“Read it yourself,” said the musketeer.
Athos took the paper and read:
“MONSIEUR D’ARTAGNAN. — The king regrets very much you did not come to St. Paul’s with his cortege. He missed you, as I also have missed you, my dear captain. There is but one means of repairing all this. His majesty expects me at nine o’clock at the palace of St. James’s: will you be there at the same time with me? His gracious majesty appoints that hour for an audience he grants you.”
This letter was from Monk.
“Well?” cried Athos with a mild look of reproach, when D’Artagnan had read the letter addressed to him by Monk.
“Well!” said D’Artagnan, red with pleasure, and a little with shame, at having so hastily accused the king and Monk. “This is a politeness, — which leads to nothing, it is true, but yet it is a politeness.”
“I had great difficulty in believing the young prince ungrateful,” said Athos.
“The fact is, that his present is still too near his past,” replied D’Artagnan; “after all, everything to the present moment proved me right.”
“I acknowledge it, my dear friend, I acknowledge it. Ah! there is your cheerful look returned. You cannot think how delighted I am.”
“Thus you see,” said D’Artagnan, “Charles II. receives M. Monk at nine o’clock; he will receive me at ten; it is a grand audience, of the sort which at the Louvre are called ‘distributions of court holy water.’ Come, let us go and place ourselves under the spout, my dear friend! Come along.”
Athos replied nothing; and both directed their steps, at a quick pace, towards the palace of St. James’s, which the crowd still surrounded, to catch, through the windows, the shadows of the courtiers, and the reflection of the royal person. Eight o’clock was striking when the two friends took their places in the gallery filled with courtiers and politicians. Every one looked at these simply-dressed men in foreign costumes, at these two noble heads so full of character and meaning. On their side, Athos and D’Artagnan, having with two glances taken the measure of the whole assembly, resumed their chat.
A great noise was suddenly heard at the extremity of the gallery, — it was General Monk, who entered, followed by more than twenty officers, all eager for a smile, as only the evening before he was master of all England, and a glorious to-morrow was looked to, for the restorer of the Stuart family.
“Gentlemen,” said Monk, turning round, “henceforward I beg you to remember that I am no longer anything. Lately I commanded the principal army of the republic; now that army is the king’s, into whose hands I am about to surrender, at his command, my power of yesterday.”
Great surprise was painted on all the countenances, and the circle of adulators and suppliants which surrounded Monk an instant before, was enlarged by degrees, and ended by being lost in the large undulations of the crowd. Monk was going into the ante-chamber as others did. D’Artagnan could not help remarking this to the Comte de la Fere, who frowned on beholding it. Suddenly the door of the royal apartment opened, and the young king appeared, preceded by two officers of his household.