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leaning, he put it back into the coffer with an involuntary

"It is well, madam; I believe your oath."

"No, no, read," exclaimed the Queen, indignantly; "read, I
command you, for I am resolved everything shall be fmished to-
night and never will I recur to this subject again. Do you
think," she said, with a ghastly smile, "that I shall be inclined to
re-open this coffer to answer any further accusations?"

Mazarin, overcome by this determination read the two let-
ters. In one the Queen asked for the ornaments back again.
This letter had been conveyed by d'Artagnan, and had arrived
in time. The other was that which Laporte had placed in the
hands of the Duke of Buckingham, warning him that he was
about to be assassinated ; this had arrived too late.

"It is well, madam," said Mazarin ; "nothing can be said. to this

"Sir," replied the Queen, closing the coffer, and leaning her
head upon it, "if there is anything to be said, it is that I have
always been ungrateful to the brave men who saved me — ^that
I have given nothing to that gallant officer, d'Artagnan, you
were speaking of just now, but my hand to kiss, and this dia-

As she spoke she extended her beautiful hand to the Car-
dinal, and showed him a superb diamond which sparkled on
her finger.

*Tt appears," she resumed, "that he sold it— he sold it in
order to save me another time — ^to be able to send a messenger
to the duke to warn him of his danger. He sold it to
M. des Essarts, on whose finger I remarked it. I bought it from
him, but it belongs to d'Artagnan. Give it back to him, sir;
and since you have such a man in your service, make him use^


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"And now," added the Queen, her voice broken by her emo-
tion, "have you any other question to ask me?"

"Nothing" — the Cardinal spoke in the most conciliatory man-
ner — "except to beg of you to forgive my unworthy suspicions.
I shall retire, madam ; do you permit me to return ?"

"Yes, to-morrow.**

The Cardinal took the Queen's hand, and pressed it, with an
air of gallantry, to his lips.



When he was alone, he opened the door of the corridor,
and then that of the ante-chamber. There d'Artagnan was
asleep upon a bench.

The Cardinal went up to him, and touched his shoulder.
D'Artagnan started, awakened himself, and, as he awoke, stood
up exactly like a soldier under arms.

"M. d'Artagnan," said the Cardinal, sitting down in an arm-
chair, "you have always seemed to be a brave and an honora-
ble man."

"Possibly," thought d*Artagnan ; '*but he has taken a long time
to let me know his thoughts;" nevertheless, he benf down to the
very ground in gratitude for Mazarin*s compliment

"M. d'Artagnan," continued Mazarin, "you performed sun-
dry exploits in the last reign."

"Your Eminence is too good to remember that. It is true,
I fought with tolerable success."

"I don't speak of your warlike exploits, monsieur," said
Mazarin ; "although they gained you much reputation, they were
surpassed by others."

D'Artagnan pretended astonishment.

"I speak of certain adventures. I speak of the adventure re-
ferring to the Queen — of the diamond studs, of the journey you
made with three of your friends."

"Ha, ho-o!" thought the Gascon; "is this a snare, or not?
Let me be on my guard."

And he assumed a look of stupidity which the finest low
comedians might have envied.

"Bravo," cried Mazarin, "they told me that you were the man
I wanted. Come, let us see what you will do for me!"

"Everything that your Eminence may please to command
me," was the reply.

"You will do for me what you have done for the Queen?"

"Certainly," d'Artagnan said to himself, "he wishes to make
me speak out. But Richelieu could not do that, and this fox
is not near as sharp, devil take him !" but all he said aloud was :
"For a q^een, my lord? I do not follow you."


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"You don't comprehend that I want you and your three
friends to be of use to me?"

••What friends, my lord?"

"Your three friends — ^the friends of former days."

"Of former days, my lord ! In former days I had not only
three friends, I had fifty; at twenty, one calls everyone one's

"Well, sir," returned Mazarin; "prudence is a fine thing, but
to-day you might regret having been too prudent."

"My lord, Pythagoras made his disciples keep silent for five
years, that they might learn to hold their tongues."

"But you have been silent for twenty years, sir. Speak, now,
for the Queen herself releases you from your promise, in token
of which she commanded me to show you this diamond, which
she thinks you know."

And so sapng, Mazarin extended his hand to the officer,
who sighed as he recognized the ring which had been given
to him by the Queen on the night of the ball at the Hotel de

" Tis true. I remember well that diamond."

