The Three Musketeers
A KINGDOM AT STAKE 9
the curtain rises PARRY is discovered dozing before the
fire. Footsteps are heard outside, followed by a loud
knock upon the outer door. This is repeated after
a moment’s pause.
PARRY (starting up). Who is there? What is it
you want ?
D’ARTAGNAN (outside). I want his Majesty, King
Charles II. of England.
PARRY. What do you want with him ?
D’ARTAGNAN (impatiently). Mordieu! you talk too
much. I like not talking through closed doors.
PARRY (taking up a candlestick and crossing to door).
Do you bring news ?
D’ARTAGNAN. Ay, and news you little expect.
Open, I say, open.
PARRY. Monsieur, I cannot open till I know, until
I know your name.
D’ARTAGNAN. Well, then, I am the Chevalier
PARRY (joyfully). Monsieur D’Artagnan! (He
unbars and opens the door and holds up the candle to
D’ARTAGNAN’S face.) Why did you not tell me before,
monsieur ? Enter, I pray you.
D’ARTAGNAN. Why, it is the good Parry.
PARRY. Indeed it is, and very much at your service,
D’ARTAGNAN. Good. Then hasten to inform the
King that I would beg speech with him.
PARRY. But, monsieur, the King is asleep.
D’ARTAGNAN. Mordieu ! then wake Mm up. Oh, I’ll
promise he’ll not scold you when he hears my news.
io A KINGDOM AT STAKE
PARRY. On whose business do you come, monsieur ?
D’ARTAGNAN. On my own and your country’s.
And now go quick. The King, I want the King.
(The door at the top of the stairway opens, and CHARLES
appears, holding a lighted candle in his hand.)
CHARLES. Who is it that wants the King ?
D’ARTAGNAN (dropping upon one knee). Sire, it is I.
(CHARLES descends the stair and examines D’ARTAGNAN’S
face by the light of his candle.)
CHARLES. Your face seems familiar. We have met
D’ARTAGNAN. Yes, sire. Does your Majesty not
recall that night at Blois in the antechamber of my
master, King Louis ?
CHARLES. Why, to be sure. I recall you now. You
did me good service that night, Monsieur D’Artagnan.
But, odd’s fish, man, rise, I beg you. Here we are
not used to so much ceremony. (Bitterly.) Remember
I am but a make-believe king a beggar, and well-nigh
CHARLES (kindly). Nay, my good Parry, I meant it
not. I can never be quite alone while you remain
faithful. (To D’ARTAGNAN.) Well, monsieur, what
would you of me ?
D’ARTAGNAN. Sire, I bring you tidings from England.
CHARLES (eagerly). From England.
D’ARTAGNAN. Ay, sire. Surely your Majesty must
have heard that the country is in a ferment, and that
the people clamour for your return.
CHARLES (sadly). But what can I do without an
army without money ?
A KINGDOM AT STAKE n
D’ARTAGNAN (in a tone of perfect confidence}. Sire, I
bring you both.
CHARLES. What are you saying, man ?
D’ARTAGNAN. May I crave for private speech with
your Majesty ?
CHARLES (sternly.} Monsieur, have I your word this
is not some ill-timed jest ?
D’ARTAGNAN (bowing}. Your Majesty shall judge of
CHARLES. Very well. Leave us, Parry.
Exit PARRY into inner chamber.
CHARLES (seating himself at table}. Be seated.
D’ARTAGNAN (sitting on other side of table}. Thank
CHARLES. Now, monsieur.
D’ARTAGNAN. Sire, you must know that some twelve
years ago I was able to render some slight service to
your Majesty’s unhappy father.
CHARLES. To my father. Go on.
D’ARTAGNAN. On the day he died I had the
honour of speaking to him; indeed, I believe, sire, I
was the last to hold private converse with him before
the blow fell. His Majesty then laid a solemn trust
upon me. He told me that the night before he quitted
the city of Newcastle, when his cause was all but lost,
he buried a million pounds in gold the last he had
in the vaults of the castle.
CHARLES. A million pounds !
D’ARTAGNAN. Sire, his Majesty bade me remember
that I, alone of all men, knew of the existence of that
money, and that I was not to employ it till I deemed
that the time had come when it would be of most
service to his eldest son. Sire, that time has now come.
12 A KINGDOM AT STAKE
CHARLES (with deep emotion vibrating in his voice).
Monsieur, you have given me fresh life. (He rises and
walks up and down the room).
D’ARTAGNAN (also rising). The King’s last word
” Remember ” was intended for me. You see, sire, I
CHARLES. Monsieur, you come to me as a messenger
of hope from my dead father. If ever I do come to my
own again, rest assured I shall not forget you. But
now how am I to get this money ? General Monk
himself is encamped at Newcastle.
