Part 3 out of 20
and its embroidered counterpane, than that of a man who had
made a vow that he would endeavor to gain Heaven by fasting
"You are examining my den," said Aramis. "Ah, my dear
fellow, excuse me; I am lodged like a Chartreux. But what
are you looking for?"
"I am looking for the person who let down the ladder. I see
no one and yet the ladder didn't come down of itself."
"No, it is Bazin."
"Ah! ah!" said D'Artagnan.
"But," continued Aramis, "Bazin is a well trained servant,
and seeing that I was not alone he discreetly retired. Sit
down, my dear friend, and let us talk." And Aramis pushed
forward a large easy-chair, in which D'Artagnan stretched
"In the first place, you will sup with me, will you not?"
"Yes, if you really wish it," said D'Artagnan, "and even
with great pleasure, I confess; the journey has given me a
devil of an appetite."
"Ah, my poor friend!" said Aramis, "you will find meagre
fare; you were not expected."
"Am I then threatened with the omelet of Crevecoeur?"
"Oh, let us hope," said Aramis, "that with the help of God
and of Bazin we shall find something better than that in the
larder of the worthy Jesuit fathers. Bazin, my friend, come
The door opened and Bazin entered; on perceiving the
musketeer he uttered an exclamation that was almost a cry of
"My dear Bazin," said D'Artagnan, "I am delighted to see
with what wonderful composure you can tell a lie even in
"Sir," replied Bazin, "I have been taught by the good Jesuit
fathers that it is permitted to tell a falsehood when it is
told in a good cause."
"So far well," said Aramis; "we are dying of hunger. Serve
us up the best supper you can, and especially give us some
Bazin bowed low, sighed, and left the room.
"Now we are alone, dear Aramis," said D'Artagnan, "tell me
how the devil you managed to alight upon the back of
"I'faith!" answered Aramis, "as you see, from Heaven."
"From Heaven," replied D'Artagnan, shaking his head; "you
have no more the appearance of coming from thence than you
have of going there."
"My friend," said Aramis, with a look of imbecility on his
face which D'Artagnan had never observed whilst he was in
the musketeers, "if I did not come from Heaven, at least I
was leaving Paradise, which is almost the same."
"Here, then, is a puzzle for the learned," observed
D'Artagnan, "until now they have never been able to agree as
to the situation of Paradise; some place it on Mount Ararat,
others between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates; it seems
that they have been looking very far away for it, while it
was actually very near. Paradise is at Noisy le Sec, upon
the site of the archbishop's chateau. People do not go out
from it by the door, but by the window; one doesn't descend
here by the marble steps of a peristyle, but by the branches
of a lime-tree; and the angel with a flaming sword who
guards this elysium seems to have changed his celestial name
of Gabriel into that of the more terrestrial one of the
Prince de Marsillac."
Aramis burst into a fit of laughter.
"You were always a merry companion, my dear D'Artagnan," he
said, "and your witty Gascon fancy has not deserted you.
Yes, there is something in what you say; nevertheless, do
not believe that it is Madame de Longueville with whom I am
"A plague on't! I shall not do so. After having been so long
in love with Madame de Chevreuse, you would hardly lay your
heart at the feet of her mortal enemy!"
"Yes," replied Aramis, with an absent air; "yes, that poor
duchess! I once loved her much, and to do her justice, she
was very useful to us. Eventually she was obliged to leave
France. He was a relentless enemy, that damned cardinal,"
continued Aramis, glancing at the portrait of the old
minister. "He had even given orders to arrest her and would
have cut off her head had she not escaped with her
waiting-maid -- poor Kitty! I have heard that she met with a
strange adventure in I don't know what village, with I don't
know what cure, of whom she asked hospitality and who,
having but one chamber, and taking her for a cavalier,
offered to share it with her. For she had a wonderful way of
dressing as a man, that dear Marie; I know only one other
woman who can do it as well. So they made this song about
her: `Laboissiere, dis moi.' You know it, don't you?"
"No, sing it, please."
Aramis immediately complied, and sang the song in a very
"Bravo!" cried D'Artagnan, "you sing charmingly, dear
Aramis. I do not perceive that singing masses has spoiled
"My dear D'Artagnan," replied Aramis, "you understand, when
I was a musketeer I mounted guard as seldom as I could; now
when I am an abbe I say as few masses as I can. But to
return to our duchess."
"Which -- the Duchess de Chevreuse or the Duchess de
"Have I not already told you that there is nothing between
me and the Duchess de Longueville? Little flirtations,
perhaps, and that's all. No, I spoke of the Duchess de
Chevreuse; did you see her after her return from Brussels,
after the king's death?"
"Yes, she is still beautiful."
"Yes," said Aramis, "I saw her also at that time. I gave her
good advice, by which she did not profit. I ventured to tell
her that Mazarin was the lover of Anne of Austria. She
wouldn't believe me, saying that she knew Anne of Austria,
who was too proud to love such a worthless coxcomb. After
that she plunged into the cabal headed by the Duke of
Beaufort; and the `coxcomb' arrested De Beaufort and
banished Madame de Chevreuse."
"You know," resumed D'Artagnan, "that she has had leave to
return to France?"
"Yes she is come back and is going to commit some fresh
folly or another."
"Oh, but this time perhaps she will follow your advice."
"Oh, this time," returned Aramis, "I haven't seen her; she
is much changed."
"In that respect unlike you, my dear Aramis, for you are
still the same; you have still your beautiful dark hair,
still your elegant figure, still your feminine hands, which
are admirably suited to a prelate."
"Yes," replied Aramis, "I am extremely careful of my
appearance. Do you know that I am growing old? I am nearly
"Mind, Aramis" -- D'Artagnan smiled as he spoke -- "since we
are together again, let us agree on one point: what age
shall we be in future?"
"Formerly I was your junior by two or three years, and if I
am not mistaken I am turned forty years old."
"Indeed! Then 'tis I who am mistaken, for you have always
been a good chronologist. By your reckoning I must be
forty-three at least. The devil I am! Don't let it out at
the Hotel Rambouillet; it would ruin me," replied the abbe.
"Don't be afraid," said D'Artagnan. "I never go there."
"Why, what in the world," cried Aramis, "is that animal
Bazin doing? Bazin! Hurry up there, you rascal; we are mad
with hunger and thirst!"
Bazin entered at that moment carrying a bottle in each hand.
"At last," said Aramis, "we are ready, are we?
"Yes, monsieur, quite ready," said Bazin; "but it took me
some time to bring up all the ---- "
"Because you always think you have on your shoulders your
beadle's robe, and spend all your time reading your
breviary. But I give you warning that if in polishing your
chapel utensils you forget how to brighten up my sword, I
will make a great fire of your blessed images and will see
that you are roasted on it."
Bazin, scandalized, made a sign of the cross with the bottle
in his hand. D'Artagnan, more surprised than ever at the
tone and manners of the Abbe d'Herblay, which contrasted so
strongly with those of the Musketeer Aramis, remained
staring with wide-open eyes at the face of his friend.
Bazin quickly covered the table with a damask cloth and
arranged upon it so many things, gilded, perfumed,
appetizing, that D'Artagnan was quite overcome.
"But you expected some one then?" asked the officer.
"Oh," said Aramis, "I always try to be prepared; and then I
knew you were seeking me."
"From Master Bazin, to be sure; he took you for the devil,
my dear fellow, and hastened to warn me of the danger that
threatened my soul if I should meet again a companion so
wicked as an officer of musketeers."
"Oh, monsieur!" said Bazin, clasping his hands
"Come, no hypocrisy! you know that I don't like it. You will
do much better to open the window and let down some bread, a
chicken and a bottle of wine to your friend Planchet, who
has been this last hour killing himself clapping his hands."
Planchet, in fact, had bedded and fed his horses, and then
coming back under the window had repeated two or three times
the signal agreed upon.
Bazin obeyed, fastened to the end of a cord the three
articles designated and let them down to Planchet, who then
went satisfied to his shed.
"Now to supper," said Aramis.
