Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Louise de la Valliere by Alexandre Dumas, Pere

Part 2 out of 12

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.3 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

the shells of which were scattered all over the floor, where they were
trampled by every one who went in and out of the shop; Porthos pulled
from the stalk with his lips, at one mouthful, bunches of the rich
Muscatel raisins with their beautiful bloom, half a pound of which passed
at one gulp from his mouth to his stomach. In one of the corners of the
shop, Planchet's assistants, huddled together, looked at each other
without venturing to open their lips. They did not know who Porthos was,
for they had never seen him before. The race of those Titans who had
worn the cuirasses of Hugh Capet, Philip Augustus, and Francis I. had
already begun to disappear. They could hardly help thinking he might be
the ogre of the fairy tale, who was going to turn the whole contents of
Planchet's shop into his insatiable stomach, and that, too, without in
the slightest degree displacing the barrels and chests that were in it.
Cracking, munching, chewing, nibbling, sucking, and swallowing, Porthos
occasionally said to the grocer:

"You do a very good business here, friend Planchet."

"He will very soon have none at all to do, if this sort of thing
continues," grumbled the foreman, who had Planchet's word that he should
be his successor. In the midst of his despair, he approached Porthos,
who blocked up the whole of the passage leading from the back shop to the
shop itself. He hoped that Porthos would rise and that this movement
would distract his devouring ideas.

"What do you want, my man?" asked Porthos, affably.

"I should like to pass you, monsieur, if it is not troubling you too

"Very well," said Porthos, "it does not trouble me in the least."

At the same moment he took hold of the young fellow by the waistband,
lifted him off the ground, and placed him very gently on the other side,
smiling all the while with the same affable expression. As soon as
Porthos had placed him on the ground, the lad's legs so shook under him
that he fell back upon some sacks of corks. But noticing the giant's
gentleness of manner, he ventured again, and said:

"Ah, monsieur! pray be careful."

"What about?" inquired Porthos.

"You are positively putting a fiery furnace into your body."

"How is that, my good fellow?"

"All those things are very heating to the system!"


"Raisins, nuts, and almonds."

"Yes; but if raisins, nuts, and almonds are heating - "

"There is no doubt at all of it, monsieur."

"Honey is very cooling," said Porthos, stretching out his hand toward a
small barrel of honey which was open, and he plunged the scoop with which
the wants of the customers were supplied into it, and swallowed a good
half-pound at one gulp.

"I must trouble you for some water now, my man," said Porthos.

"In a pail, monsieur?" asked the lad, simply.

"No, in a water-bottle; that will be quite enough;" and raising the
bottle to his mouth, as a trumpeter does his trumpet, he emptied the
bottle at a single draught.

Planchet was agitated in every fibre of propriety and self-esteem.
However, a worthy representative of the hospitality which prevailed in
early days, he feigned to be talking very earnestly with D'Artagnan, and
incessantly repeated: - "Ah! monsieur, what a happiness! what an honor!"

"What time shall we have supper, Planchet?" inquired Porthos, "I feel

The foreman clasped his hands together. The two others got under the
counters, fearing Porthos might have a taste for human flesh.

"We shall only take a sort of snack here," said D'Artagnan; "and when we
get to Planchet's country-seat, we will have supper."

"Ah, ah! so we are going to your country-house, Planchet," said Porthos;
"so much the better."

"You overwhelm me, monsieur le baron."

The "monsieur le baron" had a great effect upon the men, who detected a
personage of the highest quality in an appetite of that kind. This
title, too, reassured them. They had never heard that an ogre was ever
called "monsieur le baron".

"I will take a few biscuits to eat on the road," said Porthos,
carelessly; and he emptied a whole jar of aniseed biscuits into the huge
pocket of his doublet.

"My shop is saved!" exclaimed Planchet.

"Yes, as the cheese was," whispered the foreman.

"What cheese?"

"The Dutch cheese, inside which a rat had made his way, and we found only
the rind left."

Planchet looked all round his shop, and observing the different articles
which had escaped Porthos's teeth, he found the comparison somewhat
exaggerated. The foreman, who remarked what was passing in his master's
mind, said, "Take care; he is not gone yet."

"Have you any fruit here?" said Porthos, as he went upstairs to the
_entresol_, where it had just been announced that some refreshment was

"Alas!" thought the grocer, addressing a look at D'Artagnan full of
entreaty, which the latter half understood.

As soon as they had finished eating they set off. It was late when the
three riders, who had left Paris about six in the evening, arrived at
Fontainebleau. The journey passed very agreeably. Porthos took a fancy
to Planchet's society, because the latter was very respectful in his
manners, and seemed delighted to talk to him about his meadows, his
woods, and his rabbit-warrens. Porthos had all the taste and pride of a
landed proprietor. When D'Artagnan saw his two companions in earnest
conversation, he took the opposite side of the road, and letting his
bridle drop upon his horse's neck, separated himself from the whole
world, as he had done from Porthos and from Planchet. The moon shone
softly through the foliage of the forest. The breezes of the open
country rose deliciously perfumed to the horse's nostrils, and they
snorted and pranced along delightedly. Porthos and Planchet began to
talk about hay-crops. Planchet admitted to Porthos that in the advanced
years of his life, he had certainly neglected agricultural pursuits for
commerce, but that his childhood had been passed in Picardy in the
beautiful meadows where the grass grew as high as the knees, and where he
had played under the green apple-trees covered with red-cheeked fruit; he
went on to say, that he had solemnly promised himself that as soon as he
should have made his fortune, he would return to nature, and end his
days, as he had begun them, as near as he possibly could to the earth
itself, where all men must sleep at last.

"Eh, eh!" said Porthos; "in that case, my dear Monsieur Planchet, your
retirement is not far distant."

"How so?"

"Why, you seem to be in the way of making your fortune very soon."

"Well, we are getting on pretty well, I must admit," replied Planchet.

"Come, tell me what is the extent of your ambition, and what is the
amount you intend to retire upon?"

"There is one circumstance, monsieur," said Planchet, without answering
the question, "which occasions me a good deal of anxiety."

"What is it?" inquired Porthos, looking all round him as if in search of
the circumstance that annoyed Planchet, and desirous of freeing him from

"Why, formerly," said the grocer, "you used to call me Planchet quite
short, and you would have spoken to me then in a much more familiar
manner than you do now."

"Certainly, certainly, I should have said so formerly," replied the good-
natured Porthos, with an embarrassment full of delicacy; "but formerly - "

"Formerly I was M. d'Artagnan's lackey; is not that what you mean?"


"Well if I am not quite his lackey, I am as much as ever I was his
devoted servant; and more than that, since that time - "

"Well, Planchet?"

"Since that time, I have had the honor of being in partnership with him."

"Oh, oh!" said Porthos. "What, has D'Artagnan gone into the grocery

"No, no," said D'Artagnan, whom these words had drawn out of his reverie,
and who entered into the conversation with that readiness and rapidity
which distinguished every operation of his mind and body. "It was not
D'Artagnan who entered into the grocery business, but Planchet who
entered into a political affair with me."

"Yes," said Planchet, with mingled pride and satisfaction, "we transacted
a little business which brought me in a hundred thousand francs and M.
d'Artagnan two hundred thousand."

"Oh, oh!" said Porthos, with admiration.

"So that, monsieur le baron," continued the grocer, "I again beg you to
be kind enough to call me Planchet, as you used to do; and to speak to me
as familiarly as in old times. You cannot possibly imagine the pleasure
it would give me."

"If that be the case, my dear Planchet, I will do so, certainly," replied
Porthos. And as he was quite close to Planchet, he raised his hand, as
if to strike him on the shoulder, in token of friendly cordiality; but a
fortunate movement of the horse made him miss his aim, so that his hand
fell on the crupper of Planchet's horse, instead; which made the animal's
legs almost give way.

D'Artagnan burst out laughing, as he said, "Take care, Planchet; for if
Porthos begins to like you so much, he will caress you, and if he
caresses you he will knock you as flat as a pancake. Porthos is still
as strong as every, you know."

"Oh," said Planchet, "Mousqueton is not dead, and yet monsieur le baron
is very fond of him."

"Certainly," said Porthos, with a sigh which made all the three horses
rear; "and I was only saying, this very morning, to D'Artagnan, how much
I regretted him. But tell me, Planchet?"

"Thank you, monsieur le baron, thank you."

"Good lad, good lad! How many acres of park have you got?"

"Of park?"

"Yes; we will reckon up the meadows presently, and the woods afterwards."

"Whereabouts, monsieur?"
"At your chateau."

"Oh, monsieur le baron, I have neither chateau, nor park, nor meadows,
nor woods."

"What have you got, then?" inquired Porthos, "and why do you call it a

"I did not call it a country-seat, monsieur le baron," replied Planchet,
somewhat humiliated, "but a country-box."

"Ah, ah! I understand. You are modest."

"No, monsieur le baron, I speak the plain truth. I have rooms for a
couple of friends, that's all."

"But in that case, whereabouts do your friends walk?"

"In the first place, they can walk about the king's forest, which is very

"Yes, I know the forest is very fine," said Porthos; "nearly as beautiful
as my forest at Berry."

Planchet opened his eyes very wide. "Have you a forest of the same kind
as the forest at Fontainebleau, monsieur le baron?" he stammered out.

"Yes; I have two, indeed, but the one at Berry is my favorite."

"Why so?" asked Planchet.

