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Twenty Years After by Alexandre Dumas [Pere]

Part 6 out of 20

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They set out, passing over the Pont Neuf; they pursued their
way along the quay then called L'Abreuvoir Pepin, and went
along by the walls of the Grand Chatelet. They proceeded to
the Rue Saint Denis.

After passing through the Porte Saint Denis, Athos looked at
Raoul's way of riding and observed:

"Take care, Raoul! I have already often told you of this;
you must not forget it, for it is a great defect in a rider.
See! your horse is tired already, he froths at the mouth,
whilst mine looks as if he had only just left the stable.
You hold the bit too tight and so make his mouth hard, so
that you will not be able to make him manoeuvre quickly. The
safety of a cavalier often depends on the prompt obedience
of his horse. In a week, remember, you will no longer be
performing your manoeuvres for practice, but on a field of

Then suddenly, in order not to give too uncomfortable an
importance to this observation:

"See, Raoul!" he resumed; "what a fine plain for partridge

The young man stored in his mind the admonition whilst he
admired the delicate tenderness with which it was bestowed.

"I have remarked also another thing," said Athos, "which is,
that in firing off your pistol you hold your arm too far
outstretched. This tension lessens the accuracy of the aim.
So in twelve times you thrice missed the mark."

"Which you, sir, struck twelve times," answered Raoul,

"Because I bent my arm and rested my hand on my elbow -- so;
do you understand what I mean?"

"Yes, sir. I have fired since in that manner and have been
quite successful."

"What a cold wind!" resumed Athos; "a wintry blast. Apropos,
if you fire -- and you will do so, for you are recommended
to a young general who is very fond of powder -- remember
that in single combat, which often takes place in the
cavalry, never to fire the first shot. He who fires the
first shot rarely hits his man, for he fires with the
apprehension of being disarmed, before an armed foe; then,
whilst he fires, make your horse rear; that manoeuvre has
saved my life several times."

"I shall do so, if only in gratitude ---- "

"Eh!" cried Athos, "are not those fellows poachers they have
arrested yonder? They are. Then another important thing,
Raoul: should you be wounded in a battle, and fall from your
horse, if you have any strength left, disentangle yourself
from the line that your regiment has formed; otherwise, it
may be driven back and you will be trampled to death by the
horses. At all events, should you be wounded, write to me
that very instant, or get some one at once to write to me.
We are judges of wounds, we old soldiers," Athos added,

"Thank you, sir," answered the young man, much moved.

They arrived that very moment at the gate of the town,
guarded by two sentinels.

"Here comes a young gentleman," said one of them, "who seems
as if he were going to join the army."

"How do you make that out?" inquired Athos.

"By his manner, sir, and his age; he's the second to-day."

"Has a young man, such as I am, gone through this morning,
then?" asked Raoul.

"Faith, yes, with a haughty presence, a fine equipage; such
as the son of a noble house would have."

"He will be my companion on the journey, sir," cried Raoul.
"Alas! he cannot make me forget what I shall have lost!"

Thus talking, they traversed the streets, full of people on
account of the fete, and arrived opposite the old cathedral,
where first mass was going on.

"Let us alight; Raoul," said Athos. "Olivain, take care of
our horses and give me my sword."

The two gentlemen then went into the church. Athos gave
Raoul some of the holy water. A love as tender as that of a
lover for his mistress dwells, undoubtedly, in some paternal
hearts toward a son.

Athos said a word to one of the vergers, who bowed and
proceeded toward the basement.

"Come, Raoul," he said, "let us follow this man."

The verger opened the iron grating that guarded the royal
tombs and stood on the topmost step, whilst Athos and Raoul
descended. The sepulchral depths of the descent were dimly
lighted by a silver lamp on the lowest step; and just below
this lamp there was laid, wrapped in a flowing mantle of
violet velvet, worked with fleurs-de-lis of gold, a
catafalque resting on trestles of oak. The young man,
prepared for this scene by the state of his own feelings,
which were mournful, and by the majesty of the cathedral
which he had passed through, descended in a slow and solemn
manner and stood with head uncovered before these mortal
spoils of the last king, who was not to be placed by the
side of his forefathers until his successor should take his
place there; and who appeared to abide on that spot, that he
might thus address human pride, so sure to be exalted by the
glories of a throne: "Dust of the earth! Here I await thee!"

There was profound silence.

Then Athos raised his hand and pointing to the coffin:

"This temporary sepulture is," he said, "that of a man who
was of feeble mind, yet one whose reign was full of great
events; because over this king watched the spirit of another
man, even as this lamp keeps vigil over this coffin and
illumines it. He whose intellect was thus supreme, Raoul,
was the actual sovereign; the other, nothing but a phantom
to whom he lent a soul; and yet, so powerful is majesty
amongst us, this man has not even the honor of a tomb at the
feet of him in whose service his life was worn away.
Remember, Raoul, this! If Richelieu made the king, by
comparison, seem small, he made royalty great. The Palace of
the Louvre contains two things -- the king, who must die,
and royalty, which never dies. The minister, so feared, so
hated by his master, has descended into the tomb, drawing
after him the king, whom he would not leave alone on earth,
lest his work should be destroyed. So blind were his
contemporaries that they regarded the cardinal's death as a
deliverance; and I, even I, opposed the designs of the great
man who held the destinies of France within the hollow of
his hand. Raoul, learn how to distinguish the king from
royalty; the king is but a man; royalty is the gift of God.
Whenever you hesitate as to whom you ought to serve, abandon
the exterior, the material appearance for the invisible
principle, for the invisible principle is everything. Raoul,
I seem to read your future destiny as through a cloud. It
will be happier, I think, than ours has been. Different in
your fate from us, you will have a king without a minister,
whom you may serve, love, respect. Should the king prove a
tyrant, for power begets tyranny, serve, love, respect
royalty, that Divine right, that celestial spark which makes
this dust still powerful and holy, so that we -- gentlemen,
nevertheless, of rank and condition -- are as nothing in
comparison with the cold corpse there extended."

"I shall adore God, sir," said Raoul, "respect royalty and
ever serve the king. And if death be my lot, I hope to die
for the king, for royalty and for God. Have I, sir,
comprehended your instructions?"

Athos smiled.

"Yours is a noble nature." he said; "here is your sword."

Raoul bent his knee to the ground.

"It was worn by my father, a loyal gentleman. I have worn it
in my turn and it has sometimes not been disgraced when the
hilt was in my hand and the sheath at my side. Should your
hand still be too weak to use this sword, Raoul, so much the
better. You will have the more time to learn to draw it only
when it ought to be used."

"Sir," replied Raoul, putting the sword to his lips as he
received it from the count, "I owe you everything and yet
this sword is the most precious gift you have yet made me. I
will wear it, I swear to you, as a grateful man should do."

"'Tis well; arise, vicomte, embrace me."

Raoul arose and threw himself with emotion into the count's

"Adieu," faltered the count, who felt his heart die away
within him; "adieu, and think of me."

"Oh! for ever and ever!" cried the youth; "oh! I swear to
you, sir, should any harm befall me, your name will be the
last name that I shall utter, the remembrance of you my last

Athos hastened upstairs to conceal his emotion, and regained
with hurried steps the porch where Olivain was waiting with
the horses.

"Olivain," said Athos, showing the servant Raoul's
shoulder-belt, "tighten the buckle of the sword, it falls
too low. You will accompany monsieur le vicomte till Grimaud
rejoins you. You know, Raoul, Grimaud is an old and zealous
servant; he will follow you."

