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Twenty Years After

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Chapter 46. The Tower of St. Jacques de la Boucherie.


At a quarter to six o’clock, Monsieur de Gondy, having finished his business, returned to the archiepiscopal palace.

At six o’clock the curate of St. Merri was announced.

The coadjutor glanced rapidly behind and saw that he was followed by another man. The curate then entered, followed by Planchet.

“Your holiness,” said the curate, “here is the person of whom I had the honor to speak to you.”

Planchet saluted in the manner of one accustomed to fine houses.

“And you are disposed to serve the cause of the people?” asked Gondy.

“Most undoubtedly,” said Planchet. “I am a Frondist from my heart. You see in me, such as I am, a person sentenced to be hung.”

“And on what account?”

“I rescued from the hands of Mazarin’s police a noble lord whom they were conducting back to the Bastile, where he had been for five years.”

“Will you name him?”

“Oh, you know him well, my lord--it is Count de Rochefort.”

“Ah! really, yes,” said the coadjutor, “I have heard this affair mentioned. You raised the whole district, so they told me!”

“Very nearly,” replied Planchet, with a self-satisfied air.

“And your business is----”

“That of a confectioner, in the Rue des Lombards.”

“Explain to me how it happens that, following so peaceful a business, you had such warlike inclinations.”

“Why does my lord, belonging to the church, now receive me in the dress of an officer, with a sword at his side and spurs to his boots?”

“Not badly answered, i’faith,” said Gondy, laughing; “but I have, you must know, always had, in spite of my bands, warlike inclinations.”

“Well, my lord, before I became a confectioner I myself was three years sergeant in the Piedmontese regiment, and before I became sergeant I was for eighteen months the servant of Monsieur d’Artagnan.”

“The lieutenant of musketeers?” asked Gondy.

“Himself, my lord.”

“But he is said to be a furious Mazarinist.”

“Phew!” whistled Planchet.

“What do you mean by that?”

“Nothing, my lord; Monsieur d’Artagnan belongs to the service; Monsieur d’Artagnan makes it his business to defend the cardinal, who pays him, as much as we make it ours, we citizens, to attack him, whom he robs.”

“You are an intelligent fellow, my friend; can we count upon you?”

“You may count upon me, my lord, provided you want to make a complete upheaval of the city.”

“‘Tis that exactly. How many men, think you, you could collect together to-night?”

“Two hundred muskets and five hundred halberds.”

“Let there be only one man in every district who can do as much and by to-morrow we shall have quite a powerful army. Are you disposed to obey Count de Rochefort?”

“I would follow him to hell, and that is saying not a little, as I believe him entirely capable of the descent.”

“Bravo!”

“By what sign to-morrow shall we be able to distinguish friends from foes?”

“Every Frondist must put a knot of straw in his hat.”

“Good! Give the watchword.”

“Do you want money?”

“Money never comes amiss at any time, my lord; if one has it not, one must do without it; with it, matters go on much better and more rapidly.”

Gondy went to a box and drew forth a bag.

“Here are five hundred pistoles,” he said; “and if the action goes off well you may reckon upon a similar sum to-morrow.”

“I will give a faithful account of the sum to your lordship,” said Planchet, putting the bag under his arm.

“That is right; I recommend the cardinal to your attention.”

“Make your mind easy, he is in good hands.”

Planchet went out, the curate remaining for a moment.

“Are you satisfied, my lord?” he asked.

“Yes; he appears to be a resolute fellow.”

“Well, he will do more than he has promised.”

“He will do wonders then.”

The curate rejoined Planchet, who was waiting for him on the stairs. Ten minutes later the curate of St. Sulpice was announced. As soon as the door of Gondy’s study was opened a man rushed in. It was the Count de Rochefort.

“‘Tis you, then, my dear count,” cried Gondy, offering his hand.

“You have made up your mind at last, my lord?” said Rochefort.

“It has been made up a long time,” said Gondy.

“Let us say no more on the subject; you tell me so, I believe you. Well, we are going to give a ball to Mazarin.”

“I hope so.”

“And when will the dance begin?”

“The invitations are given for this evening,” said the coadjutor, “but the violins will not begin to play until to-morrow morning.”

“You may reckon upon me and upon fifty soldiers which the Chevalier d’Humieres has promised me whenever I need them.”

“Upon fifty soldiers?”

“Yes, he is making recruits and he will lend them to me; if any are missing when the fete is over, I shall replace them.”

“Good, my dear Rochefort; but that is not all. What have you done with Monsieur de Beaufort?”

“He is in Vendome, where he will wait until I write to him to return to Paris.”

“Write to him; now’s the time.”

“You are sure of your enterprise?”

“Yes, but he must make haste; for hardly will the people of Paris have revolted before we shall have a score of princes begging to lead them. If he defers he will find the place of honor taken.”

“Shall I send word to him as coming from you?”

“Yes certainly.”

“Shall I tell him that he can count on you?”

“To the end.”

“And you will leave the command to him?”

“Of the war, yes, but in politics----”

“You must know it is not his element.”

“He must leave me to negotiate for my cardinal’s hat in my own fashion.”

“You care about it, then, so much?”

“Since they force me to wear a hat of a form which does not become me,” said Gondy, “I wish at least that the hat should be red.”

“One must not dispute matters of taste and colors,” said Rochefort, laughing. “I answer for his consent.”

“How soon can he be here?”

“In five days.”

