Alexandre Dumas.

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to the counsels of selfishness. Yes, you are right— let us go,
Porthos! but let us go well armed — were we not to go they
would say we were afraid. Hello! Planchet, here! saddle
our horses — ^take your carbine."

"Whom are you going to attack, sir?"

"No one— a mere matter of precaution," answered the

"You know, sir, that they wished to murder that good Coun-
cillor Broussel, the father of the people, but he has been
avenged. He was carried home in the arms of the people.
His house has been full ever since. He has received visits from
the Coadjutor, from Mdme. de Longueville, and the Prince
de Conti — Mdme. de Chevreuse and Mdme. de Vendome have
left their names at his door."

"How did you hear this?" inquired d*Artagnan.

"From a good source, sir — I heard it from Friquet."

"From Friquet? I know that name "

"A son of M. de BrousseFs servant, and a lad that I promise
you, in a revolt, will not cast away his share to the dogs."

"Is he not a singing boy at Notre Dame?" asked d'Artagnan.

"Yes, that's he, patronized by Bazin."

"Ah, yes, I know."

"Of what importance is this reptile to you?" asked Porthos.

"Gad!" replied d'Artagnan; "hg has already given me good
information, and he may do the same again."

While all this was going on, Athos and Aramis were enter-
ing Paris by the Faubourg St. Antoine. They had taken
some refreshments on the road, and hastened on that they
might not fail at the rendezvous. Bazin was their only at-
tendant, for Grimaud had stayed behind to take care of Mous-

Scarcely had they reached the iron gate of the Place Royale,
than they perceived three cavaliers, d'Artagnan, Porthos,
and Planchet, the two former wrapped up in their military
cloaks, under which their swords were hidden, and Planchet,
his musket by his side. They were waiting at the entrance
of the Rue St Catherine, and their horses were fastened to
the rings of the arcade. Athos, therefore, commanded Bazin to
fasten up his horse and that of Aramis in the same manner.

Then they advanced, two and two, and saluted each other

"Now, where will it be agreeable to you that we hold our
conference?" inquired Athos, perceiving that the people were
stopping to look at them, supposing that they were going to en-
gage in one of those far-famed duels still extant in the mem-
cry of the Parisians — and especially the inhabitants of the
Place Royale.

"The gate is shut," said Aramis, "but if these gentlemen
like a cool retreat under the trees, and perfect seclusion.


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I will get the key from the Rohan Townhouse, and we shall
be well situated."

lyArtagnan darted a look into the obscurity of the place,
Porthos ventured to put his head between the railings, to try
if his glance could penetrate the gloom.

"If you prefer any other place," said Athos, in his persua-
sive voice, "choose for yourselves."

"This place, if M. d'Herblay can procure the key, is the best
that we can have," was the answer.

Aramis went off at once, begging Athos not to remain alone
within reach of d'Artagnan and Porthos; a piece of advice
which he received with a contemptuous smile.

Aramis returned soon with a man who opened the gate, and
Aramis faced round in order that d'Artagnan and Porthos
might enter. In passing through the gate, the hilt of the
lieutenant's sword was caught in the grating, and he was
obliged to pull off his cloak; in doing so he showed the butt-
end of his pistol, and a ray of the moon was reflected on the
shining metal.

"Do you see?" whispered Aramis to Athos, touching his
shoulder with one hand, and pointing with the other to the
arms which the Gascon wore under his belt.

"Alas, I do!" replied Athos, with a deep sigh.

He entered third, and Aramis, who shut the gate after him,
last. The two serving men waited without, but, as if they like-
wise mistrusted each other, kept their respective distances.



They proceeded silently to the centre of the Place; but as
at this very moment the moon had just emerged from behind a
cloud, it was considered that they might be observed if they
remained on that spot, and they regained the shade of the lime-

There were benches here and there — ^the four gentlemen
stopped near them ; at a sign from Athos, Porthos and d*Artag-
nan sat down, the two others stood in front of them.

After a few minutes of silent embarrassment, Athos spoke.

** Gentlemen," he said, "our presence here is a proof of our
former friendship; not one of us has failed at this rendezvous;
not one, has, therefore, to reproach himself."

"Hear me, Count," replied d*Artagnan; "instead of making
compliments to each other, let us explain our conduct to each
other, like men of right and honest hearts."

