Part 7 out of 17
"Here's half a pistole. Tomorrow morning."
D'Artagnan sprang from his horse, threw the bridle to Planchet,
and departed at a quick pace, folding his cloak around him.
"Good Lord, how cold I am!" cried Planchet, as soon as he had
lost sight of his master; and in such haste was he to warm
himself that he went straight to a house set out with all the
attributes of a suburban tavern, and knocked at the door.
In the meantime d'Artagnan, who had plunged into a bypath,
continued his route and reached St. Cloud; but instead of
following the main street he turned behind the chateau, reached a
sort of retired lane, and found himself soon in front of the
pavilion named. It was situated in a very private spot. A high
wall, at the angle of which was the pavilion, ran along one side
of this lane, and on the other was a little garden connected with
a poor cottage which was protected by a hedge from passers-by.
He gained the place appointed, and as no signal had been given
him by which to announce his presence, he waited.
Not the least noise was to be heard; it might be imagined that he
was a hundred miles from the capital. D'Artagnan leaned against
the hedge, after having cast a glance behind it. Beyond that
hedge, that garden, and that cottage, a dark mist enveloped with
its folds that immensity where Paris slept--a vast void from
which glittered a few luminous points, the funeral stars of that
But for d'Artagnan all aspects were clothed happily, all ideas
wore a smile, all shades were diaphanous. The appointed hour was
about to strike. In fact, at the end of a few minutes the belfry
of St. Cloud let fall slowly ten strokes from its sonorous jaws.
There was something melancholy in this brazen voice pouring out
its lamentations in the middle of the night; but each of those
strokes, which made up the expected hour, vibrated harmoniously
to the heart of the young man.
His eyes were fixed upon the little pavilion situated at the
angle of the wall, of which all the windows were closed with
shutters, except one on the first story. Through this window
shone a mild light which silvered the foliage of two or three
linden trees which formed a group outside the park. There could
be no doubt that behind this little window, which threw forth
such friendly beams, the pretty Mme. Bonacieux expected him.
Wrapped in this sweet idea, d'Artagnan waited half an hour
without the least impatience, his eyes fixed upon that charming
little abode of which he could perceive a part of the ceiling
with its gilded moldings, attesting the elegance of the rest of
The belfry of St. Cloud sounded half past ten.
This time, without knowing why, d'Artagnan felt a cold shiver run
through his veins. Perhaps the cold began to affect him, and he
took a perfectly physical sensation for a moral impression.
Then the idea seized him that he had read incorrectly, and that
the appointment was for eleven o'clock. He drew near to the
window, and placing himself so that a ray of light should fall
upon the letter as he held it, he drew it from his pocket and
read it again; but he had not been mistaken, the appointment was
for ten o'clock. He went and resumed his post, beginning to be
rather uneasy at this silence and this solitude.
Eleven o'clock sounded.
D'Artagnan began now really to fear that something had happened
to Mme. Bonacieux. He clapped his hands three times--the
ordinary signal of lovers; but nobody replied to him, not even an
He then thought, with a touch of vexation, that perhaps the young
woman had fallen asleep while waiting for him. He approached the
wall, and tried to climb it; but the wall had been recently
pointed, and d'Artagnan could get no hold.
At that moment he thought of the trees, upon whose leaves the
light still shone; and as one of them drooped over the road, he
thought that from its branches he might get a glimpse of the
interior of the pavilion.
The tree was easy to climb. Besides, d'Artagnan was but twenty
years old, and consequently had not yet forgotten his schoolboy
habits. In an instant he was among the branches, and his keen
eyes plunged through the transparent panes into the interior of
It was a strange thing, and one which made d'Artagnan tremble
from the sole of his foot to the roots of his hair, to find that
this soft light, this calm lamp, enlightened a scene of fearful
disorder. One of the windows was broken, the door of the chamber
had been beaten in and hung, split in two, on its hinges. A
table, which had been covered with an elegant supper, was
overturned. The decanters broken in pieces, and the fruits
crushed, strewed the floor. Everything in the apartment gave
evidence of a violent and desperate struggle. D'Artagnan even
fancied he could recognize amid this strange disorder, fragments
of garments, and some bloody spots staining the cloth and the
curtains. He hastened to descend into the street, with a
frightful beating at his heart; he wished to see if he could find
other traces of violence.
The little soft light shone on in the calmness of the night.
d'Artagnan then perceived a thing that he had not before
remarked--for nothing had led him to the examination--that the
ground, trampled here and hoofmarked there, presented confused
traces of men and horses. Besides, the wheels of a carriage,
which appeared to have come from Paris, had made a deep
impression in the soft earth, which did not extend beyond the
pavilion, but turned again toward Paris.
At length d'Artagnan, in pursuing his researches, found near the
wall a woman's torn glove. This glove, wherever it had not
touched the muddy ground, was of irreproachable odor. It was one
of those perfumed gloves that lovers like to snatch from a pretty
As d'Artagnan pursued his investigations, a more abundant and
more icy sweat rolled in large drops from his forehead; his heart
was oppressed by a horrible anguish; his respiration was broken
and short. And yet he said, to reassure himself, that this
pavilion perhaps had nothing in common with Mme. Bonacieux; that
the young woman had made an appointment with him before the
pavilion, and not in the pavilion; that she might have been
detained in Paris by her duties, or perhaps by the jealousy of
But all these reasons were combated, destroyed, overthrown, by
that feeling of intimate pain which, on certain occasions, takes
possession of our being, and cries to us so as to be understood
unmistakably that some great misfortune is hanging over us.
Then d'Artagnan became almost wild. He ran along the high road,
took the path he had before taken, and reaching the ferry,
interrogated the boatman.
About seven o'clock in the evening, the boatman had taken over a
young woman, wrapped in a black mantle, who appeared to be very
anxious not to be recognized; but entirely on account of her
precautions, the boatman had paid more attention to her and
discovered that she was young and pretty.
There were then, as now, a crowd of young and pretty women who
came to St. Cloud, and who had reasons for not being seen, and
yet d'Artagnan did not for an instant doubt that it was Mme.
Bonacieux whom the boatman had noticed.
D'Artagnan took advantage of the lamp which burned in the cabin
of the ferryman to read the billet of Mme. Bonacieux once again,
and satisfy himself that he had not been mistaken, that the
appointment was at St. Cloud and not elsewhere, before the
D'Estrees's pavilion and not in another street. Everything
conspired to prove to d'Artagnan that his presentiments had not
deceived him, and that a great misfortune had happened.
He again ran back to the chateau. It appeared to him that
something might have happened at the pavilion in his absence, and
that fresh information awaited him. The lane was still deserted,
and the same calm soft light shone through the window.
D'Artagnan then thought of that cottage, silent and obscure,
which had no doubt seen all, and could tell its tale. The gate
of the enclosure was shut; but he leaped over the hedge, and in
spite of the barking of a chained-up dog, went up to the cabin.
No one answered to his first knocking. A silence of death
reigned in the cabin as in the pavilion; but as the cabin was his
last resource, he knocked again.
It soon appeared to him that he heard a slight noise within--a
timid noise which seemed to tremble lest it should be heard.
Then d'Artagnan ceased knocking, and prayed with an accent so
full of anxiety and promises, terror and cajolery, that his voice
was of a nature to reassure the most fearful. At length an old,
worm-eaten shutter was opened, or rather pushed ajar, but closed
again as soon as the light from a miserable lamp which burned in
the corner had shone upon the baldric, sword belt, and pistol
pommels of d'Artagnan. Nevertheless, rapid as the movement had
been, d'Artagnan had had time to get a glimpse of the head of an
"In the name of heaven!" cried he, "listen to me; I have been
waiting for someone who has not come. I am dying with anxiety.
Has anything particular happened in the neighborhood? Speak!"
The window was again opened slowly, and the same face appeared,
only it was now still more pale than before.
D'Artagnan related his story simply, with the omission of names.
He told how he had a rendezvous with a young woman before that
pavilion, and how, not seeing her come, he had climbed the linden
tree, and by the light of the lamp had seen the disorder of the
The old man listened attentively, making a sign only that it was
all so; and then, when d'Artagnan had ended, he shook his head
with an air that announced nothing good.
"What do you mean?" cried d'Artagnan. "In the name of heaven,
"Oh! Monsieur," said the old man, "ask me nothing; for if I
dared tell you what I have seen, certainly no good would befall
"You have, then, seen something?" replied d'Artagnan. "In that
case, in the name of heaven," continued he, throwing him a
pistole, "tell me what you have seen, and I will pledge you the
word of a gentleman that not one of your words shall escape from
The old man read so much truth and so much grief in the face of
the young man that he made him a sign to listen, and repeated in
a low voice: "It was scarcely nine o'clock when I heard a noise
in the street, and was wondering what it could be, when on coming
to my door, I found that somebody was endeavoring to open it. As
I am very poor and am not afraid of being robbed, I went and
opened the gate and saw three men at a few paces from it. In the
shadow was a carriage with two horses, and some saddlehorses.
