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The Man in the Iron Mask
by Alexandre Dumas

Chapter I:
The Prisoner.

Since Aramis's singular transformation into a confessor of the order
Baisemeaux was no longer the same man. Up to that periodthe place
which Aramis had held in the worthy governor's estimation was that of a
prelate whom he respected and a friend to whom he owed a debt of
gratitude; but now he felt himself an inferiorand that Aramis was his
master. He himself lighted a lanternsummoned a turnkeyand said
returning to AramisI am at your orders, monseigneur.Aramis merely
nodded his headas much as to sayVery good; and signed to him with
his hand to lead the way. Baisemeaux advancedand Aramis followed him.
It was a calm and lovely starlit night; the steps of three men resounded
on the flags of the terracesand the clinking of the keys hanging from
the jailer's girdle made itself heard up to the stories of the towersas
if to remind the prisoners that the liberty of earth was a luxury beyond
their reach. It might have been said that the alteration effected in
Baisemeaux extended even to the prisoners. The turnkeythe same whoon
Aramis's first arrival had shown himself so inquisitive and curiouswas
now not only silentbut impassible. He held his head downand seemed
afraid to keep his ears open. In this wise they reached the basement of
the Bertaudierethe two first stories of which were mounted silently and
somewhat slowly; for Baisemeauxthough far from disobeyingwas far from
exhibiting any eagerness to obey. On arriving at the doorBaisemeaux
showed a disposition to enter the prisoner's chamber; but Aramis
stopping him on the thresholdsaidThe rules do not allow the governor
to hear the prisoner's confession.

Baisemeaux bowedand made way for Aramiswho took the lantern and
entered; and then signed to them to close the door behind him. For an
instant he remained standinglistening whether Baisemeaux and the
turnkey had retired; but as soon as he was assured by the sound of their
descending footsteps that they had left the towerhe put the lantern on
the table and gazed around. On a bed of green sergesimilar in all
respect to the other beds in the Bastilesave that it was newerand
under curtains half-drawnreposed a young manto whom we have already
once before introduced Aramis. According to customthe prisoner was
without a light. At the hour of curfewhe was bound to extinguish his
lampand we perceive how much he was favoredin being allowed to keep
it burning even till then. Near the bed a large leathern armchairwith
twisted legssustained his clothes. A little table - without pens
bookspaperor ink - stood neglected in sadness near the window; while
several platesstill unemptiedshowed that the prisoner had scarcely
touched his evening meal. Aramis saw that the young man was stretched
upon his bedhis face half concealed by his arms. The arrival of a
visitor did not caused any change of position; either he was waiting in
expectationor was asleep. Aramis lighted the candle from the lantern
pushed back the armchairand approached the bed with an evident mixture
of interest and respect. The young man raised his head. "What is it?"
said he.

You desired a confessor?replied Aramis.

Yes.

Because you were ill?

Yes.


Very ill?

The young man gave Aramis a piercing glanceand answeredI thank
you.After a moment's silenceI have seen you before,he continued.
Aramis bowed.

Doubtless the scrutiny the prisoner had just made of the coldcrafty
and imperious character stamped upon the features of the bishop of Vannes
was little reassuring to one in his situationfor he addedI am
better.

And so?said Aramis.

Why, then - being better, I have no longer the same need of a confessor,
I think.

Not even of the hair-cloth, which the note you found in your bread
informed you of?

The young man started; but before he had either assented or denied
Aramis continuedNot even of the ecclesiastic from whom you were to
hear an important revelation?

If it be so,said the young mansinking again on his pillowit is
different; I am listening.

Aramis then looked at him more closelyand was struck with the easy
majesty of his mienone which can never be acquired unless Heaven has
implanted it in the blood or heart. "Sit downmonsieur said the
prisoner.

Aramis bowed and obeyed. How does the Bastile agree with you?" asked
the bishop.

Very well.

You do not suffer?

No.

You have nothing to regret?

Nothing.

Not even your liberty?

What do you call liberty, monsieur?asked the prisonerwith the tone
of a man who is preparing for a struggle.

I call liberty, the flowers, the air, light, the stars, the happiness of
going whithersoever the sinewy limbs of one-and-twenty chance to wish to
carry you.

The young man smiledwhether in resignation or contemptit was
difficult to tell. "Look said he, I have in that Japanese vase two
roses gathered yesterday evening in the bud from the governor's garden;
this morning they have blown and spread their vermilion chalice beneath
my gaze; with every opening petal they unfold the treasures of their
perfumesfilling my chamber with a fragrance that embalms it. Look now
on these two roses; even among roses these are beautifuland the rose is
the most beautiful of flowers. Whythendo you bid me desire other
flowers when I possess the loveliest of all?"


Aramis gazed at the young man in surprise.

If _flowers_ constitute liberty,sadly resumed the captiveI am free,
for I possess them.

But the air!cried Aramis; "air is so necessary to life!"

Well, monsieur,returned the prisoner; "draw near to the window; it is
open. Between high heaven and earth the wind whirls on its waftages of
hail and lightningexhales its torrid mist or breathes in gentle
breezes. It caresses my face. When mounted on the back of this
armchairwith my arm around the bars of the window to sustain myselfI
fancy I am swimming the wide expanse before me." The countenance of
Aramis darkened as the young man continued: "Light I have! what is better
than light? I have the suna friend who comes to visit me every day
without the permission of the governor or the jailer's company. He comes
in at the windowand traces in my room a square the shape of the window
which lights up the hangings of my bed and floods the very floor. This
luminous square increases from ten o'clock till middayand decreases
from one till three slowlyas ifhaving hastened to my presenceit
sorrowed at bidding me farewell. When its last ray disappears I have
enjoyed its presence for five hours. Is not that sufficient? I have
been told that there are unhappy beings who dig in quarriesand laborers
who toil in mineswho never behold it at all." Aramis wiped the drops
from his brow. "As to the stars which are so delightful to view
continued the young man, they all resemble each other save in size and
brilliancy. I am a favored mortalfor if you had not lighted that
candle you would have been able to see the beautiful stars which I was
gazing at from my couch before your arrivalwhose silvery rays were
stealing through my brain."

Aramis lowered his head; he felt himself overwhelmed with the bitter flow
of that sinister philosophy which is the religion of the captive.

So much, then, for the flowers, the air, the daylight, and the stars,
tranquilly continued the young man; "there remains but exercise. Do I
not walk all day in the governor's garden if it is fine - here if it
rains? in the fresh air if it is warm; in perfect warmththanks to my
winter stoveif it be cold? Ah! monsieurdo you fancy continued the
prisoner, not without bitterness, that men have not done everything for
me that a man can hope for or desire?"

Men!said Aramis; "be it so; but it seems to me you are forgetting
Heaven."

Indeed I have forgotten Heaven,murmured the prisonerwith emotion;
but why do you mention it? Of what use is it to talk to a prisoner of
Heaven?

Aramis looked steadily at this singular youthwho possessed the
resignation of a martyr with the smile of an atheist. "Is not Heaven in
everything?" he murmured in a reproachful tone.

Say rather, at the end of everything,answered the prisonerfirmly.

Be it so,said Aramis; "but let us return to our starting-point."

I ask nothing better,returned the young man.

I am your confessor.

Yes.

Well, then, you ought, as a penitent, to tell me the truth.


My whole desire is to tell it you.

Every prisoner has committed some crime for which he has been
imprisoned. What crime, then, have you committed?

You asked me the same question the first time you saw me,returned the
prisoner.

And then, as now you evaded giving me an answer.

And what reason have you for thinking that I shall now reply to you?

Because this time I am your confessor.

Then if you wish me to tell what crime I have committed, explain to me
in what a crime consists. For as my conscience does not accuse me, I
aver that I am not a criminal.

We are often criminals in the sight of the great of the earth, not alone
for having ourselves committed crimes, but because we know that crimes
have been committed.

The prisoner manifested the deepest attention.

Yes, I understand you,he saidafter a pause; "yesyou are right
monsieur; it is very possible thatin such a lightI am a criminal in
the eyes of the great of the earth."

Ah! then you know something,said Aramiswho thought he had pierced
not merely through a defect in the harnessbut through the joints of it.

No, I am not aware of anything,replied the young man; "but sometimes I
think - and I say to myself - "

What do you say to yourself?

That if I were to think but a little more deeply I should either go mad
or I should divine a great deal.

And then - and then?said Aramisimpatiently.

Then I leave off.

You leave off?

Yes; my head becomes confused and my ideas melancholy; I feel _ennui_
overtaking me; I wish -

What?

I don't know; but I do not like to give myself up to longing for things
which I do not possess, when I am so happy with what I have.

You are afraid of death?said Aramiswith a slight uneasiness.

Yes,said the young mansmiling.

Aramis felt the chill of that smileand shuddered. "Ohas you fear
deathyou know more about matters than you say he cried.

And you returned the prisoner, who bade me to ask to see you; you
whowhen I did ask to see youcame here promising a world of
confidence; how is it thatneverthelessit is you who are silent


leaving it for me to speak? Sincethenwe both wear maskseither let
us both retain them or put them aside together."

Aramis felt the force and justice of the remarksaying to himselfThis
is no ordinary man; I must be cautious. - Are you ambitious?said he
suddenly to the prisoneraloudwithout preparing him for the alteration.

What do you mean by ambitious?replied the youth.

Ambition,replied Aramisis the feeling which prompts a man to desire
more - much more - than he possesses.

I said that I was contented, monsieur; but, perhaps, I deceive myself.
I am ignorant of the nature of ambition; but it is not impossible I may
have some. Tell me your mind; that is all I ask.

An ambitious man,said Aramisis one who covets that which is beyond
his station.

I covet nothing beyond my station,said the young manwith an
assurance of manner which for the second time made the bishop of Vannes
tremble.

He was silent. But to look at the kindling eyethe knitted browand
the reflective attitude of the captiveit was evident that he expected
something more than silence- a silence which Aramis now broke. "You
lied the first time I saw you said he.

Lied!" cried the young manstarting up on his couchwith such a tone
in his voiceand such a lightning in his eyesthat Aramis recoiledin
spite of himself.

I _should_ say,returned Aramisbowingyou concealed from me what
you knew of your infancy.

A man's secrets are his own, monsieur,retorted the prisonerand not
at the mercy of the first chance-comer.

True,said Aramisbowing still lower than before'tis true; pardon
me, but to-day do I still occupy the place of a chance-comer? I beseech
you to reply, monseigneur.

This title slightly disturbed the prisoner; but nevertheless he did not
appear astonished that it was given him. "I do not know youmonsieur
said he.

Ohbut if I daredI would take your hand and kiss it!"

The young man seemed as if he were going to give Aramis his hand; but the
light which beamed in his eyes faded awayand he coldly and
distrustfully withdrew his hand again. "Kiss the hand of a prisoner he
said, shaking his head, to what purpose?"

Why did you tell me,said Aramisthat you were happy here? Why, that
you aspired to nothing? Why, in a word, by thus speaking, do you prevent
me from being frank in my turn?

The same light shone a third time in the young man's eyesbut died
ineffectually away as before.

You distrust me,said Aramis.

And why say you so, monsieur?


Oh, for a very simple reason; if you know what you ought to know, you
ought to mistrust everybody.

Then do not be astonished that I am mistrustful, since you suspect me of
knowing what I do not know.

Aramis was struck with admiration at this energetic resistance. "Oh
monseigneur! you drive me to despair said he, striking the armchair
with his fist.

Andon my partI do not comprehend youmonsieur."

Well, then, try to understand me.The prisoner looked fixedly at
Aramis.

Sometimes it seems to me,said the latterthat I have before me the
man whom I seek, and then -

And then your man disappears, - is it not so?said the prisoner
smiling. "So much the better."

Aramis rose. "Certainly said he; I have nothing further to say to a
man who mistrusts me as you do."

And I, monsieur,said the prisonerin the same tonehave nothing to
say to a man who will not understand that a prisoner ought to be
mistrustful of everybody.

Even of his old friends,said Aramis. "Ohmonseigneuryou are _too_
prudent!"

Of my old friends? - you one of my old friends, - you?

Do you no longer remember,said Aramisthat you once saw, in the
village where your early years were spent -

Do you know the name of the village?asked the prisoner.

Noisy-le-Sec, monseigneur,answered Aramisfirmly.

Go on,said the young manwith an immovable aspect.

Stay, monseigneur,said Aramis; "if you are positively resolved to
carry on this gamelet us break off. I am here to tell you many things
'tis true; but you must allow me to see thaton your sideyou have a
desire to know them. Before revealing the important matters I still
withholdbe assured I am in need of some encouragementif not candor; a
little sympathyif not confidence. But you keep yourself intrenched in
a pretended which paralyzes me. Ohnot for the reason you think; for
ignorant as you may beor indifferent as you feign to beyou are none
the less what you aremonseigneurand there is nothing - nothingmark
me! which can cause you not to be so."

I promise you,replied the prisonerto hear you without impatience.
Only it appears to me that I have a right to repeat the question I have
already asked, 'Who _are_ you?'

Do you remember, fifteen or eighteen years ago, seeing at Noisy-le-Sec a
cavalier, accompanied by a lady in black silk, with flame-colored ribbons
in her hair?

Yes,said the young man; "I once asked the name of this cavalierand
they told me that he called himself the Abbe d'Herblay. I was astonished
that the abbe had so warlike an airand they replied that there was


nothing singular in thatseeing that he was one of Louis XIII.'s
musketeers."

Well,said Aramisthat musketeer and abbe, afterwards bishop of
Vannes, is your confessor now.

I know it; I recognized you.

Then, monseigneur, if you know that, I must further add a fact of which
you are ignorant - that if the king were to know this evening of the
presence of this musketeer, this abbe, this bishop, this confessor,
_here_ - he, who has risked everything to visit you, to-morrow would
behold the steely glitter of the executioner's axe in a dungeon more
gloomy, more obscure than yours.

While listening to these wordsdelivered with emphasisthe young man
had raised himself on his couchand was now gazing more and more eagerly
at Aramis.

The result of his scrutiny was that he appeared to derive some confidence
from it. "Yes he murmured, I remember perfectly. The woman of whom
you speak came once with youand twice afterwards with another." He
hesitated.

With another, who came to see you every month - is it not so,
monseigneur?

Yes.

Do you know who this lady was?

The light seemed ready to flash from the prisoner's eyes. "I am aware
that she was one of the ladies of the court he said.

You remember that lady welldo you not?"

Oh, my recollection can hardly be very confused on this head, said the
young prisoner. "I saw that lady once with a gentleman about forty-five
years old. I saw her once with youand with the lady dressed in black.
I have seen her twice since then with the same person. These four
peoplewith my masterand old Perronnettemy jailerand the governor
of the prisonare the only persons with whom I have ever spokenand
indeedalmost the only persons I have ever seen."

Then you were in prison?

If I am a prisoner here, then I was comparatively free, although in a
very narrow sense - a house I never quitted, a garden surrounded with
walls I could not climb, these constituted my residence, but you know it,
as you have been there. In a word, being accustomed to live within these
bounds, I never cared to leave them. And so you will understand,
monsieur, that having never seen anything of the world, I have nothing
left to care for; and therefore, if you relate anything, you will be
obliged to explain each item to me as you go along.

And I will do so,said Aramisbowing; "for it is my dutymonseigneur."

Well, then, begin by telling me who was my tutor.

A worthy and, above all, an honorable gentleman, monseigneur; fit guide
for both body and soul. Had you ever any reason to complain of him?

Oh, no; quite the contrary. But this gentleman of yours often used to
tell me that my father and mother were dead. Did he deceive me, or did


he speak the truth?
He was compelled to comply with the orders given him.


Then he lied?
In one respect. Your father is dead.


And my mother?
She is dead _for you_.


But then she lives for others, does she not?
Yes.


And I - and I, then(the young man looked sharply at Aramis) "am
compelled to live in the obscurity of a prison?"

Alas! I fear so.

And that because my presence in the world would lead to the revelation
of a great secret?

Certainly, a very great secret.

My enemy must indeed be powerful, to be able to shut up in the Bastile a
child such as I then was.

He is.
More powerful than my mother, then?


And why do you ask that?
Because my mother would have taken my part.


Aramis hesitated. "Yesmonseigneur; more powerful than your mother."


Seeing, then, that my nurse and preceptor were carried off, and that I,
also, was separated from them - either they were, or I am, very dangerous
to my enemy?

Yes; but you are alluding to a peril from which he freed himself, by
causing the nurse and preceptor to disappear,answered Aramisquietly.

Disappear!cried the prisonerhow did they disappear?

In a very sure way,answered Aramis - "they are dead."

The young man turned paleand passed his hand tremblingly over his
face. "Poison?" he asked.

Poison.

The prisoner reflected a moment. "My enemy must indeed have been very
cruelor hard beset by necessityto assassinate those two innocent
peoplemy sole support; for the worthy gentleman and the poor nurse had
never harmed a living being."

In your family, monseigneur, necessity is stern. And so it is necessity
which compels me, to my great regret, to tell you that this gentleman and
the unhappy lady have been assassinated.


Oh, you tell me nothing I am not aware of,said the prisonerknitting
his brows.

How?

I suspected it.

Why?

I will tell you.

At this moment the young mansupporting himself on his two elbowsdrew
close to Aramis's facewith such an expression of dignityof selfcommand
and of defiance eventhat the bishop felt the electricity of
enthusiasm strike in devouring flashes from that great heart of hisinto
his brain of adamant.

Speak, monseigneur. I have already told you that by conversing with you
I endanger my life. Little value as it has, I implore you to accept it
as the ransom of your own.

Well,resumed the young manthis is why I suspected they had killed
my nurse and my preceptor -

Whom you used to call your father?

Yes; whom I called my father, but whose son I well knew I was not.

Who caused you to suppose so?

Just as you, monsieur, are too respectful for a friend, he was also too
respectful for a father.

I, however,said Aramishave no intention to disguise myself.

The young man nodded assent and continued: "UndoubtedlyI was not
destined to perpetual seclusion said the prisoner; and that which
makes me believe soabove allnowis the care that was taken to render
me as accomplished a cavalier as possible. The gentleman attached to my
person taught me everything he knew himself - mathematicsa little
geometryastronomyfencing and riding. Every morning I went through
military exercisesand practiced on horseback. Wellone morning during
the summerit being very hotI went to sleep in the hall. Nothingup
to that periodexcept the respect paid mehad enlightened meor even
roused my suspicions. I lived as childrenas birdsas plantsas the
air and the sun do. I had just turned my fifteenth year - "

This, then, is eight years ago?

Yes, nearly; but I have ceased to reckon time.

Excuse me; but what did your tutor tell you, to encourage you to work?

He used to say that a man was bound to make for himself, in the world,
that fortune which Heaven had refused him at his birth. He added that,
being a poor, obscure orphan, I had no one but myself to look to; and
that nobody either did, or ever would, take any interest in me. I was,
then, in the hall I have spoken of, asleep from fatigue with long
fencing. My preceptor was in his room on the first floor, just over me.
Suddenly I heard him exclaim, and then he called: 'Perronnette!
Perronnette!' It was my nurse whom he called.

Yes, I know it,said Aramis. "Continuemonseigneur."


Very likely she was in the garden; for my preceptor came hastily
downstairs. I rose, anxious at seeing him anxious. He opened the gardendoor,
still crying out, 'Perronnette! Perronnette!' The windows of the
hall looked into the court; the shutters were closed; but through a chink
in them I saw my tutor draw near a large well, which was almost directly
under the windows of his study. He stooped over the brim, looked into
the well, and again cried out, and made wild and affrighted gestures.
Where I was, I could not only see, but hear - and see and hear I did.

Go on, I pray you,said Aramis.

Dame Perronnette came running up, hearing the governor's cries. He went
to meet her, took her by the arm, and drew her quickly towards the edge;
after which, as they both bent over it together, 'Look, look,' cried he,
'what a misfortune!'

'Calm yourselfcalm yourself' said Perronnette; 'what is the matter?'

'The letter!' he exclaimed; 'do you see that letter?' pointing to the
bottom of the well.

'What letter?' she cried.

'The letter you see down there; the last letter from the queen.'

At this word I trembled. My tutor - he who passed for my fatherhe who
was continually recommending me modesty and humility - in correspondence
with the queen!

'The queen's last letter!' cried Perronnette, without showing more
astonishment than at seeing this letter at the bottom of the well; 'but
how came it there?'

'A chanceDame Perronnette - a singular chance. I was entering my
roomand on opening the doorthe windowtoobeing opena puff of air
came suddenly and carried off this paper - this letter of her majesty's;
I darted after itand gained the window just in time to see it flutter a
moment in the breeze and disappear down the well.'

'Well,' said Dame Perronnette; 'and if the letter has fallen into the
well, 'tis all the same as if it was burnt; and as the queen burns all
her letters every time she comes - '

And so you see this lady who came every month was the queen said the
prisoner.

'Doubtlessdoubtless' continued the old gentleman; 'but this letter
contained instructions - how can I follow them?'

'Write immediately to her; give her a plain account of the accident, and
the queen will no doubt write you another letter in place of this.'

'Oh! the queen would never believe the story' said the good gentleman
shaking his head; 'she will imagine that I want to keep this letter
instead of giving it up like the restso as to have a hold over her.
She is so distrustfuland M. de Mazarin so - Yon devil of an Italian is
capable of having us poisoned at the first breath of suspicion.'"

Aramis almost imperceptibly smiled.

'You know, Dame Perronnette, they are both so suspicious in all that
concerns Philippe.'

Philippe was the name they gave me said the prisoner.


'Well'tis no use hesitating' said Dame Perronnette'somebody must go
down the well.'

'Of course; so that the person who goes down may read the paper as he is
coming up.'

'But let us choose some villager who cannot readand then you will be
at ease.'

'Granted; but will not any one who descends guess that a paper must be
important for which we risk a man's life? However, you have given me an
idea, Dame Perronnette; somebody shall go down the well, but that
somebody shall be myself.'

But at this notion Dame Perronnette lamented and cried in such a manner
and so implored the old noblemanwith tears in her eyesthat he
promised her to obtain a ladder long enough to reach downwhile she went
in search of some stout-hearted youthwhom she was to persuade that a
jewel had fallen into the welland that this jewel was wrapped in a
paper. 'And as paper' remarked my preceptor'naturally unfolds in
waterthe young man would not be surprised at finding nothingafter
allbut the letter wide open.'

'But perhaps the writing will be already effaced by that time,' said
Dame Perronnette.

'No consequenceprovided we secure the letter. On returning it to the
queenshe will see at once that we have not betrayed her; and
consequentlyas we shall not rouse the distrust of Mazarinwe shall
have nothing to fear from him.'

Having come to this resolution, they parted. I pushed back the shutter,
and, seeing that my tutor was about to re-enter, I threw myself on my
couch, in a confusion of brain caused by all I had just heard. My
governor opened the door a few moments after, and thinking I was asleep
gently closed it again. As soon as ever it was shut, I rose, and,
listening, heard the sound of retiring footsteps. Then I returned to the
shutters, and saw my tutor and Dame Perronnette go out together. I was
alone in the house. They had hardly closed the gate before I sprang from
the window and ran to the well. Then, just as my governor had leaned
over, so leaned I. Something white and luminous glistened in the green
and quivering silence of the water. The brilliant disk fascinated and
allured me; my eyes became fixed, and I could hardly breathe. The well
seemed to draw me downwards with its slimy mouth and icy breath; and I
thought I read, at the bottom of the water, characters of fire traced
upon the letter the queen had touched. Then, scarcely knowing what I was
about, and urged on by one of those instinctive impulses which drive men
to destruction, I lowered the cord from the windlass of the well to
within about three feet of the water, leaving the bucket dangling, at the
same time taking infinite pains not to disturb that coveted letter, which
was beginning to change its white tint for the hue of chrysoprase, proof
enough that it was sinking, - and then, with the rope weltering in
my hands, slid down into the abyss. When I saw myself hanging over the
dark pool, when I saw the sky lessening above my head, a cold shudder
came over me, a chill fear got the better of me, I was seized with
giddiness, and the hair rose on my head; but my strong will still reigned
supreme over all the terror and disquietude. I gained the water, and at
once plunged into it, holding on by one hand, while I immersed the other
and seized the dear letter, which, alas! came in two in my grasp. I
concealed the two fragments in my body-coat, and, helping myself with my
feet against the sides of the pit, and clinging on with my hands, agile
and vigorous as I was, and, above all, pressed for time, I regained the
brink, drenching it as I touched it with the water that streamed off me.


I was no sooner out of the well with my prize, than I rushed into the
sunlight, and took refuge in a kind of shrubbery at the bottom of the
garden. As I entered my hiding-place, the bell which resounded when the
great gate was opened, rang. It was my preceptor come back again. I had
but just time. I calculated that it would take ten minutes before he
would gain my place of concealment, even if, guessing where I was, he
came straight to it; and twenty if he were obliged to look for me. But
this was time enough to allow me to read the cherished letter, whose
fragments I hastened to unite again. The writing was already fading, but
I managed to decipher it all.

And will you tell me what you read thereinmonseigneur?" asked Aramis
deeply interested.

Quite enough, monsieur, to see that my tutor was a man of noble rank,
and that Perronnette, without being a lady of quality, was far better
than a servant; and also to perceived that I must myself be high-born,
since the queen, Anne of Austria, and Mazarin, the prime minister,
commended me so earnestly to their care.Here the young man paused
quite overcome.

And what happened?asked Aramis.

It happened, monsieur,answered hethat the workmen they had summoned
found nothing in the well, after the closest search; that my governor
perceived that the brink was all watery; that I was not so dried by the
sun as to prevent Dame Perronnette spying that my garments were moist;
and, lastly, that I was seized with a violent fever, owing to the chill
and the excitement of my discovery, an attack of delirium supervening,
during which I related the whole adventure; so that, guided by my avowal,
my governor found the pieces of the queen's letter inside the bolster
where I had concealed them.

Ah!said Aramisnow I understand.

Beyond this, all is conjecture. Doubtless the unfortunate lady and
gentleman, not daring to keep the occurrence secret, wrote of all this to
the queen and sent back the torn letter.

After which,said Aramisyou were arrested and removed to the Bastile.

As you see.

Your two attendants disappeared?

Alas!

Let us not take up our time with the dead, but see what can be done with
the living. You told me you were resigned.

I repeat it.

Without any desire for freedom?

As I told you.

Without ambition, sorrow, or thought?

The young man made no answer.

Well,asked Aramiswhy are you silent?

I think I have spoken enough,answered the prisonerand that now it
is your turn. I am weary.


Aramis gathered himself upand a shade of deep solemnity spread itself
over his countenance. It was evident that he had reached the crisis in
the part he had come to the prison to play. "One question said Aramis.

What is it? speak."

In the house you inhabited there were neither looking-glasses nor
mirrors?

What are those two words, and what is their meaning?asked the young
man; "I have no sort of knowledge of them."

They designate two pieces of furniture which reflect objects; so that,
for instance, you may see in them your own lineaments, as you see mine
now, with the naked eye.

No; there was neither a glass nor a mirror in the house,answered the
young man.

Aramis looked round him. "Nor is there anything of the kind here
either he said; they have again taken the same precaution."

To what end?

You will know directly. Now, you have told me that you were instructed
in mathematics, astronomy, fencing, and riding; but you have not said a
word about history.

My tutor sometimes related to me the principal deeds of the king, St.
Louis, King Francis I., and King Henry IV.

Is that all?

Very nearly.

This also was done by design, then; just as they deprived you of
mirrors, which reflect the present, so they left you in ignorance of
history, which reflects the past. Since your imprisonment, books have
been forbidden you; so that you are unacquainted with a number of facts,
by means of which you would be able to reconstruct the shattered mansion
of your recollections and your hopes.

It is true,said the young man.

Listen, then; I will in a few words tell you what has passed in France
during the last twenty-three or twenty-four years; that is, from the
probable date of your birth; in a word, from the time that interests you.

Say on.And the young man resumed his serious and attentive attitude.

Do you know who was the son of Henry IV.?

At least I know who his successor was.

How?

By means of a coin dated 1610, which bears the effigy of Henry IV.; and
another of 1612, bearing that of Louis XIII. So I presumed that, there
being only two years between the two dates, Louis was Henry's successor.

Then,said Aramisyou know that the last reigning monarch was Louis
XIII.?


I do,answered the youthslightly reddening.

Well, he was a prince full of noble ideas and great projects, always,
alas! deferred by the trouble of the times and the dread struggle that
his minister Richelieu had to maintain against the great nobles of
France. The king himself was of a feeble character, and died young and
unhappy.

I know it.

He had been long anxious about having a heir; a care which weighs
heavily on princes, who desire to leave behind them more than one pledge
that their best thoughts and works will be continued.

Did the king, then, die childless?asked the prisonersmiling.

No, but he was long without one, and for a long while thought he should
be the last of his race. This idea had reduced him to the depths of
despair, when suddenly, his wife, Anne of Austria -

The prisoner trembled.

Did you know,said Aramisthat Louis XIII.'s wife was called Anne of
Austria?

Continue,said the young manwithout replying to the question.

When suddenly,resumed Aramisthe queen announced an interesting
event. There was great joy at the intelligence, and all prayed for her
happy delivery. On the 5th of September, 1638, she gave birth to a son.

Here Aramis looked at his companionand thought he observed him turning
pale. "You are about to hear said Aramis, an account which few indeed
could now avouch; for it refers to a secret which they imagined buried
with the deadentombed in the abyss of the confessional."

And you will tell me this secret?broke in the youth.

Oh!said Aramiswith unmistakable emphasisI do not know that I
ought to risk this secret by intrusting it to one who has no desire to
quit the Bastile.

I hear you, monsieur.

The queen, then, gave birth to a son. But while the court was rejoicing
over the event, when the king had show the new-born child to the nobility
and people, and was sitting gayly down to table, to celebrate the event,
the queen, who was alone in her room, was again taken ill and gave birth
to a second son.

Oh!said the prisonerbetraying a bitter acquaintance with affairs
than he had owned toI thought that Monsieur was only born in -

Aramis raised his finger; "Permit me to continue he said.

The prisoner sighed impatiently, and paused.

Yes said Aramis, the queen had a second sonwhom Dame Perronnette
the midwifereceived in her arms."

Dame Perronnette!murmured the young man.

They ran at once to the banqueting-room, and whispered to the king what
had happened; he rose and quitted the table. But this time it was no


longer happiness that his face expressed, but something akin to terror.
The birth of twins changed into bitterness the joy to which that of an
only son had given rise, seeing that in France (a fact you are assuredly
ignorant of) it is the oldest of the king's sons who succeeds his father.

I know it.

And that the doctors and jurists assert that there is ground for
doubting whether the son that first makes his appearance is the elder by
the law of heaven and of nature.

The prisoner uttered a smothered cryand became whiter than the coverlet
under which he hid himself.

Now you understand,pursued Aramisthat the king, who with so much
pleasure saw himself repeated in one, was in despair about two; fearing
that the second might dispute the first's claim to seniority, which had
been recognized only two hours before; and so this second son, relying on
party interests and caprices, might one day sow discord and engender
civil war throughout the kingdom; by these means destroying the very
dynasty he should have strengthened.

Oh, I understand! - I understand!murmured the young man.

Well,continued Aramis; "this is what they relatewhat they declare;
this is why one of the queen's two sonsshamefully parted from his
brothershamefully sequesteredis buried in profound obscurity; this is
why that second son has disappearedand so completelythat not a soul
in Francesave his motheris aware of his existence."

Yes! his mother, who has cast him off,cried the prisoner in a tone of
despair.

Except, also,Aramis went onthe lady in the black dress; and,
finally, excepting -

Excepting yourself - is it not? You who come and relate all this; you,
who rouse in my soul curiosity, hatred, ambition, and, perhaps, even the
thirst of vengeance; except you, monsieur, who, if you are the man to
whom I expect, whom the note I have received applies to, whom, in short,
Heaven ought to send me, must possess about you -

What?asked Aramis.

A portrait of the king, Louis XIV., who at this moment reigns upon the
throne of France.

Here is the portrait,replied the bishophanding the prisoner a
miniature in enamelon which Louis was depicted life-likewith a
handsomelofty mien. The prisoner eagerly seized the portraitand
gazed at it with devouring eyes.

And now, monseigneur,said Aramishere is a mirror.Aramis left the
prisoner time to recover his ideas.

So high! - so high!murmured the young maneagerly comparing the
likeness of Louis with his own countenance reflected in the glass.

What do you think of it?at length said Aramis.

I think that I am lost,replied the captive; "the king will never set
me free."

And I - I demand to know,added the bishopfixing his piercing eyes


significantly upon the prisonerI demand to know which of these two is
king; the one this miniature portrays, or whom the glass reflects?

The king, monsieur,sadly replied the young manis he who is on the
throne, who is not in prison; and who, on the other hand, can cause
others to be entombed there. Royalty means power; and you behold how
powerless I am.

Monseigneur,answered Aramiswith a respect he had not yet manifested
the king, mark me, will, if you desire it, be the one that, quitting his
dungeon, shall maintain himself upon the throne, on which his friends
will place him.

Tempt me not, monsieur,broke in the prisoner bitterly.

Be not weak, monseigneur,persisted Aramis; "I have brought you all the
proofs of your birth; consult them; satisfy yourself that you are a
king's son; it is for _us_ to act."

No, no; it is impossible.

Unless, indeed,resumed the bishop ironicallyit be the destiny of
your race, that the brothers excluded from the throne should be always
princes void of courage and honesty, as was your uncle, M. Gaston
d'Orleans, who ten times conspired against his brother Louis XIII.

What!cried the princeastonished; "my uncle Gaston 'conspired against
his brother'; conspired to dethrone him?"

Exactly, monseigneur; for no other reason. I tell you the truth.

And he had friends - devoted friends?

As much so as I am to you.

And, after all, what did he do? - Failed!

He failed, I admit; but always through his own fault; and, for the sake
of purchasing - not his life - for the life of the king's brother is
sacred and inviolable - but his liberty, he sacrificed the lives of all
his friends, one after another. And so, at this day, he is a very blot
on history, the detestation of a hundred noble families in this kingdom.

I understand, monsieur; either by weakness or treachery, my uncle slew
his friends.

By weakness; which, in princes, is always treachery.

And cannot a man fail, then, from incapacity and ignorance? Do you
really believe it possible that a poor captive such as I, brought up, not
only at a distance from the court, but even from the world - do you
believe it possible that such a one could assist those of his friends who
should attempt to serve him?And as Aramis was about to replythe
young man suddenly cried outwith a violence which betrayed the temper
of his bloodWe are speaking of friends; but how can _I_ have any
friends - I, whom no one knows; and have neither liberty, money, nor
influence, to gain any?

I fancy I had the honor to offer myself to your royal highness.

Oh, do not style me so, monsieur; 'tis either treachery or cruelty. Bid
me not think of aught beyond these prison-walls, which so grimly confine
me; let me again love, or, at least, submit to my slavery and my
obscurity.


Monseigneur, monseigneur; if you again utter these desperate words - if,
after having received proof of your high birth, you still remain poorspirited
in body and soul, I will comply with your desire, I will depart,
and renounce forever the service of a master, to whom so eagerly I came
to devote my assistance and my life!

Monsieur,cried the princewould it not have been better for you to
have reflected, before telling me all that you have done, that you have
broken my heart forever?

And so I desire to do, monseigneur.

To talk to me about power, grandeur, eye, and to prate of thrones! Is a
prison the fit place? You wish to make me believe in splendor, and we
are lying lost in night; you boast of glory, and we are smothering our
words in the curtains of this miserable bed; you give me glimpses of
power absolute whilst I hear the footsteps of the every-watchful jailer
in the corridor - that step which, after all, makes you tremble more than
it does me. To render me somewhat less incredulous, free me from the
Bastile; let me breathe the fresh air; give me my spurs and trusty sword,
then we shall begin to understand each other.

It is precisely my intention to give you all this, monseigneur, and
more; only, do you desire it?

A word more,said the prince. "I know there are guards in every
gallerybolts to every doorcannon and soldiery at every barrier. How
will you overcome the sentries - spike the guns? How will you break
through the bolts and bars?"

Monseigneur, - how did you get the note which announced my arrival to
you?

You can bribe a jailer for such a thing as a note.

If we can corrupt one turnkey, we can corrupt ten.

Well; I admit that it may be possible to release a poor captive from the
Bastile; possible so to conceal him that the king's people shall not
again ensnare him; possible, in some unknown retreat, to sustain the
unhappy wretch in some suitable manner.

Monseigneur!said Aramissmiling.

I admit that, whoever would do this much for me, would seem more than
mortal in my eyes; but as you tell me I am a prince, brother of the king,
how can you restore me the rank and power which my mother and my brother
have deprived me of? And as, to effect this, I must pass a life of war
and hatred, how can you cause me to prevail in those combats - render me
invulnerable by my enemies? Ah! monsieur, reflect on all this; place me,
to-morrow, in some dark cavern at a mountain's base; yield me the delight
of hearing in freedom sounds of the river, plain and valley, of beholding
in freedom the sun of the blue heavens, or the stormy sky, and it is
enough. Promise me no more than this, for, indeed, more you cannot give,
and it would be a crime to deceive me, since you call yourself my friend.

Aramis waited in silence. "Monseigneur he resumed, after a moment's
reflection, I admire the firmsound sense which dictates your words; I
am happy to have discovered my monarch's mind."

Again, again! oh, God! for mercy's sake,cried the princepressing his
icy hands upon his clammy browdo not play with me! I have no need to
be a king to be the happiest of men.


But I, monseigneur, wish you to be a king for the good of humanity.

Ah!said the princewith fresh distrust inspired by the word; "ah!
with whatthenhas humanity to reproach my brother?"

I forgot to say, monseigneur, that if you would allow me to guide you,
and if you consent to become the most powerful monarch in Christendom,
you will have promoted the interests of all the friends whom I devote to
the success of your cause, and these friends are numerous.

Numerous?

Less numerous than powerful, monseigneur.

Explain yourself.

It is impossible; I will explain, I swear before Heaven, on that day
that I see you sitting on the throne of France.

But my brother?

You shall decree his fate. Do you pity him?

Him, who leaves me to perish in a dungeon? No, no. For him I have no
pity!

So much the better.

He might have himself come to this prison, have taken me by the hand,
and have said, 'My brother, Heaven created us to love, not to contend
with one another. I come to you. A barbarous prejudice has condemned
you to pass your days in obscurity, far from mankind, deprived of every
joy. I will make you sit down beside me; I will buckle round your waist
our father's sword. Will you take advantage of this reconciliation to
put down or restrain me? Will you employ that sword to spill my blood?'
'Oh! never,' I would have replied to him, 'I look on you as my preserver,
I will respect you as my master. You give me far more than Heaven
bestowed; for through you I possess liberty and the privilege of loving
and being loved in this world.'

And you would have kept your word, monseigneur?

On my life! While now - now that I have guilty ones to punish -

In what manner, monseigneur?

What do you say as to the resemblance that Heaven has given me to my
brother?

I say that there was in that likeness a providential instruction which
the king ought to have heeded; I say that your mother committed a crime in
rendering those different in happiness and fortune whom nature created so
startlingly alike, of her own flesh, and I conclude that the object of
punishment should be only to restore the equilibrium.

By which you mean -

That if I restore you to your place on your brother's throne, he shall
take yours in prison.

Alas! there's such infinity of suffering in prison, especially it would
be so for one who has drunk so deeply of the cup of enjoyment.


Your royal highness will always be free to act as you may desire; and if
it seems good to you, after punishment, you will have it in your power to
pardon.

Good. And now, are you aware of one thing, monsieur?

Tell me, my prince.

It is that I will hear nothing further from you till I am clear of the
Bastile.

I was going to say to your highness that I should only have the pleasure
of seeing you once again.

And when?

The day when my prince leaves these gloomy walls.

Heavens! how will you give me notice of it?

By myself coming to fetch you.

Yourself?

My prince, do not leave this chamber save with me, or if in my absence
you are compelled to do so, remember that I am not concerned in it.

And so I am not to speak a word of this to any one whatever, save to
you?

Save only to me.Aramis bowed very low. The prince offered his hand.

Monsieur,he saidin a tone that issued from his heartone word
more, my last. If you have sought me for my destruction; if you are only
a tool in the hands of my enemies; if from our conference, in which you
have sounded the depths of my mind, anything worse than captivity result,
that is to say, if death befall me, still receive my blessing, for you
will have ended my troubles and given me repose from the tormenting fever
that has preyed on me for eight long, weary years.

Monseigneur, wait the results ere you judge me,said Aramis.

I say that, in such a case, I bless and forgive you. If, on the other
hand, you are come to restore me to that position in the sunshine of
fortune and glory to which I was destined by Heaven; if by your means I
am enabled to live in the memory of man, and confer luster on my race by
deeds of valor, or by solid benefits bestowed upon my people; if, from my
present depths of sorrow, aided by your generous hand, I raise myself to
the very height of honor, then to you, whom I thank with blessings, to
you will I offer half my power and my glory: though you would still be
but partly recompensed, and your share must always remain incomplete,
since I could not divide with you the happiness received at your hands.

Monseigneur,replied Aramismoved by the pallor and excitement of the
young manthe nobleness of your heart fills me with joy and
admiration. It is not you who will have to thank me, but rather the
nation whom you will render happy, the posterity whose name you will make
glorious. Yes; I shall indeed have bestowed upon you more than life, I
shall have given you immortality.

The prince offered his hand to Aramiswho sank upon his knee and kissed
it.

It is the first act of homage paid to our future king,said he. "When


I see you againI shall say'Good daysire.'"


Till then,said the young manpressing his wan and wasted fingers over
his heart- "till thenno more dreamsno more strain on my life - my
heart would break! Ohmonsieurhow small is my prison - how low the
window - how narrow are the doors! To think that so much pride
splendorand happinessshould be able to enter in and to remain here!"


Your royal highness makes me proud,said Aramissince you infer it is
I who brought all this.And he rapped immediately on the door. The
jailer came to open it with Baisemeauxwhodevoured by fear and
uneasinesswas beginningin spite of himselfto listen at the door.
Happilyneither of the speakers had forgotten to smother his voiceeven
in the most passionate outbreaks.


What a confessor!said the governorforcing a laugh; "who would
believe that a compulsory reclusea man as though in the very jaws of
deathcould have committed crimes so numerousand so long to tell of?"


Aramis made no reply. He was eager to leave the Bastilewhere the
secret which overwhelmed him seemed to double the weight of the walls.
As soon as they reached Baisemeaux's quartersLet us proceed to
business, my dear governor,said Aramis.


Alas!replied Baisemeaux.


You have to ask me for my receipt for one hundred and fifty thousand
livres,said the bishop.


And to pay over the first third of the sum,added the poor governor
with a sightaking three steps towards his iron strong-box.


Here is the receipt,said Aramis.


And here is the money,returned Baisemeauxwith a threefold sigh.


The order instructed me only to give a receipt; it said nothing about
receiving the money,rejoined Aramis. "Adieumonsieur le governeur!"


And he departedleaving Baisemeaux almost more than stifled with joy and
surprise at this regal present so liberally bestowed by the confessor
extraordinary to the Bastile.


Chapter II:
How Mouston Had Become Fatter without Giving Porthos Notice Thereofand
of the Troubles Which Consequently Befell that Worthy Gentleman.


Since the departure of Athos for BloisPorthos and D'Artagnan were
seldom together. One was occupied with harassing duties for the king
the other had been making many purchases of furniture which he intended
to forward to his estateand by aid of which he hoped to establish in
his various residences something of the courtly luxury he had witnessed
in all its dazzling brightness in his majesty's society. D'Artagnan
ever faithfulone morning during an interval of service thought about
Porthosand being uneasy at not having heard anything of him for a
fortnightdirected his steps towards his hoteland pounced upon him
just as he was getting up. The worthy baron had a pensive - naymore
than pensive - melancholy air. He was sitting on his bedonly half-
dressedand with legs dangling over the edgecontemplating a host of
garmentswhich with their fringeslaceembroideryand slashes of ill-
assorted hueswere strewed all over the floor. Porthossad and
reflective as La Fontaine's haredid not observe D'Artagnan's entrance
which wasmoreoverscreened at this moment by M. Moustonwhose



personal corpulencyquite enough at any time to hide one man from
anotherwas effectually doubled by a scarlet coat which the intendant
was holding up for his master's inspectionby the sleevesthat he might
the better see it all over. D'Artagnan stopped at the threshold and
looked in at the pensive Porthos and thenas the sight of the
innumerable garments strewing the floor caused mighty sighs to heave the
bosom of that excellent gentlemanD'Artagnan thought it time to put an
end to these dismal reflectionsand coughed by way of announcing himself.

Ah!exclaimed Porthoswhose countenance brightened with joy; "ah! ah!
Here is D'Artagnan. I shall then get hold of an idea!"

At these words Moustondoubting what was going on behind himgot out of
the waysmiling kindly at the friend of his masterwho thus found
himself freed from the material obstacle which had prevented his reaching
D'Artagnan. Porthos made his sturdy knees crack again in risingand
crossing the room in two stridesfound himself face to face with his
friendwhom he folded to his breast with a force of affection that
seemed to increase with every day. "Ah!" he repeatedyou are always
welcome, dear friend; but just now you are more welcome than ever.

But you seem to have the megrims here!exclaimed D'Artagnan.

Porthos replied by a look expressive of dejection. "Wellthentell me
all about itPorthosmy friendunless it is a secret."

In the first place,returned Porthosyou know I have no secrets from
you. This, then, is what saddens me.

Wait a minute, Porthos; let me first get rid of all this litter of satin
and velvet!

Oh, never mind,said Porthoscontemptuously; "it is all trash."

Trash, Porthos! Cloth at twenty-five livres an ell! gorgeous satin!
regal velvet!

Then you think these clothes are -

Splendid, Porthos, splendid! I'll wager that you alone in France have
so many; and suppose you never had any more made, and were to live to be
a hundred years of age, which wouldn't astonish me in the very least, you
could still wear a new dress the day of your death, without being obliged
to see the nose of a single tailor from now till then.

Porthos shook his head.

Come, my friend,said D'Artagnanthis unnatural melancholy in you
frightens me. My dear Porthos, pray get it out, then. And the sooner
the better.

Yes, my friend, so I will: if, indeed, it is possible.

Perhaps you have received bad news from Bracieux?

No: they have felled the wood, and it has yielded a third more than the
estimate.

Then there has been a falling-off in the pools of Pierrefonds?

No, my friend: they have been fished, and there is enough left to stock
all the pools in the neighborhood.

Perhaps your estate at Vallon has been destroyed by an earthquake?


No, my friend; on the contrary, the ground was struck with lightning a
hundred paces from the chateau, and a fountain sprung up in a place
entirely destitute of water.

What in the world _is_ the matter, then?

The fact is, I have received an invitation for the _fete_ at Vaux,said
Porthoswith a lugubrious expression.

Well! do you complain of that? The king has caused a hundred mortal
heart-burnings among the courtiers by refusing invitations. And so, my
dear friend, you are really going to Vaux?

Indeed I am!

You will see a magnificent sight.

Alas! I doubt it, though.

Everything that is grand in France will be brought together there!

Ah!cried Porthostearing out a lock of hair in his despair.

Eh! good heavens, are you ill?cried D'Artagnan.

I am as firm as the Pont-Neuf! It isn't that.

But what is it, then?

'Tis that I have no clothes!

D'Artagnan stood petrified. "No clothes! Porthosno clothes!" he
criedwhen I see at least fifty suits on the floor.

Fifty, truly; but not one which fits me!

What? not one that fits you? But are you not measured, then, when you
give an order?

To be sure he is,answered Mouston; "but unfortunately _I_ have gotten
stouter!"

What! _you_ stouter!

So much so that I am now bigger than the baron. Would you believe it,
monsieur?

_Parbleu!_ it seems to me that is quite evident.

Do you see, stupid?said Porthosthat is quite evident!

Be still, my dear Porthos,resumed D'Artagnanbecoming slightly
impatientI don't understand why your clothes should not fit you,
because Mouston has grown stouter.

I am going to explain it,said Porthos. "You remember having related
to me the story of the Roman general Antonywho had always seven wild
boars kept roastingeach cooked up to a different point; so that he
might be able to have his dinner at any time of the day he chose to ask
for it. WellthenI resolvedas at any time I might be invited to
court to spend a weekI resolved to have always seven suits ready for
the occasion."


Capitally reasoned, Porthos - only a man must have a fortune like yours
to gratify such whims. Without counting the time lost in being measured,
the fashions are always changing.

That is exactly the point,said Porthosin regard to which I
flattered myself I had hit on a very ingenious device.

Tell me what it is; for I don't doubt your genius.

You remember what Mouston once was, then?

Yes; when he used to call himself Mousqueton.

And you remember, too, the period when he began to grow fatter?

No, not exactly. I beg your pardon, my good Mouston.

Oh! you are not in fault, monsieur,said Moustongraciously. "You
were in Parisand as for uswe were at Pierrefonds."

Well, well, my dear Porthos; there was a time when Mouston began to grow
fat. Is that what you wished to say?

Yes, my friend; and I greatly rejoice over the period.

Indeed, I believe you do,exclaimed D'Artagnan.

You understand,continued Porthoswhat a world of trouble it spared
for me.

No, I don't - by any means.

Look here, my friend. In the first place, as you have said, to be
measured is a loss of time, even though it occur only once a fortnight.
And then, one may be travelling; and then you wish to have seven suits
always with you. In short, I have a horror of letting any one take my
measure. Confound it! either one is a nobleman or not. To be
scrutinized and scanned by a fellow who completely analyzes you, by inch
and line - 'tis degrading! Here, they find you too hollow; there, too
prominent. They recognize your strong and weak points. See, now, when
we leave the measurer's hands, we are like those strongholds whose angles
and different thicknesses have been ascertained by a spy.

In truth, my dear Porthos, you possess ideas entirely original.

Ah! you see when a man is an engineer -

And has fortified Belle-Isle - 'tis natural, my friend.

Well, I had an idea, which would doubtless have proved a good one, but
for Mouston's carelessness.

D'Artagnan glanced at Moustonwho replied by a slight movement of his
bodyas if to sayYou will see whether I am at all to blame in all
this.

I congratulated myself, then,resumed Porthosat seeing Mouston get
fat; and I did all I could, by means of substantial feeding, to make him
stout - always in the hope that he would come to equal myself in girth,
and could then be measured in my stead.

Ah!cried D'Artagnan. "I see - that spared you both time and
humiliation."


Consider my joy when, after a year and a half's judicious feeding - for
I used to feed him up myself - the fellow -

Oh! I lent a good hand myself, monsieur,said Moustonhumbly.

That's true. Consider my joy when, one morning, I perceived Mouston was
obliged to squeeze in, as I once did myself, to get through the little
secret door that those fools of architects had made in the chamber of the
late Madame du Vallon, in the chateau of Pierrefonds. And, by the way,
about that door, my friend, I should like to ask you, who know
everything, why these wretches of architects, who ought to have the
compasses run into them, just to remind them, came to make doorways
through which nobody but thin people can pass?

Oh, those doors,answered D'Artagnanwere meant for gallants, and
they have generally slight and slender figures.

Madame du Vallon had no gallant!answered Porthosmajestically.

Perfectly true, my friend,resumed D'Artagnan; "but the architects were
probably making their calculations on a basis of the probability of your
marrying again."

Ah! that is possible,said Porthos. "And now I have received an
explanation of how it is that doorways are made too narrowlet us return
to the subject of Mouston's fatness. But see how the two things apply to
each other. I have always noticed that people's ideas run parallel. And
soobserve this phenomenonD'Artagnan. I was talking to you of
Moustonwho is fatand it led us on to Madame du Vallon - "

Who was thin?

Hum! Is it not marvelous?

My dear friend, a _savant_ of my acquaintance, M. Costar, has made the
same observation as you have, and he calls the process by some Greek name
which I forget.

What! my remark is not then original?cried Porthosastounded. "I
thought I was the discoverer."

My friend, the fact was known before Aristotle's days - that is to say,
nearly two thousand years ago.

Well, well, 'tis no less true,said Porthosdelighted at the idea of
having jumped to a conclusion so closely in agreement with the greatest
sages of antiquity.

Wonderfully - but suppose we return to Mouston. It seems to me, we have
left him fattening under our very eyes.

Yes, monsieur,said Mouston.

Well,said PorthosMouston fattened so well, that he gratified all my
hopes, by reaching my standard; a fact of which I was well able to
convince myself, by seeing the rascal, one day, in a waistcoat of mine,
which he had turned into a coat - a waistcoat, the mere embroidery of
which was worth a hundred pistoles.

'Twas only to try it on, monsieur,said Mouston.

From that moment I determined to put Mouston in communication with my
tailors, and to have him measured instead of myself.


A capital idea, Porthos; but Mouston is a foot and a half shorter than
you.

Exactly! They measured him down to the ground, and the end of the skirt
came just below my knee.

What a marvelous man you are, Porthos! Such a thing could happen only
to you.

Ah! yes; pay your compliments; you have ample grounds to go upon. It
was exactly at that time - that is to say, nearly two years and a half
ago - that I set out for Belle-Isle, instructing Mouston (so as always to
have, in every event, a pattern of every fashion) to have a coat made for
himself every month.

And did Mouston neglect complying with your instructions? Ah! that was
anything but right, Mouston.

No, monsieur, quite the contrary; quite the contrary!

No, he never forgot to have his coats made; but he forgot to inform me
that he had got stouter!

But it was not my fault, monsieur! your tailor never told me.

And this to such an extent, monsieur,continued Porthosthat the
fellow in two years has gained eighteen inches in girth, and so my last
dozen coats are all too large, from a foot to a foot and a half.

But the rest; those which were made when you were of the same size?

They are no longer the fashion, my dear friend. Were I to put them on,
I should look like a fresh arrival from Siam; and as though I had been
two years away from court.

I understand your difficulty. You have how many new suits? nine? thirtysix?
and yet not one to wear. Well, you must have a thirty-seventh made,
and give the thirty-six to Mouston.

Ah! monsieur!said Moustonwith a gratified air. "The truth isthat
monsieur has always been very generous to me."

Do you mean to insinuate that I hadn't that idea, or that I was deterred
by the expense? But it wants only two days to the _fete_; I received the
invitation yesterday; made Mouston post hither with my wardrobe, and only
this morning discovered my misfortune; and from now till the day after tomorrow,
there isn't a single fashionable tailor who will undertake to
make me a suit.

That is to say, one covered all over with gold, isn't it?

I wish it so! undoubtedly, all over.

Oh, we shall manage it. You won't leave for three days. The
invitations are for Wednesday, and this is only Sunday morning.

'Tis true; but Aramis has strongly advised me to be at Vaux twenty-four
hours beforehand.

How, Aramis?

Yes, it was Aramis who brought me the invitation.

Ah! to be sure, I see. You are invited on the part of M. Fouquet?


By no means! by the king, dear friend. The letter bears the following
as large as life: 'M. le Baron du Vallon is informed that the king has
condescended to place him on the invitation list - '


Very good; but you leave with M. Fouquet?


And when I think,cried Porthosstamping on the floorwhen I think I
shall have no clothes, I am ready to burst with rage! I should like to
strangle somebody or smash something!


Neither strangle anybody nor smash anything, Porthos; I will manage it
all; put on one of your thirty-six suits, and come with me to a tailor.


Pooh! my agent has seen them all this morning.


Even M. Percerin?


Who is M. Percerin?


Oh! only the king's tailor!


Oh, ah, yes,said Porthoswho wished to appear to know the king's
tailorbut now heard his name mentioned for the first time; "to M.
Percerin'sby Jove! I was afraid he would be too busy."


Doubtless he will be; but be at ease, Porthos; he will do for me what he
wouldn't do for another. Only you must allow yourself to be measured!


Ah!said Porthoswith a sigh'tis vexatious, but what would you have
me do?


Do? As others do; as the king does.


What! do they measure the king, too? does he put up with it?


The king is a beau, my good friend, and so are you, too, whatever you
may say about it.


Porthos smiled triumphantly. "Let us go to the king's tailor he said;
and since he measures the kingI thinkby my faithI may do worse
than allow him to measure _me!_"


Chapter III:
Who Messire Jean Percerin Was.


The king's tailorMessire Jean Percerinoccupied a rather large house
in the Rue St. Honorenear the Rue de l'Arbre Sec. He was a man of
great taste in elegant stuffsembroideriesand velvetsbeing
hereditary tailor to the king. The preferment of his house reached as
far back as the time of Charles IX.; from whose reign datedas we know
fancy in _bravery_ difficult enough to gratify. The Percerin of that
period was a Huguenotlike Ambrose Pareand had been spared by the
Queen of Navarrethe beautiful Margotas they used to write and say
tooin those days; becausein soothhe was the only one who could make
for her those wonderful riding-habits which she so loved to wearseeing
that they were marvelously well suited to hide certain anatomical
defectswhich the Queen of Navarre used very studiously to conceal.
Percerin being savedmadeout of gratitudesome beautiful black
bodicesvery inexpensively indeedfor Queen Catherinewho ended by
being pleased at the preservation of a Huguenot peopleon whom she had
long looked with detestation. But Percerin was a very prudent man; and
having heard it said that there was no more dangerous sign for a



Protestant than to be smiled up on by Catherineand having observed that
her smiles were more frequent than usualhe speedily turned Catholic
with all his family; and having thus become irreproachableattained the
lofty position of master tailor to the Crown of France. Under Henry
III.gay king as he wasthis position was a grand as the height of one
of the loftiest peaks of the Cordilleras. Now Percerin had been a clever
man all his lifeand by way of keeping up his reputation beyond the
gravetook very good care not to make a bad death of itand so
contrived to die very skillfully; and that at the very moment he felt his
powers of invention declining. He left a son and a daughterboth worthy
of the name they were called upon to bear; the sona cutter as unerring
and exact as the square rule; the daughterapt at embroideryand at
designing ornaments. The marriage of Henry IV. and Marie de Mediciand
the exquisite court-mourning for the afore-mentioned queentogether with
a few words let fall by M. de Bassompiereking of the _beaux_ of the
periodmade the fortune of the second generation of Percerins. M.
Concino Conciniand his wife Galligaiwho subsequently shone at the
French courtsought to Italianize the fashionand introduced some
Florentine tailors; but Percerintouched to the quick in his patriotism
and his self-esteementirely defeated these foreignersand that so well
that Concino was the first to give up his compatriotsand held the
French tailor in such esteem that he would never employ any otherand
thus wore a doublet of his on the very day that Vitry blew out his brains
with a pistol at the Pont du Louvre.

And so it was a doublet issuing from M. Percerin's workshopwhich the
Parisians rejoiced in hacking into so many pieces with the living human
body it contained. Notwithstanding the favor Concino Concini had shown
Percerinthe kingLouis XIII.had the generosity to bear no malice to
his tailorand to retain him in his service. At the time that Louis the
Just afforded this great example of equityPercerin had brought up two
sonsone of whom made his _debut_ at the marriage of Anne of Austria
invented that admirable Spanish costumein which Richelieu danced a
sarabandmade the costumes for the tragedy of "Mirame and stitched on
to Buckingham's mantle those famous pearls which were destined to be
scattered about the pavements of the Louvre. A man becomes easily
notable who has made the dresses of a Duke of Buckingham, a M. de Cinq-
Mars, a Mademoiselle Ninon, a M. de Beaufort, and a Marion de Lorme. And
thus Percerin the third had attained the summit of his glory when his
father died. This same Percerin III., old, famous and wealthy, yet
further dressed Louis XIV.; and having no son, which was a great cause of
sorrow to him, seeing that with himself his dynasty would end, he had
brought up several hopeful pupils. He possessed a carriage, a country
house, men-servants the tallest in Paris; and by special authority from
Louis XIV., a pack of hounds. He worked for MM. de Lyonne and Letellier,
under a sort of patronage; but politic man as he was, and versed in state
secrets, he never succeeded in fitting M. Colbert. This is beyond
explanation; it is a matter for guessing or for intuition. Great
geniuses of every kind live on unseen, intangible ideas; they act without
themselves knowing why. The great Percerin (for, contrary to the rule of
dynasties, it was, above all, the last of the Percerins who deserved the
name of Great), the great Percerin was inspired when he cut a robe for
the queen, or a coat for the king; he could mount a mantle for Monsieur,
the clock of a stocking for Madame; but, in spite of his supreme talent,
he could never hit off anything approaching a creditable fit for M.
Colbert. That man he used often to say, is beyond my art; my needle
can never dot him down." We need scarcely say that Percerin was M.
Fouquet's tailorand that the superintendent highly esteemed him. M.
Percerin was nearly eighty years oldnevertheless still freshand at
the same time so drythe courtiers used to saythat he was positively
brittle. His renown and his fortune were great enough for M. le Prince
that king of fopsto take his arm when talking over the fashions; and
for those least eager to pay never to dare to leave their accounts in
arrear with him; for Master Percerin would for the first time make


clothes upon creditbut the second neverunless paid for the former
order.

It is easy to see at once that a tailor of such renowninstead of
running after customersmade difficulties about obliging any fresh
ones. And so Percerin declined to fit _bourgeois_or those who had but
recently obtained patents of nobility. A story used to circulate that
even M. de Mazarinin exchange for Percerin supplying him with a full
suit of ceremonial vestments as cardinalone fine day slipped letters of
nobility into his pocket.

It was to the house of this grand llama of tailors that D'Artagnan took
the despairing Porthos; whoas they were going alongsaid to his
friendTake care, my good D'Artagnan, not to compromise the dignity of
a man such as I am with the arrogance of this Percerin, who will, I
expect, be very impertinent; for I give you notice, my friend, that if he
is wanting in respect I will infallibly chastise him.

Presented by me,replied D'Artagnanyou have nothing to fear, even
though you were what you are not.

Ah! 'tis because -

What? Have you anything against Percerin, Porthos?

I think that I once sent Mouston to a fellow of that name.

And then?

The fellow refused to supply me.

Oh, a misunderstanding, no doubt, which it will be now exceedingly easy
to set right. Mouston must have made a mistake.

Perhaps.

He has confused the names.

Possibly. That rascal Mouston never can remember names.

I will take it all upon myself.

Very good.

Stop the carriage, Porthos; here we are.

Here! how here? We are at the Halles; and you told me the house was at
the corner of the Rue de l'Arbre Sec.

'Tis true, but look.

Well, I do look, and I see -

What?

_Pardieu!_ that we are at the Halles!

You do not, I suppose, want our horses to clamber up on the roof of the
carriage in front of us?

No.

Nor the carriage in front of us to mount on top of the one in front of
it. Nor that the second should be driven over the roofs of the thirty or


forty others which have arrived before us.

No, you are right, indeed. What a number of people! And what are they
all about?

'Tis very simple. They are waiting their turn.

Bah! Have the comedians of the Hotel de Bourgogne shifted their
quarters?

No; their turn to obtain an entrance to M. Percerin's house.

And we are going to wait too?

Oh, we shall show ourselves prompter and not so proud.

What are we to do, then?

Get down, pass through the footmen and lackeys, and enter the tailor's
house, which I will answer for our doing, if you go first.

Come along, then,said Porthos.

They accordingly alighted and made their way on foot towards the
establishment. The cause of the confusion was that M. Percerin's doors
were closedwhile a servantstanding before themwas explaining to
the illustrious customers of the illustrious tailor that just then M.
Percerin could not receive anybody. It was bruited about outside still
on the authority of what the great lackey had told some great noble whom
he favoredin confidencethat M. Percerin was engaged on five costumes
for the kingand thatowing to the urgency of the casehe was
meditating in his office on the ornamentscolorsand cut of these five
suits. Somecontented with this reasonwent away againcontented to
repeat the tale to othersbut othersmore tenaciousinsisted on having
the doors openedand among these last three Blue Ribbonsintended to
take parts in a balletwhich would inevitably fail unless the said three
had their costumes shaped by the very hand of the great Percerin
himself. D'Artagnanpushing on Porthoswho scattered the groups of
people right and leftsucceeded in gaining the counterbehind which
the journeyman tailors were doing their best to answer queries. (We
forgot to mention that at the door they wanted to put off Porthos like
the restbut D'Artagnanshowing himselfpronounced merely these words
The king's order,and was let in with his friend.) The poor fellows
had enough to doand did their bestto reply to the demands of the
customers in the absence of their masterleaving off drawing a stitch to
knit a sentence; and when wounded prideor disappointed expectation
brought down upon them too cutting a rebukehe who was attacked made a
dive and disappeared under the counter. The line of discontented lords
formed a truly remarkable picture. Our captain of musketeersa man of
sure and rapid observationtook it all in at a glance; and having run
over the groupshis eye rested on a man in front of him. This man
seated upon a stoolscarcely showed his head above the counter that
sheltered him. He was about forty years of agewith a melancholy
aspectpale faceand soft luminous eyes. He was looking at D'Artagnan
and the restwith his chin resting upon his handlike a calm and
inquiring amateur. Only on perceivingand doubtless recognizingour
captainhe pulled his hat down over his eyes. It was this action
perhapsthat attracted D'Artagnan's attention. If sothe gentleman
who had pulled down his hat produced an effect entirely different from
what he had desired. In other respects his costume was plainand his
hair evenly cut enough for customerswho were not close observersto
take him for a mere tailor's apprenticeperched behind the boardand
carefully stitching cloth or velvet. Neverthelessthis man held up his
head too often to be very productively employed with his fingers.


D'Artagnan was not deceived- not he; and he saw at once that if this
man was working at anythingit certainly was not at velvet.

Eh!said headdressing this manand so you have become a tailor's
boy, Monsieur Moliere!

Hush, M. d'Artagnan!replied the mansoftlyyou will make them
recognize me.

Well, and what harm?

The fact is, there is no harm, but -

You were going to say there is no good in doing it either, is it not so?

Alas! no; for I was occupied in examining some excellent figures.

Go on - go on, Monsieur Moliere. I quite understand the interest you
take in the plates - I will not disturb your studies.

Thank you.

But on one condition; that you tell me where M. Percerin really is.

Oh! willingly; in his own room. Only -

Only that one can't enter it?

Unapproachable.

For everybody?

Everybody. He brought me here so that I might be at my ease to make my
observations, and then he went away.

Well, my dear Monsieur Moliere, but you will go and tell him I am here.

I!exclaimed Molierein the tone of a courageous dogfrom which you
snatch the bone it has legitimately gained; "I disturb myself! Ah!
Monsieur d'Artagnanhow hard you are upon me!"

If you don't go directly and tell M. Percerin that I am here, my dear
Moliere,said D'Artagnanin a low toneI warn you of one thing: that
I won't exhibit to you the friend I have brought with me.

Moliere indicated Porthos by an imperceptible gestureThis gentleman,
is it not?

Yes.

Moliere fixed upon Porthos one of those looks which penetrate the minds
and hearts of men. The subject doubtless appeared a very promising one
for he immediately rose and led the way into the adjoining chamber.

Chapter IV:
The Patterns.

During all this time the noble mob was slowly heaving awayleaving at
every angle of the counter either a murmur or a menaceas the waves
leave foam or scattered seaweed on the sandswhen they retire with the
ebbing tide. In about ten minutes Moliere reappearedmaking another
sign to D'Artagnan from under the hangings. The latter hurried after
himwith Porthos in the rearand after threading a labyrinth of


corridorsintroduced him to M. Percerin's room. The old manwith his
sleeves turned upwas gathering up in folds a piece of gold-flowered
brocadeso as the better to exhibit its luster. Perceiving D'Artagnan
he put the silk asideand came to meet himby no means radiant with
joyand by no means courteousbuttake it altogetherin a tolerably
civil manner.

The captain of the king's musketeers will excuse me, I am sure, for I am
engaged.

Eh! yes, on the king's costumes; I know that, my dear Monsieur
Percerin. You are making three, they tell me.

Five, my dear sir, five.

Three or five, 'tis all the same to me, my dear monsieur; and I know
that you will make them most exquisitely.

Yes, I know. Once made they will be the most beautiful in the world, I
do not deny it; but that they may be the most beautiful in the word, they
must first be made; and to do this, captain, I am pressed for time.

Oh, bah! there are two days yet; 'tis much more than you require,
Monsieur Percerin,said D'Artagnanin the coolest possible manner.

Percerin raised his head with the air of a man little accustomed to be
contradictedeven in his whims; but D'Artagnan did not pay the least
attention to the airs which the illustrious tailor began to assume.

My dear M. Percerin,he continuedI bring you a customer.

Ah! ah!exclaimed Percerincrossly.

M. le Baron du Vallon de Bracieux de Pierrefonds,continued
D'Artagnan. Percerin attempted a bowwhich found no favor in the eyes
of the terrible Porthoswhofrom his first entry into the roomhad
been regarding the tailor askance.

A very good friend of mine,concluded D'Artagnan.

I will attend to monsieur,said Percerinbut later.

Later? but when?

When I have time.

You have already told my valet as much,broke in Porthos
discontentedly.

Very likely,said Percerin; "I am nearly always pushed for time."

My friend,returned Porthossententiouslythere is always time to be
found when one chooses to seek it.

Percerin turned crimson; an ominous sign indeed in old men blanched by
age.

Monsieur is quite at liberty to confer his custom elsewhere.

Come, come, Percerin,interposed D'Artagnanyou are not in a good
temper to-day. Well, I will say one more word to you, which will bring
you on your knees; monsieur is not only a friend of mine, but more, a
friend of M. Fouquet's.


Ah! ah!exclaimed the tailorthat is another thing.Then turning to
PorthosMonsieur le baron is attached to the superintendent?he
inquired.

I am attached to myself,shouted Porthosat the very moment that the
tapestry was raised to introduce a new speaker in the dialogue. Moliere
was all observationD'Artagnan laughedPorthos swore.

My dear Percerin,said D'Artagnanyou will make a dress for the
baron. 'Tis I who ask you.

To you I will not say nay, captain.

But that is not all; you will make it for him at once.

'Tis impossible within eight days.

That, then, is as much as to refuse, because the dress is wanted for the
_fete_ at Vaux.

I repeat that it is impossible,returned the obstinate old man.

By no means, dear Monsieur Percerin, above all if _I_ ask you,said a
mild voice at the doora silvery voice which made D'Artagnan prick up
his ears. It was the voice of Aramis.

Monsieur d'Herblay!cried the tailor.

Aramis,murmured D'Artagnan.

Ah! our bishop!said Porthos.

Good morning, D'Artagnan; good morning, Porthos; good-morning, my dear
friends,said Aramis. "ComecomeM. Percerinmake the baron's dress;
and I will answer for it you will gratify M. Fouquet." And he
accompanied the words with a signwhich seemed to sayAgree, and
dismiss them.

It appeared that Aramis had over Master Percerin an influence superior
even to D'Artagnan'sfor the tailor bowed in assentand turning round
upon PorthossaidGo and get measured on the other side.

Porthos colored in a formidable manner. D'Artagnan saw the storm coming
and addressing Molieresaid to himin an undertoneYou see before
you, my dear monsieur, a man who considers himself disgraced, if you
measure the flesh and bones that Heaven has given him; study this type
for me, Master Aristophanes, and profit by it.

Moliere had no need of encouragementand his gaze dwelt long and keenly
on the Baron Porthos. "Monsieur he said, if you will come with meI
will make them take your measure without touching you."

Oh!said Porthoshow do you make that out, my friend?

I say that they shall apply neither line nor rule to the seams of your
dress. It is a new method we have invented for measuring people of
quality, who are too sensitive to allow low-born fellows to touch them.
We know some susceptible persons who will not put up with being measured,
a process which, as I think, wounds the natural dignity of a man; and if
perchance monsieur should be one of these -

_Corboeuf!_ I believe I am too!

Well, that is a capital and most consolatory coincidence, and you shall


have the benefit of our invention.

But how in the world can it be done?asked Porthosdelighted.

Monsieur,said Molierebowingif you will deign to follow me, you
will see.

Aramis observed this scene with all his eyes. Perhaps he fancied from
D'Artagnan's liveliness that he would leave with Porthosso as not to
lose the conclusion of a scene well begun. Butclear-sighted as he was
Aramis deceived himself. Porthos and Moliere left together: D'Artagnan
remained with Percerin. Why? From curiositydoubtless; probably to
enjoy a little longer the society of his good friend Aramis. As Moliere
and Porthos disappearedD'Artagnan drew near the bishop of Vannesa
proceeding which appeared particularly to disconcert him.

A dress for you, also, is it not, my friend?

Aramis smiled. "No said he.

You will go to Vauxhowever?"

I shall go, but without a new dress. You forget, dear D'Artagnan, that
a poor bishop of Vannes is not rich enough to have new dresses for every
_fete_.

Bah!said the musketeerlaughingand do we write no more poems now,
either?

Oh! D'Artagnan,exclaimed AramisI have long ago given up all such
tomfoolery.

True,repeated D'Artagnanonly half convinced. As for Percerinhe
was once more absorbed in contemplation of the brocades.

Don't you perceive,said Aramissmilingthat we are greatly boring
this good gentleman, my dear D'Artagnan?

Ah! ah!murmured the musketeeraside; "that isI am boring youmy
friend." Then aloudWell, then, let us leave; I have no further
business here, and if you are as disengaged as I, Aramis -

No, not I - I wished -

Ah! you had something particular to say to M. Percerin? Why did you not
tell me so at once?

Something particular, certainly,repeated Aramisbut not for you,
D'Artagnan. But, at the same time, I hope you will believe that I can
never have anything so particular to say that a friend like you may not
hear it.

Oh, no, no! I am going,said D'Artagnanimparting to his voice an
evident tone of curiosity; for Aramis's annoyancewell dissembled as it
washad not a whit escaped him; and he knew thatin that impenetrable
mindevery thingeven the most apparently trivialwas designed to some
end; an unknown onebut an end thatfrom the knowledge he had of his
friend's characterthe musketeer felt must be important.

On his partAramis saw that D'Artagnan was not without suspicionand
pressed him. "Stayby all means he said, this is what it is." Then
turning towards the tailorMy dear Percerin,said he- "I am even
very happy that you are hereD'Artagnan."


Oh, indeed,exclaimed the Gasconfor the third timeeven less
deceived this time than before.

Percerin never moved. Aramis roused him violentlyby snatching from his
hands the stuff upon which he was engaged. "My dear Percerin said he,
I havenear handM. Lebrunone of M. Fouquet's painters."

Ah, very good,thought D'Artagnan; "but why Lebrun?"

Aramis looked at D'Artagnanwho seemed to be occupied with an engraving
of Mark Antony. "And you wish that I should make him a dresssimilar to
those of the Epicureans?" answered Percerin. And while saying thisin
an absent mannerthe worthy tailor endeavored to recapture his piece of
brocade.

An Epicurean's dress?asked D'Artagnanin a tone of inquiry.

I see,said Aramiswith a most engaging smileit is written that our
dear D'Artagnan shall know all our secrets this evening. Yes, friend,
you have surely heard speak of M. Fouquet's Epicureans, have you not?

Undoubtedly. Is it not a kind of poetical society, of which La
Fontaine, Loret, Pelisson, and Moliere are members, and which holds its
sittings at Saint-Mande?

Exactly so. Well, we are going to put our poets in uniform, and enroll
them in a regiment for the king.

Oh, very well, I understand; a surprise M. Fouquet is getting up for the
king. Be at ease; if that is the secret about M. Lebrun, I will not
mention it.

Always agreeable, my friend. No, Monsieur Lebrun has nothing to do with
this part of it; the secret which concerns him is far more important than
the other.

Then, if it is so important as all that, I prefer not to know it,said
D'Artagnanmaking a show of departure.

Come in, M. Lebrun, come in,said Aramisopening a side-door with his
right handand holding back D'Artagnan with his left.

I'faith, I too, am quite in the dark,quoth Percerin.

Aramis took an "opportunity as is said in theatrical matters.

My dear M. de Percerin Aramis continued, you are making five dresses
for the kingare you not? One in brocade; one in hunting-cloth; one in
velvet; one in satin; and one in Florentine stuffs."

Yes; but how - do you know all that, monseigneur?said Percerin
astounded.

It is all very simple, my dear monsieur; there will be a hunt, a
banquet, concert, promenade and reception; these five kinds of dress are
required by etiquette.

You know everything, monseigneur!

And a thing or two in addition,muttered D'Artagnan.

But,cried the tailorin triumphwhat you do not know, monseigneur –
prince of the church though you are - what nobody will know - what only
the king, Mademoiselle de la Valliere, and myself do know, is the color


of the materials and nature of the ornaments, and the cut, the
_ensemble_, the finish of it all!

Well,said Aramisthat is precisely what I have come to ask you, dear
Percerin.

Ah, bah!exclaimed the tailorterrifiedthough Aramis had pronounced
these words in his softest and most honeyed tones. The request appeared
on reflectionso exaggeratedso ridiculousso monstrous to M. Percerin
that first he laughed to himselfthen aloudand finished with a shout.
D'Artagnan followed his examplenot because he found the matter so "very
funny but in order not to allow Aramis to cool.

At the outsetI appear to be hazarding an absurd questiondo I not?"
said Aramis. "But D'Artagnanwho is incarnate wisdom itselfwill tell
you that I could not do otherwise than ask you this."

Let us see,said the attentive musketeer; perceiving with his wonderful
instinct that they had only been skirmishing till nowand that the hour
of battle was approaching.

Let us see,said Percerinincredulously.

Why, now,continued Aramisdoes M. Fouquet give the king a _fete?_ -
Is it not to please him?

Assuredly,said Percerin. D'Artagnan nodded assent.

By delicate attentions? by some happy device? by a succession of
surprises, like that of which we were talking? - the enrolment of our
Epicureans.

Admirable.

Well, then; this is the surprise we intend. M. Lebrun here is a man who
draws most excellently.

Yes,said Percerin; "I have seen his picturesand observed that his
dresses were highly elaborated. That is why I at once agreed to make him
a costume - whether to agree with those of the Epicureansor an original
one."

My dear monsieur, we accept your offer, and shall presently avail
ourselves of it; but just now, M. Lebrun is not in want of the dresses
you will make for himself, but of those you are making for the king.

Percerin made a bound backwardswhich D'Artagnan - calmest and most
appreciative of mendid not consider overdoneso many strange and
startling aspects wore the proposal which Aramis had just hazarded. "The
king's dresses! Give the king's dresses to any mortal whatever! Oh! for
oncemonseigneuryour grace is mad!" cried the poor tailor in extremity.

Help me now, D'Artagnan,said Aramismore and more calm and smiling.
Help me now to persuade monsieur, for _you_ understand; do you not?

Eh! eh! - not exactly, I declare.

What! you do not understand that M. Fouquet wishes to afford the king
the surprise of finding his portrait on his arrival at Vaux; and that the
portrait, which be a striking resemblance, ought to be dressed exactly as
the king will be on the day it is shown?

Oh! yes, yes,said the musketeernearly convincedso plausible was
this reasoning. "Yesmy dear Aramisyou are right; it is a happy


idea. I will wager it is one of your ownAramis."

Well, I don't know,replied the bishop; "either mine or M. Fouquet's."
Then scanning Percerinafter noticing D'Artagnan's hesitationWell,
Monsieur Percerin,he askedwhat do you say to this?

I say, that -

That you are, doubtless, free to refuse. I know well - and I by no
means count upon compelling you, my dear monsieur. I will say more, I
even understand all the delicacy you feel in taking up with M. Fouquet's
idea; you dread appearing to flatter the king. A noble spirit, M.
Percerin, a noble spirit!The tailor stammered. "It wouldindeedbe
a very pretty compliment to pay the young prince continued Aramis; but
as the surintendant told me'if Percerin refusetell him that it will
not at all lower him in my opinionand I shall always esteem himonly

-'"
'Only?'repeated Percerinrather troubled.

'Only,'continued Aramis'I shall be compelled to say to the king,' –
you understand, my dear Monsieur Percerin, that these are M. Fouquet's
words, - 'I shall be constrained to say to the king, SireI had
intended to present your majesty with your portraitbut owing to a
feeling of delicacyslightly exaggerated perhapsalthough creditable

M. Percerin opposed the project."'"
Opposed!cried the tailorterrified at the responsibility which would
weigh upon him; "I to oppose the desirethe will of M. Fouquet when he
is seeking to please the king! Ohwhat a hateful word you have uttered
monseigneur. Oppose! Oh'tis not I who said itHeaven have mercy on
me. I call the captain of the musketeers to witness it! Is it not true
Monsieur d'Artagnanthat I have opposed nothing?"

D'Artagnan made a sign indicating that he wished to remain neutral. He
felt that there was an intrigue at the bottom of itwhether comedy or
tragedy; he was at his wit's end at not being able to fathom itbut in
the meanwhile wished to keep clear.

But already Perceringoaded by the idea that the king was to be told he
stood in the way of a pleasant surprisehad offered Lebrun a chairand
proceeded to bring from a wardrobe four magnificent dressesthe fifth
being still in the workmen's hands; and these masterpieces he
successively fitted upon four lay figureswhichimported into France in
the time of Concinihad been given to Percerin II. by Marshal d'Onore
after the discomfiture of the Italian tailors ruined in their
competition. The painter set to work to draw and then to paint the
dresses. But Aramiswho was closely watching all the phases of his
toilsuddenly stopped him.

I think you have not quite got it, my dear Lebrun,he said; "your
colors will deceive youand on canvas we shall lack that exact
resemblance which is absolutely requisite. Time is necessary for
attentively observing the finer shades."

Quite true,said Percerinbut time is wanting, and on that head, you
will agree with me, monseigneur, I can do nothing.

Then the affair will fail,said Aramisquietlyand that because of a
want of precision in the colors.

Nevertheless Lebrun went on copying the materials and ornaments with the
closest fidelity - a process which Aramis watched with ill-concealed
impatience.


What in the world, now, is the meaning of this imbroglio?the musketeer
kept saying to himself.


That will never do,said Aramis: "M. Lebrunclose your boxand roll
up your canvas."


But, monsieur,cried the vexed painterthe light is abominable here.


An idea, M. Lebrun, an idea! If we had a pattern of the materials, for
example, and with time, and a better light -


Oh, then,cried LebrunI would answer for the effect.


Good!said D'Artagnanthis ought to be the knotty point of the whole
thing; they want a pattern of each of the materials. _Mordioux!_ Will
this Percerin give in now?


Percerinbeaten from his last retreatand dupedmoreoverby the
feigned good-nature of Aramiscut out five patterns and handed them to
the bishop of Vannes.


I like this better. That is your opinion, is it not?said Aramis to
D'Artagnan.


My dear Aramis,said D'Artagnanmy opinion is that you are always the
same.


And, consequently, always your friend,said the bishop in a charming
tone.


Yes, yes,said D'Artagnanaloud; thenin a low voiceIf I am your
dupe, double Jesuit that you are, I will not be your accomplice; and to
prevent it, 'tis time I left this place. - Adieu, Aramis,he added
aloudadieu; I am going to rejoin Porthos.


Then wait for me,said Aramispocketing the patternsfor I have
done, and shall be glad to say a parting word to our dear old friend.


Lebrun packed up his paints and brushesPercerin put back the dresses
into the closetAramis put his hand on his pocket to assure himself the
patterns were secure- and they all left the study.


Chapter V:
WhereProbablyMoliere Obtained His First Idea of the Bourgeois
Gentilhomme.


D'Artagnan found Porthos in the adjoining chamber; but no longer an
irritated Porthosor a disappointed Porthosbut Porthos radiant
bloomingfascinatingand chattering with Molierewho was looking upon
him with a species of idolatryand as a man would who had not only never
seen anything greaterbut not even ever anything so great. Aramis went
straight up to Porthos and offered him his white handwhich lost itself
in the gigantic clasp of his old friend- an operation which Aramis
never hazarded without a certain uneasiness. But the friendly pressure
having been performed not too painfully for himthe bishop of Vannes
passed over to Moliere.


Well, monsieur,said hewill you come with me to Saint-Mande?


I will go anywhere you like, monseigneur,answered Moliere.


To Saint-Mande!cried Porthossurprised at seeing the proud bishop of



Vannes fraternizing with a journeyman tailor. "WhatAramisare you
going to take this gentleman to Saint-Mande?"

Yes,said Aramissmilingour work is pressing.

And besides, my dear Porthos,continued D'ArtagnanM. Moliere is not
altogether what he seems.

In what way?asked Porthos.

Why, this gentleman is one of M. Percerin's chief clerks, and is
expected at Saint-Mande to try on the dresses which M. Fouquet has
ordered for the Epicureans.

'Tis precisely so,said Moliere.

Yes, monsieur.

Come, then, my dear M. Moliere,said Aramisthat is, if you have
done with M. du Vallon.

We have finished,replied Porthos.

And you are satisfied?asked D'Artagnan.

Completely so,replied Porthos.

Moliere took his leave of Porthos with much ceremonyand grasped the
hand which the captain of the musketeers furtively offered him.

Pray, monsieur,concluded Porthosmincinglyabove all, be exact.

You will have your dress the day after to-morrow, monsieur le baron,
answered Moliere. And he left with Aramis.

Then D'Artagnantaking Porthos's armWhat has this tailor done for
you, my dear Porthos,he askedthat you are so pleased with him?

What has he done for me, my friend! done for me!cried Porthos
enthusiastically.

Yes, I ask you, what has he done for you?

My friend, he has done that which no tailor ever yet accomplished: he
has taken my measure without touching me!

Ah, bah! tell me how he did it.

First, then, they went, I don't know where, for a number of lay figures,
of all heights and sizes, hoping there would be one to suit mine, but the
largest - that of the drum-major of the Swiss guard - was two inches too
short, and a half foot too narrow in the chest.

Indeed!

It is exactly as I tell you, D'Artagnan; but he is a great man, or at
the very least a great tailor, is this M. Moliere. He was not at all put
at fault by the circumstance.

What did he do, then?

Oh! it is a very simple matter. I'faith, 'tis an unheard-of thing that
people should have been so stupid as not to have discovered this method
from the first. What annoyance and humiliation they would have spared


me!

Not to mention of the costumes, my dear Porthos.

Yes, thirty dresses.

Well, my dear Porthos, come, tell me M. Moliere's plan.

Moliere? You call him so, do you? I shall make a point of recollecting
his name.

Yes; or Poquelin, if you prefer that.

No; I like Moliere best. When I wish to recollect his name, I shall
think of _voliere_ [an aviary]; and as I have one at Pierrefonds -

Capital!returned D'Artagnan. "And M. Moliere's plan?"

'Tis this: instead of pulling me to pieces, as all these rascals do - of
making me bend my back, and double my joints - all of them low and
dishonorable practices - D'Artagnan made a sign of approbation with
his head. "'Monsieur' he said to me continued Porthos, 'a gentleman
ought to measure himself. Do me the pleasure to draw near this glass;'
and I drew near the glass. I must own I did not exactly understand what
this good M. Voliere wanted with me."

Moliere!

Ah! yes, Moliere - Moliere. And as the fear of being measured still
possessed me, 'Take care,' said I to him, 'what you are going to do with
me; I am very ticklish, I warn you.' But he, with his soft voice (for he
is a courteous fellow, we must admit, my friend), he with his soft voice,
'Monsieur,' said he, 'that your dress may fit you well, it must be made
according to your figure. Your figure is exactly reflected in this
mirror. We shall take the measure of this reflection.'

In fact,said D'Artagnanyou saw yourself in the glass; but where did
they find one in which you could see your whole figure?

My good friend, it is the very glass in which the king is used to look
to see himself.

Yes; but the king is a foot and a half shorter than you are.

Ah! well, I know not how that may be; it is, no doubt, a cunning way of
flattering the king; but the looking-glass was too large for me. 'Tis
true that its height was made up of three Venetian plates of glass,
placed one above another, and its breadth of three similar parallelograms
in juxtaposition.

Oh, Porthos! what excellent words you have command of. Where in the
word did you acquire such a voluminous vocabulary?

At Belle-Isle. Aramis and I had to use such words in our strategic
studies and castramentative experiments.

D'Artagnan recoiledas though the sesquipedalian syllables had knocked
the breath out of his body.

Ah! very good. Let us return to the looking-glass, my friend.

Then, this good M. Voliere -

Moliere.


Yes - Moliere - you are right. You will see now, my dear friend, that I
shall recollect his name quite well. This excellent M. Moliere set to
work tracing out lines on the mirror, with a piece of Spanish chalk,
following in all the make of my arms and my shoulders, all the while
expounding this maxim, which I thought admirable: 'It is advisable that a
dress should not incommode its wearer.'

In reality,said D'Artagnanthat is an excellent maxim, which is,
unfortunately, seldom carried out in practice.

That is why I found it all the more astonishing, when he expatiated upon
it.

Ah! he expatiated?

_Parbleu!_

Let me hear his theory.

'Seeing that,' he continued, 'one may, in awkward circumstances, or in a
troublesome position, have one's doublet on one's shoulder, and not
desire to take one's doublet off - '

True,said D'Artagnan.

'And so,' continued M. Voliere -

Moliere.

Moliere, yes. 'And so,' went on M. Moliere, 'you want to draw your
sword, monsieur, and you have your doublet on your back. What do you do?'

'I take it off' I answered.

'Well, no,' he replied.

'How no?'

'I say that the dress should be so well made, that it will in no way
encumber you, even in drawing your sword.'

'Ahah!'

'Throw yourself on guard,' pursued he.

I did it with such wondrous firmnessthat two panes of glass burst out
of the window.

''Tis nothing, nothing,' said he. 'Keep your position.'

I raised my left arm in the airthe forearm gracefully bentthe ruffle
droopingand my wrist curvedwhile my right armhalf extended
securely covered my wrist with the elbowand my breast with the wrist."

Yes,said D'Artagnan'tis the true guard - the academic guard.

You have said the very word, dear friend. In the meanwhile, Voliere -

Moliere.

Hold! I should certainly, after all, prefer to call him - what did you
say his other name was?


Poquelin.
I prefer to call him Poquelin.
And how will you remember this name better than the other?
You understand, he calls himself Poquelin, does he not?
Yes.
If I were to call to mind Madame Coquenard.
Good.
And change _Coc_ into _Poc_, _nard_ into _lin_; and instead of Coquenard


I shall have Poquelin.


'Tis wonderful,cried D'Artagnanastounded. "Go onmy friendI am
listening to you with admiration."
This Coquelin sketched my arm on the glass.
I beg your pardon - Poquelin.
What did I say, then?
You said Coquelin.
Ah! true. This Poquelin, then, sketched my arm on the glass; but he


took his time over it; he kept looking at me a good deal. The fact is,
that I must have been looking particularly handsome.

'Does it weary you?' he asked.
'A little' I repliedbending a little in my hands'but I could hold
out for an hour or so longer.'


'No, no, I will not allow it; the willing fellows will make it a duty to
support your arms, as of old, men supported those of the prophet.'
'Very good' I answered.


'That will not be humiliating to you?'
'My friend' said I'there isI thinka great difference between
being supported and being measured.'"


The distinction is full of the soundest sense,interrupted D'Artagnan.
Then,continued Porthoshe made a sign: two lads approached; one

supported my left arm, while the other, with infinite address, supported
my right.
'Another, my man,' cried he. A third approached. 'Support monsieur by

the waist,' said he. The _garcon_ complied.
So that you were at rest?asked D'Artagnan.
Perfectly; and Pocquenard drew me on the glass.
Poquelin, my friend.
Poquelin - you are right. Stay, decidedly I prefer calling him Voliere.



Yes; and then it was over, wasn't it?

During that time Voliere drew me as I appeared in the mirror.

'Twas delicate in him.

I much like the plan; it is respectful, and keeps every one in his
place.

And there it ended?

Without a soul having touched me, my friend.

Except the three _garcons_ who supported you.

Doubtless; but I have, I think, already explained to you the difference
there is between supporting and measuring.

'Tis true,answered D'Artagnan; who said afterwards to himself
I'faith, I greatly deceive myself, or I have been the means of a good
windfall to that rascal Moliere, and we shall assuredly see the scene hit
off to the life in some comedy or other.Porthos smiled.

What are you laughing at?asked D'Artagnan.

Must I confess? Well, I was laughing over my good fortune.

Oh, that is true; I don't know a happier man than you. But what is this
last piece of luck that has befallen you?'

Wellmy dear fellowcongratulate me."

I desire nothing better.

It seems that I am the first who has had his measure taken in that
manner.

Are you so sure of it?'

Nearly so. Certain signs of intelligence which passed between Voliere
and the other _garcons_ showed me the fact."

Well, my friend, that does not surprise me from Moliere,said
D'Artagnan.

Voliere, my friend.

Oh, no, no, indeed! I am very willing to leave you to go on saying
Voliere; but, as for me, I shall continued to say Moliere. Well, this, I
was saying, does not surprise me, coming from Moliere, who is a very
ingenious fellow, and inspired you with this grand idea.

It will be of great use to him by and by, I am sure.

Won't it be of use to him, indeed? I believe you, it will, and that in
the highest degree; - for you see my friend Moliere is of all known
tailors the man who best clothes our barons, comtes, and marquises according
to their measure.

On this observationneither the application nor depth of which we shall
discussD'Artagnan and Porthos quitted M. de Percerin's house and
rejoined their carriageswherein we will leave themin order to look
after Moliere and Aramis at Saint-Mande.


Chapter VI:
The Bee-Hivethe Beesand the Honey.


The bishop of Vannesmuch annoyed at having met D'Artagnan at M.
Percerin'sreturned to Saint-Mande in no very good humor. Moliereon
the other handquite delighted at having made such a capital rough
sketchand at knowing where to find his original againwhenever he
should desire to convert his sketch into a pictureMoliere arrived in
the merriest of moods. All the first story of the left wing was occupied
by the most celebrated Epicureans in Parisand those on the freest
footing in the house - every one in his compartmentlike the bees in
their cellsemployed in producing the honey intended for that royal cake
which M. Fouquet proposed to offer his majesty Louis XIV. during the
_fete_ at Vaux. Pelissonhis head leaning on his handwas engaged in
drawing out the plan of the prologue to the "Facheux a comedy in three
acts, which was to be put on the stage by Poquelin de Moliere, as
D'Artagnan called him, or Coquelin de Voliere, as Porthos styled him.
Loret, with all the charming innocence of a gazetteer, - the gazetteers
of all ages have always been so artless! - Loret was composing an account
of the _fetes_ at Vaux, before those _fetes_ had taken place. La
Fontaine sauntered about from one to the other, a peripatetic, absent-
minded, boring, unbearable dreamer, who kept buzzing and humming at
everybody's elbow a thousand poetic abstractions. He so often disturbed
Pelisson, that the latter, raising his head, crossly said, At leastLa
Fontainesupply me with a rhymesince you have the run of the gardens
at Parnassus."


What rhyme do you want?asked the _Fabler_ as Madame de Sevigne used to
call him.


I want a rhyme to _lumiere_.


_Orniere_,answered La Fontaine.


Ah, but, my good friend, one cannot talk of _wheel-ruts_ when
celebrating the delights of Vaux,said Loret.


Besides, it doesn't rhyme,answered Pelisson.


What! doesn't rhyme!cried La Fontainein surprise.


Yes; you have an abominable habit, my friend, - a habit which will ever
prevent your becoming a poet of the first order. You rhyme in a slovenly
manner.


Oh, oh, you think so, do you, Pelisson?


Yes, I do, indeed. Remember that a rhyme is never good so long as one
can find a better.


Then I will never write anything again save in prose,said La Fontaine
who had taken up Pelisson's reproach in earnest. "Ah! I often suspected
I was nothing but a rascally poet! Yes'tis the very truth."


Do not say so; your remark is too sweeping, and there is much that is
good in your 'Fables.'


And to begin,continued La Fontainefollowing up his ideaI will go
and burn a hundred verses I have just made.


Where are your verses?


In my head.



Well, if they are in your head you cannot burn them.
True,said La Fontaine; "but if I do not burn them - "
Well, what will happen if you do not burn them?
They will remain in my mind, and I shall never forget them!
The deuce!cried Loret; "what a dangerous thing! One would go mad with it!"
The deuce! the deuce!repeated La Fontaine; "what can I do?"
I have discovered the way,said Molierewho had entered just at this


point of the conversation.
What way?
Write them first and burn them afterwards.
How simple! Well, I should never have discovered that. What a mind


that devil of a Moliere has!said La Fontaine. Thenstriking his


foreheadOh, thou wilt never be aught but an ass, Jean La Fontaine!he


added.


_What_ are you saying there, my friend?broke in Moliereapproaching


the poetwhose aside he had heard.
I say I shall never be aught but an ass,answered La Fontainewith a
heavy sigh and swimming eyes. "Yesmy friend he added, with
increasing grief, it seems that I rhyme in a slovenly manner."


Oh, 'tis wrong to say so.


Nay, I am a poor creature!


Who said so?


_Parbleu!_ 'twas Pelisson; did you not, Pelisson?


Pelissonagain absorbed in his worktook good care not to answer.


But if Pelisson said you were so,cried MolierePelisson has


seriously offended you.
Do you think so?
Ah! I advise you, as you are a gentleman, not to leave an insult like


that unpunished.
_What!_exclaimed La Fontaine.
Did you ever fight?
Once only, with a lieutenant in the light horse.
What wrong had he done you?
It seems he ran away with my wife.
Ah, ah!said Molierebecoming slightly pale; but asat La Fontaine's


declarationthe others had turned roundMoliere kept upon his lips the


rallying smile which had so nearly died awayand continuing to make La


Fontaine speak



And what was the result of the duel?

The result was, that on the ground my opponent disarmed me, and then
made an apology, promising never again to set foot in my house.

And you considered yourself satisfied?said Moliere.

Not at all! on the contrary, I picked up my sword. 'I beg your pardon,
monsieur,' I said, 'I have not fought you because you were my wife's
friend, but because I was told I ought to fight. So, as I have never
known any peace save since you made her acquaintance, do me the pleasure
to continue your visits as heretofore, or _morbleu!_ let us set to
again.' And so,continued La Fontainehe was compelled to resume his
friendship with madame, and I continue to be the happiest of husbands.

All burst out laughing. Moliere alone passed his hand across his eyes.
Why? Perhaps to wipe away a tearperhaps to smother a sigh. Alas! we
know that Moliere was a moralistbut he was not a philosopher. "'Tis
all one he said, returning to the topic of the conversation, Pelisson
has insulted you."

Ah, truly! I had already forgotten it.

And I am going to challenge him on your behalf.

Well, you can do so, if you think it indispensable.

I do think it indispensable, and I am going to -

Stay,exclaimed La FontaineI want your advice.

Upon what? this insult?

No; tell me really now whether _lumiere_ does not rhyme with _orniere_.

I should make them rhyme.

Ah! I knew you would.

And I have made a hundred thousand such rhymes in my time.

A hundred thousand!cried La Fontaine. "Four times as many as 'La
Pucelle' which M. Chaplain is meditating. Is it also on this subject
toothat you have composed a hundred thousand verses?"

Listen to me, you eternally absent-minded creature,said Moliere.

It is certain,continued La Fontainethat _legume_, for instance,
rhymes with _posthume_.

In the plural, above all.

Yes, above all in the plural, seeing that then it rhymes not with three
letters, but with four; as _orniere_ does with _lumiere_.

But give me _ornieres_ and _lumieres_ in the plural, my dear Pelisson,
said La Fontaineclapping his hand on the shoulder of his friendwhose
insult he had quite forgottenand they will rhyme.

Hem!coughed Pelisson.

Moliere says so, and Moliere is a judge of such things; he declares he
has himself made a hundred thousand verses.


Come,said Molierelaughinghe is off now.


It is like _rivage_, which rhymes admirably with _herbage_. I would
take my oath of it.
But - said Moliere.


I tell you all this,continued La Fontainebecause you are preparing
a _divertissement_ for Vaux, are you not?

Yes, the 'Facheux.'

Ah, yes, the 'Facheux;' yes, I recollect. Well, I was thinking a
prologue would admirably suit your _divertissement_.

Doubtless it would suit capitally.
Ah! you are of my opinion?

So much so, that I have asked you to write this very prologue.
You asked _me_ to write it?

Yes, you, and on your refusal begged you to ask Pelisson, who is engaged
upon it at this moment.

Ah! that is what Pelisson is doing, then? I'faith, my dear Moliere, you
are indeed often right.

When?

When you call me absent-minded. It is a monstrous defect; I will cure
myself of it, and do your prologue for you.

But inasmuch as Pelisson is about it! -

Ah, true, miserable rascal that I am! Loret was indeed right in saying
I was a poor creature.

It was not Loret who said so, my friend.

Well, then, whoever said so, 'tis the same to me! And so your
_divertissement_ is called the 'Facheux?' Well, can you make _heureux_
rhyme with _facheux?_

If obliged, yes.

And even with _capriceux_.
Oh, no, no.


It would be hazardous, and yet why so?
There is too great a difference in the cadences.


I was fancying,said La Fontaineleaving Moliere for Loret - "I was
fancying - "

What were you fancying?said Loretin the middle of a sentence. "Make
haste."

You are writing the prologue to the 'Facheux,' are you not?


No! _mordieu!_ it is Pelisson.

Ah, Pelisson,cried La Fontainegoing over to himI was fancying,
he continuedthat the nymph of Vaux -

Ah, beautiful!cried Loret. "The nymph of Vaux! thank youLa
Fontaine; you have just given me the two concluding verses of my paper."

Well, if you can rhyme so well, La Fontaine,said Pelissontell me
now in what way you would begin my prologue?

I should say, for instance, 'Oh! nymph, who - ' After 'who' I should
place a verb in the second person singular of the present indicative; and
should go on thus: 'this grot profound.'

But the verb, the verb?asked Pelisson.

To admire the greatest king of all kings round,continued La Fontaine.

But the verb, the verb,obstinately insisted Pelisson. "This second
person singular of the present indicative?"
Well, then; quittest:


Ohnymphwho quittest now this grot profound
To admire the greatest king of all kings round."

You would not put 'who quittest,' would you?

Why not?
'Quittest,' after 'you who'?


Ah! my dear fellow,exclaimed La Fontaineyou are a shocking pedant!


