Part 8 out of 17
cry, 'Fie! Friends are shadows! The world is a sepulcher!'"
"Alas, you will find it so yourself," said Aramis, with a sigh.
"Well, then, let us say no more about it," said d'Artagnan; "and
let us burn this letter, which, no doubt, announces to you some
fresh infidelity of your GRISETTE or your chambermaid."
"What letter?" cried Aramis, eagerly.
"A letter which was sent to your abode in your absence, and which
was given to me for you."
"But from whom is that letter?"
"Oh, from some heartbroken waiting woman, some desponding
GRISETTE; from Madame de Chevreuse's chambermaid, perhaps, who
was obliged to return to Tours with her mistress, and who, in
order to appear smart and attractive, stole some perfumed paper,
and sealed her letter with a duchess's coronet."
"What do you say?"
"Hold! I must have lost it," said the young man maliciously,
pretending to search for it. "But fortunately the world is a
sepulcher; the men, and consequently the women, are but shadows,
and love is a sentiment to which you cry, 'Fie! Fie!'"
"d'Artagnan, d'Artagnan," cried Aramis, "you are killing me!"
"Well, here it is at last!" said d'Artagnan, as he drew the
letter from his pocket.
Aramis made a bound, seized the letter, read it, or rather
devoured it, his countenance radiant.
"This same waiting maid seems to have an agreeable style," said
the messenger, carelessly.
"Thanks, d'Artagnan, thanks!" cried Aramis, almost in a state of
delirium. "She was forced to return to Tours; she is not
faithless; she still loves me! Come, my friend, come, let me
embrace you. Happiness almost stifles me!"
The two friends began to dance around the venerable St.
Chrysostom, kicking about famously the sheets of the thesis,
which had fallen on the floor.
At that moment Bazin entered with the spinach and the omelet.
"Be off, you wretch!" cried Aramis, throwing his skullcap in his
face. "Return whence you came; take back those horrible
vegetables, and that poor kickshaw! Order a larded hare, a fat
capon, mutton leg dressed with garlic, and four bottles of old
Bazin, who looked at his master, without comprehending the cause
of this change, in a melancholy manner, allowed the omelet to
slip into the spinach, and the spinach onto the floor.
"Now this is the moment to consecrate your existence to the King
of kings," said d'Artagnan, "if you persist in offering him a
civility. NON INUTILE DESIDERIUM OBLATIONE."
"Go to the devil with your Latin. Let us drink, my dear
d'Artagnan, MORBLEU! Let us drink while the wine is fresh! Let
us drink heartily, and while we do so, tell me a little of what
is going on in the world yonder."
27 THE WIFE OF ATHOS
"We have now to search for Athos," said d'Artagnan to the
vivacious Aramis, when he had informed him of all that had passed
since their departure from the capital, and an excellent dinner
had made one of them forget his thesis and the other his fatigue.
"Do you think, then, that any harm can have happened to him?"
asked Aramis. "Athos is so cool, so brave, and handles his sword
"No doubt. Nobody has a higher opinion of the courage and skill
of Athos than I have; but I like better to hear my sword clang
against lances than against staves. I fear lest Athos should
have been beaten down by serving men. Those fellows strike hard,
and don't leave off in a hurry. This is why I wish to set out
again as soon as possible."
"I will try to accompany you," said Aramis, "though I scarcely
feel in a condition to mount on horseback. Yesterday I undertook
to employ that cord which you see hanging against the wall, but
pain prevented my continuing the pious exercise."
"That's the first time I ever heard of anybody trying to cure
gunshot wounds with cat-o'-nine-tails; but you were ill, and
illness renders the head weak, therefore you may be excused."
"When do you mean to set out?"
"Tomorrow at daybreak. Sleep as soundly as you can tonight, and
tomorrow, if you can, we will take our departure together."
"Till tomorrow, then," said Aramis; "for iron-nerved as you are,
you must need repose."
The next morning, when d'Artagnan entered Aramis's chamber, he
found him at the window.
"What are you looking at?" asked d'Artagnan.
"My faith! I am admiring three magnificent horses which the
stable boys are leading about. It would be a pleasure worthy of
a prince to travel upon such horses."
"Well, my dear Aramis, you may enjoy that pleasure, for one of
those three horses is yours."
"Ah, bah! Which?"
"Whichever of the three you like, I have no preference."
"And the rich caparison, is that mine, too?"
"You laugh, d'Artagnan."
"No, I have left off laughing, now that you speak French."
"What, those rich holsters, that velvet housing, that saddle
studded with silver-are they all for me?"
"For you and nobody else, as the horse which paws the ground is
mine, and the other horse, which is caracoling, belongs to
"PESTE! They are three superb animals!"
"I am glad they please you."
"Why, it must have been the king who made you such a present."
"Certainly it was not the cardinal; but don't trouble yourself
whence they come, think only that one of the three is your
"I choose that which the red-headed boy is leading."
"It is yours!"
"Good heaven! That is enough to drive away all my pains; I could
mount him with thirty balls in my body. On my soul, handsome
stirrups! HOLA, Bazin, come here this minute."
Bazin appeared on the threshold, dull and spiritless.
"That last order is useless," interrupted d'Artagnan; "there are
loaded pistols in your holsters."
"Come, Monsieur Bazin, make yourself easy," said d'Artagnan;
"people of all conditions gain the kingdom of heaven."
"Monsieur was already such a good theologian," said Bazin, almost
weeping; "he might have become a bishop, and perhaps a cardinal."
"Well, but my poor Bazin, reflect a little. Of what use is it to
be a churchman, pray? You do not avoid going to war by that
means; you see, the cardinal is about to make the next campaign,
helm on head and partisan in hand. And Monsieur de Nogaret de la
Valette, what do you say of him? He is a cardinal likewise. Ask
his lackey how often he has had to prepare lint of him."
"Alas!" sighed Bazin. "I know it, monsieur; everything is turned
topsy-turvy in the world nowadays."
While this dialogue was going on, the two young men and the poor
"Hold my stirrup, Bazin," cried Aramis; and Aramis sprang into
the saddle with his usual grace and agility, but after a few
vaults and curvets of the noble animal his rider felt his pains
come on so insupportably that he turned pale and became unsteady
in his seat. D'Artagnan, who, foreseeing such an event, had kept
his eye on him, sprang toward him, caught him in his arms, and
assisted him to his chamber.
"That's all right, my dear Aramis, take care of yourself," said
he; "I will go alone in search of Athos."
"You are a man of brass," replied Aramis.
"No, I have good luck, that is all. But how do you mean to pass
your time till I come back? No more theses, no more glosses upon
the fingers or upon benedictions, hey?"
Aramis smiled. "I will make verses," said he.
"Yes, I dare say; verses perfumed with the odor of the billet
from the attendant of Madame de Chevreuse. Teach Bazin prosody;
that will console him. As to the horse, ride him a little every
day, and that will accustom you to his maneuvers."
"Oh, make yourself easy on that head," replied Aramis. "You will
find me ready to follow you."
They took leave of each other, and in ten minutes, after having
commended his friend to the cares of the hostess and Bazin,
d'Artagnan was trotting along in the direction of Amiens.
How was he going to find Athos? Should he find him at all? The
position in which he had left him was critical. He probably had
succumbed. This idea, while darkening his brow, drew several
sighs from him, and caused him to formulate to himself a few vows
of vengeance. Of all his friends, Athos was the eldest, and the
least resembling him in appearance, in his tastes and sympathies.
Yet he entertained a marked preference for this gentleman. The
noble and distinguished air of Athos, those flashes of greatness
which from time to time broke out from the shade in which he
voluntarily kept himself, that unalterable equality of temper
which made him the most pleasant companion in the world, that
forced and cynical gaiety, that bravery which might have been
termed blind if it had not been the result of the rarest
coolness--such qualities attracted more than the esteem, more than
the friendship of d'Artagnan; they attracted his admiration.
Indeed, when placed beside M. de Treville, the elegant and noble
courtier, Athos in his most cheerful days might advantageously
sustain a comparison. He was of middle height; but his person
was so admirably shaped and so well proportioned that more than
once in his struggles with Porthos he had overcome the giant
whose physical strength was proverbial among the Musketeers. His
head, with piercing eyes, a straight nose, a chin cut like that
of Brutus, had altogether an indefinable character of grandeur
and grace. His hands, of which he took little care, were the
despair of Aramis, who cultivated his with almond paste and
perfumed oil. The sound of his voice was at once penetrating and
melodious; and then, that which was inconceivable in Athos, who
was always retiring, was that delicate knowledge of the world and
of the usages of the most brilliant society--those manners of a
high degree which appeared, as if unconsciously to himself, in
his least actions.
