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The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas [Pere]

Part 11 out of 17

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A half hour afterward, d'Artagnan returned with the two
thousand livres, and without having met with any accident.

It was thus Athos found at home resources which he did not


At four o'clock the four friends were all assembled with
Athos. Their anxiety about their outfits had all
disappeared, and each countenance only preserved the
expression of its own secret disquiet--for behind all present
happiness is concealed a fear for the future.

Suddenly Planchet entered, bringing two letters for

The one was a little billet, genteelly folded, with a pretty
seal in green wax on which was impressed a dove bearing a
green branch.

The other was a large square epistle, resplendent with the
terrible arms of his Eminence the cardinal duke.

At the sight of the little letter the heart of d'Artagnan
bounded, for he believed he recognized the handwriting, and
although he had seen that writing but once, the memory of it
remained at the bottom of his heart.

He therefore seized the little epistle, and opened it

"Be," said the letter, "on Thursday next, at from six to
seven o'clock in the evening, on the road to Chaillot, and
look carefully into the carriages that pass; but if you have
any consideration for your own life or that of those who
love you, do not speak a single word, do not make a movement
which may lead anyone to believe you have recognized her who
exposes herself to everything for the sake of seeing you but
for an instant."

No signature.

"That's a snare," said Athos; "don't go, d'Artagnan."

"And yet," replied d'Artagnan, "I think I recognize the

"It may be counterfeit," said Athos. "Between six and seven
o'clock the road of Chaillot is quite deserted; you might as
well go and ride in the forest of Bondy."

"But suppose we all go," said d'Artagnan; "what the devil!
They won't devour us all four, four lackeys, horses, arms,
and all!"

"And besides, it will be a chance for displaying our new
equipments," said Porthos.

"But if it is a woman who writes," said Aramis, "and that
woman desires not to be seen, remember, you compromise her,
d'Artagnan; which is not the part of a gentleman."

"We will remain in the background," said Porthos, "and he
will advance alone."

"Yes; but a pistol shot is easily fired from a carriage
which goes at a gallop."

"Bah!" said d'Artagnan, "they will miss me; if they fire we
will ride after the carriage, and exterminate those who may
be in it. They must be enemies."

"He is right," said Porthos; "battle. Besides, we must try
our own arms."

"Bah, let us enjoy that pleasure," said Aramis, with his
mild and careless manner.

"As you please," said Athos.

"Gentlemen," said d'Artagnan, "it is half past four, and we
have scarcely time to be on the road of Chaillot by six."

"Besides, if we go out too late, nobody will see us," said
Porthos, "and that will be a pity. Let us get ready,

"But this second letter," said Athos, "you forget that; it
appears to me, however, that the seal denotes that it
deserves to be opened. For my part, I declare, d'Artagnan,
I think it of much more consequence than the little piece of
waste paper you have so cunningly slipped into your bosom."

D'Artagnan blushed.

"Well," said he, "let us see, gentlemen, what are his
Eminence's commands," and d'Artagnan unsealed the letter and

"M. d'Artagnan, of the king's Guards, company Dessessart, is
expected at the Palais-Cardinal this evening, at eight


"The devil!" said Athos; "here's a rendezvous much more
serious than the other."

"I will go to the second after attending the first," said
d'Artagnan. "One is for seven o'clock, and the other for
eight; there will be time for both."

"Hum! I would not go at all," said Aramis. "A gallant
knight cannot decline a rendezvous with a lady; but a
prudent gentleman may excuse himself from not waiting on his
Eminence, particularly when he has reason to believe he is
not invited to make his compliments."

"I am of Aramis's opinion," said Porthos.

"Gentlemen," replied d'Artagnan, "I have already received by
Monsieur de Cavois a similar invitation from his Eminence.
I neglected it, and on the morrow a serious misfortune
happened to me--Constance disappeared. Whatever may ensue, I
will go."

"If you are determined," said Athos, "do so."

"But the Bastille?" said Aramis.

"Bah! you will get me out if they put me there," said

"To be sure we will," replied Aramis and Porthos, with
admirable promptness and decision, as if that were the
simplest thing in the world, "to be sure we will get you
out; but meantime, as we are to set off the day after
tomorrow, you would do much better not to risk this

"Let us do better than that," said Athos; "do not let us
leave him during the whole evening. Let each of us wait at
a gate of the palace with three Musketeers behind him; if we
see a close carriage, at all suspicious in appearance, come
out, let us fall upon it. It is a long time since we have
had a skirmish with the Guards of Monsieur the Cardinal;
Monsieur de Treville must think us dead."

"To a certainty, Athos," said Aramis, "you were meant to be
a general of the army! What do you think of the plan,

"Admirable!" replied the young men in chorus.

"Well," said Porthos, "I will run to the hotel, and engage
our comrades to hold themselves in readiness by eight
o'clock; the rendezvous, the Place du Palais-Cardinal.
Meantime, you see that the lackeys saddle the horses."

"I have no horse," said d'Artagnan; "but that is of no
consequence, I can take one of Monsieur de Treville's."

"That is not worth while," said Aramis, "you can have one of

"One of yours! how many have you, then?" asked d'Artagnan.

"Three," replied Aramis, smiling.

"Certes," cried Athos, "you are the best-mounted poet of
France or Navarre."

"Well, my dear Aramis, you don't want three horses? I
cannot comprehend what induced you to buy three!"

"Therefore I only purchased two," said Aramis.

"The third, then, fell from the clouds, I suppose?"

"No, the third was brought to me this very morning by a
groom out of livery, who would not tell me in whose service
he was, and who said he had received orders from his

"Or his mistress," interrupted d'Artagnan.

"That makes no difference," said Aramis, coloring; "and who
affirmed, as I said, that he had received orders from his
master or mistress to place the horse in my stable, without
informing me whence it came."

"It is only to poets that such things happen," said Athos,

"Well, in that case, we can manage famously," said
d'Artagnan; "which of the two horses will you ride--that
which you bought or the one that was given to you?"

"That which was given to me, assuredly. You cannot for a
moment imagine, d'Artagnan, that I would commit such an
offense toward--"

"The unknown giver," interrupted d'Artagnan.

"Or the mysterious benefactress," said Athos.

"The one you bought will then become useless to you?"

"Nearly so."

"And you selected it yourself?"

"With the greatest care. The safety of the horseman, you
know, depends almost always upon the goodness of his horse."

"Well, transfer it to me at the price it cost you?"

"I was going to make you the offer, my dear d'Artagnan,
giving you all the time necessary for repaying me such a

"How much did it cost you?"

"Eight hundred livres."

"Here are forty double pistoles, my dear friend," said
d'Artagnan, taking the sum from his pocket; "I know that is
the coin in which you were paid for your poems."

"You are rich, then?" said Aramis.

"Rich? Richest, my dear fellow!"

And d'Artagnan chinked the remainder of his pistoles in his

"Send your saddle, then, to the hotel of the Musketeers, and
your horse can be brought back with ours."

"Very well; but it is already five o'clock, so make haste."

A quarter of an hour afterward Porthos appeared at the end
of the Rue Ferou on a very handsome genet. Mousqueton
followed him upon an Auvergne horse, small but very
handsome. Porthos was resplendent with joy and pride.

At the same time, Aramis made his appearance at the other
end of the street upon a superb English charger. Bazin
followed him upon a roan, holding by the halter a vigorous
Mecklenburg horse; this was d'Artagnan mount.

The two Musketeers met at the gate. Athos and d'Artagnan
watched their approach from the window.

"The devil!" cried Aramis, "you have a magnificent horse
there, Porthos."

"Yes," replied Porthos, "it is the one that ought to have
been sent to me at first. A bad joke of the husband's
substituted the other; but the husband has been punished
since, and I have obtained full satisfaction."

Planchet and Grimaud appeared in their turn, leading their
masters' steeds. D'Artagnan and Athos put themselves into
saddle with their companions, and all four set forward;
Athos upon a horse he owed to a woman, Aramis on a horse he
owed to his mistress, Porthos on a horse he owed to his
procurator's wife, and d'Artagnan on a horse he owed to his
good fortune--the best mistress possible.

The lackeys followed.

As Porthos had foreseen, the cavalcade produced a good
effect; and if Mme. Coquenard had met Porthos and seen what
a superb appearance he made upon his handsome Spanish genet,
she would not have regretted the bleeding she had inflicted
upon the strongbox of her husband.

