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  • 1847
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all this mistrust. Porthos thought of no evil. Perhaps, on first seeing him, D’Artagnan had inspired him with a little suspicion, but almost immediately D’Artagnan had reconquered in that good and brave heart the place he had always occupied, and not the least cloud darkened the large eye of Porthos, fixed from time to time with tenderness on his friend.

On landing, Porthos inquired if his horses were waiting, and soon perceived them at the crossing of the road that winds round Sarzeau, and which, without passing through that little city, leads towards Vannes. These horses were two in number, one for M. de Vallon, and one for his equerry; for Porthos had an equerry since Mouston was only able to use a carriage as a means of locomotion. D’Artagnan expected that Porthos would propose to send forward his equerry upon one horse to bring back another, and he — D’Artagnan — had made up his mind to oppose this proposition. But nothing D’Artagnan had expected happened. Porthos simply told the equerry to dismount and await his return at Sarzeau, whilst D’Artagnan would ride his horse; which was arranged.

“Eh! but you are quite a man of precaution, my dear Porthos,” said D’Artagnan to his friend, when he found himself in the saddle, upon the equerry’s horse.

“Yes, but this is a kindness on the part of Aramis. I have not my stud here, and Aramis has placed his stables at my disposal.”

“Good horses for bishop’s horses, mordioux!” said D’Artagnan. “It is true, Aramis is a bishop of a peculiar kind.”

“He is a holy man!” replied Porthos, in a tone almost nasal, and with his eyes raised towards heaven.

“Then he is much changed,” said D’Artagnan; “you and I have known him passably profane.”

“Grace has touched him,” said Porthos.

“Bravo,” said D’Artagnan, “that redoubles my desire to see my dear old friend.” And he spurred his horse, which sprang off into a more rapid pace.

“Peste!” said Porthos, “if we go on at this rate, we shall only take one hour instead of two.”

“To go how far, do you say, Porthos?”

“Four leagues and a half.”

“That will be a good pace.”

“I could have embarked you on the canal, but the devil take rowers and boat-horses! The first are like tortoises; the second like snails; and when a man is able to put a good horse between his knees, that horse is better than rowers or any other means.”

“You are right; you above all, Porthos, who always look magnificent on horseback.”

“Rather heavy, my friend; I was weighed the other day.”

“And what do you weigh?”

“Three hundred-weight!” said Porthos, proudly.


“So that you must perceive, I am forced to choose horses whose loins are straight and wide, otherwise I break them down in two hours.”

“Yes, giant’s horses you must have, must you not?”

“You are very polite, my friend,” replied the engineer, with affectionate majesty.

“As a case in point,” replied D’Artagnan, “your horse seems to sweat already.”

“Dame! It is hot! Ah, ah! do you see Vannes now?”

“Yes, perfectly. It is a handsome city, apparently.”

“Charming, according to Aramis, at least, but I think it black; but black seems to be considered handsome by artists: I am sorry for it.”

“Why so, Porthos?”

“Because I have lately had my chateau of Pierrefonds which was gray with age, plastered white.”

“Humph!” said D’Artagnan, “and white is more cheerful.”

“Yes, but it is less august, as Aramis tells me. Fortunately there are dealers in black as well as white. I will have Pierrefonds replastered in black; that’s all there is about it. If gray is handsome, you understand, my friend, black must be superb.”

“Dame!” said D’Artagnan, “that appears logical.”

“Were you never at Vannes, D’Artagnan?”


“Then you know nothing of the city?”


“Well, look!” said Porthos, raising himself in his stirrups, which made the fore-quarters of his horse bend sadly — “do you see that corner, in the sun, yonder?”

“Yes, I see it plainly.”

“Well, that is the cathedral.”

“Which is called?”

“Saint-Pierre. Now look again — in the faubourg on the left, do you see another cross?”

“Perfectly well.”

“That is Saint-Paterne, the parish preferred by Aramis.”


“Without doubt. Saint-Paterne, you see, passes for having been the first bishop of Vannes. It is true that Aramis pretends he was not. But he is so learned that that may be only a paro — a para —“

“A paradox,” said D’Artagnan.

“Precisely; thank you! my tongue trips, I am so hot.”

“My friend,” said D’Artagnan, “continue your interesting description, I beg. What is that large white building with many windows?”

“Oh! that is the college of the Jesuits. Pardieu! you have an apt hand. Do you see, close to the college, a large house with steeples, turrets, built in a handsome Gothic style, as that fool, M. Getard, says?”

“Yes, that is plainly to be seen. Well?”

“Well, that is where Aramis resides.”

“What! does he not reside at the episcopal palace?”

“No, that is in ruins. The palace likewise is in the city, and Aramis prefers the faubourgs. That is why, as I told you, he is partial to Saint-Paterne; Saint-Paterne is in the faubourg. Besides, there are in this faubourg a mall, a tennis-court, and a house of Dominicans. Look, that where the handsome steeple rises to the heavens.”


“Next, you see the faubourg is like a separate city, it has its walls, its towers, its ditches; the quay is upon it likewise, and the boats land at the quay. If our little corsair did not draw eight feet of water, we could have come full sail up to Aramis’s windows.”

“Porthos, Porthos,” cried D’Artagnan, “you are a well of knowledge, a spring of ingenious and profound reflections. Porthos, you no longer surprise me, you confound me.”

“Here we are,” said Porthos, turning the conversation with his usual modesty.

“And high time we were,” thought D’Artagnan, “for Aramis’s horse is melting away like a steed of ice.”

They entered almost at the same instant the faubourg; but scarcely had they gone a hundred paces when they were surprised to find the streets strewed with leaves and flowers. Against the old walls of Vannes hung the oldest and the strangest tapestries of France. From over balconies fell long white sheets stuck all over with bouquets. The streets were deserted; it was plain the entire population was assembled on one point. The blinds were closed, and the breeze penetrated into the houses under the hangings, which cast long, black shades between their places of issue and the walls. Suddenly, at the turning of a street, chants struck the ears of the newly arrived travelers. A crowd in holiday garb appeared through the vapors of incense which mounted to the heavens in blue fleeces, and clouds of rose-leaves fluttered as high as the first stories. Above all heads were to be seen the cross and banners, the sacred symbols of religion. Then, beneath these crosses and banners, as if protected by them, walked a whole world of young girls clothed in white, crowned with corn-flowers. At the two sides of the street, inclosing the cortege, marched the guards of the garrison, carrying bouquets in the barrels of their muskets and on the points of their lances. This was the procession.

Whilst D’Artagnan and Porthos were looking on with critical glances, which disguised an extreme impatience to get forward, a magnificent dais approached preceded by a hundred Jesuits and a hundred Dominicans, and escorted by two archdeacons, a treasurer, a penitent and twelve canons. A singer with a thundering voice — a man certainly picked out from all the voices of France, as was the drum-major of the imperial guard from all the giants of the empire — escorted by four other chanters, who appeared to be there only to serve him as an accompaniment, made the air resound, and the windows of the houses vibrate. Under the dais appeared a pale and noble countenance with black eyes, black hair streaked with threads of white, a delicate, compressed mouth, a prominent and angular chin. His head, full of graceful majesty, was covered with the episcopal mitre, a headdress which gave it, in addition to the character of sovereignty, that of asceticism and evangelic meditation.

