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Louise de la Valliere by Alexandre Dumas, Pere

Part 11 out of 12

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"You are most welcome, chevalier; not for the consolation you bring with
you, but on your own account. I am already consoled," said Raoul; and he
attempted to smile, but the effort was more sad than any tears D'Artagnan
had ever seen shed.

"That is all well and good, then," said D'Artagnan.

"Only," continued Raoul, "you have arrived just as the comte was about to
give me the details of his interview with the king. You will allow the
comte to continue?" added the young man, as, with his eyes fixed on the
musketeer, he seemed to read the very depths of his heart.

"His interview with the king?" said D'Artagnan, in a tone so natural and
unassumed that there was no means of suspecting that his astonishment was
feigned. "You have seen the king, then, Athos?"

Athos smiled as he said, "Yes, I have seen him."

"Ah, indeed; you were unaware, then, that the comte had seen his
majesty?" inquired Raoul, half reassured.

"Yes, indeed, quite so."

"In that case, I am less uneasy," said Raoul.

"Uneasy - and about what?" inquired Athos.

"Forgive me, monsieur," said Raoul, "but knowing so well the regard and
affection you have for me, I was afraid you might possibly have expressed
somewhat plainly to his majesty my own sufferings and your indignation,
and that the king had consequently - "

"And that the king had consequently?" repeated D'Artagnan; "well, go on,
finish what you were going to say."

"I have now to ask you to forgive me, Monsieur d'Artagnan," said Raoul.
"For a moment, and I cannot help confessing it, I trembled lest you had
come here, not as M. d'Artagnan, but as captain of the musketeers."

"You are mad, my poor boy," cried D'Artagnan, with a burst of laughter,
in which an exact observer might perhaps have wished to have heard a
little more frankness.

"So much the better," said Raoul.

"Yes, mad; and do you know what I would advise you to do?"

"Tell me, monsieur, for the advice is sure to be good, as it comes from

"Very good, then; I advise you, after your long journey from England,
after your visit to M. de Guiche, after your visit to Madame, after your
visit to Porthos, after your journey to Vincennes, I advise you, I say,
to take a few hours' rest; go and lie down, sleep for a dozen hours, and
when you wake up, go and ride one of my horses until you have tired him
to death."

And drawing Raoul towards him, he embraced him as he would have done his
own child. Athos did the like; only it was very visible that the kiss
was still more affectionate, and the pressure of his lips even warmer
with the father than with the friend. The young man again looked at both
his companions, endeavoring to penetrate their real meaning or their real
feelings with the utmost strength of his intelligence; but his look was
powerless upon the smiling countenance of the musketeer or upon the calm
and composed features of the Comte de la Fere. "Where are you going,
Raoul?" inquired the latter, seeing that Bragelonne was preparing to go

"To my own apartments," replied the latter, in his soft, sad voice.

"We shall be sure to find you there, then, if we should have anything to
say to you?"

"Yes, monsieur; but do you suppose it likely you will have something to
say to me?"

"How can I tell?" said Athos.

"Yes, something fresh to console you with," said D'Artagnan, pushing him
towards the door.

Raoul, observing the perfect composure which marked every gesture of his
two friends, quitted the comte's room, carrying away with him nothing but
the individual feeling of his own particular distress.

"Thank Heaven," he said, "since that is the case, I need only think of

And wrapping himself up in his cloak, in order to conceal from the
passers-by in the streets his gloomy and sorrowful face, he quitted them,
for the purpose of returning to his own rooms, as he had promised
Porthos. The two friends watched the young man as he walked away with a
feeling of genuine disinterested pity; only each expressed it in a
different way.

"Poor Raoul!" said Athos, sighing deeply.

"Poor Raoul!" said D'Artagnan, shrugging his shoulders.

Chapter LX:
Heu! Miser!

"Poor Raoul!" had said Athos. "Poor Raoul!" had said D'Artagnan: and, in
point of fact, to be pitied by both these men, Raoul must indeed have
been most unhappy. And therefore, when he found himself alone, face to
face, as it were, with his own troubles, leaving behind him the intrepid
friend and the indulgent father; when he recalled the avowal of the
king's affection, which had robbed him of Louise de la Valliere, whom he
loved so deeply, he felt his heart almost breaking, as indeed we all have
at least once in our lives, at the first illusion destroyed, the first
affection betrayed. "Oh!" he murmured, "all is over, then. Nothing is
now left me in this world. Nothing to look forward to, nothing to hope
for. Guiche has told me so, my father has told me so, M. d'Artagnan has
told me so. All life is but an idle dream. The future which I have been
hopelessly pursuing for the last ten years is a dream! the union of
hearts, a dream! a life of love and happiness, a dream! Poor fool that I
am," he continued, after a pause, "to dream away my existence aloud,
publicly, and in the face of others, friends and enemies - and for what
purpose, too? in order that my friends may be saddened by my troubles,
and my enemies may laugh at my sorrows. And so my unhappiness will soon
become a notorious disgrace, a public scandal; and who knows but that to-
morrow I may even be a public laughing-stock?"

And, despite the composure which he had promised his father and
D'Artagnan to observe, Raoul could not resist uttering a few words of
darkest menace. "And yet," he continued, "if my name were De Wardes, and
if I had the pliancy of character and strength of will of M. d'Artagnan,
I should laugh, with my lips at least; I should convince other women that
this perfidious girl, honored by the affection I have wasted on her,
leaves me only one regret, that of having been abused and deceived by her
seemingly modest and irreproachable conduct; a few might perhaps fawn on
the king by jesting at my expense; I should put myself on the track of
some of those buffoons; I should chastise a few of them, perhaps; the men
would fear me, and by the time I had laid three dying or dead at my feet,
I should be adored by the women. Yes, yes, that, indeed, would be the
proper course to adopt, and the Comte de la Fere himself would not object
to it. Has not he also been tried, in his earlier days, in the same
manner as I have just been tried myself? Did he not replace affection by
intoxication? He has often told me so. Why should I not replace love by
pleasure? He must have suffered as much as I suffer, even more - if that
is possible. The history of one man is the history of all, a dragging
trial, more or less prolonged, more or less bitter - sorrowful. The note
of human nature is nothing but one sustained cry. But what are the
sufferings of others compared to those from which I am now suffering?
Does the open wound in another's breast soften the anguish of the gaping
ulcer in our own? Does the blood which is welling from another man's
side stanch that which is pouring from our own? Does the general grief
of our fellow-creatures lessen our own private and particular woe? No,
no, each suffers on his own account, each struggles with his own grief,
each sheds his own tears. And besides," he went on, "what has my life
been up to the present moment? A cold, barren, sterile arena, in which I
have always fought for others, never for myself. Sometimes for a king,
sometimes for a woman. The king has betrayed, the woman disdained me.
Miserable, unlucky wretch that I am! Women! Can I not make all expiate
the crime of one of their sex? What does that need? To have a heart no
longer, or to forget that I ever had one; to be strong, even against
weakness itself; to lean always, even when one feels that the support is
giving way. What is needed to attain, or succeed in all that? To be
young, handsome, strong, valiant, rich. I am, or shall be, all that.
But honor?" he still continued, "and what is honor after all? A theory
which every man understands in his own way. My father tells me: 'Honor
is the consideration of what is due to others, and particularly what is
due to oneself.' But Guiche, and Manicamp, and Saint-Aignan
particularly, would say to me: 'What's honor? Honor consists in studying
and yielding to the passions and pleasures of one's king.' Honor such as
that indeed, is easy and productive enough. With honor like that, I can
keep my post at the court, become a gentleman of the chamber, and accept
the command of a regiment, which may at any time be presented to me.
With honor such as that, I can be duke and peer.

"The stain which that woman has stamped upon me, the grief that has
broken my heart, the heart of the friend and playmate of her childhood,
in no way affects M. de Bragelonne, an excellent officer, a courageous
leader, who will cover himself with glory at the first encounter, and who
will become a hundred times greater than Mademoiselle de la Valliere is
to-day, the mistress of the king - for the king will not marry her - and
the more publicly he will proclaim her as his mistress, the more opaque
will grow the shadow of shame he casts upon her face, in the guise of a
crown; and in proportion as others despise, as I despise her, I shall be
gleaning honors in the field. Alas! we had walked together side by side,
she and I, during the earliest, the brightest, the most angelic portion
of our existence, hand in hand along the charming path of life, covered
with the blossoms of youth; and then, alas! we reach a cross-road, where
she separates herself from me, in which we have to follow a different
route, whereby we become more and more widely separated from each other.
And to attain the end of this path, oh, Heaven! I am now alone, in utter
despair, and crushed to the very earth."

Such were the sinister reflections in which Raoul indulged, when his foot
mechanically paused at the door of his own dwelling. He had reached it
without remarking the streets through which he passed, without knowing
how he had come; he pushed open the door, continued to advance, and
ascended the staircase. The staircase, as in most of the houses at that
period, was very dark, and the landings most obscure. Raoul lived on the
first floor; he paused in order to ring. Olivain appeared, took his
sword and cloak from his hands; Raoul himself opened the door which, from
the ante-chamber, led into a small _salon_, richly furnished enough for
the _salon_ of a young man, and completely filled with flowers by
Olivain, who, knowing his master's tastes, had shown himself studiously
attentive in gratifying them, without caring whether his master perceived
his attention or not. There was a portrait of La Valliere in the
_salon_, which had been drawn by herself and given by her to Raoul. This
portrait, fastened above a large easy chair covered with dark colored
damask, was the first point towards which Raoul bent his steps - the
first object on which he fixed his eyes. It was, moreover, Raoul's usual
habit to do so; every time he entered his room, this portrait, before
anything else, attracted his attention. This time, as usual, he walked
straight up to the portrait, placed his knees upon the arm chair, and
paused to look at it sadly. His arms were crossed upon his breast, his
head slightly thrown back, his eyes filled with tears, his mouth worked
into a bitter smile. He looked at the portrait of the one he had so
tenderly loved; and then all that he had said passed before his mind
again, all that he had suffered seemed again to assail his heart; and,
after a long silence, he murmured for the third time, "Miserable, unhappy
wretch that I am!"

