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The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas [Pere]

Part 10 out of 17

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"A man! What man?"

"A mendicant."

"Give him alms, Bazin, and bid him pray for a poor sinner."

"This mendicant insists upon speaking to you, and pretends
that you will be very glad to see him."

"Has he sent no particular message for me?"

"Yes. If Monsieur Aramis hesitates to come," he said, "tell
him I am from Tours."

"From Tours!" cried Aramis. "A thousand pardons, gentlemen;
but no doubt this man brings me the news I expected." And
rising also, he went off at a quick pace. There remained
Athos and d'Artagnan.

"I believe these fellows have managed their business. What
do you think, d'Artagnan?" said Athos.

"I know that Porthos was in a fair way," replied d'Artagnan;
"and as to Aramis to tell you the truth, I have never been
seriously uneasy on his account. But you, my dear Athos--
you, who so generously distributed the Englishman's
pistoles, which were our legitimate property--what do you
mean to do?"

"I am satisfied with having killed that fellow, my boy,
seeing that it is blessed bread to kill an Englishman; but
if I had pocketed his pistoles, they would have weighed me
down like a remorse.

"Go to, my dear Athos; you have truly inconceivable ideas."

"Let it pass. What do you think of Monsieur de Treville
telling me, when he did me the honor to call upon me
yesterday, that you associated with the suspected English,
whom the cardinal protects?"

"That is to say, I visit an Englishwoman--the one I named."

"Oh, ay! the fair woman on whose account I gave you advice,
which naturally you took care not to adopt."

"I gave you my reasons."

"Yes; you look there for your outfit, I think you said."

"Not at all. I have acquired certain knowledge that that
woman was concerned in the abduction of Madame Bonacieux."

"Yes, I understand now: to find one woman, you court
another. It is the longest road, but certainly the most

D'Artagnan was on the point of telling Athos all; but one
consideration restrained him. Athos was a gentleman,
punctilious in points of honor; and there were in the plan
which our lover had devised for Milady, he was sure, certain
things that would not obtain the assent of this Puritan. He
was therefore silent; and as Athos was the least inquisitive
of any man on earth, d'Artagnan's confidence stopped there.
We will therefore leave the two friends, who had nothing
important to say to each other, and follow Aramis.

Upon being informed that the person who wanted to speak to
him came from Tours, we have seen with what rapidity the
young man followed, or rather went before, Bazin; he ran
without stopping from the Rue Ferou to the Rue de Vaugirard.
On entering he found a man of short stature and intelligent
eyes, but covered with rags.

"You have asked for me?" said the Musketeer.

"I wish to speak with Monsieur Aramis. Is that your name,

"My very own. You have brought me something?"

"Yes, if you show me a certain embroidered handkerchief."

"Here it is," said Aramis, taking a small key from his
breast and opening a little ebony box inlaid with mother of
pearl, "here it is. Look."

"That is right," replied the mendicant; "dismiss your lackey."

In fact, Bazin, curious to know what the mendicant could
want with his master, kept pace with him as well as he
could, and arrived almost at the same time he did; but his
quickness was not of much use to him. At the hint from the
mendicant his master made him a sign to retire, and he was
obliged to obey.

Bazin gone, the mendicant cast a rapid glance around him in
order to be sure that nobody could either see or hear him,
and opening his ragged vest, badly held together by a
leather strap, he began to rip the upper part of his
doublet, from which he drew a letter.

Aramis uttered a cry of joy at the sight of the seal, kissed
the superscription with an almost religious respect, and
opened the epistle, which contained what follows:

"My Friend, it is the will of fate that we should be still
for some time separated; but the delightful days of youth
are not lost beyond return. Perform your duty in camp; I
will do mine elsewhere. Accept that which the bearer brings
you; make the campaign like a handsome true gentleman, and
think of me, who kisses tenderly your black eyes.

"Adieu; or rather, AU REVOIR."

The mendicant continued to rip his garments; and drew from
amid his rags a hundred and fifty Spanish double pistoles,
which he laid down on the table; then he opened the door,
bowed, and went out before the young man, stupefied by his
letter, had ventured to address a word to him.

Aramis then reperused the letter, and perceived a

P.S. You may behave politely to the bearer, who is a count
and a grandee of Spain!

"Golden dreams!" cried Aramis. "Oh, beautiful life! Yes, we
are young; yes, we shall yet have happy days! My love, my
blood, my life! all, all, all, are thine, my adored

And he kissed the letter with passion, without even
vouchsafing a look at the gold which sparkled on the table.

Bazin scratched at the door, and as Aramis had no longer any
reason to exclude him, he bade him come in.

Bazin was stupefied at the sight of the gold, and forgot
that he came to announce d'Artagnan, who, curious to know
who the mendicant could be, came to Aramis on leaving Athos.

Now, as d'Artagnan used no ceremony with Aramis, seeing that
Bazin forgot to announce him, he announced himself.

"The devil! my dear Aramis," said d'Artagnan, "if these are
the prunes that are sent to you from Tours, I beg you will
make my compliments to the gardener who gathers them."

"You are mistaken, friend d'Artagnan," said Aramis, always
on his guard; "this is from my publisher, who has just sent
me the price of that poem in one-syllable verse which I
began yonder."

"Ah, indeed," said d'Artagnan. "Well, your publisher is
very generous, my dear Aramis, that's all I can say."

"How, monsieur?" cried Bazin, "a poem sell so dear as that!
It is incredible! Oh, monsieur, you can write as much as you
like; you may become equal to Monsieur de Voiture and
Monsieur de Benserade. I like that. A poet is as good as
an abbe. Ah! Monsieur Aramis, become a poet, I beg of you."

"Bazin, my friend," said Aramis, "I believe you meddle with
my conversation."

Bazin perceived he was wrong; he bowed and went out.

"Ah!" said d'Artagnan with a smile, "you sell your
productions at their weight in gold. You are very
fortunate, my friend; but take care or you will lose that
letter which is peeping from your doublet, and which also
comes, no doubt, from your publisher."

Aramis blushed to the eyes, crammed in the letter, and
re-buttoned his doublet.

"My dear d'Artagnan," said he, "if you please, we will join
our friends; as I am rich, we will today begin to dine
together again, expecting that you will be rich in your

"My faith!" said d'Artagnan, with great pleasure. "It is
long since we have had a good dinner; and I, for my part,
have a somewhat hazardous expedition for this evening, and
shall not be sorry, I confess, to fortify myself with a few
glasses of good old Burgundy."

"Agreed, as to the old Burgundy; I have no objection to
that," said Aramis, from whom the letter and the gold had
removed, as by magic, his ideas of conversion.

And having put three or four double pistoles into his pocket
to answer the needs of the moment, he placed the others in
the ebony box, inlaid with mother of pearl, in which was the
famous handkerchief which served him as a talisman.

The two friends repaired to Athos's, and he, faithful to his
vow of not going out, took upon him to order dinner to be
brought to them. As he was perfectly acquainted with the
details of gastronomy, d'Artagnan and Aramis made no
objection to abandoning this important care to him.

They went to find Porthos, and at the corner of the Rue Bac
met Mousqueton, who, with a most pitiable air, was driving
before him a mule and a horse.

D'Artagnan uttered a cry of surprise, which was not quite
free from joy.

"Ah, my yellow horse," cried he. "Aramis, look at that

"Oh, the frightful brute!" said Aramis.

"Ah, my dear," replied d'Artagnan, "upon that very horse I
came to Paris."

"What, does Monsieur know this horse?" said Mousqueton.

"It is of an original color," said Aramis; "I never saw one
with such a hide in my life."

"I can well believe it," replied d'Artagnan, "and that was
why I got three crowns for him. It must have been for his
hide, for, CERTES, the carcass is not worth eighteen livres.
But how did this horse come into your bands, Mousqueton?"

"Pray," said the lackey, "say nothing about it, monsieur; it
is a frightful trick of the husband of our duchess!"

"How is that, Mousqueton?"