Without counting,said Molierethat the second verse, 'king of all
kings round,' is very weak, my dear La Fontaine.

Then you see clearly I am nothing but a poor creature, - a shuffler, as
you said.

I never said so.
Then, as Loret said.

And it was not Loret either; it was Pelisson.

Well, Pelisson was right a hundred times over. But what annoys me more
than anything, my dear Moliere, is, that I fear we shall not have our
Epicurean dresses.

You expected yours, then, for the _fete?_

Yes, for the _fete_, and then for after the _fete_. My housekeeper told
me that my own is rather faded.

_Diable!_ your housekeeper is right; rather more than faded.

Ah, you see,resumed La Fontainethe fact is, I left it on the floor
in my room, and my cat -

Well, your cat -
She made her nest upon it, which has rather changed its color.



Moliere burst out laughing; Pelisson and Loret followed his example. At
this juncturethe bishop of Vannes appearedwith a roll of plans and
parchments under his arm. As if the angel of death had chilled all gay
and sprightly fancies - as if that wan form had scared away the Graces to
whom Xenocrates sacrificed - silence immediately reigned through the
studyand every one resumed his self-possession and his pen. Aramis
distributed the notes of invitationand thanked them in the name of M.
Fouquet. "The superintendent he said, being kept to his room by
businesscould not come and see thembut begged them to send him some
of the fruits of their day's workto enable him to forget the fatigue of
his labor in the night."

At these wordsall settled down to work. La Fontaine placed himself at
a tableand set his rapid pen an endless dance across the smooth white
vellum; Pelisson made a fair copy of his prologue; Moliere contributed
fifty fresh verseswith which his visit to Percerin had inspired him;
Loretan article on the marvelous _fetes_ he predicted; and Aramis
laden with his booty like the king of the beesthat great black drone
decked with purple and goldre-entered his apartmentsilent and busy.
But before departingRemember, gentlemen,said hewe leave to-morrow
evening.

In that case, I must give notice at home,said Moliere.

Yes; poor Moliere!said Loretsmiling; "he loves his home."

'_He_ loves,' yes,replied Molierewith his sadsweet smile. "'He
loves' that does not meanthey love _him_."

As for me,said La Fontainethey love me at Chateau Thierry, I am
very sure.

Aramis here re-entered after a brief disappearance.

Will any one go with me?he asked. "I am going by Parisafter having
passed a quarter of an hour with M. Fouquet. I offer my carriage."

Good,said MoliereI accept it. I am in a hurry.

I shall dine here,said Loret. "M. de Gourville has promised me some
craw-fish."

He has promised me some whitings. Find a rhyme for that, La Fontaine.

Aramis went out laughingas only he could laughand Moliere followed
him. They were at the bottom of the stairswhen La Fontaine opened the
doorand shouted out:

He has promised us some whitings,
In return for these our writings.

The shouts of laughter reached the ears of Fouquet at the moment Aramis
opened the door of the study. As to Molierehe had undertaken to order
the horseswhile Aramis went to exchange a parting word with the
superintendent. "Ohhow they are laughing there!" said Fouquetwith a
sigh.

Do you not laugh, monseigneur?

I laugh no longer now, M. d'Herblay. The _fete_ is approaching; money
is departing.


Have I not told you that was my business?
Yes, you promised me millions.

You shall have them the day after the king's _entree_ into Vaux.

Fouquet looked closely at Aramisand passed the back of his icy hand
across his moistened brow. Aramis perceived that the superintendent
either doubted himor felt he was powerless to obtain the money. How
could Fouquet suppose that a poor bishopex-abbeex-musketeercould
find any?

Why doubt me?said Aramis. Fouquet smiled and shook his head.
Man of little faith!added the bishop.

My dear M. d'Herblay,answered Fouquetif I fall -
Well; if you 'fall'?

I shall, at least, fall from such a height, that I shall shatter myself
in falling.Then giving himself a shakeas though to escape from
himselfWhence came you,said hemy friend?

From Paris - from Percerin.

And what have you been doing at Percerin's, for I suppose you attach no
great importance to our poets' dresses?

No; I went to prepare a surprise.
Surprise?

Yes; which you are going to give to the king.
And will it cost much?

Oh! a hundred pistoles you will give Lebrun.

A painting? - Ah! all the better! And what is this painting to
represent?

I will tell you; then at the same time, whatever you may say or think of
it, I went to see the dresses for our poets.

Bah! and they will be rich and elegant?

Splendid! There will be few great monseigneurs with so good. People
will see the difference there is between the courtiers of wealth and
those of friendship.

Ever generous and grateful, dear prelate.

In your school.
Fouquet grasped his hand. "And where are you going?" he said.


I am off to Paris, when you shall have given a certain letter.
For whom?


M. de Lyonne.
And what do you want with Lyonne?



I wish to make him sign a _lettre de cachet_.

'_Lettre de cachet!_' Do you desire to put somebody in the Bastile?

On the contrary - to let somebody out.

And who?

A poor devil - a youth, a lad who has been Bastiled these ten years, for
two Latin verses he made against the Jesuits.


'Two Latin verses!' and, for 'two Latin verses,' the miserable being has
been in prison for ten years!


Yes!


And has committed no other crime?


Beyond this, he is as innocent as you or I.


On your word?


On my honor!


And his name is -


Seldon.


Yes. - But it is too bad. You knew this, and you never told me!


'Twas only yesterday his mother applied to me, monseigneur.


And the woman is poor!


In the deepest misery.


Heaven,said Fouquetsometimes bears with such injustice on earth,
that I hardly wonder there are wretches who doubt of its existence.
Stay, M. d'Herblay.And Fouquettaking a penwrote a few rapid lines
to his colleague Lyonne. Aramis took the letter and made ready to go.


Wait,said Fouquet. He opened his drawerand took out ten government
notes which were thereeach for a thousand francs. "Stay he said;
set the son at libertyand give this to the mother; butabove alldo
not tell her - "


What, monseigneur?


That she is ten thousand livres richer than I. She would say I am but a
poor superintendent! Go! and I pray that God will bless those who are
mindful of his poor!


So also do I pray,replied Aramiskissing Fouquet's hand.


And he went out quicklycarrying off the letter for Lyonne and the notes
for Seldon's motherand taking up Molierewho was beginning to lose
patience.


Chapter VII:
Another Supper at the Bastile.


Seven o'clock sounded from the great clock of the Bastilethat famous
clockwhichlike all the accessories of the state prisonthe very use



of which is a torturerecalled to the prisoners' minds the destination
of every hour of their punishment. The time-piece of the Bastile
adorned with figureslike most of the clocks of the periodrepresented
St. Peter in bonds. It was the supper hour of the unfortunate captives.
The doorsgrating on their enormous hingesopened for the passage of
the baskets and trays of provisionsthe abundance and the delicacy of
whichas M. de Baisemeaux has himself taught uswas regulated by the
condition in life of the prisoner. We understand on this head the
theories of M. de Baisemeauxsovereign dispenser of gastronomic
delicacieshead cook of the royal fortresswhose traysfull-laden
were ascending the steep staircasescarrying some consolation to the
prisoners in the shape of honestly filled bottles of good vintages. This
same hour was that of M. le gouverneur's supper also. He had a guest today
and the spit turned more heavily than usual. Roast partridges
flanked with quails and flanking a larded leveret; boiled fowls; hams
fried and sprinkled with white wine_cardons_ of Guipuzcoa and _la
bisque ecrevisses_: thesetogether with soups and _hors d'oeuvres_
constituted the governor's bill of fare. Baisemeauxseated at table
was rubbing his hands and looking at the bishop of Vanneswhobooted
like a cavalierdressed in gray and sword at sidekept talking of his
hunger and testifying the liveliest impatience. M. de Baisemeaux de
Montlezun was not accustomed to the unbending movements of his greatness
my lord of Vannesand this evening Aramisbecoming sprightly
volunteered confidence on confidence. The prelate had again a little
touch of the musketeer about him. The bishop just trenched on the
borders only of license in his style of conversation. As for M. de
Baisemeauxwith the facility of vulgar peoplehe gave himself up
entirely upon this point of his guest's freedom. "Monsieur said he,
for indeed to-night I dare not call you monseigneur."

By no means,said Aramis; "call me monsieur; I am booted."

Do you know, monsieur, of whom you remind me this evening?

No! faith,said Aramistaking up his glass; "but I hope I remind you
of a capital guest."

You remind me of two, monsieur. Francois, shut the window; the wind may
annoy his greatness.

And let him go,added Aramis. "The supper is completely servedand we
shall eat it very well without waiters. I like exceedingly to be _tete-atete_
when I am with a friend." Baisemeaux bowed respectfully.

I like exceedingly,continued Aramisto help myself.

Retire, Francois,cried Baisemeaux. "I was saying that your greatness
puts me in mind of two persons; one very illustriousthe late cardinal
the great Cardinal de la Rochellewho wore boots like you."

Indeed,said Aramis; "and the other?"

The other was a certain musketeer, very handsome, very brave, very
adventurous, very fortunate, who, from being abbe, turned musketeer, and
from musketeer turned abbe.Aramis condescended to smile. "From abbe
continued Baisemeaux, encouraged by Aramis's smile - from abbebishop

-and from bishop - "
Ah! stay there, I beg,exclaimed Aramis.

I have just said, monsieur, that you gave me the idea of a cardinal.

Enough, dear M. Baisemeaux. As you said, I have on the boots of a
cavalier, but I do not intend, for all that, to embroil myself with the


church this evening.

But you have wicked intentions, nevertheless, monseigneur.

Oh, yes, wicked, I own, as everything mundane is.

You traverse the town and the streets in disguise?

In disguise, as you say.

And you still make use of your sword?

Yes, I should think so; but only when I am compelled. Do me the
pleasure to summon Francois.

Have you no wine there?

'Tis not for wine, but because it is hot here, and the window is shut.

I shut the windows at supper-time so as not to hear the sounds or the
arrival of couriers.

Ah, yes. You hear them when the window is open?

But too well, and that disturbs me. You understand?

Nevertheless I am suffocated. Francois.Francois entered. "Open the
windowsI pray youMaster Francois said Aramis. You will allow him
dear M. Baisemeaux?"

You are at home here,answered the governor. The window was opened.
Do you not think,said M. de Baisemeauxthat you will find yourself
very lonely, now M. de la Fere has returned to his household gods at
Blois? He is a very old friend, is he not?

You know it as I do, Baisemeaux, seeing that you were in the musketeers
with us.

Bah! with my friends I reckon neither bottles of wine nor years.

And you are right. But I do more than love M. de la Fere, dear
Baisemeaux; I venerate him.

Well, for my part, though 'tis singular,said the governorI prefer

M. d'Artagnan to him. There is a man for you, who drinks long and well!
That kind of people allow you at least to penetrate their thoughts.
Baisemeaux, make me tipsy to-night; let us have a merry time of it as of
old, and if I have a trouble at the bottom of my heart, I promise you,
you shall see it as you would a diamond at the bottom of your glass.

Bravo!said Baisemeauxand he poured out a great glass of wine and
drank it off at a draughttrembling with joy at the idea of beingby
hook or by crookin the secret of some high archiepiscopal misdemeanor.
While he was drinking he did not see with what attention Aramis was
noting the sounds in the great court. A courier came in about eight
o'clock as François brought in the fifth bottleandalthough the
courier made a great noiseBaisemeaux heard nothing.

The devil take him,said Aramis.

What! who?asked Baisemeaux. "I hope 'tis neither the wine you drank
nor he who is the cause of your drinking it."


No; it is a horse, who is making noise enough in the court for a whole
squadron.

Pooh! some courier or other,replied the governorredoubling his
attention to the passing bottle. "Yes; and may the devil take himand
so quickly that we shall never hear him speak more. Hurrah! hurrah!"

You forget me, Baisemeaux! my glass is empty,said Aramislifting his
dazzling Venetian goblet.

Upon my honor, you delight me. Francois, wine!Francois entered.
Wine, fellow! and better.

Yes, monsieur, yes; but a courier has just arrived.

Let him go to the devil, I say.

Yes, monsieur, but -

Let him leave his news at the office; we will see to it to-morrow. Tomorrow,
there will be time to-morrow; there will be daylight,said
Baisemeauxchanting the words.

Ah, monsieur,grumbled the soldier Francoisin spite of himself
monsieur.

Take care,said Aramistake care!

Of what? dear M. d'Herblay,said Baisemeauxhalf intoxicated.

The letter which the courier brings to the governor of a fortress is
sometimes an order.

Nearly always.

Do not orders issue from the ministers?

Yes, undoubtedly; but -

And what to these ministers do but countersign the signature of the
king?

Perhaps you are right. Nevertheless, 'tis very tiresome when you are
sitting before a good table, _tete-a-tete_ with a friend - Ah! I beg your
pardon, monsieur; I forgot it is I who engage you at supper, and that I
speak to a future cardinal.

Let us pass over that, dear Baisemeaux, and return to our soldier, to
Francois.

Well, and what has Francois done?

He has demurred!

He was wrong, then?

However, he _has_ demurred, you see; 'tis because there is something
extraordinary in this matter. It is very possible that it was not
Francois who was wrong in demurring, but you, who are in the wrong in
not listening to him.

Wrong? I to be wrong before Francois? that seems rather hard.

Pardon me, merely an irregularity. But I thought it my duty to make an


observation which I deem important.

Oh! perhaps you are right,stammered Baisemeaux. "The king's order is
sacred; but as to orders that arrive when one is at supperI repeat that
the devil - "

If you had said as much to the great cardinal - hem! my dear Baisemeaux,
and if his order had any importance.

I do it that I may not disturb a bishop. _Mordioux!_ am I not, then,
excusable?

Do not forget, Baisemeaux, that I have worn the soldier's coat, and I am
accustomed to obedience everywhere.

You wish, then -

I wish that you would do your duty, my friend; yes, at least before this
soldier.

'Tis mathematically true,exclaimed Baisemeaux. Francois still waited:
Let them send this order of the king's up to me,he repeated
recovering himself. And he added in a low toneDo you know what it
is? I will tell you something about as interesting as this. 'Beware of
fire near the powder magazine;' or, 'Look close after such and such a
one, who is clever at escaping,' Ah! if you only knew, monseigneur, how
many times I have been suddenly awakened from the very sweetest, deepest
slumber, by messengers arriving at full gallop to tell me, or rather,
bring me a slip of paper containing these words: 'Monsieur de Baisemeaux,
what news?' 'Tis clear enough that those who waste their time writing
such orders have never slept in the Bastile. They would know better;
they have never considered the thickness of my walls, the vigilance of my
officers, the number of rounds we go. But, indeed, what can you expect,
monseigneur? It is their business to write and torment me when I am at
rest, and to trouble me when I am happy,added Baisemeauxbowing to
Aramis. "Then let them do their business."

And do you do yours,added the bishopsmiling.

Francois re-entered; Baisemeaux took from his hands the minister's
order. He slowly undid itand as slowly read it. Aramis pretended to
be drinkingso as to be able to watch his host through the glass. Then
Baisemeauxhaving read it: "What was I just saying?" he exclaimed.

What is it?asked the bishop.

An order of release! There, now; excellent news indeed to disturb us!

Excellent news for him whom it concerns, you will at least agree, my
dear governor!

And at eight o'clock in the evening!

It is charitable!

Oh! charity is all very well, but it is for that fellow who says he is
so weary and tired, but not for me who am amusing myself,said
Baisemeauxexasperated.

Will you lose by him, then? And is the prisoner who is to be set at
liberty a good payer?

Oh, yes, indeed! a miserable, five-franc rat!


Let me see it,asked M. d'Herblay. "It is no indiscretion?"

By no means; read it.

There is 'Urgent,' on the paper; you have seen that, I suppose?

Oh, admirable! 'Urgent!' - a man who has been there ten years! It is
_urgent_ to set him free to-day, this very evening, at eight o'clock! _
urgent!_And Baisemeauxshrugging his shoulders with an air of
supreme disdainflung the order on the table and began eating again.

They are fond of these tricks!he saidwith his mouth full; "they
seize a mansome fine daykeep him under lock and key for ten years
and write to you'Watch this fellow well' or 'Keep him very strictly.'
And thenas soon as you are accustomed to look upon the prisoner as a
dangerous manall of a suddenwithout rhyme or reason they write - 'Set
him at liberty' and actually add to their missive - 'urgent.' You will
ownmy lord'tis enough to make a man at dinner shrug his shoulders!"

What do you expect? It is for them to write,said Aramisfor you to
execute the order.

Good! good! execute it! Oh, patience! You must not imagine that I am a
slave.

Gracious Heaven! my very good M. Baisemeaux, who ever said so? Your
independence is well known.

Thank Heaven!

But your goodness of heart is also known.

Ah! don't speak of it!

And your obedience to your superiors. Once a soldier, you see,
Baisemeaux, always a soldier.

And I shall directly obey; and to-morrow morning, at daybreak, the
prisoner referred to shall be set free.

To-morrow?

At dawn.

Why not this evening, seeing that the _lettre de cachet_ bears, both on
the direction and inside, '_urgent_'?

Because this evening we are at supper, and our affairs are urgent, too!

Dear Baisemeaux, booted though I be, I feel myself a priest, and charity
has higher claims upon me than hunger and thirst. This unfortunate man
has suffered long enough, since you have just told me that he has been
your prisoner these ten years. Abridge his suffering. His good time has
come; give him the benefit quickly. God will repay you in Paradise with
years of felicity.

You wish it?

I entreat you.

What! in the very middle of our repast?

I implore you; such an action is worth ten Benedicites.


It shall be as you desire, only our supper will get cold.

Oh! never heed that.

Baisemeaux leaned back to ring for Francoisand by a very natural motion
turned round towards the door. The order had remained on the table;
Aramis seized the opportunity when Baisemeaux was not looking to change
the paper for anotherfolded in the same mannerwhich he drew swiftly
from his pocket. "Francois said the governor, let the major come up
here with the turnkeys of the Bertaudiere." Francois bowed and quitted
the roomleaving the two companions alone.


Chapter VIII:
The General of the Order.


There was now a brief silenceduring which Aramis never removed his eyes
from Baisemeaux for a moment. The latter seemed only half decided to
disturb himself thus in the middle of supperand it was clear he was
trying to invent some pretextwhether good or badfor delayat any
rate till after dessert. And it appeared also that he had hit upon an
excuse at last.


Eh! but it is impossible!he cried.


How impossible?said Aramis. "Give me a glimpse of this impossibility."


'Tis impossible to set a prisoner at liberty at such an hour. Where can
he go to, a man so unacquainted with Paris?


He will find a place wherever he can.


You see, now, one might as well set a blind man free!


I have a carriage, and will take him wherever he wishes.


You have an answer for everything. Francois, tell monsieur le major to
go and open the cell of M. Seldon, No. 3, Bertaudiere.


Seldon!exclaimed Aramisvery naturally. "You said SeldonI think?"


I said Seldon, of course. 'Tis the name of the man they set free.


Oh! you mean to say Marchiali?said Aramis.


Marchiali? oh! yes, indeed. No, no, Seldon.


I think you are making a mistake, Monsieur Baisemeaux.


I have read the order.


And I also.


And I saw 'Seldon' in letters as large as that,and Baisemeaux held up
his finger.


And I read 'Marchiali' in characters as large as this,said Aramis
also holding up two fingers.


To the proof; let us throw a light on the matter,said Baisemeaux
confident he was right. "There is the paperyou have only to read it."


I read 'Marchiali,'returned Aramisspreading out the paper. "Look."



Baisemeaux lookedand his arms dropped suddenly. "Yesyes he said,
quite overwhelmed; yesMarchiali. 'Tis plainly written Marchiali!
Quite true!"

Ah! -

How? the man of whom we have talked so much? The man whom they are
every day telling me to take such care of?

There is 'Marchiali,'repeated the inflexible Aramis.

I must own it, monseigneur. But I understand nothing about it.

You believe your eyes, at any rate.

To tell me very plainly there is 'Marchiali.'

And in a good handwriting, too.

'Tis a wonder! I still see this order and the name of Seldon,
Irishman. I see it. Ah! I even recollect that under this name there
was a blot of ink.

No, there is no ink; no, there is no blot.

Oh! but there was, though; I know it, because I rubbed my finger - this
very one - in the powder that was over the blot.

In a word, be it how it may, dear M. Baisemeaux,said Aramisand
whatever you may have seen, the order is signed to release Marchiali,
blot or no blot.

The order is signed to release Marchiali,replied Baisemeaux
mechanicallyendeavoring to regain his courage.

And you are going to release this prisoner. If your heart dictates you
to deliver Seldon also, I declare to you I will not oppose it the least
in the world.Aramis accompanied this remark with a smilethe irony of
which effectually dispelled Baisemeaux's confusion of mindand restored
his courage.

Monseigneur,he saidthis Marchiali is the very same prisoner whom
the other day a priest confessor of _our order_ came to visit in so
imperious and so secret a manner.

I don't know that, monsieur,replied the bishop.

'Tis no such long time ago, dear Monsieur d'Herblay.

It is true. But _with us_, monsieur, it is good that the man of to-day
should no longer know what the man of yesterday did.

In any case,said Baisemeauxthe visit of the Jesuit confessor must
have given happiness to this man.

Aramis made no replybut recommenced eating and drinking. As for
Baisemeauxno longer touching anything that was on the tablehe again
took up the order and examined it every way. This investigationunder
ordinary circumstanceswould have made the ears of the impatient Aramis
burn with anger; but the bishop of Vannes did not become incensed for so
littleabove allwhen he had murmured to himself that to do so was
dangerous. "Are you going to release Marchiali?" he said. "What mellow
fragrant and delicious sherry this ismy dear governor."


Monseigneur,replied BaisemeauxI shall release the prisoner
Marchiali when I have summoned the courier who brought the order, and
above all, when, by interrogating him, I have satisfied myself.

The order is sealed, and the courier is ignorant of the contents. What
do you want to satisfy yourself about?

Be it so, monseigneur; but I shall send to the ministry, and M. de
Lyonne will either confirm or withdraw the order.

What is the good of all that?asked Aramiscoldly.

What good?

Yes; what is your object, I ask?

The object of never deceiving oneself, monseigneur; nor being wanting in
the respect which a subaltern owes to his superior officers, nor
infringing the duties of a service one has accepted of one's own free
will.

Very good; you have just spoken so eloquently, that I cannot but admire
you. It is true that a subaltern owes respect to his superiors; he is
guilty when he deceives himself, and he should be punished if he
infringed either the duties or laws of his office.

Baisemeaux looked at the bishop with astonishment.

It follows,pursued Aramisthat you are going to ask advice, to put
your conscience at ease in the matter?

Yes, monseigneur.

And if a superior officer gives you orders, you will obey?

Never doubt it, monseigneur.

You know the king's signature well, M. de Baisemeaux?

Yes, monseigneur.

Is it not on this order of release?

It is true, but it may -

Be forged, you mean?

That is evident, monseigneur.

You are right. And that of M. de Lyonne?

I see it plain enough on the order; but for the same reason that the
king's signature may have been forged, so also, and with even greater
probability, may M. de Lyonne's.

Your logic has the stride of a giant, M. de Baisemeaux,said Aramis;
and your reasoning is irresistible. But on what special grounds do you
base your idea that these signatures are false?

On this: the absence of counter-signatures. Nothing checks his
majesty's signature; and M. de Lyonne is not there to tell me he has
signed.

Well, Monsieur de Baisemeaux,said Aramisbending an eagle glance on


the governorI adopt so frankly your doubts, and your mode of clearing
them up, that I will take a pen, if you will give me one.

Baisemeaux gave him a pen.

And a sheet of white paper,added Aramis.

Baisemeaux handed him some paper.

Now, I - I, also - I, here present - incontestably, I - am going to
write an order to which I am certain you will give credence, incredulous
as you are!

Baisemeaux turned pale at this icy assurance of manner. It seemed to him
that the voice of the bishop'sbut just now so playful and gayhad
become funereal and sad; that the wax lights changed into the tapers of a
mortuary chapelthe very glasses of wine into chalices of blood.

Aramis took a pen and wrote. Baisemeauxin terrorread over his
shoulder.

A. M. D. G.,wrote the bishop; and he drew a cross under these four
letterswhich signify _ad majorem Dei gloriam_to the greater glory of
God;and thus he continued: "It is our pleasure that the order brought
to M. de Baisemeaux de Montlezungovernorfor the kingof the castle
of the Bastilebe held by him good and effectualand be immediately
carried into operation.
(Signed) D'HERBLAY
General of the Orderby the grace of God."

Baisemeaux was so profoundly astonishedthat his features remained
contractedhis lips partedand his eyes fixed. He did not move an
inchnor articulate a sound. Nothing could be heard in that large
chamber but the wing-whisper of a little mothwhich was fluttering to
its death about the candles. Aramiswithout even deigning to look at
the man whom he had reduced to so miserable a conditiondrew from his
pocket a small case of black wax; he sealed the letterand stamped it
with a seal suspended at his breastbeneath his doubletand when the
operation was concludedpresented - still in silence - the missive to M.
de Baisemeaux. The latterwhose hands trembled in a manner to excite
pityturned a dull and meaningless gaze upon the letter. A last gleam
of feeling played over his featuresand he fellas if thunder-struck
on a chair.

Come, come,said Aramisafter a long silenceduring which the
governor of the Bastile had slowly recovered his sensesdo not lead me
to believe, dear Baisemeaux, that the presence of the general of the
order is as terrible as His, and that men die merely from having seen
Him. Take courage, rouse yourself; give me your hand - obey.

Baisemeauxreassuredif not satisfiedobeyedkissed Aramis's hand
and rose. "Immediately?" he murmured.

Oh, there is no pressing haste, my host; take your place again, and do
the honors over this beautiful dessert.

Monseigneur, I shall never recover such a shock as this; I who have
laughed, who have jested with you! I who have dared to treat you on a
footing of equality!

Say nothing about it, old comrade,replied the bishopwho perceived
how strained the cord was and how dangerous it would have been to break
it; "say nothing about it. Let us each live in our own way; to youmy
protection and my friendship; to meyour obedience. Having exactly


fulfilled these two requirementslet us live happily."

Baisemeaux reflected; he perceivedat a glancethe consequence of this
withdrawal of a prisoner by means of a forged order; andputting in the
scale the guarantee offered him by the official order of the generaldid
not consider it of any value.

Aramis divined this. "My dear Baisemeaux said he, you are a
simpleton. Lose this habit of reflection when I give myself the trouble
to think for you."

And at another gesture he madeBaisemeaux bowed again. "How shall I set
about it?" he said.

What is the process for releasing a prisoner?

I have the regulations.

Well, then, follow the regulations, my friend.

I go with my major to the prisoner's room, and conduct him, if he is a
personage of importance.

But this Marchiali is not an important personage,said Aramis
carelessly.

I don't know,answered the governoras if he would have saidIt is
for you to instruct me.

Then if you don't know it, I am right; so act towards Marchiali as you
act towards one of obscure station.

Good; the regulations so provide. They are to the effect that the
turnkey, or one of the lower officials, shall bring the prisoner before
the governor, in the office.

Well, 'tis very wise, that; and then?

Then we return to the prisoner the valuables he wore at the time of his
imprisonment, his clothes and papers, if the minister's orders have not
otherwise dictated.

What was the minister's order as to this Marchiali?

Nothing; for the unhappy man arrived here without jewels, without
papers, and almost without clothes.

See how simple, then, all is. Indeed, Baisemeaux, you make a mountain
of everything. Remain here, and make them bring the prisoner to the
governor's house.

Baisemeaux obeyed. He summoned his lieutenantand gave him an order
which the latter passed onwithout disturbing himself about itto the
next whom it concerned.

Half an hour afterwards they heard a gate shut in the court; it was the
door to the dungeonwhich had just rendered up its prey to the free
air. Aramis blew out all the candles which lighted the room but one
which he left burning behind the door. This flickering glare prevented
the sight from resting steadily on any object. It multiplied tenfold the
changing forms and shadows of the placeby its wavering uncertainty.
Steps drew near.

Go and meet your men,said Aramis to Baisemeaux.


The governor obeyed. The sergeant and turnkeys disappeared. Baisemeaux
re-enteredfollowed by a prisoner. Aramis had placed himself in the
shade; he saw without being seen. Baisemeauxin an agitated tone of
voicemade the young man acquainted with the order which set him at
liberty. The prisoner listenedwithout making a single gesture or
saying a word."

You will swear ('tis the regulation that requires it),added the
governornever to reveal anything that you have seen or heard in the
Bastile.

The prisoner perceived a crucifix; he stretched out his hands and swore
with his lips. "And nowmonsieuryou are free. Whither do you intend
going?"

The prisoner turned his headas if looking behind him for some
protectionon which he ought to rely. Then was it that Aramis came out
of the shade: "I am here he said, to render the gentleman whatever
service he may please to ask."

The prisoner slightly reddenedandwithout hesitationpassed his arm
through that of Aramis. "God have you in his holy keeping he said, in
a voice the firmness of which made the governor tremble as much as the
form of the blessing astonished him.

Aramis, on shaking hands with Baisemeaux, said to him; Does my order
trouble you? Do you fear their finding it hereshould they come to
search?"

I desire to keep it, monseigneur,said Baisemeaux. "If they found it
hereit would be a certain indication I should be lostand in that case
you would be a powerful and a last auxiliary for me."

Being your accomplice, you mean?answered Aramisshrugging his
shoulders. "AdieuBaisemeaux said he.

The horses were in waiting, making each rusty spring reverberate the
carriage again with their impatience. Baisemeaux accompanied the bishop
to the bottom of the steps. Aramis caused his companion to mount before
him, then followed, and without giving the driver any further order, Go
on said he. The carriage rattled over the pavement of the courtyard.
An officer with a torch went before the horses, and gave orders at every
post to let them pass. During the time taken in opening all the
barriers, Aramis barely breathed, and you might have heard his sealed
heart knock against his ribs." The prisonerburied in a corner of the
carriagemade no more sign of life than his companion. At lengtha
jolt more sever than the others announced to them that they had cleared
the last watercourse. Behind the carriage closed the last gatethat in
the Rue St. Antoine. No more walls either on the right or the left;
heaven everywhereliberty everywhereand life everywhere. The horses
kept in check by a vigorous handwent quietly as far as the middle of
the faubourg. There they began to trot. Little by littlewhether they
were warming to their workor whether they were urgedthey gained in
swiftnessand once past Bercythe carriage seemed to flyso great was
the ardor of the coursers. The horses galloped thus as far as Villeneuve
St. George'swhere relays were waiting. Then four instead of two
whirled the carriage away in the direction of Melunand pulled up for a
moment in the middle of the forest of Senart. No doubt the order had
been given the postilion beforehandfor Aramis had no occasion even to
make a sign.

What is the matter?asked the prisoneras if waking from a long dream.


The matter is, monseigneur,said Aramisthat before going further, it
is necessary your royal highness and I should converse.

I will await an opportunity, monsieur,answered the young prince.

We could not have a better, monseigneur. We are in the middle of a
forest, and no one can hear us.

The postilion?

The postilion of this relay is deaf and dumb, monseigneur.

I am at your service, M. d'Herblay.

Is it your pleasure to remain in the carriage?

Yes; we are comfortably seated, and I like this carriage, for it has
restored me to liberty.

Wait, monseigneur; there is yet a precaution to be taken.

What?

We are here on the highway; cavaliers or carriages traveling like
ourselves might pass, and seeing us stopping, deem us in some
difficulty. Let us avoid offers of assistance, which would embarrass us.

Give the postilion orders to conceal the carriage in one of the side
avenues.

'Tis exactly what I wished to do, monseigneur.

Aramis made a sign to the deaf and dumb driver of the carriagewhom he
touched on the arm. The latter dismountedtook the leaders by the
bridleand led them over the velvet sward and the mossy grass of a
winding alleyat the bottom of whichon this moonless nightthe deep
shades formed a curtain blacker than ink. This donethe man lay down on
a slope near his horseswhoon either sidekept nibbling the young oak
shoots.

I am listening,said the young prince to Aramis; "but what are you
doing there?"

I am disarming myself of my pistols, of which we have no further need,
monseigneur.

Chapter IX:
The Tempter.

My prince,said Aramisturning in the carriage towards his companion
weak creature as I am, so unpretending in genius, so low in the scale of
intelligent beings, it has never yet happened to me to converse with a
man without penetrating his thoughts through that living mask which has
been thrown over our mind, in order to retain its expression. But to-
night, in this darkness, in the reserve which you maintain, I can read
nothing on your features, and something tells me that I shall have great
difficulty in wresting from you a sincere declaration. I beseech you,
then, not for love of me, for subjects should never weigh as anything in
the balance which princes hold, but for love of yourself, to retain every
syllable, every inflexion which, under the present most grave
circumstances, will all have a sense and value as important as any every
uttered in the world.


I listen,replied the young princedecidedly, without either eagerly
seeking or fearing anything you are about to say to me.And he buried
himself still deeper in the thick cushions of the carriagetrying to
deprive his companion not only of the sight of himbut even of the very
idea of his presence.

Black was the darkness which fell wide and dense from the summits of the
intertwining trees. The carriagecovered in by this prodigious roof
would not have received a particle of lightnot even if a ray could have
struggled through the wreaths of mist that were already rising in the
avenue.

Monseigneur,resumed Aramisyou know the history of the government
which to-day controls France. The king issued from an infancy imprisoned
like yours, obscure as yours, and confined as yours; only, instead of
ending, like yourself, this slavery in a prison, this obscurity in
solitude, these straightened circumstances in concealment, he was fain to
bear all these miseries, humiliations, and distresses, in full daylight,
under the pitiless sun of royalty; on an elevation flooded with light,
where every stain appears a blemish, every glory a stain. The king has
suffered; it rankles in his mind; and he will avenge himself. He will be
a bad king. I say not that he will pour out his people's blood, like
Louis XI., or Charles IX.; for he has no mortal injuries to avenge; but
he will devour the means and substance of his people; for he has himself
undergone wrongs in his own interest and money. In the first place,
then, I acquit my conscience, when I consider openly the merits and the
faults of this great prince; and if I condemn him, my conscience absolves
me.

Aramis paused. It was not to listen if the silence of the forest
remained undisturbedbut it was to gather up his thoughts from the very
bottom of his soul - to leave the thoughts he had uttered sufficient time
to eat deeply into the mind of his companion.

All that Heaven does, Heaven does well,continued the bishop of Vannes;
and I am so persuaded of it that I have long been thankful to have been
chosen depositary of the secret which I have aided you to discover. To a
just Providence was necessary an instrument, at once penetrating,
persevering, and convinced, to accomplish a great work. I am this
instrument. I possess penetration, perseverance, conviction; I govern a
mysterious people, who has taken for its motto, the motto of God,
'_Patiens quia oeternus_.'The prince moved. "I divinemonseigneur
why you are raising your headand are surprised at the people I have
under my command. You did not know you were dealing with a king - oh!
monseigneurking of a people very humblemuch disinherited; humble
because they have no force save when creeping; disinheritedbecause
neveralmost never in this worlddo my people reap the harvest they
sownor eat the fruit they cultivate. They labor for an abstract idea;
they heap together all the atoms of their powerto from a single man;
and round this manwith the sweat of their laborthey create a misty
halowhich his genius shallin turnrender a glory gilded with the
rays of all the crowns in Christendom. Such is the man you have beside
youmonseigneur. It is to tell you that he has drawn you from the abyss
for a great purposeto raise you above the powers of the earth - above
himself."

Transcriber's note: "He is patient because he is eternal." is how the
Latin translates. It is from St. Augustine. This motto was sometimes
applied to the Papacybut not to the Jesuits. - JB

The prince lightly touched Aramis's arm. "You speak to me he said, of
that religious order whose chief you are. For methe result of your
words isthat the day you desire to hurl down the man you shall have
raisedthe event will be accomplished; and that you will keep under your


hand your creation of yesterday."

Undeceive yourself, monseigneur,replied the bishop. "I should not
take the trouble to play this terrible game with your royal highnessif
I had not a double interest in gaining it. The day you are elevatedyou
are elevated forever; you will overturn the footstoolas you riseand
will send it rolling so farthat not even the sight of it will ever
again recall to you its right to simple gratitude."

Oh, monsieur!

Your movement, monseigneur, arises from an excellent disposition. I
thank you. Be well assured, I aspire to more than gratitude! I am
convinced that, when arrived at the summit, you will judge me still more
worthy to be your friend; and then, monseigneur, we two will do such
great deeds, that ages hereafter shall long speak of them.

Tell me plainly, monsieur - tell me without disguise - what I am to-day,
and what you aim at my being to-morrow.

You are the son of King Louis XIII., brother of Louis XIV., natural and
legitimate heir to the throne of France. In keeping you near him, as
Monsieur has been kept - Monsieur, your younger brother - the king
reserved to himself the right of being legitimate sovereign. The doctors
only could dispute his legitimacy. But the doctors always prefer the
king who is to the king who is not. Providence has willed that you
should be persecuted; this persecution to-day consecrates you king of
France. You had, then, a right to reign, seeing that it is disputed; you
had a right to be proclaimed seeing that you have been concealed; and you
possess royal blood, since no one has dared to shed yours, as that of
your servants has been shed. Now see, then, what this Providence, which
you have so often accused of having in every way thwarted you, has done
for you. It has given you the features, figure, age, and voice of your
brother; and the very causes of your persecution are about to become
those of your triumphant restoration. To-morrow, after to-morrow - from
the very first, regal phantom, living shade of Louis XIV., you will sit
upon his throne, whence the will of Heaven, confided in execution to the
arm of man, will have hurled him, without hope of return.

I understand,said the princemy brother's blood will not be shed,
then.

You will be sole arbiter of his fate.

The secret of which they made an evil use against me?

You will employ it against him. What did he do to conceal it? He
concealed you. Living image of himself, you will defeat the conspiracy
of Mazarin and Anne of Austria. You, my prince, will have the same
interest in concealing him, who will, as a prisoner, resemble you, as you
will resemble him as a king.

I fall back on what I was saying to you. Who will guard him?

Who guarded _you?_

You know this secret - you have made use of it with regard to myself.
Who else knows it?

The queen-mother and Madame de Chevreuse.

What will they do?

Nothing, if you choose.


How is that?

How can they recognize you, if you act in such a manner that no one can
recognize you?

'Tis true; but there are grave difficulties.

State them, prince.

My brother is married; I cannot take my brother's wife.

I will cause Spain to consent to a divorce; it is in the interest of
your new policy; it is human morality. All that is really noble and
really useful in this world will find its account therein.

The imprisoned king will speak.

To whom do you think he will speak - to the walls?

You mean, by walls, the men in whom you put confidence.

If need be, yes. And besides, your royal highness -

Besides?

I was going to say, that the designs of Providence do not stop on such a
fair road. Every scheme of this caliber is completed by its results,
like a geometrical calculation. The king, in prison, will not be for you
the cause of embarrassment that you have been for the king enthroned.
His soul is naturally proud and impatient; it is, moreover, disarmed and
enfeebled, by being accustomed to honors, and by the license of supreme
power. The same Providence which has willed that the concluding step in
the geometrical calculation I have had the honor of describing to your
royal highness should be your ascension to the throne, and the
destruction of him who is hurtful to you, has also determined that the
conquered one shall soon end both his own and your sufferings.
Therefore, his soul and body have been adapted for but a brief agony.
Put into prison as a private individual, left alone with your doubts,
deprived of everything, you have exhibited the most sublime, enduring
principle of life in withstanding all this. But your brother, a captive,
forgotten, and in bonds, will not long endure the calamity; and Heaven
will resume his soul at the appointed time - that is to say, soon.

At this point in Aramis's gloomy analysisa bird of night uttered from
the depths of the forest that prolonged and plaintive cry which makes
every creature tremble.

I will exile the deposed king,said Philippeshuddering; "'twill be
more human."

The king's good pleasure will decide the point,said Aramis. "But has
the problem been well put? Have I brought out of the solution according
to the wishes or the foresight of your royal highness?"

Yes, monsieur, yes; you have forgotten nothing - except, indeed, two
things.

The first?

Let us speak of it at once, with the same frankness we have already
conversed in. Let us speak of the causes which may bring about the ruin
of all the hopes we have conceived. Let us speak of the risks we are
running.


They would be immense, infinite, terrific, insurmountable, if, as I have
said, all things did not concur to render them of absolutely no account.
There is no danger either for you or for me, if the constancy and
intrepidity of your royal highness are equal to that perfection of
resemblance to your brother which nature has bestowed upon you. I repeat
it, there are no dangers, only obstacles; a word, indeed, which I find in
all languages, but have always ill-understood, and, were I king, would
have obliterated as useless and absurd.

Yes, indeed, monsieur; there is a very serious obstacle, an
insurmountable danger, which you are forgetting.

Ah!said Aramis.

There is conscience, which cries aloud; remorse, that never dies.

True, true,said the bishop; "there is a weakness of heart of which you
remind me. You are righttoofor thatindeedis an immense
obstacle. The horse afraid of the ditchleaps into the middle of it
and is killed! The man who trembling crosses his sword with that of
another leaves loopholes whereby his enemy has him in his power."

Have you a brother?said the young man to Aramis.

I am alone in the world,said the latterwith a harddry voice.

But, surely, there is some one in the world whom you love?added
Philippe.

No one! - Yes, I love you.

The young man sank into so profound a silencethat the mere sound of his
respiration seemed like a roaring tumult for Aramis. "Monseigneur he
resumed, I have not said all I had to say to your royal highness; I have
not offered you all the salutary counsels and useful resources which I
have at my disposal. It is useless to flash bright visions before the
eyes of one who seeks and loves darkness: uselesstoois it to let the
magnificence of the cannon's roar make itself heard in the ears of one
who loves repose and the quiet of the country. MonseigneurI have your
happiness spread out before me in my thoughts; listen to my words;
precious they indeed arein their import and their sensefor you who
look with such tender regard upon the bright heavensthe verdant
meadowsthe pure air. I know a country instinct with delights of every
kindan unknown paradisea secluded corner of the world - where alone
unfettered and unknownin the thick covert of the woodsamidst flowers
and streams of rippling wateryou will forget all the misery that human
folly has so recently allotted you. Oh! listen to memy prince. I do
not jest. I have a heartand mindand souland can read your ownaye
even to its depths. I will not take you unready for your taskin
order to cast you into the crucible of my own desiresof my capriceor
my ambition. Let it be all or nothing. You are chilled and galledsick
at heartovercome by excess of the emotions which but one hour's liberty
has produced in you. For methat is a certain and unmistakable sign
that you do not wish to continue at liberty. Would you prefer a more
humble lifea life more suited to your strength? Heaven is my witness
that I wish your happiness to be the result of the trial to which I have
exposed you."

Speak, speak,said the princewith a vivacity which did not escape
Aramis.

I know,resumed the prelatein the Bas-Poitou, a canton, of which no
one in France suspects the existence. Twenty leagues of country is


immense, is it not? Twenty leagues, monseigneur, all covered with water
and herbage, and reeds of the most luxuriant nature; the whole studded
with islands covered with woods of the densest foliage. These large
marshes, covered with reeds as with a thick mantle, sleep silently and
calmly beneath the sun's soft and genial rays. A few fishermen with
their families indolently pass their lives away there, with their great
living-rafts of poplar and alder, the flooring formed of reeds, and the
roof woven out of thick rushes. These barks, these floating-houses, are
wafted to and fro by the changing winds. Whenever they touch a bank, it
is but by chance; and so gently, too, that the sleeping fisherman is not
awakened by the shock. Should he wish to land, it is merely because he
has seen a large flight of landrails or plovers, of wild ducks, teal,
widgeon, or woodchucks, which fall an easy pray to net or gun. Silver
shad, eels, greedy pike, red and gray mullet, swim in shoals into his
nets; he has but to choose the finest and largest, and return the others
to the waters. Never yet has the food of the stranger, be he soldier or
simple citizen, never has any one, indeed, penetrated into that
district. The sun's rays there are soft and tempered: in plots of solid
earth, whose soil is swart and fertile, grows the vine, nourishing with
generous juice its purple, white, and golden grapes. Once a week, a boat
is sent to deliver the bread which has been baked at an oven - the common
property of all. There - like the seigneurs of early days - powerful in
virtue of your dogs, your fishing-lines, your guns, and your beautiful
reed-built house, would you live, rich in the produce of the chase, in
plentitude of absolute secrecy. There would years of your life roll
away, at the end of which, no longer recognizable, for you would have
been perfectly transformed, you would have succeeded in acquiring a
destiny accorded to you by Heaven. There are a thousand pistoles in this
bag, monseigneur - more, far more, than sufficient to purchase the whole
marsh of which I have spoken; more than enough to live there as many
years as you have days to live; more than enough to constitute you the
richest, the freest, and the happiest man in the country. Accept it, as
I offer it you - sincerely, cheerfully. Forthwith, without a moment's
pause, I will unharness two of my horses, which are attached to the
carriage yonder, and they, accompanied by my servant - my deaf and dumb
attendant - shall conduct you - traveling throughout the night, sleeping
during the day - to the locality I have described; and I shall, at least,
have the satisfaction of knowing that I have rendered to my prince the
major service he himself preferred. I shall have made one human being
happy; and Heaven for that will hold me in better account than if I had
made one man powerful; the former task is far more difficult. And now,
monseigneur, your answer to this proposition? Here is the money. Nay,
do not hesitate. At Poitou, you can risk nothing, except the chance of
catching the fevers prevalent there; and even of them, the so-called
wizards of the country will cure you, for the sake of your pistoles. If
you play the other game, you run the chance of being assassinated on a
throne, strangled in a prison-cell. Upon my soul, I assure you, now I
begin to compare them together, I myself should hesitate which lot I
should accept.

Monsieur,replied the young princebefore I determine, let me alight
from this carriage, walk on the ground, and consult that still voice
within me, which Heaven bids us all to hearken to. Ten minutes is all I
ask, and then you shall have your answer.

As you please, monseigneur,said Aramisbending before him with
respectso solemn and august in tone and address had sounded these
strange words.

Chapter X:
Crown and Tiara.

Aramis was the first to descend from the carriage; he held the door open


for the young man. He saw him place his foot on the mossy ground with a
trembling of the whole bodyand walk round the carriage with an unsteady
and almost tottering step. It seemed as if the poor prisoner was
unaccustomed to walk on God's earth. It was the 15th of Augustabout
eleven o'clock at night; thick cloudsportending a tempestoverspread
the heavensand shrouded every light and prospect underneath their heavy
folds. The extremities of the avenues were imperceptibly detached from
the copseby a lighter shadow of opaque graywhichupon closer
examinationbecame visible in the midst of the obscurity. But the
fragrance which ascended from the grassfresher and more penetrating
than that which exhaled from the trees around him; the warm and balmy air
which enveloped him for the first time for many years past; the ineffable
enjoyment of liberty in an open countryspoke to the prince in so
seductive a languagethat notwithstanding the preternatural cautionwe
would almost say dissimulation of his characterof which we have tried
to give an ideahe could not restrain his emotionand breathed a sigh
of ecstasy. Thenby degreeshe raised his aching head and inhaled the
softly scented airas it was wafted in gentle gusts to his uplifted
face. Crossing his arms on his chestas if to control this new
sensation of delighthe drank in delicious draughts of that mysterious
air which interpenetrates at night the loftiest forests. The sky he was
contemplatingthe murmuring watersthe universal freshness - was not
all this reality? Was not Aramis a madman to suppose that he had aught
else to dream of in this world? Those exciting pictures of country life
so free from fears and troublesthe ocean of happy days that glitters
incessantly before all young imaginationsare real allurements wherewith
to fascinate a poorunhappy prisonerworn out by prison cares
emaciated by the stifling air of the Bastile. It was the pictureit
will be remembereddrawn by Aramiswhen he offered the thousand
pistoles he had with him in the carriage to the princeand the enchanted
Eden which the deserts of Bas-Poitou hid from the eyes of the world.
Such were the reflections of Aramis as he watchedwith an anxiety
impossible to describethe silent progress of the emotions of Philippe
whom he perceived gradually becoming more and more absorbed in his
meditations. The young prince was offering up an inward prayer to
Heavento be divinely guided in this trying momentupon which his life
or death depended. It was an anxious time for the bishop of Vanneswho
had never before been so perplexed. His iron willaccustomed to
overcome all obstaclesnever finding itself inferior or vanquished on
any occasionto be foiled in so vast a project from not having foreseen
the influence which a view of nature in all its luxuriance would have on
the human mind! Aramisoverwhelmed by anxietycontemplated with
emotion the painful struggle that was taking place in Philippe's mind.
This suspense lasted the whole ten minutes which the young man had
requested. During this space of timewhich appeared an eternity
Philippe continued gazing with an imploring and sorrowful look towards
the heavens; Aramis did not remove the piercing glance he had fixed on
Philippe. Suddenly the young man bowed his head. His thought returned
to the earthhis looks perceptibly hardenedhis brow contractedhis
mouth assuming an expression of undaunted courage; again his looks became
fixedbut this time they wore a worldly expressionhardened by
covetousnessprideand strong desire. Aramis's look immediately became
as soft as it had before been gloomy. Philippeseizing his hand in a
quickagitated mannerexclaimed:

Lead me to where the crown of France is to be found.

Is this your decision, monseigneur?asked Aramis.

It is.

Irrevocably so?

Philippe did not even deign to reply. He gazed earnestly at the bishop


as if to ask him if it were possible for a man to waver after having once
made up his mind.

Such looks are flashes of the hidden fire that betrays men's character,
said Aramisbowing over Philippe's hand; "you will be great
monseigneurI will answer for that."

Let us resume our conversation. I wished to discuss two points with
you; in the first place the dangers, or the obstacles we may meet with.
That point is decided. The other is the conditions you intend imposing
on me. It is your turn to speak, M. d'Herblay.

The conditions, monseigneur?

Doubtless. You will not allow so mere a trifle to stop me, and you will
not do me the injustice to suppose that I think you have no interest in
this affair. Therefore, without subterfuge or hesitation, tell me the
truth -

I will do so, monseigneur. Once a king -

When will that be?

To-morrow evening - I mean in the night.

Explain yourself.

When I shall have asked your highness a question.

Do so.

I sent to your highness a man in my confidence with instructions to
deliver some closely written notes, carefully drawn up, which will
thoroughly acquaint your highness with the different persons who compose
and will compose your court.

I perused those notes.

Attentively?

I know them by heart.

And understand them? Pardon me, but I may venture to ask that question
of a poor, abandoned captive of the Bastile? In a week's time it will
not be requisite to further question a mind like yours. You will then be
in full possession of liberty and power.

Interrogate me, then, and I will be a scholar representing his lesson to
his master.

We will begin with your family, monseigneur.

My mother, Anne of Austria! all her sorrows, her painful malady. Oh! I
know her - I know her.

Your second brother?asked Aramisbowing.

To these notes,replied the princeyou have added portraits so
faithfully painted, that I am able to recognize the persons whose
characters, manners, and history you have so carefully portrayed.
Monsieur, my brother, is a fine, dark young man, with a pale face; he
does not love his wife, Henrietta, whom I, Louis XIV., loved a little,
and still flirt with, even although she made me weep on the day she
wished to dismiss Mademoiselle de la Valliere from her service in


disgrace.

You will have to be careful with regard to the watchfulness of the
latter,said Aramis; "she is sincerely attached to the actual king. The
eyes of a woman who loves are not easily deceived."

She is fair, has blue eyes, whose affectionate gaze reveals her
identity. She halts slightly in her gait; she writes a letter every day,
to which I have to send an answer by M. de Saint-Aignan.

Do you know the latter?

As if I saw him, and I know the last verses he composed for me, as well
as those I composed in answer to his.

Very good. Do you know your ministers?

Colbert, an ugly, dark-browed man, but intelligent enough, his hair
covering his forehead, a large, heavy, full head; the mortal enemy of M.
Fouquet.

As for the latter, we need not disturb ourselves about him.

No; because necessarily you will not require me to exile him, I suppose?

Aramisstruck with admiration at the remarksaidYou will become very
great, monseigneur.

You see,added the princethat I know my lesson by heart, and with
Heaven's assistance, and yours afterwards, I shall seldom go wrong.

You have still an awkward pair of eyes to deal with, monseigneur.

Yes, the captain of the musketeers, M. d'Artagnan, your friend.

Yes; I can well say 'my friend.'

He who escorted La Valliere to Le Chaillot; he who delivered up Monk,
cooped in an iron box, to Charles II.; he who so faithfully served my
mother; he to whom the crown of France owes so much that it owes
everything. Do you intend to ask me to exile him also?

Never, sire. D'Artagnan is a man to whom, at a certain given time, I
will undertake to reveal everything; but be on your guard with him, for
if he discovers our plot before it is revealed to him, you or I will
certainly be killed or taken. He is a bold and enterprising man.

I will think it over. Now tell me about M. Fouquet; what do you wish to
be done with regard to him?

One moment more, I entreat you, monseigneur; and forgive me, if I seem
to fail in respect to questioning you further.

It is your duty to do so, nay, more than that, your right.

Before we pass to M. Fouquet, I should very much regret forgetting
another friend of mine.

M. du Vallon, the Hercules of France, you mean; oh! as far as he is
concerned, his interests are more than safe.

No; it is not he whom I intended to refer to.

The Comte de la Fere, then?


And his son, the son of all four of us.

That poor boy who is dying of love for La Valliere, whom my brother so
disloyally bereft him of? Be easy on that score. I shall know how to
rehabilitate his happiness. Tell me only one thing, Monsieur d'Herblay;
do men, when they love, forget the treachery that has been shown them?
Can a man ever forgive the woman who has betrayed him? Is that a French
custom, or is it one of the laws of the human heart?

A man who loves deeply, as deeply as Raoul loves Mademoiselle de la
Valliere, finishes by forgetting the fault or crime of the woman he
loves; but I do not yet know whether Raoul will be able to forget.

I will see after that. Have you anything further to say about your
friend?

No; that is all.

Well, then, now for M. Fouquet. What do you wish me to do for him?

To keep him on as surintendant, in the capacity in which he has hitherto
acted, I entreat you.

Be it so; but he is the first minister at present.

Not quite so.

A king, ignorant and embarrassed as I shall be, will, as a matter of
course, require a first minister of state.

Your majesty will require a friend.

I have only one, and that is yourself.

You will have many others by and by, but none so devoted, none so
zealous for your glory.

You shall be my first minister of state.

Not immediately, monseigneur, for that would give rise to too much
suspicion and astonishment.

M. de Richelieu, the first minister of my grandmother, Marie de Medici,
was simply bishop of Lucon, as you are bishop of Vannes.

I perceive that your royal highness has studied my notes to great
advantage; your amazing perspicacity overpowers me with delight.

I am perfectly aware that M. de Richelieu, by means of the queen's
protection, soon became cardinal.

It would be better,said Aramisbowingthat I should not be
appointed first minister until your royal highness has procured my
nomination as cardinal.

You shall be nominated before two months are past, Monsieur d'Herblay.
But that is a matter of very trifling moment; you would not offend me if
you were to ask more than that, and you would cause me serious regret if
you were to limit yourself to that.

In that case, I have something still further to hope for, monseigneur.

Speak! speak!


M. Fouquet will not keep long at the head of affairs, he will soon get
old. He is fond of pleasure, consistently, I mean, with all his labors,
thanks to the youthfulness he still retains; but this protracted youth
will disappear at the approach of the first serious annoyance, or at the
first illness he may experience. We will spare him the annoyance,
because he is an agreeable and noble-hearted man; but we cannot save him
from ill-health. So it is determined. When you shall have paid all M.
Fouquet's debts, and restored the finances to a sound condition, M.
Fouquet will be able to remain the sovereign ruler in his little court of
poets and painters, - we shall have made him rich. When that has been
done, and I have become your royal highness's prime minister, I shall be
able to think of my own interests and yours.

The young man looked at his interrogator.

M. de Richelieu, of whom we were speaking just now, was very much to
blame in the fixed idea he had of governing France alone, unaided. He
allowed two kings, King Louis XIII. and himself, to be seated on the selfsame
throne, whilst he might have installed them more conveniently upon
two separate and distinct thrones.

Upon two thrones?said the young manthoughtfully.

In fact,pursued Aramisquietlya cardinal, prime minister of
France, assisted by the favor and by the countenance of his Most
Christian Majesty the King of France, a cardinal to whom the king his
master lends the treasures of the state, his army, his counsel, such a
man would be acting with twofold injustice in applying these mighty
resources to France alone. Besides,added Aramisyou will not be a
king such as your father was, delicate in health, slow in judgment, whom
all things wearied; you will be a king governing by your brain and by
your sword; you will have in the government of the state no more than you
will be able to manage unaided; I should only interfere with you.
Besides, our friendship ought never to be, I do not say impaired, but in
any degree affected, by a secret thought. I shall have given you the
throne of France, you will confer on me the throne of St. Peter.
Whenever your loyal, firm, and mailed hand should joined in ties of
intimate association the hand of a pope such as I shall be, neither
Charles V., who owned two-thirds of the habitable globe, nor Charlemagne,
who possessed it entirely, will be able to reach to half your stature. I
have no alliances, I have no predilections; I will not throw you into
persecutions of heretics, nor will I cast you into the troubled waters of
family dissension; I will simply say to you: The whole universe is our
own; for me the minds of men, for you their bodies. And as I shall be
the first to die, you will have my inheritance. What do you say of my
plan, monseigneur?

I say that you render me happy and proud, for no other reason than that
of having comprehended you thoroughly. Monsieur d'Herblay, you shall be
cardinal, and when cardinal, my prime minister; and then you will point
out to me the necessary steps to be taken to secure your election as
pope, and I will take them. You can ask what guarantees from me you
please.

It is useless. Never shall I act except in such a manner that you will
be the gainer; I shall never ascend the ladder of fortune, fame, or
position, until I have first seen you placed upon the round of the ladder
immediately above me; I shall always hold myself sufficiently aloof from
you to escape incurring your jealousy, sufficiently near to sustain your
personal advantage and to watch over your friendship. All the contracts
in the world are easily violated because the interests included in them
incline more to one side than to another. With us, however, this will
never be the case; I have no need of any guarantees.


And so - my dear brother - will disappear?


Simply. We will remove him from his bed by means of a plank which
yields to the pressure of the finger. Having retired to rest a crowned
sovereign, he will awake a captive. Alone you will rule from that
moment, and you will have no interest dearer and better than that of
keeping me near you.


I believe it. There is my hand on it, Monsieur d'Herblay.


Allow me to kneel before you, sire, most respectfully. We will embrace
each other on the day we shall have upon our temples, you the crown, I
the tiara.


Still embrace me this very day also, and be, for and towards me, more
than great, more than skillful, more than sublime in genius; be kind and
indulgent - be my father!


Aramis was almost overcome as he listened to his voice; he fancied he
detected in his own heart an emotion hitherto unknown; but this
impression was speedily removed. "His father!" he thought; "yeshis
Holy Father."


And they resumed their places in the carriagewhich sped rapidly along
the road leading to Vaux-le-Vicomte.


Chapter XI:
The Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte.


The chateau of Vaux-le-Vicomtesituated about a league from Melunhad
been built by Fouquet in 1655at a time when there was a scarcity of
money in France; Mazarin had taken all that there wasand Fouquet
expended the remainder. Howeveras certain men have fertilefalseand
useful vicesFouquetin scattering broadcast millions of money in the
construction of this palacehad found a means of gatheringas the
result of his generous profusionthree illustrious men together: Levau
the architect of the building; Lenotrethe designer of the gardens; and
Lebrunthe decorator of the apartments. If the Chateau de Vaux
possessed a single fault with which it could be reproachedit was its
grandpretentious character. It is even at the present day proverbial
to calculate the number of acres of roofingthe restoration of which
wouldin our agebe the ruin of fortunes cramped and narrowed as the
epoch itself. Vaux-le-Vicomtewhen its magnificent gatessupported by
caryatideshave been passed throughhas the principal front of the main
building opening upon a vastso-calledcourt of honorinclosed by deep
ditchesbordered by a magnificent stone balustrade. Nothing could be
more noble in appearance than the central forecourt raised upon the
flight of stepslike a king upon his thronehaving around it four
pavilions at the anglesthe immense Ionic columns of which rose
majestically to the whole height of the building. The friezes ornamented
with arabesquesand the pediments which crowned the pilastersconferred
richness and grace on every part of the buildingwhile the domes which
surmounted the whole added proportion and majesty. This mansionbuilt
by a subjectbore a far greater resemblance to those royal residences
which Wolsey fancied he was called upon to constructin order to present
them to his master form the fear of rendering him jealous. But if
magnificence and splendor were displayed in any one particular part of
this palace more than another- if anything could be preferred to the
wonderful arrangement of the interiorto the sumptuousness of the
gildingand to the profusion of the paintings and statuesit would be
the park and gardens of Vaux. The _jets d'eau_which were regarded as
wonderful in 1653are still soeven at the present time; the cascades



awakened the admiration of kings and princes; and as for the famous
grottothe theme of so many poetical effusionsthe residence of that
illustrious nymph of Vauxwhom Pelisson made converse with La Fontaine
we must be spared the description of all its beauties. We will do as
Despreaux did- we will enter the parkthe trees of which are of eight
years' growth only - that is to sayin their present position - and
whose summits even yetas they proudly tower aloftblushingly unfold
their leaves to the earliest rays of the rising sun. Lenotre had
hastened the pleasure of the Maecenas of his period; all the nurserygrounds
had furnished trees whose growth had been accelerated by careful
culture and the richest plant-food. Every tree in the neighborhood which
presented a fair appearance of beauty or stature had been taken up by its
roots and transplanted to the park. Fouquet could well afford to
purchase trees to ornament his parksince he had bought up three
villages and their appurtenances (to use a legal word) to increase its
extent. M. de Scudery said of this palacethatfor the purpose of
keeping the grounds and gardens well wateredM. Fouquet had divided a
river into a thousand fountainsand gathered the waters of a thousand
fountains into torrents. This same Monsieur de Scudery said a great many
other things in his "Clelie about this palace of Valterre, the charms
of which he describes most minutely. We should be far wiser to send our
curious readers to Vaux to judge for themselves, than to refer them to
Clelie;" and yet there are as many leagues from Paris to Vauxas there
are volumes of the "Clelie."

This magnificent palace had been got ready for the reception of the
greatest reigning sovereign of the time. M. Fouquet's friends had
transported thithersome their actors and their dressesothers their
troops of sculptors and artists; not forgetting others with their readymended
pens- floods of impromptus were contemplated. The cascades
somewhat rebellious nymphs though they werepoured forth their waters
brighter and clearer than crystal: they scattered over the bronze triton
and nereids their waves of foamwhich glistened like fire in the rays of
the sun. An army of servants were hurrying to and fro in squadrons in
the courtyard and corridors; while Fouquetwho had only that morning
arrivedwalked all through the palace with a calmobservant glancein
order to give his last ordersafter his intendants had inspected
everything.

It wasas we have saidthe 15th of August. The sun poured down its
burning rays upon the heathen deities of marble and bronze: it raised the
temperature of the water in the conch shellsand ripenedon the walls
those magnificent peachesof which the kingfifty years laterspoke so
regretfullywhenat Marlyon an occasion of a scarcity of the finer
sorts of peaches being complained ofin the beautiful gardens there gardens
which had cost France double the amount that had been expended on
Vaux - the _great king_ observed to some one: "You are far too young to
have eaten any of M. Fouquet's peaches."

Ohfame! Ohblazon of renown! Ohglory of this earth! That very man
whose judgment was so sound and accurate where merit was concerned - he
who had swept into his coffers the inheritance of Nicholas Fouquetwho
had robbed him of Lenotre and Lebrunand had sent him to rot for the
remainder of his life in one of the state prisons - merely remembered the
peaches of that vanquishedcrushedforgotten enemy! It was to little
purpose that Fouquet had squandered thirty millions of francs in the
fountains of his gardensin the crucibles of his sculptorsin the
writing-desks of his literary friendsin the portfolios of his painters;
vainly had he fancied that thereby he might be remembered. A peach - a
blushingrich-flavored fruitnestling in the trellis work on the gardenwall
hidden beneath its longgreen leaves- this little vegetable
productionthat a dormouse would nibble up without a thoughtwas
sufficient to recall to the memory of this great monarch the mournful
shade of the last surintendant of France.


With a perfect reliance that Aramis had made arrangements fairly to
distribute the vast number of guests throughout the palaceand that he
had not omitted to attend to any of the internal regulations for their
comfortFouquet devoted his entire attention to the _ensemble_ alone.
In one direction Gourville showed him the preparations which had been
made for the fireworks; in anotherMoliere led him over the theater; at
lastafter he had visited the chapelthe _salons_and the galleries
and was again going downstairsexhausted with fatigueFouquet saw
Aramis on the staircase. The prelate beckoned to him. The surintendant
joined his friendandwith himpaused before a large picture scarcely
finished. Applying himselfheart and soulto his workthe painter
Lebruncovered with perspirationstained with paintpale from fatigue
and the inspiration of geniuswas putting the last finishing touches
with his rapid brush. It was the portrait of the kingwhom they were
expectingdressed in the court suit which Percerin had condescended to
show beforehand to the bishop of Vannes. Fouquet placed himself before
this portraitwhich seemed to liveas one might sayin the cool
freshness of its fleshand in its warmth of color. He gazed upon it
long and fixedlyestimated the prodigious labor that had been bestowed
upon itandnot being able to find any recompense sufficiently great
for this Herculean efforthe passed his arm round the painter's neck and
embraced him. The surintendantby this actionhad utterly ruined a
suit of clothes worth a thousand pistolesbut he had satisfiedmore
than satisfiedLebrun. It was a happy moment for the artist; it was an
unhappy moment for M. Percerinwho was walking behind Fouquetand was
engaged in admiringin Lebrun's paintingthe suit that he had made for
his majestya perfect _objet d'art_as he called itwhich was not to
be matched except in the wardrobe of the surintendant. His distress and
his exclamations were interrupted by a signal which had been given from
the summit of the mansion. In the direction of Melunin the still
emptyopen plainthe sentinels of Vaux had just perceived the advancing
procession of the king and the queens. His majesty was entering Melun
with his long train of carriages and cavaliers.

In an hour - said Aramis to Fouquet.

In an hour!replied the lattersighing.

And the people who ask one another what is the good of these royal
_fetes!_continued the bishop of Vanneslaughingwith his false smile.

Alas! I, too, who am not the people, ask myself the same thing.

I will answer you in four and twenty hours, monseigneur. Assume a
cheerful countenance, for it should be a day of true rejoicing.

Well, believe me or not, as you like, D'Herblay,said the surintendant
with a swelling heartpointing at the _cortege_ of Louisvisible in the
horizonhe certainly loves me but very little, and I do not care much
more for him; but I cannot tell you how it is, that since he is
approaching my house -

Well, what?

Well, since I know he is on his way here, as my guest, he is more sacred
than ever for me; he is my acknowledged sovereign, and as such is very
dear to me.

Dear? yes,said Aramisplaying upon the wordas the Abbe Terray did
at a later periodwith Louis XV.

Do not laugh, D'Herblay; I feel that, if he really seemed to wish it, I
could love that young man.


You should not say that to me,returned Aramisbut rather to M.
Colbert.


To M. Colbert!exclaimed Fouquet. "Why so?"


Because he would allow you a pension out of the king's privy purse, as
soon as he becomes surintendant,said Aramispreparing to leave as soon
as he had dealt this last blow.


Where are you going?returned Fouquetwith a gloomy look.


To my own apartment, in order to change my costume, monseigneur.


Whereabouts are you lodging, D'Herblay?


In the blue room on the second story.


The room immediately over the king's room?


Precisely.


You will be subject to very great restraint there. What an idea to
condemn yourself to a room where you cannot stir or move about!


During the night, monseigneur, I sleep or read in my bed.


And your servants?


I have but one attendant with me. I find my reader quite sufficient.
Adieu, monseigneur; do not overfatigue yourself; keep yourself fresh for
the arrival of the king.


We shall see you by and by, I suppose, and shall see your friend Du
Vallon also?


He is lodging next to me, and is at this moment dressing.


And Fouquetbowingwith a smilepassed on like a commander-in-chief
who pays the different outposts a visit after the enemy has been signaled
in sight.


Transcriber's note: In the five-volume editionVolume 4 ends here. - JB


Chapter XII:
The Wine of Melun.


The king hadin point of factentered Melun with the intention of
merely passing through the city. The youthful monarch was most eagerly
anxious for amusements; only twice during the journey had he been able to
catch a glimpse of La Valliereandsuspecting that his only opportunity
of speaking to her would be after nightfallin the gardensand after
the ceremonial of reception had been gone throughhe had been very
desirous to arrive at Vaux as early as possible. But he reckoned without
his captain of the musketeersand without M. Colbert. Like Calypsowho
could not be consoled at the departure of Ulyssesour Gascon could not
console himself for not having guessed why Aramis had asked Percerin to
show him the king's new costumes. "There is not a doubt he said to
himself, that my friend the bishop of Vannes had some motive in that;"
and then he began to rack his brains most uselessly. D'Artagnanso
intimately acquainted with all the court intrigueswho knew the position
of Fouquet better than even Fouquet himself didhad conceived the
strangest fancies and suspicions at the announcement of the _fete_which



would have ruined a wealthy manand which became impossibleutter
madness evenfor a man so poor as he was. And thenthe presence of
Aramiswho had returned from Belle-Isleand been nominated by Monsieur
Fouquet inspector-general of all the arrangements; his perseverance in
mixing himself up with all the surintendant's affairs; his visits to
Baisemeaux; all this suspicious singularity of conduct had excessively
troubled and tormented D'Artagnan during the last two weeks.

With men of Aramis's stamp,he saidone is never the stronger except
sword in hand. So long as Aramis continued a soldier, there was hope of
getting the better of him; but since he has covered his cuirass with a
stole, we are lost. But what can Aramis's object possibly be?And
D'Artagnan plunged again into deep thought. "What does it matter to me
after all he continued, if his only object is to overthrow M.
Colbert? And what else can he be after?" And D'Artagnan rubbed his
forehead - that fertile landwhence the plowshare of his nails had
turned up so many and such admirable ideas in his time. Heat first
thought of talking the matter over with Colbertbut his friendship for
Aramisthe oath of earlier daysbound him too strictly. He revolted at
the bare idea of such a thingandbesideshe hated the financier too
cordially. Thenagainhe wished to unburden his mind to the king; but
yet the king would not be able to understand the suspicions which had not
even a shadow of reality at their base. He resolved to address himself
to Aramisdirectthe first time he met him. "I will get him said the
musketeer, between a couple of candlessuddenlyand when he least
expects itI will place my hand upon his heartand he will tell me -
What will he tell me? Yeshe will tell me somethingfor _mordioux!_
there is something in itI know."

Somewhat calmerD'Artagnan made every preparation for the journeyand
took the greatest care that the military household of the kingas yet
very inconsiderable in numbersshould be well officered and well
disciplined in its meager and limited proportions. The result was that
through the captain's arrangementsthe kingon arriving at Melunsaw
himself at the head of both the musketeers and Swiss guardsas well as a
picket of the French guards. It might almost have been called a small
army. M. Colbert looked at the troops with great delight: he even wished
they had been a third more in number.

But why?said the king.

In order to show greater honor to M. Fouquet,replied Colbert.

In order to ruin him the sooner,thought D'Artagnan.

When this little army appeared before Melunthe chief magistrates came
out to meet the kingand to present him with the keys of the cityand
invited him to enter the Hotel de Villein order to partake of the wine
of honor. The kingwho expected to pass through the city and to proceed
to Vaux without delaybecame quite red in the face from vexation.

Who was fool enough to occasion this delay?muttered the kingbetween
his teethas the chief magistrate was in the middle of a long address.

Not I, certainly,replied D'Artagnanbut I believe it was M. Colbert.

Colberthaving heard his name pronouncedsaidWhat was M. d'Artagnan
good enough to say?

I was good enough to remark that it was you who stopped the king's
progress, so that he might taste the _vin de Brie_. Was I right?

Quite so, monsieur.


In that case, then, it was you whom the king called some name or other.

What name?

I hardly know; but wait a moment - idiot, I think it was - no, no, it
was fool or dolt. Yes; his majesty said that the man who had thought of
the _vin de Melun_ was something of the sort.

D'Artagnanafter this broadsidequietly caressed his mustache; M.
Colbert's large head seemed to become larger and larger than ever.
D'Artagnanseeing how ugly anger made himdid not stop half-way. The
orator still went on with his speechwhile the king's color was visibly
increasing.

_Mordioux!_said the musketeercoollythe king is going to have an
attack of determination of blood to the head. Where the deuce did you
get hold of that idea, Monsieur Colbert? You have no luck.

Monsieur,said the financierdrawing himself upmy zeal for the
king's service inspired me with the idea.

Bah!

Monsieur, Melun is a city, an excellent city, which pays well, and which
it would be imprudent to displease.

There, now! I, who do not pretend to be a financier, saw only one idea
in your idea.

What was that, monsieur?

That of causing a little annoyance to M. Fouquet, who is making himself
quite giddy on his donjons yonder, in waiting for us.

This was a home-strokehard enough in all conscience. Colbert was
completely thrown out of the saddle by itand retiredthoroughly
discomfited. Fortunatelythe speech was now at an end; the king drank
the wine which was presented to himand then every one resumed the
progress through the city. The king bit his lips in angerfor the
evening was closing inand all hope of a walk with La Valliere was at an
end. In order that the whole of the king's household should enter Vaux
four hours at least were necessaryowing to the different arrangements.
The kingthereforewho was boiling with impatiencehurried forward as
much as possiblein order to reach it before nightfall. Butat the
moment he was setting off againother and fresh difficulties arose.

Is not the king going to sleep at Melun?said Colbertin a low tone of
voiceto D'Artagnan.

M. Colbert must have been badly inspired that dayto address himself in
that manner to the chief of the musketeers; for the latter guessed that
the king's intention was very far from that of remaining where he was.
D'Artagnan would not allow him to enter Vaux except he were well and
strongly accompanied; and desired that his majesty would not enter except
with all the escort. On the other handhe felt that these delays would
irritate that impatient monarch beyond measure. In what way could he
possibly reconcile these difficulties? D'Artagnan took up Colbert's
remarkand determined to repeated it to the king.
Sire,he saidM. Colbert has been asking me if your majesty does not
intend to sleep at Melun.

Sleep at Melun! What for?exclaimed Louis XIV. "Sleep at Melun! Who
in Heaven's namecan have thought of such a thingwhen M. Fouquet is


expecting us this evening?"

It was simply,replied Colbertquicklythe fear of causing your
majesty the least delay; for, according to established etiquette, you
cannot enter any place, with the exception of your own royal residences,
until the soldiers' quarters have been marked out by the quartermaster,
and the garrison properly distributed.

D'Artagnan listened with the greatest attentionbiting his mustache to
conceal his vexation; and the queens were not less interested. They were
fatiguedand would have preferred to go to rest without proceeding any
farther; more especiallyin order to prevent the king walking about in
the evening with M. de Saint-Aignan and the ladies of the courtforif
etiquette required the princesses to remain within their own roomsthe
ladies of honoras soon as they had performed the services required of
themhad no restrictions placed upon thembut were at liberty to walk
about as they pleased. It will easily be conjectured that all these
rival interestsgathering together in vaporsnecessarily produced
cloudsand that the clouds were likely to be followed by a tempest. The
king had no mustache to gnawand therefore kept biting the handle of his
whip insteadwith ill-concealed impatience. How could he get out of
it? D'Artagnan looked as agreeable as possibleand Colbert as sulky as
he could. Who was there he could get in a passion with?

We will consult the queen,said Louis XIV.bowing to the royal
ladies. And this kindness of consideration softened Maria Theresa's
heartwhobeing of a kind and generous dispositionwhen left to her
own free-willreplied:

I shall be delighted to do whatever your majesty wishes.

How long will it take us to get to Vaux?inquired Anne of Austriain
slow and measured accentsplacing her hand upon her bosomwhere the
seat of her pain lay.

An hour for your majesty's carriages,said D'Artagnan; "the roads are
tolerably good."

The king looked at him. "And a quarter of an hour for the king he
hastened to add.

We should arrive by daylight?" said Louis XIV.

But the billeting of the king's military escort,objected Colbert
softlywill make his majesty lose all the advantage of his speed,
however quick he may be.

Double ass that you are!thought D'Artagnan; "if I had any interest or
motive in demolishing your credit with the kingI could do it in ten
minutes. If I were in the king's place he added aloud, I shouldin
going to M. Fouquetleave my escort behind me; I should go to him as a
friend; I should enter accompanied only by my captain of the guards; I
should consider that I was acting more noblyand should be invested with
a still more sacred character by doing so."

Delight sparkled in the king's eyes. "That is indeed a very sensible
suggestion. We will go to see a friend as friends; the gentlemen who are
with the carriages can go slowly: but we who are mounted will ride on."
And he rode offaccompanied by all those who were mounted. Colbert hid
his ugly head behind his horse's neck.

I shall be quits,said D'Artagnanas he galloped alongby getting a
little talk with Aramis this evening. And then, M. Fouquet is a man of
honor. _Mordioux!_ I have said so, and it must be so.


And this was the way howtowards seven o'clock in the eveningwithout
announcing his arrival by the din of trumpetsand without even his
advanced guardwithout out-riders or musketeersthe king presented
himself before the gate of Vauxwhere Fouquetwho had been informed of
his royal guest's approachhad been waiting for the last half-hourwith
his head uncoveredsurrounded by his household and his friends.

Chapter XIII:
Nectar and Ambrosia.

M. Fouquet held the stirrup of the kingwhohaving dismountedbowed
most graciouslyand more graciously still held out his hand to him
which Fouquetin spite of a slight resistance on the king's part
carried respectfully to his lips. The king wished to wait in the first
courtyard for the arrival of the carriagesnor had he long to waitfor
the roads had been put into excellent order by the superintendentand a
stone would hardly have been found of the size of an egg the whole way
from Melun to Vaux; so that the carriagesrolling along as though on a
carpetbrought the ladies to Vauxwithout jolting or fatigueby eight
o'clock. They were received by Madame Fouquetand at the moment they
made their appearancea light as bright as day burst forth from every
quartertreesvasesand marble statues. This species of enchantment
lasted until their majesties had retired into the palace. All these
wonders and magical effects which the chronicler has heaped upor rather
embalmedin his recitalat the risk of rivaling the brain-born scenes
of romancers; these splendors whereby night seemed vanquished and nature
correctedtogether with every delight and luxury combined for the
satisfaction of all the sensesas well as the imaginationFouquet did
in real truth offer to his sovereign in that enchanting retreat of which
no monarch could at that time boast of possessing an equal. We do not
intend to describe the grand banquetat which the royal guests were
presentnor the concertsnor the fairy-like and more than magic
transformations and metamorphoses; it will be enough for our purpose to
depict the countenance the king assumedwhichfrom being gaysoon wore
a very gloomyconstrainedand irritated expression. He remembered his
own residenceroyal though it wasand the mean and indifferent style of
luxury that prevailed therewhich comprised but little more than what
was merely useful for the royal wantswithout being his own personal
property. The large vases of the Louvrethe older furniture and plate
of Henry II.of Francis I.and of Louis XI.were but historic
monuments of earlier days; nothing but specimens of artthe relics of
his predecessors; while with Fouquetthe value of the article was as
much in the workmanship as in the article itself. Fouquet ate from a
gold servicewhich artists in his own employ had modeled and cast for
him alone. Fouquet drank wines of which the king of France did not even
know the nameand drank them out of goblets each more valuable than the
entire royal cellar.
Whattoowas to be said of the apartmentsthe hangingsthe pictures
the servants and officersof every descriptionof his household? What
of the mode of service in which etiquette was replaced by order; stiff
formality by personalunrestrained comfort; the happiness and
contentment of the guest became the supreme law of all who obeyed the
host? The perfect swarm of busily engaged persons moving about
noiselessly; the multitude of guests- who werehowevereven less
numerous than the servants who waited on them- the myriad of
exquisitely prepared dishesof gold and silver vases; the floods of
dazzling lightthe masses of unknown flowers of which the hot-houses had
been despoiledredundant with luxuriance of unequaled scent and beauty;
the perfect harmony of the surroundingswhichindeedwas no more than
the prelude of the promised _fete_charmed all who were there; and they
testified their admiration over and over againnot by voice or gesture


but by deep silence and rapt attentionthose two languages of the
courtier which acknowledge the hand of no master powerful enough to
restrain them.

As for the kinghis eyes filled with tears; he dared not look at the
queen. Anne of Austriawhose pride was superior to that of any creature
breathingoverwhelmed her host by the contempt with which she treated
everything handed to her. The young queenkind-hearted by nature and
curious by dispositionpraised Fouquetate with an exceedingly good
appetiteand asked the names of the strange fruits as they were placed
upon the table. Fouquet replied that he was not aware of their names.
The fruits came from his own stores; he had often cultivated them
himselfhaving an intimate acquaintance with the cultivation of exotic
fruits and plants. The king felt and appreciated the delicacy of the
repliesbut was only the more humiliated; he thought the queen a little
too familiar in her mannersand that Anne of Austria resembled Juno a
little too muchin being too proud and haughty; his chief anxiety
howeverwas himselfthat he might remain cold and distant in his
behaviorbordering lightly the limits of supreme disdain or simple
admiration.

But Fouquet had foreseen all this; he wasin factone of those men who
foresee everything. The king had expressly declared thatso long as he
remained under Fouquet's roofhe did not wish his own different repasts
to be served in accordance with the usual etiquetteand that he would
consequentlydine with the rest of society; but by the thoughtful
attention of the surintendantthe king's dinner was served up
separatelyif one may so express itin the middle of the general table;
the dinnerwonderful in every respectfrom the dishes of which was
composedcomprised everything the king liked and generally preferred to
anything else. Louis had no excuse - heindeedwho had the keenest
appetite in his kingdom - for saying that he was not hungry. NayM.
Fouquet did even better still; he certainlyin obedience to the king's
expressed desireseated himself at the tablebut as soon as the soups
were servedhe arose and personally waited on the kingwhile Madame
Fouquet stood behind the queen-mother's armchair. The disdain of Juno
and the sulky fits of temper of Jupiter could not resist this excess of
kindly feeling and polite attention. The queen ate a biscuit dipped in a
glass of San-Lucar wine; and the king ate of everythingsaying to M.
Fouquet: "It is impossiblemonsieur le surintendantto dine better
anywhere." Whereupon the whole court beganon all sidesto devour the
dishes spread before them with such enthusiasm that it looked as though a
cloud of Egyptian locusts was settling down on green and growing crops.

As soonhoweveras his hunger was appeasedthe king became morose and
overgloomed again; the more so in proportion to the satisfaction he
fancied he had previously manifestedand particularly on account of the
deferential manner which his courtiers had shown towards Fouquet.
D'Artagnanwho ate a good deal and drank but littlewithout allowing it
to be noticeddid not lose a single opportunitybut made a great number
of observations which he turned to good profit.

When the supper was finishedthe king expressed a wish not to lose the
promenade. The park was illuminated; the moontooas if she had placed
herself at the orders of the lord of Vauxsilvered the trees and lake
with her own bright and quasi-phosphorescent light. The air was
strangely soft and balmy; the daintily shell-gravelled walks through the
thickly set avenues yielded luxuriously to the feet. The _fete_ was
complete in every respectfor the kinghaving met La Valliere in one of
the winding paths of the woodwas able to press her hand and sayI
love you,without any one overhearing him except M. d'Artagnanwho
followedand M. Fouquetwho preceded him.

The dreamy night of magical enchantments stole smoothly on. The king


having requested to be shown to his roomthere was immediately a
movement in every direction. The queens passed to their own apartments
accompanied by them music of theorbos and lutes; the king found his
musketeers awaiting him on the grand flight of stepsfor M. Fouquet had
brought them on from Melun and had invited them to supper. D'Artagnan's
suspicions at once disappeared. He was wearyhe had supped welland
wishedfor once in his lifethoroughly to enjoy a _fete_ given by a man
who was in every sense of the word a king. "M. Fouquet he said, is
the man for me."


The king was conducted with the greatest ceremony to the chamber of
Morpheusof which we owe some cursory description to our readers. It
was the handsomest and largest in the palace. Lebrun had painted on the
vaulted ceiling the happy as well as the unhappy dreams which Morpheus
inflicts on kings as well as on other men. Everything that sleep gives
birth to that is lovelyits fairy scenesits flowers and nectarthe
wild voluptuousness or profound repose of the senseshad the painter
elaborated on his frescoes. It was a composition as soft and pleasing in
one part as dark and gloomy and terrible in another. The poisoned
chalicethe glittering dagger suspended over the head of the sleeper;
wizards and phantoms with terrific masksthose half-dim shadows more
alarming than the approach of fire or the somber face of midnightthese
and such as thesehe had made the companions of his more pleasing
pictures. No sooner had the king entered his room than a cold shiver
seemed to pass through himand on Fouquet asking him the cause of it
the king repliedas pale as death:


I am sleepy, that is all.


Does your majesty wish for your attendants at once?


No; I have to talk with a few persons first,said the king. "Will you
have the goodness to tell M. Colbert I wish to see him."


Fouquet bowed and left the room.


Chapter XIV:
A Gasconand a Gascon and a Half.


D'Artagnan had determined to lose no timeand in fact he never was in
the habit of doing so. After having inquired for Aramishe had looked
for him in every direction until he had succeeded in finding him.
Besidesno sooner had the king entered Vauxthan Aramis had retired to
his own roommeditatingdoubtlesssome new piece of gallant attention
for his majesty's amusement. D'Artagnan desired the servants to announce
himand found on the second story (in a beautiful room called the Blue
Chamberon account of the color of its hangings) the bishop of Vannes
in company with Porthos and several of the modern Epicureans. Aramis
came forward to embrace his friendand offered him the best seat. As it
was after awhile generally remarked among those present that the
musketeer was reservedand wished for an opportunity for conversing
secretly with Aramisthe Epicureans took their leave. Porthoshowever
did not stir; for true it is thathaving dined exceedingly wellhe was
fast asleep in his armchair; and the freedom of conversation therefore
was not interrupted by a third person. Porthos had a deepharmonious
snoreand people might talk in the midst of its loud bass without fear
of disturbing him. D'Artagnan felt that he was called upon to open the
conversation.


Well, and so we have come to Vaux,he said.


Why, yes, D'Artagnan. And how do you like the place?



Very much, and I like M. Fouquet, also.

Is he not a charming host?

No one could be more so.

I am told that the king began by showing great distance of manner
towards M. Fouquet, but that his majesty grew much more cordial
afterwards.

You did not notice it, then, since you say you have been told so?

No; I was engaged with the gentlemen who have just left the room about
the theatrical performances and the tournaments which are to take place
to-morrow.

Ah, indeed! you are the comptroller-general of the _fetes_ here, then?

You know I am a friend of all kinds of amusement where the exercise of
the imagination is called into activity; I have always been a poet in one
way or another.

Yes, I remember the verses you used to write, they were charming.

I have forgotten them, but I am delighted to read the verses of others,
when those others are known by the names of Moliere, Pelisson, La
Fontaine, etc.

Do you know what idea occurred to me this evening, Aramis?

No; tell me what it was, for I should never be able to guess it, you
have so many.

Well, the idea occurred to me, that the true king of France is not Louis
XIV.

_What!_said Aramisinvoluntarilylooking the musketeer full in the
eyes.

No, it is Monsieur Fouquet.

Aramis breathed againand smiled. "Ah! you are like all the rest
jealous he said. I would wager that it was M. Colbert who turned that
pretty phrase." D'Artagnanin order to throw Aramis off his guard
related Colbert's misadventures with regard to the _vin de Melun_.

He comes of a mean race, does Colbert,said Aramis.

Quite true.

When I think, too,added the bishopthat that fellow will be your
minister within four months, and that you will serve him as blindly as
you did Richelieu or Mazarin -

And as you serve M. Fouquet,said D'Artagnan.

With this difference, though, that M. Fouquet is not M. Colbert.

True, true,said D'Artagnanas he pretended to become sad and full of
reflection; and thena moment afterhe addedWhy do you tell me that

M. Colbert will be minister in four months?
Because M. Fouquet will have ceased to be so,replied Aramis.


He will be ruined, you mean?said D'Artagnan.

Completely so.

Why does he give these _fetes_, then?said the musketeerin a tone so
full of thoughtful considerationand so well assumedthat the bishop
was for the moment deceived by it. "Why did you not dissuade him from
it?"

The latter part of the phrase was just a little too muchand Aramis's
former suspicions were again aroused. "It is done with the object of
humoring the king."

By ruining himself?

Yes, by ruining himself for the king.

A most eccentric, one might say, sinister calculation, that.

Necessity, necessity, my friend.

I don't see that, dear Aramis.

Do you not? Have you not remarked M. Colbert's daily increasing
antagonism, and that he is doing his utmost to drive the king to get rid
of the superintendent?

One must be blind not to see it.

And that a cabal is already armed against M. Fouquet?

That is well known.

What likelihood is there that the king would join a party formed against
a man who will have spent everything he had to please him?

True, true,said D'Artagnanslowlyhardly convincedyet curious to
broach another phase of the conversation. "There are folliesand
follies he resumed, and I do not like those you are committing."

What do you allude to?

As for the banquet, the ball, the concert, the theatricals, the
tournaments, the cascades, the fireworks, the illuminations, and the
presents - these are well and good, I grant; but why were not these
expenses sufficient? Why was it necessary to have new liveries and
costumes for your whole household?

You are quite right. I told M. Fouquet that myself; he replied, that if
he were rich enough he would offer the king a newly erected chateau, from
the vanes at the houses to the very sub-cellars; completely new inside
and out; and that, as soon as the king had left, he would burn the whole
building and its contents, in order that it might not be made use of by
any one else.

How completely Spanish!

I told him so, and he then added this: 'Whoever advises me to spare
expense, I shall look upon as my enemy.'

It is positive madness; and that portrait, too!

What portrait?said Aramis.


That of the king, and the surprise as well.

What surprise?

The surprise you seem to have in view, and on account of which you took
some specimens away, when I met you at Percerin's.D'Artagnan paused.
The shaft was dischargedand all he had to do was to wait and watch its
effect.

That is merely an act of graceful attention,replied Aramis.

D'Artagnan went up to his friendtook hold of both his handsand
looking him full in the eyessaidAramis, do you still care for me a
very little?

What a question to ask!

Very good. One favor, then. Why did you take some patterns of the
king's costumes at Percerin's?

Come with me and ask poor Lebrun, who has been working upon them for the
last two days and nights.

Aramis, that may be truth for everybody else, but for me -

Upon my word, D'Artagnan, you astonish me.

Be a little considerate. Tell me the exact truth; you would not like
anything disagreeable to happen to me, would you?

My dear friend, you are becoming quite incomprehensible. What suspicion
can you have possibly got hold of?

Do you believe in my instinctive feelings? Formerly you used to have
faith in them. Well, then, an instinct tells me that you have some
concealed project on foot.

I - a project?

I am convinced of it.

What nonsense!

I am not only sure of it, but I would even swear it.

Indeed, D'Artagnan, you cause me the greatest pain. Is it likely, if I
have any project in hand that I ought to keep secret from you, I should
tell you about it? If I had one that I could and ought to have revealed,
should I not have long ago divulged it?

No, Aramis, no. There are certain projects which are never revealed
until the favorable opportunity arrives.

In that case, my dear fellow,returned the bishoplaughingthe only
thing now is, that the 'opportunity' has not yet arrived.

D'Artagnan shook his head with a sorrowful expression. "Ohfriendship
friendship!" he saidwhat an idle word you are! Here is a man who, if
I were but to ask it, would suffer himself to be cut in pieces for my
sake.

You are right,said Aramisnobly.

And this man, who would shed every drop of blood in his veins for me,


will not open up before me the least corner in his heart. Friendship, I
repeat, is nothing but an unsubstantial shadow - a lure, like everything
else in this bright, dazzling world.

It is not thus you should speak of _our_ friendship,replied the
bishopin a firmassured voice; "for ours is not of the same nature as
those of which you have been speaking."

Look at us, Aramis; three out of the old 'four.' You are deceiving me;
I suspect you; and Porthos is fast asleep. An admirable trio of friends,
don't you think so? What an affecting relic of the former dear old
times!

I can only tell you one thing, D'Artagnan, and I swear it on the Bible:
I love you just as I used to do. If I ever suspect you, it is on account
of others, and not on account of either of us. In everything I may do,
and should happen to succeed in, you will find your fourth. Will you
promise me the same favor?

If I am not mistaken, Aramis, your words - at the moment you pronounce
them - are full of generous feeling.

Such a thing is very possible.

You are conspiring against M. Colbert. If that be all, _mordioux_, tell
me so at once. I have the instrument in my own hand, and will pull out
the tooth easily enough.

Aramis could not conceal a smile of disdain that flitted over his haughty
features. "And supposing that I were conspiring against Colbertwhat
harm would there be in _that?_"

No, no; that would be too trifling a matter for you to take in hand, and
it was not on that account you asked Percerin for those patterns of the
king's costumes. Oh! Aramis, we are not enemies, remember - we are
brothers. Tell me what you wish to undertake, and, upon the word of a
D'Artagnan, if I cannot help you, I will swear to remain neuter.

I am undertaking nothing,said Aramis.

Aramis, a voice within me speaks and seems to trickle forth a rill of
light within my darkness: it is a voice that has never yet deceived me.
It is the king you are conspiring against.

The king?exclaimed the bishoppretending to be annoyed.

Your face will not convince me; the king, I repeat.

Will you help me?said Aramissmiling ironically.

Aramis, I will do more than help you - I will do more than remain neuter

-I will save you.
You are mad, D'Artagnan.

I am the wiser of the two, in this matter.

You to suspect me of wishing to assassinate the king!

Who spoke of such a thing?smiled the musketeer.

Well, let us understand one another. I do not see what any one can do
to a legitimate king as ours is, if he does not assassinate him.
D'Artagnan did not say a word. "Besidesyou have your guards and your


musketeers here said the bishop.

True."

You are not in M. Fouquet's house, but in your own.

True; but in spite of that, Aramis, grant me, for pity's sake, one
single word of a true friend.

A true friend's word is ever truth itself. If I think of touching, even
with my finger, the son of Anne of Austria, the true king of this realm
of France - if I have not the firm intention of prostrating myself before
his throne - if in every idea I may entertain to-morrow, here at Vaux,
will not be the most glorious day my king ever enjoyed - may Heaven's
lightning blast me where I stand!Aramis had pronounced these words
with his face turned towards the alcove of his own bedroomwhere
D'Artagnanseated with his back towards the alcovecould not suspect
that any one was lying concealed. The earnestness of his wordsthe
studied slowness with which he pronounced themthe solemnity of his
oathgave the musketeer the most complete satisfaction. He took hold of
both Aramis's handsand shook them cordially. Aramis had endured
reproaches without turning paleand had blushed as he listened to words
of praise. D'Artagnandeceiveddid him honor; but D'Artagnantrustful
and reliantmade him feel ashamed. "Are you going away?" he saidas he
embraced himin order to conceal the flush on his face.

Yes. Duty summons me. I have to get the watch-word. It seems I am to
be lodged in the king's ante-room. Where does Porthos sleep?

Take him away with you, if you like, for he rumbles through his sleepy
nose like a park of artillery.

Ah! he does not stay with you, then?said D'Artagnan.

Not the least in the world. He has a chamber to himself, but I don't
know where.

Very good!said the musketeer; from whom this separation of the two
associates removed his last suspicionand he touched Porthos lightly on
the shoulder; the latter replied by a loud yawn. "Come said D'Artagnan.

WhatD'Artagnanmy dear fellowis that you? What a lucky chance!
Ohyes - true; I have forgotten; I am at the _fete_ at Vaux."

Yes; and your beautiful dress, too.

Yes, it was very attentive on the part of Monsieur Coquelin de Voliere,
was it not?

Hush!said Aramis. "You are walking so heavily you will make the
flooring give way."

True,said the musketeer; "this room is above the domeI think."

And I did not choose it for a fencing-room, I assure you,added the
bishop. "The ceiling of the king's room has all the lightness and calm
of wholesome sleep. Do not forgetthereforethat my flooring is merely
the covering of his ceiling. Good nightmy friendsand in ten minutes
I shall be asleep myself." And Aramis accompanied them to the door
laughing quietly all the while. As soon as they were outsidehe bolted
the doorhurriedly; closed up the chinks of the windowsand then called
outMonseigneur! - monseigneur!Philippe made his appearance from the
alcoveas he pushed aside a sliding panel placed behind the bed.


M. d'Artagnan entertains a great many suspicions, it seems,he said.

Ah! - you recognized M. d'Artagnan, then?

Before you called him by his name, even.

He is your captain of musketeers.

He is very devoted to _me_,replied Philippelaying a stress upon the
personal pronoun.

As faithful as a dog; but he bites sometimes. If D'Artagnan does not
recognize you before _the other_ has disappeared, rely upon D'Artagnan to
the end of the world; for in that case, if he has seen nothing, he will
keep his fidelity. If he sees, when it is too late, he is a Gascon, and
will never admit that he has been deceived.

I thought so. What are we to do, now?

Sit in this folding-chair. I am going to push aside a portion of the
flooring; you will look through the opening, which answers to one of the
false windows made in the dome of the king's apartment. Can you see?

Yes,said Philippestarting as at the sight of an enemy; "I see the
king!"

What is he doing?

He seems to wish some man to sit down close to him.

M. Fouquet?

No, no; wait a moment -

Look at the notes and the portraits, my prince.

The man whom the king wishes to sit down in his presence is M. Colbert.

Colbert sit down in the king's presence!exclaimed Aramis. "It is
impossible."

Look.

Aramis looked through the opening in the flooring. "Yes he said.
Colbert himself. Ohmonseigneur! what can we be going to hear - and
what can result from this intimacy?"

Nothing good for M. Fouquet, at all events.

The prince did not deceive himself.

We have seen that Louis XIV. had sent for Colbertand Colbert had
arrived. The conversation began between them by the king according to
him one of the highest favors that he had ever done; it was true the king
was alone with his subject. "Colbert said he, sit down."

The intendantovercome with delightfor he feared he was about to be
dismissedrefused this unprecedented honor.

Does he accept?said Aramis.

No, he remains standing.

Let us listen, then.And the future king and the future pope listened


eagerly to the simple mortals they held under their feetready to crush
them when they liked.

Colbert,said the kingyou have annoyed me exceedingly to-day.

I know it, sire.

Very good; I like that answer. Yes, you knew it, and there was courage
in the doing of it.

I ran the risk of displeasing your majesty, but I risked, also, the
concealment of your best interests.

What! you were afraid of something on _my_ account?

I was, sire, even if it were nothing more than an indigestion,said
Colbert; "for people do not give their sovereigns such banquets as the
one of to-dayunless it be to stifle them beneath the burden of good
living." Colbert awaited the effect this coarse jest would produce upon
the king; and Louis XIV.who was the vainest and the most fastidiously
delicate man in his kingdomforgave Colbert the joke.

The truth is,he saidthat M. Fouquet has given me too good a meal.
Tell me, Colbert, where does he get all the money required for this
enormous expenditure, - can you tell?

Yes, I do know, sire.

Will you be able to prove it with tolerable certainty?

Easily; and to the utmost farthing.

I know you are very exact.

Exactitude is the principal qualification required in an intendant of
finances.

But all are not so.

I thank you majesty for so flattering a compliment from your own lips.

M. Fouquet, therefore, is rich - very rich, and I suppose every man
knows he is so.

Every one, sire; the living as well as the dead.

What does that mean, Monsieur Colbert?

The living are witnesses of M. Fouquet's wealth, - they admire and
applaud the result produced; but the dead, wiser and better informed than
we are, know how that wealth was obtained - and they rise up in
accusation.

So that M. Fouquet owes his wealth to some cause or other.

The occupation of an intendant very often favors those who practice it.

You have something to say to me more confidentially, I perceive; do not
be afraid, we are quite alone.

I am never afraid of anything under the shelter of my own conscience,
and under the protection of your majesty,said Colbertbowing.

If the dead, therefore, were to speak -


They do speak sometimes, sire, - read.

Ah!murmured Aramisin the prince's earwhoclose beside him
listened without losing a syllablesince you are placed here,
monseigneur, in order to learn your vocation of a king, listen to a piece
of infamy - of a nature truly royal. You are about to be a witness of
one of those scenes which the foul fiend alone conceives and executes.
Listen attentively, - you will find your advantage in it.

The prince redoubled his attentionand saw Louis XIV. take from
Colbert's hands a letter the latter held out to him.

The late cardinal's handwriting,said the king.

Your majesty has an excellent memory,replied Colbertbowing; "it is
an immense advantage for a king who is destined for hard work to
recognize handwritings at the first glance."

The king read Mazarin's letterandas its contents are already known to
the readerin consequence of the misunderstanding between Madame de
Chevreuse and Aramisnothing further would be learned if we stated them
here again.

I do not quite understand,said the kinggreatly interested.

Your majesty has not acquired the utilitarian habit of checking the
public accounts.

I see that it refers to money that had been given to M. Fouquet.

Thirteen millions. A tolerably good sum.

Yes. Well, these thirteen millions are wanting to balance the total of
the account. That is what I do not very well understand. How was this
deficit possible?

Possible I do not say; but there is no doubt about fact that it is
really so.

You say that these thirteen millions are found to be wanting in the
accounts?

I do not say so, but the registry does.

And this letter of M. Mazarin indicates the employment of that sum and
the name of the person with whom it was deposited?

As your majesty can judge for yourself.

Yes; and the result is, then, that M. Fouquet has not yet restored the
thirteen millions.

That results from the accounts, certainly, sire.

Well, and, consequently -

Well, sire, in that case, inasmuch as M. Fouquet has not yet given back
the thirteen millions, he must have appropriated them to his own purpose;
and with those thirteen millions one could incur four times and a little
more as much expense, and make four times as great a display, as your
majesty was able to do at Fontainebleau, where we only spent three
millions altogether, if you remember.


