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The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas [Pere]

Part 5 out of 17

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Paris, you, of course, did not lose sight of him?"

"No, sire."

"Where did he lodge?"

"Rue de la Harpe. No. 75."

"Where is that?"

"By the side of the Luxembourg."

"And you are certain that the queen and he did not see each

"I believe the queen to have too high a sense of her duty, sire."

"But they have corresponded; it is to him that the queen has been
writing all the day. Monsieur Duke, I must have those letters!"

"Sire, notwithstanding--"

"Monsieur Duke, at whatever price it may be, I will have them."

"I would, however, beg your Majesty to observe--"

"Do you, then, also join in betraying me, Monsieur Cardinal, by
thus always opposing my will? Are you also in accord with Spain
and England, with Madame de Chevreuse and the queen?"

"Sire," replied the cardinal, sighing, "I believed myself secure
from such a suspicion."

"Monsieur Cardinal, you have heard me; I will have those

"There is but one way."

"What is that?"

"That would be to charge Monsieur de Seguier, the keeper of the
seals, with this mission. The matter enters completely into the
duties of the post."

"Let him be sent for instantly."

"He is most likely at my hotel. I requested him to call, and
when I came to the Louvre I left orders if he came, to desire him
to wait."

"Let him be sent for instantly."

"Your Majesty's orders shall be executed; but--"

"But what?"

"But the queen will perhaps refuse to obey."

"My orders?"

"Yes, if she is ignorant that these orders come from the king."

"Well, that she may have no doubt on that head, I will go and
inform her myself."

"Your Majesty will not forget that I have done everything in my
power to prevent a rupture."

"Yes, Duke, yes, I know you are very indulgent toward the queen,
too indulgent, perhaps; we shall have occasion, I warn you, at
some future period to speak of that."

"Whenever it shall please your Majesty; but I shall be always
happy and proud, sire, to sacrifice myself to the harmony which I
desire to see reign between you and the Queen of France."

"Very well, Cardinal, very well; but, meantime, send for Monsieur
the Keeper of the Seals. I will go to the queen."

And Louis XIII, opening the door of communication, passed into
the corridor which led from his apartments to those of Anne of

The queen was in the midst of her women--Mme. de Guitaut, Mme. de
Sable, Mme. de Montbazon, and Mme. de Guemene. In a corner was
the Spanish companion, Donna Estafania, who had followed her from
Madrid. Mme. Guemene was reading aloud, and everybody was
listening to her with attention with the exception of the queen,
who had, on the contrary, desired this reading in order that she
might be able, while feigning to listen, to pursue the thread of
her own thoughts.

These thoughts, gilded as they were by a last reflection of love,
were not the less sad. Anne of Austria, deprived of the
confidence of her husband, pursued by the hatred of the cardinal,
who could not pardon her for having repulsed a more tender
feeling, having before her eyes the example of the queen-mother
whom that hatred had tormented all her life--though Marie de
Medicis, if the memoirs of the time are to be believed, had begun
by according to the cardinal that sentiment which Anne of Austria
always refused him--Anne of Austria had seen her most devoted
servants fall around her, her most intimate confidants, her
dearest favorites. Like those unfortunate persons endowed with a
fatal gift, she brought misfortune upon everything she touched.
Her friendship was a fatal sign which called down persecution.
Mme. de Chevreuse and Mme. de Bernet were exiled, and Laporte did
not conceal from his mistress that he expected to be arrested
every instant.

It was at the moment when she was plunged in the deepest and
darkest of these reflections that the door of the chamber opened,
and the king entered.

The reader hushed herself instantly. All the ladies rose, and
there was a profound silence. As to the king, he made no
demonstration of politeness, only stopping before the queen.
"Madame," said he, "you are about to receive a visit from the
chancellor, who will communicate certain matters to you with
which I have charged him."

The unfortunate queen, who was constantly threatened with
divorce, exile, and trial even, turned pale under her rouge, and
could not refrain from saying, "But why this visit, sire? What
can the chancellor have to say to me that your Majesty could not
say yourself?"

The king turned upon his heel without reply, and almost at the
same instant the captain of the Guards, M. de Guitant, announced
the visit of the chancellor.

When the chancellor appeared, the king had already gone out by
another door.

The chancellor entered, half smiling, half blushing. As we shall
probably meet with him again in the course of our history, it may
be well for our readers to be made at once acquainted with him.

This chancellor was a pleasant man. He was Des Roches le Masle,
canon of Notre Dame, who had formerly been valet of a bishop, who
introduced him to his Eminence as a perfectly devout man. The
cardinal trusted him, and therein found his advantage.

There are many stories related of him, and among them this.
After a wild youth, he had retired into a convent, there to
expiate, at least for some time, the follies of adolescence. On
entering this holy place, the poor penitent was unable to shut
the door so close as to prevent the passions he fled from
entering with him. He was incessantly attacked by them, and the
superior, to whom he had confided this misfortune, wishing as
much as in him lay to free him from them, had advised him, in
order to conjure away the tempting demon, to have recourse to the
bell rope, and ring with all his might. At the denunciating
sound, the monks would be rendered aware that temptation was
besieging a brother, and all the community would go to prayers.

This advice appeared good to the future chancellor. He conjured
the evil spirit with abundance of prayers offered up by the
monks. But the devil does not suffer himself to be easily
dispossessed from a place in which he has fixed his garrison. In
proportion as they redoubled the exorcisms he redoubled the
temptations; so that day and night the bell was ringing full
swing, announcing the extreme desire for mortification which the
penitent experienced.

The monks had no longer an instant of repose. By day they did
nothing but ascend and descend the steps which led to the chapel;
at night, in addition to complines and matins, they were further
obliged to leap twenty times out of their beds and prostrate
themselves on the floor of their cells.

It is not known whether it was the devil who gave way, or the
monks who grew tired; but within three months the penitent
reappeared in the world with the reputation of being the most
terrible POSSESSED that ever existed.

On leaving the convent he entered into the magistracy, became
president on the place of his uncle, embraced the cardinal's
party, which did not prove want of sagacity, became chancellor,
served his Eminence with zeal in his hatred against the queen-
mother and his vengeance against Anne of Austria, stimulated the
judges in the affair of Calais, encouraged the attempts of M. de
Laffemas, chief gamekeeper of France; then, at length, invested
with the entire confidence of the cardinal--a confidence which he
had so well earned--he received the singular commission for the
execution of which he presented himself in the queen's

The queen was still standing when he entered; but scarcely had
she perceived him then she reseated herself in her armchair, and
made a sign to her women to resume their cushions and stools, and
with an air of supreme hauteur, said, "What do you desire,
monsieur, and with what object do you present yourself here?"

"To make, madame, in the name of the king, and without prejudice
to the respect which I have the honor to owe to your Majesty a
close examination into all your papers."

"How, monsieur, an investigation of my papers--mine! Truly, this
is an indignity!"

"Be kind enough to pardon me, madame; but in this circumstance I
am but the instrument which the king employs. Has not his
Majesty just left you, and has he not himself asked you to
prepare for this visit?"

"Search, then, monsieur! I am a criminal, as it appears.
Estafania, give up the keys of my drawers and my desks."

For form's sake the chancellor paid a visit to the pieces of
furniture named; but he well knew that it was not in a piece of
furniture that the queen would place the important letter she had
written that day.

When the chancellor had opened and shut twenty times the drawers
of the secretaries, it became necessary, whatever hesitation he
might experience--it became necessary, I say, to come to the
conclusion of the affair; that is to say, to search the queen
herself. The chancellor advanced, therefore, toward Anne of
Austria, and said with a very perplexed and embarrassed air, "And
now it remains for me to make the principal examination."

"What is that?" asked the queen, who did not understand, or
rather was not willing to understand.