Near the Louvre the four friends met with M. de Treville,
who was returning from St. Germain; he stopped them to offer
his compliments upon their appointments, which in an instant
drew round them a hundred gapers.

D'Artagnan profited by the circumstance to speak to M. de
Treville of the letter with the great red seal and the
cardinal's arms. It is well understood that he did not
breathe a word about the other.

M. de Treville approved of the resolution he had adopted,
and assured him that if on the morrow he did not appear, he
himself would undertake to find him, let him be where he

At this moment the clock of La Samaritaine struck six; the
four friends pleaded an engagement, and took leave of M. de

A short gallop brought them to the road of Chaillot; the day
began to decline, carriages were passing and repassing.
d'Artagnan, keeping at some distance from his friends,
darted a scrutinizing glance into every carriage that
appeared, but saw no face with which he was acquainted.

At length, after waiting a quarter of an hour and just as
twilight was beginning to thicken, a carriage appeared,
coming at a quick pace on the road of Sevres. A
presentiment instantly told d'Artagnan that this carriage
contained the person who had appointed the rendezvous; the
young man was himself astonished to find his heart beat so
violently. Almost instantly a female head was put out at
the window, with two fingers placed upon her mouth, either
to enjoin silence or to send him a kiss. D'Artagnan uttered
a slight cry of joy; this woman, or rather this apparition--
for the carriage passed with the rapidity of a vision--was
Mme. Bonacieux.

By an involuntary movement and in spite of the injunction
given, d'Artagnan put his horse into a gallop, and in a few
strides overtook the carriage; but the window was
hermetically closed, the vision had disappeared.

D'Artagnan then remembered the injunction: "If you value
your own life or that of those who love you, remain
motionless, and as if you had seen nothing."

He stopped, therefore, trembling not for himself but for the
poor woman who had evidently exposed herself to great danger
by appointing this rendezvous.

The carriage pursued its way, still going at a great pace,
till it dashed into Paris, and disappeared.

D'Artagnan remained fixed to the spot, astounded and not
knowing what to think. If it was Mme. Bonacieux and if she
was returning to Paris, why this fugitive rendezvous, why
this simple exchange of a glance, why this lost kiss? If,
on the other side, it was not she--which was still quite
possible--for the little light that remained rendered a
mistake easy--might it not be the commencement of some plot
against him through the allurement of this woman, for whom
his love was known?

His three companions joined him. All had plainly seen a
woman's head appear at the window, but none of them, except
Athos, knew Mme. Bonacieux. The opinion of Athos was that
it was indeed she; but less preoccupied by that pretty face
than d'Artagnan, he had fancied he saw a second head, a
man's head, inside the carriage.

"If that be the case," said d'Artagnan, "they are doubtless
transporting her from one prison to another. But what can
they intend to do with the poor creature, and how shall I
ever meet her again?"

"Friend," said Athos, gravely, "remember that it is the dead
alone with whom we are not likely to meet again on this
earth. You know something of that, as well as I do, I
think. Now, if your mistress is not dead, if it is she we
have just seen, you will meet with her again some day or
other. And perhaps, my God!" added he, with that
misanthropic tone which was peculiar to him, "perhaps sooner
than you wish."

Half past seven had sounded. The carriage had been twenty
minutes behind the time appointed. D'Artagnan's friends
reminded him that he had a visit to pay, but at the same
time bade him observe that there was yet time to retract.

But d'Artagnan was at the same time impetuous and curious.
He had made up his mind that he would go to the Palais-
Cardinal, and that he would learn what his Eminence had to
say to him. Nothing could turn him from his purpose.

They reached the Rue St. Honore, and in the Place du Palais-
Cardinal they found the twelve invited Musketeers, walking
about in expectation of their comrades. There only they
explained to them the matter in hand.

D'Artagnan was well known among the honorable corps of the
king's Musketeers, in which it was known he would one day
take his place; he was considered beforehand as a comrade.
It resulted from these antecedents that everyone entered
heartily into the purpose for which they met; besides, it
would not be unlikely that they would have an opportunity of
playing either the cardinal or his people an ill turn, and
for such expeditions these worthy gentlemen were always

Athos divided them into three groups, assumed the command of
one, gave the second to Aramis, and the third to Porthos;
and then each group went and took their watch near an

D'Artagnan, on his part, entered boldly at the principal

Although he felt himself ably supported, the young man was
not without a little uneasiness as he ascended the great
staircase, step by step. His conduct toward Milady bore a
strong resemblance to treachery, and he was very suspicious
of the political relations which existed between that woman
and the cardinal. Still further, de Wardes, whom he had
treated so ill, was one of the tools of his Eminence; and
d'Artagnan knew that while his Eminence was terrible to his
enemies, he was strongly attached to his friends.

"If de Wardes has related all our affair to the cardinal,
which is not to be doubted, and if he has recognized me, as
is probable, I may consider myself almost as a condemned
man," said d'Artagnan, shaking his head. "But why has he
waited till now? That's all plain enough. Milady has laid
her complaints against me with that hypocritical grief which
renders her so interesting, and this last offense has made
the cup overflow."

"Fortunately," added he, "my good friends are down yonder,
and they will not allow me to be carried away without a
struggle. Nevertheless, Monsieur de Treville's company of
Musketeers alone cannot maintain a war against the cardinal,
who disposes of the forces of all France, and before whom
the queen is without power and the king without will.
d'Artagnan, my friend, you are brave, you are prudent, you
have excellent qualities; but the women will ruin you!"

He came to this melancholy conclusion as he entered the
antechamber. He placed his letter in the hands of the usher
on duty, who led him into the waiting room and passed on
into the interior of the palace.

In this waiting room were five or six of the cardinals
Guards, who recognized d'Artagnan, and knowing that it was
he who had wounded Jussac, they looked upon him with a smile
of singular meaning.

This smile appeared to d'Artagnan to be of bad augury.
Only, as our Gascon was not easily intimidated--or rather,
thanks to a great pride natural to the men of his country,
he did not allow one easily to see what was passing in his
mind when that which was passing at all resembled fear--he
placed himself haughtily in front of Messieurs the Guards,
and waited with his hand on his hip, in an attitude by no
means deficient in majesty.

The usher returned and made a sign to d'Artagnan to follow
him. It appeared to the young man that the Guards, on
seeing him depart, chuckled among themselves.

He traversed a corridor, crossed a grand saloon, entered a
library, and found himself in the presence of a man seated
at a desk and writing.

The usher introduced him, and retired without speaking a
word. D'Artagnan remained standing and examined this man.

D'Artagnan at first believed that he had to do with some
judge examining his papers; but he perceived that the man at
the desk wrote, or rather corrected, lines of unequal
length, scanning the words on his fingers. He saw then that
he was with a poet. At the end of an instant the poet
closed his manuscript, upon the cover of which was written
"Mirame, a Tragedy in Five Acts," and raised his head.

D'Artagnan recognized the cardinal.


The cardinal leaned his elbow on his manuscript, his cheek
upon his hand, and looked intently at the young man for a
moment. No one had a more searching eye than the Cardinal
de Richelieu, and d'Artagnan felt this glance run through
his veins like a fever.

He however kept a good countenance, holding his hat in his
hand and awaiting the good pleasure of his Eminence, without
too much assurance, but also without too much humility.

"Monsieur," said the cardinal, "are you a d'Artagnan from

"Yes, monseigneur," replied the young man.

"There are several branches of the d'Artagnans at Tarbes and
in its environs," said the cardinal; "to which do you

"I am the son of him who served in the Religious Wars under
the great King Henry, the father of his gracious Majesty."

"That is well. It is you who set out seven or eight months
ago from your country to seek your fortune in the capital?"

"Yes, monseigneur."

"You came through Meung, where something befell you. I
don't very well know what, but still something."

"Monseigneur," said d'Artagnan, "this was what happened to

"Never mind, never mind!" resumed the cardinal, with a smile
which indicated that he knew the story as well as he who
wished to relate it. "You were recommended to Monsieur de
Treville, were you not?"

"Yes, monseigneur; but in that unfortunate affair at

"The letter was lost," replied his Eminence; "yes, I know
that. But Monsieur de Treville is a skilled physiognomist,
who knows men at first sight; and he placed you in the
company of his brother-in-law, Monsieur Dessessart, leaving
you to hope that one day or other you should enter the

"Monseigneur is correctly informed," said d'Artagnan.