The two friends sat down and Aramis began to cut up fowls,
partridges and hams with admirable skill.
"The deuce!" cried D'Artagnan; "do you live in this way
"Yes, pretty well. The coadjutor has given me dispensations
from fasting on the jours maigres, on account of my health;
then I have engaged as my cook the cook who lived with
Lafollone -- you know the man I mean? -- the friend of the
cardinal, and the famous epicure whose grace after dinner
used to be, `Good Lord, do me the favor to cause me to
digest what I have eaten.'"
"Nevertheless he died of indigestion, in spite of his
grace," said D'Artagnan.
"What can you expect?" replied Aramis, in a tone of
resignation. "Every man that's born must fulfil his
"If it be not an indelicate question," resumed D'Artagnan,
"have you grown rich?"
"Oh, Heaven! no. I make about twelve thousand francs a year,
without counting a little benefice of a thousand crowns the
prince gave me."
"And how do you make your twelve thousand francs? By your
"No, I have given up poetry, except now and then to write a
drinking song, some gay sonnet or some innocent epigram; I
compose sermons, my friend."
"What! sermons? Do you preach them?"
"No; I sell them to those of my cloth who wish to become
"Ah, indeed! and you have not been tempted by the hopes of
"I should, my dear D'Artagnan, have been so, but nature said
`No.' When I am in the pulpit, if by chance a pretty woman
looks at me, I look at her again: if she smiles, I smile
too. Then I speak at random; instead of preaching about the
torments of hell I talk of the joys of Paradise. An event
took place in the Church of St. Louis au Marais. A gentleman
laughed in my face. I stopped short to tell him that he was
a fool; the congregation went out to get stones to stone me
with, but whilst they were away I found means to conciliate
the priests who were present, so that my foe was pelted
instead of me. 'Tis true that he came the next morning to my
house, thinking that he had to do with an abbe -- like all
"And what was the end of the affair?"
"We met in the Place Royale -- Egad! you know about it."
"Was I not your second?" cried D'Artagnan.
"You were; you know how I settled the matter."
"Did he die?"
"I don't know. But, at all events, I gave him absolution in
articulo mortis. 'Tis enough to kill the body, without
killing the soul."
Bazin made a despairing sign which meant that while perhaps
he approved the moral he altogether disapproved the tone in
which it was uttered.
"Bazin, my friend," said Aramis, "you don't seem to be aware
that I can see you in that mirror, and you forget that once
for all I have forbidden all signs of approbation or
disapprobation. You will do me the favor to bring us some
Spanish wine and then to withdraw. Besides, my friend
D'Artagnan has something to say to me privately, have you
D'Artagnan nodded his head and Bazin retired, after placing
on the table the Spanish wine.
The two friends, left alone, remained silent, face to face.
Aramis seemed to await a comfortable digestion; D'Artagnan,
to be preparing his exordium. Each of them, when the other
was not looking, hazarded a sly glance. It was Aramis who
broke the silence.
"What are you thinking of, D'Artagnan?" he began.
"I was thinking, my dear old friend, that when you were a
musketeer you turned your thoughts incessantly to the
church, and now that you are an abbe you are perpetually
longing to be once more a musketeer."
"'Tis true; man, as you know," said Aramis, "is a strange
animal, made up of contradictions. Since I became an abbe I
dream of nothing but battles."
"That is apparent in your surroundings; you have rapiers
here of every form and to suit the most exacting taste. Do
you still fence well?"
"I -- I fence as well as you did in the old time -- better
still, perhaps; I do nothing else all day."
"And with whom?"
"With an excellent master-at-arms that we have here."
Yes, here, in this convent, my dear fellow. There is
everything in a Jesuit convent."
"Then you would have killed Monsieur de Marsillac if he had
come alone to attack you, instead of at the head of twenty
"Undoubtedly," said Aramis, "and even at the head of his
twenty men, if I could have drawn without being recognized."
"God pardon me!" said D'Artagnan to himself, "I believe he
has become more Gascon than I am!" Then aloud: "Well, my
dear Aramis, do you ask me why I came to seek you?"
"No, I have not asked you that," said Aramis, with his
subtle manner; "but I have expected you to tell me."
"Well, I sought you for the single purpose of offering you a
chance to kill Monsieur de Marsillac whenever you please,
prince though he is."
"Hold on! wait!" said Aramis; "that is an idea!"
"Of which I invite you to take advantage, my friend. Let us
see; with your thousand crowns from the abbey and the twelve
thousand francs you make by selling sermons, are you rich?
"I? I am as poor as Job, and were you to search my pockets
and my boxes I don't believe you would find a hundred
"Peste! a hundred pistoles!" said D'Artagnan to himself; "he
calls that being as poor as Job! If I had them I should
think myself as rich as Croesus." Then aloud: "Are you
"Well, my friend, I bring you the means of becoming rich,
powerful, and free to do whatever you wish."
The shadow of a cloud passed over Aramis's face as quickly
as that which in August passes over the field of grain; but
quick as it was, it did not escape D'Artagnan's observation.
"Speak on," said Aramis.
"One question first. Do you take any interest in politics?"
A gleam of light shone in Aramis's eyes, as brief as the
shadow that had passed over his face, but not so brief but
that it was seen by D'Artagnan.
"No," Aramis replied.
"Then proposals from any quarter will be agreeable to you,
since for the moment you have no master but God?"
"It is possible."
"Have you, my dear Aramis, thought sometimes of those happy,
happy, happy days of youth we passed laughing, drinking, and
fighting each other for play?"
"Certainly, and more than once regretted them; it was indeed
a glorious time."
"Well, those splendidly wild days may chance to come again;
I am commissioned to find out my companions and I began by
you, who were the very soul of our society."
Aramis bowed, rather with respect than pleasure at the
"To meddle in politics," he exclaimed, in a languid voice,
leaning back in his easy-chair. "Ah! dear D'Artagnan! see
how regularly I live and how easy I am here. We have
experienced the ingratitude of `the great,' as you well
"'Tis true," replied D'Artagnan. "Yet the great sometimes
repent of their ingratitude."
"In that case it would be quite another thing. Come! let's
be merciful to every sinner! Besides, you are right in
another respect, which is in thinking that if we were to
meddle in politics there could not be a better time than the
"How can you know that? You who never interest yourself in
"Ah! without caring about them myself, I live among those
who are much occupied in them. Poet as I am, I am intimate
with Sarazin, who is devoted to the Prince de Conti, and
with Monsieur de Bois-Robert, who, since the death of
Cardinal Richelieu, is of all parties or any party; so that
political discussions have not altogether been uninteresting
"I have no doubt of it," said D'Artagnan.
"Now, my dear friend, look upon all I tell you as merely the
statement of a monk -- of a man who resembles an echo --
repeating simply what he hears. I understand that Mazarin is
at this very moment extremely uneasy as to the state of
affairs; that his orders are not respected like those of our
former bugbear, the deceased cardinal, whose portrait as you
see hangs yonder -- for whatever may be thought of him, it
must be allowed that Richelieu was great."
"I will not contradict you there," said D'Artagnan.
"My first impressions were favorable to the minister; I said
to myself that a minister is never loved, but that with the
genius this one was said to have he would eventually triumph
over his enemies and would make himself feared, which in my
opinion is much more to be desired than to be loved ---- "
D'Artagnan made a sign with his head which indicated that he
entirely approved that doubtful maxim.
"This, then," continued Aramis, "was my first opinion; but
as I am very ignorant in matters of this kind and as the
humility which I profess obliges me not to rest on my own
judgment, but to ask the opinion of others, I have inquired
-- Eh! -- my friend ---- "
"Well? what?" asked his friend.
"Well, I must mortify myself. I must confess that I was
mistaken. Monsieur de Mazarin is not a man of genius, as I
thought, he is a man of no origin -- once a servant of
Cardinal Bentivoglio, and he got on by intrigue. He is an
upstart, a man of no name, who will only be the tool of a
party in France. He will amass wealth, he will injure the
king's revenue and pay to himself the pensions which
Richelieu paid to others. He is neither a gentleman in
manner nor in feeling, but a sort of buffoon, a punchinello,
a pantaloon. Do you know him? I do not."