If a repast were on foot, Athos presided over it better than any
other, placing every guest exactly in the rank which his
ancestors had earned for him or that he had made for himself. If
a question in heraldry were started, Athos knew all the noble
families of the kingdom, their genealogy, their alliances, their
coats of arms, and the origin of them. Etiquette had no minutiae
unknown to him. He knew what were the rights of the great land
owners. He was profoundly versed in hunting and falconry, and
had one day when conversing on this great art astonished even
Louis XIII himself, who took a pride in being considered a past
Like all the great nobles of that period, Athos rode and fenced
to perfection. But still further, his education had been so
little neglected, even with respect to scholastic studies, so
rare at this time among gentlemen, that he smiled at the scraps
of Latin which Aramis sported and which Porthos pretended to
understand. Two or three times, even, to the great astonishment
of his friends, he had, when Aramis allowed some rudimental error
to escape him, replaced a verb in its right tense and a noun in
its case. Besides, his probity was irreproachable, in an age in
which soldiers compromised so easily with their religion and
their consciences, lovers with the rigorous delicacy of our era,
and the poor with God's Seventh Commandment. This Athos, then,
was a very extraordinary man.
And yet this nature so distinguished, this creature so beautiful,
this essence so fine, was seen to turn insensibly toward material
life, as old men turn toward physical and moral imbecility.
Athos, in his hours of gloom--and these hours were frequent--was
extinguished as to the whole of the luminous portion of him, and
his brilliant side disappeared as into profound darkness.
Then the demigod vanished; he remained scarcely a man. His head
hanging down, his eye dull, his speech slow and painful, Athos
would look for hours together at his bottle, his glass, or at
Grimaud, who, accustomed to obey him by signs, read in the faint
glance of his master his least desire, and satisfied it
immediately. If the four friends were assembled at one of these
moments, a word, thrown forth occasionally with a violent effort,
was the share Athos furnished to the conversation. In exchange
for his silence Athos drank enough for four, and without
appearing to be otherwise affected by wine than by a more marked
constriction of the brow and by a deeper sadness.
D'Artagnan, whose inquiring disposition we are acquainted with,
had not--whatever interest he had in satisfying his curiosity on
this subject--been able to assign any cause for these fits of for
the periods of their recurrence. Athos never received any
letters; Athos never had concerns which all his friends did not
It could not be said that it was wine which produced this
sadness; for in truth he only drank to combat this sadness, which
wine however, as we have said, rendered still darker. This
excess of bilious humor could not be attributed to play; for
unlike Porthos, who accompanied the variations of chance with
songs or oaths, Athos when he won remained as unmoved as when he
lost. He had been known, in the circle of the Musketeers, to win
in one night three thousand pistoles; to lose them even to the
gold-embroidered belt for gala days, win all this again with the
addition of a hundred louis, without his beautiful eyebrow being
heightened or lowered half a line, without his hands losing their
pearly hue, without his conversation, which was cheerful that
evening, ceasing to be calm and agreeable.
Neither was it, as with our neighbors, the English, an
atmospheric influence which darkened his countenance; for the
sadness generally became more intense toward the fine season of
the year. June and July were the terrible months with Athos.
For the present he had no anxiety. He shrugged his shoulders
when people spoke of the future. His secret, then, was in the
past, as had often been vaguely said to d'Artagnan.
This mysterious shade, spread over his whole person, rendered
still more interesting the man whose eyes or mouth, even in the
most complete intoxication, had never revealed anything, however
skillfully questions had been put to him.
"Well," thought d'Artagnan, "poor Athos is perhaps at this moment
dead, and dead by my fault--for it was I who dragged him into this
affair, of which he did not know the origin, of which he is
ignorant of the result, and from which he can derive no
"Without reckoning, monsieur," added Planchet to his master's
audibly expressed reflections, "that we perhaps owe our lives to
him. Do you remember how he cried, 'On, d'Artagnan, on, I am
taken'? And when he had discharged his two pistols, what a
terrible noise he made with his sword! One might have said that
twenty men, or rather twenty mad devils, were fighting."
These words redoubled the eagerness of d'Artagnan, who urged his
horse, though he stood in need of no incitement, and they
proceeded at a rapid pace. About eleven o'clock in the morning
they perceived Ameins, and at half past eleven they were at the
door of the cursed inn.
D'Artagnan had often meditated against the perfidious host one of
those hearty vengeances which offer consolation while they are
hoped for. He entered the hostelry with his hat pulled over his
eyes, his left hand on the pommel of the sword, and cracking his
whip with his right hand.
"Do you remember me?" said he to the host, who advanced to greet
"I have not that honor, monseigneur," replied the latter, his
eyes dazzled by the brilliant style in which d'Artagnan traveled.
"What, you don't know me?"
"Well, two words will refresh your memory. What have you done
with that gentleman against whom you had the audacity, about
twelve days ago, to make an accusation of passing false money?"
The host became as pale as death; for d'Artagnan had assumed a
threatening attitude, and Planchet modeled himself after his
"Ah, monseigneur, do not mention it!" cried the host, in the most
pitiable voice imaginable. "Ah, monseigneur, how dearly have I
paid for that fault, unhappy wretch as I am!"
"That gentleman, I say, what has become of him?"
"Deign to listen to me, monseigneur, and be merciful! Sit down,
D'Artagnan, mute with anger and anxiety, took a seat in the
threatening attitude of a judge. Planchet glared fiercely over
the back of his armchair.
"Here is the story, monseigneur," resumed the trembling host;
"for I now recollect you. It was you who rode off at the moment
I had that unfortunate difference with the gentleman you speak
"Yes, it was I; so you may plainly perceive that you have no
mercy to expect if you do not tell me the whole truth."
"Condescend to listen to me, and you shall know all."
"I had been warned by the authorities that a celebrated coiner of
bad money would arrive at my inn, with several of his companions,
all disguised as Guards or Musketeers. Monseigneur, I was
furnished with a description of your horses, your lackeys, your
countenances--nothing was omitted."
"Go on, go on!" said d'Artagnan, who quickly understood whence
such an exact description had come.
"I took then, in conformity with the orders of the authorities,
who sent me a reinforcement of six men, such measures as I
thought necessary to get possession of the persons of the
"Again!" said d'Artagnan, whose ears chafed terribly under the
repetition of this word COINERs.
"Pardon me, monseigneur, for saying such things, but they form my
excuse. The authorities had terrified me, and you know that an
innkeeper must keep on good terms with the authorities."
"But once again, that gentleman--where is he? What has become of
him? Is he dead? Is he living?"
"Patience, monseigneur, we are coming to it. There happened then
that which you know, and of which your precipitate departure,"
added the host, with an acuteness that did not escape d'Artagnan,
"appeared to authorize the issue. That gentleman, your friend,
defended himself desperately. His lackey, who, by an unforeseen
piece of ill luck, had quarreled with the officers, disguised as
"Miserable scoundrel!" cried d'Artagnan, "you were all in the
plot, then! And I really don't know what prevents me from
exterminating you all."
"Alas, monseigneur, we were not in the plot, as you will soon
see. Monsieur your friend (pardon for not calling him by the
honorable name which no doubt he bears, but we do not know that
name), Monsieur your friend, having disabled two men with his
pistols, retreated fighting with his sword, with which he disabled
one of my men, and stunned me with a blow of the flat side of
"You villain, will you finish?" cried d'Artagnan, "Athos--what has
become of Athos?"
"While fighting and retreating, as I have told Monseigneur, he
found the door of the cellar stairs behind him, and as the door
was open, he took out the key, and barricaded himself inside. As
we were sure of finding him there, we left him alone."
"Yes," said d'Artagnan, "you did not really wish to kill; you
only wished to imprison him."
"Good God! To imprison him, monseigneur? Why, he imprisoned
himself, I swear to you he did. In the first place he had made
rough work of it; one man was killed on the spot, and two others
were severely wounded. The dead man and the two wounded were
carried off by their comrades, and I have heard nothing of either
of them since. As for myself, as soon as I recovered my senses I
went to Monsieur the Governor, to whom I related all that had
passed, and asked, what I should do with my prisoner. Monsieur
the Governor was all astonishment. He told me he knew nothing
about the matter, that the orders I had received did not come
from him, and that if I had the audacity to mention his name as
being concerned in this disturbance he would have me hanged. It
appears that I had made a mistake, monsieur, that I had arrested
the wrong person, and that he whom I ought to have arrested had
"But Athos!" cried d'Artagnan, whose impatience was increased by
the disregard of the authorities, "Athos, where is he?"
