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Twenty Years After

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Chapter 43. In which it is proved that first Impulses are oftentimes the best.


The three gentlemen took the road to Picardy, a road so well known to them and which recalled to Athos and Aramis some of the most picturesque adventures of their youth.

“If Mousqueton were with us,” observed Athos, on reaching the spot where they had had a dispute with the paviers, “how he would tremble at passing this! Do you remember, Aramis, that it was here he received that famous bullet wound?”

“By my faith, ‘twould be excusable in him to tremble,” replied Aramis, “for even I feel a shudder at the recollection; hold, just above that tree is the little spot where I thought I was killed.”

It was soon time for Grimaud to recall the past. Arriving before the inn at which his master and himself had made such an enormous repast, he approached Athos and said, showing him the airhole of the cellar:

“Sausages!”

Athos began to laugh, for this juvenile escapade of his appeared to be as amusing as if some one had related it of another person.

At last, after traveling two days and a night, they arrived at Boulogne toward the evening, favored by magnificent weather. Boulogne was a strong position, then almost a deserted town, built entirely on the heights; what is now called the lower town did not then exist.

“Gentlemen,” said De Winter, on reaching the gate of the town, “let us do here as at Paris--let us separate to avoid suspicion. I know an inn, little frequented, but of which the host is entirely devoted to me. I will go there, where I expect to find letters, and you go to the first tavern in the town, to L’Epee du Grand Henri for instance, refresh yourselves, and in two hours be upon the jetty; our boat is waiting for us there.”

The matter being thus decided, the two friends found, about two hundred paces further, the tavern indicated. Their horses were fed, but not unsaddled; the grooms supped, for it was already late, and their two masters, impatient to return, appointed a place of meeting with them on the jetty and desired them on no account to exchange a word with any one. It is needless to say that this caution concerned Blaisois alone--long enough since it had been a useless one to Grimaud.

Athos and Aramis walked down toward the port. From their dress, covered with dust, and from a certain easy manner by means of which a man accustomed to travel is always recognizable, the two friends excited the attention of a few promenaders. There was more especially one upon whom their arrival had produced a decided impression. This man, whom they had noticed from the first for the same reason they had themselves been remarked by others, was walking in a listless way up and down the jetty. From the moment he perceived them he did not cease to look at them and seemed to burn with the wish to speak to them.

On reaching the jetty Athos and Aramis stopped to look at a little boat made fast to a pile and ready rigged as if waiting to start.

“That is doubtless our boat,” said Athos.

“Yes,” replied Aramis, “and the sloop out there making ready to sail must be that which is to take us to our destination; now,” continued he, “if only De Winter does not keep us waiting. It is not at all amusing here; there is not a single woman passing.”

“Hush!” said Athos, “we are overheard.”

In truth, the walker, who, during the observations of the two friends, had passed and repassed behind them several times, stopped at the name of De Winter; but as his face betrayed no emotion at mention of this name, it might have been by chance he stood so still.

“Gentlemen,” said the man, who was young and pale, bowing with ease and courtesy, “pardon my curiosity, but I see you come from Paris, or at least that you are strangers at Boulogne.”

“We come from Paris, yes,” replied Athos, with the same courtesy; “what is there we can do for you?”

“Sir,” said the young man, “will you be so good as to tell me if it be true that Cardinal Mazarin is no longer minister?”

“That is a strange question,” said Aramis.

“He is and he is not,” replied Athos; “that is to say, he is dismissed by one-half of France, but by intrigues and promises he makes the other half sustain him; you will perceive that this may last a long time.”

“However, sir,” said the stranger, “he has neither fled nor is in prison?”

“No, sir, not at this moment at least.”

“Sirs, accept my thanks for your politeness,” said the young man, retreating.

“What do you think of that interrogator?” asked Aramis.

“I think he is either a dull provincial person or a spy in search of information.”

“And you replied to him with that notion?”

“Nothing warranted me to answer him otherwise; he was polite to me and I was so to him.”

“But if he be a spy----”

“What do you think a spy would be about here? We are not living in the time of Cardinal Richelieu, who would have closed the ports on bare suspicion.”

“It matters not; you were wrong to reply to him as you did,” continued Aramis, following with his eyes the young man, now vanishing behind the cliffs.

“And you,” said Athos, “you forget that you committed a very different kind of imprudence in pronouncing Lord de Winter’s name. Did you not see that at that name the young man stopped?”

“More reason, then, when he spoke to you, for sending him about his business.”

“A quarrel?” asked Athos.

“And since when have you become afraid of a quarrel?”

“I am always afraid of a quarrel when I am expected at any place and when such a quarrel might possibly prevent my reaching it. Besides, let me own something to you. I am anxious to see that young man nearer.”

“And wherefore?”

“Aramis, you will certainly laugh at me, you will say that I am always repeating the same thing, you will call me the most timorous of visionaries; but to whom do you see a resemblance in that young man?”

“In beauty or on the contrary?” asked Aramis, laughing.

“In ugliness, in so far as a man can resemble a woman.”

“Ah! Egad!” cried Aramis, “you set me thinking. No, in truth you are no visionary, my dear friend, and now I think of it--you--yes, i’faith, you’re right--those delicate, yet firm-set lips, those eyes which seem always at the command of the intellect and never of the heart! Yes, it is one of Milady’s bastards!”

“You laugh Aramis.”

“From habit, that is all. I swear to you, I like no better than yourself to meet that viper in my path.”

“Ah! here is De Winter coming,” said Athos.

“Good! one thing now is only awanting and that is, that our grooms should not keep us waiting.”

“No,” said Athos. “I see them about twenty paces behind my lord. I recognize Grimaud by his long legs and his determined slouch. Tony carries our muskets.”

“Then we set sail to-night?” asked Aramis, glancing toward the west, where the sun had left a single golden cloud, which, dipping into the ocean, appeared by degrees to be extinguished.

“Probably,” said Athos.

“Diable!” resumed Aramis, “I have little fancy for the sea by day, still less at night; the sounds of wind and wave, the frightful movements of the vessel; I confess I prefer the convent of Noisy.”

Athos smiled sadly, for it was evident that he was thinking of other things as he listened to his friend and moved toward De Winter.

“What ails our friend?” said Aramis, “he resembles one of Dante’s damned, whose neck Apollyon has dislocated and who are ever looking at their heels. What the devil makes him glower thus behind him?”

When De Winter perceived them, in his turn he advanced toward them with surprising rapidity.

“What is the matter, my lord?” said Athos, “and what puts you out of breath thus?”

“Nothing,” replied De Winter; “nothing; and yet in passing the heights it seemed to me----” and he again turned round.

Athos glanced at Aramis.

“But let us go,” continued De Winter; “let us be off; the boat must be waiting for us and there is our sloop at anchor--do you see it there? I wish I were on board already,” and he looked back again.

“He has seen him,” said Athos, in a low tone, to Aramis.

They had reached the ladder which led to the boat. De Winter made the grooms who carried the arms and the porters with the luggage descend first and was about to follow them.