"You see, then, that I speaH to you in the Queen's name.
Answer me without acting as if you were on the stage— your
interests are concerned in your doing so. Where are your

"I do not know, my lord. We have parted company this long
time; all three have left the service."

"Where can you find them, then?"

"Wherever they are, that's my business."

"Well, your conditions."

"Money, my lord; as much money as what you wish me to
undertake will require."

"The devil! Money! and a large stun!" said Mazarin.
"Richelieu!" thought d'Artagnan, "would have given me five
hundred pistoles in advance."

"You will then be at my service?" asked Mazarin.

"If my friends agree. What are we to do?"

"Make your mind easy; when the time for action comes,
you shall be in full possession of what I require from you;
wait till that time arrives, and find out your friends,"

"My lord, possibly they are not in Paris. I must, perhaps,
make a long journey to find them out. Traveling is dear, and I
am only a poor lieutenant in the Musketeers, and my pay is
three months in arrears; besides, I have been in the service for
twenty-two years, and have accumulated nothing but debts."

Mazarin remained some moments in deep thought, as if he
combated^ with himself ; then, going to a large cupboard closed
with a triple lock, he took from it a bag of silver, and weighing
it twice in his hand before he gave it to d'Artagnan —

"Take this," he said, with a sigh, " 'tis for your journey."


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D'Artagnan bowed, and plunged the bag into the depth of an
immense pocket.

"Well, then, all is settled; you are to set oflF," said the
Cardinal. "Oh, what are the names of your friends?"

"The Count de la Fere, formerly styled Athos; M. du Vallon,
whom we used to call Porthos; the Chevalier d'Herblay — now
the Abbe d*Herblay — ^whom we used to call Aramis "

The Cardinal smiled.

"Younger sons," he said, "who enlisted in the Musketeers
under feigned names in order not to lower their family names.
Long rapiers, but light purses, you know."

"If, God willing, these rapiers should be devoted to the serv-
ice of your Eminence," said d'Artagnan, "I shall venture to
express a wish — ^which is, that, in its turn, the purse of your
Eminence may become light, and theirs heavy — for with these
three men, your Eminence may stir up all Europe, if you like."

"These Gascons," said the Cardinal, laughing, "almost best
the Italians in effrontery."

"At all events," answered d'Artagnan, with a smile sim-
ilar to the Cardinal's, "they beat them when they draw their

He then withdrew, and as he passed into the court-yard
he stopped near a lamp, and dived eagerly into the bag of

"Crown pieces only, silver! I suspected it. Ah, Mazarin!
Mazarin! thou hast no confidence in me! so much the worse
for thee — ^harm may come of it!"

Meanwhile the Cardinal was rubbing his hands in great sat-

"A hundred pistoles! a hundred pistoles! for a hundred pis-
toles I have discovered a secret for which Richelieu would
have paid a thousand crowns: without reckoning the value of
that diamond" — he cast a complacent look at the ring, which he
had kept, instead of restoring it to d'Artagnan — "which is
worth, at least, ten thousand francs."

He returned to his room, and, after depositing the ring in a
casket filled with brilliants of every sort — for the Cardinal was
a connoisseur of precious stones— he called to Bernouin to un-
dress him, regardless of the noises, or of the firing of guns
which continued to resound through Paris, although it was now
nearly midnight


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d'astagnan in his fortieth yeas.

Years have elapsed, many events have happened, alas! since,
in our romance of *The Three Musketeers," we took leave of
d'Artagnan. He had not failed in his career, but circumstances
had been adverse to him. So long as he was surrounded by his
friends, he retained his youth and the poetry of his character.
His was one of those fine, ingenuous natures which assimi-
late themselves easily to the dispositions of others. Athos im-
parted to him his greatness of soul; Porthos, his enthusiasm;
Aramis, his elegance. Had d'Artagnan continued his intimacy
with these three men, he would have become a superior charac-
ter. Athos was the first to leave him, in order that he might re-
tire to a small property which he had inherited near Blois ; Por-
thos, the second, to marry an attorney's wife ; and lastly, Aramis,
the third, to take orders, and become a priest. From that day,
d'Artagnan felt lonely and powerless, without courage to pur-
sue a career in which he could only distinguish himself on con-
dition that each of his three companions should endow him
with one of the gifts which each had received from heaven.

