Part 13 out of 21
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," said he 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 nor hate monsieur le
surintendant. I find myself, therefore, in the same position
in which M. de 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 which 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
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 a month past only 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 being at the same time inclined to be a dreamer. He
had picked up, here and there, some scraps of M. de la
Rochefoucauld, 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,
he 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 the post and purchased a bidet of the meanest
appearance, -- one of those animals which an officer of
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
it, 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-Isle-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, and 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
marquisate, 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 that 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-en-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 tourteau, 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.
How D'Artagnan became acquainted with a Poet, who had
turned Printer for the sake of printing his own Verses
Before taking his place at table, D'Artagnan acquired, as
was his custom, all the information he could; but it is an
axiom of curiosity, that every man who wishes to question
well and fruitfully ought in the first place to lay himself
open to questions. D'Artagnan sought, then, with his usual
skill, a promising questioner in the hostelry of La
Roche-Bernard. At the moment, there were in the house, on
the first story, two travelers either preparing for supper,
or at supper itself. D'Artagnan had seen their nags in the
stable, and their equipages in the salle. One traveled with
a lackey, undoubtedly a person of consideration; -- two
Perche mares, sleek, sound beasts, were suitable means of
locomotion. The other, a little fellow, a traveler of meagre
appearance, wearing a dusty surtout, dirty linen, and boots
more worn by the pavement than the stirrup, had come from
Nantes with a cart drawn by a horse so like Furet in color,
that D'Artagnan might have gone a hundred miles without
finding a better match. This cart contained divers large
packets wrapped in pieces of old stuff.
"That traveler yonder," said D'Artagnan to himself, "is the
man for my money. He will do, he suits me; I ought to do for
and suit him; M. Agnan, with the gray doublet and the rusty
calotte, is not unworthy of supping with the gentleman of
the old boots and still older horse."
This said, D'Artagnan called the host, and desired him to
send his teal, tourteau, and cider up to the chamber of the
gentleman of modest exterior. He himself climbed, a plate in
his hand, the wooden staircase which led to the chamber, and
began to knock at the door.
"Come in!" said the unknown. D'Artagnan entered, with a
simper on his lips, his plate under his arm, his hat in one
hand, his candle in the other.
"Excuse me, monsieur," said he, "I am, as you are, a
traveler; I know no one in the hotel, and I have the bad
habit of losing my spirits when I eat alone, so that my
repast appears a bad one to me, and does not nourish me.
Your face, which I saw just now, when you came down to have
some oysters opened, -- your face pleased me much. Besides,
I have observed you have a horse just like mine, and that
the host, no doubt on account of that resemblance, has
placed them side by side in the stable, where they appear to
agree amazingly well together. I therefore, monsieur, do not
see any reason why the masters should be separated when the
horses are united. Accordingly, I am come to request the
pleasure of being admitted to your table. My name is Agnan,
at your service, monsieur, the unworthy steward of a rich
seigneur, who wishes to purchase some salt-mines in this
country, and sends me to examine his future acquisitions. In
truth, monsieur, I should be well pleased if my countenance
were as agreeable to you as yours is to me; for, upon my
honor, I am quite at your service."
The stranger, whom D'Artagnan saw for the first time -- for
before he had only caught a glimpse of him, -- the stranger
had black and brilliant eyes, a yellow complexion, a brow a
little wrinkled by the weight of fifty years, bonhomie in
his features collectively, but some cunning in his look.
"One would say," thought D'Artagnan, "that this merry fellow
has never exercised more than the upper part of his head,
his eyes, and his brain. He must be a man of science: his
mouth, nose, and chin signify absolutely nothing."
"Monsieur," replied the latter, with whose mind and person
we have been making so free, "you do me much honor; not that
I am ever ennuye, for I have," added he, smiling, "a company
which amuses me always; but never mind that, I am very happy
to receive you." But when saying this, the man with the worn
boots cast an uneasy look at his table, from which the
oysters had disappeared, and upon which there was nothing
left but a morsel of salt bacon.
"Monsieur," D'Artagnan hastened to say, "the host is
bringing me up a pretty piece of roasted poultry and a
superb tourteau." D'Artagnan had read in the look of his
companion, however rapid it disappeared, the fear of an
attack by a parasite: he divined justly. At this opening,
the features of the man of modest exterior relaxed; and, as
if he had watched the moment for his entrance, as D'Artagnan
spoke, the host appeared, bearing the announced dishes. The
tourteau and the teal were added to the morsel of broiled
bacon; D'Artagnan and his guest bowed, sat down opposite to
each other, and, like two brothers, shared the bacon and the
"Monsieur," said D'Artagnan, "you must confess that
association is a wonderful thing."
"How so?" replied the stranger, with his mouth full.
"Well, I will tell you," replied D'Artagnan.
The stranger gave a short truce to the movement of his jaws,
in order to hear the better.
"In the first place," continued D'Artagnan, "instead of one
candle, which each of us had, we have two."
"That is true!" said the stranger, struck with the extreme
lucidity of the observation.
"Then I see that you eat my tourteau in preference, whilst
I, in preference, eat your bacon."
"That is true again."
"And then, in addition to being better lighted and eating
what we prefer, I place the pleasure of your company."
"Truly, monsieur, you are very jovial," said the unknown,
"Yes, monsieur; jovial, as all people are who carry nothing
on their minds, or, for that matter, in their heads. Oh! I
can see it is quite another sort of thing with you,"
continued D'Artagnan; "I can read in your eyes all sorts of
"Come, confess one thing."
"What is that?"
"That you are a learned man."
"Ma foi! monsieur."
"I am an author."
"There!" cried D'Artagnan, clapping his hands, "I knew I
could not be deceived! It is a miracle!"
"Monsieur ---- "
"What, shall I have the honor of passing the evening in the
society of an author, of a celebrated author perhaps?"
"Oh!" said the unknown, blushing, "celebrated, monsieur,
celebrated is not the word."
"Modest!" cried D'Artagnan, transported, "he is modest!"
Then, turning towards the stranger, with a character of
blunt bonhomie: "But tell me at least the name of your
works, monsieur; for you will please to observe you have not
told me your name, and I have been forced to divine your
"My name is Jupenet, monsieur," said the author.
"A fine name! a grand name! upon my honor; and I do not know
why -- pardon me the mistake, if it be one -- but surely I
have heard that name somewhere."
"I have made verses," said the poet modestly.
"Ah! that is it, then, I have heard them read."
"I must have seen it played."
The poet blushed again, and said: "I do not think that can
be the case, for my verses have never been printed."
"Well, then, it must have been the tragedy which informed me
of your name."
