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the Rue St. Honore with the speed of a whirlwind.

"Well, baron! I promised you some exercise!" said the

"Yes, my captain."

As they went, the citizens, awakened, left their doors, and
the fierce dogs followed the cavaliers, barking. At the corner of
the cemetery Saint Jean, d'Artagnan upset a man: it was too
slight an occurrence to delay people so eager to get on. The
troop continued its course as if their steeds were winged.

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



The Musketeers rode the whole length of the road to Vin-
cennes, and soon found themselves in sight of a village.

From the top of an eminence d*Artagnan perceived a group of
people collected on the other side of the moat, in front of that
part of the donjon which looks towards Saint Maur. He rode
oti, convinced that he should in that direction gain intelligence of
the fugitive; and he learned from the people who composed the
group, that the duke had been pursued without success ; that his
party consisted of four able men, and one wounded, and that
they were two hours and a quarter in advance of their pursuers.

"Only four!" cried d'Artagnan, looking at Porthos; "baron,
only four of tfiem !"

Porthos smiled.

"And only two hours and a quarter before us, and we so well
mounted, Porthos!"


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Pofthos sighed, for he thought of all that was awaiting his
poor horses.

The trbop then pursued their course with their wonted ar-
dor; but some of them could no longer sustain this rapidity;
three of them stopped after an hour's march, and one fell down,

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

"If we can only keep two," said d'Artagnan, "it will be enough,
since the duke's troops are only four in number."

And he spurred his horse on.

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

"Let us rest here a minute to give these miserable creatures
breathing time," said Porthos.

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

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

They set out, but after a run of two leagues, Mousqueton's
horse sank.

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

"The Cardinal will pay you a hundred pistoles."

"I'm above asking."

"Let us set out then again, on a full gallop."

"Yes, if we can."

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

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

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

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

All three then called out, "All's over."

"Hush!" said d'Artagnan.

"What is it?"

"I hear a horse, *tis a hundred paces in advance."

There was, in truth, the neighing of a horse heard.

"Sir," said Mousqueton, "at a hundred steps from us there's
a little hunting box."

"Mousqueton, my pistols."

"They are in my hand, sir."

"Porthos, keep yours in your holster. Now, we seize horses
for the King's service."

"For the King's service," repeated Porthos.

"Then not a word, and to work!"

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


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

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

**! want to buy horses," said d*Artagnan, approaching the

"These horses are not for sale," was the reply.

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

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

"Sir," cried the groom, **they have just come six leagues,
and have only been unbridled about half an hour."

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

The groom called aloud fer help. A steward appeared, just
as d'Artagnan and his companions were prepared to mount.
The steward wished to expostulate.

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

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

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

"Sir, I shall call my men."

"And I mine, Fve ten guards behind me; don't you hear them
gallop? and I'm one of the King's Musketeers; come, Porthos,
come Mouston."

They all mounted as quickly as possible.

"Here! here!" cried the steward, "the house servants with the
carbines 1"

"On ! on !" cried d'Artagnan ; "there'll be shooting I on !"

They all set off, swift as the winds.

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

"Don't hurt your horse," said d'Artagnan to him, laugh-

"Fire V replied the steward.

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

"They fire like grooms," said Porthos; "in the time of the
Cardinal, people fired better than that; do you remember the
road to Crevecceur, Mousqucton?"

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

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

"Egad, didn't you he^r — ^these horses belong to M. Mont-
bazon : well, M. Montbazon is the husband of Lady Montbazon,
and she is the mistress of the Duke de Beaufort."

"Ah! I understand," replied Porthos; "she has ordered re-


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lays of horses, and we are pursuing the duke with the very
horses he has just left?"

"My dear Porthos, you are really a man of superior under-
standing,*' said d*Artagnan, with a look as if he spoke against
his conviction.

"Pooh I" said Porthos, "I am what I am."

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

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

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

"I, too," cried Mousqueton, **saw it also."

"Yes, a dead horse," said d'Artagnan, pulling up his horse,
which shied: "it seems that they also are broken-winded as
well as ourselves."

"I seem to hear the noise of a troop of horsemen!" exclaimed
Porthos, leaning over his horse's mane. "They appear to be
numerous. Another horse!"


"No, dying, saddled and bridled."

"Then 'tis the fugitives."

"Courage, we have them !"

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

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

"Certainly," remarked Porthos.

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

**The sparks again! this time I, too, saw them," said Porthos.

**0n! on! forward! forward!" cried d'Artagnan, in his sten-
torian voice, "we shall laugh over all this in five minutes."

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



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

"Oh, oh!" cried d'Artagnan, "they're coming towards us."

^So much' the worst for them,** said Porthos.


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"Who goes there?" cried a hoarse voice.

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

**To the teeth," said d'Artagnan.

Porthos understood him and he and the lieutenant each one
took from his left hand a pistol, and armed himself each in his

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

"StuflF!" cried Porthos, almost choked with dust. "Stuff
and nonsense! we have seen plenty of dead men in our time."

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

"Back!" cried d'Artagnan; "or you are dead!"

