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me how the devil did you manage to light upon the back of
Planchefs horse?"

"Eh ! faith !" answered Aramis, "as you see^ from Heaven."

"From Heaven !" replied d*Artagnan, shaking his head ;^ "you
have no more the appearance of coming from thence than you
have of going there."

"My friend," said Aramis, with a look of conceit on his face
which d'Artagnan had never observed whilst he was in the
Musketeers, "if I did not come from Heaven, at least I was leav-
ing paradise, which is almost the same."

"Here, then, is a puzzle for the learned," observed d'Artag-
nan; "until now they have never been able to agree as to the
situation of paradise, which is at Noisy, upon the site of the
archbishop's place. People do not go out from it by the door
but by the window; one doesn't descend here by the marble
steps of a peristyle, but by the branches of a lime tree ; and the
angel with a flaming sword who guards this elysium, seems to
have changed his celestial name of Gabriel into that of the
more terrestrial one of Prince de Marsillac."

Aramis burst into a fit of laughter.

"You were always a merry companion, my d'^^r d'Artagnan,"
he said, "and your witt3r Gascon fancy has not deserted you.
Yes, there is something in what you say; nevertheless, do not


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believe that it is Mdme. de LongueviUe with whom I am in

"A plague on't I I shall not do so. After having been so long in
love with Mdme. de Chcvreuse, you would not lay your heart at
the feet of her mortal enemy !"

"Yes," replied Aramis, with an absent air, **yts, that poor
duchess! I once loved her much, and, to do her justice, she
was very useful to us. Eventually she was obliged to leave
France. He was a relentless enemy, that confoimded Cardinal,**
continued Aramis, glancing at the portrait of the old minister.
**He had even given orders to arrest her, and would have cut
off her head, had she not escaped with her waiting-maid — poor
Kitty ! The duchess escaped in man's clothes, and a couplet was
made upon her*'— and Aramis hummed:

"We do not ride as well as you.

Who in the regiment appear
To bear right manfully the spear.

As well as any trooper true.**

"Bravo r cried d'Artagnan, "you sing charmingly, dear Ara-
mis. I do not perceive that smging masses has altered your

**My dear d'Artagnan," replied Aramis, •*you understand,
when I was a Musketeer, I mounted guard as seldom as I could ;
now, when I am abbe, I say as few masses as I can. But
to return to our duchess."

**Which? Chevreuse or LongueviUe?"

**Have I not already told you that there is nothing between
me and the Duchess de LongueviUe? little flirtations, perhaps,
and that's all. No, I spoke of the Duchess de Chevreuse; did
you see her after her return from Brussels, after the King's

"Yes, she is stiU beautiful"

"Yes," said Aramis, "I saw her also at that time, I gave her
good advice, by which she did not profit I ventured to tell her
tnat Mazarin was the lover of Anne of Austria. She wouldn't
believe me, saying, that she knew Anne of Austria, who was
too proud to love such a worthless coxcomb. She since plunged
into the cabal headed by the Duke of Beaufort; and the rogue
arrested de Beaufort, and banished Mdme. de Chevreuse."

'You know," resumed d'Artagnan, "that she has had leave
to return to France?"

'Yes, she is come back, and is going to commit some fresh
folly or another ; she is much changed."

"In that respect unlike you, my dear Aramis, for you are still
the same.'*

"Yes," replied Aramis, "I have to be extremely careful of
my appearance. Do you know that I am Rowing oldj I an>
nearly thirty-sev^n,"


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"Mind, Aramis*'— d'Artagnan smiled as he spoke — "since we
are together again, let us agree on one point, what age shall we
be in future? I was your junior by two or three years, and,
if I am not mistaken, I am turned forty."

"Indeed ! Then *tis I who am mistaken, for you have always
been a good chronologist. By your reckoning I must be forty-
three, at least. Don't let it out, it would ruin me," replied the

"Don't be afraid, I shall not," said d'Artagnan.

"And now let us go to supper," said Aramis, seeing that
Bazin had returned and prepared the table.

The two friends sat down and Aramis began to cut up fowls,
partridges, and hams with admirable skill. '

"The deuce 1" cried d'Artagnan; "do you live in this way al-
ways ?"

"Yes, pretty well. The Coadjutor has given me dispensations
from fasting on account of my health; then I have engaged as
in3r cook the cook who lived with Lafollome, — ^the famous

"If it be not an indelicate question," resumed d'Artagnan,
"are you grown rich?"

