Page:The Vicomte de Bragelonne 2.djvu/331

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THE VICOMTE DE BRAGELONNE

THE VICOMTE DE BRAGELOHHE. 319 "Upon this year, perhaps, I understand that; "but upon next year?" "Next year is eaten as bare as the current year/' "But, the year after, then?" "Like next year." "What do you tell me, Monsieur Colbert?"

  • 'I say there are four years engaged beforehand.* 1

"They must have a loan, then." They must have three, sire." "I will create offices to make them resign, and the money of the posts shall be paid into the treasury." "Impossible, sire, for there have already been creations upon creations of offices, the provisions of which are given in blank, so that the purchasers enjoy them without filling them. That is why your majesty cannot make them re- sign. Further, upon each agreement Monsieur Fouquet has made an abatement of a third, so that the people have been plundered, without your majesty profiting by it. Let your majesty set down clearly your thought, and tell me what you wish me to explain." "You are right; clearness is what you wish, is it not?" "Yes, sire, clearness. God is God, above all things, be- cause He made light." "Well, for example," resumed Louis XIV., "if to-day, the cardinal being dead, and I being king, I wanted money?" "Your majesty would not have any." "Oh! that is strange, monsieur! How, my surintendant would not find me any money?" Colbert shook his large head. "How is that?" said the king; "are the revenues of the state so much in debt that there is no longer any revenues?" '"Yes, sire, to that extent." The king started. "Explain me that, Monsieur Colbert," added he, with a frown. "If it be so, I will get together the ordonnunces to obtain from the holders a discharge, liquidation at a cheap rate," "Impossible; for the ordonnances have been convert: 3 into bills, which bills, for the convenience of return an^- facility of transaction, are divided into so many parts tht. the originals can no longer be recognized." Louis, very much agitated, walked about still frowning. "But, if this were as you say, Monsieur Colbert," said he. stopping all at once, "I should be ruined before I begin to reign." "You are, in fact, sire," said the impassible caster-up of figures.