"As I was anxious to repair the wrongs I had done the prisoner,"
resumed the innkeeper, "I took my way straight to the cellar in
order to set him at liberty. Ah, monsieur, he was no longer a
man, he was a devil! To my offer of liberty, he replied that it
was nothing but a snare, and that before he came out he intended
to impose his own conditions. I told him very humbly--for I could
not conceal from myself the scrape I had got into by laying hands
on one of his Majesty's Musketeers--I told him I was quite ready
to submit to his conditions.
"'In the first place,' said he, 'I wish my lackey placed with me,
fully armed.' We hastened to obey this order; for you will
please to understand, monsieur, we were disposed to do everything
your friend could desire. Monsieur Grimaud (he told us his name,
although he does not talk much)--Monsieur Grimaud, then, went down
to the cellar, wounded as he was; then his master, having
admitted him, barricaded the door afresh, and ordered us to
remain quietly in our own bar."
"But where is Athos now?" cried d'Artagnan. "Where is Athos?"
"In the cellar, monsieur."
"What, you scoundrel! Have you kept him in the cellar all this
"Merciful heaven! No, monsieur! We keep him in the cellar! You
do not know what he is about in the cellar. Ah! If you could
but persuade him to come out, monsieur, I should owe you the
gratitude of my whole life; I should adore you as my patron
"Then he is there? I shall find him there?"
"Without doubt you will, monsieur; he persists in remaining
there. We every day pass through the air hole some bread at the
end of a fork, and some meat when he asks for it; but alas! It
is not of bread and meat of which he makes the greatest
consumption. I once endeavored to go down with two of my
servants; but he flew into terrible rage. I heard the noise he
made in loading his pistols, and his servant in loading his
musketoon. Then, when we asked them what were their intentions,
the master replied that he had forty charges to fire, and that he
and his lackey would fire to the last one before he would allow a
single soul of us to set foot in the cellar. Upon this I went
and complained to the governor, who replied that I only had what
I deserved, and that it would teach me to insult honorable
gentlemen who took up their abode in my house."
"So that since that time--" replied d'Artagnan, totally unable to
refrain from laughing at the pitiable face of the host.
"So from that time, monsieur," continued the latter, "we have led
the most miserable life imaginable; for you must know, monsieur,
that all our provisions are in the cellar. There is our wine in
bottles, and our wine in casks; the beer, the oil, and the
spices, the bacon, and sausages. And as we are prevented from
going down there, we are forced to refuse food and drink to the
travelers who come to the house; so that our hostelry is daily
going to ruin. If your friend remains another week in my cellar
I shall be a ruined man."
"And not more than justice, either, you ass! Could you not
perceive by our appearance that we were people of quality, and
"Yes, monsieur, you are right," said the host. "But, hark, hark!
There he is!"
"Somebody has disturbed him, without doubt," said d'Artagnan.
"But he must be disturbed," cried the host; "Here are two English
gentlemen just arrived."
"Well, the English like good wine, as you may know, monsieur;
these have asked for the best. My wife has perhaps requested
permission of Monsieur Athos to go into the cellar to satisfy
these gentlemen; and he, as usual, has refused. Ah, good heaven!
There is the hullabaloo louder than ever!"
D'Artagnan, in fact, heard a great noise on the side next the
cellar. He rose, and preceded by the host wringing his hands,
and followed by Planchet with his musketoon ready for use, he
approached the scene of action.
The two gentlemen were exasperated; they had had a long ride, and
were dying with hunger and thirst.
"But this is tyranny!" cried one of them, in very good French,
though with a foreign accent, "that this madman will not allow
these good people access to their own wine! Nonsense, let us
break open the door, and if he is too far gone in his madness,
well, we will kill him!"
"Softly, gentlemen!" said d'Artagnan, drawing his pistols from
his belt, "you will kill nobody, if you please!"
"Good, good!" cried the calm voice of Athos, from the other side
of the door, "let them just come in, these devourers of little
children, and we shall see!"
Brave as they appeared to be, the two English gentlemen looked at
each other hesitatingly. One might have thought there was in
that cellar one of those famished ogres--the gigantic heroes of
popular legends, into whose cavern nobody could force their way
There was a moment of silence; but at length the two Englishmen
felt ashamed to draw back, and the angrier one descended the five
or six steps which led to the cellar, and gave a kick against the
door enough to split a wall.
"Planchet," said d'Artagnan, cocking his pistols, "I will take
charge of the one at the top; you look to the one below. Ah,
gentlemen, you want battle; and you shall have it."
"Good God!" cried the hollow voice of Athos, "I can hear
d'Artagnan, I think."
"Yes," cried d'Artagnan, raising his voice in turn, "I am here,
"Ah, good, then," replied Athos, "we will teach them, these door
The gentlemen had drawn their swords, but they found themselves
taken between two fires. They still hesitated an instant; but, as
before, pride prevailed, and a second kick split the door from
bottom to top.
"Stand on one side, d'Artagnan, stand on one side," cried Athos.
"I am going to fire!"
"Gentlemen," exclaimed d'Artagnan, whom reflection never
abandoned, "gentlemen, think of what you are about. Patience,
Athos! You are running your heads into a very silly affair; you
will be riddled. My lackey and I will have three shots at you,
and you will get as many from the cellar. You will then have our
swords, with which, I can assure you, my friend and I can play
tolerably well. Let me conduct your business and my own. You
shall soon have something to drink; I give you my word."
"If there is any left," grumbled the jeering voice of Athos.
The host felt a cold sweat creep down his back.
"How! 'If there is any left!'" murmured he.
"What the devil! There must be plenty left," replied d'Artagnan.
"Be satisfied of that; these two cannot have drunk all the
cellar. Gentlemen, return your swords to their scabbards."
"Well, provided you replace your pistols in your belt."
And d'Artagnan set the example. Then, turning toward Planchet,
he made him a sign to uncock his musketoon.
The Englishmen, convinced of these peaceful proceedings, sheathed
their swords grumblingly. The history of Athos's imprisonment
was then related to them; and as they were really gentlemen, they
pronounced the host in the wrong.
"Now, gentlemen," said d'Artagnan, "go up to your room again; and
in ten minutes, I will answer for it, you shall have all you
The Englishmen bowed and went upstairs.
"Now I am alone, my dear Athos," said d'Artagnan; "open the door,
I beg of you."
"Instantly," said Athos.
Then was heard a great noise of fagots being removed and of the
groaning of posts; these were the counterscarps and bastions of
Athos, which the besieged himself demolished.
An instant after, the broken door was removed, and the pale face
of Athos appeared, who with a rapid glance took a survey of the
D'Artagnan threw himself on his neck and embraced him tenderly.
He then tried to draw him from his moist abode, but to his
surprise he perceived that Athos staggered.
"You are wounded," said he.
"I! Not at all. I am dead drunk, that's all, and never did a
man more strongly set about getting so. By the Lord, my good
host! I must at least have drunk for my part a hundred and fifty
"Mercy!" cried the host, "if the lackey has drunk only half as
much as the master, I am a ruined man."
"Grimaud is a well-bred lackey. He would never think of faring
in the same manner as his master; he only drank from the cask.
Hark! I don't think he put the faucet in again. Do you hear it?
It is running now."
D'Artagnan burst into a laugh which changed the shiver of the
host into a burning fever.
In the meantime, Grimaud appeared in his turn behind his master,
with the musketoon on his shoulder, and his head shaking. Like
one of those drunken satyrs in the pictures of Rubens. He was
moistened before and behind with a greasy liquid which the host
recognized as his best olive oil.
The four crossed the public room and proceeded to take possession
of the best apartment in the house, which d'Artagnan occupied
In the meantime the host and his wife hurried down with lamps
into the cellar, which had so long been interdicted to them and
where a frightful spectacle awaited them.
Beyond the fortifications through which Athos had made a breach
in order to get out, and which were composed of fagots, planks,
and empty casks, heaped up according to all the rules of the
strategic art, they found, swimming in puddles of oil and wine,
the bones and fragments of all the hams they had eaten; while a
heap of broken bottles filled the whole left-hand corner of the
cellar, and a tun, the cock of which was left running, was
yielding, by this means, the last drop of its blood. "The image
of devastation and death," as the ancient poet says, "reigned as
over a field of battle."
Of fifty large sausages, suspended from the joists, scarcely ten
Then the lamentations of the host and hostess pierced the vault
of the cellar. D'Artagnan himself was moved by them. Athos did
not even turn his head.