"You are again mistaken, for MM. the comedians of the Hotel
de Bourgogne, would have nothing to do with it," said the
poet, with a smile, the receipt for which certain sorts of
pride alone knew the secret. D'Artagnan bit his lips. "Thus,
then, you see, monsieur," continued the poet, "you are in
error on my account, and that not being at all known to you,
you have never heard tell of me."
"Ah! that confounds me. That name, Jupenet, appears to me,
nevertheless, a fine name, and quite as worthy of being
known as those of MM. Corneille, or Rotrou, or Garnier. I
hope, monsieur, you will have the goodness to repeat to me a
part of your tragedy presently, by way of dessert, for
instance. That will be sugared roast meat, -- mordioux! Ah!
pardon me, monsieur, that was a little oath which escaped
me, because it is a habit with my lord and master. I
sometimes allow myself to usurp that little oath, as it
seems in pretty good taste. I take this liberty only in his
absence, please to observe, for you may understand that in
his presence -- but, in truth, monsieur, this cider is
abominable; do you not think so? And besides, the pot is of
such an irregular shape it will not stand on the table."
"Suppose we were to make it level?"
"To be sure; but with what?"
"With this knife."
"And the teal, with what shall we cut that up? Do you not,
by chance, mean to touch the teal?"
"Well, then ---- "
And the poet rummaged in his pocket, and drew out a piece of
brass, oblong, quadrangular, about a line in thickness, and
an inch and a half in length. But scarcely had this little
piece of brass seen the light, than the poet appeared to
have committed an imprudence, and made a movement to put it
back again in his pocket. D'Artagnan perceived this, for he
was a man that nothing escaped. He stretched forth his hand
towards the piece of brass: "Humph! that which you hold in
your hand is pretty; will you allow me to look at it?"
"Certainly," said the poet, who appeared to have yielded too
soon to a first impulse. "Certainly, you may look at it: but
it will be in vain for you to look at it," added he, with a
satisfied air; "if I were not to tell you its use, you would
never guess it."
D'Artagnan had seized as an avowal the hesitation of the
poet, and his eagerness to conceal the piece of brass which
a first movement had induced him to take out of his pocket.
His attention, therefore, once awakened on this point, he
surrounded himself with a circumspection which gave him a
superiority on all occasions. Besides, whatever M. Jupenet
might say about it, by a simple inspection of the object, he
perfectly well knew what it was. It was a character in
"Can you guess, now, what this is?" continued the poet.
"No," said D'Artagnan, "no, ma foi!"
"Well, monsieur," said M. Jupenet, "this little piece of
metal is a printing letter."
"Stop, stop, stop;" said D'Artagnan, opening his eyes very
"Yes, monsieur, a capital; the first letter of my name."
"And this is a letter, is it?"
"Well, I will confess one thing to you.
"And what is that?"
"No, I will not, I was going to say something stupid."
"No, no," said Master Jupenet, with a patronizing air.
"Well then, I cannot comprehend, if that is a letter, how
you can make a word."
"Yes, a printed word."
"Oh, that's very easy."
"Let me see."
"Does it interest you?"
"Well, I will explain the thing to you. Attend."
"I am attending."
"That is it."
"I am looking." D'Artagnan, in fact, appeared absorbed in
observations. Jupenet drew from his pocket seven or eight
other pieces of brass smaller than the first.
"Ah, ah," said D'Artagnan.
"You have, then, a whole printing-office in your pocket.
Peste! that is curious, indeed."
"Is it not?"
"Good God, what a number of things we learn by traveling."
"To your health!" said Jupenet, quite enchanted.
"To yours, mordioux, to yours. But -- an instant -- not in
this cider. It is an abominable drink, unworthy of a man who
quenches his thirst at the Hippocrene fountain -- is not it
so you call your fountain, you poets?"
"Yes, monsieur, our fountain is so called. That comes from
two Greek words -- hippos, which means a horse, and ---- "
"Monsieur," interrupted D'Artagnan, "you shall drink of a
liquor which comes from one single French word, and is none
the worse for that -- from the word grape; this cider gives
me the heartburn. Allow me to inquire of your host if there
is not a good bottle of Beaugency, or of the Ceran growth,
at the back of the large bins in his cellar."
The host, being sent for, immediately attended.
"Monsieur," interrupted the poet, "take care, we shall not
have time to drink the wine, unless we make great haste, for
I must take advantage of the tide to secure the boat."
"What boat?" asked D'Artagnan.
"Why the boat which sets out for Belle-Isle!"
"Ah -- for Belle-Isle," said the musketeer, "that is good."
"Bah! you will have plenty of time, monsieur," replied the
hotelier, uncorking the bottle, "the boat will not leave
"But who will give me notice?" said the poet.
"Your fellow-traveler," replied the host.
"But I scarcely know him."
"When you hear him departing, it will be time for you to
"Is he going to Belle-Isle, likewise, then?"
"The traveler who has a lackey?" asked D'Artagnan. "He is
some gentleman, no doubt?"
"I know nothing of him."
"What! -- know nothing of him?"
"No, all I know is, that he is drinking the same wine as
"Peste! -- that is a great honor for us," said D'Artagnan,
filling his companion's glass, whilst the host went out.
"So," resumed the poet, returning to his dominant ideas,
"you never saw any printing done?"
"Well, then, take the letters thus, which compose the word,
you see: A B; ma foi! here is an R, two E E, then a G." And
he assembled the letters with a swiftness and skill which
did not escape the eye of D'Artagnan.
"Abrege," said he, as he ended.
"Good!" said D'Artagnan; "here are plenty of letters got
together; but how are they kept so?" And he poured out a
second glass for the poet. M. Jupenet smiled like a man who
has an answer for everything; then he pulled out -- still
from his pocket -- a little metal ruler, composed of two
parts, like a carpenter's rule, against which he put
together, and in a line, the characters, holding them under
his left thumb.
"And what do you call that little metal ruler?" said
D'Artagnan, "for, I suppose, all these things have names."
"This is called a composing-stick," said Jupenet; "it is by
the aid of this stick that the lines are formed."
"Come, then, I was not mistaken in what I said; you have a
press in your pocket," said D'Artagnan, laughing with an air
of simplicity so stupid, that the poet was completely his
"No," replied he; "but I am too lazy to write, and when I
have a verse in my head, I print it immediately. That is a
"Mordioux!" thought D'Artagnan to himself, "this must be
cleared up." And under a pretext, which did not embarrass
the musketeer, who was fertile in expedients, he left the
table, went downstairs, ran to the shed under which stood
the poet's little cart, poked the point of his poniard into
the stuff which enveloped one of the packages, which he
found full of types, like those which the poet had in his
"Humph!" said D'Artagnan, "I do not yet know whether M.
