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The Three Musketeers

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16. 
IN WHICH M. SÉGUIER, KEEPER OF THE SEALS, LOOKS MORE THAN ONCE FOR THE BELL


It is impossible to form an idea of the impression these few words made upon Louis XIII. He grew pale and red alternately; and the cardinal saw at once that he had recovered by a single blow all the ground he had lost.

“Buckingham in Paris!” cried he, “and why does he come?”

“To conspire, no doubt, with your enemies, the Huguenots and the Spaniards.”

“No, pardieu, no! To conspire against my honor with Madame de Chevreuse, Madame de Longueville, and the Condés.”

“Oh, sire, what an idea! The queen is too virtuous; and besides, loves your Majesty too well.”

“Woman is weak, Monsieur Cardinal,” said the king; “and as to loving me much, I have my own opinion as to that love.”

“I not the less maintain,” said the cardinal, “that the Duke of Buckingham came to Paris for a project wholly political.”

“And I am sure that he came for quite another purpose, Monsieur Cardinal; but if the queen be guilty, let her tremble!”

“Indeed,” said the cardinal, “whatever repugnance I may have to directing my mind to such a treason, your Majesty compels me to think of it. Madame de Lannoy, whom, according to your Majesty’s command, I have frequently interrogated, told me this morning that the night before last her Majesty sat up very late, that this morning she wept much, and that she was writing all day.”

“That’s it!” cried the king; “to him, no doubt. Cardinal, I must have the queen’s papers.”

“But how to take them, sire? It seems to me that it is neither your Majesty nor myself who can charge himself with such a mission.”

“How did they act with regard to the Maréchale d’Ancre?” cried the king, in the highest state of choler; “first her closets were thoroughly searched, and then she herself.”

“The Maréchale d’Ancre was no more than the Maréchale d’Ancre. A Florentine adventurer, sire, and that was all; while the august spouse of your Majesty is Anne of Austria, Queen of France—that is to say, one of the greatest princesses in the world.”

“She is not the less guilty, Monsieur Duke! The more she has forgotten the high position in which she was placed, the more degrading is her fall. Besides, I long ago determined to put an end to all these petty intrigues of policy and love. She has near her a certain Laporte.”

“Who, I believe, is the mainspring of all this, I confess,” said the cardinal.

“You think then, as I do, that she deceives me?” said the king.

“I believe, and I repeat it to your Majesty, that the queen conspires against the power of the king, but I have not said against his honor.”

“And I—I tell you against both. I tell you the queen does not love me; I tell you she loves another; I tell you she loves that infamous Buckingham! Why did you not have him arrested while in Paris?”

“Arrest the Duke! Arrest the prime minister of King Charles I! Think of it, sire! What a scandal! And if the suspicions of your Majesty, which I still continue to doubt, should prove to have any foundation, what a terrible disclosure, what a fearful scandal!”

“But as he exposed himself like a vagabond or a thief, he should have been—”

Louis XIII stopped, terrified at what he was about to say, while Richelieu, stretching out his neck, waited uselessly for the word which had died on the lips of the king.

“He should have been—?”

“Nothing,” said the king, “nothing. But all the time he was in Paris, you, of course, did not lose sight of him?”

“No, sire.”

“Where did he lodge?”

“Rue de la Harpe. No. 75.”

“Where is that?”

“By the side of the Luxembourg.”

“And you are certain that the queen and he did not see each other?”

“I believe the queen to have too high a sense of her duty, sire.”

“But they have corresponded; it is to him that the queen has been writing all the day. Monsieur Duke, I must have those letters!”

“Sire, notwithstanding—”

“Monsieur Duke, at whatever price it may be, I will have them.”

“I would, however, beg your Majesty to observe—”

“Do you, then, also join in betraying me, Monsieur Cardinal, by thus always opposing my will? Are you also in accord with Spain and England, with Madame de Chevreuse and the queen?”

“Sire,” replied the cardinal, sighing, “I believed myself secure from such a suspicion.”

“Monsieur Cardinal, you have heard me; I will have those letters.”

“There is but one way.”

“What is that?”

“That would be to charge Monsieur de Séguier, the keeper of the seals, with this mission. The matter enters completely into the duties of the post.”

“Let him be sent for instantly.”

“He is most likely at my hôtel. I requested him to call, and when I came to the Louvre I left orders if he came, to desire him to wait.”

“Let him be sent for instantly.”

“Your Majesty’s orders shall be executed; but—”

“But what?”

“But the queen will perhaps refuse to obey.”

“My orders?”

“Yes, if she is ignorant that these orders come from the king.”

“Well, that she may have no doubt on that head, I will go and inform her myself.”

“Your Majesty will not forget that I have done everything in my power to prevent a rupture.”

“Yes, Duke, yes, I know you are very indulgent toward the queen, too indulgent, perhaps; we shall have occasion, I warn you, at some future period to speak of that.”

“Whenever it shall please your Majesty; but I shall be always happy and proud, sire, to sacrifice myself to the harmony which I desire to see reign between you and the Queen of France.”

“Very well, Cardinal, very well; but, meantime, send for Monsieur the Keeper of the Seals. I will go to the queen.”

And Louis XIII, opening the door of communication, passed into the corridor which led from his apartments to those of Anne of Austria.

The queen was in the midst of her women—Mme. de Guitaut, Mme. de Sable, Mme. de Montbazon, and Mme. de Guémené. In a corner was the Spanish companion, Donna Estafania, who had followed her from Madrid. Mme. Guémené was reading aloud, and everybody was listening to her with attention with the exception of the queen, who had, on the contrary, desired this reading in order that she might be able, while feigning to listen, to pursue the thread of her own thoughts.

These thoughts, gilded as they were by a last reflection of love, were not the less sad. Anne of Austria, deprived of the confidence of her husband, pursued by the hatred of the cardinal, who could not pardon her for having repulsed a more tender feeling, having before her eyes the example of the queen-mother whom that hatred had tormented all her life—though Marie de Medicis, if the memoirs of the time are to be believed, had begun by according to the cardinal that sentiment which Anne of Austria always refused him—Anne of Austria had seen her most devoted servants fall around her, her most intimate confidants, her dearest favorites. Like those unfortunate persons endowed with a fatal gift, she brought misfortune upon everything she touched. Her friendship was a fatal sign which called down persecution. Mme. de Chevreuse and Mme. de Bernet were exiled, and Laporte did not conceal from his mistress that he expected to be arrested every instant.