At this moment Athos perceived a man walking on the seashore parallel to the jetty, and hastening his steps, as if to reach the other side of the port, scarcely twenty steps from the place of embarking. He fancied in the darkness that he recognized the young man who had questioned him. Athos now descended the ladder in his turn, without losing sight of the young man. The latter, to make a short cut, had appeared on a sluice.

“He certainly bodes us no good,” said Athos; “but let us embark; once out at sea, let him come.”

And Athos sprang into the boat, which was immediately pushed off and which soon sped seawards under the efforts of four stalwart rowers.

But the young man had begun to follow, or rather to advance before the boat. She was obliged to pass between the point of the jetty, surmounted by a beacon just lighted, and a rock which jutted out. They saw him in the distance climbing the rock in order to look down upon the boat as it passed.

“Ay, but,” said Aramis, “that young fellow is decidedly a spy.”

“Which is the young man?” asked De Winter, turning around.

“He who followed us and spoke to us awaits us there; behold!”

De Winter turned and followed the direction of Aramis’s finger. The beacon bathed with light the little strait through which they were about to pass and the rock where the young man stood with bare head and crossed arms.

“It is he!” exclaimed De Winter, seizing the arm of Athos; “it is he! I thought I recognized him and I was not mistaken.”

“Whom do you mean?” asked Aramis.

“Milady’s son,” replied Athos.

“The monk!” exclaimed Grimaud.

The young man heard these words and bent so forward over the rock that one might have supposed he was about to precipitate himself from it.

“Yes, it is I, my uncle--I, the son of Milady--I, the monk--I, the secretary and friend of Cromwell--I know you now, both you and your companions.”

In that boat sat three men, unquestionably brave, whose courage no man would have dared dispute; nevertheless, at that voice, that accent and those gestures, they felt a chill access of terror cramp their veins. As for Grimaud, his hair stood on end and drops of sweat ran down his brow.

“Ah!” exclaimed Aramis, “that is the nephew, the monk, and the son of Milady, as he says himself.”

“Alas, yes,” murmured De Winter.

“Then wait,” said Aramis; and with the terrible coolness which on important occasions he showed, he took one of the muskets from Tony, shouldered and aimed it at the young man, who stood, like the accusing angel, upon the rock.

“Fire!” cried Grimaud, unconsciously.

Athos threw himself on the muzzle of the gun and arrested the shot which was about to be fired.

“The devil take you,” said Aramis. “I had him so well at the point of my gun I should have sent a ball into his breast.”

“It is enough to have killed the mother,” said Athos, hoarsely.

“The mother was a wretch, who struck at us all and at those dear to us.”

“Yes, but the son has done us no harm.”

Grimaud, who had risen to watch the effect of the shot, fell back hopeless, wringing his hands.

The young man burst into a laugh.

“Ah, it is certainly you!” he cried. “I know you even better now.”

His mocking laugh and threatening words passed over their heads, carried by the breeze, until lost in the depths of the horizon. Aramis shuddered.

“Be calm,” exclaimed Athos, “for Heaven’s sake! have we ceased to be men?”

“No,” said Aramis, “but that fellow is a fiend; and ask the uncle whether I was wrong to rid him of his dear nephew.”

De Winter only replied by a groan.

“It was all up with him,” continued Aramis; “ah I much fear that with all your wisdom such mercy yet will prove supernal folly.”

Athos took Lord de Winter’s hand and tried to turn the conversation.

“When shall we land in England?” he asked; but De Winter seemed not to hear his words and made no reply.

“Hold, Athos,” said Aramis, “perhaps there is yet time. See if he is still in the same place.”

Athos turned around with an effort; the sight of the young man was evidently painful to him, and there he still was, in fact, on the rock, the beacon shedding around him, as it were, a doubtful aureole.

“Decidedly, Aramis,” said Athos, “I think I was wrong not to let you fire.”

“Hold your tongue,” replied Aramis; “you would make me weep, if such a thing were possible.”

At this moment they were hailed by a voice from the sloop and a few seconds later men, servants and baggage were aboard. The captain was only waiting for his passengers; hardly had they put foot on deck ere her head was turned towards Hastings, where they were to disembark. At this instant the three friends turned, in spite of themselves, a last look on the rock, upon the menacing figure which pursued them and now stood out with a distinctness still. Then a voice reached them once more, sending this threat: “To our next meeting, sirs, in England.”


Chapter 44. Te Deum for the Victory of Lens.


The bustle which had been observed by Henrietta Maria and for which she had vainly sought to discover a reason, was occasioned by the battle of Lens, announced by the prince’s messenger, the Duc de Chatillon, who had taken such a noble part in the engagement; he was, besides, charged to hang five and twenty flags, taken from the Lorraine party, as well as from the Spaniards, upon the arches of Notre Dame.

Such news was decisive; it destroyed, in favor of the court, the struggle commenced with parliament. The motive given for all the taxes summarily imposed and to which the parliament had made opposition, was the necessity of sustaining the honor of France and the uncertain hope of beating the enemy. Now, since the affair of Nordlingen, they had experienced nothing but reverses; the parliament had a plea for calling Mazarin to account for imaginary victories, always promised, ever deferred; but this time there really had been fighting, a triumph and a complete one. And this all knew so well that it was a double victory for the court, a victory at home and abroad; so that even when the young king learned the news he exclaimed, “Ah, gentlemen of the parliament, we shall see what you will say now!” Upon which the queen had pressed the royal child to her heart, whose haughty and unruly sentiments were in such harmony with her own. A council was called on the same evening, but nothing transpired of what had been decided on. It was only known that on the following Sunday a Te Deum would be sung at Notre Dame in honor of the victory of Lens.

The following Sunday, then, the Parisians arose with joy; at that period a Te Deum was a grand affair; this kind of ceremony had not then been abused and it produced a great effect. The shops were deserted, houses closed; every one wished to see the young king with his mother, and the famous Cardinal Mazarin whom they hated so much that no one wished to be deprived of his presence. Moreover, great liberty prevailed throughout the immense crowd; every opinion was openly expressed and chorused, so to speak, of coming insurrection, as the thousand bells of all the Paris churches rang out the Te Deum. The police belonging to the city being formed by the city itself, nothing threatening presented itself to disturb this concert of universal hatred or freeze the frequent scoffs of slanderous lips.

Nevertheless, at eight o’clock in the morning the regiment of the queen’s guards, commanded by Guitant, under whom was his nephew Comminges, marched publicly, preceded by drums and trumpets, filing off from the Palais Royal as far as Notre Dame, a manoeuvre which the Parisians witnessed tranquilly, delighted as they were with military music and brilliant uniforms.