Fouquet wishes to fortify Belle-Isle; but, at all events,
here are some spiritual munitions for the castle." Then,
enchanted with his rich discovery he ran upstairs again, and
resumed his place at the table.
D'Artagnan had learnt what he wished to know. He, however,
remained, none the less, face to face with his partner, to
the moment when they heard from the next room symptoms of a
person's being about to go out. The printer was immediately
on foot; he had given orders for his horse to be got ready.
His carriage was waiting at the door. The second traveler
got into his saddle, in the courtyard, with his lackey.
D'Artagnan followed Jupenet to the door; he embarked his
cart and horse on board the boat. As to the opulent
traveler, he did the same with his two horses and servant.
But all the wit D'Artagnan employed in endeavoring to find
out his name was lost -- he could learn nothing. Only he
took such notice of his countenance, that it was impressed
upon his mind forever. D'Artagnan had a great inclination to
embark with the two travelers, but an interest more powerful
than curiosity -- that of success -- repelled him from the
shore, and brought him back again to the hostelry. He
entered with a sigh and went to bed directly in order to be
ready early in the morning with fresh ideas and the sage
counsel of sufficing sleep.
D'Artagnan continues his Investigations
At daybreak D'Artagnan saddled Furet, who had fared
sumptuously all night, devouring the remainder of the oats
and hay left by his companions. The musketeer sifted all he
possibly could out of the host, whom he found cunning,
mistrustful, and devoted, body and soul, to M. Fouquet. In
order not to awaken the suspicions of this man, he carried
on his fable of being a probable purchaser of some
salt-mines. To have embarked for Belle-Isle at Roche-Bernard
would have been to expose himself still further to comments
which had, perhaps, been already made, and would be carried
to the castle. Moreover, it was singular that this traveler
and his lackey should have remained a mystery to D'Artagnan,
in spite of all the questions addressed by him to the host,
who appeared to know him perfectly well. The musketeer then
made some inquiries concerning the salt-mines, and took the
road to the marshes, leaving the sea on his right, and
penetrating into that vast and desolate plain which
resembles a sea of mud, of which, here and there, a few
crests of salt silver the undulations. Furet walked
admirably, with his little nervous legs, along the foot-wide
causeways which separate the salt-mines. D'Artagnan, aware
of the consequences of a fall, which would result in a cold
bath, allowed him to go as he liked, contenting himself with
looking at, on the horizon, three rocks, that rose up like
lance-blades from the bosom of the plain, destitute of
verdure. Pirial, the bourgs of Batz and Le Croisic, exactly
resembling each other, attracted and suspended his
attention. If the traveler turned round, the better to make
his observations, he saw on the other side an horizon of
three other steeples, Guerande, Le Poulighen, and
Saint-Joachim, which, in their circumference, represented a
set of skittles, of which he and Furet were but the
wandering ball. Pirial was the first little port on his
right. He went thither, with the names of the principal
salters on his lips. At the moment he reached the little
port of Pirial, five large barges, laden with stone, were
leaving it. It appeared strange to D'Artagnan, that stones
should be leaving a country where none are found. He had
recourse to all the amenity of M. Agnan to learn from the
people of the port the cause of this singular arrangement.
An old fisherman replied to M. Agnan, that the stones very
certainly did not come from Pirial or the marshes.
"Where do they come from, then?" asked the musketeer.
"Monsieur, they come from Nantes and Painboeuf."
"Where are they going, then?"
"Monsieur, to Belle-Isle."
"Ah! ah!" said D'Artagnan, in the same tone he had assumed
to tell the printer that his character interested him; "are
they building at Belle-Isle, then?"
"Why, yes, monsieur, M. Fouquet has the walls of the castle
repaired every year."
"Is it in ruins, then?"
"It is old."
"The fact is," said D'Artagnan to himself, "nothing is more
natural; every proprietor has a right to repair his own
property. It would be like telling me I was fortifying the
Image-de-Notre-Dame, when I was simply obliged to make
repairs. In good truth, I believe false reports have been
made to his majesty, and he is very likely to be in the
"You must confess," continued he then, aloud, and addressing
the fisherman -- for his part of a suspicious man was
imposed upon him by the object even of his mission -- "you
must confess, my dear monsieur, that these stones travel in
a very curious fashion."
"How so?" said the fisherman
"They come from Nantes or Painboeuf by the Loire, do they
"With the tide."
"That is convenient, -- I don't say it is not, but why do
they not go straight from Saint-Nazaire to Belle-Isle?"
"Eh! because the chalands (barges) are fresh-water boats,
and take the sea badly," replied, the fisherman.
"That is not sufficient reason."
"Pardon me, monsieur, one may see that you have never been a
sailor, added the fisherman, not without a sort of disdain.
"Explain that to me, if you please, my good man. It appears
to me that to come from Painboeuf to Pirial, and go from
Pirial to Belle-Isle, is as if we went from Roche-Bernard to
Nantes, and from Nantes to Pirial."
"By water that would be the nearest way," replied the
"But there is an elbow?"
The fisherman shook his head.
"The shortest road from one place to another is a straight
line," continued D'Artagnan.
"You forget the tide, monsieur."
"Well! take the tide."
"And the wind."
"Well, and the wind."
"Without doubt, the current of the Loire carries barks
almost as far as Croisic. If they want to lie by a little,
or to refresh the crew, they come to Pirial along the coast;
from Pirial they find another inverse current, which carries
them to the Isle-Dumal, two leagues and a half."
"There the current of the Vilaine throws them upon another
isle, the isle of Hoedic."
"I agree with that."
"Well, monsieur, from that isle to Belle-Isle the way is
quite straight. The sea broken both above and below, passes
like a canal -- like a mirror between the two isles; the
chalands glide along upon it like ducks upon the Loire;
that's how it is."
"It does not signify," said the obstinate M. Agnan; "it is a
long way round."
"Ah! yes; but M. Fouquet will have it so," replied, as
conclusive, the fisherman, taking off his woolen cap at the
enunciation of that respected name.
A look from D'Artagnan, a look as keen and piercing as a
sword-blade, found nothing in the heart of the old man but
simple confidence -- on his features, nothing but
satisfaction and indifference. He said, "M. Fouquet will
have it so," as he would have said, "God has willed it."
D'Artagnan had already advanced too far in this direction;
besides, the chalands being gone, there remained nothing at
Pirial but a single bark -- that of the old man, and it did
not look fit for sea without great preparation. D'Artagnan
therefore patted Furet, who as a new proof of his charming
character, resumed his march with his feet in the
salt-mines, and his nose to the dry wind, which bends the
furze and the broom of this country. They reached Croisic
about five o'clock.
