D’Artagnan received with pride the sword which had just made a king.
“Oh! oh!” cried Charles II.; “what a sword that has restored me to my throne — to go out of the kingdom — and not, one day, to figure among the crown jewels! No, on my soul! that shall not be! Captain d’Artagnan, I will give you two hundred thousand livres for your sword! If that is too little, say so.”
“It is too little, sire,” replied D’Artagnan, with inimitable seriousness. “In the first place, I do not at all wish to sell it; but your majesty desires me to do so, and that is an order. I obey, then, but the respect I owe to the illustrious warrior who hears me, commands me to estimate a third more the reward of my victory. I ask then three hundred thousand livres for the sword, or I shall give it to your majesty for nothing.” And taking it by the point he presented it to the king. Charles broke into hilarious laughter.
“A gallant man, and a merry companion! Odds fish! is he not, duke? is he not, comte? He pleases me! I like him! Here, Chevalier d’Artagnan, take this.” And going to the table, he took a pen and wrote an order upon his treasurer for three hundred thousand livres.
D’Artagnan took it, and turning gravely towards Monk: “I have still asked too little, I know,” said he, “but believe me, your grace, I would rather have died that allow myself to be governed by avarice.”
The king began to laugh again, like the happiest cockney of his kingdom.
“You will come and see me again before you go, chevalier?” said he; “I shall want to lay in a stock of gayety now my Frenchmen are leaving me.”
“Ah! sire, it will not be with the gayety as with the duke’s sword; I will give it to your majesty gratis,” replied D’Artagnan, whose feet scarcely seemed to touch the ground.
“And you, comte,” added Charles, turning towards Athos, “come again, also; I have an important message to confide to you. Your hand, duke.” Monk pressed the hand of the king.
“Adieu! gentlemen,” said Charles, holding out each of his hands to the two Frenchmen, who carried them to their lips.
“Well,” said Athos, when they were out of the palace, “are you satisfied?”
“Hush!” said D’Artagnan, wild with joy, “I have not yet returned from the treasurer’s — a shutter may fall upon my head.”
D’Artagnan lost no time, and as soon as the thing was suitable and opportune, he paid a visit to the lord treasurer of his majesty. He had then the satisfaction to exchange a piece of paper, covered with very ugly writing, for a prodigious number of crowns, recently stamped with the effigies of his very gracious majesty Charles II.