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magnificent I have four harriers, which are considered the
sv/iftest in the country, and a pack of hounds which are un-
equalled for twenty leagues round."

And Porthos heaved another sigh.

"But first," interposed d'Artagnan, "you must present me to
Mdme. du VaUon."

A third sigh from Porthos.

"I lost Mdme. two years ago," he said, "and you find me still
in affliction on that account. That was the reason why I left
my Chateau du Vallon, near Corbeil, and came to my estate,
Bradeux. Poor Mdme., her temper was uncertain, but she
came at last to accustom herself to my ways and to understand
my little wishes."

"So you are free now — and rich?"

"Alas!" replied Porthos, "I am a widower, and have forty
thousand francs a year. Let us go to breakfast **

"I shall be happy to do so; the morning air has made me
hungry."

"Yes," said Porthos, "my air is excellent."

They went into the chateau; there was nothing but gilding.
A gilt table ready set out, awaited them.

"You see," said Porthos, "this is my usual style."

"Devil take me!" answered d'Artagnan, "I wish you joy of
it. The king has nothing like this."

"No," answered Porthos; "I hear it said that he is very badly
fed by Cardinal Mazarin. Taste this cutlet, my dear d'Artag-
nan; 'tis off one of my sheep."

"You have very tender mutton, and I wish you joy of it,"
said d'Artagnan.

"Yes, the sheep are fed in my meadows, which are excellent
pasture."

"Give me another cutlet."

"No, try this hare, which I killed yesterday in one of my
warrens."

"Zounds! what a flavor!" cried d'Artagnan; "ah! fed on
thyme only."

"And how do you like my wine?" asked Porthos; *'it is fine,
isn't it?" .

''Capital."



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TWENTY YEARS AFTER. 49

"Home-growth, though, from a slope on the south there,
yielding twenty hogsheads/' But he sighed again, the fifth time,
for his guest kept tally.

''You seem to be snug— what makes you sigh?" '

"My dear fellow," replied Porthos; "to be candid with you,
I am not happy."

"You not happy, Porthos? You, who have a chateau,
meadows, hills, woods-^you who have forty thousand francs a
year — you not happy?"

"My dear friend, all those things I have, but I am alone in
the midst of them."

"Surrounded, I suppose, only by clod-hoppers, with whom
you could not associate."

Porthos turned rather pale, and drank off- a large glass of
wine.

"No; but just think, there are paltry country squires who
have all some title or another, and pretend to go back as far
as Charlemagne, or at least to Hugh Capet. When I first came
here, being the last comer, it was to me to make the first ad-
vances. I made them, but, you know, my dear friend, Mdme.
du Vallon ''

Porthos, in pronouncing these words, seemed to gulp down
something.

"Mdme. du Vallon was of doubtful gentility. She had in her
first marriage (I don't think, d'Artagnan, I am telling you any-
thing new), married a lawyer; they thought that 'sickening^;
you can understand that's a word bad enough to make one
kill thirty thousand men. I have killed two, which has made
people hold their tongues, but has not made me their friend.
So that I have no society — I live alone; I am sick of it— my
mind preys on itself."

D'Artagnan smiled. He now saw where the breastplate was
weak, and prepared the blow.

"But now," he said, "that you are a widower, your wife's
connections cannot injure you."

"Yes, but understand me ; not being of a race of historic fame,
like the de Coucys, who were content to l)e plain sirs, or the
Rohans, who didn't wish to be dukes, all these people, who are
all counts, go before me at church, in all the ceremonies, and
I can say nothing to them. Ah ! if I were merely a "

"A baron, don't you mean?" cried d'Artagnan, finishing his
friend's sentence.

"Ah!" cried Porthos; "would I were but a baron!"

"Well, my friend, I am come to give you this very title,
which you wish for so much."

Porthos gave a jump which shook all the room; two or three
bottles fell and were broken. Mousqueton ran thither, hearing
the noise.

Porthos waved his hand to Mousqueton to pick up the bottles.



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so TWENTY YEARS AFTER.

"I am glad to see," said d'Artagnan, "that you have still
that honest lad with you."

"He's my steward," replied Porthos; "he will never leave mc
Go away now, Mouston."

"So he's called Mouston," thought d'Artagnan. "Mousqueton
is too long a word to pronounce."

"Well," he said aloud, "let us resume our conversation later
— your people may suspect something — there may be spies about.
You can't suppose, Porthos, what I have to say relates to im-
portant matters."

"Devil take them, let us walk in the park," answered Por-
thos, "for the sake of digestion."

