The Vicomte de Bragelonne



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Chapter LXIV. Difference D'Artagnan finds between the Intendant and the Superintendent.

MColbert resided in the Rue Neuve des Petits-Champs, in a house which had belonged to Beautru. D'Artagnan's legs cleared the distance in a short quarter of an hour. When he arrived at the residence of the new favorite, the court was full of archers and police, who came to congratulate him, or to excuse themselves, according to whether he should choose to praise or blame. The sentiment of flattery is instinctive with people of abject condition; they have the sense of it, as the wild animal has that of hearing and smell. These people, or their leader, understood that there was a pleasure to offer to M. Colbert, in rendering him an account of the fashion in which his name had been pronounced during the rash enterprise of the morning. D'Artagnan made his appearance just as the chief of the watch was giving his report. He stood close to the door, behind the archers. That officer took Colbert on one side, in spite of his resistance and the contradiction of his bushy eyebrows. "In case," said he, "you really desired, monsieur, that the people should do justice on the two traitors, it would have been wise to warn us of it; for, indeed, monsieur, in spite of our regret at displeasing you, or thwarting your views, we had our orders to execute."

"Triple fool!" replied Colbert, furiously shaking his hair, thick and black as a mane; "what are you telling me? What! that I could have had an idea of a riot! Are you mad or drunk?"

"But, monsieur, they cried 'Vive Colbert!'" replied the trembling watch.

"A handful of conspirators--"

"No, no; a mass of people."

"Ah! indeed," said Colbert, expanding. "A mass of people cried 'Vive Colbert!' Are you certain of what you say, monsieur?"

"We had nothing to do but open our ears, or rather to close them, so terrible were the cries."

"And this was from the people, the real people?"

"Certainly, monsieur; only these real people beat us."

"Oh! very well," continued Colbert, thoughtfully. "Then you suppose it was the people alone who wished to burn the condemned?"

"Oh! yes, monsieur."

"That is quite another thing. You strongly resisted, then?"

"We had three of our men crushed to death, monsieur!"

"But you killed nobody yourselves?"

"Monsieur, a few of the rioters were left upon the square, and one among them who was not a common man."

"Who was he?"

"A certain Menneville, upon whom the police have a long time had an eye."

"Menneville!" cried Colbert, "what, he who killed Rue de la Huchette, a worthy man who wanted a fat fowl?"

"Yes, monsieur; the same."

"And did this Menneville also cry, 'Vive Colbert'?"

"Louder than all the rest; like a madman."

Colbert's brow grew dark and wrinkled. A kind of ambitious glory which had lighted his face was extinguished, like the light of glow-worms we crush beneath the grass. "Then you say," resumed the deceived intendant, "that the initiative came from the people? Menneville was my enemy; I would have had him hung, and he knew it well. Menneville belonged to the Abbe Fouquet--the affair originated with Fouquet; does not everybody know that the condemned were his friends from childhood?"

"That is true," thought D'Artagnan, "and thus are all my doubts cleared up. I repeat it, Monsieur Fouquet may be called what they please, but he is a very gentlemanly man."

"And," continued Colbert, "are you quite sure Menneville is dead?"

D'Artagnan thought the time was come for him to make his appearance. "Perfectly, monsieur;" replied he, advancing suddenly.

"Oh! is that you, monsieur?" said Colbert.

"In person," replied the musketeer with his deliberate tone; "it appears that you had in Menneville a pretty enemy."

"It was not I, monsieur, who had an enemy," replied Colbert; "it was the king."

"Double brute!" thought D'Artagnan, "to think to play the great man and the hypocrite with me. Well," continued he to Colbert, "I am very happy to have rendered so good a service to the king; will you take upon you to tell his majesty, monsieur l'intendant?"

"What commission is this you give me, and what do you charge me to tell his majesty, monsieur? Be precise, if you please," said Colbert, in a sharp voice, tuned beforehand to hostility.

"I give you no commission," replied D'Artagnan, with that calmness which never abandons the banterer; "I thought it would be easy for you to announce to his majesty that it was I who, being there by chance, did justice upon Menneville and restored order to things."