“Aramis!” cried the musketeer, involuntarily, as this lofty countenance passed before him. The prelate started at the sound of the voice. He raised his large black eyes, with their long lashes, and turned them without hesitation towards the spot whence the exclamation proceeded. At a glance, he saw Porthos and D’Artagnan close to him. On his part, D’Artagnan, thanks to the keenness of his sight, had seen all, seized all. The full portrait of the prelate had entered his memory, never to leave it. One thing had particularly struck D’Artagnan. On perceiving him, Aramis had colored, then he had concentrated under his eyelids the fire of the look of the master, and the indefinable affection of the friend. It was evident that Aramis had asked himself this question: — “Why is D’Artagnan with Porthos, and what does he want at Vannes?” Aramis comprehended all that was passing in the mind of D’Artagnan, on turning his look upon him again, and seeing that he had not lowered his eyes. He knew the acuteness and intelligence of his friend, he feared to let him divine the secret of his blush and his astonishment. He was still the same Aramis, always having a secret to conceal. Therefore, to put an end to his look of an inquisitor which it was necessary to get rid of at all events, as, at any price, a general extinguishes a battery which annoys him, Aramis stretched forth his beautiful white hand, upon which sparkled the amethyst of the pastoral ring; he cut the air with sign of the cross, and poured out his benediction upon his two friends. Perhaps thoughtful and absent, D’Artagnan, impious in spite of himself, might not have bent beneath this holy benediction; but Porthos saw his distraction, and laying his friendly hand upon the back of his companion, he crushed him down towards the earth. D’Artagnan was forced to give way; indeed, he was little short of being flat on the ground. In the meantime Aramis had passed. D’Artagnan, like Antaeus, had only touched the ground, and he turned towards Porthos, almost angry. But there was no mistaking the intention of the brave Hercules; it was a feeling of religious propriety that had influenced him. Besides, speech with Porthos, instead of disguising his thought, always completed it.

“It is very polite of him,” said he, “to have given his benediction to us alone. Decidedly, he is a holy man, and a brave man.” Less convinced than Porthos, D’Artagnan made no reply.

“Observe, my friend,” continued Porthos, “he has seen us; and, instead of continuing to walk on at the simple pace of the procession, as he did just now, — see, what a hurry he is in; do you see how the cortege is increasing its speed? He is eager to join us and embrace us, is that dear Aramis.”

“That is true,” replied D’Artagnan, aloud. — Then to himself: — “It is equally true he has seen me, the fox, and will have time to prepare himself to receive me.”

But the procession had passed; the road was free. D’Artagnan and Porthos walked straight up to the episcopal palace, which was surrounded by a numerous crowd anxious to see the prelate return. D’Artagnan remarked that this crowd was composed principally of citizens and military men. He recognized in the nature of these partisans the address of his friend. Aramis was not the man to seek for a useless popularity. He cared very little for being beloved by people who could be of no service to him. Women, children, and old men, that is to say, the cortege of ordinary pastors, was not the cortege for him.

Ten minutes after the two friends had passed the threshold of the palace, Aramis returned like a triumphant conqueror; the soldiers presented arms to him as to a superior; the citizens bowed to him as to a friend and a patron, rather than as a head of the Church. There was something in Aramis resembling those Roman senators who had their doors always surrounded by clients. At the foot of the prison, he had a conference of half a minute with a Jesuit, who, in order to speak to him more secretly, passed his head under the dais. He then re-entered his palace; the doors closed slowly, and the crowd melted away, whilst chants and prayers were still resounding abroad. It was a magnificent day. Earthly perfumes were mingled with the perfumes of the air and the sea. The city breathed happiness, joy, and strength. D’Artagnan felt something like the presence of an invisible hand which had, all-powerfully, created this strength, this joy, this happiness, and spread everywhere these perfumes.

“Oh! oh!” said he, “Porthos has got fat; but Aramis is grown taller.”


The Grandeur of the Bishop of Vannes

Porthos and D’Artagnan had entered the bishop’s residence by a private door, as his personal friends. Of course, Porthos served D’Artagnan as guide. The worthy baron comported himself everywhere rather as if he were at home. Nevertheless, whether it was a tacit acknowledgment of the sanctity of the personage of Aramis and his character, or the habit of respecting him who imposed upon him morally, a worthy habit which had always made Porthos a model soldier and an excellent companion; for all these reasons, say we, Porthos preserved in the palace of His Greatness the Bishop of Vannes a sort of reserve which D’Artagnan remarked at once, in the attitude he took with respect to the valets and officers. And yet this reserve did not go so far as to prevent his asking questions. Porthos questioned. They learned that His Greatness had just returned to his apartment and was preparing to appear in familiar intimacy, less majestic than he had appeared with his flock. After a quarter of an hour, which D’Artagnan and Porthos passed in looking mutually at each other with the white of their eyes, and turning their thumbs in all the different evolutions which go from north to south, a door of the chamber opened and His Greatness appeared, dressed in the undress, complete, of a prelate. Aramis carried his head high, like a man accustomed to command: his violet robe was tucked up on one side, and his white hand was on his hip. He had retained the fine mustache, and the lengthened royale of the time of Louis XIII. He exhaled, on entering, that delicate perfume which, among elegant men and women of high fashion, never changes, and appears to be incorporated in the person, of whom it has become the natural emanation. In this case only, the perfume had retained something of the religious sublimity of incense. It no longer intoxicated, it penetrated; it no longer inspired desire, it inspired respect. Aramis, on entering the chamber did not hesitate an instant; and without pronouncing one word, which, whatever it might be, would have been cold on such an occasion, he went straight up to the musketeer, so well disguised under the costume of M. Agnan, and pressed him in his arms with a tenderness which the most distrustful could not have suspected of coldness or affectation.

D’Artagnan, on his part, embraced him with equal ardor. Porthos pressed the delicate hand of Aramis in his immense hands, and D’Artagnan remarked that His Greatness gave him his left hand, probably from habit, seeing that Porthos already ten times had been near injuring his fingers covered with rings, by pounding his flesh in the vise of his fist. Warned by the pain, Aramis was cautious, and only presented flesh to be bruised, and not fingers to be crushed, against gold or the angles of diamonds.

Between two embraces, Aramis looked D’Artagnan in the face, offered him a chair, sitting down himself in the shade, observing that the light fell full upon the face of his interlocutor. This maneuver, familiar to diplomatists and women, resembles much the advantage of the guard which, according to their skill or habit, combatants endeavor to take on the ground at a duel. D’Artagnan was not the dupe of this maneuver, but he did not appear to perceive it. He felt himself caught; but, precisely, because he was caught he felt himself on the road to discovery, and it little imported to him, old condottiere as he was, to be beaten in appearance, provided he drew from his pretended defeat the advantages of victory. Aramis began the conversation.

“Ah! dear friend! my good D’Artagnan,” said he, “what an excellent chance!”

“It is a chance, my reverend companion,” said D’Artagnan, “that I will call friendship. I seek you, as I always have sought you, when I had any grand enterprise to propose to you, or some hours of liberty to give you.”

“Ah! indeed,” said Aramis, without explosion, “you have been seeking me?”

“Eh! yes, he has been seeking you, Aramis,” said Porthos, “and the proof is that he has unharbored me at Belle-Isle. That is amiable, is it not?”

“Ah! yes,” said Aramis, “at Belle-Isle! certainly!”

“Good!” said D’Artagnan; “there is my booby Porthos, without thinking of it, has fired the first cannon of attack.”

“At Belle-Isle!” said Aramis, “in that hole, in that desert! That is kind, indeed!”

“And it was I who told him you were at Vannes,” continued Porthos, in the same tone.

D’Artagnan armed his mouth with a finesse almost ironical.

“Yes, I knew, but I was willing to see,” replied he.

“To see what?”

“If our old friendship still held out, if, on seeing each other, our hearts, hardened as they are by age, would still let the old cry of joy escape, which salutes the coming of a friend.”

“Well, and you must have been satisfied,” said Aramis.

“So, so.”

“How is that?”

“Yes, Porthos said hush! and you —- “

“Well! and I?”

“And you gave me your benediction.”

“What would you have, my friend?” said Aramis, smiling; “that is the most precious thing that a poor prelate, like me, has to give.”

