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Twenty Years After

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Chapter 79. The Road to Picardy.


On leaving Paris, Athos and Aramis well knew that they would be encountering great danger; but we know that for men like these there could be no question of danger. Besides, they felt that the denouement of this second Odyssey was at hand and that there remained but a single effort to make.

Besides, there was no tranquillity in Paris itself. Provisions began to fail, and whenever one of the Prince de Conti’s generals wished to gain more influence he got up a little popular tumult, which he put down again, and thus for the moment gained a superiority over his colleagues.

In one of these risings, the Duc de Beaufort pillaged the house and library of Mazarin, in order to give the populace, as he put it, something to gnaw at. Athos and Aramis left Paris after this coup-d’etat, which took place on the very evening of the day in which the Parisians had been beaten at Charenton.

They quitted Paris, beholding it abandoned to extreme want, bordering on famine; agitated by fear, torn by faction. Parisians and Frondeurs as they were, the two friends expected to find the same misery, the same fears, the same intrigue in the enemy’s camp; but what was their surprise, after passing Saint Denis, to hear that at Saint Germain people were singing and laughing, and leading generally cheerful lives. The two gentlemen traveled by byways in order not to encounter the Mazarinists scattered about the Isle of France, and also to escape the Frondeurs, who were in possession of Normandy and who never failed to conduct captives to the Duc de Longueville, in order that he might ascertain whether they were friends or foes. Having escaped these dangers, they returned by the main road to Boulogne, at Abbeville, and followed it step by step, examining every track.

Nevertheless, they were still in a state of uncertainty. Several inns were visited by them, several innkeepers questioned, without a single clew being given to guide their inquiries, when at Montreuil Athos felt upon the table that something rough was touching his delicate fingers. He turned up the cloth and found these hieroglyphics carved upon the wood with a knife:

“Port.... D’Art.... 2d February.”

“This is capital!” said Athos to Aramis, “we were to have slept here, but we cannot--we must push on.” They rode forward and reached Abbeville. There the great number of inns puzzled them; they could not go to all; how could they guess in which those whom they were seeking had stayed?

“Trust me,” said Aramis, “do not expect to find anything in Abbeville. If we had only been looking for Porthos, Porthos would have stationed himself in one of the finest hotels and we could easily have traced him. But D’Artagnan is devoid of such weaknesses. Porthos would have found it very difficult even to make him see that he was dying of hunger; he has gone on his road as inexorable as fate and we must seek him somewhere else.”

They continued their route. It had now become a weary and almost hopeless task, and had it not been for the threefold motives of honor, friendship and gratitude, implanted in their hearts, our two travelers would have given up many a time their rides over the sand, their interrogatories of the peasantry and their close inspection of faces.

They proceeded thus to Peronne.

Athos began to despair. His noble nature felt that their ignorance was a sort of reflection upon them. They had not looked carefully enough for their lost friends. They had not shown sufficient pertinacity in their inquiries. They were willing and ready to retrace their steps, when, in crossing the suburb which leads to the gates of the town, upon a white wall which was at the corner of a street turning around the rampart, Athos cast his eyes upon a drawing in black chalk, which represented, with the awkwardness of a first attempt, two cavaliers riding furiously; one of them carried a roll of paper on which were written these words: “They are following us.”

“Oh!” exclaimed Athos, “here it is, as clear as day; pursued as he was, D’Artagnan would not have tarried here five minutes had he been pressed very closely, which gives us hopes that he may have succeeded in escaping.”

Aramis shook his head.

“Had he escaped we should either have seen him or have heard him spoken of.”

“You are right, Aramis, let us travel on.”

To describe the impatience and anxiety of these two friends would be impossible. Uneasiness took possession of the tender, constant heart of Athos, and fearful forecasts were the torment of the impulsive Aramis. They galloped on for two or three hours as furiously as the cavaliers on the wall. All at once, in a narrow pass, they perceived that the road was partially barricaded by an enormous stone. It had evidently been rolled across the pass by some arm of giant strength.

Aramis stopped.

“Oh!” he said, looking at the stone, “this is the work of either Hercules or Porthos. Let us get down, count, and examine this rock.”

They both alighted. The stone had been brought with the evident intention of barricading the road, but some one having perceived the obstacle had partially turned it aside.

With the assistance of Blaisois and Grimaud the friends succeeded in turning the stone over. Upon the side next the ground were scratched the following words:

“Eight of the light dragoons are pursuing us. If we reach Compiegne we shall stop at the Peacock. It is kept by a friend of ours.”

