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The Three Musketeers

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7. 
THE INTERIOR OF THE MUSKETEERS


When d’Artagnan was out of the Louvre, and consulted his friends upon the use he had best make of his share of the forty pistoles, Athos advised him to order a good repast at the Pomme-de-Pin, Porthos to engage a lackey, and Aramis to provide himself with a suitable mistress.

The repast was carried into effect that very day, and the lackey waited at table. The repast had been ordered by Athos, and the lackey furnished by Porthos. He was a Picard, whom the glorious Musketeer had picked up on the Bridge Tournelle, making rings and plashing in the water.

Porthos pretended that this occupation was proof of a reflective and contemplative organization, and he had brought him away without any other recommendation. The noble carriage of this gentleman, for whom he believed himself to be engaged, had won Planchet—that was the name of the Picard. He felt a slight disappointment, however, when he saw that this place was already taken by a compeer named Mousqueton, and when Porthos signified to him that the state of his household, though great, would not support two servants, and that he must enter into the service of d’Artagnan. Nevertheless, when he waited at the dinner given by his master, and saw him take out a handful of gold to pay for it, he believed his fortune made, and returned thanks to heaven for having thrown him into the service of such a Croesus. He preserved this opinion even after the feast, with the remnants of which he repaired his own long abstinence; but when in the evening he made his master’s bed, the chimeras of Planchet faded away. The bed was the only one in the apartment, which consisted of an antechamber and a bedroom. Planchet slept in the antechamber upon a coverlet taken from the bed of d’Artagnan, and which d’Artagnan from that time made shift to do without.

Athos, on his part, had a valet whom he had trained in his service in a thoroughly peculiar fashion, and who was named Grimaud. He was very taciturn, this worthy signor. Be it understood we are speaking of Athos. During the five or six years that he had lived in the strictest intimacy with his companions, Porthos and Aramis, they could remember having often seen him smile, but had never heard him laugh. His words were brief and expressive, conveying all that was meant, and no more; no embellishments, no embroidery, no arabesques. His conversation was a matter of fact, without a single romance.

Although Athos was scarcely thirty years old, and was of great personal beauty and intelligence of mind, no one knew whether he had ever had a mistress. He never spoke of women. He certainly did not prevent others from speaking of them before him, although it was easy to perceive that this kind of conversation, in which he only mingled by bitter words and misanthropic remarks, was very disagreeable to him. His reserve, his roughness, and his silence made almost an old man of him. He had, then, in order not to disturb his habits, accustomed Grimaud to obey him upon a simple gesture or upon a simple movement of his lips. He never spoke to him, except under the most extraordinary occasions.

Sometimes, Grimaud, who feared his master as he did fire, while entertaining a strong attachment to his person and a great veneration for his talents, believed he perfectly understood what he wanted, flew to execute the order received, and did precisely the contrary. Athos then shrugged his shoulders, and, without putting himself in a passion, thrashed Grimaud. On these days he spoke a little.

Porthos, as we have seen, had a character exactly opposite to that of Athos. He not only talked much, but he talked loudly, little caring, we must render him that justice, whether anybody listened to him or not. He talked for the pleasure of talking and for the pleasure of hearing himself talk. He spoke upon all subjects except the sciences, alleging in this respect the inveterate hatred he had borne to scholars from his childhood. He had not so noble an air as Athos, and the commencement of their intimacy often rendered him unjust toward that gentleman, whom he endeavored to eclipse by his splendid dress. But with his simple Musketeer’s uniform and nothing but the manner in which he threw back his head and advanced his foot, Athos instantly took the place which was his due and consigned the ostentatious Porthos to the second rank. Porthos consoled himself by filling the antechamber of M. de Tréville and the guardroom of the Louvre with the accounts of his love scrapes, after having passed from professional ladies to military ladies, from the lawyer’s dame to the baroness, there was question of nothing less with Porthos than a foreign princess, who was enormously fond of him.

An old proverb says, “Like master, like man.” Let us pass, then, from the valet of Athos to the valet of Porthos, from Grimaud to Mousqueton.

Mousqueton was a Norman, whose pacific name of Boniface his master had changed into the infinitely more sonorous name of Mousqueton. He had entered the service of Porthos upon condition that he should only be clothed and lodged, though in a handsome manner; but he claimed two hours a day to himself, consecrated to an employment which would provide for his other wants. Porthos agreed to the bargain; the thing suited him wonderfully well. He had doublets cut out of his old clothes and cast-off cloaks for Mousqueton, and thanks to a very intelligent tailor, who made his clothes look as good as new by turning them, and whose wife was suspected of wishing to make Porthos descend from his aristocratic habits, Mousqueton made a very good figure when attending on his master.

As for Aramis, of whom we believe we have sufficiently explained the character—a character which, like that of his companions, we shall be able to follow in its development—his lackey was called Bazin. Thanks to the hopes which his master entertained of someday entering into orders, he was always clothed in black, as became the servant of a churchman. He was a Berrichon, thirty-five or forty years old, mild, peaceable, sleek, employing the leisure his master left him in the perusal of pious works, providing rigorously for two a dinner of few dishes, but excellent. For the rest, he was dumb, blind, and deaf, and of unimpeachable fidelity.

And now that we are acquainted, superficially at least, with the masters and the valets, let us pass on to the dwellings occupied by each of them.

