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The Three Musketeers

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13. 
MONSIEUR BONACIEUX


There was in all this, as may have been observed, one personage concerned, of whom, notwithstanding his precarious position, we have appeared to take but very little notice. This personage was M. Bonacieux, the respectable martyr of the political and amorous intrigues which entangled themselves so nicely together at this gallant and chivalric period.

Fortunately, the reader may remember, or may not remember—fortunately we have promised not to lose sight of him.

The officers who arrested him conducted him straight to the Bastille, where he passed trembling before a party of soldiers who were loading their muskets. Thence, introduced into a half-subterranean gallery, he became, on the part of those who had brought him, the object of the grossest insults and the harshest treatment. The officers perceived that they had not to deal with a gentleman, and they treated him like a very peasant.

At the end of half an hour or thereabouts, a clerk came to put an end to his tortures, but not to his anxiety, by giving the order to conduct M. Bonacieux to the Chamber of Examination. Ordinarily, prisoners were interrogated in their cells; but they did not do so with M. Bonacieux.

Two guards attended the mercer who made him traverse a court and enter a corridor in which were three sentinels, opened a door and pushed him unceremoniously into a low room, where the only furniture was a table, a chair, and a commissary. The commissary was seated in the chair, and was writing at the table.

The two guards led the prisoner toward the table, and upon a sign from the commissary drew back so far as to be unable to hear anything.

The commissary, who had till this time held his head down over his papers, looked up to see what sort of person he had to do with. This commissary was a man of very repulsive mien, with a pointed nose, with yellow and salient cheek bones, with eyes small but keen and penetrating, and an expression of countenance resembling at once the polecat and the fox. His head, supported by a long and flexible neck, issued from his large black robe, balancing itself with a motion very much like that of the tortoise thrusting his head out of his shell. He began by asking M. Bonacieux his name, age, condition, and abode.

The accused replied that his name was Jacques Michel Bonacieux, that he was fifty-one years old, a retired mercer, and lived Rue des Fossoyeurs, No. 14.

The commissary then, instead of continuing to interrogate him, made him a long speech upon the danger there is for an obscure citizen to meddle with public matters. He complicated this exordium by an exposition in which he painted the power and the deeds of the cardinal, that incomparable minister, that conqueror of past ministers, that example for ministers to come—deeds and power which none could thwart with impunity.

After this second part of his discourse, fixing his hawk’s eye upon poor Bonacieux, he bade him reflect upon the gravity of his situation.

The reflections of the mercer were already made; he cursed the instant when M. Laporte formed the idea of marrying him to his goddaughter, and particularly the moment when that goddaughter had been received as Lady of the Linen to her Majesty.

At bottom the character of M. Bonacieux was one of profound selfishness mixed with sordid avarice, the whole seasoned with extreme cowardice. The love with which his young wife had inspired him was a secondary sentiment, and was not strong enough to contend with the primitive feelings we have just enumerated. Bonacieux indeed reflected on what had just been said to him.

“But, Monsieur Commissary,” said he, calmly, “believe that I know and appreciate, more than anybody, the merit of the incomparable eminence by whom we have the honor to be governed.”

“Indeed?” asked the commissary, with an air of doubt. “If that is really so, how came you in the Bastille?”

“How I came there, or rather why I am there,” replied Bonacieux, “that is entirely impossible for me to tell you, because I don’t know myself; but to a certainty it is not for having, knowingly at least, disobliged Monsieur the Cardinal.”

“You must, nevertheless, have committed a crime, since you are here and are accused of high treason.”

“Of high treason!” cried Bonacieux, terrified; “of high treason! How is it possible for a poor mercer, who detests Huguenots and who abhors Spaniards, to be accused of high treason? Consider, monsieur, the thing is absolutely impossible.”

“Monsieur Bonacieux,” said the commissary, looking at the accused as if his little eyes had the faculty of reading to the very depths of hearts, “you have a wife?”

“Yes, monsieur,” replied the mercer, in a tremble, feeling that it was at this point affairs were likely to become perplexing; “that is to say, I had one.”

“What, you ‘had one’? What have you done with her, then, if you have her no longer?”

“They have abducted her, monsieur.”

“They have abducted her? Ah!”

Bonacieux inferred from this “Ah” that the affair grew more and more intricate.

“They have abducted her,” added the commissary; “and do you know the man who has committed this deed?”

“I think I know him.”

“Who is he?”

“Remember that I affirm nothing, Monsieur the Commissary, and that I only suspect.”

“Whom do you suspect? Come, answer freely.”

M Bonacieux was in the greatest perplexity possible. Had he better deny everything or tell everything? By denying all, it might be suspected that he must know too much to avow; by confessing all he might prove his good will. He decided, then, to tell all.

“I suspect,” said he, “a tall, dark man, of lofty carriage, who has the air of a great lord. He has followed us several times, as I think, when I have waited for my wife at the wicket of the Louvre to escort her home.”

The commissary now appeared to experience a little uneasiness.

“And his name?” said he.

“Oh, as to his name, I know nothing about it; but if I were ever to meet him, I should recognize him in an instant, I will answer for it, were he among a thousand persons.”

The face of the commissary grew still darker.

“You should recognize him among a thousand, say you?” continued he.

“That is to say,” cried Bonacieux, who saw he had taken a false step, “that is to say—”

“You have answered that you should recognize him,” said the commissary. “That is all very well, and enough for today; before we proceed further, someone must be informed that you know the ravisher of your wife.”

“But I have not told you that I know him!” cried Bonacieux, in despair. “I told you, on the contrary—”

“Take away the prisoner,” said the commissary to the two guards.

“Where must we place him?” demanded the chief.