"Yes, sir," answered Raoul.

"Now to horse, that I may see you depart!"

Raoul obeyed.

"Adieu, Raoul," said the count; "adieu, my dearest boy!"

"Adieu, sir, adieu, my beloved protector."

Athos waved his hand -- he dared not trust himself to speak:
and Raoul went away, his head uncovered. Athos remained
motionless, looking after him until he turned the corner of
the street.

Then the count threw the bridle of his horse into the hands
of a peasant, remounted the steps, went into the cathedral,
there to kneel down in the darkest corner and pray.


One of the Forty Methods of Escape of the Duc de Beaufort.

Meanwhile time was passing on for the prisoner, as well as
for those who were preparing his escape; only for him it
passed more slowly. Unlike other men, who enter with ardor
upon a perilous resolution and grow cold as the moment of
execution approaches, the Duc de Beaufort, whose buoyant
courage had become a proverb, seemed to push time before him
and sought most eagerly to hasten the hour of action. In his
escape alone, apart from his plans for the future, which, it
must be admitted, were for the present sufficiently vague
and uncertain, there was a beginning of vengeance which
filled his heart. In the first place his escape would be a
serious misfortune to Monsieur de Chavigny, whom he hated
for the petty persecutions he owed to him. It would be a
still worse affair for Mazarin, whom he execrated for the
greater offences he had committed. It may be observed that
there was a proper proportion in his sentiments toward the
governor of the prison and the minister -- toward the
subordinate and the master.

Then Monsieur de Beaufort, who was so familiar with the
interior of the Palais Royal, though he did not know the
relations existing between the queen and the cardinal,
pictured to himself, in his prison, all that dramatic
excitement which would ensue when the rumor should run from
the minister's cabinet to the chamber of Anne of Austria:
"Monsieur de Beaufort has escaped!" Whilst saying that to
himself, Monsieur de Beaufort smiled pleasantly and imagined
himself already outside, breathing the air of the plains and
the forests, pressing a strong horse between his knees and
crying out in a loud voice, "I am free!"

It is true that on coming to himself he found that he was
still within four walls; he saw La Ramee twirling his thumbs
ten feet from him, and his guards laughing and drinking in
the ante-chamber. The only thing that was pleasant to him in
that odious tableau -- such is the instability of the human
mind -- was the sullen face of Grimaud, for whom he had at
first conceived such a hatred and who now was all his hope.
Grimaud seemed to him an Antinous. It is needless to say
that this transformation was visible only to the prisoner's
feverish imagination. Grimaud was still the same, and
therefore he retained the entire confidence of his superior,
La Ramee, who now relied upon him more than he did upon
himself, for, as we have said, La Ramee felt at the bottom
of his heart a certain weakness for Monsieur de Beaufort.

And so the good La Ramee made a festivity of the little
supper with his prisoner. He had but one fault -- he was a
gourmand; he had found the pates good, the wine excellent.
Now the successor of Pere Marteau had promised him a pate of
pheasant instead of a pate of fowl, and Chambertin wine
instead of Macon. All this, set off by the presence of that
excellent prince, who was so good-natured, who invented so
droll tricks against Monsieur de Chavigny and so fine jokes
against Mazarin, made for La Ramee the approaching Pentecost
one of the four great feasts of the year. He therefore
looked forward to six o'clock with as much impatience as the
duke himself.

Since daybreak La Ramee had been occupied with the
preparations, and trusting no one but himself, he had
visited personally the successor of Pere Marteau. The latter
had surpassed himself; he showed La Ramee a monstrous pate,
ornamented with Monsieur de Beaufort's coat-of-arms. It was
empty as yet, but a pheasant and two partridges were lying
near it. La Ramee's mouth watered and he returned to the
duke's chamber rubbing his hands. To crown his happiness,
Monsieur de Chavigny had started on a journey that morning
and in his absence La Ramee was deputy-governor of the

As for Grimaud, he seemed more sullen than ever.

In the course of the forenoon Monsieur de Beaufort had a
game of tennis with La Ramee; a sign from Grimaud put him on
the alert. Grimaud, going in advance, followed the course
which they were to take in the evening. The game was played
in an inclosure called the little court of the chateau, a
place quite deserted except when Monsieur de Beaufort was
playing; and even then the precaution seemed superfluous,
the wall was so high.

There were three gates to open before reaching the
inclosure, each by a different key. When they arrived
Grimaud went carelessly and sat down by a loophole in the
wall, letting his legs dangle outside. It was evident that
there the rope ladder was to be attached.

This manoeuvre, transparent to the Duc de Beaufort, was
quite unintelligible to La Ramee.

The game at tennis, which, upon a sign from Grimaud,
Monsieur de Beaufort had consented to play, began in the
afternoon. The duke was in full strength and beat La Ramee

Four of the guards, who were constantly near the prisoner,
assisted in picking up the tennis balls. When the game was
over, the duke, laughing at La Ramee for his bad play,
offered these men two louis d'or to go and drink his health,
with their four other comrades.

The guards asked permission of La Ramee, who gave it to
them, but not till the evening, however; until then he had
business and the prisoner was not to be left alone.

Six o'clock came and, although they were not to sit down to
table until seven o'clock, dinner was ready and served up.
Upon a sideboard appeared the colossal pie with the duke's
arms on it, and seemingly cooked to a turn, as far as one
could judge by the golden color which illuminated the crust.

The rest of the dinner was to come.

Every one was impatient, La Ramee to sit down to table, the
guards to go and drink, the duke to escape.

Grimaud alone was calm as ever. One might have fancied that
Athos had educated him with the express forethought of such
a great event.

There were moments when, looking at Grimaud, the duke asked
himself if he was not dreaming and if that marble figure was
really at his service and would grow animated when the
moment came for action.

La Ramee sent away the guards, desiring them to drink to the
duke's health, and as soon as they were gone shut all the
doors, put the keys in his pocket and showed the table to
the prince with an air that signified:

"Whenever my lord pleases."

The prince looked at Grimaud, Grimaud looked at the clock;
it was hardly a quarter-past six. The escape was fixed to
take place at seven o'clock; there was therefore
three-quarters of an hour to wait.

The duke, in order to pass away another quarter of an hour,
pretended to be reading something that interested him and
muttered that he wished they would allow him to finish his
chapter. La Ramee went up to him and looked over his
shoulder to see what sort of a book it was that had so
singular an influence over the prisoner as to make him put
off taking his dinner.

It was "Caesar's Commentaries," which La Ramee had lent him,
contrary to the orders of the governor; and La Ramee
resolved never again to disobey these injunctions.

Meantime he uncorked the bottles and went to smell if the
pie was good.

At half-past six the duke arose and said very gravely:

"Certainly, Caesar was the greatest man of ancient times."

"You think so, my lord?" answered La Ramee.


"Well, as for me, I prefer Hannibal."

"And why, pray, Master La Ramee?" asked the duke.

"Because he left no Commentaries," replied La Ramee, with
his coarse laugh.

The duke vouchsafed no reply, but sitting down at the table
made a sign that La Ramee should seat himself opposite.
There is nothing so expressive as the face of an epicure who
finds himself before a well spread table, so La Ramee, when
receiving his plate of soup from Grimaud, presented a type
of perfect bliss.

The duke smiled.