It was at the moment when she was plunged in the deepest and darkest of these reflections that the door of the chamber opened, and the king entered.

The reader hushed herself instantly. All the ladies rose, and there was a profound silence. As to the king, he made no demonstration of politeness, only stopping before the queen. “Madame,” said he, “you are about to receive a visit from the chancellor, who will communicate certain matters to you with which I have charged him.”

The unfortunate queen, who was constantly threatened with divorce, exile, and trial even, turned pale under her rouge, and could not refrain from saying, “But why this visit, sire? What can the chancellor have to say to me that your Majesty could not say yourself?”

The king turned upon his heel without reply, and almost at the same instant the captain of the Guards, M. de Guitant, announced the visit of the chancellor.

When the chancellor appeared, the king had already gone out by another door.

The chancellor entered, half smiling, half blushing. As we shall probably meet with him again in the course of our history, it may be well for our readers to be made at once acquainted with him.

This chancellor was a pleasant man. He was Des Roches le Masle, canon of Notre Dame, who had formerly been valet of a bishop, who introduced him to his Eminence as a perfectly devout man. The cardinal trusted him, and therein found his advantage.

There are many stories related of him, and among them this. After a wild youth, he had retired into a convent, there to expiate, at least for some time, the follies of adolescence. On entering this holy place, the poor penitent was unable to shut the door so close as to prevent the passions he fled from entering with him. He was incessantly attacked by them, and the superior, to whom he had confided this misfortune, wishing as much as in him lay to free him from them, had advised him, in order to conjure away the tempting demon, to have recourse to the bell rope, and ring with all his might. At the denunciating sound, the monks would be rendered aware that temptation was besieging a brother, and all the community would go to prayers.

This advice appeared good to the future chancellor. He conjured the evil spirit with abundance of prayers offered up by the monks. But the devil does not suffer himself to be easily dispossessed from a place in which he has fixed his garrison. In proportion as they redoubled the exorcisms he redoubled the temptations; so that day and night the bell was ringing full swing, announcing the extreme desire for mortification which the penitent experienced.

The monks had no longer an instant of repose. By day they did nothing but ascend and descend the steps which led to the chapel; at night, in addition to complines and matins, they were further obliged to leap twenty times out of their beds and prostrate themselves on the floor of their cells.

It is not known whether it was the devil who gave way, or the monks who grew tired; but within three months the penitent reappeared in the world with the reputation of being the most terrible possessed that ever existed.

On leaving the convent he entered into the magistracy, became president on the place of his uncle, embraced the cardinal’s party, which did not prove want of sagacity, became chancellor, served his Eminence with zeal in his hatred against the queen-mother and his vengeance against Anne of Austria, stimulated the judges in the affair of Calais, encouraged the attempts of M. de Laffemas, chief gamekeeper of France; then, at length, invested with the entire confidence of the cardinal—a confidence which he had so well earned—he received the singular commission for the execution of which he presented himself in the queen’s apartments.

The queen was still standing when he entered; but scarcely had she perceived him then she reseated herself in her armchair, and made a sign to her women to resume their cushions and stools, and with an air of supreme hauteur, said, “What do you desire, monsieur, and with what object do you present yourself here?”

“To make, madame, in the name of the king, and without prejudice to the respect which I have the honor to owe to your Majesty a close examination into all your papers.”

“How, monsieur, an investigation of my papers—mine! Truly, this is an indignity!”

“Be kind enough to pardon me, madame; but in this circumstance I am but the instrument which the king employs. Has not his Majesty just left you, and has he not himself asked you to prepare for this visit?”

“Search, then, monsieur! I am a criminal, as it appears. Estafania, give up the keys of my drawers and my desks.”

For form’s sake the chancellor paid a visit to the pieces of furniture named; but he well knew that it was not in a piece of furniture that the queen would place the important letter she had written that day.

When the chancellor had opened and shut twenty times the drawers of the secretaries, it became necessary, whatever hesitation he might experience—it became necessary, I say, to come to the conclusion of the affair; that is to say, to search the queen herself. The chancellor advanced, therefore, toward Anne of Austria, and said with a very perplexed and embarrassed air, “And now it remains for me to make the principal examination.”

“What is that?” asked the queen, who did not understand, or rather was not willing to understand.

“His majesty is certain that a letter has been written by you during the day; he knows that it has not yet been sent to its address. This letter is not in your table nor in your secretary; and yet this letter must be somewhere.”

“Would you dare to lift your hand to your queen?” said Anne of Austria, drawing herself up to her full height, and fixing her eyes upon the chancellor with an expression almost threatening.

“I am a faithful subject of the king, madame, and all that his Majesty commands I shall do.”

“Well, it is true!” said Anne of Austria; “and the spies of the cardinal have served him faithfully. I have written a letter today; that letter is not yet gone. The letter is here.” And the queen laid her beautiful hand on her bosom.

“Then give me that letter, madame,” said the chancellor.

“I will give it to none but the king, monsieur,” said Anne.

“If the king had desired that the letter should be given to him, madame, he would have demanded it of you himself. But I repeat to you, I am charged with reclaiming it; and if you do not give it up—”

“Well?”

“He has, then, charged me to take it from you.”

“How! What do you say?”

“That my orders go far, madame; and that I am authorized to seek for the suspected paper, even on the person of your Majesty.”

“What horror!” cried the queen.

“Be kind enough, then, madame, to act more compliantly.”

“The conduct is infamously violent! Do you know that, monsieur?”

“The king commands it, madame; excuse me.”

“I will not suffer it! No, no, I would rather die!” cried the queen, in whom the imperious blood of Spain and Austria began to rise.

The chancellor made a profound reverence. Then, with the intention quite patent of not drawing back a foot from the accomplishment of the commission with which he was charged, and as the attendant of an executioner might have done in the chamber of torture, he approached Anne of Austria, from whose eyes at the same instant sprang tears of rage.

The queen was, as we have said, of great beauty. The commission might well be called delicate; and the king had reached, in his jealousy of Buckingham, the point of not being jealous of anyone else.

Without doubt the chancellor Séguier looked about at that moment for the rope of the famous bell; but not finding it he summoned his resolution, and stretched forth his hands toward the place where the queen had acknowledged the paper was to be found.

Anne of Austria took one step backward, became so pale that it might be said she was dying, and leaning with her left hand upon a table behind her to keep herself from falling, she with her right hand drew the paper from her bosom and held it out to the keeper of the seals.