These horses evidently belonged to the three men, who wee dressed
as cavaliers. 'Ah, my worthy gentlemen,' cried I, 'what do you
want?' 'You must have a ladder?' said he who appeared to be the
leader of the party. 'Yes, monsieur, the one with which I gather
my fruit.' 'Lend it to us, and go into your house again; there
is a crown for the annoyance we have caused you. Only remember
this--if you speak a word of what you may see or what you may
hear (for you will look and you will listen, I am quite sure,
however we may threaten you), you are lost.' At these words he
threw me a crown, which I picked up, and he took the ladder.
After shutting the gate behind them, I pretended to return to the
house, but I immediately went out a back door, and stealing along
in the shade of the hedge, I gained yonder clump of elder, from
which I could hear and see everything. The three men brought the
carriage up quietly, and took out of it a little man, stout,
short, elderly, and commonly dressed in clothes of a dark color,
who ascended the ladder very carefully, looked suspiciously in at
the window of the pavilion, came down as quietly as he had gone
up, and whispered, 'It is she!' Immediately, he who had spoken
to me approached the door of the pavilion, opened it with a key
he had in his hand, closed the door and disappeared, while at the
same time the other two men ascended the ladder. The little old
man remained at the coach door; the coachman took care of his
horses, the lackey held the saddlehorses. All at once great
cries resounded in the pavilion, and a woman came to the window,
and opened it, as if to throw herself out of it; but as soon as
she perceived the other two men, she fell back and they went into
the chamber. Then I saw no more; but I heard the noise of
breaking furniture. The woman screamed, and cried for help; but
her cries were soon stifled. Two of the men appeared, bearing
the woman in their arms, and carried her to the carriage, into
which the little old man got after her. The leader closed the
window, came out an instant after by the door, and satisfied
himself that the woman was in the carriage. His two companions
were already on horseback. He sprang into his saddle; the lackey
took his place by the coachman; the carriage went off at a quick
pace, escorted by the three horsemen, and all was over. From
that moment I have neither seen nor heard anything."
D'Artagnan, entirely overcome by this terrible story, remained
motionless and mute, while all the demons of anger and jealousy
were howling in his heart.
"But, my good gentleman," resumed the old man, upon whom this
mute despair certainly produced a greater effect than cries and
tears would have done, "do not take on so; they did not kill her,
and that's a comfort."
"Can you guess," said d'Artagnan, "who was the man who headed
this infernal expedition?"
"I don't know him."
"But as you spoke to him you must have seen him."
"Oh, it's a description you want?"
"A tall, dark man, with black mustaches, dark eyes, and the air
of a gentleman."
"That's the man!" cried d'Artagnan, "again he, forever he! He is
my demon, apparently. And the other?"
"The short one."
"Oh, he was not a gentleman, I'll answer for it; besides, he did
not wear a sword, and the others treated him with small
"Some lackey," murmured d'Artagnan. "Poor woman, poor woman,
what have they done with you?"
"You have promised to be secret, my good monsieur?" said the old
"And I renew my promise. Be easy, I am a gentleman. A gentleman
has but his word, and I have given you mine."
With a heavy heart, d'Artagnan again bent his way toward the
ferry. Sometimes he hoped it could not be Mme. Bonacieux, and
that he should find her next day at the Louvre; sometimes he
feared she had had an intrigue with another, who, in a jealous
fit, had surprised her and carried her off. His mind was torn by
doubt, grief, and despair.
"Oh, if I had my three friends here," cried he, "I should have,
at least, some hopes of finding her; but who knows what has
become of them?"
It was past midnight; the next thing was to find Planchet.
d'Artagnan went successively into all the cabarets in which there
was a light, but could not find Planchet in any of them.
At the sixth he began to reflect that the search was rather
dubious. D'Artagnan had appointed six o'clock in the morning for
his lackey, and wherever he might be, he was right.
Besides, it came into the young man's mind that by remaining in
the environs of the spot on which this sad event had passed, he
would, perhaps, have some light thrown upon the mysterious
affair. At the sixth cabaret, then, as we said, d'Artagnan
stopped, asked for a bottle of wine of the best quality, and
placing himself in the darkest corner of the room, determined
thus to wait till daylight; but this time again his hopes were
disappointed, and although he listened with all his ears, he
heard nothing, amid the oaths, coarse jokes, and abuse which
passed between the laborers, servants, and carters who comprised
the honorable society of which he formed a part, which could put
him upon the least track of her who had been stolen from him. He
was compelled, then, after having swallowed the contents of his
bottle, to pass the time as well as to evade suspicion, to fall
into the easiest position in his corner and to sleep, whether
well or ill. D'Artagnan, be it remembered, was only twenty years
old, and at that age sleep has its imprescriptible rights which
it imperiously insists upon, even with the saddest hearts.
Toward six o'clock d'Artagnan awoke with that uncomfortable
feeling which generally accompanies the break of day after a bad
night. He was not long in making his toilet. He examined
himself to see if advantage had been taken of his sleep, and
having found his diamond ring on his finger, his purse in his
pocket, and his pistols in his belt, he rose, paid for his
bottle, and went out to try if he could have any better luck in
his search after his lackey than he had had the night before.
The first thing he perceived through the damp gray mist was
honest Planchet, who, with the two horses in hand, awaited him at
the door of a little blind cabaret, before which d'Artagnan had
passed without even a suspicion of its existence.
Instead of returning directly home, d'Artagnan alighted at the
door of M. de Treville, and ran quickly up the stairs. This time
he had decided to relate all that had passed. M. de Treville
would doubtless give him good advice as to the whole affair.
Besides, as M. de Treville saw the queen almost daily, he might
be able to draw from her Majesty some intelligence of the poor
young woman, whom they were doubtless making pay very dearly for
her devotedness to her mistress.
M. de Treville listened to the young man's account with a
seriousness which proved that he saw something else in this
adventure besides a love affair. When d'Artagnan had finished,
he said, "Hum! All this savors of his Eminence, a league off."
"But what is to be done?" said d'Artagnan.
"Nothing, absolutely nothing, at present, but quitting Paris,
as I told you, as soon as possible. I will see the queen; I will
relate to her the details of the disappearance of this poor
woman, of which she is no doubt ignorant. These details will
guide her on her part, and on your return, I shall perhaps have
some good news to tell you. Rely on me."
D'Artagnan knew that, although a Gascon, M. de Treville was not
in the habit of making promises, and that when by chance he did
promise, he more than kept his word. He bowed to him, then, full
of gratitude for the past and for the future; and the worthy
captain, who on his side felt a lively interest in this young
man, so brave and so resolute, pressed his hand kindly, wishing
him a pleasant journey.
Determined to put the advice of M. de Treville in practice
instantly, d'Artagnan directed his course toward the Rue des
Fossoyeurs, in order to superintend the packing of his valise.
On approaching the house, he perceived M. Bonacieux in morning
costume, standing at his threshold. All that the prudent
Planchet had said to him the preceding evening about the sinister
character of the old man recurred to the mind of d'Artagnan, who
looked at him with more attention than he had done before. In
fact, in addition to that yellow, sickly paleness which indicates
the insinuation of the bile in the blood, and which might,
besides, be accidental, d'Artagnan remarked something
perfidiously significant in the play of the wrinkled features of
his countenance. A rogue does not laugh in the same way that an
honest man does; a hypocrite does not shed the tears of a man of
good faith. All falsehood is a mask; and however well made the
mask may be, with a little attention we may always succeed in
distinguishing it from the true face.
It appeared, then, to d'Artagnan that M. Bonacieux wore a mask,
and likewise that that mask was most disagreeable to look upon.
In consequence of this feeling of repugnance, he was about to
pass without speaking to him, but, as he had done the day before,
M. Bonacieux accosted him.
"Well, young man," said he, "we appear to pass rather gay nights!
Seven o'clock in the morning! PESTE! You seem to reverse
ordinary customs, and come home at the hour when other people are
"No one can reproach you for anything of the kind, Monsieur
Bonacieux," said the young man; "you are a model for regular
people. It is true that when a man possesses a young and pretty
wife, he has no need to seek happiness elsewhere. Happiness
comes to meet him, does it not, Monsieur Bonacieux?"
Bonacieux became as pale as death, and grinned a ghastly smile.
"Ah, ah!" said Bonacieux, "you are a jocular companion! But
where the devil were you gladding last night, my young master?
It does not appear to be very clean in the crossroads."
D'Artagnan glanced down at his boots, all covered with mud; but
that same glance fell upon the shoes and stockings of the mercer,
and it might have been said they had been dipped in the same mud
heap. Both were stained with splashes of mud of the same
Then a sudden idea crossed the mind of d'Artagnan. That little
stout man, short and elderly, that sort of lackey, dressed in
dark clothes, treated without ceremony by the men wearing swords
who composed the escort, was Bonacieux himself. The husband had
presided at the abduction of his wife.
