Part 3 out of 17
8 CONCERNING A COURT INTRIGUE
In the meantime, the forty pistoles of King Louis XIII, like all
other things of this world, after having had a beginning had an
end, and after this end our four companions began to be somewhat
embarrassed. At first, Athos supported the association for a
time with his own means.
Porthos succeeded him; and thanks to one of those disappearances
to which he was accustomed, he was able to provide for the wants
of all for a fortnight. At last it became Aramis's turn, who
performed it with a good grace and who succeeded--as he said, by
selling some theological books--in procuring a few pistoles.
Then, as they had been accustomed to do, they had recourse to M.
de Treville, who made some advances on their pay; but these
advances could not go far with three Musketeers who were already
much in arrears and a Guardsman who as yet had no pay at all.
At length when they found they were likely to be really in want,
they got together, as a last effort, eight or ten pistoles, with
which Porthos went to the gaming table. Unfortunately he was in
a bad vein; he lost all, together with twenty-five pistoles for
which he had given his word.
Then the inconvenience became distress. The hungry friends,
followed by their lackeys, were seen haunting the quays and Guard
rooms, picking up among their friends abroad all the dinners they
could meet with; for according to the advice of Aramis, it was
prudent to sow repasts right and left in prosperity, in order to
reap a few in time of need.
Athos was invited four times, and each time took his friends and
their lackeys with him. Porthos had six occasions, and contrived
in the same manner that his friends should partake of them;
Aramis had eight of them. He was a man, as must have been
already perceived, who made but little noise, and yet was much
As to d'Artagnan, who as yet knew nobody in the capital, he only
found one chocolate breakfast at the house of a priest of his own
province, and one dinner at the house of a cornet of the Guards.
He took his army to the priest's, where they devoured as much
provision as would have lasted him for two months, and to the
cornet's, who performed wonders; but as Planchet said, "People do
not eat at once for all time, even when they eat a good deal."
D'Artagnan thus felt himself humiliated in having only procured
one meal and a half for his companions--as the breakfast at the
priest's could only be counted as half a repast--in return for
the feasts which Athos, Porthos, and Aramis had procured him. He
fancied himself a burden to the society, forgetting in his
perfectly juvenile good faith that he had fed this society for a
month; and he set his mind actively to work. He reflected that
this coalition of four young, brave, enterprising, and active men
ought to have some other object than swaggering walks, fencing
lessons, and practical jokes, more or less witty.
In fact, four men such as they were--four men devoted to one
another, from their purses to their lives; four men always
supporting one another, never yielding, executing singly or
together the resolutions formed in common; four arms threatening
the four cardinal points, or turning toward a single point--must
inevitably, either subterraneously, in open day, by mining, in
the trench, by cunning, or by force, open themselves a way toward
the object they wished to attain, however well it might be
defended, or however distant it may seem. The only thing that
astonished d'Artagnan was that his friends had never thought of
He was thinking by himself, and even seriously racking his brain
to find a direction for this single force four times multiplied,
with which he did not doubt, as with the lever for which
Archimedes sought, they should succeed in moving the world, when
someone tapped gently at his door. D'Artagnan awakened Planchet
and ordered him to open it.
From this phrase, "d'Artagnan awakened Planchet," the reader must
not suppose it was night, or that day was hardly come. No, it
had just struck four. Planchet, two hours before, had asked his
master for some dinner, and he had answered him with the proverb,
"He who sleeps, dines." And Planchet dined by sleeping.
A man was introduced of simple mien, who had the appearance of a
tradesman. Planchet, by way of dessert, would have liked to hear
the conversation; but the citizen declared to d'Artagnan that
what he had to say being important and confidential, he desired
to be left alone with him.
D'Artagnan dismissed Planchet, and requested his visitor to be
seated. There was a moment of silence, during which the two men
looked at each other, as if to make a preliminary acquaintance,
after which d'Artagnan bowed, as a sign that he listened.
"I have heard Monsieur d'Artagnan spoken of as a very brave young
man," said the citizen; "and this reputation which he justly
enjoys had decided me to confide a secret to him."
"Speak, monsieur, speak," said d'Artagnan, who instinctively
scented something advantageous.
The citizen made a fresh pause and continued, "I have a wife who
is seamstress to the queen, monsieur, and who is not deficient in
either virtue or beauty. I was induced to marry her about three
years ago, although she had but very little dowry, because
Monsieur Laporte, the queen's cloak bearer, is her godfather, and
"Well, monsieur?" asked d'Artagnan.
"Well!" resumed the citizen, "well, monsieur, my wife was
abducted yesterday morning, as she was coming out of her
"And by whom was your wife abducted?"
"I know nothing surely, monsieur, but I suspect someone."
"And who is the person whom you suspect?"
"A man who has pursued her a long time."
"But allow me to tell you, monsieur," continued the citizen,
"that I am convinced that there is less love than politics in all
"Less love than politics," replied d'Artagnan, with a reflective
air; "and what do you suspect?"
"I do not know whether I ought to tell you what I suspect."
"Monsieur, I beg you to observe that I ask you absolutely
nothing. It is you who have come to me. It is you who have told
me that you had a secret to confide in me. Act, then, as you
think proper; there is still time to withdraw."
"No, monsieur, no; you appear to be an honest young man, and I
will have confidence in you. I believe, then, that it is not on
account of any intrigues of her own that my wife has been
arrested, but because of those of a lady much greater than
"Ah, ah! Can it be on account of the amours of Madame de
Bois-Tracy?" said d'Artagnan, wishing to have the air, in the
eyes of the citizen, of being posted as to court affairs.
"Higher, monsieur, higher."
"Of Madame d'Aiguillon?"
"Of Madame de Chevreuse?"
"Of the--" d'Artagnan checked himself.
"Yes, monsieur," replied the terrified citizen, in a tone so low
that he was scarcely audible.
"And with whom?"
"With whom can it be, if not the Duke of--"
"The Duke of--"
"Yes, monsieur," replied the citizen, giving a still fainter
intonation to his voice.
"But how do you know all this?"
"How do I know it?"
"Yes, how do you know it? No half-confidence, or--you understand!"
"I know it from my wife, monsieur--from my wife herself."
"Who learns it from whom?"
"From Monsieur Laporte. Did I not tell you that she was the
goddaughter of Monsieur Laporte, the confidential man of the
queen? Well, Monsieur Laporte placed her near her Majesty in
order that our poor queen might at least have someone in whom she
could place confidence, abandoned as she is by the king, watched
as she is by the cardinal, betrayed as she is by everybody."
"Ah, ah! It begins to develop itself," said d'Artagnan.
"Now, my wife came home four days ago, monsieur. One of her
conditions was that she should come and see me twice a week; for,
as I had the honor to tell you, my wife loves me dearly--my wife,
then, came and confided to me that the queen at that very moment
entertained great fears."
"Yes. The cardinal, as it appears, pursues he and persecutes her
more than ever. He cannot pardon her the history of the
Saraband. You know the history of the Saraband?"
"PARDIEU! Know it!" replied d'Artagnan, who knew nothing about
it, but who wished to appear to know everything that was going
"So that now it is no longer hatred, but vengeance."
"And the queen believes--"
"Well, what does the queen believe?"
"She believes that someone has written to the Duke of Buckingham
in her name."
"In the queen's name?"
"Yes, to make him come to Paris; and when once come to Paris, to
draw him into some snare."
"The devil! But your wife, monsieur, what has she to do with all
"Her devotion to the queen is known; and they wish either to
remove her from her mistress, or to intimidate her, in order to
obtain her Majesty's secrets, or to seduce her and make use of
her as a spy."
"That is likely," said d'Artagnan; "but the man who has abducted
her--do you know him?"
"I have told you that I believe I know him."
"I do not know that; what I do know is that he is a creature of
the cardinal, his evil genius."
"But you have seen him?"
"Yes, my wife pointed him out to me one day."
'Has he anything remarkable about him by which one may recognize
"Oh, certainly; he is a noble of very lofty carriage, black hair,
swarthy complexion, piercing eye, white teeth, and has a scar on
"A scar on his temple!" cried d'Artagnan; "and with that, white
teeth, a piercing eye, dark complexion, black hair, and haughty
carriage--why, that's my man of Meung."