"Zounds!" he said; "I don't suppose there is a more
contented man at this moment in all the kingdom than

"You are right, my lord duke," answered the officer; "I
don't know any pleasanter sight on earth than a well covered
table; and when, added to that, he who does the honors is
the grandson of Henry IV., you will, my lord duke, easily
comprehend that the honor fairly doubles the pleasure one

The duke, in his turn, bowed, and an imperceptible smile
appeared on the face of Grimaud, who kept behind La Ramee.

"My dear La Ramee," said the duke, "you are the only man to
turn such faultless compliments."

"No, my lord duke," replied La Ramee, in the fullness of his
heart; "I say what I think; there is no compliment in what I
say to you ---- "

"Then you are attached to me?" asked the duke.

"To own the truth, I should be inconsolable if you were to
leave Vincennes."

"A droll way of showing your affliction." The duke meant to
say "affection."

"But, my lord," returned La Ramee, "what would you do if you
got out? Every folly you committed would embroil you with
the court and they would put you into the Bastile, instead
of Vincennes. Now, Monsieur de Chavigny is not amiable, I
allow, but Monsieur du Tremblay is considerably worse."

"Indeed!" exclaimed the duke, who from time to time looked
at the clock, the fingers of which seemed to move with
sickening slowness.

"But what can you expect from the brother of a capuchin
monk, brought up in the school of Cardinal Richelieu? Ah, my
lord, it is a great happiness that the queen, who always
wished you well, had a fancy to send you here, where there's
a promenade and a tennis court, good air, and a good table."

"In short," answered the duke, "if I comprehend you aright,
La Ramee, I am ungrateful for having ever thought of leaving
this place?"

"Oh! my lord duke, 'tis the height of ingratitude; but your
highness has never seriously thought of it?"

"Yes," returned the duke, "I must confess I sometimes think
of it."

"Still by one of your forty methods, your highness?"

"Yes, yes, indeed."

"My lord," said La Ramee, "now we are quite at our ease and
enjoying ourselves, pray tell me one of those forty ways
invented by your highness."

"Willingly," answered the duke, "give me the pie!"

"I am listening," said La Ramee, leaning back in his
armchair and raising his glass of Madeira to his lips, and
winking his eye that he might see the sun through the rich
liquid that he was about to taste.

The duke glanced at the clock. In ten minutes it would
strike seven.

Grimaud placed the pie before the duke, who took a knife
with a silver blade to raise the upper crust; but La Ramee,
who was afraid of any harm happening to this fine work of
art, passed his knife, which had an iron blade, to the duke.

"Thank you, La Ramee," said the prisoner.

"Well, my lord! this famous invention of yours?"

"Must I tell you," replied the duke, "on what I most reckon
and what I determine to try first?"

"Yes, that's the thing, my lord!" cried his custodian,

"Well, I should hope, in the first instance, to have for
keeper an honest fellow like you."

"And you have me, my lord. Well?"

"Having, then, a keeper like La Ramee, I should try also to
have introduced to him by some friend or other a man who
would be devoted to me, who would assist me in my flight."

"Come, come," said La Ramee, "that's not a bad idea."

"Capital, isn't it? for instance, the former servingman of
some brave gentleman, an enemy himself to Mazarin, as every
gentleman ought to be."

"Hush! don't let us talk politics, my lord."

"Then my keeper would begin to trust this man and to depend
upon him, and I should have news from those without the
prison walls."

"Ah, yes! but how can the news be brought to you?"

"Nothing easier; in a game of tennis, for example."

"In a game of tennis?" asked La Ramee, giving more serious
attention to the duke's words.

"Yes; see, I send a ball into the moat; a man is there who
picks it up; the ball contains a letter. Instead of
returning the ball to me when I call for it from the top of
the wall, he throws me another; that other ball contains a
letter. Thus we have exchanged ideas and no one has seen us
do it."

"The devil it does! The devil it does!" said La Ramee,
scratching his head; "you are in the wrong to tell me that,
my lord. I shall have to watch the men who pick up balls."

The duke smiled.

"But," resumed La Ramee, "that is only a way of

"And that is a great deal, it seems to me."

"But not enough."

"Pardon me; for instance, I say to my friends, Be on a
certain day, on a certain hour, at the other side of the
moat with two horses."

"Well, what then?" La Ramee began to be uneasy; "unless the
horses have wings to mount the ramparts and come and fetch

"That's not needed. I have," replied the duke, "a way of
descending from the ramparts."


"A rope ladder."

"Yes, but," answered La Ramee, trying to laugh, "a ladder of
ropes can't be sent around a ball, like a letter."

"No, but it may be sent in something else."

"In something else -- in something else? In what?"

"In a pate, for example."

"In a pate?" said La Ramee.

"Yes. Let us suppose one thing," replied the duke "let us
suppose, for instance, that my maitre d'hotel, Noirmont, has
purchased the shop of Pere Marteau ---- "

"Well?" said La Ramee, shuddering.

"Well, La Ramee, who is a gourmand, sees his pates, thinks
them more attractive than those of Pere Marteau and proposes
to me that I shall try them. I consent on condition that La
Ramee tries them with me. That we may be more at our ease,
La Ramee removes the guards, keeping only Grimaud to wait on
us. Grimaud is the man whom a friend has sent to second me
in everything. The moment for my escape is fixed -- seven
o'clock. Well, at a few minutes to seven ---- "

"At a few minutes to seven?" cried La Ramee, cold sweat upon
his brow.

"At a few minutes to seven," returned the duke (suiting the
action to the words), "I raise the crust of the pie; I find
in it two poniards, a ladder of rope, and a gag. I point one
of the poniards at La Ramee's breast and I say to him, `My
friend, I am sorry for it, but if thou stirrest, if thou
utterest one cry, thou art a dead man!'"

The duke, in pronouncing these words, suited, as we have
said, the action to the words. He was standing near the
officer and he directed the point of the poniard in such a
manner, close to La Ramee's heart, that there could be no
doubt in the mind of that individual as to his
determination. Meanwhile, Grimaud, still mute as ever, drew
from the pie the other poniard, the rope ladder and the gag.

La Ramee followed all these objects with his eyes, his alarm
every moment increasing.

"Oh, my lord," he cried, with an expression of stupefaction
in his face; "you haven't the heart to kill me!"

"No; not if thou dost not oppose my flight."

"But, my lord, if I allow you to escape I am a ruined man."

"I will compensate thee for the loss of thy place."

"You are determined to leave the chateau?"

"By Heaven and earth! This night I am determined to be

"And if I defend myself, or call, or cry out?"

"I will kill thee, on the honor of a gentleman."

At this moment the clock struck.

"Seven o'clock!" said Grimaud, who had not spoken a word.

La Ramee made one movement, in order to satisfy his
conscience. The duke frowned, the officer felt the point of
the poniard, which, having penetrated through his clothes,
was close to his heart.

"Let us dispatch," said the duke.

"My lord, one last favor."

"What? speak, make haste."

"Bind my arms, my lord, fast."

"Why bind thee?"

"That I may not be considered as your accomplice."

"Your hands?" asked Grimaud.

"Not before me, behind me."

"But with what?" asked the duke.

"With your belt, my lord!" replied La Ramee.

The duke undid his belt and gave it to Grimaud, who tied La
Ramee in such a way as to satisfy him.

"Your feet, too," said Grimaud.

La Ramee stretched out his legs, Grimaud took a table-cloth,
tore it into strips and tied La Ramee's feet together.

"Now, my lord," said the poor man, "let me have the poire
d'angoisse. I ask for it; without it I should be tried in a
court of justice because I did not raise the alarm. Thrust
it into my mouth, my lord, thrust it in."