"Since that time many things have happened to you. You were
walking one day behind the Chartreux, when it would have
been better if you had been elsewhere. Then you took with
your friends a journey to the waters of Forges; they stopped
on the road, but you continued yours. That is all very
simple: you had business in England."

"Monseigneur," said d'Artagnan, quite confused, "I went--"

"Hunting at Windsor, or elsewhere--that concerns nobody. I
know, because it is my office to know everything. On your
return you were received by an august personage, and I
perceive with pleasure that you preserve the souvenir she
gave you."

D'Artagnan placed his hand upon the queen's diamond, which
he wore, and quickly turned the stone inward; but it was too

"The day after that, you received a visit from Cavois,"
resumed the cardinal. "He went to desire you to come to the
palace. You have not returned that visit, and you were

"Monseigneur, I feared I had incurred disgrace with your

"How could that be, monsieur? Could you incur my
displeasure by having followed the orders of your superiors
with more intelligence and courage than another would have
done? It is the people who do not obey that I punish, and
not those who, like you, obey--but too well. As a proof,
remember the date of the day on which I had you bidden to
come to me, and seek in your memory for what happened to you
that very night."

That was the very evening when the abduction of Mme.
Bonacieux took place. D'Artagnan trembled; and he likewise
recollected that during the past half hour the poor woman
had passed close to him, without doubt carried away by the
same power that had caused her disappearance.

"In short," continued the cardinal, "as I have heard nothing
of you for some time past, I wished to know what you were
doing. Besides, you owe me some thanks. You must yourself
have remarked how much you have been considered in all the

D'Artagnan bowed with respect.

"That," continued the cardinal, "arose not only from a
feeling of natural equity, but likewise from a plan I have
marked out with respect to you."

D'Artagnan became more and more astonished.

"I wished to explain this plan to you on the day you
received my first invitation; but you did not come.
Fortunately, nothing is lost by this delay, and you are now
about to hear it. Sit down there, before me, d'Artagnan;
you are gentleman enough not to listen standing." And the
cardinal pointed with his finger to a chair for the young
man, who was so astonished at what was passing that he
awaited a second sign from his interlocutor before he

"You are brave, Monsieur d'Artagnan," continued his
Eminence; "you are prudent, which is still better. I like
men of head and heart. Don't be afraid," said he, smiling.
"By men of heart I mean men of courage. But young as you
are, and scarcely entering into the world, you have powerful
enemies; if you do not take great heed, they will destroy

"Alas, monseigneur!" replied the young man, "very easily, no
doubt, for they are strong and well supported, while I am

"Yes, that's true; but alone as you are, you have done much
already, and will do still more, I don't doubt. Yet you
have need, I believe, to be guided in the adventurous career
you have undertaken; for, if I mistake not, you came to
Paris with the ambitious idea of making your fortune."

"I am at the age of extravagant hopes, monseigneur," said

"There are no extravagant hopes but for fools, monsieur, and you
are a man of understanding. Now, what would you say to an
ensign's commission in my Guards, and a company after the

"Ah, monseigneur."

"You accept it, do you not?"

"Monseigneur," replied d'Artagnan, with an embarrassed air.

"How? You refuse?" cried the cardinal, with astonishment.

"I am in his Majesty's Guards, monseigneur, and I have no
reason to be dissatisfied."

"But it appears to me that my Guards--mine--are also his
Majesty's Guards; and whoever serves in a French corps
serves the king."

"Monseigneur, your Eminence has ill understood my words."

"You want a pretext, do you not? I comprehend. Well, you
have this excuse: advancement, the opening campaign, the
opportunity which I offer you--so much for the world. As
regards yourself, the need of protection; for it is fit you
should know, Monsieur d'Artagnan, that I have received heavy
and serious complaints against you. You do not consecrate
your days and nights wholly to the king's service."

D'Artagnan colored.

"In fact," said the cardinal, placing his hand upon a bundle
of papers, "I have here a whole pile which concerns you. I
know you to be a man of resolution; and your services, well
directed, instead of leading you to ill, might be very
advantageous to you. Come; reflect, and decide."

"Your goodness confounds me, monseigneur," replied
d'Artagnan, "and I am conscious of a greatness of soul in
your Eminence that makes me mean as an earthworm; but since
Monseigneur permits me to speak freely--"

D'Artagnan paused.

"Yes; speak."

"Then, I will presume to say that all my friends are in the
king's Musketeers and Guards, and that by an inconceivable
fatality my enemies are in the service of your Eminence; I
should, therefore, be ill received here and ill regarded
there if I accepted what Monseigneur offers me."

"Do you happen to entertain the haughty idea that I have not
yet made you an offer equal to your value?" asked the
cardinal, with a smile of disdain.

"Monseigneur, your Eminence is a hundred times too kind to
me; and on the contrary, I think I have not proved myself
worthy of your goodness. The siege of La Rochelle is about
to be resumed, monseigneur. I shall serve under the eye of
your Eminence, and if I have the good fortune to conduct
myself at the siege in such a manner as merits your
attention, then I shall at least leave behind me some
brilliant action to justify the protection with which you
honor me. Everything is best in its time, monseigneur.
Hereafter, perhaps, I shall have the right of giving myself;
at present I shall appear to sell myself."

"That is to say, you refuse to serve me, monsieur," said the
cardinal, with a tone of vexation, through which, however,
might be seen a sort of esteem; "remain free, then, and
guard your hatreds and your sympathies."


"Well, well," said the cardinal, "I don't wish you any ill;
but you must be aware that it is quite trouble enough to
defend and recompense our friends. We owe nothing to our
enemies; and let me give you a piece of advice; take care of
yourself, Monsieur d'Artagnan, for from the moment I
withdraw my hand from behind you, I would not give an obolus
for your life."

"I will try to do so, monseigneur," replied the Gascon, with
a noble confidence.

"Remember at a later period and at a certain moment, if any
mischance should happen to you," said Richelieu,
significantly, "that it was I who came to seek you, and that
I did all in my power to prevent this misfortune befalling

"I shall entertain, whatever may happen," said d'Artagnan,
placing his hand upon his breast and bowing, "an eternal
gratitude toward your Eminence for that which you now do for

"Well, let it be, then, as you have said, Monsieur
d'Artagnan; we shall see each other again after the
campaign. I will have my eye upon you, for I shall be
there," replied the cardinal, pointing with his finger to a
magnificent suit of armor he was to wear, "and on our
return, well--we will settle our account!"

"Young man," said Richelieu, "if I shall be able to say to
you at another time what I have said to you today, I promise
you to do so."

This last expression of Richelieu's conveyed a terrible
doubt; it alarmed d'Artagnan more than a menace would have
done, for it was a warning. The cardinal, then, was seeking
to preserve him from some misfortune which threatened him.
He opened his mouth to reply, but with a haughty gesture the
cardinal dismissed him.

D'Artagnan went out, but at the door his heart almost failed
him, and he felt inclined to return. Then the noble and
severe countenance of Athos crossed his mind; if he made the
compact with the cardinal which he required, Athos would no
more give him his hand--Athos would renounce him.

It was this fear that restrained him, so powerful is the
influence of a truly great character on all that surrounds

D'Artagnan descended by the staircase at which he had
entered, and found Athos and the four Musketeers waiting his
appearance, and beginning to grow uneasy. With a word,
d'Artagnan reassured them; and Planchet ran to inform the
other sentinels that it was useless to keep guard longer, as
his master had come out safe from the Palais-Cardinal.

Returned home with Athos, Aramis and Porthos inquired
eagerly the cause of the strange interview; but d'Artagnan
confined himself to telling them that M. de Richelieu had
sent for him to propose to him to enter into his guards with
the rank of ensign, and that he had refused.

"And you were right," cried Aramis and Porthos, with one

Athos fell into a profound reverie and answered nothing.
But when they were alone he said, "You have done that which
you ought to have done, d'Artagnan; but perhaps you have
been wrong."

D'Artagnan sighed deeply, for this voice responded to a
secret voice of his soul, which told him that great
misfortunes awaited him.

The whole of the next day was spent in preparations for
departure. D'Artagnan went to take leave of M. de Treville.
At that time it was believed that the separation of the
Musketeers and the Guards would be but momentary, the king
holding his Parliament that very day and proposing to set
out the day after. M. de Treville contented himself with
asking d'Artagnan if he could do anything for him, but
d'Artagnan answered that he was supplied with all he wanted.