“In a dungeon.”

“Which?”

“Good Lord! In the first one handy, provided it is safe,” said the commissary, with an indifference which penetrated poor Bonacieux with horror.

“Alas, alas!” said he to himself, “misfortune is over my head; my wife must have committed some frightful crime. They believe me her accomplice, and will punish me with her. She must have spoken; she must have confessed everything—a woman is so weak! A dungeon! The first he comes to! That’s it! A night is soon passed; and tomorrow to the wheel, to the gallows! Oh, my God, my God, have pity on me!”

Without listening the least in the world to the lamentations of M. Bonacieux—lamentations to which, besides, they must have been pretty well accustomed—the two guards took the prisoner each by an arm, and led him away, while the commissary wrote a letter in haste and dispatched it by an officer in waiting.

Bonacieux could not close his eyes; not because his dungeon was so very disagreeable, but because his uneasiness was so great. He sat all night on his stool, starting at the least noise; and when the first rays of the sun penetrated into his chamber, the dawn itself appeared to him to have taken funereal tints.

All at once he heard his bolts drawn, and made a terrified bound. He believed they were come to conduct him to the scaffold; so that when he saw merely and simply, instead of the executioner he expected, only his commissary of the preceding evening, attended by his clerk, he was ready to embrace them both.

“Your affair has become more complicated since yesterday evening, my good man, and I advise you to tell the whole truth; for your repentance alone can remove the anger of the cardinal.”

“Why, I am ready to tell everything,” cried Bonacieux, “at least, all that I know. Interrogate me, I entreat you!”

“Where is your wife, in the first place?”

“Why, did not I tell you she had been stolen from me?”

“Yes, but yesterday at five o’clock in the afternoon, thanks to you, she escaped.”

“My wife escaped!” cried Bonacieux. “Oh, unfortunate creature! Monsieur, if she has escaped, it is not my fault, I swear.”

“What business had you, then, to go into the chamber of Monsieur d’Artagnan, your neighbor, with whom you had a long conference during the day?”

“Ah, yes, Monsieur Commissary; yes, that is true, and I confess that I was in the wrong. I did go to Monsieur d’Artagnan’s.”

“What was the aim of that visit?”

“To beg him to assist me in finding my wife. I believed I had a right to endeavor to find her. I was deceived, as it appears, and I ask your pardon.”

“And what did Monsieur d’Artagnan reply?”

“Monsieur d’Artagnan promised me his assistance; but I soon found out that he was betraying me.”

“You impose upon justice. Monsieur d’Artagnan made a compact with you; and in virtue of that compact put to flight the police who had arrested your wife, and has placed her beyond reach.”

“M. d’Artagnan has abducted my wife! Come now, what are you telling me?”

“Fortunately, Monsieur d’Artagnan is in our hands, and you shall be confronted with him.”

“By my faith, I ask no better,” cried Bonacieux; “I shall not be sorry to see the face of an acquaintance.”

“Bring in the Monsieur d’Artagnan,” said the commissary to the guards. The two guards led in Athos.

“Monsieur d’Artagnan,” said the commissary, addressing Athos, “declare all that passed yesterday between you and Monsieur.”

“But,” cried Bonacieux, “this is not Monsieur d’Artagnan whom you show me.”

“What! Not Monsieur d’Artagnan?” exclaimed the commissary.

“Not the least in the world,” replied Bonacieux.

“What is this gentleman’s name?” asked the commissary.

“I cannot tell you; I don’t know him.”

“How! You don’t know him?”

“No.”

“Did you never see him?”

“Yes, I have seen him, but I don’t know what he calls himself.”

“Your name?” replied the commissary.

“Athos,” replied the Musketeer.

“But that is not a man’s name; that is the name of a mountain,” cried the poor questioner, who began to lose his head.

“That is my name,” said Athos, quietly.

“But you said that your name was d’Artagnan.”

“Who, I?”

“Yes, you.”

“Somebody said to me, ‘You are Monsieur d’Artagnan?’ I answered, ‘You think so?’ My guards exclaimed that they were sure of it. I did not wish to contradict them; besides, I might be deceived.”

“Monsieur, you insult the majesty of justice.”

“Not at all,” said Athos, calmly.

“You are Monsieur d’Artagnan.”

“You see, monsieur, that you say it again.”

“But I tell you, Monsieur Commissary,” cried Bonacieux, in his turn, “there is not the least doubt about the matter. Monsieur d’Artagnan is my tenant, although he does not pay me my rent—and even better on that account ought I to know him. Monsieur d’Artagnan is a young man, scarcely nineteen or twenty, and this gentleman must be thirty at least. Monsieur d’Artagnan is in Monsieur Dessessart’s Guards, and this gentleman is in the company of Monsieur de Tréville’s Musketeers. Look at his uniform, Monsieur Commissary, look at his uniform!”

“That’s true,” murmured the commissary; “pardieu, that’s true.”

At this moment the door was opened quickly, and a messenger, introduced by one of the gatekeepers of the Bastille, gave a letter to the commissary.

“Oh, unhappy woman!” cried the commissary.

“How? What do you say? Of whom do you speak? It is not of my wife, I hope!”

“On the contrary, it is of her. Yours is a pretty business.”

“But,” said the agitated mercer, “do me the pleasure, monsieur, to tell me how my own proper affair can become worse by anything my wife does while I am in prison?”

“Because that which she does is part of a plan concerted between you—of an infernal plan.”

“I swear to you, Monsieur Commissary, that you are in the profoundest error, that I know nothing in the world about what my wife had to do, that I am entirely a stranger to what she has done; and that if she has committed any follies, I renounce her, I abjure her, I curse her!”

