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Twenty Years After

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Chapter 52. The Carriage of Monsieur le Coadjuteur.


Instead of returning, then, by the Saint Honore gate, D’Artagnan, who had time before him, walked around and re-entered by the Porte Richelieu. He was approached to be examined, and when it was discovered by his plumed hat and his laced coat, that he was an officer of the musketeers, he was surrounded, with the intention of making him cry, “Down with Mazarin!” The demonstration did not fail to make him uneasy at first; but when he discovered what it meant, he shouted it in such a voice that even the most exacting were satisfied. He walked down the Rue Richelieu, meditating how he should carry off the queen in her turn, for to take her in a carriage bearing the arms of France was not to be thought of, when he perceived an equipage standing at the door of the hotel belonging to Madame de Guemenee.

He was struck by a sudden idea.

“Ah, pardieu!” he exclaimed; “that would be fair play.”

And approaching the carriage, he examined the arms on the panels and the livery of the coachman on his box. This scrutiny was so much the more easy, the coachman being sound asleep.

“It is, in truth, monsieur le coadjuteur’s carriage,” said D’Artagnan; “upon my honor I begin to think that Heaven favors us.”

He mounted noiselessly into the chariot and pulled the silk cord which was attached to the coachman’s little finger.

“To the Palais Royal,” he called out.

The coachman awoke with a start and drove off in the direction he was desired, never doubting but that the order had come from his master. The porter at the palace was about to close the gates, but seeing such a handsome equipage he fancied that it was some visit of importance and the carriage was allowed to pass and to stop beneath the porch. It was then only the coachman perceived the grooms were not behind the vehicle; he fancied monsieur le coadjuteur had sent them back, and without dropping the reins he sprang from his box to open the door. D’Artagnan, in his turn, sprang to the ground, and just at the moment when the coachman, alarmed at not seeing his master, fell back a step, he seized him by his collar with the left, whilst with the right hand he placed the muzzle of a pistol at his breast.

“Pronounce one single word,” muttered D’Artagnan, “and you are a dead man.”

The coachman perceived at once, by the expression of the man who thus addressed him, that he had fallen into a trap, and he remained with his mouth wide open and his eyes portentously staring.

Two musketeers were pacing the court, to whom D’Artagnan called by their names.

“Monsieur de Belliere,” said he to one of them, “do me the favor to take the reins from the hands of this worthy man, mount upon the box and drive to the door of the private stair, and wait for me there; it is an affair of importance on the service of the king.”

The musketeer, who knew that his lieutenant was incapable of jesting with regard to the service, obeyed without a word, although he thought the order strange. Then turning toward the second musketeer, D’Artagnan said:

“Monsieur du Verger, help me to place this man in a place of safety.”

The musketeer, thinking that his lieutenant had just arrested some prince in disguise, bowed, and drawing his sword, signified that he was ready. D’Artagnan mounted the staircase, followed by his prisoner, who in his turn was followed by the soldier, and entered Mazarin’s ante-room. Bernouin was waiting there, impatient for news of his master.

“Well, sir?” he said.

“Everything goes on capitally, my dear Monsieur Bernouin, but here is a man whom I must beg you to put in a safe place.”

“Where, then, sir?”

“Where you like, provided that the place which you shall choose has iron shutters secured by padlocks and a door that can be locked.”

“We have that, sir,” replied Bernouin; and the poor coachman was conducted to a closet, the windows of which were barred and which looked very much like a prison.

“And now, my good friend,” said D’Artagnan to him, “I must invite you to deprive yourself, for my sake, of your hat and cloak.”

The coachman, as we can well understand, made no resistance; in fact, he was so astonished at what had happened to him that he stammered and reeled like a drunken man; D’Artagnan deposited his clothes under the arm of one of the valets.

“And now, Monsieur du Verger,” he said, “shut yourself up with this man until Monsieur Bernouin returns to open the door. The duty will be tolerably long and not very amusing, I know; but,” added he, seriously, “you understand, it is on the king’s service.”

“At your command, lieutenant,” replied the musketeer, who saw the business was a serious one.

“By-the-bye,” continued D’Artagnan, “should this man attempt to fly or to call out, pass your sword through his body.”

The musketeer signified by a nod that these commands should be obeyed to the letter, and D’Artagnan went out, followed by Bernouin. Midnight struck.

“Lead me into the queen’s oratory,” said D’Artagnan, “announce to her I am here, and put this parcel, with a well-loaded musket, under the seat of the carriage which is waiting at the foot of the private stair.”

Bernouin conducted D’Artagnan to the oratory, where he sat down pensively. Everything had gone on as usual at the Palais Royal. As we said before, by ten o’clock almost all the guests had dispersed; those who were to fly with the court had the word of command and they were each severally desired to be from twelve o’clock to one at Cours la Reine.

At ten o’clock Anne of Austria had entered the king’s room. Monsieur had just retired, and the youthful Louis, remaining the last, was amusing himself by placing some lead soldiers in a line of battle, a game which delighted him much. Two royal pages were playing with him.

“Laporte,” said the queen, “it is time for his majesty to go to bed.”

The king asked to remain up, having, he said, no wish to sleep; but the queen was firm.

“Are you not going to-morrow morning at six o’clock, Louis, to bathe at Conflans? I think you wished to do so of your own accord?”

“You are right, madame,” said the king, “and I am ready to retire to my room when you have kissed me. Laporte, give the light to Monsieur the Chevalier de Coislin.”

The queen touched with her lips the white, smooth brow the royal child presented to her with a gravity which already partook of etiquette.

“Go to sleep soon, Louis,” said the queen, “for you must be awakened very early.”

“I will do my best to obey you, madame,” said the youthful king, “but I have no inclination to sleep.”

“Laporte,” said Anne of Austria, in an undertone, “find some very dull book to read to his majesty, but do not undress yourself.”

The king went out, accompanied by the Chevalier de Coislin, bearing the candlestick, and then the queen returned to her own apartment. Her ladies--that is to say Madame de Bregy, Mademoiselle de Beaumont, Madame de Motteville, and Socratine, her sister, so called on account of her sense--had just brought into her dressing-room the remains of the dinner, on which, according to her usual custom, she supped. The queen then gave her orders, spoke of a banquet which the Marquis de Villequier was to give to her on the day after the morrow, indicated the persons she would admit to the honor of partaking of it, announced another visit on the following day to Val-de-Grace, where she intended to pay her devotions, and gave her commands to her senior valet to accompany her. When the ladies had finished their supper the queen feigned extreme fatigue and passed into her bedroom. Madame de Motteville, who was on especial duty that evening, followed to aid and undress her. The queen then began to read, and after conversing with her affectionately for a few minutes, dismissed her.

It was at this moment D’Artagnan entered the courtyard of the palace, in the coadjutor’s carriage, and a few seconds later the carriages of the ladies-in-waiting drove out and the gates were shut after them.