He had hardly pronounced these words, when he heard the sound of a sigh
and a groan behind him. He turned sharply round and perceived, in the
angle of the _salon_, standing up, a bending veiled female figure, which
he had been the means of concealing behind the door as he opened it, and
which he had not perceived as he entered. He advanced towards the
figure, whose presence in his room had not been announced to him; and as
he bowed, and inquired at the same moment who she was, she suddenly
raised her head, and removed the veil from her face, revealing her pale
and sorrow-stricken features. Raoul staggered back as if he had seen a

"Louise!" he cried, in a tone of such absolute despair, one could hardly
have thought the human voice was capable of so desponding a cry, without
the snapping of the human heart.

Chapter LXI:
Wounds within Wounds.

Mademoiselle de la Valliere - for it was indeed she - advanced a few
steps towards him. "Yes - Louise," she murmured.

But this interval, short as it had been, was quite sufficient for Raoul
to recover himself. "You, mademoiselle?" he said; and then added, in an
indefinable tone, "You here!"

"Yes, Raoul," the young girl replied, "I have been waiting for you."

"I beg your pardon. When I came into the room I was not aware - "

"I know - but I entreated Olivain not to tell you - " She hesitated; and
as Raoul did not attempt to interrupt her, a moment's silence ensued,
during which the sound of their throbbing hearts might have been heard,
not in unison with each other, but the one beating as violently as the
other. It was for Louise to speak, and she made an effort to do so.

"I wished to speak to you," she said. "It was absolutely necessary that
I should see you - myself - alone. I have not hesitated to adopt a step
which must remain secret; for no one, except yourself, could understand
my motive, Monsieur de Bragelonne."

"In fact, mademoiselle," Raoul stammered out, almost breathless from
emotion, "as far as I am concerned, and despite the good opinion you
have of me, I confess - "

"Will you do me the great kindness to sit down and listen to me?" said
Louise, interrupting him with her soft, sweet voice.

Bragelonne looked at her for a moment; then mournfully shaking his head,
he sat, or rather fell down on a chair. "Speak," he said.

She cast a glance all round her. This look was a timid entreaty, and
implored secrecy far more effectually than her expressed words had done a
few minutes before. Raoul rouse, and went to the door, which he opened.
"Olivain," he said, "I am not within for any one." And then, turning
towards Louise, he added, "Is not that what you wished?"

Nothing could have produced a greater effect upon Louise than these few
words, which seemed to signify, "You see that I still understand you."
She passed a handkerchief across her eyes, in order to remove a
rebellious tear which she could not restrain; and then, having collected
herself for a moment, she said, "Raoul, do not turn your kind, frank look
away from me. You are not one of those men who despise a woman for
having given her heart to another, even though her affection might render
him unhappy, or might wound his pride." Raoul did not reply.

"Alas!" continued La Valliere, "it is only too true, my cause is a bad
one, and I cannot tell in what way to begin. It will be better for me, I
think, to relate to you, very simply, everything that has befallen me.
As I shall speak but the pure and simple truth, I shall always find my
path clear before me in spite of the obscurity and obstacles I have to
brave in order to solace my heart, which is full to overflowing, and
wishes to pour itself out at your feet."

Raoul continued to preserve the same unbroken silence. La Valliere
looked at him with an air that seemed to say, "Encourage me; for pity's
sake, but a single word!" But Raoul did not open his lips; and the young
girl was obliged to continue:

"Just now," she said, "M. de Saint-Aignan came to me by the king's
directions." She cast down her eyes as she said this; while Raoul, on
his side, turned his away, in order to avoid looking at her. "M. de
Saint-Aignan came to me from the king," she repeated, "and told me that
you knew all;" and she attempted to look Raoul in the face, after
inflicting this further wound upon him, in addition to the many others he
had already received; but it was impossible to meet Raoul's eyes.

"He told me you were incensed with me - and justly so, I admit."

This time Raoul looked at the young girl, and a smile full of disdain
passed across his lips.

"Oh!" she continued, "I entreat you, do not say that you have had any
other feeling against me than that of anger merely. Raoul, wait until I
have told you all - wait until I have said to you all that I had to say
all that I came to say."

Raoul, by the strength of his iron will, forced his features to assume a
calmer expression, and the disdainful smile upon his lip passed away.

"In the first place," said La Valliere, "in the first place, with my
hands raised in entreaty towards you, with my forehead bowed to the
ground before you, I entreat you, as the most generous, as the noblest
of men, to pardon, to forgive me. If I have left you in ignorance of
what was passing in my own bosom, never, at least, would I have consented
to deceive you. Oh! I entreat you, Raoul - I implore you on my knees
answer me one word, even though you wrong me in doing so. Better, far
better, an injurious word from your lips, than suspicion resting in your

"I admire your subtlety of expression, mademoiselle," said Raoul, making
an effort to remain calm. "To leave another in ignorance that you are
deceiving him, is loyal; but to deceive him - it seems that would be very
wrong, and that you would not do it."

"Monsieur, for a long time I thought that I loved you better than
anything else; and so long as I believed in my affection for you, I told
you that loved you. I could have sworn it on the altar; but a day came
when I was undeceived."

"Well, on that day, mademoiselle, knowing that I still continued to love
you, true loyalty of conduct should have forced you to inform me you had
ceased to love me."

"But on that day, Raoul - on that day, when I read in the depths of my
own heart, when I confessed to myself that you no longer filled my mind
entirely, when I saw another future before me than that of being your
friend, your life-long companion, your wife - on that day, Raoul, you
were not, alas! any more beside me."

"But you knew where I was, mademoiselle; you could have written to me."

"Raoul, I did not dare to do so. Raoul, I have been weak and cowardly.
I knew you so thoroughly - I knew how devotedly you loved me, that I
trembled at the bare idea of the grief I was about to cause you; and that
is so true, Raoul, that this very moment I am now speaking to you,
bending thus before you, my heart crushed in my bosom, my voice full of
sighs, my eyes full of tears, it is so perfectly true, that I have no
other defense than my frankness, I have no other sorrow greater than that
which I read in your eyes."

Raoul attempted to smile.

"No!" said the young girl, with a profound conviction, "no, no; you will
not do me so foul a wrong as to disguise your feelings before me now!
You loved me; you were sure of your affection for me; you did not deceive
yourself; you do not lie to your own heart - whilst I - I - " And pale
as death, her arms thrown despairingly above her head, she fell upon her

"Whilst you," said Raoul, "you told me you loved me, and yet you loved

"Alas, yes!" cried the poor girl; "alas, yes! I do love another; and
that other - oh! for Heaven's sake let me say it, Raoul, for it is my
only excuse - that other I love better than my own life, better than my
own soul even. Forgive my fault, or punish my treason, Raoul. I came
here in no way to defend myself, but merely to say to you: 'You know what
it is to love!' - in such a case am I! I love to that degree, that I
would give my life, my very soul, to the man I love. If he should ever
cease to love me, I shall die of grief and despair, unless Heaven come to
my assistance, unless Heaven does show pity upon me. Raoul, I came here
to submit myself to your will, whatever it might be - to die, if it were
your wish I should die. Kill me, then, Raoul! if in your heart you
believe I deserve death."

"Take care, mademoiselle," said Raoul: "the woman who invites death is
one who has nothing but her heart's blood to offer to her deceived and
betrayed lover."

"You are right," she said.

Raoul uttered a deep sigh, as he exclaimed, "And you love without being
able to forget?"

"I love without a wish to forget; without a wish ever to love any one
else," replied La Valliere.

"Very well," said Raoul. "You have said to me, in fact, all you had to
say; all I could possibly wish to know. And now, mademoiselle, it is I
who ask your forgiveness, for it is I who have almost been an obstacle in
your life; I, too, who have been wrong, for, in deceiving myself, I
helped to deceive you."

"Oh!" said La Valliere, "I do not ask you so much as that, Raoul."

"I only am to blame, mademoiselle," continued Raoul, "better informed
than yourself of the difficulties of this life, I should have enlightened
you. I ought not to have relied upon uncertainty; I ought to have
extracted an answer from your heart, whilst I hardly even sought an
acknowledgement from your lips. Once more, mademoiselle, it is I who ask
your forgiveness."

"Impossible, impossible!" she cried, "you are mocking me."

"How, impossible?"

"Yes, it is impossible to be so good, and kind, ah! perfect to such a
degree as that."

"Take care!' said Raoul, with a bitter smile, "for presently you may say
perhaps I did not love you."

"Oh! you love me like an affectionate brother; let me hope that, Raoul."

"As a brother! undeceive yourself, Louise. I love you as a lover - as a
husband, with the deepest, the truest, the fondest affection."

"Raoul, Raoul!"

"As a brother! Oh, Louise! I love you so deeply, that I would have shed
my blood for you, drop by drop; I would, oh! how willingly, have suffered
myself to be torn to pieces for your sake, have sacrificed my very future
for you. I love you so deeply, Louise, that my heart feels dead and
crushed within me, - my faith in human nature all is gone, - my eyes have
lost their light; I loved you so deeply, that I now no longer see, think
of, care for, anything, either in this world or the next."

"Raoul - dear Raoul! spare me, I implore you!" cried La Valliere. "Oh!
if I had but known - "

"It is too late, Louise; you love, you are happy in your affection; I
read your happiness through your tears - behind the tears which the
loyalty of your nature makes you shed; I feel the sighs your affection
breathes forth. Louise, Louise, you have made me the most abjectly
wretched man living; leave me, I entreat you. Adieu! adieu!"

