Part 5 out of 20
"What shall we do? and when? and how proceed?"
"It is now eleven," answered Grimaud. "Let my lord at two
o'clock ask leave to make up a game at tennis with La Ramee
and let him send two or three balls over the ramparts."
"Your highness will approach the walls and call out to a man
who works in the moat to send them back again."
"I understand," said the duke.
Grimaud made a sign that he was going away.
"Ah!" cried the duke, "will you not accept any money from
"I wish my lord would make me one promise."
"'Tis this: when we escape together, that I shall go
everywhere and be always first; for if my lord should be
overtaken and caught, there's every chance of his being
brought back to prison, whereas if I am caught the least
that can befall me is to be -- hung."
"True, on my honor as a gentleman it shall be as thou dost
"Now," resumed Grimaud, "I've only one thing more to ask --
that your highness will continue to detest me."
"I'll try," said the duke.
At this moment La Ramee, after the interview we have
described with the cardinal, entered the room. The duke had
thrown himself, as he was wont to do in moments of dullness
and vexation, on his bed. La Ramee cast an inquiring look
around him and observing the same signs of antipathy between
the prisoner and his guardian he smiled in token of his
inward satisfaction. Then turning to Grimaud:
"Very good, my friend, very good. You have been spoken of in
a promising quarter and you will soon, I hope, have news
that will be agreeable to you."
Grimaud saluted in his politest manner and withdrew, as was
his custom on the entrance of his superior.
"Well, my lord," said La Ramee, with his rude laugh, "you
still set yourself against this poor fellow?"
"So! 'tis you, La Ramee; in faith, 'tis time you came back
again. I threw myself on the bed and turned my nose to the
wall, that I mightn't break my promise and strangle
"I doubt, however," said La Ramee, in sprightly allusion to
the silence of his subordinate, "if he has said anything
disagreeable to your highness."
"Pardieu! you are right -- a mute from the East! I swear it
was time for you to come back, La Ramee, and I was eager to
see you again."
"Monseigneur is too good," said La Ramee, flattered by the
"Yes," continued the duke, "really, I feel bored today
beyond the power of description."
"Then let us have a match in the tennis court," exclaimed La
"If you wish it."
"I am at your service, my lord."
"I protest, my dear La Ramee," said the duke, "that you are
a charming fellow and that I would stay forever at Vincennes
to have the pleasure of your society."
"My lord," replied La Ramee, "I think if it depended on the
cardinal your wishes would be fulfilled."
"What do you mean? Have you seen him lately?"
"He sent for me to-day."
"Really! to speak to you about me?"
"Of what else do you imagine he would speak to me? Really,
my lord, you are his nightmare."
The duke smiled with bitterness.
"Ah, La Ramee! if you would but accept my offers! I would
make your fortune."
"How? you would no sooner have left prison than your goods
would be confiscated."
"I shall no sooner be out of prison than I shall be master
"Pshaw! pshaw! I cannot hear such things said as that; this
is a fine conversation with an officer of the king! I see,
my lord, I shall be obliged to fetch a second Grimaud!"
"Very well, let us say no more about it. So you and the
cardinal have been talking about me? La Ramee, some day when
he sends for you, you must let me put on your clothes; I
will go in your stead; I will strangle him, and upon my
honor, if that is made a condition I will return to prison."
"Monseigneur, I see well that I must call Grimaud."
"Well, I am wrong. And what did the cuistre [pettifogger]
say about me?"
"I admit the word, monseigneur, because it rhymes with
ministre [minister]. What did he say to me? He told me to
"And why so? why watch me?" asked the duke uneasily.
"Because an astrologer had predicted that you would escape."
"Ah! an astrologer predicted that?" said the duke, starting
in spite of himself.
"Oh, mon Dieu! yes! those imbeciles of magicians can only
imagine things to torment honest people."
"And what did you reply to his most illustrious eminence?"
"That if the astrologer in question made almanacs I would
advise him not to buy one."
"Because before you could escape you would have to be turned
into a bird."
"Unfortunately, that is true. Let us go and have a game at
tennis, La Ramee."
"My lord -- I beg your highness's pardon -- but I must beg
for half an hour's leave of absence."
"Because Monseigneur Mazarin is a prouder man than his
highness, though not of such high birth: he forgot to ask me
"Well, shall I send for some breakfast here?"
"No, my lord; I must tell you that the confectioner who
lived opposite the castle -- Daddy Marteau, as they called
him ---- "
"Well, he sold his business a week ago to a confectioner
from Paris, an invalid, ordered country air for his health."
"Well, what have I to do with that?"
"Why, good Lord! this man, your highness, when he saw me
stop before his shop, where he has a display of things which
would make your mouth water, my lord, asked me to get him
the custom of the prisoners in the donjon. `I bought,' said
he, `the business of my predecessor on the strength of his
assurance that he supplied the castle; whereas, on my honor,
Monsieur de Chavigny, though I've been here a week, has not
ordered so much as a tartlet.' `But,' I then replied,
`probably Monsieur de Chavigny is afraid your pastry is not
good.' `My pastry not good! Well, Monsieur La Ramee, you
shall judge of it yourself and at once.' `I cannot,' I
replied; `it is absolutely necessary for me to return to the
chateau.' `Very well,' said he, `go and attend to your
affairs, since you seem to be in a hurry, but come back in
half an hour.' `In half an hour?' `Yes, have you
breakfasted?' `Faith, no.' `Well, here is a pate that will
be ready for you, with a bottle of old Burgundy.' So, you
see, my lord, since I am hungry, I would, with your
highness's leave ---- " And La Ramee bent low.
"Go, then, animal," said the duke; "but remember, I only
allow you half an hour."
"May I promise your custom to the successor of Father
Marteau, my lord?"
"Yes, if he does not put mushrooms in his pies; thou knowest
that mushrooms from the wood of Vincennes are fatal to my
La Ramee went out, but in five minutes one of the officers
of the guard entered in compliance with the strict orders of
the cardinal that the prisoner should never be left alone a
But during these five minutes the duke had had time to read
again the note from Madame de Montbazon, which proved to the
prisoner that his friends were concerting plans for his
deliverance, but in what way he knew not.
But his confidence in Grimaud, whose petty persecutions he
now perceived were only a blind, increased, and he conceived
the highest opinion of his intellect and resolved to trust
entirely to his guidance.
In which the Contents of the Pates made by the Successor of
Father Marteau are described.
In half an hour La Ramee returned, full of glee, like most
men who have eaten, and more especially drank to their
heart's content. The pates were excellent, the wine
The weather was fine and the game at tennis took place in
the open air.
At two o'clock the tennis balls began, according to
Grimaud's directions, to take the direction of the moat,
much to the joy of La Ramee, who marked fifteen whenever the
duke sent a ball into the moat; and very soon balls were
wanting, so many had gone over. La Ramee then proposed to
send some one to pick them up, but the duke remarked that it
would be losing time; and going near the rampart himself and
looking over, he saw a man working in one of the numerous
little gardens cleared out by the peasants on the opposite
side of the moat.
"Hey, friend!" cried the duke.
The man raised his head and the duke was about to utter a
cry of surprise. The peasant, the gardener, was Rochefort,
whom he believed to be in the Bastile.
"Well? Who's up there?" said the man.
"Be so good as to collect and throw us back our balls," said
The gardener nodded and began to fling up the balls, which
were picked up by La Ramee and the guard. One, however, fell
at the duke's feet, and seeing that it was intended for him,
he put it into his pocket.