A few minutes after twelve o’clock Bernouin knocked at the queen’s bedroom door, having come by the cardinal’s secret corridor. Anne of Austria opened the door to him herself. She was dressed, that is to say, in dishabille, wrapped in a long, warm dressing-gown.

“It is you, Bernouin,” she said. “Is Monsieur d’Artagnan there?”

“Yes, madame, in your oratory. He is waiting till your majesty is ready.”

“I am. Go and tell Laporte to wake and dress the king, and then pass on to the Marechal de Villeroy and summon him to me.”

Bernouin bowed and retired.

The queen entered her oratory, which was lighted by a single lamp of Venetian crystal, She saw D’Artagnan, who stood expecting her.

“Is it you?” she said.

“Yes, madame.”

“Are you ready?”

“I am.”

“And his eminence, the cardinal?”

“Has got off without any accident. He is awaiting your majesty at Cours la Reine.”

“But in what carriage do we start?”

“I have provided for everything; a carriage below is waiting for your majesty.”

“Let us go to the king.”

D’Artagnan bowed and followed the queen. The young Louis was already dressed, with the exception of his shoes and doublet; he had allowed himself to be dressed, in great astonishment, overwhelming Laporte with questions, who replied only in these words, “Sire, it is by the queen’s commands.”

The bedclothes were thrown back, exposing the king’s bed linen, which was so worn that here and there holes could be seen. It was one of the results of Mazarin’s niggardliness.

The queen entered and D’Artagnan remained at the door. As soon as the child perceived the queen he escaped from Laporte and ran to meet her. Anne then motioned to D’Artagnan to approach, and he obeyed.

“My son,” said Anne of Austria, pointing to the musketeer, calm, standing uncovered, “here is Monsieur d’Artagnan, who is as brave as one of those ancient heroes of whom you like so much to hear from my women. Remember his name well and look at him well, that his face may not be forgotten, for this evening he is going to render us a great service.”

The young king looked at the officer with his large-formed eye, and repeated:

“Monsieur d’Artagnan.”

“That is it, my son.”

The young king slowly raised his little hand and held it out to the musketeer; the latter bent on his knee and kissed it.

“Monsieur d’Artagnan,” repeated Louis; “very well, madame.”

At this moment they were startled by a noise as if a tumult were approaching.

“What is that?” exclaimed the queen.

“Oh, oh!” replied D’Artagnan, straining both at the same time his quick ear and his intelligent glance, “it is the murmur of the populace in revolution.”

“We must fly,” said the queen.

“Your majesty has given me the control of this business; we had better wait and see what they want.”

“Monsieur d’Artagnan!”

“I will answer for everything.”

Nothing is so catching as confidence. The queen, full of energy and courage, was quickly alive to these two virtues in others.

“Do as you like,” she said, “I rely upon you.”

“Will your majesty permit me to give orders in your name throughout this business?”

“Command, sir.”

“What do the people want this time?” demanded the king.

“We are about to ascertain, sire,” replied D’Artagnan, as he rapidly left the room.

The tumult continued to increase and seemed to surround the Palais Royal entirely. Cries were heard from the interior, of which they could not comprehend the sense. It was evident that there was clamor and sedition.

The king, half dressed, the queen and Laporte remained each in the same state and almost in the same place, where they were listening and waiting. Comminges, who was on guard that night at the Palais Royal, ran in. He had about two hundred men in the courtyards and stables, and he placed them at the queen’s disposal.

“Well,” asked Anne of Austria, when D’Artagnan reappeared, “what does it mean?”

“It means, madame, that the report has spread that the queen has left the Palais Royal, carrying off the king, and the people ask to have proof to the contrary, or threaten to demolish the Palais Royal.”

“Oh, this time it is too much!” exclaimed the queen, “and I will prove to them I have not left.”

D’Artagnan saw from the expression of the queen’s face that she was about to issue some violent command. He approached her and said in a low voice:

“Has your majesty still confidence in me?”

This voice startled her. “Yes, sir,” she replied, “every confidence; speak.”

“Will the queen deign to follow my advice?”

“Speak.”

“Let your majesty dismiss M. de Comminges and desire him to shut himself up with his men in the guardhouse and in the stables.”

Comminges glanced at D’Artagnan with the envious look with which every courtier sees a new favorite spring up.

“You hear, Comminges?” said the queen.

D’Artagnan went up to him; with his usual quickness he caught the anxious glance.

“Monsieur de Comminges,” he said, “pardon me; we both are servants of the queen, are we not? It is my turn to be of use to her; do not envy me this happiness.”

Comminges bowed and left.

“Come,” said D’Artagnan to himself, “I have got one more enemy.”

“And now,” said the queen, addressing D’Artagnan, “what is to be done? for you hear that, instead of becoming calmer, the noise increases.”

“Madame,” said D’Artagnan, “the people want to see the king and they must see him.”

“What! must see him! Where--on the balcony?”

“Not at all, madame, but here, sleeping in his bed.”

“Oh, your majesty,” exclaimed Laporte, “Monsieur d’Artagnan is right.”

The queen became thoughtful and smiled, like a woman to whom duplicity is no stranger.

“Without doubt,” she murmured.

“Monsieur Laporte,” said D’Artagnan, “go and announce to the people through the grating that they are going to be satisfied and that in five minutes they shall not only see the king, but they shall see him in bed; add that the king sleeps and that the queen begs that they will keep silence, so as not to awaken him.”

“But not every one; a deputation of two or four people.”

“Every one, madame.”

“But reflect, they will keep us here till daybreak.”

“It shall take but a quarter of an hour, I answer for everything, madame; believe me, I know the people; they are like a great child, who only wants humoring. Before the sleeping king they will be mute, gentle and timid as lambs.”

“Go, Laporte,” said the queen.

The young king approached his mother and said, “Why do as these people ask?”

“It must be so, my son,” said Anne of Austria.

“But if they say, ‘it must be’ to me, am I no longer king?”

The queen remained silent.

“Sire,” said D’Artagnan, “will your majesty permit me to ask you a question?”

Louis XIV. turned around, astonished that any one should dare to address him. But the queen pressed the child’s hand.

“Yes, sir.” he said.

“Does your majesty remember, when playing in the park of Fontainebleau, or in the palace courts at Versailles, ever to have seen the sky grow suddenly dark and heard the sound of thunder?”

“Yes, certainly.”

“Well, then, this noise of thunder, however much your majesty may have wished to continue playing, has said, ‘go in, sire. You must do so.’”

“Certainly, sir; but they tell me that the noise of thunder is the voice of God.”

“Well then, sire,” continued D’Artagnan, “listen to the noise of the people; you will perceive that it resembles that of thunder.”

In truth at that moment a terrible murmur was wafted to them by the night breeze; then all at once it ceased.