"Forgive me! oh, forgive me, Raoul, for what I have done."

"Have I not done much, much more? _Have I not told you that I love you
still?_" She buried her face in her hands.

"And to tell you that - do you hear me, Louise? - to tell you that, at
such a moment as this, to tell you that, as I have told you, is to
pronounce my own sentence of death. Adieu!" La Valliere held out her
hands to him in vain.

"We ought not to see each other again in this world," he said, and as she
was on the point of crying out in bitter agony at this remark, he placed
his hand on her mouth to stifle the exclamation. She pressed her lips
upon it, and fell fainting to the ground. "Olivain," said Raoul, "take
this young lady and bear her to the carriage which is waiting for her at
the door." As Olivain lifted her up, Raoul made a movement as if to dart
towards La Valliere, in order to give her a first and last kiss, but,
stopping abruptly, he said, "No! she is not mine. I am no thief - as is
the king of France." And he returned to his room, whilst the lackey
carried La Valliere, still fainting, to the carriage.

Chapter LXII:
What Raoul Had Guessed.

As soon as Raoul had quitted Athos and D'Artagnan, as the two
exclamations that had followed his departure escaped their lips, they
found themselves face to face alone. Athos immediately resumed the
earnest air that he had assumed at D'Artagnan's arrival.

"Well," he said, "what have you come to announce to me, my friend?"

"I?" inquired D'Artagnan.

"Yes; I do not see you in this way without some reason for it," said
Athos, smiling.

"The deuce!" said D'Artagnan.

"I will place you at your ease. The king is furious, I suppose?"

"Well, I must say he is not altogether pleased."

"And you have come to arrest me, then?"

"My dear friend, you have hit the very mark."

"Oh, I expected it. I am quite ready to go with you."

"Deuce take it!" said D'Artagnan, "what a hurry you are in."

"I am afraid of delaying you," said Athos, smiling.

"I have plenty of time. Are you not curious, besides, to know how things
went on between the king and me?"

"If you will be good enough to tell me, I will listen with the greatest
of pleasure," said Athos, pointing out to D'Artagnan a large chair, into
which the latter threw himself, assuming the easiest possible attitude.

"Well, I will do so willingly enough," continued D'Artagnan, "for the
conversation is rather curious, I must say. In the first place the king
sent for me."

"As soon as I had left?"

"You were just going down the last steps of the staircase, as the
musketeers told me. I arrived. My dear Athos, he was not red in the
face merely, he was positively purple. I was not aware, of course, of
what had passed; only, on the ground, lying on the floor, I saw a sword
broken in two."

"'Captain d'Artagnan,' cried the king, as soon as he saw me.

"'Sire,' I replied.

"'M. de la Fere has just left me; he is an insolent man.'

"'An insolent man!' I exclaimed, in such a tone that the king stopped
suddenly short.

"'Captain d'Artagnan,' resumed the king, with his teeth clenched, 'you
will be good enough to listen to and hear me.'

"'That is my duty, sire.'

"'I have, out of consideration for M. de la Fere, wished to spare him
he is a man of whom I still retain some kind recollections - the
discredit of being arrested in my palace. You will therefore take a
carriage.' At this I made a slight movement.

"'If you object to arrest him yourself,' continued the king, 'send me my
captain of the guards.'

"'Sire,' I replied, 'there is no necessity for the captain of the guards,
since I am on duty.'

"'I should not like to annoy you,' said the king, kindly, 'for you have
always served me well, Monsieur D'Artagnan.'

"'You do not "annoy" me, sire,' I replied; 'I am on duty, that is all.'

"'But,' said the king, in astonishment, 'I believe the comte is your

"'If he were my father, sire, it would not make me less on duty than I

"The king looked at me; he saw how unmoved my face was, and seemed
satisfied. 'You will arrest M. le Comte de la Fere, then?' he inquired.

"'Most certainly, sire, if you give me the order to do so.'

"'Very well; I order you to do so.'

"I bowed, and replied, 'Where is the comte, sire?'

"'You will look for him.'

"'And am I to arrest him, wherever he may be?'

"'Yes; but try that he may be at his own house. If he should have
started for his own estate, leave Paris at once, and arrest him on his
way thither.'

"I bowed; but as I did not move, he said, 'Well, what are you waiting

"'For the order to arrest the comte, signed by yourself.'

"The king seemed annoyed; for, in point of fact, it was the exercise of a
fresh act of authority, a repetition of the arbitrary act, if, indeed, it
is to be considered as such. He took hold of his pen slowly, and
evidently in no very good temper; and then he wrote, 'Order for M. le
Chevalier d'Artagnan, captain of my musketeers, to arrest M. le Comte de
la Fere, wherever he is to be found.' He then turned towards me; but I
was looking on without moving a muscle of my face. In all probability he
thought he perceived something like bravado in my tranquil manner, for he
signed hurriedly, and then handing me the order, he said, 'Go,
monsieur!' I obeyed; and here I am."

Athos pressed his friend's hand. "Well, let us set off," he said.

"Oh! surely," said D'Artagnan, "you must have some trifling matters to
arrange before you leave your apartments in this manner."

"I? - not at all."

"Why not?"

"Why, you know, D'Artagnan, that I have always been a very simple
traveler on this earth, ready to go to the end of the world by the order
of my sovereign; ready to quit it at the summons of my Maker. What does
a man who is thus prepared require in such a case? - a portmanteau, or a
shroud. I am ready at this moment, as I have always been, my dear
friend, and can accompany you at once."

"But, Bragelonne - "

"I have brought him up in the same principles I laid down for my own
guidance; and you observed that, as soon as he perceived you, he guessed,
that very moment, the motive of your visit. We have thrown him off his
guard for a moment; but do not be uneasy, he is sufficiently prepared for
my disgrace not to be too much alarmed at it. So, let us go."

"Very well, let us go," said D'Artagnan, quietly.

"As I broke my sword in the king's presence, and threw the pieces at his
feet, I presume that will dispense with the necessity of delivering it
over to you."

"You are quite right; and besides that, what the deuce do you suppose I
could do with your sword?"

"Am I to walk behind, or before you?" inquired Athos, laughing.

"You will walk arm in arm with me," replied D'Artagnan, as he took the
comte's arm to descend the staircase; and in this manner they arrived at
the landing. Grimaud, whom they had met in the ante-room, looked at them
as they went out together in this manner, with some little uneasiness;
his experience of affairs was quite sufficient to give him good reason to
suspect that there was something wrong.

"Ah! is that you, Grimaud?" said Athos, kindly. "We are going - "

"To take a turn in my carriage," interrupted D'Artagnan, with a friendly
nod of the head.

Grimaud thanked D'Artagnan by a grimace, which was evidently intended for
a smile, and accompanied both the friends to the door. Athos entered
first into the carriage; D'Artagnan followed him without saying a word to
the coachman. The departure had taken place so quietly, that it excited
no disturbance or attention even in the neighborhood. When the carriage
had reached the quays, "You are taking me to the Bastile, I perceive,"
said Athos.

"I?" said D'Artagnan, "I take you wherever you may choose to go; nowhere
else, I can assure you."

"What do you mean?" said the comte, surprised.

"Why, surely, my dear friend," said D'Artagnan, "you quite understand
that I undertook the mission with no other object in view than that of
carrying it out exactly as you liked. You surely did not expect that I
was going to get you thrown into prison like that, brutally, and without
any reflection. If I had anticipated that, I should have let the captain
of the guards undertake it."

"And so - ?" said Athos.

"And so, I repeat again, we will go wherever you may choose."

"My dear friend," said Athos, embracing D'Artagnan, "how like you that

"Well, it seems simple enough to me. The coachman will take you to the
barrier of the Cours-la-Reine; you will find a horse there which I have
ordered to be kept ready for you; with that horse you will be able to do
three posts without stopping; and I, on my side, will take care not to
return to the king, to tell him that you have gone away, until the very
moment it will be impossible to overtake you. In the meantime you will
have reached Le Havre, and from Le Havre across to England, where you
will find the charming residence of which M. Monk made me a present,
without speaking of the hospitality which King Charles will not fail to
show you. Well, what do you think of this project?"

Athos shook his head, and then said, smiling as he did so, "No, no, take
me to the Bastile."

"You are an obstinate fellow, my dear Athos," returned D'Artagnan,
"reflect for a few moments."

"On what subject?"

"That you are no longer twenty years of age. Believe me, I speak
according to my own knowledge and experience. A prison is certain death
for men who are at our time of life. No, no; I will never allow you to
languish in prison in such a way. Why, the very thought of it makes my
head turn giddy."

"Dear D'Artagnan," Athos replied, "Heaven most fortunately made my body
as strong, powerful, and enduring as my mind; and, rely upon it, I shall
retain my strength up to the very last moment."

"But this is not strength of mind or character; it is sheer madness."

"No, D'Artagnan, it is the highest order of reasoning. Do not suppose
that I should in the slightest degree in the world discuss the question
with you, whether you would not be ruined in endeavoring to save me. I
should have done precisely as you propose if flight had been part of my
plan of action; I should, therefore, have accepted from you what, without
any doubt, you would have accepted from me. No! I know you too well
even to breathe a word upon the subject."

"Ah! if you would only let me do it," said D'Artagnan, "what a dance we
would give his most gracious majesty!"

"Still he is the king; do not forget that, my dear friend."

"Oh! that is all the same to me; and king though he be, I would plainly
tell him, 'Sire, imprison, exile, kill every one in France and Europe;
order me to arrest and poniard even whom you like - even were it
Monsieur, your own brother; but do not touch one of the four musketeers,
or if so, _mordioux!_'"

"My dear friend," replied Athos, with perfect calmness, "I should like to
persuade you of one thing; namely, that I wish to be arrested; that I
desire above all things that my arrest should take place."

