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5. The Gascon and the Italian.
Meanwhile the cardinal returned to his own room; and after asking Bernouin, who stood at the door, whether anything had occurred during his absence, and being answered in the negative, he desired that he might be left alone.
When he was alone he opened the door of the corridor and then that of the ante-chamber. There D'Artagnan was asleep upon a bench.
The cardinal went up to him and touched his shoulder. D'Artagnan started, awakened himself, and as he awoke, stood up exactly like a soldier under arms.
"Here I am," said he. "Who calls me?"
"I," said Mazarin, with his most smiling expression.
"I ask pardon of your eminence," said D'Artagnan, "but I was so fatigued ---- "
"Don't ask my pardon, monsieur," said Mazarin, "for you fatigued yourself in my service."
D'Artagnan admired Mazarin's gracious manner. "Ah," said he, between his teeth, "is there truth in the proverb that fortune comes while one sleeps?"
"Follow me, monsieur," said Mazarin.
"Come, come," murmured D'Artagnan, "Rochefort has kept his promise, but where in the devil is he?" And he searched the cabinet even to the smallest recesses, but there was no sign of Rochefort.
"Monsieur d'Artagnan," said the cardinal, sitting down on a fauteuil, "you have always seemed to me to be a brave and honorable man."
"Possibly," thought D'Artagnan, "but he has taken a long time to let me know his thoughts;" nevertheless, he bowed to the very ground in gratitude for Mazarin's compliment.
"Well," continued Mazarin, "the time has come to put to use your talents and your valor."
There was a sudden gleam of joy in the officer's eyes, which vanished immediately, for he knew nothing of Mazarin's purpose.
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