"His majesty is certain that a letter has been written by you
during the day; he knows that it has not yet been sent to its
address. This letter is not in your table nor in your secretary;
and yet this letter must be somewhere."

"Would you dare to lift your hand to your queen?" said Anne of
Austria, drawing herself up to her full height, and fixing her
eyes upon the chancellor with an expression almost threatening.

"I am a faithful subject of the king, madame, and all that his
Majesty commands I shall do."

"Well, it is true!" said Anne of Austria; "and the spies of the
cardinal have served him faithfully. I have written a letter
today; that letter is not yet gone. The letter is here." And
the queen laid her beautiful hand on her bosom.

"Then give me that letter, madame," said the chancellor.

"I will give it to none but the king monsieur," said Anne.

"If the king had desired that the letter should be given to him,
madame, he would have demanded it of you himself. But I repeat
to you, I am charged with reclaiming it; and if you do not give
it up--"


"He has, then, charged me to take it from you."

"How! What do you say?"

"That my orders go far, madame; and that I am authorized to seek
for the suspected paper, even on the person of your Majesty."

"What horror!" cried the queen.

"Be kind enough, then, madame, to act more compliantly."

"The conduct is infamously violent! Do you know that, monsieur?"

"The king commands it, madame; excuse me."

"I will not suffer it! No, no, I would rather die!" cried the
queen, in whom the imperious blood of Spain and Austria began to

The chancellor made a profound reverence. Then, with the
intention quite patent of not drawing back a foot from the
accomplishment of the commission with which he was charged, and
as the attendant of an executioner might have done in the chamber
of torture, he approached Anne of Austria, for whose eyes at the
same instant sprang tears of rage.

The queen was, as we have said, of great beauty. The commission
might well be called delicate; and the king had reached, in his
jealousy of Buckingham, the point of not being jealous of anyone

Without doubt the chancellor, Seguier looked about at that moment
for the rope of the famous bell; but not finding it he summoned
his resolution, and stretched forth his hands toward the place
where the queen had acknowledged the paper was to be found.

Anne of Austria took one step backward, became so pale that it
might be said she was dying, and leaning with her left hand upon
a table behind her to keep herself from falling, she with her
right hand drew the paper from her bosom and held it out to the
keeper of the seals.

"There, monsieur, there is that letter!" cried the queen, with a
broken and trembling voice; "take it, and deliver me from your
odious presence."

The chancellor, who, on his part, trembled with an emotion easily
to be conceived, took the letter, bowed to the ground, and
retired. The door was scarcely closed upon him, when the queen
sank, half fainting, into the arms of her women.

The chancellor carried the letter to the king without having read
a single word of it. The king took it with a trembling hand,
looked for the address, which was wanting, became very pale,
opened it slowly, then seeing by the first words that it was
addressed to the King of Spain, he read it rapidly.

It was nothing but a plan of attack against the cardinal. The
queen pressed her brother and the Emperor of Austria to appear to
be wounded, as they really were, by the policy of Richelieu--the
eternal object of which was the abasement of the house of
Austria--to declare war against France, and as a condition of
peace, to insist upon the dismissal of the cardinal; but as to
love, there was not a single word about it in all the letter.

The king, quite delighted, inquired if the cardinal was still at
the Louvre; he was told that his Eminence awaited the orders of
his Majesty in the business cabinet.

The king went straight to him.

"There, Duke," said he, "you were right and I was wrong. The
whole intrigue is political, and there is not the least question
of love in this letter; but, on the other hand, there is abundant
question of you."

The cardinal took the letter, and read it with the greatest
attention; then, when he had arrived at the end of it, he read it
a second time. "Well, your Majesty," said he, "you see how far
my enemies go; they menace you with two wars if you do not
dismiss me. In your place, in truth, sire, I should yield to
such powerful instance; and on my part, it would be a real
happiness to withdraw from public affairs."

"What say you, Duke?"

"I say, sire, that my health is sinking under these excessive
struggles and these never-ending labors. I say that according to
all probability I shall not be able to undergo the fatigues of
the siege of La Rochelle, and that it would be far better that
you should appoint there either Monsieur de Conde, Monsieur de
Bassopierre, or some valiant gentleman whose business is war, and
not me, who am a churchman, and who am constantly turned aside
for my real vocation to look after matters for which I have no
aptitude. You would be the happier for it at home, sire, and I
do not doubt you would be the greater for it abroad."

"Monsieur Duke," said the king, "I understand you. Be satisfied,
all who are named in that letter shall be punished as they
deserve, even the queen herself."

"What do you say, sire? God forbid that the queen should suffer
the least inconvenience or uneasiness on my account! She has
always believed me, sire, to be her enemy; although your Majesty
can bear witness that I have always taken her part warmly, even
against you. Oh, if she betrayed your Majesty on the side of
your honor, it would be quite another thing, and I should be the
first to say, 'No grace, sire--no grace for the guilty!'
Happily, there is nothing of the kind, and your Majesty has just
acquired a new proof of it."

"That is true, Monsieur Cardinal," said the king, "and you were
right, as you always are; but the queen, not the less, deserves
all my anger."

"It is you, sire, who have now incurred hers. And even if she
were to be seriously offended, I could well understand it; your
Majesty has treated her with a severity--"

"It is thus I will always treat my enemies and yours, Duke,
however high they may be placed, and whatever peril I may incur
in acting severely toward them."

"The queen is my enemy, but is not yours, sire; on the contrary,
she is a devoted, submissive, and irreproachable wife. Allow me,
then, sire, to intercede for her with your Majesty."

"Let her humble herself, then, and come to me first."

"On the contrary, sire, set the example. You have committed the
first wrong, since it was you who suspected the queen."

"What! I make the first advances?" said the king. "Never!"

"Sire, I entreat you to do so."

"Besides, in what manner can I make advances first?"

"By doing a thing which you know will be agreeable to her."

"What is that?"

"Give a ball; you know how much the queen loves dancing. I will
answer for it, her resentment will not hold out against such an

"Monsieur Cardinal, you know that I do not like worldly

"The queen will only be the more grateful to you, as she knows
your antipathy for that amusement; besides, it will be an
opportunity for her to wear those beautiful diamonds which you
gave her recently on her birthday and with which she has since
had no occasion to adorn herself."

"We shall see, Monsieur Cardinal, we shall see," said the king,
who, in his joy at finding the queen guilty of a crime which he
cared little about, and innocent of a fault of which he had great
dread, was ready to make up all differences with her, "we shall
see, but upon my honor, you are too indulgent toward her."

"Sire," said the cardinal, "leave severity to your ministers.
Clemency is a royal virtue; employ it, and you will find that you
derive advantage therein."

Thereupon the cardinal, hearing the clock strike eleven, bowed
low, asking permission of the king to retire, and supplicating
him to come to a good understanding with the queen.

Anne of Austria, who, in consequence of the seizure of her
letter, expected reproaches, was much astonished the next day to
see the king make some attempts at reconciliation with her. Her
first movement was repellent. Her womanly pride and her queenly
dignity had both been so cruelly offended that she could not come
round at the first advance; but, overpersuaded by the advice of
her women, she at last had the appearance of beginning to forget.
The king took advantage of this favorable moment to tell her that
her had the intention of shortly giving a fete.

A fete was so rare a thing for poor Anne of Austria that at this
announcement, as the cardinal had predicted, the last trace of
her resentment disappeared, if not from her heart at least from
her countenance. She asked upon what day this fete would take
place, but the king replied that he must consult the cardinal
upon that head.

Indeed, every day the king asked the cardinal when this fete
should take place; and every day the cardinal, under some
pretext, deferred fixing it. Ten days passed away thus.

On the eighth day after the scene we have described, the cardinal
received a letter with the London stamp which only contained
these lines: "I have them; but I am unable to leave London for
want of money. Send me five hundred pistoles, and four or five
days after I have received them I shall be in Paris."

