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The Three Musketeers

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28. 
THE RETURN


D’Artagnan was astounded by the terrible confidence of Athos; yet many things appeared very obscure to him in this half revelation. In the first place it had been made by a man quite drunk to one who was half drunk; and yet, in spite of the incertainty which the vapor of three or four bottles of Burgundy carries with it to the brain, d’Artagnan, when awaking on the following morning, had all the words of Athos as present to his memory as if they then fell from his mouth—they had been so impressed upon his mind. All this doubt only gave rise to a more lively desire of arriving at a certainty, and he went into his friend’s chamber with a fixed determination of renewing the conversation of the preceding evening; but he found Athos quite himself again—that is to say, the most shrewd and impenetrable of men. Besides which, the Musketeer, after having exchanged a hearty shake of the hand with him, broached the matter first.

“I was pretty drunk yesterday, d’Artagnan,” said he, “I can tell that by my tongue, which was swollen and hot this morning, and by my pulse, which was very tremulous. I wager that I uttered a thousand extravagances.”

While saying this he looked at his friend with an earnestness that embarrassed him.

“No,” replied d’Artagnan, “if I recollect well what you said, it was nothing out of the common way.”

“Ah, you surprise me. I thought I had told you a most lamentable story.” And he looked at the young man as if he would read the bottom of his heart.

“My faith,” said d’Artagnan, “it appears that I was more drunk than you, since I remember nothing of the kind.”

Athos did not trust this reply, and he resumed; “you cannot have failed to remark, my dear friend, that everyone has his particular kind of drunkenness, sad or gay. My drunkenness is always sad, and when I am thoroughly drunk my mania is to relate all the lugubrious stories which my foolish nurse inculcated into my brain. That is my failing—a capital failing, I admit; but with that exception, I am a good drinker.”

Athos spoke this in so natural a manner that d’Artagnan was shaken in his conviction.

“It is that, then,” replied the young man, anxious to find out the truth, “it is that, then, I remember as we remember a dream. We were speaking of hanging.”

“Ah, you see how it is,” said Athos, becoming still paler, but yet attempting to laugh; “I was sure it was so—the hanging of people is my nightmare.”

“Yes, yes,” replied d’Artagnan. “I remember now; yes, it was about—stop a minute—yes, it was about a woman.”

“That’s it,” replied Athos, becoming almost livid; “that is my grand story of the fair lady, and when I relate that, I must be very drunk.”

“Yes, that was it,” said d’Artagnan, “the story of a tall, fair lady, with blue eyes.”

“Yes, who was hanged.”

“By her husband, who was a nobleman of your acquaintance,” continued d’Artagnan, looking intently at Athos.

“Well, you see how a man may compromise himself when he does not know what he says,” replied Athos, shrugging his shoulders as if he thought himself an object of pity. “I certainly never will get drunk again, d’Artagnan; it is too bad a habit.”

D’Artagnan remained silent; and then changing the conversation all at once, Athos said:

“By the by, I thank you for the horse you have brought me.”

“Is it to your mind?” asked d’Artagnan.

“Yes; but it is not a horse for hard work.”

“You are mistaken; I rode him nearly ten leagues in less than an hour and a half, and he appeared no more distressed than if he had only made the tour of the Place St. Sulpice.”

“Ah, you begin to awaken my regret.”

“Regret?”

“Yes; I have parted with him.”

“How?”

“Why, here is the simple fact. This morning I awoke at six o’clock. You were still fast asleep, and I did not know what to do with myself; I was still stupid from our yesterday’s debauch. As I came into the public room, I saw one of our Englishman bargaining with a dealer for a horse, his own having died yesterday from bleeding. I drew near, and found he was bidding a hundred pistoles for a chestnut nag. ‘PARDIEU,’ said I, ‘my good gentleman, I have a horse to sell, too.’ ‘Ay, and a very fine one! I saw him yesterday; your friend’s lackey was leading him.’ ‘Do you think he is worth a hundred pistoles?’ ‘Yes! Will you sell him to me for that sum?’ ‘No; but I will play for him.’ ‘What?’ ‘At dice.’ No sooner said than done, and I lost the horse. Ah, ah! But please to observe I won back the equipage,” cried Athos.

D’Artagnan looked much disconcerted.

“This vexes you?” said Athos.

“Well, I must confess it does,” replied d’Artagnan. “That horse was to have identified us in the day of battle. It was a pledge, a remembrance. Athos, you have done wrong.”

“But, my dear friend, put yourself in my place,” replied the Musketeer. “I was hipped to death; and still further, upon my honor, I don’t like English horses. If it is only to be recognized, why the saddle will suffice for that; it is quite remarkable enough. As to the horse, we can easily find some excuse for its disappearance. Why the devil! A horse is mortal; suppose mine had had the glanders or the farcy?”

D’Artagnan did not smile.

“It vexes me greatly,” continued Athos, “that you attach so much importance to these animals, for I am not yet at the end of my story.”

“What else have you done.”

“After having lost my own horse, nine against ten—see how near—I formed an idea of staking yours.”

“Yes; but you stopped at the idea, I hope?”

“No; for I put it in execution that very minute.”

“And the consequence?” said d’Artagnan, in great anxiety.

“I threw, and I lost.”

“What, my horse?”

“Your horse, seven against eight; a point short—you know the proverb.”

“Athos, you are not in your right senses, I swear.”

“My dear lad, that was yesterday, when I was telling you silly stories, it was proper to tell me that, and not this morning. I lost him then, with all his appointments and furniture.”

“Really, this is frightful.”

“Stop a minute; you don’t know all yet. I should make an excellent gambler if I were not too hot-headed; but I was hot-headed, just as if I had been drinking. Well, I was not hot-headed then—”

“Well, but what else could you play for? You had nothing left?”

“Oh, yes, my friend; there was still that diamond left which sparkles on your finger, and which I had observed yesterday.”

“This diamond!” said d’Artagnan, placing his hand eagerly on his ring.

“And as I am a connoisseur in such things, having had a few of my own once, I estimated it at a thousand pistoles.”

“I hope,” said d’Artagnan, half dead with fright, “you made no mention of my diamond?”

“On the contrary, my dear friend, this diamond became our only resource; with it I might regain our horses and their harnesses, and even money to pay our expenses on the road.”

“Athos, you make me tremble!” cried d’Artagnan.

“I mentioned your diamond then to my adversary, who had likewise remarked it. What the devil, my dear, do you think you can wear a star from heaven on your finger, and nobody observe it? Impossible!”