"Why, we are looked upon with a rather favorable eye by a
lady of quality, the Duchesse de--but, your pardon; my master
has commanded me to be discreet. She had forced us to
accept a little souvenir, a magnificent Spanish GENET and an
Andalusian mule, which were beautiful to look upon. The
husband heard of the affair; on their way he confiscated the
two magnificent beasts which were being sent to us, and
substituted these horrible animals."

"Which you are taking back to him?" said d'Artagnan.

"Exactly!" replied Mousqueton. "You may well believe that we
will not accept such steeds as these in exchange for those
which had been promised to us."

"No, PARDIEU; though I should like to have seen Porthos on
my yellow horse. That would give me an idea of how I looked
when I arrived in Paris. But don't let us hinder you,
Mousqueton; go and perform your master's orders. Is he at

"Yes, monsieur," said Mousqueton, "but in a very ill humor.
Get up!"

He continued his way toward the Quai des Grands Augustins,
while the two friends went to ring at the bell of the
unfortunate Porthos. He, having seen them crossing the
yard, took care not to answer, and they rang in vain.

Meanwhile Mousqueton continued on his way, and crossing the
Pont Neuf, still driving the two sorry animals before him,
he reached the Rue aux Ours. Arrived there, he fastened,
according to the orders of his master, both horse and mule
to the knocker of the procurator's door; then, without
taking any thought for their future, he returned to Porthos,
and told him that his commission was completed.

In a short time the two unfortunate beasts, who had not
eaten anything since the morning, made such a noise in
raising and letting fall the knocker that the procurator
ordered his errand boy to go and inquire in the neighborhood
to whom this horse and mule belonged.

Mme. Coquenard recognized her present, and could not at
first comprehend this restitution; but the visit of Porthos
soon enlightened her. The anger which fired the eyes of the
Musketeer, in spite of his efforts to suppress it, terrified
his sensitive inamorata. In fact, Mousqueton had not
concealed from his master that he had met d'Artagnan and
Aramis, and that d'Artagnan in the yellow horse had
recognized the Bearnese pony upon which he had come to
Paris, and which he had sold for three crowns.

Porthos went away after having appointed a meeting with the
procurator's wife in the cloister of St. Magloire. The
procurator, seeing he was going, invited him to dinner--an
invitation which the Musketeer refused with a majestic air.

Mme. Coquenard repaired trembling to the cloister of St.
Magloire, for she guessed the reproaches that awaited her
there; but she was fascinated by the lofty airs of Porthos.

All that which a man wounded in his self-love could let fall
in the shape of imprecations and reproaches upon the head of
a woman Porthos let fall upon the bowed head of the
procurator's wife.

"Alas," said she, "I did all for the best! One of our
clients is a horsedealer; he owes money to the office, and
is backward in his pay. I took the mule and the horse for
what he owed us; he assured me that they were two noble

"Well, madame," said Porthos, "if he owed you more than five
crowns, your horsedealer is a thief."

"There is no harm in trying to buy things cheap, Monsieur
Porthos," said the procurator's wife, seeking to excuse

"No, madame; but they who so assiduously try to buy things
cheap ought to permit others to seek more generous friends."
And Porthos, turning on his heel, made a step to retire.

"Monsieur Porthos! Monsieur Porthos!" cried the
procurator's wife. "I have been wrong; I see it. I ought
not to have driven a bargain when it was to equip a cavalier
like you."

Porthos, without reply, retreated a second step. The
procurator's wife fancied she saw him in a brilliant cloud,
all surrounded by duchesses and marchionesses, who cast bags
of money at his feet.

"Stop, in the name of heaven, Monsieur Porthos!" cried she.
"Stop, and let us talk."

"Talking with you brings me misfortune," said Porthos.

"But, tell me, what do you ask?"

"Nothing; for that amounts to the same thing as if I asked
you for something."

The procurator's wife hung upon the arm of Porthos, and in
the violence of her grief she cried out, "Monsieur Porthos,
I am ignorant of all such matters! How should I know what a
horse is? How should I know what horse furniture is?"

"You should have left it to me, then, madame, who know what
they are; but you wished to be frugal, and consequently to
lend at usury."

"It was wrong, Monsieur Porthos; but I will repair that
wrong, upon my word of honor."

"How so?" asked the Musketeer.

"Listen. This evening M. Coquenard is going to the house of
the Due de Chaulnes, who has sent for him. It is for a
consultation, which will last three hours at least. Come!
We shall be alone, and can make up our accounts."

"In good time. Now you talk, my dear."

"You pardon me?"

"We shall see," said Porthos, majestically; and the two
separated saying, "Till this evening."

"The devil!" thought Porthos, as he walked away, "it appears
I am getting nearer to Monsieur Coquenard's strongbox at


The evening so impatiently waited for by Porthos and by
d'Artagnan at last arrived.

As was his custom, d'Artagnan presented himself at Milady's
at about nine o'clock. He found her in a charming humor.
Never had he been so well received. Our Gascon knew, by the
first glance of his eye, that his billet had been delivered,
and that this billet had had its effect.

Kitty entered to bring some sherbet. Her mistress put on a
charming face, and smiled on her graciously; but alas! the
poor girl was so sad that she did not even notice Milady's

D'Artagnan looked at the two women, one after the other, and
was forced to acknowledge that in his opinion Dame Nature
had made a mistake in their formation. To the great lady
she had given a heart vile and venal; to the SOUBRETTE she
had given the heart of a duchess.

At ten o'clock Milady began to appear restless. D'Artagnan
knew what she wanted. She looked at the clock, rose,
reseated herself, smiled at d'Artagnan with an air which
said, "You are very amiable, no doubt, but you would be
charming if you would only depart."

D'Artagnan rose and took his hat; Milady gave him her hand
to kiss. The young man felt her press his hand, and
comprehended that this was a sentiment, not of coquetry, but
of gratitude because of his departure.

"She loves him devilishly," he murmured. Then he went out.

This time Kitty was nowhere waiting for him; neither in the
antechamber, nor in the corridor, nor beneath the great
door. It was necessary that d'Artagnan should find alone
the staircase and the little chamber. She heard him enter,
but she did not raise her head. The young man went to her
and took her hands; then she sobbed aloud.

As d'Artagnan had presumed, on receiving his letter, Milady
in a delirium of joy had told her servant everything; and by
way of recompense for the manner in which she had this time
executed the commission, she had given Kitty a purse.

Returning to her own room, Kitty had thrown the purse into a
corner, where it lay open, disgorging three or four gold
pieces on the carpet. The poor girl, under the caresses of
d'Artagnan, lifted her head. D'Artagnan himself was
frightened by the change in her countenance. She joined her
hands with a suppliant air, but without venturing to speak a
word. As little sensitive as was the heart of d'Artagnan,
he was touched by this mute sorrow; but he held too
tenaciously to his projects, above all to this one, to
change the program which he had laid out in advance. He did
not therefore allow her any hope that he would flinch; only
he represented his action as one of simple vengeance.

For the rest this vengeance was very easy; for Milady,
doubtless to conceal her blushes from her lover, had ordered
Kitty to extinguish all the lights in the apartment, and
even in the little chamber itself. Before daybreak M. de
Wardes must take his departure, still in obscurity.

Presently they heard Milady retire to her room. D'Artagnan
slipped into the wardrobe. Hardly was he concealed when the
little bell sounded. Kitty went to her mistress, and did
not leave the door open; but the partition was so thin that
one could hear nearly all that passed between the two women.

Milady seemed overcome with joy, and made Kitty repeat the
smallest details of the pretended interview of the soubrette
with de Wardes when he received the letter; how he had
responded; what was the expression of his face; if he seemed
very amorous. And to all these questions poor Kitty, forced
to put on a pleasant face, responded in a stifled voice
whose dolorous accent her mistress did not however remark,
solely because happiness is egotistical.

Finally, as the hour for her interview with the count
approached, Milady had everything about her darkened, and
ordered Kitty to return to her own chamber, and introduce de
Wardes whenever he presented himself.