"He is your man, do you say?"
"Yes, yes; but that has nothing to do with it. No, I am wrong.
On the contrary, that simplifies the matter greatly. If your man
is mine, with one blow I shall obtain two revenges, that's all;
but where to find this man?"
"I know not."
"Have you no information as to his abiding place?"
"None. One day, as I was conveying my wife back to the Louvre,
he was coming out as she was going in, and she showed him to me."
"The devil! The devil!" murmured d'Artagnan; "all this is vague
enough. From whom have you learned of the abduction of your
"From Monsieur Laporte."
"Did he give you any details?"
"He knew none himself."
"And you have learned nothing from any other quarter?"
"Yes, I have received--"
"I fear I am committing a great imprudence."
"You always come back to that; but I must make you see this time
that it is too late to retreat."
"I do not retreat, MORDIEU!" cried the citizen, swearing in order
to rouse his courage. "Besides, by the faith of Bonacieux--"
"You call yourself Bonacieux?" interrupted d'Artagnan.
"Yes, that is my name."
"You said, then, by the word of Bonacieux. Pardon me for
interrupting you, but it appears to me that that name is familiar
"Possibly, monsieur. I am your landlord."
"Ah, ah!" said d'Artagnan, half rising and bowing; "you are my
"Yes, monsieur, yes. And as it is three months since you have
been here, and though, distracted as you must be in your
important occupations, you have forgotten to pay me my rent--as,
I say, I have not tormented you a single instant, I thought you
would appreciate my delicacy."
"How can it be otherwise, my dear Bonacieux?" replied d'Artagnan;
"trust me, I am fully grateful for such unparalleled conduct, and
if, as I told you, I can be of any service to you--"
"I believe you, monsieur, I believe you; and as I was about to
say, by the word of Bonacieux, I have confidence in you."
"Finish, then, what you were about to say."
The citizen took a paper from his pocket, and presented it to
"A letter?" said the young man.
"Which I received this morning."
D'Artagnan opened it, and as the day was beginning to decline, he
approached the window to read it. The citizen followed him.
"'Do not seek your wife,'" read d'Artagnan; "'she will be
restored to you when there is no longer occasion for her. If you
make a single step to find her you are lost.'
"That's pretty positive," continued d'Artagnan; "but after all,
it is but a menace."
"Yes; but that menace terrifies me. I am not a fighting man at
all, monsieur, and I am afraid of the Bastille."
"Hum!" said d'Artagnan. "I have no greater regard for the
Bastille than you. If it were nothing but a sword thrust, why
"I have counted upon you on this occasion, monsieur."
"Seeing you constantly surrounded by Musketeers of a very superb
appearance, and knowing that these Musketeers belong to Monsieur
de Treville, and were consequently enemies of the cardinal, I
thought that you and your friends, while rendering justice to
your poor queen, would be pleased to play his Eminence an ill
"And then I have thought that considering three months' lodging,
about which I have said nothing--"
"Yes, yes; you have already given me that reason, and I find it
"Reckoning still further, that as long as you do me the honor to
remain in my house I shall never speak to you about rent--"
"And adding to this, if there be need of it, meaning to offer you
fifty pistoles, if, against all probability, you should be short
at the present moment."
"Admirable! You are rich then, my dear Monsieur Bonacieux?"
"I am comfortably off, monsieur, that's all; I have scraped
together some such thing as an income of two or three thousand
crown in the haberdashery business, but more particularly in
venturing some funds in the last voyage of the celebrated
navigator Jean Moquet; so that you understand, monsieur--But"
cried the citizen.
"What!" demanded d'Artagnan.
"Whom do I see yonder?"
"In the street, facing your window, in the embrasure of that
door--a man wrapped in a cloak."
"It is he!" cried d'Artagnan and the citizen at the same time,
each having recognized his man.
"Ah, this time," cried d'Artagnan, springing to his sword, "this
time he will not escape me!"
Drawing his sword from its scabbard, he rushed out of the
apartment. On the staircase he met Athos and Porthos, who were
coming to see him. They separated, and d'Artagnan rushed between
them like a dart.
"Pah! Where are you going?" cried the two Musketeers in a breath.
"The man of Meung!" replied d'Artagnan, and disappeared.
D'Artagnan had more than once related to his friends his
adventure with the stranger, as well as the apparition of the
beautiful foreigner, to whom this man had confided some important
The opinion of Athos was that d'Artagnan had lost his letter in
the skirmish. A gentleman, in his opinion--and according to
d'Artagnan's portrait of him, the stranger must be a gentleman--
would be incapable of the baseness of stealing a letter.
Porthos saw nothing in all this but a love meeting, given by a
lady to a cavalier, or by a cavalier to a lady, which had been
disturbed by the presence of d'Artagnan and his yellow horse.
Aramis said that as these sorts of affairs were mysterious, it
was better not to fathom them.
They understood, then, from the few words which escaped from
d'Artagnan, what affair was in hand, and as they thought that
overtaking his man, or losing sight of him, d'Artagnan would
return to his rooms, they kept on their way.
When they entered d'Artagnan's chamber, it was empty; the
landlord, dreading the consequences of the encounter which was
doubtless about to take place between the young man and the
stranger, had, consistent with the character he had given
himself, judged it prudent to decamp.
9 D'ARTAGNAN SHOWS HIMSELF
As Athos and Porthos had foreseen, at the expiration of a half
hour, d'Artagnan returned. He had again missed his man, who had
disappeared as if by enchantment. D'Artagnan had run, sword in
hand, through all the neighboring streets, but had found nobody
resembling the man he sought for. Then he came back to the point
where, perhaps, he ought to have begun, and that was to knock at
the door against which the stranger had leaned; but this proved
useless--for though he knocked ten or twelve times in succession,
no one answered, and some of the neighbors, who put their noses
out of their windows or were brought to their doors by the noise,
had assured him that that house, all the openings of which were
tightly closed, had not been inhabited for six months.
While d'Artagnan was running through the streets and knocking at
doors, Aramis had joined his companions; so that on returning home
d'Artagnan found the reunion complete.
"Well!" cried the three Musketeers all together, on seeing
d'Artagnan enter with his brow covered with perspiration and his
countenance upset with anger.
"Well!" cried he, throwing his sword upon the bed, "this man must
be the devil in person; he has disappeared like a phantom,
like a shade, like a specter."
"Do you believe in apparitions?" asked Athos of Porthos.
"I never believe in anything I have not seen, and as I never have
seen apparitions, I don't believe in them."
"The Bible," said Aramis, "make our belief in them a law; the
ghost of Samuel appeared to Saul, and it is an article of faith
that I should be very sorry to see any doubt thrown upon,
"At all events, man or devil, body or shadow, illusion or
reality, this man is born for my damnation; for his flight has
caused us to miss a glorious affair, gentlemen--an affair by
which there were a hundred pistoles, and perhaps more, to be
"How is that?" cried Porthos and Aramis in a breath.
As to Athos, faithful to his system of reticence, he contented
himself with interrogating d'Artagnan by a look.
"Planchet," said d'Artagnan to his domestic, who just then
insinuated his head through the half-open door in order to catch
some fragments of the conversation, "go down to my landlord,
Monsieur Bonacieux, and ask him to send me half a dozen bottles
of Beaugency wine; I prefer that."
"Ah, ah! You have credit with your landlord, then?" asked
"Yes," replied d'Artagnan, "from this very day; and mind, if the
wine is bad, we will send him to find better."
"We must use, and not abuse," said Aramis, sententiously.
"I always said that d'Artagnan had the longest head of the four,"
said Athos, who, having uttered his opinion, to which d'Artagnan
replied with a bow, immediately resumed his accustomed silence.
"But come, what is this about?" asked Porthos.
"Yes," said Aramis, "impart it to us, my dear friend, unless the
honor of any lady be hazarded by this confidence; in that case
you would do better to keep it to yourself."
"Be satisfied," replied d'Artagnan; "the honor of no one will
have cause to complain of what I have to tell."
He then related to his friends, word for word, all that had
passed between him and his host, and how the man who had abducted
the wife of his worthy landlord was the same with whom he had had
the difference at the hostelry of the Jolly Miller.
