Guenaud was about to open his mouth, but Mazarin continued:
“Remember,” said he, “I am the most confiding of your patients; remember I obey you blindly, and that consequently — "
“I know all that,” said Guenaud.
“I shall be cured, then?”
“Monseigneur, there is neither strength of will, nor power, nor genius, nor science that can resist a disease which God doubtless sends, or which He cast upon the earth at the creation, with full power to destroy and kill mankind. When the disease is mortal, and nothing can — "
“Is — my — disease — mortal?” asked Mazarin.
“Yes, my lord.”
His eminence sank down for a moment, like an unfortunate wretch who is crushed by a falling column. But the spirit of Mazarin was a strong one, or rather his mind was a firm one. “Guenaud,” said he, recovering from his first shock, “you will permit me to appeal from your judgment. I will call together the most learned men of Europe: I will consult them. I will live, in short, by the virtue of I care not what remedy.”
“My lord must not suppose,” said Guenaud, “that I have the presumption to pronounce alone upon an existence so valuable as yours. I have already assembled all the good physicians and practitioners of France and Europe. There were twelve of them.”
“And they said — "
“They said that your eminence was suffering from a mortal disease; I have the consultation signed in my portfolio. If your eminence will please to see it, you will find the names of all the incurable diseases we have met with. There is first — "
“No, no!” cried Mazarin, pushing away the paper. “No, no, Guenaud, I yield! I yield!” And a profound silence, during which the cardinal resumed his senses and recovered his strength, succeeded to the agitation of this scene. “There is another thing,” murmured Mazarin; “there are empirics and charlatans. In my country, those whom physicians abandon run the chance of a quack, who kills them ten times but saves them a hundred times.”
“Has not your eminence observed, that during the last month I have changed my remedies ten times?”
“Well, I have spent fifty thousand crowns in purchasing the secrets of all these fellows: the list is exhausted, and so is my purse. You are not cured: and, but for my art, you would be dead.”
“That ends it!” murmured the cardinal; “that ends it.” And he threw a melancholy look upon the riches which surrounded him. “And must I quit all that?” sighed he. “I am dying, Guenaud! I am dying!”
“Oh! not yet, my lord,” said the physician.
Mazarin seized his hand. “In what time?” asked he, fixing his two large eyes upon the impassible countenance of the physician.
“My lord, we never tell that.”
“To ordinary men, perhaps not; — but to me — to me, whose every minute is worth a treasure. Tell me, Guenaud, tell me!”