There came a tap at the door. He sprang up eagerly, thinking that the ecclesiastic might have arrived. It was, however, only his personal attendant, to say that Louvois would crave an interview. Close at his heels came the minister himself, high-nosed and heavy-chinned. Two leather bags were dangling from his hand.
“Sire,” said he, when Bontems had retired, “I trust that I do not intrude upon you.”
“No, no, Louvois. My thoughts were in truth beginning to be very indifferent company, and I am glad to be rid of them.”
“Your Majesty’s thoughts can never, I am sure, be anything but pleasant,” said the courtier. “But I have brought you here something which I trust may make them even more so.”
“Ah! What is that?”
“When so many of our young nobles went into Germany and Hungary, you were pleased in your wisdom to say that you would like well to see what reports they sent home to their friends; also what news was sent out from the court to them.”
“I have them here—all that the courier has brought in, and all that are gathered to go out, each in its own bag. The wax has been softened in spirit, the fastenings have been steamed, and they are now open.”
The king took out a handful of the letters and glanced at the addresses.
“I should indeed like to read the hearts of these people,” said he. “Thus only can I tell the true thoughts of those who bow and simper before my face. I suppose,” with a sudden flash of suspicion from his eyes, “that you have not yourself looked into these?”