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Twenty Years After

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Chapter 16. The Duc de Beaufort.


The circumstances that had hastened the return of D’Artagnan to Paris were as follows:

One evening, when Mazarin, according to custom, went to visit the queen, in passing the guard-chamber he heard loud voices; wishing to know on what topic the soldiers were conversing, he approached with his wonted wolf-like step, pushed open the door and put his head close to the chink.

There was a dispute among the guards.

“I tell you,” one of them was saying, “that if Coysel predicted that, ‘tis as good as true; I know nothing about it, but I have heard say that he’s not only an astrologer, but a magician.”

“Deuce take it, friend, if he’s one of thy friends thou wilt ruin him in saying so.”

“Why?”

“Because he may be tried for it.”

“Ah! absurd! they don’t burn sorcerers nowadays.”

“No? ‘Tis not a long time since the late cardinal burnt Urban Grandier, though.”

“My friend, Urban Grandier wasn’t a sorcerer, he was a learned man. He didn’t predict the future, he knew the past--often a more dangerous thing.”

Mazarin nodded an assent, but wishing to know what this prediction was, about which they disputed, he remained in the same place.

“I don’t say,” resumed the guard, “that Coysel is not a sorcerer, but I say that if his prophecy gets wind, it’s a sure way to prevent it’s coming true.”

“How so?”

“Why, in this way: if Coysel says loud enough for the cardinal to hear him, on such or such a day such a prisoner will escape, ‘tis plain that the cardinal will take measures of precaution and that the prisoner will not escape.”

“Good Lord!” said another guard, who might have been thought asleep on a bench, but who had lost not a syllable of the conversation, “do you suppose that men can escape their destiny? If it is written yonder, in Heaven, that the Duc de Beaufort is to escape, he will escape; and all the precautions of the cardinal will not prevent it.”

Mazarin started. He was an Italian and therefore superstitious. He walked straight into the midst of the guards, who on seeing him were silent.

“What were you saying?” he asked with his flattering manner; “that Monsieur de Beaufort had escaped, were you not?”

“Oh, no, my lord!” said the incredulous soldier. “He’s well guarded now; we only said he would escape.”

“Who said so?”

“Repeat your story, Saint Laurent,” replied the man, turning to the originator of the tale.

“My lord,” said the guard, “I have simply mentioned the prophecy I heard from a man named Coysel, who believes that, be he ever so closely watched and guarded, the Duke of Beaufort will escape before Whitsuntide.”

“Coysel is a madman!” returned the cardinal.

“No,” replied the soldier, tenacious in his credulity; “he has foretold many things which have come to pass; for instance, that the queen would have a son; that Monsieur Coligny would be killed in a duel with the Duc de Guise; and finally, that the coadjutor would be made cardinal. Well! the queen has not only one son, but two; then, Monsieur de Coligny was killed, and----”

“Yes,” said Mazarin, “but the coadjutor is not yet made cardinal!”

“No, my lord, but he will be,” answered the guard.

Mazarin made a grimace, as if he meant to say, “But he does not wear the cardinal’s cap;” then he added:

“So, my friend, it’s your opinion that Monsieur de Beaufort will escape?”

“That’s my idea, my lord; and if your eminence were to offer to make me at this moment governor of the castle of Vincennes, I should refuse it. After Whitsuntide it would be another thing.”

There is nothing so convincing as a firm conviction. It has its own effect upon the most incredulous; and far from being incredulous, Mazarin was superstitious. He went away thoughtful and anxious and returned to his own room, where he summoned Bernouin and desired him to fetch thither in the morning the special guard he had placed over Monsieur de Beaufort and to awaken him whenever he should arrive.

The guard had, in fact, touched the cardinal in the tenderest point. During the whole five years in which the Duc de Beaufort had been in prison not a day had passed in which the cardinal had not felt a secret dread of his escape. It was not possible, as he knew well, to confine for the whole of his life the grandson of Henry IV., especially when this young prince was scarcely thirty years of age. But however and whensoever he did escape, what hatred he must cherish against him to whom he owed his long imprisonment; who had taken him, rich, brave, glorious, beloved by women, feared by men, to cut off his life’s best, happiest years; for it is not life, it is merely existence, in prison! Meantime, Mazarin redoubled his surveillance over the duke. But like the miser in the fable, he could not sleep for thinking of his treasure. Often he awoke in the night, suddenly, dreaming that he had been robbed of Monsieur de Beaufort. Then he inquired about him and had the vexation of hearing that the prisoner played, drank, sang, but that whilst playing, drinking, singing, he often stopped short to vow that Mazarin should pay dear for all the amusements he had forced him to enter into at Vincennes.

So much did this one idea haunt the cardinal even in his sleep, that when at seven in the morning Bernouin came to arouse him, his first words were: “Well, what’s the matter? Has Monsieur de Beaufort escaped from Vincennes?”