For a blundererthe _souvenir_ he had evoked was a rather skillfully
contrived piece of baseness; for by the remembrance of his own _fete_ he
for the first timeperceived its inferiority compared with that of
Fouquet. Colbert received back again at Vaux what Fouquet had given him
at Fontainebleauandas a good financierreturned it with the best
possible interest. Having once disposed the king's mind in this artful
wayColbert had nothing of much importance to detain him. He felt that
such was the casefor the kingtoohad again sunk into a dull and
gloomy state. Colbert awaited the first words from the king's lips with
as much impatience as Philippe and Aramis did from their place of
observation.

Are you aware what is the usual and natural consequence of all this,
Monsieur Colbert?said the kingafter a few moments' reflection.

No, sire, I do not know.

Well, then, the fact of the appropriation of the thirteen millions, if
it can be proved -

But it is so already.

I mean if it were to be declared and certified, M. Colbert.

I think it will be to-morrow, if your majesty -

Were we not under M. Fouquet's roof, you were going to say, perhaps,
replied the kingwith something of nobility in his demeanor.

The king is in his own palace wherever he may be - especially in houses
which the royal money has constructed.

I think,said Philippe in a low tone to Aramisthat the architect who
planned this dome ought, anticipating the use it could be put to at a
future opportunity, so to have contrived that it might be made to fall
upon the heads of scoundrels such as M. Colbert.

I think so too,replied Aramis; "but M. Colbert is so very _near the
king_ at this moment."

That is true, and that would open the succession.

Of which your younger brother would reap all the advantage,
monseigneur. But stay, let us keep quiet, and go on listening.

We shall not have long to listen,said the young prince.

Why not, monseigneur?

Because, if I were king, I should make no further reply.

And what would you do?

I should wait until to-morrow morning to give myself time for
reflection.

Louis XIV. at last raised his eyesand finding Colbert attentively
waiting for his next remarkssaidhastilychanging the conversation
M. Colbert, I perceive it is getting very late, and I shall now retire
to bed. By to-morrow morning I shall have made up my mind.

Very good, sire,returned Colbertgreatly incensedalthough he
restrained himself in the presence of the king.


The king made a gesture of adieuand Colbert withdrew with a respectful
bow. "My attendants!" cried the king; andas they entered the
apartmentPhilippe was about to quit his post of observation.

A moment longer,said Aramis to himwith his accustomed gentleness of
manner; "what has just now taken place is only a detailand to-morrow we
shall have no occasion to think anything more about it; but the ceremony
of the king's retiring to restthe etiquette observed in addressing the
kingthat indeed is of the greatest importance. Learnsireand study
well how you ought to go to bed of a night. Look! look!"

Chapter XV:
Colbert.

History will tell usor rather history has told usof the various
events of the following dayof the splendid _fetes_ given by the
surintendant to his sovereign. Nothing but amusement and delight was
allowed to prevail throughout the whole of the following day; there was
a promenadea banqueta comedy to be actedand a comedytooin
whichto his great amazementPorthos recognized "M. Coquelin de
Voliere" as one of the actorsin the piece called "Les Facheux." Full
of preoccupationhoweverfrom the scene of the previous eveningand
hardly recovered from the effects of the poison which Colbert had then
administered to himthe kingduring the whole of the dayso brilliant
in its effectsso full of unexpected and startling noveltiesin which
all the wonders of the "Arabian Night's Entertainments" seemed to be
reproduced for his especial amusement - the kingwe sayshowed himself
coldreservedand taciturn. Nothing could smooth the frowns upon his
face; every one who observed him noticed that a deep feeling of
resentmentof remote originincreased by slow degreesas the source
becomes a riverthanks to the thousand threads of water that increase
its bodywas keenly alive in the depths of the king's heart. Towards
the middle of the day only did he begin to resume a little serenity of
mannerand by that time he hadin all probabilitymade up his mind.
Aramiswho followed him step by step in his thoughtsas in his walk
concluded that the event he was expecting would not be long before it was
announced. This time Colbert seemed to walk in concert with the bishop
of Vannesand had he received for every annoyance which he inflicted on
the king a word of direction from Aramishe could not have done better.
During the whole of the day the kingwhoin all probabilitywished to
free himself from some of the thoughts which disturbed his mindseemed
to seek La Valliere's society as actively as he seemed to show his
anxiety to flee that of M. Colbert or M. Fouquet. The evening came. The
king had expressed a wish not to walk in the park until after cards in
the evening. In the interval between supper and the promenadecards and
dice were introduced. The king won a thousand pistolesandhaving won
themput them in his pocketand then rosesayingAnd now, gentlemen,
to the park.He found the ladies of the court were already there. The
kingwe have before observedhad won a thousand pistolesand had put
them in his pocket; but M. Fouquet had somehow contrived to lose ten
thousandso that among the courtiers there was still left a hundred and
ninety thousand francs' profit to dividea circumstance which made the
countenances of the courtiers and the officers of the king's household
the most joyous countenances in the world. It was not the samehowever
with the king's face; fornotwithstanding his success at playto which
he was by no means insensiblethere still remained a slight shade of
dissatisfaction. Colbert was waiting for or upon him at the corner of
one of the avenues; he was most probably waiting there in consequence of
a rendezvous which had been given him by the kingas Louis XIV.who had
avoided himor who had seemed to avoid himsuddenly made him a sign
and they then struck into the depths of the park together. But La
Vallieretoohad observed the king's gloomy aspect and kindling
glances; she had remarked this - and as nothing which lay hidden or


smoldering in his heart was hidden from the gaze of her affectionshe
understood that this repressed wrath menaced some one; she prepared to
withstand the current of his vengeanceand intercede like an angel of
mercy. Overcome by sadnessnervously agitateddeeply distressed at
having been so long separated from her loverdisturbed at the sight of
the emotion she had divinedshe accordingly presented herself to the
king with an embarrassed aspectwhich in his then disposition of mind
the king interpreted unfavorably. Thenas they were alone - nearly
aloneinasmuch as Colbertas soon as he perceived the young girl
approachinghad stopped and drawn back a dozen paces - the king advanced
towards La Valliere and took her by the hand. "Mademoiselle he said to
her, should I be guilty of an indiscretion if I were to inquire if you
were indisposed? for you seem to breathe as if you were oppressed by some
secret cause of uneasinessand your eyes are filled with tears."

Oh! sire, if I be indeed so, and if my eyes are indeed full of tears, I
am sorrowful only at the sadness which seems to oppress your majesty.

My sadness? You are mistaken, mademoiselle; no, it is not sadness I
experience.

What is it, then, sire?

Humiliation.

Humiliation? oh! sire, what a word for you to use!

I mean, mademoiselle, that wherever I may happen to be, no one else
ought to be the master. Well, then, look round you on every side, and
judge whether I am not eclipsed - I, the king of France - before the
monarch of these wide domains. Oh!he continuedclenching his hands
and teethwhen I think that this king -

Well, sire?said Louiseterrified.

- That this king is a faithless, unworthy servant, who grows proud and
self-sufficient upon the strength of property that belongs to me, and
which he has stolen. And therefore I am about to change this impudent
minister's _fete_ into sorrow and mourning, of which the nymph of Vaux,
as the poets say, shall not soon lose the remembrance.

Oh! your majesty -

Well, mademoiselle, are you about to take M. Fouquet's part?said
Louisimpatiently.

No, sire; I will only ask whether you are well informed. Your majesty
has more than once learned the value of accusations made at court.

Louis XIV. made a sign for Colbert to approach. "SpeakMonsieur
Colbert said the young prince, for I almost believe that Mademoiselle
de la Valliere has need of your assistance before she can put any faith
in the king's word. Tell mademoiselle what M. Fouquet has done; and you
mademoisellewill perhaps have the kindness to listen. It will not be
long."

Why did Louis XIV. insist upon it in such a manner? A very simple reason

-his heart was not at resthis mind was not thoroughly convinced; he
imagined there lay some darkhiddentortuous intrigue behind these
thirteen millions of francs; and he wished that the pure heart of La
Vallierewhich had revolted at the idea of theft or robberyshould
approve - even were it only by a single word - the resolution he had
takenand whichneverthelesshe hesitated before carrying into
execution.

Speak, monsieur,said La Valliere to Colbertwho had advanced; "speak
since the king wishes me to listen to you. Tell mewhat is the crime
with which M. Fouquet is charged?"

Oh! not very heinous, mademoiselle,he returneda mere abuse of
confidence.

Speak, speak, Colbert; and when you have related it, leave us, and go
and inform M. d'Artagnan that I have certain orders to give him.

M. d'Artagnan, sire!exclaimed La Valliere; "but why send for M.
d'Artagnan? I entreat you to tell me."

_Pardieu!_ in order to arrest this haughty, arrogant Titan who, true to
his menace, threatens to scale my heaven.

Arrest M. Fouquet, do you say?

Ah! does that surprise you?

In his own house!

Why not? If he be guilty, he is as guilty in his own house as anywhere
else.

M. Fouquet, who at this moment is ruining himself for his sovereign.

In plain truth, mademoiselle, it seems as if you were defending this
traitor.

Colbert began to chuckle silently. The king turned round at the sound of
this suppressed mirth.

Sire,said La Valliereit is not M. Fouquet I am defending; it is
yourself.

Me! you are defending me?

Sire, you would dishonor yourself if you were to give such an order.

Dishonor myself!murmured the kingturning pale with anger. "In plain
truthmademoiselleyou show a strange persistence in what you say."

If I do, sire, my only motive is that of serving your majesty,replied
the noble-hearted girl: "for that I would riskI would sacrifice my very
lifewithout the least reserve."

Colbert seemed inclined to grumble and complain. La Vallierethat
timidgentle lambturned round upon himand with a glance like
lightning imposed silence upon him. "Monsieur she said, when the king
acts wellwhetherin doing sohe does either myself or those who
belong to me an injuryI have nothing to say; but were the king to
confer a benefit either upon me or mineand if he acted badlyI should
tell him so."

But it appears to me, mademoiselle,Colbert ventured to saythat I
too love the king.

Yes, monseigneur, we both love him, but each in a different manner,
replied La Vallierewith such an accent that the heart of the young king
was powerfully affected by it. "I love him so deeplythat the whole
world is aware of it; so purelythat the king himself does not doubt my
affection. He is my king and my master; I am the least of all his


servants. But whoso touches his honor assails my life. ThereforeI
repeatthat they dishonor the king who advise him to arrest M. Fouquet
under his own roof."

Colbert hung down his headfor he felt that the king had abandoned him.
Howeveras he bent his headhe murmuredMademoiselle, I have only one
word to say.

Do not say it, then, monsieur; for I would not listen to it. Besides,
what could you have to tell me? That M. Fouquet has been guilty of
certain crimes? I believe he has, because the king has said so; and,
from the moment the king said, 'I think so,' I have no occasion for other
lips to say, 'I affirm it.' But, were M. Fouquet the vilest of men, I
should say aloud, 'M. Fouquet's person is sacred to the king because he
is the guest of M. Fouquet. Were his house a den of thieves, were Vaux a
cave of coiners or robbers, his home is sacred, his palace is inviolable,
since his wife is living in it; and that is an asylum which even
executioners would not dare to violate.'

La Valliere pausedand was silent. In spite of himself the king could
not but admire her; he was overpowered by the passionate energy of her
voice; by the nobleness of the cause she advocated. Colbert yielded
overcome by the inequality of the struggle. At last the king breathed
again more freelyshook his headand held out his hand to La Valliere.
Mademoiselle,he saidgentlywhy do you decide against me? Do you
know what this wretched fellow will do, if I give him time to breathe
again?

Is he not a prey which will always be within your grasp?

Should he escape, and take to flight?exclaimed Colbert.

Well, monsieur, it will always remain on record, to the king's eternal
honor, that he allowed M. Fouquet to flee; and the more guilty he may
have been, the greater will the king's honor and glory appear, compared
with such unnecessary misery and shame.

Louis kissed La Valliere's handas he knelt before her.

I am lost,thought Colbert; then suddenly his face brightened up
again. "Oh! nonoahaold fox! - not yet he said to himself.

And while the king, protected from observation by the thick covert of an
enormous lime, pressed La Valliere to his breast, with all the ardor of
ineffable affection, Colbert tranquilly fumbled among the papers in his
pocket-book and drew out of it a paper folded in the form of a letter,
somewhat yellow, perhaps, but one that must have been most precious,
since the intendant smiled as he looked at it; he then bent a look, full
of hatred, upon the charming group which the young girl and the king
formed together - a group revealed but for a moment, as the light of the
approaching torches shone upon it. Louis noticed the light reflected
upon La Valliere's white dress. Leave meLouise he said, for some
one is coming."

Mademoiselle, mademoiselle, some one is coming,cried Colbertto
expedite the young girl's departure.

Louise disappeared rapidly among the trees; and thenas the kingwho
had been on his knees before the young girlwas rising from his humble
postureColbert exclaimedAh! Mademoiselle de la Valliere has let
something fall.

What is it?inquired the king.


A paper - a letter - something white; look there, sire.

The king stooped down immediately and picked up the lettercrumpling it
in his handas he did so; and at the same moment the torches arrived
inundating the blackness of the scene with a flood of light as bight as
day.

Chapter XVI:
Jealousy.

The torches we have just referred tothe eager attention every one
displayedand the new ovation paid to the king by Fouquetarrived in
time to suspend the effect of a resolution which La Valliere had already
considerably shaken in Louis XIV.'s heart. He looked at Fouquet with a
feeling almost of gratitude for having given La Valliere an opportunity
of showing herself so generously disposedso powerful in the influence
she exercised over his heart. The moment of the last and greatest
display had arrived. Hardly had Fouquet conducted the king towards the
chateauwhen a mass of fire burst from the dome of Vauxwith a
prodigious uproarpouring a flood of dazzling cataracts of rays on every
sideand illumining the remotest corners of the gardens. The fireworks
began. Colbertat twenty paces from the kingwho was surrounded and
_feted_ by the owner of Vauxseemedby the obstinate persistence of his
gloomy thoughtsto do his utmost to recall Louis's attentionwhich the
magnificence of the spectacle was alreadyin his opiniontoo easily
diverting. Suddenlyjust as Louis was on the point of holding it out to
Fouquethe perceived in his hand the paper whichas he believedLa
Valliere had dropped at his feet as she hurried away. The still stronger
magnet of love drew the young prince's attention towards the _souvenir_
of his idol; andby the brilliant lightwhich increased momentarily in
beautyand drew from the neighboring villages loud cheers of admiration
the king read the letterwhich he supposed was a loving and tender
epistle La Valliere had destined for him. But as he read ita deathlike
pallor stole over his faceand an expression of deep-seated wrath
illumined by the many-colored fire which gleamed so brightlysoaringly
around the sceneproduced a terrible spectaclewhich every one would
have shuddered atcould they only have read into his heartnow torn by
the most stormy and most bitter passions. There was no truce for him
nowinfluenced as he was by jealousy and mad passion. From the very
moment when the dark truth was revealed to himevery gentler feeling
seemed to disappear; pitykindness of considerationthe religion of
hospitalityall were forgotten. In the bitter pang which wrung his
hearthestill too weak to hide his sufferingswas almost on the point
of uttering a cry of alarmand calling his guards to gather round him.
This letter which Colbert had thrown down at the king's feetthe reader
has doubtlessly guessedwas the same that had disappeared with the
porter Toby at Fontainebleauafter the attempt which Fouquet had made
upon La Valliere's heart. Fouquet saw the king's pallorand was far
from guessing the evil; Colbert saw the king's angerand rejoiced
inwardly at the approach of the storm. Fouquet's voice drew the young
prince from his wrathful reverie.

What is the matter, sire?inquired the superintendentwith an
expression of graceful interest.

Louis made a violent effort over himselfas he repliedNothing.

I am afraid your majesty is suffering?

I am suffering, and have already told you so, monsieur; but it is
nothing.

And the kingwithout waiting for the termination of the fireworks


turned towards the chateau. Fouquet accompanied himand the whole court
followedleaving the remains of the fireworks consuming for their own
amusement. The superintendent endeavored again to question Louis XIV.
but did not succeed in obtaining a reply. He imagined there had been
some misunderstanding between Louis and La Valliere in the parkwhich
had resulted in a slight quarrel; and that the kingwho was not
ordinarily sulky by dispositionbut completely absorbed by his passion
for La Vallierehad taken a dislike to every one because his mistress
had shown herself offended with him. This idea was sufficient to console
him; he had even a friendly and kindly smile for the young kingwhen the
latter wished him good night. Thishoweverwas not all the king had to
submit to; he was obliged to undergo the usual ceremonywhich on that
evening was marked by close adherence to the strictest etiquette. The
next day was the one fixed for the departure; it was but proper that the
guests should thank their hostand show him a little attention in return
for the expenditure of his twelve millions. The only remarkapproaching
to amiabilitywhich the king could find to say to M. Fouquetas he took
leave of himwere in these wordsM. Fouquet, you shall hear from me.
Be good enough to desire M. d'Artagnan to come here.

But the blood of Louis XIV.who had so profoundly dissimulated his
feelingsboiled in his veins; and he was perfectly willing to order M.
Fouquet to be put an end to with the same readinessindeedas his
predecessor had caused the assassination of le Marechal d'Ancre; and so
he disguised the terrible resolution he had formed beneath one of those
royal smiles whichlike lightning-flashesindicated _coups d'etat_.
Fouquet took the king's hand and kissed it; Louis shuddered throughout
his whole framebut allowed M. Fouquet to touch his hand with his lips.
Five minutes afterwardsD'Artagnanto whom the royal order had been
communicatedentered Louis XIV.'s apartment. Aramis and Philippe were
in theirsstill eagerly attentiveand still listening with all their
ears. The king did not even give the captain of the musketeers time to
approach his armchairbut ran forward to meet him. "Take care he
exclaimed, that no one enters here."

Very good, sire,replied the captainwhose glance had for a long time
past analyzed the stormy indications on the royal countenance. He gave
the necessary order at the door; butreturning to the kinghe saidIs
there something fresh the matter, your majesty?

How many men have you here?inquired the kingwithout making any other
reply to the question addressed to him.

What for, sire?

How many men have you, I say?repeated the kingstamping upon the
ground with his foot.

I have the musketeers.

Well; and what others?

Twenty guards and thirteen Swiss.

How many men will be required to -

To do what, sire?replied the musketeeropening his largecalm eyes.

To arrest M. Fouquet.

D'Artagnan fell back a step.

To arrest M. Fouquet!he burst forth.


Are you going to tell me that it is impossible?exclaimed the kingin
tones of coldvindictive passion.

I never say that anything is impossible,replied D'Artagnanwounded to
the quick.

Very well; do it, then.

D'Artagnan turned on his heeland made his way towards the door; it was
but a short distanceand he cleared it in half a dozen paces; when he
reached it he suddenly pausedand saidYour majesty will forgive me,
but, in order to effect this arrest, I should like written directions.

For what purpose - and since when has the king's word been insufficient
for you?

Because the word of a king, when it springs from a feeling of anger, may
possibly change when the feeling changes.

A truce to set phrases, monsieur; you have another thought besides that?

Oh, I, at least, have certain thoughts and ideas, which, unfortunately,
others have not,D'Artagnan repliedimpertinently.

The kingin the tempest of his wrathhesitatedand drew back in the
face of D'Artagnan's frank couragejust as a horse crouches on his
haunches under the strong hand of a bold and experienced rider. "What is
your thought?" he exclaimed.

This, sire,replied D'Artagnan: "you cause a man to be arrested when
you are still under his roof; and passion is alone the cause of that.
When your anger shall have passedyou will regret what you have done;
and then I wish to be in a position to show you your signature. If that
howevershould fail to be a reparationit will at least show us that
the king was wrong to lose his temper."

Wrong to lose his temper!cried the kingin a loudpassionate voice.
Did not my father, my grandfathers, too, before me, lose their temper at
times, in Heaven's name?

The king your father and the king your grandfather never lost their
temper except when under the protection of their own palace.

The king is master wherever he may be.

That is a flattering, complimentary phrase which cannot proceed from any
one but M. Colbert; but it happens not to be the truth. The king is at
home in every man's house when he has driven its owner out of it.

The king bit his lipsbut said nothing.

Can it be possible?said D'Artagnan; "here is a man who is positively
ruining himself in order to please youand you wish to have him
arrested! _Mordioux!_ Sireif my name was Fouquetand people treated
me in that mannerI would swallow at a single gulp all sorts of
fireworks and other thingsand I would set fire to themand send myself
and everybody else in blown-up atoms to the sky. But it is all the same;
it is your wishand it shall be done."

Go,said the king; "but have you men enough?"

Do you suppose I am going to take a whole host to help me? Arrest M.
Fouquet! why, that is so easy that a very child might do it! It is like
drinking a glass of wormwood; one makes an ugly face, and that is all.


If he defends himself?

He! it is not at all likely. Defend himself when such extreme harshness
as you are going to practice makes the man a very martyr! Nay, I am sure
that if he has a million of francs left, which I very much doubt, he
would be willing enough to give it in order to have such a termination as
this. But what does that matter? it shall be done at once.

Stay,said the king; "do not make his arrest a public affair."

That will be more difficult.

Why so?

Because nothing is easier than to go up to M. Fouquet in the midst of a
thousand enthusiastic guests who surround him, and say, 'In the king's
name, I arrest you.' But to go up to him, to turn him first one way and
then another, to drive him up into one of the corners of the chess-board,
in such a way that he cannot escape; to take him away from his guests,
and keep him a prisoner for you, without one of them, alas! having heard
anything about it; that, indeed, is a genuine difficulty, the greatest of
all, in truth; and I hardly see how it is to be done.

You had better say it is impossible, and you will have finished much
sooner. Heaven help me, but I seem to be surrounded by people who
prevent me doing what I wish.

I do not prevent your doing anything. Have you indeed decided?

Take care of M. Fouquet, until I shall have made up my mind by to-morrow
morning.

That shall be done, sire.

And return, when I rise in the morning, for further orders; and now
leave me to myself.

You do not even want M. Colbert, then?said the musketeerfiring his
last shot as he was leaving the room. The king started. With his whole
mind fixed on the thought of revengehe had forgotten the cause and
substance of the offense.

No, no one,he said; "no one here! Leave me."

D'Artagnan quitted the room. The king closed the door with his own
handsand began to walk up and down his apartment at a furious pace
like a wounded bull in an arenatrailing from his horn the colored
streamers and the iron darts. At last he began to take comfort in the
expression of his violent feelings.

Miserable wretch that he is! not only does he squander my finances, but
with his ill-gotten plunder he corrupts secretaries, friends, generals,
artists, and all, and tries to rob me of the one to whom I am most
attached. This is the reason that perfidious girl so boldly took his
part! Gratitude! and who can tell whether it was not a stronger feeling

-love itself?He gave himself up for a moment to the bitterest
reflections. "A satyr!" he thoughtwith that abhorrent hate with which
young men regard those more advanced in lifewho still think of love.
A man who has never found opposition or resistance in any one, who
lavishes his gold and jewels in every direction, and who retains his
staff of painters in order to take the portraits of his mistresses in the
costume of goddesses.The king trembled with passion as he continued
He pollutes and profanes everything that belongs to me! He destroys

everything that is mine. He will be my death at last, I know. That man
is too much for me; he is my mortal enemy, but he shall forthwith fall!
I hate him - I hate him - I hate him!and as he pronounced these words
he struck the arm of the chair in which he was sitting violentlyover
and over againand then rose like one in an epileptic fit. "To-morrow!
to-morrow! ohhappy day!" he murmuredwhen the sun rises, no other
rival shall that brilliant king of space possess but me. That man shall
fall so low that when people look at the abject ruin my anger shall have
wrought, they will be forced to confess at last and at least that I am
indeed greater than he.The kingwho was incapable of mastering his
emotions any longerknocked over with a blow of his fist a small table
placed close to his bedsideand in the very bitterness of angeralmost
weepingand half-suffocatedhe threw himself on his beddressed as he
wasand bit the sheets in his extremity of passiontrying to find
repose of body at least there. The bed creaked beneath his weightand
with the exception of a few broken soundsemergingorone might say
explodingfrom his overburdened chestabsolute silence soon reigned in
the chamber of Morpheus.

Chapter XVII:
High Treason.

The ungovernable fury which took possession of the king at the sight and
at the perusal of Fouquet's letter to La Valliere by degrees subsided
into a feeling of pain and extreme weariness. Youthinvigorated by
health and lightness of spiritsrequiring soon that what it loses should
be immediately restored - youth knows not those endlesssleepless nights
which enable us to realize the fable of the vulture unceasingly feeding
on Prometheus. In cases where the man of middle lifein his acquired
strength of will and purposeand the oldin their state of natural
exhaustionfind incessant augmentation of their bitter sorrowa young
mansurprised by the sudden appearance of misfortuneweakens himself in
sighsand groansand tearsdirectly struggling with his griefand is
thereby far sooner overthrown by the inflexible enemy with whom he is
engaged. Once overthrownhis struggles cease. Louis could not hold out
more than a few minutesat the end of which he had ceased to clench his
handsand scorch in fancy with his looks the invisible objects of his
hatred; he soon ceased to attack with his violent imprecations not M.
Fouquet alonebut even La Valliere herself; from fury he subsided into
despairand from despair to prostration. After he had thrown himself
for a few minutes to and fro convulsively on his bedhis nerveless arms
fell quietly down; his head lay languidly on his pillow; his limbs
exhausted with excessive emotionstill trembled occasionallyagitated
by muscular contractions; while from his breast faint and infrequent
sighs still issued. Morpheusthe tutelary deity of the apartment
towards whom Louis raised his eyeswearied by his anger and reconciled
by his tearsshowered down upon him the sleep-inducing poppies with
which his hands are ever filled; so presently the monarch closed his eyes
and fell asleep. Then it seemed to himas it often happens in that
first sleepso light and gentlewhich raises the body above the couch
and the soul above the earth - it seemed to himwe sayas if the god
Morpheuspainted on the ceilinglooked at him with eyes resembling
human eyes; that something shone brightlyand moved to and fro in the
dome above the sleeper; that the crowd of terrible dreams which thronged
together in his brainand which were interrupted for a momenthalf
revealed a human facewith a hand resting against the mouthand in an
attitude of deep and absorbed meditation. And strange enoughtoothis
man bore so wonderful a resemblance to the king himselfthat Louis
fancied he was looking at his own face reflected in a mirror; with the
exceptionhoweverthat the face was saddened by a feeling of the
profoundest pity. Then it seemed to him as if the dome gradually
retiredescaping from his gazeand that the figures and attributes
painted by Lebrun became darker and darker as the distance became more


and more remote. A gentleeasy movementas regular as that by which a
vessel plunges beneath the waveshad succeeded to the immovableness of
the bed. Doubtless the king was dreamingand in this dream the crown of
goldwhich fastened the curtains togetherseemed to recede from his
visionjust as the dometo which it remained suspendedhad doneso
that the winged genius whichwith both its handsupported the crown
seemedthough vainly soto call upon the kingwho was fast
disappearing from it. The bed still sunk. Louiswith his eyes open
could not resist the deception of this cruel hallucination. At lastas
the light of the royal chamber faded away into darkness and gloom
something coldgloomyand inexplicable in its nature seemed to infect
the air. No paintingsnor goldnor velvet hangingswere visible any
longernothing but walls of a dull gray colorwhich the increasing
gloom made darker every moment. And yet the bed still continued to
descendand after a minutewhich seemed in its duration almost an age
to the kingit reached a stratum of airblack and chill as deathand
then it stopped. The king could no longer see the light in his room
except as from the bottom of a well we can see the light of day. "I am
under the influence of some atrocious dream he thought. It is time to
awaken from it. Come! let me wake."

Every one has experienced the sensation the above remark conveys; there
is hardly a person whoin the midst of a nightmare whose influence is
suffocatinghas not said to himselfby the help of that light which
still burns in the brain when every human light is extinguishedIt is
nothing but a dream, after all.This was precisely what Louis XIV. said
to himself; but when he saidCome, come! wake up,he perceived that
not only was he already awakebut still morethat he had his eyes open
also. And then he looked all round him. On his right hand and on his
left two armed men stood in stolid silenceeach wrapped in a huge cloak
and the face covered with a mask; one of them held a small lamp in his
handwhose glimmering light revealed the saddest picture a king could
look upon. Louis could not help saying to himself that his dream still
lastedand that all he had to do to cause it to disappear was to move
his arms or to say something aloud; he darted from his bedand found
himself upon the dampmoist ground. Thenaddressing himself to the man
who held the lamp in his handhe said:

What is this, monsieur, and what is the meaning of this jest?

It is no jest,replied in a deep voice the masked figure that held the
lantern.

Do you belong to M. Fouquet?inquired the kinggreatly astonished at
his situation.

It matters very little to whom we belong,said the phantom; "we are
your masters nowthat is sufficient."

The kingmore impatient than intimidatedturned to the other masked
figure. "If this is a comedy he said, you will tell M. Fouquet that I
find it unseemly and improperand that I command it should cease."

The second masked person to whom the king had addressed himself was a man
of huge stature and vast circumference. He held himself erect and
motionless as any block of marble. "Well!" added the kingstamping his
footyou do not answer!

We do not answer you, my good monsieur,said the giantin a stentorian
voicebecause there is nothing to say.

At least, tell me what you want,exclaimed Louisfolding his arms with
a passionate gesture.


You will know by and by,replied the man who held the lamp.

In the meantime tell me where I am.

Look.

Louis looked all round him; but by the light of the lamp which the masked
figure raised for the purposehe could perceive nothing but the damp
walls which glistened here and there with the slimy traces of the snail.
Oh - oh! - a dungeon,cried the king.

No, a subterranean passage.

Which leads - ?

Will you be good enough to follow us?

I shall not stir from hence!cried the king.

If you are obstinate, my dear young friend,replied the taller of the
twoI will lift you up in my arms, and roll you up in your own cloak,
and if you should happen to be stifled, why - so much the worse for you.

As he said thishe disengaged from beneath his cloak a hand of which
Milo of Crotona would have envied him the possessionon the day when he
had that unhappy idea of rending his last oak. The king dreaded
violencefor he could well believe that the two men into whose power he
had fallen had not gone so far with any idea of drawing backand that
they would consequently be ready to proceed to extremitiesif
necessary. He shook his head and said: "It seems I have fallen into the
hands of a couple of assassins. Move onthen."

Neither of the men answered a word to this remark. The one who carried
the lantern walked firstthe king followed himwhile the second masked
figure closed the procession. In this manner they passed along a winding
gallery of some lengthwith as many staircases leading out of it as are
to be found in the mysterious and gloomy palaces of Ann Radcliffe's
creation. All these windings and turningsduring which the king heard
the sound of running water _over his head_ended at last in a long
corridor closed by an iron door. The figure with the lamp opened the
door with one of the keys he wore suspended at his girdlewhereduring
the whole of the brief journeythe king had heard them rattle. As soon
as the door was opened and admitted the airLouis recognized the balmy
odors that trees exhale in hot summer nights. He pausedhesitatingly
for a moment or two; but the huge sentinel who followed him thrust him
out of the subterranean passage.

Another blow,said the kingturning towards the one who had just had
the audacity to touch his sovereign; "what do you intend to do with the
king of France?"

Try to forget that word,replied the man with the lampin a tone which
as little admitted of a reply as one of the famous decrees of Minos.

You deserve to be broken on the wheel for the words that you have just
made use of,said the giantas he extinguished the lamp his companion
handed to him; "but the king is too kind-hearted."

Louisat that threatmade so sudden a movement that it seemed as if he
meditated flight; but the giant's hand was in a moment placed on his
shoulderand fixed him motionless where he stood. "But tell meat
leastwhere we are going said the king.

Come replied the former of the two men, with a kind of respect in his


manner, and leading his prisoner towards a carriage which seemed to be in
waiting.

The carriage was completely concealed amid the trees. Two horses, with
their feet fettered, were fastened by a halter to the lower branches of a
large oak.

Get in said the same man, opening the carriage-door and letting down
the step. The king obeyed, seated himself at the back of the carriage,
the padded door of which was shut and locked immediately upon him and his
guide. As for the giant, he cut the fastenings by which the horses were
bound, harnessed them himself, and mounted on the box of the carriage,
which was unoccupied. The carriage set off immediately at a quick trot,
turned into the road to Paris, and in the forest of Senart found a relay
of horses fastened to the trees in the same manner the first horses had
been, and without a postilion. The man on the box changed the horses,
and continued to follow the road towards Paris with the same rapidity, so
that they entered the city about three o'clock in the morning. They
carriage proceeded along the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, and, after having
called out to the sentinel, By the king's order the driver conducted
the horses into the circular inclosure of the Bastile, looking out upon
the courtyard, called La Cour du Gouvernement. There the horses drew up,
reeking with sweat, at the flight of steps, and a sergeant of the guard
ran forward. Go and wake the governor said the coachman in a voice of
thunder.

With the exception of this voice, which might have been heard at the
entrance of the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, everything remained as calm in
the carriage as in the prison. Ten minutes afterwards, M. de Baisemeaux
appeared in his dressing-gown on the threshold of the door. What is the
matter now?" he asked; "and whom have you brought me there?"

The man with the lantern opened the carriage-doorand said two or three
words to the one who acted as driverwho immediately got down from his
seattook up a short musket which he kept under his feetand placed its
muzzle on his prisoner's chest.

And fire at once if he speaks!added aloud the man who alighted from
the carriage.

Very good,replied his companionwithout another remark.

With this recommendationthe person who had accompanied the king in the
carriage ascended the flight of stepsat the top of which the governor
was awaiting him. "Monsieur d'Herblay!" said the latter.

Hush!said Aramis. "Let us go into your room."

Good heavens! what brings you here at this hour?

A mistake, my dear Monsieur de Baisemeaux,Aramis repliedquietly.
It appears that you were quite right the other day.

What about?inquired the governor.

About the order of release, my dear friend.

Tell me what you mean, monsieur - no, monseigneur,said the governor
almost suffocated by surprise and terror.

It is a very simple affair: you remember, dear M. de Baisemeaux, that an
order of release was sent to you.

Yes, for Marchiali.


Very good! we both thought that it was for Marchiali?

Certainly; you will recollect, however, that I would not credit it, but
that you compelled me to believe it.

Oh! Baisemeaux, my good fellow, what a word to make use of! - strongly
recommended, that was all.

Strongly recommended, yes; strongly recommended to give him up to you;
and that you carried him off with you in your carriage.

Well, my dear Monsieur de Baisemeaux, it was a mistake; it was
discovered at the ministry, so that I now bring you an order from the
king to set at liberty Seldon, - that poor Seldon fellow, you know.

Seldon! are you sure this time?

Well, read it yourself,added Aramishanding him the order.

Why,said Baisemeauxthis order is the very same that has already
passed through my hands.

Indeed?

It is the very one I assured you I saw the other evening. _Parbleu!_ I
recognize it by the blot of ink.

I do not know whether it is that; but all I know is, that I bring it for
you.

But then, what about the other?

What other?

Marchiali.

I have got him here with me.

But that is not enough for me. I require a new order to take him back
again.

Don't talk such nonsense, my dear Baisemeaux; you talk like a child!
Where is the order you received respecting Marchiali?

Baisemeaux ran to his iron chest and took it out. Aramis seized hold of
itcoolly tore it in four piecesheld them to the lampand burnt
them. "Good heavens! what are you doing?" exclaimed Baisemeauxin an
extremity of terror.

Look at your position quietly, my good governor,said Aramiswith
imperturbable self-possessionand you will see how very simple the
whole affair is. You no longer possess any order justifying Marchiali's
release.

I am a lost man!

Far from it, my good fellow, since I have brought Marchiali back to you,
and all accordingly is just the same as if he had never left.

Ah!said the governorcompletely overcome by terror.

Plain enough, you see; and you will go and shut him up immediately.


I should think so, indeed.

And you will hand over this Seldon to me, whose liberation is authorized
by this order. Do you understand?

I - I -

You do understand, I see,said Aramis. "Very good." Baisemeaux
clapped his hands together.

But why, at all events, after having taken Marchiali away from me, do
you bring him back again?cried the unhappy governorin a paroxysm of
terrorand completely dumbfounded.

For a friend such as you are,said Aramis - "for so devoted a servant
I have no secrets;" and he put his mouth close to Baisemeaux's earas he
saidin a low tone of voiceyou know the resemblance between that
unfortunate fellow, and -

And the king? - yes!

Very good; the first use that Marchiali made of his liberty was to
persist - Can you guess what?

How is it likely I should guess?

To persist in saying that he was king of France; to dress himself up in
clothes like those of the king; and then pretend to assume that he was
the king himself.

Gracious heavens!

That is the reason why I have brought him back again, my dear friend.
He is mad and lets every one see how mad he is.

What is to be done, then?

That is very simple; let no one hold any communication with him. You
understand that when his peculiar style of madness came to the king's
ears, the king, who had pitied his terrible affliction, and saw that all
his kindness had been repaid by black ingratitude, became perfectly
furious; so that, now - and remember this very distinctly, dear Monsieur
de Baisemeaux, for it concerns you most closely - so that there is now, I
repeat, sentence of death pronounced against all those who may allow him
to communicate with any one else but me or the king himself. You
understand, Baisemeaux, sentence of death!

You need not ask me whether I understand.

And now, let us go down, and conduct this poor devil back to his dungeon
again, unless you prefer he should come up here.

What would be the good of that?

It would be better, perhaps, to enter his name in the prison-book at
once!

Of course, certainly; not a doubt of it.

In that case, have him up.

Baisemeaux ordered the drums to be beaten and the bell to be rungas a
warning to every one to retirein order to avoid meeting a prisoner
about whom it was desired to observe a certain mystery. Thenwhen the


passages were freehe went to take the prisoner from the carriageat
whose breast Porthosfaithful to the directions which had been given
himstill kept his musket leveled. "Ah! is that youmiserable wretch?"
cried the governoras soon as he perceived the king. "Very goodvery
good." And immediatelymaking the king get out of the carriagehe led
himstill accompanied by Porthoswho had not taken off his maskand
Aramiswho again resumed hisup the stairsto the second Bertaudiere
and opened the door of the room in which Philippe for six long years had
bemoaned his existence. The king entered the cell without pronouncing a
single word: he faltered in as limp and haggard as a rain-struck lily.
Baisemeaux shut the door upon himturned the key twice in the lockand
then returned to Aramis. "It is quite true he said, in a low tone,
that he bears a striking resemblance to the king; but less so than you
said."


So that,said Aramisyou would not have been deceived by the
substitution of the one for the other?


What a question!


You are a most valuable fellow, Baisemeaux,said Aramis; "and nowset
Seldon free."


Oh, yes. I was going to forget that. I will go and give orders at
once.


Bah! to-morrow will be time enough.


To-morrow! - oh, no. This very minute.


Well; go off to your affairs, I will go away to mine. But it is quite
understood, is it not?


What 'is quite understood'?


That no one is to enter the prisoner's cell, expect with an order from
the king; an order which I will myself bring.


Quite so. Adieu, monseigneur.


Aramis returned to his companion. "NowPorthosmy good fellowback
again to Vauxand as fast as possible."


A man is light and easy enough, when he has faithfully served his king;
and, in serving him, saved his country,said Porthos. "The horses will
be as light as if our tissues were constructed of the wind of heaven. So
let us be off." And the carriagelightened of a prisonerwho might
well be - as he in fact was - very heavy in the sight of Aramispassed
across the drawbridge of the Bastilewhich was raised again immediately
behind it.


Chapter XVIII:
A Night at the Bastile.


Painanguishand suffering in human life are always in proportion to
the strength with which a man is endowed. We will not pretend to say
that Heaven always apportions to a man's capability of endurance the
anguish with which he afflicts him; for thatindeedwould not be true
since Heaven permits the existence of deathwhich issometimesthe
only refuge open to those who are too closely pressed - too bitterly
afflictedas far as the body is concerned. Suffering is in proportion
to the strength which has been accorded; in other wordsthe weak suffer
morewhere the trial is the samethan the strong. And what are the



elementary principleswe may askthat compose human strength? Is it
not - more than anything else - exercisehabitexperience? We shall
not even take the trouble to demonstrate thisfor it is an axiom in
moralsas in physics. When the young kingstupefied and crushed in
every sense and feelingfound himself led to a cell in the Bastilehe
fancied death itself is but a sleep; that ittoohas its dreams as
well; that the bed had broken through the flooring of his room at Vaux;
that death had resulted from the occurrence; and thatstill carrying out
his dreamthe kingLouis XIV.now no longer livingwas dreaming one
of those horrorsimpossible to realize in lifewhich is termed
dethronementimprisonmentand insult towards a sovereign who formerly
wielded unlimited power. To be present at - an actual witnesstoo - of
this bitterness of death; to floatindecisivelyin an incomprehensible
mysterybetween resemblance and reality; to hear everythingto see
everythingwithout interfering in a single detail of agonizing
sufferingwas - so the king thought within himself - a torture far more
terriblesince it might last forever. "Is this what is termed eternity

-hell?" he murmuredat the moment the door was closed upon himwhich
we remember Baisemeaux had shut with his own hands. He did not even look
round him; and in the roomleaning with his back against the wallhe
allowed himself to be carried away by the terrible supposition that he
was already deadas he closed his eyesin order to avoid looking upon
something even worse still. "How can I have died?" he said to himself
sick with terror. "The bed might have been let down by some artificial
means? But no! I do not remember to have felt a bruisenor any shock
either. Would they not rather have poisoned me at my mealsor with the
fumes of waxas they did my ancestressJeanne d'Albret?" Suddenlythe
chill of the dungeons seemed to fall like a wet cloak upon Louis's
shoulders. "I have seen he said, my father lying dead upon his
funeral couchin his regal robes. That pale faceso calm and worn;
those handsonce so skillfullying nerveless by his side; those limbs
stiffened by the icy grasp of death; nothing there betokened a sleep that
was disturbed by dreams. And yethow numerous were the dreams which
Heaven might have sent that royal corpse - him whom so many others had
precededhurried away by him into eternal death! Nothat king was
still the king: he was enthroned still upon that funeral couchas upon a
velvet armchair; he had not abdicated one title of his majesty. Godwho
had not punished himcannotwill not punish mewho have done
nothing." A strange sound attracted the young man's attention. He
looked round himand saw on the mantel-shelfjust below an enormous
crucifixcoarsely painted in fresco on the walla rat of enormous size
engaged in nibbling a piece of dry breadbut fixing all the timean
intelligent and inquiring look upon the new occupant of the cell. The
king could not resist a sudden impulse of fear and disgust: he moved back
towards the dooruttering a loud cry; and as if he but needed this cry
which escaped from his breast almost unconsciouslyto recognize himself
Louis knew that he was alive and in full possession of his natural
senses. "A prisoner!" he cried. "I - Ia prisoner!" He looked round
him for a bell to summon some one to him. "There are no bells in the
Bastile he said, and it is in the Bastile I am imprisoned. In what
way can I have been made a prisoner? It must have been owing to a
conspiracy of M. Fouquet. I have been drawn to Vauxas to a snare. M.
Fouquet cannot be acting alone in this affair. His agent - That voice
that I but just now heard was M. d'Herblay's; I recognized it. Colbert
was rightthen. But what is Fouquet's object? To reign in my place and
stead? - Impossible. Yet who knows!" thought the kingrelapsing into
gloom again. "Perhaps my brotherthe Duc d'Orleansis doing that which
my uncle wished to do during the whole of his life against my father.
But the queen? - My mothertoo? And La Valliere? Oh! La Valliereshe
will have been abandoned to Madame. Deardear girl! Yesit is - it
must be so. They have shut her up as they have me. We are separated
forever!" And at this idea of separation the poor lover burst into a
flood of tears and sobs and groans.

There is a governor in this place,the king continuedin a fury of
passion; "I will speak to himI will summon him to me."

He called - no voice replied to his. He seized hold of his chairand
hurled it against the massive oaken door. The wood resounded against the
doorand awakened many a mournful echo in the profound depths of the
staircase; but from a human creaturenone.

This was a fresh proof for the king of the slight regard in which he was
held at the Bastile. Thereforewhen his first fit of anger had passed
awayhaving remarked a barred window through which there passed a stream
of lightlozenge-shapedwhich must behe knewthe bright orb of
approaching dayLouis began to call outat first gently enoughthen
louder and louder still; but no one replied. Twenty other attempts which
he madeone after anotherobtained no other or better success. His
blood began to boil within himand mount to his head. His nature was
suchthataccustomed to commandhe trembled at the idea of
disobedience. The prisoner broke the chairwhich was too heavy for him
to liftand made use of it as a battering ram to strike against the
door. He struck so loudlyand so repeatedlythat the perspiration soon
began to pour down his face. The sound became tremendous and continuous;
certain stifledsmothered cries replied in different directions. This
sound produced a strange effect upon the king. He paused to listen; it
was the voice of the prisonersformerly his victimsnow his
companions. The voices ascended like vapors through the thick ceilings
and the massive wallsand rose in accusations against the author of this
noiseas doubtless their sighs and tears accusedin whispered tones
the author of their captivity. After having deprived so many people of
their libertythe king came among them to rob them of their rest. This
idea almost drove him mad; it redoubled his strengthor rather his well
bent upon obtaining some informationor a conclusion to the affair.
With a portion of the broken chair he recommenced the noise. At the end
of an hourLouis heard something in the corridorbehind the door of his
celland a violent blowwhich was returned upon the door itselfmade
him cease his own.

Are you mad?said a rudebrutal voice. "What is the matter with you
this morning?"

This morning!thought the king; but he said aloudpolitelyMonsieur,
are you the governor of the Bastile?

My good fellow, your head is out of sorts,replied the voice; "but that
is no reason why you should make such a terrible disturbance. Be quiet;
_mordioux!_"

Are you the governor?the king inquired again.

He heard a door on the corridor close; the jailer had just leftnot
condescending to reply a single word. When the king had assured himself
of his departurehis fury knew no longer any bounds. As agile as a
tigerhe leaped from the table to the windowand struck the iron bars
with all his might. He broke a pane of glassthe pieces of which fell
clanking into the courtyard below. He shouted with increasing
hoarsenessThe governor, the governor!This excess lasted fully an
hourduring which time he was in a burning fever. With his hair in
disorder and matted on his foreheadhis dress torn and covered with dust
and plasterhis linen in shredsthe king never rested until his
strength was utterly exhaustedand it was not until then that he clearly
understood the pitiless thickness of the wallsthe impenetrable nature
of the cementinvincible to every influence but that of timeand that
he possessed no other weapon but despair. He leaned his forehead against
the doorand let the feverish throbbings of his heart calm by degrees;
it had seemed as if one single additional pulsation would have made it


burst.

A moment will come when the food which is given to the prisoners will be
brought to me. I shall then see some one, I shall speak to him, and get
an answer.

And the king tried to remember at what hour the first repast of the
prisoners was served at the Bastile; he was ignorant even of this
detail. The feeling of remorse at this remembrance smote him like the
thrust of a daggerthat he should have lived for five and twenty years a
kingand in the enjoyment of every happinesswithout having bestowed a
moment's thought on the misery of those who had been unjustly deprived of
their liberty. The king blushed for very shame. He felt that Heavenin
permitting this fearful humiliationdid no more than render to the man
the same torture as had been inflicted by that man upon so many others.
Nothing could be more efficacious for reawakening his mind to religious
influences than the prostration of his heart and mind and soul beneath
the feeling of such acute wretchedness. But Louis dared not even kneel
in prayer to God to entreat him to terminate his bitter trial.

Heaven is right,he said; "Heaven acts wisely. It would be cowardly to
pray to Heaven for that which I have so often refused my own fellowcreatures."


He had reached this stage of his reflectionsthat isof his agony of
mindwhen a similar noise was again heard behind his doorfollowed this
time by the sound of the key in the lockand of the bolts being
withdrawn from their staples. The king bounded forward to be nearer to
the person who was about to enterbutsuddenly reflecting that it was a
movement unworthy of a sovereignhe pausedassumed a noble and calm
expressionwhich for him was easy enoughand waited with his back
turned towards the windowin orderto some extentto conceal his
agitation from the eyes of the person who was about to enter. It was
only a jailer with a basket of provisions. The king looked at the man
with restless anxietyand waited until he spoke.

Ah!said the latteryou have broken your chair. I said you had done
so! Why, you have gone quite mad.

Monsieur,said the kingbe careful what you say; it will be a very
serious affair for you.

The jailer placed the basket on the tableand looked at his prisoner
steadily. "What do you say?" he said.

Desire the governor to come to me,added the kingin accents full of
calm and dignity.

Come, my boy,said the turnkeyyou have always been very quiet and
reasonable, but you are getting vicious, it seems, and I wish you to know
it in time. You have broken your chair, and made a great disturbance;
that is an offense punishable by imprisonment in one of the lower
dungeons. Promise me not to begin over again, and I will not say a word
about it to the governor.

I wish to see the governor,replied the kingstill governing his
passions.

He will send you off to one of the dungeons, I tell you; so take care.

I insist upon it, do you hear?

Ah! ah! your eyes are becoming wild again. Very good! I shall take
away your knife.


And the jailer did what he saidquitted the prisonerand closed the
doorleaving the king more astoundedmore wretchedmore isolated than
ever. It was uselessthough he tried itto make the same noise again
on his doorand equally useless that he threw the plates and dishes out
of the window; not a single sound was heard in recognition. Two hours
afterwards he could not be recognized as a kinga gentlemana mana
human being; he might rather be called a madmantearing the door with
his nailstrying to tear up the flooring of his celland uttering such
wild and fearful cries that the old Bastile seemed to tremble to its very
foundations for having revolted against its master. As for the governor
the jailer did not even think of disturbing him; the turnkeys and the
sentinels had reported the occurrence to himbut what was the good of
it? Were not these madmen common enough in such a prison? and were not
the walls still stronger? M. de Baisemeauxthoroughly impressed with
what Aramis had told himand in perfect conformity with the king's
orderhoped only that one thing might happen; namelythat the madman
Marchiali might be mad enough to hang himself to the canopy of his bed
or to one of the bars of the window. In factthe prisoner was anything
but a profitable investment for M. Baisemeauxand became more annoying
than agreeable to him. These complications of Seldon and Marchiali - the
complications first of setting at liberty and then imprisoning againthe
complications arising from the strong likeness in question - had at last
found a very proper _denouement_. Baisemeaux even thought he had
remarked that D'Herblay himself was not altogether dissatisfied with the
result.


And then, really,said Baisemeaux to his next in commandan ordinary
prisoner is already unhappy enough in being a prisoner; he suffers quite
enough, indeed, to induce one to hope, charitably enough, that his death
may not be far distant. With still greater reason, accordingly, when the
prisoner has gone mad, and might bite and make a terrible disturbance in
the Bastile; why, in such a case, it is not simply an act of mere charity
to wish him dead; it would be almost a good and even commendable action,
quietly to have him put out of his misery.


And the good-natured governor thereupon sat down to his late breakfast.


Chapter XIX:
The Shadow of M. Fouquet.


D'Artagnanstill confused and oppressed by the conversation he had just
had with the kingcould not resist asking himself if he were really in
possession of his sensesif he were really and truly at Vaux; if he
D'Artagnanwere really the captain of the musketeersand M. Fouquet the
owner of the chateau in which Louis XIV. was at that moment partaking of
his hospitality. These reflections were not those of a drunken man
although everything was in prodigal profusion at Vauxand the
surintendant's wines had met with a distinguished reception at the
_fete_. The Gasconhoweverwas a man of calm self-possession; and no
sooner did he touch his bright steel bladethan he knew how to adopt
morally the coldkeen weapon as his guide of action.


Well,he saidas he quitted the royal apartmentI seem now to be
mixed up historically with the destinies of the king and of the minister;
it will be written, that M. d'Artagnan, a younger son of a Gascon family,
placed his hand on the shoulder of M. Nicolas Fouquet, the surintendant
of the finances of France. My descendants, if I have any, will flatter
themselves with the distinction which this arrest will confer, just as
the members of the De Luynes family have done with regard to the estates
of the poor Marechal d'Ancre. But the thing is, how best to execute the
king's directions in a proper manner. Any man would know how to say to


M. Fouquet, 'Your sword, monsieur.' But it is not every one who would be

able to take care of M. Fouquet without others knowing anything about
it. How am I to manage, then, so that M. le surintendant pass from the
height of favor to the direst disgrace; that Vaux be turned into a
dungeon for him; that after having been steeped to his lips, as it were,
in all the perfumes and incense of Ahasuerus, he is transferred to the
gallows of Haman; in other words, of Enguerrand de Marigny?And at this
reflectionD'Artagnan's brow became clouded with perplexity. The
musketeer had certain scruples on the matterit must be admitted. To
deliver up to death (for not a doubt existed that Louis hated Fouquet
mortally) the man who had just shown himself so delightful and charming a
host in every waywas a real insult to one's conscience. "It almost
seems said D'Artagnan to himself, that if I am not a poormean
miserable fellowI should let M. Fouquet know the opinion the king has
about him. Yetif I betray my master's secretI shall be a falsehearted
treacherous knavea traitortooa crime provided for and
punishable by military laws - so much soindeedthat twenty timesin
former days when wars were rifeI have seen many a miserable fellow
strung up to a tree for doingin but a small degreewhat my scruples
counsel me to undertake upon a great scale now. NoI think that a man
of true readiness of wit ought to get out of this difficulty with more
skill than that. And nowlet us admit that I do possess a little
readiness of invention; it is not at all certainthoughforafter
having for forty years absorbed so large a quantityI shall be lucky if
there were to be a pistole's-worth left." D'Artagnan buried his head in
his handstore at his mustache in sheer vexationand addedWhat can
be the reason of M. Fouquet's disgrace? There seem to be three good
ones: the first, because M. Colbert doesn't like him; the second, because
he wished to fall in love with Mademoiselle de la Valliere; and lastly,
because the king likes M. Colbert and loves Mademoiselle de la Valliere.
Oh! he is lost! But shall I put my foot on his neck, I, of all men, when
he is falling a prey to the intrigues of a pack of women and clerks? For
shame! If he be dangerous, I will lay him low enough; if, however, he be
only persecuted, I will look on. I have come to such a decisive
determination, that neither king nor living man shall change my mind. If
Athos were here, he would do as I have done. Therefore, instead of
going, in cold blood, up to M. Fouquet, and arresting him off-hand and
shutting him up altogether, I will try and conduct myself like a man who
understands what good manners are. People will talk about it, of course;
but they shall talk well of it, I am determined.And D'Artagnan
drawing by a gesture peculiar to himself his shoulder-belt over his
shoulderwent straight off to M. Fouquetwhoafter he had taken leave
of his guestswas preparing to retire for the night and to sleep
tranquilly after the triumphs of the day. The air was still perfumedor
infectedwhichever way it may be consideredwith the odors of the
torches and the fireworks. The wax-lights were dying away in their
socketsthe flowers fell unfastened from the garlandsthe groups of
dancers and courtiers were separating in the salons. Surrounded by his
friendswho complimented him and received his flattering remarks in
returnthe surintendant half-closed his wearied eyes. He longed for
rest and quiet; he sank upon the bed of laurels which had been heaped up
for him for so many days past; it might almost have been said that he
seemed bowed beneath the weight of the new debts which he had incurred
for the purpose of giving the greatest possible honor to this _fete_.
Fouquet had just retired to his roomstill smilingbut more than halfasleep.
He could listen to nothing morehe could hardly keep his eyes
open; his bed seemed to possess a fascinating and irresistible attraction
for him. The god Morpheusthe presiding deity of the dome painted by
Lebrunhad extended his influence over the adjoining roomsand showered
down his most sleep-inducing poppies upon the master of the house.
Fouquetalmost entirely alonewas being assisted by his _valet de
chambre_ to undresswhen M. d'Artagnan appeared at the entrance of the
room. D'Artagnan had never been able to succeed in making himself common
at the court; and notwithstanding he was seen everywhere and on all
occasionshe never failed to produce an effect wherever and whenever he


made his appearance. Such is the happy privilege of certain natures
which in that respect resemble either thunder or lightning; every one
recognizes them; but their appearance never fails to arouse surprise and
astonishmentand whenever they occurthe impression is always left that
the last was the most conspicuous or most important.

What! M. d'Artagnan?said Fouquetwho had already taken his right arm
out of the sleeve of his doublet.

At your service,replied the musketeer.
Come in, my dear M. d'Artagnan.

Thank you.

Have you come to criticise the _fete?_ You are ingenious enough in your
criticisms, I know.
By no means.


Are not your men looked after properly?
In every way.

You are not comfortably lodged, perhaps?
Nothing could be better.

In that case, I have to thank you for being so amiably disposed, and I
must not fail to express my obligations to you for all your flattering
kindness.

These words were as much as to sayMy dear D'Artagnan, pray go to bed,
since you have a bed to lie down on, and let me do the same.

D'Artagnan did not seem to understand it.

Are you going to bed already?he said to the superintendent.
Yes; have you anything to say to me?


Nothing, monsieur, nothing at all. You sleep in this room, then?
Yes; as you see.


You have given a most charming _fete_ to the king.
Do you think so?


Oh! beautiful!
Is the king pleased?


Enchanted.
Did he desire you to say as much to me?


He would not choose so unworthy a messenger, monseigneur.
You do not do yourself justice, Monsieur d'Artagnan.


Is that your bed, there?
Yes; but why do you ask? Are you not satisfied with your own?



My I speak frankly to you?
Most assuredly.

Well, then, I am not.

Fouquet started; and then repliedWill you take my room, Monsieur
d'Artagnan?
What! deprive you of it, monseigneur? never!


What am I to do, then?
Allow me to share yours with you.


Fouquet looked at the musketeer fixedly. "Ah! ah!" he saidyou have
just left the king.

I have, monseigneur.

And the king wishes you to pass the night in my room?
Monseigneur -

Very well, Monsieur d'Artagnan, very well. You are the master here.
I assure you, monseigneur, that I do not wish to abuse -

Fouquet turned to his valetand saidLeave us.When the man had
lefthe said to D'ArtagnanYou have something to say to me?

I?

A man of your superior intelligence cannot have come to talk with a man
like myself, at such an hour as the present, without grave motives.

Do not interrogate me.
On the contrary. What do you want with me?


Nothing more than the pleasure of your society.


Come into the garden, then,said the superintendent suddenlyor into
the park.
No,replied the musketeerhastilyno.


Why?
The fresh air -


Come, admit at once that you arrest me,said the superintendent to the
captain.

Never!said the latter.

You intend to look after me, then?
Yes, monseigneur, I do, upon my honor.

Upon your honor - ah! that is quite another thing! So I am to be
arrested in my own house.


Do not say such a thing.

On the contrary, I will proclaim it aloud.

If you do so, I shall be compelled to request you to be silent.

Very good! Violence towards me, and in my own house, too.

We do not seem to understand one another at all. Stay a moment; there
is a chess-board there; we will have a game, if you have no objections.

Monsieur d'Artagnan, I am in disgrace, then?

Not at all; but -

I am prohibited, I suppose, from withdrawing from your sight.

I do not understand a word you are saying, monseigneur; and if you wish
me to withdraw, tell me so.

My dear Monsieur d'Artagnan, your mode of action is enough to drive me
mad; I was almost sinking for want of sleep, but you have completely
awakened me.

I shall never forgive myself, I am sure; and if you wish to reconcile me
with myself, why, go to sleep in your bed in my presence; and I shall be
delighted.

I am under surveillance, I see.

I will leave the room if you say any such thing.

You are beyond my comprehension.

Good night, monseigneur,said D'Artagnanas he pretended to withdraw.

Fouquet ran after him. "I will not lie down he said. Seriouslyand
since you refuse to treat me as a manand since you finesse with meI
will try and set you at bayas a hunter does a wild boar."

Bah!cried D'Artagnanpretending to smile.

I shall order my horses, and set off for Paris,said Fouquetsounding
the captain of the musketeers.

If that be the case, monseigneur, it is very difficult.

You will arrest me, then?

No, but I shall go along with you.

That is quite sufficient, Monsieur d'Artagnan,returned Fouquet
coldly. "It was not for nothing you acquired your reputation as a man of
intelligence and resource; but with me all this is quite superfluous.
Let us come to the point. Do me a service. Why do you arrest me? What
have I done?"

Oh! I know nothing about what you may have done; but I do not arrest
you - this evening, at least!

This evening!said Fouquetturning palebut to-morrow?

It is not to-morrow just yet, monseigneur. Who can ever answer for the
morrow?


Quick, quick, captain! let me speak to M. d'Herblay.

Alas! that is quite impossible, monseigneur. I have strict orders to
see that you hold no communication with any one.

With M. d'Herblay, captain - with your friend!

Monseigneur, is M. d'Herblay the only person with whom you ought to be
prevented holding any communication?

Fouquet coloredand then assuming an air of resignationhe said: "You
are rightmonsieur; you have taught me a lesson I ought not to have
evoked. A fallen man cannot assert his right to anythingeven from
those whose fortunes he may have made; for a still stronger reasonhe
cannot claim anything from those to whom he may never have had the
happiness of doing a service."

Monseigneur!

It is perfectly true, Monsieur d'Artagnan; you have always acted in the
most admirable manner towards me - in such a manner, indeed, as most
becomes the man who is destined to arrest me. You, at least, have never
asked me anything.

Monsieur,replied the Gascontouched by his eloquent and noble tone of
griefwill you - I ask it as a favor - pledge me your word as a man of
honor that you will not leave this room?

What is the use of it, dear Monsieur d'Artagnan, since you keep watch
and ward over me? Do you suppose I should contend against the most
valiant sword in the kingdom?

It is not that, at all, monseigneur; but that I am going to look for M.
d'Herblay, and, consequently, to leave you alone.

Fouquet uttered a cry of delight and surprise.

To look for M. d'Herblay! to leave me alone!he exclaimedclasping his
hands together.

Which is M. d'Herblay's room? The blue room is it not?

Yes, my friend, yes.

Your friend! thank you for that word, monseigneur; you confer it upon me
to-day, at least, if you have never done so before.

Ah! you have saved me.

It will take a good ten minutes to go from hence to the blue room, and
to return?said D'Artagnan.

Nearly so.

And then to wake Aramis, who sleeps very soundly, when he is asleep, I
put that down at another five minutes; making a total of fifteen minutes'
absence. And now, monseigneur, give me your word that you will not in
any way attempt to make your escape, and that when I return I shall find
you here again.

I give it, monsieur,replied Fouquetwith an expression of the warmest and
deepest gratitude.


D'Artagnan disappeared. Fouquet looked at him as he quitted the room
waited with a feverish impatience until the door was closed behind him
and as soon as it was shutflew to his keysopened two or three secret
doors concealed in various articles of furniture in the roomlooked
vainly for certain paperswhich doubtless he had left at Saint-Mande
and which he seemed to regret not having found in them; then hurriedly
seizing hold of letterscontractspaperswritingshe heaped them up
into a pilewhich he burnt in the extremest haste upon the marble hearth
of the fireplacenot even taking time to draw from the interior of it
the vases and pots of flowers with which it was filled. As soon as he
had finishedlike a man who has just escaped an imminent dangerand
whose strength abandons him as soon as the danger is pasthe sank down
completely overcomeon a couch. When D'Artagnan returnedhe found
Fouquet in the same position; the worthy musketeer had not the slightest
doubt that Fouquethaving given his wordwould not even think of
failing to keep itbut he had thought it most likely that Fouquet would
turn his (D'Artagnan's) absence to the best advantage in getting rid of
all the papersmemorandumsand contractswhich might possibly render
his positionwhich was even now serious enoughmore dangerous than
ever. And solifting up his head like a dog who has regained the scent
he perceived an odor resembling smoke he had relied on finding in the
atmosphereand having found itmade a movement of his head in token of
satisfaction. As D'Artagnan enteredFouqueton his sideraised his
headand not one of D'Artagnan's movements escaped him. And then the
looks of the two men metand they both saw that they had understood each
other without exchanging a syllable.

Well!asked Fouquetthe first to speakand M. d'Herblay?

Upon my word, monseigneur,replied D'ArtagnanM. d'Herblay must be
desperately fond of walking out at night, and composing verses by
moonlight in the park of Vaux, with some of your poets, in all
probability, for he is not in his own room.

What! not in his own room?cried Fouquetwhose last hope thus escaped
him; for unless he could ascertain in what way the bishop of Vannes could
assist himhe perfectly well knew that he could expect assistance from
no other quarter.

Or, indeed,continued D'Artagnanif he is in his own room, he has very
good reasons for not answering.

But surely you did not call him in such a manner that he could have
heard you?

You can hardly suppose, monseigneur, that having already exceeded my
orders, which forbade me leaving you a single moment - you can hardly
suppose, I say, that I should have been mad enough to rouse the whole
house and allow myself to be seen in the corridor of the bishop of
Vannes, in order that M. Colbert might state with positive certainty that
I gave you time to burn your papers.

My papers?

Of course; at least that is what I should have done in your place. When
any one opens a door for me I always avail myself of it.

Yes, yes, and I thank you, for I have availed myself of it.

And you have done perfectly right. Every man has his own peculiar
secrets with which others have nothing to do. But let us return to
Aramis, monseigneur.

Well, then, I tell you, you could not have called loud enough, or Aramis


would have heard you.

However softly any one may call Aramis, monseigneur, Aramis always hears
when he has an interest in hearing. I repeat what I said before - Aramis
was not in his own room, or Aramis had certain reasons for not
recognizing my voice, of which I am ignorant, and of which you may be
even ignorant yourself, notwithstanding your liege-man is His Greatness
the Lord Bishop of Vannes.

Fouquet drew a deep sighrose from his seattook three or four turns in
his roomand finished by seating himselfwith an expression of extreme
dejectionupon his magnificent bed with velvet hangingsand costliest
lace. D'Artagnan looked at Fouquet with feelings of the deepest and
sincerest pity.

I have seen a good many men arrested in my life,said the musketeer
sadly; "I have seen both M. de Cinq-Mars and M. de Chalais arrested
though I was very young then. I have seen M. de Conde arrested with the
princes; I have seen M. de Retz arrested; I have seen M. Broussel
arrested. Stay a momentmonseigneurit is disagreeable to have to
saybut the very one of all those whom you most resemble at this moment
was that poor fellow Broussel. You were very near doing as he did
putting your dinner napkin in your portfolioand wiping your mouth with
your papers. _Mordioux!_ Monseigneur Fouqueta man like you ought not
to be dejected in this manner. Suppose your friends saw you?"

Monsieur d'Artagnan,returned the surintendantwith a smile full of
gentlenessyou do not understand me; it is precisely because my friends
are not looking on, that I am as you see me now. I do not live, exist
even, isolated from others; I am nothing when left to myself. Understand
that throughout my whole life I have passed every moment of my time in
making friends, whom I hoped to render my stay and support. In times of
prosperity, all these cheerful, happy voices - rendered so through and by
my means - formed in my honor a concert of praise and kindly actions. In
the least disfavor, these humbler voices accompanied in harmonious
accents the murmur of my own heart. Isolation I have never yet known.
Poverty (a phantom I have sometimes beheld, clad in rags, awaiting me at
the end of my journey through life) - poverty has been the specter with
which many of my own friends have trifled for years past, which they
poetize and caress, and which has attracted me towards them. Poverty! I
accept it, acknowledge it, receive it, as a disinherited sister; for
poverty is neither solitude, nor exile, nor imprisonment. Is it likely I
shall ever be poor, with such friends as Pelisson, as La Fontaine, as
Moliere? with such a mistress as - Oh! if you knew how utterly lonely and
desolate I feel at this moment, and how you, who separate me from all I
love, seem to resemble the image of solitude, of annihilation - death
itself.

But I have already told you, Monsieur Fouquet,replied D'Artagnan
moved to the depths of his soulthat you are woefully exaggerating.
The king likes you.

No, no,said Fouquetshaking his head.

M. Colbert hates you.

M. Colbert! What does that matter to me?

He will ruin you.

Ah! I defy him to do that, for I am ruined already.

At this singular confession of the superintendentD'Artagnan cast his
glance all round the room; and although he did not open his lipsFouquet


understood him so thoroughlythat he added: "What can be done with such
wealth of substance as surrounds uswhen a man can no longer cultivate
his taste for the magnificent? Do you know what good the greater part of
the wealth and the possessions which we rich enjoyconfer upon us?
merely to disgust usby their very splendor evenwith everything which
does not equal it! Vaux! you will sayand the wonders of Vaux! What of
it? What boot these wonders? If I am ruinedhow shall I fill with
water the urns which my Naiads bear in their armsor force the air into
the lungs of my Tritons? To be rich enoughMonsieur d'Artagnana man
must be too rich."

D'Artagnan shook his head.

Oh! I know very well what you think,replied Fouquetquickly. "If
Vaux were yoursyou would sell itand would purchase an estate in the
country; an estate which should have woodsorchardsand land attached
so that the estate should be made to support its master. With forty
millions you might - "

Ten millions,interrupted D'Artagnan.

Not a million, my dear captain. No one in France is rich enough to give
two millions for Vaux, and to continue to maintain it as I have done; no
one could do it, no one would know how.

Well,said D'Artagnanin any case, a million is not abject misery.

It is not far from it, my dear monsieur. But you do not understand me.
No; I will not sell my residence at Vaux; I will give it to you, if you
like;and Fouquet accompanied these words with a movement of the
shoulders to which it would be impossible to do justice.

Give it to the king; you will make a better bargain.

The king does not require me to give it to him,said Fouquet; "he will
take it away from me with the most absolute ease and graceif it pleases
him to do so; and that is the very reason I should prefer to see it
perish. Do you knowMonsieur d'Artagnanthat if the king did not
happen to be under my roofI would take this candlego straight to the
domeand set fire to a couple of huge chests of fusees and fireworks
which are in reserve thereand would reduce my palace to ashes."

Bah!said the musketeernegligently. "At all eventsyou would not be
able to burn the gardensand that is the finest feature of the place."

And yet,resumed Fouquetthoughtfullywhat was I saying? Great
heavens! burn Vaux! destroy my palace! But Vaux is not mine; these
wonderful creations are, it is true, the property, as far as sense of
enjoyment goes, of the man who has paid for them; but as far as duration
is concerned, they belong to those who created them. Vaux belongs to
Lebrun, to Lenotre, to Pelisson, to Levau, to La Fontaine, to Moliere;
Vaux belongs to posterity, in fact. You see, Monsieur d'Artagnan, that
my very house has ceased to be my own.

That is all well and good,said D'Artagnan; "the idea is agreeable
enoughand I recognize M. Fouquet himself in it. That ideaindeed
makes me forget that poor fellow Broussel altogether; and I now fail to
recognize in you the whining complaints of that old Frondeur. If you
are ruinedmonsieurlook at the affair manfullyfor you too
_mordioux!_ belong to posterityand have no right to lessen yourself in
any way. Stay a moment; look at meI who seem to exercise in some
degree a kind of superiority over youbecause I am arresting you; fate
which distributes their different parts to the comedians of this world
accorded me a less agreeable and less advantageous part to fill than


yours has been. I am one of those who think that the parts which kings
and powerful nobles are called upon to act are infinitely of more worth
than the parts of beggars or lackeys. It is far better on the stage - on
the stageI meanof another theater than the theater of this world - it
is far better to wear a fine coat and to talk a fine languagethan to
walk the boards shod with a pair of old shoesor to get one's backbone
gently polished by a hearty dressing with a stick. In one wordyou have
been a prodigal with moneyyou have ordered and been obeyed - have been
steeped to the lips in enjoyment; while I have dragged my tether after
mehave been commanded and have obeyedand have drudged my life away.
Wellalthough I may seem of such trifling importance beside you
monseigneurI do declare to youthat the recollection of what I have
done serves me as a spurand prevents me from bowing my old head too
soon. I shall remain unto the very end a trooper; and when my turn
comesI shall fall perfectly straightall in a heapstill aliveafter
having selected my place beforehand. Do as I doMonsieur Fouquetyou
will not find yourself the worse for it; a fall happens only once in a
lifetime to men like yourselfand the chief thing isto take it
gracefully when the chance presents itself. There is a Latin proverb the
words have escaped mebut I remember the sense of it very wellfor
I have thought over it more than once - which says'The end crowns the
work!'"

Fouquet rose from his seatpassed his arm round D'Artagnan's neckand
clasped him in a close embracewhilst with the other hand he pressed his
hand. "An excellent homily he said, after a moment's pause.

A soldier'smonseigneur."

You have a regard for me, in telling me all that.

Perhaps.

Fouquet resumed his pensive attitude once moreand thena moment after
he said: "Where can M. d'Herblay be? I dare not ask you to send for him."

You would not ask me, because I would not do it, Monsieur Fouquet.
People would learn it, and Aramis, who is not mixed up with the affair,
might possibly be compromised and included in your disgrace.

I will wait here till daylight,said Fouquet.

Yes; that is best.

What shall we do when daylight comes?

I know nothing at all about it, monseigneur.

Monsieur d'Artagnan, will you do me a favor?

Most willingly.

You guard me, I remain; you are acting in the full discharge of your
duty, I suppose?

Certainly.

Very good, then; remain as close to me as my shadow if you like; and I
infinitely prefer such a shadow to any one else.

D'Artagnan bowed to the compliment.

But, forget that you are Monsieur d'Artagnan, captain of the musketeers;
forget that I am Monsieur Fouquet, surintendant of the finances; and let


us talk about my affairs.

That is rather a delicate subject.

Indeed?

Yes; but, for your sake, Monsieur Fouquet, I will do what may almost be
regarded as an impossibility.

Thank you. What did the king say to you?

Nothing.

Ah! is that the way you talk?

The deuce!

What do you think of my situation?

I do not know.

However, unless you have some ill feeling against me -

Your position is a difficult one.

In what respect?

Because you are under your own roof.

However difficult it may be, I understand it very well.

Do you suppose that, with any one else but yourself, I should have
shown so much frankness?

What! so much frankness, do you say? you, who refuse to tell me the
slightest thing?

At all events, then, so much ceremony and consideration.

Ah! I have nothing to say in that respect.

One moment, monseigneur: let me tell you how I should have behaved
towards any one but yourself. It might be that I happened to arrive at
your door just as your guests or your friends had left you - or, if they
had not gone yet, I should wait until they were leaving, and should then
catch them one after the other, like rabbits; I should lock them up
quietly enough, I should steal softly along the carpet of your corridor,
and with one hand upon you, before you suspected the slightest thing
amiss, I should keep you safely until my master's breakfast in the
morning. In this way, I should just the same have avoided all publicity,
all disturbance, all opposition; but there would also have been no
warning for M. Fouquet, no consideration for his feelings, none of those
delicate concessions which are shown by persons who are essentially
courteous in their natures, whenever the decisive moment may arrive.
Are you satisfied with the plan?

It makes me shudder.

I thought you would not like it. It would have been very disagreeable
to have made my appearance to-morrow, without any preparation, and to
have asked you to deliver up your sword.

Oh! monsieur, I should have died of shame and anger.


Your gratitude is too eloquently expressed. I have not done enough to
deserve it, I assure you.

Most certainly, monsieur, you will never get me to believe that.

Well, then, monseigneur, if you are satisfied with what I have done, and
have somewhat recovered from the shock which I prepared you for as much
as I possibly could, let us allow the few hours that remain to pass away
undisturbed. You are harassed, and should arrange your thoughts; I beg
you, therefore, go to sleep, or pretend to go to sleep, either on your
bed, or in your bed; I will sleep in this armchair; and when I fall
asleep, my rest is so sound that a cannon would not wake me.

Fouquet smiled. "I expecthowever continued the musketeer, the case
of a door being openedwhether a secret dooror any other; or the case
of any one going out ofor coming intothe room - for anything like
that my ear is as quick and sensitive as the ear of a mouse. Creaking
noises make me start. It arisesI supposefrom a natural antipathy to
anything of the kind. Move about as much as you like; walk up and down
in any part of the roomwriteeffacedestroyburn- nothing like
that will prevent me from going to sleep or even prevent me from snoring
but do not touch either the key or the handle of the doorfor I should
start up in a momentand that would shake my nerves and make me ill."

Monsieur d'Artagnan,said Fouquetyou are certainly the most witty
and the most courteous man I ever met with; and you will leave me only
one regret, that of having made your acquaintance so late.

D'Artagnan drew a deep sighwhich seemed to sayAlas! you have perhaps
made it too soon.He then settled himself in his armchairwhile
Fouquethalf lying on his bed and leaning on his armwas meditating on
his misadventures. In this wayboth of themleaving the candles
burningawaited the first dawn of the day; and when Fouquet happened to
sigh too loudlyD'Artagnan only snored the louder. Not a single visit
not even from Aramisdisturbed their quietude: not a sound even was
heard throughout the whole vast palace. Outsidehoweverthe guards of
honor on dutyand the patrol of musketeerspaced up and down; and the
sound of their feet could be heard on the gravel walks. It seemed to act
as an additional soporific for the sleeperswhile the murmuring of the
wind through the treesand the unceasing music of the fountains whose
waters tumbled in the basinstill went on uninterruptedlywithout being
disturbed at the slight noises and items of little moment that constitute
the life and death of human nature.

Chapter XX:
The Morning.

In vivid contrast to the sad and terrible destiny of the king imprisoned
in the Bastileand tearingin sheer despairthe bolts and bars of his
dungeonthe rhetoric of the chroniclers of old would not fail to
presentas a complete antithesisthe picture of Philippe lying asleep
beneath the royal canopy. We do not pretend to say that such rhetoric is
always badand always scattersin places where they have no right to
growthe flowers with which it embellishes and enlivens history. But we
shallon the present occasioncarefully avoid polishing the antithesis
in questionbut shall proceed to draw another picture as minutely as
possibleto serve as foil and counterfoil to the one in the preceding
chapter. The young prince alighted from Aramis's roomin the same way
the king had descended from the apartment dedicated to Morpheus. The
dome gradually and slowly sank down under Aramis's pressureand Philippe
stood beside the royal bedwhich had ascended again after having
deposited its prisoner in the secret depths of the subterranean passage.
Alonein the presence of all the luxury which surrounded him; alonein


the presence of his power; alonewith the part he was about to be forced
to actPhilippe for the first time felt his heartand mindand soul
expand beneath the influence of a thousand mutable emotionswhich are
the vital throbs of a king's heart. He could not help changing color
when he looked upon the empty bedstill tumbled by his brother's body.
This mute accomplice had returnedafter having completed the work it had
been destined to perform; it returned with the traces of the crime; it
spoke to the guilty author of that crimewith the frank and unreserved
language which an accomplice never fears to use in the company of his
companion in guilt; for it spoke the truth. Philippe bent over the bed
and perceived a pocket-handkerchief lying on itwhich was still damp
from the cold sweat which had poured from Louis XIV.'s face. This sweatbestained
handkerchief terrified Philippeas the gore of Abel frightened
Cain.

I am face to face with my destiny,said Philippehis eyes on fireand
his face a livid white. "Is it likely to be more terrifying than my
captivity has been sad and gloomy? Though I am compelled to follow out
at every momentthe sovereign power and authority I have usurpedshall
I cease to listen to the scruples of my heart? Yes! the king has lain on
this bed; it is indeed his head that has left its impression on this
pillow; his bitter tears that have stained this handkerchief: and yetI
hesitate to throw myself on the bedor to press in my hand the
handkerchief which is embroidered with my brother's arms. Away with such
weakness; let me imitate M. d'Herblaywho asserts that a man's action
should be always one degree above his thoughts; let me imitate M.
d'Herblaywhose thoughts are of and for himself alonewho regards
himself as a man of honorso long as he injures or betrays his enemies
only. II aloneshould have occupied this bedif Louis XIV. had not
owing to my mother's criminal abandonmentstood in my way; and this
handkerchiefembroidered with the arms of Francewould in right and
justice belong to me aloneifas M. d'Herblay observesI had been left
my royal cradle. Philippeson of Francetake your place on that bed;
Philippesole king of Franceresume the blazonry that is yours!
Philippesole heir presumptive to Louis XIII.your fathershow
yourself without pity or mercy for the usurper whoat this momenthas
not even to suffer the agony of the remorse of all that you have had to
submit to."

With these wordsPhilippenotwithstanding an instinctive repugnance of
feelingand in spite of the shudder of terror which mastered his will
threw himself on the royal bedand forced his muscles to press the still
warm place where Louis XIV. had lainwhile he buried his burning face in
the handkerchief still moistened by his brother's tears. With his head
thrown back and buried in the soft down of his pillowPhilippe perceived
above him the crown of Francesuspendedas we have statedby angels
with outspread golden wings.

A man may be ambitious of lying in a lion's denbut can hardly hope to
sleep there quietly. Philippe listened attentively to every sound; his
heart panted and throbbed at the very suspicion of approaching terror and
misfortune; but confident in his own strengthwhich was confirmed by the
force of an overpoweringly resolute determinationhe waited until some
decisive circumstance should permit him to judge for himself. He hoped
that imminent danger might be revealed to himlike those phosphoric
lights of the tempest which show the sailors the altitude of the waves
against which they have to struggle. But nothing approached. Silence
that mortal enemy of restless heartsand of ambitious mindsshrouded
in the thickness of its gloom during the remainder of the night the
future king of Francewho lay there sheltered beneath his stolen crown.
Towards the morning a shadowrather than a bodyglided into the royal
chamber; Philippe expected his approach and neither expressed nor
exhibited any surprise.


Well, M. d'Herblay?
Well, sire, all is accomplished.
How?
Exactly as we expected.
Did he resist?
Terribly! tears and entreaties.
And then?
A perfect stupor.
But at last?
Oh! at last, a complete victory, and absolute silence.
Did the governor of the Bastile suspect anything?
Nothing.
The resemblance, however -
Was the cause of the success.
But the prisoner cannot fail to explain himself. Think well of that. I


have myself been able to do as much as that, on former occasion.
I have already provided for every chance. In a few days, sooner if


necessary, we will take the captive out of his prison, and will send him
out of the country, to a place of exile so remote -
People can return from their exile, Monsieur d'Herblay.
To a place of exile so distant, I was going to say, that human strength


and the duration of human life would not be enough for his return.


Once more a cold look of intelligence passed between Aramis and the young
king.
And M. du Vallon?asked Philippe in order to change the conversation.
He will be presented to you to-day, and confidentially will congratulate


you on the danger which that conspirator has made you run.
What is to be done with him?
With M. du Vallon?
Yes; confer a dukedom on him, I suppose.
A dukedom,replied Aramissmiling in a significant manner.
Why do you laugh, Monsieur d'Herblay?
I laugh at the extreme caution of your idea.
Cautious, why so?
Your majesty is doubtless afraid that poor Porthos may possible become a


troublesome witness, and you wish to get rid of him.



What! in making him a duke?

Certainly; you would assuredly kill him, for he would die from joy, and
the secret would die with him.

Good heavens!

Yes,said Aramisphlegmatically; "I should lose a very good friend."

At this momentand in the middle of this idle conversationunder the
light tone of which the two conspirators concealed their joy and pride at
their mutual successAramis heard something which made him prick up his
ears.

What is that?said Philippe.

The dawn, sire.

Well?

Well, before you retired to bed last night, you probably decided to do
something this morning at break of day.

Yes, I told my captain of the musketeers,replied the young man
hurriedlythat I should expect him.

If you told him that, he will certainly be here, for he is a most
punctual man.

I hear a step in the vestibule.

It must be he.

Come, let us begin the attack,said the young king resolutely.

Be cautious for Heaven's sake. To begin the attack, and with
D'Artagnan, would be madness. D'Artagnan knows nothing, he has seen
nothing; he is a hundred miles from suspecting our mystery in the
slightest degree, but if he comes into this room the first this morning,
he will be sure to detect something of what has taken place, and which he
would imagine it his business to occupy himself about. Before we allow
D'Artagnan to penetrate into this room, we must air the room thoroughly,
or introduce so many people into it, that the keenest scent in the whole
kingdom may be deceived by the traces of twenty different persons.

But how can I send him away, since I have given him a rendezvous?
observed the princeimpatient to measure swords with so redoubtable an
antagonist.

I will take care of that,replied the bishopand in order to begin, I
am going to strike a blow which will completely stupefy our man.

He, too, is striking a blow, for I hear him at the door,added the
princehurriedly.

Andin facta knock at the door was heard at that moment. Aramis was
not mistaken; for it was indeed D'Artagnan who adopted that mode of
announcing himself.

We have seen how he passed the night in philosophizing with M. Fouquet
but the musketeer was very weary even of feigning to fall asleepand as
soon as earliest dawn illumined with its gloomy gleams of light the
sumptuous cornices of the superintendent's roomD'Artagnan rose from his


armchairarranged his swordbrushed his coat and hat with his sleeve
like a private soldier getting ready for inspection.

Are you going out?said Fouquet.

Yes, monseigneur. And you?

I shall remain.

You pledge your word?

Certainly.

Very good. Besides, my only reason for going out is to try and get that
reply, - you know what I mean?

That sentence, you mean -

Stay, I have something of the old Roman in me. This morning, when I got
up, I remarked that my sword had got caught in one of the _aiguillettes_,
and that my shoulder-belt had slipped quite off. That is an infallible
sign.

Of prosperity?

Yes, be sure of it; for every time that that confounded belt of mine
stuck fast to my back, it always signified a punishment from M. de
Treville, or a refusal of money by M. de Mazarin. Every time my sword
hung fast to my shoulder-belt, it always predicted some disagreeable
commission or another for me to execute, and I have had showers of them
all my life through. Every time, too, my sword danced about in its
sheath, a duel, fortunate in its result, was sure to follow: whenever it
dangled about the calves of my legs, it signified a slight wound; every
time it fell completely out of the scabbard, I was booked, and made up my
mind that I should have to remain on the field of battle, with two or
three months under surgical bandages into the bargain.

I did not know your sword kept you so well informed,said Fouquetwith
a faint smilewhich showed how he was struggling against his own
weakness. "Is your sword bewitchedor under the influence of some
imperial charm?"

Why, you must know that my sword may almost be regarded as part of my
own body. I have heard that certain men seem to have warnings given them
by feeling something the matter with their legs, or a throbbing of their
temples. With me, it is my sword that warns me. Well, it told me of
nothing this morning. But, stay a moment - look here, it has just fallen
of its own accord into the last hole of the belt. Do you know what that
is a warning of?

No.

Well, that tells me of an arrest that will have to be made this very
day.

Well,said the surintendantmore astonished than annoyed by this
franknessif there is nothing disagreeable predicted to you by your
sword, I am to conclude that it is not disagreeable for you to arrest me.

You! arrest _you!_

Of course. The warning -

Does not concern you, since you have been arrested ever since


yesterday. It is not you I shall have to arrest, be assured of that.
That is the reason why I am delighted, and also the reason why I said
that my day will be a happy one.

And with these wordspronounced with the most affectionate graciousness
of mannerthe captain took leave of Fouquet in order to wait upon the
king. He was on the point of leaving the roomwhen Fouquet said to him
One last mark of kindness.

What is it, monseigneur?

M. d'Herblay; let me see Monsieur d'Herblay.

I am going to try and get him to come to you.

D'Artagnan did not think himself so good a prophet. It was written that
the day would pass away and realize all the predictions that had been
made in the morning. He had accordingly knockedas we have seenat the
king's door. The door opened. The captain thought that it was the king
who had just opened it himself; and this supposition was not altogether
inadmissibleconsidering the state of agitation in which he had left
Louis XIV. the previous evening; but instead of his royal masterwhom he
was on the point of saluting with the greatest respecthe perceived the
longcalm features of Aramis. So extreme was his surprise that he could
hardly refrain from uttering a loud exclamation. "Aramis!" he said.

Good morning, dear D'Artagnan,replied the prelatecoldly.

You here!stammered out the musketeer.

His majesty desires you to report that he is still sleeping, after
having been greatly fatigued during the whole night.

Ah!said D'Artagnanwho could not understand how the bishop of Vannes
who had been so indifferent a favorite the previous eveninghad become
in half a dozen hours the most magnificent mushroom of fortune that had
ever sprung up in a sovereign's bedroom. In factto transmit the orders
of the king even to the mere threshold of that monarch's roomto serve
as an intermediary of Louis XIV. so as to be able to give a single order
in his name at a couple paces from himhe must have become more than
Richelieu had ever been to Louis XIII. D'Artagnan's expressive eyehalfopened
lipshis curling mustachesaid as much indeed in the plainest
language to the chief favoritewho remained calm and perfectly unmoved.

Moreover,continued the bishopyou will be good enough, monsieur le
capitaine des mousquetaires, to allow those only to pass into the king's
room this morning who have special permission. His majesty does not wish
to be disturbed just yet.

But,objected D'Artagnanalmost on the point of refusing to obey this
orderand particularly of giving unrestrained passage to the suspicions
which the king's silence had aroused - "butmonsieur l'evequehis
majesty gave me a rendezvous for this morning."

Later, later,said the king's voicefrom the bottom of the alcove; a
voice which made a cold shudder pass through the musketeer's veins. He
bowedamazedconfusedand stupefied by the smile with which Aramis
seemed to overwhelm himas soon as these words had been pronounced.

And then,continued the bishopas an answer to what you were coming
to ask the king, my dear D'Artagnan, here is an order of his majesty,
which you will be good enough to attend to forthwith, for it concerns M.
Fouquet.


D'Artagnan took the order which was held out to him. "To be set at
liberty!" he murmured. "Ah!" and he uttered a second "ah!" still more
full of intelligence than the former; for this order explained Aramis's
presence with the kingand that Aramisin order to have obtained
Fouquet's pardonmust have made considerable progress in the royal
favorand that this favor explainedin its tenorthe hardly
conceivable assurance with which M. d'Herblay issued the order in the
king's name. For D'Artagnan it was quite sufficient to have understood
something of the matter in hand to order to understand the rest. He
bowed and withdrew a couple of pacesas though he were about to leave.


I am going with you,said the bishop.


Where to?


To M. Fouquet; I wish to be a witness of his delight.


Ah! Aramis, how you puzzled me just now!said D'Artagnan again.


But you understand _now_, I suppose?


Of course I understand,he said aloud; but added in a low tone to
himselfalmost hissing the words between his teethNo, no, I do not
understand yet. But it is all the same, for here is the order for it.
And then he addedI will lead the way, monseigneur,and he conducted
Aramis to Fouquet's apartments.


Chapter XXI:
The King's Friend.


Fouquet was waiting with anxiety; he had already sent away many of his
servants and friendswhoanticipating the usual hour of his ordinary
receptionshad called at his door to inquire after him. Preserving the
utmost silence respecting the danger which hung suspended by a hair above
his headhe only asked themas he did every oneindeedwho came to
the doorwhere Aramis was. When he saw D'Artagnan returnand when he
perceived the bishop of Vannes behind himhe could hardly restrain his
delight; it was fully equal to his previous uneasiness. The mere sight
of Aramis was a complete compensation to the surintendant for the
unhappiness he had undergone in his arrest. The prelate was silent and
grave; D'Artagnan completely bewildered by such an accumulation of events.


Well, captain, so you have brought M. d'Herblay to me.


And something better still, monseigneur.


What is that?


Liberty.


I am free!


Yes; by the king's order.


Fouquet resumed his usual serenitythat he might interrogate Aramis with
a look.


Oh! yes, you can thank M. l'eveque de Vannes,pursued D'Artagnanfor
it is indeed to him that you owe the change that has taken place in the
king.


Oh!said Fouquetmore humiliated at the service than grateful at its
success.



But you,continued D'Artagnanaddressing Aramis - "youwho have
become M. Fouquet's protector and patroncan you not do something for
me?"

Anything in the wide world you like, my friend,replied the bishopin
his calmest tones.

One thing only, then, and I shall be perfectly satisfied. How on earth
did you manage to become the favorite of the king, you who have never
spoken to him more than twice in your life?

From a friend such as you are,said AramisI cannot conceal anything.

Ah! very good, tell me, then.

Very well. You think that I have seen the king only twice, whilst the
fact is I have seen him more than a hundred times; only we have kept it
very secret, that is all.And without trying to remove the color which
at this revelation made D'Artagnan's face flush scarletAramis turned
towards M. Fouquetwho was as much surprised as the musketeer.
Monseigneur,he resumedthe king desires me to inform you that he is
more than ever your friend, and that your beautiful _fete_, so generously
offered by you on his behalf, has touched him to the very heart.

And thereupon he saluted M. Fouquet with so much reverence of manner
that the latterincapable of understanding a man whose diplomacy was of
so prodigious a characterremained incapable of uttering a single
syllableand equally incapable of thought or movement. D'Artagnan
fancied he perceived that these two men had something to say to each
otherand he was about to yield to that feeling of instinctive
politeness which in such a case hurries a man towards the doorwhen he
feels his presence is an inconvenience for others; but his eager
curiosityspurred on by so many mysteriescounseled him to remain.

Aramis thereupon turned towards himand saidin a quiet toneYou will
not forget, my friend, the king's order respecting those whom he intends
to receive this morning on rising.These words were clear enoughand
the musketeer understood them; he therefore bowed to Fouquetand then to
Aramis- to the latter with a slight admixture of ironical respectand
disappeared.

No sooner had he leftthan Fouquetwhose impatience had hardly been
able to wait for that momentdarted towards the door to close itand
then returning to the bishophe saidMy dear D'Herblay, I think it now
high time you should explain all that has passed, for, in plain and
honest truth, I do not understand anything.

We will explain all that to you,said Aramissitting downand making
Fouquet sit down also. "Where shall I begin?"

With this first of all. Why does the king set me at liberty?

You ought rather to ask me what his reason was for having you arrested.

Since my arrest, I have had time to think over it, and my idea is that
it arises out of some slight feeling of jealousy. My _fete_ put M.
Colbert out of temper, and M. Colbert discovered some cause of complaint
against me; Belle-Isle, for instance.

No; there is no question at all just now of Belle-Isle.

What is it, then?


Do you remember those receipts for thirteen millions which M. de Mazarin
contrived to steal from you?

Yes, of course!

Well, you are pronounced a public robber.

Good heavens!

Oh! that is not all. Do you also remember that letter you wrote to La
Valliere?

Alas! yes.

And that proclaims you a traitor and a suborner.

Why should he have pardoned me, then?

We have not yet arrived at that part of our argument. I wish you to be
quite convinced of the fact itself. Observe this well: the king knows
you to be guilty of an appropriation of public funds. Oh! of course _I_
know that you have done nothing of the kind; but, at all events, the king
has seen the receipts, and he can do no other than believe you are
incriminated.

I beg your pardon, I do not see -

You will see presently, though. The king, moreover, having read your
love-letter to La Valliere, and the offers you there made her, cannot
retain any doubt of your intentions with regard to that young lady; you
will admit that, I suppose?

Certainly. Pray conclude.

In the fewest words. The king, we may henceforth assume, is your
powerful, implacable, and eternal enemy.

Agreed. But am I, then, so powerful, that he has not dared to sacrifice
me, notwithstanding his hatred, with all the means which my weakness, or
my misfortunes, may have given him as a hold upon me?

It is clear, beyond all doubt,pursued Aramiscoldlythat the king
has quarreled with you - irreconcilably.

But, since he has absolved me -

Do you believe it likely?asked the bishopwith a searching look.

Without believing in his sincerity, I believe it in the accomplished
fact.

Aramis slightly shrugged his shoulders.

But why, then, should Louis XIV. have commissioned you to tell me what
you have just stated?

The king charged me with no message for you.

With nothing!said the superintendentstupefied. "Butthat order - "

Oh! yes. You are quite right. There _is_ an order, certainly;and
these words were pronounced by Aramis in so strange a tonethat Fouquet
could not resist starting.


You are concealing something from me, I see. What is it?
Aramis softly rubbed his white fingers over his chinbut said nothing.


Does the king exile me?


Do not act as if you were playing at the game children play at when they
have to try and guess where a thing has been hidden, and are informed, by
a bell being rung, when they are approaching near to it, or going away
from it.

Speak, then.

Guess.
You alarm me.


Bah! that is because you have not guessed, then.


What did the king say to you? In the name of our friendship, do not
deceive me.
The king has not said one word to me.


You are killing me with impatience, D'Herblay. Am I still
superintendent?

As long as you like.

But what extraordinary empire have you so suddenly acquired over his
majesty's mind?

Ah! that's the point.
He does your bidding?


I believe so.
It is hardly credible.


So any one would say.


D'Herblay, by our alliance, by our friendship, by everything you hold
dearest in the world, speak openly, I implore you. By what means have
you succeeded in overcoming Louis XIV.'s prejudices, for he did not like
you, I am certain.

The king will like me _now_,said Aramislaying stress upon the last
word.

You have something particular, then, between you?

Yes.
A secret, perhaps?


A secret.
A secret of such a nature as to change his majesty's interests?


You are, indeed, a man of superior intelligence, monseigneur, and have
made a particularly accurate guess. I have, in fact, discovered a
secret, of a nature to change the interests of the king of France.


Ah!said Fouquetwith the reserve of a man who does not wish to ask
any more questions.

And you shall judge of it yourself,pursued Aramis; "and you shall tell
me if I am mistaken with regard to the importance of this secret."

I am listening, since you are good enough to unbosom yourself to me;
only do not forget that I have asked you about nothing which it may be
indiscreet in you to communicate.

Aramis seemedfor a momentas if he were collecting himself.

Do not speak!said Fouquet: "there is still time enough."

Do you remember,said the bishopcasting down his eyesthe birth of
Louis XIV.?

As if it were yesterday.

Have you ever heard anything particular respecting his birth?

Nothing; except that the king was not really the son of Louis XIII.

That does not matter to us, or the kingdom either; he is the son of his
father, says the French law, whose father is recognized by law.

True; but it is a grave matter, when the quality of races is called into
question.

A merely secondary question, after all. So that, in fact, you have
never learned or heard anything in particular?

Nothing.

That is where my secret begins. The queen, you must know, instead of
being delivered of a son, was delivered of twins.

Fouquet looked up suddenly as he replied:

And the second is dead?

You will see. These twins seemed likely to be regarded as the pride of
their mother, and the hope of France; but the weak nature of the king,
his superstitious feelings, made him apprehend a series of conflicts
between two children whose rights were equal; so he put out of the way he
suppressed - one of the twins.

Suppressed, do you say?

Have patience. Both the children grew up; the one on the throne, whose
minister you are - the other, who is my friend, in gloom and isolation.

Good heavens! What are you saying, Monsieur d'Herblay? And what is
this poor prince doing?

Ask me, rather, what has he done.

Yes, yes.

He was brought up in the country, and then thrown into a fortress which
goes by the name of the Bastile.

Is it possible?cried the surintendantclasping his hands.


The one was the most fortunate of men: the other the most unhappy and
miserable of all living beings.

Does his mother not know this?

Anne of Austria knows it all.

And the king?

Knows absolutely nothing.

So much the better,said Fouquet.

This remark seemed to make a great impression on Aramis; he looked at
Fouquet with the most anxious expression of countenance.

I beg your pardon; I interrupted you,said Fouquet.

I was saying,resumed Aramisthat this poor prince was the unhappiest
of human beings, when Heaven, whose thoughts are over all His creatures,
undertook to come to his assistance.

Oh! in what way? Tell me.

You will see. The reigning king - I say the reigning king - you can
guess very well why?

No. Why?

Because _both_ of them, being legitimate princes, ought to have been
kings. Is not that your opinion?

It is, certainly.

Unreservedly?

Most unreservedly; twins are one person in two bodies.

I am pleased that a legist of your learning and authority should have
pronounced such an opinion. It is agreed, then, that each of them
possessed equal rights, is it not?

Incontestably! but, gracious heavens, what an extraordinary
circumstance!

We are not at the end of it yet. - Patience.

Oh! I shall find 'patience' enough.

Heaven wished to raise up for that oppressed child an avenger, or a
supporter, or vindicator, if you prefer it. It happened that the
reigning king, the usurper - you are quite of my opinion, I believe, that
it is an act of usurpation quietly to enjoy, and selfishly to assume the
right over, an inheritance to which a man has only half a right?

Yes, usurpation is the word.

In that case, I continue. It was Heaven's will that the usurper should
possess, in the person of his first minister, a man of great talent, of
large and generous nature.

Well, well,said FouquetI understand you; you have relied upon me to
repair the wrong which has been done to this unhappy brother of Louis

XIV. You have thought well; I will help you. I thank you, D'Herblay, I

thank you.

Oh, no, it is not that at all; you have not allowed me to finish,said
Aramisperfectly unmoved.

I will not say another word, then.

M. Fouquet, I was observing, the minister of the reigning sovereign, was
suddenly taken into the greatest aversion, and menaced with the ruin of
his fortune, loss of liberty, loss of life even, by intrigue and personal
hatred, to which the king gave too readily an attentive ear. But Heaven
permits (still, however, out of consideration for the unhappy prince who
had been sacrificed) that M. Fouquet should in his turn have a devoted
friend who knew this state secret, and felt that he possessed strength
and courage enough to divulge this secret, after having had the strength
to carry it locked up in his own heart for twenty years.

Go no farther said Fouquet, full of generous feelings. I understand
youand can guess everything now. You went to see the king when the
intelligence of my arrest reached you; you implored himhe refused to
listen to you; then you threatened him with that secretthreatened to
reveal itand Louis XIV.alarmed at the risk of its betrayalgranted
to the terror of your indiscretion what he refused to your generous
intercession. I understandI understand; you have the king in your
power; I understand."

You understand _nothing_ - as yet,replied Aramisand again you
interrupt me. Then, too, allow me to observe that you pay no attention
to logical reasoning, and seem to forget what you ought most to remember.

What do you mean?

You know upon what I laid the greatest stress at the beginning of our
conversation?

Yes, his majesty's hate, invincible hate for me; yes, but what feeling
of hate could resist the threat of such a revelation?

Such a revelation, do you say? that is the very point where your logic
fails you. What! do you suppose that if I had made such a revelation to
the king, I should have been alive now?

It is not ten minutes ago that you were with the king.