"Hem!" said D'Artagnan, "there is some truth in what you
"Ah! it fills me with pride to find that, thanks to a common
sort of penetration with which I am endowed, I am approved
by a man like you, fresh from the court."
"But you speak of him, not of his party, his resources."
"It is true -- the queen is for him."
"Something in his favor."
"But he will never have the king."
"A mere child."
"A child who will be of age in four years. Then he has
neither the parliament nor the people with him -- they
represent the wealth of the country; nor the nobles nor the
princes, who are the military power of France."
D'Artagnan scratched his ear. He was forced to confess to
himself that this reasoning was not only comprehensive, but
"You see, my poor friend, that I am sometimes bereft of my
ordinary thoughtfulness; perhaps I am wrong in speaking thus
to you, who have evidently a leaning to Mazarin."
"I!" cried D'Artagnan, "not in the least."
"You spoke of a mission."
"Did I? I was wrong then, no, I said what you say -- there
is a crisis at hand. Well! let's fly the feather before the
wind; let us join with that side to which the wind will
carry it and resume our adventurous life. We were once four
valiant knights -- four hearts fondly united; let us unite
again, not our hearts, which have never been severed, but
our courage and our fortunes. Here's a good opportunity for
getting something better than a diamond."
"You are right, D'Artagnan; I held a similar project, but as
I had not nor ever shall have your fruitful, vigorous
imagination, the idea was suggested to me. Every one
nowadays wants auxiliaries; propositions have been made to
me and I confess to you frankly that the coadjutor has made
me speak out."
"Monsieur de Gondy! the cardinal's enemy?"
"No; the king's friend," said Aramis; "the king's friend,
you understand. Well, it is a question of serving the king,
the gentleman's duty."
"But the king is with Mazarin."
"He is, but not willingly; in appearance, not heart; and
that is exactly the snare the king's enemies are preparing
for the poor child."
"Ah! but this is, indeed, civil war which you propose to me,
"War for the king."
"Yet the king will be at the head of the army on Mazarin's
"But his heart will be in the army commanded by the Duc de
"Monsieur de Beaufort? He is at Vincennes."
"Did I say Monsieur de Beaufort? Monsieur de Beaufort or
another. Monsieur de Beaufort or Monsieur le Prince."
"But Monsieur le Prince is to set out for the army; he is
entirely devoted to the cardinal."
"Oh oh!" said Aramis, "there are questions between them at
this very moment. And besides, if it is not the prince, then
Monsieur de Gondy ---- "
"But Monsieur de Gondy is to be made a cardinal; they are
soliciting the hat for him."
"And are there no cardinals that can fight? Come now, recall
the four cardinals that at the head of armies have equalled
Monsieur de Guebriant and Monsieur de Gassion."
"But a humpbacked general!
"Under the cuirass the hump will not be seen. Besides,
remember that Alexander was lame and Hannibal had but one
"Do you see any great advantage in adhering to this party?"
"I foresee in it the aid of powerful princes."
"With the enmity of the government."
"Counteracted by parliament and insurrections."
"That may be done if they can separate the king from his
"That may be done," said Aramis.
"Never!" cried D'Artagnan. "You, Aramis, know Anne of
Austria better than I do. Do you think she will ever forget
that her son is her safeguard, her shield, the pledge for
her dignity, for her fortune and her life? Should she
forsake Mazarin she must join her son and go over to the
princes' side; but you know better than I do that there are
certain reasons why she can never abandon Mazarin."
"Perhaps you are right," said Aramis, thoughtfully;
"therefore I shall not pledge myself."
"To them or to us, do you mean, Aramis?"
"To no one. I am a priest," resumed Aramis. "What have I to
do with politics? I am not obliged to read any breviary. I
have a jolly little circle of witty abbes and pretty women;
everything goes on smoothly, so certainly, dear friend, I
shall not meddle in politics."
"Well, listen, my dear Aramis," said D'Artagnan; "your
philosophy convinces me, on my honor. I don't know what
devil of an insect stung me and made me ambitious. I have a
post by which I live; at the death of Monsieur de Treville,
who is old, I may be a captain, which is a very snug berth
for a once penniless Gascon. Instead of running after
adventures I shall accept an invitation from Porthos; I
shall go and shoot on his estate. You know he has estates --
"I should think so, indeed. Ten leagues of wood, of marsh
land and valleys; he is lord of the hill and the plain and
is now carrying on a suit for his feudal rights against the
Bishop of Noyon!"
"Good," said D'Artagnan to himself. "That's what I wanted to
know. Porthos is in Picardy."
"And he has taken his ancient name of Vallon?"
"To which he adds that of Bracieux, an estate which has been
a barony, by my troth."
"So that Porthos will be a baron."
"I don't doubt it. The 'Baroness Porthos' will sound
And the two friends began to laugh.
"So," D'Artagnan resumed, "you will not become a partisan of
"Nor you of the Prince de Conde?"
"No, let us belong to no party, but remain friends; let us
be neither Cardinalists nor Frondists."
"Adieu, then." And D'Artagnan poured out a glass of wine.
"To old times," he said.
"Yes," returned Aramis. "Unhappily, those times are past."
"Nonsense! They will return," said D'Artagnan. "At all
events, if you want me, remember the Rue Tiquetonne, Hotel
de la Chevrette."
"And I shall be at the convent of Jesuits; from six in the
morning to eight at night come by the door. From eight in
the evening until six in the morning come in by the window."
"Adieu, dear friend."
"Oh, I can't let you go so! I will go with you." And he took
his sword and cloak.
"He wants to be sure that I go away," said D'Artagnan to
Aramis whistled for Bazin, but Bazin was asleep in the
ante-chamber, and Aramis was obliged to shake him by the ear
to awake him.
Bazin stretched his arms, rubbed his eyes, and tried to go
to sleep again.
"Come, come, sleepy head; quick, the ladder!"
"But," said Bazin, yawning portentously, "the ladder is
still at the window."
"The other one, the gardener's. Didn't you see that Monsieur
d'Artagnan mounted with difficulty? It will be even more
difficult to descend."
D'Artagnan was about to assure Aramis that he could descend
easily, when an idea came into his head which silenced him.
Bazin uttered a profound sigh and went out to look for the
ladder. Presently a good, solid, wooden ladder was placed
against the window.
"Now then," said D'Artagnan, "this is something like; this
is a means of communication. A woman could go up a ladder
Aramis's searching look seemed to seek his friend's thought
even at the bottom of his heart, but D'Artagnan sustained
the inquisition with an air of admirable simplicity.
Besides, at that moment he put his foot on the first step of
the ladder and began his descent. In a moment he was on the
ground. Bazin remained at the window.
"Stay there," said Aramis; "I shall return immediately."
The two friends went toward the shed. At their approach
Planchet came out leading the two horses.
"That is good to see," said Aramis. "There is a servant
active and vigilant, not like that lazy fellow Bazin, who is
no longer good for anything since he became connected with
the church. Follow us, Planchet; we shall continue our
conversation to the end of the village."
They traversed the width of the village, talking of
indifferent things, then as they reached the last houses:
"Go, then, dear friend," said Aramis, "follow your own
career. Fortune lavishes her smiles upon you; do not let her
flee from your embrace. As for me, I remain in my humility
and indolence. Adieu!"
"Thus 'tis quite decided," said D'Artagnan, "that what I
have to offer to you does not tempt you?"
"On the contrary, it would tempt me were I any other man,"
rejoined Aramis; "but I repeat, I am made up of
contradictions. What I hate to-day I adore to-morrow, and
vice versa. You see that I cannot, like you, for instance,
settle on any fixed plan."
"Thou liest, subtile one," said D'Artagnan to himself. "Thou
alone, on the contrary, knowest how to choose thy object and
to gain it stealthily."