“There, monsieur, there is that letter!” cried the queen, with a broken and trembling voice; “take it, and deliver me from your odious presence.”

The chancellor, who, on his part, trembled with an emotion easily to be conceived, took the letter, bowed to the ground, and retired. The door was scarcely closed upon him, when the queen sank, half fainting, into the arms of her women.

The chancellor carried the letter to the king without having read a single word of it. The king took it with a trembling hand, looked for the address, which was wanting, became very pale, opened it slowly, then seeing by the first words that it was addressed to the King of Spain, he read it rapidly.

It was nothing but a plan of attack against the cardinal. The queen pressed her brother and the Emperor of Austria to appear to be wounded, as they really were, by the policy of Richelieu—the eternal object of which was the abasement of the house of Austria—to declare war against France, and as a condition of peace, to insist upon the dismissal of the cardinal; but as to love, there was not a single word about it in all the letter.

The king, quite delighted, inquired if the cardinal was still at the Louvre; he was told that his Eminence awaited the orders of his Majesty in the business cabinet.

The king went straight to him.

“There, Duke,” said he, “you were right and I was wrong. The whole intrigue is political, and there is not the least question of love in this letter; but, on the other hand, there is abundant question of you.”

The cardinal took the letter, and read it with the greatest attention; then, when he had arrived at the end of it, he read it a second time. “Well, your Majesty,” said he, “you see how far my enemies go; they menace you with two wars if you do not dismiss me. In your place, in truth, sire, I should yield to such powerful instance; and on my part, it would be a real happiness to withdraw from public affairs.”

“What say you, Duke?”

“I say, sire, that my health is sinking under these excessive struggles and these never-ending labors. I say that according to all probability I shall not be able to undergo the fatigues of the siege of La Rochelle, and that it would be far better that you should appoint there either Monsieur de Condé, Monsieur de Bassopierre, or some valiant gentleman whose business is war, and not me, who am a churchman, and who am constantly turned aside for my real vocation to look after matters for which I have no aptitude. You would be the happier for it at home, sire, and I do not doubt you would be the greater for it abroad.”

“Monsieur Duke,” said the king, “I understand you. Be satisfied, all who are named in that letter shall be punished as they deserve, even the queen herself.”

“What do you say, sire? God forbid that the queen should suffer the least inconvenience or uneasiness on my account! She has always believed me, sire, to be her enemy; although your Majesty can bear witness that I have always taken her part warmly, even against you. Oh, if she betrayed your Majesty on the side of your honor, it would be quite another thing, and I should be the first to say, ‘No grace, sire—no grace for the guilty!’ Happily, there is nothing of the kind, and your Majesty has just acquired a new proof of it.”

“That is true, Monsieur Cardinal,” said the king, “and you were right, as you always are; but the queen, not the less, deserves all my anger.”

“It is you, sire, who have now incurred hers. And even if she were to be seriously offended, I could well understand it; your Majesty has treated her with a severity—”

“It is thus I will always treat my enemies and yours, Duke, however high they may be placed, and whatever peril I may incur in acting severely toward them.”

“The queen is my enemy, but is not yours, sire; on the contrary, she is a devoted, submissive, and irreproachable wife. Allow me, then, sire, to intercede for her with your Majesty.”

“Let her humble herself, then, and come to me first.”

“On the contrary, sire, set the example. You have committed the first wrong, since it was you who suspected the queen.”

“What! I make the first advances?” said the king. “Never!”

“Sire, I entreat you to do so.”

“Besides, in what manner can I make advances first?”

“By doing a thing which you know will be agreeable to her.”

“What is that?”

“Give a ball; you know how much the queen loves dancing. I will answer for it, her resentment will not hold out against such an attention.”

“Monsieur Cardinal, you know that I do not like worldly pleasures.”

“The queen will only be the more grateful to you, as she knows your antipathy for that amusement; besides, it will be an opportunity for her to wear those beautiful diamonds which you gave her recently on her birthday and with which she has since had no occasion to adorn herself.”

“We shall see, Monsieur Cardinal, we shall see,” said the king, who, in his joy at finding the queen guilty of a crime which he cared little about, and innocent of a fault of which he had great dread, was ready to make up all differences with her, “we shall see, but upon my honor, you are too indulgent toward her.”

“Sire,” said the cardinal, “leave severity to your ministers. Clemency is a royal virtue; employ it, and you will find that you derive advantage therein.”

Thereupon the cardinal, hearing the clock strike eleven, bowed low, asking permission of the king to retire, and supplicating him to come to a good understanding with the queen.

Anne of Austria, who, in consequence of the seizure of her letter, expected reproaches, was much astonished the next day to see the king make some attempts at reconciliation with her. Her first movement was repellent. Her womanly pride and her queenly dignity had both been so cruelly offended that she could not come round at the first advance; but, overpersuaded by the advice of her women, she at last had the appearance of beginning to forget. The king took advantage of this favorable moment to tell her that he had the intention of shortly giving a fête.

A fête was so rare a thing for poor Anne of Austria that at this announcement, as the cardinal had predicted, the last trace of her resentment disappeared, if not from her heart, at least from her countenance. She asked upon what day this fête would take place, but the king replied that he must consult the cardinal upon that head.

Indeed, every day the king asked the cardinal when this fête should take place; and every day the cardinal, under some pretext, deferred fixing it. Ten days passed away thus.

On the eighth day after the scene we have described, the cardinal received a letter with the London stamp which only contained these lines: “I have them; but I am unable to leave London for want of money. Send me five hundred pistoles, and four or five days after I have received them I shall be in Paris.”

On the same day the cardinal received this letter the king put his customary question to him.

Richelieu counted on his fingers, and said to himself, “She will arrive, she says, four or five days after having received the money. It will require four or five days for the transmission of the money, four or five days for her to return; that makes ten days. Now, allowing for contrary winds, accidents, and a woman’s weakness, there are twelve days.”

“Well, Monsieur Duke,” said the king, “have you made your calculations?”

“Yes, sire. Today is the twentieth of September. The aldermen of the city give a fête on the third of October. That will fall in wonderfully well; you will not appear to have gone out of your way to please the queen.”

Then the cardinal added, “A propos, sire, do not forget to tell her Majesty the evening before the fête that you should like to see how her diamond studs become her.”


17. 
BONACIEUX AT HOME


It was the second time the cardinal had mentioned these diamond studs to the king. Louis XIII was struck with this insistence, and began to fancy that this recommendation concealed some mystery.