“Let him come and he will find a change, I will answer for it.”

“Therefore, go and collect your fifty men and hold yourself in readiness.”

“For what?”

“For everything.”

“Is there any signal for the general rally?”

“A knot of straw in the hat.”

“Very good. Adieu, my lord.”

“Adieu, my dear Rochefort.”

“Ah, Monsieur Mazarin, Monsieur Mazarin,” said Rochefort, leading off his curate, who had not found an opportunity of uttering a single word during the foregoing dialogue, “you will see whether I am too old to be a man of action.”

It was half-past nine o’clock and the coadjutor required half an hour to go from the archbishop’s palace to the tower of St. Jacques de la Boucherie. He remarked that a light was burning in one of the highest windows of the tower. “Good,” said he, “our syndic is at his post.”

He knocked and the door was opened. The vicar himself awaited him, conducted him to the top of the tower, and when there pointed to a little door, placed the light which he had brought with him in a corner of the wall, that the coadjutor might be able to find it on his return, and went down again. Although the key was in the door the coadjutor knocked.

“Come in,” said a voice which he recognized as that of the mendicant, whom he found lying on a kind of truckle bed. He rose on the entrance of the coadjutor, and at that moment ten o’clock struck.

“Well,” said Gondy, “have you kept your word with me?”

“Not exactly,” replied the mendicant.

“How is that?”

“You asked me for five hundred men, did you not? Well, I have ten thousand for you.”

“You are not boasting?”

“Do you wish for a proof?”

“Yes.”

There were three candles alight, each of which burnt before a window, one looking upon the city, the other upon the Palais Royal, and a third upon the Rue Saint Denis.

The man went silently to each of the candles and blew them out one after the other.

“What are you doing?” asked the coadjutor.

“I have given the signal.”

“For what?”

“For the barricades. When you leave this you will behold my men at work. Only take care you do not break your legs in stumbling over some chain or your neck by falling in a hole.”

“Good! there is your money, the same sum as that you have received already. Now remember that you are a general and do not go and drink.”

“For twenty years I have tasted nothing but water.”

The man took the bag from the hands of the coadjutor, who heard the sound of his fingers counting and handling the gold pieces.

“Ah! ah!” said the coadjutor, “you are avaricious, my good fellow.”

The mendicant sighed and threw down the bag.

“Must I always be the same?” said he, “and shall I never succeed in overcoming the old leaven? Oh, misery, oh, vanity!”

“You take it, however.”

“Yes, but I make hereby a vow in your presence, to employ all that remains to me in pious works.”

His face was pale and drawn, like that of a man who had just undergone some inward struggle.

“Singular man!” muttered Gondy, taking his hat to go away; but on turning around he saw the beggar between him and the door. His first idea was that this man intended to do him some harm, but on the contrary he saw him fall on his knees before him with his hands clasped.

“Your blessing, your holiness, before you go, I beseech you!” he cried.

“Your holiness!” said Gondy; “my friend, you take me for some one else.”

“No, your holiness, I take you for what you are, that is to say, the coadjutor; I recognized you at the first glance.”

Gondy smiled. “And you want my blessing?” he said.

“Yes, I have need of it.”

The mendicant uttered these words in a tone of such humility, such earnest repentance, that Gondy placed his hand upon him and gave him his benediction with all the unction of which he was capable.

“Now,” said Gondy, “there is a communion between us. I have blessed you and you are sacred to me. Come, have you committed some crime, pursued by human justice, from which I can protect you?”

The beggar shook his head. “The crime which I have committed, my lord, has no call upon human justice, and you can only deliver me from it by blessing me frequently, as you have just done.”

“Come, be candid,” said the coadjutor, “you have not all your life followed the trade which you do now?”

“No, my lord. I have pursued it for six years only.”

“And previously, where were you?”

“In the Bastile.”

“And before you went to the Bastile?”

“I will tell you, my lord, on the day when you are willing to hear my confession.”

“Good! At whatsoever hour of the day or night you may present yourself, remember that I shall be ready to give you absolution.”

“Thank you, my lord,” said the mendicant in a hoarse voice. “But I am not yet ready to receive it.”

“Very well. Adieu.”

“Adieu, your holiness,” said the mendicant, opening the door and bending low before the prelate.


Chapter 47. The Riot.


It was about eleven o’clock at night. Gondy had not walked a hundred steps ere he perceived the strange change which had been made in the streets of Paris.

The whole city seemed peopled with fantastic beings; silent shadows were seen unpaving the streets and others dragging and upsetting great wagons, whilst others again dug ditches large enough to ingulf whole regiments of horsemen. These active beings flitted here and there like so many demons completing some unknown labor; these were the beggars of the Court of Miracles--the agents of the giver of holy water in the Square of Saint Eustache, preparing barricades for the morrow.

Gondy gazed on these deeds of darkness, on these nocturnal laborers, with a kind of fear; he asked himself, if, after having called forth these foul creatures from their dens, he should have the power of making them retire again. He felt almost inclined to cross himself when one of these beings happened to approach him. He reached the Rue Saint Honore and went up it toward the Rue de la Ferronnerie; there the aspect changed; here it was the tradesmen who were running from shop to shop; their doors seemed closed like their shutters, but they were only pushed to in such a manner as to open and allow the men, who seemed fearful of showing what they carried, to enter, closing immediately. These men were shopkeepers, who had arms to lend to those who had none.