Athos dwelt in the Rue Férou, within two steps of the Luxembourg. His apartment consisted of two small chambers, very nicely fitted up, in a furnished house, the hostess of which, still young and still really handsome, cast tender glances uselessly at him. Some fragments of past splendor appeared here and there upon the walls of this modest lodging; a sword, for example, richly embossed, which belonged by its make to the times of Francis I, the hilt of which alone, encrusted with precious stones, might be worth two hundred pistoles, and which, nevertheless, in his moments of greatest distress Athos had never pledged or offered for sale. It had long been an object of ambition for Porthos. Porthos would have given ten years of his life to possess this sword.

One day, when he had an appointment with a duchess, he endeavored even to borrow it of Athos. Athos, without saying anything, emptied his pockets, got together all his jewels, purses, aiguillettes, and gold chains, and offered them all to Porthos; but as to the sword, he said it was sealed to its place and should never quit it until its master should himself quit his lodgings. In addition to the sword, there was a portrait representing a nobleman of the time of Henry III, dressed with the greatest elegance, and who wore the Order of the Holy Ghost; and this portrait had certain resemblances of lines with Athos, certain family likenesses which indicated that this great noble, a knight of the Order of the King, was his ancestor.

Besides these, a casket of magnificent goldwork, with the same arms as the sword and the portrait, formed a middle ornament to the mantelpiece, and assorted badly with the rest of the furniture. Athos always carried the key of this coffer about him; but he one day opened it before Porthos, and Porthos was convinced that this coffer contained nothing but letters and papers—love letters and family papers, no doubt.

Porthos lived in an apartment, large in size and of very sumptuous appearance, in the Rue du Vieux-Colombier. Every time he passed with a friend before his windows, at one of which Mousqueton was sure to be placed in full livery, Porthos raised his head and his hand, and said, “That is my abode!” But he was never to be found at home; he never invited anybody to go up with him, and no one could form an idea of what his sumptuous apartment contained in the shape of real riches.

As to Aramis, he dwelt in a little lodging composed of a boudoir, an eating room, and a bedroom, which room, situated, as the others were, on the ground floor, looked out upon a little fresh green garden, shady and impenetrable to the eyes of his neighbors.

With regard to d’Artagnan, we know how he was lodged, and we have already made acquaintance with his lackey, Master Planchet.

D’Artagnan, who was by nature very curious—as people generally are who possess the genius of intrigue—did all he could to make out who Athos, Porthos, and Aramis really were (for under these pseudonyms each of these young men concealed his family name)—Athos in particular, who, a league away, savored of nobility. He addressed himself then to Porthos to gain information respecting Athos and Aramis, and to Aramis in order to learn something of Porthos.

Unfortunately Porthos knew nothing of the life of his silent companion but what revealed itself. It was said Athos had met with great crosses in love, and that a frightful treachery had forever poisoned the life of this gallant man. What could this treachery be? All the world was ignorant of it.

As to Porthos, except his real name (as was the case with those of his two comrades), his life was very easily known. Vain and indiscreet, it was as easy to see through him as through a crystal. The only thing to mislead the investigator would have been belief in all the good things he said of himself.

With respect to Aramis, though having the air of having nothing secret about him, he was a young fellow made up of mysteries, answering little to questions put to him about others, and having learned from him the report which prevailed concerning the success of the Musketeer with a princess, wished to gain a little insight into the amorous adventures of his interlocutor. “And you, my dear companion,” said he, “you speak of the baronesses, countesses, and princesses of others?”

“Pardieu! I spoke of them because Porthos talked of them himself, because he had paraded all these fine things before me. But be assured, my dear Monsieur d’Artagnan, that if I had obtained them from any other source, or if they had been confided to me, there exists no confessor more discreet than myself.”

“Oh, I don’t doubt that,” replied d’Artagnan; “but it seems to me that you are tolerably familiar with coats of arms—a certain embroidered handkerchief, for instance, to which I owe the honor of your acquaintance?”

This time Aramis was not angry, but assumed the most modest air and replied in a friendly tone, “My dear friend, do not forget that I wish to belong to the Church, and that I avoid all mundane opportunities. The handkerchief you saw had not been given to me, but it had been forgotten and left at my house by one of my friends. I was obliged to pick it up in order not to compromise him and the lady he loves. As for myself, I neither have, nor desire to have, a mistress, following in that respect the very judicious example of Athos, who has none any more than I have.”

“But what the devil! You are not a priest, you are a Musketeer!”

“A Musketeer for a time, my friend, as the cardinal says, a Musketeer against my will, but a churchman at heart, believe me. Athos and Porthos dragged me into this to occupy me. I had, at the moment of being ordained, a little difficulty with—But that would not interest you, and I am taking up your valuable time.”

“Not at all; it interests me very much,” cried d’Artagnan; “and at this moment I have absolutely nothing to do.”

“Yes, but I have my breviary to repeat,” answered Aramis; “then some verses to compose, which Madame d’Aiguillon begged of me. Then I must go to the Rue St. Honoré in order to purchase some rouge for Madame de Chevreuse. So you see, my dear friend, that if you are not in a hurry, I am very much in a hurry.”

Aramis held out his hand in a cordial manner to his young companion, and took leave of him.

Notwithstanding all the pains he took, d’Artagnan was unable to learn any more concerning his three new-made friends. He formed, therefore, the resolution of believing for the present all that was said of their past, hoping for more certain and extended revelations in the future. In the meanwhile, he looked upon Athos as an Achilles, Porthos as an Ajax, and Aramis as a Joseph.