"Because I don't know where it ends; and, also, because it is full of

"How can the poachers make the forest so agreeable to you?"

"Because they hunt my game, and I hunt them - which, in these peaceful
times, is for me a sufficiently pleasing picture of war on a small scale."

They had reached this turn of conversation, when Planchet, looking up,
perceived the houses at the commencement of Fontainebleau, the lofty
outlines of which stood out strongly against the misty visage of the
heavens; whilst, rising above the compact and irregularly formed mass of
buildings, the pointed roofs of the chateau were clearly visible, the
slates of which glistened beneath the light of the moon, like the scales
of an immense fish. "Gentlemen," said Planchet, "I have the honor to
inform you that we have arrived at Fontainebleau."

Chapter V:
Planchet's Country-House.

The cavaliers looked up, and saw that what Planchet had announced to them
was true. Ten minutes afterwards they were in the street called the Rue
de Lyon, on the opposite side of the hostelry of the Beau Paon. A high
hedge of bushy elders, hawthorn, and wild hops formed an impenetrable
fence, behind which rose a white house, with a high tiled roof. Two of
the windows, which were quite dark, looked upon the street. Between the
two, a small door, with a porch supported by a couple of pillars, formed
the entrance to the house. The door was gained by a step raised a little
from the ground. Planchet got off his horse, as if he intended to knock
at the door; but, on second thoughts, he took hold of his horse by the
bridle, and led it about thirty paces further on, his two companions
following him. He then advanced about another thirty paces, until he
arrived at the door of a cart-house, lighted by an iron grating; and,
lifting up a wooden latch, pushed open one of the folding-doors. He
entered first, leading his horse after him by the bridle, into a small
courtyard, where an odor met them which revealed their close vicinity to
a stable. "That smells all right," said Porthos, loudly, getting off his
horse, "and I almost begin to think I am near my own cows at Pierrefonds."

"I have only one cow," Planchet hastened to say modestly.

"And I have thirty," said Porthos; "or rather, I don't exactly know how
many I have."

When the two cavaliers had entered, Planchet fastened the door behind
them. In the meantime, D'Artagnan, who had dismounted with his usual
agility, inhaled the fresh perfumed air with the delight a Parisian feels
at the sight of green fields and fresh foliage, plucked a piece of
honeysuckle with one hand, and of sweet-briar with the other. Porthos
clawed hold of some peas which were twined round poles stuck into the
ground, and ate, or rather browsed upon them, shells and all: and
Planchet was busily engaged trying to wake up an old and infirm peasant,
who was fast asleep in a shed, lying on a bed of moss, and dressed in an
old stable suit of clothes. The peasant, recognizing Planchet, called
him "the master," to the grocer's great satisfaction. "Stable the horses
well, old fellow, and you shall have something good for yourself," said

"Yes, yes; fine animals they are too," said the peasant. "Oh! they shall
have as much as they like."

"Gently, gently, my man," said D'Artagnan, "we are getting on a little
too fast. A few oats and a good bed - nothing more."

"Some bran and water for my horse," said Porthos, "for it is very warm, I

"Don't be afraid, gentlemen," replied Planchet; "Daddy Celestin is an old
gendarme, who fought at Ivry. He knows all about horses; so come into
the house." And he led the way along a well-sheltered walk, which
crossed a kitchen-garden, then a small paddock, and came out into a
little garden behind the house, the principal front of which, as we have
already noticed, faced the street. As they approached, they could see,
through two open windows on the ground floor, which led into a sitting-
room, the interior of Planchet's residence. This room, softly lighted by
a lamp placed on the table, seemed, from the end of the garden, like a
smiling image of repose, comfort, and happiness. In every direction
where the rays of light fell, whether upon a piece of old china, or upon
an article of furniture shining from excessive neatness, or upon the
weapons hanging against the wall, the soft light was softly reflected;
and its rays seemed to linger everywhere upon something or another,
agreeable to the eye. The lamp which lighted the room, whilst the
foliage of jasmine and climbing roses hung in masses from the window-
frames, splendidly illuminated a damask table-cloth as white as snow.
The table was laid for two persons. Amber-colored wine sparkled in a
long cut-glass bottle; and a large jug of blue china, with a silver lid,
was filled with foaming cider. Near the table, in a high-backed
armchair, reclined, fast asleep, a woman of about thirty years of age,
her face the very picture of health and freshness. Upon her knees lay a
large cat, with her paws folded under her, and her eyes half-closed,
purring in that significant manner which, according to feline habits,
indicates perfect contentment. The two friends paused before the window
in complete amazement, while Planchet, perceiving their astonishment, was
in no little degree secretly delighted at it.

"Ah! Planchet, you rascal," said D'Artagnan, "I now understand your

"Oh, oh! there is some white linen!" said Porthos, in his turn, in a
voice of thunder. At the sound of this gigantic voice, the cat took
flight, the housekeeper woke up with a start, and Planchet, assuming a
gracious air, introduced his two companions into the room, where the
table was already laid.

"Permit me, my dear," he said, "to present to you Monsieur le Chevalier
d'Artagnan, my patron." D'Artagnan took the lady's hand in his in the
most courteous manner, and with precisely the same chivalrous air as he
would have taken Madame's.

"Monsieur le Baron du Vallon de Bracieux de Pierrefonds," added
Planchet. Porthos bowed with a reverence which Anne of Austria would
have approved of.

It was then Planchet's turn, and he unhesitatingly embraced the lady in
question, not, however, until he had made a sign as if requesting
D'Artagnan's and Porthos's permission, a permission as a matter of course
frankly conceded. D'Artagnan complimented Planchet, and said, "You are
indeed a man who knows how to make life agreeable."

"Life, monsieur," said Planchet, laughing, "is capital which a man ought
to invest as sensibly as he possibly can."

"And you get very good interest for yours," said Porthos, with a burst of
laughter like a peal of thunder.

Planchet turned to his housekeeper. "You have before you," he said to
her, "the two gentlemen who influenced the greatest, gayest, grandest
portion of my life. I have spoken to you about them both very

"And about two others as well," said the lady, with a very decided
Flemish accent.

"Madame is Dutch?" inquired D'Artagnan. Porthos curled his mustache, a
circumstance which was not lost upon D'Artagnan, who noticed everything.

"I am from Antwerp," said the lady.

"And her name is Madame Getcher," said Planchet.

"You should not call her madame," said D'Artagnan.

"Why not?" asked Planchet.

"Because it would make her seem older every time you call her so."

"Well, I call her Truchen."

"And a very pretty name too," said Porthos.

"Truchen," said Planchet, "came to me from Flanders with her virtue and
two thousand florins. She ran away from a brute of a husband who was in
the habit of beating her. Being myself a Picard born, I was always very
fond of the Artesian women, and it is only a step from Artois to
Flanders; she came crying bitterly to her godfather, my predecessor in
the Rue des Lombards; she placed her two thousand florins in my
establishment, which I have turned to very good account, and which have
brought her in ten thousand."

"Bravo, Planchet."

"She is free and well off; she has a cow, a maid servant and old Celestin
at her orders; she mends my linen, knits my winter stockings; she only
sees me every fortnight, and seems to make herself in all things
tolerably happy.

"And indeed, gentlemen, I _am_ very happy and comfortable," said Truchen,
with perfect ingenuousness.

Porthos began to curl the other side of his mustache. "The deuce,"
thought D'Artagnan, "can Porthos have any intentions in that quarter?"

In the meantime Truchen had set her cook to work, had laid the table for
two more, and covered it with every possible delicacy that could convert
a light supper into a substantial meal, a meal into a regular feast.
Fresh butter, salt beef, anchovies, tunny, a shopful of Planchet's
commodities, fowls, vegetables, salad, fish from the pond and the river,
game from the forest - all the produce, in fact, of the province.
Moreover, Planchet returned from the cellar, laden with ten bottles of
wine, the glass of which could hardly be seen for the thick coating of
dust which covered them. Porthos's heart began to expand as he said, "I
am hungry," and he sat himself beside Madame Truchen, whom he looked at
in the most killing manner. D'Artagnan seated himself on the other side
of her, while Planchet, discreetly and full of delight, took his seat

"Do not trouble yourselves," he said, "if Truchen should leave the table
now and then during supper; for she will have to look after your bedrooms."

In fact, the housekeeper made her escape quite frequently, and they could
hear, on the first floor above them, the creaking of the wooden bedsteads
and the rolling of the castors on the floor. While this was going on,
the three men, Porthos especially, ate and drank gloriously, - it was
wonderful to see them. The ten full bottles were ten empty one by the
time Truchen returned with the cheese. D'Artagnan still preserved his
dignity and self-possession, but Porthos had lost a portion of his; and
the mirth soon began to grow somewhat uproarious. D'Artagnan recommended
a new descent into the cellar, and, as Planchet no longer walked with the
steadiness of a well-trained foot-soldier, the captain of the musketeers
proposed to accompany him. They set off, humming songs wild enough to
frighten anybody who might be listening. Truchen remained behind at
table with Porthos. While the two wine-bibbers were looking behind the
firewood for what they wanted, a sharp report was heard like the impact
of a pair of lips on a lady's cheek.

