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The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas [Pere]

Part 6 out of 17

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At two o'clock in the morning, our four adventurers left Paris by
the Barriere St. Denis. As long as it was dark they remained
silent; in spite of themselves they submitted to the influence of
the obscurity, and apprehended ambushes on every side.

With the first rays of day their tongues were loosened; with the
sun gaiety revived. It was like the eve of a battle; the heart
beat, the eyes laughed, and they felt that the life they were
perhaps going to lose, was, after all, a good thing.

Besides, the appearance of the caravan was formidable. The black
horses of the Musketeers, their martial carriage, with the
regimental step of these noble companions of the soldier, would
have betrayed the most strict incognito. The lackeys followed,
armed to the teeth.

All went well till they arrived at Chantilly, which they reached
about eight o'clock in the morning. They needed breakfast, and
alighted at the door of an AUBERGE, recommended by a sign
representing St. Martin giving half his cloak to a poor man.
They ordered the lackeys not to unsaddle the horses, and to hold
themselves in readiness to set off again immediately.

They entered the common hall, and placed themselves at table. A
gentleman, who had just arrived by the route of Dammartin, was
seated at the same table, and was breakfasting. He opened the
conversation about rain and fine weather; the travelers replied.
He drank to their good health, and the travelers returned his

But at the moment Mousqueton came to announce that the horses
were ready, and they were arising from table, the stranger
proposed to Porthos to drink the health of the cardinal. Porthos
replied that he asked no better if the stranger, in his turn,
would drink the health of the king. The stranger cried that he
acknowledged no other king but his Eminence. Porthos called him
drunk, and the stranger drew his sword.

"You have committed a piece of folly," said Athos, "but it can't
be helped; there is no drawing back. Kill the fellow, and rejoin
us as soon as you can."

All three remounted their horses, and set out at a good pace,
while Porthos was promising his adversary to perforate him with
all the thrusts known in the fencing schools.

"There goes one!" cried Athos, at the end of five hundred paces.

"But why did that man attack Porthos rather than any other one of
us?" asked Aramis.

"Because, as Porthos was talking louder than the rest of us, he
took him for the chief," said d'Artagnan.

"I always said that this cadet from Gascony was a well of
wisdom," murmured Athos; and the travelers continued their route.

At Beauvais they stopped two hours, as well to breathe their
horses a little as to wait for Porthos. At the end of two hours,
as Porthos did not come, not any news of him, they resumed their

At a league from Beauvais, where the road was confined between
two high banks, they fell in with eight or ten men who, taking
advantage of the road being unpaved in this spot, appeared to be
employed in digging holes and filling up the ruts with mud.

Aramis, not liking to soil his boots with this artificial mortar,
apostrophized them rather sharply. Athos wished to restrain him,
but it was too late. The laborers began to jeer the travelers
and by their insolence disturbed the equanimity even of the cool
Athos, who urged on his horse against one of them.

Then each of these men retreated as far as the ditch, from which
each took a concealed musket; the result was that our seven
travelers were outnumbered in weapons. Aramis received a ball
which passed through his shoulder, and Mousqueton another ball
which lodged in the fleshy part which prolongs the lower portion
of the loins. Therefore Mousqueton alone fell from his horse,
not because he was severely wounded, but not being able to see
the wound, he judged it to be more serious than it really was.

"It was an ambuscade!" shouted d'Artagnan. "Don't waste a
charge! Forward!"

Aramis, wounded as he was, seized the mane of his horse, which
carried him on with the others. Mousqueton's horse rejoined
them, and galloped by the side of his companions.

"That will serve us for a relay," said Athos.

"I would rather have had a hat," said d'Artagnan. "Mine was
carried away by a ball. By my faith, it is very fortunate that
the letter was not in it."

"They'll kill poor Porthos when he comes up," said Aramis.

"If Porthos were on his legs, he would have rejoined us by this
time," said Athos. "My opinion is that on the ground the drunken
man was not intoxicated."

They continued at their best speed for two hours, although the
horses were so fatigued that it was to be feared they would soon
refuse service.

The travelers had chosen crossroads in the hope that they might
meet with less interruption; but at Crevecoeur, Aramis declared
he could proceed no farther. In fact, it required all the
courage which he concealed beneath his elegant form and polished
manners to bear him so far. He grew more pale every minute, and
they were obliged to support him on his horse. They lifted him
off at the door of a cabaret, left Bazin with him, who, besides,
in a skirmish was more embarrassing than useful, and set forward
again in the hope of sleeping at Amiens.

"MORBLEU," said Athos, as soon as they were again in motion,
"reduced to two masters and Grimaud and Planchet! MORBLEU! I
won't be their dupe, I will answer for it. I will neither open
my mouth nor draw my sword between this and Calais. I swear

"Don't waste time in swearing," said d'Artagnan; "let us gallop,
if our horses will consent."

And the travelers buried their rowels in their horses' flanks,
who thus vigorously stimulated recovered their energies. They
arrived at Amiens at midnight, and alighted at the AUBERGE of the
Golden Lily.

The host had the appearance of as honest a man as any on earth.
He received the travelers with his candlestick in one hand and
his cotton nightcap in the other. He wished to lodge the two
travelers each in a charming chamber; but unfortunately these
charming chambers were at the opposite extremities of the hotel.
d'Artagnan and Athos refused them. The host replied that he had
no other worthy of their Excellencies; but the travelers declared
they would sleep in the common chamber, each on a mattress which
might be thrown upon the ground. The host insisted; but the
travelers were firm, and he was obliged to do as they wished.

They had just prepared their beds and barricaded their door
within, when someone knocked at the yard shutter; they demanded
who was there, and recognizing the voices of their lackeys,
opened the shutter. It was indeed Planchet and Grimaud.

"Grimaud can take care of the horses," said Planchet. "If you
are willing, gentlemen, I will sleep across your doorway, and you
will then be certain that nobody can reach you."

"And on what will you sleep?" said d'Artagnan.

"Here is my bed," replied Planchet, producing a bundle of straw.

"Come, then," said d'Artagnan, "you are right. Mine host's face
does not please me at all; it is too gracious."

"Nor me either," said Athos.

Planchet mounted by the window and installed himself across the
doorway, while Grimaud went and shut himself up in the stable,
undertaking that by five o'clock in the morning he and the four
horses should be ready.

The night was quiet enough. Toward two o'clock in the morning
somebody endeavored to open the door; but as Planchet awoke in an
instant and cried, "Who goes there?" somebody replied that he was
mistaken, and went away.

At four o'clock in the morning they heard a terrible riot in the
stables. Grimaud had tried to waken the stable boys, and the
stable boys had beaten him. When they opened the window, they
saw the poor lad lying senseless, with his head split by a blow
with a pitchfork.

Planchet went down into the yard, and wished to saddle the
horses; but the horses were all used up. Mousqueton's horse
which had traveled for five or six hours without a rider the day
before, might have been able to pursue the journey; but by an
inconceivable error the veterinary surgeon, who had been sent
for, as it appeared, to bleed one of the host's horses, had bled

This began to be annoying. All these successive accidents were
perhaps the result of chance; but they might be the fruits of a
plot. Athos and d'Artagnan went out, while Planchet was sent to
inquire if there were not three horses for sale in the
neighborhood. At the door stood two horses, fresh, strong, and
fully equipped. These would just have suited them. He asked
where their masters were, and was informed that they had passed
the night in the inn, and were then settling their bill with the

Athos went down to pay the reckoning, while d'Artagnan and
Planchet stood at the street door. The host was in a lower and
back room, to which Athos was requested to go.

Athos entered without the least mistrust, and took out two
pistoles to pay the bill. The host was alone, seated before his
desk, one of the drawers of which was partly open. He took the
money which Athos offered to him, and after turning and turning
it over and over in his hands, suddenly cried out that it was
bad, and that he would have him and his companions arrested as

"You blackguard!" cried Athos, going toward him, "I'll cut your
ears off!"

At the same instant, four men, armed to the teeth, entered by
side doors, and rushed upon Athos.

"I am taken!" shouted Athos, with all the power of his lungs.
"Go on, d'Artagnan! Spur, spur!" and he fired two pistols.

D'Artagnan and Planchet did not require twice bidding; they
unfastened the two horses that were waiting at the door, leaped
upon them, buried their spurs in their sides, and set off at full

"Do you know what has become of Athos?" asked d'Artagnan of
Planchet, as they galloped on.

"Ah, monsieur," said Planchet, "I saw one fall at each of his two
shots, and he appeared to me, through the glass door, to be
fighting with his sword with the others."