A terrible inclination seized d'Artagnan to grasp the mercer by
the throat and strangle him; but, as we have said, he was a very
prudent youth, and he restrained himself. However, the
revolution which appeared upon his countenance was so visible
that Bonacieux was terrified at it, and he endeavored to draw
back a step or two; but as he was standing before the half of the
door which was shut, the obstacle compelled him to keep his
"Ah, but you are joking, my worthy man!" said d'Artagnan. It
appears to me that if my boots need a sponge, your stockings and
shoes stand in equal need of a brush. May you not have been
philandering a little also, Monsieur Bonacieux? Oh, the devil!
That's unpardonable in a man of your age, and who besides, has
such a pretty wife as yours."
"Oh, Lord! no," said Bonacieux, "but yesterday I went to St.
Mande to make some inquiries after a servant, as I cannot
possibly do without one; and the roads were so bad that I brought
back all this mud, which I have not yet had time to remove."
The place named by Bonacieux as that which had been the object of
his journey was a fresh proof in support of the suspicions
d'Artagnan had conceived. Bonacieux had named Mande because
Mande was in an exactly opposite direction from St. Cloud. This
probability afforded him his first consolation. If Bonacieux
knew where his wife was, one might, by extreme means, force the
mercer to open his teeth and let his secret escape. The
question, then, was how to change this probability into a
"Pardon, my dear Monsieur Bonacieux, if I don't stand upon
ceremony," said d'Artagnan, "but nothing makes one so thirsty as
want of sleep. I am parched with thirst. Allow me to take a
glass of water in your apartment; you know that is never refused
Without waiting for the permission of his host, d'Artagnan went
quickly into the house, and cast a rapid glance at the bed. It
had not been used. Bonacieux had not been abed. He had only
been back an hour or two; he had accompanied his wife to the
place of her confinement, or else at least to the first relay.
"Thanks, Monsieur Bonacieux," said d'Artagnan, emptying his
glass, "that is all I wanted of you. I will now go up into my
apartment. I will make Planchet brush my boots; and when he has
done, I will, if you like, send him to you to brush your shoes."
He left the mercer quite astonished at his singular farewell, and
asking himself if he had not been a little inconsiderate.
At the top of the stairs he found Planchet in a great fright.
"Ah, monsieur!" cried Planchet, as soon as he perceived his
master, "here is more trouble. I thought you would never come
"What's the matter now, Planchet?" demanded d'Artagnan.
"Oh! I give you a hundred, I give you a thousand times to guess,
monsieur, the visit I received in your absence."
"About half an hour ago, while you were at Monsieur de
"Who has been here? Come, speak."
"Monsieur de Cavois."
"Monsieur de Cavois?"
"The captain of the cardinal's Guards?"
"Did he come to arrest me?"
"I have no doubt that he did, monsieur, for all his wheedling
"Was he so sweet, then?"
"Indeed, he was all honey, monsieur."
"He came, he said, on the part of his Eminence, who wished you
well, and to beg you to follow him to the Palais-Royal."*
*It was called the Palais-Cardinal before Richelieu gave it to
"What did you answer him?"
"That the thing was impossible, seeing that you were not at home,
as he could see."
"Well, what did he say then?"
"That you must not fail to call upon him in the course of the
day; and then he added in a low voice, 'Tell your master that his
Eminence is very well disposed toward him, and that his fortune
perhaps depends upon this interview.'"
"The snare is rather MALADROIT for the cardinal," replied the
young man, smiling.
"Oh, I saw the snare, and I answered you would be quite in
despair on your return.
"'Where has he gone?' asked Monsieur de Cavois.
"'To Troyes, in Champagne,' I answered.
"'And when did he set out?'
"Planchet, my friend," interrupted d'Artagnan, "you are really a
"You will understand, monsieur, I thought there would be still
time, if you wish, to see Monsieur de Cavois to contradict me by
saying you were not yet gone. The falsehood would then lie at my
door, and as I am not a gentleman, I may be allowed to lie."
"Be of good heart, Planchet, you shall preserve your reputation
as a veracious man. In a quarter of an hour we set off."
"That's the advice I was about to give Monsieur; and where are we
going, may I ask, without being too curious?"
"PARDIEU! In the opposite direction to that which you said I was
gone. Besides, are you not as anxious to learn news of Grimaud,
Mousqueton, and Bazin as I am to know what has become of Athos,
Porthos, and Aramis?"
"Yes, monsieur," said Planchet, "and I will go as soon as you
please. Indeed, I think provincial air will suit us much better
just now than the air of Paris. So then--"
"So then, pack up our luggage, Planchet, and let us be off. On
my part, I will go out with my hands in my pockets, that nothing
may be suspected. You may join me at the Hotel des Gardes. By
the way, Planchet, I think you are right with respect to our
host, and that he is decidedly a frightfully low wretch."
"Ah, monsieur, you may take my word when I tell you anything. I
am a physiognomist, I assure you."
D'Artagnan went out first, as had been agreed upon. Then, in
order that he might have nothing to reproach himself with, he
directed his steps, for the last time, toward the residences of
his three friends. No news had been received of them; only a
letter, all perfumed and of an elegant writing in small
characters, had come for Aramis. D'Artagnan took charge of it.
Ten minutes afterward Planchet joined him at the stables of the
Hotel des Gardes. D'Artagnan, in order that there might be no
time lost, had saddled his horse himself.
"That's well," said he to Planchet, when the latter added the
portmanteau to the equipment. "Now saddle the other three
"Do you think, then, monsieur, that we shall travel faster with
two horses apiece?" said Planchet, with his shrewd air.
"No, Monsieur Jester," replied d'Artagnan; "but with our four
horses we may bring back our three friends, if we should have the
good fortune to find them living."
"Which is a great chance," replied Planchet, "but we must not
despair of the mercy of God."
"Amen!" said d'Artagnan, getting into his saddle.
As they went from the Hotel des Gardes, they separated, leaving
the street at opposite ends, one having to quit Paris by the
Barriere de la Villette and the other by the Barriere Montmartre,
to meet again beyond St. Denis--a strategic maneuver which,
having been executed with equal punctuality, was crowned with the
most fortunate results. D'Artagnan and Planchet entered
Planchet was more courageous, it must be admitted, by day than by
night. His natural prudence, however, never forsook him for a
single instant. He had forgotten not one of the incidents of the
first journey, and he looked upon everybody he met on the road as
an enemy. It followed that his hat was forever in his hand,
which procured him some severe reprimands from d'Artagnan, who
feared that his excess of politeness would lead people to think
he was the lackey of a man of no consequence.
Nevertheless, whether the passengers were really touched by the
urbanity of Planchet or whether this time nobody was posted on
the young man's road, our two travelers arrived at Chantilly
without any accident, and alighted at the tavern of Great St.
Martin, the same at which they had stopped on their first
The host, on seeing a young man followed by a lackey with two
extra horses, advanced respectfully to the door. Now, as they
had already traveled eleven leagues, d'Artagnan thought it time
to stop, whether Porthos were or were not in the inn. Perhaps it
would not be prudent to ask at once what had become of the
Musketeer. The result of these reflections was that d'Artagnan,
without asking information of any kind, alighted, commended the
horses to the care of his lackey, entered a small room destined
to receive those who wished to be alone, and desired the host to
bring him a bottle of his best wine and as good a breakfast as
possible--a desire which further corroborated the high opinion
the innkeeper had formed of the traveler at first sight.
D'Artagnan was therefore served with miraculous celerity. The
regiment of the Guards was recruited among the first gentlemen of
the kingdom; and d'Artagnan, followed by a lackey, and traveling
with four magnificent horses, despite the simplicity of his
uniform, could not fail to make a sensation. The host desired
himself to serve him; which d'Artagnan perceiving, ordered two
glasses to be brought, and commenced the following conversation.
"My faith, my good host," said d'Artagnan, filling the two
glasses, "I asked for a bottle of your best wine, and if you have
deceived me, you will be punished in what you have sinned; for
seeing that I hate drinking my myself, you shall drink with me.
Take your glass, then, and let us drink. But what shall we drink
to, so as to avoid wounding any susceptibility? Let us drink to
the prosperity of your establishment."
"Your Lordship does me much honor," said the host, "and I thank
you sincerely for your kind wish."
"But don't mistake," said d'Artagnan, "there is more selfishness
in my toast than perhaps you may think--for it is only in
prosperous establishments that one is well received. In hotels
that do not flourish, everything is in confusion, and the
traveler is a victim to the embarrassments of his host. Now, I
travel a great deal, particularly on this road, and I wish to see
all innkeepers making a fortune."
"It seems to me," said the host, "that this is not the first time
I have had the honor of seeing Monsieur."
"Bah, I have passed perhaps ten times through Chantilly, and out
of the ten times I have stopped three or four times at your house
at least. Why I was here only ten or twelve days ago. I was
conducting some friends, Musketeers, one of whom, by the by, had
a dispute with a stranger--a man who sought a quarrel with him,
for I don't know what."
"Exactly so," said the host; "I remember it perfectly. It is not
Monsieur Porthos that your Lordship means?"
"Yes, that is my companion's name. My God, my dear host, tell me
if anything has happened to him?"