That night brought together all those comrades of the Guards
of M. Dessessart and the company of Musketeers of M. de
Treville who had been accustomed to associate together.
They were parting to meet again when it pleased God, and if
it pleased God. That night, then, was somewhat riotous, as
may be imagined. In such cases extreme preoccupation is
only to be combated by extreme carelessness.

At the first sound of the morning trumpet the friends
separated; the Musketeers hastening to the hotel of M. de
Treville, the Guards to that of M. Dessessart. Each of the
captains then led his company to the Louvre, where the king
held his review.

The king was dull and appeared ill, which detracted a little
from his usual lofty bearing. In fact, the evening before,
a fever had seized him in the midst of the Parliament, while
he was holding his Bed of Justice. He had, not the less,
decided upon setting out that same evening; and in spite of
the remonstrances that had been offered to him, he persisted
in having the review, hoping by setting it at defiance to
conquer the disease which began to lay hold upon him.

The review over, the Guards set forward alone on their
march, the Musketeers waiting for the king, which allowed
Porthos time to go and take a turn in his superb equipment
in the Rue aux Ours.

The procurator's wife saw him pass in his new uniform and on
his fine horse. She loved Porthos too dearly to allow him
to part thus; she made him a sign to dismount and come to
her. Porthos was magnificent; his spurs jingled, his
cuirass glittered, his sword knocked proudly against his
ample limbs. This time the clerks evinced no inclination to
laugh, such a real ear clipper did Porthos appear.

The Musketeer was introduced to M. Coquenard, whose little
gray eyes sparkled with anger at seeing his cousin all
blazing new. Nevertheless, one thing afforded him inward
consolation; it was expected by everybody that the campaign
would be a severe one. He whispered a hope to himself that
this beloved relative might be killed in the field.

Porthos paid his compliments to M. Coquenard and bade him
farewell. M. Coquenard wished him all sorts of
prosperities. As to Mme. Coquenard, she could not restrain
her tears; but no evil impressions were taken from her grief
as she was known to be very much attached to her relatives,
about whom she was constantly having serious disputes with
her husband.

But the real adieux were made in Mme. Coquenard's chamber;
they were heartrending.

As long as the procurator's wife could follow him with her
eyes, she waved her handkerchief to him, leaning so far out
of the window as to lead people to believe she wished to
precipitate herself. Porthos received all these attentions
like a man accustomed to such demonstrations, only on
turning the corner of the street he lifted his hat
gracefully, and waved it to her as a sign of adieu.

On his part Aramis wrote a long letter. To whom? Nobody
knew. Kitty, who was to set out that evening for Tours, was
waiting in the next chamber.

Athos sipped the last bottle of his Spanish wine.

In the meantime d'Artagnan was defiling with his company.
Arriving at the Faubourg St. Antoine, he turned round to
look gaily at the Bastille; but as it was the Bastille alone
he looked at, he did not observe Milady, who, mounted upon a
light chestnut horse, designated him with her finger to two
ill-looking men who came close up to the ranks to take
notice of him. To a look of interrogation which they made,
Milady replied by a sign that it was he. Then, certain that
there could be no mistake in the execution of her orders,
she started her horse and disappeared.

The two men followed the company, and on leaving the
Faubourg St. Antoine, mounted two horses properly equipped,
which a servant without livery had waiting for them.


The Siege of La Rochelle was one of the great political
events of the reign of Louis XIII, and one of the great
military enterprises of the cardinal. It is, then,
interesting and even necessary that we should say a few
words about it, particularly as many details of this siege
are connected in too important a manner with the story we
have undertaken to relate to allow us to pass it over in

The political plans of the cardinal when he undertook this
siege were extensive. Let us unfold them first, and then
pass on to the private plans which perhaps had not less
influence upon his Eminence than the others.

Of the important cities given up by Henry IV to the
Huguenots as places of safety, there only remained La
Rochelle. It became necessary, therefore, to destroy this
last bulwark of Calvinism--a dangerous leaven with which the
ferments of civil revolt and foreign war were constantly

Spaniards, Englishmen, and Italian malcontents, adventurers
of all nations, and soldiers of fortune of every sect,
flocked at the first summons under the standard of the
Protestants, and organized themselves like a vast
association, whose branches diverged freely over all parts
of Europe.

La Rochelle, which had derived a new importance from the
ruin of the other Calvinist cities, was, then, the focus of
dissensions and ambition. Moreover, its port was the last
in the kingdom of France open to the English, and by closing
it against England, our eternal enemy, the cardinal
completed the work of Joan of Arc and the Duc de Guise.

Thus Bassompierre, who was at once Protestant and Catholic--
Protestant by conviction and Catholic as commander of the
order of the Holy Ghost; Bassompierre, who was a German by
birth and a Frenchman at heart--in short, Bassompierre, who
had a distinguished command at the siege of La Rochelle,
said, in charging at the head of several other Protestant
nobles like himself, "You will see, gentlemen, that we shall
be fools enough to take La Rochelle."

And Bassompierre was right. The cannonade of the Isle of Re
presaged to him the dragonnades of the Cevennes; the taking
of La Rochelle was the preface to the revocation of the
Edict of Nantes.

We have hinted that by the side of these views of the
leveling and simplifying minister, which belong to history,
the chronicler is forced to recognize the lesser motives of
the amorous man and jealous rival.

Richelieu, as everyone knows, had loved the queen. Was this
love a simple political affair, or was it naturally one of
those profound passions which Anne of Austria inspired in
those who approached her? That we are not able to say; but
at all events, we have seen, by the anterior developments of
this story, that Buckingham had the advantage over him, and
in two or three circumstances, particularly that of the
diamond studs, had, thanks to the devotedness of the three
Musketeers and the courage and conduct of d'Artagnan,
cruelly mystified him.

It was, then, Richelieu's object, not only to get rid of an
enemy of France, but to avenge himself on a rival; but this
vengeance must be grand and striking and worthy in every way
of a man who held in his hand, as his weapon for combat, the
forces of a kingdom.

Richelieu knew that in combating England he combated
Buckingham; that in triumphing over England he triumphed
over Buckingham--in short, that in humiliating England in
the eyes of Europe he humiliated Buckingham in the eyes of
the queen.

On his side Buckingham, in pretending to maintain the honor
of England, was moved by interests exactly like those of the
cardinal. Buckingham also was pursuing a private vengeance.
Buckingham could not under any pretense be admitted into
France as an ambassador; he wished to enter it as a

It resulted from this that the real stake in this game,
which two most powerful kingdoms played for the good
pleasure of two amorous men, was simply a kind look from
Anne of Austria.

The first advantage had been gained by Buckingham. Arriving
unexpectedly in sight of the Isle of Re with ninety vessels
and nearly twenty thousand men, he had surprised the Comte
de Toiras, who commanded for the king in the Isle, and he
had, after a bloody conflict, effected his landing.

Allow us to observe in passing that in this fight perished
the Baron de Chantal; that the Baron de Chantal left a
little orphan girl eighteen months old, and that this little
girl was afterward Mme. de Sevigne.

The Comte de Toiras retired into the citadel St. Martin with
his garrison, and threw a hundred men into a little fort
called the fort of La Pree.

This event had hastened the resolutions of the cardinal; and
till the king and he could take the command of the siege of
La Rochelle, which was determined, he had sent Monsieur to
direct the first operations, and had ordered all the troops
he could dispose of to march toward the theater of war. It
was of this detachment, sent as a vanguard, that our friend
d'Artagnan formed a part.

The king, as we have said, was to follow as soon as his Bed
of Justice had been held; but on rising from his Bed of
Justice on the twenty-eighth of June, he felt himself
attacked by fever. He was, notwithstanding, anxious to set
out; but his illness becoming more serious, he was forced to
stop at Villeroy.

Now, whenever the king halted, the Musketeers halted. It
followed that d'Artagnan, who was as yet purely and simply
in the Guards, found himself, for the time at least,
separated from his good friends--Athos, Porthos, and Aramis.
This separation, which was no more than an unpleasant
circumstance, would have certainly become a cause of serious
uneasiness if he had been able to guess by what unknown
dangers he was surrounded.

He, however, arrived without accident in the camp
established before La Rochelle, of the tenth of the month of
September of the year 1627.