"Your affair is not bad," said Athos, after having tasted like a
connoisseur and indicated by a nod of his head that he thought
the wine good; "and one may draw fifty or sixty pistoles from
this good man. Then there only remains to ascertain whether
these fifty or sixty pistoles are worth the risk of four heads."
"But observe," cried d'Artagnan, "that there is a woman in the
affair--a woman carried off, a woman who is doubtless threatened,
tortured perhaps, and all because she is faithful to her
"Beware, d'Artagnan, beware," said Aramis. "You grow a little
too warm, in my opinion, about the fate of Madame Bonacieux.
Woman was created for our destruction, and it is from her we
inherit all our miseries."
At this speech of Aramis, the brow of Athos became clouded and he
bit his lips.
"It is not Madame Bonacieux about whom I am anxious," cried
d'Artagnan, "but the queen, whom the king abandons, whom the
cardinal persecutes, and who sees the heads of all her friends
fall, one after the other."
"Why does she love what we hate most in the world, the Spaniards
and the English?"
"Spain is her country," replied d'Artagnan; "and it is very
natural that she should love the Spanish, who are the children of
the same soil as herself. As to the second reproach, I have
heard it said that she does not love the English, but an
"Well, and by my faith," said Athos, "it must be acknowledged
that this Englishman is worthy of being loved. I never saw a man
with a nobler air than his."
"Without reckoning that he dresses as nobody else can," said
Porthos. "I was at the Louvre on the day when he scattered his
pearls; and, PARDIEU, I picked up two that I sold for ten
pistoles each. Do you know him, Aramis?"
"As well as you do, gentlemen; for I was among those who seized
him in the garden at Amiens, into which Monsieur Putange, the
queen's equerry, introduced me. I was at school at the time, and
the adventure appeared to me to be cruel for the king."
"Which would not prevent me," said d'Artagnan, "if I knew where
the Duke of Buckingham was, from taking him by the hand and
conducting him to the queen, were it only to enrage the cardinal,
and if we could find means to play him a sharp turn, I vow that I
would voluntarily risk my head in doing it."
"And did the mercer*," rejoined Athos, "tell you, d'Artagnan,
that the queen thought that Buckingham had been brought over by a
"She is afraid so."
"Wait a minute, then," said Aramis.
"What for?" demanded Porthos.
"Go on, while I endeavor to recall circumstances."
"And now I am convinced," said d'Artagnan, "that this abduction
of the queen's woman is connected with the events of which we are
speaking, and perhaps with the presence of Buckingham in Paris."
"The Gascon is full of ideas," said Porthos, with admiration.
"I like to hear him talk," said Athos; "his dialect amuses me."
"Gentlemen," cried Aramis, "listen to this."
"Listen to Aramis," said his three friends.
"Yesterday I was at the house of a doctor of theology, whom I
sometimes consult about my studies."
"He resides in a quiet quarter," continued Aramis; "his tastes
and his profession require it. Now, at the moment when I left
Here Aramis paused.
"Well," cried his auditors; "at the moment you left his house?"
Aramis appeared to make a strong inward effort, like a man who,
in the full relation of a falsehood, finds himself stopped by
some unforeseen obstacle; but the eyes of his three companions
were fixed upon him, their ears were wide open, and there were no
means of retreat.
"This doctor has a niece," continued Aramis.
"Ah, he has a niece!" interrupted Porthos.
"A very respectable lady," said Aramis.
The three friends burst into laughter.
"Ah, if you laugh, if you doubt me," replied Aramis, "you shall
"We believe like Mohammedans, and are as mute as tombstones,"
"I will continue, then," resumed Aramis. "This niece comes
sometimes to see her uncle; and by chance was there yesterday at
the same time that I was, and it was my duty to offer to conduct
her to her carriage."
"Ah! She has a carriage, then, this niece of the doctor?"
interrupted Porthos, one of whose faults was a great looseness of
tongue. "A nice acquaintance, my friend!"
"Porthos," replied Aramis, "I have had the occasion to observe to
you more than once that you are very indiscreet; and that is
injurious to you among the women."
"Gentlemen, gentlemen," cried d'Artagnan, who began to get a
glimpse of the result of the adventure, "the thing is serious.
Let us try not to jest, if we can. Go on Aramis, go on."
"All at once, a tall, dark gentleman--just like yours,
"The same, perhaps," said he.
"Possibly," continued Aramis, "came toward me, accompanied by
five or six men who followed about ten paces behind him; and in
the politest tone, 'Monsieur Duke,' said he to me, 'and you
madame,' continued he, addressing the lady on my arm--"
"The doctor's niece?"
"Hold your tongue, Porthos," said Athos; "you are insupportable."
"'--will you enter this carriage, and that without offering the
least resistance, without making the least noise?'"
"He took you for Buckingham!" cried d'Artagnan.
"I believe so," replied Aramis.
"But the lady?" asked Porthos.
"He took her for the queen!" said d'Artagnan.
"Just so," replied Aramis.
"The Gascon is the devil!" cried Athos; "nothing escapes him."
"The fact is," said Porthos, "Aramis is of the same height, and
something of the shape of the duke; but it nevertheless appears
to me that the dress of a Musketeer--"
"I wore an enormous cloak," said Aramis.
"In the month of July? The devil!" said Porthos. "Is the doctor
afraid that you may be recognized?"
"I can comprehend that the spy may have been deceived by the
person; but the face--"
"I had a large hat," said Aramis.
"Oh, good lord," cried Porthos, "what precautions for the study
"Gentlemen, gentlemen," said d'Artagnan, "do not let us lose our
time in jesting. Let us separate, and let us seek the mercer's
wife--that is the key of the intrigue."
"A woman of such inferior condition! Can you believe so?" said
Porthos, protruding his lips with contempt.
"She is goddaughter to Laporte, the confidential valet of the
queen. Have I not told you so, gentlemen? Besides, it has
perhaps been her Majesty's calculation to seek on this occasion
for support so lowly. High heads expose themselves from afar,
and the cardinal is longsighted."
"Well," said Porthos, "in the first place make a bargain with the
mercer, and a good bargain."
"That's useless," said d'Artagnan; "for I believe if he does not
pay us, we shall be well enough paid by another party."
At this moment a sudden noise of footsteps was heard upon the
stairs; the door was thrown violently open, and the unfortunate
mercer rushed into the chamber in which the council was held.
"Save me, gentlemen, for the love of heaven, save me!" cried he.
"There are four men come to arrest me. Save me! Save me!"
Porthos and Aramis arose.
"A moment," cried d'Artagnan, making them a sign to replace in
the scabbard their half-drawn swords. "It is not courage that is
needed; it is prudence."
"And yet," cried Porthos, "we will not leave--"
"You will leave d'Artagnan to act as he thinks proper," said
Athos. "He has, I repeat, the longest head of the four, and for
my part I declare that I will obey him. Do as you think best,
At this moment the four Guards appeared at the door of the
antechamber, but seeing four Musketeers standing, and their
swords by their sides, they hesitated about going farther.
"Come in, gentlemen, come in," called d'Artagnan; "you are here
in my apartment, and we are all faithful servants of the king and
"Then, gentlemen, you will not oppose our executing the orders we
have received?" asked one who appeared to be the leader of the
"On the contrary, gentlemen, we would assist you if it were
"What does he say?" grumbled Porthos.
"You are a simpleton," said Athos. "Silence!"
"But you promised me--" whispered the poor mercer.
"We can only save you by being free ourselves," replied
d'Artagnan, in a rapid, low tone; "and if we appear inclined to
defend you, they will arrest us with you."
"It seems, nevertheless--"
"Come, gentlemen, come!" said d'Artagnan, aloud; "I have no
motive for defending Monsieur. I saw him today for the first
time, and he can tell you on what occasion; he came to demand the
rent of my lodging. Is that not true, Monsieur Bonacieux?