"Your Lordship must have observed that he could not continue his
"Why, to be sure, he promised to rejoin us, and we have seen
nothing of him."
"He has done us the honor to remain here."
"What, he had done you the honor to remain here?"
"Yes, monsieur, in this house; and we are even a little uneasy--"
"On what account?"
"Of certain expenses he has contracted."
"Well, but whatever expenses he may have incurred, I am sure he
is in a condition to pay them."
"Ah, monsieur, you infuse genuine balm into my blood. We have
made considerable advances; and this very morning the surgeon
declared that if Monsieur Porthos did not pay him, he should look
to me, as it was I who had sent for him."
"Porthos is wounded, then?"
"I cannot tell you, monsieur."
"What! You cannot tell me? Surely you ought to be able to tell
me better than any other person."
"Yes; but in our situation we must not say all we know--
particularly as we have been warned that our ears should answer
for our tongues."
"Well, can I see Porthos?"
"Certainly, monsieur. Take the stairs on your right; go up the
first flight and knock at Number One. Only warn him that it is
"Why should I do that?"
"Because, monsieur, some mischief might happen to you."
"Of what kind, in the name of wonder?"
"Monsieur Porthos may imagine you belong to the house, and in a
fit of passion might run his sword through you or blow out your
"What have you done to him, then?"
"We have asked him for money."
"The devil! Ah, I can understand that. It is a demand that
Porthos takes very ill when he is not in funds; but I know he
must be so at present."
"We thought so, too, monsieur. As our house is carried on very
regularly, and we make out our bills every week, at the end of
eight days we presented our account; but it appeared we had
chosen an unlucky moment, for at the first word on the subject,
he sent us to all the devils. It is true he had been playing the
"Playing the day before! And with whom?"
"Lord, who can say, monsieur? With some gentleman who was
traveling this way, to whom he proposed a game of LANSQUENET."
"That's it, then, and the foolish fellow lost all he had?"
"Even to his horse, monsieur; for when the gentleman was about to
set out, we perceived that his lackey was saddling Monsieur
Porthos's horse, as well as his master's. When we observed this
to him, he told us all to trouble ourselves about our own
business, as this horse belonged to him. We also informed
Monsieur Porthos of what was going on; but he told us we were
scoundrels to doubt a gentleman's word, and that as he had said
the horse was his, it must be so."
"That's Porthos all over," murmured d'Artagnan.
"Then," continued the host, "I replied that as from the moment we
seemed not likely to come to a good understanding with respect to
payment, I hoped that he would have at least the kindness to
grant the favor of his custom to my brother host of the Golden
Eagle; but Monsieur Porthos replied that, my house being the
best, he should remain where he was. This reply was too
flattering to allow me to insist on his departure. I confined
myself then to begging him to give up his chamber, which is the
handsomest in the hotel, and to be satisfied with a pretty little
room on the third floor; but to this Monsieur Porthos replied
that as he every moment expected his mistress, who was one of the
greatest ladies in the court, I might easily comprehend that the
chamber he did me the honor to occupy in my house was itself very
mean for the visit of such a personage. Nevertheless, while
acknowledging the truth of what he said, I thought proper to
insist; but without even giving himself the trouble to enter into
any discussion with me, he took one of his pistols, laid it on
his table, day and night, and said that at the first word that
should be spoken to him about removing, either within the house
or out of it, he would blow out the brains of the person who
should be so imprudent as to meddle with a matter which only
concerned himself. Since that time, monsieur, nobody entered his
chamber but his servant."
"What! Mousqueton is here, then?"
"Oh, yes, monsieur. Five days after your departure, he came
back, and in a very bad condition, too. It appears that he had
met with disagreeableness, likewise, on his journey. Unfortunately,
he is more nimble than his master; so that for the sake of his
master, he puts us all under his feet, and as he thinks we might
refuse what he asked for, he takes all he wants without asking at
"The fact is," said d'Artagnan, "I have always observed a great
degree of intelligence and devotedness in Mousqueton."
"That is possible, monsieur; but suppose I should happen to be
brought in contact, even four times a year, with such
intelligence and devotedness--why, I should be a ruined man!"
"No, for Porthos will pay you."
"Hum!" said the host, in a doubtful tone.
"The favorite of a great lady will not be allowed to be
inconvenienced for such a paltry sum as he owes you."
"If I durst say what I believe on that head--"
"What you believe?"
"I ought rather to say, what I know."
"What you know?"
"And even what I am sure of."
"And of what are you so sure?"
"I would say that I know this great lady."
"And how do you know her?"
"Oh, monsieur, if I could believe I might trust in your
"Speak! By the word of a gentleman, you shall have no cause to
repent of your confidence."
"Well, monsieur, you understand that uneasiness makes us do many
"What have you done?"
"Oh, nothing which was not right in the character of a creditor."
"Monsieur Porthos gave us a note for his duchess, ordering us to
put it in the post. This was before his servant came. As he
could not leave his chamber, it was necessary to charge us with
"Instead of putting the letter in the post, which is never safe,
I took advantage of the journey of one of my lads to Paris, and
ordered him to convey the letter to this duchess himself. This
was fulfilling the intentions of Monsieur Porthos, who had
desired us to be so careful of this letter, was it not?"
"Well, monsieur, do you know who this great lady is?"
"No; I have heard Porthos speak of her, that's all."
"Do you know who this pretended duchess is?
"I repeat to you, I don't know her."
"Why, she is the old wife of a procurator* of the Chatelet,
monsieur, named Madame Coquenard, who, although she is at least
fifty, still gives herself jealous airs. It struck me as very
odd that a princess should live in the Rue aux Ours."
"But how do you know all this?"
"Because she flew into a great passion on receiving the letter,
saying that Monsieur Porthos was a weathercock, and that she was
sure it was for some woman he had received this wound."
"Has he been wounded, then?"
"Oh, good Lord! What have I said?"
"You said that Porthos had received a sword cut."
"Yes, but he has forbidden me so strictly to say so."
"And why so."
"Zounds, monsieur! Because he had boasted that he would
perforate the stranger with whom you left him in dispute; whereas
the stranger, on the contrary, in spite of all his rodomontades
quickly threw him on his back. As Monsieur Porthos is a very
boastful man, he insists that nobody shall know he has received
this wound except the duchess, whom he endeavored to interest by
an account of his adventure."
"It is a wound that confines him to his bed?"
"Ah, and a master stroke, too, I assure you. Your friend's soul
must stick tight to his body."
"Were you there, then?"
"Monsieur, I followed them from curiosity, so that I saw the
combat without the combatants seeing me."
"And what took place?"
"Oh! The affair was not long, I assure you. They placed
themselves on guard; the stranger made a feint and a lunge, and
that so rapidly that when Monsieur Porthos came to the PARADE, he
had already three inches of steel in his breast. He immediately
fell backward. The stranger placed the point of his sword at his
throat; and Monsieur Porthos, finding himself at the mercy of his
adversary, acknowledged himself conquered. Upon which the
stranger asked his name, and learning that it was Porthos, and
not d'Artagnan, he assisted him to rise, brought him back to the
hotel, mounted his horse, and disappeared."
"So it was with Monsieur d'Artagnan this stranger meant to
"It appears so."
"And do you know what has become of him?"
"No, I never saw him until that moment, and have not seen him
"Very well; I know all that I wish to know. Porthos's chamber
is, you say, on the first story, Number One?"
"Yes, monsieur, the handsomest in the inn--a chamber that I could
have let ten times over."
"Bah! Be satisfied," said d'Artagnan, laughing, "Porthos will
pay you with the money of the Duchess Coquenard."
"Oh, monsieur, procurator's wife or duchess, if she will but
loosen her pursestrings, it will be all the same; but she
positively answered that she was tired of the exigencies and
infidelities of Monsieur Porthos, and that she would not send him
"And did you convey this answer to your guest?"
"We took good care not to do that; he would have found in what
fashion we had executed his commission."
"So that he still expects his money?"
"Oh, Lord, yes, monsieur! Yesterday he wrote again; but it was
his servant who this time put the letter in the post."
"Do you say the procurator's wife is old and ugly?"
"Fifty at least, monsieur, and not at all handsome, according to
"In that case, you may be quite at ease; she will soon be
softened. Besides, Porthos cannot owe you much."
"How, not much! Twenty good pistoles, already, without reckoning
the doctor. He denies himself nothing; it may easily be seen he
has been accustomed to live well."
"Never mind; if his mistress abandons him, he will find friends,
I will answer for it. So, my dear host, be not uneasy, and
continue to take all the care of him that his situation
"Monsieur has promised me not to open his mouth about the
procurator's wife, and not to say a word of the wound?"
"That's agreed; you have my word."
"Oh, he would kill me!"
"Don't be afraid; he is not so much of a devil as he appears."
Saying these words, d'Artagnan went upstairs, leaving his host a
little better satisfied with respect to two things in which he
appeared to be very much interested--his debt and his life.
At the top of the stairs, upon the most conspicuous door of the
corridor, was traced in black ink a gigantic number "1."
d'Artagnan knocked, and upon the bidding to come in which came
from inside, he entered the chamber.