D'Artagnan made a slight movement of his shoulders.

"Nay, I wish it, I repeat, more than anything; if you were to let me
escape, it would be only to return of my own accord, and constitute
myself a prisoner. I wish to prove to this young man, who is dazzled by
the power and splendor of his crown, that he can be regarded as the first
and chiefest among men only on the one condition of his proving himself
to be the most generous and the wisest. He may punish me, imprison,
torture me, it matters not. He abuses his opportunities, and I wish him
to learn the bitterness of remorse, while Heaven teaches him what
chastisement is."

"Well, well," replied D'Artagnan, "I know only too well that, when you
have once said, 'no,' you mean 'no.' I do not insist any longer; you
wish to go to the Bastile?"

"I do wish to go there."

"Let us go, then! To the Bastile!" cried D'Artagnan to the coachman.
And throwing himself back in the carriage, he gnawed the ends of his
mustache with a fury which, for Athos, who knew him well, signified a
resolution either already taken or in course of formation. A profound
silence ensued in the carriage, which continued to roll on, but neither
faster nor slower than before. Athos took the musketeer by the hand.

"You are not angry with me, D'Artagnan?" he said.

"I! - oh, no! certainly not; of course not. What you do for heroism, I
should have done from obstinacy."

"But you are quite of opinion, are you not, that Heaven will avenge me,

"And I know one or two on earth who will not fail to lend a helping
hand," said the captain.

Chapter LXIII:
Three Guests Astonished to Find Themselves at Supper Together.

The carriage arrived at the outside of the gate of the Bastile. A
soldier on guard stopped it, but D'Artagnan had only to utter a single
word to procure admittance, and the carriage passed on without further
difficulty. Whilst they were proceeding along the covered way which led
to the courtyard of the governor's residence, D'Artagnan, whose lynx eyes
saw everything, even through the walls, suddenly cried out, "What is that
out yonder?"

"Well," said Athos, quietly; "what is it?"

"Look yonder, Athos."

"In the courtyard?"

"Yes, yes; make haste!"

"Well, a carriage; very likely conveying a prisoner like myself."

"That would be too droll."

"I do not understand you."

"Make haste and look again, and look at the man who is just getting out
of that carriage."

At that very moment a second sentinel stopped D'Artagnan, and while the
formalities were being gone through, Athos could see at a hundred paces
from him the man whom his friend had pointed out to him. He was, in
fact, getting out of the carriage at the door of the governor's house.
"Well," inquired D'Artagnan, "do you see him?"

"Yes; he is a man in a gray suit."

"What do you say of him?"

"I cannot very well tell; he is, as I have just now told you, a man in a
gray suit, who is getting out of a carriage; that is all."

"Athos, I will wager anything that it is he."

"He, who?"


"Aramis arrested? Impossible!"

"I do not say he is arrested, since we see him alone in his carriage."

"Well, then, what is he doing here?"

"Oh! he knows Baisemeaux, the governor," replied the musketeer, slyly;
"so we have arrived just in time."

"What for?"

"In order to see what we can see."

"I regret this meeting exceedingly. When Aramis sees me, he will be very
much annoyed, in the first place, at seeing me, and in the next at being

"Very well reasoned."

"Unfortunately, there is no remedy for it; whenever any one meets another
in the Bastile, even if he wished to draw back to avoid him, it would be

"Athos, I have an idea; the question is, to spare Aramis the annoyance
you were speaking of, is it not?"

"What is to be done?"

"I will tell you; or in order to explain myself in the best possible way,
let me relate the affair in my own manner; I will not recommend you to
tell a falsehood, for that would be impossible for you to do; but I will
tell falsehoods enough for both; it is easy to do that when one is born
to the nature and habits of a Gascon."

Athos smiled. The carriage stopped where the one we have just now
pointed out had stopped; namely, at the door of the governor's house.
"It is understood, then?" said D'Artagnan, in a low voice to his friend.
Athos consented by a gesture. They ascended the staircase. There will
be no occasion for surprise at the facility with which they had entered
into the Bastile, if it be remembered that, before passing the first
gate, in fact, the most difficult of all, D'Artagnan had announced that
he had brought a prisoner of state. At the third gate, on the contrary,
that is to say, when he had once fairly entered the prison, he merely
said to the sentinel, "To M. Baisemeaux;" and they both passed on. In a
few minutes they were in the governor's dining-room, and the first face
which attracted D'Artagnan's observation was that of Aramis, who was
seated side by side with Baisemeaux, awaiting the announcement of a meal
whose odor impregnated the whole apartment. If D'Artagnan pretended
surprise, Aramis did not pretend at all; he started when he saw his two
friends, and his emotion was very apparent. Athos and D'Artagnan,
however, complimented him as usual, and Baisemeaux, amazed, completely
stupefied by the presence of his three guests, began to perform a few
evolutions around them.

"By what lucky accident - "

"We were just going to ask you," retorted D'Artagnan.

"Are we going to give ourselves up as prisoners?" cried Aramis, with an
affection of hilarity.

"Ah! ah!" said D'Artagnan; "it is true the walls smell deucedly like a
prison. Monsieur de Baisemeaux, you know you invited me to sup with you
the other day."

"I?" cried Baisemeaux.

"Yes, of course you did, although you now seem so struck with amazement.
Don't you remember it?"

Baisemeaux turned pale and then red, looked at Aramis, who looked at him,
and finished by stammering out, "Certainly - I am delighted - but, upon
my honor - I have not the slightest - Ah! I have such a wretched memory."

"Well! I am wrong, I see," said D'Artagnan, as if he were offended.

"Wrong, what for?"

"Wrong to remember anything about it, it seems."

Baisemeaux hurried towards him. "Do not stand on ceremony, my dear
captain," he said; "I have the worst memory in the world. I no sooner
leave off thinking of my pigeons and their pigeon-house, than I am no
better than the rawest recruit."

"At all events, you remember it now," said D'Artagnan, boldly.

"Yes, yes," replied the governor, hesitating; "I think I do remember."

"It was when you came to the palace to see me; you told me some story or
other about your accounts with M. de Louviere and M. de Tremblay."

"Oh, yes! perfectly."

"And about M. d'Herblay's kindness towards you."

"Ah!" exclaimed Aramis, looking at the unhappy governor full in the face,
"and yet you just now said you had no memory, Monsieur de Baisemeaux."

Baisemeaux interrupted the musketeer in the middle of his revelations.
"Yes, yes; you're quite right; how could I have forgotten; I remember it
now as well as possible; I beg you a thousand pardons. But now, once for
all, my dear M. d'Artagnan, be sure that at this present time, as at any
other, whether invited or not, you are perfectly at home here, you and M.
d'Herblay, your friend," he said, turning towards Aramis; "and this
gentleman, too," he added, bowing to Athos.

"Well, I thought it would be sure to turn out so," replied D'Artagnan,
"and that is the reason I came. Having nothing to do this evening at the
Palais Royal, I wished to judge for myself what your ordinary style of
living was like; and as I was coming along, I met the Comte de la Fere."

Athos bowed. "The comte, who had just left his majesty, handed me an
order which required immediate attention. We were close by here; I
wished to call in, even if it were for no other object than that of
shaking hands with you and of presenting the comte to you, of whom you
spoke so highly that evening at the palace when - "

"Certainly, certainly - M. le Comte de la Fere?"


"The comte is welcome, I am sure."

"And he will sup with you two, I suppose, whilst I, unfortunate dog that
I am, must run off on a matter of duty. Oh! what happy beings you are,
compared to myself," he added, sighing as loud as Porthos might have done.

"And so you are going away, then?" said Aramis and Baisemeaux together,
with the same expression of delighted surprised, the tone of which was
immediately noticed by D'Artagnan.

"I leave you in my place," he said, "a noble and excellent guest." And
he touched Athos gently on the shoulder, who, astonished also, could not
help exhibiting his surprise a little; which was noticed by Aramis only,
for M. de Baisemeaux was not quite equal to the three friends in point of

"What, are you going to leave us?" resumed the governor.

"I shall only be about an hour, or an hour and a half. I will return in
time for dessert."

"Oh! we will wait for you," said Baisemeaux.

"No, no; that would be really disobliging me."

"You will be sure to return, though?" said Athos, with an expression of

"Most certainly," he said, pressing his friend's hand confidently; and he
added, in a low voice, "Wait for me, Athos; be cheerful and lively as
possible, and above all, don't allude even to business affairs, for
Heaven's sake."

And with a renewed pressure of the hand, he seemed to warn the comte of
the necessity of keeping perfectly discreet and impenetrable. Baisemeaux
led D'Artagnan to the gate. Aramis, with many friendly protestations of
delight, sat down by Athos, determined to make him speak; but Athos
possessed every virtue and quality to the very highest degree. If
necessity had required it, he would have been the finest orator in the
world, but on other occasions he would rather have died than have opened
his lips.