More than once the king had been humiliated by the cardinal, whose police, without having yet attained the perfection of the modern police, were excellent, being better informed than himself, even upon what was going on in his own household. He hoped, then, in a conversation with Anne of Austria, to obtain some information from that conversation, and afterward to come upon his Eminence with some secret which the cardinal either knew or did not know, but which, in either case, would raise him infinitely in the eyes of his minister.

He went then to the queen, and according to custom accosted her with fresh menaces against those who surrounded her. Anne of Austria lowered her head, allowed the torrent to flow on without replying, hoping that it would cease of itself; but this was not what Louis XIII meant. Louis XIII wanted a discussion from which some light or other might break, convinced as he was that the cardinal had some afterthought and was preparing for him one of those terrible surprises which his Eminence was so skillful in getting up. He arrived at this end by his persistence in accusation.

“But,” cried Anne of Austria, tired of these vague attacks, “but, sire, you do not tell me all that you have in your heart. What have I done, then? Let me know what crime I have committed. It is impossible that your Majesty can make all this ado about a letter written to my brother.”

The king, attacked in a manner so direct, did not know what to answer; and he thought that this was the moment for expressing the desire which he was not going to have made until the evening before the fête.

“Madame,” said he, with dignity, “there will shortly be a ball at the Hôtel de Ville. I wish, in order to honor our worthy aldermen, you should appear in ceremonial costume, and above all, ornamented with the diamond studs which I gave you on your birthday. That is my answer.”

The answer was terrible. Anne of Austria believed that Louis XIII knew all, and that the cardinal had persuaded him to employ this long dissimulation of seven or eight days, which, likewise, was characteristic. She became excessively pale, leaned her beautiful hand upon a console, which hand appeared then like one of wax, and looking at the king with terror in her eyes, she was unable to reply by a single syllable.

“You hear, madame,” said the king, who enjoyed the embarrassment to its full extent, but without guessing the cause. “You hear, madame?”

“Yes, sire, I hear,” stammered the queen.

“You will appear at this ball?”

“Yes.”

“With those studs?”

“Yes.”

The queen’s paleness, if possible, increased; the king perceived it, and enjoyed it with that cold cruelty which was one of the worst sides of his character.

“Then that is agreed,” said the king, “and that is all I had to say to you.”

“But on what day will this ball take place?” asked Anne of Austria.

Louis XIII felt instinctively that he ought not to reply to this question, the queen having put it in an almost dying voice.

“Oh, very shortly, madame,” said he; “but I do not precisely recollect the date of the day. I will ask the cardinal.”

“It was the cardinal, then, who informed you of this fête?”

“Yes, madame,” replied the astonished king; “but why do you ask that?”

“It was he who told you to invite me to appear with these studs?”

“That is to say, madame—”

“It was he, sire, it was he!”

“Well, and what does it signify whether it was he or I? Is there any crime in this request?”

“No, sire.”

“Then you will appear?”

“Yes, sire.”

“That is well,” said the king, retiring, “that is well; I count upon it.”

The queen made a curtsy, less from etiquette than because her knees were sinking under her. The king went away enchanted.

“I am lost,” murmured the queen, “lost!—for the cardinal knows all, and it is he who urges on the king, who as yet knows nothing but will soon know everything. I am lost! My God, my God, my God!”

She knelt upon a cushion and prayed, with her head buried between her palpitating arms.

In fact, her position was terrible. Buckingham had returned to London; Mme. de Chevreuse was at Tours. More closely watched than ever, the queen felt certain, without knowing how to tell which, that one of her women had betrayed her. Laporte could not leave the Louvre; she had not a soul in the world in whom she could confide. Thus, while contemplating the misfortune which threatened her and the abandonment in which she was left, she broke out into sobs and tears.

“Can I be of service to your Majesty?” said all at once a voice full of sweetness and pity.

The queen turned sharply round, for there could be no deception in the expression of that voice; it was a friend who spoke thus.

In fact, at one of the doors which opened into the queen’s apartment appeared the pretty Mme. Bonacieux. She had been engaged in arranging the dresses and linen in a closet when the king entered; she could not get out and had heard all.

The queen uttered a piercing cry at finding herself surprised—for in her trouble she did not at first recognize the young woman who had been given to her by Laporte.

“Oh, fear nothing, madame!” said the young woman, clasping her hands and weeping herself at the queen’s sorrows; “I am your Majesty’s, body and soul, and however far I may be from you, however inferior may be my position, I believe I have discovered a means of extricating your Majesty from your trouble.”

“You, oh, heaven, you!” cried the queen; “but look me in the face. I am betrayed on all sides. Can I trust in you?”

“Oh, madame!” cried the young woman, falling on her knees; “upon my soul, I am ready to die for your Majesty!”

This expression sprang from the very bottom of the heart, and, like the first, there was no mistaking it.

“Yes,” continued Mme. Bonacieux, “yes, there are traitors here; but by the holy name of the Virgin, I swear that no one is more devoted to your Majesty than I am. Those studs which the king speaks of, you gave them to the Duke of Buckingham, did you not? Those studs were enclosed in a little rosewood box which he held under his arm? Am I deceived? Is it not so, madame?”

“Oh, my God, my God!” murmured the queen, whose teeth chattered with fright.

“Well, those studs,” continued Mme. Bonacieux, “we must have them back again.”

“Yes, without doubt, it is necessary,” cried the queen; “but how am I to act? How can it be effected?”

“Someone must be sent to the duke.”

“But who, who? In whom can I trust?”

“Place confidence in me, madame; do me that honor, my queen, and I will find a messenger.”

“But I must write.”

“Oh, yes; that is indispensable. Two words from the hand of your Majesty and your private seal.”

“But these two words would bring about my condemnation, divorce, exile!”

“Yes, if they fell into infamous hands. But I will answer for these two words being delivered to their address.”

“Oh, my God! I must then place my life, my honor, my reputation, in your hands?”

“Yes, yes, madame, you must; and I will save them all.”

“But how? Tell me at least the means.”

“My husband had been at liberty these two or three days. I have not yet had time to see him again. He is a worthy, honest man who entertains neither love nor hatred for anybody. He will do anything I wish. He will set out upon receiving an order from me, without knowing what he carries, and he will carry your Majesty’s letter, without even knowing it is from your Majesty, to the address which is on it.”

The queen took the two hands of the young woman with a burst of emotion, gazed at her as if to read her very heart, and, seeing nothing but sincerity in her beautiful eyes, embraced her tenderly.