"Brave Athos!" murmured d'Artagnan, "and to think that we are
compelled to leave him; maybe the same fate awaits us two paces
hence. Forward, Planchet, forward! You are a brave fellow."

"As I told you, monsieur," replied Planchet, "Picards are found
out by being used. Besides, I am here in my own country, and
that excites me."

And both, with free use of the spur, arrived at St. Omer without
drawing bit. At St. Omer they breathed their horses with the
bridles passed under their arms for fear of accident, and ate a
morsel from their hands on the stones of the street, after they
departed again.

At a hundred paces from the gates of Calais, d'Artagnan's horse
gave out, and could not by any means be made to get up again, the
blood flowing from his eyes and his nose. There still remained
Planchet's horse; but he stopped short, and could not be made to
move a step.

Fortunately, as we have said, they were within a hundred paces of
the city; they left their two nags upon the high road, and ran
toward the quay. Planchet called his master's attention to a
gentleman who had just arrived with his lackey, and only preceded
them by about fifty paces. They made all speed to come up to
this gentleman, who appeared to be in great haste. His boots
were covered with dust, and he inquired if he could not instantly
cross over to England.

"Nothing would be more easy," said the captain of a vessel ready
to set sail, "but this morning came an order to let no one leave
without express permission from the cardinal."

"I have that permission," said the gentleman, drawing the paper
from his pocket; "here it is."

"Have it examined by the governor of the port," said the
shipmaster, "and give me the preference."

"Where shall I find the governor?"

"At his country house."

"And that is situated?"

"At a quarter of a league from the city. Look, you may see it
from here--at the foot of that little hill, that slated roof."

"Very well," said the gentleman. And, with his lackey, he took
the road to the governor's country house.

D'Artagnan and Planchet followed the gentleman at a distance of
five hundred paces. Once outside the city, d'Artagnan overtook
the gentleman as he was entering a little wood.

"Monsieur, you appear to be in great haste?"

"No one can be more so, monsieur."

"I am sorry for that," said d'Artagnan; "for as I am in great
haste likewise, I wish to beg you to render me a service."


"To let me sail first."

"That's impossible," said the gentleman; "I have traveled sixty
leagues in forty hours, and by tomorrow at midday I must be in

"I have performed that same distance in forty hours, and by ten
o'clock in the morning I must be in London."

"Very sorry, monsieur; but I was here first, and will not sail

"I am sorry, too, monsieur; but I arrived second, and must sail

"The king's service!" said the gentleman.

"My own service!" said d'Artagnan.

"But this is a needless quarrel you seek with me, as it seems to

"PARBLEU! What do you desire it to be?"

"What do you want?"

"Would you like to know?"


"Well, then, I wish that order of which you are bearer, seeing
that I have not one of my own and must have one."

"You jest, I presume."

"I never jest."

"Let me pass!"

"You shall not pass."

"My brave young man, I will blow out your brains. HOLA, Lubin,
my pistols!"

"Planchet," called out d'Artagnan, "take care of the lackey; I
will manage the master."

Planchet, emboldened by the first exploit, sprang upon Lubin; and
being strong and vigorous, he soon got him on the broad of his
back, and placed his knee upon his breast.

"Go on with your affair, monsieur," cried Planchet; "I have
finished mine."

Seeing this, the gentleman drew his sword, and sprang upon
d'Artagnan; but he had too strong an adversary. In three seconds
d'Artagnan had wounded him three times, exclaiming at each
thrust, "One for Athos, one for Porthos; and one for Aramis!"

At the third hit the gentleman fell like a log. D'Artagnan
believed him to be dead, or at least insensible, and went toward
him for the purpose of taking the order; but the moment he
extended his hand to search for it, the wounded man, who had not
dropped his sword, plunged the point into d'Artagnan's breast,
crying, "One for you!"

"And one for me--the best for last!" cried d'Artagnan, furious,
nailing him to the earth with a fourth thrust through his body.

This time the gentleman closed his eyes and fainted. D'Artagnan
searched his pockets, and took from one of them the order for the
passage. It was in the name of Comte de Wardes.

Then, casting a glance on the handsome young man, who was
scarcely twenty-five years of age, and whom he was leaving in his
gore, deprived of sense and perhaps dead, he gave a sigh for that
unaccountable destiny which leads men to destroy each other for
the interests of people who are strangers to them and who often
do not even know that they exist. But he was soon aroused from
these reflections by Lubin, who uttered loud cries and screamed
for help with all his might.

Planchet grasped him by the throat, and pressed as hard as he
could. "Monsieur," said he, "as long as I hold him in this
manner, he can't cry, I'll be bound; but as soon as I let go he
will howl again. I know him for a Norman, and Normans are

In fact, tightly held as he was, Lubin endeavored still to cry

"Stay!" said d'Artagnan; and taking out his handkerchief, he
gagged him.

"Now," said Planchet, "let us bind him to a tree."

This being properly done, they drew the Comte de Wardes close to
his servant; and as night was approaching, and as the wounded man
and the bound man were at some little distance within the wood,
it was evident they were likely to remain there till the next

"And now," said d'Artagnan, "to the Governor's."

"But you are wounded, it seems," said Planchet.

"Oh, that's nothing! Let us attend to what is more pressing
first, and then we will attend to my wound; besides, it does not
seem very dangerous."

And they both set forward as fast as they could toward the
country house of the worthy functionary.

The Comte de Wardes was announced, and d'Artagnan was introduced.

"You have an order signed by the cardinal?" said the governor.

"Yes, monsieur," replied d'Artagnan; "here it is."

"Ah, ah! It is quite regular and explicit," said the governor.

"Most likely," said d'Artagnan; "I am one of his most faithful

"It appears that his Eminence is anxious to prevent someone from
crossing to England?"

"Yes; a certain d'Artagnan, a Bearnese gentleman who left Paris
in company with three of his friends, with the intention of going
to London."

"Do you know him personally?" asked the governor.


"This d'Artagnan."

"Perfectly well."

"Describe him to me, then."

"Nothing more easy."

And d'Artagnan gave, feature for feature, a description of the
Comte de Wardes.

"Is he accompanied?"

"Yes; by a lackey named Lubin."

"We will keep a sharp lookout for them; and if we lay hands on
them his Eminence may be assured they will be reconducted to
Paris under a good escort."

"And by doing so, Monsieur the Governor," said d'Artagnan, "you
will deserve well of the cardinal."

"Shall you see him on your return, Monsieur Count?"

"Without a doubt."

"Tell him, I beg you, that I am his humble servant."

"I will not fail."

Delighted with this assurance the governor countersigned the
passport and delivered it to d'Artagnan. D'Artagnan lost no time
in useless compliments. He thanked the governor, bowed, and
departed. Once outside, he and Planchet set off as fast as they
could; and by making a long detour avoided the wood and reentered
the city by another gate.

The vessel was quite ready to sail, and the captain was waiting
on the wharf. "Well?" said he, on perceiving d'Artagnan.

"Here is my pass countersigned," said the latter.

"And that other gentleman?

"He will not go today," said d'Artagnan; "but here, I'll pay you
for us two."

"In that case let us go," said the shipmaster.

"Let us go," repeated d'Artagnan.

He leaped with Planchet into the boat, and five minutes after
they were on board. It was time; for they had scarcely sailed
half a league, when d'Artagnan saw a flash and heard a
detonation. It was the cannon which announced the closing of the

He had now leisure to look to his wound. Fortunately, as
d'Artagnan had thought, it was not dangerous. The point of the
sword had touched a rib, and glanced along the bone. Still
further, his shirt had stuck to the wound, and he had lost only
a few drops of blood.

D'Artagnan was worn out with fatigue. A mattress was laid upon
the deck for him. He threw himself upon it, and fell asleep.

On the morrow, at break of day, they were still three or four
leagues from the coast of England. The breeze had been so light
all night, they had made but little progress. At ten o'clock the
vessel cast anchor in the harbor of Dover, and at half past ten
d'Artagnan placed his foot on English land, crying, "Here I am at

But that was not all; they must get to London. In England the
post was well served. D'Artagnan and Planchet took each a post
horse, and a postillion rode before them. In a few hours they
were in the capital.

D'Artagnan did not know London; he did not know a word of
English; but he wrote the name of Buckingham on a piece of paper,
and everyone pointed out to him the way to the duke's hotel.

The duke was at Windsor hunting with the king. D'Artagnan
inquired for the confidential valet of the duke, who, having
accompanied him in all his voyages, spoke French perfectly well;
he told him that he came from Paris on an affair of life and
death, and that he must speak with his master instantly.