Colbert opened his eyes and interrogated the chief of the watch with a look--"Ah! it is very true," said the latter, "that this gentleman saved us."

"Why did you not tell me, monsieur, that you came to relate me this?" said Colbert with envy; "everything is explained, and more favorably for you than for anybody else."

"You are in error, monsieur l'intendant, I did not at all come for the purpose of relating that to you."

"It is an exploit, nevertheless."

"Oh!" said the musketeer carelessly, "constant habit blunts the mind."

"To what do I owe the honor of your visit, then?"

"Simply to this: the king ordered me to come to you."

"Ah!" said Colbert, recovering himself when he saw D'Artagnan draw a paper from his pocket; "it is to demand some money of me?"

"Precisely, monsieur."

"Have the goodness to wait, if you please, monsieur, till I have dispatched the report of the watch."

D'Artagnan turned upon his heel, insolently enough, and finding himself face to face with Colbert, after his first turn, he bowed to him as a harlequin would have done; then, after a second evolution, he directed his steps towards the door in quick time. Colbert was struck with this pointed rudeness, to which he was not accustomed. In general, men of the sword, when they came to his office, had such a want of money, that though their feet seemed to take root in the marble, they hardly lost their patience. Was D'Artagnan going straight to the king? Would he go and describe his rough reception, or recount his exploit? This was a matter for grave consideration. At all events, the moment was badly chosen to send D'Artagnan away, whether he came from the king, or on his own account. The musketeer had rendered too great a service, and that too recently, for it to be already forgotten. Therefore Colbert thought it would be better to shake off his arrogance and call D'Artagnan back. "Ho! Monsieur d'Artagnan," cried Colbert, "what! are you leaving me thus?"

D'Artagnan turned round: "Why not?" said he, quietly, "we have no more to say to each other, have we?"

"You have, at least, money to receive, as you have an order?"

"Who, I? Oh! not at all, my dear Monsieur Colbert."

"But, monsieur, you have an order. And, in the same manner as you give a sword-thrust, when you are required, I, on my part, pay when an order is presented to me. Present yours."

"It is useless, my dear Monsieur Colbert," said D'Artagnan, who inwardly enjoyed this confusion in the ideas of Colbert; "my order is paid."

"Paid, by whom?"

"By monsieur le surintendant."

Colbert grew pale.

"Explain yourself," said he, in a stifled voice--"if you are paid why do you show me that paper?"

"In consequence of the word of order of which you spoke to me so ingeniously just now, dear M. Colbert; the king told me to take a quarter of the pension he is pleased to make me."

"Of me?" said Colbert.

"Not exactly. The king said to me: 'Go to M. Fouquet; the superintendent will, perhaps, have no money, then you will go and draw it of M. Colbert.'"

The countenance of M. Colbert brightened for a moment; but it was with his unfortunate physiognomy as with a stormy sky, sometimes radiant, sometimes dark as night, according as the lightening gleams or the cloud passes. "Eh! and was there any money in the superintendent's coffers?" asked he.

"Why, yes, he could not be badly off for money," replied D'Artagnan--"it may be believed, since M. Fouquet, instead of paying me a quarter or five thousand livres--"

"A quarter or five thousand livres!" cried Colbert, struck, as Fouquet had been, with the generosity of the sum for a soldier's pension, "why, that would be a pension of twenty thousand livres?"

"Exactly, M. Colbert. Peste! you reckon like old Pythagoras; yes, twenty thousand livres."

"Ten times the appointment of an intendant of the finances. I beg to offer you my compliments," said Colbert, with a vicious smile.

"Oh!" said D'Artagnan, "the king apologized for giving me so little; but he promised to make it more hereafter, when he should be rich; but I must be gone, having much to do--"

"So, then, notwithstanding the expectation of the king, the superintendent paid you, did he?"

"In the same manner, as, in opposition to the king's expectation, you refused to pay me."

"I did not refuse, monsieur, I only begged you to wait. And you say that M. Fouquet paid you your five thousand livres?"

"Yes, as you might have done; but he did even better than that, M. Colbert."

"And what did he do?"