La Ramee was in ecstasies at having beaten a prince of the
The duke went indoors and retired to bed, where he spent,
indeed, the greater part of every day, as they had taken his
books away. La Ramee carried off all his clothes, in order
to be certain that the duke would not stir. However, the
duke contrived to hide the ball under his bolster and as
soon as the door was closed he tore off the cover of the
ball with his teeth and found underneath the following
My Lord, -- Your friends are watching over you and the hour
of your deliverance is at hand. Ask day after to-morrow to
have a pie supplied you by the new confectioner opposite the
castle, and who is no other than Noirmont, your former
maitre d'hotel. Do not open the pie till you are alone. I
hope you will be satisfied with its contents.
"Your highness's most devoted servant,
"In the Bastile, as elsewhere,
"Comte de Rochefort.
The duke, who had latterly been allowed a fire, burned the
letter, but kept the ball, and went to bed, hiding the ball
under his bolster. La Ramee entered; he smiled kindly on the
prisoner, for he was an excellent man and had taken a great
liking for the captive prince. He endeavored to cheer him up
in his solitude.
"Ah, my friend!" cried the duke, "you are so good; if I
could but do as you do, and eat pates and drink Burgundy at
the house of Father Marteau's successor."
"'Tis true, my lord," answered La Ramee, "that his pates are
famous and his wine magnificent."
"In any case," said the duke, "his cellar and kitchen might
easily excel those of Monsieur de Chavigny."
"Well, my lord," said La Ramee, falling into the trap, "what
is there to prevent your trying them? Besides, I have
promised him your patronage."
"You are right," said the duke. "If I am to remain here
permanently, as Monsieur Mazarin has kindly given me to
understand, I must provide myself with a diversion for my
old age, I must turn gourmand."
"My lord," said La Ramee, "if you will take a bit of good
advice, don't put that off till you are old."
"Good!" said the Duc de Beaufort to himself, "every man in
order that he may lose his heart and soul, must receive from
celestial bounty one of the seven capital sins, perhaps two;
it seems that Master La Ramee's is gluttony. Let us then
take advantage of it." Then, aloud:
"Well, my dear La Ramee! the day after to-morrow is a
"Yes, my lord -- Pentecost."
"Will you give me a lesson the day after to-morrow?"
"Willingly, my lord."
"But tete-a-tete. Send the guards to take their meal in the
canteen of Monsieur de Chavigny; we'll have a supper here
under your direction."
"Hum!" said La Ramee.
The proposal was seductive, but La Ramee was an old stager,
acquainted with all the traps a prisoner was likely to set.
Monsieur de Beaufort had said that he had forty ways of
getting out of prison. Did this proposed breakfast cover
some stratagem? He reflected, but he remembered that he
himself would have charge of the food and the wine and
therefore that no powder could be mixed with the food, no
drug with the wine. As to getting him drunk, the duke
couldn't hope to do that, and he laughed at the mere thought
of it. Then an idea came to him which harmonized everything.
The duke had followed with anxiety La Ramee's unspoken
soliloquy, reading it from point to point upon his face. But
presently the exempt's face suddenly brightened.
"Well," he asked, "that will do, will it not?"
"Yes, my lord, on one condition."
"That Grimaud shall wait on us at table."
Nothing could be more agreeable to the duke, however, he had
presence of mind enough to exclaim:
"To the devil with your Grimaud! He will spoil the feast."
"I will direct him to stand behind your chair, and since he
doesn't speak, your highness will neither see nor hear him
and with a little effort can imagine him a hundred miles
"Do you know, my friend, I find one thing very evident in
all this, you distrust me."
"My lord, the day after to-morrow is Pentecost."
"Well, what is Pentecost to me? Are you afraid that the Holy
Spirit will come as a tongue of fire to open the doors of my
"No, my lord; but I have already told you what that damned
"And what was it?"
"That the day of Pentecost would not pass without your
highness being out of Vincennes."
"You believe in sorcerers, then, you fool?"
"I ---I mind them no more than that ---- " and he snapped
his fingers; "but it is my Lord Giulio who cares about them;
as an Italian he is superstitious."
The duke shrugged his shoulders.
"Well, then," with well acted good-humor, "I allow Grimaud,
but no one else; you must manage it all. Order whatever you
like for supper -- the only thing I specify is one of those
pies; and tell the confectioner that I will promise him my
custom if he excels this time in his pies -- not only now,
but when I leave my prison."
"Then you think you will some day leave it?" said La Ramee.
"The devil!" replied the prince; "surely, at the death of
Mazarin. I am fifteen years younger than he is. At
Vincennes, 'tis true, one lives faster ---- "
"My lord," replied La Ramee, "my lord ---- "
"Or dies sooner, for it comes to the same thing."
La Ramee was going out. He stopped, however, at the door for
"Whom does your highness wish me to send to you?"
"Any one, except Grimaud."
"The officer of the guard, then, with his chessboard?"
Five minutes afterward the officer entered and the duke
seemed to be immersed in the sublime combinations of chess.
A strange thing is the mind, and it is wonderful what
revolutions may be wrought in it by a sign, a word, a hope.
The duke had been five years in prison, and now to him,
looking back upon them, those five years, which had passed
so slowly, seemed not so long a time as were the two days,
the forty-eight hours, which still parted him from the time
fixed for his escape. Besides, there was one thing that
engaged his most anxious thought -- in what way was the
escape to be effected? They had told him to hope for it, but
had not told him what was to be hidden in the mysterious
pate. And what friends awaited him without? He had friends,
then, after five years in prison? If that were so he was
indeed a highly favored prince. He forgot that besides his
friends of his own sex, a woman, strange to say, had
remembered him. It is true that she had not, perhaps, been
scupulously faithful to him, but she had remembered him;
that was something.
So the duke had more than enough to think about; accordingly
he fared at chess as he had fared at tennis; he made blunder
upon blunder and the officer with whom he played found him
But his successive defeats did service to the duke in one
way -- they killed time for him till eight o'clock in the
evening; then would come night, and with night, sleep. So,
at least, the duke believed; but sleep is a capricious
fairy, and it is precisely when one invokes her presence
that she is most likely to keep him waiting. The duke waited
until midnight, turning on his mattress like St. Laurence on
his gridiron. Finally he slept.
But at daybreak he awoke. Wild dreams had disturbed his
repose. He dreamed that he was endowed with wings -- he
wished to fly away. For a time these wings supported him,
but when he reached a certain height this new aid failed
him. His wings were broken and he seemed to sink into a
bottomless abyss, whence he awoke, bathed in perspiration
and nearly as much overcome as if he had really fallen. He
fell asleep again and another vision appeared. He was in a
subterranean passage by which he was to leave Vincennes.
Grimaud was walking before him with a lantern. By degrees
the passage narrowed, yet the duke continued his course. At
last it became so narrow that the fugitive tried in vain to
proceed. The sides of the walls seem to close in, even to
press against him. He made fruitless efforts to go on; it
was impossible. Nevertheless, he still saw Grimaud with his
lantern in front, advancing. He wished to call out to him
but could not utter a word. Then at the other extremity he
heard the footsteps of those who were pursuing him. These
steps came on, came fast. He was discovered; all hope of
flight was gone. Still the walls seemed to be closing on
him; they appeared to be in concert with his enemies. At
last he heard the voice of La Ramee. La Ramee took his hand
and laughed aloud. He was captured again, and conducted to
the low and vaulted chamber, in which Ornano, Puylaurens,
and his uncle had died. Their three graves were there,
rising above the ground, and a fourth was also there,
yawning for its ghastly tenant.
The duke was obliged to make as many efforts to awake as he
had done to go to sleep; and La Ramee found him so pale and
fatigued that he inquired whether he was ill.
"In fact," said one of the guards who had remained in the
chamber and had been kept awake by a toothache, brought on
by the dampness of the atmosphere, "my lord has had a very
restless night and two or three times, while dreaming, he
called for help."