“At last we have something definite,” said Athos; “let us go to the Peacock.”

“Yes,” answered Aramis, “but if we are to get there we must rest our horses, for they are almost broken-winded.”

Aramis was right; they stopped at the first tavern and made each horse swallow a double quantity of corn steeped in wine; they gave them three hours’ rest and then set off again. The men themselves were almost dead with fatigue, but hope supported them.

In six hours they reached Compiegne and alighted at the Peacock. The host proved to be a worthy man, as bald as a Chinaman. They asked him if some time ago he had not received in his house two gentlemen who were pursued by dragoons; without answering he went out and brought in the blade of a rapier.

“Do you know that?” he asked.

Athos merely glanced at it.

“‘Tis D’Artagnan’s sword,” he said.

“Does it belong to the smaller or to the larger of the two?” asked the host.

“To the smaller.”

“I see that you are the friends of these gentlemen.”

“Well, what has happened to them?”

“They were pursued by eight of the light dragoons, who rode into the courtyard before they had time to close the gate.”

“Eight!” said Aramis; “it surprises me that two such heroes as Porthos and D’Artagnan should have allowed themselves to be arrested by eight men.”

“The eight men would doubtless have failed had they not been assisted by twenty soldiers of the regiment of Italians in the king’s service, who are in garrison in this town so that your friends were overpowered by numbers.”

“Arrested, were they?” inquired Athos; “is it known why?”

“No, sir, they were carried off instantly, and had not even time to tell me why; but as soon as they were gone I found this broken sword-blade, as I was helping to raise two dead men and five or six wounded ones.”

“‘Tis still a consolation that they were not wounded,” said Aramis.

“Where were they taken?” asked Athos.

“Toward the town of Louvres,” was the reply.

The two friends having agreed to leave Blaisois and Grimaud at Compiegne with the horses, resolved to take post horses; and having snatched a hasty dinner they continued their journey to Louvres. Here they found only one inn, in which was consumed a liqueur which preserves its reputation to our time and which is still made in that town.

“Let us alight here,” said Athos. “D’Artagnan will not have let slip an opportunity of drinking a glass of this liqueur, and at the same time leaving some trace of himself.”

They went into the town and asked for two glasses of liqueur, at the counter--as their friends must have done before them. The counter was covered with a plate of pewter; upon this plate was written with the point of a large pin: “Rueil... D..”

“They went to Rueil,” cried Aramis.

“Let us go to Rueil,” said Athos.

“It is to throw ourselves into the wolf’s jaws,” said Aramis.

“Had I been as great a friend of Jonah as I am of D’Artagnan I should have followed him even into the inside of the whale itself; and you would have done the same, Aramis.”

“Certainly--but you make me out better than I am, dear count. Had I been alone I should scarcely have gone to Rueil without great caution. But where you go, I go.”

They then set off for Rueil. Here the deputies of the parliament had just arrived, in order to enter upon those famous conferences which were to last three weeks, and produced eventually that shameful peace, at the conclusion of which the prince was arrested. Rueil was crowded with advocates, presidents and councillors, who came from the Parisians, and, on the side of the court, with officers and guards; it was therefore easy, in the midst of this confusion, to remain as unobserved as any one might wish; besides, the conferences implied a truce, and to arrest two gentlemen, even Frondeurs, at this time, would have been an attack on the rights of the people.

The two friends mingled with the crowd and fancied that every one was occupied with the same thought that tormented them. They expected to hear some mention made of D’Artagnan or of Porthos, but every one was engrossed by articles and reforms. It was the advice of Athos to go straight to the minister.

“My friend,” said Aramis, “take care; our safety lies in our obscurity. If we were to make ourselves known we should be sent to rejoin our friends in some deep ditch, from which the devil himself could not take us out. Let us try not to find them out by accident, but from our notions. Arrested at Compiegne, they have been carried to Rueil; at Rueil they have been questioned by the cardinal, who has either kept them near him or sent them to Saint Germain. As to the Bastile, they are not there, though the Bastile is especially for the Frondeurs. They are not dead, for the death of D’Artagnan would make a sensation. As for Porthos, I believe him to be eternal, like God, although less patient. Do not let us despond, but wait at Rueil, for my conviction is that they are at Rueil. But what ails you? You are pale.”