As to the rest, the life of the four young friends was joyous enough. Athos played, and that as a rule unfortunately. Nevertheless, he never borrowed a sou of his companions, although his purse was ever at their service; and when he had played upon honor, he always awakened his creditor by six o’clock the next morning to pay the debt of the preceding evening.

Porthos had his fits. On the days when he won he was insolent and ostentatious; if he lost, he disappeared completely for several days, after which he reappeared with a pale face and thinner person, but with money in his purse.

As to Aramis, he never played. He was the worst Musketeer and the most unconvivial companion imaginable. He had always something or other to do. Sometimes in the midst of dinner, when everyone, under the attraction of wine and in the warmth of conversation, believed they had two or three hours longer to enjoy themselves at table, Aramis looked at his watch, arose with a bland smile, and took leave of the company, to go, as he said, to consult a casuist with whom he had an appointment. At other times he would return home to write a treatise, and requested his friends not to disturb him.

At this Athos would smile, with his charming, melancholy smile, which so became his noble countenance, and Porthos would drink, swearing that Aramis would never be anything but a village curé.

Planchet, d’Artagnan’s valet, supported his good fortune nobly. He received thirty sous per day, and for a month he returned to his lodgings gay as a chaffinch, and affable toward his master. When the wind of adversity began to blow upon the housekeeping of the Rue des Fossoyeurs—that is to say, when the forty pistoles of King Louis XIII were consumed or nearly so—he commenced complaints which Athos thought nauseous, Porthos indecent, and Aramis ridiculous. Athos counseled d’Artagnan to dismiss the fellow; Porthos was of the opinion that he should give him a good thrashing first; and Aramis contended that a master should never attend to anything but the civilities paid to him.

“This is all very easy for you to say,” replied d’Artagnan, “for you, Athos, who live like a dumb man with Grimaud, who forbid him to speak, and consequently never exchange ill words with him; for you, Porthos, who carry matters in such a magnificent style, and are a god to your valet, Mousqueton; and for you, Aramis, who, always abstracted by your theological studies, inspire your servant, Bazin, a mild, religious man, with a profound respect; but for me, who am without any settled means and without resources—for me, who am neither a Musketeer nor even a Guardsman, what am I to do to inspire either the affection, the terror, or the respect in Planchet?”

“This is serious,” answered the three friends; “it is a family affair. It is with valets as with wives, they must be placed at once upon the footing in which you wish them to remain. Reflect upon it.”

D’Artagnan did reflect, and resolved to thrash Planchet provisionally; which he did with the conscientiousness that d’Artagnan carried into everything. After having well beaten him, he forbade him to leave his service without his permission. “For,” added he, “the future cannot fail to mend; I inevitably look for better times. Your fortune is therefore made if you remain with me, and I am too good a master to allow you to miss such a chance by granting you the dismissal you require.”

This manner of acting roused much respect for d’Artagnan’s policy among the Musketeers. Planchet was equally seized with admiration, and said no more about going away.

The life of the four young men had become fraternal. D’Artagnan, who had no settled habits of his own, as he came from his province into the midst of a world quite new to him, fell easily into the habits of his friends.

They rose about eight o’clock in the winter, about six in summer, and went to take the countersign and see how things went on at M. de Tréville’s. D’Artagnan, although he was not a Musketeer, performed the duty of one with remarkable punctuality. He went on guard because he always kept company with whoever of his friends was on duty. He was well known at the Hôtel of the Musketeers, where everyone considered him a good comrade. M. de Tréville, who had appreciated him at the first glance and who bore him a real affection, never ceased recommending him to the king.

On their side, the three Musketeers were much attached to their young comrade. The friendship which united these four men, and the need they felt of seeing another three or four times a day, whether for dueling, business, or pleasure, caused them to be continually running after one another like shadows; and the Inseparables were constantly to be met with seeking one another, from the Luxembourg to the Place St. Sulpice, or from the Rue du Vieux-Colombier to the Luxembourg.

In the meanwhile the promises of M. de Tréville went on prosperously. One fine morning the king commanded M. de Chevalier Dessessart to admit d’Artagnan as a cadet in his company of Guards. D’Artagnan, with a sigh, donned his uniform, which he would have exchanged for that of a Musketeer at the expense of ten years of his existence. But M. de Tréville promised this favor after a novitiate of two years—a novitiate which might besides be abridged if an opportunity should present itself for d’Artagnan to render the king any signal service, or to distinguish himself by some brilliant action. Upon this promise d’Artagnan withdrew, and the next day he began service.

Then it became the turn of Athos, Porthos, and Aramis to mount guard with d’Artagnan when he was on duty. The company of M. le Chevalier Dessessart thus received four instead of one when it admitted d’Artagnan.


8. 
CONCERNING A COURT INTRIGUE


In the meantime, the forty pistoles of King Louis XIII, like all other things of this world, after having had a beginning had an end, and after this end our four companions began to be somewhat embarrassed. At first, Athos supported the association for a time with his own means.

Porthos succeeded him; and thanks to one of those disappearances to which he was accustomed, he was able to provide for the wants of all for a fortnight. At last it became Aramis’s turn, who performed it with a good grace and who succeeded—as he said, by selling some theological books—in procuring a few pistoles.