"What is the matter with your highness?" asked La Ramee.
"'Tis your fault, you simpleton," answered the duke. "With
your idle nonsense yesterday about escaping, you worried me
so that I dreamed that I was trying to escape and broke my
neck in doing so."
La Ramee laughed.
"Come," he said, "'tis a warning from Heaven. Never commit
such an imprudence as to try to escape, except in your
"And you are right, my dear La Ramee," said the duke, wiping
away the sweat that stood on his brow, wide awake though he
was; "after this I will think of nothing but eating and
"Hush!" said La Ramee; and one by one he sent away the
guards, on various pretexts.
"Well?" asked the duke when they were alone.
"Well!" replied La Ramee, "your supper is ordered."
"Ah! and what is it to be? Monsieur, my majordomo, will
there be a pie?"
"I should think so, indeed -- almost as high as a tower."
"You told him it was for me?"
"Yes, and he said he would do his best to please your
"Good!" exclaimed the duke, rubbing his hands.
"Devil take it, my lord! what a gourmand you are growing; I
haven't seen you with so cheerful a face these five years."
The duke saw that he had not controlled himself as he ought,
but at that moment, as if he had listened at the door and
comprehended the urgent need of diverting La Ramee's ideas,
Grimaud entered and made a sign to La Ramee that he had
something to say to him.
La Ramee drew near to Grimaud, who spoke to him in a low
The duke meanwhile recovered his self-control.
"I have already forbidden that man," he said, "to come in
here without my permission."
"You must pardon him, my lord," said La Ramee, "for I
directed him to come."
"And why did you so direct when you know that he displeases
"My lord will remember that it was agreed between us that he
should wait upon us at that famous supper. My lord has
forgotten the supper."
"No, but I have forgotten Monsieur Grimaud."
"My lord understands that there can be no supper unless he
is allowed to be present."
"Go on, then; have it your own way."
"Come here, my lad," said La Ramee, "and hear what I have to
Grimaud approached, with a very sullen expression on his
La Ramee continued: "My lord has done me the honor to invite
me to a supper to-morrow en tete-a-tete."
Grimaud made a sign which meant that he didn't see what that
had to do with him.
"Yes, yes," said La Ramee, "the matter concerns you, for you
will have the honor to serve us; and besides, however good
an appetite we may have and however great our thirst, there
will be something left on the plates and in the bottles, and
that something will be yours."
Grimaud bowed in thanks.
"And now," said La Ramee, "I must ask your highness's
pardon, but it seems that Monsieur de Chavigny is to be away
for a few days and he has sent me word that he has certain
directions to give me before his departure."
The duke tried to exchange a glance with Grimaud, but there
was no glance in Grimaud's eyes.
"Go, then," said the duke, "and return as soon as possible."
"Does your highness wish to take revenge for the game of
Grimaud intimated by a scarcely perceptible nod that he
"Yes," said the duke, "but take care, my dear La Ramee, for
I propose to beat you badly."
La Ramee went out. Grimaud looked after him, and when the
door was closed he drew out of his pocket a pencil and a
sheet of paper.
"Write, my lord," he said.
"All is ready for to-morrow evening. Keep watch from seven
to nine. Have two riding horses ready. We shall descend by
the first window in the gallery."
"Sign your name, my lord."
The duke signed.
"Now, my lord, give me, if you have not lost it, the ball --
that which contained the letter."
The duke took it from under his pillow and gave it to
Grimaud. Grimaud gave a grim smile.
"Well?" asked the duke.
"Well, my lord, I sew up the paper in the ball and you, in
your game of tennis, will send the ball into the ditch."
"But will it not be lost?"
"Oh no; there will be some one at hand to pick it up."
"The same as yesterday?"
Another nod on the part of Grimaud.
"The Count de Rochefort?"
Grimaud nodded the third time.
"Come, now," said the duke, "give some particulars of the
plan for our escape."
"That is forbidden me," said Grimaud, "until the last
"Who will be waiting for me beyond the ditch?"
"I know nothing about it, my lord."
"But at least, if you don't want to see me turn crazy, tell
what that famous pate will contain."
"Two poniards, a knotted rope and a poire d'angoisse."*
*This poire d'angoisse was a famous gag, in the form of a
pear, which, being thrust into the mouth, by the aid of a
spring, dilated, so as to distend the jaws to their greatest
"Yes, I understand."
"My lord observes that there will be enough to go around."
"We shall take to ourselves the poniards and the rope,"
replied the duke.
"And make La Ramee eat the pear," answered Grimaud.
"My dear Grimaud, thou speakest seldom, but when thou dost,
one must do thee justice -- thy words are words of gold."
One of Marie Michon's Adventures.
Whilst these projects were being formed by the Duc de
Beaufort and Grimaud, the Comte de la Fere and the Vicomte
de Bragelonne were entering Paris by the Rue du Faubourg
They stopped at the sign of the Fox, in the Rue du Vieux
Colombier, a tavern known for many years by Athos, and asked
for two bedrooms.
"You must dress yourself, Raoul," said Athos, "I am going to
present you to some one."
"To-day, monsieur?" asked the young man.
"In half an hour."
The young man bowed. Perhaps, not being endowed with the
endurance of Athos, who seemed to be made of iron, he would
have preferred a bath in the river Seine of which he had
heard so much, and afterward his bed; but the Comte de la
Fere had spoken and he had no thought but to obey.
"By the way," said Athos, "take some pains with your toilet,
Raoul; I want you to be approved."
"I hope, sir," replied the youth, smiling, "that there's no
idea of a marriage for me; you know of my engagement to
Athos, in his turn, smiled also.
"No, don't be alarmed, although it is to a lady that I am
going to present you, and I am anxious that you should love
her ---- "
The young man looked at the count with a certain uneasiness,
but at a smile from Athos he was quickly reassured.
"How old is she?" inquired the Vicomte de Bragelonne.
"My dear Raoul, learn, once for all, that that is a question
which is never asked. When you can find out a woman's age by
her face, it is useless to ask it; when you cannot do so, it
"Is she beautiful?"
"Sixteen years ago she was deemed not only the prettiest,
but the most graceful woman in France."
This reply reassured the vicomte. A woman who had been a
reigning beauty a year before he was born could not be the
subject of any scheme for him. He retired to his toilet.
When he reappeared, Athos received him with the same
paternal smile as that which he had often bestowed on
D'Artagnan, but a more profound tenderness for Raoul was now
visibly impressed upon his face.
Athos cast a glance at his feet, hands and hair -- those
three marks of race. The youth's dark hair was neatly parted
and hung in curls, forming a sort of dark frame around his
face; such was the fashion of the day. Gloves of gray kid,
matching the hat, well displayed the form of a slender and
elegant hand; whilst his boots, similar in color to the hat
and gloves, confined feet small as those of a boy twelve
"Come," murmured Athos, "if she is not proud of him, she
must be hard to please."
It was three o'clock in the afternoon. The two travelers
proceeded to the Rue Saint Dominique and stopped at the door
of a magnificent hotel, surmounted with the arms of De
"'Tis here," said Athos.
He entered the hotel and ascended the front steps, and
addressing a footman who waited there in a grand livery,
asked if the Duchess de Chevreuse was visible and if she
could receive the Comte de la Fere?
The servant returned with a message to say, that, though the
duchess had not the honor of knowing Monsieur de la Fere,
she would receive him.
Athos followed the footman, who led him through a long
succession of apartments and paused at length before a
closed door. Athos made a sign to the Vicomte de Bragelonne
to remain where he was.
The footman opened the door and announced Monsieur le Comte
de la Fere.