Friquet had put on his Sunday clothes, under the pretext of having a swollen face which he had managed to simulate by introducing a handful of cherry kernels into one side of his mouth, and had procured a whole holiday from Bazin. On leaving Bazin, Friquet started off to the Palais Royal, where he arrived at the moment of the turning out of the regiment of guards; and as he had only gone there for the enjoyment of seeing it and hearing the music, he took his place at their head, beating the drum on two pieces of slate and passing from that exercise to that of the trumpet, which he counterfeited quite naturally with his mouth in a manner which had more than once called forth the praises of amateurs of imitative harmony.

This amusement lasted from the Barriere des Sergens to the place of Notre Dame, and Friquet found in it very real enjoyment; but when at last the regiment separated, penetrated the heart of the city and placed itself at the extremity of the Rue Saint Christophe, near the Rue Cocatrix, in which Broussel lived, then Friquet remembered that he had not had breakfast; and after thinking in which direction he had better turn his steps in order to accomplish this important act of the day, he reflected deeply and decided that Councillor Broussel should bear the cost of this repast.

In consequence he took to his heels, arrived breathlessly at the councillor’s door, and knocked violently.

His mother, the councillor’s old servant, opened it.

“What doest thou here, good-for-nothing?” she said, “and why art thou not at Notre Dame?”

“I have been there, mother,” said Friquet, “but I saw things happen of which Master Broussel ought to be warned, and so with Monsieur Bazin’s permission--you know, mother, Monsieur Bazin, the verger--I came to speak to Monsieur Broussel.”

“And what hast thou to say, boy, to Monsieur Broussel?”

“I wish to tell him,” replied Friquet, screaming with all his might, “that there is a whole regiment of guards coming this way. And as I hear everywhere that at the court they are ill-disposed to him, I wish to warn him, that he may be on his guard.”

Broussel heard the scream of the young oddity, and, enchanted with this excess of zeal, came down to the first floor, for he was, in truth, working in his room on the second.

“Well,” said he, “friend, what matters the regiment of guards to us, and art thou not mad to make such a disturbance? Knowest thou not that it is the custom of these soldiers to act thus and that it is usual for the regiment to form themselves into two solid walls when the king goes by?”

Friquet counterfeited surprise, and twisting his new cap around in his fingers, said:

“It is not astonishing for you to know it, Monsieur Broussel, who knows everything; but as for me, by holy truth, I did not know it and I thought I would give you good advice; you must not be angry with me for that, Monsieur Broussel.”

“On the contrary, my boy, on the contrary, I am pleased with your zeal. Dame Nanette, look for those apricots which Madame de Longueville sent to us yesterday from Noisy and give half a dozen of them to your son, with a crust of new bread.”

“Oh, thank you, sir, thank you, Monsieur Broussel,” said Friquet; “I am so fond of apricots!”

Broussel then proceeded to his wife’s room and asked for breakfast; it was nine o’clock. The councillor placed himself at the window; the street was completely deserted, but in the distance was heard, like the noise of the tide rushing in, the deep hum of the populous waves increasing now around Notre Dame.

This noise redoubled when D’Artagnan, with a company of musketeers, placed himself at the gates of Notre Dame to secure the service of the church. He had instructed Porthos to profit by this opportunity to see the ceremony; and Porthos, in full dress, mounted his finest horse, taking the part of supernumerary musketeer, as D’Artagnan had so often done formerly. The sergeant of this company, a veteran of the Spanish wars, had recognized Porthos, his old companion, and very soon all those who served under him were placed in possession of startling facts concerning the honor of the ancient musketeers of Treville. Porthos had not only been well received by the company, but he was moreover looked on with great admiration.

At ten o’clock the guns of the Louvre announced the departure of the king, and then a movement, similar to that of trees in a stormy wind that bend and writhe with agitated tops, ran though the multitude, which was compressed behind the immovable muskets of the guard. At last the king appeared with the queen in a gilded chariot. Ten other carriages followed, containing the ladies of honor, the officers of the royal household, and the court.

“God save the king!” was the cry in every direction; the young monarch gravely put his head out of the window, looked sufficiently grateful and even bowed; at which the cries of the multitude were renewed.

Just as the court was settling down in the cathedral, a carriage, bearing the arms of Comminges, quitted the line of the court carriages and proceeded slowly to the end of the Rue Saint Christophe, now entirely deserted. When it arrived there, four guards and a police officer, who accompanied it, mounted into the heavy machine and closed the shutters; then through an opening cautiously made, the policeman began to watch the length of the Rue Cocatrix, as if he was waiting for some one.

All the world was occupied with the ceremony, so that neither the chariot nor the precautions taken by those who were within it had been observed. Friquet, whose eye, ever on the alert, could alone have discovered them, had gone to devour his apricots upon the entablature of a house in the square of Notre Dame. Thence he saw the king, the queen and Monsieur Mazarin, and heard the mass as well as if he had been on duty.

Toward the end of the service, the queen, seeing Comminges standing near her, waiting for a confirmation of the order she had given him before quitting the Louvre, said in a whisper:

“Go, Comminges, and may God aid you!”

Comminges immediately left the church and entered the Rue Saint Christophe. Friquet, seeing this fine officer thus walk away, followed by two guards, amused himself by pursuing them and did this so much the more gladly as the ceremony ended at that instant and the king remounted his carriage.

Hardly had the police officer observed Comminges at the end of the Rue Cocatrix when he said one word to the coachman, who at once put his vehicle into motion and drove up before Broussel’s door. Comminges knocked at the door at the same moment, and Friquet was waiting behind Comminges until the door should be opened.

“What dost thou there, rascal?” asked Comminges.

“I want to go into Master Broussel’s house, captain,” replied Friquet, in that wheedling way the “gamins” of Paris know so well how to assume when necessary.

“And on what floor does he live?” asked Comminges.

“In the whole house,” said Friquet; “the house belongs to him; he occupies the second floor when he works and descends to the first to take his meals; he must be at dinner now; it is noon.”

“Good,” said Comminges.

At this moment the door was opened, and having questioned the servant the officer learned that Master Broussel was at home and at dinner.

Broussel was seated at the table with his family, having his wife opposite to him, his two daughters by his side, and his son, Louvieres, whom we have already seen when the accident happened to the councillor--an accident from which he had quite recovered--at the bottom of the table. The worthy man, restored to perfect health, was tasting the fine fruit which Madame de Longueville had sent to him.

At sight of the officer Broussel was somewhat moved, but seeing him bow politely he rose and bowed also. Still, in spite of this reciprocal politeness, the countenances of the women betrayed a certain amount of uneasiness; Louvieres became very pale and waited impatiently for the officer to explain himself.

“Sir,” said Comminges, “I am the bearer of an order from the king.”

“Very well, sir,” replied Broussel, “what is this order?” And he held out his hand.

“I am commissioned to seize your person, sir,” said Comminges, in the same tone and with the same politeness; “and if you will believe me you had better spare yourself the trouble of reading that long letter and follow me.”

A thunderbolt falling in the midst of these good people, so peacefully assembled there, would not have produced a more appalling effect. It was a horrible thing at that period to be imprisoned by the enmity of the king. Louvieres sprang forward to snatch his sword, which stood against a chair in a corner of the room; but a glance from the worthy Broussel, who in the midst of it all did not lose his presence of mind, checked this foolhardy action of despair. Madame Broussel, separated by the width of the table from her husband, burst into tears, and the young girls clung to their father’s arms.