Grimaud prepared to comply with this request, when the
officer made a sign as if he had something to say.

"Speak," said the duke.

"Now, my lord, do not forget, if any harm happens to me on
your account, that I have a wife and four children."

"Rest assured; put the gag in, Grimaud."

In a second La Ramee was gagged and laid prostrate. Two or
three chairs were thrown down as if there had been a
struggle. Grimaud then took from the pocket of the officer
all the keys it contained and first opened the door of the
room in which they were, then shut it and double-locked it,
and both he and the duke proceeded rapidly down the gallery
which led to the little inclosure. At last they reached the
tennis court. It was completely deserted. No sentinels, no
one at any of the windows. The duke ran to the rampart and
perceived on the other side of the ditch, three cavaliers
with two riding horses. The duke exchanged a signal with
them. It was indeed for him that they were there.

Grimaud, meantime, undid the means of escape.

This was not, however, a rope ladder, but a ball of silk
cord, with a narrow board which was to pass between the
legs, the ball to unwind itself by the weight of the person
who sat astride upon the board.

"Go!" said the duke.

"First, my lord?" inquired Grimaud.

"Certainly. If I am caught, I risk nothing but being taken
back again to prison. If they catch thee, thou wilt be

"True," replied Grimaud.

And instantly, Grimaud, sitting upon the board as if on
horseback, commenced his perilous descent.

The duke followed him with his eyes, with involuntary
terror. He had gone down about three-quarters of the length
of the wall when the cord broke. Grimaud fell --
precipitated into the moat.

The duke uttered a cry, but Grimaud did not give a single
moan. He must have been dreadfully hurt, for he did not stir
from the place where he fell.

Immediately one of the men who were waiting slipped down
into the moat, tied under Grimaud's shoulders the end of a
cord, and the remaining two, who held the other end, drew
Grimaud to them.

"Descend, my lord," said the man in the moat. "There are
only fifteen feet more from the top down here, and the grass
is soft."

The duke had already begun to descend. His task was the more
difficult, as there was no board to support him. He was
obliged to let himself down by his hands and from a height
of fifty feet. But as we have said he was active, strong,
and full of presence of mind. In less than five minutes he
arrived at the end of the cord. He was then only fifteen
feet from the ground, as the gentlemen below had told him.
He let go the rope and fell upon his feet, without receiving
any injury.

He instantly began to climb up the slope of the moat, on the
top of which he met De Rochefort. The other two gentlemen
were unknown to him. Grimaud, in a swoon, was tied securely
to a horse.

"Gentlemen," said the duke, "I will thank you later; now we
have not a moment to lose. On, then! on! those who love me,
follow me!"

And he jumped on his horse and set off at full gallop,
snuffing the fresh air in his triumph and shouting out, with
an expression of face which it would be impossible to

"Free! free! free!"


The timely Arrival of D'Artagnan in Paris.

At Blois, D'Artagnan received the money paid to him by
Mazarin for any future service he might render the cardinal.

From Blois to Paris was a journey of four days for ordinary
travelers, but D'Artagnan arrived on the third day at the
Barriere Saint Denis. In turning the corner of the Rue
Montmartre, in order to reach the Rue Tiquetonne and the
Hotel de la Chevrette, where he had appointed Porthos to
meet him, he saw at one of the windows of the hotel, that
friend himself dressed in a sky-blue waistcoat, embroidered
with silver, and gaping, till he showed every one of his
white teeth; whilst the people passing by admiringly gazed
at this gentleman, so handsome and so rich, who seemed to
weary of his riches and his greatness.

D'Artagnan and Planchet had hardly turned the corner when
Porthos recognized them.

"Eh! D'Artagnan!" he cried. "Thank God you have come!"

"Eh! good-day, dear friend!" replied D'Artagnan.

Porthos came down at once to the threshold of the hotel.

"Ah, my dear friend!" he cried, "what bad stabling for my
horses here."

"Indeed!" said D'Artagnan; "I am most unhappy to hear it, on
account of those fine animals."

"And I, also -- I was also wretchedly off," he answered,
moving backward and forward as he spoke; "and had it not
been for the hostess," he added, with his air of vulgar
self-complacency, "who is very agreeable and understands a
joke, I should have got a lodging elsewhere."

The pretty Madeleine, who had approached during this
colloquy, stepped back and turned pale as death on hearing
Porthos's words, for she thought the scene with the Swiss
was about to be repeated. But to her great surprise
D'Artagnan remained perfectly calm, and instead of being
angry he laughed, and said to Porthos:

"Yes, I understand, the air of La Rue Tiquetonne is not like
that of Pierrefonds; but console yourself, I will soon
conduct you to one much better."

"When will you do that?"

"Immediately, I hope."

"Ah! so much the better!"

To that exclamation of Porthos's succeeded a groaning, low
and profound, which seemed to come from behind a door.
D'Artagnan, who had just dismounted, then saw, outlined
against the wall, the enormous stomach of Mousqueton, whose
down-drawn mouth emitted sounds of distress.

"And you, too, my poor Monsieur Mouston, are out of place in
this poor hotel, are you not?" asked D'Artagnan, in that
rallying tone which may indicate either compassion or

"He finds the cooking detestable," replied Porthos.

"Why, then, doesn't he attend to it himself, as at

"Ah, monsieur, I have not here, as I had there, the ponds of
monsieur le prince, where I could catch those beautiful
carp, nor the forests of his highness to provide me with
partridges. As for the cellar, I have searched every part
and poor stuff I found."

"Monsieur Mouston," said D'Artagnan, "I should indeed
condole with you had I not at this moment something very
pressing to attend to."

Then taking Porthos aside:

"My dear Du Vallon," he said, "here you are in full dress
most fortunately, for I am going to take you to the

"Gracious me! really!" exclaimed Porthos, opening his great
wondering eyes.

"Yes, my friend."

"A presentation? indeed!"

"Does that alarm you?"

"No, but it agitates me."

"Oh! don't be distressed; you have to deal with a cardinal
of another kind. This one will not oppress you by his

"'Tis the same thing -- you understand me, D'Artagnan -- a

"There's no court now. Alas!"

"The queen!"

"I was going to say, there's no longer a queen. The queen!
Rest assured, we shall not see her."

"And you say that we are going from here to the Palais

"Immediately. Only, that there may be no delay, I shall
borrow one of your horses."

"Certainly; all the four are at your service."

"Oh, I need only one of them for the time being."

"Shall we take our valets?"

"Yes, you may as well take Mousqueton. As to Planchet, he has
certain reasons for not going to court."

"And what are they?"

"Oh, he doesn't stand well with his eminence."

"Mouston," said Porthos, "saddle Vulcan and Bayard."

"And for myself, monsieur, shall I saddle Rustaud?"

"No, take a more stylish horse, Phoebus or Superbe; we are
going with some ceremony."

"Ah," said Mousqueton, breathing more freely, "you are only
going, then, to make a visit?"

"Oh! yes, of course, Mouston; nothing else. But to avoid
risk, put the pistols in the holsters. You will find mine on
my saddle, already loaded."

Mouston breathed a sigh; he couldn't understand visits of
ceremony made under arms.

"Indeed," said Porthos, looking complacently at his old
lackey as he went away, "you are right, D'Artagnan; Mouston
will do; Mouston has a very fine appearance."

D'Artagnan smiled.

"But you, my friend -- are you not going to change your

"No, I shall go as I am. This traveling dress will serve to
show the cardinal my haste to obey his commands."

