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80. The Gratitude of Anne of Austria. (continued)
The conference being finished, the queen summoned him to her cabinet.
Athos was introduced and announced by name. It was a name that too often resounded in her majesty's ears and too often vibrated in her heart for Anne of Austria not to recognize it; yet she remained impassive, looking at him with that fixed stare which is tolerated only in women who are queens, either by the power of beauty or by the right of birth.
"It is then a service which you propose to render us, count?" asked Anne of Austria, after a moment's silence.
"Yes, madame, another service," said Athos, shocked that the queen did not seem to recognize him.
Athos had a noble heart, and made, therefore, but a poor courtier.
Anne frowned. Mazarin, who was sitting at a table folding up papers, as if he had only been a secretary of state, looked up.
"Speak," said the queen.
Mazarin turned again to his papers.
"Madame," resumed Athos, "two of my friends, named D'Artagnan and Monsieur du Vallon, sent to England by the cardinal, suddenly disappeared when they set foot on the shores of France; no one knows what has become of them."
"Well?" said the queen.
"I address myself, therefore, first to the benevolence of your majesty, that I may know what has become of my friends, reserving to myself, if necessary, the right of appealing hereafter to your justice."
"Sir," replied Anne, with a degree of haughtiness which to certain persons became impertinence, "this is the reason that you trouble me in the midst of so many absorbing concerns! an affair for the police! Well, sir, you ought to know that we no longer have a police, since we are no longer at Paris."
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