Then, as they had been accustomed to do, they had recourse to M. de Tréville, who made some advances on their pay; but these advances could not go far with three Musketeers who were already much in arrears and a Guardsman who as yet had no pay at all.

At length when they found they were likely to be really in want, they got together, as a last effort, eight or ten pistoles, with which Porthos went to the gaming table. Unfortunately he was in a bad vein; he lost all, together with twenty-five pistoles for which he had given his word.

Then the inconvenience became distress. The hungry friends, followed by their lackeys, were seen haunting the quays and Guard rooms, picking up among their friends abroad all the dinners they could meet with; for according to the advice of Aramis, it was prudent to sow repasts right and left in prosperity, in order to reap a few in time of need.

Athos was invited four times, and each time took his friends and their lackeys with him. Porthos had six occasions, and contrived in the same manner that his friends should partake of them; Aramis had eight of them. He was a man, as must have been already perceived, who made but little noise, and yet was much sought after.

As to d’Artagnan, who as yet knew nobody in the capital, he only found one chocolate breakfast at the house of a priest of his own province, and one dinner at the house of a cornet of the Guards. He took his army to the priest’s, where they devoured as much provision as would have lasted him for two months, and to the cornet’s, who performed wonders; but as Planchet said, “People do not eat at once for all time, even when they eat a good deal.”

D’Artagnan thus felt himself humiliated in having only procured one meal and a half for his companions—as the breakfast at the priest’s could only be counted as half a repast—in return for the feasts which Athos, Porthos, and Aramis had procured him. He fancied himself a burden to the society, forgetting in his perfectly juvenile good faith that he had fed this society for a month; and he set his mind actively to work. He reflected that this coalition of four young, brave, enterprising, and active men ought to have some other object than swaggering walks, fencing lessons, and practical jokes, more or less witty.

In fact, four men such as they were—four men devoted to one another, from their purses to their lives; four men always supporting one another, never yielding, executing singly or together the resolutions formed in common; four arms threatening the four cardinal points, or turning toward a single point—must inevitably, either subterraneously, in open day, by mining, in the trench, by cunning, or by force, open themselves a way toward the object they wished to attain, however well it might be defended, or however distant it may seem. The only thing that astonished d’Artagnan was that his friends had never thought of this.

He was thinking by himself, and even seriously racking his brain to find a direction for this single force four times multiplied, with which he did not doubt, as with the lever for which Archimedes sought, they should succeed in moving the world, when someone tapped gently at his door. D’Artagnan awakened Planchet and ordered him to open it.

From this phrase, “d’Artagnan awakened Planchet,” the reader must not suppose it was night, or that day was hardly come. No, it had just struck four. Planchet, two hours before, had asked his master for some dinner, and he had answered him with the proverb, “He who sleeps, dines.” And Planchet dined by sleeping.

A man was introduced of simple mien, who had the appearance of a tradesman. Planchet, by way of dessert, would have liked to hear the conversation; but the citizen declared to d’Artagnan that, what he had to say being important and confidential, he desired to be left alone with him.

D’Artagnan dismissed Planchet, and requested his visitor to be seated. There was a moment of silence, during which the two men looked at each other, as if to make a preliminary acquaintance, after which d’Artagnan bowed, as a sign that he listened.

“I have heard Monsieur d’Artagnan spoken of as a very brave young man,” said the citizen; “and this reputation which he justly enjoys had decided me to confide a secret to him.”

“Speak, monsieur, speak,” said d’Artagnan, who instinctively scented something advantageous.

The citizen made a fresh pause and continued, “I have a wife who is seamstress to the queen, monsieur, and who is not deficient in either virtue or beauty. I was induced to marry her about three years ago, although she had but very little dowry, because Monsieur Laporte, the queen’s cloak bearer, is her godfather, and befriends her.”

“Well, monsieur?” asked d’Artagnan.

“Well!” resumed the citizen, “well, monsieur, my wife was abducted yesterday morning, as she was coming out of her workroom.”

“And by whom was your wife abducted?”

“I know nothing surely, monsieur, but I suspect someone.”

“And who is the person whom you suspect?”

“A man who has pursued her a long time.”

“The devil!”

“But allow me to tell you, monsieur,” continued the citizen, “that I am convinced that there is less love than politics in all this.”

“Less love than politics,” replied d’Artagnan, with a reflective air; “and what do you suspect?”

“I do not know whether I ought to tell you what I suspect.”

“Monsieur, I beg you to observe that I ask you absolutely nothing. It is you who have come to me. It is you who have told me that you had a secret to confide in me. Act, then, as you think proper; there is still time to withdraw.”

“No, monsieur, no; you appear to be an honest young man, and I will have confidence in you. I believe, then, that it is not on account of any intrigues of her own that my wife has been arrested, but because of those of a lady much greater than herself.”

“Ah, ah! Can it be on account of the amours of Madame de Bois-Tracy?” said d’Artagnan, wishing to have the air, in the eyes of the citizen, of being posted as to court affairs.

“Higher, monsieur, higher.”

“Of Madame d’Aiguillon?”

“Still higher.”

“Of Madame de Chevreuse?”

“Higher, much higher.”

“Of the—” d’Artagnan checked himself.

“Yes, monsieur,” replied the terrified citizen, in a tone so low that he was scarcely audible.

“And with whom?”

“With whom can it be, if not the Duke of—”

“The Duke of—”

“Yes, monsieur,” replied the citizen, giving a still fainter intonation to his voice.