"Porthos fancies himself at La Rochelle," thought D'Artagnan, as they
returned freighted with bottles. Planchet was singing so loudly that he
was incapable of noticing anything. D'Artagnan, whom nothing ever
escaped, remarked how much redder Truchen's left cheek was than her
right. Porthos was sitting on Truchen's left, and was curling with both
his hands both sides of his mustache at once, and Truchen was looking at
him with a most bewitching smile. The sparkling wine of Anjou very soon
produced a remarkable effect upon the three companions. D'Artagnan had
hardly strength enough left to take a candlestick to light Planchet up
his own staircase. Planchet was pulling Porthos along, who was following
Truchen, who was herself jovial enough. It was D'Artagnan who found out
the rooms and the beds. Porthos threw himself into the one destined for
him, after his friend had undressed him. D'Artagnan got into his own
bed, saying to himself, "_Mordioux!_ I had made up my mind never to
touch that light-colored wine, which brings my early camp days back
again. Fie! fie! if my musketeers were only to see their captain in such
a state." And drawing the curtains of his bed, he added, "Fortunately
enough, though, they will not see me."

"The country is very amusing," said Porthos, stretching out his legs,
which passed through the wooden footboard, and made a tremendous crash,
of which, however, no one in the house was capable of taking the
slightest notice. By two o'clock in the morning every one was fast

Chapter VI:
Showing What Could Be Seen from Planchet's House.

The next morning found the three heroes sleeping soundly. Truchen had
closed the outside blinds to keep the first rays of the sun from the
leaden-lidded eyes of her guests, like a kind, good housekeeper. It was
still perfectly dark, then, beneath Porthos's curtains and under
Planchet's canopy, when D'Artagnan, awakened by an indiscreet ray of
light which made its way through a peek-hole in the shutters, jumped
hastily out of bed, as if he wished to be the first at a forlorn hope.
He took by assault Porthos's room, which was next to his own. The worthy
Porthos was sleeping with a noise like distant thunder; in the dim
obscurity of the room his gigantic frame was prominently displayed, and
his swollen fist hung down outside the bed upon the carpet. D'Artagnan
awoke Porthos, who rubbed his eyes in a tolerably good humor. In the
meantime Planchet was dressing himself, and met at their bedroom doors
his two guests, who were still somewhat unsteady from their previous
evening's entertainment. Although it was yet very early, the whole
household was already up. The cook was mercilessly slaughtering in the
poultry-yard; Celestin was gathering white cherries in the garden.
Porthos, brisk and lively as ever, held out his hand to Planchet's, and
D'Artagnan requested permission to embrace Madame Truchen. The latter,
to show that she bore no ill-will, approached Porthos, upon whom she
conferred the same favor. Porthos embraced Madame Truchen, heaving an
enormous sigh. Planchet took both his friends by the hand.

"I am going to show you over the house," he said; "when we arrived last
night it was as dark as an oven, and we were unable to see anything; but
in broad daylight, everything looks different, and you will be satisfied,
I hope."

"If we begin by the view you have here," said D'Artagnan, "that charms me
beyond everything; I have always lived in royal mansions, you know, and
royal personages have tolerably sound ideas upon the selection of points
of view."

"I am a great stickler for a good view myself," said Porthos. "At my
Chateau de Pierrefonds, I have had four avenues laid out, and at the end
of each is a landscape of an altogether different character from the

"You shall see _my_ prospect," said Planchet; and he led his two guests
to a window.

"Ah!" said D'Artagnan, "this is the Rue de Lyon."

"Yes, I have two windows on this side, a paltry, insignificant view, for
there is always that bustling and noisy inn, which is a very disagreeable
neighbor. I had four windows here, but I bricked up two."

"Let us go on," said D'Artagnan.

They entered a corridor leading to the bedrooms, and Planchet pushed open
the outside blinds.

"Hollo! what is that out yonder?" said Porthos.

"The forest," said Planchet. "It is the horizon, - a thick line of
green, which is yellow in the spring, green in the summer, red in the
autumn, and white in the winter."

"All very well, but it is like a curtain, which prevents one seeing a
greater distance."

"Yes," said Planchet; "still, one can see, at all events, everything that

"Ah, the open country," said Porthos. "But what is that I see out there,
- crosses and stones?"

"Ah, that is the cemetery," exclaimed D'Artagnan.

"Precisely," said Planchet; "I assure you it is very curious. Hardly a
day passes that some one is not buried there; for Fontainebleau is by no
means an inconsiderable place. Sometimes we see young girls clothed in
white carrying banners; at others, some of the town-council, or rich
citizens, with choristers and all the parish authorities; and then, too,
we see some of the officers of the king's household."

"I should not like that," said Porthos.

"There is not much amusement in it, at all events," said D'Artagnan.

"I assure you it encourages religious thoughts," replied Planchet.

"Oh, I don't deny that."

"But," continued Planchet, "we must all die one day or another, and I
once met with a maxim somewhere which I have remembered, that the thought
of death is a thought that will do us all good."

"I am far from saying the contrary," said Porthos.

"But," objected D'Artagnan, "the thought of green fields, flowers,
rivers, blue horizons, extensive and boundless plains, is no likely to do
us good."

"If I had any, I should be far from rejecting them," said Planchet; "but
possessing only this little cemetery, full of flowers, so moss-grown,
shady, and quiet, I am contented with it, and I think of those who live
in town, in the Rue des Lombards, for instance, and who have to listen to
the rumbling of a couple of thousand vehicles every day, and to the
soulless tramp, tramp, tramp of a hundred and fifty thousand foot-

"But living," said Porthos; "living, remember that."

"That is exactly the reason," said Planchet, timidly, "why I feel it does
me good to contemplate a few dead."

"Upon my word," said D'Artagnan, "that fellow Planchet is born a
philosopher as well as a grocer."

"Monsieur," said Planchet, "I am one of those good-humored sort of men
whom Heaven created for the purpose of living a certain span of days, and
of considering all good they meet with during their transitory stay on

D'Artagnan sat down close to the window, and as there seemed to be
something substantial in Planchet's philosophy, he mused over it.

"Ah, ah!" exclaimed Planchet, "if I am not mistaken, we are going to have
a representation now, for I think I heard something like chanting."

"Yes," said D'Artagnan, "I hear singing too."

"Oh, it is only a burial of a very poor description," said Planchet,
disdainfully; "the officiating priest, the beadle, and only one chorister
boy, nothing more. You observe, messieurs, that the defunct lady or
gentleman could not have been of very high rank."

"No; no one seems to be following the coffin."

"Yes," said Porthos; "I see a man."

"You are right; a man wrapped in a cloak," said D'Artagnan.

"It's not worth looking at," said Planchet.

"I find it interesting," said D'Artagnan, leaning on the window-sill.

"Come, come, you are beginning to take a fancy to the place already,"
said Planchet, delightedly; "it is exactly my own case. I was so
melancholy at first that I could do nothing but make the sign of the
cross all day, and the chants were like so many nails being driven into
my head; but now, they lull me to sleep, and no bird I have ever seen or
heard can sing better than those which are to be met with in this

"Well," said Porthos, "this is beginning to get a little dull for me, and
I prefer going downstairs."

Planchet with one bound was beside his guest, whom he offered to lead
into the garden.

"What!" said Porthos to D'Artagnan, as he turned round, "are you going to
remain here?"

"Yes, I will join you presently."

"Well, M. D'Artagnan is right, after all," said Planchet: "are they
beginning to bury yet?"

"Not yet."

"Ah! yes, the grave-digger is waiting until the cords are fastened round
the bier. But, see, a woman has just entered the cemetery at the other

"Yes, yes, my dear Planchet," said D'Artagnan, quickly, "leave me, leave
me; I feel I am beginning already to be much comforted by my meditations,
so do not interrupt me."

Planchet left, and D'Artagnan remained, devouring with his eager gaze
from behind the half-closed blinds what was taking place just before
him. The two bearers of the corpse had unfastened the straps by which
they carried the litter, and were letting their burden glide gently into
the open grave. At a few paces distant, the man with the cloak wrapped
round him, the only spectator of this melancholy scene, was leaning with
his back against a large cypress-tree, and kept his face and person
entirely concealed from the grave-diggers and the priests; the corpse was
buried in five minutes. The grave having been filled up, the priests
turned away, and the grave-digger having addressed a few words to them,
followed them as they moved away. The man in the mantle bowed as they
passed him, and put a piece of gold into the grave-digger's hand.

"_Mordioux!_" murmured D'Artagnan; "it is Aramis himself."

Aramis, in fact, remained alone, on that side at least; for hardly had he
turned his head when a woman's footsteps, and the rustling of her dress,
were heard in the path close to him. He immediately turned round, and
took off his hat with the most ceremonious respect; he led the lady under
the shelter of some walnut and lime trees, which overshadowed a
magnificent tomb.

"Ah! who would have thought it," said D'Artagnan; "the bishop of Vannes
at a rendezvous! He is still the same Abbe Aramis as he was at Noisy-le-
Sec. Yes," he added, after a pause; "but as it is in a cemetery, the
rendezvous is sacred." But he almost laughed.

The conversation lasted for fully half an hour. D'Artagnan could not see
the lady's face, for she kept her back turned towards him; but he saw
perfectly well, by the erect attitude of both the speakers, by their
gestures, by the measured and careful manner with which they glanced at
each other, either by way of attack or defense, that they must be
conversing about any other subject than of love. At the end of the
conversation the lady rose, and bowed profoundly to Aramis.

"Oh, oh," said D'Artagnan; "this rendezvous finishes like one of a very
tender nature though. The cavalier kneels at the beginning, the young
lady by and by gets tamed down, and then it is she who has to
supplicate. Who is this lady? I would give anything to ascertain."