If D'Artagnan had been a poet, it was a beautiful spectacle:
the immense strand of a league or more, the sea covers at
high tide, and which, at the reflux, appears gray and
desolate, strewed with polypi and seaweed, with pebbles
sparse and white, like bones in some vast old cemetery. But
the soldier, the politician, and the ambitious man, had no
longer the sweet consolation of looking towards heaven to
read there a hope or a warning. A red sky signifies nothing
to such people but wind and disturbance. White and fleecy
clouds upon the azure only say that the sea will be smooth
and peaceful. D'Artagnan found the sky blue, the breeze
embalmed with saline perfumes, and he said: "I will embark
with the first tide, if it be but in a nutshell."
At Croisic as at Pirial, he had remarked enormous heaps of
stone lying along the shore. These gigantic walls,
diminished every tide by the barges for Belle-Isle were, in
the eyes of the musketeer, the consequence and the proof of
what he had well divined at Pirial. Was it a wall that M.
Fouquet was constructing? Was it a fortification that he was
erecting? To ascertain that he must make fuller
observations. D'Artagnan put Furet into a stable; supped,
went to bed, and on the morrow took a walk upon the port or
rather upon the shingle. Le Croisic has a port of fifty
feet, it has a look-out which resembles an enormous brioche
(a kind of cake) elevated on a dish. The flat strand is the
dish. Hundreds of barrowsful of earth amalgamated with
pebbles, and rounded into cones, with sinuous. passages
between, are look-outs and brioches at the same time.
It is so now, and it was so two hundred years ago, only the
brioche was not so large, and probably there were to be seen
no trellises of lath around the brioche, which constitute an
ornament, planted like gardes-fous along the passages that
wind towards the little terrace. Upon the shingle lounged
three or four fishermen talking about sardines and shrimps.
D'Artagnan, with his eyes animated by rough gayety, and a
smile upon his lips, approached these fishermen.
"Any fishing going on to-day?" said he.
"Yes, monsieur," replied one of them, "we are only waiting
for the tide."
"Where do you fish, my friends?"
"Upon the coasts, monsieur."
"Which are the best coasts?"
"Ah, that is all according. The tour of the isles, for
"Yes, but they are a long way off, those isles, are they
"Not very; four leagues."
"Four leagues! That is a voyage."
The fisherman laughed in M. Agnan's face.
"Hear me, then," said the latter with an air of simple
stupidity; four leagues off you lose sight of land, do you
"Why, not always."
"Ah, it is a long way -- too long, or else I would have
asked you to take me aboard, and to show me what I have
"What is that?"
"A live sea-fish."
"Monsieur comes from the province?" said a fisherman.
"Yes, I come from Paris."
The Breton shrugged his shoulders; then:
"Have you ever seen M. Fouquet in Paris?" asked he.
"Often," replied D'Artagnan.
"Often!" repeated the fishermen, closing their circle round
the Parisian. "Do you know him?"
"A little, he is the intimate friend of my master."
"Ah!" said the fisherman, in astonishment.
"And," said D'Artagnan, "I have seen all his chateaux of
Saint-Mande, of Vaux, and his hotel in Paris."
"Is that a fine place?"
"It is not so fine a place as Belle-Isle," said the
"Bah!" cried M. d'Artagnan, breaking into a laugh so loud
that he angered all his auditors.
"It is very plain that you have never seen Belle-Isle," said
the most curious of the fishermen. "Do you know that there
are six leagues of it, and that there are such trees on it
as cannot be equaled even at Nantes-sur-le-Fosse?"
"Trees in the sea!" cried D'Artagnan; "well, I should like
to see them."
"That can be easily done; we are fishing at the Isle de
Hoedic -- come with us. From that place you will see, as a
Paradise, the black trees of Belle-Isle against the sky; you
will see the white line of the castle, which cuts the
horizon of the sea like a blade."
"Oh," said D'Artagnan, "that must be very beautiful. But do
you know there are a hundred belfries at M. Fouquet's
chateau of Vaux?"
The Breton raised his head in profound admiration, but he
was not convinced. "A hundred belfries! Ah that may be, but
Belle-Isle is finer than that. Should you like to see
"Is that possible?" asked D'Artagnan.
"Yes, with permission of the governor."
"But I do not know the governor."
"As you know M. Fouquet, you can tell your name."
"Oh, my friends, I am not a gentleman."
"Everybody enters Belle-Isle," continued the fisherman in
his strong, pure language, "provided he means no harm to
Belle-Isle or its master."
A slight shudder crept over the body of the musketeer.
"That is true," thought he. Then recovering himself, "If I
were sure," said he, "not to be sea-sick."
"What, upon her?" said the fisherman, pointing with pride to
his pretty round-bottomed bark.
"Well, you almost persuade me," cried M. Agnan; "I will go
and see Belle-Isle, but they will not admit me."
"We shall enter, safe enough."
"You! What for?"
"Why, dame! to sell fish to the corsairs."
"Ha! Corsairs -- what do you mean?"
"Well, I mean that M. Fouquet is having two corsairs built
to chase the Dutch and the English, and we sell our fish to
the crews of those little vessels."
"Come, come!" said D'Artagnan to himself -- "better and
better. A printing-press, bastions, and corsairs! Well, M.
Fouquet is not an enemy to be despised, as I presumed to
fancy. He is worth the trouble of traveling to see him
"We set out at half-past five," said the fisherman gravely.
"I am quite ready, and I will not leave you now." So
D'Artagnan saw the fishermen haul their barks to meet the
tide with a windlass. The sea rose, M. Agnan allowed himself
to be hoisted on board, not without sporting a little fear
and awkwardness, to the amusement of the young beach-urchins
who watched him with their large intelligent eyes. He laid
himself down upon a folded sail, not interfering with
anything whilst the bark prepared for sea; and, with its
large, square sail, it was fairly out within two hours. The
fishermen, who prosecuted their occupation as they
proceeded, did not perceive that their passenger had not
become pale, neither groaned nor suffered; that in spite of
that horrible tossing and rolling of the bark, to which no
hand imparted direction, the novice passenger had preserved
his presence of mind and his appetite. They fished, and
their fishing was sufficiently fortunate. To lines bated
with prawn, soles came, with numerous gambols, to bite. Two
nets had already been broken by the immense weight of
congers and haddocks; three sea-eels plowed the hold with
their slimy folds and their dying contortions. D'Artagnan
brought them good luck; they told him so. The soldier found
the occupation so pleasant, that he put his hand to the work
-- that is to say, to the lines -- and uttered roars of joy,
and mordioux enough to have astonished his musketeers
themselves every time that a shock given to his line by the
captured fish required the play of the muscles of his arm,
and the employment of his best dexterity. The party of
pleasure had made him forget his diplomatic mission. He was
struggling with a very large conger, and holding fast with
one hand to the side of the vessel, in order to seize with
the other the gaping jowl of his antagonist, when the master
said to him, "Take care they don't see you from Belle-Isle!"