“I do not think so, my lord,” said Bernouin; “but you will hear about him, for La Ramee is here and awaits the commands of your eminence.”

“Tell him to come in,” said Mazarin, arranging his pillows, so that he might receive the visitor sitting up in bed.

The officer entered, a large fat man, with an open physiognomy. His air of perfect serenity made Mazarin uneasy.

“Approach, sir,” said the cardinal.

The officer obeyed.

“Do you know what they are saying here?”

“No, your eminence.”

“Well, they say that Monsieur de Beaufort is going to escape from Vincennes, if he has not done so already.”

The officer’s face expressed complete stupefaction. He opened at once his little eyes and his great mouth, to inhale better the joke his eminence deigned to address to him, and ended by a burst of laughter, so violent that his great limbs shook in hilarity as they would have done in an ague.

“Escape! my lord--escape! Your eminence does not then know where Monsieur de Beaufort is?”

“Yes, I do, sir; in the donjon of Vincennes.”

“Yes, sir; in a room, the walls of which are seven feet thick, with grated windows, each bar as thick as my arm.”

“Sir,” replied Mazarin, “with perseverance one may penetrate through a wall; with a watch-spring one may saw through an iron bar.”

“Then my lord does not know that there are eight guards about him, four in his chamber, four in the antechamber, and that they never leave him.”

“But he leaves his room, he plays at tennis at the Mall?”

“Sir, those amusements are allowed; but if your eminence wishes it, we will discontinue the permission.”

“No, no!” cried Mazarin, fearing that should his prisoner ever leave his prison he would be the more exasperated against him if he thus retrenched his amusement. He then asked with whom he played.

“My lord, either with the officers of the guard, with the other prisoners, or with me.”

“But does he not approach the walls while playing?”

“Your eminence doesn’t know those walls; they are sixty feet high and I doubt if Monsieur de Beaufort is sufficiently weary of life to risk his neck by jumping off.”

“Hum!” said the cardinal, beginning to feel more comfortable. “You mean to say, then, my dear Monsieur la Ramee----”

“That unless Monsieur de Beaufort can contrive to metamorphose himself into a little bird, I will continue answerable for him.”

“Take care! you assert a great deal,” said Mazarin. “Monsieur de Beaufort told the guards who took him to Vincennes that he had often thought what he should do in case he were put into prison, and that he had found out forty ways of escaping.”

“My lord, if among these forty there had been one good way he would have been out long ago.”

“Come, come; not such a fool as I fancied!” thought Mazarin.

“Besides, my lord must remember that Monsieur de Chavigny is governor of Vincennes,” continued La Ramee, “and that Monsieur de Chavigny is not friendly to Monsieur de Beaufort.”

“Yes, but Monsieur de Chavigny is sometimes absent.”

“When he is absent I am there.”

“But when you leave him, for instance?”

“Oh! when I leave him, I place in my stead a bold fellow who aspires to be his majesty’s special guard. I promise you he keeps a good watch over the prisoner. During the three weeks that he has been with me, I have only had to reproach him with one thing--being too severe with the prisoners.”

“And who is this Cerberus?”

“A certain Monsieur Grimaud, my lord.”

“And what was he before he went to Vincennes?”

“He was in the country, as I was told by the person who recommended him to me.”

“And who recommended this man to you?”

“The steward of the Duc de Grammont.”

“He is not a gossip, I hope?”

“Lord a mercy, my lord! I thought for a long time that he was dumb; he answers only by signs. It seems his former master accustomed him to that.”

“Well, dear Monsieur la Ramee,” replied the cardinal “let him prove a true and thankful keeper and we will shut our eyes upon his rural misdeeds and put on his back a uniform to make him respectable, and in the pockets of that uniform some pistoles to drink to the king’s health.”

Mazarin was large in promises,--quite unlike the virtuous Monsieur Grimaud so bepraised by La Ramee; for he said nothing and did much.

It was now nine o’clock. The cardinal, therefore, got up, perfumed himself, dressed, and went to the queen to tell her what had detained him. The queen, who was scarcely less afraid of Monsieur de Beaufort than the cardinal himself, and who was almost as superstitious as he was, made him repeat word for word all La Ramee’s praises of his deputy. Then, when the cardinal had ended:

“Alas, sir! why have we not a Grimaud near every prince?”

“Patience!” replied Mazarin, with his Italian smile; “that may happen one day; but in the meantime----”

“Well, in the meantime?”

“I shall still take precautions.”

And he wrote to D’Artagnan to hasten his return.


Chapter 17. Duc de Beaufort amused his Leisure Hours in the Donjon of Vincennes.


The captive who was the source of so much alarm to the cardinal and whose means of escape disturbed the repose of the whole court, was wholly unconscious of the terror he caused at the Palais Royal.