"He politely counted me down the sum-total, saying, that for the king, his coffers were always full."

"The sum-total! M. Fouquet has given you twenty thousand livres instead of five thousand?"

"Yes, monsieur."

"And what for?"

"In order to spare me three visits to the money-chest of the superintendent, so that I have the twenty thousand livres in my pocket in good new coin. You see, then, that I am able to go away without standing in need of you, having come here only for form's sake." And D'Artagnan slapped his hand upon his pocket, with a laugh which disclosed to Colbert thirty-two magnificent teeth, as white as teeth of twenty-five years old, and which seemed to say in their language: "Serve up to us thirty-two little Colberts, and we will chew them willingly." The serpent is as brave as the lion, the hawk as courageous as the eagle, that cannot be contested. It can only be said of animals that are decidedly cowardly, and are so called, that they will be brave only when they have to defend themselves. Colbert was not frightened at the thirty-two teeth of D'Artagnan. He recovered, and suddenly,--"Monsieur," said he, "monsieur le surintendant has done what he had no right to do."

"What do you mean by that?" replied D'Artagnan.

"I mean that your note--will you let me see your note, if you please?"

"Very willingly; here it is."

Colbert seized the paper with an eagerness which the musketeer did not remark without uneasiness, and particularly without a certain degree of regret at having trusted him with it. "Well, monsieur, the royal order says thus:--'At sight, I command that there be paid to M. d'Artagnan the sum of five thousand livres, forming a quarter of the pension I have made him.'"

"So, in fact, it is written," said D'Artagnan, affecting calmness.

"Very well; the king only owed you five thousand livres; why has more been given to you?"

"Because there was more; and M. Fouquet was willing to give me more; that does not concern anybody."

"It is natural," said Colbert with a proud ease, "that you should be ignorant of the usages of state-finance; but, monsieur, when you have a thousand livres to pay, what do you do?"

"I never have a thousand livres to pay," replied D'Artagnan.

"Once more," said Colbert, irritated--"once more, if you had any sum to pay, would you not pay what you ought?"

"That only proves one thing," said D'Artagnan; "and that is, that you have your own particular customs in finance, and M. Fouquet has his own."

"Mine, monsieur, are the correct ones."

"I do not say that they are not."

"And you have accepted what was not due to you."

D'Artagnan's eyes flashed. "What is not due to me yet, you meant to say, M. Colbert; for if I have received what was not due to me at all, I should have committed a theft."

Colbert made no reply to this subtlety. "You then owe fifteen thousand livres to the public chest," said he, carried away by his jealous ardor.

"Then you must give me credit for them," replied D'Artagnan, with his imperceptible irony.

"Not at all, monsieur."

"Well! what will you do, then? You will not take my rouleaux from me, will you?"

"You must return them to my chest."

"I! Oh! Monsieur Colbert, don't reckon upon that."

"The king wants his money, monsieur."

"And I, monsieur, I want the king's money."

"That may be so; but you must return this."

"Not a sou. I have always understood that in matters of comptabilite, as you call it, a good cashier never gives back or takes back."

"Then, monsieur, we shall see what the king will say about it. I will show him this note, which proves that M. Fouquet not only pays what he does not owe, but that he does not even take care of vouchers for the sums that he has paid."

"Ah! now I understand why you have taken that paper, M. Colbert!"

Colbert did not perceive all that there was of a threatening character in his name pronounced in a certain manner. "You shall see hereafter what use I will make of it," said he, holding up the paper in his fingers.

"Oh!" said D'Artagnan, snatching the paper from him with a rapid movement; "I understand perfectly well, M. Colbert; I have no occasion to wait for that." And he crumpled up the paper he had so cleverly seized.

"Monsieur, monsieur!" cried Colbert, "this is violence!"

"Nonsense! You must not be particular about a soldier's manners!" replied D'Artagnan. "I kiss your hands, my dear M. Colbert." And he went out, laughing in the face of the future minister.

"That man, now," muttered he, "was about to grow quite friendly; it is a great pity I was obliged to cut his company so soon."

Chapter LXV. Philosophy of the Heart and Mind.