These words produced the same effect upon D'Artagnan as the
hissing of the first bullet on a day of battle; he let go of
both line and conger, which, dragging each other, returned
again to the water. D'Artagnan perceived, within half a
league at most, the blue and marked profile of the rocks of
Belle-Isle, dominated by the majestic whiteness of the
castle. In the distance, the land with its forests and
verdant plains; cattle on the grass. This was what first
attracted the attention of the musketeer. The sun darted its
rays of gold upon the sea, raising a shining mist round this
enchanted isle. Little could be seen of it, owing to this
dazzling light, but the salient points; every shadow was
strongly marked, and cut with bands of darkness the luminous
fields and walls. "Eh! eh!" said D'Artagnan, at the aspect
of those masses of black rocks, "these are fortifications
which do not stand in need of any engineer to render a
landing difficult. How the devil can a landing be effected
on that isle which God has defended so completely?"
"This way," replied the patron of the bark, changing the
sail, and impressing upon the rudder a twist which turned
the boat in the direction of a pretty little port, quite
coquettish, round, and newly battlemented.
"What the devil do I see yonder?" said D'Artagnan.
"You see Leomaria," replied the fisherman.
"Well, but there?"
"That is Bragos."
"And further on?"
"Sanger, and then the palace."
"Mordioux! It is a world. Ah! there are some soldiers."
"There are seventeen hundred men in Belle-Isle, monsieur,"
replied the fisherman, proudly. "Do you know that the least
garrison is of twenty companies of infantry?"
"Mordioux!" cried D'Artagnan, stamping with his foot. "His
Majesty was right enough."
In which the Reader, no doubt, will be as astonished
as D'Artagnan was to meet an Old Acquaintance
There is always something in a landing, if it be only from
the smallest sea-boat -- a trouble and a confusion which do
not leave the mind the liberty of which it stands in need in
order to study at the first glance the new locality
presented to it. The movable bridges, the agitated sailors,
the noise of the water on the pebbles, the cries and
importunities of those who wait upon the shores, are
multiplied details of that sensation which is summed up in
one single result -- hesitation. It was not, then, till
after standing several minutes on the shore that D'Artagnan
saw upon the port, but more particularly in the interior of
the isle, an immense number of workmen in motion. At his
feet D'Artagnan recognized the five chalands laden with
rough stone he had seen leave the port of Pirial. The
smaller stones were transported to the shore by means of a
chain formed by twenty-five or thirty peasants. The large
stones were loaded on trollies which conveyed them in the
same direction as the others, that is to say, towards the
works of which D'Artagnan could as yet appreciate neither
the strength nor the extent. Everywhere was to be seen an
activity equal to that which Telemachus observed on his
landing at Salentum. D'Artagnan felt a strong inclination to
penetrate into the interior; but he could not, under the
penalty of exciting mistrust, exhibit too much curiosity. He
advanced then little by little, scarcely going beyond the
line formed by the fishermen on the beach, observing
everything, saying nothing, and meeting all suspicion that
might have been excited with a half-silly question or a
polite bow. And yet, whilst his companions carried on their
trade, giving or selling their fish to the workmen or the
inhabitants of the city, D'Artagnan had gained ground by
degrees, and, reassured by the little attention paid to him,
he began to cast an intelligent and confident look upon the
men and things that appeared before his eyes. And his very
first glance fell on certain movements of earth about which
the eye of a soldier could not be mistaken. At the two
extremities of the port, in order that their fires should
converge upon the great axis of the ellipsis formed by the
basin, in the first place, two batteries had been raised,
evidently destined to receive flank pieces, for D'Artagnan
saw the workmen finishing the platform and making ready the
demi-circumference in wood upon which the wheels of the
pieces might turn to embrace every direction over the
epaulement. By the side of each of these batteries other
workmen were strengthening gabions filled with earth, the
lining of another battery. The latter had embrasures, and
the overseer of the works called successively men who, with
cords, tied the saucissons and cut the lozenges and right
angles of turfs destined to retain the matting of the
embrasures. By the activity displayed in these works,
already so far advanced, they might be considered as
finished: they were not yet furnished with their cannons,
but the platforms had their gites and their madriers all
prepared; the earth, beaten carefully, was consolidated; and
supposing the artillery to be on the island, in less than
two or three days the port might be completely armed. That
which astonished D'Artagnan, when he turned his eyes from
the coast batteries to the fortifications of the city, was
to see that Belle-Isle was defended by an entirely new
system, of which he had often heard the Comte de la Fere
speak as a wonderful advance, but of which he had as yet
never seen the application. These fortifications belonged
neither to the Dutch method of Marollais, nor to the French
method of the Chevalier Antoine de Ville, but to the system
of Manesson Mallet, a skillful engineer, who about six or
eight years previously had quitted the service of Portugal
to enter that of France. The works had this peculiarity,
that instead of rising above the earth, as did the ancient
ramparts destined to defend a city from escalades, they, on
the contrary, sank into it; and what created the height of
the walls was the depth of the ditches. It did not take long
to make D'Artagnan perceive the superiority of such a
system, which gives no advantage to cannon. Besides, as the
fosses were lower than, or on a level with the sea, these
fosses could be instantly inundated by means of subterranean
sluices. Otherwise, the works were almost complete, and a
group of workmen, receiving orders from a man who appeared
to be conductor of the works, were occupied in placing the
last stones. A bridge of planks thrown over the fosses for
the greater convenience of the maneuvers connected with the
barrows, joined the interior to the exterior. With an air of
simple curiosity D'Artagnan asked if he might be permitted
to cross the bridge, and he was told that no order prevented
it. Consequently he crossed the bridge, and advanced towards
This group was superintended by the man whom D'Artagnan had
already remarked, and who appeared to be the
engineer-in-chief. A plan was lying open before him upon a
large stone forming a table, and at some paces from him a
crane was in action. This engineer, who by his evident
importance first attracted the attention of D'Artagnan, wore
a justaucorps, which, from its sumptuousness was scarcely in
harmony with the work he was employed in, that rather
necessitated the costume of a master-mason than of a noble.
He was a man of immense stature and great square shoulders,
and wore a hat covered with feathers. He gesticulated in the
most majestic manner, and appeared, for D'Artagnan only saw
his back, to be scolding the workmen for their idleness and
want of strength.