This seemed impossible, however, for Aramis was the first to leave; the
lady carefully concealed her head and face, and then immediately
departed. D'Artagnan could hold out no longer; he ran to the window
which looked out on the Rue de Lyon, and saw Aramis entering the inn.
The lady was proceeding in quite an opposite direction, and seemed, in
fact, to be about to rejoin an equipage, consisting of two led horses and
a carriage, which he could see standing close to the borders of the
forest. She was walking slowly, her head bent down, absorbed in the
deepest meditation.

"_Mordioux! Mordioux!_ I must and will learn who that woman is," said
the musketeer again; and then, without further deliberation, he set off
in pursuit of her. As he was going along, he tried to think how he could
possibly contrive to make her raise her veil. "She is not young," he
said, "and is a woman of high rank in society. I ought to know that
figure and peculiar style of walk." As he ran, the sound of his spurs
and of his boots upon the hard ground of the street made a strange
jingling noise; a fortunate circumstance in itself, which he was far
from reckoning upon. The noise disturbed the lady; she seemed to fancy
she was being either followed or pursued, which was indeed the case, and
turned round. D'Artagnan started as if he had received a charge of small
shot in his legs, and then turning suddenly round as if he were going
back the same way he had come, he murmured, "Madame de Chevreuse!"
D'Artagnan would not go home until he had learnt everything. He asked
Celestin to inquire of the grave-digger whose body it was they had buried
that morning.

"A poor Franciscan mendicant friar," replied the latter, "who had not
even a dog to love him in this world, and to accompany him to his last

"If that were really the case," thought D'Artagnan, "we should not have
found Aramis present at his funeral. The bishop of Vannes is not
precisely a dog as far as devotion goes: his scent, however, is quite as
keen, I admit."

Chapter VII:
How Porthos, Truchen, and Planchet Parted with Each Other on Friendly
Terms, Thanks to D'Artagnan.

There was good living in Planchet's house. Porthos broke a ladder and
two cherry-trees, stripped the raspberry-bushes, and was only unable to
succeed in reaching the strawberry-beds on account, as he said, of his
belt. Truchen, who had become quite sociable with the giant, said that
it was not the belt so much as his corporation; and Porthos, in a state
of the highest delight, embraced Truchen, who gathered him a pailful of
the strawberries, and made him eat them out of her hands. D'Artagnan,
who arrived in the midst of these little innocent flirtations, scolded
Porthos for his indolence, and silently pitied Planchet. Porthos
breakfasted with a very good appetite, and when he had finished, he said,
looking at Truchen, "I could make myself very happy here." Truchen
smiled at his remark, and so did Planchet, but not without embarrassment.

D'Artagnan then addressed Porthos: "You must not let the delights of
Capua make you forget the real object of our journey to Fontainebleau."

"My presentation to the king?"

"Certainly. I am going to take a turn in the town to get everything
ready for that. Do not think of leaving the house, I beg."

"Oh, no!" exclaimed Porthos.

Planchet looked at D'Artagnan nervously.

"Will you be away long?" he inquired.

"No, my friend; and this very evening I will release you from two
troublesome guests."

"Oh! Monsieur d'Artagnan! can you say - "

"No, no; you are a noble-hearted fellow, but your house is very small.
Such a house, with half a dozen acres of land, would be fit for a king,
and make him very happy, too. But you were not born a great lord."

"No more was M. Porthos," murmured Planchet.

"But he has become so, my good fellow; his income has been a hundred
thousand francs a year for the last twenty years, and for the last fifty
years Porthos has been the owner of a couple of fists and a backbone,
which are not to be matched throughout the whole realm of France.
Porthos is a man of the very greatest consequence compared to you, and...
well, I need say no more, for I know you are an intelligent fellow."

"No, no, monsieur, explain what you mean."

"Look at your orchard, how stripped it is, how empty your larder, your
bedstead broken, your cellar almost exhausted, look too… at Madame
Truchen - "

"Oh! my goodness gracious!" said Planchet.

"Madame Truchen is an excellent person," continued D'Artagnan, "but keep
her for yourself, do you understand?" and he slapped him on the shoulder.

Planchet at this moment perceived Porthos and Truchen sitting close
together in an arbor; Truchen, with a grace of manner peculiarly Flemish,
was making a pair of earrings for Porthos out of a double cherry, while
Porthos was laughing as amorously as Samson in the company of Delilah.
Planchet pressed D'Artagnan's hand, and ran towards the arbor. We must
do Porthos the justice to say that he did not move as they approached,
and, very likely, he did not think he was doing any harm. Nor indeed did
Truchen move either, which rather put Planchet out; but he, too, had been
so accustomed to see fashionable folk in his shop, that he found no
difficulty in putting a good countenance on what seemed disagreeable or
rude. Planchet seized Porthos by the arm, and proposed to go and look at
the horses, but Porthos pretended he was tired. Planchet then suggested
that the Baron du Vallon should taste some noyeau of his own manufacture,
which was not to be equaled anywhere; an offer the baron immediately
accepted; and, in this way, Planchet managed to engage his enemy's
attention during the whole of the day, by dint of sacrificing his cellar,
in preference to his _amour propre_. Two hours afterwards D'Artagnan

"Everything is arranged," he said; "I saw his majesty at the very moment
he was setting off for the chase; the king expects us this evening."

"The king expects _me!_" cried Porthos, drawing himself up. It is a sad
thing to have to confess, but a man's heart is like an ocean billow; for,
from that very moment Porthos ceased to look at Madame Truchen in that
touching manner which had so softened her heart. Planchet encouraged
these ambitious leanings as best as he could. He talked over, or rather
gave exaggerated accounts of all the splendors of the last reign, its
battles, sieges, and grand court ceremonies. He spoke of the luxurious
display which the English made; the prizes the three brave companions
carried off; and how D'Artagnan, who at the beginning had been the
humblest of the four, finished by becoming the leader. He fired Porthos
with a generous feeling of enthusiasm by reminding him of his early youth
now passed away; he boasted as much as he could of the moral life this
great lord had led, and how religiously he respected the ties of
friendship; he was eloquent, and skillful in his choice of subjects. He
tickled Porthos, frightened Truchen, and made D'Artagnan think. At six
o'clock, the musketeer ordered the horses to be brought round, and told
Porthos to get ready. He thanked Planchet for his kind hospitality,
whispered a few words about a post he might succeed in obtaining for him
at court, which immediately raised Planchet in Truchen's estimation,
where the poor grocer - so good, so generous, so devoted - had become
much lowered ever since the appearance and comparison with him of the two
great gentlemen. Such, however, is a woman's nature; they are anxious to
possess what they have not got, and disdain it as soon as it is
acquired. After having rendered this service to his friend Planchet,
D'Artagnan said in a low tone of voice to Porthos: "That is a very
beautiful ring you have on your finger."

"It is worth three hundred pistoles," said Porthos.

"Madame Truchen will remember you better if you leave her that ring,"
replied D'Artagnan, a suggestion which Porthos seemed to hesitate to

"You think it is not beautiful enough, perhaps," said the musketeer. "I
understand your feelings; a great lord such as you would not think of
accepting the hospitality of an old servant without paying him most
handsomely for it: but I am sure that Planchet is too good-hearted a
fellow to remember that you have an income of a hundred thousand francs a

"I have more than half a mind," said Porthos, flattered by the remark,
"to make Madame Truchen a present of my little farm at Bracieux; it has
twelve acres."

"It is too much, my good Porthos, too much just at present... Keep it
for a future occasion." He then took the ring off Porthos's finger, and
approaching Truchen, said to her: - "Madame, monsieur le baron hardly
knows how to entreat you, out of your regard for him, to accept this
little ring. M. du Vallon is one of the most generous and discreet men
of my acquaintance. He wished to offer you a farm that he has at
Bracieux, but I dissuaded him from it."

"Oh!" said Truchen, looking eagerly at the diamond.

"Monsieur le baron!" exclaimed Planchet, quite overcome.

"My good friend," stammered out Porthos, delighted at having been so well
represented by D'Artagnan. These several exclamations, uttered at the
same moment, made quite a pathetic winding-up of a day which might have
finished in a very ridiculous manner. But D'Artagnan was there, and, on
every occasion, wheresoever D'Artagnan exercised any control, matters
ended only just in the very way he wished and willed. There were general
embracings; Truchen, whom the baron's munificence had restored to her
proper position, very timidly, and blushing all the while, presented her
forehead to the great lord with whom she had been on such very pretty
terms the evening before. Planchet himself was overcome by a feeling of
genuine humility. Still, in the same generosity of disposition, Porthos
would have emptied his pockets into the hands of the cook and of
Celestin; but D'Artagnan stopped him.

"No," he said, "it is now my turn." And he gave one pistole to the woman
and two to the man; and the benedictions which were showered down upon
them would have rejoiced the heart of Harpagon himself, and have rendered
even him a prodigal.

D'Artagnan made Planchet lead them to the chateau, and introduced Porthos
into his own apartment, where he arrived safely without having been
perceived by those he was afraid of meeting.

Chapter VIII:
The Presentation of Porthos at Court.

At seven o'clock the same evening, the king gave an audience to an
ambassador from the United Provinces, in the grand reception-room. The
audience lasted a quarter of an hour. His majesty afterwards received
those who had been recently presented, together with a few ladies, who
paid their respects first. In one corner of the salon, concealed behind
a column, Porthos and D'Artagnan were conversing together, waiting until
their turn arrived.