To grief succeeded rage. The host armed himself with a spit, and
rushed into the chamber occupied by the two friends.
"Some wine!" said Athos, on perceiving the host.
"Some wine!" cried the stupefied host, "some wine? Why you have
drunk more than a hundred pistoles' worth! I am a ruined man,
"Bah," said Athos, "we were always dry."
"If you had been contented with drinking, well and good; but you
have broken all the bottles."
"You pushed me upon a heap which rolled down. That was your
"All my oil is lost!"
"Oil is a sovereign balm for wounds; and my poor Grimaud here was
obliged to dress those you had inflicted on him."
"All my sausages are gnawed!"
"There is an enormous quantity of rats in that cellar."
"You shall pay me for all this," cried the exasperated host.
"Triple ass!" said Athos, rising; but he sank down again
immediately. He had tried his strength to the utmost.
d'Artagnan came to his relief with his whip in his hand.
The host drew back and burst into tears.
"This will teach you," said d'Artagnan, "to treat the guests God
sends you in a more courteous fashion."
"God? Say the devil!"
"My dear friend," said d'Artagnan, "if you annoy us in this
manner we will all four go and shut ourselves up in your cellar,
and we will see if the mischief is as great as you say."
"Oh, gentlemen," said the host, "I have been wrong. I confess
it, but pardon to every sin! You are gentlemen, and I am a poor
innkeeper. You will have pity on me."
"Ah, if you speak in that way," said Athos, "you will break my
heart, and the tears will flow from my eyes as the wine flowed
from the cask. We are not such devils as we appear to be. Come
hither, and let us talk."
The host approached with hesitation.
"Come hither, I say, and don't be afraid," continued Athos. "At
the very moment when I was about to pay you, I had placed my
purse on the table."
"That purse contained sixty pistoles; where is it?"
"Deposited with the justice; they said it was bad money."
"Very well; get me my purse back and keep the sixty pistoles."
"But Monseigneur knows very well that justice never lets go that
which it once lays hold of. If it were bad money, there might be
some hopes; but unfortunately, those were all good pieces."
"Manage the matter as well as you can, my good man; it does not
concern me, the more so as I have not a livre left."
"Come," said d'Artagnan, "let us inquire further. Athos's horse,
where is that?"
"In the stable."
"How much is it worth?"
"Fifty pistoles at most."
"It's worth eighty. Take it, and there ends the matter."
"What," cried Athos, "are you selling my horse--my Bajazet? And
pray upon what shall I make my campaign; upon Grimaud?"
"I have brought you another," said d'Artagnan.
"And a magnificent one!" cried the host.
"Well, since there is another finer and younger, why, you may
take the old one; and let us drink."
"What?" asked the host, quite cheerful again.
"Some of that at the bottom, near the laths. There are twenty-
five bottles of it left; all the rest were broken by my fall.
Bring six of them."
"Why, this man is a cask!" said the host, aside. "If he only
remains here a fortnight, and pays for what he drinks, I shall
soon re-establish my business."
"And don't forget," said d'Artagnan, "to bring up four bottles of
the same sort for the two English gentlemen."
"And now," said Athos, "while they bring the wine, tell me,
d'Artagnan, what has become of the others, come!"
D'Artagnan related how he had found Porthos in bed with a
strained knee, and Aramis at a table between two theologians. As
he finished, the host entered with the wine ordered and a ham
which, fortunately for him, had been left out of the cellar.
"That's well!" said Athos, filling his glass and that of his
friend; "here's to Porthos and Aramis! But you, d'Artagnan, what
is the matter with you, and what has happened to you personally?
You have a sad air."
"Alas," said d'Artagnan, "it is because I am the most
"Presently," said d'Artagnan.
"Presently! And why presently? Because you think I am drunk?
d'Artagnan, remember this! My ideas are never so clear as when I
have had plenty of wine. Speak, then, I am all ears."
D'Artagnan related his adventure with Mme. Bonacieux. Athos
listened to him without a frown; and when he had finished, said,
"Trifles, only trifles!" That was his favorite word.
"You always say TRIFLES, my dear Athos!" said d'Artagnan, "and
that come very ill from you, who have never loved."
The drink-deadened eye of Athos flashed out, but only for a
moment; it became as dull and vacant as before.
"That's true," said he, quietly, "for my part I have never
"Acknowledge, then, you stony heart," said d'Artagnan, "that you
are wrong to be so hard upon us tender hearts."
"Tender hearts! Pierced hearts!" said Athos.
"What do you say?"
"I say that love is a lottery in which he who wins, wins death!
You are very fortunate to have lost, believe me, my dear
d'Artagnan. And if I have any counsel to give, it is, always
"She seemed to love me so!"
"She SEEMED, did she?"
"Oh, she DID love me!"
"You child, why, there is not a man who has not believed, as you
do, that his mistress loved him, and there lives not a man who
has not been deceived by his mistress."
"Except you, Athos, who never had one."
"That's true," said Athos, after a moment's silence, "that's
true! I never had one! Let us drink!"
"But then, philosopher that you are," said d'Artagnan, "instruct
me, support me. I stand in need of being taught and consoled."
"Consoled for what?"
"For my misfortune."
"Your misfortune is laughable," said Athos, shrugging his
shoulders; "I should like to know what you would say if I were to
relate to you a real tale of love!"
"Which has happened to you?"
"Or one of my friends, what matters?"
"Tell it, Athos, tell it."
"Better if I drink."
"Drink and relate, then."
"Not a bad idea!" said Athos, emptying and refilling his glass.
"The two things agree marvelously well."
"I am all attention," said d'Artagnan.
Athos collected himself, and in proportion as he did so,
d'Artagnan saw that he became pale. He was at that period of
intoxication in which vulgar drinkers fall on the floor and go to
sleep. He kept himself upright and dreamed, without sleeping.
This somnambulism of drunkenness had something frightful in it.
"You particularly wish it?" asked he.
"I pray for it," said d'Artagnan.
"Be it then as you desire. One of my friends--one of my friends,
please to observe, not myself," said Athos, interrupting himself
with a melancholy smile, "one of the counts of my province--that
is to say, of Berry--noble as a Dandolo or a Montmorency, at
twenty-five years of age fell in love with a girl of sixteen,
beautiful as fancy can paint. Through the ingenuousness of her
age beamed an ardent mind, not of the woman, but of the poet.
She did not please; she intoxicated. She lived in a small town
with her brother, who was a curate. Both had recently come into
the country. They came nobody knew whence; but when seeing her
so lovely and her brother so pious, nobody thought of asking
whence they came. They were said, however, to be of good
extraction. My friend, who was seigneur of the country, might
have seduced her, or taken her by force, at his will--for he was
master. Who would have come to the assistance of two strangers,
two unknown persons? Unfortunately he was an honorable man; he
married her. The fool! The ass! The idiot!"
"How so, if he love her?" asked d'Artagnan.
"Wait," said Athos. "He took her to his chateau, and made her
the first lady in the province; and in justice it must be allowed
that she supported her rank becomingly."
"Well?" asked d'Artagnan.
"Well, one day when she was hunting with her husband," continued
Athos, in a low voice, and speaking very quickly," she fell from
her horse and fainted. The count flew to her to help, and as she
appeared to be oppressed by her clothes, he ripped them open with
his ponaird, and in so doing laid bare her shoulder.
d'Artagnan," said Athos, with a maniacal burst of laughter,
"guess what she had on her shoulder."
"How can I tell?" said d'Artagnan.
"A FLEUR-DE-LIS," said Athos. "She was branded."
Athos emptied at a single draught the glass he held in his hand.
"Horror!" cried d'Artagnan. "What do you tell me?"
"Truth, my friend. The angel was a demon; the poor young girl
had stolen the sacred vessels from a church."
"And what did the count do?"
"The count was of the highest nobility. He had on his estates
the rights of high and low tribunals. He tore the dress of the
countess to pieces; he tied her hands behind her, and hanged her
on a tree."
"Heavens, Athos, a murder?" cried d'Artagnan.
"No less," said Athos, as pale as a corpse. "But methinks I need
wine!" and he seized by the neck the last bottle that was left,
put it to his mouth, and emptied it at a single draught, as he
would have emptied an ordinary glass.
Then he let his head sink upon his two hands, while d'Artagnan
stood before him, stupefied.
"That has cured me of beautiful, poetical, and loving women,"
said Athos, after a considerable pause, raising his head, and
forgetting to continue the fiction of the count. "God grant you
as much! Let us drink."
