“Ah! that is true! — yes — the recital may be long.”
“The mercy of God is great,” snuffled the Theatin.
“Stop,” said Mazarin; “there I begin to terrify myself with having allowed so many things to pass which the Lord might reprove.”
“Is that not always so?” said the Theatin naively, removing further from the lamp his thin pointed face, like that of a mole. “Sinners are so forgetful beforehand, and scrupulous when it is too late.”
“Sinners?” replied Mazarin. “Do you use that word ironically, and to reproach me with all the genealogies I have allowed to be made on my account — I — the son of a fisherman, in fact?”
[This is quite untranslatable — it being a play upon the words pecheur (with a grave over the first e), a sinner, and pecheur (with an accent circumflex over the first e), a fisherman. It is in very bad taste. — TRANS.]
“Hum!” said the Theatin.
“That is a first sin, father; for I have allowed myself made to descend from two old Roman consuls, S. Geganius Macerinus 1st, Macerinus 2d, and Proculus Macerinus 3d, of whom the Chronicle of Haolander speaks. From Macerinus to Mazarin the proximity was tempting. Macerinus, a diminutive, means leanish, poorish, out of case. Oh! reverend father! Mazarini may now be carried to the augmentative Maigre, thin as Lazarus. Look!” — and he showed his fleshless arms.
“In your having been born of a family of fishermen I see nothing injurious to you; for — St. Peter was a fisherman; and if you are a prince of the church, my lord, he was the supreme head of it. Pass on, if you please.”
“So much the more for my having threatened with the Bastile a certain Bounet, a priest of Avignon, who wanted to publish a genealogy of the Casa Mazarini much too marvelous.”
“To be probable?” replied the Theatin.
“Oh! if I had acted up to his idea, father, that would have been the vice of pride — another sin.”
“It was an excess of wit, and a person is not to be reproached with such sorts of abuses. Pass on, pass on!”
“I was all pride. Look you, father, I will endeavor to divide that into capital sins.”
“I like divisions, when well made.”
“I am glad of that. You must know that in 1630 — alas! that is thirty-one years ago — "
“You were then twenty-nine years old, monseigneur.”
“A hot-headed age. I was then something of a soldier, and I threw myself at Casal into the arquebusades, to show that I rode on horseback as well as an officer. It is true, I restored peace between the French and the Spaniards. That redeems my sin a little.”
“I see no sin in being able to ride well on horseback,” said the Theatin; “that is in perfect good taste, and does honor to our gown. As a Christian, I approve of your having prevented the effusion of blood; as a monk, I am proud of the bravery a monk has exhibited.”