“Do that,” cried she, “and you will have saved my life, you will have saved my honor!”

“Do not exaggerate the service I have the happiness to render your Majesty. I have nothing to save for your Majesty; you are only the victim of perfidious plots.”

“That is true, that is true, my child,” said the queen, “you are right.”

“Give me then, that letter, madame; time presses.”

The queen ran to a little table, on which were ink, paper, and pens. She wrote two lines, sealed the letter with her private seal, and gave it to Mme. Bonacieux.

“And now,” said the queen, “we are forgetting one very necessary thing.”

“What is that, madame?”

“Money.”

Mme. Bonacieux blushed.

“Yes, that is true,” said she, “and I will confess to your Majesty that my husband—”

“Your husband has none. Is that what you would say?”

“He has some, but he is very avaricious; that is his fault. Nevertheless, let not your Majesty be uneasy, we will find means.”

“And I have none, either,” said the queen. Those who have read the Memoirs of Mme. de Motteville will not be astonished at this reply. “But wait a minute.”

Anne of Austria ran to her jewel case.

“Here,” said she, “here is a ring of great value, as I have been assured. It came from my brother, the King of Spain. It is mine, and I am at liberty to dispose of it. Take this ring; raise money with it, and let your husband set out.”

“In an hour you shall be obeyed.”

“You see the address,” said the queen, speaking so low that Mme. Bonacieux could hardly hear what she said, “To my Lord Duke of Buckingham, London.”

“The letter shall be given to himself.”

“Generous girl!” cried Anne of Austria.

Mme. Bonacieux kissed the hands of the queen, concealed the paper in the bosom of her dress, and disappeared with the lightness of a bird.

Ten minutes afterward she was at home. As she told the queen, she had not seen her husband since his liberation; she was ignorant of the change that had taken place in him with respect to the cardinal—a change which had since been strengthened by two or three visits from the Comte de Rochefort, who had become the best friend of Bonacieux, and had persuaded him, without much trouble, that no culpable sentiments had prompted the abduction of his wife, but that it was only a political precaution.

She found M. Bonacieux alone; the poor man was recovering with difficulty the order in his house, in which he had found most of the furniture broken and the closets nearly emptied—justice not being one of the three things which King Solomon names as leaving no traces of their passage. As to the servant, she had run away at the moment of her master’s arrest. Terror had had such an effect upon the poor girl that she had never ceased walking from Paris till she reached Burgundy, her native place.

The worthy mercer had, immediately upon re-entering his house, informed his wife of his happy return, and his wife had replied by congratulating him, and telling him that the first moment she could steal from her duties should be devoted to paying him a visit.

This first moment had been delayed five days, which, under any other circumstances, might have appeared rather long to M. Bonacieux; but he had, in the visit he had made to the cardinal and in the visits Rochefort had made him, ample subjects for reflection, and as everybody knows, nothing makes time pass more quickly than reflection.

This was the more so because Bonacieux’s reflections were all rose-colored. Rochefort called him his friend, his dear Bonacieux, and never ceased telling him that the cardinal had a great respect for him. The mercer fancied himself already on the high road to honors and fortune.

On her side Mme. Bonacieux had also reflected; but, it must be admitted, upon something widely different from ambition. In spite of herself her thoughts constantly reverted to that handsome young man who was so brave and appeared to be so much in love. Married at eighteen to M. Bonacieux, having always lived among her husband’s friends—people little capable of inspiring any sentiment whatever in a young woman whose heart was above her position—Mme. Bonacieux had remained insensible to vulgar seductions; but at this period the title of gentleman had great influence with the citizen class, and d’Artagnan was a gentleman. Besides, he wore the uniform of the Guards, which, next to that of the Musketeers, was most admired by the ladies. He was, we repeat, handsome, young, and bold; he spoke of love like a man who did love and was anxious to be loved in return. There was certainly enough in all this to turn a head only twenty-three years old, and Mme. Bonacieux had just attained that happy period of life.

The couple, then, although they had not seen each other for eight days, and during that time serious events had taken place in which both were concerned, accosted each other with a degree of preoccupation. Nevertheless, Bonacieux manifested real joy, and advanced toward his wife with open arms. Madame Bonacieux presented her cheek to him.

“Let us talk a little,” said she.

“How!” said Bonacieux, astonished.

“Yes, I have something of the highest importance to tell you.”

“True,” said he, “and I have some questions sufficiently serious to put to you. Describe to me your abduction, I pray you.”

“Oh, that’s of no consequence just now,” said Mme. Bonacieux.

“And what does it concern, then—my captivity?”

“I heard of it the day it happened; but as you were not guilty of any crime, as you were not guilty of any intrigue, as you, in short, knew nothing that could compromise yourself or anybody else, I attached no more importance to that event than it merited.”

“You speak very much at your ease, madame,” said Bonacieux, hurt at the little interest his wife showed in him. “Do you know that I was plunged during a day and night in a dungeon of the Bastille?”

“Oh, a day and night soon pass away. Let us return to the object that brings me here.”

“What, that which brings you home to me? Is it not the desire of seeing a husband again from whom you have been separated for a week?” asked the mercer, piqued to the quick.

“Yes, that first, and other things afterward.”

“Speak.”

“It is a thing of the highest interest, and upon which our future fortune perhaps depends.”

“The complexion of our fortune has changed very much since I saw you, Madame Bonacieux, and I should not be astonished if in the course of a few months it were to excite the envy of many folks.”

“Yes, particularly if you follow the instructions I am about to give you.”

“Me?”

“Yes, you. There is good and holy action to be performed, monsieur, and much money to be gained at the same time.”

Mme. Bonacieux knew that in talking of money to her husband, she took him on his weak side. But a man, were he even a mercer, when he had talked for ten minutes with Cardinal Richelieu, is no longer the same man.

“Much money to be gained?” said Bonacieux, protruding his lip.

“Yes, much.”

“About how much?”

“A thousand pistoles, perhaps.”

“What you demand of me is serious, then?”

“It is indeed.”

“What must be done?”

“You must go away immediately. I will give you a paper which you must not part with on any account, and which you will deliver into the proper hands.”

“And whither am I to go?”

“To London.”

“I go to London? Go to! You jest! I have no business in London.”

“But others wish that you should go there.”

“But who are those others? I warn you that I will never again work in the dark, and that I will know not only to what I expose myself, but for whom I expose myself.”

“An illustrious person sends you; an illustrious person awaits you. The recompense will exceed your expectations; that is all I promise you.”

