“It seems to me,” said the timid, thoughtful king, “that Charles II. could not have known of this million whilst he was in Paris.”
“It seems to me,” rejoined the cardinal, maliciously, “that his majesty the king of Great Britain knew perfectly well of this million, but that he preferred having two millions to having one.”
“Sire,” said Athos, firmly, “the king of England, whilst in France, was so poor that he had not even money to take the post; so destitute of hope that he frequently thought of dying. He was so entirely ignorant of the existence of the million at Newcastle, that but for a gentleman — one of your majesty’s subjects — the moral depositary of the million, who revealed the secret to King Charles II., that prince would still be vegetating in the most cruel forgetfulness.”
“Let us pass on to the strange, bold and ingenious idea,” interrupted Mazarin, whose sagacity foresaw a check. “What was that idea?”
“This — M. Monk formed the only obstacle to the re-establishment of the fallen king. A Frenchman imagined the idea of suppressing this obstacle.”
“Oh! oh! but he is a scoundrel, that Frenchman,” said Mazarin; “and the idea is not so ingenious as to prevent its author being tied up by the neck at the Place de Greve, by decree of the parliament.”
“Your eminence is mistaken,” replied Athos, dryly; “I did not say that the Frenchman in question had resolved to assassinate M. Monk, but only to suppress him. The words of the French language have a value which the gentlemen of France know perfectly. Besides, this is an affair of war; and when men serve kings against their enemies they are not to be condemned by a parliament — God is their judge. This French gentleman, then, formed the idea of gaining possession of the person of Monk, and he executed his plan.”
The king became animated at the recital of great actions. The king’s younger brother struck the table with his hand, exclaiming, “Ah! that is fine!”
“He carried off Monk?” said the king. “Why, Monk was in his camp.”
“And the gentleman was alone, sire.”
“That is marvelous!” said Philip.
“Marvelous, indeed!” cried the king.
“Good! There are the two little lions unchained,” murmured the cardinal. And with an air of spite, which he did not dissemble: “I am unacquainted with these details, will you guarantee their authenticity, monsieur?”
“All the more easily, my lord cardinal, from having seen the events.”
The king had involuntarily drawn close to the count, the Duc d’Anjou had turned sharply round, and pressed Athos on the other side.
“What next? monsieur, what next?” cried they both at the same time.
“Sire, M. Monk, being taken by the Frenchman, was brought to King Charles II., at the Hague. The king gave back his freedom to Monk, and the grateful general, in return, gave Charles II. the throne of Great Britain, for which so many valiant men had fought in vain.”