“Hold, sire,” said D’Artagnan, “they have just told the people that you are asleep; you see, you still are king.”

The queen looked with surprise at this strange man, whose brilliant courage made him the equal of the bravest, and who was, by his fine and quick intelligence, the equal of the most astute.

Laporte entered.

“Well, Laporte?” asked the queen.

“Madame,” he replied, “Monsieur d’Artagnan’s prediction has been accomplished; they are calm, as if by enchantment. The doors are about to be opened and in five minutes they will be here.”

“Laporte,” said the queen, “suppose you put one of your sons in the king’s place; we might be off during the time.”

“If your majesty desires it,” said Laporte, “my sons, like myself, are at the queen’s service.”

“Not at all,” said D’Artagnan; “should one of them know his majesty and discover but a substitute, all would be lost.”

“You are right, sir, always right,” said Anne of Austria. “Laporte, place the king in bed.”

Laporte placed the king, dressed as he was, in the bed and then covered him as far as the shoulders with the sheet. The queen bent over him and kissed his brow.

“Pretend to sleep, Louis,” said she.

“Yes,” said the king, “but I do not wish to be touched by any of those men.”

“Sire, I am here,” said D’Artagnan, “and I give you my word, that if a single man has the audacity, his life shall pay for it.”

“And now what is to be done?” asked the queen, “for I hear them.”

“Monsieur Laporte, go to them and again recommend silence. Madame, wait at the door, whilst I shall be at the head of the king’s bed, ready to die for him.”

Laporte went out; the queen remained standing near the hangings, whilst D’Artagnan glided behind the curtains.

Then the heavy and collected steps of a multitude of men were heard, and the queen herself raised the tapestry hangings and put her finger on her lips.

On seeing the queen, the men stopped short, respectfully.

“Enter, gentlemen, enter,” said the queen.

There was then amongst that crowd a moment’s hesitation, which looked like shame. They had expected resistance, they had expected to be thwarted, to have to force the gates, to overturn the guards. The gates had opened of themselves, and the king, ostensibly at least, had no other guard at his bed-head but his mother. The foremost of them stammered and attempted to fall back.

“Enter, gentlemen,” said Laporte, “since the queen desires you so to do.”

Then one more bold than the rest ventured to pass the door and to advance on tiptoe. This example was imitated by the rest, until the room filled silently, as if these men had been the humblest, most devoted courtiers. Far beyond the door the heads of those who were not able to enter could be seen, all craning to their utmost height to try and see.

D’Artagnan saw it all through an opening he had made in the curtain, and in the very first man who entered he recognized Planchet.

“Sir,” said the queen to him, thinking he was the leader of the band, “you wished to see the king and therefore I determined to show him to you myself. Approach and look at him and say if we have the appearance of people who wish to run away.”

“No, certainly,” replied Planchet, rather astonished at the unexpected honor conferred upon him.

“You will say, then, to my good and faithful Parisians,” continued Anne, with a smile, the expression of which did not deceive D’Artagnan, “that you have seen the king in bed, asleep, and the queen also ready to retire.”

“I shall tell them, madame, and those who accompany me will say the same thing; but----”

“But what?” asked Anne of Austria.

“Will your majesty pardon me,” said Planchet, “but is it really the king who is lying there?”

Anne of Austria started. “If,” she said, “there is one among you who knows the king, let him approach and say whether it is really his majesty lying there.”

A man wrapped in a cloak, in the folds of which his face was hidden, approached and leaned over the bed and looked.

For one second, D’Artagnan thought the man had some evil design and he put his hand to his sword; but in the movement made by the man in stooping a portion of his face was uncovered and D’Artagnan recognized the coadjutor.

“It is certainly the king,” said the man, rising again. “God bless his majesty!”

“Yes,” repeated the leader in a whisper, “God bless his majesty!” and all these men, who had entered enraged, passed from anger to pity and blessed the royal infant in their turn.

“Now,” said Planchet, “let us thank the queen. My friends, retire.”

They all bowed, and retired by degrees as noiselessly as they had entered. Planchet, who had been the first to enter, was the last to leave. The queen stopped him.

“What is your name, my friend?” she said.

Planchet, much surprised at the inquiry, turned back.

“Yes,” continued the queen, “I think myself as much honored to have received you this evening as if you had been a prince, and I wish to know your name.”

“Yes,” thought Planchet, “to treat me as a prince. No, thank you.”

D’Artagnan trembled lest Planchet, seduced, like the crow in the fable, should tell his name, and that the queen, knowing his name, would discover that Planchet had belonged to him.

“Madame,” replied Planchet, respectfully, “I am called Dulaurier, at your service.”

“Thank you, Monsieur Dulaurier,” said the queen; “and what is your business?”

“Madame, I am a clothier in the Rue Bourdonnais.”

“That is all I wished to know,” said the queen. “Much obliged to you, Monsieur Dulaurier. You will hear again from me.”

“Come, come,” thought D’Artagnan, emerging from behind the curtain, “decidedly Monsieur Planchet is no fool; it is evident he has been brought up in a good school.”

The different actors in this strange scene remained facing one another, without uttering a single word; the queen standing near the door, D’Artagnan half out of his hiding place, the king raised on his elbow, ready to fall down on his bed again at the slightest sound that would indicate the return of the multitude, but instead of approaching, the noise became more and more distant and very soon it died entirely away.

The queen breathed more freely. D’Artagnan wiped his damp forehead and the king slid off his bed, saying, “Let us go.”

At this moment Laporte reappeared.

“Well?” asked the queen

“Well, madame,” replied the valet, “I followed them as far as the gates. They announced to all their comrades that they had seen the king and that the queen had spoken to them; and, in fact, they went away quite proud and happy.”

“Oh, the miserable wretches!” murmured the queen, “they shall pay dearly for their boldness, and it is I who promise this.”

Then turning to D’Artagnan, she said:

“Sir, you have given me this evening the best advice I have ever received. Continue, and say what we must do now.”

“Monsieur Laporte,” said D’Artagnan, “finish dressing his majesty.”

“We may go, then?” asked the queen.

“Whenever your majesty pleases. You have only to descend by the private stairs and you will find me at the door.”

“Go, sir,” said the queen; “I will follow you.”

D’Artagnan went down and found the carriage at its post and the musketeer on the box. D’Artagnan took out the parcel which he had desired Bernouin to place under the seat. It may be remembered that it was the hat and cloak belonging to Monsieur de Gondy’s coachman.

He placed the cloak on his shoulders and the hat on his head, whilst the musketeer got off the box.

“Sir,” said D’Artagnan, “you will go and release your companion, who is guarding the coachman. You must mount your horse and proceed to the Rue Tiquetonne, Hotel de la Chevrette, whence you will take my horse and that of Monsieur du Vallon, which you must saddle and equip as if for war, and then you will leave Paris, bringing them with you to Cours la Reine. If, when you arrive at Cours la Reine, you find no one, you must go on to Saint Germain. On the king’s service.”