Notwithstanding his commission in the Musketeers, d'Ar-
tagnan felt completely solitary. For a time the delightful re-
membrance of Constance Bonacieux left on his character a
poetic tinge, perishable, and, like all other recollections in the
world, these impressions ^ere, by degrees, effaced. A garrison
life is fatal even to the most aristocratic organizations; and,
imperceptibly, d'Artagnan, always in the camp, always on horse-
back, always in garrison, became a thorough soldier. His early
refinement of character was not only not lost, but was even
greater than ever; but it was now applied to the little, instead
of to the great things of life — to the material condition of the
soldier — comprised under the heads of a good lodging, a good
table, a good hostess. These important advantages d'Artagnan
found to his own taste in the Rue Tiquetonne, at the sign of
the Nannygoat.

At the period of his first stay here, the landlady, a fair,
fresh Fleming, about twenty-five, fell deeply in love with him.
After some pranks in consequence of which the officer had
drawn his sword several times against the jealous husband, this
man had disappeared, forever deserting the home, but selling
some casks of wine surreptitiously and carrying off all the
money and his wife's jewelry. It was given out that he was
dead, and his wife stoutly asserted this, as the idea of widow-
hood was sweet In short, after three years of this connection,
which d'Artagnan had no wish to break, as his hostess and the
lodging became more enjoyable daily, for both were a credit


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to him, the woman had the exorbitant conceit to become
his wife.

"For shame/* retorted he; "to propose bigamy. You can-
not really think of it, my darling."

"But I am quite sure that he is no more."

"He was a very vexatious chap, and will come back on pur-
pose to get us hanged.'*

"No, for you are so skillful and brave that you can kill him
if he turns up."

** Plague on*t, that is only another means of getting hanged."

"So you reject my request?"

"I decidedly do, and with a relish!"

The buxom landlady was heart-broken. She wanted the dash-
ing trooper not only as better-half, but as an idol, he was such
a splendid fellow and had such a killing moustache.

Along in the fourth year of this arrangement, came the ex-
pedition into Franche-Comte, for which d'Artagnan was ap-
pointed to go, and he made his preparations. There was loud
lamentation, ceaseless tears, and solemn promises to remain
faithful forever — ^all these on the hostess's side, of course. The
soldier was too great a nobleman to pledge anything. All he
was thinking of was to add glory to his name. In this con-
nection, d'Artagnan s courage was well known : he risked his body
wastefuUy for his salary, and as he charged at the front of his
company, he caught a bullet through his chest which made him
measure his length upon the battlefield. He was seen to fall
from his charger and not to rise again, so that he was reported
dead, and all those likely to gain by his removal naturally re-
peated at venture that he was slain. But our hero was not the
sort to let himself be killed as easily as this. After having re-
mained in a swoon through the daytime on the field, the night's
coolness revived him, and, gaining a hamlet, he knocked at a cot-
tage door, and it opened to receive him.

Cured, cared for, until in better condition than ever, one fine
morning he set out on the homeward road, and as soon as he
was in the capital, he turned his steps to his former lodgings.

But in his room, the Musketeer found a suit of men's clothes
hanging up, and he thought that the husband had come back.

He questioned of the new waiter and maid, for the mistress
was out for a walk. With the master, they said, so the officer
presumed that the lawful lord had come home, indeed.

**If I had some money," he reasoned, "I should take myself off
—but I must wait and follow the hostess's advice, so as to
baffle this awkward returned spirit."

He was finishing this monologue — a proof that the mono-
logue is the natural resort of great minds in emergencies— when
the maid, peering out at the door, suddenly called : "Here comes
mistress, with the master."

D'Artagnan glanced up the street and beheld at the comer
the landlady waddling along, hanging on the arm of a huge


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Swiss guardsman, who swaggered with airs that pleasantly re-
minded the viewer of his old friend Porthos.

"Is that your master?" muttered the soldier. **It strikes me
he has grown tremendously."

He went and sat down in the large room where he must
meet the eye. On coming in the first, the hostess perceived him
and uttered a faint shriek. Upon this recognition, the officer
arose, ran to her and hussed her on her plump cheek. She
turned pale, and the Swiss started in stupefaction.