"Egad," said d'Artagnan, "the park is like everything else, and
there are as many fish in your pond as rabbits in your warren;
you're a happy man, my friend, but I must frankly tell you that
you must change your mode of life."

"How?"

"Go into harness again, gird on your sword, run after adven-
tures, and leave, as in old times, a little of your fat on the
roadside."

"Ah! hang it!" said Porthos.

"I see you are spoiled, dear friend, you are corpulent, your arm
has no longer that movement of which the late Cardinal's Guards
had so many proofs."

"Ah! my fist is strong enough, I swear," cried Porthos, ex-
tending a hand like a shoulder of mutton.

"Are we then to go to war ? Against whom ?" '

"Are you for Mazarin, or for the princes?"

"I am for no one."

"That is to say you are for us. Well, I tell you that I come
to you from the Cardinal."

This speech was heard by Porthos in the same sense as if it
had still been in the year 1610, and related to the great Cardinal

"Ho ! ho ! what are the wishes of his Eminence ?"

"He wishes to have you in his service. Rochefort has spoken
of you — and since, the Queen — and, to inspire us with con-
fidence, she has even placed in Mazarin's hands that famous
diamond — ^you know about it — ^that I had sold to M. des Es-
sarts, and of which I don't know how she regained possession."

"But it seems to me," said Porthos, "that she ought to give it
back to you."

"So I think," replied d'Artagnan; "but kings and aueens are
strange beings, and have odd fancies; nevertheless, since it is
they who have riches and honors, one is devoted to them."

"'Yes, one is devoted to them," repeated Porthos; "and you,
to whom are ^ou devoted, now?"

"To the King, the Queen, and to the Cardinal; moreover,
I have answered for your devotion also ; for, notwithstanding
your forty thousand francs a year, and, perhaps even for the
very reason that you have forty thousand francs a year, it



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TWENTY YEARS AFTER. 51

seems to me that a little coronet would do well on your car-
riage, hey?"

"Yes, indeed," said Porthos.

"Well, my dear friend, win it — ^it is at the point of our
swords. We shall not interfere with each other — ^your object
is a title; mine money. If I can get enough to rebuild Artagnan,
which my ancestors, impoverished by the Crusades, allowed to
fall into ruins, and to buy thirty acres of land about it, it is all
I wish. I shall retire and die tranquilly there."

"For my part," said Porthos, **I wish to be made a baron."

"You shall be one."

**And have you not seen any of our other friends?"

"Yes, I have seen Aramis."

"And what does he wish? To be a bishop?"

"Aramis," answered d'Artagnan, who did not wish to un-
deceive Porthos, "Aramis, fancy! has become a Jesuit, and lives
like a bear. My offers could not rouse him."

"So much the worse! He was a clever man — and Athos?"

"I have not yet seen him. Do you know where I shall find
him?"

"Near Blois. He is called Bragelonne. Only imagine, my dear
friend. Athos, Who was of as high birth as the Emperor, and
who inherits one estate which gives him the title of count,
what is he to do with all those dignities — Count de la Fere,
Count de Bragelonne?"

"And he has no children with all these titles?"

"Ah !" said Porthos, "I have heard that he had adopted a young
man who resembles him greatly."

'*What, Athos? Our Atiios, who was as virtuous as Scipio?
Have you seen him?"

"No."

"Well, I shall see him to-morrow and tell him about you;
but I am afraid that his liking for wine has aged and de-
graded him."

"Yes, he used to drink a great deal," replied Porthos.

"And then he was older than any of us," added d' Artagnan.

"Some years only. His gravity made him look older."

"Well, then, if we can get Athos, all will be well. If we can-
not, we will do without him. We two are worth a dozen."

"Yes," said Porthos, smiling at the remembrance of his former
exploits; "but we four altogether would be equal to thirty-six;
more especially as you say the work will not be easy. Will it
last long?"

"Two or three years, perhaps."

"So much the better, cried Porthos. "You have no idea,
my friend, how my bones ache since I came here. Sometimes,
on a Sunday, I take a ride in the fields, and on the property of
my neighbors, in order to pick ujp some nice little quarrel, which
I am really in want of, but nothing happens. Either they respect
or they fear me, which is more likely; but they let me trample



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52 TWENTY YEARS AFTER,

down the clover with my dogs, insult and obstruct everyone,
and I come back still more weary and low-spirited — thaf s all.
At any rate, tell me — ^there's more chance of fighting at Paris,
is there not?"

"In that respect, my dear friend, it's delightful. No more
edicts, no more of the Cardinal's Guards, no more bloodhounds.
Underneath a lamp, in an inn, anywhere, they ask, 'Are you one
of the Fronde?' All unsheathe, and that's all that is said.
The Guise killed Coligny in the Place Royale, and nothing was
said of it."