"I wish for nothing more; have you any cause of anger


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against me or M. d*Herblay? If so, speak out," answered

"I have," replied d'Artagnan. "When I saw you at your
chateau at Bragelonne, I made proposals to you, which you
perfectly understood; instead of answering me as a friend, you
played with me as a child; the friendship, therefore, that you
boast of, was not broken yesterday by the shock of our swords,
but by your dissimulation at your home."

** D'Artagnan;" said Athos, reproachfully.

^You asked for candor — ^there it is. You ask what I feel
against you — I say it. And I have the same sincerity to show
you, if you wish, M. d*Herblay; I acted in a similar way to you
and you also deceived me; I reproach you with nothing, how-
ever; 'tis only because M. de la Fere has spoken of freindship
that I question your conduct."

**And what do you find in it to blame?" asked Aramis,

The blood mounted instantly to the temples of d'Artagnan,
who rose, and replied:

**I consider it the conduct of a pupil of Jesuits."

On seeing d'Artagnan rise, Porthos rose also; these four
men were, therefore, all standing at the same time, with a
menacing aspect, opposite to each other.

Upon hearing d*Artagnan*s reply, Aramis seemed about to
draw his sword, when Athos prevented him.

** D'Artagnan," he said, "you come here to-night, still infuri-
ated by our yesterday's adventure.^ I believe that your heart
is sufficiently noble to enable a friendship of twenty years to
be stronger than an affront of a quarter of an hour. Come, do
you really think you have an)rthing to say against me? say it
then; if I am in fault, I will avow my fault."

The grave and harmonious tones of that beloved voice had
still over d'Artagnan its ancient influence, while that of Aramis,
which had become sharp and screaming in his moments of ill-
humor, irritated him. He answered therefore,:

**I think, that you had something to communicate to me at
your chateau of Bragelonne, and that gentleman" — ^he pointed
to Aramis — "had also something to tell me when I was at
his convent. At this time I was not concerned in the adven-
ture during which you barricaded the road that I was going;
however, because I was prudent, you must not take me for a
fool. If I had wished to widen the breach betweeen those
whom M. d'Herblay chooses to receive with a rope ladder, and
those he receives with a wooden ladder, I could have spoken

"What are you meddling with?" cried Aramis, pale with
anger, suspecting that d'Artagnan had acted as spy on him,
and had seen him with Mdme. de Longueville.

"I never meddle but with what concerns me, and I know how


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to make beKeve that I haven't seen what does not concern me;
but I hate hypocrites, and among that number, I place mus-
keteers who are priests, and priests who are musketeers; and,"
he added, turning to Porthos, "here's a gentleman who is of the
same opinion as myself."

Porthos, who had not spoken one word, answered merely by
a word and a gesture.

He said, "Yes," and he put his hand on his sword. Aramis
started back, and drew his. D*Artagnan bent forward, ready
either to attack, or to stand on his defense.

Athos, at that moment, extended his hand with the air of
supreme command which characterized him alone, drew out his
sword and scabbard at the same time, broke the blade in the
sheath on his knee and threw the pieces to his right. Then
turning to Aramis, he said, "break your sword in two."

Aramis hesitated.

**It must be done," said Athos; then in a lower and more gen-
tle voice, he added, "I wish it."

Then Aramis, paler than before, but subdued by these words,
broke the flexible blade with his hands, and then, folding his
arms, stood trembling with rage.

These proceedings made d'Artagnan and Porthos draw back.
D'Artagnan did not draw his sword; Porthos put his back in
the sheath.

"Never!" exclaimed Athos, raising his right hand to Heaven,
** Never I I swear before God, who seeth us, and who in the
darkness of this night heareth us, never shall my sword cross
yours, nev^r shall my eye cast a glance of anger, nor my heart
a throb of hatred, to you. We lived together, we loved, we
hated together; we shed and mingled oUr blood together, and,
too, probably, I may still add, that there may be yet a bond
between us closer even than that of friendship — ^perhaps the
bond of crime; for we four, we once did condemn, judge,
and slay a human being whom we had not any right to
cut off from this world, although apparently fitter for hell
than for this life. D'Artagnan, I have always loved you as
my son. Porthos, we slept six years side by side; Aramis is
your brother as well as mine, and Aramis has once loved you,
as I. love you now, and as I have ever loved you. What can
Cardinal Mazarin be to us, who compelled such a man as
Richelieu to act as he pleased? What is such or such a prince
to us, who have fixed on the Queen's head the crown? D'Ar-
tagnan, I ask your pardon for having yesterday crossed swords
with you; Aramis does the same to Porthos; now, hate me if
you can, but, for my own part, I shall ever, even if you do hate
me, retain esteem and friendship for you; repeat^ my words,
Aramis, and then, if you desire it, and if they desire it, let us
separate forever from our old friends."