The musketeer touched his cap and went away to execute the orders thus received.

D’Artagnan mounted the box, having a pair of pistols in his belt, a musket under his feet and a naked sword behind him.

The queen appeared, and was followed by the king and the Duke d’Anjou, his brother.

“Monsieur the coadjutor’s carriage!” she exclaimed, falling back.

“Yes, madame,” said D’Artagnan; “but get in fearlessly, for I myself will drive you.”

The queen uttered a cry of surprise and entered the carriage, and the king and monsieur took their places at her side.

“Come, Laporte,” said the queen.

“How, madame!” said the valet, “in the same carriage as your majesties?”

“It is not a matter of royal etiquette this evening, but of the king’s safety. Get in, Laporte.”

Laporte obeyed.

“Pull down the blinds,” said D’Artagnan.

“But will that not excite suspicion, sir?” asked the queen.

“Your majesty’s mind may be quite at ease,” replied the officer; “I have my answer ready.”

The blinds were pulled down and they started at a gallop by the Rue Richelieu. On reaching the gate the captain of the post advanced at the head of a dozen men, holding a lantern in his hand.

D’Artagnan signed to them to draw near.

“Do you recognize the carriage?” he asked the sergeant.

“No,” replied the latter.

“Look at the arms.”

The sergeant put the lantern near the panel.

“They are those of monsieur le coadjuteur,” he said.

“Hush; he is enjoying a ride with Madame de Guemenee.”

The sergeant began to laugh.

“Open the gate,” he cried. “I know who it is!” Then putting his face to the lowered blinds, he said:

“I wish you joy, my lord!”

“Impudent fellow!” cried D’Artagnan, “you will get me turned off.”

The gate groaned on its hinges, and D’Artagnan, seeing the way clear, whipped his horses, who started at a canter, and five minutes later they had rejoined the cardinal.

“Mousqueton!” exclaimed D’Artagnan, “draw up the blinds of his majesty’s carriage.”

“It is he!” cried Porthos.

“Disguised as a coachman!” exclaimed Mazarin.

“And driving the coadjutor’s carriage!” said the queen.

“Corpo di Dio! Monsieur d’Artagnan!” said Mazarin, “you are worth your weight in gold.”


Chapter 53. How D’Artagnan and Porthos earned by selling Straw.


Mazarin was desirous of setting out instantly for Saint Germain, but the queen declared that she should wait for the people whom she had appointed to meet her. However, she offered the cardinal Laporte’s place, which he accepted and went from one carriage to the other.

It was not without foundation that a report of the king’s intention to leave Paris by night had been circulated. Ten or twelve persons had been in the secret since six o’clock, and howsoever great their prudence might be, they could not issue the necessary orders for the departure without suspicion being generated. Besides, each individual had one or two others for whom he was interested; and as there could be no doubt but that the queen was leaving Paris full of terrible projects of vengeance, every one had warned parents and friends of what was about to transpire; so that the news of the approaching exit ran like a train of lighted gunpowder along the streets.

The first carriage which arrived after that of the queen was that of the Prince de Conde, with the princess and dowager princess. Both these ladies had been awakened in the middle of the night and did not know what it all was about. The second contained the Duke and Duchess of Orleans, the tall young Mademoiselle and the Abbe de la Riviere; and the third, the Duke de Longueville and the Prince de Conti, brother and brother-in-law of Conde. They all alighted and hastened to pay their respects to the king and queen in their coach. The queen fixed her eyes upon the carriage they had left, and seeing that it was empty, she said:

“But where is Madame de Longueville?”

“Ah, yes, where is my sister?” asked the prince.

“Madame de Longueville is ill,” said the duke, “and she desired me to excuse her to your majesty.”

Anne gave a quick glance to Mazarin, who answered by an almost imperceptible shake of his head.

“What do you say of this?” asked the queen.

“I say that she is a hostage for the Parisians,” answered the cardinal.

“Why is she not come?” asked the prince in a low voice, addressing his brother.

“Silence,” whispered the duke, “she has her reasons.”

“She will ruin us!” returned the prince.

“She will save us,” said Conti.

Carriages now arrived in crowds; those of the Marechal de Villeroy, Guitant, Villequier and Comminges came into the line. The two musketeers arrived in their turn, holding the horses of D’Artagnan and Porthos in their hands. These two instantly mounted, the coachman of the latter replacing D’Artagnan on the coach-box of the royal coach. Mousqueton took the place of the coachman, and drove standing, for reasons known to himself, like Automedon of antiquity.

The queen, though occupied by a thousand details, tried to catch the Gascon’s eye; but he, with his wonted prudence, had mingled with the crowd.

“Let us be the avant guard,” said he to Porthos, “and find good quarters at Saint Germain; nobody will think of us, and for my part I am greatly fatigued.”

“As for me,” replied Porthos, “I am falling asleep, which is strange, considering we have not had any fighting; truly the Parisians are idiots.”

“Or rather, we are very clever,” said D’Artagnan.

“Perhaps.”

“And how is your wrist?”

“Better; but do you think that we’ve got them this time?”

“Got what?”

“You your command, and I my title?”

“I’faith! yes--I should expect so; besides, if they forget, I shall take the liberty of reminding them.”

“The queen’s voice! she is speaking,” said Porthos; “I think she wants to ride on horseback.”

“Oh, she would like it, but----”

“But what?”

“The cardinal won’t allow it. Gentlemen,” he said, addressing the two musketeers, “accompany the royal carriage, we are going forward to look for lodgings.”

D’Artagnan started off for Saint Germain, followed by Porthos.

“We will go on, gentlemen,” said the queen.

And the royal carriage drove on, followed by the other coaches and about fifty horsemen.

They reached Saint German without any accident; on descending, the queen found the prince awaiting her, bare-headed, to offer her his hand.

“What an awakening for the Parisians!” said the queen, radiant.

“It is war,” said the prince.

“Well, then, let it be war! Have we not on our side the conqueror of Rocroy, of Nordlingen, of Lens?”

The prince bowed low.

It was then three o’clock in the morning. The queen walked first, every one followed her. About two hundred persons had accompanied her in her flight.

“Gentlemen,” said the queen, laughing, “pray take up your abode in the chateau; it is large, and there will be no want of room for you all; but, as we never thought of coming here, I am informed that there are, in all, only three beds in the whole establishment, one for the king, one for me----”

“And one for the cardinal,” muttered the prince.

“Am I--am I, then, to sleep on the floor?” asked Gaston d’Orleans, with a forced smile.

“No, my prince,” replied Mazarin, “the third bed is intended for your highness.”

“But your eminence?” replied the prince.

“I,” answered Mazarin, “I shall not sleep at all; I have work to do.”

Gaston desired that he should be shown into the room wherein he was to sleep, without in the least concerning himself as to where his wife and daughter were to repose.