“It is this,” answered Athos, with a trembling voice.

“I remember that at the Castle of Rueil the Cardinal Richelieu had some horrible ‘oubliettes’ constructed.”

“Oh! never fear,” said Aramis. “Richelieu was a gentleman, our equal in birth, our superior in position. He could, like the king, touch the greatest of us on the head, and touching them make such heads shake on their shoulders. But Mazarin is a low-born rogue, who can at the most take us by the collar, like an archer. Be calm--for I am sure that D’Artagnan and Porthos are at Rueil, alive and well.”

“But,” resumed Athos, “I recur to my first proposal. I know no better means than to act with candor. I shall seek, not Mazarin, but the queen, and say to her, ‘Madame, restore to us your two servants and our two friends.’”

Aramis shook his head.

“‘Tis a last resource, but let us not employ it till it is imperatively called for; let us rather persevere in our researches.”

They continued their inquiries and at last met with a light dragoon who had formed one of the guard which had escorted D’Artagnan to Rueil.

Athos, however, perpetually recurred to his proposed interview with the queen.

“In order to see the queen,” said Aramis, “we must first see the cardinal; and when we have seen the cardinal--remember what I tell you, Athos--we shall be reunited to our friends, but not in the way you wish. Now, that way of joining them is not very attractive to me, I confess. Let us act in freedom, that we may act well and quickly.”

“I shall go,” he said, “to the queen.”

“Well, then,” answered Aramis, “pray tell me a day or two beforehand, that I may take that opportunity of going to Paris.”

“To whom?”

“Zounds! how do I know? perhaps to Madame de Longueville. She is all-powerful yonder; she will help me. But send me word should you be arrested, for then I will return directly.”

“Why do you not take your chance and be arrested with me?”

“No, I thank you.”

“Should we, by being arrested, be all four together again, we should not, I am not sure, be twenty-four hours in prison without getting free.”

“My friend, since I killed Chatillon, adored of the ladies of Saint Germain, I am too great a celebrity not to fear a prison doubly. The queen is likely to follow Mazarin’s counsels and to have me tried.”

“Do you think she loves this Italian so much as they say she does?”

“Did she not love an Englishman?”

“My friend, she is a woman.”

“No, no, you are deceived--she is a queen.”

“Dear friend, I shall sacrifice myself and go and see Anne of Austria.”

“Adieu, Athos, I am going to raise an army.”

“For what purpose?”

“To come back and besiege Rueil.”

“Where shall we meet again?”

“At the foot of the cardinal’s gallows.”

The two friends departed--Aramis to return to Paris, Athos to take measures preparatory to an interview with the queen.


Chapter 80. The Gratitude of Anne of Austria.


Athos found much less difficulty than he had expected in obtaining an audience of Anne of Austria. It was granted, and was to take place after her morning’s “levee,” at which, in accordance with his rights of birth, he was entitled to be present. A vast crowd filled the apartments of Saint Germain. Anne had never at the Louvre had so large a court; but this crowd represented chiefly the second class of nobility, while the Prince de Conti, the Duc de Beaufort and the coadjutor assembled around them the first nobility of France.

The greatest possible gayety prevailed at court. The particular characteristic of this was that more songs were made than cannons fired during its continuance. The court made songs on the Parisians and the Parisians on the court; and the casualties, though not mortal, were painful, as are all wounds inflicted by the weapon of ridicule.

In the midst of this seeming hilarity, nevertheless, people’s minds were uneasy. Was Mazarin to remain the favorite and minister of the queen? Was he to be carried back by the wind which had blown him there? Every one hoped so, so that the minister felt that all around him, beneath the homage of the courtiers, lay a fund of hatred, ill disguised by fear and interest. He felt ill at ease and at a loss what to do.

Conde himself, whilst fighting for him, lost no opportunity of ridiculing, of humbling him. The queen, on whom he threw himself as sole support, seemed to him now not much to be relied upon.

When the hour appointed for the audience arrived Athos was obliged to stay until the queen, who was waited upon by a new deputation from Paris, had consulted with her minister as to the propriety and manner of receiving them. All were fully engrossed with the affairs of the day; Athos could not therefore have chosen a more inauspicious moment to speak of his friends--poor atoms, lost in that raging whirlwind.