That may be. He might not have had the time to get me killed outright,
but he would have had the time to get me gagged and thrown in a dungeon.
Come, come, show a little consistency in your reasoning, _mordieu!_

And by the mere use of this wordwhich was so thoroughly his old
musketeer's expressionforgotten by one who never seemed to forget
anythingFouquet could not but understand to what a pitch of exaltation
the calmimpenetrable bishop of Vannes had wrought himself. He
shuddered.

And then,replied the latterafter having mastered his feelings
should I be the man I really am, should I be the true friend you believe
me, if I were to expose you, whom the king already hates so bitterly, to
a feeling more than ever to be dreaded in that young man? To have robbed
him, is nothing; to have addressed the woman he loves, is not much; but
to hold in your keeping both his crown and his honor, why, he would pluck
out your heart with his own hands.

You have not allowed him to penetrate your secret, then?


I would sooner, far sooner, have swallowed at one draught all the
poisons that Mithridates drank in twenty years, in order to try and avoid
death, than have betrayed my secret to the king.

What have you done, then?

Ah! now we are coming to the point, monseigneur. I think I shall not
fail to excite in you a little interest. You are listening, I hope.

How can you ask me if I am listening? Go on.

Aramis walked softly all round the roomsatisfied himself that they were
aloneand that all was silentand then returned and placed himself
close to the armchair in which Fouquet was seatedawaiting with the
deepest anxiety the revelation he had to make.

I forgot to tell you,resumed Aramisaddressing himself to Fouquet
who listened to him with the most absorbed attention - "I forgot to
mention a most remarkable circumstance respecting these twinsnamely
that God had formed them so startlinglyso miraculouslylike each
otherthat it would be utterly impossible to distinguish the one from
the other. Their own mother would not be able to distinguish them."

Is it possible?exclaimed Fouquet.

The same noble character in their features, the same carriage, the same
stature, the same voice.

But their thoughts? degree of intelligence? their knowledge of human
life?

There is inequality there, I admit, monseigneur. Yes; for the prisoner
of the Bastile is, most incontestably, superior in every way to his
brother; and if, from his prison, this unhappy victim were to pass to the
throne, France would not, from the earliest period of its history,
perhaps, have had a master more powerful in genius and nobility of
character.

Fouquet buried his face in his handsas if he were overwhelmed by the
weight of this immense secret. Aramis approached him.

There is a further inequality,he saidcontinuing his work of
temptationan inequality which concerns yourself, monseigneur, between
the twins, both sons of Louis XIII., namely, the last comer does not know

M. Colbert.
Fouquet raised his head immediately - his features were pale and
distorted. The bolt had hit its mark - not his heartbut his mind and
comprehension.

I understand you,he said to Aramis; "you are proposing a conspiracy to
me?"

Something like it.

One of those attempts which, as you said at the beginning of this
conversation, alters the fate of empires?

And of superintendents, too; yes, monseigneur.

In a word, you propose that I should agree to the substitution of the
son of Louis XIII., who is now a prisoner in the Bastile, for the son of
Louis XIII., who is at this moment asleep in the Chamber of Morpheus?


Aramis smiled with the sinister expression of the sinister thought which
was passing through his brain. "Exactly he said.

Have you thought continued Fouquet, becoming animated with that
strength of talent which in a few seconds originates, and matures the
conception of a plan, and with that largeness of view which foresees all
consequences, and embraces every result at a glance - have you thought
that we must assemble the nobilitythe clergyand the third estate of
the realm; that we shall have to depose the reigning sovereignto
disturb by so frightful a scandal the tomb of their dead fatherto
sacrifice the lifethe honor of a womanAnne of Austriathe life and
peace of mind and heart of another womanMaria Theresa; and suppose that
it were all doneif we were to succeed in doing it - "

I do not understand you,continued Aramiscoldly. "There is not a
single syllable of sense in all you have just said."

What!said the superintendentsurpriseda man like you refuse to
view the practical bearing of the case! Do you confine yourself to the
childish delight of a political illusion, and neglect the chances of its
being carried into execution; in other words, the reality itself, is it
possible?

My friend,said Aramisemphasizing the word with a kind of disdainful
familiaritywhat does Heaven do in order to substitute one king for
another?

Heaven!exclaimed Fouquet - "Heaven gives directions to its agentwho
seizes upon the doomed victimhurries him awayand seats the triumphant
rival on the empty throne. But you forget that this agent is called
death. Oh! Monsieur d'Herblayin Heaven's nametell me if you have
had the idea - "

There is no question of that, monseigneur; you are going beyond the
object in view. Who spoke of Louis XIV.'s death? who spoke of adopting
the example which Heaven sets in following out the strict execution of
its decrees? No, I wish you to understand that Heaven effects its
purposes without confusion or disturbance, without exciting comment or
remark, without difficulty or exertion; and that men, inspired by Heaven,
succeed like Heaven itself, in all their undertakings, in all they
attempt, in all they do.

What do you mean?

I mean, my _friend_,returned Aramiswith the same intonation on the
word friend that he had applied to it the first time - "I mean that if
there has been any confusionscandaland even effort in the
substitution of the prisoner for the kingI defy you to prove it."

What!cried Fouquetwhiter than the handkerchief with which he wiped
his templeswhat do you say?

Go to the king's apartment,continued Aramistranquillyand you who
know the mystery, I defy even you to perceive that the prisoner of the
Bastile is lying in his brother's bed.

But the king,stammered Fouquetseized with horror at the intelligence.

What king?said Aramisin his gentlest tone; "the one who hates you
or the one who likes you?"

The king - of - _yesterday_.

The king of yesterday! be quite easy on that score; he has gone to take


the place in the Bastile which his victim occupied for so many years.

Great God! And who took him there?

I.

You?

Yes, and in the simplest way. I carried him away last night. While he
was descending into midnight, the other was ascending into day. I do not
think there has been any disturbance whatever. A flash of lightning
without thunder awakens nobody.

Fouquet uttered a thicksmothered cryas if he had been struck by some
invisible blowand clasping his head between his clenched handshe
murmured: "You did that?"

Cleverly enough, too; what do you think of it?

You dethroned the king? imprisoned him, too?

Yes, that has been done.

And such an action was committed _here_, at Vaux?

Yes, here, at Vaux, in the Chamber of Morpheus. It would almost seem
that it had been built in anticipation of such an act.

And at what time did it occur?

Last night, between twelve and one o'clock.

Fouquet made a movement as if he were on the point of springing upon
Aramis; he restrained himself. "At Vaux; under my roof!" he saidin a
half-strangled voice.

I believe so! for it is still your house, and it is likely to continue
so, since M. Colbert cannot rob you of it now.

It was under my roof, then, monsieur, that you committed this crime?

This crime?said Aramisstupefied.

This abominable crime!pursued Fouquetbecoming more and more excited;
this crime more execrable than an assassination! this crime which
dishonors my name forever, and entails upon me the horror of posterity.

You are not in your senses, monsieur,replied Aramisin an irresolute
tone of voice; "you are speaking too loudly; take care!"

I will call out so loudly, that the whole world shall hear me.

Monsieur Fouquet, take care!

Fouquet turned round towards the prelatewhom he looked at full in the
face. "You have dishonored me he said, in committing so foul an act
of treasonso heinous a crime upon my guestupon one who was peacefully
reposing beneath my roof. Oh! woewoe is me!"

Woe to the man, rather, who beneath your roof meditated the ruin of your
fortune, your life. Do you forget that?

He was my guest, my sovereign.


Aramis rosehis eyes literally bloodshothis mouth trembling
convulsively. "Have I a man out of his senses to deal with?" he said.

You have an honorable man to deal with.

You are mad.

A man who will prevent you consummating your crime.

You are mad, I say.

A man who would sooner, oh! far sooner, die; who would kill you even,
rather than allow you to complete his dishonor.

And Fouquet snatched up his swordwhich D'Artagnan had placed at the
head of his bedand clenched it resolutely in his hand. Aramis frowned
and thrust his hand into his breast as if in search of a weapon. This
movement did not escape Fouquetwhofull of nobleness and pride in his
magnanimitythrew his sword to a distance from himand approached
Aramis so close as to touch his shoulder with his disarmed hand.
Monsieur,he saidI would sooner die here on the spot than survive
this terrible disgrace; and if you have any pity left for me, I entreat
you to take my life.

Aramis remained silent and motionless.

You do not reply?said Fouquet.

Aramis raised his head gentlyand a glimmer of hope might be seen once
more to animate his eyes. "Reflectmonseigneur he said, upon
everything we have to expect. As the matter now standsthe king is
still aliveand his imprisonment saves your life."

Yes,replied Fouquetyou may have been acting on my behalf, but I
will not, do not, accept your services. But, first of all, I do not wish
your ruin. You will leave this house.

Aramis stifled the exclamation which almost escaped his broken heart.

I am hospitable towards all who are dwellers beneath my roof,continued
Fouquetwith an air of inexpressible majesty; "you will not be more
fatally lost than he whose ruin you have consummated."

You will be so,said Aramisin a hoarseprophetic voiceyou will be
so, believe me.

I accept the augury, Monsieur d'Herblay; but nothing shall prevent me,
nothing shall stop me. You will leave Vaux - you must leave France; I
give you four hours to place yourself out of the king's reach.

Four hours?said Aramisscornfully and incredulously.

Upon the word of Fouquet, no one shall follow you before the expiration
of that time. You will therefore have four hours' advance of those whom
the king may wish to dispatch after you.

Four hours!" repeated Aramisin a thicksmothered voice.

It is more than you will need to get on board a vessel and flee to Belle-
Isle, which I give you as a place of refuge.

Ah!murmured Aramis.

Belle-Isle is as much mine for you, as Vaux is mine for the king. Go,


D'Herblay, go! as long as I live, not a hair of your head shall be
injured.

Thank you,said Aramiswith a cold irony of manner.

Go at once, then, and give me your hand, before we both hasten away; you
to save your life, I to save my honor.

Aramis withdrew from his breast the hand he had concealed there; it was
stained with his blood. He had dug his nails into his fleshas if in
punishment for having nursed so many projectsmore vaininsensateand
fleeting than the life of the man himself. Fouquet was horror-stricken
and then his heart smote him with pity. He threw open his arms as if to
embrace him.

I had no arms,murmured Aramisas wild and terrible in his wrath as
the shade of Dido. And thenwithout touching Fouquet's handhe turned
his head asideand stepped back a pace or two. His last word was an
imprecationhis last gesture a cursewhich his blood-stained hand
seemed to invokeas it sprinkled on Fouquet's face a few drops of blood
which flowed from his breast. And both of them darted out of the room by
the secret staircase which led down to the inner courtyard. Fouquet
ordered his best horseswhile Aramis paused at the foot of the staircase
which led to Porthos's apartment. He reflected profoundly and for some
timewhile Fouquet's carriage left the courtyard at full gallop.

Shall I go alone?said Aramis to himselfor warn the prince? Oh!
fury! Warn the prince, and then - do what? Take him with me? To carry
this accusing witness about with me everywhere? War, too, would follow civil
war, implacable in its nature! And without any resource save
myself - it is impossible! What could he do without me? Oh! without me
he will be utterly destroyed. Yet who knows - let destiny be fulfilled condemned
he was, let him remain so then! Good or evil Spirit - gloomy
and scornful Power, whom men call the genius of humanity, thou art a
power more restlessly uncertain, more baselessly useless, than wild
mountain wind! Chance, thou term'st thyself, but thou art nothing; thou
inflamest everything with thy breath, crumblest mountains at thy
approach, and suddenly art thyself destroyed at the presence of the Cross
of dead wood behind which stand another Power invisible like thyself whom
thou deniest, perhaps, but whose avenging hand is on thee, and hurls
thee in the dust dishonored and unnamed! Lost! - I am lost! What can be
done? Flee to Belle-Isle? Yes, and leave Porthos behind me, to talk and
relate the whole affair to every one! Porthos, too, who will have to
suffer for what he has done. I will not let poor Porthos suffer. He
seems like one of the members of my own frame; and his grief or
misfortune would be mine as well. Porthos shall leave with me, and shall
follow my destiny. It must be so.

And Aramisapprehensive of meeting any one to whom his hurried movements
might appear suspiciousascended the staircase without being perceived.
Porthosso recently returned from Pariswas already in a profound
sleep; his huge body forgot its fatigueas his mind forgot its
thoughts. Aramis enteredlight as a shadowand placed his nervous
grasp on the giant's shoulder. "ComePorthos he cried, come."

Porthos obeyedrose from his bedopened his eyeseven before his
intelligence seemed to be aroused.

We leave immediately,said Aramis.

Ah!returned Porthos.

We shall go mounted, and faster than we have ever gone in our lives.


Ah!repeated Porthos.
Dress yourself, my friend.

And he helped the giant to dress himselfand thrust his gold and
diamonds into his pocket. Whilst he was thus engageda slight noise
attracted his attentionand on looking uphe saw D'Artagnan watching
them through the half-opened door. Aramis started.

What the devil are you doing there in such an agitated manner?said the
musketeer.

Hush!said Porthos.
We are going off on a mission of great importance,added the bishop.


You are very fortunate,said the musketeer.


Oh, dear me!said PorthosI feel so wearied; I would far sooner have
been fast asleep. But the service of the king....

Have you seen M. Fouquet?said Aramis to D'Artagnan.
Yes, this very minute, in a carriage.

What did he say to you?
'Adieu;' nothing more.

Was that all?

What else do you think he could say? Am I worth anything now, since you
have got into such high favor?

Listen,said Aramisembracing the musketeer; "your good times are
returning again. You will have no occasion to be jealous of any one."

Ah! bah!

I predict that something will happen to you to-day which will increase
your importance more than ever.
Really?


You know that I know all the news?
Oh, yes!


Come, Porthos, are you ready? Let us go.
I am quite ready, Aramis.


Let us embrace D'Artagnan first.
Most certainly.


But the horses?
Oh! there is no want of them here. Will you have mine?


No; Porthos has his own stud. So adieu! adieu!


The fugitives mounted their horses beneath the very eyes of the captain
of the musketeerswho held Porthos's stirrup for himand gazed after


them until they were out of sight.


On any other occasion,thought the GasconI should say that those
gentlemen were making their escape; but in these days politics seem so
changed that such an exit is termed going on a mission. I have no
objection; let me attend to my own affairs, that is more than enough for
_me_,- and he philosophically entered his apartments.


Chapter XXII:
Showing How the Countersign Was Respected at the Bastile.


Fouquet tore along as fast as his horses could drag him. On his way he
trembled with horror at the idea of what had just been revealed to him.


What must have been,he thoughtthe youth of those extraordinary men,
who, even as age is stealing fast upon them, are still able to conceive
such gigantic plans, and carry them through without a tremor?


At one moment he could not resist the idea that all Aramis had just been
recounting to him was nothing more than a dreamand whether the fable
itself was not the snare; so that when Fouquet arrived at the Bastilehe
might possibly find an order of arrestwhich would send him to join the
dethroned king. Strongly impressed with this ideahe gave certain
sealed orders on his routewhile fresh horses were being harnessed to
his carriage. These orders were addressed to M. d'Artagnan and to
certain others whose fidelity to the king was far above suspicion.


In this way,said Fouquet to himselfprisoner or not, I shall have
performed the duty that I owe my honor. The orders will not reach them
until after my return, if I should return free, and consequently they
will not have been unsealed. I shall take them back again. If I am
delayed; it will be because some misfortune will have befallen me; and in
that case assistance will be sent for me as well as for the king.


Prepared in this mannerthe superintendent arrived at the Bastile; he
had traveled at the rate of five leagues and a half the hour. Every
circumstance of delay which Aramis had escaped in his visit to the
Bastile befell Fouquet. It was useless giving his nameequally useless
his being recognized; he could not succeed in obtaining an entrance. By
dint of entreatiesthreatscommandshe succeeded in inducing a
sentinel to speak to one of the subalternswho went and told the major.
As for the governor they did not even dare disturb him. Fouquet sat in
his carriageat the outer gate of the fortresschafing with rage and
impatienceawaiting the return of the officerswho at last re-appeared
with a sufficiently sulky air.


Well,said Fouquetimpatientlywhat did the major say?


Well, monsieur,replied the soldierthe major laughed in my face. He
told me that M. Fouquet was at Vaux, and that even were he at Paris, M.
Fouquet would not get up at so early an hour as the present.


_Mordieu!_ you are an absolute set of fools,cried the minister
darting out of the carriage; and before the subaltern had time to shut
the gateFouquet sprang through itand ran forward in spite of the
soldierwho cried out for assistance. Fouquet gained groundregardless
of the cries of the manwhohoweverhaving at last come up with
Fouquetcalled out to the sentinel of the second gateLook out, look
out, sentinel!The man crossed his pike before the minister; but the
latterrobust and activeand hurried awaytooby his passionwrested
the pike from the soldier and struck him a violent blow on the shoulder
with it. The subalternwho approached too closelyreceived a share of
the blows as well. Both of them uttered loud and furious criesat the



sound of which the whole of the first body of the advanced guard poured
out of the guardhouse. Among them there was onehoweverwho recognized
the superintendentand who calledMonseigneur, ah! monseigneur. Stop,
stop, you fellows!And he effectually checked the soldierswho were on
the point of revenging their companions. Fouquet desired them to open
the gatebut they refused to do so without the countersign; he desired
them to inform the governor of his presence; but the latter had already
heard the disturbance at the gate. He ran forwardfollowed by his
majorand accompanied by a picket of twenty menpersuaded that an
attack was being made on the Bastile. Baisemeaux also recognized Fouquet
immediatelyand dropped the sword he bravely had been brandishing.

Ah! monseigneur,he stammeredhow can I excuse -

Monsieur,said the superintendentflushed with angerand heated by
his exertionsI congratulate you. Your watch and ward are admirably
kept.

Baisemeaux turned palethinking that this remark was made ironically
and portended a furious burst of anger. But Fouquet had recovered his
breathandbeckoning the sentinel and the subalternwho were rubbing
their shoulderstowards himhe saidThere are twenty pistoles for the
sentinel, and fifty for the officer. Pray receive my compliments,
gentlemen. I will not fail to speak to his majesty about you. And now,

M. Baisemeaux, a word with you.
And he followed the governor to his official residenceaccompanied by a
murmur of general satisfaction. Baisemeaux was already trembling with
shame and uneasiness. Aramis's early visitfrom that momentseemed to
possess consequenceswhich a functionary such as he (Baisemeaux) was
was perfectly justified in apprehending. It was quite another thing
howeverwhen Fouquet in a sharp tone of voiceand with an imperious
looksaidYou have seen M. d'Herblay this morning?

Yes, monseigneur.

And are you not horrified at the crime of which you have made yourself
an accomplice?

Well,thought Baisemeauxgood so far;and then he addedaloudBut
what crime, monseigneur, do you allude to?

That for which you can be quartered alive, monsieur - do not forget
that! But this is not a time to show anger. Conduct me immediately to
the prisoner.

To what prisoner?said Baisemeauxtrembling.

You pretend to be ignorant? Very good - it is the best plan for you,
perhaps; for if, in fact, you were to admit your participation in such a
crime, it would be all over with you. I wish, therefore, to seem to
believe in your assumption of ignorance.

I entreat you, monseigneur -

That will do. Lead me to the prisoner.

To Marchiali?

Who is Marchiali?

The prisoner who was brought back this morning by M. d'Herblay.

He is called Marchiali?said the superintendenthis conviction


somewhat shaken by Baisemeaux's cool manner.
Yes, monseigneur; that is the name under which he was inscribed here.


Fouquet looked steadily at Baisemeauxas if he would read his very
heart; and perceivedwith that clear-sightedness most men possess who
are accustomed to the exercise of powerthat the man was speaking with
perfect sincerity. Besidesin observing his face for a few momentshe
could not believe that Aramis would have chosen such a confidant.

It is the prisoner,said the superintendent to himwhom M. d'Herblay
carried away the day before yesterday?

Yes, monseigneur.

And whom he brought back this morning?added Fouquetquickly: for he
understood immediately the mechanism of Aramis's plan.
Precisely, monseigneur.


And his name is Marchiali, you say?


Yes, Marchiali. If monseigneur has come here to remove him, so much the
better, for I was going to write about him.

What has he done, then?

Ever since this morning he has annoyed me extremely. He has had such
terrible fits of passion, as almost to make me believe that he would
bring the Bastile itself down about our ears.

I will soon relieve you of his possession,said Fouquet.

Ah! so much the better.
Conduct me to his prison.

Will monseigneur give me the order?
What order?

An order from the king.
Wait until I sign you one.

That will not be sufficient, monseigneur. I must have an order from the
king.

Fouquet assumed an irritated expression. "As you are so scrupulous he
said, with regard to allowing prisoners to leaveshow me the order by
which this one was set at liberty."

Baisemeaux showed him the order to release Seldon.
Very good,said Fouquet; "but Seldon is not Marchiali."


But Marchiali is not at liberty, monseigneur; he is here.


But you said that M. d'Herblay carried him away and brought him back
again.

I did not say so.
So surely did you say it, that I almost seem to hear it now.



It was a slip of my tongue, then, monseigneur.

Take care, M. Baisemeaux, take care.

I have nothing to fear, monseigneur; I am acting according to the very
strictest regulation.

Do you dare to say so?

I would say so in the presence of one of the apostles. M. d'Herblay
brought me an order to set Seldon at liberty. Seldon is free.

I tell you that Marchiali has left the Bastile.

You must prove that, monseigneur.

Let me see him.

You, monseigneur, who govern this kingdom, know very well that no one
can see any of the prisoners without an express order from the king.

M. d'Herblay has entered, however.

That remains to be proved, monseigneur.

M. de Baisemeaux, once more I warn you to pay particular attention to
what you are saying.

All the documents are there, monseigneur.

M. d'Herblay is overthrown.

Overthrown? - M. d'Herblay! Impossible!

You see that he has undoubtedly influenced you.

No, monseigneur; what does, in fact, influence me, is the king's
service. I am doing my duty. Give me an order from him, and you shall
enter.

Stay, M. le gouverneur, I give you my word that if you allow me to see
the prisoner, I will give you an order from the king at once.

Give it to me now, monseigneur.

And that, if you refuse me, I will have you and all your officers
arrested on the spot.

Before you commit such an act of violence, monseigneur, you will
reflect,said Baisemeauxwho had turned very palethat we will only
obey an order signed by the king; and that it will be just as easy for
you to obtain one to see Marchiali as to obtain one to do me so much
injury; me, too, who am perfectly innocent.

True. True!cried Fouquetfuriously; "perfectly true. M. de
Baisemeaux he added, in a sonorous voice, drawing the unhappy governor
towards him, do you know why I am so anxious to speak to the prisoner?"

No, monseigneur; and allow me to observe that you are terrifying me out
of my senses; I am trembling all over - in fact, I feel as though I were
about to faint.

You will stand a better chance of fainting outright, Monsieur


Baisemeaux, when I return here at the head of ten thousand men and thirty
pieces of cannon.

Good heavens, monseigneur, you are losing your senses.

When I have roused the whole population of Paris against you and your
accursed towers, and have battered open the gates of this place, and
hanged you to the topmost tree of yonder pinnacle!

Monseigneur! monseigneur! for pity's sake!

I give you ten minutes to make up your mind,added Fouquetin a calm
voice. "I will sit down herein this armchairand wait for you; ifin
ten minutes' timeyou still persistI leave this placeand you may
think me as mad as you like. Then - you shall _see!_"

Baisemeaux stamped his foot on the ground like a man in a state of
despairbut he did not reply a single syllable; whereupon Fouquet seized
a pen and inkand wrote:

Order for M. le Prevot des Marchands to assemble the municipal guard and
to march upon the Bastile on the king's immediate service.

Baisemeaux shrugged his shoulders. Fouquet wrote:

Order for the Duc de Bouillon and M. le Prince de Conde to assume the
command of the Swiss guards, of the king's guards, and to march upon the
Bastile on the king's immediate service.

Baisemeaux reflected. Fouquet still wrote:

Order for every soldier, citizen, or gentleman to seize and apprehend,
wherever he may be found, le Chevalier d'Herblay, Eveque de Vannes, and
his accomplices, who are: first, M. de Baisemeaux, governor of the
Bastile, suspected of the crimes of high treason and rebellion -

Stop, monseigneur!cried Baisemeaux; "I do not understand a single jot
of the whole matter; but so many misfortuneseven were it madness itself
that had set them at their awful workmight happen here in a couple of
hoursthat the kingby whom I must be judgedwill see whether I have
been wrong in withdrawing the countersign before this flood of imminent
catastrophes. Come with me to the keepmonseigneuryou shall see
Marchiali."

Fouquet darted out of the roomfollowed by Baisemeaux as he wiped the
perspiration from his face. "What a terrible morning!" he said; "what a
disgrace for _me!_"

Walk faster,replied Fouquet.

Baisemeaux made a sign to the jailer to precede them. He was afraid of
his companionwhich the latter could not fail to perceive.

A truce to this child's play,he saidroughly. "Let the man remain
here; take the keys yourselfand show me the way. Not a single person
do you understandmust hear what is going to take place here."

Ah!said Baisemeauxundecided.

Again!cried M. Fouquet. "Ah! say 'no' at onceand I will leave the
Bastile and will myself carry my own dispatches."

Baisemeaux bowed his headtook the keysand unaccompaniedexcept by
the ministerascended the staircase. The higher they advanced up the


spiral staircasethe more clearly did certain muffled murmurs become
distinct appeals and fearful imprecations.


What is that?asked Fouquet.


That is your Marchiali,said the governor; "this is the way these
madmen scream."


And he accompanied that reply with a glance more pregnant with injurious
allusionas far as Fouquet was concernedthan politeness. The latter
trembled; he had just recognized in one cry more terrible than any that
had preceded itthe king's voice. He paused on the staircasesnatching
the bunch of keys from Baisemeauxwho thought this new madman was going
to dash out his brains with one of them. "Ah!" he criedM. d'Herblay
did not say a word about that.


Give me the keys at once!cried Fouquettearing them from his hand.
Which is the key of the door I am to open?


That one.


A fearful cryfollowed by a violent blow against the doormade the
whole staircase resound with the echo.


Leave this place,said Fouquet to Baisemeauxin a threatening tone.


I ask nothing better,murmured the latterto himself. "There will be
a couple of madmen face to faceand the one will kill the otherI am
sure."


Go!repeated Fouquet. "If you place your foot on this staircase before
I call youremember that you shall take the place of the meanest
prisoner in the Bastile."


This job will kill me, I am sure it will,muttered Baisemeauxas he
withdrew with tottering steps.


The prisoner's cries became more and more terrible. When Fouquet had
satisfied himself that Baisemeaux had reached the bottom of the
staircasehe inserted the key in the first lock. It was then that he
heard the hoarsechoking voice of the kingcrying outin a frenzy of
rageHelp, help! I am the king.The key of the second door was not
the same as the firstand Fouquet was obliged to look for it on the
bunch. The kinghoweverfurious and almost mad with rage and passion
shouted at the top of his voiceIt was M. Fouquet who brought me here.
Help me against M. Fouquet! I am the king! Help the king against M.
Fouquet!These cries filled the minister's heart with terrible
emotions. They were followed by a shower of blows leveled against the
door with a part of the broken chair with which the king had armed
himself. Fouquet at last succeeded in finding the key. The king was
almost exhausted; he could hardly articulate distinctly as he shouted
Death to Fouquet! death to the traitor Fouquet!The door flew open.


Chapter XXIII:
The King's Gratitude.


The two men were on the point of darting towards each other when they
suddenly and abruptly stoppedas a mutual recognition took placeand
each uttered a cry of horror.


Have you come to assassinate me, monsieur?said the kingwhen he
recognized Fouquet.



The king in this state!murmured the minister.

Nothing could be more terrible indeed than the appearance of the young
prince at the moment Fouquet had surprised him; his clothes were in
tatters; his shirtopen and torn to ragswas stained with sweat and
with the blood which streamed from his lacerated breast and arms.
Haggardghastly palehis hair in disheveled massesLouis XIV.
presented the most perfect picture of despairdistressanger and fear
combined that could possibly be united in one figure. Fouquet was so
touchedso affected and disturbed by itthat he ran towards him with
his arms stretched out and his eyes filled with tears. Louis held up the
massive piece of wood of which he had made such a furious use.

Sire,said Fouquetin a voice trembling with emotiondo you not
recognize the most faithful of your friends?

A friend - you!repeated Louisgnashing his teeth in a manner which
betrayed his hate and desire for speedy vengeance.

The most respectful of your servants,added Fouquetthrowing himself
on his knees. The king let the rude weapon fall from his grasp. Fouquet
approached himkissed his kneesand took him in his arms with
inconceivable tenderness.

My king, my child,he saidhow you must have suffered!

Louisrecalled to himself by the change of situationlooked at himself
and ashamed of the disordered state of his apparelashamed of his
conductand ashamed of the air of pity and protection that was shown
towards himdrew back. Fouquet did not understand this movement; he did
not perceive that the king's feeling of pride would never forgive him for
having been a witness of such an exhibition of weakness.

Come, sire,he saidyou are free.

Free?repeated the king. "Oh! you set me at libertythenafter
having dared to lift up your hand against me."

You do not believe that!exclaimed Fouquetindignantly; "you cannot
believe me to be guilty of such an act."

And rapidlywarmly evenhe related the whole particulars of the
intriguethe details of which are already known to the reader. While
the recital continuedLouis suffered the most horrible anguish of mind;
and when it was finishedthe magnitude of the danger he had run struck
him far more than the importance of the secret relative to his twin
brother.

Monsieur,he saidsuddenly to Fouquetthis double birth is a
falsehood; it is impossible - you cannot have been the dupe of it.

Sire!

It is impossible, I tell you, that the honor, the virtue of my mother
can be suspected, and my first minister has not yet done justice on the
criminals!

Reflect, sire, before you are hurried away by anger,replied Fouquet.
The birth of your brother -

I have only one brother - and that is Monsieur. You know it as well as
myself. There is a plot, I tell you, beginning with the governor of the
Bastile.


Be careful, sire, for this man has been deceived as every one else has
by the prince's likeness to yourself.

Likeness? Absurd!

This Marchiali must be singularly like your majesty, to be able to
deceive every one's eye,Fouquet persisted.

Ridiculous!

Do not say so, sire; those who had prepared everything in order to face
and deceive your ministers, your mother, your officers of state, the
members of your family, must be quite confident of the resemblance
between you.

But where are these persons, then?murmured the king.

At Vaux.

At Vaux! and you suffer them to remain there!

My most instant duty appeared to me to be your majesty's release. I
have accomplished that duty; and now, whatever your majesty may command,
shall be done. I await your orders.

Louis reflected for a few moments.

Muster all the troops in Paris,he said.

All the necessary orders are given for that purpose,replied Fouquet.

You have given orders!exclaimed the king.

For that purpose, yes, sire; your majesty will be at the head of ten
thousand men in less than an hour.

The only reply the king made was to take hold of Fouquet's hand with such
an expression of feelingthat it was very easy to perceive how strongly
he haduntil that remarkmaintained his suspicions of the minister
notwithstanding the latter's intervention.

And with these troops,he saidwe shall go at once and besiege in
your house the rebels who by this time will have established and
intrenched themselves therein.

I should be surprised if that were the case,replied Fouquet.

Why?

Because their chief - the very soul of the enterprise - having been
unmasked by me, the whole plan seems to me to have miscarried.

You have unmasked this false prince also?

No, I have not seen him.

Whom have you seen, then?

The leader of the enterprise, not that unhappy young man; the latter is
merely an instrument, destined through his whole life to wretchedness, I
plainly perceive.

Most certainly.


It is M. l'Abbe d'Herblay, Eveque de Vannes.

Your friend?

He was my friend, sire,replied Fouquetnobly.

An unfortunate circumstance for you,said the kingin a less generous
tone of voice.

Such friendships, sire, had nothing dishonorable in them so long as I
was ignorant of the crime.

You should have foreseen it.

If I am guilty, I place myself in your majesty's hands.

Ah! Monsieur Fouquet, it was not that I meant,returned the king
sorry to have shown the bitterness of his thought in such a manner.
Well! I assure you that, notwithstanding the mask with which the
villain covered his face, I had something like a vague suspicion that he
was the very man. But with this chief of the enterprise there was a man
of prodigious strength, the one who menaced me with a force almost
herculean; what is he?

It must be his friend the Baron du Vallon, formerly one of the
musketeers.

The friend of D'Artagnan? the friend of the Comte de la Fere? Ah!
exclaimed the kingas he paused at the name of the latterwe must not
forget the connection that existed between the conspirators and M. de
Bragelonne.

Sire, sire, do not go too far. M. de la Fere is the most honorable man
in France. Be satisfied with those whom I deliver up to you.

With those whom you deliver up to me, you say? Very good, for you will
deliver up those who are guilty to me.

What does your majesty understand by that?inquired Fouquet.

I understand,replied the kingthat we shall soon arrive at Vaux with
a large body of troops, that we will lay violent hands upon that nest of
vipers, and that not a soul shall escape.

Your majesty will put these men to death!cried Fouquet.

To the very meanest of them.

Oh! sire.

Let us understand one another, Monsieur Fouquet,said the king
haughtily. "We no longer live in times when assassination was the only
and the last resource kings held in reservation at extremity. NoHeaven
be praised! I have parliaments who sit and judge in my nameand I have
scaffolds on which supreme authority is carried out."

Fouquet turned pale. "I will take the liberty of observing to your
majestythat any proceedings instituted respecting these matters would
bring down the greatest scandal upon the dignity of the throne. The
august name of Anne of Austria must never be allowed to pass the lips of
the people accompanied by a smile."

Justice must be done, however, monsieur.


Good, sire; but royal blood must not be shed upon a scaffold.

The royal blood! you believe that!cried the king with fury in his
voicestamping his foot on the ground. "This double birth is an
invention; and in that inventionparticularlydo I see M. d'Herblay's
crime. It is the crime I wish to punish rather than the violenceor the
insult."

And punish it with death, sire?

With death; yes, monsieur, I have said it.

Sire,said the surintendantwith firmnessas he raised his head
proudlyyour majesty will take the life, if you please, of your brother
Philippe of France; that concerns you alone, and you will doubtless
consult the queen-mother upon the subject. Whatever she may command will
be perfectly correct. I do not wish to mix myself up in it, not even for
the honor of your crown, but I have a favor to ask of you, and I beg to
submit it to you.

Speak,said the kingin no little degree agitated by his minister's
last words. "What do you require?"

The pardon of M. d'Herblay and of M. du Vallon.

My assassins?

Two rebels, sire, that is all.

Oh! I understand, then, you ask me to forgive your friends.

My friends!said Fouquetdeeply wounded.

Your friends, certainly; but the safety of the state requires that an
exemplary punishment should be inflicted on the guilty.

I will not permit myself to remind your majesty that I have just
restored you to liberty, and have saved your life.

Monsieur!

I will not allow myself to remind your majesty that had M. d'Herblay
wished to carry out his character of an assassin, he could very easily
have assassinated your majesty this morning in the forest of Senart, and
all would have been over.The king started.

A pistol-bullet through the head,pursued Fouquetand the disfigured
features of Louis XIV., which no one could have recognized, would be M.
d'Herblay's complete and entire justification.

The king turned pale and giddy at the bare idea of the danger he had
escaped.

If M. d'Herblay,continued Fouquethad been an assassin, he had no
occasion to inform me of his plan in order to succeed. Freed from the
real king, it would have been impossible in all futurity to guess the
false. And if the usurper had been recognized by Anne of Austria, he
would still have been - her son. The usurper, as far as Monsieur
d'Herblay's conscience was concerned, was still a king of the blood of
Louis XIII. Moreover, the conspirator, in that course, would have had
security, secrecy, impunity. A pistol-bullet would have procured him all
that. For the sake of Heaven, sire, grant me his forgiveness.

The kinginstead of being touched by the pictureso faithfully drawn in


all detailsof Aramis's generosityfelt himself most painfully and
cruelly humiliated. His unconquerable pride revolted at the idea that a
man had held suspended at the end of his finger the thread of his royal
life. Every word that fell from Fouquet's lipsand which he thought
most efficacious in procuring his friend's pardonseemed to pour another
drop of poison into the already ulcerated heart of Louis XIV. Nothing
could bend or soften him. Addressing himself to Fouquethe saidI
really don't know, monsieur, why you should solicit the pardon of these
men. What good is there in asking that which can be obtained without
solicitation?

I do not understand you, sire.

It is not difficult, either. Where am I now?

In the Bastile, sire.

Yes; in a dungeon. I am looked upon as a madman, am I not?

Yes, sire.

And no one is known here but Marchiali?

Certainly.

Well; change nothing in the position of affairs. Let the poor madman
rot between the slimy walls of the Bastile, and M. d'Herblay and M. du
Vallon will stand in no need of my forgiveness. Their new king will
absolve them.

Your majesty does me a great injustice, sire; and you are wrong,
replied Fouquetdryly; "I am not child enoughnor is M. d'Herblay silly
enoughto have omitted to make all these reflections; and if I had
wished to make a new kingas you sayI had no occasion to have come
here to force open the gates and doors of the Bastileto free you from
this place. That would show a want of even common sense. Your majesty's
mind is disturbed by anger; otherwise you would be far from offending
groundlesslythe very one of your servants who has rendered you the most
important service of all."

Louis perceived that he had gone too far; that the gates of the Bastile
were still closed upon himwhilstby degreesthe floodgates were
gradually being openedbehind which the generous-hearted Fouquet had
restrained his anger. "I did not say that to humiliate youHeaven
knowsmonsieur he replied. Only you are addressing yourself to me in
order to obtain a pardonand I answer according to my conscience. And
sojudging by my consciencethe criminals we speak of are not worthy of
consideration or forgiveness."

Fouquet was silent.

What I do is as generous,added the kingas what you have done, for I
am in your power. I will even say it is more generous, inasmuch as you
place before me certain conditions upon which my liberty, my life, may
depend; and to reject which is to make a sacrifice of both.

I was wrong, certainly,replied Fouquet. "Yes- I had the appearance
of extorting a favor; I regret itand entreat your majesty's
forgiveness."

And you are forgiven, my dear Monsieur Fouquet,said the kingwith a
smilewhich restored the serene expression of his featureswhich so
many circumstances had altered since the preceding evening.


I have my own forgiveness,replied the ministerwith some degree of
persistence; "but M. d'Herblayand M. du Vallon?"

They will never obtain theirs, as long as I live,replied the
inflexible king. "Do me the kindness not to speak of it again."

Your majesty shall be obeyed.

And you will bear me no ill-will for it?

Oh! no, sire; for I anticipated the event.

You had 'anticipated' that I should refuse to forgive those gentlemen?

Certainly; and all my measures were taken in consequence.

What do you mean to say?cried the kingsurprised.

M. d'Herblay came, as may be said, to deliver himself into my hands. M.
d'Herblay left to me the happiness of saving my king and my country. I
could not condemn M. d'Herblay to death; nor could I, on the other hand,
expose him to your majesty's justifiable wrath; it would have been just
the same as if I had killed him myself.

Well! and what have you done?

Sire, I gave M. d'Herblay the best horses in my stables and four hours'
start over all those your majesty might, probably, dispatch after him.

Be it so!murmured the king. "But stillthe world is wide enough and
large enough for those whom I may send to overtake your horses
notwithstanding the 'four hours' start' which you have given to M.
d'Herblay."

In giving him these four hours, sire, I knew I was giving him his life,
and he will save his life.

In what way?

After having galloped as hard as possible, with the four hours' start,
before your musketeers, he will reach my chateau of Belle-Isle, where I
have given him a safe asylum.

That may be! But you forget that you have made me a present of Belle-
Isle.

But not for you to arrest my friends.

You take it back again, then?

As far as that goes - yes, sire.

My musketeers shall capture it, and the affair will be at an end.

Neither your musketeers, nor your whole army could take Belle-Isle,
said Fouquetcoldly. "Belle-Isle is impregnable."

The king became perfectly livid; a lightning flash seemed to dart from
his eyes. Fouquet felt that he was lostbut he as not one to shrink
when the voice of honor spoke loudly within him. He bore the king's
wrathful gaze; the latter swallowed his rageand after a few moments'
silencesaidAre we going to return to Vaux?

I am at your majesty's orders,replied Fouquetwith a low bow; "but I


think that your majesty can hardly dispense with changing your clothes
previous to appearing before your court."

We shall pass by the Louvre,said the king. "Come." And they left the
prisonpassing before Baisemeauxwho looked completely bewildered as he
saw Marchiali once more leave; andin his helplessnesstore out the
major portion of his few remaining hairs. It was perfectly true
howeverthat Fouquet wrote and gave him an authority for the prisoner's
releaseand that the king wrote beneath itSeen and approved, Louis;
a piece of madness that Baisemeauxincapable of putting two ideas
togetheracknowledged by giving himself a terrible blow on the forehead
with his own fist.

Chapter XXIV:
The False King.

In the meantimeusurped royalty was playing out its part bravely at
Vaux. Philippe gave orders that for his _petit lever_ the _grandes
entrees_already prepared to appear before the kingshould be
introduced. He determined to give this order notwithstanding the absence
of M. d'Herblaywho did not return - our readers know the reason. But
the princenot believing that absence could be prolongedwishedas all
rash spirits doto try his valor and his fortune far from all protection
and instruction. Another reason urged him to this - Anne of Austria was
about to appear; the guilty mother was about to stand in the presence of
her sacrificed son. Philippe was not willingif he had a weaknessto
render the man a witness of it before whom he was bound thenceforth to
display so much strength. Philippe opened his folding doorsand several
persons entered silently. Philippe did not stir whilst his _valets de
chambre_ dressed him. He had watchedthe evening beforeall the habits
of his brotherand played the king in such a manner as to awaken no
suspicion. He was thus completely dressed in hunting costume when he
received his visitors. His own memory and the notes of Aramis announced
everybody to himfirst of all Anne of Austriato whom Monsieur gave his
handand then Madame with M. de Saint-Aignan. He smiled at seeing these
countenancesbut trembled on recognizing his mother. That still so
noble and imposing figureravaged by painpleaded in his heart the
cause of the famous queen who had immolated a child to reasons of state.
He found his mother still handsome. He knew that Louis XIV. loved her
and he promised himself to love her likewiseand not to prove a scourge
to her old age. He contemplated his brother with a tenderness easily to
be understood. The latter had usurped nothinghad cast no shades
athwart his life. A separate treehe allowed the stem to rise without
heeding its elevation or majestic life. Philippe promised himself to be
a kind brother to this princewho required nothing but gold to minister
to his pleasures. He bowed with a friendly air to Saint-Aignanwho was
all reverences and smilesand trembling held out his hand to Henrietta
his sister-in-lawwhose beauty struck him; but he saw in the eyes of
that princess an expression of coldness which would facilitateas he
thoughttheir future relations.

How much more easy,thought heit will be to be the brother of that
woman than her gallant, if she evinces towards me a coldness that my
brother could not have for her, but which is imposed upon me as a duty.
The only visit he dreaded at this moment was that of the queen; his heart

-his mind - had just been shaken by so violent a trialthatin spite
of their firm temperamentthey would notperhapssupport another
shock. Happily the queen did not come. Then commencedon the part of
Anne of Austriaa political dissertation upon the welcome M. Fouquet had
given to the house of France. She mixed up hostilities with compliments
addressed to the kingand questions as to his healthwith little
maternal flatteries and diplomatic artifices.

Well, my son,said sheare you convinced with regard to M. Fouquet?

Saint-Aignan,said Philippehave the goodness to go and inquire after
the queen.

At these wordsthe first Philippe had pronounced aloudthe slight
difference that there was between his voice and that of the king was
sensible to maternal earsand Anne of Austria looked earnestly at her
son. Saint-Aignan left the roomand Philippe continued:

Madame, I do not like to hear M. Fouquet ill-spoken of, you know I do
not - and you have even spoken well of him yourself.

That is true; therefore I only question you on the state of your
sentiments with respect to him.

Sire,said HenriettaI, on my part, have always liked M. Fouquet. He
is a man of good taste, - a superior man.

A superintendent who is never sordid or niggardly,added Monsieur; "and
who pays in gold all the orders I have on him."

Every one in this thinks too much of himself, and nobody for the state,
said the old queen. "M. Fouquetit is a factM. Fouquet is ruining the
state."

Well, mother!replied Philippein rather a lower keydo you likewise
constitute yourself the buckler of M. Colbert?

How is that?replied the old queenrather surprised.

Why, in truth,replied Philippeyou speak that just as your old
friend Madame de Chevreuse would speak.

Why do you mention Madame de Chevreuse to me?said sheand what sort
of humor are you in to-day towards me?

Philippe continued: "Is not Madame de Chevreuse always in league against
somebody? Has not Madame de Chevreuse been to pay you a visitmother?"

Monsieur, you speak to me now in such a manner that I can almost fancy I
am listening to your father.

My father did not like Madame de Chevreuse, and had good reason for not
liking her,said the prince. "For my partI like her no better than
_he_ didand if she thinks proper to come here as she formerly didto
sow divisions and hatreds under the pretext of begging money - why - "

Well! what?said Anne of Austriaproudlyherself provoking the storm.

Well!replied the young man firmlyI will drive Madame de Chevreuse
out of my kingdom - and with her all who meddle with its secrets and
mysteries.

He had not calculated the effect of this terrible speechor perhaps he
wished to judge the effect of itlike those whosuffering from a
chronic painand seeking to break the monotony of that sufferingtouch
their wound to procure a sharper pang. Anne of Austria was nearly
fainting; her eyesopen but meaninglessceased to see for several
seconds; she stretched out her arms towards her other sonwho supported
and embraced her without fear of irritating the king.

Sire,murmured sheyou are treating your mother very cruelly.


In what respect, madame?replied he. "I am only speaking of Madame de
Chevreuse; does my mother prefer Madame de Chevreuse to the security of
the state and of my person? WellthenmadameI tell you Madame de
Chevreuse has returned to France to borrow moneyand that she addressed
herself to M. Fouquet to sell him a certain secret."

A certain secret!cried Anne of Austria.

Concerning pretended robberies that monsieur le surintendant had
committed, which is false,added Philippe. "M. Fouquet rejected her
offers with indignationpreferring the esteem of the king to complicity
with such intriguers. Then Madame de Chevreuse sold the secret to M.
Colbertand as she is insatiableand was not satisfied with having
extorted a hundred thousand crowns from a servant of the stateshe has
taken a still bolder flightin search of surer sources of supply. Is
that truemadame?"

You know all, sire,said the queenmore uneasy than irritated.

Now,continued PhilippeI have good reason to dislike this fury, who
comes to my court to plan the shame of some and the ruin of others. If
Heaven has suffered certain crimes to be committed, and has concealed
them in the shadow of its clemency, I will not permit Madame de Chevreuse
to counteract the just designs of fate.

The latter part of this speech had so agitated the queen-motherthat her
son had pity on her. He took her hand and kissed it tenderly; she did
not feel that in that kissgiven in spite of repulsion and bitterness of
the heartthere was a pardon for eight years of suffering. Philippe
allowed the silence of a moment to swallow the emotions that had just
developed themselves. Thenwith a cheerful smile:

We will not go to-day,said heI have a plan.Andturning towards
the doorhe hoped to see Aramiswhose absence began to alarm him. The
queen-mother wished to leave the room.

Remain where you are, mother,said heI wish you to make your peace
with M. Fouquet.

I bear M. Fouquet no ill-will; I only dreaded his prodigalities.

We will put that to rights, and will take nothing of the superintendent
but his good qualities.

What is your majesty looking for?said Henriettaseeing the king's
eyes constantly turned towards the doorand wishing to let fly a little
poisoned arrow at his heartsupposing he was so anxiously expecting
either La Valliere or a letter from her.

My sister,said the young manwho had divined her thoughtthanks to
that marvelous perspicuity of which fortune was from that time about to
allow him the exercisemy sister, I am expecting a most distinguished
man, a most able counselor, whom I wish to present to you all,
recommending him to your good graces. Ah! come in, then, D'Artagnan.

What does your majesty wish?said D'Artagnanappearing.

Where is monsieur the bishop of Vannes, your friend?

Why, sire -

I am waiting for him, and he does not come. Let him be sought for.

D'Artagnan remained for an instant stupefied; but soonreflecting that


Aramis had left Vaux privately on a mission from the kinghe concluded
that the king wished to preserve the secret. "Sire replied he, does
your majesty absolutely require M. d'Herblay to be brought to you?"

Absolutely is not the word,said Philippe; "I do not want him so
particularly as that; but if he can be found - "

I thought so,said D'Artagnan to himself.

Is this M. d'Herblay the bishop of Vannes?

Yes, madame.

A friend of M. Fouquet?

Yes, madame; an old musketeer.

Anne of Austria blushed.

One of the four braves who formerly performed such prodigies.

The old queen repented of having wished to bite; she broke off the
conversationin order to preserve the rest of her teeth. "Whatever may
be your choicesire said she, I have no doubt it will be excellent."

All bowed in support of that sentiment.

You will find in him,continued Philippethe depth and penetration of

M. de Richelieu, without the avarice of M. de Mazarin!
A prime minister, sire?said Monsieurin a fright.

I will tell you all about that, brother; but it is strange that M.
d'Herblay is not here!

He called out:

Let M. Fouquet be informed that I wish to speak to him - oh! before you,
before you; do not retire!

M. de Saint-Aignan returnedbringing satisfactory news of the queenwho
only kept her bed from precautionand to have strength to carry out the
king's wishes. Whilst everybody was seeking M. Fouquet and Aramisthe
new king quietly continued his experimentsand everybodyfamily
officersservantshad not the least suspicion of his identityhis air
his voiceand manners were so like the king's. On his sidePhilippe
applying to all countenances the accurate descriptions and key-notes of
character supplied by his accomplice Aramisconducted himself so as not
to give birth to a doubt in the minds of those who surrounded him.
Nothing from that time could disturb the usurper. With what strange
facility had Providence just reversed the loftiest fortune of the world
to substitute the lowliest in its stead! Philippe admired the goodness
of God with regard to himselfand seconded it with all the resources of
his admirable nature. But he feltat timessomething like a specter
gliding between him and the rays of his new glory. Aramis did not
appear. The conversation had languished in the royal family; Philippe
preoccupiedforgot to dismiss his brother and Madame Henrietta. The
latter were astonishedand beganby degreesto lose all patience.
Anne of Austria stooped towards her son's ear and addressed some words to
him in Spanish. Philippe was completely ignorant of that languageand
grew pale at this unexpected obstacle. Butas if the spirit of the
imperturbable Aramis had covered him with his infallibilityinstead of
appearing disconcertedPhilippe rose. "Well! what?" said Anne of
Austria.

What is all that noise?said Philippeturning round towards the door
of the second staircase.

And a voice was heard sayingThis way, this way! A few steps more,
sire!

The voice of M. Fouquet,said D'Artagnanwho was standing close to the
queen-mother.

Then M. d'Herblay cannot be far off,added Philippe.

But he then saw what he little thought to have beheld so near to him.
All eyes were turned towards the door at which M. Fouquet was expected to
enter; but it was not M. Fouquet who entered. A terrible cry resounded
from all corners of the chambera painful cry uttered by the king and
all present. It is given to but few meneven those whose destiny
contains the strangest elementsand accidents the most wonderfulto
contemplate such a spectacle similar to that which presented itself in
the royal chamber at that moment. The half-closed shutters only admitted
the entrance of an uncertain light passing through thick violet velvet
curtains lined with silk. In this soft shadethe eyes were by degrees
dilatedand every one present saw others rather with imagination than
with actual sight. There could nothoweverescapein these
circumstancesone of the surrounding details; and the new object which
presented itself appeared as luminous as though it shone out in full
sunlight. So it happened with Louis XIV.when he showed himselfpale
and frowningin the doorway of the secret stairs. The face of Fouquet
appeared behind himstamped with sorrow and determination. The queenmother
who perceived Louis XIV.and who held the hand of Philippe
uttered a cry of which we have spokenas if she beheld a phantom.
Monsieur was bewilderedand kept turning his head in astonishment from
one to the other. Madame made a step forwardthinking she was looking
at the form of her brother-in-law reflected in a mirror. Andin fact
the illusion was possible. The two princesboth pale as death - for we
renounce the hope of being able to describe the fearful state of Philippe

-tremblingclenching their hands convulsivelymeasured each other with
looksand darted their glancessharp as poniardsat each other.
Silentpantingbending forwardthey appeared as if about to spring
upon an enemy. The unheard-of resemblance of countenancegesture
shapeheighteven to the resemblance of costumeproduced by chance –
for Louis XIV. had been to the Louvre and put on a violet-colored dress –
the perfect analogy of the two princescompleted the consternation of
Anne of Austria. And yet she did not at once guess the truth. There are
misfortunes in life so truly dreadful that no one will at first accept
them; people rather believe in the supernatural and the impossible.
Louis had not reckoned on these obstacles. He expected that he had only
to appear to be acknowledged. A living sunhe could not endure the
suspicion of equality with any one. He did not admit that every torch
should not become darkness at the instant he shone out with his
conquering ray. At the aspect of Philippethenhe was perhaps more
terrified than any one round himand his silencehis immobility were
this timea concentration and a calm which precede the violent
explosions of concentrated passion.
But Fouquet! who shall paint his emotion and stupor in presence of this
living portrait of his master! Fouquet thought Aramis was rightthat
this newly-arrived was a king as pure in his race as the otherand that
for having repudiated all participation in this _coup d'etat_so
skillfully got up by the General of the Jesuitshe must be a mad
enthusiastunworthy of ever dipping his hands in political grand
strategy work. And then it was the blood of Louis XIII. which Fouquet
was sacrificing to the blood of Louis XIII.; it was to a selfish ambition
he was sacrificing a noble ambition; to the right of keeping he


sacrificed the right of having. The whole extent of his fault was
revealed to him at simple sight of the pretender. All that passed in the
mind of Fouquet was lost upon the persons present. He had five minutes
to focus meditation on this point of conscience; five minutesthat is to
say five agesduring which the two kings and their family scarcely found
energy to breathe after so terrible a shock. D'Artagnanleaning against
the wallin front of Fouquetwith his hand to his browasked himself
the cause of such a wonderful prodigy. He could not have said at once
why he doubtedbut he knew assuredly that he had reason to doubtand
that in this meeting of the two Louis XIV.s lay all the doubt and
difficulty that during late days had rendered the conduct of Aramis so
suspicious to the musketeer. These ideas werehoweverenveloped in a
hazea veil of mystery. The actors in this assembly seemed to swim in
the vapors of a confused waking. Suddenly Louis XIV.more impatient and
more accustomed to commandran to one of the shutterswhich he opened
tearing the curtains in his eagerness. A flood of living light entered
the chamberand made Philippe draw back to the alcove. Louis seized
upon this movement with eagernessand addressing himself to the queen:

My mother,said hedo you not acknowledge your son, since every one
here has forgotten his king!Anne of Austria startedand raised her
arms towards Heavenwithout being able to articulate a single word.

My mother,said Philippewith a calm voicedo you not acknowledge
your son?And this timein his turnLouis drew back.

As to Anne of Austriastruck suddenly in head and heart with fell
remorseshe lost her equilibrium. No one aiding herfor all were
petrifiedshe sank back in her fauteuilbreathing a weaktrembling
sigh. Louis could not endure the spectacle and the affront. He bounded
towards D'Artagnanover whose brain a vertigo was stealing and who
staggered as he caught at the door for support.

_A moi! mousquetaire!_said he. "Look us in the face and say which is
the palerhe or I!"

This cry roused D'Artagnanand stirred in his heart the fibers of
obedience. He shook his headandwithout more hesitationhe walked
straight up to Philippeon whose shoulder he laid his handsaying
Monsieur, you are my prisoner!

Philippe did not raise his eyes towards Heavennor stir from the spot
where he seemed nailed to the floorhis eye intently fixed upon the king
his brother. He reproached him with a sublime silence for all
misfortunes pastall tortures to come. Against this language of the
soul the king felt he had no power; he cast down his eyesdragging away
precipitately his brother and sisterforgetting his mothersitting
motionless within three paces of the son whom she left a second time to
be condemned to death. Philippe approached Anne of Austriaand said to
herin a soft and nobly agitated voice:

If I were not your son, I should curse you, my mother, for having
rendered me so unhappy.

D'Artagnan felt a shudder pass through the marrow of his bones. He bowed
respectfully to the young princeand said as he bentExcuse me,
monseigneur, I am but a soldier, and my oaths are his who has just left
the chamber.

Thank you, M. d'Artagnan.... What has become of M. d'Herblay?

M. d'Herblay is in safety, monseigneur,said a voice behind them; "and
no onewhile I live and am freeshall cause a hair to fall from his
head."


Monsieur Fouquet!said the princesmiling sadly.


Pardon me, monseigneur,said Fouquetkneelingbut he who is just
gone out from hence was my guest.


Here are,murmured Philippewith a sighbrave friends and good
hearts. They make me regret the world. On, M. d'Artagnan, I follow you.


At the moment the captain of the musketeers was about to leave the room
with his prisonerColbert appearedandafter remitting an order from
the king to D'Artagnanretired. D'Artagnan read the paperand then
crushed it in his hand with rage.


What is it?asked the prince.


Read, monseigneur,replied the musketeer.


Philippe read the following wordshastily traced by the hand of the king:


M. d'Artagnan will conduct the prisoner to the Ile Sainte-Marguerite.
He will cover his face with an iron vizor, which the prisoner shall never
raise except at peril of his life.


That is just,said Philippewith resignation; "I am ready."


Aramis was right,said Fouquetin a low voiceto the musketeerthis
one is every whit as much a king as the other.


More so!replied D'Artagnan. "He wanted only you and me."


Chapter XXV:
In Which Porthos Thinks He Is Pursuing a Duchy.


Aramis and Porthoshaving profited by the time granted them by Fouquet
did honor to the French cavalry by their speed. Porthos did not clearly
understand on what kind of mission he was forced to display so much
velocity; but as he saw Aramis spurring on furiouslyhePorthos
spurred on in the same way. They had soonin this mannerplaced twelve
leagues between them and Vaux; they were then obliged to change horses
and organize a sort of post arrangement. It was during a relay that
Porthos ventured to interrogate Aramis discreetly.


Hush!replied the latterknow only that our fortune depends on our
speed.


As if Porthos had still been the musketeerwithout a sou or a _maille_
of 1626he pushed forward. That magic word "fortune" always means
something in the human ear. It means _enough_ for those who have
nothing; it means _too much_ for those who have enough.


I shall be made a duke!said Porthosaloud. He was speaking to
himself.


That is possible,replied Aramissmiling after his own fashionas
Porthos's horse passed him. Aramis feltnotwithstandingas though his
brain were on fire; the activity of the body had not yet succeeded in
subduing that of the mind. All there is of raging passionmental
toothache or mortal threatragedgnawed and grumbled in the thoughts of
the unhappy prelate. His countenance exhibited visible traces of this
rude combat. Free on the highway to abandon himself to every impression
of the momentAramis did not fail to swear at every start of his horse
at every inequality in the road. Paleat times inundated with boiling



sweatsthen again dry and icyhe flogged his horses till the blood
streamed from their sides. Porthoswhose dominant fault was not
sensibilitygroaned at this. Thus traveled they on for eight long
hoursand then arrived at Orleans. It was four o'clock in the
afternoon. Aramison observing thisjudged that nothing showed pursuit
to be a possibility. It would be without example that a troop capable of
taking him and Porthos should be furnished with relays sufficient to
perform forty leagues in eight hours. Thusadmitting pursuitwhich was
not at all manifestthe fugitives were five hours in advance of their
pursuers.

Aramis thought that there might be no imprudence in taking a little rest
but that to continue would make the matter more certain. Twenty leagues
moreperformed with the same rapiditytwenty more leagues devouredand
no onenot even D'Artagnancould overtake the enemies of the king.
Aramis felt obligedthereforeto inflict upon Porthos the pain of
mounting on horseback again. They rode on till seven o'clock in the
eveningand had only one post more between them and Blois. But here a
diabolical accident alarmed Aramis greatly. There were no horses at the
post. The prelate asked himself by what infernal machination his enemies
had succeeded in depriving him of the means of going further- he who
never recognized chance as a deitywho found a cause for every accident
preferred believing that the refusal of the postmasterat such an hour
in such a countrywas the consequence of an order emanating from above:
an order given with a view of stopping short the king-maker in the midst
of his flight. But at the moment he was about to fly into a passionso
as to procure either a horse or an explanationhe was struck with the
recollection that the Comte de la Fere lived in the neighborhood.

I am not traveling,said he; "I do not want horses for a whole stage.
Find me two horses to go and pay a visit to a nobleman of my acquaintance
who resides near this place."

What nobleman?asked the postmaster.

M. le Comte de la Fere.

Oh!replied the postmasteruncovering with respecta very worthy
nobleman. But, whatever may be my desire to make myself agreeable to
him, I cannot furnish you with horses, for all mine are engaged by M. le
Duc de Beaufort.

Indeed!said Aramismuch disappointed.

Only,continued the postmasterif you will put up with a little
carriage I have, I will harness an old blind horse who has still his legs
left, and peradventure will draw you to the house of M. le Comte de la
Fere.

It is worth a louis,said Aramis.

No, monsieur, such a ride is worth no more than a crown; that is what M.
Grimaud, the comte's intendant, always pays me when he makes use of that
carriage; and I should not wish the Comte de la Fere to have to reproach
me with having imposed on one of his friends.

As you please,said Aramisparticularly as regards disobliging the
Comte de la Fere; only I think I have a right to give you a louis for
your idea.

Oh! doubtless,replied the postmaster with delight. And he himself
harnessed the ancient horse to the creaking carriage. In the meantime
Porthos was curious to behold. He imagined he had discovered a clew to
the secretand he felt pleasedbecause a visit to Athosin the first


placepromised him much satisfactionandin the nextgave him the
hope of finding at the same time a good bed and good supper. The master
having got the carriage readyordered one of his men to drive the
strangers to La Fere. Porthos took his seat by the side of Aramis
whispering in his earI understand.

Aha!said Aramisand what do you understand, my friend?

We are going, on the part of the king, to make some great proposal to
Athos.

Pooh!said Aramis.

You need tell me nothing about it,added the worthy Porthos
endeavoring to reseat himself so as to avoid the joltingyou need tell
me nothing, I shall guess.

Well! do, my friend; guess away.

They arrived at Athos's dwelling about nine o'clock in the evening
favored by a splendid moon. This cheerful light rejoiced Porthos beyond
expression; but Aramis appeared annoyed by it in an equal degree. He
could not help showing something of this to Porthoswho replied - "Ay!
ay! I guess how it is! the mission is a secret one."

These were his last words in the carriage. The driver interrupted him by
sayingGentlemen, we have arrived.

Porthos and his companion alighted before the gate of the little chateau
where we are about to meet again our old acquaintances Athos and
Bragelonnethe latter of whom had disappeared since the discovery of the
infidelity of La Valliere. If there be one saying truer than anotherit
is this: great griefs contain within themselves the germ of consolation.
This painful woundinflicted upon Raoulhad drawn him nearer to his
father again; and God knows how sweet were the consolations which flowed
from the eloquent mouth and generous heart of Athos. The wound was not
cicatrizedbut Athosby dint of conversing with his son and mixing a
little more of his life with that of the young manhad brought him to
understand that this pang of a first infidelity is necessary to every
human existence; and that no one has loved without encountering it.
Raoul listenedagain and againbut never understood. Nothing replaces
in the deeply afflicted heart the remembrance and thought of the beloved
object. Raoul then replied to the reasoning of his father:

Monsieur, all that you tell me is true; I believe that no one has
suffered in the affections of the heart so much as you have; but you are
a man too great by reason of intelligence, and too severely tried by
adverse fortune not to allow for the weakness of the soldier who suffers
for the first time. I am paying a tribute that will not be paid a second
time; permit me to plunge myself so deeply in my grief that I may forget
myself in it, that I may drown even my reason in it.

Raoul! Raoul!

Listen, monsieur. Never shall I accustom myself to the idea that
Louise, the chastest and most innocent of women, has been able to so
basely deceive a man so honest and so true a lover as myself. Never can
I persuade myself that I see that sweet and noble mask change into a
hypocritical lascivious face. Louise lost! Louise infamous! Ah!
monseigneur, that idea is much more cruel to me than Raoul abandoned –
Raoul unhappy!

Athos then employed the heroic remedy. He defended Louise against Raoul
and justified her perfidy by her love. "A woman who would have yielded


to a king because he is a king said he, would deserve to be styled
infamous; but Louise loves Louis. Youngboththey have forgottenhe
his rankshe her vows. Love absolves everythingRaoul. The two young
people love each other with sincerity."

And when he had dealt this severe poniard-thrustAthoswith a sighsaw
Raoul bound away beneath the rankling woundand fly to the thickest
recesses of the woodor the solitude of his chamberwhencean hour
afterhe would returnpaletremblingbut subdued. Thencoming up to
Athos with a smilehe would kiss his handlike the dog whohaving been
beatencaresses a respected masterto redeem his fault. Raoul redeemed
nothing but his weaknessand only confessed his grief. Thus passed away
the days that followed that scene in which Athos had so violently shaken
the indomitable pride of the king. Neverwhen conversing with his son
did he make any allusion to that scene; never did he give him the details
of that vigorous lecturewhich mightperhapshave consoled the young
manby showing him his rival humbled. Athos did not wish that the
offended lover should forget the respect due to his king. And when
Bragelonneardentangryand melancholyspoke with contempt of royal
wordsof the equivocal faith which certain madmen draw from promises
that emanate from throneswhenpassing over two centurieswith that
rapidity of a bird that traverses a narrow strait to go from one
continent to the otherRaoul ventured to predict the time in which kings
would be esteemed as less than other menAthos said to himin his
serenepersuasive voiceYou are right, Raoul; all that you say will
happen; kings will lose their privileges, as stars which have survived
their aeons lose their splendor. But when that moment comes, Raoul, we
shall be dead. And remember well what I say to you. In this world, all,
men, women, and kings, must live for the present. We can only live for
the future for God.

This was the manner in which Athos and Raoul wereas usualconversing
and walking backwards and forwards in the long alley of limes in the
parkwhen the bell which served to announce to the comte either the hour
of dinner or the arrival of a visitorwas rung; andwithout attaching
any importance to ithe turned towards the house with his son; and at
the end of the alley they found themselves in the presence of Aramis and
Porthos.

Chapter XXVI:
The Last Adieux.

Raoul uttered a cryand affectionately embraced Porthos. Aramis and
Athos embraced like old men; and this embrace itself being a question for
Aramishe immediately saidMy friend, we have not long to remain with
you.

Ah!said the comte.

Only time to tell you of my good fortune,interrupted Porthos.

Ah!said Raoul.

Athos looked silently at Aramiswhose somber air had already appeared to
him very little in harmony with the good news Porthos hinted.

What is the good fortune that has happened to you? Let us hear it,
said Raoulwith a smile.

The king has made me a duke,said the worthy Porthoswith an air of
mysteryin the ear of the young mana duke by _brevet_.

But the _asides_ of Porthos were always loud enough to be heard by


everybody. His murmurs were in the diapason of ordinary roaring. Athos
heard himand uttered an exclamation which made Aramis start. The
latter took Athos by the armandafter having asked Porthos's
permission to say a word to his friend in privateMy dear Athos,he
beganyou see me overwhelmed with grief and trouble.

With grief and trouble, my dear friend?cried the comte; "ohwhat?"

In two words. I have conspired against the king; that conspiracy has
failed, and, at this moment, I am doubtless pursued.

You are pursued! - a conspiracy! Eh! my friend, what do you tell me?

The saddest truth. I am entirely ruined.

Well, but Porthos - this title of duke - what does all that mean?

That is the subject of my severest pain; that is the deepest of my
wounds. I have, believing in infallible success, drawn Porthos into my
conspiracy. He threw himself into it, as you know he would do, with all
his strength, without knowing what he was about; and now he is as much
compromised as myself - as completely ruined as I am.

Good God!And Athos turned towards Porthoswho was smiling
complacently.

I must make you acquainted with the whole. Listen to me,continued
Aramis; and he related the history as we know it. Athosduring the
recitalseveral times felt the sweat break from his forehead. "It was a
great idea said he, but a great error."

For which I am punished, Athos.

Therefore, I will not tell you my entire thought.

Tell it, nevertheless.

It is a crime.

A capital crime; I know it is. _Lese majeste_.

Porthos! poor Porthos!

What would you advise me to do? Success, as I have told you, was
certain.

M. Fouquet is an honest man.

And I a fool for having so ill-judged him,said Aramis. "Ohthe
wisdom of man! Ohmillstone that grinds the world! and which is one day
stopped by a grain of sand which has fallenno one knows howbetween
its wheels."

Say by a diamond, Aramis. But the thing is done. How do you think of
acting?

I am taking away Porthos. The king will never believe that that worthy
man has acted innocently. He never can believe that Porthos has thought
he was serving the king, whilst acting as he has done. His head would
pay my fault. It shall not, must not, be so.

You are taking him away, whither?

To Belle-Isle, at first. That is an impregnable place of refuge. Then,


I have the sea, and a vessel to pass over into England, where I have many
relations.

You? in England?

Yes, or else in Spain, where I have still more.

But, our excellent Porthos! you ruin him, for the king will confiscate
all his property.

All is provided for. I know how, when once in Spain, to reconcile
myself with Louis XIV., and restore Porthos to favor.

You have credit, seemingly, Aramis!said Athoswith a discreet air.

Much; and at the service of my friends.

These words were accompanied by a warm pressure of the hand.

Thank you,replied the comte.

And while we are on this head,said Aramisyou also are a malcontent;
you also, Raoul, have griefs to lay to the king. Follow our example;
pass over into Belle-Isle. Then we shall see, I guarantee upon my honor,
that in a month there will be war between France and Spain on the subject
of this son of Louis XIII., who is an Infante likewise, and whom France
detains inhumanly. Now, as Louis XIV. would have no inclination for a
war on that subject, I will answer for an arrangement, the result of
which must bring greatness to Porthos and to me, and a duchy in France to
you, who are already a grandee of Spain. Will you join us?

No; for my part I prefer having something to reproach the king with; it
is a pride natural to my race to pretend to a superiority over royal
races. Doing what you propose, I should become the obliged of the king;
I should certainly be the gainer on that ground, but I should be a loser
in my conscience. - No, thank you!

Then give me two things, Athos, - your absolution.

Oh! I give it you if you really wished to avenge the weak and oppressed
against the oppressor.

That is sufficient for me,said Aramiswith a blush which was lost in
the obscurity of the night. "And nowgive me your two best horses to
gain the second postas I have been refused any under the pretext of the
Duc de Beaufort being traveling in this country."

You shall have the two best horses, Aramis; and again I recommend poor
Porthos strongly to your care.

Oh! I have no fear on that score. One word more: do you think I am
maneuvering for him as I ought?

The evil being committed, yes; for the king would not pardon him, and
you have, whatever may be said, always a supporter in M. Fouquet, who
will not abandon you, he being himself compromised, notwithstanding his
heroic action.

You are right. And that is why, instead of gaining the sea at once,
which would proclaim my fear and guilt, that is why I remain upon French
ground. But Belle-Isle will be for me whatever ground I wish it to be,
English, Spanish, or Roman; all will depend, with me, on the standard I
shall think proper to unfurl.


How so?

It was I who fortified Belle-Isle; and, so long as I defend it, nobody
can take Belle-Isle from me. And then, as you have said just now, M.
Fouquet is there. Belle-Isle will not be attacked without the signature
of M. Fouquet.

That is true. Nevertheless, be prudent. The king is both cunning and
strong.Aramis smiled.

I again recommend Porthos to you,repeated the countwith a sort of
cold persistence.

Whatever becomes of me, count,replied Aramisin the same toneour
brother Porthos will fare as I do - or _better_.

Athos bowed whilst pressing the hand of Aramisand turned to embrace
Porthos with emotion.

I was born lucky, was I not?murmured the lattertransported with
happinessas he folded his cloak round him.

Come, my dear friend,said Aramis.

Raoul had gone out to give orders for the saddling of the horses. The
group was already divided. Athos saw his two friends on the point of
departureand something like a mist passed before his eyes and weighed
upon his heart.

It is strange,thought hewhence comes the inclination I feel to
embrace Porthos once more?At that moment Porthos turned roundand he
came towards his old friend with open arms. This last endearment was
tender as in youthas in times when hearts were warm - life happy. And
then Porthos mounted his horse. Aramis came back once more to throw his
arms round the neck of Athos. The latter watched them along the highroad
elongated by the shadein their white cloaks. Like phantoms they
seemed to enlarge on their departure from the earthand it was not in
the mistbut in the declivity of the ground that they disappeared. At
the end of the perspectiveboth seemed to have given a spring with their
feetwhich made them vanish as if evaporated into cloud-land.

Then Athoswith a very heavy heartreturned towards the housesaying
to BragelonneRaoul, I don't know what it is that has just told me that
I have seen those two for the last time.

It does not astonish me, monsieur, that you should have such a thought,
replied the young manfor I have at this moment the same, and think
also that I shall never see Messieurs du Vallon and d'Herblay again.

Oh! you,replied the countyou speak like a man rendered sad by a
different cause; you see everything in black; you are young, and if you
chance never to see those old friends again, it will because they no
longer exist in the world in which you have yet many years to pass. But
I -

Raoul shook his head sadlyand leaned upon the shoulder of the count
without either of them finding another word in their heartswhich were
ready to overflow.

All at once a noise of horses and voicesfrom the extremity of the road
to Bloisattracted their attention that way. Flambeaux-bearers shook
their torches merrily among the trees of their routeand turned round
from time to timeto avoid distancing the horsemen who followed them.
These flamesthis noisethis dust of a dozen richly caparisoned horses


formed a strange contrast in the middle of the night with the melancholy
and almost funereal disappearance of the two shadows of Aramis and
Porthos. Athos went towards the house; but he had hardly reached the
parterrewhen the entrance gate appeared in a blaze; all the flambeaux
stopped and appeared to enflame the road. A cry was heard of "M. le Duc
de Beaufort" - and Athos sprang towards the door of his house. But the
duke had already alighted from his horseand was looking around him.

I am here, monseigneur,said Athos.

Ah! good evening, dear count,said the princewith that frank
cordiality which won him so many hearts. "Is it too late for a friend?"

Ah! my dear prince, come in!said the count.

AndM. de Beaufort leaning on the arm of Athosthey entered the house
followed by Raoulwho walked respectfully and modestly among the
officers of the princewith several of whom he was acquainted.

Chapter XXVII:
Monsieur de Beaufort.

The prince turned round at the moment when Raoulin order to leave him
alone with Athoswas shutting the doorand preparing to go with the
other officers into an adjoining apartment.

Is that the young man I have heard M. le Prince speak so highly of?
asked M. de Beaufort.

It is, monseigneur.

He is quite the soldier; let him stay, count, we cannot spare him.

Remain, Raoul, since monseigneur permits it,said Athos.

_Ma foi!_ he is tall and handsome!continued the duke. "Will you give
him to memonseigneurif I ask him of you?"

How am I to understand you, monseigneur?said Athos.

Why, I call upon you to bid you farewell.

Farewell!

Yes, in good truth. Have you no idea of what I am about to become?

Why, I suppose, what you have always been, monseigneur, - a valiant
prince, and an excellent gentleman.

I am going to become an African prince, - a Bedouin gentleman. The king
is sending me to make conquests among the Arabs.

What is this you tell me, monseigneur?

Strange, is it not? I, the Parisian _par essence_, I who have reigned
in the faubourgs, and have been called King of the Halles, - I am going
to pass from the Place Maubert to the minarets of Gigelli; from a
Frondeur I am becoming an adventurer!

Oh, monseigneur, if you did not yourself tell me that -

It would not be credible, would it? Believe me, nevertheless, and we
have but to bid each other farewell. This is what comes of getting into


favor again.

Into favor?

Yes. You smile. Ah, my dear count, do you know why I have accepted
this enterprise, can you guess?

Because your highness loves glory above - everything.

Oh! no; there is no glory in firing muskets at savages. I see no glory
in that, for my part, and it is more probable that I shall there meet
with something else. But I have wished, and still wish earnestly, my
dear count, that my life should have that last _facet_, after all the
whimsical exhibitions I have seen myself make during fifty years. For,
in short, you must admit that it is sufficiently strange to be born the
grandson of a king, to have made war against kings, to have been reckoned
among the powers of the age, to have maintained my rank, to feel Henry

IV. within me, to be great admiral of France - and then to go and get
killed at Gigelli, among all those Turks, Saracens, and Moors.
Monseigneur, you harp with strange persistence on that theme,said
Athosin an agitated voice. "How can you suppose that so brilliant a
destiny will be extinguished in that remote and miserable scene?"

And can you believe, upright and simple as you are, that if I go into
Africa for this ridiculous motive, I will not endeavor to come out of it
without ridicule? Shall I not give the world cause to speak of me? And
to be spoken of, nowadays, when there are Monsieur le Prince, M. de
Turenne, and many others, my contemporaries, I, admiral of France,
grandson of Henry IV., king of Paris, have I anything left but to get
myself killed? _Cordieu!_ I will be talked of, I tell you; I shall be
killed whether or not; if no there, somewhere else.

Why, monseigneur, this is mere exaggeration; and hitherto you have shown
nothing exaggerated save in bravery.

_Peste!_ my dear friend, there is bravery in facing scurvy, dysentery,
locusts, poisoned arrows, as my ancestor St. Louis did. Do you know
those fellows still use poisoned arrows? And then, you know me of old, I
fancy, and you know that when I once make up my mind to a thing, I
perform it in grim earnest.

Yes, you made up your mind to escape from Vincennes.

Ay, but you aided me in that, my master; and, _a propos_, I turn this
way and that, without seeing my old friend, M. Vaugrimaud. How is he?

M. Vaugrimaud is still your highness's most respectful servant,said
Athossmiling.

I have a hundred pistoles here for him, which I bring as a legacy. My
will is made, count.

Ah! monseigneur! monseigneur!

And you may understand that if Grimaud's name were to appear in my will

-The duke began to laugh; then addressing Raoulwhofrom the
commencement of this conversationhad sunk into a profound reverie
Young man,said heI know there is to be found here a certain De
Vouvray wine, and I believe - Raoul left the room precipitately to
order the wine. In the meantime M. de Beaufort took the hand of Athos.
What do you mean to do with him?asked he.


Nothing at present, monseigneur.

Ah! yes, I know; since the passion of the king for La Valliere.

Yes, monseigneur.

That is all true, then, is it? I think I know her, that little La
Valliere. She is not particularly handsome, if I remember right?

No, monseigneur,said Athos.

Do you know whom she reminds me of?

Does she remind your highness of any one?

She reminds me of a very agreeable girl, whose mother lived in the
Halles.

Ah! ah!said Athossmiling.

Oh! the good old times,added M. de Beaufort. "YesLa Valliere reminds me of
that girl."

Who had a son, had she not?

Transcriber's note: It is possible that the preceding conversation is an
obscure allegorical allusion to the Frondeor perhaps an intimation that
the Duc was the father of Mordauntfrom Twenty Years Afterbut a
definite interpretation still eludes modern scholars. - JB

I believe she had,replied the dukewith careless _naivete_ and a
complaisant forgetfulnessof which no words could translate the tone
and the vocal expression. "Nowhere is poor Raoulwho is your sonI
believe."

Yes, he is my son, monseigneur.

And the poor lad has been cut out by the king, and he frets.

Still better, monseigneur, he abstains.

You are going to let the boy rust in idleness; it is a mistake. Come,
give him to me.

My wish is to keep him at home, monseigneur. I have no longer anything
in the world but him, and as long as he likes to remain -

Well, well,replied the duke. "I couldneverthelesshave soon put
matters to rights again. I assure youI think he has in him the stuff
of which marechals of France are made; I have seen more than one produced
from less likely rough material."

That is very possible, monseigneur; but it is the king who makes
marechals of France, and Raoul will never accept anything of the king.

Raoul interrupted this conversation by his return. He preceded Grimaud
whose still steady hands carried the plateau with one glass and a bottle
of the duke's favorite wine. On seeing his old _protege_the duke
uttered an exclamation of pleasure.

Grimaud! Good evening, Grimaud!said he; "how goes it?"

The servant bowed profoundlyas much gratified as his noble interlocutor.


Two old friends!said the dukeshaking honest Grimaud's shoulder after
a vigorous fashion; which was followed by another still more profound and
delighted bow from Grimaud.

But what is this, count, only one glass?

I should not think of drinking with your highness, unless your highness
permitted me,replied Athoswith noble humility.

_Cordieu!_ you were right to bring only one glass, we will both drink
out of it, like two brothers in arms. Begin, count.

Do me the honor,said Athosgently putting back the glass.

You are a charming friend,replied the Duc de Beaufortwho drankand
passed the goblet to his companion. "But that is not all continued he,
I am still thirstyand I wish to do honor to this handsome young man
who stands here. I carry good luck with mevicomte said he to Raoul;
wish for something while drinking out of my glassand may the black
plague grab me if what you wish does not come to pass!" He held the
goblet to Raoulwho hastily moistened his lipsand replied with the
same promptitude:

I have wished for something, monseigneur.His eyes sparkled with a
gloomy fireand the blood mounted to his cheeks; he terrified Athosif
only with his smile.

And what have you wished for?replied the dukesinking back into his
fauteuilwhilst with one hand he returned the bottle to Grimaudand
with the other gave him a purse.

Will you promise me, monseigneur, to grant me what I wish for?

_Pardieu!_ That is agreed upon.

I wished, monsieur le duc, to go with you to Gigelli.

Athos became paleand was unable to conceal his agitation. The duke
looked at his friendas if desirous to assist him to parry this
unexpected blow.

That is difficult, my dear vicomte, very difficult,added hein a
lower tone of voice.

Pardon me, monseigneur, I have been indiscreet,replied Raoulin a
firm voice; "but as you yourself invited me to wish - "

To wish to leave me?said Athos.

Oh! monsieur - can you imagine -

Well, _mordieu!_cried the dukethe young vicomte is right! What can
he do here? He will go moldy with grief.

Raoul blushedand the excitable prince continued: "War is a distraction:
we gain everything by it; we can only lose one thing by it - life - then
so much the worse!"

That is to say, memory,said Raouleagerly; "and that is to sayso
much the better!"

He repented of having spoken so warmly when he saw Athos rise and open
the window; which wasdoubtlessto conceal his emotion. Raoul sprang
towards the comtebut the latter had already overcome his emotionand


turned to the lights with a serene and impassible countenance. "Well
come said the duke, let us see! Shall he goor shall he not? If he
goescomtehe shall be my aide-de-campmy son."

Monseigneur!cried Raoulbending his knee.

Monseigneur!cried Athostaking the hand of the duke; "Raoul shall do
just as he likes."

Oh! no, monsieur, just as you like,interrupted the young man.

_Par la corbleu!_said the prince in his turnit is neither the comte
nor the vicomte that shall have his way, it is I. I will take him away.
The marine offers a superb fortune, my friend.

Raoul smiled again so sadlythat this time Athos felt his heart
penetrated by itand replied to him by a severe look. Raoul
comprehended it all; he recovered his calmnessand was so guardedthat
not another word escaped him. The duke at length roseon observing the
advanced hourand saidwith animationI am in great haste, but if I
am told I have lost time in talking with a friend, I will reply I have
gained - on the balance - a most excellent recruit.

Pardon me, monsieur le duc,interrupted Raouldo not tell the king
so, for it is not the king I wish to serve.

Eh! my friend, whom, then, will you serve? The times are past when you
might have said, 'I belong to M. de Beaufort.' No, nowadays, we all
belong to the king, great or small. Therefore, if you serve on board my
vessels, there can be nothing equivocal about it, my dear vicomte; it
will be the king you will serve.

Athos waited with a kind of impatient joy for the reply about to be made
to this embarrassing question by Raoulthe intractable enemy of the
kinghis rival. The father hoped that the obstacle would overcome the
desire. He was thankful to M. de Beaufortwhose lightness or generous
reflection had thrown an impediment in the way of the departure of a son
now his only joy. But Raoulstill firm and tranquilreplied: "Monsieur
le ducthe objection you make I have already considered in my mind. I
will serve on board your vesselsbecause you do me the honor to take me
with you; but I shall there serve a more powerful master than the king: I
shall serve God!"

God! how so?said the duke and Athos together.

My intention is to make profession, and become a knight of Malta,added
Bragelonneletting fallone by onewords more icy than the drops which
fall from the bare trees after the tempests of winter.

Transcriber's note: The dictates of such a service would require Raoul to
spend the rest of his life outside of Francehence Athos's and Grimaud's
extreme reactions. - JB

Under this blow Athos staggered and the prince himself was moved.
Grimaud uttered a heavy groanand let fall the bottlewhich was broken
without anybody paying attention. M. de Beaufort looked the young man in
the faceand read plainlythough his eyes were cast downthe fire of
resolution before which everything must give way. As to Athoshe was
too well acquainted with that tenderbut inflexible soul; he could not
hope to make it deviate from the fatal road it had just chosen. He could
only press the hand the duke held out to him. "ComteI shall set off in
two days for Toulon said M. de Beaufort. Will you meet me at Paris
in order that I may know your determination?"


I will have the honor of thanking you there, _mon prince_, for all your
kindness,replied the comte.

And be sure to bring the vicomte with you, whether he follows me or does
not follow me,added the duke; "he has my wordand I only ask yours."

Having thrown a little balm upon the wound of the paternal hearthe
pulled the ear of Grimaudwhose eyes sparkled more than usualand
regained his escort in the parterre. The horsesrested and refreshed
set off with spirit through the lovely nightand soon placed a
considerable distance between their master and the chateau.

Athos and Bragelonne were again face to face. Eleven o'clock was
striking. The father and son preserved a profound silence towards each
otherwhere an intelligent observer would have expected cries and
tears. But these two men were of such a nature that all emotion
following their final resolutions plunged itself so deep into their
hearts that it was lost forever. They passedthensilently and almost
breathlesslythe hour that preceded midnight. The clockby striking
alone pointed out to them how many minutes had lasted the painful journey
made by their souls in the immensity of their remembrances of the past
and fear of the future. Athos rose firstsayingit is late, then....
Till to-morrow.

Raoul roseand in his turn embraced his father. The latter held him
clasped to his breastand saidin a tremulous voiceIn two days, you
will have left me, my son - left me forever, Raoul!

Monsieur,replied the young manI had formed a determination, that of
piercing my heart with my sword; but you would have thought that
cowardly. I have renounced that determination, and _therefore_ we must
part.

You leave me desolate by going, Raoul.

Listen to me again, monsieur, I implore you. If I do not go, I shall
die here of grief and love. I know how long a time I have to live thus.
Send me away quickly, monsieur, or you will see me basely die before your
eyes - in your house - this is stronger than my will - stronger than my
strength - you may plainly see that within one month I have lived thirty
years, and that I approach the end of my life.

Then,said Athoscoldlyyou go with the intention of getting killed
in Africa? Oh, tell me! do not lie!

Raoul grew deadly paleand remained silent for two secondswhich were
to his father two hours of agony. Thenall at once: "Monsieur said
he, I have promised to devote myself to God. In exchange for the
sacrifice I make of my youth and libertyI will only ask of Him one
thingand that isto preserve me for youbecause you are the only tie
which attaches me to this world. God alone can give me the strength not
to forget that I owe you everythingand that nothing ought to stand in
my esteem before you."

Athos embraced his son tenderlyand said:

You have just replied to me on the word of honor of an honest man; in
two days we shall be with M. de Beaufort at Paris, and you will then do
what will be proper for you to do. You are free, Raoul; adieu.

And he slowly gained his bedroom. Raoul went down into the gardenand
passed the night in the alley of limes.


Chapter XXVIII:
Preparations for Departure.

Athos lost no more time in combating this immutable resolution. He gave
all his attention to preparingduring the two days the duke had granted
himthe proper appointments for Raoul. This labor chiefly concerned
Grimaudwho immediately applied himself to it with the good-will and
intelligence we know he possessed. Athos gave this worthy servant orders
to take the route to Paris when the equipments should be ready; andnot
to expose himself to the danger of keeping the duke waitingor delaying
Raoulso that the duke should perceive his absencehe himselfthe day
after the visit of M. de Beaufortset off for Paris with his son.

For the poor young man it was an emotion easily to be understoodthus to
return to Paris amongst all the people who had known and loved him.
Every face recalled a pang to him who had suffered so much; to him who
had loved so muchsome circumstance of his unhappy love. Raoulon
approaching Parisfelt as if he were dying. Once in Parishe really
existed no longer. When he reached Guiche's residencehe was informed
that Guiche was with Monsieur. Raoul took the road to the Luxembourg
and when arrivedwithout suspecting that he was going to the place where
La Valliere had livedhe heard so much music and respired so many
perfumeshe heard so much joyous laughterand saw so many dancing
shadowsthat if it had not been for a charitable womanwho perceived
him so dejected and pale beneath a doorwayhe would have remained there
a few minutesand then would have gone awaynever to return. Butas
we have saidin the first ante-chamber he had stoppedsolely for the
sake of not mixing himself with all those happy beings he felt were
moving around him in the adjacent salons. And as one of Monsieur's
servantsrecognizing himhad asked him if he wished to see Monsieur or
MadameRaoul had scarcely answered himbut had sunk down upon a bench
near the velvet doorwaylooking at a clockwhich had stopped for nearly
an hour. The servant had passed onand anotherbetter acquainted with
himhad come upand interrogated Raoul whether he should inform M. de
Guiche of his being there. This name did not even arouse the
recollections of Raoul. The persistent servant went on to relate that De
Guiche had just invented a new game of lotteryand was teaching it to
the ladies. Raoulopening his large eyeslike the absent man in
Theophrastusmade no answerbut his sadness increased two shades. With
his head hanging downhis limbs relaxedhis mouth half open for the
escape of his sighsRaoul remainedthus forgottenin the ante-chamber
when all at once a lady's robe passedrubbing against the doors of a
side salonwhich opened on the gallery. A ladyyoungprettyand gay
scolding an officer of the householdentered by that wayand expressed
herself with much vivacity. The officer replied in calm but firm
sentences; it was rather a little love pet than a quarrel of courtiers
and was terminated by a kiss on the fingers of the lady. Suddenlyon
perceiving Raoulthe lady became silentand pushing away the officer:

Make your escape, Malicorne,said she; "I did not think there was any
one here. I shall curse youif they have either heard or seen us!"

Malicorne hastened away. The young lady advanced behind Raouland
stretching her joyous face over him as he lay:

Monsieur is a gallant man,said sheand no doubt -

She here interrupted herself by uttering a cry. "Raoul!" said she
blushing.

Mademoiselle de Montalais!said Raoulpaler than death.

He rose unsteadilyand tried to make his way across the slippery mosaic
of the floor; but she had comprehended that savage and cruel grief; she


felt that in the flight of Raoul there was an accusation of herself. A
womanever vigilantshe did not think she ought to let the opportunity
slip of making good her justification; but Raoulthough stopped by her
in the middle of the gallerydid not seem disposed to surrender without
a combat. He took it up in a tone so cold and embarrassedthat if they
had been thus surprisedthe whole court would have no doubt about the
proceedings of Mademoiselle de Montalais.

Ah! monsieur,said she with disdainwhat you are doing is very
unworthy of a gentleman. My heart inclines me to speak to you; you
compromise me by a reception almost uncivil; you are wrong, monsieur; and
you confound your friends with enemies. Farewell!

Raoul had sworn never to speak of Louisenever even to look at those who
might have seen Louise; he was going into another worldthat he might
never meet with anything Louise had seenor even touched. But after the
first shock of his prideafter having had a glimpse of Montalaisthe
companion of Louise - Montalaiswho reminded him of the turret of Blois
and the joys of youth - all his reason faded away.

Pardon me, mademoiselle; it enters not, it cannot enter into my thoughts
to be uncivil.

Do you wish to speak to me?said shewith the smile of former days.
Well! come somewhere else; for we may be surprised.

Oh!' said he.

She looked at the clock, doubtingly, then, having reflected:

In my apartment said she, we shall have an hour to ourselves." And
taking her courselighter than a fairyshe ran up to her chamber
followed by Raoul. Shutting the doorand placing in the hands of her
_cameriste_ the mantle she had held upon her arm:

You were seeking M. de Guiche, were you not?said she to Raoul.

Yes, mademoiselle.

I will go and ask him to come up here, presently, after I have spoken to
you.

Do so, mademoiselle.

Are you angry with me?

Raoul looked at her for a momentthencasting down his eyesYes,
said he.

You think I was concerned in the plot which brought about the rupture,
do you not?

Rupture!said hewith bitterness. "Oh! mademoisellethere can be no
rupture where there has been no love."

You are in error,replied Montalais; "Louise did love you."

Raoul started.

Not with love, I know; but she liked you, and you ought to have married
her before you set out for London.

Raoul broke into a sinister laughwhich made Montalais shudder.


You tell me that very much at your ease, mademoiselle. Do people marry
whom they like? You forget that the king then kept for himself as his
mistress her of whom we are speaking.

Listen,said the young womanpressing the hands of Raoul in her own
you were wrong in every way; a man of your age ought never to leave a
woman of hers alone.

There is no longer any faith in the world, then,said Raoul.

No, vicomte,said Montalaisquietly. "Neverthelesslet me tell you
thatifinstead of loving Louise coldly and philosophicallyyou had
endeavored to awaken her to love - "

Enough, I pray you, mademoiselle,said Raoul. "I feel as though you
are allof both sexesof a different age from me. You can laughand
you can banter agreeably. ImademoiselleI loved Mademoiselle de - "
Raoul could not pronounce her name- "I loved her well! I put my faith
in her - now I am quits by loving her no longer."

Oh, vicomte!said Montalaispointing to his reflection in a lookingglass.


I know what you mean, mademoiselle; I am much altered, am I not? Well!
Do you know why? Because my face is the mirror of my heart, the outer
surface changed to match the mind within.

You are consoled, then?said Montalaissharply.

No, I shall never be consoled.

I don't understand you, M. de Bragelonne.

I care but little for that. I do not quite understand myself.

You have not even tried to speak to Louise?

Who! I?exclaimed the young manwith eyes flashing fire; "I! - Why do
you not advise me to marry her? Perhaps the king would consent now."
And he rose from his chair full of anger.

I see,said Montalaisthat you are not cured, and that Louise has one
enemy the more.

One enemy the more!

Yes; favorites are but little beloved at the court of France.

Oh! while she has her lover to protect her, is not that enough? She has
chosen him of such a quality that her enemies cannot prevail against
her.Butstopping all at onceAnd then she has you for a friend,
mademoiselle,added hewith a shade of irony which did not glide off
the cuirass.

Who! I? - Oh, no! I am no longer one of those whom Mademoiselle de la
Valliere condescends to look upon; but -

This _but_so big with menace and with storm; this _but_which made the
heart of Raoul beatsuch griefs did it presage for her whom lately he
loved so dearly; this terrible _but_so significant in a woman like
Montalaiswas interrupted by a moderately loud noise heard by the
speakers proceeding from the alcove behind the wainscoting. Montalais
turned to listenand Raoul was already risingwhen a lady entered the
room quietly by the secret doorwhich she closed after her.


Madame!exclaimed Raoulon recognizing the sister-in-law of the king.

Stupid wretch!murmured Montalaisthrowing herselfbut too late
before the princessI have been mistaken in an hour!She had
howevertime to warn the princesswho was walking towards Raoul.

M. de Bragelonne, Madame,and at these words the princess drew back
uttering a cry in her turn.

Your royal highness,said Montalaiswith volubilityis kind enough
to think of this lottery, and -

The princess began to lose countenance. Raoul hastened his departure
without divining allbut he felt that he was in the way. Madame was
preparing a word of transition to recover herselfwhen a closet opened
in front of the alcoveand M. de Guiche issuedall radiantalso from
that closet. The palest of the fourwe must admitwas still Raoul.
The princesshoweverwas near faintingand was obliged to lean upon
the foot of the bed for support. No one ventured to support her. This
scene occupied several minutes of terrible suspense. But Raoul broke
it. He went up to the countwhose inexpressible emotion made his knees
trembleand taking his handDear count,said hetell Madame I am
too unhappy not to merit pardon; tell her also that I have loved in the
course of my life, and that the horror of the treachery that has been
practiced on me renders me inexorable towards all other treachery that
may be committed around me. This is why, mademoiselle,said he
smiling to MontalaisI never would divulge the secret of the visits of
my friend to your apartment. Obtain from Madame - from Madame, who is so
clement and so generous, - obtain her pardon for you whom she has just
surprised also. You are both free, love each other, be happy!

The princess felt for a moment a despair that cannot be described; it was
repugnant to hernotwithstanding the exquisite delicacy which Raoul had
exhibitedto feel herself at the mercy of one who had discovered such an
indiscretion. It was equally repugnant to her to accept the evasion
offered by this delicate deception. Agitatednervousshe struggled
against the double stings of these two troubles. Raoul comprehended her
positionand came once more to her aid. Bending his knee before her:
Madame!said hein a low voicein two days I shall be far from
Paris; in a fortnight I shall be far from France, where I shall never be
seen again.

Are you going away, then?said shewith great delight.

With M. de Beaufort.

Into Africa!cried De Guichein his turn. "YouRaoul - oh! my friend

-into Africawhere everybody dies!"
And forgetting everythingforgetting that that forgetfulness itself
compromised the princess more eloquently than his presenceIngrate!
said heand you have not even consulted me!And he embraced him;
during which time Montalais had led away Madameand disappeared herself.

Raoul passed his hand over his browand saidwith a smileI have been
dreaming!Then warmly to Guichewho by degrees absorbed himMy
friend,said heI conceal nothing from you, who are the elected of my
heart. I am going to seek death in yonder country; your secret will not
remain in my breast more than a year.

Oh, Raoul! a man!

Do you know what is my thought, count? This is it - I shall live more


vividly, being buried beneath the earth, than I have lived for this month
past. We are Christians, my friend, and if such sufferings were to
continue, I would not be answerable for the safety of my soul.

De Guiche was anxious to raise objections.

Not one word more on my account,said Raoul; "but advice to youdear
friend; what I am going to say to you is of much greater importance."

What is that?

Without doubt you risk much more than I do, because you love.

Oh!

It is a joy so sweet to me to be able to speak to you thus! Well, then,
De Guiche, beware of Montalais.

What! of that kind friend?

She was the friend of - her you know of. She ruined her by pride.

You are mistaken.

And now, when she has ruined her, she would ravish from her the only
thing that renders that woman excusable in my eyes.

What is that?

Her love.

What do you mean by that?

I mean that there is a plot formed against her who is the mistress of
the king - a plot formed in the very house of Madame.

Can you think so?

I am certain of it.

By Montalais?

Take her as the least dangerous of the enemies I dread for - the other!

Explain yourself clearly, my friend; and if I can understand you -

In two words. Madame has been long jealous of the king.

I know she has -

Oh! fear nothing - you are beloved - you are beloved, count; do you feel
the value of these three words? They signify that you can raise your
head, that you can sleep tranquilly, that you can thank God every minute
of you life. You are beloved; that signifies that you may hear
everything, even the counsel of a friend who wishes to preserve your
happiness. You are beloved, De Guiche, you are beloved! You do not
endure those atrocious nights, those nights without end, which, with arid
eye and fainting heart, others pass through who are destined to die. You
will live long, if you act like the miser who, bit by bit, crumb by
crumb, collects and heaps up diamonds and gold. You are beloved! - allow
me to tell you what you must do that you may be beloved forever.

De Guiche contemplated for some time this unfortunate young manhalf mad
with despairtill there passed through his heart something like remorse


at his own happiness. Raoul suppressed his feverish excitementto
assume the voice and countenance of an impassible man.

They will make her, whose name I should wish still to be able to
pronounce - they will make her suffer. Swear to me that you will not
second them in anything - but that you will defend her when possible, as
I would have done myself.

I swear I will,replied De Guiche.

And,continued Raoulsome day, when you shall have rendered her a
great service - some day when she shall thank you, promise me to say
these words to her - 'I have done you this kindness, madame, at the warm
request of M. de Bragelonne, whom you so deeply injured.'

I swear I will,murmured De Guiche.

That is all. Adieu! I set out to-morrow, or the day after, for
Toulon. If you have a few hours to spare, give them to me.

All! all!cried the young man.

Thank you!

And what are you going to do now?

I am going to meet M. le comte at Planchet's residence, where we hope to
find M. d'Artagnan.

M. d'Artagnan?

Yes, I wish to embrace him before my departure. He is a brave man, who
loves me dearly. Farewell, my friend; you are expected, no doubt; you
will find me, when you wish, at the lodgings of the comte. Farewell!

The two young men embraced. Those who chanced to see them both thus
would not have hesitated to saypointing to RaoulThat is the happy
man!

Chapter XXIX:
Planchet's Inventory.

Athosduring the visit made to the Luxembourg by Raoulhad gone to
Planchet's residence to inquire after D'Artagnan. The comteon arriving
at the Rue des Lombardsfound the shop of the grocer in great confusion;
but it was not the encumberment of a lucky saleor that of an arrival of
goods. Planchet was not enthronedas usualon sacks and barrels. No.
A young man with a pen behind his earand another with an account-book
in his handwere setting down a number of figureswhilst a third
counted and weighed. An inventory was being taken. Athoswho had no
knowledge of commercial mattersfelt himself a little embarrassed by
material obstacles and the majesty of those who were thus employed. He
saw several customers sent awayand asked himself whether hewho came
to buy nothingwould not be more properly deemed importunate. He
therefore asked very politely if he could see M. Planchet. The reply
quite carelessly givenwas that M. Planchet was packing his trunks.
These words surprised Athos. "What! his trunks?" said he; "is M.
Planchet going away?"

Yes, monsieur, directly.

Then, if you please, inform him that M. le Comte de la Fere desires to
speak to him for a moment.


At the mention of the comte's nameone of the young menno doubt
accustomed to hear it pronounced with respectimmediately went to inform
Planchet. It was at this moment that Raoulafter his painful scene with
Montalais and De Guichearrived at the grocer's house. Planchet left
his job directly he received the comte's message.