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There was a solemn, though momentary silence, which was
broken by Aramis.

**I swear," he said, with a calm brow, and kindly glance, but
in a voice still trembling with recent emotion, **I swear that
I no longer bear animosity to those who were once my friends.
I regret that I ever crossed swords with you, Porthos; I swear
not only that it shall never again be pointed at your breast,
but that in the bottom of my heart there will never in future
be the slightest hostile sentiment; now, Athos, come."

Athos was about to retire.

"No! no I no! do not go away!" cried d'Artagnan, impelled
by one of those irresistible impulses which showed the ardor
of his nature, and the native uprightness of his character. "I
s^ear that I would shed the last drop of my blood, and the
last fragment of my limbs, to preserve the friendship of such a
man as you, Athos — of such a man as you, Aramis." And
he threw himself into the arms of Athos.

**My son!" exclaimed Athos, pressing him in his arms.

**And as for mel" said Porthos, **I swear nothing, but I'm
choked— forsooth ! If I were obliged to fight against you, I
think I should allow myself to be pierced through and through,
for I never loved anyone but you in the world;" and honest
Porthos burst into tears, as he embraced Athos.

•*My friends," said Athos, **this is what I expected from such
hearts as yours — ^yes — I have said it, and I now repeat it! our
destinies are irrevocably united, although we pursue different
roads. I respect your convictions; and while we fight for op-
posite sides, let lis remain friends. Ministers, princes, kings
will pass away like a torrent; civil war, like a flame; but we —
we shall remain; I have a presentiment that we shall."

**Yes," replied d'Artagnan, "let us still be Musketeers, and
let us retain as our colors that famous napkin, of the bastion
Saint Gervais — on which the great Cardinal had three fleur-
de-lis embroidered."

"Be it so," cried Aramis. "Cardinalists, or Frondeurs, what
matters it— let us meet again our capital seconds at a duel — our
devoted friends in business — our merry companions in pleasure."

"And whenever," added Athos, "we meet in battle, at this
word — ^'Place Royale!' — let us put our swords into our left
h^inds, and shake hands with the right — even in the thick of
tiie carnage."

"You speak charmingly," said Porthos.

"And are the first of men!" added d'Artagnan. "You ex-
cel us all!"

Athos smiled with ineffable pleasure.

"Tis then all settled— gentlemen, your hands — are we not
pretty good Christians?"

"^ad!" said d'Artagnan, "by Heaven— yes."


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**We should be on this occasion, if only to be faithful to
our oath," said Aramis.

**Ah, I'm ready to do what you will," cried Porthos — ^"to
swear by Mahomet ;— devil take me if I've ever been so happy
as at this moment!"

And he wiped his eyes, still moist.

"Has not one of you a cross?" asked Athos.

Aramis smiled, and drew from his vest a cross of diamonds,
which was hung around his neck by a chain of pearls. '*Here
is one," he said.

"Well,** resumed Athos, "swear on this cross, which, in spite
of its material, is still a cross, swear to be united in spite of
everything, and forever, and may this oath bind us to each
other — ^and even, also, our descendants! Does this oath satisfy

"Yes!" said they all with one accord.

**Ah! traitor!" muttered d'Artagnan, leaning towards Ara-
mis, and whispering in his ear, "you have made us swear on
the crucifix of a Frondeuse."



We hope that the reader has not quite forgotten the young
traveler whom we left on the road to Flanders.

In losing sight of his guardian, whom he had quitted, gaz-
ing after him in front of the royal Basilica, Raoul spurred on
his horse, in order not only to escape from his own melan-
choly reflections, but also to hide from Olivain the emotion
which his face might betray.

The aspect of external objects is often a mysterious guide
communicating with the fibres of memory, which, in spite of
us, will arouse them at times; this thread, like that of Ariadne,
when once unraveled, will conduct one through a labyrinth
of thought, in which one loses one's self endeavoring to
follow that phantom of the past which is called recollection.