He had found himself so strictly guarded that he soon perceived the fruitlessness of any attempt at escape. His vengeance, therefore, consisted in coining curses on the head of Mazarin; he even tried to make some verses on him, but soon gave up the attempt, for Monsieur de Beaufort had not only not received from Heaven the gift of versifying, he had the greatest difficulty in expressing himself in prose.

The duke was the grandson of Henry IV. and Gabrielle d’Estrees--as good-natured, as brave, as proud, and above all, as Gascon as his ancestor, but less elaborately educated. After having been for some time after the death of Louis XIII. the favorite, the confidant, the first man, in short, at the court, he had been obliged to yield his place to Mazarin and so became the second in influence and favor; and eventually, as he was stupid enough to be vexed at this change of position, the queen had had him arrested and sent to Vincennes in charge of Guitant, who made his appearance in these pages in the beginning of this history and whom we shall see again. It is understood, of course, that when we say “the queen,” Mazarin is meant.

During the five years of this seclusion, which would have improved and matured the intellect of any other man, M. de Beaufort, had he not affected to brave the cardinal, despise princes, and walk alone without adherents or disciples, would either have regained his liberty or made partisans. But these considerations never occurred to the duke and every day the cardinal received fresh accounts of him which were as unpleasant as possible to the minister.

After having failed in poetry, Monsieur de Beaufort tried drawing. He drew portraits, with a piece of coal, of the cardinal; and as his talents did not enable him to produce a very good likeness, he wrote under the picture that there might be little doubt regarding the original: “Portrait of the Illustrious Coxcomb, Mazarin.” Monsieur de Chavigny, the governor of Vincennes, waited upon the duke to request that he would amuse himself in some other way, or that at all events, if he drew likenesses, he would not put mottoes underneath them. The next day the prisoner’s room was full of pictures and mottoes. Monsieur de Beaufort, in common with many other prisoners, was bent upon doing things that were prohibited; and the only resource the governor had was, one day when the duke was playing at tennis, to efface all these drawings, consisting chiefly of profiles. M. de Beaufort did not venture to draw the cardinal’s fat face.

The duke thanked Monsieur de Chavigny for having, as he said, cleaned his drawing-paper for him; he then divided the walls of his room into compartments and dedicated each of these compartments to some incident in Mazarin’s life. In one was depicted the “Illustrious Coxcomb” receiving a shower of blows from Cardinal Bentivoglio, whose servant he had been; another, the “Illustrious Mazarin” acting the part of Ignatius Loyola in a tragedy of that name; a third, the “Illustrious Mazarin” stealing the portfolio of prime minister from Monsieur de Chavigny, who had expected to have it; a fourth, the “Illustrious Coxcomb Mazarin” refusing to give Laporte, the young king’s valet, clean sheets, and saving that “it was quite enough for the king of France to have clean sheets every three months.”

The governor, of course, thought proper to threaten his prisoner that if he did not give up drawing such pictures he should be obliged to deprive him of all the means of amusing himself in that manner. To this Monsieur de Beaufort replied that since every opportunity of distinguishing himself in arms was taken from him, he wished to make himself celebrated in the arts; since he could not be a Bayard, he would become a Raphael or a Michael Angelo. Nevertheless, one day when Monsieur de Beaufort was walking in the meadow his fire was put out, his charcoal all removed, taken away; and thus his means of drawing utterly destroyed.

The poor duke swore, fell into a rage, yelled, and declared that they wished to starve him to death as they had starved the Marechal Ornano and the Grand Prior of Vendome; but he refused to promise that he would not make any more drawings and remained without any fire in the room all the winter.

His next act was to purchase a dog from one of his keepers. With this animal, which he called Pistache, he was often shut up for hours alone, superintending, as every one supposed, its education. At last, when Pistache was sufficiently well trained, Monsieur de Beaufort invited the governor and officers of Vincennes to attend a representation which he was going to have in his apartment.

The party assembled, the room was lighted with waxlights, and the prisoner, with a bit of plaster he had taken out of the wall of his room, had traced a long white line, representing a cord, on the floor. Pistache, on a signal from his master, placed himself on this line, raised himself on his hind paws, and holding in his front paws a wand with which clothes used to be beaten, he began to dance upon the line with as many contortions as a rope-dancer. Having been several times up and down it, he gave the wand back to his master and began without hesitation to perform the same evolutions over again.

The intelligent creature was received with loud applause.

The first part of the entertainment being concluded Pistache was desired to say what o’clock it was; he was shown Monsieur de Chavigny’s watch; it was then half-past six; the dog raised and dropped his paw six times; the seventh he let it remain upraised. Nothing could be better done; a sun-dial could not have shown the hour with greater precision.

Then the question was put to him who was the best jailer in all the prisons in France.

The dog performed three evolutions around the circle and laid himself, with the deepest respect, at the feet of Monsieur de Chavigny, who at first seemed inclined to like the joke and laughed long and loud, but a frown succeeded, and he bit his lips with vexation.