“Indeed, my dear friend!”


“And yet they say at Paris that the bishopric of Vannes is one of the best in France.”

“Ah! you are now speaking of temporal wealth,” said Aramis, with a careless air.

“To be sure, I wish to speak of that; I hold by it, on my part.”

“In that case, let me speak of it,” said Aramis, with a smile.

“You own yourself to be one of the richest prelates in France?”

“My friend, since you ask me to give you an account, I will tell you that the bishopric of Vannes is worth about twenty thousand livres a year, neither more nor less. It is a diocese which contains a hundred and sixty parishes.”

“That is very pretty,” said D’Artagnan.

“It is superb!” said Porthos.

“And yet,” resumed D’Artagnan, throwing his eyes over Aramis, “you don’t mean to bury yourself here forever?”

“Pardon me. Only I do not admit the word bury.”

“But it seems to me, that at this distance from Paris a man is buried, or nearly so.”

“My friend, I am getting old,” said Aramis; “the noise and bustle of a city no longer suit me. At fifty-seven we ought to seek calm and meditation. I have found them here. What is there more beautiful, and stern at the same time, than this old Armorica. I find here, dear D’Artagnan, all that is opposite to what I formerly loved, and that is what must happen at the end of life, which is opposite to the beginning. A little of my odd pleasure of former times still comes to salute me here, now and then, without diverting me from the road of salvation. I am still of this world, and yet every step that I take brings me nearer to God.”

“Eloquent, wise and discreet; you are an accomplished prelate, Aramis, and I offer you my congratulations.”

“But,” said Aramis, smiling, “you did not come here only for the purpose of paying me compliments. Speak; what brings you hither! May it be that, in some fashion or other, you want me?”

“Thank God, no, my friend,” said D’Artagnan, “it is nothing of that kind. — I am rich and free.”

“Rich!” exclaimed Aramis.

“Yes, rich for me; not for you or Porthos, understand. I have an income of about fifteen thousand livres.

Aramis looked at him suspiciously. He could not believe — particularly on seeing his friend in such humble guise — that he had made so fine a fortune. Then D’Artagnan, seeing that the hour of explanations was come, related the history of his English adventures. During the recital he saw, ten times, the eyes of the prelate sparkle, and his slender fingers work convulsively. As to Porthos, it was not admiration he manifested for D’Artagnan; it was enthusiasm, it was delirium. When D’Artagnan had finished, “Well!” said Aramis.

“Well!” said D’Artagnan, “you see, then, I have in England friends and property, in France a treasure. If your heart tells you so, I offer them to you. That is what I came here for.”

However firm was his look, he could not this time support the look of Aramis. He allowed, therefore, his eye to stray upon Porthos — like the sword which yields to too powerful a pressure, and seeks another road.

“At all events,” said the bishop, “you have assumed a singular traveling costume, old friend.”

“Frightful! I know it is. You may understand why I would not travel as a cavalier or a noble; since I became rich, I am miserly.”

“And you say, then, you came to Belle-Isle?” said Aramis, without transition.

“Yes,” replied D’Artagnan; “I knew I should find you and Porthos there.”

“Find me!” cried Aramis. “Me! for the last year past I have not once crossed the sea.”

“Oh,” said D’Artagnan, “I should never have supposed you such a housekeeper.”

“Ah, dear friend, I must tell you that I am no longer the Aramis of former times. Riding on horseback is unpleasant to me; the sea fatigues me. I am a poor, ailing priest, always complaining, always grumbling, and inclined to the austerities which appear to accord with old age, — preliminary parlayings with death. I linger, my dear D’Artagnan, I linger.”

“Well, that is all the better, my friend, for we shall probably be neighbors soon.”

“Bah!” said Aramis with a degree of surprise he did not even seek to dissemble. “You my neighbor!”

“Mordioux! yes.”

“How so?”

“I am about to purchase some very profitable salt-mines, which are situated between Pirial and Croisic. Imagine, my friend, a clear profit of twelve per cent. Never any deficiency, never any idle expenses; the ocean, faithful and regular, brings every twelve hours its contingency to my coffers. I am the first Parisian who has dreamt of such a speculation. Do not say anything about it, I beg of you, and in a short time we will communicate on the matter. I am to have three leagues of country for thirty thousand livres.”

Aramis darted a look at Porthos, as if to ask if all this were true, if some snare were not concealed beneath this outward indifference. But soon, as if ashamed of having consulted this poor auxiliary, he collected all his forces for a fresh assault and new defense. “I heard that you had had some difference with the court but that you had come out of it as you know how to get through everything, D’Artagnan, with the honors of war.”

“I!” said the musketeer, with a burst of laughter that did not conceal his embarrassment, for, from these words, Aramis was not unlikely to be acquainted with his last relations with the king. “I! Oh, tell me all about that, pray, Aramis?”

“Yes, it was related to me, a poor bishop, lost in the middle of the Landes, that the king had taken you as the confidant of his amours.”

“With whom?”

“With Mademoiselle de Mancini.”

D’Artagnan breathed freely again. “Ah! I don’t say no to that,” replied he.

“It appears that the king took you one morning over the bridge of Blois to talk with his lady-love.”

“That’s true,” said D’Artagnan. “And you know that, do you? Well, then, you must know that the same day I gave in my resignation!”

“What, sincerely?”

“Nothing more so.”

“It was after that, then, that you went to the Comte de la Fere’s?”


“Afterwards to me?”


“And then Porthos?”


“Was it in order to pay us a simple visit?”

“No, I did not know you were engaged, and I wished to take you with me into England.”

“Yes, I understand; and then you executed alone, wonderful man as you are, what you wanted to propose to us all four. I suspected you had something to do with that famous restoration, when I learned that you had been seen at King Charles’s receptions, and that he appeared to treat you like a friend, or rather like a person to whom he was under an obligation.”

“But how the devil did you learn all that?” asked D’Artagnan, who began to fear that the investigation of Aramis had extended further than he wished.

“Dear D’Artagnan,” said the prelate, “my friendship resembles, in a degree, the solicitude of that night watch whom we have in the little tower of the mole, at the extremity of the quay. That brave man, every night, lights a lantern to direct the barks that come from sea. He is concealed in his sentry-box, and the fishermen do not see him; but he follows them with interest; he divines them; he calls them; he attracts them into the way to the port. I resemble this watcher: from time to time some news reaches me, and recalls to my remembrance all those I loved. Then I follow the friends of old days over the stormy ocean of the world, I, a poor watcher, to whom God has kindly given the shelter of a sentry-box.”

“Well, what did I do when I came from England?”

“Ah! there,” replied Aramis, “you get beyond my depth. I know nothing of you since your return. D’Artagnan, my eyes are dim. I regretted you did not think of me. I wept over your forgetfulness. I was wrong. I see you again, and it is a festival, a great festival, I assure you, solemnly! How is Athos?”

“Very well, thank you.”

“And our young pupil, Raoul?”

“He seems to have inherited the skill of his father, Athos, and the strength of his tutor, Porthos.”

“And on what occasion have you been able to judge of that?”

“Eh! mon Dieu! on the eve of my departure from Paris.”

“Indeed! tell me all about it!”

“Yes; there was an execution at the Greve, and in consequence of that execution, a riot. We happened by accident, to be in the riot; and in this riot we were obliged to have recourse to our swords. And he did wonders.”

“Bah! what did he do?”

“Why, in the first place, he threw a man out of the window, as he would have flung a sack full of flock.”

“Come, that’s pretty well,” said Porthos.

“Then he drew, and cut and thrust away, as we fellows used to do in the good old times.”

“And what was the cause of this riot?” said Porthos.