Porthos was in bed, and was playing a game at LANSQUENET with
Mousqueton, to keep his hand in; while a spit loaded with
partridges was turning before the fire, and on each side of a
large chimneypiece, over two chafing dishes, were boiling two
stewpans, from which exhaled a double odor of rabbit and fish
stews, rejoicing to the smell. In addition to this he perceived
that the top of a wardrobe and the marble of a commode were
covered with empty bottles.
At the sight of his friend, Porthos uttered a loud cry of joy;
and Mousqueton, rising respectfully, yielded his place to him,
and went to give an eye to the two stewpans, of which he appeared
to have the particular inspection.
"Ah, PARDIEU! Is that you?" said Porthos to d'Artagnan. "You
are right welcome. Excuse my not coming to meet you; but," added
he, looking at d'Artagnan with a certain degree of uneasiness,
"you know what has happened to me?"
"Has the host told you nothing, then?"
"I asked after you, and came up as soon as I could."
Porthos seemed to breathe more freely.
"And what has happened to you, my dear Porthos?" continued
"Why, on making a thrust at my adversary, whom I had already hit
three times, and whom I meant to finish with the fourth, I put my
foot on a stone, slipped, and strained my knee."
"Honor! Luckily for the rascal, for I should have left him dead
on the spot, I assure you."
"And what has became of him?"
"Oh, I don't know; he had enough, and set off without waiting for
the rest. But you, my dear d'Artagnan, what has happened to
"So that this strain of the knee," continued d'Artagnan, "my dear
Porthos, keeps you in bed?"
"My God, that's all. I shall be about again in a few days."
"Why did you not have yourself conveyed to Paris? You must be
cruelly bored here."
"That was my intention; but, my dear friend, I have one thing to
confess to you."
"It is that as I was cruelly bored, as you say, and as I had the
seventy-five pistoles in my pocket which you had distributed to
me, in order to amuse myself I invited a gentleman who was
traveling this way to walk up, and proposed a cast of dice. He
accepted my challenge, and, my faith, my seventy-five pistoles
passed from my pocket to his, without reckoning my horse, which
he won into the bargain. But you, my dear d'Artagnan?"
"What can you expect, my dear Porthos; a man is not privileged in
all ways," said d'Artagnan. "You know the proverb 'Unlucky at
play, lucky in love.' You are too fortunate in your love for
play not to take its revenge. What consequence can the reverses
of fortune be to you? Have you not, happy rogue that you are--
have you not your duchess, who cannot fail to come to your aid?"
"Well, you see, my dear d'Artagnan, with what ill luck I play,"
replied Porthos, with the most careless air in the world. "I
wrote to her to send me fifty louis or so, of which I stood
absolutely in need on account of my accident."
"Well, she must be at her country seat, for she has not answered
"No; so I yesterday addressed another epistle to her, still more
pressing than the first. But you are here, my dear fellow, let
us speak of you. I confess I began to be very uneasy on your
"But your host behaves very well toward you, as it appears, my
dear Porthos," said d'Artagnan, directing the sick man's
attention to the full stewpans and the empty bottles.
"So, so," replied Porthos. "Only three or four days ago the
impertinent jackanapes gave me his bill, and I was forced to turn
both him and his bill out of the door; so that I am here
something in the fashion of a conqueror, holding my position, as
it were, my conquest. So you see, being in constant fear of
being forced from that position, I am armed to the teeth."
"And yet," said d'Artagnan, laughing, "it appears to me that from
time to time you must make SORTIES." And he again pointed to the
bottles and the stewpans.
"Not I, unfortunately!" said Porthos. "This miserable strain
confines me to my bed; but Mousqueton forages, and brings in
provisions. Friend Mousqueton, you see that we have a
reinforcement, and we must have an increase of supplies."
"Mousqueton," said d'Artagnan, "you must render me a service."
"You must give your recipe to Planchet. I may be besieged in my
turn, and I shall not be sorry for him to be able to let me enjoy
the same advantages with which you gratify your master."
"Lord, monsieur! There is nothing more easy," said Mousqueton,
with a modest air. "One only needs to be sharp, that's all. I
was brought up in the country, and my father in his leisure time
was something of a poacher."
"And what did he do the rest of his time?"
"Monsieur, he carried on a trade which I have always thought
"As it was a time of war between the Catholics and the Huguenots,
and as he saw the Catholics exterminate the Huguenots and the
Huguenots exterminate the Catholics--all in the name of
religion--he adopted a mixed belief which permitted him to be
sometimes Catholic, sometimes a Huguenot. Now, he was accustomed
to walk with his fowling piece on his shoulder, behind the hedges
which border the roads, and when he saw a Catholic coming alone,
the Protestant religion immediately prevailed in his mind. He
lowered his gun in the direction of the traveler; then, when he
was within ten paces of him, he commenced a conversation which
almost always ended by the traveler's abandoning his purse to
save his life. It goes without saying that when he saw a
Huguenot coming, he felt himself filled with such ardent Catholic
zeal that he could not understand how, a quarter of an hour
before, he had been able to have any doubts upon the superiority
of our holy religion. For my part, monsieur, I am Catholic--my
father, faithful to his principles, having made my elder brother
"And what was the end of this worthy man?" asked d'Artagnan.
"Oh, of the most unfortunate kind, monsieur. One day he was
surprised in a lonely road between a Huguenot and a Catholic,
with both of whom he had before had business, and who both knew
him again; so they united against him and hanged him on a tree.
Then they came and boasted of their fine exploit in the cabaret
of the next village, where my brother and I were drinking."
"And what did you do?" said d'Artagnan.
"We let them tell their story out," replied Mousqueton. "Then,
as in leaving the cabaret they took different directions, my
brother went and hid himself on the road of the Catholic, and I
on that of the Huguenot. Two hours after, all was over; we had
done the business of both, admiring the foresight of our poor
father, who had taken the precaution to bring each of us up in a
"Well, I must allow, as you say, your father was a very
intelligent fellow. And you say in his leisure moments the
worthy man was a poacher?"
"Yes, monsieur, and it was he who taught me to lay a snare and
ground a line. The consequence is that when I saw our laborers,
which did not at all suit two such delicate stomachs as ours, I
had recourse to a little of my old trade. While walking near the
wood of Monsieur le Prince, I laid a few snare in the runs; and
while reclining on the banks of his Highness's pieces of water, I
slipped a few lines into his fish ponds. So that now, thanks be
to God, we do not want, as Monsieur can testify, for partridges,
rabbits, carp or eels--all light, wholesome food, suitable for
"But the wine," said d'Artagnan, "who furnishes the wine? Your
"That is to say, yes and no."
"How yes and no?"
"He furnishes it, it is true, but he does not know that he has
"Explain yourself, Mousqueton; your conversation is full of
"That is it, monsieur. It has so chanced that I met with a
Spaniard in my peregrinations who had seen many countries, and
among them the New World."
"What connection can the New World have with the bottles which
are on the commode and the wardrobe?"
"Patience, monsieur, everything will come in its turn."
"This Spaniard had in his service a lackey who had accompanied
him in his voyage to Mexico. This lackey was my compatriot; and
we became the more intimate from there being many resemblances of
character between us. We loved sporting of all kinds better than
anything; so that he related to me how in the plains of the
Pampas the natives hunt the tiger and the wild bull with simple
running nooses which they throw to a distance of twenty or thirty
paces the end of a cord with such nicety; but in face of the
proof I was obliged to acknowledge the truth of the recital. My
friend placed a bottle at the distance of thirty paces, and at
each cast he caught the neck of the bottle in his running noose.
I practiced this exercise, and as nature has endowed me with some
faculties, at this day I can throw the lasso with any man in the
world. Well, do you understand, monsieur? Our host has a well-
furnished cellar the key of which never leaves him; only this
cellar has a ventilating hole. Now through this ventilating
hole I throw my lasso, and as I now know in which part of the
cellar is the best wine, that's my point for sport. You see,
monsieur, what the New World has to do with the bottles which are
on the commode and the wardrobe. Now, will you taste our wine,
and without prejudice say what you think of it?"
"Thank you, my friend, thank you; unfortunately, I have just
"Well," said Porthos, "arrange the table, Mousqueton, and while
we breakfast, d'Artagnan will relate to us what has happened to
him during the ten days since he left us."
"Willingly," said d'Artagnan.
While Porthos and Mousqueton were breakfasting, with the
appetites of convalescents and with that brotherly cordiality
which unites men in misfortune, d'Artagnan related how Aramis,
being wounded, was obliged to stop at Crevecoeur, how he had left
Athos fighting at Amiens with four men who accused him of being a
coiner, and how he, d'Artagnan, had been forced to run the Comtes
de Wardes through the body in order to reach England.
But there the confidence of d'Artagnan stopped. He only added
that on his return from Great Britain he had brought back four
magnificent horses--one for himself, and one for each of his
companions; then he informed Porthos that the one intended for
him was already installed in the stable of the tavern.
At this moment Planchet entered, to inform his master that the
horses were sufficiently refreshed and that it would be possible
to sleep at Clermont.