“Go on, go on, my dear fellow!” said d’Artagnan; “for upon my honor, you will kill me with your indifference.”

“We divided, then, this diamond into ten parts of a hundred pistoles each.”

“You are laughing at me, and want to try me!” said d’Artagnan, whom anger began to take by the hair, as Minerva takes Achilles, in the ILLIAD.

“No, I do not jest, MORDIEU! I should like to have seen you in my place! I had been fifteen days without seeing a human face, and had been left to brutalize myself in the company of bottles.”

“That was no reason for staking my diamond!” replied d’Artagnan, closing his hand with a nervous spasm.

“Hear the end. Ten parts of a hundred pistoles each, in ten throws, without revenge; in thirteen throws I had lost all—in thirteen throws. The number thirteen was always fatal to me; it was on the thirteenth of July that—”

“VENTREBLEU!” cried d’Artagnan, rising from the table, the story of the present day making him forget that of the preceding one.

“Patience!” said Athos; “I had a plan. The Englishman was an original; I had seen him conversing that morning with Grimaud, and Grimaud had told me that he had made him proposals to enter into his service. I staked Grimaud, the silent Grimaud, divided into ten portions.”

“Well, what next?” said d’Artagnan, laughing in spite of himself.

“Grimaud himself, understand; and with the ten parts of Grimaud, which are not worth a ducatoon, I regained the diamond. Tell me, now, if persistence is not a virtue?”

“My faith! But this is droll,” cried d’Artagnan, consoled, and holding his sides with laughter.

“You may guess, finding the luck turned, that I again staked the diamond.”

“The devil!” said d’Artagnan, becoming angry again.

“I won back your harness, then your horse, then my harness, then my horse, and then I lost again. In brief, I regained your harness and then mine. That’s where we are. That was a superb throw, so I left off there.”

D’Artagnan breathed as if the whole hostelry had been removed from his breast.

“Then the diamond is safe?” said he, timidly.

“Intact, my dear friend; besides the harness of your Bucephalus and mine.”

“But what is the use of harnesses without horses?”

“I have an idea about them.”

“Athos, you make me shudder.”

“Listen to me. You have not played for a long time, d’Artagnan.”

“And I have no inclination to play.”

“Swear to nothing. You have not played for a long time, I said; you ought, then, to have a good hand.”

“Well, what then?”

“Well; the Englishman and his companion are still here. I remarked that he regretted the horse furniture very much. You appear to think much of your horse. In your place I would stake the furniture against the horse.”

“But he will not wish for only one harness.”

“Stake both, PARDIEU! I am not selfish, as you are.”

“You would do so?” said d’Artagnan, undecided, so strongly did the confidence of Athos begin to prevail, in spite of himself.

“On my honor, in one single throw.”

“But having lost the horses, I am particularly anxious to preserve the harnesses.”

“Stake your diamond, then.”

“This? That’s another matter. Never, never!”

“The devil!” said Athos. “I would propose to you to stake Planchet, but as that has already been done, the Englishman would not, perhaps, be willing.”

“Decidedly, my dear Athos,” said d’Artagnan, “I should like better not to risk anything.”

“That’s a pity,” said Athos, coolly. “The Englishman is overflowing with pistoles. Good Lord, try one throw! One throw is soon made!”

“And if I lose?”

“You will win.”

“But if I lose?”

“Well, you will surrender the harnesses.”

“Have with you for one throw!” said d’Artagnan.

Athos went in quest of the Englishman, whom he found in the stable, examining the harnesses with a greedy eye. The opportunity was good. He proposed the conditions—the two harnesses, either against one horse or a hundred pistoles. The Englishman calculated fast; the two harnesses were worth three hundred pistoles. He consented.

D’Artagnan threw the dice with a trembling hand, and turned up the number three; his paleness terrified Athos, who, however, consented himself with saying, “That’s a sad throw, comrade; you will have the horses fully equipped, monsieur.”

The Englishman, quite triumphant, did not even give himself the trouble to shake the dice. He threw them on the table without looking at them, so sure was he of victory; d’Artagnan turned aside to conceal his ill humor.

“Hold, hold, hold!” said Athos, wit his quiet tone; “that throw of the dice is extraordinary. I have not seen such a one four times in my life. Two aces!”

The Englishman looked, and was seized with astonishment. D’Artagnan looked, and was seized with pleasure.

“Yes,” continued Athos, “four times only; once at the house of Monsieur Crequy; another time at my own house in the country, in my château at—when I had a château; a third time at Monsieur de Tréville’s where it surprised us all; and the fourth time at a cabaret, where it fell to my lot, and where I lost a hundred louis and a supper on it.”

“Then Monsieur takes his horse back again,” said the Englishman.

“Certainly,” said d’Artagnan.

“Then there is no revenge?”

“Our conditions said, ‘No revenge,’ you will please to recollect.”

“That is true; the horse shall be restored to your lackey, monsieur.”

“A moment,” said Athos; “with your permission, monsieur, I wish to speak a word with my friend.”

“Say on.”

Athos drew d’Artagnan aside.

“Well, Tempter, what more do you want with me?” said d’Artagnan. “You want me to throw again, do you not?”

“No, I would wish you to reflect.”

“On what?”

“You mean to take your horse?”

“Without doubt.”

“You are wrong, then. I would take the hundred pistoles. You know you have staked the harnesses against the horse or a hundred pistoles, at your choice.”

“Yes.”

“Well, then, I repeat, you are wrong. What is the use of one horse for us two? I could not ride behind. We should look like the two sons of Anmon, who had lost their brother. You cannot think of humiliating me by prancing along by my side on that magnificent charger. For my part, I should not hesitate a moment; I should take the hundred pistoles. We want money for our return to Paris.”

“I am much attached to that horse, Athos.”

“And there again you are wrong. A horse slips and injures a joint; a horse stumbles and breaks his knees to the bone; a horse eats out of a manger in which a glandered horse has eaten. There is a horse, while on the contrary, the hundred pistoles feed their master.”

“But how shall we get back?”

“Upon our lackey’s horses, PARDIEU. Anybody may see by our bearing that we are people of condition.”

“Pretty figures we shall cut on ponies while Aramis and Porthos caracole on their steeds.”

“Aramis! Porthos!” cried Athos, and laughed aloud.

“What is it?” asked d’Artagnan, who did not at all comprehend the hilarity of his friend.

“Nothing, nothing! Go on!”

“Your advice, then?”