Everything was in the same state. The Duke of Buckingham
and his English, masters of the Isle of Re, continued to
besiege, but without success, the citadel St. Martin and the
fort of La Pree; and hostilities with La Rochelle had
commenced, two or three days before, about a fort which the
Duc d'Angouleme had caused to be constructed near the city.

The Guards, under the command of M. Dessessart, took up
their quarters at the Minimes; but, as we know, d'Artagnan,
possessed with ambition to enter the Musketeers, had formed
but few friendships among his comrades, and he felt himself
isolated and given up to his own reflections.

His reflections were not very cheerful. From the time of
his arrival in Paris, he had been mixed up with public
affairs; but his own private affairs had made no great
progress, either in love or fortune. As to love, the only
woman he could have loved was Mme. Bonacieux; and Mme.
Bonacieux had disappeared, without his being able to
discover what had become of her. As to fortune, he had
made--he, humble as he was--an enemy of the cardinal; that
is to say, of a man before whom trembled the greatest men of
the kingdom, beginning with the king.

That man had the power to crush him, and yet he had not done
so. For a mind so perspicuous as that of d'Artagnan, this
indulgence was a light by which he caught a glimpse of a
better future.

Then he had made himself another enemy, less to be feared,
he thought; but nevertheless, he instinctively felt, not to
be despised. This enemy was Milady.

In exchange for all this, he had acquired the protection and
good will of the queen; but the favor of the queen was at
the present time an additional cause of persecution, and her
protection, as it was known, protected badly--as witness
Chalais and Mme. Bonacieux.

What he had clearly gained in all this was the diamond,
worth five or six thousand livres, which he wore on his
finger; and even this diamond--supposing that d'Artagnan, in
his projects of ambition, wished to keep it, to make it
someday a pledge for the gratitude of the queen--had not in
the meanwhile, since he could not part with it, more value
than the gravel he trod under his feet.

We say the gravel he trod under his feet, for d'Artagnan
made these reflections while walking solitarily along a
pretty little road which led from the camp to the village of
Angoutin. Now, these reflections had led him further than
he intended, and the day was beginning to decline when, by
the last ray of the setting sun, he thought he saw the
barrel of a musket glitter from behind a hedge.

D'Artagnan had a quick eye and a prompt understanding. He
comprehended that the musket had not come there of itself,
and that he who bore it had not concealed himself behind a
hedge with any friendly intentions. He determined,
therefore, to direct his course as clear from it as he could
when, on the opposite side of the road, from behind a rock,
he perceived the extremity of another musket.

This was evidently an ambuscade.

The young man cast a glance at the first musket and saw,
with a certain degree of inquietude, that it was leveled in
his direction; but as soon as he perceived that the orifice
of the barrel was motionless, he threw himself upon the
ground. At the same instant the gun was fired, and he heard
the whistling of a ball pass over his head.

No time was to be lost. D'Artagnan sprang up with a bound,
and at the same instant the ball from the other musket tore
up the gravel on the very spot on the road where he had
thrown himself with his face to the ground.

D'Artagnan was not one of those foolhardy men who seek a
ridiculous death in order that it may be said of them that
they did not retreat a single step. Besides, courage was
out of the question here; d'Artagnan had fallen into an

"If there is a third shot," said he to himself, "I am a lost

He immediately, therefore, took to his heels and ran toward
the camp, with the swiftness of the young men of his
country, so renowned for their agility; but whatever might
be his speed, the first who fired, having had time to
reload, fired a second shot, and this time so well aimed
that it struck his hat, and carried it ten paces from him.

As he, however, had no other hat, he picked up this as he
ran, and arrived at his quarters very pale and quite out of
breath. He sat down without saying a word to anybody, and
began to reflect.

This event might have three causes:

The first and the most natural was that it might be an
ambuscade of the Rochellais, who might not be sorry to kill
one of his Majesty's Guards, because it would be an enemy
the less, and this enemy might have a well-furnished purse
in his pocket.

D'Artagnan took his hat, examined the hole made by the ball,
and shook his head. The ball was not a musket ball--it was
an arquebus ball. The accuracy of the aim had first given
him the idea that a special weapon had been employed. This
could not, then, be a military ambuscade, as the ball was
not of the regular caliber.

This might be a kind remembrance of Monsieur the Cardinal.
It may be observed that at the very moment when, thanks to
the ray of the sun, he perceived the gun barrel, he was
thinking with astonishment on the forbearance of his
Eminence with respect to him.

But d'Artagnan again shook his head. For people toward whom
he had but to put forth his hand, his Eminence had rarely
recourse to such means.

It might be a vengeance of Milady; that was most probable.

He tried in vain to remember the faces or dress of the
assassins; he had escaped so rapidly that he had not had
leisure to notice anything.

"Ah, my poor friends!" murmured d'Artagnan; "where are you?
And that you should fail me!"

D'Artagnan passed a very bad night. Three or four times he
started up, imagining that a man was approaching his bed for
the purpose of stabbing him. Nevertheless, day dawned
without darkness having brought any accident.

But d'Artagnan well suspected that that which was deferred
was not relinquished.

D'Artagnan remained all day in his quarters, assigning as a
reason to himself that the weather was bad.

At nine o'clock the next morning, the drums beat to arms.
The Duc d'Orleans visited the posts. The guards were under
arms, and d'Artagnan took his place in the midst of his

Monsieur passed along the front of the line; then all the
superior officers approached him to pay their compliments,
M. Dessessart, captain of the Guards, as well as the others.

At the expiration of a minute or two, it appeared to
d'Artagnan that M. Dessessart made him a sign to approach.
He waited for a fresh gesture on the part of his superior,
for fear he might be mistaken; but this gesture being
repeated, he left the ranks, and advanced to receive orders.

"Monsieur is about to ask for some men of good will for a
dangerous mission, but one which will do honor to those who
shall accomplish it; and I made you a sign in order that you
might hold yourself in readiness."

"Thanks, my captain!" replied d'Artagnan, who wished for
nothing better than an opportunity to distinguish himself
under the eye of the lieutenant general.

In fact the Rochellais had made a sortie during the night,
and had retaken a bastion of which the royal army had gained
possession two days before. The matter was to ascertain, by
reconnoitering, how the enemy guarded this bastion.

At the end of a few minutes Monsieur raised his voice, and
said, "I want for this mission three or four volunteers, led
by a man who can be depended upon."

"As to the man to be depended upon, I have him under my
hand, monsieur," said M. Dessessart, pointing to d'Artagnan;
"and as to the four or five volunteers, Monsieur has but to
make his intentions known, and the men will not be wanting."

"Four men of good will who will risk being killed with me!"
said d'Artagnan, raising his sword.

Two of his comrades of the Guards immediately sprang
forward, and two other soldiers having joined them, the
number was deemed sufficient. D'Artagnan declined all
others, being unwilling to take the first chance from those
who had the priority.

It was not known whether, after the taking of the bastion,
the Rochellais had evacuated it or left a garrison in it;
the object then was to examine the place near enough to
verify the reports.

D'Artagnan set out with his four companions, and followed
the trench; the two Guards marched abreast with him, and the
two soldiers followed behind.

They arrived thus, screened by the lining of the trench,
till they came within a hundred paces of the bastion.
There, on turning round, d'Artagnan perceived that the two
soldiers had disappeared.

He thought that, beginning to be afraid, they had stayed
behind, and he continued to advance.

At the turning of the counterscarp they found themselves
within about sixty paces of the bastion. They saw no one,
and the bastion seemed abandoned.

The three composing our forlorn hope were deliberating
whether they should proceed any further, when all at once a
circle of smoke enveloped the giant of stone, and a dozen
balls came whistling around d'Artagnan and his companions.

They knew all they wished to know; the bastion was guarded.
A longer stay in this dangerous spot would have been useless
imprudence. D'Artagnan and his two companions turned their
backs, and commenced a retreat which resembled a flight.

On arriving at the angle of the trench which was to serve
them as a rampart, one of the Guardsmen fell. A ball had
passed through his breast. The other, who was safe and
sound, continued his way toward the camp.

D'Artagnan was not willing to abandon his companion thus,
and stooped to raise him and assist him in regaining the
lines; but at this moment two shots were fired. One ball
struck the head of the already-wounded guard, and the other
flattened itself against a rock, after having passed within
two inches of d'Artagnan.