Ah! monsieur le comte!exclaimed hehow glad I am to see you! What
good star brings you here?

My dear Planchet,said Athospressing the hand of his sonwhose sad
look he silently observed- "we are come to learn of you - But in what
confusion do I find you! You are as white as a miller; where have you
been rummaging?"

Ah, _diable!_ take care, monsieur; don't come near me till I have well
shaken myself.

What for? Flour or dust only whiten.

No, no; what you see on my arms is arsenic.

Arsenic?

Yes; I am taking my precautions against rats.

Ay, I suppose in an establishment like this, rats play a conspicuous
part.

It is not with this establishment I concern myself, monsieur le comte.
The rats have robbed me of more here than they will ever rob me of again.

What do you mean?

Why, you may have observed, monsieur, my inventory is being taken.

Are you leaving trade, then?

Eh! _mon Dieu!_ yes. I have disposed of my business to one of my young
men.

Bah! you are rich, then, I suppose?

Monsieur, I have taken a dislike to the city; I don't know whether it is
because I am growing old, and as M. d'Artagnan one day said, when we grow
old we more often think of the adventures of our youth; but for some time
past I have felt myself attracted towards the country and gardening. I
was a countryman formerly.And Planchet marked this confession with a
rather pretentious laugh for a man making profession of humility.

Athos made a gesture of approvaland then added: "You are going to buy
an estatethen?"

I have bought one, monsieur.

Ah! that is still better.

A little house at Fontainebleau, with something like twenty acres of
land round it.

Very well, Planchet! Accept my compliments on your acquisition.

But, monsieur, we are not comfortable here; the cursed dust makes you
cough. _Corbleu!_ I do not wish to poison the most worthy gentleman in


the kingdom.

Athos did not smile at this little pleasantry which Planchet had aimed at
himin order to try his strength in mundane facetiousness.

Yes,said Athoslet us have a little talk by ourselves - in your own
room, for example. You have a room, have you not?

Certainly, monsieur le comte.

Upstairs, perhaps?And Athosseeing Planchet a little embarrassed
wished to relieve him by going first.

It is - but - said Planchethesitating.

Athos was mistaken in the cause of this hesitationandattributing it
to a fear the grocer might have of offering humble hospitalityNever
mind, never mind,said hestill going upthe dwelling of a tradesman
in this quarter is not expected to be a palace. Come on.

Raoul nimbly preceded himand entered first. Two cries were heard
simultaneously - we may say three. One of these cries dominated the
others; it emanated from a woman. Another proceeded from the mouth of
Raoul; it was an exclamation of surprise. He had no sooner uttered it
than he shut the door sharply. The third was from fright; it came from
Planchet.

I ask your pardon!added he; "madame is dressing."

Raoul hadno doubtseen that what Planchet said was truefor he turned
round to go downstairs again.

Madame - said Athos. "Oh! pardon mePlanchetI did not know that
you had upstairs - "

It is Truchen,added Planchetblushing a little.

It is whoever you please, my good Planchet; but pardon my rudeness.

No, no; go up now, gentlemen.

We will do no such thing,said Athos.

Oh! madame, having notice, has had time -

No, Planchet; farewell!

Eh, gentlemen! you would not disoblige me by thus standing on the
staircase, or by going away without having sat down.

If we had known you had a lady upstairs,replied Athoswith his
customary coolnesswe would have asked permission to pay our respects
to her.

Planchet was so disconcerted by this little extravagancethat he forced
the passageand himself opened the door to admit the comte and his son.
Truchen was quite dressed: in the costume of the shopkeeper's wiferich
yet coquettish; German eyes attacking French eyes. She left the
apartment after two courtesiesand went down into the shop - but not
without having listened at the doorto know what Planchet's gentlemen
visitors would say of her. Athos suspected thatand therefore turned
the conversation accordingly. Plancheton his partwas burning to give
explanationswhich Athos avoided. Butas certain tenacities are
stronger than othersAthos was forced to hear Planchet recite his idyls


of felicitytranslated into a language more chaste than that of Longus.
So Planchet related how Truchen had charmed the years of his advancing
ageand brought good luck to his businessas Ruth did to Boaz.

You want nothing now, then, but heirs to your property.

If I had one he would have three hundred thousand livres,said Planchet.

Humph! you must have one, then,said Athosphlegmaticallyif only to
prevent your little fortune being lost.

This word _little fortune_ placed Planchet in his ranklike the voice of
the sergeant when Planchet was but a _piqueur_ in the regiment of
Piedmontin which Rochefort had placed him. Athos perceived that the
grocer would marry Truchenandin spite of fateestablish a family.
This appeared the more evident to him when he learned that the young man
to whom Planchet was selling the business was her cousin. Having heard
all that was necessary of the happy prospects of the retiring grocer
What is M. d'Artagnan about?said he; "he is not at the Louvre."

Ah! monsieur le comte, Monsieur d'Artagnan has disappeared.

Disappeared!said Athosin surprise.

Oh! monsieur, we know what that means.

But _I_ do not know.

Whenever M. d'Artagnan disappears it is always for some mission or some
great affair.

Has he said anything to you about it?

Never.

You were acquainted with his departure for England formerly, were you
not?

On account of the speculation.said Planchetheedlessly.

The speculation!

I mean - interrupted Planchetquite confused.

Well, well; neither your affairs nor those of your master are in
question; the interest we take in him alone has induced me to apply to
you. Since the captain of the musketeers is not here, and as we cannot
learn from you where we are likely to find M. d'Artagnan, we will take
our leave of you. _Au revoir_, Planchet, _au revoir_. Let us be gone,
Raoul.

Monsieur le comte, I wish I were able to tell you -

Oh, not at all; I am not the man to reproach a servant with discretion.

This word "servant" struck rudely on the ears of the _demi-millionnaire_
Planchetbut natural respect and _bonhomie_ prevailed over pride.
There is nothing indiscreet in telling you, monsieur le comte, M.
d'Artagnan came here the other day -

Aha?

And remained several hours consulting a geographical chart.


You are right, then, my friend; say no more about it.

And the chart is there as a proof,added Planchetwho went to fetch
from the neighboring wallwhere it was suspended by a twistforming a
triangle with the bar of the window to which it was fastenedthe plan
consulted by the captain on his last visit to Planchet. This planwhich
he brought to the comtewas a map of Franceupon which the practiced
eye of that gentleman discovered an itinerarymarked out with small
pins; wherever a pin was missinga hole denoted its having been there.
Athosby following with his eye the pins and holessaw that D'Artagnan
had taken the direction of the southand gone as far as the
Mediterraneantowards Toulon. It was near Cannes that the marks and the
punctured places ceased. The Comte de la Fere puzzled his brains for
some timeto divine what the musketeer could be going to do at Cannes
and what motive could have led him to examine the banks of the Var. The
reflections of Athos suggested nothing. His accustomed perspicacity was
at fault. Raoul's researches were not more successful than his father's.

Never mind,said the young man to the comtewho silentlyand with his
fingerhad made him understand the route of D'Artagnan; "we must confess
that there is a Providence always occupied in connecting our destiny with
that of M. d'Artagnan. There he is on the coast of Cannesand you
monsieurwillat leastconduct me as far as Toulon. Be assured that
we shall meet with him more easily upon our route than on this map."

Thentaking leave of Planchetwho was scolding his shopmeneven the
cousin of Truchenhis successorthe gentlemen set out to pay a visit to

M. de Beaufort. On leaving the grocer's shopthey saw a coachthe
future depository of the charms of Mademoiselle Truchen and Planchet's
bags of crowns.
Every one journeys towards happiness by the route he chooses,said
Raoulin a melancholy tone.


Road to Fontainebleau!cried Planchet to his coachman.


Chapter XXX:
The Inventory of M. de Beaufort.


To have talked of D'Artagnan with Planchetto have seen Planchet quit
Paris to bury himself in his country retreathad been for Athos and his
son like a last farewell to the noise of the capital - to their life of
former days. Whatin factdid these men leave behind them - one of
whom had exhausted the past age in gloryand the otherthe present age
in misfortune? Evidently neither of them had anything to ask of his
contemporaries. They had only to pay a visit to M. de Beaufortand
arrange with him the particulars of departure. The duke was lodged
magnificently in Paris. He had one of those superb establishments
pertaining to great fortunesthe like of which certain old men
remembered to have seen in all their glory in the times of wasteful
liberality of Henry III.'s reign. Thenreallyseveral great nobles
were richer than the king. They knew itused itand never deprived
themselves of the pleasure of humiliating his royal majesty when they had
an opportunity. It was this egotistical aristocracy Richelieu had
constrained to contributewith its bloodits purseand its dutiesto
what was from his time styled the king's service. From Louis XI. - that
terrible mower-down of the great - to Richelieuhow many families had
raised their heads! How manyfrom Richelieu to Louis XIV.had bowed
their headsnever to raise them again! But M. de Beaufort was born a
princeand of a blood which is not shed upon scaffoldsunless by the
decree of peoples- a prince who had kept up a grand style of living.
How did he maintain his horseshis peopleand his table? Nobody knew;
himself less than others. Only there were then privileges for the sons



of kingsto whom nobody refused to become a creditorwhether from
respect or the persuasion that they would some day be paid.

Athos and Raoul found the mansion of the duke in as much confusion as
that of Planchet. The dukelikewisewas making his inventory; that is
to sayhe was distributing to his friends everything of value he had in
his house. Owing nearly two millions - an enormous amount in those days

-M. de Beaufort had calculated that he could not set out for Africa
without a good round sumandin order to find that sumhe was
distributing to his old creditors platearmsjewelsand furniture
which was more magnificent in selling itand brought him back double.
In facthow could a man to whom ten thousand livres were owingrefuse
to carry away a present worth six thousandenhanced in estimation from
having belonged to a descendant of Henry IV.? And howafter having
carried away that presentcould he refuse ten thousand livres more to
this generous noble? Thisthenwas what had happened. The duke had no
longer a dwelling-house - that had become useless to an admiral whose
place of residence is his ship; he had no longer need of superfluous
armswhen he was placed amidst his cannons; no more jewelswhich the
sea might rob him of; but he had three or four hundred thousand crowns
fresh in his coffers. And throughout the house there was a joyous
movement of people who believed they were plundering monseigneur. The
prince hadin a supreme degreethe art of making happy the creditors
most to be pitied. Every distressed manevery empty pursefound in him
patience and sympathy for his position. To some he saidI wish I had
what _you_ have; I would give it you.And to othersI have but this
silver ewer; it is worth at least five hundred livres, - take it.The
effect of which was - so truly is courtesy a current payment - that the
prince constantly found means to renew his creditors. This time he used
no ceremony; it might be called a general pillage. He gave up
everything. The Oriental fable of the poor Arab who carried away from
the pillage of palace a kettle at the bottom of which was concealed a bag
of goldand whom everybody allowed to pass without jealousy- this
fable had become a truth in the prince's mansion. Many contractors paid
themselves upon the offices of the duke. Thusthe provision department
who plundered the clothes-presses and the harness-roomsattached very
little value to things which tailors and saddlers set great store by.
Anxious to carry home to their wives presents given them by monseigneur
many were seen bounding joyously alongunder the weight of earthen jars
and bottlesgloriously stamped with the arms of the prince. M. de
Beaufort finished by giving away his horses and the hay from his lofts.
He made more than thirty happy with kitchen utensils; and thirty more
with the contents of his cellar. Still further; all these people went
away with the conviction that M. de Beaufort only acted in this manner to
prepare for a new fortune concealed beneath the Arabs' tents. They
repeated to each otherwhile pillaging his hotelthat he was sent to
Gigelli by the king to reconstruct his lost fortunes; that the treasures
of Africa would be equally divided between the admiral and the king of
France; that these treasures consisted in mines of diamondsor other
fabulous stones; the gold and silver mines of Mount Atlas did not even
obtain the honor of being named. In addition to the mines to be worked –
which could not be begun till after the campaign - there would be the
booty made by the army. M. de Beaufort would lay his hands on all the
riches pirates had robbed Christendom of since the battle of Lepanto.
The number of millions from these sources defied calculation. Whythen
should hewho was going in quest of such treasureset any store by the
poor utensils of his past life? And reciprocallywhy should they spare
the property of him who spared it so little himself?
Such was the position of affairs. Athoswith his piercing practiced
glancesaw what was going on at once. He found the admiral of France a
little exaltedfor he was rising from a table of fifty coversat which
the guests had drunk long and deeply to the prosperity of the expedition;
at the conclusion of which repastthe remainswith the desserthad


been given to the servantsand the empty dishes and plates to the
curious. The prince was intoxicated with his ruin and his popularity at
one and the same time. He had drunk his old wine to the health of his
wine of the future. When he saw Athos and Raoul:

There is my aide-de-camp being brought to me!he cried. "Come hither
comte; come hithervicomte."

Athos tried to find a passage through the heaps of linen and plate.

Ah! step over, step over!said the dukeoffering a full glass to
Athos. The latter drank it; Raoul scarcely moistened his lips.

Here is your commission,said the prince to Raoul. "I had prepared it
reckoning upon you. You will go before me as far as Antibes."

Yes, monseigneur.

Here is the order.And De Beaufort gave Raoul the order. "Do you know
anything of the sea?"

Yes, monseigneur; I have traveled with M. le Prince.

That is well. All these barges and lighters must be in attendance to
form an escort and carry my provisions. The army must be prepared to
embark in a fortnight at the very latest.

That shall be done, monseigneur.

The present order gives you the right to visit and search all the isles
along the coast; you will there make the enrolments and levies you may
want for me.

Yes, monsieur le duc.

And you are an active man, and will work freely, you will spend much
money.

I hope not, monseigneur.

But I am sure you will. My intendant has prepared the orders of a
thousand livres, drawn upon the cities of the south; he will give you a
hundred of them. Now, dear vicomte, be gone.

Athos interrupted the prince. "Keep your moneymonseigneur; war is to
be waged among the Arabs with gold as well as lead."

I wish to try the contrary,replied the duke; "and then you are
acquainted with my ideas upon the expedition - plenty of noiseplenty of
fireandif so it must beI shall disappear in the smoke." Having
spoken thusM. de Beaufort began to laugh; but his mirth was not
reciprocated by Athos and Raoul. He perceived this at once. "Ah said
he, with the courteous egotism of his rank and age, you are such people
as a man should not see after dinner; you are coldstiffand dry when I
am all firesupplenessand wine. Nodevil take me! I should always
see you fastingvicomteand youcomteif you wear such a face as
thatyou shall see me no more."

He said thispressing the hand of Athoswho replied with a smile
Monseigneur, do not talk so grandly because you happen to have plenty of
money. I predict that within a month you will be dry, stiff, and cold,
in presence of your strong-box, and that then, having Raoul at your
elbow, fasting, you will be surprised to see him gay, animated, and
generous, because he will have some new crowns to offer you.


God grant it may be so!cried the delighted duke. "Comtestay with
me!"

No, I shall go with Raoul; the mission with which you charge him is a
troublesome and difficult one. Alone it would be too much for him to
execute. You do not observe, monseigneur, you have given him command of
the first order.

Bah!

And in your naval arrangements, too.

That may be true. But one finds that such fine young fellows as your
son generally do all that is required of them.

Monseigneur, I believe you will find nowhere so much zeal and
intelligence, so much real bravery, as in Raoul; but if he failed to
arrange your embarkation, you would only meet the fate that you deserve.

Humph! you are scolding me, then.

Monseigneur, to provision a fleet, to assemble a flotilla, to enroll
your maritime force, would take an admiral a year. Raoul is a cavalry
officer, and you allow him a fortnight!

I tell you he will do it.

He may; but I will go and help him.

To be sure you will; I reckoned upon you, and still further believe that
when we are once at Toulon you will not let him depart alone.

Oh!said Athosshaking his head.

Patience! patience!

Monseigneur, permit us to take our leave.

Begone, then, and may my good luck attend you.

Adieu! monseigneur; and may your own good luck attend you likewise.

Here is an expedition admirably commenced!said Athos to his son. "No
provisions - no store flotilla! What can be donethus?"

Humph!murmured Raoul; "if all are going to do as I amprovisions will
not be wanted."

Monsieur,replied Athossternlydo not be unjust and senseless in
your egotism, or your grief, whichever you please to call it. If you set
out for this war solely with the intention of getting killed therein, you
stand in need of nobody, and it was scarcely worth while to recommend you
to M. de Beaufort. But when you have been introduced to the prime
commandant - when you have accepted the responsibility of a post in his
army, the question is no longer about _you_, but about all those poor
soldiers, who, as well as you, have hearts and bodies, who will weep for
their country and endure all the necessities of their condition.
Remember, Raoul, that officers are ministers as useful to the world as
priests, and that they ought to have more charity.

Monsieur, I know it and have practiced it; I would have continued to do
so still, but -


You forget also that you are of a country that is proud of its military
glory; go and die if you like, but do not die without honor and without
advantage to France. Cheer up, Raoul! do not let my words grieve you; I
love you, and wish to see you perfect.

I love your reproaches, monsieur,said the young manmildly; "they
alone may cure mebecause they prove to me that some one loves me still."

And now, Raoul, let us be off; the weather is so fine, the heavens so
clear, those heavens which we always find above our heads, which you will
see more clear still at Gigelli, and which will speak to you of me there,
as they speak to me here of God.

The two gentlemenafter having agreed on this pointtalked over the
wild freaks of the dukeconvinced that France would be served in a very
incomplete manneras regarded both spirit and practicein the ensuing
expedition; and having summed up the ducal policy under the one word
vanitythey set forwardin obedience rather to their will than
destiny. The sacrifice was half accomplished.

Chapter XXXI:
The Silver Dish.

The journey passed off pretty well. Athos and his son traversed France
at the rate of fifteen leagues per day; sometimes moresometimes less
according to the intensity of Raoul's grief. It took them a fortnight to
reach Toulonand they lost all traces of D'Artagnan at Antibes. They
were forced to believe that the captain of the musketeers was desirous of
preserving an incognito on his routefor Athos derived from his
inquiries an assurance that such a cavalier as he described had exchanged
his horse for a well-closed carriage on quitting Avignon. Raoul was much
affected at not meeting with D'Artagnan. His affectionate heart longed
to take a farewell and received consolation from that heart of steel.
Athos knew from experience that D'Artagnan became impenetrable when
engaged in any serious affairwhether on his own account or on the
service of the king. He even feared to offend his friendor thwart him
by too pressing inquiries. And yet when Raoul commenced his labor of
classing the flotillaand got together the _chalands_ and lighters to
send them to Toulonone of the fishermen told the comte that his boat
had been laid up to refit since a trip he had made on account of a
gentleman who was in great haste to embark. Athosbelieving that this
man was telling a falsehood in order to be left at liberty to fishand
so gain more money when all his companions were goneinsisted upon
having the details. The fisherman informed him that six days previously
a man had come in the night to hire his boatfor the purpose of visiting
the island of St. Honnorat. The price was agreed uponbut the gentleman
had arrived with an immense carriage casewhich he insisted upon
embarkingin spite of the many difficulties that opposed the operation.
The fisherman wished to retract. He had even threatenedbut his threats
had procured him nothing but a shower of blows from the gentleman's cane
which fell upon his shoulders sharp and long. Swearing and grumblinghe
had recourse to the syndic of his brotherhood at Antibeswho administer
justice among themselves and protect each other; but the gentleman had
exhibited a certain paperat sight of which the syndicbowing to the
very groundenjoined obedience from the fishermanand abused him for
having been refractory. They then departed with the freight.

But all this does not tell us,said Athoshow you injured your boat.

This is the way. I was steering towards St. Honnorat as the gentleman
desired me; but he changed his mind, and pretended that I could not pass
to the south of the abbey.


And why not?

Because, monsieur, there is in front of the square tower of the
Benedictines, towards the southern point, the bank of the _Moines_.

A rock?asked Athos.

Level with the water, but below water; a dangerous passage, yet one I
have cleared a thousand times; the gentleman required me to land him at
Sainte-Marguerite's.

Well?

Well, monsieur!cried the fishermanwith his _Provencal_ accenta
man is a sailor, or he is not; he knows his course, or he is nothing but
a fresh-water lubber. I was obstinate, and wished to try the channel.
The gentleman took me by the collar, and told me quietly he would
strangle me. My mate armed himself with a hatchet, and so did I. We had
the affront of the night before to pay him out for. But the gentleman
drew his sword, and used it in such an astonishingly rapid manner, that
we neither of us could get near him. I was about to hurl my hatchet at
his head, and I had a right to do so, hadn't I, monsieur? for a sailor
aboard is master, as a citizen is in his chamber; I was going, then, in
self-defense, to cut the gentleman in two, when, all at once - believe me
or not, monsieur - the great carriage case opened of itself, I don't know
how, and there came out of it a sort of a phantom, his head covered with
a black helmet and a black mask, something terrible to look upon, which
came towards me threatening with its fist.

And that was - said Athos.

That was the devil, monsieur; for the gentleman, with great glee, cried
out, on seeing him: 'Ah! thank you, monseigneur!'

A most strange story!murmured the comtelooking at Raoul.

And what did you do?asked the latter of the fisherman.

You must know, monsieur, that two poor men, such as we are, could be no
match for two gentlemen; but when one of them turned out to be the devil,
we had no earthly chance! My companion and I did not stop to consult one
another; we made but one jump into the sea, for we were within seven or
eight hundred feet of the shore.

Well, and then?

Why, and then, monseigneur, as there was a little wind from the
southwest, the boat drifted into the sands of Sainte-Marguerite's.

Oh! - but the travelers?

Bah! you need not be uneasy about them! It was pretty plain that one
was the devil, and protected the other; for when we recovered the boat,
after she got afloat again, instead of finding these two creatures
injured by the shock, we found nothing, not even the carriage or the
case.

Very strange! very strange!repeated the comte. "But after thatwhat
did you domy friend?"

I made my complaint to the governor of Sainte-Marguerite's, who brought
my finger under my nose by telling me if I plagued him with such silly
stories he would have me flogged.


What! did the governor himself say so?

Yes, monsieur; and yet my boat was injured, seriously injured, for the
prow is left upon the point of Sainte-Marguerite's, and the carpenter
asks a hundred and twenty livres to repair it.

Very well,replied Raoul; "you will be exempted from the service. Go."

We will go to Sainte-Marguerite's, shall we?said the comte to
Bragelonneas the man walked away.

Yes, monsieur, for there is something to be cleared up; that man does
not seem to me to have told the truth.

Nor to me either, Raoul. The story of the masked man and the carriage
having disappeared, may be told to conceal some violence these fellows
have committed upon their passengers in the open sea, to punish him for
his persistence in embarking.

I formed the same suspicion; the carriage was more likely to contain
property than a man.

We shall see to that, Raoul. The gentleman very much resembles
D'Artagnan; I recognize his methods of proceeding. Alas! we are no
longer the young invincibles of former days. Who knows whether the
hatchet or the iron bar of this miserable coaster has not succeeded in
doing that which the best blades of Europe, balls, and bullets have not
been able to do in forty years?

That same day they set out for Sainte-Marguerite'son board a _chassemaree_
come from Toulon under orders. The impression they experienced on
landing was a singularly pleasing one. The island seemed loaded with
flowers and fruits. In its cultivated part it served as a garden for the
governor. Orangepomegranateand fig trees bent beneath the weight of
their golden or purple fruits. All round this gardenin the
uncultivated partsred partridges ran about in conveys among the
brambles and tufts of junipersand at every step of the comte and Raoul
a terrified rabbit quitted his thyme and heath to scuttle away to the
burrow. In factthis fortunate isle was uninhabited. Flatoffering
nothing but a tiny bay for the convenience of embarkationand under the
protection of the governorwho went shares with themsmugglers made use
of it as a provisional _entrepot_at the expense of not killing the game
or devastating the garden. With this compromisethe governor was in a
situation to be satisfied with a garrison of eight men to guard his
fortressin which twelve cannons accumulated coats of moldy green. The
governor was a sort of happy farmerharvesting winesfigsoiland
orangespreserving his citrons and _cedrates_ in the sun of his
casemates. The fortressencircled by a deep ditchits only guardian
arose like three heads upon turrets connected with each other by terraces
covered with moss.

Athos and Raoul wandered for some time round the fences of the garden
without finding any one to introduce them to the governor. They ended by
making their own way into the garden. It was at the hottest time of the
day. Each living thing sought its shelter under grass or stone. The
heavens spread their fiery veils as if to stifle all noisesto envelop
all existences; the rabbit under the broomthe fly under the leafslept
as the wave did beneath the heavens. Athos saw nothing living but a
soldierupon the terrace beneath the second and third courtwho was
carrying a basket of provisions on his head. This man returned almost
immediately without his basketand disappeared in the shade of his
sentry-box. Athos supposed he must have been carrying dinner to some
oneandafter having done soreturned to dine himself. All at once
they heard some one call outand raising their headsperceived in the


frame of the bars of the window something of a white colorlike a hand
that was waved backwards and forwards - something shininglike a
polished weapon struck by the rays of the sun. And before they were
able to ascertain what it wasa luminous trainaccompanied by a hissing
sound in the aircalled their attention from the donjon to the ground.
A second dull noise was heard from the ditchand Raoul ran to pick up a
silver plate which was rolling along the dry sand. The hand that had
thrown this plate made a sign to the two gentlemenand then
disappeared. Athos and Raoulapproaching each othercommenced an
attentive examination of the dusty plateand they discoveredin
characters traced upon the bottom of it with the point of a knifethis
inscription:

_I am the brother of the king of France - a prisoner to-day - a madman
to-morrow. French gentlemen and Christians, pray to God for the soul and
the reason of the son of your old rulers_.

The plate fell from the hands of Athos whilst Raoul was endeavoring to
make out the meaning of these dismal words. At the same moment they
heard a cry from the top of the donjon. Quick as lightning Raoul bent
down his headand forced down that of his father likewise. A musketbarrel
glittered from the crest of the wall. A white smoke floated like
a plume from the mouth of the musketand a ball was flattened against a
stone within six inches of the two gentlemen.

_Cordieu!_cried Athos. "Whatare people assassinated here? Come
downcowards as you are!"

Yes, come down!cried Raoulfuriously shaking his fist at the castle.

One of the assailants - he who was about to fire - replied to these cries
by an exclamation of surprise; andas his companionwho wished to
continue the attackhad re-seized his loaded muskethe who had cried
out threw up the weaponand the ball flew into the air. Athos and
Raoulseeing them disappear from the platformexpected they would come
down to themand waited with a firm demeanor. Five minutes had not
elapsedwhen a stroke upon a drum called the eight soldiers of the
garrison to armsand they showed themselves on the other side of the
ditch with their muskets in hand. At the head of these men was an
officerwhom Athos and Raoul recognized as the one who had fired the
first musket. The man ordered the soldiers to "make ready."

We are going to be shot!cried Raoul; "butsword in handat least
let us leap the ditch! We shall kill at least two of these scoundrels
when their muskets are empty." Andsuiting the action to the word
Raoul was springing forwardfollowed by Athoswhen a well-known voice
resounded behind themAthos! Raoul!

D'Artagnan!replied the two gentlemen.

Recover arms! _Mordioux!_cried the captain to the soldiers. "I was
sure I could not be mistaken!"

What is the meaning of this?asked Athos. "What! were we to be shot
without warning?"

It was I who was going to shoot you, and if the governor missed you, I
should not have missed you, my dear friends. How fortunate it is that I
am accustomed to take a long aim, instead of firing at the instant I
raise my weapon! I thought I recognized you. Ah! my dear friends, how
fortunate!And D'Artagnan wiped his browfor he had run fastand
emotion with him was not feigned.

How!said Athos. "And is the gentleman who fired at us the governor of


the fortress?"

In person.

And why did he fire at us? What have we done to him?

_Pardieu!_ You received what the prisoner threw to you?

That is true.

That plate - the prisoner has written something on it, has he not?

Yes.

Good heavens! I was afraid he had.

And D'Artagnanwith all the marks of mortal disquietudeseized the
plateto read the inscription. When he had read ita fearful pallor
spread across his countenance. "Oh! good heavens!" repeated he.
Silence! - Here is the governor.

And what will he do to us? Is it our fault?

It is true, then?said Athosin a subdued voice. "It is true?"

Silence! I tell you - silence! If he only believes you can read; if he
only suspects you have understood; I love you, my dear friends, I would
willingly be killed for you, but -

But - said Athos and Raoul.

But I could not save you from perpetual imprisonment if I saved you from
death. Silence, then! Silence again!

The governor came uphaving crossed the ditch upon a plank bridge.

Well!said he to D'Artagnanwhat stops us?

You are Spaniards - you do not understand a word of French,said the
captaineagerlyto his friends in a low voice.

Well!replied headdressing the governorI was right; these
gentlemen are two Spanish captains with whom I was acquainted at Ypres,
last year; they don't know a word of French.

Ah!said the governorsharply. "And yet they were trying to read the
inscription on the plate."

D'Artagnan took it out of his handseffacing the characters with the
point of his sword.

How!cried the governorwhat are you doing? I cannot read them now!

It is a state secret,replied D'Artagnanbluntly; "and as you know
thataccording to the king's ordersit is under the penalty of death
any one should penetrate itI willif you likeallow you to read it
and have you shot immediately afterwards."

During this apostrophe - half serioushalf ironical - Athos and Raoul
preserved the coolestmost unconcerned silence.

But, is it possible,said the governorthat these gentlemen do not
comprehend at least some words?


Suppose they do! If they do understand a few spoken words, it does not
follow that they should understand what is written. They cannot even
read Spanish. A noble Spaniard, remember, ought never to know how to
read.

The governor was obliged to be satisfied with these explanationsbut he
was still tenacious. "Invite these gentlemen to come to the fortress
said he.

That I will willingly do. I was about to propose it to you." The fact
isthe captain had quite another ideaand would have wished his friends
a hundred leagues off. But he was obliged to make the best of it. He
addressed the two gentlemen in Spanishgiving them a polite invitation
which they accepted. They all turned towards the entrance of the fort
andthe incident being at an endthe eight soldiers returned to their
delightful leisurefor a moment disturbed by this unexpected adventure.

Chapter XXXII:
Captive and Jailers.

When they had entered the fortand whilst the governor was making some
preparations for the reception of his guestsCome,said Athoslet us
have a word of explanation whilst we are alone.

It is simply this,replied the musketeer. "I have conducted hither a
prisonerwho the king commands shall not be seen. You came herehe has
thrown something to you through the lattice of his window; I was at
dinner with the governorI saw the object thrownand I saw Raoul pick
it up. It does not take long to understand this. I understood itand I
thought you in intelligence with my prisoner. And then - "

And then - you commanded us to be shot.

_Ma foi!_ I admit it; but, if I was the first to seize a musket,
fortunately, I was the last to take aim at you.

If you had killed me, D'Artagnan, I should have had the good fortune to
die for the royal house of France, and it would be an honor to die by
your hand - you, its noblest and most loyal defender.

What the devil, Athos, do you mean by the royal house?stammered
D'Artagnan. "You don't mean that youa well-informed and sensible man
can place any faith in the nonsense written by an idiot?"

I do believe in it.

With so much the more reason, my dear chevalier, from your having orders
to kill all those who do believe in it,said Raoul.

That is because,replied the captain of the musketeers - "because every
calumnyhowever absurd it may behas the almost certain chance of
becoming popular."

No, D'Artagnan,replied Athospromptly; "but because the king is not
willing that the secret of his family should transpire among the people
and cover with shame the executioners of the son of Louis XIII."

Do not talk in such a childish manner, Athos, or I shall begin to think
you have lost your senses. Besides, explain to me how it is possible
Louis XIII. should have a son in the Isle of Sainte-Marguerite.

A son whom you have brought hither masked, in a fishing-boat,said
Athos. "Why not?"


D'Artagnan was brought to a pause.

Oh!said he; "whence do you know that a fishing-boat - ?"

Brought you to Sainte-Marguerite's with the carriage containing the
prisoner - with a prisoner whom you styled monseigneur. Oh! I am
acquainted with all that,resumed the comte. D'Artagnan bit his
mustache.

If it were true,said hethat I had brought hither in a boat and with
a carriage a masked prisoner, nothing proves that this prisoner must be a
prince - a prince of the house of France.

Ask Aramis such riddles,replied Athoscoolly.

Aramis,cried the musketeerquite at a stand. "Have you seen Aramis?"

After his discomfiture at Vaux, yes; I have seen Aramis, a fugitive,
pursued, bewildered, ruined; and Aramis has told me enough to make me
believe in the complaints this unfortunate young prince cut upon the
bottom of the plate.

D'Artagnan's head sunk on his breast in some confusion. "This is the
way said he, in which God turns to nothing that which men call
wisdom! A fine secret must that be of which twelve or fifteen persons
hold the tattered fragments! Athoscursed be the chance which has
brought you face to face with me in this affair! for now - "

Well,said Athoswith his customary mild severityis your secret
lost because I know it? Consult your memory, my friend. Have I not
borne secrets heavier than this?

You have never borne one so dangerous,replied D'Artagnanin a tone of
sadness. "I have something like a sinister idea that all who are
concerned with this secret will dieand die unhappily."

The will of God be done!said Athosbut here is your governor.

D'Artagnan and his friends immediately resumed their parts. The
governorsuspicious and hardbehaved towards D'Artagnan with a
politeness almost amounting to obsequiousness. With respect to the
travelershe contented himself with offering good cheerand never
taking his eye from them. Athos and Raoul observed that he often tried
to embarrass them by sudden attacksor to catch them off their guard;
but neither the one nor the other gave him the least advantage. What
D'Artagnan had said was probableif the governor did not believe it to
be quite true. They rose from the table to repose awhile.

What is this man's name? I don't like the looks of him,said Athos to
D'Artagnan in Spanish.

De Saint-Mars,replied the captain.

He is, then, I suppose, the prince's jailer?

Eh! how can I tell? I may be kept at Sainte-Marguerite forever.

Oh! no, not you!

My friend, I am in the situation of a man who finds a treasure in the
midst of a desert. He would like to carry it away, but he cannot; he
would like to leave it, but he dares not. The king will not dare to
recall me, for no one else would serve him as faithfully as I do; he


regrets not having me near him, from being aware that no one would be of
so much service near his person as myself. But it will happen as it may
please God.

But,observed Raoulyour not being certain proves that your situation
here is provisional, and you will return to Paris?

Ask these gentlemen,interrupted the governorwhat was their purpose
in coming to Saint-Marguerite?

They came from learning there was a convent of Benedictines at Sainte-
Honnorat which is considered curious; and from being told there was
excellent shooting in the island.

That is quite at their service, as well as yours,replied Saint-Mars.

D'Artagnan politely thanked him.

When will they depart?added the governor.

To-morrow,replied D'Artagnan.

M. de Saint-Mars went to make his roundsand left D'Artagnan alone with
the pretended Spaniards.
Oh!exclaimed the musketeerhere is a life and a society that suits
me very little. I command this man, and he bores me, _mordioux!_ Come,
let us have a shot or two at the rabbits; the walk will be beautiful, and
not fatiguing. The whole island is but a league and a half in length,
with the breadth of a league; a real park. Let us try to amuse
ourselves.

As you please, D'Artagnan; not for the sake of amusing ourselves, but to
gain an opportunity for talking freely.

D'Artagnan made a sign to a soldierwho brought the gentlemen some guns
and then returned to the fort.

And now,said the musketeeranswer me the question put to you by that
black-looking Saint-Mars: what did you come to do at the Lerin Isles?

To bid you farewell.

Bid me farewell! What do you mean by that? Is Raoul going anywhere?

Yes.

Then I will lay a wager it is with M. de Beaufort.

With M. de Beaufort it is, my dear friend. You always guess correctly.

From habit.

Whilst the two friends were commencing their conversationRaoulwith
his head hanging down and his heart oppressedseated himself on a mossy
rockhis gun across his kneeslooking at the sea - looking at the
heavensand listening to the voice of his soul; he allowed the sportsmen
to attain a considerable distance from him. D'Artagnan remarked his
absence.

He has not recovered the blow?said he to Athos.

He is struck to death.


Oh! your fears exaggerate, I hope. Raoul is of a tempered nature.
Around all hearts as noble as his, there is a second envelope that forms
a cuirass. The first bleeds, the second resists.

No,replied AthosRaoul will die of it.

_Mordioux!_said D'Artagnanin a melancholy tone. And he did not add
a word to this exclamation. Thena minute afterWhy do you let him
go?

Because he insists on going.

And why do you not go with him?

Because I could not bear to see him die.

D'Artagnan looked his friend earnestly in the face. "You know one
thing continued the comte, leaning upon the arm of the captain; you
know that in the course of my life I have been afraid of but few things.
Well! I have an incessant gnawinginsurmountable fear that an hour will
come in which I shall hold the dead body of that boy in my arms."

Oh!murmured D'Artagnan; "oh!"

He will die, I know, I have a perfect conviction of that; but I would
not see him die.

How is this, Athos? you come and place yourself in the presence of the
bravest man, you say you have ever seen, of your own D'Artagnan, of that
man without an equal, as you formerly called him, and you come and tell
him, with your arms folded, that you are afraid of witnessing the death
of your son, you who have seen all that can be seen in this world! Why
have you this fear, Athos? Man upon this earth must expect everything,
and ought to face everything.

Listen to me, my friend. After having worn myself out upon this earth
of which you speak, I have preserved but two religions: that of life,
friendship, my duty as a father - that of eternity, love, and respect
for God. Now, I have within me the revelation that if God should decree
that my friend or my son should render up his last sigh in my presence –
oh! no, I cannot even tell you, D'Artagnan!

Speak, speak, tell me!

I am strong against everything, except against the death of those I
love. For that only there is no remedy. He who dies, gains; he who sees
others die, loses. No, this is it - to know that I should no more meet
on earth him whom I now behold with joy; to know that there would nowhere
be a D'Artagnan any more, nowhere again be a Raoul, oh! I am old, look
you, I have no longer courage; I pray God to spare me in my weakness; but
if he struck me so plainly and in that fashion, I should curse him. A
Christian gentleman ought not to curse his God, D'Artagnan; it is enough
to once have cursed a king!

Humph!sighed D'Artagnana little confused by this violent tempest of
grief.

Let me speak to him, Athos. Who knows?

Try, if you please, but I am convinced you will not succeed.

I will not attempt to console him. I will serve him.

You will?


Doubtless, I will. Do you think this would be the first time a woman
had repented of an infidelity? I will go to him, I tell you.

Athos shook his headand continued his walk aloneD'Artagnancutting
across the bramblesrejoined Raoul and held out his hand to him. "Well
Raoul! You have something to say to me?"

I have a kindness to ask of you,replied Bragelonne.

Ask it, then.

You will some day return to France?

I hope so.

Ought I to write to Mademoiselle de la Valliere?

No, you must not.

But I have many things to say to her.

Go and say them to her, then.

Never!

Pray, what virtue do you attribute to a letter, which your speech might
not possess?

Perhaps you are right.

She loves the king,said D'Artagnanbluntly; "and she is an honest
girl." Raoul started. "And youyou whom she abandonssheperhaps
loves better than she does the kingbut after another fashion."

D'Artagnan, do you believe she loves the king?

To idolatry. Her heart is inaccessible to any other feeling. You might
continue to live near her, and would be her best friend.

Ah!exclaimed Raoulwith a passionate burst of repugnance at such a
hideous hope.

Will you do so?

It would be base.

That is a very absurd word, which would lead me to think slightly of
your understanding. Please to understand, Raoul, that it is never base
to do that which is imposed upon us by a superior force. If your heart
says to you, 'Go there, or die,' why go, Raoul. Was she base or brave,
she whom you loved, in preferring the king to you, the king whom her
heart commanded her imperiously to prefer to you? No, she was the
bravest of women. Do, then, as she has done. Oblige yourself. Do you
know one thing of which I am sure, Raoul?

What is that?

Why, that by seeing her closely with the eyes of a jealous man -

Well?

Well! you would cease to love her.


Then I am decided, my dear D'Artagnan.

To set off to see her again?

No; to set off that I may _never_ see her again. I wish to love her
forever.

Ha! I must confess,replied the musketeerthat is a conclusion which
I was far from expecting.

This is what I wish, my friend. You will see her again, and you will
give her a letter which, if you think proper, will explain to her, as to
yourself, what is passing in my heart. Read it; I drew it up last
night. Something told me I should see you to-day.He held the letter
outand D'Artagnan read:

MADEMOISELLE, - You are not wrong in my eyes in not loving me. You have
only been guilty of one fault towards me, that of having left me to
believe you loved me. This error will cost me my life. I pardon you,
but I cannot pardon myself. It is said that happy lovers are deaf to the
sorrows of rejected lovers. It will not be so with you, who did not love
me, save with anxiety. I am sure that if I had persisted in endeavoring
to change that friendship into love, you would have yielded out of a fear
of bringing about my death, or lessening the esteem I had for you. It is
much more delightful to me to die, knowing that _you_ are free and
satisfied. How much, then, will you love me, when you will no longer
fear either my presence or reproaches? You will love me, because,
however charming a new love may appear to you, God has not made me in
anything inferior to him you have chosen, and because my devotedness, my
sacrifice, and my painful end will assure me, in your eyes, a certain
superiority over him. I have allowed to escape, in the candid credulity
of my heart, the treasure I possessed. Many people tell me that you
loved me enough to lead me to hope you would have loved me much. That
idea takes from my mind all bitterness, and leads me only to blame
myself. You will accept this last farewell, and you will bless me for
having taken refuge in the inviolable asylum where hatred is
extinguished, and where all love endures forever. Adieu, mademoiselle.
If your happiness could be purchased by the last drop of my blood, I
would shed that drop. I willingly make the sacrifice of it to my misery!
RAOULVICOTME DE BRAGELONNE."

The letter reads very well,said the captain. "I have only one fault to find
with it."

Tell me what that is!said Raoul.

Why, it is that it tells everything, except the thing which exhales,
like a mortal poison from your eyes and from your heart; except the
senseless love which still consumes you.Raoul grew palerbut
remained silent.

Why did you not write simply these words:

'MADEMOISELLE- Instead of cursing youI love you and I die.'"

That is true,exclaimed Raoulwith a sinister kind of joy.

And tearing the letter he had just taken backhe wrote the following
words upon a leaf of his tablets:

To procure the happiness of once more telling you I love you, I commit
the baseness of writing to you; and to punish myself for that baseness, I
die.And he signed it.


You will give her these tablets, captain, will you not?

When?asked the latter.

On the day,said Bragelonnepointing to the last sentenceon the day
when you can place a date under these words.And he sprang away quickly
to join Athoswho was returning with slow steps.

As they re-entered the fortthe sea rose with that rapidgusty
vehemence which characterizes the Mediterranean; the ill-humor of the
element became a tempest. Something shapelessand tossed about
violently by the wavesappeared just off the coast.

What is that?said Athos- "a wrecked boat?"

No, it is not a boat,said D'Artagnan.

Pardon me,said Raoulthere is a bark gaining the port rapidly.

Yes, there is a bark in the creek, which is prudently seeking shelter
here; but that which Athos points to in the sand is not a boat at all –
it has run aground.

Yes, yes, I see it.

It is the carriage, which I threw into the sea after landing the
prisoner.

Well!said Athosif you take my advice, D'Artagnan, you will burn
that carriage, in order that no vestige of it may remain, without which
the fishermen of Antibes, who have believed they had to do with the
devil, will endeavor to prove that your prisoner was but a man.

Your advice is good, Athos, and I will this night have it carried out,
or rather, I will carry it out myself; but let us go in, for the rain
falls heavily, and the lightning is terrific.

As they were passing over the ramparts to a gallery of which D'Artagnan
had the keythey saw M. de Saint-Mars directing his steps towards the
chamber inhabited by the prisoner. Upon a sign from D'Artagnanthey
concealed themselves in an angle of the staircase.

What is it?said Athos.

You will see. Look. The prisoner is returning from chapel.

And they sawby the red flashes of lightning against the violet fog
which the wind stamped upon the bank-ward skythey saw pass gravelyat
six paces behind the governora man clothed in black and masked by a
vizor of polished steelsoldered to a helmet of the same naturewhich
altogether enveloped the whole of his head. The fire of the heavens cast
red reflections on the polished surfaceand these reflectionsflying
off capriciouslyseemed to be angry looks launched by the unfortunate
instead of imprecations. In the middle of the gallerythe prisoner
stopped for a momentto contemplate the infinite horizonto respire the
sulphurous perfumes of the tempestto drink in thirstily the hot rain
and to breathe a sigh resembling a smothered groan.

Come on, monsieur,said Saint-Marssharplyto the prisonerfor he
already became uneasy at seeing him look so long beyond the walls.
Monsieur, come on!

Say monseigneur!cried Athosfrom his cornerwith a voice so solemn
and terriblethat the governor trembled from head to foot. Athos


insisted upon respect being paid to fallen majesty. The prisoner turned
round.

Who spoke?asked Saint-Mars.

It was I,replied D'Artagnanshowing himself promptly. "You know that
is the order."

Call me neither monsieur nor monseigneur,said the prisoner in his
turnin a voice that penetrated to the very soul of Raoul; "call me
ACCURSED!" He passed onand the iron door croaked after him.

There goes a truly unfortunate man!murmured the musketeer in a hollow
whisperpointing out to Raoul the chamber inhabited by the prince.

Chapter XXXIII:
Promises.

Scarcely had D'Artagnan re-entered his apartment with his two friends
when one of the soldiers of the fort came to inform him that the governor
was seeking him. The bark which Raoul had perceived at seaand which
appeared so eager to gain the portcame to Sainte-Marguerite with an
important dispatch for the captain of the musketeers. On opening it
D'Artagnan recognized the writing of the king: "I should think said
Louis XIV., you will have completed the execution of my ordersMonsieur
d'Artagnan; returnthenimmediately to Parisand join me at the
Louvre."

There is the end of my exile!cried the musketeer with joy; "God be
praisedI am no longer a jailer!" And he showed the letter to Athos.

So, then, you must leave us?replied the latterin a melancholy tone.

Yes, but to meet again, dear friend, seeing that Raoul is old enough now
to go alone with M. de Beaufort, and will prefer his father going back in
company with M. d'Artagnan, to forcing him to travel two hundred leagues
solitarily to reach home at La Fere; will you not, Raoul?

Certainly,stammered the latterwith an expression of tender regret.

No, no, my friend,interrupted AthosI will never quit Raoul till the
day his vessel disappears on the horizon. As long as he remains in
France he shall not be separated from me.

As you please, dear friend; but we will, at least, leave Sainte-
Marguerite together; take advantage of the bark that will convey me back
to Antibes.

With all my heart; we cannot too soon be at a distance from this fort,
and from the spectacle that shocked us so just now.

The three friends quitted the little isleafter paying their respects to
the governorand by the last flashes of the departing tempest they took
their farewell of the white walls of the fort. D'Artagnan parted from
his friend that same nightafter having seen fire set to the carriage
upon the shore by the orders of Saint-Marsaccording to the advice the
captain had given him. Before getting on horsebackand after leaving
the arms of Athos: "My friends said he, you bear too much resemblance
to two soldiers who are abandoning their post. Something warns me that
Raoul will require being supported by you in his rank. Will you allow me
to ask permission to go over into Africa with a hundred good muskets?
The king will not refuse meand I will take you with me."


Monsieur d'Artagnan,replied Raoulpressing his hand with emotion
thanks for that offer, which would give us more than we wish, either
monsieur le comte or I. I, who am young, stand in need of labor of mind
and fatigue of body; monsieur le comte wants the profoundest repose. You
are his best friend. I recommend him to your care. In watching over
him, you are holding both our souls in your hands.

I must go; my horse is all in a fret,said D'Artagnanwith whom the
most manifest sign of a lively emotion was the change of ideas in
conversation. "Comecomtehow many days longer has Raoul to stay here?"

Three days at most.

And how long will it take you to reach home?

Oh! a considerable time,replied Athos. "I shall not like the idea of
being separated too quickly from Raoul. Time will travel too fast of
itself to require me to aid it by distance. I shall only make halfstages."


And why so, my friend? Nothing is more dull than traveling slowly; and
hostelry life does not become a man like you.

My friend, I came hither on post-horses; but I wish to purchase two
animals of a superior kind. Now, to take them home fresh, it would not
be prudent to make them travel more than seven or eight leagues a day.

Where is Grimaud?

He arrived yesterday morning with Raoul's appointments; and I have left
him to sleep.

That is, never to come back again,D'Artagnan suffered to escape him.
Till we meet again, then, dear Athos - and if you are diligent, I shall
embrace you the sooner.So sayinghe put his foot in the stirrup
which Raoul held.

Farewell!said the young manembracing him.

Farewell!said D'Artagnanas he got into his saddle.

His horse made a movement which divided the cavalier from his friends.
This scene had taken place in front of the house chosen by Athosnear
the gates of Antibeswhither D'Artagnanafter his supperhad ordered
his horses to be brought. The road began to branch off therewhite and
undulating in the vapors of the night. The horse eagerly respired the
saltsharp perfume of the marshes. D'Artagnan put him to a trot; and
Athos and Raoul sadly turned towards the house. All at once they heard
the rapid approach of a horse's stepsand first believed it to be one
of those singular repercussions which deceive the ear at every turn in a
road. But it was really the return of the horseman. They uttered a cry
of joyous surprise; and the captainspringing to the ground like a young
manseized within his arms the two beloved heads of Athos and Raoul. He
held them long embraced thuswithout speaking a wordor suffering the
sigh which was bursting his breast to escape him. Thenas rapidly as he
had come backhe set off againwith a sharp application of his spurs to
the sides of his fiery horse.

Alas!said the comtein a low voicealas! alas!

An evil omen!on his sidesaid D'Artagnan to himselfmaking up for
lost time. "I could not smile upon them. An evil omen!"

The next day Grimaud was on foot again. The service commanded by M. de


Beaufort was happily accomplished. The flotillasent to Toulon by the
exertions of Raoulhad set outdragging after it in little nutshells
almost invisiblethe wives and friends of the fishermen and smugglers
put in requisition for the service of the fleet. The timeso short
which remained for father and son to live togetherappeared to go by
with double rapiditylike some swift stream that flows towards
eternity. Athos and Raoul returned to Toulonwhich began to be filled
with the noise of carriageswith the noise of armsthe noise of
neighing horses. The trumpeters sounded their spirited marches; the
drummers signalized their strength; the streets were overflowing with
soldiersservantsand tradespeople. The Duc de Beaufort was
everywheresuperintending the embarkation with the zeal and interest of
a good captain. He encouraged the humblest of his companions; he scolded
his lieutenantseven those of the highest rank. Artilleryprovisions
baggagehe insisted upon seeing all himself. He examined the equipment
of every soldier; assured himself of the health and soundness of every
horse. It was plain thatlightboastfulegotisticalin his hotel
the gentleman became the soldier again - the high noblea captain - in
face of the responsibility he had accepted. And yetit must be admitted
thatwhatever was the care with which he presided over the preparations
for departureit was easy to perceive careless precipitationand the
absence of all the precaution that make the French solider the first
soldier in the worldbecausein that worldhe is the one most
abandoned to his own physical and moral resources. All things having
satisfiedor appearing to have satisfiedthe admiralhe paid his
compliments to Raouland gave the last orders for sailingwhich was
ordered the next morning at daybreak. He invited the comte had his son
to dine with him; but theyunder a pretext of servicekept themselves
apart. Gaining their hostelrysituated under the trees of the great
Placethey took their repast in hasteand Athos led Raoul to the rocks
which dominate the cityvast gray mountainswhence the view is infinite
and embraces a liquid horizon which appearsso remote is iton a level
with the rocks themselves. The night was fineas it always is in these
happy climes. The moonrising behind the rocksunrolled a silver sheet
on the cerulean carpet of the sea. In the roadsteads maneuvered silently
the vessels which had just taken their rank to facilitate the
embarkation. The sealoaded with phosphoric lightopened beneath the
hulls of the barks that transported the baggage and munitions; every dip
of the prow plowed up this gulf of white flames; from every oar dropped
liquid diamonds. The sailorsrejoicing in the largesses of the admiral
were heard murmuring their slow and artless songs. Sometimes the
grinding of the chains was mixed with the dull noise of shot falling into
the holds. Such harmoniessuch a spectacleoppress the heart like
fearand dilate it like hope. All this life speaks of death. Athos had
seated himself with his sonupon the mossamong the brambles of the
promontory. Around their heads passed and repassed large batscarried
along by the fearful whirl of their blind chase. The feet of Raoul were
over the edge of the cliffbathed in that void which is peopled by
vertigoand provokes to self-annihilation. When the moon had risen to
its fullest heightcaressing with light the neighboring peakswhen the
watery mirror was illumined in its full extentand the little red fires
had made their openings in the black masses of every shipAthos
collecting all his ideas and all his couragesaid:

God has made all these things that we see, Raoul; He has made us also, poor
atoms mixed up with this monstrous universe. We shine like those
fires and those stars; we sigh like those waves; we suffer like those
great ships, which are worn out in plowing the waves, in obeying the wind
that urges them towards an end, as the breath of God blows us towards a
port. Everything likes to live, Raoul; and everything seems beautiful to
living things.

Monsieur,said Raoulwe have before us a beautiful spectacle!


How good D'Artagnan is!interrupted Athossuddenlyand what a rare
good fortune it is to be supported during a whole life by such a friend
as he is! That is what you have missed, Raoul.

A friend!cried RaoulI have wanted a friend!

M. de Guiche is an agreeable companion,resumed the comtecoldlybut
I believe, in the times in which you live, men are more engaged in their
own interests and their own pleasures than they were in ours. You have
sought a secluded life; that is a great happiness, but you have lost your
strength thereby. We four, more weaned from those delicate abstractions
that constitute your joy, furnished much more resistance when misfortune
presented itself.

I have not interrupted you, monsieur, to tell you that I had a friend,
and that that friend is M. de Guiche. _Certes_, he is good and generous,
and moreover he loves me. But I have lived under the guardianship of
another friendship, monsieur, as precious and as strong as that of which
you speak, since it is yours.

I have not been a friend for you, Raoul,said Athos.

Eh! monsieur, and in what respect not?

Because I have given you reason to think that life has but one face,
because, sad and severe, alas! I have always cut off for you, without,
God knows, wishing to do so, the joyous buds that spring incessantly
from the fair tree of youth; so that at this moment I repent of not
having made of you a more expansive, dissipated, animated man.

I know why you say that, monsieur. No, it is not you who have made me
what I am; it was love, which took me at the time when children only have
inclinations; it is the constancy natural to my character, which with
other creatures is but habit. I believed that I should always be as I
was; I thought God had cast me in a path quite clear, quite straight,
bordered with fruits and flowers. I had ever watching over me your
vigilance and strength. I believed myself to be vigilant and strong.
Nothing prepared me; I fell once, and that once deprived me of courage
for the whole of my life. It is quite true that I wrecked myself. Oh,
no, monsieur! you are nothing in my past but happiness - in my future but
hope! No, I have no reproach to make against life such as you made it
for me; I bless you, and I love you ardently.

My dear Raoul, your words do me good. They prove to me that you will
act a little for me in the time to come.

I shall only act for you, monsieur.

Raoul, what I have never hitherto done with respect to you, I will
henceforward do. I will be your friend, not your father. We will live
in expanding ourselves, instead of living and holding ourselves
prisoners, when you come back. And that will be soon, will it not?

Certainly, monsieur, for such an expedition cannot last long.

Soon, then, Raoul, soon, instead of living moderately on my income, I
will give you the capital of my estates. It will suffice for launching
you into the world till my death; and you will give me, I hope, before
that time, the consolation of not seeing my race extinct.

I will do all you may command,said Raoulmuch agitated.

It is not necessary, Raoul, that your duty as aide-de-camp should lead
you into too hazardous enterprises. You have gone through your ordeal;


you are known to be a true man under fire. Remember that war with Arabs
is a war of snares, ambuscades, and assassinations.

So it is said, monsieur.

There is never much glory in falling in an ambuscade. It is a death
which always implies a little rashness or want of foresight. Often,
indeed, he who falls in one meets with but little pity. Those who are
not pitied, Raoul, have died to little purpose. Still further, the
conqueror laughs, and we Frenchmen ought not to allow stupid infidels to
triumph over our faults. Do you clearly understand what I am saying to
you, Raoul? God forbid I should encourage you to avoid encounters.

I am naturally prudent, monsieur, and I have very good fortune,said
Raoulwith a smile which chilled the heart of his poor father; "for
the young man hastened to add, in twenty combats through which I have
beenI have only received one scratch."

There is in addition,said Athosthe climate to be dreaded: that is
an ugly end, to die of fever! King Saint-Louis prayed God to send him an
arrow or the plague, rather than the fever.

Oh, monsieur! with sobriety, with reasonable exercise -

I have already obtained from M. de Beaufort a promise that his
dispatches shall be sent off every fortnight to France. You, as his aidede-
camp, will be charged with expediting them, and will be sure not to
forget me.

No, monsieur,said Raoulalmost choked with emotion.

Besides, Raoul, as you are a good Christian, and I am one also, we ought
to reckon upon a more special protection of God and His guardian angels.
Promise me that if anything evil should happen to you, on any occasion,
you will think of me at once.

First and at once! Oh! yes, monsieur.

And will call upon me?

Instantly.

You dream of me sometimes, do you not, Raoul?

Every night, monsieur. During my early youth I saw you in my dreams,
calm and mild, with one hand stretched out over my head, and that it was
which made me sleep so soundly - formerly.

We love each other too dearly,said the comtethat from this moment,
in which we separate, a portion of both our souls should not travel with
one and the other of us, and should not dwell wherever we may dwell.
Whenever you may be sad, Raoul, I feel that my heart will be dissolved in
sadness; and when you smile on thinking of me, be assured you will send
me, from however remote a distance, a vital scintillation of your joy.

I will not promise you to be joyous,replied the young man; "but you
may be certain that I will never pass an hour without thinking of you
not one hourI swearunless I shall be dead."

Athos could contain himself no longer; he threw his arm round the neck of
his sonand held him embraced with all the power of his heart. The moon
began to be now eclipsed by twilight; a golden band surrounded the
horizonannouncing the approach of the day. Athos threw his cloak over
the shoulders of Raouland led him back to the citywhere burdens and


porters were already in motionlike a vast ant-hill. At the extremity
of the plateau which Athos and Bragelonne were quittingthey saw a dark
shadow moving uneasily backwards and forwardsas if in indecision or
ashamed to be seen. It was Grimaudwho in his anxiety had tracked his
masterand was there awaiting him.

Oh! my good Grimaud,cried Raoulwhat do you want? You are come to
tell us it is time to be gone, have you not?

Alone?said Grimaudaddressing Athos and pointing to Raoul in a tone
of reproachwhich showed to what an extent the old man was troubled.

Oh! you are right!cried the comte. "NoRaoul shall not go alone; no
he shall not be left alone in a strange land without some friendly hand
to support himsome friendly heart to recall to him all he loved!"

I?said Grimaud.

You, yes, you!cried Raoultouched to the inmost heart.

Alas!said Athosyou are very old, my good Grimaud.

So much the better,replied the latterwith an inexpressible depth of
feeling and intelligence.

But the embarkation is begun,said Raouland you are not prepared.

Yes,said Grimaudshowing the keys of his trunksmixed with those of
his young master.

But,again objected Raoulyou cannot leave monsieur le comte thus
alone; monsieur le comte, whom you have never quitted?

Grimaud turned his diamond eyes upon Athos and Raoulas if to measure
the strength of both. The comte uttered not a word.

Monsieur le comte prefers my going,said Grimaud.

I do,said Athosby an inclination of the head.

At that moment the drums suddenly rolledand the clarions filled the air
with their inspiring notes. The regiments destined for the expedition
began to debouch from the city. They advanced to the number of five
each composed of forty companies. Royals marched firstdistinguished by
their white uniformfaced with blue. The _ordonnance_ colorsquartered
cross-wiseviolet and dead leafwith a sprinkling of golden _fleurs-delis_
left the white-colored flagwith its _fleur-de-lised_ crossto
dominate the whole. Musketeers at the wingswith their forked sticks
and their muskets on their shoulders; pikemen in the centerwith their
lancesfourteen feet in lengthmarched gayly towards the transports
which carried them in detail to the ships. The regiments of Picardy
NavarreNormandyand Royal Vaisseaufollowed after. M. de Beaufort
had known well how to select his troops. He himself was seen closing the
march with his staff - it would take a full hour before he could reach
the sea. Raoul with Athos turned his steps slowly towards the beachin
order to take his place when the prince embarked. Grimaudboiling with
the ardor of a young mansuperintended the embarkation of Raoul's
baggage in the admiral's vessel. Athoswith his arm passed through that
of the son he was about to loseabsorbed in melancholy meditationwas
deaf to every noise around him. An officer came quickly towards them to
inform Raoul that M. de Beaufort was anxious to have him by his side.

Have the kindness to tell the prince,said Raoulthat I request he
will allow me this hour to enjoy the company of my father.


No, no,said Athosan aide-de-camp ought not thus to quit his
general. Please to tell the prince, monsieur, that the vicomte will join
him immediately.The officer set off at a gallop.

Whether we part here or part there,added the comteit is no less a
separation.He carefully brushed the dust from his son's coatand
passed his hand over his hair as they walked along. "ButRaoul said
he, you want money. M. de Beaufort's train will be splendidand I am
certain it will be agreeable to you to purchase horses and armswhich
are very dear things in Africa. Nowas you are not actually in the
service of the king or M. de Beaufortand are simply a volunteeryou
must not reckon upon either pay or largesse. But I should not like you
to want for anything at Gigelli. Here are two hundred pistoles; if you
would please meRaoulspend them."

Raoul pressed the hand of his fatherandat the turning of a street
they saw M. de Beaufortmounted on a magnificent white _genet_which
responded by graceful curvets to the applause of the women of the city.
The duke called Raouland held out his hand to the comte. He spoke to
him for some timewith such a kindly expression that the heart of the
poor father even felt a little comforted. It washoweverevident to
both father and son that their walk amounted to nothing less than a
punishment. There was a terrible moment - that at whichon quitting the
sands of the shorethe soldiers and sailors exchanged the last kisses
with their families and friends; a supreme momentin which
notwithstanding the clearness of the heavensthe warmth of the sunof
the perfumes of the airand the rich life that was circulating in their
veinseverything appeared blackeverything bittereverything created
doubts of Providencenayat the mostof God. It was customary for the
admiral and his suite to embark last; the cannon waited to announcewith
its formidable voicethat the leader had placed his foot on board his
vessel. Athosforgetful of both the admiral and the fleetand of his
own dignity as a strong manopened his arms to his sonand pressed him
convulsively to his heart.

Accompany us on board,said the dukevery much affected; "you will
gain a good half-hour."

No,said Athosmy farewell has been spoken, I do not wish to voice a
second.

Then, vicomte, embark - embark quickly!added the princewishing to
spare the tears of these two menwhose hearts were bursting. And
paternallytenderlyvery much as Porthos might have donehe took Raoul
in his arms and placed him in the boatthe oars of whichat a signal
immediately were dipped in the waves. He himselfforgetful of ceremony
jumped into his boatand pushed it off with a vigorous foot. "Adieu!"
cried Raoul.

Athos replied only by a signbut he felt something burning on his hand:
it was the respectful kiss of Grimaud - the last farewell of the faithful
dog. This kiss givenGrimaud jumped from the step of the mole upon the
stem of a two-oared yawlwhich had just been taken in tow by a _chaland_
served by twelve galley-oars. Athos seated himself on the molestunned
deafabandoned. Every instant took from him one of the featuresone of
the shades of the pale face of his son. With his arms hanging downhis
eyes fixedhis mouth openhe remained confounded with Raoul - in one
same lookin one same thoughtin one same stupor. The seaby degrees
carried away boats and faces to that distance at which men become nothing
but points- lovesnothing but remembrances. Athos saw his son ascend
the ladder of the admiral's shiphe saw him lean upon the rail of the
deckand place himself in such a manner as to be always an object in the
eye of his father. In vain the cannon thunderedin vain from the ship


sounded the long and lordly tumultresponded to by immense acclamations
from the shore; in vain did the noise deafen the ear of the fatherthe
smoke obscured the cherished object of his aspirations. Raoul appeared
to him to the last moment; and the imperceptible atompassing from black
to palefrom pale to whitefrom white to nothingdisappeared for Athos

-disappeared very long afterto all the eyes of the spectatorshad
disappeared both gallant ships and swelling sails. Towards middaywhen
the sun devoured spaceand scarcely the tops of the masts dominated the
incandescent limit of the seaAthos perceived a soft aerial shadow rise
and vanish as soon as seen. This was the smoke of a cannonwhich M. de
Beaufort ordered to be fired as a last salute to the coast of France.
The point was buried in its turn beneath the skyand Athos returned with
slow and painful step to his deserted hostelry.
Chapter XXXIV:
Among Women.

D'Artagnan had not been able to hide his feelings from his friends so
much as he would have wished. The stoical soldierthe impassive man-atarms
overcome by fear and sad presentimentshad yieldedfor a few
momentsto human weakness. Whenthereforehe had silenced his heart
and calmed the agitation of his nervesturning towards his lackeya
silent servantalways listeningin order to obey the more promptly:

Rabaud,said hemind, we must travel thirty leagues a day.

At your pleasure, captain,replied Rabaud.

And from that momentD'Artagnanaccommodating his action to the pace of
the horselike a true centaurgave up his thoughts to nothing - that is
to sayto everything. He asked himself why the king had sent for him
back; why the Iron Mask had thrown the silver plate at the feet of
Raoul. As to the first subjectthe reply was negative; he knew right
well that the king's calling him was from necessity. He still further
knew that Louis XIV. must experience an imperious desire for a private
conversation with one whom the possession of such a secret placed on a
level with the highest powers of the kingdom. But as to saying exactly
what the king's wish wasD'Artagnan found himself completely at a loss.
The musketeer had no doubtseitherupon the reason which had urged the
unfortunate Philippe to reveal his character and birth. Philippeburied
forever beneath a mask of steelexiled to a country where the men seemed
little more than slaves of the elements; Philippedeprived even of the
society of D'Artagnanwho had loaded him with honors and delicate
attentionshad nothing more to see than odious specters in this world
anddespair beginning to devour himhe poured himself forth in
complaintsin the belief that his revelations would raise up some
avenger for him. The manner in which the musketeer had been near killing
his two best friendsthe destiny which had so strangely brought Athos to
participate in the great state secretthe farewell of Raoulthe
obscurity of the future which threatened to end in a melancholy death;
all this threw D'Artagnan incessantly back on lamentable predictions and
forebodingswhich the rapidity of his pace did not dissipateas it used
formerly to do. D'Artagnan passed from these considerations to the
remembrance of the proscribed Porthos and Aramis. He saw them both
fugitivestrackedruined - laborious architects of fortunes they had
lost; and as the king called for his man of execution in hours of
vengeance and maliceD'Artagnan trembled at the very idea of receiving
some commission that would make his very soul bleed. Sometimes
ascending hillswhen the winded horse breathed hard from his red
nostrilsand heaved his flanksthe captainleft to more freedom of
thoughtreflected on the prodigious genius of Aramisa genius of acumen
and intriguea match to which the Fronde and the civil war had produced
but twice. Soldierpriestdiplomatist; gallantavariciouscunning;


Aramis had never taken the good things of this life except as steppingstones
to rise to giddier ends. Generous in spiritif not lofty in
hearthe never did ill but for the sake of shining even yet more
brilliantly. Towards the end of his careerat the moment of reaching
the goallike the patrician Fuscushe had made a false step upon a
plankand had fallen into the sea. But Porthosgoodharmless
Porthos! To see Porthos hungryto see Mousqueton without gold lace
imprisonedperhaps; to see PierrefondsBracieuxrazed to the very
stonesdishonored even to the timber- these were so many poignant
griefs for D'Artagnanand every time that one of these griefs struck
himhe bounded like a horse at the sting of a gadfly beneath the vaults
of foliage where he has sought shady shelter from the burning sun. Never
was the man of spirit subjected to _ennui_if his body was exposed to
fatigue; never did the man of healthy body fail to find life lightif he
had something to engage his mind. D'Artagnanriding fastthinking as
constantlyalighted from his horse in Pairsfresh and tender in his
muscles as the athlete preparing for the gymnasium. The king did not
expect him so soonand had just departed for the chase towards Meudon.
D'Artagnaninstead of riding after the kingas he would formerly have
donetook off his bootshad a bathand waited till his majesty should
return dusty and tired. He occupied the interval of five hours in
takingas people saythe air of the houseand in arming himself
against all ill chances. He learned that the kingduring the last
fortnighthad been gloomy; that the queen-mother was ill and much
depressed; that Monsieurthe king's brotherwas exhibiting a devotional
turn; that Madame had the vapors; and that M. de Guiche was gone to one
of his estates. He learned that M. Colbert was radiant; that M. Fouquet
consulted a fresh physician every daywho still did not cure himand
that his principal complaint was one which physicians do not usually
cureunless they are political physicians. The kingD'Artagnan was
toldbehaved in the kindest manner to M. Fouquetand did not allow him
to be ever out of his sight; but the surintendanttouched to the heart
like one of those fine trees a worm has puncturedwas declining daily
in spite of the royal smilethat sun of court trees. D'Artagnan learned
that Mademoiselle de la Valliere had become indispensable to the king;
that the kingduring his sporting excursionsif he did not take her
with himwrote to her frequentlyno longer versesbutwhich was much
worseproseand that whole pages at a time. Thusas the political
Pleiad of the day saidthe _first king in the world_ was seen descending
from his horse _with an ardor beyond compare_and on the crown of his
hat scrawling bombastic phraseswhich M. de Saint-Aignanaide-de-camp
in perpetuitycarried to La Valliere at the risk of foundering his
horses. During this timedeer and pheasants were left to the free
enjoyment of their naturehunted so lazily thatit was saidthe art of
venery ran great risk of degenerating at the court of France. D'Artagnan
then thought of the wishes of poor Raoulof that desponding letter
destined for a woman who passed her life in hopingand as D'Artagnan
loved to philosophize a little occasionallyhe resolved to profit by the
absence of the king to have a minute's talk with Mademoiselle de la
Valliere. This was a very easy affair; while the king was hunting
Louise was walking with some other ladies in one of the galleries of the
Palais Royalexactly where the captain of the musketeers had some guards
to inspect. D'Artagnan did not doubt thatif he could but open the
conversation on RaoulLouise might give him grounds for writing a
consolatory letter to the poor exile; and hopeor at least consolation
for Raoulin the state of heart in which he had left himwas the sun
was life to two menwho were very dear to our captain. He directed his
coursethereforeto the spot where he knew he should find Mademoiselle
de la Valliere. D'Artagnan found La Valliere the center of the circle.
In her apparent solitudethe king's favorite receivedlike a queen
moreperhapsthan the queena homage of which Madame had been so
proudwhen all the king's looks were directed to her and commanded the
looks of the courtiers. D'Artagnanalthough no squire of dames
receivedneverthelesscivilities and attentions from the ladies; he was


politeas a brave man always isand his terrible reputation had
conciliated as much friendship among the men as admiration among the
women. On seeing him enterthereforethey immediately accosted him;
andas is not unfrequently the case with fair ladiesopened the attack
by questions. "Where _had_ he been? What _had_ become of him so long?
Why had they not seen him as usual make his fine horse curvet in such
beautiful styleto the delight and astonishment of the curious from the
king's balcony?"

He replied that he had just come from the land of oranges. This set all
the ladies laughing. Those were times in which everybody traveledbut
in whichnotwithstandinga journey of a hundred leagues was a problem
often solved by death.

From the land of oranges?cried Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente. "From
Spain?"

Eh! eh!said the musketeer.

From Malta?echoed Montalais.

_Ma foi!_ You are coming very near, ladies.

Is it an island?asked La Valliere.

Mademoiselle,said D'Artagnan; "I will not give you the trouble of
seeking any further; I come from the country where M. de Beaufort isat
this momentembarking for Algiers."

Have you seen the army?asked several warlike fair ones.

As plainly as I see you,replied D'Artagnan.

And the fleet?

Yes, I saw everything.

Have we any of us any friends there?said Mademoiselle de Tonnay-
Charentecoldlybut in a manner to attract attention to a question that
was not without its calculated aim.

Why,replied D'Artagnanyes; there were M. de la Guillotiere, M. de
Manchy, M. de Bragelonne -

La Valliere became pale. "M. de Bragelonne!" cried the perfidious
Athenais. "Ehwhat! - is he gone to the wars? - he!"

Montalais trod on her toebut all in vain.

Do you know what my opinion is?continued sheaddressing D'Artagnan.

No, mademoiselle; but I should like very much to know it.

My opinion is, then, that all the men who go to this war are desperate,
desponding men, whom love has treated ill; and who go to try if they
cannot find jet-complexioned women more kind than fair ones have been.

Some of the ladies laughed; La Valliere was evidently confused; Montalais
coughed loud enough to waken the dead.

Mademoiselle,interrupted D'Artagnanyou are in error when you speak
of black women at Gigelli; the women there have not jet faces; it is true
they are not white - they are yellow.


Yellow!exclaimed the bevy of fair beauties.

Eh! do not disparage it. I have never seen a finer color to match with
black eyes and a coral mouth.

So much the better for M. de Bragelonne,said Mademoiselle de Tonnay-
Charentewith persistent malice. "He will make amends for his loss.
Poor fellow!"

A profound silence followed these words; and D'Artagnan had time to
observe and reflect that women - mild doves - treat each other more
cruelly than tigers. But making La Valliere pale did not satisfy
Athenais; she determined to make her blush likewise. Resuming the
conversation without pauseDo you know, Louise,said shethat there
is a great sin on your conscience?

What sin, mademoiselle?stammered the unfortunate girllooking round
her for supportwithout finding it.

Eh! - why,continued Athenaisthe poor young man was affianced to
you; he loved you; you cast him off.

Well, that is a right which every honest woman has,said Montalaisin
an affected tone. "When we know we cannot constitute the happiness of a
manit is much better to cast him off."

Cast him off! or refuse him! - that's all very well,said Athenais
but that is not the sin Mademoiselle de la Valliere has to reproach
herself with. The actual sin is sending poor Bragelonne to the wars; and
to wars in which death is so very likely to be met with.Louise pressed
her hand over her icy brow. "And if he dies continued her pitiless
tormentor, you will have killed him. That is the sin."

Louisehalf-deadcaught at the arm of the captain of the musketeers
whose face betrayed unusual emotion. "You wished to speak with me
Monsieur d'Artagnan said she, in a voice broken by anger and pain.
What had you to say to me?"

D'Artagnan made several steps along the galleryholding Louise on his
arm; thenwhen they were far enough removed from the others - "What I
had to say to youmademoiselle replied he, Mademoiselle de Tonnay-
Charente has just expressed; roughly and unkindlyit is true but still
in its entirety."

She uttered a faint cry; pierced to the heart by this new woundshe went
her waylike one of those poor birds whichstruck unto deathseek the
shade of the thicket in which to die. She disappeared at one doorat
the moment the king was entering by another. The first glance of the
king was directed towards the empty seat of his mistress. Not perceiving
La Vallierea frown came over his brow; but as soon as he saw
D'Artagnanwho bowed to him - "Ah! monsieur!" cried heyou _have_ been
diligent! I am much pleased with you.This was the superlative
expression of royal satisfaction. Many men would have been ready to lay
down their lives for such a speech from the king. The maids of honor and
the courtierswho had formed a respectful circle round the king on his
entrancedrew backon observing he wished to speak privately with his
captain of the musketeers. The king led the way out of the gallery
after having againwith his eyessought everywhere for La Valliere
whose absence he could not account for. The moment they were out of the
reach of curious earsWell! Monsieur d'Artagnan,said hethe
prisoner?

Is in his prison, sire.


What did he say on the road?

Nothing, sire.

What did he do?

There was a moment at which the fisherman - who took me in his boat to
Sainte-Marguerite - revolted, and did his best to kill me. The - the
prisoner defended me instead of attempting to fly.

The king became pale. "Enough!" said he; and D'Artagnan bowed. Louis
walked about his cabinet with hasty steps. "Were you at Antibes said
he, when Monsieur de Beaufort came there?"

No, sire; I was setting off when monsieur le duc arrived.

Ah!which was followed by a fresh silence. "Whom did you see there?"

A great many persons,said D'Artagnancoolly.

The king perceived he was unwilling to speak. "I have sent for you
monsieur le capitaineto desire you to go and prepare my lodgings at
Nantes."

At Nantes!cried D'Artagnan.

In Bretagne.

Yes, sire, it is in Bretagne. Will you majesty make so long a journey
as to Nantes?

The States are assembled there,replied the king. "I have two demands
to make of them: I wish to be there."

When shall I set out?said the captain.

This evening - to-morrow - to-morrow evening; for you must stand in need
of rest.

I have rested, sire.

That is well. Then between this and to-morrow evening, when you please.

D'Artagnan bowed as if to take his leave; butperceiving the king very
much embarrassedWill you majesty,said hestepping two paces
forwardtake the court with you?

Certainly I shall.

Then you majesty will, doubtless, want the musketeers?And the eye of
the king sank beneath the penetrating glance of the captain.

Take a brigade of them,replied Louis.

Is that all? Has your majesty no other orders to give me?

No - ah - yes.

I am all attention, sire.

At the castle of Nantes, which I hear is very ill arranged, you will
adopt the practice of placing musketeers at the door of each of the
principal dignitaries I shall take with me.


Of the principal?

Yes.

For instance, at the door of M. de Lyonne?

Yes.

And that of M. Letellier?

Yes.

Of M. de Brienne?

Yes.

And of monsieur le surintendant?

Without doubt.

Very well, sire. By to-morrow I shall have set out.

Oh, yes; but one more word, Monsieur d'Artagnan. At Nantes you will
meet with M. le Duc de Gesvres, captain of the guards. Be sure that your
musketeers are placed before his guards arrive. Precedence always
belongs to the first comer.

Yes, sire.

And if M. de Gesvres should question you?

Question me, sire! Is it likely that M. de Gesvres should question
me?And the musketeerturning cavalierly on his heeldisappeared.
To Nantes!said he to himselfas he descended from the stairs. "Why
did he not dare to sayfrom thence to Belle-Isle?"

As he reached the great gatesone of M. Brienne's clerks came running
after himexclaimingMonsieur d'Artagnan! I beg your pardon -

What is the matter, Monsieur Ariste?

The king has desired me to give you this order.

Upon your cash-box?asked the musketeer.

No, monsieur; on that of M. Fouquet.

D'Artagnan was surprisedbut he took the orderwhich was in the king's
own writingand was for two hundred pistoles. "What!" thought heafter
having politely thanked M. Brienne's clerkM. Fouquet is to pay for the
journey, then! _Mordioux!_ that is a bit of pure Louis XI. Why was not
this order on the chest of M. Colbert? He would have paid it with such
joy.And D'Artagnanfaithful to his principle of never letting an
order at sight get coldwent straight to the house of M. Fouquetto
receive his two hundred pistoles.

Chapter XXXV:
The Last Supper.

The superintendent had no doubt received advice of the approaching
departurefor he was giving a farewell dinner to his friends. From the
bottom to the top of the housethe hurry of the servants bearing dishes
and the diligence of the _registres_denoted an approaching change in


offices and kitchen. D'Artagnanwith his order in his handpresented
himself at the officeswhen he was told it was too late to pay cashthe
chest was closed. He only replied: "On the king's service."

The clerka little put out by the serious air of the captainreplied
that "that was a very respectable reasonbut that the customs of the
house were respectable likewise; and thatin consequencehe begged the
bearer to call again next day." D'Artagnan asked if he could not see M.
Fouquet. The clerk replied that M. le surintendant did not interfere
with such detailsand rudely closed the outer door in the captain's
face. But the latter had foreseen this strokeand placed his boot
between the door and the door-caseso that the lock did not catchand
the clerk was still nose to nose with his interlocutor. This made him
change his toneand saywith terrified politenessIf monsieur wishes
to speak to M. le surintendant, he must go to the ante-chambers; these
are the offices, where monseigneur never comes.

Oh! very well! Where are they?replied D'Artagnan.

On the other side of the court,said the clerkdelighted to be free.
D'Artagnan crossed the courtand fell in with a crowd of servants.

Monseigneur sees nobody at this hour,he was answered by a fellow
carrying a vermeil dishin which were three pheasants and twelve quails.

Tell him,said the captainlaying hold of the servant by the end of
his dishthat I am M. d'Artagnan, captain of his majesty's musketeers.

The fellow uttered a cry of surpriseand disappeared; D'Artagnan
following him slowly. He arrived just in time to meet M. Pelisson in the
ante-chamber: the lattera little palecame hastily out of the diningroom
to learn what was the matter. D'Artagnan smiled.

There is nothing unpleasant, Monsieur Pelisson; only a little order to
receive the money for.

Ah!said Fouquet's friendbreathing more freely; and he took the
captain by the handanddragging him behind himled him into the
dining-roomwhere a number of friends surrounded the surintendant
placed in the centerand buried in the cushions of a _fauteuil_. There
were assembled all the Epicureans who so lately at Vaux had done the
honors of the mansion of wit and money in aid of M. Fouquet. Joyous
friendsfor the most part faithfulthey had not fled their protector at
the approach of the stormandin spite of the threatening heavensin
spite of the trembling earththey remained theresmilingcheerfulas
devoted in misfortune as they had been in prosperity. On the left of the
surintendant sat Madame de Belliere; on his right was Madame Fouquet; as
if braving the laws of the worldand putting all vulgar reasons of
propriety to silencethe two protecting angels of this man united to
offerat the moment of the crisisthe support of their twined arms.
Madame de Belliere was paletremblingand full of respectful attentions
for madame la surintendantewhowith one hand on her husband'swas
looking anxiously towards the door by which Pelisson had gone out to
bring D'Artagnan. The captain entered at first full of courtesyand
afterwards of admirationwhenwith his infallible glancehe had
divined as well as taken in the expression of every face. Fouquet raised
himself up in his chair.

Pardon me, Monsieur d'Artagnan,said heif I did not myself receive
you when coming in the king's name.And he pronounced the last words
with a sort of melancholy firmnesswhich filled the hearts of all his
friends with terror.

Monseigneur,replied D'ArtagnanI only come to you in the king's name


to demand payment of an order for two hundred pistoles.

The clouds passed from every brow but that of Fouquetwhich still
remained overcast.

Ah! then,said heperhaps you also are setting out for Nantes?

I do not know whither I am setting out, monseigneur.

But,said Madame Fouquetrecovered from her frightyou are not going
so soon, monsieur le capitaine, as not to do us the honor to take a seat
with us?

Madame, I should esteem that a great honor done me, but I am so pressed
for time, that, you see, I have been obliged to permit myself to
interrupt your repast to procure payment of my note.

The reply to which shall be gold,said Fouquetmaking a sign to his
intendantwho went out with the order D'Artagnan handed him.

Oh!said the latterI was not uneasy about the payment; the house is
good.

A painful smile passed over the pale features of Fouquet.

Are you in pain?asked Madame de Belliere.

Do you feel your attack coming on?asked Madame Fouquet.

Neither, thank you both,said Fouquet.

Your attack?said D'Artagnanin his turn; "are you unwell
monseigneur?"

I have a tertian fever, which seized me after the _fete_ at Vaux.

Caught cold in the grottos, at night, perhaps?

No, no; nothing but agitation, that was all.

The too much heart you displayed in your reception of the king,said La
Fontainequietlywithout suspicion that he was uttering a sacrilege.

We cannot devote too much heart to the reception of our king,said
Fouquetmildlyto his poet.

Monsieur meant to say the too great ardor,interrupted D'Artagnanwith
perfect frankness and much amenity. "The fact ismonseigneurthat
hospitality was never practiced as at Vaux."

Madame Fouquet permitted her countenance to show clearly that if Fouquet
had conducted himself well towards the kingthe king had hardly done the
like to the minister. But D'Artagnan knew the terrible secret. He alone
with Fouquet knew it; those two men had notthe one the courage to
complainthe other the right to accuse. The captainto whom the two
hundred pistoles were broughtwas about to take his leavewhen Fouquet
risingtook a glass of wineand ordered one to be given to D'Artagnan.

Monsieur,said heto the health of the king, _whatever may happen_.

And to your health, monseigneur, _whatever may happen_,said D'Artagnan.

He bowedwith these words of evil omento all the companywho rose as
soon as they heard the sound of his spurs and boots at the bottom of the


stairs.

I, for a moment, thought it was I and not my money he wanted,said
Fouquetendeavoring to laugh.

You!cried his friends; "and what forin the name of Heaven!"

Oh! do not deceive yourselves, my dear brothers in Epicurus,said the
superintendent; "I do not wish to make a comparison between the most
humble sinner on the earthand the God we adorebut rememberhe gave
one day to his friends a repast which is called the Last Supperand
which was nothing but a farewell dinnerlike that which we are making at
this moment."

A painful cry of denial arose from all parts of the table. "Shut the
doors said Fouquet, and the servants disappeared. My friends
continued Fouquet, lowering his voice, what was I formerly? What am I
now? Consult among yourselves and reply. A man like me sinks when he
does not continue to rise. What shall we saythenwhen he really
sinks? I have no more moneyno more credit; I have no longer anything
but powerful enemiesand powerless friends."

Quick!cried Pelisson. "Since you explain yourself with such
franknessit is our duty to be franklikewise. Yesyou are ruined –
yesyou are hastening to your ruin - stop. Andin the first place
what money have we left?"

Seven hundred thousand livres,said the intendant.

Bread,murmured Madame Fouquet.

Relays,said Pelissonrelays, and fly!

Whither?

To Switzerland - to Savoy - but fly!

If monseigneur flies,said Madame Belliereit will be said that he
was guilty - was afraid.

More than that, it will be said that I have carried away twenty millions
with me.

We will draw up memoirs to justify you,said La Fontaine. "Fly!"

I will remain,said Fouquet. "Andbesidesdoes not everything serve
me?"

You have Belle-Isle,cried the Abbe Fouquet.

And I am naturally going there, when going to Nantes,replied the
superintendent. "Patiencethenpatience!"

Before arriving at Nantes, what a distance!said Madame Fouquet.

Yes, I know that well,replied Fouquet. "But what is to be done
there? The king summons me to the States. I know well it is for the
purpose of ruining me; but to refuse to go would be to evince uneasiness."

Well, I have discovered the means of reconciling everything,cried
Pelisson. "You are going to set out for Nantes."

Fouquet looked at him with an air of surprise.


But with friends; but in your own carriage as far as Orleans; in your
own barge as far as Nantes; always ready to defend yourself, if you are
attacked; to escape, if you are threatened. In fact, you will carry
your money against all chances; and, whilst flying, you will only have
obeyed the king; then, reaching the sea, when you like, you will embark
for Belle-Isle, and from Belle-Isle you will shoot out wherever it may
please you, like the eagle that leaps into space when it has been driven
from its eyrie.

A general assent followed Pelisson's words. "Yesdo so said Madame
Fouquet to her husband.

Do so said Madame de Belliere.

Do it! do it!" cried all his friends.

I will do so,replied Fouquet.

This very evening?

In an hour?

Instantly.

With seven hundred thousand livres you can lay the foundation of another
fortune,said the Abbe Fouquet.

What is there to prevent our arming corsairs at Belle-Isle?

And, if necessary, we will go and discover a new world,added La
Fontaineintoxicated with fresh projects and enthusiasm.

A knock at the door interrupted this concert of joy and hope. "A courier
from the king said the master of the ceremonies.

A profound silence immediately ensued, as if the message brought by this
courier was nothing but a reply to all the projects given birth to a
moment before. Every one waited to see what the master would do. His
brow was streaming with perspiration, and he was really suffering from
his fever at that instant. He passed into his cabinet, to receive the
king's message. There prevailed, as we have said, such a silence in the
chambers, and throughout the attendance, that from the dining-room could
be heard the voice of Fouquet, saying, That is wellmonsieur." This
voice washoweverbroken by fatigueand trembled with emotion. An
instant afterFouquet called Gourvillewho crossed the gallery amidst
the universal expectation. At lengthhe himself re-appeared among his
guests; but it was no longer the same palespiritless countenance they
had beheld when he left them; from pale he had become livid; and from
spiritlessannihilated. A breathingliving specterhe advanced with
his arms stretched outhis mouth parchedlike a shade that comes to
salute the friends of former days. On seeing him thusevery one cried
outand every one rushed towards Fouquet. The latterlooking at
Pelissonleaned upon his wifeand pressed the icy hand of the Marquise
de Belliere.

Well,said hein a voice which had nothing human in it.

What has happened, my God!said some one to him.

Fouquet opened his right handwhich was clenchedbut glistening with
perspirationand displayed a paperupon which Pelisson cast a terrified
glance. He read the following lineswritten by the king's hand:

'DEAR AND WELL-BELOVED MONSIEUR FOUQUET, - Give us, upon that which you


have left of ours, the sum of seven hundred thousand livres, of which we
stand in need to prepare for our departure.


'Andas we know your health is not goodwe pray God to restore you
and to have you in His holy keeping.
'LOUIS.


'The present letter is to serve as a receipt.'"


A murmur of terror circulated through the apartment.
Well,cried Pelissonin his turnyou have received that letter?


Received it, yes!
What will you do, then?


Nothing, since I have received it.
But -


If I have received it, Pelisson, I have paid it,said the surintendant
with a simplicity that went to the heart of all present.

You have paid it!cried Madame Fouquet. "Then we are ruined!"

Come, no useless words,interrupted Pelisson. "Next to moneylife.
Monseigneurto horse! to horse!"

What, leave us!at once cried both the womenwild with grief.
Eh! monseigneur, in saving yourself, you save us all. To horse!


But he cannot hold himself on. Look at him.
Oh! if he takes time to reflect - said the intrepid Pelisson.


He is right,murmured Fouquet.


Monseigneur! Monseigneur!cried Gourvillerushing up the stairsfour
steps at once. "Monseigneur!"
Well! what?


I escorted, as you desired, the king's courier with the money.
Yes.


Well! when I arrived at the Palais Royal, I saw -
Take breath, my poor friend, take breath; you are suffocating.


What did you see?cried the impatient friends.
I saw the musketeers mounting on horseback,said Gourville.


There, then!cried every voice at once; "therethen! is there an
instant to be lost?"

Madame Fouquet rushed downstairscalling for her horses; Madame de
Belliere flew after hercatching her in her armsand saying: "Madame
in the name of his safetydo not betray anythingdo not manifest alarm."

Pelisson ran to have the horses put to the carriages. Andin the


meantimeGourville gathered in his hat all that the weeping friends were
able to throw into it of gold and silver - the last offeringthe pious
alms made to misery by poverty. The surintendantdragged along by some
carried by otherswas shut up in his carriage. Gourville took the
reinsand mounted the box. Pelisson supported Madame Fouquetwho had
fainted. Madame de Belliere had more strengthand was well paid for it;
she received Fouquet's last kiss. Pelisson easily explained this
precipitate departure by saying that an order from the king had summoned
the minister to Nantes.


Chapter XXXVI:
In M. Colbert's Carriage.


As Gourville had seenthe king's musketeers were mounting and following
their captain. The latterwho did not like to be confined in his
proceedingsleft his brigade under the orders of a lieutenantand set
off on post horsesrecommending his men to use all diligence. However
rapidly they might travelthey could not arrive before him. He had
timein passing along the Rue des Petits-Champsto see something which
afforded him plenty of food for thought and conjecture. He saw M.
Colbert coming out from his house to get into his carriagewhich was
stationed before the door. In this carriage D'Artagnan perceived the
hoods of two womenand being rather curioushe wished to know the names
of the ladies hid beneath these hoods. To get a glimpse at themfor
they kept themselves closely covered uphe urged his horse so near the
carriagethat he drove him against the step with such force as to shake
everything containing and contained. The terrified women utteredthe
one a faint cryby which D'Artagnan recognized a young womanthe other
an imprecationin which he recognized the vigor and _aplomb_ that half a
century bestows. The hoods were thrown back: one of the women was Madame
Vanelthe other the Duchesse de Chevreuse. D'Artagnan's eyes were
quicker than those of the ladies; he had seen and known themwhilst they
did not recognize him; and as they laughed at their frightpressing each
other's hands-


Humph!said D'Artagnanthe old duchesse is no more inaccessible to
friendship than formerly. _She_ paying her court to the mistress of M.
Colbert! Poor M. Fouquet! that presages you nothing good!


He rode on. M. Colbert got into his carriage and the distinguished trio
commenced a sufficiently slow pilgrimage toward the wood of Vincennes.
Madame de Chevreuse set down Madame Vanel at her husband's houseand
left alone with M. Colbertchatted upon affairs whilst continuing her
ride. She had an inexhaustible fund of conversationthat dear duchesse
and as she always talked for the ill of othersthough ever with a view
to her own goodher conversation amused her interlocutorand did not
fail to leave a favorable impression.


She taught Colbertwhopoor man! was ignorant of the facthow great a
minister he wasand how Fouquet would soon become a cipher. She
promised to rally around himwhen he should become surintendantall the
old nobility of the kingdomand questioned him as to the preponderance
it would be proper to allow La Valliere. She praised himshe blamed
himshe bewildered him. She showed him the secret of so many secrets
thatfor a momentColbert thought he was doing business with the
devil. She proved to him that she held in her hand the Colbert of to-
dayas she had held the Fouquet of yesterday; and as he asked her very
simply the reason of her hatred for the surintendant: "Why do you
yourself hate him?" said she.


Madame, in politics,replied hethe differences of system oft bring
about dissentions between men. M. Fouquet always appeared to me to
practice a system opposed to the true interests of the king.



She interrupted him. - "I will say no more to you about M. Fouquet. The
journey the king is about to take to Nantes will give a good account of
him. M. Fouquetfor meis a man gone by - and for you also."

Colbert made no reply. "On his return from Nantes continued the
duchesse, the kingwho is only anxious for a pretextwill find that
the States have not behaved well - that they have made too few
sacrifices. The States will say that the imposts are too heavyand that
the surintendant has ruined them. The king will lay all the blame on M.
Fouquetand then - "

And then?said Colbert.

Oh! he will be disgraced. Is not that your opinion?

Colbert darted a glance at the duchessewhich plainly said: "If M.
Fouquet be only disgracedyou will not be the cause of it."

Your place, M. Colbert,the duchesse hastened to saymust be a high
place. Do you perceive any one between the king and yourself, after the
fall of M. Fouquet?

I do not understand,said he.

You _will_ understand. To what does your ambition aspire?

I have none.

It was useless, then, to overthrow the superintendent, Monsieur
Colbert. It was idle.

I had the honor to tell you, madame -

Oh! yes, I know, all about the interest of the king - but, if you
please, we will speak of your own.

Mine! that is to say, the affairs of his majesty.

In short, are you, or are you not endeavoring to ruin M. Fouquet?
Answer without evasion.

Madame, I ruin nobody.

I am endeavoring to comprehend, then, why you purchased from me the
letters of M. Mazarin concerning M. Fouquet. Neither can I conceive why
you have laid those letters before the king.

Colberthalf stupefiedlooked at the duchesse with an air of constraint.

Madame,said heI can less easily conceive how you, who received the
money, can reproach me on that head -

That is,said the old duchessebecause we must will that which we
wish for, unless we are not able to obtain what we wish.

_Will!_said Colbertquite confounded by such coarse logic.

You are not able, _hein!_ Speak.

I am not able, I allow, to destroy certain influences near the king.

That fight in favor of M. Fouquet? What are they? Stop, let me help
you.


Do, madame.
La Valliere?

Oh! very little influence; no knowledge of business, and small means.

M. Fouquet has paid his court to her.
To defend him would be to accuse herself, would it not?
I think it would.

There is still another influence, what do you say to that?
Is it considerable?

The queen-mother, perhaps?

Her majesty, the queen-mother, has a weakness for M. Fouquet very
prejudicial to her son.

Never believe that,said the old duchessesmiling.
Oh!said Colbertwith incredulityI have often experienced it.


Formerly?


Very recently, madame, at Vaux. It was she who prevented the king from
having M. Fouquet arrested.

People do not forever entertain the same opinions, my dear monsieur.
That which the queen may have wished recently, she would not wish,
perhaps, to-day.

And why not?said Colbertastonished.

Oh! the reason is of very little consequence.

On the contrary, I think it is of great consequence; for, if I were
certain of not displeasing her majesty, the queen-mother, my scruples
would be all removed.

Well! have you never heard talk of a certain secret?

A secret?

Call it what you like. In short, the queen-mother has conceived a
bitter hatred for all those who have participated, in one fashion or
another, in the discovery of this secret, and M. Fouquet I believe is one
of these.

Then,said Colbertwe may be sure of the assent of the queen-mother?

I have just left her majesty, and she assures me so.
So be it, then, madame.

But there is something further; do you happen to know a man who was the
intimate friend of M. Fouquet, M. d'Herblay, a bishop, I believe?

Bishop of Vannes.

Well! this M. d'Herblay, who also knew the secret, the queen-mother is
pursuing with the utmost rancor.


Indeed!

So hotly pursued, that if he were dead, she would not be satisfied with
anything less than his head, to satisfy her he would never speak again.

And is that the desire of the queen-mother?

An order is given for it.

This Monsieur d'Herblay shall be sought for, madame.

Oh! it is well known where he is.

Colbert looked at the duchesse.

Say where, madame.

He is at Belle-Ile-en-Mer.

At the residence of M. Fouquet?

At the residence of M. Fouquet.

He shall be taken.

It was now the duchesse's turn to smile. "Do not fancy the capture so
easy said she; do not promise it so lightly."

Why not, madame?

Because M. d'Herblay is not one of those people who can be taken when
and where you please.

He is a rebel, then?

Oh! Monsieur Colbert, we have passed all our lives in making rebels,
and yet you see plainly, that so far from being taken, we take others.

Colbert fixed upon the old duchesse one of those fierce looks of which no
words can convey the expressionaccompanied by a firmness not altogether
wanting in grandeur. "The times are gone said he, in which subjects
gained duchies by making war against the king of France. If M. d'Herblay
conspireshe will perish on the scaffold. That will giveor will not
givepleasure to his enemies- a matterby the wayof little
importance to _us_."

And this _us_a strange word in the mouth of Colbertmade the duchesse
thoughtful for a moment. She caught herself reckoning inwardly with this
man - Colbert had regained his superiority in the conversationand he
meant to keep it.

You ask me, madame,he saidto have this M. d'Herblay arrested?

I? - I ask you nothing of the kind!

I thought you did, madame. But as I have been mistaken, we will leave
him alone; the king has said nothing about him.

The duchesse bit her nails.

Besides,continued Colbertwhat a poor capture would this bishop be!
A bishop game for a king! Oh! no, no; I will not even take the slightest
notice of him.


The hatred of the duchesse now discovered itself.

Game for a woman!said she. "Is not the queen a woman? If she wishes

M. d'Herblay arrestedshe has her reasons. Besidesis not M. d'Herblay
the friend of him who is doomed to fall?"
Oh! never mind that,said Colbert. "This man shall be sparedif he is
not the enemy of the king. Is that displeasing to you?"

I say nothing.

Yes - you wish to see him in prison, in the Bastile, for instance.

I believe a secret better concealed behind the walls of the Bastile than
behind those of Belle-Isle.

I will speak to the king about it; he will clear up the point.

And whilst waiting for that enlightenment, Monsieur l'Eveque de Vannes
will have escaped. I would do so.

Escaped! he! and whither should he escape? Europe is ours, in will, if
not in fact.

He will always find an asylum, monsieur. It is evident you know nothing
of the man you have to do with. You do not know D'Herblay; you do not
know Aramis. He was one of those four musketeers who, under the late
king, made Cardinal de Richelieu tremble, and who, during the regency,
gave so much trouble to Monseigneur Mazarin.

But, madame, what can he do, unless he has a kingdom to back him?

He has one, monsieur.

A kingdom, he! what, Monsieur d'Herblay?

I repeat to you, monsieur, that if he wants a kingdom, he either has it
or will have it.

Well, as you are so earnest that this rebel should not escape, madame, I
promise you he shall not escape.

Belle-Isle is fortified, M. Colbert, and fortified by him.

If Belle-Isle were also defended by him, Belle-Isle is not impregnable;
and if Monsieur l'Eveque de Vannes is shut up in Belle-Isle, well,
madame, the place shall be besieged, and he will be taken.

You may be very certain, monsieur, that the zeal you display in the
interest of the queen-mother will please her majesty mightily, and you
will be magnificently rewarded; but what shall I tell her of your
projects respecting this man?

That when once taken, he shall be shut up in a fortress from which her
secret shall never escape.

Very well, Monsieur Colbert, and we may say, that, dating from this
instant, we have formed a solid alliance, that is, you and I, and that I
am absolutely at your service.

It is I, madame, who place myself at yours. This Chevalier d'Herblay is
a kind of Spanish spy, is he not?


Much more.

A secret ambassador?

Higher still.

Stop - King Phillip III. of Spain is a bigot. He is, perhaps, the
confessor of Phillip III.

You must go higher even than that.

_Mordieu!_cried Colbertwho forgot himself so far as to swear in the
presence of this great ladyof this old friend of the queen-mother. "He
must then be the general of the Jesuits."

I believe you have guessed it at last,replied the duchesse.

Ah! then, madame, this man will ruin us all if we do not ruin him; and
we must make haste, too.

Such was my opinion, monsieur, but I did not dare to give it you.

And it was lucky for us he has attacked the throne, and not us.

But, mark this well, M. Colbert. M. d'Herblay is never discouraged; if
he has missed one blow, he will be sure to make another; he will begin
again. If he has allowed an opportunity to escape of making a king for
himself, sooner or later, he will make another, of whom, to a certainty,
you will not be prime minister.

Colbert knitted his brow with a menacing expression. "I feel assured
that a prison will settle this affair for usmadamein a manner
satisfactory for both."

The duchesse smiled again.

Oh! if you knew,said shehow many times Aramis has got out of
prison!

