Twenty Years Later by Dumas, Alexandre. Part one

Twenty Years Later. Part one

Twenty Years Later

by Alexandre Dumas


The Shade of Cardinal Richelieu.

In a splendid chamber of the Palais Royal, formerly styled

the Palais Cardinal, a man was sitting in deep reverie, his

head supported on his hands, leaning over a gilt and inlaid

table which was covered with letters and papers. Behind this

figure glowed a vast fireplace alive with leaping flames;

great logs of oak blazed and crackled on the polished brass

andirons whose flicker shone upon the superb habiliments of

the lonely tenant of the room, which was illumined grandly

by twin candelabra rich with wax-lights.

Any one who happened at that moment to contemplate that red

simar — the gorgeous robe of office — and the rich lace,

or who gazed on that pale brow, bent in anxious meditation,

might, in the solitude of that apartment, combined with the

silence of the ante-chambers and the measured paces of the

guards upon the landing-place, have fancied that the shade

of Cardinal Richelieu lingered still in his accustomed


It was, alas! the ghost of former greatness. France

enfeebled, the authority of her sovereign contemned, her

nobles returning to their former turbulence and insolence,

her enemies within her frontiers — all proved the great

Richelieu no longer in existence.

In truth, that the red simar which occupied the wonted place

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Dumas, Alexandre – Twenty Years After

was his no longer, was still more strikingly obvious from

the isolation which seemed, as we have observed, more

appropriate to a phantom than a living creature — from the

corridors deserted by courtiers, and courts crowded with

guards — from that spirit of bitter ridicule, which,

arising from the streets below, penetrated through the very

casements of the room, which resounded with the murmurs of a

whole city leagued against the minister; as well as from the

distant and incessant sounds of guns firing — let off,

happily, without other end or aim, except to show to the

guards, the Swiss troops and the military who surrounded the

Palais Royal, that the people were possessed of arms.

The shade of Richelieu was Mazarin. Now Mazarin was alone

and defenceless, as he well knew.

“Foreigner!” he ejaculated, “Italian! that is their mean yet

mighty byword of reproach — the watchword with which they

assassinated, hanged, and made away with Concini; and if I

gave them their way they would assassinate, hang, and make

away with me in the same manner, although they have nothing

to complain of except a tax or two now and then. Idiots!

ignorant of their real enemies, they do not perceive that it

is not the Italian who speaks French badly, but those who

can say fine things to them in the purest Parisian accent,

who are their real foes.

“Yes, yes,” Mazarin continued, whilst his wonted smile, full

of subtlety, lent a strange expression to his pale lips;

“yes, these noises prove to me, indeed, that the destiny of

favorites is precarious; but ye shall know I am no ordinary

favorite. No! The Earl of Essex, ’tis true, wore a splendid

ring, set with diamonds, given him by his royal mistress,

whilst I — I have nothing but a simple circlet of gold,

with a cipher on it and a date; but that ring has been

blessed in the chapel of the Palais Royal,* so they will

never ruin me, as they long to do, and whilst they shout,

`Down with Mazarin!’ I, unknown, and unperceived by them,

incite them to cry out, `Long live the Duke de Beaufort’ one

day; another, `Long live the Prince de Conde;’ and again,

`Long live the parliament!'” And at this word the smile on

the cardinal’s lips assumed an expression of hatred, of

which his mild countenance seemed incapable. “The

parliament! We shall soon see how to dispose,” he continued,

“of the parliament! Both Orleans and Montargis are ours. It

will be a work of time, but those who have begun by crying

out: Down with Mazarin! will finish by shouting out, Down

with all the people I have mentioned, each in his turn.

* It is said that Mazarin, who, though a cardinal, had not

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