D’Artagnan remarked upon the face of Aramis a complete indifference to this question of Porthos. “Why,” said he, fixing his eyes upon Aramis, “on account of two farmers of the revenues, friends of M. Fouquet, whom the king forced to disgorge their plunder, and then hanged them.”

A scarcely perceptible contraction of the prelate’s brow showed that he had heard D’Artagnan’s reply.

“Oh, oh!” said Porthos; “and what were the names of these friends of M. Fouquet?”

“MM. d’Eymeris and Lyodot,” said D’Artagnan. “Do you know those names, Aramis?”

“No,” said the prelate, disdainfully; “they sound like the names of financiers.”

“Exactly; so they were.”

“Oh! M. Fouquet allows his friends to be hanged, then,” said Porthos.

“And why not?” said Aramis. “Why, it seems to me —- “

“If these culprits were hanged, it was by order of the king. Now M. Fouquet, although superintendent of the finances, has not, I believe, the right of life and death.”

“That may be,” said Porthos; “but in the place of M. Fouquet —- “

Aramis was afraid Porthos was about to say something awkward, so interrupted him. “Come, D’Artagnan,” said he; “this is quite enough about other people, let us talk a little about you.”

“Of me you know all that I can tell you. On the contrary let me hear a little about you, Aramis.”

“I have told you, my friend. There is nothing of Aramis left in me.”

“Nor of the Abbe d’Herblay even?”

“No, not even of him. You see a man whom Providence has taken by the hand, whom he has conducted to a position that he could never have dared even to hope for.”

“Providence?” asked D’Artagnan.


“Well, that is strange! I was told it was M. Fouquet.”

“Who told you that?” cried Aramis, without being able, with all the power of his will, to prevent the color rising to his cheeks.

“Ma foi! why, Bazin!”

“The fool!”

“I do not say he is a man of genius, it is true; but he told me so; and after him, I repeat it to you.”

“I have never seen M. Fouquet,” replied Aramis with a look as pure and calm as that of a virgin who has never told a lie.

“Well, but if you had seen him and known him, there is no harm in that,” replied D’Artagnan. “M. Fouquet is a very good sort of a man.”


“A great politician.” Aramis made a gesture of indifference.

“An all-powerful minister.”

“I only hold to the king and the pope.”

“Dame! listen then,” said D’Artagnan, in the most natural tone imaginable. “I said that because everybody here swears by M. Fouquet. The plain is M. Fouquet’s; the salt-mines I am about to buy are M. Fouquet’s; the island in which Porthos studies topography is M. Fouquet’s; the galleys are M. Fouquet’s. I confess, then, that nothing would have surprised me in your enfeoffment, or rather in that of your diocese, to M. Fouquet. He is a different master from the king, that is all; but quite as powerful as Louis.”

“Thank God! I am not vassal to anybody; I belong to nobody, and am entirely my own master,” replied Aramis, who, during this conversation, followed with his eye every gesture of D’Artagnan, every glance of Porthos. But D’Artagnan was impassible and Porthos motionless; the thrusts aimed so skillfully were parried by an able adversary; not one hit the mark. Nevertheless, both began to feel the fatigue of such a contest and the announcement of supper was well received by everybody. Supper changed the course of conversation. Besides, they felt that, upon their guard as each one had been, they could neither of them boast of having the advantage. Porthos had understood nothing of what had been meant. He had held himself motionless, because Aramis had made him a sign not to stir. Supper for him, was nothing but supper; but that was quite enough for Porthos. The supper, then, went off very well. D’Artagnan was in high spirits. Aramis exceeded himself in kind affability. Porthos ate like old Pelops. Their talk was of war, finance, the arts, and love. Aramis played astonishment at every word of politics. D’Artagnan risked. This long series of surprises increased the mistrust of D’Artagnan, as the eternal indifference of D’Artagnan provoked the suspicions of Aramis. At length D’Artagnan, designedly, uttered the name of Colbert; he had reserved that stroke for the last.

“Who is this Colbert?” asked the bishop.

“Oh! come,” said D’Artagnan to himself, “that is too strong! We must be careful, mordioux! we must be careful.”

And he then gave Aramis all the information respecting M. Colbert he could desire. The supper, or rather, the conversation, was prolonged till one o’clock in the morning between D’Artagnan and Aramis. At ten o’clock precisely, Porthos had fallen asleep in his chair and snored like an organ. At midnight he woke up and they sent him to bed. “Hum!” said he, “I was near falling asleep; but that was all very interesting you were talking about.”

At one o’clock Aramis conducted D’Artagnan to the chamber destined for him, which was the best in the episcopal residence. Two servants were placed at his command. To-morrow, at eight o’clock,” said he, taking leave of D’Artagnan, “we will take, if agreeable to you, a ride on horseback with Porthos.”

“At eight o’clock!” said D’Artagnan, “so late?”

“You know that I require seven hours, sleep.” said Aramis.

“That is true.”

“Good-night, dear friend!” And he embraced the musketeer cordially.

D’Artagnan allowed him to depart; then, as soon as the door closed, “Good!” cried he, “at five o’clock I will be on foot.”

This determination being made, he went to bed and quietly “put two and two together,” as people say.


In which Porthos begins to be sorry
for having come with D’Artagnan

Scarcely had D’Artagnan extinguished his taper, when Aramis, who had watched through his curtains the last glimmer of light in his friend’s apartment, traversed the corridor on tiptoe, and went to Porthos’s room. The giant, who had been in bed nearly an hour and a half, lay grandly stretched out on the down bed. He was in that happy calm of the first sleep, which, with Porthos, resisted the noise of bells or the report of cannon; his head swam in that soft oscillation which reminds us of the soothing movement of a ship. In a moment Porthos would have begun to dream. The door of the chamber opened softly under the delicate pressure of the hand of Aramis. The bishop approached the sleeper. A thick carpet deadened the sound of his steps, besides which Porthos snored in a manner to drown all noise. He laid one hand on his shoulder — “Rouse,” said he, “wake up, my dear Porthos.” The voice of Aramis was soft and kind, but it conveyed more than a notice, — it conveyed an order. His hand was light, but it indicated a danger. Porthos heard the voice and felt the hand of Aramis, even in the depth of his sleep. He started up. “Who goes there?” cried he, in his giant’s voice.

“Hush! hush! It is I,” said Aramis.

“You, my friend? And what the devil do you wake me for?”

“To tell you that you must set off directly.”

“Set off?”


“Where for?”

“For Paris.”

Porthos bounded up in his bed, and then sank back again, fixing his great eyes in agitation upon Aramis.

“For Paris?”


“A hundred leagues?” said he.

“A hundred and four,” replied the bishop.

“Oh! mon Dieu!” sighed Porthos, lying down again, like children who contend with their bonne to gain an hour or two more sleep.

“Thirty hours’ riding,” said Aramis, firmly. “You know there are good relays.”

Porthos pushed out one leg, allowing a groan to escape him.

“Come, come! my friend,” insisted the prelate with a sort of impatience.

Porthos drew the other leg out of the bed. “And is it absolutely necessary that I should go, at once?”

“Urgently necessary.”

Porthos got upon his feet, and began to shake both walls and floors with his steps of a marble statue.

“Hush! hush! for the love of Heaven, my dear Porthos!” said Aramis, “you will wake somebody.”

“Ah! that’s true,” replied Porthos, in a voice of thunder, “I forgot that; but be satisfied, I am on guard.” And so saying, he let fall a belt loaded with his sword and pistols, and a purse, from which the crowns escaped with a vibrating and prolonged noise. This noise made the blood of Aramis boil, whilst it drew from Porthos a formidable burst of laughter. “How droll that is!” said he, in the same voice.

“Not so loud, Porthos, not so loud.”

“True, true!” and he lowered his voice a half-note.