Oh!replied Colbertwe will take care that he shall not get out
_this_ time.

But you were not attending to what I said to you just now. Do you
remember that Aramis was one of the four invincibles whom Richelieu so
dreaded? And at that period the four musketeers were not in possession
of that which they have now - money and experience.

Colbert bit his lips.

We will renounce the idea of the prison,said hein a lower tone: "we
will find a little retreat from which the invincible cannot possibly
escape."

That was well spoken, our ally!replied the duchesse. "But it is
getting late; had we not better return?"

The more willingly, madame, from my having my preparations to make for
setting out with the king.

To Paris!cried the duchesse to the coachman.

And the carriage returned towards the Faubourg Saint Antoineafter the
conclusion of the treaty that gave to death the last friend of Fouquet
the last defender of Belle-Islethe former friend of Marie Michonthe


new foe of the old duchesse.

Chapter XXXVII:
The Two Lighters.

D'Artagnan had set off; Fouquet likewise was goneand with a rapidity
which doubled the tender interest of his friends. The first moments of
this journeyor better saythis flightwere troubled by a ceaseless
dread of every horse and carriage to be seen behind the fugitive. It was
not naturalin factif Louis XIV. was determined to seize this prey
that he should allow it to escape; the young lion was already accustomed
to the chaseand he had bloodhounds sufficiently clever to be trusted.
But insensibly all fears were dispersed; the surintendantby hard
travelingplaced such a distance between himself and his persecutors
that no one of them could reasonably be expected to overtake him. As to
his positionhis friends had made it excellent for him. Was he not
traveling to join the king at Nantesand what did the rapidity prove but
his zeal to obey? He arrivedfatiguedbut reassuredat Orleanswhere
he foundthanks to the care of a courier who had preceded hima
handsome lighter of eight oars. These lightersin the shape of
gondolassomewhat wide and heavycontaining a small chambercovered by
the deckand a chamber in the poopformed by a tentthen acted as
passage-boats from Orleans to Nantesby the Loireand this passagea
long one in our daysappeared then more easy and convenient than the
high-roadwith its post-hacks and its ill-hung carriages. Fouquet went
on board this lighterwhich set out immediately. The rowersknowing
they had the honor of conveying the surintendant of the financespulled
with all their strengthand that magic wordthe _finances_promised
them a liberal gratificationof which they wished to prove themselves
worthy. The lighter seemed to leap the mimic waves of the Loire.
Magnificent weathera sunrise that empurpled all the landscape
displayed the river in all its limpid serenity. The current and the
rowers carried Fouquet along as wings carry a birdand he arrived before
Beaugency without the slightest accident having signalized the voyage.
Fouquet hoped to be the first to arrive at Nantes; there he would see the
notables and gain support among the principal members of the States; he
would make himself a necessitya thing very easy for a man of his merit
and would delay the catastropheif he did not succeed in avoiding it
entirely. "Besides said Gourville to him, at Nantesyou will make
outor we will make outthe intentions of your enemies; we will have
horses always ready to convey you to Poitoua bark in which to gain the
seaand when once upon the open seaBelle-Isle is your inviolable
port. You seebesidesthat no one is watching youno one is
following." He had scarcely finished when they discovered at a distance
behind an elbow formed by the riverthe masts of a huge lighter coming
down. The rowers of Fouquet's boat uttered a cry of surprise on seeing
this galley.

What is the matter?asked Fouquet.

The matter is, monseigneur,replied the patron of the barkthat it is
a truly remarkable thing - that lighter comes along like a hurricane.

Gourville startedand mounted to the deckin order to obtain a better
view.

Fouquet did not go up with himbut said to Gourvillewith restrained
mistrust: "See what it isdear friend."

The lighter had just passed the elbow. It came on so fastthat behind
it might be plainly seen the white wake illumined with the fires of the
day.


How they go,repeated the skipperhow they go! They must be well
paid! I did not think,he addedthat oars of wood could behave better
than ours, but yonder oarsmen prove the contrary.

Well they may,said one of the rowersthey are twelve, and we but
eight.

Twelve rowers!replied Gourvilletwelve! impossible.

The number of eight rowers for a lighter had never been exceededeven
for the king. This honor had been paid to monsieur le surintendantmore
for the sake of haste than of respect.

What does it mean?said Gourvilleendeavoring to distinguish beneath
the tentwhich was already apparenttravelers which the most piercing
eye could not yet have succeeded in discovering.

They must be in a hurry, for it is not the king,said the patron.

Fouquet shuddered.

By what sign do you know that it is not the king?said Gourville.

In the first place, because there is no white flag with fleurs-de-lis,
which the royal lighter always carries.

And then,said Fouquetbecause it is impossible it should be the
king, Gourville, as the king was still in Paris yesterday.

Gourville replied to the surintendant by a look which said: "You were
there yourself yesterday."

And by what sign do you make out they are in such haste?added hefor
the sake of gaining time.

By this, monsieur,said the patron; "these people must have set out a
long while after usand they have already nearly overtaken us."

Bah!said Gourvillewho told you that they do not come from Beaugency
or from Moit even?

We have seen no lighter of that shape, except at Orleans. It comes from
Orleans, monsieur, and makes great haste.

Fouquet and Gourville exchanged a glance. The captain remarked their
uneasinessandto mislead himGourville immediately said:

Some friend, who has laid a wager he would catch us; let us win the
wager, and not allow him to come up with us.

The patron opened his mouth to say that it was quite impossiblebut
Fouquet said with much _hauteur_- "If it is any one who wishes to
overtake uslet him come."

We can try, monseigneur,said the mantimidly. "Comeyou fellows
put out your strength; rowrow!"

No,said Fouqueton the contrary; stop short.

Monseigneur! what folly!interrupted Gourvillestooping towards his
ear.

Pull up!repeated Fouquet. The eight oars stoppedand resisting the
watercreated a retrograde motion. It stopped. The twelve rowers in


the other did notat firstperceive this maneuverfor they continued
to urge on their boat so vigorously that it arrived quickly within musketshot.
Fouquet was short-sightedGourville was annoyed by the sunnow
full in his eyes; the skipper alonewith that habit and clearness which
are acquired by a constant struggle with the elementsperceived
distinctly the travelers in the neighboring lighter.

I can see them!cried he; "there are two."

I can see nothing,said Gourville.

You will not be long before you distinguish them; in twenty strokes of
their oars they will be within ten paces of us.

But what the patron announced was not realized; the lighter imitated the
movement commanded by Fouquetand instead of coming to join its
pretended friendsit stopped short in the middle of the river.

I cannot comprehend this,said the captain.

Nor I,cried Gourville.

You who can see so plainly the people in that lighter,resumed Fouquet
try to describe them to us, before we are too far off.

I thought I saw two,replied the boatman. "I can only see one now
under the tent."

What sort of man is he?

He is a dark man, broad-shouldered, bull-necked.

A little cloud at that moment passed across the azuredarkening the
sun. Gourvillewho was still lookingwith one hand over his eyes
became able to see what he soughtand all at oncejumping from the
deck into the chamber where Fouquet awaited him: "Colbert!" said hein a
voice broken by emotion.

Colbert!repeated Fouquet. "Too strange! but noit is impossible!"

I tell you I recognized him, and he, at the same time, so plainly
recognized me, that he is just gone into the chamber on the poop.
Perhaps the king has sent him on our track.

In that case he would join us, instead of lying by. What is he doing
there?

He is watching us, without a doubt.

I do not like uncertainty,said Fouquet; "let us go straight up to him."

Oh! monseigneur, do not do that, the lighter is full of armed men.

He wishes to arrest me, then, Gourville? Why does he not come on?

Monseigneur, it is not consistent with your dignity to go to meet even
your ruin.

But to allow them to watch me like a malefactor!

Nothing yet proves that they are watching you, monseigneur; be patient!

What is to be done, then?


Do not stop; you were only going so fast to appear to obey the king's
order with zeal. Redouble the speed. He who lives will see!

That is better. Come!cried Fouquet; "since they remain stock-still
yonderlet us go on."

The captain gave the signaland Fouquet's rowers resumed their task with
all the success that could be looked for from men who had rested.
Scarcely had the lighter made a hundred fathomsthan the otherthat
with the twelve rowersresumed its rapid course. This position lasted
all daywithout any increase or diminution of distance between the two
vessels. Towards evening Fouquet wished to try the intentions of his
persecutor. He ordered his rowers to pull towards the shoreas if to
effect a landing. Colbert's lighter imitated this maneuverand steered
towards the shore in a slanting direction. By the merest chanceat the
spot where Fouquet pretended to wish to landa stablemanfrom the
chateau of Langeaiswas following the flowery banks leading three horses
in halters. Without doubt the people of the twelve-oared lighter fancied
that Fouquet was directing his course to these horses ready for flight
for four or five menarmed with musketsjumped from the lighter on to
the shoreand marched along the banksas if to gain ground on the
horseman. Fouquetsatisfied of having forced the enemy to a
demonstrationconsidered his intention evidentand put his boat in
motion again. Colbert's people returned likewise to theirsand the
course of the two vessels was resumed with fresh perseverance. Upon
seeing thisFouquet felt himself threatened closelyand in a prophetic
voice - "WellGourville said he, whisperingly, what did I say at our
last repastat my house? Am I goingor notto my ruin?"

Oh! monseigneur!

These two boats, which follow each other with so much emulation, as if
we were disputing, M. Colbert and I, a prize for swiftness on the Loire,
do they not aptly represent our fortunes; and do you not believe,
Gourville, that one of the two will be wrecked at Nantes?

At least,objected Gourvillethere is still uncertainty; you are
about to appear at the States; you are about to show what sort of man you
are; your eloquence and genius for business are the buckler and sword
that will serve to defend you, if not to conquer with. The Bretons do
not know you; and when they become acquainted with you your cause is
won! Oh! let M. Colbert look to it well, for his lighter is as much
exposed as yours to being upset. Both go quickly, his faster than yours,
it is true; we shall see which will be wrecked first.

Fouquettaking Gourville's hand - "My friend said he, everything
consideredremember the proverb'First comefirst served!' Well! M.
Colbert takes care not to pass me. He is a prudent man is M. Colbert."

He was right; the two lighters held their course as far as Nantes
watching each other. When the surintendant landedGourville hoped he
should be able to seek refuge at onceand have the relays prepared.
Butat the landingthe second lighter joined the firstand Colbert
approaching Fouquetsaluted him on the quay with marks of the
profoundest respect - marks so significantso publicthat their result
was the bringing of the whole population upon La Fosse. Fouquet was
completely self-possessed; he felt that in his last moments of greatness
he had obligations towards himself. He wished to fall from such a height
that his fall should crush some of his enemies. Colbert was there - so
much the worse for Colbert. The surintendantthereforecoming up to
himrepliedwith that arrogant semi-closure of the eyes peculiar to
him - "What! is that youM. Colbert?"

To offer you my respects, monseigneur,said the latter.


Were you in that lighter?- pointing to the one with twelve rowers.

Yes, monseigneur.

Of twelve rowers?said Fouquet; "what luxuryM. Colbert. For a
moment I thought it was the queen-mother."

Monseigneur!- and Colbert blushed.

This is a voyage that will cost those who have to pay for it dear,
Monsieur l'Intendant!said Fouquet. "But you havehappilyarrived! –
You seehowever added he, a moment after, that Iwho had but eight
rowersarrived before you." And he turned his back towards himleaving
him uncertain whether the maneuvers of the second lighter had escaped the
notice of the first. At least he did not give him the satisfaction of
showing that he had been frightened. Colbertso annoyingly attacked
did not give way.

I have not been quick, monseigneur,he repliedbecause I followed
your example whenever you stopped.

And why did you do that, Monsieur Colbert?cried Fouquetirritated by
the base audacity; "as you had a superior crew to minewhy did you not
either join me or pass me?"

Out of respect,said the intendantbowing to the ground.

Fouquet got into a carriage which the city had sent to himwe know not
why or howand he repaired to _la Maison de Nantes_escorted by a vast
crowd of peoplewho for several days had been agog with expectation of a
convocation of the States. Scarcely was he installed when Gourville went
out to order horses on the route to Poitiers and Vannesand a boat at
Paimboef. He performed these various operations with so much mystery
activityand generositythat never was Fouquetthen laboring under an
attack of fevermore nearly savedexcept for the counteraction of that
immense disturber of human projects- chance. A report was spread
during the nightthat the king was coming in great haste on post horses
and would arrive in ten or twelve hours at the latest. The peoplewhile
waiting for the kingwere greatly rejoiced to see the musketeersnewly
arrivedwith Monsieur d'Artagnantheir captainand quartered in the
castleof which they occupied all the postsin quality of guard of
honor. M. d'Artagnanwho was very politepresented himselfabout
ten o'clockat the lodgings of the surintendant to pay his respectful
compliments; and although the minister suffered from feveralthough he
was in such pain as to be bathed in sweathe would receive M.
d'Artagnanwho was delighted with that honoras will be seen by the
conversation they had together.

Chapter XXXVIII:
Friendly Advice.

Fouquet had gone to bedlike a man who clings to lifeand wishes to
economizeas much as possiblethat slender tissue of existenceof
which the shocks and frictions of this world so quickly wear out the
tenuity. D'Artagnan appeared at the door of this chamberand was
saluted by the superintendent with a very affable "Good day."

_Bon jour!_ monseigneur,replied the musketeer; "how did you get
through the journey?"

Tolerably well, thank you.


And the fever?

But poorly. I drink, as you perceive. I am scarcely arrived, and I
have already levied a contribution of _tisane_ upon Nantes.

You should sleep first, monseigneur.

Eh! _corbleu!_ my dear Monsieur d'Artagnan, I should be very glad to
sleep.

Who hinders you?

Why, _you_ in the first place.

I? Oh, monseigneur!

No doubt you do. Is it at Nantes as at Paris? Do you not come in the
king's name?

For Heaven's sake, monseigneur,replied the captainleave the king
alone! The day on which I shall come on the part of the king, for the
purpose you mean, take my word for it, I will not leave you long in
doubt. You will see me place my hand on my sword, according to the
_ordonnance_, and you will hear my say at once, in ceremonial voice,
'Monseigneur, in the name of the king, I arrest you!'

You promise me that frankness?said the superintendent.

Upon my honor! But we have not come to that, believe me.

What makes you think that, M. d'Artagnan? For my part, I think quite
the contrary.

I have heard speak of nothing of the kind,replied D'Artagnan.

Eh! eh!said Fouquet.

Indeed, no. You are an agreeable man, in spite of your fever. The king
should not, cannot help loving you, at the bottom of his heart.

Fouquet's expression implied doubt. "But M. Colbert?" said he; "does M.
Colbert love me as much as you say?"

I am not speaking of M. Colbert,replied D'Artagnan. "He is an
exceptional man. He does not love you; so much is very possible; but
_mordioux!_ the squirrel can guard himself against the adder with very
little trouble."

Do you know that you are speaking to me quite as a friend?replied
Fouquet; "and thatupon my life! I have never met with a man of your
intelligenceand heart?"

You are pleased to say so,replied D'Artagnan. "Why did you wait till
to-day to pay me such a compliment?"

Blind that we are!murmured Fouquet.

Your voice is getting hoarse,said D'Artagnan; "drinkmonseigneur
drink!" And he offered him a cup of _tisane_with the most friendly
cordiality; Fouquet took itand thanked him by a gentle smile. "Such
things only happen to me said the musketeer. I have passed ten years
under your very beardwhile you were rolling about tons of gold. You
were clearing an annual pension of four millions; you never observed me;
and you find out there is such a person in the worldjust at the moment


you - "

Just at the moment I am about to fall,interrupted Fouquet. "That is
truemy dear Monsieur d'Artagnan."

I did not say so.

But you thought so; and that is the same thing. Well! if I fall, take
my word as truth, I shall not pass a single day without saying to myself,
as I strike my brow, 'Fool! fool! - stupid mortal! You had a Monsieur
d'Artagnan under your eye and hand, and you did not employ him, you did
not enrich him!'

You overwhelm me,said the captain. "I esteem you greatly."

There exists another man, then, who does not think as M. Colbert
thinks,said the surintendant.

How this M. Colbert looms up in your imagination! He is worse than
fever!

Oh! I have good cause,said Fouquet. "Judge for yourself." And he
related the details of the course of the lightersand the hypocritical
persecution of Colbert. "Is not this a clear sign of my ruin?"

D'Artagnan became very serious. "That is true he said. Yes; it has
an unsavory odoras M. de Treville used to say." And he fixed on M.
Fouquet his intelligent and significant look.

Am I not clearly designated in that, captain? Is not the king bringing
me to Nantes to get me away from Paris, where I have so many creatures,
and to possess himself of Belle-Isle?

Where M. d'Herblay is,added D'Artagnan. Fouquet raised his head. "As
for memonseigneur continued D'Artagnan, I can assure you the king
has said nothing to me against you."

Indeed!

The king commanded me to set out for Nantes, it is true; and to say
nothing about it to M. de Gesvres.

My friend.

To M. de Gesvres, yes, monseigneur,continued the musketeerwhose eye
s did not cease to speak a language different from the language of his
lips. "The kingmoreovercommanded me to take a brigade of musketeers
which is apparently superfluousas the country is quite quiet."

A brigade!said Fouquetraising himself upon his elbow.

Ninety-six horsemen, yes, monseigneur. The same number as were employed
in arresting MM. de Chalais, de Cinq-Mars, and Montmorency.

Fouquet pricked up his ears at these wordspronounced without apparent
value. "And what else?" said he.

Oh! nothing but insignificant orders; such as guarding the castle,
guarding every lodging, allowing none of M. de Gesvres's guards to occupy
a single post.

And as to myself,cried Fouquetwhat orders had you?

As to you, monseigneur? - not the smallest word.


Monsieur d'Artagnan, my safety, my honor, perhaps my life are at stake.
You would not deceive me?

I? - to what end? Are you threatened? Only there really is an order
with respect to carriages and boats -

An order?

Yes; but it cannot concern you - a simple measure of police.

What is it, captain? - what is it?

To forbid all horses or boats to leave Nantes, without a pass, signed by
the king.

Great God! but -

D'Artagnan began to laugh. "All that is not to be put into execution
before the arrival of the king at Nantes. So that you see plainly
monseigneurthe order in nowise concerns you."

Fouquet became thoughtfuland D'Artagnan feigned not to observe his
preoccupation. "It is evidentby my thus confiding to you the orders
which have been given to methat I am friendly towards youand that I
am trying to prove to you that none of them are directed against you."

Without doubt! - without doubt!said Fouquetstill absent.

Let us recapitulate,said the captainhis glance beaming with
earnestness. "A special guard about the castlein which your lodging is
to beis it not?"

Do you know the castle?

Ah! monseigneur, a regular prison! The absence of M. de Gesvres, who
has the honor of being one of your friends. The closing of the gates of
the city, and of the river without a pass; but, only when the king shall
have arrived. Please to observe, Monsieur Fouquet, that if, instead of
speaking to man like you, who are one of the first in the kingdom, I were
speaking to a troubled, uneasy conscience - I should compromise myself
forever. What a fine opportunity for any one who wished to be free! No
police, no guards, no orders; the water free, the roads free, Monsieur
d'Artagnan obliged to lend his horses, if required. All this ought to
reassure you, Monsieur Fouquet, for the king would not have left me thus
independent, if he had any sinister designs. In truth, Monsieur Fouquet,
ask me whatever you like, I am at your service; and, in return, if you
will consent to do it, do me a service, that of giving my compliments to
Aramis and Porthos, in case you embark for Belle-Isle, as you have a
right to do without changing your dress, immediately, in your _robe de
chambre_ - just as you are.Saying these wordsand with a profound
bowthe musketeerwhose looks had lost none of their intelligent
kindnessleft the apartment. He had not reached the steps of the
vestibulewhen Fouquetquite beside himselfhung to the bell-ropeand
shoutedMy horses! - my lighter!But nobody answered. The
surintendant dressed himself with everything that came to hand.

Gourville! - Gourville!cried hewhile slipping his watch into his
pocket. And the bell sounded againwhilst Fouquet repeatedGourville!

-Gourville!
Gourville at length appearedbreathless and pale.

Let us be gone! Let us be gone!cried Fouquetas soon as he saw him.


It is too late!said the surintendant's poor friend.

Too late! - why?

Listen!And they heard the sounds of trumpets and drums in front of
the castle.

What does that mean, Gourville?

It means the king is come, monseigneur.

The king!

The king, who has ridden double stages, who has killed horses, and who
is eight hours in advance of all our calculations.

We are lost!murmured Fouquet. "Brave D'Artagnanall is overthou
has spoken to me too late!"

The kingin factwas entering the citywhich soon resounded with the
cannon from the rampartsand from a vessel which replied from the lower
parts of the river. Fouquet's brow darkened; he called his _valets de
chambre_ and dressed in ceremonial costume. From his windowbehind the
curtainshe could see the eagerness of the peopleand the movement of a
large troopwhich had followed the prince. The king was conducted to
the castle with great pompand Fouquet saw him dismount under the
portcullisand say something in the ear of D'Artagnanwho held his
stirrup. D'Artagnanwhen the king had passed under the archdirected
his steps towards the house Fouquet was in; but so slowlyand stopping
so frequently to speak to his musketeersdrawn up like a hedgethat it
might be said he was counting the secondsor the stepsbefore
accomplishing his object. Fouquet opened the window to speak to him in
the court.

Ah!cried D'Artagnanon perceiving himare you still there,
monseigneur?

And that word _still_ completed the proof to Fouquet of how much
information and how many useful counsels were contained in the first
visit the musketeer had paid him. The surintendant sighed deeply.
Good heavens! yes, monsieur,replied he. "The arrival of the king has
interrupted me in the projects I had formed."

Oh, then you know that the king has arrived?

Yes, monsieur, I have seen him; and this time you come from him -

To inquire after you, monseigneur; and, if your health is not too bad,
to beg you to have the kindness to repair to the castle.

Directly, Monsieur d'Artagnan, directly!

Ah, _mordioux!_said the captainnow the king is come, there is no
more walking for anybody - no more free will; the password governs all
now, you as much as me, me as much as you.

Fouquet heaved a last sighclimbed with difficulty into his carriageso
great was his weaknessand went to the castleescorted by D'Artagnan
whose politeness was not less terrifying this time than it had just
before been consoling and cheerful.

Chapter XXXIX:


How the KingLouis XIV.Played His Little Part.

As Fouquet was alighting from his carriageto enter the castle of
Nantesa man of mean appearance went up to him with marks of the
greatest respectand gave him a letter. D'Artagnan endeavored to
prevent this man from speaking to Fouquetand pushed him awaybut the
message had been given to the surintendant. Fouquet opened the letter
and read itand instantly a vague terrorwhich D'Artagnan did not fail
to penetratewas painted on the countenance of the first minister.
Fouquet put the paper into the portfolio which he had under his armand
passed on towards the king's apartments. D'Artagnanthrough the small
windows made at every landing of the donjon stairssawas he went up
behind Fouquetthe man who had delivered the notelooking round him on
the place and making signs to several personswho disappeared in the
adjacent streetsafter having themselves repeated the signals. Fouquet
was made to wait for a moment on the terrace of which we have spoken- a
terrace which abutted on the little corridorat the end of which the
cabinet of the king was located. Here D'Artagnan passed on before the
surintendantwhomtill that timehe had respectfully accompaniedand
entered the royal cabinet.

Well?asked Louis XIV.whoon perceiving himthrew on to the table
covered with papers a large green cloth.

The order is executed, sire.

And Fouquet?

Monsieur le surintendant follows me,said D'Artagnan.

In ten minutes let him be introduced,said the kingdismissing
D'Artagnan again with a gesture. The latter retired; but had scarcely
reached the corridor at the extremity of which Fouquet was waiting for
himwhen he was recalled by the king's bell.

Did he not appear astonished?asked the king.

Who, sire?

_Fouquet_,replied the kingwithout saying monsieura peculiarity
which confirmed the captain of the musketeers in his suspicions.

No, sire,replied he.

That's well!And a second time Louis dismissed D'Artagnan.

Fouquet had not quitted the terrace where he had been left by his guide.
He reperused his noteconceived thus:

Something is being contrived against you. Perhaps they will not dare to
carry it out at the castle; it will be on your return home. The house is
already surrounded by musketeers. Do not enter. A white horse is in
waiting for you behind the esplanade!

Fouquet recognized the writing and zeal of Gourville. Not being willing
thatif any evil happened to himselfthis paper should compromise a
faithful friendthe surintendant was busy tearing it into a thousand
morselsspread about by the wind from the balustrade of the terrace.
D'Artagnan found him watching the snowflake fluttering of the last scraps
in space.

Monsieur,said hethe king awaits you.

Fouquet walked with a deliberate step along the little corridorwhere


MM. de Brienne and Rose were at workwhilst the Duc de Saint-Aignan
seated on a chairlikewise in the corridorappeared to be waiting for
orderswith feverish impatiencehis sword between his legs. It
appeared strange to Fouquet that MM. BrienneRoseand de Saint-Aignan
in general so attentive and obsequiousshould scarcely take the least
noticeas hethe surintendantpassed. But how could he expect to find
it otherwise among courtiershe whom the king no longer called anything
but _Fouquet?_ He raised his headdetermined to look every one and
everything bravely in the faceand entered the king's apartmentwhere a
little bellwhich we already knowhad already announced him to his
majesty.

The kingwithout risingnodded to himand with interest: "Well! how
are youMonsieur Fouquet?" said he.

I am in a high fever,replied the surintendant; "but I am at the king's
service."

That is well; the States assemble to-morrow; have you a speech ready?

Fouquet looked at the king with astonishment. "I have notsire
replied he; but I will improvise one. I am too well acquainted with
affairs to feel any embarrassment. I have only one question to ask; will
your majesty permit me?"

Certainly. Ask it.

Why did not your majesty do his first minister the honor of giving him
notice of this in Paris?

You were ill; I was not willing to fatigue you.

Never did a labor - never did an explanation fatigue me, sire; and since
the moment is come for me to demand an explanation of my king -

Oh, Monsieur Fouquet! an explanation? An explanation, pray, of what?

Of your majesty's intentions with respect to myself.

The king blushed. "I have been calumniated continued Fouquet, warmly,
and I feel called upon to adjure the justice of the king to make
inquiries."

You say all this to me very uselessly, Monsieur Fouquet; I know what I
know.

Your majesty can only know the things that have been told to you; and I,
on my part, have said nothing to you, whilst others have spoken many,
many times -

What do you wish to say?said the kingimpatient to put an end to this
embarrassing conversation.

I will go straight to the facts, sire; and I accuse a certain man of
having injured me in your majesty's opinion.

Nobody has injured you, Monsieur Fouquet.

That reply proves to me, sire, that I am right.

Monsieur Fouquet, I do not like people to be accused.

Not when one is accused?


We have already spoken too much about this affair.

Your majesty will not allow me to justify myself?

I repeat that I do not accuse you.

Fouquetwith a half-bowmade a step backward. "It is certain thought
he, that he has made up his mind. He alone who cannot go back can show
such obstinacy. Not to see the danger now would be to be blind indeed;
not to shun it would be stupid." He resumed aloudDid your majesty
send for me on business?

No, Monsieur Fouquet, but for some advice I wish to give you.

I respectfully await it, sire.

Rest yourself, Monsieur Fouquet, do not throw away your strength; the
session of the States will be short, and when my secretaries shall have
closed it, I do not wish business to be talked of in France for a
fortnight.

Has the king nothing to say to me on the subject of this assembly of the
States?

No, Monsieur Fouquet.

Not to me, the surintendant of the finances?

Rest yourself, I beg you; that is all I have to say to you.

Fouquet bit his lips and hung his head. He was evidently busy with some
uneasy thought. This uneasiness struck the king. "Are you angry at
having to rest yourselfM. Fouquet?" said he.

Yes, sire, I am not accustomed to take rest.

But you are ill; you must take care of yourself.

Your majesty spoke just now of a speech to be pronounced to-morrow.

His majesty made no reply; this unexpected stroke embarrassed him.
Fouquet felt the weight of this hesitation. He thought he could read
danger in the eyes of the young princewhich fear would but
precipitate. "If I appear frightenedI am lost thought he.

The king, on his part, was only uneasy at the alarm of Fouquet. Has he
a suspicion of anything?" murmured he.

If his first word is severe,again thought Fouquet; "if he becomes
angryor feigns to be angry for the sake of a pretexthow shall I
extricate myself? Let us smooth the declivity a little. Gourville was
right."

Sire,said hesuddenlysince the goodness of the king watches over
my health to the point of dispensing with my labor, may I not be allowed
to be absent from the council of to-morrow? I could pass the day in bed,
and will entreat the king to grant me his physician, that we may endeavor
to find a remedy against this fearful fever.

So be it, Monsieur Fouquet, it shall be as you desire; you shall have a
holiday to-morrow, you shall have the physician, and shall be restored to
health.

Thanks!said Fouquetbowing. Thenopening his game: "Shall I not


have the happiness of conducting your majesty to my residence of Belle-
Isle?"

And he looked Louis full in the faceto judge of the effect of such a
proposal. The king blushed again.

Do you know,replied heendeavoring to smilethat you have just
said, 'My residence of Belle-Isle'?

Yes, sire.

Well! do you not remember,continued the king in the same cheerful
tonethat you gave me Belle-Isle?

That is true again, sire. Only, as you have not taken it, you will
doubtless come with me and take possession of it.

I mean to do so.

That was, besides, your majesty's intention as well as mine; and I
cannot express to your majesty how happy and proud I have been to see all
the king's regiments from Paris to help take possession.

The king stammered out that he did not bring the musketeers for that
alone.

Oh, I am convinced of that,said Fouquetwarmly; "your majesty knows
very well that you have nothing to do but to come alone with a cane in
your handto bring to the ground all the fortifications of Belle-Isle."

_Peste!_cried the king; "I do not wish those fine fortifications
which cost so much to buildto fall at all. Nolet them stand against
the Dutch and English. You would not guess what I want to see at Belle-
IsleMonsieur Fouquet; it is the pretty peasants and women of the lands
on the sea-shorewho dance so welland are so seducing with their
scarlet petticoats! I have heard great boast of your pretty tenants
monsieur le surintendant; welllet me have a sight of them."

Whenever your majesty pleases.

Have you any means of transport? It shall be to-morrow, if you like.

The surintendant felt this strokewhich was not adroitand replied
No, sire; I was ignorant of your majesty's wish; above all, I was
ignorant of your haste to see Belle-Isle, and I am prepared with nothing.

You have a boat of your own, nevertheless?

I have five; but they are all in port, or at Paimboeuf; and to join
them, or bring them hither, would require at least twenty-four hours.
Have I any occasion to send a courier? Must I do so?

Wait a little, put an end to the fever, - wait till to-morrow.

That is true. Who knows but that by to-morrow we may not have a hundred
other ideas?replied Fouquetnow perfectly convinced and very pale.

The king startedand stretched his hand out towards his little bellbut
Fouquet prevented his ringing.

Sire,said heI have an ague - I am trembling with cold. If I remain
a moment longer, I shall most likely faint. I request your majesty's
permission to go and fling myself beneath the bedclothes.


Indeed, you are in a shiver; it is painful to behold! Come, Monsieur
Fouquet, begone! I will send to inquire after you.

Your majesty overwhelms me with kindness. In an hour I shall be better.

I will call some one to reconduct you,said the king.

As you please, sire; I would gladly take the arm of any one.

Monsieur d'Artagnan!cried the kingringing his little bell.

Oh, sire,interrupted Fouquetlaughing in such a manner as made the
prince feel coldwould you give me the captain of your musketeers to
take me to my lodgings? An equivocal honor that, sire! A simple
footman, I beg.

And why, M. Fouquet? M. d'Artagnan conducts me often, and extremely
well!

Yes, but when he conducts you, sire, it is to obey you; whilst me -

Go on!

If I am obliged to return home supported by the leader of the
musketeers, it would be everywhere said you had had me arrested.

Arrested!replied the kingwho became paler than Fouquet himself
arrested! oh!

And why should they not say so?continued Fouquetstill laughing; "and
I would lay a wager there would be people found wicked enough to laugh at
it." This sally disconcerted the monarch. Fouquet was skillful enough
or fortunate enoughto make Louis XIV. recoil before the appearance of
the deed he meditated. M. d'Artagnanwhen he appearedreceived an
order to desire a musketeer to accompany the surintendant.

Quite unnecessary,said the latter; "sword for sword; I prefer
Gourvillewho is waiting for me below. But that will not prevent me
enjoying the society of M. d'Artagnan. I am glad he will see Belle-Isle
he is so good a judge of fortifications."

D'Artagnan bowedwithout at all comprehending what was going on.
Fouquet bowed again and left the apartmentaffecting all the slowness of
a man who walks with difficulty. When once out of the castleI am
saved!said he. "Oh! yesdisloyal kingyou shall see Belle-Islebut
it shall be when I am no longer there."

He disappearedleaving D'Artagnan with the king.

Captain,said the kingyou will follow M. Fouquet at the distance of
a hundred paces.

Yes, sire.

He is going to his lodgings again. You will go with him.

Yes, sire.

You will arrest him in my name, and will shut him up in a carriage.

In a carriage. Well, sire?

In such a fashion that he may not, on the road, either converse with any
one or throw notes to people he may meet.


That will be rather difficult, sire.

Not at all.

Pardon me, sire, I cannot stifle M. Fouquet, and if he asks for liberty
to breathe, I cannot prevent him by closing both the windows and the
blinds. He will throw out at the doors all the cries and notes possible.

The case is provided for, Monsieur d'Artagnan; a carriage with a trellis
will obviate both the difficulties you point out.

A carriage with an iron trellis!cried D'Artagnan; "but a carriage with
an iron trellis is not made in half an hourand your majesty commands me
to go immediately to M. Fouquet's lodgings."

The carriage in question is already made.

Ah! that is quite a different thing,said the captain; "if the carriage
is ready madevery wellthenwe have only to set it in motion."

It is ready - and the horses harnessed.

Ah!

And the coachman, with the outriders, is waiting in the lower court of
the castle.

D'Artagnan bowed. "There only remains for me to ask your majesty whither
I shall conduct M. Fouquet."

To the castle of Angers, at first.

Very well, sire.

Afterwards we will see.

Yes, sire.

Monsieur d'Artagnan, one last word: you have remarked that, for making
this capture of M. Fouquet, I have not employed my guards, on which
account M. de Gesvres will be furious.

Your majesty does not employ your guards,said the captaina little
humiliatedbecause you mistrust M. de Gesvres, that is all.

That is to say, monsieur, that I have more confidence in you.

I know that very well, sire! and it is of no use to make so much of it.

It is only for the sake of arriving at this, monsieur, that if, from
this moment, it should happen that by any chance whatever M. Fouquet
should escape - such chances have been, monsieur -

Oh! very often, sire; but for others, not for me.

And why not with you?

Because I, sire, have, for an instant, wished to save M. Fouquet.

The king started. "Because continued the captain, I had then a right
to do sohaving guessed your majesty's planwithout you having spoken
to me of itand that I took an interest in M. Fouquet. Nowwas I not
at liberty to show my interest in this man?"


In truth, monsieur, you do not reassure me with regard to your services.


If I had saved him then, I should have been perfectly innocent; I will
say more, I should have done well, for M. Fouquet is not a bad man. But
he was not willing; his destiny prevailed; he let the hour of liberty
slip by. So much the worse! Now I have orders, I will obey those
orders, and M. Fouquet you may consider as a man arrested. He is at the
castle of Angers, this very M. Fouquet.


Oh! you have not got him yet, captain.


That concerns me; every one to his trade, sire; only, once more,
reflect! Do you seriously give me orders to arrest M. Fouquet, sire?


Yes, a thousand times, yes!


In writing, sire, then.


Here is the order.


D'Artagnan read itbowed to the kingand left the room. From the
height of the terrace he perceived Gourvillewho went by with a joyous
air towards the lodgings of M. Fouquet.


Chapter XL:
The White Horse and the Black.


That is rather surprising,said D'Artagnan; "Gourville running about
the streets so gaylywhen he is almost certain that M. Fouquet is in
danger; when it is almost equally certain that it was Gourville who
warned M. Fouquet just now by the note which was torn into a thousand
pieces upon the terraceand given to the winds by monsieur le
surintendant. Gourville is rubbing his hands; that is because he has
done something clever. Whence comes M. Gourville? Gourville is coming
from the Rue aux Herbes. Whither does the Rue aux Herbes lead?" And
D'Artagnan followedalong the tops of the houses of Nantesdominated by
the castlethe line traced by the streetsas he would have done upon a
topographical plan; onlyinstead of the deadflat paperthe living
chart rose in relief with the criesthe movementsand the shadows of
men and things. Beyond the inclosure of the citythe great verdant
plains stretched outbordering the Loireand appeared to run towards
the pink horizonwhich was cut by the azure of the waters and the dark
green of the marshes. Immediately outside the gates of Nantes two white
roads were seen diverging like separate fingers of a gigantic hand.
D'Artagnanwho had taken in all the panorama at a glance by crossing the
terracewas led by the line of the Rue aux Herbes to the mouth of one of
those roads which took its rise under the gates of Nantes. One step
moreand he was about to descend the stairstake his trellised
carriageand go towards the lodgings of M. Fouquet. But chance decreed
at the moment of plunging into the staircasethat he was attracted by a
moving point then gaining ground upon that road.


What is that?said the musketeer to himself; "a horse galloping- a
runaway horseno doubt. What a rate he is going at!" The moving point
became detached from the roadand entered into the fields. "A white
horse continued the captain, who had just observed the color thrown
luminously against the dark ground, and he is mounted; it must be some
boy whose horse is thirsty and has run away with him."


These reflectionsrapid as lightningsimultaneous with visual
perceptionD'Artagnan had already forgotten when he descended the first
steps of the staircase. Some morsels of paper were spread over the



stairsand shone out white against the dirty stones. "Eh! eh!" said
the captain to himselfhere are some of the fragments of the note torn
by M. Fouquet. Poor man! he has given his secret to the wind; the wind
will have no more to do with it, and brings it back to the king.
Decidedly, Fouquet, you play with misfortune! the game is not a fair one,

-fortune is against you. The star of Louis XIV. obscures yours; the
adder is stronger and more cunning than the squirrel.D'Artagnan picked
up one of these morsels of paper as he descended. "Gourville's pretty
little hand!" cried hewhilst examining one of the fragments of the
note; "I was not mistaken." And he read the word "horse." "Stop!" said
he; and he examined anotherupon which there was not a letter traced.
Upon a third he read the word "white;" "white horse repeated he, like a
child that is spelling. Ah_mordioux!_" cried the suspicious spirit
a white horse!Andlike that grain of powder whichburningdilates
into ten thousand times its volumeD'Artagnanenlightened by ideas and
suspicionsrapidly reascended the stairs towards the terrace. The white
horse was still galloping in the direction of the Loireat the extremity
of whichmelting into the vapors of the watera little sail appeared
wave-balanced like a water-butterfly. "Oh!" cried the musketeeronly a
man who wants to fly would go at that pace across plowed lands; there is
but one Fouquet, a financier, to ride thus in open day upon a white
horse; there is no one but the lord of Belle-Isle who would make his
escape towards the sea, while there are such thick forests on land, and
there is but one D'Artagnan in the world to catch M. Fouquet, who has
half an hour's start, and who will have gained his boat within an hour.
This being saidthe musketeer gave orders that the carriage with the
iron trellis should be taken immediately to a thicket situated just
outside the city. He selected his best horsejumped upon his back
galloped along the Rue aux Herbestakingnot the road Fouquet had
takenbut the bank itself of the Loirecertain that he should gain ten
minutes upon the total distanceandat the intersection of the two
linescome up with the fugitivewho could have no suspicion of being
pursued in that direction. In the rapidity of the pursuitand with the
impatience of the avengeranimating himself as in warD'Artagnanso
mildso kind towards Fouquetwas surprised to find himself become
ferocious - almost sanguinary. For a long time he galloped without
catching sight of the white horse. His rage assumed furyhe doubted
himself- he suspected that Fouquet had buried himself in some
subterranean roador that he had changed the white horse for one of
those famous black onesas swift as the windwhich D'Artagnanat Saint-
Mandehad so frequently admired and envied for their vigor and their
fleetness.
At such momentswhen the wind cut his eyes so as to make the tears
spring from themwhen the saddle had become burning hotwhen the galled
and spurred horse reared with painand threw behind him a shower of dust
and stonesD'Artagnanraising himself in his stirrupsand seeing
nothing on the watersnothing beneath the treeslooked up into the air
like a madman. He was losing his senses. In the paroxysms of eagerness
he dreamt of aerial ways- the discovery of following century; he called
to his mind Daedalus and the vast wings that had saved him from the
prisons of Crete. A hoarse sigh broke from his lipsas he repeated
devoured by the fear of ridiculeI! I! duped by a Gourville! I! They
will say that I am growing old, - they will say I have received a million
to allow Fouquet to escape!And he again dug his spurs into the sides
of his horse: he had ridden astonishingly fast. Suddenlyat the
extremity of some open pasture-groundbehind the hedgeshe saw a white
form which showed itselfdisappearedand at last remained distinctly
visible against the rising ground. D'Artagnan's heart leaped with joy.
He wiped the streaming sweat from his browrelaxed the tension of his
knees- by which the horse breathed more freely- andgathering up his
reinsmoderated the speed of the vigorous animalhis active accomplice
on this man-hunt. He had then time to study the direction of the road
and his position with regard to Fouquet. The superintendent had


completely winded his horse by crossing the soft ground. He felt the
necessity of gaining a firmer footingand turned towards the road by the
shortest secant line. D'Artagnanon his parthad nothing to do but to
ride straight onconcealed by the sloping shore; so that he would cut
his quarry off the road when he came up with him. Then the real race
would begin- then the struggle would be in earnest.

D'Artagnan gave his horse good breathing-time. He observed that the
superintendent had relaxed into a trotwhich was to sayhetoowas
favoring his horse. But both of them were too much pressed for time to
allow them to continue long at that pace. The white horse sprang off
like an arrow the moment his feet touched firm ground. D'Artagnan
dropped his headand his black horse broke into a gallop. Both followed
the same route; the quadruple echoes of this new race-course were
confounded. Fouquet had not yet perceived D'Artagnan. But on issuing
from the slopea single echo struck the air; it was that of the steps
of D'Artagnan's horsewhich rolled along like thunder. Fouquet turned
roundand saw behind himwithin a hundred paceshis enemy bent over
the neck of his horse. There could be no doubt - the shining baldrick
the red cassock - it was a musketeer. Fouquet slackened his hand
likewiseand the white horse placed twenty feet more between his
adversary and himself.

Oh, but,thought D'Artagnanbecoming very anxiousthat is not a
common horse M. Fouquet is upon - let us see!And he attentively
examined with his infallible eye the shape and capabilities of the
courser. Round full quarters - a thin long tail - large hocks - thin
legsas dry as bars of steel - hoofs hard as marble. He spurred his
ownbut the distance between the two remained the same. D'Artagnan
listened attentively; not a breath of the horse reached himand yet he
seemed to cut the air. The black horseon the contrarybegan to puff
like any blacksmith's bellows.

I must overtake him, if I kill my horse,thought the musketeer; and he
began to saw the mouth of the poor animalwhilst he buried the rowels of
his merciless spurs into his sides. The maddened horse gained twenty
toisesand came up within pistol-shot of Fouquet.

Courage!said the musketeer to himselfcourage! the white horse will
perhaps grow weaker, and if the horse does not fall, the master must pull
up at last.But horse and rider remained upright togethergaining
ground by difficult degrees. D'Artagnan uttered a wild crywhich made
Fouquet turn roundand added speed to the white horse.

A famous horse! a mad rider!growled the captain. "Hola! _mordioux!_
Monsieur Fouquet! stop! in the king's name!" Fouquet made no reply.

Do you hear me?shouted D'Artagnanwhose horse had just stumbled.

_Pardieu!_replied Fouquetlaconically; and rode on faster.

D'Artagnan was nearly mad; the blood rushed boiling to his temples and
his eyes. "In the king's name!" cried he againstop, or I will bring
you down with a pistol-shot!

Do!replied Fouquetwithout relaxing his speed.

D'Artagnan seized a pistol and cocked ithoping that the double click of
the spring would stop his enemy. "You have pistols likewise said he,
turn and defend yourself."

Fouquet did turn round at the noiseand looking D'Artagnan full in the
faceopenedwith his right handthe part of his dress which concealed
his bodybut he did not even touch his holsters. There were not more


than twenty paces between the two.

_Mordioux!_said D'ArtagnanI will not assassinate you; if you will
not fire upon me, surrender! what is a prison?

I would rather die!replied Fouquet; "I shall suffer less."

D'Artagnandrunk with despairhurled his pistol to the ground. "I will
take you alive!" said he; and by a prodigy of skill which this
incomparable horseman alone was capablehe threw his horse forward to
within ten paces of the white horse; already his hand was stretched out
to seize his prey.

Kill me! kill me!cried Fouquet'twould be more humane!

No! alive - alive!murmured the captain.

At this moment his horse made a false step for the second timeand
Fouquet's again took the lead. It was an unheard-of spectaclethis race
between two horses which now only kept alive by the will of their
riders. It might be said that D'Artagnan rodecarrying his horse along
between his knees. To the furious gallop had succeeded the fast trot
and that had sunk to what might be scarcely called a trot at all. But
the chase appeared equally warm in the two fatigued _athletoe_.
D'Artagnanquite in despairseized his second pistoland cocked it.

At your horse! not at you!cried he to Fouquet. And he fired. The
animal was hit in the quarters - he made a furious boundand plunged
forward. At that moment D'Artagnan's horse fell dead.

I am dishonored!thought the musketeer; "I am a miserable wretch! for
pity's sakeM. Fouquetthrow me one of your pistolsthat I may blow
out my brains!" But Fouquet rode away.

For mercy's sake! for mercy's sake!cried D'Artagnan; "that which you
will not do at this momentI myself will do within an hourbut here
upon this roadI should die bravely; I should die esteemed; do me that
serviceM. Fouquet!"

M. Fouquet made no replybut continued to trot on. D'Artagnan began to
run after his enemy. Successively he threw away his hathis coatwhich
embarrassed himand then the sheath of his swordwhich got between his
legs as he was running. The sword in his hand itself became too heavy
and he threw it after the sheath. The white horse began to rattle in its
throat; D'Artagnan gained upon him. From a trot the exhausted animal
sunk to a staggering walk - the foam from his mouth was mixed with
blood. D'Artagnan made a desperate effortsprang towards Fouquetand
seized him by the legsaying in a brokenbreathless voiceI arrest
you in the king's name! blow my brains out, if you like; we have both
done our duty.
Fouquet hurled far from himinto the riverthe two pistols D'Artagnan
might have seizedand dismounting from his horse - "I am your prisoner
monsieur said he; will you take my armfor I see you are ready to
faint?"

Thanks!murmured D'Artagnanwhoin factfelt the earth sliding from
under his feetand the light of day turning to blackness around him;
then he rolled upon the sandwithout breath or strength. Fouquet
hastened to the brink of the riverdipped some water in his hatwith
which he bathed the temples of the musketeerand introduced a few drop
between his lips. D'Artagnan raised himself with difficultyand looked
about him with a wandering eye. He beheld Fouquet on his kneeswith his
wet hat in his handsmiling upon him with ineffable sweetness. "You are


not offthen?" cried he. "Ohmonsieur! the true king of royaltyin
heartin soulis not Louis of the Louvreor Philippe of Sainte-
Marguerite; it is youproscribedcondemned!"

I, who this day am ruined by a single error, M. d'Artagnan.

What, in the name of Heaven, is that?

I should have had you for a friend! But how shall we return to Nantes?
We are a great way from it.

That is true,said D'Artagnangloomily.

The white horse will recover, perhaps; he is a good horse! Mount,
Monsieur d'Artagnan; I will walk till you have rested a little.

Poor beast! and wounded, too?said the musketeer.

He will go, I tell you; I know him; but we can do better still, let us
both get up, and ride slowly.

We can try,said the captain. But they had scarcely charged the animal
with this double loadwhen he began to staggerand then with a great
effort walked a few minutesthen staggered againand sank down dead by
the side of the black horsewhich he had just managed to come up to.

We will go on foot - destiny wills it so - the walk will be pleasant,
said Fouquetpassing his arm through that of D'Artagnan.

_Mordioux!_cried the latterwith a fixed eyea contracted browand
a swelling heart - "What a disgraceful day!"

They walked slowly the four leagues which separated them from the little
wood behind which the carriage and escort were in waiting. When Fouquet
perceived that sinister machinehe said to D'Artagnanwho cast down his
eyesashamed of Louis XIV.There is an idea that did not emanate from
a brave man, Captain d'Artagnan; it is not yours. What are these
gratings for?said he.

To prevent your throwing letters out.

Ingenious!

But you can speak, if you cannot write,said D'Artagnan.

Can I speak to you?

Why, certainly, if you wish to do so.

Fouquet reflected for a momentthen looking the captain full in the
faceOne single word,said he; "will you remember it?"

I will not forget it.

Will you speak it to whom I wish?

I will.

Saint-Mande,articulated Fouquetin a low voice.

Well! and for whom?

For Madame de Belliere or Pelisson.


It shall be done.

The carriage rolled through Nantesand took the route to Angers.

Chapter XLI:
In Which the Squirrel Falls- the Adder Flies.


It was two o'clock in the afternoon. The kingfull of impatiencewent
to his cabinet on the terraceand kept opening the door of the corridor
to see what his secretaries were doing. M. Colbertseated in the same
place M. de Saint-Aignan had so long occupied in the morningwas
chatting in a low voice with M. de Brienne. The king opened the door
suddenlyand addressed them. "What is it you are saying?"


We were speaking of the first sitting of the States,said M. de
Briennerising.


Very well,replied the kingand returned to his room.


Five minutes afterthe summons of the bell recalled Rosewhose hour it
was.


Have you finished your copies?asked the king.


Not yet, sire.


See if M. d'Artagnan has returned.


Not yet, sire.


It is very strange,murmured the king. "Call M. Colbert."


Colbert entered; he had been expecting this all the morning.


Monsieur Colbert,said the kingvery sharply; "you must ascertain what
has become of M. d'Artagnan."


Colbert in his calm voice repliedWhere does your majesty desire him to
be sought for?


Eh! monsieur! do you not know on what I have sent him?replied Louis
acrimoniously.


Your majesty did not inform me.


Monsieur, there are things that must be guessed; and you, above all, are
apt to guess them.


I might have been able to imagine, sire; but I do not presume to be
positive.


Colbert had not finished these words when a rougher voice than that of
the king interrupted the interesting conversation thus begun between the
monarch and his clerk.


D'Artagnan!cried the kingwith evident joy.


D'Artagnanpale and in evidently bad humorcried to the kingas he
enteredSire, is it your majesty who has given orders to my musketeers?


What orders?said the king.


About M. Fouquet's house?



None!replied Louis.

Ha!said D'Artagnanbiting his mustache; "I was not mistakenthen; it
was monsieur here;" and he pointed to Colbert.

What orders? Let me know,said the king.

Orders to turn the house topsy-turvy, to beat M. Fouquet's servants, to
force the drawers, to give over a peaceful house to pillage! _Mordioux!_
these are savage orders!

Monsieur!said Colbertturning pale.

Monsieur,interrupted D'Artagnanthe king alone, understand, - the
king alone has a right to command my musketeers; but, as to you, I forbid
you to do it, and I tell you so before his majesty; gentlemen who carry
swords do not sling pens behind their ears.

D'Artagnan! D'Artagnan!murmured the king.

It is humiliating,continued the musketeer; "my soldiers are
disgraced. I do not command _reitres_thank younor clerks of the
intendant_mordioux!_"

Well! but what is all this about?said the king with authority.

About this, sire; monsieur - monsieur, who could not guess your
majesty's orders, and consequently could not know I was gone to arrest

M. Fouquet; monsieur, who has caused the iron cage to be constructed for
his patron of yesterday - has sent M. de Roncherolles to the lodgings of
M. Fouquet, and, under the pretense of securing the surintendant's
papers, they have taken away the furniture. My musketeers have been
posted round the house all the morning; such were my orders. Why did any
one presume to order them to enter? Why, by forcing them to assist in
this pillage, have they been made accomplices in it? _Mordioux!_ we
serve the king, we do; but we do not serve M. Colbert!
Transcriber's note: Dumas hereand later in the chapteruses the name
Roncherat. Roncherolles is the actual name of the man. - JB

Monsieur d'Artagnan,said the kingsternlytake care; it is not in
my presence that such explanations, and made in such a tone, should take
place.

I have acted for the good of the king,said Colbertin a faltering
voice. "It is hard to be so treated by one of your majesty's officers
and that without redresson account of the respect I owe the king."

The respect you owe the king,cried D'Artagnanhis eyes flashing fire
consists, in the first place, in making his authority respected, and his
person beloved. Every agent of a power without control represents that
power, and when people curse the hand which strikes them, it is the royal
hand that God reproaches, do you hear? Must a soldier, hardened by forty
years of wounds and blood, give you this lesson, monsieur? Must mercy be
on my side, and ferocity on yours? You have caused the innocent to be
arrested, bound, and imprisoned!

Accomplices, perhaps, of M. Fouquet,said Colbert.

Who told you M. Fouquet had accomplices, or even that he was guilty?
The king alone knows that; his justice is not blind! When he says,
'Arrest and imprison' such and such a man, he is obeyed. Do not talk to
me, then, any more of the respect you owe the king, and be careful of


your words, that they may not chance to convey the slightest menace; for
the king will not allow those to be threatened who do him service by
others who do him disservice; and if in case I should have, which God
forbid! a master so ungrateful, I would make myself respected.

Thus sayingD'Artagnan took his station haughtily in the king's cabinet
his eyes flashinghis hand on his swordhis lips tremblingaffecting
much more anger than he really felt. Colberthumiliated and devoured
with ragebowed to the king as if to ask his permission to leave the
room. The kingthwarted alike in pride and in curiosityknew not which
part to take. D'Artagnan saw him hesitate. To remain longer would have
been a mistake: it was necessary to score a triumph over Colbertand the
only method was to touch the king so near the quickthat his majesty
would have no other means of extrication but choosing between the two
antagonists. D'Artagnan bowed as Colbert had done; but the kingwhoin
preference to everything elsewas anxious to have all the exact details
of the arrest of the surintendant of the finances from him who had made
him tremble for a moment- the kingperceiving that the ill-humor of
D'Artagnan would put off for half an hour at least the details he was
burning to be acquainted with- Louiswe sayforgot Colbertwho had
nothing new to tell himand recalled his captain of the musketeers.

In the first place,said helet me see the result of your commission,
monsieur; you may rest yourself hereafter.

D'Artagnanwho was just passing through the doorwaystopped at the
voice of the kingretraced his stepsand Colbert was forced to leave
the closet. His countenance assumed almost a purple huehis black and
threatening eyes shone with a dark fire beneath their thick brows; he
stepped outbowed before the kinghalf drew himself up in passing
D'Artagnanand went away with death in his heart. D'Artagnanon being
left alone with the kingsoftened immediatelyand composing his
countenance: "Sire said he, you are a young king. It is by the dawn
that people judge whether the day will be fine or dull. Howsirewill
the peoplewhom the hand of God has placed under your lawargue of your
reignif between them and youyou allow angry and violent ministers to
interpose their mischief? But let us speak of myselfsirelet us leave
a discussion that may appear idleand perhaps inconvenient to you. Let
us speak of myself. I have arrested M. Fouquet."

You took plenty of time about it,said the kingsharply.

D'Artagnan looked at the king. "I perceive that I have expressed myself
badly. I announced to your majesty that I had arrested Monsieur Fouquet."

You did; and what then?

Well! I ought to have told your majesty that M. Fouquet had arrested
me; that would have been more just. I re-establish the truth, then; I
have been arrested by M. Fouquet.

It was now the turn of Louis XIV. to be surprised. His majesty was
astonished in his turn.

D'Artagnanwith his quick glanceappreciated what was passing in the
heart of his master. He did not allow him time to put any questions. He
relatedwith that poetrythat picturesquenesswhich perhaps he alone
possessed at that periodthe escape of Fouquetthe pursuitthe furious
raceandlastlythe inimitable generosity of the surintendantwho
might have fled ten times overwho might have killed the adversary in
the pursuitbut who had preferred imprisonmentperhaps worseto the
humiliation of one who wished to rob him of his liberty. In proportion
as the tale advancedthe king became agitateddevouring the narrator's
wordsand drumming with his finger-nails upon the table.


It results from all this, sire, in my eyes, at least, that the man who
conducts himself thus is a gallant man, and cannot be an enemy to the
king. That is my opinion, and I repeat it to your majesty. I know what
the king will say to me, and I bow to it, - reasons of state. So be it!
To my ears that sounds highly respectable. But I am a soldier, and I
have received my orders, my orders are executed - very unwillingly on my
part, it is true, but they are executed. I say no more.

Where is M. Fouquet at this moment?asked Louisafter a short silence.

M. Fouquet, sire,replied D'Artagnanis in the iron cage that M.
Colbert had prepared for him, and is galloping as fast as four strong
horses can drag him, towards Angers.

Why did you leave him on the road?

Because your majesty did not tell me to go to Angers. The proof, the
best proof of what I advance, is that the king desired me to be sought
for but this minute. And then I had another reason.

What is that?

Whilst I was with him, poor M. Fouquet would never attempt to escape.

Well!cried the kingastonished.

Your majesty ought to understand, and does understand, certainly, that
my warmest wish is to know that M. Fouquet is at liberty. I have given
him one of my brigadiers, the most stupid I could find among my
musketeers, in order that the prisoner might have a chance of escaping.

Are you mad, Monsieur d'Artagnan?cried the kingcrossing his arms on
his breast. "Do people utter such enormitieseven when they have the
misfortune to think them?"

Ah! sire, you cannot expect that I should be an enemy to M. Fouquet,
after what he has just done for you and me. No, no; if you desire that
he should remain under your lock and bolt, never give him in charge to
me; however closely wired might be the cage, the bird would, in the end,
take wing.

I am surprised,said the kingin his sternest toneyou did not
follow the fortunes of the man M. Fouquet wished to place upon my
throne. You had in him all you want - affection, gratitude. In my
service, monsieur, you will only find a master.

If M. Fouquet had not gone to seek you in the Bastile, sire,replied
D'Artagnanwith a deeply impressive mannerone single man would have
gone there, and I should have been that man - you know that right well,
sire.

The king was brought to a pause. Before that speech of his captain of
the musketeersso frankly spoken and so truethe king had nothing to
offer. On hearing D'ArtagnanLouis remembered the D'Artagnan of former
times; him whoat the Palais Royalheld himself concealed behind the
curtains of his bedwhen the people of Parisled by Cardinal de Retz
came to assure themselves of the presence of the king; the D'Artagnan
whom he saluted with his hand at the door of his carriagewhen repairing
to Notre Dame on his return to Paris; the soldier who had quitted his
service at Blois; the lieutenant he had recalled to be beside his person
when the death of Mazarin restored his power; the man he had always found
loyalcourageousdevoted. Louis advanced towards the door and called
Colbert. Colbert had not left the corridor where the secretaries were at


work. He reappeared.

Colbert, did you make a perquisition on the house of M. Fouquet?

Yes, sire.

What has it produced?

M. de Roncherolles, who was sent with your majesty's musketeers, has
remitted me some papers,replied Colbert.

I will look at them. Give me your hand.

My hand, sire!

Yes, that I may place it in that of M. d'Artagnan. In fact, M.
d'Artagnan,added hewith a smileturning towards the soldierwhoat
sight of the clerkhad resumed his haughty attitudeyou do not know
this man; make his acquaintance.And he pointed to Colbert. "He has
been made but a moderately valuable servant in subaltern positionsbut
he will be a great man if I raise him to the foremost rank."

Sire!stammered Colbertconfused with pleasure and fear.

I always understood why,murmured D'Artagnan in the king's ear; "he was
jealous."

Precisely, and his jealousy confined his wings.

He will henceforward be a winged-serpent,grumbled the musketeerwith
a remnant of hatred against his recent adversary.

But Colbertapproaching himoffered to his eyes a physiognomy so
different from that which he had been accustomed to see him wear; he
appeared so goodso mildso easy; his eyes took the expression of an
intelligence so noblethat D'Artagnana connoisseur in physiognomies
was movedand almost changed in his convictions. Colbert pressed his
hand.

That which the king has just told you, monsieur, proves how well his
majesty is acquainted with men. The inveterate opposition I have
displayed, up to this day, against abuses and not against men, proves
that I had it in view to prepare for my king a glorious reign, for my
country a great blessing. I have many ideas, M. d'Artagnan. You will
see them expand in the sun of public peace; and if I have not the good
fortune to conquer the friendship of honest men, I am at least certain,
monsieur, that I shall obtain their esteem. For their admiration,
monsieur, I would give my life.

This changethis sudden elevationthis mute approbation of the king
gave the musketeer matter for profound reflection. He bowed civilly to
Colbertwho did not take his eyes off him. The kingwhen he saw they
were reconcileddismissed them. They left the room together. As soon
as they were out of the cabinetthe new ministerstopping the captain
said:

Is it possible, M. d'Artagnan, that with such an eye as yours, you did
not, at the first glance, at the first impression, discover what sort of
man I am?

Monsieur Colbert,replied the musketeera ray of the sun in our eyes
prevents us from seeing the most vivid flame. The man in power radiates,
you know; and since you are there, why should you continue to persecute
him who had just fallen into disgrace, and fallen from such a height?


I, monsieur!said Colbert; "ohmonsieur! I would never persecute
him. I wished to administer the finances and to administer them alone
because I am ambitiousandabove allbecause I have the most entire
confidence in my own merit; because I know that all the gold of this
country will ebb and flow beneath my eyesand I love to look at the
king's gold; becauseif I live thirty yearsin thirty years not a
_denir_ of it will remain in my hands; becausewith that goldI will
build granariescastlescitiesand harbors; because I will create a
marineI will equip navies that shall waft the name of France to the
most distant people; because I will create libraries and academies;
because I will make France the first country in the worldand the
wealthiest. These are the motives for my animosity against M. Fouquet
who prevented my acting. And thenwhen I shall be great and strong
when France is great and strongin my turnthenwill I cry'Mercy'!"

Mercy, did you say? then ask his liberty of the king. The king is only
crushing him on _your_ account.

Colbert again raised his head. "Monsieur said he, you know that is
not soand that the king has his own personal animosity against M.
Fouquet; it is not for me to teach you that."

But the king will grow tired; he will forget.

The king never forgets, M. d'Artagnan. Hark! the king calls. He is
going to issue an order. I have not influenced him, have I? Listen.

The kingin factwas calling his secretaries. "Monsieur d'Artagnan
said he.

I am heresire."

Give twenty of your musketeers to M. de Saint-Aignan, to form a guard
for M. Fouquet.

D'Artagnan and Colbert exchanged looks. "And from Angers continued the
king, they will conduct the prisoner to the Bastilein Paris."

You were right,said the captain to the minister.

Saint-Aignan,continued the kingyou will have any one shot who shall
attempt to speak privately with M. Fouquet, during the journey.

But myself, sire,said the duke.

You, monsieur, you will only speak to him in the presence of the
musketeers.The duke bowed and departed to execute his commission.

D'Artagnan was about to retire likewise; but the king stopped him.

Monsieur,said heyou will go immediately, and take possession of the
isle and fief of Belle-Ile-en-Mer.

Yes, sire. Alone?

You will take a sufficient number of troops to prevent delay, in case
the place should be contumacious.

A murmur of courtly incredulity rose from the group of courtiers. "That
shall be done said D'Artagnan.

I saw the place in my infancy resumed the king, and I do not wish to
see it again. You have heard me? Gomonsieurand do not return


without the keys."

Colbert went up to D'Artagnan. "A commission whichif you carry it out
well said he, will be worth a marechal's baton to you."

Why do you employ the words, 'if you carry it out well'?

Because it is difficult.

Ah! in what respect?

You have friends in Belle-Isle, Monsieur d'Artagnan; and it is not an
easy thing for men like you to march over the bodies of their friends to
obtain success.

D'Artagnan hung his head in deepest thoughtwhilst Colbert returned to
the king. A quarter of an hour afterthe captain received the written
order from the kingto blow up the fortress of Belle-Islein case of
resistancewith power of life and death over all the inhabitants or
refugeesand an injunction not to allow one to escape.

Colbert was right,thought D'Artagnan; "for me the baton of a marechal
of France will cost the lives of my two friends. Only they seem to
forget that my friends are not more stupid than the birdsand that they
will not wait for the hand of the fowler to extend over their wings. I
will show them that hand so plainlythat they will have quite time
enough to see it. Poor Porthos! Poor Aramis! No; my fortune should
shall not cost your wings a feather."

Having thus determinedD'Artagnan assembled the royal armyembarked it
at Paimboeufand set sailwithout the loss of an unnecessary minute.

Chapter XLII:
Belle-Ile-en-Mer.

At the extremity of the moleagainst which the furious sea beats at the
evening tidetwo menholding each other by the armwere conversing in
an animated and expansive tonewithout the possibility of any other
human being hearing their wordsborne awayas they wereone by oneby
the gusts of windwith the white foam swept from the crests of the
waves. The sun had just gone down in the vast sheet of the crimsoned
oceanlike a gigantic crucible. From time to timeone of these men
turning towards the eastcast an anxiousinquiring look over the sea.
The otherinterrogating the features of his companionseemed to seek
for information in his looks. Thenboth silentbusied with dismal
thoughtsthey resumed their walk. Every one has already perceived that
these two men were our proscribed heroesPorthos and Aramiswho had
taken refuge in Belle-Islesince the ruin of their hopessince the
discomfiture of the colossal schemes of M. d'Herblay.

If is of no use your saying anything to the contrary, my dear Aramis,
repeated Porthosinhaling vigorously the salt breeze with which he
charged his massive chestIt is of no use, Aramis. The disappearance
of all the fishing-boats that went out two days ago is not an ordinary
circumstance. There has been no storm at sea; the weather has been
constantly calm, not even the lightest gale; and even if we had had a
tempest, all our boats would not have foundered. I repeat, it is
strange. This complete disappearance astonishes me, I tell you.

True,murmured Aramis. "You are rightfriend Porthos; it is true
there is something strange in it."

And further,added Porthoswhose ideas the assent of the bishop of


Vannes seemed to enlarge; "andfurtherdo you not observe that if the
boats have perishednot a single plank has washed ashore?"

I have remarked it as well as yourself.

And do you not think it strange that the two only boats we had left in
the whole island, and which I sent in search of the others -

Aramis here interrupted his companion by a cryand by so sudden a
movementthat Porthos stopped as if he were stupefied. "What do you
sayPorthos? What! - You have sent the two boats - "

In search of the others! Yes, to be sure I have,replied Porthos
calmly.

Unhappy man! What have you done? Then we are indeed lost,cried the
bishop.

Lost! - what did you say?exclaimed the terrified Porthos. "How lost
Aramis? How are we lost?"

Aramis bit his lips. "Nothing! nothing! Your pardonI meant to say - "

What?

That if we were inclined - if we took a fancy to make an excursion by
sea, we could not.

Very good! and why should that vex you? A precious pleasure, _ma foi!_
For my part, I don't regret it at all. What I regret is certainly not
the more or less amusement we can find at Belle-Isle: what I regret,
Aramis, is Pierrefonds; Bracieux; le Vallon; beautiful France! Here, we
are not in France, my dear friend; we are - I know not where. Oh! I
tell you, in full sincerity of soul, and your affection will excuse my
frankness, but I declare to you I am not happy at Belle-Isle. No; in
good truth, I am not happy!

Aramis breathed a longbut stifled sigh. "Dear friend replied he:
that is why it is so sad a thing you have sent the two boats we had left
in search of the boats which disappeared two days ago. If you had not
sent them awaywe would have departed."

'Departed!' And the orders, Aramis?

What orders?

_Parbleu!_ Why, the orders you have been constantly, in and out of
season, repeating to me - that we were to hold Belle-Isle against the
usurper. You know very well!

That is true!murmured Aramis again.

You see, then, plainly, my friend, that we could not depart; and that
the sending away of the boats in search of the others cannot prove
prejudicial to us in the very least.

Aramis was silent; and his vague glancesluminous as that of an
albatrosshovered for a long time over the seainterrogating space
seeking to pierce the very horizon.

With all that, Aramis,continued Porthoswho adhered to his ideaand
that the more closely from the bishop having apparently endorsed it
with all that, you give me no explanation about what can have happened
to these unfortunate boats. I am assailed by cries and complaints


whichever way I go. The children cry to see the desolation of the women,
as if I could restore the absent husbands and fathers. What do you
suppose, my friend, and how ought I to answer them?

Think all you like, my good Porthos, and say nothing.

This reply did not satisfy Porthos at all. He turned away grumbling
something in ill-humor. Aramis stopped the valiant musketeer. "Do you
remember said he, in a melancholy tone, kneading the two hands of the
giant between his own with affectionate cordiality, do you remembermy
friendthat in the glorious days of youth - do you rememberPorthos
when we were all strong and valiant - weand the other two - if we had
then had an inclination to return to Francedo you think this sheet of
salt water would have stopped us?"

Oh!said Porthos; "but six leagues."

If you had seen me get astride of a plank, would you have remained on
land, Porthos?

No, _pardieu!_ No, Aramis. But, nowadays, what sort of a plank should
we want, my friend! I, in particular.And the Seigneur de Bracieux
cast a profound glance over his colossal rotundity with a loud laugh.
And do you mean seriously to say you are not tired of Belle-Isle a
little, and that you would not prefer the comforts of your dwelling - of
your episcopal palace, at Vannes? Come, confess.

No,replied Aramiswithout daring to look at Porthos.

Let us stay where we are, then,said his friendwith a sighwhichin
spite of the efforts he made to restrain itescaped his echoing breast.
Let us remain! - let us remain! And yet,added heand yet, if we
seriously wished, but that decidedly - if we had a fixed idea, one firmly
taken, to return to France, and there were not boats -

Have you remarked another thing, my friend - that is, since the
disappearance of our barks, during the last two days' absence of
fishermen, not a single small boat has landed on the shores of the isle?

Yes, certainly! you are right. I, too, have remarked it, and the
observation was the more naturally made, for, before the last two fatal
days, barks and shallops were as plentiful as shrimps.

I must inquire,said Aramissuddenlyand with great agitation. "And
thenif we had a raft constructed - "

But there are some canoes, my friend; shall I board one?

A canoe! - a canoe! Can you think of such a thing, Porthos? A canoe to
be upset in. No, no,said the bishop of Vannes; "it is not our trade to
ride upon the waves. We will waitwe will wait."

And Aramis continued walking about with increased agitation. Porthos
who grew tired of following all the feverish movements of his friend -
Porthoswho in his faith and calmness understood nothing of the sort of
exasperation which was betrayed by his companion's continual convulsive
starts - Porthos stopped him. "Let us sit down upon this rock said
he. Place yourself thereclose to meAramisand I conjure youfor
the last timeto explain to me in a manner I can comprehend - explain to
me what we are doing here."

Porthos,said Aramismuch embarrassed.

I know that the false king wished to dethrone the true king. That is a


fact, that I understand. Well -

Yes?said Aramis.

I know that the false king formed the project of selling Belle-Isle to
the English. I understand that, too.

Yes?

I know that we engineers and captains came and threw ourselves into
Belle-Isle to take direction of the works, and the command of ten
companies levied and paid by M. Fouquet, or rather the ten companies of
his son-in-law. All that is plain.

Aramis rose in a state of great impatience. He might be said to be a
lion importuned by a gnat. Porthos held him by the arm. "But what I
cannot understandwhatin spite of all the efforts of my mindand all
my reflectionsI cannot comprehendand never shall comprehendisthat
instead of sending us troopsinstead of sending us reinforcements of
menmunitionsprovisionsthey leave us without boatsthey leave Belle-
Isle without arrivalswithout help; it is that instead of establishing
with us a correspondencewhether by signalsor written or verbal
communicationsall relations with the shore are intercepted. Tell me
Aramisanswer meor ratherbefore answering mewill you allow me to
tell you what I have thought? Will you hear what my idea isthe plan I
have conceived?"

The bishop raised his head. "Well! Aramis continued Porthos, I have
dreamedI have imagined that an event has taken place in France. I
dreamt of M. Fouquet all the nightof lifeless fishof broken eggsof
chambers badly furnishedmeanly kept. Villainous dreamsmy dear
D'Herblay; very unluckysuch dreams!"

Porthos, what is that yonder?interrupted Aramisrising suddenlyand
pointing out to his friend a black spot upon the empurpled line of the
water.

A bark!said Porthos; "yesit is a bark! Ah! we shall have some news
at last."

There are two!cried the bishopon discovering another mast; "two!
three! four!"

Five!said Porthosin his turn. "Six! seven! Ah! _mon Dieu! mon
Dieu!_ it is a fleet!"

Our boats returning, probably,said Aramisvery uneasilyin spite of
the assurance he affected.

They are very large for fishing-boats,observed Porthosand do you
not remark, my friend, that they come from the Loire?

They come from the Loire - yes -

And look! everybody here sees them as well as ourselves; look, women and
children are beginning to crowd the jetty.

An old fisherman passed. "Are those our barksyonder?" asked Aramis.

The old man looked steadily into the eye of the horizon.

No, monseigneur,replied hethey are lighter boars, boats in the
king's service.


Boats in the royal service?replied Aramisstarting. "How do you know
that?" said he.

By the flag.

But,said Porthosthe boat is scarcely visible; how the devil, my
friend, can you distinguish the flag?

I see there is one,replied the old man; "our boatstrade lightersdo
not carry any. That sort of craft is generally used for transport of
troops."

Ah!groaned Aramis.

_Vivat!_cried Porthosthey are sending us reinforcements, don't you
think they are, Aramis?

Probably.

Unless it is the English coming.

By the Loire? That would have an evil look, Porthos; for they must have
come through Paris!

You are right; they are reinforcements, decidedly, or provisions.

Aramis leaned his head upon his handsand made no reply. Thenall at
once- "Porthos said he, have the alarm sounded."

The alarm! do you imagine such a thing?

Yes, and let the cannoniers mount their batteries, the artillerymen be
at their pieces, and be particularly watchful of the coast batteries.

Porthos opened his eyes to their widest extent. He looked attentively at
his friendto convince himself he was in his proper senses.

_I_ will do it, my dear Porthos,continued Aramisin his blandest
tone; "I will go and have these orders executed myselfif you do not go
my friend."

Well! I will - instantly!said Porthoswho went to execute the
orderscasting all the while looks behind himto see if the bishop of
Vannes were not deceived; and ifon recovering more rational ideashe
would not recall him. The alarm was soundedtrumpets brayeddrums
rolled; the great bronze bell swung in horror from its lofty belfry. The
dikes and moles were quickly filled with the curious and soldiers;
matches sparkled in the hands of the artillerymenplaced behind the
large cannon bedded in their stone carriages. When every man was at his
postwhen all the preparations for defense were made: "Permit me
Aramisto try to comprehend whispered Porthos, timidly, in Aramis's
ear.

My dear friendyou will comprehend but too soon murmured M.
d'Herblay, in reply to this question of his lieutenant.

The fleet which is coming yonderwith sails unfurledstraight towards
the port of Belle-Isleis a royal fleetis it not?"

But as there are two kings in France, Porthos, to which of these two
kings does this fleet belong?

Oh! you open my eyes,replied the giantstunned by the insinuation.


And Porthoswhose eyes this reply of his friend's had at last openedor
rather thickened the bandage which covered his sightwent with his best
speed to the batteries to overlook his peopleand exhort every one to do
his duty. In the meantimeAramiswith his eye fixed on the horizon
saw the ships continually drawing nearer. The people and the soldiers
perched on the summits of the rockscould distinguish the maststhen
the lower sailsand at last the hulls of the lightersbearing at the
masthead the royal flag of France. It was night when one of these
vesselswhich had created such a sensation among the inhabitants of
Belle-Isledropped anchor within cannon shot of the place. It was soon
seennotwithstanding the darknessthat some sort of agitation reigned
on board the vesselfrom the side of which a skiff was loweredof which
the three rowersbending to their oarstook the direction of the port
and in a few instants struck land at the foot of the fort. The commander
jumped ashore. He had a letter in his handwhich he waved in the air
and seemed to wish to communicate with somebody. This man was soon
recognized by several soldiers as one of the pilots of the island. He
was the captain of one of the two barks retained by Aramisbut which
Porthosin his anxiety with regard to the fate of the fishermen who had
disappearedhad sent in search of the missing boats. He asked to be
conducted to M. d'Herblay. Two soldiersat a signal from a sergeant
marched him between themand escorted him. Aramis was upon the quay.
The envoy presented himself before the bishop of Vannes. The darkness
was almost absolutenotwithstanding the flambeaux borne at a small
distance by the soldiers who were following Aramis in his rounds.

Well, Jonathan, from whom do you come?

Monseigneur, from those who captured me.

Who captured you?

You know, monseigneur, we set out in search of our comrades?

Yes; and afterwards?

Well! monseigneur, within a short league we were captured by a _chasse
maree_ belonging to the king.

Ah!said Aramis.

Of which king?cried Porthos.

Jonathan started.

Speak!continued the bishop.

We were captured, monseigneur, and joined to those who had been taken
yesterday morning.

What was the cause of the mania for capturing you all?said Porthos.

Monsieur, to prevent us from telling you,replied Jonathan.

Porthos was again at a loss to comprehend. "And they have released you
to-day?" asked he.

That I might tell you they have captured us, monsieur.

Trouble upon trouble,thought honest Porthos.

During this time Aramis was reflecting.

Humph!said hethen I suppose it is a royal fleet blockading the


coasts?
Yes, monseigneur.
Who commands it?
The captain of the king's musketeers.
D'Artagnan?
D'Artagnan!exclaimed Porthos.
I believe that is the name.
And did he give you this letter?
Yes, monseigneur.
Bring the torches nearer.
It is his writing,said Porthos.
Aramis eagerly read the following lines:
Order of the king to take Belle-Isle; or to put the garrison to the


sword, if they resist; order to make prisoners of all the men of the


garrison; signed, D'ARTAGNAN, who, the day before yesterday, arrested M.


Fouquet, for the purpose of his being sent to the Bastile.

Aramis turned paleand crushed the paper in his hands.

What is it?asked Porthos.

Nothing, my friend, nothing.

Tell me, Jonathan?

Monseigneur?

Did you speak to M. d'Artagnan?

Yes, monseigneur.

What did he say to you?

That for ampler information, he would speak with monseigneur.

Where?

On board his own vessel.

On board his vessel!and Porthos repeatedOn board his vessel!

M. le mousquetaire,continued Jonathantold me to take you both on


board my canoe, and bring you to him.
Let us go at once,exclaimed Porthos. "Dear D'Artagnan!"
But Aramis stopped him. "Are you mad?" cried he. "Who knows that it is


not a snare?"
Of the other king's?said Porthosmysteriously.
A snare, in fact! That's what it is, my friend.



Very possibly; what is to be done, then? If D'Artagnan sends for us -
Who assures you that D'Artagnan sends for us?
Well, but - but his writing -
Writing is easily counterfeited. This looks counterfeited - unsteady -
You are always right; but, in the meantime, we know nothing.
Aramis was silent.
It is true,said the good Porthoswe do not want to know anything.
What shall I do?asked Jonathan.
You will return on board this captain's vessel.
Yes, monseigneur.
And will tell him that we beg he will himself come into the island.
Ah! I comprehend!said Porthos.
Yes, monseigneur,replied Jonathan; "but if the captain should refuse


to come to Belle-Isle?"
If he refuses, as we have cannon, we will make use of them.
What! against D'Artagnan?
If it is D'Artagnan, Porthos, he will come. Go, Jonathan, go!
_Ma foi!_ I no longer comprehend anything,murmured Porthos.
I will make you comprehend it all, my dear friend; the time for it has


come; sit down upon this gun-carriage, open your ears, and listen well to
me.
Oh! _pardieu!_ I will listen, no fear of that.


May I depart, monseigneur?cried Jonathan.
Yes, begone, and bring back an answer. Allow the canoe to pass, you men
there!And the canoe pushed off to regain the fleet.


Aramis took Porthos by the handand commenced his explanations.


Chapter XLIII:
Explanations by Aramis.

What I have to say to you, friend Porthos, will probably surprise you,
but it may prove instructive.

I like to be surprised,said Porthosin a kindly tone; "do not spare
methereforeI beg. I am hardened against emotions; don't fearspeak
out."

It is difficult, Porthos - difficult; for, in truth, I warn you a second
time, I have very strange things, very extraordinary things, to tell you.

Oh! you speak so well, my friend, that I could listen to you for days


together. Speak, then, I beg - and - stop, I have an idea: I will, to
make your task more easy, I will, to assist you in telling me such
things, question you.

I shall be pleased at your doing so.
What are we going to fight for, Aramis?

If you ask me many such questions as that - if you would render my task
the easier by interrupting my revelations thus, Porthos, you will not
help me at all. So far, on the contrary, that is the very Gordian knot.
But, my friend, with a man like you, good, generous, and devoted, the
confession must be bravely made. I have deceived you, my worthy friend.

You have deceived me!

Good Heavens! yes.
Was it for my good, Aramis?


I thought so, Porthos; I thought so sincerely, my friend.


Then,said the honest seigneur of Bracieuxyou have rendered me a
service, and I thank you for it; for if you had not deceived me, I might
have deceived myself. In what, then, have you deceived me, tell me?

In that I was serving the usurper against whom Louis XIV., at this
moment, is directing his efforts.

The usurper!said Porthosscratching his head. "That is - wellI do
not quite clearly comprehend!"

He is one of the two kings who are contending fro the crown of France.
Very well! Then you were serving him who is not Louis XIV.?


You have hit the matter in one word.
It follows that -


It follows that we are rebels, my poor friend.
The devil! the devil!cried Porthosmuch disappointed.


Oh! but, dear Porthos, be calm, we shall still find means of getting out
of the affair, trust me.

It is not that which makes me uneasy,replied Porthos; "that which
alone touches me is that ugly word _rebels_."

Ah! but -

And so, according to this, the duchy that was promised me -
It was the usurper that was to give it to you.

And that is not the same thing, Aramis,said Porthosmajestically.

My friend, if it had only depended upon me, you should have become a
prince.

Porthos began to bite his nails in a melancholy way.
That is where you have been wrong,continued hein deceiving me; for



that promised duchy I reckoned upon. Oh! I reckoned upon it seriously,
knowing you to be a man of your word, Aramis.

Poor Porthos! pardon me, I implore you!

So, then,continued Porthoswithout replying to the bishop's prayer
so then, it seems, I have quite fallen out with Louis XIV.?

Oh! I will settle all that, my good friend, I will settle all that. I
will take it on myself alone!

Aramis!

No, no, Porthos, I conjure you, let me act. No false generosity! No
inopportune devotedness! You knew nothing of my projects. You have done
nothing of yourself. With me it is different. I alone am the author of
this plot. I stood in need of my inseparable companion; I called upon
you, and you came to me in remembrance of our ancient device, 'All for
one, one for all.' My crime is that I was an egotist.

Now, that is a word I like,said Porthos; "and seeing that you have
acted entirely for yourselfit is impossible for me to blame you. It is
natural."

And upon this sublime reflectionPorthos pressed his friend's hand
cordially.

In presence of this ingenuous greatness of soulAramis felt his own
littleness. It was the second time he had been compelled to bend before
real superiority of heartwhich is more imposing than brilliancy of
mind. He replied by a mute and energetic pressure to the endearment of
his friend.

Now,said Porthosthat we have come to an explanation, now that I am
perfectly aware of our situation with respect to Louis XIV., I think, my
friend, it is time to make me comprehend the political intrigue of which
we are the victims - for I plainly see there is a political intrigue at
the bottom of all this.

D'Artagnan, my good Porthos, D'Artagnan is coming, and will detail it to
you in all its circumstances; but, excuse me, I am deeply grieved, I am
bowed down with mental anguish, and I have need of all my presence of
mind, all my powers of reflection, to extricate you from the false
position in which I have so imprudently involved you; but nothing can be
more clear, nothing more plain, than your position, henceforth. The king
Louis XIV. has no longer now but one enemy: that enemy is myself, myself
alone. I have made you a prisoner, you have followed me, to-day I
liberate you, you fly back to your prince. You can perceive, Porthos,
there is not one difficulty in all this.

Do you think so?said Porthos.

I am quite sure of it.

Then why,said the admirable good sense of Porthosthen why, if we
are in such an easy position, why, my friend, do we prepare cannon,
muskets, and engines of all sorts? It seems to me it would be much more
simple to say to Captain d'Artagnan: 'My dear friend, we have been
mistaken; that error is to be repaired; open the door to us, let us pass
through, and we will say good-bye.'

Ah! that!said Aramisshaking his head.

Why do you say 'that'? Do you not approve of my plan, my friend?


I see a difficulty in it.

What is it?

The hypothesis that D'Artagnan may come with orders which will oblige us
to defend ourselves.

What! defend ourselves against D'Artagnan? Folly! Against the good
D'Artagnan!

Aramis once more replied by shaking his head.

Porthos,at length said heif I have had the matches lighted and the
guns pointed, if I have had the signal of alarm sounded, if I have called
every man to his post upon the ramparts, those good ramparts of Belle-
Isle which you have so well fortified, it was not for nothing. Wait to
judge; or rather, no, do not wait -

What can I do?

If I knew, my friend, I would have told you.

But there is one thing much more simple than defending ourselves: - a
boat, and away for France - where -

My dear friend,said Aramissmiling with a strong shade of sadness
do not let us reason like children; let us be men in council and in
execution. - But, hark! I hear a hail for landing at the port.
Attention, Porthos, serious attention!

It is D'Artagnan, no doubt,said Porthosin a voice of thunder
approaching the parapet.

Yes, it is I,replied the captain of the musketeersrunning lightly up
the steps of the moleand gaining rapidly the little esplanade on which
his two friends waited for him. As soon as he came towards themPorthos
and Aramis observed an officer who followed D'Artagnantreading
apparently in his very steps. The captain stopped upon the stairs of the
molewhen half-way up. His companions imitated him.

Make your men draw back,cried D'Artagnan to Porthos and Aramis; "let
them retire out of hearing." This ordergiven by Porthoswas executed
immediately. Then D'Artagnanturning towards him who followed him:

Monsieur,said hewe are no longer on board the king's fleet, where,
in virtue of your order, you spoke so arrogantly to me, just now.

Monsieur,replied the officerI did not speak arrogantly to you; I
simply, but rigorously, obeyed instructions. I was commanded to follow
you. I follow you. I am directed not to allow you to communicate with
any one without taking cognizance of what you do; I am in duty bound,
accordingly, to overhear your conversations.

D'Artagnan trembled with rageand Porthos and Aramiswho heard this
dialoguetrembled likewisebut with uneasiness and fear. D'Artagnan
biting his mustache with that vivacity which denoted in him exasperation
closely to be followed by an explosionapproached the officer.

Monsieur,said hein a low voiceso much the more impressivethat
affecting calmit threatened tempest - "monsieurwhen I sent a canoe
hitheryou wished to know what I wrote to the defenders of Belle-Isle.
You produced an order to that effect; andin my turnI instantly showed
you the note I had written. When the skipper of the boat sent by me


returnedwhen I received the reply of these two gentlemen" (and he
pointed to Aramis and Porthos)you heard every word of what the
messenger said. All that was plainly in your orders, all that was well
executed, very punctually, was it not?

Yes, monsieur,stammered the officer; "yeswithout doubtbut - "

Monsieur,continued D'Artagnangrowing warm - "monsieurwhen I
manifested the intention of quitting my vessel to cross to Belle-Isle
you demanded to accompany me; I did not hesitate; I brought you with me.
You are now at Belle-Isleare you not?"

Yes, monsieur; but -

But - the question no longer is of M. Colbert, who has given you that
order, or of whomsoever in the world you are following the instructions;
the question now is of a man who is a clog upon M. d'Artagnan, and who is
alone with M. d'Artagnan upon steps whose feet are bathed by thirty feet
of salt water; a bad position for that man, a bad position, monsieur! I
warn you.

But, monsieur, if I am a restraint upon you,said the officertimidly
and almost faintlyit is my duty which -

Monsieur, you have had the misfortune, either you or those that sent
you, to insult me. It is done. I cannot seek redress from those who
employ you, - they are unknown to me, or are at too great a distance.
But you are under my hand, and I swear that if you make one step behind
me when I raise my feet to go up to those gentlemen, I swear to you by my
name, I will cleave your head in two with my sword, and pitch you into
the water. Oh! it will happen! it will happen! I have only been six
times angry in my life, monsieur, and all five preceding times _I killed
my man_.

The officer did not stir; he became pale under this terrible threatbut
replied with simplicityMonsieur, you are wrong in acting against my
orders.

Porthos and Aramismute and trembling at the top of the parapetcried
to the musketeerGood D'Artagnan, take care!

D'Artagnan made them a sign to keep silenceraised his foot with ominous
calmness to mount the stairand turned roundsword in handto see if
the officer followed him. The officer made a sign of the cross and
stepped up. Porthos and Aramiswho knew their D'Artagnanuttered a
cryand rushed down to prevent the blow they thought they already
heard. But D'Artagnan passed his sword into his left hand


Monsieur,said he to the officerin an agitated voiceyou are a
brave man. You will all the better comprehend what I am going to say to
you now.

Speak, Monsieur d'Artagnan, speak,replied the officer.

These gentlemen we have just seen, and against whom you have orders, are
my friends.

I know they are, monsieur.

You can understand whether or not I ought to act towards them as your
instructions prescribe.

I understand your reserve.


Very well; permit me, then, to converse with them without a witness.

Monsieur d'Artagnan, if I yield to your request, if I do that which you
beg me, I break my word; but if I do not do it, I disoblige you. I
prefer the one dilemma to the other. Converse with your friends, and do
not despise me, monsieur, for doing this for _your_ sake, whom I esteem
and honor; do not despise me for committing for you, and you alone, an
unworthy act.D'Artagnanmuch agitatedthrew his arm round the neck
of the young manand then went up to his friends. The officer
enveloped in his cloaksat down on the dampweed-covered steps.

Well!said D'Artagnan to his friendssuch is my position, judge for
yourselves.All three embraced as in the glorious days of their youth.

What is the meaning of all these preparations?said Porthos.

You ought to have a suspicion of what they signify,said D'Artagnan.

Not any, I assure you, my dear captain; for, in fact, I have done
nothing, no more has Aramis,the worthy baron hastened to say.

D'Artagnan darted a reproachful look at the prelatewhich penetrated
that hardened heart.

Dear Porthos!cried the bishop of Vannes.

You see what is being done against you,said D'Artagnan; "interception
of all boats coming to or going from Belle-Isle. Your means of transport
seized. If you had endeavored to flyyou would have fallen into the
hands of the cruisers that plow the sea in all directionson the watch
for you. The king wants you to be takenand he will take you."
D'Artagnan tore at his gray mustache. Aramis grew somberPorthos angry.

My idea was this,continued D'Artagnan: "to make you both come on
boardto keep you near meand restore you your liberty. But nowwho
can saywhen I return to my shipI may not find a superior; that I may
not find secret orders which will take from me my commandand give it to
anotherwho will dispose of me and you without hope of help?"

We must remain at Belle-Isle,said Aramisresolutely; "and I assure
youfor my partI will not surrender easily." Porthos said nothing.
D'Artagnan remarked the silence of his friend.

I have another trial to make of this officer, of this brave fellow who
accompanies me, and whose courageous resistance makes me very happy; for
it denotes an honest man, who, though an enemy, is a thousand times
better than a complaisant coward. Let us try to learn from him what his
instructions are, and what his orders permit or forbid.

Let us try,said Aramis.

D'Artagnan went to the parapetleaned over towards the steps of the
moleand called the officerwho immediately came up. "Monsieur said
D'Artagnan, after having exchanged the cordial courtesies natural between
gentlemen who know and appreciate each other, monsieurif I wished to
take away these gentlemen from herewhat would you do?"

I should not oppose it, monsieur; but having direct explicit orders to
put them under guard, I should detain them.

Ah!said D'Artagnan.

That's all over,said Aramisgloomily. Porthos did not stir.


But still take Porthos,said the bishop of Vannes. "He can prove to
the kingand I will help him do soand you tooMonsieur d'Artagnan
that he had nothing to do with this affair."

Hum!said D'Artagnan. "Will you come? Will you follow mePorthos?
The king is merciful."

I want time for reflection,said Porthos.

You will remain here, then?

Until fresh orders,said Aramiswith vivacity.

Until we have an idea,resumed D'Artagnan; "and I now believe that will
not be longfor I have one already."

Let us say adieu, then,said Aramis; "but in truthmy good Porthos
you ought to go."

No,said the latterlaconically.

As you please,replied Aramisa little wounded in his susceptibilities
at the morose tone of his companion. "Only I am reassured by the promise
of an idea from D'Artagnanan idea I fancy I have divined."

Let us see,said the musketeerplacing his ear near Aramis's mouth.
The latter spoke several words rapidlyto which D'Artagnan replied
That is it, precisely.

Infallible!cried Aramis.

During the first emotion this resolution will cause, take care of
yourself, Aramis.

Oh! don't be afraid.

Now, monsieur,said D'Artagnan to the officerthanks, a thousand
thanks! You have made yourself three friends for life.

Yes,added Aramis. Porthos alone said nothingbut merely bowed.

D'Artagnanhaving tenderly embraced his two old friendsleft Belle-Isle
with the inseparable companion with whom M. Colbert had saddled him.
Thuswith the exception of the explanation with which the worthy Porthos
had been willing to be satisfiednothing had changed in appearance in
the fate of one or the otherOnly,said Aramisthere is D'Artagnan's
idea.

D'Artagnan did not return on board without profoundly analyzing the idea
he had discovered. Nowwe know that whatever D'Artagnan did examine
according to customdaylight was certain to illuminate. As to the
officernow grown mute againhe had full time for meditation.
Thereforeon putting his foot on board his vesselmoored within cannonshot
of the islandthe captain of the musketeers had already got
together all his meansoffensive and defensive.

He immediately assembled his councilwhich consisted of the officers
serving under his orders. These were eight in number; a chief of the
maritime forces; a major directing the artillery; an engineerthe
officer we are acquainted withand four lieutenants. Having assembled
themD'Artagnan arosetook of his hatand addressed them thus:

Gentlemen, I have been to reconnoiter Belle-Ile-en-Mer, and I have found
in it a good and solid garrison; moreover, preparations are made for a


defense that may prove troublesome. I therefore intend to send for two
of the principal officers of the place, that we may converse with them.
Having separated them from their troops and cannon, we shall be better
able to deal with them; particularly by reasoning with them. Is not this
your opinion, gentlemen?

The major of artillery rose.

Monsieur,said hewith respectbut firmnessI have heard you say
that the place is preparing to make a troublesome defense. The place is
then, as you know, determined on rebellion?

D'Artagnan was visibly put out by this reply; but he was not the man to
allow himself to be subdued by a trifleand resumed:

Monsieur,said heyour reply is just. But you are ignorant that
Belle-Isle is a fief of M. Fouquet's, and that former monarchs gave the
right to the seigneurs of Belle-Isle to arm their people.The major
made a movement. "Oh! do not interrupt me continued D'Artagnan. You
are going to tell me that that right to arm themselves against the
English was not a right to arm themselves against their king. But it is
not M. FouquetI supposewho holds Belle-Isle at this momentsince I
arrested M. Fouquet the day before yesterday. Now the inhabitants and
defenders of Belle-Isle know nothing of this arrest. You would announce
it to them in vain. It is a thing so unheard-of and extraordinaryso
unexpectedthat they would not believe you. A Breton serves his master
and not his masters; he serves his master till he has seen him dead. Now
the Bretonsas far as I knowhave not seen the body of M. Fouquet. It
is notthensurprising they hold out against that which is neither M.
Fouquet nor his signature."

The major bowed in token of assent.

That is why,continued D'ArtagnanI propose to cause two of the
principal officers of the garrison to come on board my vessel. They will
see you, gentlemen; they will see the forces we have at our disposal;
they will consequently know to what they have to trust, and the fate that
attends them, in case of rebellion. We will affirm to them, upon our
honor, that M. Fouquet is a prisoner, and that all resistance can only be
prejudicial to them. We will tell them that at the first cannon fired,
there will be no further hope of mercy from the king. Then, or so at
least I trust, they will resist no longer. They will yield up without
fighting, and we shall have a place given up to us in a friendly way
which it might cost prodigious efforts to subdue.

The officer who had followed D'Artagnan to Belle-Isle was preparing to
speakbut D'Artagnan interrupted him.

Yes, I know what you are going to tell me, monsieur; I know that there
is an order of the king's to prevent all secret communications with the
defenders of Belle-Isle, and that is exactly why I do not offer to
communicate except in presence of my staff.

And D'Artagnan made an inclination of the head to his officerswho knew
him well enough to attach a certain value to the condescension.

The officers looked at each other as if to read each other's opinions in
their eyeswith the intention of evidently actingshould they agree
according to the desire of D'Artagnan. And already the latter saw with
joy that the result of their consent would be sending a bark to Porthos
and Aramiswhen the king's officer drew from a pocket a folded paper
which he placed in the hands of D'Artagnan.

This paper bore upon its superscription the number 1.


What, more!murmured the surprised captain.


Read, monsieur,said the officerwith a courtesy that was not free
from sadness.


D'Artagnanfull of mistrustunfolded the paperand read these words:
Prohibition to M. d'Artagnan to assemble any council whatever, or to
deliberate in any way before Belle-Isle be surrendered and the prisoners
shot. Signed - LOUIS.


D'Artagnan repressed the quiver of impatience that ran through his whole
bodyand with a gracious smile:


That is well, monsieur,said he; "the king's orders shall be complied
with."


Chapter XLIV:
Result of the Ideas of the Kingand the Ideas of D'Artagnan.


The blow was direct. It was severemortal. D'Artagnanfurious at
having been anticipated by an idea of the king'sdid not despair
howevereven yet; and reflecting upon the idea he had brought back from
Belle-Islehe elicited therefrom novel means of safety for his friends.


Gentlemen,said hesuddenlysince the king has charged some other
than myself with his secret orders, it must be because I no longer
possess his confidence, and I should really be unworthy of it if I had
the courage to hold a command subject to so many injurious suspicions.
Therefore I will go immediately and carry my resignation to the king. I
tender it before you all, enjoining you all to fall back with me upon the
coast of France, in such a way as not to compromise the safety of the
forces his majesty has confided to me. For this purpose, return all to
your posts; within an hour, we shall have the ebb of the tide. To your
posts, gentlemen! I suppose,added heon seeing that all prepared to
obey himexcept the surveillant officeryou have no orders to object,
this time?


And D'Artagnan almost triumphed while speaking these words. This plan
would prove the safety of his friends. The blockade once raisedthey
might embark immediatelyand set sail for England or Spainwithout fear
of being molested. Whilst they were making their escapeD'Artagnan
would return to the king; would justify his return by the indignation
which the mistrust of Colbert had raised in him; he would be sent back
with full powersand he would take Belle-Isle; that is to saythe cage
after the birds had flown. But to this plan the officer opposed a
further order of the king's. It was thus conceived:


From the moment M. d'Artagnan shall have manifested the desire of giving
in his resignation, he shall no longer be reckoned leader of the
expedition, and every officer placed under his orders shall be held to no
longer obey him. Moreover, the said Monsieur d'Artagnan, having lost
that quality of leader of the army sent against Belle-Isle, shall set out
immediately for France, accompanied by the officer who will have remitted
the message to him, and who will consider him a prisoner for whom he is
answerable.


Brave and careless as he wasD'Artagnan turned pale. Everything had
been calculated with a depth of precognition whichfor the first time in
thirty yearsrecalled to him the solid foresight and inflexible logic of
the great cardinal. He leaned his head on his handthoughtfulscarcely
breathing. "If I were to put this order in my pocket thought he, who
would know itwhat would prevent my doing it? Before the king had had



time to be informedI should have saved those poor fellows yonder. Let
us exercise some small audacity! My head is not one of those the
executioner strikes off for disobedience. We will disobey!" But at the
moment he was about to adopt this planhe saw the officers around him
reading similar orderswhich the passive agent of the thoughts of that
infernal Colbert had distributed to them. This contingency of his
disobedience had been foreseen - as all the rest had been.


Monsieur,said the officercoming up to himI await your good
pleasure to depart.


I am ready, monsieur,replied D'Artagnangrinding his teeth.


The officer immediately ordered a canoe to receive M. d'Artagnan and
himself. At sight of this he became almost distraught with rage.


How,stammered hewill you carry on the directions of the different
corps?


When you are gone, monsieur,replied the commander of the fleetit is
to me the command of the whole is committed.


Then, monsieur,rejoined Colbert's manaddressing the new leaderit
is for you that this last order remitted to me is intended. Let us see
your powers.


Here they are,said the officerexhibiting the royal signature.


Here are your instructions,replied the officerplacing the folded
paper in his hands; and turning round towards D'ArtagnanCome,
monsieur,said hein an agitated voice (such despair did he behold in
that man of iron)do me the favor to depart at once.


Immediately!articulated D'Artagnanfeeblysubduedcrushed by
implacable impossibility.


And he painfully subsided into the little boatwhich startedfavored by
wind and tidefor the coast of France. The king's guards embarked with
him. The musketeer still preserved the hope of reaching Nantes quickly
and of pleading the cause of his friends eloquently enough to incline the
king to mercy. The bark flew like a swallow. D'Artagnan distinctly saw
the land of France profiled in black against the white clouds of night.


Ah! monsieur,said hein a low voiceto the officer to whomfor an
hourhe had ceased speakingwhat would I give to know the instructions
for the new commander! They are all pacific, are they not? and -


He did not finish; the thunder of a distant cannon rolled athwart the
wavesanotherand two or three still louder. D'Artagnan shuddered.