D'Artagnan continued to draw nearer. At that moment the man
with the feathers ceased to gesticulate, and, with his hands
placed upon his knees, was following, half-bent, the effort
of six workmen to raise a block of hewn stone to the top of
a piece of timber destined to support that stone, so that
the cord of the crane might be passed under it. The six men,
all on one side of the stone, united their efforts to raise
it to eight or ten inches from the ground, sweating and
blowing, whilst a seventh got ready against there should be
daylight enough beneath it to slide in the roller that was
to support it. But the stone had already twice escaped from
their hands before gaining a sufficient height for the
roller to be introduced. There can be no doubt that every
time the stone escaped them, they bounded quickly backwards,
to keep their feet from being crushed by the refalling
stone. Every time, the stone, abandoned by them, sunk deeper
into the damp earth, which rendered the operation more and
more difficult. A third effort was followed by no better
success, but with progressive discouragement. And yet, when
the six men were bent towards the stone, the man with the
feathers had himself, with a powerful voice, given the word
of command, "Ferme!" which regulates maneuvers of strength.
Then he drew himself up.
"Oh! oh!" said he, "what is all this about? Have I to do
with men of straw? Corne de boeuf! stand on one side, and
you shall see how this is to be done."
"Peste!" said D'Artagnan, "will he pretend to raise that
rock? that would be a sight worth looking at."
The workmen, as commanded by the engineer, drew back with
their ears down, and shaking their heads, with the exception
of the one who held the plank, who prepared to perform the
office. The man with the feathers went up to the stone,
stooped, slipped his hands under the face lying upon the
ground, stiffened his Herculean muscles, and without a
strain, with a slow motion, like that of a machine, he
lifted the end of the rock a foot from the ground. The
workman who held the plank profited by the space thus given
him, and slipped the roller under the stone.
"That's the way," said the giant, not letting the rock fall
again, but placing it upon its support.
"Mordioux!" cried D'Artagnan, "I know but one man capable of
such a feat of strength."
"Hein!" cried the colossus, turning round.
"Porthos!" murmured D'Artagnan, seized with stupor, "Porthos
On his part, the man with the feathers fixed his eyes upon
the disguised lieutenant, and, in spite of his
metamorphosis, recognized him. "D'Artagnan!" cried he; and
the color mounted to his face. "Hush!" said he to
"Hush!" in his turn, said the musketeer. In fact if Porthos
had just been discovered by D'Artagnan, D'Artagnan had just
been discovered by Porthos. The interest of the particular
secret of each struck them both at the same instant.
Nevertheless the first movement of the two men was to throw
their arms around each other. What they wished to conceal
from the bystanders, was not their friendship, but their
names. But, after the embrace, came reflection.
"What the devil brings Porthos to Belle-Isle, lifting
stones?" said D'Artagnan; only D'Artagnan uttered that
question in a low voice. Less strong in diplomacy than his
friend, Porthos thought aloud.
"How the devil did you come to Belle-Isle?" asked he of
D'Artagnan; "and what do you want to do here?" It was
necessary to reply without hesitation. To hesitate in his
answer to Porthos would have been a check, for which the
self-love of D'Artagnan would never have consoled itself.
"Pardieu! my friend, I am at Belle-Isle because you are."
"Ah, bah!" said Porthos, visibly stupefied with the
argument, and seeking to account for it to himself, with the
felicity of deduction we know to be peculiar to him.
"Without doubt," continued D'Artagnan, unwilling to give his
friend time to recollect himself, "I have been to see you at
"And you did not find me there?"
"No, but I found Mouston."
"Is he well?"
"Well, but Mouston did not tell you I was here."
"Why should he not Have I, perchance, deserved to lose his
"No, but he did not know it."
"Well; that is a reason at least that does not offend my
"Then how did you manage to find me?"
"My dear friend, a great noble like you always leaves traces
behind him on his passage; and I should think but poorly of
myself, if I were not sharp enough to follow the traces of
my friends." This explanation, flattering as it was, did not
entirely satisfy Porthos.
"But I left no traces behind me, for I came here disguised,"
"Ah! You came disguised did you?" said D'Artagnan.
"As a miller."
"And do you think a great noble, like you, Porthos, can
affect common manners so as to deceive people?"
"Well, I swear to you, my friend, that I played my part so
well that everybody was deceived."
"Indeed! so well, that I have not discovered and joined
"Yes; but how did you discover and join me?"
"Stop a bit. I was going to tell you how. Do you imagine
Mouston ---- "
"Ah! it was that fellow, Mouston," said Porthos, gathering
up those two triumphant arches which served him for
"But stop, I tell you -- it was no fault of Mouston's
because he was ignorant of where you were."
"I know he was; and that is why I am in such haste to
understand ---- "
"Oh! how impatient you are, Porthos."
"When I do not comprehend, I am terrible."
"Well, you will understand. Aramis wrote to you at
Pierrefonds, did he not?"
"And he told you to come before the equinox."
"That is true."
"Well! that is it," said D'Artagnan, hoping that this reason
would mystify Porthos. Porthos appeared to give himself up
to a violent mental labor.
"Yes, yes," said he, "I understand. As Aramis told me to
come before the equinox, you have understood that that was
to join him. You then inquired where Aramis was, saying to
yourself, `Where Aramis is, there Porthos will be.' You have
learnt that Aramis was in Bretagne, and you said to
yourself, `Porthos is in Bretagne.'"
"Exactly. In good truth, Porthos I cannot tell why you have
not turned conjurer. So you understand that arriving at
Roche-Bernard, I heard of the splendid fortifications going
on at Belle-Isle. The account raised my curiosity, I
embarked in a fishing boat, without dreaming that you were
here: I came, and I saw a monstrous fine fellow lifting a
stone Ajax could not have stirred. I cried out, `Nobody but
the Baron de Bracieux could have performed such a feat of
strength.' You heard me, you turned round, you recognized
me, we embraced; and, ma foi! if you like, my dear friend,
we will embrace again."
"Ah! now all is explained," said Porthos; and he embraced
D'Artagnan with so much friendship as to deprive the
musketeer of his breath for five minutes.
"Why, you are stronger than ever," said D'Artagnan, "and
still, happily, in your arms." Porthos saluted D'Artagnan
with a gracious smile. During the five minutes D'Artagnan
was recovering his breath, he reflected that he had a very
difficult part to play. It was necessary that he always
should question and never reply. By the time his respiration
returned, he had fixed his plans for the campaign.
Wherein the Ideas of D'Artagnan, at first
strangely clouded, begin to clear up a little
D'Artagnan immediately took the offensive. Now that I have
told you all, dear friend, or rather now you have guessed
all, tell me what you are doing here, covered with dust and
Porthos wiped his brow, and looked around him with pride.
"Why, it appears," said he, "that you may see what I am
"No doubt, no doubt, you lift great stones."
