“So, sire, you say you want a million?” said Mazarin.
“Yes, monsieur, I say so.”
“You are mistaken, greatly mistaken, sire; you want much more than that, — Bernouin! — you shall see, sire, how much you really want.”
“What, cardinal!” said the king, “are you going to consult a lackey about my affairs?”
“Bernouin!” cried the cardinal again, without appearing to remark the humiliation of the young prince. “Come here, Bernouin, and tell me the figures I gave you just now.”
“Cardinal, cardinal! did you not hear me?” said Louis, turning pale with anger.
“Do not be angry, sire; I deal openly with the affairs of your majesty. Every one in France knows that; my books are as open as day. What did I tell you to do just now, Bernouin?”
“Your eminence commanded me to cast up an account.”
“You did it, did you not?”
“Yes, my lord.”
“To verify the amount of which his majesty, at this moment, stands in need. Did I not tell you so? Be frank, my friend.”
“Your eminence said so.”
“Well, what sum did I say I wanted?”
“Forty-five millions, I think.”
“And what sum could we find, after collecting all our resources?”
“Thirty-nine millions two hundred and sixty thousand.”
“That is correct, Bernouin; that is all I wanted to know. Leave us now,” said the cardinal, fixing his brilliant eye upon the young king, who sat mute with stupefaction.
“However — " stammered the king.
“What, do you still doubt, sire?” said the cardinal. “Well, here is a proof of what I said.”
And Mazarin drew from under his bolster the paper covered with figures, which he presented to the king, who turned away his eyes, his vexation was so deep.
“Therefore, as it is a million you want, sire, and that million is not set down here, it is forty-six millions your majesty stands in need of. Well, I don’t think that any Jews in the world would lend such a sum, even upon the crown of France.”
The king, clenching his hands beneath his ruffles, pushed away his chair.
“So it must be then!” said he; “my brother the king of England will die of hunger.”
“Sire,” replied Mazarin, in the same tone, “remember this proverb, which I give you as the expression of the soundest policy: ’Rejoice at being poor when your neighbor is poor likewise.’”
Louis meditated this for a few moments, with an inquisitive glance directed to the paper, one end of which remained under the bolster.
“Then,” said he, “it is impossible to comply with my demand for money, my lord cardinal, is it?”
“Remember, this will secure me a future enemy, if he succeed in recovering his crown without my assistance.”
“If your majesty only fears that, you may be quite at ease,” replied Mazarin, eagerly.