“My friend, I am most anxious to be off, and will go at once and pay my respects to the king.”
“I,” said Athos, “am going to call upon some friends in the city, and shall then be at your service.”
“Will you lend me Grimaud?”
“With all my heart. What do you want to do with him?”
“Something very simple, and which will not fatigue him; I shall only beg him to take charge of my pistols, which lie there on the table near that coffer.”
“Very well!” replied Athos, imperturbably.
“And he will not stir, will he?”
“Not more than the pistols themselves.”
“Then I shall go and take leave of his majesty. Au revoir!”
D’Artagnan arrived at St. James’s, where Charles II., who was busy writing, kept him in the ante-chamber a full hour. Whilst walking about in the gallery, from the door to the window, from the window to the door, he thought he saw a cloak like Athos’s cross the vestibule; but at the moment he was going to ascertain if it were he, the usher summoned him to his majesty’s presence. Charles II. rubbed his hands while receiving the thanks of our friend.
“Chevalier,” said he, “you are wrong to express gratitude to me; I have not paid you a quarter of the value of the history of the box into which you put the brave general — the excellent Duke of Albemarle, I mean.” And the king laughed heartily.
D’Artagnan did not think it proper to interrupt his majesty, and he bowed with much modesty.
“A propos,” continued Charles, “do you think my dear Monk has really pardoned you?”
“Pardoned me! yes, I hope so, sire!”
“Eh! — but it was a cruel trick! Odds fish! to pack up the first personage of the English revolution like a herring. In your place I would not trust him, chevalier.”
“But, sire — "
“Yes, I know very well Monk calls you his friend, but he has too penetrating an eye not to have a memory, and too lofty a brow not to be very proud, you know, grande supercilium.”
“I shall certainly learn Latin,” said D’Artagnan to himself.
“But stop,” cried the merry monarch, “I must manage your reconciliation; I know how to set about it; so — "
D’Artagnan bit his mustache. “Will your majesty permit me to tell you the truth?”
“Speak, chevalier, speak.”
“Well, sire, you alarm me greatly. If your majesty undertakes the affair, as you seem inclined to do, I am a lost man; the duke will have me assassinated.”
The king burst into a fresh roar of laughter, which changed D’Artagnan’s alarm into downright terror.
“Sire, I beg you to allow me to settle this matter myself, and if your majesty has no further need of my services — "
“No, chevalier. What, do you want to leave us?” replied Charles, with a hilarity that grew more and more alarming.
“If your majesty has no more commands for me.”