For a man who had seen so many much more dangerous ones, the position of D'Artagnan with respect to M. Colbert was only comic. D'Artagnan, therefore, did not deny himself the satisfaction of laughing at the expense of monsieur l'intendant, from the Rue des Petits-Champs to the Rue des Lombards. It was a great while since D'Artagnan had laughed so long together. He was still laughing when Planchet appeared, laughing likewise, at the door of his house; for Planchet, since the return of his patron, since the entrance of the English guineas, passed the greater part of his life in doing what D'Artagnan had only done from the Rue Neuve des Petits-Champs to the Rue des Lombards.

"You are home, then, my dear master?" said Planchet.

"No, my friend," replied the musketeer; "I am off, and that quickly. I will sup with you, go to bed, sleep five hours, and at break of day leap into my saddle. Has my horse had an extra feed?"

"Eh! my dear master," replied Planchet, "you know very well that your horse is the jewel of the family; that my lads are caressing it all day, and cramming it with sugar, nuts, and biscuits. You ask me if he has had an extra feed of oats; you should ask if he has not had enough to burst him."

"Very well, Planchet, that is all right. Now, then, I pass to what concerns me--my supper?"

"Ready. A smoking roast joint, white wine, crayfish, and fresh-gathered cherries. All ready, my master."

"You are a capital fellow, Planchet; come on, then, let us sup, and I will go to bed."

During supper D'Artagnan observed that Planchet kept rubbing his forehead, as if to facilitate the issue of some idea closely pent within his brain. He looked with an air of kindness at this worthy companion of former adventures and misadventures, and, clinking glass against glass, "Come, Planchet," said he, "let us see what it is that gives you so much trouble to bring forth. Mordioux! Speak freely, and quickly."

"Well, this is it," replied Planchet: "you appear to me to be going on some expedition or another."

"I don't say that I am not."

"Then you have some new idea?"

"That is possible, too, Planchet."

"Then there will be fresh capital to be ventured? I will lay down fifty thousand livres upon the idea you are about to carry out." And so saying, Planchet rubbed his hands one against the other with a rapidity evincing great delight.

"Planchet," said D'Artagnan, "there is but one misfortune in it."

"And what is that?"

"That the idea is not mine. I can risk nothing upon it."

These words drew a deep sigh from the heart of Planchet. That Avarice is an ardent counselor; she carries away her man, as Satan did Jesus, to the mountain, and when once she has shown to an unfortunate all the kingdoms of the earth, she is able to repose herself, knowing full well that she has left her companion, Envy, to gnaw at his heart. Planchet had tasted of riches easily acquired, and was never afterwards likely to stop in his desires; but, as he had a good heart in spite of his covetousness, as he adored D'Artagnan, he could not refrain from making him a thousand recommendations, each more affectionate than the others. He would not have been sorry, nevertheless, to have caught a little hint of the secret his master concealed so well; tricks, turns, counsels, and traps were all useless, D'Artagnan let nothing confidential escape him. The evening passed thus. After supper the portmanteau occupied D'Artagnan, he took a turn to the stable, patted his horse, and examined his shoes and legs; then, having counted over his money, he went to bed, sleeping as if only twenty, because he had neither inquietude nor remorse; he closed his eyes five minutes after he had blown out his lamp. Many events might, however, have kept him awake. Thought boiled in his brain, conjectures abounded, and D'Artagnan was a great drawer of horoscopes; but, with that imperturbable phlegm which does more than genius for the fortune and happiness of men of action, he put off reflection till the next day, for fear, he said, not to be fresh when he wanted to be so.