"Oh, lord, monsieur, is it you?" she inquired, in the great-
est agitation. "What do you want?"

"I suppose the gentleman is your brother, or your cousin?"
returned the intruder, without departing from the line he had
traced : in pursuance farther of which he flung himself, with-
out waiting for her answer, flat on the Helvetian, who submit-
ted to the hug with utmost placidity.
"Which did you say the man was?"
The only response from the hostess was in sobs.
"What is this Swiss?" demanded d'Artagnan.
"The gentleman intends to marry me," stammered the lady,
between two spasms.
"So your husband is really gone, eh?"
"What pishnessh ish dat of yoursh?" inquired the Swiss.
"A good deal, for the lady cannot marry without my consent,
and I am not going to give it to a Swiss Cheese;" such was the
Musketeer's answer.

The hearer became red as a poppy ; he was in his resplend-
ent uniform, and the speaker was wrapped in a warworn mili-
tary grey cloak: the former was over six feet, and the lat-
ter about five feet; and the Swiss thought he was at home and
the Frenchman an interloper.

"Will you get yourseluf out this of?" challenged the foreigner,
stamping like one who was really angry. ,

"Me ? not a bit of it," replied d'Artagnan.
"Then he must be put out," remarked the waiter, who could
not understand so little a man disputing with so big a one.

"Oh, you begin to keep your place and don't you stir if you
want any ear left on you." So the officer, whose wrath was
also rising, pulled the interrupter's ear. "As for this illus-
tiious descendant of William Tell, he must §o and make
a bundle of his toggery, which is in the way m my rooms,
and go hunt for another house pretty quickly."
The Swiss laughed boisterously.
"Vy should I tepart?" he wanted to be informed.
"I see that you understand French," returned d'Artagnan,
"so come and take a walk with me, and I will explain the rest
of the mystery."

The landlady, who knew that the speaker was a famous
fencer, began to weep and tear her golden locks.


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"Then, if you want him spared, send him off,** said d'Ar-

•*Booh, booh," said the Swiss, who had understood the in-
vitation after time enough, "you mad must be to brobose to
gross swords mit me."

"I am lieutenant of the King's Musketeers, and consequently
your superior in rank," said the Frenchman^ "but I waive all
that since we are only at odds about our billet for the night.
You know the custom to fight for the bed. Come right along,
and whichever returns can have the room."

He dragged away the Swiss in spite of the wailing of the
hostess, who at heart leaned towards her first lover, and yet
was not sorry to have the proud Musketeer given a lesson for
refusing her hand.

It was night when the two adversaries reached the Mont-
martre ditches, where the challenger politely asked the other
to yield him up the room and keep away: but the Swiss shook
his head and drew his sword.

"Then here you shall lie!" said d'Artagnan. "Cursed poor
accommodation, but it is not my fault, and you have brought
it on yourself."

He drew his blade now and crossed that of the foe. He
had a strong wrist to contend with, but his suppleness was
superior to mere force. The Swiss's point never once found
the Musketeer's body, while he received a couple of stabs with-
out feeling them from the cold; but soon loss of blood and the
resulting weakness constrained him to sit down.

"I told you so," commented d'Artagnan; "you have got your-
self into a nice mess by being pigheaded. However, you will
come round in a fortnight. Stay where you are, and I will
send your things here by the tavern-boy. Keep well till we
meet again. By the way, let me recommend the Spinning Cat
tavern, in the Rue Montorgueil, where the cheer is good if
the hostess is not quite as luscious. Fare thee well!"

Returning merrily to the tavern, he did send the man his ap-
parel, the boy_ finding him seated where he was left, stunned by
the coolness of the victor. The hostess, the waiter, and the maid,
showed the latter such esteem as Hercules must have met if
he returned to earth to recommence his Twelve Labors.

"Now, fair Madeleine," said d'Artagnan, when they were
alone, **you ought to have known the distance between a Swiss
and a French nobleman. You have acted like the keeper of a
low-down wine-shop, which is so much the worse for you as
your conduct loses you my esteem and my custom. I drive
the Swiss away to humble you; I take myself off because I
cannot dwell where I despise. Hello, boy— carry my valise to
the Hogshead of Love tavern. Rue des Bourdonnais. Good
lo^e, madam."