The friends embraced. They descended into the plain by the
ladder. Planchet met them hard by the shed. D'Artagnan
jumped into the saddle, then the old companions in arms
again shook hands. D'Artagnan and Planchet spurred their
steeds and took the road to Paris.
But after he had gone about two hundred steps D'Artagnan
stopped short, alighted, threw the bridle of his horse over
the arm of Planchet and took the pistols from his saddle-bow
to fasten them to his girdle.
"What's the matter?" asked Planchet.
"This is the matter: be he ever so cunning he shall never
say I was his dupe. Stand here, don't stir, turn your back
to the road and wait for me."
Having thus spoken, D'Artagnan cleared the ditch by the
roadside and crossed the plain so as to wind around the
village. He had observed between the house that Madame de
Longueville inhabited and the convent of the Jesuits, an
open space surrounded by a hedge.
The moon had now risen and he could see well enough to
retrace his road.
He reached the hedge and hid himself behind it; in passing
by the house where the scene which we have related took
place, he remarked that the window was again lighted up and
he was convinced that Aramis had not yet returned to his own
apartment and that when he did it would not be alone.
In truth, in a few minutes he heard steps approaching and
Close to the hedge the steps stopped.
D'Artagnan knelt down near the thickest part of the hedge.
Two men, to the astonishment of D'Artagnan, appeared
shortly; soon, however, his surprise vanished, for he heard
the murmurs of a soft, harmonious voice; one of these two
men was a woman disguised as a cavalier.
"Calm yourself, dear Rene," said the soft voice, "the same
thing will never happen again. I have discovered a sort of
subterranean passage which runs beneath the street and we
shall only have to raise one of the marble slabs before the
door to open you an entrance and an outlet."
"Oh!" answered another voice, which D'Artagnan instantly
recognized as that of Aramis. "I swear to you, princess,
that if your reputation did not depend on precautions and if
my life alone were jeopardized ---- "
"Yes, yes! I know you are as brave and venturesome as any
man in the world, but you do not belong to me alone; you
belong to all our party. Be prudent! sensible!"
"I always obey, madame, when I am commanded by so gentle a
He kissed her hand tenderly.
"Ah!" exclaimed the cavalier with a soft voice.
"What's the matter?" asked Aramis.
"Do you not see that the wind has blown off my hat?"
Aramis rushed after the fugitive hat. D'Artagnan took
advantage of the circumstance to find a place in the hedge
not so thick, where his glance could penetrate to the
supposed cavalier. At that instant, the moon, inquisitive,
perhaps, like D'Artagnan, came from behind a cloud and by
her light D'Artagnan recognized the large blue eyes, the
golden hair and the classic head of the Duchess de
Aramis returned, laughing, one hat on his head and the other
in his hand; and he and his companion resumed their walk
toward the convent.
"Good!" said D'Artagnan, rising and brushing his knees; "now
I have thee -- thou art a Frondeur and the lover of Madame
Monsieur Porthos du Vallon de Bracieux de Pierrefonds.
Thanks to what Aramis had told him, D'Artagnan, who knew
already that Porthos called himself Du Vallon, was now aware
that he styled himself, from his estate, De Bracieux; and
that he was, on account of this estate, engaged in a lawsuit
with the Bishop of Noyon. It was, then, in the neighborhood
of Noyon that he must seek that estate. His itinerary was
promptly determined: he would go to Dammartin, from which
place two roads diverge, one toward Soissons, the other
toward Compiegne; there he would inquire concerning the
Bracieux estate and go to the right or to the left according
to the information obtained.
Planchet, who was still a little concerned for his safety
after his recent escapade, declared that he would follow
D'Artagnan even to the end of the world, either by the road
to the right or by that to the left; only he begged his
former master to set out in the evening, for greater
security to himself. D'Artagnan suggested that he should
send word to his wife, so that she might not be anxious
about him, but Planchet replied with much sagacity that he
was very sure his wife would not die of anxiety through not
knowing where he was, while he, Planchet, remembering her
incontinence of tongue, would die of anxiety if she did
This reasoning seemed to D'Artagnan so satisfactory that he
no further insisted; and about eight o'clock in the evening,
the time when the vapors of night begin to thicken in the
streets, he left the Hotel de la Chevrette, and followed by
Planchet set forth from the capital by way of the Saint
At midnight the two travelers were at Dammartin, but it was
then too late to make inquiries -- the host of the Cygne de
la Croix had gone to bed.
The next morning D'Artagnan summoned the host, one of those
sly Normans who say neither yes nor no and fear to commit
themselves by giving a direct answer. D'Artagnan, however,
gathered from his equivocal replies that the road to the
right was the one he ought to take, and on that uncertain
information he resumed his journey. At nine in the morning
he reached Nanteuil and stopped for breakfast. His host here
was a good fellow from Picardy, who gave him all the
information he needed. The Bracieux estate was a few leagues
D'Artagnan was acquainted with Villars-Cotterets having gone
thither with the court on several occasions; for at that
time Villars-Cotterets was a royal residence. He therefore
shaped his course toward that place and dismounted at the
Dauphin d'Or. There he ascertained that the Bracieux estate
was four leagues distant, but that Porthos was not at
Bracieux. Porthos had, in fact, been involved in a dispute
with the Bishop of Noyon in regard to the Pierrefonds
property, which adjoined his own, and weary at length of a
legal controversy which was beyond his comprehension, he put
an end to it by purchasing Pierrefonds and added that name
to his others. He now called himself Du Vallon de Bracieux
de Pierrefonds, and resided on his new estate.
The travelers were therefore obliged to stay at the hotel
until the next day; the horses had done ten leagues that day
and needed rest. It is true they might have taken others,
but there was a great forest to pass through and Planchet,
as we have seen, had no liking for forests after dark.
There was another thing that Planchet had no liking for and
that was starting on a journey with a hungry stomach.
Accordingly, D'Artagnan, on awaking, found his breakfast
waiting for him. It need not be said that Planchet in
resuming his former functions resumed also his former
humility and was not ashamed to make his breakfast on what
was left by D'Artagnan.
It was nearly eight o'clock when they set out again. Their
course was clearly defined: they were to follow the road
toward Compiegne and on emerging from the forest turn to the
The morning was beautiful, and in this early springtime the
birds sang on the trees and the sunbeams shone through the
misty glades, like curtains of golden gauze.
In other parts of the forest the light could scarcely
penetrate through the foliage, and the stems of two old oak
trees, the refuge of the squirrel, startled by the
travelers, were in deep shadow.
There came up from all nature in the dawn of day a perfume
of herbs, flowers and leaves, which delighted the heart.
D'Artagnan, sick of the closeness of Paris, thought that
when a man had three names of his different estates joined
one to another, he ought to be very happy in such a
paradise; then he shook his head, saying, "If I were Porthos
and D'Artagnan came to make me such a proposition as I am
going to make to him, I know what I should say to it."
As to Planchet, he thought of little or nothing, but was
happy as a hunting-hound in his old master's company.
At the extremity of the wood D'Artagnan perceived the road
that had been described to him, and at the end of the road
he saw the towers of an immense feudal castle.
"Oh! oh!" he said, "I fancied this castle belonged to the
ancient branch of Orleans. Can Porthos have negotiated for
it with the Duc de Longueville?"
"Faith!" exclaimed Planchet, "here's land in good condition;
if it belongs to Monsieur Porthos I wish him joy."
"Zounds!" cried D'Artagnan, "don't call him Porthos, nor
even Vallon; call him De Bracieux or De Pierrefonds; thou
wilt knell out damnation to my mission otherwise."
As he approached the castle which had first attracted his
eye, D'Artagnan was convinced that it could not be there
that his friend dwelt; the towers, though solid and as if
built yesterday, were open and broken. One might have
fancied that some giant had cleaved them with blows from a
On arriving at the extremity of the castle D'Artagnan found
himself overlooking a beautiful valley, in which, at the
foot of a charming little lake, stood several scattered
houses, which, humble in their aspect, and covered, some
with tiles, others with thatch, seemed to acknowledge as
their sovereign lord a pretty chateau, built about the
beginning of the reign of Henry IV., and surmounted by four
stately, gilded weather-cocks. D'Artagnan no longer doubted
that this was Porthos's pleasant dwelling place.