Then the duke put to Pistache this difficult question, who was the greatest thief in the world?

Pistache went again around the circle, but stopped at no one, and at last went to the door and began to scratch and bark.

“See, gentlemen,” said M. de Beaufort, “this wonderful animal, not finding here what I ask for, seeks it out of doors; you shall, however, have his answer. Pistache, my friend, come here. Is not the greatest thief in the world, Monsieur (the king’s secretary) Le Camus, who came to Paris with twenty francs in his pocket and who now possesses ten millions?”

The dog shook his head.

“Then is it not,” resumed the duke, “the Superintendent Emery, who gave his son, when he was married, three hundred thousand francs and a house, compared to which the Tuileries are a heap of ruins and the Louvre a paltry building?”

The dog again shook his head as if to say “no.”

“Then,” said the prisoner, “let’s think who it can be. Can it be, can it possibly be, the ‘Illustrious Coxcomb, Mazarin de Piscina,’ hey?”

Pistache made violent signs that it was, by raising and lowering his head eight or ten times successively.

“Gentlemen, you see,” said the duke to those present, who dared not even smile, “that it is the ‘Illustrious Coxcomb’ who is the greatest thief in the world; at least, according to Pistache.”

“Let us go on to another of his exercises.”

“Gentlemen!”--there was a profound silence in the room when the duke again addressed them--“do you not remember that the Duc de Guise taught all the dogs in Paris to jump for Mademoiselle de Pons, whom he styled ‘the fairest of the fair?’ Pistache is going to show you how superior he is to all other dogs. Monsieur de Chavigny, be so good as to lend me your cane.”

Monsieur de Chavigny handed his cane to Monsieur de Beaufort. Monsieur de Beaufort placed it horizontally at the height of one foot.

“Now, Pistache, my good dog, jump the height of this cane for Madame de Montbazon.”

“But,” interposed Monsieur de Chavigny, “it seems to me that Pistache is only doing what other dogs have done when they jumped for Mademoiselle de Pons.”

“Stop,” said the duke, “Pistache, jump for the queen.” And he raised his cane six inches higher.

The dog sprang, and in spite of the height jumped lightly over it.

“And now,” said the duke, raising it still six inches higher, “jump for the king.”

The dog obeyed and jumped quickly over the cane.

“Now, then,” said the duke, and as he spoke, lowered the cane almost level with the ground; “Pistache, my friend, jump for the ‘Illustrious Coxcomb, Mazarin de Piscina.’”

The dog turned his back to the cane.

“What,” asked the duke, “what do you mean?” and he gave him the cane again, first making a semicircle from the head to the tail of Pistache. “Jump then, Monsieur Pistache.”

But Pistache, as at first, turned round on his legs and stood with his back to the cane.

Monsieur de Beaufort made the experiment a third time, but by this time Pistache’s patience was exhausted; he threw himself furiously upon the cane, wrested it from the hands of the prince and broke it with his teeth.

Monsieur de Beaufort took the pieces out of his mouth and presented them with great formality to Monsieur de Chavigny, saying that for that evening the entertainment was ended, but in three months it should be repeated, when Pistache would have learned a few new tricks.

Three days afterward Pistache was found dead--poisoned.

Then the duke said openly that his dog had been killed by a drug with which they meant to poison him; and one day after dinner he went to bed, calling out that he had pains in his stomach and that Mazarin had poisoned him.

This fresh impertinence reached the ears of the cardinal and alarmed him greatly. The donjon of Vincennes was considered very unhealthy and Madame de Rambouillet had said that the room in which the Marechal Ornano and the Grand Prior de Vendome had died was worth its weight in arsenic--a bon mot which had great success. So it was ordered the prisoner was henceforth to eat nothing that had not previously been tasted, and La Ramee was in consequence placed near him as taster.

Every kind of revenge was practiced upon the duke by the governor in return for the insults of the innocent Pistache. De Chavigny, who, according to report, was a son of Richelieu’s, and had been a creature of the late cardinal’s, understood tyranny. He took from the duke all the steel knives and silver forks and replaced them with silver knives and wooden forks, pretending that as he had been informed that the duke was to pass all his life at Vincennes, he was afraid of his prisoner attempting suicide. A fortnight afterward the duke, going to the tennis court, found two rows of trees about the size of his little finger planted by the roadside; he asked what they were for and was told that they were to shade him from the sun on some future day. One morning the gardener went to him and told him, as if to please him, that he was going to plant a bed of asparagus for his especial use. Now, since, as every one knows, asparagus takes four years in coming to perfection, this civility infuriated Monsieur de Beaufort.

At last his patience was exhausted. He assembled his keepers, and notwithstanding his well-known difficulty of utterance, addressed them as follows:

“Gentlemen! will you permit a grandson of Henry IV. to be overwhelmed with insults and ignominy?