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

"Finish! Mouston — ^finish him!" cried Porthos. And he
darted on, beside his friend, who had already begim a fresh pur-

"Well?" said Porthos.

"IVe broken his skull," cried d'Artagnan. "And you "

"I've only thrown him down; but hark!"

Another shot of a carbine was heard. It was Mousqueton,
who was obe3ring his master's command.

"On! on!" cried d'Artagnan; "all goes well! we have the first

"Ha! ha!" answered Porthos; "behold, other players ap-

And, in fact, two other cavaliers made their appearance de-
tached, as it seemed, from the principal group; they again dis-
puted the road.

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

"Stand aside," he cried, "stand off the road."

"What do you want?" asked a voice.

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

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

At the same time Porthos and his adversary fired at each
other and d'Artagnan turned to him :

"Bravo!— you've killed him, I think."


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**No, wounded his horse only."

"But what ails my horse?"

**He's falling down," replied Porthos.

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

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

** Zounds I want one?" cried the Gascon. "Rather!"

"Here's one, your honor "

"How the devil have you two horses?" asked d'Artagnan,
jumping on one of them.

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

Meantime Porthos had reloaded his pistols.

"Be on the alert!" cried d'Artagnan. "Here are two other

As he spoke two horsemen advanced at full speed.

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

"Why didn't you do as you did to the first man?" said Por-

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

A shot was fired at that moment and Mousqueton shrieked with

"Oh! Fra hit in the other flank! exactly i^ the other! This
hurt is just the fellow of that I had on the road of Amiens."

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

Mousqueton, groaning, slipped ^ down from his horse, his
wound not allowing him to sit in the saddle.

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

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

"Let us charge them," answered the Gascon.

"Charge!" echoed Porthos.

They charged their horses upon the other cavaliers who were
only twenty steps from them.

"For the King!" cried d'Artagnan.

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

"So? the King's name is not a passport everywhere," replied
the Gascon,


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''See!" answered the voice.

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

"Bah!" cried the voice, the tone of which was piercing and
jeering — ^**this! 'tis nothing but a butchery of horses, and not a
combat between men. To the sword, sir! — the sword!"

And he jiunped off his horse.

**To our swords! — ^be it so!" replied d'Artagnan — ^** that's just
what I want."

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

Twice or thrice blows were struck on both sides without
effect; sparks were emitted from the swords like water spouting

At last d'Artagnan thought it about time to try one of his
favorite feints in fencing. He brought it to bear, skilfully exe-
cuted with the rapidity of lightning, and struck the blow with a
force which he fancied would prove irresistible.

The blow was parried.

"S'death!" he cried, with his Gascon accent.

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

As to d'Artagnan, afraid of some feint, he still stood on the

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

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

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

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

"Athos!" exclaimed d'Artagnan.

"D'Artagnan!" ejaculated Athos.

Athos raised his sword— d'Artagnan lowered his.

"Aramis!" cried Athos— "don't fire!"

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

And he threw away his pistol.

Aramis pushed his back into his saddle bag, and sheathed his

"My son!" exclaimed Athos, extending his hand to d'Artag-
nan. '

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


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"Athos!" cried d*Artagnan, wringing his hands. "So you de-
fend him! And I, who have sworn to take him dead or alive,
I am dishonored — ^Ah!"

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

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

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

"The prince!" exclaimed at the same moment Athos and
Aramis, unmasking as they spoke; "The Duke de Beaufort,"
while d'Artagnan and Porthos stepped backwards.

"Fifty!" cried the Gascon and Porthos.

"Look around you, gentlemen, if you doubt the facts," said the

The two friends looked to the right and left; they were en-
compassed by horsemen.

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

"Yes, my lord; but, as you have said, two equal to twenty,"
said Athos.

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

"Our swords!" cried d'Artagnan, raising his head and regain-
ing his self-possession. "Never!

"Never," added Porthos.

Some of the men moved towards them.

"One moment, my lord," whispered Athos; and he said some-
thing in a low voice.

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

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

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

Aramis dismounted, and went to Porthos, while Athos
approached d'Artagnan. All the four were together.

"Friends!" said Athos; "do you regret that you have not
shed our blood?"

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

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


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**Well — ^be on our side now," resumed Aramis.

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

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

D'Artagnan only sighed.

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

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

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

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

Porthos bowed, as if in assent.

"Let us choose a place of rendezvous," continued Athos, *and
in a last interview, arrange our mutual position^ and the con-
duct we are to maintain towards each other."

"Good!" the other three exclaimed.

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

Athos and Aramis looked at each other.

"The Place Royale, Paris— be it so!" replied Athos.


"To-morrow evening, if you please. At ten if that suits
you— 'we shall be returned."


"There," continued Athos, "either peace or war will be
decided — our honor, at all events, will be secured."

"Alas!" murmured d'Artagnan, "our honor as soldiers is
lost to us forever! Now, Porthos; now we mfust hence» to
bear back our shame on our heads to the Cardinal I"

"And tell him," cried a voice, **that I am not too old to be
still a man of action."

D'Artagnan recognized the voice of de Roche fort.