“Well, for my part, I shall go to bed,” said D’Artagnan; “come, Porthos.”

Porthos followed the lieutenant with that profound confidence he ever had in the wisdom of his friend. They walked from one end of the chateau to the other, Porthos looking with wondering eyes at D’Artagnan, who was counting on his fingers.

“Four hundred, at a pistole each, four hundred pistoles.”

“Yes,” interposed Porthos, “four hundred pistoles; but who is to make four hundred pistoles?”

“A pistole is not enough,” said D’Artagnan, “‘tis worth a louis.”

“What is worth a louis?”

“Four hundred, at a louis each, make four hundred louis.”

“Four hundred?” said Porthos.

“Yes, there are two hundred of them, and each of them will need two, which will make four hundred.”

“But four hundred what?”

“Listen!” cried D’Artagnan.

But as there were all kinds of people about, who were in a state of stupefaction at the unexpected arrival of the court, he whispered in his friend’s ear.

“I understand,” answered Porthos, “I understand you perfectly, on my honor; two hundred louis, each of us, would be making a pretty thing of it; but what will people say?”

“Let them say what they will; besides, how will they know that we are doing it?”

“But who will distribute these things?” asked Porthos.

“Isn’t Mousqueton there?”

“But he wears my livery; my livery will be known,” replied Porthos.

“He can turn his coat inside out.”

“You are always in the right, my dear friend,” cried Porthos; “but where the devil do you discover all the notions you put into practice?”

D’Artagnan smiled. The two friends turned down the first street they came to. Porthos knocked at the door of a house to the right, whilst D’Artagnan knocked at the door of a house to the left.

“Some straw,” they said.

“Sir, we don’t keep any,” was the reply of the people who opened the doors; “but please ask at the hay dealer’s.”

“Where is the hay dealer’s?”

“At the last large door in the street.”

“Are there any other people in Saint Germain who sell straw?”

“Yes; there’s the landlord of the Lamb, and Gros-Louis the farmer; they both live in the Rue des Ursulines.”

“Very well.”

D’Artagnan went instantly to the hay dealer and bargained with him for a hundred and fifty trusses of straw, which he obtained, at the rate of three pistoles each. He went afterward to the innkeeper and bought from him two hundred trusses at the same price. Finally, Farmer Louis sold them eighty trusses, making in all four hundred and thirty.

There was no more to be had in Saint Germain. This foraging did not occupy more than half an hour. Mousqueton, duly instructed, was put at the head of this sudden and new business. He was cautioned not to let a bit of straw out of his hands under a louis the truss, and they intrusted to him straw to the amount of four hundred and thirty louis. D’Artagnan, taking with him three trusses of straw, returned to the chateau, where everybody, freezing with cold and more than half asleep, envied the king, the queen, and the Duke of Orleans, on their camp beds. The lieutenant’s entrance produced a burst of laughter in the great drawing-room; but he did not appear to notice that he was the object of general attention, but began to arrange, with so much cleverness, nicety and gayety, his straw bed, that the mouths of all these poor creatures, who could not go to sleep, began to water.

“Straw!” they all cried out, “straw! where is there any to be found?”

“I can show you,” answered the Gascon.

And he conducted them to Mousqueton, who freely distributed the trusses at the rate of a louis apiece. It was thought rather dear, but people wanted to sleep, and who would not give even two or three louis for a few hours of sound sleep?

D’Artagnan gave up his bed to any one who wanted it, making it over about a dozen times; and since he was supposed to have paid, like the others, a louis for his truss of straw, he pocketed in that way thirty louis in less than half an hour. At five o’clock in the morning the straw was worth eighty francs a truss and there was no more to be had.

D’Artagnan had taken the precaution to set apart four trusses for his own use. He put in his pocket the key of the room where he had hidden them, and accompanied by Porthos returned to settle with Mousqueton, who, naively, and like the worthy steward that he was, handed them four hundred and thirty louis and kept one hundred for himself.

Mousqueton, who knew nothing of what was going on in the chateau, wondered that the idea had not occurred to him sooner. D’Artagnan put the gold in his hat, and in going back to the chateau settled the reckoning with Porthos, each of them had cleared two hundred and fifteen louis.

Porthos, however, found that he had no straw left for himself. He returned to Mousqueton, but the steward had sold the last wisp. He then repaired to D’Artagnan, who, thanks to his four trusses of straw, was in the act of making up and tasting, by anticipation, the luxury of a bed so soft, so well stuffed at the head, so well covered at the foot, that it would have excited the envy of the king himself, if his majesty had not been fast asleep in his own. D’Artagnan could on no account consent to pull his bed to pieces again for Porthos, but for a consideration of four louis that the latter paid him for it, he consented that Porthos should share his couch with him. He laid his sword at the head, his pistols by his side, stretched his cloak over his feet, placed his felt hat on the top of his cloak and extended himself luxuriously on the straw, which rustled under him. He was already enjoying the sweet dream engendered by the possession of two hundred and nineteen louis, made in a quarter of an hour, when a voice was heard at the door of the hall, which made him stir.

“Monsieur d’Artagnan!” it cried.

“Here!” cried Porthos, “here!”

Porthos foresaw that if D’Artagnan was called away he should remain the sole possessor of the bed. An officer approached.

“I am come to fetch you, Monsieur d’Artagnan.”

“From whom?”

“His eminence sent me.”

“Tell my lord that I’m going to sleep, and I advise him, as a friend, to do the same.”

“His eminence is not gone to bed and will not go to bed, and wants you instantly.”

“The devil take Mazarin, who does not know when to sleep at the proper time. What does he want with me? Is it to make me a captain? In that case I will forgive him.”

And the musketeer rose, grumbling, took his sword, hat, pistols, and cloak, and followed the officer, whilst Porthos, alone and sole possessor of the bed, endeavored to follow the good example of falling asleep, which his predecessor had set him.

“Monsieur d’Artagnan,” said the cardinal, on perceiving him, “I have not forgotten with what zeal you have served me. I am going to prove to you that I have not.”

“Good,” thought the Gascon, “this is a promising beginning.”

“Monsieur d’Artagnan,” he resumed, “do you wish to become a captain?”

“Yes, my lord.”

“And your friend still longs to be made a baron?”

“At this very moment, my lord, he no doubt dreams that he is one already.”

“Then,” said Mazarin, taking from his portfolio the letter which he had already shown D’Artagnan, “take this dispatch and carry it to England.”

D’Artagnan looked at the envelope; there was no address on it.

“Am I not to know to whom to present it?”

“You will know when you reach London; at London you may tear off the outer envelope.”

“And what are my instructions?”

“To obey in every particular the man to whom this letter is addressed. You must set out for Boulogne. At the Royal Arms of England you will find a young gentleman named Mordaunt.”

“Yes, my lord; and what am I to do with this young gentleman?”