"That is the very truth," cried the mercer; "but Monsieur does
not tell you--"
"Silence, with respect to me, silence, with respect to my
friends; silence about the queen, above all, or you will ruin
everybody without saving yourself! Come, come, gentlemen, remove
the fellow." And d'Artagnan pushed the half-stupefied mercer
among the Guards, saying to him, "You are a shabby old fellow, my
dear. You come to demand money of me--of a Musketeer! To prison
with him! Gentlemen, once more, take him to prison, and keep him
under key as long as possible; that will give me time to pay
The officers were full of thanks, and took away their prey. As
they were going down d'Artagnan laid his hand on the shoulder of
"May I not drink to your health, and you to mine?" said
d'Artagnan, filling two glasses with the Beaugency wine which he
had obtained from the liberality of M. Bonacieux.
"That will do me great honor," said the leader of the posse, "and
I accept thankfully."
"Then to yours, monsieur--what is your name?"
"To yours, my gentlemen! What is your name, in your turn, if you
"To yours, monsieur."
"And above all others," cried d'Artagnan, as if carried away by
his enthusiasm, "to that of the king and the cardinal."
The leader of the posse would perhaps have doubted the sincerity
of d'Artagnan if the wine had been bad; but the wine was good,
and he was convinced.
"What diabolical villainy you have performed here," said Porthos,
when the officer had rejoined his companions and the four friends
found themselves alone. "Shame, shame, for four Musketeers to
allow an unfortunate fellow who cried for help to be arrested in
their midst! And a gentleman to hobnob with a bailiff!"
"Porthos," said Aramis, "Athos has already told you that you are
a simpleton, and I am quite of his opinion. D'Artagnan, you are
a great man; and when you occupy Monsieur de Treville's place, I
will come and ask your influence to secure me an abbey."
"Well, I am in a maze," said Porthos; "do YOU approve of what
d'Artagnan has done?"
"PARBLEU! Indeed I do," said Athos; "I not only approve of what
he has done, but I congratulate him upon it."
"And now, gentlemen," said d'Artagnan, without stopping to
explain his conduct to Porthos, "All for one, one for all--that
is our motto, is it not?"
"And yet--" said Porthos.
"Hold out your hand and swear!" cried Athos and Aramis at once.
Overcome by example, grumbling to himself, nevertheless, Porthos
stretched out his hand, and the four friends repeated with one
voice the formula dictated by d'Artagnan:
"All for one, one for all."
"That's well! Now let us everyone retire to his own home," said
d'Artagnan, as if he had done nothing but command all his life;
"and attention! For from this moment we are at feud with the
10 A MOUSETRAP IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY
The invention of the mousetrap does not date from our days; as
soon as societies, in forming, had invented any kind of police,
that police invented mousetraps.
As perhaps our readers are not familiar with the slang of the Rue
de Jerusalem, and as it is fifteen years since we applied this
word for the first time to this thing, allow us to explain to
them what is a mousetrap.
When in a house, of whatever kind it may be, an individual
suspected of any crime is arrested, the arrest is held secret.
Four or five men are placed in ambuscade in the first room. The
door is opened to all who knock. It is closed after them, and
they are arrested; so that at the end of two or three days they
have in their power almost all the HABITUES of the establishment.
And that is a mousetrap.
The apartment of M. Bonacieux, then, became a mousetrap; and
whoever appeared there was taken and interrogated by the
cardinal's people. It must be observed that as a separate
passage led to the first floor, in which d'Artagnan lodged, those
who called on him were exempted from this detention.
Besides, nobody came thither but the three Musketeers; they had
all been engaged in earnest search and inquiries, but had
discovered nothing. Athos had even gone so far as to question M.
de Treville--a thing which, considering the habitual reticence of
the worthy Musketeer, had very much astonished his captain. But
M. de Treville knew nothing, except that the last time he had
seen the cardinal, the king, and the queen, the cardinal looked
very thoughtful, the king uneasy, and the redness of the queen's
eyes donated that she had been sleepless or tearful. But this
last circumstance was not striking, as the queen since her
marriage had slept badly and wept much.
M. de Treville requested Athos, whatever might happen, to be
observant of his duty to the king, but particularly to the queen,
begging him to convey his desires to his comrades.
As to d'Artagnan, he did not budge from his apartment. He
converted his chamber into an observatory. From his windows he
saw all the visitors who were caught. Then, having removed a
plank from his floor, and nothing remaining but a simple ceiling
between him and the room beneath, in which the interrogatories
were made, he heard all that passed between the inquisitors and
The interrogatories, preceded by a minute search operated upon
the persons arrested, were almost always framed thus: "Has Madame
Bonacieux sent anything to you for her husband, or any other
person? Has Monsieur Bonacieux sent anything to you for his
wife, or for any other person? Has either of them confided
anything to you by word of mouth?"
"If they knew anything, they would not question people in this
manner," said d'Artagnan to himself. "Now, what is it they want
to know? Why, they want to know if the Duke of Buckingham is in
Paris, and if he has had, or is likely to have, an interview with
D'Artagnan held onto this idea, which, from what he had heard,
was not wanting in probability.
In the meantime, the mousetrap continued in operation, and
likewise d'Artagnan's vigilance.
On the evening of the day after the arrest of poor Bonacieux, as
Athos had just left d'Artagnan to report at M. de Treville's, as
nine o'clock had just struck, and as Planchet, who had not yet
made the bed, was beginning his task, a knocking was heard at the
street door. The door was instantly opened and shut; someone was
taken in the mousetrap.
D'Artagnan flew to his hole, laid himself down on the floor at
full length, and listened.
Cries were soon heard, and then moans, which someone appeared to
be endeavoring to stifle. There were no questions.
"The devil!" said d'Artagnan to himself. "It seems like a woman!
They search her; she resists; they use force--the scoundrels!"
In spite of his prudence, d'Artagnan restrained himself with
great difficulty from taking a part in the scene that was going
"But I tell you that I am the mistress of the house, gentlemen!
I tell you I am Madame Bonacieux; I tell you I belong to the
queen!" cried the unfortunate woman.
"Madame Bonacieux!" murmured d'Artagnan. "Can I be so lucky as
to find what everybody is seeking for?"
The voice became more and more indistinct; a tumultuous movement
shook the partition. The victim resisted as much as a woman
could resist four men.
"Pardon, gentlemen--par--" murmured the voice, which could now
only be heard in inarticulate sounds.
"They are binding her; they are going to drag her away," cried
d'Artagnan to himself, springing up from the floor. "My sword!
Good, it is by my side! Planchet!"
"Run and seek Athos, Porthos and Aramis. One of the three will
certainly be at home, perhaps all three. Tell them to take arms,
to come here, and to run! Ah, I remember, Athos is at Monsieur
"But where are you going, monsieur, where are you going?"
"I am going down by the window, in order to be there the sooner,"
cried d'Artagnan. "You put back the boards, sweep the floor, go
out at the door, and run as I told you."
"Oh, monsieur! Monsieur! You will kill yourself," cried
"Hold your tongue, stupid fellow," said d'Artagnan; and laying
hold of the casement, he let himself gently down from the first
story, which fortunately was not very elevated, without doing
himself the slightest injury.
He then went straight to the door and knocked, murmuring, "I will
go myself and be caught in the mousetrap, but woe be to the cats
that shall pounce upon such a mouse!"
The knocker had scarcely sounded under the hand of the young man
before the tumult ceased, steps approached, the door was opened,
and d'Artagnan, sword in hand, rushed into the rooms of M.
Bonacieux, the door of which doubtless acted upon by a spring,
closed after him.
Then those who dwelt in Bonacieux's unfortunate house, together
with the nearest neighbors, heard loud cries, stamping of feet,
clashing of swords, and breaking of furniture. A moment after,
those who, surprised by this tumult, had gone to their windows to
learn the cause of it, saw the door open, and four men, clothed
in black, not COME out of it, but FLY, like so many frightened
crows, leaving on the ground and on the corners of the furniture,
feathers from their wings; that is to say, patches of their
clothes and fragments of their cloaks.
D'Artagnan was conqueror--without much effort, it must be
confessed, for only one of the officers was armed, and even he
defended himself for form's sake. It is true that the three
others had endeavored to knock the young man down with chairs,
stools, and crockery; but two or three scratches made by the
Gascon's blade terrified them. Ten minutes sufficed for their
defeat, and d'Artagnan remained master of the field of battle.