One individual went from door to door, bending under the weight of swords, guns, muskets and every kind of weapon, which he deposited as fast as he could. By the light of a lantern the coadjutor recognized Planchet.

The coadjutor proceeded onward to the quay by way of the Rue de la Monnaie; there he found groups of bourgeois clad in black cloaks or gray, according as they belonged to the upper or lower bourgeoisie. They were standing motionless, while single men passed from one group to another. All these cloaks, gray or black, were raised behind by the point of a sword, or before by the barrel of an arquebuse or a musket.

On reaching the Pont Neuf the coadjutor found it strictly guarded and a man approached him.

“Who are you?” asked the man. “I do not know you for one of us.”

“Then it is because you do not know your friends, my dear Monsieur Louvieres,” said the coadjutor, raising his hat.

Louvieres recognized him and bowed.

Gondy continued his way and went as far as the Tour de Nesle. There he saw a lengthy chain of people gliding under the walls. They might be said to be a procession of ghosts, for they were all wrapped in white cloaks. When they reached a certain spot these men appeared to be annihilated, one after the other, as if the earth had opened under their feet. Gondy, edged into a corner, saw them vanish from the first until the last but one. The last raised his eyes, to ascertain, doubtless, that neither his companions nor himself had been watched, and, in spite of the darkness, he perceived Gondy. He walked straight up to him and placed a pistol to his throat.

“Halloo! Monsieur de Rochefort,” said Gondy, laughing, “are you a boy to play with firearms?”

Rochefort recognized the voice.

“Ah, it is you, my lord!” said he.

“The very same. What people are you leading thus into the bowels of the earth?”

“My fifty recruits from the Chevalier d’Humieres, who are destined to enter the light cavalry and who have only received as yet for their equipment their white cloaks.”

“And where are you going?”

“To the house of one of my friends, a sculptor, only we enter by the trap through which he lets down his marble.”

“Very good,” said Gondy, shaking Rochefort by the hand, who descended in his turn and closed the trap after him.

It was now one o’clock in the morning and the coadjutor returned home. He opened a window and leaned out to listen. A strange, incomprehensible, unearthly sound seemed to pervade the whole city; one felt that something unusual and terrible was happening in all the streets, now dark as ocean’s most unfathomable caves. From time to time a dull sound was heard, like that of a rising tempest or a billow of the sea; but nothing clear, nothing distinct, nothing intelligible; it was like those mysterious subterraneous noises that precede an earthquake.

The work of revolt continued the whole night thus. The next morning, on awaking, Paris seemed to be startled at her own appearance. It was like a besieged town. Armed men, shouldering muskets, watched over the barricades with menacing looks; words of command, patrols, arrests, executions, even, were encountered at every step. Those bearing plumed hats and gold swords were stopped and made to cry, “Long live Broussel!” “Down with Mazarin!” and whoever refused to comply with this ceremony was hooted at, spat upon and even beaten. They had not yet begun to slay, but it was well felt that the inclination to do so was not wanting.

The barricades had been pushed as far as the Palais Royal. From the Rue de Bons Enfants to that of the Ferronnerie, from the Rue Saint Thomas-du-Louvre to the Pont Neuf, from the Rue Richelieu to the Porte Saint Honore, there were more than ten thousand armed men; those who were at the front hurled defiance at the impassive sentinels of the regiment of guards posted around the Palais Royal, the gates of which were closed behind them, a precaution which made their situation precarious. Among these thousands moved, in bands numbering from one hundred to two hundred, pale and haggard men, clothed in rags, who bore a sort of standard on which was inscribed these words: “Behold the misery of the people!” Wherever these men passed, frenzied cries were heard; and there were so many of these bands that the cries were to be heard in all directions.

The astonishment of Mazarin and of Anne of Austria was great when it was announced to them that the city, which the previous evening they had left entirely tranquil, had awakened to such feverish commotion; nor would either the one or the other believe the reports that were brought to them, declaring they would rather rely on the evidence of their own eyes and ears. Then a window was opened and when they saw and heard they were convinced.

Mazarin shrugged his shoulders and pretended to despise the populace; but he turned visibly pale and ran to his closet, trembling all over, locked up his gold and jewels in his caskets and put his finest diamonds on his fingers. As for the queen, furious, and left to her own guidance, she went for the Marechal de la Meilleraie and desired him to take as many men as he pleased and to go and see what was the meaning of this pleasantry.

The marshal was ordinarily very adventurous and was wont to hesitate at nothing; and he had that lofty contempt for the populace which army officers usually profess. He took a hundred and fifty men and attempted to go out by the Pont du Louvre, but there he met Rochefort and his fifty horsemen, attended by more than five hundred men. The marshal made no attempt to force that barrier and returned up the quay. But at Pont Neuf he found Louvieres and his bourgeois. This time the marshal charged, but he was welcomed by musket shots, while stones fell like hail from all the windows. He left there three men.

He beat a retreat toward the market, but there he met Planchet with his halberdiers; their halberds were leveled at him threateningly. He attempted to ride over those gray cloaks, but the gray cloaks held their ground and the marshal retired toward the Rue Saint Honore, leaving four of his guards dead on the field of battle.

The marshal then entered the Rue Saint Honore, but there he was opposed by the barricades of the mendicant of Saint Eustache. They were guarded, not only by armed men, but even by women and children. Master Friquet, the owner of a pistol and of a sword which Louvieres had given him, had organized a company of rogues like himself and was making a tremendous racket.