The day came. The Rue des Lombards had its share of the caresses of Aurora with the rosy fingers, and D'Artagnan arose like Aurora. He did not awaken anybody, he placed his portmanteau under his arm, descended the stairs without making one of them creak, and without disturbing one of the sonorous snorings in every story from the garret to the cellar, then, having saddled his horse, shut the stable and house doors, he set off, at a foot-pace, on his expedition to Bretagne. He had done quite right not to trouble himself with all the political and diplomatic affairs which solicited his attention; for, in the morning, in freshness and mild twilight, his ideas developed themselves in purity and abundance. In the first place, he passed before the house of Fouquet, and threw in a large gaping box the fortunate order which, the evening before, he had had so much trouble to recover from the hooked fingers of the intendant. Placed in an envelope, and addressed to Fouquet, it had not even been divined by Planchet, who in divination was equal to Calchas or the Pythian Apollo. D'Artagnan thus sent back the order to Fouquet, without compromising himself, and without having thenceforward any reproaches to make himself. When he had effected this proper restitution, "Now," he said to himself, "let us inhale much maternal air, much freedom from cares, much health, let us allow the horse Zephyr, whose flanks puff as if he had to respire an atmosphere, to breathe, and let us be very ingenious in our little calculations. It is time," said D'Artagnan, "to form a plan of the campaign, and, according to the method of M. Turenne, who has a large head full of all sorts of good counsels, before the plan of the campaign it is advisable to draw a striking portrait of the generals to whom we are opposed. In the first place, M. Fouquet presents himself. What is M. Fouquet? M. Fouquet," replied D'Artagnan to himself, "is a handsome man, very much beloved by the women, a generous man very much beloved by the poets; a man of wit, much execrated by pretenders. Well, now I am neither woman, poet, nor pretender: I neither love not hate monsieur le surintendant. I find myself, therefore, in the same position in which M. Turenne found himself when opposed to the Prince de Conde at Jargeau, Gien and the Faubourg Saint-Antoine. He did not execrate monsieur le prince, it is true, but he obeyed the king. Monsieur le prince is an agreeable man, but the king is king. Turenne heaved a deep sigh, called Conde 'My cousin,' and swept away his army. Now what does the king wish? That does not concern me. Now, what does M. Colbert wish? Oh, that's another thing. M. Colbert wishes all that M. Fouquet does not wish. Then what does M. Fouquet wish? Oh, that is serious. M. Fouquet wishes precisely for all the king wishes."

This monologue ended, D'Artagnan began to laugh, whilst making his whip whistle in the air. He was already on the high road, frightening the birds in the hedges, listening to the livres chinking and dancing in his leather pocket, at every step; and, let us confess it, every time that D'Artagnan found himself in such conditions, tenderness was not his dominant vice. "Come," said he, "I cannot think the expedition a very dangerous one; and it will fall out with my voyage as with that piece M. Monk took me to see in London, which was called, I think, 'Much Ado about Nothing.'"

Chapter LXVI. The Journey.

It was perhaps the fiftieth time since the day on which we open this history, that this man, with a heart of bronze and muscles of steel, had left house and friends, everything, in short, to go in search of fortune and death. The one--that is to say, death--had constantly retreated before him, as if afraid of him; the other--that is to say, fortune--for only a month past had really made an alliance with him. Although he was not a great philosopher, after the fashion of either Epicurus or Socrates, he was a powerful spirit, having knowledge of life, and endowed with thought. No one is as brave, as adventurous, or as skillful as D'Artagnan, without at the same time being inclined to be a dreamer. He had picked up, here and there, some scraps of M. de la Rochefoucault, worthy of being translated into Latin by MM. de Port Royal; and he had made a collection, en passant, in the society of Athos and Aramis, of many morsels of Seneca and Cicero, translated by them, and applied to the uses of common life. That contempt of riches which our Gascon had observed as an article of faith during the thirty-five first years of his life, had for a long time been considered by him as the first article of the code of bravery. "Article first," said he, "A man is brave because he has nothing. A man has nothing because he despises riches." Therefore, with these principles, which, as we have said, had regulated the thirty-five first years of his life, D'Artagnan was no sooner possessed of riches, than he felt it necessary to ask himself if, in spite of his riches, he were still brave. To this, for any other but D'Artagnan, the events of the Place de Greve might have served as a reply. Many consciences would have been satisfied with them, but D'Artagnan was brave enough to ask himself sincerely and conscientiously if he were brave. Therefore to this:--