“More intrigues! Nothing but intrigues! Thank you, madame, I am aware of them now; Monsieur Cardinal has enlightened me on that head.”

“The cardinal?” cried Mme. Bonacieux. “Have you seen the cardinal?”

“He sent for me,” answered the mercer, proudly.

“And you responded to his bidding, you imprudent man?”

“Well, I can’t say I had much choice of going or not going, for I was taken to him between two guards. It is true also, that as I did not then know his Eminence, if I had been able to dispense with the visit, I should have been enchanted.”

“He ill-treated you, then; he threatened you?”

“He gave me his hand, and called me his friend. His friend! Do you hear that, madame? I am the friend of the great cardinal!”

“Of the great cardinal!”

“Perhaps you would contest his right to that title, madame?”

“I would contest nothing; but I tell you that the favor of a minister is ephemeral, and that a man must be mad to attach himself to a minister. There are powers above his which do not depend upon a man or the issue of an event; it is to these powers we should rally.”

“I am sorry for it, madame, but I acknowledge no other power but that of the great man whom I have the honor to serve.”

“You serve the cardinal?”

“Yes, madame; and as his servant, I will not allow you to be concerned in plots against the safety of the state, or to serve the intrigues of a woman who is not French and who has a Spanish heart. Fortunately we have the great cardinal; his vigilant eye watches over and penetrates to the bottom of the heart.”

Bonacieux was repeating, word for word, a sentence which he had heard from the Comte de Rochefort; but the poor wife, who had reckoned on her husband, and who, in that hope, had answered for him to the queen, did not tremble the less, both at the danger into which she had nearly cast herself and at the helpless state to which she was reduced. Nevertheless, knowing the weakness of her husband, and more particularly his cupidity, she did not despair of bringing him round to her purpose.

“Ah, you are a cardinalist, then, monsieur, are you?” cried she; “and you serve the party of those who maltreat your wife and insult your queen?”

“Private interests are as nothing before the interests of all. I am for those who save the state,” said Bonacieux, emphatically.

“And what do you know about the state you talk of?” said Mme. Bonacieux, shrugging her shoulders. “Be satisfied with being a plain, straightforward citizen, and turn to that side which offers the most advantages.”

“Eh, eh!” said Bonacieux, slapping a plump, round bag, which returned a sound a money; “what do you think of this, Madame Preacher?”

“Whence comes that money?”

“You do not guess?”

“From the cardinal?”

“From him, and from my friend the Comte de Rochefort.”

“The Comte de Rochefort! Why, it was he who carried me off!”

“That may be, madame!”

“And you receive silver from that man?”

“Have you not said that that abduction was entirely political?”

“Yes; but that abduction had for its object the betrayal of my mistress, to draw from me by torture confessions that might compromise the honor, and perhaps the life, of my august mistress.”

“Madame,” replied Bonacieux, “your august mistress is a perfidious Spaniard, and what the cardinal does is well done.”

“Monsieur,” said the young woman, “I know you to be cowardly, avaricious, and foolish, but I never till now believed you infamous!”

“Madame,” said Bonacieux, who had never seen his wife in a passion, and who recoiled before this conjugal anger, “madame, what do you say?”

“I say you are a miserable creature!” continued Mme. Bonacieux, who saw she was regaining some little influence over her husband. “You meddle with politics, do you—and still more, with cardinalist politics? Why, you sell yourself, body and soul, to the demon, the devil, for money!”

“No, to the cardinal.”

“It’s the same thing,” cried the young woman. “Who calls Richelieu calls Satan.”

“Hold your tongue, hold your tongue, madame! You may be overheard.”

“Yes, you are right; I should be ashamed for anyone to know your baseness.”

“But what do you require of me, then? Let us see.”

“I have told you. You must depart instantly, monsieur. You must accomplish loyally the commission with which I deign to charge you, and on that condition I pardon everything, I forget everything; and what is more,” and she held out her hand to him, “I restore my love.”

Bonacieux was cowardly and avaricious, but he loved his wife. He was softened. A man of fifty cannot long bear malice with a wife of twenty-three. Mme. Bonacieux saw that he hesitated.

“Come! Have you decided?” said she.

“But, my dear love, reflect a little upon what you require of me. London is far from Paris, very far, and perhaps the commission with which you charge me is not without dangers?”

“What matters it, if you avoid them?”

“Hold, Madame Bonacieux,” said the mercer, “hold! I positively refuse; intrigues terrify me. I have seen the Bastille. My! Whew! That’s a frightful place, that Bastille! Only to think of it makes my flesh crawl. They threatened me with torture. Do you know what torture is? Wooden points that they stick in between your legs till your bones stick out! No, positively I will not go. And, morbleu, why do you not go yourself? For in truth, I think I have hitherto been deceived in you. I really believe you are a man, and a violent one, too.”

“And you, you are a woman—a miserable woman, stupid and brutal. You are afraid, are you? Well, if you do not go this very instant, I will have you arrested by the queen’s orders, and I will have you placed in the Bastille which you dread so much.”

Bonacieux fell into a profound reflection. He weighed the two angers in his brain—that of the cardinal and that of the queen; that of the cardinal predominated enormously.

“Have me arrested on the part of the queen,” said he, “and I—I will appeal to his Eminence.”

At once Mme. Bonacieux saw that she had gone too far, and she was terrified at having communicated so much. She for a moment contemplated with fright that stupid countenance, impressed with the invincible resolution of a fool that is overcome by fear.

“Well, be it so!” said she. “Perhaps, when all is considered, you are right. In the long run, a man knows more about politics than a woman, particularly such as, like you, Monsieur Bonacieux, have conversed with the cardinal. And yet it is very hard,” added she, “that a man upon whose affection I thought I might depend, treats me thus unkindly and will not comply with any of my fancies.”

“That is because your fancies go too far,” replied the triumphant Bonacieux, “and I mistrust them.”

“Well, I will give it up, then,” said the young woman, sighing. “It is well as it is; say no more about it.”

“At least you should tell me what I should have to do in London,” replied Bonacieux, who remembered a little too late that Rochefort had desired him to endeavor to obtain his wife’s secrets.

“It is of no use for you to know anything about it,” said the young woman, whom an instinctive mistrust now impelled to draw back. “It was about one of those purchases that interest women—a purchase by which much might have been gained.”

But the more the young woman excused herself, the more important Bonacieux thought the secret which she declined to confide to him. He resolved then to hasten immediately to the residence of the Comte de Rochefort, and tell him that the queen was seeking for a messenger to send to London.