“But how do you know all this?”

“How do I know it?”

“Yes, how do you know it? No half-confidence, or—you understand!”

“I know it from my wife, monsieur—from my wife herself.”

“Who learns it from whom?”

“From Monsieur Laporte. Did I not tell you that she was the goddaughter of Monsieur Laporte, the confidential man of the queen? Well, Monsieur Laporte placed her near her Majesty in order that our poor queen might at least have someone in whom she could place confidence, abandoned as she is by the king, watched as she is by the cardinal, betrayed as she is by everybody.”

“Ah, ah! It begins to develop itself,” said d’Artagnan.

“Now, my wife came home four days ago, monsieur. One of her conditions was that she should come and see me twice a week; for, as I had the honor to tell you, my wife loves me dearly—my wife, then, came and confided to me that the queen at that very moment entertained great fears.”

“Truly!”

“Yes. The cardinal, as it appears, pursues her and persecutes her more than ever. He cannot pardon her the history of the Saraband. You know the history of the Saraband?”

“Pardieu! Know it!” replied d’Artagnan, who knew nothing about it, but who wished to appear to know everything that was going on.

“So that now it is no longer hatred, but vengeance.”

“Indeed!”

“And the queen believes—”

“Well, what does the queen believe?”

“She believes that someone has written to the Duke of Buckingham in her name.”

“In the queen’s name?”

“Yes, to make him come to Paris; and when once come to Paris, to draw him into some snare.”

“The devil! But your wife, monsieur, what has she to do with all this?”

“Her devotion to the queen is known; and they wish either to remove her from her mistress, or to intimidate her, in order to obtain her Majesty’s secrets, or to seduce her and make use of her as a spy.”

“That is likely,” said d’Artagnan; “but the man who has abducted her—do you know him?”

“I have told you that I believe I know him.”

“His name?”

“I do not know that; what I do know is that he is a creature of the cardinal, his evil genius.”

“But you have seen him?”

“Yes, my wife pointed him out to me one day.”

“Has he anything remarkable about him by which one may recognize him?”

“Oh, certainly; he is a noble of very lofty carriage, black hair, swarthy complexion, piercing eye, white teeth, and has a scar on his temple.”

“A scar on his temple!” cried d’Artagnan; “and with that, white teeth, a piercing eye, dark complexion, black hair, and haughty carriage—why, that’s my man of Meung.”

“He is your man, do you say?”

“Yes, yes; but that has nothing to do with it. No, I am wrong. On the contrary, that simplifies the matter greatly. If your man is mine, with one blow I shall obtain two revenges, that’s all; but where to find this man?”

“I know not.”

“Have you no information as to his abiding place?”

“None. One day, as I was conveying my wife back to the Louvre, he was coming out as she was going in, and she showed him to me.”

“The devil! The devil!” murmured d’Artagnan; “all this is vague enough. From whom have you learned of the abduction of your wife?”

“From Monsieur Laporte.”

“Did he give you any details?”

“He knew none himself.”

“And you have learned nothing from any other quarter?”

“Yes, I have received—”

“What?”

“I fear I am committing a great imprudence.”

“You always come back to that; but I must make you see this time that it is too late to retreat.”

“I do not retreat, mordieu!” cried the citizen, swearing in order to rouse his courage. “Besides, by the faith of Bonacieux—”

“You call yourself Bonacieux?” interrupted d’Artagnan.

“Yes, that is my name.”

“You said, then, by the word of Bonacieux. Pardon me for interrupting you, but it appears to me that that name is familiar to me.”

“Possibly, monsieur. I am your landlord.”

“Ah, ah!” said d’Artagnan, half rising and bowing; “you are my landlord?”

“Yes, monsieur, yes. And as it is three months since you have been here, and though, distracted as you must be in your important occupations, you have forgotten to pay me my rent—as, I say, I have not tormented you a single instant, I thought you would appreciate my delicacy.”

“How can it be otherwise, my dear Bonacieux?” replied d’Artagnan; “trust me, I am fully grateful for such unparalleled conduct, and if, as I told you, I can be of any service to you—”

“I believe you, monsieur, I believe you; and as I was about to say, by the word of Bonacieux, I have confidence in you.”

“Finish, then, what you were about to say.”

The citizen took a paper from his pocket, and presented it to d’Artagnan.

“A letter?” said the young man.

“Which I received this morning.”

D’Artagnan opened it, and as the day was beginning to decline, he approached the window to read it. The citizen followed him.

“‘Do not seek your wife,’” read d’Artagnan; “‘she will be restored to you when there is no longer occasion for her. If you make a single step to find her you are lost.’

“That’s pretty positive,” continued d’Artagnan; “but after all, it is but a menace.”

“Yes; but that menace terrifies me. I am not a fighting man at all, monsieur, and I am afraid of the Bastille.”

“Hum!” said d’Artagnan. “I have no greater regard for the Bastille than you. If it were nothing but a sword thrust, why then—”

“I have counted upon you on this occasion, monsieur.”

“Yes?”

“Seeing you constantly surrounded by Musketeers of a very superb appearance, and knowing that these Musketeers belong to Monsieur de Tréville, and were consequently enemies of the cardinal, I thought that you and your friends, while rendering justice to your poor queen, would be pleased to play his Eminence an ill turn.”

“Without doubt.”