On the same day the cardinal received this letter the king put
his customary question to him.

Richelieu counted on his fingers, and said to himself, "She will
arrive, she says, four or five days after having received the
money. It will require four or five days for the transmission of
the money, four or five days for her to return; that makes ten
days. Now, allowing for contrary winds, accidents, and a woman's
weakness, there are twelve days."

"Well, Monsieur Duke," said the king, "have you made your

"Yes, sire. Today is the twentieth of September. The aldermen
of the city give a fete on the third of October. That will fall
in wonderfully well; you will not appear to have gone out of your
way to please the queen."

Then the cardinal added, "A PROPOS, sire, do not forget to tell
her Majesty the evening before the fete that you should like to
see how her diamond studs become her."


It was the second time the cardinal had mentioned these diamond
studs to the king. Louis XIII was struck with this insistence,
and began to fancy that this recommendation concealed some

More than once the king had been humiliated by the cardinal,
whose police, without having yet attained the perfection of the
modern police, were excellent, being better informed than
himself, even upon what was going on in his own household. He
hoped, then, in a conversation with Anne of Austria, to obtain
some information from that conversation, and afterward to come
upon his Eminence with some secret which the cardinal either knew
or did not know, but which, in either case, would raise him
infinitely in the eyes of his minister.

He went then to the queen, and according to custom accosted her
with fresh menaces against those who surrounded her. Anne of
Austria lowered her head, allowed the torrent to flow on without
replying, hoping that it would cease of itself; but this was not
what Louis XIII meant. Louis XIII wanted a discussion from which
some light or other might break, convinced as he was that the
cardinal had some afterthought and was preparing for him one of
those terrible surprises which his Eminence was so skillful in
getting up. He arrived at this end by his persistence in

"But," cried Anne of Austria, tired of these vague attacks, "but,
sire, you do not tell me all that you have in your heart. What
have I done, then? Let me know what crime I have committed. It
is impossible that your Majesty can make all this ado about a
letter written to my brother."

The king, attacked in a manner so direct, did not know what to
answer; and he thought that this was the moment for expressing
the desire which he was not going to have made until the evening
before the fete.

"Madame," said he, with dignity, "there will shortly be a ball at
the Hotel de Ville. I wish, in order to honor our worthy
aldermen, you should appear in ceremonial costume, and above all,
ornamented with the diamond studs which I gave you on your
birthday. That is my answer."

The answer was terrible. Anne of Austria believed that Louis
XIII knew all, and that the cardinal had persuaded him to employ
this long dissimulation of seven or eight days, which, likewise,
was characteristic. She became excessively pale, leaned her
beautiful hand upon a CONSOLE, which hand appeared then like one
of wax, and looking at the king with terror in her eyes, she was
unable to reply by a single syllable.

"You hear, madame," said the king, who enjoyed the embarrassment
to its full extent, but without guessing the cause. "You hear,

"Yes, sire, I hear," stammered the queen.

"You will appear at this ball?"


"With those studs?"


The queen's paleness, if possible, increased; the king perceived
it, and enjoyed it with that cold cruelty which was one of the
worst sides of his character.

"Then that is agreed," said the king, "and that is all I had to
say to you."

"But on what day will this ball take place?" asked Anne of

Louis XIII felt instinctively that he ought not to reply to this
question, the queen having put it in an almost dying voice.

"Oh, very shortly, madame," said he; "but I do not precisely
recollect the date of the day. I will ask the cardinal."

"It was the cardinal, then, who informed you of this fete?"

"Yes, madame," replied the astonished king; "but why do you ask

"It was he who told you to invite me to appear with these studs?"

"That is to say, madame--"

"It was he, sire, it was he!"

"Well, and what does it signify whether it was he or I? Is there
any crime in this request?"

"No, sire."

"Then you will appear?"

"Yes, sire."

"That is well," said the king, retiring, "that is well; I count
upon it."

The queen made a curtsy, less from etiquette than because her
knees were sinking under her. The king went away enchanted.

"I am lost," murmured the queen, "lost!--for the cardinal knows
all, and it is he who urges on the king, who as yet knows nothing
but will soon know everything. I am lost! My God, my God, my

She knelt upon a cushion and prayed, with her head buried between
her palpitating arms.

In fact, her position was terrible. Buckingham had returned to
London; Mme. Chevreuse was at Tours. More closely watched than
ever, the queen felt certain, without knowing how to tell which,
that one of her women had betrayed her. Laporte could not leave
the Louvre; she had not a soul in the world in whom she could
confide. Thus, while contemplating the misfortune which
threatened her and the abandonment in which she was left, she
broke out into sobs and tears.

"Can I be of service to your Majesty?" said all at once a voice
full of sweetness and pity.

The queen turned sharply round, for there could be no deception
in the expression of that voice; it was a friend who spoke thus.

In fact, at one of the doors which opened into the queen's
apartment appeared the pretty Mme. Bonacieux. She had been
engaged in arranging the dresses and linen in a closet when the
king entered; she could not get out and had heard all.

The queen uttered a piercing cry at finding herself surprised--
for in her trouble she did not at first recognize the young woman
who had been given to her by Laporte.

"Oh, fear nothing, madame!" said the young woman, clasping her
hands and weeping herself at the queen's sorrows; "I am your
Majesty's, body and soul, and however far I may be from you,
however inferior may be my position, I believe I have discovered
a means of extricating your Majesty from your trouble."

"You, oh, heaven, you!" cried the queen; "but look me in the
face. I am betrayed on all sides. Can I trust in you?"

"Oh, madame!" cried the young woman, falling on her knees; "upon
my soul, I am ready to die for your Majesty!"

This expression sprang from the very bottom of the heart, and,
like the first, there was no mistaking it.

"Yes," continued Mme. Bonacieux, "yes, there are traitors here;
but by the holy name of the Virgin, I swear that no one is more
devoted to your Majesty than I am. Those studs which the king
speaks of, you gave them to the Duke of Buckingham, did you not?
Those studs were enclosed in a little rosewood box which he held
under his arm? Am I deceived? Is it not so, madame?"

"Oh, my God, my God!" murmured the queen, whose teeth chattered
with fright.

"Well, those studs," continued Mme. Bonacieux, "we must have them
back again."

"Yes, without doubt, it is necessary," cried the queen; "but how
am I to act? How can it be effected?"

"Someone must be sent to the duke."

"But who, who? In whom can I trust?"

"Place confidence in me, madame; do me that honor, my queen, and
I will find a messenger."

"But I must write."

"Oh, yes; that is indispensable. Two words from the hand of your
Majesty and your private seal."

"But these two words would bring about my condemnation, divorce,

"Yes, if they fell into infamous hands. But I will answer for
these two words being delivered to their address."

"Oh, my God! I must then place my life, my honor, my reputation,
in your hands?"

"Yes, yes, madame, you must; and I will save them all."

"But how? Tell me at least the means."

"My husband had been at liberty these two or three days. I have
not yet had time to see him again. He is a worthy, honest man
who entertains neither love nor hatred for anybody. He will do
anything I wish. He will set out upon receiving an order from
me, without knowing what he carries, and he will carry your
Majesty's letter, without even knowing it is from your Majesty,
to the address which is on it."

The queen took the two hands of the young woman with a burst of
emotion, gazed at her as if to read her very heart, and seeing
nothing but sincerity in her beautiful eyes, embraced her

"Do that," cried she, "and you will have saved my life, you will
have saved my honor!"

"Do not exaggerate the service I have the happiness to render
your Majesty. I have nothing to save for your Majesty; you are
only the victim of perfidious plots."

"That is true, that is true, my child," said the queen, "you are

"Give me then, that letter, madame; time presses."