They set out on Vulcan and Bayard, followed by Mousqueton on
Phoebus, and arrived at the Palais Royal at about a quarter
to seven. The streets were crowded, for it was the day of
Pentecost, and the crowd looked in wonder at these two
cavaliers; one as fresh as if he had come out of a bandbox,
the other so covered with dust that he looked as if he had
but just come off a field of battle.

Mousqueton also attracted attention; and as the romance of
Don Quixote was then the fashion, they said that he was
Sancho, who, after having lost one master, had found two.

On reaching the palace, D'Artagnan sent to his eminence the
letter in which he had been ordered to return without delay.
He was soon ordered to the presence of the cardinal.

"Courage!" he whispered to Porthos, as they proceeded. "Do
not be intimidated. Believe me, the eye of the eagle is
closed forever. We have only the vulture to deal with. Hold
yourself as bolt upright as on the day of the bastion of St.
Gervais, and do not bow too low to this Italian; that might
give him a poor idea of you."

"Good!" answered Porthos. "Good!"

Mazarin was in his study, working at a list of pensions and
benefices, of which he was trying to reduce the number. He
saw D'Artagnan and Porthos enter with internal pleasure, yet
showed no joy in his countenance.

"Ah! you, is it? Monsieur le lieutenant, you have been very
prompt. 'Tis well. Welcome to ye."

"Thanks, my lord. Here I am at your eminence's service, as
well as Monsieur du Vallon, one of my old friends, who used
to conceal his nobility under the name of Porthos."

Porthos bowed to the cardinal.

"A magnificent cavalier," remarked Mazarin.

Porthos turned his head to the right and to the left, and
drew himself up with a movement full of dignity.

"The best swordsman in the kingdom, my lord," said

Porthos bowed to his friend.

Mazarin was as fond of fine soldiers as, in later times,
Frederick of Prussia used to be. He admired the strong
hands, the broad shoulders and the steady eye of Porthos. He
seemed to see before him the salvation of his administration
and of the kingdom, sculptured in flesh and bone. He
remembered that the old association of musketeers was
composed of four persons.

"And your two other friends?" he asked.

Porthos opened his mouth, thinking it a good opportunity to
put in a word in his turn; D'Artagnan checked him by a
glance from the corner of his eye.

"They are prevented at this moment, but will join us later."

Mazarin coughed a little.

"And this gentleman, being disengaged, takes to the service
willingly?" he asked.

"Yes, my lord, and from pure devotion to the cause, for
Monsieur de Bracieux is rich."

"Rich!" said Mazarin, whom that single word always inspired
with a great respect.

"Fifty thousand francs a year," said Porthos.

These were the first words he had spoken.

"From pure zeal?" resumed Mazarin, with his artful smile;
"from pure zeal and devotion then?"

"My lord has, perhaps, no faith in those words?" said

"Have you, Monsieur le Gascon?" asked Mazarin, supporting
his elbows on his desk and his chin on his hands.

"I," replied the Gascon, "I believe in devotion as a word at
one's baptism, for instance, which naturally comes before
one's proper name; every one is naturally more or less
devout, certainly; but there should be at the end of one's
devotion something to gain."

"And your friend, for instance; what does he expect to have
at the end of his devotion?"

"Well, my lord, my friend has three magnificent estates:
that of Vallon, at Corbeil; that of Bracieux, in the
Soissonais; and that of Pierrefonds, in the Valois. Now, my
lord, he would like to have one of his three estates erected
into a barony."

"Only that?" said Mazarin, his eyes twinkling with joy on
seeing that he could pay for Porthos's devotion without
opening his purse; "only that? That can be managed."

"I shall be baron!" explained Porthos, stepping forward.

"I told you so," said D'Artagnan, checking him with his
hand; "and now his eminence confirms it."

"And you, Monsieur D'Artagnan, what do you want?"

"My lord," said D'Artagnan, "it is twenty years since
Cardinal de Richelieu made me lieutenant."

"Yes, and you would be gratified if Cardinal Mazarin should
make you captain."

D'Artagnan bowed.

"Well, that is not impossible. We will see, gentlemen, we
will see. Now, Monsieur de Vallon," said Mazarin, "what
service do you prefer, in the town or in the country?"

Porthos opened his mouth to reply.

"My lord," said D'Artagnan, "Monsieur de Vallon is like me,
he prefers service extraordinary -- that is to say,
enterprises that are considered mad and impossible."

That boastfulness was not displeasing to Mazarin; he fell
into meditation.

"And yet," he said, "I must admit that I sent for you to
appoint you to quiet service; I have certain apprehensions
-- well, what is the meaning of that?"

In fact, a great noise was heard in the ante-chamber; at the
same time the door of the study was burst open and a man,
covered with dust, rushed into it, exclaiming:

"My lord the cardinal! my lord the cardinal!"

Mazarin thought that some one was going to assassinate him
and he drew back, pushing his chair on the castors.
D'Artagnan and Porthos moved so as to plant themselves
between the person entering and the cardinal.

"Well, sir," exclaimed Mazarin, "what's the matter? and why
do you rush in here, as if you were about to penetrate a
crowded market-place?"

"My lord," replied the messenger, "I wish to speak to your
eminence in secret. I am Monsieur du Poins, an officer in
the guards, on duty at the donjon of Vincennes."

Mazarin, perceiving by the paleness and agitation of the
messenger that he had something of importance to say, made a
sign that D'Artagnan and Porthos should give place.

D'Artagnan and Porthos withdrew to a corner of the cabinet.

"Speak, monsieur, speak at once!" said Mazarin "What is the

"The matter is, my lord, that the Duc de Beaufort has
contrived to escape from the Chateau of Vincennes."

Mazarin uttered a cry and became paler than the man who had
brought the news. He fell back, almost fainting, in his

"Escaped? Monsieur de Beaufort escaped?"

"My lord, I saw him run off from the top of the terrace."

"And you did not fire on him?"

"He was out of range."

"Monsieur de Chavigny -- where was he?"


"And La Ramee?"

"Was found locked up in the prisoner's room, a gag in his
mouth and a poniard near him."

"But the man who was under him?"

"Was an accomplice of the duke's and escaped along with

Mazarin groaned.

"My lord," said D'Artagnan, advancing toward the cardinal,
"it seems to me that your eminence is losing precious time.
It may still be possible to overtake the prisoner. France is
large; the nearest frontier is sixty leagues distant."

"And who is to pursue him?" cried Mazarin.

"I, pardieu!"

"And you would arrest him?"

"Why not?"

"You would arrest the Duc de Beaufort, armed, in the field?"

"If your eminence should order me to arrest the devil, I
would seize him by the horns and would bring him in."

"So would I," said Porthos.

"So would you!" said Mazarin, looking with astonishment at
those two men. "But the duke will not yield himself without
a furious battle."

"Very well," said D'Artagnan, his eyes aflame, "battle! It
is a long time since we have had a battle, eh, Porthos?"

"Battle!" cried Porthos.

"And you think you can catch him?"

"Yes, if we are better mounted than he."

"Go then, take what guards you find here, and pursue him."

"You command us, my lord, to do so?"

"And I sign my orders," said Mazarin, taking a piece of
paper and writing some lines; "Monsieur du Vallon, your
barony is on the back of the Duc de Beaufort's horse; you
have nothing to do but to overtake it. As for you, my dear
lieutenant, I promise you nothing; but if you bring him back
to me, dead or alive, you may ask all you wish."