“Come, sir,” said Comminges, “make haste; you must obey the king.”

“Sir,” said Broussel, “I am in bad health and cannot give myself up a prisoner in this state; I must have time.”

“It is impossible,” said Comminges; “the order is strict and must be put into execution this instant.”

“Impossible!” said Louvieres; “sir, beware of driving us to despair.”

“Impossible!” cried a shrill voice from the end of the room.

Comminges turned and saw Dame Nanette, her eyes flashing with anger and a broom in her hand.

“My good Nanette, be quiet, I beseech you,” said Broussel.

“Me! keep quiet while my master is being arrested! he, the support, the liberator, the father of the people! Ah! well, yes; you have to know me yet. Are you going?” added she to Comminges.

The latter smiled.

“Come, sir,” said he, addressing Broussel, “silence that woman and follow me.”

“Silence me! me! me!” said Nanette. “Ah! yet one wants some one besides you for that, my fine king’s cockatoo! You shall see.” And Dame Nanette sprang to the window, threw it open, and in such a piercing voice that it might have been heard in the square of Notre Dame:

“Help!” she screamed, “my master is being arrested; the Councillor Broussel is being arrested! Help!”

“Sir,” said Comminges, “declare yourself at once; will you obey or do you intend to rebel against the king?”

“I obey, I obey, sir!” cried Broussel, trying to disengage himself from the grasp of his two daughters and by a look restrain his son, who seemed determined to dispute authority.

“In that case,” commanded Comminges, “silence that old woman.”

“Ah! old woman!” screamed Nanette.

And she began to shriek more loudly, clinging to the bars of the window:

“Help! help! for Master Broussel, who is arrested because he has defended the people! Help!”

Comminges seized the servant around the waist and would have dragged her from her post; but at that instant a treble voice, proceeding from a kind of entresol, was heard screeching:

“Murder! fire! assassins! Master Broussel is being killed! Master Broussel is being strangled.”

It was Friquet’s voice; and Dame Nanette, feeling herself supported, recommenced with all her strength to sound her shrilly squawk.

Many curious faces had already appeared at the windows and the people attracted to the end of the street began to run, first men, then groups, and then a crowd of people; hearing cries and seeing a chariot they could not understand it; but Friquet sprang from the entresol on to the top of the carriage.

“They want to arrest Master Broussel!” he cried; “the guards are in the carriage and the officer is upstairs!”

The crowd began to murmur and approached the house. The two guards who had remained in the lane mounted to the aid of Comminges; those who were in the chariot opened the doors and presented arms.

“Don’t you see them?” cried Friquet, “don’t you see? there they are!”

The coachman turning around, gave Friquet a slash with his whip which made him scream with pain.

“Ah! devil’s coachman!” cried Friquet, “you’re meddling too! Wait!”

And regaining his entresol he overwhelmed the coachman with every projectile he could lay hands on.

The tumult now began to increase; the street was not able to contain the spectators who assembled from every direction; the crowd invaded the space which the dreaded pikes of the guards had till then kept clear between them and the carriage. The soldiers, pushed back by these living walls, were in danger of being crushed against the spokes of the wheels and the panels of the carriages. The cries which the police officer repeated twenty times: “In the king’s name,” were powerless against this formidable multitude--seemed, on the contrary, to exasperate it still more; when, at the shout, “In the name of the king,” an officer ran up, and seeing the uniforms ill-treated, he sprang into the scuffle sword in hand, and brought unexpected help to the guards. This gentleman was a young man, scarcely sixteen years of age, now white with anger. He leaped from his charger, placed his back against the shaft of the carriage, making a rampart of his horse, drew his pistols from their holsters and fastened them to his belt, and began to fight with the back sword, like a man accustomed to the handling of his weapon.

During ten minutes he alone kept the crowd at bay; at last Comminges appeared, pushing Broussel before him.

“Let us break the carriage!” cried the people.

“In the king’s name!” cried Comminges.

“The first who advances is a dead man!” cried Raoul, for it was in fact he, who, feeling himself pressed and almost crushed by a gigantic citizen, pricked him with the point of his sword and sent him howling back.

Comminges, so to speak, threw Broussel into the carriage and sprang in after him. At this moment a shot was fired and a ball passed through the hat of Comminges and broke the arm of one of the guards. Comminges looked up and saw amidst the smoke the threatening face of Louvieres appearing at the window of the second floor.

“Very well, sir,” said Comminges, “you shall hear of this anon.”

“And you of me, sir,” said Louvieres; “and we shall see then who can speak the loudest.”

Friquet and Nanette continued to shout; the cries, the noise of the shot and the intoxicating smell of powder produced their usual maddening effects.

“Down with the officer! down with him!” was the cry.

“One step nearer,” said Comminges, putting down the sashes, that the interior of the carriage might be well seen, and placing his sword on his prisoner’s breast, “one step nearer, and I kill the prisoner; my orders were to carry him off alive or dead. I will take him dead, that’s all.”

A terrible cry was heard, and the wife and daughters of Broussel held up their hands in supplication to the people; the latter knew that this officer, who was so pale, but who appeared so determined, would keep his word; they continued to threaten, but they began to disperse.

“Drive to the palace,” said Comminges to the coachman, who was by then more dead than alive.

The man whipped his animals, which cleared a way through the crowd; but on arriving on the Quai they were obliged to stop; the carriage was upset, the horses carried off, stifled, mangled by the crowd. Raoul, on foot, for he had not time to mount his horse again, tired, like the guards, of distributing blows with the flat of his sword, had recourse to its point. But this last and dreaded resource served only to exasperate the multitude. From time to time a shot from a musket or the blade of a rapier flashed among the crowd; projectiles continued to hail down from the windows and some shots were heard, the echo of which, though they were probably fired in the air, made all hearts vibrate. Voices, unheard except on days of revolution, were distinguished; faces were seen that only appeared on days of bloodshed. Cries of “Death! death to the guards! to the Seine with the officer!” were heard above all the noise, deafening as it was. Raoul, his hat in ribbons, his face bleeding, felt not only his strength but also his reason going; a red mist covered his sight, and through this mist he saw a hundred threatening arms stretched over him, ready to seize upon him when he fell. The guards were unable to help any one--each one was occupied with his self-preservation. All was over; carriages, horses, guards, and perhaps even the prisoner were about to be torn to shreds, when all at once a voice well known to Raoul was heard, and suddenly a great sword glittered in the air; at the same time the crowd opened, upset, trodden down, and an officer of the musketeers, striking and cutting right and left, rushed up to Raoul and took him in his arms just as he was about to fall.

“God’s blood!” cried the officer, “have they killed him? Woe to them if it be so!”

And he turned around, so stern with anger, strength and threat, that the most excited rebels hustled back on one another, in order to escape, and some of them even rolled into the Seine.