Madame de Chevreuse, whose name appears so often in our
story "The Three Musketeers," without her actually having
appeared in any scene, was still a beautiful woman. Although
about forty-four or forty-five years old, she might have
passed for thirty-five. She still had her rich fair hair;
her large, animated, intelligent eyes, so often opened by
intrigue, so often closed by the blindness of love. She had
still her nymph-like form, so that when her back was turned
she still was not unlike the girl who had jumped, with Anne
of Austria, over the moat of the Tuileries in 1563. In all
other respects she was the same mad creature who threw over
her amours such an air of originality as to make them
proverbial for eccentricity in her family.
She was in a little boudoir, hung with blue damask, adorned
by red flowers, with a foliage of gold, looking upon a
garden; and reclined upon a sofa, her head supported on the
rich tapestry which covered it. She held a book in her hand
and her arm was supported by a cushion.
At the footman's announcement she raised herself a little
and peeped out, with some curiosity.
He was dressed in violet-tinted velvet, trimmed with silk of
the same color. His shoulder-knots were of burnished silver,
his mantle had no gold nor embroidery on it; a simple plume
of violet feathers adorned his hat; his boots were of black
leather, and at his girdle hung that sword with a
magnificent hilt that Porthos had so often admired in the
Rue Feron. Splendid lace adorned the falling collar of his
shirt, and lace fell also over the top of his boots.
In his whole person he bore such an impress of high degree,
that Madame de Chevreuse half rose from her seat when she
saw him and made him a sign to sit down near her.
Athos bowed and obeyed. The footman was withdrawing, but
Athos stopped him by a sign.
"Madame," he said to the duchess, "I have had the boldness
to present myself at your hotel without being known to you;
it has succeeded, since you deign to receive me. I have now
the boldness to ask you for an interview of half an hour."
"I grant it, monsieur," replied Madame de Chevreuse with her
most gracious smile.
"But that is not all, madame. Oh, I am very presuming, I am
aware. The interview for which I ask is of us two alone, and
I very earnestly wish that it may not be interrupted."
"I am not at home to any one," said the Duchess de Chevreuse
to the footman. "You may go."
The footman went out
There ensued a brief silence, during which these two
persons, who at first sight recognized each other so clearly
as of noble race, examined each other without embarrassment
on either side.
The duchess was the first to speak.
"Well, sir, I am waiting with impatience to hear what you
wish to say to me."
"And I, madame," replied Athos, "am looking with
"Sir," said Madame de Chevreuse, "you must excuse me, but I
long to know to whom I am talking. You belong to the court,
doubtless, yet I have never seen you at court. Have you, by
any chance, been in the Bastile?"
"No, madame, I have not; but very likely I am on the road to
"Ah! then tell me who you are, and get along with you upon
your journey," replied the duchess, with the gayety which
made her so charming, "for I am sufficiently in bad odor
already, without compromising myself still more."
"Who I am, madame? My name has been mentioned to you -- the
Comte de la Fere; you do not know that name. I once bore
another, which you knew, but you have certainly forgotten
"Tell it me, sir."
"Formerly," said the count, "I was Athos."
Madame de Chevreuse looked astonished. The name was not
wholly forgotten, but mixed up and confused with ancient
"Athos?" said she; "wait a moment."
And she placed her hands on her brow, as if to force the
fugitive ideas it contained to concentration in a moment.
"Shall I help you, madame?" asked Athos.
"Yes, do," said the duchess.
"This Athos was connected with three young musketeers, named
Porthos, D'Artagnan, and ---- "
He stopped short.
"And Aramis," said the duchess, quickly.
"And Aramis; I see you have not forgotten the name."
"No," she said; "poor Aramis; a charming man, elegant,
discreet, and a writer of poetical verses. I am afraid he
has turned out ill," she added.
"He has; he is an abbe."
"Ah, what a misfortune!" exclaimed the duchess, playing
carelessly with her fan. "Indeed, sir, I thank you; you have
recalled one of the most agreeable recollections of my
"Will you permit me, then, to recall another to you?"
"Relating to him?"
"Yes and no."
"Faith!" said Madame de Chevreuse, "say on. With a man like
you I fear nothing."
Athos bowed. "Aramis," he continued, "was intimate with a
young needlewoman from Tours, a cousin of his, named Marie
"Ah, I knew her!" cried the duchess. "It was to her he wrote
from the siege of Rochelle, to warn her of a plot against
the Duke of Buckingham."
"Exactly so; will you allow me to speak to you of her?"
"If," replied the duchess, with a meaning look, "you do not
say too much against her."
"I should be ungrateful," said Athos, "and I regard
ingratitude, not as a fault or a crime, but as a vice, which
is much worse."
"You ungrateful to Marie Michon, monsieur?" said Madame de
Chevreuse, trying to read in Athos's eyes. "But how can that
be? You never knew her."
"Eh, madame, who knows?" said Athos. "There is a popular
proverb to the effect that it is only mountains that never
meet; and popular proverbs contain sometimes a wonderful
amount of truth."
"Oh, go on, monsieur, go on!" said Madame de Chevreuse
eagerly; "you can't imagine how much this conversation
"You encourage me," said Athos, "I will continue, then. That
cousin of Aramis, that Marie Michon, that needlewoman,
notwithstanding her low condition, had acquaintances in the
highest rank; she called the grandest ladies of the court
her friend, and the queen -- proud as she is, in her double
character as Austrian and as Spaniard -- called her her
"Alas!" said Madame de Chevreuse, with a slight sigh and a
little movement of her eyebrows that was peculiarly her own,
"since that time everything has changed."
"And the queen had reason for her affection, for Marie was
devoted to her -- devoted to that degree that she served her
as medium of intercourse with her brother, the king of
"Which," interrupted the duchess, "is now brought up against
her as a great crime."
"And therefore," continued Athos, "the cardinal -- the true
cardinal, the other one -- determined one fine morning to
arrest poor Marie Michon and send her to the Chateau de
Loches. Fortunately the affair was not managed so secretly
but that it became known to the queen. The case had been
provided for: if Marie Michon should be threatened with any
danger the queen was to send her a prayer-book bound in
"That is true, monsieur, you are well informed."
"One morning the green book was brought to her by the Prince
de Marsillac. There was no time to lose. Happily Marie and a
follower of hers named Kitty could disguise themselves
admirably in men's clothes. The prince procured for Marie
Michon the dress of a cavalier and for Kitty that of a
lackey; he sent them two excellent horses, and the fugitives
went out hastily from Tours, shaping their course toward
Spain, trembling at the least noise, following unfrequented
roads, and asking for hospitality when they found themselves
where there was no inn."
"Why, really, it was all exactly as you say!" cried Madame
de Chevreuse, clapping her hands. "It would indeed be
strange if ---- " she checked herself.
"If I should follow the two fugitives to the end of their
journey?" said Athos. "No, madame, I will not thus waste
your time. We will accompany them only to a little village
in Limousin, lying between Tulle and Angouleme -- a little
village called Roche-l'Abeille."
Madame de Chevreuse uttered a cry of surprise, and looked at
Athos with an expression of astonishment that made the old
"Wait, madame," continued Athos, "what remains for me to
tell you is even more strange than what I have narrated."
"Monsieur," said Madame de Chevreuse, "I believe you are a
sorcerer; I am prepared for anything. But really -- No
matter, go on."
"The journey of that day had been long and wearing; it was a
cold day, the eleventh of October, there was no inn or
chateau in the village and the homes of the peasants were
poor and unattractive. Marie Michon was a very aristocratic
person; like her sister the queen, she had been accustomed
to pleasing perfumes and fine linen; she resolved,
therefore, to seek hospitality of the priest."