“Odds fish! as my grandfather used to say, I once reigned in Paris! do you know that? I had the king and Monsieur the whole of one day in my care. The queen at that time liked me and called me the most honest man in the kingdom. Gentlemen and citizens, set me free; I shall go to the Louvre and strangle Mazarin. You shall be my body-guard. I will make you all captains, with good pensions! Odds fish! On! march forward!”

But eloquent as he might be, the eloquence of the grandson of Henry IV. did not touch those hearts of stone; not one man stirred, so Monsieur de Beaufort was obliged to be satisfied with calling them all kinds of rascals underneath the sun.

Sometimes, when Monsieur de Chavigny paid him a visit, the duke used to ask him what he should think if he saw an army of Parisians, all fully armed, appear at Vincennes to deliver him from prison.

“My lord,” answered De Chavigny, with a low bow, “I have on the ramparts twenty pieces of artillery and in my casemates thirty thousand guns. I should bombard the troops till not one grain of gunpowder was unexploded.”

“Yes, but after you had fired off your thirty thousand guns they would take the donjon; the donjon being taken, I should be obliged to let them hang you--at which I should be most unhappy, certainly.”

And in his turn the duke bowed low to Monsieur de Chavigny.

“For myself, on the other hand, my lord,” returned the governor, “when the first rebel should pass the threshold of my postern doors I should be obliged to kill you with my own hand, since you were confided peculiarly to my care and as I am obliged to give you up, dead or alive.”

And once more he bowed low before his highness.

These bitter-sweet pleasantries lasted ten minutes, sometimes longer, but always finished thus:

Monsieur de Chavigny, turning toward the door, used to call out: “Halloo! La Ramee!”

La Ramee came into the room.

“La Ramee, I recommend Monsieur le Duc to you, particularly; treat him as a man of his rank and family ought to be treated; that is, never leave him alone an instant.”

La Ramee became, therefore, the duke’s dinner guest by compulsion--an eternal keeper, the shadow of his person; but La Ramee--gay, frank, convivial, fond of play, a great hand at tennis, had one defect in the duke’s eyes--his incorruptibility.

Now, although La Ramee appreciated, as of a certain value, the honor of being shut up with a prisoner of so great importance, still the pleasure of living in intimacy with the grandson of Henry IV. hardly compensated for the loss of that which he had experienced in going from time to time to visit his family.

One may be a jailer or a keeper and at the same time a good father and husband. La Ramee adored his wife and children, whom now he could only catch a glimpse of from the top of the wall, when in order to please him they used to walk on the opposite side of the moat. ‘Twas too brief an enjoyment, and La Ramee felt that the gayety of heart he had regarded as the cause of health (of which it was perhaps rather the result) would not long survive such a mode of life.

He accepted, therefore, with delight, an offer made to him by his friend the steward of the Duc de Grammont, to give him a substitute; he also spoke of it to Monsieur de Chavigny, who promised that he would not oppose it in any way--that is, if he approved of the person proposed.

We consider it useless to draw a physical or moral portrait of Grimaud; if, as we hope, our readers have not wholly forgotten the first part of this work, they must have preserved a clear idea of that estimable individual, who is wholly unchanged, except that he is twenty years older, an advance in life that has made him only more silent; although, since the change that had been working in himself, Athos had given Grimaud permission to speak.

But Grimaud had for twelve or fifteen years preserved habitual silence, and a habit of fifteen or twenty years’ duration becomes second nature.


Chapter 18. Grimaud begins his Functions.


Grimaud thereupon presented himself with his smooth exterior at the donjon of Vincennes. Now Monsieur de Chavigny piqued himself on his infallible penetration; for that which almost proved that he was the son of Richelieu was his everlasting pretension; he examined attentively the countenance of the applicant for place and fancied that the contracted eyebrows, thin lips, hooked nose, and prominent cheek-bones of Grimaud were favorable signs. He addressed about twelve words to him; Grimaud answered in four.

“Here’s a promising fellow and it is I who have found out his merits,” said Monsieur de Chavigny. “Go,” he added, “and make yourself agreeable to Monsieur la Ramee, and tell him that you suit me in all respects.”

Grimaud had every quality that could attract a man on duty who wishes to have a deputy. So, after a thousand questions which met with only a word in reply, La Ramee, fascinated by this sobriety in speech, rubbed his hands and engaged Grimaud.

“My orders?” asked Grimaud.

“They are these; never to leave the prisoner alone; to keep away from him every pointed or cutting instrument, and to prevent his conversing any length of time with the keepers.”

“Those are all?” asked Grimaud.

“All now,” replied La Ramee.

“Good,” answered Grimaud; and he went right to the prisoner.

The duke was in the act of combing his beard, which he had allowed to grow, as well as his hair, in order to reproach Mazarin with his wretched appearance and condition. But having some days previously seen from the top of the donjon Madame de Montbazon pass in her carriage, and still cherishing an affection for that beautiful woman, he did not wish to be to her what he wished to be to Mazarin, and in the hope of seeing her again, had asked for a leaden comb, which was allowed him. The comb was to be a leaden one, because his beard, like that of most fair people, was rather red; he therefore dyed it thus whilst combing it.