“And then I have thought that considering three months’ lodging, about which I have said nothing—”

“Yes, yes; you have already given me that reason, and I find it excellent.”

“Reckoning still further, that as long as you do me the honor to remain in my house I shall never speak to you about rent—”

“Very kind!”

“And adding to this, if there be need of it, meaning to offer you fifty pistoles, if, against all probability, you should be short at the present moment.”

“Admirable! You are rich then, my dear Monsieur Bonacieux?”

“I am comfortably off, monsieur, that’s all; I have scraped together some such things as an income of two or three thousand crowns in the haberdashery business, but more particularly in venturing some funds in the last voyage of the celebrated navigator Jean Moquet; so that you understand, monsieur—But!—” cried the citizen.

“What!” demanded d’Artagnan.

“Whom do I see yonder?”

“Where?”

“In the street, facing your window, in the embrasure of that door—a man wrapped in a cloak.”

“It is he!” cried d’Artagnan and the citizen at the same time, each having recognized his man.

“Ah, this time,” cried d’Artagnan, springing to his sword, “this time he will not escape me!”

Drawing his sword from its scabbard, he rushed out of the apartment. On the staircase he met Athos and Porthos, who were coming to see him. They separated, and d’Artagnan rushed between them like a dart.

“Pah! Where are you going?” cried the two Musketeers in a breath.

“The man of Meung!” replied d’Artagnan, and disappeared.

D’Artagnan had more than once related to his friends his adventure with the stranger, as well as the apparition of the beautiful foreigner, to whom this man had confided some important missive.

The opinion of Athos was that d’Artagnan had lost his letter in the skirmish. A gentleman, in his opinion—and according to d’Artagnan’s portrait of him, the stranger must be a gentleman—would be incapable of the baseness of stealing a letter.

Porthos saw nothing in all this but a love meeting, given by a lady to a cavalier, or by a cavalier to a lady, which had been disturbed by the presence of d’Artagnan and his yellow horse.

Aramis said that as these sorts of affairs were mysterious, it was better not to fathom them.

They understood, then, from the few words which escaped from d’Artagnan, what affair was in hand, and as they thought that overtaking his man, or losing sight of him, d’Artagnan would return to his rooms, they kept on their way.

When they entered d’Artagnan’s chamber, it was empty; the landlord, dreading the consequences of the encounter which was doubtless about to take place between the young man and the stranger, had, consistent with the character he had given himself, judged it prudent to decamp.


9. 
D’ARTAGNAN SHOWS HIMSELF


As Athos and Porthos had foreseen, at the expiration of a half hour, d’Artagnan returned. He had again missed his man, who had disappeared as if by enchantment. D’Artagnan had run, sword in hand, through all the neighboring streets, but had found nobody resembling the man he sought for. Then he came back to the point where, perhaps, he ought to have begun, and that was to knock at the door against which the stranger had leaned; but this proved useless—for though he knocked ten or twelve times in succession, no one answered, and some of the neighbors, who put their noses out of their windows or were brought to their doors by the noise, had assured him that that house, all the openings of which were tightly closed, had not been inhabited for six months.

While d’Artagnan was running through the streets and knocking at doors, Aramis had joined his companions; so that on returning home d’Artagnan found the reunion complete.

“Well!” cried the three Musketeers all together, on seeing d’Artagnan enter with his brow covered with perspiration and his countenance upset with anger.

“Well!” cried he, throwing his sword upon the bed, “this man must be the devil in person; he has disappeared like a phantom, like a shade, like a specter.”

“Do you believe in apparitions?” asked Athos of Porthos.

“I never believe in anything I have not seen, and as I never have seen apparitions, I don’t believe in them.”

“The Bible,” said Aramis, “makes our belief in them a law; the ghost of Samuel appeared to Saul, and it is an article of faith that I should be very sorry to see any doubt thrown upon, Porthos.”

“At all events, man or devil, body or shadow, illusion or reality, this man is born for my damnation; for his flight has caused us to miss a glorious affair, gentlemen—an affair by which there were a hundred pistoles, and perhaps more, to be gained.”

“How is that?” cried Porthos and Aramis in a breath.

As to Athos, faithful to his system of reticence, he contented himself with interrogating d’Artagnan by a look.

“Planchet,” said d’Artagnan to his domestic, who just then insinuated his head through the half-open door in order to catch some fragments of the conversation, “go down to my landlord, Monsieur Bonacieux, and ask him to send me half a dozen bottles of Beaugency wine; I prefer that.”

“Ah, ah! You have credit with your landlord, then?” asked Porthos.

“Yes,” replied d’Artagnan, “from this very day; and mind, if the wine is bad, we will send him to find better.”

“We must use, and not abuse,” said Aramis, sententiously.

“I always said that d’Artagnan had the longest head of the four,” said Athos, who, having uttered his opinion, to which d’Artagnan replied with a bow, immediately resumed his accustomed silence.

“But come, what is this about?” asked Porthos.

“Yes,” said Aramis, “impart it to us, my dear friend, unless the honor of any lady be hazarded by this confidence; in that case you would do better to keep it to yourself.”

“Be satisfied,” replied d’Artagnan; “the honor of no one will have cause to complain of what I have to tell.”

He then related to his friends, word for word, all that had passed between him and his host, and how the man who had abducted the wife of his worthy landlord was the same with whom he had had the difference at the hostelry of the Jolly Miller.

