Philip clapped his hands with enthusiasm, Louis XIV., more reflective, turned towards the Comte de la Fere.
“Is this true,” said he, “in all its details?”
“Absolutely true, sire.”
“That one of my gentlemen knew the secret of the million, and kept it?”
“The name of that gentleman?”
“It was your humble servant,” said Athos, simply, and bowing.
A murmur of admiration made the heart of Athos swell with pleasure. He had reason to be proud, at least. Mazarin, himself, had raised his arms towards heaven.
“Monsieur,” said the king, “I shall seek and find means to reward you.” Athos made a movement. “Oh, not for your honesty, to be paid for that would humiliate you; but I owe you a reward for having participated in the restoration of my brother, King Charles II.”
“Certainly,” said Mazarin.
“It is the triumph of a good cause which fills the whole house of France with joy,” said Anne of Austria.
" I continue,” said Louis XIV.: “Is it also true that a single man penetrated to Monk, in his camp, and carried him off?”
“That man had ten auxiliaries, taken from a very inferior rank.”
“And nothing more but them?”
“And he is named?”
“Monsieur d’Artagnan, formerly lieutenant of the musketeers of your majesty.”
Anne of Austria colored; Mazarin became yellow with shame; Louis XIV. was deeply thoughtful, and a drop of moisture fell from his pale brow. “What men!” murmured he. And, involuntarily, he darted a glance at the minister which would have terrified him, if Mazarin, at the moment, had not concealed his head under his pillow.
“Monsieur,” said the young Duc d’Anjou, placing his hand, delicate and white as that of a woman, upon the arm of Athos, “tell that brave man, I beg you, that Monsieur, brother of the king, will to-morrow drink his health before five hundred of the best gentlemen of France.” And, on finishing those words, the young man, perceiving that his enthusiasm had deranged one of his ruffles, set to work to put it to rights with the greatest care imaginable.
“Let us resume business, sire,” interrupted Mazarin, who never was enthusiastic, and who wore no ruffles.
“Yes, monsieur,” replied Louis XIV. “Pursue your communication, monsieur le comte,” added he, turning towards Athos.
Athos immediately began and offered in due form the hand of the Princess Henrietta Stuart to the young prince, the king’s brother. The conference lasted an hour; after which the doors of the chamber were thrown open to the courtiers, who resumed their places as if nothing had been kept from them in the occupations of that evening. Athos then found himself again with Raoul, and the father and son were able to clasp each other’s hands.