The duke seized the hand of the king, but without enthusiasm, without joy, as he did everything. His heart, however, had been moved by this last favor. Charles, by skillfully husbanding his generosity, had given the duke time to wish, although he might not have wished for so much as was given him.
“Mordioux!” grumbled D’Artagnan, “there is the shower beginning again! Oh! it is enough to turn one’s brain!” and he turned away with an air so sorrowful and so comically piteous, that the king, who caught it, could not restrain a smile. Monk was preparing to leave the room, to take leave of Charles.
“What! my trusty and well-beloved!” said the king to the duke, “are you going?”
“With your majesty’s permission, for in truth I am weary. The emotions of the day have worn me out; I stand in need of rest.”
“But,” said the king, “you are not going without M. d’Artagnan, I hope.”
“Why not, sire?” said the old warrior.
“Well! you know very well why,” said the king.
Monk looked at Charles with astonishment.
“Oh! it may be possible; but if you forget, you, M. d’Artagnan, do not.”
Astonishment was painted on the face of the musketeer.
“Well, then, duke,” said the king, “do you not lodge with M. d’Artagnan?”
“I had the honor of offering M. d’Artagnan a lodging; yes, sire.”
“That idea is your own, and yours solely?”
“Mine and mine only; yes, sire.”
“Well! but it could not be otherwise — the prisoner always lodges with his conqueror.”
Monk colored in his turn. “Ah! that is true,” said he; “I am M. d’Artagnan’s prisoner.”
“Without doubt, duke, since you are not yet ransomed; but have no care of that; it was I who took you out of M. d’Artagnan’s hands, and it is I who will pay your ransom.”
The eyes of D’Artagnan regained their gayety and their brilliancy. The Gascon began to understand. Charles advanced towards him.
“The general,” said he, “is not rich, and cannot pay you what he is worth. I am richer, certainly; but now that he is a duke, and if not a king, almost a king, he is worth a sum I could not perhaps pay. Come, M. d’Artagnan, be moderate with me; how much do I owe you?”
D’Artagnan, delighted at the turn things were taking, but not for a moment losing his self-possession, replied, — “Sire, your majesty has no occasion to be alarmed. When I had the good fortune to take his grace, M. Monk was only a general; it is therefore only a general’s ransom that is due to me. But if the general will have the kindness to deliver me his sword, I shall consider myself paid; for there is nothing in the world but the general’s sword which is worth as much as himself.”
“Odds fish! as my father said,” cried Charles. “That is a gallant proposal, and a gallant man, is he not, duke?”
“Upon my honor, yes, sire,” and he drew his sword. “Monsieur,” said he to D’Artagnan, “here is what you demand. Many have handled a better blade; but however modest mine may be, I have never surrendered it to any one.”