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Twenty Years After by Alexandre Dumas [Pere]

Part 20 out of 20

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"My fair friend," said Athos, "allow me to tell you that
everybody is tired of war. You will get yourself exiled, as
you did in the time of Louis XIII. Believe me, we have
passed the time of success in intrigue, and your fine eyes
are not destined to be eclipsed by regretting Paris, where
there will always be two queens as long as you are there."

"Oh," cried the duchess, "I cannot make war alone, but I can
avenge myself on that ungrateful queen and most ambitious
favorite-on the honor of a duchess, I will avenge myself."

"Madame," replied Athos, "do not injure the Vicomte de
Bragelonne -- do not ruin his prospects. Alas! excuse my
weakness! There are moments when a man grows young again in
his children."

The duchess smiled, half tenderly, half ironically.

"Count," she said, "you are, I fear, gained over to the
court. I suppose you have a blue ribbon in your pocket?"

"Yes, madame; I have that of the Garter, which King Charles
I. gave me some days before he died."

"Come, I am growing an old woman!" said the duchess,

Athos took her hand and kissed it. She sighed, as she looked
at him.

"Count," she said, "Bragelonne must be a charming place. You
are a man of taste. You have water -- woods -- flowers

She sighed again and leaned her charming head, gracefully
reclined, on her hand, still beautiful in form and color.

"Madame!" exclaimed Athos, "what were you saying just now
about growing old? Never have I seen you look so young, so

The duchess shook her head.

"Does Monsieur de Bragelonne remain in Paris?" she inquired.

"What think you of it?" inquired Athos.

"Leave him with me," replied the duchess.

"No, madame; if you have forgotten the history of Oedipus,
I, at least, remember it."

"Really, sir, you are delightful, and I should like to spend
a month at Bragelonne."

"Are you not afraid of making people envious of me,
duchess?" replied Athos.

"No, I shall go incognito, count, under the name of Marie

"You are adorable, madame."

"But do not keep Raoul with you."

"Why not?"

"Because he is in love."

"He! he is quite a child!"

"And 'tis a child he loves."

Athos became thoughtful.

"You are right, duchess. This singular passion for a child
of seven may some day make him very unhappy. There is to be
war in Flanders. He shall go thither."

"And at his return you will send him to me. I will arm him
against love."

"Alas, madame!" exclaimed Athos, "to-day love is like war --
the breastplate is becoming useless."

Raoul entered at this moment; he came to announce that the
solemn entrance of the king, queen, and her ministers was to
take place on the ensuing day.

The next day, in fact, at daybreak, the court made
preparations to quit Saint Germain.

Meanwhile, the queen every hour had been sending for

"I hear," she said, "that Paris is not quiet. I am afraid
for the king's safety; place yourself close to the coach
door on the right."

"Reassure yourself, madame, I will answer for the king's

As he left the queen's presence Bernouin summoned him to the

"Sir," said Mazarin to him "an emeute is spoken of in Paris.
I shall be on the king's left and as I am the chief person
threatened, remain at the coach door to the left."

"Your eminence may be perfectly easy," replied D'Artagnan;
"they will not touch a hair of your head."

"Deuce take it!" he thought to himself, "how can I take care
of both? Ah! plague on't, I will guard the king and Porthos
shall guard the cardinal."

This arrangement pleased every one. The queen had confidence
in the courage of D'Artagnan, which she knew, and the
cardinal in the strength of Porthos, which he had

The royal procession set out for Paris. Guitant and
Comminges, at the head of the guards, marched first; then
came the royal carriage, with D'Artagnan on one side,
Porthos on the other; then the musketeers, for two and
twenty years staunch friends of D'Artagnan. During twenty he
had been lieutenant, their captain since the night before.

The cortege proceeded to Notre Dame, where a Te Deum was
chanted. All Paris were in the streets. The Swiss were drawn
up along the road, but as the road was long, they were
placed at six or eight feet distant from each other and one
deep only. This force was therefore wholly insufficient, and
from time to time the line was broken through by the people
and was formed again with difficulty. Whenever this
occurred, although it proceeded only from goodwill and a
desire to see the king and queen, Anne looked at D'Artagnan

Mazarin, who had dispensed a thousand louis to make the
people cry "Long live Mazarin," and who had accordingly no
confidence in acclamations bought at twenty pistoles each,
kept one eye on Porthos; but that gigantic body-guard
replied to the look with his great bass voice, "Be tranquil,
my lord," and Mazarin became more and more composed.

At the Palais Royal, the crowd, which had flowed in from the
adjacent street was still greater; like an impetuous mob, a
wave of human beings came to meet the carriage and rolled
tumultuously into the Rue Saint Honore.

When the procession reached the palace, loud cries of "Long
live their majesties!" resounded. Mazarin leaned out of the
window. One or two shouts of "Long live the cardinal"
saluted his shadow; but instantly hisses and yells stifled
them remorselessly. Mazarin turned pale and shrank back in
the coach.