The neighbors who had opened their windows, with the coolness
peculiar to the inhabitants of Paris in these times of perpetual
riots and disturbances, closed them again as soon as they saw the
four men in black flee--their instinct telling them that for the
time all was over. Besides, it began to grow late, and then, as
today, people went to bed early in the quarter of the Luxembourg.
On being left alone with Mme. Bonacieux, d'Artagnan turned toward
her; the poor woman reclined where she had been left,
half-fainting upon an armchair. D'Artagnan examined her with a
She was a charming woman of twenty-five or twenty-six years, with
dark hair, blue eyes, and a nose slightly turned up, admirable
teeth, and a complexion marbled with rose and opal. There,
however, ended the signs which might have confounded her with a
lady of rank. The hands were white, but without delicacy; the
feet did not bespeak the woman of quality. Happily, d'Artagnan
was not yet acquainted with such niceties.
While d'Artagnan was examining Mme. Bonacieux, and was, as we
have said, close to her, he saw on the ground a fine cambric
handkerchief, which he picked up, as was his habit, and at the
corner of which he recognized the same cipher he had seen on the
handkerchief which had nearly caused him and Aramis to cut each
From that time, d'Artagnan had been cautious with respect to
handkerchiefs with arms on them, and he therefore placed in the
pocket of Mme. Bonacieux the one he had just picked up.
At that moment Mme. Bonacieux recovered her senses. She opened
her eyes, looked around her with terror, saw that the apartment
was empty and that she was alone with her liberator. She
extended her hands to him with a smile. Mme. Bonacieux had the
sweetest smile in the world.
"Ah, monsieur!" said she, "you have saved me; permit me to thank
"Madame," said d'Artagnan, "I have only done what every gentleman
would have done in my place; you owe me no thanks."
"Oh, yes, monsieur, oh, yes; and I hope to prove to you that you
have not served an ingrate. But what could these men, whom I at
first took for robbers, want with me, and why is Monsieur
Bonacieux not here?"
"Madame, those men were more dangerous than any robbers could
have been, for they are the agents of the cardinal; and as to
your husband, Monsieur Bonacieux, he is not here because he was
yesterday evening conducted to the Bastille."
"My husband in the Bastille!" cried Mme. Bonacieux. "Oh, my God!
What has he done? Poor dear man, he is innocence itself!"
And something like a faint smile lighted the still-terrified
features of the young woman.
"What has he done, madame?" said d'Artagnan. "I believe that his
only crime is to have at the same time the good fortune and the
misfortune to be your husband."
"But, monsieur, you know then--"
"I know that you have been abducted, madame."
"And by whom? Do you know him? Oh, if you know him, tell me!"
"By a man of from forty to forty-five years, with black hair, a
dark complexion, and a scar on his left temple."
"That is he, that is he; but his name?"
"Ah, his name? I do not know that."
"And did my husband know I had been carried off?"
"He was informed of it by a letter, written to him by the
"And does he suspect," said Mme. Bonacieux, with some
embarrassment, "the cause of this event?"
"He attributed it, I believe, to a political cause."
"I doubted from the first; and now I think entirely as he does.
Then my dear Monsieur Bonacieux has not suspected me a single
"So far from it, madame, he was too proud of your prudence, and
above all, of your love."
A second smile, almost imperceptible, stole over the rosy lips of
the pretty young woman.
"But," continued d'Artagnan, "how did you escape?"
"I took advantage of a moment when they left me alone; and as I
had known since morning the reason of my abduction, with the help
of the sheets I let myself down from the window. Then, as I
believed my husband would be at home, I hastened hither."
"To place yourself under his protection?"
"Oh, no, poor dear man! I knew very well that he was incapable
of defending me; but as he could serve us in other ways, I wished
to inform him."
"Oh, that is not my secret; I must not, therefore, tell you."
"Besides," said d'Artagnan, "pardon me, madame, if, guardsman as
I am, I remind you of prudence--besides, I believe we are not
here in a very proper place for imparting confidences. The men I
have put to flight will return reinforced; if they find us here,
we are lost. I have sent for three of my friends, but who knows
whether they were at home?"
"Yes, yes! You are right," cried the affrighted Mme. Bonacieux;
"let us fly! Let us save ourselves."
At these words she passed her arm under that of d'Artagnan, and
urged him forward eagerly.
"But whither shall we fly--whither escape?"
"Let us first withdraw from this house; afterward we shall see."
The young woman and the young man, without taking the trouble to
shut the door after them, descended the Rue des Fossoyeurs
rapidly, turned into the Rue des Fosses-Monsieur-le-Prince, and
did not stop till they came to the Place St. Sulpice.
"And now what are we to do, and where do you wish me to conduct
you?" asked d'Artagnan.
"I am at quite a loss how to answer you, I admit," said Mme.
Bonacieux. "My intention was to inform Monsieur Laporte, through
my husband, in order that Monsieur Laporte might tell us
precisely what had taken place at the Louvre in the last three
days, and whether there is any danger in presenting myself
"But I," said d'Artagnan, "can go and inform Monsieur Laporte."
"No doubt you could, only there is one misfortune, and that is
that Monsieur Bonacieux is known at the Louvre, and would be
allowed to pass; whereas you are not known there, and the gate
would be closed against you."
"Ah, bah!" said d'Artagnan; "you have at some wicket of the
Louvre a CONCIERGE who is devoted to you, and who, thanks to a
Mme. Bonacieux looked earnestly at the young man.
"And if I give you this password," said she, "would you forget it
as soon as you used it?"
"By my honor, by the faith of a gentleman!" said d'Artagnan, with
an accent so truthful that no one could mistake it.
"Then I believe you. You appear to be a brave young man;
besides, your fortune may perhaps be the result of your
"I will do, without a promise and voluntarily, all that I can do
to serve the king and be agreeable to the queen. Dispose of me,
then, as a friend."
"But I--where shall I go meanwhile?"
"Is there nobody from whose house Monsieur Laporte can come and
"No, I can trust nobody."
"Stop," said d'Artagnan; "we are near Athos's door. Yes, here it
"Who is this Athos?"
"One of my friends."
"But if he should be at home and see me?"
"He is not at home, and I will carry away the key, after having
placed you in his apartment."
"But if he should return?"
"Oh, he won't return; and if he should, he will be told that I
have brought a woman with me, and that woman is in his
"But that will compromise me sadly, you know."
"Of what consequence? Nobody knows you. Besides, we are in a
situation to overlook ceremony."
"Come, then, let us go to your friend's house. Where does he
"Rue Ferou, two steps from here."
"Let us go!"
Both resumed their way. As d'Artagnan had foreseen, Athos was
not within. He took the key, which was customarily given him as
one of the family, ascended the stairs, and introduced Mme.
Bonacieux into the little apartment of which we have given a
"You are at home," said he. "Remain here, fasten the door
inside, and open it to nobody unless you hear three taps like
this;" and he tapped thrice--two taps close together and pretty
hard, the other after an interval, and lighter.
"That is well," said Mme. Bonacieux. "Now, in my turn, let me
give you my instructions."
"I am all attention."
"Present yourself at the wicket of the Louvre, on the side of the
Rue de l'Echelle, and ask for Germain."
"Well, and then?"
"He will ask you what you want, and you will answer by these two
words, 'Tours' and 'Bruxelles.' He will at once put himself at
"And what shall I command him?"
"To go and fetch Monsieur Laporte, the queen's VALET DE CHAMBRE."
"And when he shall have informed him, and Monsieur Laporte is
"You will send him to me."
"That is well; but where and how shall I see you again?"
"Do you wish to see me again?"
"Well, let that care be mine, and be at ease."
"I depend upon your word."
D'Artagnan bowed to Mme. Bonacieux, darting at her the most
loving glance that he could possibly concentrate upon her
charming little person; and while he descended the stairs, he
heard the door closed and double-locked. In two bounds he was at
the Louvre; as he entered the wicket of L'Echelle, ten o'clock
struck. All the events we have described had taken place within
a half hour.
Everything fell out as Mme. Bonacieux prophesied. On hearing the
password, Germain bowed. In a few minutes, Laporte was at the
lodge; in two words d'Artagnan informed him where Mme. Bonacieux
was. Laporte assured himself, by having it twice repeated, of
the accurate address, and set off at a run. Hardly, however, had
he taken ten steps before he returned.