“Bah!” said Athos to the commissary, “if you have no more need of me, send me somewhere. Your Monsieur Bonacieux is very tiresome.”

The commissary designated by the same gesture Athos and Bonacieux, “Let them be guarded more closely than ever.”

“And yet,” said Athos, with his habitual calmness, “if it be Monsieur d’Artagnan who is concerned in this matter, I do not perceive how I can take his place.”

“Do as I bade you,” cried the commissary, “and preserve absolute secrecy. You understand!”

Athos shrugged his shoulders, and followed his guards silently, while M. Bonacieux uttered lamentations enough to break the heart of a tiger.

They locked the mercer in the same dungeon where he had passed the night, and left him to himself during the day. Bonacieux wept all day, like a true mercer, not being at all a military man, as he himself informed us. In the evening, about nine o’clock, at the moment he had made up his mind to go to bed, he heard steps in his corridor. These steps drew near to his dungeon, the door was thrown open, and the guards appeared.

“Follow me,” said an officer, who came up behind the guards.

“Follow you!” cried Bonacieux, “follow you at this hour! Where, my God?”

“Where we have orders to lead you.”

“But that is not an answer.”

“It is, nevertheless, the only one we can give.”

“Ah, my God, my God!” murmured the poor mercer, “now, indeed, I am lost!” And he followed the guards who came for him, mechanically and without resistance.

He passed along the same corridor as before, crossed one court, then a second side of a building; at length, at the gate of the entrance court he found a carriage surrounded by four guards on horseback. They made him enter this carriage, the officer placed himself by his side, the door was locked, and they were left in a rolling prison. The carriage was put in motion as slowly as a funeral car. Through the closely fastened windows the prisoner could perceive the houses and the pavement, that was all; but, true Parisian as he was, Bonacieux could recognize every street by the milestones, the signs, and the lamps. At the moment of arriving at St. Paul—the spot where such as were condemned at the Bastille were executed—he was near fainting and crossed himself twice. He thought the carriage was about to stop there. The carriage, however, passed on.

Farther on, a still greater terror seized him on passing by the cemetery of St. Jean, where state criminals were buried. One thing, however, reassured him; he remembered that before they were buried their heads were generally cut off, and he felt that his head was still on his shoulders. But when he saw the carriage take the way to La Grêve, when he perceived the pointed roof of the Hôtel de Ville, and the carriage passed under the arcade, he believed it was over with him. He wished to confess to the officer, and upon his refusal, uttered such pitiable cries that the officer told him that if he continued to deafen him thus, he should put a gag in his mouth.

This measure somewhat reassured Bonacieux. If they meant to execute him at La Grêve, it could scarcely be worth while to gag him, as they had nearly reached the place of execution. Indeed, the carriage crossed the fatal spot without stopping. There remained, then, no other place to fear but the Traitor’s Cross; the carriage was taking the direct road to it.

This time there was no longer any doubt; it was at the Traitor’s Cross that lesser criminals were executed. Bonacieux had flattered himself in believing himself worthy of St. Paul or of the Place de Grêve; it was at the Traitor’s Cross that his journey and his destiny were about to end! He could not yet see that dreadful cross, but he felt somehow as if it were coming to meet him. When he was within twenty paces of it, he heard a noise of people and the carriage stopped. This was more than poor Bonacieux could endure, depressed as he was by the successive emotions which he had experienced; he uttered a feeble groan which night have been taken for the last sigh of a dying man, and fainted.


14. 
THE MAN OF MEUNG


The crowd was caused, not by the expectation of a man to be hanged, but by the contemplation of a man who was hanged.

The carriage, which had been stopped for a minute, resumed its way, passed through the crowd, threaded the Rue St. Honoré, turned into the Rue des Bons Enfants, and stopped before a low door.

The door opened; two guards received Bonacieux in their arms from the officer who supported him. They carried him through an alley, up a flight of stairs, and deposited him in an antechamber.

All these movements had been effected mechanically, as far as he was concerned. He had walked as one walks in a dream; he had a glimpse of objects as through a fog. His ears had perceived sounds without comprehending them; he might have been executed at that moment without his making a single gesture in his own defense or uttering a cry to implore mercy.

He remained on the bench, with his back leaning against the wall and his hands hanging down, exactly on the spot where the guards placed him.

On looking around him, however, as he could perceive no threatening object, as nothing indicated that he ran any real danger, as the bench was comfortably covered with a well-stuffed cushion, as the wall was ornamented with a beautiful Cordova leather, and as large red damask curtains, fastened back by gold clasps, floated before the window, he perceived by degrees that his fear was exaggerated, and he began to turn his head to the right and the left, upward and downward.

At this movement, which nobody opposed, he resumed a little courage, and ventured to draw up one leg and then the other. At length, with the help of his two hands he lifted himself from the bench, and found himself on his feet.

At this moment an officer with a pleasant face opened a door, continued to exchange some words with a person in the next chamber and then came up to the prisoner. “Is your name Bonacieux?” said he.

“Yes, Monsieur Officer,” stammered the mercer, more dead than alive, “at your service.”

“Come in,” said the officer.

And he moved out of the way to let the mercer pass. The latter obeyed without reply, and entered the chamber, where he appeared to be expected.

It was a large cabinet, close and stifling, with the walls furnished with arms offensive and defensive, and in which there was already a fire, although it was scarcely the end of the month of September. A square table, covered with books and papers, upon which was unrolled an immense plan of the city of La Rochelle, occupied the center of the room.

