The Vicomte De Bragelonne eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 712 pages of information about The Vicomte De Bragelonne.

Chapter XLIII:  Guenaud.

The cardinal’s order was pressing; Guenaud quickly obeyed it.  He found his patient stretched on his bed, his legs swelled, his face livid, and his stomach collapsed.  Mazarin had a severe attack of gout.  He suffered tortures with the impatience of a man who has not been accustomed to resistances.  On seeing Guenaud:  “Ah!” said he; “now I am saved!”

Guenaud was a very learned and circumspect man, who stood in no need of the critiques of Boileau to obtain a reputation.  When facing a disease, if it were personified in a king, he treated the patient as a Turk treats a Moor.  He did not, therefore, reply to Mazarin as the minister expected:  “Here is the doctor; good-bye disease!” On the contrary, on examining his patient, with a very serious air: 

“Oh! oh!” said he.

“Eh! what!  Guenaud!  How you look at me!”

“I look as I should on seeing your complaint, my lord; it is a very dangerous one.”

“The gout — oh! yes, the gout.”

“With complications, my lord.”

Mazarin raised himself upon his elbow, and, questioning by look and gesture:  “What do you mean by that?  Am I worse than I believe myself to be?”

“My lord,” said Guenaud, seating himself beside the bed; “your eminence has worked very hard during your life; your eminence has suffered much.”

“But I am not old, I fancy.  The late M. de Richelieu was but seventeen months younger than I am when he died, and died of a mortal disease.  I am young, Guenaud:  remember, I am scarcely fifty-two.”

“Oh! my lord, you are much more than that.  How long did the Fronde last?”

“For what purpose do you put such a question to me?”

“For a medical calculation, monseigneur.”

“Well, some ten years — off and on.”

“Very well; be kind enough to reckon every year of the Fronde as three years — that makes thirty; now twenty and fifty-two makes seventy-two years.  You are seventy-two, my lord; and that is a great age.”

Whilst saying this, he felt the pulse of his patient.  This pulse was full of such fatal indications, that the physician continued, notwithstanding the interruptions of the patient:  “Put down the years of the Fronde at four each, and you have lived eighty-two years.”

“Are you speaking seriously, Guenaud?”

“Alas! yes, monseigneur.”

“You take a roundabout way, then, to inform me that I am very ill?”

Ma foi! yes, my lord, and with a man of the mind and courage of your eminence, it ought not to be necessary to do so.”

The cardinal breathed with such difficulty that he inspired pity even in a pitiless physician.  “There are diseases and diseases,” resumed Mazarin.  “From some of them people escape.”

“That is true, my lord.”

“Is it not?” cried Mazarin, almost joyously; “for, in short, what else would be the use of power, of strength of will?  What would the use of genius be — your genius, Guenaud?  What would be the use of science and art, if the patient, who disposes of all that, cannot be saved from peril?”

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The Vicomte De Bragelonne from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.