The road led straight up to the chateau which, compared to
its ancestor on the hill, was exactly what a fop of the
coterie of the Duc d'Enghein would have been beside a knight
in steel armor in the time of Charles VII. D'Artagnan
spurred his horse on and pursued his road, followed by
Planchet at the same pace.
In ten minutes D'Artagnan reached the end of an alley
regularly planted with fine poplars and terminating in an
iron gate, the points and crossed bars of which were gilt.
In the midst of this avenue was a nobleman, dressed in green
and with as much gilding about him as the iron gate, riding
on a tall horse. On his right hand and his left were two
footmen, with the seams of their dresses laced. A
considerable number of clowns were assembled and rendered
homage to their lord.
"Ah!" said D'Artagnan to himself, "can this be the Seigneur
du Vallon de Bracieux de Pierrefonds? Well-a-day! how he has
shrunk since he gave up the name of Porthos!"
"This cannot be Monsieur Porthos," observed Planchet
replying, as it were, to his master's thoughts. "Monsieur
Porthos was six feet high; this man is scarcely five."
"Nevertheless," said D'Artagnan, "the people are bowing very
low to this person."
As he spoke, he rode toward the tall horse -- to the man of
importance and his valets. As he approached he seemed to
recognize the features of this individual.
"Jesu!" cried Planchet, "can it be?"
At this exclamation the man on horseback turned slowly and
with a lofty air, and the two travelers could see, displayed
in all their brilliancy, the large eyes, the vermilion
visage, and the eloquent smile of -- Mousqueton.
It was indeed Mousqueton -- Mousqueton, as fat as a pig,
rolling about with rude health, puffed out with good living,
who, recognizing D'Artagnan and acting very differently from
the hypocrite Bazin, slipped off his horse and approached
the officer with his hat off, so that the homage of the
assembled crowd was turned toward this new sun, which
eclipsed the former luminary.
"Monsieur d'Artagnan! Monsieur d'Artagnan!" cried Mousqueton,
his fat cheeks swelling out and his whole frame perspiring
with joy; "Monsieur d'Artagnan! oh! what joy for my lord and
master, Du Vallon de Bracieux de Pierrefonds!"
"Thou good Mousqueton! where is thy master?"
"You stand upon his property!"
"But how handsome thou art -- how fat! thou hast prospered
and grown stout!" and D'Artagnan could not restrain his
astonishment at the change good fortune had produced on the
once famished one.
"Hey, yes, thank God, I am pretty well," said Mousqueton.
"But hast thou nothing to say to thy friend Planchet?"
"How, my friend Planchet? Planchet -- art thou there?" cried
Mousqueton, with open arms and eyes full of tears.
"My very self," replied Planchet; "but I wanted first to see
if thou wert grown proud."
"Proud toward an old friend? never, Planchet! thou wouldst
not have thought so hadst thou known Mousqueton well."
"So far so well," answered Planchet, alighting, and
extending his arms to Mousqueton, the two servants embraced
with an emotion which touched those who were present and
made them suppose that Planchet was a great lord in
disguise, so highly did they estimate the position of
"And now, sir," resumed Mousqueton, when he had rid himself
of Planchet, who had in vain tried to clasp his hands behind
his friend's fat back, "now, sir, allow me to leave you, for
I could not permit my master to hear of your arrival from
any but myself; he would never forgive me for not having
"This dear friend," said D'Artagnan, carefully avoiding to
utter either the former name borne by Porthos or his new
one, "then he has not forgotten me?"
"Forgotten -- he!" cried Mousqueton; "there's not a day, sir,
that we don't expect to hear that you were made marshal
either instead of Monsieur de Gassion, or of Monsieur de
On D'Artagnan's lips there played one of those rare and
melancholy smiles which seemed to emanate from the depth of
his soul -- the last trace of youth and happiness that had
survived life's disillusions.
"And you -- fellows," resumed Mousqueton, "stay near Monsieur
le Comte d'Artagnan and pay him every attention in your
power whilst I go to prepare my lord for his visit."
And mounting his horse Mousqueton rode off down the avenue on
the grass at a hand gallop.
"Ah, there! there's something promising," said D'Artagnan.
"No mysteries, no cloak to hide one's self in, no cunning
policy here; people laugh outright, they weep for joy here.
I see nothing but faces a yard broad; in short, it seems to
me that nature herself wears a holiday garb, and that the
trees, instead of leaves and flowers, are covered with red
and green ribbons as on gala days."
"As for me," said Planchet, "I seem to smell, from this
place, even, a most delectable perfume of fine roast meat,
and to see the scullions in a row by the hedge, hailing our
approach. Ah! sir, what a cook must Monsieur Pierrefonds
have, when he was so fond of eating and drinking, even
whilst he was only called Monsieur Porthos!"
"Say no more!" cried D'Artagnan. "If the reality corresponds
with appearances I am lost; for a man so well off will never
change his happy condition, and I shall fail with him, as I
have already done with Aramis."
How D'Artagnan, in discovering the Retreat of Porthos,
perceives that Wealth does not necessarily produce
D'Artagnan passed through the iron gate and arrived in front
of the chateau. He alighted as he saw a species of giant on
the steps. Let us do justice to D'Artagnan. Independently of
every selfish wish, his heart palpitated with joy when he
saw that tall form and martial demeanor, which recalled to
him a good and brave man.
He ran to Porthos and threw himself into his arms; the whole
body of servants, arranged in a semi-circle at a respectful
distance, looked on with humble curiosity. Mousqueton, at the
head of them, wiped his eyes. Porthos linked his arm in that
of his friend.
"Ah! how delightful to see you again, dear friend!" he
cried, in a voice which was now changed from a baritone into
a bass, "you've not then forgotten me?"
"Forget you! oh! dear Du Vallon, does one forget the
happiest days of flowery youth, one's dearest friends, the
dangers we have dared together? On the contrary, there is
not an hour we have passed together that is not present to
"Yes, yes," said Porthos, trying to give to his mustache a
curl which it had lost whilst he had been alone. "Yes, we
did some fine things in our time and we gave that poor
cardinal a few threads to unravel."
And he heaved a sigh.
"Under any circumstances," he resumed, "you are welcome, my
dear friend; you will help me to recover my spirits;
to-morrow we will hunt the hare on my plain, which is a
superb tract of land, or pursue the deer in my woods, which
are magnificent. I have four harriers which are considered
the swiftest in the county, and a pack of hounds which are
unequalled for twenty leagues around."
And Porthos heaved another sigh.
"But, first," interposed D'Artagnan, "you must present me to
Madame du Vallon."
A third sigh from Porthos.
"I lost Madame du Vallon two years ago," he said, "and you
find me still in affliction on that account. That was the
reason why I left my Chateau du Vallon near Corbeil, and
came to my estate, Bracieux. Poor Madame du Vallon! her
temper was uncertain, but she came at last to accustom
herself to my little ways and understand my little wishes."
"So you are free now, and rich?"
"Alas!" groaned Porthos, "I am a widower and have forty
thousand francs a year. Let us go to breakfast."
"I shall be happy to do so; the morning air has made me
"Yes," said Porthos; "my air is excellent."
They went into the chateau; there was nothing but gilding,
high and low; the cornices were gilt, the mouldings were
gilt, the legs and arms of the chairs were gilt. A table,
ready set out, awaited them.
"You see," said Porthos, "this is my usual style."
"Devil take me!" answered D'Artagnan, "I wish you joy of it.
The king has nothing like it."
"No," answered Porthos, "I hear it said that he is very
badly fed by the cardinal, Monsieur de Mazarin. Taste this
cutlet, my dear D'Artagnan; 'tis off one of my sheep."
"You have very tender mutton and I wish you joy of it." said
"Yes, the sheep are fed in my meadows, which are excellent
"Give me another cutlet."