"To horse, Porthos!" said D'Artagnan, taking his friend by
the hand.

"Here I am," smiled Porthos, with his sublime composure.

They descended the great staircase, taking with them all the
guards they found on their road, and crying out, "To arms!
To arms!" and immediately put spur to horse, which set off
along the Rue Saint Honore with the speed of the whirlwind.

"Well, baron, I promise you some good exercise!" said the

"Yes, my captain."

As they went, the citizens, awakened, left their doors and
the street dogs followed the cavaliers, barking. At the
corner of the Cimetiere Saint Jean, D'Artagnan upset a man;
it was too insignificant an occurrence to delay people so
eager to get on. The troop continued its course as though
their steeds had wings.

Alas! there are no unimportant events in this world and we
shall see that this apparently slight incident came near
endangering the monarchy.


An Adventure on the High Road.

The musketeers rode the whole length of the Faubourg Saint
Antoine and of the road to Vincennes, and soon found
themselves out of the town, then in a forest and then within
sight of a village.

The horses seemed to become more lively with each successive
step; their nostrils reddened like glowing furnaces.
D'Artagnan, freely applying his spurs, was in advance of
Porthos two feet at the most; Mousqueton followed two lengths
behind; the guards were scattered according to the varying
excellence of their respective mounts.

From the top of an eminence D'Artagnan perceived a group of
people collected on the other side of the moat, in front of
that part of the donjon which looks toward Saint Maur. He
rode on, convinced that in this direction he would gain
intelligence of the fugitive. In five minutes he had arrived
at the place, where the guards joined him, coming up one by

The several members of that group were much excited. They
looked at the cord, still hanging from the loophole and
broken at about twenty feet from the ground. Their eyes
measured the height and they exchanged conjectures. On the
top of the wall sentinels went and came with a frightened

A few soldiers, commanded by a sergeant, drove away idlers
from the place where the duke had mounted his horse.
D'Artagnan went straight to the sergeant.

"My officer," said the sergeant, "it is not permitted to
stop here."

"That prohibition is not for me," said D'Artagnan. "Have the
fugitives been pursued?"

"Yes, my officer; unfortunately, they are well mounted."

"How many are there?"

"Four, and a fifth whom they carried away wounded."

"Four!" said D'Artagnan, looking at Porthos. "Do you hear,
baron? They are only four!"

A joyous smile lighted Porthos's face.

"How long a start have they?"

"Two hours and a quarter, my officer."

"Two hours and a quarter -- that is nothing; we are well
mounted, are we not, Porthos?"

Porthos breathed a sigh; he thought of what was in store for
his poor horses.

"Very good," said D'Artagnan; "and now in what direction did
they set out?"

"That I am forbidden to tell."

D'Artagnan drew from his pocket a paper. "Order of the
king," he said.

"Speak to the governor, then."

"And where is the governor?"

"In the country."

Anger mounted to D'Artagnan's face; he frowned and his
cheeks were colored.

"Ah, you scoundrel!" he said to the sergeant, "I believe you
are impudent to me! Wait!"

He unfolded the paper, presented it to the sergeant with one
hand and with the other took a pistol from his holsters and
cocked it.

"Order of the king, I tell you. Read and answer, or I will
blow out your brains!"

The sergeant saw that D'Artagnan was in earnest. "The
Vendomois road," he replied.

"And by what gate did they go out?"

"By the Saint Maur gate."

"If you are deceiving me, rascal, you will be hanged

"And if you catch up with them you won't come back to hang
me," murmured the sergeant.

D'Artagnan shrugged his shoulders, made a sign to his escort
and started.

"This way, gentlemen, this way!" he cried, directing his
course toward the gate that had been pointed out.

But, now that the duke had escaped, the concierge had seen
fit to fasten the gate with a double lock. It was necessary
to compel him to open it, as the sergeant had been compelled
to speak, and this took another ten minutes. This last
obstacle having been overcome, the troop pursued their
course with their accustomed ardor; but some of the horses
could no longer sustain this pace; three of them stopped
after an hour's gallop, and one fell down.

D'Artagnan, who never turned his head, did not perceive it.
Porthos told him of it in his calm manner.

"If only we two arrive," said D'Artagnan, "it will be
enough, since the duke's troop are only four in number."

"That is true," said Porthos

And he spurred his courser on.

At the end of another two hours the horses had gone twelve
leagues without stopping; their legs began to tremble, and
the foam they shed whitened the doublets of their masters.

"Let us rest here an instant to give these poor creatures
breathing time," said Porthos.

"Let us rather kill them! yes, kill them!" cried D'Artagnan;
"I see fresh tracks; 'tis not a quarter of an hour since
they passed this place."

In fact, the road was trodden by horses' feet, visible even
in the approaching gloom of evening.

They set out; after a run of two leagues, Mousqueton's horse

"Gracious me!" said Porthos, "there's Phoebus ruined."

"The cardinal will pay you a hundred pistoles."

"I'm above that."

"Let us set out again, at full gallop."

"Yes, if we can."

But at last the lieutenant's horse refused to go on; he
could not breathe; one last spur, instead of making him
advance, made him fall.

"The devil!" exclaimed Porthos; "there's Vulcan foundered."

"Zounds!" cried D'Artagnan, "then we must stop! Give me your
horse, Porthos. What the devil are you doing?"

"By Jove, I am falling, or rather, Bayard is falling,"
answered Porthos.

All three then cried: "All's over."

"Hush!" said D'Artagnan.

"What is it?"

"I hear a horse."

"It belongs to one of our companions, who is overtaking us."

"No," said D'Artagnan, "it is in advance."

"That is another thing," said Porthos; and he listened
toward the quarter indicated by D'Artagnan.

"Monsieur," said Mousqueton, who, abandoning his horse on the
high road, had come on foot to rejoin his master, "Phoebus
could no longer hold out and ---- "

"Silence!" said Porthos.

In fact, at that moment a second neighing was borne to them
on the night wind.

"It is five hundred feet from here, in advance," said

"True, monsieur," said Mousqueton; "and five hundred feet
from here is a small hunting-house."

"Mousqueton, thy pistols," said D'Artagnan.

"I have them at hand, monsieur."

"Porthos, take yours from your holsters."

"I have them."

"Good!" said D'Artagnan, seizing his own; "now you
understand, Porthos?"

"Not too well."

"We are out on the king's service."


"For the king's service we need horses."

"That is true," said Porthos.

"Then not a word, but set to work!"

They went on through the darkness, silent as phantoms; they
saw a light glimmering in the midst of some trees.

"Yonder is the house, Porthos," said the Gascon; "let me do
what I please and do you what I do."

They glided from tree to tree till they arrived at twenty
steps from the house unperceived and saw by means of a
lantern suspended under a hut, four fine horses. A groom was
rubbing them down; near them were saddles and bridles.

D'Artagnan approached quickly, making a sign to his two
companions to remain a few steps behind.

"I buy those horses," he said to the groom.

The groom turned toward him with a look of surprise, but
made no reply.

"Didn't you hear, fellow?"

"Yes, I heard."

"Why, then, didn't you reply?"

"Because these horses are not to be sold," was the reply.

"I take them, then," said the lieutenant.

And he took hold of one within his reach; his two companions
did the same thing.

"Sir," cried the groom, "they have traversed six leagues and
have only been unsaddled half an hour."

"Half an hour's rest is enough " replied the Gascon.

The groom cried aloud for help. A kind of steward appeared,
just as D'Artagnan and his companions were prepared to
mount. The steward attempted to expostulate.