“Pardon me for quitting you, my dear Madame Bonacieux,” said he; “but, not knowing you would come to see me, I had made an engagement with a friend. I shall soon return; and if you will wait only a few minutes for me, as soon as I have concluded my business with that friend, as it is growing late, I will come back and reconduct you to the Louvre.”

“Thank you, monsieur, you are not brave enough to be of any use to me whatever,” replied Mme. Bonacieux. “I shall return very safely to the Louvre all alone.”

“As you please, Madame Bonacieux,” said the ex-mercer. “Shall I see you again soon?”

“Next week I hope my duties will afford me a little liberty, and I will take advantage of it to come and put things in order here, as they must necessarily be much deranged.”

“Very well; I shall expect you. You are not angry with me?”

“Not the least in the world.”

“Till then, then?”

“Till then.”

Bonacieux kissed his wife’s hand, and set off at a quick pace.

“Well,” said Mme. Bonacieux, when her husband had shut the street door and she found herself alone; “that imbecile lacked but one thing: to become a cardinalist. And I, who have answered for him to the queen—I, who have promised my poor mistress—ah, my God, my God! She will take me for one of those wretches with whom the palace swarms and who are placed about her as spies! Ah, Monsieur Bonacieux, I never did love you much, but now it is worse than ever. I hate you, and on my word you shall pay for this!”

At the moment she spoke these words a rap on the ceiling made her raise her head, and a voice which reached her through the ceiling cried, “Dear Madame Bonacieux, open for me the little door on the alley, and I will come down to you.”


18. 
LOVER AND HUSBAND


Ah, Madame,” said d’Artagnan, entering by the door which the young woman opened for him, “allow me to tell you that you have a bad sort of a husband.”

“You have, then, overheard our conversation?” asked Mme. Bonacieux, eagerly, and looking at d’Artagnan with disquiet.

“The whole.”

“But how, my God?”

“By a mode of proceeding known to myself, and by which I likewise overheard the more animated conversation which he had with the cardinal’s police.”

“And what did you understand by what we said?”

“A thousand things. In the first place, that, unfortunately, your husband is a simpleton and a fool; in the next place, you are in trouble, of which I am very glad, as it gives me an opportunity of placing myself at your service, and God knows I am ready to throw myself into the fire for you; finally, that the queen wants a brave, intelligent, devoted man to make a journey to London for her. I have at least two of the three qualities you stand in need of, and here I am.”

Mme. Bonacieux made no reply; but her heart beat with joy and secret hope shone in her eyes.

“And what guarantee will you give me,” asked she, “if I consent to confide this message to you?”

“My love for you. Speak! Command! What is to be done?”

“My God, my God!” murmured the young woman, “ought I to confide such a secret to you, monsieur? You are almost a boy.”

“I see that you require someone to answer for me?”

“I admit that would reassure me greatly.”

“Do you know Athos?”

“No.”

“Porthos?”

“No.”

“Aramis?”

“No. Who are these gentleman?”

“Three of the king’s Musketeers. Do you know Monsieur de Tréville, their captain?”

“Oh, yes, him! I know him; not personally, but from having heard the queen speak of him more than once as a brave and loyal gentleman.”

“You do not fear lest he should betray you to the cardinal?”

“Oh, no, certainly not!”

“Well, reveal your secret to him, and ask him whether, however important, however valuable, however terrible it may be, you may not confide it to me.”

“But this secret is not mine, and I cannot reveal it in this manner.”

“You were about to confide it to Monsieur Bonacieux,” said d’Artagnan, with chagrin.

“As one confides a letter to the hollow of a tree, to the wing of a pigeon, to the collar of a dog.”

“And yet, me—you see plainly that I love you.”

“You say so.”

“I am an honorable man.”

“You say so.”

“I am a gallant fellow.”

“I believe it.”

“I am brave.”

“Oh, I am sure of that!”

“Then, put me to the proof.”

Mme. Bonacieux looked at the young man, restrained for a minute by a last hesitation; but there was such an ardor in his eyes, such persuasion in his voice, that she felt herself constrained to confide in him. Besides, she found herself in circumstances where everything must be risked for the sake of everything. The queen might be as much injured by too much reticence as by too much confidence; and—let us admit it—the involuntary sentiment which she felt for her young protector decided her to speak.

“Listen,” said she; “I yield to your protestations, I yield to your assurances. But I swear to you, before God who hears us, that if you betray me, and my enemies pardon me, I will kill myself, while accusing you of my death.”

“And I—I swear to you before God, madame,” said d’Artagnan, “that if I am taken while accomplishing the orders you give me, I will die sooner than do anything that may compromise anyone.”

Then the young woman confided in him the terrible secret of which chance had already communicated to him a part in front of the Samaritaine. This was their mutual declaration of love.

D’Artagnan was radiant with joy and pride. This secret which he possessed, this woman whom he loved! Confidence and love made him a giant.

“I go,” said he; “I go at once.”

“How, you will go!” said Mme. Bonacieux; “and your regiment, your captain?”

“By my soul, you had made me forget all that, dear Constance! Yes, you are right; a furlough is needful.”

“Still another obstacle,” murmured Mme. Bonacieux, sorrowfully.

“As to that,” cried d’Artagnan, after a moment of reflection, “I shall surmount it, be assured.”

“How so?”

“I will go this very evening to Tréville, whom I will request to ask this favor for me of his brother-in-law, Monsieur Dessessart.”

“But another thing.”

“What?” asked d’Artagnan, seeing that Mme. Bonacieux hesitated to continue.

“You have, perhaps, no money?”

“Perhaps is too much,” said d’Artagnan, smiling.

“Then,” replied Mme. Bonacieux, opening a cupboard and taking from it the very bag which a half hour before her husband had caressed so affectionately, “take this bag.”

“The cardinal’s?” cried d’Artagnan, breaking into a loud laugh, he having heard, as may be remembered, thanks to the broken boards, every syllable of the conversation between the mercer and his wife.

“The cardinal’s,” replied Mme. Bonacieux. “You see it makes a very respectable appearance.”

“Pardieu,” cried d’Artagnan, “it will be a double amusing affair to save the queen with the cardinal’s money!”

“You are an amiable and charming young man,” said Mme. Bonacieux. “Be assured you will not find her Majesty ungrateful.”