They have commenced the siege of Belle-Isle,replied the officer. The
canoe had just touched the soil of France.


Chapter XLV:
The Ancestors of Porthos.


When D'Artagnan left Aramis and Porthosthe latter returned to the
principal fortin order to converse with greater liberty. Porthos
still thoughtfulwas a restraint on Aramiswhose mind had never felt
itself more free.


Dear Porthos,said hesuddenlyI will explain D'Artagnan's idea to
you.



What idea, Aramis?

An idea to which we shall owe our liberty within twelve hours.

Ah! indeed!said Porthosmuch astonished. "Let us hear it."

Did you remark, in the scene our friend had with the officer, that
certain orders constrained him with regard to us?

Yes, I did notice that.

Well! D'Artagnan is going to give in his resignation to the king, and
during the confusion that will result from his absence, we will get away,
or rather you will get away, Porthos, if there is possibility of flight
for only one.

Here Porthos shook his head and replied: "We will escape together
Aramisor we will stay together."

Thine is a right, a generous heart,said Aramisonly your melancholy
uneasiness affects me.

I am not uneasy,said Porthos.

Then you are angry with me.

I am not angry with you.

Then why, my friend, do you put on such a dismal countenance?

I will tell you; I am making my will.And while saying these words
the good Porthos looked sadly in the face of Aramis.

Your will!cried the bishop. "Whatthen! do you think yourself lost?"

I feel fatigued. It is the first time, and there is a custom in our
family.

What is it, my friend?

My grandfather was a man twice as strong as I am.

Indeed!said Aramis; "then your grandfather must have been Samson
himself."

No; his name was Antoine. Well! he was about my age, when, setting out
one day for the chase, he felt his legs weak, the man who had never known
what weakness was before.

What was the meaning of that fatigue, my friend?

Nothing good, as you will see; for having set out, complaining still of
weakness of the legs, he met a wild boar, which made head against him; he
missed him with his arquebuse, and was ripped up by the beast and died
immediately.

There is no reason in that why you should alarm yourself, dear Porthos.

Oh! you will see. My father was as strong again as I am. He was a
rough soldier, under Henry III. and Henry IV.; his name was not Antoine,
but Gaspard, the same as M. de Coligny. Always on horseback, he had
never known what lassitude was. One evening, as he rose from table, his
legs failed him.


He had supped heartily, perhaps,said Aramisand that was why he
staggered.

Bah! A friend of M. de Bassompierre, nonsense! No, no, he was
astonished at this lassitude, and said to my mother, who laughed at him,
'Would not one believe I was going to meet with a wild boar, as the late

M. du Vallon, my father did?'
Well?said Aramis.

Well, having this weakness, my father insisted upon going down into the
garden, instead of going to bed; his foot slipped on the first stair, the
staircase was steep; my father fell against a stone in which an iron
hinge was fixed. The hinge gashed his temple; and he was stretched out
dead upon the spot.

Aramis raised his eyes to his friend: "These are two extraordinary
circumstances said he; let us not infer that there may succeed a
third. It is not becoming in a man of your strength to be superstitious
my brave Porthos. Besideswhen were your legs known to fail? Never
have you stood so firmso haughtily; whyyou could carry a house on
your shoulders."

At this moment,said PorthosI feel myself pretty active; but at
times I vacillate; I sink; and lately this phenomenon, as you say, has
occurred four times. I will not say this frightens me, but it annoys
me. Life is an agreeable thing. I have money; I have fine estates; I
have horses that I love; I have also friends that I love: D'Artagnan,
Athos, Raoul, and you.

The admirable Porthos did not even take the trouble to dissimulate in the
very presence of Aramis the rank he gave him in his friendship. Aramis
pressed his hand: "We will still live many years said he, to preserve
to the world such specimens of its rarest men. Trust yourself to memy
friend; we have no reply from D'Artagnanthat is a good sign. He must
have given orders to get the vessels together and clear the seas. On my
part I have just issued directions that a bark should be rolled on
rollers to the mouth of the great cavern of Locmariawhich you know
where we have so often lain in wait for the foxes."

Yes, and which terminates at the little creek by a trench where we
discovered the day that splendid fox escaped that way.

Precisely. In case of misfortunes, a bark is to be concealed for us in
that cavern; indeed, it must be there by this time. We will wait for a
favorable moment, and during the night we will go to sea!

That is a grand idea. What shall we gain by it?

We shall gain this - nobody knows that grotto, or rather its issue,
except ourselves and two or three hunters of the island; we shall gain
this - that if the island is occupied, the scouts, seeing no bark upon
the shore, will never imagine we can escape, and will cease to watch.

I understand.

Well! that weakness in the legs?

Oh! better, much, just now.

You see, then, plainly, that everything conspires to give us quietude
and hope. D'Artagnan will sweep the sea and leave us free. No royal
fleet or descent to be dreaded. _Vive Dieu!_ Porthos, we have still


half a century of magnificent adventure before us, and if I once touch
Spanish ground, I swear to you,added the bishop with terrible energy
that your brevet of duke is not such a chance as it is said to be.


We live by hope,said Porthosenlivened by the warmth of his companion.


All at once a cry resounded in their ears: "To arms! to arms!"


This cryrepeated by a hundred throatspiercing the chamber where the
two friends were conversingcarried surprise to oneand uneasiness to
the other. Aramis opened the window; he saw a crowd of people running
with flambeaux. Women were seeking places of safetythe armed
population were hastening to their posts.


The fleet! the fleet!cried a soldierwho recognized Aramis.


The fleet?repeated the latter.


Within half cannon-shot,continued the soldier.


To arms!cried Aramis.


To arms!repeated Porthosformidably. And both rushed forth towards
the mole to place themselves within the shelter of the batteries. Boats
laden with soldierswere seen approaching; and in three directionsfor
the purpose of landing at three points at once.


What must be done?said an officer of the guard.


Stop them; and if they persist, fire!said Aramis.


Five minutes laterthe cannonade commenced. These were the shots that
D'Artagnan had heard as he landed in France. But the boats were too near
the mole to allow the cannon to aim correctly. They landedand the
combat commenced hand to hand.


What's the matter, Porthos?said Aramis to his friend.


Nothing! nothing! - only my legs; it is really incomprehensible! - they
will be better when we charge.In factPorthos and Aramis did charge
with such vigorand so thoroughly animated their menthat the royalists
re-embarked precipitatelywithout gaining anything but the wounds they
carried away.


Eh! but Porthos,cried Aramiswe must have a prisoner, quick!
quick!Porthos bent over the stair of the moleand seized by the nape
of the neck one of the officers of the royal army who was waiting to
embark till all his people should be in the boat. The arm of the giant
lifted up his preywhich served him as a bucklerand he recovered
himself without a shot being fired at him.


Here is a prisoner for you,said Porthos coolly to Aramis.


Well!cried the latterlaughingdid you not calumniate your legs?


It was not with my legs I captured him,said Porthosit was with my
arms!


Chapter XLVI:
The Son of Biscarrat.


The Bretons of the Isle were very proud of this victory; Aramis did not
encourage them in the feeling.



What will happen,said he to Porthoswhen everybody was gone home
will be that the anger of the king will be roused by the account of the
resistance; and that these brave people will be decimated or shot when
they are taken, which cannot fail to take place.

From which it results, then,said Porthosthat what we have done is
of not the slightest use.

For the moment it may be,replied the bishopfor we have a prisoner
from whom we shall learn what our enemies are preparing to do.

Yes, let us interrogate the prisoner,said Porthosand the means of
making him speak are very simple. We are going to supper; we will invite
him to join us; as he drinks he will talk.

This was done. The officer was at first rather uneasybut became
reassured on seeing what sort of men he had to deal with. He gave
without having any fear of compromising himselfall the details
imaginable of the resignation and departure of D'Artagnan. He explained
howafter that departurethe new leader of the expedition had ordered a
surprise upon Belle-Isle. There his explanations stopped. Aramis and
Porthos exchanged a glance that evinced their despair. No more
dependence to be placed now on D'Artagnan's fertile imagination - no
further resource in the event of defeat. Aramiscontinuing his
interrogationsasked the prisoner what the leaders of the expedition
contemplated doing with the leaders of Belle-Isle.

The orders are,replied heto kill _during_ combat, or hang
_afterwards_.

Porthos and Aramis looked at each other againand the color mounted to
their faces.

I am too light for the gallows,replied Aramis; "people like me are not
hung."

And I am too heavy,said Porthos; "people like me break the cord."

I am sure,said the prisonergallantlythat we could have guaranteed
you the exact kind of death you preferred.

A thousand thanks!said Aramisseriously. Porthos bowed.

One more cup of wine to your health,said hedrinking himself. From
one subject to another the chat with the officer was prolonged. He was
an intelligent gentlemanand suffered himself to be led on by the charm
of Aramis's wit and Porthos's cordial _bonhomie_.

Pardon me,said heif I address a question to you; but men who are in
their sixth bottle have a clear right to forget themselves a little.

Address it!cried Porthos; "address it!"

Speak,said Aramis.

Were you not, gentlemen, both in the musketeers of the late king?

Yes, monsieur, and amongst the best of them, if you please,said
Porthos.

That is true; I should say even the best of all soldiers, messieurs, if
I did not fear to offend the memory of my father.


Of your father?cried Aramis.

Do you know what my name is?

_Ma foi!_ no, monsieur; but you can tell us, and -

I am called Georges de Biscarrat.

Oh!cried Porthosin his turn. "Biscarrat! Do you remember that
nameAramis?"

Biscarrat!reflected the bishop. "It seems to me - "

Try to recollect, monsieur,said the officer.

_Pardieu!_ that won't take me long,said Porthos. "Biscarrat - called
Cardinal - one of the four who interrupted us on the day on which we
formed our friendship with D'Artagnansword in hand."

Precisely, gentlemen.

The only one,cried Aramiseagerlywe could not scratch.

Consequently, a capital blade?said the prisoner.

That's true! most true!exclaimed both friends together. "_Ma foi!_
Monsieur Biscarratwe are delighted to make the acquaintance of such a
brave man's son."

Biscarrat pressed the hands held out by the two musketeers. Aramis
looked at Porthos as much as to sayHere is a man who will help us,
and without delay- "Confessmonsieur said he, that it is good to
have once been a good man."

My father always said somonsieur."

Confess, likewise, that it is a sad circumstance in which you find
yourself, of falling in with men destined to be shot or hung, and to
learn that these men are old acquaintances, in fact, hereditary friends.

Oh! you are not reserved for such a frightful fate as that, messieurs
and friends!said the young manwarmly.

Bah! you said so yourself.

I said so just now, when I did not know you; but now that I know you, I
say - you will evade this dismal fate, if you wish!

How - if we wish?echoed Aramiswhose eyes beamed with intelligence as
he looked alternately at the prisoner and Porthos.

Provided,continued Porthoslookingin his turnwith noble
intrepidityat M. Biscarrat and the bishop - "provided nothing
disgraceful be required of us."

Nothing at all will be required of you, gentlemen,replied the officer

-"what should they ask of you? If they find you they will kill you
that is a predetermined thing; trythengentlemento prevent their
finding you."
I don't think I am mistaken,said Porthoswith dignity; "but it
appears evident to me that if they want to find usthey must come and
seek us here."


In that you are perfectly right, my worthy friend,replied Aramis
constantly consulting with his looks the countenance of Biscarratwho
had grown silent and constrained. "You wishMonsieur de Biscarratto
say something to usto make us some overtureand you dare not - is that
true?"

Ah! gentlemen and friends! it is because by speaking I betray the
watchword. But, hark! I hear a voice that frees mine by dominating it.

Cannon!said Porthos.

Cannon and musketry, too!cried the bishop.

On hearing at a distanceamong the rocksthese sinister reports of a
combat which they thought had ceased:

What can that be?asked Porthos.

Eh! _Pardieu!_cried Aramis; "that is just what I expected."

What is that?

That the attack made by you was nothing but a feint; is not that true,
monsieur? And whilst your companions allowed themselves to be repulsed,
you were certain of effecting a landing on the other side of the island.

Oh! several, monsieur.

We are lost, then,said the bishop of Vannesquietly.

Lost! that is possible,replied the Seigneur de Pierrefondsbut we
are not taken or hung.And so sayinghe rose from the tablewent to
the walland coolly took down his sword and pistolswhich he examined
with the care of an old soldier who is preparing for battleand who
feels that lifein a great measuredepends upon the excellence and
right conditions of his arms.

At the report of the cannonat the news of the surprise which might
deliver up the island to the royal troopsthe terrified crowd rushed
precipitately to the fort to demand assistance and advice from their
leaders. Aramispale and downcastbetween two flambeauxshowed
himself at the window which looked into the principal courtfull of
soldiers waiting for orders and bewildered inhabitants imploring succor.

My friends,said D'Herblayin a grave and sonorous voiceM. Fouquet,
your protector, your friend, you father, has been arrested by an order of
the king, and thrown into the Bastile.A sustained yell of vengeful
fury came floating up to the window at which the bishop stoodand
enveloped him in a magnetic field.

Avenge Monsieur Fouquet!cried the most excited of his hearersdeath
to the royalists!

No, my friends,replied Aramissolemnly; "nomy friends; no
resistance. The king is master in his kingdom. The king is the
mandatory of God. The king and God have struck M. Fouquet. Humble
yourselves before the hand of God. Love God and the kingwho have
struck M. Fouquet. But do not avenge your seigneurdo not think of
avenging him. You would sacrifice yourselves in vain - youyour
wives and childrenyour propertyyour liberty. Lay down your armsmy
friends - lay down your arms! since the king commands you so to do - and
retire peaceably to your dwellings. It is I who ask you to do so; it is
I who beg you to do so; it is I who nowin the hour of needcommand you
to do soin the name of M. Fouquet."


The crowd collected under the window uttered a prolonged roar of anger
and terror. "The soldiers of Louis XIV. have reached the island
continued Aramis. From this time it would no longer be a fight betwixt
them and you - it would be a massacre. Begonethenbegoneand forget;
this time I command youin the name of the Lord of Hosts!"

The mutineers retired slowlysubmissivesilent.

Ah! what have you just been saying, my friend?said Porthos.

Monsieur,said Biscarrat to the bishopyou may save all these
inhabitants, but thus you will neither save yourself nor your friend.

Monsieur de Biscarrat,said the bishop of Vanneswith a singular
accent of nobility and courtesyMonsieur de Biscarrat, be kind enough
to resume your liberty.

I am very willing to do so, monsieur; but -

That would render us a service, for when announcing to the king's
lieutenant the submission of the islanders, you will perhaps obtain some
grace for us on informing him of the manner in which that submission has
been effected.

Grace!replied Porthos with flashing eyeswhat is the meaning of that
word?

Aramis touched the elbow of his friend roughlyas he had been accustomed
to do in the days of their youthwhen he wanted to warn Porthos that he
had committedor was about to commita blunder. Porthos understood
himand was silent immediately.

I will go, messieurs,replied Biscarrata little surprised likewise at
the word "grace" pronounced by the haughty musketeerof and to whombut
a few minutes beforehe had related with so much enthusiasm the heroic
exploits with which his father had delighted him.

Go, then, Monsieur Biscarrat,said Aramisbowing to himand at
parting receive the expression of our entire gratitude.

But you, messieurs, you whom I think it an honor to call my friends,
since you have been willing to accept that title, what will become of you
in the meantime?replied the officervery much agitated at taking leave
of the two ancient adversaries of his father.

We will wait here.

But, _mon Dieu!_ - the order is precise and formal.

I am bishop of Vannes, Monsieur de Biscarrat; and they no more shoot a
bishop than they hang a gentleman.

Ah! yes, monsieur - yes, monseigneur,replied Biscarrat; "it is true
you are rightthere is still that chance for you. ThenI will depart
I will repair to the commander of the expeditionthe king's lieutenant.
Adieu! thenmessieursor ratherto meet againI hope."

The worthy officerjumping upon a horse given him by Aramisdeparted in
the direction of the sound of cannonwhichby surging the crowd into
the forthad interrupted the conversation of the two friends with their
prisoner. Aramis watched the departureand when left alone with Porthos:

Well, do you comprehend?said he.


_Ma foi!_ no.

Did not Biscarrat inconvenience you here?

No; he is a brave fellow.

Yes; but the grotto of Locmaria - is it necessary all the world should
know it?


Ah! that is true, that is true; I comprehend. We are going to escape by
the cavern.


If you please,cried Aramisgayly. "Forwardfriend Porthos; our boat
awaits us. King Louis has not caught us - _yet_."


Chapter XLVII:
The Grotto of Locmaria.


The cavern of Locmaria was sufficiently distant from the mole to render
it necessary for our friends to husband their strength in order to reach
it. Besidesnight was advancing; midnight had struck at the fort.
Porthos and Aramis were loaded with money and arms. They walkedthen
across the heathwhich stretched between the mole and the cavern
listening to every noisein order better to avoid an ambush. From time
to timeon the road which they had carefully left on their leftpassed
fugitives coming from the interiorat the news of the landing of the
royal troops. Aramis and Porthosconcealed behind some projecting mass
of rockcollected the words that escaped from the poor peoplewho fled
tremblingcarrying with them their most valuable effectsand tried
whilst listening to their complaintsto gather something from them for
their own interest. At lengthafter a rapid racefrequently
interrupted by prudent stoppagesthey reached the deep grottoesin
which the prophetic bishop of Vannes had taken care to have secreted a
bark capable of keeping the sea at this fine season.


My good friend,said Porthospanting vigorouslywe have arrived, it
seems. But I thought you spoke of three men, three servants, who were to
accompany us. I don't see them - where are they?


Why should you see them, Porthos?replied Aramis. "They are certainly
waiting for us in the cavernandno doubtare restinghaving
accomplished their rough and difficult task."


Aramis stopped Porthoswho was preparing to enter the cavern. "Will you
allow memy friend said he to the giant, to pass in first? I know
the signal I have given to these men; whonot hearing itwould be very
likely to fire upon you or slash away with their knives in the dark."


Go on, then, Aramis; go on - go first; you impersonate wisdom and
foresight; go. Ah! there is that fatigue again, of which I spoke to
you. It has just seized me afresh.


Aramis left Porthos sitting at the entrance of the grottoand bowing his
headhe penetrated into the interior of the cavernimitating the cry of
the owl. A little plaintive cooinga scarcely distinct echoreplied
from the depths of the cave. Aramis pursued his way cautiouslyand soon
was stopped by the same kind of cry as he had first utteredwithin ten
paces of him.


Are you there, Yves?said the bishop.


Yes, monseigneur; Goenne is here likewise. His son accompanies us.



That is well. Are all things ready?

Yes, monseigneur.

Go to the entrance of the grottoes, my good Yves, and you will there
find the Seigneur de Pierrefonds, who is resting after the fatigue of our
journey. And if he should happen not to be able to walk, lift him up,
and bring him hither to me.

The three men obeyed. But the recommendation given to his servants was
superfluous. Porthosrefreshedhad already commenced the descentand
his heavy step resounded amongst the cavitiesformed and supported by
columns of porphyry and granite. As soon as the Seigneur de Bracieux had
rejoined the bishopthe Bretons lighted a lantern with which they were
furnishedand Porthos assured his friend that he felt as strong again as
ever.

Let us inspect the boat,said Aramisand satisfy ourselves at once
what it will hold.

Do not go too near with the light,said the patron Yves; "for as you
desired memonseigneurI have placed under the bench of the poopin
the coffer you know ofthe barrel of powderand the musket-charges that
you sent me from the fort."

Very well,said Aramis; andtaking the lantern himselfhe examined
minutely all parts of the canoewith the precautions of a man who is
neither timid nor ignorant in the face of danger. The canoe was long
lightdrawing little waterthin of keel; in shortone of those that
have always been so aptly built at Belle-Isle; a little high in its
sidessolid upon the watervery manageablefurnished with planks
whichin uncertain weatherformed a sort of deck over which the waves
might glideso as to protect the rowers. In two well-closed coffers
placed beneath the benches of the prow and the poopAramis found bread
biscuitdried fruitsa quarter of bacona good provision of water in
leathern bottles; the whole forming rations sufficient for people who did
not mean to quit the coastand would be able to revictualif necessity
commanded. The armseight musketsand as many horse-pistolswere in
good conditionand all loaded. There were additional oarsin case of
accidentand that little sail called _trinquet_which assists the speed
of the canoe at the same time the boatmen rowand is so useful when the
breeze is slack. When Aramis had seen to all these thingsand appeared
satisfied with the result of his inspectionLet us consult Porthos,
said heto know if we must endeavor to get the boat out by the unknown
extremity of the grotto, following the descent and the shade of the
cavern, or whether it be better, in the open air, to make it slide upon
its rollers through the bushes, leveling the road of the little beach,
which is but twenty feet high, and gives, at high tide, three or four
fathoms of good water upon a sound bottom.

It must be as you please, monseigneur,replied the skipper Yves
respectfully; "but I don't believe that by the slope of the cavernand
in the dark in which we shall be obliged to maneuver our boatthe road
will be so convenient as the open air. I know the beach welland can
certify that it is as smooth as a grass-plot in a garden; the interior
of the grottoon the contraryis rough; without reckoningmonseigneur
that at its extremity we shall come to the trench which leads into the
seaand perhaps the canoe will not pass down it."

I have made my calculation,said the bishopand I am certain it will
pass.

So be it; I wish it may, monseigneur,continued Yves; "but your


highness knows very well that to make it reach the extremity of the
trenchthere is an enormous stone to be lifted - that under which the
fox always passesand which closes the trench like a door."

It can be raised,said Porthos; "that is nothing."

Oh! I know that monseigneur has the strength of ten men,replied Yves;
but that is giving him a great deal of trouble.

I think the skipper may be right,said Aramis; "let us try the open-air
passage."

The more so, monseigneur,continued the fishermanthat we should not
be able to embark before day, it will require so much labor, and that as
soon as daylight appears, a good _vedette_ placed outside the grotto
would be necessary, indispensable even, to watch the maneuvers of the
lighters or cruisers that are on the look-out for us.

Yes, yes, Yves, your reasons are good; we will go by the beach.

And the three robust Bretons went to the boatand were beginning to
place their rollers underneath it to put it in motionwhen the distant
barking of dogs was heardproceeding from the interior of the island.

Aramis darted out of the grottofollowed by Porthos. Dawn just tinted
with purple and white the waves and plain; through the dim light
melancholy fir-trees waved their tender branches over the pebblesand
long flights of crows were skimming with their black wings the shimmering
fields of buckwheat. In a quarter of an hour it would be clear daylight;
the wakened birds announced it to all nature. The barkings which had
been heardwhich had stopped the three fishermen engaged in moving the
boatand had brought Aramis and Porthos out of the cavernnow seemed to
come from a deep gorge within about a league of the grotto.

It is a pack of hounds,said Porthos; "the dogs are on a scent."

Who can be hunting at such a moment as this?said Aramis.

And this way, particularly,continued Porthoswhere they might expect
the army of the royalists.

The noise comes nearer. Yes, you are right, Porthos, the dogs are on a
scent. But, Yves!cried Aramiscome here! come here!

Yves ran towards himletting fall the cylinder which he was about to
place under the boat when the bishop's call interrupted him.

What is the meaning of this hunt, skipper?said Porthos.

Eh! monseigneur, I cannot understand it,replied the Breton. "It is
not at such a moment that the Seigneur de Locmaria would hunt. Noand
yet the dogs - "

Unless they have escaped from the kennel.

No,said Goennethey are not the Seigneur de Locmaria's hounds.

In common prudence,said Aramislet us go back into the grotto; the
voices evidently draw nearer, we shall soon know what we have to trust
to.

They re-enteredbut had scarcely proceeded a hundred steps in the
darknesswhen a noise like the hoarse sigh of a creature in distress
resounded through the cavernand breathlessrapidterrifieda fox


passed like a flash of lightning before the fugitivesleaped over the
boat and disappearedleaving behind its sour scentwhich was
perceptible for several seconds under the low vaults of the cave.

The fox!cried the Bretonswith the glad surprise of born hunters.

Accursed mischance!cried the bishopour retreat is discovered.

How so?said Porthos; "are you afraid of a fox?"

Eh! my friend, what do you mean by that? why do you specify the fox? It
is not the fox alone. _Pardieu!_ But don't you know, Porthos, that
after the foxes come hounds, and after hounds men?

Porthos hung his head. As though to confirm the words of Aramisthey
heard the yelping pack approach with frightful swiftness upon the trail.
Six foxhounds burst at once upon the little heathwith mingling yelps of
triumph.

There are the dogs, plain enough!said Aramisposted on the look-out
behind a chink in the rocks; "nowwho are the huntsmen?"

If it is the Seigneur de Locmaria's,replied the sailorhe will leave
the dogs to hunt the grotto, for he knows them, and will not enter in
himself, being quite sure that the fox will come out the other side; it
is there he will wait for him.

It is not the Seigneur de Locmaria who is hunting,replied Aramis
turning pale in spite of his efforts to maintain a placid countenance.

Who is it, then?said Porthos.

Look!

Porthos applied his eye to the slitand saw at the summit of a hillock a
dozen horsemen urging on their horses in the track of the dogsshouting
_Taiaut! taiaut!_

The guards!said he.

Yes, my friend, the king's guards.

The king's guards! do you say, monseigneur?cried the Bretonsgrowing
pale in turn.

With Biscarrat at their head, mounted upon my gray horse,continued
Aramis.

The hounds at the same moment rushed into the grotto like an avalanche
and the depths of the cavern were filled with their deafening cries.

Ah! the devil!said Aramisresuming all his coolness at the sight of
this certaininevitable danger. "I am perfectly satisfied we are lost
but we haveat leastone chance left. If the guards who follow their
hounds happen to discover there is an issue to the grottothere is no
help for usfor on entering they must see both ourselves and our boat.
The dogs must not go out of the cavern. Their masters must not enter."

That is clear,said Porthos.

You understand,added Aramiswith the rapid precision of command;
there are six dogs that will be forced to stop at the great stone under
which the fox has glided - but at the too narrow opening of which they
must be themselves stopped and killed.


The Bretons sprang forwardknife in hand. In a few minutes there was a
lamentable concert of angry barks and mortal howls - and thensilence.

That's well!said Aramiscoollynow for the masters!

What is to be done with them?said Porthos.

Wait their arrival, conceal ourselves, and kill them.

_Kill them!_replied Porthos.

There are sixteen,said Aramisat least, at present.

And well armed,added Porthoswith a smile of consolation.

It will last about ten minutes,said Aramis. "To work!"

And with a resolute air he took up a musketand placed a hunting-knife
between his teeth.

Yves, Goenne, and his son,continued Aramiswill pass the muskets to
us. YouPorthoswill fire when they are close. We shall have brought
downat the lowest computationeightbefore the others are aware of
anything - that is certain; then allthere are five of uswill dispatch
the other eightknife in hand."

And poor Biscarrat?said Porthos.

Aramis reflected a moment - "Biscarrat first replied he, coolly. He
knows us."

Chapter XLVIII:
The Grotto.

In spite of the sort of divination which was the remarkable side of the
character of Aramisthe eventsubject to the risks of things over which
uncertainty presidesdid not fall out exactly as the bishop of Vannes
had foreseen. Biscarratbetter mounted than his companionsarrived
first at the opening of the grottoand comprehended that fox and hounds
were one and all engulfed in it. Onlystruck by that superstitious
terror which every dark and subterraneous way naturally impresses upon
the mind of manhe stopped at the outside of the grottoand waited till
his companions should have assembled round him.

Well!asked the young mencoming upout of breathand unable to
understand the meaning of this inaction.

Well! I cannot hear the dogs; they and the fox must all be lost in this
infernal cavern.

They were too close up,said one of the guardsto have lost scent all
at once. Besides, we should hear them from one side or another. They
must, as Biscarrat says, be in this grotto.

But then,said one of the young menwhy don't they give tongue?

It is strange!muttered another.

Well, but,said a fourthlet us go into this grotto. Does it happen
to be forbidden we should enter it?

No,replied Biscarrat. "Onlyas it looks as dark as a wolf's mouth


we might break our necks in it."

Witness the dogs,said a guardwho seem to have broken theirs.

What the devil can have become of them?asked the young men in chorus.
And every master called his dog by his namewhistled to him in his
favorite modewithout a single one replying to either call or whistle.

It is perhaps an enchanted grotto,said Biscarrat; "let us see." And
jumping from his horsehe made a step into the grotto.

Stop! stop! I will accompany you,said one of the guardson seeing
Biscarrat disappear in the shades of the cavern's mouth.

No,replied Biscarratthere must be something extraordinary in the
place - don't let us risk ourselves all at once. If in ten minutes you
do not hear of me, you can come in, but not all at once.

Be it so,said the young manwhobesidesdid not imagine that
Biscarrat ran much risk in the enterprisewe will wait for you.And
without dismounting from their horsesthey formed a circle round the
grotto.

Biscarrat entered then aloneand advanced through the darkness till he
came in contact with the muzzle of Porthos's musket. The resistance
which his chest met with astonished him; he naturally raised his hand and
laid hold of the icy barrel. At the same instantYves lifted a knife
against the young manwhich was about to fall upon him with all force of
a Breton's armwhen the iron wrist of Porthos stopped it half-way.
Thenlike low muttering thunderhis voice growled in the darknessI
will not have him killed!

Biscarrat found himself between a protection and a threatthe one almost
as terrible as the other. However brave the young man might behe could
not prevent a cry escaping himwhich Aramis immediately suppressed by
placing a handkerchief over his mouth. "Monsieur de Biscarrat said he,
in a low voice, we mean you no harmand you must know that if you have
recognized us; butat the first wordthe first groanthe first
whisperwe shall be forced to kill you as we have killed your dogs."

Yes, I recognize you, gentlemen,said the officerin a low voice.
But why are you here - what are you doing, here? Unfortunate men! I
thought you were in the fort.

And you, monsieur, you were to obtain conditions for us, I think?

I did all I was able, messieurs, but -

But what?

But there are positive orders.

To kill us?

Biscarrat made no reply. It would have cost him too much to speak of the
cord to gentlemen. Aramis understood the silence of the prisoner.

Monsieur Biscarrat,said heyou would be already dead if we had not
regard for your youth and our ancient association with your father; but
you may yet escape from the place by swearing that you will not tell your
companions what you have seen.

I will not only swear that I will not speak of it,said Biscarratbut
I still further swear that I will do everything in the world to prevent


my companions from setting foot in the grotto.

Biscarrat! Biscarrat!cried several voices from the outsidecoming
like a whirlwind into the cave.

Reply,said Aramis.

Here I am!cried Biscarrat.

Now, begone; we depend on your loyalty.And he left his hold of the
young manwho hastily returned towards the light.

Biscarrat! Biscarrat!cried the voicesstill nearer. And the shadows
of several human forms projected into the interior of the grotto.
Biscarrat rushed to meet his friends in order to stop themand met them
just as they were adventuring into the cave. Aramis and Porthos listened
with the intense attention of men whose life depends upon a breath of air.

Oh! oh!exclaimed one of the guardsas he came to the lighthow
pale you are!

Pale!cried another; "you ought to say corpse-color."

I!said the young manendeavoring to collect his faculties.

In the name of Heaven! what has happened?exclaimed all the voices.

You have not a drop of blood in your veins, my poor friend,said one of
themlaughing.

Messieurs, it is serious,said anotherhe is going to faint; does any
one of you happen to have any salts?And they all laughed.

This hail of jests fell round Biscarrat's ears like musket-balls in a
_melee_. He recovered himself amidst a deluge of interrogations.

What do you suppose I have seen?' asked he. I was too hot when I
entered the grottoand I have been struck with a chill. That is all."

But the dogs, the dogs; have you seen them again - did you see anything
of them - do you know anything about them?

I suppose they have got out some other way.

Messieurs,said one of the young menthere is in that which is going
on, in the paleness and silence of our friend, a mystery which Biscarrat
will not, or cannot reveal. Only, and this is certain, Biscarrat has
seen something in the grotto. Well, for my part, I am very curious to
see what it is, even if it is the devil! To the grotto! messieurs, to
the grotto!

To the grotto!repeated all the voices. And the echo of the cavern
carried like a menace to Porthos and AramisTo the grotto! to the
grotto!

Biscarrat threw himself before his companions. "Messieurs! messieurs!"
cried hein the name of Heaven! do not go in!

Why, what is there so terrific in the cavern?asked several at once.
Come, speak, Biscarrat.

Decidedly, it is the devil he has seen,repeated he who had before
advanced that hypothesis.


Well,said anotherif he has seen him, he need not be selfish; he may
as well let us have a look at him in turn.

Messieurs! messieurs! I beseech you,urged Biscarrat.

Nonsense! Let us pass!

Messieurs, I implore you not to enter!

Why, you went in yourself.

Then one of the officerswho - of a riper age than the others - had till
this time remained behindand had said nothingadvanced. "Messieurs
said he, with a calmness which contrasted with the animation of the young
men, there is in there some personor somethingthat is not the devil;
but whichwhatever it may behas had sufficient power to silence our
dogs. We must discover who this some one isor what this something is."

Biscarrat made a last effort to stop his friendsbut it was useless. In
vain he threw himself before the rashest; in vain he clung to the rocks
to bar the passage; the crowd of young men rushed into the cavein the
steps of the officer who had spoken lastbut who had sprung in first
sword in handto face the unknown danger. Biscarratrepulsed by his
friendsunable to accompany themwithout passing in the eyes of Porthos
and Aramis for a traitor and a perjurerwith painfully attentive ear and
unconsciously supplicating hands leaned against the rough side of a rock
which he thought must be exposed to the fire of the musketeers. As to
the guardsthey penetrated further and furtherwith exclamations that
grew fainter as they advanced. All at oncea discharge of musketry
growling like thunderexploded in the entrails of the vault. Two or
three balls were flattened against the rock on which Biscarrat was
leaning. At the same instantcriesshrieksimprecations burst forth
and the little troop of gentlemen reappeared - some palesome bleeding all
enveloped in a cloud of smokewhich the outer air seemed to suck
from the depths of the cavern. "Biscarrat! Biscarrat!" cried the
fugitivesyou knew there was an ambuscade in that cavern, and you did
not warn us! Biscarrat, you are the cause that four of us are murdered
men! Woe be to you, Biscarrat!

You are the cause of my being wounded unto death,said one of the young
menletting a gush of scarlet life-blood vomit in his palmand
spattering it into Biscarrat's livid face. "My blood be on your head!"
And he rolled in agony at the feet of the young man.

But, at least, tell us who is there?cried several furious voices.

Biscarrat remained silent. "Tell usor die!" cried the wounded man
raising himself upon one kneeand lifting towards his companion an arm
bearing a useless sword. Biscarrat rushed towards himopening his
breast for the blowbut the wounded man fell back not to rise again
uttering a groan which was his last. Biscarratwith hair on end
haggard eyesand bewildered headadvanced towards the interior of the
cavernsayingYou are right. Death to me, who have allowed my
comrades to be assassinated. I am a worthless wretch!And throwing
away his swordfor he wished to die without defending himselfhe rushed
head foremost into the cavern. The others followed him. The eleven who
remained out of sixteen imitated his example; but they did not go further
than the first. A second discharge laid five upon the icy sand; and as
it was impossible to see whence this murderous thunder issuedthe others
fell back with a terror that can be better imagined than described. But
far from flyingas the others had doneBiscarrat remained safe and
soundseated on a fragment of rockand waited. There were only six
gentlemen left.


Seriously,said one of the survivorsis it the devil?

_Ma foi!_ it is much worse,said another.

Ask Biscarrat, he knows.

Where is Biscarrat?The young men looked round themand saw that
Biscarrat did not answer.

He is dead!said two or three voices.

Oh! no!replied anotherI saw him through the smoke, sitting quietly
on a rock. He is in the cavern; he is waiting for us.

He must know who are there.

And how should he know them?

He was taken prisoner by the rebels.

That is true. Well! let us call him, and learn from him whom we have to
deal with.And all voices shoutedBiscarrat! Biscarrat!But
Biscarrat did not answer.

Good!said the officer who had shown so much coolness in the affair.
We have no longer any need of him; here are reinforcements coming.

In facta company of guardsleft in the rear by their officerswhom
the ardor of the chase had carried away - from seventy-five to eighty men

-arrived in good orderled by their captain and the first lieutenant.
The five officers hastened to meet their soldiers; andin language the
eloquence of which may be easily imaginedthey related the adventure
and asked for aid. The captain interrupted them. "Where are your
companions?" demanded he.
Dead!

But there were sixteen of you!

Ten are dead. Biscarrat is in the cavern, and we are five.

Biscarrat is a prisoner?

Probably.

No, for here he is - look.In factBiscarrat appeared at the opening
of the grotto.

He is making a sign to come on,said the officer. "Come on!"

Come on!cried all the troop. And they advanced to meet Biscarrat.

Monsieur,said the captainaddressing BiscarratI am assured that
you know who the men are in that grotto, and who make such a desperate
defense. In the king's name I command you to declare what you know.

Captain,said Biscarratyou have no need to command me. My word has
been restored to me this very instant; and I came in the name of these
men.

To tell me who they are?

To tell you they are determined to defend themselves to the death,
unless you grant them satisfactory terms.


How many are there of them, then?

There are two,said Biscarrat.

There are two - and want to impose conditions upon us?

There are two, and they have already killed ten of our men.

What sort of people are they - giants?

Worse than that. Do you remember the history of the Bastion Saint-
Gervais, captain?

Yes; where four musketeers held out against an army.

Well, these are two of those same musketeers.

And their names?

At that period they were called Porthos and Aramis. Now they are styled

M. d'Herblay and M. du Vallon.
And what interest have they in all this?

It is they who were holding Bell-Isle for M. Fouquet.

A murmur ran through the ranks of the soldiers on hearing the two words
Porthos and Aramis.The musketeers! the musketeers!repeated they.
And among all these brave menthe idea that they were going to have a
struggle against two of the oldest glories of the French armymade a
shiverhalf enthusiasmtwo-thirds terrorrun through them. In fact
those four names - D'ArtagnanAthosPorthosand Aramis - were
venerated among all who wore a sword; asin antiquitythe names of
HerculesTheseusCastorand Pollux were venerated.

Two men - and they have killed ten in two discharges! It is impossible,
Monsieur Biscarrat!

Eh! captain,replied the latterI do not tell you that they have not
with them two or three men, as the musketeers of the Bastion Saint-
Gervais had two or three lackeys; but, believe me, captain, I have seen
these men, I have been taken prisoner by them - I know they themselves
alone are all-sufficient to destroy an army.

That we shall see,said the captainand that in a moment, too.
Gentlemen, attention!

At this replyno one stirredand all prepared to obey. Biscarrat alone
risked a last attempt.

Monsieur,said hein a low voicebe persuaded by me; let us pass on
our way. Those two men, those two lions you are going to attack, will
defend themselves to the death. They have already killed ten of our men;
they will kill double the number, and end by killing themselves rather
than surrender. What shall we gain by fighting them?

We shall gain the consciousness, monsieur, of not having allowed eighty
of the king's guards to retire before two rebels. If I listened to your
advice, monsieur, I should be a dishonored man; and by dishonoring myself
I should dishonor the army. Forward, my men!

And he marched first as far as the opening of the grotto. There he
halted. The object of this halt was to give Biscarrat and his companions


time to describe to him the interior of the grotto. Thenwhen he
believed he had a sufficient acquaintance with the placehe divided his
company into three bodieswhich were to enter successivelykeeping up a
sustained fire in all directions. No doubtin this attack they would
lose five moreperhaps ten; butcertainlythey must end by taking the
rebelssince there was no issue; andat any ratetwo men could not
kill eighty.

Captain,said BiscarratI beg to be allowed to march at the head of
the first platoon.

So be it,replied the captain; "you have all the honor. I make you a
present of it."

Thanks!replied the young manwith all the firmness of his race.

Take your sword, then.

I shall go as I am, captain,said Biscarratfor I do not go to kill,
I go to be killed.

And placing himself at the head of the first platoonwith head uncovered
and arms crossed- "Marchgentlemen said he.

Chapter XLIX:
An Homeric Song.

It is time to pass to the other camp, and to describe at once the
combatants and the field of battle. Aramis and Porthos had gone to the
grotto of Locmaria with the expectation of finding there their canoe
ready armed, as well as the three Bretons, their assistants; and they at
first hoped to make the bark pass through the little issue of the cavern,
concealing in that fashion both their labors and their flight. The
arrival of the fox and dogs obliged them to remain concealed. The grotto
extended the space of about a hundred _toises_, to that little slope
dominating a creek. Formerly a temple of the Celtic divinities, when
Belle-Isle was still called Kalonese, this grotto had beheld more than
one human sacrifice accomplished in its mystic depths. The first
entrance to the cavern was by a moderate descent, above which distorted
rocks formed a weird arcade; the interior, very uneven and dangerous from
the inequalities of the vault, was subdivided into several compartments,
which communicated with each other by means of rough and jagged steps,
fixed right and left, in uncouth natural pillars. At the third
compartment the vault was so low, the passage so narrow, that the bark
would scarcely have passed without touching the side; nevertheless, in
moments of despair, wood softens and stone grows flexible beneath the
human will. Such was the thought of Aramis, when, after having fought
the fight, he decided upon flight - a flight most dangerous, since all
the assailants were not dead; and that, admitting the possibility of
putting the bark to sea, they would have to fly in open day, before the
conquered, so interested on recognizing their small number, in pursuing
their conquerors. When the two discharges had killed ten men, Aramis,
familiar with the windings of the cavern, went to reconnoiter them one by
one, and counted them, for the smoke prevented seeing outside; and he
immediately commanded that the canoe should be rolled as far as the great
stone, the closure of the liberating issue. Porthos collected all his
strength, took the canoe in his arms, and raised it up, whilst the
Bretons made it run rapidly along the rollers. They had descended into
the third compartment; they had arrived at the stone which walled the
outlet. Porthos seized this gigantic stone at its base, applied his
robust shoulder, and gave a heave which made the wall crack. A cloud of
dust fell from the vault, with the ashes of ten thousand generations of
sea birds, whose nests stuck like cement to the rock. At the third shock


the stone gave way, and oscillated for a minute. Porthos, placing his
back against the neighboring rock, made an arch with his foot, which
drove the block out of the calcareous masses which served for hinges and
cramps. The stone fell, and daylight was visible, brilliant, radiant,
flooding the cavern through the opening, and the blue sea appeared to the
delighted Bretons. They began to lift the bark over the barricade.
Twenty more _toises_, and it would glide into the ocean. It was during
this time that the company arrived, was drawn up by the captain, and
disposed for either an escalade or an assault. Aramis watched over
everything, to favor the labors of his friends. He saw the
reinforcements, counted the men, and convinced himself at a single glance
of the insurmountable peril to which fresh combat would expose them. To
escape by sea, at the moment the cavern was about to be invaded, was
impossible. In fact, the daylight which had just been admitted to the
last compartments had exposed to the soldiers the bark being rolled
towards the sea, the two rebels within musket-shot; and one of their
discharges would riddle the boat if it did not kill the navigators.
Besides, allowing everything, - if the bark escaped with the men on board
of it, how could the alarm be suppressed - how could notice to the royal
lighters be prevented? What could hinder the poor canoe, followed by sea
and watched from the shore, from succumbing before the end of the day?
Aramis, digging his hands into his gray hair with rage, invoked the
assistance of God and the assistance of the demons. Calling to Porthos,
who was doing more work than all the rollers - whether of flesh or wood
My friend said he, our adversaries have just received a
reinforcement."

Ah, ah!said Porthosquietlywhat is to be done, then?

To recommence the combat,said Aramisis hazardous.

Yes,said Porthosfor it is difficult to suppose that out of two, one
should not be killed; and certainly, if one of us was killed, the other
would get himself killed also.Porthos spoke these words with that
heroic nature whichwith himgrew grander with necessity.

Aramis felt it like a spur to his heart. "We shall neither of us be
killed if you do what I tell youfriend Porthos."

Tell me what?

These people are coming down into the grotto.

Yes.

We could kill about fifteen of them, but no more.

How many are there in all?asked Porthos.

They have received a reinforcement of seventy-five men.

Seventy-five and five, eighty. Ah!sighed Porthos.

If they fire all at once they will riddle us with balls.

Certainly they will.

Without reckoning,added Aramisthat the detonation might occasion a
collapse of the cavern.

Ay,said Porthosa piece of falling rock just now grazed my shoulder.

You see, then?


Oh! it is nothing.

We must determine upon something quickly. Our Bretons are going to
continue to roll the canoe towards the sea.

Very well.

We two will keep the powder, the balls, and the muskets here.

But only two, my dear Aramis - we shall never fire three shots
together,said Porthosinnocentlythe defense by musketry is a bad
one.

Find a better, then.

I have found one,said the gianteagerly; "I will place myself in
ambuscade behind the pillar with this iron barand invisible
unattackableif they come in floodsI can let my bar fall upon their
skullsthirty times in a minute. _Hein!_ what do you think of the
project? You smile!"

Excellent, dear friend, perfect! I approve it greatly; only you will
frighten them, and half of them will remain outside to take us by
famine. What we want, my good friend, is the entire destruction of the
troop. A single survivor encompasses our ruin.

You are right, my friend, but how can we attract them, pray?

By not stirring, my good Porthos.

Well! we won't stir, then; but when they are all together -

Then leave it to me, I have an idea.

If it is so, and your idea proves a good one - and your idea is most
likely to be good - I am satisfied.

To your ambuscade, Porthos, and count how many enter.

But you, what will you do?

Don't trouble yourself about me; I have a task to perform.

I think I hear shouts.

It is they! To your post. Keep within reach of my voice and hand.

Porthos took refuge in the second compartmentwhich was in darkness
absolutely black. Aramis glided into the third; the giant held in his
hand an iron bar of about fifty pounds weight. Porthos handled this
leverwhich had been used in rolling the barkwith marvelous facility.
During this timethe Bretons had pushed the bark to the beach. In the
further and lighter compartmentAramisstooping and concealedwas busy
with some mysterious maneuver. A command was given in a loud voice. It
was the last order of the captain commandant. Twenty-five men jumped
from the upper rocks into the first compartment of the grottoand having
taken their groundbegan to fire. The echoes shrieked and barkedthe
hissing balls seemed actually to rarefy the airand then opaque smoke
filled the vault.

To the left! to the left!cried Biscarratwhoin his first assault
had seen the passage to the second chamberand whoanimated by the
smell of powderwished to guide his soldiers in that direction. The
troopaccordinglyprecipitated themselves to the left - the passage


gradually growing narrower. Biscarratwith his hands stretched forward
devoted to deathmarched in advance of the muskets. "Come on! come on!"
exclaimed heI see daylight!


Strike, Porthos!cried the sepulchral voice of Aramis.


Porthos breathed a heavy sigh - but he obeyed. The iron bar fell full
and direct upon the head of Biscarratwho was dead before he had ended
his cry. Then the formidable lever rose ten times in ten secondsand
made ten corpses. The soldiers could see nothing; they heard sighs and
groans; they stumbled over dead bodiesbut as they had no conception of
the cause of all thisthey came forward jostling each other. The
implacable barstill fallingannihilated the first platoonwithout a
single sound to warn the secondwhich was quietly advancing; only
commanded by the captainthe men had stripped a firgrowing on the
shoreandwith its resinous branches twisted togetherthe captain had
made a flambeau. On arriving at the compartment where Porthoslike the
exterminating angelhad destroyed all he touchedthe first rank drew
back in terror. No firing had replied to that of the guardsand yet
their way was stopped by a heap of dead bodies - they literally walked in
blood. Porthos was still behind his pillar. The captainillumining
with trembling pine-torch this frightful carnageof which he in vain
sought the causedrew back towards the pillar behind which Porthos was
concealed. Then a gigantic hand issued from the shadeand fastened on
the throat of the captainwho uttered a stifle rattle; his stretched-out
arms beating the airthe torch fell and was extinguished in blood. A
second afterthe corpse of the captain dropped close to the extinguished
torchand added another body to the heap of dead which blocked up the
passage. All this was effected as mysteriously as though by magic. At
hearing the rattling in the throat of the captainthe soldiers who
accompanied him had turned roundcaught a glimpse of his extended arms
his eyes starting from their socketsand then the torch fell and they
were left in darkness. From an unreflectiveinstinctivemechanical
feelingthe lieutenant cried:


Fire!


Immediately a volley of musketry flamedthunderedroared in the cavern
bringing down enormous fragments from the vaults. The cavern was lighted
for an instant by this dischargeand then immediately returned to pitchy
darkness rendered thicker by the smoke. To this succeeded a profound
silencebroken only by the steps of the third brigadenow entering the
cavern.


Chapter L:
The Death of a Titan.


At the moment when Porthosmore accustomed to the darkness than these
mencoming from open daylightwas looking round him to see if through
this artificial midnight Aramis were not making him some signalhe felt
his arm gently touchedand a voice low as a breath murmured in his ear
Come.


Oh!said Porthos.


Hush!said Aramisif possibleyet more softly.


And amidst the noise of the third brigadewhich continued to advance
the imprecations of the guards still left alivethe muffled groans of
the dyingAramis and Porthos glided unseen along the granite walls of
the cavern. Aramis led Porthos into the last but one compartmentand
showed himin a hollow of the rocky walla barrel of powder weighing
from seventy to eighty poundsto which he had just attached a fuse. "My



friend said he to Porthos, you will take this barrelthe match of
which I am going to set fire toand throw it amidst our enemies; can you
do so?"

_Parbleu!_replied Porthos; and he lifted the barrel with one hand.
Light it!

Stop,said Aramistill they are all massed together, and then, my
Jupiter, hurl your thunderbolt among them.

Light it,repeated Porthos.

On my part,continued AramisI will join our Bretons, and help them
to get the canoe to the sea. I will wait for you on the shore; launch it
strongly, and hasten to us.

Light it,said Porthosa third time.

But do you understand me?

_Parbleu!_said Porthos againwith laughter that he did not even
attempt to restrainwhen a thing is explained to me I understand it;
begone, and give me the light.

Aramis gave the burning match to Porthoswho held out his arm to him
his hands being engaged. Aramis pressed the arm of Porthos with both his
handsand fell back to the outlet of the cavern where the three rowers
awaited him.

Porthosleft aloneapplied the spark bravely to the match. The spark a
feeble sparkfirst principle of conflagration - shone in the darkness
like a glow-wormthen was deadened against the match which it set fire
toPorthos enlivening the flame with his breath. The smoke was a little
dispersedand by the light of the sparkling match objects mightfor two
secondsbe distinguished. It was a brief but splendid spectaclethat
of this giantpalebloodyhis countenance lighted by the fire of the
match burning in surrounding darkness! The soldiers saw himthey saw
the barrel he held in his hand - they at once understood what was going
to happen. Thenthese menalready choked with horror at the sight of
what had been accomplishedfilled with terror at thought of what was
about to be accomplishedgave out a simultaneous shriek of agony. Some
endeavored to flybut they encountered the third brigadewhich barred
their passage; others mechanically took aim and attempted to fire their
discharged muskets; others fell instinctively upon their knees. Two or
three officers cried out to Porthos to promise him his liberty if he
would spare their lives. The lieutenant of the third brigade commanded
his men to fire; but the guards had before them their terrified
companionswho served as a living rampart for Porthos. We have said
that the light produced by the spark and the match did not last more than
two seconds; but during these two seconds this is what it illumined: in
the first placethe giantenlarged in the darkness; thenat ten paces
offa heap of bleeding bodiescrushedmutilatedin the midst of which
some still heaved in the last agonylifting the mass as a last
respiration inflating the sides of some old monster dying in the night.
Every breath of Porthosthus vivifying the matchsent towards this heap
of bodies a phosphorescent auramingled with streaks of purple. In
addition to this principal group scattered about the grottoas the
chances of death or surprise had stretched themisolated bodies seemed
to be making ghastly exhibitions of their gaping wounds. Above ground
bedded in pools of bloodroseheavy and sparklingthe shortthick
pillars of the cavernof which the strongly marked shades threw out the
luminous particles. And all this was seen by the tremulous light of a
match attached to a barrel of powderthat is to saya torch which
whilst throwing a light on the dead pastshowed death to come.


As I have saidthis spectacle did not last above two seconds. During
this short space of time an officer of the third brigade got together
eight men armed with musketsandthrough an openingordered them to
fire upon Porthos. But they who received the order to fire trembled so
that three guards fell by the dischargeand the five remaining balls
hissed on to splinter the vaultplow the groundor indent the pillars
of the cavern.

A burst of laughter replied to this volley; then the arm of the giant
swung round; then was seen whirling through the airlike a falling star
the train of fire. The barrelhurled a distance of thirty feetcleared
the barricade of dead bodiesand fell amidst a group of shrieking
soldierswho threw themselves on their faces. The officer had followed
the brilliant train in the air; he endeavored to precipitate himself upon
the barrel and tear out the match before it reached the powder it
contained. Useless! The air had made the flame attached to the
conductor more active; the matchwhich at rest might have burnt five
minuteswas consumed in thirty secondsand the infernal work exploded.
Furious vortices of sulphur and nitredevouring shoals of fire which
caught every objectthe terrible thunder of the explosionthis is what
the second which followed disclosed in that cavern of horrors. The
rocks split like planks of deal beneath the axe. A jet of firesmoke
and _debris_ sprang from the middle of the grottoenlarging as it
mounted. The large walls of silex tottered and fell upon the sandand
the sand itselfan instrument of pain when launched from its hard bed
riddled the faces with its myriad cutting atoms. Shrieksimprecations
human lifedead bodies - all were engulfed in one terrific crash.

The three first compartments became one sepulchral sink into which fell
grimly backin the order of their weightevery vegetablemineralor
human fragment. Then the lighter sand and ash came down in turn
stretching like a winding sheet and smoking over the dismal scene. And
nowin this burning tombthis subterranean volcanoseek the king's
guards with their blue coats laced with silver. Seek the officers
brilliant in goldseek for the arms upon which they depended for their
defense. One single man has made of all of those things a chaos more
confusedmore shapelessmore terrible than the chaos which existed
before the creation of the world. There remained nothing of the three
compartments - nothing by which God could have recognized His handiwork.
As for Porthosafter having hurled the barrel of powder amidst his
enemieshe had fledas Aramis had directed him to doand had gained
the last compartmentinto which airlightand sunshine penetrated
through the opening. Scarcely had he turned the angle which separated
the third compartment from the fourth when he perceived at a hundred
paces from him the bark dancing on the waves. There were his friends
there libertythere life and victory. Six more of his formidable
stridesand he would be out of the vault; out of the vault! a dozen of
his vigorous leaps and he would reach the canoe. Suddenly he felt his
knees give way; his knees seemed powerlesshis legs to yield beneath him.

Oh! oh!murmured hethere is my weakness seizing me again! I can
walk no further! What is this?

Aramis perceived him through the openingand unable to conceive what
could induce him to stop thus - "Come onPorthos! come on he cried;
come quickly!"

Oh!replied the giantmaking an effort that contorted every muscle of
his body - "oh! but I cannot." While saying these wordshe fell upon
his kneesbut with his mighty hands he clung to the rocksand raised
himself up again.

Quick! quick!repeated Aramisbending forward towards the shoreas if


to draw Porthos towards him with his arms.

Here I am,stammered Porthoscollecting all his strength to make one
step more.

In the name of Heaven! Porthos, make haste! the barrel will blow up!

Make haste, monseigneur!shouted the Bretons to Porthoswho was
floundering as in a dream.

But there was no time; the explosion thunderedearth gapedthe smoke
which hurled through the clefts obscured the sky; the sea flowed back as
though driven by the blast of flame which darted from the grotto as if
from the jaws of some gigantic fiery chimera; the reflux took the bark
out twenty _toises_; the solid rocks cracked to their baseand separated
like blocks beneath the operation of the wedge; a portion of the vault
was carried up towards heavenas if it had been built of cardboard; the
green and blue and topaz conflagration and black lava of liquefactions
clashed and combated an instant beneath a majestic dome of smoke; then
oscillateddeclinedand fell successively the mighty monoliths of rock
which the violence of the explosion had not been able to uproot from the
bed of ages; they bowed to each other like grave and stiff old menthen
prostrating themselveslay down forever in their dusty tomb.

This frightful shock seemed to restore Porthos the strength that he had
lost; he arosea giant among granite giants. But at the moment he was
flying between the double hedge of granite phantomsthese latterwhich
were no longer supported by the corresponding linksbegan to roll and
totter round our Titanwho looked as if precipitated from heaven amidst
rocks which he had just been launching. Porthos felt the very earth
beneath his feet becoming jelly-tremulous. He stretched both hands to
repulse the falling rocks. A gigantic block was held back by each of his
extended arms. He bent his headand a third granite mass sank between
his shoulders. For an instant the power of Porthos seemed about to fail
himbut this new Hercules united all his forceand the two walls of the
prison in which he was buried fell back slowly and gave him place. For
an instant he appearedin this frame of granitelike the angel of
chaosbut in pushing back the lateral rockshe lost his point of
supportfor the monolith which weighed upon his shouldersand the
boulderpressing upon him with all its weightbrought the giant down
upon his knees. The lateral rocksfor an instant pushed backdrew
together againand added their weight to the ponderous mass which would
have been sufficient to crush ten men. The hero fell without a groan he
fell while answering Aramis with words of encouragement and hopefor
thanks to the powerful arch of his handsfor an instant he believed
thatlike Enceladushe would succeed in shaking off the triple load.
But by degrees Aramis beheld the block sink; the handsstrung for an
instantthe arms stiffened for a last effortgave waythe extended
shoulders sankwounded and tornand the rocks continued to gradually
collapse.

Porthos! Porthos!cried Aramistearing his hair. "Porthos! where are
you? Speak!"

Here, here,murmured Porthoswith a voice growing evidently weaker
patience! patience!

Scarcely had he pronounced these wordswhen the impulse of the fall
augmented the weight; the enormous rock sank downpressed by those
others which sank in from the sidesandas it wereswallowed up
Porthos in a sepulcher of badly jointed stones. On hearing the dying
voice of his friendAramis had sprung to land. Two of the Bretons
followed himwith each a lever in his hand - one being sufficient to
take care of the bark. The dying rattle of the valiant gladiator guided


them amidst the ruins. Aramisanimatedactive and young as at twenty
sprang towards the triple massand with his handsdelicate as those of
a womanraised by a miracle of strength the corner-stone of this great
granite grave. Then he caught a glimpsethrough the darkness of that
charnel-houseof the still brilliant eye of his friendto whom the
momentary lifting of the mass restored a momentary respiration. The two
men came rushing upgrasped their iron leversunited their triple
strengthnot merely to raise itbut sustain it. All was useless. They
gave way with cries of griefand the rough voice of Porthosseeing them
exhaust themselves in a useless strugglemurmured in an almost cheerful
tone those supreme words which came to his lips with the last
respirationToo heavy!

After which his eyes darkened and closedhis face grew ashy palethe
hands whitenedand the colossus sank quite downbreathing his last
sigh. With him sank the rockwhicheven in his dying agony he had
still held up. The three men dropped the leverswhich rolled upon the
tumulary stone. Thenbreathlesspalehis brow covered with sweat
Aramis listenedhis breast oppressedhis heart ready to break.

Nothing more. The giant slept the eternal sleepin the sepulcher which
God had built about him to his measure.

Chapter LI:
Porthos's Epitaph.

Aramissilent and sad as icetrembling like a timid childarose
shivering from the stone. A Christian does not walk on tombs. But
though capable of standinghe was not capable of walking. It might be
said that something of dead Porthos had just died within him. His
Bretons surrounded him; Aramis yielded to their kind exertionsand the
three sailorslifting him upcarried him to the canoe. Thenhaving
laid him down upon the bench near the rudderthey took to their oars
preferring this to hoisting sailwhich might betray them.

On all that leveled surface of the ancient grotto of Locmariaone single
hillock attracted their eyes. Aramis never removed his from it; andat
a distance out in the seain proportion as the shore recededthat
menacing proud mass of rock seemed to draw itself upas formerly Porthos
used to draw himself upraising a smilingyet invincible head towards
heavenlike that of his dear old honest valiant friendthe strongest of
the fouryet the first dead. Strange destiny of these men of brass!
The most simple of heart allied to the most crafty; strength of body
guided by subtlety of mind; and in the decisive momentwhen vigor alone
could save mind and bodya stonea rocka vile material weight
triumphed over manly strengthand falling upon the bodydrove out the
mind.

Worthy Porthos! born to help other menalways ready to sacrifice himself
for the safety of the weakas if God had only given him strength for
that purpose; when dying he only thought he was carrying out the
conditions of his compact with Aramisa compacthoweverwhich Aramis
alone had drawn upand which Porthos had only known to suffer by its
terrible solidarity. Noble Porthos! of what good now are thy chateaux
overflowing with sumptuous furnitureforests overflowing with game
lakes overflowing with fishcellars overflowing with wealth! Of what
service to thee now thy lackeys in brilliant liveriesand in the midst
of them Mousquetonproud of the power delegated by thee! Ohnoble
Porthos! careful heaper-up of treasurewas it worth while to labor to
sweeten and gild lifeto come upon a desert shoresurrounded by the
cries of seagullsand lay thyselfwith broken bonesbeneath a torpid
stone? Was it worth whilein shortnoble Porthosto heap so much
goldand not have even the distich of a poor poet engraven upon thy


monument? Valiant Porthos! he stillwithout doubtsleepslost
forgottenbeneath the rock the shepherds of the heath take for the
gigantic abode of a _dolmen_. And so many twining branchesso many
mossesbent by the bitter wind of oceanso many lichens solder thy
sepulcher to earththat no passers-by will imagine such a block of
granite could ever have been supported by the shoulders of one man.

Aramisstill palestill icy-coldhis heart upon his lipslookedeven
tillwith the last ray of daylightthe shore faded on the horizon. Not
a word escaped himnot a sigh rose from his deep breast. The
superstitious Bretons looked upon himtrembling. Such silence was not
that of a manit was the silence of a statue. In the meantimewith the
first gray lines that lighted up the heavensthe canoe hoisted its
little sailwhichswelling with the kisses of the breezeand carrying
them rapidly from the coastmade bravest way towards Spainacross the
dreaded Gulf of Gasconyso rife with storms. But scarcely half an hour
after the sail had been hoistedthe rowers became inactivereclining on
their benchesandmaking an eye-shade with their handspointed out to
each other a white spot which appeared on the horizon as motionless as a
gull rocked by the viewless respiration of the waves. But that which
might have appeared motionless to ordinary eyes was moving at a quick
rate to the experienced eye of the sailor; that which appeared stationary
upon the ocean was cutting a rapid way through it. For some timeseeing
the profound torpor in which their master was plungedthey did not dare
to rouse himand satisfied themselves with exchanging their conjectures
in whispers. Aramisin factso vigilantso active - Aramiswhose
eyelike that of the lynxwatched without ceasingand saw better by
night than by day - Aramis seemed to sleep in this despair of soul. An
hour passed thusduring which daylight gradually disappearedbut during
which also the sail in view gained so swiftly on the barkthat Goenne
one of the three sailorsventured to say aloud:

Monseigneur, we are being chased!

Aramis made no reply; the ship still gained upon them. Thenof their
own accordtwo of the sailorsby the direction of the patron Yves
lowered the sailin order that that single point upon the surface of the
waters should cease to be a guide to the eye of the enemy pursuing them.
On the part of the ship in sighton the contrarytwo more small sails
were run up at the extremities of the masts. Unfortunatelyit was the
time of the finest and longest days of the yearand the moonin all her
brilliancysucceeded inauspicious daylight. The _balancelle_which was
pursuing the little bark before the windhad then still half an hour of
twilightand a whole night almost as light as day.

Monseigneur! monseigneur! we are lost!said the captain. "Look! they
see us plainlythough we have lowered sail."

That is not to be wondered at,murmured one of the sailorssince they
say that, by the aid of the devil, the Paris-folk have fabricated
instruments with which they see as well at a distance as near, by night
as well as by day.

Aramis took a telescope from the bottom of the boatfocussed it
silentlyand passing it to the sailorHere,said helook!The
sailor hesitated.

Don't be alarmed,said the bishopthere is no sin in it; and if there
is any sin, I will take it on myself.

The sailor lifted the glass to his eyeand uttered a cry. He believed
that the vesselwhich appeared to be distant about cannon-shothad at a
single bound cleared the whole distance. Buton withdrawing the
instrument from his eyehe saw thatexcept the way which the


_balancelle_ had been able to make during that brief instantit was
still at the same distance.

So,murmured the sailorthey can see us as we see them.

They see us,said Aramisand sank again into impassibility.

What! - they see us!said Yves. "Impossible!"

Well, captain, look yourself,said the sailor. And he passed him the
glass.

Monseigneur assures me that the devil has nothing to do with this?
asked Yves.

Aramis shrugged his shoulders.

The skipper lifted the glass to his eye. "Oh! monseigneur said he, it
is a miracle - there they are; it seems as if I were going to touch
them. Twenty-five men at least! Ah! I see the captain forward. He
holds a glass like thisand is looking at us. Ah! he turns roundand
gives an order; they are rolling a piece of cannon forward - they are
loading it - pointing it. _Misericorde!_ they are firing at us!"

And by a mechanical movementthe skipper put aside the telescopeand
the pursuing shiprelegated to the horizonappeared again in its true
aspect. The vessel was still at the distance of nearly a leaguebut
the maneuver sighted thus was not less real. A light cloud of smoke
appeared beneath the sailsmore blue than theyand spreading like a
flower opening; thenat about a mile from the little canoethey saw the
ball take the crown off two or three wavesdig a white furrow in the
seaand disappear at the end of itas inoffensive as the stone with
whichin playa boy makes ducks and drakes. It was at once a menace
and a warning.

What is to be done?asked the patron.

They will sink us!said Goennegive us absolution, monseigneur!And
the sailors fell on their knees before him.

You forget that they can see you,said he.

That is true!said the sailorsashamed of their weakness. "Give us
your ordersmonseigneurwe are prepared to die for you."

Let us wait,said Aramis.

How - let us wait?

Yes; do you not see, as you just now said, that if we endeavor to fly,
they will sink us?

But, perhaps,the patron ventured to sayperhaps under cover of
night, we could escape them.

Oh!said Aramisthey have, no doubt, Greek fire with which to lighten
their own course and ours likewise.

At the same momentas if the vessel was responsive to the appeal of
Aramisa second cloud of smoke mounted slowly to the heavensand from
the bosom of that cloud sparkled an arrow of flamewhich described a
parabola like a rainbowand fell into the seawhere it continued to
burnilluminating a space of a quarter of a league in diameter.


The Bretons looked at each other in terror. "You see plainly said
Aramis, it will be better to wait for them."

The oars dropped from the hands of the sailorsand the barkceasing to
make wayrocked motionless upon the summits of the waves. Night came
onbut still the ship drew nearer. It might be imagined it redoubled
its speed with darkness. From time to timeas a vulture rears its head
out of its nestthe formidable Greek fire darted from its sidesand
cast its flame upon the ocean like an incandescent snowfall. At last it
came within musket-shot. All the men were on deckarms in hand; the
cannoniers were at their gunsthe matches burning. It might be thought
they were about to board a frigate and to fight a crew superior in number
to their ownnot to attempt the capture of a canoe manned by four people.

Surrender!cried the commander of the _balancelle_with the aid of his
speaking-trumpet.

The sailors looked at Aramis. Aramis made a sign with his head. Yves
waved a white cloth at the end of a gaff. This was like striking their
flag. The pursuer came on like a race-horse. It launched a fresh Greek
firewhich fell within twenty paces of the little canoeand threw a
light upon them as white as sunshine.

At the first sign of resistance,cried the commander of the
_balancelle_fire!The soldiers brought their muskets to the present.

Did we not say we surrendered?said Yves.

Alive, alive, captain!cried one excited soldierthey must be taken
alive.

Well, yes - living,said the captain. Then turning towards the
BretonsYour lives are safe, my friends!cried heall but the
Chevalier d'Herblay.

Aramis stared imperceptibly. For an instant his eye was fixed upon the
depths of the oceanillumined by the last flashes of the Greek fire
which ran along the sides of the wavesplayed on the crests like plumes
and rendered still darker and more terrible the gulfs they covered.

Do you hear, monseigneur?said the sailors.

Yes.

What are your orders?

Accept!

But you, monseigneur?

Aramis leaned still more forwardand dipped the ends of his long white
fingers in the green limpid waters of the seato which he turned with
smiles as to a friend.

Accept!repeated he.

We accept,repeated the sailors; "but what security have we?"

The word of a gentleman,said the officer. "By my rank and by my name
I swear that all except M. le Chevalier d'Herblay shall have their lives
spared. I am lieutenant of the king's frigate the 'Pomona' and my name
is Louis Constant de Pressigny."

With a rapid gestureAramis - already bent over the side of the bark


towards the sea - drew himself upand with a flashing eyeand a smile
upon his lipsThrow out the ladder, messieurs,said heas if the
command had belonged to him. He was obeyed. When Aramisseizing the
rope ladderwalked straight up to the commanderwith a firm step
looked at him earnestlymade a sign to him with his handa mysterious
and unknown sign at sight of which the officer turned paletrembledand
bowed his headthe sailors were profoundly astonished. Without a word
Aramis then raised his hand to the eyes of the commander and showed him
the collet of a ring he wore on the ring-finger of his left hand. And
while making this sign Aramisdraped in cold and haughty majestyhad
the air of an emperor giving his hand to be kissed. The commandantwho
for a moment had raised his headbowed a second time with marks of the
most profound respect. Then stretching his hand outin his turn
towards the poopthat is to saytowards his own cabinhe drew back to
allow Aramis to go first. The three Bretonswho had come on board after
their bishoplooked at each otherstupefied. The crew were awed to
silence. Five minutes afterthe commander called the second lieutenant
who returned immediatelyordering the head to be put towards Corunna.
Whilst this order was being executedAramis reappeared upon the deck
and took a seat near the _bastingage_. Night had fallen; the moon had
not yet risenyet Aramis looked incessantly towards Belle-Isle. Yves
then approached the captainwho had returned to take his post in the
sternand saidin a low and humble voiceWhat course are we to
follow, captain?

We take what course monseigneur pleases,replied the officer.

Aramis passed the night leaning upon the _bastingage_. Yveson
approaching him next morningremarked that "the night must have been a
very damp onefor the wood on which the bishop's head had rested was
soaked with dew." Who knows? - that dew wasit may bethe first tears
that had ever fallen from the eyes of Aramis!

What epitaph would have been worth thatgood Porthos?

Chapter LII:

M. de Gesvres's Round.
D'Artagnan was little used to resistance like that he had just
experienced. He returnedprofoundly irritatedto Nantes. Irritation
with this vigorous manusually vented itself in impetuous attackwhich
few peoplehithertowere they kingwere they giantshad been able to
resist. Trembling with ragehe went straight to the castleand asked
an audience with the king. It might be about seven o'clock in the
morningandsince his arrival at Nantesthe king had been an early
riser. But on arriving at the corridor with which we are acquainted
D'Artagnan found M. de Gesvreswho stopped him politelytelling him not
to speak too loud and disturb the king. "Is the king asleep?" said
D'Artagnan. "WellI will let him sleep. But about what o'clock do you
suppose he will rise?"

Oh! in about two hours; his majesty has been up all night.

D'Artagnan took his hat againbowed to M. de Gesvresand returned to
his own apartments. He came back at half-past nineand was told that
the king was at breakfast. "That will just suit me said D'Artagnan.
I will talk to the king while he is eating."

M. de Brienne reminded D'Artagnan that the king would not see any one at
meal-time.
But,said D'Artagnanlooking askant at Brienneyou do not know,
perhaps, monsieur, that I have the privilege of _entree_ anywhere - and


at any hour.

Brienne took the captain's hand kindlyand saidNot at Nantes, dear
Monsieur d'Artagnan. The king, in this journey, has changed everything.

D'Artagnana little softenedasked about what o'clock the king would
have finished his breakfast.

We don't know.

Eh? - don't know! What does that mean? You don't know how much time
the king devotes to eating? It is generally an hour; and, if we admit
that the air of the Loire gives an additional appetite, we will extend it
to an hour and a half; that is enough, I think. I will wait where I am.

Oh! dear Monsieur d'Artagnan, the order of the day is not to allow any
person to remain in this corridor; I am on guard for that particular
purpose.

D'Artagnan felt his anger mounting to his brain a second time. He went
out quicklyfor fear of complicating the affair by a display of
premature ill-humor. As soon as he was out he began to reflect. "The
king said he, will not receive methat is evident. The young man is
angry; he is afraidbeforehandof the words that I may speak to him.
Yes; but in the meantime Belle-Isle is besiegedand my two friends by
now probably taken or killed. Poor Porthos! As to Master Aramishe is
always full of resourcesand I am easy on his account. Butnono;
Porthos is not yet an invalidnor is Aramis in his dotage. The one with
his armthe other with his imaginationwill find work for his majesty's
soldiers. Who knows if these brave men may not get up for the
edification of his most Christian majesty a little bastion of Saint-
Gervais! I don't despair of it. They have cannon and a garrison. And
yet continued D'Artagnan, I don't know whether it would not be better
to stop the combat. For myself alone I will not put up with either surly
looks or insults from the king; but for my friends I must put up with
everything. Shall I go to M. Colbert? Nowthere is a man I must
acquire the habit of terrifying. I will go to M. Colbert." And
D'Artagnan set forward bravely to find M. Colbertbut was informed that
he was working with the kingat the castle of Nantes. "Good!" cried he
the times have come again in which I measured my steps from De Treville
to the cardinal, from the cardinal to the queen, from the queen to Louis

XIII. Truly is it said that men, in growing old, become children again!
-To the castle, then!He returned thither. M. de Lyonne was coming
out. He gave D'Artagnan both handsbut told him that the king had been
busy all the preceding evening and all nightand that orders had been
given that no one should be admitted. "Not even the captain who takes
the order?" cried D'Artagnan. "I think that is rather too strong."
Not even he,said M. de Lyonne.

Since that is the case,replied D'Artagnanwounded to the heart;
since the captain of the musketeers, who has always entered the king's
chamber, is no longer allowed to enter it, his cabinet, or his _salle-amanger_,
either the king is dead, or his captain is in disgrace. Do me
the favor, then, M. de Lyonne, who are in favor, to return and tell the
king, plainly, I send him my resignation.

D'Artagnan, beware of what you are doing!

For friendship's sake, go!and he pushed him gently towards the cabinet.

Well, I will go,said Lyonne.

D'Artagnan waitedwalking about the corridor in no enviable mood.


Lyonne returned.

Well, what did the king say?exclaimed D'Artagnan.

He simply answered, ''Tis well,'replied Lyonne.

That it was well!said the captainwith an explosion. "That is to
saythat he accepts it? Good! NowthenI am free! I am only a plain
citizenM. de Lyonne. I have the pleasure of bidding you good-bye!
Farewellcastlecorridorante-chamber! a _bourgeois_about to breathe
at libertytakes his farewell of you."

And without waiting longerthe captain sprang from the terrace down the
staircasewhere he had picked up the fragments of Gourville's letter.
Five minutes afterhe was at the hostelrywhereaccording to the
custom of all great officers who have lodgings at the castlehe had
taken what was called his city-chamber. But when he arrived there
instead of throwing off his sword and cloakhe took his pistolsput his
money into a large leather pursesent for his horses from the castlestables
and gave orders that would ensure their reaching Vannes during
the night. Everything went on according to his wishes. At eight o'clock
in the eveninghe was putting his foot in the stirrupwhen M. de
Gesvres appearedat the head of twelve guardsin front of the
hostelry. D'Artagnan saw all from the corner of his eye; he could not
fail seeing thirteen men and thirteen horses. But he feigned not to
observe anythingand was about to put his horse in motion. Gesvres rode
up to him. "Monsieur d'Artagnan!" said healoud.

Ah, Monsieur de Gesvres! good evening!

One would say you were getting on horseback.

More than that, - I am mounted, - as you see.

It is fortunate I have met with you.

Were you looking for me, then?

_Mon Dieu!_ yes.

On the part of the king, I will wager?

Yes.

As I, three days ago, went in search of M. Fouquet?

Oh!

Nonsense! It is of no use being over-delicate with me; that is all
labor lost. Tell me at once you are come to arrest me.

To arrest you? - Good heavens! no.

Why do you come to accost me with twelve horsemen at your heels, then?

I am making my round.

That isn't bad! And so you pick me up in your round, eh?

I don't pick you up; I meet with you, and I beg you to come with me.

Where?

To the king.


Good!said D'Artagnanwith a bantering air; "the king is disengaged."

For Heaven's sake, captain,said M. de Gesvresin a low voice to the
musketeerdo not compromise yourself! these men hear you.

D'Artagnan laughed aloudand replied:

March! People who are arrested are placed between the six first guards
and the six last.

But as I am not arresting you,said M. de Gesvresyou will march
behind, with me, if you please.

Well,said D'Artagnanthat is very polite, duke, and you are right in
being so; for if ever I had had to make my rounds near your _chambre-deville_,
I should have been courteous to you, I assure you, on the word of
a gentleman! Now, one favor more; what does the king want with me?

Oh, the king is furious!

Very well! the king, who has thought it worth while to be angry, may
take the trouble to grow calm again; that is all. I shan't die of that,
I will swear.

No, but -

But - I shall be sent to keep company with unfortunate M. Fouquet.
_Mordioux!_ That is a gallant man, a worthy man! We shall live very
sociably together, I will be sworn.

Here we are at our place of destination,said the duke. "Captainfor
Heaven's sake be calm with the king!"

Ah! ah! you are playing the brave man with me, duke!said D'Artagnan
throwing one of his defiant glances over Gesvres. "I have been told that
you are ambitious of uniting your guards with my musketeers. This
strikes me as a splendid opportunity."

I will take exceeding good care not to avail myself of it, captain.

And why not, pray?

Oh, for many reasons - in the first place, for this: if I were to
succeed you in the musketeers after having arrested you -

Ah! then you admit you have arrested me?

No, I _don't_.

Say met me, then. So, you were saying _if_ you were to succeed me after
having arrested me?

Your musketeers, at the first exercise with ball cartridges, would fire
_my_ way, by mistake.

Oh, as to that I won't say; for the fellows _do_ love me a little.

Gesvres made D'Artagnan pass in firstand took him straight to the
cabinet where Louis was waiting for his captain of the musketeersand
placed himself behind his colleague in the ante-chamber. The king could
be heard distinctlyspeaking aloud to Colbert in the same cabinet where
Colbert might have hearda few days beforethe king speaking aloud with

M. d'Artagnan. The guards remained as a mounted picket before the

principal gate; and the report was quickly spread throughout the city
that monsieur le capitaine of the musketeers had been arrested by order
of the king. Then these men were seen to be in motionand as in the
good old times of Louis XIII. and M. de Trevillegroups were formedand
staircases were filled; vague murmursissuing from the court belowcame
rolling to the upper storieslike the distant moaning of the waves. M.
de Gesvres became uneasy. He looked at his guardswhoafter being
interrogated by the musketeers who had just got among their ranksbegan
to shun them with a manifestation of innocence. D'Artagnan was certainly
less disturbed by all this than M. de Gesvresthe captain of the
guards. As soon as he enteredhe seated himself on the ledge of a
window whence with his eagle glance he saw all that was going on without
the least emotion. No step of the progressive fermentation which had
shown itself at the report of his arrest escaped him. He foresaw the
very moment the explosion would take place; and we know that his
previsions were in general correct.

It would be very whimsical,thought heif, this evening, my
praetorians should make me king of France. How I should laugh!

Butat the heightall was stopped. Guardsmusketeersofficers
soldiersmurmursuneasinessdispersedvanisheddied away; there was
an end of menace and sedition. One word had calmed the waves. The king
had desired Brienne to sayHush, messieurs! you disturb the king.

D'Artagnan sighed. "All is over!" said he; "the musketeers of the
present day are not those of his majesty Louis XIII. All is over!"

Monsieur d'Artagnan, you are wanted in the ante-chamber of the king,
proclaimed an usher.

Chapter LIII:
King Louis XIV.

The king was seated in his cabinetwith his back turned towards the door
of entrance. In front of him was a mirrorin whichwhile turning over
his papershe could see at a glance those who came in. He did not take
any notice of the entrance of D'Artagnanbut spread above his letters
and plans the large silk cloth he used to conceal his secrets from the
importunate. D'Artagnan understood this by-playand kept in the
background; so that at the end of a minute the kingwho heard nothing
and saw nothing save from the corner of his eyewas obliged to cryIs
not M. d'Artagnan there?

I am here, sire,replied the musketeeradvancing.

Well, monsieur,said the kingfixing his pellucid eyes on D'Artagnan
what have you to say to me?

I, sire!replied the latterwho watched the first blow of his
adversary to make a good retort; "I have nothing to say to your majesty
unless it be that you have caused me to be arrestedand here I am."

The king was going to reply that he had not had D'Artagnan arrestedbut
any such sentence appeared too much like an excuseand he was silent.
D'Artagnan likewise preserved an obstinate silence.

Monsieur,at length resumed the kingwhat did I charge you to go and
do at Belle-Isle? Tell me, if you please.

The king while uttering these words looked intently at his captain. Here
D'Artagnan was fortunate; the king seemed to place the game in his hands.


I believe,replied hethat your majesty does me the honor to ask what
I went to Belle-Isle to accomplish?

Yes, monsieur.

Well! sire, I know nothing about it; it is not of me that question
should be asked, but of that infinite number of officers of all kinds, to
whom have been given innumerable orders of all kinds, whilst to me, head
of the expedition, nothing precise was said or stated in any form
whatever.

The king was hurt: he showed it by his reply. "Monsieur said he,
orders have only been given to such as were judged faithful."

And, therefore, I have been astonished, sire,retorted the musketeer
that a captain like myself, who ranks with a marechal of France, should
have found himself under the orders of five or six lieutenants or majors,
good to make spies of, possibly, but not at all fit to conduct a warlike
expedition. It was upon this subject I came to demand an explanation of
your majesty, when I found the door closed against me, which, the final
insult offered to a brave man, has led me to quit your majesty's service.

Monsieur,replied the kingyou still believe that you are living in
an age when kings were, as you complain of having been, under the orders
and at the discretion of their inferiors. You seem to forget that a king
owes an account of his actions to none but God.

I forget nothing, sire,said the musketeerwounded by this lesson.
Besides, I do not see in what an honest man, when he asks of his king
how he has ill-served him, offends him.

You have ill-served me, monsieur, by siding with my enemies against me.

Who are your enemies, sire?

The men I sent you to fight.

Two men the enemies of the whole of your majesty's army! That is
incredible.

You have no power to judge of my will.

But I have to judge of my own friendships, sire.

He who serves his friends does not serve his master.

I so well understand this, sire, that I have respectfully offered your
majesty my resignation.

And I have accepted it, monsieur,said the king. "Before being
separated from you I was willing to prove to you that I know how to keep
my word."

Your majesty has kept more than your word, for your majesty has had me
arrested,said D'Artagnanwith his coldbantering air; "you did not
promise me thatsire."

The king would not condescend to perceive the pleasantryand continued
seriouslyYou see, monsieur, to what grave steps your disobedience
forces me.

My disobedience!cried D'Artagnanred with anger.

It is the mildest term that I can find,pursued the king. "My idea was


to take and punish rebels; was I bound to inquire whether these rebels
were your friends or not?"

But I was,replied D'Artagnan. "It was a cruelty on your majesty's
part to send me to capture my friends and lead them to your gibbets."

It was a trial I had to make, monsieur, of pretended servants, who eat
my bread and _should_ defend my person. The trial has succeeded ill,
Monsieur d'Artagnan.

For one bad servant your majesty loses,said the musketeerwith
bitternessthere are ten who, on that same day, go through a like
ordeal. Listen to me, sire; I am not accustomed to that service. Mine
is a rebel sword when I am required to do ill. It was ill to send me in
pursuit of two men whose lives M. Fouquet, your majesty's preserver,
implored you to save. Still further, these men were my friends. They
did not attack your majesty, they succumbed to your blind anger.
Besides, why were they not allowed to escape? What crime had they
committed? I admit you may contest with me the right of judging their
conduct. But why suspect me before the action? Why surround me with
spies? Why disgrace me before the army? Why me, in whom till now you
showed the most entire confidence - who for thirty years have been
attached to your person, and have given you a thousand proofs of my
devotion - for it must be said, now that I am accused - why reduce me to
see three thousand of the king's soldiers march in battle against two
men?

One would say you have forgotten what these men have done to me!said
the kingin a hollow voiceand that it was no merit of theirs I was
not lost.

Sire, one would imagine you forget that I was there.

Enough, Monsieur d'Artagnan, enough of these dominating interests which
arise to keep the sun itself from my interests. I am founding a state in
which there shall be but one master, as I promised you; the moment is at
hand for me to keep my promise. You wish to be, according to your tastes
or private friendships, free to destroy my plans and save my enemies? I
will thwart you or will drop you - seek a more compliant master. I know
full well that another king would not conduct himself as I do, and would
allow himself to be dominated by you, at the risk of sending you some day
to keep company with M. Fouquet and the rest; but I have an excellent
memory, and for me, services are sacred titles to gratitude, to
impunity. You shall only have this lesson, Monsieur d'Artagnan, as the
punishment of your want of discipline, and I will not imitate my
predecessors in anger, not having imitated them in favor. And, then,
other reasons make me act mildly towards you; in the first place, because
you are a man of sense, a man of excellent sense, a man of heart, and
that you will be a capital servant to him who shall have mastered you;
secondly, because you will cease to have any motives for
insubordination. Your friends are now destroyed or ruined by me. These
supports on which your capricious mind instinctively relied I have caused
to disappear. At this moment, my soldiers have taken or killed the
rebels of Belle-Isle.

D'Artagnan became pale. "Taken or killed!" cried he. "Oh! sireif you
thought what you tellif you were sure you were telling me the truthI
should forget all that is justall that is magnanimous in your wordsto
call you a barbarous kingand an unnatural man. But I pardon you these
words said he, smiling with pride; I pardon them to a young prince who
does not knowwho cannot comprehend what such men as M. d'HerblayM. du
Vallonand myself are. Taken or killed! Ah! Ah! sire! tell meif the
news is truehow much has it cost you in men and money. We will then
reckon if the game has been worth the stakes."


As he spoke thusthe king went up to him in great angerand said
Monsieur d'Artagnan, your replies are those of a rebel! Tell me, if you
please, who is king of France? Do you know any other?

Sire,replied the captain of the musketeerscoldlyI very well
remember that one morning at Vaux you addressed that question to many
people who did not answer to it, whilst I, on my part, did answer to it.
If I recognized my king on that day, when the thing was not easy, I think
it would be useless to ask the question of me now, when your majesty and
I are alone.

At these words Louis cast down his eyes. It appeared to him that the
shade of the unfortunate Philippe passed between D'Artagnan and himself
to evoke the remembrance of that terrible adventure. Almost at the same
moment an officer entered and placed a dispatch in the hands of the king
whoin his turnchanged colorwhile reading it.

Monsieur,said hewhat I learn here you would know later; it is
better I should tell you, and that you should learn it from the mouth of
your king. A battle has taken place at Belle-Isle.

Is it possible?said D'Artagnanwith a calm airthough his heart was
beating fast enough to choke him. "Wellsire?"

Well, monsieur - and I have lost a hundred and ten men.

A beam of joy and pride shone in the eyes of D'Artagnan. "And the
rebels?" said he.

The rebels have fled,said the king.

D'Artagnan could not restrain a cry of triumph. "Only added the king,
I have a fleet which closely blockades Belle-Isleand I am certain not
a bark can escape."

So that,said the musketeerbrought back to his dismal ideaif these
two gentlemen are taken -

They will be hanged,said the kingquietly.

And do they know it?replied D'Artagnanrepressing his trembling.

They know it, because you must have told them yourself; and all the
country knows it.

Then, sire, they will never be taken alive, I will answer for that.

Ah!said the kingnegligentlyand taking up his letter again. "Very
wellthey will be deadthenMonsieur d'Artagnanand that will come to
the same thingsince I should only take them to have them hanged."

D'Artagnan wiped the sweat which flowed from his brow.

I have told you,pursued Louis XIV.that I would one day be an
affectionate, generous, and constant master. You are now the only man of
former times worthy of my anger or my friendship. I will not spare you
either sentiment, according to your conduct. Could you serve a king,
Monsieur d'Artagnan, who should have a hundred kings, his equals, in the
kingdom? Could I, tell me, do with such weak instruments the great
things I meditate? Did you ever see an artist effect great works with an
unworthy tool? Far from us, monsieur, the old leaven of feudal abuse!
The Fronde, which threatened to ruin monarchy, has emancipated it. I am
master at home, Captain d'Artagnan, and I shall have servants who,


lacking, perhaps, your genius, will carry devotion and obedience to the
verge of heroism. Of what consequence, I ask you, of what consequence is
it that God has given no sense to arms and legs? It is to the head he
has given genius, and the head, you know, the rest obey. I am the head.

D'Artagnan started. Louis XIV. continued as if he had seen nothing
although this emotion had not by any means escaped him. "Nowlet us
conclude between us two the bargain I promised to make with you one day
when you found me in a very strange predicament at Blois. Do me justice
monsieurwhen you admit I do not make any one pay for the tears of shame
that I then shed. Look around you; lofty heads have bowed. Bow yours
or choose such exile as will suit you. Perhapswhen reflecting upon it
you will find your king has a generous heartwho reckons sufficiently
upon your loyalty to allow you to leave him dissatisfiedwhen you
possess a great state secret. You are a brave man; I know you to be so.
Why have you judged me prematurely? Judge me from this day forward
D'Artagnanand be as severe as you please."

D'Artagnan remained bewilderedmuteundecided for the first time in his
life. At last he had found an adversary worthy of him. This was no
longer trickit was calculation; no longer violencebut strength; no
longer passionbut will; no longer boastingbut council. This young
man who had brought down a Fouquetand could do without a D'Artagnan
deranged the somewhat headstrong calculations of the musketeer.

Come, let us see what stops you?said the kingkindly. "You have
given in your resignation; shall I refuse to accept it? I admit that it
may be hard for such an old captain to recover lost good-humor."

Oh!replied D'Artagnanin a melancholy tonethat is not my most
serious care. I hesitate to take back my resignation because I am old in
comparison with you, and have habits difficult to abandon. Henceforward,
you must have courtiers who know how to amuse you - madmen who will get
themselves killed to carry out what you call your great works. Great
they will be, I feel - but, if by chance I should not think them so? I
have seen war, sire, I have seen peace; I have served Richelieu and
Mazarin; I have been scorched with your father, at the fire of Rochelle;
riddled with sword-thrusts like a sieve, having grown a new skin ten
times, as serpents do. After affronts and injustices, I have a command
which was formerly something, because it gave the bearer the right of
speaking as he liked to his king. But your captain of the musketeers
will henceforward be an officer guarding the outer doors. Truly, sire,
if that is to be my employment from this time, seize the opportunity of
our being on good terms, to take it from me. Do not imagine that I bear
malice; no, you have tamed me, as you say; but it must be confessed that
in taming me you have lowered me; by bowing me you have convicted me of
weakness. If you knew how well it suits me to carry my head high, and
what a pitiful mien I shall have while scenting the dust of your
carpets! Oh! sire, I regret sincerely, and you will regret as I do, the
old days when the king of France saw in every vestibule those insolent
gentlemen, lean, always swearing - cross-grained mastiffs, who could bite
mortally in the hour of danger or of battle. These men were the best of
courtiers to the hand which fed them - they would lick it; but for the
hand that struck them, oh! the bite that followed! A little gold on the
lace of their cloaks, a slender stomach in their _hauts-de-chausses_, a
little sparkling of gray in their dry hair, and you will behold the
handsome dukes and peers, the haughty _marechaux_ of France. But why
should I tell you all this? The king is master; he wills that I should
make verses, he wills that I should polish the mosaics of his antechambers
with satin shoes. _Mordioux!_ that is difficult, but I have got
over greater difficulties. I will do it. Why should I do it? Because I
love money? - I have enough. Because I am ambitious? - my career is
almost at an end. Because I love the court? No. I will remain here
because I have been accustomed for thirty years to go and take the


orderly word of the king, and to have said to me 'Good evening,
D'Artagnan,' with a smile I did not beg for. That smile I will beg
for! Are you content, sire?And D'Artagnan bowed his silver headupon
which the smiling king placed his white hand with pride.

Thanks, my old servant, my faithful friend,said he. "Asreckoning
from this dayI have no longer any enemies in Franceit remains with me
to send you to a foreign field to gather your marshal's baton. Depend
upon me for finding you an opportunity. In the meanwhileeat of my very
best breadand sleep in absolute tranquillity."

That is all kind and well!said D'Artagnanmuch agitated. "But those
poor men at Belle-Isle? One of themin particular - so good! so brave!
so true!"

Do you ask their pardon of me?

Upon my knees, sire!

Well! then, go and take it to them, if it be still in time. But do you
answer for them?

With my life, sire.

Go, then. To-morrow I set out for Paris. Return by that time, for I do
not wish you to leave me in the future.

Be assured of that, sire,said D'Artagnankissing the royal hand.

And with a heart swelling with joyhe rushed out of the castle on his
way to Belle-Isle.

Chapter LIV:

M. Fouquet's Friends.
The king had returned to Parisand with him D'Artagnanwhoin twentyfour
hourshaving made with greatest care all possible inquiries at
Belle-Islesucceeded in learning nothing of the secret so well kept by
the heavy rock of Locmariawhich had fallen on the heroic Porthos. The
captain of the musketeers only knew what those two valiant men - these
two friendswhose defense he had so nobly taken upwhose lives he had
so earnestly endeavored to save - aided by three faithful Bretonshad
accomplished against a whole army. He had seenspread on the
neighboring heaththe human remains which had stained with clouted blood
the scattered stones among the flowering broom. He learned also that a
bark had been seen far out at seaand thatlike a bird of preya royal
vessel had pursuedovertakenand devoured the poor little bird that was
flying with such palpitating wings. But there D'Artagnan's certainties
ended. The field of supposition was thrown open. Nowwhat could he
conjecture? The vessel had not returned. It is true that a brisk wind
had prevailed for three days; but the corvette was known to be a good
sailer and solid in its timbers; it had no need to fear a gale of wind
and it oughtaccording to the calculation of D'Artagnanto have either
returned to Brestor come back to the mouth of the Loire. Such was the
newsambiguousit is truebut in some degree reassuring to him
personallywhich D'Artagnan brought to Louis XIV.when the king
followed by all the courtreturned to Paris.

Louissatisfied with his success - Louismore mild and affable as he
felt himself more powerful - had not ceased for an instant to ride beside
the carriage door of Mademoiselle de la Valliere. Everybody was anxious
to amuse the two queensso as to make them forget this abandonment by
son and husband. Everything breathed the futurethe past was nothing to


anybody. Only that past was like a painful bleeding wound to the hearts
of certain tender and devoted spirits. Scarcely was the king reinstalled
in Pariswhen he received a touching proof of this. Louis XIV. had just
risen and taken his first repast when his captain of the musketeers
presented himself before him. D'Artagnan was pale and looked unhappy.
The kingat the first glanceperceived the change in a countenance
generally so unconcerned. "What is the matterD'Artagnan?" said he.

Sire, a great misfortune has happened to me.

Good heavens! what is that?

Sire, I have lost one of my friends, M. du Vallon, in the affair of
Belle-Isle.

Andwhile speaking these wordsD'Artagnan fixed his falcon eye upon
Louis XIV.to catch the first feeling that would show itself.

I knew it,replied the kingquietly.

You knew it, and did not tell me!cried the musketeer.

To what good? Your grief, my friend, was so well worthy of respect. It
was my duty to treat it gently. To have informed you of this misfortune,
which I knew would pain you so greatly, D'Artagnan, would have been, in
your eyes, to have triumphed over you. Yes, I knew that M. du Vallon had
buried himself beneath the rocks of Locmaria; I knew that M. d'Herblay
had taken one of my vessels with its crew, and had compelled it to convey
him to Bayonne. But I was willing you should learn these matters in a
direct manner, in order that you might be convinced my friends are with
me respected and sacred; that always in me the man will sacrifice himself
to subjects, whilst the king is so often found to sacrifice men to
majesty and power.

But, sire, how could you know?

How do you yourself know, D'Artagnan?

By this letter, sire, which M. d'Herblay, free and out of danger, writes
me from Bayonne.

Look here,said the kingdrawing from a casket placed upon the table
closet to the seat upon which D'Artagnan was leaninghere is a letter
copied exactly from that of M. d'Herblay. Here is the very letter, which
Colbert placed in my hands a week before you received yours. I am well
served, you may perceive.

Yes, sire,murmured the musketeeryou were the only man whose star
was equal to the task of dominating the fortune and strength of my two
friends. You have used your power, sire, you will not abuse it, will
you?

D'Artagnan,said the kingwith a smile beaming with kindnessI could
have M. d'Herblay carried off from the territories of the king of Spain,
and brought here, alive, to inflict justice upon him. But, D'Artagnan,
be assured I will not yield to this first and natural impulse. He is
free - let him continue free.

Oh, sire! you will not always remain so clement, so noble, so generous
as you have shown yourself with respect to me and M. d'Herblay; you will
have about you counselors who will cure you of that weakness.

No, D'Artagnan, you are mistaken when you accuse my council of urging me
to pursue rigorous measures. The advice to spare M. d'Herblay comes from


Colbert himself.

Oh, sire!said D'Artagnanextremely surprised.

As for you,continued the kingwith a kindness very uncommon to him
I have several pieces of good news to announce to you; but you shall
know them, my dear captain, the moment I have made my accounts all
straight. I have said that I wish to make, and would make, your fortune;
that promise will soon become reality.

A thousand times thanks, sire! I can wait. But I implore you, whilst I
go and practice patience, that your majesty will deign to notice those
poor people who have for so long a time besieged your ante-chamber, and
come humbly to lay a petition at your feet.

Who are they?

Enemies of your majesty.The king raised his head.

Friends of M. Fouquet,added D'Artagnan.

Their names?

M. Gourville, M. Pelisson, and a poet, M. Jean de la Fontaine.

The king took a moment to reflect. "What do they want?"

I do not know.

How do they appear?

In great affliction.

What do they say?

Nothing.

What do they do?

They weep.

Let them come in,said the kingwith a serious brow.

D'Artagnan turned rapidly on his heelraised the tapestry which closed
the entrance to the royal chamberand directing his voice to the
adjoining roomcriedEnter.

The three men D'Artagnan had named immediately appeared at the door of
the cabinet in which were the king and his captain. A profound silence
prevailed in their passage. The courtiersat the approach of the
friends of the unfortunate superintendent of financesdrew backas if
fearful of being affected by contagion with disgrace and misfortune.
D'Artagnanwith a quick stepcame forward to take by the hand the
unhappy men who stood trembling at the door of the cabinet; he led them
in front of the king's _fauteuil_whohaving placed himself in the
embrasure of a windowawaited the moment of presentationand was
preparing himself to give the supplicants a rigorously diplomatic
reception.

The first of the friends of Fouquet's to advance was Pelisson. He did
not weepbut his tears were only restrained that the king might better
hear his voice and prayer. Gourville bit his lips to check his tears
out of respect for the king. La Fontaine buried his face in his
handkerchiefand the only signs of life he gave were the convulsive


motions of his shouldersraised by his sobs.

The king preserved his dignity. His countenance was impassible. He even
maintained the frown which appeared when D'Artagnan announced his
enemies. He made a gesture which signifiedSpeak;and he remained
standingwith his eyes fixed searchingly on these desponding men.
Pelisson bowed to the groundand La Fontaine knelt as people do in
churches. This dismal silencedisturbed only by sighs and groansbegan
to excite in the kingnot compassionbut impatience.

Monsieur Pelisson,said hein a sharpdry tone. "Monsieur Gourville
and youMonsieur - " and he did not name La FontaineI cannot, without
sensible displeasure, see you come to plead for one of the greatest
criminals it is the duty of justice to punish. A king does not allow
himself to soften save at the tears of the innocent, the remorse of the
guilty. I have no faith either in the remorse of M. Fouquet or the tears
of his friends, because the one is tainted to the very heart, and the
others ought to dread offending me in my own palace. For these reasons,
I beg you, Monsieur Pelisson, Monsieur Gourville, and you, Monsieur - ,
to say nothing that will not plainly proclaim the respect you have for my
will.

Sire,replied Pelissontrembling at these wordswe are come to say
nothing to your majesty that is not the most profound expression of the
most sincere respect and love that are due to a king from all his
subjects. Your majesty's justice is redoubtable; every one must yield to
the sentences it pronounces. We respectfully bow before it. Far from us
the idea of coming to defend him who has had the misfortune to offend
your majesty. He who has incurred your displeasure may be a friend of
ours, but he is an enemy to the state. We abandon him, but with tears,
to the severity of the king.

Besides,interrupted the kingcalmed by that supplicating voiceand
those persuasive wordsmy parliament will decide. I do not strike
without first having weighed the crime; my justice does not wield the
sword without employing first a pair of scales.

Therefore we have every confidence in that impartiality of the king, and
hope to make our feeble voices heard, with the consent of your majesty,
when the hour for defending an accused friend strikes.

In that case, messieurs, what do you ask of me?said the kingwith his
most imposing air.

Sire,continued Pelissonthe accused has a wife and family. The
little property he had was scarcely sufficient to pay his debts, and
Madame Fouquet, since her husband's captivity, is abandoned by
everybody. The hand of your majesty strikes like the hand of God. When
the Lord sends the curse of leprosy or pestilence into a family, every
one flies and shuns the abode of the leprous or plague-stricken.
Sometimes, but very rarely, a generous physician alone ventures to
approach the ill-reputed threshold, passes it with courage, and risks his
life to combat death. He is the last resource of the dying, the chosen
instrument of heavenly mercy. Sire, we supplicate you, with clasped
hands and bended knees, as a divinity is supplicated! Madame Fouquet has
no longer any friends, no longer any means of support; she weeps in her
deserted home, abandoned by all those who besieged its doors in the hour
of prosperity; she has neither credit nor hope left. At least, the
unhappy wretch upon whom your anger falls receives from you, however
culpable he may be, his daily bread though moistened by his tears. As
much afflicted, more destitute than her husband, Madame Fouquet - the
lady who had the honor to receive your majesty at her table - Madame
Fouquet, the wife of the ancient superintendent of your majesty's
finances, Madame Fouquet has no longer bread.