“Your affair is not bad,” said Athos, after having tasted like a connoisseur and indicated by a nod of his head that he thought the wine good; “and one may draw fifty or sixty pistoles from this good man. Then there only remains to ascertain whether these fifty or sixty pistoles are worth the risk of four heads.”

“But observe,” cried d’Artagnan, “that there is a woman in the affair—a woman carried off, a woman who is doubtless threatened, tortured perhaps, and all because she is faithful to her mistress.”

“Beware, d’Artagnan, beware,” said Aramis. “You grow a little too warm, in my opinion, about the fate of Madame Bonacieux. Woman was created for our destruction, and it is from her we inherit all our miseries.”

At this speech of Aramis, the brow of Athos became clouded and he bit his lips.

“It is not Madame Bonacieux about whom I am anxious,” cried d’Artagnan, “but the queen, whom the king abandons, whom the cardinal persecutes, and who sees the heads of all her friends fall, one after the other.”

“Why does she love what we hate most in the world, the Spaniards and the English?”

“Spain is her country,” replied d’Artagnan; “and it is very natural that she should love the Spanish, who are the children of the same soil as herself. As to the second reproach, I have heard it said that she does not love the English, but an Englishman.”

“Well, and by my faith,” said Athos, “it must be acknowledged that this Englishman is worthy of being loved. I never saw a man with a nobler air than his.”

“Without reckoning that he dresses as nobody else can,” said Porthos. “I was at the Louvre on the day when he scattered his pearls; and, pardieu, I picked up two that I sold for ten pistoles each. Do you know him, Aramis?”

“As well as you do, gentlemen; for I was among those who seized him in the garden at Amiens, into which Monsieur Putange, the queen’s equerry, introduced me. I was at school at the time, and the adventure appeared to me to be cruel for the king.”

“Which would not prevent me,” said d’Artagnan, “if I knew where the Duke of Buckingham was, from taking him by the hand and conducting him to the queen, were it only to enrage the cardinal, and if we could find means to play him a sharp turn, I vow that I would voluntarily risk my head in doing it.”

“And did the mercer*,” rejoined Athos, “tell you, d’Artagnan, that the queen thought that Buckingham had been brought over by a forged letter?”

* Haberdasher

“She is afraid so.”

“Wait a minute, then,” said Aramis.

“What for?” demanded Porthos.

“Go on, while I endeavor to recall circumstances.”

“And now I am convinced,” said d’Artagnan, “that this abduction of the queen’s woman is connected with the events of which we are speaking, and perhaps with the presence of Buckingham in Paris.”

“The Gascon is full of ideas,” said Porthos, with admiration.

“I like to hear him talk,” said Athos; “his dialect amuses me.”

“Gentlemen,” cried Aramis, “listen to this.”

“Listen to Aramis,” said his three friends.

“Yesterday I was at the house of a doctor of theology, whom I sometimes consult about my studies.”

Athos smiled.

“He resides in a quiet quarter,” continued Aramis; “his tastes and his profession require it. Now, at the moment when I left his house—”

Here Aramis paused.

“Well,” cried his auditors; “at the moment you left his house?”

Aramis appeared to make a strong inward effort, like a man who, in the full relation of a falsehood, finds himself stopped by some unforeseen obstacle; but the eyes of his three companions were fixed upon him, their ears were wide open, and there were no means of retreat.

“This doctor has a niece,” continued Aramis.

“Ah, he has a niece!” interrupted Porthos.

“A very respectable lady,” said Aramis.

The three friends burst into laughter.

“Ah, if you laugh, if you doubt me,” replied Aramis, “you shall know nothing.”

“We believe like Mohammedans, and are as mute as tombstones,” said Athos.

“I will continue, then,” resumed Aramis. “This niece comes sometimes to see her uncle; and by chance was there yesterday at the same time that I was, and it was my duty to offer to conduct her to her carriage.”

“Ah! She has a carriage, then, this niece of the doctor?” interrupted Porthos, one of whose faults was a great looseness of tongue. “A nice acquaintance, my friend!”

“Porthos,” replied Aramis, “I have had the occasion to observe to you more than once that you are very indiscreet; and that is injurious to you among the women.”

“Gentlemen, gentlemen,” cried d’Artagnan, who began to get a glimpse of the result of the adventure, “the thing is serious. Let us try not to jest, if we can. Go on Aramis, go on.”

“All at once, a tall, dark gentleman—just like yours, d’Artagnan.”

“The same, perhaps,” said he.

“Possibly,” continued Aramis, “came toward me, accompanied by five or six men who followed about ten paces behind him; and in the politest tone, ‘Monsieur Duke,’ said he to me, ‘and you madame,’ continued he, addressing the lady on my arm—”

“The doctor’s niece?”

“Hold your tongue, Porthos,” said Athos; “you are insupportable.”

“‘—will you enter this carriage, and that without offering the least resistance, without making the least noise?’”

“He took you for Buckingham!” cried d’Artagnan.

“I believe so,” replied Aramis.

“But the lady?” asked Porthos.

“He took her for the queen!” said d’Artagnan.

“Just so,” replied Aramis.

“The Gascon is the devil!” cried Athos; “nothing escapes him.”

“The fact is,” said Porthos, “Aramis is of the same height, and something of the shape of the duke; but it nevertheless appears to me that the dress of a Musketeer—”

“I wore an enormous cloak,” said Aramis.