"Oh! to show these idle fellows what a man is," said
Porthos, with contempt. "But you understand ---- "
"Yes, that it is not your place to lift stones, although
there are many whose place it is, who cannot lift them as
you do. It was that which made me ask you, just now, What
are you doing here, baron?"
"I am studying topography, chevalier."
"You are studying topography?"
"Yes; but you -- what are you doing in that common dress?"
D'Artagnan perceived he had committed a fault in giving
expression to his astonishment. Porthos had taken advantage
of it, to retort with a question. "Why," said he, "you know
I am a bourgeois, in fact; my dress, then, has nothing
astonishing in it, since it conforms with my condition."
"Nonsense! you are a musketeer."
"You are wrong, my friend; I have given in my resignation."
"Oh, mon Dieu! yes."
"And have you abandoned the service?"
"I have quitted it."
"You have abandoned the king?"
Porthos raised his arms towards heaven, like a man who has
heard extraordinary news. "Well, that does confound me,"
"It is nevertheless true."
"And what led you to form such a resolution?"
"The king displeased me. Mazarin had disgusted me for a long
time, as you know; so I threw my cassock to the nettles."
"But Mazarin is dead."
"I know that well enough, parbleu! Only, at the period of
his death, my resignation had been given in and accepted two
months. Then, feeling myself free, I set off for
Pierrefonds, to see my friend Porthos. I had heard talk of
the happy division you had made of your time, and I wished,
for a fortnight, to divide mine after your fashion."
"My friend, you know that it is not for a fortnight my house
is open to you; it is for a year -- for ten years -- for
"Thank you, Porthos."
"Ah! but perhaps you want money -- do you?" said Porthos,
making something like fifty louis chink in his pocket. "In
that case, you know ---- "
"No, thank you, I am not in want of anything. I placed my
savings with Planchet, who pays me the interest of them."
"Yes, to be sure," said D'Artagnan: "why should I not put by
my savings, as well as another, Porthos?"
"Oh, there is no reason why; on the contrary, I always
suspected you -- that is to say, Aramis always suspected you
to have savings. For my own part, d'ye see, I take no
concern about the management of my household; but I presume
the savings of a musketeer must be small."
"No doubt, relative to yourself, Porthos, who are a
millionaire; but you shall judge. I had laid by twenty-five
"That's pretty well," said Porthos, with an affable air.
"And," continued D'Artagnan, "on the twenty-eighth of last
month I added to it two hundred thousand livres more."
Porthos opened his large eyes, which eloquently demanded of
the musketeer, "Where the devil did you steal such a sum as
that, my dear friend?" "Two hundred thousand livres!" cried
he, at length.
"Yes; which, with the twenty-five I had, and twenty thousand
I have about me, complete the sum of two hundred and
forty-five thousand livres."
"But tell me, whence comes this fortune?"
"I will tell you all about it presently, dear friend; but as
you have, in the first place, many things to tell me
yourself, let us have my recital in its proper order."
"Bravo!" said Porthos, "then we are both rich. But what can
I have to relate to you?"
"You have to relate to me how Aramis came to be named ---- "
"Ah! bishop of Vannes."
"That's it " said D'Artagnan, "bishop of Vannes. Dear
Aramis! do you know how he succeeded so well?"
"Yes, yes; without reckoning that he does not mean to stop
"What! do you mean he will not be contented with violet
stockings, and that he wants a red hat?"
"Hush! that is promised him."
"Bah! by the king?"
"By somebody more powerful than the king."
"Ah! the devil! Porthos: what incredible things you tell me,
"Why incredible? Is there not always somebody in France more
powerful than the king?"
"Oh, yes; in the time of King Louis XIII. it was Cardinal
Richelieu; in the time of the Regency it was Cardinal
Mazarin. In the time of Louis XIV. it is M. ---- "
"It is M. Fouquet."
"Jove! you have hit it the first time."
"So, then, I suppose it is M. Fouquet who has promised
Aramis the red hat?"
Porthos assumed an air of reserve. "Dear friend," said he,
"God preserve me from meddling with the affairs of others,
above all from revealing secrets it may be to their interest
to keep. When you see Aramis, he will tell you all he thinks
he ought to tell you."
"You are right, Porthos; and you are quite a padlock for
safety. But, to revert to yourself?"
"Yes," said Porthos.
"You said just now you came hither to study topography?"
"I did so."
"Tudieu! my friend, what fine things you will do!"
"How do you mean?"
"Why, these fortifications are admirable."
"Is that your opinion?"
"Decidedly it is. In truth, to anything but a regular siege,
Belle-Isle is absolutely impregnable."
Porthos rubbed his hands. "That is my opinion," said he.
"But who the devil has fortified this paltry little place in
Porthos drew himself up proudly: "Did not I tell you who?"
"Do you not suspect?"
"No; all I can say is that he is a man who has studied all
the systems, and who appears to me to have stopped at the
"Hush!" said Porthos; "consider my modesty, my dear
"In truth," replied the musketeer, "can it be you -- who --
"Pray -- my dear friend ---- "
"You who have imagined, traced, and combined between these
bastions, these redans, these curtains, these half-moons;
and are preparing that covered way?"
"I beg you ---- "
"You who have built that lunette with its retiring angles
and its salient angles?"
"My friend ---- "
"You who have given that inclination to the openings of your
embrasures, by means of which you so effectively protect the
men who serve the guns?"
"Eh! mon Dieu! yes."
"Oh! Porthos, Porthos! I must bow down before you -- I must
admire you! But you have always concealed from us this
superb, this incomparable genius. I hope, my dear friend,
you will show me all this in detail."
"Nothing more easy. Here lies my original sketch, my plan."
"Show it me." Porthos led D'Artagnan towards the stone that
served him for a table, and upon which the plan was spread.
At the foot of the plan was written, in the formidable
writing of Porthos, writing of which we have already had
occasion to speak: --
"Instead of making use of the square or rectangle, as has
been done to this time, you will suppose your place inclosed
in a regular hexagon, this polygon having the advantage of
offering more angles than the quadrilateral one. Every side
of your hexagon, of which you will determine the length in
proportion to the dimensions taken upon the place, will be
divided into two parts and upon the middle point you will
elevate a perpendicular towards the center of the polygon,
which will equal in length the sixth part of the side. By
the extremities of each side of the polygon, you will trace
two diagonals, which will cut the perpendicular. These will
form the precise lines of your defense."
"The devil!" said D'Artagnan, stopping at this point of the
demonstration; "why, this is a complete system, Porthos."
"Entirely," said Porthos. "Continue."
"No; I have read enough of it; but, since it is you, my dear
Porthos, who direct the works, what need have you of setting
down your system so formally in writing?"
"Oh! my dear friend, death!"
"Why, we are all mortal, are we not?"