"Oh, heavens! no. I make about twelve thousand francs a
year, without counting a little benefice which the prince gave

"And how do you make your twelve thousand francs? — ^by
your poems?"

"No, I write sermons, my friend."

''Oh, preach them?"

"No ; I sell them to those of my cloth who wish to become
great orators."

"Ah, indeed! and you have been tempted by the hopes of
reputation yourself?"

"I should, my dear d'Artagnan, have been so, but Nature
said 'No.' When I am in the pulpit if by chance a pretty
woman looks at me, I look at her again; if she smiles, I smile
also. Then I speak at random; instead of preaching about the
torments of hell, I talk of the joys of paradise. An event took
place in the Church of Saint Louis. A gentleman laughed in my
face. 1 stopped short to tell him that he was a fool, the con-
gregation went out to get stones to stone me with, but whilst
they were away, I found means to conciliate those present, so
that my foe was pelted instead of me. 'Tis true that he came
the next morning to my house, thinking that he had to do with
a priest — like other priests."

"And what was the end?"

**We met in the Place Royale — ^Egad, you know about it."

"Was I not your second?" cried d'Artagnan.

"You were — ^you know how I settled the matter!"

"Did he die?"

"J 4on't know, But, at all events, I gave him absolution


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In articulo mortis/ Tis enough to kill the body, without kill-
ing the soul."

A long silence ensued. Aramis was the first to break it.

"What are you thinking of, d'Artagnan?" he began.

**I was thinking, my good friend, that when you were a
Musketeer you turned your thoughts incessantly to the Church,
and now that you are an abbe you are perpetually longing to
be a Musketeer.'*

** 'Tis true; man, as you know," said Aramis, **is a strange
animal, made up of contradictions. Since I became a priest I
dream of nothing but battles. I practice shooting all day long,
with an excellent master whom we have here."

"How! here?"

"Yes, in this convent — ^we have always a 'war instructor* in
a convent of Jesuits."

"Then you would have killed the Prmce de Marsillac if he
had attacked you singly?"

"Certainly," replied Aramis, **or at the head of twenty
bravoes !"

"Well, dear Aramis, you ask me why I have been searching
for you. I sought you in order to offer you a way of killing
M. de Marsillac whenever you please— prince though he may be.
Are you ambitious?"

"As ambitious as Alexander."

"Well, my friend, I bring you the means of being rich, pow-
erful, and free, if you wish. Have you, my dear Aramis,
thought sometimes of those happy days of our youth that wc
passed laughing, and drinking, and fighting each other for

"Certainly — and more than once regretted them — ^*twas a
happy time."

"Well, those happy days may return; I am commissioned to
find out my companions, and I began by you — ^who were the
very soul of our society."

Aramis bowed rather with respect than pleasure at the com-

"To meddle^ in politics," he exclaimed, in a languid voice,
leaning back in his easy chair. "Ah! dear d'Artagnan! see
how regular I live — and how easy I am here. I understand that
Mazarin is, at this very moment, extremely uneasy as to the
state of affairs; he is not a man of genius, as I thought; but
of no origin — once a servant of Cardinal Bentivoglio, and he got
on by intrigue. He is neither a gentleman in manner nor iB
feeling, but a sort of buffoon, a punchinello, a pantaloon. Do
you know him? — ^I do not."

"Hem!" said d'Artagnan, "there is some truth in what you
say, — but you speak of him, not of his party, nor of his re-

"It is true— the queen is for him."

"Something in his favor."


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"But he will never have the king."

"A mere child."

^A child who will be of age in four years. Then he has
neither the parliament nor the people with him— th^ repre-
sent the wealth of tlie coimtry ; nor the nobles, nor the princes —
who are the military power of France ; but perhaps I am wrong
in speaking thus to you, who have evidently a leaning to Maz-

"I !" cried d'Artagnan, "not in the least."

"You spoke of a mission."

"Did I?— I was wrong then— 410, I said what you say— there
is a crisis at hand. Well ! lef s fly the feather before the wind,
let us join to that side to which the wind will carry it, and re-
sume our adventurous life. We were once four valiant knights
— four hearts fondly united; let us unite again, not our hearts,
which have never been severed, but our courage and our fortunes.
Here's a good opportunity for getting something better than a

"You are right, d'Artagnan; I held a similar project, but, as
I have not your faithful and vigorous imagination, the idea was
suggested to me. Every one nowadays wants auxiliaries;
propositions have been made to me, and I confess to you frankly,
that the Coadjutor has made me speak out."

'The Prince de Conti! the Cardinal's enemy?"