"Then she is dead?" stammered d'Artagnan.
"PARBLEU!" said Athos. "But hold out your glass. Some ham, my
boy, or we can't drink."
"And her brother?" added d'Artagnan, timidly.
"Her brother?" replied Athos.
"Yes, the priest."
"Oh, I inquired after him for the purpose of hanging him
likewise; but he was beforehand with me, he had quit the curacy
the night before."
"Was it ever known who this miserable fellow was?"
"He was doubtless the first lover and accomplice of the fair
lady. A worthy man, who had pretended to be a curate for the
purpose of getting his mistress married, and securing her a
position. He has been hanged and quartered, I hope."
"My God, my God!" cried d'Artagnan, quite stunned by the relation
of this horrible adventure.
"Taste some of this ham, d'Artagnan; it is exquisite," said
Athos, cutting a slice, which he placed on the young man's plate.
"What a pity it is there were only four like this in the cellar.
I could have drunk fifty bottles more."
D'Artagnan could no longer endure this conversation, which had
made him bewildered. Allowing his head to sink upon his two
hands, he pretended to sleep.
"These young fellows can none of them drink," said Athos, looking
at him with pity, "and yet this is one of the best!"
28 THE RETURN
D'Artagnan was astounded by the terrible confidence of Athos; yet
many things appeared very obscure to him in this half revelation.
In the first place it had been made by a man quite drunk to one
who was half drunk; and yet, in spite of the incertainty which
the vapor of three or four bottles of Burgundy carries with it to
the brain, d'Artagnan, when awaking on the following morning, had
all the words of Athos as present to his memory as if they then
fell from his mouth--they had been so impressed upon his mind.
All this doubt only gave rise to a more lively desire of arriving
at a certainty, and he went into his friend's chamber with a
fixed determination of renewing the conversation of the preceding
evening; but he found Athos quite himself again--that is to say,
the most shrewd and impenetrable of men. Besides which, the
Musketeer, after having exchanged a hearty shake of the hand with
him, broached the matter first.
"I was pretty drunk yesterday, d'Artagnan," said he, "I can tell
that by my tongue, which was swollen and hot this morning, and by
my pulse, which was very tremulous. I wager that I uttered a
While saying this he looked at his friend with an earnestness
that embarrassed him.
"No," replied d'Artagnan, "if I recollect well what you said, it
was nothing out of the common way."
"Ah, you surprise me. I thought I had told you a most lamentable
story." And he looked at the young man as if he would read the
bottom of his heart.
"My faith," said d'Artagnan, "it appears that I was more drunk
than you, since I remember nothing of the kind."
Athos did not trust this reply, and he resumed; "you cannot have
failed to remark, my dear friend, that everyone has his
particular kind of drunkenness, sad or gay. My drunkenness is
always sad, and when I am thoroughly drunk my mania is to relate
all the lugubrious stories which my foolish nurse inculcated into
my brain. That is my failing--a capital failing, I admit; but
with that exception, I am a good drinker."
Athos spoke this in so natural a manner that d'Artagnan was
shaken in his conviction.
"It is that, then," replied the young man, anxious to find out
the truth, "it is that, then, I remember as we remember a dream.
We were speaking of hanging."
"Ah, you see how it is," said Athos, becoming still paler, but
yet attempting to laugh; "I was sure it was so--the hanging of
people is my nightmare."
"Yes, yes," replied d'Artagnan. "I remember now; yes, it was
about--stop a minute--yes, it was about a woman."
"That's it," replied Athos, becoming almost livid; "that is my
grand story of the fair lady, and when I relate that, I must be
"Yes, that was it," said d'Artagnan, "the story of a tall, fair
lady, with blue eyes."
"Yes, who was hanged."
"By her husband, who was a nobleman of your acquaintance,"
continued d'Artagnan, looking intently at Athos.
"Well, you see how a man may compromise himself when he does not
know what he says," replied Athos, shrugging his shoulders as if
he thought himself an object of pity. "I certainly never will
get drunk again, d'Artagnan; it is too bad a habit."
D'Artagnan remained silent; and then changing the conversation
all at once, Athos said:
"By the by, I thank you for the horse you have brought me."
"Is it to your mind?" asked d'Artagnan.
"Yes; but it is not a horse for hard work."
"You are mistaken; I rode him nearly ten leagues in less than an
hour and a half, and he appeared no more distressed than if he
had only made the tour of the Place St. Sulpice."
"Ah, you begin to awaken my regret."
"Yes; I have parted with him."
"Why, here is the simple fact. This morning I awoke at six
o'clock. You were still fast asleep, and I did not know what to
do with myself; I was still stupid from our yesterday's debauch.
As I came into the public room, I saw one of our Englishman
bargaining with a dealer for a horse, his own having died
yesterday from bleeding. I drew near, and found he was bidding a
hundred pistoles for a chestnut nag. 'PARDIEU,' said I, 'my good
gentleman, I have a horse to sell, too.' 'Ay, and a very fine
one! I saw him yesterday; your friend's lackey was leading him.'
'Do you think he is worth a hundred pistoles?' 'Yes! Will you
sell him to me for that sum?' 'No; but I will play for him.'
'What?' 'At dice.' No sooner said than done, and I lost the
horse. Ah, ah! But please to observe I won back the equipage,"
D'Artagnan looked much disconcerted.
"This vexes you?" said Athos.
"Well, I must confess it does," replied d'Artagnan. "That horse
was to have identified us in the day of battle. It was a pledge,
a remembrance. Athos, you have done wrong."
"But, my dear friend, put yourself in my place," replied the
Musketeer. "I was hipped to death; and still further, upon my
honor, I don't like English horses. If it is only to be
recognized, why the saddle will suffice for that; it is quite
remarkable enough. As to the horse, we can easily find some
excuse for its disappearance. Why the devil! A horse is mortal;
suppose mine had had the glanders or the farcy?"
D'Artagnan did not smile.
"It vexes me greatly," continued Athos, "that you attach so much
importance to these animals, for I am not yet at the end of my
"What else have you done."
"After having lost my own horse, nine against ten--see how near--
I formed an idea of staking yours."
"Yes; but you stopped at the idea, I hope?"
"No; for I put it in execution that very minute."
"And the consequence?" said d'Artagnan, in great anxiety.
"I threw, and I lost."
"What, my horse?"
"Your horse, seven against eight; a point short--you know the
"Athos, you are not in your right senses, I swear."
"My dear lad, that was yesterday, when I was telling you silly
stories, it was proper to tell me that, and not this morning. I
lost him then, with all his appointments and furniture."
"Really, this is frightful."
"Stop a minute; you don't know all yet. I should make an
excellent gambler if I were not too hot-headed; but I was hot-
headed, just as if I had been drinking. Well, I was not hot-
"Well, but what else could you play for? You had nothing left?"
'Oh, yes, my friend; there was still that diamond left which
sparkles on your finger, and which I had observed yesterday."
"This diamond!" said d'Artagnan, placing his hand eagerly on his
"And as I am a connoisseur in such things, having had a few of my
own once, I estimated it at a thousand pistoles."
"I hope," said d'Artagnan, half dead with fright, "you made no
mention of my diamond?"
"On the contrary, my dear friend, this diamond became our only
resource; with it I might regain our horses and their harnesses,
and even money to pay our expenses on the road."
"Athos, you make me tremble!" cried d'Artagnan.
"I mentioned your diamond then to my adversary, who had likewise
remarked it. What the devil, my dear, do you think you can wear
a star from heaven on your finger, and nobody observe it?
"Go on, go on, my dear fellow!" said d'Artagnan; "for upon my
honor, you will kill me with your indifference."
"We divided, then, this diamond into ten parts of a hundred
"You are laughing at me, and want to try me!" said d'Artagnan,
whom anger began to take by the hair, as Minerva takes Achilles,
in the ILLIAD.
"No, I do not jest, MORDIEU! I should like to have seen you in
my place! I had been fifteen days without seeing a human face,
and had been left to brutalize myself in the company of bottles."
"That was no reason for staking my diamond!" replied d'Artagnan,
closing his hand with a nervous spasm.
"Hear the end. Ten parts of a hundred pistoles each, in ten
throws, without revenge; in thirteen throws I had lost all--in
thirteen throws. The number thirteen was always fatal to me; it
was on the thirteenth of July that--"
"VENTREBLEU!" cried d'Artagnan, rising from the table, the story
of the present day making him forget that of the preceding one.
"Patience!" said Athos; "I had a plan. The Englishman was an
original; I had seen him conversing that morning with Grimaud,
and Grimaud had told me that he had made him proposals to enter
into his service. I staked Grimaud, the silent Grimaud, divided
into ten portions."