"Have you heard the news?" inquired the musketeer of his friend.


"Well, look, then." Porthos raised himself on tiptoe, and saw M. Fouquet
in full court dress, leading Aramis towards the king.

"Aramis!" said Porthos.

"Presented to the king by M. Fouquet."

"Ah!" ejaculated Porthos.

"For having fortified Belle-Isle," continued D'Artagnan.

"And I?"

"You - oh, you! as I have already had the honor of telling you, are the
good-natured, kind-hearted Porthos; and so they begged you to take care
of Saint-Mande a little."

"Ah!" repeated Porthos.

"But, happily, I was there," said D'Artagnan, "and presently it will be
_my_ turn."

At this moment Fouquet addressed the king.

"Sire," he said, "I have a favor to solicit of your majesty. M.
d'Herblay is not ambitious, but he knows when he can be of service. Your
majesty needs a representative at Rome, who would be able to exercise a
powerful influence there; may I request a cardinal's hat for M.
d'Herblay?" The king started. "I do not often solicit anything of your
majesty," said Fouquet.

"That is a reason, certainly," replied the king, who always expressed any
hesitation he might have in that manner, and to which remark there was
nothing to say in reply.

Fouquet and Aramis looked at each other. The king resumed: "M. d'Herblay
can serve us equally well in France; an archbishopric, for instance."

"Sire," objected Fouquet, with a grace of manner peculiarly his own,
"your majesty overwhelms M. d'Herblay; the archbishopric may, in your
majesty's extreme kindness, be conferred in addition to the hat; the one
does not exclude the other."

The king admired the readiness which he displayed, and smiled, saying:
"D'Artagnan himself could not have answered better." He had no sooner
pronounced the name than D'Artagnan appeared.

"Did your majesty call me?" he said.

Aramis and Fouquet drew back a step, as if they were about to retire.

"Will your majesty allow me," said D'Artagnan quickly, as he led forward
Porthos, "to present to your majesty M. le Baron du Vallon, one of the
bravest gentlemen of France?"

As soon as Aramis saw Porthos, he turned as pale as death, while Fouquet
clenched his hands under his ruffles. D'Artagnan smiled blandly at both
of them, while Porthos bowed, visibly overcome before the royal presence.

"Porthos here?" murmured Fouquet in Aramis's ear.

"Hush! deep treachery at work," hissed the latter.

"Sire," said D'Artagnan, "it is more than six years ago I ought to have
presented M. du Vallon to your majesty; but certain men resemble stars,
they move not one inch unless their satellites accompany them. The
Pleiades are never disunited, and that is the reason I have selected, for
the purpose of presenting him to you, the very moment when you would see
M. d'Herblay by his side."

Aramis almost lost countenance. He looked at D'Artagnan with a proud,
haughty air, as though willing to accept the defiance the latter seemed
to throw down.

"Ah! these gentlemen are good friends, then?" said the king.

"Excellent friends, sire; the one can answer for the other. Ask M. de
Vannes now in what manner Belle-Isle was fortified?" Fouquet moved back
a step.

"Belle-Isle," said Aramis, coldly, "was fortified by that gentleman," and
he indicated Porthos with his hand, who bowed a second time. Louis could
not withhold his admiration, though at the same time his suspicions were

"Yes," said D'Artagnan, "but ask monsieur le baron whose assistance he
had in carrying the works out?"

"Aramis's," said Porthos, frankly; and he pointed to the bishop.

"What the deuce does all this mean?" thought the bishop, "and what sort
of a termination are we to expect to this comedy?"

"What!" exclaimed the king, "is the cardinal's, I mean this bishop's,
name _Aramis?_"

"His _nom de guerre_," said D'Artagnan.

"My nickname," said Aramis.

"A truce to modesty!" exclaimed D'Artagnan; "beneath the priest's robe,
sire, is concealed the most brilliant officer, a gentleman of the most
unparalleled intrepidity, and the wisest theologian in your kingdom."

Louis raised his head. "And an engineer, also, it appears," he said,
admiring Aramis's calm, imperturbable self-possession.

"An engineer for a particular purpose, sire," said the latter.

"My companion in the musketeers, sire," said D'Artagnan, with great
warmth of manner, "the man who has more than a hundred times aided your
father's ministers by his advice - M. d'Herblay, in a word, who, with M.
du Vallon, myself, and M. le Comte de la Fere, who is known to your
majesty, formed that quartette which was a good deal talked about during
the late king's reign, and during your majesty's minority."

"And who fortified Belle-Isle?" the king repeated, in a significant tone.

Aramis advanced and bowed: "In order to serve the son as I served the

D'Artagnan looked very narrowly at Aramis while he uttered these words,
which displayed so much true respect, so much warm devotion, such entire
frankness and sincerity, that even he, D'Artagnan, the eternal doubter,
he, the almost infallible in judgment, was deceived by it. "A man who
lies cannot speak in such a tone as that," he said.

Louis was overcome by it. "In that case," he said to Fouquet, who
anxiously awaited the result of this proof, "the cardinal's hat is
promised. Monsieur d'Herblay, I pledge you my honor that the first
promotion shall be yours. Thank M. Fouquet for it." Colbert overheard
these words; they stung him to the quick, and he left the salon
abruptly. "And you, Monsieur du Vallon," said the king, "what have you
to ask? I am truly pleased to have it in my power to acknowledge the
services of those who were faithful to my father."

"Sire - " began Porthos, but he was unable to proceed with what he was
going to say.

"Sire," exclaimed D'Artagnan, "this worthy gentleman is utterly
overpowered by your majesty's presence, he who so valiantly sustained the
looks and the fire of a thousand foes. But, knowing what his thoughts
are, I - who am more accustomed to gaze upon the sun - can translate
them: he needs nothing, absolutely nothing; his sole desire is to have
the happiness of gazing upon your majesty for a quarter of an hour."

"You shall sup with me this evening," said the king, saluting Porthos
with a gracious smile.

Porthos became crimson from delight and pride. The king dismissed him,
and D'Artagnan pushed him into the adjoining apartment, after he had
embraced him warmly.

"Sit next to me at table," said Porthos in his ear.

"Yes, my friend."

"Aramis is annoyed with me, I think."

"Aramis has never liked you so much as he does now. Fancy, it was I who
was the means of his getting the cardinal's hat."

"Of course," said Porthos. "By the by, does the king like his guests to
eat much at his table?"

"It is a compliment to himself if you do," said D'Artagnan, "for he
himself possesses a royal appetite."

Chapter IX:

Aramis cleverly managed to effect a diversion for the purpose of finding
D'Artagnan and Porthos. He came up to the latter, behind one of the
columns, and, as he pressed his hand, said, "So you have escaped from my

"Do not scold him," said D'Artagnan; "it was I, dear Aramis, who set him

"Ah! my friend," replied Aramis, looking at Porthos, "could you not have
waited with a little more patience?"

D'Artagnan came to the assistance of Porthos, who already began to
breathe hard, in sore perplexity.

"You see, you members of the Church are great politicians; we mere
soldiers come at once to the point. The facts are these: I went to pay
Baisemeaux a visit - "

Aramis pricked up his ears at this announcement.

"Stay!" said Porthos; "you make me remember that I have a letter from
Baisemeaux for you, Aramis." And Porthos held out the bishop the letter
we have already seen. Aramis begged to be allowed to read it, and read
it without D'Artagnan feeling in the slightest degree embarrassed by the
circumstance that he was so well acquainted with the contents of it.
Besides, Aramis's face was so impenetrable, that D'Artagnan could not but
admire him more than ever; after he had read it, he put the letter into
his pocket with the calmest possible air.

"You were saying, captain?" he observed.

"I was saying," continued the musketeer, "that I had gone to pay
Baisemeaux a visit on his majesty's service."

"On his majesty's service?" said Aramis.

"Yes," said D'Artagnan, "and, naturally enough, we talked about you and
our friends. I must say that Baisemeaux received me coldly; so I soon
took my leave of him. As I was returning, a soldier accosted me, and
said (no doubt as he recognized me, notwithstanding I was in private
clothes), 'Captain, will you be good enough to read me the name written
on this envelope?' and I read, 'To Monsieur du Vallon, at M. Fouquet's
house, Saint-Mande.' The deuce, I said to myself, Porthos has not
returned, then, as I fancied, to Bell-Isle, or to Pierrefonds, but is at
M. Fouquet's house, at Saint-Mande; and as M. Fouquet is not at Saint-
Mande, Porthos must be quite alone, or, at all events, with Aramis; I
will go and see Porthos, and I accordingly went to see Porthos."

"Very good," said Aramis, thoughtfully.

"You never told me that," said Porthos.

"I had no time, my friend."

"And you brought back Porthos with you to Fontainebleau?"

"Yes, to Planchet's house."

"Does Planchet live at Fontainebleau?" inquired Aramis.

"Yes, near the cemetery," said Porthos, thoughtlessly.

"What do you mean by 'near the cemetery?'" said Aramis, suspiciously.

"Come," thought the musketeer, "since there is to be a squabble, let us
take advantage of it."

"Yes, the cemetery," said Porthos. "Planchet is a very excellent fellow,
who makes very excellent preserves; but his house has windows which look
out upon the cemetery. And a confoundedly melancholy prospect it is! So
this morning - "

"This morning?" said Aramis, more and more excited.