Kitty's detention was not long. Hardly had d'Artagnan seen,
through a crevice in his closet, that the whole apartment
was in obscurity, than he slipped out of his concealment, at
the very moment when Kitty reclosed the door of

"What is that noise?" demanded Milady.

"It is I," said d'Artagnan in a subdued voice, "I, the Comte
de Wardes."

"Oh, my God, my God!" murmured Kitty, "he has not even
waited for the hour he himself named!"

"Well," said Milady, in a trembling voice, "why do you not
enter? Count, Count," added she, "you know that I wait for

At this appeal d'Artagnan drew Kitty quietly away, and
slipped into the chamber.

If rage or sorrow ever torture the heart, it is when a lover
receives under a name which is not his own protestations of
love addressed to his happy rival. D'Artagnan was in a
dolorous situation which he had not foreseen. Jealousy
gnawed his heart; and he suffered almost as much as poor
Kitty, who at that very moment was crying in the next

"Yes, Count," said Milady, in her softest voice, and
pressing his hand in her own, "I am happy in the love which
your looks and your words have expressed to me every time we
have met. I also--I love you. Oh, tomorrow, tomorrow, I
must have some pledge from you which will prove that you
think of me; and that you may not forget me, take this!" and
she slipped a ring from her finger onto d'Artagnan's.
d'Artagnan remembered having seen this ring on the finger of
Milady; it was a magnificent sapphire, encircled with

The first movement of d'Artagnan was to return it, but
Milady added, "No, no! Keep that ring for love of me.
Besides, in accepting it," she added, in a voice full of
emotion, "you render me a much greater service than you

"This woman is full of mysteries," murmured d'Artagnan to
himself. At that instant he felt himself ready to reveal
all. He even opened his mouth to tell Milady who he was,
and with what a revengeful purpose he had come; but she
added, "Poor angel, whom that monster of a Gascon barely
failed to kill."

The monster was himself.

"Oh," continued Milady, "do your wounds still make you

"Yes, much," said d'Artagnan, who did not well know how to

"Be tranquil," murmured Milady; "I will avenge you--and

"PESTE!" said d'Artagnan to himself, "the moment for
confidences has not yet come."

It took some time for d'Artagnan to resume this little
dialogue; but then all the ideas of vengeance which he had
brought with him had completely vanished. This woman
exercised over him an unaccountable power; he hated and
adored her at the same time. He would not have believed
that two sentiments so opposite could dwell in the same
heart, and by their union constitute a passion so strange,
and as it were, diabolical.

Presently it sounded one o'clock. It was necessary to
separate. D'Artagnan at the moment of quitting Milady felt
only the liveliest regret at the parting; and as they
addressed each other in a reciprocally passionate adieu,
another interview was arranged for the following week.

Poor Kitty hoped to speak a few words to d'Artagnan when he
passed through her chamber; but Milady herself reconducted
him through the darkness, and only quit him at the

The next morning d'Artagnan ran to find Athos. He was
engaged in an adventure so singular that he wished for
counsel. He therefore told him all.

"Your Milady," said he, "appears to be an infamous creature,
but not the less you have done wrong to deceive her. In one
fashion or another you have a terrible enemy on your hands."

While thus speaking Athos regarded with attention the
sapphire set with diamonds which had taken, on d'Artagnan's
finger, the place of the queen's ring, carefully kept in a

"You notice my ring?" said the Gascon, proud to display so
rich a gift in the eyes of his friends.

"Yes," said Athos, "it reminds me of a family jewel."

"It is beautiful, is it not?" said d'Artagnan.

"Yes," said Athos, "magnificent. I did not think two
sapphires of such a fine water existed. Have you traded it
for your diamond?"

"No. It is a gift from my beautiful Englishwoman, or rather
Frenchwoman--for I am convinced she was born in France,
though I have not questioned her."

"That ring comes from Milady?" cried Athos, with a voice in
which it was easy to detect strong emotion.

"Her very self; she gave it me last night. Here it is,"
replied d'Artagnan, taking it from his finger.

Athos examined it and became very pale. He tried it on his
left hand; it fit his finger as if made for it.

A shade of anger and vengeance passed across the usually
calm brow of this gentleman.

"It is impossible it can be she," said be. "How could this
ring come into the hands of Milady Clarik? And yet it is
difficult to suppose such a resemblance should exist between
two jewels."

"Do you know this ring?" said d'Artagnan.

"I thought I did," replied Athos; "but no doubt I was
mistaken." And he returned d'Artagnan the ring without,
however, ceasing to look at it.

"Pray, d'Artagnan," said Athos, after a minute, "either take
off that ring or turn the mounting inside; it recalls such
cruel recollections that I shall have no head to converse
with you. Don't ask me for counsel; don't tell me you are
perplexed what to do. But stop! let me look at that
sapphire again; the one I mentioned to you had one of its
faces scratched by accident."

D'Artagnan took off the ring, giving it again to Athos.

Athos started. "Look," said he, "is it not strange?" and he
pointed out to d'Artagnan the scratch he had remembered.

"But from whom did this ring come to you, Athos?"

"From my mother, who inherited it from her mother. As I
told you, it is an old family jewel."

"And you--sold it?" asked d'Artagnan, hesitatingly.

"No," replied Athos, with a singular smile. "I gave it away
in a night of love, as it has been given to you."

D'Artagnan became pensive in his turn; it appeared as if
there were abysses in Milady's soul whose depths were dark
and unknown. He took back the ring, but put it in his
pocket and not on his finger.

"d'Artagnan," said Athos, taking his hand, "you know I love
you; if I had a son I could not love him better. Take my
advice, renounce this woman. I do not know her, but a sort
of intuition tells me she is a lost creature, and that there
is something fatal about her."

"You are right," said d'Artagnan; "I will have done with
her. I own that this woman terrifies me."

"Shall you have the courage?" said Athos.

"I shall," replied d'Artagnan, "and instantly."

"In truth, my young friend, you will act rightly," said the
gentleman, pressing the Gascon's hand with an affection
almost paternal; "and God grant that this woman, who has
scarcely entered into your life, may not leave a terrible
trace in it!" And Athos bowed to d'Artagnan like a man who
wishes it understood that he would not be sorry to be left
alone with his thoughts.

On reaching home d'Artagnan found Kitty waiting for him. A
month of fever could not have changed her more than this one
night of sleeplessness and sorrow.

She was sent by her mistress to the false de Wardes. Her
mistress was mad with love, intoxicated with joy. She
wished to know when her lover would meet her a second night;
and poor Kitty, pale and trembling, awaited d'Artagnan's
reply. The counsels of his friend, joined to the cries of
his own heart, made him determine, now his pride was saved
and his vengeance satisfied, not to see Milady again. As a
reply, he wrote the following letter:

Do not depend upon me, madame, for the next meeting. Since
my convalescence I have so many affairs of this kind on my
hands that I am forced to regulate them a little. When your
turn comes, I shall have the honor to inform you of it. I
kiss your hands.

Comte de Wardes

Not a word about the sapphire. Was the Gascon determined to
keep it as a weapon against Milady, or else, let us be
frank, did he not reserve the sapphire as a last resource
for his outfit? It would be wrong to judge the actions of
one period from the point of view of another. That which
would now be considered as disgraceful to a gentleman was at
that time quite a simple and natural affair, and the younger
sons of the best families were frequently supported by their
mistresses. D'Artagnan gave the open letter to Kitty, who
at first was unable to comprehend it, but who became almost
wild with joy on reading it a second time. She could
scarcely believe in her happiness; and d'Artagnan was forced
to renew with the living voice the assurances which he had
written. And whatever might be--considering the violent
character of Milady--the danger which the poor girl incurred
in giving this billet to her mistress, she ran back to the
Place Royale as fast as her legs could carry her.

The heart of the best woman is pitiless toward the sorrows
of a rival.