“Monsieur d’Artagnan!” murmured Raoul.

“Yes, ‘sdeath! in person, and fortunately it seems for you, my young friend. Come on, here, you others,” he continued, rising in his stirrups, raising his sword, and addressing those musketeers who had not been able to follow his rapid onslaught. “Come, sweep away all that for me! Shoulder muskets! Present arms! Aim----”

At this command the mountain of populace thinned so suddenly that D’Artagnan could not repress a burst of Homeric laughter.

“Thank you, D’Artagnan,” said Comminges, showing half of his body through the window of the broken vehicle, “thanks, my young friend; your name--that I may mention it to the queen.”

Raoul was about to reply when D’Artagnan bent down to his ear.

“Hold your tongue,” said he, “and let me answer. Do not lose time, Comminges,” he continued; “get out of the carriage if you can and make another draw up; be quick, or in five minutes the mob will be on us again with swords and muskets and you will be killed. Hold! there’s a carriage coming over yonder.”

Then bending again to Raoul, he whispered: “Above all things do not divulge your name.”

“That’s right. I will go,” said Comminges; “and if they come back, fire!”

“Not at all--not at all,” replied D’Artagnan; “let no one move. On the contrary, one shot at this moment would be paid for dearly to-morrow.”

Comminges took his four guards and as many musketeers and ran to the carriage, from which he made the people inside dismount, and brought them to the vehicle which had upset. But when it was necessary to convey the prisoner from one carriage to the other, the people, catching sight of him whom they called their liberator, uttered every imaginable cry and knotted themselves once more around the vehicle.

“Start, start!” said D’Artagnan. “There are ten men to accompany you. I will keep twenty to hold in check the mob; go, and lose not a moment. Ten men for Monsieur de Comminges.”

As the carriage started off the cries were redoubled and more than ten thousand people thronged the Quai and overflowed the Pont Neuf and adjacent streets. A few shots were fired and one musketeer was wounded.

“Forward!” cried D’Artagnan, driven to extremities, biting his moustache; and then he charged with his twenty men and dispersed them in fear. One man alone remained in his place, gun in hand.

“Ah!” he exclaimed, “it is thou who wouldst have him assassinated? Wait an instant.” And he pointed his gun at D’Artagnan, who was riding toward him at full speed. D’Artagnan bent down to his horse’s neck, the young man fired, and the ball severed the feathers from the hat. The horse started, brushed against the imprudent man, who thought by his strength alone to stay the tempest, and he fell against the wall. D’Artagnan pulled up his horse, and whilst his musketeers continued to charge, he returned and bent with drawn sword over the man he had knocked down.

“Oh, sir!” exclaimed Raoul, recognizing the young man as having seen him in the Rue Cocatrix, “spare him! it is his son!”

D’Artagnan’s arm dropped to his side. “Ah, you are his son!” he said; “that is a different thing.”

“Sir, I surrender,” said Louvieres, presenting his unloaded musket to the officer.

“Eh, no! do not surrender, egad! On the contrary, be off, and quickly. If I take you, you will be hung!”

The young man did not wait to be told twice, but passing under the horse’s head disappeared at the corner of the Rue Guenegaud.

“I’faith!” said D’Artagnan to Raoul, “you were just in time to stay my hand. He was a dead man; and on my honor, if I had discovered that it was his son, I should have regretted having killed him.”

“Ah! sir!” said Raoul, “allow me, after thanking you for that poor fellow’s life, to thank you on my own account. I too, sir, was almost dead when you arrived.”

“Wait, wait, young man; do not fatigue yourself with speaking. We can talk of it afterward.”

Then seeing that the musketeers had cleared the Quai from the Pont Neuf to the Quai Saint Michael, he raised his sword for them to double their speed. The musketeers trotted up, and at the same time the ten men whom D’Artagnan had given to Comminges appeared.

“Halloo!” cried D’Artagnan; “has something fresh happened?”

“Eh, sir!” replied the sergeant, “their vehicle has broken down a second time; it really must be doomed.”

“They are bad managers,” said D’Artagnan, shrugging his shoulders. “When a carriage is chosen, it ought to be strong. The carriage in which a Broussel is to be arrested ought to be able to bear ten thousand men.”

“What are your commands, lieutenant?”

“Take the detachment and conduct him to his place.”

“But you will be left alone?”

“Certainly. So you suppose I have need of an escort? Go.”

The musketeers set off and D’Artagnan was left alone with Raoul.

“Now,” he said, “are you in pain?”

“Yes; my head is not only swimming but burning.”

“What’s the matter with this head?” said D’Artagnan, raising the battered hat. “Ah! ah! a bruise.”

“Yes, I think I received a flower-pot upon my head.”

“Brutes!” said D’Artagnan. “But were you not on horseback? you have spurs.”

“Yes, but I got down to defend Monsieur de Comminges and my horse was taken away. Here it is, I see.”

At this very moment Friquet passed, mounted on Raoul’s horse, waving his parti-colored cap and crying, “Broussel! Broussel!”

“Halloo! stop, rascal!” cried D’Artagnan. “Bring hither that horse.”

Friquet heard perfectly, but he pretended not to do so and tried to continue his road. D’Artagnan felt inclined for an instant to pursue Master Friquet, but not wishing to leave Raoul alone he contented himself with taking a pistol from the holster and cocking it.

Friquet had a quick eye and a fine ear. He saw D’Artagnan’s movement, heard the sound of the click, and stopped at once.

“Ah! it is you, your honor,” he said, advancing toward D’Artagnan; “and I am truly pleased to meet you.”

D’Artagnan looked attentively at Friquet and recognized the little chorister of the Rue de la Calandre.

“Ah! ‘tis thou, rascal!” said he, “come here: so thou hast changed thy trade; thou art no longer a choir boy nor a tavern boy; thou hast become a horse stealer?”

“Ah, your honor, how can you say so?” exclaimed Friquet. “I was seeking the gentleman to whom this horse belongs--an officer, brave and handsome as a youthful Caesar;” then, pretending to see Raoul for the first time:

“Ah! but if I mistake not,” continued he, “here he is; you won’t forget the boy, sir.”

Raoul put his hand in his pocket.

“What are you about?” asked D’Artagnan.

“To give ten francs to this honest fellow,” replied Raoul, taking a pistole from his pocket.

“Ten kicks on his back!” said D’Artagnan; “be off, you little villain, and forget not that I have your address.”

Friquet, who did not expect to be let off so cheaply, bounded off like a gazelle up the Quai a la Rue Dauphine, and disappeared. Raoul mounted his horse, and both leisurely took their way to the Rue Tiquetonne.

D’Artagnan watched over the youth as if he had been his own son.

They arrived without accident at the Hotel de la Chevrette.

The handsome Madeleine announced to D’Artagnan that Planchet had returned, bringing Mousqueton with him, who had heroically borne the extraction of the ball and was as well as his state would permit.

D’Artagnan desired Planchet to be summoned, but he had disappeared.