“To take the hundred pistoles, d’Artagnan. With the hundred pistoles we can live well to the end of the month. We have undergone a great deal of fatigue, remember, and a little rest will do no harm.”

“I rest? Oh, no, Athos. Once in Paris, I shall prosecute my search for that unfortunate woman!”

“Well, you may be assured that your horse will not be half so serviceable to you for that purpose as good golden louis. Take the hundred pistoles, my friend; take the hundred pistoles!”

D’Artagnan only required one reason to be satisfied. This last reason appeared convincing. Besides, he feared that by resisting longer he should appear selfish in the eyes of Athos. He acquiesced, therefore, and chose the hundred pistoles, which the Englishman paid down on the spot.

They then determined to depart. Peace with the landlord, in addition to Athos’s old horse, cost six pistoles. D’Artagnan and Athos took the nags of Planchet and Grimaud, and the two lackeys started on foot, carrying the saddles on their heads.

However ill our two friends were mounted, they were soon far in advance of their servants, and arrived at Creveccoeur. From a distance they perceived Aramis, seated in a melancholy manner at his window, looking out, like Sister Anne, at the dust in the horizon.

“HOLA, Aramis! What the devil are you doing there?” cried the two friends.

“Ah, is that you, d’Artagnan, and you, Athos?” said the young man. “I was reflecting upon the rapidity with which the blessings of this world leave us. My English horse, which has just disappeared amid a cloud of dust, has furnished me with a living image of the fragility of the things of the earth. Life itself may be resolved into three words: ERAT, EST, FUIT.”

“Which means—” said d’Artagnan, who began to suspect the truth.

“Which means that I have just been duped-sixty louis for a horse which by the manner of his gait can do at least five leagues an hour.”

D’Artagnan and Athos laughed aloud.

“My dear d’Artagnan,” said Aramis, “don’t be too angry with me, I beg. Necessity has no law; besides, I am the person punished, as that rascally horsedealer has robbed me of fifty louis, at least. Ah, you fellows are good managers! You ride on our lackey’s horses, and have your own gallant steeds led along carefully by hand, at short stages.”

At the same instant a market cart, which some minutes before had appeared upon the Amiens road, pulled up at the inn, and Planchet and Grimaud came out of it with the saddles on their heads. The cart was returning empty to Paris, and the two lackeys had agreed, for their transport, to slake the wagoner’s thirst along the route.

“What is this?” said Aramis, on seeing them arrive. “Nothing but saddles?”

“Now do you understand?” said Athos.

“My friends, that’s exactly like me! I retained my harness by instinct. HOLA, Bazin! Bring my new saddle and carry it along with those of these gentlemen.”

“And what have you done with your ecclesiastics?” asked d’Artagnan.

“My dear fellow, I invited them to a dinner the next day,” replied Aramis. “They have some capital wine here—please to observe that in passing. I did my best to make them drunk. Then the curate forbade me to quit my uniform, and the Jesuit entreated me to get him made a Musketeer.”

“Without a thesis?” cried d’Artagnan, “without a thesis? I demand the suppression of the thesis.”

“Since then,” continued Aramis, “I have lived very agreeably. I have begun a poem in verses of one syllable. That is rather difficult, but the merit in all things consists in the difficulty. The matter is gallant. I will read you the first canto. It has four hundred lines, and lasts a minute.”

“My faith, my dear Aramis,” said d’Artagnan, who detested verses almost as much as he did Latin, “add to the merit of the difficulty that of the brevity, and you are sure that your poem will at least have two merits.”

“You will see,” continued Aramis, “that it breathes irreproachable passion. And so, my friends, we return to Paris? Bravo! I am ready. We are going to rejoin that good fellow, Porthos. So much the better. You can’t think how I have missed him, the great simpleton. To see him so self-satisfied reconciles me with myself. He would not sell his horse; not for a kingdom! I think I can see him now, mounted upon his superb animal and seated in his handsome saddle. I am sure he will look like the Great Mogul!”

They made a halt for an hour to refresh their horses. Aramis discharged his bill, placed Bazin in the cart with his comrades, and they set forward to join Porthos.

They found him up, less pale than when d’Artagnan left him after his first visit, and seated at a table on which, though he was alone, was spread enough for four persons. This dinner consisted of meats nicely dressed, choice wines, and superb fruit.

“Ah, PARDIEU!” said he, rising, “you come in the nick of time, gentlemen. I was just beginning the soup, and you will dine with me.”

“Oh, oh!” said d’Artagnan, “Mousqueton has not caught these bottles with his lasso. Besides, here is a piquant FRICANDEAU and a fillet of beef.”

“I am recruiting myself,” said Porthos, “I am recruiting myself. Nothing weakens a man more than these devilish strains. Did you ever suffer from a strain, Athos?”

“Never! Though I remember, in our affair of the Rue Férou, I received a sword wound which at the end of fifteen or eighteen days produced the same effect.”

“But this dinner was not intended for you alone, Porthos?” said Aramis.

“No,” said Porthos, “I expected some gentlemen of the neighborhood, who have just sent me word they could not come. You will take their places and I shall not lose by the exchange. HOLA, Mousqueton, seats, and order double the bottles!”

“Do you know what we are eating here?” said Athos, at the end of ten minutes.

“PARDIEU!” replied d’Artagnan, “for my part, I am eating veal garnished with shrimps and vegetables.”

“And I some lamb chops,” said Porthos.

“And I a plain chicken,” said Aramis.

“You are all mistaken, gentlemen,” answered Athos, gravely; “you are eating horse.”

“Eating what?” said d’Artagnan.

“Horse!” said Aramis, with a grimace of disgust.

Porthos alone made no reply.

“Yes, horse. Are we not eating a horse, Porthos? And perhaps his saddle, therewith.”

“No, gentlemen, I have kept the harness,” said Porthos.

“My faith,” said Aramis, “we are all alike. One would think we had tipped the wink.”

“What could I do?” said Porthos. “This horse made my visitors ashamed of theirs, and I don’t like to humiliate people.”

“Then your duchess is still at the waters?” asked d’Artagnan.

“Still,” replied Porthos. “And, my faith, the governor of the province—one of the gentlemen I expected today—seemed to have such a wish for him, that I gave him to him.”

“Gave him?” cried d’Artagnan.

“My God, yes, GAVE, that is the word,” said Porthos; “for the animal was worth at least a hundred and fifty louis, and the stingy fellow would only give me eighty.”

“Without the saddle?” said Aramis.