The confidence with which d'Artagnan spoke convinced Patrick,
which was the name of this minister of the minister. He ordered
two horses to be saddled, and himself went as guide to the young
Guardsman. As for Planchet, he had been lifted from his horse as
stiff as a rush; the poor lad's strength was almost exhausted.
d'Artagnan seemed iron.

On their arrival at the castle they learned that Buckingham and
the king were hawking in the marshes two or three leagues away.
In twenty minutes they were on the spot named. Patrick soon
caught the sound of his master's voice calling his falcon.

"Whom must I announce to my Lord Duke?" asked Patrick.

"The young man who one evening sought a quarrel with him on the
Pont Neuf, opposite the Samaritaine."

"A singular introduction!"

"You will find that it is as good as another."

Patrick galloped off, reached the duke, and announced to him in
the terms directed that a messenger awaited him.

Buckingham at once remembered the circumstance, and suspecting
that something was going on in France of which it was necessary
he should be informed, he only took the time to inquire where the
messenger was, and recognizing from afar the uniform of the
Guards, he put his horse into a gallop, and rode straight up to
d'Artagnan. Patrick discreetly kept in the background.

"No misfortune has happened to the queen?" cried Buckingham, the
instant he came up, throwing all his fear and love into the

"I believe not; nevertheless I believe she runs some great peril
from which your Grace alone can extricate her."

"I!" cried Buckingham. "What is it? I should be too happy to be
of any service to her. Speak, speak!"

"Take this letter," said d'Artagnan.

"This letter! From whom comes this letter?"

"From her Majesty, as I think."

"From her Majesty!" said Buckingham, becoming so pale that
d'Artagnan feared he would faint as he broke the seal.

"What is this rent?" said he, showing d'Artagnan a place where it
had been pierced through.

"Ah," said d'Artagnan, "I did not see that; it was the sword of
the Comte de Wardes which made that hole, when he gave me a good
thrust in the breast."

"You are wounded?" asked Buckingham, as he opened the letter.

"Oh, nothing but a scratch," said d'Artagnan.

"Just heaven, what have I read?" cried the duke. "Patrick,
remain here, or rather join the king, wherever he may be, and
tell his Majesty that I humbly beg him to excuse me, but an
affair of the greatest importance recalls me to London. Come,
monsieur, come!" and both set off towards the capital at full


As they rode along, the duke endeavored to draw from d'Artagnan,
not all that had happened, but what d'Artagnan himself knew. By
adding all that he heard from the mouth of the young man to his
own remembrances, he was enabled to form a pretty exact idea of a
position of the seriousness of which, for the rest, the queen's
letter, short but explicit, gave him the clue. But that which
astonished him most was that the cardinal, so deeply interested
in preventing this young man from setting his foot in England,
had not succeeded in arresting him on the road. It was then,
upon the manifestation of this astonishment, that d'Artagnan
related to him the precaution taken, and how, thanks to the
devotion of his three friends, whom he had left scattered and
bleeding on the road, he had succeeded in coming off with a
single sword thrust, which had pierced the queen's letter and for
which he had repaid M. de Wardes with such terrible coin. While
he was listening to this recital, delivered with the greatest
simplicity, the duke looked from time to time at the young man
with astonishment, as if he could not comprehend how so much
prudence, courage, and devotedness could be allied with a
countenance which indicated not more than twenty years.

The horses went like the wind, and in a few minutes they were at
the gates of London. D'Artagnan imagined that on arriving in
town the duke would slacken his pace, but it was not so. He kept
on his way at the same rate, heedless about upsetting those whom
he met on the road. In fact, in crossing the city two or three
accidents of this kind happened; but Buckingham did not even turn
his head to see what became of those he had knocked down.
d'Artagnan followed him amid cries which strongly resembled

On entering the court of his hotel, Buckingham sprang from his
horse, and without thinking what became of the animal, threw the
bridle on his neck, and sprang toward the vestibule. D'Artagnan
did the same, with a little more concern, however, for the noble
creatures, whose merits he fully appreciated; but he had the
satisfaction of seeing three or four grooms run from the kitchens
and the stables, and busy themselves with the steeds.

The duke walked so fast that d'Artagnan had some trouble in
keeping up with him. He passed through several apartments, of an
elegance of which even the greatest nobles of France had not even
an idea, and arrived at length in a bedchamber which was at once
a miracle of taste and of richness. In the alcove of this
chamber was a door concealed in the tapestry which the duke
opened with a little gold key which he wore suspended from his
neck by a chain of the same metal. With discretion d'Artagnan
remained behind; but at the moment when Buckingham crossed the
threshold, he turned round, and seeing the hesitation of the
young man, "Come in!" cried he, "and if you have the good fortune
to be admitted to her Majesty's presence, tell her what you have

Encouraged by this invitation, d'Artagnan followed the duke, who
closed the door after them. The two found themselves in a small
chapel covered with a tapestry of Persian silk worked with gold,
and brilliantly lighted with a vast number of candles. Over a
species of altar, and beneath a canopy of blue velvet, surmounted
by white and red plumes, was a full-length portrait of Anne of
Austria, so perfect in its resemblance that d'Artagnan uttered a
cry of surprise on beholding it. One might believe the queen was
about to speak. On the altar, and beneath the portrait, was the
casket containing the diamond studs.

The duke approached the altar, knelt as a priest might have done
before a crucifix, and opened the casket. "There," said he,
drawing from the casket a large bow of blue ribbon all sparkling
with diamonds, "there are the precious studs which I have taken
an oath should be buried with me. The queen gave them to me, the
queen requires them again. Her will be done, like that of God,
in all things."

Then, he began to kiss, one after the other, those dear studs
with which he was about to part. All at once he uttered a
terrible cry.

"What is the matter?" exclaimed d'Artagnan, anxiously; "what has
happened to you, my Lord?"

"All is lost!" cried Buckingham, becoming as pale as a corpse;
"two of the studs are wanting, there are only ten."

"Can you have lost them, my Lord, or do you think they have been

"They have been stolen," replied the duke, "and it is the
cardinal who has dealt this blow. Hold; see! The ribbons which
held them have been cut with scissors."

"If my Lord suspects they have been stolen, perhaps the person
who stole them still has them in his hands."

"Wait, wait!" said the duke. "The only time I have worn these
studs was at a ball given by the king eight days ago at Windsor.
The Comtesse de Winter, with whom I had quarreled, became
reconciled to me at that ball. That reconciliation was nothing
but the vengeance of a jealous woman. I have never seen her from
that day. The woman is an agent of the cardinal."

"He has agents, then, throughout the world?" cried d'Artagnan.

"Oh, yes," said Buckingham, grating his teeth with rage. "Yes,
he is a terrible antagonist. But when is this ball to take

"Monday next."

"Monday next! Still five days before us. That's more time than
we want. Patrick!" cried the duke, opening the door of the
chapel, "Patrick!" His confidential valet appeared.

"My jeweler and my secretary."

The valet went out with a mute promptitude which showed him
accustomed to obey blindly and without reply.

But although the jeweler had been mentioned first, it was the
secretary who first made his appearance. This was simply because
he lived in the hotel. He found Buckingham seated at a table in
his bedchamber, writing orders with his own hand.

"Mr. Jackson," said he, "go instantly to the Lord Chancellor, and
tell him that I charge him with the execution of these orders. I
wish them to be promulgated immediately."

"But, my Lord, if the Lord Chancellor interrogates me upon the
motives which may have led your Grace to adopt such an
extraordinary measure, what shall I reply?"

"That such is my pleasure, and that I answer for my will to no

"Will that be the answer," replied the secretary, smiling, "which
he must transmit to his Majesty if, by chance, his Majesty should
have the curiosity to know why no vessel is to leave any of the
ports of Great Britain?"

"You are right, Mr. Jackson," replied Buckingham. "He will say,
in that case, to the king that I am determined on war, and that
this measure is my first act of hostility against France."

The secretary bowed and retired.

"We are safe on that side," said Buckingham, turning toward
d'Artagnan. "If the studs are not yet gone to Paris, they will
not arrive till after you."

"How so?"

"I have just placed an embargo on all vessels at present in his
Majesty's ports, and without particular permission, not one dare
lift an anchor."

D'Artagnan looked with stupefaction at a man who thus employed
the unlimited power with which he was clothed by the confidence
of a king in the prosecution of his intrigues. Buckingham saw by
the expression of the young man's face what was passing in his
mind, and he smiled.