The marshal thought this barrier not so well fortified as the others and determined to break through it. He dismounted twenty men to make a breach in the barricade, whilst he and others, remaining on their horses, were to protect the assailants. The twenty men marched straight toward the barrier, but from behind the beams, from among the wagon-wheels and from the heights of the rocks a terrible fusillade burst forth and at the same time Planchet’s halberdiers appeared at the corner of the Cemetery of the Innocents, and Louvieres’s bourgeois at the corner of the Rue de la Monnaie.

The Marechal de la Meilleraie was caught between two fires, but he was brave and made up his mind to die where he was. He returned blow for blow and cries of pain began to be heard in the crowd. The guards, more skillful, did greater execution; but the bourgeois, more numerous, overwhelmed them with a veritable hurricane of iron. Men fell around him as they had fallen at Rocroy or at Lerida. Fontrailles, his aide-de-camp, had an arm broken; his horse had received a bullet in his neck and he had difficulty in controlling him, maddened by pain. In short, he had reached that supreme moment when the bravest feel a shudder in their veins, when suddenly, in the direction of the Rue de l’Arbre-Sec, the crowd opened, crying: “Long live the coadjutor!” and Gondy, in surplice and cloak, appeared, moving tranquilly in the midst of the fusillade and bestowing his benedictions to the right and left, as undisturbed as if he were leading a procession of the Fete Dieu.

All fell to their knees. The marshal recognized him and hastened to meet him.

“Get me out of this, in Heaven’s name!” he said, “or I shall leave my carcass here and those of all my men.”

A great tumult arose, in the midst of which even the noise of thunder could not have been heard. Gondy raised his hand and demanded silence. All were still.

“My children,” he said, “this is the Marechal de la Meilleraie, as to whose intentions you have been deceived and who pledges himself, on returning to the Louvre, to demand of the queen, in your name, our Broussel’s release. You pledge yourself to that, marshal?” added Gondy, turning to La Meilleraie.

“Morbleu!” cried the latter, “I should say that I do pledge myself to it! I had no hope of getting off so easily.”

“He gives you his word of honor,” said Gondy.

The marshal raised his hand in token of assent.

“Long live the coadjutor!” cried the crowd. Some voices even added: “Long live the marshal!” But all took up the cry in chorus: “Down with Mazarin!”

The crowd gave place, the barricade was opened, and the marshal, with the remnant of his company, retreated, preceded by Friquet and his bandits, some of them making a presence of beating drums and others imitating the sound of the trumpet. It was almost a triumphal procession; only, behind the guards the barricades were closed again. The marshal bit his fingers.

In the meantime, as we have said, Mazarin was in his closet, putting his affairs in order. He called for D’Artagnan, but in the midst of such tumult he little expected to see him, D’Artagnan not being on service. In about ten minutes D’Artagnan appeared at the door, followed by the inseparable Porthos.

“Ah, come in, come in, Monsieur d’Artagnan!” cried the cardinal, “and welcome your friend too. But what is going on in this accursed Paris?”

“What is going on, my lord? nothing good,” replied D’Artagnan, shaking his head. “The town is in open revolt, and just now, as I was crossing the Rue Montorgueil with Monsieur du Vallon, who is here, and is your humble servant, they wanted in spite of my uniform, or perhaps because of my uniform, to make us cry ‘Long live Broussel!’ and must I tell you, my lord what they wished us to cry as well?”

“Speak, speak.”

“‘Down with Mazarin!’ I’faith, the treasonable word is out.”

Mazarin smiled, but became very pale.

“And you did cry?” he asked.

“I’faith, no,” said D’Artagnan; “I was not in voice; Monsieur du Vallon has a cold and did not cry either. Then, my lord----”

“Then what?” asked Mazarin.

“Look at my hat and cloak.”

And D’Artagnan displayed four gunshot holes in his cloak and two in his beaver. As for Porthos’s coat, a blow from a halberd had cut it open on the flank and a pistol shot had cut his feather in two.

“Diavolo!” said the cardinal, pensively gazing at the two friends with lively admiration; “I should have cried, I should.”

At this moment the tumult was heard nearer.

Mazarin wiped his forehead and looked around him. He had a great desire to go to the window, but he dared not.

“See what is going on, Monsieur D’Artagnan,” said he.

D’Artagnan went to the window with his habitual composure. “Oho!” said he, “what is this? Marechal de la Meilleraie returning without a hat--Fontrailles with his arm in a sling--wounded guards--horses bleeding; eh, then, what are the sentinels about? They are aiming--they are going to fire!”

“They have received orders to fire on the people if the people approach the Palais Royal!” exclaimed Mazarin.

“But if they fire, all is lost!” cried D’Artagnan.

“We have the gates.”

“The gates! to hold for five minutes--the gates, they will be torn down, twisted into iron wire, ground to powder! God’s death, don’t fire!” screamed D’Artagnan, throwing open the window.

In spite of this recommendation, which, owing to the noise, could scarcely have been heard, two or three musket shots resounded, succeeded by a terrible discharge. The balls might be heard peppering the facade of the Palais Royal, and one of them, passing under D’Artagnan’s arm, entered and broke a mirror, in which Porthos was complacently admiring himself.

“Alack! alack!” cried the cardinal, “a Venetian glass!”