"Young man," said he to d'Artagnan, "a suggestion."
"You may get into trouble by what has taken place."
"You believe so?"
"Yes. Have you any friend whose clock is too slow?"
"Go and call upon him, in order that he may give evidence of your
having been with him at half past nine. In a court of justice
that is called an alibi."
D'Artagnan found his advice prudent. He took to his heels, and
was soon at M. de Treville's; but instead of going into the
saloon with the rest of the crowd, he asked to be introduced to
M. de Treville's office. As d'Artagnan so constantly frequented
the hotel, no difficulty was made in complying with his request,
and a servant went to inform M. de Treville that his young
compatriot, having something important to communicate, solicited a
private audience. Five minutes after, M. de Treville was asking
d'Artagnan what he could do to serve him, and what caused his
visit at so late an hour.
"Pardon me, monsieur," said d'Artagnan, who had profited by the
moment he had been left alone to put back M. de Treville's clock
three-quarters of an hour, "but I thought, as it was yet only
twenty-five minutes past nine, it was not too late to wait upon
"Twenty-five minutes past nine!" cried M. de Treville, looking at
the clock; "why, that's impossible!"
"Look, rather, monsieur," said d'Artagnan, "the clock shows it."
"That's true," said M. de Treville; "I believed it later. But
what can I do for you?"
Then d'Artagnan told M. de Treville a long history about the
queen. He expressed to him the fears he entertained with respect
to her Majesty; he related to him what he had heard of the
projects of the cardinal with regard to Buckingham, and all with
a tranquillity and candor of which M. de Treville was the more
the dupe, from having himself, as we have said, observed
something fresh between the cardinal, the king, and the queen.
As ten o'clock was striking, d'Artagnan left M. de Treville, who
thanked him for his information, recommended him to have the
service of the king and queen always at heart, and returned to
the saloon; but at the foot of the stairs, d'Artagnan remembered
he had forgotten his cane. He consequently sprang up again,
re-entered the office, with a turn of his finger set the clock
right again, that it might not be perceived the next day that it
had been put wrong, and certain from that time that he had a
witness to prove his alibi, he ran downstairs and soon found
himself in the street.
11 IN WHICH THE PLOT THICKENS
His visit to M. de Treville being paid, the pensive d'Artagnan
took the longest way homeward.
On what was d'Artagnan thinking, that he strayed thus from his
path, gazing at the stars of heaven, and sometimes sighing,
He was thinking of Mme. Bonacieux. For an apprentice Musketeer
the young woman was almost an ideal of love. Pretty, mysterious,
initiated in almost all the secrets of the court, which reflected
such a charming gravity over her pleasing features, it might be
surmised that she was not wholly unmoved; and this is an
irresistible charm to novices in love. Moreover, d'Artagnan had
delivered her from the hands of the demons who wished to search
and ill treat her; and this important service had established
between them one of those sentiments of gratitude which so easily
assume a more tender character.
D'Artagnan already fancied himself, so rapid is the flight of our
dreams upon the wings of imagination, accosted by a messenger
from the young woman, who brought him some billet appointing a
meeting, a gold chain, or a diamond. We have observed that young
cavaliers received presents from their king without shame. Let
us add that in these times of lax morality they had no more
delicacy with respect to the mistresses; and that the latter
almost always left them valuable and durable remembrances, as if
they essayed to conquer the fragility of their sentiments by the
solidity of their gifts.
Without a blush, men made their way in the world by the means of
women blushing. Such as were only beautiful gave their beauty,
whence, without doubt, comes the proverb, "The most beautiful
girl in the world can only give what she has." Such as were rich
gave in addition a part of their money; and a vast number of
heroes of that gallant period may be cited who would neither have
won their spurs in the first place, nor their battles afterward,
without the purse, more or less furnished, which their mistress
fastened to the saddle bow.
D'Artagnan owned nothing. Provincial diffidence, that slight
varnish, the ephemeral flower, that down of the peach, had
evaporated to the winds through the little orthodox counsels
which the three Musketeers gave their friend. D'Artagnan,
following the strange custom of the times, considered himself at
Paris as on a campaign, neither more nor less than if he had been
in Flanders--Spain yonder, woman here. In each there was an
enemy to contend with, and contributions to be levied.
But, we must say, at the present moment d'Artagnan was ruled by
a feeling much more noble and disinterested. The mercer had
said that he was rich; the young man might easily guess that
with so weak a man as M. Bonacieux; and interest was almost
foreign to this commencement of love, which had been the
consequence of it. We say ALMOST, for the idea that a young,
handsome, kind, and witty woman is at the same time rich takes
nothing from the beginning of love, but on the contrary
There are in affluence a crowd of aristocratic cares and caprices
which are highly becoming to beauty. A fine and white stocking,
a silken robe, a lace kerchief, a pretty slipper on the foot, a
tasty ribbon on the head do not make an ugly woman pretty, but
they make a pretty woman beautiful, without reckoning the hands,
which gain by all this; the hands, among women particularly, to
be beautiful must be idle.
Then d'Artagnan, as the reader, from whom we have not concealed
the state of his fortune, very well knows--d'Artagnan was not a
millionaire; he hoped to become one someday, but the time which
in his own mind he fixed upon for this happy change was still far
distant. In the meanwhile, how disheartening to see the woman
one loves long for those thousands of nothings which constitute a
woman's happiness, and be unable to give her those thousands of
nothings. At least, when the woman is rich and the lover is not,
that which he cannot offer she offers to herself; and although it
is generally with her husband's money that she procures herself
this indulgence, the gratitude for it seldom reverts to him.
Then d'Artagnan, disposed to become the most tender of lovers,
was at the same time a very devoted friend, In the midst of his
amorous projects for the mercer's wife, he did not forget his
friends. The pretty Mme. Bonacieux was just the woman to walk
with in the Plain St. Denis or in the fair of St. Germain, in
company with Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, to whom d'Artagnan had
often remarked this. Then one could enjoy charming little
dinners, where one touches on one side the hand of a friend, and
on the other the foot of a mistress. Besides, on pressing
occasions, in extreme difficulties, d'Artagnan would become the
preserver of his friends.
And M. Bonacieux? whom d'Artagnan had pushed into the hands of
the officers, denying him aloud although he had promised in a
whisper to save him. We are compelled to admit to our readers
that d'Artagnan thought nothing about him in any way; or that if
he did think of him, it was only to say to himself that he was
very well where he was, wherever it might be. Love is the most
selfish of all the passions.
Let our readers reassure themselves. IF d'Artagnan forgets his
host, or appears to forget him, under the pretense of not knowing
where he has been carried, we will not forget him, and we know
where he is. But for the moment, let us do as did the amorous
Gascon; we will see after the worthy mercer later.
D'Artagnan, reflecting on his future amours, addressing himself
to the beautiful night, and smiling at the stars, ascended the
Rue Cherish-Midi, or Chase-Midi, as it was then called. As he
found himself in the quarter in which Aramis lived, he took it
into his head to pay his friend a visit in order to explain the
motives which had led him to send Planchet with a request that he
would come instantly to the mousetrap. Now, if Aramis had been
at home when Planchet came to his abode, he had doubtless
hastened to the Rue des Fossoyeurs, and finding nobody there but
his other two companions perhaps, they would not be able to
conceive what all this meant. This mystery required an
explanation; at least, so d'Artagnan declared to himself.
He likewise thought this was an opportunity for talking about
pretty little Mme. Bonacieux, of whom his head, if not his heart,
was already full. We must never look for discretion in first
love. First love is accompanied by such excessive joy that
unless the joy be allowed to overflow, it will stifle you.
Paris for two hours past had been dark, and seemed a desert.
Eleven o'clock sounded from all the clocks of the Faubourg St.
Germain. It was delightful weather. D'Artagnan was passing
along a lane on the spot where the Rue d'Assas is now situated,
breathing the balmy emanations which were borne upon the wind
from the Rue de Vaugirard, and which arose from the gardens
refreshed by the dews of evening and the breeze of night. From a
distance resounded, deadened, however, by good shutters, the
songs of the tipplers, enjoying themselves in the cabarets
scattered along the plain. Arrived at the end of the lane,
d'Artagnan turned to the left. The house in which Aramis dwelt
was situated between the Rue Cassette and the Rue Servandoni.