"No!— the king's friend."

"But the king will be at the head of the army on Mazarin's

"But his heart will be in the army commanded by the Duke
de Beaufort."

"M. de Beaufort? He is at Vincennes."

"Did I name M. de Beaufort?" said Aramis.

"He or another. Anything may be done, if we can separate
mother and child."

"Never r cried d'Artagnan. "You Aramis, know Anne of
Austria better than I do. Do you think she will ever forget
that her son is her safeguard, her shield, the pledge for her
dignity, for her fortune, for her life? Should she forsake
Mazarin she must join her son, and go over to the prince's
side; but you know better than I do that there are certain
reasons why she can never abandon Mazarin."

"Perhaps you are right," said Aramis thoughtfully; "there-
fore I shall not pledge myself."

"To them, or to us, do you mean, Aramis?"

"To no one.

"I am a priest," resumed Aramis. "What have I to do with
politics? I am not obliged to read any breviary. I have a little
circle of holy and pretty women; everything goes on smoothly;
so certainly, dear friend, I shall not meddle in politics.**

'Well, listen, my dear Aramis," said d'Artagnan; '*your
pliilosophy convinces me, on my honor. I don't know what devil


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of an insect stung me, and made me ambitious. I have a post
by which I live; at the death of M. de Trcville, who is old,
I may be a captain, which is a very pretty position for a poor
Gascon. Instead of running after adventures, I shall accept an
invitation from Porthos; I shall go and shoot on his estate.
Do you know if he has estates, — Porthos?"

"1 should think so, indeed. Ten leagues of wood, of marsh
land and valleys ; he is lord of the hill and the plain, and is now
earning op a suit for his feudal rights against the bishop of

**Good,'' said d'Artagnan to hunself. "That's what I want to
know. Porthos is in Picardy!"

Then aloud, —

"And he has taken his old family name of Vallon?" ^

"To which he adds that of Bradeux — an estate which has
been a barony, by my troth,"

"So that Porthos will be a baron."

'1 don't doubt it The 'Baroness Porthos* will be particularly

And the two friends began to laugh.

"Adieu, then/' And d'Artagnan poured out a glass of wine.

"To old times," he said.

"Yes," returned Aramis. '*Unhappily those times are passed."

"Nonsense! They will return, said d*Artagnan. At all
events, if you want me, remember the Rue Tiquetonne."

"And I shall be at the convent of Jesuits. From six in the
morning to eight at night, come by the door. From eight in the
evening until six in the morning, come by the window. Go then,
my friend," he added, "follow your career; Fortune smiles on
you ; do not let her flee from you. As for me, I remain in my
humility and my indolence. Adieu!"

"Thou liest, subtle one," said d'Artagnan to himself. "Thou
alone, on the contrary, knowest how to choose thy object, and
to gain it stealthily."

The friends embraced. They descended into the plain by the
ladder. Planchet met them close by the shed. I^Artagnan
jumped on his saddle, then the old companions in arms ai^ain
shook hands. D'Artagnan and Planchet spurred on their horses
and took the road to Paris.

But after he had gone about two hundred steps d'Artagnan
stopped short, alighted, threw the bridle of his horse over the
arm of Planchet, and took the pistols from his saddle-bow to
fasten them to his girdle.

"What's the matter?" asked Planchet.

"This is the matter; be he ever so cunning, he shall never
say that I was his dupe. Stand here, don't stir, turn your >ack
to the road, and wait for me."

Having thus spoken, d'Artagnan cleared the ditch hy the
roadside, and crossed the plain so as to wind round the village.
He had observed between the house that Mdme. dc Longue-


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ville inhabited and the convent of Jesuits, an open space sur-
rounded by a hedge.

The moon had now risen and he could see well enough to re-
trace his road.

He reached the hedge, and hid himself behind it; in passing
by the house where the scene which w have related took place,
he remarked that the window was again lighted up, and he was
convinced that Aramis had not yet returned to his o»wn apart-
ment, and that when he did return there, he would not be alone.

In truth, in a few minutes he heard footsteps approaching, and
low whispers.

Close to the hedge the steps stopped.

D'Artagnan knelt down near the thickest part of the hedge.

Two men — ^to the astonishment of d'Artagnan — appeared
shortly: soon, however, his surprise vanished, for he heard the
murmurs of a soft, harmonious voice ; one of these two men was
a woman disguised as a cavalier.

"Oh!" exclaimed the latter.

''What's the matter?" asked Aramis.