The queen ran to a little table, on which were ink, paper, and
pens. She wrote two lines, sealed the letter with her private
seal, and gave it to Mme. Bonacieux.

"And now," said the queen, "we are forgetting one very necessary

"What is that, madame?"


Mme. Bonacieux blushed.

"Yes, that is true," said she, "and I will confess to your
Majesty that my husband--"

"Your husband has none. Is that what you would say?"

"He has some, but he is very avaricious; that is his fault.
Nevertheless, let not your Majesty be uneasy, we will find

"And I have none, either," said the queen. Those who have read
the MEMOIRS of Mme. de Motteville will not be astonished at this
reply. "But wait a minute."

Anne of Austria ran to her jewel case.

"Here," said she, "here is a ring of great value, as I have been
assured. It came from my brother, the King of Spain. It is
mine, and I am at liberty to dispose of it. Take this ring;
raise money with it, and let your husband set out."

"In an hour you shall be obeyed."

"You see the address," said the queen, speaking so low that Mme.
Bonacieux could hardly hear what she said, "To my Lord Duke of
Buckingham, London."

"The letter shall be given to himself."

"Generous girl!" cried Anne of Austria.

Mme. Bonacieux kissed the hands of the queen, concealed the paper
in the bosom of her dress, and disappeared with the lightness of
a bird.

Ten minutes afterward she was at home. As she told the queen,
she had not seen her husband since his liberation; she was
ignorant of the change that had taken place in him with respect
to the cardinal--a change which had since been strengthened by
two or three visits from the Comte de Rochefort, who had become
the best friend of Bonacieux, and had persuaded him, without much
trouble, was putting his house in order, the furniture of which he had found
mostly broken and his closets nearly empty--justice not being one
of the three things which King Solomon names as leaving no traces
of their passage. As to the servant, she had run away at the
moment of her master's arrest. Terror had had such an effect
upon the poor girl that she had never ceased walking from Paris
till she reached Burgundy, her native place.

The worthy mercer had, immediately upon re-entering his house,
informed his wife of his happy return, and his wife had replied
by congratulating him, and telling him that the first moment she
could steal from her duties should be devoted to paying him a

This first moment had been delayed five days, which, under any
other circumstances, might have appeared rather long to M.
Bonacieux; but he had, in the visit he had made to the cardinal
and in the visits Rochefort had made him, ample subjects for
reflection, and as everybody knows, nothing makes time pass more
quickly than reflection.

This was the more so because Bonacieux's reflections were all
rose-colored. Rochefort called him his friend, his dear
Bonacieux, and never ceased telling him that the cardinal had a
great respect for him. The mercer fancied himself already on the
high road to honors and fortune.

On her side Mme. Bonacieux had also reflected; but, it must be
admitted, upon something widely different from ambition. In
spite of herself her thoughts constantly reverted to that
handsome young man who was so brave and appeared to be so much in
love. Married at eighteen to M. Bonacieux, having always lived
among her husband's friends--people little capable of inspiring
any sentiment whatever in a young woman whose heart was above her
position--Mme. Bonacieux had remained insensible to vulgar
seductions; but at this period the title of gentleman had great
influence with the citizen class, and d'Artagnan was a gentleman.
Besides, he wore the uniform of the Guards, which next to that of
the Musketeers was most admired by the ladies. He was, we
repeat, handsome, young, and bold; he spoke of love like a man
who did love and was anxious to be loved in return. There was
certainly enough in all this to turn a head only twenty-three
years old, and Mme. Bonacieux had just attained that happy period
of life.

The couple, then, although they had not seen each other for eight
days, and during that time serious events had taken place in
which both were concerned, accosted each other with a degree of
preoccupation. Nevertheless, Bonacieux manifested real joy, and
advanced toward his wife with open arms. Madame Bonacieux
presented her cheek to him.

"Let us talk a little," said she.

"How!" said Bonacieux, astonished.

"Yes, I have something of the highest importance to tell you."

"True," said he, "and I have some questions sufficiently serious
to put to you. Describe to me your abduction, I pray you."

"Oh, that's of no consequence just now," said Mme. Bonacieux.

"And what does it concern, then--my captivity?"

"I heard of it the day it happened; but as you were not guilty of
any crime, as you were not guilty of any intrigue, as you, in
short, knew nothing that could compromise yourself or anybody
else, I attached no more importance to that event than it

"You speak very much at your ease, madame," said Bonacieux, hurt
at the little interest his wife showed in him. "Do you know that
I was plunged during a day and night in a dungeon of the

"Oh, a day and night soon pass away. Let us return to the object
that brings me here."

"What, that which brings you home to me? Is it not the desire of
seeing a husband again from whom you have been separated for a
week?" asked the mercer, piqued to the quick.

"Yes, that first, and other things afterward."


"It is a thing of the highest interest, and upon which our future
fortune perhaps depends."

"The complexion of our fortune has changed very much since I saw
you, Madam Bonacieux, and I should not be astonished if in the
course of a few months it were to excite the envy of many folks."

"Yes, particularly if you follow the instructions I am about to
give you."


"Yes, you. There is good and holy action to be performed,
monsieur, and much money to be gained at the same time."

Mme. Bonacieux knew that in talking of money to her husband, she
took him on his weak side. But a man, were he even a mercer,
when he had talked for ten minutes with Cardinal Richelieu, is no
longer the same man.

"Much money to be gained?" said Bonacieux, protruding his lip.

"Yes, much."

"About how much?"

"A thousand pistoles, perhaps."

"What you demand of me is serious, then?"

"It is indeed."

"What must be done?"

"You must go away immediately. I will give you a paper which you
must not part with on any account, and which you will deliver
into the proper hands."

"And whither am I to go?"

"To London."

"I go to London? Go to! You jest! I have no business in

"But others wish that you should go there."

"But who are those others? I warn you that I will never again
work in the dark, and that I will know not only to what I expose
myself, but for whom I expose myself."

"An illustrious persons sends you; an illustrious person awaits
you. The recompense will exceed your expectations; that is all I
promise you."

"More intrigues! Nothing but intrigues! Thank you, madame, I am
aware of them now; Monsieur Cardinal has enlightened me on that

"The cardinal?" cried Mme. Bonacieux. "Have you seen the

"He sent for me," answered the mercer, proudly.

"And you responded to his bidding, you imprudent man?"

"Well, I can't say I had much choice of going or not going, for I
was taken to him between two guards. It is true also, that as I
did not then know his Eminence, if I had been able to dispense
with the visit, I should have been enchanted."

"He ill-treated you, then; he threatened you?"

"He gave me his hand, and called me his friend. His friend! Do
you hear that, madame? I am the friend of the great cardinal!"

"Of the great cardinal!"

"Perhaps you would contest his right to that title, madame?"

"I would contest nothing; but I tell you that the favor of a
minister is ephemeral, and that a man must be mad to attach
himself to a minister. There are powers above his which do not
depend upon a man or the issue of an event; it is to these powers
we should rally."

"I am sorry for it, madame, but I acknowledge not her power but
that of the great man whom I have the honor to serve."

"You serve the cardinal?"

"Yes, madame; and as his servant, I will not allow you to be
concerned in plots against the safety of the state, or to serve
the intrigues of a woman who is not French and who has a Spanish
heart. Fortunately we have the great cardinal; his vigilant eye
watches over and penetrates to the bottom of the heart."

Bonacieux was repeating, word for word, a sentence which he had
heard from the Comte de Rochefort; but the poor wife, who had
reckoned on her husband, and who, in that hope, had answered for
him to the queen, did not tremble the less, both at the danger
into which she had nearly cast herself and at the helpless state
to which she was reduced. Nevertheless, knowing the weakness of
her husband, and more particularly his cupidity, she did not
despair of bringing him round to her purpose.