Here the mortal silence which had chained the breath of Pelisson's two
friends was broken by an outburst of sobs; and D'Artagnanwhose chest
heaved at hearing this humble prayerturned round towards the angle of
the cabinet to bite his mustache and conceal a groan.

The king had preserved his eye dry and his countenance severe; but the
blood had mounted to his cheeksand the firmness of his look was visibly
diminished.

What do you wish?said hein an agitated voice.

We come humbly to ask your majesty,replied Pelissonupon whom emotion
was fast gainingto permit us, without incurring the displeasure of
your majesty, to lend to Madame Fouquet two thousand pistoles collected
among the old friends of her husband, in order that the widow may not
stand in need of the necessaries of life.

At the word _widow_pronounced by Pelisson whilst Fouquet was still
alivethe king turned very pale; - his pride disappeared; pity rose from
his heart to his lips; he cast a softened look upon the men who knelt
sobbing at his feet.

God forbid,said hethat I should confound the innocent with the
guilty. They know me but ill who doubt my mercy towards the weak. I
strike none but the arrogant. Do, messieurs, do all that your hearts
counsel you to assuage the grief of Madame Fouquet. Go, messieurs - go!

The three now rose in silence with dry eyes. The tears had been scorched
away by contact with their burning cheeks and eyelids. They had not the
strength to address their thanks to the kingwho himself cut short their
solemn reverences by entrenching himself suddenly behind the _fauteuil_.

D'Artagnan remained alone with the king.

Well,said heapproaching the young princewho interrogated him with
his look. "Wellmy master! If you had not the device which belongs to
your sunI would recommend you one which M. Conrart might translate into
eclectic Latin'Calm with the lowly; stormy with the strong.'"

The king smiledand passed into the next apartmentafter having said to
D'ArtagnanI give you the leave of absence you must want to put the
affairs of your friend, the late M. du Vallon, in order.

Chapter LV:
Porthos's Will.

At Pierrefonds everything was in mourning. The courts were deserted the
stables closed - the parterres neglected. In the basinsthe
fountainsformerly so jubilantly fresh and noisyhad stopped of
themselves. Along the roads around the chateau came a few grave
personages mounted on mules or country nags. These were rural neighbors
cures and bailiffs of adjacent estates. All these people entered the
chateau silentlyhanded their horses to a melancholy-looking groomand
directed their stepsconducted by a huntsman in blackto the great
dining-roomwhere Mousqueton received them at the door. Mousqueton had
become so thin in two days that his clothes moved upon him like an illfitting
scabbard in which the sword-blade dances at each motion. His
facecomposed of red and whitelike that of the Madonna of Vandykewas
furrowed by two silver rivulets which had dug their beds in his cheeks
as full formerly as they had become flabby since his grief began. At
each fresh arrivalMousqueton found fresh tearsand it was pitiful to
see him press his throat with his fat hand to keep from bursting into


sobs and lamentations. All these visits were for the purpose of hearing
the reading of Porthos's willannounced for that dayand at which all
the covetous friends of the dead man were anxious to be presentas he
had left no relations behind him.

The visitors took their places as they arrivedand the great room had
just been closed when the clock struck twelvethe hour fixed for the
reading of the important document. Porthos's procureur - and that was
naturally the successor of Master Coquenard - commenced by slowly
unfolding the vast parchment upon which the powerful hand of Porthos had
traced his sovereign will. The seal broken - the spectacles put on - the
preliminary cough having sounded - every one pricked up his ears.
Mousqueton had squatted himself in a cornerthe better to weep and the
better to hear. All at once the folding-doors of the great roomwhich
had been shutwere thrown open as if by magicand a warlike figure
appeared upon the thresholdresplendent in the full light of the sun.
This was D'Artagnanwho had come alone to the gateand finding nobody
to hold his stirruphad tied his horse to the knocker and announced
himself. The splendor of daylight invading the roomthe murmur of all
presentandmore than allthe instinct of the faithful dogdrew
Mousqueton from his reverie; he raised his headrecognized the old
friend of his masterandscreaming with griefhe embraced his knees
watering the floor with his tears. D'Artagnan raised the poor intendant
embraced him as if he had been a brotherandhaving nobly saluted the
assemblywho all bowed as they whispered to each other his namehe went
and took his seat at the extremity of the great carved oak hallstill
holding by the hand poor Mousquetonwho was suffocating with excess of
woeand sank upon the steps. Then the procureurwholike the rest
was considerably agitatedcommenced.

Porthosafter a profession of faith of the most Christian character
asked pardon of his enemies for all the injuries he might have done
them. At this paragrapha ray of inexpressible pride beamed from the
eyes of D'Artagnan.

He recalled to his mind the old soldier; all those enemies of Porthos
brought to earth by his valiant hand; he reckoned up the numbers of them
and said to himself that Porthos had acted wiselynot to enumerate his
enemies or the injuries done to themor the task would have been too
much for the reader. Then came the following schedule of his extensive
lands:

I possess at this present time, by the grace of God


1. The domain of Pierrefondslandswoodsmeadowswatersand
forestssurrounded by good walls.

2. The domain of Bracieux, châteaux, forests, plowed lands, forming
three farms.

3. The little estate Du Vallonso named because it is in the valley."
(Brave Porthos!)

4. Fifty farms in Touraine, amounting to five hundred acres.

5. Three mills upon the Cherbringing in six hundred livres each.

6. Three fish-pools in Berry, producing two hundred livres a year.

As to my personal or movable propertyso called because it can be
movedas is so well explained by my learned friend the bishop of Vannes

-" (D'Artagnan shuddered at the dismal remembrance attached to that
name) - the procureur continued imperturbably - "they consist - "

1. In goods which I cannot detail here for want of room, and which
furnish all my chateaux or houses, but of which the list is drawn up by
my intendant.

Every one turned his eyes towards Mousquetonwho was still lost in grief.

2. In twenty horses for saddle and draught, which I have particularly at
my chateau of Pierrefonds, and which are called - Bayard, Roland,
Charlemagne, Pepin, Dunois, La Hire, Ogier, Samson, Milo, Nimrod,
Urganda, Armida, Flastrade, Dalilah, Rebecca, Yolande, Finette, Grisette,
Lisette, and Musette.

3. In sixty dogsforming six packsdivided as follows: the firstfor
the stag; the secondfor the wolf; the thirdfor the wild boar; the
fourthfor the hare; and the two othersfor setters and protection.

4. In arms for war and the chase contained in my gallery of arms.

5. My wines of Anjouselected for Athoswho liked them formerly; my
wines of BurgundyChampagneBordeauxand Spainstocking eight cellars
and twelve vaultsin my various houses.

6. My pictures and statues, which are said to be of great value, and
which are sufficiently numerous to fatigue the sight.

7. My libraryconsisting of six thousand volumesquite newand have
never been opened.

8. My silver plate, which is perhaps a little worn, but which ought to
weigh from a thousand to twelve hundred pounds, for I had great trouble
in lifting the coffer that contained it and could not carry it more than
six times round my chamber.

9. All these objectsin addition to the table and house linenare
divided in the residences I liked the best."

Here the reader stopped to take breath. Every one sighedcoughedand
redoubled his attention. The procureur resumed:

I have lived without having any children, and it is probable I never
shall have any, which to me is a cutting grief. And yet I am mistaken,
for I have a son, in common with my other friends; that is, M. Raoul
Auguste Jules de Bragelonne, the true son of M. le Comte de la Fere.

This young nobleman appears to me extremely worthy to succeed the
valiant gentleman of whom I am the friend and very humble servant."

Here a sharp sound interrupted the reader. It was D'Artagnan's sword
whichslipping from his baldrichad fallen on the sonorous flooring.
Every one turned his eyes that wayand saw that a large tear had rolled
from the thick lid of D'Artagnanhalf-way down to his aquiline nosethe
luminous edge of which shone like a little crescent moon.

This is why,continued the procureurI have left all my property,
movable, or immovable, comprised in the above enumerations, to M. le
Vicomte Raoul Auguste Jules de Bragelonne, son of M. le Comte de la Fere,
to console him for the grief he seems to suffer, and enable him to add
more luster to his already glorious name.

A vague murmur ran through the auditory. The procureur continued
seconded by the flashing eye of D'Artagnanwhichglancing over the
assemblyquickly restored the interrupted silence:

On condition that M. le Vicomte de Bragelonne do give to M. le Chevalier


d'Artagnan, captain of the king's musketeers, whatever the said Chevalier
d'Artagnan may demand of my property. On condition that M. le Vicomte de
Bragelonne do pay a good pension to M. le Chevalier d'Herblay, my friend,
if he should need it in exile. I leave to my intendant Mousqueton all of
my clothes, of city, war, or chase, to the number of forty-seven suits,
in the assurance that he will wear them till they are worn out, for the
love of and in remembrance of his master. Moreover, I bequeath to M. le
Vicomte de Bragelonne my old servant and faithful friend Mousqueton,
already named, providing that the said vicomte shall so act that
Mousqueton shall declare, when dying, he has never ceased to be happy.

On hearing these wordsMousqueton bowedpale and trembling; his
shoulders shook convulsively; his countenancecompressed by a frightful
griefappeared from between his icy handsand the spectators saw him
stagger and hesitateas ifthough wishing to leave the hallhe did not
know the way.

Mousqueton, my good friend,said D'Artagnango and make your
preparations. I will take you with me to Athos's house, whither I shall
go on leaving Pierrefonds.

Mousqueton made no reply. He scarcely breathedas if everything in that
hall would from that time be foreign. He opened the doorand slowly
disappeared.

The procureur finished his readingafter which the greater part of those
who had come to hear the last will of Porthos dispersed by degreesmany
disappointedbut all penetrated with respect. As for D'Artagnanthus
left aloneafter having received the formal compliments of the
procureurhe was lost in admiration of the wisdom of the testatorwho
had so judiciously bestowed his wealth upon the most necessitous and the
most worthywith a delicacy that neither nobleman nor courtier could
have displayed more kindly. When Porthos enjoined Raoul de Bragelonne to
give D'Artagnan all that he would askhe knew wellour worthy Porthos
that D'Artagnan would ask or take nothing; and in case he did demand
anythingnone but himself could say what. Porthos left a pension to
Aramiswhoif he should be inclined to ask too muchwas checked by the
example of D'Artagnan; and that word _exile_thrown out by the testator
without apparent intentionwas it not the mildestmost exquisite
criticism upon that conduct of Aramis which had brought about the death
of Porthos? But there was no mention of Athos in the testament of the
dead. Could the latter for a moment suppose that the son would not offer
the best part to the father? The rough mind of Porthos had fathomed all
these causesseized all these shades more clearly than lawbetter than
customwith more propriety than taste.

Porthos had indeed a heart,said D'Artagnan to himself with a sigh. As
he made this reflectionhe fancied he hard a groan in the room above
him; and he thought immediately of poor Mousquetonwhom he felt it was a
pleasing duty to divert from his grief. For this purpose he left the
hall hastily to seek the worthy intendantas he had not returned. He
ascended the staircase leading to the first storyand perceivedin
Porthos's own chambera heap of clothes of all colors and materials
upon which Mousqueton had laid himself down after heaping them all on the
floor together. It was the legacy of the faithful friend. Those clothes
were truly his own; they had been given to him; the hand of Mousqueton
was stretched over these relicswhich he was kissing with his lipswith
all his faceand covered with his body. D'Artagnan approached to
console the poor fellow.

My God!said hehe does not stir - he has fainted!

But D'Artagnan was mistaken. Mousqueton was dead! Deadlike the dog
whohaving lost his mastercrawls back to die upon his cloak.


Chapter LVI:
The Old Age of Athos.


While these affairs were separating forever the four musketeersformerly
bound together in a manner that seemed indissolubleAthosleft alone
after the departure of Raoulbegan to pay his tribute to that foretaste
of death which is called the absence of those we love. Back in his house
at Bloisno longer having even Grimaud to receive a poor smile as he
passed through the parterreAthos daily felt the decline of vigor of a
nature which for so long a time had seemed impregnable. Agewhich had
been kept back by the presence of the beloved objectarrived with that
_cortege_ of pains and inconvenienceswhich grows by geometrical
accretion. Athos had no longer his son to induce him to walk firmly
with head erectas a good example; he had no longerin those brilliant
eyes of the young manan ever-ardent focus at which to kindle anew the
fire of his looks. And thenmust it be saidthat natureexquisite in
tenderness and reserveno longer finding anything to understand its
feelingsgave itself up to grief with all the warmth of common natures
when they yield to joy. The Comte de la Ferewho had remained a young
man to his sixty-second year; the warrior who had preserved his strength
in spite of fatigue; his freshness of mind in spite of misfortunehis
mild serenity of soul and body in spite of Miladyin spite of Mazarin
in spite of La Valliere; Athos had become an old man in a weekfrom the
moment at which he lost the comfort of his later youth. Still handsome
though bentnoblebut sadhe soughtsince his solitudethe deeper
glades where sunshine scarcely penetrated. He discontinued all the
mighty exercises he had enjoyed through lifewhen Raoul was no longer
with him. The servantsaccustomed to see him stirring with the dawn at
all seasonswere astonished to hear seven o'clock strike before their
master quitted his bed. Athos remained in bed with a book under his
pillow - but he did not sleepneither did he read. Remaining in bed
that he might no longer have to carry his bodyhe allowed his soul and
spirit to wander from their envelope and return to his sonor to God.


Transcriber's note: In some editionsin spite of Miladyreads "in
spite of malady". - JB


His people were sometimes terrified to see himfor hours together
absorbed in silent reveriemute and insensible; he no longer heard the
timid step of the servant who came to the door of his chamber to watch
the sleeping or waking of his master. It often occurred that he forgot
the day had half passed awaythat the hours for the two first meals were
gone by. Then he was awakened. He rosedescended to his shady walk
then came out a little into the sunas though to partake of its warmth
for a minute in memory of his absent child. And then the dismal
monotonous walk recommenceduntilexhaustedhe regained the chamber
and his bedhis domicile by choice. For several days the comte did not
speak a single word. He refused to receive the visits that were paid
himand during the night he was seen to relight his lamp and pass long
hours in writingor examining parchments.


Athos wrote one of these letters to Vannesanother to Fontainebleau;
they remained without answers. We know why: Aramis had quitted France
and D'Artagnan was traveling from Nantes to Parisfrom Paris to
Pierrefonds. His _valet de chambre_ observed that he shortened his walk
every day by several turns. The great alley of limes soon became too
long for feet that used to traverse it formerly a hundred times a day.
The comte walked feebly as far as the middle treesseated himself upon a
mossy bank that sloped towards a sidewalkand there waited the return of
his strengthor rather the return of night. Very shortly a hundred
steps exhausted him. At length Athos refused to rise at all; he declined
all nourishmentand his terrified peoplealthough he did not complain



although he wore a smile upon his lipsalthough he continued to speak
with his sweet voice - his people went to Blois in search of the ancient
physician of the late Monsieurand brought him to the Comte de la Fere
in such a fashion that he could see the comte without being himself
seen. For this purposethey placed him in a closet adjoining the
chamber of the patientand implored him not to show himselffor fear of
displeasing their masterwho had not asked for a physician. The doctor
obeyed. Athos was a sort of model for the gentlemen of the country; the
Blaisois boasted of possessing this sacred relic of French glory. Athos
was a great seigneur compared with such nobles as the king improvised by
touching with his artificial scepter the parched-up trunks of the
heraldic trees of the province.

People respected Athoswe sayand they loved him. The physician could
not bear to see his people weepto see flock round him the poor of the
cantonto whom Athos had so often given life and consolation by his kind
words and his charities. He examinedthereforefrom the depths of his
hiding-placethe nature of that mysterious malady which bent and aged
more mortally every day a man but lately so full of life and a desire to
live. He remarked upon the cheeks of Athos the hectic hue of fever
which feeds upon itself; slow feverpitilessborn in a fold of the
heartsheltering itself behind that rampartgrowing from the suffering
it engendersat once cause and effect of a perilous situation. The
comte spoke to nobody; he did not even talk to himself. His thought
feared noise; it approached to that degree of over-excitement which
borders upon ecstasy. Man thus absorbedthough he does not yet belong
to Godalready appertains no longer to the earth. The doctor remained
for several hours studying this painful struggle of the will against
superior power; he was terrified at seeing those eyes always fixedever
directed on some invisible object; was terrified at the monotonous
beating of that heart from which never a sigh arose to vary the
melancholy state; for often pain becomes the hope of the physician. Half
a day passed away thus. The doctor formed his resolution like a brave
man; he issued suddenly from his place of retreatand went straight up
to Athoswho beheld him without evincing more surprise than if he had
understood nothing of the apparition.

Monsieur le comte, I crave your pardon,said the doctorcoming up to
the patient with open arms; "but I have a reproach to make you - you
shall hear me." And he seated himself by the pillow of Athoswho had
great trouble in rousing himself from his preoccupation.

What is the matter, doctor?asked the comteafter a silence.

The matter is, you are ill, monsieur, and have had no advice.

I! ill!said Athossmiling.

Fever, consumption, weakness, decay, monsieur le comte!

Weakness!replied Athos; "is it possible? I do not get up."

Come, come! monsieur le comte, no subterfuges; you are a good Christian?

I hope so,said Athos.

Is it your wish to kill yourself?

Never, doctor.

Well! monsieur, you are in a fair way of doing so. Thus to remain is
suicide. Get well! monsieur le comte, get well!

Of what? Find the disease first. For my part, I never knew myself


better; never did the sky appear more blue to me; never did I take more
care of my flowers.

You have a hidden grief.

Concealed! - not at all; the absence of my son, doctor; that is my
malady, and I do not conceal it.

Monsieur le comte, your son lives, he is strong, he has all the future
before him - the future of men of merit, of his race; live for him -

But I do live, doctor; oh! be satisfied of that,added hewith a
melancholy smile; "for as long as Raoul livesit will be plainly known
for as long as he livesI shall live."

What do you say?

A very simple thing. At this moment, doctor, I leave life suspended
within me. A forgetful, dissipated, indifferent life would be beyond my
strength, now I have no longer Raoul with me. You do not ask the lamp to
burn when the match has not illumed the flame; do not ask me to live
amidst noise and merriment. I vegetate, I prepare myself, I wait. Look,
doctor; remember those soldiers we have so often seen together at the
ports, where they were waiting to embark; lying down, indifferent, half
on one element, half on the other; they were neither at the place where
the sea was going to carry them, nor at the place the earth was going to
lose them; baggage prepared, minds on the stretch, arms stacked - they
waited. I repeat it, the word is the one which paints my present life.
Lying down like the soldiers, my ear on the stretch for the report that
may reach me, I wish to be ready to set out at the first summons. Who
will make me that summons? life or death? God or Raoul? My baggage is
packed, my soul is prepared, I await the signal - I wait, doctor, I wait!

The doctor knew the temper of that mind; he appreciated the strength of
that body; he reflected for the momenttold himself that words were
uselessremedies absurdand left the chateauexhorting Athos's
servants not to quit him for a moment.

The doctor being goneAthos evinced neither anger nor vexation at having
been disturbed. He did not even desire that all letters that came should
be brought to him directly. He knew very well that every distraction
which should arise would be a joya hopewhich his servants would have
paid with their blood to procure him. Sleep had become rare. By intense
thinkingAthos forgot himselffor a few hours at mostin a reverie
most profoundmore obscure than other people would have called a dream.
The momentary repose which this forgetfulness thus gave the bodystill
further fatigued the soulfor Athos lived a double life during these
wanderings of his understanding. One nighthe dreamt that Raoul was
dressing himself in a tentto go upon an expedition commanded by M. de
Beaufort in person. The young man was sad; he clasped his cuirass
slowlyand slowly he girded on his sword.

What is the matter?asked his fathertenderly.

What afflicts me is the death of Porthos, ever so dear a friend,
replied Raoul. "I suffer here the grief you soon will feel at home."

And the vision disappeared with the slumber of Athos. At daybreak one of
his servants entered his master's apartmentand gave him a letter which
came from Spain.

The writing of Aramis,thought the comte; and he read.

Porthos is dead!cried heafter the first lines. "Oh! RaoulRaoul!


thanks! thou keepest thy promisethou warnest me!"

And Athosseized with a mortal sweatfainted in his bedwithout any
other cause than weakness.

Chapter LVII:
Athos's Vision.

When this fainting of Athos had ceasedthe comtealmost ashamed of
having given way before this superior natural eventdressed himself and
ordered his horsedetermined to ride to Bloisto open more certain
correspondences with either AfricaD'Artagnanor Aramis. In factthis
letter from Aramis informed the Comte de la Fere of the bad success of
the expedition of Belle-Isle. It gave him sufficient details of the
death of Porthos to move the tender and devoted heart of Athos to its
innermost fibers. Athos wished to go and pay his friend Porthos a last
visit. To render this honor to his companion in armshe meant to send
to D'Artagnanto prevail upon him to recommence the painful voyage to
Belle-Isleto accomplish in his company that sad pilgrimage to the tomb
of the giant he had so much lovedthen to return to his dwelling to obey
that secret influence which was conducting him to eternity by a
mysterious road. But scarcely had his joyous servants dressed their
masterwhom they saw with pleasure preparing for a journey which might
dissipate his melancholy; scarcely had the comte's gentlest horse been
saddled and brought to the doorwhen the father of Raoul felt his head
become confusedhis legs give wayand he clearly perceived the
impossibility of going one step further. He ordered himself to be
carried into the sun; they laid him upon his bed of moss where he passed
a full hour before he could recover his spirits. Nothing could be more
natural than this weakness after then inert repose of the latter days.
Athos took a _bouillon_to give him strengthand bathed his dried lips
in a glassful of the wine he loved the best - that old Anjou wine
mentioned by Porthos in his admirable will. Thenrefreshedfree in
mindhe had his horse brought again; but only with the aid of his
servants was he able painfully to climb into the saddle. He did not go a
hundred paces; a shivering seized him again at the turning of the road.

This is very strange!said he to his _valet de chambre_who
accompanied him.

Let us stop, monsieur - I conjure you!replied the faithful servant;
how pale you are getting!

That will not prevent my pursuing my route, now I have once started,
replied the comte. And he gave his horse his head again. But suddenly
the animalinstead of obeying the thought of his masterstopped. A
movementof which Athos was unconscioushad checked the bit.

Something,said Athoswills that I should go no further. Support
me,added hestretching out his arms; "quick! come closer! I feel my
muscles relax - I shall fall from my horse."

The valet had seen the movement made by his master at the moment he
received the order. He went up to him quicklyreceived the comte in his
armsand as they were not yet sufficiently distant from the house for
the servantswho had remained at the door to watch their master's
departurenot to perceive the disorder in the usually regular proceeding
of the comtethe valet called his comrades by gestures and voiceand
all hastened to his assistance. Athos had gone but a few steps on his
returnwhen he felt himself better again. His strength seemed to revive
and with it the desire to go to Blois. He made his horse turn round:
butat the animal's first stepshe sunk again into a state of torpor
and anguish.


Well! decidedly,said heit is _willed_ that I should stay at home.
His people flocked around him; they lifted him from his horseand
carried him as quickly as possible into the house. Everything was
prepared in his chamberand they put him to bed.

You will be sure to remember,said hedisposing himself to sleep
that I expect letters from Africa this very day.

Monsieur will no doubt hear with pleasure that Blaisois's son is gone on
horseback, to gain an hour over the courier of Blois,replied his _valet
de chambre_.

Thank you,replied Athoswith his placid smile.

The comte fell asleepbut his disturbed slumber resembled torture rather
than repose. The servant who watched him saw several times the
expression of internal suffering shadowed on his features. Perhaps Athos
was dreaming.

The day passed away. Blaisois's son returned; the courier had brought no
news. The comte reckoned the minutes with despair; he shuddered when
those minutes made an hour. The idea that he was forgotten seized him
onceand brought on a fearful pang of the heart. Everybody in the house
had given up all hopes of the courier - his hour had long passed. Four
times the express sent to Blois had repeated his journeyand there was
nothing to the address of the comte. Athos knew that the courier only
arrived once a week. Herethenwas a delay of eight mortal days to be
endured. He commenced the night in this painful persuasion. All that a
sick manirritated by sufferingcan add of melancholy suppositions to
probabilities already gloomyAthos heaped up during the early hours of
this dismal night. The fever rose: it invaded the chestwhere the fire
soon caughtaccording to the expression of the physicianwho had been
brought back from Blois by Blaisois at his last journey. Soon it gained
the head. The physician made two successive bleedingswhich dislodged
it for the timebut left the patient very weakand without power of
action in anything but his brain. And yet this redoubtable fever had
ceased. It besieged with its last palpitations the tense extremities; it
ended by yielding as midnight struck.

The physicianseeing the incontestable improvementreturned to Blois
after having ordered some prescriptionsand declared that the comte was
saved. Then commenced for Athos a strangeindefinable state. Free to
thinkhis mind turned towards Raoulthat beloved son. His imagination
penetrated the fields of Africa in the environs of Gigelliwhere M. de
Beaufort must have landed with his army. A waste of gray rocksrendered
green in certain parts by the waters of the seawhen it lashed the shore
in storms and tempest. Beyondthe shorestrewed over with these rocks
like gravestonesascendedin form of an amphitheater among mastic-trees
and cactusa sort of small townfull of smokeconfused noisesand
terrified movements. All of a suddenfrom the bosom of this smoke arose
a flamewhich succeededcreeping along the housesin covering the
entire surface of the townand increased by degreesuniting in its red
and angry vortices tearsscreamsand supplicating arms outstretched to
Heaven.

There wasfor a momenta frightful _pele-mele_ of timbers falling to
piecesof swords brokenof stones calcinedtrees burnt and
disappearing. It was a strange thing that in this chaosin which Athos
distinguished raised armsin which he heard criessobsand groanshe
did not see one human figure. The cannon thundered at a distance
musketry madly barkedthe sea moanedflocks made their escapebounding
over the verdant slope. But not a soldier to apply the match to the
batteries of cannonnot a sailor to assist in maneuvering the fleetnot


a shepherd in charge of the flocks. After the ruin of the villagethe
destruction of the forts which dominated ita ruin and destruction
magically wrought without the co-operation of a single human beingthe
flames were extinguishedthe smoke began to subsidethen diminished in
intensitypaled and disappeared entirely. Night then came over the
scene; night dark upon the earthbrilliant in the firmament. The large
blazing stars which spangled the African sky glittered and gleamed
without illuminating anything.

A long silence ensuedwhich gavefor a momentrepose to the troubled
imagination of Athos; and as he felt that that which he saw was not
terminatedhe applied more attentively the eyes of his understanding on
the strange spectacle which his imagination had presented. This
spectacle was soon continued for him. A mild pale moon rose behind the
declivities of the coaststreaking at first the undulating ripples of
the seawhich appeared to have calmed after the roaring it had sent
forth during the vision of Athos - the moonwe sayshed its diamonds
and opals upon the briers and bushes of the hills. The gray rocksso
many silent and attentive phantomsappeared to raise their heads to
examine likewise the field of battle by the light of the moonand Athos
perceived that the fieldempty during the combatwas now strewn with
fallen bodies.

An inexpressible shudder of fear and horror seized his soul as he
recognized the white and blue uniforms of the soldiers of Picardywith
their long pikes and blue handlesand muskets marked with the _fleur-delis_
on the butts. When he saw all the gaping woundslooking up to the
bright heavens as if to demand back of them the souls to which they had
opened a passage- when he saw the slaughtered horsesstifftheir
tongues hanging out at one side of their mouthssleeping in the shiny
blood congealed around themstaining their furniture and their maneswhen
he saw the white horse of M. de Beaufortwith his head beaten to
piecesin the first ranks of the deadAthos passed a cold hand over his
browwhich he was astonished not to find burning. He was convinced by
this touch that he was presentas a spectatorwithout delirium's
dreadful aidthe day after the battle fought upon the shores of Gigelli
by the army of the expeditionwhich he had seen leave the coast of
France and disappear upon the dim horizonand of which he had saluted
with thought and gesture the last cannon-shot fired by the duke as a
signal of farewell to his country.

Who can paint the mortal agony with which his soul followedlike a
vigilant eyethese effigies of clay-cold soldiersand examined them
one after the otherto see if Raoul slept among them? Who can express
the intoxication of joy with which Athos bowed before Godand thanked
Him for not having seen him he sought with so much fear among the dead?
In factfallen in their ranksstifficythe deadstill recognizable
with easeseemed to turn with complacency towards the Comte de la Fere
to be the better seen by himduring his sad review. But yethe was
astonishedwhile viewing all these bodiesnot to perceive the
survivors. To such a point did the illusion extendthat this vision was
for him a real voyage made by the father into Africato obtain more
exact information respecting his son.

Fatiguedthereforewith having traversed seas and continentshe sought
repose under one of the tents sheltered behind a rockon the top of
which floated the white _fleur-de-lised_ pennon. He looked for a soldier
to conduct him to the tent of M. de Beaufort. Thenwhile his eye was
wandering over the plainturning on all sideshe saw a white form
appear behind the scented myrtles. This figure was clothed in the
costume of an officer; it held in its hand a broken sword; it advanced
slowly towards Athoswhostopping short and fixing his eyes upon it
neither spoke nor movedbut wished to open his armsbecause in this
silent officer he had already recognized Raoul. The comte attempted to


utter a crybut it was stifled in his throat. Raoulwith a gesture
directed him to be silentplacing his finger on his lips and drawing
back by degreeswithout Athos being able to see his legs move. The
comtestill paler than Raoulfollowed his sonpainfully traversing
briers and bushesstones and ditchesRaoul not appearing to touch the
earthno obstacle seeming to impede the lightness of his march. The
comtewhom the inequalities of the path fatiguedsoon stopped
exhausted. Raoul still continued to beckon him to follow him. The
tender fatherto whom love restored strengthmade a last effortand
climbed the mountain after the young manwho attracted him by gesture
and by smile.


At length he gained the crest of the hilland sawthrown out in black
upon the horizon whitened by the moonthe aerial form of Raoul. Athos
reached forth his hand to get closer to his beloved son upon the plateau
and the latter also stretched out his; but suddenlyas if the young man
had been drawn away in his own despitestill retreatinghe left the
earthand Athos saw the clear blue sky shine between the feet of his
child and the ground of the hill. Raoul rose insensibly into the void
smilingstill calling with gesture: - he departed towards heaven. Athos
uttered a cry of tenderness and terror. He looked below again. He saw a
camp destroyedand all those white bodies of the royal armylike so
many motionless atoms. Andthenraising his headhe saw the figure of
his son still beckoning him to climb the mystic void.


Chapter LVIII:
The Angel of Death.


Athos was at this part of his marvelous visionwhen the charm was
suddenly broken by a great noise rising from the outer gates. A horse
was heard galloping over the hard gravel of the great alleyand the
sound of noisy and animated conversations ascended to the chamber in
which the comte was dreaming. Athos did not stir from the place he
occupied; he scarcely turned his head towards the door to ascertain the
sooner what these noises could be. A heavy step ascended the stairs; the
horsewhich had recently gallopeddeparted slowly towards the stables.
Great hesitation appeared in the stepswhich by degrees approached the
chamber. A door was openedand Athosturning a little towards the part
of the room the noise came fromcriedin a weak voice:


It is a courier from Africa, is it not?


No, monsieur le comte,replied a voice which made the father of Raoul
start upright in his bed.


Grimaud!murmured he. And the sweat began to pour down his face.
Grimaud appeared in the doorway. It was no longer the Grimaud we have
seenstill young with courage and devotionwhen he jumped the first
into the boat destined to convey Raoul de Bragelonne to the vessels of
the royal fleet. 'Twas now a stern and pale old manhis clothes covered
with dustand hair whitened by old age. He trembled whilst leaning
against the door-frameand was near falling on seeingby the light of
the lampsthe countenance of his master. These two men who had lived so
long together in a community of intelligenceand whose eyesaccustomed
to economize expressionsknew how to say so many things silently - these
two old friendsone as noble as the other in heartif they were unequal
in fortune and birthremained tongue-tied whilst looking at each other.
By the exchange of a single glance they had just read to the bottom of
each other's hearts. The old servitor bore upon his countenance the
impression of a grief already oldthe outward token of a grim
familiarity with woe. He appeared to have no longer in use more than a
single version of his thoughts. As formerly he was accustomed not to
speak muchhe was now accustomed not to smile at all. Athos read at a



glance all these shades upon the visage of his faithful servantand in
the same tone he would have employed to speak to Raoul in his dream:

Grimaud,said heRaoul is dead. _Is it not so?_

Behind Grimaud the other servants listened breathlesslywith their eyes
fixed upon the bed of their sick master. They heard the terrible
questionand a heart-breaking silence followed.

Yes,replied the old manheaving the monosyllable from his chest with
a hoarsebroken sigh.

Then arose voices of lamentationwhich groaned without measureand
filled with regrets and prayers the chamber where the agonized father
sought with his eyes the portrait of his son. This was for Athos like
the transition which led to his dream. Without uttering a crywithout
shedding a tearpatientmildresigned as a martyrhe raised his eyes
towards Heavenin order there to see againrising above the mountain of
Gigellithe beloved shade that was leaving him at the moment of
Grimaud's arrival. Without doubtwhile looking towards the heavens
resuming his marvelous dreamhe repassed by the same road by which the
visionat once so terrible and sweethad led him before; for after
having gently closed his eyeshe reopened them and began to smile: he
had just seen Raoulwho had smiled upon him. With his hands joined upon
his breasthis face turned towards the windowbathed by the fresh air
of nightwhich brought upon its wings the aroma of the flowers and the
woodsAthos enterednever again to come out of itinto the
contemplation of that paradise which the living never see. God willed
no doubtto open to this elect the treasures of eternal beatitudeat
this hour when other men tremble with the idea of being severely received
by the Lordand cling to this life they knowin the dread of the other
life of which they get but merest glimpses by the dismal murky torch of
death. Athos was spirit-guided by the pure serene soul of his sonwhich
aspired to be like the paternal soul. Everything for this just man was
melody and perfume in the rough road souls take to return to the
celestial country. After an hour of this ecstasyAthos softly raised
his hands as white as wax; the smile did not quit his lipsand he
murmured lowso low as scarcely to be audiblethese three words
addressed to God or to Raoul:

HERE I AM!

And his hands fell slowlyas though he himself had laid them on the bed.

Death had been kind and mild to this noble creature. It had spared him
the tortures of the agonyconvulsions of the last departure; had opened
with an indulgent finger the gates of eternity to that noble soul. God
had no doubt ordered it thus that the pious remembrance of this death
should remain in the hearts of those presentand in the memory of other
men - a death which caused to be loved the passage from this life to the
other by those whose existence upon this earth leads them not to dread
the last judgment. Athos preservedeven in the eternal sleepthat
placid and sincere smile - an ornament which was to accompany him to the
tomb. The quietude and calm of his fine features made his servants for a
long time doubt whether he had really quitted life. The comte's people
wished to remove Grimaudwhofrom a distancedevoured the face now
quickly growing marble-paleand did not approachfrom pious fear of
bringing to him the breath of death. But Grimaudfatigued as he was
refused to leave the room. He sat himself down upon the threshold
watching his master with the vigilance of a sentineljealous to receive
either his first waking look or his last dying sigh. The noises all were
quiet in the house - every one respected the slumber of their lord. But
Grimaudby anxiously listeningperceived that the comte no longer
breathed. He raised himself with his hands leaning on the groundlooked


to see if there did not appear some motion in the body of his master.
Nothing! Fear seized him; he rose completely upandat the very
momentheard some one coming up the stairs. A noise of spurs knocking
against a sword - a warlike sound familiar to his ears - stopped him as
he was going towards the bed of Athos. A voice more sonorous than brass
or steel resounded within three paces of him.

Athos! Athos! my friend!cried this voiceagitated even to tears.

Monsieur le Chevalier d'Artagnan,faltered out Grimaud.

Where is he? Where is he?continued the musketeer. Grimaud seized his
arm in his bony fingersand pointed to the bedupon the sheets of which
the livid tints of death already showed.

A choked respirationthe opposite to a sharp cryswelled the throat of
D'Artagnan. He advanced on tip-toetremblingfrightened at the noise
his feet made on the floorhis heart rent by a nameless agony. He
placed his ear to the breast of Athoshis face to the comte's mouth.
Neither noisenor breath! D'Artagnan drew back. Grimaudwho had
followed him with his eyesand for whom each of his movements had been a
revelationcame timidly; seated himself at the foot of the bedand
glued his lips to the sheet which was raised by the stiffened feet of his
master. Then large drops began to flow from his red eyes. This old man
in invincible despairwho weptbent doubled without uttering a word
presented the most touching spectacle that D'Artagnanin a life so
filled with emotionhad ever met with.

The captain resumed standing in contemplation before that smiling dead
manwho seemed to have burnished his last thoughtto give his best
friendthe man he had loved next to Raoula gracious welcome even
beyond life. And for reply to that exalted flattery of hospitality
D'Artagnan went and kissed Athos fervently on the browand with his
trembling fingers closed his eyes. Then he seated himself by the pillow
without dread of that dead manwho had been so kind and affectionate to
him for five and thirty years. He was feeding his soul with the
remembrances the noble visage of the comte brought to his mind in crowds

-some blooming and charming as that smile - some darkdismaland icy
as that visage with its eyes now closed to all eternity.
All at once the bitter flood which mounted from minute to minute invaded
his heartand swelled his breast almost to bursting. Incapable of
mastering his emotionhe aroseand tearing himself violently from the
chamber where he had just found dead him to whom he came to report the
news of the death of Porthoshe uttered sobs so heart-rending that the
servantswho seemed only to wait for an explosion of griefanswered to
it by their lugubrious clamorsand the dogs of the late comte by their
lamentable howlings. Grimaud was the only one who did not lift up his
voice. Even in the paroxysm of his grief he would not have dared to
profane the deador for the first time disturb the slumber of his
master. Had not Athos always bidden him be dumb?

At daybreak D'Artagnanwho had wandered about the lower hallbiting his
fingers to stifle his sighs - D'Artagnan went up once more; and watching
the moments when Grimaud turned his head towards himhe made him a sign
to come to himwhich the faithful servant obeyed without making more
noise than a shadow. D'Artagnan went down againfollowed by Grimaud;
and when he had gained the vestibuletaking the old man's hands
Grimaud,said heI have seen how the father died; now let me know
about the son.

Grimaud drew from his breast a large letterupon the envelope of which
was traced the address of Athos. He recognized the writing of M. de
Beaufortbroke the sealand began to readwhile walking about in the


first steel-chill rays of dawnin the dark alley of old limesmarked by
the still visible footsteps of the comte who had just died.

Chapter LIX:
The Bulletin.

The Duc de Beaufort wrote to Athos. The letter destined for the living
only reached the dead. God had changed the address.

MY DEAR COMTE,wrote the princein his largeschool-boy's hand- "a
great misfortune has struck us amidst a great triumph. The king loses
one of the bravest of soldiers. I lose a friend. You lose M. de
Bragelonne. He has died gloriouslyso gloriously that I have not the
strength to weep as I could wish. Receive my sad complimentsmy dear
comte. Heaven distributes trials according to the greatness of our
hearts. This is an immense onebut not above your courage. Your good
friend
LE DUC DE BEAUFORT.

The letter contained a relation written by one of the prince's
secretaries. It was the most touching recitaland the most trueof
that dismal episode which unraveled two existences. D'Artagnan
accustomed to battle emotionsand with a heart armed against tenderness
could not help starting on reading the name of Raoulthe name of that
beloved boy who had become a shade now - like his father.

In the morning,said the prince's secretarymonseigneur commanded the
attack. Normandy and Picardy had taken positions in the rocks dominated
by the heights of the mountain, upon the declivity of which were raised
the bastions of Gigelli.

The cannon opened the action; the regiments marched full of resolution;
the pikemen with pikes elevatedthe musket-bearers with their weapons
ready. The prince followed attentively the march and movements of the
troopsso as to be able to sustain them with a strong reserve. With
monseigneur were the oldest captains and his aides-de-camp. M. le
Vicomte de Bragelonne had received orders not to leave his highness. In
the meantime the enemy's cannonwhich at first thundered with little
success against the massesbegan to regulate their fireand the balls
better directedkilled several men near the prince. The regiments
formed in columnandadvancing against the rampartswere rather
roughly handled. There was a sort of hesitation in our troopswho found
themselves ill-seconded by the artillery. In factthe batteries which
had been established the evening before had but a weak and uncertain aim
on account of their position. The upward direction of the aim lessened
the justness of the shots as well as their range.

Monseigneur, comprehending the bad effect of this position on the siege
artillery, commanded the frigates moored in the little road to commence a
regular fire against the place. M. de Bragelonne offered himself at once
to carry this order. But monseigneur refused to acquiesce in the
vicomte's request. Monseigneur was right, for he loved and wished to
spare the young nobleman. He was quite right, and the event took upon
itself to justify his foresight and refusal; for scarcely had the
sergeant charged with the message solicited by M. de Bragelonne gained
the seashore, when two shots from long carbines issued from the enemy's
ranks and laid him low. The sergeant fell, dyeing the sand with his
blood; observing which, M. de Bragelonne smiled at monseigneur, who said
to him, 'You see, vicomte, I have saved your life. Report that, some
day, to M. le Comte de la Fere, in order that, learning it from you, he
may thank me.' The young nobleman smiled sadly, and replied to the duke,
'It is true, monseigneur, that but for your kindness I should have been
killed, where the poor sergeant has fallen, and should be at rest.' M.


de Bragelonne made this reply in such a tone that monseigneur answered
him warmly, '_Vrai Dieu!_ Young man, one would say that your mouth
waters for death; but, by the soul of Henry IV., I have promised your
father to bring you back alive; and, please the Lord, I mean to keep my
word.'

Monseigneur de Bragelonne coloredand repliedin a lower voice
'Monseigneurpardon meI beseech you. I have always had a desire to
meet good opportunities; and it is so delightful to distinguish ourselves
before our generalparticularly when that general is M. le Duc de
Beaufort.'

Monseigneur was a little softened by this; and, turning to the officers
who surrounded him, gave different orders. The grenadiers of the two
regiments got near enough to the ditches and intrenchments to launch
their grenades, which had but small effect. In the meanwhile, M.
d'Estrees, who commanded the fleet, having seen the attempt of the
sergeant to approach the vessels, understood that he must act without
orders, and opened fire. Then the Arabs, finding themselves seriously
injured by the balls from the fleet, and beholding the destruction and
the ruin of their walls, uttered the most fearful cries. Their horsemen
descended the mountain at a gallop, bent over their saddles, and rushed
full tilt upon the columns of infantry, which, crossing their pikes,
stopped this mad assault. Repulsed by the firm attitude of the
battalion, the Arabs threw themselves with fury towards the _etat-major_,
which was not on its guard at that moment.

The danger was great; monseigneur drew his sword; his secretaries and
people imitated him; the officers of the suite engaged in combat with the
furious Arabs. It was then M. de Bragelonne was able to satisfy the
inclination he had so clearly shown from the commencement of the action.
He fought near the prince with the valor of a Romanand killed three
Arabs with his small sword. But it was evident that his bravery did not
arise from that sentiment of pride so natural to all who fight. It was
impetuousaffectedeven forced; he sought to glutintoxicate himself
with strife and carnage. He excited himself to such a degree that
monseigneur called to him to stop. He must have heard the voice of
monseigneurbecause we who were close to him heard it. He did not
howeverstopbut continued his course to the intrenchments. As M. de
Bragelonne was a well-disciplined officerthis disobedience to the
orders of monseigneur very much surprised everybodyand M. de Beaufort
redoubled his earnestnesscrying'StopBragelonne! Where are you
going? Stop' repeated monseigneur'I command you!'

We all, imitating the gesture of M. le duc, we all raised our hands. We
expected that the cavalier would turn bridle; but M. de Bragelonne
continued to ride towards the palisades.

'StopBragelonne!' repeated the princein a very loud voice'stop! in
the name of your father!'

At these words M. de Bragelonne turned round; his countenance expressed
a lively grief, but he did not stop; we then concluded that his horse
must have run away with him. When M. le duc saw cause to conclude that
the vicomte was no longer master of his horse, and had watched him
precede the first grenadiers, his highness cried, 'Musketeers, kill his
horse! A hundred pistoles for the man who kills his horse!' But who
could expect to hit the beast without at least wounding his rider? No
one dared the attempt. At length one presented himself; he was a sharpshooter
of the regiment of Picardy, named Luzerne, who took aim at the
animal, fired, and hit him in the quarters, for we saw the blood redden
the hair of the horse. Instead of falling, the cursed jennet was
irritated, and carried him on more furiously than ever. Every Picard
who saw this unfortunate young man rushing on to meet certain death,


shouted in the loudest manner, 'Throw yourself off, monsieur le vicomte!
- off! - off! throw yourself off!' M. de Bragelonne was an officer much
beloved in the army. Already had the vicomte arrived within pistol-shot
of the ramparts, when a discharge was poured upon him that enshrouded him
in fire and smoke. We lost sight of him; the smoke dispersed; he was on
foot, upright; his horse was killed.

The vicomte was summoned to surrender by the Arabsbut he made them a
negative sign with his headand continued to march towards the
palisades. This was a mortal imprudence. Nevertheless the entire army
was pleased that he would not retreatsince ill-chance had led him so
near. He marched a few paces furtherand the two regiments clapped
their hands. It was at this moment the second discharge shook the walls
and the Vicomte de Bragelonne again disappeared in the smoke; but this
time the smoke dispersed in vain; we no longer saw him standing. He was
downwith his head lower than his legsamong the bushesand the Arabs
began to think of leaving their intrenchments to come and cut off his
head or take his body - as is the custom with the infidels. But
Monseigneur le Duc de Beaufort had followed all this with his eyesand
the sad spectacle drew from him many painful sighs. He then cried aloud
seeing the Arabs running like white phantoms among the mastic-trees
'Grenadiers! lancers! will you let them take that noble body?'

Saying these words and waving his sword, he himself rode towards the
enemy. The regiments, rushing in his steps, ran in their turn, uttering
cries as terrible as those of the Arabs were wild.

The combat commenced over the body of M. de Bragelonneand with such
inveteracy was it fought that a hundred and sixty Arabs were left upon
the fieldby the side of at least fifty of our troops. It was a
lieutenant from Normandy who took the body of the vicomte on his
shoulders and carried it back to the lines. The advantage washowever
pursuedthe regiments took the reserve with themand the enemy's
palisades were utterly destroyed. At three o'clock the fire of the Arabs
ceased; the hand-to-hand fight lasted two hours; it was a massacre. At
five o'clock we were victorious at all points; the enemy had abandoned
his positionsand M. le duc ordered the white flag to be planted on the
summit of the little mountain. It was then we had time to think of M. de
Bragelonnewho had eight large wounds in his bodythrough which almost
all his blood had welled away. Stillhoweverhe had breathedwhich
afforded inexpressible joy to monseigneurwho insisted on being present
at the first dressing of the wounds and the consultation of the
surgeons. There were two among them who declared M. de Bragelonne would
live. Monseigneur threw his arms around their necksand promised them a
thousand louis each if they could save him.

The vicomte heard these transports of joy, and whether he was in
despair, or whether he suffered much from his wounds, he expressed by his
countenance a contradiction, which gave rise to reflection, particularly
in one of the secretaries when he had heard what follows. The third
surgeon was the brother of Sylvain de Saint-Cosme, the most learned of
them all. He probed the wounds in his turn, and said nothing. M. de
Bragelonne fixed his eyes steadily upon the skillful surgeon, and seemed
to interrogate his every movement. The latter, upon being questioned by
monseigneur, replied that he saw plainly three mortal wounds out of
eight, but so strong was the constitution of the wounded, so rich was he
in youth, and so merciful was the goodness of God, that perhaps M. de
Bragelonne might recover, particularly if he did not move in the
slightest manner. Frere Sylvain added, turning towards his assistants,
'Above everything, do not allow him to move, even a finger, or you will
kill him;' and we all left the tent in very low spirits. That secretary
I have mentioned, on leaving the tent, thought he perceived a faint and
sad smile glide over the lips of M. de Bragelonne when the duke said to
him, in a cheerful, kind voice, 'We will save you, vicomte, we will save


you yet.'


In the eveningwhen it was believed the wounded youth had taken some
reposeone of the assistants entered his tentbut rushed out again
immediatelyuttering loud cries. We all ran up in disorderM. le duc
with usand the assistant pointed to the body of M. de Bragelonne upon
the groundat the foot of his bedbathed in the remainder of his
blood. It appeared that he had suffered some convulsionsome delirium
and that he had fallen; that the fall had accelerated his endaccording
to the prognosis of Frere Sylvain. We raised the vicomte; he was cold
and dead. He held a lock of fair hair in his right handand that hand
was tightly pressed upon his heart."


Then followed the details of the expeditionand of the victory obtained
over the Arabs. D'Artagnan stopped at the account of the death of poor
Raoul. "Oh!" murmured heunhappy boy! a suicide!And turning his
eyes towards the chamber of the chateauin which Athos slept in eternal
sleepThey kept their words with each other,said hein a low voice;
now I believe them to be happy; they must be reunited.And he returned
through the parterre with slow and melancholy steps. All the village -
all the neighborhood - were filled with grieving neighbors relating to
each other the double catastropheand making preparations for the
funeral.


Chapter LX:
The Last Canto of the Poem.


On the morrowall the _noblesse_ of the provincesof the environsand
wherever messengers had carried the newsmight have been seen arriving
in detachments. D'Artagnan had shut himself upwithout being willing to
speak to anybody. Two such heavy deaths falling upon the captainso
closely after the death of Porthosfor a long time oppressed that spirit
which had hitherto been so indefatigable and invulnerable. Except
Grimaudwho entered his chamber oncethe musketeer saw neither servants
nor guests. He supposedfrom the noises in the houseand the continual
coming and goingthat preparations were being made for the funeral of
the comte. He wrote to the king to ask for an extension of his leave of
absence. Grimaudas we have saidhad entered D'Artagnan's apartment
had seated himself upon a joint-stool near the doorlike a man who
meditates profoundly; thenrisinghe made a sign to D'Artagnan to
follow him. The latter obeyed in silence. Grimaud descended to the
comte's bed-chambershowed the captain with his finger the place of the
empty bedand raised his eyes eloquently towards Heaven.


Yes,replied D'Artagnanyes, good Grimaud - now with the son he loved
so much!


Grimaud left the chamberand led the way to the hallwhereaccording
to the custom of the provincethe body was laid outpreviously to being
put away forever. D'Artagnan was struck at seeing two open coffins in
the hall. In reply to the mute invitation of Grimaudhe approachedand
saw in one of them Athosstill handsome in deathandin the other
Raoul with his eyes closedhis cheeks pearly as those of the Palls of
Virgilwith a smile on his violet lips. He shuddered at seeing the
father and sonthose two departed soulsrepresented on earth by two
silentmelancholy bodiesincapable of touching each otherhowever
close they might be.


Raoul here!murmured he. "Oh! Grimaudwhy did you not tell me this?"


Grimaud shook his headand made no reply; but taking D'Artagnan by the
handhe led him to the coffinand showed himunder the thin winding-
sheetthe black wounds by which life had escaped. The captain turned



away his eyesandjudging it was useless to question Grimaudwho would
not answerhe recollected that M. de Beaufort's secretary had written
more than heD'Artagnanhad had the courage to read. Taking up the
recital of the affair which had cost Raoul his lifehe found these
wordswhich ended the concluding paragraph of the letter:

Monseigneur le duc has ordered that the body of monsieur le vicomte
should be embalmed, after the manner practiced by the Arabs when they
wish their dead to be carried to their native land; and monsieur le duc
has appointed relays, so that the same confidential servant who brought
up the young man might take back his remains to M. le Comte de la Fere.

And so,thought D'ArtagnanI shall follow thy funeral, my dear boy I,
already old - I, who am of no value on earth - and I shall scatter
dust upon that brow I kissed but two months since. God has willed it to
be so. Thou hast willed it to be so, thyself. I have no longer the
right even to weep. Thou hast chosen death; it seemed to thee a
preferable gift to life.

At length arrived the moment when the chill remains of these two
gentlemen were to be given back to mother earth. There was such an
affluence of military and other people that up to the place of the
sepulturewhich was a little chapel on the plainthe road from the city
was filled with horsemen and pedestrians in mourning. Athos had chosen
for his resting-place the little inclosure of a chapel erected by himself
near the boundary of his estates. He had had the stonescut in 1550
brought from an old Gothic manor-house in Berrywhich had sheltered his
early youth. The chapelthus rebuilttransportedwas pleasing to the
eye beneath its leafy curtains of poplars and sycamores. It was
ministered in every Sundayby the cure of the neighboring bourgto whom
Athos paid an allowance of two hundred francs for this service; and all
the vassals of his domainwith their familiescame thither to hear
masswithout having any occasion to go to the city.

Behind the chapel extendedsurrounded by two high hedges of hazelelder
and white thornand a deep ditchthe little inclosure - uncultivated
though gay in its sterility; because the mosses there grew thickwild
heliotrope and ravenelles there mingled perfumeswhile from beneath an
ancient chestnut issued a crystal springa prisoner in its marble
cisternand on the thyme all around alighted thousands of bees from the
neighboring plantswhilst chaffinches and redthroats sang cheerfully
among the flower-spangled hedges. It was to this place the somber
coffins were carriedattended by a silent and respectful crowd. The
office of the dead being celebratedthe last adieux paid to the noble
departedthe assembly dispersedtalkingalong the roadsof the
virtues and mild death of the fatherof the hopes the son had givenand
of his melancholy end upon the arid coast of Africa.

Little by littleall noises were extinguishedlike the lamps
illuminating the humble nave. The minister bowed for the last time to
the altar and the still fresh graves; thenfollowed by his assistanthe
slowly took the road back to the presbytery. D'Artagnanleft alone
perceived that night was coming on. He had forgotten the hourthinking
only of the dead. He arose from the oaken bench on which he was seated
in the chapeland wishedas the priest had doneto go and bid a last
adieu to the double grave which contained his two lost friends.

A woman was prayingkneeling on the moist earth. D'Artagnan stopped at
the door of the chapelto avoid disturbing herand also to endeavor to
find out who was the pious friend who performed this sacred duty with so
much zeal and perseverance. The unknown had hidden her face in her
handswhich were white as alabaster. From the noble simplicity of her
costumeshe must be a woman of distinction. Outside the inclosure were
several horses mounted by servants; a travelling carriage was in waiting


for this lady. D'Artagnan in vain sought to make out what caused her
delay. She continued prayingand frequently pressed her handkerchief to
her faceby which D'Artagnan perceived she was weeping. He beheld her
strike her breast with the compunction of a Christian woman. He heard
her several times exclaim as from a wounded heart: "Pardon! pardon!" And
as she appeared to abandon herself entirely to her griefas she threw
herself downalmost faintingexhausted by complaints and prayers
D'Artagnantouched by this love for his so much regretted friendsmade
a few steps towards the gravein order to interrupt the melancholy
colloquy of the penitent with the dead. But as soon as his step sounded
on the gravelthe unknown raised her headrevealing to D'Artagnan a
face aflood with tearsa well-known face. It was Mademoiselle de la
Valliere! "Monsieur d'Artagnan!" murmured she.

You!replied the captainin a stern voiceyou here! - oh! madame, I
should better have liked to see you decked with flowers in the mansion of
the Comte de la Fere. You would have wept less - and they too - and I!

Monsieur!said shesobbing.

For it was you,added this pitiless friend of the dead- "it was you
who sped these two men to the grave."

Oh! spare me!

God forbid, madame, that I should offend a woman, or that I should make
her weep in vain; but I must say that the place of the murderer is not
upon the grave of her victims.She wished to reply.

What I now tell you,added hecoldlyI have already told the king.

She clasped her hands. "I know said she, I have caused the death of
the Vicomte de Bragelonne."

Ah! you know it?

The news arrived at court yesterday. I have traveled during the night
forty leagues to come and ask pardon of the comte, whom I supposed to be
still living, and to pray God, on the tomb of Raoul, that he would send
me all the misfortunes I have merited, except a single one. Now,
monsieur, I know that the death of the son has killed the father; I have
two crimes to reproach myself with; I have two punishments to expect from
Heaven.

I will repeat to you, mademoiselle,said D'Artagnanwhat M. de
Bragelonne said of you, at Antibes, when he already meditated death: 'If
pride and coquetry have misled her, I pardon her while despising her. If
love has produced her error, I pardon her, but I swear that no one could
have loved her as I have done.'

You know,interrupted Louisethat of my love I was about to sacrifice
myself; you know whether I suffered when you met me lost, dying,
abandoned. Well! never have I suffered so much as now; because then I
hoped, desired, - now I have no longer anything to wish for; because this
death drags all my joy into the tomb; because I can no longer dare to
love without remorse, and I feel that he whom I love - oh! it is but
just! - will repay me with the tortures I have made others undergo.

D'Artagnan made no reply; he was too well convinced that she was not
mistaken.

Well, then,added shedear Monsieur d'Artagnan, do not overwhelm me
to-day, I again implore you! I am like the branch torn from the trunk,
I no longer hold to anything in this world - a current drags me on, I


know not whither. I love madly, even to the point of coming to tell it,
wretch that I am, over the ashes of the dead, and I do not blush for it I
have no remorse on this account. Such love is a religion. Only, as
hereafter you will see me alone, forgotten, disdained; as you will see me
punished, as I am destined to be punished, spare me in my ephemeral
happiness, leave it to me for a few days, for a few minutes. Now, even
at the moment I am speaking to you, perhaps it no longer exists. My God!
this double murder is perhaps already expiated!

While she was speaking thusthe sound of voices and of horses drew the
attention of the captain. M. de Saint-Aignan came to seek La Valliere.
The king,he saidis a prey to jealousy and uneasiness.Saint-
Aignan did not perceive D'Artagnanhalf concealed by the trunk of a
chestnut-tree which shaded the double grave. Louise thanked Saint-
Aignanand dismissed him with a gesture. He rejoined the party outside
the inclosure.

You see, madame,said the captain bitterly to the young woman- "you
see your happiness still lasts."

The young woman raised her head with a solemn air. "A day will come
said she, when you will repent of having so misjudged me. On that day
it is I who will pray God to forgive you for having been unjust towards
me. BesidesI shall suffer so much that you yourself will be the first
to pity my sufferings. Do not reproach me with my fleeting happiness
Monsieur d'Artagnan; it costs me dearand I have not paid all my debt."
Saying these wordsshe again knelt downsoftly and affectionately.

Pardon me the last time, my affianced Raoul!said she. "I have broken
our chain; we are both destined to die of grief. It is thou who
departest first; fear nothingI shall follow thee. Seeonlythat I
have not been baseand that I have come to bid thee this last adieu.
The Lord is my witnessRaoulthat if with my life I could have redeemed
thineI would have given that life without hesitation. I could not give
my love. Once moreforgive medearestkindest friend."

She strewed a few sweet flowers on the freshly sodded earth; thenwiping
the tears from her eyesthe heavily stricken lady bowed to D'Artagnan
and disappeared.

The captain watched the departure of the horseshorsemenand carriage
then crossing his arms upon his swelling chestWhen will it be my turn
to depart?said hein an agitated voice. "What is there left for man
after youthlovegloryfriendshipstrengthand wealth have
disappeared? That rockunder which sleeps Porthoswho possessed all I
have named; this mossunder which repose Athos and Raoulwho possessed
much more!"

He hesitated for a momentwith a dull eye; thendrawing himself up
Forward! still forward!said he. "When it is timeGod will tell me
as he foretold the others."

He touched the earthmoistened with the evening dewwith the ends of
his fingerssigned himself as if he had been at the _benitier_ in
churchand retook alone - ever alone - the road to Paris.

Epilogue.

Four years after the scene we have just describedtwo horsemenwell
mountedtraversed Blois early in the morningfor the purpose of
arranging a hawking party the king had arranged to make in that uneven
plain the Loire divides in twowhich borders on the one side Meungon
the other Amboise. These were the keeper of the king's harriers and the


master of the falconspersonages greatly respected in the time of Louis
XIII.but rather neglected by his successor. The horsemenhaving
reconnoitered the groundwere returningtheir observations madewhen
they perceived certain little groups of soldiershere and therewhom
the sergeants were placing at distances at the openings of the
inclosures. These were the king's musketeers. Behind them cameupon a
splendid horsethe captainknown by his richly embroidered uniform.
His hair was grayhis beard turning so. He seemed a little bent
although sitting and handling his horse gracefully. He was looking about
him watchfully.

M. d'Artagnan does not get any older,said the keeper of the harriers
to his colleague the falconer; "with ten years more to carry than either
of ushe has the seat of a young man on horseback."

That is true,replied the falconer. "I don't see any change in him for
the last twenty years."

But this officer was mistaken; D'Artagnan in the last four years had
lived a dozen. Age had printed its pitiless claws at each angle of his
eyes; his brow was bald; his handsformerly brown and nervouswere
getting whiteas if the blood had half forgotten them.

D'Artagnan accosted the officers with the shade of affability which
distinguishes superiorsand received in turn for his courtesy two most
respectful bows.

Ah! what a lucky chance to see you here, Monsieur d'Artagnan!cried the
falconer.

It is rather I who should say that, messieurs,replied the captain
for nowadays, the king makes more frequent use of his musketeers than of
his falcons.

Ah! it is not as it was in the good old times,sighed the falconer.
Do you remember, Monsieur d'Artagnan, when the late king flew the pie in
the vineyards beyond Beaugence? Ah! _dame!_ you were not the captain of
the musketeers at that time, Monsieur d'Artagnan.

Transcriber's note: "Pie" in this case refers to magpiesthe prey for
the falcons. - JB

And you were nothing but under-corporal of the tiercelets,replied
D'Artagnanlaughing. "Never mind thatit was a good timeseeing that
it is always a good time when we are young. Good daymonsieur the
keeper of the harriers."

You do me honor, monsieur le comte,said the latter. D'Artagnan made
no reply. The title of comte had hardly struck him; D'Artagnan had been
a comte four years.

Are you not very much fatigued with the long journey you have taken,
monsieur le capitaine?continued the falconer. "It must be full two
hundred leagues from hence to Pignerol."

Two hundred and sixty to go, and as many to return,said D'Artagnan
quietly.

And,said the falconeris _he_ well?

Who?asked D'Artagnan.

Why, poor M. Fouquet,continued the falconerin a low voice. The
keeper of the harriers had prudently withdrawn.


No,replied D'Artagnanthe poor man frets terribly; he cannot
comprehend how imprisonment can be a favor; he says that parliament
absolved him by banishing him, and banishment is, or should be, liberty.
He cannot imagine that they had sworn his death, and that to save his
life from the claws of parliament was to be under too much obligation to
Heaven.

Ah! yes; the poor man had a close chance of the scaffold,replied the
falconer; "it is said that M. Colbert had given orders to the governor of
the Bastileand that the execution was ordered."

Enough!said D'Artagnanpensivelyand with a view of cutting short
the conversation.

Yes,said the keeper of the harriersdrawing towards themM. Fouquet
is now at Pignerol; he has richly deserved it. He had the good fortune
to be conducted there by you; he robbed the king sufficiently.

D'Artagnan launched at the master of the dogs one of his crossest looks
and said to himMonsieur, if any one told me you had eaten your dogs'
meat, not only would I refuse to believe it; but still more, if you were
condemned to the lash or to jail for it, I should pity you and would not
allow people to speak ill of you. And yet, monsieur, honest man as you
may be, I assure you that you are not more so than poor M. Fouquet was.

After having undergone this sharp rebukethe keeper of the harriers hung
his headand allowed the falconer to get two steps in advance of him
nearer to D'Artagnan.

He is content,said the falconerin a low voiceto the musketeer; "we
all know that harriers are in fashion nowadays; if he were a falconer he
would not talk in that way."

D'Artagnan smiled in a melancholy manner at seeing this great political
question resolved by the discontent of such humble interest. He for a
moment ran over in his mind the glorious existence of the surintendant
the crumbling of his fortunesand the melancholy death that awaited him;
and to concludeDid M. Fouquet love falconry?said he.

Oh, passionately, monsieur!repeated the falconerwith an accent of
bitter regret and a sigh that was the funeral oration of Fouquet.

D'Artagnan allowed the ill-humor of the one and the regret of the other
to passand continued to advance. They could already catch glimpses of
the huntsmen at the issue of the woodthe feathers of the outriders
passing like shooting stars across the clearingsand the white horses
skirting the bosky thickets looking like illuminated apparitions.

But,resumed D'Artagnanwill the sport last long? Pray, give us a
good swift bird, for I am very tired. Is it a heron or a swan?

Both, Monsieur d'Artagnan,said the falconer; "but you need not be
alarmed; the king is not much of a sportsman; he does not take the field
on his own accounthe only wishes to amuse the ladies."

The words "to amuse the ladies" were so strongly accented they set
D'Artagnan thinking.

Ah!said helooking keenly at the falconer.

The keeper of the harriers smiledno doubt with a view of making it up
with the musketeer.


Oh! you may safely laugh,said D'Artagnan; "I know nothing of current
news; I only arrived yesterdayafter a month's absence. I left the
court mourning the death of the queen-mother. The king was not willing
to take any amusement after receiving the last sigh of Anne of Austria;
but everything comes to an end in this world. Well! then he is no longer
sad? So much the better."

Transcriber's note: Anne of Austria did not die until 1666and Dumas
sets the current year as 1665. - JB

And everything begins as well as ends,said the keeper with a coarse
laugh.

Ah!said D'Artagnana second time- he burned to knowbut dignity
would not allow him to interrogate people below him- "there is
something beginningthenit seems?"

The keeper gave him a significant wink; but D'Artagnan was unwilling to
learn anything from this man.

Shall we see the king early?asked he of the falconer.

At seven o'clock, monsieur, I shall fly the birds.

Who comes with the king? How is Madame? How is the queen?

Better, monsieur.

Has she been ill, then?

Monsieur, since the last chagrin she suffered, her majesty has been
unwell.

What chagrin? You need not fancy your news is old. I have but just
returned.

It appears that the queen, a little neglected since the death of her
mother-in-law, complained to the king, who answered her, - 'Do I not
sleep at home every night, madame? What more do you expect?'

Ah!said D'Artagnan- "poor woman! She must heartily hate
Mademoiselle de la Valliere."

Oh, no! not Mademoiselle de la Valliere,replied the falconer.

Who then - The blast of a hunting-horn interrupted this
conversation. It summoned the dogs and the hawks. The falconer and his
companions set off immediatelyleaving D'Artagnan alone in the midst of
the suspended sentence. The king appeared at a distancesurrounded by
ladies and horsemen. All the troop advanced in beautiful orderat a
foot's pacethe horns of various sorts animating the dogs and horses.
There was an animation in the scenea mirage of lightof which nothing
now can give an ideaunless it be the fictitious splendor of a theatric
spectacle. D'Artagnanwith an eye a littlejust a littledimmed by
agedistinguished behind the group three carriages. The first was
intended for the queen; it was empty. D'Artagnanwho did not see
Mademoiselle de la Valliere by the king's sideon looking about for her
saw her in the second carriage. She was alone with two of her womenwho
seemed as dull as their mistress. On the left hand of the kingupon a
high-spirited horserestrained by a bold and skillful handshone a lady
of most dazzling beauty. The king smiled upon herand she smiled upon
the king. Loud laughter followed every word she uttered.


I must know that woman,thought the musketeer; "who can she be?" And
he stooped towards his friendthe falconerto whom he addressed the
question he had put to himself.

The falconer was about to replywhen the kingperceiving D'Artagnan
Ah, comte!said heyou are amongst us once more then! Why have I not
seen you?

Sire,replied the captainbecause your majesty was asleep when I
arrived, and not awake when I resumed my duties this morning.

Still the same,said Louisin a loud voicedenoting satisfaction.
Take some rest, comte; I command you to do so. You will dine with me today.


A murmur of admiration surrounded D'Artagnan like a caress. Every one
was eager to salute him. Dining with the king was an honor his majesty
was not so prodigal of as Henry IV. had been. The king passed a few
steps in advanceand D'Artagnan found himself in the midst of a fresh
groupamong whom shone Colbert.

Good-day, Monsieur d'Artagnan,said the ministerwith marked
affabilityhave you had a pleasant journey?

Yes, monsieur,said D'Artagnanbowing to the neck of his horse.

I heard the king invite you to his table for this evening,continued
the minister; "you will meet an old friend there."

An old friend of mine?asked D'Artagnanplunging painfully into the
dark waves of the pastwhich had swallowed up for him so many
friendships and so many hatreds.

M. le Duc d'Almeda, who is arrived this morning from Spain.

The Duc d'Almeda?said D'Artagnanreflecting in vain.

Here!cried an old manwhite as snowsitting bent in his carriage
which he caused to be thrown open to make room for the musketeer.

_Aramis!_cried D'Artagnanstruck with profound amazement. And he
feltinert as it wasthe thin arm of the old nobleman hanging round his
neck.

Colbertafter having observed them in silence for a few momentsurged
his horse forwardand left the two old friends together.

And so,said the musketeertaking Aramis's armyou, the exile, the
rebel, are again in France?

Ah! and I shall dine with you at the king's table,said Aramis
smiling. "Yeswill you not ask yourself what is the use of fidelity in
this world? Stop! let us allow poor La Valliere's carriage to pass.
Lookhow uneasy she is! How her eyesdim with tearsfollow the king
who is riding on horseback yonder!"

With whom?

With Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente, now Madame de Montespan,replied
Aramis.

She is jealous. Is she then deserted?

Not quite yet, but it will not be long before she _is_.


Transcriber's note: Madame de Montespan would oust Louise from the king's
affections by 1667. - JB

They chatted togetherwhile following the sportand Aramis's coachman
drove them so cleverly that they arrived at the instant when the falcon
attacking the birdbeat him downand fell upon him. The king alighted;
Madame de Montespan followed his example. They were in front of an
isolated chapelconcealed by huge treesalready despoiled of their
leaves by the first cutting winds of autumn. Behind this chapel was an
inclosureclosed by a latticed gate. The falcon had beaten down his
prey in the inclosure belonging to this little chapeland the king was
desirous of going in to take the first featheraccording to custom. The
_cortege_ formed a circle round the building and the hedgestoo small to
receive so many. D'Artagnan held back Aramis by the armas he was
aboutlike the restto alight from his carriageand in a hoarse
broken voiceDo you know, Aramis,said hewhither chance has
conducted us?

No,replied the duke.

Here repose men that we knew well,said D'Artagnangreatly agitated.

Aramiswithout divining anythingand with a trembling steppenetrated
into the chapel by a little door which D'Artagnan opened for him. "Where
are they buried?" said he.

There, in the inclosure. There is a cross, you see, beneath yon little
cypress. The tree of grief is planted over their tomb; don't go to it;
the king is going that way; the heron has fallen just there.

Aramis stoppedand concealed himself in the shade. They then saw
without being seenthe pale face of La Vallierewhoneglected in her
carriageat first looked onwith a melancholy heartfrom the doorand
thencarried away by jealousyadvanced into the chapelwhenceleaning
against a pillarshe contemplated the king smiling and making signs to
Madame de Montespan to approachas there was nothing to be afraid of.
Madame de Montespan complied; she took the hand the king held out to her
and heplucking out the first feather from the heronwhich the falconer
had strangledplaced it in his beautiful companion's hat. Shesmiling
in her turnkissed the hand tenderly which made her this present. The
king grew scarlet with vanity and pleasure; he looked at Madame de
Montespan with all the fire of new love.

What will you give me in exchange?said he.

She broke off a little branch of cypress and offered it to the kingwho
looked intoxicated with hope.

Humph!said Aramis to D'Artagnan; "the present is but a sad onefor
that cypress shades a tomb."

Yes, and the tomb is that of Raoul de Bragelonne,said D'Artagnan
aloud; "of Raoulwho sleeps under that cross with his father."

A groan resounded - they saw a woman fall fainting to the ground.
Mademoiselle de la Valliere had seen allheard all.

Poor woman!muttered D'Artagnanas he helped the attendants to carry
back to her carriage the lonely lady whose lot henceforth in life was
suffering.

That evening D'Artagnan was seated at the king's tablenear M. Colbert
and M. le Duc d'Almeda. The king was very gay. He paid a thousand


little attentions to the queena thousand kindnesses to Madameseated
at his left handand very sad. It might have been supposed that time of
calm when the king was wont to watch his mother's eyes for the approval
or disapproval of what he had just done.

Of mistresses there was no question at this dinner. The king addressed
Aramis two or three timescalling him M. l'ambassadeurwhich increased
the surprise already felt by D'Artagnan at seeing his friend the rebel so
marvelously well received at court.

The kingon rising from tablegave his hand to the queenand made a
sign to Colbertwhose eye was on his master's face. Colbert took
D'Artagnan and Aramis on one side. The king began to chat with his
sisterwhilst Monsieurvery uneasyentertained the queen with a
preoccupied airwithout ceasing to watch his wife and brother from the
corner of his eye. The conversation between AramisD'Artagnanand
Colbert turned upon indifferent subjects. They spoke of preceding
ministers; Colbert related the successful tricks of Mazarinand desired
those of Richelieu to be related to him. D'Artagnan could not overcome
his surprise at finding this manwith his heavy eyebrows and low
foreheaddisplay so much sound knowledge and cheerful spirits. Aramis
was astonished at that lightness of character which permitted this
serious man to retard with advantage the moment for more important
conversationto which nobody made any allusionalthough all three
interlocutors felt its imminence. It was very plainfrom the
embarrassed appearance of Monsieurhow much the conversation of the king
and Madame annoyed him. Madame's eyes were almost red: was she going to
complain? Was she going to expose a little scandal in open court? The
king took her on one sideand in a tone so tender that it must have
reminded the princess of the time when she was loved for herself:

Sister,said hewhy do I see tears in those lovely eyes?

Why - sire - said she.

Monsieur is jealous, is he not, sister?

She looked towards Monsieuran infallible sign that they were talking
about him.

Yes,said she.

Listen to me,said the king; "if your friends compromise youit is not
Monsieur's fault."

He spoke these words with so much kindness that Madameencouraged
having borne so many solitary griefs so longwas nearly bursting into

tearsso full was her heart.

Come, come, dear little sister,said the kingtell me your griefs; on
the word of a brother, I pity them; on the word of a king, I will put an
end to them.

She raised her glorious eyes andin a melancholy tone:

It is not my friends who compromise me,said she; "they are either
absent or concealed; they have been brought into disgrace with your
majesty; theyso devotedso goodso loyal!"

You say this on account of De Guiche, whom I have exiled, at Monsieur's
desire?

And who, since that unjust exile, has endeavored to get himself killed
once every day.


Unjust, say you, sister?


So unjust, that if I had not had the respect mixed with friendship that
I have always entertained for your majesty -
Well!


Well! I would have asked my brother Charles, upon whom I can always -
The king started. "Whatthen?"

I would have asked him to have had it represented to you that Monsieur
and his favorite M. le Chevalier de Lorraine ought not with impunity to
constitute themselves the executioners of my honor and my happiness.

The Chevalier de Lorraine,said the king; "that dismal fellow?"

Is my mortal enemy. Whilst that man lives in my household, where
Monsieur retains him and delegates his power to him, I shall be the most
miserable woman in the kingdom.

So,said the kingslowlyyou call your brother of England a better
friend than I am?

Actions speak for themselves, sire.
And you would prefer going to ask assistance there -


To my own country!said she with pride; "yessire."


You are the grandchild of Henry IV. as well as myself, lady. Cousin and
brother-in-law, does not that amount pretty well to the title of brothergermain?


Then,said Henriettaact!

Let us form an alliance.
Begin.


I have, you say, unjustly exiled De Guiche.
Oh! yes,said sheblushing.


De Guiche shall return.
Transcriber's note: De Guiche would not return to court until 1671. - JB


So far, well.


And now you say that I do wrong in having in your household the
Chevalier de Lorraine, who gives Monsieur ill advice respecting you?
Remember well what I tell you, sire; the Chevalier de Lorraine some day

-Observe, if ever I come to a dreadful end, I beforehand accuse the
Chevalier de Lorraine; he has a spirit that is capable of any crime!
The Chevalier de Lorraine shall no longer annoy you - I promise you
that.

Transcriber's note: Madame did die of poison in 1670shortly after
returning from the mission described later. The Chevalier de Lorraine
had actually been ordered out of France in 1662. - JB


Then that will be a true preliminary of alliance, sire, - I sign; but
since you have done your part, tell me what shall be mine.

Instead of embroiling me with your brother Charles, you must make him a
more intimate friend than ever.

That is very easy.

Oh! not quite so easy as you may suppose, for in ordinary friendship
people embrace or exercise hospitality, and that only costs a kiss or a
return, profitable expenses; but in political friendship -

Ah! it's a political friendship, is it?

Yes, my sister; and then, instead of embraces and feasts, it is soldiers

-it is soldiers all alive and well equipped - that we must serve up to
our friends; vessels we must offer, all armed with cannons and stored
with provisions. It hence results that we have not always coffers in a
fit condition for such friendships.
Ah! you are quite right,said Madame; "the coffers of the king of
England have been sonorous for some time."

But you, my sister, who have so much influence over your brother, you
can secure more than an ambassador could ever get the promise of.

To effect that I must go to London, my dear brother.

I have thought so,replied the kingeagerly; "and I have said to
myself that such a voyage would do your health and spirits good."

Only,interrupted Madameit is possible I should fail. The king of
England has dangerous counselors.

Counselors, do you say?

Precisely. If, by chance, your majesty had any intention - I am only
supposing so - of asking Charles II. his alliance in a war -

A war?

Yes; well! then the king's counselors, who are in number seven -
Mademoiselle Stewart, Mademoiselle Wells, Mademoiselle Gwyn, Miss Orchay,
Mademoiselle Zunga, Miss Davies, and the proud Countess of Castlemaine will
represent to the king that war costs a great deal of money; that it
is better to give balls and suppers at Hampton Court than to equip ships
of the line at Portsmouth and Greenwich.

And then your negotiations will fail?

Oh! those ladies cause all negotiations to fall through which they don't
make themselves.

Do you know the idea that has struck me, sister?

No; inform me what it is.

It is that, searching well around you, you might perhaps find a female
counselor to take with you to your brother, whose eloquence might
paralyze the ill-will of the seven others.

That is really an idea, sire, and I will search.


You will find what you want.

I hope so.

A pretty ambassadress is necessary; an agreeable face is better than an
ugly one, is it not?

Most assuredly.

An animated, lively, audacious character.

Certainly.

Nobility; that is, enough to enable her to approach the king without
awkwardness - not too lofty, so as not to trouble herself about the
dignity of her race.

Very true.

And who knows a little English.

_Mon Dieu!_ why, some one,cried Madamelike Mademoiselle de
Keroualle, for instance!

Oh! why, yes!said Louis XIV.; "you have hit the mark- it is you who
have foundmy sister."

I will take her; she will have no cause to complain, I suppose.

Oh! no, I will name her _seductrice plenipotentiaire_ at once, and will
add a dowry to the title.

That is well.

I fancy you already on your road, my dear little sister, consoled for
all your griefs.

I will go, on two conditions. The first is, that I shall know what I am
negotiating about.

That is it. The Dutch, you know, insult me daily in their gazettes, and
by their republican attitude. I do not like republics.

That may easily be imagined, sire.

I see with pain that these kings of the sea - they call themselves so keep
trade from France in the Indies, and that their vessels will soon
occupy all the ports of Europe. Such a power is too near me, sister.

They are your allies, nevertheless.

That is why they were wrong in having the medal you have heard of
struck; a medal which represents Holland stopping the sun, as Joshua did,
with this legend: _The sun had stopped before me_. There is not much
fraternity in that, _is_ there?

I thought you had forgotten that miserable episode?

I never forget anything, sister. And if my true friends, such as your
brother Charles, are willing to second me - The princess remained
pensively silent.

Listen to me; there is the empire of the seas to be shared,said Louis

XIV. "For this partitionwhich England submits tocould I not

represent the second party as well as the Dutch?"

We have Mademoiselle de Keroualle to treat that question,replied
Madame.

Your second condition for going, if you please, sister?

The consent of Monsieur, my husband.

You shall have it.

Then consider me already gone, brother.

On hearing these wordsLouis XIV. turned round towards the corner of the
room in which D'ArtagnanColbertand Aramis stoodand made an
affirmative sign to his minister. Colbert then broke in on the
conversation suddenlyand said to Aramis:

Monsieur l'ambassadeur, shall we talk about business?

D'Artagnan immediately withdrewfrom politeness. He directed his steps
towards the fireplacewithin hearing of what the king was about to say
to Monsieurwhoevidently uneasyhad gone to him. The face of the
king was animated. Upon his brow was stamped a strength of willthe
expression of which already met no further contradiction in Franceand
was soon to meet no more in Europe.

Monsieur,said the king to his brotherI am not pleased with M. le
Chevalier de Lorraine. You, who do him the honor to protect him, must
advise him to travel for a few months.

These words fell with the crush of an avalanche upon Monsieurwho adored
his favoriteand concentrated all his affections in him.

In what has the chevalier been inconsiderate enough to displease your
majesty?cried hedarting a furious look at Madame.

I will tell you that when he is gone,said the kingsuavely. "And
also when Madamehereshall have crossed over into England."

Madame! in England!murmured Monsieurin amazement.

In a week, brother,continued the kingwhilst we will go whither I
will shortly tell you.And the king turned on his heelsmiling in his
brother's faceto sweetenas it werethe bitter draught he had given
him.

During this time Colbert was talking with the Duc d'Almeda.

Monsieur,said Colbert to Aramisthis is the moment for us to come to
an understanding. I have made your peace with the king, and I owed that
clearly to a man of so much merit; but as you have often expressed
friendship for me, an opportunity presents itself for giving me a proof
of it. You are, besides, more a Frenchman than a Spaniard. Shall we
secure - answer me frankly - the neutrality of Spain, if we undertake
anything against the United Provinces?

Monsieur,replied Aramisthe interest of Spain is clear. To embroil
Europe with the Provinces would doubtless be our policy, but the king of
France is an ally of the United Provinces. You are not ignorant,
besides, that it would infer a maritime war, and that France is in no
state to undertake this with advantage.

Colbertturning round at this momentsaw D'Artagnan who was seeking


some interlocutorduring this "aside" of the king and Monsieur. He
called himat the same time saying in a low voice to AramisWe may
talk openly with D'Artagnan, I suppose?

Oh! certainly,replied the ambassador.

We were saying, M. d'Almeda and I,said Colbertthat a conflict with
the United Provinces would mean a maritime war.

That's evident enough,replied the musketeer.

And what do you think of it, Monsieur d'Artagnan?

I think that to carry on such a war successfully, you must have very
large land forces.

What did you say?said Colbertthinking he had ill understood him.

Why such a large land army?said Aramis.

Because the king will be beaten by sea if he has not the English with
him, and that when beaten by sea, he will soon be invaded, either by the
Dutch in his ports, or by the Spaniards by land.

And Spain neutral?asked Aramis.

Neutral as long as the king shall prove stronger,rejoined D'Artagnan.

Colbert admired that sagacity which never touched a question without
enlightening it thoroughly. Aramis smiledas he had long known that in
diplomacy D'Artagnan acknowledged no superior. Colbertwholike all
proud mendwelt upon his fantasy with a certainty of successresumed
the subjectWho told you, M. d'Artagnan, that the king had no navy?

Oh! I take no heed of these details,replied the captain. "I am but
an indifferent sailor. Like all nervous peopleI hate the sea; and yet
I have an idea thatwith shipsFrance being a seaport with two hundred
exitswe might have sailors."

Colbert drew from his pocket a little oblong book divided into two
columns. On the first were the names of vesselson the other the
figures recapitulating the number of cannon and men requisite to equip
these ships. "I have had the same idea as you said he to D'Artagnan,
and I have had an account drawn up of the vessels we have altogether thirty-
five ships."

Thirty-five ships! impossible!cried D'Artagnan.

Something like two thousand pieces of cannon,said Colbert. "That is
what the king possesses at this moment. Of five and thirty vessels we
can make three squadronsbut I must have five."

Five!cried Aramis.

They will be afloat before the end of the year, gentlemen; the king will
have fifty ship of the line. We may venture on a contest with them, may
we not?

To build vessels,said D'Artagnanis difficult, but possible. As to
arming them, how is that to be done? In France there are neither
foundries nor military docks.

Bah!replied Colbertin a bantering toneI have planned all that
this year and a half past, did you not know it? Do you know M.


d'Imfreville?

D'Imfreville?replied D'Artagnan; "no."

He is a man I have discovered; he has a specialty; he is a man of genius

-he knows how to set men to work. It is he who has cast cannon and cut
the woods of Bourgogne. And then, monsieur l'ambassadeur, you may not
believe what I am going to tell you, but I have a still further idea.
Oh, monsieur!said AramiscivillyI always believe you.

Calculating upon the character of the Dutch, our allies, I said to
myself, 'They are merchants, they are friendly with the king; they will
be happy to sell to the king what they fabricate for themselves; then the
more we buy' - Ah! I must add this: I have Forant - do you know Forant,
D'Artagnan?

Colbertin his warmthforgot himself; he called the captain simply
_D'Artagnan_as the king did. But the captain only smiled at it.

No,replied heI do not know him.

That is another man I have discovered, with a genius for buying. This
Forant has purchased for me 350,000 pounds of iron in balls, 200,000
pounds of powder, twelve cargoes of Northern timber, matches, grenades,
pitch, tar - I know not what! with a saving of seven per cent upon what
all those articles would cost me fabricated in France.

That is a capital and quaint idea,replied D'Artagnanto have Dutch
cannon-balls cast which will return to the Dutch.

Is it not, with loss, too?And Colbert laughed aloud. He was
delighted with his own joke.

Still further,added hethese same Dutch are building for the king,
at this moment, six vessels after the model of the best of their name.
Destouches - Ah! perhaps you don't know Destouches?

No, monsieur.

He is a man who has a sure glance to discern, when a ship is launched,
what are the defects and qualities of that ship - that is valuable,
observe! Nature is truly whimsical. Well, this Destouches appeared to
me to be a man likely to prove useful in marine affairs, and he is
superintending the construction of six vessels of seventy-eight guns,
which the Provinces are building for his majesty. It results from this,
my dear Monsieur d'Artagnan, that the king, if he wished to quarrel with
the Provinces, would have a very pretty fleet. Now, you know better than
anybody else if the land army is efficient.

D'Artagnan and Aramis looked at each otherwondering at the mysterious
labors this man had undertaken in so short a time. Colbert understood
themand was touched by this best of flatteries.

If we, in France, were ignorant of what was going on,said D'Artagnan
out of France still less must be known.

That is why I told monsieur l'ambassadeur,said Colbertthat, Spain
promising its neutrality, England helping us -

If England assists you,said AramisI promise the neutrality of
Spain.

I take you at your word,Colbert hastened to reply with his blunt


_bonhomie_. "And_a propos_ of Spainyou have not the 'Golden Fleece'
Monsieur d'Almeda. I heard the king say the other day that he should
like to see you wear the _grand cordon_ of St. Michael."

Aramis bowed. "Oh!" thought D'Artagnanand Porthos is no longer here!
What ells of ribbons would there be for him in these _largesses!_ Dear
Porthos!

Monsieur d'Artagnan,resumed Colbertbetween us two, you will have, I
wager, an inclination to lead your musketeers into Holland. Can you
swim?And he laughed like a man in high good humor.

Like an eel,replied D'Artagnan.

Ah! but there are some bitter passages of canals and marshes yonder,
Monsieur d'Artagnan, and the best swimmers are sometimes drowned there.

It is my profession to die for his majesty,said the musketeer. "Only
as it is seldom in war that much water is met with without a little fire
I declare to you beforehandthat I will do my best to choose fire. I am
getting old; water freezes me - but fire warmsMonsieur Colbert."

And D'Artagnan looked so handsome still in quasi-juvenile strength as he
pronounced these wordsthat Colbertin his turncould not help
admiring him. D'Artagnan perceived the effect he had produced. He
remembered that the best tradesman is he who fixes a high price upon his
goodswhen they are valuable. He prepared his price in advance.

So, then,said Colbertwe go into Holland?

Yes,replied D'Artagnan; "only - "

Only?said M. Colbert.

Only,repeated D'Artagnanthere lurks in everything the question of
interest, the question of self-love. It is a very fine title, that of
captain of the musketeers; but observe this: we have now the king's
guards and the military household of the king. A captain of musketeers
ought to command all that, and then he would absorb a hundred thousand
livres a year for expenses.

Well! but do you suppose the king would haggle with you?said Colbert.

Eh! monsieur, you have not understood me,replied D'Artagnansure of
carrying his point. "I was telling you that Ian old captainformerly
chief of the king's guardhaving precedence of the _marechaux_ of France

-I saw myself one day in the trenches with two other equalsthe captain
of the guards and the colonel commanding the Swiss. Nowat no price
will I suffer that. I have old habitsand I will stand or fall by them."
Colbert felt this blowbut he was prepared for it.

I have been thinking of what you said just now,replied he.

About what, monsieur?

We were speaking of canals and marshes in which people are drowned.

Well!

Well! if they are drowned, it is for want of a boat, a plank, or a stick.

Of a stick, however short it may be,said D'Artagnan.


Exactly,said Colbert. "AndthereforeI never heard of an instance
of a _marechal_ of France being drowned."

D'Artagnan became very pale with joyand in a not very firm voice
People would be very proud of me in my country,said heif I were a
_marechal_ of France; but a man must have commanded an expedition in
chief to obtain the _baton_.

Monsieur!said Colberthere is in this pocket-book which you will
study, a plan of campaign you will have to lead a body of troops to carry
out in the next spring.

Transcriber's note: This particular campaign did not actually occur until
1673. - JB

D'Artagnan took the booktremblinglyand his fingers meeting those of
Colbertthe minister pressed the hand of the musketeer loyally.

Monsieur,said hewe had both a revenge to take, one over the other.
I have begun; it is now your turn!

I will do you justice, monsieur,replied D'Artagnanand implore you
to tell the king that the first opportunity that shall offer, he may
depend upon a victory, or to behold me dead - _or both_.

Then I will have the _fleurs-de-lis_ for your _marechal's baton_
prepared immediately,said Colbert.

On the morrowAramiswho was setting out for Madridto negotiate the
neutrality of Spaincame to embrace D'Artagnan at his hotel.

Let us love each other for four,said D'Artagnan. "We are now but two."

And you will, perhaps, never see me again, dear D'Artagnan,said
Aramis; "if you knew how I have loved you! I am oldI am extinct - ah
I am almost dead."

My friend,said D'Artagnanyou will live longer than I shall:
diplomacy commands you to live; but, for my part, honor condemns me to
die.

Bah! such men as we are, monsieur le marechal,said Aramisonly die
satisfied with joy in glory.

Ah!replied D'Artagnanwith a melancholy smileI assure you,
monsieur le duc, I feel very little appetite for either.

They once more embracedandtwo hours afterseparated - forever.

The Death of D'Artagnan.

Contrary to that which generally happenswhether in politics or morals
each kept his promisesand did honor to his engagements.

The king recalled M. de Guicheand banished M. le Chevalier de Lorraine;
so that Monsieur became ill in consequence. Madame set out for London
where she applied herself so earnestly to make her brotherCharles II.
acquire a taste for the political counsels of Mademoiselle de Keroualle
that the alliance between England and France was signedand the English
vesselsballasted by a few millions of French goldmade a terrible
campaign against the fleets of the United Provinces. Charles II. had
promised Mademoiselle de Keroualle a little gratitude for her good
counsels; he made her Duchess of Portsmouth. Colbert had promised the


king vesselsmunitionsvictories. He kept his wordas is well known.
At length Aramisupon whose promises there was least dependence to be
placedwrote Colbert the following letteron the subject of the
negotiations which he had undertaken at Madrid:

MONSIEUR COLBERT, - I have the honor to expedite to you the R. P. Oliva,
general _ad interim_ of the Society of Jesus, my provisional successor.
The reverend father will explain to you, Monsieur Colbert, that I
preserve to myself the direction of all the affairs of the order which
concern France and Spain; but that I am not willing to retain the title
of general, which would throw too high a side-light on the progress of
the negotiations with which His Catholic Majesty wishes to intrust me. I
shall resume that title by the command of his majesty, when the labors I
have undertaken in concert with you, for the great glory of God and His
Church, shall be brought to a good end. The R. P. Oliva will inform you
likewise, monsieur, of the consent His Catholic Majesty gives to the
signature of a treaty which assures the neutrality of Spain in the event
of a war between France and the United Provinces. This consent will be
valid even if England, instead of being active, should satisfy herself
with remaining neutral. As for Portugal, of which you and I have spoken,
monsieur, I can assure you it will contribute with all its resources to
assist the Most Christian King in his war. I beg you, Monsieur Colbert,
to preserve your friendship and also to believe in my profound
attachment, and to lay my respect at the feet of His Most Christian
Majesty. Signed,
LE DUC D'ALMEDA."

Transcriber's note: Jean-Paul Oliva was the actual general of the Jesuits
from 1664-1681. - JB

Aramis had performed more than he had promised; it remained to be seen
how the kingM. Colbertand D'Artagnan would be faithful to each
other. In the springas Colbert had predictedthe land army entered on
its campaign. It precededin magnificent orderthe court of Louis
XIV.whosetting out on horsebacksurrounded by carriages filled with
ladies and courtiersconducted the _elite_ of his kingdom to this
sanguinary _fete_. The officers of the armyit is truehad no other
music save the artillery of the Dutch forts; but it was enough for a
great numberwho found in this war honoradvancementfortune - or
death.

M. d'Artagnan set out commanding a body of twelve thousand mencavalry
and infantrywith which he was ordered to take the different places
which form knots of that strategic network called La Frise. Never was an
army conducted more gallantly to an expedition. The officers knew that
their leaderprudent and skillful as he was bravewould not sacrifice a
single mannor yield an inch of ground without necessity. He had the
old habits of warto live upon the countrykeeping his soldiers singing
and the enemy weeping. The captain of the king's musketeers well knew
his business. Never were opportunities better chosen_coups-de-main_
better supportederrors of the besieged more quickly taken advantage of.
The army commanded by D'Artagnan took twelve small places within a
month. He was engaged in besieging the thirteenthwhich had held out
five days. D'Artagnan caused the trenches to be opened without appearing
to suppose that these people would ever allow themselves to be taken.
The pioneers and laborers werein the army of this mana body full of
ideas and zealbecause their commander treated them like soldiersknew
how to render their work gloriousand never allowed them to be killed if
he could help it. It should have been seen with what eagerness the
marshy glebes of Holland were turned over. Those turf-heapsmounds of
potter's claymelted at the word of the soldiers like butter in the
frying-pans of Friesland housewives.


M. d'Artagnan dispatched a courier to the king to give him an account of
the last successwhich redoubled the good humor of his majesty and his
inclination to amuse the ladies. These victories of M. d'Artagnan gave
so much majesty to the princethat Madame de Montespan no longer called
him anything but Louis the Invincible. So that Mademoiselle de la
Vallierewho only called the king Louis the Victoriouslost much of his
majesty's favor. Besidesher eyes were frequently redand to an
Invincible nothing is more disagreeable than a mistress who weeps while
everything is smiling round her. The star of Mademoiselle de la Valliere
was being drowned in clouds and tears. But the gayety of Madame de
Montespan redoubled with the successes of the kingand consoled him for
every other unpleasant circumstance. It was to D'Artagnan the king owed
this; and his majesty was anxious to acknowledge these services; he wrote
to M. Colbert:
MONSIEUR COLBERT, - We have a promise to fulfil with M. d'Artagnan, who
so well keeps his. This is to inform you that the time is come for
performing it. All provisions for this purpose you shall be furnished
with in due time.
LOUIS.

In consequence of thisColbertdetaining D'Artagnan's envoyplaced in
the hands of that messenger a letter from himselfand a small coffer of
ebony inlaid with goldnot very important in appearancebut which
without doubtwas very heavyas a guard of five men was given to the
messengerto assist him in carrying it. These people arrived before the
place which D'Artagnan was besieging towards daybreakand presented
themselves at the lodgings of the general. They were told that M.
d'Artagnanannoyed by a sortie which the governoran artful manhad
made the evening beforeand in which the works had been destroyed and
seventy-seven men killedand the reparation of the breaches commenced
had just gone with twenty companies of grenadiers to reconstruct the
works.

M. Colbert's envoy had orders to go and seek M. d'Artagnanwherever he
might beor at whatever hour of the day or night. He directed his
coursethereforetowards the trenchesfollowed by his escortall on
horseback. They perceived M. d'Artagnan in the open plainwith his goldlaced
hathis long caneand gilt cuffs. He was biting his white
mustacheand wiping offwith his left handthe dust which the passing
balls threw up from the ground they plowed so near him. They also saw
amidst this terrible firewhich filled the air with whistling hisses
officers handling the shovelsoldiers rolling barrowsand vast
fascinesrising by being either carried or dragged by from ten to twenty
mencover the front of the trench reopened to the center by this
extraordinary effort of the general. In three hoursall was
reinstated. D'Artagnan began to speak more mildly; and he became quite
calm when the captain of the pioneers approached himhat in handto
tell him that the trench was again in proper order. This man had
scarcely finished speakingwhen a ball took off one of his legsand he
fell into the arms of D'Artagnan. The latter lifted up his soldierand
quietlywith soothing wordscarried him into the trenchamidst the
enthusiastic applause of the regiments. From that time it was no longer
a question of valor - the army was delirious; two companies stole away to
the advanced postswhich they instantly destroyed.
When their comradesrestrained with great difficulty by D'Artagnansaw
them lodged upon the bastionsthey rushed forward likewise; and soon a
furious assault was made upon the counterscarpupon which depended the
safety of the place. D'Artagnan perceived there was only one means left
of checking his army - to take the place. He directed all his force to
the two breacheswhere the besieged were busy in repairing. The shock
was terrible; eighteen companies took part in itand D'Artagnan went
with the restwithin half cannon-shot of the placeto support the


attack by _echelons_. The cries of the Dutchwho were being poniarded
upon their guns by D'Artagnan's grenadierswere distinctly audible. The
struggle grew fiercer with the despair of the governorwho disputed his
position foot by foot. D'Artagnanto put an end to the affairand to
silence the firewhich was unceasingsent a fresh columnwhich
penetrated like a very wedge; and he soon perceived upon the ramparts
through the firethe terrified flight of the besiegedpursued by the
besiegers.

At this moment the generalbreathing feely and full of joyheard a
voice behind himsayingMonsieur, if you please, from M. Colbert.

He broke the seal of the letterwhich contained these words:

MONSIEUR D'ARTAGNAN: - The king commands me to inform you that he has
nominated you marechal of France, as a reward for your magnificent
services, and the honor you do to his arms. The king is highly pleased,
monsieur, with the captures you have made; he commands you, in
particular, to finish the siege you have commenced, with good fortune to
you, and success for him.

D'Artagnan was standing with a radiant countenance and sparkling eye. He
looked up to watch the progress of his troops upon the wallsstill
enveloped in red and black volumes of smoke. "I have finished replied
he to the messenger; the city will have surrendered in a quarter of an
hour." He then resumed his reading:

The _coffret_, Monsieur d'Artagnan, is my own present. You will not be
sorry to see that, whilst you warriors are drawing the sword to defend
the king, I am moving the pacific arts to ornament a present worthy of
you. I commend myself to your friendship, monsieur le marechal, and beg
you to believe in mine.
COLBERT

D'Artagnanintoxicated with joymade a sign to the messengerwho
approachedwith his _coffret_ in his hands. But at the moment the
_marechal_ was going to look at ita loud explosion resounded from the
rampartsand called his attention towards the city. "It is strange
said D'Artagnan, that I don't yet see the king's flag on the wallsor
hear the drums beat the _chamade_." He launched three hundred fresh men
under a high-spirited officerand ordered another breach to be made.
Thenmore tranquillyhe turned towards the _coffret_which Colbert's
envoy held out to him. - It was his treasure - he had won it.

D'Artagnan was holding out his hand to open the _coffret_when a ball
from the city crushed the _coffret_ in the arms of the officerstruck
D'Artagnan full in the chestand knocked him down upon a sloping heap of
earthwhilst the _fleur-de-lised baton_escaping from the broken box
came rolling under the powerless hand of the _marechal_. D'Artagnan
endeavored to raise himself. It was thought he had been knocked down
without being wounded. A terrible cry broke from the group of terrified
officers; the _marechal_ was covered with blood; the pallor of death
ascended slowly to his noble countenance. Leaning upon the arms held out
on all sides to receive himhe was able once more to turn his eyes
towards the placeand to distinguish the white flag at the crest of the
principal bastion; his earsalready deaf to the sounds of lifecaught
feebly the rolling of the drum which announced the victory. Then
clasping in his nerveless hand the _baton_ornamented with its _fleursde-
lis_he cast on it his eyeswhich had no longer the power of looking
upwards towards Heavenand fell backmurmuring strange wordswhich
appeared to the soldiers cabalistic - words which had formerly
represented so many things on earthand which none but the dying man any
longer comprehended:


Athos - Porthos, farewell till we meet again! Aramis, adieu forever!

Of the four valiant men whose history we have relatedthere now remained
but one. Heaven had taken to itself three noble souls.

Transcriber's note: In earlier editionsthe last line readsOf the
four valiant men whose history we have related, there now no longer
remained but one single body; God had resumed the souls.- JB

Thus ends the last Etext in the Three Musketeers series.