“Yes, without the saddle.”

“You will observe, gentlemen,” said Athos, “that Porthos has made the best bargain of any of us.”

And then commenced a roar of laughter in which they all joined, to the astonishment of poor Porthos; but when he was informed of the cause of their hilarity, he shared it vociferously according to his custom.

“There is one comfort, we are all in cash,” said d’Artagnan.

“Well, for my part,” said Athos, “I found Aramis’s Spanish wine so good that I sent on a hamper of sixty bottles of it in the wagon with the lackeys. That has weakened my purse.”

“And I,” said Aramis, “imagined that I had given almost my last sou to the church of Montdidier and the Jesuits of Amiens, with whom I had made engagements which I ought to have kept. I have ordered Masses for myself, and for you, gentlemen, which will be said, gentlemen, for which I have not the least doubt you will be marvelously benefited.”

“And I,” said Porthos, “do you think my strain cost me nothing?—without reckoning Mousqueton’s wound, for which I had to have the surgeon twice a day, and who charged me double on account of that foolish Mousqueton having allowed himself a ball in a part which people generally only show to an apothecary; so I advised him to try never to get wounded there any more.”

“Ay, ay!” said Athos, exchanging a smile with d’Artagnan and Aramis, “it is very clear you acted nobly with regard to the poor lad; that is like a good master.”

“In short,” said Porthos, “when all my expenses are paid, I shall have, at most, thirty crowns left.”

“And I about ten pistoles,” said Aramis.

“Well, then it appears that we are the Croesuses of the society. How much have you left of your hundred pistoles, d’Artagnan?”

“Of my hundred pistoles? Why, in the first place I gave you fifty.”

“You think so?”

“Pardieu!”

“Ah, that is true. I recollect.”

“Then I paid the host six.”

“What a brute of a host! Why did you give him six pistoles?”

“You told me to give them to him.”

“It is true; I am too good-natured. In brief, how much remains?”

“Twenty-five pistoles,” said d’Artagnan.

“And I,” said Athos, taking some small change from his pocket, “I—”

“You? Nothing!”

“My faith! So little that it is not worth reckoning with the general stock.”

“Now, then, let us calculate how much we posses in all.”

“Porthos?”

“Thirty crowns.”

“Aramis?”

“Ten pistoles.”

“And you, d’Artagnan?”

“Twenty-five.”

“That makes in all?” said Athos.

“Four hundred and seventy-five livres,” said d’Artagnan, who reckoned like Archimedes.

“On our arrival in Paris, we shall still have four hundred, besides the harnesses,” said Porthos.

“But our troop horses?” said Aramis.

“Well, of the four horses of our lackeys we will make two for the masters, for which we will draw lots. With the four hundred livres we will make the half of one for one of the unmounted, and then we will give the turnings out of our pockets to d’Artagnan, who has a steady hand, and will go and play in the first gaming house we come to. There!”

“Let us dine, then,” said Porthos; “it is getting cold.”

The friends, at ease with regard to the future, did honor to the repast, the remains of which were abandoned to Mousqueton, Bazin, Planchet, and Grimaud.

On arriving in Paris, d’Artagnan found a letter from M. de Tréville, which informed him that, at his request, the king had promised that he should enter the company of the Musketeers.

As this was the height of d’Artagnan’s worldly ambition—apart, be it well understood, from his desire of finding Mme. Bonacieux—he ran, full of joy, to seek his comrades, whom he had left only half an hour before, but whom he found very sad and deeply preoccupied. They were assembled in council at the residence of Athos, which always indicated an event of some gravity. M. de Tréville had intimated to them his Majesty’s fixed intention to open the campaign on the first of May, and they must immediately prepare their outfits.

The four philosophers looked at one another in a state of bewilderment. M. de Tréville never jested in matters relating to discipline.

“And what do you reckon your outfit will cost?” said d’Artagnan.

“Oh, we can scarcely say. We have made our calculations with Spartan economy, and we each require fifteen hundred livres.”

“Four times fifteen makes sixty—six thousand livres,” said Athos.

“It seems to me,” said d’Artagnan, “with a thousand livres each—I do not speak as a Spartan, but as a procurator—”

This word PROCURATOR roused Porthos. “Stop,” said he, “I have an idea.”

“Well, that’s something, for I have not the shadow of one,” said Athos coolly; “but as to d’Artagnan, gentlemen, the idea of belonging to OURS has driven him out of his senses. A thousand livres! For my part, I declare I want two thousand.”

“Four times two makes eight,” then said Aramis; “it is eight thousand that we want to complete our outfits, toward which, it is true, we have already the saddles.”

“Besides,” said Athos, waiting till d’Artagnan, who went to thank Monsieur de Tréville, had shut the door, “besides, there is that beautiful ring which beams from the finger of our friend. What the devil! D’Artagnan is too good a comrade to leave his brothers in embarrassment while he wears the ransom of a king on his finger.”


29. 
HUNTING FOR THE EQUIPMENTS


The most preoccupied of the four friends was certainly d’Artagnan, although he, in his quality of Guardsman, would be much more easily equipped than Messieurs the Musketeers, who were all of high rank; but our Gascon cadet was, as may have been observed, of a provident and almost avaricious character, and with that (explain the contradiction) so vain as almost to rival Porthos. To this preoccupation of his vanity, d’Artagnan at this moment joined an uneasiness much less selfish. Notwithstanding all his inquiries respecting Mme. Bonacieux, he could obtain no intelligence of her. M. de Tréville had spoken of her to the queen. The queen was ignorant where the mercer’s young wife was, but had promised to have her sought for; but this promise was very vague and did not at all reassure d’Artagnan.

Athos did not leave his chamber; he made up his mind not to take a single step to equip himself.

“We have still fifteen days before us,” said he to his friends, “well, if at the end of a fortnight I have found nothing, or rather if nothing has come to find me, as I, too good a Catholic to kill myself with a pistol bullet, I will seek a good quarrel with four of his Eminence’s Guards or with eight Englishmen, and I will fight until one of them has killed me, which, considering the number, cannot fail to happen. It will then be said of me that I died for the king; so that I shall have performed my duty without the expense of an outfit.”

Porthos continued to walk about with his hands behind him, tossing his head and repeating, “I shall follow up on my idea.”

Aramis, anxious and negligently dressed, said nothing.

It may be seen by these disastrous details that desolation reigned in the community.