Standing before the chimney was a man of middle height, of a haughty, proud mien; with piercing eyes, a large brow, and a thin face, which was made still longer by a royal (or imperial, as it is now called), surmounted by a pair of mustaches. Although this man was scarcely thirty-six or thirty-seven years of age, hair, mustaches, and royal, all began to be gray. This man, except a sword, had all the appearance of a soldier; and his buff boots, still slightly covered with dust, indicated that he had been on horseback in the course of the day.

This man was Armand Jean Duplessis, Cardinal de Richelieu; not such as he is now represented—broken down like an old man, suffering like a martyr, his body bent, his voice failing, buried in a large armchair as in an anticipated tomb; no longer living but by the strength of his genius, and no longer maintaining the struggle with Europe but by the eternal application of his thoughts—but such as he really was at this period; that is to say, an active and gallant cavalier, already weak of body, but sustained by that moral power which made of him one of the most extraordinary men that ever lived, preparing, after having supported the Duc de Nevers in his duchy of Mantua, after having taken Nîmes, Castres, and Uzes, to drive the English from the Isle of Ré and lay siege to La Rochelle.

At first sight, nothing denoted the cardinal; and it was impossible for those who did not know his face to guess in whose presence they were.

The poor mercer remained standing at the door, while the eyes of the personage we have just described were fixed upon him, and appeared to wish to penetrate even into the depths of the past.

“Is this that Bonacieux?” asked he, after a moment of silence.

“Yes, monseigneur,” replied the officer.

“That’s well. Give me those papers, and leave us.”

The officer took from the table the papers pointed out, gave them to him who asked for them, bowed to the ground, and retired.

Bonacieux recognized in these papers his interrogatories of the Bastille. From time to time the man by the chimney raised his eyes from the writings, and plunged them like poniards into the heart of the poor mercer.

At the end of ten minutes of reading and ten seconds of examination, the cardinal was satisfied.

“That head has never conspired,” murmured he, “but it matters not; we will see.”

“You are accused of high treason,” said the cardinal, slowly.

“So I have been told already, monseigneur,” cried Bonacieux, giving his interrogator the title he had heard the officer give him, “but I swear to you that I know nothing about it.”

The cardinal repressed a smile.

“You have conspired with your wife, with Madame de Chevreuse, and with my Lord Duke of Buckingham.”

“Indeed, monseigneur,” responded the mercer, “I have heard her pronounce all those names.”

“And on what occasion?”

“She said that the Cardinal de Richelieu had drawn the Duke of Buckingham to Paris to ruin him and to ruin the queen.”

“She said that?” cried the cardinal, with violence.

“Yes, monseigneur, but I told her she was wrong to talk about such things; and that his Eminence was incapable—”

“Hold your tongue! You are stupid,” replied the cardinal.

“That’s exactly what my wife said, monseigneur.”

“Do you know who carried off your wife?”

“No, monseigneur.”

“You have suspicions, nevertheless?”

“Yes, monseigneur; but these suspicions appeared to be disagreeable to Monsieur the Commissary, and I no longer have them.”

“Your wife has escaped. Did you know that?”

“No, monseigneur. I learned it since I have been in prison, and that from the conversation of Monsieur the Commissary—an amiable man.”

The cardinal repressed another smile.

“Then you are ignorant of what has become of your wife since her flight.”

“Absolutely, monseigneur; but she has most likely returned to the Louvre.”

“At one o’clock this morning she had not returned.”

“My God! What can have become of her, then?”

“We shall know, be assured. Nothing is concealed from the cardinal; the cardinal knows everything.”

“In that case, monseigneur, do you believe the cardinal will be so kind as to tell me what has become of my wife?”

“Perhaps he may; but you must, in the first place, reveal to the cardinal all you know of your wife’s relations with Madame de Chevreuse.”

“But, monseigneur, I know nothing about them; I have never seen her.”

“When you went to fetch your wife from the Louvre, did you always return directly home?”

“Scarcely ever; she had business to transact with linen drapers, to whose houses I conducted her.”

“And how many were there of these linen drapers?”

“Two, monseigneur.”

“And where did they live?”

“One in Rue de Vaugirard, the other Rue de la Harpe.”

“Did you go into these houses with her?”

“Never, monseigneur; I waited at the door.”

“And what excuse did she give you for entering all alone?”

“She gave me none; she told me to wait, and I waited.”

“You are a very complacent husband, my dear Monsieur Bonacieux,” said the cardinal.

“He calls me his dear Monsieur,” said the mercer to himself. “Peste! Matters are going all right.”

“Should you know those doors again?”

“Yes.”

“Do you know the numbers?”

“Yes.”

“What are they?”

“No. 25 in the Rue de Vaugirard; 75 in the Rue de la Harpe.”

“That’s well,” said the cardinal.

At these words he took up a silver bell, and rang it; the officer entered.

“Go,” said he, in a subdued voice, “and find Rochefort. Tell him to come to me immediately, if he has returned.”

“The count is here,” said the officer, “and requests to speak with your Eminence instantly.”

“Let him come in, then!” said the cardinal, quickly.

The officer sprang out of the apartment with that alacrity which all the servants of the cardinal displayed in obeying him.

“To your Eminence!” murmured Bonacieux, rolling his eyes round in astonishment.

Five seconds has scarcely elapsed after the disappearance of the officer, when the door opened, and a new personage entered.

“It is he!” cried Bonacieux.

“He! What he?” asked the cardinal.

“The man who abducted my wife.”

The cardinal rang a second time. The officer reappeared.

“Place this man in the care of his guards again, and let him wait till I send for him.”

“No, monseigneur, no, it is not he!” cried Bonacieux; “no, I was deceived. This is quite another man, and does not resemble him at all. Monsieur is, I am sure, an honest man.”