D'Artagnan had just passed the Rue Cassette, and already
perceived the door of his friend's house, shaded by a mass of
sycamores and clematis which formed a vast arch opposite the
front of it, when he perceived something like a shadow issuing
from the Rue Servandoni. This something was enveloped in a
cloak, and d'Artagnan at first believed it was a man; but by the
smallness of the form, the hesitation of the walk, and the
indecision of the step, he soon discovered that it was a woman.
Further, this woman, as if not certain of the house she was
seeking, lifted up her eyes to look around her, stopped, went
backward, and then returned again. D'Artagnan was perplexed.
"Shall I go and offer her my services?" thought he. "By her step
she must be young; perhaps she is pretty. Oh, yes! But a woman
who wanders in the streets at this hour only ventures out to meet
her lover. If I should disturb a rendezvous, that would not be
the best means of commencing an acquaintance."
Meantime the young woman continued to advance, counting the
houses and windows. This was neither long nor difficult. There
were but three hotels in this part of the street; and only two
windows looking toward the road, one of which was in a pavilion
parallel to that which Aramis occupied, the other belonging to
"PARIDIEU!" said d'Artagnan to himself, to whose mind the niece
of the theologian reverted, "PARDIEU, it would be droll if this
belated dove should be in search of our friend's house. But on
my soul, it looks so. Ah, my dear Aramis, this time I shall find
you out." And d'Artagnan, making himself as small as he could,
concealed himself in the darkest side of the street near a stone
bench placed at the back of a niche.
The young woman continued to advance; and in addition to the
lightness of her step, which had betrayed her, she emitted a
little cough which denoted a sweet voice. D'Artagnan believed
this cough to be a signal.
Nevertheless, whether the cough had been answered by a similar
signal which had fixed the irresolution of the nocturnal seeker,
or whether without this aid she saw that she had arrived at the
end of her journey, she resolutely drew near to Aramis's shutter,
and tapped, at three equal intervals, with her bent finger.
"This is all very fine, dear Aramis," murmured d'Artagnan.
"Ah, Monsieur Hypocrite, I understand how you study theology."
The three blows were scarcely struck, when the inside blind was
opened and a light appeared through the panes of the outside
"Ah, ah!" said the listener, "not through doors, but through
windows! Ah, this visit was expected. We shall see the windows
open, and the lady enter by escalade. Very pretty!"
But to the great astonishment of d'Artagnan, the shutter remained
closed. Still more, the light which had shone for an instant
disappeared, and all was again in obscurity.
D'Artagnan thought this could not last long, and continued to
look with all his eyes and listen with all his ears.
He was right; at the end of some seconds two sharp taps were
heard inside. The young woman in the street replied by a single
tap, and the shutter was opened a little way.
It may be judged whether d'Artagnan looked or listened with
avidity. Unfortunately the light had been removed into another
chamber; but the eyes of the young man were accustomed to the
night. Besides, the eyes of the Gascons have, as it is asserted,
like those of cats, the faculty of seeing in the dark.
D'Artagnan then saw that the young woman took from her pocket a
white object, which she unfolded quickly, and which took the form
of a handkerchief. She made her interlocutor observe the corner
of this unfolded object.
This immediately recalled to d'Artagnan's mind the handkerchief
which he had found at the feet of Mme. Bonacieux, which had
reminded him of that which he had dragged from under the feet of
"What the devil could that handkerchief signify?"
Placed where he was, d'Artagnan could not perceive the face of
Aramis. We say Aramis, because the young man entertained no
doubt that it was his friend who held this dialogue from the
interior with the lady of the exterior. Curiosity prevailed over
prudence; and profiting by the preoccupation into which the sight
of the handkerchief appeared to have plunged the two personages
now on the scene, he stole from his hiding place, and quick as
lightning, but stepping with utmost caution, he ran and placed
himself close to the angle of the wall, from which his eye could
pierce the interior of Aramis's room.
Upon gaining this advantage d'Artagnan was near uttering a cry of
surprise; it was not Aramis who was conversing with the nocturnal
visitor, it was a woman! D'Artagnan, however, could only see
enough to recognize the form of her vestments, not enough to
distinguish her features.
At the same instant the woman inside drew a second handkerchief
from her pocket, and exchanged it for that which had just been
shown to her. Then some words were spoken by the two women. At
length the shutter closed. The woman who was outside the window
turned round, and passed within four steps of d'Artagnan, pulling
down the hood of her mantle; but the precaution was too late,
d'Artagnan had already recognized Mme. Bonacieux.
Mme. Bonacieux! The suspicion that it was she had crossed the
mind of d'Artagnan when she drew the handkerchief from her
pocket; but what probability was there that Mme. Bonacieux, who
had sent for M. Laporte in order to be reconducted to the Louvre,
should be running about the streets of Paris at half past eleven
at night, at the risk of being abducted a second time?
This must be, then, an affair of importance; and what is the most
important affair to a woman of twenty-five! Love.
But was it on her own account, or on account of another, that she
exposed herself to such hazards? This was a question the young
man asked himself, whom the demon of jealousy already gnawed,
being in heart neither more nor less than an accepted lover.
There was a very simple means of satisfying himself whither Mme.
Bonacieux was going; that was to follow her. This method was so
simple that d'Artagnan employed it quite naturally and
But at the sight of the young man, who detached himself from the
wall like a statue walking from its niche, and at the noise of
the steps which she heard resound behind her, Mme. Bonacieux
uttered a little cry and fled.
D'Artagnan ran after her. It was not difficult for him to
overtake a woman embarrassed with her cloak. He came up with her
before she had traversed a third of the street. The unfortunate
woman was exhausted, not by fatigue, but by terror, and when
d'Artagnan placed his hand upon her shoulder, she sank upon one
knee, crying in a choking voice, "Kill me, if you please, you
shall know nothing!"
D'Artagnan raised her by passing his arm round her waist; but as
he felt by her weight she was on the point of fainting, he made
haste to reassure her by protestations of devotedness. These
protestations were nothing for Mme. Bonacieux, for such
protestations may be made with the worst intentions in the world;
but the voice was all. Mme. Bonacieux thought she recognized the
sound of that voice; she reopened her eyes, cast a quick glance
upon the man who had terrified her so, and at once perceiving it
was d'Artagnan, she uttered a cry of joy, "Oh, it is you, it is
you! Thank God, thank God!"
"Yes, it is I," said d'Artagnan, "it is I, whom God has sent to
watch over you."
"Was it with that intention you followed me?" asked the young
woman, with a coquettish smile, whose somewhat bantering
character resumed its influence, and with whom all fear had
disappeared from the moment in which she recognized a friend in
one she had taken for an enemy.
"No," said d'Artagnan; "no, I confess it. It was chance that
threw me in your way; I saw a woman knocking at the window of one
of my friends."
"One of your friends?" interrupted Mme. Bonacieux.
"Without doubt; Aramis is one of my best friends."
"Aramis! Who is he?"
"Come, come, you won't tell me you don't know Aramis?"
"This is the first time I ever heard his name pronounced."
"It is the first time, then, that you ever went to that house?"
"And you did not know that it was inhabited by a young man?"
"By a Musketeer?"
"It was not he, then, you came to seek?"
"Not the least in the world. Besides, you must have seen that
the person to whom I spoke was a woman."
"That is true; but this woman is a friend of Aramis--"
"I know nothing of that."
"--since she lodges with him."
"That does not concern me."
"But who is she?"
"Oh, that is not my secret."
"My dear Madame Bonacieux, you are charming; but at the same time
you are one of the most mysterious women."
"Do I lose by that?"
"No; you are, on the contrary, adorable."
"Give me your arm, then."
"Most willingly. And now?"
"Now escort me."
"Where I am going."
"But where are you going?"
"You will see, because you will leave me at the door."
"Shall I wait for you?"
"That will be useless."
"You will return alone, then?"
"Perhaps yes, perhaps no."
"But will the person who shall accompany you afterward be a man
or a woman?"
"I don't know yet."
"But I will know it!"
