"Sire," said Villefort, "I will render a faithful report to your majesty, but I must entreat your forgiveness if my anxiety leads to some obscurity in my language." A glance at the king after this discreet and subtle exordium, assured Villefort of the benignity of his august auditor, and he went on: --
"Sire, I believe it to be most urgent, but I hope, by the speed I have used, that it is not irreparable."
"Sire, I saw his majesty your father at a terrible moment."
"Sire, pardon me," replied the officer, "but I could not imagine a king under so simple an exterior; and yet I had the honor to tell your majesty just now that I had seen Charles I.
"Your majesty does me a great injustice, sire; and you are wrong," replied Fouquet, dryly; "I am not child enough, nor is M.
"Good, sire; but royal blood must not be shed upon a scaffold."
"Sire," said Lord Leven, with hesitation, "sire, your majesty has been deceived by false reports."
"Sire," murmured Lord Leven, crushed by shame, "sire, we are ready to give you every proof of our fidelity."
sire!" suddenly exclaimed Jacques Coictier, "what has become of the acute attack of illness for which your majesty had me summoned?"
"Pardieu, sire," he suddenly said, "I must tell you that there is a receivership of the royal prerogatives vacant, and that I have a nephew."
"That is true, sire; there can be no more doubt on that head.
"But this encounter, sire, is quite out of the ordinary conditions of a duel.