The young man turned quickly round, for this attack could
not have come from the bastion, which was hidden by the
angle of the trench. The idea of the two soldiers who had
abandoned him occurred to his mind, and with them he
remembered the assassins of two evenings before. He
resolved this time to know with whom he had to deal, and
fell upon the body of his comrade as if he were dead.

He quickly saw two heads appear above an abandoned work
within thirty paces of him; they were the heads of the two
soldiers. D'Artagnan had not been deceived; these two men
had only followed for the purpose of assassinating him,
hoping that the young man's death would be placed to the
account of the enemy.

As he might be only wounded and might denounce their crime,
they came up to him with the purpose of making sure.
Fortunately, deceived by d'Artagnan's trick, they neglected
to reload their guns.

When they were within ten paces of him, d'Artagnan, who in
falling had taken care not to let go his sword, sprang up
close to them.

The assassins comprehended that if they fled toward the camp
without having killed their man, they should be accused by
him; therefore their first idea was to join the enemy. One
of them took his gun by the barrel, and used it as he would
a club. He aimed a terrible blow at d'Artagnan, who avoided
it by springing to one side; but by this movement he left a
passage free to the bandit, who darted off toward the
bastion. As the Rochellais who guarded the bastion were
ignorant of the intentions of the man they saw coming toward
them, they fired upon him, and he fell, struck by a ball
which broke his shoulder.

Meantime d'Artagnan had thrown himself upon the other
soldier, attacking him with his sword. The conflict was not
long; the wretch had nothing to defend himself with but his
discharged arquebus. The sword of the Guardsman slipped
along the barrel of the now-useless weapon, and passed
through the thigh of the assassin, who fell.

D'Artagnan immediately placed the point of his sword at his

"Oh, do not kill me!" cried the bandit. "Pardon, pardon, my
officer, and I will tell you all."

"Is your secret of enough importance to me to spare your
life for it?" asked the young man, withholding his arm.

"Yes; if you think existence worth anything to a man of
twenty, as you are, and who may hope for everything, being
handsome and brave, as you are."

"Wretch," cried d'Artagnan, "speak quickly! Who employed
you to assassinate me?"

"A woman whom I don't know, but who is called Milady."

"But if you don't know this woman, how do you know her

"My comrade knows her, and called her so. It was with him
she agreed, and not with me; he even has in his pocket a
letter from that person, who attaches great importance to
you, as I have heard him say."

"But how did you become concerned in this villainous

"He proposed to me to undertake it with him, and I agreed."

"And how much did she give you for this fine enterprise?"

"A hundred louis."

"Well, come!" said the young man, laughing, "she thinks I am
worth something. A hundred louis? Well, that was a
temptation for two wretches like you. I understand why you
accepted it, and I grant you my pardon; but upon one

"What is that?" said the soldier, uneasy at perceiving that
all was not over.

"That you will go and fetch me the letter your comrade has
in his pocket."

"But," cried the bandit, "that is only another way of
killing me. How can I go and fetch that letter under the
fire of the bastion?"

"You must nevertheless make up your mind to go and get it,
or I swear you shall die by my hand."

"Pardon, monsieur; pity! In the name of that young lady you
love, and whom you perhaps believe dead but who is not!"
cried the bandit, throwing himself upon his knees and
leaning upon his hand--for he began to lose his strength
with his blood.

"And how do you know there is a young woman whom I love, and
that I believed that woman dead?" asked d'Artagnan.

"By that letter which my comrade has in his pocket."

"You see, then," said d'Artagnan, "that I must have that
letter. So no more delay, no more hesitation; or else
whatever may be my repugnance to soiling my sword a second
time with the blood of a wretch like you, I swear by my
faith as an honest man--" and at these words d'Artagnan made
so fierce a gesture that the wounded man sprang up.

"Stop, stop!" cried he, regaining strength by force of
terror. "I will go--I will go!"

D'Artagnan took the soldier's arquebus, made him go on
before him, and urged him toward his companion by pricking
him behind with his sword.

It was a frightful thing to see this wretch, leaving a long
track of blood on the ground he passed over, pale with
approaching death, trying to drag himself along without
being seen to the body of his accomplice, which lay twenty
paces from him.

Terror was so strongly painted on his face, covered with a
cold sweat, that d'Artagnan took pity on him, and casting
upon him a look of contempt, "Stop," said he, "I will show
you the difference between a man of courage and such a
coward as you. Stay where you are; I will go myself."

And with a light step, an eye on the watch, observing the
movements of the enemy and taking advantage of the accidents
of the ground, d'Artagnan succeeded in reaching the second

There were two means of gaining his object--to search him on
the spot, or to carry him away, making a buckler of his
body, and search him in the trench.

D'Artagnan preferred the second means, and lifted the
assassin onto his shoulders at the moment the enemy fired.

A slight shock, the dull noise of three balls which
penetrated the flesh, a last cry, a convulsion of agony,
proved to d'Artagnan that the would-be assassin had saved
his life.

D'Artagnan regained the trench, and threw the corpse beside
the wounded man, who was as pale as death.

Then he began to search. A leather pocketbook, a purse, in
which was evidently a part of the sum which the bandit had
received, with a dice box and dice, completed the
possessions of the dead man.

He left the box and dice where they fell, threw the purse to
the wounded man, and eagerly opened the pocketbook.

Among some unimportant papers he found the following letter,
that which he had sought at the risk of his life:

"Since you have lost sight of that woman and she is now in
safety in the convent, which you should never have allowed
her to reach, try, at least, not to miss the man. If you
do, you know that my hand stretches far, and that you shall
pay very dearly for the hundred louis you have from me."

No signature. Nevertheless it was plain the letter came
from Milady. He consequently kept it as a piece of
evidence, and being in safety behind the angle of the
trench, he began to interrogate the wounded man. He
confessed that he had undertaken with his comrade--the same
who was killed--to carry off a young woman who was to leave
Paris by the Barriere de La Villette; but having stopped to
drink at a cabaret, they had missed the carriage by ten

"But what were you to do with that woman?" asked d'Artagnan,
with anguish.

"We were to have conveyed her to a hotel in the Place
Royale," said the wounded man.

"Yes, yes!" murmured d'Artagnan; "that's the place--Milady's
own residence!"

Then the young man tremblingly comprehended what a terrible
thirst for vengeance urged this woman on to destroy him, as
well as all who loved him, and how well she must be
acquainted with the affairs of the court, since she had
discovered all. There could be no doubt she owed this
information to the cardinal.

But amid all this he perceived, with a feeling of real joy,
that the queen must have discovered the prison in which poor
Mme. Bonacieux was explaining her devotion, and that she had
freed her from that prison; and the letter he had received
from the young woman, and her passage along the road of
Chaillot like an apparition, were now explained.

Then also, as Athos had predicted, it became possible to
find Mme. Bonacieux, and a convent was not impregnable.

This idea completely restored clemency to his heart. He
turned toward the wounded man, who had watched with intense
anxiety all the various expressions of his countenance, and
holding out his arm to him, said, "Come, I will not abandon
you thus. Lean upon me, and let us return to the camp."

"Yes," said the man, who could scarcely believe in such
magnanimity, "but is it not to have me hanged?"

"You have my word," said he; "for the second time I give you
your life."

The wounded man sank upon his knees, to again kiss the feet
of his preserver; but d'Artagnan, who had no longer a motive
for staying so near the enemy, abridged the testimonials of
his gratitude.

The Guardsman who had returned at the first discharge
announced the death of his four companions. They were
therefore much astonished and delighted in the regiment when
they saw the young man come back safe and sound.

D'Artagnan explained the sword wound of his companion by a
sortie which he improvised. He described the death of the
other soldier, and the perils they had encountered. This
recital was for him the occasion of veritable triumph. The
whole army talked of this expedition for a day, and Monsieur
paid him his compliments upon it. Besides this, as every
great action bears its recompense with it, the brave exploit
of d'Artagnan resulted in the restoration of the tranquility
he had lost. In fact, d'Artagnan believed that he might be
tranquil, as one of his two enemies was killed and the other
devoted to his interests.

This tranquillity proved one thing--that d'Artagnan did not
yet know Milady.