The lackeys on their part, like the coursers of Hippolytus, shared the sadness of their masters. Mousqueton collected a store of crusts; Bazin, who had always been inclined to devotion, never quit the churches; Planchet watched the flight of flies; and Grimaud, whom the general distress could not induce to break the silence imposed by his master, heaved sighs enough to soften the stones.

The three friends—for, as we have said, Athos had sworn not to stir a foot to equip himself—went out early in the morning, and returned late at night. They wandered about the streets, looking at the pavement as if to see whether the passengers had not left a purse behind them. They might have been supposed to be following tracks, so observant were they wherever they went. When they met they looked desolately at one another, as much as to say, “Have you found anything?”

However, as Porthos had first found an idea, and had thought of it earnestly afterward, he was the first to act. He was a man of execution, this worthy Porthos. D’Artagnan perceived him one day walking toward the church of St. Leu, and followed him instinctively. He entered, after having twisted his mustache and elongated his imperial, which always announced on his part the most triumphant resolutions. As d’Artagnan took some precautions to conceal himself, Porthos believed he had not been seen. D’Artagnan entered behind him. Porthos went and leaned against the side of a pillar. D’Artagnan, still unperceived, supported himself against the other side.

There happened to be a sermon, which made the church very full of people. Porthos took advantage of this circumstance to ogle the women. Thanks to the cares of Mousqueton, the exterior was far from announcing the distress of the interior. His hat was a little napless, his feather was a little faded, his gold lace was a little tarnished, his laces were a trifle frayed; but in the obscurity of the church these things were not seen, and Porthos was still the handsome Porthos.

D’Artagnan observed, on the bench nearest to the pillar against which Porthos leaned, a sort of ripe beauty, rather yellow and rather dry, but erect and haughty under her black hood. The eyes of Porthos were furtively cast upon this lady, and then roved about at large over the nave.

On her side the lady, who from time to time blushed, darted with the rapidity of lightning a glance toward the inconstant Porthos; and then immediately the eyes of Porthos wandered anxiously. It was plain that this mode of proceeding piqued the lady in the black hood, for she bit her lips till they bled, scratched the end of her nose, and could not sit still in her seat.

Porthos, seeing this, retwisted his mustache, elongated his imperial a second time, and began to make signals to a beautiful lady who was near the choir, and who not only was a beautiful lady, but still further, no doubt, a great lady—for she had behind her a Negro boy who had brought the cushion on which she knelt, and a female servant who held the emblazoned bag in which was placed the book from which she read the Mass.

The lady with the black hood followed through all their wanderings the looks of Porthos, and perceived that they rested upon the lady with the velvet cushion, the little Negro, and the maid-servant.

During this time Porthos played close. It was almost imperceptible motions of his eyes, fingers placed upon the lips, little assassinating smiles, which really did assassinate the disdained beauty.

Then she cried, “Ahem!” under cover of the MEA CULPA, striking her breast so vigorously that everybody, even the lady with the red cushion, turned round toward her. Porthos paid no attention. Nevertheless, he understood it all, but was deaf.

The lady with the red cushion produced a great effect—for she was very handsome—upon the lady with the black hood, who saw in her a rival really to be dreaded; a great effect upon Porthos, who thought her much prettier than the lady with the black hood; a great effect upon d’Artagnan, who recognized in her the lady of Meung, of Calais, and of Dover, whom his persecutor, the man with the scar, had saluted by the name of Milady.

D’Artagnan, without losing sight of the lady of the red cushion, continued to watch the proceedings of Porthos, which amused him greatly. He guessed that the lady of the black hood was the procurator’s wife of the Rue aux Ours, which was the more probable from the church of St. Leu being not far from that locality.

He guessed, likewise, by induction, that Porthos was taking his revenge for the defeat of Chantilly, when the procurator’s wife had proved so refractory with respect to her purse.

Amid all this, d’Artagnan remarked also that not one countenance responded to the gallantries of Porthos. There were only chimeras and illusions; but for real love, for true jealousy, is there any reality except illusions and chimeras?

The sermon over, the procurator’s wife advanced toward the holy font. Porthos went before her, and instead of a finger, dipped his whole hand in. The procurator’s wife smiled, thinking that it was for her Porthos had put himself to this trouble; but she was cruelly and promptly undeceived. When she was only about three steps from him, he turned his head round, fixing his eyes steadfastly upon the lady with the red cushion, who had risen and was approaching, followed by her black boy and her woman.

When the lady of the red cushion came close to Porthos, Porthos drew his dripping hand from the font. The fair worshipper touched the great hand of Porthos with her delicate fingers, smiled, made the sign of the cross, and left the church.

This was too much for the procurator’s wife; she doubted not there was an intrigue between this lady and Porthos. If she had been a great lady she would have fainted; but as she was only a procurator’s wife, she contented herself saying to the Musketeer with concentrated fury, “Eh, Monsieur Porthos, you don’t offer me any holy water?”

Porthos, at the sound of that voice, started like a man awakened from a sleep of a hundred years.

“Ma-madame!” cried he; “is that you? How is your husband, our dear Monsieur Coquenard? Is he still as stingy as ever? Where can my eyes have been not to have seen you during the two hours of the sermon?”

“I was within two paces of you, monsieur,” replied the procurator’s wife; “but you did not perceive me because you had no eyes but for the pretty lady to whom you just now gave the holy water.”

Porthos pretended to be confused. “Ah,” said he, “you have remarked—”

“I must have been blind not to have seen.”

“Yes,” said Porthos, “that is a duchess of my acquaintance whom I have great trouble to meet on account of the jealousy of her husband, and who sent me word that she should come today to this poor church, buried in this vile quarter, solely for the sake of seeing me.”

“Monsieur Porthos,” said the procurator’s wife, “will you have the kindness to offer me your arm for five minutes? I have something to say to you.”

“Certainly, madame,” said Porthos, winking to himself, as a gambler does who laughs at the dupe he is about to pluck.

At that moment d’Artagnan passed in pursuit of Milady; he cast a passing glance at Porthos, and beheld this triumphant look.

“Eh, eh!” said he, reasoning to himself according to the strangely easy morality of that gallant period, “there is one who will be equipped in good time!”

Porthos, yielding to the pressure of the arm of the procurator’s wife, as a bark yields to the rudder, arrived at the cloister St. Magloire—a little-frequented passage, enclosed with a turnstile at each end. In the daytime nobody was seen there but mendicants devouring their crusts, and children at play.