“I was going to say,” continued Porthos, “that it is droll that we are never so slow as when we are in a hurry, and never make so much noise as when we wish to be silent.”

“Yes, that is true, but let us give the proverb the lie, Porthos; let us make haste, and hold our tongue.”

“You see I am doing my best,” said Porthos, putting on his haut de chausses.

“Very well.”

“This is something in haste?”

“It is more than that, it is serious, Porthos.”

“Oh, oh!”

“D’Artagnan has questioned you, has he not?”

“Questioned me?”

“Yes, at Belle-Isle?”

“Not the least in the world.”

“Are you sure of that, Porthos?”


“It is impossible. Recollect yourself.”

“He asked me what I was doing, and I told him studying topography. I would have made use of another word which you employed one day.”


“Yes, that’s it, but I never could recollect it.”

“All the better. What more did he ask you?”

“Who M. Getard was.”


“Who M. Jupenet was.”

“He did not happen to see our plan of fortifications, did he?”


“The devil he did!”

“But don’t be alarmed, I had rubbed out your writing with India-rubber. It was impossible for him to suppose you had given me any advice in those works.”

“Ay, but our friend has phenomenally keen eyes.”

“What are you afraid of?”

“I fear that everything is discovered, Porthos; the matter is, then, to prevent a great misfortune. I have given orders to my people to close all the gates and doors. D’Artagnan will not be able to get out before daybreak. Your horse is ready saddled; you will gain the first relay; by five o’clock in the morning you will have traversed fifteen leagues. Come!”

Aramis then assisted Porthos to dress, piece by piece, with as much celerity as the most skillful valet de chambre could have done. Porthos, half stupefied, let him do as he liked, and confounded himself in excuses. When he was ready, Aramis took him by the hand, and led him, making him place his foot with precaution on every step of the stairs, preventing him running against doorframes, turning him this way and that, as if Aramis had been the giant, and Porthos the dwarf. Soul set fire to and animated matter. A horse was waiting, ready saddled, in the courtyard. Porthos mounted. Then Aramis himself took the horse by the bridle, and led him over some dung spread in the yard, with the evident intention of suppressing noise. He, at the same time, held tight the horse’s nose, to prevent him neighing. When arrived at the outward gate, drawing Porthos towards him, who was going off without even asking him what for: “Now friend Porthos, now; without drawing bridle, till you get to Paris,” whispered he in his ears; “eat on horseback, drink on horseback, sleep on horseback, but lose not a minute.”

“That’s enough, I will not stop.”

“This letter to M. Fouquet; cost what it may, he must have it to-morrow before mid-day.”

“He shall.”

“And do not forget one thing, my friend.”

“What is that?”

“That you are riding out on a hunt for your brevet of duc and peer.”

“Oh! oh!” said Porthos, with his eyes sparkling; “I will do it in twenty-four hours, in that case.”


“Then let go the bridle — and forward, Goliath!”

Aramis did let go, not the bridle, but the horse’s nose. Porthos released his hand, clapped spurs to his horse, which set off at a gallop. As long as he could distinguish Porthos through the darkness, Aramis followed him with his eyes: when he was completely out of sight, he re-entered the yard. Nothing had stirred in D’Artagnan’s apartment. The valet placed on watch at the door had neither seen any light, nor heard any noise. Aramis closed his door carefully, sent the lackey to bed, and quickly sought his own. D’Artagnan really suspected nothing, therefore thought he had gained everything, when he awoke in the morning, about halfpast four. He ran to the window in his shirt. The window looked out upon the court. Day was dawning. The court was deserted; the fowls, even, had not left their roosts. Not a servant appeared. Every door was closed.

“Good! all is still,” said D’Artagnan to himself. “Never mind: I am up first in the house. Let us dress; that will be so much done.” And D’Artagnan dressed himself. But, this time, he endeavored not to give to the costume of M. Agnan that bourgeoise and almost ecclesiastical rigidity he had affected before; he managed, by drawing his belt tighter, by buttoning his clothes in a different fashion, and by putting on his hat a little on one side, to restore to his person a little of that military character, the absence of which had surprised Aramis. This being done, he made free, or affected to make free with his host, and entered his chamber without ceremony. Aramis was asleep or feigned to be so. A large book lay open upon his night-desk, a wax-light was still burning in its silver sconce. This was more than enough to prove to D’Artagnan the quiescence of the prelate’s night, and the good intentions of his waking. The musketeer did to the bishop precisely as the bishop had done to Porthos — he tapped him on the shoulder. Evidently Aramis pretended to sleep; for, instead of waking suddenly, he who slept so lightly required a repetition of the summons.

“Ah! ah! is that you?” said he, stretching his arms. “What an agreeable surprise! Ma foi! Sleep had made me forget I had the happiness to possess you. What o’clock is it?”

“I do not know,” said D’Artagnan, a little embarrassed. “Early, I believe. But, you know, that devil of a habit of waking with the day sticks to me still.”

“Do you wish that we should go out so soon?” asked Aramis. “It appears to me to be very early.”

“Just as you like.”

“I thought we had agreed not to get on horseback before eight.”

“Possibly; but I had so great a wish to see you, that I said to myself, the sooner the better.”

“And my seven hours, sleep!” said Aramis: “Take care; I had reckoned upon them, and what I lose of them I must make up.”

“But it seems to me that, formerly, you were less of a sleeper than that, dear friend; your blood was alive, and you were never to be found in bed.”

“And it is exactly on account of what you tell me that I am so fond of being there now.”

“Then you confess that it is not for the sake of sleeping that you have put me off till eight o’clock.”

“I have been afraid you would laugh at me, if I told you the truth.”

“Tell me, notwithstanding.”

“Well, from six to eight, I am accustomed to perform my devotions.”

“Your devotions?”


“I did not believe a bishop’s exercises were so severe.”

“A bishop, my friend, must sacrifice more to appearance than a simple cleric.”

“Mordioux! Aramis, that is a word which reconciles me with your greatness. To appearances! That is a musketeer’s word, in good truth! Vivent les apparences, Aramis!”

“Instead of felicitating me upon it, pardon me, D’Artagnan. It is a very mundane word which I had allowed to escape me.”

“Must I leave you, then?”

“I want time to collect my thoughts, my friend, and for my usual prayers.”

“Well, I leave you to them; but on account of that poor pagan, D’Artagnan, abridge them for once, I beg; I thirst for speech with you.”

“Well, D’Artagnan, I promise you that within an hour and a half —- “

“An hour and a half of devotions! Eh! my friend, be as reasonable with me as you can. Let me have the best bargain possible.”

Aramis began to laugh.

“Still agreeable, still young, still gay,” said he. “You have come into my diocese to set me quarrelling with grace.”


“And you know well that I was never able to resist your seductions; you will cost me my salvation, D’Artagnan.”

D’Artagnan bit his lips.

“Well,” said he, “I will take the sin on my own head, favor me with one simple Christian sign of the cross, favor me with one pater, and we will part.”

“Hush!” said Aramis, “we are already no longer alone, I hear strangers coming up.”

“Well, dismiss them.”

“Impossible, I made an appointment with them yesterday; it is the principal of the college of the Jesuits, and the superior of the Dominicans.”

“Your staff? Well, so be it.”

“What are you going to do?”

“I will go and wake Porthos, and remain in his company till you have finished the conference.”

Aramis did not stir, his brow remained unbent, he betrayed himself by no gesture or word; “Go,” said he, as D’Artagnan advanced to the door. “A propos, do you know where Porthos sleeps?”

“No, but I will inquire.”

“Take the corridor, and open the second door on the left.”

“Thank you! au revoir.” And D’Artagnan departed in the direction pointed out by Aramis.

Ten minutes had not passed away when he came back. He found Aramis seated between the superior of the Dominicans and the principal of the college of the Jesuits, exactly in the same situation as he had found him formerly in the auberge at Crevecoeur. This company did not at all terrify the musketeer.