After the most disheartening news of the king's health, a
report of his convalescence began to prevail in the camp;
and as he was very anxious to be in person at the siege, it
was said that as soon as he could mount a horse he would set

Meantime, Monsieur, who knew that from one day to the other
he might expect to be removed from his command by the Duc
d'Angouleme, by Bassompierre, or by Schomberg, who were all
eager for his post, did but little, lost his days in
wavering, and did not dare to attempt any great enterprise
to drive the English from the Isle of Re, where they still
besieged the citadel St. Martin and the fort of La Pree, as
on their side the French were besieging La Rochelle.

D'Artagnan, as we have said, had become more tranquil, as
always happens after a post danger, particularly when the
danger seems to have vanished. He only felt one uneasiness,
and that was at not hearing any tidings from his friends.

But one morning at the commencement of the month of November
everything was explained to him by this letter, dated from

M. d'Artagnan,

MM. Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, after having
had an entertainment at my house and enjoying themselves
very much, created such a disturbance that the provost of
the castle, a rigid man, has ordered them to be confined for
some days; but I accomplish the order they have given me by
forwarding to you a dozen bottles of my Anjou wine, with
which they are much pleased. They are desirous that you
should drink to their health in their favorite wine. I have
done this, and am, monsieur, with great respect,

Your very humble and obedient servant,

Godeau, Purveyor of the Musketeers

"That's all well!" cried d'Artagnan. "They think of me in
their pleasures, as I thought of them in my troubles. Well,
I will certainly drink to their health with all my heart,
but I will not drink alone."

And d'Artagnan went among those Guardsmen with whom he had
formed greater intimacy than with the others, to invite them
to enjoy with him this present of delicious Anjou wine which
had been sent him from Villeroy.

One of the two Guardsmen was engaged that evening, and
another the next, so the meeting was fixed for the day after

D'Artagnan, on his return, sent the twelve bottles of wine
to the refreshment room of the Guards, with strict orders
that great care should be taken of it; and then, on the day
appointed, as the dinner was fixed for midday d'Artagnan
sent Planchet at nine in the morning to assist in preparing
everything for the entertainment.

Planchet, very proud of being raised to the dignity of
landlord, thought he would make all ready, like an
intelligent man; and with this view called in the assistance
of the lackey of one of his master's guests, named Fourreau,
and the false soldier who had tried to kill d'Artagnan and
who, belonging to no corps, had entered into the service of
d'Artagnan, or rather of Planchet, after d'Artagnan had
saved his life.

The hour of the banquet being come, the two guards arrived,
took their places, and the dishes were arranged on the
table. Planchet waited, towel on arm; Fourreau uncorked the
bottles; and Brisemont, which was the name of the
convalescent, poured the wine, which was a little shaken by
its journey, carefully into decanters. Of this wine, the
first bottle being a little thick at the bottom, Brisemont
poured the lees into a glass, and d'Artagnan desired him to
drink it, for the poor devil had not yet recovered his

The guests having eaten the soup, were about to lift the
first glass of wine to their lips, when all at once the
cannon sounded from Fort Louis and Fort Neuf. The
Guardsmen, imagining this to be caused by some unexpected
attack, either of the besieged or the English, sprang to
their swords. D'Artagnan, not less forward than they, did
likewise, and all ran out, in order to repair to their

But scarcely were they out of the room before they were made
aware of the cause of this noise. Cries of "Live the king!
Live the cardinal!" resounded on every side, and the drums
were beaten in all directions.

In short, the king, impatient, as has been said, had come by
forced marches, and had that moment arrived with all his
household and a reinforcement of ten thousand troops. His
Musketeers proceeded and followed him. D'Artagnan, placed
in line with his company, saluted with an expressive gesture
his three friends, whose eyes soon discovered him, and M. de
Treville, who detected him at once.

The ceremony of reception over, the four friends were soon
in one another's arms.

"Pardieu!" cried d'Artagnan, "you could not have arrived in
better time; the dinner cannot have had time to get cold!
Can it, gentlemen?" added the young man, turning to the two
Guards, whom he introduced to his friends.

"Ah, ah!" said Porthos, "it appears we are feasting!"

"I hope," said Aramis, "there are no women at your dinner."

"Is there any drinkable wine in your tavern?" asked Athos.

"Well, pardieu! there is yours, my dear friend," replied

"Our wine!" said Athos, astonished.

"Yes, that you sent me."

"We sent you wine?"

"You know very well--the wine from the hills of Anjou."

"Yes, I know what brand you are talking about."

"The wine you prefer."

"Well, in the absence of champagne and chambertin, you must
content yourselves with that."

"And so, connoisseurs in wine as we are, we have sent you
some Anjou wine?" said Porthos.

"Not exactly, it is the wine that was sent by your order."

"On our account?" said the three Musketeers.

"Did you send this wine, Aramis?" said Athos.

"No; and you, Porthos?"

"No; and you, Athos?"


"If it was not you, it was your purveyor," said d'Artagnan.

"Our purveyor!"

"Yes, your purveyor, Godeau--the purveyor of the

"My faith! never mind where it comes from," said Porthos,
"let us taste it, and if it is good, let us drink it."

"No," said Athos; "don't let us drink wine which comes from
an unknown source."

"You are right, Athos," said d'Artagnan. "Did none of you
charge your purveyor, Godeau, to send me some wine?"

"No! And yet you say he has sent you some as from us?"

"Here is his letter," said d'Artagnan, and he presented the
note to his comrades.

"This is not his writing!" said Athos. "I am acquainted
with it; before we left Villeroy I settled the accounts of
the regiment."

"A false letter altogether," said Porthos, "we have not been

"d'Artagnan," said Aramis, in a reproachful tone, "how could
you believe that we had made a disturbance?"

D'Artagnan grew pale, and a convulsive trembling shook all
his limbs.

"Thou alarmest me!" said Athos, who never used thee and thou
but upon very particular occasions, "what has happened?"

"Look you, my friends!" cried d'Artagnan, "a horrible
suspicion crosses my mind! Can this be another vengeance of
that woman?"

It was now Athos who turned pale.

D'Artagnan rushed toward the refreshment room, the three
Musketeers and the two Guards following him.

The first object that met the eyes of d'Artagnan on entering
the room was Brisemont, stretched upon the ground and
rolling in horrible convulsions.

Planchet and Fourreau, as pale as death, were trying to give
him succor; but it was plain that all assistance was
useless--all the features of the dying man were distorted
with agony.

"Ah!" cried he, on perceiving d'Artagnan, "ah! this is
frightful! You pretend to pardon me, and you poison me!"

"I!" cried d'Artagnan. "I, wretch? What do you say?"

"I say that it was you who gave me the wine; I say that it
was you who desired me to drink it. I say you wished to
avenge yourself on me, and I say that it is horrible!"

"Do not think so, Brisemont," said d'Artagnan; "do not think
so. I swear to you, I protest--"

"Oh, but God is above! God will punish you! My God, grant
that he may one day suffer what I suffer!"

"Upon the Gospel," said d'Artagnan, throwing himself down by
the dying man, "I swear to you that the wine was poisoned
and that I was going to drink of it as you did."

"I do not believe you," cried the soldier, and he expired
amid horrible tortures.

"Frightful! frightful!" murmured Athos, while Porthos broke
the bottles and Aramis gave orders, a little too late, that
a confessor should be sent for.

"Oh, my friends," said d'Artagnan, "you come once more to
save my life, not only mine but that of these gentlemen.
Gentlemen," continued he, addressing the Guardsmen, "I
request you will be silent with regard to this adventure.
Great personages may have had a hand in what you have seen,
and if talked about, the evil would only recoil upon us."

"Ah, monsieur!" stammered Planchet, more dead than alive,
"ah, monsieur, what an escape I have had!"

"How, sirrah! you were going to drink my wine?"

"To the health of the king, monsieur; I was going to drink a
small glass of it if Fourreau had not told me I was called."

"Alas!" said Fourreau, whose teeth chattered with terror,
"I wanted to get him out of the way that I might drink myself."

"Gentlemen," said d'Artagnan, addressing the Guardsmen, "you
may easily comprehend that such a feast can only be very
dull after what has taken place; so accept my excuses, and
put off the party till another day, I beg of you."

The two Guardsmen courteously accepted d'Artagnan's excuses,
and perceiving that the four friends desired to be alone,

When the young Guardsman and the three Musketeers were
without witnesses, they looked at one another with an air
which plainly expressed that each of them perceived the
gravity of their situation.

"In the first place," said Athos, "let us leave this
chamber; the dead are not agreeable company, particularly
when they have died a violent death."