“Oh, my lord,” said D’Artagnan, quietly shutting the window, “it is not worth while weeping yet, for probably an hour hence there will not be one of your mirrors remaining in the Palais Royal, whether they be Venetian or Parisian.”

“But what do you advise, then?” asked Mazarin, trembling.

“Eh, egad, to give up Broussel as they demand! What the devil do you want with a member of the parliament? He is of no earthly use to anybody.”

“And you, Monsieur du Vallon, is that your advice? What would you do?”

“I should give up Broussel,” said Porthos.

“Come, come with me, gentlemen!” exclaimed Mazarin. “I will go and discuss the matter with the queen.”

He stopped at the end of the corridor and said:

“I can count upon you, gentlemen, can I not?”

“We do not give ourselves twice over,” said D’Artagnan; “we have given ourselves to you; command, we shall obey.”

“Very well, then,” said Mazarin; “enter this cabinet and wait till I come back.”

And turning off he entered the drawing-room by another door.


Chapter 48. The Riot becomes a Revolution.


The closet into which D’Artagnan and Porthos had been ushered was separated from the drawing-room where the queen was by tapestried curtains only, and this thin partition enabled them to hear all that passed in the adjoining room, whilst the aperture between the two hangings, small as it was, permitted them to see.

The queen was standing in the room, pale with anger; her self-control, however, was so great that it might have been imagined that she was calm. Comminges, Villequier and Guitant were behind her and the women again were behind the men. The Chancellor Sequier, who twenty years previously had persecuted her so ruthlessly, stood before her, relating how his carriage had been smashed, how he had been pursued and had rushed into the Hotel d’O----, that the hotel was immediately invaded, pillaged and devastated; happily he had time to reach a closet hidden behind tapestry, in which he was secreted by an old woman, together with his brother, the Bishop of Meaux. Then the danger was so imminent, the rioters came so near, uttering such threats, that the chancellor thought his last hour had come and confessed himself to his brother priest, so as to be all ready to die in case he was discovered. Fortunately, however, he had not been taken; the people, believing that he had escaped by some back entrance, retired and left him at liberty to retreat. Then, disguised in the clothes of the Marquis d’O----, he had left the hotel, stumbling over the bodies of an officer and two guards who had been killed whilst defending the street door.

During the recital Mazarin entered and glided noiselessly up to the queen to listen.

“Well,” said the queen, when the chancellor had finished speaking; “what do you think of it all?”

“I think that matters look very gloomy, madame.”

“But what step would you propose to me?”

“I could propose one to your majesty, but I dare not.”

“You may, you may, sir,” said the queen with a bitter smile; “you were not so timid once.”

The chancellor reddened and stammered some words.

“It is not a question of the past, but of the present,” said the queen; “you said you could give me advice--what is it?”

“Madame,” said the chancellor, hesitating, “it would be to release Broussel.”

The queen, although already pale, became visibly paler and her face was contracted.

“Release Broussel!” she cried, “never!”

At this moment steps were heard in the ante-room and without any announcement the Marechal de la Meilleraie appeared at the door.

“Ah, there you are, marechal,” cried Anne of Austria joyfully. “I trust you have brought this rabble to reason.”

“Madame,” replied the marechal, “I have left three men on the Pont Neuf, four at the Halle, six at the corner of the Rue de l’Arbre-Sec and two at the door of your palace--fifteen in all. I have brought away ten or twelve wounded. I know not where I have left my hat, and in all probability I should have been left with my hat, had the coadjutor not arrived in time to rescue me.”

“Ah, indeed,” said the queen, “it would have much astonished me if that low cur, with his distorted legs, had not been mixed up with all this.”

“Madame,” said La Meilleraie, “do not say too much against him before me, for the service he rendered me is still fresh.”

“Very good,” said the queen, “be as grateful as you like, it does not implicate me; you are here safe and sound, that is all I wished for; you are not only welcome, but welcome back.”

“Yes, madame; but I only came back on one condition--that I would transmit to your majesty the will of the people.”

“The will!” exclaimed the queen, frowning. “Oh! oh! monsieur marechal, you must indeed have found yourself in wondrous peril to have undertaken so strange a commission!”

The irony with which these words were uttered did not escape the marechal.

“Pardon, madame,” he said, “I am not a lawyer, I am a mere soldier, and probably, therefore, I do not quite comprehend the value of certain words; I ought to have said the wishes, and not the will, of the people. As for what you do me the honor to say, I presume you mean I was afraid?”

The queen smiled.

“Well, then, madame, yes, I did feel fear; and though I have been through twelve pitched battles and I cannot count how many charges and skirmishes, I own for the third time in my life I was afraid. Yes, and I would rather face your majesty, however threatening your smile, than face those demons who accompanied me hither and who sprung from I know not whence, unless from deepest hell.”

(“Bravo,” said D’Artagnan in a whisper to Porthos; “well answered.”)

“Well,” said the queen, biting her lips, whilst her courtiers looked at each other with surprise, “what is the desire of my people?”

“That Broussel shall be given up to them, madame.”

“Never!” said the queen, “never!”

“Your majesty is mistress,” said La Meilleraie, retreating a few steps.

“Where are you going, marechal?” asked the queen.

“To give your majesty’s reply to those who await it.”

“Stay, marechal; I will not appear to parley with rebels.”

“Madame, I have pledged my word, and unless you order me to be arrested I shall be forced to return.”