As Grimaud entered he saw this comb on the tea-table; he took it up, and as he took it he made a low bow.

The duke looked at this strange figure with surprise. The figure put the comb in its pocket.

“Ho! hey! what’s that?” cried the duke. “Who is this creature?”

Grimaud did not answer, but bowed a second time.

“Art thou dumb?” cried the duke.

Grimaud made a sign that he was not.

“What art thou, then? Answer! I command thee!” said the duke.

“A keeper,” replied Grimaud.

“A keeper!” reiterated the duke; “there was nothing wanting in my collection, except this gallows-bird. Halloo! La Ramee! some one!”

La Ramee ran in haste to obey the call.

“Who is this wretch who takes my comb and puts it in his pocket?” asked the duke.

“One of your guards, my prince; a man of talent and merit, whom you will like, as I and Monsieur de Chavigny do, I am sure.”

“Why does he take my comb?”

“Why do you take my lord’s comb?” asked La Ramee.

Grimaud drew the comb from his pocket and passing his fingers over the largest teeth, pronounced this one word, “Pointed.”

“True,” said La Ramee.

“What does the animal say?” asked the duke.

“That the king has forbidden your lordship to have any pointed instrument.”

“Are you mad, La Ramee? You yourself gave me this comb.”

“I was very wrong, my lord, for in giving it to you I acted in opposition to my orders.”

The duke looked furiously at Grimaud.

“I perceive that this creature will be my particular aversion,” he muttered.

Grimaud, nevertheless, was resolved for certain reasons not at once to come to a full rupture with the prisoner; he wanted to inspire, not a sudden repugnance, but a good, sound, steady hatred; he retired, therefore, and gave place to four guards, who, having breakfasted, could attend on the prisoner.

A fresh practical joke now occurred to the duke. He had asked for crawfish for his breakfast on the following morning; he intended to pass the day in making a small gallows and hang one of the finest of these fish in the middle of his room--the red color evidently conveying an allusion to the cardinal--so that he might have the pleasure of hanging Mazarin in effigy without being accused of having hung anything more significant than a crawfish.

The day was employed in preparations for the execution. Every one grows childish in prison, but the character of Monsieur de Beaufort was particularly disposed to become so. In the course of his morning’s walk he collected two or three small branches from a tree and found a small piece of broken glass, a discovery that quite delighted him. When he came home he formed his handkerchief into a loop.

Nothing of all this escaped Grimaud, but La Ramee looked on with the curiosity of a father who thinks that he may perhaps get a cheap idea concerning a new toy for his children. The guards looked on it with indifference. When everything was ready, the gallows hung in the middle of the room, the loop made, and when the duke had cast a glance upon the plate of crawfish, in order to select the finest specimen among them, he looked around for his piece of glass; it had disappeared.

“Who has taken my piece of glass?” asked the duke, frowning. Grimaud made a sign to denote that he had done so.

“What! thou again! Why didst thou take it?”

“Yes--why?” asked La Ramee.

Grimaud, who held the piece of glass in his hand, said: “Sharp.”

“True, my lord!” exclaimed La Ramee. “Ah! deuce take it! we have a precious fellow here!”

“Monsieur Grimaud!” said the duke, “for your sake I beg of you, never come within the reach of my fist!”

“Hush! hush!” cried La Ramee, “give me your gibbet, my lord. I will shape it out for you with my knife.”

And he took the gibbet and shaped it out as neatly as possible.

“That’s it,” said the duke, “now make me a little hole in the floor whilst I go and fetch the culprit.”

La Ramee knelt down and made a hole in the floor; meanwhile the duke hung the crawfish up by a thread. Then he placed the gibbet in the middle of the room, bursting with laughter.

La Ramee laughed also and the guards laughed in chorus; Grimaud, however, did not even smile. He approached La Ramee and showing him the crawfish hung up by the thread:

“Cardinal,” he said.

“Hung by order of his Highness the Duc de Beaufort!” cried the prisoner, laughing violently, “and by Master Jacques Chrysostom La Ramee, the king’s commissioner.”

La Ramee uttered a cry of horror and rushed toward the gibbet, which he broke at once and threw the pieces out of the window. He was going to throw the crawfish out also, when Grimaud snatched it from his hands.

“Good to eat!” he said, and put it in his pocket.

This scene so enchanted the duke that at the moment he forgave Grimaud for his part in it; but on reflection he hated him more and more, being convinced he had some evil motive for his conduct.

But the story of the crab made a great noise through the interior of the donjon and even outside. Monsieur de Chavigny, who at heart detested the cardinal, took pains to tell the story to two or three friends, who put it into immediate circulation.