“Take away that fool!” said the cardinal.

The officer took Bonacieux by the arm, and led him into the antechamber, where he found his two guards.

The newly introduced personage followed Bonacieux impatiently with his eyes till he had gone out; and the moment the door closed, “They have seen each other;” said he, approaching the cardinal eagerly.

“Who?” asked his Eminence.

“He and she.”

“The queen and the duke?” cried Richelieu.

“Yes.”

“Where?”

“At the Louvre.”

“Are you sure of it?”

“Perfectly sure.”

“Who told you of it?”

“Madame de Lannoy, who is devoted to your Eminence, as you know.”

“Why did she not let me know sooner?”

“Whether by chance or mistrust, the queen made Madame de Surgis sleep in her chamber, and detained her all day.”

“Well, we are beaten! Now let us try to take our revenge.”

“I will assist you with all my heart, monseigneur; be assured of that.”

“How did it come about?”

“At half past twelve the queen was with her women—”

“Where?”

“In her bedchamber—”

“Go on.”

“When someone came and brought her a handkerchief from her laundress.”

“And then?”

“The queen immediately exhibited strong emotion; and despite the rouge with which her face was covered evidently turned pale—”

“And then, and then?”

“She then arose, and with altered voice, ‘Ladies,’ said she, ‘wait for me ten minutes, I shall soon return.’ She then opened the door of her alcove, and went out.”

“Why did not Madame de Lannoy come and inform you instantly?”

“Nothing was certain; besides, her Majesty had said, ‘Ladies, wait for me,’ and she did not dare to disobey the queen.”

“How long did the queen remain out of the chamber?”

“Three-quarters of an hour.”

“None of her women accompanied her?”

“Only Donna Estafania.”

“Did she afterward return?”

“Yes; but only to take a little rosewood casket, with her cipher upon it, and went out again immediately.”

“And when she finally returned, did she bring that casket with her?”

“No.”

“Does Madame de Lannoy know what was in that casket?”

“Yes; the diamond studs which his Majesty gave the queen.”

“And she came back without this casket?”

“Yes.”

“Madame de Lannoy, then, is of opinion that she gave them to Buckingham?”

“She is sure of it.”

“How can she be so?”

“In the course of the day Madame de Lannoy, in her quality of tire-woman of the queen, looked for this casket, appeared uneasy at not finding it, and at length asked information of the queen.”

“And then the queen?”

“The queen became exceedingly red, and replied that having in the evening broken one of those studs, she had sent it to her goldsmith to be repaired.”

“He must be called upon, and so ascertain if the thing be true or not.”

“I have just been with him.”

“And the goldsmith?”

“The goldsmith has heard nothing of it.”

“Well, well! Rochefort, all is not lost; and perhaps—perhaps everything is for the best.”

“The fact is that I do not doubt your Eminence’s genius—”

“Will repair the blunders of his agent—is that it?”

“That is exactly what I was going to say, if your Eminence had let me finish my sentence.”

“Meanwhile, do you know where the Duchesse de Chevreuse and the Duke of Buckingham are now concealed?”

“No, monseigneur; my people could tell me nothing on that head.”

“But I know.”

“You, monseigneur?”

“Yes; or at least I guess. They were, one in the Rue de Vaugirard, No. 25; the other in the Rue de la Harpe, No. 75.”

“Does your Eminence command that they both be instantly arrested?”

“It will be too late; they will be gone.”

“But still, we can make sure that they are so.”

“Take ten men of my Guardsmen, and search the two houses thoroughly.”

“Instantly, monseigneur.” And Rochefort went hastily out of the apartment.

The cardinal, being left alone, reflected for an instant and then rang the bell a third time. The same officer appeared.

“Bring the prisoner in again,” said the cardinal.

M Bonacieux was introduced afresh, and upon a sign from the cardinal, the officer retired.

“You have deceived me!” said the cardinal, sternly.

“I,” cried Bonacieux, “I deceive your Eminence!”

“Your wife, in going to Rue de Vaugirard and Rue de la Harpe, did not go to find linen drapers.”

“Then why did she go, just God?”

“She went to meet the Duchesse de Chevreuse and the Duke of Buckingham.”

“Yes,” cried Bonacieux, recalling all his remembrances of the circumstances, “yes, that’s it. Your Eminence is right. I told my wife several times that it was surprising that linen drapers should live in such houses as those, in houses that had no signs; but she always laughed at me. Ah, monseigneur!” continued Bonacieux, throwing himself at his Eminence’s feet, “ah, how truly you are the cardinal, the great cardinal, the man of genius whom all the world reveres!”

The cardinal, however contemptible might be the triumph gained over so vulgar a being as Bonacieux, did not the less enjoy it for an instant; then, almost immediately, as if a fresh thought has occurred, a smile played upon his lips, and he said, offering his hand to the mercer, “Rise, my friend, you are a worthy man.”

“The cardinal has touched me with his hand! I have touched the hand of the great man!” cried Bonacieux. “The great man has called me his friend!”

“Yes, my friend, yes,” said the cardinal, with that paternal tone which he sometimes knew how to assume, but which deceived none who knew him; “and as you have been unjustly suspected, well, you must be indemnified. Here, take this purse of a hundred pistoles, and pardon me.”

“I pardon you, monseigneur!” said Bonacieux, hesitating to take the purse, fearing, doubtless, that this pretended gift was but a pleasantry. “But you are able to have me arrested, you are able to have me tortured, you are able to have me hanged; you are the master, and I could not have the least word to say. Pardon you, monseigneur! You cannot mean that!”

“Ah, my dear Monsieur Bonacieux, you are generous in this matter. I see it and I thank you for it. Thus, then, you will take this bag, and you will go away without being too malcontent.”