Ten minutes after D'Artagnan's departure, the three gentlemen sat down to
table, which was covered with the most substantial display of gastronomic
luxury. Large joints, exquisite dishes, preserves, the greatest variety
of wines, appeared successively upon the table, which was served at the
king's expense, and of which expense M. Colbert would have found no
difficulty in saving two thirds, without any one in the Bastile being the
worse for it. Baisemeaux was the only one who ate and drank with
gastronomic resolution. Aramis allowed nothing to pass by him, but
merely touched everything he took; Athos, after the soup and three _hors
d'oeuvres_, ate nothing more. The style of conversation was such as
might have been anticipated between three men so opposite in temper and
ideas. Aramis was incessantly asking himself by what extraordinary
chance Athos was there at Baisemeaux's when D'Artagnan was no longer
there, and why D'Artagnan did not remain when Athos was there. Athos
sounded all the depths of the mind of Aramis, who lived in the midst of
subterfuge, evasion, and intrigue; he studied his man well and
thoroughly, and felt convinced that he was engaged upon some important
project. And then he too began to think of his own personal affair, and
to lose himself in conjectures as to D'Artagnan's reason for having left
the Bastile so abruptly, and for leaving behind him a prisoner so badly
introduced and so badly looked after by the prison authorities. But we
shall not pause to examine into the thoughts and feelings of these
personages, but will leave them to themselves, surrounded by the remains
of poultry, game, and fish, which Baisemeaux's generous knife and fork
had so mutilated. We are going to follow D'Artagnan instead, who,
getting into the carriage which had brought him, said to the coachman,
"Return to the palace, as fast as the horses can gallop."

Chapter LXIV:
What Took Place at the Louvre During the Supper at the Bastile.

M. de Saint-Aignan had executed the commission with which the king had
intrusted him for La Valliere - as we have already seen in one of the
preceding chapters; but, whatever his eloquence, he did not succeed in
persuading the young girl that she had in the king a protector powerful
enough for her under any combination of circumstances, and that she had
no need of any one else in the world when the king was on her side. In
point of fact, at the very first word which the favorite mentioned of the
discovery of the famous secret, Louise, in a passion of tears, abandoned
herself in utter despair to a sorrow which would have been far from
flattering for the king, if he had been a witness of it from one of the
corners of the room. Saint-Aignan, in his character of ambassador, felt
almost as greatly offended at it as his master himself would have been,
and returned to inform the king what he had seen and heard; and it is
thus we find him, in a state of great agitation, in the presence of the
king, who was, if possible, in a state of even greater flurry than himself.

"But," said the king to the courtier, when the latter had finished his
report, "what did she decide to do? Shall I at least see her presently
before supper? Will she come to me, or shall I be obliged to go to her

"I believe, sire, that if your majesty wishes to see her, you will not
only have to take the first step in advance, but will have to go the
whole way."

"That I do not mind. Do you think she has yet a secret fancy for young
Bragelonne?" muttered the king between his teeth.

"Oh! sire, that is not possible; for it is you alone, I am convinced,
Mademoiselle de la Valliere loves, and that, too, with all her heart.
But you know that De Bragelonne belongs to that proud race who play the
part of Roman heroes."

The king smiled feebly; he knew how true the illustration was, for Athos
had just left him.

"As for Mademoiselle de la Valliere," Saint-Aignan continued, "she was
brought up under the care of the Dowager Madame, that is to say, in the
greatest austerity and formality. This young engaged couple coldly
exchanged their little vows in the prim presence of the moon and stars;
and now, when they find they have to break those vows asunder, it plays
the very deuce with them."

Saint-Aignan thought to have made the king laugh; but on the contrary,
from a mere smile Louis passed to the greatest seriousness of manner. He
already began to experience that remorse which the comte had promised
D'Artagnan he would inflict upon him. He reflected that, in fact, these
young persons had loved and sworn fidelity to each other; that one of the
two had kept his word, and that the other was too conscientious not to
feel her perjury most bitterly. And his remorse was not unaccompanied;
for bitter pangs of jealousy began to beset the king's heart. He did not
say another word, and instead of going to pay a visit to his mother, or
the queen, or Madame, in order to amuse himself a little, and make the
ladies laugh, as he himself used to say, he threw himself into the huge
armchair in which his august father Louis XIII. had passed so many weary
days and years in company with Barradat and Cinq-Mars. Saint-Aignan
perceived the king was not to be amused at that moment; he tried a last
resource, and pronounced Louise's name, which made the king look up
immediately. "What does your majesty intend to do this evening - shall
Mademoiselle de la Valliere be informed of your intention to see her?"

"It seems she is already aware of that," replied the king. "No, no,
Saint-Aignan," he continued, after a moment's pause, "we will both of us
pass our time in thinking, and musing, and dreaming; when Mademoiselle de
la Valliere shall have sufficiently regretted what she now regrets, she
will deign, perhaps, to give us some news of herself."

"Ah! sire, is it possible you can so misunderstand her heart, which is so
full of devotion?"

The king rose, flushed from vexation and annoyance; he was a prey to
jealousy as well as to remorse. Saint-Aignan was just beginning to feel
that his position was becoming awkward, when the curtain before the door
was raised. The king turned hastily round; his first idea was that a
letter from Louise had arrived; but, instead of a letter of love, he only
saw his captain of musketeers, standing upright, and perfectly silent in
the doorway. "M. d'Artagnan," he said, "ah! Well, monsieur?"

D'Artagnan looked at Saint-Aignan; the king's eyes took the same
direction as those of his captain; these looks would have been clear to
any one, and for a still greater reason they were so for Saint-Aignan.
The courtier bowed and quitted the room, leaving the king and D'Artagnan

"Is it done?" inquired the king.

"Yes, sire," replied the captain of the musketeers, in a grave voice, "it
is done."

The king was unable to say another word. Pride, however, obliged him not
to pause at what he had done; whenever a sovereign has adopted a decisive
course, even though it be unjust, he is compelled to prove to all
witnesses, and particularly to prove it to himself, that he was quite
right all through. A good means for effecting that - an almost
infallible means, indeed - is, to try and prove his victim to be in the
wrong. Louis, brought up by Mazarin and Anne of Austria, knew better
than any one else his vocation as a monarch; he therefore endeavored to
prove it on the present occasion. After a few moment's pause, which he
had employed in making silently to himself the same reflections which we
have just expressed aloud, he said, in an indifferent tone: "What did the
comte say?"

"Nothing at all, sire."

"Surely he did not allow himself to be arrested without saying something?"

"He said he expected to be arrested, sire."

The king raised his head haughtily. "I presume," he said, "that M. le
Comte de la Fere has not continued to play his obstinate and rebellious

"In the first place, sire, what do you wish to signify by _rebellious?_"
quietly asked the musketeer. "A rebel, in the eyes of the king, is a man
who not only allows himself to be shut up in the Bastile, but still more,
who opposes those who do not wish to take him there."

"Who do not wish to take him there!" exclaimed the king. "What do you
say, captain! Are you mad?"

"I believe not, sire."

"You speak of persons who did not wish to arrest M. de la Fere! Who are
those persons, may I ask?"

"I should say those whom your majesty intrusted with that duty."

"But it was you whom I intrusted with it," exclaimed the king.

"Yes, sire; it was I."

"And yet you say that, despite my orders, you had the intention of not
arresting the man who had insulted me!"

"Yes, sire - that was really my intention. I even proposed to the comte
to mount a horse that I had prepared for him at the Barriere de la

"And what was your object in getting this horse ready?"

"Why, sire, in order that M. le Comte de la Fere might be able to reach
Le Havre, and from that place make his escape to England."

"You betrayed me, then, monsieur?" cried the king, kindling with a wild

"Exactly so."

There was nothing to say in answer to statements made in such a tone; the
king was astounded at such an obstinate and open resistance on the part
of D'Artagnan. "At least you had a reason, Monsieur d'Artagnan, for
acting as you did?" said the king, proudly.

"I have always a reason for everything, sire."

"Your reason cannot be your friendship for the comte, at all events, -
the only one that can be of any avail, the only one that could possibly
excuse you, - for I placed you perfectly at your ease in that respect."

"Me, sire?"

"Did I not give you the choice to arrest, or not to arrest M. le Comte de
la Fere?"

"Yes, sire, but - "

"But what?" exclaimed the king, impatiently.

"But you warned me, sire, that if I did not arrest him, your captain of
the guard should do so."

"Was I not considerate enough towards you, from the very moment I did not
compel you to obey me?"

"To me, sire, you were, but not to my friend, for my friend would be
arrested all the same, whether by myself or by the captain of the guards."

"And this is your devotion, monsieur! a devotion which argues and
reasons. You are no soldier, monsieur!"

"I wait for your majesty to tell me what I am."

"Well, then - you are a Frondeur."

"And since there is no longer any Fronde, sire, in that case - "

"But if what you say is true - "

"What I say is always true, sire."

"What have you come to say to me, monsieur?"

"I have come to say to your majesty, 'Sire, M. de la Fere is in the

"That is not your fault, it would seem."

"That is true, sire; but at all events he is there; and since he is
there, it is important that your majesty should know it."

"Ah! Monsieur d'Artagnan, so you set your king at defiance."

"Sire - "

"Monsieur d'Artagnan! I warn you that you are abusing my patience."

"On the contrary, sire."

"What do you mean by 'on the contrary'?"

"I have come to get myself arrested, too."

"To get yourself arrested, - you!"

"Of course. My friend will get wearied to death in the Bastile by
himself; and I have come to propose to your majesty to permit me to bear
him company; if your majesty will but give me the word, I will arrest
myself; I shall not need the captain of the guards for that, I assure

The king darted towards the table and seized hold of a pen to write the
order for D'Artagnan's imprisonment. "Pay attention, monsieur, that this
is forever," cried the king, in tones of sternest menace.

"I can quite believe that," returned the musketeer; "for when you have
once done such an act as that, you will never be able to look me in the
face again."

The king dashed down his pen violently. "Leave the room, monsieur!" he

"Not so, if it please your majesty."

"What is that you say?"

"Sire, I came to speak gently and temperately to your majesty; your
majesty got into a passion with me; that is a misfortune; but I shall not
the less on that account say what I had to say to you."

"Your resignation, monsieur, - your resignation!" cried the king.

"Sire, you know whether I care about my resignation or not, since at
Blois, on the very day when you refused King Charles the million which my
friend the Comte de la Fere gave him, I then tendered my resignation to
your majesty."