"Yes," said he, "yes, Anne of Austria is my true queen. Upon a
word from her, I would betray my country, I would betray my king,
I would betray my God. She asked me not to send the Protestants
of La Rochelle the assistance I promised them; I have not done
so. I broke my word, it is true; but what signifies that? I
obeyed my love; and have I not been richly paid for that
obedience? It was to that obedience I owe her portrait."

D'Artagnan was amazed to note by what fragile and unknown threads
the destinies of nations and the lives of men are suspended. He
was lost in these reflections when the goldsmith entered. He was
an Irishman--one of the most skillful of his craft, and who
himself confessed that he gained a hundred thousand livres a year
by the Duke of Buckingham.

"Mr. O'Reilly," said the duke, leading him into the chapel, "look
at these diamond studs, and tell me what they are worth apiece."

The goldsmith cast a glance at the elegant manner in which they
were set, calculated, one with another, what the diamonds were
worth, and without hesitation said, "Fifteen hundred pistoles
each, my Lord."

"How many days would it require to make two studs exactly like
them? You see there are two wanting."

"Eight days, my Lord."

"I will give you three thousand pistoles apiece if I can have
them by the day after tomorrow."

"My Lord, they shall be yours."

"You are a jewel of a man, Mr. O'Reilly; but that is not all.
These studs cannot be trusted to anybody; it must be done in the

"Impossible, my Lord! There is no one but myself can so execute
them that one cannot tell the new from the old."

"Therefore, my dear Mr. O'Reilly, you are my prisoner. And if
you wish ever to leave my palace, you cannot; so make the best of
it. Name to me such of your workmen as you need, and point out
the tools they must bring."

The goldsmith knew the duke. He knew all objection would be
useless, and instantly determined how to act.

"May I be permitted to inform my wife?" said he.

"Oh, you may even see her if you like, my dear Mr. O'Reilly.
Your captivity shall be mild, be assured; and as every
inconvenience deserves its indemnification, here is, in addition
to the price of the studs, an order for a thousand pistoles, to
make you forget the annoyance I cause you."

D'Artagnan could not get over the surprise created in him by this
minister, who thus open-handed, sported with men and millions.

As to the goldsmith, he wrote to his wife, sending her the order
for the thousand pistoles, and charging her to send him, in
exchange, his most skillful apprentice, an assortment of
diamonds, of which he gave the names and the weight, and the
necessary tools.

Buckingham conducted the goldsmith to the chamber destined for
him, and which, at the end of half an hour, was transformed into
a workshop. Then he placed a sentinel at each door, with an
order to admit nobody upon any pretense but his VALET DE CHAMBRE,
Patrick. We need not add that the goldsmith, O'Reilly, and his
assistant, were prohibited from going out under any pretext.
This point, settled, the duke turned to d'Artagnan. "Now, my
young friend," said he, "England is all our own. What do you
wish for? What do you desire?"

"A bed, my Lord," replied d'Artagnan. "At present, I confess,
that is the thing I stand most in need of."

Buckingham gave d'Artagnan a chamber adjoining his own. He
wished to have the young man at hand--not that he at all
mistrusted him, but for the sake of having someone to whom he
could constantly talk of the queen.

In one hour after, the ordinance was published in London that no
vessel bound for France should leave port, not even the packet
boat with letters. In the eyes of everybody this was a
declaration of war between the two kingdoms.

On the day after the morrow, by eleven o'clock, the two diamond
studs were finished, and they were so completely imitated, so
perfectly alike, that Buckingham could not tell the new ones from
the old ones, and experts in such matters would have been
deceived as he was. He immediately called d'Artagnan. "Here,"
said he to him, "are the diamond studs that you came to bring;
and be my witness that I have done all that human power could

"Be satisfied, my Lord, I will tell all that I have seen. But
does your Grace mean to give me the studs without the casket?"

"The casket would encumber you. Besides, the casket is the more
precious from being all that is left to me. You will say that I
keep it."

"I will perform your commission, word for word, my Lord."

"And now," resumed Buckingham, looking earnestly at the young
man, "how shall I ever acquit myself of the debt I owe you?"

D'Artagnan blushed up to the whites of his eyes. He saw that the
duke was searching for a means of making him accept something and
the idea that the blood of his friends and himself was about to
be paid for with English gold was strangely repugnant to him.

"Let us understand each other, my Lord," replied d'Artagnan, "and
let us make things clear beforehand in order that there may be no
mistake. I am in the service of the King and Queen of France,
and form part of the company of Monsieur Dessessart, who, as well
as his brother-in-law, Monsieur de Treville, is particularly
attached to their Majesties. What I have done, then, has been
for the queen, and not at all for your Grace. And still further,
it is very probable I should not have done anything of this, if
it had not been to make myself agreeable to someone who is my
lady, as the queen is yours."

"Yes," said the duke, smiling, "and I even believe that I know
that other person; it is--"

"My Lord, I have not named her!" interrupted the young man,

"That is true," said the duke; "and it is to this person I am
bound to discharge my debt of gratitude."

"You have said, my Lord; for truly, at this moment when there is
question of war, I confess to you that I see nothing in your
Grace but an Englishman, and consequently an enemy whom I should
have much greater pleasure in meeting on the field of battle than
in the park at Windsor or the corridors of the Louvre--all which,
however, will not prevent me from executing to the very point my
commission or from laying down my life, if there be need of it,
to accomplish it; but I repeat it to your Grace, without your
having personally on that account more to thank me for in this
second interview than for what I did for you in the first."

"We say, 'Proud as a Scotsman,'" murmured the Duke of Buckingham.

"And we say, 'Proud as a Gascon,'" replied d'Artagnan. "The
Gascons are the Scots of France."

D'Artagnan bowed to the duke, and was retiring.

"Well, are you going away in that manner? Where, and how?"

"That's true!"

"Fore Gad, these Frenchmen have no consideration!"

"I had forgotten that England was an island, and that you were
the king of it."

"Go to the riverside, ask for the brig SUND, and give this letter
to the captain; he will convey you to a little port, where
certainly you are not expected, and which is ordinarily only
frequented by fishermen."

"The name of that port?"

"St. Valery; but listen. When you have arrived there you will go
to a mean tavern, without a name and without a sign--a mere
fisherman's hut. You cannot be mistaken; there is but one."


"You will ask for the host, and will repeat to him the word

"Which means?"

"In French, EN AVANT. It is the password. He will give you a
horse all saddled, and will point out to you the road you ought
to take. You will find, in the same way, four relays on your
route. If you will give at each of these relays your address in
Paris, the four horses will follow you thither. You already know
two of them, and you appeared to appreciate them like a judge.
They were those we rode on; and you may rely upon me for the
others not being inferior to them. These horses are equipped for
the field. However proud you may be, you will not refuse to
accept one of them, and to request your three companions to
accept the others--that is, in order to make war against us.
Besides, the end justified the means, as you Frenchmen say, does
it not?"

"Yes, my Lord, I accept them," said d'Artagnan; "and if it please
God, we will make a good use of your presents."

"Well, now, your hand, young man. Perhaps we shall soon meet on
the field of battle; but in the meantime we shall part good
friends, I hope."

"Yes, my Lord; but with the hope of soon becoming enemies."

"Be satisfied; I promise you that."

"I depend upon your word, my Lord."

D'Artagnan bowed to the duke, and made his way as quickly as
possible to the riverside. Opposite the Tower of London he found
the vessel that had been named to him, delivered his letter to
the captain, who after having it examined by the governor of the
port made immediate preparations to sail.

Fifty vessels were waiting to set out. Passing alongside one of
them, d'Artagnan fancied he perceived on board it the woman of
Meung--the same whom the unknown gentleman had called Milady, and
whom d'Artagnan had thought so handsome; but thanks to the
current of the stream and a fair wind, his vessel passed so
quickly that he had little more than a glimpse of her.

The next day about nine o'clock in the morning, he landed at St.
Valery. D'Artagnan went instantly in search of the inn, and
easily discovered it by the riotous noise which resounded from
it. War between England and France was talked of as near and
certain, and the jolly sailors were having a carousal.

D'Artagnan made his way through the crowd, advanced toward the
host, and pronounced the word "Forward!" The host instantly made
him a sign to follow, went out with him by a door which opened
into a yard, led him to the stable, where a saddled horse awaited
him, and asked him if he stood in need of anything else.

"I want to know the route I am to follow," said d'Artagnan.

"Go from hence to Blangy, and from Blangy to Neufchatel. At
Neufchatel, go to the tavern of the Golden Harrow, give the
password to the landlord, and you will find, as you have here, a
horse ready saddled."

"Have I anything to pay?" demanded d'Artagnan.

