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RICHELIEU (ringing a small bell on the table).

Huguet!

Enter Huguet.
De Mauprat struggled not, nor murmur'd ?

HUGUET.

No; proud and passive.

RICHELIEU.

Bid him enter. Hold:
Look that he hide no weapon. Humph, despair
Makes victims sometimes victors. When he has enter'd,
Glide round unseen; place thyself yonder (pointing to

the screen); watch him;
If he show violence (let me see thy carbine
So, a good weapon); if he play the lion,
Why, the dog's death.

HUGUET.

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?

DE MAUPRAT.

It is, my lord, One of my most

RICHELIEU (dryly).

Delightful recollections.

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.

And headsman?

RICHELIEU (sternly).

I did then accord you A mercy ill requited-you still live?

DE MAUPRAT. To meet death face to face at last. *

[RICHELIEU.

Your words Are bold.

DE MAUPRAT.

My deeds have not belied them.

RICHELIEU.

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!

DE MAUPRAT.

If war be sinful, Your hand the gauntlet cast.

RICHELIEU.

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!

DE MAUPRAT.

If you would deign to speak Thus to your armies ere they march to battle,

That in brackets omitted in representation.

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Perchance your eminence might have the pain
Of the throat-cutting to yourself.

RICHELIEU (aside).

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 ?

RICHELIEU.

Is not the question plain? I'll answer for thee.
Thou hast sought nor priest nor shrine; no sackcloth

chased
Thy delicate fesh. The rosary and the death's-head
Have not, with pious meditation, purged
Earth from the carnal gaze. What thou hast not done,
Brief told; what done, a volume! Wild debauch,
Turbulent riot: for the morn the dicebox,
Noon claimed the duel, and the night the wassail ;
These, your most holy, pure preparatives
For death and judgment. Do I wrong you, sir ?

DE MAUPRAT.

I was not always thus; if changed my nature,
Blame that which changed my fate. Alas, my lord,
[There is a brotherhood which calm-eyed Reason*
Can wot not of between despair and mirth.
My birthplace mid the vines of sunny Provence,
Perchance the stream that sparkles in my veins
Came from that wine of passionate life which erst
Glowed in the wild heart of the Troubadour:
And danger, which makes steadier courage wary,
But fevers me with an insane delight;
As one of old who on the mountain-crags
Caught madness from a Mænad's haunting eyes.
Were you, my lord--whose path imperial power,
And the grave cares of reverent wisdom guard
From all that tempts to folly meaner men-]

* That in brackets omitted in representation.

Were you accursed with that which you inflicted,
By bed and board dogg'd by one ghastly spectre,
The while within you youth beat high, and life
Grew lovelier from the neighbouring frown of death,
The heart no bud, nor fruit, save in those seeds
Most worthless, which spring up, bloom, bear, and wither
In the same hour. Were this your fate, perchance
You would have err'd like me!

RICHELIEU.

I might, like you,
Have been a brawler and a reveller; not,
Like you, a trickster and a thief.
DE MAUPRAT (advancing threateningly).

Lord cardinal !
Unsay those words !

(Huguet deliberately raises the carbine.)
RICHELIEU (waving his hand):

Not quite so quick, friend Huguet ;
Messire de Mauprat is a patient man,
And he can wait!

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!

C2

RICHELIEU.

This is scandalous, Shaming your birth and blood. I tell you, sir, That you must pay your debts,

DE MAUPRAT.

With all my heart,
My lord. Where shall I borrow, then, the money!

RICHELIEU (aside and laughing).
A humorous daredevil! The very man
To suit my purpose; ready, frank, and bold !

(Rising, and earnestly.)
Adrien de Mauprat, men have called me cruel ;
I am not ; I am just ! I found France rent asunder ;
The rich men despots, and the poor banditti ;
Sloth in the mart, and schism within the temple;
Brawls festering to rebellion, and weak laws
Rotting away with rust in antique sheaths.
I have recreated France; and, from the ashes
Of the old feudal and decrepit carcass,
Civilization on her luminous wings
Soars, phenix-like, to Jove! What was my art?
Genius, some say ; some, fortune; witchcraft some.
Not so; my art was Justice! Force and fraud
Misname it cruelty; you shall confute them!
My champion you! You met me as your foe.
Depart my friend; you shall not die. France needs

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,
To gift it with a bride, whose dower shall match,
Yet not exceed, her beauty.

DE MAUPRAT.

I, my lord (hesitating), I have no wish to marry.

RICHELIEU.

Surely, sir,

To die were worse.

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