The prisoner happened to remark among the guards one man with a very good countenance; and he favored this man the more as Grimaud became the more and more odious to him. One morning he took this man on one side and had succeeded in speaking to him, when Grimaud entered and seeing what was going on approached the duke respectfully, but took the guard by the arm.

“Go away,” he said.

The guard obeyed.

“You are insupportable!” cried the duke; “I shall beat you.”

Grimaud bowed.

“I will break every bone in your body!” cried the duke.

Grimaud bowed, but stepped back.

“Mr. Spy,” cried the duke, more and more enraged, “I will strangle you with my own hands.”

And he extended his hands toward Grimaud, who merely thrust the guard out and shut the door behind him. At the same time he felt the duke’s arms on his shoulders like two iron claws; but instead either of calling out or defending himself, he placed his forefinger on his lips and said in a low tone:

“Hush!” smiling as he uttered the word.

A gesture, a smile and a word from Grimaud, all at once, were so unusual that his highness stopped short, astounded.

Grimaud took advantage of that instant to draw from his vest a charming little note with an aristocratic seal, and presented it to the duke without a word.

The duke, more and more bewildered, let Grimaud loose and took the note.

“From Madame de Montbazon?” he cried.

Grimaud nodded assent.

The duke tore open the note, passed his hands over his eyes, for he was dazzled and confused, and read:

“My Dear Duke,--You may entirely confide in the brave lad who will give you this note; he has consented to enter the service of your keeper and to shut himself up at Vincennes with you, in order to prepare and assist your escape, which we are contriving. The moment of your deliverance is at hand; have patience and courage and remember that in spite of time and absence all your friends continue to cherish for you the sentiments they have so long professed and truly entertained.

“Yours wholly and most affectionately

“Marie de Montbazon.

“P.S.--I sign my full name, for I should be vain if I could suppose that after five years of absence you would remember my initials.”

The poor duke became perfectly giddy. What for five years he had been wanting--a faithful servant, a friend, a helping hand--seemed to have fallen from Heaven just when he expected it the least.

“Oh, dearest Marie! she thinks of me, then, after five years of separation! Heavens! there is constancy!” Then turning to Grimaud, he said:

“And thou, my brave fellow, thou consentest thus to aid me?”

Grimaud signified his assent.

“And you have come here with that purpose?”

Grimaud repeated the sign.

“And I was ready to strangle you!” cried the duke.

Grimaud smiled.

“Wait, then,” said the duke, fumbling in his pocket. “Wait,” he continued, renewing his fruitless search; “it shall not be said that such devotion to a grandson of Henry IV. went without recompense.”

The duke’s endeavors evinced the best intention in the world, but one of the precautions taken at Vincennes was that of allowing prisoners to keep no money. Whereupon Grimaud, observing the duke’s disappointment, drew from his pocket a purse filled with gold and handed it to him.

“Here is what you are looking for,” he said.

The duke opened the purse and wanted to empty it into Grimaud’s hands, but Grimaud shook his head.

“Thank you, monseigneur,” he said, drawing back; “I am paid.”

The duke went from one surprise to another. He held out his hand. Grimaud drew near and kissed it respectfully. The grand manner of Athos had left its mark on Grimaud.

“What shall we do? and when? and how proceed?”

“It is now eleven,” answered Grimaud. “Let my lord at two o’clock ask leave to make up a game at tennis with La Ramee and let him send two or three balls over the ramparts.”

“And then?”

“Your highness will approach the walls and call out to a man who works in the moat to send them back again.”

“I understand,” said the duke.

Grimaud made a sign that he was going away.

“Ah!” cried the duke, “will you not accept any money from me?”

“I wish my lord would make me one promise.”

“What! speak!”

“‘Tis this: when we escape together, that I shall go everywhere and be always first; for if my lord should be overtaken and caught, there’s every chance of his being brought back to prison, whereas if I am caught the least that can befall me is to be--hung.”

“True, on my honor as a gentleman it shall be as thou dost suggest.”

“Now,” resumed Grimaud, “I’ve only one thing more to ask--that your highness will continue to detest me.”

“I’ll try,” said the duke.

At this moment La Ramee, after the interview we have described with the cardinal, entered the room. The duke had thrown himself, as he was wont to do in moments of dullness and vexation, on his bed. La Ramee cast an inquiring look around him and observing the same signs of antipathy between the prisoner and his guardian he smiled in token of his inward satisfaction. Then turning to Grimaud:

“Very good, my friend, very good. You have been spoken of in a promising quarter and you will soon, I hope, have news that will be agreeable to you.”

Grimaud saluted in his politest manner and withdrew, as was his custom on the entrance of his superior.

“Well, my lord,” said La Ramee, with his rude laugh, “you still set yourself against this poor fellow?”

“So! ‘tis you, La Ramee; in faith, ‘tis time you came back again. I threw myself on the bed and turned my nose to the wall, that I mightn’t break my promise and strangle Grimaud.”