"Very well, monsieur - do it at once!"

"No, sire; for there is no question of my resignation at the present
moment. Your majesty took up your pen just now to send me to the
Bastile, - why should you change your intention?"

"D'Artagnan! Gascon that you are! who is king, allow me to ask, - you or

"You, sire, unfortunately."

"What do you mean by 'unfortunately'?"

"Yes, sire; for if it were I - "

"If it were you, you would approve of M. d'Artagnan's rebellious conduct,
I suppose?"


"Really!" said the king, shrugging his shoulders.

"And I should tell my captain of the musketeers," continued D'Artagnan,
"I should tell him, looking at him all the while with human eyes, and not
with eyes like coals of fire, 'M. d'Artagnan, I had forgotten that I was
the king, for I descended from my throne in order to insult a gentleman.'"

"Monsieur," said the king, "do you think you can excuse your friend by
exceeding him in insolence?"

"Oh! sire! I should go much further than he did," said D'Artagnan; "and
it would be your own fault. I should tell you what he, a man full of the
finest sense of delicacy, did not tell you; I should say - 'Sire, you
have sacrificed his son, and he defended his son - you sacrificed
himself; he addressed you in the name of honor, of religion, of virtue
you repulsed, drove him away, imprisoned him.' I should be harder than
he was, for I should say to you - 'Sire; it is for you to choose. Do you
wish to have friends or lackeys - soldiers or slaves - great men or mere
puppets? Do you wish men to serve you, or to bend and crouch before
you? Do you wish men to love you, or to be afraid of you? If you prefer
baseness, intrigue, cowardice, say so at once, sire, and we will leave
you, - we who are the only individuals who are left, - nay, I will say
more, the only models of the valor of former times; we who have done our
duty, and have exceeded, perhaps, in courage and in merit, the men
already great for posterity. Choose, sire! and that, too, without
delay. Whatever relics remain to you of the great nobility, guard them
with a jealous eye; you will never be deficient in courtiers. Delay not
- and send me to the Bastile with my friend; for, if you did not know how
to listen to the Comte de la Fere, whose voice is the sweetest and
noblest in all the world when honor is the theme; if you do not know how
to listen to D'Artagnan, the frankest and honestest voice of sincerity,
you are a bad king, and to-morrow will be a poor king. And learn from
me, sire, that bad kings are hated by their people, and poor kings are
driven ignominiously away.' That is what I had to say to you, sire; you
were wrong to drive me to say it."

The king threw himself back in his chair, cold as death, and as livid as
a corpse. Had a thunderbolt fallen at his feet, he could not have been
more astonished; he seemed as if his respiration had utterly ceased, and
that he was at the point of death. The honest voice of sincerity, as
D'Artagnan had called it, had pierced through his heart like a sword-

D'Artagnan had said all he had to say. Comprehending the king's anger,
he drew his sword, and, approaching Louis XIV. respectfully, he placed it
on the table. But the king, with a furious gesture, thrust aside the
sword, which fell on the ground and rolled to D'Artagnan's feet.
Notwithstanding the perfect mastery which D'Artagnan exercised over
himself, he, too, in his turn, became pale, and, trembling with
indignation, said: "A king may disgrace a soldier, - he may exile him,
and may even condemn him to death; but were he a hundred times a king, he
has no right to insult him by casting a dishonor upon his sword! Sire, a
king of France has never repulsed with contempt the sword of a man such
as I am! Stained with disgrace as this sword now is, it has henceforth
no other sheath than either your heart or my own! I choose my own, sire;
and you have to thank Heaven and my own patience that I do so." Then
snatching up his sword, he cried, "My blood be upon your head!" and, with
a rapid gesture, he placed the hilt upon the floor and directed the point
of the blade towards his breast. The king, however, with a movement far
more rapid than that of D'Artagnan, threw his right arm around the
musketeer's neck, and with his left hand seized hold of the blade by the
middle, and returned it silently to the scabbard. D'Artagnan, upright,
pale, and still trembling, let the king do all to the very end. Louis,
overcome and softened by gentler feelings, returned to the table, took a
pen in his hand, wrote a few lines, signed them, and then held it out
to D'Artagnan.

"What is this paper, sire?" inquired the captain.

"An order for M. d'Artagnan to set the Comte de la Fere at liberty

D'Artagnan seized the king's hand, and imprinted a kiss upon it; he then
folded the order, placed it in his belt, and quitted the room. Neither
the king nor the captain had uttered a syllable.

"Oh, human heart! thou guide and director of kings," murmured Louis, when
alone, "when shall I learn to read in your inmost recesses, as in the
leaves of a book! Oh, I am not a bad king - nor am I poor king; I am but
still a child, when all is said and done."

Chapter LXV:
Political Rivals.

D'Artagnan had promised M. de Baisemeaux to return in time for dessert,
and he kept his word. They had just reached the finer and more delicate
class of wines and liqueurs with which the governor's cellar had the
reputation of being most admirably stocked, when the silver spurs of the
captain resounded in the corridor, and he himself appeared at the
threshold. Athos and Aramis had played a close game; neither of the two
had been able to gain the slightest advantage over the other. They had
supped, talked a good deal about the Bastile, of the last journey to
Fontainebleau, of the intended _fete_ that M. Fouquet was about to give
at Vaux; they had generalized on every possible subject; and no one,
excepting Baisemeaux, had in the slightest degree alluded to private
matters. D'Artagnan arrived in the very midst of the conversation, still
pale and much disturbed by his interview with the king. Baisemeaux
hastened to give him a chair; D'Artagnan accepted a glass of wine, and
set it down empty. Athos and Aramis both remarked his emotion; as for
Baisemeaux, he saw nothing more than the captain of the king's
musketeers, to whom he endeavored to show every possible attention. But,
although Aramis had remarked his emotion, he had not been able to guess
the cause of it. Athos alone believed he had detected it. For him,
D'Artagnan's return, and particularly the manner in which he, usually so
impassible, seemed overcome, signified, "I have just asked the king
something which the king has refused me." Thoroughly convinced that his
conjecture was correct, Athos smiled, rose from the table, and made a
sign to D'Artagnan, as if to remind him that they had something else to
do than to sup together. D'Artagnan immediately understood him, and
replied by another sign. Aramis and Baisemeaux watched this silent
dialogue, and looked inquiringly at each other. Athos felt that he was
called upon to give an explanation of what was passing.

"The truth is, my friend," said the Comte de la Fere, with a smile, "that
you, Aramis, have been supping with a state criminal, and you, Monsieur
de Baisemeaux, with your prisoner."

Baisemeaux uttered an exclamation of surprise, and almost of delight; for
he was exceedingly proud and vain of his fortress, and for his own
individual profit, the more prisoners he had, the happier he was, and the
higher in rank the prisoners happened to be, the prouder he felt. Aramis
assumed the expression of countenance he thought the position justified,
and said, "Well, dear Athos, forgive me, but I almost suspected what has
happened. Some prank of Raoul and La Valliere, I suppose?"

"Alas!" said Baisemeaux.

"And," continued Aramis, "you, a high and powerful nobleman as you are,
forgetful that courtiers now exist - you have been to the king, I
suppose, and told him what you thought of his conduct?"

"Yes, you have guessed right."

"So that," said Baisemeaux, trembling at having supped so familiarly with
a man who had fallen into disgrace with the king; "so that, monsieur le
comte - "

"So that, my dear governor," said Athos, "my friend D'Artagnan will
communicate to you the contents of the paper which I perceived just
peeping out of his belt, and which assuredly can be nothing else than the
order for my incarceration."

Baisemeaux held out his hand with his accustomed eagerness. D'Artagnan
drew two papers from his belt, and presented one of them to the governor,
who unfolded it, and then read, in a low tone of voice, looking at Athos
over the paper, as he did so, and pausing from time to time: "'Order to
detain, in my chateau of the Bastile, Monsieur le Comte de la Fere.' Oh,
monsieur! this is indeed a very melancholy day for me."

"You will have a patient prisoner, monsieur," said Athos, in his calm,
soft voice.

"A prisoner, too, who will not remain a month with you, my dear
governor," said Aramis; while Baisemeaux, still holding the order in his
hand, transcribed it upon the prison registry.

"Not a day, or rather not even a night," said D'Artagnan, displaying the
second order of the king, "for now, dear M. de Baisemeaux, you will have
the goodness to transcribe also this order for setting the comte
immediately at liberty."

"Ah!" said Aramis, "it is a labor that you have deprived me of,
D'Artagnan;" and he pressed the musketeer's hand in a significant manner,
at the same moment as that of Athos.

"What!" said the latter in astonishment, "the king sets me at liberty!"

"Read, my dear friend," returned D'Artagnan.

Athos took the order and read it. "It is quite true," he said.

"Are you sorry for it?" asked D'Artagnan.

"Oh, no, on the contrary. I wish the king no harm; and the greatest evil
or misfortune that any one can wish kings, is that they should commit an
act of injustice. But you have had a difficult and painful task, I
know. Tell me, have you not, D'Artagnan?"

"I? not at all," said the musketeer, laughing: "the king does everything
I wish him to do."

Aramis looked fixedly at D'Artagnan, and saw that he was not speaking the
truth. But Baisemeaux had eyes for nothing but D'Artagnan, so great was
his admiration for a man who seemed to make the king do all he wished.

"And does the king exile Athos?" inquired Aramis.

"No, not precisely; the king did not explain himself upon that subject,"
replied D'Artagnan; "but I think the comte could not well do better
unless, indeed, he wishes particularly to thank the king - "

"No, indeed," replied Athos, smiling.

"Well, then, I think," resumed D'Artagnan, "that the comte cannot do
better than to retire to his _own_ chateau. However, my dear Athos, you
have only to speak, to tell me what you want. If any particular place of
residence is more agreeable to you than another, I am influential enough,
perhaps, to obtain it for you."