"Oh, continue!" said the duchess. "I have told you that I am
prepared for anything."
"The two travelers knocked at the door. It was late; the
priest, who had gone to bed, cried out to them to come in.
They entered, for the door was not locked -- there is much
confidence among villagers. A lamp burned in the chamber
occupied by the priest. Marie Michon, who made the most
charming cavalier in the world, pushed open the door, put
her head in and asked for hospitality. `Willingly, my young
cavalier,' said the priest, `if you will be content with the
remains of my supper and with half my chamber.'
"The two travelers consulted for a moment. The priest heard
a burst of laughter and then the master, or rather, the
mistress, replied: `Thank you, monsieur le cure, I accept.'
`Sup, then, and make as little noise as possible,' said the
priest, `for I, too, have been on the go all day and shall
not be sorry to sleep to-night.'"
Madame de Chevreuse evidently went from surprise to
astonishment, and from astonishment to stupefaction. Her
face, as she looked at Athos, had taken on an expression
that cannot be described. It could be seen that she had
wished to speak, but she had remained silent through fear of
losing one of her companion's words.
"What happened then?" she asked.
"Then?" said Athos. "Ah, I have come now to what is most
"Speak, speak! One can say anything to me. Besides, it
doesn't concern me; it relates to Mademoiselle Marie
"Ah, that is true," said Athos. "Well, then, Marie Michon
had supper with her follower, and then, in accordance with
the permission given her, she entered the chamber of her
host, Kitty meanwhile taking possession of an armchair in
the room first entered, where they had taken their supper."
"Really, monsieur," said Madame de Chevreuse, "unless you
are the devil in person I don't know how you could become
acquainted with all these details."
"A charming woman was that Marie Michon," resumed Athos,
"one of those wild creatures who are constantly conceiving
the strangest ideas. Now, thinking that her host was a
priest, that coquette took it into her head that it would be
a happy souvenir for her old age, among the many happy
souvenirs she already possessed, if she could win that of
having damned an abbe."
"Count," said the duchess, "upon my word, you frighten me."
"Alas!" continued Athos, "the poor abbe was not a St.
Ambroise, and I repeat, Marie Michon was an adorable
"Monsieur!" cried the duchess, seizing Athos's hands, "tell
me this moment how you know all these details, or I will
send to the convent of the Vieux Augustins for a monk to
come and exorcise you."
Athos laughed. "Nothing is easier, madame. A cavalier,
charged with an important mission, had come an hour before
your arrival, seeking hospitality, at the very moment that
the cure, summoned to the bedside of a dying person, left
not only his house but the village, for the entire night.
The priest having all confidence in his guest, who, besides,
was a nobleman, had left to him his house, his supper and
his chamber. And therefore Marie came seeking hospitality
from the guest of the good abbe and not from the good abbe
"And that cavalier, that guest, that nobleman who arrived
before she came?"
"It was I, the Comte de la Fere," said Athos, rising and
bowing respectfully to the Duchess de Chevreuse.
The duchess remained a moment stupefied; then, suddenly
bursting into laughter:
"Ah! upon my word," said she, "it is very droll, and that
mad Marie Michon fared better than she expected. Sit down,
dear count, and go on with your story."
"At this point I have to accuse myself of a fault, madame. I
have told you that I was traveling on an important mission.
At daybreak I left the chamber without noise, leaving my
charming companion asleep. In the front room the follower
was also still asleep, her head leaning back on the chair,
in all respects worthy of her mistress. Her pretty face
arrested my attention; I approached and recognized that
little Kitty whom our friend Aramis had placed with her. In
that way I discovered that the charming traveler was ---- "
"Marie Michon!" said Madame de Chevreuse, hastily.
"Marie Michon," continued Athos. "Then I went out of the
house; I proceeded to the stable and found my horse saddled
and my lackey ready. We set forth on our journey."
"And have you never revisited that village?" eagerly asked
Madame de Chevreuse.
"A year after, madame."
"I wanted to see the good cure again. I found him much
preoccupied with an event that he could not at all
comprehend. A week before he had received, in a cradle, a
beautiful little boy three months old, with a purse filled
with gold and a note containing these simple words: `11
"It was the date of that strange adventure," interrupted
Madame de Chevreuse.
"Yes, but he couldn't understand what it meant, for he had
spent that night with a dying person and Marie Michon had
left his house before his return."
"You must know, monsieur, that Marie Michon, when she
returned to France in 1643, immediately sought for
information about that child; as a fugitive she could not
take care of it, but on her return she wished to have it
"And what said the abbe?" asked Athos.
"That a nobleman whom he did not know had wished to take
charge of it, had answered for its future, and had taken it
"That was true."
"Ah! I see! That nobleman was you; it was his father!"
"Hush! do not speak so loud, madame; he is there."
"He is there! my son! the son of Marie Michon! But I must
see him instantly."
"Take care, madame," said Athos, "for he knows neither his
father nor his mother."
"You have kept the secret! you have brought him to see me,
thinking to make me happy. Oh, thanks! sir, thanks!" cried
Madame de Chevreuse, seizing his hand and trying to put it
to her lips; "you have a noble heart."
"I bring him to you, madame," said Athos, withdrawing his
hand, "hoping that in your turn you will do something for
him; till now I have watched over his education and I have
made him, I hope, an accomplished gentleman; but I am now
obliged to return to the dangerous and wandering life of
party faction. To-morrow I plunge into an adventurous affair
in which I may be killed. Then it will devolve on you to
push him on in that world where he is called on to occupy a
"Rest assured," cried the duchess, "I shall do what I can. I
have but little influence now, but all that I have shall
most assuredly be his. As to his title and fortune ---- "
"As to that, madame, I have made over to him the estate of
Bragelonne, my inheritance, which will give him ten thousand
francs a year and the title of vicomte."
"Upon my soul, monsieur," said the duchess, "you are a true
nobleman! But I am eager to see our young vicomte. Where is
"There, in the salon. I will have him come in, if you really
Athos moved toward the door; the duchess held him back.
"Is he handsome?" she asked.
"He resembles his mother."
So he opened the door and beckoned the young man in.
The duchess could not restrain a cry of joy on seeing so
handsome a young cavalier, so far surpassing all that her
maternal pride had been able to conceive.
"Vicomte, come here," said Athos; "the duchess permits you
to kiss her hand."
The youth approached with his charming smile and his head
bare, and kneeling down, kissed the hand of the Duchess de
"Sir," he said, turning to Athos, "was it not in compassion
to my timidity that you told me that this lady was the
Duchess de Chevreuse, and is she not the queen?"
"No, vicomte," said Madame de Chevreuse, taking his hand and
making him sit near her, while she looked at him with eyes
sparkling with pleasure; "no, unhappily, I am not the queen.
If I were I should do for you at once the most that you
deserve. But let us see; whatever I may be," she added,
hardly restraining herself from kissing that pure brow, "let
us see what profession you wish to follow."
Athos, standing, looked at them both with indescribable
"Madame," answered the youth in his sweet voice, "it seems
to me that there is only one career for a gentleman -- that
of the army. I have been brought up by monsieur le comte
with the intention, I believe, of making me a soldier; and
he gave me reason to hope that at Paris he would present me
to some one who would recommend me to the favor of the
"Yes, I understand it well. Personally, I am on bad terms
with him, on account of the quarrels between Madame de
Montbazon, my mother-in-law, and Madame de Longueville. But
the Prince de Marsillac! Yes, indeed, that's the right
thing. The Prince de Marsillac -- my old friend -- will
recommend our young friend to Madame de Longueville, who
will give him a letter to her brother, the prince, who loves
her too tenderly not to do what she wishes immediately."