D’ARTAGNAN. I have thought of that, sire. It is
true, is it not, that the one man who stands between
your Majesty and the English throne is this General
CHARLES. Yes. He holds the army in the hollow of
his hand, and he who rules the army rules England.
But to what purpose are these questions, monsieur ?
D’ARTAGNAN. Pardon my want of etiquette, sire,
but I have heard it said that your Majesty believes
that if you could see this man, meet him face to face
and confer with him, you would triumph, either by
force or persuasion, over the only serious obstacle that
lies between you and Whitehall.
CHARLES. Yes, monsieur, it is true. My glory or
my obscurity depend upon that man.
D’ARTAGNAN. That is well, sire.
CHARLES. How well ?
D’ARTAGNAN. Why, sire, if this General Monk is as
troublesome as he seems to be, surely it is expedient
that you make an ally of him or get rid of him.
CHARLES (pacing up and down). If I could but see
him ! If I could but see him !
D’ARTAGNAN. Sire, you shall.
A KINGDOM AT STAKE 13
CHARLES. What do you mean ?
D’ARTAGNAN (imperturbably). I mean, sire, that your
Majesty and the General shall meet face to face this
very night that is, if your Majesty so wills it.
CHARLES (seizing D’ARTAGNAN by the shoulder and
speaking with intense earnestness). Do you mean that
he is here 1
D’ARTAGNAN. I do, sire.
(He goes to the window at back and pushes it open,
displaying the shore and the moonlit sea. The
twinkling lights of a ship at anchor a little way
out from shore are plainly visible. The sound of
waves, breaking gently upon the beach, drifts in
through the open casement.)
D’ARTAGNAN. He is down yonder on the coast,
guarded by four of your Majesty’s subjects simple
fishermen, but loyal to the death, although they do not
know their King is so near. I await but your Majesty’s
word to give the signal that will bring the General here.
CHARLES. But how, in the name of Heaven, man, have
you, a simple French soldier, contrived to inveigle the
most powerful man in England into such an undertaking ?
D’ARTAGNAN (with an air of sublime self -confidence).
‘Twas easy enough. I went yonder to Newcastle to
spy out how best to obtain your Majesty’s million,
only to find the General and the English army
encamped upon the very spot where it lies buried.
I then bethought me that it might serve your Majesty’s
purpose to have the man as well’ as the million, so,
sire, I bring him to you.
CHARLES. You bring him to me !
D’ARTAGNAN (with a grim little laugh}. Yes, sire.
The worthy General does not come as a willing visitor
I4 A KINGDOM AT STAKE
to your Majesty. I bring him in a large chest, pierced
with holes to let the air in. He’s in it now.
CHARLES. Good God !
D’ARTAGNAN. Oh, don’t be uneasy, sire, he is
perfectly safe. I have seen to that. And now will
your Majesty be pleased to give audience to the
General or to have him thrown into the sea ?
CHARLES. Monsieur, are you insulting me with some
unworthy pleasantry ?
D’ARTAGNAN. You shall see, sire.
(He goes to the window and gives a long, low whistle, and
then stands in a listening attitude. Almost immedi-
ately an answering whistle is heard from the direction
of the shore. He then turns and faces the King.)
D’ARTAGNAN. You hear that, sire ?
D’ARTAGNAN. In two minutes he will be here.
CHARLES (regarding D’ARTAGNAN wonderingly). Odd’s
fish, what a man !
D’ARTAGNAN. Is it your wish, sire, that I leave you ?
CHARLES. No, no, remain. ‘Fore God, man, I can
hardly realise yet the full import of what you have done.
(He walks up and down the room, his hands tightly
clasped behind his back. The tramp of feet is
CHARLES. Open the door, monsieur. (He steps back
into the shadow of the staircase.)
D’ARTAGNAN (throwing open the door). This way,
Enter four men with drawn swords. Between them, his
hands bound, walks GENERAL MONK. They halt in
the centre of the stage.
A KINGDOM AT STAKE 15
D’ARTAGNAN. Now, messieurs, you may leave your
prisoner. Return to the shore. Await me, but remain
Exeunt the four men.
(GENERAL MONK is left standing perfectly motionless
C. As the door closes CHARLES steps forward
into the light. MONK looks at him steadfastly from
under his lowering brows, but shows no sign of
D’ARTAGNAN. Monsieur Monk, you are in the
presence of your sovereign lord, King Charles II. of
MONK (in a cold, disdainful voice). I know of no
king of Great Britain. I know of no one here even
worthy of bearing the name of gentleman. I remember
that an unworthy snare was laid for me. I fell into
that snare unsuspectingly so much the worse for me.