The duke disappeared, followed by his troop, who were
soon lost in distance and darkness.

D'Artagnan and Porthos were alone with a man who held
their two horses; they thought it was Mousqueton, and went up
to him.

"What do I see?" cried the lieutenant. "Grimaud, is it you?"

Grimaud signified that he was not mistaken.

"And whose horses are these?" cried d'Artagnan. "Who has
given them to us?"

"The Count de la Fere."

"Athos! Athos!" muttered d'Artagnan, **you think of every-
one; you are, indeed, a gentleman! Whither are you bound
to, Grimaud?"


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"To join the Viscount de Bragelonne in Flanders, your

They were taking the road towards Paris, when groans,
which seemed to proceed from a ditch, attracted their atten-

"What is that?*' asked d*Artagnan.

"It is I, Mousqueton," said a mournful voice, while a sort of
shadow arose out of the side of the road.

"I will take care of Mousqueton," said Grimaud; and he
gave his arm to his old comrade, whose eyes were full of tears,
and Grimaud could not tell whether the tears were caused by
his wounds, or by the pleasure of seeing him again..

D'Artagnan and Porthos went on, meantime, to Paris. They
were passed by a courier, covered with dust, the bearer of a
letter from the duke to the Cardinal, bearing testimony to the
favor of d'Artagnan and Porthos.

Mazarin had passed a very bad night, when this letter was
brought to him, announcing that the duke was free, and that
he should henceforth raise up a mortal strife against him.

"What consoles me," said the Cardinal, after reading the
letter, **is, that at least, in this chase, d'Artagnan has done me
one good turn — ^he has destroyed Broussel. This Gascon is
a precious fellow — even his mishaps are useful."

The Cardinal referred to that man whom d'Artagnan upset
at the corner of the Saint Jean Cemetery in Paris, and who
was no other than the Councillor Broussel.



"Well," said Porthos, seated in the court-yard of the Hotel
de la Chevrette, to d'Artagnan, who with a long and melan-
choly face had returned from the Palais Royal, "did he re-
ceive you ungraciously, my dear friend?"

** I' faith, yes! a hideous brute, our Cardinal^— what are you
eating there, Porthos?"

"I am dipping a biscuit into a glass of Spanish wine— do the

"You are right Gimblon, a glass of wine I"

"Well! how has all gone off?"

"Zounds! you know there's only one way of saying things;
so I went in and I said: 'My lord, we were not the stronger

"•Yes, I know that/ he said, 'but tell me the particulars.*

"You know, Porthos, I could not give him the particulars
without naming our friends — ^to name them would be to corn-


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mit them to ruin, so I merely said they were fifty and wc were

"There was firing, nevertheless, I heard,' he said; 'and
your swords, they saw the light of day, I presume?*

"'That is^ the starlight, my lord,' I answered.

•**AhI' cried the Cardinal; *I thought you were a Gascon,
my friend/

**1 am only a Gascon,' said I, 'when I succeed.' So the
answer pleased, and he laughed."

"Well, not so bad a reputation as I feared," remarked Por-

"No, no, but 'tis the manner in which he spoke. Gimblon,
another bottle of wine—^'tis almost incredible what a quantity
of wine these biscuits will hold."

"Hem— didn't he mention me?" inquired Porthos.

"Ah! yes, indeed!" cried d'Artagnan, who was afraid of dis-
heartening his friend by telling him that the Cardinal had not
breathed a word about him; "yes, surely! he sai d ■ ' as to
your friend, tell him that he may sleep in peace.'"

"Good, very good," said Porthos; "that means as dear as
daylight that he intends still to make me a baron."

At this moment nine o'clock struck. D'Artagnan started.

"Ah yes," said Porthos; "there is nine o'clock. We have an
appointment, you remember, at the Place Royale."

"Ah! stop! hold your peace, Porthos— don't remind me of
it, 'tis that which has made me so cross since yesterday. I
shall not go."

"Why?" asked Porthos.

"Why, suppose this appointment is only a blind? That
there's something hidden beneath it?"

D'Artagnan did not believe Athos to be capable of a deception,
but he sought an excuse for not going.

"We must go," said the superb lord of Bracieux, "lest they
should say we were afraid. We, who have faced fifty foes on
the high road, can well meet two in the Place Royale."

"Yes, yes, but they took part with the princes without ap-
prising us of it— perhaps the duke may try to catch us in his

"Nonsense! Ho had us in his power and let us go. Be-
sides, we can be on our guard — ^let us take arms, and, let Plan-
chet go with us with his carbine."

"Planchet is a Frondeur," answered d'Artagnan.

"Devil take these civil wars! one can no more reckon on one's
friends than on one's footmen," said Porthos; "ah, if Mous-
queton were here! there's one who will never desert me!"

"So long as you are rich! ah! my friend! 'tis not civil war
that disunites us! It is that we are, each of us, twenty years
older; it is that the honest emotions of youth have given place
to the suggestions of interest — ^to the whispers of ambition-

Online LibraryAlexandre DumasTwenty years after → online text (page 11 of 38)