“Oh, I am already grandly recompensed!” cried d’Artagnan. “I love you; you permit me to tell you that I do—that is already more happiness than I dared to hope.”

“Silence!” said Mme. Bonacieux, starting.

“What!”

“Someone is talking in the street.”

“It is the voice of—”

“Of my husband! Yes, I recognize it!”

D’Artagnan ran to the door and pushed the bolt.

“He shall not come in before I am gone,” said he; “and when I am gone, you can open to him.”

“But I ought to be gone, too. And the disappearance of his money; how am I to justify it if I am here?”

“You are right; we must go out.”

“Go out? How? He will see us if we go out.”

“Then you must come up into my room.”

“Ah,” said Mme. Bonacieux, “you speak that in a tone that frightens me!”

Mme. Bonacieux pronounced these words with tears in her eyes. D’Artagnan saw those tears, and much disturbed, softened, he threw himself at her feet.

“With me you will be as safe as in a temple; I give you my word of a gentleman.”

“Let us go,” said she, “I place full confidence in you, my friend!”

D’Artagnan drew back the bolt with precaution, and both, light as shadows, glided through the interior door into the passage, ascended the stairs as quietly as possible, and entered d’Artagnan’s chambers.

Once there, for greater security, the young man barricaded the door. They both approached the window, and through a slit in the shutter they saw Bonacieux talking with a man in a cloak.

At sight of this man, d’Artagnan started, and half drawing his sword, sprang toward the door.

It was the man of Meung.

“What are you going to do?” cried Mme. Bonacieux; “you will ruin us all!”

“But I have sworn to kill that man!” said d’Artagnan.

“Your life is devoted from this moment, and does not belong to you. In the name of the queen I forbid you to throw yourself into any peril which is foreign to that of your journey.”

“And do you command nothing in your own name?”

“In my name,” said Mme. Bonacieux, with great emotion, “in my name I beg you! But listen; they appear to be speaking of me.”

D’Artagnan drew near the window, and lent his ear.

M Bonacieux had opened his door, and seeing the apartment, had returned to the man in the cloak, whom he had left alone for an instant.

“She is gone,” said he; “she must have returned to the Louvre.”

“You are sure,” replied the stranger, “that she did not suspect the intentions with which you went out?”

“No,” replied Bonacieux, with a self-sufficient air, “she is too superficial a woman.”

“Is the young Guardsman at home?”

“I do not think he is; as you see, his shutter is closed, and you can see no light shine through the chinks of the shutters.”

“All the same, it is well to be certain.”

“How so?”

“By knocking at his door. Go.”

“I will ask his servant.”

Bonacieux re-entered the house, passed through the same door that had afforded a passage for the two fugitives, went up to d’Artagnan’s door, and knocked.

No one answered. Porthos, in order to make a greater display, had that evening borrowed Planchet. As to d’Artagnan, he took care not to give the least sign of existence.

The moment the hand of Bonacieux sounded on the door, the two young people felt their hearts bound within them.

“There is nobody within,” said Bonacieux.

“Never mind. Let us return to your apartment. We shall be safer there than in the doorway.”

“Ah, my God!” whispered Mme. Bonacieux, “we shall hear no more.”

“On the contrary,” said d’Artagnan, “we shall hear better.”

D’Artagnan raised the three or four boards which made his chamber another ear of Dionysius, spread a carpet on the floor, went upon his knees, and made a sign to Mme. Bonacieux to stoop as he did toward the opening.

“You are sure there is nobody there?” said the stranger.

“I will answer for it,” said Bonacieux.

“And you think that your wife—”

“Has returned to the Louvre.”

“Without speaking to anyone but yourself?”

“I am sure of it.”

“That is an important point, do you understand?”

“Then the news I brought you is of value?”

“The greatest, my dear Bonacieux; I don’t conceal this from you.”

“Then the cardinal will be pleased with me?”

“I have no doubt of it.”

“The great cardinal!”

“Are you sure, in her conversation with you, that your wife mentioned no names?”

“I think not.”

“She did not name Madame de Chevreuse, the Duke of Buckingham, or Madame de Vernet?”

“No; she only told me she wished to send me to London to serve the interests of an illustrious personage.”

“The traitor!” murmured Mme. Bonacieux.

“Silence!” said d’Artagnan, taking her hand, which, without thinking of it, she abandoned to him.

“Never mind,” continued the man in the cloak; “you were a fool not to have pretended to accept the mission. You would then be in present possession of the letter. The state, which is now threatened, would be safe, and you—”

“And I?”

“Well you—the cardinal would have given you letters of nobility.”

“Did he tell you so?”

“Yes, I know that he meant to afford you that agreeable surprise.”

“Be satisfied,” replied Bonacieux; “my wife adores me, and there is yet time.”

“The ninny!” murmured Mme. Bonacieux.

“Silence!” said d’Artagnan, pressing her hand more closely.

“How is there still time?” asked the man in the cloak.

“I go to the Louvre; I ask for Mme. Bonacieux; I say that I have reflected; I renew the affair; I obtain the letter, and I run directly to the cardinal.”

“Well, go quickly! I will return soon to learn the result of your trip.”

The stranger went out.

“Infamous!” said Mme. Bonacieux, addressing this epithet to her husband.

“Silence!” said d’Artagnan, pressing her hand still more warmly.

A terrible howling interrupted these reflections of d’Artagnan and Mme. Bonacieux. It was her husband, who had discovered the disappearance of the moneybag, and was crying “Thieves!”

“Oh, my God!” cried Mme. Bonacieux, “he will rouse the whole quarter.”

Bonacieux called a long time; but as such cries, on account of their frequency, brought nobody in the Rue des Fossoyeurs, and as lately the mercer’s house had a bad name, finding that nobody came, he went out continuing to call, his voice being heard fainter and fainter as he went in the direction of the Rue du Bac.

“Now he is gone, it is your turn to get out,” said Mme. Bonacieux. “Courage, my friend, but above all, prudence, and think what you owe to the queen.”

“To her and to you!” cried d’Artagnan. “Be satisfied, beautiful Constance. I shall become worthy of her gratitude; but shall I likewise return worthy of your love?”

The young woman only replied by the beautiful glow which mounted to her cheeks. A few seconds afterward d’Artagnan also went out enveloped in a large cloak, which ill-concealed the sheath of a long sword.

Mme. Bonacieux followed him with her eyes, with that long, fond look with which he had turned the angle of the street, she fell on her knees, and clasping her hands, “Oh, my God,” cried she, “protect the queen, protect me!”