“Your majesty must be rendered very uneasy by the illness of M. le Cardinal Mazarin; but the excess of danger can only prove of service to you. The cardinal is given over by his physician. I thank you for the gracious reply you have made to my communication touching the Princess Henrietta, my sister, and, in a week, the princess and her court will set out for Paris. It is gratifying to me to acknowledge the fraternal friendship you have evinced towards me, and to call you, more justly than ever, my brother. It is gratifying to me, above everything, to prove to your majesty how much I am interested in all that may please you. You are wrong in having Belle-Ile-en-Mer secretly fortified. That is wrong. We shall never be at war against each other. That measure does not make me uneasy, it makes me sad. You are spending useless millions; tell your ministers so; and rest assured that I am well informed; render me the same service, my brother, if occasion offers.”
The king rang his bell violently, and his valet de chambre appeared. “Monsieur Colbert is just gone; he cannot be far off. Let him be called back!” exclaimed he.
The valet was about to execute the order, when the king stopped him.
“No,” said he, “no; I see the whole scheme of that man. Belle-Isle belongs to M. Fouquet; Belle-Isle is being fortified: that is a conspiracy on the part of M. Fouquet. The discovery of that conspiracy is the ruin of the superintendent, and that discovery is the result of the correspondence with England: this is why Colbert wished to have that correspondence. Oh! but I cannot place all my dependence upon that man; he has a good head, but I must have an arm!” Louis, all at once, uttered a joyful cry. “I had,” said he, “a lieutenant of musketeers!”
“Yes, sire — Monsieur d’Artagnan.”
“He quitted the service for a time.”
“Let him be found, and be here to-morrow the first thing in the morning.”
The valet de chambre bowed and went out.
“Thirteen millions in my cellar,” said the king; “Colbert carrying my purse and D’Artagnan my sword — I am king.”
The day of his arrival, on returning from the Palais Royal, Athos, as we have seen, went straight to his hotel in the Rue Saint-Honore. He there found the Vicomte de Bragelonne waiting for him in his chamber, chatting with Grimaud. It was not an easy thing to talk with this old servant. Two men only possessed the secret, Athos and D’Artagnan. The first succeeded, because Grimaud sought to make him speak himself; D’Artagnan, on the contrary, because he knew how to make Grimaud talk. Raoul was occupied in making him describe the voyage to England, and Grimaud had related it in all its details, with a limited number of gestures and eight words, neither more nor less. He had, at first, indicated by an undulating movement of his hand, that his master and he had crossed the sea. “Upon some expedition?” Raoul had asked.