“Then bring some wine,” said D’Artagnan. “You are much pleased with yourself,” said he to Raoul when they were alone, “are you not?”

“Well, yes,” replied Raoul. “It seems to me I did my duty. I defended the king.”

“And who told you to defend the king?”

“The Comte de la Fere himself.”

“Yes, the king; but to-day you have not fought for the king, you have fought for Mazarin; which is not quite the same thing.”

“But you yourself?”

“Oh, for me; that is another matter. I obey my captain’s orders. As for you, your captain is the prince, understand that rightly; you have no other. But has one ever seen such a wild fellow,” continued he, “making himself a Mazarinist and helping to arrest Broussel! Breathe not a word of that, or the Comte de la Fere will be furious.”

“You think the count will be angry with me?”

“Think it? I’m certain of it; were it not for that, I should thank you, for you have worked for us. However, I scold you instead of him, and in his place; the storm will blow over more easily, believe me. And moreover, my dear child,” continued D’Artagnan, “I am making use of the privilege conceded to me by your guardian.”

“I do not understand you, sir,” said Raoul.

D’Artagnan rose, and taking a letter from his writing-desk, presented it to Raoul. The face of the latter became serious when he had cast his eyes upon the paper.

“Oh, mon Dieu!” he said, raising his fine eyes to D’Artagnan, moist with tears, “the count has left Paris without seeing me?”

“He left four days ago,” said D’Artagnan.

“But this letter seems to intimate that he is about to incur danger, perhaps death.”

“He--he--incur danger of death! No, be not anxious; he is traveling on business and will return ere long. I hope you have no repugnance to accept me as your guardian in the interim.”

“Oh, no, Monsieur d’Artagnan,” said Raoul, “you are such a brave gentleman and the Comte de la Fere has so much affection for you!”

“Eh! Egad! love me too; I will not torment you much, but only on condition that you become a Frondist, my young friend, and a hearty Frondist, too.”

“But can I continue to visit Madame de Chevreuse?”

“I should say you could! and the coadjutor and Madame de Longueville; and if the worthy Broussel were there, whom you so stupidly helped arrest, I should tell you to excuse yourself to him at once and kiss him on both cheeks.”

“Well, sir, I will obey you, although I do not understand you.”

“It is unnecessary for you to understand. Hold,” continued D’Artagnan, turning toward the door, which had just opened, “here is Monsieur du Vallon, who comes with his coat torn.”

“Yes, but in exchange,” said Porthos, covered with perspiration and soiled by dust, “in exchange, I have torn many skins. Those wretches wanted to take away my sword! Deuce take ‘em, what a popular commotion!” continued the giant, in his quiet manner; “but I knocked down more than twenty with the hilt of Balizarde. A draught of wine, D’Artagnan.”

“Oh, I’ll answer for you,” said the Gascon, filling Porthos’s glass to the brim; “but when you have drunk, give me your opinion.”

“Upon what?” asked Porthos.

“Look here,” resumed D’Artagnan; “here is Monsieur de Bragelonne, who determined at all risks to aid the arrest of Broussel and whom I had great difficulty to prevent defending Monsieur de Comminges.”

“The devil!” said Porthos; “and his guardian, what would he have said to that?”

“Do you hear?” interrupted D’Artagnan; “become a Frondist, my friend, belong to the Fronde, and remember that I fill the count’s place in everything;” and he jingled his money.

“Will you come?” said he to Porthos.

“Where?” asked Porthos, filling a second glass of wine.

“To present our respects to the cardinal.”

Porthos swallowed the second glass with the same grace with which he had imbibed the first, took his beaver and followed D’Artagnan. As for Raoul, he remained bewildered with what he had seen, having been forbidden by D’Artagnan to leave the room until the tumult was over.


Chapter 45. The Beggar of St. Eustache.


D’Artagnan had calculated that in not going at once to the Palais Royal he would give Comminges time to arrive before him, and consequently to make the cardinal acquainted with the eminent services which he, D’Artagnan, and his friend had rendered to the queen’s party in the morning.

They were indeed admirably received by Mazarin, who paid them numerous compliments, and announced that they were more than half on their way to obtain what they desired, namely, D’Artagnan his captaincy, Porthos his barony.

D’Artagnan would have preferred money in hand to all that fine talk, for he knew well that to Mazarin it was easy to promise and hard to perform. But, though he held the cardinal’s promises as of little worth, he affected to be completely satisfied, for he was unwilling to discourage Porthos.

Whilst the two friends were with the cardinal, the queen sent for him. Mazarin, thinking that it would be the means of increasing the zeal of his two defenders if he procured them personal thanks from the queen, motioned them to follow him. D’Artagnan and Porthos pointed to their dusty and torn dresses, but the cardinal shook his head.

“Those costumes,” he said, “are of more worth than most of those which you will see on the backs of the queen’s courtiers; they are costumes of battle.”

D’Artagnan and Porthos obeyed. The court of Anne of Austria was full of gayety and animation; for, after having gained a victory over the Spaniard, it had just gained another over the people. Broussel had been conducted out of Paris without further resistance, and was at this time in the prison of Saint Germain; while Blancmesnil, who was arrested at the same time, but whose arrest had been made without difficulty or noise, was safe in the Castle of Vincennes.

Comminges was near the queen, who was questioning him upon the details of his expedition, and every one was listening to his account, when D’Artagnan and Porthos were perceived at the door, behind the cardinal.

“Ah, madame,” said Comminges, hastening to D’Artagnan, “here is one who can tell you better than myself, for he was my protector. Without him I should probably at this moment be a dead fish in the nets at Saint Cloud, for it was a question of nothing less than throwing me into the river. Speak, D’Artagnan, speak.”

D’Artagnan had been a hundred times in the same room with the queen since he had become lieutenant of the musketeers, but her majesty had never once spoken to him.

“Well, sir,” at last said Anne of Austria, “you are silent, after rendering such a service?”

“Madame,” replied D’Artagnan, “I have nought to say, save that my life is ever at your majesty’s service, and that I shall only be happy the day I lose it for you.”

“I know that, sir; I have known that,” said the queen, “a long time; therefore I am delighted to be able thus publicly to mark my gratitude and my esteem.”

“Permit me, madame,” said D’Artagnan, “to reserve a portion for my friend; like myself” (he laid an emphasis on these words) “an ancient musketeer of the company of Treville; he has done wonders.”

“His name?” asked the queen.

“In the regiment,” said D’Artagnan, “he is called Porthos” (the queen started), “but his true name is the Chevalier du Vallon.”

“De Bracieux de Pierrefonds,” added Porthos.

“These names are too numerous for me to remember them all, and I will content myself with the first,” said the queen, graciously. Porthos bowed. At this moment the coadjutor was announced; a cry of surprise ran through the royal assemblage. Although the coadjutor had preached that same morning it was well known that he leaned much to the side of the Fronde; and Mazarin, in requesting the archbishop of Paris to make his nephew preach, had evidently had the intention of administering to Monsieur de Retz one of those Italian kicks he so much enjoyed giving.