"Well, that will do charmingly," said the count; "but may I
beg that the greatest haste may be made, for I have reasons
for wishing the vicomte not to sleep longer than to-morrow
night in Paris!"
"Do you wish it known that you are interested about him,
monsieur le comte?"
"Better for him in future that he should be supposed never
to have seen me."
"Oh, sir!" cried Raoul.
"You know, Bragelonne," said Athos, "I never speak without
"Well, comte, I am going instantly," interrupted the
duchess, "to send for the Prince de Marsillac, who is
happily, in Paris just now. What are you going to do this
"We intend to visit the Abbe Scarron, for whom I have a
letter of introduction and at whose house I expect to meet
some of my friends."
"'Tis well; I will go there also, for a few minutes," said
the duchess; "do not quit his salon until you have seen me."
Athos bowed and prepared to leave.
"Well, monsieur le comte," said the duchess, smiling, "does
one leave so solemnly his old friends?"
"Ah," murmured Athos, kissing her hand, "had I only sooner
known that Marie Michon was so charming a creature!" And he
The Abbe Scarron.
There was once in the Rue des Tournelles a house known by
all the sedan chairmen and footmen of Paris, and yet,
nevertheless, this house was neither that of a great lord
nor of a rich man. There was neither dining, nor playing at
cards, nor dancing in that house. Nevertheless, it was the
rendezvous of the great world and all Paris went there. It
was the abode of the little Abbe Scarron.
In the home of the witty abbe dwelt incessant laughter;
there all the items of the day had their source and were so
quickly transformed, misrepresented, metamorphosed, some
into epigrams, some into falsehoods, that every one was
anxious to pass an hour with little Scarron, listening to
what he said, reporting it to others.
The diminutive Abbe Scarron, who, however, was an abbe only
because he owned an abbey, and not because he was in orders,
had formerly been one of the gayest prebendaries in the town
of Mans, which he inhabited. On a day of the carnival he had
taken a notion to provide an unusual entertainment for that
good town, of which he was the life and soul. He had made
his valet cover him with honey; then, opening a feather bed,
he had rolled in it and had thus become the most grotesque
fowl it is possible to imagine. He then began to visit his
friends of both sexes, in that strange costume. At first he
had been followed through astonishment, then with derisive
shouts, then the porters had insulted him, then children had
thrown stones at him, and finally he was obliged to run, to
escape the missiles. As soon as he took to flight every one
pursued him, until, pressed on all sides, Scarron found no
way of escaping his escort, except by throwing himself into
the river; but the water was icy cold. Scarron was heated,
the cold seized on him, and when he reached the farther bank
he found himself crippled.
Every means had been employed in vain to restore the use of
his limbs. He had been subjected to a severe disciplinary
course of medicine, at length he sent away all his doctors,
declaring that he preferred the disease to the treatment,
and came to Paris, where the fame of his wit had preceded
him. There he had a chair made on his own plan, and one day,
visiting Anne of Austria in this chair, she asked him,
charmed as she was with his wit, if he did not wish for a
"Yes, your majesty, there is a title which I covet much,"
"And what is that?"
"That of being your invalid," answered Scarron.
So he was called the queen's invalid, with a pension of
fifteen hundred francs.
From that lucky moment Scarron led a happy life, spending
both income and principal. One day, however, an emissary of
the cardinal's gave him to understand that he was wrong in
receiving the coadjutor so often.
"And why?" asked Scarron; "is he not a man of good birth?"
"He has, unfortunately, too much wit."
"Well, then, why do you wish me to give up seeing such a
"Because he is an enemy."
"Of the cardinal."
"What?" answered Scarron, "I continue to receive Monsieur
Gilles Despreaux, who thinks ill of me, and you wish me to
give up seeing the coadjutor, because he thinks ill of
another man. Impossible!"
The conversation had rested there and Scarron, through sheer
obstinacy, had seen Monsieur de Gondy only the more
Now, the very morning of which we speak was that of his
quarter-day payment, and Scarron, as usual, had sent his
servant to get his money at the pension-office, but the man
had returned and said that the government had no more money
to give Monsieur Scarron.
It was on Thursday, the abbe's reception day; people went
there in crowds. The cardinal's refusal to pay the pension
was known about the town in half an hour and he was abused
with wit and vehemence.
In the Rue Saint Honore Athos fell in with two gentlemen
whom he did not know, on horseback like himself, followed by
a lackey like himself, and going in the same direction that
he was. One of them, hat in hand, said to him:
"Would you believe it, monsieur? that contemptible Mazarin
has stopped poor Scarron's pension."
"That is unreasonable," said Athos, saluting in his turn the
two cavaliers. And they separated with courteous gestures.
"It happens well that we are going there this evening," said
Athos to the vicomte; "we will pay our compliments to that
"What, then, is this Monsieur Scarron, who thus puts all
Paris in commotion? Is he some minister out of office?"
"Oh, no, not at all, vicomte," Athos replied; "he is simply
a gentleman of great genius who has fallen into disgrace
with the cardinal through having written certain verses
"Do gentlemen, then, make verses?" asked Raoul, naively, "I
thought it was derogatory."
"So it is, my dear vicomte," said Athos, laughing, "to make
bad ones; but to make good ones increases fame -- witness
Monsieur de Rotrou. Nevertheless," he continued, in the tone
of one who gives wholesome advice, "I think it is better not
to make them."
"Then," said Raoul, "this Monsieur Scarron is a poet?"
"Yes; you are warned, vicomte. Consider well what you do in
that house. Talk only by gestures, or rather always listen."
"Yes, monsieur," replied Raoul.
"You will see me talking with one of my friends, the Abbe
d'Herblay, of whom you have often heard me speak."
"I remember him, monsieur."
"Come near to us from time to time, as if to speak; but do
not speak, and do not listen. That little stratagem may
serve to keep off interlopers."
"Very well, monsieur; I will obey you at all points."
Athos made two visits in Paris; at seven o'clock he and
Raoul directed their steps to the Rue des Tournelles; it was
stopped by porters, horses and footmen. Athos forced his way
through and entered, followed by the young man. The first
person that struck him on his entrance was Aramis, planted
near a great chair on castors, very large, covered with a
canopy of tapestry, under which there moved, enveloped in a
quilt of brocade, a little face, youngish, very merry,
somewhat pallid, whilst its eyes never ceased to express a
sentiment at once lively, intellectual, and amiable. This
was the Abbe Scarron, always laughing, joking, complimenting
-- yet suffering -- and toying nervously with a small
Around this kind of rolling tent pressed a crowd of
gentlemen and ladies. The room was neatly, comfortably
furnished. Large valances of silk, embroidered with flowers
of gay colors, which were rather faded, fell from the wide
windows; the fittings of the room were simple, but in
excellent taste. Two well trained servingmen were in
attendance on the company. On perceiving Athos, Aramis
advanced toward him, took him by the hand and presented him
to Scarron. Raoul remained silent, for he was not prepared
for the dignity of the bel esprit.
After some minutes the door opened and a footman announced
Athos touched the shoulder of the vicomte.
"Look at this lady, Raoul, she is an historic personage; it
was to visit her King Henry IV. was going when he was
Every one thronged around Mademoiselle Paulet, for she was
always very much the fashion. She was a tall woman, with a
slender figure and a forest of golden curls, such as Raphael
was fond of and Titian has painted all his Magdalens with.
This fawn-colored hair, or, perhaps the sort of ascendancy
which she had over other women, gave her the name of "La
Lionne." Mademoiselle Paulet took her accustomed seat, but
before sitting down, she cast, in all her queen-like
grandeur, a look around the room, and her eyes rested on
"Mademoiselle Paulet has observed you, vicomte; go and bow
to her; don't try to appear anything but what you are, a
true country youth; on no account speak to her of Henry IV."