D'Artagnan turned his back to them, and walked to the window, where he
began to play a march upon one of the panes of glass.

"Yes, this morning we saw a man buried there."


"Very depressing, was it not? I should never be able to live in a house
where burials can always be seen from the window. D'Artagnan, on the
contrary, seems to like it very much."

"So D'Artagnan saw it as well?"

"Not simply _saw_ it; he literally never took his eyes off the whole

Aramis started, and turned to look at the musketeer, but the latter was
engaged in earnest conversation with Saint-Aignan. Aramis continued to
question Porthos, and when he had squeezed all the juice out of this
enormous lemon, he threw the peel aside. He turned towards his friend
D'Artagnan, and clapping him on the shoulder, when Saint-Aignan had left
him, the king's supper having been announced, said, "D'Artagnan."

"Yes, my dear fellow," he replied.

"We do not sup with his majesty, I believe?"

"Well? - _we_ do."

"Can you give me ten minutes' conversation?"

"Twenty, if you like. His majesty will take quite that time to get
properly seated at table."

"Where shall we talk, then?"

"Here, upon these seats if you like; the king has left, we can sit down,
and the apartment is empty."

"Let us sit down, then."

They sat down, and Aramis took one of D'Artagnan's hands in his.

"Tell me, candidly, my dear friend, whether you have not counseled
Porthos to distrust me a little?"

"I admit, I have, but not as you understand it. I saw that Porthos was
bored to death, and I wished, by presenting him to the king, to do for
him, and for you, what you would never do for yourselves."

"What is that?"

"Speak in your own praise."

"And you have done it most nobly; I thank you."

"And I brought the cardinal's hat a little nearer, just as it seemed to
be retreating from you."

"Ah! I admit that," said Aramis, with a singular smile, "you are, indeed,
not to be matched for making your friends' fortunes for them."

"You see, then, that I only acted with the view of making Porthos's
fortune for him."

"I meant to have done that myself; but your arm reaches farther than

It was now D'Artagnan's turn to smile.

"Come," said Aramis, "we ought to deal truthfully with each other. Do
you still love me, D'Artagnan?"

"The same as I used to do," replied D'Artagnan, without compromising
himself too much by this reply.

"In that case, thanks; and now, for the most perfect frankness," said
Aramis; "you visited Belle-Isle on behalf of the king?"


"You wished to deprive us of the pleasure of offering Bell-Isle
completely fortified to the king."

"But before I could deprive you of that pleasure, I ought to have been
made acquainted with your intention of doing so."

"You came to Belle-Isle without knowing anything?"

"Of you! yes. How the devil could I imagine that Aramis had become so
clever an engineer as to be able to fortify like Polybius, or Archimedes?"

"True. And yet you smelt me out over yonder?"

"Oh! yes."

"And Porthos, too?"

"I did not divine that Aramis was an engineer. I was only able to guess
that Porthos might have become one. There is a saying, one becomes an
orator, one is born a poet; but it has never been said, one is born
Porthos, and one becomes an engineer."

"Your wit is always amusing," said Aramis, coldly.

"Well, I will go on."

"Do. When you found out our secret, you made all the haste you could to
communicate it to the king."

"I certainly made as much haste as I could, since I saw that you were
making still more. When a man weighing two hundred and fifty pounds, as
Porthos does, rides post; when a gouty prelate - I beg your pardon, but
you yourself told me you were so - when a prelate scours the highway - I
naturally suppose that my two friends, who did not wish to be
communicative with me, had certain matters of the highest importance to
conceal from me, and so I made as much haste as my leanness and the
absence of gout would allow."

"Did it not occur to you, my dear friend, that you might be rendering
Porthos and myself a very sad service?"

"Yes, I thought it not unlikely; but you and Porthos made me play a very
ridiculous part at Belle-Isle."

"I beg your pardon," said Aramis.

"Excuse me," said D'Artagnan.

"So that," pursued Aramis, "you now know everything?"

"No, indeed."

"You know I was obliged to inform M. Fouquet of what had happened, in
order that he would be able to anticipate what you might have to tell the

"That is rather obscure."

"Not at all: M. Fouquet has his enemies - you will admit that, I suppose."


"And one in particular."

"A dangerous one?"

"A mortal enemy. Well, in order to counteract that man's influence, it
was necessary that M. Fouquet should give the king a proof of his great
devotion to him, and of his readiness to make the greatest sacrifices.
He surprised his majesty by offering him Belle-Isle. If you had been the
first to reach Paris, the surprise would have been destroyed, it would
have looked as if we had yielded to fear."

"I understand."

"That is the whole mystery," said Aramis, satisfied that he had at last
quite convinced the musketeer.

"Only," said the latter, "it would have been more simple to have taken me
aside, and said to me, 'My dear D'Artagnan, we are fortifying Belle-Isle,
and intend to offer it to the king. Tell us frankly, for whom you are
acting. Are you a friend of M. Colbert, or of M. Fouquet?' Perhaps I
should not have answered you, but you would have added, - 'Are you my
friend?' I should have said 'Yes.'" Aramis hung down his head. "In
this way," continued D'Artagnan, "you would have paralyzed my movements,
and I should have gone to the king, and said, 'Sire, M. Fouquet is
fortifying Belle-Isle, and exceedingly well, too; but here is a note,
which the governor of Belle-Isle gave me for your majesty;' or, 'M.
Fouquet is about to wait upon your majesty to explain his intentions with
regard to it.' I should not have been placed in an absurd position; you
would have enjoyed the surprise so long planned, and we should not have
had any occasion to look askant at each other when we met."

"While, on the contrary," replied Aramis, "you have acted altogether as
one friendly to M. Colbert. And you really are a friend of his, I

"Certainly not, indeed!" exclaimed the captain. "M. Colbert is a mean
fellow, and I hate him as I used to hate Mazarin, but without fearing

"Well, then," said Aramis, "I love M. Fouquet, and his interests are
mine. You know my position. I have no property or means whatever. M.
Fouquet gave me several livings, a bishopric as well; M. Fouquet has
served and obliged me like the generous-hearted man he is, and I know the
world sufficiently well to appreciate a kindness when I meet with one.
M. Fouquet has won my regard, and I have devoted myself to his service."

"You could not possibly do better. You will find him a very liberal

Aramis bit his lips; and then said, "The best a man could possibly
have." He then paused for a minute, D'Artagnan taking good care not to
interrupt him.

"I suppose you know how Porthos got mixed up in all this?"

"No," said D'Artagnan; "I am curious, of course, but I never question a
friend when he wishes to keep a secret from me."

"Well, then, I will tell you."

"It is hardly worth the trouble, if the confidence is to bind me in any

"Oh! do not be afraid.; there is no man whom I love better than Porthos,
because he is so simple-minded and good-natured. Porthos is so
straightforward in everything. Since I have become a bishop, I have
looked for these primeval natures, which make me love truth and hate

D'Artagnan stroked his mustache, but said nothing.

"I saw Porthos and again cultivated his acquaintance; his own time
hanging idly on his hands, his presence recalled my earlier and better
days without engaging me in any present evil. I sent for Porthos to come
to Vannes. M. Fouquet, whose regard for me is very great, having learnt
that Porthos and I were attached to each other by old ties of friendship,
promised him increase of rank at the earliest promotion, and that is the
whole secret."

"I shall not abuse your confidence," said D'Artagnan.

"I am sure of that, my dear friend; no one has a finer sense of honor
than yourself."

"I flatter myself that you are right, Aramis."

"And now" - and here the prelate looked searchingly and scrutinizingly at
his friend - "now let us talk of ourselves and for ourselves; will you
become one of M. Fouquet's friends? Do not interrupt me until you know
what that means."

"Well, I am listening."

"Will you become a marechal of France, peer, duke, and the possessor of a
duchy, with a million of francs?"

"But, my friend," replied D'Artagnan, "what must one do to get all that?"

"Belong to M. Fouquet."

"But I already belong to the king."

"Not exclusively, I suppose."

"Oh! a D'Artagnan cannot be divided."

"You have, I presume, ambitions, as noble hearts like yours have."

"Yes, certainly I have."


"Well! I wish to be a marechal; the king will make me marechal, duke,
peer; the king will make me all that."

Aramis fixed a searching look upon D'Artagnan.

"Is not the king master?" said D'Artagnan.

"No one disputes it; but Louis XIII. was master also."

"Oh! my dear friend, between Richelieu and Louis XIII. stood no
D'Artagnan," said the musketeer, very quietly.

"There are many stumbling-blocks round the king," said Aramis.

"Not for the king's feet."

"Very likely not; still - "

"One moment, Aramis; I observe that every one thinks of himself, and
never of his poor prince; I will maintain myself maintaining him."

"And if you meet with ingratitude?"

"The weak alone are afraid of that."

"You are quite certain of yourself?"

"I think so."

"Still, the king may some day have no further need for you!"

"On the contrary, I think his need of me will soon be greater than ever;
and hearken, my dear fellow, if it became necessary to arrest a new
Conde, who would do it? This - this alone in France!" and D'Artagnan
struck his sword, which clanked sullenly on the tesselated floor.

"You are right," said Aramis, turning very pale; and then he rose and
pressed D'Artagnan's hand.

"That is the last summons for supper," said the captain of the
musketeers; "will you excuse me?"

Aramis threw his arm round the musketeer's neck, and said, "A friend like
you is the brightest jewel in the royal crown." And they immediately

"I was right," mused D'Artagnan; "there is, indeed, something strangely
serious stirring."