"No, thank you," said Athos; "nothing can be more agreeable to me, my
dear friend, than to return to my solitude beneath my noble trees on the
banks of the Loire. If Heaven be the overruling physician of the evils
of the mind, nature is a sovereign remedy. And so, monsieur," continued
Athos, turning again towards Baisemeaux, "I am now free, I suppose?"

"Yes, monsieur le comte, I think so - at least, I hope so," said the
governor, turning over and over the two papers in question, "unless,
however, M. d'Artagnan has a third order to give me."

"No, my dear Baisemeaux, no," said the musketeer; "the second is quite
enough: we will stop there - if you please."

"Ah! monsieur le comte," said Baisemeaux addressing Athos, "you do not
know what you are losing. I should have placed you among the thirty-
franc prisoners, like the generals - what am I saying? - I mean among the
fifty-francs, like the princes, and you would have supped every evening
as you have done to-night."

"Allow me, monsieur," said Athos, "to prefer my own simpler fare." And
then, turning to D'Artagnan, he said, "Let us go, my dear friend. Shall
I have that greatest of all pleasures for me - that of having you as my

"To the city gate only," replied D'Artagnan, "after which I will tell you
what I told the king: 'I am on duty.'"

"And you, my dear Aramis," said Athos, smiling; "will you accompany me?
La Fere is on the road to Vannes."

"Thank you, my dear friend," said Aramis, "but I have an appointment in
Paris this evening, and I cannot leave without very serious interests
suffering by my absence."

"In that case," said Athos, "I must say adieu, and take my leave of you.
My dear Monsieur de Baisemeaux, I have to thank you exceedingly for your
kind and friendly disposition towards me, and particularly for the
enjoyable specimen you have given me of the ordinary fare of the
Bastile." And, having embraced Aramis, and shaken hands with M. de
Baisemeaux, and having received best wishes for a pleasant journey from
them both, Athos set off with D'Artagnan.

Whilst the _denouement_ of the scene of the Palais Royal was taking place
at the Bastile, let us relate what was going on at the lodgings of Athos
and Bragelonne. Grimaud, as we have seen, had accompanied his master to
Paris; and, as we have said, he was present when Athos went out; he had
observed D'Artagnan gnaw the corners of his mustache; he had seen his
master get into the carriage; he had narrowly examined both their
countenances, and he had known them both for a sufficiently long period
to read and understand, through the mask of their impassibility, that
something serious was the matter. As soon as Athos had gone, he began to
reflect; he then, and then only, remembered the strange manner in which
Athos had taken leave of him, the embarrassment - imperceptible as it
would have been to any but himself - of the master whose ideas were, to
him, so clear and defined, and the expression of whose wishes was so
precise. He knew that Athos had taken nothing with him but the clothes
he had on him at the time; and yet he seemed to fancy that Athos had not
left for an hour merely; or even for a day. A long absence was signified
by the manner in which he pronounced the word "Adieu." All these
circumstances recurred to his mind, with feelings of deep affection for
Athos, with that horror of isolation and solitude which invariably besets
the minds of those who love; and all these combined rendered poor Grimaud
very melancholy, and particularly uneasy. Without being able to account
to himself for what he did since his master's departure, he wandered
about the room, seeking, as it were, for some traces of him, like a
faithful dog, who is not exactly uneasy about his absent master, but at
least is restless. Only as, in addition to the instinct of the animal,
Grimaud subjoined the reasoning faculties of the man, Grimaud therefore
felt uneasy and restless too. Not having found any indication which
could serve as a guide, and having neither seen nor discovered anything
which could satisfy his doubts, Grimaud began to wonder what could
possibly have happened. Besides, imagination is the resource, or rather
the plague of gentle and affectionate hearts. In fact, never does a
feeling heart represent its absent friend to itself as being happy or
cheerful. Never does the dove that wings its flight in search of
adventures inspire anything but terror at home.

Grimaud soon passed from uneasiness to terror; he carefully went over, in
his own mind, everything that had taken place: D'Artagnan's letter to
Athos, the letter which had seemed to distress Athos so much after he had
read it; then Raoul's visit to Athos, which resulted in Athos desiring
him (Grimaud) to get his various orders and his court dress ready to put
on; then his interview with the king, at the end of which Athos had
returned home so unusually gloomy; then the explanation between the
father and the son, at the termination of which Athos had embraced Raoul
with such sadness of expression, while Raoul himself went away equally
weary and melancholy; and finally, D'Artagnan's arrival, biting, as if he
were vexed, the end of his mustache, and leaving again in the carriage,
accompanied by the Comte de la Fere. All this composed a drama in five
acts very clearly, particularly for so analytical an observer as Grimaud.

The first step he took was to search in his master's coat for M.
d'Artagnan's letter; he found the letter still there, and its contents
were found to run as follows:

"MY DEAR FRIEND, - Raoul has been to ask me for some particulars about
the conduct of Mademoiselle de la Valliere, during our young friend's
residence in London. I am a poor captain of musketeers, and I am
sickened to death every day by hearing all the scandal of the barracks
and bedside conversations. If I had told Raoul all I believe, I know the
poor fellow would have died of it; but I am in the king's service, and
cannot relate all I hear about the king's affairs. If your heart tells
you to do it, set off at once; the matter concerns you more than it does
myself, and almost as much as Raoul."

Grimaud tore, not a handful, but a finger-and-thumbful of hair out of his
head; he would have done more if his head of hair had been in a more
flourishing condition.

"Yes," he said, "that is the key of the whole enigma. The young girl has
been playing her pranks; what people say about her and the king is true,
then; our young master has been deceived; he ought to know it. Monsieur
le comte has been to see the king, and has told him a piece of his mind;
and then the king sent M. d'Artagnan to arrange the affair. Ah! gracious
goodness!" continued Grimaud, "monsieur le comte, I now remember,
returned without his sword."

This discovery made the perspiration break out all over poor Grimaud's
face. He did not waste any more time in useless conjecture, but clapped
his hat on his head, and ran to Raoul's lodgings.

Raoul, after Louise had left him, had mastered his grief, if not his
affection; and, compelled to look forward on that perilous road over
which madness and revulsion were hurrying him, he had seen, from the very
first glance, his father exposed to the royal obstinacy, since Athos had
himself been the first to oppose any resistance to the royal will. At
this moment, from a very natural sequence of feeling, the unhappy young
man remembered the mysterious signs which Athos had made, and the
unexpected visit of D'Artagnan; the result of the conflict between a
sovereign and a subject revealed itself to his terrified vision. As
D'Artagnan was on duty, that is, a fixture at his post without the
possibility of leaving it, it was certainly not likely that he had come
to pay Athos a visit merely for the pleasure of seeing him. He must
have come to say something to him. This something in the midst of such
painful conjectures must have been the news of either a misfortune or a
danger. Raoul trembled at having been so selfish as to have forgotten
his father for his affection; at having, in a word, passed his time in
idle dreams, or in an indulgence of despair, at a time when a necessity
existed for repelling such an imminent attack on Athos. The very idea
nearly drove him frantic; he buckled on his sword and ran towards his
father's lodgings. On his way there he encountered Grimaud, who, having
set off from the opposite pole, was running with equal eagerness in
search of the truth. The two men embraced each other most warmly.

"Grimaud," exclaimed Raoul, "is the comte well?"

"Have you seen him?"

"No; where is he?"

"I am trying to find out."

"And M. d'Artagnan?"

"Went out with him."


"Ten minutes after you did."

"In what way did they go out?"

"In a carriage."

"Where did they go?"

"I have no idea at all."

"Did my father take any money with him?"


"Or his sword?"


"I have an idea, Grimaud, that M. d'Artagnan came in order to - "

"Arrest monsieur le comte, do you not think, monsieur?"

"Yes, Grimaud."

"I could have sworn it."

"What road did they take?"

"The way leading towards the quay."

"To the Bastile, then?"

"Yes, yes."

"Quick, quick; let us run."

"Yes, let us not lose a moment."

"But where are we to go?" said Raoul, overwhelmed.

"We will go to M. d'Artagnan's first, we may perhaps learn something

"No; if they keep me in ignorance at my father's, they will do the same
everywhere. Let us go to - Oh, good heavens! why, I must be mad to-day,
Grimaud; I have forgotten M. du Vallon, who is waiting for and expecting
me still."

"Where is he, then?"

"At the Minimes of Vincennes."

"Thank goodness, that is on the same side as the Bastile. I will run and
saddle the horses, and we will go at once," said Grimaud.

"Do, my friend, do."

Chapter LXVI:
In Which Porthos Is Convinced without Having Understood Anything.

The good and worthy Porthos, faithful to all the laws of ancient
chivalry, had determined to wait for M. de Saint-Aignan until sunset; and
as Saint-Aignan did not come, as Raoul had forgotten to communicate with
his second, and as he found that waiting so long was very wearisome,
Porthos had desired one of the gate-keepers to fetch him a few bottles of
good wine and a good joint of meat, - so that, at least, he might pass
away the time by means of a glass or two and a mouthful of something to
eat. He had just finished when Raoul arrived, escorted by Grimaud, both
of them riding at full speed. As soon as Porthos saw the two cavaliers
riding at such a pace along the road, he did not for a moment doubt but
that they were the men he was expecting, and he rose from the grass upon
which he had been indolently reclining and began to stretch his legs and
arms, saying, "See what it is to have good habits. The fellow has
finished by coming, after all. If I had gone away he would have found no
one here and would have taken advantage of that." He then threw himself
into a martial attitude, and drew himself up to the full height of his
gigantic stature. But instead of Saint-Aignan, he only saw Raoul, who,
with the most despairing gestures, accosted him by crying out, "Pray
forgive me, my dear friend, I am most wretched."