"Everything is paid," replied the host, "and liberally. Begone,
and may God guide you!"

"Amen!" cried the young man, and set off at full gallop.

Four hours later he was in Neufchatel. He strictly followed the
instructions he had received. At Neufchatel, as at St. Valery,
he found a horse quite ready and awaiting him. He was about to
remove the pistols from the saddle he had quit to the one he was
about to fill, but he found the holsters furnished with similar

"Your address at Paris?"

"Hotel of the Guards, company of Dessessart."

"Enough," replied the questioner.

"Which route must I take?" demanded d'Artagnan, in his turn.

"That of Rouen; but you will leave the city on your right. You
must stop at the little village of Eccuis, in which there is but
one tavern--the Shield of France. Don't condemn it from
appearances; you will find a horse in the stables quite as good
as this."

"The same password?"


"Adieu, master!"

"A good journey, gentlemen! Do you want anything?"

D'Artagnan shook his head, and set off at full speed. At Eccuis,
the same scene was repeated. He found as provident a host and a
fresh horse. He left his address as he had done before, and set
off again at the same pace for Pontoise. At Pontoise he changed
his horse for the last time, and at nine o'clock galloped into
the yard of Treville's hotel. He had made nearly sixty leagues
in little more than twelve hours.

M. de Treville received him as if he had seen him that same
morning; only, when pressing his hand a little more warmly than
usual, he informed him that the company of Dessessart was on duty
at the Louvre, and that he might repair at once to his post.


On the morrow, nothing was talked of in Paris but the ball which
the aldermen of the city were to give to the king and queen, and
in which their Majesties were to dance the famous La Merlaison--
the favorite ballet of the king.

Eight days had been occupied in preparations at the Hotel de
Ville for this important evening. The city carpenters had
erected scaffolds upon which the invited ladies were to be
placed; the city grocer had ornamented the chambers with two
hundred FLAMBEAUX of white wax, a piece of luxury unheard of at
that period; and twenty violins were ordered, and the price for
them fixed at double the usual rate, upon condition, said the
report, that they should be played all night.

At ten o'clock in the morning the Sieur de la Coste, ensign in
the king's Guards, followed by two officers and several archers
of that body, came to the city registrar, named Clement, and
demanded of him all the keys of the rooms and offices of the
hotel. These keys were given up to him instantly. Each of them
had ticket attached to it, by which it might be recognized; and
from that moment the Sieur de la Coste was charged with the care
of all the doors and all the avenues.

At eleven o'clock came in his turn Duhallier, captain of the
Guards, bringing with him fifty archers, who were distributed
immediately through the Hotel de Ville, at the doors assigned

At three o'clock came two companies of the Guards, one French,
the other Swiss. The company of French guards was composed of
half of M. Duhallier's men and half of M. Dessessart's men.

At six in the evening the guests began to come. As fast as they
entered, they were placed in the grand saloon, on the platforms
prepared for them.

At nine o'clock Madame la Premiere Presidente arrived. As next
to the queen, she was the most considerable personage of the
fete, she was received by the city officials, and placed in a box
opposite to that which the queen was to occupy.

At ten o'clock, the king's collation, consisting of preserves and
other delicacies, was prepared in the little room on the side of
the church of St. Jean, in front of the silver buffet of the
city, which was guarded by four archers.

At midnight great cries and loud acclamations were heard. It was
the king, who was passing through the streets which led from the
Louvre to the Hotel de Ville, and which were all illuminated with
colored lanterns.

Immediately the aldermen, clothed in their cloth robes and
preceded by six sergeants, each holding a FLAMBEAU in his hand,
went to attend upon the king, whom they met on the steps, where
the provost of the merchants made him the speech of welcome--a
compliment to which his Majesty replied with an apology for
coming so late, laying the blame upon the cardinal, who had
detained him till eleven o'clock, talking of affairs of state.

His Majesty, in full dress, was accompanied by his royal
Highness, M. le Comte de Soissons, by the Grand Prior, by the Duc
de Longueville, by the Duc d'Euboeuf, by the Comte d'Harcourt, by
the Comte de la Roche-Guyon, by M. de Liancourt, by M. de
Baradas, by the Comte de Cramail, and by the Chevalier de
Souveray. Everybody noticed that the king looked dull and

A private room had been prepared for the king and another for
Monsieur. In each of these closets were placed masquerade
dresses. The same had been done for the queen and Madame the
President. The nobles and ladies of their Majesties' suites were
to dress, two by two, in chambers prepared for the purpose.
Before entering his closet the king desired to be informed the
moment the cardinal arrived.

Half an hour after the entrance of the king, fresh acclamations
were heard; these announced the arrival of the queen. The
aldermen did as they had done before, and preceded by their
sergeants, advanced to receive their illustrious guest. The
queen entered the great hall; and it was remarked that, like the
king, she looked dull and even weary.

At the moment she entered, the curtain of a small gallery which
to that time had been closed, was drawn, and the pale face of the
cardinal appeared, he being dressed as a Spanish cavalier. His
eyes were fixed upon those of the queen, and a smile of terrible
joy passed over his lips; the queen did not wear her diamond

The queen remained for a short time to receive the compliments of
the city dignitaries and to reply to the salutations of the
ladies. All at once the king appeared with the cardinal at one
of the doors of the hall. The cardinal was speaking to him in a
low voice, and the king was very pale.

The king made his way through the crowd without a mask, and the
ribbons of his doublet scarcely tied. He went straight to the
queen, and in an altered voice said, "Why, madame, have you not
thought proper to wear your diamond studs, when you know it would
give me so much gratification?"

The queen cast a glance around her, and saw the cardinal behind,
with a diabolical smile on his countenance.

"Sire," replied the queen, with a faltering voice, "because, in
the midst of such a crowd as this, I feared some accident might
happen to them."

"And you were wrong, madame. If I made you that present it was
that you might adorn yourself therewith. I tell you that you
were wrong."

The voice of the king was tremulous with anger. Everybody looked
and listened with astonishment, comprehending nothing of what

"Sire," said the queen, "I can send for them to the Louvre, where
they are, and thus your Majesty's wishes will be complied with."

"Do so, madame, do so, and that at once; for within an hour the
ballet will commence."

The queen bent in token of submission, and followed the ladies
who were to conduct her to her room. On his part the king
returned to his apartment.

There was a moment of trouble and confusion in the assembly.
Everybody had remarked that something had passed between the king
and queen; but both of them had spoken so low that everybody, out
of respect, withdrew several steps, so that nobody had heard
anything. The violins began to sound with all their might, but
nobody listened to them.

The king came out first from his room. He was in a most elegant
hunting costume; and Monsieur and the other nobles were dressed
like him. This was the costume that best became the king. So
dressed, he really appeared the first gentleman of his kingdom.

The cardinal drew near to the king, and placed in his hand a
small casket. The king opened it, and found in it two diamond

"What does this mean?" demanded he of the cardinal.

"Nothing," replied the latter; "only, if the queen has the studs,
which I very much doubt, count them, sire, and if you only find
ten, ask her Majesty who can have stolen from her the two studs
that are here."

The king looked at the cardinal as if to interrogate him; but he
had not time to address any question to him--a cry of admiration
burst from every mouth. If the king appeared to be the first
gentleman of his kingdom, the queen was without doubt the most
beautiful woman in France.

It is true that the habit of a huntress became her admirably.
She wore a beaver hat with blue feathers, a surtout of gray-pearl
velvet, fastened with diamond clasps, and a petticoat of blue
satin, embroidered with silver. On her left shoulder sparkled
the diamonds studs, on a bow of the same color as the plumes and
the petticoat.

The king trembled with joy and the cardinal with vexation;
although, distant as they were from the queen, they could not
count the studs. The queen had them. The only question was, had
she ten or twelve?

At that moment the violins sounded the signal for the ballet.
The king advanced toward Madame the President, with whom he was
to dance, and his Highness Monsieur with the queen. They took
their places, and the ballet began.

The king danced facing the queen, and every time he passed by
her, he devoured with his eyes those studs of which he could not
ascertain the number. A cold sweat covered the brow of the

The ballet lasted an hour, and had sixteen ENTREES. The ballet
ended amid the applause of the whole assemblage, and everyone
reconducted his lady to her place; but the king took advantage of
the privilege he had of leaving his lady, to advance eagerly
toward the queen.

"I thank you, madame," said he, "for the deference you have shown
to my wishes, but I think you want two of the studs, and I bring
them back to you."

With these words he held out to the queen the two studs the
cardinal had given him.