"No, try this hare, which I had killed yesterday in one of
"Zounds! what a flavor!" cried D'Artagnan; "ah! they are fed
on thyme only, your hares."
"And how do you like my wine?" asked Porthos; "it is
pleasant, isn't it?"
"It is nothing, however, but a wine of the country."
"Yes, a small declivity to the south, yonder on my hill,
gives me twenty hogsheads."
"Quite a vineyard, hey?"
Porthos sighed for the fifth time -- D'Artagnan had counted
his sighs. He became curious to solve the problem.
"Well now," he said, "it seems, my dear friend, that
something vexes you; you are ill, perhaps? That health,
which ---- "
"Excellent, my dear friend; better than ever. I could kill
an ox with a blow of my fist."
"Well, then, family affairs, perhaps?"
"Family! I have, happily, only myself in the world to care
"But what makes you sigh?"
"My dear fellow," replied Porthos, "to be candid with you, I
am not happy."
"You are not happy, Porthos? You who have chateau, meadows,
mountains, woods -- you who have forty thousand francs a
year -- you -- are -- not -- happy?"
"My dear friend, all those things I have, but I am a hermit
in the midst of superfluity."
"Surrounded, I suppose, only by clodhoppers, with whom you
could not associate."
Porthos turned rather pale and drank off a large glass of
"No; but just think, there are paltry country squires who
have all some title or another and pretend to go back as far
as Charlemagne, or at least to Hugh Capet. When I first came
here; being the last comer, it was for me to make the first
advances. I made them, but you know, my dear friend, Madame
du Vallon ---- "
Porthos, in pronouncing these words, seemed to gulp down
"Madame du Vallon was of doubtful gentility. She had, in her
first marriage -- I don't think, D'Artagnan, I am telling
you anything new -- married a lawyer; they thought that
`nauseous;' you can understand that's a word bad enough to
make one kill thirty thousand men. I have killed two, which
has made people hold their tongues, but has not made me
their friend. So that I have no society; I live alone; I am
sick of it -- my mind preys on itself."
D'Artagnan smiled. He now saw where the breastplate was
weak, and prepared the blow.
"But now," he said, "that you are a widower, your wife's
connection cannot injure you."
"Yes, but understand me; not being of a race of historic
fame, like the De Courcys, who were content to be plain
sirs, or the Rohans, who didn't wish to be dukes, all these
people, who are all either vicomtes or comtes go before me
at church in all the ceremonies, and I can say nothing to
them. Ah! If I only were a ---- "
"A baron, don't you mean?" cried D'Artagnan, finishing his
"Ah!" cried Porthos; "would I were but a baron!"
"Well, my friend, I am come to give you this very title
which you wish for so much."
Porthos gave a start that shook the room; two or three
bottles fell and were broken. Mousqueton ran thither, hearing
Porthos waved his hand to Mousqueton to pick up the bottles.
"I am glad to see," said D'Artagnan, "that you have still
that honest lad with you."
"He is my steward," replied Porthos; "he will never leave
me. Go away now, Mouston."
"So he's called Mouston," thought D'Artagnan; "'tis too long
a word to pronounce `Mousqueton.'"
"Well," he said aloud, "let us resume our conversation
later, your people may suspect something; there may be spies
about. You can suppose, Porthos, that what I have to say
relates to most important matters."
"Devil take them; let us walk in the park," answered
Porthos, "for the sake of digestion."
"Egad," said D'Artagnan, "the park is like everything else
and there are as many fish in your pond as rabbits in your
warren; you are a happy man, my friend since you have not
only retained your love of the chase, but acquired that of
"My friend," replied Porthos, "I leave fishing to Mousqueton,
-- it is a vulgar pleasure, -- but I shoot sometimes; that
is to say, when I am dull, and I sit on one of those marble
seats, have my gun brought to me, my favorite dog, and I
"Really, how very amusing!"
"Yes," replied Porthos, with a sigh, "it is amusing."
D'Artagnan now no longer counted the sighs. They were
"However, what had you to say to me?" he resumed; "let us
return to that subject."
"With pleasure," replied D'Artagnan; "I must, however, first
frankly tell you that you must change your mode of life."
"Go into harness again, gird on your sword, run after
adventures, and leave as in old times a little of your fat
on the roadside."
"Ah! hang it!" said Porthos.
"I see you are spoiled, dear friend; you are corpulent, your
arm has no longer that movement of which the late cardinal's
guards have so many proofs."
"Ah! my fist is strong enough I swear," cried Porthos,
extending a hand like a shoulder of mutton.
"So much the better."
"Are we then to go to war?"
"By my troth, yes."
"Are you a politician, friend?"
"Not in the least."
"Are you for Mazarin or for the princes?"
"I am for no one."
"That is to say, you are for us. Well, I tell you that I
come to you from the cardinal."
This speech was heard by Porthos in the same sense as if it
had still been in the year 1640 and related to the true
"Ho! ho! What are the wishes of his eminence?"
"He wishes to have you in his service."
"And who spoke to him of me?"
"Rochefort -- you remember him?"
"Yes, pardieu! It was he who gave us so much trouble and
kept us on the road so much; you gave him three sword-wounds
in three separate engagements."
"But you know he is now our friend?"
"No, I didn't know that. So he cherishes no resentment?"
"You are mistaken, Porthos," said D'Artagnan. "It is I who
cherish no resentment."
Porthos didn't understand any too clearly; but then we know
that understanding was not his strong point. "You say,
then," he continued, "that the Count de Rochefort spoke of
me to the cardinal?"
"Yes, and the queen, too."
"The queen, do you say?"
"To inspire us with confidence she has even placed in
Mazarin's hands that famous diamond -- you remember all
about it -- that I once sold to Monsieur des Essarts and of
which, I don't know how, she has regained possession."
"But it seems to me," said Porthos, "that she would have
done much better if she had given it back to you."
"So I think," replied D'Artagnan; "but kings and queens are
strange beings and have odd fancies; nevertheless, since
they are the ones who have riches and honors, we are devoted
"Yes, we are devoted to them," repeated Porthos; "and you --
to whom are you devoted now?"
"To the king, the queen, and to the cardinal; moreover, I
have answered for your devotion also."
"And you say that you have made certain conditions on my
"Magnificent, my dear fellow, magnificent! In the first
place you have plenty of money, haven't you? forty thousand
francs income, I think you said."
Porthos began to be suspicious. "Eh! my friend," said he,
"one never has too much money. Madame du Vallon left things
in much disorder; I am not much of a hand at figures, so
that I live almost from hand to mouth."
"He is afraid I have come to borrow money," thought
D'Artagnan. "Ah, my friend," said he, "it is all the better
if you are in difficulties."
"How is it all the better?"
"Yes, for his eminence will give you all that you want --
land, money, and titles."
"Ah! ah! ah!" said Porthos, opening his eyes at that last
"Under the other cardinal," continued D'Artagnan, "we didn't
know enough to make our profits; this, however, doesn't
concern you, with your forty thousand francs income, the
happiest man in the world, it seems to me."
"At the same time," continued D'Artagnan, "notwithstanding
your forty thousand francs a year, and perhaps even for the
very reason that you have forty thousand francs a year, it
seems to me that a little coronet would do well on your
"Yes indeed," said Porthos.
"Well, my dear friend, win it -- it is at the point of your
sword. We shall not interfere with each other -- your object
is a title; mine, money. If I can get enough to rebuild
Artagnan, which my ancestors, impoverished by the Crusades,
allowed to fall into ruins, and to buy thirty acres of land
about it, that is all I wish. I shall retire and die
tranquilly -- at home."
"For my part," said Porthos, "I desire to be made a baron."
"You shall be one."
"And have you not seen any of our other friends?"
"Yes, I have seen Aramis."
"And what does he wish? To be a bishop?"
"Aramis," answered D'Artagnan, who did not wish to undeceive
Porthos, "Aramis, fancy, has become a monk and a Jesuit, and
lives like a bear. My offers did not arouse him, -- did not
even tempt him."