But Athos was a man of inflexible determination; he firmly adhered to a purpose once formed, when it seemed to him to spring from conscience and to be prompted by a sense of duty. He insisted on being introduced, saying that although he was not a deputy from Monsieur de Conti, or Monsieur de Beaufort, or Monsieur de Bouillon, or Monsieur d’Elbeuf, or the coadjutor, or Madame de Longueville, or Broussel, or the Parliament, and although he had come on his own private account, he nevertheless had things to say to her majesty of the utmost importance.

The conference being finished, the queen summoned him to her cabinet.

Athos was introduced and announced by name. It was a name that too often resounded in her majesty’s ears and too often vibrated in her heart for Anne of Austria not to recognize it; yet she remained impassive, looking at him with that fixed stare which is tolerated only in women who are queens, either by the power of beauty or by the right of birth.

“It is then a service which you propose to render us, count?” asked Anne of Austria, after a moment’s silence.

“Yes, madame, another service,” said Athos, shocked that the queen did not seem to recognize him.

Athos had a noble heart, and made, therefore, but a poor courtier.

Anne frowned. Mazarin, who was sitting at a table folding up papers, as if he had only been a secretary of state, looked up.

“Speak,” said the queen.

Mazarin turned again to his papers.

“Madame,” resumed Athos, “two of my friends, named D’Artagnan and Monsieur du Vallon, sent to England by the cardinal, suddenly disappeared when they set foot on the shores of France; no one knows what has become of them.”

“Well?” said the queen.

“I address myself, therefore, first to the benevolence of your majesty, that I may know what has become of my friends, reserving to myself, if necessary, the right of appealing hereafter to your justice.”

“Sir,” replied Anne, with a degree of haughtiness which to certain persons became impertinence, “this is the reason that you trouble me in the midst of so many absorbing concerns! an affair for the police! Well, sir, you ought to know that we no longer have a police, since we are no longer at Paris.”

“I think your majesty will have no need to apply to the police to know where my friends are, but that if you will deign to interrogate the cardinal he can reply without any further inquiry than into his own recollections.”

“But, God forgive me!” cried Anne, with that disdainful curl of the lips peculiar to her, “I believe that you are yourself interrogating.”

“Yes, madame, here I have a right to do so, for it concerns Monsieur d’Artagnan---d’Artagnan,” he repeated, in such a manner as to bow the regal brow with recollections of the weak and erring woman.

The cardinal saw that it was now high time to come to the assistance of Anne.

“Sir,” he said, “I can tell you what is at present unknown to her majesty. These individuals are under arrest. They disobeyed orders.”

“I beg of your majesty, then,” said Athos, calmly and not replying to Mazarin, “to quash these arrests of Messieurs d’Artagnan and du Vallon.”

“What you ask is merely an affair of discipline and does not concern me,” said the queen.

“Monsieur d’Artagnan never made such an answer as that when the service of your majesty was concerned,” said Athos, bowing with great dignity. He was going toward the door when Mazarin stopped him.

“You, too, have been in England, sir?” he said, making a sign to the queen, who was evidently going to issue a severe order.

“I was a witness of the last hours of Charles I. Poor king! culpable, at the most, of weakness, how cruelly punished by his subjects! Thrones are at this time shaken and it is to little purpose for devoted hearts to serve the interests of princes. This is the second time that Monsieur d’Artagnan has been in England. He went the first time to save the honor of a great queen; the second, to avert the death of a great king.”

“Sir,” said Anne to Mazarin, with an accent from which daily habits of dissimulation could not entirely chase the real expression, “see if we can do something for these gentlemen.”

“I wish to do, madame, all that your majesty pleases.”

“Do what Monsieur de la Fere requests; that is your name, is it not, sir?”

“I have another name, madame--I am called Athos.”

“Madame,” said Mazarin, with a smile, “you may rest easy; your wishes shall be fulfilled.”

“You hear, sir?” said the queen.

“Yes, madame, I expected nothing less from the justice of your majesty. May I not go and see my friends?”

“Yes, sir, you shall see them. But, apropos, you belong to the Fronde, do you not?”

“Madame, I serve the king.”

“Yes, in your own way.”

“My way is the way of all gentlemen, and I know only one way,” answered Athos, haughtily.

“Go, sir, then,” said the queen; “you have obtained what you wish and we know all we desire to know.”

Scarcely, however, had the tapestry closed behind Athos when she said to Mazarin:

“Cardinal, desire them to arrest that insolent fellow before he leaves the court.”