"Raoul!" cried Porthos, surprised.

"You have been angry with me?" said Raoul, embracing Porthos.

"I? What for?"

"For having forgotten you. But I assure you my head seems utterly lost.
If you only knew!"

"You have killed him?"


"Saint-Aignan; or, if that is not the case, what is the matter?"

"The matter is, that Monsieur le Comte de la Fere has by this time been

Porthos gave a start that would have thrown down a wall.

"Arrested!" he cried out; "by whom?"

"By D'Artagnan."

"It is impossible," said Porthos.

"My dear friend, it is perfectly true."

Porthos turned towards Grimaud, as if he needed a second confirmation of
the intelligence.

Grimaud nodded his head. "And where have they taken him?"

"Probably to the Bastile."

"What makes you think that?"

"As we came along we questioned some persons, who saw the carriage pass;
and others who saw it enter the Bastile."

"Oh!" muttered Porthos.

"What do you intend to do?" inquired Raoul.

"I? Nothing; only I will not have Athos remain at the Bastile."

"Do you know," said Raoul, advancing nearer to Porthos, "that the arrest
was made by order of the king?"

Porthos looked at the young man, as if to say, "What does that matter to
me?" This dumb language seemed so eloquent of meaning to Raoul that he
did not ask any other question. He mounted his horse again; and Porthos,
assisted by Grimaud, had already done the same.

"Let us arrange our plan of action," said Raoul.

"Yes," returned Porthos, "that is the best thing we can do."

Raoul sighed deeply, and then paused suddenly.

"What is the matter?" asked Porthos; "are you faint?"

"No, only I feel how utterly helpless our position is. Can we three
pretend to go and take the Bastile?"

"Well, if D'Artagnan were only here," replied Porthos, "I am not so very
certain we would fail."

Raoul could not resist a feeling of admiration at the sight of such
perfect confidence, heroic in its simplicity. These were truly the
celebrated men who, by three or four, attacked armies and assaulted
castles! Men who had terrified death itself, who had survived the wrecks
of a tempestuous age, and still stood, stronger than the most robust of
the young.

"Monsieur," said he to Porthos, "you have just given me an idea; we
absolutely must see M. d'Artagnan."


"He ought by this time to have returned home, after having taken my
father to the Bastile. Let us go to his house."

"First inquire at the Bastile," said Grimaud, who was in the habit of
speaking little, but that to the purpose.

Accordingly, they hastened towards the fortress, when one of those
chances which Heaven bestows on men of strong will caused Grimaud
suddenly to perceive the carriage, which was entering by the great gate
of the drawbridge. This was the moment that D'Artagnan was, as we have
seen, returning from his visit to the king. In vain was it that Raoul
urged on his horse in order to join the carriage, and to see whom it
contained. The horses had already gained the other side of the great
gate, which again closed, while one of the sentries struck the nose of
Raoul's horse with his musket; Raoul turned about, only too happy to find
he had ascertained something respecting the carriage which had contained
his father.

"We have him," said Grimaud.

"If we wait a little it is certain he will leave; don't you think so, my

"Unless, indeed, D'Artagnan also be a prisoner," replied Porthos, "in
which case everything is lost."

Raoul returned no answer, for any hypothesis was admissible. He
instructed Grimaud to lead the horses to the little street Jean-Beausire,
so as to give rise to less suspicion, and himself with his piercing gaze
watched for the exit either of D'Artagnan or the carriage. Nor had he
decided wrongly; for twenty minutes had not elapsed before the gate
reopened and the carriage reappeared. A dazzling of the eyes prevented
Raoul from distinguishing what figures occupied the interior. Grimaud
averred that he had seen two persons, and that one of them was his
master. Porthos kept looking at Raoul and Grimaud by turns, in the hope
of understanding their idea.

"It is clear," said Grimaud, "that if the comte is in the carriage,
either he is set at liberty or they are taking him to another prison."

"We shall soon see that by the road he takes," answered Porthos.

"If he is set at liberty," said Grimaud, "they will conduct him home."

"True," rejoined Porthos.

"The carriage does not take that way," cried Raoul; and indeed the horses
were just disappearing down the Faubourg St. Antoine.

"Let us hasten," said Porthos; "we will attack the carriage on the road
and tell Athos to flee."

"Rebellion," murmured Raoul.

Porthos darted a second glance at Raoul, quite worthy of the first.
Raoul replied only by spurring the flanks of his steed. In a few moments
the three cavaliers had overtaken the carriage, and followed it so
closely that their horses' breath moistened the back of it. D'Artagnan,
whose senses were ever on the alert, heard the trot of the horses, at the
moment when Raoul was telling Porthos to pass the chariot, so as to see
who was the person accompanying Athos. Porthos complied, but could not
see anything, for the blinds were lowered. Rage and impatience were
gaining mastery over Raoul. He had just noticed the mystery preserved by
Athos's companion, and determined on proceeding to extremities. On his
part D'Artagnan had perfectly recognized Porthos, and Raoul also, from
under the blinds, and had communicated to the comte the result of his
observation. They were desirous only of seeing whether Raoul and Porthos
would push the affair to the uttermost. And this they speedily did, for
Raoul, presenting his pistol, threw himself on the leader, commanding the
coachmen to stop. Porthos seized the coachman, and dragged him from his
seat. Grimaud already had hold of the carriage door. Raoul threw open
his arms, exclaiming, "M. le comte! M. le comte!"

"Ah! is it you, Raoul?" said Athos, intoxicated with joy.

"Not bad, indeed!" added D'Artagnan, with a burst of laughter, and they
both embraced the young man and Porthos, who had taken possession of them.

"My brave Porthos! best of friends," cried Athos, "it is still the same
old way with you."

"He is still only twenty," said D'Artagnan, "brave Porthos!"

"Confound it," answered Porthos, slightly confused, "we thought that you
were being arrested."

"While," rejoined Athos, "the matter in question was nothing but my
taking a drive in M. d'Artagnan's carriage."

"But we followed you from the Bastile," returned Raoul, with a tone of
suspicion and reproach.

"Where we had been to take supper with our friend M. Baisemeaux. Do you
recollect Baisemeaux, Porthos?"

"Very well, indeed."

"And there we saw Aramis."

"In the Bastile?"

"At supper."

"Ah!" said Porthos, again breathing freely.

"He gave us a thousand messages to you."

"And where is M. le comte going?" asked Grimaud, already recompensed by a
smile from his master.

"We were going home to Blois."

"How can that be?"

"At once?" said Raoul.

"Yes, right forward."

"Without any luggage?"

"Oh! Raoul would have been instructed to forward me mine, or to bring it
with him on his return, _if_ he returns."

"If nothing detains him longer in Paris," said D'Artagnan, with a glance
firm and cutting as steel, and as painful (for it reopened the poor young
fellow's wounds), "he will do well to follow you, Athos."

"There is nothing to keep me any longer in Paris," said Raoul.

"Then we will go immediately."

"And M. d'Artagnan?"

"Oh! as for me, I was only accompanying Athos as far as the barrier, and
I return with Porthos."

"Very good," said the latter.

"Come, my son," added the comte, gently passing his arm around Raoul's
neck to draw him into the carriage, and again embracing him. "Grimaud,"
continued the comte, "you will return quietly to Paris with your horse
and M. du Vallon's, for Raoul and I will mount here and give up the
carriage to these two gentlemen to return to Paris in; and then, as soon
as you arrive, you will take my clothes and letters and forward the whole
to me at home."

"But," observed Raoul, who was anxious to make the comte converse, "when
you return to Paris, there will not be a single thing there for you
which will be very inconvenient."

"I think it will be a very long time, Raoul, ere I return to Paris. The
last sojourn we have made there has not been of a nature to encourage me
to repeat it."

Raoul hung down his head and said not a word more. Athos descended from
the carriage and mounted the horse which had brought Porthos, and which
seemed no little pleased at the exchange. Then they embraced, and
clasped each other's hands, and interchanged a thousand pledges of
eternal friendship. Porthos promised to spend a month with Athos at the
first opportunity. D'Artagnan engaged to take advantage of his first
leave of absence; and then, having embraced Raoul for the last time: "To
you, my boy," said he, "I will write." Coming from D'Artagnan, who he
knew wrote very seldom, these words expressed everything. Raoul was
moved even to tears. He tore himself away from the musketeer and

D'Artagnan rejoined Porthos in the carriage: "Well," said he, "my dear
friend, what a day we have had!"

"Indeed we have," answered Porthos.

"You must be quite worn out."

"Not quite; however, I shall retire early to rest, so as to be ready for

"And wherefore?"

"Why! to complete what I have begun."

"You make me shudder, my friend, you seem to me quite angry. What the
devil _have_ you begun which is not finished?"

"Listen; Raoul has not fought, but _I_ must fight!"

"With whom? with the king?"

"How!" exclaimed Porthos, astounded, "with the king?"

"Yes, I say, you great baby, with the king."

"I assure you it is with M. Saint-Aignan."

"Look now, this is what I mean; you draw your sword against the king in
fighting with this gentleman."

"Ah!" said Porthos, staring; "are you sure of it?"

"Indeed I am."

"What in the world are we to do, then?"

"We must try and make a good supper, Porthos. The captain of the
musketeers keeps a tolerable table. There you will see the handsome
Saint-Aignan, and will drink his health."

"I?" cried Porthos, horrified.

"What!" said D'Artagnan, "you refuse to drink the king's health?"

"But, body alive! I am not talking to you about the king at all; I am
speaking of M. de Saint-Aignan."

"But when I repeat that it is the same thing?"

"Ah, well, well!" said Porthos, overcome.

"You understand, don't you?"

"No," answered Porthos, "but 'tis all the same."

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