"So much the worse! He was a clever man. And Athos?"
"I have not yet seen him. Do you know where I shall find
"Near Blois. He is called Bragelonne. Only imagine, my dear
friend. Athos, who was of as high birth as the emperor and
who inherits one estate which gives him the title of comte,
what is he to do with all those dignities -- the Comte de la
Fere, Comte de Bragelonne?"
"And he has no children with all these titles?"
"Ah!" said Porthos, "I have heard that he had adopted a
young man who resembles him greatly."
"What, Athos? Our Athos, who was as virtuous as Scipio? Have
you seen him?
"Well, I shall see him to-morrow and tell him about you; but
I'm afraid, entre nous, that his liking for wine has aged
and degraded him."
"Yes, he used to drink a great deal," replied Porthos.
"And then he was older than any of us," added D'Artagnan.
"Some years only. His gravity made him look older than he
"Well then, if we can get Athos, all will be well. If we
cannot, we will do without him. We two are worth a dozen."
"Yes," said Porthos, smiling at the remembrance of his
former exploits; "but we four, altogether, would be equal to
thirty-six, more especially as you say the work will not be
child's play. Will it last long?"
"By'r Lady! two or three years perhaps."
"So much the better," cried Porthos. "You have no idea, my
friend, how my bones ache since I came here. Sometimes on a
Sunday, I take a ride in the fields and on the property of
my neighbours, in order to pick up a nice little quarrel,
which I am really in want of, but nothing happens. Either
they respect or they fear me, which is more likely, but they
let me trample down the clover with my dogs, insult and
obstruct every one, and I come back still more weary and
low-spirited, that's all. At any rate, tell me: there's more
chance of fighting in Paris, is there not?"
"In that respect, my dear friend, it's delightful. No more
edicts, no more of the cardinal's guards, no more De
Jussacs, nor other bloodhounds. I'Gad! underneath a lamp in
an inn, anywhere, they ask `Are you one of the Fronde?' They
unsheathe, and that's all that is said. The Duke de Guise
killed Monsieur de Coligny in the Place Royale and nothing
was said of it."
"Ah, things go on gaily, then," said Porthos.
"Besides which, in a short time," resumed D'Artagnan, "We
shall have set battles, cannonades, conflagrations and there
will be great variety."
"Well, then, I decide."
"I have your word, then?"
"Yes, 'tis given. I shall fight heart and soul for Mazarin;
but ---- "
"But he must make me a baron."
"Zounds!" said D'Artagnan, "that's settled already; I will
be responsible for the barony."
On this promise being given, Porthos, who had never doubted
his friend's assurance, turned back with him toward the
In which it is shown that if Porthos was discontented with
his Condition, Mousqueton was completely satisfied with his.
As they returned toward the castle, D'Artagnan thought of
the miseries of poor human nature, always dissatisfied with
what it has, ever desirous of what it has not.
In the position of Porthos, D'Artagnan would have been
perfectly happy; and to make Porthos contented there was
wanting -- what? five letters to put before his three names,
a tiny coronet to paint upon the panels of his carriage!
"I shall pass all my life," thought D'Artagnan, "in seeking
for a man who is really contented with his lot."
Whilst making this reflection, chance seemed, as it were, to
give him the lie direct. When Porthos had left him to give
some orders he saw Mousqueton approaching. The face of the
steward, despite one slight shade of care, light as a summer
cloud, seemed a physiognomy of absolute felicity.
"Here is what I am looking for," thought D'Artagnan; "but
alas! the poor fellow does not know the purpose for which I
He then made a sign for Mousqueton to come to him.
"Sir," said the servant, "I have a favour to ask you."
"Speak out, my friend."
"I am afraid to do so. Perhaps you will think, sir, that
prosperity has spoiled me?"
"Art thou happy, friend?" asked D'Artagnan.
"As happy as possible; and yet, sir, you may make me even
happier than I am."
"Well, speak, if it depends on me."
"Oh, sir! it depends on you only."
"I listen -- I am waiting to hear."
"Sir, the favor I have to ask of you is, not to call me
`Mousqueton' but `Mouston.' Since I have had the honor of
being my lord's steward I have taken the last name as more
dignified and calculated to make my inferiors respect me.
You, sir, know how necessary subordination is in any large
establishment of servants."
D'Artagnan smiled; Porthos wanted to lengthen out his names,
Mousqueton to cut his short.
"Well, my dear Mouston," he said, "rest satisfied. I will
call thee Mouston; and if it makes thee happy I will not
`tutoyer' you any longer."
"Oh!" cried Mousqueton, reddening with joy; "if you do me,
sir, such honor, I shall be grateful all my life; it is too
much to ask."
"Alas!" thought D'Artagnan, "it is very little to offset the
unexpected tribulations I am bringing to this poor devil who
has so warmly welcomed me."
"Will monsieur remain long with us?" asked Mousqueton, with a
serene and glowing countenance.
"I go to-morrow, my friend," replied D'Artagnan.
"Ah, monsieur," said Mousqueton, "then you have come here
only to awaken our regrets."
"I fear that is true," said D'Artagnan, in a low tone.
D'Artagnan was secretly touched with remorse, not at
inducing Porthos to enter into schemes in which his life and
fortune would be in jeopardy, for Porthos, in the title of
baron, had his object and reward; but poor Mousqueton, whose
only wish was to be called Mouston -- was it not cruel to
snatch him from the delightful state of peace and plenty in
which he was?
He was thinking of these matters when Porthos summoned him
"What! to dinner?" said D'Artagnan. "What time is it, then?"
"Eh! why, it is after one o'clock."
"Your home is a paradise, Porthos; one takes no note of
time. I follow you, though I am not hungry."
"Come, if one can't always eat, one can always drink -- a
maxim of poor Athos, the truth of which I have discovered
since I began to be lonely."
D'Artagnan, who as a Gascon, was inclined to sobriety,
seemed not so sure as his friend of the truth of Athos's
maxim, but he did his best to keep up with his host.
Meanwhile his misgivings in regard to Mousqueton recurred to
his mind and with greater force because Mousqueton, though he
did not himself wait on the table, which would have been
beneath him in his new position, appeared at the door from
time to time and evinced his gratitude to D'Artagnan by the
quality of the wine he directed to be served. Therefore,
when, at dessert, upon a sign from D'Artagnan, Porthos had
sent away his servants and the two friends were alone:
"Porthos," said D'Artagnan, "who will attend you in your
"Why," replied Porthos, "Mouston, of course."
This was a blow to D'Artagnan. He could already see the
intendant's beaming smile change to a contortion of grief.
"But," he said, "Mouston is not so young as he was, my dear
fellow; besides, he has grown fat and perhaps has lost his
fitness for active service."
"That may be true," replied Porthos; "but I am used to him,
and besides, he wouldn't be willing to let me go without
him, he loves me so much."
"Oh, blind self-love!" thought D'Artagnan.
"And you," asked Porthos, "haven't you still in your service
your old lackey, that good, that brave, that intelligent
---what, then, is his name?"
"Planchet -- yes, I have found him again, but he is lackey
"What is he, then?"
"With his sixteen hundred francs -- you remember, the
sixteen hundred francs he earned at the siege of La Rochelle
by carrying a letter to Lord de Winter -- he has set up a
little shop in the Rue des Lombards and is now a
"Ah, he is a confectioner in the Rue des Lombards! How does
it happen, then, that he is in your service?"
"He has been guilty of certain escapades and fears he may be
disturbed." And the musketeer narrated to his friend
"Well," said Porthos, "if any one had told you in the old
times that the day would come when Planchet would rescue
Rochefort and that you would protect him in it ---- "
"I should not have believed him; but men are changed by
"There is nothing truer than that," said Porthos; "but what
does not change, or changes for the better, is wine. Taste
of this; it is a Spanish wine which our friend Athos thought
At that moment the steward came in to consult his master
upon the proceedings of the next day and also with regard to
the shooting party which had been proposed.