In thus speaking, he was majestic and affectionate withal,
so that the woman had to drop at his feet, beg for pardon, and


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retain him with gentle violence. Need we say more? the spit
turned laden with roast meat-^he fiying-pan sputtered-nthe
penitent Madeleine wept — ^the returned warrior felt hunger
and cold — and love re-awoke in him: he forgave, and he

Thus it is that Lieutenant d'Artagnan still lodged in the
Nannygoat Inn.



In the evening, after his conversation with Mazarin, he re-
turned to his lodgings, absorbed in reflection. His mind was
full of the fine diamond which he had once called his own, and
which he had seen on the minister's finger that night.

"Should that diamond ever fall into my hands again," such
was his reflection, "I should turn it at once into money; I
should buy, with the proceeds, certain lands around my father's
chateau, which is a pretty place — ^well enough — but with no
land to it at all except a garden about the size of the Cemetery
des Innocents; and I should wait, in all my glory, till some
rich heiress, attracted by my good looks, chose to marry me.
Then I should like to have three sons ; I should make the first a
nobleman, like Athos; the second a good soldier, like Porthos;
the third an excellent abbe, like Aramis. Faith! that would
be a far better life than I lead now; but M. Mazarin is a mean
wretch who won't dispossess himself of his diamond in my

On entering the Rue Tiquetonne he heard a tremendous
noise, and found a dense crowd near the house.

He was told that twenty citizens had attacked a carriage
which was escorted by a troop of the Cardinal's bodyguard;
but a reinforcement having come up, the assailants had been
put to flight, and the leader had taken refuge in the hotel next
to his lodgings; the house was now being searched.

In his youth, d'Artagnan had often headed the bourgeoisie
against the military, but he was cured of all those hot-headed
propensities; besides, he had the Cardinal's hundred pistoles in
his pocket; so he went into the hotel without saying a word;
he found Madeleine alarmed for his safety, and anxious to tell
him all the events of the evening, but he cut her short by
ordering her to put his supper in his room, and to give him
with it a bottle of good Burgundy.

He took his key and his candle, and went upstairs to his
bedroom. He had been contented, for the convenience of
the house, to lodge on the fourth story; and truth obliges us
.even to confess that his chamber was just above the gutter


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and below the roof. His first care in entering it was to lock up,
in an old bureau with a new lock, his bag of money, and then as
soon as supper was ready, he sent away the waiter who brought
it up, and sat down to table.

Not to reflect on what had passed, as one might fancy.
No — d'Artagnan considered that things are never well done
when they are not reserved to their proper time. He was hungry;
he supped, he went to bed. Neither was he one of those who
think that the silence of the night brings good counsel with it.
In the night he slept, but in the morning, refreshed and calm,
he was inspired with the clearest views of everything. It was
long since he had had any reason for his morning's inspiration,
but he had always slept all night long. At daybreak he awoke,
and made a turn round his room.

"In '43," he said, "just before the death of the late Cardinal, I
received a letter from Athos. Where was I then? Let me see.
Oh! at the siege of Besangon! I was in the trenches. He
told me — let me think — ^what was it? That he was living on
a small estate — ^but where? I was just reading the name of the
place when the wind blew my letter away — I suppose to the
Spaniards; there's no use in thinking any more about Athos.
Let me see, — ^with regard to Porthos, I received a letter
from him, too. He invited me to a hunting party on his property
in the month of September, 1646. Unluckily, as I was then in
Beam, on account of my father's death, the letter followed me
there. I had left Beam when it arrived, and I never received it
until the month of April, 1647; and as the invitation was for
September, 1646, I couldn't accept it Let me look for this
letter; it must be with my title-deeds."

D'Artagnan opened an old casket, which stood in a corner of
the room, and which was full of parchments, referring to an
estate, during a period of two hundred years lost to his fam-
ily. He uttered an exclamation of delight, for the large hand-
writing of Porthos was discernable, and beneath it some lines
traced by his worthy spouse.

D'Artagnan eagerly searched for the date of this letter;
it was dated from the Chateau du Vallon.

Porthos had forgotten that any other address was neces-
sary; in his pride he fancied that everyone must know the
Chateau du Vallon.

"Devil take the vain fellow," said d Artagnan. "However,
I had better find him out first, since he can't want money.
Athos must have become an idiot by this time from drinking.

Online LibraryAlexandre DumasTwenty years after → online text (page 3 of 38)