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RICHELIEU (ringing a small bell on the table).
No; proud and passive.
Bid him enter. Hold:
the screen); watch him;
I never miss my mark. [Exit Huguet ; Richelieu seats himself at the table,
and slowly arranges the papers before him. Enter De Mauprat, preceded by Huguet, who then retires behind the screen.
RICHELIEU. Approach, sir. Can you call to mind the hour, Now three years since, when in this room, methinks, Your presence honour'd me?
It is, my lord, One of my most
DE MAUPRAT (aside). St. Denis! doth he make a jest of axe
* There are many anecdotes of the irony, often so terrible, in which Richelieu indulged. But he had a love for humour in its more hear. ty and genial shape. He would for Boisrobert “to make him laugh,” and grave ministers and magnates waited in the anteroom, while the great cardinal listened and responded to the sallies of the lively wit.
I did then accord you A mercy ill requited-you still live?
DE MAUPRAT. To meet death face to face at last. *
Your words Are bold.
My deeds have not belied them.
Deeds! Oh! miserable delusion of man's pride! Deeds! cities sack'd, fields ravaged, hearths profaned, Men butcher'd. In your hour of doom behold The deeds you boast of! From rank showers of blood, And the red light of blazing roofs, you build The rainbow glory, and to shuddering conscience Cry, Lo, the bridge to Heaven!
If war be sinful, Your hand the gauntlet cast.
It was so, sír. Note the distinction : I weigh'd well the cause Which made the standard holy; raised the war But to secure the peace. France bled, I groan'd; But look'd beyond, and, in the vista, saw France saved, and I exulted. You-but you Were but the tool of slaughter, knowing naught, Foreseeing naught, naught hoping, naught lamenting, And for naught fit, save cutting throats for hire. Deeds, marry, deeds!
If you would deign to speak Thus to your armies ere they march to battle,
That in brackets omitted in representation.
Perchance your eminence might have the pain
He has wit, This Mauprat. (Aloud) Let it pass; there is against
you What you can less excuse. Messire de Mauprat,] Doom'd to sure death, how hast thou since consumed The time allotted thee for serious thought And solemn penitence ?
DE MAUPRAT (embarrassed).
The time, my lord ?
Is not the question plain? I'll answer for thee.
I was not always thus; if changed my nature,
* That in brackets omitted in representation.
Were you accursed with that which you inflicted,
I might, like you,
Lord cardinal !
(Huguet deliberately raises the carbine.)
Not quite so quick, friend Huguet ;
You have outrun your fortune ; I blame you not, that you would be a beggar; Each to his taste! But I do charge you, sir, That, being beggar'd, you would coin false moneys Out of that crucible called DEBT. To live On means not yours; be brave in silks and laces, Gallant in steeds, splendid in banquets ; all Not yours, ungiven, uninherited, unpaid for; This is to be a trickster, and to filch Men's art and labour, which to them is wealth, Life, daily bread ; quitting all scores with, “Friend, You're troublesome!" Why this, forgive me, Is what, when done with a less dainty grace, Plain folks call 66 Theft!" You owe eight thousand
pistoles, Minus one crown, two liards !
DE MAUPRAT (aside).
The old conjuror! 'Sdeath, he'll inform me next how many cups I drank at dinner!
This is scandalous, Shaming your birth and blood. I tell you, sir, That you must pay your debts,
With all my heart,
RICHELIEU (aside and laughing).
(Rising, and earnestly.)
you. You shall wipe off all stains; be rich, be honour'd, Be great. (De Mauprat falls on his knee ; Richelieu raises him.
I ask, sir, in return, this hand,
I, my lord (hesitating), I have no wish to marry.
To die were worse.