Milady opened the letter with eagerness equal to Kitty's in
bringing it; but at the first words she read she became
livid. She crushed the paper in her hand, and turning with
flashing eyes upon Kitty, she cried, "What is this letter?"

"The answer to Madame's," replied Kitty, all in a tremble.

"Impossible!" cried Milady. "It is impossible a gentleman
could have written such a letter to a woman." Then all at
once, starting, she cried, "My God! can he have--" and she
stopped. She ground her teeth; she was of the color of
ashes. She tried to go toward the window for air, but she
could only stretch forth her arms; her legs failed her, and
she sank into an armchair. Kitty, fearing she was ill,
hastened toward her and was beginning to open her dress; but
Milady started up, pushing her away. "What do you want with
me?" said she, "and why do you place your hand on me?"

"I thought that Madame was ill, and I wished to bring her
help," responded the maid, frightened at the terrible
expression which had come over her mistress's face.

"I faint? I? I? Do you take me for half a woman? When I am
insulted I do not faint; I avenge myself!"

And she made a sign for Kitty to leave the room.


That evening Milady gave orders that when M. d'Artagnan came
as usual, he should be immediately admitted; but he did not

The next day Kitty went to see the young man again, and
related to him all that had passed on the preceding evening.
d'Artagnan smiled; this jealous anger of Milady was his

That evening Milady was still more impatient than on the
preceding evening. She renewed the order relative to the
Gascon; but as before she expected him in vain.

The next morning, when Kitty presented herself at
d'Artagnan's, she was no longer joyous and alert as on the
two preceding days; but on the contrary sad as death.

D'Artagnan asked the poor girl what was the matter with her;
but she, as her only reply, drew a letter from her pocket
and gave it to him.

This letter was in Milady's handwriting; only this time it
was addressed to M. d'Artagnan, and not to M. de Wardes.

He opened it and read as follows:

Dear M. d'Artagnan, It is wrong thus to neglect your
friends, particularly at the moment you are about to leave
them for so long a time. My brother-in-law and myself
expected you yesterday and the day before, but in vain.
Will it be the same this evening?

Your very grateful,
Milady Clarik

"That's all very simple," said d'Artagnan; "I expected this
letter. My credit rises by the fall of that of the Comte de

"And will you go?" asked Kitty.

"Listen to me, my dear girl," said the Gascon, who sought
for an excuse in his own eyes for breaking the promise he
had made Athos; "you must understand it would be impolitic
not to accept such a positive invitation. Milady, not
seeing me come again, would not be able to understand what
could cause the interruption of my visits, and might suspect
something; who could say how far the vengeance of such a
woman would go?"

"Oh, my God!" said Kitty, "you know how to represent things
in such a way that you are always in the right. You are
going now to pay your court to her again, and if this time
you succeed in pleasing her in your own name and with your
own face, it will be much worse than before."

Instinct made poor Kitty guess a part of what was to happen.
d'Artagnan reassured her as well as he could, and promised
to remain insensible to the seductions of Milady.

He desired Kitty to tell her mistress that he could not be
more grateful for her kindnesses than he was, and that he
would be obedient to her orders. He did not dare to write
for fear of not being able--to such experienced eyes as those
of Milady--to disguise his writing sufficiently.

As nine o'clock sounded, d'Artagnan was at the Place Royale.
It was evident that the servants who waited in the
antechamber were warned, for as soon as d'Artagnan appeared,
before even he had asked if Milady were visible, one of them
ran to announce him.

"Show him in," said Milady, in a quick tone, but so piercing
that d'Artagnan heard her in the antechamber.

He was introduced.

"I am at home to nobody," said Milady; "observe, to nobody."
The servant went out.

D'Artagnan cast an inquiring glance at Milady. She was
pale, and looked fatigued, either from tears or want of
sleep. The number of lights had been intentionally
diminished, but the young woman could not conceal the traces
of the fever which had devoured her for two days.

D'Artagnan approached her with his usual gallantry. She
then made an extraordinary effort to receive him, but never
did a more distressed countenance give the lie to a more
amiable smile.

To the questions which d'Artagnan put concerning her health,
she replied, "Bad, very bad."

"Then," replied he, "my visit is ill-timed; you, no doubt,
stand in need of repose, and I will withdraw."

"No. no!" said Milady. "On the contrary, stay, Monsieur
d'Artagnan; your agreeable company will divert me."

"Oh, oh!" thought d'Artagnan. "She has never been so kind
before. On guard!"

Milady assumed the most agreeable air possible, and
conversed with more than her usual brilliancy. At the same
time the fever, which for an instant abandoned her, returned
to give luster to her eyes, color to her cheeks, and
vermillion to her lips. D'Artagnan was again in the
presence of the Circe who had before surrounded him with her
enchantments. His love, which he believed to be extinct but
which was only asleep, awoke again in his heart. Milady
smiled, and d'Artagnan felt that he could damn himself for
that smile. There was a moment at which he felt something
like remorse.

By degrees, Milady became more communicative. She asked
d'Artagnan if he had a mistress.

"Alas!" said d'Artagnan, with the most sentimental air he
could assume, "can you be cruel enough to put such a
question to me--to me, who, from the moment I saw you, have
only breathed and sighed through you and for you?"

Milady smiled with a strange smile.

"Then you love me?" said she.

"Have I any need to tell you so? Have you not perceived

"It may be; but you know the more hearts are worth the
capture, the more difficult they are to be won."

"Oh, difficulties do not affright me," said d'Artagnan. "I
shrink before nothing but impossibilities."

"Nothing is impossible," replied Milady, "to true love."

"Nothing, madame?"

"Nothing," replied Milady.

"The devil!" thought d'Artagnan. "The note is changed. Is
she going to fall in love with me, by chance, this fair
inconstant; and will she be disposed to give me myself
another sapphire like that which she gave me for de Wardes?"

D'Artagnan rapidly drew his seat nearer to Milady's.

"Well, now," she said, "let us see what you would do to
prove this love of which you speak."

"All that could be required of me. Order; I am ready."

"For everything?"

"For everything," cried d'Artagnan, who knew beforehand that
he had not much to risk in engaging himself thus.

"Well, now let us talk a little seriously," said Milady, in
her turn drawing her armchair nearer to d'Artagnan's chair.

"I am all attention, madame," said he.

Milady remained thoughtful and undecided for a moment; then,
as if appearing to have formed a resolution, she said, "I
have an enemy."

"You, madame!" said d'Artagnan, affecting surprise; "is
that possible, my God?--good and beautiful as you are!"

"A mortal enemy."


"An enemy who has insulted me so cruelly that between him
and me it is war to the death. May I reckon on you as an

D'Artagnan at once perceived the ground which the vindictive
creature wished to reach.

"You may, madame," said he, with emphasis. "My arm and my
life belong to you, like my love."

"Then," said Milady, "since you are as generous as you are

She stopped.

"Well?" demanded d'Artagnan.

"Well," replied Milady, after a moment of silence, "from the
present time, cease to talk of impossibilities."

"Do not overwhelm me with happiness," cried d'Artagnan,
throwing himself on his knees, and covering with kisses the
hands abandoned to him.

"Avenge me of that infamous de Wardes," said Milady, between
her teeth, "and I shall soon know how to get rid of you--you
double idiot, you animated sword blade!"

"Fall voluntarily into my arms, hypocritical and dangerous
woman," said d'Artagnan, likewise to himself, "after having
abused me with such effrontery, and afterward I will laugh
at you with him whom you wish me to kill."

D'Artagnan lifted up his head.

"I am ready," said he.

"You have understood me, then, dear Monsieur d'Artagnan"
said Milady.

"I could interpret one of your looks."

"Then you would employ for me your arm which has already
acquired so much renown?"


"But on my part," said Milady, "how should I repay such a
service? I know these lovers. They are men who do nothing
for nothing."

"You know the only reply that I desire," said d'Artagnan,
"the only one worthy of you and of me!"

And he drew nearer to her.

She scarcely resisted.