Anne of Austria’s eyes shot glances of fire.

“Oh! that is no impediment, sir,” said she; “I have had greater men than you arrested--Guitant!”

Mazarin sprang forward.

“Madame,” said he, “if I dared in my turn advise----”

“Would it be to give up Broussel, sir? If so, you can spare yourself the trouble.”

“No,” said Mazarin; “although, perhaps, that counsel is as good as any other.”

“Then what may it be?”

“To call for monsieur le coadjuteur.”

“The coadjutor!” cried the queen, “that dreadful mischief maker! It is he who has raised all this revolt.”

“The more reason,” said Mazarin; “if he has raised it he can put it down.”

“And hold, madame,” suggested Comminges, who was near a window, out of which he could see; “hold, the moment is a happy one, for there he is now, giving his blessing in the square of the Palais Royal.”

The queen sprang to the window.

“It is true,” she said, “the arch hypocrite--see!”

“I see,” said Mazarin, “that everybody kneels before him, although he be but coadjutor, whilst I, were I in his place, though I am cardinal, should be torn to pieces. I persist, then, madame, in my wish” (he laid an emphasis on the word), “that your majesty should receive the coadjutor.”

“And wherefore do you not say, like the rest, your will?” replied the queen, in a low voice.

Mazarin bowed.

“Monsieur le marechal,” said the queen, after a moment’s reflection, “go and find the coadjutor and bring him to me.”

“And what shall I say to the people?”

“That they must have patience,” said Anne, “as I have.”

The fiery Spanish woman spoke in a tone so imperative that the marechal made no reply; he bowed and went out.

(D’Artagnan turned to Porthos. “How will this end?” he said.

“We shall soon see,” said Porthos, in his tranquil way.)

In the meantime Anne of Austria approached Comminges and conversed with him in a subdued tone, whilst Mazarin glanced uneasily at the corner occupied by D’Artagnan and Porthos. Ere long the door opened and the marechal entered, followed by the coadjutor.

“There, madame,” he said, “is Monsieur Gondy, who hastens to obey your majesty’s summons.”

The queen advanced a few steps to meet him, and then stopped, cold, severe, unmoved, with her lower lip scornfully protruded.

Gondy bowed respectfully.

“Well, sir,” said the queen, “what is your opinion of this riot?”

“That it is no longer a riot, madame,” he replied, “but a revolt.”

“The revolt is at the door of those who think my people can rebel,” cried Anne, unable to dissimulate before the coadjutor, whom she looked upon, and probably with reason, as the promoter of the tumult. “Revolt! thus it is called by those who have wished for this demonstration and who are, perhaps, the cause of it; but, wait, wait! the king’s authority will put all this to rights.”

“Was it to tell me that, madame,” coldly replied Gondy, “that your majesty admitted me to the honor of entering your presence?”

“No, my dear coadjutor,” said Mazarin; “it was to ask your advice in the unhappy dilemma in which we find ourselves.”

“Is it true,” asked Gondy, feigning astonishment, “that her majesty summoned me to ask for my opinion?”

“Yes,” said the queen, “it is requested.”

The coadjutor bowed.

“Your majesty wishes, then----”

“You to say what you would do in her place,” Mazarin hastened to reply.

The coadjutor looked at the queen, who replied by a sign in the affirmative.

“Were I in her majesty’s place,” said Gondy, coldly, “I should not hesitate; I should release Broussel.”

“And if I do not give him up, what think you will be the result?” exclaimed the queen.

“I believe that not a stone in Paris will remain unturned,” put in the marechal.

“It was not your opinion that I asked,” said the queen, sharply, without even turning around.

“If it is I whom your majesty interrogates,” replied the coadjutor in the same calm manner, “I reply that I hold monsieur le marechal’s opinion in every respect.”

The color mounted to the queen’s face; her fine blue eyes seemed to start out of her head and her carmine lips, compared by all the poets of the day to a pomegranate in flower, were trembling with anger. Mazarin himself, who was well accustomed to the domestic outbreaks of this disturbed household, was alarmed.

“Give up Broussel!” she cried; “fine counsel, indeed. Upon my word! one can easily see it comes from a priest.”

Gondy remained firm, and the abuse of the day seemed to glide over his head as the sarcasms of the evening before had done; but hatred and revenge were accumulating in his heart silently and drop by drop. He looked coldly at the queen, who nudged Mazarin to make him say something in his turn.

Mazarin, according to his custom, was thinking much and saying little.

“Ho! ho!” said he, “good advice, advice of a friend. I, too, would give up that good Monsieur Broussel, dead or alive, and all would be at an end.”

“If you yield him dead, all will indeed be at an end, my lord, but quite otherwise than you mean.”

“Did I say ‘dead or alive?’” replied Mazarin. “It was only a way of speaking. You know I am not familiar with the French language, which you, monsieur le coadjuteur, both speak and write so well.”

(“This is a council of state,” D’Artagnan remarked to Porthos; “but we held better ones at La Rochelle, with Athos and Aramis.”

“At the Saint Gervais bastion,” said Porthos.

“There and elsewhere.”)

The coadjutor let the storm pass over his head and resumed, still with the same tranquillity:

“Madame, if the opinion I have submitted to you does not please you it is doubtless because you have better counsels to follow. I know too well the wisdom of the queen and that of her advisers to suppose that they will leave the capital long in trouble that may lead to a revolution.”