"Low-born fellows!" ejaculated Porthos.

D'Artagnan said nothing, but twirled his mustache with a
peculiar gesture which showed that his fine Gascon humor was

Anne of Austria bent down and whispered in the young king's

"Say something gracious to Monsieur d'Artagnan, my son."

The young king leaned toward the door.

"I have not said good-morning to you, Monsieur d'Artagnan,"
he said; "nevertheless, I have remarked you. It was you who
were behind my bed-curtains that night the Parisians wished
to see me asleep."

"And if the king permits me," returned the Gascon, "I shall
be near him always when there is danger to be encountered."

"Sir," said Mazarin to Porthos, "what would you do if the
crowd fell upon us?"

"Kill as many as I could, my lord."

"Hem! brave as you are and strong as you are, you could not
kill them all."

"'Tis true," answered Porthos, rising on his saddle, in
order that he might appraise the immense crowd, "there are a
lot of them."

"I think I should like the other fellow better than this
one," said Mazarin to himself, and he threw himself back in
his carriage.

The queen and her minister, more especially the latter, had
reason to feel anxious. The crowd, whilst preserving an
appearance of respect and even of affection for the king and
queen regent, began to be tumultuous. Reports were whispered
about, like certain sounds which announce, as they whistle
from wave to wave, the coming storm -- and when they pass
athwart a multitude, presage an emeute.

D'Artagnan turned toward the musketeers and made a sign
imperceptible to the crowd, but very easily understood by
that chosen regiment, the flower of the army.

The ranks closed firmly in and a kind of majestic tremor ran
from man to man.

At the Barriere des Sergents the procession was obliged to
stop. Comminges left the head of the escort and went to the
queen's carriage. Anne questioned D'Artagnan by a look. He
answered in the same language.

"Proceed," she said.

Comminges returned to his post. An effort was made and the
living barrier was violently broken through.

Some complaints arose from the crowd and were addressed this
time to the king as well as the minister.

"Onward!" cried D'Artagnan, in a loud voice.

"Onward!" cried Porthos.

But as if the multitude had waited only for this
demonstration to burst out, all the sentiments of hostility
that possessed it exploded simultaneously. Cries of "Down
with Mazarin!" "Death to the cardinal!" resounded on all

At the same time through the streets of Grenelle, Saint
Honore, and Du Coq, a double stream of people broke the
feeble hedge of Swiss guards and came like a whirlwind even
to the very legs of Porthos's horse and that of D'Artagnan.

This new eruption was more dangerous than the others, being
composed of armed men. It was plain that it was not the
chance combination of those who had collected a number of
the malcontents at the same spot, but a concerted organized

Each of these mobs was led by a chief, one of whom appeared
to belong, not to the people, but to the honorable
corporation of mendicants, and the other, notwithstanding
his affected imitation of the people, might easily be
discerned to be a gentleman. Both were evidently stimulated
by the same impulse.

There was a shock which was perceived even in the royal
carriage. Myriads of hoarse cries, forming one vast uproar,
were heard, mingled with guns firing.

"Ho! Musketeers!" cried D'Artagnan.

The escort divided into two files. One of them passed around
to the right of the carriage, the other to the left. One
went to support D'Artagnan, the other Porthos. Then came a
skirmish, the more terrible because it had no definite
object; the more melancholy, because those engaged in it
knew not for whom they were fighting. Like all popular
movements, the shock given by the rush of this mob was
formidable. The musketeers, few in number, not being able,
in the midst of this crowd, to make their horses wheel
around, began to give way. D'Artagnan offered to lower the
blinds of the royal carriage, but the young king stretched
out his arm, saying:

"No, sir! I wish to see everything."

"If your majesty wishes to look out -- well, then, look!"
replied D'Artagnan. And turning with that fury which made
him so formidable, he rushed toward the chief of the
insurgents, a man who, with a huge sword in his hand, was
trying to hew a passage to the coach door through the

"Make room!" cried D'Artagnan. "Zounds! give way!"

At these words the man with a pistol and sword raised his
head, but it was too late. The blow was sped by D'Artagnan;
the rapier had pierced his bosom.

"Ah! confound it!" cried the Gascon, trying in vain, too
late, to retract the thrust. "What the devil are you doing
here, count?"

"Accomplishing my destiny," replied Rochefort, falling on
one knee. "I have already got up again after three stabs
from you, I shall never rise after this fourth."

"Count!" said D'Artagnan, with some degree of emotion, "I
struck without knowing that it was you. I am sorry, if you
die, that you should die with sentiments of hatred toward

Rochefort extended his hand to D'Artagnan, who took it. The
count wished to speak, but a gush of blood stifled him. He
stiffened in the last convulsions of death and expired.