“I doubt, however,” said La Ramee, in sprightly allusion to the silence of his subordinate, “if he has said anything disagreeable to your highness.”

“Pardieu! you are right--a mute from the East! I swear it was time for you to come back, La Ramee, and I was eager to see you again.”

“Monseigneur is too good,” said La Ramee, flattered by the compliment.

“Yes,” continued the duke, “really, I feel bored today beyond the power of description.”

“Then let us have a match in the tennis court,” exclaimed La Ramee.

“If you wish it.”

“I am at your service, my lord.”

“I protest, my dear La Ramee,” said the duke, “that you are a charming fellow and that I would stay forever at Vincennes to have the pleasure of your society.”

“My lord,” replied La Ramee, “I think if it depended on the cardinal your wishes would be fulfilled.”

“What do you mean? Have you seen him lately?”

“He sent for me to-day.”

“Really! to speak to you about me?”

“Of what else do you imagine he would speak to me? Really, my lord, you are his nightmare.”

The duke smiled with bitterness.

“Ah, La Ramee! if you would but accept my offers! I would make your fortune.”

“How? you would no sooner have left prison than your goods would be confiscated.”

“I shall no sooner be out of prison than I shall be master of Paris.”

“Pshaw! pshaw! I cannot hear such things said as that; this is a fine conversation with an officer of the king! I see, my lord, I shall be obliged to fetch a second Grimaud!”

“Very well, let us say no more about it. So you and the cardinal have been talking about me? La Ramee, some day when he sends for you, you must let me put on your clothes; I will go in your stead; I will strangle him, and upon my honor, if that is made a condition I will return to prison.”

“Monseigneur, I see well that I must call Grimaud.”

“Well, I am wrong. And what did the cuistre [pettifogger] say about me?”

“I admit the word, monseigneur, because it rhymes with ministre [minister]. What did he say to me? He told me to watch you.”

“And why so? why watch me?” asked the duke uneasily.

“Because an astrologer had predicted that you would escape.”

“Ah! an astrologer predicted that?” said the duke, starting in spite of himself.

“Oh, mon Dieu! yes! those imbeciles of magicians can only imagine things to torment honest people.”

“And what did you reply to his most illustrious eminence?”

“That if the astrologer in question made almanacs I would advise him not to buy one.”

“Why not?”

“Because before you could escape you would have to be turned into a bird.”

“Unfortunately, that is true. Let us go and have a game at tennis, La Ramee.”

“My lord--I beg your highness’s pardon--but I must beg for half an hour’s leave of absence.”

“Why?”

“Because Monseigneur Mazarin is a prouder man than his highness, though not of such high birth: he forgot to ask me to breakfast.”

“Well, shall I send for some breakfast here?”

“No, my lord; I must tell you that the confectioner who lived opposite the castle--Daddy Marteau, as they called him----”

“Well?”

“Well, he sold his business a week ago to a confectioner from Paris, an invalid, ordered country air for his health.”

“Well, what have I to do with that?”

“Why, good Lord! this man, your highness, when he saw me stop before his shop, where he has a display of things which would make your mouth water, my lord, asked me to get him the custom of the prisoners in the donjon. ‘I bought,’ said he, ‘the business of my predecessor on the strength of his assurance that he supplied the castle; whereas, on my honor, Monsieur de Chavigny, though I’ve been here a week, has not ordered so much as a tartlet.’ ‘But,’ I then replied, ‘probably Monsieur de Chavigny is afraid your pastry is not good.’ ‘My pastry not good! Well, Monsieur La Ramee, you shall judge of it yourself and at once.’ ‘I cannot,’ I replied; ‘it is absolutely necessary for me to return to the chateau.’ ‘Very well,’ said he, ‘go and attend to your affairs, since you seem to be in a hurry, but come back in half an hour.’ ‘In half an hour?’ ‘Yes, have you breakfasted?’ ‘Faith, no.’ ‘Well, here is a pate that will be ready for you, with a bottle of old Burgundy.’ So, you see, my lord, since I am hungry, I would, with your highness’s leave----” And La Ramee bent low.

“Go, then, animal,” said the duke; “but remember, I only allow you half an hour.”

“May I promise your custom to the successor of Father Marteau, my lord?”

“Yes, if he does not put mushrooms in his pies; thou knowest that mushrooms from the wood of Vincennes are fatal to my family.”

La Ramee went out, but in five minutes one of the officers of the guard entered in compliance with the strict orders of the cardinal that the prisoner should never be left alone a moment.

But during these five minutes the duke had had time to read again the note from Madame de Montbazon, which proved to the prisoner that his friends were concerting plans for his deliverance, but in what way he knew not.

But his confidence in Grimaud, whose petty persecutions he now perceived were only a blind, increased, and he conceived the highest opinion of his intellect and resolved to trust entirely to his guidance.