“Thus, then, it is your opinion,” said Anne of Austria, with a sneer and biting her lips with rage, “that yesterday’s riot, which to-day is already a rebellion, to-morrow may become a revolution?”

“Yes, madame,” replied the coadjutor, gravely.

“But if I am to believe you, sir, the people seem to have thrown off all restraint.”

“It is a bad year for kings,” said Gondy, shaking his head; “look at England, madame.”

“Yes; but fortunately we have no Oliver Cromwell in France,” replied the queen.

“Who knows?” said Gondy; “such men are like thunderbolts--one recognizes them only when they have struck.”

Every one shuddered and there was a moment of silence, during which the queen pressed her hand to her side, evidently to still the beatings of her heart.

(“Porthos,” murmured D’Artagnan, “look well at that priest.”

“Yes,” said Porthos, “I see him. What then?”

“Well, he is a man.”

Porthos looked at D’Artagnan in astonishment. Evidently he did not understand his meaning.)

“Your majesty,” continued the coadjutor, pitilessly, “is about to take such measures as seem good to you, but I foresee that they will be violent and such as will still further exasperate the rioters.”

“In that case, you, monsieur le coadjuteur, who have such power over them and are at the same time friendly to us,” said the queen, ironically, “will quiet them by bestowing your blessing upon them.”

“Perhaps it will be too late,” said Gondy, still unmoved; “perhaps I shall have lost all influence; while by giving up Broussel your majesty will strike at the root of the sedition and will gain the right to punish severely any revival of the revolt.”

“Have I not, then, that right?” cried the queen.

“If you have it, use it,” replied Gondy.

(“Peste!” said D’Artagnan to Porthos. “There is a man after my own heart. Oh! if he were minister and I were his D’Artagnan, instead of belonging to that beast of a Mazarin, mordieu! what fine things we would do together!”

“Yes,” said Porthos.)

The queen made a sign for every one, except Mazarin, to quit the room; and Gondy bowed, as if to leave with the rest.

“Stay, sir,” said Anne to him.

“Good,” thought Gondy, “she is going to yield.”

(“She is going to have him killed,” said D’Artagnan to Porthos, “but at all events it shall not be by me. I swear to Heaven, on the contrary, that if they fall upon him I will fall upon them.”

“And I, too,” said Porthos.)

“Good,” muttered Mazarin, sitting down, “we shall soon see something startling.”

The queen’s eyes followed the retreating figures and when the last had closed the door she turned away. It was evident that she was making unnatural efforts to subdue her anger; she fanned herself, smelled at her vinaigrette and walked up and down. Gondy, who began to feel uneasy, examined the tapestry with his eyes, touched the coat of mail which he wore under his long gown and felt from time to time to see if the handle of a good Spanish dagger, which was hidden under his cloak, was well within reach.

“And now,” at last said the queen, “now that we are alone, repeat your counsel, monsieur le coadjuteur.”

“It is this, madame: that you should appear to have reflected, and publicly acknowledge an error, which constitutes the extra strength of a strong government; release Broussel from prison and give him back to the people.”

“Oh!” cried Anne, “to humble myself thus! Am I, or am I not, the queen? This screaming mob, are they, or are they not, my subjects? Have I friends? Have I guards? Ah! by Notre Dame! as Queen Catherine used to say,” continued she, excited by her own words, “rather than give up this infamous Broussel to them I will strangle him with my own hands!”

And she sprang toward Gondy, whom assuredly at that moment she hated more than Broussel, with outstretched arms. The coadjutor remained immovable and not a muscle of his face was discomposed; only his glance flashed like a sword in returning the furious looks of the queen.

(“He were a dead man” said the Gascon, “if there were still a Vitry at the court and if Vitry entered at this moment; but for my part, before he could reach the good prelate I would kill Vitry at once; the cardinal would be infinitely pleased with me.”

“Hush!” said Porthos; “listen.”)

“Madame,” cried the cardinal, seizing hold of Anne and drawing her back, “Madame, what are you about?”

Then he added in Spanish, “Anne, are you mad? You, a queen to quarrel like a washerwoman! And do you not perceive that in the person of this priest is represented the whole people of Paris and that it is dangerous to insult him at this moment, and if this priest wished it, in an hour you would be without a crown? Come, then, on another occasion you can be firm and strong; but to-day is not the proper time; to-day, flatter and caress, or you are only a common woman.”

(At the first words of this address D’Artagnan had seized Porthos’s arm, which he pressed with gradually increasing force. When Mazarin ceased speaking he said to Porthos in a low tone:

“Never tell Mazarin that I understand Spanish, or I am a lost man and you are also.”

“All right,” said Porthos.)

This rough appeal, marked by the eloquence which characterized Mazarin when he spoke in Italian or Spanish and which he lost entirely in speaking French, was uttered with such impenetrable expression that Gondy, clever physiognomist as he was, had no suspicion of its being more than a simple warning to be more subdued.

The queen, on her part, thus chided, softened immediately and sat down, and in an almost weeping voice, letting her arms fall by her side, said:

“Pardon me, sir, and attribute this violence to what I suffer. A woman, and consequently subject to the weaknesses of my sex, I am alarmed at the idea of civil war; a queen, accustomed to be obeyed, I am excited at the first opposition.”

“Madame,” replied Gondy, bowing, “your majesty is mistaken in qualifying my sincere advice as opposition. Your majesty has none but submissive and respectful subjects. It is not the queen with whom the people are displeased; they ask for Broussel and are only too happy, if you release him to them, to live under your government.”