Now the sight of this chateau had taken Raoul back fifty
leagues westward, and had caused him to review his life from
the moment when he had taken leave of little Louise to that
in which he had seen her for the first time; and every branch
of oak, every weather-cock seen on a roof, reminded him,
that instead of returning to the friends of his childhood, every
instant removed him further from them, and that perhaps he
had even left them forever.

With a full heart and burning head, he desired Olivain to
lead on the horses to a little inn, which he observed by the


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wayside within gun-shot range, a little in advance of the place
they had reached.

As for himself, he dismounted, remained under a beautiful
group of chestnuts in flower, and bade Olivain send the host
to him with writing paper and ink, to be placed on a table
which he found there, conveniently ready for writing. Olivain
obeyed and continued his road.

Raoul had been there about ten minutes, during five out of
which he was lost in reverie, when there appeared within the
circle comprised in his wandering gaze a rubicund figure, who,
with a napkin round his body, and a white cap upon his head,
approached him, holding paper, pen, and ink in hand.

"Ah! ah!" said the apparition, "every gentleman seems to
have the same fancy, for, not a quarter of an hour ago, a young
lad, well-mounted like you, as tall as you, and about your age,
halted before this clump of trees, and had this table and this
chair brought here, and dined here — ^with an old gentleman
who seemed to be his tutor — upon a pie, of which they haven't
left a mouthful, and a bottle of Macon wine, of which they
haven't left a drop; but fortunately we have still got some of
the same wine, and some of the same pies left, and if your
worship will only give your orders "

"No, friend," said Raoul, smiling, "I am obliged to you,
but at this moment I want nothing but the things for which
I have asked;— only I shall be very glad if the ink prove
black, and pen good; upon these conditions, I will pay for the
pen the price of the bottle, and for the ink the price of the

"Very well, sir," said the host, "FU give the pie and the
bottle of wine to your servant, and in this way you will have
the pen and ink into the bargain."

"Do as you like," said Raoul, who was beginning his experi-
ence with that particular class of society, who, when there
were robbers on the high roads, were connected with them,
and who, since highwaymen no longer exist, have advanta-
geously supplied their place.

The host, his mind quite at ease about the bill, placed pen,
ink, and paper upon the table. By a luclqr chance the pen was
tolerably good, and Raoul began to write. The host remained
standing in front of him, looking with a kind of involuntary
admiration at his handsome face, combining both gravity and
sv/eetness of expression. Beauty has always been, and always
will be, all-powerful.

"He's not a guest like the other one here just now," ob-
served mine host to Olivain, who had rejoined his master to
see if he wanted anything, "and your young master has no

"My master had appetite enough three days ago; but what
can one do? he lost it the day before yesterday."
' And Olivain and the host took their way together towards


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the inn. Olivain, according to the custom of grooms contented
with their places, related to the tavern-keeper all that he thought
he could say about the young gentleman; and Raoul wrote to his
father, after which he felt more composed. He looked around
him to see if Olivain and the host were not watching him,
while he impressed upon the paper, a mute and touching kiss,
which the heart of Athos might easily divine on opening the

During this time Olivain had finished his bottle and had eaten
his pie; the horses also were refreshed. Raoul motioned the
host to approach, threw a crown down on the table, mounted
his horse, and posted his letter at Senlis. The rest that had
been thus afforded to men and horses enabled them to con-
tinue their journey without stopping. At Verberie, Raoul de-
sired Olivain to make some inquiry about the young man who
was preceding them ; he had been observed to pass only three-
quarters of an hour previously, but he was well mounted, as the
tavern-keeper had already said, and rode at a rapid pace.

"Let us try to overtake this gentleman," said Raoul to
Olivain; "like ourselves, he is on his way to join the army,
and may prove agreeable company.**

It was about four o'clock in the afternoon when Raoul ar-
rived at Compiegne; there he dined heartily, and again in-
quired about the young gentleman who was in advance of
them. He had stopped, like Raoul, at the hotel of the Bell
and Bottle, the best at Compiegne, and had started again on
his journey, saying that he should sleep at Noyon.

"Well, let us sleep at Noyon," said Raoul.

Olivain dared offer no opposition to this determination; but
he followed his master grumbling.

