Twenty Years After HTML version
The Duc de Beaufort
The circumstances that had hastened the return of D'Artagnan to Paris were as follows:
One evening, when Mazarin, according to custom, went to visit the queen, in passing the
guard-chamber he heard loud voices; wishing to know on what topic the soldiers were
conversing, he approached with his wonted wolf-like step, pushed open the door and put
his head close to the chink.
There was a dispute among the guards.
"I tell you," one of them was saying, "that if Coysel predicted that, 'tis as good as true; I
know nothing about it, but I have heard say that he's not only an astrologer, but a
"Deuce take it, friend, if he's one of thy friends thou wilt ruin him in saying so."
"Because he may be tried for it."
"Ah! absurd! they don't burn sorcerers nowadays."
"No? 'Tis not a long time since the late cardinal burnt Urban Grandier, though."
"My friend, Urban Grandier wasn't a sorcerer, he was a learned man. He didn't predict the
future, he knew the past -- often a more dangerous thing."
Mazarin nodded an assent, but wishing to know what this prediction was, about which
they disputed, he remained in the same place.
"I don't say," resumed the guard, "that Coysel is not a sorcerer, but I say that if his
prophecy gets wind, it's a sure way to prevent it's coming true."
"Why, in this way: if Coysel says loud enough for the cardinal to hear him, on such or
such a day such a prisoner will escape, 'tis plain that the cardinal will take measures of
precaution and that the prisoner will not escape."
"Good Lord!" said another guard, who might have been thought asleep on a bench, but
who had lost not a syllable of the conversation, "do you suppose that men can escape
their destiny? If it is written yonder, in Heaven, that the Duc de Beaufort is to escape, he
will escape; and all the precautions of the cardinal will not prevent it."