(He turns and addresses CHARLES.) Listen to what I
have to say to you. So far as my body is concerned
your plot has succeeded do what you please with it.
But remember you have not my mind. You may
kill my body, but you cannot force my mind to do
your will. Now make an end.
CHARLES. Monsieur D’Artagnan, the General’s
hands are tied. Have the goodness to set them free.
D’ARTAGNAN. But, sire
CHARLES. Do as I say, monsieur.
(D’ARTAGNAN shrugs his shoulders, and, stepping up to
MONK, frees his hands.)
CHARLES. Now, Monsieur D’Artagnan, I would have
a word with the General.
I6 A KINGDOM AT STAKE
(D’ARTAGNAN salutes and retires into the alcove, and stands
looking out of window}.
CHARLES (looking earnestly at MONK). General, you
have made me the subject of a serious accusation.
(MONK bows coldly.} I am not blaming you, for on
certain points you are perfectly right. On others, how-
ever, you are wrong. For this reason, therefore, I ask
you to withhold your condemnation of me until you
have heard what I have to say. I do not even require
you to answer, but only to listen.
MONK (in a cold, hard voice}. I am in your power;
CHARLES. Just now you cast at me a painful
reproach. You implied that I sent Monsieur D’Artagnan
here into England to lay a snare for you.
MONK. I did ; and I see no call why I should retract
CHARLES. One moment, General. It is true that to
Monsieur D’Artagnan (D’ARTAGNAN turns and faces the
King} I owe the deepest gratitude for his heroic devo-
tion. (D’ARTAGNAN bows.} But, General, and remember
I do not say this to excuse myself, Monsieur D’Artagnan
went into England solely of his own accord. He went
there without orders, without interest, and without
hope of gain, but, like the true-hearted gentleman he
is, with the one desire to render a service to an un-
happy king. By doing so he has added another brave
action to a life that is already, I am sure, well filled.
You may not believe me, General, for I can well under-
stand such proofs of devotion are so rare that their
reality may well be doubted.
MONK (to D’ARTAGNAN). You swear that this is true,
A KINGDOM AT STAKE 17
D’ARTAGNAN. Upon my honour as a soldier of
France. What I did was upon my own responsibility
and no other.
MONK (to CHARLES after a moment’s pause). Very
well, sir, it seems that I must retract my accusation.
But now that I am here, what do you intend doing
with me ?
CHARLES (to D’ARTAGNAN). Where is the ship you
came in, monsieur ?
D’ARTAGNAN (pointing through the open window to the
light upon the water). There it is, sire, awaiting my
CHARLES. Then have the goodness to call in your
(D’ARTAGNAN, with a look of some surprise, crosses to the
door and beckons. The four men enter silently.)
CHARLES. Gentlemen, Monsieur D’Artagnan tells me
that you are all of you devoted to the cause of your
exiled King. Is that so ?
ALL. Ay, ay, sir ; yes, yes.
CHARLES. Then, gentlemen, I am he.
ALL (in amazement to one another). The King ! The
( They crowd round CHARLES, and, kneeling before him, kiss
his hands amid cries of “God save your Majesty.”
” God send you soon to your own again.”)
CHARLES. I thank you, friends. But I am now
about to ask another proof of your devotion. (Murmurs
of assent from all.) Very well. You will place your-
selves immediately under the command of General
Monk, and will convey him back to Newcastle with
all possible speed. (To MONK.) General, Monsieur
1 8 A KINGDOM AT STAKE
D’Artagnan will escort you. I place him under the
safeguard of your honour.
MONK. Why, what means this ?
CHARTERS (pointing to open door}. It means, General,
that you are free.
MONK (incredulously}. Free ! To do as I will ?
CHARLES. Yes, to do as you will. To fight against
me or for me as God and your conscience may direct
you. I will not seek to influence you, for if it pleases
God to restore me to the throne of my martyred father,
neither you nor any man shall deter me. But, General,
if we never meet again, at least remember that Charles
Stuart, unhappy exile though he be, scorns to make
bargains with or to take an unfair advantage of an
honourable foe, be he ever so powerful. (He pauses.}
General, I see you have no sword take mine. (He
draws his sword, and holds out the hilt to MONK, who
stands a few seconds in deep thought. He then walks
slowly towards the King and takes the sword in his hand.)
MONK (very slowly and deliberately). Sire, I accept
your sword. In six weeks I shall welcome your Majesty
(He turns and faces the others, who during the foregoing
scene have been standing in rigid tension, hardly
daring to breathe.)
MONK (raising his sword). Gentlemen, long live his
Majesty King Charles II.
ALL. The King, the King. God save the King.