As d'Artagnan was tolerably reassured with regard to Porthos, and
as he was anxious to obtain news of his two other friends, he
held out his hand to the wounded man, and told him he was about
to resume his route in order to continue his researches. For the
rest, as he reckoned upon returning by the same route in seven or
eight days, if Porthos were still at the Great St. Martin, he
would call for him on his way.
Porthos replied that in all probability his sprain would not
permit him to depart yet awhile. Besides, it was necessary he
should stay at Chantilly to wait for the answer from his duchess.
D'Artagnan wished that answer might be prompt and favorable; and
having again recommended Porthos to the care of Mousqueton, and
paid his bill to the host, he resumed his route with Planchet,
already relieved of one of his led horses.
26 ARAMIS AND HIS THESIS
D'Artagnan had said nothing to Porthos of his wound or of his
procurator's wife. Our Bearnais was a prudent lad, however young
he might be. Consequently he had appeared to believe all that
the vainglorious Musketeer had told him, convinced that no
friendship will hold out against a surprised secret. Besides, we
feel always a sort of mental superiority over those whose lives
we know better than they suppose. In his projects of intrigue
for the future, and determined as he was to make his three
friends the instruments of his fortune, d'Artagnan was not sorry
at getting into his grasp beforehand the invisible strings by
which he reckoned upon moving them.
And yet, as he journeyed along, a profound sadness weighed upon
his heart. He thought of that young and pretty Mme. Bonacieux
who was to have paid him the price of his devotedness; but let us
hasten to say that this sadness possessed the young man less from
the regret of the happiness he had missed, than from the fear he
entertained that some serious misfortune had befallen the poor
woman. For himself, he had no doubt she was a victim of the
cardinal's vengeance; and, and as was well known, the vengeance
of his Eminence was terrible. How he had found grace in the eyes
of the minister, he did not know; but without doubt M. de Cavois
would have revealed this to him if the captain of the Guards had
found him at home.
Nothing makes time pass more quickly or more shortens a journey
than a thought which absorbs in itself all the faculties of the
organization of him who thinks. External existence then
resembles a sleep of which this thought is the dream. By its
influence, time has no longer measure, space has no longer
distance. We depart from one place, and arrive at another, that
is all. Of the interval passed, nothing remains in the memory
but a vague mist in which a thousand confused images of trees,
mountains, and landscapes are lost. It was as a prey to this
hallucination that d'Artagnan traveled, at whatever pace his
horse pleased, the six or eight leagues that separated Chantilly
from Crevecoeur, without his being able to remember on his
arrival in the village any of the things he had passed or met
with on the road.
There only his memory returned to him. He shook his head,
perceived the cabaret at which he had left Aramis, and putting
his horse to the trot, he shortly pulled up at the door.
This time it was not a host but a hostess who received him.
d'Artagnan was a physiognomist. His eye took in at a glance the
plump, cheerful countenance of the mistress of the place, and he
at once perceived there was no occasion for dissembling with her,
or of fearing anything from one blessed with such a joyous
"My good dame," asked d'Artagnan, "can you tell me what has
become of one of my friends, whom we were obliged to leave here
about a dozen days ago?"
"A handsome young man, three- or four-and-twenty years old, mild,
amiable, and well made?"
"That is he--wounded in the shoulder."
"Just so. Well, monsieur, he is still here."
"Ah, PARDIEU! My dear dame," said d'Artagnan, springing from his
horse, and throwing the bridle to Planchet, "you restore me to
life; where is this dear Aramis? Let me embrace him, I am in a
hurry to see him again."
"Pardon, monsieur, but I doubt whether he can see you at this
"Why so? Has he a lady with him?"
"Jesus! What do you mean by that? Poor lad! No, monsieur, he
has not a lady with him."
"With whom is he, then?"
"With the curate of Montdidier and the superior of the Jesuits of
"Good heavens!" cried d'Artagnan, "is the poor fellow worse,
"No, monsieur, quite the contrary; but after his illness grace
touched him, and he determined to take orders."
"That's it!" said d'Artagnan, "I had forgotten that he was only a
Musketeer for a time."
"Monsieur still insists upon seeing him?"
"More than ever."
"Well, monsieur has only to take the right-hand staircase in the
courtyard, and knock at Number Five on the second floor."
D'Artagnan walked quickly in the direction indicated, and found
one of those exterior staircases that are still to be seen in the
yards of our old-fashioned taverns. But there was no getting at
the place of sojourn of the future abbe; the defiles of the
chamber of Aramis were as well guarded as the gardens of Armida.
Bazin was stationed in the corridor, and barred his passage with
the more intrepidity that, after many years of trial, Bazin found
himself near a result of which he had ever been ambitious.
In fact, the dream of poor Bazin had always been to serve a
churchman; and he awaited with impatience the moment, always in
the future, when Aramis would throw aside the uniform and assume
the cassock. The daily-renewed promise of the young man that the
moment would not long be delayed, had alone kept him in the
service of a Musketeer--a service in which, he said, his soul was
in constant jeopardy.
Bazin was then at the height of joy. In all probability, this
time his master would not retract. The union of physical pain
with moral uneasiness had produced the effect so long desired.
Aramis, suffering at once in body and mind, had at length fixed
his eyes and his thoughts upon religion, and he had considered as
a warning from heaven the double accident which had happened to
him; that is to say, the sudden disappearance of his mistress and
the wound in his shoulder.
It may be easily understood that in the present disposition of
his master nothing could be more disagreeable to Bazin than the
arrival of d'Artagnan, which might cast his master back again
into that vortex of mundane affairs which had so long carried him
away. He resolved, then, to defend the door bravely; and as,
betrayed by the mistress of the inn, he could not say that Aramis
was absent, he endeavored to prove to the newcomer that it would
be the height of indiscretion to disturb his master in his pious
conference, which had commenced with the morning and would not,
as Bazin said, terminate before night.
But d'Artagnan took very little heed of the eloquent discourse of
M. Bazin; and as he had no desire to support a polemic discussion
with his friend's valet, he simply moved him out of the way with
one hand, and with the other turned the handle of the door of
Number Five. The door opened, and d'Artagnan went into the
Aramis, in a black gown, his head enveloped in a sort of round
flat cap, not much unlike a CALOTTE, was seated before an oblong
table, covered with rolls of paper and enormous volumes in folio.
At his right hand was placed the superior of the Jesuits, and on
his left the curate of Montdidier. The curtains were half drawn,
and only admitted the mysterious light calculated for beatific
reveries. All the mundane objects that generally strike the eye
on entering the room of a young man, particularly when that young
man is a Musketeer, had disappeared as if by enchantment; and for
fear, no doubt, that the sight of them might bring his master
back to ideas of this world, Bazin had laid his hands upon sword,
pistols, plumed hat, and embroideries and laces of all kinds and
sorts. In their stead d'Artagnan thought he perceived in an
obscure corner a discipline cord suspended from a nail in the
At the noise made by d'Artagnan in entering, Aramis lifted up his
head, and beheld his friend; but to the great astonishment of the
young man, the sight of him did not produce much effect upon the
Musketeer, so completely was his mind detached from the things of
"Good day, dear d'Artagnan," said Aramis; "believe me, I am glad
to see you."
"So am I delighted to see you," said d'Artagnan, "although I am
not yet sure that it is Aramis I am speaking to."
"To himself, my friend, to himself! But what makes you doubt
"I was afraid I had made a mistake in the chamber, and that I had
found my way into the apartment of some churchman. Then another
error seized me on seeing you in company with these gentlemen--I
was afraid you were dangerously ill."
The two men in black, who guessed d'Artagnan's meaning, darted at
him a glance which might have been thought threatening; but
d'Artagnan took no heed of it.
"I disturb you, perhaps, my dear Aramis," continued d'Artagnan,
"for by what I see, I am led to believe that you are confessing
to these gentlemen."
Aramis colored imperceptibly. "You disturb me? Oh, quite the
contrary, dear friend, I swear; and as a proof of what I say,
permit me to declare I am rejoiced to see you safe and sound."
"Ah, he'll come round," thought d'Artagnan; "that's not bad!"
"This gentleman, who is my friend, has just escaped from a
serious danger," continued Aramis, with unction, pointing to
d'Artagnan with his hand, and addressing the two ecclesiastics.
"Praise God, monsieur," replied they, bowing together.
"I have not failed to do so, your Reverences," replied the young
man, returning their salutation.
"You arrive in good time, dear d'Artagnan," said Aramis, "and by
taking part in our discussion may assist us with your
intelligence. Monsieur the Principal of Amiens, Monsieur the
Curate of Montdidier, and I are arguing certain theological
questions in which we have been much interested; I shall be
delighted to have your opinion."
"The opinion of a swordsman can have very little weight," replied
d'Artagnan, who began to be uneasy at the turn things were
taking, "and you had better be satisfied, believe me, with the
knowledge of these gentlemen."
The two men in black bowed in their turn.