"How, sire?" cried the young queen, affecting surprise, "you are
giving me, then, two more: I shall have fourteen."

In fact the king counted them, and the twelve studs were all on
her Majesty's shoulder.

The king called the cardinal.

"What does this mean, Monsieur Cardinal?" asked the king in a
severe tone.

"This means, sire," replied the cardinal, "that I was desirous of
presenting her Majesty with these two studs, and that not daring
to offer them myself, I adopted this means of inducing her to
accept them."

"And I am the more grateful to your Eminence," replied Anne of
Austria, with a smile that proved she was not the dupe of this
ingenious gallantry, "from being certain that these two studs
alone have cost you as much as all the others cost his Majesty."

Then saluting the king and the cardinal, the queen resumed her
way to the chamber in which she had dressed, and where she was to
take off her costume.

The attention which we have been obliged to give, during the
commencement of the chapter, to the illustrious personages we
have introduced into it, has diverted us for an instant from him
to whom Anne of Austria owed the extraordinary triumph she had
obtained over the cardinal; and who, confounded, unknown, lost in
the crowd gathered at one of the doors, looked on at this scene,
comprehensible only to four persons--the king, the queen, his
Eminence, and himself.

The queen had just regained her chamber, and d'Artagnan was about
to retire, when he felt his shoulder lightly touched. He turned
and saw a young woman, who made him a sign to follow her. The
face of this young woman was covered with a black velvet mask;
but notwithstanding this precaution, which was in fact taken
rather against others than against him, he at once recognized his
usual guide, the light and intelligent Mme. Bonacieux.

On the evening before, they had scarcely seen each other for a
moment at the apartment of the Swiss guard, Germain, whither
d'Artagnan had sent for her. The haste which the young woman was
in to convey to the queen the excellent news of the happy return
of her messenger prevented the two lovers from exchanging more
than a few words. D'Artagnan therefore followed Mme. Bonacieux
moved by a double sentiment--love and curiosity. All the way,
and in proportion as the corridors became more deserted,
d'Artagnan wished to stop the young woman, seize her and gaze
upon her, were it only for a minute; but quick as a bird she
glided between his hands, and when he wished to speak to her, her
finger placed upon her mouth, with a little imperative gesture
full of grace, reminded him that he was under the command of a
power which he must blindly obey, and which forbade him even to
make the slightest complaint. At length, after winding about for
a minute or two, Mme. Bonacieux opened the door of a closet,
which was entirely dark, and led d'Artagnan into it. There she
made a fresh sign of silence, and opened a second door concealed
by tapestry. The opening of this door disclosed a brilliant
light, and she disappeared.

D'Artagnan remained for a moment motionless, asking himself where
he could be; but soon a ray of light which penetrated through the
chamber, together with the warm and perfumed air which reached
him from the same aperture, the conversation of two of three
ladies in language at once respectful and refined, and the word
"Majesty" several times repeated, indicated clearly that he was
in a closet attached to the queen's apartment. The young man
waited in comparative darkness and listened.

The queen appeared cheerful and happy, which seemed to astonish
the persons who surrounded her and who were accustomed to see her
almost always sad and full of care. The queen attributed this
joyous feeling to the beauty of the fete, to the pleasure she had
experienced in the ballet; and as it is not permissible to
contradict a queen, whether she smile or weep, everybody
expatiated on the gallantry of the aldermen of the city of Paris.

Although d'Artagnan did not at all know the queen, he soon
distinguished her voice from the others, at first by a slightly
foreign accent, and next by that tone of domination naturally
impressed upon all royal words. He heard her approach and
withdraw from the partially open door; and twice or three times
he even saw the shadow of a person intercept the light.

At length a hand and an arm, surpassingly beautiful in their form
and whiteness, glided through the tapestry. D'Artagnan at once
comprehended that this was his recompense. He cast himself on
his knees, seized the hand, and touched it respectfully with his
lips. Then the hand was withdrawn, leaving in his an object
which he perceived to be a ring. The door immediately closed,
and d'Artagnan found himself again in complete obscurity.

D'Artagnan placed the ring on his finger, and again waited; it
was evident that all was not yet over. After the reward of his
devotion, that of his love was to come. Besides, although the
ballet was danced, the evening had scarcely begun. Supper was to
be served at three, and the clock of St. Jean had struck three
quarters past two.

The sound of voices diminished by degrees in the adjoining
chamber. The company was then heard departing; then the door of
the closet in which d'Artagnan was, was opened, and Mme.
Bonacieux entered.

"You at last?" cried d'Artagnan.

"Silence!" said the young woman, placing her hand upon his lips;
"silence, and go the same way you came!"

"But where and when shall I see you again?" cried d'Artagnan.

"A note which you will find at home will tell you. Begone,

At these words she opened the door of the corridor, and pushed
d'Artagnan out of the room. D'Artagnan obeyed like a child,
without the least resistance or objection, which proved that he
was really in love.


D'Artagnan ran home immediately, and although it was three
o'clock in the morning and he had some of the worst quarters of
Paris to traverse, he met with no misadventure. Everyone knows
that drunkards and lovers have a protecting deity.

He found the door of his passage open, sprang up the stairs and
knocked softly in a manner agreed upon between him and his
lackey. Planchet*, whom he had sent home two hours before from
the Hotel de Ville, telling him to sit up for him, opened the
door for him.

*The reader may ask, "How came Planchet here?" when he was left
"stiff as a rush" in London. In the intervening time Buckingham
perhaps sent him to Paris, as he did the horses.

"Has anyone brought a letter for me?" asked d'Artagnan, eagerly.

"No one has BROUGHT a letter, monsieur," replied Planchet; "but
one has come of itself."

"What do you mean, blockhead?"

"I mean to say that when I came in, although I had the key of
your apartment in my pocket, and that key had never quit me, I
found a letter on the green table cover in your bedroom."

"And where is that letter?"

"I left it where I found it, monsieur. It is not natural for
letters to enter people's houses in this manner. If the window
had been open or even ajar, I should think nothing of it; but,
no--all was hermetically sealed. Beware, monsieur; there is
certainly some magic underneath."

Meanwhile, the young man had darted in to his chamber, and opened
the letter. It was from Mme. Bonacieux, and was expressed in
these terms:

"There are many thanks to be offered to you, and to be
transmitted to you. Be this evening about ten o'clock at St.
Cloud, in front of the pavilion which stands at the corner of the
house of M. d'Estrees.--C.B."

While reading this letter, d'Artagnan felt his heart dilated and
compressed by that delicious spasm which tortures and caresses
the hearts of lovers.

It was the first billet he had received; it was the first
rendezvous that had been granted him. His heart, swelled by the
intoxication of joy, felt ready to dissolve away at the very gate
of that terrestrial paradise called Love!

"Well, monsieur," said Planchet, who had observed his master grow
red and pale successively, "did I not guess truly? Is it not
some bad affair?"

"You are mistaken, Planchet," replied d'Artagnan; "and as a
proof, there is a crown to drink my health."

"I am much obliged to Monsieur for the crown he had given me, and
I promise him to follow his instructions exactly; but it is not
the less true that letters which come in this way into shut-up

"Fall from heaven, my friend, fall from heaven."

"Then Monsieur is satisfied?" asked Planchet.

"My dear Planchet, I am the happiest of men!"

"And I may profit by Monsieur's happiness, and go to bed?"

"Yes, go."

"May the blessings of heaven fall upon Monsieur! But it is not
the less true that that letter--"

And Planchet retired, shaking his head with an air of doubt,
which the liberality of d'Artagnan had not entirely effaced.

Left alone, d'Artagnan read and reread his billet. Then he
kissed and rekissed twenty times the lines traced by the hand of
his beautiful mistress. At length he went to bed, fell asleep,
and had golden dreams.

At seven o'clock in the morning he arose and called Planchet, who
at the second summons opened the door, his countenance not yet
quite freed from the anxiety of the preceding night.

"Planchet," said d'Artagnan, "I am going out for all day,
perhaps. You are, therefore, your own master till seven o'clock
in the evening; but at seven o'clock you must hold yourself in
readiness with two horses."

"There!" said Planchet. "We are going again, it appears, to have
our hides pierced in all sorts of ways."

"You will take your musketoon and your pistols."

"There, now! Didn't I say so?" cried Planchet. "I was sure of
it--the cursed letter!"

"Don't be afraid, you idiot; there is nothing in hand but a party
of pleasure."

"Ah, like the charming journey the other day, when it rained
bullets and produced a crop of steel traps!"

