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Armand-Jean du Plessis, priest, bishop, Cardinal-Duke of Richelieu and of Fronsac, and chief minister to His Most Christian Majesty, King Louis of France, thirteenth of that name, stood at the window and gazed at the gardeners at their work in the early afternoon. He watched as they plied their craft with spades and trowels and snips. He admired their skill and focus, and from time to time he was even a bit jealous. There were days where the thought of having honest dirt on his hands and the smell of honest manure in his nostrils appealed to him more than the spiritual reek of the court. But then, there was no one who could do his work as well as him, so if he didn't do it, things would become even worse. Although he was beginning to have hopes of young Mazarini.
Richelieu looked back over his shoulder to where Servien stood inside the door. He raised his eyebrows.
"There . . . is a visitor, Eminence."
Richelieu considered his intendant. If he didn't know better, he'd have thought that Servien was . . . uncertain. And that was a condition he had seldom seen in his intendant in all their years together.
"Has this visitor a name, Servien?"
"He is one Abbé Jehan Mercier, Eminence."
A low-ranking cleric. Perhaps he was wanting to speak to the cardinal rather than the chief minister. That might be refreshing.
"Is he one of our informers?"
Richelieu frowned. "Who did he bribe to get this far?"
"He, ah, carries an introduction from your niece."