“It must have cost you a great deal of money to carry these plans into execution,” said he.
“I believe I had the honor of telling your majesty the amount.”
“Repeat it if you please, I have forgotten it.”
“Sixteen hundred thousand livres.”
“Sixteen hundred thousand livres! you are enormously rich, monsieur.”
“It is your majesty who is rich, since Belle-Isle is yours.”
“Yes, thank you; but however rich I may be, M. Fouquet — " The king stopped.
“Well, sire?” asked the superintendent.
“I foresee the moment when I shall want money.”
“You, sire? And at what moment then?”
“To-morrow, for example.”
“Will your majesty do me the honor to explain yourself?”
“My brother is going to marry the English Princess.”
“Well, I ought to give the bride a reception worthy of the granddaughter of Henry IV.”
“That is but just, sire.”
“Then I shall want money.”
“I shall want — " Louis hesitated. The sum he was going to demand was the same that he had been obliged to refuse Charles II. He turned towards Colbert, that he might give the blow.
“I shall want, to-morrow — " repeated he, looking at Colbert.
“A million,” said the latter, bluntly; delighted to take his revenge.
Fouquet turned his back upon the intendant to listen to the king. He did not turn round, but waited till the king repeated, or rather murmured, “A million.”
“Oh! sire,” replied Fouquet disdainfully, “a million! what will your majesty do with a million?”
“It appears to me, nevertheless — " said Louis XIV.
“That is not more than is spent at the nuptials of one of the most petty princes of Germany.”
“Your majesty must have two millions at least. The horses alone would run away with five hundred thousand livres. I shall have the honor of sending your majesty sixteen hundred thousand livres this evening.”
“How,” said the king, “sixteen hundred thousand livres?”
“Look, sire,” replied Fouquet, without even turning towards Colbert, “I know that wants four hundred thousand livres of the two millions. But this monsieur of l’intendance” (pointing over his shoulder to Colbert, who if possible, became paler, behind him) “has in his coffers nine hundred thousand livres of mine.”
The king turned round to look at Colbert.
“But — " said the latter.
“Monsieur,” continued Fouquet, still speaking indirectly to Colbert, “monsieur has received, a week ago, sixteen hundred thousand livres; he has paid a hundred thousand livres to the guards, sixty-four thousand livres to the hospitals, twenty-five thousand to the Swiss, an hundred and thirty thousand for provisions, a thousand for arms, ten thousand for accidental expenses; I do not err, then, in reckoning upon nine hundred thousand livres that are left.” Then turning towards Colbert, like a disdainful head of office towards his inferior, “Take care, monsieur,” said he, “that those nine hundred thousand livres be remitted to his majesty this evening, in gold.”