"Well, what next?" said d'Artagnan, laughing in spite of himself.
"Grimaud himself, understand; and with the ten parts of Grimaud,
which are not worth a ducatoon, I regained the diamond. Tell me,
now, if persistence is not a virtue?"
"My faith! But this is droll," cried d'Artagnan, consoled, and
holding his sides with laughter.
"You may guess, finding the luck turned, that I again staked the
"The devil!" said d'Artagnan, becoming angry again.
"I won back your harness, then your horse, then my harness, then
my horse, and then I lost again. In brief, I regained your
harness and then mine. That's where we are. That was a superb
throw, so I left off there."
D'Artagnan breathed as if the whole hostelry had been removed
from his breast.
"Then the diamond is safe?" said he, timidly.
"Intact, my dear friend; besides the harness of your Bucephalus
"But what is the use of harnesses without horses?"
"I have an idea about them."
"Athos, you make me shudder."
"Listen to me. You have not played for a long time, d'Artagnan."
"And I have no inclination to play."
"Swear to nothing. You have not played for a long time, I said;
you ought, then, to have a good hand."
"Well, what then?"
"Well; the Englishman and his companion are still here. I
remarked that he regretted the horse furniture very much. You
appear to think much of your horse. In your place I would stake
the furniture against the horse."
"But he will not wish for only one harness."
"Stake both, PARDIEU! I am not selfish, as you are."
"You would do so?" said d'Artagnan, undecided, so strongly did
the confidence of Athos begin to prevail, in spite of himself.
"On my honor, in one single throw."
"But having lost the horses, I am particularly anxious to
preserve the harnesses."
"Stake your diamond, then."
"This? That's another matter. Never, never!"
"The devil!" said Athos. "I would propose to you to stake
Planchet, but as that has already been done, the Englishman would
not, perhaps, be willing."
"Decidedly, my dear Athos," said d'Artagnan, "I should like
better not to risk anything."
"That's a pity," said Athos, coolly. "The Englishman is
overflowing with pistoles. Good Lord, try one throw! One throw
is soon made!"
"And if I lose?"
"You will win."
"But if I lose?"
"Well, you will surrender the harnesses."
"Have with you for one throw!" said d'Artagnan.
Athos went in quest of the Englishman, whom he found in the
stable, examining the harnesses with a greedy eye. The
opportunity was good. He proposed the conditions--the two
harnesses, either against one horse or a hundred pistoles. The
Englishman calculated fast; the two harnesses were worth three
hundred pistoles. He consented.
D'Artagnan threw the dice with a trembling hand, and turned up
the number three; his paleness terrified Athos, who, however,
consented himself with saying, "That's a sad throw, comrade; you
will have the horses fully equipped, monsieur."
The Englishman, quite triumphant, did not even give himself the
trouble to shake the dice. He threw them on the table without
looking at them, so sure was he of victory; d'Artagnan turned
aside to conceal his ill humor.
"Hold, hold, hold!" said Athos, wit his quiet tone; "that throw
of the dice is extraordinary. I have not seen such a one four
times in my life. Two aces!"
The Englishman looked, and was seized with astonishment.
d'Artagnan looked, and was seized with pleasure.
"Yes," continued Athos, "four times only; once at the house of
Monsieur Crequy; another time at my own house in the country, in
my chateau at--when I had a chateau; a third time at Monsieur de
Treville's where it surprised us all; and the fourth time at a
cabaret, where it fell to my lot, and where I lost a hundred
louis and a supper on it."
"Then Monsieur takes his horse back again," said the Englishman.
"Certainly," said d'Artagnan.
"Then there is no revenge?"
"Our conditions said, 'No revenge,' you will please to
"That is true; the horse shall be restored to your lackey,
"A moment," said Athos; "with your permission, monsieur, I wish
to speak a word with my friend."
Athos drew d'Artagnan aside.
"Well, Tempter, what more do you want with me?" said d'Artagnan.
"You want me to throw again, do you not?"
"No, I would wish you to reflect."
"You mean to take your horse?"
"You are wrong, then. I would take the hundred pistoles. You
know you have staked the harnesses against the horse or a hundred
pistoles, at your choice."
"Well, then, I repeat, you are wrong. What is the use of one
horse for us two? I could not ride behind. We should look like
the two sons of Anmon, who had lost their brother. You cannot
think of humiliating me by prancing along by my side on that
magnificent charger. For my part, I should not hesitate a
moment; I should take the hundred pistoles. We want money for
our return to Paris."
"I am much attached to that horse, Athos."
"And there again you are wrong. A horse slips and injures a
joint; a horse stumbles and breaks his knees to the bone; a horse
eats out of a manger in which a glandered horse has eaten. There
is a horse, while on the contrary, the hundred pistoles feed
"But how shall we get back?"
"Upon our lackey's horses, PARDIEU. Anybody may see by our
bearing that we are people of condition."
"Pretty figures we shall cut on ponies while Aramis and Porthos
caracole on their steeds."
"Aramis! Porthos!" cried Athos, and laughed aloud.
"What is it?" asked d'Artagnan, who did not at all comprehend the
hilarity of his friend.
"Nothing, nothing! Go on!"
"Your advice, then?"
"To take the hundred pistoles, d'Artagnan. With the hundred
pistoles we can live well to the end of the month. We have
undergone a great deal of fatigue, remember, and a little rest
will do no harm."
"I rest? Oh, no, Athos. Once in Paris, I shall prosecute my
search for that unfortunate woman!"
"Well, you may be assured that your horse will not be half so
serviceable to you for that purpose as good golden louis. Take
the hundred pistoles, my friend; take the hundred pistoles!"
D'Artagnan only required one reason to be satisfied. This last
reason appeared convincing. Besides, he feared that by resisting
longer he should appear selfish in the eyes of Athos. He
acquiesced, therefore, and chose the hundred pistoles, which the
Englishman paid down on the spot.
They then determined to depart. Peace with the landlord, in
addition to Athos's old horse, cost six pistoles. D'Artagnan and
Athos took the nags of Planchet and Grimaud, and the two lackeys
started on foot, carrying the saddles on their heads.
However ill our two friends were mounted, they were soon far in
advance of their servants, and arrived at Creveccoeur. From a
distance they perceived Aramis, seated in a melancholy manner at
his window, looking out, like Sister Anne, at the dust in the
"HOLA, Aramis! What the devil are you doing there?" cried the
"Ah, is that you, d'Artagnan, and you, Athos?" said the young
man. "I was reflecting upon the rapidity with which the
blessings of this world leave us. My English horse, which has
just disappeared amid a cloud of dust, has furnished me with a
living image of the fragility of the things of the earth. Life
itself may be resolved into three words: ERAT, EST, FUIT."
"Which means--" said d'Artagnan, who began to suspect the truth.
"Which means that I have just been duped-sixty louis for a horse
which by the manner of his gait can do at least five leagues an
D'Artagnan and Athos laughed aloud.
"My dear d'Artagnan," said Aramis, "don't be too angry with me, I
beg. Necessity has no law; besides, I am the person punished, as
that rascally horsedealer has robbed me of fifty louis, at least.
Ah, you fellows are good managers! You ride on our lackey's
horses, and have your own gallant steeds led along carefully by
hand, at short stages."
At the same instant a market cart, which some minutes before had
appeared upon the Amiens road, pulled up at the inn, and Planchet
and Grimaud came out of it with the saddles on their heads. The
cart was returning empty to Paris, and the two lackeys had
agreed, for their transport, to slake the wagoner's thirst along
"What is this?" said Aramis, on seeing them arrive. "Nothing but
"Now do you understand?" said Athos.
"My friends, that's exactly like me! I retained my harness by
instinct. HOLA, Bazin! Bring my new saddle and carry it along
with those of these gentlemen."
"And what have you done with your ecclesiastics?" asked
"My dear fellow, I invited them to a dinner the next day,"
replied Aramis. "They have some capital wine here--please to
observe that in passing. I did my best to make them drunk. Then
the curate forbade me to quit my uniform, and the Jesuit
entreated me to get him made a Musketeer."
"Without a thesis?" cried d'Artagnan, "without a thesis? I
demand the suppression of the thesis."
"Since then," continued Aramis, "I have lived very agreeably. I
have begun a poem in verses of one syllable. That is rather
difficult, but the merit in all things consists in the
difficulty. The matter is gallant. I will read you the first
canto. It has four hundred lines, and lasts a minute."