Mazarin, who at the words, “It is not the queen with whom the people are displeased,” had pricked up his ears, thinking that the coadjutor was about to speak of the cries, “Down with Mazarin,” and pleased with Gondy’s suppression of this fact, he said with his sweetest voice and his most gracious expression:

“Madame, credit the coadjutor, who is one of the most able politicians we have; the first available cardinal’s hat seems to belong already to his noble brow.”

“Ah! how much you have need of me, cunning rogue!” thought Gondy.

(“And what will he promise us?” said D’Artagnan. “Peste, if he is giving away hats like that, Porthos, let us look out and both demand a regiment to-morrow. Corbleu! let the civil war last but one year and I will have a constable’s sword gilt for me.”

“And for me?” put in Porthos.

“For you? I will give you the baton of the Marechal de la Meilleraie, who does not seem to be much in favor just now.”)

“And so, sir,” said the queen, “you are seriously afraid of a public tumult.”

“Seriously,” said Gondy, astonished at not having further advanced; “I fear that when the torrent has broken its embankment it will cause fearful destruction.”

“And I,” said the queen, “think that in such a case other embankments should be raised to oppose it. Go; I will reflect.”

Gondy looked at Mazarin, astonished, and Mazarin approached the queen to speak to her, but at this moment a frightful tumult arose from the square of the Palais Royal.

Gondy smiled, the queen’s color rose and Mazarin grew even paler.

“What is that again?” he asked.

At this moment Comminges rushed into the room.

“Pardon, your majesty,” he cried, “but the people have dashed the sentinels against the gates and they are now forcing the doors; what are your commands?”

“Listen, madame,” said Gondy.

The moaning of waves, the noise of thunder, the roaring of a volcano, cannot be compared with the tempest of cries heard at that moment.

“What are my commands?” said the queen.

“Yes, for time presses.”

“How many men have you about the Palais Royal?”

“Six hundred.”

“Place a hundred around the king and with the remainder sweep away this mob for me.”

“Madame,” cried Mazarin, “what are you about?”

“Go!” said the queen.

Comminges went out with a soldier’s passive obedience.

At this moment a monstrous battering was heard. One of the gates began to yield.

“Oh! madame,” cried Mazarin, “you have ruined us all--the king, yourself and me.”

At this cry from the soul of the frightened cardinal, Anne became alarmed in her turn and would have recalled Comminges.

“It is too late,” said Mazarin, tearing his hair, “too late!”

The gale had given way. Hoarse shouts were heard from the excited mob. D’Artagnan put his hand to his sword, motioning to Porthos to follow his example.

“Save the queen!” cried Mazarin to the coadjutor.

Gondy sprang to the window and threw it open; he recognized Louvieres at the head of a troop of about three or four thousand men.

“Not a step further,” he shouted, “the queen is signing!”

“What are you saying?” asked the queen.

“The truth, madame,” said Mazarin, placing a pen and a paper before her, “you must;” then he added: “Sign, Anne, I implore you--I command you.”

The queen fell into a chair, took the pen and signed.

The people, kept back by Louvieres, had not made another step forward; but the awful murmuring, which indicates an angry people, continued.

The queen had written, “The keeper of the prison at Saint Germain will set Councillor Broussel at liberty;” and she had signed it.

The coadjutor, whose eyes devoured her slightest movements, seized the paper immediately the signature had been affixed to it, returned to the window and waved it in his hand.

“This is the order,” he said.

All Paris seemed to shout with joy, and then the air resounded with the cries of “Long live Broussel!” “Long live the coadjutor!”

“Long live the queen!” cried De Gondy; but the cries which replied to his were poor and few, and perhaps he had but uttered it to make Anne of Austria sensible of her weakness.

“And now that you have obtained what you want, go,” said she, “Monsieur de Gondy.”

“Whenever her majesty has need of me,” replied the coadjutor, bowing, “her majesty knows I am at her command.”

“Ah, cursed priest!” cried Anne, when he had retired, stretching out her arm to the scarcely closed door, “one day I will make you drink the dregs of the atrocious gall you have poured out on me to-day.”

Mazarin wished to approach her. “Leave me!” she exclaimed; “you are not a man!” and she went out of the room.

“It is you who are not a woman,” muttered Mazarin.

Then, after a moment of reverie, he remembered where he had left D’Artagnan and Porthos and that they must have overheard everything. He knit his brows and went direct to the tapestry, which he pushed aside. The closet was empty.

At the queen’s last word, D’Artagnan had dragged Porthos into the gallery. Thither Mazarin went in his turn and found the two friends walking up and down.

“Why did you leave the closet, Monsieur d’Artagnan?” asked the cardinal.

“Because,” replied D’Artagnan, “the queen desired every one to leave and I thought that this command was intended for us as well as for the rest.”

“And you have been here since----”

“About a quarter of an hour,” said D’Artagnan, motioning to Porthos not to contradict him.

Mazarin saw the sign and remained convinced that D’Artagnan had seen and heard everything; but he was pleased with his falsehood.

“Decidedly, Monsieur d’Artagnan, you are the man I have been seeking. You may reckon upon me and so may your friend.” Then bowing to the two musketeers with his most gracious smile, he re-entered his closet more calmly, for on the departure of De Gondy the uproar had ceased as though by enchantment.