"On the contrary," replied Aramis, "your opinion will be very
valuable. The question is this: Monsieur the Principal thinks
that my thesis ought to be dogmatic and didactic."
"Your thesis! Are you then making a thesis?"
"Without doubt," replied the Jesuit. "In the examination which
precedes ordination, a thesis is always a requisite."
"Ordination!" cried d'Artagnan, who could not believe what the
hostess and Bazin had successively told him; and he gazed, half
stupefied, upon the three persons before him.
"Now," continued Aramis, taking the same graceful position in his
easy chair that he would have assumed in bed, and complacently
examining his hand, which was as white and plump as that of a
woman, and which he held in the air to cause the blood to
descend, "now, as you have heard, d'Artagnan, Monsieur the
Principal is desirous that my thesis should be dogmatic, while I,
for my part, would rather it should be ideal. This is the reason
why Monsieur the Principal has proposed to me the following
subject, which has not yet been treated upon, and in which I
perceive there is matter for magnificent elaboration-'UTRAQUE
MANUS IN BENEDICENDO CLERICIS INFERIORIBUS NECESSARIA EST.'"
D'Artagnan, whose erudition we are well acquainted with, evinced
no more interest on hearing this quotation than he had at that of
M. de Treville in allusion to the gifts he pretended that
d'Artagnan had received from the Duke of Buckingham.
"Which means," resumed Aramis, that he might perfectly
understand, "'The two hands are indispensable for priests of the
inferior orders, when they bestow the benediction.'"
"An admirable subject!" cried the Jesuit.
"Admirable and dogmatic!" repeated the curate, who, about as
strong as d'Artagnan with respect to Latin, carefully watched the
Jesuit in order to keep step with him, and repeated his words
like an echo.
As to d'Artagnan, he remained perfectly insensible to the
enthusiasm of the two men in black.
"Yes, admirable! PRORSUS ADMIRABILE!" continued Aramis; "but
which requires a profound study of both the Scriptures and the
Fathers. Now, I have confessed to these learned ecclesiastics,
and that in all humility, that the duties of mounting guard and
the service of the king have caused me to neglect study a little.
I should find myself, therefore, more at my ease, FACILUS NATANS,
in a subject of my own choice, which would be to these hard
theological questions what morals are to metaphysics in
D'Artagnan began to be tired, and so did the curate.
"See what an exordium!" cried the Jesuit.
"Exordium," repeated the curate, for the sake of saying
something. "QUEMADMODUM INTER COELORUM IMMENSITATEM."
Aramis cast a glance upon d'Artagnan to see what effect all this
produced, and found his friend gaping enough to split his jaws.
"Let us speak French, my father," said he to the Jesuit;
"Monsieur d'Artagnan will enjoy our conversation better."
"Yes," replied d'Artagnan; "I am fatigued with reading, and all
this Latin confuses me."
"Certainly," replied the Jesuit, a little put out, while the
curate, greatly delighted, turned upon d'Artagnan a look full of
gratitude. "Well, let us see what is to be derived from this
gloss. Moses, the servant of God-he was but a servant, please to
understand-Moses blessed with the hands; he held out both his
arms while the Hebrews beat their enemies, and then he blessed
them with his two hands. Besides, what does the Gospel say?
IMPONITE MANUS, and not MANUM-place the HANDS, not the HAND."
"Place the HANDS," repeated the curate, with a gesture.
"St. Peter, on the contrary, of whom the Popes are the
successors," continued the Jesuit; "PORRIGE DIGITOS-present the
fingers. Are you there, now?"
"CERTES," replied Aramis, in a pleased tone, "but the thing is
"The FINGERS," resumed the Jesuit, "St. Peter blessed with the
FINGERS. The Pope, therefore blesses with the fingers. And with
how many fingers does he bless? With THREE fingers, to be sure-
one for the Father, one for the Son, and one for the Holy Ghost."
All crossed themselves. D'Artagnan thought it was proper to
follow this example.
"The Pope is the successor of St. Peter, and represents the three
divine powers; the rest-ORDINES INFERIORES-of the ecclesiastical
hierarchy bless in the name of the holy archangels and angels.
The most humble clerks such as our deacons and sacristans, bless
with holy water sprinklers, which resemble an infinite number of
blessing fingers. There is the subject simplified. ARGUMENTUM
OMNI DENUDATUM ORNAMENTO. I could make of that subject two
volumes the size of this," continued the Jesuit; and in his
enthusiasm he struck a St. Chrysostom in folio, which made the
table bend beneath its weight.
"CERTES," said Aramis, "I do justice to the beauties of this
thesis; but at the same time I perceive it would be overwhelming
for me. I had chosen this text-tell me, dear d'Artagnan, if it
is not to your taste-'NON INUTILE EST DESIDERIUM IN OBLATIONE';
that is, 'A little regret is not unsuitable in an offering to the
"Stop there!" cried the Jesuit, "for that thesis touches closely
upon heresy. There is a proposition almost like it in the
AUGUSTINUS of the heresiarch Jansenius, whose book will sooner or
later be burned by the hands of the executioner. Take care, my
young friend. You are inclining toward false doctrines, my young
friend; you will be lost."
"You will be lost," said the curate, shaking his head
"You approach that famous point of free will which is a mortal
rock. You face the insinuations of the Pelagians and the semi-
"But, my Reverend-" replied Aramis, a little amazed by the shower
of arguments that poured upon his head.
"How will you prove," continued the Jesuit, without allowing him
time to speak, "that we ought to regret the world when we offer
ourselves to God? Listen to this dilemma: God is God, and the
world is the devil. To regret the world is to regret the devil;
that is my conclusion."
"And that is mine also," said the curate.
"But, for heaven's sake-" resumed Aramis.
"DESIDERAS DIABOLUM, unhappy man!" cried the Jesuit.
"He regrets the devil! Ah, my young friend," added the curate,
groaning, "do not regret the devil, I implore you!"
D'Artagnan felt himself bewildered. It seemed to him as though
he were in a madhouse, and was becoming as mad as those he saw.
He was, however, forced to hold his tongue from not comprehending
half the language they employed.
"But listen to me, then," resumed Aramis with politeness mingled
with a little impatience. "I do not say I regret; no, I will
never pronounce that sentence, which would not be orthodox."
The Jesuit raised his hands toward heaven, and the curate did the
"No; but pray grant me that it is acting with an ill grace to
offer to the Lord only that with which we are perfectly
disgusted! Don't you think so, d'Artagnan?"
"I think so, indeed," cried he.
The Jesuit and the curate quite started from their chairs.
"This is the point of departure; it is a syllogism. The world is
not wanting in attractions. I quit the world; then I make a
sacrifice. Now, the Scripture says positively, 'Make a sacrifice
unto the Lord.'"
"That is true," said his antagonists.
"And then," said Aramis, pinching his ear to make it red, as he
rubbed his hands to make them white, "and then I made a certain
RONDEAU upon it last year, which I showed to Monsieur Voiture,
and that great man paid me a thousand compliments."
"A RONDEAU!" said the Jesuit, disdainfully.
"A RONDEAU!" said the curate, mechanically.
"Repeat it! Repeat it!" cried d'Artagnan; "it will make a little
"Not so, for it is religious," replied Aramis; "it is theology in
"The devil!" said d'Artagnan.
"Here it is," said Aramis, with a little look of diffidence,
which, however, was not exempt from a shade of hypocrisy:
"Vous qui pleurez un passe plein de charmes,
Et qui trainez des jours infortunes,
Tous vos malheurs se verront termines,
Quand a Dieu seul vous offrirez vos larmes,
Vous qui pleurez!"
"You who weep for pleasures fled,
While dragging on a life of care,
All your woes will melt in air,
If to God your tears are shed,
You who weep!"
d'Artagnan and the curate appeared pleased. The Jesuit persisted
in his opinion. "Beware of a profane taste in your theological
style. What says Augustine on this subject: 'SEVERUS SIT
"Yes, let the sermon be clear," said the curate.
"Now," hastily interrupted the Jesuit, on seeing that his acolyte
was going astray, "now your thesis would please the ladies; it
would have the success of one of Monsieur Patru's pleadings."
"Please God!" cried Aramis, transported.
"There it is," cried the Jesuit; "the world still speaks within
you in a loud voice, ALTISIMMA VOCE. You follow the world, my
young friend, and I tremble lest grace prove not efficacious."
"Be satisfied, my reverend father, I can answer for myself."
"I know myself, Father; my resolution is irrevocable."
"Then you persist in continuing that thesis?"
"I feel myself called upon to treat that, and no other. I will
see about the continuation of it, and tomorrow I hope you will be
satisfied with the corrections I shall have made in consequence
of your advice."
"Work slowly," said the curate; "we leave you in an excellent
tone of mind."
"Yes, the ground is all sown," said the Jesuit, "and we have not
to fear that one portion of the seed may have fallen upon stone,
another upon the highway, or that the birds of heaven have eaten
the rest, AVES COELI COMEDERUNT ILLAM."
"Plague stifle you and your Latin!" said d'Artagnan, who began to
feel all his patience exhausted.