"My dear friend," cried the lieutenant, "if you say a word I
will blow out your brains."

"But, sir," answered the steward, "do you know that these
horses belong to Monsieur de Montbazon?"

"So much the better; they must be good animals, then."

"Sir, I shall call my people."

"And I, mine; I've ten guards behind me, don't you hear them
gallop? and I'm one of the king's musketeers. Come, Porthos;
come, Mousqueton."

They all mounted the horses as quickly as possible.

"Halloo! hi! hi!" cried the steward; "the house servants,
with the carbines!"

"On! on!" cried D'Artagnan; "there'll be firing! on!"

They all set off, swift as the wind.

"Here!" cried the steward, "here!" whilst the groom ran to a
neighboring building.

"Take care of your horses!" cried D'Artagnan to him.

"Fire!" replied the steward.

A gleam, like a flash of lightning, illumined the road, and
with the flash was heard the whistling of balls, which were
fired wildly in the air.

"They fire like grooms," said Porthos. "In the time of the
cardinal people fired better than that, do you remember the
road to Crevecoeur, Mousqueton?"

"Ah, sir! my left side still pains me!"

"Are you sure we are on the right track, lieutenant?"

"Egad, didn't you hear? these horses belong to Monsieur de
Montbazon; well, Monsieur de Montbazon is the husband of
Madame de Montbazon ---- "

"And ---- "

"And Madame de Montbazon is the mistress of the Duc de

"Ah! I understand," replied Porthos; "she has ordered relays
of horses."

"Exactly so."

"And we are pursuing the duke with the very horses he has
just left?"

"My dear Porthos, you are really a man of most superior
understanding," said D'Artagnan, with a look as if he spoke
against his conviction.

"Pooh!" replied Porthos, "I am what I am."

They rode on for an hour, till the horses were covered with
foam and dust.

"Zounds! what is yonder?" cried D'Artagnan.

"You are very lucky if you see anything such a night as
this," said Porthos.

"Something bright."

"I, too," cried Mousqueton, "saw them also."

"Ah! ah! have we overtaken them?"

"Good! a dead horse!" said D'Artagnan, pulling up his horse,
which shied; "it seems their horses, too, are breaking down,
as well as ours."

"I seem to hear the noise of a troop of horsemen," exclaimed
Porthos, leaning over his horse's mane.


"They appear to be numerous."

"Then 'tis something else."

"Another horse!" said Porthos.


"No, dying."


"Yes, saddled and bridled."

"Then we are upon the fugitives."

"Courage, we have them!"

"But if they are numerous," observed Mousqueton, "'tis not we
who have them, but they who have us."

"Nonsense!" cried D'Artagnan, "they'll suppose us to be
stronger than themselves, as we're in pursuit; they'll be
afraid and will disperse."

"Certainly," remarked Porthos.

"Ah! do you see?" cried the lieutenant.

"The lights again! this time I, too, saw them," said

"On! on! forward! forward!" cried D'Artagnan, in his
stentorian voice; "we shall laugh over all this in five

And they darted on anew. The horses, excited by pain and
emulation, raced over the dark road, in the midst of which
was now seen a moving mass, denser and more obscure than the
rest of the horizon.


The Rencontre.

They rode on in this way for ten minutes. Suddenly two dark
forms seemed to separate from the mass, advanced, grew in
size, and as they loomed up larger and larger, assumed the
appearance of two horsemen.

"Aha!" cried D'Artagnan, "they're coming toward us."

"So much the worse for them," said Porthos.

"Who goes there?" cried a hoarse voice.

The three horsemen made no reply, stopped not, and all that
was heard was the noise of swords drawn from the scabbards
and the cocking of the pistols with which the two phantoms
were armed.

"Bridle in mouth!" said D'Artagnan.

Porthos understood him and he and the lieutenant each drew
with the left hand a pistol from their bolsters and cocked
it in their turn.

"Who goes there?" was asked a second time. "Not a step
forward, or you're dead men."

"Stuff!" cried Porthos, almost choked with dust and chewing
his bridle as a horse chews his bit. "Stuff and nonsense; we
have seen plenty of dead men in our time."

Hearing these words, the two shadows blockaded the road and
by the light of the stars might be seen the shining of their

"Back!" shouted D'Artagnan, "or you are dead!"

Two shots were the reply to this threat; but the assailants
attacked their foes with such velocity that in a moment they
were upon them; a third pistol-shot was heard, aimed by
D'Artagnan, and one of his adversaries fell. As for Porthos,
he assaulted the foe with such violence that, although his
sword was thrust aside, the enemy was thrown off his horse
and fell about ten steps from it.

"Finish, Mouston, finish the work!" cried Porthos. And he
darted on beside his friend, who had already begun a fresh

"Well?" said Porthos.

"I've broken my man's skull," cried D'Artagnan. "And you
---- "

"I've only thrown the fellow down, but hark!"

Another shot of a carbine was heard. It was Mousqueton, who
was obeying his master's command.

"On! on!" cried D'Artagnan; "all goes well! we have the
first throw."

"Ha! ha!" answered Porthos, "behold, other players appear."

And in fact, two other cavaliers made their appearance,
detached, as it seemed, from the principal group; they again
disputed the road.

This time the lieutenant did not wait for the opposite party
to speak.

"Stand aside!" he cried; "stand off the road!"

"What do you want?" asked a voice.

"The duke!" Porthos and D'Artagnan roared out both at once.

A burst of laughter was the answer, but finished with a
groan. D'Artagnan had, with his sword, cut in two the poor
wretch who had laughed.

At the same time Porthos and his adversary fired on each
other and D'Artagnan turned to him.

"Bravo! you've killed him, I think."

"No, wounded his horse only."

"What would you have, my dear fellow? One doesn't hit the
bull's-eye every time; it is something to hit inside the
ring. Ho! parbleau! what is the matter with my horse?"

"Your horse is falling," said Porthos, reining in his own.

In truth, the lieutenant's horse stumbled and fell on his
knees; then a rattling in his throat was heard and he lay
down to die. He had received in the chest the bullet of
D'Artagnan's first adversary. D'Artagnan swore loud enough
to be heard in the skies.

"Does your honor want a horse?" asked Mousqueton.

"Zounds! want one!" cried the Gascon.

"Here's one, your honor ---- "

"How the devil hast thou two horses?" asked D'Artagnan,
jumping on one of them.

"Their masters are dead! I thought they might be useful, so
I took them."

Meantime Porthos had reloaded his pistols.

"Be on the qui vive!" cried D'Artagnan. "Here are two other

As he spoke, two horsemen advanced at full speed.

"Ho! your honor!" cried Mousqueton, "the man you upset is
getting up."

"Why didn't thou do as thou didst to the first man?" said

"I held the horses, my hands were full, your honor."

A shot was fired that moment; Mousqueton shrieked with pain.

"Ah, sir! I'm hit in the other side! exactly opposite the
other! This hurt is just the fellow of the one I had on the
road to Amiens."

Porthos turned around like a lion, plunged on the dismounted
cavalier, who tried to draw his sword; but before it was out
of the scabbard, Porthos, with the hilt of his had struck
him such a terrible blow on the head that he fell like an ox
beneath the butcher's knife.

Mousqueton, groaning, slipped from his horse, his wound not
allowing him to keep the saddle.

On perceiving the cavaliers, D'Artagnan had stopped and
charged his pistol afresh; besides, his horse, he found, had
a carbine on the bow of the saddle.