"But it appears to me that I drew promptly enough, and cut and thrust pretty freely on the Place de Greve, to be satisfied of my bravery," D'Artagnan had himself replied. "Gently, captain, that is not an answer. I was brave that day, because they were burning my house, and there are a hundred, and even a thousand, to speak against one, that if those gentlemen of the riots had not formed that unlucky idea, their plan of attack would have succeeded, or, at least, it would not have been I who would have opposed myself to it. Now, what will be brought against me? I have no house to be burnt in Bretagne; I have no treasure there that can be taken from me.--No; but I have my skin; that precious skin of M. d'Artagnan, which to him is worth more than all the houses and all the treasures of the world. That skin to which I cling above everything, because it is, everything considered, the binding of a body which encloses a heart very warm and ready to fight, and, consequently, to live. Then, I do desire to live: and, in reality, I live much better, more completely, since I have become rich. Who the devil ever said that money spoiled life? Upon my soul, it is no such thing, on the contrary, it seems as if I absorbed a double quantity of air and sun. Mordioux! what will it be then, if I double that fortune; and if, instead of the switch I now hold in my hand, I should ever carry the baton of a marechal? Then I really don't know if there will be, from that moment, enough of air and sun for me. In fact, this is not a dream, who the devil would oppose it, if the king made me a marechal, as his father, King Louis XIII., made a duke and constable of Albert de Luynes? Am I not as brave, and much more intelligent, than that imbecile De Vitry? Ah! that's exactly what will prevent my advancement: I have too much wit. Luckily, if there is any justice in this world, fortune owes me many compensations. She owes me certainly a recompense for all I did for Anne of Austria, and an indemnification for all she has not done for me. Then, at the present, I am very well with a king, and with a king who has the appearance of determining to reign. May God keep him in that illustrious road! For, if he is resolved to reign, he will want me; and if he wants me, he will give me what he has promised me--warmth and light; so that I march, comparatively, now, as I marched formerly,--from nothing to everything. Only the nothing of to-day is the all of former days; there has only this little change taken place in my life. And now let us see! let us take the part of the heart, as I just now was speaking of it. But in truth, I only spoke of it from memory." And the Gascon applied his hand to his breast, as if he were actually seeking the place where his heart was.

"Ah! wretch!" murmured he, smiling with bitterness. "Ah! poor mortal species! You hoped, for an instant, that you had not a heart, and now you find you have one--bad courtier as thou art,--and even one of the most seditious. You have a heart which speaks to you in favor of M. Fouquet. And what is M. Fouquet, when the king is in question?--A conspirator, a real conspirator, who did not even give himself the trouble to conceal his being a conspirator; therefore, what a weapon would you not have against him, if his good grace, and his intelligence had not made a scabbard for that weapon. An armed revolt!--for, in fact, M. Fouquet has been guilty of an armed revolt. Thus, while the king vaguely suspects M. Fouquet of rebellion, I know it--I could prove that M. Fouquet had caused the shedding of the blood of his majesty's subjects. Now, then, let us see. Knowing all that, and holding my tongue, what further would this heart wish in return for a kind action of M. Fouquet's, for an advance of fifteen thousand livres, for a diamond worth a thousand pistoles, for a smile in which there was as much bitterness as kindness?--I save his life."

"Now, then, I hope," continued the musketeer, "that this imbecile of a heart is going to preserve silence, and so be fairly quits with M. Fouquet. Now, then, the king becomes my sun, and as my heart is quits with M. Fouquet, let him beware who places himself between me and my sun! Forward, for his majesty Louis XIV.!--Forward!"