“I go away enchanted.”

“Farewell, then, or rather, au revoir, for I hope we shall meet again.”

“Whenever Monseigneur wishes, I am always at at his Eminence’s orders.”

“That will be frequently, I assure you, for I have found something extremely agreeable in your conversation.”

“Oh! Monseigneur!”

“Au revoir, Monsieur Bonacieux, au revoir!”

And the cardinal made him a sign with his hand, to which Bonacieux replied by bowing to the ground. He then went out backward, and when he was in the antechamber the cardinal heard him, in his enthusiasm, crying aloud, “Long life to the Monseigneur! Long life to his Eminence! Long life to the great cardinal!” The cardinal listened with a smile to this vociferous manifestation of the feelings of M. Bonacieux; and then, when Bonacieux’s cries were no longer audible, “Good!” said he, “that man would henceforward lay down his life for me.” And the cardinal began to examine with the greatest attention the map of La Rochelle, which, as we have said, lay open on the desk, tracing with a pencil the line in which the famous dyke was to pass which, eighteen months later, shut up the port of the besieged city. As he was in the deepest of his strategic meditations, the door opened, and Rochefort returned.

“Well?” said the cardinal, eagerly, rising with a promptitude which proved the degree of importance he attached to the commission with which he had charged the count.

“Well,” said the latter, “a young woman of about twenty-six or twenty-eight years of age, and a man of from thirty-five to forty, have indeed lodged at the two houses pointed out by your Eminence; but the woman left last night, and the man this morning.”

“It was they!” cried the cardinal, looking at the clock; “and now it is too late to have them pursued. The duchess is at Tours, and the duke at Boulogne. It is in London they must be found.”

“What are your Eminence’s orders?”

“Not a word of what has passed. Let the queen remain in perfect security; let her be ignorant that we know her secret. Let her believe that we are in search of some conspiracy or other. Send me the keeper of the seals, Séguier.”

“And that man, what has your Eminence done with him?”

“What man?” asked the cardinal.

“That Bonacieux.”

“I have done with him all that could be done. I have made him a spy upon his wife.”

The Comte de Rochefort bowed like a man who acknowledges the superiority of the master as great, and retired.

Left alone, the cardinal seated himself again and wrote a letter, which he secured with his special seal. Then he rang. The officer entered for the fourth time.

“Tell Vitray to come to me,” said he, “and tell him to get ready for a journey.”

An instant after, the man he asked for was before him, booted and spurred.

“Vitray,” said he, “you will go with all speed to London. You must not stop an instant on the way. You will deliver this letter to Milady. Here is an order for two hundred pistoles; call upon my treasurer and get the money. You shall have as much again if you are back within six days, and have executed your commission well.”

The messenger, without replying a single word, bowed, took the letter, with the order for the two hundred pistoles, and retired.

Here is what the letter contained:

MILADY, Be at the first ball at which the Duke of Buckingham shall be present. He will wear on his doublet twelve diamond studs; get as near to him as you can, and cut off two.

As soon as these studs shall be in your possession, inform me.


15. 
MEN OF THE ROBE AND MEN OF THE SWORD


On the day after these events had taken place, Athos not having reappeared, M. de Tréville was informed by d’Artagnan and Porthos of the circumstance. As to Aramis, he had asked for leave of absence for five days, and was gone, it was said, to Rouen on family business.

M. de Tréville was the father of his soldiers. The lowest or the least known of them, as soon as he assumed the uniform of the company, was as sure of his aid and support as if he had been his own brother.

He repaired, then, instantly to the office of the lieutenant-criminel. The officer who commanded the post of the Red Cross was sent for, and by successive inquiries they learned that Athos was then lodged in Fort l’Evêque.

Athos had passed through all the examinations we have seen Bonacieux undergo.

We were present at the scene in which the two captives were confronted with each other. Athos, who had till that time said nothing for fear that d’Artagnan, interrupted in his turn, should not have the time necessary, from this moment declared that his name was Athos, and not d’Artagnan. He added that he did not know either M. or Mme. Bonacieux; that he had never spoken to the one or the other; that he had come, at about ten o’clock in the evening, to pay a visit to his friend M. d’Artagnan, but that till that hour he had been at M. de Tréville’s, where he had dined. “Twenty witnesses,” added he, “could attest the fact”; and he named several distinguished gentlemen, and among them was M. le Duc de la Trémouille.

The second commissary was as much bewildered as the first had been by the simple and firm declaration of the Musketeer, upon whom he was anxious to take the revenge which men of the robe like at all times to gain over men of the sword; but the name of M. de Tréville, and that of M. de la Trémouille, commanded a little reflection.

Athos was then sent to the cardinal; but unfortunately the cardinal was at the Louvre with the king.

It was precisely at this moment that M. de Tréville, on leaving the residence of the lieutenant-criminel and the governor of Fort l’Evêque without being able to find Athos, arrived at the palace.

As captain of the Musketeers, M. de Tréville had the right of entry at all times.

It is well known how violent the king’s prejudices were against the queen, and how carefully these prejudices were kept up by the cardinal, who in affairs of intrigue mistrusted women infinitely more than men. One of the grand causes of this prejudice was the friendship of Anne of Austria for Mme. de Chevreuse. These two women gave him more uneasiness than the war with Spain, the quarrel with England, or the embarrassment of the finances. In his eyes and to his conviction, Mme. de Chevreuse not only served the queen in her political intrigues, but, what tormented him still more, in her amorous intrigues.