"Planchet," said d'Artagnan, "I commit the corpse of this
poor devil to your care. Let him be interred in holy
ground. He committed a crime, it is true; but he repented
of it."

And the four friends quit the room, leaving to Planchet and
Fourreau the duty of paying mortuary honors to Brisemont.

The host gave them another chamber, and served them with
fresh eggs and some water, which Athos went himself to draw
at the fountain. In a few words, Porthos and Aramis were
posted as to the situation.

"Well," said d'Artagnan to Athos, "you see, my dear friend,
that this is war to the death."

Athos shook his head.

"Yes, yes," replied he, "I perceive that plainly; but do you
really believe it is she?"

"I am sure of it."

"Nevertheless, I confess I still doubt."

"But the fleur-de-lis on her shoulder?"

"She is some Englishwoman who has committed a crime in
France, and has been branded in consequence."

"Athos, she is your wife, I tell you," repeated d'Artagnan;
"only reflect how much the two descriptions resemble each

"Yes; but I should think the other must be dead, I hanged
her so effectually."

It was d'Artagnan who now shook his head in his turn.

"But in either case, what is to be done?" said the young

"The fact is, one cannot remain thus, with a sword hanging
eternally over his head," said Athos. "We must extricate
ourselves from this position."

"But how?"

"Listen! You must try to see her, and have an explanation
with her. Say to her: 'Peace or war! My word as a
gentleman never to say anything of you, never to do anything
against you; on your side, a solemn oath to remain neutral
with respect to me. If not, I will apply to the chancellor,
I will apply to the king, I will apply to the hangman, I
will move the courts against you, I will denounce you as
branded, I will bring you to trial; and if you are
acquitted, well, by the faith of a gentleman, I will kill
you at the corner of some wall, as I would a mad dog.'"

"I like the means well enough," said d'Artagnan, "but where
and how to meet with her?"

"Time, dear friend, time brings round opportunity;
opportunity is the martingale of man. The more we have
ventured the more we gain, when we know how to wait."

"Yes; but to wait surrounded by assassins and poisoners."

"Bah!" said Athos. "God has preserved us hitherto, God will
preserve us still."

"Yes, we. Besides, we are men; and everything considered,
it is our lot to risk our lives; but she," asked he, in an

"What she?" asked Athos.


"Madame Bonacieux! Ah, that's true!" said Athos. "My poor
friend, I had forgotten you were in love."

"Well, but," said Aramis, "have you not learned by the
letter you found on the wretched corpse that she is in a
convent? One may be very comfortable in a convent; and as
soon as the siege of La Rochelle is terminated, I promise
you on my part--"

"Good," cried Athos, "good! Yes, my dear Aramis, we all
know that your views have a religious tendency."

"I am only temporarily a Musketeer," said Aramis, humbly.

"It is some time since we heard from his mistress," said
Athos, in a low voice. "But take no notice; we know all
about that."

"Well," said Porthos, "it appears to me that the means are
very simple."

"What?" asked d'Artagnan.

"You say she is in a convent?" replied Porthos.


"Very well. As soon as the siege is over, we'll carry her
off from that convent."

"But we must first learn what convent she is in."

"That's true," said Porthos.

"But I think I have it," said Athos. "Don't you say, dear
d'Artagnan, that it is the queen who has made choice of the
convent for her?"

"I believe so, at least."

"In that case Porthos will assist us."

"And how so, if you please?"

"Why, by your marchioness, your duchess, your princess. She
must have a long arm."

"Hush!" said Porthos, placing a finger on his lips. "I
believe her to be a cardinalist; she must know nothing of
the matter."

"Then," said Aramis, "I take upon myself to obtain
intelligence of her."

"You, Aramis?" cried the three friends. "You! And how?"

"By the queen's almoner, to whom I am very intimately
allied," said Aramis, coloring.

And on this assurance, the four friends, who had finished
their modest repast, separated, with the promise of meeting
again that evening. D'Artagnan returned to less important
affairs, and the three Musketeers repaired to the king's
quarters, where they had to prepare their lodging.

43 The Sign of the Red Dovecot

Meanwhile the king, who, with more reason than the cardinal,
showed his hatred for Buckingham, although scarcely arrived
was in such a haste to meet the enemy that he commanded
every disposition to be made to drive the English from the
Isle of Re, and afterward to press the siege of La Rochelle;
but notwithstanding his earnest wish, he was delayed by the
dissensions which broke out between MM. Bassompierre and
Schomberg, against the Duc d'Angouleme.

MM. Bassompierre and Schomberg were marshals of France, and
claimed their right of commanding the army under the orders
of the king; but the cardinal, who feared that Bassompierre,
a Huguenot at heart, might press but feebly the English and
Rochellais, his brothers in religion, supported the Duc
d'Angouleme, whom the king, at his instigation, had named
lieutenant general. The result was that to prevent MM.
Bassompierre and Schomberg from deserting the army, a
separate command had to be given to each. Bassompierre took
up his quarters on the north of the city, between Leu and
Dompierre; the Duc d'Angouleme on the east, from Dompierre
to Perigny; and M. de Schomberg on the south, from Perigny
to Angoutin.

The quarters of Monsieur were at Dompierre; the quarters of
the king were sometimes at Estree, sometimes at Jarrie; the
cardinal's quarters were upon the downs, at the bridge of La
Pierre, in a simple house without any entrenchment. So that
Monsieur watched Bassompierre; the king, the Duc
d'Angouleme; and the cardinal, M. de Schomberg.

As soon as this organization was established, they set about
driving the English from the Isle.

The juncture was favorable. The English, who require, above
everything, good living in order to be good soldiers, only
eating salt meat and bad biscuit, had many invalids in their
camp. Still further, the sea, very rough at this period of
the year all along the sea coast, destroyed every day some
little vessel; and the shore, from the point of l'Aiguillon
to the trenches, was at every tide literally covered with
the wrecks of pinnacles, roberges, and feluccas. The result
was that even if the king's troops remained quietly in their
camp, it was evident that some day or other, Buckingham, who
only continued in the Isle from obstinacy, would be obliged
to raise the siege.

But as M. de Toiras gave information that everything was
preparing in the enemy's camp for a fresh assault, the king
judged that it would be best to put an end to the affair,
and gave the necessary orders for a decisive action.

As it is not our intention to give a journal of the siege,
but on the contrary only to describe such of the events of
it as are connected with the story we are relating, we will
content ourselves with saying in two words that the
expedition succeeded, to the great astonishment of the king
and the great glory of the cardinal. The English, repulsed
foot by foot, beaten in all encounters, and defeated in the
passage of the Isle of Loie, were obliged to re-embark,
leaving on the field of battle two thousand men, among whom
were five colonels, three lieutenant colonels, two hundred
and fifty captains, twenty gentlemen of rank, four pieces of
cannon, and sixty flags, which were taken to Paris by Claude
de St. Simon, and suspended with great pomp in the arches of
Notre Dame.

Te Deums were chanted in camp, and afterward throughout

The cardinal was left free to carry on the siege, without
having, at least at the present, anything to fear on the
part of the English.

But it must be acknowledged, this response was but
momentary. An envoy of the Duke of Buckingham, named
Montague, was taken, and proof was obtained of a league
between the German Empire, Spain, England, and Lorraine.
This league was directed against France.

Still further, in Buckingham's lodging, which he had been
forced to abandon more precipitately than he expected,
papers were found which confirmed this alliance and which,
as the cardinal asserts in his memoirs, strongly compromised
Mme. de Chevreuse and consequently the queen.

It was upon the cardinal that all the responsibility fell,
for one is not a despotic minister without responsibility.
All, therefore, of the vast resources of his genius were at
work night and day, engaged in listening to the least report
heard in any of the great kingdoms of Europe.

The cardinal was acquainted with the activity, and more
particularly the hatred, of Buckingham. If the league which
threatened France triumphed, all his influence would be
lost. Spanish policy and Austrian policy would have their
representatives in the cabinet of the Louvre, where they had
as yet but partisans; and he, Richelieu--the French
minister, the national minister--would be ruined. The king,
even while obeying him like a child, hated him as a child
hates his master, and would abandon him to the personal
vengeance of Monsieur and the queen. He would then be lost,
and France, perhaps, with him. All this must be prepared

Courtiers, becoming every instant more numerous, succeeded
one another, day and night, in the little house of the
bridge of La Pierre, in which the cardinal had established
his residence.

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