"Ah, you are a cardinalist, then, monsieur, are you?" cried she;
"and you serve the party of those who maltreat your wife and
insult your queen?"

"Private interests are as nothing before the interests of all. I
am for those who save the state," said Bonacieux, emphatically.

"And what do you know about the state you talk of?" said Mme.
Bonacieux, shrugging her shoulders. "Be satisfied with being a
plain, straightforward citizen, and turn to that side which
offers the most advantages."

"Eh, eh!" said Bonacieux, slapping a plump, round bag, which
returned a sound a money; "what do you think of this, Madame

"Whence comes that money?"

"You do not guess?"

"From the cardinal?"

"From him, and from my friend the Comte de Rochefort."

"The Comte de Rochefort! Why it was he who carried me off!"

"That may be, madame!"

"And you receive silver from that man?"

"Have you not said that that abduction was entirely political?"

"Yes; but that abduction had for its object the betrayal of my
mistress, to draw from me by torture confessions that might
compromise the honor, and perhaps the life, of my august

"Madame," replied Bonacieux, "your august mistress is a
perfidious Spaniard, and what the cardinal does is well done."

"Monsieur," said the young woman, "I know you to be cowardly,
avaricious, and foolish, but I never till now believed you

"Madame," said Bonacieux, who had never seen his wife in a
passion, and who recoiled before this conjugal anger, "madame,
what do you say?"

"I say you are a miserable creature!" continued Mme. Bonacieux,
who saw she was regaining some little influence over her husband.
"You meddle with politics, do you--and still more, with
cardinalist politics? Why, you sell yourself, body and soul, to
the demon, the devil, for money!"

"No, to the cardinal."

"It's the same thing," cried the young woman. "Who calls
Richelieu calls Satan."

"Hold your tongue, hold your tongue, madame! You may be

"Yes, you are right; I should be ashamed for anyone to know your

"But what do you require of me, then? Let us see."

"I have told you. You must depart instantly, monsieur. You must
accomplish loyally the commission with which I deign to charge
you, and on that condition I pardon everything, I forget
everything; and what is more," and she held out her hand to him,
"I restore my love."

Bonacieux was cowardly and avaricious, but he loved his wife. He
was softened. A man of fifty cannot long bear malice with a wife
of twenty-three. Mme. Bonacieux saw that he hesitated.

"Come! Have you decided?" said she.

"But, my dear love, reflect a little upon what you require of me.
London is far from Paris, very far, and perhaps the commission
with which you charge me is not without dangers?"

"What matters it, if you avoid them?"

"Hold, Madame Bonacieux," said the mercer, "hold! I positively
refuse; intrigues terrify me. I have seen the Bastille. My!
Whew! That's a frightful place, that Bastille! Only to think of
it makes my flesh crawl. They threatened me with torture. Do
you know what torture is? Wooden points that they stick in
between your legs till your bones stick out! No, positively I
will not go. And, MORBLEU, why do you not go yourself? For in
truth, I think I have hitherto been deceived in you. I really
believe you are a man, and a violent one, too."

"And you, you are a woman--a miserable woman, stupid and brutal.
You are afraid, are you? Well, if you do not go this very
instant, I will have you arrested by the queen's orders, and I
will have you placed in the Bastille which you dread so much."

Bonacieux fell into a profound reflection. He weighed the two
angers in his brain--that of the cardinal and that of the queen;
that of the cardinal predominated enormously.

"Have me arrested on the part of the queen," said he, "and I--I
will appeal to his Eminence."

At once Mme. Bonacieux saw that she had gone too far, and she was
terrified at having communicated so much. She for a moment
contemplated with fright that stupid countenance, impressed with
the invincible resolution of a fool that is overcome by fear.

"Well, be it so!" said she. "Perhaps, when all is considered,
you are right. In the long run, a man knows more about politics
than a woman, particularly such as, like you, Monsieur Bonacieux,
have conversed with the cardinal. And yet it is very hard,"
added she, "that a man upon whose affection I thought I might
depend, treats me thus unkindly and will not comply with any of
my fancies."

"That is because your fancies go too far," replied the triumphant
Bonacieux, "and I mistrust them."

'Well, I will give it up, then," said the young woman, sighing.
"It is well as it is; say no more about it."

"At least you should tell me what I should have to do in London,"
replied Bonacieux, who remembered a little too late that
Rochefort had desired him to endeavor to obtain his wife's

"It is of no use for you to know anything about it," said the
young woman, whom an instinctive mistrust now impelled to draw
back. "It was about one of those purchases that interest women--
a purchase by which much might have been gained."

But the more the young woman excused herself, the more important
Bonacieux thought the secret which she declined to confide to
him. He resolved then to hasten immediately to the residence of
the Comte de Rochefort, and tell him that the queen was seeking
for a messenger to send to London.

"Pardon me for quitting you, my dear Madame Bonacieux," said he;
"but, not knowing you would come to see me, I had made an
engagement with a friend. I shall soon return; and if you will
wait only a few minutes for me, as soon as I have concluded my
business with that friend, as it is growing late, I will come
back and reconduct you to the Louvre."

"Thank you, monsieur, you are not brave enough to be of any use
to me whatever," replied Mme. Bonacieux. "I shall return very
safely to the Louvre all alone."

"As you please, Madame Bonacieux," said the ex-mercer. "Shall I
see you again soon?"

"Next week I hope my duties will afford me a little liberty, and
I will take advantage of it to come and put things in order here,
as they must necessarily be much deranged."

"Very well; I shall expect you. You are not angry with me?"

"Not the least in the world."

"Till then, then?"

"Till then."

Bonacieux kissed his wife's hand, and set off at a quick pace.

"Well," said Mme. Bonacieux, when her husband had shut the street
door and she found herself alone; "that imbecile lacked but one
thing to become a cardinalist. And I, who have answered for him
to the queen--I, who have promised my poor mistress--ah, my God,
my God! She will take me for one of those wretches with whom the
palace swarms and who are placed about her as spies! Ah,
Monsieur Bonacieux, I never did love you much, but now it is
worse than ever. I hate you, and on my word you shall pay for

At the moment she spoke these words a rap on the ceiling made her
raise her head, and a voice which reached her through the ceiling
cried, "Dear Madame Bonacieux, open for me the little door on the
alley, and I will come down to you."


"Ah, Madame," said d'Artagnan, entering by the door which the
young woman opened for him, "allow me to tell you that you have a
bad sort of a husband."

"You have, then, overheard our conversation?" asked Mme.
Bonacieux, eagerly, and looking at d'Artagnan with disquiet.

"The whole."

"But how, my God?"

"By a mode of proceeding known to myself, and by which I likewise
overheard the more animated conversation which he had with the
cardinal's police."

"And what did you understand by what we said?"

"A thousand things. In the first place, that, unfortunately,
your husband is a simpleton and a fool; in the next place, you
are in trouble, of which I am very glad, as it gives me a
opportunity of placing myself at your service, and God knows I am
ready to throw myself into the fire for you; finally, that the
queen wants a brave, intelligent, devoted man to make a journey
to London for her. I have at least two of the three qualities
you stand in need of, and here I am."

Mme. Bonacieux made no reply; but her heart beat with joy and
secret hope shone in her eyes.

"And what guarantee will you give me," asked she, "if I consent
to confide this message to you?"

"My love for you. Speak! Command! What is to be done?"

"My God, my God!" murmured the young woman, "ought I to confide
such a secret to you, monsieur? You are almost a boy."

"I see that you require someone to answer for me?"

"I admit that would reassure me greatly."

"Do you know Athos?"





"No. Who are these gentleman?"

"Three of the king's Musketeers. Do you know Monsieur de
Treville, their captain?"

"Oh, yes, him! I know him; not personally, but from having heard
the queen speak of him more than once as a brave and loyal

"You do not fear lest he should betray you to the cardinal?"