At the first word the cardinal spoke of Mme. de Chevreuse—who, though exiled to Tours and believed to be in that city, had come to Paris, remained there five days, and outwitted the police—the king flew into a furious passion. Capricious and unfaithful, the king wished to be called Louis the Just and Louis the Chaste. Posterity will find a difficulty in understanding this character, which history explains only by facts and never by reason.

But when the cardinal added that not only Mme. de Chevreuse had been in Paris, but still further, that the queen had renewed with her one of those mysterious correspondences which at that time was named a cabal; when he affirmed that he, the cardinal, was about to unravel the most closely twisted thread of this intrigue; that at the moment of arresting in the very act, with all the proofs about her, the queen’s emissary to the exiled duchess, a Musketeer had dared to interrupt the course of justice violently, by falling sword in hand upon the honest men of the law, charged with investigating impartially the whole affair in order to place it before the eyes of the king—Louis XIII could not contain himself, and he made a step toward the queen’s apartment with that pale and mute indignation which, when it broke out, led this prince to the commission of the most pitiless cruelty. And yet, in all this, the cardinal had not yet said a word about the Duke of Buckingham.

At this instant M. de Tréville entered, cool, polite, and in irreproachable costume.

Informed of what had passed by the presence of the cardinal and the alteration in the king’s countenance, M. de Tréville felt himself something like Samson before the Philistines.

Louis XIII had already placed his hand on the knob of the door; at the noise of M. de Tréville’s entrance he turned round. “You arrive in good time, monsieur,” said the king, who, when his passions were raised to a certain point, could not dissemble; “I have learned some fine things concerning your Musketeers.”

“And I,” said Tréville, coldly, “I have some pretty things to tell your Majesty concerning these gownsmen.”

“What?” said the king, with hauteur.

“I have the honor to inform your Majesty,” continued M. de Tréville, in the same tone, “that a party of procureurs, commissaries, and men of the police—very estimable people, but very inveterate, as it appears, against the uniform—have taken upon themselves to arrest in a house, to lead away through the open street, and throw into Fort l’Evêque, all upon an order which they have refused to show me, one of my, or rather your Musketeers, sire, of irreproachable conduct, of an almost illustrious reputation, and whom your Majesty knows favorably, Monsieur Athos.”

“Athos,” said the king, mechanically; “yes, certainly I know that name.”

“Let your Majesty remember,” said Tréville, “that Monsieur Athos is the Musketeer who, in the annoying duel which you are acquainted with, had the misfortune to wound Monsieur de Cahusac so seriously. A propos, monseigneur,” continued Tréville, addressing the cardinal, “Monsieur de Cahusac is quite recovered, is he not?”

“Thank you,” said the cardinal, biting his lips with anger.

“Athos, then, went to pay a visit to one of his friends absent at the time,” continued Tréville, “to a young Béarnais, a cadet in his Majesty’s Guards, the company of Monsieur Dessessart, but scarcely had he arrived at his friend’s and taken up a book, while waiting his return, when a mixed crowd of bailiffs and soldiers came and laid siege to the house, broke open several doors—”

The cardinal made the king a sign, which signified, “That was on account of the affair about which I spoke to you.”

“We all know that,” interrupted the king; “for all that was done for our service.”

“Then,” said Tréville, “it was also for your Majesty’s service that one of my Musketeers, who was innocent, has been seized, that he has been placed between two guards like a malefactor, and that this gallant man, who has ten times shed his blood in your Majesty’s service and is ready to shed it again, has been paraded through the midst of an insolent populace?”

“Bah!” said the king, who began to be shaken, “was it so managed?”

“Monsieur de Tréville,” said the cardinal, with the greatest phlegm, “does not tell your Majesty that this innocent Musketeer, this gallant man, had only an hour before attacked, sword in hand, four commissaries of inquiry, who were delegated by myself to examine into an affair of the highest importance.”

“I defy your Eminence to prove it,” cried Tréville, with his Gascon freedom and military frankness; “for one hour before, Monsieur Athos, who, I will confide it to your Majesty, is really a man of the highest quality, did me the honor after having dined with me to be conversing in the saloon of my hôtel, with the Duc de la Trémouille and the Comte de Châlus, who happened to be there.”

The king looked at the cardinal.

“A written examination attests it,” said the cardinal, replying aloud to the mute interrogation of his Majesty; “and the ill-treated people have drawn up the following, which I have the honor to present to your Majesty.”

“And is the written report of the gownsmen to be placed in comparison with the word of honor of a swordsman?” replied Tréville haughtily.

“Come, come, Tréville, hold your tongue,” said the king.

“If his Eminence entertains any suspicion against one of my Musketeers,” said Tréville, “the justice of Monsieur the Cardinal is so well known that I demand an inquiry.”

“In the house in which the judicial inquiry was made,” continued the impassive cardinal, “there lodges, I believe, a young Béarnais, a friend of the Musketeer.”

“Your Eminence means Monsieur d’Artagnan.”

“I mean a young man whom you patronize, Monsieur de Tréville.”

“Yes, your Eminence, it is the same.”

“Do you not suspect this young man of having given bad counsel?”

“To Athos, to a man double his age?” interrupted Tréville. “No, monseigneur. Besides, d’Artagnan passed the evening with me.”

“Well,” said the cardinal, “everybody seems to have passed the evening with you.”

“Does your Eminence doubt my word?” said Tréville, with a brow flushed with anger.

“No, God forbid,” said the cardinal; “only, at what hour was he with you?”

“Oh, as to that I can speak positively, your Eminence; for as he came in I remarked that it was but half past nine by the clock, although I had believed it to be later.”

“At what hour did he leave your hôtel?”

“At half past ten—an hour after the event.”