"We must hasten the explosion," breathed the coming cardinal, "for
D'Artagnan has discovered
the existence of a plot."

Chapter X:
Madame and De Guiche.

It will not be forgotten how Comte de Guiche left the queen-mother's
apartments on the day when Louis XIV. presented La Valliere with the
beautiful bracelets he had won in the lottery. The comte walked to and
fro for some time outside the palace, in the greatest distress, from a
thousand suspicions and anxieties with which his mind was beset.
Presently he stopped and waited on the terrace opposite the grove of
trees, watching for Madame's departure. More than half an hour passed
away; and as he was at that moment quite alone, the comte could hardly
have had any very diverting ideas at his command. He drew his tables
from his pocket, and, after hesitating over and over again, determined to
write these words: - "Madame, I implore you to grant me one moment's
conversation. Do not be alarmed at this request, which contains nothing
in any way opposed to the profound respect with which I subscribe myself,
etc., etc." He had signed and folded this singular love-letter, when he
suddenly observed several ladies leaving the chateau, and afterwards
several courtiers too; in fact, almost every one that formed the queen's
circle. He saw La Valliere herself, then Montalais talking with
Malicorne; he watched the departure of the very last of the numerous
guests that had a short time before thronged the queen-mother's cabinet.

Madame herself had not yet passed; she would be obliged, however, to
cross the courtyard in order to enter her own apartments; and, from the
terrace where he was standing, De Guiche could see all that was going on
in the courtyard. At last he saw Madame leave, attended by a couple of
pages, who were carrying torches before her. She was walking very
quickly; as soon as she reached the door, she said:

"Let some one go and look for De Guiche: he has to render an account of a
mission he had to discharge for me; if he should be disengaged, request
him to be good enough to come to my apartment."

De Guiche remained silent, hidden in the shade; but as soon as Madame had
withdrawn, he darted from the terrace down the steps and assumed a most
indifferent air, so that the pages who were hurrying towards his rooms
might meet him.

"Ah! it is Madame, then, who is seeking me!" he said to himself, quite
overcome; and he crushed in his hand the now worse than useless letter.

"M. le comte," said one of the pages, approaching him, "we are indeed
most fortunate in meeting you."

"Why so, messieurs?"

"A command from Madame."

"From Madame!" said De Guiche, looking surprised.

"Yes, M. le comte, her royal highness has been asking for you; she
expects to hear, she told us, the result of a commission you had to
execute for her. Are you at liberty?"

"I am quite at her royal highness's orders."

"Will you have the goodness to follow us, then?"

When De Guiche entered the princess's apartments, he found her pale and
agitated. Montalais was standing at the door, evidently uneasy about
what was passing in her mistress's mind. De Guiche appeared.

"Ah! is that you, Monsieur de Guiche?" said Madame; "come in, I beg.
Mademoiselle de Montalais, I do not require your attendance any longer."

Montalais, more puzzled than ever, courtesied and withdrew. De Guiche
and the princess were left alone. The come had every advantage in his
favor; it was Madame who had summoned him to a rendezvous. But how was
it possible for the comte to make use of this advantage? Madame was so
whimsical, and her disposition so changeable. She soon allowed this to
be perceived, for, suddenly, opening the conversation, she said: "Well!
have you nothing to say to me?"

He imagined she must have guessed his thoughts; he fancied (for those who
are in love are thus constituted, being as credulous and blind as poets
or prophets), he fancied she knew how ardent was his desire to see her,
and also the subject uppermost in his mind.

"Yes, Madame," he said, "and I think it very singular."

"The affair of the bracelets," she exclaimed, eagerly, "you mean that, I

"Yes, Madame."

"And you think the king is in love; do you not?"

Guiche looked at her for some time; her eyes sank under his gaze, which
seemed to read her very heart.

"I think," he said, "that the king may possibly have had an idea of
annoying some one; were it not for that, the king would hardly show
himself so earnest in his attentions as he is; he would not run the risk
of compromising, from mere thoughtlessness of disposition, a young girl
against whom no one has been hitherto able to say a word."

"Indeed! the bold, shameless girl," said the princess, haughtily.

"I can positively assure your royal highness," said De Guiche, with a
firmness marked by great respect, "that Mademoiselle de la Valliere is
beloved by a man who merits every respect, for he is a brave and
honorable gentleman."


"My friend; yes, Madame."

"Well, and though he is your friend, what does that matter to the king?"

"The king knows that Bragelonne is affianced to Mademoiselle de la
Valliere; and as Raoul has served the king most valiantly, the king will
not inflict an irreparable injury upon him."

Madame began to laugh in a manner that produced a sinister impression
upon De Guiche.

"I repeat, Madame, I do not believe the king is in love with Mademoiselle
de la Valliere; and the proof that I do not believe it is, that I was
about to ask you whose _amour propre_ it is likely the king is desirous
of wounding? You, who are well acquainted with the whole court, can
perhaps assist me in ascertaining that; and assuredly, with greater
certainty, since it is everywhere said that your royal highness is on
very friendly terms with the king."

Madame bit her lips, and, unable to assign any good and sufficient
reasons, changed the conversation. "Prove to me," she said, fixing on
him one of those looks in which the whole soul seems to pass into the
eyes, "prove to me, I say, that you intended to interrogate me at the
very moment I sent for you."

De Guiche gravely drew from his pocket the now crumpled note that he had
written, and showed it to her.

"Sympathy," she said.

"Yes," said the comte, with an indescribable tenderness of tone,
"sympathy. I have explained to you how and why I sought you; you,
however, have yet to tell me, Madame, why you sent for me."

"True," replied the princess. She hesitated, and then suddenly
exclaimed, "Those bracelets will drive me mad."

"You expected the king would offer them to you," replied De Guiche.

"Why not?"

"But before you, Madame, before you, his sister-in-law, was there not the
queen herself to whom the king should have offered them?"

"Before La Valliere," cried the princess, wounded to the quick, "could he
not have presented them to me? Was there not the whole court, indeed, to
choose from?"

"I assure you, Madame," said the comte, respectfully, "that if any one
heard you speak in this manner, if any one were to see how red your eyes
are, and, Heaven forgive me, to see, too, that tear trembling on your
eyelids, it would be said that your royal highness was jealous."

"Jealous!" said the princess, haughtily, "jealous of La Valliere!"

She expected to see De Guiche yield beneath her scornful gesture and her
proud tone; but he simply and boldly replied, "Jealous of La Valliere;
yes, Madame."

"Am I to suppose, monsieur," she stammered out, "that your object is to
insult me?"

"It is not possible, Madame," replied the comte, slightly agitated, but
resolved to master that fiery nature.

"Leave the room!" said the princess, thoroughly exasperated, De Guiche's
coolness and silent respect having made her completely lose her temper.

De Guiche fell back a step, bowed slowly, but with great respect, drew
himself up, looking as white as his lace cuffs, and, in a voice slightly
trembling, said, "It was hardly worth while to have hurried here to be
subjected to this unmerited disgrace." And he turned away with hasty

He had scarcely gone half a dozen paces when Madame darted like a tigress
after him, seized him by the cuff, and making him turn round again, said,
trembling with passion as she did so, "The respect you pretend to have is
more insulting than the insult itself. Insult me, if you please, but at
least speak."

"Madame," said the comte, gently, as he drew his sword, "thrust this
blade into my heart, rather than kill me by degrees."

At the look he fixed upon her, - a look full of love, resolution, and
despair, even, - she knew how readily the comte, so outwardly calm in
appearance, would pass his sword through his own breast if she added
another word. She tore the blade from his hands, and, pressing his arm
with a feverish impatience, which might pass for tenderness, said, "Do
not be too hard upon me, comte. You see how I am suffering, and yet you
have no pity for me."

Tears, the cries of this strange attack, stifled her voice. As soon as
De Guiche saw her weep, he took her in his arms and carried her to an
armchair; in another moment she would have been suffocated.

"Oh, why," he murmured, as he knelt by her side, "why do you conceal your
troubles from me? Do you love any one - tell me? It would kill me, I
know, but not until I should have comforted, consoled, and served you

"And do you love me to that extent?" she replied, completely conquered.

"I do indeed love you to that extent, Madame."

She placed both her hands in his. "My heart is indeed another's," she
murmured in so low a tone that her voice could hardly be heard; but he
heard it, and said, "Is it the king you love?"

She gently shook her head, and her smile was like a clear bright streak
in the clouds, through which after the tempest has passed one almost
fancies Paradise is opening. "But," she added, "there are other passions
in a high-born heart. Love is poetry; but the real life of the heart is
pride. Comte, I was born on a throne, I am proud and jealous of my
rank. Why does the king gather such unworthy objects round him?"

"Once more, I repeat," said the comte, "you are acting unjustly towards
that poor girl, who will one day be my friend's wife."

"Are you simple enough to believe that, comte?"

"If I did not believe it," he said, turning very pale, "Bragelonne should
be informed of it to-morrow; indeed he should, if I thought that poor La
Valliere had forgotten the vows she had exchanged with Raoul. But no, it
would be cowardly to betray a woman's secret; it would be criminal to
disturb a friend's peace of mind."

"You think, then," said the princess, with a wild burst of laughter,
"that ignorance is happiness?"

"I believe it," he replied.

"Prove it to me, then," she said, hurriedly.

"It is easily done, Madame. It is reported through the whole court that
the king loves you, and that you return his affection."