"Interested man!" cried she, smiling.

"Ah," cried d'Artagnan, really carried away by the passion
this woman had the power to kindle in his heart, "ah, that
is because my happiness appears so impossible to me; and I
have such fear that it should fly away from me like a dream
that I pant to make a reality of it."

"Well, merit this pretended happiness, then!"

"I am at your orders," said d'Artagnan.

"Quite certain?" said Milady, with a last doubt.

"Only name to me the base man that has brought tears into
your beautiful eyes!"

"Who told you that I had been weeping?" said she.

"It appeared to me--"

"Such women as I never weep," said Milady.

"So much the better! Come, tell me his name!"

"Remember that his name is all my secret."

"Yet I must know his name."

"Yes, you must; see what confidence I have in you!"

"You overwhelm me with joy. What is his name?"

"You know him."



"It is surely not one of my friends?" replied d'Artagnan,
affecting hesitation in order to make her believe him

"If it were one of your friends you would hesitate, then?"
cried Milady; and a threatening glance darted from her eyes.

"Not if it were my own brother!" cried d'Artagnan, as if
carried away by his enthusiasm.

Our Gascon promised this without risk, for he knew all that
was meant.

"I love your devotedness," said Milady.

"Alas, do you love nothing else in me?" asked d'Artagnan.

"I love you also, YOU!" said she, taking his hand.

The warm pressure made d'Artagnan tremble, as if by the
touch that fever which consumed Milady attacked himself.

"You love me, you!" cried he. "Oh, if that were so, I should lose my reason!"

And he folded her in his arms. She made no effort to remove
her lips from his kisses; only she did not respond to them.
Her lips were cold; it appeared to d'Artagnan that he had
embraced a statue.

He was not the less intoxicated with joy, electrified by
love. He almost believed in the tenderness of Milady; he
almost believed in the crime of de Wardes. If de Wardes had
at that moment been under his hand, he would have killed

Milady seized the occasion.

"His name is--" said she, in her turn.

"De Wardes; I know it," cried d'Artagnan.

"And how do you know it?" asked Milady, seizing both his
hands, and endeavoring to read with her eyes to the bottom
of his heart.

D'Artagnan felt he had allowed himself to be carried away,
and that he had committed an error.

"Tell me, tell me, tell me, I say," repeated Milady, "how do
you know it?"

"How do I know it?" said d'Artagnan.


"I know it because yesterday Monsieur de Wardes, in a saloon
where I was, showed a ring which he said he had received
from you."

"Wretch!" cried Milady.

The epithet, as may be easily understood, resounded to the
very bottom of d'Artagnan's heart.

"Well?" continued she.

"Well, I will avenge you of this wretch," replied
d'Artagnan, giving himself the airs of Don Japhet of

"Thanks, my brave friend!" cried Milady; "and when shall I
be avenged?"

"Tomorrow--immediately--when you please!"

Milady was about to cry out, "Immediately," but she
reflected that such precipitation would not be very gracious
toward d'Artagnan.

Besides, she had a thousand precautions to take, a thousand
counsels to give to her defender, in order that he might
avoid explanations with the count before witnesses. All
this was answered by an expression of d'Artagnan's.
"Tomorrow," said he, "you will be avenged, or I shall be

"No," said she, "you will avenge me; but you will not be
dead. He is a coward."

"With women, perhaps; but not with men. I know something of

"But it seems you had not much reason to complain of your
fortune in your contest with him."

"Fortune is a courtesan; favorable yesterday, she may turn
her back tomorrow."

"Which means that you now hesitate?"

"No, I do not hesitate; God forbid! But would it be just to
allow me to go to a possible death without having given me
at least something more than hope?"

Milady answered by a glance which said, "Is that all?--speak,
then." And then accompanying the glance with explanatory
words, "That is but too just," said she, tenderly.

"Oh, you are an angel!" exclaimed the young man.

"Then all is agreed?" said she.

"Except that which I ask of you, dear love."

"But when I assure you that you may rely on my tenderness?"

"I cannot wait till tomorrow."

"Silence! I hear my brother. It will be useless for him to
find you here."

She rang the bell and Kitty appeared.

"Go out this way," said she, opening a small private door,
"and come back at eleven o'clock; we will then terminate
this conversation. Kitty will conduct you to my chamber."

The poor girl almost fainted at hearing these words.

"Well, mademoiselle, what are you thinking about, standing
there like a statue? Do as I bid you: show the chevalier
out; and this evening at eleven o'clock--you have heard what
I said."

"It appears that these appointments are all made for eleven
o'clock," thought d'Artagnan; "that's a settled custom."

Milady held out her hand to him, which he kissed tenderly.

"But," said he, as he retired as quickly as possible from
the reproaches of Kitty, "I must not play the fool. This
woman is certainly a great liar. I must take care."


D'Artagnan left the hotel instead of going up at once to
Kitty's chamber, as she endeavored to persuade him to do--and
that for two reasons: the first, because by this means he
should escape reproaches, recriminations, and prayers; the
second, because he was not sorry to have an opportunity of
reading his own thoughts and endeavoring, if possible, to
fathom those of this woman.

What was most clear in the matter was that d'Artagnan loved
Milady like a madman, and that she did not love him at all.
In an instant d'Artagnan perceived that the best way in
which he could act would be to go home and write Milady a
long letter, in which he would confess to her that he and de
Wardes were, up to the present moment absolutely the same,
and that consequently he could not undertake, without
committing suicide, to kill the Comte de Wardes. But he
also was spurred on by a ferocious desire of vengeance. He
wished to subdue this woman in his own name; and as this
vengeance appeared to him to have a certain sweetness in it,
he could not make up his mind to renounce it.

He walked six or seven times round the Place Royale, turning
at every ten steps to look at the light in Milady's
apartment, which was to be seen through the blinds. It was
evident that this time the young woman was not in such haste
to retire to her apartment as she had been the first.

At length the light disappeared. With this light was
extinguished the last irresolution in the heart of
d'Artagnan. He recalled to his mind the details of the
first night, and with a beating heart and a brain on fire he
re-entered the hotel and flew toward Kitty's chamber.

The poor girl, pale as death and trembling in all her limbs,
wished to delay her lover; but Milady, with her ear on the
watch, had heard the noise d'Artagnan had made, and opening
the door, said, "Come in."

All this was of such incredible immodesty, of such monstrous
effrontery, that d'Artagnan could scarcely believe what he
saw or what he heard. He imagined himself to be drawn into
one of those fantastic intrigues one meets in dreams. He,
however, darted not the less quickly toward Milady, yielding
to that magnetic attraction which the loadstone exercises
over iron.

As the door closed after them Kitty rushed toward it.
Jealousy, fury, offended pride, all the passions in short
that dispute the heart of an outraged woman in love, urged
her to make a revelation; but she reflected that she would
be totally lost if she confessed having assisted in such a
machination, and above all, that d'Artagnan would also be
lost to her forever. This last thought of love counseled
her to make this last sacrifice.

D'Artagnan, on his part, had gained the summit of all his
wishes. It was no longer a rival who was beloved; it was
himself who was apparently beloved. A secret voice
whispered to him, at the bottom of his heart, that he was
but an instrument of vengeance, that he was only caressed
till he had given death; but pride, but self-love, but
madness silenced this voice and stifled its murmurs. And
then our Gascon, with that large quantity of conceit which
we know he possessed, compared himself with de Wardes, and
asked himself why, after all, he should not be beloved for

He was absorbed entirely by the sensations of the moment.
Milady was no longer for him that woman of fatal intentions
who had for a moment terrified him; she was an ardent,
passionate mistress, abandoning herself to love which she
also seemed to feel. Two hours thus glided away. When the
transports of the two lovers were calmer, Milady, who had
not the same motives for forgetfulness that d'Artagnan had,
was the first to return to reality, and asked the young man
if the means which were on the morrow to bring on the
encounter between him and de Wardes were already arranged in
his mind.