"Do jrou not see that the wind has blown off my hat?"

Aramis rushed after the fugitive hat. D*Artagnan took ad-
vantage of the circumstance to find a place in the hedge not so
thick, where his glance could penetrate to the supposed cavalier.
At that instant the moon, inquisitive, perhaps, like d'Artagnan,
came from behind a cloud, and by her light d'Artagnan recog-
nized the large blue eyes, the golden hair, and the classic head
of the Duchess de Longueville.

Aramis returned, laughing; one hat on his head, the other in
his hand ; and he and his companion resumed their walk towards
the convent.

"Good!" said d'Artagnan, rising and brushing his knees;
"now I have thee— thou art a Frondeur, and the lover of Mdme.
de Longueville."



Thanks to what Aramis had told him, d'Artagnan, who knew
already that Porthos called himself du Vallon was now aware
that he styled himself, from his estate, de Bradeux; and that
he was, on account of his estate, engaged in a lawsuit with the
bishop of Noyon.

At -eight o'clock in the morning he and Planchet again left
home for Compiegne.

The morning was beautiful, and in the early spring-time the
birds sang on the trees, and the sunbeams shone through the
misty glades, like curtains of golden gauze.


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lyArtagnan, sick of the closeness of Paris, thought that when
a man had three names of his different estates joined one to
another, he ought to be very happy in such a paradise; then
he shook his head, saying, "If I were Porthos, and d'Artag-
nan came to make to me such a proposition as I am going to
make to him, I know what I should say to it"

As to Planchet, he thought of nolliing.

At the extremity of the wood d'Artagnan perceived the road
which had been described to him : and at the end of the road he
saw the towers of an immense feudal castle.

"Oh ! oh !'' he said, "I fancied this castle belonged to the an-
cient branch of Orleans. Can Porthos have n^otiated for it
with the Duke de Longueville?**

'Taith!" exclaimed Planchet, '^here's land in good condition;
if it belongs to M. Porthos, I shall wish him joy."

"Zounds!" cried d'Artagnan, "don't call him Porthos, or even
du Vallon : call him de Bradeux or de Pierref onds ; thou wilt
ruin my mission otherwise."

As he approached the castle which had first attracted his
eye, d'Artagnan was convinced that it could not be there that
his friend dwelt; the towers, though solid, and as if built yes-
terday, were open and broken.^ One might have fancied that
some giant had broken them with blows from a hatchet.

On arriving at the extremity of the castle, d'Artagnan found
himself overlooking a beautiful valley, in which, at the foot
of a charming little lake, stood several scattered houses, which,
humble in their aspect, and covered, some with tiles and others
with thatch, seemed to acknowledge as their sovereign lord
a pretty castle, built about the beginning of the reign of Henry
IV., and surmounted by some stately weathercocks. D'Artagnan
felt now no doubt of this being the dwelling of Porthos.

The road led straight up to this chateau, which, compared to
its ancestor on the hill, was exactly what a fop would have
been beside a knight in steel armor. D'Artagnan spurred his
horse on and purstied his road, followed by Planchet at the
same pace.

In ten minutes d'Artagnan reached the end of an alley regu-
larly planted with fine poplars, and terminating in an iron gate,
the points and cross bars of which were gilt. In the midst of
this avenue was a grandee dressed in green, and with as much
gilding about him as tne iron gate, riding on a tall horse. On
his right hand and his left were two footmen, with the seams
of their dresses laced. A considerable number of clowns were
assembled, and rendered homap^e to their lord.

"Ah!" said d'Artagnan to himself, "can this be the Seigneur
du Vallon de Bracieux de Pierref onds? Well-a-day! how he
is wrinkled since he has given up the name of Porthos I"

"This cannot be M. Porthos," observed Planchet, replying, as
it were, to his master's thoughts. "M. Porthos was six feet
Wgh: this man is scarcely five."


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"Nevertlieless," said d'Artagnan, "the people are bowing very
low to this person."

As he spoke he rode towards the tall horse — to the man of
importance and his valets. As he approached he seemed to rec-
ognize the features of this individual.

"Lord!" cried Planchet, '*can it be?"

At this exclamation the man on horseback turned slowly and
with a lofty air; and the two travelers could see, displayed
in all their brilliancy, the large eyes, the vermilion visage,
and the eloquent smile of Mousqueton.

It was, indeed, Mousqueton — as fat as a pig, rolling about with
health, puffed out with good living, who, recognizing d'Artagnah,
and acting very differently from the hypocrite Bazin, slipped off
his horse and approached the officer with his hat off ; so that the
homage of the assembled crowd was turned towards this new
sun, which eclipsed the former luminary.