"Back, people!" cried D'Artagnan, "your leader is dead; you
have no longer any business here."

Indeed, as if De Rochefort had been the very soul of the
attack, the crowd who had followed and obeyed him took to
flight on seeing him fall. D'Artagnan charged, with a party
of musketeers, up the Rue du Coq, and the portion of the mob
he assailed disappeared like smoke, dispersing near the
Place Saint Germain-l'Auxerrois and taking the direction of
the quays.

D'Artagnan returned to help Porthos, if Porthos needed help;
but Porthos, for his part, had done his work as
conscientiously as D'Artagnan. The left of the carriage was
as well cleared as the right, and they drew up the blind of
the window which Mazarin, less heroic than the king, had
taken the precaution to lower.

Porthos looked very melancholy.

"What a devil of a face you have, Porthos! and what a
strange air for a victor!"

"But you," answered Porthos, "seem to me agitated."

"There's a reason! Zounds! I have just killed an old

"Indeed!" replied Porthos, "who?"

"That poor Count de Rochefort."

"Well! exactly like me! I have just killed a man whose face
is not unknown to me. Unluckily, I hit him on the head and
immediately his face was covered with blood."

"And he said nothing as he died?"

"Yes; he exclaimed, `Oh!'"

"I suppose," answered D'Artagnan, laughing, "if he only said
that, it did not enlighten you much."

"Well, sir!" cried the queen.

"Madame, the passage is quite clear and your majesty can
continue your road."

In fact, the procession arrived, in safety at Notre Dame, at
the front gate of which all the clergy, with the coadjutor
at their head, awaited the king, the queen and the minister,
for whose happy return they chanted a Te Deum.

As the service was drawing to a close a boy entered the
church in great excitement, ran to the sacristy, dressed
himself quickly in the choir robes, and cleaving, thanks to
that uniform, the crowd that filled the temple, approached
Bazin, who, clad in his blue robe, was standing gravely in
his place at the entrance to the choir.

Bazin felt some one pulling his sleeve. He lowered to earth
his eyes, beatifically raised to Heaven, and recognized

"Well, you rascal, what is it? How do you dare to disturb me
in the exercise of my functions?" asked the beadle.

"Monsieur Bazin," said Friquet, "Monsieur Maillard -- you
know who he is, he gives holy water at Saint Eustache ---- "

"Well, go on."

"Well, he received in the scrimmage a sword stroke on the
head. That great giant who was there gave it to him."

"In that case," said Bazin, "he must be pretty sick."

"So sick that he is dying, and he wants to confess to the
coadjutor, who, they say, has power to remit great sins."

"And does he imagine that the coadjutor will put himself out
for him?"

"To be sure; the coadjutor has promised."

"Who told you that?"

"Monsieur Maillard himself."

"You have seen him, then?"

"Certainly; I was there when he fell."

"What were you doing there?"

"I was shouting, `Down with Mazarin!' `Death to the
cardinal!' `The Italian to the gallows!' Isn't that what you
would have me shout?"

"Be quiet, you rascal!" said Bazin, looking uneasily around.

"So that he told me, that poor Monsieur Maillard, `Go find
the coadjutor, Friquet, and if you bring him to me you shall
be my heir.' Say, then, Father Bazin -- the heir of Monsieur
Maillard, the giver of holy water at Saint Eustache! Hey! I
shall have nothing to do but to fold my arms! All the same,
I should like to do him that service -- what do you say to

"I will tell the coadjutor," said Bazin.

In fact, he slowly and respectfully approached the prelate
and spoke to him privately a few words, to which the latter
responded by an affirmative sign. He then returned with the
same slow step and said:

"Go and tell the dying man that he must be patient.
Monseigneur will be with him in an hour."

"Good!" said Friquet, "my fortune is made."

"By the way," said Bazin, "where was he carried?"

"To the tower Saint Jacques la Boucherie;" and delighted
with the success of his embassy, Friquet started off at the
top of his speed.

When the Te Deum was over, the coadjutor, without stopping
to change his priestly dress, took his way toward that old
tower which he knew so well. He arrived in time. Though
sinking from moment to moment, the wounded man was not yet
dead. The door was opened to the coadjutor of the room in
which the mendicant was suffering.

A moment later Friquet went out, carrying in his hand a
large leather bag; he opened it as soon as he was outside
the chamber and to his great astonishment found it full of
gold. The mendicant had kept his word and made Friquet his

"Ah! Mother Nanette!" cried Friquet, suffocating; "ah!
Mother Nanette!"

He could say no more; but though he hadn't strength to speak
he had enough for action. He rushed headlong to the street,
and like the Greek from Marathon who fell in the square at
Athens, with his laurel in his hand, Friquet reached
Councillor Broussel's threshold, and then fell exhausted,
scattering on the floor the louis disgorged by his leather

Mother Nanette began by picking up the louis; then she
picked up Friquet.