“Follow wherever he leads you.”

D’Artagnan looked at the cardinal with a stupefied air.

“There are your instructions,” said Mazarin; “go!”

“Go! ‘tis easy to say so, but that requires money, and I haven’t any.”

“Ah!” replied Mazarin, “so you have no money?”

“None, my lord.”

“But the diamond I gave you yesterday?”

“I wish to keep it in remembrance of your eminence.”

Mazarin sighed.

“‘Tis very dear living in England, my lord, especially as envoy extraordinary.”

“Zounds!” replied Mazarin, “the people there are very sedate, and their habits, since the revolution, simple; but no matter.”

He opened a drawer and took out a purse.

“What do you say to a thousand crowns?”

D’Artagnan pouted out his lower lip in a most extraordinary manner.

“I reply, my lord, ‘tis but little, as certainly I shall not go alone.”

“I suppose not. Monsieur du Vallon, that worthy gentleman, for, with the exception of yourself, Monsieur d’Artagnan, there’s not a man in France that I esteem and love so much as him----”

“Then, my lord,” replied D’Artagnan, pointing to the purse which Mazarin still held, “if you love and esteem him so much, you--understand me?”

“Be it so! on his account I add two hundred crowns.”

“Scoundrel!” muttered D’Artagnan. “But on our return,” he said aloud, “may we, that is, my friend and I, depend on having, he his barony, and I my promotion?”

“On the honor of Mazarin.”

“I should like another sort of oath better,” said D’Artagnan to himself; then aloud, “May I not offer my duty to her majesty the queen?”

“Her majesty is asleep and you must set off directly,” replied Mazarin; “go, pray, sir----”

“One word more, my lord; if there’s any fighting where I’m going, must I fight?”

“You are to obey the commands of the personage to whom I have addressed the inclosed letter.”

“‘Tis well,” said D’Artagnan, holding out his hand to receive the money. “I offer my best respects and services to you, my lord.”

D’Artagnan then, returning to the officer, said:

“Sir, have the kindness also to awaken Monsieur du Vallon and to say ‘tis by his eminence’s order, and that I shall await him at the stables.”

The officer went off with an eagerness that showed the Gascon that he had some personal interest in the matter.

Porthos was snoring most musically when some one touched him on the shoulder.

“I come from the cardinal,” said the officer.

“Heigho!” said Porthos, opening his large eyes; “what have you got to say?”

“That his eminence has ordered you to England and that Monsieur d’Artagnan is waiting for you in the stables.”

Porthos sighed heavily, arose, took his hat, his pistols, and his cloak, and departed, casting a look of regret upon the couch where he had hoped to sleep so well.

No sooner had he turned his back than the officer laid himself down in it, and he had scarcely crossed the threshold before his successor, in his turn, was snoring immoderately. It was very natural, he being the only person in the whole assemblage, except the king, the queen, and the Duke of Orleans, who slept gratuitously.


Chapter 54. In which we hear Tidings of Aramis.


D’Artagnan went straight to the stables; day was just dawning. He found his horse and that of Porthos fastened to the manger, but to an empty manger. He took pity on these poor animals and went to a corner of the stable, where he saw a little straw, but in doing so he struck his foot against a human body, which uttered a cry and arose on its knees, rubbing its eyes. It was Mousqueton, who, having no straw to lie upon, had helped himself to that of the horses.

“Mousqueton,” cried D’Artagnan, “let us be off! Let us set off.”

Mousqueton, recognizing the voice of his master’s friend, got up suddenly, and in doing so let fall some louis which he had appropriated to himself illegally during the night.

“Ho! ho!” exclaimed D’Artagnan, picking up a louis and displaying it; “here’s a louis that smells confoundedly of straw.”

Mousqueton blushed so confusedly that the Gascon began to laugh at him and said:

“Porthos would be angry, my dear Monsieur Mousqueton, but I pardon you, only let us remember that this gold must serve us as a joke, so be gay--come along.”

Mousqueton instantly assumed a jovial countenance, saddled the horses quickly and mounted his own without making faces over it.

Whilst this went on, Porthos arrived with a very cross look on his face, and was astonished to find the lieutenant resigned and Mousqueton almost merry.

“Ah, that’s it!” he cried, “you have your promotion and I my barony.”

“We are going to fetch our brevets,” said D’Artagnan, “and when we come back, Master Mazarin will sign them.”

“And where are we going?” asked Porthos.

“To Paris first; I have affairs to settle.”

And they both set out for Paris.

On arriving at its gates they were astounded to see the threatening aspect of the capital. Around a broken-down carriage the people were uttering imprecations, whilst the persons who had attempted to escape were made prisoners--that is to say, an old man and two women. On the other hand, as the two friends approached to enter, they showed them every kind of civility, thinking them deserters from the royal party and wishing to bind them to their own.

“What is the king doing?” they asked.

“He is asleep.”

“And the Spanish woman?”

“Dreaming.”

“And the cursed Italian?”

“He is awake, so keep on the watch, as they are gone away; it’s for some purpose, rely on it. But as you are the strongest, after all,” continued D’Artagnan, “don’t be furious with old men and women, and keep your wrath for more appropriate occasions.”

The people listened to these words and let go the ladies, who thanked D’Artagnan with an eloquent look.

“Now! onward!” cried the Gascon.

And they continued their way, crossing the barricades, getting the chains about their legs, pushed about, questioning and questioned.

In the place of the Palais Royal D’Artagnan saw a sergeant, who was drilling six or seven hundred citizens. It was Planchet, who brought into play profitably the recollections of the regiment of Piedmont.

In passing before D’Artagnan he recognized his former master.

“Good-day, Monsieur d’Artagnan,” said Planchet proudly.

“Good-day, Monsieur Dulaurier,” replied D’Artagnan.

Planchet stopped short, staring at D’Artagnan. The first row, seeing their sergeant stop, stopped in their turn, and so on to the very last.

“These citizens are dreadfully ridiculous,” observed D’Artagnan to Porthos and went on his way.

Five minutes afterward he entered the hotel of La Chevrette, where pretty Madeleine, the hostess, came to him.

“My dear Mistress Turquaine,” said the Gascon, “if you happen to have any money, lock it up quickly; if you happen to have any jewels, hide them directly; if you happen to have any debtors, make them pay you, or any creditors, don’t pay them.”

“Why, prithee?” asked Madeleine.

“Because Paris is going to be reduced to dust and ashes like Babylon, of which you have no doubt heard tell.”

“And are you going to leave me at such a time?”

“This very instant.”

“And where are you going?”

“Ah, if you could tell me that, you would be doing me a service.”

“Ah, me! ah, me!

“Have you any letters for me?” inquired D’Artagnan, wishing to signify to the hostess that her lamentations were superfluous and that therefore she had better spare him demonstrations of her grief.

“There’s one just arrived,” and she handed the letter to D’Artagnan.

“From Athos!” cried D’Artagnan, recognizing the handwriting.

“Ah!” said Porthos, “let us hear what he says.”

D’Artagnan opened the letter and read as follows:

“Dear D’Artagnan, dear Du Vallon, my good friends, perhaps this may be the last time that you will ever hear from me. Aramis and I are very unhappy; but God, our courage, and the remembrance of our friendship sustain us. Think often of Raoul. I intrust to you certain papers which are at Blois; and in two months and a half, if you do not hear of us, take possession of them.

“Embrace, with all your heart, the vicomte, for your devoted, friend,

“ATHOS.”
“I believe, by Heaven,” said D’Artagnan, “that I shall embrace him, since he’s upon our road; and if he is so unfortunate as to lose our dear Athos, from that very day he becomes my son.”

“And I,” said Porthos, “shall make him my sole heir.”

“Let us see, what more does Athos say?”

“Should you meet on your journey a certain Monsieur Mordaunt, distrust him, in a letter I cannot say more.”

“Monsieur Mordaunt!” exclaimed the Gascon, surprised.

“Monsieur Mordaunt! ‘tis well,” said Porthos, “we shall remember that; but see, there is a postscript from Aramis.”

“So there is,” said D’Artagnan, and he read:

“We conceal the place where we are, dear friends, knowing your brotherly affection and that you would come and die with us were we to reveal it.”

“Confound it,” interrupted Porthos, with an explosion of passion which sent Mousqueton to the other end of the room; “are they in danger of dying?”

D’Artagnan continued:

“Athos bequeaths to you Raoul, and I bequeath to you my revenge. If by any good luck you lay your hand on a certain man named Mordaunt, tell Porthos to take him into a corner and to wring his neck. I dare not say more in a letter.

“ARAMIS.”
“If that is all, it is easily done,” said Porthos.

“On the contrary,” observed D’Artagnan, with a vexed look; “it would be impossible.”

“How so?”

“It is precisely this Monsieur Mordaunt whom we are going to join at Boulogne and with whom we cross to England.”

“Well, suppose instead of joining this Monsieur Mordaunt we were to go and join our friends?” said Porthos, with a gesture fierce enough to have frightened an army.

“I did think of it, but this letter has neither date nor postmark.”

“True,” said Porthos. And he began to wander about the room like a man beside himself, gesticulating and half drawing his sword out of the scabbard.

As to D’Artagnan, he remained standing like a man in consternation, with the deepest affliction depicted on his face.

“Ah, this is not right; Athos insults us; he wishes to die alone; it is bad, bad, bad.”

Mousqueton, witnessing this despair, melted into tears in a corner of the room.

“Come,” said D’Artagnan, “all this leads to nothing. Let us go on. We will embrace Raoul, and perhaps he will have news of Athos.”

“Stop--an idea!” cried Porthos; “indeed, my dear D’Artagnan, I don’t know how you manage, but you are always full of ideas; let us go and embrace Raoul.”

“Woe to that man who should happen to contradict my master at this moment,” said Mousqueton to himself; “I wouldn’t give a farthing for his life.”

They set out. On arriving at the Rue Saint Denis, the friends found a vast concourse of people. It was the Duc de Beaufort, who was coming from the Vendomois and whom the coadjutor was showing to the Parisians, intoxicated with joy. With the duke’s aid they already considered themselves invincible.

The two friends turned off into a side street to avoid meeting the prince, and so reached the Saint Denis gate.

“Is it true,” said the guard to the two cavaliers, “that the Duc de Beaufort has arrived in Paris?”

“Nothing more certain; and the best proof of it is,” said D’Artagnan, “that he has dispatched us to meet the Duc de Vendome, his father, who is coming in his turn.”

“Long live De Beaufort!” cried the guards, and they drew back respectfully to let the two friends pass. Once across the barriers these two knew neither fatigue nor fear. Their horses flew, and they never ceased speaking of Athos and Aramis.

The camp had entered Saint Omer; the friends made a little detour and went to the camp, and gave the army an exact account of the flight of the king and queen. They found Raoul near his tent, reclining on a truss of hay, of which his horse stole some mouthfuls; the young man’s eyes were red and he seemed dejected. The Marechal de Grammont and the Comte de Guiche had returned to Paris and he was quite lonely. And as soon as he saw the two cavaliers he ran to them with open arms.

“Oh, is it you, dear friends? Did you come here to fetch me? Will you take me away with you? Do you bring me tidings of my guardian?”

“Have you not received any?” said D’Artagnan to the youth.

“Alas! sir, no, and I do not know what has become of him; so that I am really so unhappy that I weep.”

In fact, tears rolled down his cheeks.

Porthos turned aside, in order not to show by his honest round face what was passing in his mind.

“Deuce take it!” cried D’Artagnan, more moved than he had been for a long time, “don’t despair, my friend, if you have not received any letters from the count, we have received one.”

“Oh, really!” cried Raoul.

“And a comforting one, too,” added D’Artagnan, seeing the delight that his intelligence gave the young man.

“Have you it?” asked Raoul

“Yes--that is, I had it,” repined the Gascon, making believe to find it. “Wait, it ought to be there in my pocket; it speaks of his return, does it not, Porthos?”

All Gascon as he was, D’Artagnan could not bear alone the weight of that falsehood.

“Yes,” replied Porthos, coughing.

“Eh, give it to me!” said the young man.

“Eh! I read it a little while since. Can I have lost it? Ah! confound it! yes, my pocket has a hole in it.”

“Oh, yes, Monsieur Raoul!” said Mousqueton, “the letter was very consoling. These gentlemen read it to me and I wept for joy.”

“But at any rate, you know where he is, Monsieur d’Artagnan?” asked Raoul, somewhat comforted.

“Ah! that’s the thing!” replied the Gascon. “Undoubtedly I know it, but it is a mystery.”

“Not to me, I hope?”

“No, not to you, so I am going to tell you where he is.”

Porthos devoured D’Artagnan with wondering eyes.

“Where the devil shall I say that he is, so that he cannot try to rejoin him?” thought D’Artagnan.

“Well, where is he, sir?” asked Raoul, in a soft and coaxing voice.

“He is at Constantinople.”

“Among the Turks!” exclaimed Raoul, alarmed. “Good heavens! how can you tell me that?”

“Does that alarm you?” cried D’Artagnan. “Pooh! what are the Turks to such men as the Comte de la Fere and the Abbe d’Herblay?”

“Ah, his friend is with him?” said Raoul. “That comforts me a little.”

“Has he wit or not--this demon D’Artagnan?” said Porthos, astonished at his friend’s deception.

“Now, sir,” said D’Artagnan, wishing to change the conversation, “here are fifty pistoles that the count has sent you by the same courier. I suppose you have no more money and that they will be welcome.”

“I have still twenty pistoles, sir.”