But d'Artagnan, whose ideas had taken quite another course,
forgot himself like a fool, and answered gallantly that it
was too late to think about duels and sword thrusts.

This coldness toward the only interests that occupied her
mind terrified Milady, whose questions became more pressing.

Then d'Artagnan, who had never seriously thought of this
impossible duel, endeavored to turn the conversation; but he
could not succeed. Milady kept him within the limits she
had traced beforehand with her irresistible spirit and her
iron will.

D'Artagnan fancied himself very cunning when advising Milady
to renounce, by pardoning de Wardes, the furious projects
she had formed.

But at the first word the young woman started, and exclaimed
in a sharp, bantering tone. which sounded strangely in the
darkness, "Are you afraid, dear Monsieur d'Artagnan?"

"You cannot think so, dear love!" replied d'Artagnan; "but
now, suppose this poor Comte de Wardes were less guilty than
you think him?"

"At all events," said Milady, seriously, "he has deceived
me, and from the moment he deceived me, he merited death."

"He shall die, then, since you condemn him!" said
d'Artagnan, in so firm a tone that it appeared to Milady an
undoubted proof of devotion. This reassured her.

We cannot say how long the night seemed to Milady, but
d'Artagnan believed it to be hardly two hours before the
daylight peeped through the window blinds, and invaded the
chamber with its paleness. Seeing d'Artagnan about to leave
her, Milady recalled his promise to avenge her on the Comte
de Wardes.

"I am quite ready," said d'Artagnan; "but in the first place
I should like to be certain of one thing."

"And what is that?" asked Milady.

"That is, whether you really love me?"

"I have given you proof of that, it seems to me."

"And I am yours, body and soul!"

"Thanks, my brave lover; but as you are satisfied of my
love, you must, in your turn, satisfy me of yours. Is it
not so?"

"Certainly; but if you love me as much as you say," replied
d'Artagnan, "do you not entertain a little fear on my

"What have I to fear?"

"Why, that I may be dangerously wounded--killed even."

"Impossible!" cried Milady, "you are such a valiant man, and
such an expert swordsman."

"You would not, then, prefer a method," resumed d'Artagnan,
"which would equally avenge you while rendering the combat

Milady looked at her lover in silence. The pale light of
the first rays of day gave to her clear eyes a strangely
frightful expression.

"Really," said she, "I believe you now begin to hesitate."

"No, I do not hesitate; but I really pity this poor Comte de
Wardes, since you have ceased to love him. I think that a
man must be so severely punished by the loss of your love
that he stands in need of no other chastisement."

"Who told you that I loved him?" asked Milady, sharply.

"At least, I am now at liberty to believe, without too much
fatuity, that you love another," said the young man, in a
caressing tone, "and I repeat that I am really interested
for the count."

"You?" asked Milady.

"Yes, I."

"And why YOU?"

"Because I alone know--"


"That he is far from being, or rather having been, so guilty
toward you as he appears."

"Indeed!" said Milady, in an anxious tone; "explain
yourself, for I really cannot tell what you mean."

And she looked at d'Artagnan, who embraced her tenderly,
with eyes which seemed to burn themselves away.

"Yes; I am a man of honor," said d'Artagnan, determined to
come to an end, "and since your love is mine, and I am
satisfied I possess it--for I do possess it, do I not?"

"Entirely; go on."

"Well, I feel as if transformed--a confession weighs on my

"A confession!"

"If I had the least doubt of your love I would not make it,
but you love me, my beautiful mistress, do you not?"

"Without doubt."

"Then if through excess of love I have rendered myself
culpable toward you, you will pardon me?"


D'Artagnan tried with his sweetest smile to touch his lips
to Milady's, but she evaded him.

"This confession," said she, growing paler, "what is this

"You gave de Wardes a meeting on Thursday last in this very
room, did you not?"

"No, no! It is not true," said Milady, in a tone of voice so
firm, and with a countenance so unchanged, that if
d'Artagnan had not been in such perfect possession of the
fact, he would have doubted.

"Do not lie, my angel," said d'Artagnan, smiling; "that
would be useless."

"What do you mean? Speak! you kill me."

"Be satisfied; you are not guilty toward me, and I have
already pardoned you."

"What next? what next?"

"De Wardes cannot boast of anything."

"How is that? You told me yourself that that ring--"

"That ring I have! The Comte de Wardes of Thursday and the
d'Artagnan of today are the same person."

The imprudent young man expected a surprise, mixed with
shame--a slight storm which would resolve itself into tears;
but he was strangely deceived, and his error was not of long

Pale and trembling, Milady repulsed d'Artagnan's attempted
embrace by a violent blow on the chest, as she sprang out of

It was almost broad daylight.

D'Artagnan detained her by her night dress of fine India
linen, to implore her pardon; but she, with a strong
movement, tried to escape. Then the cambric was torn from
her beautiful shoulders; and on one of those lovely
shoulders, round and white, d'Artagnan recognized, with
inexpressible astonishment, the FLEUR-DE-LIS--that indelible
mark which the hand of the infamous executioner had

"Great God!" cried d'Artagnan, loosing his hold of her
dress, and remaining mute, motionless, and frozen.

But Milady felt herself denounced even by his terror. He
had doubtless seen all. The young man now knew her secret,
her terrible secret--the secret she concealed even from her
maid with such care, the secret of which all the world was
ignorant, except himself.

She turned upon him, no longer like a furious woman, but
like a wounded panther.

"Ah, wretch!" cried she, "you have basely betrayed me, and
still more, you have my secret! You shall die."

And she flew to a little inlaid casket which stood upon the
dressing table, opened it with a feverish and trembling
band, drew from it a small poniard, with a golden haft and a
sharp thin blade, and then threw herself with a bound upon

Although the young man was brave, as we know, he was
terrified at that wild countenance, those terribly dilated
pupils, those pale cheeks, and those bleeding lips. He
recoiled to the other side of the room as he would have done
from a serpent which was crawling toward him, and his sword
coming in contact with his nervous hand, he drew it almost
unconsciously from the scabbard. But without taking any
heed of the sword, Milady endeavored to get near enough to
him to stab him, and did not stop till she felt the sharp
point at her throat.

She then tried to seize the sword with her hands; but
d'Artagnan kept it free from her grasp, and presenting the
point, sometimes at her eyes, sometimes at her breast,
compelled her to glide behind the bedstead, while he aimed
at making his retreat by the door which led to Kitty's

Milady during this time continued to strike at him with
horrible fury, screaming in a formidable way.

As all this, however, bore some resemblance to a duel,
d'Artagnan began to recover himself little by little.

"Well, beautiful lady, very well," said he; "but, PARDIEU,
if you don't calm yourself, I will design a second
FLEUR-DE-LIS upon one of those pretty checks!"

"Scoundrel, infamous scoundrel!" howled Milady.

But d'Artagnan, still keeping on the defensive, drew near to
Kitty's door. At the noise they made, she in overturning
the furniture in her efforts to get at him, he in screening
himself behind the furniture to keep out of her reach, Kitty
opened the door. D'Artagnan, who had unceasingly maneuvered
to gain this point, was not at more than three paces from
it. With one spring he flew from the chamber of Milady into
that of the maid, and quick as lightning, he slammed to the
door, and placed all his weight against it, while Kitty
pushed the bolts.

Then Milady attempted to tear down the doorcase, with a
strength apparently above that of a woman; but finding she
could not accomplish this, she in her fury stabbed at the
door with her poniard, the point of which repeatedly
glittered through the wood. Every blow was accompanied with
terrible imprecations.

"Quick, Kitty, quick!" said d'Artagnan, in a low voice, as
soon as the bolts were fast, "let me get out of the hotel;
for if we leave her time to turn round, she will have me
killed by the servants."

"But you can't go out so," said Kitty; "you are naked."

"That's true," said d'Artagnan, then first thinking of the
costume he found himself in, "that's true. But dress me as
well as you are able, only make haste; think, my dear girl,
it's life and death!"