"Oh, no, certainly not!"

"Well, reveal your secret to him, and ask him whether, however
important, however valuable, however terrible it may be, you may
not confide it to me."

"But this secret is not mine, and I cannot reveal it in this

"You were about to confide it to Monsieur Bonacieux," said
d'Artagnan, with chagrin.

"As one confides a letter to the hollow of a tree, to the wing of
a pigeon, to the collar of a dog."

"And yet, me--you see plainly that I love you."

"You say so."

"I am an honorable man."

"You say so."

"I am a gallant fellow."

"I believe it."

"I am brave."

"Oh, I am sure of that!"

"Then, put me to the proof."

Mme. Bonacieux looked at the young man, restrained for a minute
by a last hesitation; but there was such an ardor in his eyes,
such persuasion in his voice, that she felt herself constrained
to confide in him. Besides, she found herself in circumstances
where everything must be risked for the sake of everything. The
queen might be as much injured by too much reticence as by too
much confidence; and--let us admit it--the involuntary sentiment
which she felt for her young protector decided her to speak.

"Listen," said she; "I yield to your protestations, I yield to
your assurances. But I swear to you, before God who hears us,
that if you betray me, and my enemies pardon me, I will kill
myself, while accusing you of my death."

"And I--I swear to you before God, madame," said d'Artagnan.
"that if I am taken while accomplishing the orders you give me, I
will die sooner than do anything that may compromise anyone."

Then the young woman confided in him the terrible secret of which
chance had already communicated to him a part in front of the
Samaritaine. This was their mutual declaration of love.

D'Artagnan was radiant with joy and pride. This secret which he
possessed, this woman whom he loved! Confidence and love made him
a giant.

"I go," said he; "I go at once."

"How, you will go!" said Mme. Bonacieux; "and your regiment, your

"By my soul, you had made me forget all that, dear Constance!
Yes, you are right; a furlough is needful."

"Still another obstacle," murmured Mme. Bonacieux, sorrowfully.

"As to that," cried d'Artagnan, after a moment of reflection, "I
shall surmount it, be assured."

"How so?"

"I will go this very evening to Treville, whom I will request to
ask this favor for me of his brother-in-law, Monsieur

"But another thing."

"What?" asked d'Artagnan, seeing that Mme. Bonacieux hesitated to

"You have, perhaps, no money?"

"PERHAPS is too much," said d'Artagnan, smiling.

"Then," replied Mme. Bonacieux, opening a cupboard and taking
from it the very bag which a half hour before her husband had
caressed so affectionately, "take this bag."

"The cardinal's?" cried d'Artagnan, breaking into a loud laugh,
he having heard, as may be remembered, thanks to the broken
boards, every syllable of the conversation between the mercer and
his wife.

"The cardinal's," replied Mme. Bonacieux. "You see it makes a
very respectable appearance."

"PARDIEU," cried d'Artagnan, "it will be a double amusing affair
to save the queen with the cardinal's money!"

"You are an amiable and charming young man," said Mme. Bonacieux.
"Be assured you will not find her Majesty ungrateful."

"Oh, I am already grandly recompensed!" cried d'Artagnan. "I
love you; you permit me to tell you that I do--that is already
more happiness than I dared to hope."

"Silence!" said Mme. Bonacieux, starting.


"Someone is talking in the street."

"It is the voice of--"

"Of my husband! Yes, I recognize it!"

D'Artagnan ran to the door and pushed the bolt.

"He shall not come in before I am gone," said he; "and when I am
gone, you can open to him."

"But I ought to be gone, too. And the disappearance of his
money; how am I to justify it if I am here?"

"You are right; we must go out."

"Go out? How? He will see us if we go out."

"Then you must come up into my room."

"Ah," said Mme. Bonacieux, "you speak that in a tone that
frightens me!"

Mme. Bonacieux pronounced these words with tears in her eyes.
d'Artagnan saw those tears, and much disturbed, softened, he
threw himself at her feet.

"With me you will be as safe as in a temple; I give you my word
of a gentleman."

"Let us go," said she, "I place full confidence in you, my

D'Artagnan drew back the bolt with precaution, and both, light as
shadows, glided through the interior door into the passage,
ascended the stairs as quietly as possible, and entered
d'Artagnan's chambers.

Once there, for greater security, the young man barricaded the
door. They both approached the window, and through a slit in the
shutter they saw Bonacieux talking with a man in a cloak.

At sight of this man, d'Artagnan started, and half drawing his
sword, sprang toward the door.

It was the man of Meung.

"What are you going to do?" cried Mme. Bonacieux; "you will ruin
us all!"

"But I have sworn to kill that man!" said d'Artagnan.

"Your life is devoted from this moment, and does not belong to
you. In the name of the queen I forbid you to throw yourself
into any peril which is foreign to that of your journey."

"And do you command nothing in your own name?"

"In my name," said Mme. Bonacieux, with great emotion, "in my
name I beg you! But listen; they appear to be speaking of me."

D'Artagnan drew near the window, and lent his ear.

M. Bonacieux had opened his door, and seeing the apartment, had
returned to the man in the cloak, whom he had left alone for an

"She is gone," said he; "she must have returned to the Louvre."

"You are sure," replied the stranger, "that she did not suspect
the intentions with which you went out?"

"No," replied Bonacieux, with a self-sufficient air, "she is too
superficial a woman."

"Is the young Guardsman at home?"

"I do not think he is; as you see, his shutter is closed, and you
can see no light shine through the chinks of the shutters."

"All the same, it is well to be certain."

"How so?"

"By knocking at his door. Go."

"I will ask his servant."

Bonacieux re-entered the house, passed through the same door that
had afforded a passage for the two fugitives, went up to
d'Artagnan's door, and knocked.

No one answered. Porthos, in order to make a greater display,
had that evening borrowed Planchet. As to d'Artagnan, he took
care not to give the least sign of existence.

The moment the hand of Bonacieux sounded on the door, the two
young people felt their hearts bound within them.

"There is nobody within," said Bonacieux.

"Never mind. Let us return to your apartment. We shall be safer
there than in the doorway."

"Ah, my God!" whispered Mme. Bonacieux, "we shall hear no more."

"On the contrary," said d'Artagnan, "we shall hear better."

D'Artagnan raised the three or four boards which made his chamber
another ear of Dionysius, spread a carpet on the floor, went upon
his knees, and made a sign to Mme. Bonacieux to stoop as he did
toward the opening.

"You are sure there is nobody there?" said the stranger.

"I will answer for it," said Bonacieux.

"And you think that your wife--"

"Has returned to the Louvre."

"Without speaking to anyone but yourself?"

"I am sure of it."

"That is an important point, do you understand?"

"Then the news I brought you is of value?"

"The greatest, my dear Bonacieux; I don't conceal this from you."

"Then the cardinal will be pleased with me?"

"I have no doubt of it."

"The great cardinal!"

"Are you sure, in her conversation with you, that your wife
mentioned no names?"

"I think not."

"She did not name Madame de Chevreuse, the Duke of Buckingham, or
Madame de Vernet?"

"No; she only told me she wished to send me to London to serve
the interests of an illustrious personage."

"The traitor!" murmured Mme. Bonacieux.

"Silence!" said d'Artagnan, taking her hand, which, without
thinking of it, she abandoned to him.

"Never mind," continued the man in the cloak; "you were a fool
not to have pretended to accept the mission. You would then be
in present possession of the letter. The state, which is now
threatened, would be safe, and you--"

"And I?"

"Well you--the cardinal would have given you letters of

"Did he tell you so?"

"Yes, I know that he meant to afford you that agreeable

"Be satisfied," replied Bonacieux; "my wife adores me, and there
is yet time."

"The ninny!" murmured Mme. Bonacieux.

"Silence!" said d'Artagnan, pressing her hand more closely.