"Go on, go on," said he, between his teeth, "expend your
ardor the first day, to-morrow, instead of journeying twenty
miles, you will do ten; the day after to-morrow, five, and in
three days you will be in bed. There you must rest; all these
young people are such braggarts."

It is easy to 'see that Olivain had not been taught in the
school of the Planchets and the Grimauds. Raoul really felt
tired, but d'Artagnan, that man of iron, who seemed to be
made of nerve and muscle only, had struck him with admira-
tion. Therefore, in spite of all Olivain's remarks, he con-
tinued to urge on his steed more and more, and following a
pleasant little path, leading to a ferry, and which he had been
assured shortened the journey by the distance of one league,
he arrived at the summit oi the hill, and perceived the river
flowing before him. A little troop of men on horseback were
waiting on the edge of the stream, ready to embark. But the
rising ground soon deprived him of the sight of the travelers
and when he had again attained a new height, the ferry-boat
had left the shore, and was making for the opposite bank.
Raoul, seeing that he could not arrive in time to cross the


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ferry with the travelers, halted to wait for Olivain. At this
moment a shriek was heard which seemed to come from the
river. Raoul turned towards the side whence the cry had
sounded, and shaded his eyes from the glare of the setting
sun with his hand.

"Olivain r he exclaimed, "what do I see below there?"

A second scream, more piercing than the first, now sounded.

"Oh, sir!" cried Olivain, "the rope which holds the ferry-boat
has broken, and the boat is drifting away. But what do I see
in the water? something struggling.*'

"Oh! yes," exclaimed Raoul, fixing his glance on one point
in the stream, splendidly illumined by the setting sun, "a. horse,
a rider!" . . . . •

"They are sinking!" cried Olivain in his turn.

It was true, and Raoul was convinced that some accident
had happened, and that a man was drowning ; he gave his
horse its head, struck his spurs into its sides, and the animal,
urged on by pain, and feeling that he had space open before him,
bounded over a kind of paling which enclosed the landing-
place, and fell into the river, scattering to a distance waves of
white froth.

"Ah, sir!" cried Olivain, "what are you doing? Good God!"

Raoul was directing his horse towards the unhappy man in

"Leap, coward," cried Raoul, swimming on; then addressing
the traveler, who was struggling twenty yards in advance of
him, "courage, sir," said he, "courage, we are coming to your

"Too late!" murmured the young man, "too late!"

The water passed over his head, and stifled his voice in his

Raoul sprang from his horse, to which he left the charge of
its own preservation, and in three or four strokes was at the
gentleman's side; he seized the horse at once by the curb, and
raised its head above water. The animal then breathed more
freely, and as if he comprehended that they had come to his
aid, redoubled his efforts. Raoul at the same time seized one
of the young man's hands, and placed it on the mane, at which
it grasped with the tenacity of a drowning man. Thus, sure
that the rider would not release his hold, Raoul now only di-
rected his attention to the horse, which he guided to the op-
posite bank, helping it to cut through the water, and encour-
aging it with words.

All at once the horse stumbled against a ridge, and then
placed its foot on the sand.

"Saved!" exclaimed the man with gray hair, who sprang on
land in his turn.

"Saved," mechanically repeated the young gentleman, re-
leasing the mane, and gliding from the saddle into Raoul's
arms. Raoul was but ten yards from the shore; he bore the


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fainting man there, and laying him down on the grass, unfas-
tened the buttons of his collar, and unhooked his doublet. A
moment later the gray-headed man was beside him. Olivain
managed in his turn to land, after crossing himself repeatedly^
and the people in the ferry-boat guided themselves as well as
they were able towards the bank, with the aid of a hook which
chanced to be in the boat.

Thanks to the attention of Raoul, and the man who accom-
panied the young gentleman, the color gradually returned to
the pale cheeks of the dying man, who opened his eyes at first
bewildered, but who soon fixed his glance upon the person who
had saved him.

**Ah! sir," he exclaimed, **it was you I wanted; without you
I was a dead man — thrice dead."

"But one recovers, sir, as you see,** replied Raoul, "and we
shall have had but a bath."

"Oh! my lord Count, what gratitude I feel!" exclaimed the
man with gray hair.

"Ah, there you are, my goo'd d'Arminges, I have given you

Online LibraryAlexandre DumasTwenty years after → online text (page 12 of 38)