Kitty was but too well aware of that. In a turn of the hand
she muffled him up in a flowered robe, a large hood, and a
cloak. She gave him some slippers, in which he placed his
naked feet, and then conducted him down the stairs. It was
time. Milady had already rung her bell, and roused the
whole hotel. The porter was drawing the cord at the moment
Milady cried from her window, "Don't open!"

The young man fled while she was still threatening him with
an impotent gesture. The moment she lost sight of him,
Milady tumbled fainting into her chamber.


D'Artagnan was so completely bewildered that without taking
any heed of what might become of Kitty he ran at full speed
across half Paris, and did not stop till he came to Athos's
door. The confusion of his mind, the terror which spurred
him on, the cries of some of the patrol who started in
pursuit of him, and the hooting of the people who,
notwithstanding the early hour, were going to their work,
only made him precipitate his course.

He crossed the court, ran up the two flights to Athos's
apartment, and knocked at the door enough to break it down.

Grimaud came, rubbing his half-open eyes, to answer this
noisy summons, and d'Artagnan sprang with such violence into
the room as nearly to overturn the astonished lackey.

In spite of his habitual silence, the poor lad this time
found his speech.

"Holloa, there!" cried he; "what do you want, you strumpet?
What's your business here, you hussy?"

D'Artagnan threw off his hood, and disengaged his hands from
the folds of the cloak. At sight of the mustaches and the
naked sword, the poor devil perceived he had to deal with a
man. He then concluded it must be an assassin.

"Help! murder! help!" cried he.

"Hold your tongue, you stupid fellow!" said the young man; "I am
d'Artagnan; don't you know me? Where is your master?"

"You, Monsieur d'Artagnan!" cried Grimaud, "impossible."

"Grimaud," said Athos, coming out of his apartment in a
dressing gown, "Grimaud, I thought I heard you permitting
yourself to speak?"

"Ah, monsieur, it is--"


Grimaud contented himself with pointing d'Artagnan out to
his master with his finger.

Athos recognized his comrade, and phlegmatic as he was, he
burst into a laugh which was quite excused by the strange
masquerade before his eyes--petticoats falling over his
shoes, sleeves tucked up, and mustaches stiff with

"Don't laugh, my friend!" cried d'Artagnan; "for heaven's
sake, don't laugh, for upon my soul, it's no laughing

And he pronounced these words with such a solemn air and
with such a real appearance of terror, that Athos eagerly
seized his hand, crying, "Are you wounded, my friend? How
pale you are!"

"No, but I have just met with a terrible adventure! Are you
alone, Athos?"

"PARBLEU! whom do you expect to find with me at this hour?"

"Well, well!" and d'Artagnan rushed into Athos's chamber.

"Come, speak!" said the latter, closing the door and bolting
it, that they might not be disturbed. "Is the king dead?
Have you killed the cardinal? You are quite upset! Come,
come, tell me; I am dying with curiosity and uneasiness!"

"Athos," said d'Artagnan, getting rid of his female
garments, and appearing in his shirt, "prepare yourself to
hear an incredible, an unheard-of story."

"Well, but put on this dressing gown first," said the
Musketeer to his friend.

D'Artagnan donned the robe as quickly as he could, mistaking
one sleeve for the other, so greatly was he still agitated.

"Well?" said Athos.

"Well," replied d'Artagnan, bending his mouth to Athos's
ear, and lowering his voice, "Milady is marked with a
FLEUR-DE-LIS upon her shoulder!"

"Ah!" cried the Musketeer, as if he had received a ball in
his heart.

"Let us see," said d'Artagnan. "Are you SURE that the OTHER
is dead?"

"THE OTHER?" said Athos, in so stifled a voice that
d'Artagnan scarcely heard him.

"Yes, she of whom you told me one day at Amiens."

Athos uttered a groan, and let his head sink on his hands.

"This is a woman of twenty-six or twenty-eight years."

"Fair," said Athos, "is she not?"


"Blue and clear eyes, of a strange brilliancy, with black
eyelids and eyebrows?"


"Tall, well-made? She has lost a tooth, next to the
eyetooth on the left?"


"The FLEUR-DE-LIS is small, rosy in color, and looks as if
efforts had been made to efface it by the application of


"But you say she is English?"

"She is called Milady, but she may be French. Lord de
Winter is only her brother-in-law,"

"I will see her, d'Artagnan!"

"Beware, Athos, beware. You tried to kill her; she is a
woman to return you the like, and not to fail."

"She will not dare to say anything; that would be to
denounce herself."

"She is capable of anything or everything. Did you ever see
her furious?"

"No," said Athos.

"A tigress, a panther! Ah, my dear Athos, I am greatly
afraid I have drawn a terrible vengeance on both of us!"

D'Artagnan then related all--the mad passion of Milady and
her menaces of death.

"You are right; and upon my soul, I would give my life for a
hair," said Athos. "Fortunately, the day after tomorrow we
leave Paris. We are going according to all probability to
La Rochelle, and once gone--"

"She will follow you to the end of the world, Athos, if she
recognizes you. Let her, then, exhaust her vengeance on me

"My dear friend, of what consequence is it if she kills me?"
said Athos. "Do you, perchance, think I set any great store
by life?"

"There is something horribly mysterious under all this,
Athos; this woman is one of the cardinal's spies, I am sure
of that."

"In that case, take care! If the cardinal does not hold you
in high admiration for the affair of London, he entertains a
great hatred for you; but as, considering everything, he
cannot accuse you openly, and as hatred must be satisfied,
particularly when it's a cardinal's hatred, take care of
yourself. If you go out, do not go out alone; when you eat,
use every precaution. Mistrust everything, in short, even
your own shadow."

"Fortunately," said d'Artagnan, "all this will be only
necessary till after tomorrow evening, for when once with
the army, we shall have, I hope, only men to dread."

"In the meantime," said Athos, "I renounce my plan of
seclusion, and wherever you go, I will go with you. You
must return to the Rue des Fossoyeurs; I will accompany

"But however near it may be," replied d'Artagnan, "I cannot
go thither in this guise."

"That's true," said Athos, and he rang the bell.

Grimaud entered.

Athos made him a sign to go to d'Artagnan's residence, and
bring back some clothes. Grimaud replied by another sign
that be understood perfectly, and set off.

"All this will not advance your outfit," said Athos; "for if
I am not mistaken, you have left the best of your apparel
with Milady, and she will certainly not have the politeness
to return it to you. Fortunately, you have the sapphire."

"The jewel is yours, my dear Athos! Did you not tell me it
was a family jewel?"

"Yes, my grandfather gave two thousand crowns for it, as he
once told me. It formed part of the nuptial present he made
his wife, and it is magnificent. My mother gave it to me,
and I, fool as I was, instead of keeping the ring as a holy
relic, gave it to this wretch."

"Then, my friend, take back this ring, to which I see you
attach much value."

"I take back the ring, after it has passed through the hands
of that infamous creature? Never; that ring is defiled,

"Sell it, then."

"Sell a jewel which came from my mother! I vow I should
consider it a profanation."

"Pledge it, then; you can borrow at least a thousand crowns
on it. With that sum you can extricate yourself from your
present difficulties; and when you are full of money again,
you can redeem it, and take it back cleansed from its
ancient stains, as it will have passed through the hands of

Athos smiled.

"You are a capital companion, d'Artagnan," said be; "your
never-failing cheerfulness raises poor souls in affliction.
Well, let us pledge the ring, but upon one condition."


"That there shall be five hundred crowns for you, and five
hundred crowns for me."

"Don't dream it, Athos. I don't need the quarter of such a
sum--I who am still only in the Guards--and by selling my
saddles, I shall procure it. What do I want? A horse for
Planchet, that's all. Besides, you forget that I have a
ring likewise."

"To which you attach more value, it seems, than I do to
mine; at least, I have thought so."

"Yes, for in any extreme circumstance it might not only
extricate us from some great embarrassment, but even a great
danger. It is not only a valuable diamond, but it is an
enchanted talisman."