These reflections were the only impediments which were able to retard the progress of D'Artagnan. These reflections once made, he increased the speed of his horse. But, however perfect his horse Zephyr might be, it could not hold out at such a pace forever. The day after his departure from Paris, his mount was left at Chartres, at the house of an old friend D'Artagnan had met with in an hotelier of that city. From that moment the musketeer travelled on post-horses. Thanks to this mode of locomotion, he traversed the space separating Chartres from Chateaubriand. In the last of these two cities, far enough from the coast to prevent any one guessing that D'Artagnan wished to reach the sea--far enough from Paris to prevent all suspicion of his being a messenger from Louis XIV., whom D'Artagnan had called his sun, without suspecting that he who was only at present a rather poor star in the heaven of royalty, would, one day, make that star his emblem; the messenger of Louis XIV., we say, quitted his post and purchased a bidet of the meanest appearance,--one of those animals which an officer of the cavalry would never choose, for fear of being disgraced. Excepting the color, this new acquisition recalled to the mind of D'Artagnan the famous orange-colored horse, with which, or rather upon which, he had made his first appearance in the world. Truth to say, from the moment he crossed this new steed, it was no longer D'Artagnan who was travelling,--it was a good man clothed in an iron-gray justaucorps, brown haut-de-chausses, holding the medium between a priest and a layman; that which brought him nearest to the churchman was, that D'Artagnan had placed on his head a calotte of threadbare velvet, and over the calotte, a large black hat; no more sword, a stick hung by a cord to his wrist, but to which, he promised himself, as an unexpected auxiliary, to join, upon occasion, a good dagger, ten inches long, concealed under his cloak. The bidet purchased at Chateaubriand completed the metamorphosis; it was called, or rather D'Artagnan called if, Furet (ferret).

"If I have changed Zephyr into Furet," said D'Artagnan, "I must make some diminutive or other of my own name. So, instead of D'Artagnan, I will be Agnan, short; that is a concession which I naturally owe to my gray coat, my round hat, and my rusty calotte."

Monsieur d'Artagnan traveled, then, pretty easily upon Furet, who ambled like a true butter-woman's pad, and who, with his amble, managed cheerfully about twelve leagues a day, upon four spindle-shanks, of which the practiced eye of D'Artagnan had appreciated the strength and safety beneath the thick mass of hair which covered them. Jogging along, the traveler took notes, studied the country, which he traversed reserved and silent, ever seeking the most plausible pretext for reaching Belle-Ile-en-Mer, and for seeing everything without arousing suspicion. In this manner, he was enabled to convince himself of the importance the event assumed in proportion as he drew near to it. In this remote country, in this ancient duchy of Bretagne, which was not France at that period, and is not so even now, the people knew nothing of the king of France. They not only did not know him, but were unwilling to know him. One face--a single one--floated visibly for them upon the political current. Their ancient dukes no longer ruled them; government was a void--nothing more. In place of the sovereign duke, the seigneurs of parishes reigned without control; and, above these seigneurs, God, who has never been forgotten in Bretagne. Among these suzerains of chateaux and belfries, the most powerful, the richest, the most popular, was M. Fouquet, seigneur of Belle-Isle. Even in the country, even within sight of that mysterious isle, legends and traditions consecrate its wonders. Every one might not penetrate it: the isle, of an extent of six leagues in length, and six in breadth, was a seignorial property, which the people had for a long time respected, covered as it was with the name of Retz, so redoubtable in the country. Shortly after the erection of this seignory into a marquistate, Belle-Isle passed to M. Fouquet. The celebrity of the isle did not date from yesterday; its name, or rather its qualification, is traced back to the remotest antiquity. The ancients called it Kalonese, from two Greek words, signifying beautiful isle. Thus, at a distance of eighteen hundred years, it had borne, in another idiom, the same name it still bears. There was, then, something in itself in this property of M. Fouquet's, besides its position of six leagues off the coast of France; a position which makes it a sovereign in its maritime solitude, like a majestic ship which disdains roads, and proudly casts anchor in mid-ocean.

D'Artagnan learnt all this without appearing the least in the world astonished. He also learnt the best way to get intelligence was to go to La Roche-Bernard, a tolerably important city at the mouth of the Vilaine. Perhaps there he could embark; if not, crossing the salt marshes, he would repair to Guerande or Le Croisic, to wait for an opportunity to cross over to Belle-Isle. He had discovered, besides, since his departure from Chateaubriand, that nothing would be impossible for Furet under the impulsion of M. Agnan, and nothing to M. Agnan through the initiative of Furet. He prepared, then, to sup off a teal and a torteau, in a hotel of La Roche-Bernard, and ordered to be brought from the cellar, to wash down these two Breton dishes, some cider, which, the moment it touched his lips, he perceived to be more Breton still.