Twenty Years After HTML version
D'Artagnan arrived at the Bastile just as it was striking half-past eight. His visit was
announced to the governor, who, on hearing that he came from the cardinal, went to meet
him and received him at the top of the great flight of steps outside the door. The governor
of the Bastile was Monsieur du Tremblay, the brother of the famous Capuchin, Joseph,
that fearful favorite of Richelieu's, who went by the name of the Gray Cardinal.
During the period that the Duc de Bassompierre passed in the Bastile -- where he
remained for twelve long years -- when his companions, in their dreams of liberty, said to
each other: "As for me, I shall go out of the prison at such a time," and another, at such
and such a time, the duke used to answer, "As for me, gentlemen, I shall leave only when
Monsieur du Tremblay leaves;" meaning that at the death of the cardinal Du Tremblay
would certainly lose his place at the Bastile and De Bassompierre regain his at court.
His prediction was nearly fulfilled, but in a very different way from that which De
Bassompierre supposed; for after the death of Richelieu everything went on, contrary to
expectation, in the same way as before; and Bassompierre had little chance of leaving his
Monsieur du Tremblay received D'Artagnan with extreme politeness and invited him to
sit down with him to supper, of which he was himself about to partake.
"I should be delighted to do so," was the reply; "but if I am not mistaken, the words `In
haste,' are written on the envelope of the letter which I brought."
"You are right," said Du Tremblay. "Halloo, major! tell them to order Number 25 to
The unhappy wretch who entered the Bastile ceased, as he crossed the threshold, to be a
man -- he became a number.
D'Artagnan shuddered at the noise of the keys; he remained on horseback, feeling no
inclination to dismount, and sat looking at the bars, at the buttressed windows and the
immense walls he had hitherto only seen from the other side of the moat, but by which he
had for twenty years been awe-struck.
A bell resounded.
"I must leave you," said Du Tremblay; "I am sent for to sign the release of a prisoner. I
shall be happy to meet you again, sir."
"May the devil annihilate me if I return thy wish!" murmured D'Artagnan, smiling as he
pronounced the imprecation; "I declare I feel quite ill after only being five minutes in the