"When shall we two walk together?" Athos then said to
"Presently -- there are not a sufficient number of people
here yet; we shall be remarked."
At this moment the door opened and in walked the coadjutor.
At this name every one looked around, for his was already a
very celebrated name. Athos did the same. He knew the Abbe
de Gondy only by report.
He saw a little dark man, ill made and awkward with his
hands in everything -- except drawing a sword and firing a
pistol -- with something haughty and contemptuous in his
Scarron turned around toward him and came to meet him in his
"Well," said the coadjutor, on seeing him, "you are in
disgrace, then, abbe?"
This was the orthodox phrase. It had been said that evening
a hundred times -- and Scarron was at his hundredth bon mot
on the subject; he was very nearly at the end of his
humoristic tether, but one despairing effort saved him.
"Monsieur, the Cardinal Mazarin has been so kind as to think
of me," he said.
"But how can you continue to receive us?" asked the
coadjutor; "if your income is lessened I shall be obliged to
make you a canon of Notre Dame."
"Oh, no!" cried Scarron, "I should compromise you too much."
"Perhaps you have resources of which we are ignorant?"
"I shall borrow from the queen."
"But her majesty has no property," interposed Aramis.
At this moment the door opened and Madame de Chevreuse was
announced. Every one arose. Scarron turned his chair toward
the door, Raoul blushed, Athos made a sign to Aramis, who
went and hid himself in the enclosure of a window.
In the midst of all the compliments that awaited her on her
entrance, the duchess seemed to be looking for some one; at
last she found out Raoul and her eyes sparkled; she
perceived Athos and became thoughtful; she saw Aramis in the
seclusion of the window and gave a start of surprise behind
"Apropos," she said, as if to drive away thoughts that
pursued her in spite of herself, "how is poor Voiture, do
you know, Scarron?"
"What, is Monsieur Voiture ill?" inquired a gentleman who
had spoken to Athos in the Rue Saint Honore; "what is the
matter with him?"
"He was acting, but forgot to take the precaution to have a
change of linen ready after the performance," said the
coadjutor, "so he took cold and is about to die."
"Is he then so ill, dear Voiture?" asked Aramis, half hidden
by the window curtain.
"Die!" cried Mademoiselle Paulet, bitterly, "he! Why, he is
surrounded by sultanas, like a Turk. Madame de Saintot has
hastened to him with broth; La Renaudot warms his sheets;
the Marquise de Rambouillet sends him his tisanes."
"You don't like him, my dear Parthenie," said Scarron.
"What an injustice, my dear invalid! I hate him so little
that I should be delighted to order masses for the repose of
"You are not called `Lionne' for nothing," observed Madame
de Chevreuse, "your teeth are terrible."
"You are unjust to a great poet, it seems to me," Raoul
ventured to say.
"A great poet! come, one may easily see, vicomte, that you
are lately from the provinces and have never so much as seen
him. A great poet! he is scarcely five feet high."
"Bravo bravo!" cried a tall man with an enormous mustache
and a long rapier, "bravo, fair Paulet, it is high time to
put little Voiture in his right place. For my part, I always
thought his poetry detestable, and I think I know something
"Who is this officer," inquired Raoul of Athos, "who is
"Monsieur de Scudery, the author of `Clelie,' and of `Le
Grand Cyrus,' which were composed partly by him and partly
by his sister, who is now talking to that pretty person
yonder, near Monsieur Scarron."
Raoul turned and saw two faces just arrived. One was
perfectly charming, delicate, pensive, shaded by beautiful
dark hair, and eyes soft as velvet, like those lovely
flowers, the heartsease, in which shine out the golden
petals. The other, of mature age, seemed to have the former
one under her charge, and was cold, dry and yellow -- the
true type of a duenna or a devotee.
Raoul resolved not to quit the room without having spoken to
the beautiful girl with the soft eyes, who by a strange
fancy, although she bore no resemblance, reminded him of his
poor little Louise, whom he had left in the Chateau de la
Valliere and whom, in the midst of all the party, he had
never for one moment quite forgotten. Meantime Aramis had
drawn near to the coadjutor, who, smiling all the while,
contrived to drop some words into his ear. Aramis,
notwithstanding his self-control, could not refrain from a
slight movement of surprise.
"Laugh, then," said Monsieur de Retz; "they are looking at
us." And leaving Aramis he went to talk with Madame de
Chevreuse, who was in the midst of a large group.
Aramis affected a laugh, to divert the attention of certain
curious listeners, and perceiving that Athos had betaken
himself to the embrasure of a window and remained there, he
proceeded to join him, throwing out a few words carelessly
as he moved through the room.
As soon as the two friends met they began a conversation
which was emphasized by frequent gesticulation.
Raoul then approached them as Athos had directed him to do.
"'Tis a rondeau by Monsieur Voiture that monsieur l'abbe is
repeating to me." said Athos in a loud voice, "and I confess
I think it incomparable."
Raoul stayed only a few minutes near them and then mingled
with the group round Madame de Chevreuse.
"Well, then?" asked Athos, in a low tone.
"It is to be to-morrow," said Aramis hastily.
"At what time?"
"At Saint Mande."
"Who told you?"
"The Count de Rochefort."
Some one drew near.
"And then philosophic ideas are wholly wanting in Voiture's
works, but I am of the same opinion as the coadjutor -- he
is a poet, a true poet." Aramis spoke so as to be heard by
"And I, too," murmured the young lady with the velvet eyes.
"I have the misfortune also to admire his poetry
"Monsieur Scarron, do me the honor," said Raoul, blushing,
"to tell me the name of that young lady whose opinion seems
so different from that of others of the company."
"Ah! my young vicomte," replied Scarron, "I suppose you wish
to propose to her an alliance offensive and defensive."
Raoul blushed again.
"You asked the name of that young lady. She is called the
"Excuse me, sir," returned Raoul, blushing still more
deeply, "I know no more than I did before. Alas! I am from
"Which means that you know very little about the nonsense
which here flows down our streets. So much the better, young
man! so much the better! Don't try to understand it -- you
will only lose your time."
"You forgive me, then, sir," said Raoul, "and you will deign
to tell me who is the person that you call the young
"Certainly; one of the most charming persons that lives --
Mademoiselle Frances d'Aubigne."
"Does she belong to the family of the celebrated Agrippa,
the friend of Henry IV.?"
"His granddaughter. She comes from Martinique, so I call her
the beautiful Indian."
Raoul looked surprised and his eyes met those of the young
lady, who smiled.
The company went on speaking of the poet Voiture.
"Monsieur," said Mademoiselle d'Aubigne to Scarron, as if
she wished to join in the conversation he was engaged in
with Raoul, "do you not admire Monsieur Voiture's friends?
Listen how they pull him to pieces even whilst they praise
him; one takes away from him all claim to good sense,
another robs him of his poetry, a third of his originality,
another of his humor, another of his independence of
character, a sixth -- but, good heavens! what will they
leave him? as Mademoiselle de Scudery remarks."
Scarron and Raoul laughed. The fair Indian, astonished at
the sensation her observation produced, looked down and
resumed her air of naivete.
Athos, still within the inclosure of the window, watched
this scene with a smile of disdain on his lips.
"Tell the Comte de la Fere to come to me," said Madame de
Chevreuse, "I want to speak to him."
"And I," said the coadjutor, "want it to be thought that I
do not speak to him. I admire, I love him -- for I know his
former adventures -- but I shall not speak to him until the
day after to-morrow."
"And why day after to-morrow?" asked Madame de Chevreuse.