"My faith, my dear Aramis," said d'Artagnan, who detested verses
almost as much as he did Latin, "add to the merit of the
difficulty that of the brevity, and you are sure that your poem
will at least have two merits."
"You will see," continued Aramis, "that it breathes
irreproachable passion. And so, my friends, we return to Paris?
Bravo! I am ready. We are going to rejoin that good fellow,
Porthos. So much the better. You can't think how I have missed
him, the great simpleton. To see him so self-satisfied
reconciles me with myself. He would not sell his horse; not for
a kingdom! I think I can see him now, mounted upon his superb
animal and seated in his handsome saddle. I am sure he will look
like the Great Mogul!"
They made a halt for an hour to refresh their horses. Aramis
discharged his bill, placed Bazin in the cart with his comrades,
and they set forward to join Porthos.
They found him up, less pale than when d'Artagnan left him after
his first visit, and seated at a table on which, though he was
alone, was spread enough for four persons. This dinner consisted
of meats nicely dressed, choice wines, and superb fruit.
"Ah, PARDIEU!" said he, rising, "you come in the nick of time,
gentlemen. I was just beginning the soup, and you will dine with
"Oh, oh!" said d'Artagnan, "Mousqueton has not caught these
bottles with his lasso. Besides, here is a piquant FRICANDEAU
and a fillet of beef."
"I am recruiting myself," said Porthos, "I am recruiting myself.
Nothing weakens a man more than these devilish strains. Did you
ever suffer from a strain, Athos?"
"Never! Though I remember, in our affair of the Rue Ferou, I
received a sword wound which at the end of fifteen or eighteen
days produced the same effect."
"But this dinner was not intended for you alone, Porthos?" said
"No," said Porthos, "I expected some gentlemen of the
neighborhood, who have just sent me word they could not come.
You will take their places and I shall not lose by the exchange.
HOLA, Mousqueton, seats, and order double the bottles!"
"Do you know what we are eating here?" said Athos, at the end of
"PARDIEU!" replied d'Artagnan, "for my part, I am eating veal
garnished with shrimps and vegetables."
"And I some lamb chops," said Porthos.
"And I a plain chicken," said Aramis.
"You are all mistaken, gentlemen," answered Athos, gravely; "you
are eating horse."
"Eating what?" said d'Artagnan.
"Horse!" said Aramis, with a grimace of disgust.
Porthos alone made no reply.
"Yes, horse. Are we not eating a horse, Porthos? And perhaps
his saddle, therewith."
"No, gentlemen, I have kept the harness," said Porthos.
"My faith," said Aramis, "we are all alike. One would think we
had tipped the wink."
"What could I do?" said Porthos. "This horse made my visitors
ashamed of theirs, and I don't like to humiliate people."
"Then your duchess is still at the waters?" asked d'Artagnan.
"Still," replied Porthos. "And, my faith, the governor of the
province--one of the gentlemen I expected today--seemed to have
such a wish for him, that I gave him to him."
"Gave him?" cried d'Artagnan.
"My God, yes, GAVE, that is the word," said Porthos; "for the
animal was worth at least a hundred and fifty louis, and the
stingy fellow would only give me eighty."
"Without the saddle?" said Aramis.
"Yes, without the saddle."
"You will observe, gentlemen," said Athos, "that Porthos has made
the best bargain of any of us."
And then commenced a roar of laughter in which they all joined,
to the astonishment of poor Porthos; but when he was informed of
the cause of their hilarity, he shared it vociferously according
to his custom.
"There is one comfort, we are all in cash," said d'Artagnan.
"Well, for my part," said Athos, "I found Aramis's Spanish wine
so good that I sent on a hamper of sixty bottles of it in the
wagon with the lackeys. That has weakened my purse."
"And I," said Aramis, "imagined that I had given almost my last
sou to the church of Montdidier and the Jesuits of Amiens, with
whom I had made engagements which I ought to have kept. I have
ordered Masses for myself, and for you, gentlemen, which will be
said, gentlemen, for which I have not the least doubt you will be
"And I," said Porthos, "do you think my strain cost me nothing?--
without reckoning Mousqueton's wound, for which I had to have the
surgeon twice a day, and who charged me double on account of that
foolish Mousqueton having allowed himself a ball in a part which
people generally only show to an apothecary; so I advised him to
try never to get wounded there any more."
"Ay, ay!" said Athos, exchanging a smile with d'Artagnan and
Aramis, "it is very clear you acted nobly with regard to the poor
lad; that is like a good master."
"In short," said Porthos, "when all my expenses are paid, I shall
have, at most, thirty crowns left."
"And I about ten pistoles," said Aramis.
"Well, then it appears that we are the Croesuses of the society.
How much have you left of your hundred pistoles, d'Artagnan?"
"Of my hundred pistoles? Why, in the first place I gave you
"You think so?"
"Ah, that is true. I recollect."
"Then I paid the host six."
"What a brute of a host! Why did you give him six pistoles?"
"You told me to give them to him."
"It is true; I am too good-natured. In brief, how much remains?"
"Twenty-five pistoles," said d'Artagnan.
"And I," said Athos, taking some small change from his pocket,
"My faith! So little that it is not worth reckoning with the
"Now, then, let us calculate how much we posses in all."
"And you, d'Artagnan?"
"That makes in all?" said Athos.
"Four hundred and seventy-five livres," said d'Artagnan, who
reckoned like Archimedes.
"On our arrival in Paris, we shall still have four hundred,
besides the harnesses," said Porthos.
"But our troop horses?" said Aramis.
"Well, of the four horses of our lackeys we will make two for the
masters, for which we will draw lots. With the four hundred
livres we will make the half of one for one of the unmounted, and
then we will give the turnings out of our pockets to d'Artagnan,
who has a steady hand, and will go and play in the first gaming
house we come to. There!"
"Let us dine, then," said Porthos; "it is getting cold."
The friends, at ease with regard to the future, did honor to the
repast, the remains of which were abandoned to Mousqueton, Bazin,
Planchet, and Grimaud.
On arriving in Paris, d'Artagnan found a letter from M. de
Treville, which informed him that, at his request, the king had
promised that he should enter the company of the Musketeers.
As this was the height of d'Artagnan's worldly ambition--apart,
be it well understood, from his desire of finding Mme.
Bonacieux--he ran, full of joy, to seek his comrades, whom he had
left only half an hour before, but whom he found very sad and
deeply preoccupied. They were assembled in council at the
residence of Athos, which always indicated an event of some
gravity. M. de Treville had intimated to them his Majesty's
fixed intention to open the campaign on the first of May, and
they must immediately prepare their outfits.
The four philosophers looked at one another in a state of
bewilderment. M. de Treville never jested in matters relating to
"And what do you reckon your outfit will cost?" said d'Artagnan.
"Oh, we can scarcely say. We have made our calculations with
Spartan economy, and we each require fifteen hundred livres."
"Four times fifteen makes sixty--six thousand livres," said
"It seems to me," said d'Artagnan, "with a thousand livres each--
I do not speak as a Spartan, but as a procurator--"
This word PROCURATOR roused Porthos. "Stop," said he, "I have an
"Well, that's something, for I have not the shadow of one," said
Athos coolly; "but as to d'Artagnan, gentlemen, the idea of
belonging to OURS has driven him out of his senses. A thousand
livres! For my part, I declare I want two thousand."
"Four times two makes eight," then said Aramis; "it is eight
thousand that we want to complete our outfits, toward which, it
is true, we have already the saddles."
"Besides," said Athos, waiting till d'Artagnan, who went to thank
Monsieur de Treville, had shut the door, "besides, there is that
beautiful ring which beams from the finger of our friend. What
the devil! D'Artagnan is too good a comrade to leave his
brothers in embarrassment while he wears the ransom of a king on
29 HUNTING FOR THE EQUIPMENTS
The most preoccupied of the four friends was certainly
d'Artagnan, although he, in his quality of Guardsman, would be
much more easily equipped than Messieurs the Musketeers, who were
all of high rank; but our Gascon cadet was, as may have been
observed, of a provident and almost avaricious character, and
with that (explain the contradiction) so vain as almost to rival
Porthos. To this preoccupation of his vanity, d'Artagnan at this
moment joined an uneasiness much less selfish. Notwithstanding
all his inquiries respecting Mme. Bonacieux, he could obtain no
intelligence of her. M. de Treville had spoken of her to the
queen. The queen was ignorant where the mercer's young wife was,
but had promised to have her sought for; but this promise was
very vague and did not at all reassure d'Artagnan.
Athos did not leave his chamber; he made up his mind not to take
a single step to equip himself.