“Your majesty,” answered Mazarin, “desires me to do only what I was going to ask you to let me do. These bravoes who resuscitate in our epoch the traditions of another reign are troublesome; since there are two of them already there, let us add a third.”

Athos was not altogether the queen’s dupe, but he was not a man to run away on suspicion--above all, when distinctly told that he should see his friends again. He waited, then, in the ante-chamber with impatience, till he should be conducted to them.

He walked to the window and looked into the court. He saw the deputation from the Parisians enter it; they were coming to assign the definitive place for the conference and to make their bow to the queen. A very imposing escort awaited them without the gates.

Athos was looking on attentively, when some one touched him softly on the shoulder.

“Ah! Monsieur de Comminges,” he said.

“Yes, count, and charged with a commission for which I beg of you to accept my excuses.”

“What is it?”

“Be so good as to give me up your sword, count.”

Athos smiled and opened the window.

“Aramis!” he cried.

A gentleman turned around. Athos fancied he had seen him among the crowd. It was Aramis. He bowed with great friendship to the count.

“Aramis,” cried Athos, “I am arrested.”

“Good,” replied Aramis, calmly.

“Sir,” said Athos, turning to Comminges and giving him politely his sword by the hilt, “here is my sword; have the kindness to keep it safely for me until I quit my prison. I prize it--it was given to my ancestor by King Francis I. In his time they armed gentlemen, not disarmed them. Now, whither do you conduct me?”

“Into my room first,” replied Comminges; “the queen will ultimately decide your place of domicile.”

Athos followed Comminges without saying a single word.


Chapter 81. Cardinal Mazarin as King.


The arrest produced no sensation, indeed was almost unknown, and scarcely interrupted the course of events. To the deputation it was formally announced that the queen would receive it.

Accordingly, it was admitted to the presence of Anne, who, silent and lofty as ever, listened to the speeches and complaints of the deputies; but when they had finished their harangues not one of them could say, so calm remained her face, whether or no she had heard them.

On the other hand, Mazarin, present at that audience, heard very well what those deputies demanded. It was purely and simply his removal, in terms clear and precise.

The discourse being finished, the queen remained silent.

“Gentlemen,” said Mazarin, “I join with you in supplicating the queen to put an end to the miseries of her subjects. I have done all in my power to ameliorate them and yet the belief of the public, you say, is that they proceed from me, an unhappy foreigner, who has been unable to please the French. Alas! I have never been understood, and no wonder. I succeeded a man of the most sublime genius that ever upheld the sceptre of France. The memory of Richelieu annihilates me. In vain--were I an ambitious man--should I struggle against such remembrances as he has left; but that I am not ambitious I am going to prove to you. I own myself conquered. I shall obey the wishes of the people. If Paris has injuries to complain of, who has not some wrongs to be redressed? Paris has been sufficiently punished; enough blood has flowed, enough misery has humbled a town deprived of its king and of justice. ‘Tis not for me, a private individual, to disunite a queen from her kingdom. Since you demand my resignation, I retire.”

“Then,” said Aramis, in his neighbor’s ear, “the conferences are over. There is nothing to do but to send Monsieur Mazarin to the most distant frontier and to take care that he does not return even by that, nor any other entrance into France.”

“One instant, sir,” said the man in a gown, whom he addressed; “a plague on’t! how fast you go! one may soon see that you’re a soldier. There’s the article of remunerations and indemnifications to be discussed and set to rights.”

“Chancellor,” said the queen, turning to Seguier, our old acquaintance, “you will open the conferences. They can take place at Rueil. The cardinal has said several things which have agitated me, therefore I will not speak more fully now. As to his going or staying, I feel too much gratitude to the cardinal not to leave him free in all his actions; he shall do what he wishes to do.”

A transient pallor overspread the speaking countenance of the prime minister; he looked at the queen with anxiety. Her face was so passionless, that he, as every one else present, was incapable of reading her thoughts.

“But,” added the queen, “in awaiting the cardinal’s decision let there be, if you please, a reference to the king only.”

The deputies bowed and left the room.

“What!” exclaimed the queen, when the last of them had quitted the apartment, “you would yield to these limbs of the law--these advocates?”

“To promote your majesty’s welfare, madame,” replied Mazarin, fixing his penetrating eyes on the queen, “there is no sacrifice that I would not make.”