**Well, then, I decide I shall fight heart and soul for Mazarin ;
but he must make me baron."

"Zounds!" said d'Artagnan, "that's settled already. I an-
swer for your barony."

On this promise being given, Porthos, who had never doubted
his friend's assurance, turned back with him to;vard the castle.



CHAPTER XIII.

WHILE POKTHOS WAS DISCONTENTED, MOUSQUETON WAS COM-
PLETELY SATISFIED.

As they turned towards the castle, d'Artagnan thought
of the miseries of poor hmnan nature, always dissatisfied with
what it has, always desirous of what it has not.

In the position of Porthos, d'Artagnan would have been per-
fectly happy, and, to make Porthos contented, there was wanting
— ^what? - -five letters to put before his three names, and a letter
coronet to paint upon the panels of his carriage!

"I shall pass all my life," thought d'Artagnan, "in seeking for
a man who is really contented Vv^ith his lot."

Whilst making this reflection, chance seemed, as it were, to
give him the lie direct. When Porthos had left him to give
some orders, he saw Mousqueton approaching. The face of the
steward, despite one slight shade of care, light as a summer
cloud, seemed one of perfect felicitv.

**Here is what I am looking for, thought d'Artagnan; "but
alas! the poor fellow does not know the purpose for which
I am here."

He then made a sign for Mousqueton to come to him.

"Sir," said the servant, "I have a favor to ask you. Do not
call me 'Mousqueton/ but 'Mouston.' Since I have had the
honor of being my lord's steward, I have taken the last name as
more dignified, and calculated to make my inferiors respect me.
You, sir, know how necessary subordination is in an establish-
ment of servants."

D'Artagnan smiled. Porthos lengthened out his names —
Mousqueton cut his short



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TWENTY YEARS AFTER. S3

**Wcll, my dear Mouston," he said, "rest satisfied. I will
call you Mouston."

"Oh!" cried Mousqueton, reddening with joy; "if you do me,
sir, such an honor, I shall he grateful all my life — 'tis too
much to ask."

D*Artagnan was secretly touched with remorse — not at in-
ducing Porthos to enter into schemes in which his life and
fortune would be in jeopardy — for Porthos, in the title of baron
had his object and reward; but poor Mousqueton, whose only
wish was to be called Houston — was it not cruel to snatch him
from the deUghtful state of peace and plenty in which he
was?

He was thinking on these matters when Porthos summoned
him to dinner.

Whilst desert was on the table the steward came in to con-
sult with his master upon the proceedings of the next day, and
also with regard to the shooting party which had been pro-
posed.

"Tell me Mouston," said Porthos — ^"are my arms in good con-
dition? my military weapons?"

"Yes, my lord — I think so, at any rate."

"Make sure of it; and if they want it, have them rubbed up.
See to the horses. Clean up, or make some one else clean my
arms. Then take pistols with thee and a hunting knife."

"Are we going to travel, my lord?" asked Mousqueton, rather
uneasy.

"Something better still, Mouston.**

**An expedition, sir?" asked the steward, whose roses be-
gan to change into lilies.

**We are going to return to the service, Mouston," replied
Porthos, still trying to restore his moustache to the military
curl that it had lost.

"Into the service— the king's service?" Mousqueton trembled;
even his fat smooth cheeks shook as he spoke, and he looked at
d'Artagnan with an air of reproach; he staggered, and his voice
was almost choked.

"Yes and no. We shall serve in a campaign, seek out all
sorts of adventures ; return, in short, to our former Hfe."

These last words fell on Mousqueton like a thunderbolt. It
was these terrible former days which made the present so delight-
ful; and the blow was so great that he rushed out, overcome,
and forgot to shut the door.

The two friends remained alone to speak of the future, and
to build castles in the air. The good wine which Mousqueton
had placed before them gave to d'Artagnan a perspective shin-
ing with quadruples and pistoles, and showed to Porthos a blue
ribbon and ducal mantle; they were, in fact, asleep on the table
when the servants came to beg them to go to bed.

Mousqueton was, however, a little consoled by d'Artagnan,



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54 fWENtY YEARS APTER.

who the next day told him that in all probability war would
always be carried on in the heart of Paris.

The friends took leave of each other on the very border of
the estate of Pierrefonds, to which Porthos escorted his friend.

"At least," d'Artagnan said to himself, as he took the road to
Villars-Cotterets, "at least I shall not be alone in my undertak-
ing. That devil, Porthos, is a man of immense strength; still,
if Athos joins us, well— we shall be three of us to laugh at
Aramis — that little coxcomb with his good luck."