"I don't at all understand you, but I believe all you say to
be true. Let us return to my ring, or rather to yours. You
shall take half the sum that will be advanced upon it, or I
will throw it into the Seine; and I doubt, as was the case
with Polycrates, whether any fish will be sufficiently
complaisant to bring it back to us."

"Well, I will take it, then," said d'Artagnan.

At this moment Grimaud returned, accompanied by Planchet;
the latter, anxious about his master and curious to know
what had happened to him, had taken advantage of the
opportunity and brought the garments himself.

d'Artagnan dressed himself, and Athos did the same. When
the two were ready to go out, the latter made Grimaud the
sign of a man taking aim, and the lackey immediately took
down his musketoon, and prepared to follow his master.

They arrived without accident at the Rue des Fossoyeurs.
Bonacieux was standing at the door, and looked at d'Artagnan

"Make haste, dear lodger," said he; "there is a very pretty
girl waiting for you upstairs; and you know women don't like
to be kept waiting."

"That's Kitty!" said d'Artagnan to himself, and darted into
the passage.

Sure enough! Upon the landing leading to the chamber, and
crouching against the door, he found the poor girl, all in a
tremble. As soon as she perceived him, she cried, "You have
promised your protection; you have promised to save me from
her anger. Remember, it is you who have ruined me!"

"Yes, yes, to be sure, Kitty," said d'Artagnan; "be at ease,
my girl. But what happened after my departure?"

"How can I tell!" said Kitty. "The lackeys were brought by
the cries she made. She was mad with passion. There exist
no imprecations she did not pour out against you. Then I
thought she would remember it was through my chamber you had
penetrated hers, and that then she would suppose I was your
accomplice; so I took what little money I had and the best
of my things, and I got away.

"Poor dear girl! But what can I do with you? I am going
away the day after tomorrow."

"Do what you please, Monsieur Chevalier. Help me out of
Paris; help me out of France!"

"I cannot take you, however, to the siege of La Rochelle,"
aid d'Artagnan.

"No; but you can place me in one of the provinces with some
lady of your acquaintance--in your own country, for

"My dear little love! In my country the ladies do without
chambermaids. But stop! I can manage your business for
you. Planchet, go and find Aramis. Request him to come
here directly. We have something very important to say to

"I understand," said Athos; "but why not Porthos? I should
have thought that his duchess--"

"Oh, Porthos's duchess is dressed by her husband's clerks,"
said d'Artagnan, laughing. "Besides, Kitty would not like
to live in the Rue aux Ours. Isn't it so, Kitty?"

"I do not care where I live," said Kitty, "provided I am
well concealed, and nobody knows where I am."

"Meanwhile, Kitty, when we are about to separate, and you
are no longer jealous of me--"

"Monsieur Chevalier, far off or near," said Kitty, "I shall
always love you."

"Where the devil will constancy niche itself next?" murmured

"And I, also," said d'Artagnan, "I also. I shall always
love you; be sure of that. But now answer me. I attach
great importance to the question I am about to put to you.
Did you never hear talk of a young woman who was carried off
one night?"

"There, now! Oh, Monsieur Chevalier, do you love that woman

"No, no; it is one of my friends who loves her--Monsieur
Athos, this gentleman here."

"I?" cried Athos, with an accent like that of a man who
perceives he is about to tread upon an adder.

"You, to be sure!" said d'Artagnan, pressing Athos's hand.
"You know the interest we both take in this poor little
Madame Bonacieux. Besides, Kitty will tell nothing; will
you, Kitty? You understand, my dear girl," continued
d'Artagnan, "she is the wife of that frightful baboon you
saw at the door as you came in."

"Oh, my God! You remind me of my fright! If he should have
known me again!"

"How? know you again? Did you ever see that man before?"

"He came twice to Milady's."

"That's it. About what time?"

"Why, about fifteen or eighteen days ago."

"Exactly so."

"And yesterday evening he came again."

"Yesterday evening?"

"Yes, just before you came."

"My dear Athos, we are enveloped in a network of spies. And
do you believe he knew you again, Kitty?"

"I pulled down my hood as soon as I saw him, but perhaps it
was too

"Go down, Athos--he mistrusts you less than me--and see if he
be still at his door."

Athos went down and returned immediately.

"He has gone," said he, "and the house door is shut."

"He has gone to make his report, and to say that all the
pigeons are at this moment in the dovecot"

"Well, then, let us all fly," said Athos, "and leave nobody
here but Planchet to bring us news."

"A minute. Aramis, whom we have sent for!"

"That's true," said Athos; "we must wait for Aramis."

At that moment Aramis entered.

The matter was all explained to him, and the friends gave
him to understand that among all his high connections he
must find a place for Kitty.

Aramis reflected for a minute, and then said, coloring,
"Will it be really rendering you a service, d'Artagnan?"

"I shall be grateful to you all my life."

"Very well. Madame de Bois-Tracy asked me, for one of her
friends who resides in the provinces, I believe, for a
trustworthy maid. If you can, my dear d'Artagnan, answer
for Mademoiselle-"

"Oh, monsieur, be assured that I shall be entirely devoted
to the person who will give me the means of quitting Paris."

"Then," said Aramis, "this falls out very well."

He placed himself at the table and wrote a little note which
he sealed with a ring, and gave the billet to Kitty.

"And now, my dear girl," said d'Artagnan, "you know that it
is not good for any of us to be here. Therefore let us
separate. We shall meet again in better days."

"And whenever we find each other, in whatever place it may
be," said Kitty, "you will find me loving you as I love you

"Dicers' oaths!" said Athos, while d'Artagnan went to
conduct Kitty downstairs.

An instant afterward the three young men separated, agreeing
to meet again at four o'clock with Athos, and leaving
Planchet to guard the house.

Aramis returned home, and Athos and d'Artagnan busied
themselves about pledging the sapphire.

As the Gascon had foreseen, they easily obtained three
hundred pistoles on the ring. Still further, the Jew told
them that if they would sell it to him, as it would make a
magnificent pendant for earrings, he would give five hundred
pistoles for it.

Athos and d'Artagnan, with the activity of two soldiers and
the knowledge of two connoisseurs, hardly required three
hours to purchase the entire equipment of the Musketeer.
Besides, Athos was very easy, and a noble to his fingers'
ends. When a thing suited him he paid the price demanded,
without thinking to ask for any abatement. D'Artagnan would
have remonstrated at this; but Athos put his hand upon his
shoulder, with a smile, and d'Artagnan understood that it
was all very well for such a little Gascon gentleman as
himself to drive a bargain, but not for a man who had the
bearing of a prince. The Musketeer met with a superb
Andalusian horse, black as jet, nostrils of fire, legs clean
and elegant, rising six years. He examined him, and found
him sound and without blemish. They asked a thousand livres
for him.

He might perhaps have been bought for less; but while
d'Artagnan was discussing the price with the dealer, Athos
was counting out the money on the table.

Grimaud had a stout, short Picard cob, which cost three
hundred livres.

But when the saddle and arms for Grimaud were purchased,
Athos had not a sou left of his hundred and fifty pistoles.
d'Artagnan offered his friend a part of his share which he
should return when convenient.

But Athos only replied to this proposal by shrugging his

"How much did the Jew say he would give for the sapphire if
be purchased it?" said Athos.

"Five hundred pistoles."

"That is to say, two hundred more--a hundred pistoles for you
and a hundred pistoles for me. Well, now, that would be a
real fortune to us, my friend; let us go back to the Jew's

"What! will you--"

"This ring would certainly only recall very bitter
remembrances; then we shall never be masters of three
hundred pistoles to redeem it, so that we really should lose
two hundred pistoles by the bargain. Go and tell him the
ring is his, d'Artagnan, and bring back the two hundred
pistoles with you."

"Reflect, Athos!"

"Ready money is needful for the present time, and we must
learn how to make sacrifices. Go, d'Artagnan, go; Grimaud
will accompany you with his musketoon."

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