“What is it?” said Aramis, quietly. “You have apparently something to say to me, my friend.”

“It is,” replied D’Artagnan, fixing his eyes upon Aramis, “it is that Porthos is not in his apartment.”

“Indeed,” said Aramis, calmly; “are you sure?”

“Pardieu! I came from his chamber.”

“Where can he be, then?”

“That is what I am asking you.”

“And have not you inquired?”

“Yes, I have.”

“And what answer did you get?”

“That Porthos, often walking out in a morning, without saying anything, had probably gone out.”

“What did you do, then?”

“I went to the stables,” replied D’Artagnan, carelessly.

“What to do?”

“To see if Porthos had departed on horseback.”

“And?” interrogated the bishop.

“Well, there is a horse missing, stall No. 3, Goliath.”

All this dialogue, it may be easily understood, was not exempt from a certain affectation on the part of the musketeer, and a perfect complaisance on the part of Aramis.

“Oh! I guess how it is,” said Aramis, after having considered for a moment, “Porthos is gone out to give us a surprise.”

“A surprise?”

“Yes, the canal which goes from Vannes to the sea abounds in teal and snipes; that is Porthos’s favorite sport, and he will bring us back a dozen for breakfast.”

“Do you think so?” said D’Artagnan.

“I am sure of it. Where else can he be? I would lay a wager he took a gun with him.”

“Well, that is possible,” said D’Artagnan.

“Do one thing, my friend. Get on horseback, and join him.”

“You are right,” said D’Artagnan, “I will.”

“Shall I go with you?”

“No, thank you; Porthos is a rather remarkable man: I will inquire as I go along.”

“Will you take an arquebuse?”

“Thank you.”

“Order what horse you like to be saddled.”

“The one I rode yesterday, on coming from Belle-Isle.”

“So be it: use the horse as your own.”

Aramis rang, and gave orders to have the horse M. d’Artagnan had chosen, saddled.

D’Artagnan followed the servant charged with the execution of this order. When arrived at the door, the servant drew on one side to allow M. d’Artagnan to pass; and at that moment he caught the eye of his master. A knitting of the brow gave the intelligent spy to understand that all should be given to D’Artagnan he wished. D’Artagnan got into the saddle, and Aramis heard the steps of his horse on the pavement. An instant after, the servant returned.

“Well?” asked the bishop.

“Monseigneur, he has followed the course of the canal, and is going towards the sea,” said the servant.

“Very well!” said Aramis.

In fact, D’Artagnan, dismissing all suspicion, hastened towards the ocean, constantly hoping to see in the Landes, or on the beach, the colossal profile of Porthos. He persisted in fancying he could trace a horse’s steps in every puddle. Sometimes he imagined he heard the report of a gun. This illusion lasted three hours; during two of which he went forward in search of his friend — in the last he returned to the house.

“We must have crossed,” said he, “and I shall find them waiting for me at table.”

D’Artagnan was mistaken. He no more found Porthos at the palace than he had found him on the sea-shore. Aramis was waiting for him at the top of the stairs, looking very much concerned.

“Did my people not find you, my dear D’Artagnan?” cried he, as soon as he caught sight of the musketeer.

“No; did you send any one after me?”

“I am deeply concerned, my friend, deeply, to have induced you to make such a useless search, but, about seven o’clock, the almoner of Saint-Paterne came here. He had met Du Vallon, who was going away, and who being unwilling to disturb anybody at the palace, had charged him to tell me that, fearing M. Getard would play him some ill turn in his absence, he was going to take advantage of the morning tide to make a tour to Belle-Isle.”

“But tell me, Goliath has not crossed the four leagues of sea, I should think.”

“There are full six,” said Aramis.

“That makes it less probable still.”

“Therefore, my friend,” said Aramis, with one of his blandest smiles, “Goliath is in the stable, well pleased, I will answer for it, that Porthos is no longer on his back.” In fact, the horse had been brought back from the relay by the direction of the prelate, from whom no detail escaped. D’Artagnan appeared as well satisfied as possible with the explanation. He entered upon a part of dissimulation which agreed perfectly with the suspicions that arose more and more strongly in his mind. He breakfasted between the Jesuit and Aramis, having the Dominican in front of him, and smiling particularly at the Dominican, whose jolly, fat face pleased him much. The repast was long and sumptuous; excellent Spanish wine, fine Morbihan oysters, exquisite fish from the mouth of the Loire, enormous prawns from Paimboeuf, and delicious game from the moors, constituted the principal part of it. D’Artagnan ate much, and drank but little. Aramis drank nothing, unless it was water. After the repast, —

“You offered me an arquebuse,” said D’Artagnan.

“I did.”

“Lend it me, then.”

“Are you going shooting?”

“Whilst waiting for Porthos, it is the best thing I can do, I think.”

“Take which you like from the trophy.”

“Will you not come with me?”

“I would with great pleasure; but, alas! my friend, sporting is forbidden to bishops.”

“Ah!” said D’Artagnan, “I did not know that.”

“Besides,” continued Aramis, “I shall be busy till mid-day.”

“I shall go alone, then?” said D’Artagnan.

“I am sorry to say you must; but come back to dinner.”

“Pardieu! the eating at your house is too good to make me think of not coming back.” And thereupon D’Artagnan quitted his host, bowed to the guests, and took his arquebuse; but instead of shooting, went straight to the little port of Vannes. He looked in vain to observe if anybody saw him; he could discern neither thing nor person. He engaged a little fishing boat for twenty-five livres, and set off at half-past eleven, convinced that he had not been followed; and that was true, he had not been followed; only a Jesuit brother, placed in the top of the steeple of his church, had not, since the morning, by the help of an excellent glass, lost sight of one of his steps. At three-quarters past eleven, Aramis was informed that D’Artagnan was sailing towards Belle-Isle. The voyage was rapid; a good north north-east wind drove him towards the isle. As he approached, his eyes were constantly fixed upon the coast. He looked to see if, upon the shore or upon the fortifications the brilliant dress and vast stature of Porthos should stand out against a slightly clouded sky; but his search was vain. He landed without having seen anything; and learnt from the first soldier interrogated by him, that M. du Vallon had not yet returned from Vannes. Then, without losing an instant, D’Artagnan ordered his little bark to put its head towards Sarzeau. We know that the wind changes with the different hours of the day. The breeze had veered from the north north-east to the south-east: the wind, then, was almost as good for the return to Sarzeau, as it had been for the voyage to Belle-Isle. In three hours D’Artagnan had touched the continent, two hours more sufficed for his ride to Vannes. In spite of the rapidity of his passage, what D’Artagnan endured of impatience and anger during that short passage, the deck alone of the vessel, upon which he stamped backwards and forwards for three hours, could testify. He made but one bound from the quay whereon he landed to the episcopal palace. He thought to terrify Aramis by the promptitude of his return; he wished to reproach him with his duplicity, and yet with reserve; but with sufficient spirit, nevertheless, to make him feel all the consequences of it, and force from him a part of his secret He hoped, in short — thanks to that heat of expression which is to secrets what the charge with the bayonet is to redoubts — to bring the mysterious Aramis to some manifestation or other. But he found, in the vestibule of the palace, the valet de chambre, who closed the passage, while smiling upon him with a stupid air.

“Monseigneur?” cried D’Artagnan, endeavoring to put him aside with his hand. Moved for an instant the valet resumed his station.

“Monseigneur?” said he.

“Yes, to be sure; do you not know me, imbecile?”

“Yes, you are the Chevalier d’Artagnan.”

“Then let me pass.”

“It is of no use.”

“Why of no use?”

“Because His Greatness is not at home.”

“What! His Greatness is not at home? where is he then?”