"How is there still time?" asked the man in the cloak.

"I go to the Louvre; I ask for Mme. Bonacieux; I say that I have
reflected; I renew the affair; I obtain the letter, and I run
directly to the cardinal."

"Well, go quickly! I will return soon to learn the result of
your trip."

The stranger went out.

"Infamous!" said Mme. Bonacieux, addressing this epithet to her

"Silence!" said d'Artagnan, pressing her hand still more warmly.

A terrible howling interrupted these reflections of d'Artagnan
and Mme. Bonacieux. It was her husband, who had discovered the
disappearance of the moneybag, and was crying "Thieves!"

"Oh, my God!" cried Mme. Bonacieux, "he will rouse the whole

Bonacieux called a long time; but as such cries, on account of
their frequency, brought nobody in the Rue des Fossoyeurs, and as
lately the mercer's house had a bad name, finding that nobody
came, he went out continuing to call, his voice being heard
fainter and fainter as he went in the direction of the Rue du

"Now he is gone, it is your turn to get out," said Mme.
Bonacieux. "Courage, my friend, but above all, prudence, and
think what you owe to the queen."

"To her and to you!" cried d'Artagnan. "Be satisfied, beautiful
Constance. I shall become worthy of her gratitude; but shall I
likewise return worthy of your love?"

The young woman only replied by the beautiful glow which mounted
to her cheeks. A few seconds afterward d'Artagnan also went out
enveloped in a large cloak, which ill-concealed the sheath of a
long sword.

Mme. Bonacieux followed him with her eyes, with that long, fond
look with which he had turned the angle of the street, she fell
on her knees, and clasping her hands, "Oh, my God," cried she,
"protect the queen, protect me!"


D'Artagnan went straight to M. de Treville's. He had reflected
that in a few minutes the cardinal would be warned by this cursed
stranger, who appeared to be his agent, and he judged, with
reason, he had not a moment to lose.

The heart of the young man overflowed with joy. An opportunity
presented itself to him in which there would be at the same time
glory to be acquired, and money to be gained; and as a far higher
encouragement, it brought him into close intimacy with a woman he
adored. This chance did, then, for him at once more than he
would have dared to ask of Providence.

M. de Treville was in his saloon with his habitual court of
gentlemen. D'Artagnan, who was known as a familiar of the house,
went straight to his office, and sent word that he wished to see
him on something of importance.

D'Artagnan had been there scarcely five minutes when M. de
Treville entered. At the first glance, and by the joy which was
painted on his countenance, the worthy captain plainly perceived
that something new was on foot.

All the way along d'Artagnan had been consulting with himself
whether he should place confidence in M. de Treville, or whether
he should only ask him to give him CARTE BLANCHE for some secret
affair. But M. de Treville had always been so thoroughly his
friend, had always been so devoted to the king and queen, and
hated the cardinal so cordially, that the young man resolved to
tell him everything.

"Did you ask for me, my good friend?" said M. de Treville.

'Yes, monsieur," said d'Artagnan, lowering his voice, "and you
will pardon me, I hope, for having disturbed you when you know
the importance of my business."

"Speak, then, I am all attention."

"It concerns nothing less", said d'Artagnan, "than the honor,
perhaps the life of the queen."

"What did you say?" asked M. de Treville, glancing round to see
if they were surely alone, and then fixing his questioning look
upon d'Artagnan.

"I say, monsieur, that chance has rendered me master of a

"Which you will guard, I hope, young man, as your life."

"But which I must impart to you, monsieur, for you alone can
assist me in the mission I have just received from her Majesty."

"Is this secret your own?"

"No, monsieur; it is her Majesty's."

"Are you authorized by her Majesty to communicate it to me?"

"No, monsieur, for, on the contrary, I am desired to preserve the
profoundest mystery."

"Why, then, are you about to betray it to me?"

"Because, as I said, without you I can do nothing; and I am
afraid you will refuse me the favor I come to ask if you do not
know to what end I ask it."

"Keep your secret, young man, and tell me what you wish."

"I wish you to obtain for me, from Monsieur Dessessart, leave of
absence for fifteen days."


"This very night."

"You leave Paris?"

"I am going on a mission."

"May you tell me whither?"

"To London."

"Has anyone an interest in preventing your arrival there?"

"The cardinal, I believe, would give the world to prevent my

"And you are going alone?"

"I am going alone."

"In that case you will not get beyond Bondy. I tell you so, by
the faith of de Treville."

"How so?"

"You will be assassinated."

"And I shall die in the performance of my duty."

"But your mission will not be accomplished."

"That is true," replied d'Artagnan.

"Believe me," continued Treville, "in enterprises of this kind,
in order that one may arrive, four must set out."

"Ah, you are right, monsieur," said d'Artagnan; "but you know
Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, and you know if I can dispose of

"Without confiding to them the secret which I am not willing to

"We are sworn, once for all, to implicit confidence and
devotedness against all proof. Besides, you can tell them that
you have full confidence in me, and they will not be more
incredulous than you."

"I can send to each of them leave of absence for fifteen days,
that is all--to Athos, whose wound still makes him suffer, to go
to the waters of Forges; to Porthos and Aramis to accompany their
friend, whom they are not willing to abandon in such a painful
condition. Sending their leave of absence will be proof enough
that I authorize their journey."

"Thanks, monsieur. You are a hundred times too good."

"Begone, then, find them instantly, and let all be done tonight!
Ha! But first write your request to Dessessart. Perhaps you had
a spy at your heels; and your visit, if it should ever be known
to the cardinal, will thus seem legitimate."

D'Artagnan drew up his request, and M. de Treville, on receiving
it, assured him that by two o'clock in the morning the four
leaves of absence should be at the respective domiciles of the

"Have the goodness to send mine to Athos's residence. I should
dread some disagreeable encounter if I were to go home."

"Be easy. Adieu, and a prosperous voyage. A PROPOS," said M. de
Treville, calling him back.

D'Artagnan returned.

"Have you any money?"

D'Artagnan tapped the bag he had in his pocket.

"Enough?" asked M. de Treville.

"Three hundred pistoles."

"Oh, plenty! That would carry you to the end of the world.
Begone, then!"

D'Artagnan saluted M. de Treville, who held out his hand to him;
d'Artagnan pressed it with a respect mixed with gratitude. Since
his first arrival at Paris, he had had constant occasion to honor
this excellent man, whom he had always found worthy, loyal, and

His first visit was to Aramis, at whose residence he had not been
since the famous evening on which he had followed Mme. Bonacieux.
Still further, he had seldom seen the young Musketeer; but every
time he had seen him, he had remarked a deep sadness imprinted on
his countenance.

This evening, especially, Aramis was melancholy and thoughtful.
d'Artagnan asked some questions about this prolonged melancholy.
Aramis pleaded as his excuse a commentary upon the eighteenth
chapter of St. Augustine, which he was forced to write in Latin
for the following week, and which preoccupied him a good deal.

After the two friends had been chatting a few moments, a servant
from M. de Treville entered, bringing a sealed packet.

"What is that?" asked Aramis.

"The leave of absence Monsieur has asked for," replied the

"For me! I have asked for no leave of absence."

"Hold your tongue and take it!" said d'Artagnan. "And you, my
friend, there is a demipistole for your trouble; you will tell
Monsieur de Treville that Monsieur Aramis is very much obliged to
him. Go."

The lackey bowed to the ground and departed.

"What does all this mean?" asked Aramis.

"Pack up all you want for a journey of a fortnight, and follow

"But I cannot leave Paris just now without knowing--"

Aramis stopped.

"What is become of her? I suppose you mean--" continued

"Become of whom?" replied Aramis.

"The woman who was here--the woman with the embroidered

"Who told you there was a woman here?" replied Aramis, becoming
as pale as death.

