville was my enemy; I
would have had him hung, and he knew it well.  Menneville belonged to the
Abbe Fouquet - the affair originated with Fouquet; does not everybody
know that the condemned were his friends from childhood?"

"That is true," thought D'Artagnan, "and thus are all my doubts cleared
up.  I repeat it, Monsieur Fouquet may be called what they please, but he
is a very gentlemanly man."

"And," continued Colbert, "are you quite sure Menneville is dead?"

D'Artagnan thought the time was come for him to make his appearance.
"Perfectly, monsieur;" replied he, advancing suddenly.

"Oh! is that you, monsieur?" said Colbert.

"In person," replied the musketeer with his deliberate tone; "it appears
that you had in Menneville a pretty enemy."

"It was not I, monsieur, who had an enemy," replied Colbert; "it was the

"Double brute!" thought D'Artagnan, "to think to play the great man and
the hypocrite with me.  Well," continued he to Colbert, "I am very happy
to have rendered so good a service to the king; will you take upon you to
tell his majesty, monsieur l'intendant?"

"What commission is this you give me, and what do you charge me to tell
his majesty, monsieur?  Be precise, if you please," said Colbert, in a
sharp voice, tuned beforehand to hostility.

"I give you no commission," replied D'Artagnan, with that calmness which
never abandons the banterer; "I thought it would be easy for you to
announce to his majesty that it was I who, being there by chance, did
justice upon Menneville and restored order to things."

Colbert opened his eyes and interrogated the chief of the watch with a
look - "Ah! it is very true," said the latter, "that this gentleman saved

"Why did you not tell me, monsieur, that you came to relate me this?"
said Colbert with envy; "everything is explained, and more favorably for
you than for anybody else."

"You are in error, monsieur l'intendant, I did not at all come for the
purpose of relating that to you."

"It is an exploit, nevertheless."

"Oh!" said the musketeer carelessly, "constant habit blunts the mind."

"To what do I owe the honor of your visit, then?"

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: