“MY LORD CARDINAL, — Thanks to your good counsels, and, above all, thanks to your firmness, I have succeeded in overcoming a weakness unworthy of a king. You have too ably arranged my destiny to allow gratitude not to stop me at the moment when I was about to destroy your work. I felt I was wrong to wish to make my life turn from the course you had marked out for it. Certainly it would have been a misfortune to France and my family if a misunderstanding had taken place between me and my minister. This, however, would certainly have happened if I had made your niece my wife. I am perfectly aware of this, and will henceforth oppose nothing to the accomplishment of my destiny. I am prepared, then, to wed the infanta, Maria Theresa. You may at once open the conference. — Your affectionate LOUIS.”
The king, after reperusing the letter, sealed it himself.
“This letter for my lord cardinal,” said he.
The gentleman took it. At Mazarin’s door he found Bernouin waiting with anxiety.
“Well?” asked the minister’s valet de chambre.
“Monsieur,” said the gentleman, “here is a letter for his eminence.”
“A letter! Ah! we expected one after the little journey of the morning.”
“Oh! you know, then, that his majesty — "
“As first minister, it belongs to the duties of our charge to know everything. And his majesty prays and implores, I presume.”
“I don’t know, but he sighed frequently whilst he was writing.”
“Yes, yes, yes; we understand all that; people sigh sometimes from happiness as well as from grief, monsieur.”
“And yet the king did not look very happy when he returned, monsieur.”
“You did not see clearly. Besides, you only saw his majesty on his return, for he was only accompanied by the lieutenant of the guards. But I had his eminence’s telescope; I looked through it when he was tired, and I am sure they both wept.”
“Well! was it for happiness they wept?”
“No, but for love, and they vowed to each other a thousand tendernesses, which the king asks no better to keep. Now this letter is a beginning of the execution.”
“And what does his eminence think of this love, which is, by the bye, no secret to anybody?”
Bernouin took the gentleman by the arm, and whilst ascending the staircase, — “In confidence,” said he, in a low voice, “his eminence looks for success in the affair. I know very well we shall have war with Spain; but, bah! war will please the nobles. My lord cardinal, besides, can endow his niece royally, nay, more than royally. There will be money, festivities, and fire-works — everybody will be delighted.”
“Well, for my part,” replied the gentleman, shaking his head, “it appears to me that this letter is very light to contain all that.”
“My friend,” replied Bernouin, “I am certain of what I tell you. M. d’Artagnan related all that passed to me.”