The fact was, in leaving Notre Dame the coadjutor had learned the event of the day. Although almost engaged to the leaders of the Fronde he had not gone so far but that retreat was possible should the court offer him the advantages for which he was ambitious and to which the coadjutorship was but a stepping-stone. Monsieur de Retz wished to become archbishop in his uncle’s place, and cardinal, like Mazarin; and the popular party could with difficulty accord him favors so entirely royal. He therefore hastened to the palace to congratulate the queen on the battle of Lens, determined beforehand to act with or against the court, as his congratulations were well or ill received.

The coadjutor possessed, perhaps, as much wit as all those put together who were assembled at the court to laugh at him. His speech, therefore, was so well turned, that in spite of the great wish felt by the courtiers to laugh, they could find no point on which to vent their ridicule. He concluded by saying that he placed his feeble influence at her majesty’s command.

During the whole time he was speaking, the queen appeared to be well pleased with the coadjutor’s harangue; but terminating as it did with such a phrase, the only one which could be caught at by the jokers, Anne turned around and directed a glance toward her favorites, which announced that she delivered up the coadjutor to their tender mercies. Immediately the wits of the court plunged into satire. Nogent-Beautin, the fool of the court, exclaimed that “the queen was very happy to have the succor of religion at such a moment.” This caused a universal burst of laughter. The Count de Villeroy said that “he did not know how any fear could be entertained for a moment, when the court had, to defend itself against the parliament and the citizens of Paris, his holiness the coadjutor, who by a signal could raise an army of curates, church porters and vergers.”

The Marechal de la Meilleraie added that in case the coadjutor should appear on the field of battle it would be a pity that he should not be distinguished in the melee by wearing a red hat, as Henry IV. had been distinguished by his white plume at the battle of Ivry.

During this storm, Gondy, who had it in his power to make it most unpleasant for the jesters, remained calm and stern. The queen at last asked him if he had anything to add to the fine discourse he had just made to her.

“Yes, madame,” replied the coadjutor; “I have to beg you to reflect twice ere you cause a civil war in the kingdom.”

The queen turned her back and the laughing recommenced.

The coadjutor bowed and left the palace, casting upon the cardinal such a glance as is best understood by mortal foes. That glance was so sharp that it penetrated the heart of Mazarin, who, reading in it a declaration of war, seized D’Artagnan by the arm and said:

“If occasion requires, monsieur, you will remember that man who has just gone out, will you not?”

“Yes, my lord,” he replied. Then, turning toward Porthos, “The devil!” said he, “this has a bad look. I dislike these quarrels among men of the church.”

Gondy withdrew, distributing benedictions on his way, and finding a malicious satisfaction in causing the adherents of his foes to prostrate themselves at his feet.

“Oh!” he murmured, as he left the threshold of the palace: “ungrateful court! faithless court! cowardly court! I will teach you how to laugh to-morrow--but in another manner.”

But whilst they were indulging in extravagant joy at the Palais Royal, to increase the hilarity of the queen, Mazarin, a man of sense, and whose fear, moreover, gave him foresight, lost no time in making idle and dangerous jokes; he went out after the coadjutor, settled his account, locked up his gold, and had confidential workmen to contrive hiding places in his walls.

On his return home the coadjutor was informed that a young man had come in after his departure and was waiting for him; he started with delight when, on demanding the name of this young man, he learned that it was Louvieres. He hastened to his cabinet. Broussel’s son was there, still furious, and still bearing bloody marks of his struggle with the king’s officers. The only precaution he had taken in coming to the archbishopric was to leave his arquebuse in the hands of a friend.

The coadjutor went to him and held out his hand. The young man gazed at him as if he would have read the secret of his heart.

“My dear Monsieur Louvieres,” said the coadjutor, “believe me, I am truly concerned for the misfortune which has happened to you.”

“Is that true, and do you speak seriously?” asked Louvieres.

“From the depth of my heart,” said Gondy.

“In that case, my lord, the time for words has passed and the hour for action is at hand; my lord, in three days, if you wish it, my father will be out of prison and in six months you may be cardinal.”

The coadjutor started.

“Oh! let us speak frankly,” continued Louvieres, “and act in a straightforward manner. Thirty thousand crowns in alms is not given, as you have done for the last six months, out of pure Christian charity; that would be too grand. You are ambitious--it is natural; you are a man of genius and you know your worth. As for me, I hate the court and have but one desire at this moment--vengeance. Give us the clergy and the people, of whom you can dispose, and I will bring you the citizens and the parliament; with these four elements Paris is ours in a week; and believe me, monsieur coadjutor, the court will give from fear what it will not give from good-will.”

It was now the coadjutor’s turn to fix his piercing eyes on Louvieres.

“But, Monsieur Louvieres, are you aware that it is simply civil war you are proposing to me?”

“You have been preparing long enough, my lord, for it to be welcome to you now.”

“Never mind,” said the coadjutor; “you must be well aware that this requires reflection.”

“And how many hours of reflection do you ask?”

“Twelve hours, sir; is it too long?”

“It is now noon; at midnight I will be at your house.”

“If I should not be in, wait for me.”

“Good! at midnight, my lord.”

“At midnight, my dear Monsieur Louvieres.”

When once more alone Gondy sent to summon all the curates with whom he had any connection to his house. Two hours later, thirty officiating ministers from the most populous, and consequently the most disturbed parishes of Paris had assembled there. Gondy related to them the insults he had received at the Palais Royal and retailed the jests of Beautin, the Count de Villeroy and Marechal de la Meilleraie. The curates asked him what was to be done.

“Simply this,” said the coadjutor. “You are the directors of all consciences. Well, undermine in them the miserable prejudice of respect and fear of kings; teach your flocks that the queen is a tyrant; and repeat often and loudly, so that all may know it, that the misfortunes of France are caused by Mazarin, her lover and her destroyer; begin this work to-day, this instant even, and in three days I shall expect the result. For the rest, if any one of you have further or better counsel to expound, I will listen to him with the greatest pleasure.”

Three curates remained--those of St. Merri, St. Sulpice and St. Eustache. The others withdrew.

“You think, then, that you can help me more efficaciously than your brothers?” said Gondy.

“We hope so,” answered the curates.

“Let us hear. Monsieur de St. Merri, you begin.”

“My lord, I have in my parish a man who might be of the greatest use to you.”

“Who and what is this man?”

“A shopkeeper in the Rue des Lombards, who has great influence upon the commerce of his quarter.”

“What is his name?”

“He is named Planchet, who himself also caused a rising about six weeks ago; but as he was searched for after this emeute he disappeared.”

“And can you find him?”

“I hope so. I think he has not been arrested, and as I am his wife’s confessor, if she knows where he is I shall know it too.”

“Very well, sir, find this man, and when you have found him bring him to me.”

“We will be with you at six o’clock, my lord.”

“Go, my dear curate, and may God assist you!”