"We have still fifteen days before us," said he to his friends.
"well, if at the end of a fortnight I have found nothing, or
rather if nothing has come to find me, as I, too good a
Catholic to kill myself with a pistol bullet, I will seek a good
quarrel with four of his Eminence's Guards or with eight
Englishmen, and I will fight until one of them has killed me,
which, considering the number, cannot fail to happen. It will
then be said of me that I died for the king; so that I shall have
performed my duty without the expense of an outfit."
Porthos continued to walk about with his hands behind him,
tossing his head and repeating, "I shall follow up on my idea."
Aramis, anxious and negligently dressed, said nothing.
It may be seen by these disastrous details that desolation
reigned in the community.
The lackeys on their part, like the coursers of Hippolytus,
shared the sadness of their masters. Mousqueton collected a
store of crusts; Bazin, who had always been inclined to devotion,
never quit the churches; Planchet watched the flight of flies;
and Grimaud, whom the general distress could not induce to break
the silence imposed by his master, heaved sighs enough to soften
The three friends--for, as we have said, Athos had sworn not to
stir a foot to equip himself--went out early in the morning, and
returned late at night. They wandered about the streets, looking
at the pavement as if to see whether the passengers had not left a
purse behind them. They might have been supposed to be following
tracks, so observant were they wherever they went. When they met
they looked desolately at one another, as much as to say, "Have
you found anything?"
However, as Porthos had first found an idea, and had thought of
it earnestly afterward, he was the first to act. He was a man of
execution, this worthy Porthos. D'Artagnan perceived him one day
walking toward the church of St. Leu, and followed him
instinctively. He entered, after having twisted his mustache and
elongated his imperial, which always announced on his part the
most triumphant resolutions. As d'Artagnan took some precautions
to conceal himself, Porthos believed he had not been seen.
d'Artagnan entered behind him. Porthos went and leaned against
the side of a pillar. D'Artagnan, still unperceived, supported
himself against the other side.
There happened to be a sermon, which made the church very full of
people. Porthos took advantage of this circumstance to ogle the
women. Thanks to the cares of Mousqueton, the exterior was far
from announcing the distress of the interior. His hat was a
little napless, his feather was a little faded, his gold lace was
a little tarnished, his laces were a trifle frayed; but in the
obscurity of the church these things were not seen, and Porthos
was still the handsome Porthos.
D'Artagnan observed, on the bench nearest to the pillar against
which Porthos leaned, a sort of ripe beauty, rather yellow and
rather dry, but erect and haughty under her black hood. The eyes
of Porthos were furtively cast upon this lady, and then roved
about at large over the nave.
On her side the lady, who from time to time blushed, darted with
the rapidity of lightning a glance toward the inconstant Porthos;
and then immediately the eyes of Porthos wandered anxiously. It
was plain that this mode of proceeding piqued the lady in the
black hood, for she bit her lips till they bled, scratched the
end of her nose, and could not sit still in her seat.
Porthos, seeing this, retwisted his mustache, elongated his
imperial a second time, and began to make signals to a beautiful
lady who was near the choir, and who not only was a beautiful
lady, but still further, no doubt, a great lady--for she had
behind her a Negro boy who had brought the cushion on which she
knelt, and a female servant who held the emblazoned bag in which
was placed the book from which she read the Mass.
The lady with the black hood followed through all their
wanderings the looks of Porthos, and perceived that they rested
upon the lady with the velvet cushion, the little Negro, and the
During this time Porthos played close. It was almost
imperceptible motions of his eyes, fingers placed upon the lips,
little assassinating smiles, which really did assassinate the
Then she cried, "Ahem!" under cover of the MEA CULPA, striking
her breast so vigorously that everybody, even the lady with the
red cushion, turned round toward her. Porthos paid no attention.
Nevertheless, he understood it all, but was deaf.
The lady with the red cushion produced a great effect--for she
was very handsome--upon the lady with he black hood, who saw in
her a rival really to be dreaded; a great effect upon Porthos,
who thought her much prettier than the lady with the black hood;
a great effect upon d'Artagnan, who recognized in her the lady of
Meung, of Calais, and of Dover, whom his persecutor, the man with
the scar, had saluted by the name of Milady.
D'Artagnan, without losing sight of the lady of the red cushion,
continued to watch the proceedings of Porthos, which amused him
greatly. He guessed that the lady of the black hood was the
procurator's wife of the Rue aux Ours, which was the more
probable from the church of St. Leu being not far from that
He guessed, likewise, by induction, that Porthos was taking his
revenge for the defeat of Chantilly, when the procurator's wife
had proved so refractory with respect to her purse.
Amid all this, d'Artagnan remarked also that not one countenance
responded to the gallantries of Porthos. There were only
chimeras and illusions; but for real love, for true jealousy, is
there any reality except illusions and chimeras?
The sermon over, the procurator's wife advanced toward the holy
font. Porthos went before her, and instead of a finger, dipped
his whole hand in. The procurator's wife smiled, thinking that
it was for her Porthos had put himself to this trouble; but she
was cruelly and promptly undeceived. When she was only about
three steps from him, he turned his head round, fixing his eyes
steadfastly upon the lady with the red cushion, who had risen and
was approaching, followed by her black boy and her woman.
When the lady of the red cushion came close to Porthos, Porthos
drew his dripping hand from the font. The fair worshipper
touched the great hand of Porthos with her delicate fingers,
smiled, made the sign of the cross, and left the church.
This was too much for the procurator's wife; she doubted not
there was an intrigue between this lady and Porthos. If she had
been a great lady she would have fainted; but as she was only a
procurator's wife, she contented herself saying to the Musketeer
with concentrated fury, "Eh, Monsieur Porthos, you don't offer me
any holy water?"
Porthos, at the sound of that voice, started like a man awakened
from a sleep of a hundred years.
"Ma-madame!" cried he; "is that you? How is your husband, our
dear Monsieur Coquenard? Is he still as stingy as ever? Where
can my eyes have been not to have seen you during the two hours
of the sermon?"
"I was within two paces of you, monsieur," replied the
procurator's wife; "but you did not perceive me because you had
no eyes but for the pretty lady to whom you just now gave the
Porthos pretended to be confused. "Ah," said he, "you have
"I must have been blind not to have seen."
"Yes," said Porthos, "that is a duchess of my acquaintance whom I
have great trouble to meet on account of the jealousy of her
husband, and who sent me word that she should come today to this
poor church, buried in this vile quarter, solely for the sake of
"Monsieur Porthos," said the procurator's wife, "will you have
the kindness to offer me your arm for five minutes? I have
something to say to you."
"Certainly, madame," said Porthos, winking to himself, as a
gambler does who laughs at the dupe he is about to pluck.
At that moment d'Artagnan passed in pursuit of Milady; he cast a
passing glance at Porthos, and beheld this triumphant look.
"Eh, eh!" said he, reasoning to himself according to the
strangely easy morality of that gallant period, "there is one who
will be equipped in good time!"
Porthos, yielding to the pressure of the arm of the procurator's
wife, as a bark yields to the rudder, arrived at the cloister St.
Magloire--a little-frequented passage, enclosed with a turnstile
at each end. In the daytime nobody was seen there but mendicants
devouring their crusts, and children at play.
"Ah, Monsieur Porthos," cried the procurator's wife, when she was
assured that no one who was a stranger to the population of the
locality could either see or hear her, "ah, Monsieur Porthos, you
are a great conqueror, as it appears!"
"I, madame?" said Porthos, drawing himself up proudly; "how so?"
"The signs just now, and the holy water! But that must be a
princess, at least--that lady with her Negro boy and her maid!"
"My God! Madame, you are deceived," said Porthos; "she is simply
"And that running footman who waited at the door, and that
carriage with a coachman in grand livery who sat waiting on his
Porthos had seen neither the footman nor the carriage, but with
the eye of a jealous woman, Mme. Coquenard had seen everything.
Porthos regretted that he had not at once made the lady of the
red cushion a princess.
"Ah, you are quite the pet of the ladies, Monsieur Porthos!"
resumed the procurator's wife, with a sigh.
"Well," responded Porthos, "you may imagine, with the physique
with which nature has endowed me, I am not in want of good luck."
"Good Lord, how quickly men forget!" cried the procurator's wife,
raising her eyes toward heaven.
"Less quickly than the women, it seems to me," replied Porthos;
"for I, madame, I may say I was your victim, when wounded, dying,
I was abandoned by the surgeons. I, the offspring of a noble
family, who placed reliance upon your friendship--I was near