“Ah, Monsieur Porthos,” cried the procurator’s wife, when she was assured that no one who was a stranger to the population of the locality could either see or hear her, “ah, Monsieur Porthos, you are a great conqueror, as it appears!”

“I, madame?” said Porthos, drawing himself up proudly; “how so?”

“The signs just now, and the holy water! But that must be a princess, at least—that lady with her Negro boy and her maid!”

“My God! Madame, you are deceived,” said Porthos; “she is simply a duchess.”

“And that running footman who waited at the door, and that carriage with a coachman in grand livery who sat waiting on his seat?”

Porthos had seen neither the footman nor the carriage, but with the eye of a jealous woman, Mme. Coquenard had seen everything.

Porthos regretted that he had not at once made the lady of the red cushion a princess.

“Ah, you are quite the pet of the ladies, Monsieur Porthos!” resumed the procurator’s wife, with a sigh.

“Well,” responded Porthos, “you may imagine, with the physique with which nature has endowed me, I am not in want of good luck.”

“Good Lord, how quickly men forget!” cried the procurator’s wife, raising her eyes toward heaven.

“Less quickly than the women, it seems to me,” replied Porthos; “for I, madame, I may say I was your victim, when wounded, dying, I was abandoned by the surgeons. I, the offspring of a noble family, who placed reliance upon your friendship—I was near dying of my wounds at first, and of hunger afterward, in a beggarly inn at Chantilly, without you ever deigning once to reply to the burning letters I addressed to you.”

“But, Monsieur Porthos,” murmured the procurator’s wife, who began to feel that, to judge by the conduct of the great ladies of the time, she was wrong.

“I, who had sacrificed for you the Baronne de—”

“I know it well.”

“The Comtesse de—”

“Monsieur Porthos, be generous!”

“You are right, madame, and I will not finish.”

“But it was my husband who would not hear of lending.”

“Madame Coquenard,” said Porthos, “remember the first letter you wrote me, and which I preserve engraved in my memory.”

The procurator’s wife uttered a groan.

“Besides,” said she, “the sum you required me to borrow was rather large.”

“Madame Coquenard, I gave you the preference. I had but to write to the Duchesse—but I won’t repeat her name, for I am incapable of compromising a woman; but this I know, that I had but to write to her and she would have sent me fifteen hundred.”

The procurator’s wife shed a tear.

“Monsieur Porthos,” said she, “I can assure you that you have severely punished me; and if in the time to come you should find yourself in a similar situation, you have but to apply to me.”

“Fie, madame, fie!” said Porthos, as if disgusted. “Let us not talk about money, if you please; it is humiliating.”

“Then you no longer love me!” said the procurator’s wife, slowly and sadly.

Porthos maintained a majestic silence.

“And that is the only reply you make? Alas, I understand.”

“Think of the offense you have committed toward me, madame! It remains HERE!” said Porthos, placing his hand on his heart, and pressing it strongly.

“I will repair it, indeed I will, my dear Porthos.”

“Besides, what did I ask of you?” resumed Porthos, with a movement of the shoulders full of good fellowship. “A loan, nothing more! After all, I am not an unreasonable man. I know you are not rich, Madame Coquenard, and that your husband is obliged to bleed his poor clients to squeeze a few paltry crowns from them. Oh! If you were a duchess, a marchioness, or a countess, it would be quite a different thing; it would be unpardonable.”

The procurator’s wife was piqued.

“Please to know, Monsieur Porthos,” said she, “that my strongbox, the strongbox of a procurator’s wife though it may be, is better filled than those of your affected minxes.”

“That doubles the offense,” said Porthos, disengaging his arm from that of the procurator’s wife; “for if you are rich, Madame Coquenard, then there is no excuse for your refusal.”

“When I said rich,” replied the procurator’s wife, who saw that she had gone too far, “you must not take the word literally. I am not precisely rich, though I am pretty well off.”

“Hold, madame,” said Porthos, “let us say no more upon the subject, I beg of you. You have misunderstood me, all sympathy is extinct between us.”

“Ingrate that you are!”

“Ah! I advise you to complain!” said Porthos.

“Begone, then, to your beautiful duchess; I will detain you no longer.”

“And she is not to be despised, in my opinion.”

“Now, Monsieur Porthos, once more, and this is the last! Do you love me still?”

“Ah, madame,” said Porthos, in the most melancholy tone he could assume, “when we are about to enter upon a campaign—a campaign, in which my presentiments tell me I shall be killed—”

“Oh, don’t talk of such things!” cried the procurator’s wife, bursting into tears.

“Something whispers me so,” continued Porthos, becoming more and more melancholy.

“Rather say that you have a new love.”

“Not so; I speak frankly to you. No object affects me; and I even feel here, at the bottom of my heart, something which speaks for you. But in fifteen days, as you know, or as you do not know, this fatal campaign is to open. I shall be fearfully preoccupied with my outfit. Then I must make a journey to see my family, in the lower part of Brittany, to obtain the sum necessary for my departure.”

Porthos observed a last struggle between love and avarice.

“And as,” continued he, “the duchess whom you saw at the church has estates near to those of my family, we mean to make the journey together. Journeys, you know, appear much shorter when we travel two in company.”

“Have you no friends in Paris, then, Monsieur Porthos?” said the procurator’s wife.

“I thought I had,” said Porthos, resuming his melancholy air; “but I have been taught my mistake.”

“You have some!” cried the procurator’s wife, in a transport that surprised even herself. “Come to our house tomorrow. You are the son of my aunt, consequently my cousin; you come from Noyon, in Picardy; you have several lawsuits and no attorney. Can you recollect all that?”

“Perfectly, madame.”

“Come at dinnertime.”

“Very well.”

“And be upon your guard before my husband, who is rather shrewd, notwithstanding his seventy-six years.”

“Seventy-six years! PESTE! That’s a fine age!” replied Porthos.

“A great age, you mean, Monsieur Porthos. Yes, the poor man may be expected to leave me a widow, any hour,” continued she, throwing a significant glance at Porthos. “Fortunately, by our marriage contract, the survivor takes everything.”

“All?”

“Yes, all.”

“You are a woman of precaution, I see, my dear Madame Coquenard,” said Porthos, squeezing the hand of the procurator’s wife tenderly.

“We are then reconciled, dear Monsieur Porthos?” said she, simpering.

“For life,” replied Porthos, in the same manner.

“Till we meet again, then, dear traitor!”

“Till we meet again, my forgetful charmer!”

“Tomorrow, my angel!”

“Tomorrow, flame of my life!”