“Well,” replied the cardinal, who could not for an instant suspect the loyalty of Tréville, and who felt that the victory was escaping him, “well, but Athos was taken in the house in the Rue des Fossoyeurs.”

“Is one friend forbidden to visit another, or a Musketeer of my company to fraternize with a Guard of Dessessart’s company?”

“Yes, when the house where he fraternizes is suspected.”

“That house is suspected, Tréville,” said the king; “perhaps you did not know it?”

“Indeed, sire, I did not. The house may be suspected; but I deny that it is so in the part of it inhabited by Monsieur d’Artagnan, for I can affirm, sire, if I can believe what he says, that there does not exist a more devoted servant of your Majesty, or a more profound admirer of Monsieur the Cardinal.”

“Was it not this d’Artagnan who wounded Jussac one day, in that unfortunate encounter which took place near the Convent of the Carmes-Déchaussés?” asked the king, looking at the cardinal, who colored with vexation.

“And the next day, Bernajoux. Yes, sire, yes, it is the same; and your Majesty has a good memory.”

“Come, how shall we decide?” said the king.

“That concerns your Majesty more than me,” said the cardinal. “I should affirm the culpability.”

“And I deny it,” said Tréville. “But his Majesty has judges, and these judges will decide.”

“That is best,” said the king. “Send the case before the judges; it is their business to judge, and they shall judge.”

“Only,” replied Tréville, “it is a sad thing that in the unfortunate times in which we live, the purest life, the most incontestable virtue, cannot exempt a man from infamy and persecution. The army, I will answer for it, will be but little pleased at being exposed to rigorous treatment on account of police affairs.”

The expression was imprudent; but M. de Tréville launched it with knowledge of his cause. He was desirous of an explosion, because in that case the mine throws forth fire, and fire enlightens.

“Police affairs!” cried the king, taking up Tréville’s words, “police affairs! And what do you know about them, Monsieur? Meddle with your Musketeers, and do not annoy me in this way. It appears, according to your account, that if by mischance a Musketeer is arrested, France is in danger. What a noise about a Musketeer! I would arrest ten of them, ventrebleu, a hundred, even, all the company, and I would not allow a whisper.”

“From the moment they are suspected by your Majesty,” said Tréville, “the Musketeers are guilty; therefore, you see me prepared to surrender my sword—for after having accused my soldiers, there can be no doubt that Monsieur the Cardinal will end by accusing me. It is best to constitute myself at once a prisoner with Athos, who is already arrested, and with d’Artagnan, who most probably will be.”

“Gascon-headed man, will you have done?” said the king.

“Sire,” replied Tréville, without lowering his voice in the least, “either order my Musketeer to be restored to me, or let him be tried.”

“He shall be tried,” said the cardinal.

“Well, so much the better; for in that case I shall demand of his Majesty permission to plead for him.”

The king feared an outbreak.

“If his Eminence,” said he, “did not have personal motives—”

The cardinal saw what the king was about to say and interrupted him:

“Pardon me,” said he; “but the instant your Majesty considers me a prejudiced judge, I withdraw.”

“Come,” said the king, “will you swear, by my father, that Athos was at your residence during the event and that he took no part in it?”

“By your glorious father, and by yourself, whom I love and venerate above all the world, I swear it.”

“Be so kind as to reflect, sire,” said the cardinal. “If we release the prisoner thus, we shall never know the truth.”

“Athos may always be found,” replied Tréville, “ready to answer, when it shall please the gownsmen to interrogate him. He will not desert, Monsieur the Cardinal, be assured of that; I will answer for him.”

“No, he will not desert,” said the king; “he can always be found, as Tréville says. Besides,” added he, lowering his voice and looking with a suppliant air at the cardinal, “let us give them apparent security; that is policy.”

This policy of Louis XIII made Richelieu smile.

“Order it as you please, sire; you possess the right of pardon.”

“The right of pardoning only applies to the guilty,” said Tréville, who was determined to have the last word, “and my Musketeer is innocent. It is not mercy, then, that you are about to accord, sire, it is justice.”

“And he is in the Fort l’Evêque?” said the king.

“Yes, sire, in solitary confinement, in a dungeon, like the lowest criminal.”

“The devil!” murmured the king; “what must be done?”

“Sign an order for his release, and all will be said,” replied the cardinal. “I believe with your Majesty that Monsieur de Tréville’s guarantee is more than sufficient.”

Tréville bowed very respectfully, with a joy that was not unmixed with fear; he would have preferred an obstinate resistance on the part of the cardinal to this sudden yielding.

The king signed the order for release, and Tréville carried it away without delay. As he was about to leave the presence, the cardinal gave him a friendly smile, and said, “A perfect harmony reigns, sire, between the leaders and the soldiers of your Musketeers, which must be profitable for the service and honorable to all.”

“He will play me some dog’s trick or other, and that immediately,” said Tréville. “One has never the last word with such a man. But let us be quick—the king may change his mind in an hour; and at all events it is more difficult to replace a man in the Fort l’Evêque or the Bastille who has got out, than to keep a prisoner there who is in.”

M. de Tréville made his entrance triumphantly into the Fort l’Evêque, whence he delivered the Musketeer, whose peaceful indifference had not for a moment abandoned him.

The first time he saw d’Artagnan, “You have come off well,” said he to him; “there is your Jussac thrust paid for. There still remains that of Bernajoux, but you must not be too confident.”

As to the rest, M. de Tréville had good reason to mistrust the cardinal and to think that all was not over, for scarcely had the captain of the Musketeers closed the door after him, than his Eminence said to the king, “Now that we are at length by ourselves, we will, if your Majesty pleases, converse seriously. Sire, Buckingham has been in Paris five days, and only left this morning.”