"I will wait until you come out."
"In that case, adieu."
"I do not want you."
"But you have claimed--"
"The aid of a gentleman, not the watchfulness of a spy."
"The word is rather hard."
"How are they called who follow others in spite of them?"
"They are indiscreet."
"The word is too mild."
"Well, madame, I perceive I must do as you wish."
"Why did you deprive yourself of the merit of doing so at once?"
"Is there no merit in repentance?"
"And do you really repent?"
"I know nothing about it myself. But what I know is that I
promise to do all you wish if you allow me to accompany you where
you are going."
"And you will leave me then?"
"Without waiting for my coming out again?"
"Word of honor?"
"By the faith of a gentleman. Take my arm, and let us go."
D'Artagnan offered his arm to Mme. Bonacieux, who willingly took
it, half laughing, half trembling, and both gained the top of Rue
de la Harpe. Arriving there, the young woman seemed to hesitate,
as she had before done in the Rue Vaugirard. She seemed,
however, by certain signs, to recognize a door, and approaching
that door, "And now, monsieur," said she, "it is here I have
business; a thousand thanks for your honorable company, which has
saved me from all the dangers to which, alone I was exposed. But
the moment is come to keep your word; I have reached my
"And you will have nothing to fear on your return?"
"I shall have nothing to fear but robbers."
"And that is nothing?"
"What could they take from me? I have not a penny about me."
"You forget that beautiful handkerchief with the coat of arms."
"That which I found at your feet, and replaced in your pocket."
"Hold your tongue, imprudent man! Do you wish to destroy me?"
"You see very plainly that there is still danger for you, since a
single word makes you tremble; and you confess that if that word
were heard you would be ruined. Come, come, madame!" cried
d'Artagnan, seizing her hands, and surveying her with an ardent
glance, "come, be more generous. Confide in me. Have you not
read in my eyes that there is nothing but devotion and sympathy
in my heart?"
"Yes," replied Mme. Bonacieux; "therefore, ask my own secrets,
and I will reveal them to you; but those of others--that is quite
"Very well," said d'Artagnan, "I shall discover them; as these
secrets may have an influence over your life, these secrets must
"Beware of what you do!" cried the young woman, in a manner so
serious as to make d'Artagnan start in spite of himself. "Oh,
meddle in nothing which concerns me. Do not seek to assist me in
that which I am accomplishing. This I ask of you in the name of
the interest with which I inspire you, in the name of the service
you have rendered me and which I never shall forget while I have
life. Rather, place faith in what I tell you. Have no more
concern about me; I exist no longer for you, any more than if you
had never seen me."
"Must Aramis do as much as I, madame?" said d'Artagnan, deeply
"This is the second or third time, monsieur, that you have
repeated that name, and yet I have told you that I do not know
"You do not know the man at whose shutter you have just knocked?
Indeed, madame, you believe me too credulous!"
"Confess that it is for the sake of making me talk that you
invent this story and create this personage."
"I invent nothing, madame; I create nothing. I only speak that
"And you say that one of your friends lives in that house?"
"I say so, and I repeat it for the third time; that house is one
inhabited by my friend, and that friend is Aramis."
"All this will be cleared up at a later period," murmured the
young woman; "no, monsieur, be silent."
"If you could see my heart," said d'Artagnan, "you would there
read so much curiosity that you would pity me and so much love
that you would instantly satisfy my curiosity. We have nothing
to fear from those who love us."
"You speak very suddenly of love, monsieur," said the young
woman, shaking her head.
"That is because love has come suddenly upon me, and for the
first time; and because I am only twenty."
The young woman looked at him furtively.
"Listen; I am already upon the scent," resumed d'Artagnan.
"About three months ago I was near having a duel with Aramis
concerning a handkerchief resembling the one you showed to the
woman in his house--for a handkerchief marked in the same manner,
I am sure."
"Monsieur," said the young woman, "you weary me very much, I
assure you, with your questions."
"But you, madame, prudent as you are, think, if you were to be
arrested with that handkerchief, and that handkerchief were to be
seized, would you not be compromised?"
"In what way? The initials are only mine--C. B., Constance
"Or Camille de Bois-Tracy."
"Silence, monsieur! Once again, silence! Ah, since the dangers
I incur on my own account cannot stop you, think of those you may
"Yes; there is peril of imprisonment, risk of life in knowing
"Then I will not leave you."
"Monsieur!" said the young woman, supplicating him and clasping
her hands together, "monsieur, in the name of heaven, by the
honor of a soldier, by the courtesy of a gentleman, depart!
There, there midnight sounds! That is the hour when I am
"Madame," said the young man, bowing; "I can refuse nothing asked
of me thus. Be content; I will depart."
"But you will not follow me; you will not watch me?"
"I will return home instantly."
"Ah, I was quite sure you were a good and brave young man," said
Mme. Bonacieux, holding out her hand to him, and placing the
other upon the knocker of a little door almost hidden in the
D'Artagnan seized the hand held out to him, and kissed it
"Ah! I wish I had never seen you!" cried d'Artagnan, with that
ingenuous roughness which women often prefer to the affectations
of politeness, because it betrays the depths of the thought and
proves that feeling prevails over reason.
"Well!" resumed Mme. Bonacieux, in a voice almost caressing, and
pressing the hand of d'Artagnan, who had not relinquished hers,
"well: I will not say as much as you do; what is lost for today
may not be lost forever. Who knows, when I shall be at liberty,
that I may not satisfy your curiosity?"
"And will you make the same promise to my love?" cried
d'Artagnan, beside himself with joy.
"Oh, as to that, I do not engage myself. That depends upon the
sentiments with which you may inspire me."
"Then today, madame--"
"Oh, today, I am no further than gratitude."
"Ah! You are too charming," said d'Artagnan, sorrowfully; "and
you abuse my love."
"No, I use your generosity, that's all. But be of good cheer;
with certain people, everything comes round."
"Oh, you render me the happiest of men! Do not forget this
evening--do not forget that promise."
"Be satisfied. In the proper time and place I will remember
everything. Now then, go, go, in the name of heaven! I was
expected at sharp midnight, and I am late."
"By five minutes."
"Yes; but in certain circumstances five minutes are five ages."
"When one loves."
"Well! And who told you I had no affair with a lover?"
"It is a man, then, who expects you?" cried d'Artagnan. "A man!"
"The discussion is going to begin again!" said Mme. Bonacieux,
with a half-smile which was not exempt from a tinge of
"No, no; I go, I depart! I believe in you, and I would have all
the merit of my devotion, even if that devotion were stupidity.
Adieu, madame, adieu!"
And as if he only felt strength to detach himself by a violent
effort from the hand he held, he sprang away, running, while Mme.
Bonacieux knocked, as at the shutter, three light and regular
taps. When he had gained the angle of the street, he turned.
The door had been opened, and shut again; the mercer's pretty
wife had disappeared.
D'Artagnan pursued his way. He had given his word not to watch
Mme. Bonacieux, and if his life had depended upon the spot to
which she was going or upon the person who should accompany her,
d'Artagnan would have returned home, since he had so promised.
Five minutes later he was in the Rue des Fossoyeurs.
"Poor Athos!" said he; "he will never guess what all this means.
He will have fallen asleep waiting for me, or else he will have
returned home, where he will have learned that a woman had been
there. A woman with Athos! After all," continued d'Artagnan,
"there was certainly one with Aramis. All this is very strange;
and I am curious to know how it will end."
"Badly, monsieur, badly!" replied a voice which the young man
recognized as that of Planchet; for, soliloquizing aloud, as very
preoccupied people do, he had entered the alley, at the end of
which were the stairs which led to his chamber.
"How badly? What do you mean by that, you idiot?" asked
d'Artagnan. "What has happened?"
"All sorts of misfortunes."
"In the first place, Monsieur Athos is arrested."
"Arrested! Athos arrested! What for?"
"He was found in your lodging; they took him for you."
"And by whom was he arrested?"
"By Guards brought by the men in black whom you put to flight."
"Why did he not tell them his name? Why did he not tell them he
knew nothing about this affair?"
"He took care not to do so, monsieur; on the contrary, he came up
to me and said, 'It is your master that needs his liberty at this