"I saw her."

"And you know who she is?"

"I believe I can guess, at least."

"Listen!" said Aramis. "Since you appear to know so many things,
can you tell me what is become of that woman?"

"I presume that she has returned to Tours."

"To Tours? Yes, that may be. You evidently know her. But why
did she return to Tours without telling me anything?"

"Because she was in fear of being arrested."

"Why has she not written to me, then?"

"Because she was afraid of compromising you."

"d'Artagnan, you restore me to life!" cried Aramis. "I fancied
myself despised, betrayed. I was so delighted to see her again!
I could not have believed she would risk her liberty for me, and
yet for what other cause could she have returned to Paris?"

"For the cause which today takes us to England."

"And what is this cause?" demanded Aramis.

"Oh, you'll know it someday, Aramis; but at present I must
imitate the discretion of 'the doctor's niece.'"

Aramis smiled, as he remembered the tale he had told his friends
on a certain evening. "Well, then, since she has left Paris, and
you are sure of it, d'Artagnan, nothing prevents me, and I am
ready to follow you. You say we are going--"

"To see Athos now, and if you will come thither, I beg you to
make haste, for we have lost much time already. A PROPOS, inform

"Will Bazin go with us?" asked Aramis.

"Perhaps so. At all events, it is best that he should follow us
to Athos's."

Aramis called Bazin, and, after having ordered him to join them
at Athos's residence, said "Let us go then," at the same time
taking his cloak, sword, and three pistols, opening uselessly two
or three drawers to see if he could not find stray coin. When
well assured this search was superfluous, he followed d'Artagnan,
wondering to himself how this young Guardsman should know so well
who the lady was to whom he had given hospitality, and that he
should know better than himself what had become of her.

Only as they went out Aramis placed his hand upon the arm of
d'Artagnan, and looking at him earnestly, "You have not spoken of
this lady?" said he.

"To nobody in the world."

"Not even to Athos or Porthos?"

"I have not breathed a syllable to them."

"Good enough!"

Tranquil on this important point, Aramis continued his way with
d'Artagnan, and both soon arrived at Athos's dwelling. They
found him holding his leave of absence in one hand, and M. de
Treville's note in the other.

"Can you explain to me what signify this leave of absence and
this letter, which I have just received?" said the astonished

My dear Athos,

I wish, as your health absolutely requires it,
that you should rest for a fortnight. Go, then, and take the
waters of Forges, or any that may be more agreeable to you, and
recuperate yourself as quickly as possible.

Yours affectionate

de Treville

"Well, this leave of absence and that letter mean that you must
follow me, Athos."

"To the waters of Forges?"

"There or elsewhere."

"In the king's service?"

"Either the king's or the queen's. Are we not their Majesties'

At that moment Porthos entered. "PARDIEU!" said he, "here is a
strange thing! Since when, I wonder, in the Musketeers, did they
grant men leave of absence without their asking for it?"

"Since," said d'Artagnan, "they have friends who ask it for

"Ah, ah!" said Porthos, "it appears there's something fresh

"Yes, we are going--" said Aramis.

"To what country?" demanded Porthos.

"My faith! I don't know much about it," said Athos. "Ask

"To London, gentlemen," said d'Artagnan.

"To London!" cried Porthos; "and what the devil are we going to
do in London?"

"That is what I am not at liberty to tell you, gentlemen; you
must trust to me."

"But in order to go to London," added Porthos, "money is needed,
and I have none."

"Nor I," said Aramis.

"Nor I," said Athos.

"I have," replied d'Artagnan, pulling out his treasure from his
pocket, and placing it on the table. "There are in this bag
three hundred pistoles. Let each take seventy-five; that is
enough to take us to London and back. Besides, make yourselves
easy; we shall not all arrive at London."

"Why so?"

"Because, in all probability, some one of us will be left on the

"Is this, then, a campaign upon which we are now entering?"

"One of a most dangerous kind, I give you notice."

"Ah! But if we do risk being killed," said Porthos, "at least I
should like to know what for."

"You would be all the wiser," said Athos.

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

"Is the king accustomed to give you such reasons? No. He says
to you jauntily, 'Gentlemen, there is fighting going on in
Gascony or in Flanders; go and fight,' and you go there. Why?
You need give yourselves no more uneasiness about this."

"d'Artagnan is right," said Athos; "here are our three leaves of
absence which came from Monsieur de Treville, and here are three
hundred pistoles which came from I don't know where. So let us
go and get killed where we are told to go. Is life worth the
trouble of so many questions? D'Artagnan, I am ready to follow

"And I also," said Porthos.

"And I also," said Aramis. "And, indeed, I am not sorry to quit
Paris; I had need of distraction."

"Well, you will have distractions enough, gentlemen, be assured,"
said d'Artagnan.

"And, now, when are we to go?" asked Athos.

"Immediately," replied d'Artagnan; "we have not a minute to

"Hello, Grimaud! Planchet! Mousqueton! Bazin!" cried the four
young men, calling their lackeys, "clean my boots, and fetch the
horses from the hotel."

Each Musketeer was accustomed to leave at the general hotel, as
at a barrack, his own horse and that of his lackey. Planchet,
Grimaud, Mousqueton, and Bazin set off at full speed.

"Now let us lay down the plan of campaign," said Porthos. "Where
do we go first?"

"To Calais," said d'Artagnan; "that is the most direct line to

"Well," said Porthos, "this is my advice--"


"Four men traveling together would be suspected. D'Artagnan will
give each of us his instructions. I will go by the way of
Boulogne to clear the way; Athos will set out two hours after, by
that of Amiens; Aramis will follow us by that of Noyon; as to
d'Artagnan, he will go by what route he thinks is best, in
Planchet's clothes, while Planchet will follow us like
d'Artagnan, in the uniform of the Guards."

"Gentlemen," said Athos, "my opinion is that it is not proper to
allow lackeys to have anything to do in such an affair. A secret
may, by chance, be betrayed by gentlemen; but it is almost
always sold by lackeys."

"Porthos's plan appears to me to be impracticable," said
d'Artagnan, "inasmuch as I am myself ignorant of what
instructions I can give you. I am the bearer of a letter, that
is all. I have not, and I cannot make three copies of that
letter, because it is sealed. We must, then, as it appears to
me, travel in company. This letter is here, in this pocket," and
he pointed to the pocket which contained the letter. "If I
should be killed, one of you must take it, and continue the
route; if he be killed, it will be another's turn, and so on--
provided a single one arrives, that is all that is required."

"Bravo, d'Artagnan, your opinion is mine," cried Athos, "Besides,
we must be consistent; I am going to take the waters, you will
accompany me. Instead of taking the waters of Forges, I go and
take sea waters; I am free to do so. If anyone wishes to stop
us, I will show Monsieur de Treville's letter, and you will show
your leaves of absence. If we are attacked, we will defend
ourselves; if we are tried, we will stoutly maintain that we were
only anxious to dip ourselves a certain number of times in the
sea. They would have an easy bargain of four isolated men;
whereas four men together make a troop. We will arm our four
lackeys with pistols and musketoons; if they send an army out
against us, we will give battle, and the survivor, as d'Artagnan
says, will carry the letter."

"Well said," cried Aramis; "you don't often speak, Athos, but
when you do speak, it is like St. John of the Golden Mouth. I
agree to Athos's plan. And you, Porthos?"

"I agree to it, too," said Porthos, "if d'Artagnan approves of
it. D'Artagnan, being the bearer of the letter, is naturally the
head of the enterprise; let him decide, and we will execute."

"Well," said d'Artagnan, "I decide that we should adopt Athos's
plan, and that we set off in half an hour."

"Agreed!" shouted the three Musketeers in chorus.

Each one, stretching out his hand to the bag, took his seventy-
five pistoles, and made his preparations to set out at the time

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