"Tell me, Mouston," said Porthos, "are my arms in good
"Your arms, my lord -- what arms?"
"Zounds! my weapons."
"My military weapons."
"Yes, my lord; at any rate, I think so."
"Make sure of it, and if they want it, have them burnished
up. Which is my best cavalry horse?"
"And the best hack?"
"What horse dost thou choose for thyself?"
"I like Rustaud, my lord; a good animal, whose paces suit
"Strong, thinkest thou?"
"Half Norman, half Mecklenburger; will go night and day."
"That will do for us. See to these horses. Polish up or make
some one else polish my arms. Then take pistols with thee
and a hunting-knife."
"Are we then going to travel, my lord?" asked Mousqueton,
"Something better still, Mouston."
"An expedition, sir?" asked the steward, whose roses began
to change into lilies.
"We are going to return to the service, Mouston," replied
Porthos, still trying to restore his mustache to the
military curl it had long lost.
"Into the service -- the king's service?" Mousqueton
trembled; even his fat, smooth cheeks shook as he spoke, and
he looked at D'Artagnan with an air of reproach; he
staggered, and his voice was almost choked.
"Yes and no. We shall serve in a campaign, seek out all
sorts of adventures -- return, in short, to our former
These last words fell on Mousqueton like a thunderbolt. It
was those very terrible old days that made the present so
excessively delightful, and the blow was so great he rushed
out, overcome, and forgot to shut the door.
The two friends remained alone to speak of the future and to
build castles in the air. The good wine which Mousqueton had
placed before them traced out in glowing drops to D'Artagnan
a fine perspective, shining with quadruples and pistoles,
and showed to Porthos a blue ribbon and a ducal mantle; they
were, in fact, asleep on the table when the servants came to
light them to their bed.
Mousqueton was, however, somewhat consoled by D'Artagnan, who
the next day told him that in all probability war would
always be carried on in the heart of Paris and within reach
of the Chateau du Vallon, which was near Corbeil, or
Bracieux, which was near Melun, and of Pierrefonds, which
was between Compiegne and Villars-Cotterets.
"But -- formerly -- it appears," began Mousqueton timidly.
"Oh!" said D'Artagnan, "we don't now make war as we did
formerly. To-day it's a sort of diplomatic arrangement; ask
Mousqueton inquired, therefore, the state of the case of his
old friend, who confirmed the statement of D'Artagnan.
"But," he added, "in this war prisoners stand a chance of
"The deuce they do!" said Mousqueton; "I think I should like
the siege of Rochelle better than this war, then!"
Porthos, meantime, asked D'Artagnan to give him his
instructions how to proceed on his journey.
"Four days," replied his friend, "are necessary to reach
Blois; one day to rest there; three or four days to return
to Paris. Set out, therefore, in a week, with your suite,
and go to the Hotel de la Chevrette, Rue Tiquetonne, and
there await me."
"That's agreed," said Porthos.
"As to myself, I shall go around to see Athos; for though I
don't think his aid worth much, one must with one's friends
observe all due politeness," said D'Artagnan.
The friends then took leave of each other on the very border
of the estate of Pierrefonds, to which Porthos escorted his
"At least," D'Artagnan said to himself, as he took the road
to Villars-Cotterets, "at least I shall not be alone in my
undertaking. That devil, Porthos, is a man of prodigious
strength; still, if Athos joins us, well, we shall be three
of us to laugh at Aramis, that little coxcomb with his too
At Villars-Cotterets he wrote to the cardinal:
"My Lord, -- I have already one man to offer to your
eminence, and he is well worth twenty men. I am just setting
out for Blois. The Comte de la Fere inhabits the Castle of
Bragelonne, in the environs of that city."
Two Angelic Faces.
The road was long, but the horses upon which D'Artagnan and
Planchet rode had been refreshed in the well supplied
stables of the Lord of Bracieux; the master and servant rode
side by side, conversing as they went, for D'Artagnan had by
degrees thrown off the master and Planchet had entirely
ceased to assume the manners of a servant. He had been
raised by circumstances to the rank of a confidant to his
master. It was many years since D'Artagnan had opened his
heart to any one; it happened, however, that these two men,
on meeting again, assimilated perfectly. Planchet was in
truth no vulgar companion in these new adventures; he was a
man of uncommonly sound sense. Without courting danger he
never shrank from an encounter; in short, he had been a
soldier and arms ennoble a man; it was, therefore, on the
footing of friends that D'Artagnan and Planchet arrived in
the neighborhood of Blois.
Going along, D'Artagnan, shaking his head, said:
"I know that my going to Athos is useless and absurd; but
still I owe this courtesy to my old friend, a man who had in
him material for the most noble and generous of characters."
"Oh, Monsieur Athos was a noble gentleman," said Planchet,
"was he not? Scattering money round about him as Heaven
sprinkles rain. Do you remember, sir, that duel with the
Englishman in the inclosure des Carmes? Ah! how lofty, how
magnificent Monsieur Athos was that day, when he said to his
adversary: `You have insisted on knowing my name, sir; so
much the worse for you, since I shall be obliged to kill
you.' I was near him, those were his exact words, when he
stabbed his foe as he said he would, and his adversary fell
without saying, `Oh!' 'Tis a noble gentleman -- Monsieur
"Yes, true as Gospel," said D'Artagnan; "but one single
fault has swallowed up all these fine qualities."
"I remember well," said Planchet, "he was fond of drinking
-- in truth, he drank, but not as other men drink. One
seemed, as he raised the wine to his lips, to hear him say,
`Come, juice of the grape, and chase away my sorrows.' And
how he used to break the stem of a glass or the neck of a
bottle! There was no one like him for that."
"And now," replied D'Artagnan, "behold the sad spectacle
that awaits us. This noble gentleman with his lofty glance,
this handsome cavalier, so brilliant in feats of arms that
every one was surprised that he held in his hand a sword
only instead of a baton of command! Alas! we shall find him
changed into a broken down old man, with garnet nose and
eyes that slobber; we shall find him extended on some lawn,
whence he will look at us with a languid eye and
peradventure will not recognize us. God knows, Planchet,
that I should fly from a sight so sad if I did not wish to
show my respect for the illustrious shadow of what was once
the Comte de la Fere, whom we loved so much."
Planchet shook his head and said nothing. It was evident
that he shared his master's apprehensions.
"And then," resumed D'Artagnan, "to this decrepitude is
probably added poverty, for he must have neglected the
little that he had, and the dirty scoundrel, Grimaud, more
taciturn than ever and still more drunken than his master --
stay, Planchet, it breaks my heart to merely think of it."
"I fancy myself there and that I see him staggering and hear
him stammering," said Planchet, in a piteous tone, "but at
all events we shall soon know the real state of things, for
I imagine that those lofty walls, now turning ruby in the
setting sun, are the walls of Blois."
"Probably; and those steeples, pointed and sculptured, that
we catch a glimpse of yonder, are similar to those that I
have heard described at Chambord."
At this moment one of those heavy wagons, drawn by bullocks,
which carry the wood cut in the fine forests of the country
to the ports of the Loire, came out of a byroad full of ruts
and turned on that which the two horsemen were following. A
man carrying a long switch with a nail at the end of it,
with which he urged on his slow team, was walking with the
"Ho! friend," cried Planchet.
"What's your pleasure, gentlemen?" replied the peasant, with
a purity of accent peculiar to the people of that district
and which might have put to shame the cultured denizens of
the Sorbonne and the Rue de l'Universite.
"We are looking for the house of Monsieur de la Fere," said
The peasant took off his hat on hearing this revered name.
"Gentlemen," he said, "the wood that I am carting is his; I
cut it in his copse and I am taking it to the chateau."
D'Artagnan determined not to question this man; he did not
wish to hear from another what he had himself said to
"The chateau!" he said to himself, "what chateau? Ah, I
understand! Athos is not a man to be thwarted; he, like
Porthos, has obliged his peasantry to call him `my lord,'
and to dignify his pettifogging place by the name of
chateau. He had a heavy hand -- dear old Athos -- after