"Well?" she said, breathing with difficulty.

"Well; admit for a moment that Raoul, my friend, had come and said to me,
'Yes, the king loves Madame, and has made an impression upon her heart,'
I possibly should have slain Raoul."

"It would have been necessary," said the princess, with the obstinacy of
a woman who feels herself not easily overcome, "for M. de Bragelonne to
have had proofs before he ventured to speak to you in that manner."

"Such, however, is the case," replied De Guiche, with a deep sigh, "that,
not having been warned, I have never examined into the matter seriously;
and I now find that my ignorance has saved my life."

"So, then, you drive selfishness and coldness to that extent," said
Madame, "that you would let this unhappy young man continue to love La

"I would, until La Valliere's guilt were revealed."

"But the bracelets?"

"Well, Madame, since you yourself expected to receive them from the king,
what can I possibly say?"

The argument was a telling one, and the princess was overwhelmed by it,
and from that moment her defeat was assured. But as her heart and mind
were instinct with noble and generous feelings, she understood De
Guiche's extreme delicacy. She saw that in his heart he really suspected
that the king was in love with La Valliere, and that he did not wish to
resort to the common expedient of ruining a rival in the mind of a woman,
by giving the latter the assurance and certainty that this rival's
affections were transferred to another woman. She guessed that his
suspicions of La Valliere were aroused, and that, in order to leave
himself time for his convictions to undergo a change, so as not to ruin
Louise utterly, he was determined to pursue a certain straightforward
line of conduct. She could read so much real greatness of character, and
such true generosity of disposition in her lover, that her heart really
warmed with affection towards him, whose passion for her was so pure and
delicate. Despite his fear of incurring her displeasure, De Guiche, by
retaining his position as a man of proud independence of feeling and deep
devotion, became almost a hero in her estimation, and reduced her to the
state of a jealous and little-minded woman. She loved him for this so
tenderly, that she could not refuse to give him a proof of her affection.

"See how many words we have wasted," she said, taking his hand,
"suspicions, anxieties, mistrust, sufferings - I think we have enumerated
all those words."

"Alas! Madame, yes."

"Efface them from your heart as I drive them from mine. Whether La
Valliere does or does not love the king, and whether the king does or
does not love La Valliere - from this moment you and I will draw a
distinction in the two characters I have to perform. You open your eyes
so wide that I am sure you hardly understand me."

"You are so impetuous, Madame, that I always tremble at the fear of
displeasing you."

"And see how he trembles now, poor fellow," she said, with the most
charming playfulness of manner. "Yes, monsieur, I have two characters to
perform. I am the sister of the king, the sister-in-law of the king's
wife. In this character ought I not to take an interest in these
domestic intrigues? Come, tell me what you think?"

"As little as possible, Madame."

"Agreed, monsieur; but it is a question of dignity; and then, you know, I
am the wife of the king's brother." De Guiche sighed. "A circumstance,"
she added, with an expression of great tenderness, "which will remind you
that I am always to be treated with the profoundest respect." De Guiche
fell at her feet, which he kissed, with the religious fervor of a
worshipper. "And I begin to think that, really and truly, I have another
character to perform. I was almost forgetting it."

"Name it, oh! name it," said De Guiche.

"I am a woman," she said, in a voice lower than ever, "and I love." He
rose, she opened her arms, and their lips met. A footstep was heard
behind the tapestry, and Mademoiselle de Montalais appeared.

"What do you want?" said Madame.

"M. de Guiche is wanted," replied Montalais, who was just in time to see
the agitation of the actors of these four characters; for De Guiche had
consistently carried out his part with heroism.

Chapter XI:
Montalais and Malicorne.

Montalais was right. M. de Guiche, thus summoned in every direction, was
very much exposed, from such a multiplication of business, to the risk of
not attending to any. It so happened that, considering the awkwardness
of the interruption, Madame, notwithstanding her wounded pride, and
secret anger, could not, for the moment at least, reproach Montalais for
having violated, in so bold a manner, the semi-royal order with which she
had been dismissed on De Guiche's entrance. De Guiche, also, lost his
presence of mind, or, it would be more correct to say, had already lost
it, before Montalais's arrival, for, scarcely had he heard the young
girl's voice, than, without taking leave of Madame, as the most ordinary
politeness required, even between persons equal in rank and station, he
fled from her presence, his heart tumultuously throbbing, and his brain
on fire, leaving the princess with one hand raised, as though to bid him
adieu. Montalais was at no loss, therefore, to perceive the agitation of
the two lovers - the one who fled was agitated, and the one who remained
was equally so.

"Well," murmured the young girl, as she glanced inquisitively round her,
"this time, at least, I think I know as much as the most curious woman
could possibly wish to know." Madame felt so embarrassed by this
inquisitorial look, that, as if she heard Montalais's muttered side
remark, she did not speak a word to her maid of honor, but, casting down
her eyes, retired at once to her bedroom. Montalais, observing this,
stood listening for a moment, and then heard Madame lock and bolt her
door. By this she knew that the rest of the evening was at her own
disposal; and making, behind the door which had just been closed, a
gesture which indicated but little real respect for the princess, she
went down the staircase in search of Malicorne, who was very busily
engaged at that moment in watching a courier, who, covered with dust, had
just left the Comte de Guiche's apartments. Montalais knew that
Malicorne was engaged in a matter of some importance; she therefore
allowed him to look and stretch out his neck as much as he pleased; and
it was only when Malicorne had resumed his natural position, that she
touched him on the shoulder. "Well," said Montalais, "what is the latest
intelligence you have?"

"M. de Guiche is in love with Madame."

"Fine news, truly! I know something more recent than that."

"Well, what do you know?"

"That Madame is in love with M. de Guiche."

"The one is the consequence of the other."

"Not always, my good monsieur."

"Is that remark intended for me?"

"Present company always excepted."

"Thank you," said Malicorne. "Well, and in the other direction, what is

"The king wished, this evening, after the lottery, to see Mademoiselle de
la Valliere."

"Well, and he has seen her?"

"No, indeed!"

"What do you mean by that?"

"The door was shut and locked."

"So that - "

"So that the king was obliged to go back again, looking very sheepish,
like a thief who has forgotten his crowbar."


"And in the third place?" inquired Montalais.

"The courier who has just arrived for De Guiche came from M. de

"Excellent," said Montalais, clapping her hands together.

"Why so?"

"Because we have work to do. If we get weary now, something unlucky will
be sure to happen."

"We must divide the work, then," said Malicorne, "in order to avoid

"Nothing easier," replied Montalais. "Three intrigues, carefully nursed,
and carefully encouraged, will produce, one with another, and taking a
low average, three love letters a day."

"Oh!" exclaimed Malicorne, shrugging his shoulders, "you cannot mean what
you say, darling; three letters a day, that may do for sentimental common
people. A musketeer on duty, a young girl in a convent, may exchange
letters with their lovers once a day, perhaps, from the top of a ladder,
or through a hole in the wall. A letter contains all the poetry their
poor little hearts have to boast of. But the cases we have in hand
require to be dealt with very differently."

"Well, finish," said Montalais, out of patience with him. "Some one may

"Finish! Why, I am only at the beginning. I have still three points as
yet untouched."

"Upon my word, he will be the death of me, with his Flemish
indifference," exclaimed Montalais.

"And you will drive me mad with your Italian vivacity. I was going to
say that our lovers here will be writing volumes to each other. But what
are you driving at?"

"At this. Not one of our lady correspondents will be able to keep the
letters they may receive."

"Very likely."

"M. de Guiche will not be able to keep his either."

"That is probable."

"Very well, then; I will take care of all that."

"That is the very thing that is impossible," said Malicorne.

"Why so?"

"Because you are not your own mistress; your room is as much La
Valliere's as yours; and there are certain persons who will think nothing
of visiting and searching a maid of honor's room; so that I am terribly
afraid of the queen, who is as jealous as a Spaniard; of the queen-
mother, who is as jealous as a couple of Spaniards; and, last of all, of
Madame herself, who has jealousy enough for ten Spaniards."

"You forgot some one else."



"I was only speaking of the women. Let us add them up, then: we will
call Monsieur, No. 1."

"De Guiche?"

"No. 2."

"The Vicomte de Bragelonne?"

"No. 3."

"And the king, the king?"

"No. 4. Of course the king, who not only will be more jealous, but more
powerful than all the rest put together. Ah, my dear!"


"Into what a wasp's nest you have thrust yourself!"

"And as yet not quite far enough, if you will follow me into it."

"Most certainly I will follow you where you like. Yet - "

"Well, yet - "

"While we have time, I think it will be prudent to turn back."

"But I, on the contrary, think the wisest course to take is to put
ourselves at once at the head of all these intrigues."

"You will never be able to do it."

"With you, I could superintend ten of them. I am in my element, you must
know. I was born to live at the court, as the salamander is made to live
in the fire."

"Your comparison does not reassure me in the slightest degree in the
world, my dear Montalais. I have heard it said, and by learned men too,
that, in the first place, there are no salamanders at all, and that, if
there had been any, they would have been infallibly baked or roasted on
leaving the fire."

"Your learned men may be very wise as far as salamanders are concerned,
but they would never tell you what I can tell you; namely, that Aure de
Montalais is destined, before a month is over, to become the first
diplomatist in the court of France."

"Be it so, but on condition that I shall be the second."

"Agreed; an offensive and defensive alliance, of course."

"Only be very careful of any letters."

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest