There was no doubt, then, that this lieutenant of musketeers had heard all that passed in his majesty’s apartment.
Warned by the last words of the young king, he came out just in time to salute him on his passage, and to follow him with his eyes till he had disappeared in the corridor.
Then as soon as he had disappeared, he shook his head after a fashion peculiarly his own, and in a voice which forty years’ absence from Gascony had not deprived of its Gascon accent, “A melancholy service,” said he, “and a melancholy master!”
These words pronounced, the lieutenant resumed his place in his fauteuil, stretched his legs and closed his eyes, like a man who either sleeps or meditates.
During this short monologue and the mise en scene that had accompanied it, whilst the king, through the long corridors of the old castle, proceeded to the apartment of M. de Mazarin, a scene of another sort was being enacted in those apartments.
Mazarin was in bed, suffering a little from the gout. But as he was a man of order, who utilized even pain, he forced his wakefulness to be the humble servant of his labor. He had consequently ordered Bernouin, his valet de chambre, to bring him a little traveling-desk, so that he might write in bed. But the gout is not an adversary that allows itself to be conquered so easily; therefore, at each movement he made, the pain from dull became sharp.
“Is Brienne there?” asked he of Bernouin.
“No, monseigneur,” replied the valet de chambre; “M. de Brienne, with your permission, is gone to bed. But if it is the wish of your eminence, he can speedily be called.”
“No, it is not worth while. Let us see, however. Cursed ciphers!”
And the cardinal began to think, counting on his fingers the while.
“Oh, ciphers is it?” said Bernouin. “Very well! if your eminence attempts calculations, I will promise you a pretty headache to-morrow! And with that please to remember M. Guenaud is not here.”
“You are right, Bernouin. You must take Brienne’s place, my friend. Indeed, I ought to have brought M. Colbert with me. That young man goes on very well, Bernouin, very well; a very orderly youth.”
“I do not know,” sad the valet de chambre, “but I don’t like the countenance of your young man who goes on so well.”
“Well, well, Bernouin! We don’t stand in need of your advice. Place yourself there: take the pen and write.”
“I am ready, monseigneur; what am I to write?”
“There, that’s the place: after the two lines already traced.”
“I am there.”
“Write seven hundred and sixty thousand livres.”
“That is written.”
“Upon Lyons — " The cardinal appeared to hesitate.
“Upon Lyons,” repeated Bernouin.
“Three millions nine hundred thousand livres.”