“I don’t know; but perhaps he tells monsieur le chevalier.”

“And how? where? in what fashion?”

“In this letter, which he gave me for monsieur le chevalier.” And the valet de chambre drew a letter from his pocket.

“Give it me, then, you rascal,” said D’Artagnan, snatching it from his hand. “Oh, yes,” continued he, at the first line, “yes, I understand; “and he read: —

“Dear Friend, — An affair of the most urgent nature calls me to a distant parish of my diocese. I hoped to see you again before I set out; but I lose that hope in thinking that you are going, no doubt, to remain two or three days at Belle-Isle, with our dear Porthos. Amuse yourself as well as you can; but do not attempt to hold out against him at table. This is a counsel I might have given even to Athos, in his most brilliant and best days. Adieu, dear friend; believe that I regret greatly not having better, and for a longer time, profited by your excellent company.”

“Mordioux!” cried D’Artagnan. “I am tricked. Ah! blockhead, brute, triple fool that I am! But those laugh best who laugh last. Oh, duped, duped like a monkey, cheated with an empty nutshell!” And with a hearty blow bestowed upon the nose of the smirking valet de chambre, he made all haste out of the episcopal palace. Furet, however good a trotter, was not equal to present circumstances. D’Artagnan therefore took the post, and chose a horse which he soon caused to demonstrate, with good spurs and a light hand, that deer are not the swiftest animals in nature.


In which D’Artagnan makes all Speed,
Porthos snores, and Aramis counsels

From thirty to thirty-five hours after the events we have just related, as M. Fouquet, according to his custom, having interdicted his door, was working in the cabinet of his house at Saint-Mande, with which we are already acquainted, a carriage, drawn by four horses steaming with sweat, entered the court at full gallop. This carriage was, probably, expected, for three or four lackeys hastened to the door, which they opened. Whilst M. Fouquet rose from his bureau and ran to the window, a man got painfully out of the carriage descending with difficulty the three steps of the door, leaning upon the shoulders of the lackeys. He had scarcely uttered his name, when the valet upon whom he was not leaning sprang up the perron, and disappeared in the vestibule. This man went to inform his master; but he had no occasion to knock at the door: Fouquet was standing on the threshold.

“Monseigneur, the Bishop of Vannes,” said he.

“Very well!” replied his master.

Then, leaning over the banister of the staircase, of which Aramis was beginning to ascend the first steps, —

“Ah, dear friend!” said he, “you, so soon!”

“Yes; I, myself, monsieur! but bruised, battered, as you see.”

“Oh! my poor friend,” said Fouquet, presenting him his arm, on which Aramis leant, whilst the servants drew back respectfully.

“Bah!” replied Aramis, “it is nothing, since I am here; the principal thing was that I should get here, and here I am.”

“Speak quickly,” said Fouquet, closing the door of the cabinet behind Aramis and himself.

“Are we alone?”

“Yes, perfectly.”

“No one observes us? — no one can hear us?”

“Be satisfied; nobody.”

“Is M. du Vallon arrived?”


“And you have received my letter?”

“Yes. The affair is serious, apparently, since it necessitates your attendance in Paris, at a moment when your presence was so urgent elsewhere.”

“You are right, it could not be more serious.”

“Thank you! thank you! What is it about? But, for God’s sake! before anything else, take time to breathe, dear friend. You are so pale, you frighten me.”

“I am really in great pain. But, for Heaven’s sake, think nothing about me. Did M. du Vallon tell you nothing, when he delivered the letter to you?”

“No; I heard a great noise; I went to the window; I saw at the foot of the perron, a sort of horseman of marble; I went down, he held the letter out to me, and his horse fell down dead.”

“But he?”

“He fell with the horse; he was lifted, and carried to an apartment. Having read the letter, I went up to him, in hopes of obtaining more ample information; but he was asleep, and, after such a fashion, that it was impossible to wake him. I took pity on him; I gave orders that his boots should be cut from off his legs, and that he should be left quite undisturbed.”

“So far well; now, this is the question in hand, monseigneur. You have seen M. d’Artagnan in Paris, have you not?”

“Certes, and think him a man of intelligence, and even a man of heart; although he did bring about the death of our dear friends, Lyodot and D’Eymeris.”

“Alas! yes, I heard of that. At Tours I met the courier who was bringing me the letter from Gourville, and the dispatches from Pellisson. Have you seriously reflected on that event, monsieur?”


“And in it you perceived a direct attack upon your sovereignty?”

“And do you believe it to be so?”

“Oh, yes, I think so.”

“Well, I must confess, that sad idea occurred to me likewise.”

“Do not blind yourself, monsieur, in the name of Heaven! Listen attentively to me, — I return to D’Artagnan.”

“I am all attention.”

“Under what circumstances did you see him?”

“He came here for money.”

“With what kind of order?”

“With an order from the king.”


“Signed by his majesty.”

“There, then! Well, D’Artagnan has been to Belle-Isle; he was disguised; he came in the character of some sort of an intendant, charged by his master to purchase salt-mines. Now, D’Artagnan has no other master but the king: he came, then, sent by the king. He saw Porthos.”

“Who is Porthos?”

“I beg your pardon, I made a mistake. He saw M. du Vallon at Belle-Isle; and he knows, as well as you and I do, that Belle-Isle is fortified.”

“And you think that the king sent him there?” said Fouquet, pensively.

“I certainly do.”

“And D’Artagnan, in the hands of the king, is a dangerous instrument?”

“The most dangerous imaginable.”

“Then I formed a correct opinion of him at the first glance.”

“How so?”

“I wished to attach him to myself.”

“If you judged him to be the bravest, the most acute, and the most adroit man in France, you judged correctly.”

“He must be had then, at any price.”


“Is not that your opinion?”

“It may be my opinion, but you will never get him.”


“Because we have allowed the time to go by. He was dissatisfied with the court, we should have profited by that; since that, he has passed into England; there he powerfully assisted in the restoration, there he gained a fortune, and, after all, he returned to the service of the king. Well, if he has returned to the service of the king, it is because he is well paid in that service.”

“We will pay him even better, that is all.”

“Oh! monsieur, excuse me; D’Artagnan has a high respect for his word, and where that is once engaged he keeps it.”

“What do you conclude, then?” said Fouquet, with great inquietude.

“At present, the principal thing is to parry a dangerous blow.”

“And how is it to be parried?”


“But D’Artagnan will come and render an account to the king of his mission.”

“Oh, we have time enough to think about that.”

“How so? You are much in advance of him, I presume?”

“Nearly ten hours.”

“Well, in ten hours —- “

Aramis shook his pale head. “Look at these clouds which flit across the heavens; at these swallows which cut the air. D’Artagnan moves more quickly than the clouds or the birds; D’Artagnan is the wind which carries them.”

“A strange man!”

“I tell you, he is superhuman, monsieur. He is of my own age, and I have known him these five-and-thirty years.”


“Well, listen to my calculation, monsieur. I sent M. du Vallon off to you two hours after midnight. M. du Vallon was eight hours in advance of me, when did M. du Vallon arrive?”

“About four hours ago.”

“You see, then, that I gained four upon him; and yet Porthos is a staunch horseman, and he has left on the road eight dead horses, whose bodies I came to successively. I rode post fifty leagues; but I have the gout, the gravel, and what else I know not; so that fatigue kills me. I was obliged to dismount at Tours; since that, rolling along in a carriage, half dead, sometimes overturned, drawn upon the sides, and sometimes on the back of the carriage, always with four spirited horses at full gallop, I have arrived — arrived, gaining four hours upon Porthos; but, see you, D’Artagnan does not weigh three hundred-weight, as Porthos does; D’Artagnan has not the gout and gravel, as I have; he is not a horseman, he is a centaur. D’Artagnan, look you, set out for Belle-Isle when I set out for Paris; and D’Artagnan, notwithstanding my ten hours, advance, D’Artagnan will arrive within two hours after me.”