"Well, if you are really afraid, Monsieur Planchet," resumed
d'Artagnan, "I will go without you. I prefer traveling alone to
having a companion who entertains the least fear."

"Monsieur does me wrong," said Planchet; "I thought he had seen
me at work."

"Yes, but I thought perhaps you had worn out all your courage the
first time."

"Monsieur shall see that upon occasion I have some left; only I
beg Monsieur not to be too prodigal of it if he wishes it to last

"Do you believe you have still a certain amount of it to expend
this evening?"

"I hope so, monsieur."

"Well, then, I count on you."

"At the appointed hour I shall be ready; only I believed that
Monsieur had but one horse in the Guard stables."

"Perhaps there is but one at this moment; but by this evening
there will be four."

"It appears that our journey was a remounting journey, then?"

"Exactly so," said d'Artagnan; and nodding to Planchet, he went

M. Bonacieux was at his door. D'Artagnan's intention was to go
out without speaking to the worthy mercer; but the latter made so
polite and friendly a salutation that his tenant felt obliged,
not only to stop, but to enter into conversation with him.

Besides, how is it possible to avoid a little condescension
toward a husband whose pretty wife has appointed a meeting with
you that same evening at St. Cloud, opposite D'Estrees's
pavilion? D'Artagnan approached him with the most amiable air he
could assume.

The conversation naturally fell upon the incarceration of the
poor man. M. Bonacieux, who was ignorant that d'Artagnan had
overheard his conversation with the stranger of Meung, related to
his young tenant the persecutions of that monster, M. de
Laffemas, whom he never ceased to designate, during his account,
by the title of the "cardinal's executioner," and expatiated at
great length upon the Bastille, the bolts, the wickets, the
dungeons, the gratings, the instruments of torture.

D'Artagnan listened to him with exemplary complaisance, and when
he had finished said, "And Madame Bonacieux, do you know who
carried her off?--For I do not forget that I owe to that
unpleasant circumstance the good fortune of having made your

"Ah!" said Bonacieux, "they took good care not to tell me that;
and my wife, on her part, has sworn to me by all that's sacred
that she does not know. But you," continued M. Bonacieux, in a
tine of perfect good fellowship, "what has become of you all
these days? I have not seen you nor your friends, and I don't
think you could gather all that dust that I saw Planchet brush
off your boots yesterday from the pavement of Paris."

"You are right, my dear Monsieur Bonacieux, my friends and I have
been on a little journey."

"Far from here?"

"Oh, Lord, no! About forty leagues only. We went to take
Monsieur Athos to the waters of Forges, where my friends still

"And you have returned, have you not?" replied M. Bonacieux,
giving to his countenance a most sly air. "A handsome young
fellow like you does not obtain long leaves of absence from his
mistress; and we were impatiently waited for at Paris, were we

"My faith!" said the young man, laughing, "I confess it, and so
much more the readily, my dear Bonacieux, as I see there is no
concealing anything from you. Yes, I was expected, and very
impatiently, I acknowledge."

A slight shade passed over the brow of Bonacieux, but so slight
that d'Artagnan did not perceive it.

"And we are going to be recompensed for our diligence?" continued
the mercer, with a trifling alteration in his voice--so trifling,
indeed, that d'Artagnan did not perceive it any more than he had
the momentary shade which, an instant before, had darkened the
countenance of the worthy man.

"Ah, may you be a true prophet!" said d'Artagnan, laughing.

"No; what I say," replied Bonacieux, "is only that I may know
whether I am delaying you."

"Why that question, my dear host?" asked d'Artagnan. "Do you
intend to sit up for me?"

"No; but since my arrest and the robbery that was committed in my
house, I am alarmed every time I hear a door open, particularly
in the night. What the deuce can you expect? I am no

"Well, don't be alarmed if I return at one, two or three o'clock
in the morning; indeed, do not be alarmed if I do not come at

This time Bonacieux became so pale that d'Artagnan could not help
perceiving it, and asked him what was the matter.

"Nothing," replied Bonacieux, "nothing. Since my misfortunes I
have been subject to faintnesses, which seize me all at once, and
I have just felt a cold shiver. Pay no attention to it; you have
nothing to occupy yourself with but being happy."

"Then I have full occupation, for I am so."

"Not yet; wait a little! This evening, you said."

"Well, this evening will come, thank God! And perhaps you look
for it with as much impatience as I do; perhaps this evening
Madame Bonacieux will visit the conjugal domicile."

"Madame Bonacieux is not at liberty this evening," replied the
husband, seriously; "she is detained at the Louvre this evening
by her duties."

"So much the worse for you, my dear host, so much the worse!
When I am happy, I wish all the world to be so; but it appears
that is not possible."

The young man departed, laughing at the joke, which he thought he
alone could comprehend.

"Amuse yourself well!" replied Bonacieux, in a sepulchral tone.

But d'Artagnan was too far off to hear him; and if he had heard
him in the disposition of mind he then enjoyed, he certainly
would not have remarked it.

He took his way toward the hotel of M. de Treville; his visit of
the day before, it is to be remembered, had been very short and
very little explicative.

He found Treville in a joyful mood. He had thought the king and
queen charming at the ball. It is true the cardinal had been
particularly ill-tempered. He had retired at one o'clock under
the pretense of being indisposed. As to their Majesties, they
did not return to the Louvre till six o'clock in the morning.

"Now," said Treville, lowering his voice, and looking into every
corner of the apartment to see if they were alone, "now let us
talk about yourself, my young friend; for it is evident that your
happy return has something to do with the joy of the king, the
triumph of the queen, and the humiliation of his Eminence. You
must look out for yourself."

"What have I to fear," replied d'Artagnan, "as long as I shall
have the luck to enjoy the favor of their Majesties?"

"Everything, believe me. The cardinal is not the man to forget a
mystification until he has settled account with the mystifier;
and the mystifier appears to me to have the air of being a
certain young Gascon of my acquaintance."

"Do you believe that the cardinal is as well posted as yourself,
and knows that I have been to London?"

"The devil! You have been to London! Was it from London you
brought that beautiful diamond that glitters on your finger?
Beware, my dear d'Artagnan! A present from an enemy is not a
good thing. Are there not some Latin verses upon that subject?

"Yes, doubtless," replied d'Artagnan, who had never been able to
cram the first rudiments of that language into his head, and who
had by his ignorance driven his master to despair, "yes,
doubtless there is one."

"There certainly is one," said M. de Treville, who had a tincture
of literature, "and Monsieur de Benserade was quoting it to me
the other day. Stop a minute--ah, this is it: 'Timeo Danaos et
dona ferentes,' which means, 'Beware of the enemy who makes you

"This diamond does not come from an enemy, monsieur," replied
d'Artagnan, "it comes from the queen."

"From the queen! Oh, oh!" said M. de Treville. "Why, it is
indeed a true royal jewel, which is worth a thousand pistoles if
it is worth a denier. By whom did the queen send you this

"She gave it to me herself."


"In the room adjoining the chamber in which she changed her


"Giving me her hand to kiss."

"You have kissed the queen's hand?" said M. de Treville, looking
earnestly at d'Artagnan.

"Her Majesty did me the honor to grant me that favor."

"And that in the presence of witnesses! Imprudent, thrice

"No, monsieur, be satisfied; nobody saw her," replied d'Artagnan,
and he related to M. de Treville how the affair came to pass.

"Oh, the women, the women!" cried the old soldier. "I know them
by their romantic imagination. Everything that savors of mystery
charms them. So you have seen the arm, that was all. You would
meet the queen, and she would not know who you are?"

"No; but thanks to this diamond," replied the young man.

"Listen," said M. de Treville; "shall I give you counsel, good
counsel, the counsel of a friend?"

"You will do me honor, monsieur," said d'Artagnan.

"Well, then, off to the nearest goldsmith's, and sell that
diamond for the highest price you can get from him. However much
of a Jew he may be, he will give you at least eight hundred
pistoles. Pistoles have no name, young man, and that ring has a
terrible one, which may betray him who wears it."

"Sell this ring, a ring which comes from my sovereign? Never!"
said d'Artagnan.

"Then, at least turn the gem inside, you silly fellow; for
everybody must be aware that a cadet from Gascony does not find
such stones in his mother's jewel case."

"You think, then, I have something to dread?" asked d'Artagnan.

"I mean to say, young man, that he who sleeps over a mine the
match of which is already lighted, may consider himself in safety
in comparison with you."

"The devil!" said d'Artagnan, whom the positive tone of M. de
Treville began to disquiet, "the devil! What must I do?"

"Above all things be always on your guard. The cardinal has a
tenacious memory and a long arm; you may depend upon it, he will
repay you by some ill turn."