"You will know that to-morrow evening," said the coadjutor,
"Really, my dear Gondy," said the duchess, "you remind one
of the Apocalypse. Monsieur d'Herblay," she added, turning
toward Aramis, "will you be my servant once more this
"How can you doubt it?" replied Aramis; "this evening,
to-morrow, always; command me."
"I will, then. Go and look for the Comte de la Fere; I wish
to speak with him."
Aramis found Athos and brought him.
"Monsieur le comte," said the duchess, giving him a letter,
"here is what I promised you; our young friend will be
extremely well received."
"Madame, he is very happy in owing any obligation to you."
"You have no reason to envy him on that score, for I owe to
you the pleasure of knowing him," replied the witty woman,
with a smile which recalled Marie Michon to Aramis and to
As she uttered that bon mot, she arose and asked for her
carriage. Mademoiselle Paulet had already gone; Mademoiselle
de Scudery was going.
"Vicomte," said Athos to Raoul, "follow the duchess; beg her
to do you the favor to take your arm in going downstairs,
and thank her as you descend."
The fair Indian approached Scarron.
"You are going already?" he said.
"One of the last, as you see; if you hear anything of
Monsieur Voiture, be so kind as to send me word to-morrow."
"Oh!" said Scarron, "he may die now."
"Why?" asked the young girl with the velvet eyes.
"Certainly; his panegyric has been uttered."
They parted, laughing, she turning back to gaze at the poor
paralytic man with interest, he looking after her with eyes
One by one the several groups broke up. Scarron seemed not
to observe that certain of his guests had talked
mysteriously, that letters had passed from hand to hand and
that the assembly had seemed to have a secret purpose quite
apart from the literary discussion carried on with so much
ostentation. What was all that to Scarron? At his house
rebellion could be planned with impunity, for, as we have
said, since that morning he had ceased to be "the queen's
As to Raoul, he had attended the duchess to her carriage,
where, as she took her seat, she gave him her hand to kiss;
then, by one of those wild caprices which made her so
adorable and at the same time so dangerous, she had suddenly
put her arm around his neck and kissed his forehead, saying:
"Vicomte, may my good wishes and this kiss bring you good
Then she had pushed him away and directed the coachman to
stop at the Hotel de Luynes. The carriage had started,
Madame de Chevreuse had made a parting gesture to the young
man, and Raoul had returned in a state of stupefaction.
Athos surmised what had taken place and smiled. "Come,
vicomte," he said, "it is time for you to go to bed; you
will start in the morning for the army of monsieur le
prince. Sleep well your last night as citizen."
"I am to be a soldier then?" said the young man. "Oh,
monsieur, I thank you with all my heart."
"Adieu, count," said the Abbe d'Herblay; "I return to my
"Adieu, abbe," said the coadjutor, "I am to preach to-morrow
and have twenty texts to examine this evening."
"Adieu, gentlemen," said the count; "I am going to sleep
twenty-four hours; I am just falling down with fatigue."
The three men saluted one another, whilst exchanging a last
Scarron followed their movements with a glance from the
corner of his eye.
"Not one of them will do as he says," he murmured, with his
little monkey smile; "but they may do as they please, the
brave gentlemen! Who knows if they will not manage to
restore to me my pension? They can move their arms, they
can, and that is much. Alas, I have only my tongue, but I
will try to show that it is good for something. Ho, there,
Champenois! here, it is eleven o'clock. Come and roll me to
bed. Really, that Demoiselle d'Aubigne is very charming!"
So the invalid disappeared soon afterward and went into his
sleeping-room; and one by one the lights in the salon of the
Rue des Tournelles were extinguished.
The day had begun to break when Athos arose and dressed
himself. It was plain, by a paleness still greater than
usual, and by those traces which loss of sleep leaves on the
face, that he must have passed almost the whole of the night
without sleeping. Contrary to the custom of a man so firm
and decided, there was this morning in his personal
appearance something tardy and irresolute.
He was occupied with the preparations for Raoul's departure
and was seeking to gain time. In the first place he himself
furbished a sword, which he drew from its perfumed leather
sheath; he examined it to see if its hilt was well guarded
and if the blade was firmly attached to the hilt. Then he
placed at the bottom of the valise belonging to the young
man a small bag of louis, called Olivain, the lackey who had
followed him from Blois, and made him pack the valise under
his own eyes, watchful to see that everything should be put
in which might be useful to a young man entering on his
At length, after occupying about an hour in these
preparations, he opened the door of the room in which the
vicomte slept, and entered.
The sun, already high, penetrated into the room through the
window, the curtains of which Raoul had neglected to close
on the previous evening. He was still sleeping, his head
gracefully reposing on his arm.
Athos approached and hung over the youth in an attitude full
of tender melancholy; he looked long on this young man,
whose smiling mouth and half closed eyes bespoke soft dreams
and lightest slumber, as if his guardian angel watched over
him with solicitude and affection. By degrees Athos gave
himself up to the charms of his reverie in the proximity of
youth, so pure, so fresh. His own youth seemed to reappear,
bringing with it all those savoury remembrances, which are
like perfumes more than thoughts. Between the past and the
present was an ineffable abyss. But imagination has the
wings of an angel of light and travels safely through or
over the seas where we have been almost shipwrecked, the
darkness in which our illusions are lost, the precipice
whence our happiness has been hurled and swallowed up. He
remembered that all the first part of his life had been
embittered by a woman and he thought with alarm of the
influence love might assume over so fine, and at the same
time so vigorous an organization as that of Raoul.
In recalling all he had been through, he foresaw all that
Raoul might suffer; and the expression of the deep and
tender compassion which throbbed in his heart was pictured
in the moist eye with which he gazed on the young man.
At this moment Raoul awoke, without a cloud on his face
without weariness or lassitude; his eyes were fixed on those
of Athos and perhaps he comprehended all that passed in the
heart of the man who was awaiting his awakening as a lover
awaits the awakening of his mistress, for his glance, in
return, had all the tenderness of love.
"You are there, sir?" he said, respectfully.
"Yes, Raoul," replied the count.
"And you did not awaken me?"
"I wished to leave you still to enjoy some moments of sleep,
my child; you must be fatigued from yesterday."
"Oh, sir, how good you are!"
"How do you feel this morning?" he inquired.
"Perfectly well; quite rested, sir."
"You are still growing," Athos continued, with that charming
and paternal interest felt by a grown man for a youth.
"Oh, sir, I beg your pardon!" exclaimed Raoul, ashamed of so
much attention; "in an instant I shall be dressed."
Athos then called Olivain.
"Everything," said Olivain to Athos, "has been done
according to your directions; the horses are waiting."
"And I was asleep," cried Raoul, "whilst you, sir, you had
the kindness to attend to all these details. Truly, sir, you
overwhelm me with benefits!"
"Therefore you love me a little, I hope," replied Athos, in
a tone of emotion.
"Oh, sir! God knows how much I love, revere you."
"See that you forget nothing," said Athos, appearing to look
about him, that he might hide his emotion.
"No, indeed, sir," answered Raoul.
The servant then approached Athos and said, hesitatingly:
"Monsieur le vicomte has no sword."
"'Tis well," said Athos, "I will take care of that."
They went downstairs, Raoul looking every now and then at
the count to see if the moment of farewell was at hand, but
Athos was silent. When they reached the steps Raoul saw
"Oh, sir! then you are going with me?"
"I will accompany you a portion of the way," said Athos.
Joy shone in Raoul's eyes and he leaped lightly to his
Athos mounted more slowly, after speaking in a low voice to
the lackey, who, instead of following them immediately,
returned to their rooms. Raoul, delighted at the count's
companionship, perceived, or affected to perceive nothing of