"Farewell, my son," said the curate, "till tomorrow."
"Till tomorrow, rash youth," said the Jesuit. "You promise to
become one of the lights of the Church. Heaven grant that this
light prove not a devouring fire!"
D'Artagnan, who for an hour past had been gnawing his nails with
impatience, was beginning to attack the quick.
The two men in black rose, bowed to Aramis and d'Artagnan, and
advanced toward the door. Bazin, who had been standing listening
to all this controversy with a pious jubilation, sprang toward
them, took the breviary of the curate and the missal of the
Jesuit, and walked respectfully before them to clear their way.
Aramis conducted them to the foot of the stairs, and then
immediately came up again to d'Artagnan, whose senses were still
in a state of confusion.
When left alone, the two friends at first kept an embarrassed
silence. It however became necessary for one of them to break it
first, and as d'Artagnan appeared determined to leave that honor
to his companion, Aramis said, "you see that I am returned to my
"Yes, efficacious grace has touched you, as that gentleman said
"Oh, these plans of retreat have been formed for a long time.
You have often heard me speak of them, have you not, my friend?"
"Yes; but I confess I always thought you jested."
"With such things! Oh, d'Artagnan!"
"The devil! Why, people jest with death."
"And people are wrong, d'Artagnan; for death is the door which
leads to perdition or to salvation."
"Granted; but if you please, let us not theologize, Aramis. You
must have had enough for today. As for me, I have almost
forgotten the little Latin I have ever known. Then I confess to
you that I have eaten nothing since ten o'clock this morning, and
I am devilish hungry."
"We will dine directly, my friend; only you must please to
remember that this is Friday. Now, on such a day I can neither
eat flesh nor see it eaten. If you can be satisfied with my
dinner-it consists of cooked tetragones and fruits."
"What do you mean by tetragones?" asked d'Artagnan, uneasily.
"I mean spinach," replied Aramis; "but on your account I will add
some eggs, and that is a serious infraction of the rule-for eggs
are meat, since they engender chickens."
"This feast is not very succulent; but never mind, I will put up
with it for the sake of remaining with you."
"I am grateful to you for the sacrifice," said Aramis; "but if
your body be not greatly benefited by it, be assured your soul
"And so, Aramis, you are decidedly going into the Church? What
will our two friends say? What will Monsieur de Treville say?
They will treat you as a deserter, I warn you."
"I do not enter the Church; I re-enter it. I deserted the Church
for the world, for you know that I forced myself when I became a
"I? I know nothing about it."
"You don't know I quit the seminary?"
"Not at all."
"This is my story, then. Besides, the Scriptures say, 'Confess
yourselves to one another,' and I confess to you, d'Artagnan."
"And I give you absolution beforehand. You see I am a good sort
of a man."
"Do not jest about holy things, my friend."
"Go on, then, I listen."
"I had been at the seminary from nine years old; in three days I
should have been twenty. I was about to become an abbe, and all
was arranged. One evening I went, according to custom, to a
house which I frequented with much pleasure: when one is young,
what can be expected?--one is weak. An officer who saw me, with
a jealous eye, reading the LIVES OF THE SAINTS to the mistress of
the house, entered suddenly and without being announced. That
evening I had translated an episode of Judith, and had just
communicated my verses to the lady, who gave me all sorts of
compliments, and leaning on my shoulder, was reading them a
second time with me. Her pose, which I must admit was rather
free, wounded this officer. He said nothing; but when I went out
he followed, and quickly came up with me. 'Monsieur the Abbe,'
said he, 'do you like blows with a cane?' 'I cannot say,
monsieur,' answered I; 'no one has ever dared to give me any.'
'Well, listen to me, then, Monsieur the Abbe! If you venture
again into the house in which I have met you this evening, I will
dare it myself.' I really think I must have been frightened. I
became very pale; I felt my legs fail me; I sought for a reply,
but could find none-I was silent. The officer waited for his
reply, and seeing it so long coming, he burst into a laugh,
turned upon his heel, and re-entered the house. I returned to
"I am a gentleman born, and my blood is warm, as you may have
remarked, my dear d'Artagnan. The insult was terrible, and
although unknown to the rest of the world, I felt it live and
fester at the bottom of my heart. I informed my superiors that I
did not feel myself sufficiently prepared for ordination, and at
my request the ceremony was postponed for a year. I sought out
the best fencing master in Paris, I made an agreement with him to
take a lesson every day, and every day for a year I took that
lesson. Then, on the anniversary of the day on which I had been
insulted, I hung my cassock on a peg, assumed the costume of a
cavalier, and went to a ball given by a lady friend of mine and
to which I knew my man was invited. It was in the Rue des
France-Bourgeois, close to La Force. As I expected, my officer
was there. I went up to him as he was singing a love ditty and
looking tenderly at a lady, and interrupted him exactly in the
middle of the second couplet. 'Monsieur,' said I, 'does it still
displease you that I should frequent a certain house of La Rue
Payenne? And would you still cane me if I took it into my head
to disobey you? The officer looked at me with astonishment, and
then said, 'What is your business with me, monsieur? I do not
know you.' 'I am,' said I, 'the little abbe who reads LIVES OF
THE SAINTS, and translates Judith into verse.' 'Ah, ah! I
recollect now,' said the officer, in a jeering tone; 'well, what
do you want with me?' 'I want you to spare time to take a walk
with me.' 'Tomorrow morning, if you like, with the greatest
pleasure.' 'No, not tomorrow morning, if you please, but
immediately.' 'If you absolutely insist.' 'I do insist upon
it.' 'Come, then. Ladies,' said the officer, 'do not disturb
yourselves; allow me time just to kill this gentleman, and I will
return and finish the last couplet.'
"We went out. I took him to the Rue Payenne, to exactly the same
spot where, a year before, at the very same hour, he had paid me
the compliment I have related to you. It was a superb moonlight
night. We immediately drew, and at the first pass I laid him
"The devil!" cried d'Artagnan.
"Now," continued Aramis, "as the ladies did not see the singer
come back, and as he was found in the Rue Payenne with a great
sword wound through his body, it was supposed that I had
accommodated him thus; and the matter created some scandal which
obliged me to renounce the cassock for a time. Athos, whose
acquaintance I made about that period, and Porthos, who had in
addition to my lessons taught me some effective tricks of fence,
prevailed upon me to solicit the uniform of a Musketeer. The
king entertained great regard for my father, who had fallen at
the siege of Arras, and the uniform was granted. You may understand
that the moment has come for me to re-enter the bosom of the
"And why today, rather than yesterday or tomorrow? What has
happened to you today, to raise all these melancholy ideas?"
"This wound, my dear d'Artagnan, has been a warning to me from
"This wound? Bah, it is now nearly healed, and I am sure it is
not that which gives you the most pain."
"What, then?" said Aramis, blushing.
"You have one at heart, Aramis, one deeper and more painful--a
wound made by a woman."
The eye of Aramis kindled in spite of himself.
"Ah," said he, dissembling his emotion under a feigned
carelessness, "do not talk of such things, and suffer love pains?
VANITAS VANITATUM! According to your idea, then, my brain is
turned. And for whom-for some GRISETTE, some chambermaid with
whom I have trifled in some garrison? Fie!"
"Pardon, my dear Aramis, but I thought you carried your eyes
"Higher? And who am I, to nourish such ambition? A poor
Musketeer, a beggar, an unknown-who hates slavery, and finds
himself ill-placed in the world."
"Aramis, Aramis!" cried d'Artagnan, looking at his friend with an
air of doubt.
"Dust I am, and to dust I return. Life is full of humiliations
and sorrows," continued he, becoming still more melancholy; "all
the ties which attach him to life break in the hand of man,
particularly the golden ties. Oh, my dear d'Artagnan," resumed
Aramis, giving to his voice a slight tone of bitterness, "trust
me! Conceal your wounds when you have any; silence is the last
joy of the unhappy. Beware of giving anyone the clue to your
griefs; the curious suck our tears as flies suck the blood of a
"Alas, my dear Aramis," said d'Artagnan, in his turn heaving a
profound sigh, "that is my story you are relating!"
"Yes; a woman whom I love, whom I adore, has just been torn from
me by force. I do not know where she is or whither they have
conducted her. She is perhaps a prisoner; she is perhaps dead!"
"Yes, but you have at least this consolation, that you can say to
yourself she has not quit you voluntarily, that if you learn no
news of her, it is because all communication with you is
interdicted; while I--"
"Nothing," replied Aramis, "nothing."
"So you renounce the world, then, forever; that is a settled
thing--a resolution registered!"
"Forever! You are my friend today; tomorrow you will be no more
to me than a shadow, or rather, even, you will no longer exist.
As for the world, it is a sepulcher and nothing else."
"The devil! All this is very sad which you tell me."
"What will you? My vocation commands me; it carries me away."
D'Artagnan smiled, but made no answer.
Aramis continued, "And yet, while I do belong to the earth, I
wish to speak of you--of our friends."
"And on my part," said d'Artagnan, "I wished to speak of you, but
I find you so completely detached from everything! To love you