30. 
D’ARTAGNAN AND THE ENGLISHMAN


D’Artagnan followed Milady without being perceived by her. He saw her get into her carriage, and heard her order the coachman to drive to St. Germain.

It was useless to try to keep pace on foot with a carriage drawn by two powerful horses. D’Artagnan therefore returned to the Rue Férou.

In the Rue de Seine he met Planchet, who had stopped before the house of a pastry cook, and was contemplating with ecstasy a cake of the most appetizing appearance.

He ordered him to go and saddle two horses in M. de Tréville’s stables—one for himself, d’Artagnan, and one for Planchet—and bring them to Athos’s place. Once for all, Tréville had placed his stable at d’Artagnan’s service.

Planchet proceeded toward the Rue du Colombier, and d’Artagnan toward the Rue Férou. Athos was at home, emptying sadly a bottle of the famous Spanish wine he had brought back with him from his journey into Picardy. He made a sign for Grimaud to bring a glass for d’Artagnan, and Grimaud obeyed as usual.

D’Artagnan related to Athos all that had passed at the church between Porthos and the procurator’s wife, and how their comrade was probably by that time in a fair way to be equipped.

“As for me,” replied Athos to this recital, “I am quite at my ease; it will not be women that will defray the expense of my outfit.”

“Handsome, well-bred, noble lord as you are, my dear Athos, neither princesses nor queens would be secure from your amorous solicitations.”

“How young this d’Artagnan is!” said Athos, shrugging his shoulders; and he made a sign to Grimaud to bring another bottle.

At that moment Planchet put his head modestly in at the half-open door, and told his master that the horses were ready.

“What horses?” asked Athos.

“Two horses that Monsieur de Tréville lends me at my pleasure, and with which I am now going to take a ride to St. Germain.”

“Well, and what are you going to do at St. Germain?” then demanded Athos.

Then d’Artagnan described the meeting which he had at the church, and how he had found that lady who, with the seigneur in the black cloak and with the scar near his temple, filled his mind constantly.

“That is to say, you are in love with this lady as you were with Madame Bonacieux,” said Athos, shrugging his shoulders contemptuously, as if he pitied human weakness.

“I? not at all!” said d’Artagnan. “I am only curious to unravel the mystery to which she is attached. I do not know why, but I imagine that this woman, wholly unknown to me as she is, and wholly unknown to her as I am, has an influence over my life.”

“Well, perhaps you are right,” said Athos. “I do not know a woman that is worth the trouble of being sought for when she is once lost. Madame Bonacieux is lost; so much the worse for her if she is found.”

“No, Athos, no, you are mistaken,” said d’Artagnan; “I love my poor Constance more than ever, and if I knew the place in which she is, were it at the end of the world, I would go to free her from the hands of her enemies; but I am ignorant. All my researches have been useless. What is to be said? I must divert my attention!”

“Amuse yourself with Milady, my dear d’Artagnan; I wish you may with all my heart, if that will amuse you.”

“Hear me, Athos,” said d’Artagnan. “Instead of shutting yourself up here as if you were under arrest, get on horseback and come and take a ride with me to St. Germain.”

“My dear fellow,” said Athos, “I ride horses when I have any; when I have none, I go afoot.”

“Well,” said d’Artagnan, smiling at the misanthropy of Athos, which from any other person would have offended him, “I ride what I can get; I am not so proud as you. So AU REVOIR, dear Athos.”

“AU REVOIR,” said the Musketeer, making a sign to Grimaud to uncork the bottle he had just brought.

D’Artagnan and Planchet mounted, and took the road to St. Germain.

All along the road, what Athos had said respecting Mme. Bonacieux recurred to the mind of the young man. Although d’Artagnan was not of a very sentimental character, the mercer’s pretty wife had made a real impression upon his heart. As he said, he was ready to go to the end of the world to seek her; but the world, being round, has many ends, so that he did not know which way to turn. Meantime, he was going to try to find out Milady. Milady had spoken to the man in the black cloak; therefore she knew him. Now, in the opinion of d’Artagnan, it was certainly the man in the black cloak who had carried off Mme. Bonacieux the second time, as he had carried her off the first. D’Artagnan then only half-lied, which is lying but little, when he said that by going in search of Milady he at the same time went in search of Constance.

Thinking of all this, and from time to time giving a touch of the spur to his horse, d’Artagnan completed his short journey, and arrived at St. Germain. He had just passed by the pavilion in which ten years later Louis XIV was born. He rode up a very quiet street, looking to the right and the left to see if he could catch any vestige of his beautiful Englishwoman, when from the ground floor of a pretty house, which, according to the fashion of the time, had no window toward the street, he saw a face peep out with which he thought he was acquainted. This person walked along the terrace, which was ornamented with flowers. Planchet recognized him first.

“Eh, monsieur!” said he, addressing d’Artagnan, “don’t you remember that face which is blinking yonder?”

“No,” said d’Artagnan, “and yet I am certain it is not the first time I have seen that visage.”

“PARBLEU, I believe it is not,” said Planchet. “Why, it is poor Lubin, the lackey of the Comte de Wardes—he whom you took such good care of a month ago at Calais, on the road to the governor’s country house!”

“So it is!” said d’Artagnan; “I know him now. Do you think he would recollect you?”

“My faith, monsieur, he was in such trouble that I doubt if he can have retained a very clear recollection of me.”

“Well, go and talk with the boy,” said d’Artagnan, “and make out if you can from his conversation whether his master is dead.”

Planchet dismounted and went straight up to Lubin, who did not at all remember him, and the two lackeys began to chat with the best understanding possible; while d’Artagnan turned the two horses into a lane, went round the house, and came back to watch the conference from behind a hedge of filberts.

At the end of an instant’s observation he heard the noise of a vehicle, and saw Milady’s carriage stop opposite to him. He could not be mistaken; Milady was in it. D’Artagnan leaned upon the neck of his horse, in order that he might see without being seen.

Milady put her charming blond head out at the window, and gave her orders to her maid.

The latter—a pretty girl of about twenty or twenty-two years, active and lively, the true SOUBRETTE of a great lady—jumped from the step upon which, according to the custom of the time, she was seated, and took her way toward the terrace upon which d’Artagnan had perceived Lubin.

D’Artagnan followed the soubrette with his eyes, and saw her go toward the terrace; but it happened that someone in the house called Lubin, so that Planchet remained alone, looking in all directions for the road where d’Artagnan had disappeared.

