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Twenty Years After

Anne of Austria at the Age of Forty-six
When left alone with Bernouin, Mazarin was for some minutes lost in thought. He had
gained much information, but not enough. Mazarin was a cheat at the card-table. This is a
detail preserved to us by Brienne. He called it using his advantages. He now determined
not to begin the game with D'Artagnan till he knew completely all his adversary's cards.
"My lord, have you any commands?" asked Bernouin.
"Yes, yes," replied Mazarin. "Light me; I am going to the queen."
Bernouin took up a candlestick and led the way.
There was a secret communication between the cardinal's apartments and those of the
queen; and through this corridor* Mazarin passed whenever he wished to visit Anne of
Austria.
*This secret passage is still to be seen in the Palais Royal.
In the bedroom in which this passage ended, Bernouin encountered Madame de Beauvais,
like himself intrusted with the secret of these subterranean love affairs; and Madame de
Beauvais undertook to prepare Anne of Austria, who was in her oratory with the young
king, Louis XIV., to receive the cardinal.
Anne, reclining in a large easy-chair, her head supported by her hand, her elbow resting
on a table, was looking at her son, who was turning over the leaves of a large book filled
with pictures. This celebrated woman fully understood the art of being dull with dignity.
It was her practice to pass hours either in her oratory or in her room, without either
reading or praying.
When Madame de Beauvais appeared at the door and announced the cardinal, the child,
who had been absorbed in the pages of Quintus Curtius, enlivened as they were by
engravings of Alexander's feats of arms, frowned and looked at his mother.
"Why," he said, "does he enter without first asking for an audience?"
Anne colored slightly.
"The prime minister," she said, "is obliged in these unsettled days to inform the queen of
all that is happening from time to time, without exciting the curiosity or remarks of the
court."
"But Richelieu never came in this manner," said the pertinacious boy.
 
 
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