"Here I am!" exclaimed Porthos. "Shall we wait, or shall we

"Let us charge them," answered the Gascon.

"Charge!" cried Porthos.

They spurred on their horses; the other cavaliers were only
twenty steps from them.

"For the king!" cried D'Artagnan.

"The king has no authority here!" answered a deep voice,
which seemed to proceed from a cloud, so enveloped was the
cavalier in a whirlwind of dust.

"'Tis well, we will see if the king's name is not a passport
everywhere," replied the Gascon.

"See!" answered the voice.

Two shots were fired at once, one by D'Artagnan, the other
by the adversary of Porthos. D'Artagnan's ball took off his
enemy's hat. The ball fired by Porthos's foe went through
the throat of his horse, which fell, groaning.

"For the last time, where are you going?"

"To the devil!" answered D'Artagnan.

"Good! you may be easy, then -- you'll get there."

D'Artagnan then saw a musket-barrel leveled at him; he had
no time to draw from his holsters. He recalled a bit of
advice which Athos had once given him, and made his horse

The ball struck the animal full in front. D'Artagnan felt
his horse giving way under him and with his wonderful
agility threw himself to one side.

"Ah! this," cried the voice, the tone of which was at once
polished and jeering, "this is nothing but a butchery of
horses and not a combat between men. To the sword, sir! the

And he jumped off his horse.

"To the swords! be it so!" replied D'Artagnan; "that is
exactly what I want."

D'Artagnan, in two steps, was engaged with the foe, whom,
according to custom, he attacked impetuously, but he met
this time with a skill and a strength of arm that gave him
pause. Twice he was obliged to step back; his opponent
stirred not one inch. D'Artagnan returned and again attacked

Twice or thrice thrusts were attempted on both sides,
without effect; sparks were emitted from the swords like
water spouting forth.

At last D'Artagnan thought it was time to try one of his
favorite feints in fencing. He brought it to bear,
skillfully executed it with the rapidity of lightning, and
struck the blow with a force which he fancied would prove

The blow was parried.

"'Sdeath!" he cried, with his Gascon accent.

At this exclamation his adversary bounded back and, bending
his bare head, tried to distinguish in the gloom the
features of the lieutenant.

As to D'Artagnan, afraid of some feint, he still stood on
the defensive.

"Have a care," cried Porthos to his opponent; "I've still
two pistols charged."

"The more reason you should fire the first!" cried his foe.

Porthos fired; the flash threw a gleam of light over the
field of battle.

As the light shone on them a cry was heard from the other
two combatants.

"Athos!" exclaimed D'Artagnan.

"D'Artagnan!" ejaculated Athos.

Athos raised his sword; D'Artagnan lowered his.

"Aramis!" cried Athos, "don't fire!"

"Ah! ha! is it you, Aramis?" said Porthos.

And he threw away his pistol.

Aramis pushed his back into his saddle-bags and sheathed his

"My son!" exclaimed Athos, extending his hand to D'Artagnan.

This was the name which he gave him in former days, in their
moments of tender intimacy.

"Athos!" cried D'Artagnan, wringing his hands. "So you
defend him! And I, who have sworn to take him dead or alive,
I am dishonored -- and by you!"

"Kill me!" replied Athos, uncovering his breast, "if your
honor requires my death."

"Oh! woe is me! woe is me!" cried the lieutenant; "there's
only one man in the world who could stay my hand; by a
fatality that very man bars my way. What shall I say to the

"You can tell him, sir," answered a voice which was the
voice of high command in the battle-field, "that he sent
against me the only two men capable of getting the better of
four men; of fighting man to man, without discomfiture,
against the Comte de la Fere and the Chevalier d'Herblay,
and of surrendering only to fifty men!

"The prince!" exclaimed at the same moment Athos and Aramis,
unmasking as they addressed the Duc de Beaufort, whilst
D'Artagnan and Porthos stepped backward.

"Fifty cavaliers!" cried the Gascon and Porthos.

"Look around you, gentlemen, if you doubt the fact," said
the duke.

The two friends looked to the right, to the left; they were
encompassed by a troop of horsemen.

"Hearing the noise of the fight," resumed the duke, "I
fancied you had about twenty men with you, so I came back
with those around me, tired of always running away, and
wishing to draw my sword in my own cause; but you are only

"Yes, my lord; but, as you have said, two that are a match
for twenty," said Athos.

"Come, gentlemen, your swords," said the duke.

"Our swords!" cried D'Artagnan, raising his head and
regaining his self-possession. "Never!"

"Never!" added Porthos.

Some of the men moved toward them.

"One moment, my lord," whispered Athos, and he said
something in a low voice.

"As you will," replied the duke. "I am too much indebted to
you to refuse your first request. Gentlemen," he said to his
escort, "withdraw. Monsieur d'Artagnan, Monsieur du Vallon,
you are free."

The order was obeyed; D'Artagnan and Porthos then found
themselves in the centre of a large circle.

"Now, D'Herblay," said Athos, "dismount and come here."

Aramis dismounted and went to Porthos, whilst Athos
approached D'Artagnan.

All four once more together.

"Friends!" said Athos, "do you regret you have not shed our

"No," replied D'Artagnan; "I regret to see that we, hitherto
united, are opposed to each other. Ah! nothing will ever go
well with us hereafter!"

"Oh, Heaven! No, all is over!" said Porthos.

"Well, be on our side now," resumed Aramis.

"Silence, D'Herblay!" cried Athos; "such proposals are not
to be made to gentlemen such as these. 'Tis a matter of
conscience with them, as with us."

"Meantime, here we are, enemies!" said Porthos. "Gramercy!
who would ever have thought it?"

D'Artagnan only sighed.

Athos looked at them both and took their hands in his.

"Gentlemen," he said, "this is a serious business and my
heart bleeds as if you had pierced it through and through.
Yes, we are severed; there is the great, the distressing
truth! But we have not as yet declared war; perhaps we shall
have to make certain conditions, therefore a solemn
conference is indispensable."

"For my own part, I demand it," said Aramis.

"I accept it," interposed D'Artagnan, proudly.

Porthos bowed, as if in assent.

"Let us choose a place of rendezvous," continued Athos, "and
in a last interview arrange our mutual position and the
conduct we are to maintain toward each other."

"Good!" the other three exclaimed.

"Well, then, the place?"

"Will the Place Royale suit you?" asked D'Artagnan.

"In Paris?"


Athos and Aramis looked at each other.

"The Place Royale -- be it so!" replied Athos.


"To-morrow evening, if you like!"

"At what hour?"

"At ten in the evening, if that suits you; by that time we
shall have returned."


"There," continued Athos, "either peace or war will be
decided; honor, at all events, will be maintained!"

"Alas!" murmured D'Artagnan, "our honor as soldiers is lost
to us forever!"

"D'Artagnan," said Athos, gravely, "I assure you that you do
me wrong in dwelling so upon that. What I think of is, that
we have crossed swords as enemies. Yes," he continued, sadly
shaking his head, "Yes, it is as you said, misfortune,
indeed, has overtaken us. Come, Aramis."

"And we, Porthos," said D'Artagnan, "will return, carrying
our shame to the cardinal."

"And tell him," cried a voice, "that I am not too old yet
for a man of action."

D'Artagnan recognized the voice of De Rochefort.

"Can I do anything for you, gentlemen?" asked the duke.

"Bear witness that we have done all that we could."

"That shall be testified to, rest assured. Adieu! we shall

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