Twenty Years After HTML version
A Nightly Patrol
In ten minutes Mazarin and his party were traversing the street "Les Bons Enfants"
behind the theatre built by Richelieu expressly for the play of "Mirame," and in which
Mazarin, who was an amateur of music, but not of literature, had introduced into France
the first opera that was ever acted in that country.
The appearance of the town denoted the greatest agitation. Numberless groups paraded
the streets and, whatever D'Artagnan might think of it, it was obvious that the citizens
had for the night laid aside their usual forbearance, in order to assume a warlike aspect.
From time to time noises came in the direction of the public markets. The report of
firearms was heard near the Rue Saint Denis and occasionally church bells began to ring
indiscriminately and at the caprice of the populace. D'Artagnan, meantime, pursued his
way with the indifference of a man upon whom such acts of folly made no impression.
When he approached a group in the middle of the street he urged his horse upon it
without a word of warning; and the members of the group, whether rebels or not, as if
they knew with what sort of a man they had to deal, at once gave place to the patrol. The
cardinal envied that composure, which he attributed to the habit of meeting danger; but
none the less he conceived for the officer under whose orders he had for the moment
placed himself, that consideration which even prudence pays to careless courage. On
approaching an outpost near the Barriere des Sergens, the sentinel cried out, "Who's
there?" and D'Artagnan answered -- having first asked the word of the cardinal -- "Louis
and Rocroy." After which he inquired if Lieutenant Comminges were not the
commanding officer at the outpost. The soldier replied by pointing out to him an officer
who was conversing, on foot, his hand upon the neck of a horse on which the individual
to whom he was talking sat. Here was the officer D'Artagnan was seeking.
"Here is Monsieur Comminges," said D'Artagnan, returning to the cardinal. He instantly
retired, from a feeling of respectful delicacy; it was, however, evident that the cardinal
was recognized by both Comminges and the other officers on horseback.
"Well done, Guitant," cried the cardinal to the equestrian; "I see plainly that,
notwithstanding the sixty-four years that have passed over your head, you are still the
same man, active and zealous. What were you saying to this youngster?"
"My lord," replied Guitant, "I was observing that we live in troublous times and that to-
day's events are very like those in the days of the Ligue, of which I heard so much in my
youth. Are you aware that the mob have even suggested throwing up barricades in the
Rue Saint Denis and the Rue Saint Antoine?"
"And what was Comminges saying to you in reply, my good Guitant?"
"My lord," said Comminges, "I answered that to compose a Ligue only one ingredient
was wanting -- in my opinion an essential one -- a Duc de Guise; moreover, no
generation ever does the same thing twice."