“Sire,” said the comte, “a sort of miracle has changed the whole destiny of Charles II. That which men, till that time, had been unable to do, God resolved to accomplish.”
Mazarin coughed while tossing about in his bed.
“King Charles II.,” continued Athos, “left the Hague neither as a fugitive nor a conqueror, but as an absolute king, who, after a distant voyage from his kingdom, returns amidst universal benedictions.”
“A great miracle, indeed,” said Mazarin; “for, if the news was true, King Charles II., who has just returned amidst benedictions, went away amidst musket-shots.”
The king remained impassible. Philip, younger and more frivolous, could not repress a smile, which flattered Mazarin as an applause of his pleasantry.
“It is plain,” said the king, “there is a miracle; but God, who does so much for kings, monsieur le comte, nevertheless employs the hand of man to bring about the triumph of His designs. To what men does Charles II. principally owe his re-establishment?”
“Why,” interrupted Mazarin, without any regard for the king’s pride — “does not your majesty know that it is to M. Monk?”
“I ought to know it,” replied Louis XIV., resolutely; “and yet I ask my lord ambassador, the causes of the change in this General Monk?”
“And your majesty touches precisely the question,” replied Athos; “for without the miracle of which I have had the honor to speak, General Monk would probably have remained an implacable enemy of Charles II. God willed that a strange, bold, and ingenious idea should enter into the mind of a certain man, whilst a devoted and courageous idea took possession of the mind of another man. The combinations of these two ideas brought about such a change in the position of M. Monk, that, from an inveterate enemy, he became a friend to the deposed king.”
“These are exactly the details I asked for,” said the king. “Who and what are the two men of whom you speak?”
“Two Frenchmen, sire.”
“Indeed! I am glad of that.”
“And the two ideas,” said Mazarin; — “I am more curious about ideas than about men, for my part.”
“Yes,” murmured the king.
“The second idea, the devoted, reasonable idea
— the least important, sir — was to go
and dig up a million in gold, buried by King Charles
Newcastle, and to purchase with that gold the adherence of Monk.”
“Oh, oh!” said Mazarin, reanimated by the word million. “But Newcastle was at the time occupied by Monk.”
“Yes, monsieur le cardinal, and that is why I venture to call the idea courageous as well as devoted. It was necessary, if Monk refused the offers of the negotiator, to reinstate King Charles II. in possession of this million, which was to be torn, as it were, from the loyalty and not the loyalism of General Monk. This was effected in spite of many difficulties: the general proved to be loyal, and allowed the money to be taken away.”