“Well, take them; that makes seventy.”

“And if you wish for more,” said Porthos, putting his hand to his pocket----

“Thank you, sir,” replied Raoul, blushing; “thank you a thousand times.”

At this moment Olivain appeared. “Apropos,” said D’Artagnan, loud enough for the servant to hear him, “are you satisfied with Olivain?”

“Yes, in some respects, tolerably well.”

Olivain pretended to have heard nothing and entered the tent.

“What fault do you find with the fellow?”

“He is a glutton.”

“Oh, sir!” cried Olivain, reappearing at this accusation.

“And a little bit of a thief.”

“Oh, sir! oh!”

“And, more especially, a notorious coward.”

“Oh, oh! sir! you really vilify me!” cried Olivain.

“The deuce!” cried D’Artagnan. “Pray learn, Monsieur Olivain, that people like us are not to be served by cowards. Rob your master, eat his sweetmeats, and drink his wine; but, by Jove! don’t be a coward, or I shall cut off your ears. Look at Monsieur Mouston, see the honorable wounds he has received, observe how his habitual valor has given dignity to his countenance.”

Mousqueton was in the third heaven and would have embraced D’Artagnan had he dared; meanwhile he resolved to sacrifice his life for him on the next occasion that presented itself.

“Send away that fellow, Raoul,” said the Gascon; “for if he’s a coward he will disgrace thee some day.”

“Monsieur says I am coward,” cried Olivain, “because he wanted the other day to fight a cornet in Grammont’s regiment and I refused to accompany him.”

“Monsieur Olivain, a lackey ought never to disobey,” said D’Artagnan, sternly; then taking him aside, he whispered to him: “Thou hast done right; thy master was in the wrong; here’s a crown for thee, but should he ever be insulted and thou dost not let thyself be cut in quarters for him, I will cut out thy tongue. Remember that.”

Olivain bowed and slipped the crown into his pocket.

“And now, Raoul,” said the Gascon, “Monsieur du Vallon and I are going away as ambassadors, where, I know not; but should you want anything, write to Madame Turquaine, at La Chevrette, Rue Tiquetonne and draw upon her purse as on a banker--with economy; for it is not so well filled as that of Monsieur d’Emery.”

And having, meantime, embraced his ward, he passed him into the robust arms of Porthos, who lifted him up from the ground and held him a moment suspended near the noble heart of the formidable giant.

“Come,” said D’Artagnan, “let us go.”

And they set out for Boulogne, where toward evening they arrived, their horses flecked with foam and dark with perspiration.

At ten steps from the place where they halted was a young man in black, who seemed waiting for some one, and who, from the moment he saw them enter the town, never took his eyes off them.

D’Artagnan approached him, and seeing him stare so fixedly, said:

“Well, friend! I don’t like people to quiz me!”

“Sir,” said the young man, “do you not come from Paris, if you please?”

D’Artagnan thought it was some gossip who wanted news from the capital.

“Yes, sir,” he said, in a softened tone.

“Are you not going to put up at the ‘Arms of England’?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Are you not charged with a mission from his eminence, Cardinal Mazarin?”

“Yes, sir.”

“In that case, I am the man you have to do with. I am M. Mordaunt.”

“Ah!” thought D’Artagnan, “the man I am warned against by Athos.”

“Ah!” thought Porthos, “the man Aramis wants me to strangle.”

They both looked searchingly at the young man, who misunderstood the meaning of that inquisition.

“Do you doubt my word?” he said. “In that case I can give you proofs.”

“No, sir,” said D’Artagnan; “and we place ourselves at your orders.”

“Well, gentlemen,” resumed Mordaunt, “we must set out without delay, to-day is the last day granted me by the cardinal. My ship is ready, and had you not come I must have set off without you, for General Cromwell expects my return impatiently.”

“So!” thought the lieutenant, “‘tis to General Cromwell that our dispatches are addressed.”

“Have you no letter for him?” asked the young man.

“I have one, the seal of which I am not to break till I reach London; but since you tell me to whom it is addressed, ‘tis useless to wait till then.”

D’Artagnan tore open the envelope of the letter. It was directed to “Monsieur Oliver Cromwell, General of the Army of the English Nation.”

“Ah!” said D’Artagnan; “a singular commission.”

“Who is this Monsieur Oliver Cromwell?” inquired Porthos.

“Formerly a brewer,” replied the Gascon.

“Perhaps Mazarin wishes to make a speculation in beer, as we did in straw,” said Porthos.

“Come, come, gentlemen,” said Mordaunt, impatiently, “let us depart.”

“What!” exclaimed Porthos “without supper? Cannot Monsieur Cromwell wait a little?”

“Yes, but I?” said Mordaunt.

“Well, you,” said Porthos, “what then?”

“I cannot wait.”

“Oh! as to you, that is not my concern, and I shall sup either with or without your permission.”

The young man’s eyes kindled in secret, but he restrained himself.

“Monsieur,” said D’Artagnan, “you must excuse famished travelers. Besides, our supper can’t delay you much. We will hasten on to the inn; you will meanwhile proceed on foot to the harbor. We will take a bite and shall be there as soon as you are.”

“Just as you please, gentlemen, provided we set sail,” he said.

“The name of your ship?” inquired D’Artagnan.

“The Standard.”

“Very well; in half an hour we shall be on board.”

And the friends, spurring on their horses, rode to the hotel, the “Arms of England.”

“What do you say of that young man?” asked D’Artagnan, as they hurried along.

“I say that he doesn’t suit me at all,” said Porthos, “and that I feel a strong itching to follow Aramis’s advice.”

“By no means, my dear Porthos; that man is a messenger of General Cromwell; it would insure for us a poor reception, I imagine, should it be announced to him that we had twisted the neck of his confidant.”

“Nevertheless,” said Porthos, “I have always noticed that Aramis gives good advice.”

“Listen,” returned D’Artagnan, “when our embassy is finished----”

“Well?”

“If it brings us back to France----”

“Well?”

“Well, we shall see.”

At that moment the two friends reached the hotel, “Arms of England,” where they supped with hearty appetite and then at once proceeded to the port.

There they found a brig ready to set sail, upon the deck of which they recognized Mordaunt walking up and down impatiently.

“It is singular,” said D’Artagnan, whilst the boat was taking them to the Standard, “it is astonishing how that young man resembles some one I must have known, but who it was I cannot yet remember.”

A few minutes later they were on board, but the embarkation of the horses was a longer matter than that of the men, and it was eight o’clock before they raised anchor.

The young man stamped impatiently and ordered all sail to be spread.

Porthos, completely used up by three nights without sleep and a journey of seventy leagues on horseback, retired to his cabin and went to sleep.

D’Artagnan, overcoming his repugnance to Mordaunt, walked with him upon the deck and invented a hundred stories to make him talk.

Mousqueton was seasick.