Anne dropped her head and fell into one of those reveries so habitual with her. A recollection of Athos came into her mind. His fearless deportment, his words, so firm, yet dignified, the shades which by one word he had evoked, recalled to her the past in all its intoxication of poetry and romance, youth, beauty, the eclat of love at twenty years of age, the bloody death of Buckingham, the only man whom she had ever really loved, and the heroism of those obscure champions who had saved her from the double hatred of Richelieu and the king.

Mazarin looked at her, and whilst she deemed herself alone and freed from the world of enemies who sought to spy into her secret thoughts, he read her thoughts in her countenance, as one sees in a transparent lake clouds pass--reflections, like thoughts, of the heavens.

“Must we, then,” asked Anne of Austria, “yield to the storm, buy peace, and patiently and piously await better times?”

Mazarin smiled sarcastically at this speech, which showed that she had taken the minister’s proposal seriously.

Anne’s head was bent down--she had not seen the Italian’s smile; but finding that her question elicited no reply she looked up.

“Well, you do not answer, cardinal, what do you think about it?”

“I am thinking, madame, of the allusion made by that insolent gentleman, whom you have caused to be arrested, to the Duke of Buckingham--to him whom you allowed to be assassinated--to the Duchess de Chevreuse, whom you suffered to be exiled--to the Duc de Beaufort, whom you imprisoned; but if he made allusion to me it was because he is ignorant of the relation in which I stand to you.”

Anne drew up, as she always did, when anything touched her pride. She blushed, and that she might not answer, clasped her beautiful hands till her sharp nails almost pierced them.

“That man has sagacity, honor and wit, not to mention likewise that he is a man of undoubted resolution. You know something about him, do you not, madame? I shall tell him, therefore, and in doing so I shall confer a personal favor on him, how he is mistaken in regard to me. What is proposed to me would be, in fact, almost an abdication, and an abdication requires reflection.”

“An abdication?” repeated Anne; “I thought, sir, that it was kings alone who abdicated!”

“Well,” replied Mazarin, “and am I not almost a king--king, indeed, of France? Thrown over the foot of the royal bed, my simar, madame, looks not unlike the mantle worn by kings.”

This was one of the humiliations which Mazarin made Anne undergo more frequently than any other, and one that bowed her head with shame. Queen Elizabeth and Catherine II. of Russia are the only two monarchs of their set on record who were at once sovereigns and lovers. Anne of Austria looked with a sort of terror at the threatening aspect of the cardinal--his physiognomy in such moments was not destitute of a certain grandeur.

“Sir,” she replied, “did I not say, and did you not hear me say to those people, that you should do as you pleased?”

“In that case,” said Mazarin, “I think it must please me best to remain; not only on account of my own interest, but for your safety.”

“Remain, then, sir; nothing can be more agreeable to me; only do not allow me to be insulted.”

“You are referring to the demands of the rebels and to the tone in which they stated them? Patience! They have selected a field of battle on which I am an abler general than they--that of a conference. No, we shall beat them by merely temporizing. They want food already. They will be ten times worse off in a week.”

“Ah, yes! Good heavens! I know it will end in that way; but it is not they who taunt me with the most wounding reproaches, but----”

“I understand; you mean to allude to the recollections perpetually revived by these three gentlemen. However, we have them safe in prison, and they are just sufficiently culpable for us to keep them in prison as long as we find it convenient. One only is still not in our power and braves us. But, devil take him! we shall soon succeed in sending him to join his boon companions. We have accomplished more difficult things than that. In the first place I have as a precaution shut up at Rueil, near me, under my own eyes, within reach of my hand, the two most intractable ones. To-day the third will be there also.”

“As long as they are in prison all will be well,” said Anne, “but one of these days they will get out.”

“Yes, if your majesty releases them.”

“Ah!” exclaimed Anne, following the train of her own thoughts on such occasions, “one regrets Paris!”

“Why so?”

“On account of the Bastile, sir, which is so strong and so secure.”

“Madame, these conferences will bring us peace; when we have peace we shall regain Paris; with Paris, the Bastile, and our four bullies shall rot therein.”

Anne frowned slightly when Mazarin, in taking leave, kissed her hand.

Mazarin, after this half humble, half gallant attention, went away. Anne followed him with her eyes, and as he withdrew, at every step he took, a disdainful smile was seen playing, then gradually burst upon her lips.

“I once,” she said, “despised the love of a cardinal who never said ‘I shall do,’ but, ‘I have done so and so.’ That man knew of retreats more secure than Rueil, darker and more silent even than the Bastile. Degenerate world!”