“In the month of July? The devil!” said Porthos. “Is the doctor afraid that you may be recognized?”

“I can comprehend that the spy may have been deceived by the person; but the face—”

“I had a large hat,” said Aramis.

“Oh, good lord,” cried Porthos, “what precautions for the study of theology!”

“Gentlemen, gentlemen,” said d’Artagnan, “do not let us lose our time in jesting. Let us separate, and let us seek the mercer’s wife—that is the key of the intrigue.”

“A woman of such inferior condition! Can you believe so?” said Porthos, protruding his lips with contempt.

“She is goddaughter to Laporte, the confidential valet of the queen. Have I not told you so, gentlemen? Besides, it has perhaps been her Majesty’s calculation to seek on this occasion for support so lowly. High heads expose themselves from afar, and the cardinal is longsighted.”

“Well,” said Porthos, “in the first place make a bargain with the mercer, and a good bargain.”

“That’s useless,” said d’Artagnan; “for I believe if he does not pay us, we shall be well enough paid by another party.”

At this moment a sudden noise of footsteps was heard upon the stairs; the door was thrown violently open, and the unfortunate mercer rushed into the chamber in which the council was held.

“Save me, gentlemen, for the love of heaven, save me!” cried he. “There are four men come to arrest me. Save me! Save me!”

Porthos and Aramis arose.

“A moment,” cried d’Artagnan, making them a sign to replace in the scabbard their half-drawn swords. “It is not courage that is needed; it is prudence.”

“And yet,” cried Porthos, “we will not leave—”

“You will leave d’Artagnan to act as he thinks proper,” said Athos. “He has, I repeat, the longest head of the four, and for my part I declare that I will obey him. Do as you think best, d’Artagnan.”

At this moment the four Guards appeared at the door of the antechamber, but seeing four Musketeers standing, and their swords by their sides, they hesitated about going farther.

“Come in, gentlemen, come in,” called d’Artagnan; “you are here in my apartment, and we are all faithful servants of the king and cardinal.”

“Then, gentlemen, you will not oppose our executing the orders we have received?” asked one who appeared to be the leader of the party.

“On the contrary, gentlemen, we would assist you if it were necessary.”

“What does he say?” grumbled Porthos.

“You are a simpleton,” said Athos. “Silence!”

“But you promised me—” whispered the poor mercer.

“We can only save you by being free ourselves,” replied d’Artagnan, in a rapid, low tone; “and if we appear inclined to defend you, they will arrest us with you.”

“It seems, nevertheless—”

“Come, gentlemen, come!” said d’Artagnan, aloud; “I have no motive for defending Monsieur. I saw him today for the first time, and he can tell you on what occasion; he came to demand the rent of my lodging. Is that not true, Monsieur Bonacieux? Answer!”

“That is the very truth,” cried the mercer; “but Monsieur does not tell you—”

“Silence, with respect to me, silence, with respect to my friends; silence about the queen, above all, or you will ruin everybody without saving yourself! Come, come, gentlemen, remove the fellow.” And d’Artagnan pushed the half-stupefied mercer among the Guards, saying to him, “You are a shabby old fellow, my dear. You come to demand money of me—of a Musketeer! To prison with him! Gentlemen, once more, take him to prison, and keep him under key as long as possible; that will give me time to pay him.”

The officers were full of thanks, and took away their prey. As they were going down d’Artagnan laid his hand on the shoulder of their leader.

“May I not drink to your health, and you to mine?” said d’Artagnan, filling two glasses with the Beaugency wine which he had obtained from the liberality of M. Bonacieux.

“That will do me great honor,” said the leader of the posse, “and I accept thankfully.”

“Then to yours, monsieur—what is your name?”

“Boisrenard.”

“Monsieur Boisrenard.”

“To yours, my gentlemen! What is your name, in your turn, if you please?”

“D’Artagnan.”

“To yours, monsieur.”

“And above all others,” cried d’Artagnan, as if carried away by his enthusiasm, “to that of the king and the cardinal.”

The leader of the posse would perhaps have doubted the sincerity of d’Artagnan if the wine had been bad; but the wine was good, and he was convinced.

“What diabolical villainy you have performed here,” said Porthos, when the officer had rejoined his companions and the four friends found themselves alone. “Shame, shame, for four Musketeers to allow an unfortunate fellow who cried for help to be arrested in their midst! And a gentleman to hobnob with a bailiff!”

“Porthos,” said Aramis, “Athos has already told you that you are a simpleton, and I am quite of his opinion. D’Artagnan, you are a great man; and when you occupy Monsieur de Tréville’s place, I will come and ask your influence to secure me an abbey.”

“Well, I am in a maze,” said Porthos; “do you approve of what d’Artagnan has done?”

“Parbleu! Indeed I do,” said Athos; “I not only approve of what he has done, but I congratulate him upon it.”

“And now, gentlemen,” said d’Artagnan, without stopping to explain his conduct to Porthos, “All for one, one for all—that is our motto, is it not?”

“And yet—” said Porthos.

“Hold out your hand and swear!” cried Athos and Aramis at once.

Overcome by example, grumbling to himself, nevertheless, Porthos stretched out his hand, and the four friends repeated with one voice the formula dictated by d’Artagnan:

“All for one, one for all.”

“That’s well! Now let us everyone retire to his own home,” said d’Artagnan, as if he had done nothing but command all his life; “and attention! For from this moment we are at feud with the cardinal.”