The maid approached Planchet, whom she took for Lubin, and holding out a little billet to him said, “For your master.”

“For my master?” replied Planchet, astonished.

“Yes, and important. Take it quickly.”

Thereupon she ran toward the carriage, which had turned round toward the way it came, jumped upon the step, and the carriage drove off.

Planchet turned and returned the billet. Then, accustomed to passive obedience, he jumped down from the terrace, ran toward the lane, and at the end of twenty paces met d’Artagnan, who, having seen all, was coming to him.

“For you, monsieur,” said Planchet, presenting the billet to the young man.

“For me?” said d’Artagnan; “are you sure of that?”

“PARDIEU, monsieur, I can’t be more sure. The SOUBRETTE said, ‘For your master.’ I have no other master but you; so—a pretty little lass, my faith, is that SOUBRETTE!”

D’Artagnan opened the letter, and read these words:

“A person who takes more interest in you than she is willing to confess wishes to know on what day it will suit you to walk in the forest? Tomorrow, at the Hôtel Field of the Cloth of Gold, a lackey in black and red will wait for your reply.”

“Oh!” said d’Artagnan, “this is rather warm; it appears that Milady and I are anxious about the health of the same person. Well, Planchet, how is the good Monsieur de Wardes? He is not dead, then?”

“No, monsieur, he is as well as a man can be with four sword wounds in his body; for you, without question, inflicted four upon the dear gentleman, and he is still very weak, having lost almost all his blood. As I said, monsieur, Lubin did not know me, and told me our adventure from one end to the other.”

“Well done, Planchet! you are the king of lackeys. Now jump onto your horse, and let us overtake the carriage.”

This did not take long. At the end of five minutes they perceived the carriage drawn up by the roadside; a cavalier, richly dressed, was close to the door.

The conversation between Milady and the cavalier was so animated that d’Artagnan stopped on the other side of the carriage without anyone but the pretty SOUBRETTE perceiving his presence.

The conversation took place in English—a language which d’Artagnan could not understand; but by the accent the young man plainly saw that the beautiful Englishwoman was in a great rage. She terminated it by an action which left no doubt as to the nature of this conversation; this was a blow with her fan, applied with such force that the little feminine weapon flew into a thousand pieces.

The cavalier laughed aloud, which appeared to exasperate Milady still more.

D’Artagnan thought this was the moment to interfere. He approached the other door, and taking off his hat respectfully, said, “Madame, will you permit me to offer you my services? It appears to me that this cavalier has made you very angry. Speak one word, madame, and I take upon myself to punish him for his want of courtesy.”

At the first word Milady turned, looking at the young man with astonishment; and when he had finished, she said in very good French, “Monsieur, I should with great confidence place myself under your protection if the person with whom I quarrel were not my brother.”

“Ah, excuse me, then,” said d’Artagnan. “You must be aware that I was ignorant of that, madame.”

“What is that stupid fellow troubling himself about?” cried the cavalier whom Milady had designated as her brother, stooping down to the height of the coach window. “Why does not he go about his business?”

“Stupid fellow yourself!” said d’Artagnan, stooping in his turn on the neck of his horse, and answering on his side through the carriage window. “I do not go on because it pleases me to stop here.”

The cavalier addressed some words in English to his sister.

“I speak to you in French,” said d’Artagnan; “be kind enough, then, to reply to me in the same language. You are Madame’s brother, I learn—be it so; but fortunately you are not mine.”

It might be thought that Milady, timid as women are in general, would have interposed in this commencement of mutual provocations in order to prevent the quarrel from going too far; but on the contrary, she threw herself back in her carriage, and called out coolly to the coachman, “Go on—home!”

The pretty SOUBRETTE cast an anxious glance at d’Artagnan, whose good looks seemed to have made an impression on her.

The carriage went on, and left the two men facing each other; no material obstacle separated them.

The cavalier made a movement as if to follow the carriage; but d’Artagnan, whose anger, already excited, was much increased by recognizing in him the Englishman of Amiens who had won his horse and had been very near winning his diamond of Athos, caught at his bridle and stopped him.

“Well, monsieur,” said he, “you appear to be more stupid than I am, for you forget there is a little quarrel to arrange between us two.”

“Ah,” said the Englishman, “is it you, my master? It seems you must always be playing some game or other.”

“Yes; and that reminds me that I have a revenge to take. We will see, my dear monsieur, if you can handle a sword as skillfully as you can a dice box.”

“You see plainly that I have no sword,” said the Englishman. “Do you wish to play the braggart with an unarmed man?”

“I hope you have a sword at home; but at all events, I have two, and if you like, I will throw with you for one of them.”

“Needless,” said the Englishman; “I am well furnished with such playthings.”

“Very well, my worthy gentleman,” replied d’Artagnan, “pick out the longest, and come and show it to me this evening.”

“Where, if you please?”

“Behind the Luxembourg; that’s a charming spot for such amusements as the one I propose to you.”

“That will do; I will be there.”

“Your hour?”

“Six o’clock.”

“A PROPOS, you have probably one or two friends?”

“I have three, who would be honored by joining in the sport with me.”

“Three? Marvelous! That falls out oddly! Three is just my number!”

“Now, then, who are you?” asked the Englishman.

“I am Monsieur d’Artagnan, a Gascon gentleman, serving in the king’s Musketeers. And you?”

“I am Lord de Winter, Baron Sheffield.”

“Well, then, I am your servant, Monsieur Baron,” said d’Artagnan, “though you have names rather difficult to recollect.” And touching his horse with the spur, he cantered back to Paris. As he was accustomed to do in all cases of any consequence, d’Artagnan went straight to the residence of Athos.

He found Athos reclining upon a large sofa, where he was waiting, as he said, for his outfit to come and find him. He related to Athos all that had passed, except the letter to M. de Wardes.

Athos was delighted to find he was going to fight an Englishman. We might say that was his dream.

They immediately sent their lackeys for Porthos and Aramis, and on their arrival made them acquainted with the situation.

Porthos drew his sword from the scabbard, and made passes at the wall, springing back from time to time, and making contortions like a dancer.

Aramis, who was constantly at work at his poem, shut himself up in Athos’s closet, and begged not to be disturbed before the moment of drawing swords.

Athos, by signs, desired Grimaud to bring another bottle of wine.

D’Artagnan employed himself in arranging a little plan, of which we shall hereafter see the execution, and which promised him some agreeable adventure, as might be seen by the smiles which from time to time passed over his countenance, whose thoughtfulness they animated.