In the meantime the cortege returned to the Palais Royal.

"That Monsieur d'Artagnan is a very brave man, mother," said
the young king.

"Yes, my son; and he rendered very important services to
your father. Treat him kindly, therefore, in the future."

"Captain," said the young king to D'Artagnan, on descending
from the carriage, "the queen has charged me to invite you
to dinner to-day -- you and your friend the Baron du

That was a great honor for D'Artagnan and for Porthos.
Porthos was delighted; and yet during the entire repast he
seemed to be preoccupied.

"What was the matter with you, baron?" D'Artagnan said to
him as they descended the staircase of the Palais Royal.
"You seemed at dinner to be anxious about something."

"I was trying," said Porthos, "to recall where I had seen
that mendicant whom I must have killed."

"And you couldn't remember?"


"Well, search, my friend, search; and when you have found,
you will tell me, will you not?"

"Pardieu!" said Porthos.



On going home, the two friends found a letter from Athos,
who desired them to meet him at the Grand Charlemagne on the
following day.

The friends went to bed early, but neither of them slept.
When we arrive at the summit of our wishes, success has
usually the power to drive away sleep on the first night
after the fulfilment of long cherished hopes.

The next day at the appointed hour they went to see Athos
and found him and Aramis in traveling costume.

"What!" cried Porthos, "are we all going away, then? I, so,
have made my preparations this morning."

"Oh, heavens! yes," said Aramis. "There's nothing to do in
Paris now there's no Fronde. The Duchess de Longueville has
invited me to pass a few days in Normandy, and has deputed
me, while her son is being baptized, to go and prepare her
residence at Rouen; after which, if nothing new occurs, I
shall go and bury myself in my convent at Noisy-le-Sec."

"And I," said Athos, "am returning to Bragelonne. You know,
dear D'Artagnan, I am nothing more than a good honest
country gentleman. Raoul has no fortune other than I
possess, poor child! and I must take care of it for him,
since I only lend him my name."

"And Raoul -- what shall you do with him?"

"I leave him with you, my friend. War has broken out in
Flanders. You shall take him with you there. I am afraid
that remaining at Blois would be dangerous to his youthful
mind. Take him and teach him to be as brave and loyal as you
are yourself."

"Then," replied D'Artagnan, "though I shall not have you,
Athos, at all events I shall have that dear fair-haired head
by me; and though he's but a boy, yet, since your soul lives
again in him, dear Athos, I shall always fancy that you are
near me, sustaining and encouraging me."

The four friends embraced with tears in their eyes.

Then they departed, without knowing whether they would ever
see each other again.

D'Artagnan returned to the Rue Tiquetonne with Porthos,
still possessed by the wish to find out who the man was that
he had killed. On arriving at the Hotel de la Chevrette they
found the baron's equipage all really and Mousqueton on his

"Come, D'Artagnan," said Porthos, "bid adieu to your sword
and go with me to Pierrefonds, to Bracieux, or to Du Vallon.
We will grow old together and talk of our companions."

"No!" replied D'Artagnan, "deuce take it, the campaign is
going to begin; I wish to be there, I expect to get
something by it."

"What do you expect to get?"

"Why, I expect to be made Marechal of France!"

"Ha! ha!" cried Porthos, who was not completely taken in by
D'Artagnan's Gasconades.

"Come my brother, go with me," added D'Artagnan, "and I will
see that you are made a duke!"

"No," answered Porthos, "Mouston has no desire to fight;
besides, they have erected a triumphal arch for me to enter
my barony, which will kill my neighbors with envy."

"To that I can say nothing," returned D'Artagnan, who knew
the vanity of the new baron. "Then, here's to our next merry

"Adieu, dear captain," said Porthos, "I shall always be
happy to welcome you to my barony."

"Yes, yes, when the campaign is over," replied the Gascon.

"His honor's equipage is waiting," said Mousqueton.

The two friends, after a cordial pressure of the hands,
separated. D'Artagnan was standing at the door looking after
Porthos with a mournful gaze, when the baron, after walking
scarcely more than twenty paces, returned -- stood still --
struck his forehead with his finger and exclaimed:

"I recollect!"

"What?" inquired D'Artagnan.

"Who the beggar was that I killed."

"Ah! indeed! and who was he?"

"'Twas that low fellow, Bonacieux."

And Porthos, enchanted at having relieved his mind, rejoined
Mousqueton and they disappeared around an angle of the
street. D'Artagnan stood for an instant, mute, pensive and
motionless; then, as he went in, he saw the fair Madeleine,
his hostess, standing on the threshold.

"Madeleine," said the Gascon, "give me your apartment on the
first floor; now that I am a captain in the royal musketeers
I must make an appearance; nevertheless, reserve my old room
on the fifth story for me; one never knows what may happen."

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