“And you, sir?” continued Gondy, turning to the curate of St. Sulpice.

“I, my lord,” said the latter, “I know a man who has rendered great services to a very popular prince and who would make an excellent leader of revolt. Him I can place at your disposal; it is Count de Rochefort.”

“I know him also, but unfortunately he is not in Paris.”

“My lord, he has been for three days at the Rue Cassette.”

“And wherefore has he not been to see me?”

“He was told--my lord will pardon me----”

“Certainly, speak.”

“That your lordship was about to treat with the court.”

Gondy bit his lips.

“They are mistaken; bring him here at eight o’clock, sir, and may Heaven bless you as I bless you!”

“And now ‘tis your turn,” said the coadjutor, turning to the last that remained; “have you anything as good to offer me as the two gentlemen who have left us?”

“Better, my lord.”

“Diable! think what a solemn engagement you are making; one has offered a wealthy shopkeeper, the other a count; you are going, then, to offer a prince, are you?”

“I offer you a beggar, my lord.”

“Ah! ah!” said Gondy, reflecting, “you are right, sir; some one who could raise the legion of paupers who choke up the crossings of Paris; some one who would know how to cry aloud to them, that all France might hear it, that it is Mazarin who has reduced them to poverty.”

“Exactly your man.”

“Bravo! and the man?”

“A plain and simple beggar, as I have said, my lord, who asks for alms, as he gives holy water; a practice he has carried on for six years on the steps of St. Eustache.”

“And you say that he has a great influence over his compeers?”

“Are you aware, my lord, that mendacity is an organized body, a kind of association of those who have nothing against those who have everything; an association in which every one takes his share; one that elects a leader?”

“Yes, I have heard it said,” replied the coadjutor.

“Well, the man whom I offer you is a general syndic.”

“And what do you know of him?”

“Nothing, my lord, except that he is tormented with remorse.”

“What makes you think so?”

“On the twenty-eighth of every month he makes me say a mass for the repose of the soul of one who died a violent death; yesterday I said this mass again.”

“And his name?”

“Maillard; but I do not think it is his right one.”

“And think you that we should find him at this hour at his post?”

“Certainly.”

“Let us go and see your beggar, sir, and if he is such as you describe him, you are right--it will be you who have discovered the true treasure.”

Gondy dressed himself as an officer, put on a felt cap with a red feather, hung on a long sword, buckled spurs to his boots, wrapped himself in an ample cloak and followed the curate.

The coadjutor and his companion passed through all the streets lying between the archbishopric and the St. Eustache Church, watching carefully to ascertain the popular feeling. The people were in an excited mood, but, like a swarm of frightened bees, seemed not to know at what point to concentrate; and it was very evident that if leaders of the people were not provided all this agitation would pass off in idle buzzing.

On arriving at the Rue des Prouvaires, the curate pointed toward the square before the church.

“Stop!” he said, “there he is at his post.”

Gondy looked at the spot indicated and perceived a beggar seated in a chair and leaning against one of the moldings; a little basin was near him and he held a holy water brush in his hand.

“Is it by permission that he remains there?” asked Gondy.

“No, my lord; these places are bought. I believe this man paid his predecessor a hundred pistoles for his.”

“The rascal is rich, then?”

“Some of those men sometimes die worth twenty thousand and twenty-five and thirty thousand francs and sometimes more.”

“Hum!” said Gondy, laughing; “I was not aware my alms were so well invested.”

In the meantime they were advancing toward the square, and the moment the coadjutor and the curate put their feet on the first church step the mendicant arose and proffered his brush.

He was a man between sixty-six and sixty-eight years of age, little, rather stout, with gray hair and light eyes. His countenance denoted the struggle between two opposite principles--a wicked nature, subdued by determination, perhaps by repentance.

He started on seeing the cavalier with the curate. The latter and the coadjutor touched the brush with the tips of their fingers and made the sign of the cross; the coadjutor threw a piece of money into the hat, which was on the ground.

“Maillard,” began the curate, “this gentleman and I have come to talk with you a little.”

“With me!” said the mendicant; “it is a great honor for a poor distributor of holy water.”

There was an ironical tone in his voice which he could not quite disguise and which astonished the coadjutor.

“Yes,” continued the curate, apparently accustomed to this tone, “yes, we wish to know your opinion of the events of to-day and what you have heard said by people going in and out of the church.”

The mendicant shook his head.

“These are melancholy doings, your reverence, which always fall again upon the poor. As to what is said, everybody is discontented, everybody complains, but ‘everybody’ means ‘nobody.’”

“Explain yourself, my good friend,” said the coadjutor.

“I mean that all these cries, all these complaints, these curses, produce nothing but storms and flashes and that is all; but the lightning will not strike until there is a hand to guide it.”

“My friend,” said Gondy, “you seem to be a clever and a thoughtful man; are you disposed to take a part in a little civil war, should we have one, and put at the command of the leader, should we find one, your personal influence and the influence you have acquired over your comrades?”

“Yes, sir, provided this war were approved of by the church and would advance the end I wish to attain--I mean, the remission of my sins.”

“The war will not only be approved of, but directed by the church. As for the remission of your sins, we have the archbishop of Paris, who has the very greatest power at the court of Rome, and even the coadjutor, who possesses some plenary indulgences; we will recommend you to him.”

“Consider, Maillard,” said the curate, “that I have recommended you to this gentleman, who is a powerful lord, and that I have made myself responsible for you.”

“I know, monsieur le cure,” said the beggar, “that you have always been very kind to me, and therefore I, in my turn, will be serviceable to you.”

“And do you think your power as great with the fraternity as monsieur le cure told me it was just now?”

“I think they have some esteem for me,” said the mendicant with pride, “and that not only will they obey me, but wherever I go they will follow me.”

“And could you count on fifty resolute men, good, unemployed, but active souls, brawlers, capable of bringing down the walls of the Palais Royal by crying, ‘Down with Mazarin,’ as fell those at Jericho?”

“I think,” said the beggar, “I can undertake things more difficult and more important than that.”

“Ah, ah,” said Gondy, “you will undertake, then, some night, to throw up some ten barricades?”

“I will undertake to throw up fifty, and when the day comes, to defend them.”

“I’faith!” exclaimed Gondy, “you speak with a certainty that gives me pleasure; and since monsieur le cure can answer for you----”

“I answer for him,” said the curate.

“Here is a bag containing five hundred pistoles in gold; make all your arrangements, and tell me where I shall be able to find you this evening at ten o’clock.”

“It must be on some elevated place, whence a given signal may be seen in every part of Paris.”

“Shall I give you a line for the vicar of St. Jacques de la Boucherie? he will let you into the rooms in his tower,” said the curate.

“Capital,” answered the mendicant.

“Then,” said the coadjutor, “this evening, at ten o’clock, and if I am pleased with you another bag of five hundred pistoles will be at your disposal.”

The eyes of the mendicant dashed with cupidity, but he quickly suppressed his emotion.

“This evening, sir,” he replied, “all will be ready.”