“Good evening, gentlemen,” said he. “Is General Monk here?”
“I am here, sire,” replied the old general.
Charles stepped hastily towards him, and seized his hand with the warmest demonstration of friendship. “General,” said the king, aloud, “I have just signed your patent, — you are Duke of Albemarle; and my intention is that no one shall equal you in power and fortune in this kingdom, where — the noble Montrose excepted — no one has equaled you in loyalty, courage, and talent. Gentlemen, the duke is commander of our armies of land and sea; pay him your respects, if you please, in that character.”
Whilst every one was pressing round the general, who received all this homage without losing his impassibility for an instant, D’Artagnan said to Athos: “When one thinks that this duchy, this commander of the land and sea forces, all these grandeurs, in a word, have been shut up in a box six feet long and three feet wide — "
“My friend,” replied Athos, “much more imposing grandeurs are confined in boxes still smaller, — and remain there forever.”
All at once Monk perceived the two gentlemen, who held themselves aside until the crowd had diminished; he made himself a passage towards them, so that he surprised them in the midst of their philosophical reflections. “Were you speaking of me?” sad he, with a smile.
“My lord,” replied Athos, “we were speaking likewise of God.”
Monk reflected for a moment, and then replied gayly: “Gentlemen, let us speak a little of the king likewise, if you please; for you have, I believe, an audience of his majesty.”
“At nine o’clock,” said Athos.
“At ten o’clock,” said D’Artagnan.
“Let us go into this closet at once,” replied Monk, making a sign to his two companions to precede him; but to that neither would consent.
The king, during this discussion so characteristic of the French, had returned to the center of the gallery.
“Oh! my Frenchmen!” said he, in that tone of careless gayety which, in spite of so much grief and so many crosses, he had never lost. “My Frenchmen! my consolation!” Athos and D’Artagnan bowed.
“Duke, conduct these gentlemen into my study. I am at your service, messieurs,” added he in French. And he promptly expedited his court, to return to his Frenchmen, as he called them. “Monsieur d’Artagnan,” said he, as he entered his closet, “I am glad to see you again.”
“Sire, my joy is at its height, at having the honor to salute your majesty in your own palace of St. James’s.”
“Monsieur, you have been willing to render me a great service, and I owe you my gratitude for it. If I did not fear to intrude upon the rights of our command general, I would offer you some post worthy of you near our person.”
“Sire,” replied D’Artagnan, “I have quitted the service of the king of France, making a promise to my prince not to serve any other king.”