At Villars-Cotterets he wrote to the Cardinal: —

' *^y Lord,

I have already one man to offer to your Eminence,
and he is well worth twenty. I am just setting out for Blois.
Count de la Fere inhabits the castle of Bragelonne, in the en-
virons of that city."



CHAPTER XIV.

TWO ANGEUC FACES.

The road was long, but the horses upon which d'Artagnan and
Planchet rode had been refreshed in tj^e well-supplied stables
of the Lord of Bracieux; the master and servant rode side by
side, conversing as they went, for d'Artagnan had, by degrees,
thrown off the master, and Planchet had entirely ceased to as-
sume the manners^ of a servant. Planchet was, in truth, no
vulgar companion in these new adventtures; he was a man of
good sense. Without seeking danger, he never shrank from an
attack ; in short, he had been a soldier, and arms ennoble a man ;
it was, therefore, on the footing of friends, that d'Artagnan
and Planchet arrived in the neighborhood of Blois.

Going along, d'Artagnan, shaking his head, said :

"I know that my going to Athos is useless and absurd; but
I owe this step to my old friend, a man who had in him
materials for the most noble and generous of characters."

"Oh, M. Athos was a noble gentleman," said Planchet, "was
he not? Scattering money about him as Heaven scatters hail.

" 'Tis a noble gentleman!"

"Yes, true as Gospel," said d'Artagnan, ''but one single fault
has swallowed up all these fine qualities."

**I remember well," said Planchet— **he was fond o£ drink-
mg.

"And now," replied d'Artagnan, "behold the sad spectacle that
awaits us. We shall find him changed into a bent-down old
man, with red nose, and eyes that water; we shall find him ex-
tended on some lawn, whence he will look at us with a lan-
guid eye, and, perhaps not recognize us. God knows, Planchett



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TWENTY YEARS AFTER. Si

that I should fly from a sight so sad, if I did not wish to show
my respect for the illustrious shadow of what was once the
Count de la Fere, whom we loved so much/'

Planchet shook his head and said nothing.

"And then," resumed d'Artagnan, ''to this decrepitude is
probably added poverty — for he must have neglected the little
that he had, and the dirty scoundrel, Grimaud, more taciturn
than ever, and still more drunken than his master — stay,
Planchet, all this breaks my heart to think- of."

"I fancy myself there, and that I see him staggering and hear
him stammering," said Planchet, in a piteous tone, "but at all
events, we shall soon know the real state of things, for I think
those lofty walls, reddened by the setting sun, are the walls
of Blois."

At this moment one of those heavy ox-carts which carry
the wood cut in the fine forests of the country to the ports
of the Loire, came out of a bye-road full of ruts, and turned
on that which the two horsemen were following. A man
carrying a long goad with which he urged on his slow team,
was walking with the cart.

"Ho! friend," cried Planchet.

"What's your pleasure, gentlemen?" replied the peasant, with
a purity of accent peculiar to the people of that district.

"We are looking for the house of M. de la Fere," said d'Ar-
tagnan.

The peasant took off his hat on hearing this revered name.

"Gentlemen," he said, "the wood that I am carting is his.
I cut it in his copse, and am taking it to the castle."

lyArtagnan determined not to question this man; he did
not wish to hear from another what he had himself said to
Planchet

"The castle," he said to himself; "what castle? Ah, I un-
derstand: Athos is not a man to be thwarted; he has obliged
his peasantry, as Porthos has done his, to call him *my lord,'
and to call his paltry place a castle. He talked tall— our dear
Athos — after drinking."

D'Artagnan, after asking the man the right way, continued
his route, agitated, in spite of himself, at the idea of seeing
once more that singular man whom he had so truly loved,
and who had contributed so much by his advice and example
to his education as a gentleman. He slackened the pace of his
horse, and went on, his head drooping as if in deep thought.

Soon as the road turned, the la Valliere castle appeared in
view, then, a quarter of a mile further, a white house, encir-
cled in sycamores, was visible at the further end of a group
of trees, which spring had powdered with a snow of flowers.

On beholding this house, d'Artagnan, calm as he was in gen-
eral, felt an unusual disturbance within his heart — so powerful
during the whole course of his life were the recollections of his
youth. He proceeded, nevertheless, and came opposite to an iron



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56 TWENTY YEARS AFTER,

gate, ornamented in the taste which marked the works of that
period.

Through the gate were seen kitchen-gardens carefully at-
tended to, a spacious court-yard, in which neighed several horses
held by valets in various liveries, and a carriage drawn by
two horses.