"But of what sort?"

"Eh! How can I tell? Has he not all the tricks of a demon at
his command? The least that can be expected is that you will be

"What! Will they dare to arrest a man in his Majesty's service?"

"PARDIEU! They did not scruple much in the case of Athos. At
all events, young man, rely upon one who has been thirty years at
court. Do not lull yourself in security, or you will be lost;
but, on the contrary--and it is I who say it--see enemies in all
directions. If anyone seeks a quarrel with you, shun it, were it
with a child of ten years old. If you are attacked by day or by
night, fight, but retreat, without shame; if you cross a bridge,
feel every plank of it with your foot, lest one should give way
beneath you; if you pass before a house which is being built,
look up, for fear a stone should fall upon your head; if you stay
out late, be always followed by your lackey, and let your lackey
be armed--if, by the by, you can be sure of your lackey.
Mistrust everybody, your friend, your brother, your mistress--
your mistress above all."

D'Artagnan blushed.

"My mistress above all," repeated he, mechanically; "and why her
rather than another?"

"Because a mistress is one of the cardinal's favorite means; he
has not one that is more expeditious. A woman will sell you for
ten pistoles, witness Delilah. You are acquainted with the

D'Artagnan thought of the appointment Mme. Bonacieux had made
with him for that very evening; but we are bound to say, to the
credit of our hero, that the bad opinion entertained by M. de
Treville of women in general, did not inspire him with the least
suspicion of his pretty hostess.

"But, A PROPOS," resumed M. de Treville, "what has become of your
three companions?"

"I was about to ask you if you had heard any news of them?"

"None, monsieur."

"Well, I left them on my road--Porthos at Chantilly, with a duel
on his hands; Aramis at Crevecoeur, with a ball in his shoulder;
and Athos at Amiens, detained by an accusation of coining."

"See there, now!" said M. de Treville; "and how the devil did you

"By a miracle, monsieur, I must acknowledge, with a sword thrust
in my breast, and by nailing the Comte de Wardes on the byroad to
Calais, like a butterfly on a tapestry."

"There again! De Wardes, one of the cardinal's men, a cousin of
Rochefort! Stop, my friend, I have an idea."

"Speak, monsieur."

"In your place, I would do one thing."


"While his Eminence was seeking for me in Paris, I would take,
without sound of drum or trumpet, the road to Picardy, and would
go and make some inquiries concerning my three companions. What
the devil! They merit richly that piece of attention on your

"The advice is good, monsieur, and tomorrow I will set out."

"Tomorrow! Any why not this evening?"

"This evening, monsieur, I am detained in Paris by indispensable

"Ah, young man, young man, some flirtation or other. Take care,
I repeat to you, take care. It is woman who has ruined us, still
ruins us, and will ruin us, as long as the world stands. Take my
advice and set out this evening."

"Impossible, monsieur."

"You have given your word, then?"

"Yes, monsieur."

"Ah, that's quite another thing; but promise me, if you should
not be killed tonight, that you will go tomorrow."

"I promise it."

"Do you need money?"

"I have still fifty pistoles. That, I think, is as much as I
shall want."

"But your companions?"

"I don't think they can be in need of any. We left Paris, each
with seventy-five pistoles in his pocket."

"Shall I see you again before your departure?"

"I think not, monsieur, unless something new should happen."

"Well, a pleasant journey."

"Thanks, monsieur."

D'Artagnan left M. de Treville, touched more than ever by his
paternal solicitude for his Musketeers.

He called successively at the abodes of Athos, Porthos, and
Aramis. Neither of them had returned. Their lackeys likewise
were absent, and nothing had been heard of either the one or the
other. He would have inquired after them of their mistresses,
but he was neither acquainted with Porthos's nor Aramis's, and as
to Athos, he had none.

As he passed the Hotel des Gardes, he took a glance in to the
stables. Three of the four horses had already arrived.
Planchet, all astonishment, was busy grooming them, and had
already finished two.

"Ah, monsieur," said Planchet, on perceiving d'Artagnan, "how
glad I am to see you."

"Why so, Planchet?" asked the young man.

"Do you place confidence in our landlord--Monsieur Bonacieux?"

"I? Not the least in the world."

"Oh, you do quite right, monsieur."

"But why this question?"

"Because, while you were talking with him, I watched you without
listening to you; and, monsieur, his countenance changed color
two or three times!"


"Preoccupied as Monsieur was with the letter he had received, he
did not observe that; but I, whom the strange fashion in which
that letter came into the house had placed on my guard--I did not
lose a movement of his features."

"And you found it?"

"Traitorous, monsieur."


"Still more; as soon as Monsieur had left and disappeared round
the corner of the street, Monsieur Bonacieux took his hat, shut
his door, and set off at a quick pace in an opposite direction."

"It seems you are right, Planchet; all this appears to be a
little mysterious; and be assured that we will not pay him our
rent until the matter shall be categorically explained to us."

"Monsieur jests, but Monsieur will see."

"What would you have, Planchet? What must come is written."

"Monsieur does not then renounce his excursion for this evening?"

"Quite the contrary, Planchet; the more ill will I have toward
Monsieur Bonacieux, the more punctual I shall be in keeping the
appointment made by that letter which makes you so uneasy."

"Then that is Monsieur's determination?"

"Undeniably, my friend. At nine o'clock, then, be ready here at
the hotel, I will come and take you."

Planchet seeing there was no longer any hope of making his master
renounce his project, heaved a profound sigh and set to work to
groom the third horse.

As to d'Artagnan, being at bottom a prudent youth, instead of
returning home, went and dined with the Gascon priest, who, at
the time of the distress of the four friends, had given them a
breakfast of chocolate.


At nine o'clock d'Artagnan was at the Hotel des Gardes; he found
Planchet all ready. The fourth horse had arrived.

Planchet was armed with his musketoon and a pistol. D'Artagnan
had his sword and placed two pistols in his belt; then both
mounted and departed quietly. It was quite dark, and no one saw
them go out. Planchet took place behind his master, and kept at
a distance of ten paces from him.

D'Artagnan crossed the quays, went out by the gate of La
Conference and followed the road, much more beautiful then than
it is now, which leads to St. Cloud.

As long as he was in the city, Planchet kept at the respectful
distance he had imposed upon himself; but as soon as the road
began to be more lonely and dark, he drew softly nearer, so that
when they entered the Bois de Boulogne he found himself riding
quite naturally side by side with his master. In fact, we must
not dissemble that the oscillation of the tall trees and the
reflection of the moon in the dark underwood gave him serious
uneasiness. D'Artagnan could not help perceiving that something
more than usual was passing in the mind of his lackey and said,
"Well, Monsieur Planchet, what is the matter with us now?"

"Don't you think, monsieur, that woods are like churches?"

"How so, Planchet?"

"Because we dare not speak aloud in one or the other."

"But why did you not dare to speak aloud, Planchet--because you
are afraid?"

"Afraid of being heard? Yes, monsieur."

"Afraid of being heard! Why, there is nothing improper in our
conversation, my dear Planchet, and no one could find fault with

"Ah, monsieur!" replied Planchet, recurring to his besetting
idea, "that Monsieur Bonacieux has something vicious in his
eyebrows, and something very unpleasant in the play of his lips."

"What the devil makes you think of Bonacieux?"

"Monsieur, we think of what we can, and not of what we will."

"Because you are a coward, Planchet."

"Monsieur, we must not confound prudence with cowardice; prudence
is a virtue."

"And you are very virtuous, are you not, Planchet?"

"Monsieur, is not that the barrel of a musket which glitters
yonder? Had we not better lower our heads?"

"In truth," murmured d'Artagnan, to whom M. de Treville's
recommendation recurred, "this animal will end by making me
afraid." And he put his horse into a trot.

Planchet followed the movements of his master as if he had been
his shadow, and was soon trotting by his side.

"Are we going to continue this pace all night?" asked Planchet.

"No; you are at your journey's end."

"How, monsieur! And you?"

"I am going a few steps farther."

"And Monsieur leaves me here alone?"

"You are afraid, Planchet?"

"No; I only beg leave to observe to Monsieur that the night will
be very cold, that chills bring on rheumatism, and that a lackey
who has the rheumatism makes but a poor servant, particularly to
a master as active as Monsieur."

"Well, if you are cold, Planchet, you can go into one of those
cabarets that you see yonder, and be in waiting for me at the
door by six o'clock in the morning."

"Monsieur, I have eaten and drunk respectfully the crown you gave
me this morning, so that I have not a sou left in case I should

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