"That is true," said D'Artagnan; "you have a reply for
everything, my friend." And he replaced the plan upon the
But however short the time he had the plan in his hands,
D'Artagnan had been able to distinguish, under the enormous
writing of Porthos, a much more delicate hand, which
reminded him of certain letters to Marie Michon, with which
he had been acquainted in his youth. Only the India-rubber
had passed and repassed so often over this writing that it
might have escaped a less practiced eye than that of our
"Bravo! my friend, bravo!" said D'Artagnan.
"And now you know all that you want to know, do you not?"
said Porthos, wheeling about.
"Mordioux! yes, only do me one last favor, dear friend!"
"Speak, I am master here."
"Do me the pleasure to tell me the name of that gentleman
who is walking yonder."
"Behind the soldiers."
"Followed by a lackey?"
"In company with a mean sort of a fellow, dressed in black?"
"Yes, I mean him."
"That is M. Getard."
"And who is Getard, my friend?"
"He is the architect of the house."
"Of what house?"
"Of M. Fouquet's house."
"Ah! ah!" cried D'Artagnan, "you are of the household of M.
Fouquet, then, Porthos?"
"I! what do you mean by that?" said the topographer,
blushing to the top of his ears.
"Why, you say the house, when speaking of Belle-Isle, as if
you were speaking of the chateau of Pierrefonds."
Porthos bit his lips. "Belle-Isle, my friend," said he,
"belongs to M. Fouquet, does it not?"
"Yes, I believe so."
"As Pierrefonds belongs to me?"
"I told you I believed so; there are no two words to that."
"Did you ever see a man there who is accustomed to walk
about with a ruler in his hand?"
"No; but I might have seen him there, if he really walked
"Well, that gentleman is M. Boulingrin."
"Who is M. Boulingrin?"
"Now, we are coming to it. If, when this gentleman is
walking with a ruler in his hand, any one should ask me, --
`Who is M. Boulingrin?' I should reply: `He is the architect
of the house.' Well! M. Getard is the Boulingrin of M.
Fouquet. But he has nothing to do with the fortifications,
which are my department alone; do you understand? mine,
"Ah! Porthos," cried D'Artagnan, letting his arms fall as a
conquered man gives up his sword; "ah! my friend, you are
not only a herculean topographer, you are, still further, a
dialectician of the first water."
"Is it not powerfully reasoned?" said Porthos: and he puffed
and blew like the conger which D'Artagnan had let slip from
"And now," said D'Artagnan, "that shabby-looking man, who
accompanies M. Getard, is he also of the household of M.
"Oh! yes," said Porthos, with contempt; "it is one M.
Jupenet, or Juponet, a sort of poet."
"Who is come to establish himself here?"
"I believe so."
"I thought M. Fouquet had poets enough, yonder -- Scudery,
Loret, Pellisson, La Fontaine? If I must tell you the truth,
Porthos, that poet disgraces you."
"Eh! -- my friend; but what saves us is that he is not here
as a poet."
"As what, then, is he?"
"As printer. And you make me remember, I have a word to say
to the cuistre."
"Say it, then."
Porthos made a sign to Jupenet, who perfectly recollected
D'Artagnan, and did not care to come nearer; which naturally
produced another sign from Porthos. This was so imperative,
he was obliged to obey. As he approached, "Come hither!"
said Porthos. "You only landed yesterday and you have begun
your tricks already."
"How so, monsieur le baron?" asked Jupenet, trembling.
"Your press was groaning all night, monsieur," said Porthos,
"and you prevented my sleeping, corne de boeuf!"
"Monsieur ---- " objected Jupenet, timidly.
"You have nothing yet to print: therefore you have no
occasion to set your press going. What did you print last
"Monsieur, a light poem of my own composition."
"Light! no, no, monsieur; the press groaned pitifully
beneath it. Let it not happen again. Do you understand?"
"You promise me?"
"I do, monsieur!"
"Very well; this time I pardon you. Adieu!"
"Well, now we have combed that fellow's head, let us
"Yes," replied D'Artagnan, "let us breakfast."
"Only," said Porthos, "I beg you to observe, my friend, that
we have only two hours for our repast."
"What would you have? We will try to make two hours suffice.
But why have you only two hours?"
"Because it is high tide at one o'clock, and, with the tide,
I am going to Vannes. But, as I shall return tomorrow, my
dear friend, you can stay here; you shall be master, I have
a good cook and a good cellar."
"No," interrupted D'Artagnan, "better than that."
"You are going to Vannes, you say?"
"To a certainty."
"To see Aramis?"
"Well! I came from Paris on purpose to see Aramis."
"I will go with you then."
"Do; that's the thing."
"Only, I ought to have seen Aramis first, and you after. But
man proposes, and God disposes. I have begun with you, and
will finish with Aramis."
"And in how many hours can you go from here to Vannes?"
"Oh! pardieu! in six hours. Three hours by sea to Sarzeau,
three hours by road from Sarzeau to Vannes."
"How convenient that is! Being so near to the bishopric; do
you often go to Vannes?"
"Yes; once a week. But, stop till I get my plan."
Porthos picked up his plan, folded it carefully, and
engulfed it in his large pocket.
"Good!" said D'Artagnan aside; "I think I now know the real
engineer who is fortifying Belle-Isle."
Two hours after, at high tide, Porthos and D'Artagnan set
out for Sarzeau.
A Procession at Vannes
The passage from Belle-Isle to Sarzeau was made rapidly
enough, thanks to one of those little corsairs of which
D'Artagnan had been told during his voyage, and which,
shaped for fast sailing and destined for the chase, were
sheltered at that time in the roadstead of Loc-Maria, where
one of them, with a quarter of its war-crew, performed duty
between Belle-Isle and the continent. D'Artagnan had an
opportunity of convincing himself that Porthos, though
engineer and topographer, was not deeply versed in affairs
of state. His perfect ignorance, with any other, might have
passed for well-informed dissimulation. But D'Artagnan knew
too well all the folds and refolds of his Porthos, not to
find a secret if there were one there; like those regular,
minute old bachelors, who know how to find, with their eyes
shut, each book on the shelves of their library and each
piece of linen in their wardrobe. So if he had found
nothing, our cunning D'Artagnan, in rolling and unrolling
his Porthos, it was because, in truth, there was nothing to
"Be it so," said D'Artagnan, "I shall get to know more at
Vannes in half an hour than Porthos has discovered at
Belle-Isle in two months. Only, in order that I may know
something, it is important that Porthos should not make use
of the only stratagem I leave at his disposal. He must not
warn Aramis of my arrival." All the care of the musketeer
was then, for the moment, confined to the watching of
Porthos. And let us hasten to say, Porthos did not deserve