“But, then, accidents?”

“He never meets with accidents.”

“Horses may fail him.”

“He will run as fast as a horse.”

“Good God! what a man!”

“Yes, he is a man whom I love and admire. I love him because he is good, great, and loyal; I admire him because he represents in my eyes the culminating point of human power; but, whilst loving and admiring him, I fear him, and am on my guard against him. Now then, I resume, monsieur; in two hours D’Artagnan will be here; be beforehand with him. Go to the Louvre, and see the king, before he sees D’Artagnan.”

“What shall I say to the king?”

“Nothing; give him Belle-Isle.”

“Oh! Monsieur d’Herblay! Monsieur d’Herblay,” cried Fouquet, “what projects crushed all at once!”

“After one project that has failed, there is always another project that may lead to fortune; we should never despair. Go, monsieur, and go at once.”

“But that garrison, so carefully chosen, the king will change it directly.”

“That garrison, monsieur, was the king’s when it entered Belle-Isle; it is yours now; it is the same with all garrisons after a fortnight’s occupation. Let things go on, monsieur. Do you see any inconvenience in having an army at the end of a year, instead of two regiments? Do you not see that your garrison of today will make you partisans at La Rochelle, Nantes, Bordeaux, Toulouse — in short, wherever they may be sent to? Go to the king, monsieur; go; time flies, and D’Artagnan, while we are losing time, is flying, like an arrow, along the high-road.”

“Monsieur d’Herblay, you know that each word from you is a germ which fructifies in my thoughts. I will go to the Louvre.”

“Instantly, will you not?”

“I only ask time to change my dress.”

“Remember that D’Artagnan has no need to pass through Saint-Mande; but will go straight to the Louvre; that is cutting off an hour from the advantage that yet remains to us.”

“D’Artagnan may have everything except my English horses. I shall be at the Louvre in twenty-five minutes.” And, without losing a second, Fouquet gave orders for his departure.

Aramis had only time to say to him, “Return as quickly as you go; for I shall await you impatiently.”

Five minutes after, the superintendent was flying along the road to Paris. During this time Aramis desired to be shown the chamber in which Porthos was sleeping. At the door of Fouquet’s cabinet he was folded in the arms of Pellisson, who had just heard of his arrival, and had left his office to see him. Aramis received, with that friendly dignity which he knew so well how to assume, these caresses, respectful as earnest; but all at once stopping on the landing-place, “What is that I hear up yonder?”

There was, in fact, a hoarse, growling kind of noise, like the roar of a hungry tiger, or an impatient lion. “Oh, that is nothing,” said Pellisson, smiling.

“Well; but —- “

“It is M. du Vallon snoring.”

“Ah! true,” said Aramis. “I had forgotten. No one but he is capable of making such a noise. Allow me, Pellisson, to inquire if he wants anything.”

“And you will permit me to accompany you?”

“Oh, certainly;” and both entered the chamber. Porthos was stretched upon the bed; his face was violet rather than red; his eyes were swelled; his mouth was wide open. The roaring which escaped from the deep cavities of his chest made the glass of the windows vibrate. To those developed and clearly defined muscles starting from his face, to his hair matted with sweat, to the energetic heaving of his chin and shoulders, it was impossible to refuse a certain degree of admiration. Strength carried to this point is semi-divine. The Herculean legs and feet of Porthos had, by swelling, burst his stockings; all the strength of his huge body was converted into the rigidity of stone. Porthos moved no more than does the giant of granite which reclines upon the plains of Agrigentum. According to Pellisson’s orders, his boots had been cut off, for no human power could have pulled them off. Four lackeys had tried in vain, pulling at them as they would have pulled capstans; and yet all this did not awaken him. They had hacked off his boots in fragments, and his legs had fallen back upon the bed. They then cut off the rest of his clothes, carried him to a bath, in which they let him soak a considerable time. They then put on him clean linen, and placed him in a well-warmed bed — the whole with efforts and pains which might have roused a dead man, but which did not make Porthos open an eye, or interrupt for a second the formidable diapason of his snoring. Aramis wished on his part, with his nervous nature, armed with extraordinary courage, to outbrave fatigue, and employ himself with Gourville and Pellisson, but he fainted in the chair in which he had persisted sitting. He was carried into the adjoining room, where the repose of bed soon soothed his failing brain.


In which Monsieur Fouquet acts

In the meantime Fouquet was hastening to the Louvre, at the best speed of his English horses. The king was at work with Colbert. All at once the king became thoughtful. The two sentences of death he had signed on mounting his throne sometimes recurred to his memory; they were two black spots which he saw with his eyes open; two spots of blood which he saw when his eyes were closed. “Monsieur,” said he, rather sharply, to the intendant; “it sometimes seems to me that those two men you made me condemn were not very great culprits.”

“Sire, they were picked out from the herd of the farmers of the financiers, which wanted decimating.”

“Picked out by whom?”

“By necessity, sire,” replied Colbert, coldly.

“Necessity! — a great word,” murmured the young king.

“A great goddess, sire.”

“They were devoted friends of the superintendent, were they not?”

“Yes, sire; friends who would have given up their lives for Monsieur Fouquet.”

“They have given them, monsieur,” said the king.

“That is true; — but uselessly, by good luck, — which was not their intention.”

“How much money had these men fraudulently obtained?”

“Ten millions, perhaps; of which six have been confiscated.”

“And is that money in my coffers?” said the king with a certain air of repugnance.

“It is there, sire; but this confiscation, whilst threatening M. Fouquet, has not touched him.”

“You conclude, then, M. Colbert —- “

“That if M. Fouquet has raised against your majesty a troop of factious rioters to extricate his friends from punishment, he will raise an army when he has in turn to extricate himself from punishment.”

The king darted at his confidant one of those looks which resemble the livid fire of a flash of lightning, one of those looks which illuminate the darkness of the basest consciences. “I am astonished,” said he, “that, thinking such things of M. Fouquet, you did not come to give me your counsels thereupon.”

“Counsels upon what, sire?”

“Tell me, in the first place, clearly and precisely, what you think, M. Colbert.”

“Upon what subject, sire?”

“Upon the conduct of M. Fouquet.”

“I think, sire, that M. Fouquet, not satisfied with attracting all the money to himself, as M. Mazarin did, and by that means depriving your majesty of one part of your power, still wishes to attract to himself all the friends of easy life and pleasure — of what idlers call poetry, and politicians, corruption. I, think that, by holding the subjects of your majesty in pay, he trespasses upon the royal prerogative, and cannot, if this continues so, be long in placing your majesty among the weak and the obscure.”

“How would you qualify all these projects, M. Colbert?”

“The projects of M. Fouquet, sire?”


“They are called crimes of lese majeste.”

“And what is done to criminals guilty of lese majeste?”

“They are arrested, tried, and punished.”

“You are quite sure that M. Fouquet has conceived the idea of the crime you impute to him?”

“I can say more, sire, there is even a commencement of the execution of it.”

“Well, then, I return to that which I was saying, M. Colbert.”

“And you were saying, sire?”

“Give me counsel.”

“Pardon me, sire, but in the first place, I have something to add.”

“Say — what?”

“An evident, palpable, material proof of treason.”

“And what is that?”

“I have just learnt that M. Fouquet is fortifying Belle-Isle.”

“Ah, indeed!”

“Yes, sire.”

“Are you sure?”

“Perfectly. Do you know, sire, what soldiers there are in Belle-Isle?”

“No, ma foi! Do you?”

“I am ignorant, likewise, sire; I should therefore propose to your majesty to send somebody to Belle-Isle?”