"M. d'Artagnan!" cried Mousqueton, his fat cheeks swelling
out, and his whole frame perspired with joy. "Monsieur! oh!
what joy for my lord and master Du Vallon de Bracieux de
Pierref onds I"

"You good Mousqueton! where is your master?"

"You are on his property."

"But how handsome you are — how fat! how you have pros-
pered and grown stout! D'Artagnan could not restrain his as-
tonishment at the change which good fortune had produced
upon the once famished one.

"Hey? yes, thank God, I am pretty well," said Mousqueton.

"But do you say nothing to friend Planchet?"

"How, my friend Planchet? Planchet, are you there?" cried
Mousqueton, with open arms and eyes full of tears.

"My very self," replied Planchet; "but I wanted first to see
if you were grown proud."

"Proud towards an old friend? never, Planchet!"

"So far so well," answered Planchet, alighting, and extend-
ing his arms to Mousqueton, and the two servants embraced
with an emotion which touched those who were present, and
made them suppose that Planchet was a great lord in disguise,
so greatly did they estimate the position of Mousqueton.

"And now, sir," resumed the latter, when he had rid himself
of Planchet, who had in vain tried to clasp his hands round his
friend's back, "now, sir, allow me to leave you, for I could not
permit my master to hear of your arrival from any one but my-
self; he would never forgive me for not having preceded

"This dear friend," said d'Artagnan, carefully avoiding to ut-
ter either the former name borne by Porthos, or his new one;
"then he has not forgotten me?"

"Forgotten! he!" cried Mousqueton; "there's not a day, sir,
that we don't expect to hear that you were made Marshal."

On d'Artagnan's lips there played one of those rare and melan-


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clioly smiles which seemed to come from fhe depth of his heart ;
the last trace of youth and happiness which had survived disap>

"And you— fellows," resumed Mousqueton, "stay near my
lord, the Count d'Artagnan, and pay him every attention in yout
power, whilst I go to prepare my lord for his visit."

And mounting his horse, Mousqueton rode off down the ave-
nue, on the grass, in an easy gallop.

**Ah! there! — there's something promising," said d'Artagnan.
**No mysteries, no cloak to hide one's self in — no cunning policy
here ; people laugh outright, they weep for joy here, I see noth-
ing but faces a yard broad ; in short, it seems to me that Nature
herself wears a holiday suit, and that the trees, instead of
leaves and flowers, are covered with red and green ribbons, as
on gala days."

**As for me," said Planchet, **I seem to smell, from this place
even, a most delicate smell of roast meat, and to see the
scullions in a row by the hedge, hailing our approach. Ah ! sir,
what a cook must M. Pierrtfonds have, when he was so fond
of eating and drinking, even whilst he was only called M. For-

"Say no more !" cried d'Artagnan. "If the reaKty corresponds
with appearances, I'm lost; for a man so well off will never
change his happy condition ; — ^and I shall fail with him, as I have
already done with Aramis."



D'Artagnan passed through the iron gate, and arrived in
front of the chateau. He aUghted, — as he saw a giant on the
steps. Let us do justice to d'Artagnan, that, independent of
every selfish wish, his heart palpitated with joy when he saw
that tall form and martial demeanor, which recalled to him a
good and brave man.

He ran to Porthos and threw himself into his arms; the
whole body of servants, arranged in a circle at a respectful
distance, looked on with hmnble curiosity. Mousqueton, at the
head of them, wiped his eyes. Porthos put his arm in his

**Ah! how delightful to see you again, dear friend," he cried,
in a voice which was now changed from a baritone into a bass ;
**you've not then forgotten me?"

"Forget you! oh! dear du Vallon, does one forget the hap-
piest days of one's youth— one's dearest friends— the dangers
we have dared together? on the contrary, there is not an hour


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that we have passed together that is not present to my mem-

"Yes, yes/' said Porthos, turning to give his moustache a
curl which it had lost whilst he had been alone. **Yes, we did
some fine things in our time, and we gave that poor Cardinal
some skeins to unravel."

And he heaved a sigh.

"Under any circumstances," he resumed, "you are welcome,
my dear friend; you will help me to recover my spirits; to-
morrow we will hunt the hare on my plain, which is a superb
tract of land, or we'll pursue the deer in my woods, which are

Online LibraryAlexandre DumasTwenty years after → online text (page 5 of 38)