"We are mistaken," said d'Artagnan ; "this cannot b^ the house
of Athos. Good heavens! suppose he is dead, and that this
property now belongs to some one who bears his name. Alight,
Planchet, and inquire, for I confess I have not courage to do
so."

Planchet alighted.

"Thou must add," said d'Artagnan, "that a gentleman who is
passing by wishes to have the honor of paying his respects to
the Count de la Fere, and if thou art satisfied with what thou
hearest, then mention my name!"

Planchet obeyed these instructions. An old servant opened the
door and took in the message which d'Artagnan had ordered
Planchet to deliver, in case that his servant was satisfied that
this was la Fere whom hey sought. Whilst Planchet was stand-
ing on the steps before the house he heard a voice say:

"Well, where is this gentleman, and why do they not bring
him here?"

This voice-^the sound of which ^ reached d'Artagnan — re-
awakened in his heart a thousand sentiments, a thousand remem-
brances that he had forgotten. He sprang hastily from his horse,
while Planchet, with a smile on his lips, was advancing towards
the master of the house.

"But I know him — I know the lad yonder," said Athos» ap-
pearing on the threshold.

"Oh, yes — ^my lord you know me, and I know you. I am
Planchet— Planchet, whom you know well." But the honest
servant could say no more, so much was he overcome by this
unexpected interview.

"What, Planchet, is M. d'Artagnan here?"

"Here I am, my friend, dear Athos!" cried d'Artagnan in a
faltering voice, and almost staggering from agitation.

At these words a visible emotion was expressed on the beau-
tiful countenance and calm features of Athos. He rushed
toward d'Artagnan, with his eyes fixed upon him, and clasped
him in his arms. D'Artagnan, equally moved, pressed him also
close to him, while tears stood m his eyes. Athos then took
him by the hand and led him into the drawing-room, where .there
were several people. Everyone rose.

"I present to you," he said, "the Chevalier d'Artagnan, lieu-
tenant of His Majesty's Musketeers, a devoted friend, and one
of the most excellent and bravest gentlemen that I have ever
known."

D'Artagnan received the compliments of those who were pres-



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TWENTY YEARS AFTER. 57

ent in his own way; and whilst the conversation became general,
he looked earnestly at Athos.

Strange! Athos was scarcely aged at all! His long dark hair,
scattered here and there with grey locks, fell elegantly over his
shoulders with a wavy curl; his voice was still youthful, as if
only twenty-five years old ; and his magnificent teeth, which he
had preserved white and sound, gave an indescribable charm to
his smile. ^

Meanwhile, the guests, seeing that the two friends were long-
ing to be alone, prepared to depart, when a noise of dogs bark-
ing resounded through the court-yard, and many persons said
at the same moment:

"Ah! 'tis Raoul come home."

Athos, as the name of Raoul was pronounced, looked in-
quisitively at d'Artagnan, in order to see if any curiosity was
painted on his face. But' d'Artagnan was still in confusion
and turned round almost mechanically, when a fine young man
of fifteen years of age, dressed simply, but in perfect taste,
entered the room, raising, as he came, his hat, adorned with a
long plume of red feathers.

Nevertheless, d'Artagnan was struck by the appearance of
this new personage. It seemed to explain to him the change in
Athos; a resemblance between the boy and the man explained
the mystery of this regenerated existence. He remained lis-
tening and gazing.

"Here you are home again, Raoul," said the count.

**Yes, sir,** replied the youth, with deep respect, "and I have
performed the commission that you gave me."

"But what's the matter, Raoul?" said Athos, very anxiously.
"You are pale and agitated."

"Sir," replied the young man ; "it is on account of an accident
which has happened to our little neighbor."

"Mdlle. de la Valliere?"

"She was walking with her nurse Marceline, in the place
where the woodmen cut the wood, when, passing on horseback,
I stopped. She saw me also, and in trying to jump from the
end of a pile of wood on which she had mounted, the poor child
fell, and was not able to rise again. She has, I fear, sprained
her ankle, and I come, sir. to ask your advice."

"But where is Mdlle. Louise?" asked the count.

*1 have brought her here, sir, and I have deposited her in the
charge of Charlotte, who, till better advice comes, has put the
foot into iced water."

The guests now all took leave of Athos, excepting the old
Duke de Barb6, who, as an old friend of the family of la Val-
liere, went to see little Louise, and offered to take her to Blois
in his carriage.

"You are right, sir," said Athos. "She will be better with her
mother. As for you, Raoul, I am sure it is your fault; some
giddiness or folly."




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