“Man is mortal,” replied Colbert.
“I have always remembered that, M. Colbert, and I have worked with that end in view. You know that I have amassed a little wealth.”
“I know you have, monseigneur.”
“At how much do you estimate, as near as you can, the amount of this wealth, M. Colbert?”
“At forty millions, five hundred and sixty thousand, two hundred livres, nine cents, eight farthings,” replied Colbert.
The cardinal heaved a deep sigh, and looked at Colbert with wonder, but he allowed a smile to steal across his lips.
“Known money,” added Colbert, in reply to that smile.
The cardinal gave quite a start in bed. “What do you mean by that?” said he.
“I mean,” said Colbert, “that besides those forty millions, five hundred and sixty thousand, two hundred livres, nine cents, eight farthings, there are thirteen millions that are not known.”
“Ouf!” sighed Mazarin, “what a man!”
At this moment, the head of Bernouin appeared through the embrasure of the door.
“What is it?” asked Mazarin, “and why do you disturb me?”
“The Theatin father, your eminence’s director, was sent for this evening; and he cannot come again to my lord till after to-morrow.”
Mazarin looked a Colbert, who rose and took his hat, saying: “I shall come again, my lord.”
Mazarin hesitated. “No, no,” said he; “I have as much business to transact with you as with him. Besides, you are my other confessor — and what I have to say to one the other may hear. Remain where you are, Colbert.”
“But my lord, if there be no secret of penitence, will the director consent to my being here?”
“Do not trouble yourself about that; come into the ruelle.”
“I can wait outside, monseigneur.”
“No, no, it will do you good to hear the confession of a rich man.”
Colbert bowed and went into the ruelle.
“Introduce the Theatin father,” said Mazarin, closing the curtains.
The Theatin entered deliberately, without being too much astonished at the noise and agitation which anxiety for the cardinal’s health had raised in his household. “Come in, my reverend father,” said Mazarin, after a last look at the ruelle, “come in and console me.”
“That is my duty, my lord,” replied the Theatin.
“Begin by sitting down, and making yourself comfortable, for I am going to begin with a general confession; you will afterwards give me a good absolution, and I shall believe myself more tranquil.”
“My lord,” said the father, “you are not so ill as to make a general confession urgent — and it will be very fatiguing — take care.”
“You suspect, then, that it may be long, father?”
“How can I think it otherwise, when a man has lived so completely as your eminence has done?”